This Week, I’ve Been Mostly Eating…

Summer SaladThis 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.


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This Week, I’ve Been Mostly Eating…

An open SpanakopitaThis 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.


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This Week, I’ve Been Mostly Eating…

20130719_174804This 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
8g salt
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.)


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This Week, I’ve Been Mostly Eating…

DSC_1532Following 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.)

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This Week, I’ve Been Mostly Eating…

DSC_1800…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.


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This Week, I’ve Been Mostly Eating…

DSC_1280We’re catching-up with our normal fare:

Roasted monkfish tails, wrapped in Parma ham and lemon thyme, served with new Charlotte potatoes and lime-and-thyme mayonnaise and salad. A good old flan.

Grilled small peppers, stuffed with a spicy feta cheese spread. Salt and Pepper Squid with Sauce Sirene and a poached egg. Roasted Monkfish tails, wrapped in Parma ham and lemon thyme (the second half of the previous day’s monk fish), seared Sea Bream fillets and spicy fresh water prawns, served with Rouille, roasted fennel puree, stir-fried fresh artichokes and piping hot Focaccia. All brought to a conclusion with nectarine mini-cheesecakes.

Open Spanakopita with edible flowers. Seared filet of venison, served with freshly made potato chips, young courgettes and courgette flowers, and Sauce Béarnaise. A deconstructed, inverted and re-constructed Black Forest Gateaux (a dark chocolate fondant on a disk of boozy cherries and a splash of whipped cream).

Griddled chicken thighs, German potato salad, and (leftover) Sauce Béarnaise.

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This Week, I’ve Been Mostly Eating…

DSC_0644Let me present some of the highlights of the meals enjoyed on Rarotonga:

Ika Mata, a salad from raw fish (wahoo), dressed with coconut, lime and chillies (shown on the left). A delicious but delicate balance of sweetness from the coconut, sharpness from the lime and heat from the chillies.

Yellowfin tuna (‘Ahi’ tuna), sashimi-style (raw, with a splash of soy sauce and wasabi), seared on the outside but raw on the inside, using the BBQ or a buttered pan, and enjoyed with lime mayonnaise, salad and bread, or enjoyed in several variations of sandwiches at Captain Moko’s Fishing Charters. If you like to eat your fish on terra firma, there is no way you could ever have Yellowfin Tuna any fresher, any more delicious, any where.

Mahi-mahi, as part of sandwiches at Captain Moko’s Fishing Charters. Sadly, we were unable to buy unprepared Mahi-mahi to try our luck cooking it ourselves. Maybe we should have gone out in a boat and caught our own, but the sea outside the reef was, hmmm, lively… Next time.

The most note-worthy non-fish meal was a bargain purchase at the supermarket: a deep-frozen pack labelled “Goat Carcass, $12.95.” It held what the label said: one nice slice of leg, a generous loin chop, and various less identifiable bits (including, I think, a piece of neck and one piece of belly), some with severe frostbite. We seared the nicer parts (leg steak, loin chop) on the BBQ and enjoyed them with salad and bread – very nice.

The other goat pieces went into a simple stew, enjoyed by Bailey, the elderly and very grateful dog at our residence, and the raw cut-offs were enjoyed by the cat. Oh, and left-over bread went to the free-roaming chickens, and all remaining food scraps was collected for the pigs.

Let it not be said that we only looked after ourselves!

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This Week, I’ve Been Mostly Eating…

2011-04-23 882This week, I’ve been mostly eating decent food again. The long Easter weekend and house visitors both motivate:

Lamb kebabs with Tzatziki and pita bread. The breads didn’t rise quite as nicely as Paul Hollywood’s, but I shouldn’t have experimented both with Pita bread and an unknown flour at the same time. I blame the Kamut flour, of course.

Pizza and Pudim Flan for the boys (them), but it turned out that these children are accustomed to bland food and can’t cope with a moderately spicy sausage. Oh well. They were hungry so did a good job eating, and they did manage to eat the puddings.

Tarte Flambe. Lamb chops in a herb crust, served with Skordalia, a Greek potato mash, a fresh cheese filo cigar, artichokes and Swiss chard, concluded with an apple Tarte Tatin. I aimed to impress my visitors on this occasion, but never made or even sampled Skordalia before. It seemed like a nice thing to try out when I saw it on the television, but I didn’t like it. Too heavy, too oily.

Sicilian-style (heavily fennel-infused) meat balls with Spaghetti Pomodoro. This simple dish worked out well, I think.

Salt and pepper squid, served with Guacamole, Sauce Sirene and griddled sourdough bread. Our visitors were out for the night, so we temporarily lifted the an on fish and seafood for the night.


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This Week, I’ve Been Mostly Eating…

DSC_1805OK, it’s been a while. I’m pretty sure that posting will be on and off over the next couple of months, but I shall make an effort due to in-house demand at the W7 headquarters. So, let me pick out some of the nicer meals since the time of the last report in the middle of March:

Sirloin steak, fried in rosemary olive oil, served with chipped potatoes, caramelized onions, garlic and herb butter and lambs lettuce. A little Crème Brulee to round off the evening. Ah, so simple, so delicious.

Filet of Venison, served with potato mash and a ragout of leaks. Red meat again, I know, but I can’t resist a venison filet when I can get it. It’s so lean, tasty, tender – just perfect.

Salt and pepper squid with Sauce Sirene and a poached egg. Seared fillet of Sea Bream, served with a roasted fennel paste, fettuccine and clams. Iles Flottantes. This dish ranks very high on my list right now (except that these particular clams weren’t very nice). However, nothing beats this:

A lunch-time Steak Tartare with griddled sourdough bread and a bowl of fresh salad. A meal fit for anyone’s any carnivore’s special day for sure.

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This Week, I’ve Been Mostly Eating…

DSC_1202This week, I’ve been mostly eating a small slice of bread in the first half of the week, on account of an upset stomach, a general sense of weakness and a mild fever. Norovirus or not, I’m OK again. So, only a few meals from the second half of this week, but all the heart-warming welcome-home sort:

A pretty complicated and elaborate roasted chicken soup (depicted here, from an earlier occasion).

Pancakes, filled with spicy mince meat, and enjoyed with plenty of green salad.

A dish of quick paella.


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This Week, I’ve Been Mostly Eating…

DSC_0015This week, I’ve been mostly eating sandwiches, salads and other in-room meals. Hardly the finest of fine dining, I know. The highlights from my in-room culinary low-lights and the occasional outing to a restaurant or a private invitation are here:

Lemon Chicken with dried cranberries, green beans and lemon rice – nice. Aqui’s Cal-mex cuisine, Willow Glen, a reliable provider of affordable, quick and tasty meals.

A lovely smoked Salmon and crab tartare, followed by so-so seared scallops served with faro and kale. Nick’s Next Door, Los Gatos.

American-sized beef and chicken kebabs – delicious, but each kebab sufficient to feed a family of four. (private invitation)

US-style lunch time salad fit to feed a very hungry man for the remainder of the day – I did not take any other meal in the remainder of that day! (Brewer’s Cob salad at the Rock Bottom Brewery, the Pruneyard, Campbell)


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This Week, I’ve Been Mostly Eating…

DSC_1567This week, I’ve been mostly eating home-cooked real food before buggering off to California again.

Farfalle with freshly made italian-esque fennel sausage, cherry tomatoes, roasted courgettes, mushrooms and buffalo Mozzarella – nice, but the old problem with Farfalle doesn’t go away with time: they look nice but are a pain to cook, on account of the fact that the tie knot remains more than al dente, or the wings aren’t al dente enough any more by the time the knot is perfect.

A seared duck breast, served with a parsnip and potato mash and leek ragout, followed by our good old friend, the Pudim Flan.

Lambs’ lettuce, followed by braised lamb shanks with a rich thyme jus, crushed potatoes, and more of the lovely pudim flan.

Over in California, I had the questionable pleasure of steak frites at the Rock Bottom Brewery, Campbell, which “they” called differently and served on a remarkably greasy plate, and the unquestioned pleasure of Pork Pad Kee Mao at Sweet Mango, Willow Glen. En route, an acceptable lasagne, a pretty disagreeable mid-flight hot snack and a laughably tiny breakfast / lunch prior to arrival in San Francisco, courtesy of Virgin Atlantic.

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