Black chocolate-espresso cake with single malt whisky glaze









Well, this was rather a longer hiatus than the small break I intended to take. Lots of stuff to sort out here, feeling a bit under the weather & a whole Downton Abbey Marathon is taking place right now after the final series arrived and naturally needed to be watched immediately – quite the task for one to accomplish if one wants to finish in time for the Christmas Special (yeah, only slightly obsessive, I’d like to think). And more laziness ensued while I was making and eating bagels and shortbread and chicken pot pies and swoon over a plate of fabulously simple but delightful truffle tagliatelle and indulge in all the kale I could get my hands on rather than telling you about those things, my bad. I intend to make it up to you with this wonderful cake full of the most marvellous flavours, which came out (to stay in the Downton vocabulary) in honour of my husband’s birthday a while ago.
Black chocolate-espresso cake with single malt glaze

Extra dark cocoa, rich espresso & coffee flavour a mysteriously light chocolate cake crowned with a boozy single malt whisky glaze – a cake evoking a Country house smoking room or a traditional gentlemen’s club. Continue reading

Mimi’s potato pie









It is hard not to rave about the current weather: I am in love with this autumn, its colourful leaves sailing slowly to the ground (you might have noticed) and the rising fog which makes staying in or returning home after a bracing walk through fresh air filled with the scent of burning wood fires (or even better the local butcher smoking his sausages) and a certain mossy dampness promising the appearance of mushrooms everywhere. Well, finally weather to indulge without a smidgen of guilt in rib-sticking, rich dishes with lots of molten cheese, bacon, potatoes, polenta, pastry, dishes I always associate with Alpine cuisine. You know, stuff you’ll eat after a long day skiing. Or after spending considerable time somewhere in the cold, foggy exterior… like standing around a fire watching effigies of Guy Fawkes being burned on Bonfire Night for example. ‘Remember, remember, the fifth of November / gunpowder treason and plot…’ Continue reading

Spiced date dip













There is a curried cream cheese dip circulating the German party scene since several years and for a while you could not escape a version of Sultans Freude (= Sultan’s delight*) anywhere. Luckily, in food as in fashion fads disappear and good things are periodically rediscovered and reborn as new classics. Here’s my plea for this warm curry-spiced date dip to return to this seasons party buffets since it is a perfect companion to most of the autumnal fare around. Think pumpkins, squashes, sweet potatoes, apples, pears, parsnips, topinambur, beets, root vegetables and spiced breads like zucchini bread, banana bread – its clever seasoning & subtle sweetness allows it to oscillate easily between savoury and sweet dishes. Continue reading










Autumn can be glorious, the trees blazing in fiery reds, dark greens, burnt oranges, gold and yellows. Crisp mornings invite to a brisk walk in the woodland, where rays of sunshine are breaking through the thinner tree canopies, chestnuts and acorns are dropping and deer browse on misty clearings. But autumn can be murky, grey and nondescript as well, it is not yet cold, but not really warm anymore, not dark but not bright either, some days are just murky. Though these days are not to be sniffed at, they are perfect for preserving, pickling or making the adequate antidote to the feeling of ambivalence: Kimchi. A pickle extraordinaire, the Korean condiment awakens any dish and tired taste buds, it is punchy without being too spicy, has a funky note from a short term of lacto-fermentation and dazzles with vibrant colour and flavour. Continue reading

Baked plum porridge









As the days get shorter I am so happy to switch to a warm breakfast again and even since I did not grow up eating porridge (or Haferbrei as the German equivalent is called) I am a total porridge-freak. I prefer a very simple, near ascetic version of oats cooked in water and some salt and not too smooth mind you, I’ve got all my teeth – but then I top it with blueberries and a little golden syrup. Bliss. Of course, on the weekend a more glamorous breakfast is called for: bring on the baked porridge / oatmeal, a concept totally new to me but I am a convert if you need a healthy and yummy breakfast dish for a few weekend guests or a stress-less brunch.

Lusciously juicy red plums not only lend their marvellous purple-pinkish and yellow colour to this baked porridge but I think their taste is transformed from a sometimes rather watery fruit to a real sweet & warm plummy plum. Add the almond studded delicately maple-sweet oatmeal with the slight tartness of the kefir, a fermented thickened milk, and a hint of lemon for a great, great breakfast dish that could please a crowd for brunch as well as just two. Continue reading

German apple torte – gedeckte Apfeltorte


I did not even plan to make an apple cake this weekend – weird, right? After all, autumn is apple time and therefore apple cake time. Well, luckily these apples found me. My go-to vegetable & fruit lady at the local market told me about these heirloom apples, an old cooking apple variety which is best for cakes and suddenly I was totally set on apple cake. I got a few Golden Nobles (Gelber Edelapfel), a variety that was found around 1800 in Norfolk and has been cultivated since 1820. It is an excellent cooking apple, very low in sugar and, according to Dr Wikipedia, suitable for diabetics. Above all it is beautiful in its yellow-pale green colour. Peel it as thinly as you can and discover why it is also called Wachsapfel (wax apple) since the skin comes off like a fine shaving of a candle and the pale yellow-green skin colour stays on the apple flesh.

Anyway, this noble apple demands a special cake, a traditional German gedeckte Apfeltorte which is covered apple torte where a magnificently juicy soft apple layer studded with raisins and almonds is encased in a soft (yes) shortcrust pastry and covered with a lemon-sugar glaze. It does not get any more German than this. Sourcing recipes, I found one in a cookbook from 1894 (I love old cookbooks) for a Hamburg apple torte that sounded like the one I was searching for and was about to start when my Mum rang – excellent timing. Naturally, I told her about the market, the apples and that I was about to embark on baking (we talk about food a lot) and she told me about this old family recipe that she had been given by my grandmother’s twin sister and swore that Tante Martha’s apple torte is the best apple cake ever. As I said, excellent timing. Danke, Mama!

The recipe arrived post-haste (well, email) and my Mum is right, it is the BEST apple cake EVER, the apple slices melded together into a soft apple layer, juicy but not runny, tart and sweet with plump raisins and little almond nuggets (I’ve added those since I love raisins and almonds in an apple cake, soak them in rum if you like a boozy note but of course water is fine, too), a well tempered hint of cinnamon (not too much). This fabulous apple filling is balanced by the soft & crumby pastry and finally, the sweet lemony glaze – serve with lashings of whipped cream after that first autumn walk in the forest. Best on Grandma’s china, if you’ve got some, for the true German experience. Continue reading

Zucchini pickles









Here’s what to do with the rest of the zucchini glut (self-inflicted, harvested or otherwise acquired), should you by chance having any kicking around your house or a few pounds leftover from last weeks lunch. These pickled zucchini are not mouth-puckering vinegary, they are savoury with a lingering note of distilled herbs and Indian spices, have a subtle sourness and just a whisper of sweetness – think of them as something along the lines of sweet & sour Indian bread-and-butter pickles. Imagine how good they will be with cooked ham, on a sandwich (oh, I should make pastrami), as a side to a cheese platter. Certainly will they be fantastic with turkey & chicken and provide an extra flavour-layer to the great noodle / rice / quinoa / farro bowls that we all will be eating for lunch now that the days are getting shorter.

In all their turmeric glory, they look pretty stunning, don’t they? The yellow, green & red just pop and bring back the summer colours when you get a jar out later in the year. Surely, they will liven up the darkest and dankest of days with their cheery colours and warm aromatic spices. The zucchini pickles are not spicy at all, so feel free to add a few chillies to cover that if you are so inclined. Continue reading