bitter orange heaven with a breakfast martini

as everyone knows, i do love my martinis. hence it is always good to broaden your horizon and add more flavour to it … this one reminisces my london years:

breakfast martini

breakfast martini

what makes it special, is the added bitter orange marmalade … it gets a bitter-sweet twist, but not in a sickening way.

in a cocktail shaker combine 4 parts gin (i used bombay sapphire), 2 parts orange liqueur (i used grand marnier), 2 parts lemon or lime juice and 1 teaspoon bitter orange marmalade (use a variety with thin strips of orange) and shake with a couple of icecubes. strain into a martini glass (you want to add the orange strips from the shaker too!) and start sipping. it is martini heaven. giny, orangey, bitter and sweet at the same time!

regardless of what you think, i would not recommend it for breakfast though … 🙂

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autumnal comfort food: potato and choucroute mash with fried shallots (vegetarian / vegan option) with a side of edith piaf

being raised and deeply cultured in germany (with parents whose origins are in eastern prussia), my first solid food when i was four months old contained potato mash and choucroute / sauerkraut plus carp (for christmas)  … probably all mashed together. thus i might be biased, but i do admit that i love choucroute!

together with potato mash it really is a comfort food for a cold day:

potato and choucroute mash with fried shallots

mash

i was so excited about it that i could not hold the camera still and the photo got out of focus!

it is easy to make too: peel and quarter five medium sized potatoes (medium meaning that they will just about fit in your hand) and boil them in salted water with a laurel-leaf until cooked – usually takes about 15-20 minutes. once they are done drain the spuds, return them to the pot and mash them with a good two tablespoonfuls of butter (for a vegan option you can use a good quality vegan margarine), adding some fleur de sel, a teaspoon of mustard and freshly ground pepper to season. don’t overmash as you still want it to have texture.

optional you can stir in a tablespoon or two of creme fraiche to give it more creaminess (for a vegan option just skip this step! it works without the creme fraiche just as well).

drain about 200g of choucroute /sauerkraut (i use a variety that had added white wine…), which is about half a can – they usually come in cans or in kilner jars – and mix in with the mash. return the pot on the stove and gently reheat at a low temperature, stirring occasionally in order to prevent the mash from sticking to the base of the pot.

while the mash is reheating, chop up a shallot into strips and gently fry in some butter or oil with a pinch of fleur de sel until golden in colour. heap the mash on a plate (the recipe should serve two with a moderate appetite), sprinkle the fried onion on top and decorate with a couple of pinches of chilli flakes. et voila, there you have a nutritious soul-lifter on your plate. creamy and sourish! no low-carb here, but every once in a while one is allowed to go wild, plus the choucroute is good for your digestion!

it is an autumnal dish  as the colour of the onions mirrors the colour of the falling leaves  – call me nostalgic: ‘the falling leaves drift by the window, the autumn leaves all red and gold’ … listen to some edith piaf for full-on nostalgia:

EDITH PIAF – autumn leaves / les feuilles mortes

a cultural novelty item … ‘french’ music for ‘french’ baking: parlez-vous pop?

inspired by the tarte tatin, i rediscovered some ‘french’ music. now i do use the term french in the broadest sense, as it is actually a collection of songs and chansons interpreted in french by international artists (most of them german, but with some brits and others thrown in at equal measure):

PARLEZ-VOUS POP? (various artists)

parlez-vous pop

parlez-vous pop a

a little musical preview here:

http://www.amazon.de/gp/recsradio/radio/B00152MQCC/ref=pd_krex_dp_001_001?ie=UTF8&disc=1&track=1 

while one knows that marlene dietrich and caterina valente were very international in their careers so it does not come as a surprise to hear them sing in french, some others are really surprising (not only via their accent!) … sandie shaw, conny froboess, marianne faithfull, alexandra … and manfred krug anyone? even the formidable mary roos pops up, who had a very successful career in france in the 1970s (who would have known?!)…

it is really a novelty item but an extremely pleasant one at that. it uplifts your mood and you instantly turn into a ‘frenchised’ chef in the kitchen, turning out one tarte tatin after the other. open your ears and be enchanted!

the collection was done and released by bureau-b, who always dig up nearly forgotten and exotic items. kudos to that!

apple time with a tarte tatin

autumn brings the first apples to the garden, so it is the perfect time to indulge in this extremely tasty and easy french cake, which is foolproof and delish … it is a special treat and defo NOT low on sugar, hence make sure that you use a good quality cane sugar:

apple tarte tatin

tarte tatin

even though it is easy, it requires a tarte tatin mould, as you need a dish that you can use on the hob and in the oven alike – there are several varieties available, mine is made from copper and is quite heavy, so you can be certain that the result is always great:

tarte tatin mould

as to the recipe, i will (for once) be more precise, as with baking there is not as much leeway as with cooking. therefore you will get more detailed info on measurements!

for the dough:

in a mixing bowl, mix (with your hands, as you really need to knead the dough) approx. 125 g white flour, 50-60g unsalted butter (needs to be cold), a pinch of fleur de sel, 1 tbsp brown cane sugar and 1-2 tbsp ice-cold water. you need to rub the cold butter into the flour and knead it all together with your hands – it should not be dry (after all it is not a crumble) and not too soft either. if the dough is too dry, add a little bit more water – if it is too soft then add more flour. knead the dough into a ball, cover with cling film and put in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

for the upside-down apple ‘filling’:

peel and decore about 1kg of apples (it should be a crumbly variety, such as golden delicious, goldrenette or gala). but them into quarters and then each quarter into three to four pieces lengthwise. sprinkle with a bit of lemon juice to stop them from turning brown.

in the tarte tatin mould, melt about 150g brown cane sugar on the hob on a low heat – it will turn into caramel. be careful not to burn it as then it turns bitter. once fully melted, add 50g of unsalted butter and the vanilla pods from the quarter of a vanilla bean. stir well with a wood spoon to ensure that the caramel and butter fully amalgamte. add the apples, slightly press them down so there are no gaps and the apple pieces are evenly spread in the mould. leave on the hob while you prepare the dough cover.

roll out the dough between two sheets of baking paper, you need it to be thin and round and slightly bigger than the tarte tatin mould (if you have a mould of 26cm diameter, the rolled out dough should be about 27cm in size). carefully remove the dough from the baking paper and put it on top of the apples and slightly tug it in at the rim – the apples need to be completely covered (don’t worry if it looks foldy, the cake will be put upside down after baking in any case). slightly prick the dough with the fork a couple of times. put the mold in the preheated oven (200 degrees celsius) and bake it for about 30-35 minutes – the dough should be golden brown in colour.

when taking it out of the oven, put a serving plate on the tarte tatin mould and quickly turn it upside down so the cake can slide onto the plate in one piece. take care of your fingers as the mould will be very hot.

you can serve the tarte tatin immediately – the apples will be juicy and cooked and held together by the caramel and the dough will be slightly crispy. you can also let it cool down but then the dough might become soggy if you let it stand for too long. erve it with whipped cream if desired, but i find it best ‘en naturelle’, i.e. just as it is … hard-pressed i would say that you could sprinkle some chopped and roasted hazlenuts or almonds on top for crunchiness, but really there is nothing extra needed 🙂

for a vegan option, you might want to substitute the butter with vegan butter, though i have not tried it that way (i would not recommend using coconut oil as the end result might turn out too greasy and in my opinion the caramel and the oil will not mix as well as caramel and butter do) – so do send me your feedback if you bake a vegan version! i am more than curious to find out…

ps. this a recipe that works well with pears too or with plums!

a clean dessert free of added sugar: vegan pear, grape and riesling sorbet

this is such a winner that it nearly becomes a frozen cocktail … by adding the wine you bring a really nice extra to the sorbet:

pear, grape and riesling sorbet

grape pear and riesling sorbet

this is one of the few of my recipes that requires some preparation. for one serving wash a  ripe pear (no need to cut the peel off), cut into quarters  and cut out the core. then cut the qaurtered pear into chunks. put in a small bowl and splash with lemon juice and put into the freezer to freeze them (takes about two hours, depending on your freezer). i used a williams pear, as i find them really juicy and full of flavour when they are ripe and you need a juicy pear for the sorbet to work. wash a handfull of green grapes (they need to be seedless) and freeze those as well.

once they are fully frozen, put the pear chunks and the grapes (put one or two pieces of the pear aside for decoration) in a food processor  and add a good splash of dry riesling and process well so you get a smooth sorbet. while you process it, you might need to add more riesling, the amount of wine you need depends on your food processor, as sometimes the frozen pieces of fruit get stuck when there is not enough liquid added. for a non-alcoholic version you can use lemon juice (for a tarter taste) or grape juice (for a sweeter taste).

serve immediately in a cocktail glass – before adding the sorbet, i added two chunks of frozen pear to the bottom of the glass. it is a really clean tasting dessert which contains only natural sugar and is quite a winner to finish a vegan meal! even a non-vegan will cherish it 🙂