Our Delicious Food

International Cooking at Home with Karin and Bruce Boschek

Stuffed tomato with egg and bacon – a tomato with a difference

 

 

Something for a quick meal or to serve for breakfast, at a buffet in the evening, at midnight? This is easy, looks good and tastes great.

This is best with larger tomatoes that are not too ripe. Preheat the oven to 200 °C (400 °F). Cut a small cap off the top of the tomato and scoop out the seeds and veins inside with a spoon or small ice cream scoop. You may need to cut the veins with a knife before scooping them out. Place the tomatoes with the cut side up in a pan or baking dish that has been coated with oil. Set aside.

Fry the bacon and place on kitchen paper to drain off the grease. Cut into small pieces. Break open the eggs and let one egg glide gently into each tomato. Place a few pieces of bacon into each tomato, then sprinkle oregano, salt and pepper over the egg. Sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese over the stuffed tomatoes and place the dish or pan in the hot oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until the egg is set to your liking. For breakfast you may like to serve slices of buttered toast with these tomatoes, in the evening some toasted bread with olive oil and garlic would be excellent. A great way to make the toast is to slice the bread in thick slices, drizzle with olive oil and slivered garlic, then place in a hot oven for 5-6 minutes. Whatever you decide to serve as an accompaniment we are pretty sure you will enjoy these stuffed tomatoes. Oh, and there are many other additions and variations you can make. Add a little shrimp to each tomato, or some sauteed onion. some herbs or spices. Or replace the bacon with ham or small cubes of cheese. Or use big beef heart tomatoes, increase the baking time and make a full meal of it. There are almost limitless possibilities to varying this dish and they will all be delicious.

 

 

 

Another tasty quiche – A full meal all by itself

Coconut Curry Quiche with Chicken Breasts

 

 

As I was translating the recipe for the onion and red wine tart we noticed this recipe in the same book (Alfons Schubeck and Annik Wecker “Raffinierte Tartes – süß und pikant”). It is especially interesting as it can be served as a full meal. It takes somewhat more time than some of the tarts and quiches we make, but is certainly worth it.

A note about curry powders. There are considerable difference in the mixtures of spices sold as curry powder. If you find one you really like make sure to have a supply. The final taste of a dish like this quiche will depend upon the curry powder you chose. Some are very intensive and may be spicy hot, so it is good to know what you are using. It is also usually worth spending a bit more money on a good quality mixture.

Recipe – Coconut Curry Quiche with Chicken Breasts

Quiche pan 28 cm (11″)
can also be made in a smaller (9″) pan

For the pastry

1 Tbl sugar
¼ tl salt
½ tl chili finely ground
300 g (10 oz) puff pastry
1 egg white (retain yolk)

For the filling

1 red bell pepper
250 g (8 oz) broccoli
3 scallions or spring onions
2 chicken breasts (about 250 g or 8 oz)
salt and pepper
200 g (6 oz) cream
100 g (3 oz) unsweetened coconut milk
2 eggs (m
1 egg yolk (from egg for white, above)
salt
2 tsp curry powder

Instructions

Coat the pan with melted butter or non-stick spray.
Preheat the oven to 220°C (430 °F). Mix the sugar, salt and chili in a small bowl and use in place of flour to roll out the pastry. Line the pan with the pastry, prick the whole bottom surface and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Cover the inside of the pastry with parchment, fill with baking beans or weights and bake blind for 10 min. Remove paper and weights and bake for 5 – 10 minutes further. Brush on egg white and bake for 1 – 2 minutes longer. Remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 200 °C (400 °F). (Note: You can just use the pastry after refrigeration and without baking blind, however it will not be crisp and may become soggy.)

Blacken the skin of the bell pepper by placing it over the gas flame or under the grill. When blackened thoroughly place in a bowl and cover tightly with cling wrap for 10 minutes or longer. Wipe off burnt skin with paper towel, remove seeds and veins and cut into thin strips. (Do not wash! If small bits of blackened skin remain they will not hurt and will just add a bit of roast flavor).

Break or cut the broccoli into small pieces, removing any tough skin and peeling and slicing the stalk if used. Boil in salted water or steam until al dente, quench with cold water and drain in colander. Slice the scallions or spring onions into rings, rinse, dry and cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces.

Gently mix the chicken breast pieces, bell pepper, broccoli and onion in a bowl, add salt and pepper and spread in the pastry shell.

Lightly beat the eggs and egg yolk, mix in the coconut milk and cream, salt and curry powder. Pour the mixture over the filling in the shell and place on the lowest rack in the preheated (200 °C – 400 °F) oven for 50 – 60 min. Cover lightly with aluminum foil for the last half of the baking time to keep the edge from turning too dark. Allow to cool on a rack for 15 min before removing from the pan.

 

 

 

 

An unusual savory tart for a winter day

Onion and Red Wine Tart with Feta Cheese

 

We had seen this recipe in Alfons Schubeck and Annik Wecker’s book, “Raffinierte Tartes – süß und pikant” a number of times, but never got around to trying it until recently. We didn’t have any open port wine so we substituted sherry, which probably changed the flavour somewhat, but was quite good. Many recipes for this tart call for goat cheese, but we prefer it with feta, made from sheep milk. For the picture we put some raw onions on top of the filling, however this isn’t really necessary and some people may have difficulty digesting raw onion. It’s just a matter of taste. We paired this with a dry German Riesling and enjoyed it on a wintry Friday evening.

Recipe – Onion and Red Wine Tart with Feta Cheese

 

Tart form 24 – 26 cm (9 or 10 inch)

Crust

300g (10 oz) puff pastry

Filling
2 red onions (about 200 g or 6 oz).
1 Tbl powder sugar
50 ml red port wine or sherry
150 ml red wine
1 small bay leaf
10 drops of vanilla extract or ¼ vanilla pod
1 tsp honey
salt, pepper
dash of allspice ground
150 g (5 oz) feta cheese
100 g (4 oz) cream
2 eggs
1/8 tsp chili powder or 1 fresh chili  deseeded, deveined and chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme chopped (or 1/8 tsp dried thyme)
1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

Instructions

Preheat oven to 220 °C (430 °F)

Coat form with melted butter or non-stick spray

Roll out the pastry large enough to cover the tart form including the walls of the form

Using baking beans or ceramic weights bake the shell blind for 10 minutes at 220 °C (430 °F), remove the beans or weights and bake further for 5 – 10 minutes.

Lower the oven temperature to 200 °C (400 °F).

To make the filling peel and halve the onions and slice into strips. Heat the powdered sugar in a deep pan until it begins to melt. Let caramalize to light brown, but do not let burn. Add the onions and sautee in the caramalized sugar for a few minutes. Add the bay leaf and vanilla and then deglaze the pan with the port and the red wine and continue heating to reduce the liquid. Stir in the honey, salt, pepper and allspice and allow to cool. When cool remove the bay leaf (and vanilla pod if using) and spread the onions in the tarte shell.

Break up the feta cheese into a blender or into a deep cup, if using an immersion blender. Add the cream and eggs and blend until creamy. Mix in salt, pepper, chili, thyme and nutmeg to taste. Spread the cheese mixture over the onions.

Place the tarte on the lowest rack in the preheated oven and bake for 20 – 25 min or until golden brown. Allow to cool 10 minutes before removing from the form and serving.

 

 

 

A Seafood Waffle

Karin recently brought home a new cooking magazine and while browsing the pages I ran across this unusual recipe. Putting noodles and shrimp in a waffle iron sounded so strange I just had to try it, especially since is simple and we had all of the ingredients.

Asian Mie Noodle and Shrimp Omelette Waffle

Ingredients for 4 portions

150 g (5 oz) shrimp, shelled and deveined
200 g (7 oz) mie noodles
small bunch of chives
1 fresh red chili pepper
4  eggs (m)
Salt
oil for the waffle iron
2 Tbl mayonnaise
green salad leaves, cucumber sticks, green coriander (cilantro)
Sriracha sauce to serve

Instructions

Wash shrimp or thaw and rinse if frozen. Place the noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave in the water for 5 minutes so the noodles are just al dente. Pour noodles into a colander and rinse with cold water. Cut into shorter pieces with a scissors. Chop the chives into little rolls, slit the chili open and remove the veins and seeds. Wash and cut into fine strip.

Beat the eggs in a bowl and add the noodles, shrimp, chives and 1 tsp salt. Mix well. Heat the waffle iron and coat the surfaces with oil. Put enough noodle-omelette mix in the waffle iron to not quite fill the indentations. Add a bit of the egg mixture  in the bottom of the bowl to each waffle. Bake for about 4 minutes until golden brown. Place the finished waffles in a warm oven (80 °C – 175 °F) while baking the rest.

Mix the mayonnaise with 1-2 Tbl water and stir until smooth. Drizzle a stream of the mayonnaise mix over the waffles and add Sriracha according to taste. Serve with fresh green salad leaves, cucumber and coriander.

A Spanish recipe with Russian Influence

 

 

I spent a few enjoyable weeks in Spain in the late 1990s. Much of the food was memorable, but none of the dishes influenced me more than this one, served in a small, but excellent restaurant in Madrid. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that upon return to home I immediately tried to emulate it, with some success. It is very simple, but delicious and attractive. We have probably made it 100 times over the last 20 years. Only recently did I learn that it is, in fact, at standard recipe in Spain, however I have no idea how that came to be. In any case it is called Spaghetti Rasputin, named after Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin, the mystical adviser and healer friend of Czar Nicholas II. The connection with this “mad monk” would appear to be the dollop of caviar that adorns the dish, and possibly the sharpness of fresh chilies. Be that as it may, it is wonderful and quickly prepared, needing only a fresh, green salad to make a delici0us and memorable meal.

A note about smoked salmon and caviar: There are enormous differences in quality and a high price may not guarantee the best. Ideally, one would chose wild-caught salmon, but just because it says it is that on the package it may not be true and it may not say anything about taste. It is best to trust your eyes and nose. If buying prepackaged fish in a supermarket, which is not the first choice, but may be necessary, it will be best to buy a package and then open it after paying. If it smells fishy or “off” you can return it without having to drive back to the store. You know then to look elsewhere. Smoked salmon should smell of the sea with a slight smokiness. It should also be deep pink and not light pink or grayish. At most there should be only very few white fatty streaks, which are a sign of poorly farmed fish. If you have a good fish monger he or she will let you smell it before buying. If you find a good source make note of it and you will know what you are getting the next time you buy.
Now about caviar: We have never made this recipe with true caviar such as Beluga or Sevruga (from sturgeon). We generally have trout or salmon roe in the refrigerator and use that. True caviar is such a delicacy that it would be a shame to serve it together with other flavorful ingredients such as those in this dish. When I had it in Spain they served it with the black roe of lumpfish, which is fine, too. The dish can be served without any “caviar,” too.

 

This is one of those amazingly simple recipes that just work.

For 4 servings

2 small shallots peeled and finely chopped
6 oz (200 g) smoked salmon sliced
2 small tub of caviar (trout, salmon or lumpfish roe are all fine)2 small chilies (or according to taste)
6 oz (200 ml) of sweet cream
2 tsp cornstarch
2 Tbl butter
salt
freshly ground pepper

Cook the spaghetti ‘al dente’.
In a medium pan sautee the shallots in the butter until soft. Mix the cream and cornstarch and add to the pan and cook to thicken.
Reduce the heat and carefully place the slices of salmon in the pan. When the fish is warm correct the seasoning with salt and pepper and serve over the pasta and garnish with a few small dallops of caviar. Serve with a fresh green salad.

 

 

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts

There seems to be a general idea that Brussels sprouts need to be boiled or steamed before they are eaten or further prepared. In fact there are a number of different ways to prepare this universal vegetable. There are some wonderful recipes for baking them and they can even be pureed. This last week we had some nice sprouts and we remembered another way to prepare them, sautéing them with speck, thyme and onions.

We began as usual by washing, peeling off the outer leaves and cutting off the base of the sprouts, then cut them lengthwise in half.

 

Ingredients  for 6 servings
2½ pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed
4 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces (alternative: 150 g speck or pancetta)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 sprigs thyme or savory (or 1/8 tsp dried)
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 teaspoons lemon juice (optional)

Instructions

In a large frying pan (we like cast iron) heat the oil over medium heat. Add the Brussels sprouts, onions, salt and herbs and sauté for about 15 minutes or until the sprouts begin to soften. Stir regularly and reduce the heat if the vegetables begin to burn.

 

Add the bacon and continue sautéing until the sprouts are soft (another 5 to 10 minutes). Sprinkle the lemon juice (if using) over the sprouts, stir and correct the seasoning with salt and pepper.

These were so tasty we had them as a main course, however they would also serve well as a side to any meat dish.

 

 

Classic German Baking and Classic Italian Baking

 

 

This hazelnut and chocolate cake is a classic in Germany, called “Nusskuchen” and in Italy where it is known as “Torta Gianduja.” The recipes are identical, combining the perfectly matched flavors of hazelnuts and dark chocolate. We have followed the original recipe for the cake, but have added some chunks of baking chocolate to the dough and chopped walnuts on top of the chocolate frosting. The recipe is simple and the cake keeps well if packed in aluminum foil after cooling. It seems to get better from day to day. One can also flavor it with rum or rum aroma.

 

Hazelnut Cake or Torta Gianduja

 

Standard 1 lb. loaf pan 8.5″ x 4.5″ buttered and floured

Ingredients

For the batter:
4 oz. (100 g) ground hazelnuts
4 oz (100 g) chopped and roasted hazelnuts
2 oz (60 g) baking chocolate chunks
1 cup (225 g) soft butter
1 cup (200 g) white sugar1 tl vanilla extract (or beans from one pod)
1/4 tl salt
3 L eggs
1-1/2 cup flour
2 tl baking powder

For the frosting:
4 oz (120 g) 70% dark chocolate
2 oz (60 g) milk chocolate
1 TBl butter
A handful of chopped walnuts for the topping

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 360 °F (180 °C)

1) Cream the butter with a hand mixer. Slowly add the sugar, salt and vanilla and continue creaming until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time and beat at highest speed for 30 sec. each.
2) Combine the flour and baking powder with the ground and chopped hazelnuts and add to the butter mixture in two portions, mixing at medium speed.3) Transfer the batter to the prepared form and place in preheated oven. Bake for 60 min, covering with foil if top begins to burn.
4) Place on a wire rack and allow to cool in the form for 10 min, tip the cake out of the form and allow to cool completely on the rack.
5) When the cake has cooled prepare the frosting by breaking up the chocolate and melting with the butter in a water bath (bain marie). Do not hear the chocolate over direct heat or it will curdle.  Pour the frosting over the cake and using a knife or spatula spread it evenly as it cools. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts on top and allow to cool.

 

 

We have been enjoying this cake with tea or a latte macchiato for breakfast and in the afternoon on these cold winter days.

 

 

Time for a Seafood Curry

The fact is, we live about as far from the ocean as is possible and still be in Europe. We do have some very good fish merchants here and they do their best to provide us with what is as fresh as possible from the sea, but when it comes to shellfish and other seafood we generally have to resort to frozen products. Some of these are very good, however, and they have the advantage that we can keep them on hand in the freezer.

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This time we had some lovely diver caught scallops and large shrimp tails so we made a wonderful curry. I don’t remember where the idea came from, but we added a bit of this and a bit of that and it turned out wonderfully. Here’s how we made it:

Mix 1/2 cup plain yogurt with 2 tsp cornstarch, 1/2 tsp salt one finely chopped garlic clove. Put  8 scallops and 6 large shrimp tails in a bowl with a Tblsp curry powder and 1/2 tsp salt and mix well. Heat 2 Tblsp olive oil in a skillet, add the scallops and shrimp and cook for 4 or 5 min, turning to brown on all sides. Transfer to a plate. Add a Tblsp of oil to the pan, turn the heat down and stir in 1/2 lb halved cherry tomatoes and 6 chopped scallions. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Return the scallops and shrimp to the skillet, add the yogurt mixture and heat through to cook and thicken. Serve with finely chopped green coriander (cilantro) over basmati rice.

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What a delicious treat. A nice, cold chardonnay goes very well with it and a light fruit sherbet would make an appropriate dessert.

 

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ANOTHER DELICIOUS PEAR PIE RECIPE

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The autumn weather is upon us here in central Europe and with the the season for sniffles and sore throats. It has been a long time since I had a real cold, but I have one now. No fear, however, you won’t catch it by reading my words here.

A few weeks ago we had some more beautiful pears and I remembered a recipe that was given to me some time ago. I was curious about it because it is exceptionally simple and quick, but I had been assured that the results were worth making it, so I set to peeling and cutting the pears in half, removing the core and preparing a pie plate with a crust made from pie dough I had in the refrigerator.

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It only takes a lower crust, the pear halves get spread on the bottom and a custard is poured over the pears before baking. Voilá! The results are wonderful. For instructions see the recipe archive.

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HOW WE PREPARE PESTO ALLA GENOVESE

We made another big batch of pesto recently and Karin took many pictures of the process. It is not difficult, but it may be useful to show the steps. As I noted in the recipe archive we use mortar and pestle because we prefer the smoother texture than is possible with a food processor. It’s also a lot of fun to beat the nonsense out of a bunch of basil leaves and pine nuts and finally, the name, pesto, derives from the pounding action of the pestle.

We are going to make pesto alla Genovese here, which means using a good bunch of basil, some pine nuts and two hard Italian cheeses. There are many other varieties and you can use your imagination, for instance replacing the basil completely or in part with flat-leaf parsley, or using rocket (rucola, salad rocket, arugula, rauke) or spinach, and walnuts, almonds or pecans). You can also try other varieties of cheese, however only very firm, dry cheeses can be recommended. We have made some very nice pesto using nut oils, too.

To begin with it’s always a good idea to have all the equipment and ingredients right in front of you.

 

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We need two big bunches of basil, garlic, olive oil, coarse sea salt, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, Pecorino romano cheese. For the amounts you can look at the recipe in our archive, but the amounts do not have to be exact.

We also need a mortar and pestle, cooks knife and perhaps a spoon for tasting. If you decide to buy a mortar and pestle go for a larger diameter mortar. You will be thankful because it will be much easier to keep all of the ingredients inside and not on the counter top. We prefer stone or basalt as they are nearly indestructible, do not pick up flavours or odours and are quite inexpensive. Marble is lovely, but usually quite expensive and ceramic is easily broken. Wood is not recommended because it is so absorbent that it picks up flavours and gives them up again the next time used. Garlic flavoured chocolate is not everyone’s cup of tea.

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Chopping the basil coarsely makes the smashing process in the mortar considerably easier. The same applies to slicing the garlic.

Using a mortar and pestle takes some practice. The action is one of pounding and grinding. Not adding too much material at one time makes it somewhat less daunting a task and keeps it from flying out when bashing furiously. Speaking of which, the bashing is a great way to relieve inner tension and can be quite therapeutic. It’s also a way of connecting with the historical basis of cooking because the mortar and pestle have been used for food preparation for as long as 35,000 years.

Antonio Carluccio recommends beginning by smashing the garlic to a paste and then adding the basil and finally the cheese and pine nuts. I often do that, or I start with the basil as in these pictures. In any case you keep adding basil and garlic, then you can dribble some good olive oil in and begin a stirring action with the pestle. I like to use a peppery olive oil, but that is fully a matter of taste. When you have created an oily paste you can begin adding the cheese. Traditionally, a mixture of Parmesan and pecorino (from sheep milk) is used and you can’t go wrong if you stick with that. You can also just use Parmesan or try another hard cheese such as grana or even a year-old Gouda. This would not be wrong as Dutch cheeses were highly prized in Italy in the 18th and 19th centuries and were apparently often used in pesto. In any case an old Gouda adds spice to the pesto! You can keep adding cheese and oil until you have a smooth mixture and then begin adding the pine nuts. I don’t smash the pine nuts to a paste, but leave them as small chunks. Again, this is a matter of personal taste. The controversy of whether to roast the pine nuts or not is certainly also a matter of taste. I have stopped roasting them because I like the creamy consistency the unroasted pine nuts have when mashed, but the roasted add another dimension through the roast aroma. Try both and see which you like best, or do as we do and toss some roasted pine nuts onto the finished pasta. Add plenty of oil and put the pasta on to cook because your pesto is now ready to be enjoyed at the table!

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We hope you enjoyed this somewhat detailed discussion of this wonderful Italian specialty. Next week we will have some new recipes to share and hope you will join us then.

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