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Deep fried zucchini flower stuffed with ricotta

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Last week I went to Pentenried (a small village near Münich/Bavaria/Germany) and I picked up some beautiful zucchini flowers. Then I got the next recipe from my Italian friend Luca, whose sister has a restaurant in Pontremoli (Toscana). So the recipe is from an absolute reliable source!

By the way the zucchini flower has got to rank as one of the most exquisite and delicious vegetable treats ever! You can vary the stuffing – or even leave it out altogether – and the dish will still be fantastic

Ingredients: 8–12 zucchini flowers, Sunflower oil, for deep-frying
For the filling: 100g ricotta, 2 good tablespoons grated Parmesan, hard goat’s cheese or other well-flavored hard cheese, a large handful of mixed herbs, such as parsley and chives with a little marjoram or thyme, or parsley and a little mint, finely chopped, Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the batter: 100g plain flour, 40g corn flour, ½ teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon sea salt, 200–225ml ice-cold sparkling mineral water to finish, flaky sea salt

Directions: For the filling, beat the ricotta until soft and smooth then stir in the cheese, herbs and some salt and pepper. Carefully scoop the filling into the zucchini flowers: you should get 2–4 teaspoons in each one, depending on size. Twist the petals gently to enclose the mixture.
Just before you’re ready to cook, prepare the batter. Sift the flour, corn flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Begin whisking in the water, until you have a batter the thickness of single cream. Be careful not to over-mix and don’t worry if there are a few lumps.
Meanwhile, heat about a 6cm depth of oil in a deep-fat fryer or deep, heavy saucepan (to come no more than a third of the way up the pan), till a cube of bread dropped in turns golden brown in about 1 minute.
Dip one stuffed zucchini flower into the batter and immediately lower into the hot oil. Repeat with a couple more; do not cook more than 3 or 4 at a time. Cook for 1–2 minutes, until puffed up, crisp and golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper while you cook the remaining flowers.
Serve as soon as possible, sprinkled with a little flaky sea salt.

Pistachio-marzipan rose petal cake in the Rose Island

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Today I’ve made again my 100 kms bike tour around the Lake Starnberg but at this time after leaving behind the village Tutzing I stopped at the Feldafing park. I let my bike to “rest” and just for change I went to the Rose Island by a special, historical boat. When we got out, we found ourselves in a charming island. What I’ve learned of it was the next: The Rose island in Lake Starnberg (Germany, Bavaria) is the only island in the lake and site of a royal villa of King Ludwig II of Bavaria which had been commissioned by his father. He was particularly attached to this place and made frequent renovations of the small garden and the villa, which is called Casino. Guests on the island were the composer Richard Wagner, his close friend Prince Paul of Thurn and Taxis, Empress Elisabeth of Austria and Czarina Maria Alexandrovna of Russia. The villa is today a small museum, open to the general public.

More details of the Rose island
In 1853 King Maximilian II of Bavaria commissioned Peter Joseph Lenné to design a landscape park on the west shore of the Starnberger See. The park, which combines decorative formal and natural landscape elements, was laid out by Carl von Effner. The palace commenced much later in 1863 was abandoned on the early death of the king in March 1864 (blood poisoning). Rose Island with its small island villa, the “Casino”, and a rose garden also designed by Lenné, became one of the favorite places of Maximilian’s son Ludwig II.
Feldafing Park-Rose blossom
Usually the first blossom begins around mid-June, the second around mid-August, each lasting for about 4 weeks. Depending on the climate the roses may bloom (even weeks) earlier or later.

Monument under water
The remains of prehistoric pile dwellings on the bottom of Lake Starnberg by Rose Island have been included on UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage list.
In June 2011, over 100 selected archaeological sites in several countries were declared cultural heritage under the heading of “Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps”. They provide researchers with unique insights into the ancient world of farming, everyday life, agriculture, animal breeding and technical innovations. The pile dwelling sites in Lake Starnberg, together with other remains of settlements, represent an archaeological heritage which dates back to 5000 BC.
Of course in Germany you are obliged to eat a cake and drink coffee in the afternoon. Since I love desserts I couldn’t resist to eat a piece of pistachio-marzipan rose petal cake! It was delicious! But I ate it when I returned from the Rose island since over there is not allowed to eat or drink.(You can organize parties, receptions or wedding ceremonies in the Casino’s basement)
The Lake Starnberg is located in southern Bavaria 25 kilometres (16 mi) southwest of Munich, Lake Starnberg is a popular recreation area for the city and, since 1976, one of the wetlands of international importance protected by the Ramsar Convention. The small town of Berg is famous as the site where King Ludwig II of Bavaria was found dead in the lake in 1886. Because of its associations with the Wittelsbach royal family, the lake is also known as Fürstensee (Prince’s Lake). It is also mentioned in T. S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land P1080732

Veggie plate with parsnip purée

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Ingredients: 1 broccoli flower, 3 carrots, 2-3 potatoes, 1 onion, 1 clove garlic, fresh grated ginger, 1 teaspoon curry, 1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tbsp mirin, 1 tbsp honey, 3 tbsp oil, water
Method: Wash and clean the vegetables then cut and chop them for the desired sizes. Heat oil in a saucepan then fry chopped onion and garlic and ginger first. Add vegetables to them. Fry them for two minutes then pour over 200 ml water. Spice with curry, spoon over soy sauce and mirin (Japanese rice vinegar). Salt and pepper to taste. Let the veggies to cook until they are tender. Before finishing add honey to get an extra flavor!

Prepare parsnip
ingredients: 3 medium sized parsnips, salt and pepper, 200 ml cream, 1 teaspoon of thyme or 2 sprigs, 1 clove garlic, olive oil

Method: Put parsnips in pot, season with salt and cover with water. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook until tender – the tip of a paring knife should easily go through without resistance, approximately 15 minutes.
In a medium saucepan place the cream, thyme sprigs and garlic clove over low heat and bring to a simmer.
Drain parsnips and reserve cooking liquid. Place parsnips in a food processor with butter, or extra-virgin olive oil and a couple of tablespoons of reserved cooking liquid. Begin to process and add strained heavy cream mixture. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and puree until very smooth. Serve broccoli, carrot dish with parsnip purée!

Eating in an abbey

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To visit the Park Abbey (“Abdij van Park” in Dutch) has always been one of our favorite walks in Leuven. What I have known about it previously that it was founded by the Premonstratensian order or ‘White Canons’ in the 12th century. At its apogee owned around 8600 acres of land in more than 130 villages, of which 103 acres remain today. They are covered with meadows, orchards, a garden, four fishponds and several buildings from the 17th and 18th century in a vast walled precinct. Apart from the monastery proper, there is a church with a churchyard, a farm with a huge tithe barn and stables, a water mill, and four gates.
When I lived in Belgium for 15 years the Park Abbey was invisible it led a secret life, but a heaven of peace quietly withering away. Things are changing rapidly as more and more building has been restored and ‘given a new purpose’ to attract more visitors. In the meantime, the grounds are a building site with a huge crane and mud. The water mill (1534) and St. John’s gate have been already converted to a restaurant and café and St. Mary’s Gate now houses the International Centre for the Study of Music in the Low Countries. A new museum and an activity farm for children are planned. On a Sunday in July we even found a flea market on the lawn, complete with beer truck and all. Sellers had been allowed to plough through the grass to park their car next to their stand. A sad sight. To top it all, heavy rains had caused a dyke burst and, as a consequence, one of the ponds had emptied itself completely.
History
Park Abbey (Dutch: Abdij van ‘t Park; also Parc Abbey) is a Premonstratensian abbey in Belgium, at Heverlee south of Leuven, in the Flemish Brabant.
The Annales Parchenses were written here in the 12th century. The abbey was founded in 1129 by Duke Godfrey, surnamed “Barbatus” (“the Bearded”), who possessed an immense park near Leuven and had invited the Premonstratensians to take possession of a small church he had built there.
Walter, abbot of St Martin’s, Laon, brought a colony of his canons and acted as their superior for nearly three years, until the canons, now in sufficient number, elected Simon, another canon of Laon, as their abbot. The canons performed the general work of the ministry in the district of Leuven, in opposition to the heretic Tanchelm.
In 1137 the abbot was able to found the Abbey of Our Lady and SS. Cornelius and Cyprian at Ninove. Godfrey made the Abbot of the Park and his successors his arch chaplains. Simon died on 30 March 1142 and was succeeded by Philip, whose correspondence with Saint Hildegard of Bingen was preserved in the Park Abbey archives. Philip and his successors enlarged the buildings and prepared the land for agriculture. At the time there a canon living in the abbey, Blessed Rabado, whose devotion to the Passion was attested by miracles.
Abbot Gerard van Goetsenhoven (1414–34) had much to do with the establishment of the Catholic University of Leuven, and was also delegated by John IV, Duke of Brabant to transact state affairs with the King of England and the Duke of Burgundy. Abbot van Tulden (1462–94) was successful in his action against commendatory abbots being imposed on religious houses in Belgium. Abbot van den Berghe (1543–58) managed the contributions levied in support of the Belgian theologians present at the resumed Council of Trent.
The abbey frequently suffered during the wars waged by William of Orange and the Calvinists. Abbots included Loots (1577–1583), van Vlierden (1583–1601), Jean Druys (1601–1634), Maes (1635–1647), De Pape (1648–1682), and van Tuycum (1682–1702). They all favoured higher education at the University of Leuven, and academic study flourished in the abbey.
Under Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor, the abbey was confiscated, because Abbot Wauters (died 23 November 1792) refused to send his religious to the general seminary erected by the emperor at Leuven. In the successful revolution against the emperor, the religious returned to their abbey. Wauters was succeeded by Melchior Nysmans (1793–1810).
Under the French Republic the abbey was confiscated again on 1 February 1797. At the request of the people the church was declared to be a parish church and was thus saved. The abbey was bought by a friendly layman who wished to preserve it for the religious, in better times. One of the canon, in the capacity of parish priest, remained in or near the abbey.
When Belgium was made a kingdom and religious freedom was restored, the surviving religious resumed community life and elected Peter Ottoy, then rural dean of Diest, as their superior.
In 1897 the abbey undertook the foundation of a priory in Brazil.

Since Park Abbey is within walking distance of the city centre has become very popular lately. Unfortunately, the bridge over the railway (“Parkwegbrug” or “Tivolibrug”) -allowing pedestrians and cyclist to reach St Norbert’s Gate from Tivoli Street,- has been closed for safety reasons. But you can detour via Geldenaaksebaan and enter by the Lions Gate. Or you could take a bus (for instance N. 4 or 5). Get off at Heverlee Pakenstraat. Park Abbey is also a stop of the tourist train on wheels leaving in the centre (Bondgenotenlaan N.7) on Wednesday and Thursday at 1.30 and 3 p.m., on Friday at 3 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. and 12.30, 2, 3 and 5 pm. This ancient abbey has been under construction for the last couple of years and has gained in charm. Ideal for walks in the park, work outs, lovers dating & if possible in winter ice skating.

Food and drink

We ate in the old mill, which was converted to a Brasserie, called De Abdij Molen. The dishes were reasonably priced. And my husband had the opportunity to taste the Heverlee beer. I ordered the coocoo of Mechelsen with parnspip purée. It was excellent. By the way during the weekdays the restaurant offers menu!
Parsnip purée
Ingredients: 1 pound parsnips, peeled and sliced, Salt, 2 cups heavy cream, 2 sprigs fresh thyme, 1 head garlic, cut in 1/2 horizontally, 4 ounces unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil, Freshly ground black pepper
Directions
Put parsnips in pot, season with salt and cover with water. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook until tender – the tip of a paring knife should easily go through without resistance, approximately 15 minutes.
In a medium saucepan place the cream, thyme sprigs and garlic clove over low heat and bring to a simmer.
Drain parsnips and reserve cooking liquid. Place parsnips in a food processor with butter, or extra-virgin olive oil and a couple of tablespoons of reserved cooking liquid. Begin to process and add strained heavy cream mixture. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and puree until very smooth.

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Onion pakora

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P1080267I have a very charming Indian friend, Shymolie and she prepared a very delicious starter when we organized a pot luck party.

Some infos about the pakora

Pakoras are typical Indian snacks or appetizers. They are created by taking one or two ingredients, such as onion, eggplant, potato, spinach, plantain, paneer, cauliflower, tomato, or chili pepper. They are also occasionally prepared with bread, buckwheat, groundnut, fish, or chicken. They are dipped in a batter made from gram flour and then deep-fried. The most popular varieties include pyaaz pakora, made from onion, and aloo pakora, made from potato. Other variations include paalak pakora, made from spinach, and paneer pakora, made from paneer (soft cottage cheese). When onions, on their own, are prepared in the same way, they are known as onion bajji. A variation of pakora made from wheat flour, salt, and tiny bits of potato or onion (optional), is called noon bariya (nūn = salt), typically found in eastern Uttar Pradesh in India.

In Great Britain pakoras are popular as a fast food snack, available in Indian and Pakistani restaurants. They are also often served with chai to guests arriving to attend Indian wedding ceremonies, and are usually complemented with tamarind chutney, brown sauce, or ketchup.

Shymolie told me that pakoras have played an important role in Indian cinema history, as Raj Kapoor first scenes in cinema with Nargis as answering the door of her mother’s house, with a smear of pakora batter across her forehead resulted a continuous contribution of their pairing to some of the finest and most popular films in the world.

So Shymolie prepared onion and cauliflower pakoras, they were both delicious! Here is the recipe!

Ingredients: 1 cup chickpea flour, 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon garam masala, 2 cloves garlic, crushed, 3/4 cup water, 1 quart oil for deep frying, 1/2 head cauliflower florets, 2 onions, sliced into rings

Directions: Sift the chickpea flour into a medium bowl. Mix in the coriander, salt, turmeric, chili powder, garam masala and garlic.

Make a well in the center of the flower. Gradually pour the water into the well and mix to form a thick, smooth batter.

Over medium high heat in a large, heavy saucepan, heat the oil to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Coat the cauliflower and onions in the batter and fry them in small batches until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels before serving.

(between brackets: she revealed that she added a pinch of sugar to batter which gave an extra flavor to pakoras)P1080264

Weird but excellent Belgian food stuffs

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cantin torta 004Belgium, -my second home land- is I have to admit, is a foodie destination. Everyone heard of the chocolate and the Belgian beer because they are world famous. I spent July there and at this time I discovered lots of funny stories and quirky historical facts about the Belgian cuisine what I like to share immediately with you:

Belgian praline was born in a pharmacy

In 1857, Jean Neuhaus was the owner of a pharmacy in the Galerie de la Reine in Brussels. But it was not an usual drugstore: the man sold tasty sweets and pills against coughing that he covered with a thin layer of chocolate to conceal their bitter taste. His grandson was inspired by this genius method but decided to put some « crème fraiche » in them rather than grandpa’s medicine. And voilà! The praline was born.

Brussels waffles became world famous in 1964

The Americans discovered the delicious Brussels waffles – or Belgian waffles – during the New York’s World Fair in 1964. Maurice and Rose Vermersch, a couple from Brussels were serving waffles topped with whipped cream and strawberries to the visitors. It’s said that they served 2 500 waffles a day. A legend was born!

Endive is the gothic vegetable

Legend says that a farmer had hidden his harvest of chicory in a cellar, under a layer of earth, during the Belgian revolution. When he went back to retrieve it, the color of the vegetables had disappeared: it was white. He called it witloof- white leaf in Dutch. Nobody knows if it’s true but what’s for sure is that Franciscus Bresiers, the head gardener of the botanical garden of Brussels, was the one who perfected the method to grow that strange gothic (it grows in dark and cold places and it has of white complexion, so it is gothic) vegetable in the 19th century.

Nowadays Belgians eat around 8 kg of endive per year. The endive is a super food against stomach and colon cancer (they are rolled in ham with a cheese sauce, or make a salad from them with fresh strawberry and balsamic vinegar with salt and pepper)

Brussels sprouts

I’m really sorry if the sprouts evoke bad memories for some readers. This hybrid cabbage variety was selected in the 17th century because it grows vertically so that it takes considerably less space. And this was a strong asset at the time when Brussels was growing rapidly and the arable land was shrinking.Bernried 017

French fries or Belgian fries that is the question

Who invented the fries there is no proof of it. What it is sure about it that the Belgian fries are delicious and better than the French. The secret is that in Belgium they cook them twice, traditionally in beef fat, first at 160° and then at 180°. The fries are done when you hear them singing!Spain and France 2014 September 150

Café Liégeois comes from Vienna?

Café Viennoise was very trendy in the beginning of the 20th century but when the WWI broke in, the name soon lost its popularity. Parisian coffee owners decided to change the name to « café Liégeois » to honor the courage of Liège in the fights against the German invader and the name is still in use today. So it’s not a Belgian specialty but you can have it in Liège.

Belgium exports more than 60% of its beer production

And the first market is France, even if our neighbors buy considerably less of the oat soda since the rise of the taxes on that product. Belgium breweries produce more than 2500 types of beer among which you’ll find the famous Trappist beers (like Orval, Lambics and Gueuze) they are produced only in a certain part of Belgium situated in the South-West of Brussels.

The Belgians still fish shrimps on horseback

In Belgium you can eat shrimps as croquettes, filled with tomatoes. Grey shrimps are one of the staples of Belgian cuisine. North of the country 12 fishers still harvest shrimps on horseback, a method protected by UNESCO. You can go to the seaside and participate on the event at the end of August!61580_289096981237427_2040918567_n

Pronounce the word loudly: cu-ber-don

What is it? Cuberdon is a kind of sweet you’ll find only in Belgium. This small sugar cone is filled with thick, fruity syrup. Today it exists in 30 different flavors. Some people think the shape of the curberdon is inspired by the hat of a priest and that is was probably created by a clergy member somewhere around Brugges. Other people claim that cuberdons were created by a pharmacist, just like the pralines. In Flanders, they call it « neuzeke » which means little nose. It is a cute name istn’t it?

Weird Belgian food names

Filet Américain is a kind of boeuf tartare and has nothing to do with Americans. In fact it’s it is raw meat they put on the baguette and garnish with sprouts and kiwi! Pain à la Grecque literally means Greek bread comes from Brussels and not from Greece. Oiseaux sans tête (birds without head) it is not a title of a horror movie and they aren’t birds at all in the dish but rather it is made with chicken filled with minced meat rolled in a thin slice of beef. Boulets sauce lapin (rabbit in sauce) do not contain any rabbit. Tête de veau en turtle, the head of the calf and turtle! is an other weird Belgian food specialty and it has nothing to do with a turtle!

 

 

Hungarian Casino egg and Ham roll with horseradish cream

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P1070869Swedish buffet is a type of Scandinavian meal, originating in Sweden, served buffet-style with multiple hot and cold dishes of various foods on a table.

In Northern Europe, the term varies between ‘cold table’ and ‘buffet’.  In Eastern Europe, each language has a term that literally means Swedish table such as in Hungary svédasztal.

History

In Sweden it has been used since at least the 16th century and it became popular in the mid-seventeenth century, when the food moved from the side table to the main table and service began containing both warm and cold dishes. The cold buffet was served as an appetizer for a gathering of people and eaten while standing before a dinner or supper, often two to five hours before dinner, sometimes with the men and women in separate rooms.The Swedish buffet became internationally known at the 1939 New York World’s Fair when it was offered at the Swedish Pavilion’s “Three Crowns Restaurant.” In a restaurant, the term refers to a buffet-style table laid out with many small dishes /such as tapas in Spain from which, for a fixed amount of money, one is allowed to choose as many as one wishes.

But later referred to the small pieces of butter that formed and floated to the surface of cream while it was churned. These pieces reminded the old Swedish peasants of fat geese swimming to the surface. The small butter pieces were just the right size to be placed and flattened out on bread, so “smörgås” came to mean buttered bread.

In Hungary the Swedish table was a kind of symbol of the socialist era. A small buffet was served prior to a meal before sitting at the dinner table. Later on it became a main course at weddings, celebrations or congresses. Recently I accompanied my husband to Budapest where I ate the most delicious Casino egg ever! Here is the recipe:

Casino egg

Butter and sour cream lend a rich foundation, but it’s still lighter than a typical mayonnaise-based egg salad. And the anchovies add a hint of salt and briny depth. This is terrific served with lettuce and fresh vegetables as a salad or cucumber pickles!

Ingredients: 6 hard-boiled eggs, halved, 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly, 3 tablespoons sour cream, 2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar or rather mustard, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 3 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained and minced, 1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives, 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion or shallot

Methods: Scoop the yolks from the halved eggs and put them in a medium bowl. Add the butter, sour cream, vinegar or mustard, sugar, and pepper. Whisk together until a creamy, smooth paste forms.

Coarsely chop the egg whites and add them to the egg yolk mixture, along with the anchovies, chives and red onion. Gently fold the ingredients until fully mixed.

Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. The Casino egg salad can be made up to 3 days in advance.

Ham rolls with horse radish cream

24    oz cream cheese (Philadelphia light) or home made béchamel (from butter, milk, flour, salt, pepper, and horseradish), 3 tbsp horseradish from jar, 2 tbsp finely chopped onion, 8 oz sour cream, 2 lbs cooked ham, 1 teaspoon of sugar (thinly sliced),

In a medium bowl, blend the cream cheese, horseradish, onion and sour cream. Flavor with a pinch of sugar. Spread the mixture onto the ham slices. Tightly roll the slices and secure with toothpicks. In Hungary it is typical to garnish with cherry on the top and parsley! (From cooked cherry compote)

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