Sunday, September 28, 2008

Celeriac schnitzel

Yes there is vegetarian schnitzel too. And I didn't came up with the name, Germans call it like that.

Celeriac is a root vegetable and it is relative of celery, but looks completely different. Raw celeriac is a little bit milder in taste than celery, and when cooked it becomes a bit sweet and nutty in taste. I really, really like it.

I don't like celery so I probably would not have given a chance to celeriac if it wasn't for my curiosity. That it was called schnitzel helped as well.

Celeriac schnitzel is coated with flour, eggs and breadcrumbs just like meat schnitzel. But it needs to be fried on low temperature as it takes some time until celeriac turns soft. I fried it in some olive oil.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Bavaria (south-east region in Germany) is the kingdom of schnitzels. And right now I happen to live in this kingdom of schnitzels. They are everywhere, meat in general for that matter. Schnitzel is originally from Austria and Bavaria used to cover part of Austria, so I guess the schnitzel tradition came along as well.

Original Vienna schnitzel is made of veal but these days they can be made of pork or chicken as well. When made of pork Germans do not call them Vienna schnitzel but "Viennese style schnitzel". Fine and fair distinction.

The meat for schnitzel needs to be around 5 millimetres thick, then it is covered in flour, dipped in beaten eggs and last in dried breadcrumbs. It is fried in lard or oil (lots of it, needs to swim in it). I fry schnitzels in clarified butte and it works like a charm. 

Schnitzels are usually eaten with potato salad and some lemon juice is squeezed on top of the schnitzel. Austrian version adds also some lingonberry as well (just like Swedish meatballs). When it comes to the Bavarian potate salad it really has become my favourite potato salad. It is creamy but has no mayonnaise or some other diary product, wonderful. Recipe coming soon!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mushroom tacos

This is the best recipe for non-meat tacos. I would normally say vegetarian but I cannot call tacos vegetarian, no no, it just doesn't feel right. I do love vegetables, a lot, but tacos are all about meat. Just not these tacos.

Anyway, I found the recipe in this book and have only changed the way of cooking the mushroom filling. Just to make sure that all flavours develop nicely I added other ingredients to the mushrooms one at the time and not all at once as the book suggests.

Mushroom tacos
500 gr mushrooms, any type you like, cut in smaller pieces
1\2 dl olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely diced
3 small onions (mild type, I used shallot), finely diced
2 tbsp dry white wine
2 medium tomatoes, diced
2 jalapeños, discard white pith, core, seeds and dice finely
1 dl coriander, chopped
corn tortillas

Heat the oil and add mushrooms. Fry until they loose their water, add garlic, onion and chili. Cook until mushroom and onions get bit of colour. Add tomatoes and wine. Cook another 2-3 minutes. Add coriander and salt. Serve in hot corn tortillas.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Corn flour for tortillas

Corn (maize) is native to Mexico and tortillas made of corn flour have been eaten as bread since ancient times. The flour for tortillas can be made of white, yellow or blue corn. It is probably the most colourful flour ever, just like Mexico is.
Before corn is ground it is soaked in lime water, which gives it a special character and taste, so it is completely different from European type of corn flour (polenta & Co.). I get my corn flour from Mexico and this is how white, yellow and blue corn flour looks like:

It was just recently I found out about yellow corn flour for tortillas (the white and blue tortillas are the most common one). To make tortillas you only need to add water and salt, mix and voilà:

To make beautiful round tortillas it is best to use tortilla machine, but of course rolling pin works as well. And after couple of minutes in a cast iron pan tortillas are ready!

There is a small difference in taste between the colors; blue and yellow one are a bit stronger in taste and white ones are milder. My favourite are blue ones, taste is great and they look so cool.
The tortilla basket is called tortillero and it keeps tortillas warm. The one I have doesn't only look cute but it is also isolated with styropor, keeps tortillas warm perfectly.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Moon cakes

This year Mid Autumn festival starts 14 of September and although I am not in China anymore I have been celebrating by baking moon cakes. Finally my moon cake molds came to use!

I found the recipe for the moon cake skin on this wonderful food blog from Hong Kong. The only ingredient I was not able to find was alkaline water. But after googling a bit more I found here that you can substitute alkaline water with baking soda mixed with water.

So I did that, and moon cake skin turned our looking really great, the taste was great, but it was not soft as it should be. Maybe because my moon cake skin was a bit thicker than usually or alkaline water is the one that makes magic. I will definitely test again when I find alkaline water.

When it comes to the filling, I knew already that I wanted to make moon cakes filled with Nutella. However, a thought of Nutella leaking out of the moon cakes when in oven discouraged me completely from even trying. And filling that holds shape when in oven is very important if you want your moon cakes to look cute with prints.

But then I found this recipe for homemade Nutella. I wanted Nutella but it had to be firm, so I added ground hazelnuts and got a paste that could hold shape. And it did taste like Nutella!

Last but not least, moon cake molds...they are brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, so easy to use and result was amazing.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Sweet salami

Here is another dessert with wafer sheets: sweet salami. I still remember very well when I had this dessert for the first time. I was around 10 years old and a cousin of my neighbour made it. I was amazed how cool it looked, I had never seen cake looking like a sausage but made of chocolate and biscuits.

The original recipe is with butter biscuits, chocolate, milk, butter and sometimes nuts. My recipe has no butter, instead I increased the amount of chocolate. I also added some popped amaranth covered with honey. But you can put any kind of biscuits, nuts (chopped, ground), chocolate....
I used one wafer sheet but you can do this cake without it as well. Form salami, let it set over night in the fridge and next day sprinkle with some powdered sugar.

Sweet salami
1 wafer sheet
200 gr chocolate
1,5 dl milk
3 dl popped amaranth
2 dl ground hazelnuts
300 gr crushed amaranth biscuits

Put wafer sheet between two wet tea towels. It needs to get soft so that you can use it as "skin" for the salami.
Crush biscuits and mix with amaranth and hazelnuts. Chop chocolate, heat milk and pour over chocolate, stir until melted. Pour over biscuits and blend well. Let sit for 15 minutes.
The texture should not be too dry or too wet. You should be able to form salami that can hold its shape. If necessary add more dry or wet ingredients.

Put salami at one end of the wafer sheet (rough side up) and role until salami is covered with the wafer sheet. You can also make 2 or 3 thinner salamis if you want. Wrap salami tightly with cling film and put it in the fridge. From time to time turn salami so that it doesn't get too flat.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Wafer sheets

If you have ever been in Eastern Europe you have probably seen a dessert made with wafer sheets. In Bosnia and Herzegovina cake made with wafer sheets is called oblande.

Oblande can be filled with different kind of creams and pastes, there are endless combinations. This is a cake that let you be creative as much as you want. The most traditional filling is made of dried figs and walnuts which have been mixed with cooked cream made of sugar, milk and butter.

Well, I had a can of dulce de leche at you see where I am going here? I added 200gr ground walnuts and 200 grams finely diced dried figs. As simple as that is this delicious dessert. And it looks quite cool as well.

I used only 4 wafer sheets, there are usually 5 in the package. Here in Germany (I am back in Europe) you can find these wafer sheets in Turkish food stores.