February 15, 2011

Sweet and Sour Pumpkin

It happened that I have bought far too many pumpkins in autumn. The best proof of this is that I have used the last one only today. I had many plans with it, first I wanted to cook a soup, then a puree, after I had the idea of baking a cake, but somehow I never did any of these. Well, I did not dare to leave the pumpkin in the pantry any longer so finally I had to prepare something. I decided to make some kind of a preserve with a sweet and sour taste. Though I am not a fan of that, but I haven't tried in that way yet, so I was curious enough to go for it. After all pumpkin and orange is a great match and with some cinnamon you can't go wrong. I can't wait to try the pumpkin in a few days!


200 g pumpkin
500 ml water

300 g sugar
juice and zest of 2 oranges
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4 stick cinnamon
2 tablespoons apple vinegar
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

Peel and deseed the pumpkin and cut in slices or small cubes. Bring the water together with the sugar and the rest of the ingredients over low heat to the boil. Let it cook for 10 minutes, then add the pumpkin and cook it for 2-3 more minutes. Fill it into jars and let it marinate for at least 2 days.

February 10, 2011

Beet Ravioli with Goat Cheese

Slowly, I am getting back on track and start to cook again, after all lately, I haven't really cooked anything special. That lamb meal was also a pretty weak trial, but at least I did not stop cooking completly. On the other side, sometimes we all need to take a break. I can not tell you how many weeks I spent with thinking about these ravioli. I was almost totally blocked. The problem was, that I wanted to use too many ingriedents in this simple dish. Simplicity is always better!

It seems that I have a period of goat cheese-beetroot this winter, the last time they came in a form of gnocchi. So the plan was to make a beetroot pasta and stuff it with goat cheese, but I did not know if it should be a dessert, a main course or something in between. At the begining I had pomegrante on mind and even parsnip and of course poppy. That was just too much! I had to get rid of these ingredients and thoughts. Therefore I decided to start with making the pasta and the rest will be what will be. And indeed, it worked! I served the goat cheese stuffed ravioli with a tarragon flavoured blood orange and beet juice sauce (or rather a syrup) and some roasted walnuts. It was an amazing harmony on the plate! And the best is, I feel so free and I am full with a lot of new ideas.


100 g flour
100 ml beet juice
1 egg yolk
1/2 egg white
1 small beet
2 kk powder sugar
juice of 2 blood oranges
70 ml beet juice
2 twigs fresh tarragon

Bring the 100 ml beet juice to the boil and reduce by half (it is going to have sort of a sirupy consistency). Knead a dough out of the flour, egg yolk, half egg white and about 5-6 tablespoons of reduced beet juice. Roll out dough with the help of a pasta machine and make the ravioli. Fill with lemon zest flavoured goat cheese with the addition of some sugar. Cook ravioli in simmering water. Peel and cut beet in small cubes and cook in boiling water so that is half cooked through. Melt powder sugar and caramlise beet cubes add beet juice and orange juice and cook until reduced by half, add fresh tarragon and let it stand for 5-7 minutes. Remove tarragon and reduce the liquid until it has reached a thick consistency. Serve the ravioli with the sauce, fresh tarragon leaves and roasted walnuts.

February 9, 2011

Parmesan Soup

Well, I do not remember since when I am planning to cook a parmesan cream soup, but either I forget about it or the cheese ends up in a spontaneous carbonara for dinner. However, yesterday I have found two chunks of parmesan in the fridge so it was time to cook the soup. I guess, I have never cooked a cheese soup before, altough I love cheese a lot, but a soup just seemed to be strange to me.

It would be more than obvious to serve the soup among parmesan chips, but instead I made some San Daniele ham chips. Since quite a long time San Daniele is my most favourite dried cured ham, I think it is a lot more flavourful than Parma ham.

1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot
1 clove garlic

2 tablespoons rice (e.g. carnaroli)
500 ml vegetable or chicken stock
200 ml dry white wine
200 ml cream
200 g freshly grated parmesan
salt, pepper

Sautée chopped onion, garlic and rice in butter for a few minutes. Add white wine and let it reduce. Pour stock over it and cook for 50-70 minutes or until the rice is cooked through. Puree, add cream and grated cheese and bring it once to the boil, season with salt and pepper. Serve with parmesan or ham chips.

February 8, 2011

Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

So the rest of those gorgeous Sicilian lemons have ended up as lemon curd. However, I gotta confess, that already the next bunch is waiting for its destiny. I simply can not resist, as soon as I see those bright yellow and fragant lemons, I am lost. I can not even blame it on the weather after all we are having a lot of sunshine these days. Anyway, I decided to bake some cookies to serve with the lemon curd.

And if it is lemon, well then it must be poppy. I think that is an unbeatable combination. I already know, what I am going to prepare out of the new bunch of lemons, but now let's see those cookies that contain the zest of 4 huge lemons!


200 g butter
100 g powder sugar
250 g flour
75 g ground poppy seeds
1 egg
zest of at least 2 lemons

Cut butter in cubes and knead a dough together with the powder sugar, a pinch of salt, ground poppy seeds, lemon zest, egg and flour. Flatten the dough and leave it in the fridge for 2 hours. Roll out dough about 3 mm thick and cut out cookies in any shape you desire. Bake for 7-8 minutes in the to
160°C-ra (air circulation) preheated oven.

February 7, 2011

Lazy Sunday

At weekends, especially Sundays I love to cook meals that do not need much preparation. I think, what I love most is when everything gets cooked in the oven and there is nothing else to do then preparing a salad or a sauce right before serving lunch. It's been a while that I had poultry in my kicthen so it was time to make roast chicken for Sunday's lunch.

Of course I did not go for that "perfect roast chicken" because then, I could not call the weekend lazy anymore. Actually, I simply roasted the chicken on vegetables. The great thing about this kind of preparation is, that you can serve those roasted vegetables as a side dish or you can easily make a sauce. In that case simply mash the vegetables with some flour add some wine, sherry or Marsala, or even Cider or Madeira, then bring it to the boil. After that you only gotta add some stock and cook it for about 15 minutes and sieve. That simply it is.

Another advantage is that you have so many possibilites to try different vegetable combinations according to your taste and what is in season. That way you can always discover a whole new world of taste. This time I served the chicken with balsamic roasted leeks and in butter sauteed carrots. The rosemary potatoes were served among a creme fraiche dip with chives, chervil, lemon juice and cayenne pepper.

February 3, 2011

Orange-Date Buns

Well, since days I am planning to bake some carnival doughnuts, but somehow I always postpone it. Today I missed it again, because there is not enough oil for frying at home and in this cold weather I had no lust to go and get a bottle. As I mentioned it the last time, I am going to use something I have forgotten about on a weekly basis. Somewhen before Christmas, I bought a box of dates, but nobody wanted it during the holidays and I forgot about it.

So, I decided to bake some buns with dates and orange zest. Though this seemed to be too little, therefore I added some pistachios, almonds, berberis berries and the orange juice needed some cardamom and vanilla. These buns are great with a glass of cold milk and some home made rose water flavoured apricot jam.

500 g flour
11/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 pinch of saffron

20 g yeast
60 g butter
150 ml water
150 ml orange juice
50 g coarsly chopped almond

50 g pistachios

25 g sliced dates

25 g berberis berries

zest of 1 orange
1 egg for brushing

Sift together flour with salt, vanilla sugar, kardamom and make a hole in the middle and add yeast and butter. Dissolve saffron in lukewarm water and add it to the flour mixture together with the orange juice and knead a soft dough. Let it stand on room temperature for 1 hours or until it has doubled its size.
Now knead in the nuts, fruits and the orange zest and cut the dough in 10 equal pieces and form buns. Brush with egg and bake for 20 minutes on 200°C.

February 2, 2011

Waiting for Spring

Probably, January and February are the hardest months if we look at the range of available seasonal vegetables. Well, okay, it is not that bad, after all there are many different types of root vegetabltes and cabbages available. However in the stores you find almost everything no matter if it is in season or not. Still, I think I will never be able to understand why, and I have even less understanding for those who consume vegetables and fruits when they have no season. After all there is a reason why vegetables have their season and why it is good for us to consume them then and not all year around or any time. Besides they taste best when they are in season and even better if you can buy local production.

Anyway, it is also great to see that more and more people care and consume seasonal products. Last time when I was at my greengrocer I had to as if the fennel is already in season?! Huh, that would haven been strange, but I did not think that far, because the huge assortment in the stores tend to confuse one once in a while. Of course it is not fennel season and those were from Italy. But rarely, very rarely I can not resist, just like the last time, when I bought artichokes. However I never buy asparagus, strawberries and other typical spring vegetables or tomatoes, paprika, zucchini, cucumber, cherries and so on when they are not in season. I must confess, that slowly I have had enough cabbage, beetroot and their friends, so please spring be here soon!

Probably, I have cooked the last portion of brussels today, in a form of a simple puree with some nutmeg. I served lamb among it that I hide in a slice of bread with a filling of lamb farce. The farce was flavoured with garlic, rosemary, red wine and pureed with cream. Simple, yet flavourful. I fried the meat before I packed in, then fried it again together with the bread and then left it in the oven on
140°C for 7-8 minutes, depending on the weight of the meat. I also served some carrots among it and a reduced lamb stock. That's it! And guess what, finally after many grey days the sun came out this afternoon.

February 1, 2011

Pork Ribs with Garlic and Sage

It seems, that lately I am in a nostalgic mood, because I keep on cooking childhood favourites, just like today. One of them is this simple garlicy pork ribs that are best served cold the next day with fresh bread and loads of onion. So rather do not plan to go out after having these for dinner! Well, in fact this is not a childhood favourite, because I only dared to try these when I was a bit older. The reason? Well, I just hated the smell of garlic. Every time my mom peeled some I was runing around to find a place to hide, where I can't smell it anymore.

However, meanwhile I have learnt to appriciate it and finally, I have managed to buy some pork ribs, so I decided to prepare it myself, considering that meanwhile I do like garlic, well not raw but I use it a lot in many dishes.

The preparation is so easy and I have only made a tiny change, that is the addition of fresh sage. Season the meat the evening before with salt and add one clove garlic per rib. The next day heat some lard and fry ribs until they get white, then add garlic and just enough water to cover it. Cook it over low heat until half of the water has been absorbed, now add fresh sage leaves and cook for another half an hour or as long as no more water is left and the meat is tender. Now fry ribs from both sides and pour it together with the lard into a bowl and let it cool. That's it!

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