Monday, 29 November 2010

Chestnut Milk

I don't know what the weather is like where you are but around here it's winter (and not the nice winter that makes you want to go outside but the kind that makes you want to stay inside wrapped up in a blanket reading a good book) so here is a recipe that will warm you up and will make you feel like you can face anything (even evil abstracts and the cold) :)
This recipe is especially useful if you're trying to use up some chestnut puree from a chestnut&pumpkin pie (I know, I know, the recipe will follow) or you could just buy some and then use the leftovers for the pie :)

Chestnut Milk
3 cups Milk
3 tbsp Chestnut Puree
1/3 Vanilla Pod
1 tbsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
Some Rum or Brandy

Heat the milk and the vanilla over a medium heat and let the vanilla infuse the milk for 10 minutes or so (keep it just below simmering).
Add the chestnut puree, sugar, and spices. Whisk until everything is properly dissolved.
Take the milk off the heat, add a shot of rum and serve in a pretty cup with some lovely Christmas cookies like the ones that Sandra made yesterday (and that I finished already...)

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Orange, Poached Quince, and Fennel Salad

Guess what - I have managed to sneak quince into yet another recipe :)
I made this salad for Thursday's meal and it was born out of the idea of making a wintery salad (and oranges and fennel are one of my all-time favourite wintery combinations) and having something with quince. I guess I don't have to start praising quince again, but they're still in season and go incredibly well with venison or lamb (though they worked just fine with chicken on Friday).
Anyhow, we all know they're all magical and awesome so I'll get to the recipe, shall I :) 
The quantities are what I would use for about 4 people.

Orange, Poached Quince, and Fennel Salad
1 Quince
2 Fennel Bulbs
2 Oranges
1 cup Orange Juice
1 cup Water
2 tbsp Honey
7 Mint Leaves or so
Apple Cider Vinegar
Olive Oil
Salt, Pepper, potentially some Dijon Mustard

Peel the quince, then cut it into quarters to remove the core.
Cut the quarters into 3 wedges each and put everything into a pot with the orange juice, water, honey and mint leaves (the liquid should cover the quince, if that's not the case in your pot, add some more orange juice or water).
Bring the liquid to a boil over a medium high heat, then turn it down so it simmers when you put the lid on. Now you have to patient because the quince will take FOREVER! You'll want to stir them every once in a while but apart from that you'll have an hour and a bit or so to get some work done or read an exciting book.
Wash the fennel bulbs, half them and then slice them fairly thinly (I normally aim for something under 5mm, not always successfully but that is the goal). Set aside in a salad bowl.
Cut of the orange peel and then cut out the segments. Put the segments into the bowl with the fennel.
Once you've cut out all the segments squeeze the juice in the bit you're left with (what is that actually called?) into a bowl and use it with the vinegar and olive oil to make a dressing. If you feel like the dressing could do with a bit of a kick then add a very small amount of mustard. 
Season with some salt and pepper if needed.
By now the quince should be ready. You'll know they're ready when they are tender and, when you try them, there is no tannic taste to them anymore if they still taste fairly bitter give them more time.
Once the quince are done, drain the cooking liquid (though that might also make a nice mixer with soda water) and add them to the fennel and orange segments.
Mix everything with the dressing, sit back and relax and enjoy your salad :)

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Sautéed Spinach with Pomegranate Seeds

I made this for the Thanksgiving meal at Alex's place on Thursday. The only guideline I had been given was 'something green, vegetarian, and awesome' so no pressure whatsoever :)
I decided to make some sautéed spinach because you can't go wrong with spinach and I've been having this craving for food that reminds me of my favourite Syrian restaurant (which is unfortunately very closed these days, which makes me very sad) so I thought adding some pomegranate seeds (I know it's a tiny bit early for them but I couldn't wait any longer) would do the trick.
It worked really well with the venison Rich and Alex made (which was so nice I nearly had to cry, ok I haven't really had much nice food in a while) but it would also be nice with a curry I think.

Sautéed Spinach with Pomegranate Seeds

500g Spinach
2 Pomegranates
3 Garlic Cloves
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Wash the spinach and deseed the pomegranates. Thinly slice the garlic.
Heat some olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot over a medium high heat.
Add the garlic and wait until it fills your kitchen with its delicious scent.
Add the spinach in several batches (wait for the previous one to wilt down a bit. Once the spinach has shrunken down to manageable proportions give it another 1 or 2 minutes.
Turn off the heat, season lightly (you really don't need much here, you don't want the salt or pepper to overpower the pomegranates) and mix in the pomegranate seeds.
Enjoy with way too much lovely food :)


© Kathleen Dowling

It's been a while :) and for once it was because I was too busy with all the cooking I've been doing :)
Nice change, isn't it?
For those of you who are confused by the whole Geography thing, St Andrews is part of the US when the 4th Thursday of November is concerned. If you wander the aisles of our supermarket at some point on Thursday afternoon you will find people frantically trying to find some cranberries (St Andrews always runs out of cranberries, another reason why you make your cranberry sauce in advance) trying to work out how much of ingredient xyz you need for 8 (I seriously had a girl ask me that when I was buying green beans on Thursday around 5, now I'm all for doing some last minute shopping but that felt like it was really pushing it time-wise), wondering what to replace eggs with (when I went shopping on Thursday there were about 3 cartons of eggs left).
What I find so amazing about this is how perfectly Thanksgiving fits into life in St Andrews.
So why do I normally celebrate Thanksgiving - I am not American (in case you haven't noticed before), but for me Thanksgiving is about more. It is about being thankful that you got to enjoy yet another lovely year on this planet without starving (unless you were to lazy to go to the supermarket), without too many bad things happening to your loved ones, and having some of the most lovely friends on this planet. And being aware of the fact that there are so many that haven't been as fortunate.
I would be perfectly happy to have my version of Thanksgiving at any time during the year but the end of November, when abstract season is driving me completely insane and the weather getting decidedly unpleasant is when I need to remind myself of all those things the most (and let's be honest, who wants to eat way too much food in the middle of the summer).
To cut a long story short, I've had some of the most amazing food in a long time over the last couple of days. I am, incidentally finishing off this amazing pumpkin and chestnut pie as I'm writing this.
What I will do over the next couple of days is post some of the recipes for things we made.
Don't think of them as Thanksgiving recipes (especially the pie) just make them anyway because a lot of them (such as the salads) are intended to make fall a little bit less depressing by adding colour and some lovely flavours to your plate.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

My First Cookbook Entry

I know, I just spent too much time droning on about cranberry sauce and I'm back already :)
BUT I'd burst with excitement if I didn't share this with you...
A while back my lovely sister Franziska suggested I enter this competition for this crowd-sourced cookbook at for which I submitted the Sweet Potato and Cashew Curry Soup and....I am one of the top recipes (even though the title says it's a butternut squash soup and the layout got slightly screwed up)
How cool is that?!?!
Anyhow, better get back to work...

Thanksgiving Part I - Cranberry Sauce

I have finally started with my Thanksgiving preparations!
I wish I had started earlier but I couldn't really think straight yesterday (I hate jet-lag with a passion).
Since this afternoon there is a list with the different things that need to be done stuck to my cupboard in the kitchen.
So, part 1 of the cooking marathon was the cranberry sauce.
Before you complain, it's not a super fancy version, but it's the one I always come back to (though I saw an amazing one with port in the current issue of delicious).
Anyhow, here we go :)

Cranberry Sauce
650g Cranberries (I started out with two packs (they're 12oz each, right?) and had to pick out quite a lot of gross ones and then ended up with about 650g), washed
250ml Orange Juice
200ml Water
175gr Sugar
3 Cloves
1 Stick Cinnamon

Stick everything into a heavy-bottomed pan and bring to a boil.
Keep simmering for about 15 minutes, stirring from time to time.
Once the sauce is a nice sticky consistency (don't forget that it will congeal even further as it cools) take it off the heat, pick out (or at least try to) the spices and pour everything into a pretty bowl.
Cover with cling-film and once it's properly cooled stick it into the fridge until you need it.
Now get going either with more Thanksgiving preparations or get back to your actual life :)

Saturday, 20 November 2010

The Joy Of Packing

I spent the last 30 minutes with my favourite pastime - packing.

Ok, that's really not true.

I hate packing......with a passion.

But I think, over the last couple of years I have gotten quite good at it.
I saw this post on the NYTimes website the other day and I started feeling surprisingly smug about myself when I was looking at their tips on how to pack efficiently.
Perhaps I should have become an airline pilot.
Thinking about it, it's not too late, perhaps I'll do that after I submit :)
Anyhow, I thought today could be a post about packing (and how to increase the amount of stuff you are schlepping (gosh, I love using this word in an English context) around with you by like 50 times :)

So here's a couple of super patronizing thoughts...

-Roll, don't fold (if you do just one thing,  do this, you'll be able to fit way more into your suitcase)

-Not sleeping the night before at the end of a summer course and then realizing around 8 in the morning that you should pack and then packing 2 suitcases in 15 minutes is a bad idea(doable but trust me - I've been there - very bad idea)

-Put what you think you'll need on your bed, then put at least 1/3 of it back into your wardrobe (you really don't need that much stuff)

-Yes, you can fit 10 days worth of stuff into your carry-on

-Some food in your carry-on is amazing. I have a sachet of protein-shake living in mine, why waste your time trying to find bad food at an airport?

-Handwash soap is the best invention in probably forever! - Who wants to have smelly clothes or waste an hour or so at the laundromat...

-You know the plastic bags they give you at the airport - they're the perfect size to store cables and small electronic devices when you're travelling. Keep them and reuse them or go ZipLoc crazy.

Friday, 19 November 2010


I know, still no recipes, but I promise I'll get back to that once I get back to the UK :)
So today, there's more pictures...
of one of my favourite shopping destinations...

© Kathleen Dowling

I don't know about you, but whenever I go to a toy store I could just spend hours there (and buy everything in the store).

© Kathleen Dowling

There's always something that you either had as a kid or that you wish your parents had bought you (like the Sigmund Freud stress ball thing - which I obviously had to buy myself - or the Obama action figure - which I resisted buying).

There's dinosaurs fighting snails...

There's more or less scary monsters :)

There's even useful things...

And with this I'm off to do some 'actual' work :)
Stay tuned for a week of Thanksgiving preparations.

Monday, 15 November 2010

An Afternoon At Nepenthe

I have been promising this post to a couple of you, so here it is - finally :)
On my way down south from San Francisco I stopped at Nepenthe for a very late lunch. It turned into a 3 hour break involving several cups of coffee

the most amazing beetroot salad

and several changes of location due to the dropping temperature.

I think that was the best meal I had in ages (it was simple which ended up showcasing the perfect combination of the different ingredients) and the view was just breathtaking.

And then I got a cheese plate t take away, but more about that next time :)

Friday, 12 November 2010

Crystal Cove Beach

I's been ages! I have driven from San Francisco to San Diego, visited some amazing places and have taken more pictures than I probably have in the entire past year.
So, to start us off, let's talk about Crystal Cove Beach :)
Crystal Cove State Reserve is just South of Newport Beach and on the Reserve are a few cabanas scattered along the beach.

Most of them were built in the 1930-50s and some of them have been done up and you can rent them.
I was lucky enough to get a single room in one of their dorm-style cottages and let me tell you - if you ever have the chance to go there - GO!!! It's like what I imagine Californian beach living to have been like in the 50s. It was amazing!!!
They have a restaurant and I had an amazing Tunisian-Pizza which I will try to recreate once I get back to St Andrews (I forgot my camera so no photos of that).
Anyhow, I hope you're all having a fab time wherever you are and I shall be back with more tales and photos:)

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

A Week In Austin

I have spent the last week in a town where people bleed orange

 © Kathleen Dowling

 © Kathleen Dowling

    © Kathleen Dowling

Where the bus-shelters have longhorns on them

Companies worried about their corporate identity could learn a thing or two from this...everything is orange....

Even the traffic cones here are orange ;)

Anyhow, I had an amazing week in Austin, I even got to eat orange-ice-cream (amazingly amazing pumpkin-spice vegan soft-serve)

I am now driving down Highway 1 in California and am wondering who thought it would be a good idea to give me a Ford Taurus...oh well, I shall write again soooooooon :)

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Porridge - your best friend

In case you haven't noticed, I really like porridge. I would even go as far as saying it's one of my favourite meals on this planet.
I love how you can dress it up, dress it down, eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, eat it hot, eat it cold, put it into scones or bread - the options are endless.
While I am very fond of plain porridge my all time favourite porridge is with peanut butter and berries. It will keep you going for hours and hours and it just tastes amazing :)
A lot of my German friends (yes, you know who you are! Don't even pretend ;) ) keep making fun of me because they equate porridge with something called Haferschleim.
Haferschleim (at least the stuff I grew up on) tastes about as good as it's the kinda stuff my mum would feed me when I was really sick and 'because it's gonna make you feel better' you make it fairly salty or, even worse, use vegetable stock instead of water or milk, for me that was always the kinda stuff that would make me feel better in an instant because even pretending to feel good when you've got the flu is better than eating that stuff.
So, if that's the kinda stuff you're thinking off when I'm talking about porridge, then I wholeheartedly agree with you.
But if you've ever had 'proper' porridge mad by an old Scottish lady somewhere in a B&B in the middle of nowhere (and we're not talking about the places that give you instant, it has to be the 'real' stuff!) you will probably understand (if you still don't then I'm not sure whether I can continue being friends with you ;) ).
Anyway, while I really like plain porridge with a pinch of salt in it, let me tell you about the peanut butter and berry one.
It's super easy, super yummy and even fairly good for you (though, if you eat the whole thing yourself you might want to go for a run or spend some more time in the gym tonight).

Katharina's Favourite Porridge
1/3 cup of either Rolled Oats/Barley Flakes/Rye Flakes (or a mix of them, which is what I normally do) - that's just under 30 grams for the metric people amongst you
400-500 ml Water
A pinch of Salt
1tsp Peanut Butter
1 handfull Fresh or Frozen Berries or two...or's berries, you can't ever eat too many berries :)
1 tsp Agave/Maple Syrup

Bring the water to a boil, add the salt and mix in the oats. Cook over a low heat for 20 to 30 minutes (yes, you could also microwave it but that won't be as nice, and if you're really in a rush, just have muesli or instant porridge instead, seriously...)
If the mix looks very dry towards the end, either take it off the heat or, if the oats are still quite chunky and you want them really well done :), add some more water or some milk and keep going until you feel they're done the way you like them.
Take the porridge off the heat, stir in the peanut butter and the berries and drizzle with the syrup.
Now, enjoy your porridge and then get back to work ;)

Monday, 1 November 2010

Happy Writing

For those of you who want recipes, just don't read this post :)
You could go to Luisa's blog, The Wednesday Chef who has an amazing salad recipe today, or read about almond croissants at delicious:days and be enchanted by Nicole's recipes the way I have been since I got her cookbook for Christmas.

For the rest of you, the blog for the 50,000 Word Challenge is relatively up and running (it's never gonna be pretty because I'd rather spend the hours that it will take me to be happy with it writing as opposed to worrying about the layout of a blog that will probably not be used after this month (or at least not for a while...)), check it out and let us know how you're getting on over the next couple of weeks.
Oh, and I promise, I'll be back with recipes soon. For now, let some attitude get you through the week :)

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