Sonntag, 26. Februar 2012

German pork roast

There exists nothing more typically german than Schweinebraten: pork roast. Since ancient times pork is the alltime favorite.
my plate: oven vegetables, carrots, roast
this is a small part of the fat side - crunchy

Today I made a huge sunday roast (I thought huge) which I do rather seldom. This is a dish for a bigger family and not for two persons only. But you cannot get a good pork roast out of just a small piece of meat.
So I bought 1.5 kg pork, ham (butt) side with skin and fat attached - fat side cut crosswise (diamond cuts). This is very important for a juicy roast. Pork roast without fat will never lead to something good.
I could choose between cured or uncured pork and diceded on uncured since I cured it on my own with a dry rub of spices and salt for 24 hours.

For a 1.5 kg roast:
dry rub
  • 1 teaspoon roughly ground caraway
  • 1 teaspoon more or less roughly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sweet chilli powder
  • 1 pinch ground allspice
  • 3 juniper berries ground together with the salt, see below
  • 1 very good pinch dried thyme leaves
  • 1-1.5  tablespoon salt, did not measure it
Rub the meat with this mixture, put the meat into a plastic bag and let sit in the fridge turning the bag 2-3 times for 24 hours.
Take the meat out of the fridge and let it rest until it got room temperature (1 hour).
Heat a big roasting pan (with lid) with only a little oil and sear the pork from all sides until browned, add some chopped pork bones (handful cutlet bones or small ribs). While roasting the fat side add roasting vegetables
  • 3 onions cut into wedges,
  • 1 quarter of a cellery - diced, 
  • 5 carrots peeled but not sliced. 
Add 1 tablespoon tomatoe paste and 2 laurel leaves and let it roast while stirring with the vegetables (just place the vegetables around the meat). Deglace everything with 1/2 bottle (1 bottle=330 ml) of dark rich malty beer. Put the lid on and store the pan in the oven at 200 C for 45 minutes - the fat side still down. Drop temperature to 180 C and flip the roast over: the fat side should be upside. Roast the pork for 1.5 hours without lid on. From time to time add some more beer just make sure to rinse the meat with it. When the beer is gone, rinse / baste with the cooking juice and additional 1 cup water - make sure there is always liquid in the pan - not much but enough or there will be some "stick to burning" according the vegetables. Use a meat thermometer to get the right doneness, 80 C is good, higher up it will get too dry.
Let the roast sit on a cutting board for 15 minutes to relax. Meanwhile strain the cooking liquid. Get rid of the bones, squeeze onion and cellery remains lightly into the strainer and rinse the remains with a little additional water and squeeze again but dont get any onion pulp or cellery into the cooking juice. Put the caramelized carrots aside beforehand to serve with the meat. Heat up the sauce and let it thicken lightly while whisking in 1 teaspoon arrow root flour stirred with a little water (sauce should be about 350 ml). Adjust seasoning, but I only added a little freshly ground pepper, salt content was fine with me.
I prepared some oven vegetables together with the roast: just:
  • very small potatoes cut in halves,
  • 1 big fennel bulb, cut in wedges,
  •  3 onions cut into wedges, 
  • 2 bell peppers cut in quarters and 
  • a little rosemary, 
  • coarse sea salt and 
  • olive oil, 
  • 1 garlic glove 
tossed and afterwards baked in a flat pan. I placed the vegetable pan in the oven during the last 45 minutes of the roast, using the surround system of the oven (you can bake and roast at more than one tray at the same time).
Traditionally this is served with bread or potatoe dumplings and maybe white cabbage (sweet bavarian style with lots of caraway) or red cabbage (sweet sour stewed) but I liked to have some oven vegetables instead.
I thought this to be a rather huge roast and I could just freeze some of it and additional put thinnly cut slices in a vinegar-oil-onion marinade for sandwiches and have the rest tomorrow for dinner... but husband ate 4 servings (not always with vegetables, the meat, the meat and sauce you know) - he simply wolved it down!!!

Samstag, 25. Februar 2012

Early spring gardening

Today it is quite sunny and +10 C. Guess this winter is done (hopefully). It was the worst since long.
We lost our pond. Due to the very deep temperatures (some nights about -20 C) the underground moved and the water of the pond vanished during one single night. There must be a crack somewhere. Only one fish survived the desaster. He has to live in a bucket until we manage to repare the pond ground. Husband is very unhappy - he loved his pond very much. The fishes were like some sort of pets, snacking food from the hand and now all are gone. I am not talking about Koi. We just had a lot of Shubunkin, but some were 8 years old and rather big and tame. The herons often snacked on them too. That is the reason why we don't grow expensive fish. There are lots of grey herons in our region screening the ponds and they don't care about first class fish or low budget and they are not shy, not one bit. But a heron may pick one or two and not all in one go. It was quite annoying and sad for husband to remove the remains of the fish. We hope we will be able to save some plants as the nymphaeas, but could not do anything because there was still lots of ice in the pond. Now this is gone too and we can start to remove everything and try to seal the base.

The kiwi has lots of freeze damages too. We will lose all of the long branches and it will have to grow new from its roots. Some roses don't look good either and the rosemary died. As for the rest I will have to wait until later wether there will be a sign of new leaves or not. Some plants as the fig need month to recover.

But there are also some nice signs of new life. First Spring flowers arrived:

Crocus tommasinianus - elf crocus
snowdrops (a lot..)
The small elf crocus are nearly everywhere. I found many patches around the pond. And the snowdrops spread too.

Donnerstag, 23. Februar 2012


Yesterday evening I made some burger patties. Just the german kind of flat meatball:
400 g pork/beef ground meat
1 egg
2 tablespoons panko flakes
1 small onion, minced
salt, pepper, sweet chilli powder to taste

After kneading I formed 6 flat and big patties and roasted them in a pan on both sides until browned and done.While still hot I covered each patty with a slice of mild buttery cheese. I made this patties for hamburger, what else.

To have a quick hamburger snack today, I only had to heat up one patty in the microwave (1 min) and to roast a hamburger bun with the toaster.
I covered the bottom half of the bun with 1 teaspoon mayo and mustard (50:50), followed by 2 salad leaves (violet green oak leave salad), patty, some slices cherry tomatoe, 2 slices pickled cucumber, onion rings, roasted onion crunch and ketchup and topped it with the upper half. A toothpick and an olive helped to keep the whole thing together. Prepared beforehand it is done in 5 minutes. I was so hungry it was gone in 30 seconds or so. (Due to my workload I had no lunch and only a slice of bread and a boiled egg early in the morning and a small pudding during the afternoon later on.This is so not healthy...)

Voila: Junkfood

Dienstag, 21. Februar 2012

Another garbage day meal

Sorry, at the moment I don't have enough time to write much. In only a few weeks there will be a huge and famous fair and I have to prepare our marketing material and order technical equipment for our booth. The software is not finalised yet, a lot of testing involved and there are some other projects and as cherry on my cream an internal revision takes place (god this always comes during crunch times). It is nothing to worry about but I don't have time for these guys. I just have to feed them with tons of data on demand (as I would have time for this) and afterwards they will tell I did spent way too much money and the return of invest is too low and cut fonds. Therefor nothing interesting happens in the kitchen just quick and simple meals with something in storage.
Today I had some leftover cooked thick and short maccaroni, a little ham, some vegetables. So I made something most people know for leftovers some sort of mac and cheese gratin:

Gratin fresh out of the oven
just a small amount gratin
 I roasted
  • 1/2 small broccoli, cut in smaller pieces,
  • 1 small pointed yellow bell pepper,
  • 1 small pointed red bell pepper,
  • 1/4 piece of leek,
cut into stripes, in a non stick pan with only a little oil, until nearly soft but still firm and crunchy.  No more cooking, set aside! 
I added:
  • 100 ml leftover cream,
  • 100 ml skimmed milk,
  • 1 heaped teaspoon starch (disolved in a little milk),
  • 2 tablespoons grated cheese (leftover cheese parmesan and cheddar),
  • 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning (spice mixture of sweet chili powder, pepper, allspice, dried garlic),
  • 1 small pinch nutmeg and black pepper,
  • 1 pinch thyme leaves,
  • 1 very good pinch salt,
  • 1 big slice juicy ham, cut in stripes,
  • 2 extralarge eggs, slightly beaten,
  •  leftover maccaroni (maybe 200 g cooked noodles).
mix with the lukewarm vegetables and fill mixture in a buttered mold. I covered the top with a handful of crunched panko flakes and some butter flakes too and baked it about 25 minutes in the oven until golden (180-200 C).  My husband doesn't like strong tasting cheese that much. The cheese flavour has to be subtile. For cheese lovers just add more, also for topping.

Mittwoch, 15. Februar 2012

Eating out

Guess were I have been these days.

Right this is not Japan because this nice building was nearby:

I had to stay in Munich for work and met collegues from other german countries. We decided to visit the world famous Munich Hofbräuhaus for a little after work party. Hofbräuhaus is somewhat special if you come from the northern territories - the music, the size of the beer mugs, the meals, costumes and guests! We never visited the Hofbräuhaus before and thought it would be nice to see it once. Guess what, we were aliens between 70% chinese business men, 20 % japanese students and some others (americans) and it is a first class tourist trap for sure.
It is quite uncommon to watch the serving of a whole pig - crunchy roasted - with firework and  Brass music orchestra. The musicians walked right behind the pig in this nice surrounding:

A group of Chinese ordered the pig feast. After 45 minutes they had finished the pig and walked away maybe hitting the next european metropole.
We had some typical german lunch and stayed for 2 hours:

Bratwurst, Sauerkraut, Schnitzel, Schweinsbraten and Hax'n (Sausage, sour cabbage, schnitzel, pork roast and feet), Bretzel. I ordered a so called Brotzeit (Time to eat some bread), sausages, bacon, cheese and Bretzel.

It was quite common: not bad, but not that good either...
Funny to watch a bunch of japanese students bored endlessly while their teacher talked and talked and talked about the history of the building and beer brewing. I am not quite sure if they had some of the famous beer afterwards. I think not. But there were a lot of eastern european teens which had more then one mug for sure.
Afterwards we went into a small brewery which was much quiter and cosy.

The next day I visited a famous deli "Dallmayers" and bought some valentine chocolat for my husband. They sell everything: cheese, meat, sausages, tea, coffee, chocolates, preserves, bakery goods, snacks, salads, wine...

He already ate some so these are the leftovers. 

The heart shaped shell is also made of chocolat.

Samstag, 11. Februar 2012

Mochi filled with white bean paste and pistachios

Today I made mochis. I learned this during cooking lessions at our german japanese culture centre. I still remember our huffs and moans while punch-stirring the mochi dough. This is hard work, good for building up some upper arm muscles!

But you don't need much ingredients:
  • dried white beans
  • sugar
  • some nuts and spices
  • rice flour
  • starch

First I cooked 200 g small white beans with some cups of water.
simply beans

After 15 minutes I changed the water and simmered the beans until soft but not broken - I changed the water twice. Simmering time depends on the freshness of the beans. I took last years harvest and they were done in 1.5 hours but soaking over night will reduce cooking time a lot.
I pushed the beans through a fine mashed metal sieve to get rid of the peels and squeezed the white paste in a linnen cloth until almost dry and more firm.
Afterwards I simmered the paste while stirring with 3/4 cup sugar over medium temperature until it looked glossy (10 minutes) and a dry film begins to form at the bottom of the pot. Result: Pretty perfect shiro an (white bean paste)

simmering the paste with sugar

I added 2 drops bitter almond oil and 4 drops rose water and stirred it again. 1/3 of the paste I mixed with 70 g finely chopped pistachios and a pinch powdered green tea.
First I formed little marble sized balls out of the pistachio paste afterwards I covered the balls with a layer of the plain bean paste. I placed the balls on a plate with powdered sugar. The bean paste is very sticky but there is no helping. This is cooking while dirtying your hands quite often.

For mochi
I stirred 2 cups glutenious rice flour with 1 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar until smooth (beware of lumps!).
I microwaved the batter in a glass bowl (covered with cling film) for 1 minute at 900W. Then again I stirred it well and microwaved for 2.5 minutes more at 900W. The batter will rise and double the size. During cooking lesson we steamed the dough for 30 minutes over water but forget the steaming. Microwave is much more convenient (quick and clean).
I transferred the very hot dough into a huge ceramic motar. The guey dough has to be punched by a wooden pestle until it gets smooth as an earlobe, the colour should become pearly opac. This is quite something. This is were huffing and moaning may be appropriate. The dough reminds on sticky rubber and it tends to build long threads. During cooking lession one guy broke the wooden spoon he used for this job.
I filled the dough on a baking board (using my hands powdered with some starch). The board should be covered with starch too to prevent sticking and I formed the still hot dough into a cylindric shaped stripe. I pinched the dough into walnut sized balls, flattened these into round discs (size of my palm) and covered the bean paste dumplings with the discs from all sides - one by one. This has to be done very quickly using hot/warm dough only. Afterwards I placed the mochi on a plate covered with some starch.

Mochi finished

A little bit squeezed during cutting - but you may see the pistachios
 I had some mochi dough left and filled it with red bean paste I had already in storage.

Freitag, 10. Februar 2012

Fighting the cold III

Besides having stressful times at work the most stressful part of the day is to leave home early in the morning. It is way too cold outside. Therefor I developed quite some appetite. Reminds me on a bear fattening up for hibernation. For example: today I ate 6 red bean paste filled mochi in one go, horrible. And they even didn't taste that good. Well, store bought, made in Taiwan, but I could not resist.
Tomorrow I am going to make some fresh right from the scratch.
(Recipe and pictures will follow)
Lately we went out with friends and had a few cocktails (too much) but guess what, I am more fond of hot tea with rum these days. It was rather hard to consume long island ice tea and mango mai tai with lots of crashed ice knowing there are still -16 C outside, waiting for you. After 3 or 4 cocktails it doesn't matter that much anymore.
And they even promised lots of snow up to come soon. I am most delighted. In the beginning of next week I have to travel again for some days. Reminding last years travel by train, during the heavy snow and ice rain season, I know this will become quite something. But flying by plain is no option - they will not fly due to heavy snow conditions for sure. We are living in a well developed and prosporous high technology country but unfortunately we cannot deal well with strong weather conditions.
I would rather like to stay at home, warm and cosy as this lazy cat. He likes to sleep right in front of the fire place.

Fire does not keep away wild animals. Today it attracts them even more.

Samstag, 4. Februar 2012

Fighting the cold II

-13.5 C outside, that's cold. Don't try to touch iron fences without gloves - I did.
Since the early morning I am running a fire on our fireplace.

Have to chop some wood soon, our typical work out during cold winter days (some sort of sports). Lucky we don't got that much snow yesterday. I cleared the street and the yard with a broom and was done in a few minutes only, but it is deep freezing outside. For my garden plants snow and milder temperatures would be much nicer. I guess I am going to loose some.

Inner yard not very welcoming

I cooked a bean soup for lunch:

 Just with a few ingredients:
1 garlic sausage, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 small can tomatoe chunks
1 onion, diced
1 garlic glove, minced
1 big can white small beans, rinsed
1 big tablespoon tomatoe paste
600 ml water
1 teaspoon smoked chilli powder,
1 teaspoon sugar
pinch pepper, oregano, thyme, cumin
sip soysauce
Roast vegetables with the sausage dices in the sausage fat. Add tomatoe paste and sugar, roast a little and add everything else. Cook 30 minutes. Pretty perfect after wood chopping activities.Tastes better reheated.

Mittwoch, 1. Februar 2012

Fighting the cold

Temperature still going down. Maybe we will have to face -15 C tonight. Yesterday I watched a lot of cranes heading southwestward. They flew really fast, always changing the lead. Poor guys were riding the deep freeze wind coming from russia.
We have to stay and deal with it somehow. One way to fight the cold is to drink something warming.

I made some hot apple, warming, healthy, not too sweet.
 without alcohol (some vodka would give a nice zing)

1 l good apple juice
 3 star anise
1 big cinnamon stick
6 gloves
a huge knob fresh ginger sliced into a few thick slices
1 lime, half of the peel (only the green part) cut into strips and juice
200 ml water
1 twig rosemary

Add spices and rosemary, ginger, zest and lime juice to the apple juice. Let sit min. 30 minutes to infuse. Add water and heat it up until hot. Enjoy after 10 minutes.