Thursday, June 30, 2011

an hour's wait

Instead of doing some shopping or reading a book I decided to make the most of one hour's wait and have a walk along the Elbe in splendid sunshine.

This is a part of the famous bicycle trail between Prague and Hamburg along the river Elbe. Even if you deduct the first 50km along the river Moldau (Vltava) it is a more than 1000km distance from the beginning to the end.

Monday, June 27, 2011

summer of sorbets: the apricot

Already at the very first tasting yesterday night the apricot sorbet reached a high score in our internal ranking.  Close behind strawberry and cantaloupe, though clearly in front of cherry, mango and some fruit/Rosé compositions.

Do you also have a predilection for preparing things differently each year? I definitely do. One year it's jellies and jams, next year a variety of french clafoutis, this year seems to become a sorbet and ice cream year... Any psychologists among you to analyse that? (No, the ice cream maker is not new...)

Apricot Sorbet ( from David Lebovitz' The Perfect Scoop)

1kg ripe fresh apricots
250ml (1 cup) water
200g (1 cup) sugar
3 drops almond or 
vanilla extract

Split the apricots in half, remove the pits and cut each apricot into small pieces. Cook the apricots with the water, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the sugar and let cool to room temperature.
Purée the mixture in a blender until smooth. Stir in the almond or vanilla extract.
Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker. Enjoy!

The next one is already in the pipeline: a raspberry sherbet...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

creativity needs time

"Creativity needs time" is a repost from  Jelly Beans of all Flavours, a blog I love to follow because it offers a  daily kaleidoscope of inspiring readings and pictures. It invites you to be daring, to live your dreams and to never forget about the beauty of our world.

Friday, June 24, 2011

No water, no electricity

We often have breakdowns of electricity for some hours when there is a heavy thunderstorm. We are cut off  the drinking water whenever the old communal water pipe is leaking for the hundredth time.
But never before we had both at the same time. Weird feeling....

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

the pleasure of a spontaneous Paella

Paella sounds like mastery. An elaborate spanish national dish with many ingredients you normally don't store in your pantry.  No place for spontaneity.
This might be right in theory, but.....  if you keep in mind (and in your pantry) two or three essentials which are responsible for the typical paella flavour you'll be surprised by the result. Even without shopping before at the best delikatessen in town.

I'll tell you the secret:

  • if you have got an outdoor hotplate, use it. It will give you an immediate feeling of luxury and ESPAÑA! 
  • the smell and the flavour of fried red bell pepper is a must and peas always look nice in a paella
  • more chopped vegetable like courgettes, green beans, onions, garlic...
  • you need pieces of fish, shellfish, chicken or chorizo, at least one of these four
  • a big jar with a mixture of vegetable/chicken stock, a can of tomatoes and a big glass of white wine
  • paella condiment (pepper, thyme, rosemary, safflower, cloves and nutmeg, paprika)
  • any kind of not too sticky rice 

    Have always in mind that Paella originally has been a dish to make use of remains. As you can see in the picture I had a variety of vegetables but from the fishy side only salmon and a few shrimps. Why not?

    Paella ( the genuine, one of the many)

    extra virgin olive oil
    1 medium chicken, jointed and cut in pieces
    1 chorizo sausage, sliced
    500g mussels
    8 big prawns
    2 small pieces squids, trimmed and cut open
    1 onion
    a handful of peas
    a handfull of green beans, cut in pieces
    1 red bell pepper, chopped
    4 garlic coves, finely chopped
    500g rice - Paella style
    1 1/2 l stock
    400g canned, puréed tomatoes
    150ml white wine
    1tablespoon Paella condiment
    1 bayleaf
    1 lemon

    Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
    Mix the hot stock with the tomatoes, white wine and paella condiment. Fill it in a jar.

    Put the oil in a Paellera ( large flat pan)  and brown the chicken pieces. Add onions, garlic and red bell pepper (Hm, the smell!) and allow to soften. Add the chorizo.
    Add the remaining vegetables and a pinch of salt.
    Add now the rice, stirring until it is coated with olive oil. Pour 1/3 of the stock mixture into the pan. Cook until the stock has disappeared. Add the mussels and squids and 1/3 of the stock. When the rice is almost cooked, add the prawns and the last 1/3 of stock. Check the seasoning.

    When the rice is cooked cover it for ten minutes with a periódico (newspaper) and take a bottle of red wine out of the fridge.
    Cut the lemon into wedges and place them around the edge of the pan.  "Que aproveche!"

    6:30 a.m.

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    June garden

    I don't know the name of these cute, neon pink plants. They are growing like weed all over my garden. Unbelievable, true and no photoshop!

    Today a climber-arborist has been here to cut the flowering plum.

    They always remind me of the Mediterranean: Spain, Portugal..... sun, sea and holidays

    May I introduce the most photogenic plant of my garden to you? It is the fustet. In German: Perückenstrauch, which literally translated means "wig bush"...  An untidy, crumpled wig, but always good for a photo.

    Her name is Financial Times and in full blossom she will be perfectly pink.

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    Barbecue night

    Finally the nights have become warm enough  to inaugurate the Barbecue season. No better holiday feeling than heating the charcoal, mixing  the sauces and preparing the lots of meat we normally abstain from.
    And of course, our guests had to be introduced into the pleasures of a well-prepared Leapfrog.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    Exciting strawberries: David's sorbet and #9 Kelly's rickshaw

    Since strawberries are in full season now (we can pick them ourselves in endless strawberry fields nearby), I have been looking for some more exciting recipes than the familiar cakes, creams and yoghurts.

    Here is the result of my research:

    The  STRAWBERRY SORBET comes from David Lebovitz' book The perfect Scoop, the best ice cream book I ever owned.

    Every so often I prepared it, it disappeared in the twinkling of an eye. Believe me, it's best florentine Grom quality!

    To make it in your own kitchen you need:

    500g fresh and ripe strawberries
    150g sugar
    1 teaspoon kirsch
    1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
    pinch of salt

    Slice the strawberries and toss them in a medium bowl with the sugar and kirsch, stirring until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover and let stand for an hour, stirring every so often.
    Purée the strawberries and the lemon juice in a blender or food processor until smooth.

    Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze in your ice cream maker.

    And when the night comes I recommend the STRAWBERRY RICKSHAW...

    I found this cocktail in eat make read ; it's just awesome!

    I love to visit this Blog, because apart from sharing super creative happy hour cocktails (Zucchinitini the latest one)  Kelly has always amazing recipes and readings to offer . Check it out, I'm sure you'll love it too!

    The recipe for the strawberry rickshaw you find here.  Enjoy!

    Saturday, June 11, 2011

    Friday, June 10, 2011

    #7 Leapfrog

    The peppermint plantation in my garden is ripe and ready to find its way into the cocktail glasses...

    For 2 glasses of irresistible-dazzling-turqoise Leapfrog  take

    6 mint leaves
    4 parts Gin
    1 1/2 parts lemon juice 
    1 part Blue Curacao
    1/2 part sugar syrup
    2 dashes Angostura Bitter

    In a mixing glass, muddle the mint leaves with the sugar syrup, then add the rest of the ingredients.
    Shake with ice cubes and strain into a cocktail glass. Enjoy!

    Thursday, June 09, 2011

    sweet, strong and very italian - granita de caffé

    Granita de Caffé

    1l espresso or very strongly brewed coffee
    300g sugar

    Mix the warm espresso with the sugar until the sugar is dissolved. When cooled down, place the mixture in the freezer. Once it begins to freeze around the edges, take a fork and stir the mixture, breaking up the frozen parts from the edges into smaller chunks and raking them toward the centre.
    Return the dish to the freezer and repeat the procedure from time to time until you have beautiful, fine crystals of homemade granita.

    Have a sunny day!

    Wednesday, June 08, 2011

    Flowers for the Royal's hats?

    When I heard that British hatters had ordered thousands and thousands of artificial flowers from the Sebnitz manufactory, I decided that it was high time to pay a visit to this tiny village at the Czech border.  50 km from Dresden, the perfect destination for a weekend trip.

    Already on the staircase, where I took the photograph above, I got some slight doubts about the lifelike appearance of these works of art. Moving along to the wedding room I was happy for being already married... (Funny enough that I actually wore a wreath of white and pink flowers on my wedding.)
    Next we visited the creepy iron cellar where all the moulds were stored. Thereafter we were shown a film about the artificial flower production in Sebnitz before World War II. At that time Sebnitz produced 3/4 of the world demand.

    Endless rows of workers, men and women, doing one single movement the whole day, cutting flowers, pressing, dying, making stems. In the factory and in home work- pictures from the industrial revolution!

    After this disturbing impression we were guided to the today's manufactury. We could watch a woman pressing veins into green cotton leaves (2000 kg pressure at 120°C!), another one fixing marigolds on stems, and a third one colouring poppies.
    AND: finally we had the possibility to ask questions.

    NO, there is no big production anymore. Artificial flowers now come from the Far East. We only produce for the shop downstairs. NO, we didn't deliver to English hatters on occasion of the royal wedding. Those flowers came from Wallroda (also nearby), from a manufacturer with better  connections to the WEST.

    Finally we were guided to the shop. Hard to believe, but there were only a few lifelike flowers, the bigger part had exchanged the natural look for stage potential (easy to be seen from the last row...)

    Tuesday, June 07, 2011

    Rose Carrarini's Pistachio Cakes

    One of my most loved cookbooks at the moment is Breakfast, Lunch, Tea from Rose Bakery in Paris.
    Rose Bakery offers a modern, simple and healthy cuisine, using first quality, organic ingredients from regional suppliers. Just what I'm  trying to do here in my everyday kitchen for my family and friends.

    One of Rose's recipes I tried out lately is the pistachio cake. I was looking for a nut cake, because I had some leftover roasted ground almonds waiting to be used. Hm, only 60g... well , in the drawer I still stored some hazelnuts,  pistachios and pine nuts from my last Almwiesenmuesli. I ground them all in the little Zyliss drum grater (highly recommendable: my best kitchen tool!) and tadaaa:  the required 200g!

    The original cake and the original recipe look like this:

     And here is my variation:

    250g butter
    200g sugar ( I took 25g less than in the original)
    grated zest of one lemon
    2 tablespoons rosewater (yes, it gives a very subtle and delicious flavour!)
    4 eggs
    200g ground almonds, pistachios, pine nuts and hazelnuts
    50g flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 pinch of salt

    Preheat the oven to 180° C.

    Butter  a 25cm cake tin or the cake tins you decide to use.

    Beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Mix in the lemon zest and the rosewater. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

    Now fold in the ground almonds, ground pistachios, flour, baking powder and salt.
    Pout the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 40 minutes. 30 minutes if you take smaller baking tins.

    I made no topping, because I liked the little Gugelhupfs just like that. Otherwise heat in a saucepan:

    50g pistachios , whole or chopped
    50g caster sugar
    grated zest and juice of on lemon
    and pour  the mixture over the cake.