Fröhliche Weihnachten and best wishes for the coming year!
I was looking through my Christmas baking folder for some inspiration (which I need desperately these days) and came upon a recipe from a 2002 Gourmet magazine issue. I had written “excellent” on the recipe. Last year, I made a a similar cookie recipe from Luisa Weiss’s Classic German Baking called Baseler Brunsli (click here for the recipeBaseler Brunsli). Both these cookies belong to the family of Lebkuchen. You can find many different recipes for Lebkuchen throughout the German-speaking countries. Lebkuchen is a blanket term for German gingerbread, and this particular recipe is a smoother and more cake-like version, with a hint of chocolate, hazelnut and almond too. I love them because they are not overly sweet, but my American family is not a big fan of this tasty treat. They will go for the sweeter shortbread, sugary kind of cookie. That’s why I bake a variety of different cookies, put them in my tins and have one I like in the afternoon with my tea.
I baked these cookies because they remind me of the German Elisenlebkuchen, a treat from the German town of Nürnberg. Traditionally, they are baked on wafers and covered with either chocolate or a powdered sugar icing. I didn’t add the wafers and the icing, which makes them less sweet and easier to bake. I also liked the combination of ground hazelnuts and almonds. Instead of chocolate, this recipe uses unsweetened cocoa powder. Like all Lebkuchen recipes, these cookies improve after being stored in a tin for a few days or weeks. They are soft and chewy, and should not be stored with other cookies.
This year will be a special Christmas because my niece and her husband are visiting from Germany. It doesn’t happen very often that I get to celebrate with my German family and it is always very special to me when they come to my home in California. So, I am baking and decorating as much as I can. Check out my post from 2016 with most of my family’s favorite cookie recipes. (click here)
If you feel like a savory treat for the holidays, try my country pâté. It’s a great party pleaser.(click here )
My dear readers, I wish you all a peaceful holiday filled with good food and surrounded by people you love. May the stars shine upon you and may your home be filled with warmth and good cheer.
Fröhliche Weihnachten and best wishes for the coming year!
Fall has arrived and I have been happily cooking away in my kitchen with my new-found treasure Zwetchgen, a small unassuming purple plum that is called Italian plum in this country. In their natural state these plums have very little flavor and taste bland—but once baked, they transform into a treat , perfumed, tart, and sweet. I made several batches of my plum butter and I am thrilled to have them in my pantry (garage). The flavor is amazing, rich and earthy. But I also made several cakes.
Every September, from 1983-1989 the New York Times printed Marian Burros’ recipe for plum torte. Here is a link to the recipe (and I love reading all the comments). I have made this cake twice now, and have adjusted the recipe to my taste. I also baked a tart with a custard that my Swiss friend made for me in Switzerland. It was delicious and I hope to post it one of these days. My French girlfriend made a tarte aux quetsches, unfortunately I didn't get to taste it. Zwetschgenkuchen in Germany is usually baked with a lot of plums and a yeast-based sheet cake. Marian Burros’ Plum Torte recipe is a no-fuss, easy-to-make dessert. It is similar to other cake recipes with fruit that I have made many times. My tasters approved, but my fussy husband thought it was a little dry.
I also like using plums for my galette. Click for the recipe here.
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
Those of you who follow my blog know I love apricots. I love to bake with them, make dumplings with them, and my apricot jam is an all-time favorite among my friends and family. The year is 2018 and it has been apricot season for several weeks here in northern California. My friend at the farmer’s market sold me some delicious apricots. But not a whole crate like I used to get from a fruit stand in the Central Valley of California. But it was enough to have a week of apricot bliss.
My goal is to add a new apricot recipe to my blog every year. Originally, I had planed to make an Italian roasted apricot ice cream recipe I saw in a magazine called La Cucina Italiana. Unfortunately, I can't find the recipe. This is one of the reasons I have my blog, so that I always have access to my favorite recipes. I think of it as my own personal cookbook. I do like the apricot sorbet I am posting now. It’s easy to make and captures the flavor of apricots in a delicious way. Like most of my desserts, it is not too sweet, but the fruity tart flavor is a great substitute for the lack of sweetness. The apricots are roasted whole and the extra dried apricots contribute more flavor and sweetness.
Every year, I make apricot jam. It is a recipe from Alice Waters' beautiful book Chez Panisse Fruit. I tweaked the recipe for the jam, which I use when I bake, over ice cream, and perhaps a spoonful all by itself.
It is absolutely divine, click here for the recipe
With my surplus apricots, I made a delicious galette using my blueberry galette recipe. It uses almonds in the dough and for the bottom of the crust. This is an easy recipe that can be made with different fruits such as plums, peaches and more.
I happened to have some olalliebeeries that I added to my apricots.
Click here for the recipe.
My German apricot cake (Aprikosenkuchen} has always been well-liked and will be a real treat with the roasted apricot sorbet. The added marzipan in the cake really does the trick.
This is apricot bliss!
Click here for the recipe.
The apricot dumplings are my personal favorite because I happen to love dumplings. They are called Mariellenknödel in Austria and are considered a delicacy.
It is not just a dessert, it is a whole meal.
Click for the recipe here.
If you are looking for a light but very tasty meal, this apricot, shrimp and jicama salad is for you.
Click for the recipe here.
I made my apricot cobbler twice because it is my husband’s favorite.
Click here for the recipe.
When I was in Germany I came across these interesting recipes that I would like to share with you. It’s a yogurt cream that you can also turn into a mousse by adding gelatin. As soon as I was back in my kitchen at home I started to experiment with these recipes and I am happy to say that I am now ready to post them. You can adjust this recipe to your taste by adding more sugar or lemon zest. It is made in minutes, just remember it is not supposed to be sweet. Surprisingly, my husband likes both recipes and he really has a sweet tooth. One night, my other testers preferred the cream. Of course, you can just make the compote and eat it with ice cream. Whatever you choose, I hope you enjoy this treat as much as I do.
The rhubarb compote is sweetened with apple juice and some sugar. Once the rhubarb is cooked the liquid is reduced to a syrup. This is a light and delicious spring dessert.
Rhubarb is a seasonal favorite both in Europe and North America. It is technically a vegetable, but is considered a fruit. Rhubarb stalks will show up in stores and the farmer’s markets from April to June. It comes in in different colors; the ones you find in a store are usually red, but it can also be pale green. It will taste the same despite the different colors. Rhubarb is extremely tart, and is normally cooked and often paired with strawberries or other fruit. Children in Scandinavia will dip the stalk in sugar and eat it raw. The leaves of rhubarb are poisonous, so don't eat them.
Here are some more rhubarb recipes from my previous posts click on the images for the recipes
This Rhubarb Strawberry Hazelnut Crisp is easy to make and I love it, especially with ice cream.
And last but not least let's not forget Robert's delicious Rhubarb-Strawberry Pie
I hope all of you are well my friends and get to sit around the dinner table for a meal to share wherever you are.
There is nothing fancy about this peasant version of an apple or cherry cake, but you will enjoy every bite of it and not feel guilty. The apples are not thoroughly baked and the cake tastes like pound cake, although I am trying to make it more moist by playing with the recipe. You can enjoy it for breakfast or any time of the day. It is perfect for beginning bakers. If you don’t want to use apples, use cherries. Pitted Morello cherries in a jar can be substituted for apples. I tried frozen cherries but I didn't like them as much as the Morello cherries from Trader Joe's.
This apple or cherry cake is not overly sweet with only ½ cup of sugar but is full of fruit and flavor. I have baked this cake many times and have never gotten tired of it. The recipe is from an old Dr. Oetker cookbook that I brought with me when I came to this country in the seventies. The Dr.Oetker brand is a 100-year-old family-owned business where you can find products like vanilla sugar, puddings or baking powder here in the United States.
My very first cookbooks were three Dr. Oetker cookbooks. For my 16th birthday, my girlfriend Gabrielle, my mom and I made a cold buffet from the title picture of one of the books. I had promised my dad some leftovers, but there was nothing left at the end of the party. To this day, I wish I had put some food away for my sweet, hard-working dad, who will always be the love of my life. He was a gentle and loving man who was born into a horrible time in German history. He loved visiting me here in California and would have stayed longer if my mother hadn’t been homesick for her village.
If you want a richer and pie like German apple cake try my Apple Strudel Cake
This stunning dessert will dazzle your guests after a heavy winter meal—or any meal. Whole pears are poached in tawny port and cranberry juice with dried cranberries, fresh ginger, a cinnamon stick, allspice, and pink peppercorns to add flavor. The syrup alone is delicious over ice cream or just by itself. I enjoy desserts like this because they are refreshing, light, and make a great presentation.
My memory of pears will be forever linked to my parents' huge pear tree in the chicken yard at our family farm in Germany. I don't know what variety they are, but it was my job as a child to collect them when they fell from the tree and feed them to the pigs. They were stone hard and had no flavor or taste. After picking, we put them on a rack in the fruit cellar and by Christmas, the skin was all shriveled up. But when my grandfather peeled them and handed them to us, we tasted the juiciest most delicious fruit. They had ripened in the cellar. Nobody would buy them today because of their appearance, but the taste was unbelievable.
I used Bosc pears for this recipe, because they have an elegant neck and a nice stem. This is another old recipe from my beloved Gourmet magazine. I have made it many times over the years, and it always has been a hit. It’s delicious with whipped cream or ice cream.
I should have posted this recipe a while ago, but my brother and his wife are visiting from Germany and I am happy being a hostess. They are enjoying the sunny California weather and the beautiful Pacific coastline. I often forget that I live in such a beautiful place. I am taking them to different beaches for walks and ocean views. Their favorite place is the beach at sunset. Having my family around me makes me happy.
Here are two other pear desserts I love to make. One is a humble but delicious bundt cake and the other is a pear tart with an exquisite flavor and taste.
Read about my four-day trip to New York City on my Wanderlust blog. This trip was a spur-of-the-moment decision and I am so happy I went.
I thought it would be nice to combine these two posts together. Ruth Reichl is the cook behind my turnover recipe. I have admired her recipes and books for many years, as I still treasure my old Gourmet magazines for which she was the editor-in-chief. But she also lived in California in her twenties and thirties.
She wrote a touching story about leaving New York on the Fourth of July for her first experience teaching cooking in the Pacific Northwest for the June issue of Sunset magazine. Even though I never made turnovers before, I was smitten by the story and had to try them.
I didn't change anything in the recipe, and enjoyed every bite reminiscing about the years back when we were all young. The photo of Ruth Reichl and her husband in the magazine capture the spirit of the times.
There is nothing better than a ripe apricot—picked fresh from the tree and eaten right away. Dripping with juice, tasting intensely sweet with a tinge of acidity, eating an apricot is a truly sensual experience..
However, most of us will not experience this because today’s apricots are picked firm and then brought to the market. Most varieties grown today have little flavor, are usually pale, odorless and tart. If you want the old-fashioned apricots, look for Blenheims. This apricot got its name from the Duke of Marlborough’s garden at Blenheim Palace in England. Apricots were probably cultivated in China thousands of years ago. The Spaniards brought apricots to the New World and planted them in the mission gardens of California. If you are lucky, you can find Blenheims in the costal valleys of California
This year, I bought a crate (28 pounds) of apricots from one of the road stands in the central valley here in California. They were not Blenheims, but had been picked riper than the commercial kind. I don't know what kind of apricot I bought. They were okay, but I had bought a crate of apricots at the same farm stand the previous year and they were better. I put the apricots in a single layer in my cool downstairs bedroom and immersed myself into cooking them. Most of them became apricot jam. The jam turned out fabulously this year—smooth and velvety with a little crunch from the apricot kernels and texture from the skin. It was just the way we like it—sweet and tart at the same time. I would not omit the pits, as they really add a lot of flavor. For this years recipe, I used 10 pounds of apricots, 6 pounds of organic sugar, 16 cracked and roasted pits and 6 TBS of lemon juice. I was thinking about adding a vanilla bean or a cinnamon stick (or maybe some ginger), but in the end I did no such thing. I like my jam without any other flavors. The fruit itself is enough.
My husband likes my cobbler, and I baked two while I still had apricots. I like my cobbler because I use very little sugar, but it tastes delicious. I made the same cobbler for the 4th of July using peaches, blackberries and a few leftover blueberries.
I am very found of my German apricot cake with marzipan. It’s easy to make and a real treat for an afternoon tea. Or great for a picnic on a warm summer day.
My all-time favorite treat during apricot season are apricot dumplings. In Austria, they are considered a meal unto themselves. To make these, you need quark, a German soft cheese. Whole Foods and Shopper's Corner in Santa Cruz now carries quark.
While looking through back issues of my beloved Gourmet magazine from the month of June, I found a shrimp, jicama and apricot salad recipe. My husband loved this salad because it is crunchy, fresh and light. For me, the salad was a little bland, yet it was refreshing and elegant in its presentation. It is a perfect salad if you are counting your calories. I can imagine a salad like this being served decades ago in a fancy private club or hotel. Even though this is not my favorite salad, I decided to post it anyway.
This is a German strawberry cake that is easy to make and brings out the fruity flavor of strawberries.
On my last trip to Germany I was invited to a birthday celebration of my mother's friend and neighbor, Helga. Our families have been friends as long as I can remember. As a child I used to visit them all the time, sitting in their kitchen and watching the women prepare food. I felt like part of their family. It was a peaceful household where I would go when when I wanted to be somewhere else. Helga was a good friend to my mother and visited her regularly and brought her food. My mom would always tell me on the phone that Helga had brought her some herring salad (one of my mom’s favorites), soup or whatever she’d cooked that day. I am so grateful for the kindness and caring she gave my mother. Helga’s husband, Willie, was my father’s friend and both of them farmed together. My father, a gentle and kind soul, mentored young Willie, who always liked to tease young girls like me. On warm summer nights, with the windows open, he and his friend would lull me to sleep by playing their violins, which made up for the teasing during the day.
Let’s get back to the birthday party and the afternoon coffee and cake. In rural Germany a birthday party usually starts around four in the afternoon with Kaffee and Kuchen (coffee and cake). Later in the evening, a hot meal is served. Sometimes, a savory hot meal is served for lunch and then followed by coffee and cake. For Helga’s birthday, all her friends had baked a fancy cake for her occasion. Of course I had to sample each of them and they were all delicious. I managed to get some of the recipes and hope to post them in the future when I have more time—and strawberries are not in season.
For this post, I chose a common German cake that can be bought in almost any German supermarket, already baked (like a piecrust in this country). I don't care much for the commercial variety, preferring to bake my own. These cakes are called Tortenboden or Obstkuchenboden (try to pronounce that!) which translated means “the bottom for a cake” like you would use for a strawberry shortcake. This cake has fluted edges and the bottom is indented to create an edge. I used a Chef Tell dessert pan by Nordic Ware. I often use it to make flan. Any cake pan will do, and it will taste just as good. Once you bake this shortcake, you can be creative and use any fresh fruit you want. I remember way back when my aunt made it with kiwis and it was delicious. In my recipe I decided to use vanilla pudding for the bottom. Creme anglaise would be fantastic but I wanted to keep it simple and easy to make. Personally, I think it is just as good with a layer of strawberry jam. My husband preferred the one with the custard. In Germany, the cake is covered with a glaze that you can buy. Here in the US, you can buy Dr. Oetker’s glaze for fresh fruit tarts at Cost Plus or Walmart. It comes in small individual packages. I made my own glaze by using some sweetened strawberry/rhubarb juice that I cooked and thickened with pectin. Even though the glaze is traditionally used, I think you can do without it. What makes this cake even tastier is a dollop of Schlag (whipped cream). I sprinkled a handful of slivered almonds over my cake and added some blueberries for color.
My German visitors enjoyed my baked shrimp with quinoa and peas. Its a great dish for warmer days.
Strawberries are in season right now. Here are some recipes from my blog. Click on the photo to see the recipe.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. It means a lot to me and I would love to hear from you .
Comments in English and German are welcome!
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