Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tuesday Tales: Daily Food of a Consultant

Monday this week was a public holiday in Germany so I got some delicious bacon and a omelet in bed after I woke up. No better way to start a week :)
Tuesday was back to work day and I ordered Thai food from the hotel counter (which they ordered I assume). Really delicious but way too much for me to eat.
Wednesday was noodles day. I had noodles with seafood, even though I could not find it x-).

Coming home from the project this week made me crave for some really basic food. So here it is: home made (frozen and ready made "only put into the oven") bretzels, sausages and a yummy weizenbier.
On Friday we went to a restaurant and there I had a cheeseburger french fries and a very good dip containing cabbage and, I think, yogurt.
Saturday was the Wolkenkratzerfestival in Frankfurt where she experienced the full German program with Nena live (99 red balloons), Otto Waalkes (a very well-known comedian in Germany) and several more acts while having Chinese dinner at a restaurant a five minutes walk way from the festival (and much cheaper than festival food!).
Cooking on Sunday: We made Indian (our own style) curry and bread. The recipe will be published soon! 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Magic in the Middle Cookies

From the King Aurthur Flour site
(But they really do look like this!)
She first made these cookies years and years ago when she was given a King Aurthur Flour cookbook for Christmas. She remembered them being good but for some reason never made them again...until last week. She promised a work colleague cookies so she got online and found the recipe on the King Author Flour website.

Lots of work but delicious and amazes everyone! Her tip to you - next time wait to make these until you have a dough rolling buddy!

Here is the recipe in grams. If you want it in ounces or by volume, visit the recipe online.

Cooke dough:
177 g flour
43 g cocoa powder or unsweetened baking cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
14 tsp salt
99 g sugar (plus some extra for later)
106 g brown sugar
113 g butter (1 stick)
67 g smooth peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 large egg

202 g peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
85 g powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C).

First make the dough. Beat together the sugars, butter, peanut butter, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and egg and beat again.

Next add the flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, and cocoa. Stir together until well blended.

Set aside the dough and next make the peanut butter filling by mixing together the peanut butter and powder sugar.

Flour your hands and roll the peanut butter filling into about 26 one-inch balls (26 must be the perfect number because she made about 30 and had to throw away the last four because she had run out of dough). Set the balls aside and pour some sugar onto a plate or into shallow bowl.

Take about one tablespoon of dough (about walnut size) and make an indentation with your thumb.
Cookie ball with PB


Add one ball of peanut butter filling to the indentation and work the chocolate outside around the peanut butter ball.

Roll in your hands until the peanut butter is completely covered and the dough is a nice ball. Roll in the sugar and place on a lightly greased or parchment paper covered tray.

Once all balls are formed and have been rolled in sugar, flatten the cookies with the bottom of a glass or the palm of your hand until they are about 1/2 inch thick.

See what happens if you are not careful?

If you were careful about covering the peanut butter with the chocolate dough no peanut butter should show through.

Bake for seven to nine minutes or until set and they smell chocolatey.

Let cool on a rack and enjoy!

Forgot to take a picture until the next day at work - not very good :(
These cookies are not very sweet on the outside which makes the peanut butter a perfect match. The peanut butter also offers an unexpected surprise when people bit into them! 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesday Tales: Daily Food of a Consultant

A lot happened this week from Cologne to Grevenbroich, Frankfurt to Belgium. This busy week started on Monday with chicken and leech from the canteen. Due to a furniture fair in Cologne, hotel prices rose up to more than 300 Euro which made us search for cheaper alternatives. My colleague was able to find a hotel about 35 minutes outside of Cologne in a town called Grevenbroich. This town has even its own music video (unfortunately in German but the dull scenes describe exactly how this town is in reality :). 

Nevertheless, the food was very good. We had some Greek food in a very near by Greek restaurant and enjoyed the calm before the storm before going back to Cologne
Back in Cologne I was stuck in "salad time". I had this salad with chicken and vegetables because I could not find any time for "real food."

The time came on Thursday: Kick-Off Event with 58 people, due to my organizing role, I ordered all the food and picked Austrian tapas, and many different Austrian treats. Beside others: prime boiled beef, veal and vegetarian alternatives and tasty deserts. A large contrast to the program on Friday where I had a Schnitzelbrötchen and a Croissant in the office while wrapping up the Kick-Off Event and preparing for the next weeks. The Schnitzelbrötchen just made me ready for the next adventure this week - Belgium!!

On Saturday morning we drove to to Belgium with two cars and six of our friends. We ate lots and lots. Belgium fries, Belgium beer, waffles, and she even had a Mitriette (a sandwich with meat patties, ketchup, mayo, onions, salad, french fries, more ketchup and more mayo). Contradictory to the video, we all did not find that Belgium is a boring country. The food is tasty, the beer and chocolate interesting and yummy and the people very nice. Looking forward to more weekend trips to many more European countries :)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Jamie Oliver's Cheat's Pizza

Ours fell apart because of improper cooking equipment!

We have to admit it, one day we watched episode after episode of 30 minute meals with Jamie Oliver and got pretty intrigued by his strange cooking style, recipes, and funny sayings (only half understood because it was dubbed into German but the original English was left in the background).

Although most of what he cooked did not interest us, this one pan pizza stuck out. We finally got around to trying it last weekend. She loved it! Fluffy thick crust, it was like pizza on a giant biscuit. He want not a big fan of this pizza and would rather stick to the crispy thin classic Italian crust. You will just have to try it and decide for yourself!

1 1/2 cup flour (skip the baking powder if you use self-rising flour)
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 cup luke warm water
1 pinch salt
1 Tbs olive oil + Olive oil for the pan

1/2 can of pizza or diced tomatoes
a few leaves of fresh basil
1 tsp or a little more balsamic
1-2 cloves garlic
1/2 ball of mozzarella
Shredded cheese
Any other toppings of choice

Preheat the oven as high as it goes! We went for 230 C.

Mix all of the crust ingredients and knead until smooth. Warm a pan on with enough olive oil to cover it (sides too) on medium to low heat. This pan should be able to also go into the oven. We do not have a dish like this which forced us get a little creative :)

Roll out the dough to be a little larger than the pan. Place the dough into the warmed pan. The dough should go up the sides. While the dough cooks (don't be tempted and raise the heat very high!) make the pizza sauce. Blend the tomatoes, garlic, basil, and balsamic until smooth. We made an entire can of tomatoes and kept the leftover sauce for pasta (or maybe next time for a second pizza?).

Spoon the pizza sauce onto the dough. Do not over do it - this will make the pizza soggy. Pull apart the mozzarella and spread over the sauce. Add salami (Jamie had a tip to squish them so they are not flat but instead give the pizza texture. It does make it look much nicer!) Add any other toppings you want (we used mushrooms) and cover with shredded cheese.

After the pizza dough starts to pull away from the pan and looks like it is getting cooked, move the pan into the oven. Since our pan does not go into the oven, we slid the pizza onto a tray. We messed this part up and the pizza sort of fell apart - you can tell in our photo!

Cook for another 5-8 minutes or until everything is melted and looking delicious.

Pull the pizza out and enjoy! You expect it to be soggy but because it cooked from the bottom and the top, the crust is nicely cooked, thick, fluffy, and super tasty. Yum!

We can't find the video we watched to this on YouTube but maybe you will have more look. Look for Jamie's Cheat's Pizza.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tuesday Tales: Daily Food of a Consultant

Back in the Netherlands this week for a two day lessons learned session with my team leads. This led to a tasty dinner including carpaccio and a very good desert made up of Crème brûlée, hot chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream. Wednesday was then the opposite of the dinner the night before. I received a burned "french-toast-like" cheese toast which then made up my lunch. Well, the sun doesn't shine every day :) (Especially not in the Netherlands I learned).

I came home on Thursday and stopped at our usual sushi delivery man. He made my sushi within 3.5 minutes which made me very happy due to having just driven 4.5 hours back from the Netherlands.
On Friday we boiled some bagels - yes boiled. These were then enjoyed with lox, fruit pretzels and delicious self made ice tea. Both the bagel and iced tea recipes are on our blog - just click the name!
Our friends invited us over on Saturday and they surprised us with their homemade Maultaschen in soup (this is not their recipe but you can find our Maultaschen recipe here). As a small hostess gift we brought them spicy gummi bears - definitely not gummis for kids.

Sunday was bacon day... nuff said:

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Italian Asparagus Salad

It's that time of year - Spargelzeit! Germans run to the grocery stores, street vendors, farmers markets and restaurants to get filled up with asparagus (white asparagus) before time is out, only a few weeks after Spargelzeit begins.

We are not too crazy about white asparagus but we can't help but get wrapped up in the excitement. For that reason, many of our meals recently have been planned around asparagus eating.

We started last weekend off with crepes filled with white asparagus and topped with Hollandaise sauce. Yum. It was our own simplified (and less sweet) version of the recipe we shared last year: Kasierschmarren, Asparagus, and Hollandaise sauce.

That night, we kept going with the asparagus theme and made Italian Asparagus Salad - to her, tomato mozzarella topped with asparagus (no complaint there!) but he says it is truly a different recipe!

To make this salad for two you need:

Asparagus (use as much as you want, we used about 300 g)
A few pinches of sugar
100 g mozzarella (use what seems right!)
200 g tomatoes (again, use as many or as few as you want)
3  Tbs Balsalmic
2 Tbs Olive oil
Fresh basil
1/2 fresh avocado (we left this out)
Salt, pepper

Peel the asparagus and boil in sugar water for about 14 minutes. Remove and pat dry.

Slice the tomatoes and cover with the cheese.

In a bowl or glass, mix the salt, pepper, olive oil, balsamic, and fresh bail (this is basically our Tomato Mozzarella recipe but mixed together instead of put directly on the tomatoes).

Slice the optional avocado and the asparagus into one-half to one inch slices and place on top. Drizzle the olive oil mix on top and done!

It is as easy as that!

Serve with warm bread and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tuesday Tales: Daily Food of a Consultant

I was back in Cologne last Monday to continue with our IT outsourcing project. Fortunately we were able to handle the workshop within one day and I could drive home that night. I received some delicious spaghetti that I was forced to eat very quickly because we went to a weekly pub quiz that I always have to skip because of being away but she always attends. Due to the public holiday on Wednesday, I stayed in Frankfurt on Tuesday and was able get some time in at the Frankfurt office. Here I had a cheesburger with french fries from the local stand at lunch.

Wednesday, the first of May and a holiday in Germany, we both had off so we went to visit colleagues of hers to have a barbeque. After delicious grilled red sausages and some vegetarian food (cheese and potatoes) we left and finally had some of our own free time (rare with me always being away and keeping so busy with friends on weekends). First of May in Germany is quite a special celebration. I grew up in a so called rural region of Germany, where Walpurgisnacht celebrations of pagan origin are traditionally held on the night before May Day. Bonfires and the wrapping of a Maibaum (maypole) are the traditional approach but young people use this opportunity to party. May 1 is also celebrated in some regions by the delivery of a maypole which is a tree covered in streamers. A boy has to deliver it to the house of a girl the night before (typically a love interest). Females usually place roses or rice in form of a heart at the house of their beloved one. All the action is usually done secretly and it is an individual's choice whether to give a hint of their identity or stay anonymous.
After traveling back to Cologne the night of May 1 (so really only got 3/4 of a day off), I saw a special offer from a local Cologne restaurant. I followed the signs for this special offer and got to enjoy asparagus with turkey and potatoes. Friday, after several meetings and presentations it was time to head home and that night to visit the 3D cinema. Before the movie we met friends and had burgers in Frankfurt. I had not eaten that day due to time constraints and enjoyed a crispy double chicken burger before watching Iron Man 3. Asparagus season (a very special and loved time in Germany) started in Cologne, with my meal on Thursday, but now it was time to prepare some of our own. Therefore we bought two bunches of white asparagus and made crepes with asparagus and Hollandaise sauce on Saturday and a very tasty tomato mozzarella asparagus salad on Sunday. The recipe will follow in the next days so keep tuned!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

English Tuna Bake

This is a recipe (if you even can call it that) that we are not recommending, but we thought we would write about it anyways.

Over a month ago two friends came to visit. They brought along with them some packets of tuna bake - apparently a favorite of his years and years ago when he was living in England. He requested it and they were nice enough to bring it to us all the way from England.

So, in a thrill of anticipation, we decided to whip it up one night to try the taste again which was so good years ago...

The memories for him of eating this were fun but the taste left more than a little to be desired. In the end even the leftovers went in the trash. Now our big question is what to do with the nine packets we have left...

Yes, those are potato chips on top. Oh English cuisine!
Anyone getting a craving for tuna bake? We have some packets available :)