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.

Chermoula Eggplant with Quinoa and Yoghurt / Spicy Carrot Salad

After all the  traditional German Christmas food (roulades, red cabbage, potato dumplings, Sacher torte etc.), the recipes from “Jerusalem: A Cookbook” just came in right for a contrast. I highly recommend this book to everyone who is interested in the Jewish kitchen or just likes wonderful, easy to prepare, non-fancy but still amazing food that tickles your taste buds with all its different and rich flavors.

Chermoula Eggplant with Quinoa and Yoghurt
(serves 2)
adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook

Eggplant3

Ingredients:

1 clove garlic, crushed
1 ts cumin
1/2 ts chile flakes
1/2 ts sweet paprika
1 tsp finely chopped preserved lemon peel (I used lemon zest)
70 ml olive oil
1 big eggplant
75 g bulgur (I took quinoa for a gluten-free version)
25 g raisins
2 TS fresh cilantro, chopped
2 TS fresh mint, chopped
25 g pitted green olives, sliced
15 g sliced almonds, toasted
1 green onion, chopped
3/4 TS freshly squeezed lemon juice
60 g Greek yoghurt (I used sheep’s yoghurt instead)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

2. For the chermoula, mix together in a small bowl the garlic, cumin, coriander, chile, paprika, preserved lemon (zest), 2/3 of the olive oil and 1/2 ts salt.

3. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise. Score the flesh of each half with deep, diagonal crisscross scores, making sure not to pierce the skin. Spoon the chermoula over each half, spreading it evenly, place on a baking sheet cut side up and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes until completely tender.

4. Meanwhile, cook the bulgur/quinoa according to the instructions on the package.

5. In a small bowl cover the raisins with hot water and let soak for 10 minutes.

6. When the bulgur/quinoa is ready, let drain in a sieve and in a bowl mix together the bulgur/quinoa with the drained raisins, olives, remaining oil, herbs (leave some for garnishing), almonds, green onions, lemon juice and a pinch of salt.

7. When ready, transfer the eggplant halves on a plate each, cut side up, and spoon the bulgur/quinoa mixture on top. Garnish with yoghurt, some sprinkles olive oil and the remaining herbs.
 

Spicy Carrot Salad
(serves 2 as a side dish)
adapted and amended from Jerusalem: A Cookbook

Ingredients:

3 large carrots, grated
1 1/2 TS olive or rape oil
1/2 onion, fine chopped
1/2 ts harissa
1/4 ts ground cumin
1/4 ts sugar
1 1/2 ts apple vinegar
salt
sunflower seeds

Directions:

1. In a salad bowl whisk together the oil, onion, harissa, cumin, sugar, vinegar and salt.

2. Add the grated carrots and sunflower seeds and toss well to combine.

 

And I thought it was winter…Blossoms

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.)

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”

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)

Plum Chutney

On my last visit to the market the plums just looked too pretty so that in a food shopping spree I bought 2000g …
The first thing I made from these plums was plum goulash, but that only reduced the 2000g by 400g so there was still plenty of plums left to be made use of. And what’s better than jams, jellies and chutneys in order to make use of large amounts of fruit?

Plum Chutney

Ingredients:
(fills 4-6 small preserving jars)

1kg plums
150g apples
400 g red onions
250ml red wine (+ plum puree to taste) or plum wine
100ml balsamic vinegar
100g raw cane sugar
1 ts Dijon vinegar
1 ts curry
½ ts ground cilantro
1 ts ground cinnamon
1 ts salt
one pinch of ground chili
4 cloves of garlic, grated
250g gelling sugar, 2:1
freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Wash, dry and pit the plums and cut them into small pieces. In a bowl, weigh 1kg of the cut plums.

2. Peel and pit the apple, weighing 150g of the cut apple in a bowl.

3. Peel the onions, cut them into thin rings and weigh 400g of the cut onions in a bowl.

4. Transfer the onions into a big pot, add ingredients no. 4-13, bring to boil and let simmer for about 20-25 minutes.

5. Add apple and plums, stir well, bring to boil and let simmer for another 20 minutes.

6. Add the gelling sugar and stir well to prevent from scorching.

7. After about 5 minutes check on the chutney’s texture (mine was still very liquid so I transferred the chutney into a sieve, straining the liquid into a bowl for later use in sauces).

8. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

9. Transfer the chutney into clean preserving jars, twist the lids firmly and turn the jars upside down for about 5 minutes to vacuum seal them.

Berlin Pumpkin

I’ve never spent as much time in Berlin as this year. Every single time I visited my friends I had the most wonderful days – it was magical, really.

Diane Arbus Exhibition at Gropius Bau
Market at Kollwitzplatz
Sushi Zionskirchstraße
Lass uns Freunde bleiben bar
Der Hahn ist tot restaurant
Filmgalerie 451

The picture below looks nothing as delicious as this salad actually is at all!
Inspiration: Healthy Green Kitchen

 

Hokkaido Salad with Pecans and Dates

Ingredients:
(serves 4)

Olive oil
1 TS raw cane sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 TS honey
1/8 ts cayenne pepper
100g pecan halves
1 large hokkaido
6 TS olive oil
4 TS white wine vinegar
1 TS Dijon mustard
100-200g mâche or arugular
a handful of dates, pitted and quartered lengthwise

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 165°C. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly coat the parchment with olive oil.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar and 1/4 ts salt. Set aside.

3. In a frying pan, warm 2 TS of the honey over low heat. Add the cayenne pepper and stir to mix well. Add the pecans and stir to coat. Spread the nuts in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and toast in the oven until fragrant and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly, then add the nuts to the bowl with the sugar mixture, and toss to coat. Discard the parchment paper and spread the pecans out in a single layer on the baking sheet to cool completely.

4. Raise the oven temperature to 230°C. Line a second rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and coat generously with olive oil.

5. Cut the hokkaido in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Cut the flesh into cubes (There’s no need to peel the hokkaido but you might want to wash it before use!) and pile them on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 TS of the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Spread the hokkaido out in a single layer. Roast, turning several times, until fork-tender and lightly browned all over, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

6. In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and the remaining 2 TS honey. Add the remaining 4 TS olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until a smooth, emulsified dressing forms. Season with salt and pepper.

7. Spread the mâche/arugular on 4 plates, top with the roasted hokkaido, pecans and dates and drizzle with the vinaigrette.

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.