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“. . . 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

Mild Leek Soup

….. with an Indian/Welsh twist …..

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As many of you know by now – I do love vegetables ……or at least most of them!

When I grew up Leeks, in one form or another, appeared on our table at least once or twice a week.

Grandpa had a nice biggish vegetable garden behind his house where he grew nearly everything possible and the women in the family at that time always managed to come up with a wonderful variety of recipes for this and other vegetables.

But since leeks are not always readily available in the Supermarkets here, I make full use of them whenever I find them in their shelves. This means that we will be eating leeks at least 2-3 times that week – changing my recipes around to avoid boredom. And yes, this is just one of those weeks – a delivery of leeks had arrived in our Supermarket and so, you guessed it, I have been cooking various different dishes, partly from memory, partly from my little box of old old recipes and partly with my new ‘spur-of-the-moment’ input. So far, touch wood, I seem to have hit just the right button on my taste buds and hopefully at least some of you, who read this, will like today’s delicious soup and the other leek recipes which will be posted in the near future.

This following recipe is pretty much a standard one – in fact ideal for a light supper or an after party treat.

What does she mean by this, I hear you ask – simple, exactly what I wrote.

Many many years ago I started a habit (which soon became a sort of ‘tradition’ in our house). I started serving big chunky mugs filled with delicious hot nourishing soup after our official entertaining. Some of you know these occasions, where in a room (or garden) filled with well over 100 people one does not have a chance talking to some of the people one would really like to talk, like old friends etc., due to protocol, priority or whatever. Just imagine weddings, big birthday bashes etc. – so we started asking certain people discreetly to stay behind after the 2-hour long reception, which was very much appreciated, more so when we lived abroad somewhere on this planet. The ladies were only too happy to shed their high heeled shoes and literally flop onto the nearest sofas, chairs or even floor. The men, tie loosened, followed quickly suit and that’s when we brought out our soup. And after a few drinks and delicious ‘finger food’, the hot heart-warming, soul refreshing soup, was more than well received.

This became such a success that it was not only copied (the biggest form of flattery, right ?) but guests started to ask “what is the soup of the night?” And so I kept this by now ‘tradition’ going well past retirement from official life.

As always, I tell you what I used here for 2 people – so do not be too rigid – adjust to your own need and taste.

What you need:

250 gr Mincemeat (Keema)
3 x medium sized leeks, cleaned, most of the top green part discarded
4 x garlic cloves, finely chopped (or use garlic powder) – optional.
2 x Beef- or Vegetable Stock cubes dissolved in appr. 500 ml water
200 – 250 x gr of soft cheese (I used Mozzarella), cut into small cubes
3 x Tbsp of thick curd or crème fraîche
1 x medium sized potato, peeled and sliced thinly
Salt, pepper, to taste
2 x tsp (home-made) curry powder
2 x tsp paprika powder
2 x tsp ground nutmeg
2 x Tbsp Vegetable oil

How to cook:

First of all prepare your leeks further by washing them thoroughly to remove all the dirt between the layers. Then cut them into fine rings and keep aside.
Heat the oil in a wide pot – add the Mincemeat and quickly fry this for app. 5-8 minutes; add salt and pepper. Stir.

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Now add the previously prepared leeks, mix and fry this further for another 5 minutes or so.

Add the stock, stir, reduce heat to fairly low, cover with lid and let this cook for maybe 10 minutes (check – don’t let leeks get mushy).

Add the cheese, Mozzarella is fine here, let it melt completely.

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Add curd or crème fraîche and turn up heat a little bit for just a couple of minutes. Keep stirring.

Taste and add all the remaining spices. Mix well and check if this to your own liking.

I frequently serve just a couple of thin slices of ‘French bread’, slightly toasted and my own garlic butter scraped over it.

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That’s it. Guten Appetit.

Namaskaram
Carina

‘Schmorgurken’ in a Mustard Sauce

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Today again I post a dish which my Mother loved when I was growing up – and so did I. But, like with so many “old fashioned” recipes I had put this onto the back of my memories as well joining a whole lot of others, only to be reminded of this again a few days ago when I realised I was left with a lot of cucumbers in my fridge, due to a few work related Restaurant meals recently. And since they were far too many to eat as a salad (with dill and crabsticks) in a couple of days I had to come up with something else quickly. That’s when my friend Heidi in Berlin during our weekly ‘what’s-up-chat’ reminded me again of this famous German dish. The recipe I am posting here is my own mother’s; Heidi – living in Berlin – of course has a slightly different version which contains amongst other things onions and ham.

There are of course so many different recipes for regional “Schmorgurken” and I have no idea if my one here is typical of the part of Germany I was born or……?
Never mind really, I love it and I am glad it got somehow ‘unlocked’ in my brain and so I am happy to post this here for you in the hope, you too will like it.
It is a perfect Vegetarian meal – Basmati Rice, mashed potatoes or Indian flat bread is just wonderful with this.

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And for you non-vegetarian friends out there simply just add a Hamburger or Sausages.
Ingredients for 2 people and ready in 20 minutes
I used, as seen in my photographs:

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4 x small cucumbers (Vellarikka)
1 x Tbsp of butter (Venna) – do not use oil here –
¾ x Tbsp of Wheat flour (Atta)
¾ cup of Vegetable broth (from a good stock cube)
¼ cup of cream – optional – but it does add tremendously to the taste!
2 x Tbsp of good made mustard (I like coarse grain)
Salt and Pepper to your own taste
Plenty of Spring onion green only

Method:
1. Wash and peel your cucumbers
2. Cut those in half lengthwise and with small spoon remove inside.
3. Cut cucumbers into (half-moon) rings

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4. Melt butter on medium to low heat, add cucumbers, and stir gently.
5. Dust flour over the vegetable, add Stock and cream.

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6. On low heat and without a lid, cook vegetable gently, stir occasionally.
7. Cut as much spring onion greens as you like (I prefer to do this with a scissor) and add those with the mustard to the cucumbers.

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8. Add salt and pepper.

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That’s it – quick, easy and so delicious.

Namaskaram, Carina

QUARK – GLORIOUS QUARK !

…….and my today’s Lunch!

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You who have visited Germany no doubt will have come across this delicious, super healthy and versatile cheese at most breakfast tables in their Hotel or/and in private homes.

As a born German I simply cannot, for the heck of it, imagine sitting down for breakfast and not finding a bowl of this cheese waiting to be lavishly spread on my preferably “Vollkornbrot” (whole grain bread), Pumpernickel, or toast, with just salt and pepper added or mixed with chopped fresh herbs or simply topped with a slice of tomato.

Quark to me (my family and friends) is quite obviously what the potato is to the Irish!

And when I lived in those faraway lands and also in England I missed my daily dosage of Quark, never of course even thinking of making it myself at home. Come to think of it, I actually knew not a single person who made this in their own home; it was always readily available in most shops and at a pretty low price, too.
So, living here now again I found that Quark was not available and only with the opening of India’s largest Hypermarket near us just over a year ago, did I find out to my delight, that a certain world famous creamcheese (imported, of course) was occasionally available – but……… at a price!!!

So a quick telephone call to one of my close friends in Germany and hey presto – her recipe for making my own Quark at home came flying into my email account. And as you will see, it is sooooo dead easy to make, that I got a bit annoyed with myself for not having made this all those years ago. But then, as the saying goes “…one is never too old to learn new tricks...”

Surely you can understand my amazement when subsequently I googled “Quark” and found that now, only a couple of years or so ago, a company in the UK started producing Quark and from a sheer commercial point of view they never looked back.

So, for all of you, who are not suffering from a dairy intolerance or are vegans, here is the recipe I make now for the past year in my kitchen on average once a week.

I not only use Quark for cooking (often instead of cream), baking (use it to make your favourite cheese cake), I often eat it just on its own mixed just with delicious fresh herbs (if and when I can get them), mixed with fresh fruit like kiwi, apple, grapes etc, on bread/toast and/or water biscuits or the typical German way, just some boiled potatoes (Pellkartoffeln), and a salad on the side or a filling of a baked potato mixed with a chopped hardboiled egg for example. There are 1001 and more ways in which to consume this, so I suggest, just let your imagination run wild – go ahead, try out anything!!! It is soooo good, healthy and slimming, too. After all on average you will find that in 100 grams, it has just 0.2 grams of fat. So in short, it is a healthier alternative to many cheeses and yoghurts.

Here are just a few ideas how to eat Quark – the sky is the limit, as the saying goes. Just experiment.

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As you see in my photograph below, I use 4 pouches of milk and later, after boiling, I add 1 pouch of Curd. A couple of days later I have a yield of app ½ kg plus of beautiful Quark.

And regarding cost? It is so very low cost, (app GBP = 1.101, USD = 1.48, Austr. Dollar = 1.935) that I believe you too will rush into your kitchen and start making QUARK – GLORIOUS QUARK!!!

What you will need!

4 x pouches of milk (500 ml each)
1 x pouch of curd
Large pot, cheese cloth, large spoon and large bowl, 1 scissor

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How I make my QUARK – GLORIOUS QUARK

1) Empty 4 x pouches of milk into a large pot.
2) Put on flame and WHILST WATCHING bring this milk to just boil.
3) Switch off and let cool down (since I live in a tropical country I switch on my fan in the kitchen to cool milk down quickly)
4) Once cool enough add 1 pouch of Curd, stir, cover and keep aside overnight (I normally make this late morning)

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5) Next morning, dampen your cheesecloth, line a colander and carefully pour your milk with curd into this

And then knot cloth, cover with heavy lid, and keep inside fridge once more overnight!

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After that discard of whey (some people might want to use this – I do not!), open your cloth and transfer Quark into a smaller bowl (with lid) and keep in fridge – ready to be used!

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And now tada tada once again – this is it – ready!!

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Enjoy …. und Guten Appetit!

Carina xx

Kohlrabi Gratin

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Kohlrabi Gratin (In memory of Mutti)

When I woke up this morning I, at first, was a little bit ‘confused’; for a couple of minutes I believed it was still in the middle of the night.
Instead of bright sunshine finding its way into the house it was like I was back in England – dark, gloomy and wet!!!

Looking out of the window I found:
Sky as dark as a sky gets when ready to burst open and pours rain down on us.
Clouds hanging so low that one can easily imagine being able to touch them.
Cooler climate, less daily use of A/C’s or Fans in the house and offices.
All this and much more goes with the momentary season here and what is known as

MONSOON!

All this made me change my mind in the last minute what to post this time.

For the past few weeks I wanted to post a few dishes from my home country, Germany, especially using some of my late mother’s recipes. Although she was an average cook (but a very good and keen baker) who kept very few recipes written down (hence the reason why I have to make most of her dishes from memory with a few of my own in-puts here and there) she always brought food, including vegetables, to the table which as a child I hardly ever disliked and in fact have still very fond memories of, even today. Her food was simple, nothing too fancy, and by today’s standards certainly not highly photogenic, but always delicious – mainly great comfort food!

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So todays dish for example would be something she would quickly make in the morning before going to work and all it needed later was appr. 30 minutes in the oven to heat through.

Thanks Mutti – I know we both liked this casserole! Especially on a miserable rainy day.

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I used 2 separate bowls this time since in one I added Chilli for Jo, but not in mine.

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So, for those 2 dishes I used the following:
4 x medium sized onions, peeled, cut into fairly thin slices
6 x medium Kohlrabi, peeled, cut into fairly thin slices
4 x potatoes, peeled, cut into fairly thin slices
1 x tub of pre-washed Spinach, just over 2 hand full
1 x + Tbsp dried Thyme (if you can get fresh, use this)
200 ml Vegetable Stock (from a cube)
¾ of a small tetra pack of double cream, (app. 200 ml)
2 x tsp of sunflower oil
A generous lump of butter
Salt, pepper and nutmeg (use to your own liking)

For the topping:

Simple: I just put 3 x slices of bread, grated cheese (I had to use Mozzarella, nothing else here)
(Any hard cheese like sharp Cheddar is good), 1 x small sprinkling of Paprika (hence the colour of the gratin), a little bit of softened butter into my Mixy and blitzed this for a few seconds– ready!!

How to make:

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Take a wide pan or wok (so useful), add oil and butter, and let it foam on medium heat only. When it’s done add all the onions and sauté those gently, with a pinch of salt, for maybe 10 minutes until they slightly change colour.

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Now add the kohlrabi, potatoes and thyme and, best with 2 spoons, mix carefully. Add more salt and black- (or white) pepper. Cover with lid and continue cooking for 5 or so more minutes.

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Add cream and stock, cover again, and simmer for another 15 minutes or so. When liquid has reduced a bit add spinach. Stir once more carefully, cover with lid, switch off heat and move container to side.

Preheat oven to app. 190 C, butter lightly your casserole dish or 2 smaller ones, as I did, and fill them with the cooked mixture.
Top all this with the cheese/breadcrumbs- mixture made earlier.

Put dish or dishes on baking tray and continue baking the gratin in the oven. Keep a watchful eye on this, oven heat various and you do not want a burnt gratin.

That’s it really but do take time to read my notes:

In the distant past I also have used medium sized individual ramekin dishes for lunch- or dinner parties and they were always a great success.

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Mutti sometimes added sliced sausages (anything she had in her kitchen at that moment, i.e. Frankfurter’s, Fleischwurst, Ham etc.)
Don’t skimp on the cream here, using just milk will not do, it will be bland.
Of course you can use as much or little of the 3 main ingredients as you wish.
Glamorous for a photo session this dish might not be, but it is nevertheless a good, satisfying comfort dish!

Guten Appetit!
Carina

Courgette Fritters With Fiery Onion Jam

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In 2013, Jo and I took our two girls for a one month vacation to beautiful Madrid. Ostensibly this was meant to be a little “educational trip” for Bianca to look at fashion (she is now a qualified Fashion Designer) and for Andrea to look at Architecture; she too has since qualified and is working as well.

One of the Studios/Salons Bianca and I visited was to this very beautiful Store of “Adolfo Domínguez“ (for more details look at my blog entry of 23.06.2013 – Fashion for comfort & love!). After our “work” we always made our way to the top floor where, to put it simply, we felt a bit like inside the world of “The Devil Wears Prada”. Sometimes it seemed to us, that every woman there nibbling on a lettuce leaf and/or having their glass of delicious wine, had walked straight out of pages of VOGUE. In retrospect I would have liked to eat (and photograph!) my way through Chef’s small but very delicious looking menu.

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(Pic. Above: Inside the top-floor Cafeteria at “Adolfo Domínguez” – a little heaven amidst the noise and hectic of Madrid.)

But one item from his blackboard I really loved and in the end he very kindly shared the recipe with me.

I have altered it a little bit – in order to suit our own pallet giving it a little bit more ‘kick’ especially re the spices -.

This is lovely for Snacky food served on a bed of beautifully crisp green salad with the Onion Jam as an accompaniment and when made smaller and a bit thicker also as cocktail party food.

So, why not give those little Fritters a try – maybe you too end up liking them as we do in my own little family.

Little Courgette Fritters with fiery onion jam

Recuerdos de Madrid – Memories of Madrid

Right at the beginning a little word of advice, when you make the onion jam, make double or even treble the amount you want for your fritters, this thick chutney like jam is so Moorish, it keeps well in your fridge up to a week – you also might want to have it with your favourite cheese!!!

I used the following:

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Appr. 1 lb courgettes (yellow or green), top and tailed, coarsely grated and kept aside in a bowl
A small chunk of hard cheese (either freshly! grated Parmesan or Cheddar), kept aside

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2 eggs, slightly beaten with a fork
App. 4 Tbsp of Besan (yellow) flour also known as garbanzo bean flour, chickpea flour (or plain)
Salt and pepper (you will need a bit more salt here than usual)
¾ Tbsp of Kashmiri Chilli powder
½ tsp of fennel powder
½ tsp of cumin powder
Small bunch of Spring onions (use the green part only!)
Vegetable Oil for frying
1 very clean cheese clothes
A few sheets of kitchen paper towel

To make the onion jam I used the following:

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4 large onion, thinly sliced
½ Tbsp Oil
3 green chillies
5 small garlic pods
1 Tbsp (maximum) soft brown sugar
½ tsp of dry red chilli flakes
Heat oil in a wide pan, add your onions and the garlic, stir and on low heat and cook this for the next 20 minutes, approx.. or until onions are very soft.

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When done let this cool down quickly and transfer to your Blender with the chillies, sugar and the chilli flakes and “blitz” until everything is very smooth.
Return to the pan and once again on very low flame cook for an additional 10 minutes. Done! And ready to be used with the fritters.

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Tip the grated Courgettes onto the cheesecloth and wring out as much of the liquid, which will have appeared, and move to a large mixing bowl. Now add the eggs, cheese, flour and all the spices and the spring onion greens and mix well. Check seasoning.

Take your pan, add just enough oil to cover the pan and heat on medium flame. When hot add dollops of your fritter mixture with a big spoon carefully into the oil, flatten the fritters slightly and gently fry for 3-4 minutes on either side. A word of warning: do not take your eyes off them for a second – they can turn dark very quickly (see my own disastrous first attempt: delicious but near cinder top and bottom!!)

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Remove and keep on the sheets of kitchen paper to lose some of the oil (do not cover). If you make a large batch, keep them on a baking sheet inside your oven on very low heat to keep warm.

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When you finished making all your fritters, bring them to your table with the beautiful jam in a separate bowl and enjoy!!

Carina

Notes: You can of course also use half/half (yellow/green) courgettes.
The amount of chillies used is suited for our own pallet; tone it down if you want, but……you do want ‘the kick
’!

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

“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