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

Espada Sauce Grenoble Tripoline Tomaten-Orangensugo


Bei meinem Fischhändler gab es heute wieder einen Thunfisch in Sushi-Qualität, der zum Niederknien war. Aber ich hab vorher mein Register durchgeschaut und dachte dabei, daß es schön wäre mal etwas Anderes zu servieren. Neben dem perfekten Thun lag ein Schwertfisch in derselben Qualität. Nach kurzer Diskussion mit dem Papa, bei der er mir versicherte, daß eine rötliche Verfärbung kein Qualitätsmangel ist, sondern an der Lage der Blutadern und Venen im Fisch liegt.

Ich nahm ein Steak mit, das wieder kleiner im Laden aussah, aber stattliche 280 g auf die Waage brachte.

Ich hatte beim teuren Russen einige Gemüsespezialitäten gekauft, aber irgendwie wollte es nicht richtig in meinem Kopf zusammenkommen. Da es eine anstrengende Woche gewesen war, und ich etwas früher nach Hause gekommen war, beschloss ich, ein kleines Nickerchen zu halten. Und wie so oft, wenn ich abschalte, kommen mir Bilder von Speisen und Zutaten in den Kopf, an die ich vorher nicht dachte. Nach einer 3/4 Stunde stand ich auf und wußte was ich machen wollte:

Den Espada, gebraten, mit einer Sauce Grenoble Variante. Die Sauce Grenoble ist eine, die ich durch Wolfram Siebeck, den kürzlich verstorbenen Großkritiker des Feinschmeckers und des Zeitmagazins kennengelernt habe, und zwar in einem Kochbuch voller Festmenüs in einem Buch von 1993. Eigentlich besteht sie hauptsächlich aus Zitronenstückchen und Kapern, die zu einem Fisch serviert werden, der in Butter (Beurre noisette=Nussbutter) gebraten wurde. Damit konnte ich nicht dienen, weil ich meine, daß Olivenöl besser zu Schwertfisch passt, aber das war eine lässliche Sünde…

Die andere Sauce war die für die Pasta, die Tripoline, eine Art Tagliatelle mit gewelltem Rand.

Diese Sauce hab ich in ihrer Grundlage hier schon oft beschrieben, aber auch hier gibt es eine Besonderheit:

5 Kirschtomaten frisch, geviertelt1

Knoblauchzehe kleingehackt

1 Sardelle

15 Salzkapern, gewässert (eingelegte Kapern oder Kapernäpfel gehen auch)

Zutaten in Olivenöl angehen lassen, mit

Saft einer halben Orange

100 ml Weisswein

2 El Weissweinessig

Salz (Vorsicht! Salzkapern haben Salz)

ablöschen und einkochen.

Den Essig gab ich dazu, weil die Orange das Tomatenmus zu süß gemacht hatte, und es eine Säure brauchte.

Danach war die Sauce aber sehr gut.

 

Ich schwenkte die Tripoline in einem Teil der Sauce und gab oben kleine Zitronen- und Kapernstückchen auf den Schwertfisch,

ich bettete ihn aber auf den Rest der Tomaten-Orangensauce, was eine gute Entscheidung war.

Die Pasta war auch ohne Parmesan toll, der Fisch sowieso. Ein Wort zum Garpunkt – ich hatte ihn wie meinen vorletzten Thun angebraten, also mit einer Kruste von 2 mm und einer Mitte, die warm aber roh war. Zum Reinlegen!

 

espada-sauce-grenoble-tripoline-tomaten-orangensugo-1

 

espada-sauce-grenoble-tripoline-tomaten-orangensugo-2

 

espada-sauce-grenoble-tripoline-tomaten-orangensugo-3

 

espada-sauce-grenoble-tripoline-tomaten-orangensugo-4

Pork Cutlet Autumn Cornucopia


Diese langen Fahrten im Stau sind nichts für mich – ich fange an, mich wegzuzoomen und bin dann in einem Universum aus Zutaten, Speisen und Sachen, die ich schon Zuhause liegen habe.

So auch heute – 90 Minuten statt der 45 üblichen, und daheim angekommen, fiel mir ein, daß ein Paket auf mich wartet, aber mein Pedelec in Reparatur ist. Also wieder ins Auto. Die Strecke ist nicht weit, vielleicht 500 m, aber ich bin gar nicht gut zu Fuß. Jedenfalls hab ich das Paket in Empfang genommen, nicht ohne daß die Postbeamtin meinen US Pass (nachdem sie gefragt hatte) ausgiebig unter die Lupe nahm und ihn als wunderschön tituliert hatte 🙂 (Sachen gibt’s!).

Danach ging ich noch kurz in den Laden und holte mir ein Schweinekotelett und einen Rotkohl.

Meine Idee war zuerst, eine Art kalten mexikanischen Rohkostsalat zu machen. Dann war ich in der Käseabteilung und für diese Idee gab es keinen Käse, aber dafür Feta. Und schliesslich fiel mir ein, daß es daheim auch noch Mais gibt, der auch gut wäre.

Die Zutaten der großen Unentschlossenheit (Autumn Cornucopia/herbstliches Füllhorn)

Rotkraut, fein geschnitten

Selleriestange in feinen Scheiben

Gurke in kleinen Würfeln

Kirschtomaten in Scheiben

Röllchen von 2 kleinen Frühlingszwiebeln

gelbe Bete in Essig mit Kurkuma (mein Paket :-))))

Feta

Mais in der Pfanne geröstet, vom Kolben geschnitten

höllisch scharfe Peperoni

 

Zum Kraut gab ich eine Prise Salz und Zucker und knetete es ein paar Minuten, um es weicher zu machen. Die Sauce für’s Kraut bestand aus Limettensaft, Salz, etwas Zucker und Olivenöl.

Danach schnitt ich alle anderen Zutaten klein und mischte für sie aus dem Rest Limettensaft auch noch ein bißchen Sauce. Das ließ ich ein paar Minuten einwirken.

Jetzt kam das mit Salz und Pfeffer gewürzte Kotelett in die Pfanne, um bei mittlerer Hitze nicht zu schnell gar zu werden.

Danach, beim Anrichten kam ich auf diese geschwungene Form, die mich an ein Füllhorn erinnert. Das würde vielleicht besser zu Erntedank oder Thanksgiving passen, aber an dem Tag sind die Teller so voll, daß an eine solche Choreographie auf dem Teller nicht zu denken ist 🙂

Außerdem ist mein Hirn ein Sieb und ich hätte die Idee bis dorthin vergessen…

Fazit: Die Gemüsemischung ist einigermassen wild, hat aber trotzdem gut zusammen geschmeckt. Das Kraut und die gelbe Bete hat sehr gut harmoniert, zumal ich auch etwas des Betesuds zur Krautsauce gegeben habe. Hier wieder der Hinweis – alles war frisch zubereitet, der Mais noch warm und schön natursüß, dann schmeckt alles zusammen sehr gut. Dosenware würde ich hier nicht empfehlen, außer man möchte Kantinenfeeling nachbauen (Nix gegen Kantinen, auch die muss es geben!).

Das Beste ist, es gab ein zweites Kotelett und noch viel Gemüse, alles für Morgen im Geschäft 🙂

 

schweinekotelett-herbst-fuellhorn1

 

schweinekotelett-herbst-fuellhorn2

 

schweinekotelett-herbst-fuellhorn3

 

schweinekotelett-herbst-fuellhorn4

 

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)

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.

Fried green tomatoes


When I was a teenager, one of the defining books in the kitchen was ‚The Joy of Cooking‘ by Irma Rombauer.

It proved to be a treasure trove of dependable recipes covering just about anything in the kitchen.

I baked more in those days, but skimming through the book I would sometimes be intrigued with recipes I stumbled over.

One such recipe was one for fried green tomatoes, a southern recipe, as I learned from the book.

I thought it was a clever way to use a vegetable that wasn’t going to ripen to its red state anymore and having some at the time, I tried it. Turns out the cooking process softens the tomato, making it palatable, while the tang of the tomato combined with the crunch of the breading makes a very delectable dish.

I only tried it once and was reminded of it when I saw some green tomatoes on the market the other day.

These days its quicker to google things, so I looked up a dozen or so recipes before making them like this.

All the recipes were similar, so take your pick of any you can find out there.

A few green tomatoes, sliced 3/4″ thick

flour

corn meal

1 egg

salt, pepper

chili powder

combine flour and corn meal, about 1:1

dredge both sides in flour

beat egg

coat tomatoes with egg

dredge through flour/meal mix

coat with egg/dredge through flour again

fry over low heat prick for softness

I decided on a little homemade mayonnaise/aioli to accompany the tomatoes.

For this I slowly  added oil to an egg yolk I was beating until it emulsified.

My mayo had a few drops of lemon juice, a pinch of cayenne, garlic and some parsley in it.

Ms. B really liked the tomatoes and had the leftovers the next day.

Pulled Pork


I have a friend at work who I like to cook for because he’s easy. He likes it all. I particularly like to make those things that are borderline fast food, but made properly, without shortcuts (like BBQ sauce- not out of a bottle, but homemade).

Recently I discovered an interesting American/Puerto Rican food blog called „The Noshery“ that had a twist on a favorite comfort food of mine, namely pulled pork.

Living in Germany you don’t find pulled pork very often, even working around other Americans. But we had a food concession at my job whose specialty was smoked foods, among those pulled pork with homemade Habanero sauce.

I was hooked. I tried out different things a couple of times, but the recipe I found at the Noshery intrigued me because of an ingredient listed that exists here in Germany as well. I don’t know whether the product is similar, but to use it made sense. I am talking about Malzbier or malted beer (not really beer, because it contains no alcohol), but rather a malty drink with some sweetness and some beery elements (like Guiness).

The other intriguing element was bitter orange concentrate, another product unavailable over here. Instead, I used a bottle of Crodino, an Italian non-alcoholic orange-like bitter used to flavor winey summer drinks.

4 lb pork shoulder

5 cloves of garlic, pressed

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp Mexican oregano

1 1/2 Tbs olive oil

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 can San Marzano tomatoes

3 oz pickled jalapeño peppers

1 12 oz bottle Malzbier (malted drink)

4 oz Crodino

1 2 oz can tomato paste

I combined the garlic, salt, pepper, oregano and olive oil and cut holes in the meat to  press the mixture into. I didn’t really have time to marinate it, so I put the other ingredients into a high cup and blitzed them, pouring the mix over the pork, adding the cover and baking the concoction at 325° C for 4 hours.

During this time almost all the fluid evaporated. I reconstituted the sauce with about a cup of water/wine and pulled the pork.

The following picture is a before shot. I haven’t served it yet, but I did try it- It’s different and good. Definitely citrus-y

with a dark side (the malt, no doubt)

Hopefully when I warm it up tomorrow I will be able to get some sauce out of the meat.