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Discovery of a beautiful Bavarian “witch” and of a cake

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blutenburg 201Halloween is just around the corner! It’s time to put together the final pieces of your costumes, pick out pumpkins to carve, and do some decorating. Treats for your friends and for yourself with an excellent historical cake to get in the Halloween spirit.pumpkins

The discovery of a beautiful Bavarian”witch” and her cake

Last week because the weather was so marvellous I decided to go for a ride tour in Bavaria. First I visited the botanical garden of Nymphenburg but because of the crowd I left for the adjacent village called Pasing. On my way suddenly I saw a small but very beautiful fortress which I haven’t noticed so far. So I stopped there I got off my bike and entered. Soon I learned that the castle was built in the 13th century and it had a very ominous name: Blutenburg which means in English “Bloody fortress”. Must be some tragedy happened here.-I thought and I was right. The mansion belonged to Albert III, the Duke of Bavaria. It was built in 1438–39 as a hunting-lodge, replacing an older castle burned down in war. (The origin of this fortress was a moated castle in the 13th century). Albert’s frequent residence at Blutenburg Castle beginning in 1433 because he fell in love with a beauty from Augsburg.

The witch and her cake

Agnes Bernauer was probably born around 1410; but nothing is known of her childhood and youth. She is traditionally considered to have been the daughter of the Augsburg barber surgeon Kaspar Bernauer, whose existence has, however, not yet been proved. Since the son of the Bavarian duke Albert III participated in a tournament and carnival in Augsburg in February 1428, it is generally assumed that he met Agnes on that occasion and shortly thereafter brought her to Munich.In a Munich tax roll dated 1428, a “pernawin” is listed as a member of his royal household, which is probably a reference to Agnes Bernauer.

In summer 1432 at the latest, Agnes Bernauer was an integral part of the Munich court. She took part in the capture of the robber baron Münnhauser, who had fled to the Old Court in Munich, and she annoyed the Palatine Countess Beatrix, Albert’s sister, because of her self-assured manner. It is possible that Agnes and Albert were already married at this point, but there is no concrete evidence of a marriage ceremony. There is no evidence of joint residence in Albert’s county of Vohburg, and there are no known descendants of the couple.blutenburg 212

But Duke Ernest, Albert’s father, was infuriated by the threat to the succession posed by his only son’s unsuitable liaison. While Albert was on a hunt arranged by his relative Henry of Bavaria-Landshut, Duke Ernest had Agnes arrested and drowned in the Danube River on 12 October 1435 near Straubing. When Albert discovered his father’s intrigue he became so upset that he didn’t want to see him again so that he went to Ingolstadt to Duke Louis VII (his cousin’s), but after a few months he was reconciled with his father and married Anna of Brunswick in November 1436. The feared military conflict between father and son did not materialze; it is possible that Emperor Sigismund (Hungarian king) exerted a restraining effect on Albert. But Albert couldn’t forget his great love. In December 1435, he endowed a perpetual mass and an annual memorial celebration in the Straubing Carmelite Cloister in memory of Agnes Bernauer. In 1436, his father had an Agnes Bernauer Chapel erected in the cemetery of St. Peter Straubing, probably to appease his son. It is not known whether Agnes was buried in the Carmelite cloister, which was her wish, or whether Albert arranged for the transfer of her mortal remains to the chapel dedicated to her. In any event, a tombstone of red marble with an almost life-size effigy of Agnes Bernauer was fitted into the floor of the chapel. The relief shows her lying with her head on a large pillow. In her right hand, on which she wears two rings, she holds a rosary, and two small dogs at her feet are there to guide her on her way to the hereafter. It was probably an oversight that the year of her death is incorrectly given there as 12 October 1436.

Agnes’s life and death have been depicted in numerous literary works, the most well known being Friedrich Hebbel’s tragedy of the same name and the folk musical Die Bernauerin by the composer Carl Orffblutenburg 196

Agnes Bernauer cake

If you visit Straubing you can find not only streets and sacrelidge places that are named after Agnes but you can also enjoy the world famous piece of cake the Agnes-Bernauer-Torte. How can I describe? It is a layered cake, filled with almond meringue and mocha butter cream, and on the top roasted almonds and nuts feature in this rich, but “oh so good sweet treat!” It is heavenly but extremely filling. How interesting that such an awful story be commemorated with cake but I’m glad for it because the cake is sooo delicious!

Ingredients: 200 gr almond, 350 gr powder sugar, 80 gr flour, 2 kk cinnamon, 7 egg whites, 500 ml milk, 1 pack of vanilla  pudding, 2-2 tbsp of instant coffee  3 tbs sugar, 250 gr butter, 200 gr almond for the top

Directions: Combine the ground almonds with the sugar, flour, pinch of salt and cinnamon together. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites by adding 150 g sugar until stiff then add to it the dry ingredients. Mix everything together well . Prepare 5-7 pieces of wax paper, depending on how many layers you want for your cake, and smear to parchment papers evenly. When you are ready then place the bases into the preheated oven and bake them at 170 ° C. You must bake each layers first for 20 minutes, (covered with waxed paper) then without waxed paper for further 5 max. 10 min. Allow doughs to cool.

Meanwhile prepare the pudding according to the instruction, add the milk to the custard powder with 3 tablespoons of sugar, 2 teaspoons of coffee powder and mix with a fork until smooth. Then, whip the butter by adding the powdered sugar.  add butter cream to the cooled pudding (making sure that the butter is at room temperature). Lubricate each layers in butter cream pudding.

At the final touch: roast almonds in a frying pan without adding any fat. Coat the top of the cake with the remaining cream and sprinkle the top of the cake with the roasted almond. Let it stand at least for 2 hours in the refrigerator. Before serving sieve some powder sugar over the top.

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Normand pear tart

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Spain and France 2014 September 127This is a classic French fruit tart made with a crispy, flaky pastry crust, filled with crème pâtissière and topped with pears and cinnamon.

Pears

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 kg firm but ripe Bosc pears, peeled (each about 7 ounces)

Crust

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

Filling

1 litre milk
100 g flour
200 g sugar
4 eggs
1 package vanilla sugar

Preparation

For pears:
Bring 4 cups water, sugar, and lemon juice to boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add pears. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until pears are very tender, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool pears in syrup. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

For  the crust:
Blend powdered sugar, almonds, and salt in processor until nuts are finely ground. Add butter and blend until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Mix in egg yolk. Add flour. Using on/off turns, blend until dough comes together in clumps. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 3 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

For the cream filling:
Mix egg yolk and sugar. Add flour to egg and sugar mixture. Pour the half of the milk over egg mixture and stir until everything becomes homogen. Flavour milk with vanilla aroma. Add the rest of the milk and cook under luke warm temperature until cream starts to ticken.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Roll out chilled dough on floured sheet of parchment paper to 12-inch round, lifting and turning dough occasionally to free from paper. Using paper as aid, turn dough into 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom; peel off paper. Seal any cracks in dough. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold overhang in, making double-thick sides. Pierce crust all over with fork. Freeze crust 10 minutes.

Line crust with buttered foil, buttered side down, then fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake crust until sides are set, about 20 minutes. Remove foil and beans. Bake crust until sides are golden and bottom is set, pressing with back of fork if crust bubbles, about 10 minutes longer. Cool crust in pan on rack. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

Spread cream filling evenly in crust. Stem pears and cut each in half lengthwise; scoop out cores. Gently press each pear half to fan slices but keep slices tightly overlapped. Slide spatula under pears and arrange atop filling like spokes of wheel with narrow ends in center.

Bake tart until golden and tester inserted into center of filling comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool tart in pan on rack. Push pan bottom up, releasing tart from pan. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.) Cut tart into wedges; sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired, and serve.

Norman apple tart

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october 2014 180

Norman apple tart is a shortcrust pastry-based (pâte brisée) variant of the apple tart made in Normandy filled with apples, sliced almonds and sugar topped with creamy egg custard tart and baked until the topping is slightly caramelized. It is also known in French as the Tarte Normande.

You can make just in one of two sizes, one of which is just under one third of a metre in diameter, and a smaller variety, between a half and one third the diameter of the larger type.

The key difference from other similar cakes are that other egg-custard tarts -for instance popular in the UK-, do not have the apple and almond topping.

Other apple tarts that probably originate in Normandy include a variety which, instead of egg-custard, has a layer of almond paste, or almond and apple paste, or frangipane almond pastry all topped with a pattern of semi-circular apple slices (some are decorated with a pastry lattice and most are made with short crust pastry).

In Belgium the French bakers chain Paul sells Flan Normand under this product name (see pics) and with apparently close adherence to the traditional 19th century recipe, where the topping and overall appearance is ‘rustic’ but I wanted to make an artisanal ‘French Apple Tart’ without any egg-custard just with semi-caramelized apple slices and without any almonds or nuts.

Ingredients for the pastry:

200 grs flour

100 grs butter

1 pinch of salt

3 teaspoons of powder sugar

3-4 spoons of cold water

For the top: 1000 grs of apples, peeled, sliced, 50 gr of sugar, 100 ml Calvados liqueur, 100 ml milk or cream,

you can use: cinnamon and sugar mixture, or almond and sugar mixture

Methods:

1. For the crust: place dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter and pulse, until the butter is in small crumbly bits. While the motor is running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. (You may not need all of the water.  You don’t want your dough to be too soft and sticky). Place on a floured surface and knead quickly into a ball. Roll the dough out to fit the pan you are using.Trim the edges.  Place in the refrigerator to chill while you are preparing your apples.

2. Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife. Slice apples crosswise in 1/4 inch thick slices.  Place overlapping slices around the perimeter of your tart pan and continue until you can not bend the apples enough to place them without gaps (about half way). Microwave the remaining sliced apples for 1 minute in the microwave or until they are more pliable and soft. This will enable you to bend the apples and finish overlapping them and to curl the middle slice resemble a flower in bloom. Sprinkle the entire sugar/cinnamon mixture evenly over apples. Pour over cream and Calvados mixture or butter all around evenly.

Bake for 30 minutes to 40, until the crust is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown. Rotate the pan once during cooking. If the dough puffs up in one area, simply poke it with a fork or knife and it will go down.  Keep an eye on your tart periodically during baking in case this happens. Let it cool to room temperature but in Normandy the custom is to eat until it is still warm.

Spain and France 2014 September 126

Plum mousse with dessert liqueur

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Plum mousse 019This is a delicious fruity mousse with a great plum tang, making good use of plums, especially handy at that time of year when you have too many plums! The preparation time is mostly waiting time for the mixture to chill sufficiently.

Ingredients: 1 (.25 ounce) package unflavored gelatin, 2 cups plums, pitted and sliced or 1 can of plum in syrup, 1/2 cup white sugar (optional), 1/2 cup hot water, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 cup evaporated milk, Cointreau or other dessert liqueur

Directions

If you choose the fresh fruit then place the pitted and sliced plums into a saucepan over medium-low heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the plums are soft, 5 to 10 minutes. If the mixture becomes too thick or starts to burn, add a tablespoon of water. Remove from heat, and allow to cool.

Dissolve the gelatin in 1/2 cup of hot water in a bowl, and stir in the cooled plums, sugar, and lemon juice. Mix until the gelatin and sugar have dissolved. Chill the plum mixture in refrigerator until it begins to thicken, about 30 minutes. Whip the evaporated milk with the sweet dessert liqueur in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer until thick, then gently spoon the whipped milk into the plum mixture. Beat again with electric mixer until the dessert is fluffy and well combined. Chill for at least 3 hours before serving.

If you use canned plums then you need: 1 jar or 1 can of plum, 1 egg white, 1/2 cup evaporated milk (without sugar) but you don’t need any additional sugar!

Directions

Whisk egg white until stiff. Place plums from the jar into an electric mixer without liquid and blend them with the stiff egg white together until mixture begins to ticken. Flavour with one teaspoon of cinnamon and with 1 spoon of sweet liqueur. Regfrigerate until serving. Decorate with mint leave.

The World 50 most delicious foods: The Hainanese chicken rice

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22250d8a64286340_Thumb_xxxlargeDo you know the TV show My Kitchen Rules? If not here is some information for you: The MKR is an Australian competitive cooking game show broadcast on the Seven Network since 2010. In the show they are teams of two contestants with pre-existing relationships—from New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, and Western Australia—competing against each other to “transform an ordinary home into an instant restaurant complete with theme and table decorations for one pressure-cooker night.”  Each episode focused on one team’s day of cooking, setting up their instant restaurant and serving a three-course dinner—(entrée, main, and dessert)—for the judges and their opposing teams. Teams could only start cooking three hours before the other teams and judges arrived at their house. After the team served all three meals to the judges and their opposition, each opposing team had to rate the total meal out of ten, then each main judge had to rate each of the three courses separately out of ten. The lowest scoring team would be then at risk of elimination. After the instant restaurant topic, the remaining teams compete in a four-round format such as: People’s choice challenge- Food truck- Rapid cook off- Show down- Sudden death. Then in the finals round consists of three rounds: two sets of semifinals, and a grand final. All follow a sudden death cook-off format where in teams will produce a three-course meal for the main judges and for the four guest judges. Teams will be scored their total meal out of ten by the judges and the lower scoring team will be eliminated.

The Hainanese chicken

In 2013 my fav cooking personalities were the childhood best friends Sophia Pou, 30, and Ashlee Pham 29, of Cabramatta, who made such a turbulence when they appeared in the first show saying that: we joined the cast as “gate crashers”, and we promise to take the cooking competition by storm”. And they did! But although their big egos and bitchiness had proven controversial, much of the entertainment of the fourth season had come from Sophia’s and Ashlee’s withering put downs. Pou, who was a communications student, had Cambodian heritage and Pham, a blogger and photographer, was of Vietnamese descent, but they said their cooking were “distinctly Australian”.

What I really enjoyed among the hot-tempered duo’s presented dishes were the number of Vietnamese-inspired meals: for instance the Hainanese chicken rice. And since my husband’s favorite soup is the Pho Bo I was really curious how would they prepare it. It was very useful that meanwhile they were cooking the Hainanese chicken with rice, Ashlee gave some explanation saying that that the Hainanese chicken is originated from the Hainan province in southern China. It is considered one of the national dishes of Singapore but very popular in Malaysian, Hainanese and Singaporean cuisines, although it is also the main dish in Thailand and Vietnam. It is based on a well-known Hainanese dish called Wenchang chicken, due to its adoption by the Hainanese overseas Chinese population in the Nanyang area (present-day Southeast Asia).

The chicken was prepared in traditional Hainanese methods which involved steeping the entire chicken at sub-boiling temperatures in a pork and chicken bone stock, reusing the broth over and over and only topping it up with water when needed, in accordance with the Chinese preferences for creating master stocks. This stock was not used for rice preparation, which instead involves chicken stock created specifically for that purpose, producing an oily, flavourful rice sometimes known as “oily rice” with Southeast Asian pandan leaves added sometimes. Some cooks may add coconut milk to the rice, reminiscent of the Malay dish nasi lemak-said Sophia but we didn’t.

The Hainanese prefers using older, plumper birds to maximize the amount of oil extracted, thus creating a more flavorful dish. Over time, however, the dish began adopting elements of Cantonese cooking styles, such as using younger birds to produce more tender meats. In another variation, the bird is dipped in ice after cooking to produce a jelly-like skin finishing, commonly referred to as Báijī for “white chicken”, in contrast to the more traditional Lǔjī (stock chicken) or Shāojī  (roasted chicken). In Singapore, the meat is cooked by steeping in water flavored with garlic and ginger instead, with the resulting stock used in the preparation of the rice and also in the accompanying soup.

They are authentically served with a hot chilli sauce dip (made up of freshly minced red chilli and garlic). The dip is usually topped with dark soy sauce and a heap of freshly pounded ginger. Fresh cucumber in chicken broth and light soy sauce are served with the chicken. They are now served mostly boneless in Singapore or Malaysia.

Catherine Ling of CNN described Hainanese chicken rice as one of the “40 Singapore foods we can’t live without” and it is also listed at number 45 on World’s 50 most delicious foods (complied by CNN Go in 2011)

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With minced meat stuffed endives

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Gap 037Ingredients: 300 gr of minced meat, 1 small onion, 1 teaspoon of thyme, 1 teaspoon of oregano, salt and pepper

for the roux: 2 tbsp of oil, 2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons flour, 1 1/2 cups cream or milk, heated, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan,

4 small to medium Belgian endive, salt and freshly ground black pepper, vegetable cooking spray, chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Special equipment: small rectangular baking dish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the baking dish with cooking spray

1. Prepare the roux: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add in the milk, whisking constantly. Allow the mixture to cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce begins to thicken, about 8 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the mustard, and 1/4 cup shredded cheese.

2. Prepare the minced meat: peel onion and chop finelly. Heat oil or butter and soaté the minced meat in it. Flavor the meat with salt and pepper and toss some thyme, and oregano. Steam it for 3-4 minutes. If you like you can add a tablespoon of ketchup or tomato from can. Put meat aside.

3. Meanwhile, cut off the woody stems of the endives (they are bitter) cut them in half and make a deep slit into them lengthwise. Place a small slice of Parmesan cheese and spoon on the top of each endives the minced meat. Scatter some bread crumbles on each then place the endives, seam-side down, in the prepared baking dish.

4. Stir the sauce to blend the cheese into the mixture and pour over the endives. Cover with foil and cook for 25 minutes. Uncover, and add the remaining 1/4 cup shredded cheese. Raise the heat to 400 degrees F and cook for 10 minutes more. Let cool a few minutes before serving. Sprinkle with parsley to garnish.

Cook’s Note: If Belgian endive is not available it can be substitute with small wedges of Chinese cabbage and increase the cooking time by 10 minutes.Gap 038

 

October fest in Münich in 2014

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P1000426Munich’s largest and most traditional festival, the October fest has come to the end on 6th of October. There were traditional beers (teetotallers did’t need to worry: sodas and water were also available), people could dive in the traditional Bavarian food such as pretzels (with a diameter of 15 inches) Scnitzels from pork and beef, saussages etc. They could enjoy to listen to live brass bands playing traditional Bavarian music as well as more up-to-date music, and had fun with hundreds of other people from all over the world, dancing and singing the hours away.

The balance of the 181st Oktoberfest in 2014 was: 6,3 millions visitors, 6,5 millions mass beers. According to the police there were less reported crime acts than the previous year – nevertheless, there were some absurd cases. Mr Dieter Reiter, the new mere of Münich about evaluating the Wiesn said that: “It is a bad habit of the October fest that the big binge had to be finished urgently. -Heaping up one litre beer in 1 minute, it nuts don’t you think? -he joked on the last day of the closing ceremony of the fest. According to Mr Reiter and the organizer of the Wiesn-Chef Josef Schmid the October fest in 2014 was an exciting but calm, with non-stop celebrating of the hops and the beer with an extremely buzy second weekend”. In numbers: there were estimated 6,3 millions guests, 6,5 millions Mass (jars of) beers were drunken, 112 oxens were eaten up, plus 48 calves, and 112 000 jars were stolen.

Some details of the event

The metro station at Theresien wiese, near the October fest had to be closed down for 150 times, because of the huge traffic jam. Approximately 3,7 million additional foot gangers passed through there on the last Saturday. Just alone the last long weekend the station was closed 22 times. Moreover the Deutsche Bahn (metro) counted 100 000 extra passengers per day in the course of the 16 days maze and had to provide of 500 additional trains.

Until Sunday morning 3646 lost objects were delivered to the lost objects station. Among those 900 ID, 530 purse, 330 cell-phones, 31 photo cameras, 4 tickets of FC Bayern against Hannover, two wedding rings, one cat transporting box. As Josef Schmid’d observed the visitors were more alerted this year meant that less wallets and money were stolen than in the previous year.

“Breath taking singers ensured the good atmosphere such as Helene Fischer, whose song is the Breath-taking night was big hit. On the second place there was a tie because Andreas Bourani and Hubert von Goiserns, the latter with the funny song “Brenna tuats guat” in strong Bavarian accent-were equaly hilarious”-said Mr Schmid on Sunday with veiled voice.” Na ja! Everything was breath-taking, except the weather.P1000429dirndli 024

More than 2000, mostly volunteer from the Red Cross were in charge until Sunday and took care of 7914 patients (last year 7324) but only 3603 required doctor’s help (in 2013: 3536).

681 people were treated for “intoxication”, all due to too much alcohol consumption- but there were also cases of so called “mixed poisoning” (there were more than last year: 638). The first alcohol toxication was reported in the 125th minutes (next after the tapping of the first barrel which is a tradition of the October fest) and the first patient was taken immediatelly to the Wiesn paramedical station. In the previous year the same story happened already before the official grand opening of the festival. To sum up the October fest, the good news was that the number of intoxicated teens (under aged from 16) had decreased half of it compared to last year.

The police also lit a bonfire because of the less offenses on the biggest folk fest of the world. However 720 people were arrested which were 39 less than last year. Though there were some resistance; thereupon 13 officer were injured- ” from bite injuries to violations”,- told us the police representative, Wolfgang Wenger.

I can’t resist to tell you two funny cases of the Wiesn-operations: the first On the last weekend the police had to interfering in one quarrel at a Fish and bread stall about an arbitration. The client, appearantly by mistake, got a Deko-plastic sandwich instead of a real sandwich and therefore he became terribly upset.

The other case happened on the last Friday evening of the Fest at late night: a 44-years old man who participated on the Monster Ghoast train entertainment prostrated a monster. The man was so frightened by a ghost that he jumped out of the train (cab) and tore the “enemy” in pieces. Due to the attack the monster was completely destroyed so that the owner has claimed for compensation.P1000511

Another good news is that until the last day of the festival all lost items were found and ‘d been returned to the major Police Station. The bad news is for the beer garden and tent owners that they will never get back the stolen beer jars since hunting them has become a national sport, people take them as a souvenir. But considering that that one beer costs 10,50 Euros I don’t think that it is a crime! The successful hunters pilfered 112 000 “Maß” jars (1 liter last year only 81 000 were missing or stolen)