12.15.2010

Quinoa Chowder

Quinoa Chowder

Last weekend I wanted to cook something light in anticipation of the heavy feasting later this month. A quinoa chowder from Deborah Madison fit the bill perfectly. The creamy feta is a nice counterpoint to the smoky heat of the chipotle chiles.


Quinoa Chowder with Spinach, Feta and Scallions

Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

Ingredients:

3/4 cup quinoa
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and finely diced *
1 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper
1/2 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
3 cups finely sliced spinach leaves
1/4 pound feta cheese, finely diced
about 6 quarts water, divided

* Used about two chipotles in adobo.

Method:

Simmer the quinoa for 15 minutes in 2 quarts of water. Then drain and reserve the liquid.

In a braising pot, heat the olive oil and add the garlic and chile. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the cumin, a good pinch of salt and the potatoes. Cook briefly without letting the garlic take any colour. Add the quinoa water and top it off to about 6 quarts. Add half the scallions and simmer until the potatoes are tender about 15 minutes. Add the quinoa, spinach and the rest of the scallions and simmer for about 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir
in the feta.

12.08.2010

Bulgur Chile

Bulgur Chile

TacklingBittmanAs you might know if you have been following me for some time, I'm a bit of a fan of Mark Bittman. So when I learned that Sue from Couscous & Consciousness along with Alex from A Moderate Life, Christy from Frugality and Crunchiness with Christy, Dr Laura from Who is Laura? and Chaya from My Sweet and Savoury are hosting a monthly blog event of his recipes, I just had to pour over my copy of How To Cook Everything Vegetarian and look up a new recipe to try. I settled on a bulgur chile, because there was a packet of bulgur sitting in the cupboard, which I had bought just out of curiousity. (somehow this is the way I end up trying something new most of the time)
The chile was nicely spicy, but not too hot. Better cook up a bigger batch while you are at it. It lends itself well to reheating, as the bulgur will not turn mushy over time.

The host of this month's blog hop is Sue from Couscous & Consciousness.

Bulgur Chile

Adapted from How To Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, any colour, cored and diced
2 carrots, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbp tomato paste
about three chipotles in adobo
3 cups tomatoes, chopped (or pomodoro passata)
1 quart vegetable stock or water
salt, black pepper
1 cup fine or medium-grained bulgur
sour cream for garnish

Method:

In a braising pot, heat the oil and sweat the onions. Fry on medium heat until they turn translucent. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, then add the bell pepper and carrot. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tomato paste,let it take some colour and stir in.
Add the chipotles, chopped tomatoes, stock and some salt and black pepper.
Let bubble on low heat for about 30 minutes. Stir in the bulgur and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for about 15 minutes. Garnish and serve.

12.02.2010

Bratwurst

Bratwurst

The latest choice for a foodie-book from the Cook the Books Club was Heat by Bill Buford. I enjoyed reading the book when it came out and just re-read some sections which describe the work in a tuscan butchery.

Making sausage has been on my to-do list since I had read Ratio and Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman, so now was the perfect time to try. To avoid the hassle of filling the ground meat into casings, I wanted to make some cevapcici-like fingerlings and wrap them into caulk fat. Sounded like a good enough plan, but unfortunately I ran into diffculties from the get-go. First, the nozzle of the (new and not-that-cheap) hand-cranked meat grinder was so low, I couldn't use an ice bath but had to catch the meat in a glass casserole. Then the suction cup on the bottom of the meat grinder gave in, which made grinding meat really hard and very time-consuming work. Due to the slow going the fat and meat (predictably) warmed up and began to clog the die. After going through maybe 200 gram of the 1.25 kg total (I used a half-batch of the recipe given below.) I decided to form the ground meat into a fingerling, skip the wrapping in caulk fat and just fry it. The Bratwurst had a nice and hearty taste, but I didn't want to slog on going through all that meat with the half-dead grinder. So I diced some onions and minced a garlic clove to make a bolognese-style stew with the diced meat.

Bolognese-style Goulash Pörkölt

It has been said somewhere, that a food blogger has to take on many varied roles from dish washer to cook to fotographer to food stylist and so on. Among those many tasks also may come the role of Chief of First-Aid Operations. In that role you may want to use a quite moment to ponder one or two questions.

Do you have a First-Aid Kit of some description which has not yet seen its Use-By date?
Is said kit in a place and a state of packaging where you are very, very confident to be able to put it to its intended use with one hand tied to your back?

Just saying.


Fresh Bratwurst

Adapted from Ratio by Michael Ruhlman

Ingredients:

4 pounds pork shoulder, diced
1 pound pork backfat, diced
1.25 ounces kosher salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp ground nutmeg
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1/4 cup chopped marjoram
1/2 cup white wine, chilled

caul fat (optional)

Method:

Mix together all the ingredients except the white wine. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours.
Grind through a small die into a bowl set in ice water. Using a silicone spatula, fold in the wine until fully incorporated. Take off a small sample of the mixture, press it into patty-shape and fry it in a pan. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Divide the mixture into patties or fingerling shapes, wrap in caul fat if using and fry in small batches without overcrowding the pan.

11.30.2010

Sweet Potato Frittata

Sweet Potato Frittata

A classic preparation of hearty ingredients with some creamy goat cheese on top. What's not to like?

Sweet Potato Frittata

Adapted from essen&trinken 12/10

Ingredients:

600 g sweet potato
salt
2 red onions
150 g bacon
200 g goat cheese
3 Tbsp olive oil
8 eggs
pepper
parsley

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Pell and roughly dice the sweet potatoes. Cook in boiling salt water for 10-15 minutes on medium heat. Drain and let cool slightly. Half and slice the onions. Dice the bacon. Cut the goat cheese into half-inch slices. Whisk the eggs with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in large skillet and gently fry the onions until almost tender. Add the bacon and fry until slightly crisp without burning the onions. Stir in the sweet potatoes. Transfer the contents of the skillet to an oven-proof dish. Evenly pour the egg mix into the casserole, place the cheese slices on top and bake for about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

11.21.2010

Peasant Bread

Peasant Bread

I haven't baked bread for quite some time. A pitiful situation which had to be brought to an end. ;) The final kick to get back to making bread came from reading 52 Loaves by William Alexander, which describes the quest of making the perfect loaf by baking the same bread each week for one year. It's a fun read and most home bakers can probably relate to the experiences of the author as gets familiar and tinkers with all the steps necessary to bake bread. (e.g weigh or measure; knead by hand/machine/how long; use steam yes/no/how to generate; is it worth nuke-ing the oven for the perfect loaf?)
The recipe used in the book is a pain de campagne or peasant bread made with sourdough. As I had tossed out my sourdough sometime in the summer, I used a recipe with a pre-ferment. The bread turned out quite well with a nicely chewy crust and small-pored, soft crumb. Definitely a keeper.

I'm sending this to Susan's YeastSpotting.

Peasant Bread

Adapted from Dough by Richard Bertinet

Ingredients:

Pre-ferment

200 g white flour (all-purpose flour/Type 550)
50 g rhye flour (Type 1150)
5 g fresh yeast
5 g salt
175 ml water

Main dough

all of the pre-ferment

500 g white flour (all-purpose flour/Type 550)
100 g rhye flour (Type 1150)
5 g fresh yeast
15 g salt
400 ml water

corn grit (polenta) for dusting the peel

Method:

Mix together all the ingredients of the pre-ferment, cover with cling film a nd leave in the fridge overnight.

The next day, add the pre-ferment and all the other ingredients into a large bowl,and knead into a smooth, elastic dough. Cover with a dish towel and let rise for 1 hour.

Transfer the dough to the countertop and form into a boule. (Flatten the dough slightly into a disk shape and start to fold the rim into the center while rotating the dough on the benchtop, until you end up with a ball-shaped dough with a circular seam on top.)
Transfer the ball into the bowl, cover with a towel and let rise for 1 hour.

Repeat the shaping procedure. Line your bowl (or a proofing basket) with a well-floured towel, transfer the dough into the bowl, cover with a towel and let rise for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 220°C.

Transfer the dough to a peel dusted with polenta and cut a circular slash around the top. Lightly spray the inside of the oven with water. Transfer the dough into the oven and bake for about 40 minutes. The final bread should sound hollow when tapped underneath.

11.12.2010

Quinoa and Talegio with mushrooms

Quinoa and Talegio with mushrooms

A while ago I bought some red quinoa just out of curiosity and finally I found a recipe to try it. It's very rich due to the chesse. The slightly nutty flavour of the quinoa goes well with the earthiness of the mushrooms.

Quinoa and Talegio with mushrooms

Adapted from Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson

Ingredients:

olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup quinoa *
white wine
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp red paprika, ground
250 g mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
black pepper
100 g Talegio cheese, grated or cubed **


* Used red quinoa which seem to require a bit more cooking time.

** Grating Talegio is possible but a bit messy, because the cheese is quite soft.
Depending on the cheese you are using, it could be easier to just dice it. The original recipe uses Crescenza.

Method:

Heat some olive oil in a skillet, add the garlic and onion and fry until the onion turns translucent. Deglaze with some white wine, add the quinoa and salt. Cook until the alcohol has evaporated. Add the water and simmer on low heat with a lid on for about 25 minutes, until the quinoa is tender.

Meanwhile, heat some more olive oil in a skillet, add the red paprika, fry until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and fry on medium-high heat until they turn brown and tender.

Drain any excess liquid from the quinoa and stir in the cheese.

11.06.2010

Fettuccine with braised leeks and mushroom pangrattato

Fettuccine with braised leeks and mushroom pangrattato

Autumn is slowly turning into winter and it was time to try a leek recipe I had bookmarked in the summer. It uses a pangrattato (aka poor man's parmesan) to add some mushroom flavour to the final dish.

Fettuccine with braised leeks and porcini pangrattato

Adapted from Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver

Ingredients:

2 leeks, halved and cut into half-inch slices
olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
white wine
salt
pepper
250 ml vegetable stock
100 g smoked ham

500 g pasta, dried

1/2 cup dried mushrooms
2 stale rolls
1 garlic clove, minced

Method:

Heat the olive oil in a skillet, add the garlic and leeks and cook on medium heat for a few minutes.
Deglaze with the white wine. After the alcohol has cooked off, add the stock. Cover the whole skillet with slices of ham and braise on low heat with a lid on for about 20-25 minutes. Remove the ham, cut it into strips and stir it into the skillet. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook the pasta according to manufacturer's instructions.

Cut the rolls in half, and slice. Blitz the rolls and the mushrooms in a food processor until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Heat some olive oil in a non-stick pan. Add the garlic and the crumbs mixture and fry until golden brown. (This happens quickly, so don't walk away.)
Drain on kitchenpaper.

Drain the pasta and toss with the leeks.
Sprinkle with the pangrattato when serving.

10.29.2010

Pumpkin and Bacon Soup

Pumpkin and Bacon Soup

The weather around here has become quite cool and the mini-series of pumpkin recipes will end (for the time being) with a hearty pumpkin soup. As with most braised dishes, this soup has lots of flavour and gets some fresh overtones from the parsley.

Pumpkin and Bacon Soup

Adapted from Nose to Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson

Ingredients:

1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 leek, cleaned and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
olive oil
300g smoked, streaky bacon, cubed; skin reserved in one piece
1 can tinned tomatoes
400g pumpkin
2 bay leaves
1/2 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 liter vegetable stock
1 liter water, plus more if needed
sea salt
pepper

Method:

In a braising pot, heat some olive oil and fry the onion, leek and garlic on medium-low heat. Don't let them take colour. Add the bacon and the skin. When these have released their fat, add the tomatoes and braise on low heat for about half an hour. Peel the pumpkin and cut into 1-inch cubes. Add the pumpkin to the braise and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the bay leaves, stock and enough water so that you end up with a soupy mixture. Cook until the pumpkin is tender, about half an hour. Remove the bacon skin and bay leaves. Stir in the parsley and add salt and pepper to taste.

10.24.2010

Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin Muffins

Next in line of pumpkin recipes are pumpkin muffins. They are somewhat similar to carot cake and, as you might expect from the cake recipes I posted here, not very sweet (the original recipe calls for 350g of brown sugar). Perfect breakfast fare on a cold, foggy morning in autumn. I think one could easily double the amount of cinnamon and add maybe a touch of nutmeg or ginger.


Pumpkin Muffins

Adapted from Butternut Squash Muffins from Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver

Ingredients:

400g Hokkaido pumpkin, skinned and deseeded
3 1/2 Tbsp honey
4 eggs
pinch of salt
300g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
175 ml olive oil

Method:

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a muffin tray with paper cups. Grate the pumpkin into a bowl on the most coarse side of a box grater. Add the honey and eggs, mix well. Add all the other ingredienst and mix until just combined. Fill the dough into the paper cups and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of them comes out clean.

10.17.2010

Chickpeas with Pumpkin

Chickpeas with Pumpkin

After going for new recipes for the old asparagus and tomato during spring and summer of this year, I wanted to try something new with something new. So for the next couple of weeks I will cook and bake with pumpkin. For a start, here's a pumpkin curry with Indian-style flavours. The original recipe uses fresh chiles instead of dried and I guess next time I would also use fresh ones to give the dish a bit more heat.

Chickpeas with Pumpkin

Adapted from Tender Vol. I by Nigel Slater

Ingredients:

200g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
2 onions, diced
2 Tbsp sunflower oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
thumb-sized piece of ginger, minced
2 tsp ground turmeric
6 green cardamon pods, crushed
2 dried, red chiles
500g pumpkin, peeled and seeded *
250 ml vegetable stock
400 ml coconut milk

* Used Hokkaido.

1 1/2 cup basmati rice

Method:

Drain the chickpeas and boil in unsalted water until tender, about 40 to 50 minutes. Heat the oil in a large skillet and fry the onions on medium-high heat until soft. Add the garlic, turmeric, ginger and cardamons and fry on low heat, stirring constantly, for a couple of minutes. Cut the pumpkin into bize-sized chunks and add those to the skillet. Add the stock and chickpeas, bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer until the pumpkin is tender. Add the coconut milk and let come back to a simmer. Serve with basmati rice.

10.09.2010

Before you know it, ...

your blog will have become two years old. ;)

Last year, while trying to figure out the strie[s/z/tz]el spelling, I came across a recipe for Battenberg cake in Nick Malgieri's A Baker's Tour and bookmarked it. As any birthday party requires cake, now seemed to be the perfect time to give it a try. Instead of baking two separate cakes to assemble into one, I went for Battenberg muffins adding some almond oil to make up for the missing fondant icing. The muffins as such turned out ok, but because the cocoa and vanilla taste gets mixed in bite-sized portions, the cocoa will overpower all other flavours. So I'd say it's not worth the extra work.

Battenberg Muffins


The reason, which got me interested in the recipe in the first place, is that Battenberg is a small village, complete with the ruins of a castle, not too far from where I live. I went there today to get some pictures for this post, but as it was a balmy, sunny day in autumn the place was packed. The only pictures unobstructed by the full car park or loads of other people were from a small watchtower and a hazy glimpse of the Rhine valley.

Battenberg castle

Rhine Valley


Battenberg Muffins

Adapted from the muffin recipe in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman.

Flavour combination for Battenberg Cake from A Baker's Tour by Nick Malgieri.

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp melted butter or neutral oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar, or to taste
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk, plus more if needed

2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 Tbsp home-made vanilla extract
1/2 Tbsp almond oil

Yields about 12 muffins.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a muffin tray with paper cups. In a bowl, mix together flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Beat together the egg, milk and melted butter or oil. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Divide the batter into two bowls, add the cocoa powder to one half and the vanilla extract and almond oil to the other. Spoon two or three alternating layers into the muffin cups. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the muffins are nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of one of them comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before taking them out of the tray.

10.02.2010

Mushroom Pasta Risotto

Mushroom Pasta Risotto

IHCCThe final week of cooking with Mark Bittman has come around at IHCC and what a ride it has been. For the last recipe I chose a risotto-style preparation for pasta. It produced a flavourful dish, but was more work than the usual approach of cooking the pasta and sauce separately. Still this is not a problem if you like to spend your spare time with cooking.

Overall, I found the last six months of cooking with Mark Bittman very instructive. Even though I used "only" recipes from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (which has more to do with the local availibility of cookbooks than anything else), there were lots of recipes, techniques and approaches, which were new to me and to which I will come back in the future. In short, this is the kind of book one should give to his children, when they leave home for college. As the six months drew to a close, I grew a bit worried that Bittman would leave foot steps too big to be filled by somebody else. If there had been a poll about who should be the next chef, I would have nominated Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. But anyway, I'm looking forward to cooking the recipes of Giada de Laurentii.
As a final look back, here is my copy of HTCEV with all the recipes I've made for IHCC, except for the home-made tofu I had planned on making for the cheesy week in September but didn't get around to do. (Note also the removed dust jacket. I only do this with books I use very frequently.)


Cooking pasta like risotto

Adapted from The Minimalist column; November 27, 2009.
(There is also a similar approach for making orzo risotto in HTCEV.)

The techniques of seperately frying the mushrooms first and of adding dried mushrooms to the stock are taken from the mushroom risotto recipe from Cook with Jamie by Jamie Oliver.

Ingredients:

250 ml vegetable stock
300 ml water
10 g dried organic shiitake mushrooms

200 g fresh mushrooms, cleaned and cut into slices
knob of butter

about 3 Tbsp olive oil
250 dried pasta
1 onion, diced
half a glass of white wine

salt

1/2 cup parmesan, grated
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, minced

Method:

In a small pot, add the water, stock and dried mushrooms. Let come to a simmer on low heat.

In a large skillet, melt the butter, add the mushrooms and fry on medium heat until the mushrooms become brown and soft. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat the oil in a medium pot, add the onion and sweat until translucent. Add the wine and let the alcohol cook off. Then add a laddle or two of stock at a time, stirring frequently until the liquid has been absorbed.

The pasta should take more or less the same time as for conventional cooking. When the pasta has reached the desired doneness, add the mushrooms from the stock pot and from the skillet, let briefly come back to temperature. Add salt to taste. Fold in parmesan and parsley.

9.28.2010

Mushroom Stroganoff

Mushroom Stroganoff

Posting has been a bit slow around here due to some weekends trips and a short holiday, but I hope I will get back to at least a weekly post soon. Meanwhile, summer has turned into autumn so how about a nice mushroom dish. You can't go wrong with fresh, fried mushrooms and cream.

Mushroom Stroganoff

Adapted from Mushrooms by John Wright

Ingredients:

400 g mushrooms
1 Tbsp sunflower oil
2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
a large knob of butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
200 ml cream
a squeeze of lemon juice
1 package Spätzle

Method:

Gently clean the mushrooms with a pastry brush and cut into thick slices. Cook the Spätzle according to manufacturer's instructions. In a large skillet, fry the onions in the oil for about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and fry until they turn brown and soft, stirring often. Add the garlic and fry until fragrant. Turn the heat to low, add the cream, salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer until slightly reduced, then add the lemon juice. Serve on top of the Spätzle.

9.16.2010

Potatoes with Tomatoes

Potatoes with Tomatoes

For the current edition of Cook the Books Club I chose yet another dish featuring tomatoes. Visually it's a bit uh.. unpretentious, but it makes up for this on the taste side.

Potatoes with Tomatoes

Adapted from Climbing the Mango Trees by Madhur Jaffrey

Ingredients:

1 pound potatoes
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp whole fennel seeds
1/4 tsp whole fenugreek seeds
3 whole, dried hot chiles
3-4 medium tomatoes, grated
1 1/2 tsp grated, fresh ginger
salt to taste

Method:

Boil and peel the potatoes. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

Heat the oil in a wide skillet and add cumin, fennel, fenugreek and chile. Stir briefly and immediately add the grated tomatoes and ginger. Stir-fry until distinct specks of oil become visible in the skillet. Turn the heat to low and add 350ml water. Add the potato cubes and salt.
Cover and cook for about 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

9.06.2010

Rustic Plum Tart

Rustic Plum Tart

After the underwhelming results from last time, I tried another recipe for a plum tart. It turned out to be right up my alley, as the cake is not very sweet and the plums are on the sour side of tangy.

Rustic Plum Tart

Adapted from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp demerara sugar *
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 large egg, lightly whisked
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound plums, pitted

* Original recipe calls for 3/4 cup sugar.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 9- or 10-inch tart pan. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Then add the egg and butter and, using a fork, work everything into an even dough. Spread the dough onto the bottom of the tart pan and place the plums on top. Bake for about 50 minutes until golden brown.

8.23.2010

5-P Pasta

5-P Pasta

I wanted to postpone trying this pasta dish until the bountiful display of fresh produce at the green market had died down, but as I recently didn't have the time to visit said market (for some reason or another), now seemed as good a time as any. The dish (or rather the sauce, otherwise it would be a 6-P pasta ;) ) derives it's name from the Italian names of the main ingredients: tomato (pomodoro), cream (panna), parmesan (parmegiano), parsley (prezzemolo) and pepper (pepe). It's definitely a keeper, but probably only as a special treat due to the generous amount of cream (remember, any fat in a dish which you can see, is not bad for you) .

5-P Pasta

Adapted from Cinque Pi from No Kitchen for Old Men

Ingredients:

1/2 pound pasta
1 Tbsp tomato paste
3/4 cup cream
1 cup parmesan, grated
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
black pepper, freshly grated
nutmeg
salt

Method:

Cook the pasta according to manufacturer's instructions.
Meanwhile, roast the tomato paste in a skillet for two minutes or so, then deglaze with the cream. Let the cream come to a simmer and add the parmesan, stir until the parmesan has melted. Add some pepper, a dash of nutmeg and salt to taste. Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce.

8.15.2010

Paella with Tomatoes

Paella with Tomatoes

IHCCPotluck-time has come around again at IHCC, and I went for a tomato paella to make good use of the waning tomato season. The paella turned out really well with lots of flavour from the smoked paprika and the juicy tomato wedges. An easy to make recipe which will surely be a crowd-pleaser.
The picture above is a bit under the weather so to speak, as it has been a very cloudy day with difficult lighting conditions.



Paella with Tomatoes

Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
1 pound ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into thick wedges
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
large pinch saffron threads (optional) *
2 tsp smoked or other paprika
2 cups short-grain white rice **
minced parsley for garnish

* Omitted.
** I used sushi rice.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 450°F/200°C. Bring the stock or water almost to a boil. Toss the tomatoes with a little oil, salt and pepper and set aside.

Drizzle the rest of the olive oil into a large skillet and set on medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, salt and pepper and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, saffron and paprika and cook for another minute. Add the rice and stir until it's been thorougly moistened.
Add the stock and stir to combine.

Transfer the (at this stage very soupy) rice mixture into a casserole. (If you have a skillet with an oven-proof handle or even a real paella pan, omitt this step.) Place the tomatoes on top and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes. When the rice has soaked up all the liquid, remove from the oven and set aside for about 5 minutes to cool. Sprinkle with the minced parsley.

8.11.2010

Dry-fried Green Beans

Dry-fried Green Beans

I made his dish some time ago, when fresh beans were first appearing in the market. The different flavours of ginger, chiles and beans blend together very well. This is a nice variation to the classic beans with savory.

Dry-fried Green Beans


Source: Land of Plenty by Fuchsia Dunlop

Ingredients:

10 ounces haricots verts or green beans
2 scallions, white parts only
peanut oil
8 dried chiles, snipped in half, preferably Sichuanese
1/2 tsp Sichuan pepper
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced and an
equivalent amount of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
salt to taste

Method:

De-string the beans and cut into 2-inch pieces. Cut the scallions into 1 1/2-inch pieces.

In a wok or deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over a medium-low heat. Add the beans and stir-fry over a medium flame for about 6 minutes, until they are cooked and tender with slightly puckered skins. Remove and set aside.

Add 2 tablespoons fresh oil in the wok or skillet over high heat. Add the chiles and Sichuan pepper and stir-fry very briefly until they are fragrant. Quickly add the garlic, ginger, and scallions and stir-fry until they are all fragrant. Add the beans and stir the ingredients together, adding salt to taste. Serve.

8.08.2010

Redcurrant Granita

Redcurrant Granita

Here's just a quick granita to use up the summer bounty of berries. It's quite tart, but that's what makes it so refreshing.

Redcurrant Granita

Adapted from Raspberry Granita from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Ingredients:

4 cups (500 g) redcurrants
1 cup (250 ml) water
1/4 cup (50 g) sugar

Method:

Blitz the redcurrants with an immersion blender. Strain through a sieve. Add the water, whisk in the sugar. Kepp whisking until the sugar dissolves completely. Pour the mixture into a shallow container and place in the freezer.
Every half-hour, take a fork and remove the newly formed ice crystals from the edge of the container. Whisk briefly to fluff up the ice crystals in the middle of the container.

8.03.2010

Plum-Blueberry Cake

Plum-Blueberry Cake

It's the middle of summer, so there's no way around making a plum cake. Instead of sticking to the tried and tested, I went for a new recipe but ended up with somewhat mixed results.
First, this is originally intended to be served as an upside-down cake. But with the brown sugar mixture getting turned into a brown-bluish, sticky slush by the fruit juices flowing down during baking (you can actually see a nice gradient of the juice distribution in the picture above) this was not a pretty sight, so I turned the cake back right-side up.
Second, the sweetness of the brown sugar mixture will almost cover up any fruity taste of the plums and berries, so I scraped it off.
What I liked about this cake was the light, spongy cake structure, when eaten while still warm (as recommended by the recipe). I might try this again without the brown sugar in the bottom as an apple-cinnamon cake.
One thing, which seems to be an actual error in the recipe, is the number of plums used. To end up with one pound of plums, I had to use about thirty. Maybe that number should read 26 to 28.

Maybe there are different kinds of plums but the ones around here are about the size of a golf ball or to put it another way a little taller than a standard Lego figurine. Speaking of which.

Don't have a macro lense for your camera?
Just bake a bigger cake.


See, I've recently upgraded my camera from a Fuji FinePix bridge camera to a Pentax k-x DSLR. Before settling on a specific camera, I 've been browsing through some photography blogs to check out opinions on the current models on the market and stumbled on a LEGO a day. A blog where Dan, amateur photographer and school teacher, published one funny/quirky picture of a Lego figurine in a real life environment per day for one year from 2008 to 2009. Now after a one-year break, he's started another year of daily pictures. Maybe you'd like to head over and take a look.


Plum-Blueberry Upside-Down Cake

Adapted from Ready for Dessert by David Lebovitz

Ingredients:

Topping:

3 Tbsp (45 g) butter
3/4 cuo (170 g) packed light brown sugar
1 1/4 cups (170 g) blueberries
6 to 8 plums (450 g) halved, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch slices

Cake:

1 1/2 cup (210 g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup (125 ml) whole milk, at room temperature

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C. Line a 28 cm spring form with parchment paper. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, add the brown sugar and mix until completely moistened. Set aside to cool.

Spread the butter mixture evenly onto the bottom of the spring form. Sprinkle half of the blueberries on top, then add the plum slices in an even layer and finally sprinkle on the rest of the blueberries.

In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until they become white and increase slightly in volume. Fold in the vanilla and eggs. Add half of the flour and all of the salt and baking powder and fold in. Add the milk, fold in. Then add the rest of the flour and fold in. The result will be more like a batter than a cake dough. Pour the batter into the spring form and give it a little tap, so it settles in evenly. Bake for about an hour and a wooden skewer comes out clean.

Set on a wire rack to cool.

7.30.2010

Tomato Salad, Ethiopian Style

Tomato Salad, Ethiopian Style

IHCCThis week it's all about raw food at IHCC and in keeping with the idea of trying new tomato recipes I chose an Ethiopian Style Tomato Salad. It's super-simple to make and tastes great. Next time I will halve the amount of chile for a more balanced flavour. Chilling the salad for half an hour gives you the perfect time-slot to have a beer and fry up some Bratwürste.

And what's more, Ethiopia is the current theme at Joanne's Regional Recipes, so I can send this one over to her .


Tomato Salad, Ethiopian Style

Source: How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup minced red onion
1 Tbsp minced jalapeno chile, or more or less to taste
1 tsp ground turmeric (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large tomatoes, cored and coarsly chopped

Method:

Put the lemon juice, onion, jalapeno and turmeric into a medium serving bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Add the tomatoes and toss to coat.

Chill for up to 30 minutes, then taste and adjust the seasoning and serve.

7.25.2010

Whey Bread & Yoghurt Cheese

Whey Bread & Yoghurt Cheese

forgingfromageThe latest assignment at forging fromage is yoghurt cheese, which is just plain yoghurt strained overnight. This will thicken the yoghurt and increase its tangy flavour. I stirred a bunch of finely chopped chives into the yoghurt cheese, which made for a great spread for dinner on a hot summer day.

One pound of yoghurt yielded just the 150 grams of whey to make a half-batch of whey bread. The dough didn't rise very much, but that was probably due to the fresh yeast sitting in my fridge for a week or two past its sell-by date and being not that fresh anymore. The bread has a subtle sweetness which would work well with some honey or jam after toasting.


I'm sending this to Susan's YeastSpotting.


Whey Bread with Butter and Honey

Source: The Handmade Loaf by Dan Lepard

Ingredients:

1 1/2 tsp fresh yeast, crumbled
300 g whey
50 g honey
500 g strong white flour
1 1/4 tsp fine seas salt
50 g softened butter

Method:

In a bowl whisk the yeast with the whey and honey. Stir in 250 g flour and the salt, and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes, to make a yeast batter.

Meanwhile, rub the butter into the remaining 250 g flour,until it is evenly incorporated and the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Stir in the yeast batter after its 30 minute rest, and mix together until you have a soft dough. Scrape any remaining dough from your hands, cover the bowl and leave for 10 minutes. Rub 1 tsp of corn or olive oil on the work-surface and knead the dough for 10 seconds, ending with the dough in a smooth, round ball. Wipe the bowl clean and rub with 1 tsp oil, return the dough to it, cover and leave for 10 minutes. Repeat this light kneading twice more, at 10 minute intervals, then leave the dough for 30 minutes.

At this stage the dough should be soft and elastic, with air bubbles starting to show as blisters on the outer surface. A quick, small cut through the surface of the dough should show a network of air bubbles created by the yeast. Shape the dough into a ball, and place it smooth-side down into a flour-dusted cloth. Leave in a cool place (20-24°C) for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7. Upturn the dough on to a flour-dusted baking tray, then gently spray the outside of the dough with water. Place the tray in the centre of the oven and bake for 50 minutes, or until the loaf is a good brown colour and light in weight. Cool on a wire rack.

7.24.2010

Grilled Tomatoes and Scrambled Eggs, Chinese Style

Grilled Tomatoes and Scrambled Eggs, Chinese Style

IHCCI wanted to try something new with tomatoes, which are still in full season, and settled for a Chinese style recipe. As I don't have a grill, I just fried the tomato slices in a pan without removing the skins (which, with hindsight, was a mistake :) ). The final dish tasted good, but I'm not sure if I will make this again, as the sesame oil dominates the other flavours and doesn't let the full-ripe tomatoes stand out. Maybe this would change, if you actually grilled the tomatoes.


Grilled Tomatoes and Scrambled Eggs, Chinese Style


Source: How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

Ingredients:

3 or 4 ripe tomatoes
2 Tbsp dark sesame oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp neutral oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
6 eggs
2 tsp soy sauce, or to taste
1/4 cup minced scallion (optional)

Method:

Heat a charcoal or gas grill until moderately hot and put the rack about 4 inches from the heat source. Core the tomatoes and cut each into 3 or 4 thick slices. Brush them with half of the sesame oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the tomatoes, turning once, until they are soft but not mushy, about 5 minutes; you should be able to lift them from the grill with a spatula
without their falling apart, but only barely. As they cook, use tongs to remove and discard the skins.

While the tomatoes are cooling, put the neutral oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick or cast iron, over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook just until they sizzle, about a minute.

Beat together the tomatoes and the eggs. Add the tomato-egg mixture to the pan and cook, stirring almost constantly, until the mixture forms soft curds, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining sesame oil and the soy sauce. Garnish with the scallion if you like and serve.

7.19.2010

Grilled Tofu and Soba Noodles

Grilled Tofu and Soba Noodles

Here's another noodle dish suitable for summer, this time featuring buckwheat soba noodles. The soba are topped with a cold but spicy-hot condiment sauce and tofu cubes. The tofu is fried in a little oil and thereby gets a slightly crunchy texture, like toasted bread.



Grilled Tofu and Soba Noodles

Source: Grilled Tofu and Soba Noodles by Heidi Swanson

Ingredients:

12 oz / 340g dried soba noodles
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus a bit more for the tofu

16 oz / 450g extra-firm tofu, drained and patted dry

3 medium cloves garlic
scant 3/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
3 small/medium shallots
3 small serrano peppers, minced
1 bunch (about 4 handfuls) of cilantro, stems trimmed
1 tsp natural cane sugar (or brown sugar)
2 tsp fresh lime juice
3/4 cup / 180 ml extra-virgin olive oil

Method:

Cook the soba noodles according to package instructions. Drain, run under cold water for a minute, shake of as much extra water as possible, then toss well with the olive oil.

In a food processor blitz the garlic and salt into a paste. Add all the other ingredients in small batches. At the end, adjust the taste as needed.

Lightly brush a skillet with olive oil. Add the diced tofu and fry on medium heat until golden brown on all sides.

7.14.2010

Washoku Warriors - Chilled Noodles

Chilled Chinese Noodle Salad

In the sweltering summer heat, the Washoku Warriors are trying to keep cool with some chilled noodle dishes. I went for a Chinese noodle salad, made with somen noodles and a clear dressing of rice vinegar, soy sauce sesame oil and a dash of sugar. I kept the toppings simple with just some finely sliced cucumber and a thin omelet. The omelet is flavoured with some sake and turned out rather nice (but not pretty). Definitely better than some omelets I've had in Asian restaurants.

7.11.2010

Bacon Bean Burgers

Bacon Bean Burger with Dill-Yoghurt Sauce

IHCCEverything is better with bacon and what would be easier to prove that statement, than to make some bean burgers with bacon. ;) Those burgers were really good, but they definitely need some sauce or condiment. Next time I would use 2 eggs instead of one. For the Dill-Yoghurt Sauce I used some thin yoghurt and stirred in some dill, salt and pepper.


Bacon Bean Burgers

Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

Ingredients:

200g smoked bacon, diced
1 14-ounce can white beans, drained
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup rolled oats (preferably not instant)
1 Tbsp chili powder or spice mix of your choice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg
Bean-cooking liquid, stock or other liquid, if necessary

Method:

Put a large skillet onto medium heat, add the bacon and fry for a couple of minutes until crispy.
Remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon into a large bowl and let cool slightly. In a food processor, pulse the beans until chunky. Add the beans and all other ingredients except for the liquid to the bacon. Fold in and mix with a spatula into a moist but not wet dough, adding a little liquid if necessary. Let the mixture rest for a few minutes.

With wet hands, shape into whatever size patties you want and again let rest for a few minutes.
If the bacon didn't render much fat, add a little neutral oil into the skillet, swirl around and turn the heat to medium. A minute later, add the patties. Cook until nicely browned on one side, about 5 minutes; turn carefully and cook on the other side until firm and browned.

7.02.2010

Cherry Yoghurt Muffins

Cherry Yoghurt Muffins

IHCCIt's all about portable food this week at IHCC, with everyone contributing to a giant picnic basket. I went for yoghurt muffins with fresh cherries. Those ended up with quite a rustic look (there was only one with a single cherry sitting right in the center) but were really tasty nonetheless. The gingerbread-y taste of the mascobado sugar went well with the sour tang of the cherries. You need to watch out to not overbake the muffins. Mine were alright (after 26 minutes) due to the cherries, but if you got a bite without a cherry in it, the dough was a bit dry.


Cherry Yoghurt Muffins

Below is the recipe for yoghurt muffins, I've added the amounts for standard muffins in curly brackets.

Source: How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp melted butter or neutral oil {3 Tbsp}
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar, or to taste *
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder {3 tsp}
1/2 tsp baking soda {omit this}
1 egg
1 1/4 cup yoghurt or sour cream {1 cup milk}, plus more if needed

1 pound cherries, stems and stones removed

* Used mascobado sugar.

Yields about 18 muffins. The standard recipe yields 12 muffins.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin or line it with papper or foil muffin cups. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Beat together the egg, yoghurt and melted butter or oil.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it. Add the cherries. Using a large spoon or rubber spatula, combine the ingredients swiftly, stirring and folding rather than beating and stopping as soon as all the dry ingredients are moistened. The batter should be lumpy, not smooth, and thick but quite moist; add a little more yoghurt or other liquid if necessary.
Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling them about two-thirds full and handling the batter as little as possible. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the muffins are nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of one of them comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before taking them out of the tin. Serve warm.

6.27.2010

Waffles with Ginger-Applesauce

Waffles with Ginger-Applesauce

IHCCSummer is the time for having all-sweet dishes for lunch like waffles or (when I was a kid) jelly with custard. After much hem-ing and haw-ing over single-purpose devices vs. home-made waffles, use of storage space vs. home-made waffles and "Will I use it often enough?" vs. home-made waffles, I finally bought a new toy for big boys waffle iron for Belgian Waffles.

The Overnight Waffles have a nice texture-mix of crisp and fluffy on the outside/inside, but are a bit bland tastewise and need something else to give them flavour. The apple sauce with just a touch of ginger does that perfectly. The sharpness from the ginger does accentuate rather than dominate the sweetness from the apples.


Overnight Waffles

Source: How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

Ingredients:

1/2 tsp active dry yeast *
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups milk
8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
Neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, for brushing the waffle iron
2 eggs

* Used about 1/4 cube (i.e. 10 g) of fresh yeast.

Method:

The night before you want to serve the waffles, combine the yeast, flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the milk, then the melted butter and vanilla. The mixture will be creamy and loose. ** Cover with plastic wrap and set aside overnight at room temperature. *** (Of course you can do this in the morning if you want waffles for supper.)

To start baking,brush the waffle iron lightly with oil and heat it. Separate the eggs and stir the yolk into the batter. Beat the whites until they hold soft peaks. Fold the gently into the batter.

Spread a ladleful or so of batter onto the waffle iron and bake until the waffle is done, usually 3 to 5 minutes, depending on your iron. Serve immediately or keep warm for a few minutes in a low oven.

** My dough was a bit lumpy, but this turned out ok.
*** I stored it in the fridge, because I made the dough early in the evening and wanted to make the waffles for lunch. This seemed like too long a rising time at room temperature.

Applesauce with Ginger

Source: Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

Ingredients:

600 g apples, (weight of whole apples)
apple juice, maybe 200 ml (just because I had; water will work fine too)
walnut-sized piece of ginger

Method:

Peel, core and dice the apples. Put the apples in a saucepan, add the apple juice and bring to a boil over medium heat with the lid on.

Once it's boiling, remove the lid, turn the heat to low and simmer for half an hour. Meanwhile, peel and grate the ginger. When the apples have become soft and mushy, remove from heat. Mash them with a potato masher or a fork. Fold in the grated ginger and set aside to cool.

6.24.2010

Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad

Summer is getting on slowly this year. In order to be ready when the heat will set in, I made a test batch of pasta salad. It has a nicely clean taste and could be helped along by using some fresh herbs (as mentioned in the original recipe), which I had run out of.

Pasta Salad

Source: Inspired by Nudelsalat by Robert from lamiacucina

Ingredients:

1/2 pound dried pasta
1/4 loop bologna sausage (maybe 200 g), diced
1 tomato, halved and sliced
4 cornichons, sliced
1/2 package Feta cheese (about 90 g), diced

2 Tbsp olive oil
6 Tbsp vinegar
1 generous tsp Dijon mustard

Method:

Boil the pasta according to manufacturer's instructions. Set aside to cool and stir once in a while to prevent the pasta from clumping up.
Whisk together the oil, vinegar and mustard. Toss the pasta with the other ingredients. Then add the vinaigrette and toss again.

6.16.2010

Sriracha & Asparagus Quinoa

Sriracha & Asparagus Quinoa

With asparagus season drawing to a close, I wanted to try one last recipe which combines asparagus with one of my favourite new grains and some chile heat.

Sriracha & Asparagus Quinoa

Source: Tabasco & Asparagus Quinoa by Heidi Swanson

Ingredients:

125 g unsalted butter, room temperature *
2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 tsp Sriracha (green cap)
juice of half a lemon
dash of sea salt

* The butter really needs to be soft.

500 g green asparagus, cut into 1-inch segments

1 cup quinoa

Method:

Blend together the butter, Sriracha, lemon juice and salt. (Either by the AC-powered device of your choice or a fork.) Set aside.

Cook the quinoa in about 3 cups of water for about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let stand for another 5 minutes.

Snap off the asparagus ends and lightly peel the stalks. Boil in salt water for about two minutes. Drain. Rinse with cold water and drain again.

Fold half of the butter into the quinoa, add this to the asparagus and fold in.
(You can use the rest of the butter either to put little dollops on the serving portions or just eat it plain on bread or with some grilled meat.)

Adjust the spiciness with some more Sriracha.

6.13.2010

Barley Salad with Cucumber and Yoghurt Dressing

Barley Salad with Cucumber and Yoghurt Dressing


IHCCIt's Potluck time again at IHCC and I've made a summery barley salad. Maybe I'll add some de-seeded tomatoes next time for colour. The salad is best the day it's made, but any leftovers can be spiced up with some drops of Sriracha.


Barley Salad with Cucumber and Yoghurt Dressing

Source: How to cook everything vegetarian by Mark Bittman

Ingredients:

1 cup pearled barley
salt
1 long or 2-3 medium cucumbers
3 or 4 scallions, chopped
freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice or more to taste
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup yoghurt
1/2 cup fresh chopped dill, mint or parsley, or a combination

Method:

Rinse the barley and put it in a saucepan with water to cover by at least 2 inches. Add a large pinch of salt and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the barley is tender, about 20 minutes from the time the water boils. Drain and spread on a plate to cool.
Meanwhile, if you are using an English cucumber (or other good cucumber), simply cut it into small, bite-sized chunks. If you are using a regular cucumber, peel it, then cut it in half the long way and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Cut it into chunks, put it in a colander or strainer, and sprinkle with about a tablespoon of salt. Let sit for 20 minutes or so, then rinse and drain well.

Toss together the barley, cucumber and scallions in a salad bowl; sprinkle with pepper. Whisk together the lemon juice, oil, and yoghurt. Toss this dressing with the cucumber mixture, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Add the herb(s), toss all together, and serve.