Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday Tales: Daily Food of a Consultant

This week started out back in Frechen. We went to a freshly opened bio restaurant which served tomato rice with chicken and a salad (on the left). The rice and the chicken were covered in flowery salt and the salad was made with mandarins, walnuts and beetroot.
Tuesday was pasta day. I had some pasta with meat which was unfortunately overcooked and not very tasty. Lessons learned on Wednesday when I had fish with asparagus and potato salad. Interesting was that the potato salad was made with mayonnaise. Even if mayonnaise does not belong in a real potato salad, the furniture store, where we had it, made it taste still acceptable ;) and I enjoyed it.

Source: http://moviewriternyu.wordpress.com
I came home on Thursday just to go instantly to a picnic with our friends on the Main river in Frankfurt. What you see here was the tasty cupcake which I got from our friends in exchange for some beers. We enjoyed it while watching the sun go down at the river beach.
Our unhealthy weekend started on Friday which we organized as our cinema day this week. This led to a meal inside the movie theater where I enjoyed a chicken burger and some fries.
The fatty (but tasty) sin weekend continued on Saturday when we were invited to a game night playing charade and werewolf (which is a game, originally called  Mafia).
Mafia (Russian: Ма́фия, also known as Werewolf, Assassin, Witch Hunt, Palermo Nights or Pirates) is a party game created in the USSR by Dimitry Davidoff in 1986, modelling a battle between an informed minority (the mafia) and an uninformed majority (the townspeople). Players are secretly assigned roles: either mafia, who know each other; or townspeople, who know only the number of mafia amongst them. In the game's night phase the mafia covertly "murder" a townsperson. During the day phase, all of the surviving players debate the identities of the mafia and vote to eliminate a suspect. Play continues until all of the mafia have been eliminated, or until the mafia outnumber the townspeople. If you want to know more: Mafia
Of course this game made us very hungry... and we had to order a party pizza from around the corner.
The tasty udon noudle soup on Sunday was the successfull conclusion of our week and weekend and accompanied our Sunday quiet night to save up and have new power for the next week.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Empanadas Stuffed with Rice and Ground Beef

Use egg white to get a golden brown (unlike us)

We were inspired to make these after our trip to Sofia, Bulgaria where we ate them (or something quite similar) at a cool place called the Apartment Bar. They turned out really well and we will definitely be making them, or a version of them, again!

About 20 medium empanadas:

250 g flour
1 Tsp baking powder
1/2  Tsp salt
6 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, diced
150 g mushrooms, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1300 g ground beef (or ground beef/pork mixture)
2 Tbs milk
150 ml lukewarm water
2 carrots, grated
1/2 zucchini grated
1 cup rice (dry), cooked
(one egg white, optional)

Mix the flour and baking powder. Add the salt, 4 Tbs of the olive oil, and 150 ml lukewarm water. Mi together so everything sticks and makes a nice dough. Knead the dough until smooth. If you would like, place the dough in the fridge to make it easier to roll out later.

Cook the garlic and onion over medium heat in 1 Tbs olive oil.  Add the ground beef and let cook. Once almost cooked through, add the mushrooms, zucchini, and carrot.

Cook everything well and drain or cook off the excess liquid. During this time you can also cook the rice.

Roll out the dough and make circles or use an empanada press (we have them and it makes it a lot easier!).

Add the rice to the meat/veggie mixture and season as needed. We used lots of salt, pepper, basil, oregano, cumin.

At this time, preheat the oven to 200 C (390 F)

Place a spoonful in each circle of dough, fold over and seal.

~ Optional: Use an egg white to help seal the pockets and also brush the top of each empanada. This will make them turn a nice brown in the oven. We skipped this part since we were only making them for ourselves.~

Bake each tray of empanadas for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.

This recipe was loosely based off of a recipe by Heimwerkerkönig ...loosely being key here.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tuesday Tales: Daily Food of a Consultant

Source: http://www.potjebier.nl/bier.asp?action=view&id=867

A turbulent working week in the Netherlands is over and here is what I had to eat:
Monday was enriched with another club sandwich with chips. The entertaining part here was not the food but the beer I had during the meal. The beer is called wieckse which is in German a pretty bad word and made us laugh. Curious what it means? - Translate wichse from German into English :).

My last meals in the Netherlands were a hotdog with two sausages on Tuesday and some salad with egg on Wednesday. After driving to Frankfurt home early this week I cooked for her and myself an awesome Schnitzel with Spätzle and mushroom sauce on Thursday.

We invited all our friends to watch a 3D movie on Friday night. For that we made homemade pizza and nachos with cheese. On top some sweet and spicy tomato sauce and topped off with some Crème fraîche.

Just before going out to our billiard night on Saturday we made one of my favorite meals. Spaghetti Aglio Olio with baguette and shrimps. Unfortunately, the garlic smell did not help us win too much but we did get taught how to throw darts properly. Our Australien friend showed us the hadouken way of dart throwing. I think we had some extra power due to our garlic Aglio Olio breath...

Sunday was experimental day which meant that we made some empanadas with a rice and ground beef filling. We first tasted these pockets with raspberry wine in Bulgaria. If you ever travel to Sofia, make sure to visit the Apartment Bar which offers the pockets with some tasty wine and a very good atmosphere. Our recipe will follow soon!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Paella - Our First Try

We have been talking about trying to make our own paella since we were in Spain two years ago but never got around to trying it. This past week he decided to give it a go. We don't have the proper paella pan but were still able to make it. The result: good but not great paella and the decision that it is worth trying again another time.

Four portions (or more):

2 EL (also Tbs) olive oil
400 g chicken breast
2 onions
1 clove garlic
2 red bell peppers (we used zucchini instead)
150 g rice
0.75 l vegetable broth
150 g peas
200 g squid (in rings)
200 g muscles
200 g shrimp
1 EL (also Tbs) tomato paste
1/2 EL (also Tbs) sweet paprika
2 pinches of fine saffron
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 200 C (390 F).

Cover the bottom of a pan with olive oil. Place in the oven until the oil is very hot. Cut the chicken breasts into small pieces, season with salt and pepper and place them in the pan. Bake for about five minutes or until mostly cooked through. During this time cut up the onion, garlic and bell pepper.

Remove the chicken (set aside) and add the cut up vegetables to the pan. Also add the rice, vegetable broth and saffron. Bake for about 25 minutes.

After 25 minutes add back the chicken along with the sliced vegetables, tomato paste, peas, and seafood (we used less than the recipe asked for because it was already so much food!) Mix with the rice and season with salt, pepper, and sweet paprika.  Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until you feel it is finished.

Serve alone or with bread. We enjoyed the taste but our rice did not get crispy on top like it is when served in Spain. Perhaps we used too much vegetable broth or not enough rice because it was quite soupy.

Even though it was not one of our more successful means, it is always good to mix it up a little and bringing a little Spain into our house was a nice break from German and American food!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tuesday Tales: Daily Food of a Consultant

This week Monday started up with a sandwich and salad. I bought these due to the reason that I have already tried nearly every meal here in the hotel we have been staying in.

Tuesday was burger day. I had a delicious beef burger with fried onions and little glasses of ketchup and mayonaise. Pretty silly in my eyes to give guests such a tiny amount in such a little glass - let's hope they refill it :D.

We went to a little restaurant in Best on Wednesday. I had mushroom pasta which was not really worth taking a picture of. Instead, I want to show you this traditional dutch shoe which is called Klompen. Inside you see some mints. After overcoming the fear of the look (they looked like urinal cakes) we tried them.

Thursday was "try something new" day. I had some m&ms which tasted like carrot cake. Not a lot to talk about because they did not really taste good. But this might be due to my love for real carrot cake... I get one every year for my birthday so this is really not easy to please me with an artificial carrot cake taste.

Friday was Spaghetti day at home. Some vegetables and tomatoe sauce makes a good and tasty dinner.

We got invited to a birthday on Saturday. Here you see the Italien buffet we arrived to. Really good and tasty!

Sunday ended with takeout sushi after  long drive back to Frankfurt from my hometown Stuttgart.

Not the most exciting week when it comes from food. I guess even the Netherlands gets boring when you have been in the same town over and over again for some weeks!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Tastes of Sofia, Bulgaria

We like looking at the sites, wandering the streets, and trying to see cities as the locals do. We love visiting the food halls, exploring the grocery stores, and eating eating eating. That was how we spent most of time when we were in Sofia, Bulgaria for four days over Easter.

We didn't get pictures of everything and unfortunately we did not take notes on what anything was called, but here is some of the wonderful (and ridiculously cheap!) food from our trip.

From top left across and then down and across (click on the picture to see a much larger version):

a. A local Bulgarian beer made right at the pub we were in. A tap comes from the wall for every booth and you pour it yourself. At the end of the night you pay by the number of liters you had. Apparently this type of pub is also common in the Czech Republic but was new to us!

b. Chocolate souffle. No better way to end a delicious meal than tasty chocolate with a liquid lava center. No doubt it was worth the 15 minute wait for it to cook.

c.  We don't know what this appetizer was called but it was amazing! Crispy bread-like stuff with layers of eggplant. As beautiful to look at as tasty to eat.

d. Another tasty appetizer. This looks like brochette but instead of garlic and tomatoes it was diced avocado and tomatoes served with toast.

e. After soooo much eating she could not take much more. She took a small break and ordered this simple salad served in a Parmesan bowl. Yup, that's right, the entire bowl was Parmesan cheese!

f. This picture does not show off the beauty of this dish. The bottom was carved potato, little wheels for the slice of eggplant to sit on. The seasoned ground beef came next followed by the top - a slice of zucchini and melted cheese.

g. The next meal might not look like much but was incredibly tender and juicy. Pork loin served with sweet carrots.

h. These three spreads each had a unique flavor and were eaten with bread (we also spread them on the meatball-type dish we were eating). One was spicy, one was super cheesy, and unfortunately we can't remember the flavor of the last one :(

i. Jalapeno poppers without the spice. Instead of jalapeno, this dish consisted of breaded bell pepper filled with a cheesy mix.

j. You can't visit Bulgaria without indulging in wine. This red wine was exactly what we were looking for and made our meal just that much better!

k. Not a food picture but pretty smart and useful - the napkins at this restaurant included useful phrases in English and Bulgarian.

l. Spicy tempura shrimp. The deliciousness is pretty self-explanatory.

m. A lot like cevapcici, some of these "meatballs" were plain while others were stuffed with cheese.

n. Miso soup. Yes, we know this is not Bulgarian, but unfortunately we waited too long to go out to eat our last night in Sofia and the Bulgarian BBQ we had been wanting to try was closed. Only a sushi place was open and we never can say no to sushi!

o. Marinated duck hearts. She was unsure at first when he ordered these but they were really really good (much better than the kidneys on a skewer we had on Valentine's Day). Good thing they gave us lots of these because we devoured them.

p. Sushi. Even Bulgaria makes mean sushi :)

q. We had to take a picture of the beer in the grocery store. Not only does it come in plastic bottles, but in two liter plastic bottles. A little beer to go anyone?

r. Raspberry wine (another specialty of Bulgaria) and pockets filled with a rice mixture. A great snack during a night out. Even cooler than the food may have been the location. This "pub" was a converted apartment and each room had its own style and mood. A very different but neat idea.

s. Ice cream. Three small scoops in three flavors. Mint chocolate chips, Snickers flavored, and we think chocolate but can't remember.

t. Although everything was great this might have been the best thing we ate. An appetizer with lightly cooked (and amazingly seasoned) beef, salad, and fresh Parmesan cheese.

u. Chicken and potatoes. One of these first things we had in Bulgaria and although it was okay, we were happy that the meals kept getting better and better after that.

This is only a little taste (haha, taste!) of what we enjoyed. Other dishes included chicken and cream, chicken noodle soup, cheesy broccoli souffle, fresh brownies, and breakfast pastries. Yum yum yum!

Overall, we definitely recommend the food in Bulgaria. It is cheap, tasty, and every place we visited was extremely clean, modern, and trendy. One of the restaurants even had ipads on each table so you could surf the web while eating (you can be sure that we took pictures of ourselves visiting this blog while eating!) Our only negative? Bulgarians like their food warm (and lukewarm at that), horrible for a person like her who likes her food to be burning her tongue. We read a lot about this before going but really only experienced it at the first place we ate (lukewarm soup anyone? Ekk). We did notice that food came out as it was ready (instead of at the same time for everyone) and did not stay hot for long. You either had to be rude and eat before the other person or eat it cold. Everyone was extremely friendly so I am sure if we had asked for them to wait and bring out everything together they would have. A lesson learned for next time!

Have any of you been to Bulgaria? What was your experience with the food?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tuesday Tales: Daily Food of a Consultant

It is hard to be motivated about what I had to eat this week after so much yumminess in Bulgaria (yes, more on that is still to come, promise) but I will try!

Monday was Team Dinner in Best (that's the town in the Netherlands). We had a few very good appetizers. The one I choose to show you is the carpaccio.

On Tuesday I had some salmon with salad and soup. Due to the reason that I work for a company which has to do with product testing, we got some sweets among other interesting products on Wednesday. We tasted the newest gummy bears, licorice, alcohol free beer and chocolate which was really entertaining and special! *mjum* I felt like I should get a lab coat, goggles, and a clipboard to professionally write down all my taste-testing thoughts.

On Thursday I enjoyed a shrimp salad and a handmade burger from the canteen staff. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the burger but that is okay, only having a picture of the salad makes me feel like I ate at least a little bit healthy ;).

After an enjoyable home office day on Friday I got this tasty meal from her: a couscous and vegetable stir fry - very good and healthy :).

Saturday was Schupfnudel and Linsen (Lentals) day for her but I was not hungry so I ate only some fruit salad...well, until we went out later that night and I could not say no to a tempting döner box. I was too busy eating to take any good pictures, so there is not one for here. Instead the photo is of her meal - cooked and tasted by me so it still counts.

We got back on our normal schedule on Sunday and started to try some new recipes again. Here is one of our meals which was Paella which will be added soon. Not as good as we had in Spain but it was interesting to make it on our own.

I wish you all a good week and stay tuned for soon some new food from Belgium as I continue to travel for work!

Monday, April 8, 2013

What are we living in Bomont? Germany's Tanzverbot

The clock strikes midnight and unlike Cinderella, you still have your pretty dress and glass slippers, but no more ball for you, the dancing must stop. Two days a year, this is what Germany is like.

Tanzverbot (dancing  ban) is a leftover religious practice in Germany where public dancing (go ahead and boogie it up in your house if you want to) must stop at midnight on Good Friday and All Saint's Day. You think it would be just a rumor, that no club would really make everyone stop dancing at midnight, but yes, it is true. A few years ago she was out with some friends on Halloween and at midnight the music stopped and everyone was told that they could stay but that there would be no more dancing. When people tried to keep grooving to the music in their head, bouncers asked them to stop or to leave. This is because clubs can actually be fined if someone checks and they have allowed dancing to continue.

So are we living in Bomont (Footloose reference here, cough cough, if the big picture was not enough)? Or is this just another strange tradition (and cultural mix-up) that shows how powerful the church still is here in Germany.

There must be some small places in the USA that also have a law like this but we haven't found them. Let us know if you have ever lived/visited an area with a ban on dancing!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tuesday Tales: Daily Food of a Consultant

It's time again for the weekly Tuesday Tales - 41 weeks to go :).
This weeks article is partly from the Netherlands and partly from Bulgaria.
It seems the week was not only split into two countries but also two main food topics. The Netherlands was influenced by seafood and Bulgaria was heavy on meat.
Monday was shrimp salad day. It is always entertaining to go into supermarkets in different countries, so I went and had a look for "ready"-fresh food. It seems that the Netherlands is very advanced in this area. One can choose from a variety of fresh salads with fish, meat or any kind of vegetable, to wraps and noodle salads and "homemade" cakes. The whole bandwidth of food a consultant is craving for while traveling :).

Tuesday  continued with fish. This time raw salmon with vegetables and some rolls which made up a light lunch. This trend continued on Wednesday when I had a smoked salmon with salad and cocktail sauce from the local (Swedish) furniture store...haha, you can guess where that was! We were actually used as guinea pigs and "had" to try this meal as one of the first customers. We were even asked to fill out a form to rate it. Five out of five (yes, it was that good!).

I drove home on Thursday and arrived just two hours before going to Frankfurt Hahn for an Easter weekend get away (Friday and Monday were public holidays in Germany). For this reason we had some (delicious) takeout sushi from our local neighborhood delivery guys. Including her favorite egg things (brown egg packets of rice) that I don't know the name of.
After our flight to Bulgaria on Friday morning and a full day of looking at the city of Sofia, we ended up in a local restaurant eating this delicious appetizer. It was some kind of carpaccio but not - well, it was delicious and the amazing Bulgarian wine supported the taste even more.
After the free Sofia walking tour, which we really enjoyed, we ended up in a restaurant called Fancy. She ordered a nacho/taco starter of eggplant pieces and received this impressive tower which was built with crispy slices alternated with a cold vegetable filling. Only his marinaded duck hearts could top this (but they looked way less impressive than this edible artwork).
On our last day in Sofia we followed the advice of a colleague of hers and visited a local known restaurant to try different foods. We had various sauces with meat filled with cheese which was really good. This was only topped by her desert at night which was a souffle filled with chocolate and vanilla ice cream. I don't want to give away all of the tasty food adventures we had in Sofia because we will write all about the different types of food we had in one of our following entries. So stay tuned and keep on following our weekly entries.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Mix-Up Monday: The Upside of Small Countries

We just got back to Germany after a lovely long weekend in Sofia, Bulgaria (The joys of many public holidays in Germany, including both Good Friday and Easter Monday.).  We ate and ate and ate (much more to come on that in a future entry) and with happy tummies we boarded the plane back to Frankfurt. Although traveling is tiring, weekends like this make us appreciate the benefits of living in Europe where a two hour drive can take you to a new country and a two hour flight can take you across the continent.

With that said, we leave you with two pictures we found online that really put it into perspective.



Now we are off to unpack, prepare for the rest of the work week, and take a breather!

We hope you enjoyed your Easter weekend!