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Archive for July, 2011

Good things come to those who wait.

This phrase couldn’t be more true than when it comes to shopping in Germany. Generally, most products are much more expensive in Germany compared to the USA.

Luckily, there have been several times when waiting has proven to provide excellent discounts and savings on products I desperately wanted.

A few weekends ago, it happened again.

I found the pasta maker that I’ve been eyeballing since October for almost half the price.

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Rather than the original €130 price tag, this beauty was reduced to €70.

Admittedly, €70 is still a lot for a single kitchen appliance, but this is one of those items that time has not crossed off of my wish list.

Just a day later, I put my new toy into action.

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9 months after taking my Italian cooking course, I finally was able to use the recipe for homemade pasta.

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I cut the prepared dough into four portions then started running the dough through the pasta maker one portion at a time.

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Fresh, homemade tagliatelle.

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I boiled half of the fresh pasta in salted water for dinner and dried the other half to be given as a gift.

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A wire hanger makes a great drying rack for pasta. I imagine a thicker wooden hanger would be even better.

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I enjoyed my homemade pasta with a spicy tomato cream sauce, similar to this recipe.

Homemade Tagliatelle

Recipe reposted from the original post which contains photo instructions for making the dough and rolling/ cutting the pasta by hand.

Ingredients

For 4 servings

  • 200 grams. all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • good pinch of salt
  • drizzle of olive oil

Method

  1. Create a large circular well in the flour which goes all the way down to the cooking surface. Crack the eggs inside the well and add the salt and a little olive oil.
  2. Using a fork, begin to whisk the eggs pulling in flour from the side as you go. Keep the well sturdy and continue pulling in flour. Continue to whisk in the flour until you have only a small well-wall left.
  3. Begin to knead in the remaining flour with your finger tips. Work gently at first and then, as the dough starts to harden, knead regularly.
  4. The dough will be quite dry. Keep kneading for about 10 minutes or until your dough is smooth and elastic.
  5. Make a ball with the ugly sides under and then squeeze out your dough until it is like a thick pancake. Dust your working table very lightly and dust the top of your ball of dough.
  6. Using a rolling pin, start in the center and push all your weight into a back and forth motion until you reach the ends. Rotate the dough 45 degrees and then repeat.
  7. Keep rolling out the dough and when it becomes too big, have a friend hold down the ends for you or simply fold some of the dough over the edge of the table and lightly lean on it. Roll until your dough is about 2 mm thick.
  8. Fold in two inches of the ends of your dough on both sides. Dust with flour then fold over again on both sides. Dust and repeat until you reach the middle. Fold the two ends on top of one another.
  9. Using a sharp knife, cut straight down through your pasta to create a uniform width of about 1/2 cm. Keep slicing without moving your already cut pasta.
  10. Grab a hold of the first layer of pasta and shake out to separate the strands and remove excess flour. Pile up.
  11. Cook your pasta in a pot of boiling water which is very well salted (as in one whole handful of salt.) When you add the pasta the water will stop boiling. Once it begins to boil again, your pasta is cooked.
  12. Remove the pasta from the water and add directly into your prepared sauce. You may need to add a little more pasta water.
  13. Serve your pasta with more parmesan, salt and pepper.

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Cookin’ Man

I love Indian food.

With its complex flavors, unending variety and reliance on whole, natural foods, it is without a doubt, my favorite.

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Want to know what makes Indian food even better?

Indian food cooked with love.

Last night, Sebastian took control of the kitchen and created a delicious, made-from-scratch Paneer Masala.

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My lousy photography doesn’t do this meal justice. It was just wonderful!

Am I lucky or what?

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Last week, Sebastian came home with a BBQ Chicken pizza. It smelled fantastic. Right away, my mind started on a recipe for a completely homemade, made from scratch, vegetarian version.

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I’m so glad he gave me the inspiration, because this BBQ Chickpea Pizza with sourdough crust turned out exactly as I’d hoped.

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I made the sourdough pizza crust earlier in the week. The recipe made enough dough for two very large pizzas. I immediately used one half for the veggie pizza I posted here and simply placed the remaining dough in the refrigerator.

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The dough continued to slowly grow in the fridge, holding up exceptionally well for this recipe which was made three days later.

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I also made a homemade barbecue sauce for the pizza. I find the bottled sauces in Germany to be way too sweet. After tossing a bunch of ingredients in a pot and letting them cook together, I was left with a delicious, tangy, smoky and sweet barbecue sauce.

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I used a bit less than 1/4 cup of the sauce directly on the pizza dough then used another 1/2 cup to cook the chickpeas in. I was left with enough sauce to fill a medium sized jar which is now hanging out in the fridge, waiting to be used.

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I topped the sourdough crust and BBQ sauce with freshly shredded gouda cheese.

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As mentioned earlier, I cooked about 1 cup of drained and rinsed canned garbanzo beans in 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce. I let the sauce cook until it had reduced and thickened around the chickpeas.

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On top of the cooked BBQ chickpeas, I placed a few plain chickpeas, a sprinkle of smoked paprika, thinly sliced red onions and fresh mozzarella cheese.

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The pizza was cooked at a moderately high temperature until the crust and cheese were golden brown. Sprinkled with finely sliced basil leaves, this pizza was good to go!

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Delicious!

Homemade BBQ Sauce

(I sort of tossed in ingredients as I went along so this is more of an estimate than an exact recipe. Adjust the spices to fit your tastes.)

Makes about 2 cups BBQ sauce

Ingredients

1/3 cup molasses

2 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

2 Tbsp. finely chopped red onion

1 cup ketchup

1 tsp. tamarind paste

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. chili powder

1/ tsp. ground mustard

1 tsp. smoked paprika

red pepper flakes to taste

Method

  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a small sauce pan. Heat to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the sauce reaches a desirable consistency.

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Yesterday I shared a recipe for sourdough bagels from a book published 8 years before I was born: Sourdough Cookery by Rita Davenport.

Today I’m here to share another recipe from the oh-so-talented sourdough baker, Rite Davenport.

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Sourdough Pizza Dough

In her book, Rita shared not only her recipe for the dough, but also her pizza sauce recipe and suggested toppings.

You’re going to have to buy her book to get the whole kit and caboodle, but I’m happy to share the sourdough pizza dough recipe.P7230042

Sourdough Pizza Dough

Makes 2 very large pizzas

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups sourdough starter

1 cup warm milk

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 Tablespoons sugar

2 Tablespoons cooking oil

2 1/2- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

olive oil for brushing

Method

  1. Add the milk, salt, sugar and vegetable oil to the sourdough starter. Stir together. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time. Stir well after each addition. Add enough flour until the dough is too stiff to stir with a spoon. Dough should be heavy but elastic.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead 5-10 minutes.
  3. Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and set in a warm place, free from drafts and let rise about 2 hours or until doubled in size.
  4. Divide dough into two equal parts. Stretch or roll out each part to create a round pizza dough. Create a slight ridge to form a crust.
  5. Brush the dough with olive oil and continue to create your pizza as you wish.

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Our first pizza dough was used as a base for a vegetable pizza which included tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, spinach and broccoli.

Oh so good!

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Sorry to keep you waiting, but as you can see, I made it safely through the streets of Paris and then back to Germany without any trouble.

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I’ll create a post on Paris at some point, but to be honest, I’m still so overwhelmed by the whole experience that I just need a break.

Katie and I returned after an overnight bus trip on Wednesday morning. Wednesday and Thursday were spent showing Katie around Bonn, cleaning and packing bags in preparation for her return to the US.

Katie let me use her kindle to read The Hunger Games. Although I wasn’t too interested in the story when she described it, she encouraged me to read the first two chapters before making a decision. I’m glad she was so persistent because the whole of Wednesday was spent finishing the first book and I am now hooked. Can’t wait to read the second book!

It’s hard to believe that after so much time looking forward to my friends’ visits, they are both back in the US and here I am again with a tiny German kitchen and a list of recipes I want to try.

Over the weekend, I tried two different recipes using my sourdough starters. Both recipes are from a gag-gift that’s actually been more gift than gag (lucky since it’s a cook book!)

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A colleague of mine knew I was baking with a home-grown sourdough starter. While at a book sale, she found this 1977 Sourdough Cookery book and bought it for me as a joke.

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Well, good recipes are made great with time as the recipes from this cookbook prove.

Today, I’m going to share the recipe I was most excited about, sourdough bagels.P7229972

I’ve never made bagels before, and was surprised by how easy they were. Sure, there are a few extra steps compared to regular bread baking, but the additional actions only add about 15 minutes on the total time.

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Well worth it when the product is as delicious as these bagels.

So, collect your ingredients and let’s get starter!

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Place the sourdough starter, eggs and oil in a large bowl.

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Mix together the dry ingredients before incorporating them into the wet.

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A sticky, elastic dough will form. Add more flour as needed to create a dough that begins to remove from the sides of the bowl.

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Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Let rest and rise until doubled in size.

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Split the dough into 8-12 smaller balls. I made 8 large bagels. Gently press a floured finger through the middle of each small dough ball.

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I ‘gently’ stretch my dough by swinging it around on my finger while screaming “woo-hoo!”

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As you can see, the woo-hoo method worked just fine.

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I wasn’t sure how much the dough would rise while resting so made lots of different sized holes in the bagels. The smallish holes made the best final products.

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Boil the bagels for 7 minutes before draining and placing on a greased baking sheet.

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I sprinkled freshly ground spices and herbs on some of the bagels while they were still wet.

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These two were sprinkled with a lavender herb salt.

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Here’s the same, beautiful bagel after baking for 25 minutes.

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This lovely bagel is dressed in a freshly ground sea salt, chili and orange peel seasoning mix.

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Immediately, I gobbled it up with butter.

Over the last few days, I’ve been enjoying the bagels for breakfast.

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Toasted plain bagel with butter, cinnamon and sugar.

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Perfect for an egg and cheese breakfast sandwich.

If you are interested in sourdough baking, I recommend the following websites for step by step instructions on creating a sourdough starter at home.

I was so sure that my home-grown yeast sourdough starter would fail that I also made a lazy man’s sourdough starter at the same time.

Lucky for me, both sourdoughs took off with fantastic fermentation. I’m now alternating between each healthy sourdough variety for my baking.

Don’t be afraid of sourdough baking, as you can see from this recipe, it can be a lot of fun!

 Sourdough bagels

Sourdough Bagels

From Sourdough Cookery by Rita Davenport

Ingredients

1 cup sourdough starter

2 eggs

3 Tablespoons cooking oil

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 gallon water plus 2 Tablespoons sugar for boiling (I used 1 tsp. baking soda and 1 tsp. salt rather than sugar)

Method

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine sourdough starter with eggs and oil. Mix together flour, salt and sugar. Add to starter mixture. Add enough additional flour for the dough to leave the sides of the bowl.
  2. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if necessary.
  3. Cover with a damp cloth. Set in a warm place free from drafts until doubled in size.
  4. Turn out onto floured surface and divide into 8-12 pieces (depending on the size you’re after.) Shape each piece into balls. Punch a hole in the center with a floured finger. Form a doughnut shape by gently enlarging the hole, working each bagel into a uniform shape.Cover and let rise for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Add sugar (or baking soda and salt) to water and bring to a boil. Drop each bagel into the boiling water one at a time. Cook for 7 minutes, turning once. Drain; place on greased cookie sheets.
  6. Bake at 375 F (191 C) for 25-35 minutes. Bagels should be golden brown and crusty.

Variations:

Herb Bagels- Prepare bagels as above, except combine 2 teaspoons dried marjoram with dry ingredients.

Onion Bagels- Prepare bagels as above, except add 1 teaspoon dried minced onions to dry ingredients.

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Yesterday and today it rained.

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Steady, unrelenting, cold rain.

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Although we only made it out to wander the grounds and speak with the owners, the few moments of clear skies and fresh air were much appreciated.

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Two cold and rainy days on a summer vacation may seem terrible to some, but I’ve really enjoyed napping, reading, eating and relaxing.

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Eating has consisted of potatoes, pasta, butter, cheese and bread for the last two days.

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Being forced to stay inside has given Katie and me plenty of time to plan our two days in Paris, clean up and pack.

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Tonight is the last night in the country.

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We came to see the countryside, hike, relax and breath.

That’s just what we’ve done.

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Now we’re heading to the big city for action, energy, crazy-busy sight seeing and limited sleep.

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(Photo of Katie and the car from our first day here.)

Wish us luck as we travel back into Paris with our tiny little navigation-free car.

Prayers are always welcome.

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Today was another gorgeous day in the French countryside.

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We started off a bit late today after sleeping in and talking all morning.

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We arrived at our first stop just in time to witness everything close up for the three hour lunch break.

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Crap.

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Katie and I made the best of the pause by wandering the streets of Évron and photographing the famous Basilica of Nortre-Dame-de-l’Epine.

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The Basilica was built between the 11th and 16th centuries.

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The architecture of the building is both Romanesque and Gothic.

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The Basilica was very quiet. Peaceful and quiet.

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At 1:30, the tourist information office re-opened and a very friendly English speaking French girl was happy to help us find things to do.

Just not in Évron.

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We still had another half hour to wait before the bank that supposedly exchanged traveler’s checks was reopened.

When we asked what else there was to see in Évron, the girl just laughed and said, “only the Basilica.”

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Long story short, we were sent from place to place regarding the traveler’s checks. Emotions were high. Katie and I both lost our patience, then miraculously, the post office exchanged a small amount of Katie’s infuriating fake currency.

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A note to any and all travelers, regardless of what your parents, guide books or bank tellers say, NEVER rely on traveler’s checks for your European vacation.

Just use your debit card. The fees are minimal and ATMs are everywhere.

Simple. Done.

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After that, we moved on- figuratively and literally.

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We moved on to visit the Medieval city of Saint Suzanne.

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Like any tourist trap, Saint Suzanne was beautifully maintained and provided plenty of photo opportunities.

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From the tower of the old castle, I was able to enjoy spectacular views of the land below.

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I wish Katie wasn’t afraid of man-made heights, because the climbing structure that was in place in the tower was really cool.

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I can’t image defending a castle.

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Before leaving Saint Suzanne, Katie and I popped into a little shop that sells soap and perfume.

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Although the welcoming party was a bit creepy, everything smelled fantastic.

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We had an easy drive back then kicked up our feet for a bit.

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Back at the gite, I made a simple dinner while Katie posted pictures on facebook.

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We had baked camembert cheese with jam and warm baguette along with an arugula salad with carrots and tomatoes.

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I love the look in the lady’s eyes on the cover of the cheese. That’s the same look I have when a dinner of cheese is involved.

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Right now it’s sprinkling rain outside. The fresh smell coming through the windows is working wonders to settle my soul. I have a feeling tonight will be a very restful sleep.

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