Dienstag, 28. August 2012

Lentil curry with pan baked pitta bread

Lentils are really healthy while providing lots of minerals and protein and essential vitamines. They taste especially good cooked in a curry dish. This curry is filling and wonderful spicy. For more hotness add chilli.
curry with pitta bread

Pitta bread split open

3 celery stalks, diced
2 carrots, diced
4 onions, sliced + a little flour
500 ml precooked lentils (cook 1 cup dried lentils in broth beforhand or use canned lentils)
500 g spinach leaves (blanch and squeeze)
250 ml coconut milk
1 tablespoon hot  Javanese curry powder
1 teaspoon tumaric
1 tablespoon ginger juice (grind and press ginger root)
1 tablespoon palm sugar
Salt to taste
A little oil for frying

Toss onions in a little flour and fry in oil until nicely roasted, add sugar and caramelize while stirring. Set aside.
Stirfry celery, carrot, spices until the vegetables get a little softer. Add lentils and coconut milk, onions, salt to taste and simmer until thickened. Add 1 handful blanched and squeezed spinch leaves and reheat. Adjust seasoning with salt and maybe more spices.

For the pitta bread:
250 g strong flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
100 ml lukewarm water
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pinch salt
1 handful cherry tomatoes chopped
1 pinch sugar
1 teaspoon thyme, chopped
1 scallion chopped
70 g Feta (greek sheep cheese), crumbled (or any other cheese which melts quickly)

Put flour, yeast, water, sugar, salt in a mixing bowl and let knead  by machine on medium speed for 10 minutes or knead by hand until the dough forms a ball and is soft and smooth. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and let dough rise one hour until doubled in size. Press dough to flatten out the air and stretch the dough on a floured baking board – no kneading just fold the dough and stretch it (5 x). Form a roll and cut it into 6 pieces. Flatten each piece to a disc double the size of your palm (think pizza) and fill with the tomato mixture (1 tablespoon for each bread).  Fold the disc into a half moon shape over the filling and close the edges by pressing. Flat the half and bake 3 breads in a cast iron pan with closed lit at medium low temperature (induction mark 5) for 10 minutes, flip over after 5 minutes. For the first 3 breads wipe the pan with a little oil beforehand, the next 3 will not need any oil. The first batch will take a little more baking time, the next batch will be baked a lot quicker so watch out for burn smells. Roast marks are wellcome.

More tomatoe breeds

It is warm but wet outside, no good for growing tomatoes around here. In Germany we have many problems with a fungal desease caused by potatoes which infects tomatoe plants too always related to rainy weather. and humid air conditions. Usually the desease will happen shortly before the tomatoes are ready to be harvested in August. As far as I can see, we are still on the safe side and the tomatoe plants are healthy but this may change quickly. Most of the plants are placed covered and shielded from direct rain by a green house, but we raised too many plants, some have to sit around the house and just have to endure it.

Todays harvest:

Here are the latest breeds ready to be harvested:
a redish small medium sized brown tomatoe - outside and inside chocolate colour. Very delicious, very tomatoe.

And another very tiny yellow breed called "gelbes Birnchen" - little yellow pear, variety name in England "Yellow submarine" also a very sweet cherry tomatoe. The shape is funny.

Freitag, 24. August 2012

Russian tomato breed

Husband is growing 12 different tomatoe varieties. Now the next variety, a yellow tomato, is ready to be harvested. This tomato is a russian breed - german name Goldtröpfchen translated in english: smale + cute golden drop.

Golden drops are really very small , weight 10-15 g, sweet, without any acid, delicious! On the left the golden drop, on the right a small cherry tomatoe and a 1 Euro coin, just to show the size.

Highly recommended, we will grow some more next year.

Besides tomatoes - our garden is filled with tomatoes but I have some space left to grow shrubs and flowers. And this one is a new Hydrangea I planted in spring and I am very pleased with:

The variety name: For ever and ever Peppermint. The small single blossoms are reminding on peppermint candies - the ones with the pink twirl and it flowers gigantic, really really big, amazing coming from such a small first year shrub.

Montag, 20. August 2012

Tomatoes and such

Just out from the garden

first harvest: just a few Cherry tomatoes.

this will take much longer - Brandywine pink tomato

And this is an almost hidden beauty between the tomatoe pots

my first attempt in growing Gloriosas.

Tropical heat wave: cold dishes

or nearly cold.  Today I started to work at my office at 6 a.m. in the morning - yes I managed to wake up at 4 a.m and took off at 5:20 a.m. Temperatures: Inside my office 39 degree C, outside 25 degree C, later on at high noon 35 degree C outside. Inside warmer, much warmer because my office is placed in a kind of glass palace on top of a building. Managed to stay for 9 hours straight while my brain seemed to have fallen into some sort of heat induced stupor/sleeping mode - in the end I could hardly manage to make proper phone calls or write some more or less meaningful concepts. I just melted and withered away... but I am still alive and kicking and gonna be paid (not enough though). No more heat please or an office with AC - I didn't want to eat something warm or drink something warm. So today it was just a big plate of salad with some solids:

Just salad, kind of nicoise, lots of
 Serves 3:
6 potaoes, boiled and peeled afterwards, cut into quarters or halves and sliced
2 handful green beans, trimmed, boiled shortly
4 smaller sized tomatoes, roughly cut
1 mild red onion, sliced
leave salad heart, just the smaller leaves
1 can tuna
3 anchovis, chopped
handful olives, pitted, marinated in herbs
3 hard boiled eggs, quartered

For dressing it is just a good shot olive oil, 1/2 lemon - the juice,  little gralic, salt, pepper, 1 teaspoon mustard.
Just put everything (when cooled down) on a big plate or in a big salad bowl: first salad leaves, afterwards potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, tuna, onions, sprinkle olives and anchovis, top with egg and spoon dressing all over. Toss at the table.

Mittwoch, 8. August 2012

Wild boar back with herb crust

My son arrived from China – he is living in Beijing since 6 years and once a year, during summertime, he comes back home to visit for a few weeks.
He wished to eat something special he really missed in China: Wild boar. Usually I would rather prepare game during autumn or winter but whatever makes him happy I will do and the temperatures are low outside – 18 C,  rainy – autumn like.  I always have some game in my freezer due to the fact a friend is a hunter. So lucky me I had 1 young wild boar back (deboned) in storage or I would have been in a pinch. Here we go:
Slices of broar, mushrooms in cream, vegetables on a sea of sauce
Sorry the picture is not that good but I was in a kind of hurry. 
This meal preparation takes some time and is a little bit over the top for a weekday dinner but it is very nice.
Yesterday I put the meat (thawed)  in a marinade I made from:
  • ¾ bottle red wine
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 piece of celery, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 laurel leaves
  • 8 allspice corns
  • 12 pepper corns
  • 8 juniper berries
  • 1 piece of orange peel
  • 1 garlic glove
  • a few parsley stems (leaves kept for crust see below)
This late afternoon I:
  • took the meat out of the marinade and patted it dry,
  • sieved the marinade, but kept liquid and solid parts,
  • roasted the sieved vegetables and spices in a pan with a little oil,
  • added 1 teaspoon tomato paste and  roasted this again,
  • deglaced with the marinade liquid.
This has to be simmered until reduced to half. I added 400 ml game stock, 1 rosemary sprig and simmered again until reduced to half. I sieved this again and refilled the sauce back to the pan.  At least I added 1 heaped tablespoon freshly cooked blue plum jam I made yesterday and adjusted the salt content. I purred the sauce with the immersion blender to make it really smooth.  One thing very important: Don’t use salt before due to the reducing the liquid procedures. To thicken the sauce one may use cold butter cubes or a little starch solution.  I used starch to keep the fat content lower.
For the meat:
  • I cut the pork back in two halves,
  • sprinkled halves with a little salt and pepper,
  • powdered halves with just a little flour,
  • tossed the flour coated meat in beaten egg,
  • tossed meat in bread crumbs mixed with ground hazelnuts, 2 tablespoons chopped herbs (rosemary, thyme, parsley – most of it parsley), salt ( I just ground a bigger slice of fresh white bread cut into small cubes and a handful of hazelnuts with the immersion blender)
I fried the bread crumb coated meat pieces in oil until the crust became golden and transferred the pieces into the preheated oven (100 C) layered in a pan. I sprinkled the rest of the bread crumb- nut mixture on top with a little olive oil and let the meat rest in the oven at 100 C for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes I changed the oven heat to 60 C – just to keep it warm.

Meanwhile I prepared some vegetables:  blanched broccoli and carrots, carrots tossed in a little butter afterwards, champignons a la crème: button mushroom slices simmered in cream.
Therefor I took a slice of bacon, cut in stripes and roasted the stripes together with a small diced onion in a pan until the bacon turns to golden brown. I added sliced mushrooms (500 g) and roasted them for a short while and added 150 ml cream (cream as for whipped cream).  I simmered this on low temperature until the cream was reduced to nearly nothingness and became thick and glossy. I added a little pepper and a very small amount of salt.

The meat was really juicy and pink at the inside. Rather low oven temperature and bread crumb crust  prevents the very lean meat of getting tough and dry.

As for the son: he was really happy.

Just a little show-off with a dahlia

Last year in september my friend gave me one of her dahlia tubers as additional birthday present. This year I planted this tuber end of may and now it starts flowering.

The first blossom opened two days ago and today it showed a diameter of 17 cm!!! Hight of the plant 1.40 cm and still growing taller.
It is a dahlia cultivar named 'Alva's Supreme' (I suppose) and beware - it needs lots of space in the plot. As fertilizer I used an long term store bought organic fertilizer and some mixed manure I made during the last years from garden cuttings, leaves, weeds and vegetable wastes - any kind of herbal organic material the garden and kitchen produces. The garden soil is sandy and acidic. In fact we are living on an extended terminal moraine covered by moors. Digging deeper you will find lots of big round stones - so called glacial erratics which can be pretty annoying if you try to dig up bigger and deeper holes as for planting bushes or trees. For gardening this soil is pretty bad and you have to choose the plants carefully. It makes not much sense to try to grow vegetables or you have to do raised bed gardening. Therefore most of the surrounding gardens are ornamental gardens only. But dahlias love this soil for sure.

Montag, 6. August 2012

Hanging basket: ferns and orchids

Right now I am enjoying my summer holidays at home. And it is not boring at all. I have a lot to do around the house.
So for today I made a new rather big hanging basket to brighten up my terrace. It is so much fun to visit the greeneries during work day mornings: the stores are quite empty, no problems with the parking lots and  as much time as I want to chose. I bought:

1 iron basket (very cheap because the planting season came nearly to its end)
2 small ferns (Asplenium scolopendrium)
2 small orchids (Phalenopsis)
1 penny leave? (dont know the name guess some kind of Euonymus fort. minimus) - plant with very thin and long sprigs, oval leaves, climbs and hangs)
This will make a basket for outside during summer time and inside during the rest of the year. All plants are perentuals.

result: hanging basket

And I also bought a bigger potted rosmary, Rudbeckia cherokee sunset and Echinacaea - the strong winter ruined some of my border plants  and I waited quite a while hoping they will make it back somehow (some did by their seeds yet not all). But now I had to plant something new instead because I was missing plants providing some late summer to autumn blossoming showing vivid colours.

At home I layered the basket with a coconut fibre mat (it will change its colour soon to a more darker tone and will look much better) and filled in soil for potted plants mixed with shredded wood and long time fertilizer. I planted the penny leaved plant in the middle of the basket (it will overgrow the whole thing very quickly) and set one fern aside.
I made a cut into the coconut fibre mat and planted the second fern into this opening at the side of the basket. I filled orchid soil in 2 bags I made from an old black moskito net and planted the orchids in these. I wrapped the bags with wild grape and used some wire to attach the bags at the outside of the baskets because the soil for potted plants is leathal for orchids (watering: just watering from time to time from above and the Orchids will get sprayed with soft water every day).
Afterwards I used some wisteria cuttings to rough up the whole thing (just to add a little bit more chaotic jungle feeling). Finishing move: I attached a wind chime. I am still collecting japanese wind chimes: bells made from glas or ceramic or from metal with  a wind catcher attached made from paper . This time I picked a small fat ceramic sumo fighter from my collection who makes a loud and more deep sound - not this small ting ting as the glass chimes.