Frau Kuchen

cooking and eating in Berlin (and elsewhere)

Archive for the ‘Mains’ Category

Spaghetti with Squid

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I found some really nice fresh squid in Karstadt this week – on an unsuccessful trip to buy a sugar thermometer [1].  It was a hot day so a light evening meal was called for, and Jim suggested a twist on my favourite Spaghetti Vongole.


Ingredients (for 2 servings):

  • As much squid as you want to eat (about 6 usually works, depending on size)
  • As much spaghetti as you want to eat
  • Olive oil
  • Chopped garlic
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • Chopped fresh red chillie(s)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Lemon juice (to taste)
  • Salt & pepper


  1. Put the spaghetti water on to boil.
  2. Clean and prepare the squid – there’s a good video here showing you how to do it.
  3. Slice into rings, leave the tentacles whole.
  4. Add the spaghetti to the (now boiling) pan with a drop of olive oil.
  5. Mix some olive oil, a little lemon juice and the chopped parsley in a bowl. (Be careful with the lemon, the white wine will add acidity too)
  6. Heat a griddle pan to fairly hot and add the squid; leave it for a couple of minutes (if that) until it’s turned an opaque white colour, turn it over an give it a minute or so more – you really don’t want to overcook squid it goes really rubbery.
  7. Throw the cooked squid into the olive oil-lemon-parsley mix.
  8. Drain the pasta.
  9. Heat a little olive oil in the (now empty) pasta pan and fry the garlic, chillies and lemon zest together for a few minutes.
  10. Add the spaghetti, squid-parsley-oil-lemon mix and a cup of dry white wine to the pan.
  11. Give it a few second to heat through and the alcohol to evaporate.
  12. Add salt and pepper and check to see if it needs a touch more lemon (or serve lemon wedges on the side).
  13. Serve.

With the day being as hot as it was we ate ours on the balcony with a green salad and white-wine spritzers, followed by some fresh apricots and plums.


[1] Does anyone know where I can buy a sugar thermometer in Berlin? I’m planning on making some jam with the last of this summer’s fruit; and trying out some of Dan Lepard’s caramel recipes.

Written by hudsons

August 22, 2009 at 1:59 pm


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Sorry I haven’t posted for a while – I’ve been away in London for work. Luckily whilst I was there my hosts – both fantastic cooks – made me numerous tasty meals, and in the process introduced me to za’atar.

Za’atar (also known as satar, zahatar or zatr) is a mix of spices used most frequently in middle-eastern cookery.  My friend made Roast Chicken with Sumac, Za’atar and Lemon, a recipe which he’d adapted from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook.  The recipe and some pictures of my version of the same are below.

I’m a big fan of Yotam Ottolenghi and have frequently used his New Vegetarian recipes in The Guardian.  I’ve just ordered my own copy of Ottolenghi: The Cookbook (by Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi) – so I’ll let you know what it’s like when it arrives. Apparently garlic and lemon are involved in nearly every recipe (presumably not the baking) – perfect for me, I already use both in nearly everything I make.

If you can’t find za’atar in the shops don’t fret, there are plenty of recipes on-line. I used this one which seems to be quite representative. Like many  spice mixes there seem to be many variations, although the basic ingredients for this one always seem to include thyme, marjoram, salt and sesame seeds.

Image 1: Making Za’atar

Roast Chicken with Sumac, Lemon & Za’atar

(serves 4)

  • 1 free range chicken cut into four (I used 4 legs, you could also use thighs – chicken on the bone is is definitely better for taste)
  • 2 red onions thinly sliced
  • 4 crushed garlic cloves
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp sumac
  • 1 lemon thinly sliced (mine were small so I used 2)
  • 200 ml chicken stock or water (I used my favorite Reduced Salt Marigold Vegetable Bouillon)
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp za’atar
  • 20g butter (I didn’t use this)
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 4 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley


  1. Combine the chicken, onions, lemon, garlic, oil, spices (bar the za’atar), stock and salt & pepper in a large bowl
  2. Marinate overnight, or at least for a few hours
  3. Preheat the oven to 200°C
  4. Transfer the chicken (skin side up) and marinade to an oven tray and sprinkle with the za’atar
  5. Roast for 30-40 minutes, basting regularly towards the end
  6. Fry the pine nuts in the butter (I dry fried mine).
  7. Serve the chicken with the nuts and parsley.

We ate ours with what’s known in our house as, Egyptian Rice (recipe below); and a greek style salad made of cos lettuce, cucumber, tomato and red onion dressed in an olive oil, lemon juice, sumac and salt & pepper dressing.


“Egyptian” Rice

I have no idea whether this is really egyptian or not – a housemate in my long past student days taught me how to make it.

(serves 4)

  • 1.5 cups rice
  • 3 cups water
  • a good dollop of butter
  • a glug of olive oil


  1. Wash and soak the rice for 30 mins (I really do find this helps)
  2. Heat the olive oil and butter together
  3. Drain the rice
  4. Measure out the water
  5. Add a couple of tbsps of rice to the butter/oil mix
  6. Fry the rice until it is a nice nutty colour, as soon as it’s brown throw in the water (it only takes a minute to catch and go over) and add the additional rice
  7. Bring to the boil then cover with foil and the lid and simmer
  8. When nearly all the water has disappeared turn off the heat, cover the pan with a tea-towel and the lid and leave it (for about 10  minutes)

  9. Fluff up with a fork
  10. Hopefully you have fluffy rice with lovely little nutty brown nuggets.

Written by hudsons

August 15, 2009 at 5:49 pm

Nigella’s Lamb Cutlets

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A very quick post to say that we tried out Nigella Lawson’s recipe for Lamb Cutlets with Chilli & Black Olives last night. Served with new potatoes and a green and tomato salad dressed with an olive oil, lemon juice and fresh herb (from the balcony) dressing – it was a perfect summer meal.

Their can be few simpler pleasures than nibbling the remaining pieces of lamb from the bones of a lamb chop or cutlet and licking your fingers afterwards.

Lamb is one of my favourite summer meats, ideally cooked on a barbecue so it’s slightly charred on the outside, but retains its pink and juicy interior.

Unfortunately most of the lamb on sale in Berlin seems to be from New Zealand [1], and I try my best to avoid huge food miles. Last week I found some bio (organic) lamb on the Türkenmarkt – at €18/kilo it was pricey, but we eat so little meat that I don’t begrudge spending a little more now and then.


[1] If you know of anywhere else (particularly in the Kreuzberg area), that sells German – or at least European – lamb, please do let me know.

Written by hudsons

July 20, 2009 at 8:49 am

€5 dinner: risotto & granita

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A group of friends recently started a recession busting supper club – the theory being that you cook two courses, for four people, for five euros.  (Actually there are 5 of us, so it’s a €6.25 dinner, but that doesn’t sound quite as catchy).

Last night was the turn of my partner Jim (author of the popular blog He came in slightly over budget at €6.60, but we decided to forgive him, mainly because we were all hungry – but with the condition that he comes in €0.35 under next time…

It’s particularly difficult because you have to count the entire pack of any ingredients you buy, regardless of whether you use them or not – although you are allowed to use store-cupboard ingredients such as herbs, spices and oil. Thankfully the Türkenmarkt is close to our house, so a 5pm visit gave him almost everything he needed.

He served up:

Summer vegetable risotto

500g risotto rice – €.90
2 courgettes – €0.70
about 100g fresh peas €0.75
1 lemon (zest and juice) – €0.15
1 onion –  €0.20
1 large bunch mint (also used for dessert) – €1.00
150g parmesan – €1.80

store cupboard/free ingredients:
Vegetable stock powder (Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon) [1]
Fresh herbs from the balcony – chervil, parsley, chives
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
The rough ends from the green asparagus we had for tea the previous night, peeled and chopped, and we used the water we cooked last night’s asparagus in.

Pod the peas and put the shells in a pan with last nights asparagus water, heat until simmering – this will be your stock.  Chop the courgettes and steam them over the simmering stock. Set the courgettes aside and add the vegetable stock powder to the liquid until it tastes right. Keep the pan with the stock over a low heat (you may want to remove the pea pods).

Make the risotto using your usual method. His was:
Heat the oil and cook the onions until soft, add the rice, freshly ground pepper and lemon zest, and stir until coated in oil. Add the stock a couple of ladels at a time. Five mins before the end add the peas and the chopped asparagus (plus a glass of wine if you have one – this was out of his budget). At the end add the courgettes and grated parmesan and season to taste. Serve with additional parmesan on the side.

Melon, Ginger & Mint granita

1 melon (he used a galia, but canteloupe or honeydew would work) – €0.50
Small bunch of mint – chopped (see risotto)
25 g fresh ginger, unpeeled, grated – €0.15

store cupboard/free ingredients:
125g sugar
150ml water

Place the sugar in a small pan with 150ml water and heat gently to melt the sugar. Simmer for 5 minutes to make a sticky sugar syrup. Add the grated ginger and leave over the heat to steam (no bubbles) for five minutes. Strain to remove the ginger pulp and set aside to cool.

Whizz the melon in a food processor until smooth. Then stir in the chopped mint and sugar syrup.

Pour into a shallow freezerproof container. Freeze for 45 minutes, then take out and scrape the sides into the middle to blend soft and hard. Refreeze. Repeat until it forms a fairly solid spoonable slush (softer than sorbet, harder than slush puppy)- this should take about 3 hours.

Jim’s was still pretty slushy after about 5 hours, so perhaps the sugar syrup wasn’t thick enough, or it could be that our freezer is a bit rubbish. It was still really tasty though, the ginger gave it a good warmth that came through after the melon and stayed in your mouth for ages.

We finished the meal with fresh mint tea – made with the remainder of the huge bunch of mint we got for a €1 in the market.

All in all a great meal – it’s amazing what you can do for a few euros. It’s my turn in about a month, I’ll report then.


[1] This is the best instant stock I’ve ever found, and is often quoted by UK chefs as the only one worth using if you don’t make it fresh. If anyone knows where I can buy it in Berlin please let me know, as at the moment I bring it over from the UK. Although I bought a kilo last time so it will be sometime before I need to restock.

Written by hudsons

July 6, 2009 at 9:27 am