Monthly Archives: February 2010

Lost loves

It’s heartbreaking when you lose something you love, right? In this case, when they discontinued Flipz, the chocolate covered pretzels that were sold in the UK until sometime around 2000 if memory serves. I remember when that little blue bag was the highlight of my day (sad, I know…) and how it just disappeared, without reason, one day. No explanation, no phone call, it was just gone.

This is a real case of Good + good= supergood (unlike some previous examples I could mention) and no other combination of salty and sweet (sorry, bacon and maple syrup just not the same) I think works as well.

I have seriously pondered melting dark chocolate and dip salty pretzels into it, to see if I could recreate flipz somehow (especially as I imagine it would be even better with plain or dark chocolate).  Anyways, flipz – gone but not forgotten!

– Stef

Speaking of ruining soups…

It’s not just our recipe-following German blogger who is struggling with stray ingredients. I made a family staple on Sunday, Thai-ish curried coconut soup, and completely ruined it. As followers of my chaotic cooking well know, I’m a big fan of throwing random things in a pot and seeing what happens.

So what happens when you splash a bit of fish sauce into the pot? Nothing good.

If you don’t believe me and try it yourself, a squeeze of lemon mostly rolls back the damage. Next time I’ll follow Stef’s lead and only experiment with pickoutable ingredients. Is it just me, or does a squeeze of lemon cover a multitude of sins?


A good soup ruined

….by the evil coriander, and at some stage I will have to dedicate a blog post to the evilness of coriander. But for now let me briefly revisit previous cooking dilemma. In aforementioned edition of Good Food I found a recipe for red lentil and chickpea soup. Considering the fact that it continues to be one of the coldest winters I have experienced in this lovely country (13years, I’ve been here.. and counting) I felt the need for warming comfort food and thought I should give it a go.

Great soup, destroyed by coriander

Like the good German that I am I went off and got all the ingredients: red lentils (140g), 1 red onion, can of chopped tomatoes, some cumin (and chili flakes if you’re so inclined), half a tin of chickpeas and , hey, what a surprise, stupid coriander. I really should have known better but there was a comment by someone who said how much the coriander helped the taste blabla. Now see, if you can’t cook and lack confidence in combining things, never mind herbs and tastes, you simply stick to the recipes, dumb I know, but you can take the girl out of Germany, but not Germany …you get the gist.

So, you dry-fry chili with cumin, then add oil, chopped onion and cook for 5min. Stir in lentils, 850ml of vegetable stock and tomatoes and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15min and get out your stick blender in the mean time.  Once lentils etc are soft, blend into a rough puree and lastly add chickpeas. Stir in chopped coriander.

All filled with glee at my first grown up soup and the first vegetarian dish without aubergine in about a week or two, I was all chuffed. Until I had my first spoon of really yummy, warming and filing soup- RUINED by the coriander. Imagine eating something nice, flavoursome chickpea-lentil thing and suddenly you have a bar of soup on your spoon, that’s pretty much how it felt. So I took a fork and fished out the chopped coriander again. A fun way to spend half an hour, no doubt, but lesson has been learned, coriander needs to be avoided under all circumstances (soup really was good though!)

– Stef


From flickr user longhorndave under Creative Commons licence

I feel slightly bad posting about these because I’m not sure you can get them in London.  But if you find yourself in Argentina, keep an eye out for Havanna Alfajores – they’re a thick layer of dulce de leche sandwiched between two very fluffy, cake-like cookies, covered in dark chocolate.  Seriously good.  I suspect the rest of the ones I was given are not long for this world.

– Anna

Purple and Round

And what else would I be talking about than my continued favourite veg – the aubergine! I still had one left and it cried out for its favourite friend, round and red in this case, the much-beloved (unless you’re Eve) tomato. So thanks to the a very useful edition of Good Food magazine, that had loads of good recipes in it (Mar 2010 edition) I tried out Melanzane alla parmigiana aka aubergine roasted with tomatoes and other stuff from a book called “Market Kitchen Cookbook“.

So, you need an aubergine cut in thick slices, 1 garlic close, 500g tomato passata, some basil and 100g grated Parmesan (I used less and it was still fine). Easy enough, I like recipes with a short list of ingredients.

You’re supposed to press your aubergine slices for up to 2hr, needless to say I didn’t – I mean who has the time? I pressed them for about 30min in the end. But if you feel the need, salt each aubergine slice and put them between chopping board weighed down with something heavy. Meanwhile get your tomato sauce going. Fry some garlic and add the passata, let that simmer down for up to 45min with a bit of salt and pepper.

Rinse your aubergine slices and dry them off, then briefly fry them on each side in some olive oil, just so they are nicely browned. Then assemble into ovenproof dish (and heat oven at about 200C), aubergine slices first, then pour over reduced tomato sauce. Chuck the basil on top and lastly scatter over the parmesan on top. Into oven for about 20min. Really really really liked it and made a nice vegetarian main.

So that’s my second post involving aubergine, tomato and cheese- two is not enough, I will strive to find more varieties…aubergine…aubergine (singing this to the tune of Edelweiss, totally works)

– Stef

Inspired by Eve’s twits

Specifically, the one about coffee and cilantro.  It reminded me of a blog I saw the other day called Putting Weird Things in Coffee, which does exactly what it says on the tin.  I’m not sure that cilantro is one of those weird things, but if you’re curious you can check it out here.

– Anna

Nuts nuts nuts

I appreciate it’s not very original to be going on about this, but the fact that the hazelnut seems to be less respected around here does bother me tono end. The almond gets all the glory, and you can actually get it ready ground – hazelnut no such luck. Because toasting and then grinding it is simply too much hassle (I am very lazy) I now import ground hazelnuts from Germany. And why go through the bother?

So I can make yummy cakes with it. My chocolate hazelnut recipe from my greataunt Hedy I have already sung the praises of extensively so it was time to try out something else. Hazelnut torte!

Is it me or did I take an unsharp picture??

This goes really well coffee, I have to say. What you need is:

100g melted butter, 140g chopped/ground hazelnuts (you want them not too smooth so you have some texture), 140g plain flour, 140g caster sugar

1 tsp of baking powder, 2 medium eggs, 100ml cream and some icing sugar for dusting.

Preheat oven (which is such a stupid word, the brilliant George Carlin enlightened me as to how unnecessary that word is. As he said ” there is only two states you oven can be in, heated or unheated. You can’t heat it before you heat it” same as “pre-boarding”…anyways, I’m going off subject but he really was genius) . Sieve flour, 1 tsp of baking powder onto the chopped hazelnuts and stir in the caster sugar. Add the eggs, cream and melted butter, beat with a wood spoon until creamy. Pour mixture into cake tin (20 or 23cm) and bake at 180C for 35-40minutes or until it’s firm to the touch and brown-golden colour. Dust with some icing sugar once it’s cooled and enjoy with a nice cup of coffee.

And another proof that the hazelnut should get more respect, because with almonds this cake just wouldn’t work so well (too sweet and boring)

– Stef