Friday, August 29, 2014

little pasta factory

Cousin Klaus encouraged us strongly to finally inaugurate our little Ampia macchina per pasta to make ravioli con scallops and chives on our own, one of his favourite and "super quick" recipes.
Thankfully there are youtube tutorials about everything , so first of all we took a video lesson in how to use the Ampia. In case you are interested, the video is here.

The dough: combine 300g durum wheat semolina  and 3 eggs, first mix it with the hooks of the mixer or with your hands until the dough is smooth. Let it rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour or for the night.

Cut it in pieces and roll every piece with a rolling pin, like in photo n°1. Then introduce it into the macchina per pasta.

As for the filling we improvised (don't tell cousin Klaus) (we had no scallops at home and no motivation to get them). Instead we took smoked salmon, cream cheese and chives. Later on we went a bit wild with the Ampia creating all the possible shapes and widths, until the evening turned into a real pasta feast.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

apple tart: puff pastry and home-grown apples

Sometimes it's so easy to make my family happy. For example with an unexpected and beautiful dessert.
A few sheets of puff pastry and enough apple slices to cover the bottom of a baking dish.  Apricot jam to be brushed onto the tart while it's still hot. That's it. (Although I have to admit that a leftover of sirupy mirabelle liqueur in my fridge came perfectly well to marinate the apple slices. ) If you don't have mirabelle liqueur lemon juice will be equally fine.

apple tart: puff pastry and home-grown apples

4 sheets of frozen puff pastry 
3-4 apples, quartered and finely sliced
apricot jam
mirabelle liqueur or freshly squeezed lemon juice to marinate the apple slices
icing sugar

While the puff pastry thaws, peel, quarter and finely slice the apples. Marinate the apples with liqueur or lemon juice.
Roll out the thawed sheets of puff pastry. Put one of them aside to later form the covering grid. Butter the baking dish and cover the bottom with the remaining puff pastry.

Spread the apple slices evenly onto the pastry dough and finally cover with the pastry grid.

Bake for 20 minutes at 180°C or until the pastry dough turns golden. Out of the oven, brush the tart generously with apricot jam. Before serving, sprinkle the tart with icing sugar.

Donna Hay's spiced chickpea salad

Donna Hay's cookbook Fresh and Light is the quintessence of 21st century cuisine. She offers a joyful, varied and sensible kitchen that gives an alternative to the current trend of restrictive cooking, wheat-free, sugar-free, lactose-free, gluten-free, fruit-free, to name a few. She invites to use fresh, seasonal and regional products, and substitutes traditional ingredients for their healthier equivalent.  Donna made sure that all her recipes are easy and quick to prepare. After all; overly complicated cooking instructions just make convenience food seem all the more appealing.

It was hard to pick just one of her enticing dishes for this introduction of her book.  She actually translates my own way of thinking  and cooking into beautiful creations....

Donna Hay's spiced chickpea salad
(slightly adapted)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon smokes sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
250g chickpeas (soaked over night and cooked )
3 carrots , peeled and shredded using a julienne peeler
a few mint leaves
a few coriander (cilantro) leaves
some dollops fresh goat cheese (combine wonderfully with the dressing!)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil, extra

Heat a large non-stick frying pan over high heat. Add the oil, cumin, paprika, salt and ground fennel seeds. Cook for two minutes or until fragrant. Add the chickpeas and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the chickpea are toasted and coated in spices.

Place the carrots, coriander, mint, lemon juice, honey and extra olive oil in a bowl and toss to combine. Add the chickpeas and mix in gently. Divide between serving plates and top with the dollops of goat cheese.

p & p with ginger

p &p with ginger

1 red bell pepper
1 apple
1 peach
1cm piece ginger

Juice the apple, the ginger and the bell pepper, blend with the peach and the ice cubes. Serve on the rocks!

clafoutis aux mirabelles

Yesterday we picked the first sun-kissed mirabelles from the tree. Although the season has not yet started I love to enjoy the first bright yellow, but still firm and slightly acidic mirabelles in a clafoutis, sooo good!

Clafoutis aux mirabelles

1 tablespoon butter, softened
5 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons mirabelle brandy (kirsch or rum are fine)
5 eggs
3/4 cups flour
a pinch of sea salt
3 cups mirabelles, pitted

Distribute the mirabelles evenly in a buttered baking dish.

Combine butter, milk, eggs, sugar, salt, brandy and vanilla in a blender. Blend for a few seconds, add the flour and blend again until smooth. Pour the mixture over the mirabelles.

Bake at 180°C for 35 minutes, until golden brown.  It's fine if the clafoutis is still moist inside. 
Sprinkle with dusting powder. Enjoy!

juice art

My morning juice as it came out of  the juicer.

Ingredients, juiced in the following order:
1 apple
1/4 cucumber
a piece of celery
a piece of courgette
a piece of lemon
2 carrots
1 small beetroot

Perfect start into the day!

raw pasta sauce: double tomato, caper and basil sauce

double tomato, caper and basil sauce
serves 2

2 fresh and ripe tomatoes
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and soaked
a few basil leaves
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
grated parmesan

While cooking the pasta, chop the tomatoes and the basil. Mix the ingredients in a bowl. Toss through 200g hot pasta, sprinkle with parmesan, pepper and salt.

Hope you'll feel inspired by our delicious lunch today!


Dukkah is an Egyptian spiced nut and seed mix. Perfect to enjoy just with bread and olive oil.
Today I paired it with fresh ricotta and Duca Carlo Guarini's L'Agrumato al Limone, a native olive oil infused with the aroma of Apulian lemons. Add a glass of Campo di Mare  Negroamaro  from the same Apulian Azienda Agraria and you are in heaven!


1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 teaspoon sea salt

The basic ingredients are always nuts, sesame seeds, coriander seeds, cumin, black pepper and salt. As for the range of nuts you may substitute the hazelnuts by almonds, you may add pine nuts, pistachios  or cashews. If you like you may also experiment with dried thyme, mint, anise seeds, fennel seeds or chili.

Roast the nuts in the oven for 8-10 minutes at 180°C.

Roast the seeds in a skillet over medium heat. Sake and stir them frequently, until they crackle and become slightly browned.

Scrape them into a bowl together with the hazelnuts. Add the salt.

You may grind the mixture in a mortar or in a food processor until the mixture is well ground, but not too fine. I pestle the nuts, seeds and spices in my suribachi because there's no better way to inhale the still warm flavours of Egypt!

Store dukkah in an airtight glass at room temperature.

minty sunshine with beetroot

2  oranges
3 carrots
1 small bulb raw beetroot
1-2 cm chunk root ginger
4 sprigs fresh mint

Pour over ice and enjoy!

Russell James' Mexican tomato soup

Lately I discovered Russell James, England's leading raw chef. I browsed through his food blog and watched a couple of his videos. He made me curious. What would be hiding behind his "top 10 most-loved raw recipes"? I must confess, until now raw cuisine hadn't convinced me: too fat, too sweet, too many dates and soaked cashews.

"Amazing recipe n°8", however, caught my immediate attention. The result? Absolutely delicious!

mexican tomato soup
(slightly adapted)

1 cup ripe tomatoes
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked for an hour
1/2 avocado
1 tablespoon red onion
a few twigs of fresh cilantro
a few leaves of fresh mint
a small piece fresh chili pepper
1 clove garlic
2 soft (or soaked) dates
1/2 teaspoon dried coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
juice from 1/2 lime

500ml hot or cold water

Mix all ingredients in a blender, before serving decorate with chopped spring onions, chives, cilantro and slices of lime.
As an additional topping I roasted cashes and sunflower seeds.

juicy breakfast

Jason Vale's Minty Sunshine, Tahini Beaney, and Veggie Power, all freshly juiced and blended!  Except for the pink intruder. I bought it because I wanted the little glass bottle, perfect for take-away.... Nevertheless in comparison to our  fresh juices it was the perfect proof that the difference fresh versus pasteurized is enormous.

Minty Sunshine 

2 oranges
3 carrots
1-2 cm chunk root ginger
4 sprigs fresh mint
a small handful ice cubes

Juice all ingredients. Pour the juice over ice and enjoy!

Veggie Power Smoothie

2 apples
1 handful spinach
1 handful kale
1/2 lemon, wax free with the skin on)
1/2 stick celery
1/4 cucumber
2 cm chunk broccoli stem
1/2 avocado
a small handful ice cubes

Juice all ingredients except the avocado and the ice. Pour the juice into the blendert along with the avocado and the ice and blend until smooth.

Tahini Beaney

almond milk
1 large teaspoon honey
1 small teaspoon tahini
1 banana
a small handful ice cubes

Put the ice, banana, tahini and honey in a blender and fill up to the 500ml line with almond milk  and blend.

Fresh juices are true nutritional powerhouses which give you the energy to get you through the day without snacking.

homemade almond milk

Since I learned to make almond milk I use it for smoothies, chai, hot chocolate,for cooking and baking and to soak my overnight muesli in it. The taste is light and crisp and the texture is amazingly creamy.
From a health perspective it's low in fat and calories but high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.  It contains vitamins and minerals such as copper, zinc, iron, magnesium, manganese, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and selenium. 

Homemade almond milk

2 handfuls  (or 1 1/2 cups) of raw almonds
1l water + water for soaking

Soak the almonds over night and rinse the morning after.
Blend the almonds with 1l fresh water.
Strain the milk through a small-meshed sieve and save the pulp for later.

Almond milk can be kept in the refrigerator for 4-7 days, covered. It will usually need stirring or shaking before serving, to remix the liquid.

I use the pulp for baking experiments.

little almond cake 

my essential ingredients:
the almond pulp (well drained but still moist)
1 tablespoon coconut oil or ghee
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1 egg (can be substituted by 1/2 mashed ripe banana)

my additional  ingredients to experiment with:
cocoa powder
shredded coconut
ground canihua
coconut flour
whole wheat flour
whole pine nuts
chopped nuts and seeds
oat flakes
vanilla extract

Fill the chosen ingredients into a large bowl, combine with your hands, fill the dough into a baking mould and bake for 20 minutes at 180°C.

Actually you can't do any wrong. If the dough feels too dry you just add a sip of freshly made almond milk. If it's too moist, you add some more of the dry ingredients.

Louisa's ramen

Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup, quick and easy to prepare and very versatile due to the variety of possible toppings (just raid your fridge!).

Louisa's ramen
serves 2

a package of Mie noodles
1l vegetable broth
2 tablespoons fresh white Miso paste
1 drop of roasted sesame oil

spring onions, finely sliced
carrots, finely sliced with a peeler
a few twigs of cilantro, chopped; we used blended and frozen cilantro
2 soft boiled egg halves

Cook the ramen noodles according to the package instructions (most ramen noodles need only 3 minutes to cook). Drain and rinse with cold water.
Bring the vegetable broth to a boil, add the noodles, remove from the heat and stir in the miso. Ladle the soup into the bowls. Top each bowl with carrots, spring onions, cilantro and the egg halves.

If you plan to go deeper into ramenology, don't miss to watch this video about ramen chef Ivan Orkin.


I always wondered how to give kohlrabi a bit more sex appeal. 
I mean I loved my mother's  homely kohlrabi with cream sauce and roast potatoes, but this good old German meal is rather heavy and not too fun. My new favorite alternative is to roast kohlrabi slices in the oven, then build them into towers with a Mediterranean or a Thai stir-fry. Instant sophistication. Sweet potato slices are a nice addition too.

kohlrabi towers
serves 2

2 kohlrabis, each cut into 4 slices
1/2 sweet potato, sliced

Thai stir-fry:
1/2 Spanish onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
a small piece of ginger, chopped
a small piece of chili, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
2 teaspoons of fresh (or frozen) cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 twigs of lemon basil 

Oven roast the slices of kohlrabi and sweet potato at 200°C for 20 minutes.

Stir-fry the chopped ingredients in a pan until they soften and begin to fill the kitchen with a mouth-watering scent.
(For the mediterranean stir-fry replace the ginger and the cilantro with tomato, rosemary and thyme).

Pile up little towers and decorate the plates with the basil sprigs. The basil isn't just decoration, it gives an amazing flavour to the dish.

potato-cucumber soup

Potato-cucumber soup is a true summer classic in our family. The secret behind this savoury soup is to first stir-fry the potatoes with the onions and to add the fresh cucumbers only in the last minutes. So two  irresistible flavours melt together.  

potato-cucumber soup

1 tablespoon olive oil or ghee
1kg potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large, fresh cucumber, peeled, seeds removed and diced
1 onion, chopped
1 spring onion, thinly sliced
vegetable stock, enough to cover the potatoes
1 teaspoon mustard
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil or the ghee (if you prefer a buttery taste) in a saucepan.
Add the onions and the potatoes, stir-fry until the onions are glassy and the potatoes have taken a little bit of colour.
Cover the potatoes with vegetable stock and let the soup slightly boil until the potatoes are done.

Add the diced cucumber and let it warm up for two or three minutes.

Add the mustard and blend the soup with a hand blender.
Finally, add salt and black pepper to taste and sprinkle with the sliced spring onion.

Serve it hot or cold. Enjoy!

the colours of summer: vegetables right from the oven

Today I won't supply you with an ingredient list because it's entirely up to your taste buds which vegetables you choose for this simple dish. Simply cut them into bits of similar thickness (so that everything is ready at the same time), drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and chuck onto an oven pan in eye pleasing constellations. 200°C and about 20 minutes should do the trick. We had it with a  goat camembert, which was just delicious.

guacamole with sardines in a tin

Homemade Guacamole is an alltime favourite for summer days. It is super easy and fast to make, we serve it as a light lunch, as snack or as a dip for a barbecue.  Yesterday we spread our guacamole on slices of rye bread and topped it with sardines.

The avocado contains all 6 human nutritional needs in abundance: water, fat (essential natural fats), protein, natural sugar, vitamins (B,C, E and K) and minerals (potassium, calcium, iron and phosphorus). Rich in monounsaturated fatty acids the avocado helps to reduce levels of "bad" cholesterol in the blood.  So don't be fooled by avocado's bad reputation as a high-fat food, actually it provides us with unique health benefits.

serves 2

2 ripe avocados
1 tomato, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
a few dashes of Tabasco
sea salt (or Himalayan salt) and grated black pepper
the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon

I don't use the blender to combine the ingredients, but smash the avocados with a fork, add the remaining ingredients and season with pepper and salt.