Saturday, October 30, 2010

Food in Berlin

Some nanoreviews
  • Wednesday dinner, Sarah Wiener's Speisezimmer: Service a bit rocky at first, got better after the new guy moved to do something else. Food mostly quite good aside from one of the components of the game zweierlei being pretty dry.
  • Thursday lunch, Sian: Very nice noodle and wonton soups and teas. Gotta make pho again. Thing to make: green tea brewed with a bit of ginger and lime leaf
  • Thursday dinner, Dos Palillos: We walked by a couple of times and this place looked so right, online reviews sounded good, so we gave it a try. 16 courses of small-plate pan-asian goodness. Only one miss in the whole batch (the sunemono, which somehow didn't come together). Wow.
  • Friday lunch, Curry 36: Gotta eat currywurst in Berlin! Curry could have been more intense, but good sausage and fries.
  • Friday dinner, Renger Patzsch: Service was somewhat overwhelmed (not helped by the fact that we were in the back room), but they were friendly about it. Food very enjoyable.
  • Saturday lunch, Dolores: California-style burritos in Berlin. :-) We enjoyed them.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Monday: potato-leek soup

It's getting to be soup season! yay!

Usual procedure: thinly slice leeks and cook in butter until soft. Add diced potato and cook another couple of minutes. Add chicken stock and milk and let simmer until the potatoes are done. Puree and then add white pepper, nutmeg, and salt to taste. Top with chopped chives and some crispy lardons and serve with bread.

Together with a big nussli salad this made for a very good meal.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sunday: potato gratin

A relatively simple one since the kitchen of the vacation house was rustic.

Thickly slice some potatoes then boil them until almost done. Add a couple cloves, some black pepper, and a crushed garlic clove to some milk and bring to just under the boil. Let steep and then strain. Layer the potatoes with thinly sliced onion and smoked ham (used speck from Sudtirol), pour over the sauce, top with cheese, and bake until it's ready to go.

Good stuff.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Party preparations

Things I made for my "pre-birthday" celebration in the Schwarzwald this weekend:

  1. Bread and butter pickles: recipe from Quick Pickles; I used half the sugar and fennel seeds instead of celery seeds (since I couldn't find celery seeds). Great success here.
  2. Pickled butternut squash: recipe from Quick Pickles; I used half the sugar and thinly sliced the squash instead of dicing it. The thin slicing is a big bonus for this recipe.
  3. Quince mustard: inspired by several different recipes. Technique: scrub a quince then quarter it and remove the core. Chop into 1-2cm pieces and simmer those in water to barely cover until soft; puree. Add some brown sugar. Combine some of the quince puree with powdered yellow mustard, whole brown mustard, some cider vinegar, and a bit of salt. Let stand in the fridge overnight and then add more of whatever is required to make it right.
  4. Almonds toasted with olive oil and then seasoned with salt and cumin
  5. Cashews toasted with olive oil and seasoned with salt and piment d'espelette
  6. Chili with lots of beer: from Thrill of the Grill.
  7. A big tray of cornbread: standard recipe, doubled.
  8. Bean salad: green and wax beans cooked until crisp-tender then tossed with minced spring onion, diced Schwarzwalderschinken, parsley, white balsamico, and olive oil.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thursday's mixed bag

Inspired by our visit to Stucki, I picked up a copy of one of Tanja Grandits' cookbooks that contains recipes that mostly have a chance of being doable in a home kitchen. Last night I tried a first recipe from there: watercress panna cotta topped with a chantarelle-haselnut tatar. The recipe is good and not overly much trouble to make, but next time I do something like this I will definitely replace the cream with plain milk: otherwise it's just too heavy for my tastes.

To go with the fancy dish I also did something simple, frikadellen: combine mixed ground meat with kalbs brät, minced onion, salt, ground coriander, and black pepper. Let stand an hour or so and then form frikadellen and cook in a bit of olive oil.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nanorestaurant Review: Restaurant Stucki (Basel)

Two very smiley faces and a big "wow".

I really need to find a source of shiso.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Monday: chicken-squash stew

This is a recipe from Big Flavors that I've made before (though it doesn't seem like it was really so long ago). Deviations from the recipe this time: I used just leg quarters instead of the whole chicken and instead of doing a 2Tbs paprika and 1Tbs cayenne I did 3Tbs hot paprika.

The results, served with rice, were great.

Dessert failure: panna cotta with lemon balm

We had a couple of nice bunches of lemon balm from the biokiste and not much idea what to do with them. My first idea was to make a panna cotta infused with the lemon balm instead of vanilla. I think this probably would have worked, but then I decided that Bittman's buttermilk panna cotta recipe sounded really good too; so I tried buttermilk panna cotta with lemon balm.

If I had thought the whole thing through after reading the ingredients list on the buttermilk container, I would have known what was going to happen when I took the acidulated milk product and heated it almost to the boil. I didn't think things all the way through though, so I had a "doh!" moment when the milk proteins started coagulating as I made my panna cotta. I didn't want to start completely over (which would have been a waste and required a trip to the store for more gelatin), so I decided to try and salvage things. During the infusion stage I stirred frequently to prevent the curds from getting too big, then after picking out the herb stalks (good thing I didn't chop the lemon balm before adding it!) I pureed the whole thing for a while with the stick blender before pouring it into the dishes. These went into the fridge to set. The results were, as expected, not what one hopes for: each form had three layers - fine curds on the bottom, a layer of whey, then fine curds on the top. To be fair, it was edible, but I certainly wouldn't have served it to guests.

The recipe is probably still doable with the acidulated buttermilk that we get by heating just the milk with the sugar and stuff to be infused, letting that cool some, then straining it into the cold buttermilk. That's for next time.

Another idea: ricotta cheese infused with lemon balm... doesn't sound half bad. ;-)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sunday: curried lentils

For the lentils: cook minced onion and a good amount of chopped ginger and garlic in clarified butter until it's nicely aromatic. Add rinsed green lentils, salt, and water, bring to a simmer, cover and let simmer for a couple of hours, until the lentils are tender. 20 minutes before serving add another bit of fresh ginger. Serve topped with a bit of plain yogurt.

As a side I baked the two small, round, green winter squash that we had from last week's biokiste: after hollowing out the squash I added salt, butter, and garam masala and then baked them until tender.

Simple but really satisfying.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Saturday: sweet and sour pork

The sweet and sour pork recipe from Land of Plenty is becoming a favorite. To go with it this time I made stir-fried corn and green peppers. This is also from Land of Plenty, and was quite good, but there's nothing about it that really jumps out and makes you say "chinese".

Nice food that led to nice leftovers (mmm, fried rice) on Sunday.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Steaks with tomato-vegetable sauce

Sear both sides of thin (.5cm) steaks and set aside. In the same pan saute finely chopped onion and garlic until the onion softens, then deglaze with red wine and let the wine reduce by half. Add canned tomatoes, salt, and some piment d'espelette and let the sauce simmer 10-15 minutes. Add leftover cooked vegetables (diced fennel and kohlrabi) and let simmer another couple minutes. Add the steaks to the sauce and let them heat through. Serve over linguini.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Picked up some speckknoedel at the grocery store and served them in a soup made from vegetable bouillon, diced onions, carrots, fennel, and kohlrabi.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Split-pea soup

Cook chopped onion, garlic, and diced carrot in olive oil until the onion softens, add rinsed split peas and hot vegetable bouillon, bring to a simmer and cook until the peas are done (about an hour). 10 minutes before serving add wienerli to let them heat through. Some herbs de provence wouldn't have hurt here, but we didn't have any. :-)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Linguini with olive oil, garlic, and basil

Brought on by the fact that the supermarkets were closed, a pantry dish:

Add chopped garlic and some piment d'espelette to olive oil in a pan. Put the pan over medium-low heat and let it get good and hot (but don't color the garlic). Just before serving add chopped basil then toss in the cooked linguine and a good couple pinches of salt. Serve immediately.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Barley with salami and vegetables

Cook chopped garlic, diced hard salami (I used venison salami), fennel, kohlrabi, and carrots in olive oil until the carrots soften a bit. Add rinsed barley and some vegetable bouillon, bring to a simmer, and let cook until the barley is ready to eat.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Linguini with fresh tomato sauce

Chop some garlic coarsely and cook it in olive oil over over medium-high heat until it turns golden. Add chopped fresh tomatoes and salt and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until the tomatoes break down, then add some chopped fresh basil and a bit of minced garlic and let simmer another minute or two before serving over linguine.

As accompaniments we had diced kohlrabi and carrots simmered in butter until crisp-tender and a big green salad.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

another silly milestone

This is post 1500

Wednesday: pasta with spinach, ricotta, and ham

We had leftover smoked pork and a big bag of spinach in the fridge... there's a recipe for spinach, ricotta, and ham in Hazan... no additional thought was required. :-)

My one deviation from the recipe was the use of smoked pork loin instead of boiled ham. I'm sure this does give a different final result, but it still seemed like something that ought to work. Besides, compared to the change I did last time I made this recipe it's minor.

We ate the sauce over orecchiette and, as usual for recipes from Hazan, it was excellent.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Monday: ways to use up zwiebelkuchen leftovers

There was topping leftover from Saturday's Zwiebelkuchen that needed to be eaten. This is what I came up with:

Peel and thickly slice some potatoes. Steam the slices until almost cooked through then transfer them in a single/double layer to an olive-oiled baking dish, sprinkle with salt. Combine the zwiebelkuchen topping with additional beaten egg and spread over the potatoes. Bake at 180C until the topping is done.

Nice, nice stuff.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Sunday: beans and greens

Ah the joy of beans and greens! :-)

This time I used pinto beans and frisee as the bean and the green. I added some diced smoked pork loin (rippli) and white wine not too long before serving.

Together with some good bread and a big green salad this was some excellent comfort food.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Saturday: Zwiebelkuchen

It's the time of year when at least one zwiebelkuchen needs to be made to go with the Federweisser that's available.

This time I followed Andrea's usual recipe with the exception of using piment d'espelette instead of cayenne.

The results, together with a big salad and a bottle of white suuser (Schlipfer), made for a very nice seasonal meal.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Friday Frikadelle

Not chosen for the alliteration, but I'm not complaining about it either. :-)

I made a batch of little frikadellen from mixed ground pork and beef, minced onion, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and hot paprika. To go with them I did a big pot of sautéed vegetables: long peppers, carrots, cauliflower, onion, garlic.

Of course we had a big green salad as well.