Monday, April 30, 2018

Ramp Spätzle in Cream Sauce

Ramps have a short season so I like to make the most of it by experimenting with incorporating them into all types of recipes. From knödel to potatoes salad, you will find those recipes at the end of this post. 

Homemade spätzle or "Little Sparrows", translated from German, is a wonderland for flavor hacks in general. All you have to do is add a purée of your flavor choice to the egg batter. 

This version uses sexy seasonal ramps to amp up the taste adding a hint of wild garlic.

If ramps are not in season in your area, you can substitute leeks or scallions plus a clove of garlic. You will have to boil them to soften them before making a purée.

This ramp spätzle recipe is covered in a flavorful cream sauce. You can lighten the calories by using a reduced fat cream when creating the sauce.  

TIP: If you don't have a spätzle press, squeeze the batter through a colander with large holes.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Watermelon Radish Pepper Cream Tart in a Beet Crust

Like many of my recipes, this tart is designed to be versatile so you can easily adapt the dish to your taste. Add some goat cheese slices, roasted garlic or a combination of your favorite fresh herbs to customize it to your own taste.

This is a good thing for me as well. This tart originally was designed to have goat cheese in the recipe. I forgot to put "goat cheese" on my shopping list and started to make the tart without realizing there was none to b found. So pepper cream it was! I was really happy with the result but I also believe the tart would be great with goat cheese. 

You can also use whatever type radish you like or have on hand. I found these watermelon radishes at the farmer's market recently and could not resist their beautiful pink color. The radishes were perched among a wonderful variety of others including green meat and black ones but I just had to have the pink. I can chalk the gravitational pull to the pink up to my girl genes, maybe but mostly I knew they would be pretty in photographs. #foodbloggermentality

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Caramelized Orange Cardamom Upside-Down Cake for Orange Appeal: Savory & Sweet

When I first started food blogging, I connected with an online baking challenge called MacTweets. The goal of this group was for bloggers to create a monthly French Macaron around a theme for inspiration. 

Whether it was a beloved childhood book, favorite dessert or a change in season. Every month a theme was issued to us dedicated Mactweeters and we followed suit with blog posts that showcased arrays of creative concoctions of French Macarons and creative writing. Those challenges not only sparked our culinary skills but also our writers' imaginations. I learned how to make the temperamental macaron and loved each and every one of those assignments and reading the resulting participants' posts. 

One of the creative brainiacs behind MacTweets was Jamie Schler of Life's a Feast Food blog. I discovered her blog years ago and immediately connected with her voice as an American expat living in Europe. At the time I was an expatriate in Germany. My husband was working in Iraq. I was living in a small German village and had just started a baking blog as a creative outlet and to mediate my anxiety. Baking became my therapy. 

Monday, April 23, 2018

A Day of Adventure and Eats in Israel's Galilee

Our day in the Galilee was packed with fabulous food, fantastic vistas, and fun entertainment. 

After the TBEX (Travel Bloggers) conference, a few of us were invited on a Northern Israel Culinary Tour press trip. It was a four day eat and drink fest. I already wrote about our epic foodie days spent in Haifa and Nazareth respectively, and about my time in Jerusalem and the deeply moving experience of visiting  Vad Yashem.  After the conference ended we boarded a bus and headed to the Western Galilee where we spent a fully packed, crazy pants kind of travel day. 

Before the day was over we would have eaten several feasts, went on a jeep safari, explored ancient marine caves and Templar castles, watched a jousting spectacle between crusader knights as well as taking part in a medieval feast and show complete with a king, fire eaters, belly dancers, and jesters.  

The first stop on our fam trip after leaving Jerusalem in the morning was the Nahal Kziv Nature Reserve. We were met with snacks and the charming former Tech Industry worker turned Authorized Wilderness Adventure Instructor, Omri Avidar of Omri Travel

Friday, April 20, 2018

Chocolate Banana Whipped Cream Mole Cake

This adorable cake idea came straight for a German cooking magazine.  Underneath an edible candy mole figure is chocolate cake layered with whipped cream and fresh bananas. 

The cake is fairly easy to make, however, a heads up, it needs to stand in the refrigerator for at least two hour before serving so take that into account. 

The mole can be sculpted out of marzipan or fondant. Recipes for homemade versions of both are included below. Of course you can also use store-bought marzipan or fondant which would be a time saver.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Easy White & Green Asparagus Thyme Tart with Swiss Cheese

When white asparagus or "white gold" as it's called in Germany comes into season in April, many Germans celebrate its arrival with a special meal. In my husband's family, white asparagus is cooked and then served with peeled boiled potatoes and Hollandaise sauce. Simple, but always delicious and a wonderful ritual of welcoming the spring season. 

By the way, did you know fresh asparagus squeaks when it's rubbed together? Me either. Just learned that fun food fact.

German restaurants also serve traditional and regional white asparagus dishes but many present creative interpretations as well. You will find many wonderful variations on restaurant menus all across Germany.

Monday, April 16, 2018

My German Mother-in-Law's Pea Soup with Wurst in Homemade Bread Bowls

What my husband likes most for a birthday celebration is no celebration at all. A Happy Birthday kiss in the morning and he is good for the entire birthday. Not me. I like celebrating over several days, sometimes weeks with friends at different venues. Cocktails and cakes, I'm all about the party.

One dish my husband misses most since living in the States is his mother's pea soup with pieces of German franks. 
Last year she made the base of it for me and I may or may not have smuggled it past customs to NYC then to our weekend house in Pennsylvania where I invited friends and neighbors to enjoy the pea soup I made from it. 

Friday, April 13, 2018

Almond Puff Loaf - King Arthur Flour's April Bakealong Challenge

Snow day plus a new recipe from King Arthur Flour's Bakealong challenge pair perfectly. Recently I found myself stranded at our place in the country for an extra day courtesy of a surprise April snow storm. The new recipe popped up so I hopped into the kitchen to get to work  

Yes, this Almond Loaf Puff pastry looks like it might be scary and complicated to create. No, it's not at all. I was really surprised at how easy it went.  

Also, you probably have everything you need right now in your kitchen cabinets to make this and it comes together in no time at all. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Bratwurst Potato Spring Onion Casserole

Here's a quick and easy meal that's hearty and full of great flavor. It is also flexible. Served with a side salad, it makes a great main dish, served in a smaller portion, it makes a tasty side dish.

Layers of potatoes, cheese and a pan fried bratwurst spring onion mixture are smothered in a cream sauce and baked to perfection. What could be bad about that?

I used beef bratwurst for this casserole but you can use any type of sausage, turkey, chicken or vegetarian. Feel free to substitute the Swiss cheese in the recipe for your favorite variety and adjust the amount based on how cheesy you want the dish to be.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Fig Date Muffins with Oatmeal Ginger Streusel

I had this fig date muffin recipe saved from one of my German cooking magazines. Figs and dates were waiting in the pantry to be used. I tweaked the recipe and then went all crazy and added a Ginger streusel.

Turns out that was a perfect idea. These are some of the most tasty muffins I've ever created. Family and friends gobbled them up. My mom just loved one with a cup of tea. 

The muffins are dense, packed with lucuious figs and dates. Even though they are delicious, one is plenty filling.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Tomato Vodka Soup

My last post was a schnitzel version of my favorite bagel. This recipe is basically a Bloody Mary cocktail in soup form. All this food morphing wasn't intentional but I seem to be onto something here. 

Unlike most recipes where the alcohol is evaporated, leaving only the flavor, the vodka is stirred into the soup just before served. It's full-on baby. There is no escaping the alcohol shot. I used Peppar vodka for extra flavor oomph but unflavored works fine. Obviously, you can leave out the alcohol altogether. 

I used celery seed to garnish the soup along with fresh celery. Toasting the celery seeds really popped their flavor.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Everything Chicken Schnitzel with Scallion Cream Cheese Sauce

Sometimes recipes inspiration comes from the strangest places. I've basically turned my favorite bagel order into a schnitzel dish. I grew up in a weekend bagel family. Ever since I can remember an everything bagel smeared with scallion cream cheese was my jam. 

Over the years, I've tried to break up with this combination. I've cheated on Everything with cinnamon raisin, garlic and onion bagels. But I always come back to Everything. Everything is my everything. 

On the other hand, I'm pretty fickle with my schnitzel. I'm a serial schnitzel experimenter and will make anything but the traditional version. In this space alone I've posted celery root and beet schnitzel as well as schnitzel crusted with cashews, pretzels, cornflakes and potato chips.

This chicken version is one of my favorite combinations to date. I added a homemade Everything mixture to the breadcrumb coating. The Everything recipe is posted below. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Cherry Charoset Chocolate Linzer Cookies

In addition to desecrating knödel, I figured I should go whole hog or traif and repurpose charoset. 

It's not my first time, I once made charoset truffles and have even used it to stuff French Macarons. I need to go to Passover jail. Do not pass go....

However, I promise these cookies are so delicious and contain no flour. The chocolate cookie contains almond flour and melted chocolate in the batter making it flavorful and chewy. 

The charoset is a variation of a traditional recipe. I used dried cherries and red currants as the star ingredients but use your own favorite recipe if you like. 

You can make these into straight up sandwich cookies but I went all fancy and made a Linzer style. I'm a fan of a preview window on top of a cookie.