Our Delicious Food

International Cooking at Home with Karin and Bruce Boschek

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Autumn Baking Adventures

 

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The first days of autumn

We had wonderful guests from Essex, UK and did some traveling and sight seeing with them. The weather was beautiful and unseasonably warm for September with temperatures in the 30s °C so we headed off to Weimar where we visited Goethe’s home and museum.

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The next day we drove in to Alsfeld and walked around the beautiful, old historical part of the medieval town. It was still quite warm  and we treated ourselves to some ice cream creations at the Italian ice cream parlor in the middle of the town square.

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Having guests gave us a good opportunity to do some cooking, too. It was fun and as usual our guests spent much time watching and/or helping in the kitchen. Karin fixed a pork tenderloin in Gorgonzola cream sauce with wide noodles and, of course, we did plenty of baking including these gorgeous blueberry muffins with streusel topping.

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Blueberry Muffins with Streusel Topping and Lemon Glaze

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1/3 cup milk

1 cup fresh blueberries plus some for decoration

1/2 cup white sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup butter, cubed

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 °F (200 °C). Grease muffin tins or line with paper liners.

Muffin dough: Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in  one cup of blueberries. Fill muffin cups to the top, and sprinkle with streusel topping mixture.

Streusel topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in preheated oven, or until done (cake tester comes out dry). Let cool on rack. Mix lemon juice with confectioners’ sugar to make a thick paste. Drizzle over muffins, decorate with one or more fresh blueberries and allow to set.

 

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Pear Pie

A few days after our guests left we were shopping and discovered some beautiful, ripe Bosc pears. These are firm and especially suited to baking so we decided to make a pear pie.

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I used my mom’s pie crust recipe, replacing the vegetable shortening (Crisco) with butter. I will add the recipe and some thoughts on making pie crusts to the recipe section soon. Here is the recipe for the rest of the pie:

A double pie dough recipe, enough for a 9″ pie plate top and bottom crusts. Divide the dough into two equal parts, form a disk of each, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Pear filling

1/2 cup (115 g) sugar

1/4 cup (35 g) all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

8 firm Bosc, Bartlett or Anjou pears—peeled, cored and sliced 1/2 inch thick

1 tablespoon butter

Glaze

1 tablespoon milk

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon butter, melted

 

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 450 °F (230 °C). In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cinnamon and cloves. Add the pears and toss to coat.

Roll out one of the dough disks for a bottom crust and line the plate. Coat the bottom crust with egg white or melted butter to keep it from becoming soggy.

Transfer the pear filling to the pie pan and arrange the slices so there are no spaces. Dot the pears with the butter.

Roll out the second disk of dough to an 11-inch round and cut into strips with a knife or zig-zag wheel. Weave the strips over the top of the pie to make a lattice and seal the edges with decorative punched-out buttons of rolled-out dough. Alternatively, you can just roll out a simple crust and cover the pie with that, crimping the edges together with the lower crust. Don’t forget to cut slits in the crust to allow steam to escape.

Mix the milk, sugar and butter and brush this glaze over the pie. Bake in the hot oven for 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 °F (175 °C) and continue to bake for about 50 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling begins to bubble through the lattice or vent slits. Let the pie cool on a rack, about 3 hours. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

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We enjoyed half of the pie and gave the other half to our friends. It was very good with vanilla ice cream or with whipped cream.

Now that autumn has arrived, the temperatures are sinking and all of the wonderful fruits of the autumn harvest will be available there will be ample opportunity to do some comfort food cooking. We’ll be sharing some of our standard recipes and trying out some new ones. It’s going to be an exciting time! Thanks for joining us.

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Fruits and Berry Time

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I had no real plan for how often I would make an addition here, but I will try to get something in every week. It’s a bit of a challenge since we are still renovating/rescuing/rebuilding/restoring or 20+ room, 4-story, 115 year old home, but there is always something to report on. This last weekend we had guests and we made a peach pie. We bought 10 very nice, ripe peaches and I used my mother’s pie-dough recipe that I have been using for the last years. I don’t make enough pies to have the practice that makes bringing the dry and wet ingredients together the simple process it should be. A friend of mine suggested using the pastry cutter, not only to mix the flour and shortening, but to use it to bring the liquid into the mixture. It worked like a charm and I will do that in the future.

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Once again I made up the recipe as I went along, using bits and pieces from here and there and I was generally very happy with the results. I did take notes so I can share the recipe here and in our recipe archive. One thing I might change, however, is not to use flour with the peaches, but rather use cornstarch. The flour made a rather dense “sauce” and I would have liked it to be a bit lighter. Nonetheless, the results were most satisfying and our guests enjoyed it with vanilla ice cream and a cappuccino.

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Here is the recipe I finally used:

Peach Pie

Ingredients

Pastry for a 10 inch double crust pie

1 egg, beaten

8-10 sliced peeled peaches

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (220 degrees C).

Line the bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie plate with one of the pie crusts. Brush with some of the beaten egg to keep the bottom crust from becoming soggy.

Place the sliced peaches in a large bowl, and sprinkle with lemon juice. Mix gently. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour over the peaches, and mix gently. Pour into the pie crust, and dot with butter. If you wish to make a lattice crust as we did you can roll out and cut pastry with a zig-zag wheel or straight with a knife and lay out the lattice as usual. You can also just make a closed upper crust, but don’t forget to make slits in it to vent the steam. Brush the remaining egg over the top crust. Cut several slits in the top crust to vent the steam.

Bake for 10 minutes in the hot oven, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and bake for an additional 40 – 45 minutes, until the crust is brown and the juice begins to bubble through the lattice or the vents. If the edges brown to fast, cover them with a skirt of aluminum foil. Cool before serving. The pie tastes better warm than hot.

 

A Berry Nice Day

 

We saw some beautiful blueberries on sale and rather than making jam, we decided to make a cake. Looking around the Internet we found a recipe from “IRENED” on Allrecipes that sounded good. I’ll copy the recipe in the archive (see “Recipes” in the menu above). It turned out very well and I wouldn’t really change anything from the original recipe.

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We enjoyed it with a cappuccino made from our own freshly roasted coffee, a blend of Colombian, Ethiopian, Sumatran and Honduran beans.

Summer finally arrived in Germany

We didn’t have much of a summer here in central Germany this year. June, July and the beginning of August were cool and rainy. Now in the last week of August it suddenly turned very warm with temperatures into the mid 30s °C. The warm weather is enjoyable, but the humidity also goes up and we find ourselves becoming rather lethargic. Nonetheless, we have been cooking and baking and having fun in the kitchen. Karin made her favourite couscous with vegetables on Saturday. Recipe in the Archive.

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It’s “Zwetchgen” season in Germany. The beautiful, blue damson plums lend themselves perfectly to baking so I made a plum pie. I made up the recipe as I went and put a streusel topping on it and mixed some ground walnuts into the streusel. It was delicious with vanilla ice cream and an iced coffee, or Affogado on a hot Sunday afternoon.

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We made jam out of the rest of the damson plums and it turned out beautifully. We do not use gelling or jam sugar or add pectin, but cook until the thermometer reads 215 °F (108 °C) or “thread stage.” The flavour is far superiour in our experience, to jams made with additional pectin.

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As autumn approaches we will have many new cooking adventures with winter squash, them many winter Brassicas and of course, Thanksgiving dinner.

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Another week begins

Busy days. We have been working on our home again, washing and touching up the paint on our 47 windows, organizing tools and moving furniture around to begin the last work on the third floor. Karin has plastered the last wall in our store room on the fourth floor, too. It just needs painting and then we can move things in there that are in the way. In addition the grass has been growing so fast that I have had to mow every few days. To make things better one of our mowers broke down (a minor repair, but we had to order the parts) and on and on.

This is not to say that we have not been cooking! Karin made some marvelous cinnamon rolls on Saturday.

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They were wonderfully light and fluffy. We gave half of them to our friends and they enjoyed them with their afternoon coffee, just as we did.

For Sunday morning breakfast I made an omelette with bacon, onion, red, green and yellow bell pepper and chili. When it had set I sprinkled grated Bergkäse and Parmesan cheese on top and ran it under the grill for a couple of minutes. We had French bread and a fine Asam tea with it.

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We have limited our gardening to a small plot at the compost pile and some Swiss chard near the terrace, but as usual the curcubits are out of control. We have lovely patty pan squash, hokkaido pumpkins and zucchini. Oh yes, we have zucchini. I was delighted to find a recipe from Emeril Lagasse for a curried zucchini soup and it is a keeper for sure. You can find the recipe in our recipe section (from the menu above). I made some little North African spiced meatballs to put in it, but it would be fine as a vegetarian recipe all by itself.

 

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We had some leftover zucchini soup and meatballs this evening and I believe it tasted even better after being refrigerated for 24 hours.

Hope this finds everyone well and enjoying the late summer.