Saturday, June 27, 2015

Chick pea salad

A really simple summer dish which also goes really well with a barbecue is this one:
Dried chick peas are always good to have at home, they don't go bad because they are dried and are easy to cook. If I remember to do this in time, I let them soak in water for one day, then rinse them thoroughly and put them in hot water to cook for about half an hour. If you didn't let them soak it takes a little more time. Remember to put salt only in the end, otherwise your cooking time will increase considerably.
Since I am lucky to always have aragula in my garden - even more than I would wish for - during spring until fall I just have to get outside to get my portion.
The cooked chick peas are combined with the aragula, a couple of cherry tomatoes, mint (from the garden) and seasoned with olive oil, a little lemon and salt.

Yellow beet carpaccio

My inspiration for today came along doing two detours. Listening to a foodie podcast, I arrived at the blog of Bushcook, which I mentioned already in a former post. This time she made a beetroot carpaccio with bottarga.
As usual, I changed the recipe a little bit. First of all, I used yellow beetroot from the farmer's market which has a more delicate taste and doesn't color your hands as the red ones do.
It took me a long time to gather the courage to cook these. At home we never made them, not even during my time working in the catering business. Just having a talk with the vendor at the farmer's market some time ago I decided to prepare them myself. In fact, you get the red ones all the time, already cooked, but the yellow beets seem to be a rather new species. Actually, if you have ever cooked potatoes, it is just the same. Leave them in their peel and cook them with a little salt about 20-30 minutes until they are done. Peel them and cut them into very thin slices. The seasoning I made was lemon, a little salt and olive oil, topping it with grated (organic) orange peel which I stored in my freeze during the winter season. We had had two large boxes of Sicilian oranges in January and all the peel was taken away before using the juice or eating them.
In the end I sprinkled grated bottarga on them. Now this might ask for some logistics. It is called the Sardinian caviar or the roe of the grey mullet. Wikipedia tells me that it is also soldin other European countries and Japan, even Africa and Florida. Since it is dried and lasts very long, you might be lucky to try it. We brought it from Sardinia which is our favorite food shopping region. The taste is very special and for me it doesn't resemble the taste of the usual caviar but is much more earthy and smoky.
Andrew Zimmern, which I like very much, made a great video about food in Sardinia, here is a snippet about bottarga.

On this picture you can see it as well on the bottom left

It has a form like a locust bean

Friday, June 26, 2015


When I had a look at the posts I made already, I noticed that one of the words I use a lot is the word "leftover". In fact, I you cook every day, something remains and there are different ways to handle it. 1. Throw it away (not an option if it is good)
2. Freeze it ( alright if it can be frozen and you have the capacity)
3. Continue to eat until everything is consumed, even if you have to force yourself (not an option)
4. Try to use it in a different way the next day.

Number 4 is the one which will stimulate your fantasy. No number of recipes you can read can cover all the combinations you can come up with if you look in your fridge and your garden, adding something bought in order to create a perfectly new menu.  Maybe next time the dish won't be exactly the same because you don't have this leftover banana or roasted pumpkin but hey - otherwise you might never have tasted it in the first place.

In a place where I worked, the cook told me that many of the guests were asking again and again for this great horseradish cream soup they once had there. The reason - which he couldn't tell them - was simply the fact that he had made a blending of three different dishes the day before. So - he told me - practically we would have to make the identical menus, have leftovers in the same quantities for making this soup the next day. It just won't happen!

If you remember the old days when your grandmother cooked, this is the way dishes were made then and (I hope it for you) everybody can recall the scent of a stew which had been cooking for hours in the morning.
So one of the important things in cooking might be this: Don't use anything your grandmother didn't know. At least I go along with this for anything like processed food. Exotic fruit and vegetables which weren't sold here then, are an exception for me. It is even more interesting to immerse in old cook books and read about herbs and wild vegetables used in former times.

Fried Bananas

When I was in Costa Rica, many times a component of the mixed plate, the "Casado", was a fried banana. It isn't usual here to add fried bananas, but really worth trying. The subtle sweetness combines perfectly with rice and meat. Sometimes you may have a leftover banana at home and before it starts to become brown, just use this recipe and add it to your dinner or eat it as a dessert with a scoop of ice cream.
Again very simple: Fry the banana in a pan with butter or oil,  just a couple of minutes until it has this honey like color, add a couple of chopped nuts - I had leftover Brazil nuts - 5 minutes for a delicious and different taste to your plate.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


One of my favorite podcasts where two people talk about food for more than one hour is always mentioning burgers. In the end I couldn't resist and got myself some minced meat and buns for making a cheese burger.

It is still fast food, even if you make it yourself. Took me about 20 minutes and that is just the same time you need to get out of your house and drive to the burger place to buy it, if you are not actually living over the place, so have a try.

The minced meat is fresh, not one of those frozen patties, cheese is a leftover smoked raclette cheese from winter which I still had in the freezer. Of course you need onions but if you cook regularly you will have that at home as well. Salad is from my salad glut garden.

First cut the onion in small small cubes and roast it in olive oil until they have a glassy appearance, not too much, they mustn't become brown.
In the meantime you form the patties with your hands, as you see they aren't as beautiful as the bought ones and they fall a little apart because I didn't add any egg or flour, I just wanted them natural. If you wish to make them more beautifully formed, you can do this in a different way:
This is what I do when I make my German version of burgers: I put a handful of white bread crumbs in water or milk until they are soft, add an egg and mix it with the raws meat. Doing this you get a more coherent mixture which can be formed more easily.
Put the onions aside and fry the meat, adding a little salt and ground black pepper.

I roasted the buns also for giving them a crispy touch, here I added some ketchup, mustard and the salad leaves

Pickles are a must for me, as you see, the cheese is already melted. I put it in the pan at the end together with the meat for some time. Doing this I recommend to use a coated pan, otherwise the cheese will glue to your pan and not your burger meat, that would be a pity.

Ready, go. I know these buns won't win a beauty contest but the roasted texture was great. 

Fruit smoothie

Have you ever wondered what is inside these fruit smoothies they are selling everywhere now, even in the super market. I do so, too. Actually it is better to make it yourself, you spend less, know what is inside and can use up your leftovers in the fridge or the garden. Plus, it is super healthy and tastes good because you choose your ingredients. You can drink it as plain fruit smoothie or add some yogurt if you like it, add oat flakes ( not the whole grain ones but the ones which would melt) for more substance and you have a wonderful start for the day. If you don't have time in the morning, prepare it the day before and but it in your fridge.

Here we go, in this case I used apricots, peaches, red and black currant from the garden and a banana. Blend it with a hand blender - you don't need to have the most sophisticated kitchen tools, the hand blender is a tool you should have in your kitchen, though, for many purposes and it doesn't cost too much. Mine has at least 10 years now and is still going strong.
(Braun MQ 500 Soup Multiquick 5 Stabmixer)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Avocado hummus

Kevin has a great food blog and this inspired me for the avocado hummus. Practically hummus is a mix of chickpea puree and tahina - a sesame paste with salt and spice. He used chickpeas from a can, already cooked, I used some leftover already cooked chickpeas, left off the garlic as well.
Ingredients: Cooked chickpeas, tahina, avocado, salt, mint.
Procedure: Blend everything, time for preparation - 5 minutes (if you are slow)

Salad glut - green smoothie

I love smoothies, they are a great healthy way to consume some raw vegetables and vitamins. Healthy food always has to be something you like to eat, so add always stuff which tastes good for your taste.

I am still fighting the salad abundance so this of course is part of the smoothie, basil and mint leaves give this special, slightly spicy kick, add a little salt, blend it - that's it.

Second round - salad glut recipe

Last time I went for the soup - thought there would be something left to freeze, but no, all eaten up with different toppings: sour cream, bacon, roasted pumpkin seeds, roasted tomatoes...

Why not do this next time with a variety of different toppings offered in order that everyone can try their own version?

This time I tried a braised version, like spinach - more or less.

Again: olive oil, eschalotts and garlic, heated up, then add lettuce and a little bit of water, salt, nutmeg and let it simmer with little heat until it is done (about 10 minutes)
I added seeds and a little blue cheese (Gorgonzola)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Salad glut and how to fight it - first idea

We have really great salat in the garden, planted some time ago. Unfortunately salads tend to come all at once - and es much as I like salad - they got the better of us. So tonight there will be a new experiment, there was a recipe of a French salad soup on the internet. Soup is always good, especially as it isn't that hot here right now. So this will be the first one to try.

I mean - have a look at this salad field, it is also a pity to let it waste.

Ingredients (I won't put quantities):
olive oil, shallots and garlic, salad, cooked potatoes, salt and nutmeg

 Heat up some olive oil, throw in chopped shallots and garlic

Add the salad

Braise for a couple of minutes (5-10)

I had already cooked potatoes which I added.
Add salt and nutmeg.

Now this is a trick - I had some bacon left in the fridge, put it in a kitchen paper, roll it up and put it for a minute in the micro wave

I comes out really crispy because the lard is soaked up by the paper

Pass the mix of salad, potatoes and spice with a blender, add spoonful of sour 
cream and the cut bacon.
If vegetarian - without bacon, if vegan without bacon and sour  cream.

Preparation time - if you have cooked potatoes: no more than 15 minutes.

You might want to change the taste of it, so try this:
add some grated cheese, make it more hot with chili, vegan: add some roasted pumpkin seeds or sun-dried tomatoes, just try.

The soup is also great for putting into the freezer for a fast meal when you don't have the time to prepare - put some ice cubes in it and eat it cold on a hot summer day.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Glazed carrots

Very simple dish - I nearly always have carrots at home. You find them everywhere, they are cheap and don't get spoiled easily. However, If I see that they don't leave my fridge soon, I peel them, cut them into pieces and put them in the freezer. They are always useful for some soup or stew.

I got inspired by a video from Youtube this time, it is in German but you will understand anyway.
He is using butter in this video instead of olive oil.

My version:

olive oil
1-2 tea spoons of sugar (preferably brown sugar)
1 pinch of slt
(white wine)

Heat up a pan, put olive oil in it, roast the cut carrots together with the sugar, do not heat too much and let them simmer slowly, add the salt and a little wine to taste. It is ready when a small kitchen knife enters easily in the carrots, takes about 10 minutes

Pimientos del padron

Pimientos del padron is a dish I see often in Spain used as one tipe of tapas among many others. I was lucky to get some of these in my local supermarket. The ones I ate in spain were always a kind of "Russian Spicy Roulette": you might eat 5 mild ones of them and then get an extemely spicy one, in fact, that's the fun of it, especially the people's face when they get the spicy surprise.

The ones I got weren't spicy at all, unfortunately, but good all the same.
Fast recipe too:
Heat up some olive oil in a pan and roast the peppers slowly, they may have some darker bits, no problem. Throw in medium sea salt in the end on the peppers. You can eat them hot or cold.

Lime'n'rum shrimps and lentil puree

Bush cook inspired me this time. She wrote about a Caribbean cook book and made a lentil puree and prawns from it.
This the link to her blog post.
I wanted to keep it simpler and had only shrimps in the freezer. So this is the recipe for my lime shrimps:

Grated peel of an organic lime
olive oil
salt to taste
Heat up oil in pan, add the shrimps and the lime peel, salt if necessary.
In the end I added a bit of rum to enhance the Caribbean touch.
Since the shrimps come with the lentil puree I didn't add onions or garlic.

Now the lentil puree:

Put on a pot with olive oil, onions and garlic, medium hot peperoni, when they are glassy, add 2 or 3 cups of red lentils. Every now and then add some water. Bushcook wrote about a vegetable soup she added, I had a vegetable fond in my freezer so I took that and some water.

Cucumber raita my way

I got inspired by this one by a facebook post in one of my Giant Schnauzer groups.
Look at that cute picture:

Isn't that sweet? So I wondered what is a raita? Found out that it is an Indian recipe with cucumbers, yogurt and other ingredients like cumin seeds, garlic, coriander and cayenne.

Here is my raita recipe:
1 cucumber
2 cups of whole-milk yogurt
2 or 3 table spoons of pomegranate seeds
2 table spoons of roasted squash and sunflower seeds
sea salt (always use sea salt!)
Fresh mint leaves

How to:
Roast the seeds in a pan until they have a golden color
Grate the cucumber with a medium vegetable grater
Mix cucumber, yogurt, pomegranate and squash/sunflower seeds and salt
Garnish with chopped mint leaves.
Here we go, enjoy! - I love the crunchy taste of the seeds and the
lemony fresh flavor of the pomegranate with this dish

By the way, had to make my comment to the little dog which inspired me: