Moussaka

Next to Hummus, Moussaka must be one of the best dishes ever. The combination of eggplant, red wine, cinnamon, ground meat and béchamel sauce is just divine. As for most Mediterranean recipes, many different versions exist, the one below comes closest to the Greek one.

Moussaka
Serves 4-6

Moussaka

Ingredients:

2 eggplants
Olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
500 g ground beef or lamb
1 1/2 ts cinnamon
1 can tomatoes, diced and peeled, sieved
2 TS tomato paste
4 TS parsley, finely chopped
150 ml dry red wine
1 TS oregano
salt and pepper
3 TS gluten-free flour (or all-purpose flour)
500 ml rice, soy or cow milk
2 eggs
100 g feta, crumbled (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

2. Wash the eggplants and cut them into thin slices. Spread the slices on a prepared baking sheet, sprinkle with 3 TS of the olive oil and salt and bake on the middle rack for about 20-25 minutes until soft and roasted around the edges. (You can also fry them in a pan but I find this to take much more time and oil.)

3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 TS olive oil in a big pan and fry the onions until golden. Add the ground meat and sear for a couple of minutes. Add the cinnamon, sieved tomatoes, parsley and wine and season generously with salt and pepper. Let braise for about 15 minutes.

4. In a small pot, heat 3 TS of the olive oil. Add the flour and stir with an eggbeater until slightly browned. Add the milk and keep stirring while bringing to a boil. Let boil for a couple of seconds, then turn off the heat, not removing the pot from it. Keep on stirring until the mass thickens. Add the two eggs (and feta cheese) and stir well. Season well with salt and pepper (you will have to use more salt if you go without the feta).

5. Grease a large and shallow baking dish with some olive oil, remove the eggplant slices from the oven and add a layer to the dish. Turn down the oven heat to 180°C. Remove the meat from the heat and evenly spread across the eggplant layer in the dish. Finish with another layer of eggplant slices. Pour the béchamel sauce over the eggplant slices and let bake on the middle rack for about 45 minutes.

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Quick Tuscan Shrimp Soup

Quick Tuscan Shrimp Soup
(serves 3)

Soup_

Ingredients:

1 TS olive oil
1/2 small zucchini, finely diced
200ml fish stock (I used the remainings of the mussel fond)
100ml cream or milk (I used soy milk)
400ml sieved tomatoes
100g shrimps
10 green olives, sliced
2 ts capers
2 TS basil, chopped and more to garnish
salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat, add the zucchini and fry until lightly golden. Deglaze with the fish fond.

2. Add the sieved tomatoes, cream/milk, shrimps, olive slices, capers and basil, bring to boil and let simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes.

3. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve in deep plates with baguette and garnished with more basil.

(If you don’t have fish fond, I assume that vegetable stock + white wine (half and half) works, too, but the soup will taste less fishy. You should also add 1 garlic clove.)

 

Pomegranate, Pomegranate

Wintertime is pomegranate time. During this season, the fruit grows in Spain and Italy and markets here are flooded with it. So a couple of days ago, when I hadn’t received my copy of Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem: A Cookbook yet, I found a wonderful recipe by them (which is not included in that book though) that contains pomegranate, fennel (a winter vegetable, too) and quinoa (gluten-free). And since the pomegranate I bought was so big and I only needed half of it for the recipe, I also made a pomegranate and olive relish inspired by The Kitchn.

Jerusalem

 

Quinoa, Pomegranate and Fennel Salad
(Serves 2)

Quinoa

Ingredients:

3 TS olive oil
1 medium fennel bulb, cut lengthwise into thin slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 TS lemon juice
1/2 ts ground cumin
1/2 ts raw cane sugar
110g quinoa, rinsed to remove bittern
1/2 green chile, seeded, chopped
3 TS chopped fresh cilantro
3 TS chopped fresh mint
1/2 ts chopped fresh dill
seeds of 1/2 pomegranate

Directions:

1. Heat 2 TS of the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the fennel and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fennel is tender and lightly golden (about 10–12 minutes). Stir in the lemon juice, cumin, and sugar and cook for about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, bring the quinoa and 270ml water to a boil in a pot. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until quinoa is cooked (about 10 minutes). Set aside and let cool.

3. Gently mix the quinoa with the remaining 1 TS olive oil, add the fennel mixture, chile, pomegranate and herbs. Toss gently to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Pomegranate Olive Relish
(makes one small bowl)

Relish

Ingredients:

110g green olives, sliced and pitted
40g cup roasted pistachios (I used pine seeds)
110g pomegranate seeds
1 TS minced shallots
2 ts finely chopped fresh mint
2 TS olive oil
2 ts pomegranate molasses (I used maple syrup instead)
dash of lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Coarsely slice the green olives and chop the pistachios/pine seeds to roughly the size of the pomegranate seeds or a bit smaller.

2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and season to taste. Depending on the flavor of the pomegranates and olives, you may need more or less lemon juice and salt.

3. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to a day before serving.

4. Serve with crackers, bread, or pita chips. Delicious on crostini with goat cheese.


Stornoway

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.)

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)

Tarte Flambée with Caramelized Onions, Figs and Olives

As I’ve already mentioned, fall is my favourite season. First of all because I love all the colors that nature takes on with its beginning, the fog that lingers on the fields and the Rhine in the morning, sparkling in the light of the rising sun, the smell of molding apples and plums on the damp orchard lawns and the coziness at home when you have to turn on the lights or light candles in the evening because the days are getting shorter. But there’s also fall’s harvest, bringing so many delights for the tummy. Think of all the pumpkins, chestnuts, mushrooms, nuts, the vintage etc.
And I can’t wait to have my first Federweißer this year!

When I went to the market yesterday, I came home with a bag of ripe and sweet Turkish figs that I couldn’t not buy. I have friends who cultivate figs in their own garden (They actually also cultivate kiwis… Who would’ve thought this was possible here?), but as I don’t have my own garden, I have to stick with the Turkish ones. Figs are incredibly versatile: They can be eaten raw or be used for jams (on a slice of bread with brie…), salads, sauces, pizza or tarte flambée. Tarte flambée is a traditional dish from the Alsace and usually made with just bacon, onions, crème double and/or sour cream. Those who don’t have problems eating dairy products should definitely try the original recipe that can easily be found on the internet. The recipe below, however, is yeast-free with dairy- and gluten-free options. If you don’t like the crust, you can just as well make a normal pizza crust or use puff pastry cut into squares.

Inspiration, again: Authentic Suburban Gourmet

Tarte Flambée with Caramelized Onions, Figs and Olives

Ingredients:
(serves 4-6)

6 TS butter/vegetable margarine
5 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
3 ts sugar
salt and pepper
400g flour
260-300ml (soy)milk
2-3 TS olive oil
1/2 ts salt
4 ts baking powder
5 fresh figs, quartered
12 kalamata olives, thinly sliced
Fresh thyme
Pine nuts

Directions:

1. In a pot melt the butter/margarine, add the sliced onions and toss until well coated. Add the sugar, season with salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until the onions are caramelized, lightly brown and sweet (30-40 minutes).

2. Preheat the oven to 220°C.

3. In a mixing bowl, mix the flour, milk, olive oil, salt and baking powder (if the dough is too dry and crumbly, add more milk and olive oil) until well combined and smooth. Roll out the dough on a greased rimmed baking sheet.

4. Brush the dough with the egg yolk. First, spread the onions on the dough, then the olives,  the figs and finally the pine nuts. Season with fresh thyme.

5. Bake the tarte for about 15-20 minutes and serve with mâche.

This is nuts.

Best snack ever!
The pecan belongs to the walnut family but tastes much milder and buttery than the common walnut. In the United States, the pecan is used way more often in cakes, ice cream etc. than the walnut, whereas in Europe you have to spend a small fortune for a tiny bag of them. The pecan tree is the state tree of Texas and there even is an annual Pecan Festival celebrated in some states..
.
Inspiration: Authentic Suburban Gourmet

And this just had to be mentioned…

Pecans and Cashews with Rosemary and Thyme

Ingredients:
(1 serving)

200g pecans
300g cashews
5 TS butter/vegetable margarine
3 TS raw cane sugar
2 1/2 TS coarse sea salt
1 ts cumin
1/2 ts cayenne pepper
Fresh thyme leaves
Fresh rosemary leaves

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Spread the pecans and cashews on parchment paper placed on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes on the middle rack until lightly brown and fragrant (be careful not to burn them – this happens quite easily).

2. Heat the butter/vegetable margarine in a medium-sized pot until lightly brown. Remove pot from the plate and add sugar, sea salt, cumin, cayenne pepper, thyme and rosemary. Stir until well combined.

3. Take the nuts out of the oven and add them to the mixture in the pot. Carefully stir until the nuts are completely coated.

4.Put the nuts back on the baking sheet and bake for another 10 minutes until dry (If the nuts are still very damp from the mixture after 10-15 minutes, put them in a sieve to drain for a couple of minutes). Take the nuts out of the oven and let cool.

The nuts can be stored in a lockable box for about 2 weeks.