29 January 2012

Camembert à la surprise

Or simply camembert in a jacket. But à la surprise sounds much fancier so we'll just go with that...
For months I've been carrying around this idea of making something with a whole baked camembert but I didn't really know how I wanted to prepare it. I only knew I didn't want the old "breaded and served with cranberry sauce" variant. And so the time passed and no good idea came to mind... (this is starting to sound like a really bad fairytale. I promise, I'll come to my point very soon)...until yesterday. Long story short: Yesterday's What shall I have for dinner? problem developed into a basic I have all those ingredients that need to be eaten before they go bad so what am I going to make them into situation, and suddenly everything fell into place: Spinach and tomato stuffed camembert in a puff pastry jacket. Clever, eh?

It's neither particularily healthy nor low fat but who cares. It's winter, you're not supposed to eat low fat in winter anyway. We got hit by an extreme cold wave a couple of days ago, and it's fucking freezing around here, so fat, cheesy, warming comfort food is no longer an option but a necessity. No excuses.

Camembert à la surprise
Serves 1 hungry person (or 2 as an entrée)

3 rectangular sheets of puff pastry, defrosted
125 g/1 cup spinach
1 tomato, quartered
2 Tbsp almonds
1 clove of garlic
1 camembert
Salt and pepper
Some olive oil

Preheat your oven to 200° C/390° F.

On a flat, smooth surface, roll out the puff pastry until you have one fairly round disk of about 30 cm in diameter. Don't knead it in advance, never ever knead puff pastry!

Defrost your spinach if necessary. Make sure you get rid of all the excess fluid from the spinach, then put spinach, the tomato quartes, the almonds, and the garlic into the food processor and blend for about 2-3 seconds. You don't want it do be too smooth, there should still be some chunks. Season to taste.

Horizontally halve the camembert. Put one half on the puff pastry disk, generously spread it with the filling, and top with the other half. Gather up the edges of the pastry at the top and twist them to prevent the whole thing from falling open again. Brush it with olive oil then transfer to a baking tray. Bake for 30 minutes.

After baking, let cool for a few minutes (the cheese's horribly hot) before digging in. Bon appétit!

In case you have some of the filling left over: it's also very good on its own straight out of the bowl or as a relish substitute in cheese or turkey sandwiches.


28 January 2012


I haven't found a really good recipe for it yet but isn't Romanesco more a work of art than a broccoli anyway? Everything is in divine proportion, Fibonacci spirals and all. Mathematics in a vegetable...


24 January 2012

Roasted cherry tomatoes and a mushroom omelette

Oh, lazy sundays, lazy sundays!
Sleeping in, scuffling around the flat one's pyjamas all day, snuggling up on the sofa, reading the paper, sipping a cup of tea. Some rays of sun fall through the windows, the cat stalks past, purring loudly (no, I don't have a cat either, but just work with me here. It's such a nice picture), your favourite music wafts quietly out of the stereo. Nobody calls, nobody mails, nobody wants anything, you've got absolutely nothing to do. Just peace and quiet.
But, oh, what to do when the stomach starts growling? French toast? Waffles? Nah, we do that every sunday. How about something savoury? Yes? Well, you're in luck because I've got the perfect idea: A nice fluffy omelette with some roasted tomatoes on top. Like that? I thought so.

This is also the perfect choice when you're having someone over for breakfast. It looks like a lot of effort but is actually very quick and easy.

I'm a huge fan of roasted tomatoes. They're also gorgeous with fresh bread and goat's cheese.
The effect roasting has on tomatoes is quite fascinating: The loose all their tartness and develop an incredibly fruity sweetness which is complemented nicely by a bit of salt. The colour's pretty, too, it becomes a very bright, almost orange-y red.

Roasted cherry tomatoes and a mushroom omelette
(Serves 3 normal or 2 hungry people)

1 risp of cherry tomatoes
1 shallot (alternatively a small red onion)
1 small clove of garlic
Half a packet of feta cheese (about 125 g/0.5 cups)
300 g/3 cups mixed mushrooms (I used brown cap, oyster and porcini)
3 large eggs

Some salt
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 230°C/450° F.

Clean and slice the mushrooms, dice the shallot, mince the garlic, cut the feta into cubes.

Put the tomatoes in a small roasting tin, then shower them with a healthy glug of olive oil and a generous pinch of salt. Pop the tin into the oven for about 10-15 minutes. After 5-10 minutes, add a third of the sliced mushrooms.

Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a smallish(!) frying pan. Add the shallots and fry until translucent. Add more oil, turn up the heat and toss in the remaining mushrooms.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs, then pour them into the pan. Reduce the heat immediately, add the feta and give the whole thing a few quick stirs to combine. Season to taste, then leave it to set. When the omelette has set, flip it over and cook for another few minutes.

Serve with the roasted tomatoes and mushrooms on top. It's glorious!

16 January 2012

Salted Spice Caramel Hot Chocolate and Munich's best chocolaterie

You know those winter days when you come home after a bad day at school or work, frozen to the bone, craving nothing but warmth and comfort? Well, then this is exactly what you need: A good steaming cup of hot chocolate. With all the necessary knickknacks to make it an almost religious experience and to make you forget your troubles.

Hmm, maybe I should open a chocolaterie? As in Chocolat. Oh, that'd be lovely...

Salted Spice Caramel Hot Chocolate
Serves 2

750 ml/24 fl. oz. milk
75 g/o.5 cups chocolate (I love Simón Coll's Xocolata à la pedra, but any good(!) dark chocolate will do)
8 cardamon pods
1 vanilla pod
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp golden caster sugar
1 generous pinch of pepper and chili

Crush the cardamon pods and extract the seeds, scrape the vanilla seeds out of the pod. Put the cardamon and vanilla seeds and the empty vanilla pod into a pot, add the sugar, salt and chocolate and pour in the milk.

Heat it all up, stirring constantly until the chocolate has melted, then remove the vanilla pod. Season with chili and pepper, and serve hot. You could also add a decadent spoon of whipped cream or rum for that extra bit of comfort. As you please.

A cup of that stuff has almost the same effect as going to the Götterspeise: It makes you feel like everything is going to be all right. The Götterspeise (Food of the Gods) which, in my humble opinion, is the finest chocolaterie in all of Munich, is a fairly small but incredibly beautiful shop, and the chocolates they sell make you weep with joy and your credit card groan with exhaustion. Every time I'm there, I'm seriously tempted to spend half my monthly salary on chocolate. Wouldn't be hard.
You can also enjoy a variety of hot chocolates, almond milk and other fancy comfort drinks right there and have a slice of one of their obscenely delicious cakes to go with it (my favourites are raspberry white truffel tart and chocolate ginger cheesecake). A sip. A bite. A smile. Everything is going to be fine, oh yes it is going to be fine.


 The chandelier is gorgeous, don't you think? I especially like the stucco. As for the rest: No talk. I think the pictures speak for themselves...

05 January 2012

East Coast Pot Pie

As far as I can tell pot pies are something very American. At least I had never heard of them before when I encountered them all over the American food blogs on Tastespotting. But, oh, did I fall in love!
I'm already a sucker for open pies but top them with a lid of pastry and I'm in heaven. Even more so if they're made in cute little individual pots. Awwww!

So, last week their time had finally come. We had some mushrooms and prawns left over that had to be eaten, and I was in charge of dinner. (Errm, to be honest: I put myself in charge of dinner by chasing everybody who wanted to help out of the kitchen. Everybody being my mum.) Pot pie, here I come (or you, depending on the point of view. But that is beside the point. I'm babbling. Again).

It's not like I've ever been to a beach on the American East Coast (or anywhere on the East Coast, for that matter) but this pie tastes exactly like what I imagine an afternoon there to feel like. It tastes like a fresh breeze with a hint of sea and salt, like summer holidays, long, sunny days, and some lazy hours on the veranda of a pastel-coloured wooden house overlooking the sea. And that's why I named it East Coast Pot Pie. Feel free to give it another name if you wish to do so.

They looked very promising, coming out of the oven, all golden and crusty. But then hacking one's fork into the crust, cracking it open, and being hit by that heavenly smell of the filling... ... oh my god, it was heaven! Grade: A+. Do come again.

East Coast Pot Pie
(Recipe for the crust loosely based on one by Naturally Ella)

75 g/3/4 cup flour (wholewheat or all-purpose)
6 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp curd
2 egg yolks
A generous pinch of salt
A generous pinch of sugar

2 shallots
Half a clove of garlic
8-10 button mushrooms
Half a lemon
180 g/0.5-0.75 cup prawns (cooked)
100 g/0.5 cup feta cheese
A generous glug of white wine
0.5 bunch of dill
Olive oil

First, make the pastry: Put flour, salt and sugar in a food processor (or a blender or whatever). Cut in the butter and pulse until you have a crumbly substance. Put that into a medium bowl, add the curd and the egg yolks, and knead into a smooth dough, adding more butter or flour if necessary. Wrap the dough in cling foil and refridgerate.

Chop the shallots, the mushrooms, and the dill. Mince the garlic. Heat the olive oil in a pan and fry the shallots and garlic until translucent. Turn up the heat, add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt, and fry for another few minutes, then add the prawns. Continue frying until the mushrooms are almost done, then deglaze with a healthy glug of white wine. Squeeze in the lemon juice, then take the pan of the heat, add the dill, crumble in the feta cheese and give it a good stir.

Preheat the oven to 200° C/400° F.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and divide it into thirds. Take two small pie pots, line each with a third of the pastry, then add half of the filling to each. Make the remaining pastry into two disks, put one on each pot. Now you can either brush the crust with olive oil or forget it like the blithering idiot that I am.

Bake for 25-35 minutes, then serve with some fresh cucumber and a glass of white wine.

01 January 2012

So this is the new year.

I hope you all had a wonderful New Year's Eve and will have a thoroughly enjoyable year 2012!
In my neck of the woods, the weather on this first day of 2012 isn't exactly nice which is why I present you with a picture I took on my glorious Christmas Day walk instead.

My New Year's Eve was very nice disregarding a somewhat unfortunate experience involving saffron sauce, a blender, and my accidentally spraying the kitchen with the former by means of the latter. However, most of the sauce was saved, and thereby, so was New Year's Eve dinner. Apart from that, dinner wasn't especially spectacular and I didn't take any pictures. 
But I have some nice recipes in store for the coming year and am looking forward to a lot of cooking, baking, eating, and feeding other people in order not to get too fat from eating all the food I am going to cook and bake.

Happy eating, er, New Year!