Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tortilla Soup

It’s summer. Summer and Mexican food go well together, spicy, lime-y, tomatoes, pickled jalapenos, cilantro, ceviche, taco, chips… Even soups are appealing. This is a simple Mexican tortilla summer soup.


Tortilla Soup

  • 1 ts olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 fresh jalapeno, finely diced
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 small can fire roasted diced tomatoes, purreed
  • 1/2 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cp fresh or frozen corn
  • 1 summer squash, thinly sliced
  • 1 TB ground cumin
  • 1 ts smoked paprika
  • 1 ts oregano
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 chicken breast, boneless and skinless (can be frozen) (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves

In a large saucepan heat the olive oil. Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes. Once the onions have softened add the garlic and jalapenos and cook for another minute. Pour the tomatoes, chicken broth, beans, corn and chicken breast into the pot and bring to a boil. Once at a boil lower heat to simmer. Cook the chicken for 20 to 25 minutes. Once chicken is cooked remove from pot. When cool enough to handle shred it and put back in the pot. Add the fresh cilantro to the pot.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Scallop season

It feels like this month stretches endlessly. Which is ok, because it is summer, and what better than for a summer month to stretch endlessly. The stores have ‘back to school’ isles stacked, and the clothing stores have the first fall wardrobe. Party poopers. The summer squash plants in the garden now produce based on where I planted them: in the old part of the raised bed, or the new addition filled with the Maine lobster compost. Those plants are about 5 times as big, and produce summer squash in record time. Therefore, most meals now include some fresh yellow squash.


Like the lunch with seared fresh scallops from Stonigton via the farmers market. Yesterday, I even found the first chanterelles in the woods. As good as summer feels” scallops, brown butter, chanterelles, fresh peas and a dab of crème fraiche.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Summer shoe itinerary

I am not sure what it is with me, summer and shoes. My shoe buying seems to gain a significant spike in the summer. This year I am trying to find the perfect Dansko sandal. I’ve been through a few iterations like the Dansko Nigella, the Dankso Tilly and Tasha (both keepers) (7.5/8 size matches best with 38) and now I am trying my luck with Swedish hasbeens (they actually run true to size). I am sure next year it will be a different fad (last year it was birkenstocks).

And then, there is buying new running shoes. Since I don’t follow what is the best running shoe on a regular basis, I look up the Runner’s Magazine recommendation in the year I buy new shoes. This is how I found same asics a few years ago, and they’ve been perfect. This time I was ready to branch out.

How about Brooks Adrenaline GTS 14?


Online shopping can be cheaper or not cheap at all ($10,999 for a pair of Brooks on Amazon?)



Buying running shoes calls for trying them on and walking around. In the end it came down to these two models for my personal best fit (high arches); the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 14 or the Asics Gel-Nimbus 16.

The Asics have the perfect amount of cushioning, and would be a great pair of new running shoes. However, the colors of this shoe are hideous: like they dropped the shoes in a children’s paint set.


Ultimately, I went with the Brooks Adrenaline, very comfortable, very good fit all around the foot, lightweight and perfect also for other sports like body pump, zumba, and the like. Hot pink and dark gray are also colors I can live with.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

German Summer Strawberry Cake

The other day I found a brandnew cake pan at a flea market that is perfect for making the bottom cake layer of a typically German fruit cake. A fruit cake is none-specific because it is made in the same manner, but the fruit varies based on season or in the winter with canned (peaches!) or frozen fruit. A fruit cake is similar to a French fruit tart – both are made with fresh fruit. However,  the ‘crust’ of the German bottom layer is more like a sponge cake and it is also inverted: the pan is filled completely with dough, baked and then turned upside down. Therefore, the cake pan needs to be the right one (like this, for example).

I baked the bottom layer, the farmers market had the last strawberries of the season, the German team won the world cup in soccer, so the fate of the cake was sealed: German strawberry cake!

Check this great video for more complete instructions (the cake layer is made as a more authentic sponge).


Fresh Strawberry Cake

Base Layer:

  • 100 g sugar
  • 4 TB butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 0.5 ts vanilla extract
  • 150 g flour
  • 1 ts baking powder
  • 0.3 cup milk

Strawberry Cake

  • 1 quart fresh strawberries, dehulled, cut in half if they are large, otherwise keep whole
  • 3-4 TB strawberry jam
  • 1 cup vanilla pudding (store-bought or from scratch or with help of pudding mix)
  • 500 ml milk (for pudding)
  • 1 TB butter (for pudding)
  • 1 package Dr Oetker fruit tart red or clear glaze (a yello-like glaze that gets firm when it cools and keeps the fruit in place)+2 TB sugar + 250ml water  (optional)

Base layer: You need a pan similar to this one for baking the base layer. Make sure to butter it well because you don’t want the cake to stick.


Preheat oven to 360F. In a standmixer (or with handmixer), mix the sugar and butter until slightly foamy. Add the egg, and mix until well incorporated. Add the vanilla extra, and mix in. Mix the flour with the baking powder, and slowly add to the mixture, alternate with tablespoons of the milk.

Pour into butter pan, and bake for 20-25min.

Cool slightly, invert, and cool completely (it is best to make the crust a day ahead).


Preparing the strawberry cake:

Wash and hull the strawberries. Cut larger strawberries in half, keep smaller ones in tact. They should all be about the same size.

Poke the crust with a fork, and then distribute the strawberry jam on the crust. Ideally, it soaks the crust a little bit. If you use frozen fruit, preserve the juice when thawing and mix with the jam before distributing.

Prepare the vanilla pudding according to instructions. Let cool for 1-2 min, and distribute a thin layer on the cake layer. Let cool. (you won’t need all the pudding cooked).

Now, arrange the strawberries on the cake, in a circle from outward to inner circles. Sprinkle with a bit of sugar.

Optional (but authentic): Cook the glaze according to instructions and pour hot over the fruit. Start from the center of the cake and slowly distributed to the rim.

Let cool and set. ---- Serve with whipped cream!

Einen guten Appetit!