August 11, 2010

Plum Flaugnarde

Ever heard of flaugnarde? No? I am sure most of you have already made it many times. After all it is the same dessert as a clafoutis. Well, almost. The batter is the same, but if it is not made with cherries it is called flaugnarde and not clafoutis. I didn't know this until now. I baked my first cla...excuse me ;) flaugnarde about 2 years ago with rhubarb. If I am not mistaking I haven't ever had one with cherries. Although, last weekened I bought the last bunch of local cherries of this summer from my greengrocer, but those didn't survive a day. So, I decided to use plums instead, and to give it a tiny kick, I poched them in a spicy syrup before baking. I didn't want to use too many flavours, so I only added star anise, clove and cinnamon to the syrup, but feel free to pimp it with further spices such as sichuan pepper, or fresh ginger.

6 plums
100 g sugar
1 star anise
3 cloves
1 piece of cinnamon stick
2 eggs
80 g flour
80 g butter
60 g sugar
150 ml milk

Bring to sugar with 200 ml water and the spices to the boil, remove it from the heat and put the plums into the syrup. Let it stand for about 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 180°C. Melt butter and let it cool. Butter 4 oven-proof forms. Peel and slice the plums and put it on the bottom of the form. Whisk the eggs slightly with a fork and stir in the flour. Stir in the butter, the sugar and the milk at the end. Pour it over the plums and bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve with cinnamon sugar.

August 10, 2010

Passata di pomodoro

Those who read my blog regularly may know that I am not only an onion junkie, but I am also absolutely mad about tomatoes. A friend of mine told me, that I spend more money on vegetables than a normal woman on shoes. Well, he might be right...and I don't mind it! Especially, in summer when all those wonderful heirloom veggies are available! There are two places where I usually buy tomatoes, and those you can call a real paradise! One is a tiny organic shop that sells about 5 kind of tomatoes and about 8 types of cocktail tomatoes the whole summer and the begining of autumn, and another farmer's shop that sells at least 6 varieties from Green Zebra to St. Pierre.

In the past, I hated cooked tomatoes, meanwhile I love it and can't get enough of pasta with any kind of tomato sauce. After all I have missed it for long years! Anyway, I used to buy one special passata di pomodoro, but the shop where I bought it has closed, and I haven't found it nearby. Since then, I have tried several other types, but none of them was at least half that tasty like that one and most have anyway citric acid (and rarely even other ingredients) in it, where that specific one had only tomatoes and salt. And an amazing taste!

Lately, I have had enough of experimenting, so I decided to cook my own. I was sure, that it is not gonna taste like that magical one, and it doesn't, but it is still gorgeous in comparison to the rest of the available tomato purées. Besides I have the
possibility to experiment with all the different kind of tomatoes. I have cooked the passata only with a little salt, no further herbs or spices, these I am gonna add while cooking with it, depending on what I am going to prepare.

500 g tomatoes
50 ml water
1 teaspoon salt

Dice tomaotes and together with the water and the salt, bring it to the boil, puree and sieve to remove any rests of the skin. Put it back to the pot and bring it once more to the boil, fill it hot into bottles
and let them cool covered by a blanket over night. It should keep for several months if the bottles were sterlized before. In case you do not trust it that way, freeze it.

August 9, 2010

Banana Parfait

Although, I've promised myself not to end up again with over-ripe bananas, I did. However, I had no lust to cook jam or bake banana bread or to make those delicious beignets. I was kind of hopeless about finding a solution. Then I remembered Heston Blumenthal's Baked Alaska, that contains a banana parfait, so I thought why not. This parfait has an amazing consistency, the best I have ever prepared!


115 g hazelnuts
375 g sugar
500 g very ripe bananas
20 g butter
30 g unrefined sugar
50 g rum
375 g double cream
6 egg whites

Preheat the oven to 150°C and roast hazelnuts until golden brown. Then caramelise the hazelnuts in a hot pan with 115 g sugar. Tip the caramelised nuts on to a baking paper and let
cool. Once cooled smash or grind them into coarse pieces.

Peel the bananas and slice into slices about 1 cm thick. Melt butter and add the unrefined sugar and stir until a caramel forms. Add the sliced bananas and sauté. When the bananas are
coated add rum, and light the alcohol and countinue to cook until the caramel becomes thick enough to coat the bananas again. Pass the caramlised bananas through a sieve and set aside. Whip the cream until it becomes thick and refrigarate until needed. Whisk the egg whites until frothy, add about one-quarter of the remaining sugar and countinue whisking while slowly adding the rest of the sugar. Whisk for about 5-10 minutes until soft peaks form. Add the hazelnut praline to the banana puree, then fold in a third of the meringue to loosen the mixture. Fold in the rest and the whipped cream. Freeze for 2-3 hours depending on the size of the portions.

August 7, 2010

Courgette "pizza"

Last weekend I watched a cooking show on a German channel with Tim Mälzer, who is a well-known cook in Germany. He was also one of the first cooks who's recipes I tried and also one of his cookbooks was the first I've bought. That Saturday afternoon he baked an asparagus pizza, not with a usual pizza dough, but one with quark. I had no idea what to prepare today for dinner, when I remembered that recipe. I thought why not give it a try. It was absolutely delicious and it is prepared so quickly! Besides if you forgot to make your pizza dough early enough, it is a great alternative! It is actually kind of a mix between a pizza and an Alsatian tarte flambée. Of course I haven't used asparagus as it is no longer in season, but some courgette, spring onions, bacon and crème fraîche.


80 g quark (20% fat)
3 tablespoons olive oil (i forgot to add)
1 egg
175 g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Whisk quark, oil and the egg together. Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and knead a dough. Preheat oven to 230°C. Roll out dough and add anything you desire on top and bake for 15-20 minutes.

August 6, 2010

Za'atar Lamb

Za'atar is a spice mixture made from dried herbs (such as oregano, thyme or majoram) mixed with sesame seeds and other spices. Traditinally, that other spice is sumac. It is used in the Arab cuisine as well as in Turkey and Jordan. It can be used as a seasoning on meat, vegetables or may be sprinkled on top of bowl of hummus.

On Tuesday, when I prepared the garam masala, I wanted to cook something spicy and unusual to me. I had a nice piece of lamb, but had no clear idea what to prepare. So the day before I marinated the lamb in olive oil, garlic and thyme. I thought this can't be wrong no matter what I am gonna cook. Somewhen late night, when I woke up to some noise, I had the
sudden idea to combine the lamb with chickpeas, so I grabbed the bag and drown a good handful in water. The next day, the dish was born: spicy chickpea and couscous among the za'atar flavoured lamb, cucumber coulis and crème fraîche in order to balance the spiciness.

100 g chickpeas, dried
50 g couscous
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 onion
1 garlic clove
1 cm fresh ginger
1 chili
200 g tomatoes
lemon juice

Cook chickpeas or use tinned, prepare the couscous as written on the package. Cut tomatoes in pieces and among some salt cook for about 10 minutes, then pass it through a sieve and set
this puree aside. Heat oil, add the curry powder, garam masala and stir for about half a minute. Add chopped (in my case grated) onion, garlic, ginger and chili (cut in half in case you want to remove it or chopped) and fry until the onion is softened. Add the chickpeas, about 150 ml water, salt and cook until the water has been absorbed. Stir in the couscous and the tomato puree, season with salt and lemon juice.

Blueberry&Black Currant Jam

It seems that this summer my favourite berry is black currant. Unfortunately, last week it was the last harvest on the farm where I usually get it from. I decided to cook a small portion of jam, to have a little jar of summer during the cold winter days.

250 g bluberries

250 g black currant
50 ml port wine
300 g sugar

Bring the fruits among the port wine to boil with the sugar and cook for about 45-50 minutes
or as long as it has reached the desired thickness. Put it into jars and let them cool covered by a blanket over night.

August 3, 2010

Garam Masala

Garam masala is a basic blend of ground spices common in the Indian cuisine, especially important in the North-Indian part. Probably, there are as many variation as cooks. Some common ingredients are black and/or white peppercorns, cloves, black cumin, cumin seeds, cinnamon, black, brown and green cardamom, nutmeg or mace, star anise and coriander seeds. Some, that are based on pepper and clove, can be pretty hot, others, that are based on mace, cinnamon and cardamom, are rather mild and aromatic. If you add black pepper, but do not want to use the mixture immediately, then do not do so, because this may change the whole character of your mixture as time goes by.

I decided to prepare a mixture that is common in the Punjab area. It is spicy and hot, but the great thing about these mixtures is that you can play with the amount of ingredients as you desire.

1 stick cinnamon
2 bay leaves
20 g cumin
15 g coriander seeds
10 g green cardamom pods
10 g black pepper
7 g clove
7 g ground mace

Break cinnamon stick in pieces, crumble bay leaves. Roast spices for 2-3 minutes over medium heat, until they begin to get dark. Let it cool and grind together with the mace. Some sources say not to roast the spices for this mixture, so it is up to you! The mixture can be kept for 3-4 months.

Blackcurrant Parfait & Raspberry Sorbet

This dessert was born using some leftover raspberries and blackcurrants. It is a refreshing summer treat, because it is not that sweet at all and it is also prepared pretty fast. The only thing that is missing here is the warm sunny weather, it feels rather like autumn already!

500 g raspberry
70 g sugar
2 tablespoons water

Heat sugar with water until it is dissolved, let it cool and pour it over the raspberries. Puree, sieve to remove seeds and let the rest of the work do your ice cream maker.

2 egg yolks
50 ml blackcurrant syrup

1 tablespoon port wine
200 ml heavy cream

Over steam beat egg yolk, blackcurrant syrup and port wine until nice and foamy. Let it cool and stir in 200 ml beaten heavy cream. Pour it into the form and freeze for at least 3 hours.

August 2, 2010

The tiny snail and the swiss chard sauce

Last week, I visited an old neighbour of mine and she gave me a bunch of fresh swiss chard right from her garden. The next day I planned to prepare fish, though the whole week I had no idea what vegetable I should include in the dish. Therefore I was more than happy about the swiss chard.

I love to improvise in the kitchen, and it seems, that my favourite main ingredient for that is fish, usually sea bass (from breed, according to the WWF list that is recommendable). I decided to use the green and white parts of the chard separately. So from the white parts I cooked a puree together with spring onion heads and a touch of mustard. The green parts ended up as a sauce and the whole dish was served among some fried king
trumpet mushroom and caramelised spring onion.

100 g swiss chard leaves
25 g butter
125 g vegetable stock
salt, pepper

Slice swiss chard leaves, melt a teaspoon butter and sweat over low heat for 3 minutes while stirring. Add vegetable stock and cook for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat and let it stand for another 5 minutes and blend. Pass it through a sieve and reheat until it starts bubbling, then take off the heat and whisk in the rest of the butter. Season with salt and pepper.

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