Monday, February 28, 2011

Oven-roast Duck Legs and Potatoes

HubbyGrouch just suggested that I change my pen name to PsychoWife. I was teasing him, that our 6-months-old daughter's runny nose was caused by him not putting a hat on her yesterday when taking her outside to the car. He blames her being immersed in a room full of babies and toddlers for a birthday party. Anyway, this is reminds me of one particular thing I have noticed here. Half of women's conversation seems to consist of complaints and stories about their husbands. It always makes me wonder why people get married - and it explains why they get divorced. But no matter. Now for today's recipe.
Yes, I know. This is not an everyday-life quick dinner (but it is a simple one!). I happened to see duck legs in the supermarket and as we hadn't had duck in a while, I just couldn't resist. You can of course use chicken thighs instead of the duck. I chose a one-dish oven-roast recipe for it's simplicity and promising flavor combination. I  find that with dishes of this kind, anticipation is one of the greatest pleasures. The kitchen is filled with the aromas of garlic and rosemary, and my mouth starts watering. I enjoyed very much eating this dish, although I must say (and this is something that cookbooks never tell you), that the duck leg is a little difficult to eat. I often came across recipes that sounded delicious and were special in the preparation and appearance, but when it came to serving and eating them, I simply didn't know how to go about it. Also, this is one of the few recipes which actually look like the picture in the cookbook if you follow all the instructions.

2 big Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
3/4 tsp dried crushed rosmary
2 red onion, cut into 1 inch cubes
4 big garlic cloves, peeled and halved
12-15 cherry tomatoes
2 duck legs
1 cup white wine or chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix potatoes, rosmary, onion, garlic, and cherry tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, and spread on baking sheet. Rub duck legs with salt and pepper, place on top of potatoes. Bake for 75 minutes, turning duck legs once or twice. Add wine after half the time.

This post is linked to Potato Blog Hop on Katherine Martinelli.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Himbeertraum ("Raspberry Dream")

This is one of HubbyGrouch's favorite desserts. It's super simple, too. On the other hand it is not exactly a light one. Just invest a few minutes in the preparation and find out for yourself how it got it's name.

(This recipe is linked to Tastetastic Thursday)

2-3 oz meringue, coarsely smashed
12 oz frozen raspberries
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, whipped

Put the meringue in a large (glass) bowl, top with the frozen raspberries. Some recipes now tell you cover it with the cream and put it in the fridge for several hours until the raspberries are thawed; and then to gently fold everything together just before serving. This will leave the meringue rather crunchy. I prefer a smoother version. I put the raspberry-meringue bowl in the microwave at low power, so the berries thaw quicker and release their juice better. Put the bowl in the fridge for 1-2 hours, so the meringue take up the juice and get soft. Then gently fold in the whipped cream and serve immediately.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

HubbyGrouch's Favorite Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

As I have stated before, I really, really, really don't like cinnamon. But my HubbyGrouch does, so I make these delicious cookies for him whenever he asks me to. As with most pastry recipes I come across, I reduce the amount of sugar given in the description by 25-30%. I love cookies and cakes but they shouldn't be too sweet. This is something that really puts me off here. Most pastry (and even bread) have way too much sugar. I mean, who wants to put salami on sweet-tasting bread. To me, that tastes simply disgusting. I could of course write a whole essay on how (most) American bread just triggers my up-chuck reflex. I must admit though that during 4 years in this country I have come across some breads I like. In my area, there are 2 really good bakeries and I even found 2 kinds of bread I like in the supermarket. Okay, enough ranting, let's get back to the cookies. I had to convert this recipe from the metric system to US units (pfft, your system doesn't even have a name), as the inhabitants of this vast country won't adopt it. (And why can't you, I want to know. Even the traditional, conservative Brits did!).

2 to 2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 dash of salt
2 sticks margerine
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp molasses
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp orange juice
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup raisins

Mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, whisk margarine until creamy. Add sugar and molasses, then the eggs. Finally, stir in vanilla and juice. Slowly add flour mixture to get a smooth dough. Carefully mix in oats and raisins. Drop 2 inch balls of dough onto parchment lined baking sheets, about 3 inches apart. Bake at 320°F in middle of oven for 10-15 minutes until golden-brown. Makes 40 to 50 cookies.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Czech Republic: Fillet of Beef with Bread Dumpling Slices (Napkin Dumpling)

I must admit it: I am a sucker for dumplings. Maybe that's why the older I get, the more I look like one. Made from bread or  raw or cooked potatoes, I just love those little balls. Give me dumplings with brown gravy and I am all set for lunch or dinner. I have tried different recipes throughout the years but this Czech recipe is one of my favorites. You prepare the bread dumpling mix, wrap it in a towel and immerse the whole thing in simmering water. I admit it is not a quick everyday recipe that you would want to prepare after an 8-hour work day, but it's certainly worth the effort if you have the time. I know that most Americans are rather ignorant about European cuisines other than French and Italian (well, at least you have your version of those). But trust me, it is well worth czeching out the Eastern and Central European cuisines. You'll find incredible roasts, goulashes, heart-warming soups, irresistible desserts, and much, much more!

For the beef roast:
1/4 celery root
1 carrot
1 parsnip
1 1/2 onions
4-5 slices Bacon
1 1/2 lbs beef tenderloin roast
2 tbsp oil
4 pepper corns
2 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp melted butter
1 cup hot beef bouillon
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbsp lemon juice

For the dumpling:
8 stale kaiser rolls (or equal amount of Italian bread)
1 medium onion
1 stick soft butter
4 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped basil
6 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
1 tsp salt
1 dash nutmeg
1 cup lukewarm milk
1 moist kitchen towel (not the fuzzy kind!) or cloth napkin (about 32" x 32")
kitchen twine

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut vegetables and bacon into 1/2 inch cubes. Rub meat with salt and pepper. Heat oil in casserole over high heat, brown meat on all sides. Add vegetables, bacon, and herbs. Drizzle butter over meat. Pour bouillon into casserole, cover, and braise for 25 to 35 minutes. Remove meat from casserole, wrap in foil and let rest. Pass vegetables and sauce through sieve and bring to a boil. Mix sour cream and 4-5 tbsp of the sauce, then stir into sauce. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
For the dumpling, cut bread into small cubes. Mince onion, sauté in 1 tbsp butter until soft but not brown, then stir in herbs and remove from heat. Whip remaining butter with egg yolks and season with salt and nutmeg. In a large bowl, mix bread and milk. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add onion and butter-mix and mix well. Whip egg whites and fold into bread mix. Spread towel and with moist hands form a loaf of bread-mix on the towel. Fold towel over dumpling loaf and tie end with twine. Attach dumpling roll to ends of a wooden spoon. Lower dumpling into boiling salt water and simmer for 1 hour. Turn loaf over after 30 minutes.
Slice meat and loaf and serve with the gravy.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Potato Salmon Patties

Potato Pancakes are one of my favorite childhood dishes. We usually had them with homemade applesauce. I am not really a big fan of sweet main dishes though, so now we eat them with sour cream. Anyway, when I found a recipe for "Salmon-and-Spinach Cakes" in Food&Wine, I simply had to try it. So here is my variation of it. I love the combination of potatoes, salmon and spinach. Although if I make these again, I will definitely add an egg to the mix to hold it together. The patties were rather delicate to turn over in the pan.

1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes
5 oz baby spinach
1 cup mayonnaise
cayenne pepper
black pepper
3 tbsp chopped dill
1 lb skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1/2 pieces
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp heavy cream
1/4 cup minced onion
vegetable oil for frying

Boil potatoes until tender, about 30 minutes depending on the size. Peel and cut into 1/4 inch dice, transfer to a large bowl. Heat a 2 tablespoons of water over medium heat. Cook the spinach until wilted. Drain, squeeze dry and coarsely chop. Mix the mayonnaise with dill, season with cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt. Chop salmon in a food processor, incorporate cream. Add the salmon, spinach, and onion to the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Form 12-15 patties. Fry in batches over medium heat, 3-4 minutes per side. Serve with the dip.

No-Cinnamon Apple Pie with Oat-Streusel

I know that most people simply love cinnamon. Around Christmas time in Germany, anything - be it chocolate, tea, cookies etc. - that has the word "Christmas" on it is sure to contain cinnamon. That's both annoying and convenient if you are one of the few people who, like me, can't stand the smell and taste of it. And although I don't have a very fine palate in general, I am the equivalent of a truffle pig for cinnamon. I can spot minuscule amounts in my food. So far, I have only met three other people who share that same dislike (all men, btw; I wonder whether that's somehow significant). I have to add that these detecting abilities of mine and my distaste of cinnamon do not concern savory foods. I gladly add the spice to Moroccan food, Moussaka or whenever required. Luckily, for baked goods there is a tasty alternative - All Spice. So here is the cinnamon-free all-spice-infused apple pie. If however you do love cinnamon, feel free to substitute it for the all spice. .....Ok, here it is to all you cinnamon lovers out there: My HubbyGrouch just tried the pie and his first comment was: "It needs cinnamon!"

1 pie crust (preferably homemade)
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats

3 big Honeycrisp apples, cut into 1/4 -inch-thick pieces
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp ground allspice

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground allspice
1 stick butter
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats

Preaheat oven to 400°F. Place pie crust on a piece of plastic wrap, sprinkle with oats, and place a second piece of plastic wrap on top. Roll oats into crust. Crust should be a 12-13 inch round. Remove top wrap and place crust oat-side down in 9 inch glass pie dish. Toss all ingredients for filling and let stand while preparing the streusel. Blend flour, sugar, and allspice in food processor. Blend in butter. Add oats and blend in briefly. Transfer filling to crust, sprinkle streusel evenly over. Bake pie until topping is golden, about 20-30 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350°F and bake pie for 1 hour until the apples are tender. Cover pie with foil if it is browning too quickly. Cool pie on rack and serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chili con Turkey

We love to eat chilis - especially in the winter time. This is a great variation of your usual garden variety "minced beef-and-kidney-beans" chili. It's just as simple as those and at least equally delicious. I adapted it from the Food&Wine recipe for "Black-Bean Turkey Chili".

1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
3 garlic cloves (minced) or 1 tsp garlic powder
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 tbsp chili powder
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained & rinsed
1 small can corn kernels, drained

Heat the oil medium-high heat. Add turkey, salt, and pepper. Cook for 4-5 minutes, breaking up the meat. Add the garlic, onion, and chili powder and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, until thickened. Add the beans and corn and simmer for 15 minutes.
There are several option for serving the chili: Either you eat it just like it is or maybe you have a slice of toast or a roll or you serve it with rice.  Some might like the chili topped with sour cream and shredded cheese. Well, whichever way you choose, I hope you enjoy it!

This recipe is linked to Tastetastic Thursday.