roasted cherry tomatoes with homemade goat cheese

I’ve been in a cooking funk lately. No matter how hungry I may be when I come home from work, I just can’t seem to motivate myself to do any real cooking. Tonight I had scrambled eggs for dinner. Yesterday was bread with cheese. The night before was leftover green beans, a side dish I had made the night before to go with absolutely nothing else. And before that, it was this week’s Cook the Book recipe, David’s Cherry Tomato Crostini with Homemade Herbed Goat Cheese. So it would seem that this group is the only thing getting me into the kitchen lately. Does this ever happen to anyone else? Let’s hope it passes soon.

MPK110 (3)Well, anyway, let’s start with the homemade herbed goat cheese. I did manage to find goat yogurt without too much searching and I started this recipe by setting the yogurt to strain. Considering that it was greek yogurt, I was surprised to see that I still had quite a bit of water drain out. While this was happening, I also made the oven-roasted cherry tomatoes. This is an old favorite which I make fairly often. Depending on my mood I’ll either use Nigella’s “moon blush” tomatoes or Dorie’s classic version. David’s version was equally delicious and also quick and easy to put together.

MPK110 (7)So far so good and so far quite easy. So you can imagine my surprise when I ran into trouble with the crostini of all things. Or rather, lack thereof. Somehow I hadn’t noticed that the bread my husband had sliced up for his breakfast was the ciabatta I had bought for this recipe. Surely I’ve mentioned before that all the stores here in Germany are closed on Sundays. So… how to make crostini without any bread?

I started poking through my cupboards and my cookbooks to see what else I could come up with. And don’t ya know it, that Dorie came to the rescue in the form of her supper easy corn pancakes.

Turns out, corn pancakes were the perfect substitute in a pinch and made for a very summery light Sunday dinner on the balcony. I’ll have to remember this dish next time I’m in a cooking funk because this recipe was easy enough not to feel like real cooking and yet satisfying enough to feel like a real meal.

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apricot crumble tart with apricot kernel ice cream

This week’s Cook the Book Fridays recipe, Apricot Crumble Tart, was love at first sight. I love fruit tarts, I LOVE apricots, and I love crumbles. Talk about an easy sell. In fact, this is not even the first time that I’ve made this particular recipe.

Even so, I was excited to make it again and to help distribute the calories, we invited some friends over on Sunday for Kaffee und Kuchen. Kaffee und Kuchen, or Coffee and Cake, is a German tradition perhaps best described as a more casual version of the English High Tea. According to the German Mission in the United States’ website, “In between lunch and dinner, there is traditionally a short break for a social gathering around a piece of cake or two and a hot steaming cup of coffee or tea. This ritual is referred to as Kaffee und Kuchen, Kaffeetrinken, or Kaffeeklatsch. These days, it is still quite common to get together with friends and family on a Sunday afternoon between 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. to share some cake and good conversation.”


Now, I can’t speak for all Germans, but I can tell you that this tradition lives strong in my social circle here in Frankfurt. Not necessarily every Sunday, but I would say at least once a month we will go out and meet friends for cake on a Sunday afternoon. Every bakery or cafe will of course have something to offer, but many restaurants get in on the action as well, and judging by how difficult it can be to nab a table at some of the more popular spots, it would seem that we are not the only ones observing this particular tradition.


But this past Sunday there was no need to jostle for a table. Instead, I stayed home and made David’s very season and delicious Apricot Crumble Tart and topped it off with his recommended Apricot Kernel Ice Cream. The tart was a cinch to put together, especially the crust was far lower maintenance than your average tart crust dough. The ice cream required a bit of patience, a little muscle, and a lot of noise to get the kernels out of their shells, but once that task was done, the rest was quite straightforward. The result was a creamy and wonderful ice cream with a distinct almond taste, which paired perfectly with the tart.


All in all, this was a wonderful combination and one which is bound to become a summer tradition in our house.

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buckwheat crepes with ham and cheese

This week’s Cook the Book Fridays recipe is Buckwheat Crepes with Ham, Cheese, and Egg. Yes, please!

Is there a more quintessentially French food than crepes? I think not. I am personally a sucker for the sweet variety sold in the streets of Paris, my favorite filling being a sprinkling of sugar and a douse of lemon juice… Simple, delicious.

But this week we are making the savory version, and if we want to get all fussy about the vocabulary, we are actually making galettes, a.k.a. crepes made with buckwheat flour. I’m one who often makes my breakfast pancakes with half white and half buckwheat flour, so this recipe is right up my alley.

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It would seem that my crepe making skills are a tad rusty, because it took me at least 4 or 5 tries to start turning out decent crepes. Luckily the recipe made more batter than we needed for our dinner. But once I had a few good ones the rest of this recipe came together very quickly with the simple addition of ham, cheese, and a simple egg.

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As suspected, this was delicious and we both loved it. Not just that, but I realized that we generally have all of these ingredients on hand, so I will be keeping this in mind for next time the stores run low and I have no idea what to make for dinner.

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veggie slaw and chicken lady chicken

What the heck? My travel schedule has been pure madness. I can’t even remember where I’ve been since I last posted along with this group. In fact, in two hours I need to leave for the airport again, but this time at least it’s a fun trip home to visit family. You’ll have to forgive me for keeping this short.

Soccer and Brexit. Brexit and soccer. There are no other topics of conversation around here at the moment. I’m guessing you’ve already heard about the Brexit madness, but if you don’t live in Europe, you might not be aware that we are knee-deep in the quadrennial European Championships. Every time the German team plays, the entire country stops whatever else they were doing. In our case, each game seems to be an excuse for a get together with friends. For the Germany vs. Slovakia it was our turn to host and I used the opportunity to try to get back into the My Paris Kitchen groove with Chicken Lady Chicken and Raw Veggie Slaw.


Both recipes were delicious. The chicken cooked up perfectly in my grill pan (though the grill pan may never be clean again) and the veggie slaw was a perfect (thought difficult to photograph) side. I used broccoli, kohlrabi, and radishes in my slaw which turned out to be a great combo. I can’t remember having ever even tried kohlrabi before moving to Germany, but have since discovered that it adds a nice refreshing crunch to salads and worked perfectly in this one.


I’m off. Looking forward to catching up with everyone this weekend.

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croque madame

In his introcution to this week’s Cook the Book recipe, David warns us that these days it is easy to find a bad Croque Monsieur, a.k.a., a grilled ham & cheese sandwich. I suspect that I must have stumbled upon one of the bad ones my first time around because I have only a vague memory of ordering a croque monsieur once, and thinking that once was enough.

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I’ll even admit to giving serious thought to changing this recipe around. I mean, I love a good grilled cheese, and I love it even more with a slice of tomato or a bit of avocado… or even a bit of both. So why not make a croque végétarien. Actually, I still think it sounds like a good idea, but this time around I followed instructions. To be more specific, I followed instructions for a croque madame, which is a gilled ham & cheese sandwich topped with a fried egg.

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In the end I was rewarded for my decision to follow the rules, because this was absolutely delicious, exactly as written. Granted, it has a few more steps than your average grilled cheese sandwich, but the end result was worth the effort and we both loved this one.

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artichoke tapenade with rosemary oil

In the German state where I live, we officially get 10 public holidays per year; New Years, Easter Friday, Easter Monday, May Day, Ascension, Whit Monday, Corpus Christi, Unity Day, Christmas, and Boxing Day.This will sound like quite a lot, until I point out that many of the holidays are not moveable or observable on a different day. What this means is that when May Day, Christmas Day, and New Years Day all fall on a Sunday, as they do in 2016 for example, well, those of us who don’t normally work on a Sunday are simply out of luck.

But in spring, ah spring, there is simply no room for complaint and it all kicks off with a nice long 4-day Easter weekend. My husband and I usually use the opportunity to sneak away for a small trip and this past Easter we made our first visit to Edinburgh. It was an absolutely lovely city and we really enjoyed our visit. We ate well, we drank well, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. And yes, for the record, we even survived the haggis. We tried it at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, so maybe it’s just the whisky talking, but dare I say that we actually both liked it!


Back home in Frankfurt, I was very grateful that this week’s My Paris Kitchen recipe, Artichoke Tapenade with Rosemary Oil, was an easy one, and even more grateful to discover that I already had most of the ingredients in my cupboard. Luckily, I even had capers in my fridge because, as David tells us, we’re not allowed to call it a tapenade without the capers. Consider yourselves schooled:-)

This simple spread came together in minutes and was incredibly tasty. I will absolutely be making this one again.

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honey spice bread and attempted stew

I’ve often opined that travel is one of the ultimate relationship tests. Why and how different people travel can be so… well… different! Different paces, different priorities, different expectations, and different comfort levels when dealing with the unknown. I once booked a two-week vacation to China with a boyfriend I had been dating for nearly one year; less than 24 hours after stepping off the plane I knew that we had to break up. The moral of the story is, plan a nice little weekend trip together before you wind up spending 13 days trapped in a hotel room with your future ex boyfriend.

David Lebovitz opens this week’s Cook the Book Fridays recipe, Honey Spice Bread, with these words: “Some people travel to sightsee or visit museums, cathedrals, or gardens. Me? I travel to eat.” David sounds like my ideal travel companion:-)


He then goes on to warn us that this is a bread and not a cake. I guess I need to work on my listening skills because even after reading this warning, I found myself initially disappointed that this recipe wasn’t very cakey. It just smelled so amazing while it was baking and very reminiscent of gingerbread or similar Christmas treats, that I completely forgot. In any case, my initial disappointment was quickly overcome once I remembered to treat the bread as bread and started experimenting with toppings. David points out that it is quite good with froi gras, but I didn’t have any of that lying around. Topped with the very prosaic peanut butter and jelly, it made a surprisingly good breakfast. My husband enjoyed a few slices with gravalax and sweet mustard. But my absolute favorite topping turned out to be a nice smear of Fume d’Ambert blue cheese. All in all, a delicious and very repeatable recipe.

IMG_4221As for this week’s actual recipe, Belgian Beef Stew with Beer and the aforementioned Spice Bread, well, that didn’t turn out so well. The sauce was delicious, the beer (my favorite Belgian of course!) was also delicious, the meat was dry and tasteless.

As much as I would love to deflect blame away from my cooking skills and on to the recipe, I can’t in good conscious do it because this particular problem seems to plague most of my attempts at making stew. I would love to know where I’m going wrong. Am I cooking it too long, too short. Am I inadvertently buying the wrong kind of meat? It’s entirely possible that something is getting lost in translation between me and the butcher. I just don’t know. At least I had some leftover beer to drown my sorrows.

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dukkah-roasted cauliflower

Last week an old colleague posted one of those memories on facebook from “10 Years Ago Today.”It was a fun memory of an afterwork outing while on a business trip to Frankfurt. Me and the IT gang had been working very long hours on that trip and were enjoying a well deserved cocktail for our troubles. It also reminded me that the photo was taken mere days before I met my husband, for that was indeed the fatefull business trip when our paths first crossed.

Fast forward through one year of loooong distance dating, one international move, and one wedding, and here I am, living on the other side of the pond with an adorable husband who speaks english with a funny accent. Sometimes it just takes my breath away to think about the crazy and unexpected paths that life takes us down. Seriously, had I known, I would have studied German in school instead of French!

Living abroad is a whole mixed bag of crazy highs and lows. According to the relocation book I bought before moving, most expats go through three stages: (1) the vacation period, when everthing in the new country seems exciting and wonderful, (2) transition shock, also known as home-sickness and considered a form of temporary depression, and finally (3) adjustment to the new environment. I went though all of these, multiple times, and while I still have days when I look around and wonder, “how the heck did I get here!” I have mostly long since adjusted to life in my new home.

Adjustment doesn’t mean that everything is perfect, I still miss the US and my friends and family back home (oh, and decent Mexican food!) but it does mean that my view of my new home is more balanced: not perfect as I thought during the vacation period, or horrible like I thought during my deep bouts of home sickness, but a balanced mix of both.

Looking on the bright side of that balance, one of the great things about living here in Germany is the availability of culinary sensations from Africa and the Middle East. I may not be able to find decent salsa here, but there are any number of places I can go to enjoy fresh and delicious hummus, drizzled with oil & spices and served with chopped lamb & warm pita to scoop it up. It’s really, SO good.

All of which brings us to this week’s  My Paris Kitchen recipe, Dukkah-Roasted Cauliflower. Dukkah, if you have not yet had the pleasure, is an Egyptian spiced nut mix which adds great flavor to whatever it is spinkled over. Like salsa, there really is no ONE recipe and variations abound. David’s (which can be found on his website) calls for a mix of freshly toasted ground nuts, seeds, spices, and salt. This recipe was incredibly easy and came together very quickly.


He then suggests that we sprinkle this nutty mix over roasted cauliflower. Another incredibly simple dish which was absolutely delicious paired some quick chicken breasts. Easy recipes which deliver tasty and wholesome dinners are always winners in my book and I’m looking forward to seeing what else Mr. Lebovitz has up his sleeve as we continue working our way through his book.


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a new adventure

We’re getting the band back together!

This site has gone dormant since French Fridays with Dorie wrapped up and I’m happy to say that a new cookbook adventure has come along to inject a bit of life into my kitchen and my blog. Yes, some of the old FFwD gang put their heads together and came up with a new cook the book project, this time with David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.

I am not, as it were, a Paris Kitchen virgin. This lovely book has graced my bookshelf for a little over one year and some delicious previews could already be seen in a few of my FFwD posts. So far the recipes I have tried have been delicious and I am very excited to dive into some of the more challenging recipes with my favorite group of online cooks… I missed you guys!

I also missed the first week (way to start off on the right foot) and so my very first post will be a double. Last week the ladies made the very seasonal & tasty Winter Salad. With endives and a creamy roquefort dressing (yum!), this salad was the perfect first course to this week’s recipe…

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Steak with Mustard Butter and French Fries, how great does that sound! I made a half batch of fries because, well, my self control tends to melt around fries, even oven fries, and these were no exception. David writes in his book about how Americans are known in France for eating their streak with ketchup and the French are known for eating their’s with butter. As an American I can say that it has never occured to me to serve my steak with either condiment; ketchup sounds like an insult to a good steak and butter sounds a bit like gilding the lilly. But upon closer inspection, the French may just be on to something:-)


Let’s do this!

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le fin

FFwD004 024I joined the French Fridays with Dorie group because I needed something to do. I needed a distraction during a time when I was not working and was dealing with some not so fun medical procedures. Lots of time to sit around worrying is exactly what I did not need in that situation and so, in looking for an escape, I stumbled upon French Fridays with Dorie.

I am not a natural extrovert and the idea of joining a public forum like this one was quite daunting. I hemmed and hawed over it for a few months. The blogs I saw were perfectly edited and filled with beautiful photographs of food made by people who were obviously natural-born chefs. Yes, I know this sounds silly, but like I said, it was a difficult time and this was my thought process. I hemmed and hawed a little more and finally took the plunge.

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What I needed was an escape and what I expected was to improve my cooking skills. But as many of you have already said, this journey has proven to be so much more. I have new confidence in the kitchen (the benefit of hanging out with a group of natural-born chefs for 4+ years:-)) and an arsenal of tried and true recipes. So many of Dorie’s recipes have wormed their way into my regular repertoire and a few have even become annual Thanksgiving traditions. I have not yet met the dear lady herself, but one day I hope to be able to thank her in person. Thanks to Dorie, my cupboards are stocked with pistachio oil, cardamom pods, and puff pastry. Thanks to Dorie, I can now spatchcock a chicken and whip up pie dough. And above all, I would thank her for being such a good sport as this rather unruly group of strangers picked their way through her years of hard work. I’m not sure that I would have been able to handle that with as much grace.

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In this group I found kindred spirits. At home I am laughed at (not unkindly mind you, but laughed at all the same) for the sheer number of cookbooks on my shelves and the piles of kitchen gadgetry spilling out of my cupboards. In this group, I am among friends. Friends whose cookbook shelves make mine pale in comparison and whose spacious pantries I envy. On a weekly basis I was able to work up the courage to tackle some intimidating new recipes because I knew that this group would be there at the end to support me. You’ve never laughed at my failures, but have instead helped me to learn to laugh at them myself. I can’t thank you enough.

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Four year ago I had too much free time and too many worries. Today I’m back at work and life is hectic but good. Four years ago I wasn’t sure if I would feel comfortable in such a group. Today my eyes tear up at the thought of it ending.

A few weeks ago, just after we had finished the very last recipe from Around my French Table, I sat down to put together my menu plan and grocery list for the weekend. And do you know, I had no idea what to make. I seriously sat there for a few minutes, stumped as to what I was going to do without Dorie telling me what to cook and without the Doristas giving me support along the way. But then I remembered that shelf full of cookbooks and all the new recipes I’ve mastered, and life carried on:-)

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This is not goodbye, it is just the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next.

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