Sunday, December 28, 2008

Organic yeast

I have always thought that all yeast is organic yeast, pure natural product. So when I saw "organic yeast" in the store I was surprised. I checked the web page of the company that produces organic yeast and got more information. I am not a chemist but that stuff in conventional yeast sounds scary.

So one day I picked up the organic yeast and baked one of my favourite yeast-dough cakes, Swedish ring cake. I have made this cake many, many times so I knew that it would be easy to see a difference between organic yeast and conventional yeast, if any, when baking.

And yes there was a small difference. The cake did not rise as much as it does with the conventional yeast and the bubbles made by yeast were bigger, not fine like in conventional yeast. Usually the cake is quite round on the top and cuts can be seen nicely.
I am not sure if it all depends on the yeast or the flour, but in any case the difference was so small that I really can live with it. The cake tasted delicious as always.

I used kamut flour instead of wheat flour in the dough, and muscovado sugar instead of white sugar in the filling.

Ring cake

1 cake, 22 cm
50 gr butter
1 dl milk
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 egg
20 gr fresh yeast
0,5 dl sugar
pinch of salt

50 gr butter
100 gr almond paste
3 tbsp muscovado sugar

egg and sliced almond for decoration

Melt the butter. In another pan heat the milk with cardamom until warm (not hot, yeast doesn't like hot). Pour the milk over the yeast and blend until the yeast is dissolved. Add melted butter, lightly beaten egg, sugar, salt. Add flour and knead until smooth. Let rise until double size, about 1 hour.

Blend the butter with almond paste and sugar. Role out the dough, 40x15 cm, and spread the almond paste filling. Role and form ring. Put in a round baking pan and every centimetre make a cut, 1 cm deep. Arrange the cuts one to the left and one to the right, just a bit. Cover with a tea-towel and let rise 1 hour.

Paint with beaten egg, sprinkle with almond slices and bake in preheated oven, 200 C, for 20 minutes.

Monday, December 08, 2008


Zwiebelkuchen means 'onion cake' in German. It is made of a yeast-dough with onion-sour cream topping.
The topping is seasoned with caraway seeds, which are widely used in this part of Europe. Typical Bavarian food like saurkraut, fresh cabbage salad and farmer's bread are all seasoned with caraway seeds.

4 dl flour
20 gr fresh yeast
1,5 dl milk
75 gr butter
1 egg
1 tsp salt

1 kg onion
4 dl sour cream
2 eggs
3 tbsp flour
100 gr smoked ham (prosciutto)
1,5 tsp salt
1 tsp caraway seeds

Put the flour in a bowl. Warm the milk, take 3 tbsp and dissolve the fresh yeast in it. Melt the butter and add to the rest of the milk, liquid should be warm. Pour milk mixture and yeast in the flour bowl. Beat lightly the egg and add to the bowl, add salt and knead everything until smooth. Let the dough rise 45 minutes.

Slice the onion thinly and cook in some oil until soft, but not brown. I used large pan and it took about 30 minutes on low temperature. In another pan fry the ham until fragrant. In a bowl mix sour cream with eggs, add flour, ham, salt and caraway seeds. Add everything to the warm onion mixture. The topping should be spreadable, not runny.

Role out the dough, 30x30 cm, put on a baking sheet, spread the onion mixture over the dough and bake in preheated oven, 200 C, until golden brown spots on the top, about 30 minutes.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pico de gallo

Pico de gallo is a Mexican salsa eaten with tacos, but to be honest I could eat it all the time.
This salsa convinces me every time that fresh coriander is one of the greatest herbs ever! You just cannot leave the coriander out in this recipe, or in any other Mexican recipe.

Pico de gallo
serves 2
2 tomatoes, without seeds, diced
1 small shallot, diced
1 chili serrano, chopped
juice of 1/2 lime
juice of 1/2 orange
1 tbsp chopped coriander
some oil

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Celeriac and walnut gratin

I found the recipe for celeriac and walnut gratin at BBC Good Food but adapted it a bit as blue cheese is not my favourite (cannot look at the mold and eat it). I also grated the celeriac and loved how it turned out.

Celeriac and walnut gratin

adapted from BBC Good Food
one 900 gr unpeeled celeriac
one 600 gr peeled celeriac
3 dl vegetable stock
150 gr chopped walnuts
6 tsp walnut oil

Coarsely grate the celeriac, put in a baking dish (mine holds 1,3 liters) and pour over the stock. Bake for 45 minutes in preheated oven (180 C). Sprinkle with walnuts and bake until walnuts get a bit of colour, around 15 minutes. Take out of the oven, cut in squares, put on a plate and drizzle some walnut oil over.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Quince and pear strudel

Fall is one of my favourite seasons. And fall in Central Europe is really beautiful, all colours in the nature and mild weather is more than perfect. Then there are all delicious fruits of the fall, cannot be better.

One of my favourite fall fruits is quince. My grandmother used to make quinces in sweet syrup and I love that stuff. Taste is very aromatic and quince turns into a lovely red when cooked. So when I found the recipe for quince and pear strudel I had to make it.

But what I really was curious about was agave syrup that the recipe calls for. I have never used agave syrup before and thought this was a great recipe to try it. Agave syrup is made of agave plant so it belongs to the natural sweeteners, like maple syrup. It is very mild in taste, sweeter than sugar and it is thinner in consistency than honey.

Quinces cooked with agave turned out really great and strudel was excellent! So agave syrup has joined muscovado and whole cane sugar in my baking cupboard.

This time I made strudel with store bought phylo-dough, but next time will definitely be homemade. After all Bavaria is Germany's strudel-region and they definitely know their thing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mexican drinking chocolate

The very first chocolate in the world was not eaten, it was drank. The Mayas ground cacao beans into a paste and mixed it with water, spices and the beverage was thickened with cornflour.

In Mexico even today the tradition of drinking chocolate is bigger than eating chocolate bars. But drinking chocolate it self has changed somewhat since the time of Mayas. These days it is made of ground cacao beans, sugar and cinnamon. The mixture is then made into discs and dried until hard.

The discs are dissolved in milk or water and the froth is made with a molinillo, a traditional Mexican froth maker.

Today chocolate discs are made commercially and the one I like the most is made of organic cacao beans by Wolter. It is not overwhelmingly sweet and when you finish your cup of chocolate all ground cacao beans are waiting for you for the last indulgence.

But in small towns in the areas where cacao beans are grown you can even buy small packages with cacao beans, sugar and cinnamon for mixing as you like and making your own chocolate at home. Yes, nothing can beat that!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Krautfleckerl is an Austrian dish. The ingredients are very simple, but the way you prepare the dish gives it its delicious taste.

The name Krautfleckerl means "Cabbage spots". Spots refer to the egg-made pasta that is traditionally used in this dish. It is shaped in squares so it reminds of spots. I could not find it so I used wide pasta that I cooked and then cut in smaller pieces, spots.

The funny looking cabbage is called Spitzkohl in German. Dictionary says that "pointed cabbage" or "sweetheart cabbage" is its name in English. Other types of white cabbage can be used for this dish as well.


Krautfleckerlserves 2
400 gr cabbage
150 gr pasta
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground caraway
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
some olive oil (butter)

Boil pasta, drain and add some olive oil. Cut cabbage in small squares and dry cook it in a pan until it gets brown around the edges. Or more if you would prefer stronger taste. Cook it without any oil in the pan! Take out the cabbage and set aside.

Put some olive oil in the pan and fry onion until light brown. Add caraway and sugar and as soon the sugar caramelize add vinegar and cabbage. Cook for about 5 minutes, add pasta, season and serve!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Munich Weißwurst

This sausage is so Munich. It was invented in 1857 in the heart of Munich (Marienplatz) and this important event is still announced at the entrance of the restaurant.

White sausage is made of veal meat, pork rind, herbs and it is eaten with a pretzel, sweet mustard and white beer. This combination simply screams Munich! It has been included in the Bavarian law of protected food where every single detail about the sausage has been specified. One of them is that the veal meat content has to be at least 51%.

Special thing about this sausage is that it is not boiled but rather steeped in hot water for about 15 minutes. If the water would boil, the skin (pork intestine) would break, the taste would get spoiled and it would also be very hard to peel the rest of the skin. The skin is not eaten.

Munich and Bavaria are very proud of its sausage, it has a very high status in this region. In the rest of Germany, not so much. One day I was in a store and I found this:

It is a tool to pick up the sausage from the hot water. The official name "White Sausage lifter". It is made of stainless steel and costs about 20 euros. No I did not buy it. A booklet called "Saving the skin of the White Sausage" comes with it explaining every single detail about the white sausage. That's a privilege of being a sausage with origin in the heart of Munich.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Pan de muerto

Day of the Dead is one of the most important holidays in Mexico. Although everything is about death, this is one of the most colourful holidays I have ever experienced. It was completely new to me as in Europe death is shown with dark colours.

Celebration takes place on 1st and 2nd of November and during these two days the spirits of the dead are expected to visit their homes. And the family members are doing different rituals to welcome the souls of the dead on their visit. The celebration is a mixture of pre-Hispanic and Roman Catholic traditions.

On November 1st families build altars with offerings, colourful adornments, like fresh seasonal flowers and colourful paper cut-outs. These altars have a picture of the dead family members and around them all their favourite things are arranged, including food and drinks. Town squares have also altars with the offerings to the souls of the dead.

"Pan de Muerto" or Bread of the Dead is a sweet type of bread made of yeast dough with a touch of orange and anise. It is baked for the dead and put on the altar. The important thing about this bread is its shape. The small ball in the middle symbolizes the skull, and the figures on the side symbolize skeleton bones. Unfortunately I did not manage to take a picture of the bread after being baked.

On November 2nd families visit the graves and arrange second ofrenda. Some families even bring mariachis (traditional musicians) who sing the favourite songs of the dead person. Graveyards are adorned with the most colourful flowers and paper cut-outs, very beautiful. The same type of flowers have been used by Aztecs when honouring the dead.

The symbol of the death in Mexico is La Catrina, fancy dressed female skeleton.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Here it is, my favourite dish ever, pozole. Pozole is one of the most authentic Mexican dishes and it has everything a dish should have, if you ask me. The base is made of corn, same type as corn flour for tortillas is made of, and the rest of the ingredients vary.

In Mexico corn for pozole is sold either dried or vacuum packed (picture). Outside Mexico it is usually sold canned. Vacuum packed corn does not need to be soaked over night but it still has to be cooked for 2-3 hours until the kernels open.

After the corn is cooked, meat is added. Pozole can be made with beef, pork, chicken, seafood, or meatless. And depending on which chillies are used pozole can be red, green or white (no chili). My favourite is red pozole made with a mixture of ancho (left) and guajillo (right) chilies.

There are so many different types of pozole that in Mexico there are restaurants who only serve pozole, they are called pozolerias. A must when visiting Mexico.

serves 4
500 gr pozole corn
400 gr chicken, mixture legs and breasts
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
2 chilies anchos
2 chilies guajillos
salt and pepper

finely chopped radish, avocado, onion, salad (4 tbsp of each)
dried oregano
tostadas (oven dried or fried corn tortillas)
totopos (oven dried or fried corn tortilla chips)

Wash corn couple of times, put in a casserole and cook in water until it opens. Do not add any salt as that prevents corn from opening. This takes 2-3 hours. Water needs to be added from time to time. Add the meat, garlic, onion, salt and pepper. When the meat is cooked take it out, let it cool and shred it in small pieces.

Clean the chilies, soak in hot water for about 15 minutes and when soft blend in a food processor. I don't have a food processor or mortar so instead I scrape the flesh, chop it very finely and press through a strainer. Chilies are sometimes very spicy but sometimes not so much, so add them to the corn spoon by spoon.

Serve pozole in bowls, top with fresh vegetables, chicken meat and sprinkle some dried oregano. Totopos and a piece of lime on the side. Lime is squeezed over pozole just before eating.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bavarian potato salad

I have never liked potato salads, but thanks to the Bavarian potato salad that is different now. This potato salad is very tasty, very easy to make and with few ingredients. Just like a potato salad should be.

It is the most common side dish served with the schnitzel and it is so popular that there is even a tool for cutting the boiled potatoes in perfectly even, same size thickness (5 mm). I bought it.

Potato slicer is really not necessary if you are making salad for few people, but it has its speed-advantage when making for a crowd.

The boiled potatoes are seasoned with a light dressing made of oil, vinegar, mustard, stock, salt and pepper. The creaminess is achieved by mashing a potato and mixing it with the dressing.
I cannot wait to try this salad with new potatoes!

Bavarian potato salad

 2 side dishes
400 gr potatoes, waxy not floury
2 dl warm stock (I used chicken stock)
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard (medium hot)
salt and pepper
1 medium onion, finely chopped
olive oil
bunch of chives, finely sliced

Scrub the potatoes, do not peel, and cook in salted water until done. Fry onion in some olive oil on low temperature until soft and transparent, not brown!

When potatoes are cooked peel them, mash one potato and cut the rest in slices. Made the dressing with mustard, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Add stock and mashed potato. Mix the dressing and fried onion with the sliced potatoes. Blend well, sprinkle with chives and serve.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Argentine empanadas

Empanadas are made of pastry filled with meat. They can be found in Spanish speaking countries and in Argentina they are considered a national speciality. I have tried empanadas from Spain, Argentina and Mexico. Argentinian are definitely my favourite.

Every region in Argentina has its own version of the filling but the base is made of equal parts of ground beef and onion, that has been seasoned with ground paprika and cumin. All other ingredients like, potatoes, eggs, olives, raisins...differ from region to region and basically you can add them to your liking.

Another great thing about these empanadas is that they can also be baked in the oven. Usually empanadas are fried in oil but Argentinian can be baked without making them un-authentic. I was not that much interested in the pastry this time so I just bought frozen in a Latino food store here in Munich. But here is a recipe for homemade empanada pastry.

16 empanadas
150 gr ground beef
150 gr onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp ground paprika (sweet)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 hard boiled egg, chopped
1/2 dl green olives, chopped
2 tbsp raisins
1/2 dl red pepper, chopped
olive oil

16 empanada pastry discs (12 cm)

Fry onion and garlic in some oil on low temperature until glossy and transparent, takes about 10 minutes. Add ground paprika and cumin, fry 2-3 minutes. Add olives, raisins and pepper, fry 5 minutes more. Switch off the cooker, add meat, fry just shortly, as soon as it is not red anymore take off the cooker. The meat should not be cooked completely as it will cook again in the oven for another 15-20 minutes. Add egg, season with salt and pepper,and let the filling cool down a bit. If it is too hot it might melt the butter-based pastry.

To fill empanadas take one pastry disc, place one tablespoon of filling in the middle. Carefully close empanada, this is probably the hardest part. Press two edges of emapanada well so that nothing comes out. Empanada should look like a half moon and have an dough edge of about 2cm. To make a nice spiral edge, start by folding a corner of empanada inwards, press firmly, and continue folding the dough until you reach the other corner.

Place empanadas on a baking sheet, paint with a beaten egg and bake in preheated oven, 200C, for 15-20 minutes.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Boskoop apples

Recently I tried apple fritters made with the most amazing apples ever, Boskoop apples. These fabulous apples almost transform into apple sauce when cooked, they are simply melting away.
I just couldn't wait to make my favourite apple cake with these amazing apples from the Netherlands.

I used kamut flour in the dough and kamut semolina in the filling. Kamut semolina makes sure that juice from apples doesn't make the cake wet and soggy. Vanilla and lemon in the dough are a must.

I made the cake in my cast iron pan, works perfectly.

Apple cake
75 gr butter
2,5 dl kamut flour
4 tbsp sugar
1 egg
1\2 tsp baking powder
few drops lemon oil (or some lemon zest)
seeds of 1 vanilla pod
1 dl sliced almonds

6 Boskoop apples, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tbsp sugar
1/2 dl water
2 tbsp kamut semolina

Rub butter and flour until you get coarse crumbs. Add sugar, baking powder, egg, lemon oil, vanilla and mix quickly. Wrap in the foil and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, the dough needs to get chilled.

In the meantime, put the sliced apples, cinnamon, sugar and water in a pan and cook for about 10 minutes. Apples should get a bit soft and loose some of their water. Let the apples cool down a bit.

Cover the bottom of the pan with the sliced almonds. Divide the dough in two parts. My iron cast pan is about 22 cm in the bottom and 25 cm higher up so I take a little bit less dough for the bottom and little bit more for the cover.
Put the smaller disc over the almonds, sprinkle semolina over the dough and spread the apple filling over semolina. Cover with the other dough disc and bake in the preheated oven, 180C for about 25 minutes.

Let the cake cool down for about 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges to make sure that nothing is stuck. Invert on a plate and cut first when it has cooled down to warm.