These are not your usual meringue cookies. They are delicate, dense, frothy and chewy, more like a macaroon. My French girlfriend calls them macaroons. Over the years, I have reduced the amount of sugar in them, so do not put less sugar than is in this recipe.
I played with the topping and this time I added chocolate chips. A whole hazelnut is another option. The ground hazelnuts provide a distinctive nutty flavor. You could also substitute ground almond meal, available at Trader Joe's. Since I have never made them with ground almonds, let me know how they taste.
These cookies are easy to make and will last for a week—and they are gluten free!
The beautiful sights of Rome
Recently, I was fortunate to spend seven beautiful days in Rome when my husband and I decided to skip Thanksgiving and go to Rome instead. Rome is an amazing city, a feast for the eyes, the soul—and the stomach. Around every corner there is a piazza with old stucco buildings, churches, ruins that date back hundreds, possibly thousands of years. It is a city made for walking until you have to cross a busy street—then stop dreaming and watch out! You can spend an entire week rushing from any given church, museum or site to another. But be careful in trying to do it all, because if you do so you will never take in the essence and beauty that this town has to offer. Rome is made for walking, so take your most comfortable walking shoes for the cobblestones. When the walking is too much, just take a taxi or public transportation to your next destination, sit down for a cappuccino, have a gelato or an afternoon lunch. My husband and I would pick one tourist destination a day, and for the rest of the day just wander around with a general idea of where we wanted to go. We found some beautiful places when we got lost—and ate some fantastic food. Rome's center is relatively small and easy to navigate.
One day, we took a taxi to the piazza Campo de' Fiori. This place transports you back to a different time were it not for the cars and scooters. In the morning, there is a market where you can explore the sites by walking the small streets full of wonderful shops and buildings. Before Campo de' Fiori (across the Tiber River) is the Jewish ghetto with plenty to see and eat. This time of the year, fried artichokes were served at many of the restaurants. When it comes to local restaurants, I just follow my nose and look at what's going on. I also got some names from internet sites like "Rachel Eats" as well as guide books. However, it was difficult to follow the walks because there are few street signs which makes things are a bit confusing. By wandering around, we found some bakeries, gelato places and eateries. From the piazza de Fiori, we walked along small streets to the piazza Navona, a beautiful oblong square with the Four River Fountain built in Baroque style by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. We got to the piazza just as the last light of the day was shining through the open bell tower, a breath-taking scene. There is a small store selling beautiful decorated notebooks—and don't forget the ice cream! Continue walking and you arrive at the Pantheon, an astonishing building with huge columns and an indoor room with an open ceiling that will take your breath away. This room inspired later domes, including Michelangelo's St. Peter. Around the corner, you will find a restaurant called "Armando al Pantheon,” a family-run trattoria that serves fantastic seasonal Roman food in a warm atmosphere. We had lunch there and the food was outstanding. Another restaurant we liked was "Target.” This restaurant was near our hotel on the Via Torino. I loved their octopus soup, a rich tomato-base soup. In other places, we ate pasta with freshly picked porcini mushrooms. We found as delicatessen where we bought fresh bread, Parma ham and wonderful local cheeses, so we had a picnic. For dessert, we had sweets and gelato. All that walking, I felt that this caloric intake was fully justified.
A healthy satisfying vegan dish
This is by far my favorite way to prepare winter greens. The raisins and sugar add a touch of sweetness to the vegetables. The vinegar gives it a bite, and the nuts add a bit of crunch. I have used kale with this recipe and it works well. I'm always happy when I bring home a big bunch from the farmer's market. I prepare the greens for dinner and then have a leftover for lunch the next day. By the way, it tastes great with a fried egg on top—the perfect lunch.
This a straightforward recipe that is easy to prepare and makes a great leftover. Substitute any winter green you like for Swiss chard. Adjust the sugar and vinegar to your taste.
This is a healthy and nourishing dish
Once in while, you prepare food you usually don't eat. It's fall in northern California and the farmers’ markets sell every kind of pumpkin or squash you’ve ever dreamed of. There is a splendid variety of kale, spinach, mustard greens and Swiss chard. We still have some dry-farmed tomatoes in the market too. Although the skin is a little thicker, they are still delicious and I will miss them when they are gone. The peppers have a couple of weeks left. I discovered Padron (aka Shishito) peppers this year, small green peppers that are a bit on the hot side. I love to sauté them in olive oil, sprinkle with garlic salt and nibble on them all day long and they taste fabulous cold.
Then there are the red and green cabbages. Ron, my strawberry farmer, is selling Spitzkohl, a cone-shaped white cabbage. So, it is at that time that my German DNA takes hold of me and my childhood memories come streaming back of all the ways to eat cabbage: as soup, as a cooked vegetable, stuffed cabbage, homemade sauerkraut, not to mention my aunt’s Weißkraut mit Kümmel (white cabbage with cumin seeds). That is what I'm cooking tonight with boiled potatoes (mashed potatoes would be good too) and a pig’s knuckle I got from the rotisserie wagon at the farmer's market. Personally I love the cabbage and potatoes, but not the knuckle. Let's not get too German...sometimes I wonder whatever happened to my French cooking? I will make up for it tomorrow night, when we will dine at Absinthe in San Francisco and I will eat the best onion soup on this side of the Pacific. My husband loves pork knuckles and will eat them whenever we are in Germany. This is the first time I have served it at home. After all, he is taking me to the opera in San Francisco tomorrow to see the “Barber of Seville,” so he deserves his favorite food. I ate a little of the knuckle meat and it was good smothered in mustard. The cabbage was a little overcooked and I’m not sure about adding the sour cream. Actually, I think it is better without it. Mashed potatoes would also complement this dish. This can also be turned into a great vegan meal using tofu for the protein. You see, my Californian environment has influenced me.
Prepare this dish to your liking. I think cooking it for 15 to 20 minutes will leave some crunch in the cabbage. Adding the sour cream is a matter of taste, as I prefer it without. My aunt used to smother it in Schmand, a German version of sour cream, and she used lard instead of oil.
An easy to make elegant and light soup, perfect for a first course.
When wandering through the Whole Foods produce department, I spotted white asparagus—my all time favorite vegetable—and it was fresh! In the past, the asparagus sold in this country was old and not worth the effort. Leave it to Whole Foods to make me happy. So, I decided to make Spargelsuppe (asparagus soup). This is a very delicate soup that brings out the wonderful flavor of the asparagus. Germans love their asparagus and when it is in season you will find asparagus on the menu of every restaurant. It is traditionally eaten with melted butter and boiled potatoes, and sometimes hollandaise sauce is substituted for the melted butter. It is also served with different kinds of hams or schnitzel (a breaded pork chop).
To peel the asparagus, hold the tip and carefully peel of the woody part of the asparagus. Be careful, as the asparagus breaks easily. Unlike green asparagus, white asparagus has to be peeled. The peels and end pieces will produce a flavorful broth for the soup.
Juicy ginger-flavored pork chops
These pork chops are absolutely delicious. The ginger and orange juice add a fusion twist, and my addition of apples adds an another layer of flavor and taste. The recipe was sent to me by my friend, Linda, who is one of the best cooks I have ever known. She and her husband inspired my interest in cooking years ago, and we have had a lot of fun cooking together. My husband had his first gourmet meal when I took him to their house to prepare "Caneton à l'Orange," the classic duck recipe from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Now back to the pork chops: Linda got the recipe from the Northern Exposure Cookbook, from the old TV show. The pork chops are named after Ruth Ann, a character in the show. Over the years, I have tweaked the recipe quite a bit.
When buying pork, I'm extremely picky. These days I get pork loin center cuts with bones from Whole Foods. Most of the time, I use 2 pork chops, enough for my husband and myself. The recipe calls for 4 chops—one pork chop per person.
A Chocolate Delight
This is definitely a pie for chocolate lovers and the crust tastes like a shortbread cookie. I found the recipe in a German magazine years ago, although the original recipe had twice the amount of butter. This recipe is a keeper and I am going to use this crust in other dessert recipes. Add the chocolate filling and the nutty egg white topping and you will have a dessert you can’t resist. The pie can be kept for several days, so you can bake it ahead of time (great for the upcoming holidays). I'm thinking of baking this recipe in individual pie tins for gifts. Being the hazelnut lover that I am, I'll try using hazelnuts instead of walnuts. And maybe I'll add caramel or Nutella too, although that might be going over the top.
This is a straightforward recipe. Be careful not overwork the dough, and melt the chocolate in a double boiler or bowl over a pot of boiling water. Use the best chocolate you can afford. I used Lindt chocolate.
A healthy vegetable dish with a satisfying and rich flavor
I have prepared this dish for many years—and it is a staple winter vegetable in my house. It goes well with any kind of potato, polenta, and the flavors improve with age. It is a great side dish for the holidays and any other meal. It is also an everyday vegetable that can be eaten any time of day. Personally, I love it on a buttered slice of bread. This is the first time I have written down the recipe and it always tastes a little different. There are guidelines that I follow that come from my godmother in Germany. For the sweetener, she uses sugar, but I use my homemade jams or jellies (red currant jelly is my favorite). I add some additional spices like peppercorns, whole cloves and a bay leaf. My godmother uses goose or duck fat to sauté the onions and cabbage, which gives it a wonderfully rich flavor.
The amount of jam varies depending on it sweetness. Remove the bay leaf after the cabbage is cooked. I If you like to remove the spices after the cabbage has been cooked tie them into a cheese-clothes and remove them before you serve the cabbage. I chop the onions and the red cabbage into quarter inch pieces. My sister in law chops the cabbage very fine and her red cabbage tastes very good.
A crunchy, buttery almond cake that will melt in your mouth
This is a German Blechkuchen (sheet cake), which is available in a wide variety of styles throughout Germany. My mom uses a recipe with custard on top, while some are made with custard and fruit, and others with just with sugar, butter and a yeast dough. This recipe is a rich version of a buttery, crunchy tasting almond cake. I made it for the first time last week for a movie night at home and it was devoured by my diet-conscious California friends. It is also a great dessert to take to the office or a party. I can't give credit to the cook, because I copied an old German magazine article years ago.
Bring the butter and eggs up to room temperature. I have a Kitchen Aid, but a hand-held mixer will do just fine. However, it is important to beat the butter, sugar, and eggs until they are light and fluffy, while mixing the sour cream and flour mixture as little as possible.
WELCOME TO SUNNY COVE CHEF
Thank you for visiting my blog. My two passions are cooking and traveling. Traveling exposes me to a wide variety of food and experiences. I walk around cities looking for markets, restaurants, bakeries, shops, you name it, and if it is related to food you will find me there, tasting, smelling, talking to vendors, and having a great time.