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Archive for the ‘Ingredients’ Category

I’m not much for hyperbole when it comes to describing recipes.  In fact, I get annoyed when bloggers talk up their recipes a lot, only to get ho-hum results myself.  So it means something when I feel no hesitation calling these some of the best brownies you’ll ever make.  My friends Nat and Jen brought these to a party a few months ago, and the crowd went wild.

If you love fudge brownies, these babies are for you.  They’re moist, rich, and deep, dark chocolatey.  Blondie lovers, look elsewhere.  This is some serious chocolate.  And by the way, some toasted walnuts would not be a crime here. Just don’t delay in making these!

Adapted from Joy of Baking

-5 oz. (140 g.) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used 70% chocolate)
-1/2 c. (1 stick/113 g.) butter
-2 Tbsp. (15 g.) cocoa powder
-1 c. (200 g.) sugar (raw sugar OK)
-1 tsp. vanilla extract
-3 large eggs, room temperature
-3/4 c. (95 g.) all-purpose flour*
-1/4 tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Grease an 8×8-in. square or 9-in. round pan.

2. In a medium metal bowl, melt the chocolate and butter over a pot of simmering water.

3. Whisk until completely melted, then remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, cocoa powder, and sugar until fully combined.

4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.

5. Stir in the flour and salt just until combined. Do not overmix.

6. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake on the middle rack for 28-35 min., or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean, with just a little batter and a few crumbs clinging to it. Do not overbake.

7. Cool 10 min. before cutting.

*This recipe adapts well for those avoiding gluten. Just substitute an equal amount of gluten-free “all purpose” flour. Mine was a combination of rice flour, cornstarch, and potato flour. I honestly could not tell the difference.

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Guess how these cookies got their name?

First, I started making them at 10PM, only to realize that I was out of eggs and short on chocolate, thus requiring a run to the corner store.  Second, I’d forgotten to factor in the one-hour chilling time for the dough.  They were finally done around 12:30AM.  But hey, I’d waited six months to finally make these—what was a few hours?

Americans ex-pats typically crave strange, hard-to-find things like Kraft Blue Box, chipotle peppers, cream of mushroom soup, and Saltines. Chocolate chip cookies are another doozy. Good luck finding any of the essential ingredients in Germany: brown sugar, chocolate chips, or vanilla extract.  I hadn’t had much luck.

brown gold…

But then my friend, Liza, brought me back a bag of fancy chocolate chips from her last trip to the U.S.  A plan was hatched. My dad good-naturedly agreed to haul a 2-lb. bag of brown sugar in his luggage at Christmastime.  And the vanilla extract problem I solved by macerating a vanilla bean in a mini bottle of vodka:

Finally, it was cookie time! I started with a recipe billed as no less than “The Best Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies in the Entire World.”  Although I might not go quite that far, if you like a chewy cookie…these were totally worth the wait!

(Makes 22-23 medium cookies)

-1 1/2 c. flour
-1/2 tsp. baking soda
-1/2  tsp. salt
-1/2 c.  (1 stick) unsalted butter, slightly colder than room temperature
-1/2 c. sugar
-3/4 c. tightly packed light brown sugar (I used dark but recommend light)
-1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
-1 large egg, at room temperature, lightly beaten
-7 oz. bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips
-1/3 c. chopped walnuts, toasted (optional) (more…)

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Do you ever get really sick of eating rich food?

OK, me neither.

But sometimes you need something acidic to cut the grease, if you will.  The Germans are masters of balancing heavy, hearty food with pickled dishes that perk things up (sauerkraut, anyone?).  German potato salad is another mouth-puckering example.  No mayo, no fuss; just a simple vinaigrette with onion and parsley.  It is unapologetically plain and delicious—just like your Schwäbisch Oma (“Grandma”) might make.

The next time you fry up a chicken schnitzel or grill a bacon cheeseburger, make sure you have some of this on hand.

Caraway seed is a favorite in German cuisine, quite possibly because it comes in such gorgeous packaging.

-2.2 lbs. waxy potatoes (such as red potatoes or Yukon Golds)
-1 Tbsp. whole caraway seed
-1 Tbsp. salt

-1 c. HOT chicken/vegetable broth (from bullion cube is OK; Oma’s not that fussy)

Dressing:
-1/4 c.  sweet onion, minced
-2 Tbsp.  shallot, minced
-2 Tbsp. chives, snipped
-2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
-2 Tbsp. white vinegar
-5 Tbsp. oil (avoid olive oil if you plan to serve cold)
-3/4 tsp. sugar
-1/2 tsp. spicy German or Dijon mustard
-2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
-salt and pepper, to taste

(more…)

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Years ago (more than I care to admit), I was an exchange student in Vienna, Austria. It was there I had my first kiss, my first martini, and my first taste of Liptauer. It’s hard to say which of these made the biggest impression on me. Needless to say, I spent many a balmy night in the Heuriger (wine gardens), drinking the season’s new wine and noshing on German rye thickly slathered with a creamy, salty spread laced with mustard, paprika, and garlic.

Try Liptauer with a soft pretzel or three, and soon you’ll be singing the praises of the Austro-Hungarian empire (at least culinarily).

Swept up in Austria

This spread balances the tangy bite of pickles and capers with lots of creamy goodness. It is excellent on everything from crudités to crackers. Serve it at your next holiday party and brace yourself to explain—repeatedly—what the heck makes it so addictive. It’s that good. You might as well make a triple batch, as I did.  Just think of it as exotic pimento cheese ;).

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caviar dip

Sounds fancy, right?  But this dip is a cinch to put together and makes a nice hors d’oeuvres with some champagne or prosecco before a holiday dinner.  It plays off the classic combination of caviar and crème fraîche, swapping out the traditional blini base for root vegetable chips.  Salty, creamy, slightly decadent…what’s not to like?

caviar dip

Although there has been a lot of (justified) talk about saving money and scaling back expenses this holiday season, the tiny bit of caviar in this recipe is worth the splurge.  Not sure where to find it in stores? Look for little jars near the seafood section (often with the smoked fish).  Whole Paycheck…er…Whole Foods almost certainly carries it.

caviarWhat possessed the first person to eat caviar?

-3/4 c. crème fraîche
-1/2 c. sour cream
-4 tsp. caviar (I used generic German black caviar, but whatever suits your fancy/wallet), plus a little extra for garnish*
-1 small bunch chives (about 3 Tbsp. total when snipped)
-1 1/2 tsp. minced shallot
-1 tsp. minced red onion
-salt and pepper, to taste

To serve:  1 bag of root vegetable chips, such as Terra Chips, or kettle-cooked potato chips

1.  In a medium bowl, snip most of the chives, reserving a few for garnish. (more…)

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quinoa cake with mushroom ragout
The other night, while my husband made a delicious roast pork loin, I was in charge of cooking the side dish.  I followed the German instructions on my package of quinoa (which called for too much water and cooking time) and ended up with a soggy, risotto-like pot of mush. So much for stereotypes about exacting Germans, eh?  Anyway, we were left with about 3 cups of quinoa that I was determined not to waste.  Because its texture was so similar to risotto, I decided to try a riff on arancini (fried risotto balls) for lunch today.

We were both surprised by how delicious these quinoa cakes were.  Next time, I might even ruin my quinoa on purpose, just to have another excuse make this dish.  Give this recipe a try next time you’re craving something different with an Italian vibe.

quinoa cake batterhumble beginnings…

quinoa patty…a tasty end

Quinoa Cakes:

-2 1/2-3 cups cooked quinoa (preferably slightly overcooked in excess water, so the grains cling together)
-2 eggs
-1/2 c. grated parmesan
-2 1/2 Tbsp. flour
-pinch of red pepper flake
-1 tsp. fresh basil
-1/2 clove garlic, minced
-1/2 tsp. dried oregano

-1/2 tsp. ea. salt and pepper
-approx. 2.5 c. panko or regular bread crumbs
-vegetable oil, for frying

1.  In a medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the salt, pepper, bread crumbs, and oil.

2.   Put the panko in a wide bowl and season with salt and pepper.

3.  Heat a large skillet with 3 Tbsp. oil until very hot.  Heat your oven on its lowest setting and line a cookie sheet or pan with paper towels.

4.  Take a heaping tablespoon of quinoa mixture in the palm of one hand and shape into a flat round approx. 3/4 in. thick (the size of a small crabcake).  Gently coat in the crumb mixture and place in the hot oil.

5.  Repeat.  Fry, gently turning so that each side is golden brown. Add more oil as needed.  Remove cooked cakes to the heated oven to keep warm while the others cook.

6.  Top with mushroom ragout and serve immediately.
(more…)

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I had a chocolate craving the other night, but since there was only hot chocolate mix in the house (pursuant to the theory: if you don’t buy it, you can’t eat it), I made cookies instead.  Oatmeal raisin cookies, in fact.  I’m more of a chocolate chip girl, but that wasn’t possible, given the current Schoko-drought.

I have freely admitted that baking is not my forte.  As per usual, I didn’t have all the ingredients the recipe called for.  Brown sugar (the soft, molasses-enriched stuff) just doesn’t exist in Germany.  I was also thinking about tweaking a recipe I’d never made, which doesn’t usually bode well.

Fortunately, the cookie gods smiled upon me, and the cookies came out great—chewy, soft, and delicious—despite my meddling and substituting.  Even without chocolate, they were satisfying.  (Especially for breakfast the following morning.)

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

625 commenters can’t be wrong—this is a great recipe.  I’m even tempted to call it foolproof. 🙂  Here’s my take on the classic: (more…)

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