Sunday, November 03, 2013

The Quince Connection

Three large quinces I picked up at Greyfriars' House & Garden in Worcester. (The apple and the orange are just there to indicate the size of the quinces)

In Britain, most people know the Edward Lear poem "The Owl and the Pussycat", with its lines,

They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon 

- but not everyone has seen quinces in real life.
In Germany, everyone knows that they are yellow, because the term "quince yellow" has survived to denote a particularly bright yellow (quittengelb), even though the fruit weren't to be seen anywhere. Until, that is, around 2005, I'd say. Since then I have certainly noticed wide-spread interest in the food blogging community. I also saw my first one, 'in situ' so-to-speak, at another NT property,  Moseley Old Hall near Wolverhampton, around that time. 

Subsequently, I came across them at farmers' markets here, and this year even at a completely 'normal' market in Frankfurt. And on several stands at that. 

So, they're definitely making a come-back. And quite rightly so. Just having them in the house is uplifting because of their fragrant smell, which Nigel Slater described thus:

 “It's a soft perfume, rose-like, a little sickly but reminiscent of honey, too. 
A scent that marks the start of winter cooking like a tomcat marks his territory.

I made quince & coriander jelly this time. 

My recipe was from: The Complete Book of Preserves & Pickles by Catherine Atkinson and Maggie Mayhew.

They are extremely versatile.Apart from jelly, you can add them to apple crumble, make compote to eat alone, with cream or ice-cream, or stir into yogurt. They can be baked as tarte tatin or as muffins, and even combined with meat in casserole or tagine dishes. Some people also make quince vodka. And let's not forget quince fruit paste - some of you may know this as membrillo.

There are loads of interesting quince entries on the net:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I say Schaschlik, you say Shashlyk...

 Shashlyk/Shashlik (Poland vs Russia game)

Growing up in Germany, meat on a skewer, to me, was Schaschlik. It came from the common fast food outlet called Imbiss, was served in a white cardboard container and was smothered with a hot and spicy sauce.

Later on I learnt about Brochettes, Kebabs (Kebobs), Souvlaki,  Satay and Espetada. In German restaurants, meat on a skewer was called Spieß, the German word for skewer.

The best ones were served in Kärnten (Carinthia), the southernmost part of Austria, which borders the northern part of the former Yugoslavia, Slovenia, now an independent country. Heavily influenced by Slovenian cuisine (not just due to its closeness, but also the Slovenian minority living in Carinthia), the enormous slabs of meat came highly spiced, on  metal skewers a yard long, and had Romantic names such as "Husarenspieß" (hussars' kebab). (This skewer is supposed to look like a hussar's sabre, and it is clearly being served in Hungary or as Hungarian - see flag.)

But back to shashlik/shashlyk. Of the countries that were present in the Euro Championships, Poland, Russia and Ukraine call their meat-laden skewers thus. Before I cooked mine (first pic), I did my usual thorough (and thoroughly time-consuming) research, and (surprise, surprise) the search for 'proper', 'best' and 'most traditional' shashlik produces a plethora of contradictory advice. 

I made up my own mind from the information I found and matched it to my requirements.(Such as: I had chicken to use up, BBQing was out of the question due to the weather, and my grill doesn't work...)

This is what I did:


Chicken pieces (or beef, lamb, pork)
1 or 2 onions, minced (food processor, or hand held device)
hot tomato sauce
soured cream* (see below for recipe)

In a non-metal container, mix the meat with the onion pulp. Mix some of the hot sauce with the soured cream and add to the meat/onion mixture. PUT ASIDE FOR 24 HOURS.
Thread the meat on to skewers (wooden ones needs prior soaking) and grill the meat - best on a charcoal BBQ. I had to fry mine in a pan, eventually taking the pieces off the skewer... But the result was still so good that I wanted to share and recommend this.

Soured Cream

Of course you can buy soured cream but as you only need a tbsp or two, you then have to find further uses. I had double cream lite in the fridge, so I wanted to use that.

1 cup of cream
1 tbsp of lemon
1 tbsp of vinegar

Mix lemon and vinegar, then start whipping the cream, adding the mix 1 teaspoon at a time.

It isn't quite the same but it'll do as a substitute.

Next up will be my Iberian Casserole...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Nothing fishy, please...

...was what my men said when Germany played Denmark. - That was ages ago, of course. Before England succumbed to the penalty demon once again. As this usually renders all interest in the Euro Championships null and void, I'd better wind up my recipes.

For the aforementioned game, I suggested pork knuckle but the boys feared Sauerkraut would come into the equation and demanded the absolute staple of German cuisine: Potato Salad & Würstchen.

So here it is:

You need

salad potatoes          boiled in their skins, then peeled & cut into slices or cubes
yoghurt (optional)*                  
gherkins                   cut up fairly small
onions    (opt.)                  cut up fairly small

* I use double the amount of the mayonnaise; it's not very German (i.e. NO yoghurt added), but it saves on the calories.

Make enough dressing for the amount of potatoes you have. Add some gherkin or capers brine if it's not tasty enough. It's best to leave the salad to mature for a few hours before serving.

Serve with boiled sausages and some mustard. We like the "Frankfurter" packs of 10 they sell at Lidl. (Not that I'd call those Franfurters - but that's probably because my Mum's from Silesia, and maybe their sausages came from Frankfurt an der Oder!!!). At Sainsbury's, they sell a similar pack, an actual German brand, Hertha.

So, what else did I come up with? 

In no particular order:

Shashlik*   (Poland vs Russia)
Bruschetta topped with Cheddar (Italy vs England)
Piri Piri Chicken and Czech Potato Pancakes* (Portugal vs Czech Republic)
Mixed Meat Shish Kebabs with Chorizo (Spain vs Croatia)
Pork knuckle with Greek salad (Germany vs Greece)

I didn't see every match, and not every match I saw had a speciality meal, plus I can't remember all of them. I wish Russia hadn't gone out because I was looking forward to Spaghetti with Tomato and
Vodka sauce. Instead, we're going to have Schnitzel with Spaghetti for the second semi-final on Thursday, and for tomorrow, I've got a Portuguese-Spanish Casserole planned. And as the final is in Kiev, we're going to have Chicken Kiev, no matter which of the remaining teams get there.

* Recipes to follow.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Football Foodie

 Football Canapes - example from a World Cup (2006?) with all the remaining teams: France & Brazil represented by flags on corner positions (sandwich triangles with cream cheese and cress, footballs rolled from cream cheese and black olives), England, Italy, Germany and Portugal made from sandwich bread cut to size, and cream cheese, red pepper, mozzarella, cucumber, black olives, cheddar cheese. Red and yellow cards in the middle: crackers, cream cheese and red and yellow peppers respectively.

In the European Championships 2012, the first round has been played, and we're into round 2 now, with one of the 'Biggies' happening tonight - at least in my world view: GER - NED. So, tonight, the food will have to be Currywurst with friet speciaal.

We have paid culinary tribute to football games before. England got a Flag of St. George Pizza:

Germany got Currywurst  and Black Tagliatelle, Red Sauce and Yellow Peppers.

And during the World Cup in South Africa, I went wild over African dishes. Unfortunately, I never took any photographs or blogged about any of the recipes.

For this European Championship, we've done the following so far:

The other day, we enriched the chicken soup with spaghetti (Italy), chorizo (Spain), garlic and paprika (Croatia) and potatoes (Ireland).
Yesterday, I served Swedish meatballs in a creamy sauce, with gherkins and lingonberry sauce, plus spicy meatballs in a tomato based sauce, representing the Ukraine.(The cabbage element featured in the salad!)
And yesterday, we had a Russian-Polish Shashlik, with bought in chips and home-made coleslaw. (Recipe and photographs to follow!)
Kick off about to happen for the Denmark-Portugal match! Toodleloo!!!

Friday, June 08, 2012

Planet Football


I haven't even managed to write up everything about Essen, or put my thoughts about the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations into words (but thank God, there are enough sensible people out there who DID complain about the Celeb-Cult-Airhead-Gushing which seemed to be deemed commentary, as unworthy of the BBC), and no sooner are the buntings down (we didn't actually have any - biscuits with a red-white-and-blue theme was my only concession), and I have to deck the Moaning Room (lounge, living room, sitting room - call it what you will) in BLACK, RED & GOLD

Why? Because

are on!

And because football is tribal, I'm afraid I will sit here, wrapped in the German flag. I'll also have a European flag up, but no red and white .... My earrings are just footballs - so that  I won't cause offence when I go shopping (at least no football related offence...), but I'm getting a bit concerned about the current colour of my toe-nails: they're the bright and cheerful colour associated with the team who son no.2 thinks will be crowned champions: Orange. Yep, Germany's football arch enemies, the Netherlands.  

 Clarence Seedorf and Jürgen Klinsmann

 will both be in the studio over here, so that should become interesting at some point.

Now, where's the Pilsener and the vodka for tonight? Poland and Greece will kick off, but then it's the Czech Republic vs Russia from my Mum's home town of Wroclaw (Breslau).

"Na zdrowie", "Nastrovje", "Na zdraví", "Stin iyia sas", "Prost" & "Cheers" !!!

Monday, June 04, 2012

To die for…

The theme for the “playing time” of the season 2012 at the Grillo-Theater, Essen, (as featured earlier) was RESISTANCE. With only about 10 days in my native city, I clearly couldn’t catch all the plays under this heading, but I managed three:

Schiller occupies, together with Goethe, the same sort of pedestal in Germany that Shakespeare inhabits in Britain.


Here they are in the major location of their creativity: Weimar. 
Goethe on the left, Schiller on the right

His play carries the sub-title ‘A bourgeois tragedy’ – where ‘bourgeois’ refers to the lower middle-class background of the female lead character, and is not – as one might assume – a pejorative judgement, as employed by the characters of Jelinek’s play, who were extreme left-wing terrorists. One of the connections made is Jelinek’s use of Schiller’s ‘Maria Stuart’, by casting Ulrike Meinhof and Gudrun Ensslin (the two major female forces behind the Red Army Faction of the First Generation) as the rival queens, Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart. The other is the theme of resistance, or more to the point, the attempt to tear down existing boundaries, social inequalities, and the armed response to oppressive regimes. At the same time, all three plays pose the question of individual versus collective responsibility, and – ultimately - confront the audience (entertained or not, stirred or not, applauding or not) with characters who were all prepared to die for their beliefs:

Luise and Ferdinand die of poison because their love has no future in a world governed by class.
Ulrike Meinhof, Gudrun Ensslin and Andreas Baader also commit suicide because their interpretation of ‘the end justifies the means’ is not shared by a sizeable proportion of the West German population.
And most of the resistance fighters against fascism in the epic Weiss novel(s) turned play are executed by the respective totalitarian regime they had fought.

Fitting plays for a time when ‘to die for’ refers to nothing more than a consumer commodity??!!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Summer in the City II

Pars pro toto - oder vielleicht geht ja auch Fotos pro toto:

Second time at the theatre - this time for Elfriede Jelinek's Ulrike Maria Stuart (more about that some other time). Successfully coerced a very dear friend  to come with me - which was extrtemely nice of her.

Second time at Bahnhof Süd - this time with an ex-boyfriend who entertained me with his usual outrageous anecdotes. Again in the beer garden:

And second time at the Gebrandenhof, where I had a Carpaccio with white and green asparagus (extremely nice) and a very long chat with a friend from the AKS (my 6th form school), also extremely nice. First time round, I was there with a friend from my middle school. Needless to say - also very long conversations, also extremely nice.

Now I have to step on it, as I want to see my Mum for the second time, too, and tonight, I've got tickets for Leonce und Lena....