November 29, 2010

Cream of Spinach Soup

On Saturday, I have found some beautiful fresh free range spinach at my greengrocer, it was no question that I had to buy a handful or two. Spring-summer spinach is great for a fresh salad, but the autumn-winter spinach must be cooked, but be careful not to blanche spinach longer than 2 minutes and do not sautee longer than 5 minutes, because then it loses all its nutritive substances.

I guess I couldn't have prepared anything better than a soup on that cold winter day. I wanted to inculde the beautiful white snow somehow on the plate so I decided to experiment a bit with the eggs. I have beaten the egg whites very stiff and then put some spoonful into a plastic bag, then I placed the yolk into the middle and covered it with some more egg white. It was "cooked" for 10-12 minutes in water that had about
65-70°C. That fluffy egg was just perfect together with the hot soup.

300 g spinach
2 shallots

100 g potato (floury)
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon butter
500 ml vegetable or chicken stock
100 ml cream
salt, pepper

Cut peeled potato, onion and garlic in cubes and remove the stalks of the spinach and rinse well. Heat butter and sautee onion, garlic until glassy, add potato and sautee for a few more minutes. Add stock and cream and cook over medium heat until the potato is cooked through. Add spinach in small portions and as soon as it is fallen together puree. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and some lemon juice if desired.

November 28, 2010


It was a wonderful snowy Friday afternoon, while I was carving for something sweet, so I decided to prepare something, that I haven't done before, and in this case haven't even eaten it until now. Yeah, strange or not, but this was the first time in my life that I have prepared this dessert and also the very first time that I ate it, though it is pretty popular. Császármorzsa or Kaiserschmarrn is one of the best known Austrian desserts, popular in the former Austria–Hungary as well as in Bavaria. In Hungary it is also known as smarni. The translation of Kaiserschmarrn has generated some etymological debate. While “Kaiser” is literally translatable (as Emperor), the same cannot be said for “Schmarrn”. “Schmarrn” has been translated as a mishmash, a mess, crumbs, a trifle, a nonsense, a fluff, or even as a mild expletive. (source:wikipedia)

(recipe adapted from Johann Lafer)
200 ml milk
120 g flour
1 pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sour cream
4 egg whites
80 g sugar
4 egg yolks
2 eggs
50 g clarifed butter
15 g raisins
50 g butter
4 apples
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
120 g sugar
40 g honey
150 ml white wine
150 ml apple juice
1 vanilla pod
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
zest of a half lemon

For the apple stew peel apples and cut one apple in small cubes, the rest in bigger chunks and sprinkle lemon juice on it. Caramelise sugar, add honey then pour white wine and apple juice into the pot (I have used cider instead). Add spices, lemon peel and apple and cook over medium heat until the liquid has absorbed and the apples are soft. Remove the spiced and stir in apple cubes. For the császármorzsa preheat the oven to
220°C. Whisk milk with the flour and salt until smooth, then stir in the sour cream. Beat egg whites with 30 g of sugar. Stir the eggs and the egg yólks to the milk mixutre, then fold in the beaten egg whites. Melt butter in a frying pan and pour batter into it, add raisins ( I would soak them in rum for some hours before cooking, but I haven't use any, because I do not like raisins.), cover and bake for about 15 minutes. Tear to pieces and caramelise it with 50 g sugar in the melted butter. Serve among the apple stew and with powder sugar.

November 26, 2010

Sea bass poached in fennel fumet

If I am not mistaking fumet is a double concentrated fish stock, cooked twice with fresh fish parts during the second cooking. Though fish stock is often called fumet de poisson. While emptying the freezer I have found some boxes of fish stock, that were just perfect for today's lunch. This dish is so easy to prepare, yet it has such a fantastic flavour in its simplicity. Usually, I buy fish as a whole, because it is so much fun to make your own fillets, besides no stock without fish bone and other rests. In this dish I simply poached the fillets of sea bass in the fumet and served it with it.

250 g
fish bones (and/or other parts)
500 ml fish stock
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 onion
peel of a small lemon
3 small or 1 large fennel
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
salt, pepper

The fumet is going to be more clear if you blanche the fish parts in simmering water for 1 minute before cooking. While that heat olive oil add sliced onion and fennel and sautee for a few minutes. Now add fish parts, garlic, bay leaf and lemon peel and pour fish stock over it and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes. Season with salt, pepper (if you gonna serve it as it is, in case you gonna use it in another dish, then do not). Freeze it in small portions.

Pumpkin Gnocchi

Within two days I have used two pumpkins, yeah finally, they are gone, except one. Anyway, to yesterday's muddy weather the bright orange was a great match, however today we have a beautiful white blanket over the hills. Thanks to the snow now I am floating in Christmas feeling and looking forward to all the preparations and stuff. Now back to the gnocchi. I wanted to make a normal potato and also pumpkin gnocchi.

There was still a bag of purple potato in the pantry, and as they are quite floury, I decided to use them for the gnocchi. I have put them on the stove to cook, but then I realised that the pumpkin needs more time to be baked, so I immediately took it away from the stove and switched on the oven for the pumpkin.
I decided to form the gnocchi the same way like when I made the ones with ricotta, and then I had the sudden idea of preparing a double coloured gnocchi, so I filled both in the piping bag and so the gnocchi were born. I simply served it among some brown butter and fresh parmesan, though feel free to add some fresh sage as well.

1000 g pumpkin
100 g flour
100 g parmesan
1 egg
salt, pepper

Preheat the oven to 200
°C and bake pumpkin for about 90 minutes, then let it cool for a few minutes. Half and deseed pumpkin and puree, then mix it together with the flour, freshly grated parmesan, egg and season with salt, peper and nutmeg. Pour mixture into a plastic bag or a piping bag. Bring salted water to boil, reduce hit so that it simmers. Pipe gnocchi in the simmering water and as soon as they swim on top they are ready to be served.

November 25, 2010

Pumpkin Tart with Fresh Goat Cheese

Yesterday, I have started the "Empty the Freezer" project again. This time the goal is to have enough space for the stocks that I am going to use during the holiday season. Though I haven't reached my goal the last time, but at least I have won a bit more empty space. This year I have a better chance, because there are not so much that I have to use before I start with the preparations for Christmas. Of course the most important things like the Hungarian túró and sour cherries will be saved, at least most of it. I wonder what I am going to find in the boxes, that I have forgotten already since a long time. I started the emptying process again with homemade puff pastry and some fresh goat cheese. I have also found some leftover crumble so a tart seemed to be a good idea to bake. There are still a couple of pumpkins in my pantry, so I decided to use one of them.

The crumble did a good job on highlighting the taste of the pumpkin, it might seem strange, but I really loved this combination together with the fresh goat cheese and the pumpkin seeds.

The preparation is pretty easy, just roll out the pastry and prick with a fork. Put thin slices of pumpkin on top and cover with a mixture of egg-cream-milk and parmesan cheese, seasoned with salt and freshly grated nutmeg. Sprinkle it with crumble, pumpkin seeds and fresh goat cheese then bake and serve lukewarm.

November 24, 2010

Coconut Mousse

At the begining of the month I have posted a dessert containing coconut mousse, however I still owe you the recipe. Yesterday, it was snowing for the first time while I was preparing it again. I have also spent quite a long time with creating chocolate decorations while I was wondering about the Christmas menu. About the menu I still do not have a single idea, but making the chocolate decorations was a lot of fun and I can't wait to get another bunch of foil to experiment some more. But now, let's see the recipe for the mousse.


2 egg yolks
25 g sugar
125 ml coconut milk
2 g gelatine
125 g heavy cream

Beat egg yolks with sugar until pale, while bringing the coconut milk to the boil. As soon as it starts to boil pour it over the beaten egg yolks and put it back to the stove. Cook until thickens, then stir in gelatine and let it cool. As soon as it is cold enough stir in beaten cream and let it stand in the fridge for a few hours.

November 17, 2010

What about a cup of coffee?

There is nothing that I love more than the smell of fresh coffee, though I have to confess I drink coffee maybe once in a month if at all. On the other hand I would never say no to a perfectly brewed espresso in a cozy coffeehouse.

Today morning I felt like having a cup of coffee, but instead of drinking it, I decided to hide it in a cake with some dark chocolate. It is also a great dessert if you have unexpected guests.

2 tablespoons instant coffee powder
1 tablespoon hot water
50 g dark chocolate
70 g butter
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
40 g sugar
30 g flour

Butter 4 coffee cups and preheat the oven to 150
°C. Dissolve coffee powder in hot water and melt chocolate and butter over steam together with the coffee. Meanwhile beat eggs and the yolk with the sugar until fluffy and beat in the chocolate mixture. Stir in flour and pour the batter into the buttered cups. Bake for 13-15 minutes and serve warm. The middle of the cake should still be moist.

November 16, 2010

Chestnut Soup

The chesnut is probably native in the Caucasus region, in the mountain area between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. The romans did not only use the fruit of the chestnut tree, but also made kitchen utensils out of chestnut wood and they also planted chestnut trees across Europe while on their various campaigns.

I have spent the whole morning peeling cooked chestnuts, because I planned to prepare a soup for lunch. The most important ingredient is patience, but when the chestnuts are peeled the rest is done within a couple of minutes. Of course you can use frozen, canned or dried chestnuts as well, but I would not recommand to do so. I believe that nothing can replace the taste of fresh chestnuts.

200 g chestnuts, cooked and peeled
100 g pumpkin
1 small onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
600 ml vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 orange
salt, pepper

Precook chestnut and peel. Sautee onion in olive oil, add chesnuts and sliced pumpkin and sautee for a few minutes together with mace. Pour stock over it and cook for 20-25 minutes, after puree. Season with salt, pepper, fresh orange juice and zest. Serve with orange blossom coated chestnuts, fresh sage and cream if desired.

November 12, 2010

Risotto with Goat Cream Cheese and Beetroot

It is such a grey and rainy day today, though I do love rain, but I felt like bringing some colour into the lunch. Actually, I planned to prepare something with fish, but that seemed to be too cold in a way, so I decided to cook a risotto. The fridge is always really empty at the end of the week, but I have found some beets (red, yellow and rosa ones) and a pack of goat cream cheese. It was not my intention to cook a deep red risotto, so I only added one beetroot to the simmering stock and did not use beet juice or powder. The result is kind of an orangy red dish, that has definitely brought a bit of sunshine and warmth to the plate.

3 beetroots

2 tablespoons olive oil

250 g risotto rice
200 ml white wine

500 ml vegetable or chicken stock
50 g goat cream cheese

30 g butter
1 rosemary twig
juice of 1/2 orange
butter and sugar for caramelising
salt, pepper

Peel beetroots and cut in small cubes, then cook in salty water for 5 minutes, set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and sweat the shallot until it has becomes translucent. Bring broth to the boil together with a beetroot or the skin of the peeled beets. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until the grains have become translucent; about 4 minutes.
Add wine, increase heat to medium, and stir constantly. When the wine has been absorbed, add a little of the hot bouillon and the rosemary twig. Once the stock is absorbed, add a little more; repeat this process, stirring constantly, until the rice is cooked through. Remove from heat, stir in butter and cream cheese, stir in caramelised beet, season. Cover and let stand for about 5 minutes before serving.

November 11, 2010

Cabbage Soup with Cider

This week I have been busy baking cakes, therefore I hardly had time to cook something new or to experiment. Now, I am finally back to normal so here is a warm cabbage soup with cider. The cabbage was waiting for weeks to be used, meanwhile the outer leaves were already getting yellow, so I had no more time to waste. Well, this soup won't win anything with its colour, but it has a beautiful piquant taste.

300 g white cabbage
1 medium potato
1 onion
1 tablespoon butter
300 ml cider
300 ml chicken or vegetable stock
50 ml cream
ground caraway
salt, pepper

Melt butter and sautee onion, add sliced cabbage and potato and sautee for a few more minutes. Add salt, pepper and ground caraway, then pour cider and stock on it and cook for 15-20 minutes. Puree, add cream and some more cider just before serving. Serve it with caramelised apples and fried bacon or raw ham.

November 9, 2010

Mustard Saffron Sauce

Since quite a long time a pack of Venere or Venus rice has been waiting on the pantry shelf to be cooked. This black rice originates from China, where it was cultivated already in in 2800 B.C. but it was only available for the emperors until the 1800s. It is a very healthy type of rice, it contains even more anthocyanins than brown rice. However its cooking time is long, it takes about 40 minutes. So finally it was time for me to cook it, also because I was anyway very curious about its taste. I prepared it on last Friday, that also means that it was served among fish with fennel and mustard saffron sauce.

15 g butter
15 g flour
500 ml chicken, veal or vegetable stock
200 ml cream
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
pinch of saffron
salt, pepper

Melt butter and prepare a roux with the flour, then pour cold stock on the roux and cook for about 30 minutes over low heat. Season and set 250 ml aside for the sauce. Stir in mustard and cream and cook for 5 minutes. Add saffron and cook for another 5 minutes. Season and serve.

November 8, 2010

Avocado Bavaroise

Since a while I have been curious about avocado in combination with chocolate. The actual plan was to bake a chocolate cake and serve it with avocado cream, but then I felt like experimenting.

I had the idea to combine coconut, avocado and chocolate in one dessert. As first I baked a simple coconut meringue as the bottom and I spread some chocolate ganache on top. The next step was to prepare the avocado bavaroise, that ended up on top of the first chocolate
ganache layer. This I covered with a hazelnut dacquoise, then spread another layer
of chocolate ganache and topped the whole thing with coconut mousse sprinkled with toasted coconut flakes. And those flakes drove me almost nuts while taking the photos! They just seemed to be everywhere! I am pretty sure that this was the last time when I decorated cake with coconut flakes!
240 ml milk
3 egg yolks
1 1/4 tablespoons gelatine powder
50 g sugar
1 avocado
juice of 1/2 lime
200 ml cream

Cream the egg yolks with sugar. Puree avocado, press it through a fine sieve season with lime juice and sugar if you desire. Dissolve gelatine in cold water and let it stand for about 10 minutes or as the instructions on the package require. Bring the milk to the boil and pour it over the egg yolk mixture, them cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stir in the gelatine and let it cool. Stir in the avocado puree and fold in the beaten cream. Let it stand in the fridge for a few hours.

November 5, 2010

Weekend Herb Blogging # 258 - Curly Kale

Until the end of the Middle Ages, kale was one of the most common green vegetables in all of Europe. Curly leafed varieties of cabbage already existed along with flat leafed varieties in Greece in the 4th century BC.

Kale is a form of cabbage green or purple, in which the c
entral leaves do not form a head. It is considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most domesticated forms. Kale is considered to be a highly nutritious vegetable with powerful antioxidant properties; kale is considered to be anti-inflammatory. Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, and reasonably rich in calcium. (source:wikipedia)

Last week, I had curly kale for the very first time in my kitchen. I like the normal kale very much, so it was not a surprise that this won't be different with the curly one. I
decided to preapre something rustic. A creamy polenta with dried tomatoes, sheep's milk cheese and roasted walnuts topped with kale chips.


300 g curly kale
250 g polenta
1000 ml chicken or vegetable stock
handful of dried tomatoes
1 clove of garlic
1/4 teaspoon dried majoram
1/4 teaspoon ground caraway
50 g butter
35-40 g sheep's milk cheese
roasted walnuts
olive oil
salt, pepper

Slice kale leaves but without the finning. Heat olive oil and sautee chopped garlic, spices, add kale and chopped dried tomatoes and cook for a few minutes over low heat. Add polenta and stock and cook it until the polenta is ready. Stir in butter, cheese and roasted walnuts. Season and serve.

I submit this post to the WHB created by Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen, who passed it on to
Haalo, of Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once, this time hosted by Cinzia from Cindystar.

November 4, 2010

Brussels Sprouts and other vegetables...

Every component of a dish is equally important and I always try to make the most out of each. It is only a question of being well-organised. Even with small effort you can perform magic assumed that those products are good quality. Of course one has to pay for quality, therefore I rather buy less, then to cook with something that is poor quality. Last Sunday it was once again time for some gorgeous slices of free range beef entrecôte. I did not want to prepare anything fancy with it, because the star of the meal was the meat, but it was also important not to hide the vegetables behind. The meat didn't need anything but a chunk of herb butter.

Ever since I have prepared Blumethal's roast chicken, I keep on cooking carrots the same way: for about an hour in butter with salt and pepper. The only thing that is important is not to uncover, but besides you can completly forget about it and prepare the rest of the meal.
Not so long ago it was common to overcook vegetables, yeah, I know those carrots are also cooked for a long while, but the taste is unbeatable! Anyway, now let's talk about brussels sprouts that are in season now.

In order not to destroy the character, the colour and the taste of a vegetable it is important to blanche them in boiling water, and then to chill rapidly. In case you use it or serve it immediately after blanching, then there is no need to chill. Without chilling the vegetables will continue to cook and slowly to loose their colour and turn mushy. Brussels sprouts should be blanched for about 15-20 minutes, depending on the size. I was lucky to find some really small ones that only needed 7-10 minutes. Be careful and do not let the water bubble much, because this may destroy the delicate leaves. After they are blanched and chilled let them dry and fry them in melted butter over low heat for about 5 minutes while turning once in a while. Simply season with salt and pepper and sprinkle some roasted nuts on it when serving.

Among the carrots and brussels sprouts I also cooked some turnpis. Not much to do with those either: simply sautee in butter until tender, add some garam masala, some sugar to caramelise and some port wine. I also added some veal stock, because I have just cooked a portion the evening before and I had to test the taste. Reduce liquid until it is syrupy. While the beef is resting you have perfectly enough time to finish the vegetables.

November 3, 2010

Caramel Mousse & Chocolate Ganache Verrines

After the panna cotta, I wanted to prepare another dessert with pumpkins. I had no clear plan, I only knew that I would like to combine caramel, chocolate and orange in some way. The pumpkin puree for the panna cotta was lovely, so I decided to use it in this dessert as well, however without the spices, but flavoured with orange liqueur and sweetened again with orange blossom honey. Orange and chocolate is always a winning combination, so the next component turned to be a dark chocolate ganache. Now I only had to decide if I should include these in a cake or something, but then I decided to serve it in a glass. So the pumpkin and the chocolate recieved a light caramel mousse on top, decorated with candied pumpkin and sprinkled with roasted hazelnut.

150 g sugar
125 ml water
2 1/4 gelatine leaves
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
12 g sugar
150 ml cream

Whisk the eggs and the egg yolk with the 12 g of sugar over steam until foamy. Soak gelatine leaves in cold water. Melt sugar over low heat and as soon as it has a golden brown colour pour water over it, then transfer the liquid into a bowl. Melt gelatine over low heat and stir it into the caramel liquid. Stir in the egg yolk mixture and fold in the whipped cream. Cool for 3-4 hours.

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