Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Baba Ghanoush

From Nia's dad, Clive

Baba Ghanoush is a Lebanese dip made from eggplant - it can be used as a dip for bread or veggies or as a tasty base for a sandwich. I love this stuff but was always mystified as to how it was prepared, until last summer when I was schooled in the ways of roasting eggplant by my friend Nia's dad. It's so easy and fresh tasting, I couldn't believe it took me so long to try it!

Serves about 6

1 large eggplant
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1/8 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (200 C) Lightly grease a baking sheet.

Place eggplant on the baking sheet, and pierce the skin with a fork. Roast for 30-40 minutes, turning occasionally until soft. Remove and let cool. Once completely cool, peel skin off.

Place eggplant, lemon juice, tahini, and garlic in a blender and puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste and slowly mix in olive oil. Sprinkle on paprika as a garnish. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 1, 2012


from my neighbor, Angela

Addie had a playdate with a girl from her class, and her mom had us over for lunch for schnitzel. Schnitzel is basically a pork cutlet that has been breaded and fried. It is THE food of choice for Tirol and served at pretty much every restaurant in town. The trouble is, sometimes it's a bit greasy and heavy so you have to be careful. But when done right is a really nice authentically Austrian dinner.

Makes 4 pieces of schnitzel

4 pork cutlets
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs (beaten)
1 tsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp milk
1/2 cup finely ground bread crumbs
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/3 cup oil (for frying)
1 lemon (garnish) cut into wedges
cranberry jam (garnish)

Like most things fried, this is best served right off of the griddle - once they get cold they lose a bit of luster. So do all of your other prep work beforehand and cook the steaks last - right before you eat.

Take the pork steaks and pound them flat, so they are quite thin (about 1/2 inch). Arrange your table so you have three shallow bowls laid out: one with flour, one with the eggs mixed with nutmeg and milk, and one with the breadcrumbs mixed with salt and pepper. One at a time take the steaks, dip them in the flour to cover them completely. Then dip them in the egg/nutmeg mixture and finally into the bread crumbs. Try to coat each piece of meat evenly each time, and in the end you should get a pork steak coated nicely with breadcrumbs. Set aside the breaded pork on a plate.

Heat several tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan on the stove. Some people go really crazy with the oil - you can use as much as you want, but I prefer a less greasy schnitzel so I use as little as I can get away with. Once the oil is hot, drop the meat one at a time on the pan, and saute it for about 3 minutes each side. Once finished, set aside and keep warm until serving.

Here it's common to eat this with freshly squeezed lemon and cranberry jam, but the kids I was with had ketchup, so whatever you prefer!

Welcome to Austria!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sausage Apple and Cranberry Stuffing

Adapted slightly from Allrecipes

My sister and I tried this stuffing while she was out here, and it was fantastic! Lovely fall fruit flavors blended with spices and meat - it was an excellent combination. It would be interesting to use dried herbs, and different kids of breads. We tried it a second time without meat and it was still awesome, so feel free to make this one vegetarian if you so desire.

Serves 5-6

5 1/2 cups cubed bread (the recipe calls for half white half whole wheat, but whatever)
1 lb. ground turkey sausage
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped celery
2 Tbsp fresh sage
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 apple, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup minced parsley
1 cup turkey stock
4 Tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 (176 C) and spread out the bread cubes on a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake for 5-7 minutes until evenly toasted. Then transfer toasted bread cubes to a large bowl.

In a large skillet, cook sausage and onions over medium heat. Then add celery, sage, rosemary and thyme. Cook and stir 2 minutes to blend flavors.

Pour sausage mixture over bread. Mix in chopped apples, cranberries and parsley. Drizzle turkey stock plus melted butter, and toss mixture lightly. Fluff with fork. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Black Gold Cookies

adapted slightly from That Skinny Chick Can Bake

It was weird. The first three months of my pregnancy I lost all desire for sweet things. This has never happened to me in my life. But around month five things settled back to normal and I woke one day to have that all too familiar chocolate craving - but it had been so long that I had even wanted any that there wasn't a drop in the house. What to do!

Anyway I got online and found this recipe; a perfect solution for a chocolate lover who wants a cookie so chocolaty that it will keep the cravings at bay with one bite.

Makes around 24 cookies

6 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
12 oz chocolate (about 340 g) *higher quality is always better!
6 Tbsp butter (about 85 g)
2 eggs
1/2 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven 325 F (162 C)

Whisk together dry ingredients and set aside.

Melt butter and half (6 oz or 170 g) of the chocolate together (either a stove or microwave - just don't burn it!) mix until blended and set aside.

Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla together for 6 minutes, then add in chocolate/butter mixture. Mix in dry ingredients, then take the rest of the chocolate and chop it roughly into chunks and add it to the mixture.

Scoop tablespoonfuls onto a baking sheet, giving each cookie a little space for spread. (note: I like to make sure one nice big chocolate chunk makes it into every cookie!) Bake for 10 minutes, and let them cool for 30 more before eating. These cookies are really great soft, so even if they don't look completely done, take them out. If you want them to harden up a bit, put them in the fridge but don't over bake.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Roasted Pepper and Mushroom Sandwich

from Cheap, Healthy, Good

Sometimes Ben and I talk about becoming vegetarians. Meat can be expensive, both in terms of money and environmental costs, plus ethically we feel guilty about mass produced animal farms and uncomfortable with the conditions that these animals are raised in. 

But on the other hand. We both really love meat. The occasional steak or salmon or sushi... mmmmmm... What to do?

Well, I guess baby steps in the right direction is better than none at all. I've tried to cut our meat consumption down to once or twice a week - and when we do splurge and get a cut of something I try to make it a really quality cut of something special, not just hot dogs or McDonalds. But that leaves 5 nights a week of vegetarian meals, which has me thinking a little out of the box to keep out of a cooking rut.

Anyway, I have turned to the blogosphere for help, with mixed results; while some sites look great they will use all sorts of exotic (read: expensive!) ingredients that in reality are only found half wilted in some whole foods shop in California. Not always available here at the corner market in Austria. But there have been some good recipe sites, my favorite being Cheap, Healthy, Good - a site that focuses on all of the things I care about (included in the title) while keeping the recipes simple, satisfying and still with lots of variations.

This was a sandwich recipe I saw a few weeks ago, and they were great and easy to pull together. With so much flavor, it was easy to forget that it was meatless and makes the whole vegetarian push a little easier.

Makes about 2 big sandwiches

1 red bell pepper
quality bread. Enough for 2 sandwiches.
3 tsp olive oil
8 oz cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced (about 1 cup)
3 Tbsp feta
tomato (optional)
salt and pepper

Wash and dry the bell pepper. Place entire pepper on a baking pan or broiler pan and broil, turning every 2-3 minutes (use tongs) until all sides of the pepper are charred and black. Then remove from heat and cover. Once cool, cut off the top and remove seeds. The skin should peel easily from the flesh. Slice the pepper flesh into large strips.

Cut your bread in half, brush one side of each piece with olive oil and place oil side down in a hot pan. Heat until golden. Then remove onto a plate, toasted side down. Sprinkle Feta on the fresh side of the bread and set aside.

Heat 1 tsp olive oil over medium high heat. Add mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook until the mushrooms have released their moisture and it has mostly evaporated, stirring frequently.

Once mushrooms are done, divide evenly between sandwiches, placing them directly on top of the feta. Layer red peppers on top, and add lettuce and tomato if desired. Top with other half of bread and serve.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Sundried Tomato Hummus

I love hummus - it's so cheap and easy and delicious. And there are so many variations in the flavor - literally endless combinations of ingredients. Anyway, I read about adding sundried tomatoes and couldn't wait to try it. They add such a great punch of flavor and color, it really was great.

makes 3-4 servings

1 can garbanzo beans (about 1 cup)
1 jar sundried tomatoes (about 1 cup)
1-2 Tbsp olive oil (I used the oil from the sun dried tomatoes for extra flavor!)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 large garlic clove
1 tsp paprika
salt to taste

Using a blender, blend beans, oil, lemon juice, garlic clove, and paprika in a bowl. Chop up the tomatoes and mix them in the mix, adding salt and fresh chopped parsley until you are satisfied with the taste.

Great with vegetables, bread or on sandwiches.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Indian Butter Chicken

adapted from From Away

I love Indian food. It's so spicy and completely exotic. I would love to travel to India someday and go on a food tour - just to try out the range of spices and new flavors. Ahhh... someday! 

This recipe was good and easy to make. If you are into Indian food at all, or are wanting to try something new - give it a whirl! It could easily be made vegetarian as well by substituting the meat with eggplant or another veggie.

Serves 4-6

2 lbs chicken, cubed
8 cloves of garlic
2 tsp fresh ginger
2 Tbsp coriander powder
2 tsp cayenne pepper
salt (to taste)
vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion, chopped
2 cups water
1/4 cup cashews
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 fresno chile, seeded and diced (If you like spice!)
1/2 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup or 112 grams)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup cream
1 Tbsp garam masala
1/4 cup parsley, chopped, for a garnish

In a large bowl, toss chicken cubes, half of the garlic, 1 tsp of ginger, 1 Tbsp of coriander, 1 tsp cayenne pepper and a pinch of salt. Toss until well coated and set aside.
Heat a slash of oil in a wok, then add the marinated chicken. Cook for about 5 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
In the same skillet, add the cumin seeds, the onion, remaining garlic and ginger and saute for 20 minutes on low until the onions are soft. Then add water and stir. Add cashews, remaining coriander powder, remaining chili powder, tomatoes, the chile and stir well.
Let the sauce cook slowly over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes, until everything has mingled. Transfer the sauce to a blender (CAREFULLY!) and blend until smooth. Pour the sauce back into the wok, add the butter, tomato paste, sugar and stir will.
Finally, add the cream and reserved chicken to the sauce. Cook the chicken for a few more minutes, making sure it is cooked all of the way through. Add the garam masala and stir well. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve over rice.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Vegetarian Chickpea Curry

from Allrecipes

It was a warm Sunday afternoon and it was time to make dinner. Everything around here is closed on Sundays, and I had forgotten to pick up groceries. BOO! So I looked at the few ingredients we had around the house and miraculously found everything I needed for this recipe. And wouldn't you know, it was delicious.

I'm feeling more comfortable with curries day by day, and this one is great and so easy. You could add chilies for heat or cool it down with some plain yogurt or sour cream. Anyway, give it a try.

1 Tbsp butter
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
3 tsp curry
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp tumeric
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 can garbanzo beans
2 potatoes, chopped
1 can coconut milk (reduced fat is fine)
1-2 tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup milk
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 vegetable bullion cubes
1-2 Tbsp cornstarch or flour to thicken the sauce (optional)
almonds, for garnish
sour cream, for garnish

Melt the butter in a large wok and saute onions and garlic until the onions are soft and translucent (about 20 minutes on medium low). Add the spices and allow them to toast for 1-2 minutes.

Chop potatoes into chunks, and add the rest of the ingredients to the walk. Simmer on medium-low until the potatoes are cooked through and the flavors have mingled. If the sauce is too runny, add the cornstarch or flour to thicken it up. Serve on a hot bed of rice topped with almond slivers and sour cream.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Morning Glory Muffins

adapted from Allrecipes

Now that I'm pregnant again, I've found that if I don't eat right when I start to feel hungry that I start to feel very sick. It's horrible. And not always convenient, because you can't always choose when you are able to eat. So I've had to be prepared, and make some small nutritious things to pack with me wherever I go just in case hunger strikes.

Bring on the healthy muffins!

I noticed these muffins because the recipe was interesting and had lots of fruit and veggies in them. To be honest, when I saw the range of ingredients I was a bit skeptical on how it would taste, but I was pleasantly surprised. They are sweet and soft, with a nice island flavor of coconut and pineapple.

Makes about 24 muffins

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups grated carrots
1 medium tart apple, peeled and grated
1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple, drained (225 g)
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
In another bowl, combine eggs, applesauce, oil and vanilla and mix well. Then add carrots, apple, pineapple, coconut, rasins and nuts. Then fold in dry ingredients.

Fill greased or paper line muffin cups about 2/3 full. Bake at 350 F (176 C) for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Don't undercook! Cool for about 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Baklava Bites

I fell in love with Baklava last year. It's a Middle Eastern Pastry that is made with layers of Phyllo dough, soaked in honey and filled with nuts. Amazing. We had gotten an apartment in Vienna for a week or so while Ben worked on some projects and there was a tiny Turkish shop down the street with this AMAZING Baklava that I would buy on my way to the park every day. 

Since then I have wanted to try making it, but only until Easter felt up to the challenge. Unfortunately I went to the regular grocery store and even though I felt confident they would have Phyllo dough, they didn't. In vain, I tried to explain to the sales clerk that I needed this special dough that is Greek and very thin and you make pastries out of it (try THAT in broken German) and she lit up and showed me the regular puff pastry for making strudel, which is totally not what I needed. BOO. So I picked up a puff pastry, smiled politely and thought that I was going to figure out a way to make Baklava with puff pastry, come hell or high water.

Luckily, the internet came to the rescue and there are a million different ways of making Baklava, although this is not the traditional way of doing it.

I KNOW they must have Phyllo dough around here someplace, but I will have to try the different Middle Eastern speciality shops until I find them. And then there will be a Baklava round two!

1 package puff pastry (16 oz), room temperature
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, stir together nuts, sugar , spices and salt until well mixed. In another bowl, melt the butter and then add the honey and mix it well, then pour honey mixture into the nut mixture.

Roll out the puff pastry. Using a sharp knife, cut the pastry into 2x4 inch (5x10 cm) strips. Place a Tbsp of filling in each strip, then fold the pastry onto itself to make a pocket. You may need to wet your fingers with water to help seal the edges. Also, feel free to stuff these babies full. I had a few with less filling that weren't as good.

Place the bites on the baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes, or until the pastries are puffed and golden. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Store in an airtight container.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Copycat Caputo

When we lived in Salt Lake City, Ben's favorite restaurant there was Caputos. An Italian deli with amazing sandwiches. He and his work buddy Russ would routinely spend many dollars and hours eating there. The sandwiches were pretty amazing.

Fast forward 5 years later, Caputos is far away, but Italy itself is now in our backyard. Even better! Many of these specialty meats and cheeses are at every corner market and so Ben has been recreating this sandwich on a daily basis for lunch -- for a fifth of the price!

Here it is, Ben's version of "The Caputo"

fresh rolls (we use semolina)
provolone cheese
mortadella cheese
a fresh roll
olive oil
salt and pepper
gourmet olives

Slice up ingredients and generously layer inside the roll. Drizzle with a little olive oil and balsamic on the inside before finishing the sandwich. Having a bowl of olives is not optional. It really brings out the flavor of the sandwich and makes it ten times better.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sacher Torte

recipe adapted slightly from Epicurious

One of my favorite Austrian foods is the Sacher Torte. Invented in Vienna in the 1800's, it's one of the most famous specialities of the country and is a delicious chocolate cake with tangy apricot preserves.

I have tried making Sacher Torte four times with four different recipes and this was the first one that got it close to the real thing. Mine still wasn't as pristine as the ones you buy at the bakeries (how do they get the glaze so smooth? I MUST KNOW!) but it was just as tasty, and even better the next day.

Totally worth the effort. So have at it. Go make and enjoy a little piece of Austria for yourself.

Chocolate Cake
4 1/2 oz couverture chocolate (140 g) *Any high quality bitter chocolate would do!
1/2 cup butter (125 g)
1 cup powdered sugar
6 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup flour

Apricot Glaze
1 1/2 cup apricot jam
2 Tbsp water (or golden rum, if you want to be authentic!)

Chocolate Glaze
1  cup sugar
1/2 cup water
4 oz chocolate (113 g)

Preheat oven to 400 (200 C)

Prepare a 9" springform cake pan

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or microwave (careful not to burn it!).

Beat butter until smooth and creamy. Then add powdered sugar and beat again until smooth (about two minutes). Next, add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition and making sure to scrape down the sides. Mix in warm (not hot!) melted chocolate and vanilla.

In another bowl, whip together egg whites and 1/2 cup regular white sugar. Whip vigorously until soft peaks form, then add about half to the chocolate mix, folding in gently. Then alternate folding in the flour, then the rest of the egg whites, and finally the rest of the flour. Be gentle! Pour in pan and bake about 40 minutes, or whenever the cake is done in the center.

Let cool completely.
While cooling, prepare the apricot glaze:
Bring the apricot preserves to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Cook until the last drops that cling to the spoon are very sticky and reluctant to leave the spoon (2-3 minutes).

With a serrated knife, trim the top of the cake to make it flat. Then cut the cake in half lengthwise  to make two equal layers. Place one cake layer on an 8 inch round. Brush the top with the apricot glaze. Then place the second half on top and brush the entire thing, sides and all with apricot glaze. Be generous with the apricot, allowing it so sink into the cake. Place on wax paper and let cool until the glaze is set (30 minutes).

Start to make the chocolate glaze. In a medium saucepan over high heat, mix the sugar, water and chocolate to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium and cook uncovered, stirring, until the mixture reaches 234 F (112 C) about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir to cool and thicken slightly, about a minute. Use immediately and when pouring, do not scrape the pan.

Take the chocolate glaze (so it is fresh and warm) and pour all over the cake. Using a metal spatula, smooth the chocolate over the cake so there are no bare spots and it looks smooth and even. Put in the fridge until the glaze is set (about 1 hour).

Serve with whipped cream. This cake is even better the next day, but store it in an airtight container at room temperature.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Halloumi and Pancetta Rolls

From my friend Michelle

A couple of years ago on Christmas Eve, I looked at the Christmas dinner that I had worked at all day and decided that it just wasn't worth it. It was beautiful and the food was nice, but I was completely exhausted from preparing everything that by the time dinner started I just wanted a bowl of cereal and to curl up on the couch. SO this last year I focused on recipes that were really simple, but still special and decadent. Hopefully over time I will have a collection of great standbys that I can whip up for parties without wearing myself out over details.

ANYWAY, this is one of those recipes. It's simple and you can put it together in ten minutes before just popping it in the oven. It's not particularly diet friendly, but for a special occasion it is perfect.

Halloumi is a cheese from Cyprus and used often in Greek and Turkish food. It looks like mozzarella but is soaked in brine, which makes it fairly salty. What makes Halloumi special is it's higher-than-normal melting point, which makes it ideal for grilling and frying without melting all over the place.

Pancetta is basically the Italian version of American bacon. It isn't smoked and often has different spices, but behaves the same way and can usually be substituted with regular bacon without any problems.

Serves 5-6
9 oz Halloumi cheese (250 grams)
12 slices of bacon
1 Tbsp chopped chives
Black Pepper

Heat the oven to 400 F (200 C)

Cut the Halloumi into 12 strips, and roll the pancetta around the cheese.
Lightly season the rolls with chives and pepper. DO NOT SALT. The cheese is already quite salty and any more could push it over the edge. Put on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until the pancetta is starting to crisp and turn brown.

You can cut them in half if they are too big, or skewer with toothpicks to help keep them together. Best served warm.