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.
How can it already be Thanksgiving again? Time flies by so fast, it's scary. During previous years, we often traveled. I remember the duck dinner in Prague and the beautiful week in Rome where we had pasta for Thanksgiving. This year we are going to our little cabin in the Sierra Mountains to celebrate with my sister-in-law and her family. It's going to be low-key and relaxing, especially since my brother-in-law will barbecue the turkey and my nephew is a great cook. For Christmas, I will have a full house since I will celebrate with my niece and nephew from Germany and my American family. I am always very happy when I get visitors from Germany because it's during the holidays when I miss them the most.
When it comes to Thanksgiving, each family has their treasured recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. There is Aunt Mary's jello salad and the bean casserole from your grandmother. And let's not forget sweet potato pie. Tell me, what are some of the recipes you make each year? My family tradition is my red cabbage which is liked by everybody, so I will be making it again this year. Click here for the recipe.
Years ago, when I was a vegetarian, I would cook everything but the turkey. The centerpiece would be my stuffing served with mushroom gravy. I apologize for the poor quality of the photos, but they are all from previous Thanksgiving posts. I have been making this shiitake and chestnut stuffing as long as I can remember. Click here for the recipe.
If you are looking for a juicy small bird for Thanksgiving, check out my recipe for dry-brined turkey with silky gravy. I will be making this one for Christmas. Click here for the recipe.
For me, sauces and condiments are just as important as the bird. My cranberry ketchup is a wonderful addition for the holidays and I make it every year. Here is a link to the recipe.
For those of you who don't want to tackle a whole bird, I have a recipe for turkey parts. Here, I brine the parts overnight, which makes for juicy and tasty turkey. If you are interested, click here for the recipe.
Toasted, roasted, baked and done! I hope your Thanksgiving is lots of fun.
Oh, one thing, don't forget to give your compliments to the chef, and help with the dishes afterwards.
Wishing you all a relaxing Thanksgiving feast with good food, family and loved ones. May your home be filled with laughter and happiness.
Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Fall is in full swing and tomato season is over. Here in Santa Cruz there are still some wonderful heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market. I savor every one of them, as I know only too well that pretty soon they will all be gone. Many of my blogger friends who grow their own tomatoes have posted some great recipes for canning and preserving them one way or another.
About three weeks ago, I picked my meager cherry tomatoes in my sad-looking garden. Since I was going away I needed to do something with them. Years ago I slow roasted some regular-sized tomatoes and I remember enjoying them. Being pressed for time, I tossed them with some herbs, garlic and olive oil and roasted them in the oven. The result was a delicious tasting treat that could be used in many ways. It’s perfect on a slice of baguette, in a salad or on a sandwich. The leftover oil is wonderful by itself.
For my second try I choose some store bought cherry tomatoes . They were not as good as the first batch because I think the skin of the tomatoes was too thick.
I used my farmers market vegetables for this delicious Mediterranean fish baked in parchment paper with anchovies, green beans, olives and tomatoes. This is an old recipe that I always enjoy making and it takes little time to prepare. It is a healthy dinner any time of the week.
Cooking in parchment paper is a simple and healthy way to steam food in its own juices and it seals in all the wonderful aromas. There is little cleanup afterward and you can be creative with the vegetables and fish.
Make sure tat the tomatoes are thin skinned . Bake the tomatoes until they have wilted but only some have burst.
Romesco Sauce and Sorrel Sauce
I can never get enough of different sauces and spreads. I like them thin or thick, and I like them as leftovers used with a salad, a sandwich, or a piece of meat or fish. For me, the right sauce makes the meal. When I visited the Burgundy in France (click here to read about my trip), I had the most incredibly thick eggplant sauce next to a piece of fish with the most delicate flavor I have ever tasted. The great chef had added some African spice, and I have no idea what it was. However, I remember tasting something similar in Morocco. Well, my sauces are nothing like that. They are straightforward, easy to make, delicious and can be used in many ways.
I got the idea for the romesco sauce from my blogger friend, Mary Ann, who writes the thebeachhousekitchen blog. She made her romesco sauce as an appetizer with cruditées. I have made this recipe many times and usually eat it as a sandwich spread or with a salad. It is a healthy substitute for richer foods like mayonnaise or butter. For the salmon, I used a recipe from myrecipe.com. This recipe uses canned tomatoes instead tomato paste and cumin as a spice rather than smoked paprika. I don't purée this sauce as much as Mary Ann’s sauce, leaving it coarser for the salmon. Both sauces are delicious.
The inspiration for the sorrel sauce came from the blog, Back Road Journal, and Bon Appetit. I added more sorrel because I have an endless supply of it in my tiny wild garden. Sorrel is a tart, slightly sour herb, oxalis, another common name for this herb means "sour". I think it has a distinct lemony flavor and I find its tartness refreshing. I prefer to purée the sauce in a mixer until smooth. I love the taste of this rich and tangy sauce. It compliments a piece of salmon and other fish. I could eat it on steamed veggies or a chicken breast. It would also taste great with shrimp, chicken or salmon skewers.
Here is a link to to Mary Ann’s romesco sauce and Karen’s sorrel sauce. Both sauces can be made a day ahead. I had leftovers and ate them for several days.
Romesco Sauce & Sorrel Sauce
When I made the sorrel sauce for a large party, I didn't write down the proportions so I tried to reproduce the recipe for this blog post. I got carried away with the amount of sorrel (I added 4 cups which made the sauce quite tart), so next time, I will reduce the amount by half or less. I tasted the sauce the next morning and it had mellowed out somewhat.
My romesco sauce is a combination of Mary Ann’s blog post and my recipe.com, which was very well received by my nephew who liked its nutty flavor. I have used hazelnuts instead of almonds.
Roasting potatoes and vegetables intensifies their flavor. They compliment many meals. By using different potatoes and veggies, everybody gets to eat their favorite.
When we first started making this dish in our family, we called it "Mediterranean Potatoes.” We would roast potatoes with garlic, olive oil, and herbs—and that was it. Did you notice I used "we" instead of “I” because my husband usually makes them. After awhile, I chimed in by adding a sweet potato (because I like sweet potatoes) and before I knew it, my husband added some more garlic and onions. So, I added some parsnip because I love roasted parsnip. And that is where our roasted veggie recipe stands now. who knows what will happen to it in the future. The thing about this recipe is that you can really roast anything you like. Every family member gets to pick their favorite vegetable. After all, we live in a democracy and we need to eat our daily choice of healthy and wholesome food—and this is great way to do so. Enjoy, as we have for years.
Most of the time, I cut the veggies into bite-sized pieces, but sometimes I have cut the veggies to make them look like french fries. This takes a little bit more effort, but the kids of all ages like it. It’s a great way to get your family to eat their veggies.
I usually make enough to have plenty of leftovers to eat the following days. It's a great little snack and can be added to almost everything you eat. Add an egg and you have a meal.
This has been a family recipe for years
O Solo Fantastico
For years, our family has been eating artichokes. They grow here on the foggy Pacific coast in northern California and the farmers will sell them in the markets when they are freshly picked. For me, they have always been a delicacy.
I usually cook them, cut them in half, and clean out all the hairy stuff with a spoon. Then I drizzle my best olive oil and balsamic vinegar over them with a sprinkle of French sea salt and some freshly ground pepper. These make a healthy appetizer for a rich meal and a wonderful snack or lunch the next day. My husband likes to eat his artichoke with mayonnaise.
Bless the Italians for their wonderful food. This recipe is to die for. The Italians like to serve vegetables " al forgo," which means baked in the oven. The artichokes are stuffed with a mixture of breadcrumbs, fresh mint, nuts and olive oil and then baked in a seasoned broth. I made this recipe twice and the first time I just devoured one after I finished taking my photos. Years ago, I found this recipe in an insert of a German magazine devoted to Italian cooking.
Swiss Chard with Raisin and Pinenuts
A healthy satisfying vegan dish
This is by far my favorite way to prepare winter greens. The raisins and sugar add a touch of sweetness to the vegetables. The vinegar gives it a bite, and the nuts add a bit of crunch. I have used kale with this recipe and it works well. I'm always happy when I bring home a big bunch from the farmer's market. I prepare the greens for dinner and then have a leftover for lunch the next day. By the way, it tastes great with a fried egg on top—the perfect lunch.
This a straightforward recipe that is easy to prepare and makes a great leftover. Substitute any winter green you like for Swiss chard. Adjust the sugar and vinegar to your taste.
German Style Braised Cabbage
This is a healthy and nourishing dish
Once in while, you prepare food you usually don't eat. It's fall in northern California and the farmers’ markets sell every kind of pumpkin or squash you’ve ever dreamed of. There is a splendid variety of kale, spinach, mustard greens and Swiss chard. We still have some dry-farmed tomatoes in the market too. Although the skin is a little thicker, they are still delicious and I will miss them when they are gone. The peppers have a couple of weeks left. I discovered Padron (aka Shishito) peppers this year, small green peppers that are a bit on the hot side. I love to sauté them in olive oil, sprinkle with garlic salt and nibble on them all day long and they taste fabulous cold.
Then there are the red and green cabbages. Ron, my strawberry farmer, is selling Spitzkohl, a cone-shaped white cabbage. So, it is at that time that my German DNA takes hold of me and my childhood memories come streaming back of all the ways to eat cabbage: as soup, as a cooked vegetable, stuffed cabbage, homemade sauerkraut, not to mention my aunt’s Weißkraut mit Kümmel (white cabbage with cumin seeds). That is what I'm cooking tonight with boiled potatoes (mashed potatoes would be good too) and a pig’s knuckle I got from the rotisserie wagon at the farmer's market. Personally I love the cabbage and potatoes, but not the knuckle. Let's not get too German...sometimes I wonder whatever happened to my French cooking? I will make up for it tomorrow night, when we will dine at Absinthe in San Francisco and I will eat the best onion soup on this side of the Pacific. My husband loves pork knuckles and will eat them whenever we are in Germany. This is the first time I have served it at home. After all, he is taking me to the opera in San Francisco tomorrow to see the “Barber of Seville,” so he deserves his favorite food. I ate a little of the knuckle meat and it was good smothered in mustard. The cabbage was a little overcooked and I’m not sure about adding the sour cream. Actually, I think it is better without it. Mashed potatoes would also complement this dish. This can also be turned into a great vegan meal using tofu for the protein. You see, my Californian environment has influenced me.
Prepare this dish to your liking. I think cooking it for 15 to 20 minutes will leave some crunch in the cabbage. Adding the sour cream is a matter of taste, as I prefer it without. My aunt used to smother it in Schmand, a German version of sour cream, and she used lard instead of oil.
Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage
A healthy vegetable dish with a satisfying and rich flavor
I have prepared this dish for many years—and it is a staple winter vegetable in my house. It goes well with any kind of potato, polenta, and the flavors improve with age. It is a great side dish for the holidays and any other meal. It is also an everyday vegetable that can be eaten any time of day. Personally, I love it on a buttered slice of bread. This is the first time I have written down the recipe and it always tastes a little different. There are guidelines that I follow that come from my godmother in Germany. For the sweetener, she uses sugar, but I use my homemade jams or jellies (red currant jelly is my favorite). I add some additional spices like peppercorns, whole cloves and a bay leaf. My godmother uses goose or duck fat to sauté the onions and cabbage, which gives it a wonderfully rich flavor.
The amount of jam varies depending on it sweetness. Remove the bay leaf after the cabbage is cooked. I If you like to remove the spices after the cabbage has been cooked tie them into a cheese-clothes and remove them before you serve the cabbage. I chop the onions and the red cabbage into quarter inch pieces. My sister in law chops the cabbage very fine and her red cabbage tastes very good.
I am not a big pesto fan, but I love using it in my seafood pasta dish—and basil is abundant in the summer. I make a batch and freeze whatever is leftover.
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.