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20 of July (this year) was not a typical weekend Sunday for me. Why? Because I woke up (I forced myself) at half past four so not to miss the once a year event, the famous Cook’s bal in Münich. When I woke my poor husband up first he grunted out saying that that we would be early. But he was wrong because when we arrived at 5 am around the Chinese Tower all the places had already been taken. At 5 am! I was a bit angry because I repeated him many times that that the cook’s bal is a very early morning dance-fest but it seemed he didn’t believe me. No worry because the beautiful sunrise, mysterious candle lights and a giant pretzel compensated me promptly.
The history behind the quaint little Münich tradition
Towards the end of the 19th century the city’s servants, cooks, nannies and other minions would get up early to meet and dance around the Chinese tower in Münich’s Englischer garden from about 5am to 8am. This was often the only time the lower-classes could get off work because their masters were still asleep. However, in a foreshadowing of Footloose, a party-pooping mayor banned the dance in 1904 due to “lack of morality”. But fortunatelly the Kocherlball was revived in 1989 for the 200th anniversary of the Englischer Garten and now it’s more popular than ever. I read in the today’s paper that yesterday 15,000 people flocked to the tower to recreate the old days. Yes I guessed because wherever I wanted to move I was squeezed. Many folks were dressed up, either in much-loved modern Bavarian Lederhosen or Dirndl dresses, or in period costume. Dances, including the polka, waltz and a local jig called the Münchener Francaise were performed.
But not everyone came to dance. Many were just there to enjoy the atmosphere the “darsein” (being there) and grabbed a bite to eat. I was really happy to hear of that cooks bal from my hairdresser because that wasn’t that sort of event that attracts a lot of international tourists so there’s a really authentic feeling to it all.
I can say it’s a unique and seldom experience of Munich history!
Mousse au chocolate is the best and well known French dessert. Recipes for foams both sweet and savoury ( mousse is the French word for foam) were recorded by 18th-century French cook book writer Menon. His book Suppers at Court, was published in 1755, describes Louis XV’s favourite chocolate drink as a mixture of melted chocolate, boiling water and beaten egg (white or yolk).
The 19th-century painter and fond of cooking Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec penned a similar recipe, calling it chocolate mayonnaise. These ideas were ignored by Escoffier’s Guide Culinaire (1903) with its 19 savoury mousse recipes and iced mousse desserts.
Nowadays we prepare choco mousse according to the classic ’60s chocolate mousse recipe so that we combine melted chocolate with egg yolks and beaten egg whites. The late Robert Carrier (1923-2006, American chef, culinair book author) added whipped cream, strong coffee and rum. Now, that’s my kind of choco mousse, here is the recipe:
- 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 1/4 cup super fine sugar
- 1 1/4 cups cold heavy cream
- 1/4 cup Grand Marnier
- Small chocolate shavings or chocolate nibs, for garnish
- 2 tbsp instant coffee Nestlé
- for decoration: Fresh raspberry
In the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over a pot of hot water, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring. Remove from the heat and beat with a heavy wooden spoon until smooth. Return to the heat and 1 at a time, add the yolks, beating well after the addition of each. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl.
In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks start to form. Add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and beat until stiff.
In a third bowl, beat the cream until it becomes frothy. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, coffee and the Grand Marnier and continue beating until it holds soft peaks.
Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture until no white speaks appear. Gradually fold in the whipped cream, reserving about 1/2 cup for garnish.
Transfer to a large decorative silver or glass bowl and refrigerate until well chilled.
To serve, spoon the reserved whipped cream on top and garnish with chocolate shavings or fresh raspberry.
The Kocherlball, a.k.a. the Cooks Ball, takes place in Münich-München every year on the third Sunday in July. The location is the Chinese Tower in the English Garden. This is a mix of carnival, party, and traditional costume ball. Over 10,000 usually attend for dancing, drinking, and celebrating. The party starts very early though. 5 am or even earlier! This is the tradition – the servants from times of old had to celebrate before being due in at work. The next dates is 20 of July 2014! Don’t miss it!
The dates are liable to change according to the weather. The Kocherlball tradition goes back to the year 1880. It is also known as the “Dotschen or Kocherlball”. Up to a police prohibition 1904 met here in good weather on Sunday from five to eight o’clock to the 5000 the soldiers, housemaids, cooks, hausdiener and house personnel to the dance. So early, because one had to appear timely again to the work with the rule. These old residents of Munich tradition revives today again. Thousands meet for dancing, celebrating or lunchtime drinking. In the past, the ball was only for the servants and the kitchen staff. That is why the ball is called the Kocherlball (“Koch” is German for cook). The official part of the ball starts at 10 o’clock sharp. But usually, people will go on celebrating. If you want to have a good view over the dance floor, you should be early at the Chinese tower in order to get hold of a good seat. 5 o’clock can already be too late. The Kocherlball is only put off when the weather is very bad! So CU there after 2morrow!
The courgettes have a delicate flavor and require little more than quick cooking with butter or olive oil, with or without fresh herbs. Quick cooking of barely wet zucchini in oil or butter allows the fruit to partially boil and steam, with the juices concentrated in the final moments of frying when the water has gone, prior to serving. Zucchini can also be eaten raw, sliced or shredded in a cold salad, as well as lightly cooked in hot salads, as in Thai or Vietnamese recipes. Mature zucchini are well suited for cooking in breads.
1 foccaccia bread with sesame seeds
30 g pecorino cheese
1 tbsp of good extra virgin olive oil
tomato pesto to smear the bread
Making roasted vegetables is as easy as putting them in the oven, but making the best roasted vegetables – soft and tender, browned and caramelized, full of intensified flavor – involves a few tricks as follows:
Roasted fennel: You will be totally surprised by the fact that the anise flavor in fennel will dramatically soften with roasting plus the edges get lovely crispy brown bits on them. And on the top of that the roasting fennel brings out its inherent sweetness. You can serve it with roasted meats, roast chicken, stews, or other roasted vegetables.
(You’ll see that this recipe is quite flexible – make 1 bulb of fennel or 10, it depends on how big your oven is and how many people you have to feed)!
Method: Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut the fennel into spears or bite-size chunks. Put the fennel in a roasting or baking pan. Drizzle it with olive oil and toss to coat the fennel. Sprinkle with salt, cover with foil or a lid, and bake/roast for 20 minutes. Uncover and continue roasting until fennel is tender and browned, about 20 more minutes (this may take longer, it depends on how fresh the fennel is). Serve roasted fennel warm or at room temperature.
Roasted garlic: Most of us think of garlic as an aromatic more than a vegetable, but when properly roasted garlic becomes mild enough to eat in large quantities, if one is so inclined. Or, restrain yourself and simply spread it on bread or crackers (make a garlic butter). Roasted garlic is easy to make and has many uses – as a spread, appetizer, addition to roasts, savory base of salad dressings, and garnish for soups. Low, slow roasting transforms the sharp, often bitter flavor of garlic into a smooth, silky, almost sweet concoction. This recipe is for one head of garlic, but feel free to double, triple, quadruple it – however much your oven can hold! – the principle is the same.
- Preheat an oven to 350°F. Peel off the excess papery skin from the garlic head, leaving enough peel behind to cover the cloves and hold the head together.
- For easy removal of garlic later, you can cut off the tip of each clove, but this step is purely optional and something to do if you want to save your diners the effort.
- Put the garlic in a small baking dish or other oven-proof container – a piece of foil crimped up at the edges works just fine. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Sprinkle with pepper too, if you like. Cover loosely with aluminum foil.
- Bake the garlic until it’s very tender and evenly browned, about 30 minutes. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
Roasted common and sweet poatoes: The high, dry temperature of a heated oven makes potatoes brown, crispy, tender, and delicious in this easy recipe. Roasting time will vary on the freshness (and thus moisture content) of potatoes. Fresh potatoes roast up faster (and tastier) than older, cured potatoes. But roasting is a great fall-back treatment for when you crave that special comfort that only comes from tender, easy potatoes. I usually flavor potatoes with rosemary and oregano but please feel free yourself to add other herbs, spices, or flavored salts as the mood strikes you.
- Preheat oven to 425°F (225 degrees) Scrub potatoes clean. Leave very small potatoes whole. Cut all other potatoes into bite-size pieces.
- Put potatoes in a baking pan large enough to hold them in single layer (more or less). Drizzle potatoes with olive oil and, using your hands, toss to coat potatoes thoroughly and evenly. Sprinkle with salt and toss to combine.
- Bake potatoes until browned and tender, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with black pepper, if you like, and serve hot or warm.
1 big fennel bulb, 700 gr sweet potatoes (or potatoes and sweet potatoes mixture), 1 head of garlic, 2 tbsp of olive oil, salt, pepper, 150 gr cream cheese with goat cheese, 6 tbsps of milk, 6 round crackers, lemon juice, 3 pieces of tomatoes, 6 sprigs of thyme
I cleaned all the vegetables cut them into the desired shapes (wedged the potatoes, chipped the fennel and cut the garlic horizontal) and placed them in the baking pan. I drizzled everything with lemon flavored olive oil, and I sprinkled with some salt and rosemary and tossed to combine. I cooked them until everything became nice and crispy circa 25 minutes. Meanwhile I prepared the dip from the shattered crackers with the créme fraiche, 6 tbsps of milk and goat cheese. I stired everything together and the dip was ready. I cooked the corn ears in mildy salted and sugary water and my summer veggie plate was complete!
Ingredients for the tartlettes: 4-5 sticks of rhubarb, 2 tbsp sugar, 4 tbsp oil, 1 dl grated apple, 0,5 dl low-fat milk, 2 tbsp lemon juice, seeds from 1 vanilla pod, 75 g almonds, 2,5 dl flour, 1 tbsp baking powder, 2 eggs, 1 tbsp icing sugar and some cooked rhubarb cuts and cream for decoration.
Cut the rhubarb into 1 cm thick pieces. Spread the rhubarb pieces in a small baking pan and sprinkle with the sugar. Put them in the oven at 200°C for 10-15 minutes. Pour the rhubarb into a bowl and set aside to cool. Put oil, grated apple, milk, lemon juice and vanilla seeds in a pan and bring it to a boil for a few minutes until the sugar has melted. Cool the mixture for 10 minutes. Peel the almonds and blend them well in a blender. Put flour, baking powder and almonds in a bowl. Stir the warm apple mixture in and add one egg at a time while stirring.
Divide the dough into ramekin forms and add a piece of rhubarb to each one. Bake the cake at 175°C for about 50-60 minutes. When the cake has cooled, mix the icing sugar with a little bit of water (add pink food coloring if you want) and frost the tartlettes. Sprinkle the tarts with some freeze-dried raspberries and pour over some vanilla cream or custard – and if you desire add some cream on the top. Voila the rhubarb tartlettes are ready to be served!
500 g rhubarb, 225 g caster sugar, juice of 1 lemon, 150 ml water, fresh strawberry
- Wash, trim and cut the rhubarb into 1 inch chunks.
- Place rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice and water in a pan and gently cook until soft, around 15-20 minutes.
- Allow rhubarb to cool then blend mixture in a liquidizer until smooth.
- Freeze in an air tight container stirring every hour to prevent ice crystals forming until set, around 4-6 hours. Alternatively use an ice cream maker to churn then store in an air tight container and freeze for around 4 hours until set.
- Lovely served with strawberries, baked bananas, a nutty cake (especially pistachios) or on its own!