Sonntag, 30. Juni 2013

Stir-fried mustard greens and breaded pork cutlets

Today I harvested a lot of mustard greens from my raised bed (again). It is the same old mixture I saw in late spring. We have to eat "tons" because they grow a lot and the only way to keep the production ongoing is to cut the leaves down so new young leaves may sprout. Even the slugs did not manage to munch them all. They do like the chards way better. A few mustard plants managed to produce first blossoms. I picked those too.

raised bed

Lots of Mizuna

Summer squash blossoming
 Mustard green dish:
I separated stems from leaves and pickled the stems in salt while stir-fried the tender greens and blossoms to an aromatic quick side dish. I had to carefully watch each leaf before preperation to get rid of spiders, slugs, caterpillars and rape seed bugs because those proteins are not wanted and I washed the greens twice. That's a given if you try to grow organic food...
The plant mixture consists of a huge amount of mizuna, chard and purple chinese mustard. The chinese mustard has a very intense flavor and it's bitterness is getting more intense the larger the leaves grow. So I always keep the amount of purple mustard leaves small related to the other leaves. But the purple mustard blossoms and their upper tender stem parts are very delicious so I tend to let the purple mustard grow a little longer to harvest more blossoms. I just have to be careful not to let them grow to long or they will produce seeds and the next year I have to deal with purple mustard almost everywhere.

For the dish:
I just chop 1 small onion and 1 garlic glove and fry in little dark sesame oil in  a very large non stick pan After the onion is translucent and a little caramelized I add the rough cut leaves and stir. The leaves contain lots of water so they will shrink to mere nothingness (the same as in spinach). After the liquid is reduced I add a tablespoon sugar, some soy sauce and a teaspoon grated ginger and fry a few more seconds. At least I sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds. It needs a lot to fill a plate and that is a good thing, remember the thriving raised bed... This is tasty eaten hot or cold so it can be used for a bento snack the next day.
Today I made some cutlets too.

Aromatic mustard greens, breaded cutlet on rice
I dipped the meat slices in flour, in beaten egg (spiced), panko flakes and fried in oil. I made a very quick sauce using a few tablespoons yellow-plum-jam spiced with chinese 5-spice, rice vinegar, ketchup, dark soy sauce , worcester sauce and little water (reheated once until bubbly steamy).

Some more garden impressions, due to the very cold weather, last night we had 6 C only, the tomatoes are still small and green:

Found this guy, a tomato plant which is growing where I had placed some tomato pots last year, I wonder what it will produce: yellow or black or pink tomatoes or just a somehow red cross breed:

I also harvested the first beet root, boiled the roots until they were a little less firm (pinched with a fork), peeled and sliced with a mandoline. I just tossed the slices in vinegar, soy sauce salt and sesame oil and sliced young onion:

Samstag, 29. Juni 2013

Calissons - sweet southern french treat

Today we had rain and rain and again rain. Low temperatures about 14 C and even lower at night. I already switched back to my winter duvet.
All in all it was so nasty outside I had to find some entertainment in my kitchen after cleaning the house.
I made a sweet treat I sometimes buy in france, the calissons. It doesn't look that perfect because I messed up with the sugar glaze (went bubbly) but I am quite satisfied with the taste. Calissons are candies and been made since medieval times. I will buy some in Aix en Provence in 2 weeks for sure but until then I made some on my own:

The ingredients are:
  • 150 g almonds, peeled and milled into a fine powder
  • 100 g candied melon in sirup, drained, cubed (1/2 cantaloup melon I candied over 3 days)
  • 50 g candied orange peel, cubed
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zestes
  • 1 tablespoon lavander honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water
  •  1 egg white 
  • 100 g icing sugar for glaze
I just blended almonds, melon, orange peel, orange-blossom-water, lemon zeste and honey in a blender until really smooth. The dough is very sticky and the machine had to do it's very best. I did not add sugar because the melon was soaked with sugar.
Afterward I put the dough in a heavy pot and fried it for 10 minutes on very low heat, scraping and turning with a wooden spatule to heat the dough without getting roast marks and to reduce some liquid. This roasting is very important to awaken the fragrance of the almonds. It is the same when preparing almond paste.
I put the dough between cling film and rolled it out until I had a smooth layer of 1 finger thickness.
With a water glass I cut the dough into Calisson shape,which reminds on a boat.

I placed the calissons on parchment paper, brushed them with sugar-egg-white glaze and let them dry in the oven at 50 C with surround heating for 30 minutes.

What did I do with the other half of the cantaloup. I ate it a few days ago (when the weather was still humid warm), chilled, with Parma ham (italian air dried ham, thinly sliced) and lots of black pepper. This is a dish I especially like to eat on hot summer days. The very aromatic melon with the slightly salty ham is so nice and tasty. I always search for good cantaloupes when the summer begins.

Freitag, 28. Juni 2013

Kaiserschmarrn - emperor's srambled pancake

Today I just wanted something quick an filling for lunch. So I made Kaiserschmarrn for one person - me!
Kaiserschmarrn can be served for dessert but infact it is a meal with a long tradition in Austria and Germany. During plum season I it it with plum compote but most of the time I like to eat it with fresh strawberries or apricot compote.

For my small version (if you order it in a tourist spot you will be served with the double more amount) I used:

  • 1 medium egg, yolk and the white beaten to a stiff snow with a pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 tablespoons skimmed milk
  • a few drops orange blossom water
  • 1 sprinkle baking powder only a very small amount
  • oil with a little butter
  • icing sugar

In addition: some strawberries, a little plain yoghurt, pomgrenade sirupe

First I strirred orange blossom water, milk and egg yolk. I added the egg white and folded it in. Powdered with flour and baking powder and folded the flour in very lightly. Some add sugar to the batter, but this is way too sweet for me.

I baked a pancake in little oil and butter in a non-stick pan, until the surface was lightly golden but the upperside still wet, flipped it over and let it fry for maybe 30seconds and started to rip the pancake (more some kind of omelet) in smaller parts with the help of a spatule (2 forks can be used too). These parts I fried until they were golden while tossing them around the pan. The parts should stay fluffy, it is kind of tricky to tell when to stop frying, best hint is: there should be no more wet batter seen. When fried too long the schmarrn may be more browned and crisp but most of the time it is overdone and not fluffy but firm. The schmarrn has to be powdered with icing sugar and I added 6 sliced strawberries and 2 tablespoons youghurt and sprinkled a little pomgrenade sirupe.

Mittwoch, 26. Juni 2013

Kieler Woche II

After dinner we had some Aquavit for dessert (fish has to swim in clear water...)


we went to the fair at the harbour area and the city center. I took only a few snap shots because it was crowded, very crowded..

Care for some grilled sweet corn or crepes or ice cream?

Caramelized nuts or ginger bread?

 ... No german fair without ginger bread hearts..

French fries or grilled sausages?

Buy some spices, herbs or tea? 

Grilled sausages, the guy in the middle stood at a bbq grill (lots of bbq stalls)

This was what we want, this guy was baking Poffertjes:

We ate some: Small round fluffy pancakes dusted with icing sugar and some melted butter was involved too:


And we watched the TV and Radio station:

And went along with all the other visitors to the section were more bands were playing and more cocktail bar stalls were placed - crowded but we danced until midnight...

Kieler Woche biggest event for sailing ships

I visited the sea or to be more precise I visited Kiel due to a work related meeting. This week the world biggest ship race takes place in Kiel and every year this special week of the race is a big event:
We did not participate in the races (or beware watched the races they are offshore) - we had other things to do. Work and afterwards have some dinner. For dinner we met on board of a sailing ship:

It was on board of the Loth Lorien, a barquentine built 1907. The ship once was used for the fishing and transportation of herring now you can rent it for sailing, parties and such.


Nice view isn't it. We had some food on this ship, sitting on deck


Due to rain and wind we were seated protected and had fish of course (and lots of beer):

 One collegue had grilled fish and the orange cubes were grilled Polenta with tomatoes and vegetables.


I had an oven baked potatoe with quark and grilled salmon and cabbage salad as others too.

And a few collegues had this one:


Pickled herring (Matjes) baked fish and baked potato pancakes.

Afterwards we went to the fair. During Kieler Woche the big harbour area is changed into a huge fair with lots of food stalls, stalls to buy some fun stuff and stages, see Part II

Sonntag, 23. Juni 2013

Farmers bread

Today I baked a so called farmers bread (in german it is called Bauernbrot) made from whole grain organic spelt, spelt sourdough, seeds.

Whole grain milled spelt flour is way darker then usual spelt flour. Common spelt flour doesn't look any different to allpurpose flour.
This kind of flour contains more healthy components as minerals, vitamins so it is highly recommended but it tastes different and the texture will also be quite different to typical soft breads.

I had to face some problems with my own grown sourdough - went bad caused by a journey and some temperature problems. I simply forgot to put it in the freezer.
Before I am going to raise a new one I thought I should try a store bought organic sourdough. And I dare say it is not bad at all, I may stick with this. It is just dried and powdered spelt sourdough without any other ingredients than spelt.

For the bread I used

750 g organic spelt flour (made from whole grains, finely milled)
1 pack organic sourdough
1/2 cube fresh beer yeast (~10 g)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 tablespoon ground caraway seeds
150 g mixed seeds: pumpkin, sunflower, crushed linnen seeds, pine nuts, crushed hemp
350 -400 ml water, lukewarm

I put everything in my kitchen machine and let it run for 7 minutes on medium speed. Afterwards I let the dough rest and rise for 5 hours.
After 5 hours I knocked it done and streched/folded the dough on a baking board with little flour and formed a round loaf, sprinkled some flour on top and covered with cling film. The dough was a little too soft so during the second rest and rise period (1 hour) it spread and rised a little too much and  therefor the shape turned out a little too flat. Maybe I should have used less water for a free formed round loaf, the typical shape of a farmers bread. Anyway I should have baked it in a square tin form but that is not farmers bread at all.
Anyhow I managed to deal with the flat loaf and baked the bread on a baking sheed for 1 hour and maybe 15 minutes (I made the knocking test after 1 hour and decided it did not sound well baked enough so it went in the oven for a few more minutes).
First I put the dough into the oven at 200 C. Before I had placed a flat casserole form with a cup of boiling water in the oven for some steam induction. After 10 minutes I dropped the baking temperature to 180 C.
The bread went out nicely. The texture is as hoped for: not dry or crumbly and the taste nutty and a little sweet without much sournes - just hearty, and a crunchy crust. Yummy with butter and some sea salt flakes.

Freitag, 14. Juni 2013

Shrimp Gumbo and southern cornbread

I love Cajun cooking – I like the music too (guess there are not many around here who are fond of Cajun music..). So today I prepared Gumbo because I had a good amount of okras in my fridge.
Gumbo is just okras in a brown sauce made of roux and the rest depends. Everything goes but I stayed with something more easy to buy: Shrimps, would like to add some mussles too but had none...

Gumbo with cornbread
cornbread soaked with sauce

First you have to prepare the roux. Dark roux was in good use for centuries, wellknow and much liked in the german cuisine but dark or brun roux (german Einbrenne) lost the fame because it is now called unhealthy (acrylamide - yes, it is true, we will all have to die someday and maybe not that healthy). Nowadays people buy instant brown sauce powder loaded with artificial flavoring and food colouring (huge amount of E-numbers) - I don't think this is healthier but well. I will never buy this. I will stick to the real thing and unhealthy stuff.
Roux is something for people with strong arms and fondness for a certain kind of boredom turning into some Zen state of mind because it takes time to prepare and it is fickle: Roux needs your attention, once burnt you have to start from the beginning and you have to watch and stir and watch and stir, watch and stir, watch and stir.

Here we are:

5 tablespoons flour
7 tablespoons clarified butter

Melt butter in a heavy pot. Add the flour gradually and stir the flour without pausing. Stir for 20+ minutes or until the flour turns chocolate brown – no black particles are allowed, not even one!! It tends to burn quickly so stir (best to use a silicon spatule) and watch the temperature. Add water, in a small but steady flow, untilthe roux reminds you on cooking chocolate pudding (maybe 750 ml water did not measure), whisk well and let simmer for about 30 minutes. Add water whenever it thickens too much.

Now to the Gumbo
4 servings

1 cup celery stalks, diced in small dices
1 cup carrot, same sized dices
1 cup onion, same sized dices
1 bell pepper, diced (I used red because I dislike green bell peppers)
2 garlic gloves, minced
500 g Okras, rubbed with salt, rinsed with cold water, cut into 2 cm pieces
1 garlic sausage, diced
500 g shrimps, raw, peeled – keep the shells
oil for cooking
1 ½ tablespoons Cajun seasoning (just sweet chili and hot chili, pepper, allspice, garlic, onion, tarragon, oregano) google for Emeril Lagasse's essence cajun seasoning
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 tablespoon molasses
2 thyme sprigs
1 rosemary sprig
2 bay leaves
½ Birdeye chili, chopped
6 parsley stems, leave parts chopped

Fry the shrimp shells in oil until crisp and colorful, remove and add the celery, carrot, peppers, onion, sausage and garlic. Fry until the onion turns translucent, add spices, let roast a little until fragrant, add tomato paste, fry a little more, add okras and enough roux to cover, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, chili, salt, molasses. Let simmer until the okras are soft, add shrimps and turn of the heat and let sit covered. Before serving remove the herbs and bay leaves add chopped parsley. How much salt depends, adjust seasoning to your liking.

4 servings


100 g butter, plus more for the pan
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup bright yellow cornmeal
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 180 C.  Melt butter in a pan until foaming hot and lightly browned, sieve through a fine mashed metal strainer to remove the protein particles.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk eggs with buttermilk and add to the flour, add slightly cooled down butter and whisk until just combined (don’t overdo: it is best to stir by hand with a balloon whisk).

Add 2 tablespoons butter to a square cast iron pan (a small one would be nice about 20 cm) mine is bigger so the bread is a little too flat. Heat the butter until smoking hot. Add and spread the batter and bake the bread in the middle of the oven for 20+ minutes until golden. Toothpick probe should come out clean after poked in the middle of the bread.  

Serve warm. Try a little treacle/molasses on a piece of cornbread - heavenly...

cornbread fresh out of the oven

Donnerstag, 13. Juni 2013

Spelt focaccia and spicy date-cream cheese-spread

We had some heavy rain this late afternoon. Before the air was humid, hot and dense - felt like an upcoming thunderstorm. The whole day I was sitting in meetings and in my sticky office and worried about my car: I was not sure wether I left my rooftop open or not and the car was parked miles away in a parking lot in the suburbs. So there was no way to just walk out and get the problem fixed. Therefore I left the office very early while black clouds were quickly bulking up. Lucky the rooftop was closed (yes I am an idiot but I once left it open and therefore I had to ride on a very wet seat in a very humid car for 3 weeks) and I made it home before the rain started to pour down.

Leaving the office early left time to bake a bread: Spelt Focaccia with a nice spread. I often think focaccia was invented to take care of leftover pizza dough. But I never did some research about this theory.

slice with spread


First I prepared the dough:

  • 500 g spelt flour
  • 15 g dry instant yeast
  • 250 -300 ml warm water
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 50 ml pumpkin oil (roasted)
  • Flour for the hands


  • 100 g olives (pitted black and green)
  • 1 sprig rosemary, leaves only
  • Black pepper, coarsely ground
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt

For dough put the ingredients in the machine and let run for 10 minutes at medium speed, the last 2 minutes a high speed.
The dough has to be smooth and very soft. Therefore it is important to add enough water. The dough should not build a firm ball around the kneading hook it should try to climb down the hook slowly.
Let rise, covered until doubled in size (it is better to let it rise for 1.5 - 2h) but time can be shortened by storing it in a warm surrounding.
On a floured board fold and stretch the dough a few times (yes it is sticky so don't overdue and use a spatule and flour powdered hands but don't add too much flour).Fold in some olives and rosemary. Form an oval loaf - dough should be soft but stayin shape (not transforming into a pancake). Punch it down with your fingertips over and over, a bit here and a bit there, add more olives on top and stick them into the loaf or they will fall out during baking . Sprinkle rosemary, pepper, pine nuts, coarse sea salt and drizzle some olive oil.  Let rise again until doubled. Time depends, maybe 45 minutes.

For a nicer fermentation it is better to prepare a small dough with 150 g flour, 100 ml water and 1 teaspoon yeast the night before. Add the other ingredients and prepare as described.

Heat the oven up to 200 C. Bake the bread for 10 minutes, lower the heat to 180 C and let bake for 20+ more minutes. It is done when the loaf is golden and the bread sounds like a drum when knocked.
Dough before second rising: 

I prepared a spread too. Two weeks ago Husband bought a freshly made spicy cream cheese at a turkish store, which tasted very good. It was called date cream cheese. We finished it quickly. 
Why no preparing it at home?! For the cheese spread I had to use common bland cream cheese. Sadly I had no fresh sheep or goat cheese, this would have improved the taste even more if I had mixed in some (maybe 50:50). But I was really very satisfied with the result:

  • 6 small dates (dried juicy dates without stones)
  • 150 g cream cheese
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 small pinch cumin (ground)  maybe1/5 teaspoon
  • 1 pinch Ras al Hanout (moroccan spice mix) maybe 1/3 teaspoon
  • 1/2 red birdeye chilli (without seeds)
  • Pulse in a blender until smooth


Foxglove summer

If there is something in my garden trying to spread and rule the world afterwards it is foxglove.
They are everywhere and they are huge: These guys are up to 2 m.

Next to my driveway - still marching on and one day they are out, free and away - we have some more...

Foxgloves ae not the only poisonous flowers I am growing, there are autumn crocus and lots of vinca plants (different types) and Aconitum but this year foxgloves are the biggest as so far.

Need some more of these: Papaver orientalis, but they are not fond of rain. I already lost one big plant due to some fungal disease I suppose. Buds and leaves went brown and soggy. After 2 weeks of heavy rain it was very damaged but there are new sprouts. This one is doing great shortly after heavy rain:

Mittwoch, 12. Juni 2013

Japanese Summer dishes - sort of

Today it was humid and warm. I really did sweat a lot in my office because it is exposed to the sun all day long and tends to turn into a Sauna quickly. But it is so nice sipping on beer sitting in my garden, so no complaints., best time of the year for sure.
But I craved for something cold, so today it had to be cold dishes.

I prepared some japanese noodle salad. Probably not really japanese but with things I had in storage: (leftovers will be great tomorrow):

Hiyashi chuka
and marinated summer vegetables:
(no leftovers, husband finished them)


Small filleted Sardines with Ume boshi
(a little leftover)

For the salad:

2 noodle nests fresh uncooked noodles ( I took chinese noodles pretty similiar to italian tagiatelle) 
100 g ham, sliced into strips  
1 egg 
1 tablespoon dashi 
1 spring onion, sliced 
1 shiso leaf, sliced 
Pickled ginger, sliced 
Chewy Sea weed

3/4 cup sardine stock 
Soy sauce 
1 tablespoon sugar 
A few drops dark roasted sesame oil 
A little vinegar

Beat egg with dashi. In abig pan bake a thin crepe/omelet.  Cut the omelet into strips. 
Boil noodles for 2 minutes and drain in a sieve, rinse with cold water, drain again.
Stir dressing ingredients.
Put cold noodles in a serving dish, pour dressing over, arrange ham, omelet, ginger, onion, shiso and sea weed.


1/2 eggplant (medium size), cut into quarters and halved lengthwise, skin sliced in narrow slices, stored in salted water
1/2 zucchini, sliced into rolled round chunks
12 okras, poked with a fork, rubbed with salt and rinsed, stem ends peeled
vegetable oil for deep-frying

1 cup dashi
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp mirin
1 tablesoon sake
1 tablespoon sugar
1 vinegar

Bring ingredients for marinade to a boil and simmer a bit (1 minute more or less), let cool. Pat dry vegetables with a paper towel. 
Deep-fry vegetables in oil at 175 C in a Wok or whatever:

Fry eggplant until cooked through with golden marks. Drain in a sieve layered on paper towels.
Fry zucchini until golden, add to the sieve. Fry okras until dark green and sizzling, let drain too (if they are not poked before they may burst). 
Add vegetables to the marinade and store in the fridge.

 Now up to the sardines:

I cleaned, beheaded and degutted 5 sardines, removed the backbone and the other bones too and trimmed the fillets. 
I am not that fond of sardine bones. Yes they are really tiny and thin as a hair but I don't like them.
 So I had some dirty job to do. I used my medium chef's knife.

After: nice clean and pretty:

Sardines filleted

I prepared them as Hiroyuki recommended but made a little more broth (for the salad dressing) and I simmered on very little heat for a short time only - maybe 5 minutes - with a drop lid on top. Afterwards I chilled them for 1 hour.
For recipe see Hiroyuki