Roast lamb with a herb-mustard crust

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There is something so immensely pleasurable about a piece of lamb roasting in the oven, the scent of its mustard-herb marinade wafting through the kitchen before it slowly meanders through the whole house. Garlic adds its irresistible aroma and for an hour it’s half torture, half delicious anticipation of things to come. A roast is in my husband’s dictionary a proper Sunday dinner (he is an Englishman after all) and while I would love to serve an impressive gigot (leg), practicality and economy demand a smaller piece for us two or four. A shoulder works perfect as a roast for a small number of diners, since it’s size and the internal blade bone allow for a relative short cooking time. Pairing lamb with green beans and small potatoes is another must in our kitchen. Continue reading

chickpea salad with cucumber, tomatoes & peppers

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This is my go-to-salad for a barbecue. It is rather quick to make (once chickpeas are cooked or substituted by tinned) and its bold, punchy flavours pair extremely well with anything grilled or charred: robust skirt steak and herb-marinated lamb, flash-griddled squid (1), red mullet or snapper (2) or as my husband would hasten to point out: sausages & ribs. The chickpeas provide substance as well as a nice bite and take it far away from limp and watery while cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes add crispness and crunch all the way. Seasoned with a little dose of spice and woodsy-ness (3) from wonderful Piment d’espelette, a dash of cumin, parsley and a final flourish of mint and lemon to deliver another boost of freshness. In short, it is the opposite of boring. Continue reading

Tarte aux apricots d’André Lerch

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This apricot tart is a little different, sure there is a heavenly buttery pâte brisée sucré base (aka sugary short crust) and juicy apricots with nearly charred but wonderfully caramelized tips but there is more! – an extra filling for the apricots to nestle in, vanilla scented, buttery batter that amalgamates with the sugary apricot juice into something otherworldly. Thanks to this batter the cake stays moist and juicy for days, I thought I mention this, just in case you are thinking of baking it just for yourself… Continue reading

Gewürzgurken – German pickled cucumbers

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Market stalls in Germany are brimming with pickling cucumbers and bunches of stunningly fragrant dill flowers in summer to make the traditional Gewürzgurken, German dill & spice pickled cucumbers. If you have never tried them, you definitely should. Less sharp than cornichons but with an equally pleasant crunch and a soft interior, their balanced aromatic notes are perfect company to cold cuts, fish, anything smoked or cured, paté, cheese, well, the list is endless.

I love the complex dill flavours the cucumbers absorb from dried dill, seeds and the wonderful fragrant (and very pretty) dill flowers and it is hard to find comparable examples outside of Europe. These pickles are smaller than their American cousins but bigger than cornichons or gherkins and have a decidedly mellower vinegar flavour than all of those who punch high in the acid class without being sweet as bread-and-butter pickles and the like. Continue reading

Rote Grütze

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In early July when the red currants are ripe my grandmother always made Rote Grütze. We picked the shiny, glassy currants and other berries from the garden and she cooked her own version of this Northern European dish. I am still in awe of every bunch of sparkling red currant jewels and they should really be worn as edible earrings like you do with a pretty pair of cherries.

My grandmother did not bother much with strict adherence to the original Northern German recipe where she came from and that limits the fruits to red currants but used what was available and at peak though she insisted on only red fruit. Strawberries or raspberries for a sweet flowery note, sometimes bright red cherries were included and if a few last rhubarb stalks were leftover from the previous harvest, they got used too. Accordingly the colour of the pudding varies between bright red leaning on pink or dark ruby red if darker cherries, raspberries and a few black currants or black berries dominate later in the summer. Continue reading

Oregano bucatini with tomatoes

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There are days when I feel uninspired, sluggish and my normally sunny disposition tends to be more on the grumpy side. I want to have good food (fast), something delicious and healthy without a lot of pottering around. So, please do not ask me to make ‘something simple’ (without naming one ‘simple dish’ or offering specific suggestions) or let me start the huge complicated dinner project originally planned for that evening – better not ask me anything if you value your life since this state is quickly followed by a hefty side of hangry-ness. Generally carbs, pasta in particular, are a like a St. Bernard for me and these wonderfully aromatic herby, silky, satisfying oregano & tomato bucatini are about the fastest cure for anything Continue reading

Chilled pea shooter + Green peas with pea shoots

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Just back from a little rest (aka bask in the short bout of summer sunshine and blissfully doing nothing much except enjoying myself) and finally getting this out, I can’t say why but it lingered a bit while I had to get on with a few other things – one is a guest post about a fresh & crunchy chickpea salad with cucumber, tomato & peppers – perfect for a bbq, picnic or weeknight summer supper –  at / on / for my friend Jeanette’s Surf Cook blog.

Basically a two-in-one recipe for an elegant-rustic but super simple side dish and a vitamin packed chilled green shot or – here comes the pun – shooter. I’ll throw in some near-instant gratification gardening (grow your own pea shoots in 10 days!), which makes the whole thing extremely satisfying and ultra-local: window sill to table. Continue reading