Tag Archives: Food

Prosecco and Tomatoes

I can’t report back on the Prosecco yet, as it is still being chilled. My father had a brilliant idea about it which I’ve decided to implement. It will remain in the refrigerator chilling, and will be shared in May with Emma, the grown-up daughter of my friend Jen whom I haven’t seen in around 40 years. It kind of blows my mind, really.


At this weeks visit to our small open-air market, I needed tomatoes for two different things I’m cooking this week (bell peppers stuffed with a mixture of aubergine, tomatoes, olives, potatoes, gruyere, sardines and capers, and later in the week tacos).

The vegetable stand at our market is always offering a wide range of fresh organic vegetables, and I continue to be amazed at some of what is offered – for example, this winter they had, in addition to fresh red beets, yellow beets. One of their suppliers is a larger farm not far from here that specialises in “forgotten” vegetable types, lots of root vegetables like turnips and yes, yellow beets.

Back to the tomatoes. I bought these:

I thought there was something wrong with them, or that they weren’t ripe yet, but upon my asking, I was told that they were in fact perfectly ripe and are known as “black tomatoes”.

I’ve since googled them (it’s a habit I have, I google everything, though I use DuckDuckGo to do so) and apparently, there are many varieties of black/purple tomatoes. The ones I have are apparently the “Black Krim” variety.

I’ll report back on the supportedly extreme tastefulness.

Bavarian Potato Salad

(at least my version of it)

Since I made this on Sunday, I decided to document the recipe for this old blog.

1 lb. of potatoes
2 spanish onions
1/4 cup of bacon, chopped
1 cucumber

Finely chop the onions. Heat up a smidgeon of oil in a skillet, and over medium heat, sautee the onions together with the chopped bacon just long enough to get the fat on the bacon liquid. (3-4 minutes).IMG_2607

Transfer the onion/bacon mixture to a bowl (while hot) and peel and slice the cucumber into thin slices (use a slicer). Add the cucumber to the onion/bacon mixture and add salt (a good pinch) and vinegar (about 1/8 of a cup). Mix and set aside.

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If your fingers can take it, peel and cube the cooked potatoes while they are still quite warm and add to the other ingredients, tossing often to mix.

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Add more salt, a pinch of sugar and more vinegar to taste. At this point, depending on consistency, you might want to add a bit of water, the salad should not be too dry. I usually add 1/8 – 1/4 cup of water.

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Chop and add fresh herbs (in this case, lovage*, parsley and chives), tossing well. Cover and let sit 1-2 hours.

Have another taste, adjust salt if necessary, stir in a few tablespoons of olive oil and serve.

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*Lovage is an herb that is very aromatic in taste and smell and in my humble opinion, indispensible in many recipes, tomato salad, chicken soup, any salad, really. I love the fact that in the warmer half of the year, I have fresh lovage (amongst other herbs) at my disposal. I miss fresh herbs in the winter.

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Stuffed Eggplant

(There is a print/pdf/email button at the end of the post).

I used two very large eggplants for this recipe, and it was sufficient for three adults.

You will also need:

The eggplants (obviously)
2 large red bell peppers (or the elongated ones, they tend to be more aromatic)
1-2 onions, depending on size (I used two smaller spanish onions)
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded*
2 eggs
grated parmesan cheese

Chop the onions, bell peppers and tomatoes. Sautee the onions in olive oil over low heat until glassy. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, remove the “meat” with the help of a spoon and chop.

When the onions are glassy, add the peppers, tomatoes and chopped eggplant, cover and saute for about 15 minutes or until the bell pepper is no longer hard, stirring frequently. Season to taste with salt, pepper, oregano and thyme and remove from heat and uncover to cool down.

After seasoning to taste, I wasn’t very impressed with the taste. It appears that the ingredients really unfold their flavor once they’ve been in the oven.

Preheat oven to 350F. When the vegetables have cooled, add the two beaten eggs and 1-2 Tbsps of grated parmesan. Mix well, spoon into the eggplant shells, sprinkle the tops with parmesan and bake for 15 minutes.

After baking, let cool for 10-15 minutes and enjoy.

*Dropping the tomatoes into boiling water for about 12 seconds makes it very easy to remove the skin. To seed, cut them in half crosswise and remove the seeds.

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Pesto Genovese

It’s very simple, really. Traditionally, it’s made by grinding the ingredients with a mortar and pestle (which I have), but not being a friend of unnecessary physical exertion, I used my blender. A word to the wise about using a blender, blend all of the ingredients except the basil first. If you blend basil for too long, it can go bitter, so add it at the very end.
For convenience, there’s a “print/pdf/email” button at the bottom of this post.

Recipe:

4 garlic cloves
40g (1 1/2 oz) pine nuts
120ml  (1/2 cup) olive oil
70g  (2 1/2 oz) grated parmesan cheese
200g (7 oz) of fresh basil
pinch of salt

Blend the first for ingredients until well-blended. Add the basil (you may have to add additional olive oil for the blender to be able to chop it and you may have to stop the blender now and then to push the basil down to where the blade is).

Add to hot, freshly cooked pasta of your choice and blend via tossing.

This recipe made quite a lot of pesto; I ended up using only half for a meal of three and froze the other half.

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I’ve eaten lots of pesto in my life, but this was the first time I made it myself. There is a world of difference in taste and aroma.

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Serve with grated parmesan for sprinkling.
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Still Learning

….after all these years.

I have always been firmly convinced that “allspice” is a special american blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. I was very wrong about this, however. While speaking to a good friend about allspice yesterday (yes, I know, such exciting topics of conversation) I did a search for it on the internet and it turns out that it is a completely other kind of spice, see the wiki article here.

Why the obsession with allspice? Because of a very special recipe for spice cake that I have been making for almost 40 years calls for it, and I’ve never seen “allspice” in Germany (though I now know the german name for it, “piment”).

I’ve made many culinary forays into other cultures in the course of my life, especially the italian, french, mexican and indian ones. My very favorite cookbook, however, is a very special american one that my mother obtained while I was still a youngster. It’s the “Bentley Farm Cookbook” by Virgina Williams Bentley. It is by far my favorite, because Mrs. Bentley’s approach to all things kitchen, cooking and serving are sensible and the cookbook was written with much love. It’s a cookbook that you can actually sit down and just read – it’s informative as well as entertaining.

Here an excerpt from her introduction to the book:

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I often tried to “borrow” this cookbook from Mom, but she kept her eyes on it always, the book being one of her favorites too. Imagine my delight some years ago when I managed to get a used copy from a large online retailer.

It contains recipes ranging from as simple as making lemonade to as exotic as curry of lamb. But my favorites are her oatmeal cookies, which are to die for, and the spice cake recipe which requires allspice.

I think there is a spice cake on my radar for this week.

A Bad Way to Ruin a Good Day

First, the pizza pictures. This is the before picture:

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The ingredients: tomatoes, anchovies, smoked ham, onion, mushrooms, garlic and black olives. Thereafter sprinkled generously with dried thyme and oregano (cheese not pictured).

 

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Finished. (Yes, someone in the family always insists on those icky green things)

The pizza was fabulous, though I had to make it in a rush.
(The dough is easy, btw: 300g of flour, 150 ml of water, some salt, some yeast and 3 tbsp of olive oil – stir together, cover and let rest for a few hours before kneading just a bit and rolling it out. It’s no fuss, really)

I got off to a very productive start yesterday morning, having done a lot outside. At 10 a.m., I went into the house, and noticed that one of my external aquarium filters was apparently no longer working on full speed. Having noticed lately that the head gasket of said filter appeared to be aging (this manifests itself in that the filter begins to leak water the moment you unplug it) I decided to clean the filter, and give the head gasket a good greasing, which often helps a bit.

Reconnected the filter. It was now leaking water even when plugged in. Spent a few hours trying to fix it somehow, soaking 5 different towels to soak up water in the old oven pan that the filter stands in (to pick up excess water in an emergency). Somewhere near noon, extremely exasperated, I disconnected it and placed it out on the porch in a very non-gentle way, meaning to run over it with the car later on in the day.

I was talked into sense by another fellow human being, tried an old head gasket I still had lying around, and reconnected the filter. It was still leaky. So, after lunch, I drove 15 miles  to the same pet store I had been to on Friday for something completely different and purchased a new head gasket. Installed it, connected the filter, and it was still leaky. By now, it was four in the afternoon and I had enough. Didn’t care. Was thinking of putting the pump in a huge bucket to empty regularly. Couldn’t be bothered. My back screaming at me from heaving the 8 kg monster in and out of the cabinet all day.

Common sense, of course, won me over eventually. I disconnected it and emptied it and examined it. Apparently, when I slammed it onto the porch in a heave of anger, I caused it to get a crack on the bottom of the canister, which was now causing the leak.

Thankfully, there are inventive and helpful fellow humans with sodering irons and magic pasty stuff who can seal such cracks.

At 7.30 p.m. the filter was reconnected and is now running without leaks.

What a way to waste a perfectly good Saturday.

But, the pizza was good.

Bread

I’ve always felt that baking bread comes close to a ritualistic, spirital experience. There is something about the process of turning flour, water, salt and yeast into our daily bread that I find very appealing and satisfying.

Additionally, I find it disquieting that most german beers have been found to contain levels of glyphosate (a herbicide that will hopefully be banned from further use in the EU in the next few months). I don’t even want to think about the possible glyphosate levels in normal grain products, I’ve taken to baking exclusively with organic flour. No one on this earth can tell me that the cancer levels we are presently dealing with have no correlation to the amounts of herbicides, pesticides and chemical additives in our foods.

So, on Friday, I stirred up some bread dough and let it stand overnight, to let the yeast and the glutens do their work (which practically eliminates the process of endless kneading), and yesterday I made a loaf, let it rise and baked it.

(The outside of the loaf is sprinkled lightly with garlic salt, and heavily with dried oregano and thyme).

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The recipe is a very simple one that I am more than happy to share with anyone who wants to give it a try.