Cream Cheese

When my husband came to Germany, he discovered cream cheese and has been a fan ever since. 🙂 Needless to say, self-made cream cheese tastes so much better than the store-bought alternative. This recipe is super easy and does not take long at all – and you can add whatever additional ingredients you like.

Easy to make and very tasty.

Ingredients

(makes about 90 g of cream cheese)

  • 500 ml buttermilk
  • 5-7 teaspoons chopped potherbs (basil, parsley, chives, …)
  • salt and pepper

How to Make It

  • Heat up the buttermilk in a pot until it is between 60-70° C hot. Do not boil it!
  • As the buttermilk warms up, it will begin to curdle. Once the whey has separated from the cream, pour everything through a cloth.
  • Take the cream cheese out of the cloth and put it into a container. Stir. If the cream cheese is too dry and lumpy, add a bit of the whey.
  • Chop up the potherbs and stir them into the cream cheese.
  • Add salt and pepper according to personal preferences.
  • The cream cheese tastes great on self-baked bread… 😉
Tastes great on freshly baked bread.

Bread – Potatoe and Spelt

This potato bread may seem a bit unusual at first glance, but it is absolutely worth a try. It has a crunchy crust and is quite light and fluffy inside. Tastes great with self-made cream cheese, fruity jam, or aromatic ham. 🙂

Ingredients

  • 350 g cooked potatoes (from the previous day)
  • 300 g whole grain spelt flour
  • 100 g rye flour (type 1150)
  • 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon ground caraway
  • 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 140 g active sourdough
  • 20 g yeast
  • about 30-50 ml lukewarm water

How to Make It

  • Mash the potatoes thoroughly. You want to have a mass without any chunks.
  • Add the spelt and rye flour and mix it.
  • Add the honey (or maple syrup), the caraway, the nutmeg, and the salt.
  • Add the active sourdough and mix it all.
  • Take about 20 ml of the lukewarm water and dissolve the yeast in it.
  • As you mix your dry ingredients, slowly pour the yeast water into the bowl.
  • Mix for 10-15 minutes. If necessary, add 10-20 ml of lukewarm water. Make sure that the dough is not too moist, though.
  • Cover the bowl and let the dough rest in a warm spot overnight (or at least 3-4 hours).
Baking with a Clay Pot
  • Soak the clay pot for a good 30 minutes.
  • Once the pot and the dough are ready, pour out the water, dry the pot, and fill the dough into the pot.
  • Take a sharp knife and make three diagonal cuts across the loaf. Sprinkle the loaf with a bit of water and a bit of flour. If you have a pot with a lid like I do, close the pot with the lid.
  • Put the pot into the oven and turn the oven on to 220° C. This is important as the pot needs to heat up slowly; putting the clay pot into a pre-heated oven can cause the clay to break.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes, then take off the lid and bake for another 35-40 minutes.
  • Once the bread is done, turn off the oven and let the bread cool inside the oven.
Ready to go into the oven.
Baking the “Standard” Way
  • The next morning, grease a baking tin and pour the dough in. Let the dough rest for at least another hour.
  • Take a sharp knife and make three diagonal cuts across the loaf. Sprinkle the loaf with a bit of water and a bit of flour.
  • Preheat the oven to 220° C.
  • Bake the bread for 50-60 minutes.
  • Once the bread is done, turn off the oven and let the bread cool inside the oven.

Ginger Water

If you are looking for a refreshing (and healthy) beverage to cool off during the summer, ginger water may be the thing for you!

Refreshing and easy to make.

Ingredients

For the “Base”
  • 70 g of chopped ginger
  • 70 ml of water
For the Drink
  • ⅛ ginger water
  • ⅞ sparkling mineral water
  • about 1 tablespoon of honey of maple syrup

How to Make It

  • Wash and peel the ginger, then cut it into pieces.
  • Blend the pieces of ginger with the water thoroughly. Pour the blended mix through a strainer to filter out the fibers. The resulting liquid. is your “base.” You can store it in a bottle the fridge for about ten days.
  • For the actual beverage, mix ⅛ of ginger water with ⅞ of sparkling mineral water.
  • Add honey or maple syrup to sweeten it. Stir thoroughly and enjoy.
The perfect summer drink.

Lentil and Pomegranate Salad

In summer, we usually end up eating more salads since they are a lighter, easy meal when it is too warm outside to cook. This lentil salad is super-healthy and the pomegranate seeds give it a fresh and fruity flavor. Let me know what you think. 🙂

Lentils, arugula, and pomegranate seeds – yummy!

Ingredients

(enough for 4 people)

For the Salad
  • 200 g black lentils
  • 125 g arugula
  • 250 g feta cheese
  • 350 g pomegranate seeds (about 1½ pomegranates)
  • 150 g chopped walnuts
For the Dressing
  • 50 ml olive oil
  • 25 ml balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon “crema de balsamico,” i.e. balsamic vinegar cream, a thicker and more aromatic version of the vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garden herbs

How to Make It

  • Cook the lentils according to the instructions on the box. Pour out the water and let them cool off, then put them into a big bowl.
  • In the meantime, wash the arugula. I always cut the leaves to make it easier to eat. 😉 Put the arugula into a big bowl.
  • Dice the feta cheese and add it to the bowl.
  • Chop up the walnuts and add them to the rest.
  • Peel the pomegranates to collect the seeds. Careful, it can get a bit messy… Add the pomegranate seeds to the salad.
  • In a separate little bowl, mix the dressing. Add it to the salad and mix it well.
  • Before serving, sprinkle the garden herbs on top. Enjoy! 🙂
Tastes great with a glass of fruity cider.

Banana Bread

Banana bread is a classic comfort food, especially in the U.S. Now with the corona virus slowing down all public life and confining families to their homes, it has made a spectacular comeback. The sweet taste is certainly soothing, and baking does bring people together, turning it into a stabilizing tradition. Sharing food is a great way to connect with loved ones, so I thought I would post my favorite recipe for banana bread here as well. This is a recipe friends kindly shared with me years ago and that is also why the ingredients are listed in American measures.

Banana bread is a staple comfort food.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup walnuts or pecan nuts
  • 1¾ cups flour (basic wheat flour will do)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 3-4 really ripe bananas
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

How to Make It

  • Preheat the oven to 180° C.
  • Take a bowl and mix the flour, the sugar, the baking powder, the baking soda, the salt, and the cinnamon.
  • Chop the nuts and add them to the flour-sugar mix.
  • Squash the bananas with a fork.
  • Take a second bowl and mix the squashed bananas, the eggs, the melted butter, and the vanilla.
  • Carefully fold in the liquid contents of the second bowl into the dry ingredients of the first bowl. You want to make sure that the dough is thick and chunky.
  • Butter a baking tin and pour the dough into it.
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes at 180° C until the banana bread is golden brown on top. Let it cool down.
  • (You can freeze it easily as well.)

Chocolate-Nougat Ice-Cream with Irish Cream Liqueur

If you love chocolate ice-cream, this one is for you! It has a deliciously aromatic chocolate flavor because of the cocoa, but the nougat also adds a sweet component – the result is a rich and intense ice-cream. The touch of Irish cream liqueur adds a bit of a twist and ensures you have an easy to make, yet fancy dessert that is mouthwatering any time of the year.

Yummy!

Ingredients

  • 400 g cream
  • 150 ml Irish cream liqueur (chocolate flavor)
  • 250 g nougat
  • 100 g cocoa powder (the kind used for baking without sugar)
  • 4 eggs
  • 200 g sugar

How to Make It

  • Mix the cream and the liqueur together in a pot.
  • Add the nougat in chunks and carefully heat up the mixture. Make sure not to boil it, though. Stir to dissolve the nougat.
  • Add the cocoa powder and stir until everything is dissolved.
  • Let the mixture cool down a bit.
  • In the meantime, whip up the eggs until they are very (!) fluffy.
  • Add the sugar to the eggs and beat it again until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Carefully stir in the chocolate-nougat-cream into the egg-sugar foam.
  • Pour the mixture into your ice-cream machine and freeze following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Bread – Oatmeal & Rye

We are currently eating a lot of oatmeal, in part because we “rediscovered” it as breakfast option in the form of porridge. So naturally I wanted to try to put it into bread as well. I love how it turned out, especially the aromatic flavor of the oatmeal flakes.

Lovely aromatic flavor because of the oatmeal flakes. I just failed at cutting it properly.

Ingredients

  • 250 g spelt flour (type 630)
  • 250 g rye (type 1150)
  • 250 g oatmeal flakes
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 120 g active sourdough (make sure to activate it in time)
  • 280-300 ml lukewarm yeast water (if you do not have any at hand, just use regular water)

How to Make It

  • Mix the two types of flour and the oatmeal flakes together. Add the syrup (or honey) and the salt and mix it. Add the sourdough and mix it.
  • Keep mixing and slowly add the lukewarm yeast water.
  • Knead the dough for at least 10 minutes.
  • Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover it, and let it rest in a warm spot for at least 2½ to 3 hours. The dough should have grown significantly in size.
  • Take a spatula and fold the outer edges into the middle of the ball of dough and put the loaf into a proofing basket (really, any kind of breadbasket works fine in my experience). If you do not own one, no problem at all – just form a loaf with your hands. Cover the loaf with a moist towel and let it rest in a warm spot for another 2-3 hours (the longer, the better).
  • Preheat the oven to 250° C. If you have a pizza stone, great – put it on the oven now and heat it up thoroughly. If you do not have a pizza stone, also no problem – you can bake your bread on a normal baking tray. I recommend heating up the tray in the oven as well.
  • Take a sharp knife and make three diagonal cuts across the loaf. Sprinkle the loaf with a bit of water and a bit of flour.
  • Fill a fire-resistant small bowl with water and put it on the floor of the oven.
  • Bake the bread at 250° C for 10 minutes. Then lower the heat to 200° C and bake the loaf for another 30-40 minutes.
  • Once the bread is done, turn off the oven and let the bread cool inside the oven.

Elderflower Syrup

These past weeks, many gardens in my neighborhood had their elderberry trees in full bloom and the white flowers looked absolutely lovely. But it was actually my mother who suggested I try to make my own elderflower syrup – I had not made the connection at all between the white blossoms and the fruity syrup… The good news is that it is surprisingly easy to make, you only need a bit of patience. 🙂

The syrup tastes great as a non-alcoholic refreshment. Simply mix 1/8 of syrup with 7/8 of cold sparkly water, add some mint leaves, and enjoy. Of course, you can also add it to a glass of prosecco or sparkling wine.

Mix it with water or add it to sparkling wine

Ingredients

  • 20-30 umbels of the European (black) elderberry tree (see picture)
  • 1 unwaxed, untreated lemon (so the peel should not have been treated with insecticides)
  • 25 g citric acid (look for it in the baking aisle)
  • 1½ kg sugar
  • 1½ water

How to Make It

  • On your next walk through the neighborhood, pick 20-30 elderflower umbels. They should be in full bloom! Make sure not to crush them or shake them too much.
  • Back at home, cut the umbels into smaller pieces and clean them carefully. The bigger and thicker stalks can make the syrup taste bitter. Also cut off any unopened blossoms. Pick off any bugs and spiders as well.
  • I would be careful about simply rinsing the umbels off, though, because then you also wash off the yellow powder inside the blossoms which give the syrup its taste!
  • Once you are done, put the elderflower blossoms into a big pot or bowl (you need to be able to close it with a lid later).
  • Wash the lemon and cut it into slices. Add the slices to the bowl.
  • Pour the citric acid on top.
  • Take another big pot and heat up the water. Add the sugar to it and bring it all to a boil.
  • Pour the sugar water over the elderflower blossoms, the lemon slices, and the citric acid and let it cool down a bit before covering it all with the lid.
  • Let the mixture rest in a dark and cool place for 4-5 days.
  • Pour the mixture through a strainer and/or a fine cloth into a pot.
  • Heat the liquid up and bring it to a boil. Then fill it into clean bottles and close tightly.
As long as you store it somewhere dark and cool, the syrup should be good for up to 21 months

Spaetzle and Veggie Mix

Have you heard about spaetzle? It is a complicated word but refers to a very delicious type of food: a type of pasta typical for the South Germany, especially the region of Swabia. Spaetzle are made with fresh eggs and are therefore softer than the classic Italian pasta you are already familiar with.

The classic Swabian way to eat spaetzle is arguably as “Kässpätzle”, so spaetzle with melted cheese. The recipe below is my attempt to give this traditional dish a bit of a spin by adding fresh veggies to it.

Great with a glass of white wine.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-sized onion
  • 8-9 green asparagus spears
  • 5-6 tomatoes
  • 125 g fresh spinach
  • 500 g spaetzle (pre-packaged from the supermarket)
  • grated pecorino as to your liking
  • salt, pepper, and any other spices or herbs you feel like

How to Make It

  • Peel the onion and chop it into thin pieces.
  • Fry the onion pieces with a bit of olive oil in a pan.
  • Wash the asparagus spears. Take a potato or asparagus peeler and peel the lower third of the spears. Cut off the dry ends. Chop the spears into pieces.
  • Add the asparagus pieces to the pan and fry them for a bit. You may have to add a bit more oil.
  • Wash the tomatoes and cut them into pieces.
  • Add the tomatoes to the mix and fry everything for a few minutes.
  • Wash the spinach leaves and add them to the pan.
  • Add the spaetzle.
  • Carefully mix and fry everything. Add the spices and herbs.
  • As you serve the spaetzle, you can sprinkle some grated pecorino cheese on top.

Bread – Wholegrain Rye & Nut Mix

I love bread made with rye flour – especially wholegrain – because of its aromatic, intense flavor. In this version, I added some nuts and seeds to the dough to make it a bit fluffier and juicier. The loaf develops its full flavor range after a day or two in the bread box and then it tastes delicious with a slice of cheese and/or Black Forest ham.

Aromatic and full of nuts and seeds.

Ingredients

  • 175 g nut mix (e.g. pine nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds)
  • 350 g wholegrain rye flour
  • 150 g rye (type 1150)
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon caraway
  • 135 g active sourdough (make sure to activate it in time)
  • 200-220 ml lukewarm yeast water (if you do not have any at hand, just use regular water)

How to Make It

  • Soak the nut mix in water for 1-2 hours. Drain the nut mix thoroughly before using it.
  • Mix the two types of flour. Add the syrup (or honey), the salt, and the caraway and mix it. Add the sourdough and mix it.
  • Keep mixing and slowly add the lukewarm yeast water. The dough should be fairly moist.
  • Add the nut mix and keep kneading. Knead the dough for at least 10 minutes.
  • Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover it, and let it rest in a warm spot for at least 3 to 4 hours. The dough should have grown significantly in size.
  • Take a baking tin and grease it. Fill the dough into the baking tin and cover it with a moist towel and let it rest in a warm spot for another 2-3 hours (the longer, the better).
  • Preheat the oven to 250° C.
  • Take a sharp knife and make three diagonal cuts across the loaf. Sprinkle the loaf with a bit of water and a bit of flour.
  • Fill a fire-resistant small bowl with water and put it on the floor of the oven. Bake the bread at 250° C for 10 minutes. Then lower the heat to 200° C and bake the loaf for another 30-40 minutes.
  • Once the bread is done, turn off the oven and let the bread cool inside the oven. Make sure to take the loaf out of the baking tin once it is cool enough to touch.