RSS

Category Archives: Vegetarian

Introducing the Monsters

They may look adorable, innocent, harmless, but beware. Those are the monsters, Tom and Finn, who come and wake us every single morning at 5 am, if not a little before. Truthfully, I’m not complaining. They are adorable.

A face like that sticks his little face in your face and you can’t help but smile. Even that early.

They have been around now for just over two weeks, driving poor Sophie a little up the wall. We keep thinking she’s handling them a bit better, but I’m not sure. I hope she chills out a bit more in the next couple weeks.

They are certainly chilled.

My day pattern has changed a bit now. Very early in the morning we’re up, running around with the monsters, trying to keep them away from Sophie while she eats her breakfast. And then we eat, go to work, and I try to get home early, to feed everyone, run them around some more, and then collapse into bed.

Weekends are easier. And I am enjoying spring-time food. This was an inspiring recipe a week back. An easy lemon ricotta asparagus ravioli. In the end, it turned out to be more work than anticipated because I also made the dough – the recipe calls for simply using Chinese dumpling wrappers. But I’m not a fan of them. I find them too thin and flimsy most of the time.

In essence, you make your filling – a sort of pesto, blanched asparagus, and cheese mixture that you wiz in the blender.

Then either use pre-purchased dough, or make your own. I did mine – a rye and white flour mixture with some herbs mixed in – with my manual pasta machine.

I remembered only after starting to roll what a pain whole grain flours are. I find them harder to work with. They crack easily. Maybe I need to work on my water, egg, flour ratios. And resting time.

But they came together finally.

And I made enough to freeze about half of them for another time.

To serve, I blanched a few more asparagus and then did a butter/herb/wine sauce.

Tom and Finn did not partake. They stuck to their favorite chicken pate. 🙂

 

 

Save

Advertisements
 
2 Comments

Posted by on May 21, 2017 in Cats, Cooking at home, Pasta, Vegetarian

 

Tags: , ,

Chop chop

img_3984

Have a last look. At my glasses. This is the last of the sexy librarian look for me. I get chopped on Friday morning. WHAT?!?! 😉 I don’t know what I was looking forward to more about 3 weeks back, our two week long trip to Morocco (some photos up to the right over there in the Instanibble feed, sorry, none of me lounging in the sun with my glasses on), or the laser surgery to correct my vision I will have on Friday morning now that we’re back.

People keep asking, “aren’t you scared?” and really the answer is no. I look at it perhaps a bit too logically? One in 3000 cases is a problem. And the doctors tell me that those cases tend to be the ones where the person wasn’t careful for the couple weeks after the surgery. And why wouldn’t I be careful? The only thing I am mourning right now is the fact that I am not supposed to do any sports for two weeks after the surgery. I can’t imagine that. Morocco was hard enough in the past two weeks where I mostly abstained. First came the election and who can run after those results came in? You just want to lie in bed curled up in a ball. And then there was the fact that I was in a reasonably conservative Muslim country, where I was maybe a bit too self-conscious about putting on the jogging tights and t-shirts in front of a population that might really have an issue with it. I only managed twice during the 12 days we were there. And they were both uncomfortable experiences. Again, maybe just me.

Anyway, we’re back now and I  am cooking again, focusing on vegetables! So much chopping, so many veggies being chopped to smithereens under my sharp knives and thrown into the hot pan. Because oddly enough, even though the Moroccan diet is very healthy, when you go out as a tourist and eat in the restaurants, you’re getting the richest, most calorie laden food out there. Low on vegetables, high on meat protein. Some days I thought about what we had eaten all day and was really disappointed and craving vitamins. Even the cooking class I did there didn’t offer up much in the way of vegetables, which was a bit disappointing.

So yesterday, there was a bastardized version of ratatouille.

img_3968

All the basics in there, the eggplant, onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, parsley and thyme. But also some chili, some saffron, and in the end I even chopped up a potato finely to help remove some of the burn of the chili. (I was overzealous with chili.) Really simple food, but oh, so satisfying. Meat is off the menu until Saturday evening, when we will celebrate a late Thanksgiving with our American friends here in Munich. A turkey will be served.

I still wanted some more protein in the meal, so I made some Parmesan toasts and sliced a hard boiled egg on top. Perfect light dinner.

img_3970

 

 

Can you Orecchiette me?

IMG_1503

Home for the weekend and almost no travel ahead of me for the next 30 days – just a day trip here and there. It’s an awesome feeling. I will be sleeping in my own bed, cooking in my own kitchen, running along the isar, playing with the cats, every single day through the month of July. Today, after a month of no significant interesting cooking/recipes because I was on the road most of May/June (or it felt like it), I got a chance to really splurge and spend most of the day in the kitchen, quietly preparing dinner, almost meditating as I pressed and folded, pressed and folded, little Italian-shaped “orcchiette” – which means “little ear” in Italian.

I’d seen this recipe a month or two back, and though it is more of a late spring recipe, because stinging nettles are rather more of a spring ingredient, I didn’t have a chance to tackle it until today. And there are still plenty of nettles around my neighborhood, you just have to take care and look for younger ones, preferably those that haven’t yet flowered. I loaded up the bike basket with a bag, rubber gloves, and scissors and went in search of the weeds. It didn’t take long to find some.

IMG_1482

There they are, to the right of the bike, mixed in with all kinds of other stuff, but easy enough to spot, their nasty little venomous needles out and ready to bite.

IMG_1481

You only cut the top tender leaves off, which I did. Cups of them – perhaps seven or eight – and then I brought them home, to soak in cold water. I wear the gloves all the way through the moment I get them in the pan. I was reminded during the collection, that even a gentle swish of an arm against a leaf is enough to leave a burn.

IMG_1484

But washed and prepped, they look innocuous enough. Sauteed with garlic and onion and then pureed, they are a bit like spinach, but with a wild tang to them. Supposedly quite healthy as well, and I always like gathering things that end up in my dinner.

So on to the pasta. That was a nice mix of standard semolina and in my case, buckwheat, as I didn’t have any rye and couldn’t find it at the store yesterday. Mixed with water, the dough rests for an hour or so before you roll it out and begin the process of creating each of the little “ears.” I had no idea it would take so long, but I did a 600 gram recipe, meaning about 210 or 220 of those ears…each carefully hand rolled, hand pressed, hand folded. It was sort of relaxing ultimately, especially if you can just sit there and watch Netflix for two hours while you do it.

IMG_1486

Weigh out 100 grams, roll it into a log, cut the log into 30-35 pieces.

IMG_1489

Roll each into a little ball. And then press them into shape – a little concave hollow and then press the edges back…to look like an ear. Repeat with the next 100 grams, taking care to always keep the rest of the pasta well covered in plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out as you roll.

There is probably a shortcut, I just haven’t learned it yet.

IMG_1499

And let them dry out on a cloth or some baking sheets for a few hours.

IMG_1494

I’ll put the uneaten ones in the freezer and cook them another time. But for tonight, the rest of the recipe was quite easy.

Chop herbs (mint, dill, chives) and crumble some feta. Zest a lemon. Place it all in the bowl where the dish comes together.

IMG_1512

IMG_1516

While you boil the pasta, saute some oyster mushrooms, throw in some fresh peas, dollop the nettle pesto you’ve made into the mix, stir in some pasta water, and finally mix it all together.

IMG_1518

I love how the little ears gently cradle the peas – a perfect bite of sauce in each little ear. (Cute, no!!?!).

And each bite was lovely, a medley of flavors, each bite a little different: fresh herbs, the salty cheese, the sweet peas, the gentle buckwheat flavor of the dough in the background.

IMG_1522

And to finish off our meal, I’d made a simple upside-down cherry and cornmeal cake. A coffee cake, as it turned out, served with a spoonful of petit suisse cheese mixed with a bit of honey.

IMG_1476

Happy Sunday Supper.

IMG_1525

After that, Monday doesn’t feel so bad, does it?

 

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Bananas for Bananas

IMG_0853

Well the last business trip wasn’t quite as inspiring as some of the ones before. 😉 An interview meeting here two weeks ago …ja, not in the middle of the dirt field, but around the corner in a very nearby building…where was that again? Ah yes, not too far from Cologne. An hour drive into the boonies from the Cologne airport, where we saw huge machines pulling coal out of the ground. I suppose that is something to at least gape and wonder at, if not be inspired by. The customer we spoke with, a grumpy guy who wanted to know what we were doing there, “What do you know about companies like this?!?!” but who sorted his manners out and got much nicer by the end of our 90-minute discussion. Relief. And a sunny, beautiful day to smooth out the rough edges.

But the recipe below is inspiring. Especially because I didn’t believe a word of it even though I read it in at least 10 different places or 100.

Another ice cream recipe. With one ingredient. Or maybe two. Three or four if you want to get creative.

Let’s start with one.

banana

Here’s how this one goes.

Wait until banana is nice a ripe. Not slightly rotten or brown, just aromatic and sweet. Peel the banana. Chop it into slices. Place in a bag, Put in your freezer.

Next day. Take frozen banana out.

IMG_1063

Break the slices up a bit – just separate – and stick them into a blender.

IMG_1065

If you like, add a little milk. Or a little cream. But that’s unnecessary.

For some spice, consider a bit of cinammon.

For some decadence, throw in a spoonful of nutella.

But you don’t need any of that.

Blend.

IMG_1066

Somewhere halfway through (a few pulses), your bananas might get stuck. Just take a tool and push them down again. Blend.

Keep going. Maybe a minute in total.

Open up the blender and look at your beautiful banana ice cream.

IMG_1071

That’s it. It’s perfect. Cold, sweet, creamy, refreshing, and just a banana that has the power of ice cream.

Ok, maybe not this much power

IMG_0895

But at least this much power

IMG_0904

Happy summer from Munich!

 

 

Tags: , ,

Addiction

Tell me, please, how it’s possible that the end of April has already arrived. Last time I looked at a calendar it was January. Don’t get me wrong: I’m very happy that we have scenes like this just outside my home:

IMG_0699

and scenes like this when in Hamburg for a day of client visits:

IMG_0709

Those gorgeous blossoming trees really are a motivation to get out of bed for the day, go for a run…and then maybe sit down to a bowl of this:

IMG_0847

Ummmmmmm. The photo doesn’t even begin to do justice to my new breakfast addiction. (And I have quite a few nice new breakfast suggestions here.) Have you ever made a granola mix yourself? I hadn’t. Friends, let me tell you, if you like to eat cereal in the morning…this stuff is crazy good. Yes, I will reveal the secret ingredients. What’s nice is that it’s also easy and fast to make.

I started with this recipe as a basis for what I ended up with. And I admit, I didn’t stray too far from it.

Nevertheless, here’s my version, tweaked a bit (consider doing a recipe and a half or even doubling it, this stuff goes fast!):

Coconut Cardamom Granola

Ingredients

2 cups whole oats

1 cup coconut flakes (not the tiny flake shreds, you want the large flake)

1 cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup whole almonds

1/4 cup hemp seeds (see – that must be where the addiction comes in)

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

2 Tbsp maple syrup

1 ½ tsp cardamom powder

2 tsp cinnamon powder

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

Mix together all the seeds and grains in a bowl:

IMG_0837

On the stove, melt your coconut oil in a small pot, add the honey, maple syrup, vanilla, salt, cinnamon and cardamon. Stir to combine. Remove from stove, pour the mixture over the mixed grains and nuts, and stir until the liquid is even distributed over the rest.

Spread the mixture on a baking tray, and bake in the oven at 275 F/135 C for about 45 minutes.

IMG_0838

Stir every 10 minutes for a few seconds to make sure you are evening toasting the mix. When the coconut flakes begin to get nice and toasty brown, remove the mixture from the oven, let cool, and then store it in the air-tight container of your choice.

IMG_0844

I haven’t yet tried to create granola bars from this mix, but I guess that is next on the spring agenda.

IMG_0846

 

 

Tags: ,

Pumpkin Sage Dessert

IMG_9678

Unexpectedly, I was in Cologne on November 11. The city goes a bit mad on this day, and I got to observe a little of it in the morning as I walked to the office. Lions and tigers and bears, and whatever else, costumed in celebration of the carnival to come in early spring next year. Inside our office there was no evidence of craziness, (or maybe there was, but it wasn’t carnival related).

I got home later that week…and maybe all the costumes reminded me of Halloween and pumpkins…who knows. Anyway, the bright little orange kombochas all over Munich started singing my name.

This dessert creation was the result.

I can’t really call it ice cream…because it’s a kulfi, which always has the requisite ice crystals, at least a very mild smattering of them, scattered through the otherwise very creamy frozen dessert. I had a craving for some vegetarian Indian dishes and ended up with a fusion mix for the meal. The traditional Paneer butter masala – indian cheese in a thick aromatic and delicious curry gravy, some unusual but very good carrot pancakes – made with a beaten egg, a handful of chickpea flour, shredded carrots and chopped coriander, and finally some flash fried spanish pimento peppers with just a bit of salt and pepper. But to finish off, I wanted to try something a bit nontraditional Indian, and had come across this blog recipe for pumpkin sage kulfi.

Beautiful photos over there and an easy straightforward recipe. But…he made his kulfi with almond milk and I admit I wasn’t willing to do that – I like almond milk, but I also like cow milk ice cream. Maybe next time. He also used canned pumpkin puree, which is hard to find here. Germans do love their pumpkins, you find them at every fresh produce stand around the city, big ones and small ones, and you can even simply take a slice home instead of buying something so huge you can’t possibly eat it all without turning orange.

IMG_9690

So I quickly chopped up my pumpkin and threw it in the pressure cooker for five minutes on high (perhaps two cups of pumpkin when chopped up.) Meanwhile I warmed my milk (4 cups) with two tablespoons of chopped sage leaves, and skimmed them out after 5 minutes of cooking, added the sugar (3/4 a cup of brown sugar – but to which I added probably ANOTHER 1/2 cup later because the mixture was so very non-sweet, surprisingly.) I let this cook for a bit. After the pumpkin was done, I pureed it, and added a good cup or so of it to the milk mixture along with 1 1/2 teaspoons of cornstarch.  And that is it. Let it cook until it thickens a bit and then take it off the heat and pour it into cups. I use old yogurt cups.

IMG_9691

Nice serving sizes, not too much.

The kulfi itself was nice, but a bit one dimensional. So I made a little ginger syrup to pour over the top (1/2 cup of chopped ginger, a cup of water, cup of sugar – heat on the stove for about 20 minutes until it reduces down by half. Pour into a jar and use as needed. Keeps forever. And finally, to give it all an herby note I candied some sage leaves, which sounds complicated but which takes just a few minutes:

IMG_9697

Brush each leaf (or dip, which is what I did) with egg white and then dip them into sugar. Let dry for a few hours until they harden. Also will keep for several months without a problem.

So the dessert concoction in the end was a nice complex combo: The creamy caramelly pumpkin kulfi infused with sage, the spicy sweet note of ginger syrup and the herby candied sage leaves over the top. Worth a try, although a bit fidly/takes some time. Most of the work can be processed simultaneously, and much of it is simply waiting around. But lovely presentation in the end.

IMG_9704

 

Tags: , , , ,

Spice Cabinet Orga = Dhoka

IMG_8970

Last weekend I couldn’t look at my kitchen countertops anymore. They seemed to be filling up with crap everywhere. Out of control. Spoons and spatulas spilling out of a huge bucket, oils and vinegars and peppers and salts littering the space next to the stove, containers filled with coffee and muesli huddling at the endges. Enough was enough. A new strategy.

Honest assessment. What do I need here, what can go? What absolutely needed to be on the counter and what could live inside a drawer? How many wooden spoons does a girl need? (Note: I decided three.) And so there were several hours of rearrangement and clearing. I didn’t touch the spice cabinet – a nightmare by itself, all the little bottles and baggies. Horror. So I stuck with the counters. Step 1. Felt good.

Step 2 happened this morning. The rain was pissing down – the glories of German summer. Or as I learned …wimmer (winter+summer). It just starts in November and extends…to November. I wasn’t quite ready to jump into my running tights and head to the gym, so tackling the spice cabinet seemed a good activity. You can see the result above. We won’t discuss any further the “before” version. In order to hopefully maintain some order I even labeled the shelf sections. Let’s see how long the spices stay in their respective areas. It’s a bit like my clothing. I make nice orderly stacks of t-shirts and pants and sports clothes and 3 weeks later everything is asunder again.

As you might have noticed, the most common spices are the Indian/Pakistani ones. Granted, there are some crossover spices – I mean, where does “cinnamon” really belong? (Indian? Baking? Turkish?), but for the most part I sorted by instinct – “where would I look for something first?”

And to celebrate the order, I made a new Indian recipe. Something called Dhokla, a recipe for it was just published by the nytimes a week back or so. It’s, in this case, a semolina flour version. I decided to try it as the starch in our meal this evening rather than just a standard naan/roti. Dhokla is a steamed savory cake, usually served as a kind of snack in India, from what I learned.

IMG_8973

And it worked and came together pretty quickly. Chili and ginger make it like a sort of spicy cornbread. I learned this fast trick – I don’t remember where I read it. To peel ginger, don’t bother with a knife. Just take a spoon and scrape off the skin. It comes off quickly and easily and significantly reduces the hassle and waste you normally get by trying to peel the knobby root.

IMG_8979

Dhokla is steamed, not baked. I had to make a sort of make-shift steamer. Which was fine.

IMG_8975

IMG_8982

Tumeric surprisingly turned it red, not yellow, after it was steamed, although it started out yellow as you can see above. Must have been some sort of chemical reaction? One note is that the recipe calls for 20 minutes of steaming, but in my case it took about 35 minutes until the top was firm. My steamer set-up was slightly different than that described in the nytimes recipe, so perhaps that’s why.

IMG_8990

You make a tarka for the cake – an oil in which you quickly fry some mustard and curry leaves and chilies. To serve, pour a bit of this over the top, and sprinkle with some fresh coconut slivers and chopped cilantro.

IMG_8987

It’s a snack, but I made it for dinner. The taste? Quite similar to a cornbread, perhaps like a jalapeno cornbread, freshened up with the yogurt raita I served it with, really delicious. Although I look forward more to the leftovers, as usually by the time I am done cooking, I can barely face dinner – I’m sick of the flavors. Give it a day break, and it’s great again though.

IMG_8991

Surrounded by a spianch daal, a fresh aubergine and pepper dish, and a saag paneer, we were happy eaters this evening. And tomorrow evening happier with the leftovers.

Now…time for the Football. Go “Schlaaand!”

 

 

Tags: , , ,