Our Delicious Food

International Cooking at Home with Karin and Bruce Boschek

Cool evenings call for comfort food!

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We have been enjoying marvelous weather with blue, cloudless skies and temperatures in the low 20s °C. In the evening, however, temperatures drop and we have had some 10 °C nights. This calls for warm dinners and we have plenty of good recipes, both tried-and-true and some new ones to try out.

One of our all-time favorites is a spicy pumpkin soup with ginger, chilies and cumin. We usually use a Hokaido pumpkin, which is especially suitable because you don’t need to remove the skin. There is, however, no reason not to make this with a butternut squash, giant pumpkin, musquee de Provence or other winter squashes. This is a very quick and simple recipe.

 

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

 

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Ingredients:

1 Hokaido (small Japanese) pumpkin, seeds removed, cut into 1″ cubes with shell

1 onion, diced

2 thumb-sized pieces of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

1 small fresh red hot chilli pepper finely grated or chopped

cumin, salt and pepper

2 Tblsp. sweet cream

 

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Sautee onion, add pumpkin cubes and about 2 cups water

Add ginger, chilli, salt and cumin (about 1/2 tsp each or according to taste)

put on low boil for about 20 minutes, then puree, add about 3 Tblsp. cream, adjust seasoning and serve with chopped cilantro (coriander greens).

 

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We sometimes make up very simple little Moroccan spiced meatballs to put in the soup. To one pound of ground beef we add 1 – 2 tablespoons of ras-el-hanout or baharat (northern African spice mixtures), garlic, salt, pepper and dried chilies and fry in olive oil just until done through (about 10 minutes). Fresh baguette or sourdough bread make a perfect accompaniment.

 

A Tasty Broccoli Quiche

 

We especially like this recipe because it spices up the broccoli with pancetta and mozzarella. The recipe is simple and quick and is definitely worth making.

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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.

Still more Apricots

We had about a pounds of apricots left so I made this lovely apricot tart.

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It was very tasty with a dollop of vanilla ice cream and a cappuccino in the afternoon.

Apricot Days

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Good morning. It looks like there is going to be a bit of a learning curve with this blogging software, but that is alright. Thankfully, I have some experience with HTML so it should not be too bad.

The end of July our wine maker brought us a 10 pound basket of beautiful apricots. Many of them were almost as large as peaches. Apricots are one of the few fruits that taste best when cooked, so we set to work making an apricot pie with lattice crust:

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Apricots have two close friends, cinnamon and almonds. I used a heaping teaspoon of cinnamon in the pie and it was delicious with vanilla ice cream.

Karin immediately began pitting one kilo of apricots to make jam. She used about 60 ml water and 600 g white sugar and cooked to 225 °F (107 °C) and it turned out beautifully. It made 5 jars and we have already finished one of them.

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A friend on Facebook, Chef David Tushingham, who also collects and restores Triumph sports cars from the 1950s and 1960s, put a little bird in my ear that said “Marillenknödel.” These wonderful apricot dumplings from Austria and Bavaria are made by wrapping a dough, made with Topfen (quark – fresh cheese), around a whole apricot, simmering them in lightly salted water and then coating them with sweetened bread crumbs. When served still warm they are a dream!

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After we used up all 5 kg of apricots we bought another kilo and I plan to make an Aprikosenkuchen this afternoon. I will used puff pastry and roasted almond flakes and may add a shot of Amaretto to bring out the almond note. We’ll report on it tomorrow.

For now we’ll say, Guten Appetit!

International Cooking in Our Kitchen in Germany

We have been cooking international cuisine together for more than 30 years and recently decided that it would be good to have a place to share our many recipes and cooking experiences. It may well be that the world does not need another food blog, but that won’t stop us now. So please feel free to join us as we wind our way through the world of fine cuisine.

In this time of fast food and fast living we lose the valuation and appreciation of fine dining. ´This applies to daily meals, not just to entertaining guests. It is, however, not necessary to spend hours or days in the kitchen preparing a meal, nor is it necessary to spend large amounts of money. Instead, we can try to refine the preparation and presentation of the food we serve. How can we improve our dining experience without increasing daily stress or bursting the budget? The answer is two-fold: Simplify complex recipes and embellish simple ones.

If you look at the pasta dish below you may be surprised to learn that it took less than 20 minutes to prepare. A slice of pancetta or bacon, a pound of mushrooms, some garlic and white wine, a little cream, prepared while the pasta is cooking, and you have a delicious meal that looks beautiful on the plate. With a small amount of fantasy you can  turn an every day dish into something special. We will bring you recipes for tuna salad, curry rice, pancakes, meat sauces, fish, meat and poultry pies, pasta dishes, risottos, desserts and many more, all that can be prepared in reasonable time frames and without having to visit specialty shops.

Dining is a very important social experience. The quality of the experience at the dinner table is a reflection of the quality of the food and the intentionality that went into its preparation. It may be simply the difference of eating a piece of toast out of ones hand and serving the toast on an attractive plate. We hope you will enjoy our suggestions and wish you much enjoyment in the kitchen and at the table.

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