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Trolls & Legends festival with Clive Standen

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I met the handsome, British actor, Clive Standen in Belgium in the Trolls & Legends festival! He is best known for his roles on Starz’s Camelot and the BBC’s Robin Hood and Doctor Who, now Taken. But he’s still breaking out into leading-man territory and causing blood pressures to rise as the fearsome, seafaring Norse warrior Rollo on History’s hit series Vikings. I talked to him in the VIP room in April (2017) and when he put his eyes on me, he stood up immediately and started to sing the “Young girl, get out of my mind”..by Gerry and the Puckets (now I know who was this singer) then he hugged me! It was a greeting of a Viking’s way-he told my with a big smile on his face! Then I revealed him that according to my DNS I’m a viking, belong to the tribe of Sigurd! He was totally impressed by hearing that and dedicated my book: The Many Witches Auberge.

Clive Standen, (35), may play a brooding sexy man on the TV, but he recently opened up to PEOPLE and revealed his softer side. Here are five things to know about the charismatic actor:

1. He appreciates women more than ever, now that he’s had long hair.
For
Vikings, Standen had to grow a bushy beard, sport tattoos and scars and don long tresses that extended past his shoulders.

“I wore hair extensions for six months. I have a newfound respect for women,” says Standen. “I’d wake up with all the hair stuck to my face and spend the next 20 minutes trying to take out all the tangles. I don’t shout at my wife when she’s taking forever to get ready anymore.”

2. He’s a romantic and a pro with sweet gestures.
He and his wife, Francesca, 45, who works in the music industry, have been together for years and married for the last five. “I was very lucky to find the woman of my dreams at an early age, and I haven’t looked back,” he says.

He popped the question with an all-day proposal that included spray-painting “I love you, Francesca” down her street, writing love notes on big placards, dressing up as her favorite celeb, Elvis Presley, and singing “Fools Rush In” as he got down on bended knee. “I couldn’t afford the big expensive engagement ring, so I had to do something big,” he explains.

The actor still keeps the romance alive today by cooking meals that he serves in the garden by candlelight after the kids are asleep.

 3. He’s a doting dad.
Raising the couple’s three children – Hayden, 14, Edi, 10, and Rafferty, 6, whom he calls “the loves of my life” – is the time Standen cherishes most.

“I really love being a house dad. To pick up the pieces and do everything that is needed for them is a great pleasure,” he says. “It’s important to have one-on-one time. It’s great to get down on the carpet and play cars with them or give the kids a bath and play spaceship.”

4. He’s a thrill-seeking adventure type.
When he’s not filming in Ireland or home in London with the kids, Standen enjoys deep-sea swimming.

“The scuba-diving thing came from my wife and I trying to find a hobby,” he says. “My wife is an amazing swimmer, and I love marine life. I’ve swum with sharks before. I’m trying to get to good enough to go diving in the Arctic Circle. I want to go into the extreme and go under the ice.”

5. He’s a Muay Thai boxing champ.
To play Vikings, Standen and his cast mates had to look like skilled fighters. Luckily for the actor, he already had the experience and physical prowess to portray a warrior – growing up, he was a national Muay Thai boxing champion. He also grew up near Sherwood Forest and did jousting as part of a live-action guided tour.

“With this (The Vikings) role, I get to live out all my fantasies,” he says. “I’m sword fighting, I go horse riding and row long boats. It’s come full circle!”

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Tons of avocados on 5th of May

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May 5th has arrived, and with it come extravagant Cinco de Mayo (Cinco de Mayo translates to the Fifth of May) celebrations around USA. The day is widely recognized as a time to drink margaritas, eat guacamole and celebrate Mexico’s cultural heritage, many people know relatively little about the true meaning of the Mexican holiday. To clear up some misconceptions, here are some important facts about the celebration of heritage and culture: first of all it is not the Mexican Independence Day! It is celebrated on September 16.

Cinco Mayo, honors the Battle of Puebla that took place May 5, 1962. During the battle, also known as El Dia de la Batalla de Puebla, a group of only 2,000 Mexicans was outnumbered by 10,000 French troops. But only 100 Mexican soldiers died, while the French lost about 500 in the battle..

The holiday is celebrated more in the United States than elsewhere. Though it’s heralded as a Mexican tradition, the holiday is a far bigger deal in the U.S, especially in regions with large Mexican-American populations. In Mexico, the largest celebrations take place in Puebla and Veracruz, where military re-enactments are held. Costumed revelers dance through the streets of south Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the annual Carnival de Puebla, a traditional Mexican carnival celebration that re-enacts the Battle of Cinco de Mayo, Apr. 27, 2014. 

One of the most popular dishes eaten in Mexico on Cinco de Mayo is mole poblano, a thick chocolate sauce served over meats and other items. Some favorite recipes include Chalupas, or fried tortillas, and Chiles en Nogada, or peppers stuffed and fried.

The world’s largest Cinco de Mayo celebration takes place in Los Angeles. Known as the Festival de Fiesta Broadway, the 2017 event was expected to bring an estimated 300,000 people.

The U.S. drinks an exorbitant amount of tequila to celebrate the holiday. In 2014, Americans bought 12.3 million cases of tequila for Cinco de Mayo, twice as much as was consumed in Mexico, according to the Daily Meal. About 43 percent of all cocktails ordered on the holiday in the U.S. were margaritas. Americans also eat a ton of avocados on the holiday. More than 81 million avocados are consumed on Cinco de Mayo, according to the California Avocado Commission!

Here it is an Avocado dream cream dessert for you:

Ingredients: ¼ cup mascarpone cheese, 14 cup cold whipping cream, 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup diced ripe avocado, (from Mexico, hehe, divided, but you can replace avocado with apples or raspberry), Amarettini, Italian biscuits with almond taste

Directions: Combine mascarpone cheese, whipping cream, condensed milk, and ½ cup of diced avocados in a large mixing bowl.

With an electric mixer, beat all ingredients together until smooth and creamy.

Fold in remaining ½ cup of diced avocados into avocado cream.

Transfer/layer to serving glasses (the cream is in the middle). Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Garnish with diced avocado, or amarettini almond biscuits and serve with some exotic fruit, such as physalis (Optional).

Above on the picture there is a Toast with avocado, which is made with garlic, chilli, pepper, Mexican guacamole mix spice, half of a lemon juice, and caraway seeds was added to avocado cream as well.

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Greetings from the devil or Krampus running in Münich

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The Feast of St. Nicholas is celebrated in parts of Europe on 6 December. On the preceding evening of December 5, Krampus Night , the wicked hairy devil appears on the streets. Sometimes accompanying St. Nicholas and sometimes on his own, but Krampus visits homes and businesses. The Saint usually appears in the Eastern Rite vestments of a bishop, and he carries a golden ceremonial staff. Unlike in Hungarian versions of Santa Claus, in these celebrations Saint Nicholas concerns himself only with the good children, while Krampus is responsible for the bad. Nicholas dispenses gifts, while Krampus supplies coal and the ruten bundles!

A Krampus running is a run of celebrants dressed as the wicked beast, often fueled by alcohol. The tradition resurrects a centuries-old ancient ritual meant to disperse winter’s ghosts.
It is customary to offer a Krampus schnapps, a strong distilled fruit brandy. These runs may include Perchten, similarly wild pagan spirits of Germanic folklore and sometimes female in representation, although the Perchten are properly associated with the period between winter solstice and 6 January.

The origin of the Krampus running
In Austro-Bavarian Alpine folklore, Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure described as “half-goat, half-demon”, who, during the Christmas season, punishes children who have misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards the well-behaved with gifts. Regions in Austria feature similar figures and, more widely, Krampus is one of a number of Companions of Saint Nicholas in regions of Europe. The origin of the figure is unclear; some folklorists and anthropologists have postulated a pre-Christian origin for the figure.
In traditional parades and in such events as the Krampuslauf (English: Krampus run), young men dressed as Krampus participate; such events occur annually in most Alpine towns. Krampus is featured on holiday greeting cards called Krampuskarten.
The history of the Krampus figure has been theorized as stretching back to Pre-Christian Alpine traditions. In a brief article discussing the figure, published in 1958, Maurice Bruce wrote:
There seems to be little doubt as to his true identity for, in no other form is the full regalia of the Horned God of the Witches so well preserved. The birch – apart from its phallic significance – may have a connection with the initiation rites of certain witch-covens; rites which entailed binding and scourging as a form of mock-death. The chains could have been introduced in a Christian attempt to ‘bind the Devil’ but again they could be a remnant of pagan initiation rites. Discussing his observations while in Irdning, a small town in Styria
The Saint Nicholas festival incorporates cultural elements widely distributed in Europe, in some cases going back to pre-Christian times. Nicholas himself became popular in Germany around the eleventh century. The feast dedicated to this patron of children is only one winter occasion in which children are the objects of special attention, others being Martinmas, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, and New Year’s Day. Masked devils acting boisterously and making nuisances of themselves are known in Germany since at least the sixteenth century while animal masked devils combining dreadful-comic antics appeared in Medieval church plays. A large literature, much of it by European folklorists, bears on these subjects.
Austrians in the community we studied are quite aware of “heathen” elements being blended with Christian elements in the Saint Nicholas customs and in other traditional winter ceremonies. They believe Krampus derives from a pagan supernatural who was assimilated to the Christian devil.
The Krampus figures persisted, and by the 17th century Krampus had been incorporated into Christian winter celebrations by pairing Krampus with St Nicholas. Countries of the former Habsburg Empire have largely borrowed the tradition of Krampus accompanying St Nicholas on 5 December from Austria. Towards the end of the century, a popular resurgence of Krampus celebrations occurred and continues today.
Luckily the Krampus tradition is being revived in Bavaria as well, along with a local artistic tradition of hand-carved wooden masks (I’m really looking forward to the event which will be held on 11th and 18th of December in the city center Marien platz)). There has been public debate in Austria in modern times about whether Krampus is appropriate for children. Although Krampus appears in many variations, most share some common physical characteristics. He is hairy, usually brown or black, and has the cloven hooves and horns of a goat. His long, pointed tongue lolls out, and he has fangs
Krampus carries chains, thought to symbolize the binding of the Devil by the Christian Church. He thrashes the chains for dramatic effect. The chains are sometimes accompanied with bells of various sizes. Of more pagan origins are the ruten, bundles of birch branches that Krampus carries and with which he occasionally swats children. The ruten may have had significance in pre-Christian pagan initiation rites. The birch branches are replaced with a whip in some representations. Sometimes Krampus appears with a sack or a basket strapped to his back; this is to cart off evil children for drowning, eating, or transport to Hell. Some of the older versions make mention of naughty children being put in the bag and being taken. This part of the legend refers to the times that the Moors raided the European coasts, and as far as Iceland, to abduct the local people into slavery. This quality can be found in Belgium in other Companions of Saint Nicholas such as Zwarte Piet who is a young Moorish man.
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A birthday in Mauritius style

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2014 karácsony Belgium 360My best friend’s, Zelia’s birthday was on the 29th of December. As I was in Belgium I could participate on her party. Reading the motto of her invitation- Let’s go to Mauritius!- I became excited because I knew that she spent her honeymoon in the island last year but since we havent’ met. So I was really looking forward to hearing every little details of her adventures.

“For a tiny island of only 1 million people, Mauritius has an incredibly rich and diverse food culture, infused with influences from its mélange of inhabitants (Creole, French, Chinese and Indian people). The island is also blessed with fertile soil, so the local produce is incredible – from super-sized vegetables to sweet fruits”.-so that she began her “review” when everyone took her/his place at the table.

“The street food was fantastic in Mauritius – from fresh coconut water, chopped fruit covered in chilli and sugar- to hot curries topped with chilli and pickles wrapped in buttery breads, and Chinese fried noodles. Mauritius also had many fabulous restaurants – from local eateries with authentic food to gourmet places that served Mauritian fusion food. We took the advice of our hotel owner, who suggested that not to stay in the hotel, but rather explore the island and it’s amazing food.

First we found stalls on the street selling dholl puris all over Mauritius, but the very best place to get them was at Dewa in Rose-Hill. Dholl puris are thought to be derived from Indian flatbread, paratha. Indian immigrants to Mauritius couldn’t get the ingredients to make the bread on the island, and their substitute, a fried thin bread stuffed with ground yellow split peas, and served in a pair with bean curry, atchar and chutney.”-and saying that she offered the first appetizer which was a wrap filled with poultry or fish accompanied by shredded lettuce, diced tomato, guacamole, spring onions and honey mustard or joghurt-mayonnaise sauce.

“Gajak was our second discovery on the island which was a snack. They were being sold from glass boxes on the back of motorbikes or at food stalls near markets, beaches and on the side of the road. We ate the deep fried variety, tried the samoosas, gateau aubergine (eggplant fritters), manioc goujons (cassava chips) and gateau patat (potato fritters). (She made eggplant quiche).

“When we got bored with the Indian cuisine, we gave a try to the Cantonese food (thanks to the Chinese population of the island). It was worth since I had the best dim sum at First Restaurant in Port Louis. -continued Jan, Zelia’s husband. “We found typical Cantonese dim sum with Mauritian touches, such as shrimp and taro dumplings as well. I had learned only later that Mauritians have made their own dim sum as well, which was called boulet – these were dumplings made from fish, prawns, or chou chou (a pear-shaped vegetable). Boulet are usually steamed and then eaten in a fish broth with lots of chilli.2014 karácsony Belgium 464

Fish vindaye

This Mauritian dish is supposedly adapted from the Indian vindaloo, although there’s debate about this. It’s cooked with mustard, garlic, ginger, turmeric, onion and usually fish, although it can be made with vegetables instead. It’s served with rice, lentils, pickles and chutneys. It was delicious- (instead of vindaye Zelia prepared prawns in vanilla-coconut sauce, see the picture)

Ingredients: 1 tablespoon butter, 16 prawns (also called tiger or jumbo shrimp), peeled, deveined, tail on, 1 vanilla bean, split, 1/2 cup coconut milk, twisted from freshly grated coconut in a cheesecloth, Salt and ground black pepper

Directions: In a medium saute pan, melt the butter. Add the prawns and vanilla bean and let them saute for 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk and let it thicken. When the prawns are completely cooked, season with the salt and pepper and serve

Vanilla-tea-rum plantations

The cheap vanilla that’s sold to tourists in Mauritius’ markets and souvenir shops was not actually Mauritian – it’s poor quality vanilla from Madagascar. The only place where we could buy Mauritian-grown vanilla was at St Aubin, a restored colonial mansion that had a small vanilla plantation and rhumerie (their coffee rum is delicious, by the way). First we visited the deliciously-fragranced Vanilla House where we learned how vanilla was grown, took a look at the vanilla plants in the garden, and then had a feast on chicken cooked in vanilla and vanilla creme brulee in the restaurant, on the veranda of the fabulous old sugar plantation mansion.

We also visited the famous Bois Cheri tea estate, it was located in the south of the island, there were grown the black teas (they were mixed with Ceylon tea imported from Sri Lanka, and vanilla flavouring imported from South Africa, to produce a delicious black vanilla tea). We came accross with the vanilla tea all over the island (simply the Air of Mauritius was filled with the aroma) but the best place to drink it was at the Bois Cheri cafe after our tour of the tea factory and a tea tasting. On the top of that the cafe had incredible views over the tea plantation fields, fringed with palm trees, and the southern coastline. We ordered a “cuppa” with a tasty tea-infused dessert such as tea sorbet, and my hubby with a papaya panacotta with tea jelly. Of course we took some Bois Cheri tea from the shop to home.

2014 Xmas in Belgium and France 024Rum diary

There’s rum and then there’s rum. While Mauritian rum isn’t up to the standard of Reunion island or the Caribbean, it was pretty good, especially at one of the three distilleries on the island the produce agricole rum (that’s rum made the proper way, from sugar cane juice instead of molasses). St Aubin and Chateau Labourdonnais produce great rums (do a rum tasting at each spot and try them out yourself) but Rhumerie de Chamarel in Chamarel, in the south west, makes award-winning double-distilled rum that’s been aged in oak. It’s a cut above the others.

All three distilleries produce rum arrange, infused rum with various flavours, such as vanilla, coffee, kumquat, spices and citrus fruit (we bought one with coffee). These rums are sweetened with sugar so are a bit more palatable if you’re not a huge rum person!

Ti rum: Short for ‘petit rum punch’, this was drunk all over the island, with different ingredients added into a base of rum and sugar syrup. My favourite was ti rum punch by Graham, made with fresh citrus fruit juice. You could buy ready-made ti rum punch from Rhumerie de Chamarel. We bought two bottles one with coffee flavour and the other one with citrus fruit.2014 Xmas in Belgium and France 023

As dessert we got two kinds of Chamarel rum drink

Chamarel Ti punch recipe: ingredients: 3 cl premium white rum, 4-5 slices lime, 2 tbsp of brown sugar, crushed ice

Place the lime and sugar into a glass and muddle. Fill the glass with crushed ice and add the premium white rum!

Coffee liqueur

3 cl coffee liqueur, mint cream (after eight, melted) whipped cream

Fill the glass with coffee liqueur. Pour the mint cream slowly and add the whipped cream to it.

Planteur punch

4 cl mandarin liqueur, ice cubes, orange juice, pineapple juice, Angostura bitter

fill the glass with ice cubes and add the mandarin liqueur. pour the fruit juices slowly and add the Angostura.

It was a super evening with lots of sensational new infos and with incredible good food!2014 karácsony Belgium 200

Mauritius’ local beer, Phoenix, is an award-winning, crisp, refreshing lager that goes well with pretty much anything you’ll eat on the island, and is great by itself, drunk at sunset on the beach.

 

 

 

 

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)

 

Perfect illusion in Hollywood style

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Lights! Camera! And the Oscar goes to…

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Create your own glamour on Oscar night with a vintage Hollywood bash at home. An evening that takes guests back to an era. To the glamorous thirties? Fifties? It’s your choise! In addition to sleek decorations and a decadent meal-eaten in front of the TV, of course-that suggest trivia and prizes that will keep guests on their toes from arrivals to after-parties coverage on TV. So invite your own rat pack people over and let the fun begin!

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Setting the scene in black and white? According to the golden era? In art nouveau style, with silver, sparkling jewels, feathers, with a huge poster of Ginger and Fred in the living room..or..as you wish!

Send invites in film canisters with an awards ballot tucked inside. Copy the nomination list of the top categories from the newspaper or download it from oscar.com. Ask guests to show up a half-hour before airtime with completed ballots, and to dress a bit glamorously.

The Décor: white and black, gold accented with Old Hollywood ambience. Use a gold runner or a black tablecloth on the buffet table, tie the napkins with gold ribbon. Move the biggest TV into the living room, provide plenty of seatings. Clear off coffee tablets and side tables to make room for plates and glasses.

Flowers: You need vases of varying heights to fill in with white tulips and fresias.

Music: Le Miserable (this year hit musical) or best song nominees from years past.

And the winner is…Oscar ballots: place a tray for completed ballots near the front door. after guests arrive, pass out pens and have each guests pick another guests”s ballot to score during the show.

Trivia contest: during commercials, test guests tinseltown knowledge with trivia questions. For instance What does Oscar stand on? (a film reel) what film and sequel both won a best picture Oscar? (The godfather and the Godfather part II:) What was the first X-rated film to win the best picture? (Midnight cowboy)

Prizes: A bottle of champagne or a DVD

The menu

Olga bread

Oscar 006Ingredients: 1 baguette, 200 gr crème fraiche, 100 gr sour crème, 1-2 tbs horseradish, lemon juice, pepper, 50 gr black caviar, smoked forel or salmon, red caviar

Cut the baguette into nice slices, toast them slightly. Mix crème fraiche with the sour cream and horseradish, squeeze lemon juice and ground pepper. Smear the baguettes with the cream, place on the top the salmon, garnish with caviar and ciboulette..

Duck liver terrine

Ingredients for the duck liver parfait: 200 gr butter, 1 shalotte, 1 apple, 10 gr ginger, 1 orange, 3 tb portwine, 3 tbs redwine, 100 ml duck fond, 1 rosemary sprig, 2 thyme sprigs, 250 gr duck liver, 1 egg, salt, pepper, nutmeg, 2 spoons of pistache, portwine jello, white gelatine, 80 ml portwine, 30 ml cassis

Cut away and discard any large sinews from the livers, then set the livers aside. Heat about a third of the butter in a large frying pan, then gently fry the shallots and garlic for 3-4 mins until soft. Turn up the heat, add the livers, then fry until just browned on all sides. Add the brandy and port, boil down as quickly as possible – if the sauce catches light for an instant, then all the better. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool completely.

Season the livers generously, then tip the contents of the pan into a food processor with the remaining butter, and blitz until smooth. Push the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, taste for seasoning, then tip into a serving dish, banging the dish down on the tabletop to smooth out the surface. Place in the fridge to set.

Once the mixture has set, make the topping. Gently melt the butter in a small pan or in a bowl in the microwave, then leave for a min to settle and separate. Pour the yellow butter that has risen to the top into another bowl and discard the milky liquid. Leave the yellow butter to cool slightly, then mix in the thyme and peppercorns. Pour the mixture over the parfait and leave to set in the fridge. Serve with plenty of toast, sliced gherkins and chutney. Will keep for 2 days in the fridge.

Salmon and fresh cheese Timbale

Ingredients: 8 slices smoked salmon, 225 g thick cream cheese, 100 ml sour cream (or 2 tbsp lemon juice tbsp mayonnaise), 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, 100 g crabmeat (or 100g chopped prawns), 2 teaspoons chopped dill, 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon brandy (optional)

Ingredients: for the dressing: 2 tbs white vinegar, half tbs mustard, salt, sugar, pepper, 2 tbs of olive

Grease 8 (100ml) ramekins with a little oil then line with a piece of plastic wrap, making sure to leave enough overhang. Place a slice of salmon in each ramekin. Beat the cream cheese with the sour cream, stir in crab or prawn, add dill, mustard and season to taste. Spoon into moulds, fold over overhanging salmon then fold over the plastic wrap to cover. Chill at least 3 hours. It can be made 24 hours ahead!

Plum and peach in bacon ham coat

Ingredients: 8 dry plums unpitted, 8 almond seeds, 8 dry peaches, 8 sage leaves, 16 smoked bacons, such as Pancetta.

Preheat the oven for 200 grades. Place sage leaves on smoked bacons, roll over almonds, plums and peaches with bacon slices. Bind edges with a tooth stick and place on the baking tray and bake them for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Champagne sorbet

Ingredients: 2 lemons, rind, 2 egg whites, 500 ml champagne,

Cook together sugar, lemon and juice in a saucepan for 5 minutes, let it cool, pour over champagne .

Whisk egg whites until stiff, stir in the champagne carefully. Place sorbet into fridge for 4 hours. Serve in silver ice cream bowls. Stylish and handy..

 

My advent calendar and some Christmas magic

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Since I’ve been living in Münich for more than five years it’s not possible not noticing that Advent is knocking on the door. Children get the Advent calendar soon, and people tune themselves up onto the holiday’s mood with Christmas fairs, concerts and feasting.

When I’ve made some research about the origin of the Advent calendar I didn’t have to go far because it comes from German Lutherans who, at least as early as the beginning of the 19th century would count down the first 24 days of December physically. Often this meant simply drawing a chalk line on the door each day, beginning on December 1st. Some families had more elaborate means of marking the days, such as lighting a new candle (perhaps the genesis of today’s Advent wreath) or hanging a little religious picture on the wall each day.

Now see how does my Advent calendar look like in 2012

1 Dec: I make the wish list together with my children

2 Dec: I light the first candle on the Advent wreath.

3 Dec: We open our own Platzchen (flat cookies or biscuits) baker shop! We make macarons, vanilla kipferl, lebkuchen-gingerbread! The advantage is they stay fresh until Christmas!

4 Dec: Barbara twig’s day. Although Barbara is not a fashionable German name anymore, the custom of Barbara twig (zweig in German) is still popular in Germany, particularly in Catholic regions. To honour of the patron saint of miners, artillerymen and firemen a small cherry branch or sprig is cut off and placed in water on that day (St. Barbara’s Day). Sometimes a twig from some other flowering plant or tree may be used: apple, forsythia, plum, lilac. But it is the cherry tree that is most customary and authentic. If all goes well, on Christmas day the sprig will display blossoms. If it blooms precisely on December 25th, this is regarded as a particularly good sign for the future.

5 Dec: Mistletoe’s day. According to ancient Christmas tradition, a man and a woman who met under a mistletoe were obliged to kiss (the custom may be of Scandinavian origin) and this custom still goes on. Beside of that kissing stuff the forever green mistletoe is one of the most favorable Xmas decoration in Germany. 

6 Dec: St Nicolaus day. Everyone knows that he was originally a Greek Bishop of Myra in the 4th-century. Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker. He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose modern name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas (itself from a series of elisions and corruptions of the transliteration of “Saint Nikolaos”). From the 15th century his reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints.

7 Dec: Giftpapers painting, coloring etc.

8 Dec: Xmas cards writing day

9 Dec: On the second weekend of advent I give a pause for myself. I will probably go out with friends to a cafe and will discover some new delicious cake from the offer.

10 Dec: I’ll visit-meet friends 

11 Dec: I’ll make Christmas ornaments of straw, paper, pearl, nuts etc. and I’ll dress up the windows. This is a kind of obligatory Xmas program.

12 Dec: concert’s day. Evening there is a Christmas oratorium in closter Schaftlarn but during the day I will hit the town with my family in order to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere in the Middle-Ages city. (Mittel Alt Stadt)

13 Dec: The day is dedicated to Saint Lucy. Its modern day celebration is generally associated with Sweden and Norway where girls dressed as angelic Christ children, handing out Christmas presents. The oldest daughter brings coffee and St. Lucia buns to her parents while wearing a candle-wreath and singing a Lucia song. Other daughters may help, dressed in the same kind of white robe and carrying a candle in one hand, but only the oldest daughter can wear the candle-wreath. The traditional bun, Lussekatt (“St. Lucia Bun”) is made with saffron.

In Hungary we call the day Luca-Lucy’s seat which is one of the most interesting of the Christmas Day festivities (In English speaking countries’ inherent evil’s day has also held on this day). The Luca seat’s preparation is launched on 13 December and one must make it from nine different twigs of trees. Then the seat is made up to 13 days so that each day is only one operation can be performed on it, hence the popular saying goes that “slowly made ​​like the Luca chair” .

14 Dec: Nature calls! Inspite the cold weather a walk will do a lot good to you while nature is the best sress reliever. Breath in and out.

15 Dec: Glüchwein, Schupfnudeln and sweet waffle’s time. Negus, rolled finger noodles and waffle’s cheer us up. Evening I will participate on “The most beautiful Christmas choirs”‘s concert in the castle Nymphenburg.

16 Dec: Storyteller day. I am invited to a flower shop where the topic will be the fairies by the Grimm brothers. Evening I will light the third candle on the advent wreath and read fairies to my daughters, or we will watch some nice children movie such as Happily ever after or Golden compass.

17 Dec: We’ll make the wish tree

18 Dec: I will make the shopping list, (be aware of it that Xmas Eve falls on Monday this year).

19 Dec: I’ll make the nice punch the German Fire bowl out of the steel (0,4 l Apple juice, 1 sugar-loaf, two teaspoons of cinnamon, Sangria or red wine and rum then put on fire!..Mmm)

20 Dec: Christmas party at workplace!

21 Dec: Sport day. The first snow usually falls down onto the end of December so it’s time for winter sports, sledging, snowboarding in the Alps are among our favorite pastime’s sports

22 Dec: Chamber music I will sing!

23 Dec: Travelling to Belgium

24 Dec: Xmas Eve. The big day will set in. In the morning I will decorate the Xmas tree then I will speed up…

I wish all of you a jolly, happy Xmas!

The German city of Dresden has a giant calendar built into a fairytale castle on its Christmas market, the Striezelmarkt. Similarly, the German town of Uslar uses the windows of its town hall as a giant advent calendar.