Tuesday, 31 August 2010


I can't believe I'm already back to wearing my winter coat! I thought I was being too worried when I decided to pack it for this trip but it turns out I was wrong. It's fall and I'm not convinced I like it. Don't get me wrong, I love those nice crisp (dry) mornings you do get in the fall, I'm a complete sucker for those, BUT it's still August for crying out lout.
So I've decided today's recipe is going to be one that warms your heart on days like today.
I got the recipe from my friend Juliane who kept baking and cooking for me whenever I was at home this summer :)
Juliane made those gorgeous cinnamon rolls (and before you ask about the title, that's what they're called in the South, none of that Zimtschnecken weirdness :) so we're sticking with the 'proper' name, or something like that....)
Anyhow, they're all lovely and easy to make and taste sooo much better than the bought stuff!

Schneckennudeln (enough for 2 trays)
42gr Fresh Yeast
500ml Milk, lukewarm
850g Plain flour
100g Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla essence
125g Butter
Zest of 1 lemon
A pinch of salt

For the filling:
200ml Cream
1tbsp Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla essence
100g Ground almonds
100g Chopped hazelnuts
1-2 tsp Cinnamon
Dried cranberries / raisins / whatever else you might want to have in the rolls

Mix all the ingredients for the dough (you can make a starter with the yeast, most of the milk and some of the flour and sugar but if you're using fresh yeast there's not really a need for this) and then get kneading. Keep going until you feel like your arms are falling off (if that is less than 5 minutes this is a sign you should start going to the gym ;) you want to aim for 10 to 15 minutes) or use your trusty Kitchen Aid (if you have one I'm very jealous!!!)
Leave the dough to rise fro an hour or two until it has doubled in size. Juliane likes to cover the dough and put it into the sun if it's summer, I'm more a believer in the flavour you get from a cold-rise but in the end just go for whatever works better for you. If you're struggling for time leave it to rise somewhere warmish that way you get your cinnamon rolls after an hour, if you've got overnight give them that time (don't forget to allow the dough to warm up in the morning before you continue with the recipe).
Whip the cream and the sugar until you have soft peaks forming, add the vanilla, the almonds, hazelnuts and the cinnamon (use a spoon).
Now it's time to preheat your oven to 250 degrees (so that's what Juliane's recipe says but I'm not convinced that her oven is that hot if you know that your oven is on the hot side of the spectrum (like mine) go for 220 - the last time I used mine at 250 degrees I cremated my roast veg)
Anyhow, back to the cinnamon rolls, split the dough into two pieces, roll out 1 of them into a rectangle until it's about 1/2cm thick.
Spread half the filling onto the dough and sprinkle with the cranberries/raisins/other random fillings you decided to go for.
Roll up the dough along the wider side until you have a sausage of sugary dough. Cut the sausage into 2cm thick slices.
Line two baking tray with parchment and stick the swirls on there. Give them another 5 minutes to so slightly more puffy before you put them into the oven.

Aim for the middle of the oven (I would just bake the two trays separately) and give them somewhere between 5 and 15 minutes (what I'm trying to say is it really depends on your oven and what temperature you go for, keep checking! No running away to do some more work here!)
If you feel too energetic you can glaze the Schneckennudeln (or Schegganuhdla as Juliane would say) with a mix of lemon juice and icing sugar but they're already amazing just the way they are (and who wants to ice them if you could just eat them while they're still warm).
Enjoy with a glass of milk or some nice coffee and lots and lots of gossip :)

Sunday, 29 August 2010


Today's recipe is one that I adore but have never attempted myself. Marillenknödel (i.e. apricot dumplings) are so simple and yet I haven't made them once since moving to the UK. My mum always makes them when apricots are in season (i.e. earlier in the summer) but my local trusty supermarket had them on offer earlier this week so I thought I should give the whole thing a go.
With dumplings we always have a certain amount of debate in my family. My grandma grew up breathing the amazingness of Austro-Hungarian cooking and according to her a good dumpling is made using potatoes (even though there's all sorts of different dumpling bases from that region....) whereas my mum is not very convinced by the potato-dumpling idea. So today's dumplings are made using an approximation to my mum's version using Quark (if you're in the UK or the US, look for 0% greek yoghurt) which means you can tell yourself that you're eating something reasonably healthy :)
Since the potato dumplings my grandma makes are really good as well I'll make some when I find some nice damsons. Or we could even turn this into a celebration of dumplings and try as many different types of dumplings as possible...oh the possibilities!
The recipe below gives you 4 dumplings so just scale it accordingly

4 Apricots
4 Sugar cubes (or if you can't find any just use about 1/2 tsp of sugar in each, light brown moscovado works really well in this case because it will stick together)
50g Semolina
50g Plain flour
200g Quark (strain for about 30 minutes before you use it)
1 Egg-yolk
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Pinch of salt for the dumplings and a bit more for the water

Butter, sugar, and cinnamon to make it look pretty and taste even more amazing

Cut the apricots along the seam (only half though), remove the pits and replace with the sugar cubes.
Heat a large pot of water.
While the water is heating up, mix the quark, egg-yolk, lemon zest and the salt. Mix in the semolina and flour this is going to be a slightly sticky dough but you might want to only add 3/4 of the flour/semolina and give it 10 minutes or so to stand. If it still seems too sticky, add some more flour but keep in mind - the more flour you add the denser your dumplings will be and dense is not what you're aiming for).
Split the dough into 4 pieces and with slightly floured hands wrap the apricots in the dough. I find this works the best if you flatten the dough in your palm and then just fold the sides up around the apricot.
Once the water is boiling add some salt and turn the heat down so you have the water simmering away.
Stick the dumplings into the water and now you have to be patient (I know, how annoying is that!) and give them about 10-15 minutes (they start floating up when they're ready).
While you're waiting melt some butter in a saucepan and twiddle your thumbs (or send me an email, I'd love to hear from you!).
Once the dumplings are done, take them out (one of those nifty spoons with lots of holes works quite well :) but I'm gonna shut up now) and find a pretty plate.
To serve them, cut the little darlings in half, pour some melted butter over them and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon (lots and lots and lots of it, like lots more than what you see in the photo).
Now you have two options :) you either share them with your housemate or a friend and make them love you forever or you just decide that you don't care about them loving you forever and have all the dumplings to yourself :)

Friday, 27 August 2010

Warming Red Curry Carrot and Coriander Soup

If you are lucky enough to be somewhere it's actually warm I have to apologize in advance. But I'm freezing here in St Andrews so it's back to the warming soups and stews :)
For this recipe I was aiming for the warmth you get from using a small amount of Thai Red Curry Paste, so don't overdo it with the paste.

Warming Red Curry Carrot and Coriander Soup
1kg Carrots, peeled and sliced
1 Onion, diced
2 Garlic cloves, diced
2-3 tsp Red curry paste
1 tbsp Vegetable oil
1 tin Coconut milk
1 Vegetable stock cube
1tsp Marmite
1/2 l Hot water
50g Fresh coriander

Heat the oil in a large pot, add the red curry paste and watch it bubble away for around 30 seconds. Add the onion and the garlic, stir and give it a couple of minutes (make sure you don't let the paste burn, so keep stirring).
Add the coconut milk and after stirring thoroughly add the carrots.
Add enough water until the carrots are just about covered, then add the stock cube and the Marmite. Simmer for around 10 minutes.
If the carrots are just about done, turn down the heat, find your trusty friend the hand blender thing and blend away :) I thought it would be nicer with some of the carrot still identifiable...
Anyhow, back to the soup, we're nearly done - chop the coriander, add it to the soup and find some pretty bowl to serve it in.
Enjoy how the soup warms up your hands both from the outside and the inside :)

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Juliane's Tabouleh

I'm back again :)
Sorry it's been so long but I've spent the last week writingwritingwriting so at the end of the day my energy to write something else was pretty much non-existent.
Today's recipe is from my lovely friend Juliane. It's all amazingly amazing :) and goes really well with other salads or actually thinking of it anything you could probably come up with for a barbecue on a lovely summer evening. Oh, and it's also really nice when you add some cucumbers or olives.
All right, here we go:

200g Bulgur wheat
100-150g Smooth parsley (depends on how intense you want it to be)
25g Mint (fresh)
1 largeish Tomato
6 tbsp Lemon juice
4 tbsp Olive oil
Salt, pepper, cumin (get creative here)

Soak the bulgur between 30 and 45 minutes, chop the parsley and the mint, half the tomato, remove the inside bits and chop it into pretty cubes, mix everything, season et voilà! Presto Tabouleh (ok, that wasn't me who came up with that :)
All right, have a fab time and I'll hopefully have some more energy to write soon (there's some fabulous apricots waiting to be turned into dumplings perhaps I'll have some time tomorrow).

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Blackberry Ice-Cream

Today's recipe is for Daniel who grows blackberries on his balcony (I think the fact that so many of you are actually growing stuff other than flowers and herbs on your balconies is amazingly awesome!!!).
Since I got a picture of the first ripe blackberry yesterday I am now keeping my promise by posting the recipe I've been sitting on like a child sits on the coolest christmas present it has found like ever :) (seriously, it was like being 5 again, and yes, before you ask - I am rather proud of this recipe since all the flavours actually came together in a way that was even nicer than what I had imagined).
Anyhow, I got inspired by an article about egg-free ice-cream in the NY Times a few weeks back, so here's my take on the theme.

Blackberry Ice-Cream
2 cups Blackberries
2 cups Cream
3 tbsp Agave syrup (you might want to add more if your blackberries are quite sour)
1/8 tsp Fleur de Sel
2 tbsp Rum
A piece of cinnamon and a cardamom pod.

Heat the cream and the spices in a heavy bottomed pot until it's just about to boil, turn down the heat and leave it to cool. Write a page, chat to your best friend, go for a run. This is going to take more than 10 minutes so you might as well use your time and do something productive (sleep would be an option as well).
Upon your return you should find cream that doesn't look much different but that will carry hints of cinnamon and cardamom.
Turn to the blackberries and mash them. A potato masher or a fork will make your life a whole lot easier here :)
Mix the berries and the cooled cream, add the agave syrup, the salt and the rum. This is an ideal moment to use the fact that you don't know whether you might have to use some more syrup as an excuse to try some of it.
Now you either put everything into an ice-cream machine and let it works it's magic or you find a plastic container that will hold the mixture and put it into the freezer. If you're doing things by hand, give it half an hour in the freezer before you scrape down the crystals that will have formed on the sides. Put it back into the freezer for another half an hour and repeat the process. You'll want to do this a few more times, reducing the interval in between as you go along.
Since you haven't used a custard base for your ice-cream it will be slightly more solid when you take it out of the freezer but this is where the beauty of not using eggs comes in. Just leave it sitting outside for a couple of minutes or put it into the fridge for a bit before serving (and there's no need to be worried about what might be growing in there while it's sitting around).
Find a bowl, have some ice-cream (there's enough to share) and relax :)

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Pizza with fresh tomatoes

I love making my own pizza! Isn't it amazing how little effort it takes and how much fun (or arguments) you can have while deciding on the toppings :)
Juliane and I made pizza the other day using the leftover cheese sauce from a couple of days ago and some fresh tomatoes and some ewe's cheese. Juliane was a bit sceptic at first and we're still debating whether it is still a pizza when you don't have a tomato sauce on the dough. Anyone got an opinion?
Anyhow, let's get going! This should be enough for 2 pizzas:

Pizza with fresh tomatoes
600g Flour
30g Fresh yeast
1/2 tbsp Salt
300-400ml Water, lukewarm
1-2 tbsp Olive oil

10 medium sized tomatoes
Cheesy sauce
150g ewe's cheese
Some basil

Make a dough, make sure you keep kneading long enough! Put it into a bowl and cover with a damp tea-towel. Allow the dough to rise until it's doubled in size (and yes, putting it onto the radiator is cheating!)

Preheat your oven to 210 degrees.

Knock back the dough and give it another 10-15 minutes.

Reheat or make about 1/2  the recipe for the goat's cheese sauce, mix in some milk and once it's bubbling you might want to add some more cornflour to bind it a bit more (but just see how it goes, you might not need any more cornflour).

Divide the dough into two pieces and roll them out on baking trays and give them a couple of minutes.

Cut the tomatoes into slices.

Spread the cheesy sauce over the base, get creative with the tomatoes and crumble the ewe's cheese over everything (if you don't like your ewe's cheese too baked do what we did and add it halfway through baking).

Bake things start looking all fabulous and golden.

Add the basil and enjoy with some amazing company :)

Friday, 13 August 2010

Passion for Food - Passion for Life

A couple of days ago, Anna sent me a quote from the preface to Anthony Bourdain's 'Les Halles Cookbook'. It's incredibly beautiful and most of the quote sums up what I think is the essence of why and how we cook and eat (or at least should):

'Do not be afraid. You will need a pure heart, and a soul, meaning you are cooking for the right reasons. You don't collect and cook recipes, or compile dining experiences, like a butterfly collector. You must enjoy what you are doing. If there is any real sin in the culinary universe, it is the sin of snobbery.
If you are afraid of a little grease on your chin or of eating with your hands, are squeamish about bones, fish heads, and guts, are ambivalent about garlic, are to precious with your food, then put this book down now (you probably didn't get any food on it yet) and return it. It's not for you. Buy another cookbook. One with lots of pretty pictures.
You need passion, curiosity, a full spectrum of appetites. You need to yearn for things.
Chefs' appetites and enthusiasm, you may have noticed, rarely end with food. I am deeply suspicious of any cook who is less than enthusiastic as well about sex, music, movies, travel - and LIFE. [...]
You need love.'

While I disagree about the bones bit :) I believe this is essentially why we enjoy cooking so much. You can cook a good meal without emotionally engaging with it. You have to give some part of yourself to make a great meal. You have to draw from the joy, the passion, the pain inside you, and that's what turns whatever you're cooking into something special. 
How many of us turn to baking when they've had a bad day? At least I do, and I believe icing that is made with a good amount of frustration tastes twice as good. 
But I guess this is true for everything we do. Even when we're writing our current chapter ;)
So with that I shall bid you farewell, trying to find some joy I can write into this thing today. 
And since I can't find a passionate picture of my food I shall leave you with the pretty Marmite man :)

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Fancy Chips and Cheese for Anna

Today's recipe is for my absolutely fabulous friend Anna.
Anna has been asking me for a relatively cow's milk free recipe for a cheesy sauce for a while so today's take on a guilty pleasure of mine is made with  some soft chèvre and some parmesan (which can obviously be replaced with a hard goats cheese).

Fancy Chips and Cheese
A handful potatoes and 1-2 beets (uncooked) per person. I used 3 baby potatoes and 2 beets for myself and it was slightly on the excessive side of things.
Some olive oil (don't overdo it, you can always add more later)

Peel the potatoes and the beets, cop them into wedges, toss them in some olive oil and grill/bake them until they're all nice and crispy (my mum's oven has this amazing grill/fan setting which is perfect for this!).

The following measurements for the sauce are enough for 3 portions (my leftovers went onto a pizza last night, recipe to follow):

150g Soft chèvre (the kinda stuff that's the consistency of Philadelphia)
75ml Water
1/2 Stock cube
A dash of white wine
2 tsp Cornstarch or something else that will bind the sauce
2 tbsp Parmesan or other hard cheese

Put the cheese into a saucepan, add the water, and the stock cube, put onto a medium heat and stir until the cheese has dissolved. Add the wine, stir and add the starch whichever way you have to add the stuff you're using. I used some stuff from Mondamin which you add straight to the pot (oh the sheer lazyness!!!! I had forgotten such wonderful convenience products existed until I was rummaging through my mum's pantry in the hope of finding some cornstarch).
Anyhow, back to the sauce, keep it bubbling for a few minutes and then add the parmesan and season.
Pour the cheesy sauce over the potatoes and beets and enjoy the sheer unhealthiness of what you're about to eat :)

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Japanese Salad

After a weekend of rather disappointing food in Hamburg (I got to see my grandma so that made up for the food) I feel the need to write about something that leaves you feeling healthy and energetic.
This will probably also be the last semi-healthy recipe for a while because I'm at home with my parents again and after reading Melissa Clark's article about egg free ice-cream in the NY Times earlier this week I shall be experimenting with their fancy-schmancy ice-cream machine.
Anyhow, back to today's recipe, the Japanese salad.
Anna and I were feeling rather virtuous (ok, I was since I was still wondering how all you lovely people in Berlin stay so skinny eating soo much stuff and decided I needed to eat something slightly more healthy for a change).

Japanese Salad
3 tbsp Rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp Soy sauce
2 tsp Sugar (start with one and see how you like it)
1 tsp Toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp Olive oil

Get creative with the veg, we used some mixed relatively strong salad leaves, some watercress, an avocado, some green asparagus, a carrot and some edamame.

Wash the leaves, steam the asparagus and the edamame, julienne the carrot and chop the avocado into whichever size pieces look good to you (go me for being descriptive!)
Mix all the dressing ingredients together.
Serve in a pretty bowl and have some lemon delicious rice pudding for desert - you can't go to bed feeling that virtuous :)

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Minty Pea and Watercress Soup

As I promised you on Tuesday, it's time for a summery soup again.
I originally wanted to call it something like 'Slimegreen Goo' but I was shouted down by several people who shall remain nameless :) but you have to admit it would have been an aweseomely appropriate name.
This is the kind of soup you can make after a day of too much work and still feel a bit like Nigella.
Also, go for the generous side of what you think would be appropriate portion-size wise. I made the following recipe for 6 and it wasn't enough (even with the better part of 2 baguettes). BUT, that means you have the perfect excuse to either defrost some cake (like we did) or to spend your time whipping up some culinary amazingness (if you do please send me a picture!).
All right, here we go :)

Minty Pea and Watercress Soup
1 Onion, finely chopped
1 Garlic clove, chopped or sliced or whatever you feel like
4 Baby potatoes (ok, I admit it that was the only stuff I had in...be sensible and use a proper floury potato)
1.5 l stock (I have this addiction thing going on with the Alnatura vegetable stock, if you're in Germany you should try that one!!! It's amazingly amazing!!! And it doesn't have any MSG in it)
1 kg Peas (that is without the hull, i.e. frozen or shelled)
A dash of white wine
150 g Watercress
Some mint leaves
Some (ok, lots of) grated parmesan

Let's get going!
Heat up some olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot, add the onion and garlic and sauté them for a couple of minutes. While they are on their way to slightly glassy oblivion, peel the potato(es) and dice them.
Add the potato and fry for another minute.
Add the stock and simmer for about 15 minutes (while your amazing friends set the table).
Add the peas and the wine and bring back to the boil and give it another 3 or so minutes before you add the watercress.
Allow the watercress to wilt a bit before you take the pot off the heat. Add the mint and whizz it with your best friend the hand-held blender thing.
Season if it's not quite there yet and serve it with some parmesan sprinkled on top.
Relax and enjoy the flavours tango in your mouth :)

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Food for the Soul

You were actually supposed to get a soup recipe today but while I was being wined and dined by my gorgeous academic son FX last night I started thinking about why food is so important to me.

Food connects us. Good or bad, we always seem to talk about it.
When I started my PhD I moved back into halls of residence and I think one of the main things that made that year as amazing as it turned out to be was the fact that I saw the same people for meals 3 times a day. And you always had something to talk about (yes the food was on the less-amazing side of the spectrum). Who would have thought that fruity meatballs would have such an effect on a group of 50 postgraduates.
It didn't matter where you came from, what you were studying, or anything else for that matter, manoeuvring the perils of Deans Court food together turned strangers into best friends.

I spent an entire year complaining about the food we were being fed, forgetting that even the most amazing porridge in the morning doesn't make up for having to eat it on your own.

Back to last night :) I got to enjoy an amazing warm pasta salad and chatting away I was wondering why we often try to impress people with fancy food as opposed to focusing on why we tend to invite people over for dinner (and no, "to show them your new pair or shoes" is the wrong answer here).

When I made the soup I was planning to write about I was running participants all day and was trying to get ready for leaving St Andrews again, I was running around like a headless chicken (wondering why I had invited people over for dinner all day...). But just this lack of preparation meant I made some soup which everyone seemed to love (don't you worry, the recipe will follow soon enough), that was simple enough to have me chatting to my guests while it bubbled away.
Since I hadn't had any time to make a desert we decided to have some Chocolate-Aubergine Cake I wrote about in January. Every time I make this cake I freeze the leftovers (if you microwave them they go all gooey and amazing - the perfect food when you come home after pulling an all-nighter in the lab) so this was their time to shine. I must admit I felt like a bad host pulling out leftover chocolate cake from my freezer and sticking it into the microwave (why was I actually feeling bad about doing this?) but sharing a plate of cake between the 6 of us seemed like the most natural thing on this planet.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Lemon Delicious Rice Pudding

One of my favourite deserts is rice pudding (apart from semolina pudding I guess). It's always a surprise how two so simple things as milk and rice can combine into this amazingly comforting food.
This is a spin on the relatively plain traditional rice pudding inspired by one I found a couple of months ago in the Soho WholeFoods. Up to that point I had always avoided vegan rice pudding because I really don't like what soy milk on its own does to the rice (and rice milk with rice seems slightly ridiculous). But I learned that vegan rice pudding can be soo much more (granted it would probably be just as nice with milk).
Anna tells me it tastes just like lemon delicious pie hence the name.

Lemon Delicious Rice Pudding
100g Rice
500ml Soy milk
200ml Orange juice
A handful of Raisins
A handful of Cashew Nuts, very roughly chopped
Zest of 1/2 lemon
2tbsp Agave syrup
Seeds of 1/2 vanilla pod

Put the rice, raisins, cashew nuts, lemon zest and vanilla into a heavy-bottomed pot, add 250ml of the soy milk and turn the heat to medium-high.
Wait until the majority of the soy milk has been absorbed by the rice/ has bubbled away before you add the orange juice.
Turn the heat as low as you can, cover and find something else to do for the next 10-15 minutes.
Once the orange juice has been nicely absorbed add the rest of the soy milk and turn the heat up a bit for 5 minutes or so, turn the heat off, cover again and leave it alone for another 15 minutes. If it looks to dry add some more soy milk (or orange juice if you are feeling like an orange creamsicle)
When you're ready to serve the rice pudding, stir in the agave syrup put it into pretty bowls and add enough seasonal fruit to feed an entire family :)
Enjoy and feel at home wherever you are at the moment!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...