Happy Christmas and happy holidays to everyone!
Curious readers may click here for a PDF version of our 2013 Christmas Menu. We find it funny that Nigel recommends a fish and seafood Christmas in this past Sunday’s Observer, but I assure you that our decision was taken much earlier.
You find recipes for most parts of this meal on our new food site (food.gauweiler.net). The scallops, the mackerel tarte, the parfaits.
Turns out there is only so much time in a day, so this blog is falling wayside a little. Not abandoned just yet, it’s still twitching now and then. Just in case anyone has been wondering what we’ve been up to in the world of vanity digital self-publishing, you might want to check out food.gauweiler.net, a new site of our favourite food, focussed on recipes and the missus’ related photos.
Two buckets full of grapes and a considerable mess later, I am reporting a good harvest and a net result of 3.5 litres of our very own grape juice cordial, 2013 W7 vintage.
Turns out to be delicious, and prompted us for a bit of carpentry work, expanding the shelving in the larder (aka the dressing room, aka the box room).
This week, I’ve been mostly eating squid which, I think, are really cuttlefish, also known as Calamari in Italy or, as it happens in our case, Kalamari in Croatia. We didn’t really plan to eat Kalamari every day, and some of our holiday party ate other fish or even meat dishes at times. However, all in all, I think the party ate Kalamari for supper in at least 75% of all cases.
First, it’s tradition in the family, and something that restores childhood memories.
Second, fresh grilled cuttlefish, served with plenty of garlic and a little parsley, is irresistibly delicious.
Third, when you think a change would be appropriate and one shouldn’t eat grilled Kalamari again, there’s always the fried variety (Kalamari fritti).
And finally, after having eaten fried kalamari on one day, there’s always the grilled variety for the following day…
This week, I’ve been mostly eating a couple of lunch-time quickies:
Thai-style fish cakes, juicy and hot, as a lunch quickie, made from left-over fish from the previous day.
A variety of curries, dosa and kufi ice cream at the London Mela 2014. Super-delicious.
Tomato Chutney Tart on puff pastry. Inspired by John Torode’s Tomato Tart, but made as a lunch-time quickie in an even quicker – an slightly simplified – version.
Fresh sourdough bread with a slow-baked, thyme-infused juicy piece of ham.
These past two weeks, I’ve been mostly eating a diversity:
Genuine white asparagus with pancakes,
Boeuf Bourgignon with steamed potatoes.
A good old steak with salad, rouille, and buttered baby potatos,
Paella (with lovely fresh mussels), and Pudim Flan.
Pan-fried pork chops with sautéed potatoes, pillars of leak in a creamy sauce, followed by a pear Tarte Tatin,
and a large portion of German potato salad with pan-fried breaded filet of coley and fresh cucumber salad.
Pan-fried pork chops with sautéed potatoes and minted fresh peas,
Lazy Chicken with too much lemon juice, sage-infused fettuccine and home-grown courgettes,
Spaghetti Pesto with garden salad,
A roast chicken soup with poached egg and warm sourdough bread (picture),
And a meal for friends, starting with fresh Laugenbretzeln for a welcome, a feta mousse with garden salad for a starter, a pan-fried fillet of Sea Bass with crispy skin on top of a fresh artichoke and croutons stir-fry, served with a roasted fennel puree and rouille for a main course, and mini nectarine cheesecakes for pudding.
This week, I’ve been mostly eating Italian-esque food and other forms of pasta:
A light summer pizza with plenty of fresh tomatoes, fresh herbs and mozzarella.
Pasta with fresh tomatoes, fresh basil and home-made Sicilian sausage.
German pasta salad and pan-fried breaded pork chops, with home-made Laugenbretzeln. We also enjoyed a delicious watermelon sorbet.
Grilled feta cheese with sourdough bread.
This week, I’ve been eating a pretty nice diet of fairly seasonal things:
A slice of leg of lamb, infused with thyme oil and griddled, served with fresh garden herb salad, minted fresh peas and straight-from-the-oven olive and rosemary sourdough bread.
Fresh white sourdough bread with two spicy feta cheese spreads, a portion of Liptauer, and a large plate of sliced tomatoes.
Steak Tartare with freshly made potato crisps and Greek Salad. Friday celebrations ended with a Pudim Flan, as it should be.
Spaghetti Catalan (fresh garlic, chorizo, tomatoes and leaks in a creamy white wine sauce).
Seared Fillet of Sea Bream and seared scallops, served with a stir-fry from fresh artichokes, garden herb salad and fresh baguette.
This week, I’ve been mostly eating Laugenbretzeln.
It’s true. We are delighted to finally having cracked it, and so is the local mini-community of German expats. The key is quite simply to use the correct lye, not an improvised substitute. It takes proper Bretzellauge (caustic soda) in a solution of 35..40g sodium hydroxide on one litre of water. Everything else is easy-peasy, really:
20g fresh yeast
400g white wheat flour
1 tablespoon of soft butter
225ml water (or replace half the water with milk)
Knead. Knead thoroughly for gluten-rich hearty results, knead quickly for the brioche-like more fluffy variety (the one using milk and water). Form pretzels or rolls right away, then let sit and rise for 10 minutes.
Then on with the goggles and protective gloves, and dip the dough pieces into the lye, simply in and straight out again. Place on a tray and let rise for another 30min, sprinkle with course salt, make small nice cuts and bake at 200C for 20min.
Meanwhile, use a funnel to return the lye to a glass bottle, as you can use it over and over again.
(The picture shows the very first attempt, so please ignore the not so perfect pretzel shape. I’m learning. I’m also still working on the support, baking parchment is less than ideal given that the dough pieces are wet, soaking through the paper.)
- We love soft pretzels! (abeautifulmess.typepad.com)
- Pasta alla Bourbon (annesfood.blogspot.com)
- 30 Minute Homemade Soft Pretzels (kathyleonard1688.wordpress.com)
Following a short but busy trip back to Neustadt, it feels as if we have eaten mostly Pfälzer Küche, and way too much of it. Upon reflection, I think both is true, so here’s the breakdown, in chronologic order:
A delicious Pfälzer Platte, featuring Bratwurst, Leberknödel, Saumagen, Sauerkraut and bread (prepared by a friend).
A somewhat questionable meal at Noel’s Restaurant. I had a watery and unremarkable salad with one scallop and a seared fillet of Red Mullet for starters (both scallop and fish were lovely), followed by a not-so-juicy veal saddle steak with girolle mushrooms, accompanied by a dried-out artichoke ravioli. Not bad, but a bit of a shame considering the amount of work which went into this; a classic case of high ambitions not accomplished. The pudding was delicious though: a sorbet of Mirabelle, served in Riesling Sekt. Ah, I wish I could source Mirabelle here in London!
More straight-forward fare on the following day: Pfälzer Spiessbraten with various side salads, and way too much cake.
Finally, at the Trifelsblickhütte, a Handkäs’. Ah, the simple yet smelly things, how delightful.
(The picture shows some of my own ravioli in the making.)
…oh, nothing much, with the Missus away, hands and bags full of work, and us having been in the theatre rather than entertaining guests on the weekend. Some of this goes a little further back:
A freshly made and piping-hot Focaccia. Salt-and-pepper squid with a seared scallop and Sauce Vierge, one of my favourites. Fillet of Roe deer, pommes dauphinoise, green beans and Sauce Béarnaise. American-style mini strawberry cheesecakes.
Crispy chicken thighs, pan-grilled in thyme, served with a German potato salad and a Thyme-infused mayonnaise.
A light omelette, filled with green asparagus, topped with smoked salmon, and accompanied by freshly made crispy crisps.
Braised Venison shanks in natural gravy, served with egg Fettuccine.
Well, OK. we’ve eaten worse.