Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pesto

I got a blender for my birthday this year. And I like splatter movies. No, wait, wrong story. Anyway, so I recieved a blender for my birthday and, to be honest, I really don't remember how I prepared meals without it or if I even cooked without it. It feels like it immediately became my number one kitchen untensile. I use it to make smoothies, to make pancake dough, and I also use it to make pesto. 
Now, pesto, is preparing pesto really cooking? Well it might not be the most elaborate dish, but it sure can be one of the tasties. I highly recommend to really spend an extra penny on the ingredients though, since dull olive oil can really ruin the whole pesto and turn your pasta into a greasy mess. Also, if you are still a beginner in this lovely food-blogging world of ours, like I am, take my piece of advice and choose other dishes to take photos of. There is a reason why the pesto and pasta are not mixed on the photos. Pesto was not made for food-photography, I think, but I tried my very best. 



copyright of all photos j.

Pesto

1-2 hand(s) full of fresh basil leaves
2-3 tablespoons of pine nuts, cashew nuts, or a mixture of both
100 ml of olive oil
3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan or Pecorino
1 garlic clove
some salt and pepper

Roast the nuts in a pan and let them cool off. Put the olive oil, the basil, the garlic, the cheese and the nuts into a blender and mix it all until you get a smooth pesto. Try some, and in case it is necessary, add some salt and pepper. Be aware that the cheese already contains salt, so don't be too easy on adding extra salt before you try. This recipe makes 2-3 servings. You can keep the pesto in the fridge  for a couple of days if you cover the surface with a layer of olive oil. You can eat this pesto with bread, cheese, or pasta. When you mix the pesto with pasta, add a little bit of the water you used to cook the pasta. That way, it will be extra creamy. 


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Size does matter

I do like coffee, preferably with milk, sugar and icecubes. But my true love is tea. I come from a tea-drinking family, where coffee was something reserved for guests. When I moved to another town to study, I started to drink tea out of a really big cup. It was white and had a rooster on the side. On the inside, it said "Save your breath to cool your porridge". Need I say that I was in love with my tea cup? I still find it puzzling that I broke that cup into pieces one morning after having dreamt that it was broken. From that moment on, I started to believe. In coincidence...
After a couple of months of grief and no replacement in sight, it was my sister who brought back the tea-cup joy into my life. She gave me a huge blue tea cup, a tea cup that holds so much tea, some even refer to it as a bucket. Of course, it can't replace my rooster cup, but I love it dearly and already fear the night that I will dream that it will break, too.
As I drink a lot of tea, I like to alternate. Here is my version of black vanilla tea. 



copyright of all photos j.
  
Black Vanilla Tea

mild black tea leaves
one vanilla bean  (scratched out, prepare the tea whenever you just made a cake that requires the vanilla)

Put the leaves and the scratched-out vanilla bean into a jar. After one week, the tea is ready to use. You can even cut up the vanilla bean into little pieces that you mix with the tea leaves. That way, you will actually pour hot water over the tea leaves and the vanilla.
It makes delicous, lightly scented tea which you can drink warm, but also as ice tea.
To go with the tea, I recommend my lemon cookies.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Alb-lentils salad

I grew up in a small village in southern Germany but I took advantage of every little chance to get out of there. I was made for big city life, not country life. The older I get, the more I am at least able to enjoy the landscape "down there". On the culinary side, there is not too much I miss from that region, either. Schwartenmagen for instance, is so not my taste. But there are also a few things I like. Laugengebäck or Spätzle are things I sometimes miss. We never ate that many Swabian dishes in my family anyway, but there is one dish which I encountered several times when I had lunch at a friend's place: Lentils with Spätzle. I was always totally flabbergasted (which, by the way, must be one of the coolest words, like, ever) by that weird combination. I mean, it's like eating noodles with potatoes. Or french fries with rice! Carbs with carbs - can it get any more boring? So, you might have guessed it, lentils and Spätzle was not one of my favorite dishes either. 
The Swabian Alb used to be one of the biggest producing areas for lentils in Germany until the 1950s, and only recently have organic farmers started to grow the traditional kind of Alb-lentils again. Of course I had to try them, and they are actually very tasty, with a distinct flavour of nut. They are also consumer-friendly, as there is no need to soak them - just throw them into the hot water and they will be done in 20 minutes. Concerning aesthetics, they really do a great job coloring the water grass-green - cooooool!
Today's recipe is an Alb-lentils salad which is also easy to take along to work, so I will make this my second entry for the Blog event "essen für unterwegs".






copyright of all photos j.


Alb-lentils salad

75 g of Alb-lentils (I guess any other kind of lentils work just fine, too)
1/2 an apple
6 walnuts
some feta cheese (optional)
some Welsh onions (optional)

Balsamic vinegar
olive oil
pinch of sugar, salt and pepper


Boil the lentils for about 20 minutes until they are soft. Let the lentils cool off. In the meantime, chop one half of the apple up into small cubes (eat the other half while your cooking, remember, vitamins are healthy!). Chop up the walnuts.
In a bowl, mix 2 spoons of vinegar, 5 spoons of olive oil, the sugar, salt and pepper. Add the lentils, nuts and apple. You can let the salad rest over night in the fridge like that, if you want to take it to work the next day. Before serving, add the diced feta cheese and the chooped Welsh onions if you wish so (they missed the photo shoot since I added them in the morning after the photos had already been taken in the evening).
Makes one big lunch portion. The salad tastes best with a piece of bread!

The recipe is inspired by a salad recipe on the Alb-lentils' homepage: http://www.alb-leisa.de/.

Insider information: You see the three walnuts posing in the last two pictures? Don't they look familiar to you? That's right, they were already the models in the first photo of my last post, as they were the only walnuts in one piece in the bag. Wonder if I should start to call them Heidi, Naomi and Gisele?

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Chocolate cakes gone nuts

I made these cakes last Sunday, when I had an urgent craving for something chocolaty. That doesn't happen too often, as I always say that fruit is my chocolate, meaning that while I would kill for a nice bowl of fresh fruit, I wouldn't necessarily do so for a piece of chocolate.
These chocolate cakes do taste really really good though, especially with the crunchy nuts on top - and what's even better: it only takes about 10 minutes to prepare them! On top of that, you don't need any exotic ingredients. Thus, they are the perfect cake to make when the stores are closed and your choices are limited to what your fridge and kitchen pantries have to offer. 




copyright of all photos j.


Chocolate cakes

80 g dark chocolate
30 g butter
1 egg
30 g sugar
25 g flour
a pinch of baking powder
some walnuts, or pecan nuts or whatever suits your mood

Preheat the oven at 180 °C. Use a double boiler to melt the chocolate and the butter. Add the sugar and the egg yoke. Wisp until smooth and then set aside to let it cool off. Now beat the egg white. Once the chocolate-butter-sugar-egg yoke-mix (yummmm) has cooled off a little, add the flour and the baking powder. Then, slowly fold in the egg white. Pour the dough into four cup cake molds and topp off with the nuts of your choice. Bake 15-20 minutes until the risen cakes are ready to serve. They taste best straight out of the oven, when they are still warm, and a little vanilla ice cream never hurt anyone...
This recipe makes 4 small cakes which is the perfect size for a single household. I count on your calculating skills if you want to make more than just four.
And, for the love of God, do not really serve lillies of the valley with the cake, unless you claim that your baking skills are to die for...