Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls!

Yesterday was Wil's first Berlin art opening at Staatsgalerie.
For this very special occasion and also because I have been promising it to quite a bunch of people i decided to make some cinnamon rolls.
From what I heard people liked them even though they were cold by the time the opening started.
I like this recipe a lot because it is just plain and straight forward without any weird ingredients or extras.

Here is what you need:

For the dough -
20g fresh yeast
1 tsp salt
250 ml warm milk
85g melted butter
125g sugar
2 eggs
500g bread flour (best for yeast!)

For the cinnamon filling - 
125g brown sugar
2½ tbsp cinnamon
85g soft butter

For the icing - 
125g soft butter
375g confectioner's sugar
35g cream cheese
½tsp vanilla extract
a dash of salt

First in a big bowl mix yeast with warm milk, sugar, melted butter and salt until smooth.

Add the eggs then the flour and knead the dough on lowest speed for at least 3 minutes.
Increase the speed and knead for another 5 minutes.
Cover the bowl with a damp towel and placed at a warm spot let the dough rise for approx. an hour.
Don't worry if it takes longer. It will rise eventually...

In the meantime you can prepare the cinnamon-sugar mix for the filling such as the icing.
For the filling mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. 
Set aside.

For the icing whisk soft butter and cream cheese with confectioner's sugar, vanilla extract and a dash of salt until everything is thick and creamy. I honestly find 35g of cream cheese is not enough. You can add more of that and less sugar if you like. You can be quite flexible with the icing...

Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Place the dough on a floured worktop and knead it with your hands.
Roll it out on the floured worktop to a size of approx. 50-55cm length, 40cm wide and 0.5cm thick.
Equally first spread the 85g of soft butter then sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mix over it.

Start at the longer end (55cm) and roll dough up.
Cut the roll into equally-sized 4.5cm wide pieces. 
If these seem too big for you, just cut them smaller.
Place the small rolls with the swirls facing the top on a baking paper covered baking sheet or in a greased baking pan.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
They should be soft and chunky.
Therefore better check after ten to make sure they don't turn too dark and crsipy.
While still warm spread the cream cheese icing over the buns so that each is covered with it.

Enjoy best while warm!

These buns are indeed sweet.
Therefore I use less sugar for the yeast dough, about 100g instead of the recommended 125g. 
They are still really, really sweet after that especially because of the icing...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Pelmeni Imbiss at Ostbahnhof

Every Sunday there is this huge antique market at Berlin Ostbahnhof
From furniture, books, jewellery, pottery, records, 
you can find anything there even second world war nazi stuff 
(the swastikas get covered up with stickers). 

Aside from the market there is this weird Russian Imbiss stand that sells all kinds of Russian food: 
Pelmenis, Blini, Borschtsch, Soljanka, Pirogies, Russian beer and liquor etc. 
Vladimir Egozov, the owner, is a Russian original, who, with a significant Russian accent, 
gives you advices and recommendations on food and pieces of wisdom. 
You won't always get what you ordered, Bortsch seems to be out every time we go there, 
and even if you end up not liking the food 
(some dishes can be quite greasy):
it's quite inexpensive and definitely worth the experience!

I highly recommend the Pelmeni and Soljanka.
You can't go wrong with that!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Asparagus with easy-peasy sauce hollandaise

I'm obsessed with asparagus!
No matter if green or white asparagus, I'm the happiest person when asparagus season finally arrives.
The most popular way of eating asparagus in Germany is probably with a good hollandaise sauce.
But making hollandaise at home can be quite tricky.
You have to whisk the whole time in order to prevent the eggs from clotting.
The first time I tried to make sauce hollandaise it was a total disaster.
Yesterday however I had to try it again and this time it worked pretty well.
I also found a real easy and foolproof recipe.
Only downside was that the sauce was not very hot.
But after my first hollandaise attempt where within literally a second, the whole thing irretrievably fell apart because of getting too hot I decided to stay on the safe side.
It worked perfectly!
The sauce was perfectly thick and creamy and I was pretty proud and happy...
I served the hollandaise with green and white asparagus, rosemary ham and a bottle of Schmittges dry Riesling.

For the hollandaise
you need:

200g butter
2 eggyolks
2Tbsp of white wine

fresh lemon juice

Melt the butter over low heat and set aside to cool down a bit.
Whisk the eggyolks and white wine over a bowl of hot water (double-boiler method/ bain marie) until thick and fluffy.
Remove from heat. Slowly whisk in the melted butter.
Season with lemon juice, pepper, salt and sugar.
If the sauce is not hot enough you can try to carefully heat it up over the hot water bowl.
But be careful!
If you stop whisking and the sauce got too hot already (over 60 degrees) the egg yolks will start clotting!

Oh, and here is how to prepare white asparagus:

Whereas green asparagus does not need to get peeled, white asparagus has a tough and bitter peel that has to get removed unless you don't want to chew on hard and bitter tasting asparagus pieces.
The easiest way to peel the spears is to use a special asparagus peeler (a potato peeler will do as well, though). Cut off the dried out and harder ends of each spear.
Boil water in a saucepan adding a tsp of sugar and a tsp of salt.
Put the asparagus into the boiling water and let it boil for about 8-10 minutes.

Serve with hollandaise or fried butter-breadcrumbs.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Let me introduce you to Joachim Rong...

One thing I love about Berlin is that there are so many little wine stores.
You can find one on almost every second street in Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte.
I love wine but I rarely have a clue what wine to drink with what kind of food.
Therefore it's best to just walk into one of those stores and ask the people there.
You tell them what you are planning to cook/eat and how much you are willing  to spend and they'll figure out what wine would be best.

Joachim really likes to drink wine, as well!
One of my favorite wine stores is Joachim Rongs Weingalerie on Gaudystraße 25 in 10437 Berlin (Prenzlauer Berg).
So far every wine he recommended to us was a perfect fit.
Joachim is a super nice guy who not only likes wine but, what's most important, also loves his job.
I remember walking into wine stores before and feeling kind of intimidated because I didn't have a clue and the owners often seemed annoyed. Especially when I told them that I wasn't planning to spend more than 8 or 9 Euros on a bottle.
Joachim is pretty easy and casual about this. Neither does he make a big mystery or science about the different varietals or wine-growing districts, nor will he try to sell you something at any cost or give you the feeling of not being a member of the privileged wine club society.
For him it's more important that the wine tastes good and that he can share his knowledge and new discoveries with you.The prices for a bottle start at around 6 Euros and go up to 60-70 Euros per bottle. He regularly offers wine tastings where he opens a couple of bottles and serves some snacks.
They range between 10 and 20 Euros.
In the back of his store Joachim has a little gallery where he regularly has small exhibitions and shows work of different artists.

My favorite wines at Joachim's 
(so far) are:

Hammel Sauvignon Blanc collage
Lomond Sauvignon Blanc
Barth Kabinett Riesling, dry
Abadal, Crianza Cabernet
Sauvignon-Merlot-Pla de Bages DO
Taurus Tinto Roble Tinto de Toro
Lomond Conebush Syrah

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Barbecue No2! or How to trick myself into liking salad...

After a long and exciting day on Schmachtenhagen's farmers market with our friends Anna and Beau we came home with tons of meat, some sausages, fresh warm sourdough bread, an ice machine that I bought for 10 bucks at the flea market there and a giant headache from all the beer we drank...
Nevertheless our hibachi was already waiting for us.
As soon as we got home we fired the grill and threw on some sausages and sirloins.

In order to have our dinner plates look more colourful and a bit healthier I decided to make a classic salad with lamb's lettuce, tomatos, cheese and avocados.

Ok. I have to admit I'm not a big salad fan. 
But with a few tricks and a bit of extra-pimping I manage to create one that even I don't mind eating.

First of all I caramelize the cherry tomatoes in butter adding a dash of sugar, salt and pepper.
Warm sweet tomatos in a salad taste insanely good!
Then of course adding roasted nuts (pine nuts and almonds preferably). 
You can't go wrong with crunchy roasted nuts! 
I also like adding Hass avocado cubes because of their creamy texture and fresh parmesan to sprinkle over it...
Very important, as well: good olive oil and balsamico vinegar.
Quality just tastes better! 
For example we bought 20 year old balsamico vinegar from our local Italian store.
That really makes a difference!
I can also highly recommend to do an olive oil degustation at some point.
You won't believe how different olive oil can taste!
I really like the greek ones. They taste very grassy and slightly bitter.

There you go! These are my tipps and tricks to make a simple salad more enjoyable.
You can also just add meat to it, though...

We drank a pretty decent French red wine with it: Chateau Capitoul Rocaille Rouge AOC
which contains the varietals syrah, grenache noir and carignan.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


I wanna try these!
Where do I get them?
Aren't they beautiful?

source: http://ex-libertine.tumblr.com/

"these are ‘pineberries’. allegedly they were sourced from an endangered strain in South Africa and have been cultivated for the past seven years, now available for limited commercial purchase in Europe. they have the same genetic makeup as a strawberry, but are white with red seeds and taste like pineapples!",  
(by http://ex-libertine.tumblr.com/)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Hefezopf (braided sweet yeast bun)

Baking with yeast has always been like Russian roulette for me.
Sometimes the dough turned out perfectly soft and fluffy, but more often it was tougher than concrete.

Luckily the April issue of German food magazine Essen&Trinken has a special on how to make the perfect Hefezopf and therefore how to work the evil yeast dough.

The Hefezopf recipe is fantastic.
Besides the ingredients all you need is a stand mixer or a well trained biceps and stamina.


250 ml warm milk
20g fresh yeast
75g sugar
1 large egg
1.5 tsp salt
500g bread flour  (NO all-purpose flour!)
75g soft butter
coarse sugar
flour for the worktop

Crumble the yeast into a bowl and mix with sugar and some of the warm milk until smooth.
Whisk the egg. Put aside 3 Tbsp of the egg-mix and set cool.
Add the rest of the egg and milk such as salt and flour to the yeast,sugar, milk-mix and knead it with the dough hooks attached to the stand mixer (hopefully) on lowest speed for approx. 3 minutes. 
Increase the speed and knead for another 5 minutes. 
Cube the butter.Thoroughly knead butter cubes into the dough. 
On highest speed knead another 5 minutes.

Cover the bowl with a damp towel and in a warm place let it rise for about an hour.
On a lightly floured worktop knead the dough with your hands and divide it into 3 equally sized pieces.
Cover them up and let them sit for 10 minutes. 
Roll them out into three strings of approx. 40cm of length, very loosely braid them and put the now "Hefezopf" on a baking paper covered baking sheet. 
Again cover the whole thing and let it sit and raise for another 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (Gas 3).
With a brush apply the remaining egg-mix on the Zopf, sprinkle it with the coarse sugar and bake it for 25 minutes. Check after 15minutes. You might want to cover the Zopf with tinfoil to prevent it from getting too dark.  

Best when served warm on a sunny afternoon!

PS: Here are a few tips and tricks on how your yeast dough turns out perfectly (also found in Essen&Trinken magazine).

1. Only use warm milk. Hot milk kills the yeast bacteria. Using cold milk will only extend the time for the dough to rise.
2. You have to be patient. If the dough hasn't doubled its size after one hour, let it sit a bit longer  (I waited for two hours) 
3. Use bread flour. It contains more gluten than all-purpose flour and by retaining gas it helps the dough to rise.
4. Use fresh yeast.
5. Knead excessively and passionate!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Pork ribs and the very best barbecue sauce of the universe!

Today was the first real warm day of spring in Berlin. 
Me and Wil bought plants and seeds and prepared our balcony for spring and summer. 
Tomatos, basil, chive, thyme, radish and even soybeans...we've been busy planting and cannot wait for everything to sprout! Hopefully this year we will be luckier with our ras-, black- and strawberries as well.

Anyway, first warm day also means 
Therefore we cleaned our hibachi, got the coal ready, bought 2 kilos of pork ribs and I dug out my:
(not existing) recipe for 
which is simply made by mixing ketchup, worcester sauce, maple syrup, orange juice, soy sauce, vinegar, beer, hot sauce, smoked and fried bacon bits, chopped onion, salt and pepper, and some brown sugar.

Just start with the ketchup and slowly add all the other ingredients until the taste makes sense and it's not too sour, not too salty and not too sweet, but still thick enough to stick on the meat.
You can add some starch dissolved in water to the boiling barbecue sauce to thicken it.
No, you don't necessarily have to boil it. I just did it in order to reduce and thicken the sauce...

I marinated the meat in the barbecue sauce for at least 1 hour (4 hours are better, overnight is perfect) then cooked it in our gas oven at its lowest (150 degrees celsius) for about 90 minutes  or until the meat almost comes off the bones.
In between I drizzled some of the barbecue sauce over the meat.
After that we threw it on the barbecue.

Don't panic if the meat turns black. 
That's just the burning sugar in the sauce.
It's definitely not healthy but it tastes sooo incredibly good!
Me and my partner Wil  both came to the conclusion that burned barbecue sauce is one of the best tasting things in the world.

We served the ribs with more  (reduced) barbecue sauce, drank cold beer and ate until we felt slightly nauseous.

Guess that's the price you
have to pay for good hearty food...