Samstag, 31. Dezember 2011

Silvester Krapfen - New Years Eve Donuts

Lots of things to do today but I could not skip one tradition:  Baking Silvester Krapfen.

Silvester Krapfen
Silvester means New Years Eve - Krapfen are deep fried yeast dough buns. Think donut without holes! Don't ask me since when and why there has to be something like this at New Years Eve in Germany. The legend says this special ball shaped dumplings - filled with jam, where invented by a baker during the year 1756. He baked cannon ball shaped dough dumplings to praise the military (where he served as baker for the troops during seventh year's war) and his king Frederic the Great. But deep fried or baked yeast dough dumplings/buns where known since ancient times, maybe not cannon ball shaped, but as festive food. Krapfen is just something you can eat easy and it is filling. Most of the time people will have a party and therfor lots of snacks & booze or decent dinners until midnight. There are always games and fortune telling involved. Some Krapfen are filled with hot mustard as a "bad" joke (you don't know what you will get...).
You can buy Krapfen in each and every bakery all around the year but not in this big amounts as today. Krapfen are decorated with icing sugar, colourful sugar glaze and chocolate glaze. They are filled with jam: Strawberry, raspberry and plum jams are the most common fillings or a custard cream with advocaat. Some are additonally decorated with little items - symbols for luck: Piggies, four leaved clovers, chimney sweepers.
It is quite easy to make Silvester Krapfen. All you need is yeast dough, a wok, oil and jam and a piping bag with a flute sized nozzle.

Why a nozzle? How to place jam into the ball?
Inside the Krapfen

For yeast dough:
250 g flour (allpurpose)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar (sugar with ground vanilla pod)
1 good pinch salt
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon soft butter
120 ml milk (lukewarm)
1/2 cube fresh yeast of 1/2 bag instant yeast

For Filling:
1/2 jar jam (smooth without fruit pieces or seeds not too runny; strawberry, raspberry prefered)

Oil for Frying
Icing sugar

Crumble fresh yeast into milk and stir together with the sugar. Add everything into your kitchen machine bowl and let beat for 10 minutes on medium speed. Wether to use a kitchen machine or beat and knead by hand is up to you. The more beating the more fluffy  the structure of the buns will get and the dough will rise much quicker. After resting up to 45 minutes, covered, at a warm place, the dough should be soft and elastic and rised to its double size. Punch down and form a long roll but don't knead - just stretch and roll it on a lightly floured baking board. Cut the roll in 12 slices and form each slice into a small ball shaped like a small satsuma.
Let rise again for 25 minutes (covered with a damp kitchen towel)
Heat enough oil in a wok (the dough balls have to swim easily) up to 170 degree Celsius. Don't overheat. Fry 4 balls about 3 minutes (depends) until golden browned on one side, turn the balls and fry the other side too until golden brown. When ready let the buns rest on a wired rack. Fry the next 4.
Fill jam into a piping bag. I heated cherry jam up in a small pot and purreed it with a blender.  The jam gets somewhat thicker which is better for filling.
Stick the nozzle into the bun and squeeze in the jam until it leaks out of the bun.
Fill all the other buns. Afterwards dust with icing sugar.

Donnerstag, 29. Dezember 2011

Chinese pork sweet and sour

I am not that big of a fan of chinese pork sweet & sour at our local chinese restaurants (dish #136). Most of the time it is sticky sweet and nothing else. I decided to give it a try with home cooking. After searching the web and adapting some hints I went with this:
pork sweet and sour
First I made the sauce with vegetables:
1 big green bell pepper (some parts were already turning orange), cut in bite size chunks
2 small carrots, cut in 2 mm slices
5 red onions (smaller onions), peeled and quartered
2 medium hot red chillies, chopped finely
1/2 sweet and ripe pineapple, peeled and cut in small chunks
1 knob ginger, grated
1 garlic glove, sliced
70+ ml sugar
50 ml white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1+ tablespoon oyster sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon plum sauce (home made sweet and tangy tamarind-plum sauce)
120 ml water
1 teaspoon arrow root flour
1 tiny littly pinch chinese 5-spice powder, the very little pinch fitting at a knifes point

First  stir fry the vegetables in a little oil until carrots were not that firm anymore. Add pineapple chunks, ginger, garlic and sugar and let it caramelize just a little, deglaze with vinegar and water. Next add the spices* and soy sauce, oyster sauce, plum sauce. Boil for 2-3 minutes but don't overcook vegetables.- there still has to be some crispyness. Afterwards stir in arrow root flour (arrow root must be mixed with just a little cold water until smooth beforehand). This had to boil just up to 1 minute and the sauce was done. I added a little more sugar, salt and a little oyster sauce. Sugar content depends on the pineapple and plum sauce.
* Careful with the 5-spice. It is very dominating. There should be only a faintly hint but without it tastes boring.
vegetables sauce: arrow root gives a glossy shine

This sauce tastes even better when reheated.  The spices and pineapple need some time to develop their full flavour.

For serving prepare the pork:
For meat:
150 g pork loin cut in smaller cubes (size of a quartered loin slice)

For batter:
3 tablespoons starch (2 for the batter)
2 tablespoons flour
1 small egg
1 pinch baking powder
1 sip water (cold)

1 tablespoon soysauce,
1 small knob of ginger, grated

Stir flour, baking powder, starch, egg add a little water until the batter reminds on stiff  pan cake batter.
Toss meat (after marinating for 20 minutes) in 1 tablespoon starch.  Heat 200 ml oil in a wok. Toss meat cubes in batter and deep fry in 3 batches until crisp and golden. Let sit on paper towels to reduce the fat.
pork chunks after deep frying on paper towel

Reheat vegetable sauce.
Toss meat with vegetables sauce. The batter has to suck in some sauce. Serve with rice.  The batter was ok but not great. I am still searching for another batter. All in all - it was much tastier than chinese restaurant dish #136.

Some add ketchup and worcester sauce to the vegetable sauce. This may be good, but it is definitely not chinese. Even the pineapple is somehow strange.

Montag, 26. Dezember 2011

Dried persimmons - final

I did it. First dried persimmons are done. Last week I took them in. The air outside was way too moist due to rain, rain, rain and wind and it was and it is unusual warm for this time and season.
One persimmon showed first signs of mold. I placed the others near one radiator and they turned out fine. If you ever touched big dried figs you know the feeling: sticky and slightly wobbly with a skin texture reminding on leather:

Sonntag, 25. Dezember 2011

Christmas eve dinner

For today I planned on something easy, good to be prepared ahead: Some fish, salad and something sweet. Traditionally christmas eve was part of the lenten season, meat was therefor forbidden. So fish is the right thing to serve for christmas eve but nowadays anything goes.

Some fish: cured salmon, eggs with caviar,sprats, clawfish and in the middle trout mousse

In Germany many families eat potatoe salad and wieners on christmas eve: mom or dad don't have to cook much, children love it and all are having more time to relax and unwrap the gifts, tradionalist will have carp. The really big dinners will take place the first day after christmas eve and on second day. We will do the same.
So we had fish:

Graved lax (cured salmon)
A few days ago I bought a good part of a salmon half and cured it in 4 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons salt (sea salt flakes).  Usually this scandinavian recipe calls for fresh dill but I am not so fond of dill. I switched to spices. Therefor I toasted 3 tablespoons mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon sechzuan pepper, 1 teaspoon allspice and 1 teaspoon black pepper in a pan until fragrant. Afterwards I crushed the spices in a mortar - just a little. I covered the fish half (deboned but with one skin side) on both sides with the sugar /salt and the "meat" side with the spices. Afterwards I wrapped it tightly in foil, set it in a flat tray - meat side down and covered it with another tray. As weight I layered 1 liter bottle mineral water on top. The fish had to rest 2 days in the fridge or cool basement.
salmon just unwrapped

Afterwards I scraped off the spices and rinsed the fish onces with water (maybe not necessary but I don't like it very salty) and pat it dry.  Using a sharp knife I sliced the fish by angular flat cuts in thin slices (off the skin). The fish was firm and nicely deep orange red. Just as it had to be and it was only faintly spiced.

In the mornig I made a mousse of smoked trout fillet. This is so easy, it is done in no time: Just puree smoked trout fillets with a blender while adding a little horseradish (just a few drops lemon juice prevents horseradish from oxidation), a pinch sugar, pepper and  a very little salt. Beat some whipped cream (200 ml cream : 150 g trout). Desolve 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin in 3 tablespoons water and warm this up. Mix it cooled down to lukewarm with the fish and blend in whipped cream (just a few seconds, don't destroy the fluffyness of the whipped cream). Fill in forms. Top later with lingonberry jam.

And I bought some cooked clawfish (without shells) and sprats (Sprotten) small smoked fish -some sort of herring but small as anchovis.

And I made some sauces:
Honey-Mustard sauce: 2 tablespoons dark honey, 1/2 lemon - juice only, 1 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard (hot french mustard), 1 tablespoon minced herbs (chives, parsley, tarragon)
Avocado dip:  1 avocado, decored, 1 small spring onion, in slices, 1 jalapeno chilli pepper, sliced,  1 garlic glove, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, pinch salt, 5 date cherry tomatoes, quartered. Just put everything in the blender but not the tomatoes. Blend until smooth, stir in the tomatoe bits.
2 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon cream- horseradish: just stir.
(Honey-mustard for the salmon, avocado and mayonnaise for clawfish).

And I made some potatoe crisps filled with anchovis:
Cut a big waxy potatoe lengthwise in very thin slices (I used a mandoline). Use only the bigger sized cuts. Powder some starch on each slice. Dip the powdered side of the slice in beaten egg. Cut anchovis (salted should be rinsed in water before) in halves. Layer 1 anchovis half in the middle of one potatoe slice (egg wash side up) put another fitting slice on top (egg wash side down) press to close the slices around the anchovis: Deep fry in oil in two turns. First deep fry until light golden. Just before serving fry until crisp and golden.

And some small potatoe pancakes:
Just grate 3 medium sized waxy potaotes and 1 small carrot and 1 very small onion finely. Stir in a good pinch of salt, some nut meg and pepper, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley and the leftover beaten egg from the anchovis crisps. Fry small pancakes  (1 tablespoon batter each) in oil until both sides of the pancakes are golden and crisp - on medium heat. This pancakes are called Kartoffelpuffer (in german) and goe very well with cured salmon. Just top with a few salmon slices and honey mustard sauce. They should be eaten warm. So fry in 2 rounds. First until nearly done, second just before serving.

And I served boiled egg with caviar:
I halved the eggs, mixed the soft cooked yolks with a pinch of mustard,  1 minced anchovis, a little chilli pepper, 2 teaspoons mayonnaise and piped this back into the egg halves and topped this with caviar.

For serving I put all the fish varieties and eggs on a plate. I served the pancakes and crisps on some additional plates and some bread (rye baguette and wheat baguette).
My first share, trout mousse, avocado dip, clawfish and mayonnaise,crisp (n the middle), salmon on pancake
For salad I used some roman lettuce and radicchio in a sweet sour dressing made form honey, white wine vinegar, shallot, salt, pepper, olive oil and toasted walnuts.

Smoked and cured fish will never become friends with red whine. White wine would be ok but we had some beer. This is the best for smoked fish.

Plum Pudding:
For the sweet I reheated plum pudding and served it with brandy cream.
Plum pudding

I made this pudding  a week ago. It is cooked from lots of dried fruits as raisins, plums, corinth, sultanas,  candied orange and - lemon peel, soaked in lots of sherry and a good sip of rum. Breadcrumbs, orange juices, chopped walnuts, treacle and cleared butter, spices as cinnamon, gloves, ginger, star anise, bitter orange peel, orange peel (no beef fat), eggs. This pudding was cooked in a water basin for 5 hours and 2 hours on christmas day. Just before serving you add some brandy and give it a nice burn. I used a  pudding mold (with good closing lid) which is non stick - very convenient.

Donnerstag, 22. Dezember 2011

Spicy fishballs in tomatoe sauce

Today I went shopping for christmas and had to visit the fish monger. On christmas eve I am going to serve cured salmon. The salmon takes 2-3 days to develop so today was the right day to buy some.
The fish monger had pollock on sale for a reasonable price and I bought some too. A few month ago I found a recipe for pollock in the french cooking magazine "Cusine et vins de france" and I always wanted to try out but never did and now there it is:
my share

(I reduced the ingredients for two persons and add some vegetable and spice. As for chilli paste or piment d'espelette just use what you have in storage):

I took:
2 small pollock fillets, diced finely
1/2 bunch coriander, chopped
1 small egg
1 thick slice white bread soaked in water and crumbled
1 pinch cumin
1 teaspoon harissa (arabian chilli paste)
1/2 garlic glove, minced
a good pinch salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons flour

1 can tomatoe chunks with juice (250 g)
1 tablespoon tomatoe paste
1 onion (french echalote), diced
1 garlic glove, minced
1/2 bunch coriander, leaves only
black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 pinch piment d'espelette (french chilli powder)

1 zucchini, cut lengthwise and sliced
1 sweet red bellpepper, cut in triangles
olive oil
1 sprig rosemary
1/2 garlic glove
sea salt

1 cup instant couscous
1 3/4 cup vegetable broth
1 small knob butter

As for dicing the fish

fish dicing, first make thin slices afterwards cut slices in dices

Take a really sharp knife or it will become a mess. It is a good opportunity to check for fish bones.

First I cooked the sauce:
Roast diced onion in olive oil until translucent, add tomatoe paste and roast it a little while stiring. Add garlic, tomatoe chunks and juice, spices and salt, boil it up and cook on low heat with lid on for 10 minutes.
Mix the chopped fish with egg, bread, salt, spices, coriander, lemon juice and form small balls (size of a satsuma). Toss them in a little flour - careful they are very fragile. Place the balls in the tomatoesauce - don't stir. Cover with lid and simmer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes turn the balls once, cover with lid and keep warm.

simmering fishballs

Meanwhile cook vegetables: Heat a little olive oil in a non stick pan and roast the vegetables together with the garlic glove and a rosmary sprig over medium heat until zucchini are done but with a little bite - don't let the vegetable get any roasting marks. Season with salt.
cooking the vegetables

 Cook cousous: Boil the broth, add couscous, turn off heat, cover with a lid and let sit 5 minutes. Add a little butter and stir a little.
Serve topped with corianer leaves and lemon slice (freshly squeezed lemon juice goes very well with sauce and fish).

Montag, 19. Dezember 2011

Hot and spicy vegetable stew with Cabanossi sausage – mexican style

On saturday we went out with friends (20 people) having a big duck and goose feast at a rural inn. We visit this inn a few times a year to enjoy down to earth seasonal food. It was yummy as always but way too much and typical german: lots and lots of meat, heavy sauce, roasted potatoes and/or potatoe dumplings and some red cabbage stew: Vegetables play a minor role in this inn. The goose was a little dry and the ducks very soft (husband whispered he rather would eat my peking duck) but it was not bad at all. So we did dig in.
I don’t know why, but germans are addicted to meat: No meal is complete withour meat and some say germans even eat meat breakfast, lunch and supper and inbetween – maybe they are right. In ancient times when germans lived with their clan in clay and straw houses, prayed to horses, trees and cruel gods, they did fight a lot inbetween and against the romans and went into battles with bleached hair, naked and sometimes painted blue. After such battles they ate lots of pork roast. And the best fighter got the best and biggest piece of the roasted pig called the heroe piece. Maybe this is still running in our genes…eat lots of pork and such...having your daily heroe piece…

Yesterday I used only a little meat (in german terms) after the big duck and goose feast:
I cooked a big pot of vegetable stew with one sausage.


1 medium garlic sausage, type Cabanossi
4 red pointed sweet bell pepper, cut in bigger chunks
1 big carrot, diced
3 tablespoons celery, cut in small dices
3 onions, diced
½ Hokkaido pumpkin, peeled, without seeds and cut in cubes (2 cm x 2 cm)
1 handful thin string beans (blanched)
1 small can tomatoe chunks and juice
1 small can kidney beans, rinsed
1 big red chilli poblano, chopped
2 starfish chilli, chopped
1 pinch smoked chilli powder
1 pinch cumin
2 pinches cinnamon
1 pinch allspice, freshly grind
1 pinch pepper, black, freshly grind
1 pinch orgeno
1 bunch cilandro (green coriander) leaves, chopped
1 dash fish sauce

First I roasted onions and Cabanossi sausage (cut in slices), until onions were translucent and Cabanossi a little browned (if one don't like sausages this stew goes well with chicken or turkey cubes or even with tofu too). I did not use any additional fat. I added bell pepper, chillies, carrot and celery, stir fried this a little more. Afterwards I added tomatoe chunks/juice, kidney beans and a little salt.
This had to simmer about 10 minutes with a lid on. After 10 minutes I added the spices, oregano, string beans, and pumpkin cubes: 10 more minutes to go with a lid on until pumpkin was soft.  Before serving I sprinkled the cilandro and adjusted the seasonings. We had it with rice.

Freitag, 16. Dezember 2011

Ghost story

A short while ago I watched Shinya shokudo - midnight canteen. There was a part dealing about sweet and sour pork and a ghost story attached. I really do like ghost stories a lot. Actually I read about a tourist tour in Tokyo visiting all important haunted places - that is something I would book anytime. Do I believe in ghosts?
Let me tell you this:
About 20 years ago I lived with my husband and son in the capital city. We just moved in a huge flat in an old building. This 5 story house was build in 1900, survived two wars,  was bombed ones and did burn a bit, but it was rebuilt. It is located in a so called good living quarter and the flats in this area and in this type of building are well liked. So we were really happy to find such a nice flat to rent for little money.
One late evening I was laying in bed trying to sleep. Husband was in his office (at this time he started his company not long ago and had to work late hours) and the son was in his room hopefully sleeping as well. I must have been falling asleep for just a few minutes  as I woke up again. The air in our sleeping room suddenly turned chilly although it was late summer. I was still wondering why and at this moment I sensed someone right besides me. Do you know how it feels when you lay in bed and another person is going to lay down on the same mattrass? The mattrass moves while giving way for the weight of a body laying down and your body follows a bit?
I felt this. There was someone who just layered its huge body near me with just a littel space  inbetween. It emanated coldness and at the same time the air felt somehow thick, hard to breath. In an instant I knew there was something seriously wrong. This was not my husband. This thing did not make any sound - no breathing at all and I was scared as scared as could possibly be. I was so scared I could not move a bit.  I opened my eyes  and looked besides me - it was really dark in the room, but next to me it was even more pitch black, darkness shaped a person. I don't know how long it took, but the mattrass moved again and that thing was gone from one moment to another - in a blink.  I jumped out of the bed and turned on the light but there was nothing and I was soaked in cold sweat.

Was I asleep, was it a dream between sleep and awakening?  I really don't know, but it felt so real...and I can still recall the feeling and pictures anytime.

This is so not funny: first snow

Took me one hour to get home by car, traffic slowed down... the white plague is back again.

Donnerstag, 15. Dezember 2011

Mushroom soup with rice noodles and deep fried tofu

Today I came back from work and husband was already at home: he cought a cold  (poor him).  Best thing  to do when suffering from a cold is to have lots of hot liquid.
So I switched dinner plans and decided to make a very quick (15 minutes only) soup out of my fridge.

Mushroom soup

Rice noddles

I took:
 1 cup frozen mixed wild mushrooms  (must buy more, they are so very convinient)
1 bunch enoki mushrooms
6 frozen lotus root slices
4 chinese flower broccoli stems, leaves and flowers and small parts of stems only
1 garlic glove
2 spring onions, trimmed, sliced
4 twigs green coriander, leaves only
1 scoop miso
dashi instant stock
100 g thick  rice noodles
100 g firm tofu cut in rectangles
1 tablespoon corn starch
chili flakes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 sip sake

Heat 1 1/2 l dashi stock. Add fozen mushrooms, frozen lotus roots, roughly chopped broccoli leaves and flowerbuds, garlic in slices and bring to boil. Cook 6 minutes on medium  high heat. When broccoli is done, dissolve miso with a little broth and stir in. Add chopped coriander leaves, spring onion slices, 1 tablespoon soy sauce and a sip of sake and enoki mushrooms - just pluck the bunch in smaller bunches after cutting of the firm base - adjust seasoning to your liking (salt..). Keep warm on very low heat.  Meanwhile cook rice noodles (follwing instructions on the wrapping they have to cook 10 minutes) .
Pad and squeeze tofu dry with paper towel and cut in pieces, toss pieces in starch, heat oil in a pan and deep fry the tofu until golden. Remove excess oil from tofu while padding with paper towels,  season with soy sauce, chili, salt, roasted sesame
First add noodles into your bowls, add soup, top with some tofu.

This is no recipe from somewhere - it is just something I thought would taste good and it did!!!

Dienstag, 13. Dezember 2011

Dried persimmons - state

The persimmons are still dangling in our late atumn storms. Today I was a little concerned wether they would be still up or blown away with the wind. But they are doing fine. They lost some of their size (1/4?) so the process is going on and on. There is no sign of mold or rotting and I give a little massage once a day while turning them in the net bags. The outdoor temperatures are about 2 degree C at night to 8 degree C during the day and since a week we have very windy weather. At the moment, after 2 weeks, I would say the net bag method seems to be a sucess.

Sonntag, 11. Dezember 2011

Meatballs in wild-mushroom cream sauce with black salsify root vegetable

This  evening I cooked meatballs in cream sauce and black salsify. Black salsify is a rather interesting vegetable known in northern europe since the 17th century. They believed it could cure snake bites (other names black oyster plant, vipers grass). It is also called winter asparagus.

meat balls and black salsify (front)

For meatballs:
500 g ground meat (pork and beef 1:1)
1 onion, diced in small cubes
1 slice of white bread soaked in milk, sqeezed and crumbled
1 good pinch sweet paprika
1 pinch black pepper
1 pinch nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon mayoram (if there is no myoram available take 1/2 bunch of parsley, chopped)
1/2 teaspoon salt ( I am not into salt, you may use more)

for cream sauce:
1/2 carrot, cut in very small dices (1 1/2 tablespoons)
1 small slice celery, cut in very small dices (1 1/2 tablespoons)
1 cup beef broth
80 ml cream
1 laurel leaf
1 teaspoon corn starch or other starch
1 tablespoon mustard (hot mustard made from whole mustard seeds, or use another mustard)
1 cup wild mushrooms (frozen mix of Porcino, Chanterelle, Bay Bolete, Kuehneromyces  lignicola - no english name) big mushrooms cut in chunks

5 large and thick black salsify roots
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon oil or butter
2 tablespoons hazelnuts, cut in slices
1 teaspoon sugar
pinch salt

potatoes - I used an ancient variety known as Bamberger Hörnchen, small cornets from Bamberg, one of the most delicious potatoe varieties

First glaze the onion dices in a little oil until translucent - just put them in a small bowl with a few drops of oil and cook 1 minute in the microwave.
Kneat meat, onion dices, spices, mayoram, salt, bread crumbs and egg until well combined.
Form small meatballs, sized 3/4 ping pong ball.
Roast meatballs in a non stick pan with only a little oil from all sides until slightly coloured together with the diced carrot and celery. Add beef broth and laurel leaf and let simmer 15 minutes on low temperature covered with a lid.
Meanwhile wash the black salsify roots and peel them in vinegar-flour-water mixture (just add vinegar and flour into a big bowl of water). Use rubber gloves and keep the roots most of the time under the water surface while peeling.  Give peeled roots in another bowl with vinegar-water to rinse them clear. The reason for this:  Black root peel contains a natural rubber and once cut they glue like hell  and peeled they turn brown. Flour and vinegar prevent glueing and oxidation. The roots are allways very dirty because soil is glued to the roots. Once peeled they look like thick white asparagus (white and same size). It is quite some work to prepare black salsify roots but they have a wonderful sweet and nutty flavour.

Cook potatoes in salted water.
Take meatballs and laurel leaf out of the broth. Add cream to broth together with the mushrooms and cook about 5 minutes on medium heat -  sauce should be reduced a bit. Add mustard, stir the starch with a little cold water, add starch to sauce and stir well while boiling until sauce thickens. Adjust seasoning of the sauce and add the meatballs, keep warm until serving.
Cut the salsify roots in long slices and keep them in the vinegar water. Heat a little oil or butter in a non stick pan and stir fry the (strained and pat dry ) slices until done (crunchy but done), add sugar, a little salt and hazelnut slices and caramelize.  (All in all cooking time: about 5 minutes)
Peel potatoes

First attempt of trying to make Ramen right from the scratch

It is sunday - time for some kitchen experiments. The last days we discussed this issue in Hiroyukis blog and just a few minutes ago I ate my first home made Ramen noodles:
Spicy tomatoe - egg flower/drop soup

For the Ramen dough I used:
200 g strong wheat flour

1 g potassium carbonate
1 g baking soda
75 g water

125 ml water for dough
no salt
flour, baking soda and potassium carbonate (potash)

First I boiled 75 ml water and added the potassium carbonate and the baking soda.  This will foam a little but no worries. After the brine was cooled down, I added it together with flour and 1/2? cup water into the kitchen engine (about the amount of water I am not quite sure because I added it little by little). The dough turned yellow in an instant and it was quite hard to kneat. I let the engine run for about 10 minutes on medium speed. Don't try this with weak engines, mine is a big engine for heavy doughs, for example bread dough, and it had to struggle hard.
Afterwards I wrapped the dough in foil and let it rest 1 hour.

1 hour later I simply rolled it out with a rolling pin. I have planned to use my pasta maker but I could not find it. What happend to it, I wonder. So I had to use a rolling pin, what a pain... I rolled the dough until it had the size of the baking board, folded it twice and rolled it out again and again. I dusted the dough with a little flour and rolled it up and cut it in small slices. I unwrapped the slices and strechted / pulled the single noodles a little by swinging because they seemed to be a little too thick. This went very well because the dough was still quite elastic. To be precise some noodles were damaged but most of them survived and afterwards my kitchen looked like a war zone.
still a little too thick and in reality they are lightly yellow coloured

I cooked a simple broth with 1 big garlic glove (sliced), 5 cherry tomatoes cut in quarters (both roasted in a little sesame oil), 1/4 leek - sliced, a good sip soy sauce and 3 cups dashi and a teaspoon sugar, chilli peppers and indonesian chilli paste (2 tablespoons). I dropped 1 lightly beaten egg into the hot soup for egg flowers.

Meanwhile I boiled lightly salted water and cooked the ramen just a few minutes. They tasted very good, not a faint too chemical aftertaste (first I was concerned about the potassium) and were just as chewy as they should be. I will do this again but only with the help from my pasta maker.

Samstag, 10. Dezember 2011

Just a snack: Octopus Wiener

A few days ago I found one of my favorite mangas online in english translation. It is called Shinya Shokudo (midnight canteen) and all stories take place in a small japanese bar after midnight, where the master serves only a few cheap dishes a la carte. But many more dishes due to his customers needs while you get to know something about their troubled life. My reading skills are still not good enough for reading japanese mangas in their language properly. It takes a few hours and much scrolling in my kanji dictionary (using this is a science of its own, which radical, how many strokes...) for a few pages. Guess how happy I was, when I found the first english issues. I cooked the dish from the first issue called "red weenies" - not rocket science but comfy food: Just small sausages with 3 crossing cuts made on one end and afterwards fried in a pan. The cut ends jump open and the sausage turns into the shape of a baby octopus.

And this is my husbands share, just small sausages called "Cocktail Wiener", cabbage-carrot salad with satsuma juice, soy sauce, sesame oil dressing:

I had lots of salad and only 3 sausages (damn I would like to eat some more) - they have high fat content...

Donnerstag, 8. Dezember 2011

Gaisburger Marsch - southern german beef soup with handmade noodles and potatoes

We are in the middle of stormy weather, heavy rain, single snowflakes and I feel like freezing to the bones. The weather forcast predicted an european windstorm , a cyclone - I am so looking forward it... Nasty weather:  hot soup!  So  today I cooked a very traditional soup or stew not wellknown in northern germany. It is grandmothers cooking and can be made beforehand. It lasts for a few days. The soup contents a strong beef broth made from the shinbone/leg of beef (cheap meat so called soup meat): Just a thick cut slice with some meat,  bone and bone marrow, handmade egg noodles, a few carrots, quarter of a celery,  some leek and many roasted onion rings and a little parsley. Things people could easily have in storage, nothing exotic.

First you cook the broth:
Roast 2 onion halves on their cut side until charred. Cover with 1.5 l water. Add 2 laurel leaves, 1 tablespoon pepper corns,  the meat and 1 teaspoon salt, 2 carrots (don't peel and cut them), 1/2 quarter of peeled celery and 5 parsley stems without leaves, 1/4 leek. Bring to boil and afterwards simmer on low heat about 2 hours covered with a lid. During the first 10 minutes skim off the foam.
After 30 minutes remove carrots and celery  from the pot and let cool down, peel the carrots and cut them in slices, cut celery in dices. Some cook the vegetables together with the meat about 2 hours but I think it is a waste.
Make noodle dough from 125 g flour and 1 egg and 1 egg yolk and a little water. Let rest 30 minutes and afterwards cook hand scraped noodles (Spaetzle): How to look here. Set aside ad keep warm (or reheat before serving in microwave).
Meanwhile cook 3-4 potatoes - unpeeled. Peel after they are done and cut them into quarters and slice quarters. Set aside and keep warm (or reheat before serving in microwave)
Peel and cut 4 onions into rings and roast the rings in little oil or butter until nicely caramelized. Set aside.
After 2 hours, when the meat is very tender and soft, remove it from the broth and cut it in small pieces. Remove the nasty parts as bone, fat, gristles and such.
Sieve broth through a fine mashed metal strainer (to get rid of mashy onions, leek, laurel leaves, pepper corns, parsley stems and such). Give the clear broth back into the pot. Reheat broth, add 1/4 fresh leek cut in fine slices, cook 2 minutes, add meat pieces, carrots, celery and chopped parsley leaves (1 small bunch - the stems where in use before). Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, sip of sherry and Maggi (if you like it) and grated nutmeg. Turn off heat.

Serving: Fill some noodles and some potaoes into the soup bowls, cover with very hot soup add onion rings.
Pictures tomorrow

Montag, 5. Dezember 2011

Dried persimmons

I read about dried persiommons in Hiroyukis Blog and I just had to do the same ( I am a curious person concerning food and preparing food)  - and I did it. Last week I bought 3 kg persimmons at a cheap turkish supermarket. They tasted a little astringent. To prepare the fruits I peeled them first and dropped each fruit just for a few seconds in boiling water (to prevent quick rottening later on) -  and finaly hung them up: Outside under the roof of my house in the windy and fresh air.
This was not as easy as I thought. You cannot tie persimmons up if they don't have any stem with a "t-bone" left. I tried to stick them on a fishing line but the line cut through the fruit. So I tied them in small bags made from a long sheet of polyester fiber gauze. I am not sure if this will work out properly. It is just another weired culinary experiment and it looks quite funny too. I call it my very special outdoor Christmas decoration.
persimmons in little net bags.

Freitag, 2. Dezember 2011

Fried rice (indonesian style)

I longed for a sea food paella with shrimps, mussels and small cute squids but I did not make it into town due to my back. I had to think about something else - something with fried rice. This is a dish I use to make with different ingredients depending on my fridge. It is really spicy and hot, some sort of Nasi Goreng. I like the roasted onions, which add a certain typical flavour to this dish, the most and always have to keep my fingers away from the onion plate or they will be gone long before serving.
Nasi goreng

Todays ingredients:
2 cups long grain rice (uncooked)
1 big chicken breast without skin and bones, diced in finger thick cubes
1/2 green squash, diced*
1 red pointed bell pepper, diced*
1 carrot, diced*
3 leaves white pointed cabbage, cut in chunks, thick parts removed
1 red hot chili, minced
4 bigger onions, cut in 3 mm thick slices
2 spring onions, sliced
3 garlic gloves, sliced
1 little ginger knob, grated
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon tumeric
heaped tablespoon sambal oelek (indonesian chili paste)
2 tablespoons instant flour (wheat flour with a special milling grade)
1 cup oil
4 eggs
Sweet chili sauce to taste
Salt to taste

First steam the rice and afterwards let cool on a tray. You may use left over rice but don't use sticky rice.
Marinate the chicken with chopped chili, grated ginger, garlic and a little sweet soy sauce until rice is done.
Toss the onion slices in flour until well covered and separated into rings.
Heat oil in a wok. Deep fry the onion rings in 4 batches until golden brown and crisp. Transfer onions on a plate covered with paper kitchen towel to get rid of excess oil and sprinkle a little salt. You may buy ready made roasted onions in asia food stores. They are quite good, but I like them freshly made.
Filter oil to a really fine mashed metal strainer to get rid of the browned flour leftovers and wipe clean the wok with a kitchen paper towel. Give a little cleaned oil back to the wok and stir fry the vegetables until the carrots are a little softer. Transfer vegetables to a bowl, stir fry the meat with attached garlic until browned, add to vegetables and spice up with oyster sauce and a little salt.
Add oil to the wok and stir fry rice with tumeric until hot and getting slightly roasted, add vegetables, meat, sambal oelek, maybe salt, and just stir fry a little longer. Adjust seasoning as you wish.
For each serving prepare one fried egg (sunny side) up in a separate pan.
Serving: serve rice topped with fried egg, deep fried onions (can be reheated in mircowave), spring onions and a dash sweet chili sauce or sambal oelek.

And yes - this is so not food for people on diet...

*) 1 cm dices or cut in match sticks

Mittwoch, 30. November 2011

Just a hot pot

Today I cooked a soup again. Soups are best during winter and done in no time.

lots of vegetables, chicken meat ball and tofu

I actually strainend my back (I wonder how) and cannot stand or sit that long so doing some elaborate things in the kitchen is out of question. Just got a shot, some pills and massage and took a day off. Tomorrow I have to return to the office or the work load will pile up even more and I would have to regret it later on. Staying at home is impossible. But enough whining...

I just put into the soup what I had in storage: Mushrooms, broccoli, carrot, leek, daikon, sweet german turnip, chrysanthemum leaves, cabbage, tofu, japanese chicken meat balls (tsukune), noodles.
The broth was simply made with daishi,  soy sauce,  konbu, spiced up with chili paste and ginger and mirin.  First I cooked the more firm vegetables  just a little before the soft leaf vegetables went in so the ingredients got not too soft and out of shape. I cut a little tofu in cubes and added it to the soup 1 minute before serving.
For the tsukune I blended 2 half frozen chicken breast until chopped in an electric blender. I spiced the meat up with 1 teaspoon soy sauce, salt, ginger, chili, pepper and mixed it with 1 egg and some freshly ground white bread (1/2 slice to make them fluffier, starch make them more stiff). For a better binding I blended a little more chicken meat until creamy and rubbed it in. With the help of a spoon I shaped balls.  I simmered the chicken meat  balls in a little extra broth with soy sauce and added them to the soup just before serving.
Additional seasonings: roasted sesame oil and more indonesian chili paste

Sonntag, 27. November 2011

Potatoe salad southern german style

Today we had steaks with roasted onions and a variety of salads. I prepared rucola salad, potatoe salad, beet root salad. I also served pickled daikon.

The potatoe salad was made without mayonnaise - much more friendly for the hips.

For southern german potatoe salad for 2 you need:
8 medium potatoes (not the floury kind of waxy potatoes)
1/3 cup very good dark beef broth (made from bones and meat) instant will not do
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 good pinch of salt (depends on the saltiness of the broth)
2 tablespoons oil (without any intense flavour - please don't use olive oil)
1 teaspoon mustard
1 pinch sugar
1 small onion, diced finely
1 tablespoon lean small bacon cubes
1 pinch majoram, rubbed between your palms
black pepper
Cook potaotes unpeeled until done but not overdone. Peel very hot and slice. They should not break and crumble that easily.
Meanwhile heat the broth, mix with vinegar, salt, majoram, pepper, oil, mustard, sugar. Soak hot potatoe slices with 1/2 of hot broth, wait a few minutes and add the rest. With this method the potatoes have enough time to suck in the hot liquid and flavours. This salad is very moist. In southern german dialect it is called - a little bit rude but authentic:  pee wet.
Heat a non stick pan and roast the bacon, add the onion and roast until translucent but without colouring. Add to the salad and toss carefully. It is served warm and it has to be shiny and glossy.

I read about kimchee style daikon pickling on Hiroyukis blog.
I had 1/2 daikon in my fridge and therefore I had to give it a go but my way.

I went with a hot brine method I often use for cucumbers or summer squashs to get some quick results. For hot brine heat 1/2 cup of vinegar with 3 tablespoons sugar, 1/2+ teaspoon salt  in a pan. Cover thickly sliced daikon with the hot brine, add 1 garlic glove (sliced) and 1 tablespoon arabian chili paste (Harissa), I thought seaweed would be good too, as mentioned in Hiroyukis blog on another pickling method, so I used a bit. Toss and let rest in the fridge  for a few hours. Shake them once in a while. If you don't like it very spicy reduce the chili paste. (Usually I like to add brown mustard seeds and one dried chili to the hot brine for cucumbers and summersquash but had no mustard seeds in storage). The chili paste was good too although it was not the kimchee base stuff. I made kimchee once in a while with chinese cabbage, coarse sea salt, lots of shredded fresh chili, ginger and garlic and there is not a single bit of sugar in use. So Hiroyukis method is much more near the original method.

Christmas cookies - first round

Today is the first of Advent. Traditionally we light the first candle of the wreath and eat the first christmas cookies of the year in the late afternoon.
So I had to bake some yesterday. Every year I start with a handful of different types of cookies and I am going to bake other types at the next upcoming saturdays. Hopefully christmas we have many different cookies for a colourful plate left (that depends on husband or better: hidden storage areas). Then there are gatherings too where everyone has to bring some christmas cookies and each and everyday collegues visit my office for a little cup of coffee or tea, small talk and a cookie or two. Usually I have a big jar in my office wether it is filled with cookies or small candies, but there must be a mouse or two who are able to open jars. It empties very quickly and I am not the one - I am on diet.
This was the first round

Flower shaped cookies with black currant jam filling called "naughty boys", flower shaped cookies with hazenut-chocolate ganache filling, Zebra-Shortbread with coffee/chocolate dough, round shaped marble-cookies, cube of gingerbread made from honey, spices, almonds, flour and candied oranges with candied cherry on top of the sugar thread glaze.

And there are unbaked cookies drying on the cupboard I will bake this afternoon called little jumpers, cookies known since 1300 AD. They are part of the picture bread family as ginger bread. In former times these cookies showed scenes from the bible or saints, they were some kind of charm and offering too. Later on the scenes changed.

Mine show some animal pictures only - no saints: swans, squirrels, robins, ducks. You need carved wooden molds or a special carved wooden rolling pin to make these cookies. The dough is made from icing sugar, eggs, flour and anise, ammonium carbonate. It glues like hell and you need to roll it out on sugar. The cut out cookies have to dry 24 hours (and try to change there shape during this time). Afterwards they are baked on lower temperatures and they jump up (getting higher) during baking. They have to rest 2 weeks before they can be eaten, first they are hard as stones getting softer everyday. It is a southern german speciality. You don't get them in the north but they sell the molds often at christmas markets (wonder what people do with the molds, maybe for kitchen decoration purpose only).

Freitag, 25. November 2011

Short note: Nukadoko

The nukadoko survived its 4th week. It is still alive and kicking. I pickled quite a lot daikon and carrots these days, but is hard to get smaller sized cucumber. The big ones don't fit in. I had to add another cup of rice bran and salt because it got a little too soggy. But the smell is still ok, intense, but nothing like garbage smell, paint thinner or acid. Reminds of bread and much more on pickling olives.
Last week I could not mix it for 2 days in a row because I was on a journey. That did not harm the nukadoko that much - but the smell was very intense. After mixing and airing it for a longer time it was fine again.

Arabian style chicken stew with dates and germinated brown rice

Today I prepared an arabian stew. I love the taste and smell of oriental dishes. This is how it looks:

small portion of stew and germinated rice

Usually you would prepare it in a clay pot called "tajine" but I broke the lid (I am going to make a wish for  a special new one this christmas, quite expensive..). Meanwhile a stew pot will do as well. And I cooked germinated brown rice which is absolutely not arabian, in fact it is japanese, but I have to add something healthy to our daily intake once in a while.

I took:
6 very small chicken breasts without skin and bones, cut in rough chunks
2 big onions, diced
8 big Medjool dates, dates from marocco: large, sweet and succulent
1 pointed sweet large bell pepper, cut in chunks
2 big carrots, sliced
1/2 lemon, juice and 3 bigger stripes lemon peel
1+ more teaspoon Ras el Hanut (arabian mixed spice)
1/2 teaspoon Garam masala (indian mixed spice) - this is not arabian but fits perfect
good pinch of Harissa (arabian chili powder)
1 cup chicken broth

1 cup germinated brown rice*
1 tablespoon currants or arionia berries
2 tablespoons peeled almonds, cut in sticks, toasted
1 pinch gloves, powdered
1 teaspoon butter or oil

First heat a pot with a little oil and roast onions and chicken chunks until onions turned translucent and chunks got a little colour. Add spices and roast just a few seconds longer. Add carrots, lemon peel, dates (without core) and chicken broth (and yes you don't need much liquid). Cover with a lid and let the stew cook about 1 hour on very slow heat (after 45 minutes add bell pepper in chunks). After 1 hour adjust seasoning and add lemon juice. This recipe calls for salted, pickled lemons, but actually I am not a fan of pickled lemons. The taste and smell is way too intense - reminds me on cleaning products for toilets. So I always use fresh lemons instead. Besides: The dates will get mashy and desolve during cooking and leave a sweet taste.
Meanwhile heat the germinated rice (freshly germinated, therefor soaked for a long time)  in a small pot with just 1 cup water, a pinch of gloves, currants and a pinch of salt. Let simmer on low heat until rice is plummed, soft, but not cracked, about 25 min - 30 min. Add roasted almonds and butter and cover the pot with a folded tea towel. Set the lid on top and let the rice rest 5 minutes more.

The stew is very good and more authentic with couscous or white long grain rice. If you don't like brown rice that is. But if you would like to try germinated brown rice, here is a "how to":

*) Germinating brown rice:
This is quite easy  if you have some equipment. Germinated brown rice is very healthy and delicious. If you can get hold on brown japanese rice give it a try.
To germinate rice you need a heat source where the rice can be kept warm during the germination process. It is recommended to germinate rice by a temperature of 34 C for 24 hours.
First wash the rice properly in cold water and don't forget to rinse 3 times to make sure it is clean as possible.
Afterwards fill the rice in the incubator - a heating device: I use a yoghurt maker with a 1 l pot I bought decades or so ago. Yoghurt makers with small glasses are of no use. It has to be one big pot.

Yoghurt maker germinating rice
I filled in an amount of 1 1/2 cups washed rice and added 2 cups warm water (40 C). I set the timer on 10 hours.  After 10 hours I rinsed the rice with warm water and gave it back into the yoghurt maker, added 1/2 cup of water only and set the timer on 10 hours again and let is rest 4 more hours without heating.
Afterwards I rinsed the rice with water and let it strain in the sieve for a few minutes.

Sonntag, 20. November 2011

Soul food from southern germany

Last week I had to stay 2 days in southern germany, in Stuttgart - home of the big cars with the star. I am always glad to visit Stuttgart because members of my family came from this part of the country. I love the local dialect and the traditional food. These things remind me of happy childhood memories. As this dish:

Maultaschen roasted in a pan covered with egg

During a few free hours I visited local stores and the market hall where you may buy lots of good food. If you ever come to Stuttgart don't miss it. It is one of the most beautiful market halls in germany. Here are some pictures
There I bought a local delicacy: Stuttgarter Maultaschen. It reminds on japanese gyoza or chinese dumplings: Noodle dough bags filled with minced veal, bacon, spinach and lots of herbs. I also bought dried and smoked Blutwurst and dried pears, buns (made pretzle style a local speciality) and rye bread "Schnitzbrot" made with nuts and lots of dried fruits, escpecially dried pears (dried pears are called Schnitz) again a local delicacy. Souvenirs, souvenirs.

Today I cooked the Maultaschen. First I simmered the Maultaschen in beef broth and afterwards they were cut in thick stripes and roasted in a pan until browned. At least I added 3 scrambled eggs and served them together with green salad with a sweet dressing made from broth, cream, vinegar, sugar and salt. My grandmother made Maultaschen this way. Another way - very traditional: Maultaschen are served with lots of roasted onions in brown sauce and with potatoe salad (no mayonnaise please: broth, oil and vinegar dressing) and a green salad. I had this dish in Stuttgart too.

Preparing X-Mas decorations with plants from my garden

At the moment we have very nice late autumn weather: sunny and not that cold. I am still working in my garden. Today I cut off noisy wisteria twigs. This plant always tries to eat up my house and I am still fighting back.  If it will ever reach the house it is going to destroy the roof. The wisteria always tries to find ways: Snuggling at the base of the wall it is creeping along the wild grape climbing up to reach the house. Since the grape lost its leaves I found out and I cut quite a lot 2-6 m long wisteria branches. Pretty perfect for making a floral wreath. I decorated the wreath with wild grape and physalis and hung it near my front door. This wreath is tied by wisteria only without any wire. You need very long branches to build a big and even ring in a a nice shape. It is a nice way to get rid of wisteria and a good and very eco friendly out door decoration for Christmas.

Mittwoch, 16. November 2011

Tebasaki - spicy chicken wings

The next days I am off on a business related journey. Husband has to eat something tomorrow and I made a few chicken wings and noodles which he may reheat in the micro wave.
How to cook Tebasaki Chicken wings is displayed on the "cooking with dog channel" and they looked that good I had to made them with little changes.
Just using simply basic ingredients:
8 chicken wings (I never seen this big wings as in cooking channel)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons sake
1/2 tablespoon mild white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
lots of black pepper, chilli flakes
big knob of ginger, grated
1 big garlic glove, grated
1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil and seeds
oil for frying

First wash chicken wings, pat them dry and sprinkle with salt, black pepper,1 tablespoon sake and 1 teaspoon grated ginger - in cooking with dog they used ginger juice but I did'nt. Toss and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
Cook garlic, ginger, soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar on high heat, reduce to low and let cook until it is reduced a bit (looking lightly thicker and glossy). Fill in a big bowl and add vinegar.
Add 2 heaped tablespoons corn starch or potatoe starch into a plastic bag, add chicken wings and toss while shaking the closed bag.
Heat oil for frying and sesame oil in a wok.  Add 4 chicken wings and deep fry until golden and crisp.  Turn them over when one side is done and once in a while splash some of the hot oil over the wing surface.
Let wings rest on paper towels to reduce the oil and toss them - still hot, in the sauce.
Fry the other 4 wings, same procedure. Place wings on a plate and sprinkle with sesame seeds, chilli powder.

I made some noddles too: Just tagiatelle with sliced button mushrooms, sliced leek, sliced green onions, garlic, chilli, ginger, sesame paste and -oil, soy sauce and chicken broth. And steamed broccoli.

Guess he has enough to eat if tonight he keeps his fingers away from the chicken wings.

Dienstag, 15. November 2011

Salmon and daikon in miso broth

Salmon and radish in Miso broth

I don't know where I have seen it but it is a very simple dish. Doesn't look that much but it tasted really good.
fish and daikon slices

First you peel some daikon (I used half of a daikon) and cut it in 2 finger hight rounds.
Heat 1 l dashi with some slices of ginger (a big knob), 1-2 tablespoons soysauce, 2 tablespoons mirin, 2 tablespoons sake and cook the daikon on slow heat about 20 minutes.
Add 2 pieces of salmon and simmer about 10 minutes - depends on the fish.  Get fish and daikon out of the pot and reduce the broth just a little, for few minutes. Daikon should be tender, if not there is the chance to simmer it a bit more.
Finally add 1 1/2 tablespoons miso, stir until the miso is disolved and stop heating. Adjust seasoning, maybe add a little salt or soy sauce and a small dash nam plah fits fine (even if it is not japanese). Add a few cuts of green onion into the hot broth and put daikon and salmon back. Close lid and let rest for 2 minutes just to reheat the fish and daikon.
Serving: I served the rice in bowls.  I desolved 1 teaspoon miso in  a few tablespoons broth and sprinkled  a little on the fish as additional flavour.
The broth gives a very nice additional soup.
miso broth

Montag, 14. November 2011

Day #14 of nukadoko

The rice bran has matured. There are no signs of yeast or mold. And there is no garbage smell or acid related smell but it smells quite intense. I pickled half a daikon, 1 cucumber and 2 carrots for about 4 hours. The salt content dropped and the pickles tasted good - especially the carrots and the cucumber. I am not really satisfied with the daikon texture. Maybe I should dry the daikon for a few days before pickling. The daikon slices were somehow wobbly and not crunchy enough. I have just seen a really funny j-drama. One older guy told a young one which suffers from a little bit heartbreak syndrom to burry his sorrows in nukadoko. Therefore he gave him a ceramic pot with a lid and some of his nukadoko. The young guy burried a foto, closed the lid, and secured it by tape. Nice idea but reminds a little on a time bomb.

Mittwoch, 9. November 2011

Last gardening tasks

No more gardening this year. Today I digged out bulbs and plants in high speed because it was getting dark. Most of them will sleep in our basement during winter.The next nights are going to be cold, about -4 C, so time is up. My fig tree shows first signs of frost bite. I wrapped him up in foil. Sadly the fig fruits will not make it this year. The fig started  blooming very late and the fruits are still green and firm.
Last tasks: cut roses and take care of the tree leaves. This looks pretty annoying but has to wait until weekend:

The magnolia tree dropped all of its leaves in one hour or so. Thankfully the rhododendrens are gardners friends keeping their leaves and staying in shape, nothing to deal with later on.
I cut some herbs for drying before they are gone: rosmary, oregano, sage, thyme. And I took the small laurel tree inhouse and also the verveine. November is always the worst month of all.

Day #10 of Nukadoko

Pickled small baby cucumbers for a few hours only. Delicious. Had a great sandwich with fresh cream cheese, chopped chives, pickled cucumber slices and boiled egg slices this morning.

This is the same sandwhich without egg.

Montag, 7. November 2011

Day #8 of nukadoko

It's getting colder now. Outside temperatures dropped and we have much nasty fog and a very annoying drizzling  rain (air moisture 99%). We started to heat more: The last two days we switched to burn wood in our main fireplace in addition to common heating. The room temperature was pretty high. This had some effect on the rice bran bed. It started to smell more intense. Smell reminds of an old olive farm, working in a very traditional way, I once visited in turkey. They let olives mature (pickle) in salt water basins (seawater). That is how it smells and little bit of linoleum. Good, bad? I really don't know.

Sonntag, 6. November 2011

Nukadoko - one week later

I still mix it every day. Burried some carrots and baby eggplants. First the carrots tasted very salty. Now, two days later, newly burried carrots haves a little sour taste too. Smell is still good. Husband: "Are you still playing with your personal little sand box?" Yes, yes. He is the guy who ate up all the little radishes, thanks to the sand box.

Samstag, 5. November 2011

Hardships of preparing Peking duck

Tomorrow I will roast peking duck and make pancakes. It is an easy version of Peking duck: I am not going to blow the duck skin loose.
First thing you need is a duck - best to use a big and fat domestic duck (pekin duck). I bought a smaller young, but well fed duck (1.6 kg) because we are only two persons who will eat the duck.
Peking duck preparation takes two days.

First day:
Cook duck glaze

left over glaze after glazing duck

glaze duck
Hang duck right over the hot glaze and ladle glaze over...

hang duck up on a cool and well aired place
under the roof
My smart phone likes to add the colour yellow while using flash light. Don't know why but I will change phones sooner or later.

For glaze:
500 ml water
40 ml honey
2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce (or more honey)
60 ml light soy sauce
60 ml rice wine (sake or dry sherry will do)
1/2 lemon cut in thick slices
1 cinnamon stick
2 gloves crushed
1 star anise
Simmer glaze for 20 minutes. Meanwhile rinse duck, put liver, heart, stomach and the neck away for some soup, pat duck dry ( inside and outside) with kitchen paper towels.
Screw a hook into the sternum right at the beginning of the neck.  Knot a kitchen string to the hook, long enough to hold the duck properly over a pot and to hang it up later on.

First ladle/spoon glaze into the duck belly and let it flow back into the pot.
Hold duck over the pot with the cooking glaze (medium high heat) and ladle the glaze over the duck, over and over again until the duck skin turns its colour into somewhat golden brownish (it is not curry yellow). This will take quite a few minutes, glaze will become thicker and thicker. Make sure to ladle the glaze on the back and under the wings too. If you are rather weak (maybe you didn't like to eat spinach during childhood), ask someone stronger to hold the duck properly. I just switched my arms from time to time. Husband asked if he could help but I shoed him out of the kitchen gymn.
I hanged the duck under the roof in our old and airy attic. There are no insects or other pests, so no worry because it is clean and cold, but I would not do this during summer. The duck has to dry over night. Some people place an electric fan next to the duck and let it dry a bit quicker. I think the attic will perfectly do.

Update one day later:
After one night the duck is dry but not dry enough. Touching the skin should remind of touching parchment paper. So I put the duck in the oven without heating but surround ventilation on. The ventilation system is quite strong: blow drying the duck (hopefully).

 Last steps of Peking duck:

I heated the oven up to 240 C and roasted the duck, breast side down, for 20 min on a grill rack. I turned the duck and let it roast 1 hour and 15 minutes at 180 C. During baking time I placed a big pan under the duck filled with hot water.

done and it is not burned!

I baked little hamburger buns. Just fluffy and soft buns 1/2 of  the size of a common hamburger bun with sesame seeds on top (flour, yeast, oil, sesame oil, salt, sugar, skimmed milk/water).

I also prepared the dough for pancakes. 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup hot water: knead until elastic and let rest 30 minutes. Form nearly walnut sized balls (a little bit smaller), dip one ball in sesame oil, place the ball oil side down on a second ball and roll both together to a very thin pancake - as thin as possible. Bake in a dry pan on both sides until pancake surface puffs up in big bubbles. Quickly split pancake open and peel it into two pancakes. If it doesn't puff, put it for 3 seconds in the microwave at 900 W, pancake will blow up like a balloon. Store pancakes in a bowl covered with a hot damped cloth.
 Meanwhile I also
  • prepared spring onions: just sliced them into thin small stripes 
  • stir fried some yellow and red chard stems, cut in thinner stripes and seasoned with sesame oil, soy sauce and sugar
  • stir fried snow peas too, seasoned with salt, soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce, roasted sesame 
  • minced some garlic and ginger - seasoning for the duck later on 
  • prepared small bowls with sweet and hot bean sauce, soy sauce.
snowpeas, pancakes, onions and chard
You take a split open bun or a pancake, spoon on the seasoning: garlic and or ginger, bean sauce, spring onions and duck meat, some dip it in soy sauce too, enjoy:


Thief: loves duck
 This guy went crazy smelling the duck. He jumped on the table and tried to snatch some.