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Gratin with just a little ‘kick’

Our version of ‘Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin

Maybe one of you dear Reader Friends has been to an English Public School? You have? Oh, then of course you will NOT recognise this particular version of the (in-) famous school “Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin”, since I have tried to give it a little bit of Carina’s flavouring.

And since my family and I always liked this home-made Gratin I now like to share this recipe with you in the hope that you might as well.
It goes well with chicken and meat but is also just lovely by itself, the amount of grated cheese and red chilli flakes added will have to be to your personal liking (but do not amiss all together, since this dish needs a little ‘kick’).

So without further ado here is my version for you hopefully to prepare for your family as either a side dish or a main meal.

For just 2 people I suggest:

1 x small broccoli, broken into smallish florets
1 x small cauliflower, broken into smallish florets
¼ x cup of natural plain thick yoghurt
½ x of grated sharp cheddar cheese
A sprinkling of dry red chilli flake, depending on your heat tolerance
1 ½ x tsp wholegrain mustard
2 x Tbsp or so of breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste

In lightly salted boiling water cook broccoli and cauliflower for maybe 8 minutes or until they are just tender. Do not over-cook the vegetables!

Drain well and transfer to a lightly buttered flameproof dish.

In a bowl mix together yoghurt, red chilli flakes (if used), mustard and grated cheese, and of course also with salt and pepper. When this is done spoon over your vegetables.

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top and grill under a pre-heated grill until golden brown.

Serve hot with maybe a chunk of French bread.

That’s it – all done – Guten Appetit.
Namaskaram
Carina

A Marriage of Fennel & Carrot

Hallo – hallo – yes, I am back!

But do not worry, I will not bore you with the many stories of WHY I have been away from my computer that long – too many to be told – but just in case there are one or two of you who actually missed me (  and no this is not meant to be in an arrogant manner) the main reason for being off the air for 2 months is quite a simple one – I needed (and wanted) to do some other things around the house, away from the computer desk!!!.

So today I like to introduce you to one of my favourite vegetable dishes. I am not always able to get Fennel here, so when I see it in our Hypermarket I buy some bulbs and make the most of it.

300 g Carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
300 g Fennel, cleaned and sliced thinly
15 g plain oats
15 g butter
50 ml Vegetable Stock, (I use a Knorr Cube)
50 ml Cream (light)
1 small onion, chopped finely
2-3 Garlic (optional) finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter (but do not let it get brown!), add oats and stir for 1 minute before adding all the carrots and fennel, onion and garlic. Mix and stir for another minute or two. Add prepared stock, cover and on medium heat let it cook for 10 minutes or so. Before serving add Cream, spices and bring to your table.

In our house I serve mainly some creamy mash potatoes with this for myself and rice for JS.

That’s it – ready – Guten Appetit!

This is one of my “Speedy-Gonzales” vegetable dishes which is wonderful just by itself or with meat or chicken and ideal for all of us who are “in a hurry” since it can be on your plate in less than 30 minutes.

Namaskaram,
Carina

D J U V E C – my first ‘fast food’

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(Tomatoes, Capsicums, Meat, Paprika and Rice – all in one pot!)

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When I grew up in Bonn the words “Fast food” and ‘Street food” were so not used to us – they simply had not entered my generation’s vocabulary – yet!

Nor was the myriad of Middle- and Far Eastern spices known to any of us – yet!

But it introduced me to the wonderful world of spices – and I certainly have not left this ‘spice world’ – yet!

In our schools and colleges we started to learn about different countries in the world, especially on our continent, although hardly any of us had ever ventured out of Germany – yet!

For us Youngsters, a special treat after a visit to the cinema was normally a (newspaper-) cone filled with freshly made ‘fries’ with a dollop of ‘mayo’ on top.

Places like any of those now well-known Burger places, Mo-Mo Restaurants, Pizza Parlours, various Coffee- and Tea Bars, etc. etc. did not even exist in our country – yet!

But all was going to change one day – the first “foreign” Restaurant opened, just opposite the Main Train Station, in our still sleepy little town, by then already the new Capital of Germany.

My memory plays a little dance in my head – it annoys me that I cannot remember the real name of this restaurant, even searching through my box of old old notes from around the world, did I not come up with the right name. So, I herewith name this place “The Balkan Restaurant” (you never know, it just might have been its name all along).

Of course, like Youngsters all over the world, we had to explore en bloc after school/college before heading home. We thought we were in heaven no less – delicious smelling foreign food, big portions, relatively little money and when sharing a plate between 2 or even 3 people it was not a ‘budget killer’.
After having sampled through the menu once or twice soon we established a dish called by the strange name of DJUVEC was our favourite.

The word Đuveč derives from the Turkish word Güveç, which means casserole (traditionally cooked in an earthenware pot).

Having typed this so far I now feel sort of peckish (nothing was left over from yesterday when I prepared this dish from memory, more or less).

Ingredients for 2 pretty hungry people or
Ingredients for 4 with big salad and flat bread on the side

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½ kg lean Meat (see notes), cleaned and cut into small pieces
1 x large onion, chopped
4 x garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 x large green chillies, cut finely
½ x large red Capsicum (known as Paprika in Europe), cut small
½ x large yellow Capsicum, cut small

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½ x large green Capsicum, cut small
3 x large Tomatoes – skin and seeds removed and cut small
300 x g long grain Rice (I like to use top Basmati rice), wash and keep aside
1 x tsp of mild paprika powder
1 x tsp of chilli powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 x Tbsp of tomato paste
2 Tbsp Oil
1 ltr of good meat broth, keep aside

Method:
In a wide pot heat oil, add your chosen meat (see notes) and fry very quickly, stirring all the while. Take out and keep aside.

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Add onion and garlic to the oil in pot and then all the Chillies, Capsicums (Paprika) and now let all this cook on low heat for a few minutes. Keep stirring often. Now add the previously fried meat, salt, pepper, paprika powder, chilli powder and the tomato paste – stir and add enough meat broth so that it just covers all this.

Cover and now let it simmer for 30 to 45 minutes (depending on the meat you are using – keep checking!) If needed just add some more broth – don’t let it go dry or even burn!!!!

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Halfway through add the tomato pieces. Stir once gently. Now mix your washed rice into all this and add more of your meat broth. Keep simmering for maybe another 20 minutes or so without stirring; but towards the end of your cooking time check to see if more broth is needed.

Rice should still have a nice soft ‘bite’ and the whole dish is meant slightly on the moist side rather than dry.

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That’s it – all done – serve and enjoy. Guten Appetit!

Notes: You can use Pork, Beef, Veal.

I have eaten this also with some wonderful very hot sausage like ‘Chorizo’ – and it was quite delicious, too.

Namaskaram
Carina

Celery/Leek Soup with my little twist

According to the Oxford Dictionary Diaries the phrase . . . “warm the cockles of one’s heart” means in plain English “to give one a comforting feeling of contentment”. And sweet Molly Malone from Dublin’s Fair City could tell you a thing or two here.

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Comfort feeling of Contentment’ is what I am looking for if and when I am either down with a flu/cold or just simply feel slightly below par.

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As long as I can remember I nearly always have made my weekly pot of delicious home-made soup, ready to be consumed at any time or portioned off and frozen for later use. It does not matter if now again I live in a hot or cold climate – the aroma from the vegetables, the wonderful spices wafting from my special soup mug gently up my nose immediately tells certain brain cells of mine “get better – and snap out of this negative mood you are in” – and rest be assure it always works like a dream. And yes, this is one of the reasons why I still continue to conjure up soups, not following recipes most of the time either.

I know that a great number of my blogger friends are right now living in colder climate – and that’s one reason why I like to share one of my favourite “winter warmers” with you (never mind we and some other dear friends live in a hot climate) – sitting around your own kitchen table with bowls of hot steaming soup in front of you and either nice thick chunks of granary bread or Arabic hoops on the side for ‘dunking’. Especially for you, who have just come in from clearing snow off your pathway, de-frosting the car, or just came home from a long crisp walk.

So therefore, without long ado – here is last nights “Carina’s Special” for you to enjoy hopefully as well.

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The amount of ingredients you see in the first picture turned out to be a generous four-portion-soup. And here is what I used:

1 x medium onion, chopped
1 x fat leek, washed thoroughly and sliced
4 x cups of celery, well washed, ends trimmed and rest chopped
1 x medium/large washed but unpeeled potato, diced small
5 x garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
1 x small piece of fresh ginger, finely sliced
2 x heaped tsp of cocopowder
1 x Tbsp Olive oil
1 x Tbsp hot curry powder
Salt, to taste and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ x tsp of turmeric powder
4 – 5 x cup of vegetable stock (I used Knorr cubes)
1 x tsp of dry oregano
1 x tsp of dry rosemary (or a twig of fresh one)
Some celery leaves for garnish and celery seeds (if you can get them)

METHOD:
First of all, have all your vegetables prepared as mentioned above and keep aside on a board.

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Set a large medium high vessel on MEDIUM heat and after a couple of minutes add the olive oil, followed by the onion, leek and the celery, stir, cover and cook gently for app. 10 minutes, stirring half way through again.

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Now add curry powder, stir and gently cook for another 2 minutes only.

Add potatoes, nearly all the stock and the herbs, stir and continuing to simmer for 20 minutes or so, until the vegetables are tender. We don’t like them too mushy – so you may have to adjust simmering time.

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When done, switch off heat and let soup cool down slightly (I switch on the Ceiling fan).
10 minutes later I puree the vegetables in my “Mixy” until they are nice and smooth.

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Now check your soup for any possible additional spices needed.
Return all this to your vessel and gently re-heat until piping hot.
Switch off the heat and add your previously prepared coconut milk powder, stirring gently. Do no remove vessel – allow the previous heat deal with the added coconut milk.

Serve in individual soup plates, bowls or cups decorated with a sprig of celery leaves and if you have, a light sprinkling of celery seeds.

You can also do, what I sometimes do, add a few prawns quickly boiled in chilli water! For a little kick.

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You do not need much else, apart from delicious healthy bread or hoops for dunking – little culinary heaven!!!

That’s it – all done – enjoy!

Namaskaram
Carina

Note: The statue shown above has been moved to Suffolk Road while a light railway line is being built in Grafton Road, but is expected to be returned to its original place in 2017.

“. . . a meal for a King – Uppuma”

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Breakfast is unarguably the most important meal of the day.

I was raised in Germany on the old saying “….Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper” – something which I adhered to on and off over the years.

Like most of us I too rushed out in the morning far too often without a bite to eat, just a cup of coffee “on the run”, lunch often was a sandwich or two and come evening it was either a visit to a restaurant or pub, eating food which I should not eat, especially late in the evening. In Germany we normally try not to eat a full calorie-laden meal after 7 pm!

But, over the years, and with gained experience and with accumulated ‘wisdom’ I tried to eat more sensibly and healthy – not always succeeding, mind you!

So living here now, my eating plans simply had to change – and they did. I do not have what we call ‘European’ breakfast any longer, except when I make a small bowl of oats with a few raisins and a small spoonful of honey for myself to see me through till lunchtime. In the last 14 years, I have quite happily adopted to my new eating routine.

I love breakfast – and I so enjoy occasionally starting an often quite hectic day with one of South India’s most common and popular breakfast dishes.

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I do like ‘to ring the changes’ when it comes to our meals and therefore I find it a little bit difficult to talk about my favourite choice for a good Indian breakfast – after all I do like nearly all varieties of dhals, potato curry, Idlies with chutney and sambar, masala dosa etc etc and of course then there is UPPUMA – made from Wheat rava (semolina) with a few items added to suit our own personal taste bud. There are of course once again numerous slight variations on the same theme – but what I present to you today is, as usual, what we would serve you if you happened to join our breakfast table.

All measurements given are for 2 portions.

I like to buy pre-roasted Rava (Semolina) – so no need to fry this in your own kitchen any longer.

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1 x cup pre-roasted Rava (semolina)
½ x cup of Ullis (shallots) – sliced
2 x long green chillies, cut into 2-3 pieces, seeds not removed!
4 x cloves of garlic, sliced
1 x Tbsp Cashewnuts (or shelled Almonds)
1 x Tbsp Kismis (Raisins)

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½ x tsp of black mustard seeds
½ x tsp of black pepper
½ x Tbsp of Uppu (Salt) (you may want to adjust this)
2 x sprigs of Curry leaves
1 x Tbsp of vegetable oil
2 x cups of water (boiled)

Method:
Heat up a large wide vessel, add oil, when hot add mustard seeds (remember – those little sneaky ‘bullets’ will fly all over your stove – so keep pot covered for a couple of seconds), when they have stopped ‘popping’ add chillies, Ullis, garlic, raisins, nuts, curry leaves, salt and black pepper. On medium heat stir all this and let it cook for 2-3 minutes.

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Now turn down heat even more and add Rava in a stream all over this mixture, stir again and again for another 2-3 minutes before adding the water.

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Mix well – making sure nothing sticks at the bottom or the sides of the vessel. Keep stirring before covering with a lid for another 3 minutes.

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This is usually the time when I have a quick sip of coffee!!

Switch off your flame, using a fork I break up any possible little lumps.

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Since I make Uppuma this way, I never ever have burnt bits at the bottom or sides of my vessel, just beautiful fluffy delicious Uppuma.

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This is normally served with a steamed banana.

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That’s it – all done – enjoy!

Namaskaram
Carina

A small gift for you – ALMONDS

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As long as I can remember come New Year’s Day I have made “Gebrannte Mandeln” (sugar-burnt-almonds) to give away to friends as a little ‘thank you’ for this and that.

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Wrapped in little cornucopias simply made out of newspaper they always bring a smile to everybody’s face; with most of us being reminded of those fun-filled childhood visits to our local Christmas Markets. Although I never had an overly sweet tooth this did not stop me from nagging my own mother to buy me a portion of those deliciously smelling ‘gebrannte mandeln’ each time we visited one of those markets – until she decided it would be cheaper making them at home.
To me and many people around the globe the almond is a symbol of good fortune and happiness.

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….already at sea en route to Germany, the biggest import market.”

And this is one of the main reasons why today I like to present each one of you with my little gift combined with my very best wishes for

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There are so many uses for this nut in the kitchen alone, too many to start listing them all here.

And although I use Almonds a lot in my kitchen, one of my own personal ‘comfort dishes’ (especially when the wretched cold/flu has hit me) is a nice bowl of rice pudding, laced with a pinch of cinnamon and a dollop or two (wicked!) of jam and some Almonds. By the way, this is also a Swedish Christmas Tradition.

Here in India we say that eating 10 Almonds a day is good for the brain (….oh yes?!) – and so I keep stocking up once a month!

And who does not know the 5 important health benefits of Almonds: they are of course as follows:
1) Almonds are a great source of healthy monounsaturated fats.
2) They are a good way to get your magnesium, copper, manganese and vitamin B
3) They are particularly high in antioxidant vitamin E
4) Eating Almonds instead of high carbohydrate foods has been shown to aid weight loss.
5) Vitamin E in Almonds protects your skin’s collagen to keep you looking younger for longer.

Now for you, who like to make those Almonds at home, here is this very simple recipe I have been using for so many years.
300 g Almonds (with skin on)
180 g white sugar (you can use more if you like, but ….)
2 Tbsp Cinnamon powder
The inside (pulp) of one Vanilla
40 ml water

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Take a large frying pan and on medium flame heat water, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla pulp stirring continuously until sugar has molten.
Add Almonds and continue stirring until all the Almonds are well covered. Now for the next 10-15 minutes keep stirring until all the water has evaporated and the Almonds have turned nicely brown.

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In the meantime line a tray with parchment paper and transfer all the Almonds onto this, spreading them out and simply let them dry for a little while. For this I put the whole lot into the oven (WITHOUT HEAT) for maybe 30 minutes or so.

That’s it – done – ready to be bottled or boxed and enjoyed.

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Come now and join me – jumping straight into a New Year, with a spring in one’s step, a song in one’s heart, a smile on one’s face and hope for a better tomorrow.

Namaskaram
Carina

Calf’s liver

what the doctor once ordered became a little treat for me

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When I was a child, so my mother told me, I was diagnosed with “mild Anaemia” – which luckily lasted only for a short time.

I cannot remember if and what kind of medication our Doctor prescribed – but two things for sure I do remember until this day: I was supposed to eat liver and drink a glass of red wine with a raw egg !!! A number of you might think this would put me off totally of all those three items, but no, I began to like liver dishes prepared by my mother – the red wine/egg thing was something else. Don’t get me wrong I do like red wine and I do love eggs, but not together in a glass !!!!

So today I like to share one of my favourite liver dishes, it will only take 40 minutes from start to finish – this includes soaking the meat for some 20 minutes in milk.

I used the following:
Some beautiful calf’s liver, cleaned and cut finely into slim slices

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2-3 x onions, thinly sliced
½ x a tray of Champignons, wiped with a dry paper towel and sliced

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Some flour
Some milk for soaking the liver
Bouillon using 1 x Knorr Beef- (or Vegetable-) cube
Some cream
3 x Tbsp good Vegetable oil
2-3 x tsp of grainy mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Before starting to prepare onions, mushrooms etc., soak the liver in some milk for up to 20 minutes (there is no scientific basis for doing so, my meat smelled and looked beautifully fresh, the reason might be, because my mother always used to do this).
After this, rinse the meat and pat dry.

In a wide pan heat half of your oil and on medium heat brown your onions. Add the Champignons, mix and continue. Remove from pan onto a plate, add some salt and pepper and keep aside.

Now add the remaining oil into the pan and when hot add the dried slices of liver – sprinkle some flour over this and stir everything gently for a minute before adding onions and Champignons and mustard and again stir. Pour some of your bouillon and bring quickly to a boil for a few seconds. Switch flame off and carefully add cream, mix gently and check once again on pepper and salt.

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That’s it – ready – enjoy.

Guten Appetit,

Namaskaram
Carina