Adventures in Cookiebaking  

Posted by: anna* in , , , ,

Today the weather is awful. It´s raining, but not like real rain, more like an annoying drizzle that you can not escape. The perfect time to update, right? 
So, what has happened since the last post? Mmmh... not much, really. I did a whole lot of nothing because I deserved it. I read books, plotted with friends to write books and ignored my still uncertain future. I went to Amsterdam for a single day of sightseeing (and grocery shopping: Rundvlees Kroketten and Kokosbrood) with Jens. That was fun! I met friends (that night out with Ann & Conny...priceless fun, girls!), applications for two masters programmes are running, waiting for replies, and of course I cooked.  And I´m still waiting for the pears in my backyard to get ready for pie.
Apart from that... Sorry I´m boring. 
But today I bring you my cookie recipe that I got a long long time ago from a (then) friend. Thank you, Romney! 
And also I bring you the fun I had with it today. I kinda felt like baking today and decided to do this recipe. I haven´t made those cookies in at least 5 years if not longer but I remember them being yummy and chewy and overall perfectly American Cookie cookies.  I strikes me as still a bit early for german cookies (kekse) since those are pretty christmas-sy and also a lot of work. Even though the supermarkets tell me it´s never too early for christmas with them selling christstollen and stuff already. 
Anyhow. So I made cookies.


1 Cup Sugar
1/2 brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp Baking Soda
a pinch of Salt
1 Cup Butter
Vanilla Sugar
3 Cups Flour
2 Tbs warm Water
Chocolate Chips

How to: 

Mix the sugar and the eggs together. I actually don´t really like brown sugar so if I don´t happen to have any at home, well... then not. White sugar will do. 
Add the baking soda and the salt, then vanilla sugar (i use one of those little baggies it comes in here...) and the butter. 
Butter should almost always be room temperature when you´re baking. At least make sure it´s not ice cold and super hard. Yes, it will melt in the oven eventually but you might feel less frustrated if you have an evenly mixed dough to begin with. 
Then stir in the flour and two tablespoons of water. The dough will now act like an ass and rather cuddle with the mixer than become a good dough... 
Once you have an evenly mixed dough, add chocolate chips. 
I used Twinkelz Hagelslag that my mom got us from the Netherlands. Just because I like it. Also I couldn´t decide whether I wanted white or dark chocolate. Here we have both. Yay.
Here´s your cookie dough then. You decide now whether you eat it right now, as it is, or if you  proceed to actually make cookies, baked and all. 
I decided to be strong and make cookies. Take a little spoon and drop little dough mountains on the bakingsheet. Make them as big as you like, just keep in mind, that they will spread out. So don´t put them too close together. Unless you really want one giant cookie of course. 
Now comes the adventure part. My instructions say: Bake for 10 mins at 190°C. 
Ok. Sounds easy enough. But not with my psycho bitch oven.
First batch: still half raw after 10 minutes. Tastes good, does not make a great gift. 
Second batch: I decided to let them in a bit longer. say... 3 Minutes longer. Burned. Doesn´t look that bad? Ha, not on the reverse side! I wonder if duckies in ponds are allowed to eat burned cookies...?
Third batch: I decide to let them in for ten minutes then check on them every ten seconds to prevent them burning. After ten minutes they´re perfect. 
WTF, oven? 
4th&5th batch: No surprises
6th batch: I forget to turn on the kitchen timer and wonder how long ten minutes can be. Saving the cookies just before they turn black. 
So, whatever. If you have a nice, non-psychotic oven unlike mine and unlike me are able to properly use a timer, 10 minutes per batch should do the trick. 
I wonder if there will still be some left tomorrow to take to work for buying my colleagues love and bribing my boss into giving me more hours... 

This is easy, tasty and, in a normal kitchen, fun to make. Try it! And live to tell. 

Thanks for reading. 

Ginger Duck/Chicken  

Posted by: anna* in , , , , , , ,

It is too hot. And yes, I get to complain because I always liked spring better and never, ever asked: "Where is summer? When is it getting really warm?" I did not wait for you, summer! I don´t look good in shorts!>_<

Luckily I finished my Bachelor Thesis and handed it in before it got so warm. I would have never managed to write anything at 30°C+... I am still awaiting my final grade but I feel like an expert on Japanese Food now. I could have written my PhD thesis about the food alone. If you´re wondering: I wrote about the function of food in japanese television series (dorama).
Right now I´m enjoying life, awaiting my grade and answers concerning my masters applications... I also had two lovely japanese girls from Tokyo over last week and I´m looking forward to spending more time with them in the next two months. Erisa, I missed you!<3
How is everyone else doing?

Short update on the pear tree in our backyard: Pears!!
I might be able to make a nice pear tart a few weeks from now.

Now for food: There is this shop called Kochhaus in Hamburg and in Berlin where they sell ... well, meals actually. Just not cooked yet. You go in, choose from what they offer that week and then get a bag full of groceries, exactly the kind and amount you need to cook whatever you chose, along with a pictured sheet that tells you how to do it.
This is a pretty nice way to cook stuff you´ve never tried before without having to buy everything needed in the big boxes and packages it comes in at the supermarket. Or a nice way to impress someone with a high class meal even though you can´t cook. Or a nice way to bring everything you need over to cook at someone else`s house. Or or or. I like it, it´s not cheap but it´s good.

So what I saw and was inspired by was Ginger Duck. Even though I´m not sure why they called it Ginger Duck since I guess it´s more of a cilantro or lime duck in the end...It is very good. Unfortunately, duck is expensive so when I made it a few days ago, I decided to use chicken instead. Just as good.

Anyways. It´s good, it´s easy and here we go:

Ingredients (serves two): 

2 Chickenbreastsbreasts
Rice noodles (one small packet)

(Peanuts (if you`re not allergic, that is))
1 Lime
Dried Apricots
2 cloves of Garlic

1 red Chilli


There is so much wrong for me with this recipe in terms of allergies... And yet it´s too good to pass.

How to: 

Cut four to six dried apricots (depending on how much you like them) in super thin stripes or dice them. Anyways: Make them small. 
Mmmmh, apricots.
Chop up the cilantro real good. I love the smell (and taste) of it so that part is always pure pleasure for me.
 From this... this.
Grate the ginger. I like ginger. A lot. So I tend to use a lot. For non-ginger-obsessed people a piece about the size of an average thumb or a little less should suffice.
If you can do peanuts, you lucky bastard, then chop them too.
Same goes for the chilli and the garlic. Chop it really fine. Be sure to remove the hot hot hot seeds if you don´t like your food to burn your intestines.
Red chilli.
Put all that finely chopped and grated stuff in a bowl, add a big tablespoon of soysauce.
Wash the lime reallllyy good (and buy a chemical free one to begin with if you can), then scrap of some of it´s peel, add that to our yummy smelling bowl of good things.
Then add the juice of half of that lime, too. I squeezed it out with my hand because I didn´t want everything to be too limey.
You handsome lime, you!
Add a tablespoon of sugar.
Mix well.
Set the bowl aside and let it rest for half an hour. It will tempt you with it´s lovely smell but be strong, resist!
Makes a great Salsa for any of your Salsa-needs, I guess...
In the meantime:
Cut the chickenbreast in strips and fry them. To make it a bit more interesting, I salt-and-peppered very lightly, then let the chicken simmer in honey a bit. Goes very well with the other ingredients.
Chicken in a pan.
Put the Ricenoodles in hot water. It doesn´t matter whether you bring it to a boil, my theory is that they only need to see water to get soft.

When the ricenoodles are done, remove them from the water and put them into the pan with the chicken. Stir well and let them soak up the juice from frying. This works way better with duck because then you will have all the access fat from under the skin to soak your noodles in.
Add the bowl of goods, mix well, put on plates, eat.

Be happy.

It really is that good.
And so easy. I dare you to try it.Summer cuisine deluxe, sure to impress all your friends.

Thanks for reading.

Rhubarb, Baby!  

Posted by: anna* in , , , , , ,

It´s Rhubarb season! It doesn´t look much like spring and the weather has been crazy from bitter cold to moist and warm but I want it to be spring now. So I felt like I should make something rhubarb-y. But I have never made anything from or with rhubarb ever before. I did, however, always like a good rhubarb cake, something that suddenly strikes me as incredibly german. 
Because I felt it would be fun and to keep them busy (because two kids each isn´t enough?) I challenged two friends to make something with rhubarb as well. How are you girls doing? :D 

Here´s what I made: 


100g Rhubarb
75g Flour
50g shredded Coconut
2 Eggs
100g Sugar
40g Butter (room temperature)

Vanilla Essence if you like
Butter for the pan

This was enough for me to make a small cake, if you want a bigger one, please ajust the measurements accordingly. The original recipe I altered here used 4 times as much as I did so I guess that should make one big cake.

How to
First: Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Like I said this was my first time working with rhubarb. Google told me not to peel it when it was young and "tender", like it would be early in the season but to absolutely peel it when it was "stronger" later on. Well, you funny internet-people, I have no clue how to tell those two conditions apart if I have never seen either so I peeled the thingies anyway. Can`t hurt, right? 
The peeling proved to be fairly easy but stringy, just like peeling asparagus.
So: peel and cut Rhubarb.
Peeled and cut.
Put flour and shredded coconut in a bowl, mix well, add the cut rhubarb. 
I for my part like my coconut powdery and not stuck between my teeth so I shredded it even finer in the blender beforehand. Not as fine as flour but... well, finer than what the store sells. I just think that this makes coconut things easier to eat. 
Next seperate the eggs and beat the eggwhites. When it starts to get stiff, add half the sugar. 
Now mix the eggyolks with the butter and the other half of the sugar. It should be all foamy and looking very yummy (but really it´s just very buttery... and I really don´t like butter.>_<).
If you would like to, add a touch of vanilla essence here.
 Butter, sugar, eggyolks...
...all foamy.
Carefully fold in the eggwhite-sugar into the butter-sugar stuff. Sounds easier than it is because butter will be butter and hence not very cooperative. Be careful not to lose all the eggwhite fluffiness. 
Almost batter.
Now fold in the rhubarb-flour mix. Again. Carefully, please. Because there is no baking powder or soda in this recipe the fluffiness from the eggwhites is all the fluffiness this cake will have.  (Fluffiness is a funny word. I like it, did you notice? Fluffy, fluffy, fluffiness!)
I tend to get impatient and angry at batters not combining as I would like them to and then just beat the crap out of everything... Not very wise. I did an okay job this time, though.
Batter that made the cake.
That was pretty much it already. Now put the batter in a well buttered cake pan and put in the oven. 
Almost cake now.
For quite some time! Since the original four-times-as-much-recipe said to leave it in for almost two hours I figured I´d start with 50 minutes. After this time I checked the cake, found it still partially liquid inside so then I covered the cake with aluminium foil and gave it another 20 minutes. 
I left it in for 1 hour 10 minutes
Maybe a bit much, the sides were a bit burnt. Maybe try 10 mins less? 
 The cake! 
I liked this cake. A lot. The coconut came out nicely but without taking away any attention from our leading man, the rhubarb. I wish I had used a bit more of that, though. 
It did turn out moist and fluffy and makes a great spring cake. Not too light and summery but not a heavy winter food, either. I´m betting it`s super yummy with some whipped cream...
I liked it. Go try it yourself. Or: try something else with rhubarb. I´d be glad to hear about everyone elses experiments. ^^
Thanks for reading. 

PS: Fun fact: Rhubarb is officially a vegetable in Germany while in the US it has been classifed as a fruit in 1947.


Posted by: anna* in , , , ,

Last thursday was a national holiday so I had time. Guess what I did? Rrright! I made a soufflé. 
Didn´t I write about the nice spring-y weather last week? Well it´s gotten all gray and rainy. Again.
I could also need a kick in the butt to finally start doing serious work for my bachelor thesis... Any suggestions anyone? 
Somehow I managed to not do much this week. I did, however, develop some good plans and strategies to keep my mind off that thesis. Suddenly I´m planning to write a novel, found a gazillion books to read, thought of craft projects, checked half my cook books for the next thing to cook... Procrastinating deluxe! 
This has a good side though: I challenged two friends to make something with or from Rhubarb. Looking forward to that! 

I seriously haven`t had as much time in the past 15 year as I have now. The chance to try some stuff I always wanted to make, right? For a couple of years now I wanted to make Soufflé. But somehow... I was scared. It sounds so difficult. I tried anyways.
Since Soufflé struck me as something delicate and not to be messed with I used a recipe and completely stuck with it! None (!) of my books had a recipe it in so I used one by one of Germany`s/Austria´s best known TV-chefs, Johan Lafer. I´m not a particularly big fan of his but I wanted to make sure that this Soufflé was going to be at least edible.
So here it is: 


50g Butter
50g Flour
200ml Milk
4 Eggs
Vanilla (I used extract)
Sugar and Butter for the dishes

Nice short list, right? 
First things first: Preheat the oven to 200°C 
Butter the soufflé dishes, the pour sugar in and make sure it sticks to the butter. All over the place, baby! 
 Sugared dishes
Melt the butter in a pot. Make sure it doesn´t brown. 
Molten butter
Add the flour the butter, stir well and make sure you don´t get floury clumps. What you have now is a roux. A very buttery roux but in theory you could go on and make some delicious sauces with this. 
Let it simmer a bit, keep stirring and don´t let it darken. 
 Butter & Flour = Roux
In the meanwhile bring the milk and vanilla to a boil. 

 Vanillamilk... Mmmmh.... Reminds me of elementary school....
Add the vanillamilk to the roux. Mix well, mix fast, you don´t want clumps and bumps.
I thought after that I´d have a batter. But it just looks... funny. 

A blob. Butter, milk and flour. Vanillaflavor.
Transfer the blob to a bowl and add the four eggyolks. 
I was very much afraid that a) the eggyolks would inspissate and I´d have egg chunks or b) the yolks wouldn´t mix properly at all and I´d have a blob, painted eggy- yellow. 
Yes, I was highly suspicious of that blob.  I thought this was going to be one big fail.
But the yolks made a handsome batter out of the blob. A bit sticky but looking good.
Finally: batter!
In a seperate bowl (doh!) beat the eggwhites until you can play with them by holding the bowl over your head without being showered in eggwhites: Beat them stiff! This should be easier, legend has it, if you add a pinch of salt at the beginning. When the egg starts to stiffen, slowly add the sugar. 
Resist the urge to make meringue instead. 
Carefully fold in the eggwhites. This was not as easy as it seems because the yellow batter formerly known as the blob proved to be quite... resistant. It did work out in the end, though.
Fluffy Soufflébatter...
Now fill the (already pretty yummy) batter into the sugared soufflé dishes.
I used six dishes but since mine are rather small I had to fill them pretty good...
Now put them in the oven and let them bake for 12-15 minutes. 
Do not, I repeat, do not open the oven to sneak a peek in. There is no baking powder or something similar in your soufflés and you still want them to rise, right? They´re shy, give them a bit of privacy. 
Now, I set my kitchen timer to 14 minutes. My oven isn´t the fastest. After what felt like an hour to me i got suspicious because I hadn´t heard the alarm go off yet. Obviously either my kitchen timer is broken or I was too stupid to turn it on. Anyways, I had to open the oven and take a look and my soufflé turned out to be done but a little bit too brown. 
If you try this, make sure you set the alarm correctly. Make sure they are goldenbrown, not slightly-charred-wood-brown like mine...
Still came out ok: 
...and in.
Very tasty. Very fluffy on the inside with a nice crust and the sugar in the dishes melts to a great caramel... They do collapse pretty fast so eat them immediately.
I for my part can´t wait to try it again, this time maybe chocolate? Or something savory? Ooooh, cheese-soufflé.... 
Overall: Yes, it´s a bit tricky, but not as bad as people say it is. You do not need to tip toe around your kitchen or whisper around a soufflé, it just wants to get ready all by itself. Understandable, right?
Go ahead, try it. It´s very good and it sounds so impressive! :D
Thanks for reading.

Toad in a Hole  

Posted by: anna* in , , , , ,

It´s spring at last! Yay! Even sun-allergic me is happy about that! Yeah, I know, after spring comes summer and that means I will be complaining about the heat but in the meanwhile I´ll just enjoy my favorite season with all the pretty and incredibly well smelling flowers and people starting to cheer up and everything.
And among all those pretty trees and flowers I have a favorite: 
The huge peartree in our backyard. Look, isn´t it pretty? Ours is a five story, turn of the century house with super high ceilings and the tree is as tall as the house! Amazing, right? Unforunately the sheer size of it makes it problematic: 
a) It´s lowest branches are still too high to reach so I whave to wait for the pears to be super ripe and fall down, then hope I´m faster than the bugs or squirrels that are waiting for fallen fruits as well.
b) It´s so tall that it can´t be groomed properly. Doesn´t sound too bad, just let the tree grow as it likes, right? But! Fruit trees only bear fruit if maintained properly. So in the past few years we only got pears every other year. There should be fruit this year, though, and if that´s the case, I promise you some nice pear recipes.
Looking forward to that.

In the meantime, let´s do something completely different. 
In 1993, I was 14, I went to Great Britain with my mom. My only time traveling with my mother, believe it or not, and we actually had a lot of fun. And enjoyed the food. Yes, british food has a terrible reputation but I don´t think it´s that bad. Just look beyond Haggis and you´ll find great puddings and pasties and whatnot. 
My point being: when we got back we got a british cookbook and this is my favorite recipe from it (long lost since). 

Toad in a Hole

225 g Flour (all purpose)
1/2 ts Salt
2 Eggs
250ml Milk
8 little Sausages
1 big Onion
1 ts Bakingpowder

How to
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Mix the flour with the bakingpowder and the salt. 
Mix the eggs with the milk. 
Slowly pour the egg/milk mixture into the flour mix and stir well. It should be pretty runny and after resting for about half a minute the batter should be all bubbly.
Set aside for 15 minutes. 
 Bubbly batter
Fry the sausages in a pan until they are well browned. This time I had four big ones over from our first barbeque of the season so instead of eight little ones I used these. 
Cut the Onion and fry it until all yummy looking brown as well. 
Handsome Onions
Grease a pan. I remember the book telling me to "arrange" the sausages and the onions and I still have no clue what that is supposed to mean. I put the onions on top of the sausages, that´s all the "arranging" I do. If you can think of something better... feel free to tell me! 
Steaming onions and sausages
Pour the batter over sausages and onions. 
 All together, looking... boring.
Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. Or until everything is nice and golden brown. 
Half eaten before I could take a picture...
This is a very easy, very tasty recipe that I recommend for lazy days. Not much to prepare, nothing challenging... Best eaten with a bit of mustard.

So I dare you to try something british. Come on, be brave. It´s good.
Have fun. 
Thanks for reading.^^