Sunday, December 16, 2012

Stained Glass Cookies

Now, more than ever, it's cookie time!!! and these ones are just perfect for this time of the year. Not only do they look so amazing that you can decorate your Christmas tree or your windows with them, but they also taste good and are one hundred per cent biodegradable :D

Stained Glass Cookies

(for about two baking trays)
250 g all-purpose flour
150 g sugar
125 g butter
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
una teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch of salt
hard candies in different colors

In a large bowl cream together softened butter and sugar. Add egg and mix until light and smooth, about 1 minute on medium speed if you use an electric mixer. Fold dry ingredients into wet mixture. Blend just until flour is incorporated. Form two balls with the dough, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.

Meanwhile we can prepare the candies. Remove any wrappers on candies and separate them by color. One way to crush the candies is puting them by colors into plastic bags and using a mallet. Another option is to put the candies in the oven (on a tray with waxed paper), at a medium-low temperature, until they are melted into flat discs. This way we can crack them easly by hand.

After the dough has cooled, place one ball between two large sheets of waxed paper and roll carefully to 5-6 mm (approx. 1/4-inch) thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut dough into desired shapes. Transfer cookies to prepared baking sheets, about 2.5 cm (1 inch) apart. Using a smaller cookie cutter or a knife, cut shapes into centers of cookies, reserving these center bits to add into extra dough. Follow the same procedure with the rest of the dough (or you can keep it in the refrigerator up to two days if you want to do the second batch of cookies later).

Stained Glass Cookies

Use a spoon to sprinkle the crushed candy into the hollowed-out centers of the cookies, filling to the edges. Try to keep the candy within the centers as any candy specks that fall on the cookie will color the cookie. If cookies will be hung as ornaments or decorations, poke a small hole in the top of each cookie before baking.

Stained Glass Cookies

Bake 9 to 10 minutes in pre-heat oven (190º C/375°F). The candy should be melted and bubbling and the cookies just barely beginning to brown. Remove baking sheets from oven and place on wire racks to cool. Allow cookies to cool on pans at least 10 minutes; otherwise, the candy centers may separate from the dough. When cookies are completely cooled, remove and store in an airtight container. String with ribbon if you want to hang as an ornament.

(Based on this recipe)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Love at first bite

One year now I've been meaning to do this recipe. Irrefutable proof that things cook slow in this kitchen. It was exactly a year ago when I tried this cake for the first time, it was on that Sunday morning in Hong Kong, when I met my friends V. and C.L. for yum cha (sorry, but I was dying to brag about it ;-). And guess what, I just checked the calendar and realized it was exactly October 18 when I arrived in Hong Kong. If that's not an amazing coincidence!

Turnip Cake

The taste of this cake makes you love it at the first bite. It is homey, comforting.

Turnip Cake (adapted from this recipe)

1 medium Chinese white turnip, about 500 g
2 cups rice flour
4 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 cup water
1 teaspoon Shaoxing rice cooking wine (I didn't have so I used brandy...oh happy day ;-)
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt

In a large heatproof bowl, combine the rice flour and 1 cup of water. Mix well until the mixture is smooth and velvety, and set aside. Soak the shiitake mushrooms with water for 10 to 15 minutes to soften. Once the shiitakes are done soaking, remove from water, dry and finely chop. Set aside.
Peel the turnip, slice into 2 cm thick slices, then cut slices into strips about 2 cm thick. Set aside.

Stir-fry mushrooms in a saucepan with 1 teaspoon oil and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the cooking wine (or brandy) and soy sauce and stir until the mushrooms are well-coated. Remove from heat and set aside. In the same saucepan toss in the turnip strips and stir-fry for a couple of minutes. Pour in 1 cup water, cover, and let the turnip steam for 10 to 15 minutes until just cooked. Pour the turnip mixture into the bowl with the rice flour mixture and mix thoroughly. Add the mushrooms and salt. Pour the resulting mixture into a round 18 cm springform pan and smooth out the top.

Fit the pan in a steamer with lid, and cook for 1 hour over medium heat, just until the turnip cake is set and is firm to the touch. Carefully remove the pan from the steamer and allow to cool on a rack for about 1 hour. Once cooled slice and pan fried to gold brown on both sides. Serve immediately plain or with oyster sauce, soy sauce, or chili sauce.

Turnip Cake

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Swedish Apple Tart

Germans care for coffee, good coffee. That is why the Kaffee & Kuchen time is so important in the traditional eating culture. The Kaffee & Kuchen is the German tea time par excellence. It is taken at 4 in the afternoon and must go with a nice piece of cake, if possible, homemade. Of course, nowadays most people don't have time during the week for such a break in the middle of the day, so that's why is left for the week-end.

My mother-in-law makes these awesome cakes, so every time we visit in Saxony, I come home with a new recipe. This time, it was a Swedish Apple Tart, made with the apples from the garden, of course. So delicious!


For the cake:
125 g sugar (50 g + 75 g)
75 g all-purpose flour
75 g cornstarch
25 g homemade vanilla sugar
1 teaspoons baking power
3 eggs (separated)
3 tablespoons lukewarm water
1 pinch of salt

For the filling:
100 g sugar
1 kg apples
1 envelope (100 g) vanilla pudding
250 g fresh mascarpone cheese

1 tablespoon chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 200 ° C. Whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add a pinch of salt and the 50 g of sugar, and whisk until stiff peaks form. In a separate bowl whisk together egg yolks, 75 g of sugar and the vanilla sugar. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of lukewarm water.
Now we add the egg whites to this mixture whisking one-third of whites into egg yolks mixture. Gently fold in remaining whites. Finally sift the flour, cornstarch and baking powder over the mixture. Fold the mixture keeping it fluffy. Butter a springform pan. Put mixture and bake until about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile peel and chop the apples into small pieces and mix them with 100 g of sugar. Prepare the vanilla pudding according to package directions. Add the chopped apples. Bring to boil and let simmer a few minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool for 5-10 minutes.

Once it has cooled, cut it in two horizontal halves and extend a generous layer of mascarpone cheese. Put together the two halves and cover with the vanilla-apples mixture. Let cool a bit and put it later in the refrigerator to finish cooling (minimum 2 hours). Before serving the cake, decorate it with chocolate chips. Have a nice Kaffee und Kuchen!


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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

New York from the distance


About 6000 physical km and four weeks in time is the distance between New York and me now. But actually, New York is only one tenth of a second away. That is the time my head needs to walk down the streets again, enjoy the parks, taste exotic meals or watch the people. In five weeks there is plenty of time to do things, and now I do have the feeling that "I've lived" a little bit there. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying that pretentious thing to say about living like a local, because that would mean to pay the electricity bill, run any annoying bureaucratic errands or, should I have any, take the kids to school, to name some examples. And that, actually, I really didn't do it. However, I do have the feeling that I've seen a little bit the everyday pace of the city. I would come back right now to New York, but I think I would only like to live there if I were rich, extremely rich. I think I don't have the age, nor the energy, to keep time to the city. It is a fast city with a brutal speed. I've never seen before so many people so exhausted coming back home from work on the subway. Is that the reason while there seem to be so few old people in the city?

In that tenth of a second you can see Manhattan one more time from the distance of Staten Island, on the other side of the bay.

New York

Or discover beautiful treasures like the Little Red Lighthouse under the Washington Bridge on the north tip of the island, after a great bike ride along the Hudson River.


You can enjoy again the romantic view from Queens.

Calvary Cementery, Queens, NY

Or walk down the streets of the Bronx and discover bakeries from past times in Little Italy. Like this one which turned out to be where the movie "Just desserts" was filmed, as a neighbor who was curiously watching me taking the picture told me afterwards (I do have an eye for film locations, haven't I? ;-).


One tenth of a second to see again the colors of Coney Island after a summer storm.


And of course, the slow hours in the parks, the only places in the city where you can escape a little bit from the scorching heat of the summer (without freezing under an air conditioning) and savor calmly one of the local treats.

IMG_2934New York 20121New York 20122

But in the end... once New York, always New York. See you soon! :-)


Sunday, August 5, 2012

New York and its street food trucks

As seen in so many movies, who hasn't dreamed once of eating a hot dog on the streets of New York? I do have, I must confess! If you've visited this blog at least a couple of times, you'd know by now that I'm quite fond of street food. This liking got worst last year when I was in Vancouver and discovered there the passion of North Americans for this art of eating.

Parked! 2012Parked! 2012Parked! 2012Parked! 2012

Yesterday, the annual meeting Parked! took place on the South Street Seaport of Manhattan, an event where the best food trucks of the city gather. When you think of food trucks, you may think of hot dogs, hamburgers or pizza, well, that was before, now these trucks have specialized and offer some bites you would never dream of, or what would you say to a kimchi taco, a lobster roll, grilled cheese or a Taiwanese lunch box? See it for yourselves...

Parked! 2012Parked! 2012Parked! 2012

I will keep informing you from the streets of New York :-)

Parked! 2012

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Summer in New York

I'm on the road again and this time I will be spending the next five weeks in New York, New York! Yesterday, on my very first day in Manhattan, I walked downtown to eat a knish, at the Knish Bakery Yonah Schimmel as seen on Woody Allen's "Whatever Works".

Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Summer in Berlin

This month I've been on a round the world trip, again. Only this time I took some company with me, my 12-year-old niece who visited me the last two weeks. Together we travelled to...


La Arepería


Gyoza & Ramen Noodle


Mango Lassi & Fried Wantan




Italian Icecream

...and of course, Berlin

Berlin-style liver

How is your summer going?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Crunchy Zucchini Isles

Having a beautiful vegetable garden, my mother gathers tremendous zucchinis. So when the season arrives, the whole family is well provided with the summer squash. One of the many recipes in which my mamma uses them are her famous zucchini sandwiches. With just zucchini, ham and cheese they are a version of the common ham and cheese sandwich, popular known in Spain as "mixto". For these sandwiches what you need to do is to replace the bread with zucchini slices. To keep the layers together you have to coat them in egg and fry them. An oily business, I tell you.

Here in Germany, where I live, the family provider for zucchinis is my mother-in-law. So when, after visiting the family last time, we came home with a couple of nice specimens, I remembered the famous sandwiches from my mother. However, as I'm a little bit lazy and hate frying, I tried something new: crunchy zucchini isles, with a result that speaks for itself!


1 zucchini, if possible a large one
2-3 slices of ham
3-4 slices of Emmental cheese
Feta cheese
2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. breadcrumbs
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 250 °C (approx. 475 °F or very hot). Prepare an oven tray with aluminum foil. Wash the zucchini and cut into 1 cm slices which we put on the tray previously sprinkled with some olive oil. Add some salt to the top of the slices. Now put a slice of ham, a slice or two of Emmental cheese and a cube of feta cheese on top of them all. In a bowl, mix the grated Parmesan with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle the zucchini isles with this mixture.
Put in the preheated oven and let for about 10 minutes or until golden brown
Et voilà!

Markierte Fotos43

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Friday, June 1, 2012

Sweet Potato Casserole à la Sookie

I have an unmentionable confession to make: I love, I mean really love, all kind of vampire and supernatural beings stories. Now is out there! What can I say? Nobody is perfect! This addiction makes me consume uncontrollably not only movies, shows, seasons, sagas, remakes, you name it, but also, and if applicable, all the books they are based on.

So when I read my friend's A. post about True Blood and about its source material the Southern Vampire Series I knew I will have to devour all of them. But here is the thing: after having read in a row the first eleven books of the series and having just started book number twelve, you start getting close to your hard limits (and frankly, I think the author is getting to hers), and the reading becomes dense. So much so that the only thing that catches your interest (and the one of your already sleepy mind at that point) is a dish the heroine cooks between telepathic conversation, supernatural fights and a roll in the hay with a vampire.

Even from a bad read you can get something good though.

Sweet Potato Casserole - Logo

1 kg sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into medium cubes
95 g packed brown sugar (I used cassonade)
50 g butter, softened (which you forget on the counter top!)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pecans and miniature marshmallows for the topping

Preheat oven to 180 °C.
Place the sweet potatoes in a Dutch oven, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or until very tender. Drain; cool slightly.
Place potatoes in a large bowl. Add sugar and the other ingredients (this is when you forget the butter!). Mash sweet potato mixture with a potato masher. Scrape potato mixture into an even layer in a baking dish coated with some butter. Sprinkle pecans and top with marshmallows. Bake at 180 °C for 25 minutes or until golden.

I used the book's recipe description and this recipe of a traditional sweet potato casserole for the measures.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Does someone else have an unmentionable confession to make too?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Hot Pot

It took me five months to finally sit down and organize the last pictures of my big big trip, and I also even managed to write down this last post about it. As it seems, this blog is on its good way to become a season blog, from spring to summer, but anyway...

So here is the small article about the second most unforgettable meal in Hong Kong, the first one was the D-Day, in case it wasn't clear enough yet. This time it is all about the Chinese hot pot which, as I was told, it is quite popular among the Hong Kong population these days. And because I too believe that a picture is worth a thousand words, here a couple of them.

Hot Pot

Crispy tofu skin rolls (really good) that will become quite smooth after dipping them a couple of seconds in the stock. Two different types of stock, a very hot one, and a just little less hot one.

Hot Pot

Two pairs of chopsticks, longer ones for dipping the ingredients in the stocks and shorter ones as cutlery; also a ladle with holes for the meat balls. And many different types of sauces.

Hot Pot

Fish paste to form fish balls and cook in the stock.

Hot Pot

More meat and fish balls, and veal carpaccio.

Is there still any doubt about why this meal is unforgettable?