Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Serving Food on a Spoon- Part 3

It may sound boring, but there are so many ways to prepare food and present it.
When we were working in the kitchen, we came up with many more ideas to take the challenge up to an other level.
The spoon has to show all different aspects of one dish, that means the sauce has to be prepared to perfection, even if you use just a tiny part of it on the spoon. So does the meat or the fish. It has to be cooked as if you cook for an entire family gathering. But you have to downsize it while you prepare it.

I think, we will try our hand on preparing spoons in the future again and you will see more of it here.

The eighth spoon contained the favourite food of many people - Hot Dogs!

Fresh baked Hot Dog rolls, cut in the middle and filled halved mini wieners that were cut up 4  times on one side and baked in the pan to form a flower, stuffed into the bread. The sauce was made with ketchup and curry powder to resemble German Curry Wurst. The bread was then sprinkled with some curry powder to up the taste. Sitting on a bit of Pak Chow green and some radish cress to garnish.
When you stuffed that all in one go into your mouth, it was a flavour explosion.

For the ninth spoon the work was getting even more fiddly. We made Lasagna.
I used the rest of the beef tartar and cooked it in some olive oil until brown. We had left over tomato sauce from the Pizza Margarita and mixed these two together.

Now measure a bechamel sauce ready to go onto 3 spoons! Yeah - that is kind of difficult.
I started with half a teaspoon of butter and cook in half a tsp of flour. When is was getting pasty on one side of the pan, I added 2 tsp of milk a bit after the other, nutmeg, a kernel of salt and a bit of white pepper and 1 tsp of creamy goat cheese to finish it.
The lasagna pasta sheet had to be cooked before we used it. We cooked one sheet and in the end needed 1/5th of it. I ate the rest of the pasta sheet with the a lot of the upper Bologna sauce in the evening for dinner.

The best kitchen helper for missions like this are a pair of tweezers. It makes the handling of mini food items a lot easier then using your fingers.

When we finished stacking the lasagna and adding a little Parmesan  on top, they went into the oven for 3 minutes to warm up again.

Now the savoury part of our cooking experience was over and we turned to dessert.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Serving Food on a Spoon - Part 2

After we had started our work with 4 spoons, the amount of work increased.

We had a homemade Strudel dough and it was spread out very thin. Hot Chorizo sausage in a small row was laid out on the dough. That made 4 cigars of strudel that baked in the oven at 200 C for 10 minutes.

Some Strudel was deep fried and the rest was use for a dessert spoon to come.

The fifth spoon was filled with 2 pieces if the Chorizo cigars and a dipping sauce was served with it.
I came up with a fusion kitchen idea and served these with Sweet Chili Sauce -- so good!
In the end we cheated and had a lot more pieces of the Chorizo cigars.

I had cooked three 2 inch long yellow potatoes. For the next 3 spoons I used half of one potato, cut into tiny cubes and sauted in a pan in a little oil. In the end, I did not even used up all my prepared potato cubes.

The sixth spoon showed one prawn on a bed of tiny roasted poatoes, dressed with a sauce made from creme fraiche and Gochujang chili sauce. A piece of deep fried Strudel dough sat behind it.

The seventh spoon brought back childhood memories: Königsberger Klopse  - or Meatballs from Kaliningrad. Königsberg was a German East Prussian Territory until the end of WWII.
The meat is usually mínced veal, or beef and pork mixed with a bit of anchovis, breadcrumbs, herbs made into small meatballs (Klopse) and simmered in a water and vinegar broth. This broth is then used to make the white sauce based on a roux and with lemon juice, capers and egg yolk.

We used just sausage meat simmered in beef stock, a little roux and lemon juice and 6 capers added.
The potato wedges came from half a 5 cm potato and we still had a bit left over.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Serving Food on a Spoon - Part 1

We have a TV series in Germany that is named "The Taste".
4 chefs and 5 contestants in each group fight for the title of the best. In each episode, just the food served on a spoon is assessed by the jurors. This was a former ABC show in the USA.

The TV series is in its 5th season now. I rarely watched it over the years, because some of the chefs are not my favourite ones and the episodes are way too late into my bedtime.
I just watched one episode a couple of days ago and that inspired me to cook food for a spoon. My friends came over and the 3 of us gave it a try.

It was a absolutely new experience. Our hands started to tremble when we put the tiny ingredients on the spoon. It had to be carried from the kitchen to an other room to take the photos, that let some on the beautifully arranged food items collapse.

My friend came over with a huge basket full of items to use, I had a whole table full of usable food items and we both dreamt about the huge walk in pantries they have in the shows.
An already risen yeasty dough was in a bowl ready to be made into different tiny rolls, medium sized baguette and some triangles to be deep fried and a small bread.

During that time I started my first course spoon:
Beef Tartar with tiny Eggplants on a baked purple Vitolette potato slice and some balsamic reduction.

The second spoon was filled with a seared scallop on a fresh made Kroepoek and some black pearl rice and lemon dressed samfire or sea asparagus.

The third spoon showed one of my favourite dishes: a 4 cm disc of Tarte flambé from the Alsace region of France.

The forth spoon was filled with a 4 cm disc of Pizza Margarita with homemade tomato sauce, some buffalo mozzarella and a bit of basil.

I would have loved to eat a lot more of this tiny morsels, but just one per person was the deal of the day. But for one of my next parties with finger food, some of these spoons will have a comeback.

The rest of the beef tartar meat went into the pan to be seared for the lasagne later.
I cooked 2 purple and 3 small yellow potatoes in the morning, 1 1/2 purple and 1 1/2 yellow potaotes went into some hash browns the next day.

Filled red pepper

I found some long sweet red peppers, grown in Spain. They are juicy and good to fill with a cheese cream.

You can buy smaller ones at the deli counter at some supermarkets. I love them, but often the filling is not so good. I decided to fill the big pepper at home with a curd and French feta and lots of fresh herbs, still from my balcony.

The long pepper was full of seeds, I had to cut it open for a bit to get them all out. That makes it easier to fill with the cream later too.

1 long sweet pepper
60 g sheepmilk feta
60 g curd
a pinch of sweet paprika powder
a pinch of celery seed
salt and pepper
a bunch of fresh herbs

 Chop, mix, fill, wrap in foil and chill.
It is nice to serve it with other kinds of Anti Pasti.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Chestnut Soup with Apple and Celeriac topping

I had a bowl full of roasted chestnuts left over from 2 days ago.  It is foggy and cold outside, so soup is the best way to get your heart warm.

The binding agent of this soup were the chestnuts themselfs, they have enough flour in them.
I used onions, a lot of garlic, celeriac and apples to go with the soup and did not make achi fine puree out of it, I left it a bit chunky so I could see the chestnuts and chew on some chunks.

This time I used my TM31 Thermomix, it makes chopping all the veggies a lot easier and a extra blender is not needed. But the soup is easy made in a pot as well. I just needed a small pan to saute the apple and celeric strips and warm the whole chestnuts through.

recipe for 4:
200 g roasted chestnuts
1/4 head of celeriac
1 white of a leek
1/2 red onion
1 spring onion
5 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
700 ml beef stock
chili salt, pepper
2 tbsp creme fraiche

50 g whole chestnuts

1 red apple
60 g celeriac
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp Agave syrup
1 tsp white balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
1 tbsp parsley

Chop onions and garlic and saute that in the olive oil, add chopped celeriac and leek and roughly chopped chestnuts. Season. Cook for 2 minutes, add the beef stock and cook for 15 minutes.
To make it a bit less chunky, just roughly blend it with a stick blender. Add the creme fraiche and check for the seasoning.

In a small pan melt the buttter and add strips of celeriac and apples, cook them until softend and caramelize with Agave syrup, season with salt and pepper and finish with vinegar. Add the whole chestnuts and get the pan off the heat.
Pour the soup in the bowls, top with apple,celeriac and whole chestnut and a sprinkle of parsley.

Ramen - now a lunchtime favourite

Since my trip to Japan I love a good bowl of Ramen.

We have a huge Asian Supermarket here in town since mid of October and I went there 2 days after the Grandopening. They sell a huge variety of ingredients from all Asian countries. You go through the Korean part, the Japanese part, the Chinese part and you will find lots of Thai food. I haven´t checked if they sell things from smaller Asian countries, I was so overwhelmed from the showcased goods. They have long frozen sections with all kinds of dumplings, seafood, mochis and so on. The only thing that is not so big is the fresh section with veg and fruits. But they are still building in the shop, so I hope there will be more.

The offer of Instant Noodles is huge and all countries are there. But I was looking for dried noodles, not the fried instant ones. The selection is big too. I bought a package with 2 servings of Ramen and some soup stock to try.

2 servings dried Ramen Noodles with soup stock
400 ml chicken stock
spring onions
pak choy
red bell pepper
3 g Wakame seaweed
1 softboiled egg, marinated in soy and mirin
3 pieces of grilled Porkbelly

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Chestnut Rice - Kuri Gohan

Served with a bowl of daikon in Yuzu and sesame oil dressing.

One of my co-workers gave me self collected sweet chestnuts from the Taunus mountains about 50 km north of here. I had the doggy poo bag sitting in the kitchen for 2 weeks. She is walking her 2 dogs where the chestnut trees grow. Some of the bags always on hand.

I put half of the loot into the oven yesterday. I cut them at the bottom side twice, that helped to open them a little. After 20 minutes at 180 C they were ready. I just had to wait until I could peel them without burning my fingers. It is important to peel them while they are still warm, that way you will get the inner skin off much better. It takes a while and makes a lot of mess with flying peel all over the place. While I was at it, I ate a couple of them just hot from the oven - delicious.

Chestnuts are eaten in many parts of the world and for thousands of years. They nourished the people in old times, the poor made flour out of them to bake some kind of bread or cake with them.

In Japan, chestnuts are found in Autumn in so many savoury and sweet dishes. You can find chestnut cream even in chocolate, KitKat and Mont Blanc, a dessert made with chestnut and cream.
I was looking for the savoury kind and found Kuri Gohan.

The rice is very tasty with a hint of sake and goes great with the flour texture of the chestnuts. I mixed up the rice a bit, I found that method the Internet. But just plain shortgrain rice does the job too.

recipe for 2:
1 rice cooker cup of shortgrain rice
1/4 rice cooker cup of pudding rice or Mochi rice
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp Mirin
1 1/2 tbsp Sake
1/4 tsp dashi powder

12 roasted or chooked chestnuts

1 tsp black sesame seeds
1 tsp soy sauce

Daikon radish
2 tsp Yuzu
2 tsp light Sesame oil
white pepper, salt and dried parsley

Wash the rice until the water runs clear. Let it sit in the colander for 15min.
Add it to the rice cooker and pour in 1,7 rice cooker cups of water, Mirin, Sake, dashi and salt.
After 10 min, add the chestnuts and finish the rice.

Serve it with black sesame seeds and a bit of soy sauce.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Banh Mi Sandwich

A Vietnamese Classic!

I never had it before, but the right ingredients were in stock just now and that made it easy to prepare the sandwich. I hope, I will have these ingredients on hand often, it is such a tasty way to eat bread, meat and veggies in one hand. A bit of spice makes it even more remarkable.

This Sandwich is not very common here in Germany. You get lots of Asian food, cooked by Vietnamese people, but it is often a mix of Chinese and Thai Food. A good real Vietnamese restaurant is not easy to find. We have none here.

It is a great way to get rid of leftover pork roast. But you can use any kind if meat, from chicken to beef or even sausages and meatballs. The ingredient, that comes forward in each Banh Mi is the paté. Liver Paté, a heritage of the French colonisation of Vietnam. And so many great patés are sold in France, next time I will look for some "Duck Liver and Red Port Paté" and place that on some chicken meat.

recipe for 1 sandwich:
1 baguette roll
braised or grilled pork
French liver paté
1 tbsp mayonaise
1 tsp Hoisin sauce
1 tsp Gochujang or chili paste
a piece of fresh cucumber
a bit of spring onion green
5 stalks of coriander
3 tbsp pickled veg ( daikon, carrot, cucumber - salted, drained, mixed with brining liquid)

Open the roll, but do not cut it in half. Take some of the soft bread out of both sides.

Make the sauce, it should have some kick, that´s why I exchanged the sweet chili sauce against Korean Gochoujang.

Heat up the grill in the oven and schmier a thick coating on both sides. Put it in the oven and let the bread go crisp.
Warm up the meat in the microwave and put it in first.
Top with a good amount of paté.

Next the pickled veggies, fresh cucumbers, some cilantro and a few spring onion greens. If want more heat, top it with fresh chilis.

Wrap it in paper and split it in two halfs.

Monday, 23 October 2017

A piece of pork with crackling skin

Served with a rough mash from parsnips and potatoes and some pickled veggies.

I haven´t had crackling pork skin for such a long time. I found a piece of pork belly and seasoned it and put it into a plastic baking wrap and stuck it into the oven. A great way to save a lot of time and do some other things - like writing a blog- instead.
Peeling a couple or potatoes and some parsnips were done in no time.

The pork baked at 210 C for 90 minutes in the oven .

In the last 30 minutes, I cooked the veggies and drained them, added butter and creme fraiche and a splash of milk, salt, pepper and celery seed and mashed it roughly. Very delicious.

The rest of the pork will give two more meals. I packed one for a lunch to take to the office and the other part will be seen here in a very different style soon.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Potato Salad

There is not THE POTATO SALAD.

Preparing a potato salad is very regional, some potato salads are family traditions, some have come here through holidays in various countries and some are just plain.
Tell 12 people to bring a bowl of potato salad to a BBQ and you will get 12 very different kinds of salad.
I remember a friends Mom, she hated onions and other stuff you would find in a potential potato salad. She just cooked the potatoes, added oil and Maggi Fondor seasoning to it and served that as a potato salad. My friend was never asked to bring a potato salad again.

I love the crunch of some pickled gherkins in the potato salad and a lot of onions. I do not use the onions raw, that way it is easy to prepare a bit more salad and eat it a day or two days later. The onions wont spoil the salad.

I did not add any smoked bacon, I served it with fish and bacon makes the salad too intense.
Gives this one a try, you wont regret it.

recipe for 2:
6 medium potatoes
2 spring onions
1 small onion
1 clove of garlic
60 ml veg stock
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dried salad herbs
1/2 tsp celery seed
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 gherkins
1 tsp creme fraiche
1 tsp Miracle whip balance

Chop the onions and garlic and add them to the hot oil. Saute for a couple of minutes until they soften and add the veg stock. Bring to a boil again and cook down a little
Cool a bit and add the last oil and vinegar. Get over the still warm potatoes and add creme fraiche and Miracle whip.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Breaded Pollock - Childhood memories

I prepared a piece of pollock today and made it the way my Mom always made it. It was even served with a potato salad. I took a bite and rememered many Fridays of the past. This dish was a Friday classic in our family, at least served one Friday of the month.

The breaded fish then was a bit blackened or more blackened on the outside and a bit dry in the middle. Mom loved to cook on the highest heat on the hob, turning the knob down to low was seldom an option for her - sorry Mom!

Later when I cooked with my family, I took over the fish preparation and Mom made the potato salad.

This is an easy way to prepare the fish.

recipe for 2:
380 g pollock
salt and pepper
1 egg
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp paprika powder
4 tbsp breadcrumbs
3 tbsp rapeseed oil
1/2 lemon

Pat the fish dry, cut it into 2 pieces and season it with salt and pepper.
Mix the paprika with the flour.
Season the egg with salt and pepper.
Pass the fish through flour, egg and breadcrumbs.

Heat up the oil in a pan on medium heat and place the fish in.
Cook until the breadcrumbs are golden brown - do not char them to black, please !!!
Turn and bake the other side.

Serve with a Potato salad. My version of it will follow.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Pumpkin Cinnamon Waffles

I had half of a baked butternut squash left over from the vegan dinner. I was looking for something sweet. Waffles popped into my eyes as I trundled through the Internet.
The combination of pumpkin and cinnamon has something soothing for the days of Autumn. I am not a fan of American pumpkin pie, it is too overspiced and too sweet.

Usually these waffles are eaten with a Maple syrup or chocolate sauce. That is too sweet for my taste and I went for icing sugar. To shoot a nice photo I picked the jar with leftover pomegranate seeds and dropped some on top.
That combination is amazing. The tarte juicy kernels cut through the sweetness of the waffles.

recipe for 6 double waffles:
220 g  precooked cold butternut pumpkin
2 eggs
4 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
240 ml whole milk
180 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
60 g melted salted butter
1 tsp vanilla paste
1/2 lemon zest
2 tsp oil
icing sugar
pomegranate seeds

Sift flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Add vanilla paste, eggs and butter. Give it a good whisk.
Gradually add milk and the pumpkin. Make a thick batter and let that rest 30 min.
Oil the waffle iron and let it heat up completely.
Bake the waffles, it will take a bit longer, the pumpkin adds more moisture to the batter.
Icing sugar on top and sprinkle some pomegranate seeds on top too.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Butternut with cinnamon onion topping- vegan

Do you love caramelized onions? Do you love cinnamon?

Most of you would say yes to both, but not together in one dish. That was my thought exactly when I found the recipe. I had a butternut squash sitting in my kitchen for 3 weeks now and it had to be prepared. I had no idea what to eat today including that squash. The ingredients are pretty basic and together with some bits of salad and some fruit the combination was amazing.
While I enjoyed it, I discovered I made a vegan dish.

Preheat the oven 170 C fan. To begin with you have to wash the squash, half it lenghwise and scoop out the seeds with the hairy flesh. Use some rapeseed oil and brush the squash on both sides. Season with salt and pepper.

Set it in the oven, cut side facing up and bake for 30 min. Check with a knife if it is ready after 30 min. Get it out and let it cool a little. Keep the oven running.

recipe for 2:
1 butternut squash
4 medium onions
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
50 g almond flakes
1/2 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper
1 pomegranate
50 g lambs lettuce

Cut the onion in half rings, wash the lambs lettuce, get the pomegranate seeds out without making a horrible red mess.
In a dry pan toast the almond flakes, set aside.
In the same pan heat up 1 1/2 tbsp oil and saute the onions. Add brown sugar and start to caramelize. Add chili and cinnamon and season with salt and pepper.

Mix in the almonds and give it a good stir.
Scoop out some of the flesh and fill up part of the hole were the seeds stayed, layer the onion mix on both halfs and place the butternut back into the oven for 15 min.

Make a dressing for the salad with oil and vinegar and some seasoning and place a bit on top of the butternut. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.