Frau Kuchen

cooking and eating in Berlin (and elsewhere)

Spiced Breakfast Bread

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This is a post I meant to make a couple weeks ago, but I keep getting distracted elsewhere. I took the recipe from Gordon Ramsay “Makes it Easy”, but The Times Online has repeated it here.

It’s a deliciously warm spicy and very slightly sour (from the buckwheat) bread, although it is a bit fiddly and time consuming so make sure you have a cup of coffee at hand and a snack before you start. I guess you could make it a day ahead but you’d miss the smell to whet your appetite and the warmness of the bread. Having said that, there are only two of us, so I put half the loaf in the freezer and we finished it off the following Sunday.

Image 1: Spiced Breakfast Bread

Gordon’s cookbook suggests serving it with a cherry compote, and as we’re in the cherry season I did just that. The recipe for the compote is below – I reduced the sugar in the original recipe and it was still sweet, so I suggest adding sugar to taste.

Image 2: Spiced Breakfast Bread with Cherry Compote & Greek Yogurt

Cherry Compote (serves 6):

  • 1 kg pitted cherries
  • 250ml fresh orange juice
  • 100g sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • mint leaves

Put everything in a pan and slowly bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Shake to stop it sticking. Allow to cool then remove the mint leaves and lemon zest. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

The following Sunday I served the defrosted remaining half with a compote of (some slightly overripe) apricots and apple, and again with greek yogurt. For the compote I used about half and half apricot/apple to the same total weight as the cherries, I added about the same amount of orange juice and sweetened it with runny honey towards the end of cooking instead of using sugar.

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Written by hudsons

July 22, 2009 at 1:56 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.

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[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

Restaurant Krokodil

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Last weekend we made a long planned cycle trip to Köpenick. The trip was partly inspired by a desire to cycle along the Spree and see the changing architectural/urban environment (Jim – architectureinberlin.wordpress.com) and partly because I wanted to visit Restaurant Krokodil and Hostel am Flußbad. I’d read about the Hostel and Restaurant on Berlin Hidden Places – always a god site for some inspired and off-beat touristing.

We planned our route using the brilliant BBBike site.  If you haven’t used it give it a try, you can plan any cycle route you want in Berlin, with options to stick to cycle routes and green-ways if you choose (and the added benefit that it’s provided in english, as well as auf deutsche).   It gives you a clear set of printable instructions and the option to print the map in a number of different formats.

On the way we cycled along Treptow Park, crossed the river and cycled most of the rest of the way through the Volkspark Wuhlheide. A lovely route through a park that we haven’t explored before.

Image 1: The Wuhlheide (with Parkeisenbahn) [1]

Our hunger drove us on through the centre of Köpenick and past the bands playing in the Schloss and the town square (I assume as part of the Blues & Jazz Festival, which runs though to the end of August). The small side street (Kietzer Str.) leading on to Gartenstr. where Krokodil is found, has some wonderful old, and now protected, buildings that used to be part of the independent Fischerkietz.

Image 2: Fischerkiez [2]

Restaurant Krokodil and Hostel am Flußbad could easily be missed, they’re set behind a big red-brick wall.  Once you’re inside it’s a beautiful space, the hostel looks lovingly converted, and the restaurant and seminar rooms are thoughtfully designed. Perhaps because it was rescued by a local group with the needs of local people in mind.

We found a spot under the awning an dug into the Sunday brunch buffet.  I have to say that after my initial excitement about Sunday buffets when I first arrived in Berlin, I’ve now rather changed my mind. The quality at buffets is often poor – sliced meats and cheeses from Lidl – and I rarely feel like I’ve eaten well afterwards.  Having said that, the Krokodil buffet wasn’t bad; there were several hot items, including pork and sauerkraut; dauphinoise potatoes; and, chunky chips; plus a variety of meats (rare beef, salami, etc), smoked fish (mackerel, salmon, eel, trout) and a mix of different salads (including tomato & mozzarella and potato). My only complaint would be the lack of a big green salad – something I tend to eat with every meal.

Image 3: The Beach with Hostel and Restaurant

Image 4: Restaurant Krokodil

The regular menu, and changing wochenkarte (weekly specials) look good – although there are a few too many main dishes with fruit in for my liking (fruit in a main dish is rarely done well imho).  I was slightly annoyed that I hadn’t held out and extra hour for the menu (before a certain time – sorry I forget when – you can only order the buffet) as the Matjes mit  Bratkartoffel und Salat (Herring with Roasted Potatoes and Salad) from the Wochenkarte looked and smelled particularly appetising as it whisked past my table later on.

Krokodil is particular good if you have kids – there were a few families who looked like they were regulars.  The adults can sit under the awning and eat, drink and chat whilst the kids play on the sand and swim in the well marked out swimming area.  If you’re feeling really adventurous you can borrow kayaks or rafts, or be taken on a guided tour (including multiple days with tents if you wish).  On the Sunday we were there we saw a group of kids – probably a birthday party – going out on a led tour on the raft, it looked great fun.

Image 5: The Beach

Image 6: The Terrace at Krokodil

According to their website they have quite a lot of live music events, seminar and conference facilities and can host parties or weddings. We didn’t investigate the hostel, but from a peer inside it looks clean, airy and spacious, and the proces are really good. All in all a great local facility.

I wouldn’t go to Köpenick just to go Restaurant Krokodil, but if you are there and you fancy somewhere relaxed and a bit different to eat or drink then do pop in.  Particularly if it’s a sunny day and you have kids!

After watching a couple of the bands – still playing in the town square – we made our way back though the Wuhlheide. This time we stayed on the the north bank, wending our way through the Kleingarten and exploring the ruined buildings on Köpenicker Chaussee.  Although tempted by Funkpark and numerous other (seemingly spontaneous) parties en-route we headed home along the edge of Rummelsburger See  and over Treptower Brücke.


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[1] Image courtsey of Jörg Kantel (also known as Schockwellenreiter) under a Creative Commons licence.
[2] Image courtesy of snow73, also under a Creative Commons licence.

Written by hudsons

July 19, 2009 at 7:37 pm

Klagenfurt

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I’ve recently returned from Klagenfurt in Austria. Although it was mainly work, I did have the chance to try out a few local beers and a couple of restaurants.

I stayed in the new Lindner Seepark Hotel am Worthersee, a plush hotel near the lake.  Most nobable were the spa and the breakfast.  I’m so often disappointed with hotel breakfasts, even at the pricier end you’re served up scramble made with powdered egg, greasy cheap sausages and fruit from a can. Here you’re offered a variety of fresh fruit, meats, fish and cheeses, wonderful bread and eggs cooked to order (scrambled, fried, boiled or as a omelette).

Image: The Lindner Seepark Hotel am Wörthersee

On the first night I ate in the hotel restaurant – sepia spaghetti with grilled steingarneln (some type of prawn that I couldn’t find an exact translation for) – it was tastey, but the portion was so small that I ate the complete bread basket (2 rolls and 2 rye bread slices). Personally I think that the waiting staff should tell you what to expect, particularly if you only order one course.

After our first day’s work at the university we were treated to a wonderful meal at Restaurant Maria Loretta. I chose two courses from the daily specials, so unfortunately they aren’t listed on the website, but the menu does give you a good idea of what’s available. My first dish was Eierschwammerln cooked in a bacon and cream sauce with a dumpling. Eierschwammerln are in season and  seemed to be on offer everywhere.  A quick google search tells me that they are chanterelles (in english), or Pfifferling [1] (in german) – ‘Eierschwammerln‘ seems only to be used in Austria. My second course was a simply grilled fish served with a lemon, a fresh salad and parsley potatoes. The fish wasn’t one I knew, but it looked and tasted like a brown trout. All of the fresh water fish that the restaurant serves are caught locally in the lake and stored live in a big water tank – you just don’t get any fresher. I didn’t have room for dessert, although I was very nearly tempted by the summerberries with icecream and cream. All in all it was a great evening – friendly co-workers, good conversation and friendly professional service staff.

Image: Restaurant Maria Loretta [2]

A reduced group went to eat in town on the second night as some people had flown out already. After a quick visit to the central square to see the statue of St. George and the Dragon we headed to the courtyard of what’s know locally as Zum Pumpe (more correctly as Gastwirtschaft Zum Großglockner). Apparently it’s a bit of an institution in Klagenfurt, but personally I wasn’t too impressed, the beer was good, and I loved the strap line –  “The beeriest beer” – but they didn’t offer anything for the non-beer drinkers among us, and the service was pretty rude.  The goulash, which it’s also known for, looked pretty impressive but with a waitress like the one we had we didn’t want to hang about!

Image: The Dragon                                                           Image: Beer at Zum Pumpe

A short walk took us to Bierhaus Augustin, not dissimilar in look and feel to Zum Pumpe but bigger and a great deal friendlier.  We shared a selection of smaller plates as a starter – a kind of austrian tapas. These included “Schweinbratenbrot mit Kren, Senf und Gurken”, “Erdäpfel paniert in Nussbrösel mit grünem Salat und Joghurtdressing” and “Ausgelöste Klachlsuppe” – in order: “rye bread with sliced pork, horseradish, mustard and gerkins”, “green salad with potatoes cooked in buttered breadcrumbs” and a “pig’s trotter soup”. The soup was good, it was made with pot-barley and was seemed quite like a soupier version of a stew my mum used to make; the potatoes were nothing to write home about; but I loved the bread and pork. So often it’s the simplest things that taste the best. The pork was marbled with fat, and thinly sliced; it melted in the mouth. But it was the quality of the bread and the horseradish that made it into something special. At first I thought there were shavings of cheese on top, but the first mouthful and the explosion of horseradish in my mouth, nose and eyes quickly reminded me of just how pungent fresh horseradish can be. My main course was “Zanderfilet in Knoblauchbutter auf Mangold-Blattspinatgemüse und Petersilerdäpfel” (a steak of pike-perch with chard, spinach, garlic and parsley potatoes ). Another dish from the specials list, it was perfectly cooked – still moist but with a crisp skin – and the garlic, chard and spinach complemented it perfectly. Accompanied by a couple of local beers and some interesting discussions about how languages are taught in school, and the urge that we all have to clear our plates made it a great night out. The evening ended with a (passable, but not great) whisky sour in the hotel bar.

Klagenfurt itself is a beuatifult town that I’d like to go back to sometime. The people were friendly, the beer and food good and the surroundings beautiful.  If I hadn’t been in a meeting room for two days I would have hired a bike and cycled around the area.  I did find a spare hour to swin in the lake at the Stadt Strandbad though, which I highly recommend – clear warm water and a large grassed to laze the day away.

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[1] Whilst googling eierschwammerln, I also found this german phrase, which kind-of tickled me: er kümmert sich keinen Pfifferling um seine Kinder = he “doesn’t give a fig” or “couldn’t care less” about his children

[2] Photo courtesy of Anita from Klagenfurt, via a Creative Commons license.

Written by hudsons

July 14, 2009 at 7:54 pm

Watercress auf deutsche

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A very quick/short post to say that “I found watercress in Berlin!”

I love watercress. In the UK you can buy it in every supermarket and at most markets. It makes a peppery addition to a salad (that rucola/rocket just can’t replace) and a wonderful soup.

The stockists are the bio-ladies at the end of the Türkenmarkt on the Ufer side, near to the coffee stand / caribbean food/ ufaFabrik backerei – you can’t miss them; they have their prices strung up on a washing line. They only have small amounts though, so no soup…

For those of you looking for it elsewhere, it’s called Brunnenkresse (or Wasserkresse, although I’ve looked for this and not found it). It’s rare here because it neds to be grown in fairly fast running water, Berlin has a lot of water, but not much of it moves very quickly.

Written by hudsons

July 6, 2009 at 1:43 pm

€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 architectureinberlin.wordpress.com). 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.

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[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

Rose syrup

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I’ve been planning to try out a cake with a rose syrup for sometime, and I thought I had the perfect sponge recipe to try it with. An almond and yoghurt based sponge, which seemed to have the middle eastern connotations that matched the rose water I planned to use.

Unfortunatley, despite it looking beautiful, the sponge was just too heavy.  I’ll try it again with a lighter one – probably the one I base the Hudson’s Lemon Drizzle Cake on, as I know it works really well.

The syrup was a great success though, so I  thought I’d include the recipe here.  Last night I tried a splash of it topped up with sparking water and ice; I loved it, but my parter, who tells me “rose isn’t a flavour, it’s a flower” isn’t so keen!

The syrup was made up a as I went along, so the quantities here are rough.

Ingredients

150ml water
175g sugar
juice of 1 lemon
8 cardamom pods
1 tsp rose water
dried rose petals
sprig of lemon verbena leaves (or you could use lemon zest)

Crush the cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar and place them in a pan with the sugar and water.  Heat gently until the sugar is dissolved, stir occasionally to help it along. Add the verbena leaves and the rose petals and leave on a low heat (no bubbles) for 5 minutes for the flavours to infuse. Take off the heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes.  Strain to remove the cardamom, petals and leaves (I use a paper coffee filter in a funnel for this). Add the lemon juice and rose water to taste – I was aiming for something that reminded me of turkish delight.

Store in a jar or glass bottle in the fridge, sterilise the bottle if you want to keep it for some time.

Use to flavour drinks, drizzle over ice cream, moisten cakes, etc.

I made holes in the two sponges with a skewer and drizzled the syrup over. I then sandwiched them together with turkish rose jam.  It’s topped with a simple lemon icing (sieved icing sugar + lemon juice), a sprinkling of rose petals and a couple of lemon verbena leaves.

Written by hudsons

July 3, 2009 at 6:19 pm