I'm in my little cabin in the Sierras enjoying summer's last hurrah. Fall is definitely in the air. There is some smoke from distant fires that are burning in the foothills, but our little area has been spared so far. A couple of years ago, we had a huge fire in the Emigrant Wilderness that made it difficult to be here. People living in the area had to stay inside during the day because of the smoke. But this year, people are able to come up from the Central Valley of California to enjoy the High Sierras and our lake. There are lots of hikers and campers at the forest service office who get permits to enjoy the high mountains. The Pacific Crest Trail crosses at the top of Sonora Pass at an elevation of 9500 feet. The John Muir trail is part of the Pacific Crest Trail to the south. When I do my day hikes in these beautiful mountains, I always imagine the first settlers crossing these treacherous mountains. Some areas have appropriate names like Deadman's Creek.Here in Pinecrest, we are 60 miles (as the bird flies) from Yosemite National Park. Since I can't fly, I have to go the long way around the Emigrant Wilderness to visit Yosemite. South of the lake is a charming little town called Sonora, a historic commercial center where gold miners brought their gold. Next to Sonora is Columbia, a smaller historic gold mining town. My husband's grandfather and his brother used to hitch up a wagon to deliver produce to the miners from their ranch in Knight's Ferry which is in the Sierra foothills.
Well, you ask yourself, what does this have to do with a cooking blog? Nothing really, but I enjoy sharing part of my world with my blogging buddies—just as I enjoy reading about Australia, England, Italy, and other countries where some of my blogger friends live.
Today, I'm going to share a recipe with you that I have made numerous times. It is a scrumptious meal to share with friends and is easy to make. The recipe comes from Elfie Krieger at the “Food Network.” I tweaked it quite a bit. It is not inexpensive because it requires almost two pounds of shrimp. I usually serve this dish with quinoa and peas. Sometimes I serve it with polenta, but always with crusty bread and a salad.
Galettes made with fresh fruit of the season
For the last four weeks, I have been obsessed with galettes. Since I rarely make them, I made quite a few to try and decide which is the best. Herein lies the problem, as all my tasters liked different ones. So I slowly worked my way though them all and decided to post this one. It is a combination of two recipes, one by Jaques Pépin published in Food & Wine and the cover recipe of the July 2015 issue of bon appétit.
Galettes are all about the dough — and keeping the bottom from being mushy. I tried making crust using cornmeal, but was not impressed with the outcome. I like my fruit to be seasonal, so I made galettes with blueberries, raspberries, apricots and plums (my personal favorite). Sometimes I mix various fruits together that are leftover in my fridge. My final galette had blueberries, raspberries and two figs in it.
Jaques Pépin’s galette is marvelous with a buttery, flaky crust that that comes together in mere seconds. I made a couple of changes, such as adding one teaspoon of sugar to the dough, putting the butter in the freezer (until it is almost frozen), and making sure the water is ice cold. The secret to this dough is not to over mix it. I also brushed a tablespoon of milk on the crust and sprinkled it with a tablespoon of turbinado raw sugar before baking. I made the galette twice, but didn’t add the marmalade on the baked crust the first time. Here is the link to the Plum Galette recipe by Jaques Pépin.
I like the idea of adding nuts to the crust, which is what the bon appétit cover recipe did. They used pecans, but I decided to use almonds instead. I also added some ground almonds, sugar and flour to the bottom of the dough to prevent the galette from getting soggy. I am pleased to share the final version with you. I served this with my homemade
strawberry ice cream.
Paris in June
"If you are lucky to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you , for Paris is a moveable feast"
" Paris is the place in which we forget ourselves, reinvent, expunge the dead weight of our past"
Read about my trip to Pais this summer on my Wanderlust Blog where all my travels are posted.
(Click on the yellow highlighted words to be guided to the different links)
Beautiful ripe and tasty tomatoes are everywhere and if you are lucky you have some in your yard. My tomatoes are stuffed with zucchinis, mushrooms , and parmesan cheese.
Lentil Soup with Carrot Salad
Ok, I'm officially pouting. I don't want to face the reality of real life, making appointments, getting things in order, cleaning up my poor dried-out yard, going to the doctor and so on. I don't want to be a participant of life, I want to be an observer. I want to sit in a little French cafe watching people. I want to drink an Anis with lots of ice in the cafe Les Deux Magots in Paris where Hemingway and Jean Paul Sartre had their drinks, I want to admire all the beautiful decorated shop windows and walk until I find another cafe or museum.
I will post about my trip to France, later but for reality's sake, I need to make something that will bring me back to earth like good old fashioned lentil soup. I have made this lentil soup many times. It's an old friend of mine. I got some sausages, carrots, potatoes, and fresh herbs at the farmers' market and will use them for my soup. This recipe is not written in stone, so you can add different ingredients. I have sautéed pancetta with the veggies and that was delicious. It is very easy to make a vegetarian or even vegan version of this soup by omitting the meat and Parmesan cheese rind, using vegetable broth instead of chicken. You can also add baby spinach with the basil at the end to up the health factor. Puréeing part of the soup gives it a creamy texture. I use an immersion blender, but a blender or food processor will do the same thing. As you see, there are many variations on the theme. Have fun and enjoy this wonderful filling and healthy soup.
For a little salad, I grated a couple of carrots, added some lemon juice and raisins. It is a great addition to the soup.
I buttered my bread and added thinly sliced radishes sprinkled with coarse sea salt.
Paris and Apricot Bliss
Why the title? Because next week if everything goes well, my hubby and I will be in Paris. We will have our sentimental Paris moments sitting on a bench in the Tuileries Gardens. Which flowers are blooming at the end of June? We will discover our favorite places on foot, browse outdoor markets, observe life from an outdoor café and poke our noses into doorways to find hidden courtyards and gardens. We will visit some museums and I hope to discover new little restaurants, cafés, bakeries or anything that has to do with food. We will do what we had planned to do last year in April. But circumstances changed. Read my story here.
Now to the apricots! Originally, I had planned to post some new recipes, but they needed more work before I can launch them into cyber space. But most of all, it is apricot season. I love apricots and I especially love apricot jam. I made my apricot jam this year with different apricots and it turned out fantastic. I love the flavor, so sweet and tangy! I think adding the apricot pits puts it over the top. I've been eating it by the spoonful. I was looking for Blenheim apricots, but they are just getting ready and are only available for a few weeks.
This delicious German apricot coffee cake was one of my first posts. I made it again last week and it was well liked. The cake is easy to make, as it is light and fluffy .The apricots give it a nice fruity flavor and it looks great when you cut it into pieces. This cake will dazzle at any picnic or potluck. Adding a little piece of marzipan where the pit was just adds additional flavor. You can also substitute plums for apricots.
Last but not least is my fruit tart. A marzipan cream is added to the tart before you add the fruit. This tart is yummy. Again, you can substitute other fruit for the apricots. I added some raspberries I had left over. Instead of inviting your friends for dinner, invite them for tea or Kaffeeklatsch as we call it in Germany. Kaffeeklatsch means to have coffee, something sweet to nibble on and Klatsch, gossiping ...
Let me know if you have a favorite restaurant or place in Paris. I would love to hear from you. Cross your fingers and hope that hubby and I are over our colds before we leave.
Lasagne with Butternut Squash and Hazelnuts
This vegetarian lasagna is a dish with an incredible combination of flavors.
When I first came to this country many years ago, I left a family, a home, a scholarship, and many friends behind in Germany. There were times when I just wanted to go home and I knew it I could because of my grandfather. My grandfather was a wonderful man who I loved dearly. Two world wars had taken his only son, his wife and several of his brothers. His gentle soul poured all the love he had into me when I was born. We all lived together in one large farmhouse. As a baby, he carried me when he thought I was not comfortable. As I grew up, he took me everywhere, holding my hand. I have a picture of the two of us all dressed up going to a garden show. There is this giant of a man in riding boots and little me holding his hand and smiling. He never learned to drive a car, but he took his horse and carriage to the neighboring town to deliver eggs to his customers. I came along whenever I could. These were old-fashioned grocery stores and some private customers.
I remember getting the best dill pickles or candy from his customers. He was an extremely proud man: when he said something, it meant something. Many evenings I went to a woman who sold beer and beverages in our village and got him one bottle of beer. Yes, kids in Germany were allowed to carry alcohol. That same woman also had a machine to seal cans of cooked meat and vegetables. The only time he got mad at me was when he saw me in a very short mini-dress. He didn’t like that at all. I can just imagine how sad he was when I immigrated to the United States. He went to a travel agent and asked her how much a return ticket from the States to Germany would cost. He gave me enough money to return to Germany if I had to. He gave me some other money too, but this amount he said I should always keep in case I wanted to come home. And my grandfather did not have a lot of money. So, I kept that money for a long time, and when I was really homesick, I knew I could go home whenever I wanted to.
Recently, I had a wonderful visit from my niece and her boyfriend and both of them got to choose their favorite food. My niece chose butternut squash lasagna and her boyfriend picked meatloaf. We had such a good time together, and I hated to see them go. We remembered stories from my mother, how she encouraged my niece, who was her granddaughter. I made this lasagna several times for parties (and my vegetarian friends) and it always gets rave reviews. The recipe is from an old issue of Gourmet Magazine.
Robert's Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
The perfect treat for a Sunday afternoon or anytime
Several of my friends make great pies and I love to eat them, but I rarely make them myself. Don't ask me why...maybe I will get inspired someday and start baking them. In the meantime, my friend Robert made this delicious rhubarb strawberry pie and he was kind enough to post it on my blog. Thank you, Robert, it was fun watching you make the pie while I took the photos. Robert is not a newcomer to my blog. He and I made tomato sauce with tomatoes from his beautiful garden last summer.
But before Robert tells us how he makes his pie, I would like to share a great day I had in Berkeley with my girlfriend. We went to Berkeley for a book reading of Nancy Vienneau 's new cookbook Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook. It is a book that assembles seasonal recipes from a group of people who come together to share their love of food. It's a great idea and sounds like a lot of fun. I love the book and will make some recipes from it. Nancy has a great blog called good food matters. Go visit her website.
Before we went to the book reading, my girlfriend and I had a glorious dinner at Alice Water's café, Chez Panisse. It is an experience one should not miss when in the Berkeley area. Her food is clean, prepared with finesse, yet not pretentious. I had a piece of halibut cooked to perfection in a sorrel broth with fresh spring veggies. My girlfriend had the mushroom lasagna made with morel mushrooms. We also found a great bakery that had the best croissants I have had in a long time, and the bread was also outstanding. FOURNÉE is run by hard working people making fantastic products. All in all we had a great time. It's nice to run away for a day.
by Robert Lee Kilpatrick
Pie-making in America goes all the way back to colonial times when the English and Dutch settlers brought recipes to the New World. Each Thanksgiving, we are reminded of feasts held in New England by the native tribes and the Pilgrims, with pumpkin pie high on everybody’s list of treats – then and now. A common phrase is, “as American as apple pie.” I can testify from personal experience that it’s very easy to eat your way across America if you eat pie. My family came to St Simon’s Island in Georgia in 1720, so we have been baking pies for a very long time. One of my favorites is the combination of strawberries and rhubarb. This pie is easy to prepare and ideal for a beginner.
There are two main components to all pies: crust and filling. This is true weather the pie contains fruit, or is savory (meat or fish-based). I always begin by preparing the crust because it requires about an hour in the refrigerator to cool once the dough is made. During this time, I prepare the filling.
Pie Tips: here are a few useful tips that will make the experience of pie-making fun and easy. Firstly, always check to be sure that you have all the ingredients called for in a recipe, and multiply quantities depending on the number of pies you plan to make. A last minute dash to the market can really foul up timing. Secondly, put all ingredients within easy reach while cooking. Thirdly, review and understand the recipe before you start; be aware of what you are doing and what times and temperatures are needed. Lastly, don’t be afraid to experiment. Recipes are there for a reason: they are a record of what has worked for others, over time. But you may like to try something new, once you have mastered the basic recipe. For example, you can paint the top of a pie crust with milk, or egg white (sprinkling sugar or not), or leave it plain. It all depends on what you prefer.
Pappardelle with Fava Bean Leaf Pesto , Fava Beans, Salmon and Shiitake Mushrooms
When I did my weekly shopping at the farmer's market, I came upon a treasure I had never used before—fava leaves. I adore and love fava beans, but I don't like hulling and peeling them. A real pain in the tush. Preparing fava beans is a lot of work, but you do end up with a wonderful spring treat. Fava beans (also known as broad beans) are the king of all beans. Their flavor is smoother, sweeter and richer than most other beans.
When I spotted some fava bean leaves in a bag, my cooking antenna went up. "What do you do with them?" I asked. " Pesto" was the answer. That bag of leaves went in my basket faster than a dog chasing a cat.
A chance to produce the taste of fava beans without all the work . Here I had lived all my life without knowing that you could make pasta out of fava bean leaves! I made the pesto and it was delicious.
The dark green, shiny pesto had a tinge of bitterness with a nutty flavor similar to arugula. I played with it all week. I had it on all my sandwiches and on my leftover veggies, and potatoes.
I used some of the pesto to make my pasta dish using Mike's pasta. An ode to Mike and his delicious fresh-made pasta that is light, smooth and to me, the perfect pasta. It is made in Santa Cruz and delivered fresh to several local grocery stores. I fell in love with Mike's pasta many years ago when there was little fresh pasta available. Many a night when I came home from work thinking of making dinner, I would stop and get some of his tasty raviolis. I would cook them and add some tomato sauce or some garlic and butter. Within 20 minutes a mushroom, sweet potato, cheese, or tofu ravioli would smoothly slide down my throat delighting my senses. My family and I would enjoy a great meal. What more can you ask for? I use his fettuccine pasta for my seafood pasta. Mike's pasta has kept the same quality over the years. Nobody talked him into adding stuff, so his pasta would have a longer shelf life. He didn't go public or franchise his business, no sireee, he just kept making perfect fresh pasta. Thank you, Mike, from the bottom of my heart for the many good meals. Disclaimer: I don't know Mike and I'm not getting paid or anything . But I might go visit him one of these days.
I took my last ½ cup of fava bean pesto to the cabin. We needed to remove potential fire material around the cabin. But it snowed and there was no work to be done outside. Instead we lit a cozy fire and enjoyed the winter scenery. I had brought up some pappardelle from Mike, some fava beans and shiitake mushrooms from the Farmer's Market. I had splurged and bought some local wild king salmon that was caught in our bay. This is such a treat but it is becoming very expensive. I prepared a wonderful spring meal in a winter wonderland. We opened a bottle of crisp white burgundy, which was a perfect complement to the meal.
A tasty vegan salad that will please a crowd and is great for any party or picnic.
Chinese Noodle Salad with Asparagus
I have made this salad for many years and on many occasions but never for 50 people. The recipe comes from one of my old well-loved cook books, The Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison and Ed Brown. Deborah Madison was Greens' founding chef. Ed Brown is well known for his Tassajara Bread Book and so many other inspiring books on the Zen of cooking. I adore his books. If you are in San Fransisco, this well-loved vegetarian restaurant in Ford Mason has been an icon of gourmet vegetarian food for many years. It is a real San Francisco experience.
At this time last year, I was in Marrakech for a week with a group of wonderful people including a very dear friend of mine. We had a great time exploring the sights and Moroccan culture. Since I was with a group of Germans and Swiss, everybody assumed that I also was German. Who am I? German, American, or am I the sum of both? Here in the States, people ask me where I am from. I look at them and say Santa Cruz, especially when I am at home in Santa Cruz. You see, after all these years, I still have a slight accent. When I am in Germany, people can't figure out where I'm from. I don't have an accent when I speak German, but I am different in the way I behave and dress. I don't fit the mold. I don't belong anymore. These are subtle things. I love my German family and friends and I know that I am one of them, but my home is in Santa Cruz and that's where I am fortunate enough to live. I do miss going back to my mother and my childhood home. My mom is gone now and there isn't a day when I don't miss her—and the home and the love she gave me. My brother and his family are still at the farm, but I'm not ready to go back quite yet because it will not be the same.
Life continues, it goes on and it is beautiful. I have so many things to be thankful for. I am thankful for my dear friends, Diane and George, and their beautiful serene mountain retreat. It is a dream, even when it rains on the day of a big party. We were celebrating a birthday and a soon-to-be-married beautiful granddaughter. It was the only rain we had in months here in California, so nobody was complaining. An old spinnaker sail was hoisted over the picnic tables and it kept out most of the precious rain drops. There was a big, beautiful, smoked ham from the Corralitos Meat Market local butcher, and much more delicious food.
I volunteered to make my Chinese noodle salad for 50 people. My big turkey fryer was the only container large enough to transport this humongous salad.
It was a lot of work, a labor of love.
If you are looking for a refreshing drink for a lunch or party, try my strawberry punch or Erdbeerbowle as we call it in Germany. This is a wonderful way to drink your fruit.
Why Do We Cook?
Why do we cook? We have to eat of course, but we don’t necessarily have to cook to do so. Today, we have many options including eating out at restaurants or bringing prepared food home. One of the questions I often ask people is, “Do you cook?” Many times, the answer is,”not really!” I ask that question because I love to talk about food and cooking. It’s almost an obsession. I ask questions, I snoop around cooking blogs, I go directly to the food section in magazines and so on. I relish food with my senses by smelling it and enjoying the different flavors. I know I’ve come across something special when the flavors explode in my mouth and create a sensation of pure pleasure. That is what happened several weeks ago at my little cabin in the woods.
My sister-in-law and her family came over for dinner. My husband grilled a beautiful rack of lamb and some small white creamer potatoes on the side. He does this to perfection and everybody loves it. He slices the rack into paired ribs and generously coats them with pepper and garlic salt. He puts them on a gas grill on medium heat and pays attention so they do not burn. He serves them medium rare. Sometimes, depending on the ribs, he trims the excess fat. He precooks his potatoes in the microwave for about 2-3 minutes depending on the number of potatoes. The potatoes go in a bowl with olive oil and garlic salt. You want to have a good coating of olive oil on all the potatoes. Then he puts them on the upper grill and cooks them with the meat until they are soft. He coats the potatoes during the grilling with leftover olive oil. He sits outdoors next to his barbecue, enjoying a scotch, watching his food cook as I busy myself in the kitchen.
On this particular night, I roasted some fresh asparagus coated with walnut oil sprinkled with sea salt in a preheated oven at 375˙degrees for about 8 minutes. The cabin is at a 6000-foot elevation, so the cooking time increases. I made my citrus vinaigrette for my green salad and pulled out my sauces and condiments that everybody loves with the lamb. Mint jelly is a must, however, my mountain fridge had some wonderful treasures—like the cranberry ketchup I made for our Christmas dinner and never used, and my green sauce that I made a couple of days before to go with salmon cakes. This green sauce had more garlic than normal and was mostly yogurt with some chives. We had a great dinner, and the wine and conversation was flowing. Everybody seemed to enjoy the food. I covered my little creamy potatoes and pieces of lamb with the different sauces—and it was divine. Some of the little lentils from my lentil salad were swimming in the sauce–and oh what flavor! Every bite brought more joy.
Earlier that day, I made a lentil salad to go along with the feast. I have made lentil salad many times and it never turns out the same. There is a wonderful recipe from Regina Schrambling on the Wednesdaychef blog that I sometimes make. It uses leeks, hazelnuts and duck confit. Most of the time, I just make a simple vinaigrette that I pour over the warm lentils for a delicious salad that I can eat for days to come. This time, I cooked some carrots with my lentils and added some celery and to the finished salad. When I eat the salad by itself I like to add either goat or feta cheese.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. It means a lot to me and I love to hear from you .
Comments in English and German are welcome!