Kimchi

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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

Zucchini pickles

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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

Gewürzgurken – German pickled cucumbers

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Market stalls in Germany are brimming with pickling cucumbers and bunches of stunningly fragrant dill flowers in summer to make the traditional Gewürzgurken, German dill & spice pickled cucumbers. If you have never tried them, you definitely should. Less sharp than cornichons but with an equally pleasant crunch and a soft interior, their balanced aromatic notes are perfect company to cold cuts, fish, anything smoked or cured, paté, cheese, well, the list is endless.

I love the complex dill flavours the cucumbers absorb from dried dill, seeds and the wonderful fragrant (and very pretty) dill flowers and it is hard to find comparable examples outside of Europe. These pickles are smaller than their American cousins but bigger than cornichons or gherkins and have a decidedly mellower vinegar flavour than all of those who punch high in the acid class without being sweet as bread-and-butter pickles and the like. 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

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

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

Habanero salsa – liquid sunshine

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At the beginning of January, I have a craving for bright food with bold flavours, hot red, uplifting orange & yellow colours, food that is fiery and warming – basically simulating sunshine when the days are dark and dank. Oranges*, lemons, persimmons, peppers, pomegranates, chillies – all seem to brighten the mood and tickle the taste buds. This is especially true for chiles habaneros, little orange lampions or lanterns, which have a pleasant flowery, fruity flavour and are as hot as the sun. So, a habanero salsa is quite literally liquid sunshine.

We pour it on anything and everything, tacos, especially fish tacos, Continue reading