Sunday, January 25, 2009


Pretzel is called Brezel in German (Bretzn in Bavaria) and it is a typical bread from southern part of Germany. And as much as the pretzel looks peculiar that much it tastes peculiar as well. The taste however doesn't come from its dough-ingredients, like one would assume, but rather from the glaze that is put on the pretzel just before baking.

The glaze is made of lye, an alkaline solution, which in reaction with heat when baked gives pretzel its colour and taste. Lye is also used when making Chinese mooncakes, lutfisk (Swedish air-dried fish) and hominy corn.

The shape of pretzel makes it soft and chewy in thicker parts and crunchy in thinner parts, so it is definitely not a boring type of bread, it gives you a bit of everything. Pretzels are usually sliced horizontally and buttered, or filled with ham and cheese, or eaten with white sausage.

There are also many other shapes of lye-bread and in German they are distinguished by putting "Laugen" (=lye), in their name. Below are some common variations of pretzels and other lye-breads that can be found in bakeries.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Black salsify root

Winter in Europe means it is root-vegetable season. I like root vegetables a lot. They taste so much different to other vegetables and when cooked they release the sweetens that makes any cold winter day a bit warmer.

But this root vegetable I have never tasted before: black salsify root. The skin is black but inside it is creamy white. If you peel it fresh your hands will get all black and sticky, as it releases some kind of milk. I avoided that mess by peeling it after being cooked.

Black salsify root
serves 2 as side dish
400 gr black salsify root
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp cornstarch
4 tbsp water
1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
1 tbsp finely chopped red chili
finely sliced chives

Put the black salsify in salted water and cook for 20-30 minutes. When cooked peel and cut in smaller pieces.

Blend vinegar, cornstarch, water and sesame oil. Set the sauce aside. Heat the oil in a pan, add ginger and chili and fry until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Add black salsify and fry for another couple of minutes. Add the sauce, fry until glossy, add chives and serve.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Fresh cabbage salad

I really love cabbage in all its glorious forms: fresh, cooked, sour, any kind. This salad is made with fresh cabbage and it is typically prepared this way here in Bavaria.

The caraway and smoked ham give a wonderful taste and balance well with the freshness of the cabbage. My favourite smoked ham is Schwarzwald ham and I used it here as well, but any kind of smoked ham or bacon work fine as well.

Fresh cabbage saladserves 2
200 gr white cabbage
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 finely diced shallot
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp diced smoked ham
salt and pepper

Slice the cabbage as thinly as you can. Salt it and rub until it stars releasing the juice. Set aside.

Cook the smoked ham in a pan until slightly crunchy, add the caraway seeds and take off the cooker. Pour away some of the cabbage juice and add ham, shallot and vinegar, blend everything. Season with pepper, some more salt if necessary, and serve. Can be kept in the fridge over night, tastes even better the next day.

Friday, January 16, 2009


This is what Bavarian people do when they have some old bread at home, they make knödel.

Knödel is a Bavarian type of dumpling usually eaten with beef-roast and sauerkraut. But if you ask me it can definitely be a great replacement for potato and rice in many other dishes.

Usually bread rolls (Semmel) are used when making knödel but I think any kind of yeast bread should work. I used bread rolls and pretzel-style rolls and it worked excellent. Bread rolls should be about 2 days old, but not stone-hard dry.

8 small knödels
4 bread rolls (300gr)
2 dl milk
2 eggs
1 medium onion
2 tbsp chopped parsley
salt and pepper

Cut the bread rolls in thin slices. Heat the milk and pour over the bread, let sit for 20 minutes. In the mean time dice finely the onion and fry in some oil on the low temperature until glossy, it should not get brown. Add onions, eggs, parsley, salt and pepper to the soaked bread and blend everything well, but not too much, it should not be like a smooth paste, it is ok if some pieces of bread are still a bit dry.

Form round balls, the size you like. I formed eight small knödels (see above), but usually they are bigger, something like tennis balls. Boil water and some salt in a big casserole (just like you would do for pasta). As soon as the water boils take the casserole off the cooker, put the knödels inside and put the lid on.

Let the knödels steep in the hot water for 15 minutes. If you have made bigger size knödels then you should let them steep longer. It is important that the knödels are just steeping in the water and not boiling. Serve immediately, or keep in the hot water until ready to serve, but not longer than 30 minutes.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Drinking chocolate from Schwarzwald (Black Forest)

Schwarzwald is a low-mountain range situated in the southwestern part of Germany. It is probably one of the most famous parts of Germany thanks to its beautiful nature and quite few very famous products that come from Schwarzwald:

Cuckoo clocks...once I had a neighbour who was in a bad mood when the hour struck and the bird started cuckooing. The bird never cuckooed again.

Kirschwasser....brandy made of cherries, 42% cherry brandy that is.

Black Forest cake...cherries, chocolate, whipped cream and cherry brandy, d e l i c i o u s!

Black Forest ham. This is my favourite smoked ham. If you ask me it is so much better than prosciutto and serrano.

Rottweiler dog breed is named after a small town in Schwarzwald called Rottweil.

If I now go back to the cherry brandy. What do you get if you add some chocolate and a spoon? You get drinking chocolate from Schwarzwald.

This very creative drinking chocolate is made by Schwarzwälder Genusswerkstatt , roughly translated to "Indulgence workshop of Black Forest".
It comes with a spoon, a capsule filled with cherry brandy and a huge cube of chocolate (58%). All you need is to put it in the hot milk, wait until chocolate melts, squeeze out the brandy and you got your own drinking chocolate from the Black Forest...I like a lot!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

White chocolate mousse

Very easy, fast and delicious mousse. White chocolate can be replaced with any other chocolate and orange liquor with any other liquor.

White chocolate mousseserves 2
50 gr white chocolate
1 tsp orange liquor
1 egg, separated
1/2 tbsp sugar
tiny bit of salt
couple of drops of lemon juice
3 tbsp fresh cheese (mascarpone, ricotta, quark)
cocoa nibs to decorate with

Melt chocolate and let it cool. Beat the egg white until foamy, add tiny bit of salt and beat until soft peaks. Add lemon juice and beat couple of minutes more. Add sugar and beat until stiff peaks.

Add the egg yolk, orange liquor and cheese to the white chocolate and blend well. Carefully fold in a third of egg whites, then the rest of egg whites. Let it chill in the fridge for an hour. Spoon in the small cups, decorate and serve.