Fröhliche Weihnachten and best wishes for the coming year!
I was looking through my Christmas baking folder for some inspiration (which I need desperately these days) and came upon a recipe from a 2002 Gourmet magazine issue. I had written “excellent” on the recipe. Last year, I made a a similar cookie recipe from Luisa Weiss’s Classic German Baking called Baseler Brunsli (click here for the recipeBaseler Brunsli). Both these cookies belong to the family of Lebkuchen. You can find many different recipes for Lebkuchen throughout the German-speaking countries. Lebkuchen is a blanket term for German gingerbread, and this particular recipe is a smoother and more cake-like version, with a hint of chocolate, hazelnut and almond too. I love them because they are not overly sweet, but my American family is not a big fan of this tasty treat. They will go for the sweeter shortbread, sugary kind of cookie. That’s why I bake a variety of different cookies, put them in my tins and have one I like in the afternoon with my tea.
I baked these cookies because they remind me of the German Elisenlebkuchen, a treat from the German town of Nürnberg. Traditionally, they are baked on wafers and covered with either chocolate or a powdered sugar icing. I didn’t add the wafers and the icing, which makes them less sweet and easier to bake. I also liked the combination of ground hazelnuts and almonds. Instead of chocolate, this recipe uses unsweetened cocoa powder. Like all Lebkuchen recipes, these cookies improve after being stored in a tin for a few days or weeks. They are soft and chewy, and should not be stored with other cookies.
This year will be a special Christmas because my niece and her husband are visiting from Germany. It doesn’t happen very often that I get to celebrate with my German family and it is always very special to me when they come to my home in California. So, I am baking and decorating as much as I can. Check out my post from 2016 with most of my family’s favorite cookie recipes. (click here)
If you feel like a savory treat for the holidays, try my country pâté. It’s a great party pleaser.(click here )
My dear readers, I wish you all a peaceful holiday filled with good food and surrounded by people you love. May the stars shine upon you and may your home be filled with warmth and good cheer.
Fröhliche Weihnachten and best wishes for the coming year!
Every year, I eagerly await the time when the persimmons ripen in our little town of Santa Cruz. They are a sure sign that fall has arrived. I don’t have a tree myself, but friends and locals are willing to share their bounty. Hachiya persimmons are the ones I get most of the time. They are teardrop-shaped and have to soften before you can use them. Fuyu persimmons are the flat-looking ones that are great sliced in salads and other dishes. Persimmon trees can grow up to 70 feet tall, and one of these wonderful trees grows in my girlfriend’s son’s garden.
I have been cooking and baking with persimmons for years. Read more about persimmons and the recipe for my persimmon bread on a previous post (click here).
Each year, I can't wait to make this chutney. The recipe comes from a twenty-year-old local newspaper clipping. The chutney is great with a variety of different foods. This year, I am going to make it part of my Christmas cheese board. It is also great with fish, on duck breasts, or with any food you can think of. In the photo above, I am serving it with my muffin quiches without a crust . These quiches make a healthy snack. (click here to get the recipe)
My chutney is rather mild and not overly sweet. The fresh ginger gives it a great flavor. Since I am hosting our book club next week, I am giving each member a jar of my chutney and persimmon bread as a gift.
At the end of October I spent five days in Singapore and had a wonderful time. If you are interested in my adventure you can read about it on my Wanderlust blog, click on this link.
How can it already be Thanksgiving again? Time flies by so fast, it's scary. During previous years, we often traveled. I remember the duck dinner in Prague and the beautiful week in Rome where we had pasta for Thanksgiving. This year we are going to our little cabin in the Sierra Mountains to celebrate with my sister-in-law and her family. It's going to be low-key and relaxing, especially since my brother-in-law will barbecue the turkey and my nephew is a great cook. For Christmas, I will have a full house since I will celebrate with my niece and nephew from Germany and my American family. I am always very happy when I get visitors from Germany because it's during the holidays when I miss them the most.
When it comes to Thanksgiving, each family has their treasured recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. There is Aunt Mary's jello salad and the bean casserole from your grandmother. And let's not forget sweet potato pie. Tell me, what are some of the recipes you make each year? My family tradition is my red cabbage which is liked by everybody, so I will be making it again this year. Click here for the recipe.
Years ago, when I was a vegetarian, I would cook everything but the turkey. The centerpiece would be my stuffing served with mushroom gravy. I apologize for the poor quality of the photos, but they are all from previous Thanksgiving posts. I have been making this shiitake and chestnut stuffing as long as I can remember. Click here for the recipe.
If you are looking for a juicy small bird for Thanksgiving, check out my recipe for dry-brined turkey with silky gravy. I will be making this one for Christmas. Click here for the recipe.
For me, sauces and condiments are just as important as the bird. My cranberry ketchup is a wonderful addition for the holidays and I make it every year. Here is a link to the recipe.
For those of you who don't want to tackle a whole bird, I have a recipe for turkey parts. Here, I brine the parts overnight, which makes for juicy and tasty turkey. If you are interested, click here for the recipe.
Toasted, roasted, baked and done! I hope your Thanksgiving is lots of fun.
Oh, one thing, don't forget to give your compliments to the chef, and help with the dishes afterwards.
Wishing you all a relaxing Thanksgiving feast with good food, family and loved ones. May your home be filled with laughter and happiness.
I really shouldn't do this, instead I should go for a walk to give my old body some exercise before a very long flight. But I just have to share this because fig season is almost over and I love this mustard. Have you noticed that I am running a little behind when it comes to seasonal cooking? Later on, I will try making this recipe using dried figs and add it here.
It all began with a basket of Italian figs that my girlfriend Diane gave me.
This mustard would be great on a cheese plate or on a turkey sandwich. In France, figs and fig mustard is often served with foie gras, and in Germany it is served with a Weißwurst (veal sausage). This is not a sweet mustard, but it is full of flavor with the taste of the figs and a hint of vinegar.
Fall is in full swing and tomato season is over. Here in Santa Cruz there are still some wonderful heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market. I savor every one of them, as I know only too well that pretty soon they will all be gone. Many of my blogger friends who grow their own tomatoes have posted some great recipes for canning and preserving them one way or another.
About three weeks ago, I picked my meager cherry tomatoes in my sad-looking garden. Since I was going away I needed to do something with them. Years ago I slow roasted some regular-sized tomatoes and I remember enjoying them. Being pressed for time, I tossed them with some herbs, garlic and olive oil and roasted them in the oven. The result was a delicious tasting treat that could be used in many ways. It’s perfect on a slice of baguette, in a salad or on a sandwich. The leftover oil is wonderful by itself.
For my second try I choose some store bought cherry tomatoes . They were not as good as the first batch because I think the skin of the tomatoes was too thick.
I used my farmers market vegetables for this delicious Mediterranean fish baked in parchment paper with anchovies, green beans, olives and tomatoes. This is an old recipe that I always enjoy making and it takes little time to prepare. It is a healthy dinner any time of the week.
Cooking in parchment paper is a simple and healthy way to steam food in its own juices and it seals in all the wonderful aromas. There is little cleanup afterward and you can be creative with the vegetables and fish.
Fall has arrived and I have been happily cooking away in my kitchen with my new-found treasure Zwetchgen, a small unassuming purple plum that is called Italian plum in this country. In their natural state these plums have very little flavor and taste bland—but once baked, they transform into a treat , perfumed, tart, and sweet. I made several batches of my plum butter and I am thrilled to have them in my pantry (garage). The flavor is amazing, rich and earthy. But I also made several cakes.
Every September, from 1983-1989 the New York Times printed Marian Burros’ recipe for plum torte. Here is a link to the recipe (and I love reading all the comments). I have made this cake twice now, and have adjusted the recipe to my taste. I also baked a tart with a custard that my Swiss friend made for me in Switzerland. It was delicious and I hope to post it one of these days. My French girlfriend made a tarte aux quetsches, unfortunately I didn't get to taste it. Zwetschgenkuchen in Germany is usually baked with a lot of plums and a yeast-based sheet cake. Marian Burros’ Plum Torte recipe is a no-fuss, easy-to-make dessert. It is similar to other cake recipes with fruit that I have made many times. My tasters approved, but my fussy husband thought it was a little dry.
I also like using plums for my galette. Click for the recipe here.
When I was a child, we had several plum trees in our garden. One variety was called Zwetschgen, similar to the prune. Our Zwetschgen tree would overflow with fruit and our family would make Zwetschgenmus (aka spiced plum butter) in a huge copper kettle that was heated by a piece of burning wood from underneath. We would have big glass canning jars with rubber rings in our pantry filled with delicious plum butter.
As children we could not get enough of this sweet, rich and gooey plum butter spread on country bread and topped with schmand. The best way to describe schmand is a fresh cream that is similar to Créme Fraîche or whipping cream. I used greek yogurt on my sandwich .
In this country we call Zwetschgen Italian plums and they are seldom available where I live . You can imagine how happy I was when I found them in a local food stand. I bought all they had and made two different batches of Zwetschgenmus and baked two different cakes.
My Zwetschegenmus is a tartly rich and earthy-tasting fruit butter with a slight taste of cinnamon and allspice. These sour little plums (without much juice or flavor) once baked turn into an amazingly flavorful treat. It’s like the frog that turns into a prince. For the Zwetschgenmus, I chose a recipe from Louisa Weiss’s Classic German Baking book. I have to say it turned out just as good as Helga Papas,’ my village neighbor who has made it for decades in Germany and always shared some with my family. My brother is especially fond of it and I will keep a jar for him to eat when he comes to visit me this year. If you see this little unpretentious plum in a store next to their juicy voluptuous cousins, don’t pass them by. You will not regret it when you have a spoonful of Zwetschgenmus.
I have an everlasting love for Paris. I discover something new every time I go there and fall in love with it all over again. Click over to my wanderlust blog and read about my last trip to Paris. (Sorry for any inconvenience, but my Wanderlust blog doesn’t send emails to notify you of new blog entries.)
As a treat, I will give you an iced coffee drink that was my absolute favorite when I was a young student. This was long before the era of Starbucks & today’s coffee culture. In those days, Europe had café-bakeries. A good cup of coffee was considered a luxury, so many people drank fake coffee (chicory) because the real stuff wasn’t available, especially in East Germany. Giving someone a pound of good coffee was a great gift. At that time, I wasn’t much of a coffee drinker, but I always loved to have an Eiskaffee (cold coffee with ice cream). As a young student, I was living mostly on french fries with mayonnaise (I switched to ketchup when I came to this country) which was sold from stands on every corner. You could also get currywurst, a sausage topped with ketchup and sprinkled with curry and paprika. However, when I had some extra money, I would treat myself to an Eiskaffee in a fancy coffee house. Whenever I am in Germany in the summertime, I revive memories by having this delicious drink. On my last trip to Europe, my friends from Switzerland took us to Lake Konstanze, which borders Switzerland and Germany. We had a lovely outdoor lunch with a view of the lake, and for dessert we ordered Eiskaffee. What a fun afternoon with good food and good friends. I know the hot weather is mostly over, but enjoy this treat anyway with a friend or loved one. It’s a great way to use up leftover cold coffee. Think of it as a coffee milkshake, only better.
All you need is :
a tall glass
1 scoop vanilla ice cream
1 cup or cold coffee
½ cup or less whipped cream
1 tube-shaped wafer cookie (Trader Joe’s has some good ones).
Scoop the vanilla ice cream into a tall glass.
Poor the cold coffee over the ice cream.
Top with whipped cream and a cookie.
You can sweeten your whipped cream or coffee and add some shaved chocolate to garnish.
Guten Appetit, my friends
recipe by ©sunnycovechef.com
Five years of blogging. It is unbelievable how time flies. Wasn’t it just yesterday that my girlfriend took me to a local bookstore to hear an author read about cooking and living in Berlin. When the evening was over, I was mesmerized. The book was My Berlin Kitchen, and the author was Luisa Weiß, who also has a blog called The Wednesday Chef. Even though she is much younger than I am, there are many things she wrote about that I can relate to—her love for Berlin and German cooking comes through loud and clear.
Click here for the crêpe recipe
Me, blogging? I never would have considered blogging myself, but I did. And now it is a part of my life that gives me great pleasure and deep satisfaction, not to mention the many virtual friends I have made in the blogging world. Most mornings I read new posts from all over the world, which leaves me feeling connected and freed from the worries of my life. Thank you, my friends, for encouraging me and sharing your lives with me.
Click here for the quesadillas post
At one point, I was thinking about redoing my website, but I didn’t. Maybe if I find the right person to help, I will make some necessary changes. But right now, I am happy with what I have. I continue to be amazed at how many thousands of people visit my little blog. It makes me a bit more careful and I do worry about the mistakes I make.
Click her for the warm goat cheese and roasted garlic dip.
When I started this blog, one of my goals was to organize my recipes that were often on scattered pieces of paper with scribbled notes, full of ingredients and additions to the recipe that were difficult to decipher. Now I am able to quickly pull up a recipe when I need one. I like that very much, as it takes the guesswork out of cooking the recipes I use most.
One common thread that runs through my recipes are that my desserts are not overly sweet. I cut down on the sugar as much as I can. I love sweets but my body doesn't, it's not fair. Many of my desserts have nuts in them. Anything with chocolate improves my day.
Click her to visit my chocolate tart post
I love different flavors in my main dishes, and there is always some sort of sauce in my fridge. Whether it’s a Romnesco or a green sauce, vegetables are usually the main ingredients. I love trying new flavors and ingredients. I don’t like my food to be boring.
Click here for my Schnitzel bonanza
Thanks to all of you for showing an interest and connecting with me through my cooking and Wanderlust blog. I enjoy the company and hope that I am able to share tidbits of my life, my cooking, and my traveling a little while longer with you.
Gerlinde aka the Sunnycovechef
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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