Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Leipziger Allerlei

We were a group of ten people – all from different countries attending a language school.
Eight girls – two boys ( a Frenchman and me) but we had been separated because the girls decided that each nation has to cook one evening a special dish of its nation.
I was jealous, because Xavier could join the group of two beautiful French girls and I was on a group of my own.
They were fair – they allowed the single Russian girl and me to cook at the last days and to help each other. May be they feared that my dish would be a disaster if I have to cook on my own – I don’t know. And it would have nearly been one, but not because I am not able to cook, but because I had no idea what to cook.
I can tell you at once about ten French dishes, five Chinese and some Portuguese but non German. Does any real German dish ever exist?
I called my friends and asked them about a typical German dish.
Known all over Germany – impossible!
I thought about three days than a friend of mine – a Greek – told me:
“Why don’t you cook the vegetable thing we ate at your house? Isn’t it typical of your region?”
Well, I was ashamed because it is named after my hometown and is typical Saxon, not German but it is of my hometown – so even better!

Leipziger Allerlei

You will find in some cooking books different versions of this dish because it was cooked with all different kinds of vegetables according to the season and actually you can use nearly all vegetables as long as there are a lot of them, different kinds.
So this is only one possibility and there is no limit for your creativity.

You need for two persons:
150 g asparagus
125 g young carrots
125 g cauliflower
50 g peas (can be frozen ones)
75 g mushrooms (common field mushrooms)
20 g Butter
10 g flour
1 teaspoon broth extract
1 egg yolk
salt, pepper

You peel the asparagus and cut them in five cm long pieces, clean the carrots and cut them in stripes, wash now the cauliflower and cut off the “flowers”. Cook all with the peas in salty water until they are ready (if they were spaghetti I would say “al dente”) The carrots must not be soft, if they crack slightly while biting they are ok.
Take them off the water but don’t throw the water away, rinse the vegetables in cold water and dry them afterwards. Clean the mushrooms, fry them with butter for some minutes and take them off. Put the flour instead of the mushrooms into the pan and fry it while styring golden and add piece by piece as much of the vegetable broth (in that you have cooked the vegetables) as you need to create a creamy sauce. Add now the broth extract, salt and pepper.
Put the vegetables and the mushrooms into this sauce and heat it, add the yolk and season it, but don’t cook it again – only heating!
My granny told me about recipes of this dish with crayfish – well of cause this is possible, but it isn’t used anymore because this recipe was from times when crayfish was cheap. Rich people can it add, but cook it separately.

Friday, February 10, 2006

tomato tureen with mushrooms

Five years ago I visited a friend in Florina, a small town near the Prespa lakes at the border to FYROM and Albania. I travelled by plane to Thessaloniki and further on by bus. It took several hours and the bus stopped in al lot of villages. Ancient places like Pella or even big towns like Edessa. In Agras it stopped for half an hour and we had the chance to eat something in a nice tavern near the bus stop.
It was in August and quite hot outside, so my appetite for something hot was reduced to a minimum. So I asked the waitress what kind of cold meal she would suggest and she told me about all kinds of salads and something like a tomato pudding.
“Tomato pudding?” I asked her and she said, “Yes, something like that.”
It sounds strange, but interesting and it was quite cheap, so I ordered it and found it delicious.
Back at home I tried it myself and here is what I made out of it.
(It is not strictly vegetarian because of gelatine, but you can find substitutes)

You need:

1 onion
3 spoons olive oil
½ kg tomatoes
3 spoons tomato puree
½ teaspoon paprika
150 g broccoli
6 sheets white gelatine
80 g whipped cream
300 g field mushrooms (Psalliota campestis)
2 spoons chopped parsley
salt & pepper

Peel the onion and cut it into two halves. One half will be chopped in cubes now and fried transparent with some oil in a pot. Add the washed and cut tomatoes and cook all covered at medium heat for about 10 minutes.
Strain it, add the tomato puree and season it with salt, pepper and paprika.
Wash now the broccoli and cut it, season it with salt and steam it covered. Rinse it with cold water after 5 minutes.
Soak the gelatine, dissolve it while stiring in a pot and add it to the tomato puree.
Add the whipped cream when the puree starts getting hard.
Put some broccoli in a bowl, add the puree and put it in the fridge for about 2 hours.

Wash the mushrooms, cut them in slices and fry the chopped the second half of the onion.
Cook the mushrooms and the rest of the broccoli for about 5 minutes, season it with salt, pepper and parsley and add the fried onion.
Serve it with the “tomato pudding” and fresh white bread or fried potatoes (and of course Feta).

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Pour Chloe

;–) easymade for „Phytophagous” ;- )

Backed tomatoes with feta cheese.

I always loved the Mediterranean cuisine. It’s light, not as heavy as the German and very delicious. The combination of fresh, natural grown vegetables and fruits and more often cheese together with a tasty glass of wine make an evening complete.
I remember very well the last time I have eaten this.
I was on holiday in Paliouri, a small town on the cap of Kassandra, one of the peninsulas of Chalkidiki. The tavern was near shore, so I could watch the sunset while eating.
It was served in the hot pan with white bread and Retsina – the Greek resinous wine (it’s only a question of getting used to it! After the first kilo, Greeks measure it in kilo, you will love it).

You need:

1 kg tomatoes
400 g feta cheese
2 onions
2 garlic cloves
3 spoons olive oil
2 twigs thyme
2 twigs basil

how it is done:

Put some oil in an iron pan (or take an ovenproof dish). Wash the tomatoes and cut them in slices and put them into the pan. Cut also some slices of the feta. Peel the onion and cut them in cubes. Add the onion cubes to the tomatoes and squeeze the rest of the feta above all. Season all with salt and pepper, but be careful! Usually is the feta quite salty, and squeeze the garlic above. Drop at least some olive oil above.
Put it in the oven and bake it for about 15 minutes at 200 °C.
While baking wash the thyme and basil and pull the leafs off the twigs and add the leafs to the tomatoes and bake them again for 5 minutes.

The feta slices are additionally for eating to the tomato pan and bread.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Soya kebabs with vegetables

For six (depending on how hungry they are)
These are really yummy and very easy to make. If you want to tease kids into eating soya try them, preferably with some rice or if you are really bold, some chips on the side.
There are three secrets you have to know:
-Don’t over boil them because then, they won’t be able to absorb all the nice spices you are going to season them with.
-They do need lots of spices and you may experiment with them. You can try cumin or curry (but not at the same time) and serve them with basmati rice or oregano and garlic like I did.
-Don’t tell anyone these are substitutes for meat. They might look like meat but they taste nothing like it.

For the kebabs
1 bag of soya kebabs (about 250 gr/8 oz)
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
half cup of oil
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon coriander
at least 3 glasses of vegetable broth (if you use ready made don’t add salt)
skewers for the kebabs
2 big red peppers deseeded and cut in squares (well not real squares!)
2 big yellow peppers as above
500-600 gr. button mushrooms or any other kind you like

For the marinade
Mix together:
2 cups olive oil
juice of two lemons
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 tablespoons oregano
1 tablespoon mustard

In a big and deep frying pan, heat half a cup of olive oil and add garlic, ginger and coriander. Add the kebabs and stir continuously for a couple of minutes, so that they absorb the flavours of the spices. Add a glass of vegetable broth and bring to the boil. Add more broth as needed. Keep an eye on the kebabs the way we do with risotto. When the kebabs are tender remove from the heat.
In another pan heat some oil and add peppers and mushrooms. Stir fry them until they become tender. Now we thread the kebabs, peppers and mushrooms on to wooden skewers (or metal ones). That’s the difficult part, so ask for help at this point. It is not really difficult, it’s just that it takes a lot of time to thread all of these kebabs.
To make the marinade, we mix together oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, mustard, and spoon the marinade over the kebabs.
I served those with a spinach salad with guacamole and they were great. And you can eat hundreds of them because they are much lighter than meat kebabs.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Metlin's Melomakarona

That’s something we eat only during the Christmas season. But they are so delicious I could eat them every day. This is my mom’s recipe. It is a tiny bit different than other melomakarona recipes in that it doesn’t have cloves. Melomakarona are essentially cookies that have been softened by being dipped in honey syrup.
I am posting it for Metlin who asked for it.


For the dough

2 cups of olive oil
1 cup of brandy
1 cup of orange juice
225 gr of sugar
½ tablespoon cinnamon powder
grated rind of 1 orange
1 kg of plain flour
2 tablespoons of baking powder
1 tablespoon of baking soda

For the syrup

2 cups of honey
2 cups of sugar
2 cups of water
1 cup of crushed walnuts

Combine the olive oil, brandy, orange juice, sugar and grated orange rind, cinnamon powder and beat well. Add the baking powder and soda to the flour. Transfer the oil mixture to a large bowl and add the flour gradually. The dough must be soft but not sticky. If it is too sticky, add 1-2 tablespoons more flour and mix it well. If the dough is not soft and resembles the one we use for pies and breads, the melomakarona are going to be too hard. Knead softly for a while and then form the melomakarona into small round or oval shapes. You may want to flatten them a bit with your hand if they are too round.
Put the melomakarona in an unbuttered baking sheet or a baking pan in a pre-heated oven (gas no. 4/ 350 grades F/ 180 grades C) for half an hour. Allow to cool well.

For the syrup
In a saucepan, add the honey, the sugar and 2 cups of water. Simmer the syrup for about 3 minutes. Skim the foam off the top, then pour the hot syrup over the cold melomakarona. Sprinkle with the crushed walnuts. Ready. Eat them all.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

for Cathy!

Yoghurt - pepper - lamb


300 g lamb meat (best from the shoulder)
1 onion
2 spoons clarified butter
¼ l red wine medium dry
1 spoon dried green pepper
some fresh thyme
white pepper
1 spoon flour
100 g yoghurt (best of Greek yoghurt)

(The lamb meat is best when the fat parts are white! If they are going to be yellow - it is mutton)


Cut the meat in cubes of about 2 cm. Peel and chop the onion, fry it in the clarified butter until it is transparent. Add the meat. When the lamb is brown add the wine and the green pepper.(Green pepper is not as hot as white or black pepper).
Cook on low heat for about 50 minutes.

In the meantime prepare the potatoes. (you can also use rice instead) They will need about 20 minutes.
Peel the potatoes (about 2-3 medium sized per person) and cook them in salty water.
(If the lamb isn’t ready yet ,leave the potatoes in the hot water and take them out just before serving. You can decorate them with chopped parsley)

After the lamb has been cooked for about 50 minutes add some thyme leaves and season it with salt and pepper.
Mix the flour and the yoghurt together and add to the lamb. Let the mixture simmer for some minutes.
Season it again with salt and pepper (you can also add some brandy if you like).
Serve with some thyme leafs and the potatoes.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

My apple jam

My jam

Aren’t apples good looking? In fairy tales, you seldom read about oranges or pears or bananas. It’s always apples. Red, shiny, firm, not too sweet, those are my favourite to eat. But for jam, they’d better be sweet and not as firm.
My mum goes to the open market every Friday and buys tons of apples and pears and oranges. Then, when I go to see her, about once or twice a week, she gives me carrier bags with fruit enough to feed ten people for a week. So I decided to make some jam so as not to let all this fruit go to waste.
Now, it is known that the best time to make apple jam is November. But I made some a few days ago and it was delicious. I didn’t add pectin. Some recipes recommend it, but I disagree, since apples are already rich in pectin. My apples were already very sweet and I even halved the sugar in the original recipe.

You’ll need
7 cups apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (try to include apples of the same kind)
3-4 cups sugar (depends on the apples really, my recipe asked for 6 cups of sugar but I added 3 and a half)
* 1/4 cup Lemon Juice
* 2 tbs Cinnamon

1. Place thinly sliced apples in a large saucepan over a high heat.
2. Add the sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon while stirring continuously.
3. Let the mixture boil for about 20 minutes or half an hour until thickened, removing any scum that may rise to the surface. Don’t forget to stir continuously. Some water might be needed, again, depending on the kind of apples you are using.
5. Pour the mixture into jam jars, seal and store away. It’s delicious on toasted bread and butter, or with crepes, or cakes, or tarts.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Mousse au chocolat


2 egg whites
some salt
2 spoons sugar
100 g whipped cream
100 g of slight bitter chocolate

How its done

Mix the egg whites and the salt and make by means of a whisk cream of it. Put it in the fridge for keeping cool. Than mix sugar and whipped cream and if it is still fluid make real cream of it.

If you like you can also add here chopped pips of pistachioes.
Place the chocolate in bowl on top of a pot, filled with water. It is best to melt chocolate above steam so it can’t get burnt. If you chop the chocolate before it will melt easier.
The melted chocolate must not be hot! If you missed the right moment and it is too hot put the bowl in cold water and cool it down while stiring. The chocolate has to be handwarm.

(You might call me Chauvi, but I mean not as warm as womenhands usually are – much warmer!)
You mix carefully the choclate with the egg cream and the whipped cream. Fill it in some dessert bowls and put them for at least 3 hours in the fridge.
If you like to leave it in the bowl, where you made it, you can after the 3 hours form some balls with a spoon and decorate them at the plates.

I like to put some rasped white chocolate above.

Cathy’s Banana Bread

My friend Cathy was kind enough to send this recipe. She mentioned to me she was making banana chocolate chip bread, and it sounded yummy. She also took the photo. I think she qualifies as a food stylist. Thanks Cathy.

You'll need
125 mL butter or margarine, softened
250 mL granulated sugar
2 eggs
3 ripe mashed ripe bananas
500 mL all-purpose flour
5 mL baking soda
2 mL baking powder
2 mL salt

add 250 mL chopped walnuts
175 mL semi-sweet chocolate chips
Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time, beating until smooth. Blend in mashed bananas.
In second bowl, stir flour with baking soda, baking powder, salt and nuts or chocolate chips. Add to banana mixture stirring only to moisten. Transfer to greased loaf pan. Bake in 180 degree C oven for about 1 hour (I find 50 minutes is sufficient, depending on the oven) until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes. Remove from pan and place on cake rack to cool.

The recipe is from The "Company's Coming" cookbook series. It is in the "Muffins & More" book.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Easy made

The Pancake

Sometimes it is not easy to cook for children and adults at the same time. One likes it tasty, others hot and your children very sweet. The pancake is an easy meal that takes no time at all, but can be served in any way you want. It is even representative at parties, as well for children as for adults. And it is with a low fat and carbohydrate content.

All you need for 8 ordinary pancakes is:

90 g flour
100 ml Milk
Salt and sugar
2 Eggs
2 Spoons oil
100 ml mineral water

The flour will be sift and mixed with the milk, some salt and sugar added. Let this dough swell for 30 Minutes. Separate the egg yolk from the white and mix the oil and the egg yolk with the dough. Use the whisk to make of the egg white a cream add the mineral water and the egg cream just before baking the pancake.
(the egg cream has to be put under the dough very carefully! This and the mineral water will make the pancake flimsy)

The pancake needs hot oil for baking. It is made like the French crêpes - the thinner the better, so I suggest you to use a ladle for putting the dough into the pan.
After one side of the pancake is slightly brown you turn it, either by using a plate or at a more artistic way by throwing it into the air.
Usually it is served with sugar and cinnamon, but you can also use jam or even chocolate.

Your child will love you if you peel in advance some apples, cut them in slices add some more sugar into the dough and bake the apple slices. Afterwards you add the dough to the apples and serve the meal with chocolate or cinnamon and sugar.

For your party its a good dessert, if you put strawberries on it and serve with chocolate or whipped cream.
You can also take bacon, but while using meat you have to reduce the sugar at the dough.

bon appétit

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Good old Spanakopitta (Spinach Pie)

Spanakopitta is a very common snack in Greece. I have never seen it as a main course. It usually just exists in the oven or the fridge so that there is something to eat in between meals. Because traditionally, in Greece there are no first and second courses, everything is served at once. So you have your main course and little other dishes around you so that it doesn’t get very boring. Spanakopita is one of the side dishes. Of course this is absurd. It is very filling in itself.
Some people make it with shortcrust pastry and it is still okay. But real spinach pie is made with filo and if you want to be hardcore about tradition, the filo has to be painstakingly handmade, something extremely difficult since it has to be really thin, almost transparent.

(The recipe is heavily adapted from The Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas)

1 kg/ 2 lbs. fresh spinach
500 gr/1 lb. filo (thin pastry sheets) these usually come in 10 filo pastry sheets, (don't open the filo pastry until you're ready to use it because it dries very fast)
4 eggs
1kg / 2 lb. feta cheese
1 onion
olive oil
salt and pepper (go easy on the salt, some feta cheese is too salty and no more salt is needed)
4 tbsp chopped fresh dill
a bit more oil for the baking dish and for the filo

To prepare the filling: Wash all the spinach well and put the leaves into a large bowl. Sprinkle them heavily with salt and then rub it into the leaves with your hands as you tear them into small pieces. After a few minutes of this, the spinach will be reduced to a quarter of its former bulk. Rinse the salt off thoroughly and drain.

Beat the eggs, crumble the feta cheese, and mix together. Add this to the spinach. Chop the onion, sauté it in some olive oil until it begins to brown, and add that to the spinach also. Season the mixture with lots of fresh-ground black pepper and the dill.

Now choose a large, oblong baking dish (about 9" x 13") and oil it lightly. Stack the pound of filo on a flat surface. Brush the top sheet with oil and fit it into the baking pan, with the edges hanging over the sides. The pastry sheets are very large and should extend quite a bit over the edges, even after being fitted against the sides of the pan. Continue in this fashion, brushing each sheet with butter and fitting it into the pan on top of the others. Turn each sheet slightly so that the corners fan out around the pan rather than being stacked on top of each other. Do this until you only have two or three pastry sheets left.

Now pour the filling in and then fold over the ends of the pastry sheets to cover it, brushing with a little more butter. You should have sort of a strange-looking, wrinkled crust on top when you finish. Butter the remaining sheets and place them on top of the whole thing, folding them down to the size of the pan.

With a sharp knife cut through the top layers to the filling in about three places. Brush the top with butter and bake in the middle rack of a preheated oven at 190c (375F) for 35-44 minutes or until golden and crisp. Let it stand for a while because it’s easier to cut when colder. Cut into squares and serve. It can be eaten hot or cold.

New Years Eve Salad

3 to 4 boiled potatoes, some reats of a cooked fish, 1 pickled gherkin, some cooked vagetables, lemonjuice, 1 egg yolk, 3 spoons oil, salt, sugar, 1 onion, parsley

you chop the potatoes, the fish and the pickled gherkin and mi it with the vegetables. The lemonjuice, the egg yolk, oil, salt and sugar will be mixed too and you prepare the salad with them.
The choped onion and parsley will be sprinkled over the salad. Ready!