Friday, December 14, 2012
I listened to the reports on NPR, and drove through a similar small quaint, rural New England town where everyone knows each other and kids are safe. A town where everyone believes that something like this can never happen.
I drove through my neighborhood, the streets leading up to my house, and realized that many of my neighbors had not turned on their christmas lights tonight.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The Carrot Soup
(makes 4 servings)
- 1 pound organic carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 1/2 red onion, small diced
- 1/2 TB butter
- 3 cups fresh pressed carrot juice
- 1/2 ts dried thyme
- 1/4 ts dried ginger
- salt to taste (or 1/2 ts Rapunzel organic vegetable bouillon)
- optional: 1/4 cup baked butternut squash or any other baked squash
Sunday, November 25, 2012
Spiced red cabbage with cloves, red wine, and red currant jam
(makes a large pot, about sides for 10 people)
- 1 medium sized head of red cabbage (ca. 2-3 pounds)
- 1 red onion, diced finely
- 1 TB butter or ghee (my mom’s recipe actual calls for bacon fat)
- 1 medium sized tart apple, finely diced (not peeled but core removed)
- 1/2 TB whole cloves (or 1/2 ts ground cloves, whole one are better)
- 1/2 TB juniper berries
- 1/2 cup of red wine (e.g. cabernet sauvignon or a good table blend)
- 1/4 cup of apple juice (if not using red wine, use more 1/2 cup of apple juice)
- salt, pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1-2 TB red current jam or black currant jelly(e.g. Bonne Maman or Schwartau)
- 1/2 TB beef broth concentrate, diluted in 2-3 TB of water
- optional: 1-2 TB aged good balsamic vinegar
Prep: quarter the red cabbage head, remove the core, and slice the quarters really thinly with a sharp knife (or use a mandoline) – the finer shredded, the better.
In a large cast iron pot, dutch oven or heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid, melt the butter or clarified butter and add the diced onion, and saute until slightly browned. Now, add the shredded cabbage, the cloves, juniper berries, the bay leaf, and the diced apple to the pot, and mix all ingredients well.
Add the red wine and the apple juice, and close with the tight fitting lid (there is no other liquid and make sure the steam from the gabbage does not evaporate but helps steam the cabbage). Turn heat on medium-low, and cook for ca. 20-25 min depending on how ‘crunchy’ or ‘well-done’ you like the cabbage to be cooked. Nevertheless, stir once in a while to make sure it does not burn on the bottom. If it gets too dry, add more apple juice.
Once the cabbage is tender, turn the heat to low, and add the red or black currant jelly or both, remove the bay leaf, add more salt and pepper to taste, and a half TB of beef broth concentrate (or bouillon) dissolved in some hot water. Mix well, and add a glug of balsamic vinegar to round out the flavor. Enjoy!
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
It is US Thanksgiving holiday week, work is winding down (I wish) and it is time to focus on cooking, turkeys, side dishes, buy good wine, and invite friends and family and/or be invited. To warm up, I cooked a beef bourguignon with some grass-fed local organic beef from the farmers market. While I am waiting for Guiliana and Bill to have their baby, I am writing this up.
Beef Bourguignon (makes ca 4 not too large servings):
- 4 oz smoked bacon, diced
- 1-2 TB olive oil
- 1 – 1 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 pound carrots, cut into larger cubes
- 1 large red onion, sliced
- 1 cloves of garlic, microplaned
- 1/4 cup cognac
- 1/2 bottle good dry red wine such as Cote du Rhone or Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2 cups of beef broth
- 1 TB tomato paste
- 1 ts fresh thyme leaves (1/2 ts dried)
- 1 bay leaf, fresh or dry
- 1/2 pound fresh whole pearl onions
- 1 TB butter
- 1/2 ts thyme, 1 bay leaf, salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup beef broth
- 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms stems discarded, caps thickly sliced
- 1/2 TB butter
- 1.5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Add the diced bacon to a large Dutch oven and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is releases the fat and is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate. Add the olive oil to the pan.
Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside. Add more olive oil if the pan gets too dry.
Again, add more olive oil if the pan is too dry at this point, and add the carrots, and onions to the dutch oven, 1 ts of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned and the carrots caramelized. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol (or just cook off). Add the braised meat and bacon back into the pot with all the juices.
Now, pour the 1/2 bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme and stir in. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 3-4 hours until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork (*).
(*) I used a very low-fat beef, and even after 4h in the oven it was still not tender. So, I placed the stew in a pressure cooker, the wonder weapon to get any meat tender, and cooked under pressure for another 30min. It was not perfect, but tender enough. If you are short on time, you can also cook the entire stew in the pressure cooker for about 45min.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Sunday, November 11, 2012
No one could make this cake like my great aunt. It is involved, you have to have patience, nurture it, and it richly rewards you. Just like my great aunt was, one of the best cooks and bakers and gardeners I’ve ever known. Aunt Jenny, this is for you!
Streuselkuchen (German Crumb Cake)
This recipe is for a 10-12 inch square or round spring form.
Special equipment: standmixer with dough hook (can also be kneaded manually).
- 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
- 3 TB warm milk
- 1 ts fast rising yeast
- 40 g sugar (divided, 1 ts for yeast + milk)
- 1 TB bakers milk powder (optional, but helps the yeast to rise)
- 5 TB (40 g) unsalted sweet cream butter, room temperature
- 1/2 egg (reserve other half for the crumbs)
- pinch of salt
In the bowl of a standmixer with the dough hook attachment, add the flour, 3 ts sugar and the bakers milk powder, and mix all three ingredients. Make a well in the flour, and pour the milk yeast mixture in it. Turn on the standmixer, and on slow mix the dry ingredients with the yeast mixture (do not yet add: butter, egg or salt since it interferes with the yeast). Once the yeast is well incorporated and distributed in the flour mix, add the butter, 1/2 egg and salt. Knead the dough on medium speed until it comes together as a ball (it will be crumbly for quite a while, ca. 10 min). If it does not come together after 15min of kneading, add 1 TB of warm milk. Once the dough forms a ball around the hook, continue kneading for another 15min on medium speed.
Now, remove dough from bowl of standmixer, and place in a metal, glass or ceramic bowl, and let rise for ca. 30min at a warm place. Time to make the crumbs!
- 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
- 125 g sugar
- 125 g unsalted sweet cream butter, room temperature
- 1/2 egg (reserve other half for the crumbs)
- 1/2 ts bitter almond extract
- 1 pouch Dr. Oetker Vanille sugar (or 1/2 ts liquid vanilla extract)
- pinch of salt
Stop the mixer, when the crumbs are at equal size.
Preheat the oven to 50-80F (warm). Spray a spring form with baking spray, and distribute the base dough into the pan.
Take a fork, and gently poke the dough all over the pan. Once done, brush lightly with some warm milk.
Now, distribute all the streusel on the cake evenly.
Place in the oven at 50F for about 45min for the yeast-based base layer to rise to about 0.5-1 inch thickness. After that, remove cake from oven, and preheat to 425F, and bake the cake for ca. 20-25min.
Before serving, sprinkle wit granulated sugar.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Borough Market is a produce and fresh fish and meat market for whole salers. On the weekend, it is open to the public at large.
A great place to have breakfast, oysters, or a glass of prosecco before produce shopping.
It's best to come around 9am when the market is still empty, private, and relaxed.
Food ranges from organic fruit to spanish ham and provence lavender.
Samples are available at most stands, and they alone a worth wandering the market.
The cheese is Switzerland, Netherlands, Italy and naturally some British goat cheese and Stilton.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Note: Instead of the 1 1/2 cups of butternut squash soup you can also use simply roasted butternut squash.
Vegan Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta Alfredo
(Makes 2 larger servings)
- 1 1/2 cup roasted butternut squash soup (or fresh roasted butternut squash)
- 3/4 cup hot water
- 1/3 cup soaked cashew nuts
- 1 TB nutritional yeast
- 1 1/2 TB mellow white miso, sodium reduced
- Rest of Alfredo sauce:
- 1 ts olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, quartered and thinly sliced using a mandoline
- 2 cloves garlic, microplaned
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon fresh sage, thinly sliced
- 1/3 ts of grated nutmeg
- 1/2 TB maple syrup
- Several dashes fresh black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 4 oz penne pasta, cooked al dente
- for garnish: fresh sage, pepittas or sunflower seeds, dried thyme
Pour all the ingredients for the sauce base into a food processor (best: Vitamix for extra smooth texture) and puree. In a pan, heat the olive oil, add the onions and saute until slightly brown. Add the garlic, and saute for about another 1 min. Add the white wine, and reduce for ca. 1 min. Now add the base butternut squash base cream, and gently stir in. Add the sage, nutmeg, and maple syrup, and simmer on medium-low for a few minutes until slightly reduced. Add salt and paper to taste.
Add in the cooked pasta, and stir until the pasta is coated, and heat through for about 1 min. Serve with fresh sage, roasted squash seeds (caramelized!) and some dry thyme. Enjoy!
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
- 1/2 TB olive oil
- 1 shallot, peeled and diced
- 1 hot red chili, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, microplaned
- 1 small butternut squash (ca 1-1 1/2 pounds), cut in half
- 2 small carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 stalks of celery, wiped clean and diced
- 3-4 cups vegetable broth
- Salt and pepper
- optional: orange peel of 1/2 orange
- crème fraiche, to serve
In a large pot, heat 1/2 TB of olive oil. Once hot, add the diced shallot and the chopped red chili, stir and cook until softened (ca. 2-3 min). Add the diced carrots, the celery and the garlic and continue to cook for another 3-5 minute. Cut the soft and baked butternut squash into 2 inch pieces and add to the pot (if it is an organic squash you can leave on the squash skin; it will thicken the soup. If it is not organic, only use the flesh). Add the broth, and cook the soup for about 20 min until all vegetables are softened. Season with salt and pepper and fresh orange peel (optional). Using an immersion blender, and purée the hot soup. Serve with creme fraiche, or in my case with goat cheese crumbles, walnuts and cranberries.
Monday, October 22, 2012
Marbled Bundt Cake
- 3 cups all0purp0se flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided into a 1/2 cup and a 2 cup portion
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 TB espresso powder
- 1/2 cup bittersweet mini chocolate chips
- 3 tablespoons milk, at room temperature
- 2 sticks of unsalted butter (cold from the fridge warm for 20 sec in microwave)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 5 large organic free-range eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup whole milk
In a medium bowl, whisk together 3 cups flour, the baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a separate medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder and 2 TB milk. Whisk until mixture is smooth. Set aside.
Place the 2 sticks of melted butter and 2 cups sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high until the mixture is blended, about 1 minute. Add in vanilla extract and continue beating until combined. Add the 5 eggs, one at a time, beating each egg until it has been incorporated. Now, turn mixer down to its lowest speed and add the flour mixture (from the first step) in three additions, alternating with the whole milk in two additions and mixing just until blended.
Add 2 cups of batter (from the fourth step) to the cocoa mixture and stir until blended.
Using a spatula, pour enough vanilla batter into the pan to fill the bottom. Now the chocolate batter on top of the vanilla mixture and distributed well. Finish with the vanilla layer. Use a chop stick and draw it once through the cake better to get the marbling.
Bake for 55 - 60 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool cake in the pan on a cooling rack for 15 minutes, before turning out to cool completely.
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
What better to do on a rainy, cold October evening than to warm and sweeten it up with a small marbled bundt cake!
Small marbled bundt cake (for small, 6 cup bundt cake pan)
- 10 T. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 c. sugar (135 grams)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 free-range organic eggs
- 1 2/3 c. (185 grams) all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 ts baking soda
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 c. cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 350F.
Cream butter, sugar and salt together for several minutes until light and fluffy (best in a standmixer). Add vanilla extract and one egg at a time. Mix well, and add in second egg.
Sift flour with baking powder and baking soda. Add flour in two parts, alternating with half of the buttermilk each time. Divide batter equally into two bowls.Sift cocoa over the batter in one bowl and mix well. Add 1 tablespoon of milk to cocoa batter to thin.
Spray the bundt form with a baking spray. Place half of the “white” batter in the form or pan. Add all of the dark/chocolate batter on top and distributed around the form with a spatula. Finish with the remaining white batter. Place a spatula vertically in the batter and draw it around the form once to swirl. Smooth the top.
Place the cake in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out cleanly. Remove from oven, cool slightly and then turn out on a cake rack to cool further.
Home-made chocolate glaze:
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 TB unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup confectioners sugar
- 2 tablespoons warm milk
- 1 ts rum extract
- 1 ts vanilla
Pour the chocolate chips in a glass bowl or a ceramic bowl, and set it over a pot with boiling water on the stove (the bowl should not touch the water). Stir continuously until the chocolate chips start to melt. Add in the butter, and melt it with the chocolate chips. Once it is all a creamy, lump-free consistency, add in the milk, the rum and vanilla extract. Once incorporated, take the bowl off the pot, and continue to stir while adding in the confectioners sugar. Keep stirring. Brush the cake with the chocolate glaze. The glaze will thicken when cooled, and it is great to have a 1/4 of an inch thick glaze on the cake. (Leftover chocolate glaze is great on graham crackers… )
Let cool and dry for about 4-5h before serving. The cake actually tastes better with time; at the beginning it is dry and light and slightly crumbly, and after a week it becomes moist with an intense nutty flavor. It should be stored cool and airtight.