Friday, May 27, 2011

Tapas with olives, goat cheese, white mushrooms and roasted almonds

 For the night at our friend's house I also made some tapas.
Unfortunately I couldn't bring most of them with me
since the ones that get marinated have to steep for several hours or days
to unfold their full flavour.

Making tapas is a lot of fun. 
Not only do they taste good and round up a nice summer meal.
The ingredients for tapas are cheap, the food is easy to prepare, looks pretty good and,
when marinated and filled in glasses, makes nice presents for your family and friends.
People are usually pretty impressed by it and homemade tapas taste so much better
then the ones you buy in grocery stores.

Just make sure to get some (small) preserving jars 
for marinating your tapas  in for a few days.

 You will see the preparations are really simple and go quickly.
All you need is the right ingredients and some patience...

Marinated olives

½ tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp fennel seeds
1tsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed or finely chopped
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
230g olives (you can mix black and green olives together)
2 tbsp olive oil 

In a mortar grind up the coriander and fennel seeds.
Mix in the chopped rosemary leaves and parsley, garlic, vinegar and olive oil and mix well.
Pour the mixture over the olives and let it marinate for up to one week.
You might need more oil to cover the olives in the jar.

Marinated goat cheese

150g soft goat cheese (like brie)
6 tbsp olive oil 
1 tbsp whit wine vinegar
1 tsp black pepper corns
1 garlic clove, cut in slices
3 tarragon or thyme twigs (or both...)

Cut the cheese into bite-sized pieces/cubes.
Mix olive oil, vinegar, pepper corns, garlic and herbs together 
and pour the mixture over the cheese.
Let the cheese marinate up to 3 days.
Again you might need more olive oil to cover the cheese bits in the jar.

Marinated white mushrooms

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove smashed or finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato purrée
50 ml white wine
2 cloves
1 pinch of saffron stigmas
225g white mushrooms
50 ml water 
black pepper

Heat up the olive oil in a pan. 
Add onion and garlic and on medium heat cook them until soft.
Then add tomato purrée, wine, water, cloves and saffron 
and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil, cover it and let it simmer for 45 minutes.
You might need to add more water in between.
Add the mushrooms to the sauce, cover it up again and let it steep for another 5 minutes.
Have it cool down a bit before letting it cool down completely 
and steep in the refrigerator overnight.
Serve cold.

PS: I added more water to the sauce and ended up having much more sauce than mushrooms. Since the taste of the sauce is pretty strong, especially after adding salt, 
I would recommend to use more mushrooms. 
Rather 300-350g.

Roasted almonds

¼ tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp coarse sea salt / sea salt flakes
2 tbsp butter
4 tbsp olive oil
200g blanched almonds

Mix salt and cayenne pepper in a bowl.
In a pan heat up butter and olive oil.
Add the almonds and slowly let them roast for about 5 minutes or until golden brown.
Pour the almonds into the salt and cayenne mix (in order to avoid pouring all the surplus butter/oil into the salt mix, you might wanna strain them).
Turn almonds in the salt-cayenne mix until they are evenly coated.
Let them cool down.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Grilled eggplant pockets

Last weekend we got invited over to our friends Anna and Beau to meet Beau's lovely parents.
Therefore and also because I went a little "cooking crazy" 
I prepared all kinds of summer food stuff to bring and eat.
I already posted the Gazpacho which was one of the things I made. 
But I also felt like trying out more new things!
I've never ever prepared eggplant myself.
 So I decided to make these little grilled eggplant pockets:

For 8 pockets you'll need:
2 big long eggplants
2 plum tomatos (these are the long ones!) cut into a total of 16 slices
225g / 8 slices mozzarella (preferably buffalo mozzarella!)
16 basil leaves
salt, pepper

1 tbsp tomato purrée
1 tbsp Balsamico vinegar
4 tbsp Olive oil
salt, pepper, sugar or honey

Roasted Pine nuts
roughly chopped basil leaves

To prepare the eggplants first remove the stems, 
then cut each fruit in 8 thin slices (lengthwise!) of approx. 5mm thickness.
The pieces at the edges do not count.
Boil the slices in salted water for a maximum of about 2 minutes 
(they should not be completely cooked yet).
Dry them between sheets of paper towel.
Cut each tomato and the mozzarella in 8 slices.

Now take two eggplant slices and lay them on top of each other in the shape of a cross.
Put a slice of tomato in the middle, season it with salt and pepper and top it off with a basil leaf one slice of mozzarella, again a basil leaf and another slice of tomato seasoned with salt and pepper.
Now flip the ends of the eggplant over the little tomato-basil-mozzarella tower and form a pocket.
It doesn't really matter which eggplant slice you start with.
It just should all stick together and look neat in the end...

Now coat both sides of each pocket with a thin layer of olive oil 
and throw it on the grill of your hibachi! 
Grill for about 5 minutes each side (depends a bit on how hot the hibachi is).
The mozarella should start melting
In case you don't have a hibachi you can also sear them in a pan.
Same thing: 5 minutes each side.

For the vinaigrette mix tomato purrée, balsamico and olive oil and season to taste with salt pepper and a bit of sugar or honey.
Sprinke the vinaigrette and roasted pine nuts such as chopped basil leaves 
over the grilled/seared eggplant pockets.


I also made some tapas. 
More about this in my next post!

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Summer is approaching and it's steadily getting hotter and unfortunately more and more humid here in Berlin.
A good reason to dig out refreshing and light summer recipes.
I started off with Gazpacho a cold spanish tomato based raw vegetable soup.
This sounds awful, I know.
But, let me tell you, it was pretty damn good!
It is really easy to cook, the ingredients are cheap, and it certainly helps to keep or get back into summer shape (I know with most of us, this is, of course, not the case...).

All you need is:

900g tomatos
1 cucumber
2 red or yellow peppers
1 fresh red chilli
2 garlic cloves
175g white bread crumbs
2 tbsp tomato purrée
5 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
a dash cumin
salt and black pepper

Peel the tomatos.
Therefore place them in boiling water first (for about 30 seconds)  and then quench the tomatos in ice cold water.
That way it's easier to remove the tougher skin.
It will come off easily now.
Quarter the tomatos.
Peel and chop the cucumber.
Cut the peppers and the red chilli and remove the seeds.
Press or finely chop the garlic cloves.
Mix all the vegetables together with breadcrumbs, olive oil, white wine vinegar and tomato purrée.
Season to taste with salt, pepper and cumin.
Put half or a third of the mixture into a blender.
Add 150-250ml of water, depending on how juicy the vegetables are.
Blend until smooth.
Do the same with the rest of the vegetable mix.
The Gazpacho should not be too thin but have a rather creamy texture.
Therefore be careful not to add too much water.
You can always add more in the end.
Refrigerate it for a couple of hours.

Best served with ice cubes, croutons, some basil or parsley for decoration and maybe a dash of worcester sauce!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Vive la Provence!

After a couple of days of acclimatization I guess I’m finally ready for Berlin City again.
Well, I have to be anyway...

My trip to Provence was simply wonderful and a total success in terms of food, wine and love.
As I already mentioned in my last post: This region of France is a feast for your senses.
The landscape is beautiful. It smells like flowers, fruits, fresh soil and food everywhere.
It is quiet except for the lovely sound of singing birds and the crickets at night. 
And wine and food are so, so good!
By far the best country to visit in order to indulge your desire for culinary richness.
Depending on where you stay you will find vineyards who offer you wine degustations every few metres. With hundreds, probably thousands of different vineyards it’s impossible to try all wines in the region. You either have a recommendation on where to go or you just go and find out.
We did both and it was a lot of fun.
I will write a separate blog post about the wines we tried later this week...

The other great thing is that there are markets every day.
They either start in the early morning and go until 12am/1pm or at night from 6pm to 8pm.

The best market is definitely the one in Arles.
It is HUGE!
I have never been to such a fantastic market in my life.
The range of fresh products is insane!
So many vegetables and fruits: Giant artichokes, tiny artichokes, zucchinis, fresh garlic, beans, peppers, carrots, potatoes, strawberries, cherries, oranges, olives..., and all were in season. Only some were imported from Spain, which pretty much is right around the corner.

Fresh meat, sausages, bread and pastries, spices, an incredible selection of cow and goat cheese (some looked and tasted really strange, but good!).


 Oh and the fish and sea fruits section... I almost forgot about that!

 The sea is only about an hour away. Therefore everything is 
 absolutely fresh.

I bought Wil some oysters cause I don’t like them, yet. 
But according to my experience in getting used to all kinds of foods, this might change at some point.
They were the biggest and best oysters he ever had in his life and, believe it or not, 
they were only 40 CENTS A PIECE!!!!

Ok, so that was in Arles... 
you can pretty much find all these different products on the other markets as well. But let me tell you: the market in Arles is one of a kind.
We left with heavy bags filled with yumminess.


 What we did pretty much every day was: 
cruising around, stopping here and there for wine degustations or walking over a market, maybe a church, a fort or a flea market in between, paying a visit to the local butcher and cheese store, driving home, eating, drinking, falling asleep.
In one word:

Oh, and on a side note:
Wil proposed to me in a vineyard in Chateau-Neuf du Pape (where else?), and I said yes!
As you can see, Provence treated me very good and I cannot wait to go back!

Friday, May 13, 2011

CHIPPS and Berlin street food

So I'm back from Provence.
One week of in my opinion the best smelling, best looking and best tasting region of the world.
I made tons of photos, bought and ate plenty of food and drank gallons of incredibly good wine.
But more about that later.

First of all I'm very proud to present you the two reviews I wrote for the Berlin special of the urbanite section of SOMA magazine (LA, USA).

I wrote both articles in English which makes me even prouder since English is not my native language.
You probably noticed that already.
I had great help from Wil and Jesi Khadivi who edited my articles.

Here is the first article about street food in Berlin.

And This one is about Berlin's new healthy food
gourmet temple CHIPPS.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Off to Provence...

Tomorrow my boyfriend and I will leave for beautiful Provence.
So, no posts of food for about one week. 
But then...if everything works out right (and it will) there will even be more to post about.
Food, wine, sun and c'est la vie: here we come!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Maifest and Jerk Chicken!

Yesterday was May 1st, day of labour and holiday in Germany.
Especially in the cities Berlin and Hamburg on this day there are a lot of riots between punks and police going on at night. Flying stones, burning cars, fights, teargas...everywhere.
But a couple of years ago some people decided to start a counter movement called "Maifest".
Someone even sold cookie monster muffins there!
Therefore stages are set up in Berlin Kreuzberg, the centre of the riots, where different bands and djs perform and along the streets people sell all kinds of street food and drinks.

From kids, families and Turkish mamas to Chinese, Africans, Mexicans, caipirinha, beer, wine, orange juice, vegan, meat, cake, ayuveda, organic, meatballs can find anyone and anything here!

Everyone is happy and acting peaceful.
No matter if families or mums with prams, punks, ravers, metalheads, hipsters or turkish hiphop and beakdancers.
It's a big celebration, at least as long as the sun isn't setting.

As soon as it gets dark I would highly recommend to leave this place.
The best indication is when the stands start packing up hectically or when the special police squads put on their helmets and start grouping  and running around...
Well in the last case it might already be too late.
You can smell and see the smoke from far away.

However, I mainly come there for the food and the atmosphere.
My favorite stand is the one with the jerk chicken of carribean soul food restaurant Ya-Man.
Each year they sell chicken legs that they smoke in their converted metal drums.

Tonight we will eat the leftovers from yesterdays chicken...
I'm already hungry.