Oct 27, 2009

Challenging myself: Daring Bakers' Challenge Macaroons

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macaroons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe. 

If I would tell you that I had fun with this Challenge I would lie. This Month’s task fast became a traumatic experience for me. One more time I have to confess I don’t like them. Not that they would taste bad it’s just not something we would eat.
So I from the start had to work a little harder to come into the mood.

To bad that the mood and I were not able to make some decent Macaroons.
Yes I failed. A lot. I tried it 9 times, that means a lot of wasted eggs, to be honest 48 eggs. 
This clearly shows that there is something wrong with me. No I am not talking about me being unable to make some little Macaroons. I talk about my obsession to get it right. 
On the pictures you can see different stages of different batches. Please be kind with me.

48 little harmless free range eggs later we have a little batch of Black Forest Macaroon. 
Some of you might know I am a Swabian and proud of it. I bake 6-8 Black Forest Cakes each year. The original one, with Cherries from the garden, Black Forest kirsch from the Black Forest ( I only have to drive half an hour to get there). This is the reason I had the idea to come up with Black Forest Macaroons. The Cake part of the Torte is made with Eggs, Cacao and Almonds, just like my Macaroons. Instead of the fresh cream, I used an cooked sugar buttercream that had cherries in it. And let me tell you this Cherries have a little kick to them. I soaked them half an hour in Kirsch.

They look not nearly as nice as the things my fellow daring Bakers came up with, you should take a look at the smooth and delicious looking Macaroons they baked. 
So go take a look and bake some yourself I wish you luck.

Claudia Fleming’s Macaroons

Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)


1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling. 

Yield: 10 dozen. 

Oct 26, 2009

Trying something new: King Arthur’s Almost-No-Knead Baguette

I love to bake Bread, each Day I make a new Batch of dough. I adore the smell and feel of fresh yeast, the tangy smell of the sourdough starter. I like the silky feeling of the plum dough after it has risen just before you use your hands to give it shape. 
I know that a lot of people will never understand why I can cry over a starter that has died or a bread that taste like cardboard because I again forgot to add salt.
All I know is that I need this time in the kitchen kneading my dough like I need the bread to feed my family.
This was the first time I tried to bake a Baguette. And since I wanted to at least have a chance to bake something that while maybe not become a Baguette would at least taste good I took a chance on this little Almost No Knead Baguette from Kind Arthur’s. 

It is so easy and tastes divine. My mother in lay always takes some dough home to bake it for herself.

I also use the dough for Pizza if I have some left. I made little Baguette Rolls the other day and some Bread sticks. I love to play with it. 

Try it and tell me what you came up with.

See you next time.

King Arthur’s Almost-No-Knead Baguette

3 cups lukewarm water ( I use 3 ½ cups )
8 cups All-Purpose Flour 
1 tablespoon table salt or 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast (I use 20g fresh yeast)

1) Find a large (6-quart) bowl or bucket, for dough storage in the fridge. Lightly grease the bowl or bucket. 

2) Place the water directly into the bowl or or other large container. 

3) Add the dry ingredients to the water, and stir to combine. Mix until there are no dry spots; the texture of the dough should be fairly soft. 

4) Knead the dough gently for a few minutes, by hand; it'll be very sticky. Or knead for 1 or 2 minutes in a stand mixer. Cover the container, and let the dough rest at room temperature for 2 hours. 

5) Refrigerate overnight, or for up to 7 days. 

6) To bake bread: Scoop out a scant 1 pound of dough (about ¼ of the batch, about 14 ½ ounces). Place on a greased work surface. 

7) Shape the dough into a rough, slightly flattened oval, cover with greased plastic wrap, and let rest for 15 minutes. 

8) Fold the dough in half lengthwise, and seal the edges with the heel of your hand. Flatten slightly, and fold lengthwise and seal again. 

9) With the seam side down, cup your fingers and gently roll the of dough into a 15" log. 

10) Place the log seam-side down onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, or into the well of a baguette pan. 

11) Cover and allow the baguette to rise till it's very puffy, about 1 1/2 hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 450°F. 

12) Slash the baguette three or four times on the diagonal. 

13) Spritz the baguette heavily with warm water, and bake until a very deep golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. 

Yield: 1 large baguette.

Oct 15, 2009

Granny love: Semmelknödel - Bread Dumplings

My best Friend growing up was my paternal Grandmother. She cave me everything that I needed and could not get at home. She was listening, loving, interested. She was my world. If at home there was fighting, beating and terror. She gave me peace, fun and time. The weekends at my grandmothers were heaven on earth.

Later as my Mother moved out and away, my Father kicked me out. She gave me money, food and a place to wash my clothes. She was always there for me and I hope I was there for her.
I would do almost anything to have a chance to see her again, to tell her that I miss her and her cooking. 
But that is not possible and so I cook from time to time a little something, she would have cooked.  
And when I see my little boys eating it, loving it, I know she knows I think about her.

Semmelknödel - Bread Dumplings


500g stale bread, (you can use Bread Rolls or Baguette, even Bagels it’s up to you)
4 Eggs 
400ml warmed Milk
1 – 2 teaspoons Salt ( if the bread has a good amount of salt you will need just 1 teaspoon)
250g Flour
1 small Onion, fine diced 
½ cup chopped Parsley 
½ teaspoon Butter
Salt for the Water

Optional: a little Nutmeg, cubed bacon, diced Spinach

Cut the bread into small cubes. The smaller the better. 
Take the Onion and the chopped Parsley and nuke them in the microwave for 1 Minute with the Butter to soften them. Let them cool.

Take the remaining Ingredients and mix them into a batter. Now you add the bread and the Onion/Parsley Mix. 
The Dough goes now into the Refrigerator to rest for at least 45 minutes.
If the dough is to soft add some more flour, but please don’t forget that the bread will soak up the fluid and the dough will become firmer. The more Flour you add, the firmer the texture will get. 
You will need a big pot with salt water, now is the time to put it onto the stove. 
After the resting period you can take a teaspoon of the mixture put it into the Microwave, to cook the egg. So you can taste and adjust the seasoning without having to eat raw egg.
This is the fast way. Another way to cook it would be to make a small test dumpling cook it up and then taste it. If you do it this way you can be sure that your dumplings will not fall apart while cooking. 
If you are happy with the seasoning shape the Knöddel (Dumplings). You can make any size you like. Small dumplings for soup, bigger ones as side dish or big ones that will be a meal with a nice sauce.

Put them into the cooking water, lower the temperature and let them cook.
The smaller the dumpling the faster they are finished. 

I hope you try this recipe and if I would love to hear from you.
See you in the next session.

Oct 10, 2009

Romancing in the Kitchen: Ten years Good Eats or how to Brine Turkey Alton Style

It was 6 years ago. I saw the best and craziest cooking show and I fell in love. Good Eats is not just a cooking show it’s Entertainment, with a pinch of History and a Tablespoon of Science. Host Alton Brown is a man that learned early that if you want really good food, you have to make it yourself.

In this show you learn and you laugh what better cooking show can there be?

There are episodes I love and some I adore. I love it when he bakes with his Grandmother "Ma" Mae Skelton ( The Dough Also Rises) because I myself had a special relationship with my Oma. All the episodes with Brown's nephew and his sister are worth watching a few times.
Not to forget his bad twin B.A.

Alton was the one that told me about brining. He showed me what Americans do to make turkey delicious. And today I tried it myself.

I learned from my grandmother how to make turkey. With a lot of bacon and chestnuts. Good Eats but maybe  a little Alton Science can make it even better.

So let’s take a look at the little Bird and if you want to know more about the Show or Alton you just have to take a look at the Good Eats Fan Page or Foodnetwork.com.

So lets congratulate Alton and his Crew and Romance The Bird!

Good Eats Roast Turkey


1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey

For the brine:

1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
1 gallon heavily iced water

For t
he aromatics:

1 red apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced ( I used 1 Onion)
1 cinnamon stick ( I left that out) 
1 cup water (I had good fresh apples and so I don’t used the Water)
4 sprigs rosemary
( only 2 for us )
6 leaves sage ( I am allgergic to the stuff so no sage for this little Bird)
Canola oil ( Olive oil was just fine )

2 to 3 days before roasting:

Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.

Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.

Early on the day or the night before you'd like to eat:

Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed ( I used a Brig packed into a Ziploc bag), cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine. 

Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels. 

Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil. 

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes.

In this Episode Alton tells us to make a little foil breast armour and that’s what I did as you can see on this Picture. It was formed before the Turkey came into the oven and I put it after the first 30 minutes onto the Breast.

Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.

I served the Bird with Semmelknödel (bread dumpling) I will post the recipe soon.

This Turkey was divine. Believe me I am not just saying this so you think Alton is the Genius I think he is. I will from this point on brine the birds.

If you not already doing it, try and tell me about it.
Have a great time and a little good eats.


Oct 8, 2009

Get comfort from home: German Pancake soup or Flädlesuppe

I am a schwabe, do you know what a schwabe is? Swabia consists of much of the present-day state of Baden-Württemberg Germany, but the people that live in the western region of Baden are not schwaben, they are Badener.

Already confused?
It’s pretty easy just think about Porsche, Mercedes, Black Forest cake, Black Forest ham or kirsch and not to forget spaetzle.
We are often called thrifty, because a good schwab does never put good food in the garbage. 
This is reflected in out cooking. We use easy and relatively cheap ingredients and work our magic. 

Give us Eggs, water a little salt and we go crazy.

In the next few weeks I will try to give you a little glimpse into the schwaben kitchen.
Today there will be a soup that is so important that no weeding in our family would happen without it.

First you will need to make a good Fleischbrühe ( Meat Broth ), we use Beef for this but if you want to use a chicken or veal that is fine too. You can even use a broth from the store that is fine, if I cook this in the middle of the week for a fast dinner I do too. 

The broth will take a little time but it will be worth it. you can cook some more and freeze it. it will refrigerate for 2 Days without a problem and if you freeze it you can hold onto it for up to 3 months.

Fleischbrühe (meat broth)


1kg meaty beef soup bones
3 ½ L water
8 whole black peppercorns
1 Bay leaf
2 Cloves
2 tablespoons Salt
2 Leek; trimmed, cut in chunks
5 carrots, cut in chunks
2 turnips or Parsley roots, cut in chunks
2 stalks celery, cut in half
1 onion cut in half ( don’t peel it )

place a small pan onto the stove and lay the onion cut side down into the dry pan. Put the heat on and roast the onion until the bottom is black. Don’t panic it will smell a little but this will give the broth a deeper flavour and colour without you having to roast all the bones and veggies. Let the onion cool enough to be touch. Now lay the bay leave over one side of the onion and pin it onto the skin using the cloves as thumbtacks. This way you will not have to search for them.
Wash and clean not to forget cut everything and put it into a big and I mean big pot. Cover with the water, bring to a boil and skim foam from surface until clear.
Now the hardest part is done. Reduce heat and let everything simmer for at least 2 hours better 3.
Strain broth, discarding meat scraps, bones and cooked vegetables. season to taste with salt and pepper.
Now you can let it cool and refrigerate to be able to take of the fat. 
I don’t do it. If you feel it’s too much fat just skim it off like you did with the foam.

Now it’s time to learn how to make Fladle. If you can make crepe you can make Flädle.



400 g flour 
4 eggs
1/4 l milk 
1/4 l cold water
½ teaspoon salt
Fat for frying

Chives for sprinkling

Mix the flour and milk and water, then add the eggs and salt. The batter should be a little dicker than a crepe batter.

Put a little fat into the pan and heat it up. As soon as the fat is hot, hold the skillet at a slight angle and pour on ladle of batter into is. Now you have to be fast, you have to roll the batter around in the pan to cover the whole bottom with a thin layer.

As soon as the bottom of the pancake is done and starts to get colour loosen the edges and flip. Put it onto a plate and bake the next one. At the end you will have a lovely little pancake tower.

Take 2 or 3 Pancakes and roll them up and cut them into small stripes.

Now you have Flädle.

Bring the broth to a boil. Add Flädle into a deep plate or bowl now sprinkle with some chives and ad a ladle of broth.

Please don’t add the Flädle to soon into the broth they will become soggy and all your work will be for nothing.

Tip: We always keep a few pancakes and fill them with Nutella or Jam for dessert.

Kids love it. you can even make it ahead, since it all gets heated with the broth.

Give it a try and let me know if you liked it. I hope we see us in the next session.