Cumin-chile lamb skewers with lemon yoghurt

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We ate those gorgeous spiced lamb skewers since they were on the cover of Bon Appétit’s Grilling Issue basically all through summer and haven’t stopped since. Why not, caraway & cumin are as much winter players as summer spices and their warm tones are welcome in cooler weather, just as heat & floral notes are provided by Sichuan, Aleppo and black pepper. Most importantly if you have two hurricanes, ahem babies, playing havoc with longwinded supper plans: they are super easy to prepare and quick to make (if you have your butcher debone and cut the lamb shoulder, of course, which you definitely should) and reward you with an explosion of flavour that revives the taste buds after a long, long day. Continue reading

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Baked plum porridge

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As the days get shorter I am so happy to switch to a warm breakfast again and even since I did not grow up eating porridge (or Haferbrei as the German equivalent is called) I am a total porridge-freak. I prefer a very simple, near ascetic version of oats cooked in water and some salt and not too smooth mind you, I’ve got all my teeth – but then I top it with blueberries and a little golden syrup. Bliss. Of course, on the weekend a more glamorous breakfast is called for: bring on the baked porridge / oatmeal, a concept totally new to me but I am a convert if you need a healthy and yummy breakfast dish for a few weekend guests or a stress-less brunch.

Lusciously juicy red plums not only lend their marvellous purple-pinkish and yellow colour to this baked porridge but I think their taste is transformed from a sometimes rather watery fruit to a real sweet & warm plummy plum. Add the almond studded delicately maple-sweet oatmeal with the slight tartness of the kefir, a fermented thickened milk, and a hint of lemon for a great, great breakfast dish that could please a crowd for brunch as well as just two. Continue reading

summer holiday clams (with linguine)

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Despite being back for a few weeks (wow, really?) I am still in holiday mode & mood and clinging (like a limpet) to the serenity of lazy days lounging on deck chairs with endless glasses of nice Burgundian whites – hence the … ‘crickets’. To me, nothing says summer & summer holidays more than clams, especially if they are called palourdes or vongole and are brought by a friendly waiter to a table overlooking the Mediterranean Sea or … maybe the Venetian lagoon. But at home they taste just as good tossed with barely melted ripe tomatoes, herbs, garlic and a mountain of linguine. Continue reading

Oregano bucatini with tomatoes

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There are days when I feel uninspired, sluggish and my normally sunny disposition tends to be more on the grumpy side. I want to have good food (fast), something delicious and healthy without a lot of pottering around. So, please do not ask me to make ‘something simple’ (without naming one ‘simple dish’ or offering specific suggestions) or let me start the huge complicated dinner project originally planned for that evening – better not ask me anything if you value your life since this state is quickly followed by a hefty side of hangry-ness. Generally carbs, pasta in particular, are a like a St. Bernard for me and these wonderfully aromatic herby, silky, satisfying oregano & tomato bucatini are about the fastest cure for anything Continue reading

Lamb tagine with black garlic

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Black garlic is a real discovery for me. The cloves are slowly cooked or baked for ages until they have transformed into fudge-like black (garlic) truffels with just a faint hint of garlic (and no smell afterwards for those how might wonder). These mellow nuggets add an incredible depth of flavour to any dish and I am quite prepared to say that they are quintessential umami – albeit inflationary overuse of the term. If the gorgeous organic Spanish black garlic cloves (I am getting them at the Frankfurt Kleinmarkthalle) weren’t on the dear side, I’d eat them like bonbons. But, you’d better get some soon: the run might have already started since they feature as well in a few recipes in Ottolenghi’s new cookbook. Continue reading

Mirabelle & hazelnut cake

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Find the German translation (recipe) below / Rezept auf Deutsch am Ende

 

Wonderful Mirabelle are this cake’s salient feature, they shine like jewels half-sunken in their vanilla & hazelnut batter bed. It is a rustic cake and has a homemade, informal appearance, something that is made with love when you’ll come to visit for a slice of cake and a steaming mug of tea when supposedly summery days get darker and colder and rainier (buckets, cats & dogs & elephants by the look of it) than one beliefs a day in August could or should be.

Mirabelle & hazelnut cake

There is a minimum amount of work involved here since all ingredients are blitzed together in the food processor (which makes this a one-bowl-cake) and the resulting dough is more a batter that gets decanted into the cake tin. The hard bit is a bit of Mirabelle work, I mean keeping the resolve not to pop every second or third one for a “taste test”. Continue reading

rhubarb sheet cake

Soooo, I don’t know about you but we needed to catch up on sunshine, lounging on deck chairs & sipping cocktails and believe me, after one of these there is no way to write a straight sentence. What ever weather the weekend will bring, let there be cake:

rhubarb sheet cake

Pink rhubarb tumbled on top of a buttery vanilla cake batter and sprinkled with sugar to caramelize make for a wonderfully simple & tasty rhubarb sheet cake. It provides an ideal treatment for the sharp rhubarb of the early season – just admonish a little more sugar to mellow the astringency or counter the tartness with sweet whipped cream with vanilla (yum). This sheet cake is quickly thrown together and great fare for a gathering of friends & family at the weekend and it travels well for a picnic outside. If you have a beach close by, have fun – I am jealous. Extra bonus points for freezing well, too: I have just packed a few slices into the freezer for a rainy day, the in-laws upcoming visit or when a neighbour drops in around 4 o’ clock for a cup of coffee & a piece of cake.

rhubarb sheet cake

This is a proper Grandmother-approved-recipe (my cousin got it from a former fiancé’s Grandma), very well & thoroughly tested every year by my cousin & me with the tartest & pinkest of rhubarb your Mum sends you over… and it is my favourite rhubarb cake. The batter is basically the mixture for a quattre-quarts or pound cake, spread onto a baking sheet, covered with a lot of rhubarb pieces who in turn will sink into the batter and transform into pockets of tart rhubarb throughout the sweet cake. It may seem that there is ways too much “fruit” (actually rhubarb is a vegetable) to be arranged in a neat & orderly fashion or for it to even fit onto the sheet & that this greedy amount might turn the cake soggy. None of the sort will happen but you should bake the cake for (most of) the allocated time. If a corner or the outer edges turn brown or even darker, just remember that they can easily be trimmed – all in the name of cake square perfection, of course.

Deutsches Rezept am Ende!

 


 

Rhubarb sheet cake

makes 16 pieces

Note on pan sizes & material: this recipe is geared towards a European-sized deep & heavy metal baking sheet called a Fettpfanne in the oven manual (31 x 38 x 3cm). Use ¾ of the recipe for slightly smaller American baking sheets or use a 10 x 13 inch pan, a smaller one will result in a somewhat thicker cake layer which is not necessarily a bad thing though might influence the baking time. I am not sure about other materials: the cake might work in a glas dish and you’ll have a chance to check the bottom though I would not try a ceramic dish.

250g (8.8oz; a little more than 2 sticks) butter, unsalted & soft
250g (8.8oz) sugar (165g + 85g)
250g (8.8oz) plain flour
4 eggs, separated
7.5g or 1.5 tsp baking powder (1/2 packet)
Vanilla essence or 2 heaped tablespoons of vanilla sugar
7 rhubarb sticks, cut into 1 inch pieces (roughly 900g or 2 lbs)
sugar (2-3 tablespoons)

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F & line a sheet with baking parchment.
Cream butter and 2/3 of the sugar (165g), incorporate the egg yolks and quickly stir in the sifted flour & baking powder. Beat the egg whites together with the last 1/3 of the sugar (85g) until they form stiff peaks, fold into the dough: stir in first only a little amount to loosen the mass, then swiftly fold in with only a few movements.
Spread the batter onto your chosen baking sheet or into pans, loose cover the top with the rhubarb pieces and sprinkle with sugar (roughly 2 tablespoons, to taste). Bake for 40 minutes (turn the sheet around after half-time) in the middle of the oven until golden brown. Cool and trim (extra) brown edges or sides before serving.

 

Rhabarberkuchen

Für 16 Stücke

250g weiche Butter
250g Zucker (165 + 85g)
250g Mehl
4 Eier, getrennt
½ Paket Backpulver (7g)
Vanillezucker (2 EL oder 2 Pakete) oder Vanille-Essenz (auf keinen Fall Aroma oder künstliches Zeug)
7 Stangen Rhabarber (ca. 900g), in 2-3cm große Stücke geschnitten
Zucker (2-3 EL)

Den Backofen auf 200°C vorheizen (180°C Umluft) und ein tiefes Backblech oder die Fettpfanne mit Backpapier auskleiden.
Die Butter schaumig rühren, dann zwei Drittel des Zuckers + Vanillezucker oder Vanille Essenz hinzugeben und nach und nach die Eigelbe unterrühren. Mehl zusammen mit dem Backpulver vermischen und über den Teig sieben, nur noch kurz verrühren bis ein Teig entstanden ist. Eiweiße mit dem letzten Drittel Zucker steif schlagen und vorsichtig unterheben. Dünn auf dem Bleck ausstreichen und mit den in Stücken geschnittenen Rhabarber belegen und anschließend mit Zucker bestreuen. In der Mitte des Backofens für ca. 40 Minuten backen, eventuell nach der Hälfte der Zeit das Blech umdrehen (wenn an einer Seite oder einer Ecke weniger Teig ist und diese dunkler oder sehr dunkel werden: einfach hinterher beschneiden), dann auskühlen lassen und aufteilen.