Apr 26, 2010

Playing with the dough: Brezeln or Prezel

Growing up in Baden-Württemberg the first real schwabian food most kids have is a fresh Bretzel. Most of the children on the streets sitting in the strollers have one in the hand. Car seats all over are cleaned on Saturdays from the crumbs of this delicious treat.

Don`t think that a schwabian Brezel is like a Bavarian one. We have a part that is bigger and with a cut making it possible to have a soft roll like part and a crispy part on the same Brezel.

Our Brezels are eaten in the morning or as a treat with a cup of coffee in the evening.

It`s hard for me to talk about it but  at this point in time its hard to get a good Brezel. Most of the Bakers have closed or use horrible frozen Brezeln.

They are tasteless, either bone-dry or rubbery.

So no wonder I started to bake my own.

I was inspired by this Recipe from Hefe und Mehr. But I made some changes, because that`s just what I do.

Make some yourself, or try some Rolls it`s delicious. 



yield 20 Pretzels or Rolls



100g water

100g bread flour

1g fresh yeast



500g bread flour

400g spelt flour

225g water

300g milk (I use Goat since my boys are allergic to cow)

18g fresh yeast

20g salt

25g butter

all Sponge



1 liter water

40g NaOH pellets

coarse Salt for sprinkling

Mix water, flour and yeast for the Sponge and ferment it overnight (12 to 16 hours).

The next day: Mix all ingredients for the dough and knead it for about 3 min at low speed, then 6 min on high speed.

Ferment the dough for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into pieces of 80g and form them into balls. 

Rest them for 30 more minutes.

Now roll the dough to a strand of 65 cm. The strand should be thick in the middle and really thin at the ends. Form to a pretzel and place on a well floured tray. Proof one hour at room temperature, then place the tray for 5 minutes into the freezer ( or 30 min in the fridge). This makes the dough firmer, so it easier to place the pretzel in the lye.

In the meantime prepare the lye and heat the oven to 225°C.

Dip the pretzels for 10 seconds in the lye, then take them out with a slotted spoon.

Place on a tray lined with baking parchment. Slash the thick part of the pretzel, sprinkle with coarse salt and bake it at 225°C for 15-18 Minutes.

Place on a cooling rack and Enjoy.

Challenging myself : April 2010 Daring Bakers’ Challenge Marmalade Pudding and Jam Roly Poly

The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.

I loved, loved, and loved this challenge. Since I used to make my own lard, making my own Suet was no big problem. I had a harder time getting it.

Still after having to wait 2 weeks for my Butcher to have what I so much needed it was super easy to have the first part of my suet puddings finished.

Knowing that it would hold better up to the transport I made a baked Jam Roly Poly. At first I wanted to make a steamed one but knowing my children and the love they have for crust I just knew that this was the way to go.

The Roly Poly was filled with the last strawberry jam from last year and sprinkled with brown sugar. Served with a little fresh whipped cream it was a nice dessert.

Next time I will steam the Roly Poly because I think that this will help the flavours, not the forget that the baked one was on the dry side.

Next I made the Marmalade Pudding, again using the homemade jam. This was so delicious I not even wanted to share.  Using my Grandmothers pudding form and the potato steamer for this task made it so easy and uncomplicated that I from now on will do it a lot.

There is much to explore, to taste and try. Go over to the Daring Bakers and take a look.

Or just grab the recipes here.

Apr 24, 2010

Easy, Addictive and Healthy: Alton Browns Grapefruit Brûlée

Since we are all still not feeling to well, I was just not in the mood to post. I did make great pictures of adorable and delicious food and will soon tell you about it.

But today I only have a small treat fro you.

I adore Alton and most of the time I am pretty happy with his food but this Grapefruit Brûlée with the sprinkling of Salt is so amazing I just want to eat it all the time.

It`s easy and it`s so delicious that I have had it 7 days in a row ( yes I know crazy). 

Give it a try and if you want to watch how Alton does it watch Good Eats his delicious episode called  The Ballad of Salty and Sweet.

 Grapefruit Brûlée 


2 red or pink grapefruits, chilled

2 tablespoons coarse sugar

3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt


Special Equipment: Blowtorch

Halve each grapefruit crosswise, and cut a thin slice off the bottom of each half to stabilize the pieces. Remove all seeds from the grapefruit, and loosen the segments with a paring knife.

Sprinkle each half evenly with the sugar. Using a blowtorch, melt the sugar to form a golden brown and crispy surface. Sprinkle the hot sugar with the salt, and serve immediately.




Apr 14, 2010

Challenging myself : Daring Cooks' April Challenge Chicken and Rabbit Brunswick Stew

The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club.

At first I will have to confess that I worked a little around this months recipe. We are all sick, the kids have a sore throat and hubby is on the couch with lumbago.

I myself have huge problems with a liver inflammation what means fatty food is bad. I feel so horrible that even thinking about bacon is making me sick.

I used this month challenge to make a almost fat free version of Brunswick Stew. I used no Bacon, and only chicken breast and lean rabbit meat.

It was delicious. We will make it again, healthy and full of flavour this is a Winner.

I used vegetable stock as the Base, grilled the Chicken Breast and put it aside, thee rabbit I browned in a little rapeseed oil ( this is a beautiful oil for people with liver problems ).

As you will see if you take a look at the Original recipes you can see that the sky is the limit when it comes to the choice of meat and vegetables.

Please give it a try and maybe even go and take a look at the delicious versions of the amazing Daring Cooks.

Recipe One, the Long Way-
From “The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-Be Southerners” by Matt Lee and Ted Lee

Serves about 12

1/4 lb / 113.88 grams / 4 oz slab bacon, rough diced
2 Serrano, Thai or other dried red chiles, stems trimmed, sliced, seeded, flattened
1lb / 455.52 grams / 16oz rabbit, quartered, skinned
1 4-5lb / 1822.08- 2277.6 grams / 64-80oz chicken, quartered, skinned, and most of the fat removed
1 Tablespoon / 14.235 grams / ½ oz sea salt for seasoning, plus extra to taste
2-3 quarts / 8-12 cups / 64.607-96.9oz Sunday Chicken Broth (recipe below)
2 Bay leaves
2 large celery stalks
2lbs / 911.04 grams / 32oz Yukon Gold potatoes, or other waxy type potatoes, peeled, rough diced
1 ½ cups / 344.88 grams / 12.114oz carrots (about 5 small carrots), chopped
3 ½ / 804.72 grams / 28.266oz cups onion (about 4 medium onions) chopped
2 cups / 459.84 grams / 16.152oz fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob (about 4 ears)
3 cups / 689.76 grams / 24.228oz butterbeans, preferably fresh (1 ¼ lbs) or defrosted frozen
1 35oz can / 996.45 grams / 4 cups whole, peeled tomatoes, drained
¼ cup / 57.48 grams / 2.019 oz red wine vinegar
Juice of 2 lemons
Tabasco sauce to taste

Recipe Two, The Short Way-
This version goes on the assumption that you already have cooked your meats and have broth on hand. This was also my first experience with eating Brunswick stew. It’s got more of a tomato base, has larger, chunkier vegetables, but is just as wonderful as recipe one. However, it is a lot quicker to make than the first recipe.

Brunswick Stew recipe from the Callaway, Va Ruritan Club, served yearly at the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival in Ferrum, Va.

Serves about 10

2 ½ lb TOTAL diced stewed chicken, turkey, and ham, with broth - yes, all three meats
3 medium diced potatoes
2 medium ripe crushed tomatoes
2 medium diced onions
3 cups/ 689.76 grams / 24.228oz frozen corn
1 ½ cups / 344.88 grams / 12.114oz frozen lima beans
4-5 strips crumbled bacon
½ stick / 4 tablespoons / ¼ cup / 56.94 grams / 2oz of butter
1 Tablespoon / 14.235 grams / .5 oz sugar
1 Tablespoon / 14.235 grams / .5 oz ‘Poultry Seasoning’
Dash of red pepper
2 diced carrots (optional)
Tomato juice


Recipe 1-

1-In the largest stockpot you have, which is hopefully larger than the 5 qt ones I have, preferably a 10-12 qt or even a Dutch Oven if you’re lucky enough to have one, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until it just starts to crisp. Transfer to a large bowl, and set aside. Reserve most of the bacon fat in your pan, and with the pan on the burner, add in the chiles. Toast the chiles until they just start to smell good, or make your nose tingle, about a minute tops. Remove to bowl with the bacon.

2- Season liberally both sides of the rabbit and chicken pieces with sea salt and pepper. Place the rabbit pieces in the pot and sear off all sides possible. You just want to brown them, not cook them completely. Remove to bowl with bacon and chiles, add more bacon fat if needed, or olive oil, or other oil of your choice, then add in chicken pieces, again, browning all sides nicely. Remember not to crowd your pieces, especially if you have a narrow bottomed pot. Put the chicken in the bowl with the bacon, chiles and rabbit. Set it aside.

3- Add 2 cups of your chicken broth or stock, if you prefer, to the pan and basically deglaze the4 pan, making sure to get all the goodness cooked onto the bottom. The stock will become a nice rich dark color and start smelling good. Bring it up to a boil and let it boil away until reduced by at least half. Add your remaining stock, the bay leaves, celery, potatoes, chicken, rabbit, bacon, chiles and any liquid that may have gathered at the bottom of the bowl they were resting in. Bring the pot back up to a low boil/high simmer, over medium/high heat. Reduce heat to low and cover, remember to stir every 15 minutes, give or take, to thoroughly meld the flavors. Simmer, on low, for approximately 1 ½ hours. Supposedly, the stock may become a yellow tinge with pieces of chicken or rabbit floating up, the celery will be very limp, as will the chiles. Taste the stock, according to the recipe, it “should taste like the best chicken soup you’ve ever had”.

4- With a pair of tongs, remove the chicken and rabbit pieces to a colander over the bowl you used earlier. Be careful, as by this time, the meats will be very tender and may start falling apart. Remove the bay leaf, celery, chiles, bacon and discard.5 After you’ve allowed the meat to cool enough to handle, carefully remove all the meat from the bones, shredding it as you go. Return the meat to the pot, throwing away the bones. Add in your carrots, and stir gently, allowing it to come back to a slow simmer. Simmer gently, uncovered, for at least 25 minutes, or until the carrots have started to soften.

5- Add in your onion, butterbeans, corn and tomatoes. As you add the tomatoes, crush them up, be careful not to pull a me, and squirt juice straight up into the air, requiring cleaning of the entire stove. Simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring every so often until the stew has reduced slightly, and onions, corn and butterbeans are tender. Remove from heat and add in vinegar, lemon juice, stir to blend in well. Season to taste with sea salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce if desired.

6 You can either serve immediately or refrigerate for 24 hours, which makes the flavors meld more and makes the overall stew even better. Serve hot, either on its own, or with a side of corn bread, over steamed white rice, with any braised greens as a side.


In large stock pot or Dutch Oven, mix all ingredients, heat until bubbly and hot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add tomato juice as desired. Cook until all vegetables are tender. Serve hot.

Optional- Not required for the Challenge-

Sunday Chicken Broth

From “The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-Be Southerners” by Matt Lee and Ted Lee

Makes about 1 quart (4 cups or 919.68 grams or 32.303 oz)
Estimated Time- 1 ¼ hours

Bones and trimmings, but not giblets, of one 3 ½- 4 ½ lb (1594.32-2049.84 grams or 56-72 oz) chicken, or 12-14 oz / 341.64-398.58 grams / approx. 2 cups chicken bones and trimmings
1 large onion, trimmed, peeled, quartered
6 large stems fresh flat leaf parsley
1 stalk celery, cut into 2” lengths
2 large bay leaves
5 cups / 1149.6 grams / 40.379 oz cold water
1 cup / 229.92 grams / 8.076oz crisp dry white wine
Salt and pepper to taste

Place bones/trimmings in medium stockpot and add onion, parsley, celery and bay leaves. Add wine and water, liquid should cover all ingredients, if not, add more until it does. Bring to vigorous simmer over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer gently for roughly 45 minutes to an hour, skimming any scum or fat that comes to the surface.

Strain broth into bowl through fine mesh strainer. Discard the solids. Measure what you are left with, if not planning to further reduce, then salt and pepper to taste.

Store in tightly sealed container in refrigerator until the remaining fat congeals on the top. Remove the fat, and unless not using within 2 days, keep tightly sealed in the refrigerator. Otherwise, freeze, and it will keep for upwards of a month.