Saturday, May 29, 2010

Shrimp in a blanket

I really like Zora's new blog event. Home-made take away food is something I prepare a lot since I try to avoid eating at the cafeteria. For me, the perfect lunch is really tasty and not too expensive.  That works best when I prepare my own meals. So, I am really looking forward to get inspired by the recipes that all the creative food bloggers will send in. In the meantime, I will share one of my favorite home-made take away dishes - Shrimp in a blanket. The name is inspired by the good ol' pig in a blanket, which I have never eaten and probably never will because I am not tooo fond of sausages (you never know which left-overs the butcher used to make them). Now, for pigs in a blanket, you take one "blanket" for every "pig". With shrimp, that would mean an awful lot of tucking tired little shrimp in bed. So instead, the shrimp all get to share one blanket, it's cozier that way. And, since I am no seamstress, I buy the blankets at the supermarket. Before you now start to think "what the hell is she talking about? Blanket, pigs and shrimp?" - here is the recipe.

Copyrigth of all photos j.

Shrimp in a blanket

1 package of puff pastry (6 sheets)
4-5 cherry tomatoes
3-4 tablespoons of dill
70-100 gr of cream cheese
100 gr of shrimp
1 egg yoke

Defrost the puff pastry. Shame on me for not making fresh puff pastry, but the point of home -made take away food is that it should be something you can take along to work and at the same time, it shouldn't destroy your free evening the day before. So, we take the quick and simple option. Where were we in the recipe? Ahh, yeah, so defrost the puff pastry. Preheat the oven at 200 °C. Cut the cherry tomatoes in small dices. Strain the shrimp if they came in brine. Mix the shrimp, the tomatoe dices, the dill and the cream cheese. Season with pepper and salt, but be careful with the salt as the shrimp are usually already quite salty. Once the puff pastry has thawed, take the filling and place an equal amount of it in the middle of each pastry sheet. Then, fold every sheet and close the ends by tightly pressing them together. I sometimes use a fork, but your fingers work just fine, too. Take the egg yoke and brush the top of the pastry. Put the pastries into the oven, and bake until they get a nice golden brown color, which is usually after 20-25 minutes. 
Makes six servings which means you can eat two of them right away out of the oven when they are still hot for diner. The rest make a perfect lunch the next day, as they also taste great cold. If I liked hiking, I could also imagine that they would complement a perfect picknick.

I would like to nominate this recipe for Zorra's blog event "Essen für unterwegs".

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The ultimate cherry cheese cake

A little more than ten years ago I went to live in West Virginia as a high school exchange student for one year. West Virginia is not one of the best known states, neither in the US nor around the world. But, I assure you, it is worth a visit, and I especially recommend its wildlife during the Indian summer. In West Virginia two very special people not only allowed me into their home but also into their hearts. I guess we were a match made in "almost heaven". Ever since, my host family and I have tried to visit each other at least every two years. During these visits, we not only exchange memories and laughters, but also food: Graham crakers to be precise, and cherry pie filling. I need these care packages in order to prepare the best cherry cheese cake ever. But since I ran out of these ingredients, I had to alter the recipe a little bit this time: instead of Graham crakers, I had to use German butter cookies and I made my own cherry pie filling. 
Here is the recipe of the world's best cherry cheese cake, courtesy of the world's best host family!

 copyrigth of all photos j.

Cherry Cheese Cake

16 Graham crackers (I used a package of butter cookies)
1/2 cup of sugar (I used 60 gr of white sugar and 60 gr of brown sugar)
1/3 cup of melted butter (approximately 75 gr, but use as much as the cookie crumbs need)

8 ounces of cream cheese (that is ca. 250 gr)
3 eggs
1/2 cup of sugar (I used 110 gr of white sugar)

2 cans of cherry pie filling (I used 375 gr of morello cherries, the juice they come with and some starch)
whipped cream (optional)

Note: I gave you both the original version of the recipe and my adaption to the German market. Hope that won't confuse you...
Preheat the oven at 160 °C. Put the crackers/cookies into a plastic bag and smash them until you get what I call cookie-flour. Mix the cookie-flour, with the sugar and the melted butter. Press into a pan (13X9 inches, or 9X9). Mix the cream cheese, the sugar and the eggs in a blender and pour the mixture over the crust. Bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes until the cheese-topping is baked all the way through. Set aside and let it cool off. Now, if you happen to live in the States, take two cans of cherry pie filling and top the cake with it. If not, do the following: take the glass of morello cherries. Save the juice and heat it in a pot. Take some tablespoons of the juice and mix it with starch and throw that mixture back into the pot. I'm sorry, but I can't tell you how much starch you need, I forgot to count the spoons, but I guess I used between 4 and 5 teaspoons. Just add more if you feel that the juice is still too liquid. Only bring the mixture to a boil for a short while, add the cherries and let the mixture cool off, before you spread it over the cheesecake. If you like, you can even decorate the cake with whipped cream. If you don't like whipped cream (I don't) let your guests have your share!

One more comment before you give in to temptation: I do not get paid by the cookie company for showing a close up of their cookies. I  just think the cookies look fabulous in their simplicity.

And, once again, happy birthday Susanne (whose birthday cake this was!)!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cookies gone sour?

Some like it hot and some like it sour. Hedonistin does, for example (see here, here or here for instance). I do, too. I love to start my day with a fresh pink grapefruit. And I like all baked things with lemon, lime, pomelo, you name it. My problem with lemon cookies usually is that by the time they come out of the oven, you can only hint that lemon was put into the dough. That's why I always triple the amount of lemon juice required in a recipe. Here is my version of  'cookies gone sour'.

copyright of all photos j.

Lemon cookies with lime sprinkles

175 butter (at room temperature)
200 g sugar
200 g flour
1 egg
zests of 2 (organic!) lemons
4 tablespoons of lemon juice
50 g ground almonds

for the topping: 
(organic!) lime zests
confectioner's sugar
lime or lemon juice

Preheat the oven at 180 °C. Cream the butter, the sugar, the egg and the lemon zests until light. Add the flour and the ground almonds. Add the lemon juice.  The dough is really sticky, and when I say sticky, I mean sticky. You can put in in the freezer where it will stiffen and then be easier to form nice looking cookies, but I am usually too impatient for that. Take some baking paper and make little doughballs (about 2 cm in diameter). Now, take any drinking glas you like, dip the bottom in some sugar and press it onto the dough balls to flaten them. The sugar helps to keep the sticky dough away from the glas.  Dip the glass into the sugar repeatedly.
Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, until they turn brown at the edge. Allow the cookies to cool off. In the mean time, prepare the topping. Mix a little bit of lemon or lime juice with confectioner's sugar. The more sugar you use, the firmer the topping will be, but also the sweeter. I usually don't use that much sugar, and cover my cookies only lightly with the topping. I then add more sugar  to the mixing bowl to stiffen the topping and by using a tiny pastry bag, decorate the lightly frosted cookies with wild patterns. Before the frosting gets the chance to harden, I sprinkle lime zests over the cookies which will stick to the still sticky frosting. 
You can keep the cookies in a sealed metal box for about two weeks, though they usually only survive a couple of days... Makes about 30 cookies, although this is only an estimated guess: By the time I started counting, I had already tried one when the cookies came straight out of the oven, one when I added the first layer of topping, another one, when... well, you get my point.
To go with the cookies, I recommend a nice and warm cup of Earl Grey Tea.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Asparagus Sushi

When I was a little girl, I despised white asparagus. I was nevertheless really happy whenever my Mom announced that we would have white asparagus for dinner. Why? Because the side dishes were flewn in straight from cockaigne, or so it seemed: Salty pancakes and thick slices of the local butcher's best ham. And as if that wasn't enough, melted butter was poured on top of everything. So, while the grown-ups enjoyed the asparagus, I boycotted the vegetable and made pancake-ham rolls. Today's recipe is an homage to those days. And,  since I soon realized that white asparagus wasn't that bad after all, it now takes center stage in my rolls!
So: Don't Bogart that asparagus-roll my friend, pass it over to me!  Roll another one, just like the other one!

 Asparagus Sushi

white asparagus
(boiled) ham, ask your local butcher to make thicker-than-usual slices
2 eggs
10 tablespoons of flour
250 ml milk

Start with the pancake dough. I follow my sister's recipe to make them extra fluffy. Separate the eggs, and  beat the egg whites until they are firm. Pour the egg yolks, the milk, the flour and a pinch of salt into a blender and mix until you get a creamy dough. Carefully fold in the egg whites. Put the dough into the fridge and let it rest there for 30-60 minutes. 

Peel the asparagus. Boil the asparagus as usual. If you have never prepared asparagus before, here is how I do it: Put a teaspoon of sugar into a pot of boiling water (this will take away the bittern which asparagus potentially contains). Add the peeled asparagus. The tips don't need to be fully covered with water, they can steam, as they are softer. Take the asparagus out after 10-15 minutes, or whenever the asparagus slightly bends (the cooking time depends on the diameter of the asparagus).

In a greased pan, bake pancakes the size of your ham slices. 

Assemble the rolls: Take a pancake, add a slice of ham and an asparagus, and roll it up. Cut the roll into bite-sized pieces. 

Instead of soy sauce, serve melted butter to dip the asparagus sushi in!

I think the asparagus sushi would complement a brunch-buffet quite nicely, so I would like to nominate this recipe for Zorra's big  jubilee-blog-event!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


... is just another word for babyfood for grown-ups. It's fruit mashed up beyond recognizability, no teeth are needed and it doesn't contain salt.
Banana, pear and orange - that suits my taste at the moment!

copyright of all photos j.

Smoothie - the yellow one

1 small banana
1 small pear
the freshly squeezed juice of 2 oranges
3-4 table spoons of yoghurt

Dice the pear and the banana, put them into a blender. Add the orange juice and the yoghurt. Blend until the smoothie is, guess what, smoooooth! Pour into glasses and enjoy! And remember the old country saying: The colder the fruit the better the smoothie! Serves 1-2 people.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Not another food blog... ohhh yeahhh!

I have eaten frog legs in France, fruit bat in Palau, ugali in Tanzania. But for the love of God, I will never eat Schlachtplatte. Not in this life at least. Schlachtplatte looks the way it sounds and makes you feel full only from looking at it. Anticipatory heartburn included. So, another foodblog yes, but I promise: no Schlachtplatte-recipes!

Butchers and surgeons, the difference ain't fundamental! copyright j.

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