Writings on curious recipes, food I've tasted around the world and the quest for finding the perfect blueberry muffin.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Schlutzkrapfen - work in progress

You should not get the impression that everything that comes out of my kitchen is perfect or effortless (well, maybe you should, but it would be completely and utterly wrong). Often a dish that seems so promising, ends up tasting bland, weird or just not the way I had hoped it would, and therefore disappointing. Other times I might spend hours slaving away only to bite into something that, well, could have been bought in two minutes for 3 Euro and probably would have tasted better. It's best not to be around me when that happens.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pasta with salsiccia - a favorite

consider myself a fairly reasonable, patient person. I also consider myself a sharer. Especially when it comes to food. I love cooking and baking for others. Whenever I go to a restaurant, I always want to share different appetizers or desserts (sometimes even mains) so that everyone can try more dishes and dining becomes a more unifying experience. For me, eating is social. I don't enjoy eating alone and not being able to share the experience.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Asparagus Strudel - A yearly request

Every year I ask my sister what she wants me to cook for her birthday. And every year I hope that she'll say something that surprises me, that gives me an excuse to consult all my recipe books and dive into an elaborate, time-consuming, special occasion cooking binge. But year after year her response is always the same: "Your Spargelstrudel, Jen". I try to reason with her - "Oh but I saw the most amazing recipe for a rack of lamb" or "There's this mushroom leek tart that you would surely love, I mean you like mushrooms, right?" - but without any success. All she wants - all she has been waiting for since the last bite on her last birthday - is my asparagus strudel.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Very berry pancakes

Certain friends won't let me forget the time during our road trip I forced them to drive around with me for over an hour in the middle of nowhere so that I could find a place that served pancakes. We were so hungry by the time we finally found a restaurant, everyone was on edge and slightly annoyed with me. But I ordered my pancakes and took a bite and nearly spit them back out swallowed them and forced a smile. Even though the pancakes were truly terrible, the idea of admitting that to my friends - who had spent the last hour trying to tell me that one couldn't find any good pancakes around here - was even worse.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Hen - At my artistic limit

In case the last few posts hadn't already hinted at it - I kind of have a thing for baking. It's not just that I find it fascinating that one can take as little as 6 ingredients and make this or believe that I can win over anyone with these, or love the incredible smell of cinnamon, browned butter and toasted nuts that fills the apartment or.. okay, it is definitely all that. But actually, what I love most about home-made baked goods, is that they are pure. No preservatives, no flavor enhancers, no food coloring. Just honest ingredients. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake - The most tolerant cake in the world

This cake should never have worked. I think everything I could have potentially screwed up, I screwed up. Admittedly, it's not my fault the 10-inch round cake pan was occupied, but that was the first hiccup.  When I took out the roasted nuts, my hand shook, the tray slanted, and half the nuts fell to the floor.  I managed to burn the butter (despite watching it carefully), and the second time I melted the butter, I forgot to put the vanilla bean into it, until the very end. Despite the explicit instructions to let the butter cool before adding it to the beaten egg whites, I blatantly ignored that and had the egg whites deflate in front of my eyes. And finally I left the cake in too long and it nearly burnt. Oh - and let's not talk about the glass candle holder that fell out of the cupboard when I reached for the scale and shattered into a million little pieces or the 10-inch chef's knife that I pushed aside, accidentally making it fly to the floor and having me jump back while a life without a toe flashed in front of me... Yes, let's not talk about that.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pecan Streusel Coffee Cake Muffin

I'd like to hope that when people think of me, they think of a really good muffin. Yes, a muffin. Not only because they know I am kind of obsessed with them - that would be too obvious. No, but because muffins at their best are beautiful little treats, just sweet enough to satisfy any craving and just the right size to hold you over to the next meal. Muffins, while predominately associated with breakfast, are always welcome. As an afternoon snack or on a late winter night with some hot chocolate - who would say no? And at their best, they leave you insanely happy. So really, who wouldn't want to be associated with a muffin?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Whenever I tell people I'm from South Tyrol - a German and Italian speaking region in the very north of Italy - more often than not, they are eager to know more. Is it even more north than Venice? Why do people speak German there? And do you have TV and internet "in the mountains"? And while I don't mind talking about geographical coordinates, historical political reasons for the German language use and de-mything the lack of technology in the Alps, I'd much rather talk about what's really fascinating about my region: the food.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Das Gulasch. Use Google Translator - you'll understand.

by Guest Blogger

Heute gibt es ein Gulasch. Der Speiseplan war in letzter Zeit mürbe und wir wollen Weichgegartes essen.

Gulasch macht das billige Fleisch schmackhaft.
Aber der Geneigte greift trotzdem zu Bio-Fleisch. Ich selbst habe die Erfahrung gemacht, dass mir dadurch der Kontakt zum rohen Stück noch schwerer, und das Vergnügen noch schmackhafter geworden ist.


Jedenfalls kaufe man:

1-2 kg Rindfleisch
1-2 kg Zwiebel (Keine Sorge, fellas, immer so bei Gulasch)
1-2 kleinere Löffel Papricke edelsüß oder herb, je nach Laune und Einschätzung
1/2-2 Knoblauchknollen je nach Typ
1/4 - 3/4 guter Löffel Kümmel (tolerant)
1/4 - 3/4 guter Löffel Majoran (weniger tolerant)


Ein Löffel Essig - Balsamico: süß, aber nicht aus Zucker. Farbe!
Und a Bio-Zitrone.

Jedenfalls schmeißt man zuerst Zwiebel in den Topf, lässt sie ein bisschen mehr als schwitzen, also leicht braten im Topf. Wahrscheinlich so dreiviertel Hitze.
Wenn der Zwiebel hellergelb wird, den Papricka so darüberstreuen, dass alles an der Öberfläche gefärbt aussieht. Einfach mal einen Löffel Paprika kosten - dann weiß man, ob man lieber herben oder süßen hat.
Den Knoblauch mit der Hand oder dem Messer leicht zerdrücken und reinschmeissen, ebenso das Rindfleisch, Kümmel- und Majoranprise.
Meine Oma, eine rüstige Trafikantin aus Leibnitz, gibt manchmal ein Däumchen Tomatenmark dazu - "Jo, das macht so cremig", sagt sie. Ich mags auch.
Mit so wenig heißem Wasser wie möglich aufgießen und dünsten. Mindesten 1 1/2 Stunden bei kleinstmöglicher Flamme. Idealerweise blubbert es ganz leise, als wär's ein kleiner Motor.
2 Stunden später, weil du nicht auf die Uhr gesehen hast, ist das Gulasch nur besser geworden.
Ein mittlerer Spritzer, ein Schnapsglas voll, Balsamico einspritzen und umrühren.
Schüssel auswaschen, kurz heißes Wasser drüberlaufen lassen, abschütteln, Gulasch reinfüllen, Fleisch nachnehmen, ein Spritzer Zitrone, Semmel, ab!
Als Beilage am besten ein Bier. Ein Gassenbier.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mission impossible? The perfect blueberry muffin

I spent a good amount of last summer baking. Yes, I know it's crazy to even think about turing on an oven in 40°C weather, but if I wasn't termed crazy before, researching and writing one's thesis without much contact to the outside world will have that effect on you. Amongst the things I made (such as this easy cake) were blueberry muffins. Lots of different kinds of blueberry muffins. In hope to find The One. The one that would end the search for the perfect blueberry muffin. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

a.k.a. Pork Chops Austrian Style

by Guest Blogger

"Schweinsbraten" is an Austrian original. It is the dish people gathered around at the Sunday Table for centuries to celebrate a feast of food and rich beer. Many argue, it's the synonym for a Sunday meal - and well: I won't disagree.

Everyday Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

Everyone has that cake. The one that never fails you. The one that is simple enough to whip up by heart. The one that only needs two bowls and a mixer. The one for which you normally don’t even have to run to the store because you have all the ingredients at home – and you know those are always the best.

 Don't have that cake? Then please allow me to be so bold: This will be yours.

It is definitely mine. Stumbled upon a year ago via Smitten Kitchen, my all-time favorite recipe source, I have since used it countless times. I love how simple it is – and how versatile. Don’t have raspberries? What about a different berry? Or even chopped up peaches or nectarines or… well, any fruit, really.

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

125g // 1 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
150g // 2/3 cup of sugar + one to two tablespoons for sprinkling
56g of butter
Zest of one lemon
Heaping teaspoon of vanilla sugar // 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 medium egg
125ml // 1/2 cup of buttermilk*
200g // 1 cup of raspberries

1. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about two minutes). Add lemon zest, vanilla sugar/extract and egg. Mix well.
3. Mix in a third of the flour, then half the buttermilk, another third of flour, the rest of the buttermilk and then the remaining flour until incorporated.
4. Spread into 9 inch //24 cm round baking form, place raspberries on top and sprinkle with one to two tablespoons of sugar.
5. Bake at 204°C // 400°F for 20-25 minutes. Wait for it to cool. Enjoy!

*Don’t have buttermilk? Just add a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to 250 ml // 1 cup of milk! Stir.. and let it sit for 10 minutes.