Eggs with Frankfurter Grüne Sauce – eggs with green sauce

eggs

Happy Easter!

Hopefully you have found many Easter nests and Easter eggs and are enjoying the fantastic weather. Even knocked out with the flu, it looks glorious. After you have eaten all the chocolate, fondant, cream & other eggs, here is an eggscelent dish to cope with the surplus of hard-boiled variety after Easter or to have a nice vegetarian dish up your sleeve to detox after all the eggstravaganza of four feasting holidays. Enough, this herby sauce is an eggstraordinary great condiment for cold cuts of meat or smoked fish (trout, mackerel), too.

Eier im Kräuterbett

Every Hessian market stall in spring is packed with wonderful billowing parcels of herbs for Grie Soß, green sauce. As soon as you point to one, a white paper scroll brimming with green garden herbs is carefully unrolled before your eyes and today’s mixture explained. For this green sauce is a local speciality, it is a seasonal dish since the herbs have to be grown here (nearly an appellation contrôllée & no far flung air-travellers allowed) and therefore composition of greenery changes as the season progresses. The market woman recants the different herbs and either for theatrical purposes or in case you are not so familiar with some of the rarely seen herbs points to them and explains some more, gives recipe tips and so on. You see, this green sauce and the herb mixture is a matter of pride and at least 7 of the following herbs have to be present: curly parsley, chives, chervil, cress, salad-burnet, borage, sorrel, dill, tarragon, lemon balm.

Traditionally, eggs with Frankfurter Grüne Sauce are eaten predominantly on Maundy Thursday (Gründonnerstag). According to local folklore it was Goethe’s favourite dish and why not: a simple dish of new potatoes, eggs and the intensely green, fresh & herby sauce is a spring delight. Some recipes are rather more strict on the ingredients & herb selection, others include finely chopped hard-boiled eggs in the sauce but that’s too many eggstra eggs for me. And before some are up in arms: the picture shows a green sauce with more quark in it – eggscident.

Frankfurter Green sauce

Though is a classic dish throughout the whole season and can be found in various forms on every Straußwirtschaft menu, casual little taverns or pubs at a vineyard, preferably outside, where homemade cold cuts, small plates & little morsels, salads & hearty fare is sold, just perfect for a stop on your Sunday stroll and naturally, it provides a good base for some extensive – where you expecting a different word? – Riesling tasting. My favourite is ham in aspic, topped with a dollop of a runnier green sauce and fresh rye bread. Oh, why don’t we go now?

 


 

Frankfurter Grüne Sauce (green sauce)

200g or 7 oz fresh herbs (choose 7 of the following: curly parsley, chives, chervil, cress, salad-burnet, borage, sorrel, dill, tarragon, lemon balm)
a tub of sour cream
white vinegar
sunflower oil
a few tablespoons of quark or optional: mayonnaise
salt & pepper
hard-boiled eggs
boiled new potatoes in their skin

Chop your herbs very fine and tip them into a large bowl. Add sour cream until you have a green puree and thin the sauce with a little vinegar (start with a tablespoon) and some oil (2-3 tablespoons). Most times this sauce is rather thin though I like to add a few spoons of quark for a stiffer version to serve with eggs & potatoes (some people prefer the unctuousness of mayonnaise). Traditionalists even add finely minced hard-boiled eggs to it – too much if you eat it with eggs, I think. Serve with just about hard-boiled eggs & new potatoes. Riesling, anyone? Bon appetit.


Frankfurter Grüne Sauce

200g frische Kräuter, mindestens 7 der folgenden: krause Petersilie, Schnittlauch, Kerbel, Kresse, Pimpinelle, Borretsch, Sauerampfer, Dill, Estragon, Zitronenmelisse
Saure Sahne (ein Becher, ca. 250g, eventuell auch etwas mehr)
weißer Essig
Sonnenblumenöl
ein paar EL Quark, Schmand oder Mayonnaise (nach Geschmack)
hart gekochte Eier
neue Kartoffeln mit Schale gekocht

Die Kräuter sehr fein wiegen und in eine große Schüssel geben. Saure Sahne unterrühren und das grüne Püree mit etwas Essig (zunächst 1 EL, eventuell mehr) und mehr Öl (2-3 EL, eventuell mehr) mischen. Je nach Geschmack und gewünschter Konsistenz mehr oder weniger Essig & Öl hinzugeben, für eine dickere Sauce zu Kartoffeln gebe ich noch etwas Quark oder einen Löffel Mayonnaise hinzu. Mit Salz & Pfeffer abschmecken und zu den harten Eiern und warmen Kartoffeln servieren. Vielleicht ein Glas Rieslíng dazu?

Turkey meatballs with soy-ginger glaze & griddled pak choi

Turkey meatballs with soy-ginger glaze

These scrumptious savoury morsels (my husband pops them like bonbons) are perfect on their own, but to drizzle them with the sticky soy-ginger glaze comes somewhat close to gilding the lily – though only in a good way. They effortlessly make their way to the top of our what-shall-we-have-tomorrow-questionnaire. Every time.

Ground turkey is not really a common sight in German butchers or supermarkets (in fact: never), you have to get chopping yourself and frankly, I prefer the coarser texture to the fine grind. You’ll see what is in the mince as well, to make a virtue out of necessity… Mix in a few bread crumbs to insure those delicate meatballs will stay balls meaning keep their shape & stick together while being browned all over. Drizzled with the treacly ginger syrup and serve with fragrant white rice and a huge plate of this (highly addictive) smoky griddled pak choi or bok choy.

Turkey meatballs with soy-ginger glaze & griddled pak choi


 

Turkey meatballs with a soy-ginger glaze & griddled pak choi

30 little balls serve 4 or if you invite my husband: just 2. You have been warned.

The Meatballs are adapted with a few minor changes (chopped turkey, breadcrumbs) from Deb of Smitten Kitchen who herself got it from Canal House Cooking, vol. 3.

Sauce:
½ cup (90g) dark muscovado or dark brown sugar
½ cup (120ml) water
½ cup (120ml) soy sauce
½ cup (120ml) mirin
¼ cup chopped ginger; I used less (half): a big walnut sized piece
1 teaspoon ground coriander
a few black pepper corns (4-8)

Meatballs:
1lb (454g) turkey breast
4-6 spring onions (scallions)
a handful of coriander (cilantro)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
black pepper, add some chilli flakes for extra spice
about 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
sunflower oil or other vegetable oil

Bok choy / Pak choi:
8 medium pak choi
(any) oil
hoisin sauce
sriracha sauce (medium hot)
soy sauce or salt & pepper

 

Start with the sauce: dissolve the sugar in the water over medium-high heat, add soy sauce, mirin, ginger, coriander, pepper corns and turn the heat to medium-low. Stir occasionally and simmer until reduced by half to a runny syrup or thick glaze (not as thick as treacle). Takes about ½ hour. Strain if you like, I rather like the ginger in it and do not bother with an extra step.
Meatballs: Finely chop the turkey (to a coarse mince), as well as the spring onions & coriander. Mix together with an egg, sesame oil, soy sauce, freshly ground black pepper and bread crumbs to a rather loose & light mixture. Form with moistened hands into little cherry-sized meatballs, they are going to be quite soft and need to be gingerly treated.

Heat a generous splash of oil in a frying pan (skillet) over medium-high heat and slowly fry the first batch of turkey meatballs until browned and cooked (ca. 8 minutes). Keep them warm on a preheated plate or in a low oven while you prepare the rest. Drizzle with the soy-ginger glaze before serving.

Pak choi: While the meatballs are frying, heat a cast-iron griddle or plancha (alternatively use a large frying pan) over high heat. Halve the small cabbages lengthwise (the halves are kept together by the stalks), brush the cut sides with a little oil and place onto the searing hot griddle. Turn over after a few minutes and sear the other side until they are soft, browned in parts and exude a nice barbecue smell. Place on a warmed platter, drizzle with thin strands of hoisin & sriracha sauce (both handily available in squeeze bottles). Season with soy or salt & black pepper and serve together with the glazed meatballs and fragrant Thai or Jasmin rice.

Griddled pak choi


 

Putenhackbällchen mit Ingwer-Sojaglasur & gegrilltem Pak choi

Ergibt ca. 30 kleine Frikadellen. Das reicht für 4 Personen, falls mein Mann vorbei kommt: nur für zwei.

Das Rezept für die Putenhackbällchen wurde mit einigen Änderungen adaptiert von Deb of Smitten Kitchen, die es von Canal House Cooking, vol. 3 übernommen hat.

Sauce:
90g oder ½ Tasse dunkler Mascobado Zucker
120ml Wasser
120ml Sojasauce
120ml Mirin
ein Stück Ingwer (von der Größe einer Walnuß), gehackt (die Hälfte einer ¼ Tasse gehackter Ingwer)
1 TL gemahlener Koriander
4-8 ganze schwarze Pfefferkörner (nach gewünschter Schärfe)

Hackbällchen:
450g Putenbrust (Putenschnitzel)
4-6 Frühlingszwiebeln
a Handvoll Koriander
1 großes Ei
2 EL Sesamöl
2 EL Sojasauce
schwarzer Pfeffer, eventuell auch Chiliflocken
ca. 2 EL Paniermehl
Sonnenblumenöl

Bok choy / Pak choi:
8 mittlere pak choi
Öl
Hoisin Sauce
Sriracha Sauce (mittelscharf; grüner Deckel)
Sojasauce oder Salz & Pfeffer

 

Zuerst die Sauce vorbereiten: In einer kleinen Kasserolle den dunkelbraunen (unraffinierten) Zucker im Wasser bei mittlerer Hitze auflösen. Sojasauce, Mirin, Ingwer, Koriander und Pfefferkörner hinzugeben und bei verringerter Hitze um die Hälfte zu einem (dünneren) Sirup einkochen. Das dauert ungefähr eine halbe Stunde. Anschließend kann man die Glasur durch ein Sieb geben, ich mag die Ingwerstückchen in der Sauce und verzichte auf diesen Schritt.

Für die Hackbällchen das Putenfleisch fein hacken, ebenso wie die Frühlingszwiebeln und den Koriander. Alles zusammen mit dem Ei, Sesamöl, Sojasauce, frisch gemahlenem schwarzen Pfeffer (wer es schärfer möchte gibt noch Chiliflocken oder Cayenne hinzu) und dem Paniermehl zu einer weichen Masse verrühren. Mit angefeuchteten Händen kleine Bällchen (kirschgroß) formen. Einen guten Schuß Öl in einer Pfanne erhitzen (mittlere Hitze) und die vorsichtig die sehr weichen Putenbällchen portionsweise rundherum braten bis sie durch und gebräunt sind. Auf einem vorgewärmten Teller oder im Backofen bei niedriger Temperatur warm halten. Vor dem Servieren mit der Glasur beträufeln, den Rest in einem Kännchen separat dazu reichen.

Für den Pak choi eine Grillplatte oder schwere Pfanne stark erhitzen. Den chinesischen Kohl längs halbieren (die Hälften werden von den Stämmchen zusammengehalten) und die Schnittflächen mit ein wenig Öl bepinseln. Auf die heiße Fläche legen und einige Minuten grillen, wenden und braten bis der Pak choi weich, an einigen Stellen bräunlich geworden ist und wunderbaren Grillgeruch angenommen hat. Die Hälften auf eine Platte legen und mit einem dünnen Zickzackmuster aus Hoisinsauce & Srirachasauce verzieren (praktischerweise gibt es beide in den handlichen Plastikfläschchen). Entweder mit Sojasauce oder Salz & Pfeffer würzen und mit weißem Duftreis zu den glasierten Hackbällchen servieren.

 

Hot cross buns

 

Hot Cross Buns – Korinthenbrötchen (deutsches Rezept am Ende)

Hot cross buns

In case you did not know, I am married to an Englishman, which has only furthered my Anglophilia and deeply rooted affection for extremely expensive paints & wall papers, Earl Grey tea with milk, P.G. Wodehouse, a fried breakfast, B&B’s, the countryside, picnics, the National Trust, Deborah Devonshire, British cuisine and to top the by no means finished list – a pinch of charming eccentricity.

Hot cross buns

In England, Hot cross buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday (the cross symbolizes of course the Crucifixion). Maybe you know the nursery rhyme and song? A relative of the gorgeous Dutch Krentenbollen (soft currant buns, a sure thing to eat in Holland & bring a bag for my your Mum) these are firmer, saffron-golden and have a distinct and intense spiced taste. Other sources state that Hot cross buns have been served during the whole of Lent. I am a little bit puzzled how these rich golden buns, full of aromatic currants & expensive spices like saffron, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves & ginger could have been a daily occurrence and fit the concept of restraint (though once marzipan was considered a fast food!). The luxurious ingredients seem to me more the feast at the end, the break of the fast and beginning of the Easter celebrations.

Hot cross buns

I have failed these buns for years with some resembling fruitcakes (how to say it politely: not my thing), some turned out great – as building material, other recipes took the glazing a bit too far: a triple douse of apricot jam & sugar syrup??? Finally, Felicity Cloake presented How to cook the perfect Hot cross bun (not a moment too soon) and the next day I had several winners on my plate and never looked any other bun in the eye again: Only the tiniest of adaptations (e.g. I prefer a pure currant bun without mixed peel) and a few nips & tucks at the method.

Hot cross buns

 


 

Hot cross buns

Makes 16, adapted from Felicity Cloake’s Perfect Hot cross buns from the Guardian

update: the American cup measurements and weight in ounces are there now

 

200ml milk = ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons = 13½ oz
a few pistils of saffron (a good pinch)
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 green cardamom pods, lightly bruised
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
20g fresh yeast (never made this with dried yeast, though substitute a sachet of 7g)
50g caster sugar = ¼ cup
450g strong white flour (bread flour or type 550 flour) = 3 cups = 16 oz
100g butter = 3.5oz = 1 stick minus 1 tablespoon
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger
3 (2+1) eggs
200g currants = 1 cup or 7 oz
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon hot water

Gently heat (do not boil) the milk, throw in the spices: saffron, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon & cloves and leave to infuse for a few hours. Warm again until tepid, strain and dissolve the yeast & feed it with a pinch of sugar.

Cut your butter into small pieces and add them to the flour into a large mixing bowl (or use a pastry blender), rub together, then mix with sugar, salt & ground ginger. Make a well in the middle, add the two eggs and beat with wooden spoon before you add the yeasty spiced milk and stir together. Continue kneading the dough by hand (at least 10 minutes) until soft & smooth. Add more milk if your dough seems too dry or hard to work. Grease a bowl, lift the dough into it & cover with a large plastic bag or tea towel and leave to prove until it has doubled in size (anything from 2 hours in warm place, more in a cooler area).

Briefly knead the dough on a flour-dusted counter & incorporate the currants until evenly distributed. Divide the dough into 16 pieces, roll those into buns (no need to count the currants in each one) and place onto lined baking sheets. Score the top crosswise, cover again with a large plastic bag and leave in a warm place to double in size.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and make an egg wash from the remaining egg with a little water or milk. Stir the flour with a miniscule amount of water into a really thick paste (like putty) and spoon this into one corner of a (tiny) plastic bag. Brush each bun with the egg wash and using your freezer bag as a piping bag (cut of the corner’s tip) draw crosses onto the buns. Bake for about 25 minutes until the buns are golden and the flour cross is still relatively white. Glaze them as soon as they are out of the oven with the tablespoon of sugar dissolved in the hot water, then leave to dry & cool.

 

 


 

Englische Korinthenbrötchen zum Karfreitag

16 Brötchen, Rezept adaptiert von Felicity Cloakes Rezept aus dem Guardian

 

200ml Milch
eine Prise Safranfäden
¼ TL Muskatnuss
3 grüne Kardamom Kapseln, leicht gestoßen
1 Zimtstange
2 Nelken
20g frische Hefe (ich benutze hierfür nie Trockenhefe, wenn gewünscht: 1 Paket à 7g)
50g Zucker
450g Mehl (Type 550)
100g gute Butter
½ TL Salz
½ gemahlener Ingwer
3 (2+1) Eier
200g Korinthen
3 EL Mehl
1 EL Zucker
1 EL heißes Wasser

Die Milch langsam erhitzen (nicht sprudelnd kochen) und darin Safran, Muskatnuß, Kardamom, Zimt & Nelken für mindestens 2 Stunden ziehen lassen. Danach die Milch wieder erwärmen (Körpertemperatur), durch ein Sieb gießen und dann die Hefe darin auflösen und mit einer Prise Zucker füttern.

Das Mehl und die in kleine Stücke geschnittene Butter in eine große Schüssel geben und zwischen den Fingern zerreiben (oder einen Teigmischer / pastry blender benutzen), dann Zucker, Salz und Ingwer hinzugeben und vermischen. In die Mitte eine Vertiefung machen und darin 2 Eier verquirlen. Die Hefemilch hineingießen und alles mit einem starken Holzlöffel verrühren bis ein weicher Teig entsteht. Danach mit den Händen (für mindestens 10 Minuten) kneten um einen glatten und elastischen Teig zu erhalten. In eine leicht gefettete Schüssel geben, mit einer großen Plastiktüte (oder einem Küchenhandtuch) abdecken und an warmem Ort zur doppelten Größe aufgehen lassen (mindestens 2 Stunden).

Den Teig auf eine bemehlte Arbeitsfläche geben und kurz durchkneten, dann die Korinthen einarbeiten bis sie sich gleichmäßig verteilt haben. 16 gleichgroße Brötchen formen und auf mit Backpapier belegte Bleche legen, wieder abdecken und aufgehen lassen bis sie ihre doppelte Größe erreicht haben.

Den Backofen auf 200°C vorheizen und das verbliebene Ei mit etwas Milch oder Wasser verquirlen. Aus dem Mehl und ganz wenig Wasser eine Paste formen (ähnlich wie Fensterkitt oder Knete) und in einen kleinen Plastikbeutel füllen. Die Korinthenbrötchen mit der Eiglasur bestreichen und anschließend eine dünnes weißes Mehlkreuz obenauf spritzen. Dazu von der Plastiktüte eine klitzekleine Ecke abschneiden und sie wie einen Spritzbeutel benutzen. Für ca. 25 Minuten backen bis die Brötchen goldbraun und die Mehlkreuze noch weiß oder nur leicht gebräunt sind.

Sofort mit der Zuckerglasur (1 EL Zucker in 1 EL heißem Wasser auflösen) bestreichen, dann trocken, abkühlen lassen und essen: sehr lecker mit Butter & einer guten Tasse Tee.

 

Wild garlic pesto

I imagine you are basking in spring sunshine as well (mixed with a few cloudy days now and then) and are buying every green shoot & leaf on the markets yourselves. A while ago I had a quick chat with Sophie James about a pesto with wild garlic and the thought has not left my mind.

Bärlauch- or Wild garlic pesto

Thankfully ramsons or German: Bärlauch are abundant now and I made a few batches experimenting with different nuts. Astonishingly walnuts, which I had imagined as a brilliant contender, completely killed of the sharp grassy & herby taste of the wild garlic and basically bulldozed flattened the pesto. Tja, next. Blanched almonds worked well, though, in my book nothing beats the creamy smoothness that pine nuts can give to a pesto. Always a stickler for proper pesto making (pestle & mortar), in dealing with wild garlic, I prefer the rapid pureeing powers of the blender to preserve the (almost neon) vivid green colour.

Now, what to do with those jars of wild garlic pesto? They look tiny now, but contain a concentrate and a little goes a long way. Plus, the Bärlauchpesto packs quite a punch and sports a certain sharpness, so it is in need of proper vehicles:

  • Good company to grilled lamb chops (serve with these lemony giant beans & fennel with dill)
  • Lunch of artichokes: mix a spoonful with mayo & more lemon juice for a grassy green dip to dunk each artichoke leaf and lick your fingers afterwards
  • Of course pasta: linguini with wild garlic pesto for a light supper
  • Any grilled meat, fish, vegetables like peppers, green asparagus, corn…
  • Knead into some butter for a quick compound butter to melt on your Sunday steak (oh, that was quite the thing & I might never make ordinary garlic butter again)
  • Make wild garlic bread: spread between barely cut baguette, wrap in foil and bake – yum
  • We tried these as garlic shoestring fries as well…

You can smell our house from space.

 


Wild garlic pesto

for two small Weck jars (140ml)

a bunch of wild garlic (just the leaves weighed 130g in the end)
50g (¼ cup) pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan
40g (1.5 oz) Parmigiano reggiano or Grana pardano, grated
salt
lemon juice
olive oil

Roughly chop the wild garlic and blend (only a short burst) them together with the pine nuts. Add the cheese, some salt, a spritz of lemon juice and some olive oil to the blender and give it another quick blitz & adjust the seasoning to your taste. Add more oil if you are using the pesto right away to achieve a runnier consistency. Otherwise (if you want to store an amount for a couple of days or more – ours was good for 2 weeks) spoon the concentrated paste into small jars while making sure no bubbles are visible throughout and top with a layer of olive oil to prevent discolouring. Store in the fridge until used.
Bärlauchpesto

genug für zwei kleine Weckgläser (140ml)

1 Bund Bärlauch (nur die Blätter wogen 130g)
50g Pinienkerne, in einer trockenen Pfanne getoasted
40g Parmigiano reggiano oder Grana pardano, gerieben
Salz
Zitronensaft
Olivenöl

Den Bärlauch grob hacken und zusammen mit den abgekühlten Pinienkernen nur kurz in einem Blender oder einer Küchenmaschine zerkleinern, dann den Parmesan, etwas Salz, einen Spritzer Zitronensaft und etwas Olivenöl hinzugeben und wieder nur in kurzen Intervallen hacken (es sollte kein Püree werden) & nach Geschmack nachwürzen. Will man das Pesto sofort essen, mehr Öl hinzugeben um eine etwas flüssigere Konsistenz zu erhalten, will man es aber ein paar Tage aufbewahren, dann sollte man die konzentrierte Paste in ein kleines Glas löffeln (darauf achten, dass sich keine Luftblasen in der Masse befinden) und abschließend mit einer Schicht Olivenöl bedecken damit kein Sauerstoff an das Pesto kommt und es die Farbe verliert.

Verwendung: als Sauce zu gegrillten Lammkoteletts oder anderem gegrillten Fleisch, Fisch, Gemüse, verrührt mit Mayonnaise & mehr Zitronensaft als Dip für Artischocken, klassisch mit Pasta, als garlic fries (Knoblauch-Pommes), mit etwas Butter zu einer himmlischen Kräuterbutter verknetet & auf einem Sonntagssteak schmelzen lassen, zu Spargel servieren, Knoblauchbrot… ach, ich werde hungrig.

Lemony giant beans with fennel & dill

Lemony giant beans with fennel & dill

 

Do you feel you get stuck sometimes and feel that even your absolute favourite vegetable dishes are still, well, loved, but you could do with a change or something new? It is the exact same feeling, that you get looking at your wardrobe and sigh and sigh and… One new thing that mixes up everything, turns things around, allows new combinations and suddenly: all shines in a new light, looks bright & fresh and the world is right as rain again.

These giant beans, fennel & lemon wedges with tons of dill offer a total different taste and unusual combination of ingredients (honey with dill). Definitely something to get you out of your vegetable or side dish rut: brilliant on its own, though I imagine it a great companion to grilled mackerel, rouget (red mullet), too. We had it with lamb, which was the reason I tried it in the first place. The ingredients made me think of the cuisines of Greece, Turkey, Persia, Israel and lamb chops came to my mind (luckily I had just bought some that day in the Kleinmarkthalle – what a coincidence). We loved it and this dish has claimed its place in our rota of quick go-to suppers or sides.


Lemony giant beans & fennel with dill

Serves two as a side dish, adapted from Heidi Swanson; I changed the quantities, added more sauce, lemon & dill)

1 fennel bulb
1 tablespoon olive oil
half a lemon, thoroughly washed and cut into wedges
salt
1 teaspoon honey
¼ cup of white wine
1 small tin (220g) of cooked giant white beans (Fagioli “Bianchi di Spagna”)
1 ladle of chicken broth or vegetable stock (approximately ¾ cup)
½ cup of roughly chopped dill
Cut the fennel in halves, turn those onto the cut sides and slice the bulb into 1cm (less then 1/2 inch) thin wedges. Heat the oil in a frying or braising pan over medium heat, throw in the fennel and leave to brown undisturbed for a while (2 minutes or longer) then add the lemon wedges brown for another 2 minutes. Season with salt, add honey & wine for the sauce, let it reduce for a minute, then pour in the stock and warm the beans in it for approximately 5 minutes. Sprinkle with dill to serve. As Heidi says, the beans are great at any temperature – we enjoyed them as a warm side to our grilled lamb.

 


Zitronen-Riesenbohnen & Fenchel mit Dill

Für zwei Portionen, adaptiert von Heidi Swanson

1 Fenchelknolle
1 EL Olivenöl
eine halbe Zitrone, gründlich gewaschen und in Spalten geschnitten
Salz
1 TL Honig
60ml Weißwein
1 kleine Dose (220g) weiße Riesenbohnen (Fagioli „Bianchi di Spagna“)
1 Kelle Hühner- oder Gemüsebrühe (ca. 180ml)
½ Tasse oder eine große Handvoll grob gehackter Dill

Den Fenchel halbieren, auf die Schnittflächen legen und in 1cm dicke Spalten schneiden. Das Olivenöl in einer Pfanne oder einem niedrigen Schmortopf bei mittlerer Hitze erhitzen, den Fenchel hineinstreuen und ohne Rühren für ca. 2 Minuten oder länger bräunen. Dann die Zitronenspalten hinzugeben und alles für mindestens weitere 2 Minuten Farbe annehmen lassen. Salzen, Honig & Wein für die Sauce einrühren, eine knappe Minute reduzieren lassen, dann die Brühe hineingießen und darin die Bohnen erwärmen (ca. 5 Minuten). Mit Dill bestreuen und servieren. Das Gericht schmeckt bei jeder Temperatur: heiß, warm, Zimmertemperatur; allein oder als Beilage zu Fisch (mhm: gegrillet Makrelen oder Rotbarben sind bestimmt toll) oder Fleisch: uns haben diese aromatischen Zitronen-Bohnen besonders gut warm zu gegrillten Lammkoteletts geschmeckt.

Octopus in the Sardinian way

Octopus in the Sardinian Way

There we are, the 100th post. Whistler might have named this ‘Harmony in pink and green’ for its stunning colours. The delicate pink of the octopus is contrasted by the vivid green of the freshly podded peas & once you lift the lid with a flourish (Ta-daa!), everyone will be engulfed in the most aromatic smells. Naturally, the taste matches its visual splendour.

I only had Octopus alla catalana before: Octopus cooked in its own juices with cubed potatoes which (inevitably) gets quite salty. Last summer my friend Anke (who took all the photos) came to visit and I had to grab the opportunity by the tentacles to eat seafood when I can (because some people here, I am not naming any names, are a bit suspicious of tentacles & suckers…) and to try a different approach. Valentine Warner’s fantastic recipe is close to perfection, the added vegetables prevent excessive saltiness and turn it into a very fine dish to celebrate the arrival spring. We thought though, that it needed a lot more fresh peas and spring onions than he started out with – and now, no hard feelings, it is one of the best ways to treat an octopus. Just add a glass of Tavel (rosé) for a summer supper. Now the first pea pods have been sighted, this might be on the weekend menu soon, who’s coming? Ähem, I saw fresh peas this week, thinking about it now: that does seem a bit early, doesn’t it? Anyway, maybe a freak occurrence or some hotter climes candidates and we’ll have to wait a few weeks longer for the early varieties, so keep the octopus in mind until then.

Octopus & garlic

Notes on how to prep an octopus: Do not be disheartened by the task of dismembering the octopus nor of the thought of tentacles on your plate. Re the operation: here is a handy site, which will guide you through the process step-by-step. I found it extremely helpful when faced with my first octopus and even if you do not speak German, the pictures and video are both illustrative & self-explanatory.

There are two ways to soften an octopus: get out your flute and start playing… Just kidding. Either tenderise the dead body with a heavy object (with the flat side of a mallet or a heavy pan) or smash against the stone steps leading to your Italian summer villa (no, me neither). You even could go the easy route and freeze it for 1-2 days which as the same effect and is less messy. Ideally, you could prepare it before you do that but I always get home from the fishmonger and bury it into the freezer to be dealt with later. I do not know why all my descriptions & puns sound like an old CSI script, I am a little worried. Where are my sunglasses? Sharpen your knifes!


Octopus with peas and spring onions – the Sardinian way

Serves 6-8, adapted from Valentine Warner’s What to eat now. More please (now reissued as What to eat now. Spring & Summer), also here, with tiny upgrades & adjustments in the herb & vegetable department (doubled onions and added even more peas to have enough of these delicious tasting veg to serve everyone as a side)

1 octopus, ca. 2kg or 4 ½ lbs (freeze for 1-2 days to soften; or prepare and freeze then)
1 head of garlic
50ml (¼ cup) olive oil
25 large spring onions, white bulbs
juice of 1 lemon
2 fresh bay leaves, tear or crumple to release oils
3-4 sprigs of thyme
8 black peppercorns
500-700g or 1-1½ lbs fresh peas (shelled weight, depending on how many people are there; Warner uses 300g peas, unpodded weight)
pepper (& salt)
good knob of cold butter (or olive oil)
fennel fronds or chives
Prepare the octopus: separate the head from the body (underneath the eyes), discard head & innards, turn the armed body over with the beautiful pattern facing you, remove the hard beak by pressing it through the centre point of the arms. Freeze at this point or prepare your defrosted octopus like this.

Cut the tentacles & body into bite-sized chunks and halve the head of garlic with a horizontal cut, another beautiful pattern. Heat the olive oil a braising pan over high heat, when the oil is smoking hot, fry the garlic halves on their cut sides, throw in the onions and brown. Add the octopus, stir and fry on high for 30 seconds, reduce the heat to low, add lemon juice, herbs & pepper and cover the pan with its lid. Stew the octopus on very low heat for 1¾ – 2 hours. Shell the peas and reserve. Check the octopus after 1¾ hours for tenderness (pierce like potatoes with a knife). Take of the lid, add the shelled peas and cook them uncovered for 8 minutes in the wonderful aromatic juices released by the octopus, season with black pepper and check if any salt is needed. Stir in the butter for a delicious sauce and serve immediately sprinkled with the fennel fronds or chives for optical reasons. Serve with a rustic Italian country loaf.


 

Oktopus mit frischen Erbsen & Frühlingszwiebeln – Pulpo auf sardinische Art

Für 6 Personen, adaptiert von Valentine Warner’s What to eat now. More please. (auf deutsch: Frisch & Einfach kochen): ich habe die Menge der Zwiebeln verdoppelt und deutlich mehr Erbsen hinzugefügt, die sind so gekocht sehr lecker und hat man das Gemüse gleich schon dabei!

1 Oktopus, ca. 2kg (Krake oder auch als Pulpo verkauft; für 1-2 Tage einfrieren, damit er weich wird oder erst vorbereiten und dann einfrieren)
1 Knoblauchknolle
50ml Olivenöl
25 große Frühlingszwiebeln, nur die weißen Zwiebeln
Saft von 1 Zitrone
2 frische Lorbeerblätter, an einigen Stellen einreißen oder zerknüllen um die aromatischen Öle austreten zu lassen
3-4 Zweige Thymian
8 schwarze Pfefferkörner
500-700g frische Erbsen (gepalt, je nach Anzahl der Personen, Warner: 300g frische Erbsenschoten)
Pfeffer (& Salz)
ein nicht zu kleines Stückchen kalte Butter (oder Oliveöl)
dunkles Fenchelgrün oder Schnittlauch

Operation Oktopus: Den Kopf unterhalb der Augen vom Körper trennen und zusammen mit den Innereien entsorgen. Den sternförmigen Körper mit der schönen Unterseite nach oben drehen und ausbreiten, dabei die harten Kauwerkzeuge im Zentrum von unten nach außen drücken und so entfernen (hier ist der Prozess sehr genau beschrieben, Fotos illustrieren jeden Schritt, obendrein gibt es noch ein hilfreiches Video). Entweder an diesem Punkt für ein bis zwei Tage einfrieren oder den aufgetauten Oktopus wie beschrieben vorbereiten.

Die Tentakel und den Mittelteil in mundgerechte, aber nicht zu kleine Stücke zerteilen und die Knoblauchknolle horizontal aufschneiden. In einer schweren Schmorpfanne (mit Deckel) bei großer Flamme das Olivenöl stark erhitzen und den Knoblauch mit der Schnittfläche nach unten kurz anbraten, gleichfalls die Frühlingszwiebeln bräunen. Die Oktopusstücke unter Rühren ½ Minute anbraten, dann die Hitze auf die kleinste Flamme reduzieren und Zitronensaft, Kräuter & Pfefferkörner hinzugeben. Den Deckel auflegen und den Kraken für 1¾ – 2 Stunden bei sehr niedriger Hitze schmoren. In der Zwischenzeit die Erbsen palen und beiseite stellen. Nach 1¾ Stunden den Oktopus auf Zartheit prüfen (mit einem kleinen Messer pieksen), die Erbsen hineinschütten und ohne Deckel 8 Minuten in der aromatischen Flüssigkeit kochen lassen. Mit schwarzem Pfeffer würzen und eventuell salzen, dann die leckere Sauce mit der kalten Butter abrunden und mit dem dunklen Fenchelgrün oder Schnittlauch bestreuen und sofort servieren. Lecker mit frischem italienischem Bauernbrot und einem kalten Glas Tavel (Rosé).

Béarnaise or chervilled eggs

Chervil & béarnaise eggs

My red hen egg-platter (rescued a few weeks ago from a charity shop, don’t you think that was a great find?) cries out for devilled eggs, although here in Germany filled eggs are known as Russian eggs but contrary to their American equivalents (‘deviled eggs’) which are cherished everywhere, they still snooze in their glass coffin, ahem, reputation of old-fashioned twee-ness or dusty cocktail party fare.

Time for a resurrection: I love chervil-filled (or chervilled eggs), the grassy & aniseed taste catapulting us into spring and I have included two pure chervil halves on my platter (why choose, if you can have both?). They are mingling on the plate – it is party food after all – with Béarnaise eggs, whose bellies are stuffed with a chervil, tarragon & lemon cream and allude to the famous sauce Béarnaise. I am absolutely potty about this classic since I encountered it as a child, dining with my father on white asparagus and steak. To me, nothing beats that taste & memories included and I make, regrettably not so frequently as I would like, both versions: the proper and the super quick one which I shall post soon-ish when I allow myself to eat another ton of butter.

So, even if you are not a premium member of the Béarnaise-Sauce-Appreciation-Society, the elegant, grassy & fresh anise flavours grace any egg and these chervilled ones will be a great sight on that Easter brunch table. I don’t know about you, but I am keeping my fingers crossed for an outdoors picnic! If you do not happen to have a red hen dish in your cupboard, they nestle spectacularly in a bed of herbs.

Update: Try the Chervil & tarragon filling as a dip for crudités: crisp radishes, carrots, sugar snap peas, celery, cucumber, broccoli & cauliflower florets etc. Hmhmm.

 


Chervilled or Béarnaise eggs

It is hard to give precise measurements here, since personal preference and taste plays a big part in this recipe. I prefer handful measures, it is very personal and people seem to automatically take the right amount without thinking too much about it. I like a lot of herbs and try to aim at a minimum amount of mayo & quark added here, to get a rather stiff filler and prefer a 50-50 mixture of mayo & quark, added spoon by spoon to see when it is enough and not too much. Add more or less herbs, go full mayonnaise or mix as I do with a stiff quark or alternatively Cream cheese or firm Greek yoghurt – nothing to thin or liquid.

 

6 eggs
a handful of chervil, chopped
½ handful of tarragon, chopped (leave out, add more chervil if you don’t like tarragon)
2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2-3 tablespoons quark
salt & white pepper
lemon juice or tarragon vinegar
chervil leaves or trout caviar for decoration

(Don’t boil) your eggs: place them in a small pot or saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a soft simmer. As soon as you see bubbles appear, take them of the heat, cover with a lid and do not touch for 11 minutes (10 minutes has the yolk slightly soft in the centre). Interrupt the cooking (otherwise there will be that greenish ring around the yolk) by dousing them with cold water. Peel and, when cool, halve them. Carefully remove the egg yolks and strain them through a mesh sieve. Mix them with your chopped herbs, add mayonnaise and quark only in small doses to achieve a stiff cream with the minimum amount added to it, that is not too soft and you can pipe (and will hold its shape for the party). Season the filling with salt & white pepper and just a hint of lemon juice or even tarragon vinegar. Pipe it into the white halves (best if they are already on their serving plate) by using either a small piping bag, a freezer bag with a corner cut of or just take a teaspoon. Decorate with small chervil leaves, tiny amounts of bright trout caviar or what comes to mind.

 


Kerbel- oder Béarnaise-Eier (Russische Eier)

Es ist schwer, hier genau Mengenangaben zu geben, da persönliche Vorlieben und Geschmack eine große Rolle spielen. Daher bevorzuge ich die Handvoll als Maßeinheit, da man beinahe automatisch eine dem eigenen Geschmack entsprechende Menge greift ohne viel darüber nachzudenken. Ich bevorzuge viele Kräuter im Verhältnis zu Eigelb und wenig Mayonnaise & Quark, die ich nach und nach und ungefähr in einer Mischung von 50/50 hinzufüge. Lieber weniger als mehr, da sonst die Füllung zu flüssig wird und keine Party durchhält. Man kann natürlich auch mehr Mayo nehmen oder den Quark durch Frischkäse oder dicken griechischen Joghurt ersetzen.

 

6 Eier
eine Handvoll Kerbel, fein gehackt
eine ½ Handvoll Estragon, fein gewiegt (weglassen und durch mehr Kerbel ersetzen, wenn man keinen Estragon mag)
2-3 EL Mayonnaise
2-3 EL Quark
Salz & weißer Pfeffer
Zitronensaft oder Estragonessig
einige Blättchen Kerbel oder feiner Forellenkaviar

Die Eier (nicht) kochen: man lege die Eier in einen kleinen Topf oder Kasserolle, bedeckt sie mit kaltem Wasser und bringt das Ganze zu einem leichten Simmern. Sobald das Wasser simmert und Bläschen aufsteigen, nimmt man die Eier vom Feuer, legt den Deckel auf und lässt den Topf unberührt für 11 Minuten stehen (nach 10 Minuten sind die Eier perfekt zum Essen, das Eigelb hat aber noch eine weiche Stelle, deshalb lieber 1 Reserveminute für große Eier). Dann schreckt man die Eier mit kaltem Wasser ab und pellt sie, wenn sie kalt genug sind. In zwei Hälften teilen und die hartgekochten Eigelbe durch ein Sieb streichen und mit den fein gewiegten Kräutern sowie wenig Mayonnaise & Quark mischen und mit Zitronensaft, Salz & weißem Pfeffer würzen. Die Creme sollte nicht zu dünn werden, damit sie entweder mit einem kleinen Spritzbeutel oder einem Gefrierbeutel (füllen, dann eine Ecke abschneiden) in die leeren Eiweiß spritzen. Am besten macht man dies, wenn sich die Eierhälften schon auf der vorgesehenen Servierplatte befinden. Mit einem Kerbelblättchen oder ein wenig Forellenkaviar dekorieren und sich am Anblick und Geschmack erfreuen.