Tag Archive | vegetables

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

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

A FISHY TALE . . . . .

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So that’s it – ONAM (and all the other combined Festivals which come up every year around this time) is now over and everything in our beautiful State of Kerala, where the people are blessed with an abundance of Coconuts, Spices and most of all with the Treasures of the Sea, has returned to the usual normality.

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This year we did not make our own Sadhya of 18 delectable dishes – instead we went out visiting!!!

But when JS went out to our little local market ‘around the corner’ to visit his ‘friendly fish man’ – you know the kind who quietly lets you know of some special kind of fish coming in, when the price of prawns will go up or down! Who takes trouble in cleaning your order etc. etc. – in order to maybe get some extra treats for the long ONAM week, he not only succeeded in getting some lovely looking Karimeen (Pearl spot)

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which he and the girls love fried with just the right amount of his ‘secret’ masala massaged into the fish, but he returned home with also a special surprise for me!! A whole THIRUTHA (Grey Mullet).

This is a fish extremely popular especially with the visiting Tourists, who love to order this fish whole so it can be shared amongst two to three people.
Thirutha is available normally in abundance, but because of its very delicate taste any catch gets snapped up by Hotels, Restaurants and even certain vendors, especially in places like Fort Cochin, where domestic and foreign tourists can choose their own fish, have it grilled right there and then and enjoyed ‘al fresco’ mainly along the seafront by the famous “Chinese Nets”.

But now I have to confess something here to you – when it comes to fish I am just a little bit squeamish. I am certainly not a female Rick Stein, the seafood master himself, and so looking at and handling a large fish, head, eyes, etc, does not come easy for me. But surely . . . one is never too old to learn, right!?

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And so, with JS’ help and under his guidance, I set about in tackling this nice, fresh, slippery ‘friend’. This being my first attempt of cooking Thirutha I decided to keep it simple and just steam the fish in foil with some vegetables (after all – it’s healthy, too) – and here now is the result!

It turned out to be a really delishes meal and now I want to think up a different recipe using the same kind of fish– there is of course always a curry!!

This fish may look big for you – but in the end it was just enough for the two of us. Unfortunately I did not weigh him, just as a matter of interest.

And here is what I did:
1 x whole Thirutha, scaled and gutted by “Friendly Fish Man”
At home washed and dried thoroughly.

I made 5 incisions into the back of the Thirutha and then rubbed a mixture of salt, pepper and 1 tsp of dried Dill all over the fish (including the inside).
Sprinkle fresh lemon juice over the whole fish incl. the inside.

Prepare vegetables: I used carrots, leeks, onion slices and parsley
I blanched the three vegetables in photo for just 2 minutes, not more!! Drain well.

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Preheat oven to 180/200 C
Put fish onto a double layer of foil, drizzle a tiny amount of olive oil around fish, add blanched vegetables incl. a couple of half cooked potatoes.

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Now make the foil into a parcel and leave in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes – check!!! Ovens vary in temperature.

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When done open foil carefully, averting your face – steam is really hot! Taste and when cooked (fish should not be dry) keep fish parcel open on top of oven in order to cool down slightly.

Carefully take the fish off the bone from one side first and put on a plate with the vegetables and just a few plain boiled potatoes.

As an edition I served separately some dill-lemon-butter-sauce.

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There is a saying in German, my mother tongue, which goes:

……Uebung macht den Meister”. (Meaning: Practice maketh the Master) – so now I will try and make fish more often!

But for now, THAT’S IT!

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Guten Appetit!
Carina

VEGETABLE ROULADE

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This is a beautiful Vegetarian dish – delicious and stunning to look at when gracing a buffet table or served as (maybe) first course at a dinner party and perfect as a main course for a light summer lunch! I know in many parts of the world at this time, ‘Summer’ is slowly saying good bye for now, but…….

Despite what many people may think, the “job” of being the wife of an Ambassador (or that of a very Senior Diplomat) abroad does not mean GLAMOUR 24/7 with an unlimited Official Budget to spend on Entertainment. Far from it – first of all those budgets are as tight as they come and if you could listen to the talks away from strangers, you would quickly find out, that this applies to more or less all diplomatic representatives. Here is where the “job” of a wife comes into full force – she will have to be able to come up with a wonderful menu plan suited for each of their many many dinners and luncheons – and since frequently the same people will/have to attend any of those functions, the menu of course cannot be a repetitious one.

And so, since I always enjoyed having people around, serving them nice food, good wine, trying to make them relax, laugh and be happy, this part of my then ‘job’ was not too difficult to deal with. I was also fortunate to have during all those years met a great number of kind and wonderful people who helped me to learn and gain the necessary experience which was needed for me to become a good representative of my own country – a very good Hostess.

But what do you do when you are in a country where most of the (food-) items you need are not available and your Government will or cannot fly them in (i.e. West Africa)– you simply improvise!!! And you would be surprised to find out, how very much the simple but delicious “home cooking” for example, is appreciated by most of those guests who often get ‘wined and dined’ on Beluga Caviar and Vintage Champagne.

Yes, of course, I too like Caviar and Champagne, but not every day, lol – lol!!! Give me a delicious sandwich and a cup of home-made vegetable soup or just a bowl of ‘Spaghetti e limone’ any time.

So, enough of this for the time being. I just like to bring you a few recipes of dishes which over the years have appeared on one of my buffet tables and for which I had a ‘repeat order’ by the same guests, who tasted it for the first time in my house.

Today’s Roulade has always been and still is, one of my great easy Buffet Stars. Occasionally I made 3 separate sheets of Spinach but for the actually filling I used 1 x red, 1 x yellow and 1 x green capsicum and laid the finished slices out in alternate fashion – looks very attractive.

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Ingredients:
This once again is for 2 people plus some left-overs.
At least ½ kg spinach (or green jeera – 4 x bunches) – picked, well washed, kept aside and left to drain.
1 x large red capsicum ( sweet pepper), all seeds taken out, slightly cooked for a few minutes, drained, kept aside.
Some grated nutmeg
A good dollop of unsalted butter
4 x Tbsp of grated Parmesan cheese (or sharp Cheddar)
4 Tbsp of double cream
Salt, pepper and some sprinkling of paprika
Garlic bread seasoning
2 eggs – separated and kept aside –
250 g of cream cheese or better Quark (I used my own home-made Quark – for recipe look at Quark-Glorious Quark of 16.08.2016 – mixed with garlic bread seasoning, salt, pepper and paprika)

Method:
Heat oven to 200 C
Cut grease proof paper to size of your Swiss roll tin (or any other).
Cook Spinach just for a few minutes.
Take off flame and let cool slightly.
Take clean Tea-towel, put spinach in middle and now ‘wring’ as much water out as possible – and then chop spinach finely.
Now mix this with nutmeg, softened butter, parmesan cheese, cream and some seasoning. Beat in the egg yolks.

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Separately whisk egg whites into soft peaks and gently fold into your spinach mixture. Spread this onto the prepared tin, smooth out and bake in pre-heated oven for 15 minutes or so until firm (but not hard!)

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When done, turn spinach upside down on another clean tea towel and let it cool, without removing tin, for maybe 30 minutes.
In the meantime ‘blitz’ capsicum lightly (do not make it into purée).

Mix with cream cheese or better, Quark!! – season well.

When spinach is cool, peel off paper. I find this is the only tricky part – so do it very slowly.

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Spread this with the earlier prepared capsicum and Quark mixture.

Now carefully, using the towel to lift baked spinach etc. up, turn this into a fairly tight roll.
Let it rest for 20 minutes or so, cut (best with a serrated knife) into thick slices and serve.

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That’s it – enjoy!
Namaskaram, Carina

PS. This keeps well inside your fridge, and is also delicious used just as a spread on toast, crackers, stuffed inside Hoops (Arabic bread) etc.

‘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

CALYPSO AUBERGINE MEDLEY

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or….. FIRE IN MY WOK !

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Yes, it is really me. After a spell in Hospital and subsequent recuperation at home under the very competent and (sometimes strict) care of my beloved “Head nurse Jo”, I am at last again able to do my bit in the kitchen and ‘talk with you’ via the computer.

For starters let me explain something here – I do love meat of nearly any kind, but I find that as I get older I end up eating less meat and also I am pretty certain that I will never become a true vegetarian, I started to enjoy quite often meals without any meat.

So therefore today I post a “no meat” dish which again I picked up during my time on the island of Trinidad. I love this one in particular because it gives me the right spice kick whenever I need it without making a proper curry. Also it takes me only 10 to 15 minutes to bring this to the table.

It’s wonderful just on its own (as in my picture) served with plain boiled Basmati rice or serve it as a side dish to most chicken- and/or burger dishes.

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Regarding the heat, that of course is entirely up to you and the tolerance of your palate.

Don’t worry regarding any exact measurements, just take what I did for this post as a guide line and go for it and…..if you like ‘heat’ you will like this.

What you see in my photographs here today is for 2 people as a light meal or for 1 very greedy and hungry person.

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AUB-41 x large aubergine, washed, topped and tailed and cut into bite sized cubes
1 x large onion, finely sliced
2-3 x small red hot chillies, very finely sliced
A small piece of fresh ginger, finely sliced
3-4 x cloves of garlic, very finely sliced (our garlic here is not very strong, so try out yours)
1 x Tbsp soft brown sugar
½ to 1 Tbsp of Chilli Sauce (I used one of my decade old favourite: “Lingham’s Chilli Sauce”)

1x Tbsp and a bit of red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 x Tbsp dark soy sauce
1 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
Some vegetable stock, I used a Knorr Stock cube.

1. Wash your rice (1/2 cup dry makes 1 full cup cooked) until water runs clear. Soak rice for 15 minutes, then cook until ready (it takes me just another 15 minutes or so).
2. Keep prepared aubergines in a colander, sprinkle with salt, mix, cover and let sit for 15 minutes to extract water.

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3. Heat oil in wok, add onion, ginger, garlic, chilli and stir-fry for a few seconds and then add the aubergines (make sure to dry them first in a clean dish clothes), stir and cook on medium heat for around 2 minutes more.

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4. Add all your sauces, sugar, vinegar, stock, salt and pepper, stir gently, cover and simmer for maybe another 10 minutes. Check. Don’t let aubergines get too soft and mushy.

That’s it, just check your spices and serve on a bed of fluffy basmati rice.

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Enjoy this Medley my friends. We are off to the Dining room now to have our own supper of this dish.

Have a good and peaceful week-end.

Carina

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