29 February 2012

A photo a day

Lesley's March food photo-a-day challenge starts tomorrow and I've decided to join in. Excited? Oh yeah!

Here's what's on the menu:

Let's go!

Want to join in, too? Just post your pictures on Facebook, Instagramm, twitter, or your blog, using the hashtag #marchfoodphotos.

28 February 2012

Triple-cheese saffron tortellini in a lemon basil cream sauce

Making my own pasta resulted in one of the biggest messes (if not the biggest mess) I ever left a kitchen in. And that includes the time when I made a fondant-covered three-layer orange buttercream cake for my mum's 51st birthday.
So why even blog about something that made me scrub and vacuum-clean the whole kitchen and wash more dishes than I've ever washed consequent to making one (!) bowl of food? Simple answer: because it was absolutely and totally worth it. Full stop.

26 February 2012


About two weeks ago when it was still freezing outside, I bought a basil plant. If you think about it, it's a bit perverted to buy a fragile Mediterranean summer plant when it's -15° C outside and the world looks like Marshmallow Country. But it was just standing there in the supermarket, all green and spring-y and lovely, and I really couldn't resist. And then all the way back from the supermarket, there was this lovely basil smell wafting from my grocery bag, and suddenly everything seemed a bit cheerier. Mmmmmmh ...  A bit of summer in the middle of Winter Wonderland.
I am absolutely infatuated with basil. If I could only use one herb for the rest of my life, I'd choose basil. Sadly, my plants never have a really a long lifespan because I just keep eating the leaves all day long, and after a week or two (at the most!), there's nothing left but a few sad withered stems...
But I'll try very hard this time. Promise.
So with this basil plant, the first signs of spring and summer had sneaked into the flat. And what better to greet them with than Italian food?

I finally decided on tortano which I found a recipe for in One more slice. On what? Tortano. No, I hadn't heard of it before either. It is similar to calzone only with a delicious bread dough instead of the pizza dough. It is supposed to be round with a hole in the middle, kinda like an uber-large stuffed ciabatta bagel but when I took mine out of the oven, a lot of the filling had oozed out, the hole was filled with molten mozzarella and it didn't look very pretty... So you only get a picture of the last quarter that was left over the next day. And I must say, that last quarter was the very best. Tortano taste nice when it's still warm but loads better when it's cold. So be patient and let it cool completely before digging in. I know it's hard but you'll be rewarded.

I used a mozzarella tomato turkey basil stuffing but you can basically stuff tortano with whatever you like. Maybe sweet stuffings wouldn't be the very best idea, but as for the savoury stuff: anything goes. Next time maybe some walnuts, honey and goat's cheese? Or quattro formaggi? Or veggies? Or spinach and feta? Mmmh, looking forward to it. A lot.

(Basic recipe by Leila Lindholm)

15 g yeast
300 ml/1.2 cups lukewarm water
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp honey
1.5 Tbsp salt
375 g/3.5 cups flour

1 mozzarella cheese
250 g/1.5 cups thinly sliced turkey ham
2 tomatoes
2 Tbsp crema di balsamico
A handful of basil leaves 

In a large bowl, mix water olive oil, honey, and salt. Add the yeast and stir to dissolve. Little by little, mix in the flour, and knead until you have a smooth, elastic dough. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and leave to rise in a warm, non-draughty place for 40-60 minutes. The slightly preheated oven or the pantry would be good choices here. 

Meanwhile, dice the tomatoes and the mozzarella, chop the turkey and the basil leaves. Combine tomatoes, mozzarella, turkey, and basil in a bowl, add the crema di balsamio and season to taste.

On a well-floured surface, press the dough into a rectangular plate (about 1 cm /0.5 in thick). Don't use a rolling pin as it would press all the air out of the dough. Spread the filling on top.
Preheat your oven to 250° C/ 480° F.

Brush the edges of the dough with water to make it stick, then roll the whole thing up, and shape into a wreath. Transfer the wreath to a baking tray lined with baking paper, and dust with flour. Cover with the towel again and leave to rise for 30 minutes.
Put the baking tray into the oven and immediately turn down the heat to 200° C/390° F. Bake for 35-45 minutes. Let cool completely before eating.

Perfect for a picnic or a tailgate party, don't you think?

21 February 2012

Balsamic onion and goat's cheese galette

And yet another recipe that undeservedly had to wait for quite some time until it was published. I don't really know why. I really liked it because, well, honestly, what's not to like? It contains five of my alltime favourite ingredients which are fried onions, balsamic vinegar, goat's cheese, white wine and puff pastry, aaand it's a very quick recipe, too, which is always an advantage.


This would be perfect on a warm summer's night on a balcony overlooking Paris, with a glass of Bordeaux in your hand and your favourite person next to you. Failing that, your kitchen and some French music from the stereo will do, too.

Balsamic onion and goat's cheese galette
Serves 1

3 rectangular sheets of puff pastry
150 g/0.6 cups soft goat's cheese
3 large onions (i used 2 red and a white one)
1 egg
1 Tbsp Crema di balsamico
Some white wine
A few rosemary twigs
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Chop the onions. Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the onions until soft and translucent. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and the crema di balsamico (you can also use regular balsamic vinegar). Give it a good stir, then remove from heat.

Preheat your oven to 200° C/390° F.

On a flat surface, roll out the puff pastry until you have a round disk about 30 cm/12 inches in diameter. Transfer it to a baking tray. Crumble the goat's cheese onto the pastry, leaving some space around the edges for folding. Put the onions on top and fold in the edges. Brush the edges with egg wash and pour some white wine over the filling.

Pop it into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.

If it were physically and legally possible to marry a dish, this would be the one. (Although I would frequently cheat on it, starting at the wedding banquet. But I would always come back.)

19 February 2012

The Vitamin Bomb or Just Another Salad

I've been craving quite a lot of very healthy food lately. The days of stuffing myself with chocolate and cheese seem to have disappeared with the snow, and with the more vernal temperatures outside, it is definitely time to integrate a bit of spring into my daily menu.


This salad contains a whole lot of healthy, good stuff and has a delightfully spring-y, sunny, lively taste. It also containes some fruits which I, personally, love in salads. Salads that only contain vegetables are boring. Booooring.
This one isn't.

The bread in the background is homemade, of course, but there won't be a recipe because I used an organic, store-bought mix where I only had to add yeast and water. Shame on me, I know. I already had my punishment since the yeast I used didn't rise (because its best before date had expired almost four years ago... ...er... ...um... For my defence, I have to say that it was dry yeast and by looking at it, you couldn't tell that it was supposed to have landed in a dumpster in 2008) and I had to run to the supermarket to buy some fresh yeast. It all worked out in the end, though, and the result is very tasty.

The Vitamin Bomb

Serves 1

A generous handful of mixed salads (I used lamb's lettuce and something else I forgot the name of)
A kiwi
Half an apple
About one quarter of a cucumber
4 Tbsp sunflower seeds
Soy sauce

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1 tsp maple syrup
Juice from half a lemon

Wash the salad, drain it and put it into a bowl. Peel the kiwi. Chop the apple, kiwi, and cucumber, and add to the salad.

In a small frying pan, roast the sunflower seeds with a few dashes of soy sauce on a very high heat for about 5 minutes. Keep stirring or you'll end up with charcoal.

Mix the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup and lemon juice, and season to taste, then pour it over the salad. Sprinkle the sunflower seeds on top.

Serve with bread and butter.

15 February 2012

Warm fennel and beetroot salad

This recipe has been hanging around in my drafted posts for over a month now which is something it totally did not deserve. Now it finally is time for it to stand in the spotlight.
It's a simple and easy wintery salad slash stir fry which would go very nicely with some quinoa or a bowl of brown rice. I, however, prefer it on its own because I feel it doesn't really need anything else.

It has quickly become one of my favourite warm salads (they're just perfect for winter, aren't they?). Especially because the ingredients are so extraordinarily pretty ...

... but also because it tastes pretty spectacular. I love beetroot. I love its ruby colour (but not so much when I desparately try to get it off my fingers) and its earthy taste which is accentuated perfectly by the aniseed-y fennel. A bit of honey, lemon and ginger for a nice extra twist, and off you go. Yum!
I could also imagine this with a sweet potato instead of the beetroot, or maybe even some celeriac. Just play around with it a bit.

Warm fennel and beetroot salad
(Recipe by eve magazine 01/2012)

2-3 small or medium sized beetroots
1 large fennel bulb
1 large clove of garlic
1 tsp honey
A bit of ginger (I used about 2-3 cm/1 in of fresh ginger)
Half a lemon
A pinch of chili flakes
A few twigs of rosemary
Olive oil

Wash the beetroots and the fennel bulb. Skin the beetroot and cut it into bite-sized chunks. They shouldn't be too thick or they will take a looong time to cook. Remove the greens from the fennel bulb and cut it into chunks, too.

Heat some olive oil in a largish frying pan until searing hot. Toss in the veggies and fry on high heat for about 10-15 minutes. Be careful to stir in order to avoid burning. Mince the garlic and add it to the veggies a few minutes before they are done.

Finely mince the ginger and the rosemary, and put into a small glass. Add the lemon juice and the honey, and season to taste with pepper, salt and chili flakes.

Arrange the veggies on a nice serving dish and pour over the lemon ginger dressing.

Bon appétit!

09 February 2012

Dutch Baby Oven Pancake

The Dutch baby, also known as the German pancake, the Bismarck, or the Dutch puff (according to Wikipedia) is a relative of the British Yorkshire pudding. A very large, very puffy, very egg-y and very loveable relative. Although it is derived from the real German pancake (which in fact is nothing but a less thin and a little less large crêpe) I, as a German, had never heard of it in the 24 years of my life until a few weeks ago (when I came across it on Tastespotting). And that's got to mean that it's not really a German recipe (or that it's been completely forgot about in our little country) because, believe me, there's no German pudding I don't know about.

But it has all the fluffy, egg-y, floury, buttery goodness of a German Mehlspeise so let's just consider it (re-)adopted into traditional German cuisine.
And it's even better than normal pancakes because you don't have to watch it or flip it or anything. Just pop it into the oven and let the heat do all the work for you. Easy-peasy.


That's what it looked like when it came out of the oven (the white stuff in the middle is icing sugar). A naked Dutch baby, so to say (boy, that sounds a bit weird). It was actually quite a bit larger but immediately collapsed the moment I removed it from the cosy heat of the oven. Like a souffle. Or a deflating balloon. Puff!

The Dutch baby is traditionally eaten with icing sugar, apples and/or lemon slices but I prefer the more decadent version, as always. This one has a topping of cream cheese, raspberries (defrosted frozen ones, of course), brown sugar, and chocolate chips.

Dutch Baby Oven Pancake
Recipe by Completely delicious

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 large eggs
60 g/0.5 cup all-purpose flour
125 ml/0.5 cup whole milk
2 Tbsp sugar
1 pinch of vanilla
0.25 tsp salt
4 Tbsp cream cheese (optional)
1 Tbsp brown sugar (optional)
100 g/1 cup raspberries (optional)
1 Tbsp chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat your oven to 205° C/400° F.

Put the butter into a medium-sized (22 cm/9 in) ovenproof frying pan. When the oven's warm enough, put in the pan until the butter has melted.

Meanwhile, mix the eggs, flour, milk, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Remove the pan from the oven and swirl the butter until bottom and sides of the pan are completely coated. Then pour in the pancake mixture, put it back into the oven and bake for around 25-30 minutes, checking on it occasionally.

Serve hot with cream cheese, raspberries, brown sugar, and chocolate chips, or with a topping of your choice.

05 February 2012

Warm pearl barley salad with avocado, rucola, and balsamic roasted sweet potatoes

 Something healthy for a change. And before you run away I should propably mention that it's delicious, too. My stomach was very happy.

Quick, easy, healthy and tasty, what more could you possibly want ..?

Warm pearl barley salad with avocado, rucola, and balsamic roasted sweet potatoes
(loosely based on a recipe by Scandi Foodie)
Serves 1

150 g/0.75 cup pearl barley
250 g/1.5 cups sweet potato
A handful of rocket
Quarter an avocado
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
Juice from half a lemon
Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 180° C/350° F.

Peel the sweet potato and cut it into chunks. Put them on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and toss until completely coated. Pop the tray into the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil the pearl barley in plenty of water until soft (about 20-30 minutes as well).

Wash the rocket, then chop it. Dice the avocado. Put both in a bowl. Add the pearl barley when it's done, pour in the lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Add more balsamic vinegar if you feel like it.

Serve with the roasted sweet potatoes on top.

03 February 2012

Maple Treacle Oat Loaf or I Accidentally Stumbled Upon Bread Paradise

I've recently become very obsessed with Pinterest, an absolutely fabulous site where one can bookmark all the interesting pictures one come's across while surfing and sort them into differently themed boards (for the social consequences of referring to oneself as "one", please consult Dr. Sheldon Cooper). A perfect place for me to act out my geekiness and my obsession with food. Well, and it was on Pinterest that I stumbled upon this recipe. Maple Molasses Oatmeal Boule or Maple Treacle Oat Loaf as I rechristened it.
Adding syrup to a bread dough seemed like a fairly idiotic thing to do (honestly, isn't bread supposed to be kinda neutral?) so when I pinned this recipe, it was mostly because I found it extremely odd and not so much out of an urge to make it someday. However, yesterday it was (a) icy cold (and it snowed! Awww!), so I (b) didn't want to go out, (c) was out of bread, (d) had all the ingredients for this bread at home, and (e) was extremely bored.What else is a girl supposed to do in a situation like that but giving the weird recipe a go? And I really, really didn't expect it to enter the bread hall of fame but rather to end up in the 'been there, done that, don't need to do it again' box. It was supposed to be a nice pastime for an afternoon, fill my bread bin for a few days, taste strange, and then go back to the oddity shelf where it came from.


But, surprise! surprise!, it turned out perfect! A real treat. And it really deserves a place in the bread hall of fame, after all.

I just love the colour and the texture, and the treacly smell is dazzling...! Mmhhh, it's just so GOOD! Excuse me while I go have another slice.

Ok, I'm back. (The jam is homemade strawberry rhubarb vanilla, in case anyone's wondering.)
 Even though it's a syrup bread and the first idea coming to mind would be to eat it with jam, chocolate spread or peanut butter, it also is fabulous with savoury toppings. You can barely taste the maple syrup but the treacle is quite prominent and not at all too sweet, adding a nice, mildly spicy aroma. And it's definitely something you don't get every day.

Maple Treacle Oat Loaf
Makes for 1 loaf

3 tsp dry active yeast
500 ml/1 cup warm water
55 g/0.16 cup black treacle (if you can't get your hands on black treacle, you can substitute sugar beet syrup)
75 g/0.25 cup maple syrup
1 tsp salt
50 g/0.5 cup multi grain oats - finely ground
250-300 g/2.5-3 cups flour (the recipe calls for all purpose, I used wholewheat)

In a large bowl, mix yeast and water. Allow to sit until the yeast starts to bubble (about 5 minutes), then add salt, maple syrup, and treacle. Stir to combine, using a wooden spoon (don't use a metal spoon as it will react with your yeast and propably kill it. Yeast is a living culture and has to be treated very carefully).

Add the oats and the flour, and continue to stir, adding more flour or warm water if necessary (you might need more water especially if you use wholewheat flour as it soaks up more fluid than the all purpose kind). Knead until the dough is smooth, elastic, and only slightly sticky, then cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and leave to rise in a warm, non-draughty place for 1-1.5 hours until it's doubled in volume. Once again, be very careful. If there's a draught where the dough is left to rise, the yeast will catch a cold, get very sick, and die. Honestly.

On a floured surface, knead the dough for a few minutes, then shape into a round loaf and put it on a parchment-lined baking tray. Cover with the towel again and leave to rise for another 40-60 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 210° C/425° F.

Dust the loaf with flour and make 3 cuts across the surface, then put it into the oven. Fill another baking tray or a cake tin with water and put it on a wire rack below the bread. Bake for 20-30 minutes, checking occasionally. The loaf is done when it's reached a dark brown colour and makes a hollow sound when tapped on the base.

Enjoy your bread, I'll go now and eat another slice of mine. At this rate, the loaf'll be gone by tomorrow...