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My Oscar night

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Light! Camera! Photo! That is no way for anyone to watch the academy awards. I couldn’t make it to the Kodak theatre “this year”, thus last week I created my own glamour on the Oscar night with a vintage Hollywood bash at home. Eaten in front of the television, of course invite my own “Rat Pack” over it was a great fun.846x

The menu was:

Horse d’oeuvres: Smoked salmon roulades

Main course:        Pork fillet with French potato salad

Dessert:                Rasp and strawberry tiramisu

Setting the table/the scene: I sent invites in film canister with an awards ballot tucked inside. (downloaded from oscar.com)

The décor was: white, black palette accented with white, grey and black candles

I arranged flowers into vases of varying heights-(such as white tulips, lilies) and on the buffet, and lower arrangements on the coffee table. I entertained my guests with best song nominees from the past year (some classics downloads).

The winner was… I placed an Oscar ballots tray for completed ballots near the front door. After guests arrived, I passed out pens and had each guests pick another guests ballot to score during the show. During commercials I tested my friends Tinseltown knowledge with trivia questions.

For instance: What does Oscar stand for? What film and sequel both won a best picture Oscar? What was the first X-rated film to win best picture? etc.

Prizes were a bottle of champagne, and I gave some trivia champs gift certifications to a local movie theater ticket and a DVD of a past best picture winner

Recipes

Smoked salmon roulades

Ingredients for 12: whipped cream cheese at room temperature, 3 tbsp chopped fresh dill, chives, salt, pepper smoked salmon, thiny sliced

In a small bowl combine cream cheese, chives, salt and pepper. On clean work surface place 11×30 sheet of plastic wrap, with shorter sides positioned to the right and left. Carefully center a piece of salmon vertically on plastic wrap about 3 from the short side at left. Continue to lay pieces of salmon, overlapping each other about 1, until all salmon is used. Finished salmon layer should measure about 6×24 and should end about 3 from the right edge of plastic wrap. Using a cakefrosting metal spatula, gently spread cream cheese mixture over salmon. Sprinkle with dill. Starting at long side, roll up salmon into a log and wrap in plastic. Secure ends. Place on baking sheet and refrigerate until serving time. Then unwrap the salmon roll and slice into half thick pieces, which will resemble pinwheels. Arrange on platter and accompany with toast points if desired.pork-fillet2

Pork fillet: 6 oranges, 5t sugar, 2 garlic cloves, 2 pork fillets, 300g baby spinach, 1/4C pecans, 100g mange tout, half spoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon Dijon, 1 tbsp olive oil

For the glaze:
3 oranges, juiced and 1 zested
4 Tbs sugar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 pork fillets
Salt and pepper

For the salad:
300g baby spinach
¼ cup pecan nuts, toasted and chopped
100g mange tout, halved
3 oranges, segmented

For the dressing:
2 Tbs orange juice
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp sugar
1 tbs olive oil

Methods:

Combine the ingredients for the glaze in a pot and bring to boil.
Reduce the liquid until a syrupy consistency.
Season the pork with salt and pepper then brush with the glaze and fry in lightly oiled pan for about 5 minutes per side.
Continue basting with the glaze until the pork is cooked through.
Combine the salad ingredients  in a large bowl
Whisk together all ingredients for the dressing  and pour over the salad and toss
Serve the pork fillet sliced on top of the salad.

French potato salad

Ingredients: 1/4 cup dry white wine, 1/4 cup olive oil, 4 green onions, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons drained capers, 1 teaspoon of dill, 1 teaspoon of thyme, 1 teaspoon of estragon, 3 1/4 pounds of 2 1/2-inch-diameter red-skinned potatoes

Methods: 1. Whisk first 7 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. (It can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before continuing.)

2. Cook potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 35 minutes. Drain. Return potatoes to pot. Place pot over low heat until liquid from potatoes evaporates, about 2 minutes.

3. Cut warm potatoes into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Add to dressing. Toss gently to coat. Let stand at least 1 hour at room temperature. Toss again and serve.

Rasp and strawberry tiramisu

Place this recipe on top of a completely cooled homemade or store-bought cheesecake or tiramisu

Ingredients: 2 cups raspberries, 1/2 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar divided, 3 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered

In a bowl of food processor combine raspberries and half cup sugar. Pour into stainer. Using rubber spatula, press raspberry mixture through to remove seeds. Add strawberries to raspberry mixture. Refrigerate until ready to serve.img_0892

 

Picknick with Claude Monet

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51PSE02HX7LAfter an exhusted non-stop touring in the beautiful French capital I had a rest at my Parisian godmother’s. After the dinner our conversation was somehow diverted to Monet’s house in, Giverny. -By the way where is Giverny?-I asked Sylvie.- She responded it shortly: -Beside Vernon.-

All right, and where is Vernon?-

– In Normandy, more precisely circa 80 kilometres from Paris.-Why? Do you want to go there? His garden is breathtaking! The waterlilies in his pond look exactly like in his paintings.

So it gave the idea to visit Giverny but I didn’t know that then I will return with “his” cook book!

The house of Monet in Giverny

Monet, who was one of the most influential painters of modern times, lived for half his life in a famous house at Giverny. He had already discovered that little town whilst he was looking out of the train window in 1883. He became very enthusiastic about the spot. At the end of the 19th century the village was very placid, consisted of two streets on the hillside lined with low houses in a pink or green roughcast with slate roofs, their walls covered with wisteria and Virginia creeper. The streets were crossed by narrow lanes running down the hill. There were about 300 inhabitants only, most of  them farmers, and a few middle-class families, so he thought it would be perfect to live there with his large family. But he could only afford to buy a house there in 1890. He had moved in with his second wife Alice Hoschedé, with his two sons and her six children as he became the owner of the so called Cider-Press house and gardens. He lived there more than forty years. During this very long time, he layed out the house to his own tastes, adapting it to the needs of his family and professional life. When he bought the Cider-Press house (an apple-press located on the little square nearby gave its name to the quarter) it was much smaller but Monet enlarged it on both sides (the house is now 40 meter long per 5 meter deep only). The barn next to the house became his first studio, thanks to the addition of a wooden floor and of stairs leading to the main house. Monet, who mostly painted in the open air, needed a place where to store and finish his canvases. Above the studio, Monet had his own apartment, a large bedroom and a bathroom. The left side of the house was his side, where he could work and sleep. Monet, who didn’t care for fashion, which was very dark and heavy in Victorian times, had it painted the walls of the house in two tones of yellow. The walls were packed with Japanese engravings that Monet chose with an expert eye. For fifty years, he collected the prints by the best Japanese artists, especially Hokusai, Hiroshige and Utamaro. The dining room was connected to the kitchen to make service easier. Monet wanted a blue kitchen so that the guests would see the right color in harmony with the yellow dining room when the door to the kitchen was open. The walls of the kitchen were covered with tiles of Rouen. The coolness of the blue contrasted with the warm glow of the extended collection of coppers. An enormous coal and wood stove kept the kitchen very warm year round.

Monet was very happy in Giverny not only because his work finally achieved recognition but his growing success meant that that he was able to indulge his passion for comfort and good living. Family meals, special celebrations, luncheons with friends, picnics: all reflected the Monets’ love of good food. Just as the inspiration for many of Monet’s paintings was drawn from his beloved gardens and the surrounding Normandy landscape, so the meals served at Giverny were based upon superb ingredients from the kitchen-garden (a work of art in itself), the farmyard, and the French countryside. A moody, reserved, and very private man whose daily routine revolved totally around his painting, Monet nevertheless enjoyed entertaining his friends, many of whom were leading figures of the time. As well as his fellow Impressionists — in particular Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, Degas and Cezanne — other regular guests included Rodin, Whistler, Maupassant, Valery, and one of Monet’s closest friends, the statesman Clemenceau. They came to dine in almost ritual form, first visiting Monet’s studio and the greenhouses, then having lunch at 11:30 (the time the family always dined, to enable Monet to make the most of the afternoon light). Tea would later be served under the lime trees or near the pond. Guests were never invited to dinner; because Monet went to bed very early in order to rise at dawn. All the guests were familiar with Monet’s rigid timetable. Monet was not only a very good cook himself but also he collected recipes and wrote a cooking journals. He had encountered in his travels or had come across in restaurants he frequented in Paris as well as recipes from friends, such as Cezanne’s “bouillabaisse” and Millet’s “petits pains.”

In 1997 Claire Joyes, the wife of Madame Monet’s great-grandson, decided it was worth to create a cook book from his recipe collection. She has spent years selecting the Monet’s favorites and writing a wonderfully evocative introductory text. All of the recipes have been artfully prepared and brought back to life in Monet’s own kitchen by master chef Joel Robuchon. Illustrated with some sumptuous reproduction of Monet’s paintings, spectacular original four-colour photographs of Giverny selected shots of finished dishes, and facsimile pages from the notebooks themselves. The book provides fascinating and unique insight the turn-of-the century lifestyle of one of the world’s most celebrated Impressionist painters.
Here are some recipes from the book:

2012. július 22 039Claude Monet’s Sorrel soup

Ingredients: 200 gr sorrel, chervil, 1 iceberg salad, 1 tbs of butter salt, pepper, 5 tbs of rice, 1-2 spoons of extra butter, 1 egg white

Wash and rinse everything (sorel, chervil, salad) cut, chop them into small pieces. Melt butter in a pan, soaté vegetables, salad, salt and pepper to taste. Pour over 1 litre of hot water, and cook for 15 minutes.

Add rice to soup, and cook until rice is well cooked. Whisk egg white adding a pinch of salt to it, then spoon on the top of the soup. To finish add 1 spoon of butter sprinkle with some fresh spring onion or crouton.

Pork chops Normandy

1/2 cup all-purpose flour, salt and pepper, to taste, 1/4 cup butter, 4 (8 ounce) bone-in pork chops (1/2 inch thick)

1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced,1 tablespoon butter, 1/2 cup Calvados brandy, 1/2 cup apple cider, 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325  degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. Place flour in a shallow dish and season to taste with salt and pepper. Dredge pork chops in flour to evenly coat both sides. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a skillet over medium heat; add pork chops, and cook until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Add mushrooms to the same skillet, and stir in 1 tablespoon butter. Cook mushrooms until tender. Remove skillet from heat.
  3. Pour the brandy over the pork chops, and carefully light with a match. Let the flames burn off,  then remove the pork chops to a serving plate, and keep warm in preheated oven.
  4. Using the same skillet, pour in the apple cider. Cook over medium heat until liquid is reduced by half. Add the cream to the skillet, and cook until reduced by half. Stir in the apple slices and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
  5. Arrange the pork chops on 4 serving plates. Spoon the apple-mushroom sauce over the pork chops, and serve immediately.

Chicken a la Normande

Ingredients: 1 tbs olive oil, 2 tbs butter, 1.5kg chicken thigh fillets, halved, Ground nutmeg, 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced, 1 large brown onion, finely chopped, 125ml (1/2 cup) dry apple cider, 125ml (1/2 cup) chicken stock, 80ml      (1/3 cup) apple cider vinegar, 1/4 tsp dried thyme, 1 tbs plain flour, 2-3 tbs water, 2 Granny Smith apples, extra, peeled, cored, thinly sliced, 125g  (1/2 cup) sour cream

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Heat the oil and half the butter in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook one-third of the chicken for 2-3 minutes each side or until golden. Transfer to a large casserole dish. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Repeat, in 2 more batches, with the remaining chicken.
  2. Reduce heat to medium. Add the apple to the frying pan and cook for 2 minutes each side or until light golden. Place over the chicken in the dish. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook onion in pan, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add to the dish. Cover and bake for 40 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, place the cider, stock, vinegar and thyme in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to the boil. Combine the flour and a little water in a small bowl. Gradually add the flour mixture to the cider mixture, whisking constantly, until well combined. Stir until thick.  Simmer for 3 minutes.
  4.  Heat remaining butter in the frying pan over medium heat. Add the extra apple and cook for 3-4 minutes  each side or until golden.
  5. Add the sour cream to the cider mixture and stir over medium heat for 1 minute or until the sauce is just heated through.
  6. Transfer the chicken and apple mixture to a serving platter. Pour over the sauce and top with the apple rings. Serve this dish with mashed potato or steamed rice.

28_+PruimenclafoutisGreengage cake a la Normande

3/4 cup (110g) flour, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, pinch of salt, 1 kg greengages (a mix of varieties), 2 large eggs, at room temperature, 3/4 cup (150g) sugar, 3 tablespoons dark rum, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 8 tablespoons (115g) butter, salted or unsalted, melted and cooled to room temperature

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and adjust the oven rack to the center of the oven.

2. Heavily butter an 8- or 9-inch (20-23cm) springform pan and place it on a baking sheet.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

4. Core the greengages, then dice them into 1-inch (3cm) pieces.

5. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until foamy then whisk in the sugar, then rum and vanilla. Whisk in half of the flour mixture, then gently stir in half of the melted butter

6. Stir in the remaining flour mixture, then the rest of the butter.

7. Fold in the greengages cubes until they’re well-coated with the batter and scrape them into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top a little with a spatula.

8. Bake the cake for 50 minute to 1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge to loosen the cake from the pan and carefully remove the sides of the cake pan, making sure no greengages are stuck to it. Serve with vanilla ice cream or crème fraîche.

As mad as a March hare

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FFB market 051With the coming Easter children usually put up us, by the way the logical question, that why the rabbit brings the chocolate eggs and not the hen?
To find the correct answer we have to go back to the ancient Greece where hares, like rabbits and eggs, were fertility symbols. Since birds lay eggs and rabbits and hares give birth to large litters in the early spring, these became symbols of the rising fertility of the earth at the March Equinox. Rabbits and hares are both prolific breeders. Female hares can conceive a second litter of offspring while still pregnant with the first. This phenomenon is known as superfetation. Lagomorphs mature sexually at an early age and can give birth to several litters a year (hence the saying, “to breed like bunnies”). 
Thus knowing all these facts it is not surprising that rabbits and hares should become fertility symbols, or that their springtime mating antics should enter into Easter folklore.

 
But another animals bring their successors into the world at Easter time as well, so why the hell is the sex maniac hare has become the symbol of the fertility? The answer is very simple: because in the ancient folk the birth of the rabbit litters meant for people the end of winter, the rebirth, rejuvenation etc. There is one more question to answer: why the rabbit became the responsible of the distribution of the red egg and not the fox, hen or the stork as they give birth to their litters in March as well? Probably because the rabbits lived near to the man, and they were always liked as a domestic animal, unlike the fox or the hen.

Finishing the thoughts of the Easter rabbit, the essence is, that the children believe it, that like Santa Claus, the rabbit brings a gift secretly to them.FFB market 044

The egg-laying rabbit and the egg painting

The precise origin of the ancient custom of decorating eggs  is not known, although evidently the blooming of many flowers in spring coincides with the use of the fertility symbol of eggs—and eggs boiled with some flowers change their color, bringing the spring into the homes. Many Christians of the Eastern Orthodox Church to this day typically dye their Easter eggs red, the color of blood, in recognition of the blood of the sacrificed Christ (and, of the renewal of life in springtime). Some also use the color green, in honor of the new foliage emerging after the long dead time of winter.

German Protestants wanted to retain the Catholic custom of eating colored eggs for Easter, but did not want to introduce their children to the Catholic rite of fasting. Eggs were forbidden to Catholics during the fast of Lent, which was the reason for the abundance of eggs at Easter time.

The idea of an egg-laying bunny came to the U.S. in the 18th century. German immigrants in the Pennsylvania Dutch area told their children about the “Osterhase” (sometimes spelled “Oschter Haws.Hase” means “hare”, not rabbit, and in Northwest European folklore the “Easter Bunny” indeed is a hare, not a rabbit. According to the legend, only good children received gifts of colored eggs in the nests that they made in their caps and bonnets before Easter. In 1835, Jakob Grimm wrote of long-standing similar myths in Germany itself. Grimm suggested that these derived from legends of the reconstructed continental Germanic goddess *Ostara.

In Britain, the hare was associated with the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre and whose pagan attributes were appropriated into the Christian tradition as the Easter Bunny. The hare also appears in English folklore in the saying “as mad as a March hare” and in the legend of the White Hare that alternatively tells of a witch who takes the form of a white hare and goes out looking for prey at night or of the spirit of a broken-hearted maiden who cannot rest and who haunts her unfaithful lover.

In Irish folklore, the hare is often associated with Sidh (Fairy) or other pagan elements. In these stories, characters who harm hares often suffer dreadful consequences.

However the Easter rabbit does not bring eggs in France and Belgium, but rather the Easter bells (cloches but Pâques) drop the eggs from the sky.
In England, America on the other hand adults hide eggs in the garden and the children need to hunt them.

Many cultures, including the Chinese, Japanese, and Mexican, see a hare in the pattern of dark patches in the moon; this tradition forms the basis of the Angelo Branduardi song “The Hare in the Moon”.

Decoration 008The hare was a popular motif in medieval church art. In ancient times it was widely believed that the hare was a hermaphrodite. The idea that a hare could reproduce without loss of virginity led to an association with the Virgin Mary, with hares sometimes occurring in Northern European paintings of the Virgin and Christ Child.

The hare was regarded as an animal sacred to Aphrodite and Eros because of its high libido. Live hares were often presented as a gift of love.

Let’s paint the town green on St Patrick’s day!

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Saint-Patrick-chocolate-at-Patrick-Roger1

Tomorrow is St Patrick’s day in Münich!

Munich is one of Europe’s most pulsating cities. There is always something going on, from the world renowned October Beerfest, multiple city
and street festivals, music for all tastes, theatre and not to mention the Continental Europe’s biggest St Patricks Day’s Parade..

Since I’ve been living here I try to participate on the events every year.

Apropos by St Patrick’s day here are some little thoughts:

Patrick (before he was not yet a saint) is said to have originated from England, came to Ireland as a slave and was the first writer in history to pen eye-witness accounts condemning slavery. There are many legends and stories associated with St. Patrick. The legend goes that during his wanderings through Ireland he came to Dublin – no more than a village at that time, poor and mean. Before entering the village, he climbed a hill, gazed out over the landscape and said, “One day, this little village will flourish as a great, important city, growing ever wealthier, and one day it will house the seat of the kingdom.”

In 1776, during the American War of Independence, St. Patrick’s influence is even said to have helped the Americans to victory over the British. General George Washington’s army was besieging the city which would later bear his name, and at the time was defended by the British army. Washington chose the password “St. Patrick” as a mark of respect to the many Irish in his ranks. And so it happened that on March 17th, the feast-day of St. Patrick, the British surrendered – without a struggle. As they left the city, an American band struck up the lively melody “St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning”. The tune has been played in Washington on every St. Patrick’s Day since that time.

In “The Truth About the Irish ” (St. Martin’s) Terry Eagleton sums up the story of St. Patrick like this:

“As a patron saint, he has quite a few disadvantages:

  • We don’t actually know who he was.
  • We don’t actually know where he came from.
  • He was not the first Christian missionary in Ireland.
  • There may have been two of him.
  • He may not have existed at all!

Apart from that, he’s a fantastic patron saint.” I couldn’t agree more.

Long live St. Patrick – however you decide to celebrate him! I’ll go to see the parade in Münich tomorrow for sure!

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Masquerade ball in Vienna with Mira Sorvino

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imagesCA8E5P46With the snowdrop, tiger lily, tulip, roses and fresia decorated salon, feathered hats, cilinders, masks scatter everywhere foreshadowing a piquant adventure in the prom of the Opera ball in Vienna. Before reading further this blog be aware of the danger of nostalgia!

Just 140 years ago happened when empress Elizabeth of Austria and queen of Hungary fell in love with the young Fritz von Pacher Theinburg ministerial employee at the Vienna Academy of Music’s masquerade ball. The romantic love story was captured by the Austrian novelist Hubert Wittenbach who wrote the next about it (I didn’t cite it word by word)

dekoráciok 020“The famous masquerade ball of the Vienna Academy of Music was regarded the most exclusive ball of the party season. To increase the excitment, papers, magazines reported every day who would wear what and who would participate on the ball so it was no wonder that everyone in the upscale city were speaking of the season opener masquerade parade.

In 1873 late January, the 36-year empress Elizabeth was bored to death in her study. A nasty, rainy winter hit the capital, snow did not fall, so due to the bad weather she could not go for a ride and could not leave the city for warmer lands either, until Franz Joseph, the emperor returned to the capital. On one gloomy day Elizabeth was just sitting in her room and tried to concentrate on her book, but she couldn’t because the inaction tortured her so deeply like never before. Until that point when she discovered the programs of the ball of the Academy of Music in one magazin. The big event was due on that evening! Elizabeth became totally thrilled with the news, decided that at all costs but she would go to the ball in incognito. Her Hungarian abigail (lady’s maid) Ida Ferenczy initially opposed the plan, but eventually Elizabeth managed to convince her that no one will recognize them under masks, so Ida decided to go with the queen. One more person had to be involved in the adventure, the hairdresser madam Schmidl. She dressed up Elizabeth of a brocade yellow dominoe dress, put a strawberry blonde wig to her gorgeous hair, covered her face with a black lace mask so her white face, long swan neck was not be recognizible. However Ida Ferenczy dressed in red dominoe cloth, with a black wig. Half-hour later the two excited ladies in the dominoe costumes managed to get into the hall of the Academy of Music unobtrusively. They took the gallery seats and watched the cheerful, debutante crowd for a while. Elizabeth in her gorgeous costume was still excited and was eagerly waiting for that someone would discover her, but when nothing happened until midnight she became totally depressed, and finally said to Ida:” if I had to come to the ball, I want to dance, please bring someone up to me”. At the beginning of the ball she had already picked out a good-looking blond man, who was standing next to a “shepherd” girl. So she pointed at that guy and sent Ida down to him, wanted to know who he is. As it turned out the man’s the 26 year-old Fritz von Pacher Theinburg ministerial official, who willingly followed the mysterious lady’s maid to her mistress. After a few polite words, Pacher immediately guessed that the woman could not be other than Empress Elizabeth because of the way of talking and as she held her head, as she waited to broach the people out of the way when they started to dance, so he was absolutely sure about her identity”.

Masks 005When later love was consummated in Pacher suites, the Empress was still in the faith that Pacher didn’t recognize her. The love affair lasted about 3 months, and during all that time Elizabeth believed that no one knows about the relationship but it could not remain a secret because Fritz Pacher von Theinburg was not very discreet man, he even captured the adventure with the Queen / Empress in a poem, which Elizabeth, if she had ever read it, would have found out the truth, namely, how much wrong was she when she thought that Theinburg loved her head over heels, and was completely fascinated by her beauty etc, but probably she realized that 3 months later when she ended the unilateral adventure because Elizabeth did not like that he did not dance the way she wanted, anyway, the banter just entertained the Empress but did not the young man. ”

A lot of water had flown down the Danube river since Elizabeth’s love affair, and many people have fallen in love at the Viennese balls, but Vienna had to wait until 1992 to draw the attention to the world again of the Vienna Opera ball. Thanks to Richard Lugner, the Austrian shopping mole owner, investor, industrialist tycoon, who organizes every year a charity connected ball at the Vienna Opera House, where world-famous celebrities waltz to Strauss’s music, and every year’s sensation, who will be the guest of honor! This year the ball will be held on February 7 and the guest of honor of the prom will be the Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino!

One surprise after the other one

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2012. december 8 006Talking about parties & menus before Christmas

The ideal party when all guests feel themselves at home. We may achieve this for example with an abundant choice. My suggestion is the next excellent dinner what is ready at a glance.

Starters:   Espuma of celery with truffle oil

                Goose liver terrine créme brulée

                Prawn with lemon mellisse

Main course:Tajine of duck with fresh figues, with ginger and green pepper

Dessert:  Hazelnut cream with gold leaves

Espuma of celery and truffle oil

Espuma (vanilla foam) with mint

Ingredients: half of a celery, 1 chicken stock, 30 cl milk, 30 cl cream, 2 teaspoons truffle oil, salt and pepper you can prepare cream one day ahead.

Directons: 1. Peel the celery and cut into cubes. Let it cook for 15 minutes in the chicken broth. Purée with a blender or food processor, add milk and cream to it. Salt and pepper. 2. Pour over truffle oil. Spoon mixture into the professional creative whip maker. Screw on the iSi cream charger with the charger holder and shake it vigorously. 3. Cool cream in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Espuma is ready for dispensing after the cooling time. 4. Press celery cream into nice glasses. Gild with shaved truffle pieces.

Wine suggestion: Crémant Alsace Bru 2002

Goose liver terrine créme brulée

Ingredients: 6 egg yolks, 50 gr sugar, 40 cl cream, 4 chestnut (candid), 1 gooseliver terrine, pepper and salt

Directions: 1. Preheat the oven for 150 grades. Whisk the egg yolks with sugar until stiff. Add cream to egg. Flavor with salt and pepper. 2. Cut 3 chestnuts into four, slice the goose liver terrine, place into small baking forms, bestrew them with candid chestnut. 3. Pour egg mixture over goose liver portions and place the baking forms into the oven for 10 minutes. When it’s ready adorn with shredded chestnut. You can consume it cold or warm.

Tiger prawn with lemon melisse

Ingredients: 2 lbs large raw tiger shrimp (18), in their shells, thawed if frozen, 1/2 cup butter, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 6 garlic cloves, smashed, 2 limes, juice and zest of 1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped warm tortilla, to serve, lemon slice, lemon melisse, for the finger bowls

Directions: 1. Chop the onion and cut the melisse fine, salt and pepper. Put into a blender squeeze some lemon over it and make a pesto. Put aside. Rinse the prawns in a colander, remove their heads and leave them to drain. 2. Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan, add the garlic and fry over a low heat for 2 to 3 minutes. 3. Add the lime rind and juice. 4. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute or more. 5. Add the prawns and cook them for 2 to 3 minutes until they turn pink. 6. Remove them from the heat, sprinkle with coriander and serve with the warm tortillas and the melisse pesto. (Give each guest a finger bowl filled with water and a slice of lemon, for cleaning their fingers after shelling the prawns, and provide also of paper napkins).

Tajine of the duck with fresh figues, ginger and green pepper

Ingredients: 8 small potatoes, 6 fresh figues, 15 cl ginger syrup, 30 gr green peper, 2 duck filets, pepper and salt

Directions: 1. Cook the peeled potatoes for 15 minutes until tender. Wash the figues and cut into four. Place figues into a casserole, pour over ginger syrup, and let it cook for 15 minutes. Stir it time to time in order to protect from burning. Season with green pepper. 2. Prepare the duck. Salt and pepper. Cook for five minutes in a bit of butter on high temperature. Reduce heat (onto medium temperature), flavor duck with thyme and let it simmer for two more minutes. Slice filets nicely. Place them onto figues with the juice, season with salt and pepper and arrange potatoes nicely on the plate.

Wine: Clos de la Grande Boissiere 2001

Espuma made from green tea

Hazelnut parfait with gold leaves

20 minutes+4 hours rest

Ingredients: 4 egg yolks, 50 gr sugar, 5 gr vanilla sugar, 20 cl milk, 13 cl cream, 100 gr nuts, decorate with 4 leaves of gold

Directions:1. Beat eggs with sugar and with vanilla sugar until stiff. Heat the milk and the cream together, add egg mixture. 2. Cook everything together on medium heat until dense. When it’s ready place into deep freezer. 3. Take cream off from the freezer and put into blender. Add grated nuts to crunchy cream. When it’s ready divide cream into glasses and keep in the fridge until serving.

Wine: Santa Carolina 1996 Late Harvest

Christmas in Belgium

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Philippe and Brigitte De Naeyer are the owners of the Pottenbrug restaurant in Antwerp. During Christmas the restaurant will be closed for three days because the family would like to enjoy the yule tide season simply with their five children and grandchildren. Two in five lives abroad, so not surprisingly Brigitte and Philippe’s most joyous celebration of the year is Christmas. – ” I enjoy the Christmas season especially the hustle-bustle and that as everyone wants to make itselves useful.- says Brigitte. “One of my son decorates the Christmas tree, the other one does the garden, the girls help with the cooking, the grandchildren assist in the preparation of the menu board. By the way about the decoration we usually decide at the end of November: last year the gold was our fav this year we voted for the traditional red and green’s combination.

I like the best the Christmas morning. I wake up with a smile on my face. I jump out of my bed and run to the fireplace, throw pine branches into the fire so by the time my children arrive the air has already been filled with fine fragrance. After a liquid lunch we dress the table together. The dinner is our treatment, to exchange gifts for the great regret of my grandchildren comes only after the dessert.

This year’s menu will be: Foie gras in pastry, rolled in serrano ham, French fish soup with saffron, Mallard, with wild mushroom and goat cheese flavored potato souffle, date cake with cinnamon flavoured ice cream.

Recipes: Foie gras with serrano ham in filo pastry

Ingredients: for 4 servings, lollo bionda or rosso lettuce, eight layers dough (the best is the thin Turkish pastry called filo pastry) 1 egg, sesame seeds, 8 slices of Spanish serrano ham, 4 slices of duck liver, one bottle of red onion marmalade

for the dressing: sherry wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon mustard, 1 tablespoon oil, 2 tablespoons oil, pepper, salt, curry

Prepare the sauce: Mix the sherry and mustard with oil, add a pinch of sugar. Preheat oven to 180 degrees, lubricate the filo pastry with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Place pastry in the oven for 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange the washed salad on plates. Remove the dough from the oven, place onto plate the first layer, 1 slice of ham, 1 dose of ducks, and the onion chutney, place the second dough layer on it, add ham, liver, onion, and so on.  Sprinkle the top of the dough with the sherry sauce.

French fish soup with saffron 1 lobster, 1 leek, 1 carrot, 1 teaspoon red paprika powder, 1 celery stem, saffron, parsley, fish soup broth, chicken soup stock, 1 dl white wine

Simmer the lobster in butter. Throw the chopped onion, celery stem, 1 carrot, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the paprika powder as well. Pour the chicken bouillon over lobster and cook for 15-20 minutes. When the vegetables are tender strain broth and keep only the crab meat and the vegetables, discard the fishbones and the hard parts of the lobster. Put vegetables back in the pot and pour the wine over soup. Boil soup again, flavour with the saffron. Offer with a fresh baguette or toast.

Mallard with wild mushrooms and goat cheese potatoe souffle: 2 mallards, 1 bottle of red wine, 1 bottle of Trappist beer, 1 tablespoon sugar, 750 g wild mushrooms, oil, pepper, salt, 1 onion, 2 carrots, thyme, basil, rosemary, 1 clove of garlic, butter, 1 liter of water

First, prepare the duck soup. Chop the onion and grate 3 cloves of garlic, fry them together with the diced carrots in the oil. Add the boned mallard (keep the flesh for later) pour in the red wine and the water, add the spices (bay leaf, thyme, rosemary) and cook/simmer on low heat for 2 hours. Season with salt and pepper.

The goat cheese and potatoes soufflé: 200 g potatoes, 100 g goat cheese, 100 ml cream, 50 ml milk, 1 egg yolk, 1 egg white, nutmeg, salt and pepper

Prepare mashed potatoes (cook and mash) and then add butter, milk, and goat cheese. Add egg yolk whisk egg white until stiff. Add to purée. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with nutmeg. Place purée into soufflé tins and cook for 35-40 minutes in water bath (up to 180 degrees).

To finish the duck broth, filter soup and add a pinch of sugar and stir Trappist beer, plus add a bit of butter. Fry the duck breasts and thighs in its own grease or in butter on both sides for 5-6 minutes, season with salt and pepper. Place the duck breast slices in a deep bowl, add the in butter cooked wild mushroom (seasoned with pepper and salt and chopped parsley) and serve with in baking tin cooked goat cheese purée. Spanish red wine suits it the best.

Date cake Ingredients : 250 g dates, extra 8 pieces aside for garnish, 10 g flour, 200 g almonds, 140 g sugar, 1 package vanilla sugar, 4 egg whites, 250 gr of cinnamon-flavored ice cream

The cream filling: 1,5 dl cream, 1 tablespoon milk, 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, 1 pack vanilla sugar. The frosting: 4 slices of chocolate, 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, 10 g butter, 3 tablespoons apricot jam

Add chopped-unpit dates into flour, mix with the ground almonds, vanilla sugar, and add the sugar as well. Grease the pan with butter, beat the egg whites until stiff, and add the flour with the dates to this mixture. Pour the batter into the pan and bake at 180 degrees for 45 minutes. Cut the cake in two when it is cool, and spread with apricot jam. Prepare the coating, melt bitter chocolate in a bowl, with 1 tablespoon hot water and butter over boiling water. Beat the cream. Coat the cake with the chocolate glazur, decorate it with halfed dates. Flavour vanilla ice cream with cinnamon. Serve cake with ice cream and cream on top. Catalan sparkling wine suits well.