Zucchini beignets with chive-lemon yoghurt

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We are inundated by a glut of zucchini and facing something of the usual dilemma what to do with them. It wasn’t really planned to be like that: I did not get a wheelbarrow full from a generous neighbour neither has my Mum been to visit with the bounty of her garden but I went to the store, loaded the basket and consciously bought the whole 3+ kg (and hauled it home) and was about to start a major pickling session. Well, my husband came home, sighed heavily while staring with blank eyes at the tiny mountain for minutes before he asked with a hollow, croaky (we have a cold) but strangely calming (the crazy?) voice whether we really needed half a ton of zucchini pickles? Nope, maybe not. He has a point.

So, here I am, with my self-inflicted zucchini glut and neither very sad about nor repented of it: Continue reading

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Gougères

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Every year we swish through Burgundy on our way to Provence & the Côte d’Azur, only interrupting our journey to spend the night – plus a nice dinner, no question – and continue extremely well fed & refreshed in the morning. Not at snails pace, mind you, who wants to miss the morning opening time at Valrhona and spend some quality time amongst like-minded freaks connoisseurs at the holy grail of chocolate and stock up on ‘essentials’, certainly not me. Though every time I wish we could stay a little longer, explore this village and that wine cellar, revisit places I have been to eons ago on a Romanesque architecture research tour, soak in the smells of the vines, ancient abbeys and dark forests, snoop around in tiny hamlets to find a cheese maker advertised on the side of a narrow country road.

Well, this summer we did! Burgundy is stunningly beautiful and boasts – apart from wine (obviously) & recently granted Unesco World Heritage status (July 2015), first class architecture & art – an excellent cuisine with great eateries and a cornucopia of one, two, three Michelin star restaurants in nearly every, or every other village. The food is remarkable and does not take any prisoners with its use of butter, cream, cheese, more butter, eggs, garlic to anoint snails, Bresse chicken, Charolais beef, frogs legs… deep sigh. Of course all minimum three, no arguing, courses of a delicious menu are washed down accompanied with (properly swirled, sniffed and gargeled) exquisite wines. It is the proverbial Schlaraffenland or land of milk and honey cheese and wine. And that those two go very well together, is known especially in Burgundy where Gougères, little savoury cheese puffs with a crunchy outside and a soft cheesy doughy centre, are served with a glass of wine or as an amuse bouche while you contemplate which delicacy to choose for dinner. I think we’ll make a habit of that. Continue reading

Duck eggs with almond dukkah

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Oh dear, holiday, Mum visiting & computer issues, time flies and this rather quick but exquisite dish took a while to get here… It would not be an exaggeration (or eggsaggeration) to say that I have gone a bit nuts about eggs this Easter, I’ve bought beautiful powdery-blue Aracauria eggs, extra-grand goose eggs, tiny spreckled quail eggs & off-white marble-shelled duck eggs which I’ve used in this appetite-whetting spring starter. Duck eggs with extra-buttery yolks get a dot of mayonnaise & a sprinkle of aromatic almond Dukkah, an Egyptian nut and spice mix that tastes fantastic when mopped up with a bread dipped in olive oil. Add green asparagus spears for a more substantial (& frankly the ultimate spring) starter – nothing else says ‘Spring has sprung’ except for a gambolling lamb. Continue reading

Lettuce cups with red pepper lentil balls

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Vibrant colours, bright flavour hits and warm spicy notes – all combined in these wonderful Turkish red pepper & lentil balls served on emerald green baby romaine lettuce. Turkish mercimekli köfte make a fabulous appetizer for a crowd, great finger food for a party, brilliant brunch fare or vegetarian meal and look stunning while being super easy to prepare and assemble. In the interest of stability when served as finger food I’d go back to its original shape of a small köfte, an oblong loaf shape, rather then the admittedly prettier balls which only pretend to remain stationary but suddenly start to roll on the lettuce like a fast spinning roulette ball Continue reading

Scarlet eggs

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I’ll make it short this week: Are these not the most beautiful eggs you have ever seen? Well, should you be looking for a little weekend project, I’d say pickle some eggs and serve this stunning brunch dish / hors d’œuvre on the next. Which leaves plenty of time to think about the rest like shopping for smoked salmon, lumpfish roe, invite some people, I mean, why wait until Easter to have some fancy eggs. Perfumed by fresh tarragon & red wine vinegar, their beetroot dyed vivid scarlet artistically contrasts the bright yellow yolks and already are a picture in themselves. Alternate these on a bed of baby spinach (really makes those colours pop) with the small beetroot & garnish with sour cream, lumpfish roe & dill. Best to have some tiny blini handy. Continue reading

Broad bean bruschette

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German recipe at the end / Rezept auf deutsch am Ende des Beitrages

Simple broad bean bruschette have an effortless & understated elegance about them, not only do they have the looks, they taste spectacular, too. Vivid green broad beans brightened by a little lemon & fresh mint, get piled on creamy ricotta & grilled bread and are finished by a sprinkle of fleur de sel (sea salt flakes).

Absolutely heavenly as a starter or great with drinks, they’ll also transform into a perfect lunch or light supper, which I could eat anytime: and I have done so again & again before I noticed that I might want to take a picture to share them. Adding a few slices of smoked salmon can make them a more substantial meal, if needed.

Broad beans are in season from spring to late summer (now), so in case you have overindulged on broad beans at the beginning of the season (yeah, me) and then sort of forgot about them when faced with summer’s abundance of other vegetables (corn, tomatoes, aubergines, zucchini…) there are still ample opportunities to rectify that grave oversight right now (revert to frozen, when out of luck for fresh). Continue reading

Tandoori Octopus & tuna crudo with preserved lemon relish

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See below for the German translation – siehe unten für die deutsche Übersetzung der Rezepte

I am a great fan of a p’tit apéro, the aperitif, and especially of the things that come along with it. It is such a nice start to a dinner, a get together: everyone relaxes (especially the host, i.e. me), has a chat, a sip and a nibble or two. Olives & nuts are beloved classics but to a taster-greedy person like me, anything from the Hors d’œuvres or Tapas department is the Non plus ultra. A small plate of this, one bite of that, a spoonful of something else, a nibble here, a taster there – I am in heaven.

Which brings us directly to Inaki Aizpitarte. Trust a Basque chef with highly revered restaurants in Paris to conjure up irresistible French-Basque tapas hybrids (in/for Bon Appetit): Sliced cured duck breast instead of Iberico ham, a trio of fantastic anchovies, olives and tangy green Guindilla peppers, fiery orange Tandoori-spiced octopus coins.

The jewel coloured octopus got served at a supper with friends, next to a tuna crudo (raw tuna slices), an incredible smoked pimenton & preserved lemon relish (inspired by another Aizpitarte recipe) to go with both & we have added ‘simple’ broad bean bruschette to balance those intense flavours. Continue reading