Friday, September 30, 2011

Cinnamon Scones

When it comes to reading we are about as opposite as two people can get. Except for reading the daily news, geeky tech pages and researching (you know, that tiny detail that you need to do when writing a master's thesis) he avoids reading books at all costs. I, on the other hand, have a Kindle (plug for Kindle here...seriously, most amazing thing ever, buy one!) always by her side and goes through a minimum of two books a week. It turns out that books (or at least the books I read) seem to always involve characters cooking or eating...especially frustrating when reading at the gym trying to work off all those calories from what I do eat.

Sometimes, no matter how much I try to resist I can't and I find myself lusting after whatever food is mentioned in the book. That is what happened this time. The characters were making and eating scones and I decided I had to have a scone right then and there (totally random since I have never made scones and haven't eaten one in at least a year).

Unfortunately, sometimes cravings sound like a great idea but just do not taste great in real life. That is what happened to me. So, while my cooking partner was taking a nap, I gave in and made cinnamon scones (no chocolate chips, raisins, or blueberries in the apartment). The recipe was quick but nothing really went my way and the final product was good but not amazing. I still recommend the recipe (I think a major part of my problem was trying to half the recipe) but if you have your own suggestion for a twist please let me know!

Originally, I thought I would add nuts for crunch but forgot to. Oops!
The original full recipe goes like this:
3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons cinnamon
3/4 cup butter
1 egg
1 cup milk
Small amount of brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). 

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon (If you like cinnamon I would add much more!) and salt. 

After  butter is cut in

Cut in butter. Mix the egg, vanilla and milk in a small bowl, and stir into flour mixture until moistened. 

Turn dough out onto a slightly floured surface, and knead briefly. Roll dough out into a 1/2 inch thick round. Cut into 8 wedges, and place on the prepared baking sheet. 

[I then used the rest of my egg (from only making half of the recipe) to brush the top of each scone and sprinkled a small amount of brown sugar on top.]

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. 

Finished product. Not the most beautiful thing I have ever made.

I ran into problems when it was time to roll out the dough. My dough was incredibly moist and sticky and I added at least another cup of flour trying to get it under control. In the end I got everything in the oven and the final result was tasty but not flakey (given the extra cup of flour no real big surprise there). Guess that just means I will have to make them again another day and try to improve :)

My boyfriend suggested to add some vanilla ice cream on the top of theses warm thingys - he says - it's nearly as good as German Apfelkuchen - without the softness and ... without the apples ;-P

Tuna Cream

A common meal in our house is tuna cream. It is quick to make, good for lunch or dinner, and a cold dish for when we feel like we have been eating too many warm meals.It is also super simple so no matter how tired we are (or grumpy I am when I have not been fed recently enough) it can be made and served in a very short time (15 minutes) and before any true grouchiness can break out (although, I am never actually grouchy so poo! ;) )

Oops. The onion did not make it into this picture!
We love veggies and we add them to almost everything we make. Our tuna cream usually ends up being a little tuna with a lot of other stuff. This time we used onions, bell peppers, tomatoes and a handful of corn. Cut up all the vegetables rather small, mix them with tuna, add a generous amount of mayo, and lots of seasonings such as basil, pepper, salt (we use this stuff when translated is something like tomato spice mix which has a lot of salt plus other stuff in it), a little rosemary, and oregano. Then finally, the secret to it all is a teaspoon of sugar and a tiny squirt of vinegar (such as apple vinegar - but lemon works also). 

We give this a good mix, stuff a bell pepper with it and serve it on a bed of lettuce. Add a little bit of olive oil and balsamic so the lettuce isn't boring and serve it with rolls (preferably not burnt, except for this time the roll maker *cough cough* got a little distracted by his computer and forgot all about them).

Num num num. I can feel the grumps going away just looking at it

Quick and tasty meal, and if you are willing to take a minute to plate it nicely, it looks pretty cute for salad :)

Oh, and for the Americans out there. I would call this tuna salad (it is tuna salad for goodness sakes!) but the German won and we now use the term  tuna cream in our apartment.

This tuna CREME (he reminds me) :) is the American version by the way - my boyfriend does it slightly differently and a bit more unhealthy... (but very mjumy too - he adds): mix salt, pepper, chopped up bell pepper and a lot of mayonnaise. He rounds out the spread or if you wish bread dip with vinegar or lemon juice.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011


For the past year I have been hearing about this thing called Okonomiyaki. Apparently, if my boyfriend has anything to say about it, it is totally delicious, really yummy, sooo good, and also would be the perfect business venture (although let me tell you, just because we got around to making this stuff does not mean a business venture will be following anytime soon!)
                                    (-add in from him - ... yes it will follow and he'll be rich ;))

I never really understood what Okonomiyaki was, so as a good girlfriend I nodded a lot and said something to the effect of, yeah that sounds really good.

Apparently, the best part of Okonomiyaki is the sauce and while we were in California this past summer we were able to find it at an Asian grocery store in my hometown. So, with the sauce safely back in Germany and a lot of leftovers in the fridge which would be perfect for Okonomiyaki, we got down to business and I was taught what this stuff is all about. If you are worried now about the sauce - don't! - It can be easily found all over the world in Asian markets or if not cheaply through the internet... There is also a possibility to make the sauce by yourself - perhaps a recipe for the future :)

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese dish which (to the untrained eye --- aka me) is a mix between an omelet and a frittata. It starts with a base made of:
Adding water to get the right consistency (thick - but not too thick!)

400 g flour
10 g baking powder
4 eggs
~ 300 ml warm water

Mix all of these ingredients together, adding enough water that the batter is at a similar consistency as if you were making  pancakes.

Pour into a small pan so that the pancake is very thick

Pour into a small oiled pan already heated on a high temperature. It is important that you use a small pan so that the pancake becomes thick and there is space to mix your ingredients in later.

Cabbage to bind the pancake

To the batter add lots of chopped up cabbage and any other ingredients that you think would be tasty. Stripes or squared will do (This binds the pancake together and keeps it strong --> if you figured out the perfect consistency between batter and cabbage you don't need the small pan anymore - but for the first try - we suggest sticking to a small pan).

Tasty fillers - what to use is up to you

We used mushrooms, onion (duh!), corn, bell pepper, pickles, bamboo shoots, sprouts, and a little leftover stir fry from dinner the previous night. Other common additions for Okonomiyaki includes: Fish, ham, shrimp, and other common vegetables (broccoli, peas, carrots). Another possibility is to add Japanese noodles which would be the Hiroshima-style (a recipe can be found here).

Add your desired ingredients to the pancake and stir (enough that it is mixed in but not so much that your bottom crust is ruined). At this point you may want to lower the temperature so not to burn the outside of the pancake.

Start with a small pan, and then move to a larger pan to finish cooking

Once you are able to comfortably lift up the side of the Okonomiyaki without it falling apart it is time to flip it. We cheated and used a second, larger pan, for this. We flipped the Okonomiyaki into the new already heated and oiled pan and continued to cook it for another five or so minutes until it was fully cooked through.

Serve with a generous amount of mayo  and Okonomiyaki sauce (grid form tastes best!). It may look small but believe us when we say that this is a full meal. Both of us were stuffed after only eating one!

My thoughts? I am glad to finally try this famous dish I have heard so much about and I got to admit, it is pretty dang delicious.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hamburgers with Homemade Fries and Buns

A free Sunday at home missing our time in America was the perfect chance to make some hamburgers. No buns in the apartment and no stores open we decided to go all out and make our own hamburger buns and while making the perfect American meal, why not add fries to complete it?

We started off with the buns since they need plenty of time to rise.

The recipe we used called for:
170 ml water
1 el yeast
40 g butter
 ~ 500 g flour
40 g sugar
1 TL salt
1 egg

Mix all the dry ingredients together (yeast included). Add butter and egg and mix. Then slowly add the water. The dough should become sticky but slowly move away from the edges (thanks to the oh so tastiness and greasiness of butter!) Take dough out and work it with your hands. Then put it in a bowl, cover with a towel, and leave it somewhere warm for one hour. We tried first the bathroom but then changed to under the oven in a drawer :).

During this time we prepared the potatoes. Cut potatoes (we usually peel them but somehow we misplaced our peeler and were too lazy to do it with a knife). Make long and reasonably thin strips (depending on how long you want to wait for them to cook). Put in bowel with a small (tiny!) amount of oil and a generous amount of salt. Mix and spread on a baking sheet. Bake 45 minutes to over an hour on 225 turning every so often.

During the fry cooking time you can prepare your buns out of the risen dough. Get rid of the air in the dough by kneading for a bit. Form small balls (smaller than you think you need since they will rise so much)
and put them on a baking sheet. Put back in a warm area for another 30-45 minutes.

While we waited for the hamburger buns to finish rising we prepared the meat and toppings for our hamburgers. Originally, we thought it would be fun to make sliders (tiny burgers) but our buns turned out to be gigantic so we doubled up our tiny patties. We also added some salt, pepper, onion and garlic (nom nom nom --> onion and garlic lovers!) to the meat.

For toppings we sliced up pickles, hot peppers, lettuce, and onions (one can never have too many (if you can't tell by the 5 kg onion bag!).
By this time our buns were ready to cook at 175 for about 15 minutes. Fries were just finishing up (crisp on the outside, soft on the inside!) and stayed in the over during this time. Patties and onions were cooked on the stove.
After another 15 minutes everything was ready. American style burgers with fresh homemade buns and crispy fries to boot!
We needed about 2 hours for the whole meal... if you want to reduce your time significantly buy some buns... but we recommend making them - its so much more fun :).

Cocoa Cookies

So, the other day I found myself making chocolate cookies with no real chocolate in the apartment. I did find one package of powdered cocoa from Italy (meant to be mixed with warm water and drank as thick hot chocolate or to dip churros into). How I found myself in this situation? It went something like this...

Us: (Laying on the couch, watching tv and relaxing).
Him: Mmmm... I want cookies
Me: Yeah? (Very comfortable under blanket with actual no plan to get up).
Him: Mmm...cookies
Me: What type of cookies?
Him: Chocolate cookies. Could you make chocolate cookies?
Me: (Still not planning to get up but starting to also have an urge for cookies). I don't know, do we have the stuff for cookies?
Him: I don't know. Can you make fast cookies?
Me: I don't know, really? You want chocolate cookies, quickly, now?
Him: Sad face :(
Me: (Off the couch in 2.2 seconds and making quick cookies with cocoa). it went something like that, which is how I ended up with a recipe that calls for cocoa instead of bakers chocolate (and only takes about 10 minutes to make and 15 minutes to bake).

Cocoa Cookies
1/2 c shortening or butter (120 ml)
1 c sugar (240 ml)
2 eggs
1/2 c (120 ml) baking cocoa (or if you are me, as much as a random package of cocoa from Italy has in it)
2 c flour (500 ml)
1 tsp baking soda (1 teeloeffel)
1/2 tsp salt (halber teeloeffel)

In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar. add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. beat in vanilla. combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture.
Roll into 1-1/2-in. (~2 cm) balls. Place 2 in. (3-4 cm) apart (far apart! these puppies grew and grew and grew some more!!) on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degr
ees F (170 grad Celsius) for 13-16 minutes or until set.

Although spur of the moment they turned out quite delicious. Serve with a cup of coffee and ta-da. Happy boyfriend, tasty snack, and allowance to curl back on the couch and relax again.

One day later these buddies are quite hard... nevertheless very awesome to eat (and veeery bad for your weight :p). But if you want your "Subway cookie softness" back... just put them in the microwave for few seconds and they are softly delicious again!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Burritos with Homemade Tortillas

Hi there!
We are a couple living in Germany and we love to cook and even more
important: we loove to eat...! :)
We cook everything from salad to steak (which is very expensive here), from super Germanstyle (for him) to super Americanstyle (for her) long as we can find a way to fit some mjummy onions or delicious
garlic in it, the world is fine.
We thought it was time to put our recipes down in writing along with some photos. To begin we made burritos, starting with homemade tortillas.

For the tortillas we used:
4 Tbs Oil
300 gFlour
2 tsp Salt
150 ml Water
A bit more is also no problem due to the law that the first one never succeeds - our first tortilla got a V.I.P. place in the organic waste bag ;)
Having a tortilla press is also very handy if you know how to use it!

Mix the ingredients and kneed the dough until it is no longer sticky.

It should be able to easily be rolled into a ball such as this...

Let the ball of dough sit for 15-20 minutes while you prepare the ingredients for inside the burritos.

We used ground beef,
onion, bell pepper, corn, beans, tomato, and lettuce.

We cooked everything until it is soft and the ground beef was fully brown. We also added a ton of spices like basil, pepper, salt, and oregano.

While the insides are cooking it is time to press the dough.

A tortilla press is the easiest way to get round tortillas.

Because the press is so small, we like to start with the press and then use a rolling pin to
get thinner and larger tortillas. Don't worry if the tortilla dough is a bit sulkily and always tries to go back to his original position and size... we also fought with this problem. Our solution was to keep the dough next to the pan and throw the tortilla in as fast as possible. Making the tortilla bigger than you think it should be is also an awesome solution!

Cook the tortillas on a high heat with no oil. It
only takes about 2-3 minutes to brown on each side.

White wine, sour cream, hot peppers, and Mexican Cholula sauce complete the meal.

Enjoy the awesomeness of Mexico :P