Brats braised Onions Asparagus


I had some brats in the freezer, short german brats with a coarse filling of ground pork with the usual spices and herbs, marjoram, coriander seeds, mace and mustard seeds.
But I also had about a pound of asparagus that needed to be made.
I decided it would be a match and went to work.
First, I peeled the asparagus and placed the stems in a pan with an inch of water and a teaspoon of salt and sugar both. I let it come to a boil and cooked them about ten minutes until I could pierce the stems all the way through without too much resistance. Then I removed them from the water and rested them on the side.

After cleaning the pan, I reused it to slowly braise two onions, one white and one red, both cut in long stripes, in some olive oil. After a while I added the brats and browned them on all sides.
By that time the onions had turned soft and I added a Tbsp of Tomato paste that I mixed under the onion mixture. After it had begun to brown, I deglazed the pan with Port, let it evaporate, and added a glass of red wine. After a few minutes there was a transformation in the onions, they became more saucy and creamy. I added salt, pepper and cayenne and turned off the heat.

Then I turned on my fast oven, put the asparagus in there and warmed it for a few minutes. After taking it back out, I added some butter to the stalks and arranged the onions, brats and asparagus on the plate.
A slightly unusual mix perhaps, but tasty nonetheless.
I don’t know about the growing season in the US, but in Germany the season ends on Johanni, which falls on the 24th of June. So for everyone who hasn’t had their fill of fresh asparagus, white or green, now’s the time to satisfy that urge! 🙂

Flammkuchen elsässisch


Ich bin manchmal etwas begriffstutzig, speziell wenn es um Teig geht. Es ist nicht mein großes Thema, obwohl ich natürlich weiß, daß es die Palette an Speisen stark erweitern kann.

Aber über die Jahre hab ich mir immer wieder einen speziellen Teig vorgenommen und meistens festgestellt, daß es doch nicht so schwer war.

Nachdem vor ein paar Wochen ein „Flammkuchen“ mit Hefeteig sehr pizzamäßig daherkam, wollte ich es zumindest noch einmal versuchen. Auf youtube fand ich einen Beitrag von einem der Köche des „Kochduells“ (lang, lang ist’s her 🙂 ) , Carsten Dohrs. Der hat das richtig gut erklärt. Dazu kam, daß seine Mengenangaben mit denen zweier anderer Rezepte übereinstimmte. Immer ein gutes Zeichen.

Lange Rede, kurzer Sinn: Der Teig kam sehr schnell zusammen, die Kniffe von Herrn Dohrs halfen, und in 20 Minuten (ohne Ruhezeit) konnte ich den Teig belegen.

Der Flammkuchen schmeckte, wie ich ihn aus dem Elsaß kenne. Ich bin sehr zufrieden!

Der Teig:

250g Mehl

125 g Wasser

2-3 El Öl

1 Tl Salz

In einer Küchenmaschine kneten, bis der Teig eine Kugel bildet. In Folie einschlagen, eine halbe Stunde im Kühlschrank ruhen lassen. Mit etwas Mehl verkneten und mit dem Handballen durchwalken. Man merkt, wenn der Teig sich anfängt zu entspannen. Dann ausrollen und belegen.

Der Teig reicht für zwei normalgroße Pizzableche.

Für den Belag nahm ich 4 kleinere rote Zwiebel, 60 g Speckstreifen und 100 g Creme Fraiche.

 

Sometimes I’m a little slow when it comes to dough. Its not my favourite subject, even though I realize it could expand my palette of foods. But, I’ve experimented with different doughs through the years to find out they weren’t that hard to make after all.

After having attempted to make a „Flammkuchen“, an Alsatian specialty using a yeasty pizza-dough, which was less than satisfying, I at least wanted to give it another try. This time I googled a few recipes without yeast, found a few I trusted, and watched a youtube video featuring a cook I remember from a German cooking show from ages ago. But the video was great!

The dough consisted of:

250g flour

125 g water

2-3 Tbs oil

1 Tsp salt

Use a mixer with a kneading hook and knead until the dough forms a ball. Wrap in foil and let rest in the fridge for half an hour. Before you roll the dough, knead it with the back of your hand, using a little bit of flour to adjust the moisture. You will feel the dough relaxing after a few minutes and can start rolling it. The traditional shape is a longish rectangle, but I had nothing to bake it in, so I used my pizza pan.

The classic „Flammkuchen“ (which means flame-cake in German) uses Creme fraiche or heavy sour cream as the topping, spread generously, followed by onion rings or red onion rings and finished with  fatter bacon bits. These are not the skinny kind and you might have to find a larger piece to cut them from. They are still juicy when you bite into them with just a little bit of crispness. In earlier times, „Flammkuchen“ was used as a means to test a baker’s oven to see if the temperature was right for baking bread. The crust of the flammkuchen was so thin you could see within 3-4 minutes how hot the oven was. Hence the name.

It is a rich affair, but very delicious! Variations include a fig slice, goat cheese and rocket concoction that is good (add the rocket after it comes out of the oven and watch it wilt), as well as a dessert variant with cinnamon sugar, but most afficionados would warn not to overload it with too many ingredients. In this case, less is more 🙂

 

Flammkuchen echt 1

 

Flammkuchen echt 3

 

Flammkuchen echt 4

Black bean soup


Ich hab ein wenig recherchiert und stiess auf eine Schwarze Bohnen Suppe ‚Havana style‘, von der im Vorwort berichtet wurde, der Verfasser, ein Kubaner in Amerika, mußte die schmerzliche Erfahrung machen, für seine Landsleute, ebenfalls Expatriaten, eine Suppe gemacht zu haben, die sehr unschön als ‚Red Kidney Bean Soup‘ abgekanzelt wurde, weil er Tomaten in seine Black Bean Soup getan hatte. Sie erklärten ihm, daß man das in Havana NIE macht 🙂 und erklärten, wie frugal (lies:ärmlich oder minimalistisch) diese Suppe im Original eigentlich ist.

Es kommen eigentlich nur die Bohnen, eine Zwiebel, Knoblauch, Olivenöl eine grüne Paprika und rote süsse Paprika hinein, dazu ein Tl Kreuzkümmel (Cumin) und 1 Tl Oregano, Salz, Pfeffer und noch eine Chili.

Die Bohnen, bei mir 250 g, wurden mit einem Schnellkochtopf 45 Minuten vorgekocht, dann abgeschüttet.

Dann kommen die Bohnen in einen neuen Topf mit der dreifachen Menge Wasser, einer Zwiebel, geschält, aber ganz, einem Lorbeerblatt und einer stückig geschnittenen Paprika. Ich hatte keine grünen und hab stattdessen eine rote Spitzpaprika verwendet. Das ließ ich wieder fast eine dreiviertel Stunde köcheln, bis die Flüssigkeit deutlich verringert war.

Im Originalrezept wurde ein ‚Sofrito‘ angesetzt, bei mir auch: 1 mittlere Zwiebel, in kleinen Stücken, 2 große Knoblauchzehen, auch zerkleinert, 3 Paprikaschoten in Streifen, 1/8 l Olivenöl.

Das wird bei mittlerer Hitze weich gegart. In der Zwischenzeit wird eine Kelle der Bohnen aus dem Suppentopf entfernt und in einer Schüssel mit dem Kellenrücken zermanscht.  Wenn das Sofrito soweit weich ist, die Löffel Kreukümmel und Oregano dazugeben und in die Bohnenpaste geben und mischen. Diese Mischung wiederum in die Bohnensuppe geben. Jetzt abschmecken. Zuerst 2 El Zucker, flach und 2 El Rotweinessig oder ähnliches (ich hatte Sherryessig) dazugeben, rühren, salzen, pfeffern, warten. Bei Bohnen muß man sich ein bißchen gedulden, weil sie Geschmack ‚fressen‘, soll heissen, was 5 Minuten vorher zu salzig war, braucht noch etwas davon usw. Also ruhig 10 Minuten stehen lassen und nochmal abschmecken, es lohnt sich.

Fazit: Wer meinen Blog liest, weiß, daß ich Fleisch gerne und wahrscheinlich zu oft esse. Umsomehr war ich interessiert an dieser Suppe, von der der Rezeptgeber behauptete, daß sie in Havana bevorzugt vegetarisch gekocht wird. Nachdem ich sie wie beschrieben zubereitet hatte, war ich begeistert vom Geschmack. Ich muß allerdings vorausschicken, daß ich, wie fast alle Amerikaner dieses Bohnen-Gen habe 🙂 (Ich liebe Bohnen!). Nichtdestotrotz bekommt diese Suppe von mir 5 von 5 Punkten! Selten so gut Bohnensuppe gegessen.

Diese Suppe ist ihrer Ausrichtung sogar vegan! Allerdings muß ich gestehen, daß ich für das zweite Schüsselchen etwas Parmesan drübergehobelt habe…Un(f……)übertrefflich!

Übrigens, die relativ scharfe Chili, die ich anfangs dazuschmuggelte in im weiteren Verlauf auf drei Chilis mit Haut und Kernen aufstockte, wurde komplett von den Bohnen neutralisiert. Ich hab dann trotzig einige Tropfen Habanero-Sauce von Heinz dazugegeben, um wenigstens die Illusion eines Kicks zu haben.

 

Black Bean Soup 1

 

Black Bean Soup 2

Tacos Pulled Chicken Refried Beans Cilantro Avocado Adobo Sauce Cheddar Jalapeños


I had tried homemade tortillas a couple of weeks ago, just to find out that online-recipes are to be used at one’s own peril. There are thousands of recipes for the same type of thing, most of which just won’t work.

I don’t know why, but I assume it is the mindless copying of other recipes without testing or even considering the plausibility of a recipe. Accordingly, the tortillas were like thin omelets and nothing in which to wrap other things. (Lesson 1: Use your brain!)

So I went to about.com, a site I’ve learned to trust when it comes to food preparation, especially ethnic foods. There I found a recipe that made sense and actually worked. Since I was using today as a dry run for a south-of-the-border evening, I was happy to see the tortillas turning out as I had expected. (Lesson 2: Test it yourself!)

The recipe for flour tortillas:

2 cups flour

1/4 cup lard/shortening/butter

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 cup warm water (up to)

This is the only caveat – I added all the water at once, instead of adding it slowly, as it said in the recipe. The result was I had to add more flour…

Just add the water until the dough feels right, then knead for 5 minutes. Let stand and rise for a few minutes, roll golf ball sized pieces of dough, then use a tortilla press (didn’t work for me), or roll with a rolling pin.

The dough should also spend some time in the fridge to relax (I didn’t do that, which is probably why the dough kept shrinking when I used my press).

 

I used a cast iron pan to bake my tortillas, which worked really well – after cooking them (no oil) I put them on a plate with a dishrag over them in a very slow oven (50 C).

For my adobo (=marinade) I used 6 different chiles, cascabel, serrano, pasilla, ancho, and two whose names I forget. The dried chiles were reconstituted in warm water for about 10 minutes, then puréed with a cup of the water they had steeped in. Finely chopped onion and garlic cloves were slowly sautéed, the chile purée added and a can of tomatoes added as well. The tomatoes I cut into small pieces, then added the 2 chicken breast halves, turning the heat down to the smallest setting and adding the lid. I later set the lid slightly off-center, because it was getting too hot with it fully closed.

I left the chicken in the sauce for about 4 hours, with it bubbling every so often. The sauce was pretty hot, but also very pungent and when I turned off the heat and removed the chicken it was juicy but fell apart on the fork. I used 2 forks and pulled the entire meat apart, then drizzled it with some of the sauce (putting it back in the pot would have made the food too hot) and set it aside.

For the pico de gallo, I chopped 2 tomatoes, a clove of garlic, 2 spring onions, some lemon and some lime juice, and of course cilantro. I could have added heat here as well, but ther would be enough later.

An avocado was sliced and sauced with lime juice to prevent it oxidizing.

For the refried beans, I opened a can of kidney beans, drained them, added a cup of water, 1 tablespoon of oregano, 1 tablespoon of cumin and a teaspoon of salt. brought to a boil, I turned off the heat and used a fork to mash the beans.

The cheddar was grated, and the iceberg lettuce shredded, the cilantro chopped and the jalapeños drained.

The party could begin…

Tacos-Pulled-Chicken-Cilantro-Avocado-Pico-de-Gallo-Refried-Beans-Jalapeños

 

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)