Tuesday, December 25, 2012

X-Mas Food @ My Home

We started celebrating Christmas on the evening of the 24th December with a dinner. We had some stuff my mom made, which are traditional and practiced in the family since generations. But I made as well some Israeli hummus, that delicious carrots antipasti, an Arabic salad with couscous and some Boston baked beans. It was like some of the food of my birthday party repeated but I loved the menu so much that I decided to serve it to my folks. During the day I made the Milan cake, which is a fast one and it disappeared until today. 25th December - we were eating all the stuff from yesterday and my mom was baking the goose. I mean all meat eaters should love the smell but I can not find any place in this enormous house which would be free of the smell of a baked goose. And by all my love to my vegetarians views, I am not going to sit in the attic or basement during the holidays - that's goose-smell-free ;). So tomorrow I will enjoy my veggie stuff and the family a Christmas goose (Weihnachtsgans), potato dumplings and cabbage.

Anyway. We were enjoying the time together, watching some TV, sorting old photographs and documents - some of them were more than 100 years old. Documents of my grand grand parents, their photos, documents of my grandparents, some other stuff from before the WWII etc pp. That was the smell of the generations, of my roots, of our personal family history. And it's the history of a past country, of a Germany which does not exist anymore. It's unbelievable how much I know the history of my own family which I can follow back for generations, even having old documents, photos... I really enjoyed the time and the work we did while sorting.

We also had a lot of fun after my mom burned down our Advent wreath... I was baking the cake, my dad was surfing on the Internet upstairs and once my mom started shouting: "guys, come one here, FAST". My father was faster than me and the only thing I saw was him running with a burning wreath to the front door. The positive out of the little fire on our couch table was: the smell of the goose was covered by the smell of a burning spruce. The comment of my mom: "huh, it's smelling like in the church" - and that was the point we all started laughing. The advent wreath is back on the table but looks, how to say it, quite bashed-up ;) And the people walking on the street had some fun as well after seeing my father with a burning and smoking wreath standing near to the front door... Yes, it's never boring in my family and that's what I love about my folks.

I made a quark-apple-cake for tomorrow the 26th. My cousin and my nephew are coming for lunch and for coffee. So I thought it would be a nice idea to make something sweet. It was funny when I tried to take a photo of the inner of the oven - hem hem, the oven's door's like a mirror so I finally opened it for a while to take a pic. I wanted to make some chocolate cookies today but I left it for tomorrow - Alicia, from Culinary Bliss tried a recipe and sent it to me today.

What else? Our cat Pushkin, I mean the cat of my parents is too cute! I had to take some photos of him because he was my helper in the kitchen in the last two days. He was just sitting on the chair or elsewhere and watching - that's what cats can do the best. Pushkin is now exactly 16 months old and he is turning more and more to a real British Shorthair (Wikipedia). He's even more cute in reality than on the pictures. It is said, that BSH turn mature after they are 2 years old. It seems to be true - he's more and more like he "should" be. But he's still such a teddy you would love to cuddle all the time. I am not too in animals. I do love them but I also enjoy the kind of distance (no pets in my bed or at the table) but Pushkin is so cute that I my heart melts every time I see those big eyes! Sorry for the bad quality of the photos I took them with my mobile phone. Merry Christmas and Frohe Weihnachten!

Boston Baked Beans

The fastest cake ever - Milan Cake and me trying to take a photo through a mirror-door of the oven...

Some carrots antipasti and Pushkin

My kitchen helper - Pushkin


While I was cutting the tomatoes for the salad a bird was eating bird food outside the window

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Elderberry Wine & X-Mas Fever

Thursday evening was a lovely time which I spend with my friend and drinking: Elderberry Wine. I've never tried it before but it was very tasty. It had a little sour taste but was exactly my taste. My friend told me, the wine was a home-made one, from an organic farmer who makes stuff like that. WOW! I think I'll buy some for myself. Now talking about wine, I think it could be a nice idea to start a small wine corner here. I do love wine and I enjoy it during the meals or using it for cooking. So I had the idea to describe some of the most popular wines here, every time I'll buy a new bottle. I'll be the "tester". So take a look on the pictures. Sorry for the bad quality, but they were taken with my phone and the build in camera is not the best one.

Home made, organic and GMO free elderberry wine

And now a small update about X-Mas. First of all I went home to visit my parents and our animals: our dog and our cats. One of them is living in the apartment, the others live in the cellar and outside in the garden. That's so great. No neighbours, a big house, a lot of space and a BIG KITCHEN!!! Despite the fact we're running into the Christmas celebration in two days - and we start celebrating on 24th with a dinner, and the 26th is as well a day free of work, I made a menu for me and my family for the next days. My mom will prepare some of the traditional dishes - which are for sure not vegetarian, and some of the vegetarian traditional stuff (like cabbage or salad) and I will as well do some extra dishes which an be eaten by everyone. We went for a huge shopping today and I bought everything I wanted. Almost everything - but I'll buy the last 3 things on Monday morning. In my next update I'll let you know what I cooked. Tomorrow I am starting with some antipasti, the brownies and hummus.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Finally: The Party & Food

Finally the day of my birthday came and I had friends invited for dinner, drinks and a game evening. As I wrote it was the first time since ten years that I was giving a birthday party and I really enjoyed it. I'd like to say thank you to my guests as well to everyone who thought about me and sent me SMS, e-mails, birthday cards or gave me calls. It was nice of you.

Because I didn't want to spend MY DAY in the kitchen, I started cooking the evening before. A lot of dished had the need to stay for one day to get the real taste. The only thing I made on my birthday was the cake which I bake in the morning. It took me about two hours to cook everything. It was a very well organized time. It's not easy to make so many dishes for so many people in my small kitchen and I had to do the cleaning up during I was preparing the food. But it worked well and I am used to be organized because I'm always helping my mom with preparations for parties she gives and she always has between 10 and 20 persons one evening. It's amazing how well organized she is. She makes everything before and never stays away from the guests for longer than five minutes - only to bring the new dishes to the table. And because I am always helping her, I know how to do it the proper way. This time I'd like to say a special thanks to Z. for the small help between the main dish, the coffee and the last dish with the plates, the dishwasher and cutlery. And thanks to all the guests -  I think you enjoyed the evening as I did, especially we finished partying at 3 am. Now I can imagine you'd like to know what I cooked - a lot of antipasti, and two warm dishes. So here comes the list:
  • Boston Baked Beans (cold)
  • Israeli Hummus (cold)
  • Vegetables-Quark-Dip (cold) - my own creation
  • Italian carrots antipasti (cold)
  • Oriental bulgur tabbouleh salad (cold) as side dish or salad
  • French ratatouille (warm)
  • Foccacia and baguette bread
  • Feta-Spinach-Quiche (warm), in the late evening as additional dish - no pics, sorry
  • Apples-Quark-Cake and Tart Napoleon (thank you Tatjana for that great gift!)
  • Not to mention the wines, sparkling wine, and other drinks - we stayed at wine the whole evening
As you can see I went very international. Starting in Boston through Europe and finishing somewhere in the Levant. Even three days later I am eating the rests out of the fridge which smells like one big garlic! I think I am going to deep freeze the hummus because I am not able to finish it tomorrow. In the evening I finished eating the ratatouille, all the cakes and the baked beans but I still have hummus, the carrots antipasti, the quark-vegetables dip and some tabbouleh left. Could anybody please help me eating all that stuff? ;) 

I also got my cast iron pans which were my own birthday present to me - I got rid of the Teflon pans and switched to cast iron. We will see if I'll still like them in a month... The cooking was not the problem for me but the decision how to position the table in that horrible small living room to get all the people at one table. Sorry Mr. S., who is my neighbour downstairs for the noises at 1 am, when I was "driving" for nearly one hour with the table through the whole room. Finally I found a solution and redecorate the living room - a small change which I kept after the party. Sometimes also a small change makes you feel better and the flat looks better. But now enjoy the pictures of the food, the preparation process, the mess in my kitchen and everything around the day I wrote about. Now I am a big boy, if not to say: a 25+++ ;) man.

The preparation; my new cast iron pans and the main dish after we already drunk the sparkling wine
Israeli Hummus

The dips, the tabbouleh, tee and cofee

Cooking of the ratatouille - I used white wine this time
The table, some of the dishes in the fridge the evening before, a LOT to drink and some kitchen mess
The cakes - tart Napoleon by Tatjana (thank you so much!) and my apples-quark-cake
While making the apples-quark-cake
I'm trying to "defend" my piece of the yummy tart Napoleon, the game (Mind Master?) later, some of the food and the main dish

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas Cookies

A few days ago Ivonne sent me some pictures of the baking battle she made together with Jimmy. They were baking Christmas cookies. I am jealous! The cookies look so professional and well done! I have no time for baking cookies and I want some! It seems I have to wait the two weeks until I am visiting my parents over the holidays. Yeah...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

HIMYM, Potato Wedges 2, Vegetables Casserole & Birthdays

I can not understand it, that we people have to eat everyday. And I can not understand how comes that I am hungry all the time keeping my weight since years ;) In the past days I cooked some dishes which took me just a few minutes to prepare. I love casseroles. It's easy to make, you can take everything you have at home and some cheese topping and the oven do the job. On Thursday I had some Alsatian Tarte Flambee. I took no pictures because after C. made the tart it disappeared in only a couple of minutes. But we finally watched the last five episodes of How I Met Your Mother in English and made a small English-tandem using English for the most of the evening instead of German. I think we made progress with the language! So thanks for the nice evening. 

Today we went for some shopping to Sprendlingen-Dreieich and imagine what? I bought 24 wine and sparkling wine glasses. It had to be bought. I'm giving a birthday party in a few days - the first one since I stopped celebrating my birthdays 10 years ago. And I invited a couple of friends and I had not enough of usable wine glasses! The dish washer killed them all over the years. So I threw away all the old and replaced them with the new ones. Yes, my birthday... It's a topic for itself but I am not going to discuss it here. I think it's nice to start celebrating it again and because of all the friends and nice people it will be a pleasure to cook for so much people. I'll be a very busy guy that day. My flat is big for a single person but not big enough to invite more than 8 people if I want everyone to have a place at the table. So I split the celebrating into a city-celebration and a home-celebration. First of all I am meeting with some friends in the city at noon to visit a museum and go for a coffee. Later I am running home to drink some coffee and eat some cake with my granny (her question and biggest problem today was: CHRIS! What kind of cake are you baking???). God knows how many birthdays I will celebrate with her. I appreciate the time we're spending together - especially now after I got the message that my father's mom passed away on Friday. This are moments I stop for a while and start thinking about the circle of life. We should be prepared to die from the very moment we were born but when it comes, we're never ready.

I still did not decide what to cook and bake for my birthday party at home I am having in the evening but I am sure I will have some ideas in the next two days. BUT I bought wine (a lot of wine) and some sparkling wine. I am sure we will have a nice evening. Tatjana and Sebastian offered to prepare some games so I am very thankful for that. Since two days I am cleaning the flat and making some decorations for the party. The afternoon sun today was shining into my flat and I LOVED it. It was the first time since two weeks we had some sun. As you can see it started snowing, so I really have the feeling my birthday and Christmas are coming soon soon.

I made some vegetarian casserole yesterday, using bread at the bottom and covering it with vegetables, tomatoes and cheese and using yogurt instead of tomato-sauce. Today I made some potato wedges before we left for shopping.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Creme Napoleon

I must confess, I would like to try this delicious creme Napoleon torte. It's one of Tatjana's cakes made out of puff pastry with creme, chocolate and strawberries.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Potato Hash Browns

Something like 7 weeks ago I tried this potato hash browns at Tatjana and Seb. They were so tasty that I had to re-cook them. The only thing you need are potatoes which have to be cut very small, cayenne pepper (the end of a knife), some salt, oil (about 1 tablespoon for 2 lbs/1 kg potatoes), some herbs (basil, oregano), fresh pepper and maybe if you like some dried bell pepper. After you peel and cut the potatoes, mix the other ingredients in a bowl and bake it in the oven at about 200°C/390°F for 45-50 minutes. Short before the Kartoffelecken are ready you can add some cheese on the top and leave it for a while in the oven until the cheese melts. That's all! Try it with tzatziki or yogurt or as an add to other dishes. For sure it's lighter and healthier than French fries in deep oil. Enjoy!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pasta Casserole 2

Do you remember my Out of My Mind Pasta & Quark Casserole? I tried something similar this time. I discovered that quark is a great ingredient for casseroles which makes them not so dry and juicy. There's everything the body needs in this casserole: proteins (quark/cheese), vegetables etc. The ingredients were:
  • 1 package (750 g / 1 1/2 lb) frozen Mexican mix vegetables
  • 11 oz (300 g) fusilli pasta
  • 1 package (250 g / 1/2 oz) of quark
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes
  • fresh garlic
  • some roasted onions
  • soy sauce
  • fresh pepper
  • 1 mozzarella
  • some cheese
  • 1 tomato
  • herbs (basil, oregano) 
  • cayenne pepper (the end of a knife)
  1. Put the vegetables mix into a pan, add some water (just 2-3 tbsp), some soy sauce. Close the lid of the pan and stew it for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
  2. In the meantime cook the pasta just short before the point it is al dente.
  3. Mix the vegetables + pasta + quark + crushed tomatoes + onions + garlic + cayenne pepper in a bowl.
  4. Butter a casserole and put the mixture inside
  5. Cut the mozzarella + tomato + cheese. Put it on the top of the casserole.
  6. Add extra herbs and pepper.
  7. Bake it for about 20 minutes in a hot oven (200°C / 390°F) until the tomato gets soft and the cheese melts.

Greek Evening at Ivonne and Jimmy's

Last week Ivonne and Jimmy sent me some pictures from the Greek evening they made. I must confess the meal looks so yummy! They had: Dolme with Tzatziki, filled tomatoes and filled eggplants and fish with tomato-sauce. I wished I could have joined the meal!

Filled tomatoes, dolme with tzatziki, eggplants and fish with tomato-sauce.

Muffins and Cinnamon Buns by Tatjana

As promised I am publishing new stuff from the "friends' food project". It's highest time to present Tatjana's muffins and cinnamon buns we call Zimtschnecken in German (cinnamon snails). The dough was made with fresh yeast and later served with a fruit punch. I had the luck to try the Zimtschnecken - they were VERY delicious!

From left: Vanilla, Bilberries, Chocolate, Chili-Chocolate

Cinnamon buns on yeast dough

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Guys Evening with Jason Bourne - Sandwiches, an Advent Wreath & Sauerkraut

It's been nearly a month since the last blog update. Today I got an e-mail from my friend where she wrote "PS: Schreib bitte endlich an Deinem Blog weiter, ich kann keine clarified butter mehr sehen!!! ;)" [PS: Please continue writing on your blog because I can not see the clarified butter anymore!!! ;)"]. Yes that's true! Nor can I!!! It was a month full of surprises and my life rocked my world. 1000% adrenalin. How can I tell a lot of long stories short? Maybe I'll try to concentrate them. 
  • I never thought my future will come so soon and unexpected - I'm trying something new next month. To be honest it started before I thought it could be possible.
  • I closed a chapter of my old life, saying something I wanted to say for months and had no chance.
  • I hope some other future stuff will clarify in the next time too.
  • I asked her out for a date. I didn't want to go like a bull at a gate even if I felt so! It took me two days of thinking about the pros and contras but finally I thought: come on, you're a man, it's now or never. I never laughed so much about this situation afterwards than I did lately. It was the best thing that happened to me in the year of 2012. Sometimes we just have to be brave. So had I. And I am proud of it.
  • My short trip abroad was really short - after 40 hours I was helter-skelter sitting in a plane back home because my granny got pneumonia. I never payed so much for a plane ticket I bought in only 30 minutes after I got the message to come back home and two hours before I took off. Thank you to all my friends who supported me during and after that shock.
  • Traditionally like every year the mechanics "broke" my gas boiler and I had to call for them for a second time (as every year).
  • I'm thinking about the menu for my birthday party. It's the first time since 10 years I am going to celebrate my birthday again!
  • The Sauerkraut I made a few weeks ago is AMAZING!!!
That's about my excuses for being so still in the last time, but after I was working day by day on all my stuff I was only thinking and dreaming about my huge bed where I can fall asleep. Now I'm going to start publishing regularly. I have too much food I would like to share with you - mine and my friends food. That e-mail was like an ass-kick and mobilized me to start with this post.

A week ago we had a guys evening with the Bourne Trilogy. Two of my friends came over and we watched the movies, ate sandwiches I made (one portion was baked in the oven) and drunk wine. A lot of wine as I remember. I think we said good bye something at 5 am.

Today we have the first Sunday of the Advent season and I HAD TO decorate my flat for Christmas. Yes, it was an order of my mother who sent me a Advent wreath and table-cloth. The Advent wreath (Wikipedia) is one of those so German traditions I know from my home and childhood. It reminds me how much we kept this tradition alive at home. Every Sunday in the Advent season we burn a new candle. We burn the candles during our meals during the weeks and it's so heart touchy because there are not a lot of traditions I personally keep and the Advent wreath is one of those I will never give up. So my dearest MOM: here are the pictures, not that you think I am trying to skip X-Mas. I love it and when it comes: I DO HATE IT. So, it's the same procedure as every year ;)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Clarified Butter - Home Made

I'm running out of time on every corner of my life. No it does not mean my life is passing by, it means I had and have a couple of very important things to do last week and the next days that I even do not know what my name is. But when I will work hard the next few days I will get the reward next weekend when I am leaving the country for a couple of days. I already booked the plane tickets and now I am trying to discharge the things I have to do. I have so many stuff I'd like to post, stuff of friends', stuff of mine but I have absolutely no time for it. So I'll start with the newest one - clarified butter. I see no reason to repeat the Wikipedia article here, so check it HERE. I use clarified butter for a better taste of some dishes - for example pancakes because of its' higher smoke point. It took me about 40 minutes to clarify and filter the butter. For sure it's possible to buy clarified butter in the grocery BUT (a) I am not sure what kind of low quality butter they use and melt, - I can decide myself which good quality butter I want to buy, (b) they add conservants, and finally (c) the price is too high for such a fast and easy thing to do at home.

I made clarified butter out of 1 kg (something more than 2 lbs) butter. It makes no sense to use a lower amount of butter. I put it to a pot with a thick bottom (my favourite Fissler pot) and I started to melt it on a small flame. After a while you will get some foam which I removed with a spoon. I kept cooking the butter for the next about 10 minutes on a small gas flame to get rid of the evaporating water. I agitated the butter from time to time. You will hear that specific sound of evaporating water. I knew that the butter was clarified and ready after the sound of evaporating water was gone and the melt stopped bubbling. It looked like cold oil which was put to pot. That happened exactly at minute 28 since I switched the stove on. The last thing was the filtering process. I took a sieve and cut a tea filter. Next time I will be smarter to take a coffee filter and some filter paper. It will be easier and faster. I pour the clarified butter to small jars and left it to cool down. Later I'll close the jars and keep the clarified butter in the fridge. You can keep it for a long time in the fridge - even more than two months and use the butter for cooking or baking. Wikipedia says: It has negligible amounts of lactose and casein and is, therefore, acceptable to most who have a lactose intolerance or milk allergy. Since I do not have the problem I do not care but it's interesting to know. Out of 35 oz (1 kg) butter I got exactly 29 US fl. oz (30 UK fl. oz / 850 ml) clarified butter. After a few hours it will lose the liquid consistency and look like "normal" butter. Read the Wikipedia article and watch the pictures of the process below - they speak their own language.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Vegetables Tarte in Puff Pastry

I don't remember if I posted the recipe before - finally I couldn't find it so I'll post it again. It's one of those fast one-dish-meals which I totally love. I was invited to friends in the evening to spend the Shabbat (Wikipedia) with them so I knew the food for supper will be brilliant. I am not Jewish but I celebrate every festival when I know there will be great food, good and interesting conversations and nice people. And I do not care where I am praying, in a church, a synagogue or in the middle of a field as long as I keep doing it and it comes out of an honest heart. This time I really wanted to take part in a service because I have so much to be thankful for to the One over us - however He is named or who He is. The evening and the food were brilliant, so thank you very much to L. & A. for the hospitality and the nice time I had in your family. Knowing  that I'll get tasty food in the evening I went lazy and took a look into my fridge. The fastest and easiest possibility to get some food during the day was to make a tarte. I still had a package of puff pastry and I had some mozzarella and chopped cheese and vegetables.

The recipe is easy. Take a package of frozen vegetables (about 1 1/2 lbs.) and stew it with soy sauce for about 10 minutes until the water steams out. In the meantime butter a tarte baking pan and roll the puff pastry in the pan. Lay the baking paper the puff pastry was rolled in (at least in Germany it's always rolled in baking paper) over it, and pour beans or soy beans or something else you have over the baking paper. Put the baking pan to the oven and bake it for about 20 minutes. After the pastry is nearly ready, put it out of the oven, take the baking paper with the beans out and add the vegetables to the hole you got in the pastry. Add the mozzarella on the top and some chopped cheese, add pepper and herbs (basil oregano). Bake it again for about 10-12 minutes until the cheese melts. That's all. Enjoy the tarte with some tzatziki or yogurt. 

Advice: You can not use the beans for eating anymore, but keep them in a jar after they cool down and use them for the next "false baking" of a puff pastry. I think I use the same beans since more than three years.

I was so hungry and fixed on COOKING that I forgot to take some pictures while preparing the tarte. But I hope you got the point reading the preparing instructions.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sauerkraut - Home Made

Okay, I made it. I made Sauerkraut (Wikipedia). I mean come on, I am a Kraut, don't expect from me that I am not eating Sauerkraut even if my regular cuisine is a Meditteranean style. I'd like to share the recipe with you. It's a little bit of work you will have but believe me, it's worth. I am not going to repeat all the nutritional benefits of home made Sauerkraut you can read on Wikipedia but I'd like to show you a traditional way of making Sauerkraut

I got the recipe from my parents and I know it's exactly the way my ancestors made it for generations. I can follow my ancestral tree back to the 17th century and I know that all my folks lived in Central Europe (Austro-Hungary & Prussia). And I know that the generations before had not the benefits of fresh vegetables and fruit during the Winter time we have now. Winters in Central Europe were always brutal with low temperatures and lots of snow. People did what they could to preserve food, making pickles or Sauerkraut and get their vitamins between October and March. They also had no fridges or supermarkets to buy something. Imagine a life without shops and supermarkets? We wouldn't survive a month... 

Yes, you can buy canned Sauerkraut but to be honest I can not stand its' taste. It tastes so strange synthetic. So today I finally made the Sauerkraut. I bought the cabbage yesterday when I leased a car to make some shopping and handle some things in the city. I finally made Sauerkraut out of 26 pounds (11,6 kg) cabbage and something above 2 pounds of carrots. You can use other amounts but think about converting the amount of the salt and sugar. For the Sauerkraut I used a 4 gallons (16 litres) clay pot for preserving pickles or cabbage. It has a special collar where you pour some water after closing the pot's lid to avoid the influence of oxygen. You can take a normal clay pot or even a basket but you have to take care to weight the cabbage with a plate and a stone or a jar with water, so that the cabbage will always be covered with the juice. If the juice runs out you will have to add some water with salt to keep the cabbage covered. With my clay pot with the collar I can skip those steps and just close the lid, take care that there's always water in the collar and enjoy the fresh sour cabbage after 14 days. 

If you never made Sauerkraut and you don't want to make such huge amounts, just give it a try with a bigger cabbage in a 1/2 gallon jar. Just reduce the amount of sugar and salt referred to the proportions in the recipe and cabbage weight.

[cabbage weight = 100%; 2% of the cabbage weight = salt, some sugar; 10% of the cabbage weight = carrots. For an easier conversion I would use the metric system with grams, for example: 2 kg (2000 g) cabbage + 40g salt (2% of 2000 g) + 200 g carrots (10% of 2000 g) + some sugar]. 

Here's the ground recipe for the Sauerkraut I made:
  • 26 pounds (11,5 kg) cabbage
  • 2 1/8 lb (1 kg) carrots
  • 7 oz (200 g) salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  1. Clean the clay pot with boiling water.
  2. Mix the salt with the sugar in a bowl
  3. Clean the cabbage, cut out the spadix and rasp it. You can use a food processor I did.
  4. Put one portion (about 5-6 pounds) to a basket or a huge bowl and spread some salt with sugar over it.
  5. Now the hardest part: usually I should take a traditional piece of wood we call a Krautstampfer (cabbage tamper) for tamping but because I had none I just used a washed in hot water wine bottle (I drunk the wine the other day ;)). Start tamping the cabbage until it starts watering. It took me about 20 minutes with the first portion (sorry to my neighbour in the flat below mine!!!).
  6. After you tamped the first portion, rasp the carrots, and add them to the bowl and tamp again.
  7. Rasp the next portion of a few pounds of cabbage, add it to the bowl, spread the salt-sugar mixture and start tamping again. Now it will take about 10 minutes.
  8. Agitate the cabbage in the bowl well and add some more rasped cabbage and salt-sugar. Tamp again. You will see every time it will take less time to tamp. The cabbage will start watering again.
  9. After you added the last portion of rasped cabbage and you used all the salt-sugar, tamp it again for a while.
  10. Put the cabbage and the cabbage water on the bottom of the bowl to a clay pot, tamp it a little bit. You will see when you tamp it well, the cabbage should be covered a little bit with its' water. Close the lid, and add some water to the collar. Leave the cabbage for the first week in a warm place and leave the bacilli make their job. Later you can/should put the pot to a colder place (under 15°C/60°F). After about two weeks you can try if the Sauerkraut is ready.
  11. You can keep the cabbage in the clay top for the Winter in a colder cellar.
  12. If you don't have a clay pot with a water collar or you want to use a normal clay pot, just after you put the cabbage to the pot, put a big plate over it and weight it with a big jar of water that the cabbage will be covered. Pay attention that after a few days there will be a lot of foam and water so leave some space left at the top of the pot. If you see the cabbage is not covered with water, add some saline. The cabbage has to be ALWAYS covered with water.
  13. You can also keep the Sauerkraut in jars (later when it's ready). Put some plastic film between the jar and the jar lid - otherwise the lid will start rusting if you use a metal one. Keep the cabbage in a cool cellar.
It seems to be complicated but it's not. I wanted to show you as much details as I could so that you won't be surprised during the souring process. Be aware that while keeping the cabbage in the first days in the warm flat, the whole flat will start smelling like Sauerkraut. I don't mind. I like this smell and I always know that when it smells this way, everything is going the right way during the souring process. In a two weeks I'll post some recipes for dishes with the home made Sauerkraut. And even my kitchen looks like a mess on the pictures, I cleaned it in 20 minutes. Without cleaning - it took me 2 hours to make it. Now enjoy the pictures.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Gnocchi with Spinach-Cream Sauce by Ivonne

My dearest readers, dear friends! It's time to introduce the third participant in my "post pics of friends' food on the blog" project [check new label: friend's food project]. I got an e-mail from Ivonne who is my best friend's wife - she asked me to publish her newest dish on the blog! Even we know each other since only two years and even we had some misunderstandings at the beginning, I am sure we reached a totally new level of relationship after all. Knowing each other a better way and talking. And Ivonne's husband is my best friend, a brother I never had and someone who knows me since I was teenager. Together with Jimmy we had so much fun, studied together, laughed, drunk and traveled. Yes I would say we had the time of our lives together with our third close friend. What's funny everyone of us was so different, with different cultural backgrounds. But we were always there if the other was in need. And now, even two years after we all went our ways, we are still there. Skype, telephone, SMS, e-mail, yes we keep together. I hope maybe one day in the future our ways will cross again that we could just meet for a drink without flying through the half continent. And my only wish for the future is, that one day when we will be grey and old, or bold and old ;) - we will sit in a café somewhere in the Southern Countries, laughing and remembering the past. And that we will be able to look back and say with implicitness I [really] had a FRIEND. Thank you for everything guys and sorry for me being sometimes such a nudnik...

Now back to Ivonne's food, before I'll go too pathetic: Ivonne cooked some Italian Gnocchi [self made] with spinach-cream sauce and a Parmesan cheese-topping. Yummy!!!

Italian gnocchi with spinach-cream sauce and a Parmesan cheese-topping

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tatjana's Products - Salata Caprese, Pelmeni & Co.

Here are some more of Tatjana's culinary fruits and I can proudly present:

Upper right: zucchini with garlic and carrots, salata caprese (tomato-mozzarella), self preserved tomatoes with pears and sheep's cheese, Russian vinaigrette with beetroot, shrimps with white wine sauce; down left: Eggplants two way (Parmigiana and Aioli); down right: Pelmeni (Russian filled dumplings) with pepper vinegar and ravioli with zucchini and mushrooms-cream-sauce.

upper right: zucchini with garlic and carrots, salata caprese (tomato-mozzarella), self preserved tomatoes with pears and sheep's cheese, Russian vinaigrette with beetroot, shrimps with white wine sause; down left: Eggplants two way (Parmigiana and Aioli); down right: Pelmeni (Russian filled dumplings) with pepper vinegar and ravioli with zucchini and mushrooms-cream-sauce

French Toast with Antipasti, Winter Potatoes & Milan Cake

That's kind of an off-topic. I just wanted to show some new pictures. I decided that the devil won't get my soul this time and so soon so I'm keeping on drinking hot tea and hoping the cough will stop soon and I get my voice back. Yes, that's what I decided ;) It was also the first day since 4 days I left the flat. We had a wonderful afternoon - blessed with sun although it was soooooo cold. The evening came after 5 pm - thank you for the time change. Ugh...

Anyway my evening was kind of funny. Maybe you know the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Well, I knew it before but I'm watch it now. And they remind me sometimes my family. And that brings me one hour back. Talking to my dad on the phone he wanted to know some more about my grandmother's cousin living in Paris. Okay, so I called my granny and made a 3-way-conference, so my granny started with the whole story again. Me, bored.... decided meanwhile to bake a fast cake (my Milan cake). When my father and my granny finished - my cake was already in the oven.

The other thing is: yesterday I got the 60 pounds of Winter potatoes I ordered from a farmer to keep them in the cellar. I ordered extra 60 pounds for my friends and told the guy to deliver them. And later I got the message and imagine that deceit peasant told them that I ordered 120 pounds and they bought the story as well the 120 pounds potatoes!!! That's about the potatoes. I have a cooking book only about potatoes and I decided to cook one of those potato dishes once a week until March. That will be my second project, after publishing pics and dishes of my friends. I really can't wait for the weekends when I'll have time to try the recipes out of the book.

And because listening to that story on the phone for the third or fourth time, baking the cake, reading in the book about the nutrition facts of potatoes made me hungry - I made a quick toasts with cheese and carrots and cucumber antipasti. So, back to my film which I am still watching (the wedding just started) I say καληνύχτα and goodnight.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Egg salad & Carrots Antipasti

I am sick! Indeed I decided to write a small update of the food I cooked in the evening watching a film. I am so bored, that I am posting to kill the last hour before I can finally go to bed. I don't know why my body always reacts on different changes with fever or I get sick. It's always the same routine. I have a lot of work to do, some important projects or something I really have to mobilize 200% of myself. Few days after I finish a project/job or what else and the stress is less - my body gives up. Usually it takes me two days to go back to my normal condition. A few days ago I was celebrating my success and now... But to be honest, I knew that there's something coming. After very stressful 6 months I am looking forward for Christmas and I even ate some Christmas cookies (oh come on, I am sick and tired, it was the highlight of my day!!!). I got a stupid cold and I am bored like a mops! After I slept a lot and watched maybe 4 films during the day and read a little bit in a book I got hungry. I made the egg salad and the carrots antipasti. And I promise, when I only get well I will ban lemons out of my flat. I can't see, taste or even think about them!!! On the radio I heard an old song I think by Johnny Nash, the lyrics were: I can see clearly now, the rain is gone, I can see all obstacles in my way. Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind. It’s gonna be a bright, bright, Sun-Shiny day. Is that not positive to listen to such words knowing: wow, it's true? Wish me good health!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tatjana's Sweets & Cakes

Tatjana sent me some pictures of sweets and cakes she made. As you can see on the first collage, this are different kind of écclair: chocolate éclair with crème légère, caramel éclair with coffee creme and fruit éclairs with mint. On the second collage from upper left: brownies with red wine; upper right: sweets à la Napoléon + pasta di Mandorla + mousse au chocolat, below left: cherry cake; below right: cherry cake with apple bars. As you can see, Tatjana was going very French and international. Welcome to our small Europe.

Chocolate éclair with crème légère, caramel éclair with coffee creme and fruit éclairs with mint
Upper left: brownies with red wine; upper right: sweets à la Napoléon + pasta di Mandorla + mousse au chocolat, below left: cherry cake; below right: cherry cake with apple bars

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Feta Pasta & Sparkling Wine - Oh What a Happy Day

It was MY evening! I am so happy! Since Saturday a couple of things happened - of personal nature, of future nature and and and! I decided to have a celebration and cooked my favourite dish: feta pasta. Easy easy easy. This recipe was my invention. Just cook the pasta. Meanwhile make the sauce out of a can of crushed tomatoes, herbs and spices, garlic and a piece of feta. Stew it for the while and add the pasta. I thing I've posted this recipe before. So, my supper was delicious and because of the things I wanted to celebrate I "killed" a bottle of sparkling wine (oh it was strong...). I went patriotic and bought a Henkell which comes from the winery located in our poshy and beautiful state capital Wiesbaden (Wikipedia). And believe me, Wiesbaden is really a great spa town where Romans, kings and earls and the polite and high society of the 19th century came for holidays. Long story short: I had reasons to be happy and to be proud of myself and I decided to say a good health on myself. So PROST! - CHEERS! for my future!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pasta and there's no basta!

It looks as my project of inviting some of my friends to help me with the blogs is turning to be a success. I've got a lot of pictures and descriptions of food my friends make. First of all I'd like to introduce my friend Tatjana. She is of those silent chefs who cook their dishes in the darkest corners of their kitchens and later comes a BOOM!!! - You'll be served a perfect dinner. How crazy is that??? You think you're a great amateur chef and later comes out someone else seems to be a real semi-professional one! Say it loud my friend: Cooking is not only your passion but it's your secret day job! As long as long you won't torture me with the philosophy of Immanuel Kant (Wikipedia) again and anymore, I'll keep your secret and won't tell other people how great you cook and how I like visiting you both in your "old bakery".

Tatjana's also the one I lost the last cooking battle and I am still proud for that. The food was too tasty! I'd also like to say thank you at this point - for everything.

For the beginning some pictures of pasta, as Tatjana wrote: Our experiments after we bought a pasta machine.

Ravioli mit fresh curd cheese and zucchini-haselnut filling
Chocolate pasta with cherries and Nutella (chocolate + nut cream), and fettuccine below

Monday, October 22, 2012

Zucchini & Bell Pepper Stew

This is a recipe of my friend Wanda who asked me to publish it on my blog. Enjoy the tasty pictures - it's something I only can do since we are living in different countries and I had no chance to try the dish.
  • one bigger zucchini (you can take two smaller ones)
  • two bell peppers (yellow and red)
  • a big onion
  • one big clove of garlic
  • a small can of very concentrated tomatoes (tomato paste)
  • one cup red wine (dry)
  • salt, pepper, oil
  • some fresh tomatoes
  • some fresh basil
  1. Peel the zucchinis (if you take young ones, you can skip this step). Cut them in pieces of 1/2" (1 cm). Salt them and leave them aside for a while until the juice will pour out.
  2. Cut the onion and bell peppers in pieces of the same thickness
  3. Oil a pan and add the bell peppers, onion and garlic. Add the tomato paste and the red wine. Cover the pan with a lid and stew it on small power.
  4. Take a second pan and oil it. Roast the zucchinis.
  5. Put the roasted zucchinis over the bell peppers in the second pan. Garnish the dish with the fresh tomatoes and basil.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Home Made Bread

I've got a bread baking machine since 2003 and it's 9 years already I am baking bread by myself. At the beginning I used and bought ready bread mix. But soon I discovered that the bread's never the way it looks on the picture and tastes strange. So I started some experiments and I invented my own bread recipe. You can use herbs or skip the sunflower seeds or the onions, but I like the taste of MY bread. If you don't have a bread baking machine - you can probably make the dough the way you would make a yeast dough. But it will take more time and energy to make it. I like the bread baking machine because I really add the ingredients to the mixing bowl (which takes 5 minutes) and after 3 hours I take a fresh baked bread out. Now I would like to share my recipe with you - it is one of the recipes I could recite even if you wake me up in the middle of the night. And to all metric users: excuse that strange gram and ml specifications, but I always used the imperial system for this recipe.
  • 18 oz (2 1/4 lb / 510 g) flour
  • 12 fl. oz (340 ml) water
  • 3/4 oz (21 g - it's a half of a German yeast cube) fresh yeast
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt (don't forget it! Otherwise the bread will taste really awful)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • a half handful of sun flower seeds
  • less than a half handful of roasted onions
  1. Mix the water + sugar + yeast for a while with a spoon. Pour it to the baking machine pan
  2. Add the olive oil
  3. Add seeds and onions (or herbs or what else you want)
  4. Add the flour
  5. Add the salt
  6. Use the "normal" programme of the bread baking machine (3 hours) with the "dark" option. After a while the machine will do it job check the dough with a spoon. If it is too dry, add one or two extra tablespoons of water. It depends on the flour. That's why the amount of water I wrote is the minimum you will need but I can not guarantee you won't have to add some extra. The dough should not be dry or too hard. It should have the consistence of chewing gum after you chew it for 5 minutes ;) - sorry I had no idea how to describe it. That's why I wrote, check it with a spoon and you will get the "right" feeling.

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