Sonntag, 29. Juni 2014

Miso katsu

Today I prepared some crisp breaded cutlets. I decided to make two japanese style and the others are for husband to be eaten the next two days because I will be away on a work related journey. Therefore I cooked an italian sugo too, made of diced eggplant, chopped fennel, onion, garlic and tomatoes. He can have this with some pasta.

But today it is miso katsu. Instead of the sweet worcester sauce based BBQ sauce, the miso sauce is made with dark red miso. This style originated in Nagoya - read about it sometime ago. I like miso a lot and am addicted to the rich and deep flavor - perfect for me. Husband - at first look - thought it would be some kind of hot mexican chocolate based sauce and got quite excited but what surprise, no mexican food today... I will keep this in mind and prepare mexican chicken next weekend - with real chocolate sauce...

Miso kastu
I shredded half of a small white cabbage, rinsed in cold water and set aside in a sieve.
I breaded 5 cutlets (thin cut pork chops without bones):
  • dusted the meat with some flour
  • dipped in 1 beaten egg mixed with some salt and pepper
  • dipped in bread crumbs
  • deep-fried in oil until crunchy golden-brown.
  • deep-fried some trimmed spring onions too
For miso sauce I stirred:
  • 3 tablespoons red miso
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon sake
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 tablespoon soysauce
and heated it up gently.
Steamed some rice too. The cutlets were cut into pieces and simply placed over cabbage, rice as sides.

Yesterday the weather was much nicer and we had a salad made of some mustard greens, young chard leaves and lettuce out of my garden, indian onion, some tomatoes and fried salmon. For salad leaves I bought some bargain seed tape for just 1.79 Euro (and I only used half of the tape). We had lots of salads since late spring and the plants are still doing well in my raised bed.
The salmon was salted a few hours before, patted dry and the meat side rubbed with coarse mustard, sugar, some soysauce and simply fried in a non-stick pan. First at the skin side afterwards only for a short time at the mustard side.
Salad dressing was balsamic vinegar, french hot mustard, honey and olive oil, salt, pepper:

Salmon salad

Dienstag, 24. Juni 2014

Meeting a shaman

Yesterday I stayed in the wilderness near a very small, very remote rural village in the east. A german saying goes: "this is a place where fox and hare greet each other a very good night" - I am pretty sure there were lots of foxes and hares out there. We had an work related overnight stay in this village because there is no internet connection and no mobile connection available - pretty perfect conditions to held so called intensive workshops so people don't get distracted from work by the outer world. We had to stick together in a small camping side / hotel only visited by some nature loving tourists.

After the first day work was finished, in the late afternoon, some decided to have a quick run at the riverbank or take a nap and I found something very interesting to do for myself. I met with a local witch or better "shaman" who offered me a 1 hour guided tour into the nature to look out for herbs.
First we had a ritual to open the inner eye because she said, that most medical or witchcraft plants where found because those plants will call out for you, but first you must connect with the earth and spirutal world. Afterwards you have to walk into the nature and the first plant reaching you curiosity is something special / has a special meaning for you. Each and every step we found some plants to cure body or mind. To be eaten, or to be drank as tea or for scented oils or alcoholic infusions or rubbed onto your skin or burned as insence to open your mind (those mind opening plants where really something - rather dangerous laugh). Mostly we found some sort of nettles, thistles, galium, sweet clover, evening primrose, angelica, night shades (it is magic!) but she also talked about trees and mushrooms and snakes. Lots of otters out there - I was a little bit uneasy because we trampled right into the rough where all those otters live. She was a strong believer of every plants has it's good use and if it is strongly poisonous you have to use it for rubbing, insence or you should dilute it to mere nothingness. One of her saying, after I asked "what is honeysuckle good for?", was, that this plant must have something to do with inner tubes (organs) because the blossoms remind on tubes. Afterwards I found out that in chinese medicine honeysuckle is used to take care of liver problems. She was right!
And now to the witchcraft:
Another thing she told me was, that the plants are coming to help or guide you. If you own a garden and suddenly some plants appear and crowd together, they were coming to take care of you. In my garden the foxgloves are running wild.

She told me therefore I have to take care of my heart. Beats me. Didnt I mentioned the honeysuckles? Lots of honeysuckles at my wall which I did not plant, so I will have to stop drinking or eat more thistles...
Later on, after she asked me some questions about my impressions of some places and plants, she told me that I have the "eye" and should try to learn more and become a shamane myself.
Thinking about it, I guess it is a good idea to learn more about plants and herbal medicine and become a tour guide for our local moor excursion center. Could be fun when I am retired. I even know a local gallow tree hill where mandrake may grow, but I will need a dog to harvest it.

A new career at the horizon and a well spend one hour.

Samstag, 21. Juni 2014

Coffee roasting

Don't you think some of the more expensive coffee machines remind a lot on steam engines? Husband did spend a lot of time on so called coffee boards and forums and we ended with a ton of devices to ground and prepare coffee. One of our coffee machines (engine) looked like something which could be used to run a victorian spin mill or a submarine. It was a short fling - he fell out of love pretty soon because it was a hassle to prepare even one small cup of coffee.
I was much delighted to learn that there is a locomotive running, called the coffee roaster. No wonder, steam engine, coffee, fire..
If you will ever come to visit Germany you may have a ride on a small train called the coffee roaster. The 15 km tracks are running from Grevesmühle to Klütz at the Baltic sea area of north-eastern Germany so there is a lot of nice landscape to be seen for sure. Here are some pictures of the so called coffee roaster:

The locomotive is not called coffee roaster because it is a steam engine. It is called coffee roaster because in former times the track was used in a supply chain for a long gone malt coffee factory. But for tourists it is very nice to have a ride. And for train men, people (geeks) who simply love/adore trains/locomotives, it is a must to visit because it is some rare kind of locomotive and railway. I am going to buy some tickets and a 1 weekend / hotel accomodation for my uncle who is such a guy. We already rode some really strange trains with him.

Samstag, 14. Juni 2014

Strawberry shortcake

Strawberries are in season now and I always have to be quicker than the slugs and blackbirds to bring them in. Sadly more often the slugs win. So I had to buy 500 g strawberries today to bake this cake, my own harvest was just to small - a mere 100 g.


This cake is a little bit special but doesn't look that way.
First of all, there is no cream cheese or whipped cream involved,  it is made with fresh goat cheese!
And second, the cake batter is made with canola oil and advocaat.
Third, the strawberries are sprinkled with dollops of mint-sugar. So it is a little bit different...

Quite ordinary cup cake batter:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup advocaat
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, whites and yolks
  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 small pinch salt
  1. Beat egg yolks and sugar until creamy white
  2. Beat egg whites with a little salt until soft peaks form
  3. Beat egg yolks-sugar with oil and advocaat until well combined
  4. Sieve flour with baking powder and baking soda over the runny batter and quickly mix in (beat for a short time only)
  5. Fold in the egg whites in 3 batches.
  6. Line a spring form (26 cm) with parchment paper and fill in the batter. Make sure the batter is spread evenly.
  7. Bake at 175 degree Celsius for about 25 minutes. Anyhow please perform a toothpick probe to be sure the cake is done.
  8. Let the cake cool down on a rack.
For Toppings

  • 100 g very aromatic strawberries (out of the garden is best)
  • 75 g sugar 
  • 1 small teaspoon agar-agar 
Heat this up until bubbly and glossy and spread this jam over the cake (first flip cake over and use the bottom after removing the paper as the new top)
  • 100 g fresh white goat cheese 
  • 2 tablespoons soft quark or thick yoghurt 
  • 3 tablespoons sugar 
  • 1/2 lemon, juice only
Spread the cream over the jam layer. If you don't like the goat taste you can always use double cream cheese instead but don't add yoghurt or quark. I added those because goat fresh cheese is a little bit more dry.
Halve 500 g strawberries (or use whole berries) and place the berries all over the cheese cream layer.

Glaze berries with 250 ml fruit tart glaze. I used a product which comes as a small bag containing some sort of modified starch. This has to be mixed with 3 tablespoons sugar and 250 ml water - according the instructions. I added 1 tablespoon grenadine sirupe and a teaspoon lemon juice to the slightly reduced amount of water. The mixture has to be heated until boiling up for once.  It becomes a jelly really quickly when only slightly cooled down. If you don't get this kind of glaze you can make your own using 250 ml water or water/apple-juice mix and 25 g agar-agar, sugar. Same procedure.

For the mint-sugar put:
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves (I took chocolate-mint which I grow in my garden)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar, coarse
into a small motar and pound it to a coarse paste. Sprinkle over the strawberries, done.

Mittwoch, 11. Juni 2014

Cold noodles

Nothing special just a bunch of cold chinese noodles:

I added some toppings and simmered a sauce:

Now the noodles were transformed into this (my small plate):

After reading No recipes post about Goma Hiyashi Chuka, I decided to make my very own version. As always I can never stick to a recipe...
As you can see, I sliced a bunch of vegetables: carrot, red pepper, spring onion, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, radishes and sprinkled a little salt to make them softer. I pickled some red radishes in salt-sugar brine the day before.
I also made some egg-roll and fish fingers: salmon cut into finger shaped strips, dipped into starch,  into beaten egg (slightly salted) and panko flakes and deep-fried until golden brown and crunchy.
For the sauce I roasted 3 tablespoons sesame seeds until they started to make popping noices and ground the hot seeds to a stiff powder. I boiled up 2 tablespoons sake, 1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon yuzu peel scented sugar (sugar where I put some yuzu zestes in some time before), 1 tablespoon mild rice vinegar, 5 tablespoons dashi and stirred in the powdered seeds and stopped the heating.

I took plenty of vegetables, a little egg-roll and 1 fish finger, husband some vegetables (no cucumber...) and lots of fish fingers and all of the egg..

Montag, 9. Juni 2014

Garden viewing

Just a few pictures:
I especially like how the  wooden fence (2 m high) to our neigbor is grown all over by lots of blossoming plants: I planted a rambler rose, clematis, honeysuckle and two thornless brambles 2 years ago. At the ground golden nettles and vincas are running wild and on top a wisteria (climbed over from our neighbors side).

Some more blossoming plants:

Hydrangea named "firework" already showing some sparklers...

Another with round shaped and mixed coloured blossoms: lightgreen and pink...

Pink rambler rose giving the best at a wall of my house. There is a bumble bee nest nearby and the bumble bees are visiting this rose again and again and again, which irritates one of our cats royally. He is afraid of bees, wasps and bumble bees so whenever a bumble bee flies buzzing over him he will run into the house in lightspeed. Sadly his formerly most favorite place to take a nap outside is nearby. He is running quite a lot these days.

The dwarf nymphaeas are already showing their new leaves all over the pond (besides: lots of dragon flies this year, one took a short rest on my finger)

Hot summer means BBQ

Today we got a taste of how it is to live in a tropical area: it was hot (30+ C) and humid (85%).  Thankfully it is still an holiday in Germany so at least we did not have to go to work. Early in the morning we had some bad thunderstorms and heavy rain, again lots of sun and a few sprinkles rain during the afternoon. Therefore the climate is really tough, during the day the emergency teams came and went for a few times: for most of our elderly people this weather is dangerous.
I tried to do some gardening by cutting and shaping some bushes, cleaning the roses, but had to give up after an mere hour. I was so beaten and bitten.. The mosquitos are annoying as can be.

Later on we decided to eat mostly cold dishes.
This is my plate:  roasted vegetables in balsamic vinegar, potato salad with peas, carrots; baby leaf salad with strawberries; roasted bread; garlicy greek yoghurt sauce with herbs.

For potato salad 

I boiled:
  • 500 g baby potatoes in their jackets - to be peeled and sliced afterwards
  • 1 egg
  • 2 carrots, diced.
  • 1/2 leek, thickly sliced

in a little olive oil just until still crunchy
and sprinkled salt, added
  • 1 shot mild vinegar,
  • 1/3 cup water
and let it cool down.
I stirred
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, 
  • pepper,
  • 1 teaspoon hot mustard, 
  • 1 teaspoon agave sirup 
and tossed the vegetables and broth into the sauce.
I added:
  • 1 very small can peas (did not have any frozen left),
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • sliced potatoes,
  • 1 chopped hard-boiled egg 
 and adjusted the seasoning with more salt and a sprinkle worcester sauce.

For the pickled vegetables
I roasted:
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 2 red peppers, cut into pieces
  • 1 red onion, cut into wedges
in a pan with a little olive oil.
After 3 minutes I added:
  • 2 sprigs rosmary and 3 sprigs thyme 
  • 2 crushed garlic gloves 
and gave it a few more minutes.
I tossed the than still a little crunchy vegetables with a little balsamic vinegar and salt and let this sit in the fridge over night.

For baby leaf salad
I picked:
  • 1 bowl baby leaves
  • 1 handful small strawberries (very sweet wild strawberries)

I sliced: 
  • 2 young spring onions
I halved the strawberries and stirred:
  • 1 teaspoon coarse seed mustard,
  • 1 teaspoon honey,
  • 1 tablespoon dark roasted sesame oil,
  • 1 teaspoon mild vinegar,
  • 1 good pinch salt,

and tossed it all together.

Yoghurt sauce
1 stirred a cup greek youghurt with 1 minced garlic glove, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1/2 cup chopped herbs (chives, parsley, lemon balm, mint) , salt, pepper and a small pinch cumin to taste

And we decided to get the BBQ-grill going:
  • pork belly in curry dry rub (rub with coarse curry powder)
  • small pork steaks (neck) with herb rub (just cajun seasoning with dried thyme, rosemary)
  • sausages

I had one small steak. Most of the meat can be eaten tomorrow, cold, with salad again because tomorrow will be another hot and humid day.

I have to keep my baby salad (growing in a raised bed) under wire because the birds always try to eat the young leaves. They know what is really tasty.

Sonntag, 1. Juni 2014

Pumpkin buns

Today I decided to get rid of the butternut squash lazing around in my kitchen since several weeks. It was a rather small one and because I waited to long to cook the vegetable, this guy was really hard to peel but therefore flesh was deep orange and sweet. I wanted to make some semi-sweet buns filled with pumpkin puree (good either steamed or baked or deep-fried):


bun with sweet pumpkin mash filling

For the puree:
I steamed the squash/pumpkin flesh, cut into smaller chunks, without any additional liquid but covered, in the microwave for about 6 minutes and mashed it afterwards.
Mixed with 2 tablespoon sugar I heated the mash up in a saucepan and stirred on high heat to let some more of the moisture evaporate. After a few minutes the pumpkin mash was dry enough to be used for filling.

I prepared a dough:
1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup milk, lowfat, lukewarm
1 large egg, room temperature
3 tablespoons butter, soft
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon honey
1 small tablespoon instant yeast


1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon soy sauce
sesame seeds

For the dough I filled all ingredients into the mixing bowl of my kitchen engine and let it run for about 8 minutes on medium speed.
Afterwards the dough had to rest and rise in the bowl until doubled in size, covered by a damp towel for about 1 hour. I stretched the dough on a flour dusted baking board and folded it 4 times, rolled it into 2 long  rolls and divided each roll into 12 slices/pieces. Each piece I formed into a disc, smaller as my palm.

I greased two silicon muffin moulds with a little butter, each comes with 6 small moulds and placed 1 disc of dough into each. While covering the bottom of a mould the dough has also to build a small rim - just like a small cup. I filled 1 heaped teaspoon pumpkin puree into each dough cup and covered with a second disc of dough while pinching down the edges to close the buns. Than I pinched the upper dough layer with a fork for a few times. The buns can also be formed free-hand by using a larger disc of dough instead of two, while pinching the edges over the filling. The dough is soft and so is the filling so this way is more kind of playing on the safe side...

I let the buns rise until doubled in size, brushed the egg wash on top and sprinkled on sesame seeds. The buns were baked at 180 degree Celsius for about 20 minutes (+/-) until well browned.

The buns are best to be eaten lukewarm. Don't eat them hot or the pumkin mash will burn your mouth...