Sunday, 29 April 2012

Busy week - time is gone

Again another week rolled past. I didn't even see it coming.
Somehow, I have been very busy. In the middle of the week there was some time for cooking an Indian lunch with chicken korma with rice, spicy sweet corn, cucumber raita, and for pudding some Indian style rice pudding with cardamom and coconut milk. It was all very tasty, however, that was all serious cooking then.

If you want to try the recipe for the pudding, look here: Rice Pudding.
Otherwise it was mainly dealing with leftovers this week.
At the end of the week I managed to prepare some good old bruschetta:

Bruschetta is always nice. I love the taste of the garlic that penetrates the bread. This version here with the sardines and the red onion can serves as a full meal. That is if you are not so greedy. The recipe I found in the cookbook "Cook in Boots" from Ravinder Bhogal. It was a delicious one.
Anyway, preparing bruschetta is totally simple. Just toast some nice bread, either in a pan or in a toaster, rub it with garlic - the more the better, sprinkle some salt, pepper, and olive oil on top, and then put on it whatever you like. Usually I use rocket, tomato, and some Parmesan cheese.
Go for it!!!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Japan: o-konomi yaki

Some days ago I found my old notebook - the kind with paper, where you need a pen to make entries. In this very book, the last entry was from August 1995. Some things (I'm not going to reveal the whole content of that book) written in it were recipes I liked back then and wanted to keep. One of this was a Japanese recipe: お好み焼き (o-konomi yaki). This is a savoury pancake with cabbage. The name is derived from a Japanese word meaning "what you like". So, whatever you like goes on it (although there are certain things I would never dare to recommend).
Here we are then, about to cook something Japanese. To get myself in the mood I put a CD on with some Japanese music.

That was all I had: A CD from Vivian Hsu.
Together with the pancake I want to prepare a miso soup.
A bit of cutting to start with. Then ... OK ... here is the pancake recipe ...

O-konomi yaki

100 g flour
1 egg (preferably from a happy chicken - at least until someone stole her egg)
1 handful of cut cabbage
50 g prawns
1 spring onion (cut lengthwise)
1 clove of garlic (peeled)
1 thumb sized piece of ginger
1 stock cube (chicken, vegetable, or whatever)
vegetable oil for frying
seaweed, Worcestershire sauce (optional)

First of all mix the flour, a pinch of salt, the (happy) egg and a bit of water to a "gooey"
Heat up the oil in a medium sized pan.
Then add the cabbage and incorporate well. If the batter is too gooey, just add a bit more water to get the desired texture.
When the oil is hot enough you can add half of the batter to the pan and tilt the pan so that the batter covers the bottom of the pan.
Get your prawns, spring onion, garlic, and ginger ready. Put the prawns and the spring onion on the already frying batter. Then grate the garlic and ginger on top, but don't grate too vigorously ... or otherwise you grate your fingers as well.
Cover it all up with the remaining batter and fry nicely and golden from both sides.
Once the pancake is done, you can serve it with seaweed (Reminds me of a stupid joke: Why did the lobster blush? Because the sea weed.) and Worcestershire sauce.
Then "dig in"! Maybe together with a miso soup. Well, how can you it this with chopsticks? Try, and find out ...
To finish this whole meal of, a small cup of green tea.
But don't add milk to the tea. At least that is what it said on the package.
I hope you like o-konomi yaki ... I do. Instead of using prawns - as I already mentioned at the outset - you can use many different other things, like beef, pork or go for a vegetarian version with some nice vegetables like carrots or use cheese or ... what you like (However, I don't take any responsibility if it isn't edible anymore!).

Some day I will try a traditional Japanese breakfast ...

Monday, 16 April 2012

Ouzo Cookies

I must be out of my mind. One minute I thought, now would be the time to retire for the night and get enough sleep, next minute I'm in the kitchen and prepare cookies with aniseed schnapps. Maybe this would be a good recipe for a cookbook: "The drunken baker". It should be next to the Scottish whisky cake. This reminds me of a sketch comedy I once was forced to perform at a wedding. It was about baking the Scottish whisky cake. In between testing the whisky was necessary, which resulted - of course - in deteriorating speech quality.
Anyway, here I am in the kitchen preparing this cookies using up all my leftover Ouzo from the bar. Actually, the following is a Mexican recipe. Nevertheless I have refrained from using chillies in any form (but maybe I shouldn't have).

250 g butter
250 g icing sugar
500 g flour
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
90 ml of aniseed schnapps (Ouzo, I didn't want to use the Ricard)
Juice of one lime (you may try as well lemon or orange, using also the zest)
Vanilla sugar for icing

Whisk together the butter and the sugar until it gets creamy, sort of. Then add the bit by bit the flour, the schnapps, the juice, and the cinnamon. Don't put all ingredients in at once. Always mix together in between. Then form a nice ball of dough, which you can roll out on a floured surface to a thickness of about 1 cm. If you have time you can also let the dough rest for half an hour, wrapped in cling film, in the fridge. I didn't bother though.
Then I used a small cup to cut out the cookies. If you have a more professional way, just do it. You could use even different shapes. I kept it simple, though. Arrange the cookies nicely on a baking tray. The oven should be heated up to 220°C by now. Transfer the tray to the oven and bake for about 15 minutes. This is if you trust your oven. What you want to achieve are nice and golden cookies. Therefore the time might be longer or shorter.
Once the cookies have the appearance you want them to have, remove them from the oven and let them cool down. A good opportunity to go for a short walk with the dog.
When you are back (that is, if you have a dog). You can sprinkle the cookies with vanilla sugar.
And remember: Don't eat this cookies and drive! That is if you eat all the cookies on your own in one go. Whatsoever, I don't know anyone who would do this, do I?

Finally, if you try them, let me know whether you like them or if they should be any different!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

This and that

It is definitely spring. This is what the calender says anyway. However, the full action is still delaying. The temperatures are not what I would like them to be. Here and there you see things sprouting, but it could be more.

Still, the sun is coming out from time to time. Then, of course, it's a good opportunity to have a quick lie down to catch some warming rays.
Go for it while it still lasts. You never know when it comes back.
Inspecting the garden there are some suspicious looking plants living, although they don't always appear to be.

The sage really doesn't look to promising, but when you take a real close look you may find those small leaves that are hiding somewhere.

For the oregano (left edge of the picture) things seem better. Next to it the mint looks totally dead. This, though, is no reason for the mint to come up somewhere else. It seems the supply for mint is secured.
Coming to the kitchen, what happened this weekend?

I changed a recipe I tried last week. Cardamom twists (Scandilicious) then and now cinnamon-peanut butter now. Simply replaced the cardamom with cinnamon and the filling with peanut butter. They were gone all so quickly!
Why with peanut butter? Well, I tried another recipe: Chocolate Peanut Butter. Although I didn't use this peanut butter for the recipe above, it made me use peanut butter. The chocolate one I reserve for my breakfast.
Then I wanted to do some bread baking and had a go at French baguettes again.

The result was only average. Well, I wasn't too satisfied. They were edible, but lacking the special extra.
Finally the neighbours were doing some fish smoking and brought one smoked trout for tasting. Very kind! I didn't want to simply eat it as it was, so I went looking for a recipe again. I ended up with this: Baby Yorkshire Puds with creamy smoked trout.

The Yorkshire puddings are not quite baby and not quite normal looking as well. The taste was right. That's enough with testing for this week. The week is almost gone anyway. Do I get a drink somewhere?

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Gnocchi with carrot-rosemary sauce

It’s heating up again. The temperatures are rising. I didn’t benefit too much from it today, a day spent at the office with no view to the outside world, typing away on the keyboard. Must have done that several million times on certain keys, because the writing on them starts to disappear (it's from a certain standard for Ergonomics of Keyboards: a key is supposed to endure 5 million times typing on it before abrading). In other words, it was again a busy day at work.
What does it mean? Coming home and having a quick meal? Eating out? Ordering something? Warming up leftovers? Many options indeed.
In fact there were some leftovers in the fridge. For example in one corner, some baked potatoes were lingering. There came an idea up in me. Some days ago I read something about making gnocchi in the book “Cook with Jamie”. Easy thing to make gnocchi. I have never tried it before, though.
First of all I had to get rid of the skin of the potatoes and mash them up and season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. The recipe stated to add a medium sized egg yolk. Wasn’t there some leftover egg yolk in the fridge as well? No, only leftover egg white. I added another one to that to get my egg yolk. To finish off the gnocchi dough some flour is needed. Depending on the amount of potatoes you need one or two handful (two, if you are using 8 medium sized potatoes). I didn’t have so many potatoes, so I just put in some flour and kneaded until I got a nice dough (or as I have read lately somewhere: until it looks “doughy” - Signe Johansen).
The “doughy” dough gets rolled out until it looks like a sausage and then you can cut it in 2,5 cm pieces. Those go to rest on a bed of semolina flour in the fridge.
Well, here we would have some nice gnocchi. However, what goes with it?
I must admit, they look larger then they should be

250 g of bought or rather self made gnocchi
100 g  Bacon (or just take more if you want to)
3 large carrots (or more smaller ones)
1 shallot
100g of Crème fraîche or double cream
1 lime
A few sprigs of rosemary
Olive oil
Some Parmesan (if you like)

To start off the sauce heat up a pan on high heat and add some olive oil. The bacon joins the oil at first. Meanwhile you can cut the carrots into thin slices. Take yourself some time to do it. No need to rush. If it takes longer, the bacon gets more golden and crispy. On the other hand, if you take too long, it will get black. That we don’t want to achieve. The carrots go to the pan, when you are ready. Then go for the shallot. Slice it thinly. If you don’t manage so thin, no worries. Add them to the pan and reduce the heat. Throw in the rosemary leaves. That smells nicely.
Now is the time to get your water for the gnocchi boiling. Once the water is ready you can add the Crème fraîche to the pan and the gnocchi to the water. After 4 minutes they should be ready. I didn’t watch the time, though. They are also ready, when they start floating in the water. Before that happens, squeeze your lime to the sauce and season with salt and pepper.
You have to see for yourself in which direction you want to have the taste. Accordingly you have to adjust the seasoning. Maybe you are also happy with half a lime. Best to try it first.
When the time has come and the gnocchi are asking to be removed from the water – they are floating – carefully do that and add to the sauce. Mix it and plate up. Grate some Parmesan cheese on top if you want to and dig in.

Did it taste nice? I was thinking about something that Jamie Oliver usually says, about certain ingredients loving each other and being good friends or mates. I thought carrots and rosemary are good friends, if I remember right. I was satisfied with that.
Additionally, I would be ready for a holiday. Maybe I don't have to wait too long for it ... 

Now I found this Blog Challenge on the net:
Well, I thought, I could take part and use the above recipe. Now really the time is coming up to get some fresh herbs again from the garden. The windowsills, however, are already getting overcrowded...

Sunday, 8 April 2012

French baking - bâtard with red wine and walnuts

The bread baking spree goes on. Or shall I say, time for exercise. Considering the amount of kneading necessary you don't need to go the gym. Well, at the moment I have to, it's prescribed from the doctor. However, I would say: "Baking a bread a day, keeps the gym away!"
Coming back to the baking itself, though, now it's time to use red wine for the bread. Also with this run I reduced the amount of liquid used, that is just 200 ml - half water and half red wine. The result looked nice to me. In the first step the walnuts come to the dough when it starts looking like a dough. The recipe said to use 300 g of walnuts, but I just used the amount I had left at home. To be honest, I would have had a lot of more walnuts at home, even more then 300 g. The only problem, they are all whole nuts, so cracking them open and all the work ... I was a bit too lazy for that today. I can live with it.

Finished product
Again, I used cling film to cover the rising dough, but this time I oiled it lightly as I learned it from the Cardamom Twists from Scandilicious. You see, bit by bit you can learn things and improve.
As you can see on the picture (hopefully you see it), the crust looks quite nice. Today I was not so shy with the knife and cut a bit deeper into the dough before baking.

the first cut is the deepest (I think I remember hearing something like that)
So, if you don't see the crust being crispy on the first picture, you can trust me that it is/was. It worked out really good. The bread tastes really nice. When you cut it open, it looks a bit pinkish - lovely.
If you are not so much into baking your own bread, honestly, you should have a go. This would maybe also a good idea for Food Revolution Day on May 19th: learning, how to bake your own bread.
When you buy your bread in the supermarket you don't know what really is in there. If you always buy your bread at the bakery you cannot be sure with every baker, or it maybe is a bit more costly. Whatsoever, if you do your own bread, you know what is in there, you can have a greater variety, you can have fun, and (look above) you can have exercise for free and don't have to go the gym.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Simply Fried Feta

It's always nice to have a starter at a meal to stimulate your appetite. What about some fried feta cheese with a little tomato salad on the side? I had something similar before - fried ricotta. In fact only the tomato salad on the side was similar. The idea to fry the feta in this way came from making some risotto cakes some days ago.

Ingredients for 2 servings:
A handful of mixed cherry tomatoes (make it colourful)
A few leaves of basil (small is better)
200 g firm feta cheese
One red onion (sliced into rings)
One egg (beaten)
A bit flour
Olive oil
Sherry vinegar

Cut the tomatoes in half, or in quarters if bigger. Put the basil leaves on top. 
The feta goes into two pieces and is powdered with flour, then dipped in the beaten egg and then "rolled" in the breadcrumbs. By now you should have a frying pan going with some olive oil to fry the feta golden from both sides.
Use the time to season the tomatoes on the plate with salt and pepper and the vinegar. When the feta is done plate it up and put some onion rings on it. Finish it all off with some olive oil.

Now you only have to think about something to eat afterwards to satisfy your hunger. It all depends on your appetite then, how much it takes. Some are satisfied easily - others not!

Cardamom Twists by Scandilicious

While browsing the Internet the other week I saw a lot of interesting blogs, recipes, and pictures of food.
One of the things I found was the page by Signe Johansen - Scandilicious. There was the recipe for Cardamom Twists. It looked and sounded nice, so I wanted to have a go. All ingredients were on stock at home. Therefore no problem. Well, in order to do it right, you need some time. The point of leaving the dough overnight in the fridge for rising was a bit hard for me, but I survived.
For preparing the dough, though, to start with, you need to scald (not scold - although this thought would be funny) the milk. I've never heard of this before (no big deal - there are a lot of things I haven't heard of before). However, it means you have to heat the milk just before boiling and then let it cool down a bit again before you add it to the dough.
Shortly before midnight, then, the dough was done and went to the fridge to work the whole night, while I went to bed to sleep the whole night (well, it did work out).
This morning then, the show could go on. A little bit waiting in between is on the program, though. 
cardamom-sugar-butter mix on the dough
To me, the dough looked nice when it came out of the fridge. I'm not sure, though, when you look at this picture whether this is really rectangular. Could have put in a bit more effort.
more or less twisted
It's going to be a bit crowded on the baking tray, but I think it can take it.
covered and waiting
It's time to wait a bit again. The twists are covered with lightly oiled cling film. Here we are - this would have also solved the problem I had last  time while baking the garlic bread - just a bit oil on the cling film and you have no sticking. Could have come to this myself. There is always something new to learn (apart from scalding the milk).
out from the oven
The time for baking did vary a bit from what was stated in the recipe. It all depends on the oven you have. I have experienced that my oven usually needs more time then stated in a recipe. Maybe I need a new one, it doesn't seem to make the temperatures it promises.
time to cool down a bit
It's done! Do you see on the last picture what is wrong? Well ...
... I tell you. Three are already gone - simply couldn't wait to taste.
What is the final verdict: It is really a nice recipe - easy to follow with good results. That's what I like. The cardamom taste could have been a bit stronger, though. Well, now all my cardamom is gone. Maybe I put slightly to less in, but this was all I had.
Do I have to call this blog now: Baking around the World? When you think about it, it's all the same anyway.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Schaumburg Kochbar

Der Wettbewerb geht nun in die nächste Runde. Die 20 besten Rezepte stehen fest ( Hier ist für mich dann auch schon Schluß. Wenn mal was nicht klappt, kann man es ein anderes Mal nochmal versuchen und vielleicht ein wenig besser abschneiden. Man darf nur nicht aufhören "zu versuchen".
The contest went to the next round. The top 20 recipes are now final. Here it's already over for me. When things do not work out, there is always the chance to try again another time and fail a little better. You just should never stop "trying".
Now it's time to concentrate on something else again. On whatever. Cooking and eating sounds good.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Orange cupcakes

No time for real cooking or baking, not even - what a shame - time for proper eating. Well in the end I got something nice to eat, but this day was not planned too well. It was a rushing from one appointment to the next. 
However, I got the chance to offer my orange cupcakes from yesterday to others.

The reaction was positive. They seemed to be nice. The taste was good, but as I see it they were a failure. I combined a recipe for orange-carrot muffins with an icing that was originally with lemon. I just switched the lemon with orange and failed. The icing was good to have it as a drink, but not to put it nicely for a cupcake. Therefore I didn't remove them from the baking moulds. Maybe good to serve them with a spoon. I think they look nice on the picture. Overall, though, it didn't work out as I wanted to have it. When experimenting things can go wrong. No pain, no gain!
The other cupcakes, I did some time ago were better:

Sunday, 1 April 2012

French baking - bâtard and boule with garlic

Now it's time again for baking bread. Getting out of bed in the morning becomes increasingly difficult depending on the time you go to bed. Consequently I started a bit later than usual. Apart from that I wanted to use the time before starting with the baking for a bit garden preparation, like getting some plants on the way for putting in the garden in a few weeks. I got some pumpkin seeds and some beans. Since last year the "giant" pumpkin was only a tiny thing I got myself something different this year: eatable decorative gourds. So I can decide later whether they make up for eating or just for decoration. However, that will not until September or October.
Anyway, back to the bread. Today the bread on the list was with garlic. Most of the ingredients and procedure remains the same, although I nearly ran out of strong baking flour, so I could only use 200 g instead of the 225 g - just took a bit more spelt flour. I need to stock up again on flour. The garlic is also running out quickly. If you like bruschetta, it's no wonder.
I had to reduce the luke warm water to 250 ml. If I had known that the dough still feels so wet I would have gone done further.
For this bread you need 6 cloves of garlic, which you cut in small cubes or kind of shape. You steam it briefly and roll it afterwards through some flour. After that you can add it to the dough when it has taken form after the first kneading.
How to proceed, you have to read in my older entries in connection with French bread.
To cover the dough while rising you can use a wet kitchen cloth or cling film. This time I went for cling film.
In this picture you can barely see the cling film. Whatsoever I can say right away that using cling film is not so good, because it, well, clings to much. Maybe there is a trick, but I didn't think about it. Therefore scraping the dough from the foil was on the program.
Here now the end result of the bread, although I must admit that it doesn't look much different on the picture when you compare it with the other pictures of the bread I put on earlier: 
Sure is, that the bread tastes nice again. So far I haven't been disappointed with the recipes from "Confessions of a French baker". If you are a garlic lover, you cannot go wrong with this bread.