Sunday, 31 October 2010

Coffee at Cafe Medici

So I've finally made it to Austin, and I'm enjoying the sunlight and the warmth and the rush of vitamin D in my body :)

I just had an amazing coffee (like, seriously, amazingly amazing, I haven't had a coffee as nice outside of the Cafe Herbertz in Stuttgart in a while!) while trying to catch up with emails and work and life in general.

This is my gorgeous sister, Fran who is way too intelligent for her own good :)

All right, I'm gonna get some actual work done now, I will be back sooooooon :)

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

National Novel Writing Month

Ok, I admit it, I've been doing too much lately...I'm starting to get desperate for sleep and the work I have to do until Saturday morning just doesn't seem to stop piling up (and if I have one more person telling me that something doesn't take much time and that I could just do it during a coffee break I'll shout at them because I don't remember the last coffee break I had...) BUT I keep telling myself that it will all be fine because on Saturday I am flying to the States for 3 weeks :)
I'll try to check in from time to time but I won't be doing much cooking, I can promise you that...
What I'm going to do instead is write about writing.

In case you haven't heard about it, November is National Novel Writing Month (they have lots of international  'regions' so I'm a bit lost on why it's called 'National' but hey ho (as Jeannie would say)) and the idea is that you sign up (for free) and then you try to write 50.000 words in that month (that's just under 1700 words a day, that's doable...I've written that much in 2 hours before essay deadlines in 3rd year).
I think this is like the coolest idea on the planet (perhaps second to Ben&Jerry's having the idea to make Phish Food) and while I would very much like to try to write a novel (and bore you all to death) the 50.000 word thing got me thinking. 
I know a lot of you are, like me, doing a PhD and I've never chatted to anyone who doesn't feel like they're crazy far behind on their writing. At the moment I try not to think about all that data that I've got piling up in this folder on my desktop that is entitled 'Random Stuff, Needs Sorting' so I've decided to do my very own version of NaNoWriMo. I'm gonna aim to write 50.000 words on my thesis. It's not all gonna be good, a probably quite large percentage might get cut out and I might only end up with 30.000 words. BUT it's gonna be more than what I have so far.
So I've set myself the challenge to sit down and finally get going on those partially drafted chapters in the scary folder I avoid looking at.

© Regine Kattner -Zeiner
You should join me! Or decide to write an actual novel in that month. Or just keep reading my blog (I promise I will be back with recipes in December when I'm back in St Andrews and when I will be recovering from the writing and what is starting to look like an amazingly amazing Thanksgiving party.
If you decide to join me, please let me know so I don't feel as alone :) and even while I'm gone - I'm always at the end of an email and would love to hear all your gossip that I'll be missing out on!!!

Note: My friend Anna is going join me (and hopefully you). She's written about the idea on her blog Goannatree. I will make an extra page and get around to making a button and things you can put up on your blog if you want but that won't happen until the weekend, so keep your eye's out for that :)

Another Note: I've created a new blog for the  challenge over at The 50.000 Word Challenge. Join me there from Monday!

Monday, 25 October 2010

Brunch and the Amazingness of Quince

© Anna Blanch

We had brunch yesterday. I made the Quince Buckwheat & Spelt Pancakes, had another discussion whether that combination could even remotely work, ate too many muffins and apple cake and just had a really good time (who cares whether anyone else is having a good time if I'm having one) and I now hope that all those lovely people who showed up will want to come back again :)

One of the pancakes even looked a bit like a brain!!!!
Which got me thinking that we should definitely start making more pancakes like Jim's because the stuff he does is beyond cool!!!

Just ignore the bad picture, it already looked horrendous when I took it but I was too hungry to keep trying...

Anyhow, the reason we had this brunch was that I finally managed to get hold of some quince last week so after doing a dance of joy standing outside the greengrocer's I decided it was time for brunch again.
I don't even know why I love quince so much. But I do. In nearly every form I have met them so far. I like them as quince cheese with some blue cheese or even some pasta, I love them in the pancakes, they're even more amazing in a quince and chicken curry (I'll have to make that some time soon!) and quince jelly is the best topping for Hefezopf on a Sunday morning when you've just gotten back from the swimming pool and you feel like you're gonna faint if you don't eat something like right now.
In the UK quince are in season right now, don't ask me about the States or the Continent (that's what the internet is for :) ) but I think you should make something with quince as well! And then tell me about it!
Or even better, make it for me :)

Thursday, 21 October 2010


I was going through some photos from this summer (ok, I must admit, I was sitting there with my hot water bottle trying to get some feeling back into my hands while trying to remember those amazing days earlier this year when the temperatures were in the mid 30s) and I came across some pictures from my mum's birthday.
Juliane and I made lots of mezze and spend the entire evening gossiping and taking photos (oh, and opening the front door ever 5 seconds or so) and my dad made this amazing plate overflowing with bruschetta.
Yes, tomatoes are definitely not in season right now and no, I didn't make them myself, so the recipe is for how my dad taught me to make them years and years ago.
Oh, and if you're looking for an authentic recipe, go and look for another blog :)
But, I thought you might need some warming up, too.

Some baguette
Olive oil

Dice the tomatoes, chop the basil roughly, mix them together, add some olive oil and season with some salt and pepper.
Toast slices of the baguette in your toaster or under the grill, once they're done, slice a clove of garlic into two pieces and rub one side of the warm bread with the garlic.
Spoon the tomato mix onto the bread and enjoy.

What is your favourite summer memory of the year? Did you eat anything particularly good?

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

My First Recipe

As I mentioned last week, the first recipe I ever engaged with in a creative manner was that for a creamy pasta sauce.
It's the perfect base sauce for pretty much anything and I've stuck with the same general idea for the last 21 or so years. I'm not gonna pretend I've got a perfect memory (actually if I didn't have Manuel to remind me to send emails to people I probably would forget about most of them) and tell you how amazing it was and stuff, but I do remember the feeling of this piece of paper, on which my dad had recorded my recipe for future generations, being 'mine' and boy was I proud of that :)

Little Katharina's Pasta Sauce :)
100gr Cream cheese
100ml Cream
1/4-1/2 Vegetable stock cube
Some water

Over a medium heat, stir the cream cheese into a saucepan with some water and the cream. Wait until the cream cheese has dissolved into the liquid and then add the stock cube and wait for the mix to thicken a bit.
Season with salt pepper and don't forget the nutmeg (I stole the nutmeg grater that I used for that from my mum, it's the best nutmeg grater on this planet, if I start hallucinating one day it's not my fault it will be the amazing nutmeg grater's fault).
Done :)
What did you expect? I was 4 or so, nothing fancy....but sooooo good!
You could also add some white wine but I wasn't that into wine back in the days :)

Something that's even nicer though is if you make some tomato sauce and then add both to your pasta (so much better than the readymade stuff).
Or you could just add some fresh peas like I did when I took the photo (there was definitely wine in that version).

Anyhow, what is the first recipe you remember cooking or writing down?

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Butternut Butter for the Soul

This one is for you, Tiffany - this is a long-distance hug from me :)

This recipe for a butternut-butter is based on Jenna's recipe from earlier this week.
With fall in full swing I felt like this would be the perfect thing to warm my heart when I had another one of those 'can't really feel my hands because they're too cold' afternoons. So off I went to make my own :)
Let me tell you, after stirring some into my porridge after swimming this morning, I can only pat myself on the back for the idea.

Butternut Butter
1 Butternut squash ( approx. 1.5 kg; peel and chop it into pieces & roast them until they're tender)
1/2 cup Brown sugar
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Vanilla essence
1/2 cup Orange juice
Some nutmeg
A pinch of salt

Put all the ingredients into a blender or a heavy bottomed saucepan (if, like me, you only have one of those handheld blender things) and puree away. Depending on how quickly you find all the leftover lumps this can take some time. I started wondering why I never ended up buying a proper blender halfway through.
Then scoop everything into a saucepan/enjoy the fact that for once the handheld blender thing gives you an advantage :) and heat at a medium heat for about 20 minutes until it's nice and thick and your kitchen smells amazing.
Put the butternut butter into a sterilised jar and resist eating all of it before you're even able to stick it into the fridge.
Enjoy with some porridge or on some warm bread (I can practically taste and smell the amazingness of it on some fresh baguette, potentially with some salted butter....hmmmm)

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Stewed Apples

Rosie made this amazing chicken & prune tangine yesterday (and Manuel brought wine and Sandra stuff for a salad) so I decided to make desert (who wants to show up empty-handed in their own kitchen). Since I've been seeing a lot of recipes for stewed pears lately that's what I had in mind; but pears and I haven't been friends since a fateful holiday at Lago Maggiore when I was 4 or so. Anyhow, I'm digressing, so I decided to make apples :)
Since I didn't do much measuring the quantities are approximations so just go for what feels right to you (this recipe fed 4)

Stewed Apples
4 Apples (they don't need to be huge or super pretty)
250ml White wine
Some water
4 tbsp Light brown muscovado sugar
A generous dash of vanilla essence
1 tsp Cinnamon

Peel and core the apples, cut them into quarters.
Put all ingredients into a heavy bottomed saucepan. As for the water, don't use crazy amounts, but if the wine doesn't even cover 1/2 of the apples I would add some.
Heat over a medium heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
Once the apples are tender (we're not talking disintegrated here!) remove them from the pan and turn up the heat a bit.
Keep stirring at regular intervals (i.e. don't run away from the pan) until the liquid has turned into a fairly sticky affair. We're not going for caramel-consistency but a fairly thick sauce (wow, could I be less precise! But it will make sense when you're standing in front of it).
Pour it over the apples and serve them hot or cold.
Enjoy with some of the best banter/gossip/geeky-gossip/work-conversations in ages :)

Friday, 15 October 2010

Confessions of a workaholic

I really like what Jenna does with her 'Confessions of a Food Blogger' so here's some things that you might/might not have wanted to know about me :)

© Anna Blanch

My all-time favourite breakfast is porridge made with water and a mix of  rye and barley flakes mixed with some peanut butter and some berries on top.

At the moment I have protein shake for breakfast, but if I add loads of cinnamon to it and then close my eyes it nearly tastes like pureed oatmeal (why you would want to puree oatmeal is a whole different matter).

I haven't had a coffee in 10 days (and surprisingly I haven't felt the urge to kill anyone).

Don't try to keep me away from my work, my food, or my bed (you don't want to get to know annoyed me)

I want to take a course at the Cordon Bleu in Paris once I've submitted my thesis (ok, you already knew that) and learn how to make croissants :)

The first recipe I wrote (ok, my dad wrote it down for me) was one for a creamy pasta sauce. I still have that piece of paper somewhere at home. I was about 4 and it still remains one of my favourite pasta sauces.

I listen to really bad music when I go running. And I'm not embarrassed to admit it. And did I mention that most of that music also helps when you're trying to get some writing done ;)

And I can't wait for Thanksgiving :)

Anything I missed?

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Savoy-Cabbage and Salmon Stew

I don't know about you guys but I've been freezing lately. So while browsing through a copy of Delicious I came across this winter cabbage and chorizo stew (Mick, don't you dare to even think the comment I know you desperately want to make!!!). Anyhow, I thought a hot and spicy stew would be a lovely thing for tonight. I must admit my choice of veg was dictated by me trying to save money for when I go to the States next month (I've got one word for you - roadtrip!!!!!) so it's a mixture of what I had left and what was on offer :)
Oh, and it's a bit of a mixture of measurements (I made enough stew for probably 4 or 5 portions but I only used salmon for 1)

Savoy-Cabbage and Salmon Stew
1 Savoy Cabbage
1 Onion
2 Garlic Cloves
200g Celery
2 tins Chopped Tomatoes
2 tsp Thai Red Curry Paste
Olive Oil
250ml Vegetable Stock
170gr Salmon Filet per person
Some Yoghurt

Chop the veg (like all of it) while listening to some good music :)
Heat some olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and give it some time to turn glassy. Then add the garlic and once that has gotten all lovely and fragrant add the curry paste. Give it a minute or so while stirring to make sure it doesn't start sticking to the pan.
Add the celery and the savoy cabbage, give it another stir and then add the stock and the tomatoes, mix everything together and then sit back and relax.
Thinking about stock, I normally make mine by using some powdered vegetable stock and then adding some Marmite. It really makes a difference! Give it a go, even if you don't like it on bread.
Anyhow, back to the stew, wait until the cabbage is al dente, then add the salmon. I chopped mine into pieces and stirred it into some of the stew but it would probably be just as nice as a large piece that you steam by sitting it on top of the stew and covering it with a lid. Once the salmon is done, turn off the heat, put it into bowls and then add a couple of teaspoons of yoghurt to each bowl.
Enjoy on its own or with some warm bread...and then tell me what this magical thing called bread tastes like...

Monday, 11 October 2010

A Belated Virtual Birthday Cake

Last week was Mimi's birthday and since I'm obviously too stupid to pay attention to the Facebook birthday reminders (we all know I would forget everyone's birthday, including mine, if it wasn't for those reminders) I blatantly forgot.

So since I can't really send you a cake in a box I decided to send you a virtual one :) I hope you had a fabulous day with lots of cake and an even better party this weekend!

For those of you who are just here for the recipe ;) this is one of my favourite cakes. It's incredibly simple, really quick (once you've peeled the apples) and it simply tastes amazing.

Apple Cake
3 Eggs
100g Butter
100g Sugar
200g Self-raising flour (when you're using plain flour add 2 slightly heaped tsp baking powder)
3 tbsp Milk
A pinch of Salt
1 tbsp Cointreau
900g Apples (that weight is for before you peel them)
1 tsp Jelly or extra-fine jam

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees, grease your trusty 26cm springform tin and sprinkle it with some semolina if you've got some.
Peel and core your apples. Put some music on, this is gonna take some time :) oh, and you'll want to cut them into not to small pieces - the apples from our garden turn into 8 pieces, if you're using bought apples you'll probably get a lot more pieces out of them, though I'm guessing this is not very helpful - go for the thickness of your pinky).
Separate the eggs and beat the egg-whites and the salt until soft peaks form.
Cream the butter and the sugar (give it some time! You will be rewarded texture-wise), then add the egg-yolks one at a time.
Add the flour in 3 parts, alternating with the milk. Once that's done, add the Cointreau and mix it in.
Fold the egg-whites under the mix (I once read that the best thing to do is to properly mix in about 1/3 of the egg-whites and then fold under the rest and that really does seem to make things easier).
We're nearly there :)
Fold in the apples and pour the mix into the waiting tin.
Bake for 45 minutes, then take it out, turn off the oven, brush the surface with the jelly (I used apricot jam, but it's even nicer with -do you want to guess?- quince jelly :) ) and stick everything back into the oven (still turned off) for another 15 minutes to let the jelly dry.
Let the cake cool and enjoy it with a lovely cup of tea.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Pasta, Blue-Cheese Sauce & the Amazingess of Quince Cheese

Ok, I admit it, I am blatantly dreaming of pasta right now :)
But don't worry, at least you get a lovely pasta recipe out of it.
Most of you know about my slight obsession with anything made from quince and with the seasonal calendar thing for the UK (do I look like I know when things are in season in this country?!?!) telling me that quince season is only a couple of weeks away I am now not only dreaming of pasta but also of quince :)
Today's recipe was dinner a few weeks back when I was staring at my fridge and there wasn't much staring back. But, there was a bit of roquefort begging to be used up and there was a square of quince cheese that had been sitting there for a couple of days as well. So the idea was born.
If you're not familiar with quince cheese, don't worry, neither was I  until my lovely cheesemonger offered me some. It's basically quince stewed with lots of sugar for pretty much forever (ok, I'm exaggerating) that is then allowed to set. I remember eating quince cheese or dulce de membrillo covered in sugar as a kid (oh, the pure bliss I missed out on by not knowing how amazing it tastes with blue cheese!!!!), but back to the pasta!

Pasta with a Blue-Chesse Sauce and Quince Cheese
Blue Cheese
White Wine
Stock Cubes
Quince Cheese

Make a quick and easy blue cheese sauce (nothing fancy, just make sure you use enough blue cheese so it tastes quite intense)
Boil enough pasta to feed a small army :)
Mix the pasta with the sauce, then chop the quince cheese into cubes and sprinkle them on top.
See, that was easy!
Enjoy with a glass of wine think of what else quince would go with :)

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Chicken Fingers

So as I said I have given myself the challenge to start cooking meat. I can't say it's making me a happier person but I am really noticing a difference when I go spinning. So let's see how long I can keep this up.
Yesterday I made these lovely chicken fingers (they're based on David Kirsch's Sesame Chicken Fingers) and believe it or not they were absolutely gorgeous and I didn't want to kill anyone while making them...I guess that's a start :)

Chicken Fingers
1/4 tsp Soy sauce
1/4 tsp Mustard (I used German mustard because that's what I had but Dijon is what the recipe suggested)
1 tsp Water
1 tsp Turmeric
1 Chicken breast (mine was 115 gr.)
1 tbsp Sesame seeds

Mix the soy sauce, mustard, water and turmeric in a bowl, then cut your chicken breast into 4 or 5 strips, and coat them with the paste (closing your eyes and pretending you're in art class and working with some seriously dodgy clay got me through this experience), leave them in the bowl, cover in cling film and stick it into the fridge to marinate for about an hour.
After an hour of watching TV (aehmmm...reading a very important paper...) :) come back and heat your oven to 180 degrees.
Coat the chicken fingers in the sesame seeds and put them into a non-stick baking tin. Once the oven is nice and hot, stick them in for 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
Enjoy with a fresh green salad :)

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Sweet & Spicy Apple Sauce

I'm  in the mood for some procrastination today so you get a new recipe sooner than originally planned :)
It's a nice and sunny autumn day in St Andrews but I've been cold all day so I've decided it's time for a comfort food recipe.
I made this with my mum when she was visiting with the apples that grow in our garden. It's one of those amazingly old trees that give you the nicest apples on this planet. Fine, they aren't that pretty and most of them are slightly bruised, but they do taste amazing. I don't even have a clue what the variety is called, but they're nice and tart (but still quite sweet) without being mealy. I might even venture as far as saying they're some of my favourite apples.
Anyhow, this post also marks a slight change for this blog. I have decided that I need to eat more protein. So since yesterday I've been cooking meat (I know, you're just as surprised as me, and you don't want to be in my kitchen when I cook it, I never would have guessed I knew so many swear-words that could describe my attitude towards raw meat) and listening to what David Kirsch tells me to eat. Let's see how this far I'm convinced I've eaten more protein in the last two days than I did in the entire week before (or something like that).
So anyhow, probably the last slightly indulgent recipe for a while. Join me while I dream of apple sauce :)

Sweet & Spicy Apple Sauce
1kg Apples (don't go for the crazy sweet ones though)
400ml Water
Juice of 1 Orange
2 tbs Cinnamon
Some Nutmeg
2 tbsp Sugar

Peel and core the apples, then cut them into small chunks and stick them into a heavy bottomed saucepan.
Heat until the juice mix starts boiling, then turn the temperature down to a medium heat and keep stirring from time to time.
Now you get to lean back and read a magazine :) while you check up on the apples every once and again. You'll want them to start falling apart (without burning at the bottom, hence the stirring).
Now you have two options - you can either join me in the eternal bliss of laziness and just remove the pot from the heat and spoon the mixture into some jam jars (which you have stuck into boiling hot water for about 10 minutes and then fished out without burning your hands) and embrace the potential lumps you might find or, you put it through a food moulis (did I spell that right?) before spooning it into the jars. Whatever you do unless your jars are still lovely and hot, put a metal spoon into the jar because apparently they stop the glass from bursting.
Screw the jars closed while the apple sauce is still hot and turn them upside down while they cool (I'm not the expert here but I think that's what helps seal the jars?).
Enjoy with some semolina pudding or some rice pudding and tell me how amazing it was, I'll be dreaming about it for the next couple of weeks :)

Monday, 4 October 2010

A Chinese Adventure

You're not getting a recipe today but I stumbled across a couple of old pictures. Well old is probably relative, they're from July when Verena, Manuel and I went on a wild adventure to this amazing Chinese take-away in St Monans (ok, we kinda kidnapped Manuel and then tortured him with cheesy music in the car, but once we had the food there was very little complaining going on). Anyhow, it was a gorgeous evening and the three of us and Kermit went on our drive through the countryside.

We drove past strawberry fields, past cows, and saw some pretty amazing clouds (let these pictures give you a hint why I prefer to work in the macro range...) to Wok and Spice.

And then we didn't even get any healthy ostrich. We decided to order what turned out to be enough for an small army which meant it took a while to get ready.
But oh the food! Once we had it sitting in the car the only thing we could think about was getting back to St Andrews to eat it. Hmmm…oh, and I kinda lost interest in my camera when it got to the actual eating part, but I'm pretty sure so would you :)

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