Sunday, July 31, 2011

Currently on the menu: Redcurrant

There are three kinds of fruit: fruit that looks lovely and tastes lovely (e.g. strawberries). Fruit that looks ugly but tastes great (e.g. kiwi). And fruit which looks great but tastes horrible, such as carambola. Redcurrant definitely goes into the latter category as well. There is only one way to make their taste live up to their looks: sugar. I would never eat redcurrant raw, but a redcurrant meringue pie is something really nice. This time, I added some extra sweetness by adding marzipan cubes to my redcurrant muffins and that made redcurrant jump right into the frist fruit category!

copyrigth of all photos j.

Redcurrant marzipan muffins

75 gr of butter
175 gr of redcurrant
125 gr of flour
30 gr of oat flakes
1 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of natron
1 egg
a pinch of salt
50 gr os sugar
1 package of vanilla sugar
100 gr of unsweetened yoghurt
50 gr of marzipan cut into small cubes

Melt the butter and let it cool off again. Preheat the oven at 180 °C. In bowl number one, mix the oat flakes, the flour, the baking powder, the natron and the salt. In a second bowl, mix the eggs with the sugar, the vanilla sugar, then add the butter and the yoghurt. Pour the mixture from bowl two into bowl number one and mix only for a short time. Add the redcurrant and the marzipan cubes and fill the dough into muffin molds. Bake for about 25 minutes until the muffins are golden brown. Let the muffins rest in the molds for another 5 minutes, then let them cool off on a rack.
The muffins taste refeshing because of the mixture of sweet marzipan and sour redcurrant. Yields about 9 muffins.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Two things you can do with potatoes

Last weekend, I went to the open house weekend at the Weißensee Kunsthochschule. The place was buzzing with creativity and all the students got to present the fruits of their labor. The artworks were by far better than what the boring currently on display "based in Berlin"-show has to offer.  I particularly liked one piece of art, made with potatoes: a student had carved little figurines from potatoes and allowed them to turn moldy and fall into decay. Quite amazingly, as they shrank and turned darker, they imitated the human aging-process. If anyone knows the artist, let me know so I can credit him or her!

Now, on a more life-embrassing side, you can of course also use potatoes to cook. Which, I admit, I hardly ever do. I have always been a pasta-person and when I was little, dramas took place during dinner when my parents had decided to serve potatoes. Well, the older I get, the more potatoes sneak into my menu, that is, maybe 10 times a year, compared to 0 times a year.
The best potatoes you can get are the small ones at the beginning of the season. I like to use them for potatoe-salads. This time, I opted for a creamy version. It goes very well with grilled meat and fools you into believing it's summer, although it is raining 24/7.

copyrigth of all photos j.

Creamy potatoe salad

Two big handful of small (almond) potatoes
1/2 a cucumber
60 gr of crème fraîche

Boil the potatoes with their skin in salted water. Sratch the juicy parts out of the cucumber and cut the firm parts into pieces.  Cut the potatoes into slices. Mix the crème fraîche with a pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper, capers (I use a lot) and some of the fluid the capers come in. Now, add the potatoes and the cucumber. Put the salad into the fridge for an hour or two and then serve it in a nice, summery bowl. Serves 2 people.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rock 'n' Roll

See the flowers in the photos? They are my new second-favorite flowers. My favorite flowers are hollyhocks. They are pretty and wild, especially when all different kinds of colors are grouped together. I also love their English name, because for me, hollyhocks are always connected with vacationing, so hollydays and hollyhocks go well together even lexically. My second-favorite flower (future yet-to-be-met husband, I hope you are busy takings notes right now) used to be dahlias, but they had to make way for my new second-favorite flowers which are called drum sticks! Rock 'n' roll, baby! I love how simple, minimalistic and chic they are!
Ok, so how do I now build a bridge from talking about flowers to talking about this amazing, quick and dirty raspberry smulpaj? Let's just pretend this is a very artsy fartsy art house movie in which sharp cuts are loved and appreciated and even honored by critics.
When it comes to fresh berries, I am more into strawberries than into raspberries, which, comparing their prices, is a good thing for my wallet. But raspberries are my favorite fruit to go into a typical Swedish smulpaj. Since this post is already full of trivia, I can easily squeeze in the useseless information that I prefer the Italian word for raspberries: lamponi. Smulpajs (are you all still with me?) are crumble pies which are very typical for Sweden. You will find them at every café. They are very quickly put together and most of the ingredients should already be in your kitchen cabinets. Served with vanilla custard or vanilla ice cream, they also make a great dessert.

 copyright of all photos j.

Lamponi smulpaj

For one small pie dish you need:

raspberries (sorry, didn't count them)
2 tbs of brown sugar
2 tbs of flour
1 large tbs of  ground almonds
1 drop of bitter almond oil
1 tbs of butter

If you make more than one small pie dish (which should serve one person), just adjust the measurements. Preheat the oven at 170 °C. Put the rasperries into the pie dish, you don't have to line them up as pedantically as I did in the pictures. In a small bowl, mix all the other ingredients into small crumbles. Place the crumbles on top of the raspberries and put the pie dish into the oven. Side note: If you spill a little bit of the bitter almond oil on your fingers, don't lick it off, even if its smells seductively good. It is called bitter for a reason, you know (cause I didn't know). Put the pie in the oven for about 20 minutes, bake it another 3 minutes with the grill option on to make the crumbles really golden brown. Serve luke warm. 
This recipe also works with any other kind of fruit: nectarines, apricots, apples, you name them!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Green asparagus quiche

I love white asparagus. I love it enough to eat it every second day during asparagus season. This year however, I didn't really seem to crave it at all. I maybe had asparagus only every second Sunday this year. Weird. But I did try something new: green asparagus. Well, I know, green asparagus is not really new, not even to me, but I usually stick to the queen of asparagus, that is the white kind, mabye with purple tips. So what did I prepare with the green asparagus? I made quiche for a picknick in the park. Quite a good choice I'd say, though, all in all, I will stick to white asparagus in the future...never change a winning asparagus so to speak!
And before I forget, here is a piece of trivia, from the queen of trivia (aka my sister): Back in the days (those days when rubber boots were still made from wood), people did not use knives to eat asparagus. They took them up with their fingers and sucked each piece of asparagus in, which must have benn quite a show. Now, why in the world did they not just use a knife and cut off bite-size pieces? Because upon contact with the sulfuric asparagus, the silver cuttlery would tarnish!

copyright of all photos j.

Green asparagus quiche

the bottom

200 gr of flour
125 gr of butter
1 egg, some cold water if needed
1 pinch of salt

Cut the butter into small pieces into a bowl with the flour. Add the egg and the salt. Now mix everything, adding a little water so that everything combines. Don't mix for too long. It doesn't matter if you still can see chunks of butter in the dough-ball. As a a matter of fact, the quiche will in the end be better if you do. Now wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours. I usually prepare the dough in the morning and then bake the quiche in the evening.

In the evening, preheat the oven at 160 ° C. Take out the doughball, and roll out the dough using a rolling pin. You need a little flour on the surface so that the dough won't stick to the pin. Place the dough in a quiche baking dish and put it in the oven for about 20 minutes.

the filling
3 eggs
200 gr of sour cream (or cream)
15  pieces of green asparagus
125 gr or grated parmesan cheese
salt, pepper

While the quiche is prebaking, cut off the end of each asparagus and blanch the asparagus in boiling water with a little but of salt for about 7 minutes. In the meantime, mix the eggs, the sour cream, the parmesan, the salt and the pepper. Pour the mix into the pre-baked quiche crust. Now, take the asapargus pieces and place them on the quiche crust. I alternated, since they are a little bent. So: one asparagus facing up with its head, one facing down, one facing up, well you get the idea by lookign at the pictures. Put the quiche back into the oven and bake for another 25-30 minutes or until the egg-cream mix is no longer runny. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper shortly before you serve it.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

3C Cookies

Tomorrow is fourth of July! As a citizen of the world, I am patriotic only about planet earth, not about some nation or another as history taught earthlings over and over again that nations rise and fall, so why bother getting too emotionally attached to an area demarcated on a map by victorious warlords? I do however think that days like the fourth of July are a nice opportunity to have a theme party - with the food served coming from a particular country! So tomorrow, we will have homemade hamburgers (errr, ain't that a city in Germany?), French fries (or should we actually wait with those until the quatorze juillet?), ketchup (wait a second, wasn't that supposed to come from China) and chocolate chip cookies (ok, but these MUST be real American)! The three-c-cookies are one my favorite kind, and here's a secret: if you want them to taste just like they do in the US, you have to make your own brown sugar! Sounds scary, can be messy (or a nice peeling for your hands) but is actually done in no time!

copyright of all photos j.


400 gr of flour
250 gr of sugar
40 gr of sugar beet molasses
one sachet of vanilla sugar
2 eggs
200 gr of soft butter
1 tsp of natron
200 gr of chocolate (I usually take two kind, a bar of milk chocolate, and one darker kind)
1 tsp of salt

Mix the sugar, the vanilla sugar and the molasses, you might dig into the mixture with your hands to really get all the white sugar to turn brown. Nevermind the mess though, it works like a peeling and makes your hands as soft as baby-skin! Add the soft butter, and then the eggs. Now, throw in the flour, the salt, and the natron. Mix well. The dough will be really heavy to beat, it's not a runny kind of dough. Now, cut the chocolate into small dices. Add those to the dough. Now, preheat the oven at 160 °C. Using two spoons, form small ping-pong-sized balls which you place on a baking sheet. Leave enough space between the doughballs, as the dough will spread flat in the oven. Bake the cookies for 15-20 minutes, until they are golden brown. They are at their very best, when they have just come out of the oven and are still warm, and the chocloate still runny! Makes a lot of cookies, like, 50, I guess.