Author Archives: stefap

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

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

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

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

Turning east for inspiration

So after my failed vegetarian attempt, I now strive to be more varied in my cooking endeavours. It is the least I can do after my pathetic attempt at living without meat. I was mighty proud of my first, own attempt at rogan josh (though I cheated with rice and naan, both ready made). Not being able to eat anything spicy, rogan josh is the only other curry I can eat (korma being the other one) . But ever since someone told me of the calorie count of a korma (d’uh, I know) my korma love affair is over for good. Rogan josh my new way forward.

I started off by boiling bite-sized pieces of sweet potato for 5min. Then I fried one red onion cut into wedges with pieces of chicken until golden. After that I added two tomatoes cut into pieces. That was followed by Rogan josh paste (very little in my case, baby steps and all that…), bit of boiling water and then I let it simmer away. After 5-10min I added a bag of spinach, once that was wilted simply added the sweet potato. Et voila, my first rogan josh curry, fine, not at all authentic I am sure, but at least my first curry attempt that turned out rather good!

– Stef

Vegetarian – for a day

So two of my best friends recently told me that they had decided to try being vegetarian for a month. They both failed within a week but respect for the attempt and the intention. It made me think that I really eat too much meat, well, chicken mainly and that whilst being vegetarian is out of the question, I should at least cut down on my meat consumption. A day, that’s how long I lasted, a day. Shame on me. Essentially it consisted of eating aubergine for day, which, let’s be honest, is almost like meat.

I love aubergine, a) they look cool, good shape and colour, killer combo and b) they taste good especially with anything tomato based (another vegetable that gets full marks for colour and form). Despite the fact that I did not last long on my vegetarian diet, I did at least find one really great – and most importantly, easy- recipe:

Aubergine, superior vegetable in style and taste

All this requires is an aubergine, halved, and roasted in the oven for about 20min. Though requires bit of drizzling in olive oil. Then a cut, large tomato is put on top, covered with a ball of mozzarella. Back in the oven at about 180degrees and 5-7min later, all good. Bit of basil and a pinch of salt and my vegetarian lunch was ready. All hail the aubergine!

– Stef

Things I missed this Christmas

It might be February but I had the realisation today that due to my descaler accident, I was seriously deprived of German Xmas goodness. Luckily I took pictures of it to remind what awaits me next year (unless I decide to try out some other household chemical liquids, there’s always detergent, bleach, etc etc)

So let’s start off with the main for Xmas dinner, that was cruelly denied to me as I was busy eating anti-acids….

Roasted pork, marinated in a honey glaze for up to a day, with Swabian spaetzle (typical for our area, special kind of egg noodle), Swabian potato salad (vinegar-based) and yummy yummy red cabbage. I normally hate cabbage, this I totally can get on board with. Needless to say there is a nice gravy-like sauce to boot.

But then there are the German Christmas cookies, aka Gutzle, some of which I even made myself for the office before. I got a whole bag on Xmas that I left ot my nieces and nephew. Didn’t really seem appropriate to be scoffing gutzle post-poisoning.

The almond moons are typical of many gutzle, using ground nuts instead of flour. There are excellent hazelnut macaroons as another exmaple, or these almond moons with a lemon glazing. Next to them the more typical ones using flour dough but with some apricot jam in the middle, just two examples of many more. To be revisited next year.

– Stef

Christmas lessons – Don’t drink descaler

Surviving Christmas season is a tricky at the best of times. I decided I needed a challenge at mine and, by pure accident, I assure you, drank a cup of descaler.

Now, you will ask yourself, how, well, I tried out new herbal tea at my brother’s, that said spicy on the box and looked all christmassy. Which undoubtedly it would have been if I hadn’t made it with water from the kettle. I thought it was a bit acidy but well-mannered to the end I drank it up. Until my sister-in-law realised that the kettle was full of descaler.

Anyways, here are a few lessons (thanks to the good people at the emergency poison hotline in Germany). Do NOT throw up as you’re full of acid, drink a minimum of 3 litres of water, take anti-acid medication, as much of it as possible and only once you convinced the pharmacists that yes, you really did drink descaler. Then lie down for a few hours and ponder you own stupidity. There, another Christmas lesson, right there.

Barley & Me

The joys of barley have extensively been sung before on this blog and I’m definitely cottoning on too late to what is a great great staple. I’m trying so hard to eat seasonal but being a city person personified and barely keeping plants alive, the knowledge of what food is seasonal escapes me. I mean I had to cancel my organic box because 80% of the contents I did not recognise nor knew what to do with. But I try, and the fact that pumpkin and squash is in season ( I hate Halloween) did not pass me by.


Squash, spinach barley risotto with sage

Really simple recipe: Fry and soften onion and garlic, add chopped handfull of sage and barley before adding vegetable stock. Add cut up squash and boil-simmer for about 20min at least. Just when it gets there, take off heat and add spinach, cover for 5min minutes and add a spoonful of parmesan. Really great result and for once seasonal….well, is spinach? Or sage? See, it’s just too hard…

– Stef

I can’t take pictures of food

I mean look at that


Bad picture of good fish

Compare to Ryan, Anna and Eve’s pictures, I should be ashamed! This was aforementioned pollock-pollack whatever it’s called with tomato -thyme sauce. Totally easy and very good, but boy do I need to work on presentation….

– Stef