Friday, December 15, 2017

Juniper Shallots in Red Wine

Here's a Christmas side dish with sexy flavors that takes just a half hour to make. It's vegetarian to boot.

Shallots are pan fried in oil and butter then simmered in sweet red wine with crushed juniper berries. That's it. Season with salt and pepper and bring it to the table.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Dinner Rolls Christmas Tree

What's more festive on your holiday table than this tree-shaped cluster of dinner rolls?  This recipe is not only festive but so simple to make. There is an hour and a half rise time to consider but the rest is easy and fun to create. 

This recipe is a pantry cleaner. I used up lots of little baggies full of seeds and nuts. Leftover pepitas, sunflower seeds, pistachio dust, everything spice mix, fennel seeds, sunflower seeds and applewood smoked salt all became toppings for the rolls. 

I started out with a specific topping idea, originally wanting to use up some homemade everything mix. When I started pulling ingredients out of my cabinets, I suddenly lost my dang mind and created a crazy quilt of toppings. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Christmas Ball Cheese Spreads Appetizer

How cute are these for your holiday party? 

For the cheeseball flavors, ( came up with artichoke parmesan (the snowball), sun dried tomato chive (polkadot decorated ball) and spinach, almond paprika (cheeseball with the tree cutouts).

The recipes are separated below so if you only need to make one or two of them for your size crowd, you can do that. 

The best part about making these is the fun you can have while creating them. I just used up what I had on hand. A convenient option to use up leftover ingredients in your kitchen. Swap out the nuts, spices and veggies for what you have on hand. 

I used mini cutters to create festive shapes and removed three toppers from three Christmas ornaments to use as decoration on top of the cheese balls. You can use small pretzel loops as well. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Pistachio Meringue Christmas Cookies

I always believe pistachios class up the joint. Maybe it's because of their gorgeous color and exotic taste. Maybe it's just because I love them. They were a natural go-to for me for a Christmas cookie. 

So here you have it. The caboose on this season's Christmas cookie recipe train is this pistachio meringue recipe.

This simple but sophisticated cookie recipe features luscious ground pistachios folded into whipped egg whites. Simple ingredients. Big flavor.

 I tried piping them onto the baking sheets with a star tip to make them all fancy looking but I found the amount of ground pistachios in this recipe weigh the mixture down. Consequently,  the cookies come out flat and not poofy, like traditional meringues.

"Poofy" is a technical baking term. Just so you know. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Espresso Cinnamon Stars (Zimtsterne)

In what seems like eons ago, I remember on one of my first Christmas time trips to Germany ogling zimtsterne / cinnamon star cookies in the windows of German bakeries. They were so perfectly pretty and I couldn't wait to try them.

What followed was bitter disappointment. I expected a sweet rush from the smooth white glaze and was surprised with how flavorless and not sweet they were. What I thought was a sugar glaze on the cookies was mostly egg white.  

This was one of my first experiences with German baking which generally contains about 1/3 less sugar than American baking recipes.  My palate adjusted eventually. However, I wanted to try making a version of zimtsterne this holiday season while packing more flavor and sweetness into the cookie. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Orange Cardamom Hazelnut Kipferl

Our Christmas cookie parade continues today with this twist on the traditional Austrian Christmas Kipferl. 

For those of you not familiar with Kipferl, they are traditional Austrian vanilla Christmas crescent-shaped cookies (Vanillekipferl) made with almond flour.

For this version, I swapped out the almond flour for hazelnut. I added orange flavor and cardamom for sexy holiday flavor. 

What I love best about these cookies is how easy they are to make. No chilling the dough, no cookie cutters.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Rosemary Marzipan Rollout Christmas Cookies

I'm kicking off December with a parade of holiday cookie recipes. And of course, I did not forget the glitter. The glitter is optional (I used lime green edible disco dust on these) and way too much for most people.

Sparkle aside, the co-stars of this recipe are the raw marzipan and the chopped fresh rosemary needles mixed into the dough. Both give the cookies gorgeous seasonal flavor. Marzipan is dead easy to make yourself and takes less than 10 minutes. I've included a recipe below.

I encourage you to get creative this season with your cookie shapes. Find some unusual ones to use. I found this one in a bag of miscellaneous cookie cutters at a local Goodwill store. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Unique and Traditional at the Christmas Market in Nuremberg, Germany

Nuremberg is a beautiful medieval city in Bavaria I have visited several times. This was my first trip there in December and I was excited to experience the city's world-famous stunning Christmas market first hand. The market draws over 2 million visitors each year and dates back to the 17th century. Open December 1 until December 24th from 10 am to 9 pm., the market closes at 2 pm on the 24th. 

There are four features I found that set Nuremberg's Chriskindlesmarkt apart from so many others I have visited in Germany.

Monday, November 27, 2017

My Top 10 Tips When Visiting European Christmas Markets

Christmas market by Lake Geneva in Montreux, Switzerland
For almost 20 years, during holiday times, I have roamed the Christmas markets of  Germany and many in France, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, and Austria. After years of sampling regional specialties and purchasing lovely local gifts, I've also learned visiting Christmas markets is a mini-history lesson on the city itself. 

Discovering the holiday traditions and uniqueness of each city makes the visit and purchases a more meaningful experience. 

Harbor Christmas Market on a ship floating on the Rhine river, Cologne, Germany
When I visit a Christmas market, I usually spend the entire day in that city, traveling by train roundtrip from my home in Germany or where I am staying. Over the years I have developed a routine on planning a Christmas market visit from what to pack to how to shop.  
Scenes from Christmas market in Maastricht, Holland
Of the local specialties offered at a Christmas market to buy or to eat, some are specific to Christmas. That's a good thing to research before you go. You may not want to eat or buy what on offer but most have an interesting history that is connected with the soul of the city. Knowing a bit about the soul of the city makes the visit a richer experience.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Turkey Cranberry Gulasch - What to Do With Thanksgiving Leftovers

I hope all of you who celebrated had a lovely and delicious Thanksgiving in the USA yesterday. Now comes the leftover parade. When you are done having the same Thanksgiving meal several times over as leftovers, I have a recipe idea for the rest. 

Last year I created a Thanksgiving Leftovers Flammkuchen recipe. to use up whatever was left from Thanksgiving dinner. This year, I'm presenting this tasty turkey cranberry gulasch for the same purpose.

The recipe calls for a few cups of chopped turkey meat and some cranberry sauce. Serve over leftover mashed potatoes and you have a recipe that is a perfect post-holiday fridge cleaner.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Marinated Red Cabbage Carrot Salad with Pecans & Vanilla

I'm here to help those of you who waited until the last minute to throw your Thanksgiving menu together. 

Flavor and color are the stars of this Thanksgiving holiday-inspired red cabbage salad. 

This is the easiest Thanksgiving side dish ever. There is a one hour marinade time and I recommend toasting the pecans. Other than that, it takes minutes to throw together.

Shredded red cabbage, carrot curls, dried cranberries and toasted pecans are tossed together in a vanilla vinaigrette. The eye-catching result is sweet and crunchy and not too filling. 

How perfect is that for a Thanksgiving side dish? 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Roasted Brussel Sprouts Garlic Cream Soup

I'm that Thanksgiving menu overkill person your mother warned you about. I always make at least three appetizers, four to five sides in addition to the turkey, stuffing, and gravy. The dessert count is too embarrassing to mention. A signature cocktail, wine and after dinner liqueurs are also present and accounted for.

As if all that is not enough, I love to create a soup to go with the meal as well. So here's my Thanksgiving soup recipe for 2017, a rich and creamy option that's full of yum. 

Roasting both the Brussel sprouts and the garlic before adding them to the soup is the key to the soup's deep delicious flavor.

This recipe provides enough servings for four soup bowls. If you want to serve it in smaller portions for Thanksgiving, it will serve 6. You can easily double the recipe to feed a larger crowd.

Thanksgiving aside, this is a lovely fall/winter soup option that is so hearty, a bowl accompanied with a chunky slice of hearty bread is a meal in itself. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Fried Potato Gouda Sage Tart

Here's a beautiful savory sage scented tart stuffed with pan-fried potatoes and laced with melted gouda cheese for your fall baking pleasure. 

You're welcome.

This savory tart is a meal in itself. That's what I love about savory tarts. A slice and a small side salad and you're good to go. 

This recipe is a perfect Fall brunch option.  It is also a great side dish option for your upcoming Thanksgiving feast. 

The flavor secret to this tart is to fry the fresh sage leaves in olive oil, remove them and then use the sage-scented olive oil to fry the potatoes.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Pumpkin with Chestnuts & Shallots

I can honestly say, this is one of the best, easiest and most flavorful Thanksgiving side dishes I have ever made and your vegetarian friends and family will love it. 

I love the simplicity of this dish. Fresh pumpkin pieces are blanched then stir fried with the chestnuts and shallots in oil and butter. Add some vegetable broth, fresh thyme leaves, season and you're good to go!

The recipe is a great make ahead up to one week in advance. Bonus.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Turkey Cashew Schnitzel in Tarragon Cream Sauce

If there is no way in hell you are roasting a turkey this Thanksgiving, consider making this alternative turkey dish for your upcoming holiday.

This dish has incredible flavor. Serve it with mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes and you have yourself a mini feast. 

I love nutty schnitzels because coating a schnitzel in any type of nut before pan frying adds wonderful, flavor and crunch to any schnitzel dish.

And. Make the roux ahead of time and the dish takes less than a half hour to make. 

Shut the front door. 

Many German sauces and soup are flavored with a dark roux. Don't be intimidated by the fancy name. Roux is easy to make. You will find a recipe for a dark roux is included below.

In this recipe, the mild turkey flavor is the perfect complement to a creamy, crunchy, cashew coating. The last of the tarragon from my garden was used to add an anise-like flavor the sauce. The dark roux was added to the sauce to deepen its flavor.

If tarragon is too hard to find, substitute your favorite herb. 

Turkey Cashew Schnitzel in 
Tarragon Cream Sauce
Prep Time: 15 minutes 

Cook Time: 8 minutes 

Yield: Serves 4 

  • 1 cup unsalted raw cashew nuts, plus some for garnish
  • 1 large egg
  • Salt and white pepper to taste
  • 4 turkey breasts thinly cut 
  • 8 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons turkey broth 
  • 4 tablespoons dark roux*
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon, plus some sprigs for garnish
*Recipe follows below

  • Rinse the turkey breasts and pat dry. If the turkey breasts are uneven in thickness, pound them until they are thin and even. 
  • Season each breast with salt and white pepper on both sides. 
  • Place three deep plates by the stovetop. Chop the cashews into small pieces and spread the pieces out on one plate. 
  • Whisk the egg in a small bowl. add salt and white pepper and pour into the second large shallow plate. 
  • Pour the all-purpose flour evenly onto the second plate.
  • In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form and set aside. 
  • Heat the oil in a large shallow skillet over medium heat. When the oil is sizzling, turn the heat down to low. 
  • Dredge each seasoned turkey breast first in flour, then in the beaten egg.  Lastly, cover the breasts with the chopped cashews and place in the pan. 
  • Cook the turkey breasts 3-4 minutes on each side until they are cooked through and the cashew crust is golden brown. 
  • Remove from the pan and place the cooked turkey breasts on a separate serving plate. Cover the plate with aluminum foil and store in a warm place. 
  • Add the 2 cups of water to the pan. Add the turkey broth and the dark roux. Stir until everything is combined thoroughly. 
  • Stir in the whipped heavy cream and the fresh tarragon. Let the mixture simmer for a couple of minutes and season with salt and white pepper to taste. Remove from heat. 
  • Retrieve the turkey breasts from their warm place, uncover and pour the sauce over the top or serve on the side. 
  • Garnish with raw cashews and fresh tarragon sprigs and serve. 
*To make the dark roux: 
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup flour 
  • Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until tiny bubbles form in the oil. If you want to be more precise and use a thermometer, heat the oil to 300 degrees F. 

  • Carefully add the all-purpose flour a bit at a time stirring slowly and constantly. Be careful not to slosh any of the liquid on yourself as it is extremely hot. 
  • When all the flour has been incorporated, keep stirring slowly until the roux becomes a deep caramel color. You do not want it to turn a chocolate color. The darker the roux, the less thickening power it has. In this case, the roux is added to this sauce recipe for flavor. 
  • Remove from the heat. Use immediately or transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator for future use. but bring the roux to room temperature before using. If you would like a thicker sauce, stir in more cream and/or all-purpose flour.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Cinnamon Star Bread - King Arthur Flour's November Bakealong Challenge

Just looking at this gorgeous baked good can be intimidating, forget to attempt to make it yourself. However, when you read the frank step by step instructions on the King Arthur Flour website, you gather the confidence to give it a try.

This cinnamon star bread recipe is much easier to make than the deceptive and intimidating looking result.

It does take awhile to create. The total rise time is two hours. However, if you plan this recipe around doing other tasks, it comes together in no time. 

The cinnamon star bread can also be premade and frozen up to one month beforehand. Perfect for a holiday breakfast or brunch. Who doesn't love make-ahead recipes for parties or holidays?

I was lucky to have had all the ingredients on hand. The recipe contains potato flour and nonfat milk powder, both of which not everyone has in their kitchens. You only need a 1/4 cup of each of those ingredients, so I suggest instead of running out and buying them,  "borrow" the amounts you need from a friend or neighbor if you can or use their recommended substitutions.