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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
’!

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Potato Curry Kerala style

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This past weekend was supposed to be a very relaxing one – we had plans, like most people, to do this, that and the other, but….. like all well laid out plans things went slightly wrong. No – wait! – what do I say here, have to correct myself by typing “…things went from bad to worse!

I will not bore you with my problems, you might have some of your own and the last thing you want me to whine on and on and on…….

Just one thing I will tell you briefly, so you understand for this very short entry today.

Our small fridge in which we keep most of the items I plan to cook for this Blog (and for us of course) decided to go into sort of hibernation, i.e. stopped working!! Having just been to our fairly new Hypermarket we had stocked up on many things, like meat, fish etc.

But on Saturday night (do these things not always happen either over a weekend or holiday??) this little fridge decided to pack up. No electricity went in to feed it. So everything had to be moved to the big fridge which was already packed. Sunday I cooked as much as possible of the by now thawed items in order to rescue whatever I could.

So today finally all this was sorted out and the fridge is finally working again!

So I leave you for now with our own house-version of Kerala Potato Curry, which we enjoyed for lunch.

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Potato Curry Kerala style

For 2 large portions I used:

6 x medium potatoes, cubed
1 x big onion, cubed
6 x garlic cloves (ours are quite small), chopped
Some fresh ginger, chopped
4 x green chillies, split
A generous pinch of Turmeric powder
2 x tsp of Sambar powder
1 x Tbsp Garam Masala powder
1 x Bay leaf
Salt and black pepper, to your own taste
1-2 x Tbsp of Coconut oil
Some Mustard seeds and some Fennel Seeds
1 x Bayleaf
½ cup of good Vegetable Stock
A couple of dried red chillies
Coconut Milk
Some Curry leaves

Method:

Boil your prepared potatoes until they are just a tiny bit under-done. Drain and keep aside.

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In a deep pan or wok heat 1 Tbsp of oil on medium heat and when slightly hot add the mustard-, fennel-seeds and Bayleaf, stir for a couple of seconds only and then add the onions, ginger, garlic and the green chillis.

Let this simmer for a couple of minutes.

Make sure your heat is on low, because you do not want to burn your Masala.

Add Sambar powder, Garam Masala, salt and pepper and turmeric – keep stirring for a few more minutes. Add Vegetable Stock before it gets too dry.
Now add your boiled and drained potatoes to your Masala and stir gently; check seasoning.

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Keep heat still on low whilst you add ¼ to ½ cup of thick coconut milk and let this simmer for 5 more minutes.
Take off flame. Keep aside.

In a separate little pan heat little bit of oil, mustard seeds, some curry leaves and 2 red chillies and after a few seconds pour over your finished Potato Curry.

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Bring to your table and enjoy.

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

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

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

Sunday Stew with Appam (and a little twist or two)

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Sunday Stew with Appam (and a little twist or two)

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I think that most South Indian people will agree with me, “Stew with Appam” is one of the most beloved breakfast dishes here.
Quick and easy to prepare and of course very light and nutritious.
Ostensibly an Anglo-Indian dish served every Sunday in the past by the Christian families (especially in close by Fort Cochin) for their Sunday breakfast, it has now of course found a place in most homes – including ours. So much so, that hardly a Sunday goes by when we do not serve this stew, either with Appam and/or plain bread.

So now I like to serve to you our very own version of this favourite Sunday breakfast:

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This will serve 4 and the ingredients mentioned are the once I use while preparing this dish. Of course you can add other vegetables, if you like, for example some Cauliflower, beans, and peas. We prefer this stew to be thin, just like broth with some vegetables, but again, you can thicken this dish if you want to.

a) 250 gr beef, cut into small cubes
1 x medium onion, roughly chopped
2 x green chillies, slit
Salt and pepper, as required
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b) 2 x large potatoes, peeled and cut into largish cubes
3 x large carrots, peeled and cut diagonally
1 x Knorr Vegetable stock cube
3 x green chillies, slit
1 inch piece ginger, julienned
Pepper and salt as required to your taste

c) ½ Tbsp Coconut oil
1 x bay leaf
4 x cloves
1 piece of cinnamon bark
3 x green cardamom pods
1 x star anise
Some curry leaves

d) 2 x onions, peeled and sliced
10 x Cashewnuts, soaked for a few minutes and then made into a paste

e) ¾ to 1 cup of thick coconut milk (you can use powder or from a tetra pack)

Whenever possible I suggest you boil the beef with the ingredients mentioned under A) the day before and keep in fridge.
On Sunday morning, quickly boil everything mentioned under B) and keep (with all the liquid of course)
Take your vessel, add oil, heat and then add everything under C), stir for 2 minutes on medium heat and then add your onions under D) and sauté until they become slightly golden (make sure they do not turn brown).
Add the Cashewnut paste, stir for 2 minutes and then follow with the pre-boiled beef (again with liquid).
After a further couple of minutes add your cooked vegetables including their liquid, and simmer for another 3-5 minutes.
Take off the flame; let it rest for a couple of more minutes and then mix in the thick coconut milk mentioned under E) – (if you leave it on the flame it most likely will curdle when you add the milk – so be careful!).
Check your seasoning once more and adjust. Bring to your table and serve with Appam and/or bread and a big sunny smile!!!
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Happy Sunday, dear Readers.
Carina