Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Spreewald Specialities

The Spreewald is an area in Brandenburg about 80 km south east of Berlin and is a Nature reserve with more than 1000 km of canals. Many farms and villages can only reached by boat. The main transport of people, goods and farm stuff is made on wooden long boats that are pushed by a wooden pole.
Tourists are one of the main income now, they are gliding on long wooden boats pushed by one guy through the canals.

Before tourists came in the end of the 19th century, farming was the main income. Gherkins are famous from here and were and still are exported. Horseradish grows here too and is harvested in huge amounts. Other crops like mustard are well known here.

When you reach the Spreewald you can buy gherkins, horseradish and mustard. Tourists leave here with these goodies.

I only bought a couple of jars of horseradish.

During our boats tour we had a 1 hour lunch break at Lehde. A little town on small islands connected not through roads but bridges.

We went for a traditional boiled beef with horseradish sauce, grated fresh horseradish and potatoes. In Austria this is called Tafelspitz.

Later in Lübbenau I tasted an other speciality:  Hefe Plinze, a yeasty fluffy pancake. Mostly served sweet with cinnamon sugar and applesauce and sometimes savoury with sour cream and salmon.

Monday, 29 April 2019

Doener Kebap and Curry Wurst

When you are in Berlin the Curry Sausage is a must and the Doener is a double must. When you listen to the young people in Berlin, they are raised on both. I watch a YT channel from "My name is Andong", he grew up in Berlin on those and tells everybody that eating these was totally normal.

Curry Wurst is a staple here and you will find them in many places.

Curry 36 is one of this chaines.

Often in street food stalls. Some are chaines now and can be found all around Berlin.
They are all famous for their special sauces, these are all the time a secret and people are drawn to these special stalls because of the sauce.
But Lamacun and Dueruem are as often eaten as well. Thin sift tortilla style wrappers.

The other famous food is Doener. Meat stuffed in bread with salad and yogurt sauce. In Turkey Doener Kebap was traditional served on a plate with some piece of Piede or flatbread on the side. The take away style inside the bread was created in Berlin and made its way around the world from here.

Sunday, 28 April 2019

First food in our Holiday Apartment in Berlin

Getting up at 4: 30 AM and packing the car and leaving the house around 7 AM. We had 600 km to drive and did a couple of stops on the Autobahn.

All unpacking done, we were hungry. A short stop at MCDonalds at 11AM  was not enough to last through the day.

Our kitchen here is nice. It takes a bit of time to get comfortable in it. Opening and closing cupboards and drawers to find the necessities. But the kitchen is well stocked. Only sharp knifes are something you will never find in a holiday apartment.

I brought my own and the kitchen tool box with spices and utensils. Great to be prepared.

We brought a box of frozen thick and rich goulash with us. A leftover from a birthday, were a professional chef cooked for 120 guests and only 60 came. Not to waste the food, guests took some home.

 With potatoes and pasta and a huge bowl of freshly cut up salad and veggies and some red wine we had a great meal.

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Eating out at the "China Garden" Restaurant in Gross-Umstadt

On my way to a holiday week in Berlin I met with my friends and joined them on a Friday night Chinese buffet dinner. The Restaurant is in business for a couple of years now and I had been there before  several times.

We had a reservation for 6pm. Since there were a lot of cars parked near by, I thought the Restaurant was at full capacity. We went inside and we were the only guests.

They have some out of house customers and cater to them, so the kitchen was busy. We got our usual table behind the desk Aquarium. They started to fill up the different trays.

We went to the buffet a couple of times, even placed our raw and still frozen food on a plate with our table number sticking to it. The cook made it in the style of Mongolian BBQ.

My mixed seafood plate that looked good while stacked with frozen food and a litlle veggies and Sauce, came back to me as a tiny morsel. The piece of frozen fish was good sized when I put it on the plate, it came back nearly not noticeable. The big pieces of squid were just 3 little rings. The scallop looked and tasted a bit sad

I  have seen and eaten better seafood from a Mongolian BBQ.

The rest of the dishes were edible, but nothing to really write about.

Where is the good quality of the food gone? Now I can imagine, why there were no other guests while we ate there. It was a bit of a disaster.

Friday, 26 April 2019

Buttermilk Pancakes

American style pancakes.

Who does not love them. I found a recipe on the German website Chefkoch.de and used it for my pancakes. They get very thick and need a lot of syrup later.
I did not have any bacon strips and used only Maple syrup.

The preparation is fairly simple and when you use a wide pan, you can make 4 pancakes at once.

recipe for 12 pancakes:
3 tbsp melted butter
400 ml buttermilk
2 eggs
250 g flour
a pinch of salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
50 g sugar
1 tbsp vanilla sugar

Melt the butter and let it cool down a bit, mix it with the eggs and buttermilk in one bowl.
In an other bowl combine the dry ingredients.
Bring both together and make a smooth batter. Let it rest for 15 min.

 Heat up a wide pan on medium high heat and make sure it is hot all over.

Get a wide spoon of batter in the pan in 4 blobs. Wait until you see bubbles on the top, then turn with a spatula and finish on the other side.

Serve with Maple syrup.

Since they are a bit on the dry side, use a compote to go with them.

Heat up a pan to medium high heat and make sure it is hot all over. Get in a 

Wednesday, 24 April 2019


This Hummus I learned to love during my roundtrip through Jordan 4 years ago. I ate it at breakfast, during lunch breaks and at the evening buffet.

Most larger tour group Hotels served some kind of internation breakfast, so everybody could find something that he or she usually ate at home. A small corner on every breakfast buffet had the Jordan breakfast items on display.

It is really interesting to watch people eat  breakfast when they are away from home.
They tend to go to their standarts, they are used to and seldom are new for something else.
The Italians had their Cappuccino with a sweet pastry and that was it. The French had a piece of Baguette and a Croissant and some coffee.
The Germans were looking for whole wheat or rye bread, an array of sausage slices and different cheeses and jams. Some eggs were good too.
The Énglish went for burnt toast, baked beans, sausages and eggs and a tomato.

Just a few of each Nation went to the Jordan Corner to check out, what was served there and ate that.
I was one of them.

The Jordan breakfast offered flatbread, green olives soaked in lemon, sheep feta, hummus, curd, hot and spicy tomato chunks and eggs.
I loaded my plate with hummus, curd, olives and feta and a bit of hot sauce.

One morning I asked one of the Cooks running around what they put into the very creamy hummus.
He did not give me measurements, but just listed the ingredients. Put everything in a strong blender and give it power.

recipe for 4:
500 g precooked chickpeas
180 g Tahini
150 g Greek yogurt
2-3 lemons
2 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper
olive oil
a  bit of spring onion greens
smoked paprika

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Lime and Ginger Drizzle Cake

The Great British Bake Off has a German spin off.

Jury has two People, one of them is Christian Hümbs. Patisserie of the year multiple times and until this Easter Chef Patisserie of a 3 Michellin star Restaurant in Munich. He just left there.

I have his baking recipes book and this is the first time, I made something out of it.

It is a little like a Lemon Drizzle Cake, but much more labour intensive. And it is a recipe that you can´t just bake after you come home from work late in the afternoon. I started at 1 pm, now it is 5 pm and it has to set for an other 2 Hours before I can store it away.

The kick in this recipe is the good amount of fresh ginger. I am looking forward to take a slice off the cake tomorrow afternoon to check if that is still the main flavour. The juice of 3 limes went in after the cake came out of the baking dish.

260 g flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 pinch of salt
150 g sugar
100 g raw light brown sugar
4 medium free range eggs
200 g softened unsalted butter
3 limes zested - Juice for later
60 g fresh ginger
1 lime
250 g icing sugar
3 tbsp water
thin slices of the last lime

Preheat the oven 170 C
In a large bowl combine butter, sugars, lime zest and chopped ginger (use a kitchen blender to make a fine Crumb of ginger) until smooth.
Add one egg and beat, then the other and so on.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt together.
Mix in with the butter mix.

Use a 25 cm rectangular baking dish and butter and flour it.
Fill in the batter and bake for 35 - 40 min, then cover with Aluminium foil.
Bake until you reach 70 - 80 min. I needed 74 min until the cake was ready.

Let it sit in the baking dish on a rack for 15 min, then turn it out and over.
Heat up the Juice of 3 limes to boiling and poke a couple of holes into the cake.
Spoon the hot lime Juice over it.

Cool down completely.

Mix the Juice of 1 lime with the icing sugar and add as much water as needed.
Smear over the cake, so that it can run down the sides.

I took the peel off the lime with a Speed peeler and cooked them 10 min in boiling water.
Then sliced them very fine.
In the same pot, with 2 tbsp of sugar I cooked them in 100 ml water as long as the water needed to evaporate and the caramel started. Loosened with a little water, I let them cool down.
Drop on the still wet white coat of the cake.

The cake now has to rest for 2 more Hours, then you can store it for the ext day.

Carrot Caponata

This is a Jamie Oliver recipes. I found it in an envelope of cut outs my friend send me often.

This British Chef is often known for his quick dishes. This is not one of them. Cooking time is more then an hour and you have to watch the cooking process closely.

I made just a pan for myself to eat with the Asian duck. I just used a quarter of the ingredients he used.

It is sweet and tangy and when you let the carrots keep a little bite to them a very tasty dish.

recipe for 1:
250 g Baby carrots
30 g raisins
20 g pine nuts
1 small red onion
1 clove of garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp runny honey
1 tsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Wash the carrots and top and tail them.
Slice onion and garlic into strips.
In a pan that is wide enough to fit all the carrots without laying on top of each other, heat up the oil.
Start onion and garlic for 3 min, then add carrots, pine nuts and raisins. Stir well reduce the heat to medium and cook with a lid on. Season with salt and pepper. Stir often and add a tbsp of water 2 or 3 times. Can take more then an hour, depending of the thickness of the carrots.
When the carrots reach your desired softness, add honey, caramelize and add vinegar

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Asian Duck

I found this recipe on the Internet at Chefkoch.de. A fire fighter put that recipe online.

But first things first. I did not know what to cook during the Easter Holiday. On Bank Holiday Monday I am invited at a friends house, so I do not need to cook that day. I just have to bring a cake.
I went to a local Supermarket and found a duck, fresh not frozen. Coming home with it I started to check a whole Plethora of recipes. Some in my lots of cookbooks, some on the Internet. The spiced Asian duck won.

This was the reason for the spice blend making yesterday. Preparing the bird with the fresh mixed spices was an eyeopener. You wont get such a fragrant smell when you use store bought spices.
Quartre Épices is the base of this rub. I mixed in some more spices.

I just opened the oven after nearly reaching the full cooking time and the smell and look of the duck are amazing. Brushing it with the rub and turning it gave it an extra crispy skin.

But for the skin I went a step further than the recipe told me. I exfoilated the skin with a salt rub and let set sit 10 min before I took it off with a paper towel. The dry rub of the spices had a good base to kling to the skin.

2 kg duck
2 tbsp Quartre Èpices
4 tbsp soy Sauce
5 tbsp honey
2 tsp Ground ginger
a couple of Drops Tabasco (optional)

Preheat the oven to 220 C.
Wash the duck and take off any excess fat hanging around.
Pat dry and give it a good rub on all sides with salt, let it sit 10 min.
Make the wet rub.
Take off the salt with a paper towel.
Rub the duck with the spice blend and put some with salt inside the cavity.
Use the deep try in the oven and fill that with 750 ml hot water
Put the rack on top and place the duck on breast side down.#
Bake for 20 min.
Reduce the heat to 180 C and take a brush and get some of the wet rub on.
Bake for 10 min, turn the duck and brush again. Bake for 10 min,
repeat until you reach a cooking time of 1 hour 30 min.
Shut the oven off and open the door and pull the rack forward. Let the duck rest for 5 min.
There should be enough sauce in the tray.
Get some of it out and reduce it or use is just as it is.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Quartre Épices - my own blend

I need the Quartre Épices Spice Blend for my duck recipe. I do not have it in stock and seldom use it.
Google told me different methods and the verity of single spices that are a part of the blend.

I have the spices in stock and took a couple of minutes to make the Quartre Épices spice mix myself.

3 tbsp white peppercorns
1 tsp cloves
1/2 grated nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
1 pinch of ground mace

In a dry pan I roasted the white pepper and the cloves. It gives a wonderful aroma. That went into a spice grinder.
Mixed with the other spices to a new blend.
I put that into a jar with a solid lid.

Chestnut Spag Bol - vegan

The Bolognese Sauce is absolutely tasty. The vegan Parmesan was gross and inedible. I used good quality Pecorino later. Sorry Vegans, come up with something tastier for a cheese lover like me.

It is Good Friday today and a holiday here in Germany. Traditional no meat is eaten on this day. Fish or vegetarian dishes are mostly served.

I went for a vegan option of Spaghetti Bolognese. Not to eat vegan, but to use some chestnuts sitting in my store cupboard since fall.

I found the original recipe in an Alnatura magazine issue. Alnatura is one of the Hot Shots of organic products here in Germany. Their headquarter is just about 600 m down the road from where I live. They built new there and have a public vegetarian restaurant on site. But I haven' t been there yet.
Reading the recipe I was on one side intrigued, but wondered about the bland seasoning. I was right and I adjusted the seasoning.

Recipe for 4:
200 g precooked chestnuts
500 ml chunky tomato sauce
1 spring onion
3 cloves of garlic
500 g large white mushrooms
3 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp tomato paste
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp smoked paprika salt
2 tsp black pepper
3 tbsp parsley
1 tsp Pul Biber or chili powder
320 g Semolina pasta
Vegan Cheese or Pecorino

Peel and chop onion and garlic, halve the mushrooms and slice them. In a high bowl mix tomato sauce and chestnuts with a stick blender to a coarse paste.

In a large pan heat up the oil and add onions, garlic and mushrooms. Cook for 3 min, add the smoked salt and pepper and cook until they are reduced to half the mass.
Add tomato paste and cook out. Now in with the blended tomato sauce. Cook for 6 min and seadon well. Add vinegar and sugar.
Drain the pasta and a a bit of the pasta water to the sauce. Mix with the pasta and parsley.

Friday, 19 April 2019

Fennel, Red Cabbage and Lentil Curry with Prawns

Eat something with lentils and call it a Curry. In India eating a dish with pulses or legumes is called Dhal.

The most intriguing thing about cooking Indian dishes is the use of spices. The whole ones freshly toasted and the vibrant ground ones like tumeric and chilies. I love the popping sound of spices in hot ghee.
The blend of garlic and ginger with onions and chili makes the base to each dish for me.

Leave out the prawns in this dish and you have a great vegetarian meal.

recipe for 2:
100 g red cabbage
1 small head fennel
1 red bell pepper
50 g red lentils
50 g yellow lentils
3 spring onions
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 knob of ginger
125 g cooked prawns
2 tbsp parsley
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp red Curry paste
200 g Greek yogurt
salt and pepper
1/2 lime
1 tsp sugar

Chop the veggies. In a small blender make a paste with ginger, garlic and spring onions.
Heat up the coconut oil and toast the seeds, add curry paste and let it cook through completely.
Now in with the paste and all the veggies and the lentils. Cook until tender and add some water during that time.
Since cooked prawns do not need much cooking, just add them to warm through at the end before you stir in the yogurt,season with salt, pepper, lime, parsley and sugar.

The dish is mild, if you like it spicy, add chilies from the beginning.