French-style Steamed Mussels

After my last attempt to cook mussels was a big failure as I mistook the 2 TS of peppercorns for ground pepper (…), this time I chose a recipe that doesn’t require any pepper at all and it turned out perfectly. I think I don’t want to eat anything else but mussels until Christmas.

It’s also a shame that oysters are so expensive in Germany.

Woodhouse Fish Co. San Francisco
Weird Fish San Francisco
Icelandic Fish and Chips Reykjavík

French-style Steamed Mussels
serves 2

mussels

Ingredients:

3 TS olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, grated
1kg mussels
240ml dry white wine
120ml cream (I used soy milk light which worked fine, too)
3 TS butter or vegetable margarine
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
salt to taste
Serve with baguette or rustic bread

Directions:

1. Wash the mussels under cold running water and throw away the ones that are already open.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot, add the onions and garlic and cook until golden, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the mussels, wine, cream/milk, butter/margarine, parsley and salt and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for about 15 minutes until the mussels have opened (throw away the ones that haven’t opened).

4. Transfer the mussels into deep plates and the liquid into a bowl for dipping the bread.

(As there was so much liquid left, I let cool the remainings and put them in the freezer for later use in a soup, sauce or dip.)

Christmas Baking

We’re early birdies this year (with my flatmate Gesa):

Bethmännchen
(makes 30-40 cookies)

Ingredients:

110g whole almonds, peeled and cut into halves
110g almond meal
200g marzipan paste, crumbled
1 TS rose water
100g confectioner’s sugar
1 egg
50g flour
1 egg yolk for coating

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 175°C.

2. In a mixing bowl combine the crumbled marzipan paste, rose water, confectioner’s sugar, egg, almond meal and flour until well-combined and smooth.

3. From the dough shape small balls of the size of walnuts and press three almond halves into the upper, left and right side of each ball. Cover with the egg yolk and bake on a prepared baking sheet on the middle rack for about 15 minutes until golden.

 

Vanillekipferl
(makes about 40 cookies)

Ingredients:

50g almond meal
50g hazelnut meal
280g flour, sifted
70g raw cane sugar
1 pinch of salt
200g butter or vegetable margarine, cold
2 egg yolks
5 pckg. vanilla sugar
½ cup confectioner’s sugar

Directions:

1. In a mixing bowl, mix the sifted flour, almond and hazelnut meal, sugar, salt, butter/margarine and egg yolks and knead until well-combined. Wrap in foil and let rest in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.

2. Preheat the oven to 190°C.

3. From the dough shape small crescents of about 4 cm in length and bake on a prepared baking sheet on the middle rack for about 10 minutes until golden.

4. Mix the vanilla sugar and confectioner’s sugar und spread on a plate. Carefully turn each cookie in the mixture to cover.

 

Engelsaugen
(makes about 40 cookies)

Ingredients:

240g flour
150g butter/vegetable margarine
2 egg yolks
70g confectioner’s sugar and a bit more for dusting
2 ts vanilla sugar
zest of one organic lemon
1 pinch of salt
raspberry, black currant or blueberry jam (or whatever jam you prefer)

Directions:

1. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except for the jam and knead with your hand mixer (dough hook) until well-combined and smooth. Wrap the dough in foil and let rest in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.

2. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

3. With a teaspoon shape little balls from the dough and with your thumb, make little holes in the middle of the balls, being careful not to press all the way down to the bottom. With a small spoon, carefully fill the jam into the holes.

4. Bake on a prepared baking sheet on the middle rack for about 10-15 minutes.

5. Let the cookies cool and dust with the remaining confectioner’s sugar.

 

Albert Cookies
(makes about 40 cookies)

Ingredients:
250g flour
125g corn starch
1ts baking powder
125g sugar
1 pckg. vanille sugar
2 eggs
125g butter or vegetable margarine

Directions:

1. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and knead until well-combined and smooth. Wrap the dough in foil and let rest in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

3. Roll out the dough on a clean surface dusted with flour and cut out cookies with cookie cutters.

4. Carefully transfer the cookies on a prepared baking sheet and bake on the middle rack for about 10 minutes until golden.

5. Let the cookies cool completely and decorate with colored icing, glitter etc.

 

Orangey Chocolate Christmas Cookies
(makes about 25-30 cookies)

Ingredients and Directions:
101 cookbooks
I replaced the peppermint extract with orange zest, orange juice and cinnamon.

 

Spice Biscuits
(makes about 25 cookies)

Ingredients and Directions:
Jerusalem: A Cookbook
As I didn’t find any candied citrus in the supermarket, I peeled an organic orange with a julienne shaver, covered the peel in sugar and baked in the oven on the middle rack at 200°C for 5 minutes.

 

Busy November / Foodie Pen Pals October

November has been the busiest month of the year so far: Plenty of concerts, theater, cinema, exhibitions. I love being busy with all these things, but they also keep me from being online. Hence the silence.
Early in November I received my FPP package for October from Sarah over at Food Mag. She chose such lovely items: Chocolate and flower cake decoration, gluten-free macaroons, vanilla-spiced chai and smoked Cornish sea salt. I absolutely loved everything, especially the smoked Cornish sea salt. Thank you again, Sarah!

In order to make up for the long silence, you’ll find two recipes and a couple of links to things I loved this month below.

There’s going to be a Secret Santa Party at a friend’s house tomorrow and apart from bringing your present, everyone was assigned to bring some food, too. I decided to bring a pasta and pumpkin salad that’s really yummy and also really easy to prepare (as in the picture above, the pesto’s still missing though – going to be added tomorrow):

Pasta and Pumpkin Salad with Pistachio Pesto
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

Salad:
1 butternut squash, peeled seeded and cut into small dice
2 TS olive oil
2 ts paprika, ground
1 ts sea salt
a bit of freshly grated nutmeg
250-300g pasta of your choice
2 handfuls chopped baby spinach

Pesto:
2 small cloves garlic
zest and juice of one organic lemon
100g toasted, unsalted pistachio nuts and/or pine nuts
chili, ground, to taste
6 TS freshly minced parsley, cilantro and/or basil
6 TS grated pecorino
150 ml olive oil
a few pinches of salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 230ºC. Spread the cut squash on a prepared baking sheet, sprinkle with olive oil, paprika, salt and nutmeg and toss well to combine. Bake on the middle rack for about 20 minutes.

2. Cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the package.

3. In a food processor, blend the garlic, lemon juice and zest until creamy, add the pistachios and pine nuts, herbs, pecorino and olive oil and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. In a salad bowl carefully mix the pasta with the spinach, the squash and the pesto, let cool and serve garnished with additional parsley and pecorino.

The following recipe is not autumnal or winterly at all, but I felt like I needed to use up my lemons:

Lemon Tart  (as in the picture above)
for one 26cm spring form
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

Crust:
1 crust as in this recipe

Filling:
1 organic lemon, rinsed and dried
300g raw cane sugar
115g butter or vegetable margarine
4 large or 5 medium eggs
2 TS cornstarch
1/4 ts salt

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 165ºC. Prepare the crust as described in the link and pre-bake for about 15 minutes (If you don’t want the crust to grow too much, fill it with raw lentils or beans and remove them before adding the lemon filling).

2. Cut the lemon into very thin slices and remove the seeds.

3. Transfer the lemon slices into a food processor together with the sugar and butter/vegetable margarine and blend until smooth.

4. Add the cornstarch, eggs and salt and blend until well-combined.

5. Pour the filling into the prepared crust and bake in the oven on the middle rack for about 40 minutes until well set. Let cool completely before unmolding the spring form. If you wish, you can sprinkle the tart with confectioner’s sugar.

Andreas Gursky at Museum Kunstpalast Düsseldorf
Theater “Der Keller Köln”
Michael Haneke’s “Amour”
Xiu Xiu live at Odeon Köln
Leipziger Baumwollspinnerei
DOK Festival Leipzig
Wild Nothing “Paradise”
Imbiss Hotel Seeblick Leipzig
Jonathan Franzen “The Corrections”

Goaty Pumpkin and Potato Gratin and Mâche with Pomegranate

After a long walk along the Rhine collecting items for home decoration (I’ve just recently fallen in love with Apartment Therapy), I came home to prepare a hokkaido for yet another pumpkin cake I plan to bake next week and since an entire hokkaido is way too much for one cake, I made a pumpkin and potato gratin with 1/4 of the hokkaido and what other ingredients I had left at home.

 
 
 
Goaty Pumpkin and Potato Gratin
(serves 2-3)

Ingredients:

8 small red potatoes, roughly sliced (I used Franceline)
250g hokkaido, cubed
3 TS olive oil
2 TS fresh or dried sage
2 TS sunflower seeds
2 TS butter or vegetable margarine
2 TS flour
250ml goat’s milk
1 ts instant vegetable broth (glutamate- and yeast-free)
1 small clove of garlic, grated
salt
freshly ground pepper
nutmeg, ground
100g goat’s milk feta cheese crumbles
2 TS Pecorino cheese, grated
1 slice toast or other white bread, crumbled

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 230°C.

2. Spread the cut potatoes and hokkaido separately on a prepared baking sheet, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper and toss to combine. Bake on the middle rack for about 25 minutes until lightly roasted.

3. Meanwhile, melt the butter or margarine in a pot, stir in the flour and let turn lightly golden. Add the goat’s milk and bring to boil while stirring with an eggbeater in order to avoid the formation of lumps. Turn down the heat when the milk starts to boil, keep on stirring while adding the instant broth and garlic. The mixture should turn into a béchamel-like sauce. Set aside and season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg (remember that the feta will also add salt to the gratin).

4. Remove the pumpkin and potatoes from the oven and turn down the heat to 190°C. First, transfer the pumpkin into a prepared baking dish, creating an even layer. Sprinkle with the sage and sunflower seeds. Add the potatoes, creating another even layer.

5. Pour the goat’s milk sauce over the potatoes evenly and garnish with feta, bread crumbs and pecorino.

6. Bake the gratin in the oven for about 20-30 minutes until brown and crisp on top.

 

Mâche with Pomegranate, Dates and Bacon
(serves 2)
This actually is my wonderful flatmate Gesa’s creation.

Ingredients:

2-3 hands full of mâche
3 TS pitted dates, sliced
kernels from 1/2 pomegranate
2 TS lean bacon, small dices
3 TS olive oil
1 1/2 TS balsamico di Modena
1 ts Dijon mustard
1 ts honey
salt
freshly ground pepper

Directions:

1. For the vinaigrette, mix the olive oil, balsamic, mustard and honey in a small bowl, season to taste with salt and pepper and stir well to combine.

2. Put the mâche, dates, pomegranate and bacon in a bowl, add the vinaigrette and toss carefully to combine.
 

 

Pasta Aglio Olio, Matryoshkas and a New Cookbook

I’ve been baking and cooking according to American recipes for some time now and what always bothered me a little was the converting. A cup of flour for example is not the same in grams as a cup of beans, thus the converting had to be done for every new ingredient and this was quite time-consuming, especially since ingredients like pumpkin purée don’t appear in common converting charts. Luckily, my converting was always correct and everything turned out well, however, it was finally time for me to get some measuring cups. So I ordered the matryoshka ones in the image below and they’re wonderful! They measure everything from 1 cup to 1/4 cup and even look pretty in the kitchen dresser. Along with these cups I ordered Béatrice Peltre’s “La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes for an Inspired Life“ (La Tartine Gourmande). This book is just amazing, the perfect addition to my cookbook shelf. It contains so many beautiful photographs taken by the author herself, great recipes and tipps for the kitchen. I can’t wait to get started on all the recipes I’ve already marked.

 

Pasta Aglio Olio
(serves 2)

Sometimes, the most basic recipes are the best. Pasta Aglio Olio is easy and quick to prepare, the only thing that really needs to be paid attention to is that the pasta has to be cooked al dente and not a minute longer and only fresh and good quality ingredients are used. This should always be the case, but it’s especially important in dishes that consist of only a few ingredients and no heavy sauce that might compensate for soggy pasta or dried herbs.

Ingredients:

250g pasta of your choice
4-5 TS good quality olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, minced or grated
1 handfull of dried tomatoes (not those in oil), chopped
Piri piri
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
3 TS shaved Pecorino or Parmesan
3 TS minced fresh parsley

Directions:

1. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, be careful not to over-cook them.

2. Heat the olive oil in a pan, add the garlic and reduce the heat, being careful that the garlic doesn’t scorch. It may only turn golden.

3. Add the tomatoes and fry on low heat for about 3 minutes.

4. Drain the pasta in a sieve and add to the pan. Mix well and season to taste with piri piri, salt and pepper.

5. Serve the pasta on two plates and garnish with the shaved Pecorino or Parmesan and minced parsley.

Pumpkin Pie

It is pumpkin time and regionally cultivated pumpkins will be available at low prices until February. Hence, there is an excessive use of pupmkin in my kitchen at the moment. My favourite pumpkin to use is hokkaido as its skin is edible – it becomes soft when cooked or baked so it’s really easy to prepare. I used hokkaido for the recipe below, but I am definitely going to try butternut squash soon, too.

Pumpkin Pie
(adapted from 101 cookbooks)

Ingredients:

Crust:
250g all purpose flour
125g butter or vegetable margarine
125g raw cane sugar
1 package vanilla sugar
1 egg
1 ts baking powder

Filling:
340g ground hazelnuts
2 TS hazelnut oil or other neutral oil
150g raw cane sugar
1 ½ TS ground cinnamon
¾ ts ground allspice
½ ts ground cloves (you might want to use less, I thought the pie tasted a bit too much of cloves)
1 ½ ground ginger
1 ts salt
1 TS cornstarch
600g roasted hokkaido purée (cube, salt and pepper, roast in oven 25 minutes at 230°C, purée)
1 ts vanilla extract
3 large eggs
237 ml coconut milk

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2. For the crust mix all ingredients in a bowl and fold until well combined. Place the dough on the bottom and around the edges of a prepared spring form (26 cm) and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Carefully roast the ground hazelnuts in a pan until lightly brown and fragrant. Stir in the hazelnut oil into 300g of the nuts until they turn into a creamy paste. Set aside.

4. In a bowl whisk together the sugar, spices and starch. First stir in the pumpkin purée and vanilla, then the eggs and coconut milk until well combined.

5. Get the spring form from the refrigerator and with a fork prick a couple of holes in the dough on the bottom of the form. Fill in the hazelnut paste and smooth out with a spoon or knife.

6. Fill in the pumpkin purée and smooth out, too.

7. Transfer the pie into the oven and let bake on the middle rack for about 50 minutes. The filling should be set, only the center may jiggle a little.

8. Let the pie cool completely, this will make cutting it easier.

9. Serve with cinnamon cream and sprinkle with the remaining ground hazelnuts.

 
And also:



Beirut – Un dernier verre (Pour la route)

La Dolce Vita a Roma

Shame on me: I had never been to Italy until last weekend. I love food, I love wine and I love languages so Italy would have always been the perfect place for me to go. Luckily, a friend of me asked me to come to Rome with her and the city, the people, the atmosphere, the weather were just wonderful. A perfect trip. A presto, Italia!

Aperitivo and best Tiramisù
Galleria Borghese
Campo De’ Fiori Market
Best Ice Cream at Gelateria Fassi
Handmade Leather Purses from Artigianino
Party (Crazy Daisy)
Restaurant and Lounge Ketumbar

Martini Fragoli

Ingredients:
(serves 1)

15 ml Wild Strawberry Liqueur
75 ml Vodka
2 Ice Cubes

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a glass and enjoy!