Pistachio gelato

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In the matter of ice cream flavours I am not, never have been a strawberry-vanilla-chocolate kind of person but a faithful pistachio lover. Ever since the day I could make my own gelato choice from the sleek, shiny case behind the espresso machine and food elevator at the end of the central bar in the restaurant. The prospect of the delicious after-dinner treat made me forget my toddler timidity and march alone through the dining room to choose amongst the flavours (classic Italian gelato varieties and special ones like Stracciatella and Pistacchio– we are talking 1970s!) and always choosing the one. Continue reading

Sweet woodruff syrup – Waldmeistersirup & Maibowle

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It is near impossible imagining Germany in May without Waldmeister, sweet woodruff. The faint vanilla-sweet smelling herb infuses the traditional Maibowle (may wine punch), imparts its astounding fresh aroma onto vivid green coloured jelly, ice creams and green gummy bears. Waldmeister syrup mixes with sparkling water for a herby-sweet spring lemonade and flavours a refreshing Berliner Weisse (beer). But drizzle it onto a perfect ball (or two) of mascarpone ice cream, add the best strawberries and you might as well find yourself in paintings by Watteau or Boucher: Continue reading

Blueberry soup

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Recipe in English & German / Deutsches Rezept am Ende

The blueberry season draws to a close and these last berries are ripe, beautifully sunshine-sweet and laden with the floral, heathery taste of their smaller wild relatives from the woods. The best thing to do with these is to make blueberry soup.

A traditional Swedish (& Finnish & Danish) dish, this cold fruit soup, is on the thin side and rather fruity than sweet, which I prefer (add more sugar to taste, if you need to bolster the sweetness of your blueberries). Best know in our house as the soup that Emil of Lönneberga (Michel in Germany) lands in face first after crashing on stilts through a window and then pouring the rest over the fainted hostess Fru Petrell. Maybe, as a child you had a similar crush on idyllic Swedish country life Continue reading

Ricotta pancakes

Ricotta pancakes

These little pancakes are heavenly: light, fluffy & a little tangy with a slight hint of lemon due to the ricotta. And… they are extremely good with strawberries and golden syrup (hey, there is no sugar in them) or yoghurt and a mixture of papaya, mango & passionfruit, which is my preferred version for lunch.

I would make them every other weekend alternating with paper-thin pancakes, were my husband only a pancake lover. He is not. That makes these even more special (to me) and quite a feast when served. Any weekend visitors will come as a welcome excuse to make those or occasionally, I’ll make them my lunch. There is quite a tradition in Germany for pancakes at lunchtime: large, thin pancakes (not a crêpe, though) with slices of apples or blueberries baked into them, served with a thin dusting of sugar. Most people harbour fond childhood memories of those as a treat after school. My grandparents were great apple pancake makers and of course, the apples came from their garden. Just the aroma of apples transports me back into their kitchen with my grandmother peeling apples in one swift move and amazing me with the long ribbon of peel every time.

Strawberries are finally back in season and the roadsides are littered with giant strawberries, arrows or tiny handwritten signs advertising farm shops or just a little stall with a few punnets. They impart an amazing aroma that pales every supermarket berry within a 100mile radius. Thank god, there are visitors coming next weekend…

Rezept auf Deutsch wie immer am Ende

Continue reading

Chicken fricassee – Hühnerfrikassee

chicken fricassée - Hühnerfrikassée

I am working on a recipe index… and tidying up some loose ends. Boy, all of those take some time and I got lost dreaming of a new place or a change. This initiated a minor spring clean: the kitchen got a spruce paint job (white over splatters, project The-parents-are-coming-soon) and I had a good tidy in the storage room reappointing a lot of things to the charity shop: don’t think I’ll ever wear the Girbaud suit thing with cut-outs again (stretchy material, though). Invigorating.

Hühnerfrikassee is one of my favourite meals since I was a child: the sauce is a little lemony and ever so often you hit a tangy tasting brined caper. I love (loooove) capers and their numbers tend to decrease every time I am passing my pan, so beware, if you find me in the vicinity of your stove acting totally innocent – probably whistling – while you wonder about the severely diminished caper-count. I did it, spoon at the ready, to my mother’s fricassee every time her back was turned. Sorry, Mama.

In Germany, chicken fricassee is classically served with white asparagus tips when the new & tender white asparagus is in season (now) or otherwise, sliced white champignons could be added to the aromatic sauce. I love the pure dish equally to an asparagus studded version and have some bright green peas as a side to contrast the pale creamy white.

On a weekend or if you have the time it is definitely worth it making the fricassee from scratch using a tasty long, free & happy-lived boiling chicken. The meat stays wonderfully juicy and you’ll have a great chicken broth as a bonus. For instant gratification and a really fast dinner (we are talking maximum 10-15 minutes including the time it takes to cook the rice) use leftover meat from a roasted chicken and start the recipe with the roux. For smaller portions, I think a poached chicken breast (use the same recipe for the poaching liquid) works well, too. Although, why not make a whole batch and freeze the surplus portions for a rainy day?

 


 

Chicken fricassee

for 6-8 people as a main, depending on the voracity of their appetite

1 chicken (preferably a boiling hen)
salt
2 tablespoons butter (30g)
1 onion
root vegetables for soup (ask for ‘Suppengrün’): 1 large carrot, a piece celery root (1 thick slice or ¼ small root), 1 leek, 1 parsley root, 1 yellow turnip, 1 branch parsley & lovage => dice all, leave herbs whole
lemon peel or a thick slice of lemon (organic)
basil
a few black pepper corns
½ – ¾ litre = 500-750ml or a 1½ pint (US) water

30g butter
1 shallot, minced
2 heaped tablespoons (30g) flour
½ litre (500ml or a pint) of the reserved stock, don’t fret if it is a little less or top up
white wine (dry, a small glass)
small capers in brine (to taste)
90ml or 6 tablespoons cream
lemon juice
salt & white pepper
(optional: 1 egg yolk)
optional: sliced white champignons de Paris or tender white asparagus tips

Dry the chicken, season with salt and pepper. Heat a braising pan, small Dutch oven or a heavy pot, melt the butter over medium heat and fry the chicken until only lightly coloured and not browned on all sides. Toss the diced soup vegetables a little in the butter without browning, then add the aromatics (herbs, lemon peel, pepper) & finally pour in the water. Cover with a lid and leave to cook for about 1½ hours, turning the chicken from time to time. Leave to cool and take the meat of the bones and tear it into bite sized pieces: either wait until you are able to touch the chicken or leave for a few hours or overnight until needed, then tear the meat of accordingly. Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve and reserve.

Make a light roux with shallot: melt the butter, sweat the shallot until translucent, sprinkle with flour and leave to roast (not brown!) for a moment, add the liquid in small instalments. To avoid a lumpy sauce add only a little broth at a time, whisking constantly until the mass is smooth again, add more broth and whisk again until smooth again, repeat with increasing amounts of liquid, stirring constantly. Pour in a good lug or a small glass of white wine and continue to cook a few minutes more to allow the roux to thicken the sauce slightly. Add the chicken meat, capers (to taste, I like a lot, some people prefer less), cream and season with lemon juice, salt & pepper. My grandmother used an egg yolk to enrich & thicken the sauce a little more. Traditionally slices of snow-white champignons or equally tender white asparagus tips are added to the chicken fricassee (mushrooms sautéed in butter without taking colour, thin asparagus tips cooked for 4-5 minutes in salted water with a pinch of sugar added), a vision in pale cream flecked with dark green capers. We eat this with white basmati rice and cooked green peas.


Hühnerfrikassée

für 6-8 Personen

1 gutes Suppenhuhn
Salz
2 EL Butter
1 Zwiebel
Suppengrün oder –gemüse: 1 große Möhre, 1 große Scheibe oder ¼ Knolle Sellerieknolle, 1 Stange Lauch, 1 Petersilienwurzel, 1 gelbe Rübe, 1 Zweig Petersilie & Liebstöckel => Gemüse würfeln, Kräuter ganz lassen
Zitronenschale oder dicke Scheibe einer ganzen Zitrone Bio, versteht sich)
Basilikum
einige schwarze Pfefferkörner
½ – ¾ Liter Wasser

30g Butter
1 Schalotte, fein gewürfelt
2 gehäufte EL (30g) Mehl
½ Liter Hühnerbrühe (wenn es nicht reicht, macht nichts oder einfach mit ein wenig Wasser aufstocken)
trockener Weißwein (ca. ein kleines Glas)
kleine Kapern in Lake (nach Geschmack)
90ml oder 6 EL Sahne
Zitronensaft
Salz & weißer Pfeffer
(optional: 1 Eigelb zum legieren der Sauce)
optional: weiße Champignons in Scheiben geschnitten oder weiße Spargelspitzen

Huhn abtrocknen, salzen und pfeffern und in einem Schmortopf (mit Deckel) in Butter bei mäßiger Hitze von allen Seiten leicht anbraten bis das Huhn Farbe annimmt, aber nicht bräunt. Das klein geschnittene Suppengemüse hinzugeben und ebenfalls in der Butter anschwitzen, dann die Kräutern, Zitronenschale & Pfefferkörner hinzugeben, anschließend mit Wasser begießen. Den Deckel auflegen und ca. 1 ½ Stunden köcheln lasse, das Huhn von Zeit zu Zeit wenden. Huhn abkühlen lassen, dann das Fleisch von den Knochen pflücken und in kleine Stücke zerteilen: entweder direkt nach dem Kochen, ein paar Stunden oder einen Tag später. Für eine schnelle Version kann man auch Reste von einem gebratenen Hühnchen verwenden – solange es nicht zu trocken ist. Die Brühe durch ein feines Sieb seihen und für die Sauce verwahren.

 

Für die Sauce eine Mehlschwitze mit der Schalotte herstellen: die Butter schmelzen und die Schalottenwürfel darin glasig werden lassen (nicht bräunen), dann das Mehl hinzugeben und anschwitzen. Die Flüssigkeit zuerst in geringer Menge hinzugeben, mit einem Schneebesen oder Holzlöffel rühren bis wieder eine glatte Masse entsteht, immer wieder unter ständigem Rühren etwas (später mehr) Flüssigkeit hinzu gießen bis schlussendlich eine glatte Sauce ohne Klümpchen entsteht. Einen guten Schuß (oder ein kleines Glas) Weißwein hineingeben und wenige Minuten weiter kochen lassen bis die Sauce durch die Roux dicklich geworden ist. Hühnerfleisch, Kapern (nach Geschmack: ich liebe Kapern, also nehme ich ein kleines Gläschen), Sahne einrühren und das Frikassée mit Zitronensaft, Salz & Pfeffer abschmecken. Meine Oma hat ihr Hühnerfrikassée noch mit einem Eigelb legiert (einrühren und nicht mehr zu heiß werden lassen), traditionell werden auch noch entweder in Scheiben geschnittene weiße Champignons (in Butter geschwenkt) oder zarte weiße gekochte Spargelspitzen hinzugefügt: eine Symphony in creme mit kleinen olivfarbenen Kapern. Wir essen dies meist ohne Pilze oder Spargel, aber mit weißem Basmatireis und grünen Erbsen.

Reibekuchen & Apfelmus

Opa Martin’s Reibekuchen & Apfelmus – My grandfather’s German latkes & chunky apple sauce. Rezept auf Deutsch unten.

Savoury German potato latkes or Reibekuchen are served either sprinkled with caster sugar or with dollops of a chunky stewed apple compote called Apfelkompott or if of finer consistency: Apfelmus (apple sauce). My grandfather Martin used to cook them for me when I returned from Kindergarten and I have not had them for decades (what a shame). Thanks to this the Reibekuchen-abstinence ended today.

Most households have a special mesh grater for this (quite similar to the implement used to strip excess paint of your roller) but a coarse box grater does the trick if you forgot to pinch it from your Mum’s kitchen like I did. Of course, latkes, are part of many European cuisines and a Jewish holiday staple.  Add a slice or two of crispy fried black pudding for a variation of Heaven & Earth, another sweet & salty classic German dish.

Apfelmus / chunky applesauce
makes 1 jar

5 smallish apples, about 600g or 21 oz (any apples are fine, I prefer a sweeter, fragrant & old-fashioned variety for sentimental reasons of course)
2 tablespoons sugar
lemon juice
water

Quarter, peel & core the apples, then chop into rough chunks. Put the apple pieces along with the sugar, a little lemon juice (to taste) and a splash of water into a small saucepan. Cover with a lid and soften the apples over a medium flame for about 10 minutes. Stir from time to time to avoid the sugary apples catching on the bottom of the pan and see if the apples are soft enough to be squashed with a wooden spoon into a chunky puree which is the consistency we are aiming for. Leave to cool.

Reibekuchen:
for 8 medium Reibekuchen

600g (21 oz) potatoes, peeled
1 small onion
2 tablespoons flour
2 medium eggs
salt
Butterschmalz (clarified butter) or vegetable oil for frying

Grate the potatoes on a mesh potato rasp or a coarse grater and squeeze to extract most of the starchy liquid with a tea towel or a muslin. Add the finely grated onion along with the flour and eggs to the potato shreds, season generously with salt and stir to combine.

Heat the clarified butter or oil in a frying pan and carefully drop heaped spoonfuls of the mixture into the hot fat. Press the latkes down a little and fry on both sides until crisp and golden brown. Place the piping hot Kartoffelpuffer (other name, same thing) onto a kitchen roll / paper towel to remove any extra fat or grease. Serve hot either sprinkled with caster sugar (a favourite) or with dollops of Apfelmus or Apfelkompott (my favourite, in case you did not notice) and for a complete lunch with fried black pudding.

Rezepte auf Deutsch: Reibekuchen oder Kartoffelpuffer mit Apfelmus

Apfelmus
für ein Glas

5 kleinere Äpfel, ca. 600g (besonders gut schmeckt mir hier eine alte Apfelsorte, die süßer & duftend ist, es muß auch nicht unbedingt eine Sorte zum Kochen sein)
2 EL Zucker
Zitronensaft
Wasser

Die Äpfel vierteln, schälen und das Kerngehäuse entfernen, dann in Stückchen schneiden. Diese zusammen mit dem Zucker, etwas Zitronensaft und Wasser in einen kleinen Topf geben, mit einem Deckel verschließen und bei schwacher Hitze die Äpfel zerfallen lassen. Von Zeit zu Zeit umrühren, damit nichts am Topfboden anhaftet. Nach ca. 10 Minuten mit einem Holzlöffel die meisten weichen Apfelstückchen am Topfrand zu Mus quetschen. Abkühlen lassen.

Reibekuchen oder Kartoffelpuffer
für ca. 8 mittlere Reibekuchen

600g Kartoffeln, geschält
1 kleine Zwiebel
2 EL Mehl
2 mittlere Eier
Salz
Butterschmalz oder Öl zum Braten

Die Kartoffeln auf einer Kartoffelreibe reiben oder falls man seine nicht aus Mamas Küche stibitzt hat geht auch eine grobe Reibe. Anschließend die Kartoffelschnitze in einem trockenen Tuch ausdrücken. Mit der fein geriebenen Zwiebel, dem Mehl, den Eiern und einer großzügigen Portion Salz vermischen. Das Butterschmalz in einer Pfanne auf großer Flamme erhitzen und pro Reibekuchen einen großen gehäuften Löffel Kartoffelmasse in das heiße Fett geben. Leicht flachdrücken und auf beiden Seiten goldenbraun braten.

Die Kartoffelpuffer entweder ganz einfach mit Zucker bestreut servieren (sehr lecker) oder mit einem großen Klecks Apfelmus verspeisen (noch leckerer). Man kann aber auch zwei Scheibchen Blutwurst braten und hat damit eine Variante von Himmel & Erde .

salmon fish cakes

salmon fish cakes by the james kitchen
salmon fish cakes, a photo by the james kitchen on Flickr.

Make leftovers for Fish cakes. As I said before, we always use any leftover white fish or salmon for fish cakes and you should plan an extra portion for some to be made for supper or freezing during the next 5 days. They can be easily frozen for an instant and hardly-any-work lunch supper, too and are absolutely delicious. This salmon-dill version with mustard and a little cheddar (you can leave the cheese out without any problems) which we made a few weeks ago is a great one.

Salmon-dill fish cakes
makes 4 servings

200g (7 oz) salmon, steamed or baked (best to make one extra portion of saumon en papillote for this)
about 150g (a little more than 5 oz) potatoes, mashed
chopped fresh dill (to taste)
1 tablespoon coarse Dijon mustard
1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon English mustard powder (Coleman’s)
1 pinch paprika
salt & white pepper
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon plain flour
a handful of coarsely grated cheddar
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk (half of this for the fish cakes, the other half for dredging)
flour
breadcrumbs
oil

Carefully break the salmon into pieces, do not mash them up totally. Press the potatoes through a ricer (or use mashed potatoes) and add along with the dill, mustards, mustard powder, paprika, salt & pepper, breadcrumbs, flour, cheddar and half of the beaten egg & milk. Mix all together until combined, form little cakes about the size of small apricots and flatten them a little bit. Place on a sheet and let them rest for about 10-30 minutes in the fridge while you clear up and prepare the dredging station. Turn each fish cake in the flour, then the egg and lastly in the breadcrumbs. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the cakes for about 5 minutes over medium heat and about 2 on the other side. Serve with a crispy salad and a yoghurt-mustard dressing and more dill. Pickled gherkins or cucumbers, too.

To freeze: make the cakes up to the point where they are covered in flour and place the naked but floured cakes in a single layer on a sheet, cover with cling film (plastic/ceran wrap) and freeze individually so that they do not cling together, afterwards they can be placed in a freezer bag.

Cook from frozen: Take as many out as you need for dinner, preheat the oven to 120°C (250°F), dust the frozen cakes with a little more flour, dredge in an egg mixed with the milk (obviously you will need a new egg here) and breadcrumbs and fry these in a skillet with a little oil over medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side to a light brown colour. Place on a baking sheet covered in parchment or kitchen roll (kitchen towel) to absorb some of the surplus oil and warm for 20-30 minutes, turning the cakes over once. Leaving them in a little longer if you need to is not a problem.