Sunday, August 29, 2010

Italian Plum and Apricot Cakes

The markets here are full with Italian plums and apricots at the moment! Usually, I buy some of each and eat them fresh as a snack, but this time, I wanted to make a cake. Since I couldn't decide over which fruits I wanted to use, I decided to make small cakes instead - some with Italian plums and some with apricots. Add some cinnamon-oatmeal-nuts-crumble and you'll have a tasty late-summer treat! In the end, I think the apricot-cakes won the Olympic Games of taste, by a narrow margin though!

Copyright of all photos j.

Italian Plum or Apricot Cakes

8 Italian Plums or Apricots
140 gr flour
60 gr soft butter
80 gr sugar
120 ml of milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla sugar
1 egg

1 table spoon of baking powder
pinch of salt

For the crumbles

1 tbs of flour
1 tbs of oatmeal
1 tbs of minced hazel nuts
1 tbs of sugar
1 tbs of butter (use more if needed)
1 tb of cinnamon 

Preheat the oven at 120 °C. Mix the ingredients for the crumbles and set them aside. Mix the Butter, the sugar and the vanilla sugar. Add the egg, then the flour, a pinch of salt and the milk. Pit the fruit. Fill the dough into 8 small paper molds, then press one fruit into each dough-filled mold with the open side facing up. Sprinkle the fruit with the cumbles. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.
Makes 8 small cakes!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pistachio Salad

One thing I remembered from earlier trips to California was the food stalls along the road selling all different kinds of nuts. This time, I almost had to wait to the very last day though, to buy some pistachios. Finally, driving North of San Francisco on our way to Stinson beach, I saw a stall and since it was late, they were already packing up. But I stopped the car immediately, jumped out, and wanted to buy a huge bag of pistachios. Only then did I realize that all the cash I had left was 7 dollars - and the bag was 8 dollars! Luckily, the seller was nice enough to sell the bag for 7 dollars! So, far this sounds like a bargain, right?? Well, so far it is. BUT this bag of pistachios meant that we had  just spent our last cash, which brougth us into real trouble when we wanted to cross the Golden Gate Bridge again, southbound, heading into the city. Why on earth can't you pay the toll for the Golden Gate Bridge with your credit card? I am still really mad when I think about it. Oh well, of course we were allowed to cross, but we will end up paying 6 dollars plus the 25 dollar fine for passing the bridge without paying as soon as we'll receive the violation-letter! So, in the end, it was the pistachios' fault, which makes them anything but a bargain! Nevertheless, they are delicious, and incorporated into this light, summerly salad, they bring back memories of a wonderful vacation!

copyrigth of all photos j.

Pistachio salad

1 chicken filet
1 apricot
1 plum
20 gr of salted pistachios
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
1 table spoon of heavy cream
sugar, salt and pepper

Chop the chicken filet into small pieces and fry them in a pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cut the apricot and the plum into small dices. Wash the lettuce. Mix one table spoon of olive oil, one table spoon of balsamic vinegar, and one table spoon of heavy cream with half a tea spoon of sugar, some salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss the lettuce into the bowl, spinkle with the dices plum and apricot and the pistachios. Add the fried chicken! Makes 2 servings! Tatstes best with a few slices of baguette!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Meals on wheels - Part III

Allrighty, this is the final wrap up of our wonderful vacation in Coastal California. We are slowly but steadily approaching San Francisco now. So, ok, technically, we have already been in San Francisco (Humphrey Slocombe) in last week's post. But today, there is even more! 
First, there is the Swanton Berry Farm! It's about an hour south of San Francisco and they grow all kinds of berries, though it clearly was strawberry season when we were there: endless rows of strawberries all the way to the horizon and back! The berries are organic, and you just grab a small basket and walk through the fields, picking as many strawberries as you like. They also sell strawberry shortcake, jam, chocolate covered strawberries and a really nice crunchy breakfast cereal with strawberry flakes of which I had to get a box to take home with me. Be an honest person when you visit the place though: there is no one behind the counter - the cash register sits right on top of the counter and you pay and take out your change voluntarely.

Now, we truly really are in San Francisco, and right in the touristy heart of it - Fisherman's wharf. I know, the place is too touristy to really be cool, but whatever you think of the place, you just gotta love Boudin's turtle-shaped sourdough bread. Since I was too busy taking photos, I forgot to buy one and so I can't really say anything about the taste.

And the markets! Can you by now tell, that I am really into farmers' markets?? I really can't remember where I took this picture, but I sure like it a lot. It was somewhere  near the water, or else the sailing boats in the background would be flying in the air.

And last but not least, migth this be the store where Ban Ki-moon goes grocery shopping when in San Francisco?

copyrigth of all photos j.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Meals on wheels - Part II

Enough of the lovely farmers' markets and picnics - today, I'll share some of my favorite restaurants, cafés, and fast-food places we enjoyed on our trip through Coastal California!

First evening in LA, really jetlagged and tired, and all we wanted was some really greasy fast food to stuff our faces with! In-n-Out Burger it was, and yes, their burgers do taste way better than McDs, let alone BKs! Plus, you just gotta love the little palm trees on their paper cups. Oh, and silly me of course fell for the 'thank you' sign in retro style...

Now, a bit further up the coast in Ojai lies a true gem when it comes to tasty Italian food. Sure, pizze and pasta taste best in Italy, but Boccali's is as good as it can get in the beautiful valley of Ojai! Boccali's serves delicious pizza, pasta and tomato salad, for which they use tomatos and herbs which they grow in their own garden. If you get the chance to eat there, drink a freshly squeezed orange juice with it - so fresh, sweet and cheap, you just want more and more and more! We did not only enjoy the food, but also the scenery, as the restaurant sits on a quiet street in the middle of orange orchards and the beautiful garden with paper lanterns in the trees makes you want to stay there for ever. Also, make sure to buy some of their oranges, grapefruits or avocados which they offer on a small road stall - 5 $ for an entire bag? They got to be kidding!

Next, I have a really great breakfast-option for you! Drive up Highway 1 all the way to Pismo Beach, a really weird small town which - sorry 'bout that, all you people living there - does not have that much beauty to offer. BUT they do have a small café where you can get big, yummy, delicious cinnamon rolls with all kinds of different toppings- almonds, pecans, raisins, you name it! So, when in Pismo, stop at the Old West Cinnamon Rolls on Dolliver Street, get a cinnamon roll and an iced coffee to go (the place might not look like their coffee would be good, but trust me, it was one of the best I have ever had!), then, get back into your car and drive along the coast, stop at any of the scenic picnic tables, and enjoy a delicious breakfast in the sun! Can you say yummy?

Lastly, there is Humphry Slocombe in San Francisco, the ice cream-maker who has already been praised in other food bloggs. But, to tell you the truth, I was more than disappointed with the place. I really, really really looked forward to try their Foie Gras ice cream, but I was out of luck - they didn't have it on that particular day. So, instead, I did what I always do when I try new places: I tried the most simple flavors, as their quality usually is a good indicator of the rest. So, I took one scoop of Maple Walnut, and one scoop of Tahitian Vanilla, and to tell you the truth, I couldn't find anything special or extraordinary about the ice cream (plus, as in all the other ice cream places in the US, the scoops are just tooo big - less is better). It tasted, well, like regular ice cream. But maybe I am just spoiled rotten because I can eat the ice cream of "Vanille und Marille" every day, if I so wish, and their ice cream alone would be a reason to visit Berlin!

Copyright of all photos j.

Stay tuned for more Meals on wheels next week, and, let me remind you, this is a small, layperson's blog and in no way was I compensated for linking to people's pages - alas, how I wish I was though!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Meals on wheels - Part I

I am back from a wonderful vacation in Coastal California and have millions of photos. I spare you the stunning landscape views and go straight to the photos of things this blog is concerned with. First, let's talk about farmers' markets. It's been more than 5 years since I spent some time in California, and since then the popularity of markets where farms sell their products must have increased rapidly. I remember farm stalls along the road, but not entire markets. The markets give a colorful display of the season's freshest products, most of which are locally grown and organic. I especially enjoyed the farmers' market in Santa Monica on Saturdays and the one in Malibu on Sundays where one of the stalls sells the best home-made lemonade I ever drank. We bought lots of locally grown peaches, nectarines, plums and raspberries, but I was especially impressed with the large variety of cherry tomatoes. Not only do they come in every shade of red, yellow, orange and purple imaginable - they also taste delicious. As a matter of fact, the markets were so mouthwatering that the next time we will be back in California, we need to book rooms with a kitchen! This time, the markets only provided snacks for picnics on the beach and  inspirations for back home. 
The following impressions speak for themselves. 

copyright of all photos j.

Can anyone tell me the name of the fruit in the second picture from below? A nice lady in the market actually told me, but I forgot. I only remember that it is supposed to have white meat.
And, if you live in  California and plan on moving, why don't you use this company with a  funny food-related name to help you with the move?