Weekend in Baden-Baden

Last Friday we went to visit Eugen and Sandra in Baden-Baden. We went to the Auberge in Neuhauesel, our favorite flammkuechen restaurant in Alsace, just a few minutes on the other side of the Rhine. Of course we started with simple classic flammkuechen – very thin crust, creme fraiche, bacon lardons, and onion. Then….then….I ate Kermit’s cousins! I have wanted to try frog legs for the longest time, but they only serve them in winter. In summer, there are just too many guests at the restaurant, and not enough time to fry ’em up. These were served with a garlic butter sauce.

For dessert, we had a (small) sweet flammkuechen, with apple and flaming cognac. I guess that is why it is called a tarte flambee?

On Saturday morning, Milo had the fabulous idea to go to the Cafe Koenig in downtown Baden-Baden for a hot cocoa.  If you come visit me, I promise to take you there.

Unless you don’t like chocolate. In that case I will take you out for some frog legs.

Blondies for Mom

Happy Birthday Mom!

I baked you some blondies! Well, at least I think they’re blondies. And they are delicious, I took the liberty of eating some for you as well. Good thing I bake half recipes.

Here’s the (half) recipe, for future reference:

Sift together 1&1/3 C Flour, 1&1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt.  In another bowl, smush together 1/3 C soft butter and 8 oz brown sugar. Add an egg to the butter/sugar and mix well. Because I only had one egg, and technically for the half recipe you need one and a half eggs, I added a splash of butter milk. Then add 1/2 tsp vanilla and a half package of choco-chips and mix it up. Then add in the flour mixture a bit at a time and mix it up. Put it in a dish and bake at 350 F for about 20 minutes.

If want to make the whole recipe, you can find it here at one of my favorite baking blogs. But be warned – Bakerella’s recipes and photos might make you drool.

Roasted almonds- take two

I told you last week about my very toasty attempt at roasted almonds. Well I tried it again tonight, and they turned out much better. I made both rosemary-sea salt and mixed-spiced varieties. 

Rosemary- sea salt almonds

For the rosemary almonds, I used a mortar and pestle to crush up 1 Tbs rosemary, 1 tsp  sea salt, and a tabelspoon of olive oil. I think that helped the rosemary infuse into the oil. I stirred that into a cup of almonds, and roasted for only 10 minutes this time. Crunchy and very rosemary and delicious.

Spice roasted almonds

For the spiced almonds (which quite frankly are not spicy) I bashed up 1/4 tsp each: coriander, cumin, sea salt, along with 1.5 tsp paprika and 1/2 tsp chili flakes, and 1 Tbs olive oil. I coated 1 cup of almonds and baked also for 10 minutes, however because the oven was quite warm for the second batch, they turned out a bit toastier. These are good, but I think not as special as the rosemary almonds. I will keep experimenting and let you know if I find any awesome recipes here.

PS: Almonds are healthy!

A few new things

This week we tried a few new things.

Friday night was Gambas al Ajillo (which isn’t really new, but was courtesy of our new freezer!) and rucola salad. To drink was Care Tinto Roble, Syrah/Tempranillo 2010. Really quite good for a seven buck wine, but I liked it best right after we opened the bottle, before it “opened up”.

On Saturday, Milo made Chicken Yakatori from our Japanese cookbook Everyday Harumi. They turned out awesome! Much much better than our attempt at Karaage (Japanese fried chicken).

Over the weekend I made chai concentrate, to make my own Chai Lattes. This recipe is a winner. Its a brew of black tea, ginger, cinnamon sticks, cardamom, clove, star anise, nutmeg, and ground black pepper. Steep for 20 minutes, strain out the spices, add some sweetener and it’s done! I used half the sugar because I don’t like my chai too sweet. Instead of honey I used agave nectar, because the honey we have on hand is rather chunky, and I thought the agave would dissolve into the liquid better. Plus, agave nectar is a NEW ingredient. Instead of loose black tea I just used the standard tea bags (the kind I use for iced tea) and it was fine. The recipe made enough concentrate for five lattes, so I froze the leftovers in dixie cups and have been enjoying chai lattes all week! Just pop in a pot with an equal amount of milk and heat up and voila! You can find the recipe on the tasty kitchen website.

I also roasted almonds with rosemary and sea salt. No picture here because we ate them before I remembered to snap one. I know probably everyone has made these before, but they were a first for me. One cup almonds, 1 Tbs olive oil, 1 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary, sea salt, roast at 325 F for about 15 minutes. But I actually think they were done after 12 minutes or so. They were on the darker side of toasty and if I let them go much longer I think they would have burned. How long do you roast your almonds for and at what temperature?

So that’s what was new this week in our kitchen. Anybody else make something new?



So last weekend we finally got a freezer!  And then Milo asked “OK, we now that we have a freezer…what do we put in it?” Good question, considering we have lived over two years without a freezer. We aren’t used to shopping for frozen things, unless we plan to eat them within a day. I have been plotting to get a freezer since last spring, because my big plan was to have a prolific basil garden, make lots of pesto in the summer, and freeze it to use in the winter. Unfortunately my basil plants did great for the first few weeks and then wimped out. My other big plan was to make freezer jam from the amazing strawberries that we were going to pick in June. That was foiled by the E.Coli outbreak which pretty much discouraged any fresh fruit or veg for several months last summer.

So now with a freezer in the kitchen, we decided to go shopping. We went to a wholesale Mediterranean grocer in Cologne with a nice selection of fish, meat, and cheese. We got some huge shrimps from the fish monger, and some awesome pecorino, chevre, and hard provolone (which we obviously did not freeze). I also just have to say, I had the best espresso macchiato I have ever tasted- served in a dixie cup and complementary because we were shopping (I suspect the fish mongers brother was the barrista). Milo froze half the olive ciabbatta, which turned out to be awesome, because one night we were just too tired to cook. We heated up some gigantes (beans) and toasted up the ciabatta for a quick little bite which made me so happy 1) because it was delicious and 2) because we used the freezer! woohoo for new appliances!

Fish sticks here we come! (just kidding…probably)

Note to self: Mare Atlantico Delikatessen, Marktstrasse 10, Cologne


Happy New Year!

Happy new year!

Well, this past week was full of new foods which I consider a very good start to our goal of something new each week in 2012.

Last week Milo made Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken) and Japanese cucumber salad, and I made Thai glutinous rice. The cucumber salad was the star of the evening. Milo sliced it on a mandoline, salted it, pressed out the extra water, and dressed it with rice vinegar, mirin, and soy sauce. Crunchy, refreshing, and delicious! A fun spin on one of my favorite veggies. Plus, it complemented the chicken well, which was tasty but much to our disappointment did not taste particularly Japanese. Next time we will probably use more ginger and garlic.

Japanese Cucumber salad and Karaage

The purple rice on the other hand, did not match well with the chicken or the cucumbers, but it was fun to try. It turned out nothing like the fluffy, coconutty, sticky rice I imagined. It was very whole-grainish and not really glutinous at all. I cooked it with some water and a small can of coconut milk, per the recipe I found online. It wasn’t a total disaster, but I wouldn’t recommend it for a date or business lunch- it turned my mouth purple. PURPLE.

Thai glutinous rice cooking on the stove

On New Year’s Eve Eve, we drove south to visit our friends in Baden-Baden. We stopped off along the way in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse to do a little shopping, which included picking up some gold medal winning Saumagen to bring to the party. This is a sort of regional sausage specialty. I will leave it at that, I am not sure you want to know more. And if you do, there is google.

I was bummed when we arrived at our favorite Flammkuechen (Tarte Flambe) restaurant in Neuhauesel, Alsace and it was closed. But it was OK, we ended up at La Gondola in Baden-Baden and there I tried something new: swordfish carpaccio. Wow! And the minestrone was fantastic too. That was perhaps the healthiest Italian dinner I have ever eaten–and super delicious too!

Eugen and Sandra had a potluck dinner party for New Year’s Eve, and that was the jackpot of new things for me, highlights were: Leberkaese with sweet mustard from Bavaria (could be compared to a meatloaf), smoked mozzerella curds (similar to the mountain cheese we had in Poland), raw kohlrabi as a crudite, and mascarpone-gorgonzola dolce layered cheese from France. I probably would have eaten all of it, except I was fighting with a cold and trying to keep my cheese consumption to a minimum. That’s probably for the best…

Happy New Year!