Archive | April 2016

Velvety Carrot Soup with an Asian Twist

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I really can’t help it, but nearly every time I eat Carrots in any kind of form, shape and sizes, I hear a tiny little voice of my late Mom “Mutti” …….’do eat your carrots now – they are good for your eyes and will make you see in the dark….”

At that time I was little and like most children I of course believed her. Not that I hated carrots, no not at all, quite liked them actually and now that I am grown up I truly love them. As vegetables, prepared in many many different ways, as soups (after all I was born in Germany and we do love our soups), as salads for when I want to be extra kind to my body and as nibbles.

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Even now, typing this page, I have a small plate of freshly cut carrot sticks next to me and keep munching on those, like a little Rabbit – maybe Grandpa knew in his wisdom why he nicknamed me “Kaninchen” (little Rabbit) all those decades ago. (But mind you, in this tremendous heat we are having here right now I really would love an ice-cream or even two, but……).

Today we all surely know that Carrots are one of the healthiest foods around containing over 100 % of Vitamin A; so we should make food like carrot part of our everyday diet.

Velvety Carrot Soup with an Asian Twist

= this should not take you more than maximum 30 minutes =

I was greedy and used up all the carrots which needed to leave my vegetable compartment. I did not weigh, so just do what I did, and go by your eyes, appetite and what’s in your own fridge. The measurements given therefore are for those 2 large bowls of soup I made for my husband Jo’s and my Lunch with a little bit left in the pot.

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Ingredients

2 x medium sized onions, cubed
4-5 x large carrots, peeled and chopped
5-6 x cloves of garlic, crushed (our garlic is really small)
Salt, black pepper to your own taste
2 x Tbsp of Peanut butter Sauce
1-2 x Tbsp Lingham’s Hot Chilli Sauce
¼ – ½ x cup of Coconut milk (optional – or use some milk)
3 x cups of earlier prepared Vegetable Stock (I used KNORR cubes)
Tiny bit of oil for sweating the onions

Method

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Heat oil on medium heat, add onion and garlic, stir and after maybe 5 minutes add the carrots.

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Season, stir and add the vegetable stock, stir again and cover pot.
Now reduce heat to simmer and cook until vegetables are nice and tender. It only took me 15 minutes since I cut everything fairly small and also I wanted to retain a certain “crunch”.

I do not have an immersion blender – yet! – and therefor ‘blitzed’ the soup in stages in my Mixy with the PB Sauce and the Lingham’s. (You can also add a few more peanuts in for good measure, if you like).

That’s it really. Pour into soup cups; sprinkle some coriander, tiny carrot slivers and a couple of drops of thick coconut cream on top and serve.
This goes very well with just slices of brown-bread toast or Arabic bread, slightly warmed.

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So my friends, enjoy this little soup and you never know, maybe you too will be able “…..to see in the dark…”.

Guten Appetit – enjoy your meal – znegosmac – buon appetito – bon appétit – ทานให้อร่อยนะ –

Carina

Thai Chicken with Aubergine

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Sawasdee

As some of my loyal readers know by now, my husband JS and I have a very special connection with Thailand, Bangkok in particular, which started way back in 2002.

We used to fly over nearly every year a couple of times spending each time up to a whole month just relaxing, seeing friends etc. and enjoying their food and culture.

Over the years we have visited many restaurants in this vibrant city and yes, we too have at least a couple which are our absolute favourites, one of which is the famous “BLUE ELEPHANT RESTAURANT” at 233 South Sathorn Road, Kwaeng Yannawa, Khet Sathorn, Bangkok. 10120.

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On our last visit to Bangkok I was all scheduled to attend some Thai Cooking Classes at their equally famous and renowned School but unfortunately a health issue with me which kept cropping up forced us to fly home a bit earlier than planned and therefore I never managed to attend my classes, to which I was looking forward to so very much.

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But, be rest assured, as soon as I can fly again, we will be off once again to Bangkok and I will make sure I can attend classes under the incredible tutelage of Master Chef Nooror and her team.

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I wanted to clear out my fridge a little and when I saw chicken breast and Eggplant (Aubergine) I thought I treat myself, and hopefully you, too, to my own version of Thai

“Chicken with Aubergine”.

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1 chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
1 whole aubergine, just washed and “topped & tailed”, into small cubes
80 g (approximately) of Green Curry Paste
150 ml Coconut cream
2 Kaffir Lime Leaves
1 Tbsp Fish Sauce
½ Tbsp sugar
2 large Chilli
Some fresh Basil
Oil – just a minimum

Method

Heat up Wok on medium heat with a little splash of Oil – add green curry paste.
Stir and when that lovely smell enters your nostrils, turn down heat to minimum.

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Now add coconut cream.

Bring carefully to a boil and immediately add prepared chicken pieces, eggplant and the kaffir lime leaves. Also add fish sauce and a bit of sugar.
Stir gently and simmer for 5-8 minutes.
Garnish with chilli and fresh basil.
Ideally serve with Thai rice.

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ทานให้อร่อย (Enjoy your meal!)
Carina

NOTES: I was lucky that I still had some of my BLUE ELEPHANT ingredients which I purchased on our previous visit to Bangkok.

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I was not able to find any Thai rice here at the moment (out of stock).

PS: All three pictures, except those credited to Carina Sebastine are courtesy of blueelephantcookingschool.com

“Falscher Hase” – or, a meatloaf by any other name

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This is not a dish you often find on the menu card of restaurants in Germany or in other countries. It was known in Germany just after the war as “the poor man’s Sunday roast” – then later it ended up on many of Buffet tables at parties as part of “the spread”, only to fade over the following years slightly into the background – but never ever disappeared completely.

This happened in our house, too – up to now!

My mother used to make “Falscher Hase” (Imitation Hare) when I was little, but I never got the original recipe from her, I had to make it up from memory.

Then, when in my ‘previous life’ we lived in Trinidad + Tobago/W.I. and I had to really learn to cook good food fit for entertaining in our own Residence, it was the wife of the then American Ambassador, herself a superb cook, who taught me to make her kind of meat loaf, which I then adapted to our own personal taste.

I started, originally just as an experiment, a monthly get-together for some of us wives of Ambassadors (and/or their No 2!) and High Commissioners where we only served a typical dish of our home country – a family dish! really – and not something we would serve our official guests. To my surprise, it became a huge huge success. And every time our own British High Commissioner and his wife had to give a big buffet reception, (it was their custom to get each of the wives of our own Mission to contribute a special dish to their buffet table) I was asked (or shall I say correctly “ordered”) to make at least half a dozen of my meat loafs, of which nearly always 2 wandered into their own personal deep freezer for future use. As it turned out that the ones with plenty of garlic and hotness were the High Commissioners personal favourites – a nice compliment, really.

But, over the following years, I somehow stopped making this dish. Did we grow tired of the taste, or what. I really do not know.

And then, only the other day, my friend Heidi in Berlin mentioned “Falscher Hase” in her email and I developed this near urge to seek out my old recipe and make one for JS; so off we went shopping (again!) for the items needed and not readily available in our kitchen at that time and so, here is the result of my first “Falscher Hase” in Kerala.

I like to point out again; as always I give the details for the dish we actually have on our own table – cooked to our own personal taste. Feel free therefore to adjust any measurements and ingredients to your liking.

For this dish there are most likely as many recipes as there are families. It is an ideal dish for which to use your imagination in regards of ingredients, spices, herbs, etc. etc. Feel free to experiment – I do; quite often.

Oh – and one more thing I have to mention – we never used a hardboiled egg inside the meat, but served halved hard boiled eggs on the side at buffets, for those guests who loved their eggs.

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For the Pyrex dish in the photograph I used:

Ingredients

750 g Mincemeat (I could only get Buffalo that day)
2 slices of stale bread, soaked in broth (from a Knorr cube) and squeezed out
1 leek (white only, very finely cut into rings)
10 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
10 green olives, chopped
3 Tbsp good tomato ketchup
2.5 tsp of Mustard (readymade)
1.5 Tbsp of Lingham’s Hot Chilli Sauce (optional)
Fair amount of chopped parsley
Fair amount of chopped chives
Pepper and ‘black salt
1.2 Tbsp Paprika powder
1 whole egg
½ cup of stock cube broth

Method

Make broth, soak the bread, squeeze out and keep aside.
Pre-heat your oven to 200 C.

Add all the above ingredients into a large bowl, mix well, taste and maybe adjust your spices.

If you are using a dish, like I did, for baking, make sure it’s very well-oiled or buttered (this is my preferred method)

Or, if you like, take a baking sheet, line with paper and add your mixture, shaped as a loaf, on top.

Bake in pre-heated oven for app. 1 hour. After 30 mins just add a little bit of your broth to the dish (to keep it moist).
After 1 hour check to see if it’s cooked. Switch off heat and leave inside the oven for a little while longer in order for the meat to settle.
That’s it – serve with either smooth mashed potatoes or boiled potatoes, Carrots, Peas, Cauliflower, Beans. But most importantly – ENJOY!

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Guten Appetit!
Carina

Sardinhas grelhadas

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– Memories of Alfama/ Lisbon –

A few years ago JS and I flew all the way out to Portugal – a country neither of us had visited before but always wanted to experience.

So we spent a wonderful, but mainly rainy week (but who cared really? We did not!) in Lisbon in time to take part in this city’s “Saint Antony’s Day” on 13th June.

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On the eve of the Saint’s Day (even thou he is generally known as St. Antony of Padua, he was actually born in Lisbon) the whole city turns crazy – into their annual sardinhas- and -beer –bacchanal; the streets are lined with make-shift grill stations and the smell of grilled sardinhas ……. Oh! My goodness, you just have to fly over and experience this for yourself. Everybody is celebrating and having generally a great time and the occasional drizzle from the sky above does not spoil the fun.

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We spent our evening/night in the Alfama district – which is the oldest district of Lisbon. Like the previous day, we had spent our afternoon here at the famous and so beautiful São Jorge Castle.

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Alfama is regarded as the most genuine and authentic neighbourhood in the city. We walked the ancient cobble stones and soon found ourselves a table, where we sat and let the beguiling wail of Fado drift over us which came at us literally from all 4 corners (and more!). And, like most girls/women I too was given a small pot of fresh basil -following the tradition – (known as: manjerico) by JS as a symbol of affection – but on my brightly coloured paper carnations with a poem written on them, I missed out – that time!

For you, who like to read more about our visit to Portugal please go to JS very own Blog:

https://manningtreearchive.com/category/viva-portugal

Obrigado …..Amalia, obrigado fado, obrigado Lisboa! But most of all, thank you Santo Antonio.

I could fill pages of telling you about that night ….. but, I am sure by now you like to read my version of ‘grilled sardines’ – sardinhas grelhadas! A recipe I jotted down on a paper napkin that night.

This is a very easy dish to prepare – appr. 30 minutes is all it takes. The numbers of sardinhas per person depends very much on your appetite, have a bowl of boiled potatoes and an even bigger bowl of beautiful salad – and sit out in the sunshine and enjoy!

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Sardinhas grelhadas Alfama style

INGREDIENTS

3-4 large potatoes, peeled, cut into 2cm pieces
1 Tbsp of hot smoked paprika
1/4 cup or so (60ml) olive oil
1 red capsicum
1 yellow capsicum
½ green capsicum
1 Avocado, stone removed, peeled and cubed
1 apple, peeled and cut into cubes
4 tomatoes, de-seeded and cubed
2 large red onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp of minced garlic (or less)
A generous portion of pitted and sliced black/purple olives
A generous portion of fresh basil
A generous handful of coriander
1-2 tsp lemon juice
12 fresh sardines (or more) cleaned
1 lemon, quartered

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METHOD
1 Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cook the potatoes until almost tender, drain and allow drying out for a few minutes.
2 Toss potatoes with paprika and 1 tablespoon oil. Season and spread on a large lined baking tray, then roast for 20 minutes or until golden.
3 Meanwhile, heat a grill pan on medium-high heat. Brush the capsicums with a little extra olive oil and grill for 4-5 minutes, turning, until the skin blisters. Set aside in a bowl and cover in plastic wrap. Once cool enough to handle, peel and cut into thin strips.
4 Place in a bowl with a couple of the cooked potatoes, then toss with tomatoes, onion, avocado, apple, garlic, basil, coriander, lemon juice and remaining oil. Season with salt and pepper.

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5 Increase the chargrill pan or barbeque heat to high. Brush the sardines and the grill with a little more oil to help prevent sticking. Sprinkle the sardines with 1 teaspoon sea salt – the soft-flaked varieties is best – then cook the sardines for 2-3 minutes each side until the skin is scorched and bubbling.
6 Divide the sardines among plates, then top with some of the salad and serve with lemon.

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7. Place a separate bowl of boiled potatoes and a bowl of salad.

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8. Chunky country bread or baguette will also be good.

Notes:
Our Alfama cook suggested that I dry the washed sardinhas thoroughly with a tea-towel before frying – and I followed his advice back home.
I did not use a barbeque since I did not want my sardinhas to stick to the grill – so I dry-fried them in the pan – and they turned out good.

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Desfrute de sua refeição – Enjoy your meal!
Carina

I leave you with the most beautiful voice of Amália Rodrigues
Ha festa na Mouraria” by Amália Rodrigues

Carina’s Version of “Polpette al Sugo”

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This is my very own quick version of a sort of “Polpette al Sugo” – the original we often have when back in Italy – nothing can beat those wonderful fresh Italian tomatoes and their addictive (at least for us) “ mozzarella di buffalo

Prep time 20 mins cooking time 45 mins Serves 4

1 lb. lean beef, minced 2 x (or Chicken, if you prefer)
1 x cup fresh white breadcrumbs
2 x garlic cloves, crushed
3 x Tbsp Parsley, chopped finely
Salt and pepper, to your taste
1x egg, slightly beaten
150 g x mozzarella cheese (cut into appr. 16 small cubes)
1x Tbsp vegetable oil
1 x large onion, finely chopped
400 g x fresh tomatoes, skin removed and squashed with your hands
1 x pack of spaghetti

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1.. Take a bowl; add beef, breadcrumbs, garlic, half the parsley, salt and pepper and the egg, mix well.
2.. Take one of the previously cut cheese cubes and 1 large tsp of beef mixture and cover the cube with this.
3.. Take large pan, heat oil, add prepared meat balls and brown on all sides on medium heat.

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4.. Add chopped onion, cook for 3-5 mins, and then add all the tomatoes with their juice. Simmer, cover with lid and cook for another 30 minutes.

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5.. Uncover pan and continue cooking for another 10 mins, so that sauce will reduce and slightly thickens.

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6.. While all this is going on, boil your spaghetti following packet instructions; but keep ‘tasting and testing’ – don’t overcook pasta.
7.. When done, drain and put into a slightly warmed big bowl.

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8.. Serve with the Meat Balls, sprinkled with the remaining parsley, from a separate bowl.

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NOTES:
With this I often just serve a nice crisp green salad or a tomato salad, which JS loves very much.

Also occasionally I add a couple of teaspoons of Curry powder to the meat mixture – it always depends who is coming and joins us for a meal. It really is purely a question of individual taste.

Of course you can also use tinned chopped tomatoes if you really have to.

Buon Appetito – Guten Appetit
Carina

Little Torpedoes on a bed of green waves (Green Gram and little sausages)

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Some time ago one of our friends came visiting with her little boy Patrick. Whilst having lunch he started playing with his food and like nearly all mothers my friend too immediately said “… don’t play with your food, Patrick”. But he, quick as a flash answered “I am not playing, I love Auntie’s Dal, but first I have to position my little torpedoes (i.e. sausages) on the green waves, before I can eat…” So, from then on we call this dish Patrick’s dish.

Now I don’t know about you – I just loooooove Dal (in fact too much sometimes, I think). I could happily live on Dal for weeks at a stretch. So there for you most likely can always find at least a couple of containers of my favourite legumes waiting in the fridge to be consumed sooner rather than later in one recipe or another.

Some need no soaking, some just a few hours and some I soak for 48 hours, since I do not use a pressure cooker – YET! (I actually purchased a small one just for my dried beans, the other day, but I am still too scared to use it!!!)

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Here this green gram (also known as mung beans), I either soak just over night (if used for breakfast the next day) or around 4 hours from early morning on for use later on in the day. They cook relatively quickly then, 15-20 minutes. Cooking them any longer will make them mushy, which is fine if you want to make soup, for example.

I wanted to use up some previously boiled green gram I had in my fridge as well as some little sausages which asked to be eaten.
The result was a delicious, quick, healthy protein snack which I like sharing with you here.

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For 2 people I used the following:
1 x cup green gram (previously soaked and washed again)
1 x Tbsp Vegetable Oil (I like to use as little oil as possible)
1 x large Onion, sliced thinly
3 x garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1 x tsp freshly grated ginger (or paste)
1 – 1 ½ x tsp red chilli flakes (adjust to your own heat intake)
1 x tsp Cumin seeds
Salt and pepper, as needed

A good handful of fresh coriander (I use the coriander stalks together with the gram whilst cooking for additional taste – and remove later, if you like)
1 Knorr – Vegetable- or Chicken Stock Cube
2-3 x cups of either fresh Stock or use the above mentioned cube (works well!)
1/2 x cup of natural yoghurt/curd
Some nice sausages you might like particularly, beef, pork, chicken, whatever!

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Method:
Heat your pan on medium heat, add oil and fry your choice sausages for a few minutes until they are nicely browned and done.
Remove with tongue and keep aside.

Add all your onions into this pan and cook until they are soft; when ready add cumin, garlic and chilli flakes, stir and simmer for a few minutes more.
Now you add the drained gram with the earlier mentioned coriander stalks, pour over the stock, stir once more and cover.

Up the heat and once it starts to boil turn down heat immediately and let this simmer for a little while, appr. 15-25 minutes (just keep tasting and testing!) until you are satisfied that the gram is cooked to your liking.

Check seasoning with pepper and salt.

Take off flame and after 2 minutes cool-down- time add yoghurt/curd and mix into the gram.
Cut sausages into half or smaller and lay on top of the cooked dish. Sprinkle with lots of coriander leaves.

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Bring to your table, serve and enjoy.
Carina

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