Pan Bagnat


A specialty of the Cote d’Azure, particularly around the Nice area, it was originally a dinner for the poor fishermen. Made from available ingredients (tuna, capers, anchovies, tomatoes, onions, olives, eggs and stale bread), it was quick and easy to make.

The version today, which is close to the original, was made by the good people of „America’s Test Kitchen“, which I only discovered a few months ago and have come to respect for their accuracy and love of authenticity. Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0Q_6yJeWMk&t=471s

I stayed close to the recipe, but had to make it smaller to not have to eat it 3 days in a row. I did, however, make the herb/onion mix for a full recipe – now I have some left over 🙂 .

To make this best ever tuna sandwich, first buy a really good (authentic) baguette or ciabatta. If you get a baguette (18 inches long), cut it apart lengthwise and remove most of the soft bread from the bottom part. Give it a quick brush of olive oil and toast it for a couple of minutes in the broiler unit of your oven.

Next, prepare the „Nicoise salad“: 1 medium red onion, finely sliced, 3 tbs red wine vinegar added, a garlic clove grated into the mix to marinate for a while to soften the onion. In a food processor, use half a cup of parsley, 2 tbs fresh marjoram, 3 tbs capers, 3 anchovies, half a cup of pitted olives (Calamata, in my case), a twist of black pepper and 1/3 cup of olive oil and give the processor enough pulses to chop into small pieces without making a paste. Mix with the red onion and garlic, add 2 tbs of dijon mustard, then combine everything. Place a good amount into the bottom piece of bread.

Then the tuna is added to the bread. I had bought some high class albacore in olive oil just to try it out. It was very white and very good. One even more exclusive idea would be to take some fresh tuna and to fry it until barely done and use that instead.

The next step is to add the tomato(es). I needed just one. I cored it and cut it into fine slices. To reduce the amount of liquids, I used a paper towel to dry the tomato slices.

Eggs are also necessary for this sandwich. I cooked 2 eggs for 10 minutes, peeled them and let them cool off a bit before slicing them.

To make sure the flavors meld well, put some more of the Nicoise mixture on top.

Add the top and you’re done!

Well, actually the folks at America’s test kitchen recommend wrapping it with Saran wrap and compressing it with something heavy (a dutch oven, in their case) for am hour.

I didn’t do that, but I did slice it to expose the inside view.

This tuna sandwich was without a doubt the most delicious one I’ve ever had!

Acquacotta


This wonderful soup from Tuscany caught my attention when I was watching a video on youtube by the very competent folks from America’s Test Kitchen. These people know what they are doing! Here is the link if you want to avoid my droning 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPMxxuzJJNw&t=3s

The soup, which is vegetarian and could probably be vegan, is a great example of Italian or Tuscan ingenuity when using products available to the citizens there.

First, one needs to make a sofrito: In my case (and I halved the recipe on America’s Test Kitchen) I used three short stalks about 4 inches long of celery, 1 medium onion and 2 cloves of garlic. I pulsed these vegetables in a food processor until they were very small and slowly fried them and 1/2 tsp chili flakes in some olive oil until they produced an aromatic fond on the bottom of the pot, about 10 minutes. I pulsed a can of tomatoes without their skins until they were also very small, but not smooth. This tomato puree was added to the pot next and stirred from time to time until reduced enough to show a line when going through the pot with a wooden spoon.

Next, I added a jar (450 ml) of chicken broth and some rind from a piece of Pecorino Romano. I understand the original recipe used water, and I’m sure it would also work 🙂 Right after the chicken broth was added, I cut fennel fronds from a bulb and set them aside. Then I diced the bulb in 1/2 inch pieces and added that to the pot for 10 minutes.

After that, I chopped parsley to make a quarter cup and added it to the fennel fronds. The last herb to be added was oregano. The video recommends fresh oregano, but I came up empty today and used some Mexican oregano I recently purchased. It worked very well.

After that, I added half a head of escarole (Endiviensalat in German). It is slightly bitter and is usually served as a salad in Germany, with a mustard based dressing as a favorite. I chopped this salad into 1 inch squares, washed it well and added it to the pot. Along with the escarole, I added the canellini beans (from a can), reserving the liquid and mixing an egg yolk with it, to thicken the soup later on. After another 10 minutes, the escarole was done and I added the egg mixture, turned off the heat and added the herbs.

To finish the dish, I toasted a piece of rye bread and placed it at the bottom of the soup plate. The original recipe uses stale bread and olive oil, but this was the best I could do.

Then, I ladled some soup over the bread and topped it with some grated Pecorino. Wow!

This soup was one of the best soups I have ever eaten, I couldn’t stop at one and ate another plate right after the first one. With the second plate, I remembered the video recommended some lemon juice and I added some. It made the dish even better.

This soup is easy to make, inexpensive and quick (40 minutes).

You will need:

  • 1 stalk of celery, in half inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 garlic
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • some fennel fronds
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 can of tomatoes
  • 1 can of chicken broth
  • 1 escarole
  • 1 can of canellini beans
  • egg yolk/bean fluid
  • 1 rind of Pecorino
  • some grated Pecorino
  • stale bread/olive oil

Linguini Meatballs


I’ve only cooked spaghetti/linguini with meatballs two or three times in the last 10 years. The dish doesn’t exist in Italian restaurants in Germany and I would be hard pressed to think of a can or jar of marinara sauce with meatballs you could buy here.

Instead, the poison of choice should you be camping and all you have is a can opener and a lighter would be ravioli in marinara sauce. The camping crowd loves it, as do students, little kids and other strange people 🙂

The ravioli are so soft you could use them as brains on Halloween and the mouthfeel is something to get used to. But I digress.

But, every once in a while I get a hankering for good old American meatballs with pasta. Tonight was such a night.

  • 1 pound of ground beef/ground pork half and half
  • 1 can of very good Italian tomato puree (like sauce, but without herbs)
  • 2 Tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 glass of red wine
  • Salt, pepper
  • 2 Thai chilis, ground in a mortar and pestle
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • dried rosemary, thyme and oregano, about 1 heaping tsp everything counted
  • 1/2 cup of panko crumbs
  • 1 large egg

Combine the ground meat with all ingredients except the tomato sauce, the tomato paste and the wine. Use your hands to combine everything, but don’t overdo, otherwise the meatballs will become rubbery.

Slowly saute the meatballs in a saucepan until they have browned and are half done. Take them out and park them while you add the tomato paste to the hot pan and let it start to color. Add the wine and stir to get all the bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato puree and a pinch of oregano, salt and pepper. If you want, add 2 tbsp of good olive oil. Put the meatballs back in the sauce, put a lid on the saucepan and reduce the heat to barely simmering.

Start the water for the pasta, adding 16 grams of salt (1/2 oz.), wait for it to boil and add the pasta. Cook until they are al dente, take out and put in a soup bowl immediately and follow it by adding meatballs and sauce. Top with parmesan cheese (the real stuff, not the grated stuff that smells like baby puke).

Enjoy. I did 🙂

Seabream/Dorade


All these years I didn’t know my favorite mediterranean fish (albeit full of fishbones) is called seabream in English.

In German it is Dorade, Goldbrasse or Meerbrasse. I suppose the Brasse and the bream have some etymological connection, as close as the two languages are.

This is not a language site, however, so on to the business at hand.

Its Friday, we’re in a predominately catholic area (just barely), so fish is the food of choice on a Friday. All of this is really maxnix to me, I eat fish because I love fish, and especially this seabream.

The method of preparation is very simple.

The fish I gutted (the fishmonger neglected to offer this service and I didn’t notice, it was my first time in a fish shop across the street) and washed under clear water. The cavity was stuffed with fresh basil, the skin I serrated with 4 cuts on each side, rubbing the cuts with salt, thyme, rosemary and sage. The sage was fresh, the thyme not, I’m afraid.

I pre-cooked the potatoes until they were just done and set them aside.

The tomatoes were fresh and cut into quarters. They joined sautéed onion and garlic along with (canned) artichoke hearts- you never would have been able to tell. This mixture got liberal quantities of olive oil, parsley and basil.

All this was sautéed in a pan on the stove with a good measure of olive oilDorade-Tomaten-Artischocken-Kartoffeln-2-(2). The oven was pre-warmed to 180 C. Once the vegetables started to come together, I placed the fish over the veggies and roasted everything for 25 minutes.

That bream was bony, but so delicious! The vegetables were just what I like. Very seaside!

Superlatives aside-people who don’t like to deal with fishbones (and I know a few) should order something else, they’ll never be happy with this selection.

Dorade-Tomaten-Artischocken-Kartoffeln-2-(1)

Artischockensalat


The PX in Paul-Revere-Village in Karlsruhe closed in 1995. After a few years of being closed, there were various attempts to integrate a store in the space. The third try, by my count, resulted in ‚Maxikauf‘, an Edeka spin-off run by a man who owns 2 more stores, another one in Karlsruhe, yet another on the outskirts. The stores have much of the standard Edeka selection, but have one thing in common otherwise.

They cater to a Russian population that lives in Karlsruhe and environs. Ironically, what used to be the American community in Karlsruhe has been densely populated by Russians, many of them of German descent who were welcomed back under Helmut Kohl.

I like going to this store from time to time. It has the largest smoked fish selection in Karlsruhe as well as about 20 fixture feet of vodka. In the summer they have the largest and least expensive watermelons, tomatoes and dill. Not to forget cucumbers, salt pickles and other Russian favorites. In the wintertime cabbage is king.

But today I went there thinking I would buy some fresh mushrooms to make a creamy Knödel with creamed mushrooms for Ms. B, when I got side-tracked by a wonderful deal: They had young artichokes for 49 cents a piece, a price unheard of in these parts, even at the market.

Having said before that artichokes must be my favorite vegetable food bar none, I scarfed up five of ‚em for a salad.

Artischockensalat2

To make the salad I prepared some artchokes by cutting off the top two thirds of the leaves, taking off everything leafy at the bottom and using a hollowing device to scoop out the hay. After this I dropped them in lemony water.

Then I pared down the stalk to about an inch and peeled it. In the end I quartered the pared artichokes and put them in salted lemon water.

I cooked them for 20 minutes and threw them into cold water to stop them from cooking (and discoloring).

There were a few vine tomatoes from foreign lands I chopped and added to the salad bowl. A pinch of salt and pepper, juice from half a lemon along with a tablespoon of vinegar and three tablespoons of olive oil.

The artichokes were fried in olive oil, a finely chopped shallot and a clove of garlic, also finely chopped.

Then I added them to the tomatoes. Parsley is a must in my book for a salad like this, and the unchopped leaves look particularly good, I think.

Artischockensalat--(3)

The store had some pretty incredible deals on  semi-processed seafood, and so I walked out with a good pound of breaded

octopus rings. The instructions said to deep-fry them, I baked them for 25 minutes instead.

Together, this was a welcome breather from the winter fare that gives me the food blues sometimes.

Rote Bete Karotte


Wir essen rote Bete sehr gerne. Bisher hab ich sie immer gekocht, aber letztens hab ich eine rohe Scheibe probiert und festgestellt, daß sie mir roh besser, weil knackiger schmeckt.

Ich hatte Lust, einen Rohkostsalat mit roter Bete zu machen, der das typisch erdige einerseits und eine frische Zitrusnote andererseits hatte. Dazu kamen Walnüsse, die ich in karamelisiertem Zucker geschwenkt habe. Danach hab ich sie mit Fleur de Sel besprenkelt.

Für den Salat hab ich zwei Beten geschält und geraspelt. Dazu hab ich eine geschälte Möhre geraspelt.

Als Dressing

Saft einer halben Orange

Ein paar Spritzer Zitrone

1 Tl Honig

1 El weißer Balsamicoessig

2 El Olivenöl

Salz, Pfeffer

 

Dressing zum Salat geben, ziehen lassen.

Beim Anrichten überschüssiges Dressing abgiessen.

Walnüsse dazugeben.

Hat richtig gut geschmeckt!

Artischockentapenade


While surfing the net I found an american foodblog (http://www.lifesambrosia.com/2010/02/artichoke-tapenade-recipe.html)  that was relatively unusual insofar that the author made everything from scratch, something that I respect and do myself. The author described a version of a tapenade involving artichokes, one of my favorite foods. I was looking for a low calorie appetizer and decided to give this recipe a whirl.

I enjoyed it, but would add anchovies next time, as well as trying it with fresh artchokes rather than the canned artichoke hearts I used, because I don’t much care for the briny taste that overshadowed the tapenade.

Still, Ms.B and I managed to go through more than half of the tapenade just sitting and talking and it was good with the wine we had.

I used her recipe without any changes.

Beim Surfen hab ich einen amerikanischen Foodblog ( http://www.lifesambrosia.com/2010/02/artichoke-tapenade-recipe.html) gefunden, der insofern etwas ungewöhnlich war, daß alles selbstgemacht war, ohne Vorgefertigtes zu benutzen. Das ist mir sehr sympathisch, und so war ich neugierig eines ihrer Rezepte auszuprobieren, bei dem mein Lieblingsgemüse eingesetzt wird, nämlich Artischocken.

Es handelt sich um eine Tapenadenvariation, also eine Gemüsecreme, die üblicherweise mit Oliven, Sardellen, Kapern und Olivenöl gemacht wird. In diesem Fall waren zwar Oliven mit dabei, allerdings in übersichtlicher Menge, dafür kam eine Dose Artischocken dazu.

Das Rezept ist denkbar einfach. Man benutzt eine Mixmaschine und gibt die einzelnen Zutaten hinein und püriert sie so, daß es noch einzelne Stückchen gibt.

Ich fand den Aufstrich lecker, würde es allerdings gerne mal mit frischen Artischockenböden ausprobieren, weil der Geschmack der Lake, in dem die Herzen eingelegt waren, auch noch durchkam und nicht so toll ist.  In diesem Rezept sind außerdem keine Sardellen, vielleicht wäre das auch eine gute Beigabe.

1 Dose Artischockenherzen

7 Oliven (ich hatte schwarze ohne Stein)

1 Knoblauchzehe gehackt

1 Eßlöffel Kapern

1 Tl Zitronensaft

1 El Olivenöl