Purple sprouting broccoli with anchovy sauce

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The beginning of a new year always seems to call for some sort of detox, cleanse or diet (or all three together) and generally imposing on us an imperative to repent for our ‘sins’ aka holiday excesses. This requires some will for martyrdom and in most cases sets one up for failure within a few days anyway. A big part of the phenomenon called French paradox is the absence of regret and the ability to savour (and indulge in) the food without fretting constantly. So, why not leave all the guilt where it belongs and just eat a few more greens? Especially when those greens are purple sprouting broccoli and come with this wonderfully assertive dipping sauce that is reminiscent of bagna cauda and gentleman’s relish. Continue reading

Rhubarb-almond-orange loaf cake with streusel

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Spring is not really spring without asparagus, strawberries, may bugs, sweet woodruff, peas, broad beans – ok, the list is endless. But what would spring be like without rhubarb and rhubarb cake? In my book a proper rhubarb cake is absolutely essential when the crisp air turns balmy and fragrant with all the sweet, fresh vernal scents while daylight returns. Just what I need when I have been working hard moving flower pots and planters about, scrubbing the terrace without ANY help – human or machine (I am not bitter, though) – and after the immediate danger of frost has waned, planting herbs and other delicate plants outside.

We are almost slipping over into early summer now, so while this cake comes a bit late to the party it is crammed with extra flavour that lives up to the challenge: almonds and oranges with a dash of ginger in a dazzling almond streusel topping. Continue reading

Orange marmalade

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I always thought making orange marmalade was fiddly & super difficult. Well, turns out, it’s rather easy and the most difficult thing about it is the shopping. Seville oranges are not your usual (German) supermarket fare, they are mostly sold at proper/specialty grocers, markets and in farm shops – my favourite places to shop anyway. So, if you see Seville oranges (the season is from end of December to February), buy, buy, buy like a 1980s stockbroker and ask questions later*.

Dark January & February evenings afternoons are perfect for preserving in general and seasonal citrus fruit in particular. Everything has slowed down, the rush of Christmas has passed, the days are starting to get longer again but are still grey and cold and frankly, miserable at times. The citrus scent is intoxicating – a promise of warmer, brighter days – Continue reading

Steak & Guinness pie

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I am going to tell you a (food) love story. The protagonists are textbook romantic drama types: the beautiful heroine (me, of course) and the misunderstood, ill-reputed and much maligned British cuisine with its hidden charm & a pedigree of manifold honourable ancestors (all to be revealed in the course of the dramatic events). They have a first encounter where sparks fly: ours happened in children’s books and English literature and who could not fall in love with the descriptions of picture perfect countryside picnics, mad tea-parties or feasts in Sherwood Forest? Then, crisis! Reality came down as a hammer, literally shattering those idyllic images with really ghastly fish & chips, horrendous breakfasts, weak tea & cardboard sandwiches on my first trip to England (late 80’s) where the food lived up to the bad rep it had abroad.

Fast forward to years later (you are visualizing the movie, aren’t you?): I am married to a wonderful British husband, visiting England regularly and indulging in my love for most things British (& rhapsodizing about here), which has certainly taught me a thing or two about English food – first of all: it can be amazing. And surprising, fresh, light & startling beautiful (I only wish my husband would be a seafood fanatic as I am). There are great historic recipes (lemon posset), fantastic condiments, traditional foods, Country house cooking (kedgeree, game pie), Cream teas, iconic preserves (marmelade, chutney) & puddings, great breakfast dishes, sandwiches and sponges, really good fish & chips and and and.

It also has a great amount of comfort foods with fantastic & unexpected deep, intense flavours that belie every clichéd opinion out there. One stellar example is certainly Steak & Guinness pie. Continue reading

Maple & walnut buttermilk scones

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A proper Devonshire cream tea with scones, clotted cream & strawberry jam is pure joy for me and luckily my parents-in-law live in the wonderful West Country where there’s no shortage of quaint & pretty places to enjoy this true British delight (along with many other fantastic regional specialties). Unfortunately, it is really hard to get the proper stuff, namely Cornish clotted cream outside of Western England but scones can easily be made at home anywhere.

This is a delicious British-American hybrid brimming with the inviting flavours of Maple syrup, vanilla, brown sugar. Add walnuts (or pecans if you like) and you have got a treat for breakfast or tea with a dab of slowly melting salted butter or a quickly stirred maple butter. Just mildly sweet, I think they can go either way: for a sweeter tooth drizzle the scones after baking with a maple icing or try the unadulterated scone with a stronger blue cheese or ripe cheddar and some spiced chutney. Therefore, they might be just the ideal thing for brunch.

 

 

Maple & walnut buttermilk scones


Maple & walnut buttermilk scones

Makes 16. Adapted from Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito: Baked. New frontiers in Baking.

 

640g / 4 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
90g / ½ cup light brown sugar
345g / 3 sticks cold butter, diced
1 egg
180ml / ¾ cup buttermilk
2-3 tablespoons maple syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
110g / 1 cup walnuts, only very coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons buttermilk to brush the tops
1-2 teaspoons raw cane sugar (or maple sugar) to sprinkle a pinch on each scone

maple butter (optional): softened butter mixed with a little maple syrup

maple icing: make a semi-runny icing by mixing a little icing sugar and a tablespoon or two of maple syrup

 

Mix flour with baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt & sugar and rub together with the cold butter (hands). Whisk buttermilk, egg, maple syrup & vanilla extract and knead briefly into the dry ingredients, add walnuts and only just push it all together into a rough dough. Do not overknead, it is fine if there are still a few butter patches visible! Divide into two portions and form two rounds, ca. 3.75 cm or 1½ inches thick (on a lightly floured board or directly on a sheet of baking parchment). Cut each disc into 8 slices and arrange on baking sheets covered with parchment paper. Brush each wedge with a little buttermilk and sprinkle a pinch of raw cane sugar or maple sugar on top.

Bake in a preheated oven (175°C / 350° F) for 15 minutes, turn the oven trays back to front and bake for another 15 minutes until the scones are light golden brown. Serve warm with salted or maple butter or leave to cool and drizzle with a maple icing made from icing sugar & maple syrup.

 

 

Maple & walnut buttermilk scones

 


Ahornsirup & Walnuß Buttermilchscones

Ergibt 16 Stück. Adaptiert von Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito: Baked. New frontiers in Baking.

 

640g Mehl
1 TL Backpulver
½ TL Natron
½ TL Salz
90g heller brauner Zucker
345g kalte Butter, in Würfel geschnitten
1 Ei
180ml Buttermilch
2-3 EL Ahornsirup
½ TL Vanilleextrakt
110g Walnüsse, sehr, sehr grob gehackt

2 EL Buttermilch zum Bestereichen
1-2 TL roher Rohrzucker oder Ahornzucker zum Bestreuen

Ahornsirupbutter (optional): weiche Butter mit ein wenig Ahornsirup verrührt

Ahornglasur: Puderzucker mit ca. 1 EL Ahornsirup zu einer dickflüssigen Glasur verrühren

 

Mehl mit Backpulver, Natronpulver, Salz und Zucker vermischen, Butter hinein geben und mit den Händen verreiben. Buttermilch, Ei, Ahornsirup & Vanilleextrakt verrühren, kurz mit der Mehlmischung verkneten, Walnüsse hinzufügen und die Masse zu einem Teig gerade eben zusammenschieben. Es ist sehr wichtig, den Teig nicht zu überarbeiten! In zwei Teile teilen und zwei runde Scheiben von ca. 3,75cm Dicke formen (auf einer leicht bemehlten Oberfläche oder direkt auf Backpapier). Die Scheiben in 8 Stücke schneiden, diese auf mit Backpapier ausgelegte Bleche legen mit Buttermilch bestreichen und ein wenig Rohrzucker oder Ahornzucker darauf streuen. Im vorgeheizten Backofen (175°C) für 15 Minuten backen, dann die Backbleche drehen und weitere 15 Minuten backen bis die Scones goldgelb aufgegangen sind.

Leicht abgekühlt mit der Ahornsirupglasur beträufeln oder pur und warm mit ein wenig Salz- oder Ahornsirupbutter servieren.

 

 

Kedgeree

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Hands up all ye who could not keep up with the galloping pace of December this last year! And now those who amidst all the Christmas stress threw a little birthday get-together shortly before Christmas Eve and cooked all weekend to make the cutest cake (ever) and a spread of Ottolenghi’s scrumptious vegetable dishes (aubergines!). A fair few courses were getting axed as the prep day progressed, where are these Heinzelmännchen (German elfs) when you need them to chop and mix and whisk up all those extra-super-delicious sauces for each recipe?!

Well, anyway, by now we all will be in desperate need for a curative hangover breakfast scoring some more health points than the usual remedial fry-up or a fantastic brunch dish that’s easily (and best) prepared in advance. Allow me to introduce you to one of the most restorative & delightful breakfast / brunch dishes ever Continue reading

scorzonera gratin – Schwarzwurzelgratin

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If you are an afficionado of white asparagus, then by now you are already aching quite badly for the next asparagus season to come around since mid-spring is months away, so absolute agony (remember Cartman wanting a Wii, pacing up & down in front of the shop while trying to summon the day to arrive: “Come on, come ooon” ?). There is a remedy though and winter bestows upon us many marvellous things like snow, Christmas and …scorzonera.

A scorzonera is a root of many names: black or Spanish salsify, winter asparagus, oyster vegetable etc. and its delicate, subtly sweet taste is best described as a mixture of all these exquisite things. Continue reading