Sonntag, 30. Juni 2013

Black olive tapanade

About 2 months ago, I asked my husband to go to the Metro by myself, because I had to finish a cake. We were running low on all sorts of necessities. Olives aren't really a necessity, but I asked him to bring a small jar, as I wanted to have some for a salad. Well, he came back with a large bag. Since then it had been sitting in my cupboard, unopened, because I couldn't think of a way to use up all those olives.

Last week, it came to me. Black olive tapanade. I love the stuff as a dip or on top of bruschetta. As the temperature has been slowly climbing, I also thought, some olives would go well with all the mezes we have been eating.

So out came the olives, my food processor and a couple of other ingredients, and we have been eating a lot of this really healthy stuff in the last 2 weeks. I took a jar of it along to a friend's house and it took her all of 5 days to finish it.

My version of black olive tapanade is

  • 2 cups black olives
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons capers
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • generous slugs of very good quality virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, salt to taste
  • Put all of the ingredients into the food processor and pulse. Do not pulse too finely, it should still have some texture and not become a cream
    Spread some of this stuff on slices of baguette, top with grated parmesan and broil. You can watch them being inhaled, as soon as they come to the table, or just use instead of butter, as my friend has apparently been doing I couldn't believe, how fast she went through the jar.

    I cannot believe, how easy it is to make and am pretty angry at myself, for having waited so long to try this out, it's really expensive out here. It tastes better than the storebought stuff,  plus I know exactly what is in it. The only downside is, we're going on holiday soon and I have loads of tapanade. I've filled some in a jar for now, and stuck the larger part into small ziplock bags and froze them. Just be sure to always top up the tapanade left in the jar, so it won't go moldy on you and keep it in the fridge. I hope, that freezing won't harm the rest of the tapanade, if it does, I'll come back to let you know.

    Mittwoch, 20. März 2013

    DYI Quark- Part two

    DYI Quark- Part two
    Well now that the milk has been fermenting for a couple of hours, let's just check the progress. See? It has set and doesn't move, when I gently tip the container
    Now take a knife and cut a criss cross pattern right down to the bottom of the container. This will start the process of the whey separating form the solids
    Wait for an hour or so,till you see the separation well. In the meantime prepare your cheescloth. If you don't have a cheesecloth a clean cotton dish towel will be just as good.
    First set a sieve atop a large container and lay the cheesecloth into the sieve. Fill in the fermented milk and carefully gather up the corners of the cheesecloth and close it with a clip or rubber band. This will prevent dust or anything else from settling atop your product.
    Almost immediately you will hear the whey dripping off into the bowl beneath
    Leave the cheese alone and go do something useful for a change.

    After a couple of hours you will see, that there is quite a lot of whey in the bowl benaeth, Carefully open the cheesecloth and have a look, whether the cheese is of the consistency you need. I like it a bit firmer, you can always dilute it with milk or cream, if it is too dry, but if for example you mix in some fruit or want to bake with it, it is better when drier.
    If the cheese is the way you like it, fill it into a clean container and off into the fridge
    Do not throw away the whey. It has a lot of nutrients, you can add it to bathwater, drink it, add puried fruits for taste, use it instead of the liquid in your bread baking or use it as a fertiliser in your garden. Just do not pour it down the toilet
    The whey is chocablock full of nutrients, keep it. Refrigerate it, if not needed at once, or you can even freeze it

    Dienstag, 19. März 2013

    DYI Quark- a picture tutorial

    For us Germans, Quark is the cheese, that gets eaten most. Whether salty or sweet, cold or used in cooking or baking, this cheese is extremely versatile. I remember going to Germany as a child and having this cheese under my jam in the mornings instead of butter. My grandmother made the most delicious cheese cake with it, flavoured Quark, similar to flavoured Joghurts, are sold in every supermaket. If only, my mother would have been able to get the cultures, we wouldn't have been limited to having Quark every four years.
    I get my culture in Germany, as well as the rennet, using this link
    But you can also get the cultures here
    I promised to make a picture tutorial, the way I make Quark, this is step one
    Get your equipment together
    I use a machine, but you really don't need it, the Quark culture does not need as high a temperature as Joghurt for example. If you don't have a machine, just warm the milk to about 28-30 degrees and add the culture and rennet (Lab). Pack it well and let it ferment WITHOUT MOVING, that is important.
    I usually put about half the milk (UHT) into the machine and add some culture (see picture), whisk it well. I heat up the other half a bit (to speed the process up) and add that together with the rennet into the room temperature milk and mix well. Do not put the culture into the part of the milk, that you are heating up on the stove, that will very effectively kill the culture. You will have to dissolve the rennt tablet in a bit of hot water, before adding it to the milk, a tablespoon of water will suffice, if you are using liquid rennet, just count the drops as reccommended by the manufacturer. I get the tablets, as they are lighter in transport (I have to lug it all the way from Germany to Shanghai and every gram counts)
    Add enough culture as fits on the tip of a knife

    sprinkle the culture onto the milk

    whisk through

    half a tablet of rennet is enough for a liter of milk

    dissolve in a tablespoon of HOT water

    heat up the other half of the milk
     add it to the other half
    cover the container and let the milk ferment
    I have added the pictures in the order I make my Quark. You will have to wait a couple of hours, before I can finish the Quark, as the milk needs to ferment. As soon as you start the fermenting process, do not move or jiggle the container. When we lived in Korea, before my machine days, I choose a spot in my appartment, where it was warm and not in the way. Sometimes I had to wait a bit longer, for the milk to reach the right consistency, but you can make Quark without the fancy machine. The Quark is ready for straining, when it congeals to a soft tofu.
    The next steps will be shown, when my milk is ready

    Mittwoch, 20. Februar 2013

    Home made grisini

    Home made Grisini


    500gr flour

    2 teaspoons dried yeast

    1 teaspoon sugar

    ½ teaspoon salt

    3 tablespoon olive oil

     Around 250 mls warm water


    I use a machine, so I just dump everything in and start the machine, my lovely little darling will do all the work. In the meantime, I preheat my oven to about 45 degrees Celsius.


    After about 10 minutes in the machine, I check the dough, if it’s too hard (dry)I add some water and start the little baby up again, if the dough is nice and soft, it’s ready. Too wet, add some more flour.


    Now I get my stainless steel bowl and add around 2 tablespoon olive oil into it, take the dough from the machine, form into a ball and use that ball, to wipe the interior of the bowl with the oil. Clingfilm on top and off into the oven until the dough has more than doubled.


    Now it’s elbow grease time. Turn out the dough on a floured surface, punch down and start kneading, until the dough has a semi soft/hard feeling. It just should not be sticky anymore. Now I knead in some grated cheese (sharp cheddar or Parmesan is nice), 3 tablespoons of sesame seeds. Divide the dough into half and into one of the halves, knead in about 2 tablespoons of freshly chopped Rosemary. Pinch off small lumps of the dough, roll into a ball and then into long ropes. Once the rope has the thickness and length you want, sprinkle some semi coarse salt along the top of the rope and roll gently back and forth,  that is enough to get the salt to adhere.

    Lay the ropes onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and once full, off into the oven (170 Degrees Celsius) until golden brown.


    My daughter just came home from school with a friend and both just started munching. I swear these are so easy to make and once you have tried them, you will NEVER, EVEEEERRRRRR buy them from a store again. I wanted them for my husband’s birthday tomorrow, but I think I will have to make some more.

    Home made Grisini is no rocket science, just very nice to have a machine to help you knead. I have found that especially with yeast based breads, the amount of water depends also on the brand of flour and also the warmth and humidity of the day. As I can never know, which brand I will be getting here, and the weather being so unpredictable, I sorta wing it most of the time, I rely more on the feel and look of the dough, if it looks and feels right, it usually is.


    Experiment with what you put into the dough, I think, tomorrow I will omit the cheese and just add garlic and rosemary

    Montag, 18. Februar 2013



    Small sweethearts that my daughter made for her friends, coloured sugar pressed and cut out with small heart cutters.  Originally thought to sweeten tea, her friends ate them straight out of the packets when my daughter handed them out yesterday in school.

    We found the free downloadable and absolutely cute stickers here:

    Recipe for the hearts is here

    Sonntag, 17. Februar 2013

    Valentine macarons

    A couple of days late, I know, BUT school is restarting tomorrow and my daughter wanted to make something special for her friends, especially since one of them dared her to make them.

    Now, who can resist a dare???

    Not us, so here they are. Macarons with a Valentines' twist

    Hot pink raspberry flavoured macarons with a strawberry/lavender filling

    Kathleen, these are for you

    Dienstag, 5. Februar 2013

    Mavis and Hotel Transylvania

    Today's cake is for Natascha, who loves Mavis and Hotel Transylvania. I had to google the film, as I had never heard of it before. I think I might have to buy it, sounds interesting. Anyway, here is the cake, had real fun making it.
    Happy birthday Natascha, hard to believe, that the little girl I met years ago shortly after we arrived in Shanghai, is turning 10 already