Most of us are familiar with Botticelli’s painting called the Birth of Venus. In this beautiful painting, the goddess is emerging from the sea standing on a scallop shell. To me, this painting emphasizes beauty, self-reliance and elegance.
In the world of food scallops are a delicacy that deserve special attention when being prepared. They are a tender and delicate, sweet and flavorful seafood. There are many varieties of scallops, bay scallops being the small ones and the large sea scallops, reaching 1½ inches to 2 inches in diameter. In this recipe, I use large sea scallops. Whenever possible, the dry-packed sea scallops are best. The wet scallops are packed in a phosphate solution, and when cooked, extra liquid drains out into the pan. So instead of searing, you will boil your scallops. Although there are the divers scallops which are individually harvested by divers—very expensive but ecological better . Here in the US, the meat we call “scallop” is firm and white. It is what you get when you buy scallops in the grocery store. Another part of the scallop is called the “coral,” soft and brightly colored and available outside the US when you buy the scallop in the shell. It’s delicious, as I’ve had it a few times. The most famous dish with scallops is the acclaimed Coquilles St. Jaques.
I am leaving for Germany in a few days. I am still not sure if I will be able to go, so wish me the best. The rules are changing constantly. I am so excited to travel again. It’s been a long time since I saw my German family and ate some good German food. I get to hold a new baby in my arms . That alone is worth the journey
My scallop dish comes from a recipe I found in a magazine years ago. Unfortunately, I can’t give credit to whoever developed this dish because I can’t find any information on the internet. Thank you to the chef who came up with this delicious recipe. The combination of the different ingredients is perfect. The leeks and peas complement the delicate flavor of the scallops, while the mini-potato galettes act as a foil to the tender scallops. The bacon adds some crunch and wakes up the palettes. Altogether, this exquisite meal is light and delicate. A special meal for a special person in your life.
Make sure you buy the best scallops available. I usually buy mine frozen at Whole Foods when they are on sale. Defrost the scallops in the fridge and don’t thaw them at room temperature or in the microwave. The scallops will be ruined if you don’t dry them completely before searing them or if you overcook them. You will end up with a rubbery mess. What a shame! I made the recipe several times during our lockdown for just my husband and myself. We enjoyed every bite with a nice glass of wine. I like to serve three to four large scallops per person. This is a light elegant main course that tastes great with a green salad with a citrus dressing.
The Recipe For Scallops on Potato GALETTES with leeks and peas
This recipe serves four people. A mandolin will cut the potato in very thin slices.
1 ½ cups 7oz. 200g frozen peas thawed
½-1 cup vegetable broth (the amount depends on the desired consistency of your puree)
Salt and pepper to taste
Scallops and Leeks
6 bacon slices of hickory smoked bacon
3 TBS butter, divided
4 leeks (about 4 cups)
16 large sea scallops
1 TBS olive oil
Salt and pepper
5 TBS olive oil or more
2 8-ounce potatoes
This dish needs to be timed correctly. The leeks and pea purée can be made ahead of time but the scallops and potato galettes need to be done as close to dinner as possible. Warm the serving plates in the oven, and when it is time to serve, plate the food. Put the leeks on the bottom of the dish, add one or two potato galettes, and top with four scallops. Add the juices from the frying pan over the scallops. Pour the pea purée around the food and sprinkle the whole thing with bacon. It makes a stunning presentation.
Purée the defrosted peas (10 ounces) with ½ to 1 cup of broth until smooth. Adjust the pea purée to your taste. I like mine smooth and a little runny. I used my Vita Mix to get a smooth consistency. Season with salt and pepper. This can be made one day ahead, but cover and refrigerate it. Reheat it and before serving, and thin it with broth if the purée is too thick.
Scallops and Leeks
Heat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit to keep the food warm.
Cut the bacon into ½-inch slices and sauté in a heavy large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Drain on a paper towel and keep warm in the oven.
Use only the white part of the leeks. I freeze the green part to use in making broth. If the leek is large, quarter the white part lengthwise and then slice it into small slices. Wash them in a bowl of water and drain. You want about 4 cups of leeks.
Melt 2 TBS of butter in a large frying pan, add the leeks and sauté until they they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add ½ cup of water, cover, and simmer until the leeks are very tender but not brown. Cook until the liquid has evaporated, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Put the leeks in an oven-proof dish and keep them warm in the oven.
Dry the scallops on paper towels until there is no moisture left. You might have to repeat this. Put the dry scallops on paper towels and season them on all sides with salt and freshly ground pepper. Melt remaining 1 TBS of butter with the oil in a large large frying pan over high heat until hot. Add scallops one at a time and leave them alone for about 2 minutes. This is how they get a nice sear. Turn them over for a minute or so and remove them to a plate. You want the scallops just opaque in the center. Deglaze the frying pan with a little bit of white wine that your husband has opened and served you in a glass. Pour the juices that have accumulated on the plate with the scallops into the frying pan with the sauce. I cook the scallops last, when I am finished with my potato galettes.
I use the same frying pan for the bacon, leeks and scallops. I wipe the pan clean in between with paper towels. For the potato galettes, I use my cast iron frying pan. Peel the potatoes and slice them into 1/16-inch-thick rounds. I used my mandoline for this. The potatoes will discolor quickly, so I prepare them as soon as they are peeled. Heat a little bit of oil in the frying pan and carefully arrange potato slices in a round circle in skillet, overlapping slightly and forming a 3 ½-4 inch circle. I made three galettes at a time. Cook until each galette is golden brown on the bottom, about 3-4 minutes. Turn the galettes over with a wide spatula (rearrange if they fall apart) and cook until potatoes are tender. Keep the galettes warm in the oven. They are best eaten right away. If you keep them warm for a long time, they will become soft and soggy.
recipe author unknown
Here are some ideas for deserts to go with this special meal. Click on the photo for the link.
These delicious enchiladas will feed a crowd. They can be made ahead of time, and then baked just before serving. They are perfect for a family gathering or a potluck. I decided to make them for my book club and for my son, who was visiting. I thought I could share some of them with my neighbors, but we ate them all. If any survive, leftover enchiladas are real treat warmed up in the microwave.
I got carried away and cooked two chickens to make a homemade chicken broth. I separated the breast from the chicken (bone in). I added two sad looking leeks, a peeled and cut celeriac root, one carrot, two bay leaves, one head of garlic (halved), an onion, some shiitake mushrooms, and some parsley sprigs in a large pot. I added the chicken parts and enough water to cover the mess. I let it boil for 1 ½ hours, removing the the chicken breasts after 20 minutes. I ended up with a flavorful broth that I seasoned with salt and pepper. I made the broth a day before I made the enchiladas.
Now, there are many alternatives for the cooked chicken. The easiest would be a rotisserie chicken you get in the store. Or you can roast or boil your favorite chicken parts. I have to say that my cubed chicken breast was succulent and flavorful. These enchiladas were full of flavor and creamy—the perfect comfort food.
I am still working on improving my blog , it is not easy and very time consuming. I’m also starting to travel and volunteering again. Life is very full for me and I find the need to rest more than usual. I do enjoy blogging and testing recipes. The kitchen is my place to be creative—and very messy. And my husband always cleans it up. I am so happy to have him as my partner.
The Recipe for Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas
You will need one large or two smaller baking pans. I made 15 enchiladas which will serve 6-8 people.
Here are some of my other recipes you may like. Click on the photo to get the recipe.
Our farmer’s Market still sells beautiful fresh berries. I love to eat them right from the basket, savoring their different flavors and sweetness. Berries make such great desserts and treats. My favorite berries are probably raspberries. This very berry ice cream goes well with my chocolate sorbet. It's a great combination between the richness of the berry ice cream and the deep chocolate flavor of the sorbet.
I came upon this ice cream recipe in a copy of Allrecipes magazine. I like the ingredients and how easy it is to make. I used my Vitamix to puree the berries and prepare the ingredients. This is a rich, creamy dessert that will stick to your gum. Although the original recipe calls for two cups of cream, I reduced it to one cup of half and half and one cup whipping cream. For the milk I used what I had in the fridge which was 2% milk. If you decide to make this ice cream, you can use all cream and different fruits, or just one type of fruit. This ice cream is not as sweet as commercial ones, and I like it that way. If you like it sweeter, increase the amount of sugar. The possibilities are endless.
The Recipe for Very Berry Ice Cream
You will need an ice cream maker and food processor or mixer to make this recipe.
It makes about 8 servings. It is best when it comes out of the ice cream maker or is frozen for only a few hours.
click on the photo to link to the post
It has been a hot summer, even on our usually cool and foggy coast. On those warm days, visions of ice cream pop into my mind—so very satisfying when the icy sweetness hits your tongue. My absolute favorite ice cream is right here in Santa Cruz and it is made by the the Penny Ice Creamery. Treat yourself and your loved ones when you are in Santa Cruz. If you can’t come to Santa Cruz and if you an have an ice cream maker you might enjoy this creamy, velvety, bitttersweet chocolate sorbet. It is divine and so easy to make. All you need is a good red cherry jam, Dutch processed cocoa and a little sugar. This would be the perfect dessert for someone that is vegan.
I found this 12-year old recipe in my ice cream folder. In the original recipe from Cooking Light, it was made with a fresh cherry compote. Because I had some fresh cherries, and that’s exactly what I did. The second time I made it was for my book club luncheon. I had about a cup of frozen cherries left that I chopped and added to the sorbet five minutes before it was finished. I think you could also make this sorbet with apricot jam or other fruits. I am going to try that when cherry season is over.
I have been experimenting with different flavors of ice cream. One didn’t make the cut, but another turned out tasty and went well with the chocolate sorbet. It is made with cream and fresh berries and I hope to post it later.
This sorbet took 4o minutes to freeze, but my ice cream maker is 40 years old and lives in our garage because of the awful noise it makes. Making this sorbet is a three-day process. Once you mix the ingredients, they need to be refrigerated overnight for the flavors to blend. After freezing the sorbet, it needs to harden in the freezer for another day. For some reason, the sorbet melts quickly after serving it. My book club members and family enjoyed this treat.
You will get about a pint of sorbet, enough for 6 smallish servings.
You will need an ice cream maker and a mixer
If you don't have an ice cream maker try my Black Forest Chocolate Mousse, it is satisfying and easy to make. Click here for the link.
It has been six months since I last posted. My blog's face lift took longer than planned. It is still not finished so please bear with me. All your wonderful comments are archived in my old blog but I hope that one day I will be able to retrieve them and put them back on this new version of my blog.
As cooking is my passion, it also sparks my interest in food magazines. I miss Gourmet, but there are still some other good ones around, one of them being Food & Wine. I always find something that interests me in this magazine. This years January issue had one recipe that caught my attention and I knew I had to try it. The recipe was kale and artichoke stuffed pasta shells. The author, Anne Taylor Pittman, wrote a wonderful introduction describing her love for spinach-artichoke dip when she was a high school student. With that in mind, she created this dish.
I changed the recipe a bit and used Swiss chard instead of kale, because I still had some in my garden. Feel free to use spinach or kale. I think all of these greens will work just fine. Another reason why I like this recipe is because it hides vegetables in the stuffing and that’s a good way to feed them to my husband. I made some changes the second time by increasing the number of pasta shells from 16 to 20. Figure about 3 shells per serving, 4-5 if you don’t serve a protein with it. The first time I used 1 tsp of Sriracha instead Calabrian Chile sauce. If you don’t like heat, you can omit the hot sauce. Do not omit the crushed fennel seed, as it adds extra flavor to the sauce and it is good for your digestion. I served these stuffed pasta shells with either a duck breast, sage & prosciutto chicken saltimbocca, or a steak. It’s a perfectly fine as a vegetarian dish by itself. I microwaved the leftover shells the next day, and they were delicious.
recipe for Jumbo shells stuffed with Swiss chard and Artichokes
This recipe makes about 8 servings
Use a 13 x 9-inch baking dish or two smaller ones
16-20 uncooked jumbo shells (about 7 ounces)
2 cups or more of marinara sauce
1 tsp Calabrian Chile sauce or Sriracha sauce
1 tsp fennel seeds
¼ cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic
About 5-6 cups Swiss chard, kale, or spinach
1 (12-oz) marinated artichoke hearts
1 can (15.5 -oz) cannelloni beans
1 (5.2-oz.) Boursin cheese
4 oz. shredded provolone or Swiss cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a large kettle of water to boil, season with 3 TBS of salt. Pasta water has to taste like ocean water. Add the shells to the boiling water and cook for about 9 minutes, stirring occasionally. You don’t want the shells fully cooked because you will bake them once they are stuffed. Drain the shells and rinse them with cold water. Spread the shells on a paper towel to prevent them from sticking together. Then cool them.
Spray the baking dish with oil. Coarsely grind the fennel seeds with a mortar and pestle. Mix the marinara sauce with the fennel and hot sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the sauce in the baking dish. I added more sauce than the original recipe called for.
Filling and finishing the dish
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Chop the garlic very fine. Wash the chard, removing the stems, and chop it coarsely. Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a large frying pan with a lid. Add the garlic and sauté it for 30 seconds. Add the chard and stir, adding ¼ cup of water. Cover and cook for a few minutes until the chard is tender. Add the coarsely chopped artichoke hearts and heat uncovered for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and cool the mixture.
Rinse and drain the beans, mix them with the Boursin cheese and 2 TBS of olive oil in a food processor and process until smooth. Stir the bean and vegetable mixture together until combined. Season with salt and pepper.
Carefully spoon the bean and cheese mixture into the shells and arrange them in the baking dish with the tomato sauce. Sprinkle the cheese over the shells and bake uncovered in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes. The cheese needs to melt and sauce should be bubbling. Increase the heat to a high broil, and broil until cheese begins to brown.
Here is a link to the original recipe
Recipe by Ann Taylor Pittman in Food & Wine
Posted by ©Sunnycovechef.com
click on the photo to link to the post
The New Year has finally arrived. I think all of us are ready to move on and we all hope for a better upcoming year. I am also hopeful, because two of my friends have been vaccinated for the virus. I am going to sign up for a trip to Sweden in July. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best. That is really all we can do. And yes, there are days where I would like to hide under my blankets.
What kept me sane last year has been cooking. I have tried many different recipes. Some of them I shared with friends and neighbors by dropping off the food at their door. For Christmas my husband came home with a 4 rib standing rib roast from Costco. I had made prime rib before but this time I wanted it to be perfect because it was an expensive roast. Personally I prefer braised meets but everybody else loved this roast. It fed the three of us for many days and even my son’s dog enjoyed some of it. My son delivered several meals to friends and neighbors.
If prime rib is too expansive for your budget and if you are like me and prefer braised meat try Susannne's German Rouladen ( beef roll ups ). These Rouladen are full of flavor and are perfect for a chilly winter evening.
A local web designer is going to redo my blog. I hope it will all work out. I am a little nervous because this is my baby. While my blog is being redone I will enjoy reading all your blogs and stay in touch that way.
May 2021 be a better year for all of us .
Recipe by © sunnycovechef.com
Christmas and the New Year are just around the corner. Since we can’t have our usual Christmas activities with friends and family maybe this is the time and the year to enjoy some peace and quiet, to be reflective, to light a candle and find things that make us happy.
I am trying!
I am decorating the house for myself (my husband and son could care less) by putting up a few things that weren’t stored in the attic. I bought some new things at a local store just to support them. Several nights ago, I watched the sunset with my German girlfriend who lives next door. We shared some Glühwein (mulled hot wine) and we had fun sitting in her garden. I am trying out some new cookie recipes and was pleased with these apricot chocolate biscotti. It is a real treat to dip one of them into my morning coffee or afternoon tea. The biscotti are chewy with the fruity flavor of apricots and orange flavored semisweet chocolate. I am happy to add them to my baking arsenal and make them again.
These little gingerbread house ornaments make a great project for children. A warning though, cutting the graham crackers for the tiny house ornaments can test your patience.
I am contemplating making my French country pâté, giving a little to my friends and freezing some. Instead of taking it to a party I can have it for lunch.
If you are looking for cookie recipes, here some suggestions: gluten free hazelnut meringue cookies, or Basler Brünsli, made with chocolate, almonds and some Christmas spices.
My mini muffins with blueberries are a little labor intensive but oh so good. They are my son’s favorite.
For this recipe I used unsulfured dried apricots that were soft. I love orange flavored chocolate but any other semi-sweet chocolate would be fine. Both, the butter and the eggs should be at room temperature.The biscotti are easy to make but it takes some time to bake them twice. Make sure you don’t burn them. If you want more chocolate, dip one half of the biscotti into melted chocolate. I didn't do that. They will keep in a tin for several weeks.
I know I’m overdue to write a new post for my blog. I have many excuses why it has taken me so long: the California wildfires, an unexpected medical diagnosis, as well as my friends, house, and garden all needing attention. What it really boils down to is major procrastination. It’s not that I haven’t anything to post, as I have cooked many meals in my partially remodeled kitchen. I love my new countertops, my new sink, and my pull-out drawers.
I made some delicious beef short ribs with cauliflower gratin for a friend who just moved back into her house after evacuating from the Bonny Doon wildfire. The fire had burned her fence and woodpile, but left her house intact. She had hitched her horse trailer in the middle of the night to save her horse and donkey. I had several other friends who had to evacuate, but luckily nobody lost their homes.
So, let’s get back to my kitchen and cooking. I made different recipes with zucchinis and yellow squash from my garden. My favorites are zucchini cakes and zucchini carpaccio. The recipe for the cakes are here and the carpaccio is easy to make. Slice a small yellow squash with a mandoline, put them on a plate, sprinkle some raspberry vinegar and good olive oil over the squash. Put it on a bed of lettuce if you like. Season with coarse salt, pepper, and some fresh thyme and you have a great salad. Now you can add whatever you want.
For my book club dinner, I went all out. I served my over-the-top crepes filled with salmon and fennel. It was delicious and everybody enjoyed the alfresco dining on my outdoor deck. It was a gorgeous evening and we didn’t talk a lot about books. We just enjoyed each other’s company, one of those rare treats in these times of COVID. There were only five of us, which made it easier to keep the 6-foot distance.
For dessert, I decided to make a French apple cake by Dorie Greenspan from her book Around My French Table. David Lebovitz adopted and posted the recipe on his blog, which I really enjoy reading. He now lives in Paris but used to be the baker for Chez Panisse in Berkley. It's a delicious and easy-to-make recipe. I have made it several times and everybody sees to enjoy it. Please do not omit the rum in this recipe, as it what really makes the cake. Because I didn’t have any rum, I used some of the liquid from my Rumtopf (fruit preserved in rum). In my humble opinion, this cake needs to be served with some whipped cream.
Click here for the recipe
Of course, there is always my German Apple cake which I have baked for decades.
Click here for the recipe.
You may also like my apple strudel cake, another favorite of mine.
Click here for the recipe.
Do not omit the rum, as it adds richness and flavor to the cake. But if you do not want to bake with alcohol, double the amount of vanilla. Epicurious is posting the same recipe calling it Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake. There are many helpful comments on the post like substituting calvados for rum. I am going to stick with the rum but it would be interesting to find out. This is a beginners cake, so anyone can bake it and it is done in no time—perfect for the home cook. It is important to use a variety of apples for flavor and taste. I like playing with recipes, so I added my own twist. I used the apple peels to make a thick syrup that I added to the cake after it was baked, which is totally optional.
Recipe for French Apple cake
Here we are, Labor Day has passed, summer is almost over. Recent weeks have been devastating for Santa Cruz County and California with huge fires burning and thousands of people evacuated. Many people lost their homes and all their belongings and some lost their lives. My heart goes out to all of them. For a couple of days Santa Cruz had the worst air quality in the world. My husband and I decided to go to our mountain cabin. I packed some personal stuff, just in case. I also took one of my favorite cookbooks called Chez Panisse Fruit by Alice Waters that had not been packed away during my remodel. From this book I would like to share a scrumptious recipe for a blueberry lemon tart. I have made many recipes from this book and have never been disappointed. I make her apricot jam every year and never get tired of it. I like everything about this book, the recipes, the layout, and the illustrations. I also have been fortunate enough to eat at Chez Panisse in Berkley many times. Alice Waters is a great cook and shares her talent with children and young adults, which I think is wonderful. She was a pioneer in the farm-to-table movement.
I baked the lemon tart twice, once in the first week of August and then again last week. Even my husband who usually goes for the sweeter versions when it comes to dessert liked this tart.
The flavors in this tart are phenomenal, with the crispness and rich butter flavor of the páte sucrée, and the sweet tart flavor of the blueberries combined with the zesty lemon curd. It is a perfect combination for your taste buds. If you bake this, I hope you enjoy this tart as much as we have.
If you are interested in some different lemony or blueberry desserts click on the photo for my blogpost and the recipe.
The pâte sucrée is easy to make. I baked mine a day before I added the filling. You might have some leftover dough, which you can be used to a cookie a cookie or two. If you have enough you can make a mini tart. The eggs and butter should be at room temperature. You can use an 11-inch round tart pan with a removable button or 8 individual 4-inch tart pans. I think this tart would also look good in a rectangular tart pan. The dough is easy to work with. I think frozen blueberries would be fine in this recipe.
Here we are in August, and summer is in full swing. Our kitchen remodeling project is almost over, with maybe another week to go. Who knows? We have been escaping to the mountains while my floors are being redone. I feel so fortunate that we are able to do that. The mountain keeps me sane during these troubled times.
One of my first COVID projects was to revitalize my little vegetable garden that had been suffering from severe neglect. Two new planter boxes with fresh soil (and high enough for me to sit on) have turned it into a flourishing garden. For the first time, my zucchini plants are producing a fair amount of fruit. Yes, botanically speaking, zucchinis are fruits, bearing a type of botanical berry called a “pepo.” The zucchini itself is the swollen ovary of the zucchini flower. Thanks, Wikipedia! Courgettes as they are called in other countries are the most versatile of squashes. You can fry them, roast them, bake them into bread, and substitute them for pasta. The possibilities are endless.
I would love to get some of your favorite recipes. I remember bringing the zucchini seeds to my mom decades ago. She loved them and turned her zucchinis into soup. For every zucchini lover there is a zucchini loather. I am a lover, my husband is a hater, so he won’t touch anything made with zucchini. But he will grill them for me, brushed with a little bit of olive oil and garlic salt. Maybe some day I will find a recipe he will like. In the meantime, I will enjoy my bounty and share my zucchinis with my friends and neighbors.
In this post, I will share a recipe for zucchini patties (or fritters as some people call them) with you. I decided on a recipe from the New York Times that uses feta cheese in them. It also reminded me of the Turkish-inspired Moosewood recipe. There is always some extra feta in my fridge, because I buy it at Costco. They give a lot, but it is oh so delicious. I wanted some protein in the cakes because I love to eat them as a snack throughout the day. Once they become leftovers, they are no longer crispy but still very good and filling. I like them cold or at room temperature. For a topping, I mixed yogurt with some grated garlic and salt. I ate them with lox, a low-carb lunch or dinner. I had some extra romesco sauce which was delicious with the zucchini cakes. They were perfect with some grilled chicken thighs.
If you are one of the zucchini loathers, then try my potato, salmon or crab cakes. Click on the photo for the link.
You can grate the zucchini in the food processor, but I choose to do it with a grater. The zucchini has to be drained in a colander and then squeezed out on a dish towel to get out all the excess water (do not skip this step). I had quite a bit of excess water when I drained the zucchini (more than a cup). Smitten Kitchen recommends that you always use a cast iron frying pan to make “crispy fritters” as she calls them. Mine were not especially crispy, except for the outer ends. I assume that Smitten Kitchen used more oil than I did and her recipe uses only one egg. I also used more than a pound of zucchini (two fat ones). The original recipe only uses one pound. The original recipe also calls for dill, but I used chives instead. If you choose to use dill, put in some scallions to get the onion flavor. I could also see some mint in this recipe. If you make these cakes for a crowd, keep them warm in a preheated oven (250 degrees). But I like to eat them when they come right out of the pan. The leftovers make a great snack.
My dear blogging friends from around the world, I want to thank you for connecting with me through my blog for the last seven years. It has been so much fun getting to know you and I appreciate how you motivate me to keep on going. While I sit at my computer, I think of you in your own individual spaces. These are lonely times, especially for older people like me. Because of COVID, we have to distance ourselves and can’t socialize the way we used to. That’s why this blog is so important to me, as it keeps me connected. Thank you!
This last month has been a very busy one for me, as my husband and I finally found a contractor whom we like and appreciates our unique home. After I broke my ankle in Budapest (and made it home safely), I realized that my bathroom situation needed a change. As I was unable to take a shower in my upstairs bathroom, I had to slide downstairs on my butt using my arms to push me up and down.
Upstairs, I had a beautiful tub-shower combination but I had to step over a 20-inch ledge to get in and out. Right now, the workers are building a shower that will enable us to stay in our home of 35 years a little longer. I also decided to give my well-used kitchen a facelift by putting in a new countertop and backsplash, as well as some other improvements like pull-out shelves in my lower cabinets. During this construction project, my husband and I have moved into our downstairs living quarters.
It is comfortable and cozy, but we only have a hot plate and a microwave to cook with. Sometimes in the evening, I can sneak upstairs and use my oven. Because of that, my cooking has been simple and there has been quite a bit of takeout food. My friends have also cooked for me, but we are at the age where we have to be careful not to catch this nasty virus. So, almost all of our get-togethers occur outside.
Let's talk about my beloved Rote Grütze, a typical German dessert from northern Germany. There you can buy it in jars in almost every grocery store. You cannot buy it here in the US, but that’s OK because it is super easy to make. It’s healthy and a perfect way to use all the fruit you have in your garden or the refrigerator. Traditionally, it is made with red currants and other berries. Here in California, red currants are seldom available, so I made mine with cherries, blackberries, blueberries and a few raspberries. Since the fruit is only heated and not cooked, it is crunchy and fresh. Rote Grütze translates into “red porridge.” It was traditionally made with semolina, but today potato or corn starch is being used to achieve a creamy to pudding-like consistence. Think of a jelly with fruit. Or a compote. I personally like it with my homemade vanilla sauce, because the sauce adds richness and flavor. However, some people eat it with yogurt or ice cream. There are cakes made with Rote Grütze in Germany and sometimes it is served over warm waffles. Why not serve it with pancakes? If you make this, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Last week at the farmer’s market I scored 2 baskets of red currents and I just had to make Rote Grütze again. It was divine. With the leftover red currents and other fruit I made my Rumtopf. The one I made last year was delicious with ice cream or just by itself , a potent little treat.
The consistency is up to you depending on how much cornstarch you use to thicken this dish. The first time, I used 3 tablespoons of cornstarch and it came out soft and saucy. The second time, I increased the amount of cornstarch to 3 ½ tablespoons and it turned into a jelly with fruit. I definitely prefer the softer version and that’s how it is prepared in Germany. I used pitted cherries, blackberries, a few raspberries and some blueberries. When I scored red currents at the farmers market I made it a third time. I used the red currents, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, and cherries and three tablespoons of cornstarch. It was excellent. Rote Grütze will keep in the refrigerator several days .
Here we are a little over two months of being confined to our homes trying to adjust to a new life. No, I can’t complain, I haven’t lost a loved one, I am retired, I can pay my bills, and I live in a beautiful area. I am trying to be positive and some days I am, but other days are difficult and depressing. It makes me sad to think of all the hardship that this pandemic has created and yes I miss my old life with all its privileges and perks. There is no running away from it, we are all affected. Enough of whining, I know there are people who are much worse off than I am.
So, how am I coping. I cook and cook and cook and when I don’t cook I watch youtube videos on cooking . My screen time is up exponentially. I read and I watch TV, although I am watching much less TV than in the beginning. My little garden gives me some pleasure. Sunshine makes me happy, but today it is raining. Every morning I make a plan but on the blah days I procrastinate and nothing gets done.
The other day I was fantasizing about sitting in a little German restaurant somewhere in the countryside enjoying a glass or two of wine and eating Flammkuchen (flame cake) with my friends. So, instead of looking at cheap flights or redeeming my miles I started to research Flammkuchen recipes. Flammmkuchen is a specialty from Alsace where it is called tart flambé. It is a crispy somewhat blackened very thin (1mm) and blistered crust that is traditionally topped with Crême Fraîche, Speck (smoked pork belly,) and thinly sliced onions, sprinkled with arugula. Today it is topped with anything imaginable . It is a favorite treat for the young crowd and often is the cheapest prized item on the menu.
Flammkuchen was used as a trial bake for bakers to test the communal wood-fired ovens to see if they were ready to bake bread and cakes. Every village (including mine) had a Backhaus (baking house) where once or twice a week the village women would bake their bread and cake. Think of this Flammmkuchen as a tart baked in flames, burned on the outside and crispy as a cracker
Researching Flammkuchen gave me a purpose and I dived right into it. It took away the edges of uncertainty and fear. I made several and my husband liked them. Once I made it for lunch on a sunny day, we sat on our deck with a glass of chardonnay and the living was good. I see this as a perfect cooking project for young teens, making the dough and choosing their toppings.
The dough is a mixture of flour, salt, water, and oil that needs to be mixed together and kneaded for at least 5 minutes or more until it becomes a smooth and shiny and can be rolled out to a very thin crust. Some recipes call for yeast but I choose one without it from a German YouTube channel called Thomas kocht . I tried several of his recipes and they are all good. Because there is no yeast in the dough it has to be be baked in a very hot oven preferable on a pizza stone that has been heated for an hour or a sheet pan that has been heated for 30 minutes . You are in Flammkuchen heaven if you have a pizza oven.
While sheltering in place I got adventurous in my cooking and geared into the realm of the unknown for me. I prepared some Asian dishes , some of them not so good but some of them ok. Once this is over I will probably go back to my favorite restaurants. I go shopping at my local farmer’s market and buy seasonal fruits and vegetables. I love asparagus and we have the freshest green asparagus available. Unfortunately we don’t have white asparagus like they have in Europe. My husband and I both love asparagus soup. It’s easy to make and so delicious . We have had it several times.
Here are some more asparagus recipes, click on the photo for the recipe
It is essential that you let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes. I leave my dough divided into four parts and covered with plastic wrap for days in the refrigerator. I used some of the dough four days later and it was easier to work with when I rolled it out. After making the dough by hand the first time I decided to use my KitchenAid , I knead the dough for five minutes with the hook attachment . I then knead it a little bit by hand , divide it into 4 parts , cover each with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. I made one FLammkuchen the traditional way using bacon instead of Speck. It was a little too greasy for us. I fried the bacon and then sprinkled it over the Creme Fraîche with some Gruyere cheese. I prefer a mixture of leftover cheddar and some other cheeses I used on my first Flammkuchen. Thomas also made one Flammkuchen with goat cheese and pears and added some arugula before serving it. It looked delicious but I didn’t try it.
“Cooking and eating in a foreign country may be the surest, truest way to its soul.”
by Luke Barr from his book Provence 1970
Julia and Paul Child built their Provence home on the Beck and Fischbaker estate called Le Mas Veiux outside the little town of Plascassier, a half hour drive from Cannes. The five acre property has an eighteenth century farmhouse called Bramafan that Simon Beck and her husband remodeled and lived in. Simone Beck was Julia’s close friend (they called each other sisters) and co-author of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. In 1965 the Child's leased the land and built their modest house in an old potato batch of the estate. They called it La Pitchoune, the little thing. The deal between the Becks and the Childs was made with a handshake, a house built on friendship. La Pitchoune would revert back to the estate once Julia and Paul Child were done with it and that is exactly what happened. The house was returned to the estate in 1992 and later sold. La Pitchoune is now available for rent to the public by the new owner.
The Child's spent many happy years (three decades) at La Peetch, as they nicknamed La Pitchoune. They entertained legends like James Beard and M.F.K. Fischer. Julia Child and Simone Beck worked on the second volume of the Art of French Cooking. The Child's spent many happy years (three decades) at La Peetch, as they nicknamed La Pitchoune. They entertained legends like James Beard and M.F.K. Fischer. Julia Child and Simone Beck worked on the second volume of the Art of French Cooking.
After arriving at La Pichoune I met our group of 9 women, three of them professional cooks. Our tour guide Barbie Aknin and her friend Deb greeted us with hors d’oeuvres and a glass of rosé, the first of many to come.
We took a tour of La Pitchoune and the adjacent house Mas Bramafam. The current owner has turned it into a modern house with a large kitchen and dining area. Both houses were to be our home for the next week.
Before we go on let me tell you a little bit about our tour guide Barbie Aknin owner of Community Cuisine. She was the best tour guide I have ever had. When we arrived there was a folder on our bed with all the information we needed, including recipes. Barbie has the perfect personality for a tour guide. She is calm, organized, and nonjudgemental and a talented cook. I felt well taken care of the entire time I was with her. I hope that in the future I can take another trip with her. Another very important person on this trip was our driver Fouad. He took special care of me because of my ankle . Whenever I needed a hand he was there without asking, a true gentleman with a kind soul. His knowledge of the area is vast . He and Barbie made the perfect team. Like I said before, my goal is to go back and have him as a tour guide. As you know my blog is for my personal enjoyment and I don’t monetize it. All opinions are my own.
Barbie had prepared Daube de Boeuf with polenta for our first dinner served with vegetables and a salad.
Under the guidance of Barbie, we prepared a delicious picnic called Pan Bagnet for our Sunday lunch. For the rest of the week we were encouraged to help and ask questions or just sit by the fire and have a glass of wine. She hired a young woman to help with the dishes. Throughout the week Barbie invited us to participate in formal cooking lessons. I learned a great deal and hope to post some of her wonderful recipes.
The following day, Sunday, we went to the Cannes farmer’s market which was amazing. Julia and her friends had come here often. I bought a jar of truffles and Barbie bought produce for the week. All the vendors were very friendly and we got to taste everything.
After the market we took a boat to the island of Saint-Honorat, a mile off shore from Cannnes. Since the fifth century the island has been home to a community of monks. The 21 monks still living there are cultivating eight hectares of grapes from which they make wine. It was a day filled with beautiful things to explore, good food, and making new friends.
Monday was spent sightseeing and shopping in Nice. Barbie wanted us to explore the Cours Saleya, a market in the old town of Nice. It is a beautiful flower and fruit market from Tuesday to Sunday and an antique/flea market on Monday. We were free to choose to do whatever we wanted to do.
Three of us went with Fouad, who gave us a fascinating tour of the old narrow cobblestone streets. The four of us had a wonderful lunch and afterwards admired the antiques at the market before we went home for another delightful dinner with our group.
On Tuesday we visited Grasse to tour the Fragonard Perfumery . We had a nice tour of the facility learning how perfume was made now and in the past. People that mix the perfumes have a job which is called the nose. What a job! Perfume is made by extracting substances from plants . There are different methods of extractions.
After the visit to Grasse we visited Frederik and Isabelle. Frederik raises heritage pigs in a wild nature setting. It was a wonderful visit for a farm girl like me. Frederik and Isabellle treated us to a lunch in their home.
There are so many beautiful villages in Provence to visit. We saw several of them during our week's stay. On Wednesday we went to Saint-Paul de Vence, a walled medieval scenic town set on top of a hill with magnificent views and hilly cobblestone streets. Marc Chagall has his final resting place here. From St-Paul de Vence Fouad drove us to Touretttes-sur-Loup, a hilltop medieval authentic village with spectacular views.
We had a tour of the Confiseries Florian in Touretttes-sur-Loup. They manufacture some fantastic candied fruit, crystallized flowers, and different sorts of candy. It's wonderful to watch them produce these delicacies. I wonder, did Julia and Paul ever come in to buy some of their goodies.
To all my foodie friends, how many times have you dreamed of helping a famous chef prepare a meal in his kitchen. My dream finely materialized when our group prepared lunch with Chef Alain Llorca at his Michelin starred restaurant. This beautiful restaurant and hotel sit on a mountain overlooking Saint-Paul de Vence. We had a fabulous lunch on their terrace. Alain and his wife Virginia and brother Jean-Micheal created an establishment that offers the best of the region. In the morning we watched and helped Alain cook a mediterranean fish terrine that was served later for lunch. I was in culinary heaven and couldn't have been happier even though I received a troubling text telling me that my flights home had been canceled. .
On Friday, we visited the farmer’s market at Valbonne. That night we had our last dinner at Julia’s house, what a treat, what a beautiful vacation.
We all said “good bye” on Saturday and Faoud picked four of us up to give us his special tour, called “The best of the French Riviera Tour “. What a great last day. I can highly recommend this tour for anybody visiting the area. I just hope that I can come back one of these days. Two days later everything was shut down because of the Corona virus.
I made it home, even though my flights were changed three times, one of them on Sunday morning, two hours before I was supposed to leave. I caught one the last flights to Frankfurt and then on to San Francisco. After getting home I quarantined myself for two weeks. There are so many more memories and photos I would like to share about this wonderful trip but I need to publish this post. I will post more photos on Instagram. I hope you are all safe and healthy coping and getting used to our new way of life. Virtual hugs to all of you.
This will be a two part post about my trip to France. Part one will be about my stay in Nice and part two about staying at La Pitchoune, Julia Child’s vacation home in Provence.
I signed up for this cooking class sometime in January dealing with the aftermath of my broken ankle. By then I knew I could do it. It was the perfect motivation to push myself with exercise and physical therapy. On March 3rd my husband dropped me off at the San Francisco airport and I was on my way. Flying comes naturally to me, I have done it so many times in the past. I changed planes in Frankfurt and landed in Nice as the sun was setting over the Alps. I fell in love with the city and area before I even landed. I was picked up by the most wonderful driver and tour guide ever. I hope to come back to this beautiful area and Fouad from France Azur Excursion will be my guide.
I spent two days by myself in Nice . There are times when I like solo traveling . This was one of them. As a woman of a certain age I was treated kindly by the staff in my hotel, the Le Meridian. There was a cook in the morning that made a perfect omelet, the receptionist recommended some great restaurants and her sense of humor was delightful. The server in the rooftop restaurant entertained me since I was the only customer.
Nice is the capital of the Côte d’Azur and is located on the French Rivera with a seaside promenade called the Promenade des Anglais. This promenade stretches for miles and defines the city. My hotel was on the promenade and near the old town with its open air markets, tiny boutiques, and incredible restaurants . I loved exploring this part of the city and had an opportunity to do it again a week later with my group.
My first day was a rainy day and I decided to go the Matisse Museum. The Matisse museum documents the various stages of the artist’s development. I especially enjoyed the sculptures. Unfortunately, I couldn’t explore the surrounding gardens and the park. I took the bus back to Nice and had lunch at Armand Crespo’s latest restaurant called Peixes. This restaurant specializes in fresh local fish turned into mouth-watering ceviches, tartare and Japanese-style takakis. It has a no nonsense young vibe, my kind of place. I had the fish of the day with coconut foam , tom yum, and vegetable spaghetti. It was divine.
The second day I bought a ticket for the ‘hop on hop off’ bus. This is a great way to see any city. After touring the city I visited the Chagall Museum. Many artists including Chagall were enchanted by Nice’s beauty and lived there for years. In the Chagall Museum you will find the largest public collection of his work. This museum was designed with the the cooperation of the artist himself. The museum’s core is a series of large paintings illustrating the first two chapters of the bible. I very much enjoyed looking at these colorful paintings.
On my walk home I had made reservation at La Meranda , a tiny small restaurant that serves only 20 people is run by Dominique Le Stanc, formerly the chef at Negresso, a two-star Michelin restaurant. This unusual restaurant doesn’t have a phone. You have to drop in to make reservations and sit close together on small uncomfortable stools. The menu is on the blackboard and reflects local rustic dishes. I had a delicious salad and the daube of beef was very good. Don’t expect elegance or a charming restaurant but the food is outstanding and the price its right. A real experience, it reminded me of of sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen on a bench being served a tasty soup that filled my tummy and soul.
When I returned to Nice the following week with my group Foud took some of us on a walk through the tiny cobblestone streets where I hadn’t been before. He also took us to a restaurant where I had the most delicious duck confit ( that and onion soup is a must when I am in France.)
I enjoyed exploring Nice and hope that one day I can return and explore more of this gorgeous town on the Mediterranean .
Stay tuned for part two where I had the best week ever at Julia Child’s summer house La Pitchoune.
Here is a little secret, I never made bolognese sauce before, I never looked at a recipe for bolognese sauce but here I am, in the middle of the corona crisis. I am quarantined and trips to the store to get necessary ingredients are not an option.
However, I am well stocked and as I enjoy my morning coffee I think of the ingredients that are available to me to make bolognese sauce. I pull the vegetables out of the fridge and select some that need to be used pretty soon. I find a handful of shiitake mushrooms, a beautiful looking fennel bulb and some garlic. Beside the onion, carrots, celery, zucchini I find some very tired mini peppers in the back of my refrigerator. There are a few leftover shiitake mushrooms from last weeks barley soup. Then I remember my Italian friend telling me that she uses two different kinds of meat when making her bolognese. I use some pieces of prosciutto and the leftover meat from last night’s short ribs. I have some overripe tomatoes that are not good for anything else and pull out a can of tomato sauce. That should do it.
But let’s not forget the pasta. I was given several boxes of dried pasta from an on-line store in Virginia. The pasta was outstanding and I will order some more. We had two delicious dinners, slurping the pasta being coated by the rich sauce. I served my lemon caesar salad with it and a nice glass of wine.
These days I have only one tester, my husband . He can be a picky eater, he doesn’t like vegetables and could live on steak and potatoes for the rest of his life. I love sneaking in some vegetables and this is a good way. Of course you could substitute different vegetables and use different meat like leftover pot roast or beef stew. Or, leave out the meat entirely and make a vegan sauce. The possibilities are endless.
This recipe made four generous meals with about 2 cups of leftover sauce that I put in the freezer. I added 2 TBS of my frozen pesto to the sauce. You could substitute different vegetables and use different meat like leftover pot roast or beef stew. Or, leave out the meat entirely and make a vegan sauce. The possibilities are endless.
My lemon trees in my tiny little yard are my treasures. I love their aroma and love their flavor. Every year I try to write a new post on my blog with a new lemon recipe. I remember the year all my lemons were stolen . It was so sad. This year I had a bumper crop that I shared with friends near and far. I sent off some boxes to friends on the east coast. I don’t mind sharing as long as they are a few left for me.
I asked for new lemon recipes on a Facebook site I belong to and the response was amazing. I got over three hundred responses with a lot of wonderful new recipes. Thank you to all of you. I will share two new recipes here and save the Facebook post so I can try some amazing looking recipes later. I am a little pressed for time because I am leaving for a trip to France in two days where I will cook my heart out in a very special kitchen. If all goes well I will tell you about it later.
I made Limoncello and lemon curd. The curd is delicious and easy to make if you have a Vitamix. This is the first time I made limoncello and after reading more about it I don’t think that it is authentic, but again it was easy to make and I had a little taste today. Not Bad! I also made 6 jars of preserved lemons. I must say I had a production going and loved it because I was in my element.
You have all heard of the famous German cake called Black Forest Cake, a chocolate cake filled with cherries and whipped cream. In Germany it is called Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. I had my share of it when I lived in Germany. My godmother, who was an excellent baker, made an awesome one. Somewhere I have her recipe, I think! But in the meantime and with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I found a much easier German recipe for chocolate mousse with cherries. How good is that? You can whip this up in no time and end up with a memorable delight.
This is not a sweet dessert, it has no added sugar and it is made with a few ingredients that I got at Trader Joe’s. It needs some good chocolate, heavy cream, frozen cherries, cherry marmalade and Kirsch liquor or Kirschwasser as we call it in Germany.
I upped the ante by adding some fruit from my Rumtopf, which turned it into an adult dessert for my book club meeting. Remember my Rumptopf I made last summer by preserving fresh fruit in rum. I was a great success, we enjoyed it over the holidays and I gave some jars to my friends. Next year I am making it again when cherries are in season. Cherries were my favorite fruit in the Rumtopf.
Let’s get back to my mousse that I am leisurely nibbling on while writing this post. Like I said before, it is not sweet but it is rich and chocolatey. The cherries with their sauce add a fruity crunch to the mousse. A little bit of this dessert will go a long way. If you make this I hope you enjoy it as much I did.
For my book club dinner I made my Italian crespelle (crepes) stuffed with fennel and salmon in a white lemony sauce. Life is good when I am in the kitchen.
This mousse is made in no time, yet it is perfect for any dinner party with its rich chocolate flavor being complimented by the cherries and the sauce. Depending on the portion it will serve 6-8 people, maybe more. It is rich, so a little bit goes a long way. This is a great dessert to make ahead. My husband and I enjoyed it for several days.
It’s the end of January 2020—a new year and a new decade. I never thought I would make it this far. But here I am, thankful for being able to walk again and living in this beautiful area called Monterey Bay. There are so many wonderful things to do and to see, the endless Pacific Ocean, the mountains with their valleys and so much more. I have lived here for over 30 years and I haven’t seen everything—even though I have tried. I always look for new inspiration and new things to do and eat. A free magazine called edible Monterey helps me find new ventures in food. That’s where I found a new soup recipe using celeriac root, one of my favorite winter vegetable.
This soup is very similar to my creamy vegetable soup, called Krabbensuppe from the city of Hamburg, Germany. While my German version has different vegetables in the soup to complement the tiny shrimp from that part of the world. The celeriac soup in edible Monterey has apples, onions and celeriac root, seasoned with a hint of masala.
The soup by itself is delicious. I had some leftover for breakfast. But to bring it to the next level, add fresh Dungeness crab meat sautéed in browned butter. It makes it an elegant and special dish for any occasion. When I made it, I served it with crab cakes on a salad with citrus dressing. It was one of the first meals I cooked for my husband after I recovered. To all my friends who don’t have Dungeness crab available, I think lobster or shrimp would be great, maybe even scallops. It would make a special Valentine’s Day dinner.
Here are some other celeriac root recipes.
I would not omit the marsala , it adds a great flavor. I bought a small box at Whole Foods called Tandoori Marsala. The original recipe used garam masala. I don’t know the difference. I used different variety of apples that I bought at the Farmer’s Market . The original recipe called for granny smith apples. Peeling the celeriac root can be tricky. I use a pairing knife and try not to cut myself. As soon as you peel and cut the celeriac into slices put them in cold water with a splash of lemon juice to prevent them from discoloring
Its been a while since I posted and I do apologize. After breaking my ankle in Budapest, my spunk and motivation left me. During my recovery, I was entertained by your blogs and reading them helped me a great deal. Speaking of recovery, I am walking again and I am thankful for every tiny step I take. The last part of my recovery seems to be the hardest, as I am impatient by nature and eager to move on. But I can’t. I have to take it easy, because if I don’t, I am back in bed with my foot elevated, watching Netflix or YouTube. I also had some emotional issues to deal with, like a post-dramatic depression, upon realizing the danger I had been in and its possible consequences.
But it is a new year, a new decade, and with it comes new beginnings. I am ready to move on. I am starting to cook again and I am enjoying it. I had planned to make a goose for the holidays, but instead my dear friend and neighbor, Susanne, invited me for Christmas dinner. She made her famous Rouladen (stuffed rolled beef), a German tradition for the holidays. I was in culinary heaven.
I have wanted to make homemade potato dumplings for years, but have always opted for the pre-made packaged ones. The one time I tried, when I prepared a goose years ago, it turned into an inedible potato soup. So this year, it was a project I wanted to tackle, so I started to watch German YouTube videos and tried one recipe. I didn’t like them—honestly the pre-packed ones made by Pfanni were better. But I didn’t give up. My girlfriend, Monika, from Germany makes them every year with her goose for Christmas. She uses a recipe from an old German cookbook from Schlesien (or Silesia) that is now in southwestern Poland. Both she and her husband came from this region. I love the quote in the cookbook saying that a Sunday dinner without dumplings is like a sky without stars. They were served with every roast, cooked cabbage or any other vegetable. In the cookbook, they are described as an easy-to-make recipe, but there are tricks to follow to avoid the dumplings falling apart or being hard as a rock.
I made them twice now and both times they got the approval from my friend, Susanne. Each region in Europe has their own version of potato dumplings. The Bavarian ones are made with half-raw and half-cooked potatoes. Leftover dumplings are perfect sliced and then fried in butter, the ultimate German comfort food. When making the dumplings, you can stuff them with small croutons. I think they need some kind of sauce to be truly enjoyed—like a mushroom sauce or gravy from a roast. I don’t have any photos of our Christmas dinner, but a week later, I served my second batch of potato dumplings with some of my friend’s leftover beef brisket from Hanukkah.
I recommend that you follow the recipe and make no modifications. Or you will end up with potato soup. I used two russets and two yellow fin potatoes. It is also important to make a test dumpling before cooking the rest. I made a small one and tasted it, and both times it was okay. To avoid bland-tasting dumplings, don’t reduce the salt. If the dough is sticky, add some more flour. Don’t over mix the potatoes. If you don’t have a potato press, you can use a potato masher. Don’t skimp on the salt because you are flavoring the water—first to boil the potatoes and then to cook the dumplings.
It has been almost eight weeks since my accident, and I am not allowed to walk without my boot and crutches. One of my ankle bones has not healed yet. My doctor told me to write the alphabet with my foot as many times as I can to regain mobility. I can now do it in cursive and in block print. I have learned a lot during these last eight weeks, especially to be patient and resourceful. I also learned to be very careful and take care of my body. Being so physically dependent, I am thankful for my husband’s and son’s loving care. Most of all, it has been a humbling experience, and a lesson about how fragile life can be.
I have been cooking very little these days. I have eaten a lot of salads, rotisserie chicken and food brought by friends and neighbors. Once I am allowed to walk, I will start cooking again. I can’t wait.
A couple days ago, I was looking at a chicken carcass. I hate to waste good food. For years, I’ve made my own chicken and vegetable stock, and never make it the same way. Sometimes I buy chicken legs or a whole chicken, but most of the time I just use the chicken or turkey carcass, leftover vegetable scraps from the freezer or veggies that have seen better days. Whenever I use leeks, I freeze the part that I don’t use which are the dark green leaves. I wash the leaves and put them in a bag. Mushrooms stems give the stock a great Unami flavor. Ginger and garlic add more flavor. I add a couple of carrots, a couple of celery stalks with the leaves, and a whole onion cut into half (leaving the skin on). Some cooks blacken the cut side of the onions in a frying pan to add color, but I don’t. I put all these ingredients in a large cast iron pot and cover them with cold water. When the water boils, I add 1 teaspoon of salt, some pepper, and garlic salt. I always add a couple of bay leaves. So, you see I really don’t have a specific recipe.
Budapest is the capitol of Hungary and Hungary's most populous city. It is a city that has been influenced by many cultures throughout history, most prevalent is the Austrian influence from the 19th century when Hungary was part of the Austrian Habsburg Empire.
Budapest consists of two parts—Buda and Pest. The Danube River divides the medieval streets and Roman ruins of Buda from the 19th century boulevards of Pest. Many bridges connect the hilly Buda with the flat Pest. The most famous and first bridge ever built was the 19th century Chain Bridge. It was the first bridge to link Buda with Pest.
In 1987, Budapest was added to the Unesco World Heritage list for the cultural and architectural significance of the banks of the Danube—the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue.
You will find some great architecture in Budapest, especially the Art Nouveau style. Unfortunately, we only had two days to explore the city before I fell and broke my ankle.
We arrived by train from Vienna on a Friday, a pleasant 2 ½ hour train ride. That night, we attended a concert in the St. Stephan's Basilica, the largest church in Hungary. It was a wonderful introduction to Budapest. This church was dedicated to the first King of Hungary.
The next day, we took the Castle Hill funicular up to the castle. It offers a great view while riding up. The funicular links the Adam Clark Square and the Chain Bridge.
The castle built on Castle Hill was meant to protect the city from the Tartars and Mongols. It was destroyed many times. Today, the Castle Hill area houses the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest City Museum.
On Saturday, after exploring Budapest on a warm and sunny day, we had a wonderful lunch on an outside patio at Dunacorso, a restaurant that has been in existence for over one hundred years. We enjoyed the food and the ambiance with a view of the Danube.
After being released from the hospital, I was well taken care of and nurtured by the Ritz Charlton of Budapest. The concierge was wonderful and so was the rest of the staff. I could not have survived this ordeal without them. The Ritz has a great spa with a swimming pool. The restaurant had a wonderful goulash soup that I had two times. It was the staff of the Ritz who saved us when I broke my ankle. I cannot thank them enough.
Traveling is a wonderful way to enrich your life but there are inherent dangers that we all hope won’t happen to us. After half a century of traveling, I had an accident. My husband and I planned a 10-day trip to Europe, visiting Vienna and a long weekend in Budapest. Vienna was gorgeous, and hopefully I will write a blog post about it. We took the train to Budapest for a long weekend, planning to return to Vienna Monday and fly home Tuesday.
On Sunday afternoon, after spending some delightful hours in a large thermal bath, we were looking for a taxi in the park. I saw a taxi and turned around on a small incline—and the next thing I knew I was on the ground and heard a loud crack in my left ankle. My left foot was turned the wrong way and I knew something bad had happened. A kind soul called an ambulance and a woman who spoke English called our hotel. The ambulance picked me up, the EMT didn’t speak English and I was transported to the Budapest Trauma Center.
In the admission room, some guys took me and grabbed my foot to set it. I screamed bloody murder, then somebody stuck me with a needle to take some blood and insert an IV in my hand. Nobody asked my permission, because nobody spoke English. It was like a pre-war movie. I was in shock, my husband and the most wonderful concierge from the Ritz Carlton spent four hours doing all the paperwork.
While lying on a gurney for four hours, I made calls to Germany, the US, and Switzerland. I didn’t think I had an option because I had a complicated break that needed an operation immediately. I was rolled into a room with five female patients who lay undressed, covered only with a sheet. (The hospital does not provide gowns.) I was snarled at by the staff, and my husband was not allowed in the room. The surgeon came in saying that he would perform the surgery the same night or the next day. When I asked him how many of these operations he had done, he told me that I had insulted him by asking the question. The anesthesiologist was a kind and gentle woman who stayed with me throughout the operation late Sunday night. She looked so tired. After my operation in a very antiquated operating room, I was rolled to what I thought was a private room, because I spent the night by myself with a kind nurse who gave me an extra pillow and asked if I wanted a blanket. The next morning, two other patients were rolled in, when I realized it was not a private room. My husband came as soon as possible, bringing water, juice and something to eat that the hotel had packed for me. In Hungary, the family of the patients provide the towels, cups and everything else you need. The staff is totally overworked and earns very little money. Most of them are unfriendly and don’t speak English or German. The surgeon told me that I was going to be released on Wednesday and I could fly home that day. He never checked my wound and disappeared and I never saw him again. But I am thankful for his skills, because my doctor here in Santa Cruz told me he did a pretty good job. Most important, he had written a sentence in my report that allowed my return flight home.
There was no wifi in the hospital, I called all my friends in Europe who offered to pick me up and drive me to Switzerland, Austria or Germany, but I thought it was best for me to go straight home. My husband went back to the hotel and booked a new flight, canceling all the old reservations. The hotel staff helped him. I was on the phone all day, calling my doctors, friends and anybody else who I thought could help. I spent another horrible night at the hospital, and checked myself out the next morning after my bandages were changed and the drainage taken out.
I can tell you I was so happy when I reached the Ritz and the entire staff, including the manager, greeted me. The hotel extended our room for an additional three nights and provided me with a wheelchair. It was like I had entered heaven after being in hell. I will never forget the kindness and the generosity that the Ritz-Carlton in Budapest gave us. It was phenomenal. They provided us with food, drinks, comfort and taxis anytime my husband needed one. One of their employees took us to the airport counter, where the airline personnel asked for a document from my doctor saying I was "fit to fly." And here is one of the reasons why I am writing this post, my dear readers. If you ever intend to board a plane with some obvious handicap, you need to have a doctor’s note saying you are FIT TO FLY.
The 2 flights lasting 14 hours were fine. My husband booked a business class seat that enabled me to raise my legs. The flight attendant brought ice for my ankle. Thank you, United Airlines. I was transported by a special wheelchair that fit the aisle of the airplane and a regular wheelchair for the airport.
I arrived on Thursday and ended up going to the Stanford emergency room where I waited for five hours before somebody changed my bandages. It was a total waste of time and we were totally exhausted, especially my poor husband. The next morning, we saw a wonderful doctor here in town who is now taking care of me. He said my operation was good, so now I am in a cast hopping around on one leg.
I haven’t cooked. Friends are bringing dinner and my husband is barbecuing. So sorry, there's no new recipe, but I am sharing some photos from Budapest on my Wanderlust blog.
Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner click here for recipes that are helpful to you for the upcoming feast.
When I see plums I always think of the Italian prune plum tree we had at our farm in Germany where these plums are called Zwetschgen. When the fruit ripened in mid September we would make Zwetschgenmus (plum jam) and everybody baked Zwetschgenkuchen on large trays. They dough was usually a yeast dough with different toppings for the plums. My favorite was a custard topping which is called Schmandkuchen. One day I would like to bake it in my village and get advice from all those old cooks and bakery friends. In the meantime I found this wonderful recipe on YouTube that is easy to make and all my American friends liked it. The shortbread dough is used for the crust and the streusel.
The Zwetsche , a European plum ( Prunus domestica) has many different names, in France it is called quetsche, here in the US they are called Italian Prune Plums and sometime Empress Plums. These plums are small and dense with purple skin, easy to pit (freestone pits) and have yellow flesh. There is something magical that happens to this egg shaped, somewhat bland tasting Italian plum when you bake it, it becomes a sweet gooey delight, in cakes, in jams, and dumplings. As was the case with my cake.
I am writing this while eating small slivers of this tasty treat. My doctor tells me to stay away from sweets and I do most of the time but there are times when these rules don’t apply. This cake brings back memories from my childhood in Germany, where Zwetschgenkuchen was a seasonal treat . My mother liked the simple version, adding plums with a little bit of sugar to a sheet yeast cake. Sometimes she splurged and put a custard on top of the cake. I remember stuffing myself and being told to share. My friend, aunt Frieda, that lived on the next farm made the best sheet cakes ever in a wooden pizza oven where she also baked her bread. I would sit on her wood box watching her cook. Oh, those childhood memories.
Some more of my recipes using plums. The plum jam is tart but full of flavor. It's baked in the oven so you don't have to sweat over a hot stove and there is no stirring. Click on the photos below for the recipe.
Here is the link to the YouTube video where I found this recipe. It's in German but Thomas speaks very slowly and it is fun to watch him make the tart. I think this would be a great project for young cooks.
When buying Italian Prune Plums get the hard ones, some of the soft ones will be rotten inside and always buy more, just in case. These plums don’t have a long shelf life, that’s why a lot of stores don’t carry them.You can use another variety of plums if you are unable to get Italian plums.
One of the reasons I write my blog is to share my love of cooking and experimenting with different foods. There are so many recipes hidden away in my folders, magazines and books. And there is so much food I buy because it looks so good, as was the case when I ended up with an abundance of fresh berries and cherries. I used the freshest fruits for my Rumtopf and the rest of the berries to make a quick jar of jam, using only one tablespoon of honey as a sweetener. It is good and I have been eating it for the last three weeks. My favorite is to put it on a cracker with peanut butter for a quick snack.
It’s also great on my morning yogurt. This is the perfect recipe for making your first jam. I realize cherry season is over but with this recipe you can use other seasonal fruit. It’s easy and doesn’t take much time and effort. I found the recipe in a magazine called Real Simple that I enjoy reading. A little warning that this is not a sweet jam; it is more of a spread on the tart side. The original recipe called for chia seeds and I added them, but I made my second batch without them and I like that better. I like the crunchiness of the chia seeds, but one could easily mistake them for blackberry or raspberry seeds.
Here are some recipes for some of the marmalades and jams I have made in previous years. Plums are in season right now and my Zwetschgenmus (spiced plum jam) is a real treat, as are my other jams.
You only need three ingredients for this jam. The consistency is more of a topping or spread than a jam. It is tart and has to be kept in the fridge.
Yum, yum, it’s soaked in rum! If you are looking for an easy way to preserve the taste of summer for a cold winter night, look no further. Make an old-fashioned rum pot with the tastiest strawberries, cherries, raspberries (or any other fruit), add sugar and rum, then let it sit for at least two months. You will end up with a boozy delicacy, which is perfect on pudding, ice cream, flan, cheesecake, almond cake and in drinks. You only need three ingredients and a non-corrosive container with a lid for this classic German condiment.
This German tradition of making a rum pot goes back to 18th century, when rum was imported from the Caribbean to the northern Hanseatic towns. Legend has it that some tropical fruit accidentally ended up in a rum barrel. Whether it’s true or not, it’s a good story. My story goes back to my gentle, caring and loving father who wasn’t a cook. How could he be when he worked from dawn to dusk on the farm seven days a week? But he managed somehow to make a rum pot, which he loved to pour over ice cream.
A traditional Rumtopf is done in a special crock pot ( see the photo below) . My father just used a regular crock pot, but a mason jar will do. The fruit is added when it is ripe—strawberries in June, followed by raspberries, apricots, blueberries, cherries, plums (or any other fruit) in July and August. Sugar and rum is added for each addition. The beauty of the Rumtopf is that you can use almost any fruit you have available as long as you top it with rum that is 54% or higher (108 proof). It will put hair on your chest, so be careful and eat responsibly.
I live in California and only harvest a handful of berries from my garden, but fresh delicious fruit is everywhere else, especially at the farmers markets. I am found of cherries and love to eat them. I ended up with a refrigerator full of fresh fruit and had to do something with it, so the idea of a Rumtopf was born. All I had to do was find was a bottle of rum that was more than 54% alcohol. I am thinking of starting another Rumtopf the traditional way, by adding fruit and sugar and topping it with rum. Layering my Rumptopf with different fruits as time goes by, which keeps the pot going indefinitely.
Before you click on the recipe, please understand that this is an experiment , I usually taste my recipes before I post them, so please keep in mind that this is not one of them. If it turns out (and I don’t see why not), I will fill some small mason jars with my Rumtopf and give them to my friends for Christmas. We’ll see!
Your container can be a crockpot or a mason jar that has been cleaned thoroughly.
I mixed the stronger rum with regular 40% (80 proof) rum. But make sure to use 54% (108 proof ), otherwise your Rumtopf will get moldy. Be careful, because the rum is flammable. It is important that the fruit is covered with rum. You might have to top it off while you are aging it. I loosely put some plastic wrap on top of my pot and and then add a saucer on top of that to make sure that the fruit is immersed in the rum. After I put the lid on, I wrap the top again in plastic wrap. According to all recipes I found, the Rumtopf needs to age at least two months so that the special flavors can develop. Some Rumtopf have been nurtured for years. The Rumtopf is like a perpetual jar, much like sourdough starter that can be kept alive for years
Do you want a fruity drink tonight, try out my recipe for a light Strawberry Punch. Click on the photo for the recipe.
A personal note to followers of my blog:
For those of you who been wondering about me, life has had its challenges this year for my family. But we survived and I had to become stronger because of it. It’s been difficult, but the outcome is good for better days ahead. Thank you to all my friends and family for your support and love. I am respecting my husband’s request for privacy to not share more on the worldwide web.
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.