Saturday, March 31, 2007

Tomato Olive Tart



I am a proud Indian.

Don't get me wrong I am not arrogant about it, nor do I get up every morning and think "Yes! I belong to a country with some of the greatest minds, cultures, traditions and the most passionate people in the World!" Not every morning ;-)!

However, there are often times when I just sit back and think this is my tradition and culture and I am proud of it. Like last night for example. I will get to last night a little later but first I want to tell you that it took me a while to get to this point.



For the "real" Indians back home or living around us, I was your clichéd Indian girl who left India at a very young age and brought up all over the World. Went to American and British schools and had friends from all over the World. Dresses, talks and acts "like one of those westerners" was often said about me.

My parents taught me the traditions and cultures of my country but never forced me to practice anything religiously. They also understood that it is not always easy to bring up children with feet in two worlds. As long as we were obedient, respectful, bringing good grades, know the borders set and not cross them, my parents were happy with the way we grew up.

However, I did at times feel like I had my feet in both worlds and was so often divided between both. For some of the so called "Westerners" I was probably the clichéd Indian girl. Trying to dress, talk and act "like one of them!"

There was always a small inner conflict. Where do I come from? One of the most difficult questions for me to answer. At times I would distance myself from being Indian and other times I just did not want to be like the other expats. But as I grew older and with the teachings of my parents and grandfather I slowly learned how to handle the conflict. I know today where I come from. A beautiful country. Admired by many for it's rich and colorful culture and tradition. Envied by some for our strength, passion and minds. Loved by almost all for our spirit and values.

I still dress and talk like a westerner, but I know my inner self is Indian and I am proud of it.

Photo from the official Merchants of Bollywood website


That pride came to show 100 per cent last night. Tom and I went to see the spectacular Merchants of Bollywood. As I live in a region of Germany where not many Indians live, I was amazed to see that the entire concert hall was filled with mostly Germans. With each dance and song the place rocked even more. For me, as the actors danced a lovely traditional dance my eyes welled up with tears of joy and pride. During the break I could not help but smile at a blond dressed in a gorgeous "ghagra choli" (a traditional Indian dress) and looked on in amazement as they went wild buying the music CDs for the show. At the end of the show I was stunned at the standing ovations and the shouts for an encore. As I walked out of the doors I just could not help but hold my head up high.

I guess I should now share a traditional Indian recipe with you. But I won't. Instead I am sharing a dish that is probably a little like me. A tart, which would represent my western exterior, with gorgeous red tomatoes and green olive, the colors of which represent my Indian interior.

Enjoy!



Reminder!

This time I am taking you all on an exciting trip through 1001 Arabian dishes. The Monthly Mingles theme for this month is Arabian Nights. Deadline is April 11, 2007. Be there or you'll miss the belly dancing ;-)
Update: Due to the fact that I have received a few dishes from Morocco and do not want to disappoint these entries I will accept Moroccan recipes too.

The first event on the Daily Tiffin is also underway. Hope you will join the DT team and Show us your lunch box.






Ingredients:
200g puff pastry
350g cherry tomatoes - cut in halves
30g green olives - chopped
2 spring onions - chopped
3 tablespoons Pesto all Genovese
150g grated Pecorino cheese
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon herbs Provence



Method:

Preheat the oven at 250 degree Celsius.

Line a round greased tart form with the puff pastry. Spread the base with the tomatoes, olives. onions and pesto. Cover with the grated cheese and sprinkle salt, pepper and herbs.

Bake the tart for 25 minutes. Take out and allow to cool.

Tomato Tips:

      Do not refrigerate tomatoes. Cold temperatures destroys the flavor of tomatoes
      The easiest way to preserve tomatoes is but freezing them whole. Lay them on a baking tray and shock freeze them overnight. Then place in freezer bags and return to the freezer. Whenever your recipe requires some tomatoes, simply take out the required amount, thaw, peel and use in your dish. You will find an interesting know-how for freezing raw tomatoes here.
      Another way to store tomatoes is to peel and puree them. Strain the tomato sauce in a fine sieve and then fill an ice cube tray with the sauce. Freeze overnight then replace the tomato pulp cubes in freezer bags. Need a quick sauce? Now it's easy!




Verdict:
A lovely light meal enjoyed with a nice fresh salad. The crispy pastry base add a nice crunch to the smooth flavors of tomato and olive. Perfect for the lovely warm days coming soon.

My offerings to the current Jihva theme Tomatoes hosted over at My Workshop.



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All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Cooking School: German Beef Roulade



For today's cooking school session I am taking you all to Germany. I chose a very traditional German dish, which is often prepared for a cosy Sunday lunch when all the family are over for a visit. It is also a typical meal that would be served over the upcoming Easter festivities. Therefore, my Easter recommendation for all who would like to try out something different this Easter.

I have been often asked by many people what German cuisine is like.


Recently I had a chance to write a little about it for my part of Johanna's new series called Culinary City Snapshots.

For my readers I have summarized it here so that you can get a better idea of what the food trend is like in Germany.

The cuisine in Germany varies from region to region. Each region has its own culinary tradition and is influenced by its regional agriculture and the neighboring countries. For example Baden-Wuertenberg's specialties include ingredients typified in agriculture around the Black Forest and are influenced by the proximity to France and Switzerland.
Generally speaking, Germans like hearty meals with lots of meat, sausages and potatoes. Pork, beef and poultry are the most popular type of meats eaten here. Vegetables are often cooked in stews or as a side to accompany a meat dish. Different types of cabbage are among the most popular vegetables in Germany. Beans, peas and carrots are also enjoyed often in German homes. However, when Asparagus is in season, especially white asparagus, it easily replaces many of the other vegetable dishes. I believe, (I cannot say for sure though) that the Kartoffel (potato) is the Queen of all German meals. It is served in many different variations, from the famous dumplings, to Bratkartoffeln (pan fried potatoes) to potato salads and gratins.

While all we hear about German eating habits with huge amounts of potatoes, meats, pastries and beer, which might make it sound one of the unhealthiest cuisines, German cuisine is undergoing a huge change at the moment.
The so called neue Kueche - new cuisine offers a variety of recipes and dishes influenced by foreign countries. Chefs trained in Switzerland, Italy and France come back and open extremely good continental restaurants. Foreign cuisine such as Turkish, Thai and Japanese are also becoming very popular, largely influenced by the foreign workforce who have settled here over the years.

If you are interested in reading the entire Culinary City Snapshot for Weimar you can do so here.

I really hope you enjoy making these. My mother-in-law pretty much always makes her fantastic Beef Roulade when we visit. Simply because she knows how much I love them. Today I am sharing her recipe with you!



Music While Cooking:


America - Razorlight: New on my iPod
A fantastic and melodious song!
Listen to it
Buy it at the WFLH Mall






Reminder!


This time I am taking you all on an exciting trip through 1001 Arabian dishes. The Monthly Mingles theme for this month is Arabian Nights. Deadline is April 11, 2007. Be there or you'll miss the belly dancing ;-)

The first event on the Daily Tiffin is also underway. Hope you will join the DT team and Show us your lunch box.



Ingredients:

2 onions - 1 thinly sliced and one finely chopped
3 medium sized gherkins / dill pickles - sliced lengthwise
6 beef flank steaks - approx. 180g each
Salt and pepper
3 teaspoons of hot German Mustard
12 slices smoked bacon
1-2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2-3 teaspoons beef stock
2 tablespoons flour

Besides this you will need trussing or roulade needles.

Shop at the WFLH Mall for these products:
The Food Loop
German Hot Mustard
Smoked Bacon from Niman Ranch






Method:

Flatten the flank steaks with your hands. Generously sprinkle salt and pepper. Using a knife, spread the mustard on one side of the meat.

Spread a few slices of onions, a couple of bacon slices and some of the gherkin slices on each roulade. Make sure you leave enough room around the edges. From the smaller side, start rolling the meat tightly into a type of roll.

Use either the roulade needles or the Food Loop to keep the roll sealed and in place.

In a large oven proof pan heat the oil and fry the roulades from all sides on a high heat until slightly browned. Take out of the pan and sauté the chopped onions until translucent.

Add the tomato paste and allow to cook for a few minutes. Pour in approx. 3/4 liters of water and bring to a boil. Add the stock and then place the roulades back into the pan. Allow to simmer covered for approx 1 1/2 hours.

Once ready take the pieces of meat out and keep warm.

In 4-6 tablespoons of water mix the flour into a smooth paste like mixture. Pour into the fond, bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Put the meat back into the sauce and allow to soak up the juices for a few minutes.

Serve this with boiled parsley potatoes and typical German style red cabbage with apples.



Verdict:

Normally I leave this particular dish for my mum-in-law to make. But every once in a while I need to be able to prove to myself that I am also capable of making such traditional meals. The funny thing about our little household is that meals that others would call exotic are routine and such meals as this dish are categorized in the "Exotic" section. So, when I say to my boys "Es gibt Rinderroulade Heute!" (it's beef roulade for lunch today) Tom looks at me and raises his left eyebrow (yes he is one of those talented people who is capable of raising a single eyebrow). This normally is a sign that means "woah! she is treading in foreign waters today!"
I have made these quite a few times now and if I may say so myself, have really mastered the technique. Tom and Soeren love the thick flavorful gravy that is produced after braising the meat for over an hour. The combination of the smoky bacon with the sharp mustard is so flavorful that we scoop up every last morsel.

I hope you enjoyed this session of Cooking School with an insight of the German cuisine. If you give this a recipe a try, I'd love your feedback.


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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Photo: I See Red

Photo made it on Explore, March 27, 2007


The trendy blog color this week seems to be red. Some of my favorite girls are wearing this color so brilliantly. See here, here, here, here and here!

I've always said I was a bit of a fashion victim - here is my red!

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All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Piquant Wasabi Salmon Egg Roll



Easter is coming up soon and as we walk around our neighborhood the colorful plastic eggs adorn the trees. Trees that are just beginning to bloom, the colors of the eggs adding certain charm to the still bare trees.

A wonderful time for me. Easter always marks the begin of the "good weather and good times." My mind wanders off to all the things we can do when the sun shines down on us, warming not only us but also our spirits and moods. I plan thousands of parties, barbecues, picnics and soirees in my head. My imagination running wild with all we can do and all the new recipes I'd like to try out on my guests. Not all of the parties actually happen - but you know I like to be prepared, just in case. Tom often says that I like throwing parties because I want to use my guests as guinea pigs for my recipes. Who me?

Not true. I have my two testers at home who test taste the recipes I plan to make for an event. It's true I am what one would probably call a test cooker. Before we host a big event, I test cook a few new dishes I plan to prepare for the event, a few weeks in advance. I find it's a great way to really see if the combination of flavors really harmonize with each other and just how difficult the cooking steps are. Then of course - how can I enhance the recipe by adding my touch to it.

Our first big event this year is going to be our Easter Brunch. Tom's birthday is on the 4th so we decided to combine both and officially open the party season. There are a few things I already have on my list. For the kids, I'm planning to organize a egg hunt around the neighborhood, but the adults will have to help out by building teams and figuring out the answers to the questions I will be dropping all over the neighborhood.



In the food section I have picked out many new interesting recipes. Besides barbecuing meat and vegetables there will be salads, canapes, breads, dips, cakes and a few other goodies.

One recipe I recently test cooked was this wonderful egg roll. It sounds rather bland when I just say "egg roll!" It is actually so much more than the usual egg roll. Actually, it is a biscuit-like roll - the kinds normally filled with jellies or sweet creams then rolled and cut in slices. Based on this idea, the roll is created with a piquant and savory filling.

When Johanna asks me What's in my Easter basket? I'll be sending her this recipe!
As this is a wonderful brunch idea, I think it will be a great addition to Nandita's Weekend Breakfast Blogging, being hosted over at Live to Eat.



Music While Cooking:


Gia Farrell - Hit Me Up. New on my iPod
Powerful, hot and a very danceable track.

Listen to it
Buy it in the WFLH Mall








Ingredients:

4 eggs
20g sugar
salt
200g sliced smoked salmon
50g flour
40g cornflour
1 teaspoon baking powder
200g cream cheese
1-3 teaspoons Wasabi horseradish - measure this to your personal taste. Some like it really spicy others prefer it mild.
250g Quark/Curds - Freya and Paul have a great recipe to make your own curds here.
4 tablespoons dill - finely chopped
2 teaspoons mustard
a handful of breadcrumbs

Shop at the WFLH Mall for these products:






Method:

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Line a baking tray (40 x 35 cm) with baking paper.

In a bowl whisk eggs, sugar and 1 teaspoon salt with an electric blender/whisk until the mixture is thick and creamy. This will take about 7 to 8 minutes. Sieve the flour, cornflour and baking powder into the mixture and with a spatula or a hand whisk incorporate into the batter. Blend in 2 tablespoons dill.

Pour the batter into the baking tray, spreading it evenly across the tray. Bake in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes. Take out and allow to cool a little.

Place a kitchen towel on the counter and sprinkle with a few breadcrumbs. Tip the egg biscuit base onto the towel so that the baking paper is on top. Rub the baking paper with a wet cloth. This trick helps to remove the baking paper more easily from the biscuit base.

In a separate bowl mix the cream cheese, Wasabi horseradish, mustard and quark together. Add a bit of salt and the rest of the dill. Spread the cream cheese mixture onto the egg biscuit base, smoothing it with a rubber spatula. Place the sliced salmon on top.

Using the tea towel gently roll the entire base. Wrap firmly in some plastic wrap and cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Cut in thick slices and serve with some hone mustard sauce.

Notes:
The sugar is to balance the sharp flavors of the Wasabi and mustard.
The batter will become light and fluffy when you mix it using a hand whisk.
Moistening the baking tray with some water and then place the baking paper on the baking tray. This fixes the baking paper on the tray and avoids it from sliding back and forth.

Vegetarian Variation:
Slice an aubergine or a zucchini lengthwise. Fry in some olive oil until nicely browned and caramelized. Use these vegetables instead of the salmon the salmon.



Verdict:
WOW! What flavors. I was not really sure what to expect when I started mixing this up. However, as I cut the first piece to taste it I was blown away. Powerful and explosive but with an exquisite and delectable harmony of flavors. If you are now thinking nothing for the kids. Let me tell you this. Soeren ate two large pieces of this. He loved it and I was completely surprised. Tom? He came back down a little later in the evening and foraged the refrigerator. He cut up a few slices and enjoyed a little late night snack. LOL! I think I will certainly be making two of these for the Easter brunch and also trying out the Vegetarian variation.



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All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Friday, March 23, 2007

Spring In My Home



I brought a bit of Spring into my home. After the week of warm Spring weather here, we've had cold and snow this week. So a bit of color inside is just the right thing to brighten the day.

It is planned to get back to the great warm weather over the weekend again though!

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All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Monthly Mingle #8 Roundup and theme to Monthly Mingle #9



After traveling around Europe the past 4 days I am really glad to be back home again. Although I am really happy to get out and about and appreciate that my job allows me this possibility, I still find coming back home the best part.

I actually wrote part of this post sitting in the train to Hannover and I already knew then, that when I get back home, Tom and Soeren will be at the train station waiting to pick me up. Soeren will spot me in the crowd and with a huge grin and gleaming eyes he will run into my arms. THAT is the pure joy of returning home.



So, the Monthly Mingle 8 theme Savory Cakes theme really got your heads steaming.

"Ever since I saw Meeta's invite to join the Savory Cakes Monthly Mingle, I've been planning. Savory cake is a brilliant idea, but difficult to pull off. How do you make a cake savory?"
- Chelsea Greigh, Bon Vivant

"I wanted to participate in this month's Monthly Mingle, (hosted by Meeta) mainly because I am intrigued by the idea of savory cakes."
- Chris, Melle Cotte

"Meeta’s Monthy Mingle theme for March had me a bit stumped."
- Ylee, Lemonpi


These were just a few of the comments you will read. Let me tell you though, you all outdid yourself fantastically and my challenge was well reciprocated. What you are about to see is truly an incredible selection of creative savory cakes. Exotic ingredients, fresh vegetables, and aromatic flavors were all used to make these wonderful cakes. Thank you all for being so clever, imaginative and most of all for accepting the challenge!

Before I get to the roundup I'd like to share the theme to the next Monthly Mingle.

Ready for MM 9?

This time I am narrowing the theme down to a particular cuisine. It is a cuisine enjoyed by many around the world. Famous for it's use of fresh ingredients, intriguing blend of spices and the social meaning behind the meals. The people from this region believe that food is a way to get together with friends and family members and enjoy the simple things in life. They sit together over several courses, eating, talking and mingling.

The cuisine I am talking about is the Arabic cuisine. Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and the Persian Gulf countries are just a few countries that belong to this region. Although the type of dishes served are the same they are prepared very differently in each country.

So, your homework this month is to prepare a specific dish from one of these wonderful countries. Anything that catches your taste-buds - a certain dish from the ever famous mezzeh, a dish prepared with fresh vegetables, chicken, kebabs, baklava - the list is long and the choice might be a little difficult. For those new to this type of cuisine try out one of the more popular recipes like hummus, tabouleh or baba ganoug. Others who have often prepared these dishes, venture out and try something else. A little more challenging perhaps.

Bring your offerings to my "Arabian Nights" Mingle, where we can enjoy your delectable dishes over some belly dancing and pots of warm spiced tea.

Here's how it works:
  1. Create a dish that fits this theme. Blog about it anytime from now till April 11th, 2007.
  2. Email me your entry with your name, the name of your blog and your permalink by April 11th, 2007.
  3. In your post please include a link to this post and/or the MM logo, so your readers get a chance to mingle with us.
  4. Please send only one entry per blog. If you do not have a blog, simply email your entry, with a picture (if you would like me to add a picture) to blogmeeta@gmail.com.


Add the Monthly Mingle calendar to your own Google calendar!


Browse through the previous Monthly Mingles.

And now I present the Savory Cakes from around the Blog-o-sphere!


Updated!
Dolores sent her entry to my old Hotmail address. But when she wrote to me and mentioned it in the comments section and in an email I just had to put it in the main post. You must take a look at the incredible creation Dolores serves up. Her Crab and wild mushroom cheesecake highly deserves the honor of being centerpiece to any dinner party.



Saudi Arabia, Cambodia, Philippines - Isis job takes her away to some of the most exotic places in the World. She, however, always finds time to prepare something for the Monthly Mingle. Someone who has not missed even one of my mingles since it started, she always amazes me. This time she also finds time and bakes a cheesy and bacony cake.



Petra goes in search of a traditional Tourtière. Along with some really interesting information she bakes an amazing Tourtière Bonne Femme. It looks soo good!



Lydia serves us a popular cakes amongst the Chinese, Malaysian and Singaporean communities. For us her yam cake sounds incredibly exotic and looks delicious.



I am sure you have all heard of upside-down-cakes. Pineapples, cranberries and peaches are some of the usual ingredients that would be used in such a cake. Viji presents us with a Veggies Corn Meal Upside-Down Cake



The ever creative Asha does it again. She brings Mediterranean flair to the mingle with her Mediterranean Savory Cake



Although she was a little confused as to where to categorize savory cakes, Anisha joins us with her lovely Veggie Cake.



Cake? Bread? Bri decided that her contribution for the MM would be called a cake and uses some of the feared zucchini she was forced to freeze in the summer. What she created was a delicious Cheddar Zucchini Cake.



Arfi's creation are always exclusive. This time it's no different. She harmonizes fruit with cheese to make Pine Nut Wafers with Blue Cheese and Balsamic Pears.



Shabneez needed a sugarless bribe so she bakes a Italian Savory Corn Cake.



In March St. Patrick's day is celebrated and Rachel wanted to cook up something Irish. And she does! Irish Apple Potato Cakes - a brilliant combination.



Other delicacies. I love these delicacies that Marie-Laure creates. I enjoy reading her blog for two reasons - great recipes and I can improve my rusty French. This time Marie, brings Surimi and carrots cakes.



Swapna bakes a carrot cake to celebrate her husband's birthday. Looks great!



Burcu adds Turkish flair with her Savory Cornmeal Cake.



Susan has me captivated! I love her stories. This time she shares a wonderful story about her generous dad and his food packets. Using one of the olive oils sent by her dad she finally does justice to her Italian roots and bakes a Olive Oil Cake with Rosemary and Lemon. Simple yet so elegant!



Yet another brilliant creation comes from Bee and Jai. Together they create very healthy Spinach and Spring Onion Scones. Perfect for kids of all ages.



Chelsea makes my mouth water. She planned long and hard and finally came up with a masterpiece. Her Goat Cheese Green Chile Cheesecakes are just up my alley. Don't they make your mouth water?



Chris has conversion issues but still manages to bake a aromatic Mediterranean Savory Cake.



Was Jessica's husband really torturing her? Read her post and you decide. In my opinion a moist Olive and bacon cake is not a proper torturing tool.



Susan was inspired by the theme of the MM and makes a Cake O Eggplant. Yummy!



Sushma makes a well known Indian style cake and soothes herself with a piece of Dhokla and a steaming cup of tea.



Zucchinis are also used in Brigitte's creation. From Singapore she sends a gorgeous looking Zucchini cake on tomato-sage-sauce.



Simple but perfect for all occasions. That is what Anh's cake shouts. She uses lovely Italian ingredients and make a colorful Up-side-down Tomato and Basil Pie.



Now here is an imaginative dish that breaks all rules of a cake. Claudia makes a beautiful Tortellini Bundt Cake with Spinach and Cheese. I need a fork!!



Pinki joins us with an antique recipe. She brings a Chicken ring cake.



Nupur was under the impression that there would be many entries with the same kind of cake she makes. Although we already had one entry for this cake, I have to say Nupur uses a clever method and makes a quick and easy Instant Dhokla using a microwave. My kind of recipe!



Ulrike makes a wonderful cake using one of my current favorite cookbooks. I am glad she did give the book a second go because her Bacon and Prune Cake looks like a combination made in cake heaven.



You'll enjoy reading Jyothsna's write up. She converts her husband into a savory cake fan with her cake with salt and spices in it.



Salty Egg Cakes: sounds unusual doesn't it? Asks Eliza. Yes, it does, but very intriguing not to give it a try.



Priya was extremely creative. Inspired by one of my other recipes she creates a smooth and cheesy cake.



Oh! oh! oh! My lovely friend Helene is not only sweet and lovely she comes up with the most awesome creations. For this mingle she makes Pear and Blue Cheese Mini Cakes. OHHHH!



She was a bit "stumped." Ylee however, started loafin' around and made Polenty Bread with a touch of rosemary. Hmmn!



I eagerly await Esther's contribution to the MM. They are wonderfully creative. This time she really had me drooling. She shares a Savory roasted pepper and sundried tomato cake with us.



Sunita tries making a savory cake for the first time. Her Carrot and peas cake looks colorful and tasty.



The lovable pair Frey and Paul make a cornbread. But not just any cornbread! This has Jalapenos, Spring Onions and Strong Cheddar Cheese to make it full of flavor and aroma.



Another one to use Sophie's cookbook was Astrid. She makes a Smoked Salmon Cake.



The clever Nandita re-joins us at the mingle with very healthy and spongy Savoury pancakes with mushrooms and onions. Yes, pancakes are also cakes!!



My own offerings was a moist Roquefort and walnut cake with a piquant note of blue cheese.



Missed out on this event and you would still like to share your savory cake? Add your link to the comments section of this post.


BPW Information:
There are still BPW postcards whizzing around the world! I just updated the list to add a few more people who recently received their cards. Those of you who still have not, please hang in there. You see that it sometimes take really long for them to arrive. After all there is a reason it's called "snail mail." Should you have already received your postcard, please do not forget to send me the link to your post.



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All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Friday, March 16, 2007

Cantuccini Plum Cheese Cakelettes



After a pretty (and very needed) relaxing weekend, where Soeren spent the entire weekend at his grandparents' and Tom and I had the weekend to ourselves, the week was quite hectic. In between doctors appointments - I needed to get a check-up again after being so ill the week before last and Soeren needed to get his quarterly check-up to see if the tubes in his ears are still OK - we had our usual weekly routine of music school, library and sports all on the plan.

Furthermore, as I will be traveling on a business trip next week I needed to finish up a few things at work. On top of all that, this was a very important week for Tom too. He was due to give a lecture at the University in Darmstadt, which counted towards his thesis and the Who's Who of many top Universities from around the World were to be attending. So, we practiced his lecture in the evenings or corrected and translated some papers and ... learned how to tie a tie!



The lecture was Thursday (yesterday). On Wednesday we went through the lecture one last time and then, as Tom was to leave really early in the morning he put out his suit and other stuff to wear. He asked me which tie he should wear and I suggested "the yellow one I bought for you!" Note: I have bought all of Tom's ties! But as luck would have it the tie had come undone.

See, Tom cannot tie his ties, he gets his dad to do it for him and then he simply loosens it and slips it off keeping the knot for easy wear the next time. Well I am not very good with ties either so we Googled through the web and believe it or not we found a fantastic site that explained, with pictures, how to tie a tie in many different styles. We've bookmarked this page! Now both of us can tie the "English tie knot" close to perfection. Praise for thee, Google!

The lecture went very well and a few important people are now aware of what Tom is doing. This is great. See, when Tom is finished with his PhD. we plan to make a big move - hopefully out of Germany and hopefully to Dubai!!

To celebrate I decided to make a dessert for dinner. I also decided to kill the proverbial two birds and create a little something for the current session of Hay Hay it's Donna Day being hosted by the awesome Peabody.

Cheesecake - hmmmmn! Cheesecake - yum! Cheesecake - biiiig!

I kind of shy away from making too many big cheesecakes. Simply because they taste too good and we can never resist pigging out on them. I really mean it - we pig out on cheesecake. So, I decided to do the same thing I did here and use my ramekins to make smaller dessert sized portions.



I had a box of cantuccini, plum preserve and cream cheese. The beginning of an interesting cheese cakelette!

I was curious about one thing though. What does Google define as cheesecake. Here are the results. I especially like the last definition LOL!

More on Cheesecake:
Wikipedia



Monthly Mingle Info!

The round-up for the Savory Cakes - Monthly Mingle will be next week. So stay tuned for that!



Music while cooking

Mika - Grace Kelly - New on my iPod. This is a fantastic hit.

Listen to it

Buy it at the WFLH Mall








Ingredients:

110g Cantuccini
50g butter - melted
6 tablespoon plum preserve. I used one with actual plum bits in them.
200g cream cheese
50g sour cream
40g sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon flour
1 vanilla bean

Kitchenware you will need: baking or mousse rings

Shop at the WFLH Mall for these products:







Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.

In a kitchen mixer finely chop the cantuccini. Place the cantuccini crumbs in a bowl and drizzle the melted butter over them. Mix well.

Place four metal rings on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. If you do not have such metal rings you can line ramekin bowls with baking paper or grease them.

Now divide the cantuccini crumbs onto the bottom of the rings/bowls and press down firmly with your fingers. Put into the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Divide the plum preserve on top of the canntuccini crust, even out and once again place in the refrigerator for approx. 15 minutes.

In a mixing bowl whisk the cream cheese, sour cream , sugar, eggs and flour into a smooth mixture. Cut open the vanilla bean and with the back of the knife scrape out the inside. Add this to the cream cheese mixture and stir in well.

Pour the mixture evenly into the metal rings and bake for 40 minutes.

Take out and allow to cool and then release each cake from the ring.



Verdict:

Perfect portions for a little dessert. The plum preserve was refreshing and full of aroma. It complemented the almondy cantuccini flavor extremely well. The cheesy topping was moist and soft, which made this a huge success. It was so easy to prepare and took so little time that I am pretty darned sure I'll be making several variations of this in the future.



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All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Spring In My Backyard



Look what's growing in my yard! Spring is here and we've been having great warm weather.



Here's to all of you! I wish you all a happy start to Spring 2007. I just love this season. All the wonderful colors, birds chirping, more daylight ;-).



Enjoy it!


Reminder!

Don't forget today is the last day to enter your Savory Cakes for the Monthly Mingle.

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All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Roquefort Walnut Savory Loaf



I was cheeky when I selected the theme to this Monthly Mingle. Hope you will excuse me for that.

You see the reason I chose this theme was because I had just bought a wonderful new cookbook - Sophie's Sweet and Savory Loaves by Sophie Dudemaine. It is a fantastic cookbook and comes with my very high recommendations. It features several cakes and loaf recipes that are sorted according to the season. There is such a large variety to choose from and I was having a hard time doing that. So, I decided to make the theme for the Monthly Mingle Savory Cakes to push me to make one of the delicious cakes.


I then narrowed all my selections to a fantastic sounding loaf. A loaf with walnuts, bacon and Roquefort cheese. What I love about this book is that Sophie has combined brilliant ingredients and each loaf is a culinary artwork. So you have a cake with apples and pistachios, cake with zucchini and goat cheese, cake with asparagus and chantrelles, Foie Gras Cake (my next choice), smoked salmon cake, rice pudding cake ..... the list goes on. As the recipes are sorted according to season you can choose fresh ingredients that are in season. Just brilliant.

Savory cakes/loaves are so perfect for a light dinner with a salad or a soup or packing it as a picnic lunch. Something I am looking forward to this Spring and Summer. They make perfect bread type sides for your party buffet too.

The loaf I chose just fitted into my mood that day. I was craving for something nutty, cheesy and smoky - this loaf offered all that and more. It has a very "grown up" taste to it, as the flavor of Roquefort cheese lingers on the tongue. If you have not developed a taste for blue cheese I would recommend simply using less of the Roquefort cheese. But I do recommend everyone to give this loaf a try. For the vegetarians I suggest using some mushrooms instead of bacon.


Roquefort Cheese

This cheese is made from sheep's milk and is one of the world's oldest known cheeses. It was enjoyed by the Romans and was Charlemagne's favorite types of cheese. In 1411, Charles VI of France gave sole rights to the ageing of Roquefort cheese to the village of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, and all Roquefort still must be aged in the caves there today. The blue veins are mold that originally came from the walls of the limestone caves in the south of France where the cheese is aged and ripened. Nowadays the mold is injected into the cheese to allow for even distribution. It is still aged in the same caves. All "real" Roquefort cheese have a red sheep brand on the foil label.

Roquefort has a creamy and rich texture. Taste wise it is pungent and slightly salty. The interior is creamy white dotted by the blue veins of mold and surrounded by a white rind. Roquefort can be used in a wide variety of preparations from savory breads to Canape spreads.

More on Roquefort cheese:
Wikipedia
BBC Food Glossary



Reminder!

Don't forget March 15th is the last day to enter your own Savory Cakes for the Monthly Mingle.



Music while cooking:

Sunrise Avenue - Fairytale Gone Bad: New on my iPod - totally hot.
Listen to it
Album: On the Way to Wonderland


Buy at The WFLH Mall








Ingredients:

50g Bacon - cut into small cubes
1 teaspoon sunflower oil
50g walnuts - chopped
salt and pepper
150g flour
2-3 teaspoons baking powder
3 eggs
50ml walnut oil
50ml peanut oil
125ml milk - luke warm
100g Gruyere cheese - grated
150g Roquefort cheese

Updated: You can now easily find and buy the cheeses I used in this recipe at the WFLH Mall.
Roquefort Cheese.
Gruyere cheese.







Method:

Pre-heat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius. Grease a loaf pan.

In a pan heat the sunflower oil and fry the bacon until brown and crispy. Add the walnuts, salt and peeper and continue to saute on a gentle heat for approx. 5 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool.

In a bowl mix together the flour and baking powder, add the eggs and beat well with an electric beater. Gently drizzle the oils and warm milk into the batter, beating continuously. Fold in the Gruyere cheese.

Crumble the Roquefort cheese over the bacon and walnut mixture. Mix and then add to the batter. Fold together gently.

Pour the mixture in the loaf pan and bake for approx. 45 minutes.

Vegetarian tip: Use mushrooms, like porcini or chantrelles instead of the bacon.



Verdict:

Like I said above a very grown up tasting loaf. Powerful from the Roquefort, nutty from the walnuts and smoky from the bacon. It is amazingly moist and soft. We had a side of fresh mixed salad with this and it was just the perfect dinner. For Soeren the Roquefort cheese taste was somewhat piquant and I think he will need to develop the taste for this. But he still ate one slice with relish.
Tom loves cheese and a good Roquefort is on top of his list. This was a great success with him.


Blog News:
I want this blog to be a wonderful experience for my readers. You know I love playing hostess.

That is why I have added a few comfortable resources on my sidebar for you to browse through and refer back to. I joined up with the Amazon affiliate program to be able to offer you the items I discus and mention here with an easy click of your mouse. Music, cookbooks and other interesting items are available at the What's For Lunch, Honey Mall. There is a place for Amazon.com and Amazon.de shoppers. You will find the link and featured articles on my sidebar to the left.

You must have noticed that I have added a second sidebar to my layout. The right sidebar focuses on food related things on WFLH and on the left sidebar I concentrate on other interesting tidbits, like photography and music.

The "Spotlight on the Archives" section on the right sidebar highlights some of the interesting recipes I shared with you in the past year.

Check out the "Daily Tiffin Latest" section regularly too. Here you can inform yourself of what is being currently discussed over at the Daily Tiffin. This week: Childcare: Making the choice. You will find this on the left sidebar.

I hope you enjoy yourself discovering and sharing a world full of life with me!



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All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Bollywood Cooking: Chicken Curry



After we thoroughly went through the Indian spices in our first Bollywood Cooking session, it's high time we do a bit of cooking. After thinking about it for a long time I decided to go with a chicken curry. It is probably one of the most well known type of Indian dishes in the world and is cooked in many different varieties.



The word curry actually comes from the South Indian Kari, which mean sauce. Curries are prepared all over the Asian continent, with the Thai curry, Malaysian curry, Indonesian curry and of course the Indian curry being the most popular types. The flavor and content of the curries not only differ from country to country but also from cook to cook. Therefore, each curry you ever try is most certainly unique in it's own way. Curries are not always to be considered hot, they are indeed spicy as in full of flavor. In fact there are more mild curry recipes than hot ones and these are designed to give a cleverly balanced blend of the various spices and herbs used, some of which have delicate and highly sophisticated tastes.

Generally speaking in Indian curries, commonly used base spices and herbs include coriander, cumin, cardamom and turmeric. Depending on the recipe involved, other ingredients can include things like chili, curry leaves, garlic, ginger, garam masala, onions, cinnamon and pepper and mustard seeds.

I found an amazing article from the Toronto Star in which 6 different ways of curries are prepared. Something I have to also share with you for your future reference.

My way of preparing this chicken curry is the way I got it from my dad. You heard me - my dad! Ever since my dad retired he has become a hobby cook. He watched my mum cook for several years and now has sort of taken over in the kitchen. What I love about my dad is that the recipes he cooks are "no fuss no nonsense" type of dishes. For example my mother will make the effort of going through the process of peeling, pitting and squeezing the tomatoes for this curry. My dad on the other hand believes this to be nonsense and simply chops up the tomatoes into pieces, juice, peel, pit and all. Personally I find no difference to the taste.

So, I hope you now join me and let's cook up a super tasting chicken curry.


Reminder!



The theme for the latest Monthly Mingle is - Savory Cakes.
Deadline is March 15th. Hope to see you there!







Music While Cooking:

Illegal - Shakira
Album: Oral Fixation Vol. 2








Ingredients:

1 free-range chicken, cut into 8 pieces. You can also simply use 8 chicken drumsticks or drumsticks/thighs.
4-6 medium sized tomatoes - coarsely chopped. You can, if you like, peel, pit and squeeze the juice out of these and then chop. Or take my dad's "no fuss no nonsense" method.
1 medium onion - finely chopped
4 tbsp vegetable oil
3 cm piece ginger - finely chopped
2 garlic cloves - finely chopped
1-2 green chillies - finely chopped. The fiery hotness depends on your taste.
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
¼ tsp turmeric powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper
100ml water
2 tbsp yogurt
1 lime
a small bunch of coriander leaves - chopped







Method:

In a large pan heat the oil and fry the onions on a low to medium heat for 10 minutes. Stirring occasionally, gently brown the onions making sure they do not burn. Add the ginger, garlic and chili to the pan and continue frying for another minute or so. Add the cumin, coriander and turmeric powders to the mixture and fry for another 2 minutes, stirring continuously so that the spices do not stick to the pan. Add salt and pepper.

Pour water and add the tomatoes. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Place the chicken pieces into the pan and coat with the sauce. Covered, allow the chicken to cook for 30-40 minutes over a low heat.

Now stir in the yogurt. Make sure the liquid does not boil after you have added the yogurt to it as it will get clumpy. Add half of the lime juice. Taste and if you like add some more.

Sprinkle chopped coriander leaves and serve with basmati rice or a pulao.




Verdict:

A slightly different way to prepare a chicken curry but this holds all the expected tastes of spices, chilies, tomatoes and chicken. The chicken is tender and succulent and has time to soak all of the big taste from the spices.
More on Indian spices refer to the Indian Spice Enspicopedia.


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All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Muffins Exotica



After 4 days of fighting with a fever and flu virus, I just manage to look beyond the covers of my bed. It was a rather rough week with both Soeren and me down suffering with, probably the worst flu bug ever. Both of of us had temperatures in the 40s (Celsius). When it would sink with one of us, it would rise with the other. We're not completely over it, as we still feel the weakness it left behind, making anything even more then walking down the stairs a true ordeal, but at least we know we won the fight and are on the road to recovery.


So why am I sitting in front of my notebook and writing a post. Well simply because, I needed a way to share my feelings. I needed to share the emotion that has filled up inside of me. Maybe I am still a bit disillusional due to the medicaments I am taking so I am hoping you will allow me to indulge in my little emotional spree.



There is one huge reason why we were able to make the recovery so smoothly. Like a strong pillar to lean on, my Tom went to all lengths and looked after us like no one else I have ever come across. As I went into the second day of high temperature he wrapped cold towels around my calves - to help get the fever to sink. He cooked, cleaned and tried to pamper us with fresh fruit salad. Yes, folks, I do have the best one around. I could go on and on, but I won't because I am not up to it right now. I know he knows it but just in case he ever needs confirmation .....

I LOVE YOU!

Now to the muffins (no I'm not getting any soppier than that). I had actually made these muffins a while back when we were all felling fit and healthy. They are an exotic dream. Smooth, moist and fruity. Not too sweet and full of flavor. They were actually to be a part of this event created by the lovely Elena, but alas that flu! Nonetheless, I did not want you to miss out on these muffins.

I hope you enjoy them.






Ingredients:

230g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon all-spice
120g butter
180g brown sugar
2 large eggs - beaten
3 tablespoons natural yogurt. As an alternative you can also use a pineapple or banana flavored yogurt).
1 tablespoon vanilla aroma
75g pineapple - cut in small cubes
30g grated coconut
1 ripe banana - sliced

For the topping
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon all-spice
20g grated coconut






Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Line a muffin tin with 12 muffin paper forms.

In a large mixing bowl sieve together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and all-spice. In another bowl beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the eggs, yogurt and vanilla aroma and beat for another few minutes.

Now add the sliced banana, pineapple and coconut to the mixture and gently mix with a rubber spatula. Pour this into the dry mixture and work into a dough, making sure not to over-mix. The dough is best when it is slightly lumpy.

Divide the dough into the muffin forms making sure not to fill more that two-thirds full.

For the topping mix the sugar and the all-spice. Sprinkle the muffins first with the the sugar/spice mix then the coconut. Place the muffin tray into the oven and bake for approx. 20 minutes.

Take out and allow to cool.

This is how we enjoyed our muffins: Still warm with a large scoop of vanilla ice-cream






Verdict:

We enjoyed every last muffin. The first ones were naturally the best. I served them as a dessert, still warm with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. A real exotic treat for the family.
These muffins tasted great a few days later too as the flavor of the all-spice had time to blend into the muffins more. Adding the all-spice was really a great idea as it harmonized with the exotic flavors of the the fruit so well. That's why I named them "Exotica!"

Interested in learning more about Weimar's Culinary Hotspots? Johanna of the The Passionate Cook has started a great new series called Culinary City Snapshot. When she wrote and asked if I would be interested in sharing a bit about the restaurant scene in Weimar, I just could not say no! So, before you click anywhere else click here and read about Weimar: Culinary City Snapshots




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All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First