Spring onion tart with wild green garlic

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I always have spare bits of pastry dough in the freezer from when I make some for a smaller tart or when plans change and many days they have been supper savers or made light work of a quick fruit tart for dessert. If you’ll do the same you know what I am talking about: making pastry is not exactly hard labour but sometimes it seems that way. Then you are really glad to have homemade frozen short crust at your finger tips. Just remember that labelling helps is really essential when you do not want to end up with savoury filling in a sweet dough.

Spring brings us again the bounty of fresh vegetables, delicious rich eggs and cream and about time to! There is fragrant Bärlauch (wild green garlic leaves) again and wonderful fresh spring onions, both perfect for a tart to celebrate the beginning of spring. They may seem simple, almost humble ingredients, though the result is a more than impressive. Feel free to glam it up with asparagus, morels etc. which I am not averse to but please try this simple version out first, it is worth it. Continue reading

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

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

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

Potato salad with cucumber

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Over the years, my Mum’s second potato salad has become our first choice when potato salads are called for. Yes, we used to be a solid two-potato-salads-family (Mama’s version & my Oma’s version) but slowly we’ve upgraded to five – so I think it’s save to say we have acquired some deep knowledge about those things. Of course, there is nothing wrong with her original one, the classic German Kartoffelsalat of potatoes, pickled gherkins, onions & mayonnaise (my Grandma’s one is with raw egg yolk and nothing else should ever cross my lips where pan-fried Rotbarsch (rose fish) is served) but one day my Mother presented us with her new & improved version sans mayo but with crunchy fresh cucumbers, sharp onions and a light white wine vinaigrette. Heaven and pretty much the moment of a paradigm shift in my parent’s household concerning potato salads.

I could eat this single-handedly straight out of the bowl (and I do when no one is looking) or as a side to anything. It’s a fabulous potato salad, zingy but pleasingly mellow with a fresh sharpness & cucumber crispness to it which is exceptionally good and refreshing with pan-fried fish, Schnitzel, chicken legs, chicken wings, sausages … you get the idea 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

Green mango salad

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Can you believe it, until a few months ago I never had a proper green mango salad! A botched version once made from a fruit caught in limbo between unripe and tasteless was quite off-putting but let’s just forget the sad & sorry thing. This Thai classic is glorious, a revelation, it’s like a refreshing bath in a cold mountain pool or the ice-bucket challenge, it wakes all those slumbering taste buds and is an absolutely wonderful companion to seafood.  Continue reading