Friday, August 29, 2008

Chicken in Masaman Curry

I no longer have to go to the Thai restaurants down the street every couple of weeks or so. The place is good, but a little over priced and lacking in atmosphere. (Really, that has been my experience with many Thai restaurants.) Now, I simply satisfy my spicy craving by making a pot of curry at home.

I wish I could say that I've found a wonderful, authentic way to make my own curry. But that's not true. And let's be serious. If my method required grinding and toasting a lot of exotic spices, it would still be easier to go out.

Instead I found a brand of curry paste that I really like. It's made by a Thai company called Aroy-D. Right now I'm using the Masaman curry paste, which contains shallots, dried red chilies, garlic, lemon grass, salt, galangal, and coriander seeds. The company also sells red curry, green curry, and panang curry paste.

Here's my easy recipe for chicken in Masaman Curry. I serve it over rice. The whole thing is done in the 32 minutes that it takes to cook one cup of brown rice. If you're in a hurry, you can pull it together in the 17 minutes that a pot of white rice takes.

1/2 onion
1 red pepper
1 carrot
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons curry paste
2 chicken breasts
1 can coconut milk
1 medium-sized potato
1/2 cup bean sprouts
2 scallions or 1/2 cup cilantro*

Thinly slice onion from root to tip. Cut the red pepper into one-inch long slices. Julienne the carrot by making thin slices along the bias, and then thinly slice those pieces.

Use a pan that has at least two or three inch sides. Over a medium high flame cook the onions in olive oil. When the onions begin to turn translucent, add the red pepper and carrots. Sauté for another few minutes. Add curry paste and cook for a few minutes while mixing in the vegetables.

Thinly slice the chicken breasts and add to the pan. Immediately add the coconut milk, plus one can of water. Stir the coconut milk until all of the solids disappear. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Peel potato and slice into rounds. Add to the pot.

Simmer until the potatoes are cooked through, approximately 20 minutes. Slice scallions or chop cilantro. Just before serving, stir in the bean spouts. Serve over rice. Garnish with scallions or cilantro.

* Cilantro is more authentic then scallions. If you or someone you're cooking for doesn't like cilantro, use scallions to garnish instead.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My New Favorite Kitchen Toy Is...

A big fridge!

Well, it's not big by American standards. The one I had in my tiny NYC apartment was still bigger. But, compared to the dorm-size one I've lived with for the past ten months, it's a monster.

To celebrate: Cold beverages. Next up? A bottle of ketchup. A condiment that never before rated the amount of space it required.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Eating Up Ireland

I was in Ireland for three days and am amused to announce that I had potatoes with every meal except one.

I found my full Irish breakfast. It totally hit the spot after a year of German Frühstücken* In Germany, breakfast in restaurants or hotels consist of muesli with yogurt, dark bread, and a variety of cold cuts and cheese. The full Irish breakfast consisted of fried eggs; sausages; two kinds of pudding, including a piece of blood pudding; beans; potatoes; and toast. I forgot to bring my camera to breakfast, but I've downloaded someone else's photo and posted it as the "Wurst of the Week" on Uberall.

Other meals on the trip included roasted chicken with mashed potatoes, fish and chips, and (my favorite) beef and Guinness pie. Kevin's favorite meal was a hearty bowl of Irish stew.

* Frühstücken is the German verb "to eat breakfast."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

In Search of an Irish Breakfast...

...And what every other delicacies strike my fancy. Salmon? Soda bread? Corn beef and cabbage?

I'm leaving for Dublin in the morning with nothing but a carry-on. That means no blogging until I get back! But expect some interesting food posts next week.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Over the weekend I made four mini fruit tarts,* which only used half of my pastry dough recipe. The other half I wrapped in plastic and stuck in the freezer for a later use.Later came sooner, and yesterday I decided to treat Kevin to one of his favorite desserts: a chocolate peanut butter tart. Well, I actually made chocolate peanut butter tartlets, since I didn't have enough dough made to cover an entire pie pan. I think they were even cuter this way!

1/2 basic pastry dough
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup cream cheese
1 tablespoons sugar
4 ounces dark chocolate
2 tablespoons cream
1/2 cup roasted peanuts

Preheat over to 375. Roll out pastry dough and divide among four four-inch round tart pans. Cover each tart shell with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minuets. Remove from refrigerator, poke the bottom of the tart shells a few times with a fork, cover with aluminum foil, and fill with pie weights.* Bake tarts for 10 minutes. Remove pie weights and foil. Bake for another 3 minutes.

Place peanut butter, cream cheese, and sugar in a bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat ingredients together until creamy. Set a side.

Create a double boiler by placing a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Add chocolate to the bowl and allow to melt. Whisk in cream and remove from heat.

To assemble the tarts, remove tart shells from the pans. Pour one tablespoon of chocolate into each tart shell. Gently swirl chocolate around to coat the bottom and sides of the pastry. Divide the peanut butter mixture evenly among each tart. Spread to make even. Top the peanut butter with chopped peanuts. Drizzle the remaining chocolate over the top of each tart. Refrigerate until chocolate sets.

* I'll post the super easy recipe for that one soon. I promise.
** No need to invest in pie weights. I use dried beans. The same quart of black-eyed peas has been cooked over and over again for almost ten years.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

No Joke Artichoke

Years ago I tried cooking artichokes. It was a huge disaster. They were under — over — cooked, with tough outer leaves and an interior full of hairy choke. Discussing. Honestly, one of the worst things I've ever made.

How did the first people to eat them even guess that they might be editable? After that incident I avoided the intimidating food. The only artichokes to cross my kitchen's threshold were marinated and canned.

The problem is, Kevin LOVES the spiky veggies. He always points them out at the market, reminding me how much he likes them. Usually, I ignore his comments. Or try to distract him by point out how good the peaches look. But this week, I surprised even myself, asking for a bunch of baby artichokes along with my usual carrots and peas.

Once I got them home, I was determined to have a better experience then last time. To start, I cut off the point tips of the leaves. Picking off the outer leaves, I was overwhelmed by what was discarded before coming to something that I deemed as potentially food.

At this point I should have tossed them with lemon juice to keep them from oxidizing. But, being new to artichoking, I didn't know that yet. Next, I quartered them and removed the choke with a pairing knife.

To cook the artichokes lightly sautéed them with some olive oil, onions, and garlic. Then I added about a cup of chicken stock and let them braise for 20 minutes or so. To the braising liquid I also added a few left over chickpeas, some cherry tomatoes cut in half, and the leftover chicken from Sunday's bird.

When the artichokes looked soft, I thickened the liquid with some butter. This would make a wonderful pasta sauce, but since I was out of pasta, I poured everything over a plate of bugler.

It was an unexpectedly delicious meal: very light, but satisfying. Best of all, it made me want to cook artichokes again. I still didn't remove enough of the tough outer leaves, but it was certainly an improvement from my last attempt. The artichokes permeated the broth with a deep, earthy flavor and paired will with the chicken, chickpeas, and tomatoes.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Roasted Beet Salad

Simple. Elegant. Delicious. This roasted beet salad is always a huge hit in my house.4 beets
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces aged goat cheese
1 handful mesclun greens
1 tablespoon walnut oil
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
Salt and pepper

Preheat over to 375 degrees. Peel beets, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, and wrap individually in a piece of foil. Place beets in the oven and roast until soft all the way through. About 1 hour.

Remove beets from oven. Divide greens between four plates. When beets are cool enough to handle, slice each beets vertically into quarter-inch rounds. Place one beet on top of each place, allowing it to fan out a bit.

Cut goat cheese into rounds. Place one piece of cheese between each slice of beet. Drizzle with walnut oil, and top with salt, pepper, and walnuts.

Serve at room slightly warm or at room temperature.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Does anyone know where to get a great burger in German?

Last night Kevin and I went to the Irish Pub in Bad Godesburg. It's the only place we know of to get a burger in Deutschland. The burgers there aren't bad. They certainly satisfied us. But we could still use another place as well.

This spring we tried to get a burger at one of the beer gardens on the Rhine. The menu advertised that they had all sorts of "burgers." The list probably included 10 different variations. Kevin ordered the Italian burger, which came on a chibata roll with mozzarella, basil, and tomato. The problem was, when the "burger" arrived, the only think on the roll was tomato, mozzarella, and basil.

Since then, we shy of trying these typical American sandwiches.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Eggplant Parma-Lasagna: The Recipe

Oops, I forgot to post this recipe yesterday as promised. But, after finishing up the leftover for lunch today I was reminded how good it really was and wanted to make sure I share it.

1 eggplant
1 egg
1 cup breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cup tomato sauce
2 cups cooked pasta such as campanelle, fusilli, or rotini
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated cheese mozzarella*
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut eggplant into cubes. Place cubes in a colander in a bowl and toss with salt. Set eggplant aside for at least half and hour. Rinse eggplant and dry it a clean dishtowel.

In a medium sized bowl, lightly beat an egg. Add eggplant to bowl and toss to coat each cube. Remove eggplant, leaving the excess egg. Place eggplant in a bowl with breadcrumbs and toss to coat.

Preheat a frying pan. Add olive oil and then place breaded eggplant cubes into the pan. Discard excess breadcrumbs. Sauté eggplant until it is light golden brown on all sides. Remove from pan and allow to drain on a paper-towel lined plate.

In a large bowl add eggplant, pasta, tomato sauce, ricotta cheese, and half of the mozzarella. Toss to thoroughly combine all ingredients, and then place in a nine-inch square-baking dish. Top with the additional mozzarella.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until the top is brown.

* Gouda is what I used this week, but if I were making this dish from specifically, I'd go for the traditional lasagna fixing.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Eggplant Parma-Lasagna

What do you do when you have an eggplant, leftover noodles, and half a containers of ricotta sitting in the fridge? You make eggplant parma-lasagna of course!

Okay, yesterday's creation is really more like eggplant parma-baked ziti — since I used bell-shaped pasta — but that name doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

I have to give my friend Michael partial credit for this dish. He recently told me about an order of eggplant Parmesan he ate in which the eggplant was cut into cubes rather then rounds before being breaded and fried.

This application was actually a huge time-saver. Instead of dunking each piece into the egg then coating with breadcrumbs, I simply poured the egg over the cut up eggplant. I then dropped all of those pieces into the bowl of breadcrumbs, tossed everything around, and dropped them into a pan to quickly sautéed the cubes in olive oil. Instead of flipping each one individually, I shook the pan around a few times, cooking each cube until it was golden brown all over.

For the first time every, assembling the eggplant was easy-peasy!

Making use of my leftovers, I mixed the cooked eggplant, precooked pasta, and ricotta with a tomato sauce that I quickly whipped up. Since I didn't have any mozzarella on hand, I used grated Gouda instead. The whole mess was dropped into a baking pan, covered it with foil, and baked it for 35 minutes at 375. Then I removed the foil and cooked for a few more minutes.

The results were fantastic. Next time I might even plan to make this dish!

(I'll post the official recipe later today!)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Baked Fries

I'll admit it. I love fries. But, they are not something that I ever make at home. Instead I have a solution. A solution that I sometimes think is better then the real deal, and way better then frozen fries from the grocery store.

Here's how you too can make amazing baked fries at home:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cut your potatoes into long sticks
3. Toss with olive oil; figure one-half to one tablespoon per potato
4. Place potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet
5. Sprinkle with salt
6. Bake until potatoes are lightly browned about 15 minutes
7. Remove pan from oven and flip fries with spatula, returning them to a single layer
8. Return to oven and back until they are golden brown on both sides, about another 10 minuets

Serve hot.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Chicken Breast Stuffed With Dried Fruit

Here's one of my favorite ways to cook chicken breast. The key is to ask the butcher to give you two chicken breasts that have been butterflied — meaning that they are removed from the bone, but the two breasts are still attached in the middle.

The sweet/savory stuffing helps to keep the breast from drying out during cooking. Feel free to change the fruit depending on your tastes and what's in the house. I love using figs or dried cranberries in this recipe as well.

1/2 onion
1 rib celery
4 dried apricots
3 prunes
2 tablespoons raisins
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 chicken breasts, removed from the bone but still attached to each other
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper

Preheat the over to 400 degrees.

Mince onion, finely chop the celery, and cut apricots and prunes into small pieces. Place in a bowl. Add raisins and breadcrumbs. Moisten with chicken stock and season with salt and pepper.

Place chicken breast skin side down and remove the tenders from both breasts. Place the tenders between the two breasts where there is less meat. Cover the top of the meat with an even layer of stuffing. Roll up the chicken breasts and ties with butcher's twine. Season with salt and pepper and rub the outside of the breasts with butter.

Place chicken breast in hot oven and cook until the skin is golden browns, about 10 minuets. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue to cook until the meat reads 165 to 170 degrees, which should take about 20 more minutes.

Allow chicken to rest for a few minutes. Slice and serve. This recipe also tastes great served at room temperature, which also makes it a nice item for a buffet or picnic.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

I love shopping at the farmers market. The problem is I always over-spend my budget. This is not because the farmer's market prices being higher then expected though. Because everything looks so good, I have a hard time passing things up.

This week's unexpected market splurge was zucchini blossoms. With their bright yellow flowers that turn almost orange at the tips, I couldn't resist.

For an appetizer on Sunday night, I stuffed them with ricotta and sautéed greens before lightly coating them in egg and corn meal and frying.

There is one caveat to this recipe. I recommend making them when you have an extra set of hands around. I need to call Kevin into action to hold the flowers open while I spooned in the filling.

2 large leaves of Swiss chard
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper
10 zucchini blossoms
1 egg
1/2 cup corn meal
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Remove the center rib of the Swiss chard and cut leaves in half. Stack the leaves on top of each other and roll width-wise. Thinly slice the roll of chard, to form thin ribbons. Finely dice onion and mince garlic.

In a preheated frying pan add olive oil, onion, and garlic. Sauté until onion become translucent. Add chard and season with salt and pepper. Cook chard until it is wilted and about half of its original volume. Allow it to cool slightly, and then place in a small bowl. Mix in ricotta and Parmesan cheese.

Open the top of each zucchini blossom and spoon in 1 tablespoon of filling. Twist the end of each blossom closed.

Light beat the egg in a small bowl. Add corn meal to a second bowl. Dip each stuffed blossom into the egg, then into the coat with corn meal.

In a cast iron frying pan, heat vegetable oil. Add zucchini blossoms, working in batches to avoid over crowding the pan. Cook on one side until golden brown, about two minutes, then flip and cook on the other side or one or two more minutes.

Drain on a plate lined with a paper towel, and sever piping hot.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Soggy Salad

Well, despite my big plans yesterday morning, I didn't make Chinese food for dinner last night. I met a friend for lunch and she had a hankering for some lo mien. So, after fried noodles with chicken for lunch, I wasn't in the mood for more of the same flavors for dinner.

Last week on NPR's The Splendid Table, Lynne Rossetto Kasper talked about a salad that she made using stale bread. In it, you soak the bread in water. The idea is that the pre-moistened bread will then sop up your vinaigrette. I had heard about this use of stale bread before, and figure that it was high time I gave it a try for my self.

I didn't use the recipe posted on her Web site. This was probably a mistake. I thought it said that you soak the bread in 4 cups of water for 30 minutes. That seemed like too long to me. Instead I soaked the bread in water for five or so minutes, as suggested in a recipe for a similar salad on Epicurious. As it turns out, in the Ms. Kasper's recipe you actually only soak the bread in 1/2 cup water and some vinegar. In the bright light of morning, that sounds much better to me.

The problem I had was, once I drained the water, squeezed it out, I was still left with a gross-looking mess of wet bread cubes. Fighting the impulse to abandon the mission, and set about to make the rest of the salad.

I made a dressing by smashing two anchovy fillets into a paste. I then added some mustard, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil. For the salad I cut up some tomatoes, cucumbers, and celery. So far, so good.

Then I added the soggy bread and that's where the salad lost me. It's true that the wet bread soaked up all of the flavor from the vinaigrette, which by the way was great. But, it still has the texture of, well, soggy bread. Not something that I enjoyed at all. I think I'll have to try this recipe again, but this time with the small amount of water suggested in the original recipe. Sometimes my improve works, but other times I should read carefully and follow instructions.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Chinese Feast

I love a theme. So, even though I don't know if I'll watch any of the Olympic Opening Ceremonies, I've decided to cook a Chinese feast for dinner tonight. There is an Asian market near my house* with a nice selection of Chinese, as well as Thai ingredients. This afternoon I plan to go over there and see what strikes my fancy.

For tonight's menu I'm thinking of making pot stickers for an app, then cashew chicken, burnt green beans, and rice. Things may change after my shopping trip, but expect a Chinese recipe to be posted tomorrow.

* The Bad Godesburg Asian market is very light on Japanese ingredients. For the past few weeks I’ve had a craving for frozen edamame. Does anyone know where I can buy it in Germany?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Good Wheat-Free Pie Crust

Today I was speaking with someone who is unable to digest wheat allergy. It had been a while since I've met someone with this food allergy, and I was reminded of how difficult is can be to cook for someone who can't digest gluten.

Therefore I decided to post this recipe for a wheat-free piecrust. Working with the dough can be a bit frustrating, but the results are actually quite delicious. The trick is to use cold ingredients (I even kept the flour in the fridge) and chill the dough twice — once after making it, and again after it has been rolled out.

If you are making the pie for someone who is unable to eat dairy replace the butter with and equal amount of frozen coconut oil. Instead of an egg wash, brush the crust with rice milk.

This recipe makes two 8-inch piecrusts, perfect for a covered pie, such as my apple-cranberry pie.

Gluten-Free Pie Crust

1 cup four blend (see below)
3⁄4 cup arrowroot
1⁄2 cup sweet-rice four
1 tbs + 1 tsp maple sugar
1 tsp xanthan gum
1⁄2 teaspoon guar gum
1⁄2 tsp salt
1⁄2 cup + 2 tbs butter
1⁄4 cup rice milk
Rice four for dusting
1⁄2 egg for egg wash

Flour Blend
1 1⁄2 cup sorghum flour
1 1⁄2 cup cornstarch
1 cup tapioca flour
1⁄2 cup almond flour

Whisk together dry ingredients. Cut in cold butter. Add in milk one tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together. Chill overnight. Roll out top and bottom crusts. Add filling and top crust. Set in freezer for 15 min. Bake for about one hour covered with foil at 350 degrees. Remove foil. Add egg wash. Increase heat to 400 and cook uncovered for about 15 min.

Wheat-Free Apple-Cranberry Pie

Good wheat-free pie crust
3 pounds tart apples
½ lemon
1 cup dried cranberries
¼ cup arrowroot
¼ cup maple sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter

Peel apples, remove the core, and cut into quart-inch slices. (If you aren’t using the apples immediately, place apples in water with the juice of half a lemon until ready to use.) Mix together the apples, the juice of half a lemon, cranberries, arrowroot, maple sugar, and salt. Lay bottom crust into the pan. Pierce the bottom of the crust with a fork. Pour the filling into the pie crust. Cut the butter into small pieces and place on top of the filling. Cover with top crust and crimp the edges. Place the pie in the freezer for at least 15 minutes. Put frozen pie into a 400 degree oven and cook, covered for 40 minutes (until the fruit starts to bubble through the vents in the top crust). Remove crust, brush with egg wash, and continue to cook until the top is a golden brown (about 10 more minutes.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Taco Night

After all my recent blabbing on Uberall about Mexican food and the lack there of, I finally decided to make some tacos at home. Although I generally like to make everything from scratch, there is something about the pre-packaged envelope of taco seasoning that I just can't resist.

Though it's probably the MSG I love, these taco taste to me exactly like what hard-shelled tacos are meant to be. They remind me of taco nights growing up, when my Mom would fill the lazy Susan with diced tomatoes, chopped onions, and grated Cheddar cheese. Later in life I would organize taco nights for my friends. By then I was a little gourmet in my leanings, complimenting the Old El Paso taco meat with homemade guacamole and salsa.

Like smells, certain tastes can bring back so many memories.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Making Bavarian Potato Salad

I don't know if it was my post about what constitutes "German Potato" salad, or if it was simply a great side dish to serve with our Schnitzel, but our Saturday night cooking lessons also included a demo on how to make Bavarian-style potato salad.

Albert and Tina, south German transplants, told me that potato salad with mayonnaise can be found in the northern part of the country. Bavarian-style potato salad, on the other hand, is dressed with vinegar, mustard, oil, and a bit of beef broth.

Until now I've always preferred my potato salad to any other, but this recipe is outstanding! I don't know if its the type of Kressi Herbed vinegar, which is a white wine vinegar spiced with herbs and garden cress,* Maggi Wurze seasoning, or the beef broth that makes it so delicious, but I honestly think this might replace my usual concoction. (Sorry Mom!)

The trick, Tina claims, is to listen to the potato salad. It will speak to you and tell you when it's ready. (I made a video of the sound, and as soon as I can figure out how to edit it, I'll post it for you to hear.)

The recipe is posted below.

* Garden cress is a pepper green related to watercress and mustard greens.

Bavarian Potato Salad

The key to making this salad is getting the right potatoes. In Germany you can purchase Salatkartoffeln (salad potatoes) in most markets. Though salad potatoes are supposedly available in the states, if you can't find them use fresh Jersey potatoes. Jersey potatoes have a great flavor and hold their texture well when boiled.

The measurements in this recipe are all approximations. You may need more or less liquid depending on the potatoes. The trick is to listen to the salad. When gently tossed, it should sound moist without being gloppy.

6 salad or Jersey potatoes
1 onion minced
1/2 cup Kressi or white wine vinegar
1/4 cup sunflower oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Maggi Wurze or 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce*
1/2 cup beef broth
3 tablespoons minced chives
Salt and pepper

Boil potatoes until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside until they are cool enough to handle. Remove potato skins and cut potatoes into thin slices. Place in a large mixing bowl. Add onion, vinegar, oil, mustard, Maggi Wurze or soy sauce, and beef broth. Mix all of the ingredients together. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Mix in chives. Serve warm or room temperature.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Schnitzel Lessons

This weekend Kevin and I received one of the best invitations we've had thus far in Germany.

"Come over on Saturday night," our friends Albert and Tina said. "We want to teach you how to make authentic schnitzel."

Schnitzel is sliced veal, pork, or turkey that is pounded very thin, breaded, and fried. The famed "Weiner Schnitzel" is made of veal — and purists will argue that this is the best way to make it. But we’re not in Austria, so we also prepared pork at the schnitzel factory.*

Kevin was assigned to prepping the eggs and then coating the schnitzel. This came as a wonderful sight for me to behold. The only other cooking I've ever seen him do is assembling peanut butter, banana and honey sandwiches. Turns out, he did a great job and — dare I say it — a natural.

I was on potato-salad duty. This wonderful salad deserves a post all its own, which I’ll write tomorrow.

In the meantime, I wholeheartedly suggest frying up some schnitzel, cracking open a wheat beer, and enjoying a wonderful German supper.

* With the flour, egg, and breadcrumbs lined up and teamwork employed for an assembly-line process, our hosts lovingly call their kitchen "die Fabrik," which is "factory" in German.

How to Make Schnitzel

You can use veal, pork, or even turkey cutlets to make schnitzel.

1 pound of veal, pork, or turkey cutlets
Salt and pepper
3 eggs
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup margarine*

Start by pounding each cutlet with the heal of your hand to approximately half an inch think. Add salt and pepper to both sides of the meat. Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk until the yolk and white are full incorporated. Dip each cutlet into the flour, then into the egg. Place the egg-covered cutlet into the breadcrumbs and fully coat on both sides. Repeat for all of the cutlets.

Preheat a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of margarine and allow to melt. Add one cutlet at a time and cook on the first side until golden brown, about three minutes. Flip and cook until the other side is golden brown as well, another two to three minutes. To speed the process, you can use two of three frying pans in necessary. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place finished schnitzels in the oven on a platter until ready to serve.

Schnitzel should be eaten plain, with a wedge of lemon, or some horseradish sauce.

* Any oil with a high smoking point can be used. The margarine used in this recipe, which is available in Germany, was mixed with butter and gave the schnitzel a wonderful, buttery taste without burning.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Day With No Cooking...

...Was still a day with great food.

Yesterday I caught up with a friend over plates of pasta for lunch in Bad Godesburg. Then, Kevin was in the mood for pizza, so we went to Kratz in Bonn. It's our favorite Sri Lankan-owned, Italian-Indian restaurant with a German name. We had a pie (well, two pies) and a salad.

I may not have had the most balanced diet, but the leisurely company and sunshine (even finishing dinner at 10 pm it was still light out) did my body good!

Friday, August 1, 2008

What's Fast and Easy?

Last night Kevin had something to do shortly after work. This meant we were left to our own devices for dinner. I was fascinated when I saw what each one of us concocted as a "quick and simple dinner" out of what was in the house.

Kevin ate ham, sliced way too thick, on day-old baguette with Swiss cheese and mustard. This was then supplemented (I'm sure) with some tapas while he was out.

I started out think I'd have pasta with olive oil, Parmesan cheese, basil, and chives. Then I though, "Why not sauté and onion and a little garlic." And here's where things started to get more complicated.

Remembering a red pepper in the fridge, so I through that in as well. While rummaging for the pepper I came across the amazing bacon from a market in Belgium. I sliced off a piece, diced it up, and cooked it along with onions, garlic, and pepper. At this point, I realized that I had some great flavor developing on the bottom of the pan, so I deglazed it with sherry, and then threw in a few ladles of the pasta water, turned down the heat, and reduced the liquid while the pasta finished.

Tossing the cooked and drained noodles into the sauce, I still felt like something was missing. If there were any eggs in the house I would have made it into pasta carbonara. Instead I need to think of some other way to give the sauce a little more body. My final moment of inspiration came when I added the last bit of goat cheese from Wednesday's salad.

Without forgetting my original intent, I threw in the herbs and garnished everything with some Parmesan.

It was a fantastic bowl of pasta. It only took as long to prepare as it takes to boil water and cook some noodles. Yet, I realized that there is a huge range in what can be considered a fast and easy meal.