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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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:-)

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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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