29. September 2006

bite me!

this expression is a bit vulgar in english, isn't it? calm down, i do not mean to be rude, i just want to invite you to take a bite of my brussels sprouts, butternut squash and potatoes on skewers :) because in german "bite me" is much rather translated to "take a bite of me" or "taste me" - so it actually an invitation rather than an insult.

nicht mal so spießig ...

there you go. i was again very inspired by one of johannas recent posts and i decided to get myself some skewers and enter fall season here in austria with a little remembrance of summer and lovely nights out on the terrace barbecuing with friends. it is still lovely and warm outside, but you certainly can feel that winter is coming around again ... well, at least autumn. the children are passing me on their way to school again when i head for work in the mornings, and university will start again next week.

fall is my favorite season. i kick horse-chestnuts out of my way, i hop and skip a lot everywhere i walk and i even love it if i have to skip over puddles on rainy and misty days. i like to buy new pencils and beautiful moleskine notebooks in september, because fall has always marked a fresh new start for me. i am at university again, so stocking up for a new semester kind of makes sense. but even in the seven years i spent in different offices working for various companies i always got excited in fall. i went out and bought fresh new things for the office almost as if i was starting another semester in school. i am not nearly as excited about spring, you know? and it's not just because i just loooooove the vegetables of fall.

nicht mal so spießig ...

200 g butternut squash
12 brussels sprouts
3 potatoes
oil
rosemary
skewers

01 preheat your oven to 200 °C
02 peel and roughly cut butternut squash into bite size
03 cut each potato in 4 pieces
04 assemble veggies alternately on skewers and place on a baking tray
05 drizzle with oil and sprinkle with rosemary
06 bake for 20-30 minutes
07 serve as a side dish to meat or as a main course with a light yoghurt sauce on the side
nicht mal so spießig ...

25. September 2006

gratinated canneloni casserole

i cleaned up my kitchen cabinets yesterday and i found some really cool pasta my brother brought back from a holiday in italy. i've had it for quite a while now and since it was stuck in the back of the cabinet i completely forgot about it. the pasta is canneloni-style and i always wanted to do something special with it - perhaps an exotic filling or a lavish sauce? well, i never got to be creative on this italian speciality, so i figured i'd just use it for a little twist on a regular dish.

easy sauce
1 onion
1 clove of garlic
8 tomatos
vegetable oil, salt, basil
1 mozzarella

01 cut onion and garnic and fry in a little vegetable oil
02 dice tomatoes and add to the onions and garlic
03 add basil and let simmer on medium heat for about half an hour
04 cook pasta
05 purée sauce with a hand blender
06 align pasta in a casserole and cover with sauce
07 cut mozzarella and arrange on top of the pasta - you can even stuff some into the canneloni if you like
08 put in the oven and roast until the mozzarella has melted

gratinated canneloni casserole gratinated canneloni casserole

gratinated canneloni casserole

the recipe itself is nothing special really, but it sure looks very pretty. aligning the canneloni is a bit of a hassle, but the final dish is totally worth it.

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22. September 2006

the birthday cake

today i want to share another heirloom with you - our classic birthday cake, the beloved käsekuchen. it is a recipe my mother got from her cousin who lived in australia for like 20 years. i have no idea if our recipe has been altered compared to the original from australia and i don't even know if this is a traditional australian thing. it might be american too ...

it is just the best cake ever.
really.
trust me.

and it is a pretty easy and quick recipe. you don't have to bake the cake, just make some room in the fridge!

i remember my mum made me a "regular" cake for my birthday once when i was a teenager and i was terribly disappointed - which mama noticed of course. i did not want to be an ungraceful teeny, but this cake is some sort of a ritual dish at any of our birthdays, and so my mama smilingly sneaked out for groceries and made the cheesecake later that day. she understood. because a birthday without the cheesecake is no birthday.

unser traditioneller 250 g graham crackers (just take plain butterkeks, it's the best!)
125 g melted butter
250 ml cream
250 g curd cheese
1 small can of crushed pineapples, drained (about 300 g)
3 tbsp of vanilla sugar (you can even skip this!)
10 g gelatine

unser traditioneller 01 crumble the crackers in a food processor and pour crumbs in a cake tin.
02 melt butter and mix with the cracker crumbs. press firmly in the tin until the cracker crust is very solid. chill until topping is ready.



unser traditioneller 03 in a bowl, combine cream and curd cheese until smooth, add sugar if you like (though it is not really necessary).
04 fold in the drained crushed pineapples.




unser traditioneller unser traditioneller unser traditioneller unser traditioneller

05 let gelatine soak in a little water for a few minutes. drain exess water and let gelatine dissolve completely over low heat.
06 combine gelatine with the cream and pinapple mixture and quickly pour topping onto the cracker crust.
07 cover the cake and chill for at least 2 hours. (plus, i allowed myself a little *i heart you, mama*-decoration )
08 enjoy!

unser traditioneller

unser traditioneller

best.
cheesecake.
ever.

well, actually i did never try any other recipe. what about your killer cheesecake? do you want to share the recipe with me? i might want to expand the horizons of my cheesecake universe just a tiny little bit ... maybe there even has been a imbb-foodblog challenge for cheesecake recipes in the past ... for there must be a at least thousand different variations of the classic cheesecake ... hm ... worth a thought, don't you think? if i would ever want to host a foodblog event, this would be it!

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18. September 2006

a shepherd's pie situation

getting rid of my leftovers in a creative way is a number one task in my kitchen. so how can i make something nice of a leftover chicken leg from the evening before? here's what i did:

1st layer:
2 tomatos
2 bell peppers
a little teriyaki sauce
1 left over grilled chicken leg

2nd layer:
3 medium potatoes
cream
salt
parsley

01 cut up all the ingredients into tiny pieces, put in a pan an saute until tender
02 add a little teriyaki sauce for taste
03 cook potatoes and mash them
04 add cream and parsley to make smooth mashed potatoes
05 in a little dish first add a layer of the the cooked veggies and chicken
06 top with the mashed potatoes
07 voila, leftovers cooked shepherds pie-style!

a shepherd's pie situation a shepherd's pie situation

its nice to see that i inherited the economic way of cooking my family has practiced for generations. does not taste bad at all and saves a lot of money :)

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17. September 2006

things to eat before you die

it has been going on for quite a while now and i did not expect to get tagged :) but ulrike tagged me! but give me a minute, that one is tricky ...

1.) jambalaya (preferably on location in the gulf coast area of the usa)
2.) white truffles (from piemont, italy)
3.) fried green tomatoes (again preferably on location in the usa)
4.) i could never live without good austrian farmhouse bread. good bread is a substancial part of my diet, it has been my culinary companion for all my life. i could feast on farmhouse bread (fresh from the oven) and plain tap water drawn from the springs of my hometown (freistadt draws its water from waterprotection areas around the town). it is soft, absolutely delicious and i can really tell a difference if i compare it to the tap water here in linz.
5.) there is a "taboo food and drink" section on wikipedia. though i could never eat a cat, a dog or a guinea pig, i have eaten rabbits before as my grandfather was breeding them when i was a little child. i was playing with them, sure, but when they ended up on the dinnertable they where not the fluffy little animals anymore, they where just food. incredibly tasteful food my grandma had prepared for us. i have to admit that the fluffy little rabbits where haunting me and i have not eaten much rabbit ragout anymore since i witnessed by accident that my favorite bunny was being slaughtered when i was like 5 years old. gosh, this is a horrible childhood memory ... but i was going somewhere with this last thing to eat before i die ... call me crazy, but i always wondered what some insects taste like (there even is a a scientific expression for "eating insects"). sure, i'd have to overcome my sense of disgust first but i think i might try one of these fried little buddies. after all, it is rather common to eat them in non-european cultures. try everything at least once, right?

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10. September 2006

pumpkin soup with zucchini (hokkaidokürbissuppe mit zucchini)

my busy life almost made me abandon my nice little dinnertable here on the web ... but today i am taking on the challenge of cooking another thing i have never cooked before: pumpkin! this might even be strange for some austrians as pumpkin (rather pumpkin seed oil) is a culinary speciality of one of our austrian states, styria.

hokkaidokürbissuppe mit zucchini

i don't actually have a recipe for that one. i cut up a medium size pumpkin, i hollowed out the middle part with the seeds. i did not peel it, because you can actually cook and eat the whole thing. i stir-fried rater large chunks of the pumpkin in a little vegetable oil for a moment and later added about 1 1/2 liters of plain water. i let it simmer on medium heat for half an hour. when the chunks were soft enough i mashed the whole thing up with a hand blender. i only added some salt to season to taste. i grated about 1/3 of a zucchini and put it on the soup for garnish, but as i was tasting the soup i figured the zucchini can be mixed in as well. this gives the dish a lovely chunky note and a fine taste too. i also added some creme fin as a garnish on the plate, but if you don't plan on taking pretty pictures for you weblog you can mix in the grated zucchini and the creme during cooking. this would make perfect sense, and if i wasn't so focused on the visual part of a nice picture of my soup i would have done it myself :)

hokkaidokürbissuppe mit zucchini

it might be a bit silly to cook an ingredient for the first time and not use a recipe whatsoever, but i wanted it to taste as pure as possible. i have been making soups of chunky vegetables before so i thought i can benefit from my experiences and handle a pumpkin the same way. it actually pays off to try things your way rather than stick to a recipe in every little detail. well, this is my cooking style (an inherited one ...) after all and while i succeed most of the time things can go terribly wrong if you are too careless. then again, i did not only inherit this style of cooking from my mum and my grandmother, i also inherited a bunch of valuable tricks that come in very very handy if you accidentally screw up a dish. i turned many mishaps in my kitchen into successful meals thanks to the valuable legacy of emergency assistance the ladies in my family passed on to me.

i don't have to be afraid of something getting burned, for example. of course i don't set out to ruin my meals but if i get carried away with other things during cooking (mostly digging around on the internet) i am safe to say that i have some neat tricks to rescue anything burned, too salty, to spicey or whatever. so while my soup was boiling away on the stove i was looking on the internet about the history and botanic classification of my organic food, because i usually like to have a little background of whatever i eat. especially if i cook something for the first time. zucchinis and pumpkins for example are actually in the same plant family (cucurbitaceae). i was pretty surprised to learn that they are considered a fruit and not a vegetable. i guess it's because we usually cook pumpkins and zucchinis in a savory way. in some germanspeaking parts of europe the expression "cucumber-pumpkin" is also common for the zucchini (i have never heard of it though). now that i look at my zucchini it suddenly resembles a pumpkin a lot ... hm, strange ...

see? i can get carried away or i can learn new things about my food durning cooking. some might consider this sloppy, i think it's freestyle and very self-confident. well, i think i am in a pretty talkative (writeative?) mood today and before i ramble on for even more paragraphes i think i should grab the ladle and eat some more of my delicious soup!