Pretzel Crusted Chicken Cutlets
I am always looking for new ways to cook chicken. This pretzel crusted chicken breast is perfect for salads or on sandwiches. Let’s admit it, chicken breast by itself its bland and flavorless. So, we need to give it all the love we can. If I just want a plain “no fuss” chicken breast, I marinate it and bake it in the oven. This particular recipe for chicken breast is crispy and tasty, almost but not quite like a southern deep fried chicken. It’s really not, but we can pretend it is and tell our tastebuds to enjoy it.
You can have these chicken cutlets on the table in about 25 minutes. It's a perfect weekday dinner dish. Serve it on a bun and make a crispy chicken burger. It makes a delicious dinner with my red cabbage and mashed potatoes. Younger children might have fun with this recipe .
Recipe for Pretzel Crusted Chicken Breast
You can play with the recipe by adding some pepper flakes or other herbs to the crushed pretzels. Make sure you do not overcook the chicken. Check for an internal temperature of 165℉. For the pretzels, I used Thin & Crunchy Pretzel Slims from Trader Joe’s. But any miniature pretzel will do.
2 cups miniature pretzel twists or pretzel slims
2 8-ounces boneless chicken breasts
Canola oil for frying
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Place the pretzels in a ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin or put them in a food processor. I did mine in the food processor. Transfer the crumbs to a flat dish, add some freshly ground pepper and some hot pepper flakes if you want some heat. Beat the eggs in a separate flat dish.
Cut the chicken breast in half horizontally to make four thin cutlets. Pound them with a meat tenderizer to flatten them evenly. Season with salt and pepper. Working with one cutlet at a time, dip it into egg and let excess drip off. Put the cutlet onto the plate with the pretzel crumbs, pressing down gently.
Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the cutlets and cook for about four minutes. Flip the cutlets over and cook until the thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 165 ℉, about another three minutes. Transfer the cutlets onto towel-lined plate.
Slice your cutlets and add them to your favorite salad or make a chicken burger. I enjoyed eating them cold as a snack.
Recipe from Real Simple Magazine
adapted by the Sunnycovechef.com
If you are hungry for some breaded pork cutlets with a mushroom pepper sauce click here
Think of chicken fricassee as a chicken pot pie without the pie. It’s a treasured dish, here and in Germany where it is called chicken fricassee (Hühnerfrikassee).
In this country, it is more of a home-cooked everyday meal, while in Germany its can be a fancy dish. In the 1960s, it was often served at weddings in a Vol-au-Vent (a small hollow case of puff pastry). It was part of my wedding dinner when I got married decades ago in Germany. But more often, chicken fricassee is served with rice, mashed potatoes or noodles. I had it with homemade Spätzle. The vegetables in this dish can vary; when in season asparagus is often added. Peas, carrots and mushroom are called for in most recipes. In the old days, canned white asparagus and canned mushrooms were added .
I have always enjoyed cooking this dish; it is the essence of comfort food. A few weeks ago, I was the personal chef of a friend of mine who was caring for her father during his last days. I made a big batch using two whole chickens, fresh asparagus, carrots, shiitake mushrooms and peas. I have made much smaller portions using chicken legs or breasts. The dish freezes well. I froze a portion for my husband to have when I go to Germany this spring.
I have prepared this dish many times. And I have to say, the secret is in the sauce. I boil the chicken with veggies to make a homemade broth. Usually, I do this a day before. When I was cooking the dish for my friends, I prepared a large casserole and put a sheet of puff pastry on the top. Then I baked it in the oven following the instructions on the puff pastry package. I have also made it with a homemade cream cheese crust in individual serving dishes. If you use a crust, make sure you have plenty of sauce because the dish tends to dry out while baking. That happened to me.
Recipe for Chicken Fricassee
This recipe will make 8-10 portions.
For the chicken broth:
2 small whole chickens
2-3 celery stalks (with leaves)
1 onion (with peel)
1 leek (or clean dark leek leaves)
A handful of parsley
1-2 tsp of salt
1tsp garlic salt
1-2 tsp pepper
8 ounces carrots (6 small ones)
6-7 ounces mushrooms
2 lb. green asparagus
4 TBs capers
3 TBs butter
3 TBs flour
4 or more cups chicken broth
1 or more cups of milk
½ cup cream or half and half
1 tsp Worcester sauce
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
4 tsp. capers
1-2 TBs fresh lemon juice
Cooking the Chicken
Place the chicken pieces or whole chicken in a large pot and add the vegetables. Cover everything with cold water. Bring it to a boil, and skim off the white foam from the top. Reduce the heat and simmer in the covered pot until chicken is cooked through, about 45 minutes. Cook the chicken breast less until the meat thermometer reads 165° degrees. Transfer the chicken to a large bowl and cool. Discard the skin and bones. Cut or pull the meat into 1-inch pieces. Strain the chicken broth and put the cooled broth in the refrigerator.
Preparing the vegetables
Bring a pot of water to a boil, add salt and blanch the carrots for about two minutes until they are al dente. Do the same with the asparagus. You have the choice of blanching the mushrooms or sautéing them in a mixture of butter and olive oil over a medium heat. I have done both and honestly I can’t tell the difference.
The sauce and assembling the fricassee
Melt butter in a large sauce pan, add the flour and whisk for two minutes. Make sure you don’t brown the roux. Gradually add in the chicken broth, one cup at a time. Before you add another cup, whisk the mixture until totally smooth for a creamy sauce. Add milk, Worcestershire sauce, capers, and let the sauce simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add cream or half and half, salt, pepper, freshly ground nutmeg and lemon juice. Add the chicken and bring it all to a simmer, then add the carrots, mushrooms, and asparagus . Season and serve.
If you want to add a crust, put the fricassee in a buttered oven-proof dish, cover the top with the puff pastry, and follow the instructions on the package. Cut some slits in the pastry and bake the dish until golden brown.
I would like to share with you some blog posts from prior Easter celebration in Germany. There are so many traditions and good recipes. Click on the photo for the link.
Happy Easter 2022
from the Sunnycovechef
Duck is my all-time favorite food. I am obsessed with duck confit. Because of that, I have neglected the succulent and tender duck breast, a delicacy that takes very little time and knowledge to prepare. Just follow a few simple steps and you will have an elegant and delicious dinner. Add your favorite vegetable and salad—and a your special dinner is ready.
When I was planning my dinner with the duck breasts, I was looking for an alternative to my calorie-laden mashed potatoes or my fried potatoes in duck fat. I found a recipe for celery root purée that I like very much. It is from Dorie Greenspan’s book Around my French Table, and like so many of her recipes, it turned out great. I reduced the amount of butter by half. The duck breast and the purée complemented each other perfectly. Another time, I served it with my stuffed pasta shells.
Several years ago, when I was at the culinary Institute in the Napa Valley, I bought Thomas Keller’s book ad hoc at home. It has many good recipes that I want to make. I used his recipes for duck breast several times over the years and have loved every bite. I tweaked the recipe just a little bit.
I made this recipe during the pandemic with three small duck breasts. I think one medium-sized breast per person is plenty. One of the key elements to an excellent duck breast is crisping the skin properly. The skin needs to be scored so the fat can quickly render away. Cook the breasts slowly with the skin down, pouring off the fat as it cooks. Never, ever throw duck fat away. I keep mine in the fridge for months or freeze it and use it on my red cabbage or fried potatoes—and anything else I can think of. In this recipe, the duck breast is cured for up to 24 hours (adding spices and aromatics for the last 12 hours).
THE RECIPE FOR SEARED DUCK BREST
2-3 duck breasts (depending on size)
1 thyme twig per breast
1 bay leaf per breast
1 TBS orange zest for 2 breasts
1 tsp canola oil
grey salt or other coarse sea salt
½ cup of white wine
One day before serving the breasts, defrost them. After they are defrosted, wipe the breast dry and put them on a plate uncovered skin up in the fridge for about 12 hours. To score the skin, the breasts have to be cold. Use a sharp knife, cutting a ¼-inch crosshatch pattern in the skin being careful not to pierce the meat. Season the flesh side of each breast with salt, pepper and a little bit of grated nutmeg. Sprinkle the orange zest and a few drops of balsamic vinegar over the breasts. Lay a thyme twig in the middle of each breast and cover it with a bay leaf. On a plate covered with a paper towel, turn the breasts over and put them on the paper towel. Sprinkle the skin side with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 1-12 hours (but at least one hour). I prepare mine the morning before I cook them, about 8 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Discard aromatic spices, blotting away any moisture from the duck breasts. Season both sides of the breast with a pinch of salt.
In a large frying pan, add canola oil and the duck breasts duck skin-side down. Sauté at low-medium heat. After about 5 minutes, the fat should begin to gently bubble. Maintain this bubbling, removing excess rendered fat with a large spoon by tilting the frying pan. Be careful not to burn yourself. If the fat hits the flame, it will cause a flare-up. Cook the duck breasts until most of the fat has been rendered: the skin will be golden brown and crisp. The internal temperature should read 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Flip each breast to the fleshy side and cook it for 30 seconds. Put the duck skin-side down in the oven and cook for about 5 minutes. The temperature should be 125 degrees for a rosy medium rare. Take the duck breast out of the pan, cover it with foil and let it rest for 5 minutes. In the meantime, deglaze the frying pan by adding half a glass of white wine. Add any juices that have accumulated on your plate with the duck breasts to the sauce. If you like, add a little orange juice and swirl some butter into the sauce. (This step is optional.)
Slice the duck breast and serve it with a vegetable you like. I envision some
red cabbage with potatoes fried in duck fat. Pour some of the sauce over the duck. A citrus-flavored salad would be a nice addition. The possibilities are endless.
Click here for my jumbo shells stuffed with Swiss chard and artichokes.
Click here for Dorie Greenspan’s recipe for “Go-With-Everything Celery Root Puree.”
This is a wonderful meal for a special person. Have fun, enjoy, and tell me if you liked it.
Recipe by Thomas Keller
Adapted by © Sunnycovechef.com
Lemon Mousse (Zitronenspeise) would make a perfect light ending to a special meal. Almond pear tart would top it all off. You decide which one!
Those who read my blog know about my love affair with duck, especially duck confit, duck legs cooked in their own fat. It is a classic dish from Gascony, in the southwest region of France. It is super delicious, tender, moist, and full of flavor. Confit means preserved in French. Before refrigeration this was the preferred method to preserve meat by submerging it in fat to produce an air-blocking seal. I order duck confit whenever I am in France. Duck confit should be silky, with tender meat and a crispy skin. I have used it in different recipes such as duck quesadillas, one of my favorite meals. I won a prize for this recipe and it was served at Shadowbrook, a restaurants in Capitola.
For years I bought duck legs at Costco. They came from D’Artagnan , a company that sells high quality fowl and meat from small farms, and their products are excellent. But now our Costco stopped carrying them. I could order them from D'Artagnan but I wanted to make them myself. I tried different ways. First I made them, the traditional way. They were delicious but you need a large refrigerator to keep the legs in a jar of fat. I don’t have that space, so I tried different recipes and some of them were ok, but I was looking for a more authentic recipe. While researching I came upon a video from Bon Apppetit that I tried and liked very much. I have made it several times now and I am very happy with the results. It’s easy and takes little effort, but it does take time to cook. This is an especially good project for a rainy day or when you are working from home. You don’t have to pay much attention while it is in the oven for about 6 hours at low heat. Each step can be prepared a day ahead. The last time I started making them in my little cabin in the mountains. I put the rub on but then PGE turned the electricity off due to high winds and extreme fire danger. Back home they went and I started cooking them the night we got home and finished them the next day They were absolutely delicious. My husband declared them to be the best ever.
I made four legs the first time but I recommend making six. That gives you some leftovers that are great in different recipes like my duck quesadillas or just add them to a salad. I have added them to my lentil salad and it makes scrumptious meal.
In this recipe the duck legs are rendered in their own fat just like traditional duck confit. I have served my legs with fried or mashed potatoes and always with my red cabbage.
The Recipe for Duck Confit legs
This recipe makes 4 or 6 legs. I would recommend 6 legs.
6 duck legs
for the rub:
2 TBS peppercorns
2 TBS coriander seeds
3 Tbs kosher salt
3 pieces of 1 inch ginger
1 jalapeño pepper or other hot pepper (optional)
1 head of garlic
With a sharp knife puncture the skin of the duck legs, trying not to puncture the meat. Turn the legs over and puncture the fat pocket on the inside of the legs. Doing this will help the fat flow out of the legs. The legs need to be immersed in fat to cook them confit style.
Crush the peppercorn and coriander seeds lightly with a mortar and pestle, add salt and mix together. It’s important that you cover the legs with the mixture, especially the salt. Put the legs in a ziplock bag and keep them in the fridge for 10-12 hours or overnight. When you take the legs out of the bag brush off the spices and most of the salt, I use a paper towel for that.
Put the duck legs in a dutch oven with the skin side down. They are going to shrink as they cook. Half the ginger and score the fleshy side. I added ½ seeded jalapeño pepper. Cut the garlic bulb in half and add all your aromatics to the pot. Add ½ cup of water, put the pot with the lid on in a 250˙ degree preheated oven. After one hour check the duck legs. The fat will have started to render. Move the legs around a little bit without breaking the skin. Put them in the oven for another hour. After they have been in the oven for two hours turn the duck legs over skin side up making sure that the meat is still immersed in the fat. Cook for another 2 hours. Take them out of the oven and put the legs on a baking sheet to finish them in a 450 ˙degree preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes until the skin is crispy and has released most of its fat. Make sure you don’t burn them. That would be a shame. I often keep the legs in the fridge and crisp them the next day. In the meantime drain the fat, discard the aromatics . Put the fat in a container. It will last for months in the fridge and will take fried potatoes to another level. I also put it in my red cabbage .
If you decide to make this I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. I enjoyed watching the video.
Click on the link below to watch the video
Recipe from the Test Kitchen of Bon Appetit by Carla Lalli Music
Posted by ©Sunnycovechef.com
My dear readers I hope that the magic of Christmas fills every corner of your heart and home with joy-now and always. Enjoy the holidays and have fun with friends and family.
Just in case you still need some ideas for Christmas. I won't be making my standing rib roast this year because we are going to a friend's house for dinner. Instead I will bring my cranberry sauce and chestnut shiitake mushroom stuffing and my country pâté. And of course will share some of the cookies I made. Poached pears will make a light and easy desert if you depot add ice cream.
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.
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
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.
Five years of Blogging
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
Introducing Kohlrabi/ A Vegetarian Delight - Kohlrabi Stuffed with Spinach and Feta Cheese
Kohlrabi has been a staple of German cuisine for hundreds of years. It was bred as a hardier version of cruciferous vegetables to grow in harsh conditions. In Germany it is a basic staple that everyone knows and can afford. You can find kohlrabi in almost every German garden. Even though I am not usually into trends and food fads, who knows, kohlrabi could be the next kale!
Kohlrabi tastes similar to a broccoli stem, but with the flavor of cabbage—almost like radish crossed with jicama. It has a crisp and crunchy texture when eaten raw. According to the internet, kohlrabi has amazing health claims and is low in calories. It is full of nutrients and minerals like copper, potassium, manganese, iron and calcium, and other vitamins. Kohlrabi promotes digestive health and helps with weight management. Do not mistake kohlrabi for a rutabaga or a turnip. It’s almost impossible to find in California grocery stores.
Kohlrabi is one of the most versatile vegetables around. My husband likes kohlrabi raw, thinly sliced. You can easily add it to any salad or soup. The leaves can be steamed like most greens, although I have not tried that. I was super excited when I found out that “Route 1,” a local organic farm, was selling kohlrabi at the Westside farmer’s market (on Saturday morning) here in Santa Cruz. I bought several bunches last week and two more this week.
My favorite recipe for kohlrabi is the one I made with my mother when would visit her in Germany. Basically, it’s meatballs cooked with kohlrabi in a white sauce. Here’s the link to one of my earliest posts:
I found a vegetarian recipe using kohlrabi on a German website that I liked. The kohlrabi is hollowed out and stuffed with a mixture of spinach and feta cheese. The kohlrabi stays firm and crunchy and compliments the soft stuffing. The sauce is made from the hollowed out kohlrabi meat mixed with the cooking water and some cream. This dish makes an impressive lunch or dinner. I ate it for lunch for a week since I had to work on the recipe and enjoyed it while losing a couple of pounds.
I am on my way to Germany to visit friends and family for two weeks. I hope you all have a wonderful Easter holiday. Here are some previous posts where I celebrated Easter in Germany and some ideas for you to make something special for your loved ones.
These elegant crepes filled with salmon and fennel make a great brunch or dinner. Add a salad and you have a great meal.
Here is a recipe for a nutty lemony cake using whole lemons.
Kohlrabi comes in different colors (purple and white), but once peeled, it all have a creamy white interior. When preparing kohlrabi, you should always peel off the tough outermost layer with a sharp knife. Kohlrabi is a treasure of the vegetable kingdom. A cup of raw kohlrabi has just 36 calories. I would think that goat cheese is a good substitute for feta cheese.
Turkey Parts in a Hurry
This turkey recipe caters to the cook who doesn’t want the whole bird but only parts of it. If all you want is a breast and some thighs and legs, this recipe is for you. I am writing this post for people who don’t have the time for an elaborate dinner but still want to have a tasty feast with about four hours of prep and cooking time. It does require a little planning.
I came across this recipe last May when I wanted to make a traditional American feast for my German relatives who came to visit. Whole Foods whole turkeys were very expensive, but they had turkey parts on sale. I always either dry rub or brine turkey meat for tenderness and flavor. In this recipe from epicurious.com the turkey parts are brined overnight in a salt and spice mixture. Put the parts in a sturdy large resealable zip lock plastic bag and add the ingredients. Voila, the next day you dry the turkey parts and roast them for about one and a half to two hours. Now it is up to you to make the side dishes of your choice or have Aunt Mary bring her jelly salad .
Of course for me it is not turkey day until I have cranberry sauce, chestnut stuffing, and a lot of gravy.
My husband and I spent a weekend in our little cabin in the Sierra Nevada. I love to cook in my tiny kitchen so I decided to make him and his oldest friend an early Thanksgiving dinner because I am leaving for Germany on Sunday. On Thanksgiving I probably will be eating duck instead of turkey. I was pressed for time and used a bread mix for the stuffing and bought peeled and roasted chestnuts. By not having to roast and peel chestnuts my stuffing was easier to make.
Even though I often use prepackaged broth for my turkey gravy and stuffing I prefer to make my own. This can be done weeks ahead and frozen. In my humble opinion a homemade broth will make or break the gravy or stuffing. When I do a whole turkey I use the stomach and gizzard from the turkey for the gravy. This time I bought turkey wings. I always freeze all my leftover green veggies like the white leek ends, the tops of green onions, mushroom stems, and other greens to use in my stock. It’s great for any stock. I made the sauce while the turkey was cooking and added the pan juices later.
Of course you can check out my whole turkey recipe which I have been making for years. If you have time try my cranberry ketchup, it is great on leftover turkey sandwiches. Oh, and don’t forget to freeze some extra packages of cranberries so you can have a feast in May.
I wish you all a relaxing and peaceful Thanksgiving with a lot of good food and company.
I usually use three to four drumsticks and one large turkey breast on the bone which will make six to eight servings. This time I used two humongous drumsticks that my husband brought home.
These are your quintessential German meatballs, carefully simmered and served with a tangy white sauce with capers and lemon juice. The sauce is full of flavor, the texture is velvety smooth and the meatballs will melt in your mouth. It is a well-loved dish you will find all over Germany.
My recipe comes from my niece’s husband’s mother, Kerstin, who lives near Berlin and is an excellent cook. I admire her cooking style, simple yet expertly refined through her constant tasting and slowly adding spices. No recipe is needed. I once asked her son to describe her cooking and the answer was Hausmannskost (home cooking).
Kerstin cooked the meatballs when she and her husband visited me in Santa Cruz. I loved watching her slowly perfect the flavor. I tried to take notes, but more than once had to cross out and rewrite. The second and third time I cooked them for my German girlfriends, I got rave reviews—and not one morsel was left.
This dish is named for the Prussian city of Königsberg which is now Kalinigrad in Northern Poland. If you go on the web, you will find many variations for the recipe. Originally, the meatballs were made with veal and either herring or anchovies were added. This dish is traditionally served with boiled potatoes and cooked beets tossed in vinegar. To develop the flavors, cook the meatballs the day before. It is a humble dish and easy to make.
To develop the flavors, cook the meatballs the day before and leave them in the broth.
Use white pepper if you have it. Once you have cooked the meatballs in the broth, let them steep for at least an hour in the pot. I left mine overnight. The longer you steep them, the more flavor will develop. This recipe makes about a dozen meatballs and serves four to six people.
Boil or steam the potatoes with their skins on for about 20 minutes or until soft when pierced with a knife. I like German butterball potatoes, but you can use any yellow potato. Peel them and serve them with the meatballs. Boil the beets with their skins on for at least 30 minutes or longer. I make a vinaigrette with olive oil, balsamic vinegar , some finely chopped onions and salt and pepper. I add this to the warm peeled and sliced beets.
Tomato Meat Sauce with Pasta
Usually I test my recipes several times before I post them. This recipe was such a big hit during Oscar night that I am going to post the first iteration. There are many versions of this sauce that are delicious but for once I am going to stop adjusting and just post as it is. The sauce has a strong tomato taste seasoned with Italian herbs. If you like these flavors this sauce is for you
Every Sunday I walk to our little farmer’s market around the corner and get whatever looks good. I haven't made a lot of pasta lately but when I went to the market this week I decided to splurge and make pasta with tomato sauce. I bought ground pork from a young farmer who raises pigs on a nearby farm. The meat was outstanding and I will get it again. I decided to get fresh pasta shells for my sauce and some crusty bread. Instead of a salad we had artichokes from the market. The sauce was easy to make while watching all the beautiful people on the red carpet. Tara had never seen the Oscars before and also enjoyed watching them while finishing her homework assignment.
This sauce could easily be vegetarian if your prepare it without the meat. Substitute regular spaghetti or any other pasta you like. All the vegetables should be finely diced
Rouladen or Rinderrouladen is a quintessential German meat dish made with bacon, onions and pickles wrapped in thinly sliced beef. The gravy is an absolute requirement to round out this dish. It is usually served with boiled potatoes, potato dumplings, or Spätzle (depending on the region). I like red cabbage with my Rouladen, but you can serve it with any vegetable you like. The dish was once considered a recipe for common folk, but today it is enjoyed by many people as a festive dish or a special Sunday meal. Imagine braised meat flavored with mustard, pickles, prosciutto, enhanced by a rich gravy. If you like that, than Rouladen is the dish for you.
My love affair with Rouladen began here in the United States when Susanne, my friend and neighbor and an excellent cook, started making it for me. This dish is the best cure when I get homesick for Germany. It’s like soul food imbedded into my DNA. It’s not fancy or delicate, but homey and nourishing. I can’t wait to sit at Susanne’s inviting table and start eating.
There are many recipes for Rinderroulden (beef roll-ups), but I enjoy Susanne’s the best. She uses thinly sliced prosciutto that she buys at Trader Joe’s (instead of bacon) as well as cornichons (gherkin pickles). The butcher slices a piece of London broil into 1/8 inch thin slices. I find that this dish develops more flavor when made a day ahead.
My recipe for red cabbage ( here is the link for the recipe) goes well with Rouladen. Susanne serves boiled potatoes that she flavors with melted butter and parsley. Thank you Susanne, for being my friend and taking care of me for so many years.
For dessert I recommend something light and lemony like my lemon mouse, lemon pudding cake, or my lemon and buttermilk sorbet. Click on the photo for the recipe.
Have the butcher cut a rectangular piece of London broil into 1/8-inch slices. When I made the recipe, I got seven pieces. Suzanne got six pieces. It also important to dice the cornichons and onions into very small cubes.
If you like duck, try this recipe. It is easy to cook and anyone can do it. Duck confit is on the top of my list of favorite foods. I have made different dishes using duck confit over the years. My claim-to-fame recipe is Duck Quesadillas. Making duck confit is fun, however it is time-consuming and you need a lot of duck or goose fat. In the past, I have bought pre-made duck confit and there is nothing wrong with that. I freeze it, knowing I always have something very tasty in my house. I make a pasta dish with cabbage and duck confit that is delicious. My girlfriend, Marie, has promised me another dish that her French grandmother used to make. Duck confit or confit de carnard is a centuries-old process of preservation that consists of salt-curing a piece of meat and then cooking it in its own fat. You will find it in the rich cuisine of southwestern France. I had some duck confit while visiting France that was to die for, crisp skin with tender meat.
Every year, I prepare a birthday dinner for my friend, George. My best one was cooking a goose years ago. It was delicious and I will have to make it again and post the recipe. This year, I remembered a recipe from Sara Moulton that was in my fowl folder. I had been wanting to make it for years, but had forgotten about the recipe. (I have been known to get sidetracked easily.) This recipe is an easy alternative to preparing duck confit without using goose or duck fat. You cook it in a Reynolds Oven Bag. “Why not?”, I thought it was worth a try. Sara Moulton is a great cook and I always enjoy watching her on TV. Click here for her website and the original recipe. She used a whole duck. I decided to only use duck legs. (I like my duck breasts cooked differently.)
I served my duck legs with my red cabbage and roasted parsnips, sweet potatoes and fingerling potatoes. I made a gravy too, although that is not necessary
I used the Reynolds Turkey Size bag (19-23.5 inches) to cook the legs. I put the bag in my large turkey pan to cook. You don't want the legs touching each other. Always add flour according to recipe. I added 1 TBS of flour that keeps the bag from bursting. When you put the plastic bag in the pan, allow room for the bag to expand in the oven during cooking without touching the heating elements, walls or rack. The bag should not hang over the rim of the pan you are using. Make sure you spray vegetable oil in the bag, so the legs don’t stick to the bag.
For the last three years, my husband and I have gone abroad for Thanksgiving. Our first trip was to Rome and it was fantastic. There were no lines at the Vatican or anywhere else. The next year, we went to Prague and had duck on Thanksgiving in a cozy restaurant. Last year, we had goose in Berlin. I choose to stay home this year, but with the recent election and family stuff, I wish I was back in Rome.
I have a vivid imagination and I can picture some of you sitting around the table with family and friends and hopefully not discussing politics. That could end badly this year. Each family has their own recipes with some of them being passed down from generation to generation. The center piece is usually a turkey, if you are not a vegetarian. There also is cranberry sauce, stuffing, rolls, and so much more.
I remember my first Thanksgiving when I was in Germany and my then American husband prepared a Thanksgiving meal while I was teaching. Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Germany. I can’t remember any of the food he prepared other than the turkey. The next year, I was living in Lowell, Massachusetts and I was invited to Thanksgiving by a Greek family. I remember spinach spanakopita and a tasty stuffing. The years went by and many Thanksgivings have passed. My favorite Thanksgivings were the ones when we fed 90 people at our school. The children were dressed as Pilgrims and Indians, and recited little poems. We invited our friends from a nursing home and had a wonderful time. The children’s mothers cooked the turkey. We made instant mashed potatoes and instant gravy. Yes, you read correctly, this food blogger made instant mashed potatoes. There is no way we would be able to peel potatoes for 90 people, dress the kids and have them ready for the feast. I did bring some fresh herbs and spices for them to try. It was glorious! This was not about fancy food, but it was about giving thanks, having compassion and sharing everything. This happened on a Wednesday and I would come home and prepare another feast for my family and friends on Thursday. If you were a friend of mine, and you didn't have your own family to eat with, you were always welcome to join us. That’s what Thanksgiving is all about.
Over the years, I have made several vegetarian Thanksgiving meals with chestnut stuffing, mashed potatoes, and mushroom gravy. I lost the recipe for the best sweet potato yeast rolls ever, and I have not been able to reproduce it. Please let me know if you have some good recipes. These days, life has become simpler and I use the recipes that I have on my blog, but I’m still looking for that elusive sweet potato roll recipe!
My turkey is moist, tender and juicy with a flavorful gravy. Rosemary, thyme, and sage add flavor to both. If you are too busy to read my posts, click on the photos for the recipe.
For me the most important dishes for Thanksgiving dinner are the stuffing, the gravy and the cranberry sauce. The cranberry ketchup is a new addition to my repertoire and I love it.
I wish you all a peaceful Thanksgiving with good food, good friends and family and a full belly. And please, don't discuss politics, it is not good for digestion.
A German Country Wedding
Every wedding is special for the ones involved and etched into our memory forever. This was a special one for me because it involved my niece, who has been like a daughter to me from the day she was born. Since I was unable to have children of my own, her birth was the only one I was able to participate in. My son was six years old when I adopted him.
After living with her boyfriend for seven years, my niece toyed with the idea of getting married in a chapel in Las Vegas, but no papers were ever filed. Then last year, they had a sweet spiritual commitment ceremony on the French Atlantic coast while camping with some friends, her brother and his family. This year, they finally decided to do the real thing with a church wedding at our family farm in Germany on a Friday, followed by a huge summer party Saturday with more people and more friends. It was definitely an event that my niece had planned for months which took an enormous amount of effort. First, it was going to be a small wedding with family and some friends, followed by the annual summer party that my nephew, niece and friends have every year. As time went on, things got bigger and bigger like weddings often do.
After everything was said and done, it was the most genuine and sweetest weddings I have ever been to (of course I am biased). When I saw my niece dancing with her friends on the stage very late at night, I knew that she was happy.
Literally, it took a village, complete with friends and family to make it all happen, but she made all the decisions. A huge tent was rented in case of rain. And it did. Two smaller tents were put up. A stage and a large play area was built for the children. Most of the work was done by friends who arrived days ahead and camped on the property or slept in the emptied-out garden shacks. My son arrived early with my niece and about 12 friends. These guys worked tirelessly until the moment they left. My niece’s best friend, Corinna, was amazing—she cooked for all the people and was the best personal assistant I have ever seen. Dominik , the best man, was working very hard in the yard and making sure that the groom had a helping hand. Guest came from Austria, Colombia, Venezuela, Nepal, and let's not forget California.
We old folks decided to stay in a hotel in a nearby small town. The groom’s mother transported some beautiful but very fragile wildflowers from home. The woman in the neighboring village made a huge wedding wreath. It is tradition in this village to make one for every wedding. What a wonderful local custom. My niece wanted to be married there rather than in her home village two kilometers away.
In the truest sense, it was a dramatic event. Mother Nature added a violent thunderstorm a half hour before the wedding. The boys had to get undressed and rescue one of the tents. The decorations from the stage flew all over the farm. Getting to the church was a task not easily done, due to high wind and rain. The church bells rang for awhile. But all was forgotten as my my niece and the groom walked together down the aisle lead by the pastor, which was something they had decided ahead of time. They had lived together for seven years and had been separated by my niece's internship in Melbourne, Australia for a year. And a life-threatening illness had brought them even closer. There were tears of happiness flowing in the little church.
The thunderstorm was over after the church and all was well. Some farmers decorated a trailer to transport the couple back to the farm. Some other guests were in a second trailer pulled by a tractor. I loved it.
The reception party following the ceremony was fun and we danced way into the night. Everybody had fun.
The next day, the annual summer party took place. It was a potluck event so people brought salads and my brother's friend barbecued sausages and meat. Unfortunately, it rained, so everything took place in the tents. The following day everybody helped clean up and
the wedding weekend was over. Weddings in Germany are as different as they are here in the States—from very formal to a small gathering at the justice of peace.
I used my own photos except for the the first two. I will add or replace some photos later.
I ask the bride and the groom to choose their favorite food from my blog for this post. The bride likes my duck confit quesadillas and the groom my chocolate tart.
Pretend your are in a fancy, expensive spa and imagine being pampered with a delicious meal. I have been making this recipe for my health conscious friends for years using different types of fish. The butternut coulis and mushrooms are vegan and are very low in calories. For fish I have used whatever is available and fresh. Red snapper or cod are good choices. For this occasion I roasted some asparagus as an additional vegetable. This meal serves four with some leftover coulis.
I live in Santa Cruz where over half the population is vegetarian and some folks are vegan. This is the perfect dish because they don't have to eat the fish and all I have to do is substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth. The coulis can be turned into a delicious healthy soup by adding additional broth. Last Saturday I invited some friends who were in a middle of a health crisis and needed a comforting and healthy meal. This one fits the bill. A good meal will let you forget about the problems and fears you are facing and enjoy the moment. For an appetizer, I served my baked goat cheese with fresh herbs and garlic. We sat outside enjoying the warm evening, dipping fresh baguette in our goat cheese and sipping a glass of 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon from Hewitt Vineyard which my friends had brought.
The meal was a great success. The halibut was a little overdone, so watch the time when you roast it. My friend’s immune system would not allow any uncooked fish. This is one dish I always plate before serving. I am sorry about the quality of the photos, it does not reflect the food. I have tried to photograph this several times before but what can I say?… I am a slow learner and I am not devoting much time to improving my photography skills. It shows! My dream is to take a workshop somewhere in Europe where I might improve my photography skills.
I had some fresh raspberries and blueberries in my refrigerator . For dessert I decided to make my favorite galette. Okay, this is where I chose not be too healthy and got some bitter caramel ice-cream from the Penny Ice-Cream Shop in Santa Cruz. These guys make the absolutely best ice cream ever. I loooooove the bitter caramel and yes, I know that vanilla ice-cream probably would go better with the galette. But I couldn't help myself. If you are ever in Santa Cruz and before you hit the beach, treat yourself to ice cream from this wonderful creamery. It is worth every bite.
I usually make the coulis ahead of time. Substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth to make a vegan version. I like my coulis spicy; if you don't I would recommend cutting the spices down. Try using 3/4 tsp of ground cumin and curry powder and 1 tablespoon of ginger instead of two. Make the leftover coulis into a soup by adding more liquid.
For mushrooms I like to use shiitakes but you can use button mushrooms or a mixture of both. I buy frozen edamame beans and use them while they are still frozen.
This makes 4 servings with some leftover coulis and mushroom sauce. I make my own bread crumbs by putting day old sourdough bread in my Vitamix . Before I bought it, I used my food processor
This is an over-the-top salmon dish. Crespelle, an Italian pasta-like version of crepes, makes this a showpiece for a home-cooked meal. The Italians call it Cannelloni Ripieni di Salmone. With a name like this, you can’t go wrong. Crepes or cannelloni are filled with salmon, fennel, shallots, parmesan cheese, crème fraîche and basil. A lemony béchamel sauce puts it all together and creates a memorable meal to share with family and friends. Everything can be assembled ahead of time, which in my opinion is perfect for entertaining.
I found the recipe for the crestelIe in an old Gourmet magazine. I miss Gourmet! I think the crepes give the dish an elegant presentation and add flavor, but you can substitute fresh pasta made into cannoli. Although I have to say, I prefer the crepes.
First, I make the crepes and stack them between paper towels and cover everything with plastic wrap. The béchamel sauce can also be prepared ahead of time, but needs to be reheated before using and maybe thinned out a little. It will save you same time if you can have your fish monger skin the salmon and cut it into bite-sized pieces.
Spring is asparagus time and that is what I serve as a side dish. I cut off the woody ends and peel part of my asparagus. I massage them on a cookie sheet with some hazelnut oil (although regular olive oil is fine), sprinkle some salt and pepper on then bake it in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes according to size. I like my asparagus crunchy.
Fregolotta, an Italian giant cookie that is easy to make and the perfect ending for this special meal. Click here for the recipe.
I missed my last book club meeting because I was in Germany. As our next book, our group choose Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, an Australian prisoner who escapes and lives in the underworld of Bombay. It’s a 936-page epic novel about living in the slums, romantic love, prison agony, criminal wars, spiritual gurus and mujaheddin guerrillas. It’s a huge novel that embraces every human experience imaginable, all framed by a love for India. It was an interesting but long read. I liked it.
This recipe makes six large crepes and serves 4-6 people. Make the crepes ahead of time just in case one of them doesn't turn out, in which case you might want to make another batch. Don't let the length of the recipe scare you. Each step is straightforward and doesn't take much time.
Even though this turkey is moist, tender and juicy—the gravy puts it over the top. What you have here is a classic turkey with some added depth and flavor. The meat tastes of sage, rosemary, and thyme.
Here we are, the third and final post for my pre-Thanksgiving dinner. I bought a 9 1/2 pound fresh petite Diestel Turkey (I call it the Gerlinde butterball). I can hear you all say that's too small, but it isn't. So far, we had eight servings and several turkey sandwiches —and there is still some left. In the past, I have bought 12 -16 pound turkeys. The Diestel turkey farm is in the Sierra foothills and we drive right by it when we go to the mountains.
My turkey has several components. It is dry brined with herbed salt. I then put herbed butter under the breast skin and cover the top of the bird with cheesecloth soaked in butter and turkey stock. I make my own turkey stock the day before, using the neck bone and gizzard. The stock adds great flavor to the turkey and the gravy.
You will be rewarded for all this work with a great-tasting bird. My photos of the turkey are horrible, as I had no time and it shows. I will replace the photos when I make this turkey again—but in the meantime, bear with me.
There is always something to be thankful for
Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving with friends and family
Chestnut Shiitake Mushroom Stuffing
I'm trying to organize my Thanksgiving and holiday recipes. In my previous post, I shared my cranberry ketchup and cranberry sauce recipe with you.
For me, the most important dishes for the Thanksgiving dinner table are cranberry sauce, gravy and stuffing. Forget the turkey. I did for years when I was a vegetarian. In those days, I often created lavish Thanksgiving dinners for friends and family. Since the stuffing was the centerpiece, I would bake it in a pumpkin or some sort of squash, using vegetable broth and making a vegetarian gravy. Now that the turkey has fallen back into grace at our table, I still make the stuffing, but most of the time I bake it in a pretty dish. So if you are a little pressed for time (who isn't these days?), use a casserole dish instead of a pumpkin. Although If you do use a pumpkin or squash, you will most likely end up with extra stuffing that you bake in a dish.
I made the stuffing for my pre-Thanksgiving dinner in our cabin. I removed the seeds and some of the flesh from a little red Kabocha Squash and filled it with some of my stuffing. The leftover stuffing went into a greased iron casserole. The stuffing in the squash was moist while the stuffing in the casserole was crunchy and dry. I preferred the crunchier version but enjoyed the stuffed squash for leftovers. It makes a great lunch with some sauce and pieces of the squash.
I love roasted chestnuts and I think they add a wonderful flavor to the stuffing. What I don't like is getting the nuts out of the shells. It is a tedious, nasty job and I have yet to come up with a solution. If anybody knows an easy way—please, please let me know. My husband and I have tried several techniques but none of them have been easy. Perhaps the best alternative is to buy the chestnuts already cleaned.
My husband made the croutons and peeled the chestnuts the day before.
Muffin Quiches without a Crust
These savory little mini-quiches are just right for my new life as a student. There are easy to carry with you and make a great healthy snack. They taste good, even when they are cold. You can customize them to your own liking and add only those veggies you or your loved ones enjoy.
I would love to make them with young children and have them choose as what vegetables they would like to put in them—a great way to introduce kids to new veggies. I think the potatoes are a necessity, but you could try sweet potatoes. I put in mushrooms because I like them and I had some leftover cooked kale. I think spinach would be just as good, if not better. I added some zucchini and that tasted good too. I would like to experiment with little pieces of ham or bacon to make it like a Quiche Lorraine without the crust. As you see, the possibilities are endless.
Yes, I enrolled in our local junior college to take a class in digital photography. The junior college gives people the opportunity to go to college and prepare for a job or a four-year university education. It gives people like me a chance to be a life-long learner. I can wholeheartedly support such worthy institutions. When I came to this country many moons ago, a different junior college gave me a chance to get an education, for which I'm forever grateful.
It's apple season and time to make my Apple Strudel Cake.
These savory muffins are the perfect snack any time of the day. I like the sharp flavor of Roquefort cheese, but that's an acquired taste. Parmesan or any other cheese will be fine too, although the blue cheese adds some flavor to the muffin. I used leftover cooked kale I had made the day before. The second time I used baby spinach.
Pappardelle with Fava Bean Leaf Pesto , Fava Beans, Salmon and Shiitake Mushrooms
When I did my weekly shopping at the farmer's market, I came upon a treasure I had never used before—fava leaves. I adore and love fava beans, but I don't like hulling and peeling them. A real pain in the tush. Preparing fava beans is a lot of work, but you do end up with a wonderful spring treat. Fava beans (also known as broad beans) are the king of all beans. Their flavor is smoother, sweeter and richer than most other beans.
When I spotted some fava bean leaves in a bag, my cooking antenna went up. "What do you do with them?" I asked. " Pesto" was the answer. That bag of leaves went in my basket faster than a dog chasing a cat.
A chance to produce the taste of fava beans without all the work . Here I had lived all my life without knowing that you could make pasta out of fava bean leaves! I made the pesto and it was delicious.
The dark green, shiny pesto had a tinge of bitterness with a nutty flavor similar to arugula. I played with it all week. I had it on all my sandwiches and on my leftover veggies, and potatoes.
I used some of the pesto to make my pasta dish using Mike's pasta. An ode to Mike and his delicious fresh-made pasta that is light, smooth and to me, the perfect pasta. It is made in Santa Cruz and delivered fresh to several local grocery stores. I fell in love with Mike's pasta many years ago when there was little fresh pasta available. Many a night when I came home from work thinking of making dinner, I would stop and get some of his tasty raviolis. I would cook them and add some tomato sauce or some garlic and butter. Within 20 minutes a mushroom, sweet potato, cheese, or tofu ravioli would smoothly slide down my throat delighting my senses. My family and I would enjoy a great meal. What more can you ask for? I use his fettuccine pasta for my seafood pasta. Mike's pasta has kept the same quality over the years. Nobody talked him into adding stuff, so his pasta would have a longer shelf life. He didn't go public or franchise his business, no sireee, he just kept making perfect fresh pasta. Thank you, Mike, from the bottom of my heart for the many good meals. Disclaimer: I don't know Mike and I'm not getting paid or anything . But I might go visit him one of these days.
I took my last ½ cup of fava bean pesto to the cabin. We needed to remove potential fire material around the cabin. But it snowed and there was no work to be done outside. Instead we lit a cozy fire and enjoyed the winter scenery. I had brought up some pappardelle from Mike, some fava beans and shiitake mushrooms from the Farmer's Market. I had splurged and bought some local wild king salmon that was caught in our bay. This is such a treat but it is becoming very expensive. I prepared a wonderful spring meal in a winter wonderland. We opened a bottle of crisp white burgundy, which was a perfect complement to the meal.
This is a dish where you can substitute basil pesto for the fava leaf pesto. Some roasted pine nuts would be a great addition. Instead of fava beans you can use a cup of edamame beans or peas.
The schnitzel is a boneless piece of meat, thinned with a meat tenderizer, coated with flour, beaten eggs and bread crumbs, and then fried.
By adding a mushroom sauce, a schnitzel becomes a Jägerschnitzel. There are many versions of the Jägerschnitzel or hunter's cutlet in Germany and Austria.
I'm back home in my beautiful costal town in California, but my thoughts are often in Germany, my native home. As I reflect on my mother’s recent passing, memories are resurfacing from my childhood. On our farm, Sunday was always a day of rest. No one was supposed to work on Sunday, except for chores like feeding the animals. And then there was the Sunday lunch, the most special meal of the week. Lunch was the big hot meal of the day, like an American dinner. During the week, the lunches were stews and simple meals, but on Sundays things were different. There were puddings for desert, maybe a clear broth for soup to begin with, followed a main course of a meat roast, a chicken or duck, or pork chops made into schnitzels, which is my favorite.
I think the schnitzel was invented by a very clever cook to double the size of the pork chops—by pounding them and coating them in eggs and breadcrumbs. The French and Italians use the same method in their recipes. The schnitzel is similar to the French dish escalope and scallopini in Italian. To enrich the dish, sauces were invented. If the schnitzel has a mushroom sauce, it is called Jägerschnitzel (Jäger means hunter). When the sauce is made with peppers, it becomes a Zigeunerschnitzel (a gypsy schnitzel). In my recipe, I combined the mushrooms and peppers to make a flavorful sauce. I had the leftover sauce with baked spaghetti squash and it was delicious. I can imagine serving it over different grains. I just like to add vegetables whenever I can. If you don't have time to make the sauce, the breaded schnitzel is good by itself, served with a good beer, a salad and some bread.
This is a Jägerschnitzel I had in Germany prepared by a Michelin starred chef in her restaurant. She served it with fried potatoes.
If you want to stay with the German Theme try this Apple Strudel Cake . I have been baking this cake as long as I can remember.
Potato Pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer)
My blogging buddy, Cecilia, from the Kitchengarden blog has asked me to share a story from my family farm in Germany, as well as a recipe for German potato pancakes. I have to make a confession though: I have never made potato pancakes before. Oh, I have eaten them a hundred times—at my mother’s, at friends’ houses, and at those little outdoor stands in Germany that you find in every town or carnival. The problem is, I can't stop eating them once I start. These crunchy, crispy pancakes are downright addictive. My favorites are the ones that my mom used to make with her homemade applesauce. She would feed crowds with them. I would ask her for the recipe, and she would say, “Well you grate the potatoes, put onions in them if you have them, and add some flour, eggs, and salt and pepper.” "How much mom?” I would ask. “Well, until it looks right,” she would say.
My mom seldom used measurements to cook. Some of my German friends use potato starch as a thickener and some use flour. Some drain the potatoes and use the leftover potato starch at the bottom of the bowl. Like I said before, I like to eat them with applesauce but have also eaten them with sauce made from quark (a German fresh cheese made from buttermilk), lox and creme fraîche or as a side with different dishes. I use Yukon potatoes, because they remind me of potatoes that are grown in Germany.
What else is happening in my kitchen? Blood oranges are in season at our farmer's market right now and I love my homemade orange marmalade. The other day, I made a double batch and used half the sugar that my recipe calls for. The consistency of it was much softer, especially the orange peel, and it has a tart, almost bitter flavor. I like both versions and plan on making a third batch experimenting with the amount of sugar.
These potato pancakes make a tasty treat for any meal.
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.