Archive for March, 2008

Spargelzeit…

March 31, 2008
risottoplate.jpg

In Germany, there is a fifth season. During the spring, there is a time dedicated solely to asparagus (Spargelzeit), which in Germany is the absolute symbol of spring. A huge deal is made out of this by marketers and consumers alike (speaking of marketers, I now have the stupid jingle for Thomy hollandaise sauce for Spargel in my head, and I know everyone who has ever watched TV in Germany in the spring knows what I am talking about), and this was very intriguiging to my husband when he moved here, since every single restaurant was advertising it and you could
eat it just about as ubiquitously as Berlin’s n°1 food — the curry wurst. The region around Berlin is particularly known for a thick white asparagus, the Beelitzer Spargel; but I personally really like the green kind, which has only been available for a few years here.

Anyway, enough silly stories. I like asparagus in a risotto, so here goes.

heads.jpgherbs.jpg

Asparagus Risotto with Herbs

prep time: 10min, cooking time: 20-25 min

heavy saucepan

a bunch of asparagus (about 500 g), washed and roughly chopped with heads reserved
3 tbsp of various fresh chopped herbs (I used basil, parsley and cilantro)
1 small onion, diced
2 cups of risotto rice
5 cups of chicken/vegetable broth, hot
2 tbsp of butter
lots of parmesan
olive oil

Break of the ends of the asparagus, remove the heads and chop into bits. Melt 1 tbsp butter with some olive oil in a heavy saucepan and add the onion and about half the herbs. Fry on low heat until translucent. Add the rice and stir until translucent. Add the chopped asparagus, stirring until everything is well coated in the butter/olive oil.

stirring.jpg

Slowly add about 1 cup of the hot broth to the rice, stirring until the liquid has been absorbed. Kepp adding broth while stirring, until the rice has softened. When the rice still has some bite to it, add the reserved asparagus heads and the rest of the herbs. Turn of the heat, add the other tbsp of butter and parmesan to taste. Cover and let it rest for a few min before serving.

This is my basic way of doing risotto, you can subsitute the add on ingredients and some wine/vermouth for one cup of liquid if you like. You could also be extra indulgent and serve it with a dollop of mascarpone

A Trifle for Easter

March 24, 2008
trifle.jpg

Easter sunday in Berlin was looking a lot like Christmas what with the snow and the cold, and my hailing of spring a few weeks ago was feeling more ridiculous by the minute. To make matters worse, nearly all of our guests cancelled due to illnesses of all sorts, and we were left with an enormous lamb shoulder and only 3 1/2 people to eat it.

Everything turned out well in the end, however. The shoulder was nearly entirely eaten, as were the easter eggs and the trifle of sorts that had been planned for dessert. I still had some poundcake left (ok, I didn’t just happen to have some left, I actually had to pry it away from my husband’s hands who wasn’t too pleased about it!) and I had an idea to make a white chocolate whipped cream and raspberry fool to go with it.

The chocolate whipped cream I made up as I went, helped by this recipe. The dessert wasn’t really a trifle, more a sor tof layered dessert thingie — which sounds absolutely tempting, admit it — and so I layered away and am calling it a trifle for the purpose of google searches (Oh, I must share those some day, BTW. Hilarious what people google before they end up here!).

whitechoccream.jpg

‘Trifle’

prep time: 15min

mixing bowl, saucepan

100 g white chocolate
1 cup of whipping cream
1 Tbsp mascarpone
a good handful of raspberries fresh or frozen or more to your liking
pound cake, sliced.

Set the raspberries to defrost slightly if they are frozen. Melt the chocolate with 2 Tbsp of cream in a double boiler until dissolved. Set to cool. Whip the cream together with the mascarpone until soft peaks form. Pour one half of the cream into the cooled melted chocolate to temper it. With the mixer beating, pour the chocolate cream into the bowl with the mixed cream in a steady stream and beat until whipped to your liking. Chill, covered in the fridge until serving.

Arrange the pound cake slices, cream and raspberries in layers on a plate or in a pretty glass. Serve.

More From the Healthy Ones

March 22, 2008
fennelslaw.jpg

After having made this salad (and yes, I am quoting myself — sue me!) approximately 100 times in the last weeks, we all got a little bored of broccoli. This is when I remembered a similar take on raw vegetables with fennel. It’s more of a guideline than a recipe and (i feel supremely pontifying typing these words) you can use the base with many different vegetables.

The fun thing about this salad and the other one, is the classic combo of acid and salt, somewhat like a salt and vinegar chip. You could replace the fennel with carrots, or green beans or cooked potatoes even.

Fennel Slaw with Toasted Sesame

prep time: 10min, marinate for as long as you can stand!

1-2 fennel bulbs cut in thin slices, with a mandoline if you have one you showoff, you!
juice of one big lemon
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sesame seeds
olive oil

In a salad bowl, mix the lemon juice and salt. Add the sliced fennel and toss to combine. Heat up a pan on high heat and toast the sesame until fragrant. Sprinkle still hot over the fennel and add olive oil. Eat straight up or let it marinate a while.