A Culinary Discovery
14 December 2010
Some of my friends have been complaining (and rightly so) that there haven’t been any news on my page for a while. I’ve been working quite a bit, hopping between different ice rinks to find the best practice conditions, and studying hard for a Japanese language proficiency test, which was held at the beginning of December. Since the test is over now (I won’t know whether I passed until end of February, though) I decided that now it is really about time to post something new.
So here it is: probably the shortest, simplest and quickest (though not the cheapest…) recipe I’ve posted so far. It really requires hardly any cooking skills – I just came across this great idea and found the result quite amazing.
Actually it all started with Simon’s idea to have some fresh tagliatelle with butter and truffles for dinner. Simple to make, but really a culinary delight. So he went to the market with his quest to find the best truffles in town…
Not only did he come back with a lovely white truffle, but the Italian market lady had also given him a little extra something – two raw eggs, which she put into the same small plastic bag as the truffle. The bag should rest in the fridge over night, she’d said, and the eggs would take on the taste of the truffle.
I’d never heard about this trick before, but indeed it worked! We fried the eggs as a starter and were really thrilled at the striking intensity of the flavour. What a wonderful way to make best use of a truffle before slicing it up for the main course!
Truffled Fried Eggs
|1 white truffle|
|some butter for frying|
|pepper and salt|
suggestion to go with:
|cold-pressed olive oil|
|special reserve balsamic vinegar|
|some oil for frying|
|pepper and salt|
Put the raw eggs together with the truffles into a thin plastic bag and leave it in the fridge for a day.
Take out the eggs and fry them sunny-side-up in a bit of butter. Season with a bit of salt and some freshly ground pepper only.
To go with I can suggest some courgettes, thinly sliced and gently salted, then briefly sautéed with a bit of garlic in a dash of cooking oil. Season with some good cold-pressed olive oil and reserve balsamic vinegar and refine with some freshly ground pepper to your liking.
Use the truffle for the main course!!
Earth Meets Sea
25 August 2010
The combination of mushrooms and seafood is not really the most likely one. But though the flavour of prawns tasting of the freshness of the sea is admittedly a far cry from the somewhat musty, earthy flavour of porcini reminding of a cool forest, I find the couple does really well together, particularly when merged into a creamy sauce. Or maybe it is the very difference of the two that makes this composition so interesting?
The icing on the cake then was a little dash of lemon-flavoured olive oil, which we have recently bought – guess where – at Viktualienmarkt. In fact the olives are pressed together with unpeeled lemons of the same groves, giving the oil an exquisit flavour of lemon zest – a flavour that certainly goes well with both fish and mushrooms.
Porcini & Prawn Cream Tagliatelle
|300g mushrooms (champignons)|
|250g king prawns, peeled (net weight)|
|5 or 6 spring onions|
|a hand full of fresh chives, finely chopped|
|150ml crème fraîche|
|1 teaspoon of café de paris spice mixture (or some mild curry mixture)|
|a dash of lemon-zest flavoured olive oil (alternatively: virgin olive oil plus some freshly grated lemon zest)|
|salt and pepper|
|some oil for frying|
Finely slice the spring onions and lightly sweat in a little bit of oil in a deep-ish frying pan. Clean the porcini and the mushrooms, chop and sauté with the spring onions for 5-10 minutes, stirring regularly. Season with salt and a teaspoon of some very mild curry mixture (like café de paris), and stir in half of the crème fraîche. Cover with a lid and keep at low heat for another 10 minutes or so (the porcini and mushrooms should be soft but have some bite left in the centre).
Don’t forget to prepare the tagliatelle in the meantime!
Shortly before serving, briefly sear the (peeled and cleaned) king prawns using a separate frying pan.Add to the porcini sauce along with the rest of the crème fraîche as well as the (finely chopped) chives. Make sure not to keep cooking too much after that, as the prawns will get chewy and the porcini overcooked (which would be a real shame).
Serve with the pasta and finish with some freshly ground pepper and a dash of lemon-zest flavoured olive oil (or, in absence of that, some virgin olive oil plus some freshly grated lemon zest).
|Suggestions for Starters|
Aubergines at Their Best
30 July 2010
Recently I have fallen in love again with my old favourite vegetable, the aubergine. I admit they sometimes lack taste, but when you can get hold of the really good aromatic ones, for me they can hardly be topped.
I have found such delicacies at one of the stalls at Viktualienmarkt, which offers produce almost exclusively from own production (I have in fact mentioned it before). In winter their range is somewhat limited, but now in summer the offer is so abundand and appetizing...
Their products are all very good, but for me the clear winner (maybe only matched by the tomatoes) are the aubergines. They are not the nicest looking ones – small and somewhat wrinkly and their skin not as shiny – but really unrivalled in tastyness. No wonder I’ve been using them so much lately. For example for this antipasti platter I prepared for a casual evening with some friends:
Aubergines & Courgettes in Pumpkinseed Dressing
|2 small courgettes|
|2 small aubergines|
|40 ml pumpkin seed oil|
|20 ml cold-pressed olive oil|
|20 ml balsamic vinegar|
|2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds|
|2 tablespoons freshly chopped herbs |
(e.g. mixture of parsley, chives, dill)
|salt and pepper|
|some oil for frying|
Cut the aubergines and the courgettes into slices of about ½ cm, salt and let rest for about 30 minutes so the water comes out.
Meanwhile, prepare the dressing by combining pumpkin seed oil, virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Finely chop the herbs and add; crush the toasted pumpkin seeds with pestle and mortar and add, too.
Get back to the vegetables and wipe the water off the surface with a kitchen towel. Heat a little bit of oil in a non-stick frying pan and toast the vegetable slices at medium heat until browned on both sides and soft (though not overcooked). Take out of the pan, spread out on a platter, and spread the dressing on top. Let rest for at least 30 minutes (but can also be prepared well in advance). Serve at room temperature.
|Suggestions for Entrées|
Austrian Food for my Japanese Friends
18 June 2010
Recently three of my Japanese friends came to Germany for a figure skating competition in which we all took part. We all spent a week in the picturesque town of Oberstdorf in southern Germany, and for their first evening I invited my friends over for dinner at my rental apartment with the idea to treat them to some Austrian food.
It has always been a joy to cook for these girls – food is extremely highly valued in Japan, and they are always excited to try regional specialties. And this time again they were totally delighted at the Griessnockerlsuppe (semolina dumpling soup) as a starter, the oven-baked Schinkenfleckerln and the balsamico-dressed salad.
It was the first time I tried to make Schinkenfleckerln, a dish made of pasta and chopped ham, and I have to admit they came out really tasty. I had used some good quality ham and added a lot of nutmeg to the mixture, which gave a very nice touch. The right pasta to use for this – simple little squares of about 1cm – is actually not so common outside Austria, so I used farfalle (the butterflies) instead, which worked out just as fine. With all the cream, butter and eggs it is not exactly the lightest dish, but just so tasty... And after all we were there for a week of intensive sports, so we could really use a good basis...
I kept eating the remainders (of course I had made far too much) bit by bit the following days as a snack here and there, just cold out of the fridge. Simon joined me later that week and got hooked on it, too. We didn't leave a single noodle.
|300g “Fleckerl” pasta (little squares – alternatively take farfalle)|
|300g cooked ham in slices (maybe slightly smoked)|
|1 large onion|
|200ml crème fraîche|
|a hand full of parsley, freshly chopped|
Cook the pasta in salt water. When al dente, drain them well and stir in a bit of butter so they won’t stick, and let cool to room temperature. Pre-heat the oven at 180°C. Butter an oven dish and keep it prepared.
Finely chop the onions and let brown in a frying pan with a bit of butter. Cut the ham into little squares about the same size as the pasta (1-2 cm). In a mixing bowl, combine the butter with some pepper and salt as well as a generous pinch of freshly grated nutmeg and stir until creamy. Add the eggs and the crème fraîche and stir again until light and foamy. Then combine with the ham, the toasted onions, the parsley and the cooked pasta.
Fill the mixture into the prepared oven dish and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes (the top should get just slightly browned). Take out of the oven and let sit for a few minutes before serving.
My tip: The Schinkenfleckerln taste just as yummy the following day(s), warmed up or just cold!