Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Oscars Aftermath - Green Chilli and Chicken Pizza with Serrano Ham

Oh what a night!!!
Well, if I would know what happened, I could tell you ...
... right, I do know ... and ... it wasn't really that serious.
I'm going to tell you anyway. But where to start?!

Fine, my last post. Do you remember? I mentioned a few things about the 85th Academy Award in LA. No, I don't want to go over it all again. As the date for it was approaching, though and don't having anything to do at all the next day, I decided, I could have a try and watch it.
No big deal ... when you don't live too many time zones away from it. Therefore I had quite some time to kill before it would all start. Why not have some food? Still that would not suffice for all the time.
Nevertheless, I voted to go for homemade pizza ... again?! I had it already the week before.

Somehow, it seems to be a way to deal with leftovers ... just make some nice pizza dough and top it with whatever you have left from other meals. Really? No, not really, but kind of!

First of all to the pizza dough that I ended up with and keep on making again and again.

Ingredients (makes for more than one person can eat):
500 g flour (100-200 g semolina flour and 300-400 g strong baking flour)
Pinch of salt
300 ml warm water
7 g dried yeast
5 tbs olive oil
1 tbs honey

Put the flour and the salt into a large bowl, while you give all the other ingredients into a different bowl. Wait for about 10 minutes.
Then pour the yeast water bit by bit into the flour while you bring it all together with a fork. Once all the water is in, get yourself some flour on your hands and go and knead the dough.
Wash your hands with warm water and while you are at it soak a clean kitchen towel with water as well and put the cloth over the bowl with the dough. Let it rise for at least one hour.

That gives you enough time to devote to a tomato sauce.

Ingredients (it might be even to much for that dough):
Splash of olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, slices
About 10 basil leaves
400 g tinned tomatoes
200 ml water
Salt, pepper
Splash of red wine vinegar

Heat up the oil in a pan at low heat. Toss in the slices of garlic.
When you have the wonderful odour of garlic going all over your kitchen, toss in the basil leaves as well. Oh, that's even better.
Now pour in the tinned tomatoes and the water. Don't harm the tomatoes. Bring it to the boil and reduce to simmer again. Let it simmer for about 30 minutes. Then you can crush the tomatoes and if you don't want to put your sauce into a liquidizer afterwards, do it properly.
Leave simmering for a further 15 minutes and season with salt and pepper.
Finally turn off the heat and add the splash of red wine vinegar. Sauce is ready!

Pizza is not ready!
The dough should make for three reasonable sized pizzas.
Hm, as it seems, this all is a at least a bit of work. Well, the evening before I did just an easy thing: quick tapas ...

But back to the pizza now, although those tapas might not be totally unrelated. You will see at least three of the above food items again later on.
It's time to heat up the oven as much as possible. I managed about 250 °C.
One part of the pizza dough received some more kneading and then rolling up to a kind of round object.
We have to get to the pizza topping somehow. You might guess that the chicken and chickpeas will end up on the pizza. I thought about it ... yes, really ... but as you have seen I especially prepared a tomato sauce for it.
Therefore I just went for the chicken.
First of all, spread some of the tomato sauce on the blank pizza. Add some stripes of ready chicken breast. Some slices of green chillies (see above - tapas plate) on it, too. Don't bother with getting rid of the seeds from the chillies. We need some mozzarella as well and maybe some more basil leaves. Nice! OK, a few small splashes of olive oil might be even nicer.
16 more minutes and the pizza is ready ... that is if you don't forget to put it into the oven for the aforementioned 16 minutes ... delicious!

Fine, only four more hours to go until the start of the Oscar night ... well, that is of you like to watch people walking on the red carpet and hear some thoughts about fashion ... just hypothetical.
At a time then, when most, if not all of my neighbours finally had gone to bed, the actual show started ... after watching it, now I at least now, what movies I might still have a look at or ... which ones not. It was interesting to watch the show, while I have never done so before, because the constellation of circumstances hadn't been towards favourable the years past.

"At the end of the day you're another day older!"

I went to bed at a time I usually get up and ... had some more pizza for breakfast ...

Right, time wise that couldn't be classed as breakfast considering that it was lunch time by then. At this point it happened to be the case, I already had run out of mozzarella.
Of course, I would never allow it to run out of cheese completely. After all there was still some manchego left I didn't use for the tapas plate and while already at it, why not use some serrano ham on top of the pizza just as it was coming from the oven ...

I can only say so much ... it was even more delicious than the day before. 
As a conclusion I guess I won't be doing pizza again this week. In fact. So far I didn't feel like doing much cooking so far this week. Still, that won't be the last you have seen of that serrano ...

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Neither here nor there ... Chicken on Chickpeas ... Randomly

And the Oscar goes to ...
How am I supposed to know. After all I have probably seen only two of the films that have anything to do with this years Academy Awards taking place in Hollywood, Los Angeles, U.S.A. I guess in a few more hours we will be richer of a bit more knowledge that won't be of any use for us.
No worries, in the end it will make all sense. It's like a puzzle. There are thousand pieces that relate someway to each other, but in the beginning you have no clue. However, as time goes on you put piece next to piece. First you get a frame and in the end you have a full picture.
Let's do it slightly different this time ... or not. Here you get a full picture at least.

Sometimes I do things and I don't do that on purpose, but somehow it all fits together.
Back to this years Oscars. Will an Australian playing a French person in a British movie win? Who knows?
For Best picture we find the nomination of Les Misérables. I already made a connection somehow in my last post.
At least this is one of the two movies I saw. It was only in between my last post and this post. Now I'm not all good as to these things as some might know from school like ... What was it that Shakespeare wanted to tell us with Macbeth apart from that he wanted to make some money and apart from "Fair is foul and foul is fair"?
I managed school anyway. Fine, don't mention what has become of me ...
Les Miserablés. Consequently I'm not filling you in to what was Victor Hugo's intend in that direction. Some people - either in the theater or in the cinema - go on crying most of the time. I find it easier to do so while watching an episode of MASH.
Well, some might claim, men have no feelings. I do not know nothing about such phrases or generalisations in general.
Anyway, most stories are fabricated in such a way, that the reader, listener, watcher etc. can identify with certain characters or at least relate to them in a certain way.
Now, as it comes to Les Miserablés it can get quite deep and complicated. I can relate to almost any of the characters portrayed.
Jean Valjean slaving most of his life and being on the run and not really finding peace in his life.
Fantine, her live going down the drain and seeing only misery.
The students crying out for justice.
Cosette being afraid to go alone in the dark into the wood to fetch some water.
The unrequited love of Eponine.
Finally also Javert, who sees his life not making any sense anymore, when all he was fighting for didn't work out in the end.
Marius sitting alone in the ABC cafe grieving all his friends that are gone now ...

Fine, what to say? For a change it was possible to go and see a movie in the right language. At times I really feel like being in the wrong place. Then again I don't want to be neither here nor there. In the end it will make all sense. But then again, who knows?
Let us go towards a subject we know a little bit more about: food!
This month, in Belleau Kitchen's Random Recipe challenge, the theme is 'the choice is yours'. 

At least a little bit of choice. Was it really a choice? Well, I simply took the book without thinking too much. This as well implies that I didn't make it all up, but in the end it makes all sense.
I'm not sure, though, whether that would be the place to be, but as the book I choose Jamie's America. Now the random part of this challenge brought me to the recipe Chicken on Chickpeas as you have seen on the picture above already.
Funny enough, the recipe is under the section Los Angeles. Some years ago I checked out this place myself and had a look at the Hollywood sign as well.
A friend of mine was driving the car and I had the duty to read the map. He was only a bit afraid we could end up dead if we take a wrong turn. So I better be reading the map properly. Obviously I did just that or ... it isn't that bad to end up in the wrong neighbourhood.
Chicken on chickpeas then is what we are having this time. Can we go wrong with that?
Pieces of chicken marinated in garlic, parsley, lemon and olive oil.
Chickpeas stewed up with onions, yet more garlic, peppers, tomatoes and green chillies. Just look at them going ...

I was supposed to put in red any yellow tomatoes, but I didn't bother to visit more than one shop. 
At least I had plenty of green chillies.
As to the chicken pieces, I didn't bother putting them into the oven, but just fried and cooked them in my special pot and it turned out fine and juicy and not dry and everything.
With the chicken arranged on the chickpea stew and finished off with some fresh basil leaves, it was just beautiful and delicious.
Taken everything together it didn't even take one hour and I still have some food for tomorrow. How good is that!?
Once more it has been a pleasure to take part in random recipes, although I know that the day will come when luck evades me in this department as well and I will end up with a totally painful cooking and eating experience.
However, not today, not yet. But why worry about the things not here, when there is plenty to do with worrying about the things already being present.

Little did I know that the 85th Academy Awards will be taking place in February 2013 while I was having the Bloggers Around the World challenge making a stop in the U.S.A. 
Why not then kill two birds with one stone and make this stop in Los Angeles and have this Chicken on Chickpeas for Bloggers Around the World as well.

Finally, remember one thing: "Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise." ... but where? Neither here nor there?

Or simply dig in ... and don't relate the food now to Les Misérables and the 'Master of the House' part!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

"Empty chairs at empty tables" ... Beef wrap and beyond

Here comes another strange beginning of a post ... after a few days of silence. Don't be disappointed, if you are not able to grasp the full meaning of what I'm going to say. I try not to stir up too much confusion ...

"There's a grief that can't be spoken.
There's a pain goes on and on.
Empty chairs at empty tables
Now my friends are dead and gone."

Well, to clear things up right away: no one of my friends died. I simply didn't want to tear the strophe apart.
While it may be of advantage to have it quiet and enjoy some peace, under other circumstances the same situation could be a cause for grieving. When all the chairs at the tables in a restaurant would be empty for a long time that would be very disadvantageous.
Fine, I don't have a restaurant, no worries! There might be empty chairs at empty tables, but no one pays me for my food anyway.
It's only I have to manage to eat up all the amounts of food by myself. 
Along that line it happened to be the case there were still some unused wheat tortillas left that needed attention. Therefore it was only natural to have some wraps. I went to buy some minced beef and then the story begins to unfold ...

Beef wrap:
A bit of oil
300 g minced beef
1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1 tbs tabasco ... or more (?)
1 tbs tomato puree
300 g kidney beans
Salt and flaked chili
Some wheat tortillas
Red onion, in rings
Iceberg lettuce
Grated cheese (hopefully)

Go for it:

Start frying the beef in a bit of oil until it takes on colour. Then add the tomato puree and tabasco and stir.
It's time for the beans to join. Just do it! Let it warm through and season with salt, chili and the crushed fennel seeds.
A bit more on the fire and the meat is ready.
Now heat up the wheat tortillas somehow. After that it's time to wrap it up.
Take some of the beef, a bit chopped iceberg lettuce, a few onion rings and some grated cheese. If you like you can add a bit of your favourite sauce.
Sadly I forgot to add the cheese, but originally I wanted to use it.

As you see, though, such an amount of beef and bean mixture would be just too much for one person in one go. So I had to come up with something else.
No worries! Have some pizza, I thought. While preparing the dough I got confronted with other ideas. I prepared too much dough anyway ... good for two pizzas.

A not so cleverly taken photo doesn't reveal, what happened to the beef and bean mixture, but you simply have to belief me that it is inside.
What about the other half of the dough?

Bacon and egg pizza. Can you imagine to eat those two alone? Or what about pizza for breakfast ...

... you wouldn't do that, would you?

Back now to were we began our journey of this post. For those of you who have a bit of interest in music or musicals, to be a bit more precise, may have already noticed those lines at the beginning ...

While roaming the streets of London on my own, suddenly I had the idea to go and see it. I wasn't disappointed.
Afterwards, it wasn't too late, I still needed some food. Nearby I found an empty table with empty cairs at the Cafe España. Altough the food wasn't looking too fancy, I enjoyed some good tapas.

Some patatas bravas, bread with garlic cream and some aubergine. There was also some chicken with a lemony sauce. However, that was last year and I didn't manage to take some nicer photos.
Now it happened to be the case that they managed to make a musical movie of Les Misérables behind my back. Nevertheless, I noticed it finally. So I have no chance, but to see it on it's own and see how it is.
At least, the music is already in my head and ... "Empty chairs at empty tables" ...

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Tea Time: Tipsy Blueberry Mini Bakewell Tart

What come to your mind, when you think about tea time? Simply having a cup of tea? Or will there definitely some lovely tea time treats? Sweet of Savoury?
Then there is also the question, what kind of teat you will have. At my place it can be quite a challenge. I think I have about 1,000,000 types of different tea ... or maybe a little less. It's simply a lot: tea bags, loose tea, green tea, black tea, red tea, fruit tea, herbal tea, flavoured black tea with, orange, cherry, marzipan, toffee or spices like cinnamon or cardamom, and so on. Here is a small part of my tea tin collection ...

Look to the front, I also found something else: sugar sticks. They are a nice way to sweeten your tea and are looking good. In case of emergency you can have them as a treat as well. 

Anything else? Is there any tea grown in your area. Sorry to say, English tea is not grown in England, but, hey, no worries. 
No matter how you like your tea time, a good cuppa is always appreciated and can be helpful to wind down or simply let your worries slip back into the shadows.

I don't know about you, but I like my tea time treats sweet. I still have fond memories of the last bakewell tart I had. That's why I decided to mess a bit with the recipe and adjust it minimally to my needs ... make it smaller, make it a Tipsy Blueberry Mini Bakewell Tart. 
Oh ... what a shame ... now I wrote what I didn't want to, because I don't want you to get me wrong. The 'Tipsy' part is not the adjustment to my needs, it's the 'Mini' part. Puh, I hope you believe me.

Well, from the amount of ingredients you still could do a normal sized one, but that way we are having four small ones.

250 g puff pastry
4 tbs blueberry preserve or ...
3 eggs
120 g sugar
120 g butter, melted
50 ground almonds
2 tbs almonds schnaps of amaretto
Vanilla icing sugar for dusting

The first task is to get the puff pastry divided among four pastry cases. Try to make it fit nicely and remove any protruding pastry at the edges. I wish I would be a bit more skillful at those things.
Prick the pastry at the bottom with a fork and then get a tablespoon of blueberry preserve on each of the four corresponding bottoms.
Get yourself a bowl an crack in the eggs. Did it ever happen to you when cracking an egg that just the shell breaks easily, but the thin membrane beneath it remains intact? Strange!
Whatever, pour in the sugar and whisk it together whisk the eggs until it looks not too orange anymore.
Then add the ground almonds, almond schnaps (or amaretto), and the melted butter. Whisk through to mix well. Divide the frangipane mixture among the four pastry cases by pouring it over the blueberry preserve. Fine! So far we managed quite good and easily.
Now transfer it to the oven at 200°C for 30 minutes.
When ready and the almond-egg mixture has set properly get it out. Serve them with icing sugar sprinkled on top. You may wait with that until they have cooled down ... or you may just go for it.

I have a another cuppa!!! 

Oh, I enjoyed that very much, I think after a year it's time to use it again and link it up to Bloggers Around the World: Great Britain.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Bloggers Around the World: Mexican Round-up ... we travel on and on and ...

It's time already ... time that we pull down our tents, travel on and pitch them up somewhere else.
Hey, not so fast, gringo!
We are not going anywhere before we had a look at what we accomplished last month at our stop in Mexico. Was it hot enough? At least I was in need of some heat and still could use some more. Gladly my brain didn't freeze through while being outside.
Let us check it all out then ...

... where shall we start? Maybe with the microwave nachos recipe we never received?
Ah, that wouldn't make sense. Right, the same is true to me at times.
Alright, let us search for some spice then ...

Who could do this better than Corina from Searching for Spice! She brought along a beautiful Mexican Chicken Stew. There is something special hidden in it as well: chocolate. If you like to know, how it turned out, well, you know what to do.

Mexican Chicken Stew (500x397)

Elizabeth from the Law Student's Cookbook was enjoying our trip so much, she kept on travelling. Yessss, that's the spirit! However, it took her quite some time to cook up something lovely for us. No, that wasn't meant negative in any way. I didn't say she tried so long until she finally managed to cook something nice.
The name of her dish, Slow Cooker Machaca, explains everything. It took 8 hours to cook, slowly, but surely. Elizabeth shows you there is no excuse to have some freshly home-cooked meal after a full day at work.


Now, after having some nice and spicy stew and everything, we switch over to Galina at Chez Maximka and have some cake, some Mexican inspire cake to be precise - after all we want to be precise. Do you want to have a piece of her delicious Orange Polenta Cake?

I'm afraid it's all gone by now. No problem, do your own.

Did I miss anything? If so, let me know ... wait, I'm just getting something in ...

Ah, wonderful, it's some more pudding from Choclette and her Chocolate Log Blog.

Some call it "sex on a plate", but Choclette prefers to call it Mexican Chocolate Pudding with Chilli and Lime Mango Slices. To see what it is all about and to find out about the "sensuousness" of this love-ly pudding you have to check it out.

You know, how things in life are, just when you think it's over, it isn't. No worries! Need a drink. Why not have a margarita!? That is also what Caroline from Caroline Makes ... thought. After she was 'slightly' disappointed on how the recipe for Mexican chocolate mole turned out, she needed a drink, kind of. You can't go wrong with that one ...

Thank you everyone for putting in such a great effort to join our cooking trip around the world!!! It's really fun travelling with all of you!

However, we seem to have problems at the border. Are we somehow jinxed? Well, I don't know anything about that. Let's head over to 8&Ruth and see, what feast Ruth has prepared for us ...

This ceviche is only part of it ... there is more ...
What was I doing the last month to support our cause? Let's see ...

First of all, Pimiento Mexicano con Huevos


You can have it for breakfast or for whenever you like or ...

... you can use the leftovers to have pizza ...

... or soup, tortilla soup that is.

Now that you have seen it all, we can move on. But where? To the North, East, South or West? Hm .... I would say ... hm ... we might go ... North to the US of America and have some American food. What do you think? Is that a deal?
It has to be, because that is where we are going. But what will we be cooking? That is up to you. Maybe you are thinking of bagels, doughnuts or pancakes.
Or maybe there is a Mexican dish you missed to turn in this time and want to sell it as being from Texas, no worries ... hm, as I think about it. This month seems to be some kind of a joker, since there are so many people living in America that are originally from all over the world, we could end up with simply anything.
Whatever, feel also free to post something that you feel is absolutely American. I have some books to check. 
Is anyone doing a New York Cheesecake? We will see.

Just one more thing to take along ... rules:

  1. Leave a comment with a link to your post here in this very post, below. 
  2. Link to my blog and this challenge in your post.  
  3. Use the "Bloggers Around the World" badge (the one you find at the beginning and end of this post).  
  4. You can use a new or an old post, but it has to be adjusted accordingly (you know, all the linking). 
  5. Have fun and enjoy it!
Oh, what am I going to do, I better find some time to do a few things ... time always flys when you are enjoying yourself.
OK, since it is so easy for you this time, why don't you challenge me on how many entries I can put together in one round-up ...

Monday, 11 February 2013

Am I lazy or crazy? Ginger-Marzipan-Chocolate-Pralines

Sometimes I have to ask myself, am I lazy? I just hang around and do nothing in particular, although there would be plenty to do. However, I simply don't want to.
Then again, I could be crazy - kind of - that is if you want to use such harsh words. On the other hand (apart from four fingers and a thump) it could be quite helpful at times to be lazy and crazy. Not only once that has led to new inventions in the past.
While I don't want to suggest that the now following would be a great invention, you still could have a go at these Ginger-Marzipan-Chocolate-Pralines ...

Please, have one ... 

What you need:
100 g marzipan
About 40 g candied ginger
A few tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
Some almond slices

How you do it:
Get a small piece of marzipan and wrap an about 1 cm long piece of candied ginger in it. Make sure the ginger is surrounded by marzipan on all sides. Repeat this until all the marzipan is gone and ... it might look like this.

Put the cocoa powder (I still got some chocolate orange one from Sugar and Crumbs) in a small bowl and roll the marzipan ... eh ... rolls in it, so that it gets all nicely coated with cocoa powder. How does that look (be careful with your imagination)?

Well, I would have said now, that's all, folks! But somehow we need to distract a bit from that look. So I decided to stick a sliced almond piece into each one.

That already makes a difference. Now ... that's all, folks! We only need to transfer them to another plate for looks.

Just last week while visiting a friend, I got a surprise gift. He is an artist and 'paints' pictures with metal pieces. He goes all over and collects all kind of metal objects to use them in his pictures. Some pictures he sells and others just stay in his place. Maybe he will do an exhibition with them one day. 
Anyway, he also got some old silverware, which you can see now in my picture. I was going to destroy those pieces to use them for painting, but he thought I might appreciate them more.
How do you like them?
Now the question still remains, whether I'm lazy or crazy.
While hanging around - at the computer - I noticed that I didn't take part in We  Should Cocoa for a while. In fact the last post I could find on my blog was from June 2012: Galway Irish Coffee Tiramisu.


I thought it would be about time to have a go again. Here, though comes the lazy problem again. The person who invented the We Should Cocoa challenge had me already kept busy with one of her last posts: Chocolate Log Blog: Chocolate Walnut Pastries. I tried to bake some from memory after reading this post once.
So I didn't want to do baking of any kind again this time. Therefore I went for the Ginger-Marzipan-Chocolate-Pralines. This month theme of We Should Cocoa is 'Ginger' and it is hosted by Jen from Blue Kitchen Bakes.
Now bit by bit a bit more about being crazy ...
This recipe was kind of a low cost one. I didn't use any further energy apart what came from my body. So it could work for ...

Credit Crunch Munch

... this month. Camilla from Fab Food 4 All wanted to see something for dessert this month. Hey, you could use the pralines as well for that. Camilla is doing this challenge together with Helen from Fuss Free Flavours.
In order to further demonstrate that this recipe is frugal, I'm going to enter this post as well to Recipe of the week from A Mummy Too.

Link up your recipe of the week

And finally, I add this as well to Javelin Warrior's Made with Love Mondays and, hey, this time it's really Monday.


If that's not crazy, orinally I just wanted to take part in one challenge and I was lazy and now ... I end up with entering in multiple challenges.
Above that, ff you know any further challenges these pralines would fit into this month, let me know! Then we got a nice collection of challenges other can take part in as well.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Anti-Rabbit Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

"Hey, are you eating again the food of the rabbit?!" "Poor rabbit, you are eating up all it's food!"
Did you hear a comment like this before, while enjoying a portion of salad?
From time to time I'm getting such comments.
What can we say about this? A lot!
My rabbit like some good fresh green salad leaves. Carrots it appreciates as well. She even gladly goes for some herbs. Well, some days I gave her some Thai basil and ... she absolutely devoured it.
Well, it's true then! Are you eating up the food of the rabbit?

Not exactly! A good salad is more than just a few green leaves of salad.

A keen observer might see a few things in that salad a rabbit for sure would not appreciate at all.

Let us though go a bit into detail with preparing our Anti-Rabbit Salad. That way, the rabbit for sure would never like it, but I hope you do.

Ingredients (amounts according to taste):
Tomatoes, according to size halved, quartered or even further
Physalis, halved
Gorgonzola, in big chunks
Walnuts ... obviously without shell, broken into smaller pieces

Honey Mustard Dressing:
Balsamic vinegar or lemon juice
3 x as much olive oil
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp honey
Salt and pepper according to taste

Put the ingredients for the dressing into a dressing shaker (old, empty and clean jam jar) and give it a good shake to bring all the ingredients together.
Put the rocket, tomatoes, physalis and the walnuts in a bowl. Pour over the dressing and mix it through carefully.
The gorgonzola I reserve for the finish in order that it doesn't fall further into smaller pieces because I like big fat chunks of it to get the full blast of the cheese flavour.

Well, a good salad isn't just a few green leaves. You have different flavours: bitter, sweet, sour, peppery, and have different textures: soft, crunchy and so forth.
This time I thought, the physalis would look nice in  the salad and taste nice as well. I have never seen them before in salads or even thought about using them that way, but ... hey, why not! Just use your imagination ...

So, I hope you enjoyed this Anti-Rabbit Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing. 
What is your favourite combination when it comes to salads?

Friday, 8 February 2013

Bookmarked Recipe: Onion Soup on a Sandwich

Do you like simple recipes? Those that bring you great taste and joy without much effort? Another point to consider maybe, having usually all the needed ingredients at hand all the time.
That was something I discovered while reading around on other food blogs. I came across the post of Sprung at Last with the name 'French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese'. That title already intrigued me, because I very much like French onion soup and, of course, cheese. Sounds perfect!
So I had to have a go. You can read about the recipe in the original post, although you may already be able to discern it by simply looking at the following picture.

I said it was simple. That's life! The things in this life bringing you the most joy are usually small things: beautiful flowers, a stunning sunset, listening to the sound of the sea at the sea, a smile, watching playful puppies or kittens, someone saying 'thank you', commendation from persons really meaning it, sunshine on your skin and the list could go on and on and on. 
On top of it, those things don't cost much. You need no money for them (only for the simple meal, though, you need a bit money to get the ingredients). 
Therefore, think again about it! You have the power to make someone happy with just a little effort.
As for the bread for this Onion Soup Sandwich, I baked it myself already some days before that. It's not to hard either to do your own bread. It's mainly flour, water, yeast and salt. You don't even need to add any artificial substances to it. Just saying!
Well, I want to contribute this post to a lovely monthly challenge that Jacqueline is doing at Tinned Tomatoes: Bookmarked Recipes.

Maybe you like to enjoy a simple meal with French onion soup and cheese on a sandwich or ... just go out there and make someone happy ...

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Dark Secrets and a Rustic Meaty Medieval Beer Stew

Moors and dense and dark forests. That's the perfect backdrop for some myths and legends. Witches, werewolves, wraiths, giants, fairies and dwarfs - creatures that dwell in those mysterious tales ... just around the corner. That's what the local newspaper wrote about the region of Schaumburg, not the one in Cook County in Northeastern Illinois. Rather the Schaumburg in the Northern part of Germany, just slightly to the west from Hanover.
The first tale I like to relate to you is about the blood linden tree (Blutlinde). According to the legend it took place around 1400. An evil squire accused a young girl or practicing sorcery. The trial took place at the castle of Schaumburg.
The girl was presented to the judge and also has professed her innocence under torture. Now it was upon 'divine judgement' that guilt or innocence was to be perceived. The night before the judgement a storm was raging and the linden tree at the gate of the castle fell down.
The next morning the accused girl in haste plugged a branch from the fallen tree, pushed it into the soil and said: "As surely as this branch will sprout and grow, I am truly innocent." 
The young girl was taken to the water pools to be put to the water test for the 'divine judgement'. Would she float guilt was proven. On the other hand, if she would sink down, she would be innocent. As you see, no chance of winning.
The young girl sank and hastily they tried to pull her from the water, but to no avail. Life had gone out from her. An innocent girl had been murdered.
The branch of the linden tree, though, sprouted and grew into a giant tree. Up to today you can hear the whispering  of it's leaves and the swooshing of the branches.
Today you also have a good view from the castle on the valley below, especially when you dare to climb the high tower. These days there is also a restaurant there, where you can buy fruit wines.
But back to the past ... same place, some years later, this time the 12th century. Apart from the owner of the castle of Schaumburg there is said to have been yet another resident - a knight. The story goes that he was clad in black and raided passing traders. The people around the area called him 'the Black Knight'.
Finally back in the 21th century a local brewery took up the legend of the black knight and brewed a beer and named it after that knight calling it 'Schwarzer Ritter' (black knight).
Now it happened that I had a guest post here on my blog recently. It was about a Canadian Beer Cheese Soup. Of course I don't just let others write posts with recipes for me without testing them myself. So I had to get some beer and as a result came across the 'Schwarze Ritter' beer, a dark brew.
Then I thought by myself I want to cook something else with it, maybe something that could fit the time and the area as well. What came out of it was this Rustic Meaty Medieval Beer Stew.

Let's do this stew. No one gets hurt, I promise.

500 g beef shin, cut in small chunks
2 fresh coarse pork sausages
1 tbs butter
5 slices of bacon
2 onions, cut into rings
500 g carrots, cut into round chunks
1 kg potatoes, cut into random chunks
1 large leek, cut into rings
1 l beef stock
1 bottle 'Schwarze Ritter' dark beer (330 ml)
A bunch of parsley (or even dried), chopped up
Salt and pepper to taste

You see, all natural ingredients, no additional artificial flavourings and preservatives. No fancy things, just basic ingredients. You can use any dark beer you can get your hand on.
Barbecue the beef and the sausages in your griddle pan unless you are in the mood to set up your barbecue outside. After all, here it's still to cold for that.
Once the meat has got sufficient colour and even some marks from the barbie you can put it aside on a wooden board or as you may see fit.
Get yourself a large pot ready and melt the butter. Place the slices of bacon at the bottom and let them work a little bit. I like to time things as I go. 
Now I give my attention to the onions and toss them together with the bacon. It might be necessary to reduce the heat a bit. We don't want to blacken anything here.
Time to work with the carrots, peeling them and cutting them into the aforementioned chunks. Well, this might be a good opportunity to train your knife skills. Maybe that's why I chose this amount of carrots. Into the pot with them. Spoon through with your favourite wooden spoon and devote your attention to the potatoes.
The peeling of the potatoes might feel a bit like a punishment. Maybe you can find someone else to do it for you. No? Ah, no worries, I managed alone as well. Off they go into the pot all the same. Spoon.
Now, what's left to peel or chop? Right, chop the leek in rings after you have thoroughly cleaned it. They will find their place in the pot.
While you are already at it, add the meat and the parsley as well.
Pour over the beef stock and the beer. Spoon through one final time before you bring the whole content of the pot to the boil. Then let it simmer with the lid on for about one hour or longer. The potatoes should be cooked through and soft, but still retain their shape.
You may want to let it simmer further on afterwards a bit longer while the lid is removed. It all depends on whether you like to have more or less liquid in your stew. 
If you want to use any leftovers later on in a pie or so, you can cook away some liquid away later. 
However, at this point it would be time to plate up your Rustic Meaty Medieval Beer Stew and eat it. 

Thou might desire a piece of rustic bread to go with it. Why not have it! 
Enjoy it folks and have a nice life! 
See thee!



Not so fast! 

Where are you going?

I decided it isn't over yet. Another quick one. 

About one year ago ... to be precise at February the 5th in a small place far far away from a lot of things ... to be more precise, in a small town (village? hamlet?) in the Northern part of Germany a young man (just assume for a while - for the sake of dramatisation - it's right to say so) set out on a journey (if you like to call it that way) to boldly do ... eh ... now I confused myself ... again.
It's always the same. Now I write on this blog for exactly one year and still have drop outs and I don't know what to say.
Try and fail, try again and fail a little better. Fine!
Cooking Around the World is now officially 1 year old!!!

What do you say?

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Chocolate Surprise with Vanilla Mascarpone Topping

Do you like surprises? I guess as long as they are of the pleasant kind, who doesn't? Maybe you get a lovely gift from your mate or a friend. Your husband brings home some flowers for you - without you haven given a hint beforehand that he hasn't done so for quite a while now. Something else, you meet someone on the street you haven't seen for ages. Or you get a notification, that you won a price in a contest after you already have forgotten about it. 
What I mentioned last just happened to me. I won a new cookbook in a recipe contest. Well, they had sent the notification in a message via Facebook, but somehow I just got to see it nearly a month later. However, I still got the book.
Now we want to talk about a surprise in connection with a cake I came up with. It happened to be the case that I received some samples from Sugar and Crumbs. They have a wonderful supply for your baking needs.

With a part from these samples I whipped up this Chocolate Surprise with Vanilla Mascarpone Topping. When thinking about what to bake originally it wasn't my intention to use a bit of everything that Sugar and Crumbs had send me in one cake, but it just happened to be. Here is what I got the chance to test: Creamy vanilla icing sugar / plain chocolate blossoms / chocolate orange cocoa powder.

On Sugar and Crumbs they say: "Flavoured Cocoa Powder? At sugarandcrumbs.com we are committed to developing new products for the adventurous bakers! We have developed a UK first flavoured Cocoa Powder which offers you guaranteed flavour consistency for all your bakes and toppings."
Let's get adventurous then ... and on the way you will see where the surprise in the cake is. Go for it ...

Sweet Pastry:
125 g butter
100 g creamy vanilla icing sugar (or just icing sugar)
A pinch of salt
250 g plain flour
2 egg yolks
2 tbs cold milk

Chocolate filling (the surprise):
100 g dark chocolate
50 g butter
50 g sugar (optional)
4 tbs chocolate orange cocoa powder (or whatever flavour you desire)
50 g plain flour
2 eggs
2 egg whites (I simply didn't want to store them)

Vanilla mascarpone topping (kind of):
250 g mascarpone
250 g curd cheese
4 tbs creamy vanilla icing sugar

Plain chocolate blossoms for extra decoration


The sweet pastry is a standard pastry, which you can find for example as well in Jamie Oliver's book The Naked Chef. I simply substituted normal icing sugar with the creamy vanilla icing sugar.
I enjoyed putting the dough together. You already get this lovely vanilla aroma while doing it. First you cream the butter with the sugar and the salt.
Then you get in the flour and the egg yolks and work carefully work it so you get a crumbly mass. Add the milk and somehow manage to get one lump of dough with too much kneading action. Best would be to just push things together, so you get this lump. 
Now I'm sorry to say, we need some time. Wrap the dough in cling film and transfer it to the fridge for one hour. What do you do with one hour? Find out for yourself ...

... the hour is over. You got a round cake tin and lightly oiled it with cooking oil. Fit the dough into the cake tin producing a one centimetre high edge at the wall of the tin. You can get another hour, if you want and put the cake tin with the dough for another hour into the freezer this time. Otherwise you can do this blind baking thing with chickpeas or beans ...

... say you got your tin from the freezer. The oven is hot with 180 °C. You transfer the cake tin to the oven for 12 minutes.
Meanwhile you set your mind on the chocolate filling. In a bowl over hot water melt the chocolate and add the butter, sugar (if you want) and cocoa powder and mix well. Once everything has transformed into a smooth chocolate mass, you can remove the bowl from the heat.
Thoroughly incorporate the flour, eggs and egg whites into the chocolate mass.
The first baking is already done? Good. Get your chocolate mixture onto the cake bottom and bake it for another 35 minutes at 180 °C. Enjoy the chocolate orange aroma while the baking takes place.
Remove the cake from the oven and allow time to cool down. You see, all this is taking quite a while. Will it be worth it? We have to proceed!
Mix the mascarpone, the curd cheese and the creamy vanilla icing sugar together. Oooooohhhhh, this tastes gorgeous!
Don't eat it like this right now, although you could whip such a cream together separately and have it for pudding. Nevertheless, in this case we are using it on top of our cake.
Finally we finish it off with the plain chocolate blossoms. I imagined making these blossoms by myself (which I have done before) with chocolate and a knife. Well, this is not funny. The chocolate starts melting before I'm finished and I always end up eating the unused chocolate. So, it's a very good and convenient thing to have these ready chocolate blossoms from Sugar and Crumbs.

Was all this work worth it? At least I liked it very much. There was a hint of chocolate orange from the cocoa powder - it really did it's job. The greatest punch, though, brought the vanilla mascarpone topping with the creamy vanilla icing sugar in it. 
I could imagine as well taking this chocolate surprise cake to a cake event, if I would get an invitation or get the chance to invite myself.

Now that you have seen the surprise - the well hidden chocolate center of the cake - how did you like it? You can surprise me with some comments about this ...