Sonntag, 21. Juli 2013

Plain Morello-Cherry jam

I had to harvest my sour cherries before they are going to fall down or dry up in the sun and the birds started to feed on them already (though they may have some - I am not that greedy).

As I learned from our local newspaper there are not many sour cherries available this year. Some farmers lost all of this year's sour cherry harvest due to the cool temperatures and heavy rain periods during spring. The bees did not fly during blossoming time and therefor all "virgin mary" cherries did fall down in an early age. These cherries came from cherry blossoms which had not been visited by bees but started self-pollunating. The cherries are now too small or they did not make it at all. Experienced this last year too, suddenly all the young cherries were on the ground and the tree was nearly emptied.
Lucky this year my cherry tree provided lots, not that much as in former years, but enough. I cracked open some stones/seeds just to look wether the bees did their work or not, but they did, at least in my garden.
I harvested enough cherries to receive 2 kg pitted cherries (this took me 1 hour) and cooked jam with 1 kg jam-sugar (special sugar for a sugar ratio 2:1 as in 2 kg fruit: 1 kg sugar) added.
First I mixed the sugar with the pitted cherries and let this rest overnight. Today I just put in my immersion blender and let it run for just a little while - let say 3/4 of the cherries stayed unharmed. I boiled the fruit mixture up, scooped out the pinkish foam and boiled for 4 minutes before I added a few drops bitter almond oil, filled the jam into jars and that was it

There are still lots of cherries left on that tree, but I have to use a ladder to harvest them, yesterday I picked the lower branches. I am going to prepare some herb infused sour cherry relish these days. The relish is very nice with meat and cheese.

Samstag, 20. Juli 2013

Zucchini-tomato-salad with fried cheese

Just a quick summer dish:

Zucchini - tomato salad with fried Halloumi cheese

Today I harvested my first 3 zucchini. They are tiny, green and billard-ball shaped. All in all enough zucchini as in one medium small common zucchini.
I diced the zucchini in small dices (maybe 1cm x 1cm) and did the same with 3 tomatoes.
The zucchini went into a pan with a little olive oil - just to heat them up and I added 1 teaspoon chopped thyme and rosmary (only a few leaves) and tossed. When heated I filled the zucchini to the tomatoes into a bowl. I added:
  • 1 good pinch sea salt flakes
  • pepper, black, freshly ground
  • 1 teaspoon mild vinegar 
  • 1 finely chopped spring onion, 

tossed the vegetables and divided the salad to two deep plates and set aside.
In the pan, still hot from frying the zucchini, I fried 4 slices Halloumi (less than 1 cm thick)  from both sides until golden - there was no need to add any fat or oil because there was still some oil left and it was a non-stick pan (but it sticks a little...). I like to eat this chewy and sqeeky cheese very much. If you buy some, look out for a cypriote cheese made from goat/sheep milk only. We also like to put slices of Halloumi on the grill rack during BBQ or prepare some BBQ-skrewers with Halloumi and vegetables (bell peppers, mushrooms, onions for example).

The golden cheese slices went on top of the salad (3 for my husband, 1 for the miseerable person on diet / me)
I served the dish with baguette while the cheese was still hot.
I used up all of the tomatoes, this means I did not skin them and I did not remove the inner core with the seeds and liquids. If I would serve this dish to guests I would do these things and therefor add one more tomato. But because it was just for us two and I always prefer to eat a more juicy tomato salad  - it is so nice to dip the juices with bread, I had less work. Ready in a few minutes.

Freitag, 19. Juli 2013

Little journey or how to gain 5 kg in no time

I stayed in southern france for a few days. My journey went from Germany to Avignon, Arles, Cannes while visiting different villages and places inbetween, even Monaco was included (just made mere 4000 km more or less).
I took a lot of pictures which I posted on flickr , but here is some food related stuff.
The food was so tempting I gained a lot of weight and I have to go on diet for now. But I don't regret one bite (laugh).
For example on my first night I had this a lovely terrine made from fresh goat cheese filled with dried tomatoes and pine nuts and herbs, served with chilled raw tomatoe soup, followed by a meat dish, cheese, fruits:

Every night we had big dinners with lots of different courses mainly something with cheese, salads,fish or meat, tartes, ice cream, fruits. I could not take that much pictures. Even the breakfasts were feasts and - no wonder, I could not hold back. Worst thing:
Of course there were many shops on my day trips providing french delicacies I simply had to visit and were I bought something on my way for a small snack.

I did not stay and eat at this station but doesn't it look fabulous? This picture was taken in Arles it is a sort of Paella, rice from the region fried and steamed in a large pan with different vegetables as peppers ans meat or fish:

Shop from behind (laugh) this is really a sneek view

Here we have a look a the local goods for the sweet tooth: calissons, nougat, macarons (ah this terrible shops):

And extra large meringues:

We stopped a organic farmers store located in the middle of the Camargue (Carmargue region is famous for rice and sausages made from the black camargue cattles and wines - the grapes are raised in the sandy soil):

That's how it looked inside: They sell wines and olive oils, honey, herbs, sausages, terrines, jams, fruits, rice... we had some wine tasting too and a bits of these fabulous beef sausages.. (thats my mom from behind, she just jumped into the picture)

Visiting Saintes Marie sur mer I found this store selling Tajines, clay pots for stews. The whole inner circle of the town is like a big arabian Suk, one small shop next to each other, in fact it was a bit annoying, a big tourist trap, but this shop was nice and the prices were low:

I also took a lot of landscape pictures: this is an olive tree yard right behind my hotel, the hotel was owned by olive and wine farmers and it is well known for the good country style cooking (yes we ate a lot..) and the farmers family was so nice and friendly:

Lucky there were fields filled with lavander too, so lovely and delicious!!! At one hotel they provided jams made with lavander for breakfast, the best were a local produced apricot jam and a jam made from different flower petals and mulberries. Lots of mulberry trees and apricot, peach and cherry farming in that region, next to grapes and olives. But as I learned the real lavander died or is dying everywhere in the Provence. The plants got infected by a bacterial disease and the spread is ongoing. Now they are growing a cloned plant instead: Lavadin. So in fact this is a lavandin field:

And this is a small selection of things I bought:

Honey, rice, sausage, lentilles, herbs, a mimosa scented bathing soap. I also bought local candies made from herbs, cookies, lavander bags and perfume - because I also visited a perfume factory too but this is another story. And I bought olives, we had some as snack with the red wine.

Here is a very rare speciality : Candied Garden Angelica stems: I also bought candied melon and a big piece of chest nut nougat (found a great shop in Avignon selling tradionally made candied fruits only). The angelica stems have a very interesting and nice flavor. I wonder why they don't sell the here:

Montag, 8. Juli 2013

White currant sorbet

Some refreshment on a summer day home made sorbet:

I harvested a 1.2 l bowl of white currants yesterday. It is always like a contest between the birds and me, we are waiting until the currants gained some sweetness. It is the question one will the birds strike, this year I was quicker. Last year I came home and the birds went beserk and ate up all of the berries in one afternoon - must have been a great party, sadly I was not invited. 

For the sorbet:
After rinsing the currants under running water (3 ants, 1 lightblue / green bug, a few spider) I stripped of the stems and put the berries in a pot with 1 additional cup water and 4 currant leaves. I simmered this for 5 minutes until the berries were soft and popped open. Afterwards I strained the berries and liquid through a fine mashed strainer, pressing the pulp to get as much juice as possible.

I filled the juice back into the cleaned pot after measuring: nearly 500 ml juice was the result. 1 added 3/4 cups sugar, whisked in 1 1/2 teaspoon agar agar (kanten), boiled the juice up again and let simmer for 2 minutes.

This I filled in a flat slightly elastic plastic container (tray), covered with cling film and let the juice cool down  completely.
Next step: I stored the container in the freezer and let freeze for 2 hours, after 2 hours I scraped the firmer juice with a fork and stirred and turned vividly. It put it back again and let it freeze for 1 hour, same procedure, scraping, stirring, turning. I put the sorbet back into the freezer and let rest over night. The other day I flipped the container over and put the ice on a board. I chopped the ice into rough pieces which I put into the blender. I blended this until the sorbet was smooth. Afterwards I put sorbet quickly back into the container and let it freeze again for 1 hour, again scraping with a fork, let rest 1 hour, scraping with a fork - done!!!! All this has to be done to make a really smooth sorbet. The ice crystals have to be destroyed.

I cut some very small white flat peaches into wedges and marinated the fruits in a little lemon sirup and mashed some mint leaves with brown sugar in a motar.
I filled some peaches in a bowl, put one scoop sorbet on top and added a little mint sugar.
This is incredible refreshing because the currants are not that sweet, together with the sweet peaches and the mint it is really something special - could eat lots and lots...


Sonntag, 7. Juli 2013

What we like to eat on a hot summer day

Quite easy. Whenever it is on a weekend and a it is a hot and pleasant day, my husband votes for the BBQ-Grill.
The weather was really perfect. I have done some gardening tasks as getting my laundry spider ready. Since the weather was awful during spring and early summer, only interrupted by a mere few brutally hot and humid days, I did not use the laundry spider since last year. I had to hang the laundry in my laundry room or more often  I used the dryer (not that economic). But now the weather is sunny and warm and it is high time to get the spider fixed and cleaned before usage. After I opened it up I had to cut down the bushes besides. Never thought they would eat up half of the backyard, but they really did. So the next thing was to trim the branches and make way for the laundry.  Done, now it looks nice and clean but it was really filthy and covered with moss. I did some hand washing afterwards and the laundry dried in just 2 hours. Very good because I am starting to pack my laguage for my trip to southern france, only very thin summer clothes (not good with the dryer) and the spider came in handy.

snap shot in the evening..

After doing this I was quite hungry and we started the BBQ way earlier as planned.
So this is what we had:

my plate
Typical german sausage (called Schinken-Krakauer) which is made from brined pork meat. It is a very lean sausage made in a method reminding on it's bigger sister called Krakauer, hot mustard, different kinds of cold salads as:
  • Noodle salad with peas and celery stalks in a yogurt mayonnaise dressing,
  • Avocado salad with cucumber cubes and cherry tomatoes, spring onions and minced chili pepper, lemon juice and olive oil, salt, pepper; 
  • Big butter beans simmered in olive oil with garlic, rosemary, sage, savory, thyme and roasted tomatoes, salted, tossed with balsamic vinegar and a little mizuna, spiced up with pepper, cumin and smoked chili. 
  • Yes and some radish, bell pepper and carrot salad, just vinegar, salt and oil for a more crunchier mouthfeeling.. 
Husband had a grilled pork cutlet too.

I picked a 1.2 l bowl of white currants. This time I was quicker than the birds. I am going to make currant sorbet but this will take a night to freeze.

Freitag, 5. Juli 2013

Green sauce - just simple german cooking

Today I prepared something very traditonal: Grüne Sauce (green sauce), potatoes in their jackets and vegetables (and some meatballs for my husband). I did not eat the meatballs but way more vegetables and I always like to eat leftover vegetables with the sauce as a cold dish. Very refreshing so I made a good amount.

Husband's plate

Grüne Sauce was once Goethes (famous german poet) most liked dish and his mother prepared it often.
The sauce (whitish blob in the middle of the plate), is traditionally made from hard-boiled eggs, oil, vinegar, salt, sour cream, and generous amounts of seven fresh herbs, namely borage, sorrel, garden cress, chervil, chives, parsley, and salad burnet (see the Wikipedia entry You can by these herbs at farmers market or frozen.

I must confess, my type of Grüne Sauce may not be the original one. I used some sort of lean creme fraiche and yoghurt instead of sour cream, yes, and lemon juice.

  • 400 ml sour cream but not the US american type, I used smetana
  • 125 ml yoghurt (not traditional)
  • 1/2 lemon, juice (not traditional)
  • big bunch of mixed greens (herbs) finely chopped
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, diced finely
  • 1 tablespoon capers, minced (not traditional)
  • salt
  • pepper
Just stir until well combined and let rest in the fridge for 2 hours before serving so the herbs can infuse their full flavor to the sauce.

I just steamed some vegetables, each by each to not mingle the tastes until no longer firm but still with some bite left:
  • 5 carrots, sliced into bigger slices
  • 4 celery stalks, peeled to remove the stringy threads, cut into pieces
  • 1 german turnip, peeled and cut into bigger stripes (reminding on french fries)
I sprinkled a little salt before steaming.

And I boiled very small young potaotes in their peels with a little salt.

I also made some meatballs from ground beef/pork. Too many for today but the leftover meatballs can be eaten tomorrow and I will freeze some too.
  • 500 g gound meat
  • 1 onion diced, softened in the microwave with a little butter
  • 1 big slice white bread soaked in red wine, finely mashed
  • a good pinch dried and rubbed majoram, chopped parsley would be fine too
  • salt
  • pepper
Just knead everything until well combined, form meatballs to your liking and fry in a pan with only a little oil. When well browned, cover with a lid, turn heat to very low and let simmer in it's own juices until done (5 minutes maybe, depends on the size and shape).
Using red wine gives a nice flavor and their is no egg in need.

Does not look spectacular and refined but it is soul food.

Donnerstag, 4. Juli 2013

Easy Brioches not too fat and sweet

Tomorrow I will have to work just for a few hours and after that I am on vacation. Therefore I prepared a small breakfast break "fare well and work hard" present for my collegues. I made a ton of brioches and will serve them with butter and homemade jams (currant, strawberry, quince). Actually it would be better to bake the brioches early tomorrow morning to serve them as fresh as possible but therefore I would have to pull an all nighter, so not going to happen.
Brioche is a french bread, just a smaller or bigger yeast dough bun or loaf, not too sweet but slightly buttry. A brioche always has a small head, a kind of round knob on top - sometimes bigger but most of the time destinct. I don't like to eat the commercial produced brioches because most of the time they are too sweet, fatty and with an ugly artificial vanilla taste.
Once in france I bought a brioche mold, 6 cup cake sized molds in one with the typical wavy shape. Not enough for the amount I planned to bake so I decided to use a cup cake mold to.

Cup cake sized brioches
For 20 brioches:
700 g flour
150 g butter, diced
300 ml milk
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cube fresh beer yeast (20 g)
2 eggs
+ 2 egg yolks
+ 1 egg yolk and a little milk for brushing  for egg wash
A few drops vanilla essence
12 saffron threads

Let saffron rest in milk for 1 hour.  Heat up milk and let butter get soft in the warm milk. Stir in vanilla essence, salt, set aside until bathing water warm.
Add flour and sugar and finely crumbled yeast to the baking bowl of the kitchen machine. Add the milk and eggs, egg yolk and let run on medium speed for 5 minutes. Let the dough rise for 1.5 hours until fluffy and doubled in size.
Punch down and fold the dough from every edge 2x.
Make 22 balls out of the dough. To get a smooth surface stretch the dough piece into a thick disc and fold the edges under and pinch them together.
Set 20 balls into forms.  Out of the 2 leftover balls pinch 20 small balls and set on top of the big balls.
Let the balls rise until nearly doubled in size (45 minutes), Brush with egg wash.
If there are not enough brioche molds at hand, bake in batches or use cup cake molds.
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes at 180 C.

I used silicone molds and I greezed the molds with a little butter.

Dienstag, 2. Juli 2013

Golden Curry

Just out of curiosity I bought japanese Curry cubes, product name Golden Curry. Sadly there was only mild Curry available.

I cut :
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled
  • 1 big red pointed sweet bellpepper, deseeded
  • 1 bigger egg plant 

into chunks
and peeled
  •  6 french shalotts, the variety which contains two bulbs in one peel 
and minced
  • 1 garlic glove .
In a little sunflower oil I fried the vegetables until the onions were slightly browned, added the garlic, tossed and deglaced with 2 big cups water.
2 cubes curry paste (product contained 4 for 1.4 l water) went into the pot and I stirred until the cubes were desolved, covered with a lid and let simmer over small heat until the sweet potato chunks were soft.I stirred once in a while (all in all I simmered maybe 10 minutes). I tried the taste: ok, very mild Garam masal taste and what I call typical fatty vegetable broth cube taste and so I adjusted the seasoning:
  • salt
  • 1 tablespoon hot javanese yellow curry powder, 
  • a few rounds red hot chili flakes
  • 1 small knob ginger grated.
After seasoning it was really nice and more to my liking.
In a pan I roasted 2 lamb tenderloins (150 g meat), cut into small cubes in little oil, until browned but not done and added the meat to the still hot curry.
Served with rice.
Husband liked it very much.