……….

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pack Your Pickle




I just spent the last half of an hour debating if you would find these rather simple photos interesting enough to see at the "x-large" setting that google's blog template offers.  I shrunk some, enlarged others, tried to move them around to make a collage sort of thing (not possible with google blog template or I just don't know how) and was not satisfied.


Yeah, yeah… this post is supposed to be about making pickles (see way below for all that stuff) but half the fun came from the visuals this little project produced.  Neatly packed cut vegetables in jars, love it.  Before the hot vinegary liquid is poured and after: glorious.  

Why the fascination, you ask?  I don't know but in the end, I just made all the images the same size.

(recipe after the photos)

The beloved mixed veggie jar:  green and yellow beans, radishes, carrots, cauliflower, onions, ginger, fresh coriander, garlic and a couple of chills for good measure.


As straight up as I went with the pickling project:  local organic baby cumbers, mustard seeds, fresh dill, a couple of chilis for good measure, again.


Poetry in a jar.

Just waiting for hot lovin'.
                   
Guilty pleasures:  Mini peppers with LOTS of hotness going on inside... and garlic.
Submerged and beautiful.
Bleeding heart:  local organic red beets, fennel, mint, dill… and garlic.


My XL jar of over the top spicy pickles.  All mine!

Family photo.






I'm no pickling expert, just a regular curious person who loves a good pickle. Below is the recipe I tweaked.  I like the slightly sweet, a bit more salty experience but I do know you can use only salt if that's your thing.

Also, in my mind, anything goes, pickle whatever the hell you want.  I'm sure there will be varying results based on what it is that you choose but sticking with firm veggies always yields a good crunch. 

Speaking of a good crunch, that's what I'm after as well.  I'm still in the testing mode here but I can say that I just tried one of my super spicy cucumber pickles and it was absolutely DELICIOUS,  less than 24 hours in the fridge. Actually, I would be very happy if they stay exactly the way they are (perhaps a little spicier) but let's see what happens after another day or two.  I'll be updating my findings in the comments. 

Warning:  Calculate how much fridge space you have before undergoing your pickling project, these need to be refrigerated.  If you go nuts buying your veggies and can't stop yourself like I couldn't, you either have to have catering capacity refrigeration  (lucky me) or you have to have lots of friends to pickle gift.  Careful that you don't end up with too much pickle to pack. Har har.



FORTUNA'S QUICK PICKLE RECIPE

INGREDIENTS

4 Crispy Baby Cucumbers (Kirby cucumbers), washed, dried, and quartered lengthwise
2 or 3 sprigs fresh dill (or any herb you like)
1 cup distilled white vinegar 
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 fresh chili
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

DIRECTIONS
STEP 1
Place cucumbers, herbs, chili and garlic in a jar.

STEP 2
Heat vinegar, sugar, and salt in a saucepan, stirring, until sugar and salt have dissolved. Pour into jar. Let cool completely, uncovered. Pickles are best refrigerated overnight (or up to 6 weeks) before serving.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Those cute little houses

The first time I saw a Schrebergartenkolonie, I thought it must be the equivalent to an American trailer park and those cute little houses, mobile homes.  I thought to myself, "Everything is quaint Europe".  Granted, this was back in 1997 and I soon found out that those garden colonies were not at all similar to trailer parks, rather, plots of land, often within the city limits, that people own to connect with nature (roughly speaking). I thought to myself,  "That's a very good idea".

I've had the pleasure to visit a few of these gardens over the years and last weekend I was invited to my friend's for a bbq.  We all brought a little something to share, as is often the case, and the rest is history.  Good times within the city limits.

Find my tasty potato salad recipe that I shared down below.
















Schrabergarten Potato Salad

Serves 4-6

5kg Potatoes
2 cups of mayo
1 head garlic, chopped
handful chopped parsley
1 tablespoon of lemon zest
sea salt
cracked pepper

Preheat oven at 220°.  Wash potatoes, leave skin on and cut into 1 inch cubes.  Spread evenly on a rimmed cookie sheet, drizzle liberally with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and roast until cooked thru.

Once potatoes are cool, mix with the rest of the ingredients and salt and pepper to taste.  AND feel free to increase or decrease the amount garlic but remember, it's the garlic that make is dish what it is.





Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Don't call it a comeback


Dear friends, as a blogger I have been MIA.

This poor thing has been neglected for far too long. I will skip the boring details of why and just jump in:

I still love cooking.  I still love images. I still love a few good words.

So, without further ado, let me begin with a spontaneous little photo shoot we had with Laura Deschner not too long ago. Laura, a local photographer and friend, was over having coffee one day and I told her about how I'd like to see food photography to go into a new direction. I'm just tired of the same old same old and though there are some new ideas floating around out there, most of it is just… meh.

The next chance she had, Laura came over with her bags of equipment, set up a full-on studio and did her magic.  Lucky for us, we were preparing for Veggie Freak Out, a night devoted to our vegetarian and vegan clients and we all know how photogenic a vegetable can be.  I'm being serious. Then, as if things couldn't get any better, she took the camera into the dining room and caught the freak out in action.

Za'atar Baked Sweet Potato, Goat Cheese, Roasted Red Grapes, Honey & Cracked Pepper
Minty Fattoush Salad
Edamame Guacamole with home fried corn chips

Quinoa Burger with Sriracha Mayo














Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thanksgiving in Berlin at Feast

Join us for the biggest feast of the year. Whether you are an expat in town, searching for those particular flavors that you can only get at Thanksgiving or a new fan of this very American meal, you've got a place at our table at Fortuna's Feast in Neukölln, Weserstr. 58. We do Thanksgiving proud! This year we are encouraging you to use Ploonge for final reservations and pre-payments for the food only. (Save 3,50 on all meals when you use this system and pre-pay)
To make a reservation and pre-pay using Ploonge: 1) Send us an email (feast@fortunastable.de) TO MAKE SURE WE HAVE THE AVAILABILITY FOR YOUR PARTY. Include the number guests in your party and one main name for the reservation. WE WILL RESPOND WITH A YES OR NO. If yes, you can go on to step 2. (Also,we will need the names of the individual guests so we can manage between the online payment service.)
2) Register with Ploonge here - very quick and easy (http://www.ploonge.com/beta/). Find our event "Thanksgiving at Feast" on the main Berlin page.
3) Choose between the first seating at 6:30pm or the second seating at 8:30pm.
4) Decided between the Turkey & Fixin's OR the Menu option.
5) Proceed with payment prompts.

That's it! You'll get a return email with a confirmation from us and then get ready to eat some TURKEY!
--------
Two seatings 6:30pm & 8:30pm

Menu
Butternut Squash Soup with sage croutons or Baby Spinach Salad with fresh pomegranate dressing and toasted hazelnuts
Main:
Turkey and the Fixin's Classic Style!
Roasted turkey (both light and dark meat), ginger-bourbon spiced cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, apple-walnut stuffing, buttered corn and caramelized spiced carrots.
Dessert:
Pumpkin Pie with whipped cream or Apple Crumble with vanilla ice cream
*there will be a veggie option to substitute for the turkey… veggie gravy too!

Facebook Event - Fortuna's Table - Feast Facebook Group

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Reminder to Remember





Back in March I went on a Yoga/Pilates/Meditation holiday on Fuerteventura . It was my reminder holiday, a reminder that in January I told myself that 2011 was going to be about balance and inner peace.

Well, off I went and since I've only sporadically done yoga and pilates, I was a bit nervous. I was about to do them everyday, at least two times a day, for a week... I wasn't sure how I felt about that. When friends would say, "That will be great!", I would answer, weakly, "Yeh-hes". (What I would insert now, if I could, would be that worried looking emoticon)

Needless to say, it was an amazing experience. Yes, at least twice a day I did bend my body into shapes it wasn't always willing to go into but the experience was much, much more than that. It was about the people I met and shared time with. In Berlin, my life is somehow split into two: the public hostess and the private (self professed) cat lady who has a hard time leaving her cozy apartment on days off. The funny thing was, I wasn't expecting to connect to "others"on this trip at all, rather, I thought it was going to be a solitary experience- just me and my out of shape body. How wrong I was.

As always, food was a focal point. I love wandering around super markets in other countries, checking out all the stuff- from weird things in jars to locally grown produce. We also were fortunate enough to have one of the best restaurants on the island nearby, offering tapas like I have never known before- delicious. One night, I even had the pleasure of raiding (permission granted) the villa's fridge to make an emergency dinner for our group when we found out last minute that the whole island shut down to celebrate carnival.

But, the real highlight was Jo, the nutritional advisor for Azul Fit. She offered me a special consultation/cooking course where we made olive tapanade, roasted eggplant, homemade whole grain breads, cocoa-dried fruit truffles and quinoa cake. It has sparked a true interest in such healthy and tasty food. I wish Jo would cook for me everyday... then I'd surely have balance and inner peace.

(I highly recommend Azul Fit Villa for a one of a kind, healthy, relaxing, centering experience. They have two locations and I was in the Villa, up on a hill in the small town Villaverde, completely disconnected from any hustle and bustle. Jamie, Karissa and the entire team go out of their way to make your stay an experience to cherish. I definitely cherish mine. Thanks to the entire Azul Fit family!)

Not Jo's recipe but tasty all the same:

Quinoa Muffins

Makes 12

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/4 cup vegetable oil, such as safflower, plus more for pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
3/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, bring quinoa and 1 cup water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; cover, and cook until water has been absorbed and quinoa is tender, 11 to 13 minutes.
Meanwhile, brush a standard 12-cup muffin pan with oil; dust with flour, tapping out excess. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, raisins, and 2 cups cooked quinoa; reserve any leftover quinoa for another use.
In a small bowl, whisk together oil, milk, egg, and vanilla. Add milk mixture to flour mixture, and stir just until combined; divide batter among prepared muffin cups.
Bake until toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool muffins in pan, 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.














Man cannot live on Quinoa alone...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Everybody's Mama Got a Recipe"



Every Christmas when I'm in Detroit, one of my very best friends in the whole world, insists on buying me the heaviest cookbook she can find. This normally wouldn't be a problem but since the days of "extra heavy" luggage are long gone, it has become one. She (let's call her A.B.) has great taste and style in the food/cooking dept so I'm not really complaining... but, damn!

This year A.B. gifted me with One Big Table, A Portrait of American Cooking by Molly O'Neill. It's one hefty mama consisting of stories and recipes from real people who love their food. Gourmet, it is not and this is what makes it all the more appealing in a world of Top Chef, Iron Chef, Whatever-else Chef. I really love the sense of migration you get from reading the book... how different ethnic groups spread far and wide after entering the U.S. and how they shaped the food culture in the little (and not so little) towns they landed in.

I will be using One Big Table as inspiration for my tasting evening this Friday night. I pulled out a few of my favorites (not an easy task) and will be doing some cooking a la Americana. Here's the menu. North African Lamb from Oxford, Ohio? Yeah, what about it?

SOUP: Garlic Soup for Gringos
(A Basque inspired soup from Dan Ansotegui, Boise, Idaho)

SALAD: Green on Green tossed with my secret dressing

Little Dish #1 Crostini: Molly's Be-Still-My-Heart Chopped Chicken Liver (Sally Hechinger's Grandmother, Molly's Recipe, Montclair, New Jersey)

Little Dish #2 Bernadette's Cheesy Endive Gratin with mashed potatoes (Los Angeles, California)

Little Dish #3 Chicken Fried Steak and Cream Gravy
(Hoover Night Hawk, Austin, Texas)

Little Dish #4 North African Slow Roasted Lamb from Oxford, Ohio

SWEET: Four-Berry Cobbler with homemade biscuit topping
(Dean McCord, Raleigh, North Carolina)

The Chicken Fried Steak recipe from a Mr. Hoover Alexander himself, looks real good too. If you click on the photo, it should get big enough to read. In there you'll find that the southern favorite may just have been influenced by the Wiener Schnitzel. Duh!? Hopefully the print is clear enough for you to read the entire recipe and try yourself. Now if the Germans would only start smothering their schnitzel with gravy, we'd be getting somewhere.






Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Long time, no blog.

Playing catch up is rarely much fun but this time it's proving to be. Since writing last, we cooked lots of Thanksgiving turkey, threw many a private Christmas party and catered a good handful of offsite celebrations. Basically, we've been busy having a good time.

When so much piles up, it's a lot easier to use photos to tell the story than try and recall through words. We won't cover everything but here are a few highlights of what's been happening at Feast. The point is: we need to get you up to date so we can fill you in on the stuff going on NOW!




Dare I say that we did a catering for Mr. Armani? We did. Actually, what I thought was going to be a high end affair, turned out to be a promotional event out of an eyeglass store off of Friedrichstrasse. Oh well, but it was still a lot of fun and quite special- it certainly challenged our ability to make big things happen out of little spaces! One of the most exciting parts of the event was making these delicious and oh so sweet looking Guyere-Thyme Icebox Crackers. We topped them with a dollop of Delice
d’
Argental (a luxurious, double cream cow's milk cheese from France) and our own 
Bitter 
Orange–Rosewater 
Marmelade.


(makes 20 crackers)

1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
3 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup finely grated Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup milk
1 large egg white, lightly beaten

1) Combine the flour, salt, pepper, and chopped thyme in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a course meal. Add the cheese and pulse until combined. With the machine running, add the milk. Process until the dough comes together and is well combined.
2) Transfer the dough onto a clean work surface. Shape the dough into a 2-inch wide log. Wrap the log with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
3) Heat the oven to 163°C/325°F. Slice the well chilled log into 1/4-inch think slices. Place on baking sheet and bake immediately, rotating the baking sheet half way through cooking until crackers are golden brown and firm in the center. Cooking time is approximately 25-35 minutes. Don't let them get too dark! Transfer them to a cooling rack until completely cool and store in air tight container.



We took these caramelized figs and put them on top of goat cheese smeared crostini. Then we drizzled them with our homemade balsamic-rosemary syrup. A fast, tasty and elegant hors d'œuvre.



I've got my sights on starting my own product line in 2011- a little Feast to take home. I offered a small selection of things during December to get an idea of how it would look and of course, how it would taste. People really took to it.. buying 'em up for Christmas gifts and everything! The salted caramel coulis was a big hit, especially after I went around dipping my cut-out Christmas cookies in it and offering samples. Expect more of this soon...



We made time to throw a little Christmas Party/Open House of our own. People came around for some cheer, the buffet and our "honey-pomegranate" prosecco libation. I found a gorgeous honeycomb in a jar of honey at the corner Turkish market and next to it some beautifully plump pomegranates. It was only logical to mix them with alcohol. Quite delicious and don't forget to throw in a few ruby-esque seeds for garnish!




This is my Blue Ribbon Photo of the entire day: Ella. She's the daughter of friends of mine and though she started out quite demure, she was break dancing to Frosty the Snowman before long. A few candy canes and some sugar cookies- would make anybody wanna bust a move.



Moving into the new year, we teamed up with Network Awesome for some viewing fun. Here, the guests anxiously await the showing of Winter of the Witch, an old favorite of mine from elementary school. I had been looking for it for years but our friends at the Network of Awesomeness worked their own magic and made it appear- live streamed- in our Cellar Cinema. Network Awesome is a free online TV network that digs up good old stuff. Watching TV is fun again!