Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Nigel Slater´s Lazy Loaf

Usually, bread takes quite a while to make, what with waiting for the dough to rise, knocking it back and then waiting for it to rise again before baking it, but if you do not have that much time and are still looking for some instant gratification, this fabulous soda bread called Nigel Slater´s Lazy Loaf might just be right for you. It is the kind of bread that you tear a hunk off and dip into steaming bowl of soup, or eat stickily spread with local honey, or your favorite homemade jam. Soda bread is perhaps the easiest bread to make by hand - with little kneading and no waiting around for it to rise.

In general, a soda bread is a bread leavened with bicarbonate of soda together with an acid, either lactic acid in the form of buttermilk (as in this recipe) or yogurt or a chemical agent like cream of tartar. The resulting reaction releases carbon dioxide bubbles into the dough. Though simple soda breads were common throughout Britain up to the late 1960s, people now usually associate soda bread with Irish baking.

Soda bread is best eaten fresh and can be made at home easily. Typical ingredients not only include bicarbonate of soda and buttermilk or yoghurt, and sometimes cream of tartar, but also wheat flour, water, salt and butter.

This is a Nigel Slater recipe. Yes, we all seem to have a soft spot for this particular cook and pretty much everything of his that I have tried, works. And I have blogged about many of his recipes before, such as his amazing Carrot Cake (here), delightful Black Banana Cake (here), decadent Walnut, Chocolate and Honey Tart (here), and his absolutely outstanding Chocolate Beetroot Cake (here). to name but a few. I know he cannot lay claim to inventing soda bread, because that has existed for many years already, but he can ceratinly lay claim to bringing it back to my attention.

This is a very simple recipe. And Nigel Slater is a dedicated fan of straightforward yet awesome food, and somehow I am always enamored with his recipes and methods. And this recipe is no exception. I particularly like the idea of baking the loaf in a preheated cast iron casserole dish.

Nigel´s Lazy Loaf
(inspired by a recipe from Nigel Slater's Simple Suppers)

Ingredients for the Loaf
  • 225 grams plain wheat flour
  • 225 grams wholemeal flour 
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tbsp molasses (the original recipe calls for sugar, I used local sugar beet molasses)*
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 350 ml buttermilk (I used a really thick buttermilk from my fav farm shop)

  1. Preheat the oven to 220 degress Celsius (425 degrees Fahrenheit)
  2. Put a large casserole dish** and its lid into the oven.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the flours, sea salt, molasses and bicarbonate of soda together with your fingers. Do get your hands in there and get it all properly mixed up.
  4. Pour in the buttermilk, bringing the mixture together as a soft dough. Work quickly as the bicarbonate of soda will start working immediately.
  5. Once the dough has come together and is not sticking to the bowl any more, shape the dough into a shallow round loaf about 4 centimeters (1½ inches) thick.
  6. Remove your hot casserole dish from the oven, dust the inside lightly with flour to prevent sticking then lower in the dough. Dust the top with a bit more flour. If you so desire, you can score a small cross in the top of the dough
  7. Then cover with the lid and return to the whole thing to the oven.
  8. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes. 
Remove from the oven and leave in place for 5 minutes before turning out and leaving to cool slightly before enjoying.
* NOTE: Molasses gives it an earthy taste, darkens the crumb and crisps up the crust
**NOTE:  I used my Pyrex Slow Cook Casserole Pan, round, 3.6 liter, cast stainless-steel

This bread  has a lovely, crisp crust and a very tender inside. The crumb looks dense, but it is not heavy at all.

Remember that soda breads like this are best when eaten fresh and while still a bit warm or, according to some of my taste testers, even better when toasted and slathered with really good quality butter - it just does not get better than enjoying a big slice with farm-fresh butter...So, make sure to serve it fresh from the oven with butter and your favorite kind of jam or honey. And  if you do have any left, it does in fact make good toast.

Nigel Slater´s recipe certainly proves that making your own bread does not have to be time-consuming or hard work. Looking for that instant bread gratification, that comforting smell of baking bread, that irrestible taste of homemade bread, then you should really try his quick soda bread, you will not regret it, trust me.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

FFwD - Curried Mussels with Shoestring Fries

Today´s recipe for the French Fridays with Dorie group is Curried Mussels, a wonderfully delicious twist on the classic Moules Marinières.

In general, mussels are not expensive at all and plentiful. In the wild, they grow on coastline rocks and stones but the majority of mussels available around here are farmed in suitable coastal waters. Mussels are considered as one of the most environmentally sound types of fish or shellfish available.

Mussels are at their best in the colder months outside the breeding season. When you shop for mussels, you should always select those with tightly closed shells, avoiding any that are broken. Plump, juicy flesh and a delightful taste of the sea is what you are looking for once they are cooked. The color of the mussels is not indicative of quality, orange flesh tells you the mussels are female, while a whiter hue suggests males.

When preparing mussels, you should always eat mussels on the same day you buy them and make sure to discard any that stay open when tapped. Clean and debeard them (pull away their beards) and, if you are presenting them in their shells, it is a good idea to give them a good scrub. A number of rinses in cold, fresh water will ensure you are serving a sand- and grit-free meal.

Mussels require very short cooking time. And Dorie´s recipe is quickly put together. Using a large, heavy-based pan, all you that is required is a sautée of onions and shallots in some good-quality butter, then you add some curry powder and sautée some more to take the raw spice taste off. Then some sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes. You add about a cup of a dry white wine, fresh thyme, parsley, and a bay leaf. Then you  place the mussels in the cooking liquid and turn up the heat to steam them for a few minutes. As soon as the shells start gaping open, you know they are ready. Make sure not to overcook them or you will end up with rubbery flesh. Discard any that fail to open fully. For the sauce, I decided against straining the solids, as we prefer the more rustic version. As a final touch, you can add some cream to the cooking liquid, which I do not really find necessary but it is a tasty option, of course.

Mussels are delicious with a wide array of flavors. Steaming them in vermouth or white wine, along with shallots, garlic and a few herbs, is traditional in a number of European countries including Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Germany. While we never had curried ones before, we loved the way these tasted.

The cooking liquid or sauce is always half the joy of eating mussels, so have plenty of crusty bread and shoestring fries, on stand-by, for soaking up and munching on – while you ponder the ease of getting a perfect little bistro-style supper on the table in no time and ask yourself all the while whatever took you so long to make this incredibly delicious recipe!

To see whether the other members of the French Fridays with Dorie group enjoyed this week´s recipe, please go here.

For copyright reasons, we do not publish the recipes from the book. But you can find the recipe for “Curried Mussels“ on pages 314-5 in Dorie Greenspan´s cookbook "Around my French Table".

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Blood Orange-Glazed Madeleines - Madeleines mit Blutorangen-Glasur

For this sweet wintry treat, I have taken my standard recipe for making Madeleines, and adapted it to give these lovely French cookies a more seasonal, citrussy flavor. I have swapped out the lemon zest for blood-orange zest. Usually, I do not even bother with any decoration on Madeleines, and simply dust them lightly with powdered sugar, mainly because their shape is already so pretty. However, this time I decided to give them a light glaze with a light pinkish color from the blood-orange juice and some more zest for an extra boost of flavor. The glaze adds some sweetness and highlights the ridges on the shell pattern. Other than that, they are just plain and simple Madeleines, easy to whip up at short notice and really rather delicious with that cup of tea or coffee in the afternoon.
Für dieses süße, winterlichen Leckereien habe ich mein übliches Madeleine Rezept etwas verändert. Ich wollte dieses wunderbare, klassische französische Gebäck mit einem etwas außergewöhnlichen saisonalen Flair verwöhnen. Darum habe ich Blutorangenschale an den Teig gegeben. Normalerweise glasiere ich meine Madeleines nicht, sondern bestreue sie nur mit ein wenig Puderzucker. Ich finde sie so schon lecker genug, aber dieses Mal habe einen zartrosa Guss gemacht, dem ich die Schale sowohl als auch den Saft einer Blutorange hinzugegeben habe. Die Glasur sieht hübsch aus und schmeckt ganz vorzüglich, nicht zu süß, hat sie aber auch den sehr angenehmen und unvergleichlichen Geschmack der Blutorangen. Ganz wunderbar zu der Tasse Tee oder Kaffee. Und das nicht nur am Nachmittag.

Madeleines are buttery French sponge cakes traditionally baked in scallop-shaped special Madeleine molds. They are made with sugar, flour, melted butter and eggs and are often flavored with lemon or almonds. The English version is often baked in Dariole molds (if you are interested how these look like, you can a look at my post here) and topped with jam, desiccated coconut or icing sugar.
Madeleines sind goldbraun gebackene Sandtörtchen aus Frankreich. Damit Madeleines ihre typische Form erhalten, füllt man den Teig in ein extra dafür vorgesehenes Madeleine-Blech. Das klassische Rezept für Madeleines enthält Rum, der dem Gebäck sein typisches Aroma verleiht. Während in Paris Madeleines am liebsten mit Mandeln verfeinert werden, schmecken Wiener Madeleines meist nach Vanille. In England backt man sie in sogenannten Dariol-Formen (hier ist meine Version).

Grown mostly in Mediterranean countries, blood oranges have a distinctive dark-red rind and flesh and taste tarter than regular oranges. They have a very short season in late winter. You should make the most of their thrilling, spicy tartness while you can. You can substitute ordinary oranges for the blood oranges – but remember that their fiery color and unique flavor makes them  a great addition to these spongy cookies.
Blutorangen haben eine dunkle, teilweise tiefrote Pigmentierung. Je dunkler die ausfällt, desto mehr unterscheiden sie sich geschmacklich von den normalen Orangen. Die dunkelrote Verfärbung der Blutorange ist abhängig vom Klima des Anbaugebiets. Je unterschiedlicher die Temperatur vom Tag zur Nacht ist, desto stärker fällt die auffällige rote Färbung der Blutorange aus. Daher ist der mediterrane Raum ideal für den Anbau der Blutorange. 

Blood Orange-Glazed Madeleines

Ingredients for the Madeleines
  • 3 eggs (L), free-range or organic, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup super fine (caster) sugar
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups wheat (plain) flour, sieved, plus some for flouring the molds
  • 1 tsp baking powder 
  • grated zest of one blood orange (untreated if possible)
  • 9 tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature, plus some for the molds

Ingredients for the Glaze

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar, sieved
  • freshly-squeezed juice of about half a blood orange 

Madeleines mit Blutorangen Glasur

Zutaten für die Madeleines
  • 3 Eier (L), Freiland- oder Bio, Zimmertemperatur
  • 130 Gramm feinster Backzucker
  • 1/8 TL feines Meersalz
  • 175 Gramm Weizenmehl, gesiebt, plus etwas für die Madeleine-Bleche
  • 1 TL Backpulver
  • Abrieb einer Blutorange (unbehandelt wenn möglich)
  • 120 Gramm ungesalzene Butter, geschmolzen und auf Zimmertemperatur abgekühlt, plus etwas für die Madeleine-Bleche 

Zutaten für den Guss
  • 150 Gramm Puderzucker, gesiebt
  • frisch gepresster Saft einer halben Blutorange

  1. Brush the indentations (12 each) of two madeleine molds with melted butter. Dust with flour, tap off any excess, and place in the fridge or freezer.
  2. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, whip the eggs, granulated sugar, and salt for 5 minutes until frothy and thickened.
  3. Whisk together the flour and baking powder.
  4. Use a spatula to fold the flour into the batter. 
  5. Add the blood orange zest to the cooled butter.
  6. Add the butter into the batter, a few spoonfuls at a time, while simultaneously folding to incorporate the butter. Fold just until all the butter is incorporated.
  7. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least one hour. 
  8. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  9. Drop enough batter in the center of each indentation to fill them 3/4. 
  10. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cakes just feel set. 
  11. While the cakes are baking, make a glaze in a medium mixing bowl by stirring together the powdered sugar, grated blood orange zest and juice until smooth.
  12. Remove from the oven and place the Madeleines onto a cooling rack. 
  13. As soon as the Madeleines are cool enough to handle, brush one side of each cookie with the glaze.
  14. After glazing, rest the Madeleines on the cooking rack, scalloped side up, until the cakes are cool and the glaze has firmed up (that will take about 30 minutes).
  1. Zwei Madeleine- Bleche (mit je 12 Mulden) gut mit geschmolzener Butter fetten. Mit Mehl ausstreuen, überschüssiges Mehl abklopfen. Die beiden Bleche kalt stellen.
  2. In der Schüssel des Standmixers, die Eier, den Zucker und das Salz zirka 5 Minuten dicklich-cremig aufschlagen.
  3. Das Mehl mit dem Backpulver sieben.
  4. Mit einem Teigspachtel das Mehl vorsichtig unterheben.
  5. Den Abrieb der Blutorange zu der geschmolzenen und abgekühlten Butter geben.
  6. Butter sorgfältig unterrühren. Dabei löffelweise die Butter zu dem Teig geben und vorsichtig unterheben bis alle Butter aufgebraucht ist.
  7. Die Rührschüssel abdecken und den Teig für mindestens eine Stunde kalt stellen.
  8. Zum Backen den Ofen auf 200 Grad Celsius vorheizen.
  9. Soviel Teig in die Mulden geben, dass sie jeweils 3/4 gefüllt sind.
  10. Zwischen 8 bis 10 Minuten backen, bis die Madeleines hellbraun sind.
  11. Während die Madeleines backen, in einer mittleren Schüssel den Puderzucker mit dem Blutorangen Abrieb und Saft solange verrühren, bis er glatt ist.
  12. Madeleines vorsichtig aus der Form nehmen und auf einem Gitter abkühlen lassen. 
  13. Sobald die Madeleines etwas abgekühlt sind, jeweils eine Seite des Gebäcks mit dem Guss bestreichen.
  14. Nach dem Glasieren, die Madeleines auf einem Kuchenrost etwas abtropfen und fest werden lassen (das dauert zirka 30 Minuten).

Glazed Madeleines are best left uncovered, and are best eaten the day they are made. However, they can be kept in a container for up to three days. My favorite way to keep them them for more than a day is to place them in a porcelain dish with a cover.
Madeleines mit Glasur sollte man nicht unbedingt abdecken und sie schmecken einfach am besten an dem Tag an dem sie gebacken wurden. Man kann sie aber auch bis zu drei Tagen verwahren. Dann am besten in einer Porzellanschüssel mit Deckel, so mache ich es immer.

It never ceases to amaze me that the same short list of ingredients can produce such delicious results - flour, eggs, salt, butter, and sugar. And then perhaps some vanilla or citrus - true kitchen staples at my house.

For this recipe, I really enjoyed making the glaze. But you could omit it if you wanted to serve your Madeleines just as they are. Also, you should avoid overbaking them. There is nothing better than a freshly baked, buttery Madeleine.

Es erstaunt mich immer wieder, wie man mit so wenigen Zutaten solch wunderbares Gebäck machen kann - man benötigt eigentlich nicht mehr als Eier, Zucker, Salz, Mehl und Butter. Und dann vielleicht noch etwas Vanille oder Orange. Zutaten, die ich meistens vorrätig habe.

Falls man möchte, kann man die Glasur natürlich auch weglassen und die Madeleines einfach so servieren. Beim Backen darauf achten, dass die Bleche nicht zu lange im Ofen bleiben, sonst werden die Madeleines zu trocken.

Friday, January 9, 2015

FFwD - Individual Rösti with Crème Fraîche and Caviar

Today´s recipe for the French Fridays with Dorie group is „Arman´s Caviar in Aspic“. I must admit that I went a bit astray this time and made Individual Rösti topped with Crème Fraîche and Caviar instead.

A simple rösti, well-seasoned grated potato, fried until golden and crunchy, and topped with crème fraîche and caviar is very hard to beat – at least that´s what my devoted taste testers conferred to me in no uncertain terms as I was mentioning Dorie´s recipe for this week. Since I am quite grateful to all of them for tolerating all my foodie experiments these last years, I was easily convinced to take a different road to caviar bliss this week. No „wiggly-jiggly cubes of lightly flavored aspic, bellies scooped out and filled with caviar“ for us, sorry, Dorie – maybe some other time...

All you really need for a good rösti is some firm potatoes, parboiled to give a soft, melting interior, and fried in plenty of hot butter and goose fat until crisp. For the topping I used Salmon Caviar (salmon roe) -  although, technically coral-red salmon caviar is not „real caviar“ (the eggs of a wild sturgeon) – it tastes amazing and looks extremly pretty.

The second kind of „caviar“ I used was Sea Hare Roe – it is quite popular in these parts, not difficult to find in stores – although it tends to be a bit on the salty side and less „juicy“ than the salmon roe, it paired very well with the rösti and the crème fraîche.

Next Friday, we will be making Curried Mussels – no rösti then with the mussels, promised, come to think of it, Belgian chefs will attest to the fact that potatoes do pair so well with mussels.

To see whether the other members of the French Fridays with Dorie group enjoyed this week´s recipe, please go here.

For copyright reasons, we do not publish the recipes from the book. But you can find the recipe for “Arman´s Caviar in Aspic“ on page 29 in Dorie Greenspan´s cookbook "Around my French Table".

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Three Kings Day (Epiphany) - Dreikönigstag

Today, on Januray 6th, is the Three Kings Day, also referred to as the Festival of Epiphany. On this day which has a very special meaning to our family, it is a time-honored tradition at our house to bake a Galette des Rois (Three Kings´ Cake). There are so many cake recipes out there for a Three Kings´ Cake, but there is no special German one and over the years we have developed a real passion for this one.
Heute, am 6. Januar, ist Dreikönigstag und dieser Tag hat eine ganz besondere Bedeutung für mich und unsere Familie. Ich wurde in Köln geboren, sozusagen einen Steinwurf vom Schrein der Heiligen Drei Könige entfernt. Deshalb backe ich seit Jahren immer eine Galette des Rois (Dreikönigskuchen). Es gibt zwar unzählige Rezepte für diesen besonderen Kuchen, leider jedoch kein traditionelles deutsches Rezept. Über die Jahre haben wir deshalb ein echtes Faible für den reizenden französischen Dreikönigskuchen entwickelt.

Epiphany is widely celebrated in Europe. The French celebration include serving a Galette des Rois at home. This special cake originated in the tiny village of Pithiviers, about eighty kilometers south of Paris, and was brought to the city by Marie Antoine Carême (1784-1833) who to this day is considered to be the founder of the haute cuisine concept.

Hidden in the pillow of puff pastry is a delightfully moist almond cream. And much to the delight of our children and guests, hidden inside the almond cream, there is a small porcelain figurine.
Der Dreikönigstag wird in vielen Ländern Europas gefeiert. In Frankreich wird an diesem Tag gern ein "Galette des Rois" gegessen. Dieser Kuchen stammt aus einem Dorf namens Pitviers, welches ungefähr 80 Kilometer von Paris enfernt ist. Der berühmte Koch Marie Antoine Carême (1784-1833) hat seinerzeit das Rezept für diesen Kuchen nach Paris gebracht.

Es handelt sich um einen Blätterteigkuchen, der mit Frangipane gefüllt ist. Zur großen Freude unserer Kinder und Gäste wird - und das ist das Besondere an diesem Kuchen - in der Füllung eine kleine Figur aus Porzellan, eine sogenannte fève (Bohne), versteckt.

Calling Cologne my hometown and having named three of our children after the Three Wise Men, on this special day, we always enjoy this lovely cake but also make sure to pay a visit to the Cologne Cathedral to once again marvel at the golden Shrine of the Three Kings (created by the goldsmith Nikolaus von Verdun, 1190-1125).

The Shrine is a reliquary said to contain the bones of the Three Wise Men (also referred to as The Magi). The relics of the Three Wise Men were brought from Milan to Cologne on July, 23, 1164. The shrine is a large gilded and decorated triple sarcophagus placed above and behind the high altar of the Cologne Cathedral. It is considered the high point of Mosan art and the largest reliquary in the western world.

Epiphany is still celebrated as a religious holiday in the City of Cologne. On this day, visitors flock to the Cologne Cathedral to honor the Three Wise Men that are so closely connected with the city - if you take a look at the Coat of Arms of Cologne, you will notice three destinctive crowns symbolizing the Three Wise Men.
Drei unserer Kinder haben wir nach den Heiligen Drei Königen benannt, weshalb an diesem besonderen Tag nicht nur ein oder zwei Dreikönigskuchen gebacken werden, sondern wir besuchen an diesem Tag auch immer den Dreikönigsschrein im Kölner Dom.

Der Dreikönigsschrein im Kölner Dom ist ein Reliquiar, welches der Aufbewahrung der Gebeine dient, die Erzbischof Rainald von Dassel am 23. Juni 1164 von Mailand nach Köln brachte und die in der römisch-katholischen Kirche als die Reliquien der Heiligen Drei Könige verehrt werden. Dieser Schrein gilt als das größte und künstlerisch anspruchsvollste Reliquiar, das aus dem Mittelalter erhalten ist. Er wurde zwischen 1190 und 1225 durch den Goldschmied Nikolaus von Verdun gefertigt.

Der Dreikönigstag ist in vielen Ländern Europas noch heute ein Feiertag. Auch in der Stadt Köln, die so eng mit den Heiligen Drei Königen verbunden ist, wird der drei Weisen aus dem Morgenland mit speziellen Gottesdiensten und Feierlichkeiten gedacht.

"When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh." (Matthew 2:10-11)
"Als sie den Stern sahen, wurden sie hocherfreut und gingen in das Haus und fanden das Kindlein mit Maria, seiner Mutter, und fielen nieder und beteten es an und taten ihre Schätze auf und schenkten ihm Gold, Weihrauch und Myrrhe." (MT 2:10-11)

Galette des Rois (Three King´s Cake)

  • 500 grams (17 1/2 ounces) good quality store-bought puff pastry (of course, feel free to make your own puff pastry)
Ingredients for the Filling
  • 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) superfine (caster) sugar
  • 2 tsps pure vanilla sugar (homemade or store bought)
  • a pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1 egg yolk (L), organic or free range
  • 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) ground natural almonds 
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 30 grams (1 ounce) AP (plain) flour
  • some egg wash (egg mixed with a bit of water)
Optional Addition to the Filling
  • Small porcelain figurine/whole almond/bean or coin wrapped tightly in a small piece of aluminium foil
Ingredients for the Glaze
  • some apricot jam (strained)
  • 60 grams (2 ounces) flaked almonds
Galette des Rois (frz. Dreikönigskuchen)

  • 500 Gramm fertigen Blätterteig (man kann natürlich auch Blätterteig selbst herstellen)
Zutaten für die Füllung
  • 100 Gramm ungesalzene Butter, Zimmertemperatur
  • 100 feinster Backzucker
  • 2 TL Bourbon Vanille-Zucker (selbstgemacht oder gekauft)
  • eine Prise feines Meersalz
  • 1 Eigelb (L), Bio- oder Freiland
  • 100 Gramm Mandeln, gemahlen
  • 1/2 TL gemahlener Zimt
  • 30 Gramm Weizenmehl
  • etwas Eierstreiche (ein Ei mit etwas Wasser verquirlt)
  • eine kleine Porzellanfigur oder eine ganze Mandel oder eine kleine Münze, die man in Alufolie gewickelt hat
Zutaten für die Glasur
  • etwas Aprikosenmarmelade (durch ein Sieb gestrichen)
  • 60 Gramm Mandelblättchen

Preparation of the Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit).
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Roll out the pastry and cut two 26-28 cm (10-11 inches) circles. Chill while preparing the filling.
  4. Beat the butter, sugar, vanilla sugar and salt until creamy, light and fluffy.
  5. Add the egg yolk and beat for three minutes.
  6. Whisk together the ground almonds, the cinnamon, and the flour.
  7. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until well combined.
  8. Place one of the pastry circles on the prepared baking sheet and brush a 4 cm (1 1/2 inch) border of egg wash around the edge of the pastry circle.
  9. Place the filling in the center, keeping it inside the egg wash border. NOTE: If you would like to add a figurine, nut, bean or coin, do it now by gently pushing it into the filling and procced with the recipe.
  10. Top with the second pastry circle.
  11. Crimp around the edge with your fingertips or use the tines of a fork.
  12. Use the dull side of a knife to lightly mark lines on top of the pastry.
  13. Brush with beaten egg wash.
  14. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until both base and top are baked and transfer to a wire rack.
  15. While the Galette is still warm, brush top and sides with apricot glaze and sprinkle sides/border with flaked almonds.
Zubereitung der Galette
  1. Den Ofen auf 180 Grad Celsius vorheizen.
  2. Ein Backblech mit Backpapier auslegen.
  3. Auf einer bemehlten Fläche den Blätterteig dünn ausrollen und zwei Kreise  (26-28 cm) ausschneiden. In den Kühlschrank stellen.
  4. Für die Mandelfüllung die Butter, den Zucker, Vanillezucker und Salz schaumig schlagen.
  5. Das Eigelb hinzufügen und zirka drei Minuten weiter schlagen.
  6. Die gemahlenen Mandeln mit Dem Zimt und dem Mehl mischen.
  7. Die Mehlmischung zu der Buttermischung geben, gut verrühren.
  8. Einen Blätterteigkreis auf das mit Backpapier belegte Backblech legen, dabei einen Rand von ca. 4 cm mit dem verquirlten Ei bestreichen.
  9. Darauf gleichmäßig die Mandelfüllung verstreichen, dabei rundherum den 4 cm Rand frei lassen. TIPP: Wenn man einen Glücksbringer in die Füllung stecken möchte, sollte man das jetzt machen, dabei die gewünschte Figur oder Nuss ein wenig in die weiche Mandelmasse drücken.
  10. Mit der zweiten Hälfte des Blätterteigs den Kuchen bedecken.
  11. Den Teig an den Rändern andrücken. Es soll eine Art Kuppel entstehen, überschüssigen Teig abschneiden.
  12. Mit der stumpfen Seite eines Messers den Teigdeckel verzieren, dabei den Teig nicht einschneiden.
  13. Die Galette mit dem restlichen verquirlten Ei bestreichen,
  14. Den Kuchen ca. 40 bis 45 Minuten backen, auf einem Kuchenrost etwas erkalten lassen.
  15. Die noch warme Galette aprikotieren und mit den Mandelblättchen bestreuen.

Of course, the person who finds the small porcelain figurine in his or her piece of cake gets to wear the golden paper crown that is placed on top of the cake after it has cooled and been glazed with some apricot jam. The person who gets the fève (meaning "bean") becomes King or Queen for a day!
Derjenige, der die kleine fève in seinem Stück Kuchen findet, wird für diesen Tag zum König oder Königin ernannt. Deswegen bekommt man in Frankreich vom Bäcker immer eine goldene Papierkrone, wenn man eine Galette des Rois kauft.

The above recipe for the Galette des Rois (Three King´s Cake) was inspired by a recipe that was given to me by one of my friends many, many years ago - may I add, after much begging on my part.

On the occasion of the 850th anniversary of the arrival of the relics of the Three Wise Men in the City of Cologne, there is a marvelous exhibition at one of the Museums in the city, The exhibition is devoted to The Magi as one of the central themes in art throughout history -  truly a must-see if you happen to be visiting the City of Cologne these days.
Mein Rezept für die Galette des Rois (frz. Dreikönigskuchen) wurde von einem Rezept inspiriert, das mir eine Freundin vor vielen Jahren und erst nach langem Betteln meinerseits gegeben hat.

Anlässlich des 850. Jahrestags der Ankunft der Reliquien der Heiligen Drei Könige in Köln, gibt es im Museum Schnütgen eine Sonderausstellung, die den Heiligen Drei Königen als einem der zentralen Themen in der Kunst quer durch Jahrhunderte gewidmet ist. Wirklich sehenswert!

"The Magi - Legend, Art and Cult"
25 Oct - 25th January 2015
Museum Schnütgen Cologne
(for more information on the exhibition, please go here)
"Die Heiligen Drei Könige - Mythos, Kunst und Kult"
25. Okt - 25. Jan 2015
Museum Schnütgen Köln
(für mehr Informationen über die Ausstellung, bitte hier schauen)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year´s Waffles - Neujahrswaffeln

To all my friends and readers of my blog, I wish you health, the love of friends and family and peace within your hearts. I wish you the beauty of nature and the wisdom to choose priorities. I wish you generosity so you may share all good things that come to you. I wish you happiness and joy and blessings for the New Year. I wish you the best of everything for the New Year!

Bring in the New Year in style with simple yet special party food and treats. Or plan a laid-back family dinner for New Year's Day. These New Year´s Waffles (Neujahrswaffeln)  are wickedly addictive and just perfect as a not too sweet dessert at your party big or small. Enjoy just plain, or if feeling a bit more decadent, with lightly whipped cream or a good vanilla ice cream.

The history of these traditional crispy waffles dates back to the 16. century when they were first made by monks in their convent kitchens.

New Year´s Waffles - Neujahrswaffeln

Ingredients for the Waffle Rolls
  • 1/4 l water
  • 250 grams rock candy (white rock candy for a lighter colored waffle, brown rock candy for a darker colored waffle) or regular sugar
  • 200 grams unsalted butter 
  • 2 eggs (L) organic or free range whenever possible
  • 1 pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (from Ceylon if possible)
  • 1 package pure vanilla sugar (2 1/2 tsps) or homemade vanilla sugar. 
  • 250 grams wheat flour
  • This recipe makes about 24 waffle rolls.

Preparation of the Waffle Rolls
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil, add the rock candy (or sugar) and stir carefully until it is completely dissolved.
  2. Add the butter and continue to stir until the butter has melted.
  3. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool completely.
  4. When ready to bake your waffle rolls, preheat your waffle maker according to the manufacturer´s instructions.
  5. Transfer the cooled butter mixture to a mixing bowl.
  6. Add the eggs, salt, cinnamon, vanilla sugar, and flour to th ebowl. Using a a large whisk stir the batter until there are no lumps left.
  7. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of batter in the center of the iron.
  8. Bake for about a minute or two, then check for proper color.
  9. Quickly remove the waffle from the waffle maker onto a rack. Make a roll or a cone. If the waffle is too hot to handle with your bare hands, use a cloth to help lift and roll the waffle. 
  10. Hold the waffle roll a few seconds to set its shape then place on the wire rack to cool completely. 
  • The batter is meant to be thick but still runny, you are looking for a honey-like consistency here.
  • Do not be tempted to add milk to the batter, as that will result in soft, not crisp waffles.
  • The waffle rolls are meant to be really crispy.
  • Should you have any leftover waffles, make sure to keep them in a cookie tin in a cool place, so that they stay crispy. 
NOTE: Around here, you can find a really good specialty waffle roll maker from Cloer here. In the US and Canada, you can find a similar waffle cone maker from Chef´s Choice here.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Cottage Cooking Club - December Recipes

December marks the eight month of our international online cooking group, The Cottage Cooking Club. As a group, recipe by recipe, we are cooking and learning our way through a wonderful vegetable cookbook written in 2011 by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, called „River Cottage Everyday Veg“.

The Cottage Cooking Club is meant to be a project aimed at incorporating more vegetable dishes in our everyday cooking, getting to know less known vegetables, learning new ways to prepare tasty and healthy dishes, and sharing them with family and friends.

All the members of this cooking group will make an effort to use as much local, regional, organic and also seasonal produce as is resonably possible. With that goal in mind, during the month of December, I prepared a nice array of vegetable dishes from the recipe line-up.

Let us start with a picture of these incredibly pretty purple Brussels sprouts ("choux de Bruxelles violet" as the French call it or "lila Rosenkohl" as we call it and which translates as "purple rose cabbage"). This was the first time I came across them and I could not resist their undeniably charming appearance.

Since I prepared nine out of ten recipes, I will write about each dish according to the order in which I prepared them.

My first recipe for this December post was the Curried sweet potato soup (page 166) from the chapter "Hefty Soups". Sweet potatoes are root vegetables that resemble potatoes, although they are different in taste and texture and are not related to the potato. They have a deep-orange, creamy-textured flesh that is much lighter and fluffier than that of the potato and, as their name suggests, they have a slightly sweet flavor which harmonized so well with the spices used in this recipe.

This wonderful warming winter soup is cooked with onions, garlic, grated fresh ginger, red chilies, garam masala, curry powder, cubed sweet potatoes, and vegetable stock (page 130). After the soup is puréed, you add coconut milk, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste - finish with some lovely yogurt and fresh coriander (I opted for beetroot, alfalfa and leek sprouts instead). 

This is such a wonderful recipe. The soup is rich and creamy, with just the right kick from the spices, and just the right amout of sweetness from the sweet potatoes and the coconut milk - all counter-balanced by the tang from the lime juice. A must try, no doubt! 

The second recipe this month was Brussels sprouts, apple and cheddar (page 108), from the chapter "Raw Assemblies".

In general, Brussels sprouts suffer from a dreadful reputation. Like miniature versions of the common cabbage, they grow on large stalks and have a sweet, nutty flavour, which some people can find too pungent. But, prepared according to this recipe and treated with a touch of love and care, these little buds will most certainly become your family´s winter favorite.

Who would have thought that raw Brussels sprouts were this delicious - I should add that these purple ones were very mild tasting, very reminiscent of red cabbage. We loved the preparation of this dish. Other than thinly sliced Brussels sprouts, you will need a crisp eating apple, nuts (I used walnuts) and cheese (I used shaved Parmigiano Reggiano). For the dressing it was lemon juice, olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Such a fresh, beautiful salad with a great balance of flavors - lots of delightful crunchiness from the sprouts, sweetness from the apple and saltiness from the cheese.

Recipe number three was the Corner shop spanakopita (page 54), from the chapter "Comfort Food & Feasts". I served this as part of my Christmas spread, hence the star-shaped cut-outs on top of the dish.

This recipe came about as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall´s answer to a friend´s challenge to prepare dinner with items available at the average convenient store - therefore you can use frozen spinach in this recipe - although I used fresh one because I simply could not make myself walk past the fresh one to head for the frozen one and because I just love the taste of fresh spinach, although I must admit that it was quite the task to clean this huge bunch that I had carted home for this recipe.

Once you have prepared the spinach and it has cooled off somewhat, ladle half of it into a pretty oven-proof dish, add crumbled feta, then the rest of the spinach, cover with puff pastry, brush with an egg wash and bake - voilà - this is one of the tastiest, easiest, crowd-pleaser of a spinach dish that you are likely to come across!

The Sweetcorn fritters with corinader or mint raita (page 325), from the chapter "Mezze & Tapas" would make a great, spicy addition to your New Year´s spread. 

Corn fritters are always a big hit with the kids - these were a bit more on the spicy side of things - with gram flour, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne pepper, and spring onions they packed quite a punch. For the cooling raita, I used yogurt, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and chives - if you are into spicy foods, these fritters with their lovely dark-golden hue will most certainly please your palate. 

Leek risotto with chestnuts (page 270), from the chapter "Pasta & Rice" was the one recipe that received a lot of raving reviews at our house - sweet leeks, sautéed in butter and oil and mixed with lovely Italian risotto rice as well as some dry Italian white wine and homemade vegetable stock was a huge hit. One of my favorite recipes so far. 

The final touch for the risotto was some fresh thyme and fried thin slices of chestnuts - goodness they are so wonderful as a topping to this risotto, that I decided to add them to one of my other dishes I made from the December line-up, the Salsify purée.

Looking for a wonderful side dish - try the Roasted roots with apple and rosemary (page 361), from the chapter of "Roast, Grill & Barbecue". Such an easy recipe and so versatile. I decided to use red-skinned and purple potatoes (the "Vitelotte" variety) on the day I prepared this recipe. I have prepared it with parsnips and carrots before and we loved that too. 

You can use the root vegetables that you have on hand, roast them for a good 35 minutes with olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper, then add sliced cooking apples (the ones that hold their shape) and fresh rosemary and roast for an additional 15 minutes - hard to find someone who does not enjoy roasted root vegetables with some sweet apples and rosemary.

The next recipe I prepared was the biggest surprise to me this month. For some reason I was not sure that I would enjoy the Quick chickpea pasta (page 246), from the chapter "Store-Cupboard Suppers".

With so few ingredients I made sure to choose a really good-quality variety of orecchiette. There are so many different ones to choose from at my favorite Italian market and I kept thinking that I have an amazing recipe for homemade orecchiette but I resisted the urge to make them myself and bought some wonderful looking ones called "orecchiette strascinati", a type of robust orecchiette from the region of Puglia - they held their shape quite well during cooking and were robust enough to hold their own in this easy dish of pasta, chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, chili peppers and grated hard cheese. Fried sage leaves added a nice bit of color to this incredibly easy and tasty pasta dish.

One of the lesser known root vegetables, salsify is also known as "oyster plant" because it tastes slightly of oysters. Around here we also call it "Schwarzwurzel", which translates into "black roots". This typical winter vegetable is quite popular in Belgium and the Netherlands these days but I remember my grand-mother preparing it and I could not wait to give this recipe a try. The most difficult part was finding it - it took me quite a while - no one seems to ask for it much these days, too bad because it has a wonderful intense flavor and it is very versatile. 

The Salsify purée (page 387), from the chapter "Side Dishes" is a delightful way to prepare this veg with a bit of old-world-charm - I added some fried chestnut slices for garnish and a drizzle of cold-pressed walnut oil - delicious, creamy and a lovely taste that is a bit hard to describe and a winter-white color to boot. Absolutely not the way my grand-mother used to prepare this veg but quite fabulous!.

Last but not least, another recipe that I could not wait to try. The Bruschetta with cavolo nero or "cabbage on toast" (page 200), from the chapter "Bready Things".

Once you have decided wether you will use the cavolo nero (a kind of dark Italian kale from the Tuscan region), regular kale or savoy cabbage, all you will need to get is some wonderful country style bread, like the Ciabatta Pugliese that I used.

The cavolo nero has a good, strong flavor. It can be used as a substitute in all recipes that require cabbage but it is particularly good in soups such as the classic Tuscan soup, ribolitta. But cavolo nero is equally delicious simply fried in olive oil with garlic and chilies or as a topping for bruschetta - this is my kind of recipe. Loved the earthy flavor of the cabbage together with garlic, olive oil, pepper and salt. 

Another month full of wonderful vegetable dishes – we certainly enjoy the recipes from this cookbook. And we are all looking forward to another year of wonderful, family-friendly vegetable dishes.

Please note, that for copyright reasons, we do NOT publish the recipes. If you enjoy the recipes in our series, hopefully, the wonderfully talented and enthusiastic members of the Cottage Cooking Club and their wonderful posts can convince you to get a copy of this lovely book. Better yet, do make sure to join us in this cooking adventure! 

For more information on the participation rules, please go here.

To see which wonderful dishes the other members of the Cottage Cooking Club prepared during the month of December, please go here.