Usually I test my recipes several times before I post them. This recipe was such a big hit during Oscar night that I am going to post the first iteration. There are many versions of this sauce that are delicious but for once I am going to stop adjusting and just post as it is. The sauce has a strong tomato taste seasoned with Italian herbs. If you like these flavors this sauce is for you.
My husband and I have a new friend we adore. Her name is Tara and her home is in Berlin with her mother. This school year she is living with her American father and his family here in Santa Cruz. What is amazing about her is that she is truly bi-cultural. She loves German comfort food like dumplings, red cabbage with duck, and beef- or cabbage rolls. This is similar to food that her German grandmother prepares for her. I enjoy being her substitute grandmother and cooking her favorite meals. Early in the year she was a little homesick but now she enjoys life in Santa Cruz. After making meatloaf, stuffed cabbage, and several other German dishes it was time to change the menu, hence the tomato sauce.
Every Sunday I walk to our little farmer’s market around the corner and get whatever looks good. I haven't made a lot of pasta lately but when I went to the market this week I decided to splurge and make pasta with tomato sauce. I bought ground pork from a young farmer who raises pigs on a nearby farm. The meat was outstanding and I will get it again. I decided to get fresh pasta shells for my sauce and some crusty bread. Instead of a salad we had artichokes from the market. The sauce was easy to make while watching all the beautiful people on the red carpet. Tara had never seen the Oscars before and also enjoyed watching them while finishing her homework assignment.
As you probably all know, California has had a lot of rain over the last two months. But today the sun is shining and our neighbor’s fruitless plum tree is in full bloom. The beach is littered with everything that has washed ashore. It is time to collect some driftwood.
It rained and rained and rained some more. The trees fell to the ground and the wind was furious. I was lucky because I had electricity, so I cooked and cooked and cooked. I cooked a whole duck. I made a winter “farro" salad and tried a new recipe for hummus. I am working on these recipes, and will post them later. Cooking distracted me from the scarier and darker moments of the tempestuous weather. I was fortunate to be able to stay in my home and not having to evacuate like so many others.
Life is all about change and loss. What prompted me to write this was a sentence I read this morning from my blogging friend, Jo, at https://coastalcrone.com about being brave enough to change. At this stage in life, I have to contemplate changes I do not look forward to but have to face. And will have to deal with sooner or later. I usually push most of them aside. I prefer the joyful, well-lived life. Don’t we all.
But during those dark hours of rain and storm, I grieved for the loss of my oldest friends from Germany. She died last summer in a horrible car accident. She would be there forever, or so I thought. Gabriele has always been very special to me. She was like a sister. We met in boarding school when she was fourteen and I was fifteen. She fled East Germany with her parents and siblings and later worked her way to becoming a principal and advocate for special needs children.
During one of my visits, we went to a Turkish home and she told the reluctant father that his severely handicapped daughter had to attend school in Germany—by law. I was sure we would get in trouble. Another time, she saved my life when we hitchhiked as young girls in Germany. I remember so many stories full of laughter and tears, as well disagreements and hurt feelings. Why am I posting this? I am not so sure. I have mixed feelings.
What I want to say is: Be kind and gentle with the world and especially your friends. When we said goodbye last May in Germany, she hugged me and cried. Little did I know it was the last time I would ever see her.
“Perhaps they are not stars in the sky, but rather openings where loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy.
In honor of my friend, Gabriele, I would like give you the link to one of her favorite recipes: seafood pasta.
Rouladen or Rinderrouladen is a quintessential German meat dish made with bacon, onions and pickles wrapped in thinly sliced beef. The gravy is an absolute requirement to round out this dish. It is usually served with boiled potatoes, potato dumplings, or Spätzle (depending on the region). I like red cabbage with my Rouladen, but you can serve it with any vegetable you like. The dish was once considered a recipe for common folk, but today it is enjoyed by many people as a festive dish or a special Sunday meal. Imagine braised meat flavored with mustard, pickles, prosciutto, enhanced by a rich gravy. If you like that, than Rouladen is the dish for you.
My love affair with Rouladen began here in the United States when Susanne, my friend and neighbor and an excellent cook, started making it for me. This dish is the best cure when I get homesick for Germany. It’s like soul food imbedded into my DNA. It’s not fancy or delicate, but homey and nourishing. I can’t wait to sit at Susanne’s inviting table and start eating.
There are many recipes for Rinderroulden (beef roll-ups), but I enjoy Susanne’s the best. She uses thinly sliced prosciutto that she buys at Trader Joe’s (instead of bacon) as well as cornichons (gherkin pickles). The butcher slices a piece of London broil into 1/8 inch thin slices. I find that this dish develops more flavor when made a day ahead.
My recipe for red cabbage ( here is the link for the recipe) goes well with Rouladen. Susanne serves boiled potatoes that she flavors with melted butter and parsley. Thank you Susanne, for being my friend and taking care of me for so many years.
For dessert I recommend something light and lemony like my lemon mouse, lemon pudding cake, or my lemon and buttermilk sorbet. Click on the photo for the recipe.
If you like duck, try this recipe. It is easy to cook and anyone can do it. Duck confit is on the top of my list of favorite foods. I have made different dishes using duck confit over the years. My claim-to-fame recipe is Duck Quesadillas. Making duck confit is fun, however it is time-consuming and you need a lot of duck or goose fat. In the past, I have bought pre-made duck confit and there is nothing wrong with that. I freeze it, knowing I always have something very tasty in my house. I make a pasta dish with cabbage and duck confit that is delicious. My girlfriend, Marie, has promised me another dish that her French grandmother used to make. Duck confit or confit de carnard is a centuries-old process of preservation that consists of salt-curing a piece of meat and then cooking it in its own fat. You will find it in the rich cuisine of southwestern France. I had some duck confit while visiting France that was to die for, crisp skin with tender meat.
Every year, I prepare a birthday dinner for my friend, George. My best one was cooking a goose years ago. It was delicious and I will have to make it again and post the recipe. This year, I remembered a recipe from Sara Moulton that was in my fowl folder. I had been wanting to make it for years, but had forgotten about the recipe. (I have been known to get sidetracked easily.) This recipe is an easy alternative to preparing duck confit without using goose or duck fat. You cook it in a Reynolds Oven Bag. “Why not?”, I thought it was worth a try. Sara Moulton is a great cook and I always enjoy watching her on TV. Click here for her website and the original recipe. She used a whole duck. I decided to only use duck legs. (I like my duck breasts cooked differently.)
I served my duck legs with my red cabbage and roasted parsnips, sweet potatoes and fingerling potatoes. I made a gravy too, although that is not necessary
With this Linzer torte, I wish you all a happy and peaceful 2017, filled with love, happiness, sweetness and renewed hope. May you all find fulfillment and joy in this crazy world. I am so happy to share some of my life with you through my blog. Thank you all for visiting and encouraging me with your comments and friendship. It is greatly appreciated.
My love to all of you.
It seems that I am crazy about nuts these days. It has become my go-to snack during the day. But most of all, I use them in baking as I often substitute nuts for flour. For weeks, I have been trying different recipes for Linzer torte, a cake that gets its name from the town of Linz in northern Austria. This lattice-topped torte, filled with jam and a crunchy nutty crust, is a delight for the taste buds. It’s a crumbly, nutty affair that can be eaten any time of the day. I finally chose an Austrian version from a baker who inherited the recipe from her mother. I also tried a recipe from a well-known American chef who used roasted almonds and powdered sugar. I am much happier with the recipe I am sharing with you. According to Wikipedia, Linzer torte is said to be the oldest cake in the world (a fact much debated around the dinner table). Although interesting, it is not necessarily a reason to bake it. I was drawn to this cookie-like torte because of its taste and texture. It does improve with age and you can make it three days ahead of time. In my humble opinion, it needs to be served with whipped cream. I made this torte for my girlfriend’s birthday party. I served small pieces with a good amount of whipped cream (someone whipped the cream by hand and it was so good). Every last crumb was eaten, and several people went back for seconds.
A happy and healthy New Year from Sunny Cove Beach
For the last couple of weeks I have been baking up a storm. Those who follow me on Instagram and Facebook have seen my photos. Baking cookies has given me some peace in these turbulent times.
Because I like to reduce or replace sugar in recipes, some of my cookies were rejected by my tasters. One of them was my German chocolate cookies, the ones that look like paws. I liked them but nobody else did, so I won’t post that recipe.
My husband’s favorite cookies are the biscuits de Noël (French sable cookies), they are sugary and remind him a little bit of his mother’s sugar cookies minus the frosting. The recipe comes from Clotlide, who lives in Paris and has a lovely blog called Chocolate and Zucchini.
Click here for the recipe.
My girlfriend, Marie, likes my hazelnut meringue cookies. Click here for the recipe.
My favorite cookies this year are Basler Brunsli, a specialty of Basel, a city in German-speaking northern Switzerland. These cookies are chocolatey and chewy with the flavors of Christmas. The main ingredients are chocolate and raw almonds (no flour), just some confectioner’s sugar, egg whites, cinnamon and cloves. Both, the hazelnut meringue cookies and the Basler Brunsli are gluten-free.
I started my blog because my girlfriend, Diane, took me to our local bookstore over three years ago to listen to an author who was promoting her new book, My Berlin Kitchen. “Oh no,” as I thought she was one of those plump German women dressed in a dirndl with braids in her hair promoting sauerkraut and dumplings. I didn't want to disappoint my girlfriend, so I agreed to go. Off we went and I almost fell from my stool when I saw a beautiful, shy young American woman introduce herself as Luisa Weiss. This was definitely not the person I had expected. She opened my heart and allowed me to be German again. You see, I was never proud to be German, as I was mostly ashamed of Germany’s ghastly past. That evening, when I listened to Luisa read an insert from her book, my heart finally opened and I allowed myself to be German for the first time ever. It was okay, I would and could never forget what happened in Germany during the Nazi times, but I could be German and learn to love my native country.
In her first book,My Berlin Kitchen,Luisa describes her life in Berlin. Born to an Italian mother and an American father, her childhood takes place in the divided Berlin of Soviet Times. She describes many situations that are very familiar to me, such as her search to belong somewhere and her experience of different cultures. In food, she finds a common denominator. After living a successful life in New York, she leaves for love in Berlin. You can also follow her on her blog, “The Wednesday Chef.” This year, she has published a beautiful, new cookbook called Classic German Baking. This impressive volume opens up the world of Germanic baking to all of us. The Washington Post included it in the round-up of the year’s best cookbooks. According to them, Classic German Baking is “a happy marriage of European craft and American sensibilities.” When I showed it to my 16-year-old friend from Berlin, who is living with her American father here in Santa Cruz for a year, her eyes lit up and she was transported back to Berlin through all the recipes she loves.
Click here for her website The Wednesdaychef
Fruit and Nut Chocolate Chunks. No cooking required. Click here for the recipe.
These Blueberry Mini Muffins are my son's favorite. Click here for the recipe
For the last three years, my husband and I have gone abroad for Thanksgiving. Our first trip was to Rome and it was fantastic. There were no lines at the Vatican or anywhere else. The next year, we went to Prague and had duck on Thanksgiving in a cozy restaurant. Last year, we had goose in Berlin. I choose to stay home this year, but with the recent election and family stuff, I wish I was back in Rome.
I have a vivid imagination and I can picture some of you sitting around the table with family and friends and hopefully not discussing politics. That could end badly this year. Each family has their own recipes with some of them being passed down from generation to generation. The center piece is usually a turkey, if you are not a vegetarian. There also is cranberry sauce, stuffing, rolls, and so much more.
I remember my first Thanksgiving when I was in Germany and my then American husband prepared a Thanksgiving meal while I was teaching. Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Germany. I can’t remember any of the food he prepared other than the turkey. The next year, I was living in Lowell, Massachusetts and I was invited to Thanksgiving by a Greek family. I remember spinach spanakopita and a tasty stuffing. The years went by and many Thanksgivings have passed. My favorite Thanksgivings were the ones when we fed 90 people at our school. The children were dressed as Pilgrims and Indians, and recited little poems. We invited our friends from a nursing home and had a wonderful time. The children’s mothers cooked the turkey. We made instant mashed potatoes and instant gravy. Yes, you read correctly, this food blogger made instant mashed potatoes. There is no way we would be able to peel potatoes for 90 people, dress the kids and have them ready for the feast. I did bring some fresh herbs and spices for them to try. It was glorious! This was not about fancy food, but it was about giving thanks, having compassion and sharing everything. This happened on a Wednesday and I would come home and prepare another feast for my family and friends on Thursday. If you were a friend of mine, and you didn't have your own family to eat with, you were always welcome to join us. That’s what Thanksgiving is all about.
Over the years, I have made several vegetarian Thanksgiving meals with chestnut stuffing, mashed potatoes, and mushroom gravy. I lost the recipe for the best sweet potato yeast rolls ever, and I have not been able to reproduce it. Please let me know if you have some good recipes. These days, life has become simpler and I use the recipes that I have on my blog, but I’m still looking for that elusive sweet potato roll recipe!
My turkey is moist, tender and juicy with a flavorful gravy. Rosemary, thyme, and sage add flavor to both. If you are too busy to read my posts, click on the photos for the recipe.
For me the most important dishes for Thanksgiving dinner are the stuffing, the gravy and the cranberry sauce. The cranberry ketchup is a new addition to my repertoire and I love it.
I wish you all a peaceful Thanksgiving with good food, good friends and family and a full belly. And please, don't discuss politics, it is not good for digestion
Whenever I bake this tart, I pretend I am in Paris. I’m in one of those neighborhood bakeries smelling the scent of sweet pastry and fresh baguettes. I am taking my wrapped tart to one of the benches in the park near Notre Dame and savor every bite while life unfolds in front of me.
But I am not in Paris, I am in Santa Cruz and it is time to share this delicious tart recipe with you. Let’s go back to the IFBC (International Food Blogger’s Conference) in Sacramento that I attended this past summer. While there, my friend Deb (who writes a blog called “East Of Eden”) and I went on an a pre-conference excursion to the California Endive farm and Stillwater Orchards, a pear orchard in the Sacramento-San Joaquin river delta. The delta is a labyrinth of sloughs and an estuary in Northern California. It’s gorgeous country with small rural towns, islands, and tributaries flowing throughout. Most of the land has been claimed by agriculture, pears being one of the fruits grown. There is a Pear Fair in the small town of Locke. Our visit at the end of July was wonderful. The pears were on the trees, ripe and ready to be harvested. After a tour of the orchard, we had a picnic lunch under a giant oak tree. The dessert was a delicious pear crumble.
We all got a bag of pears to take home. I decided to make my pear tart with them. This tart recipe has been a family treasure for many years. Yet I am always in search of the perfect crust. For the blog post, I decided to use a pastry crust known as pâte sucrée, a rich and sweet pastry with a crisp cookie-like texture.
This creamy, cloud-like mousse is a traditional German dessert called Zitronenspeise (lemon dish). It is the perfect ending to a heavy meal and a melt-in-your-mouth heavenly dessert.
Traditionally, it is made with cream, eggs and lemon juice. After several trials, I made a lighter version using yogurt and less cream and sugar. There are several ways to serve this lemon dessert, either in individual serving bowls or in one large bowl. I like to serve it spooned onto a plate with a raspberry sauce and some added seasonal fruits. Since it is now October, I baked some plums with honey added. But any seasonal fruit is fine. Of course, this dessert is great just be itself without anything extra.
At the end of July my friend Debra who writes a blog called “East of Eden” and I attended the 2016 International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC) in Sacramento, CA. We enjoyed a wonderful weekend filled with excursions to local farms, some great break-out sessions, and a spectacular outdoor dinner. One evening, vendors from local restaurants, food suppliers and businesses introduced us to their products, one of them being pasteurized eggs from “Davidson’s Safest Choice Eggs.” Read how the eggs are being pasteurized here, which includes a cute video. Now that I found these eggs, I don't have to worry using raw eggs when I serve this dessert to my friends and family.
I am entering my recipe in a contest that Davidson’s Safest Choice Eggs has offered to bloggers who participated in either the IFBC conference, Eat Write Blog or Blog Brulee to develop a recipe using their eggs. Because I received a discount to attend the IFBC , I agreed to write three posts about the conference. For the record, all my opinions expressed are my own
It's fall and I should be posting my pear tart recipe. Instead, I bought three beautiful baskets of delicious strawberries from my friend Ronald at the local farmer's market. They are so good that we ate half of them while listening to music during our weekly get-together at the market. Each Sunday when I am in town, I meet with some friends over lunch with at the market. It has become a lovely and relaxing Sunday ritual that I really enjoy.
The strawberries from Ronald are sweet with an earthy flavor. They are good just by themselves, but I thought I fancy them up a little with vanilla sauce. It is a simple and straightforward recipe, yet so delicious – and a healthy ending to any meal. My husband decided to grill a steak since the temperature reached over 90 degrees here on the Pacific coast. After a foggy and cold summer, this was a welcome respite.
Vanilla sauce brings back memories from my childhood days. Almost every Sunday, we would have pudding for our Sunday lunch (which was dinner served at noon). We ate bread and spreads in the evening and called it Abenbrot, which literally means “the bread for the evening.” Our favorite pudding was Götterspeise (translates as “the meal of the gods”) known as Jello here in the US. Jello is also called Wackelpudding, meaning that the pudding will wobble when touched or moved. Another favorite dessert of mine is rote Grütze (red fruit Jello). My mom always would serve these puddings with vanilla sauce. I apologize for boring you with all of of this, but trust me, I have not thought of them for years. Maybe that’s why I like blogging, because it brings back so many memories. My sweet dad loved these puddings. He has been gone for so long, but I believe that chocolate pudding with vanilla sauce was his favorite. He was such a sweet and kind man.
Back to the sauce! It is light, healthy, easy to make with a velvety texture and creamy flavor. It will elevate any fresh fruit– strawberries, raspberries or simple puddings–to another level. You can make it in no time and be creative by serving a cookie on the side, some ice cream or whatever tickles your fancy. This time, I just sliced the strawberries and added some of the sauce. Enjoy!
Just in case you are longing for some apple or pear cakes, here is my well loved apple strudel cake, as well as a delicious chunky pear nut cake flavored with spices and juicy pears. Click on the picture to get the recipe.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. It means a lot to me and I would love to hear from you .
Comments in English and German are welcome!
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