Spinach Salad. Like breakfast in the evening.

This is not even a recipe – just a combination of ingredients. Basically, it’s almost everything you would eat for an English Breakfast: bacon and eggs, fried tomatoes and some spinach. OK, the mushrooms and the breakfast sausage are missing, but mushrooms are out for me because of their sorbitol content – and there is no way I will ever eat a breakfast sausage again.

Just arrange everything a bit differently and you’ll have an excellent lunch or dinner salad.


per person:
2 bacon strips
1-2 eggs, hard boiled or poached
2-3 handfuls baby spinach
1-2 tomatoes
1 tablespoon cider or red wine vinegar
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
salt and pepper
a handful of grated Parmesan

First, cook your eggs. This is always said so easily, but I find it kinda difficult to get them just how I like them – with an itty bitty bit of the yolk still runny. Anyway, always punch a little hole on the round end and cook them for 7-10 minutes, depending how “done” you like your eggs. 8 minutes seem to do the trick for me.

Cut the bacon into inch-wide strips and fry it slowly until it is as crispy as you like it. I like it very crunchy. Then get them out and place them on a paper towel so that they get even crispier.

Meanwhile, wash the greens. I always give the salad a quick rinse – no matter if the package says you should or not.

Cut the tomatoes lengthwise in half and blot the cut side dry (with a paper towel or something like that). Fry them just like you would for breakfast – on high and just for a minute or two. You want the cut side to get brown and caramelized, but not a soggy tomato.

Get the tomatoes out of the pan, remove from the heat and deglaze the pan with vinegar, salt, pepper and vegetable oil. No need to cook the dressing, you just want the bacon flavor on your plate, not in the dishwasher.

Arrange spinach leaves, tomatoes, eggs and bacon on a plate, drizzle with the dressing and sprinkle on a generous handful of freshly grated Parmesan (or your favorite cheese). And serve with toast or a nice and fresh bread.

Fruit smoothie. Throw in whatever you like.

When I was a child, my mom often made fruit smoothies for me and my brother. At that time, that kind of drink was completely unknown in Germany and my mom called it “liquado” because of her past in Argentina. She bought a US-made blender and that’s the one I’m still using today!

I’m not on a diet – heavens no! – but on the Good Eats episode “Live and let diet“, Alton Brown has some very interesting points on making smoothies:

  • Buy overripe bananas in bulk, then peel and freeze them. 
  • When turning on your blender, start on the lowest setting and move your way up slowly. 
  • Make sure you always see a “vortex” – if not, start over at the lowest setting.

And if you don’t have a blender, then use a tall vessel and a stick blender. It’s a bit messier, but the taste is the same…

I always liked bananas in my smoothie – it’s what I use as a base – and then I add everything fruity I have at home. If you’re lactose intolerant, leave out the milk and use water or soy milk instead. If you’re vegan, leave out the honey, too. If you think you need some extra protein, add a raw egg or just the egg yolk.
And if you have fructose malabsorption, use the fruits your stomach is comfortable with. In my case, bananas and oranges are fine. And I’m still testing the red fruits.

for 2

1 banana (frozen or not)
1 orange, cut into segments
1 cup frozen red berries
1 tablespoon honey or sugar
1 cup of milk or water

Peel the banana and put it in the blender. Peel the orange and cut it into segments. That’s just me, I don’t like the white stuff. If you don’t mind it, just make sure you don’t have any pits left, they’re bitter.

Grab a cup of frozen berries, in this case, red and black currants and blackberries.

Put the berries into the blender, top off with milk, soy milk or water and start your engine. Begin on the lowest setting and work your way up to high speed – and mix it for a couple of minutes. Divide onto 2 glasses and serve with a straw. Drink slowly, unless you like ice cream headaches.

Pork tenderloin with onions and red wine. Heaven.

A couple of years ago, there was a cooking show on TV, called “Schmeckt nicht, gibt’s nicht” – which translates to something like “no yummy, no way”. Host was a guy named Tim Mälzer and I liked the 20-minute show because he actually managed to have his meals ready in 20 minutes, mostly without saying the dreaded sentence “and here we have it prepared in advance”… It gave you a kind of down-to-earth feel when a TV cook actually starts to peel an onion in front of the camera, instead of being surrounded by an endless number of thick-rimmed glass bowls, one for each cut and measured ingredient. What a waste!

Sadly, because the show was canceled some time ago, all the recipes were taken off the TV channel’s website – not even the wayback-machine could bring them back. I was really happy when I found a printout of this recipe when I browsed through my binder! I hope I remember to print out more recipes from the Internet, they vanish so quietly…

Adapted from Tim Mälzer

300 g / 10 oz / 1/2 pound red or white onions
3 garlic gloves
4 tablespoons olive oil
500 g / 1 pound pork tenderloin
salt and pepper
125 ml / 1/2 cup red wine
80 ml / 1/3 cup port
1 tablespoon honey
2 bay leaves
fresh rosemary

Peel the onions and cut them into 1,5 cm / 1/2 inch thick slices. It seems a bit crazy, but no this is not too thick! Be careful with them so that they stay intact.

Peel and mince the garlic and measure the wines. Oh, and preheat your oven to 200°C / 400°F.

Cut the pork tenderloin into 5 cm / 2 inch thick slices and flatten them a bit. Gently.

Heat up your largest and ovenproof skillet – or even a roasting pan if you’re doubling the recipe – on high, then add the oil and then quickly sear the meat on both sides. And don’t worry if the meat is not done, we’ll get to that later…

Get the meat out of the pan and let the onion slices get some color on both sides. Let the garlic get the tiniest bit of color.

Then add the honey and let it bubble up and caramelize for half a minute or so. Sounds strange, but honey and garlic together smell divine!

Now deglaze with port and red wine, put the tenderloin slices back into the pan (wiggle them in so that they touch the bottom of the pan) and add the spices – salt, pepper, bay leaves and rosemary. Cover with some foil or parchment paper and put it in the oven for 15 minutes.

Serve with your favorite kind of carbs, mine favorite being oven-roasted potatoes.

Roast Chicken. Leaping frogs and butterflies.

(adapted from Alton Brown, on youtube: part 1 and part 2)

1 chicken (mine was around 2 kg)
1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 lemon, just the zest
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
fresh parsley, chopped
6 carrots
1 leek
1/2 celeriac
2 cups red wine (white wine also works!)
lemon juice

This is a chicken I bought at my supermarket. And I realized that the whole chicken is much cheaper than buying just parts of it. Another big advantage: my husband and I never argue, because he prefers the breast meat and I the legs.

You can roast the chicken whole, but I for my part can never remember if you should put up first the breast or the back side. And on the bottom side, the skin will always be soggy instead of crunchy. Apart from the trouble cutting up a whole, piping hot chicken. In my case, that ends often in disaster – much to the joy of Henry and Nala

Before you start anything at all, preheat your oven/broiler to the highest setting.

When I saw Alton Brown’s Good Eats episode on spatchcocking/butterflying a chicken, I thought “genius”: all the skin is facing up and I don’t have to go through all my chicken recipes to find out if the breast or back side should go up first. And a bit later, I discovered the “leaping frog” method of cutting up a chicken on the internet.. I find it even better: you just cut it up, not cutting things away (like the backbone). Head over to Gourmet for detailed pictures, but no worries, this is really easy.

  • Place the chicken on the cutting board with the legs facing you and upwards. 
  • Cut the skin in the crease between the drumsticks and the body. Try not to cut the meat, just the skin and connective tissue – let gravity help you! 
  • Flatten the drumsticks, so that they lie flat on your cutting board. OK if you hear the joint pop, but don’t worry if you don’t.
  • Take your sharpest knife or kitchen shears and cut the ribcage in half, parallel to the backbone. No need to be too exact.
  • Flip the bird open like a book, lay it on the board with the skin side up and press down on the breast and backbone with the heel of your hand. Done!

My cutting boards are all way too small, I know.

Next stop: the spice mix. Put whole pepper corns in your mortar and crunch them up a bit. Add the peeled and chopped garlic and coarse salt and make a paste.

If you don’t happen to have pestle and mortar at home, crush the pepper corns on a cutting board with a meat hammer or something else that’s heavy and has a flat bottom. Search your house and be creative: marble slabs, corn cans, mason jars work just fine. Or just fill your pepper mill with 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper and grind it all on the coarsest setting. Puree or press the garlic and mix with the pepper in a bowl.

Grab a lemon (and read the label before buying it – be sure that it’s not been chemically treated so that you can eat the peel). Run it over the zester to get just the yellow part of the peel, not the white stuff – it’s bitter.

No zester at home? Any other fine grater will do. Or a vegetable peeler and then chopping the strips up very finely. But let me tell you – buy a microplane zester. It works wonderfully on citrus peel and parmesan and it is incredibly sharp. Don’t ask how many fingernails I ruined.

Mix the lemon peel with the garlic/pepper paste and thin it with olive oil. Chop a small handful of parsley and mix it with the rest.

Mr. Brown says to use a teaspoon, but I made a little piping bag. Just fill the paste into the corner of a regular freezer bag, twist it closed and – in the last moment – cut away the tip of the corner.

Wiggle your index finger between the meat and the chicken skin to loosen it. Be gentle and try not to tear the skin. You don’t need to get it all loose, just the breasts and the drumsticks are fine. Pipe in around 1 teaspoon of the spice mix and massage the skin so that you spread the spices under the skin. Don’t worry if you have some of the paste left.

Why under the skin? Basically, skin is there to keep the good things in and the bad things out. But I guess you want the meat to get a taste of the spices and that would not happen if you put the spices on the outside of the skin. And of course in the hot oven, all those delicate spices would burn and leave you with a taste of charcoal.

Cut the vegetables into finger-long pieces and cover the bottom of an ovenproof pan or roasting pan. I used my favorite, a cast iron Le Creuset pan. But work with anything you have – even a disposable aluminum pan works fine.

Use whatever vegetables you happen to have, even if they’re not at their best anymore and as long as they don’t tend to get mushy when cooked. Potatoes and whole onions would also work fine. In Germany, you often find “soup vegetables”, that is celeriac, carrots, leeks and parsley bound together. The perfect combination for this.

Lay the chicken on top of the vegetables and massage some olive oil onto the skin. You want a crispy skin, right? Put it into the oven for 20-30 minutes – you want a crispy brown skin and an internal temperature of both breast and drumstick of 165°F / 74°C.

While you’re at it, wash some small potatoes, brush them with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt. Pop them into the oven on a roast underneath the chicken. They should be ready just the same time as the chicken.

The meat was done, but for my taste, the skin could have been darker. Seems my oven does not get really hot anymore. Anyway, when the chicken is done, get it out of the oven and let it rest on a plate, cover with foil or another plate.

Crank up the heat of your largest stovetop and pour in the wine, let it cook and reduce a bit. While it cooks, scrape the bottom and sides of the pan to dissolve all that brown, crunchy stuff. This is what makes the difference between a good sauce and a really, really good sauce. Stir the vegetables so that the brown parts are submerged in the sauce. After 10 minutes, you can fish out all the vegetables if you don’t like them – in fact, I liked the wine-soaked carrots very much.

Give it a taste and season with lemon juice, salt and the leftover pepper-lemon-paste. Tastes good? OK, you’re done!

Now all you need to do is carve the chicken breasts, cut away the drumsticks and serve with potatoes and the sauce. Steal the skin from your husband’s plate and enjoy with a glass of wine.

Dates and bacon. Only better with parmesan.

In foodie questionnaires, one question that almost always pops up is: “sweet or savory?” Seems that I belong to the rather small group that answers: “both! at the same time!” I have always been a fan of sweet/salty combinations, like cheese and membrillo, toast Hawaii or arroz a la cubana (fried rice, eggs and bananas). As Flo finds those combinations ranging between barley edible to downright revolting, I sometimes make myself something he really doesn’t like – when he’s not there. For example, dates rolled in bacon, then fried until crispy. This is a classic combination, just like prunes rolled in bacon. Then I read somewhere about filling them with Parmesan. And let me tell you, this takes this party classic to a whole new level.

Side note for you fructose malabsorption guys: dates contain sorbitol, which deactivates the very few fructose transporters you have. For me, 4 dates are just the limit.

for 1 (multiply as needed)

4 large dates
2 thick slices of bacon, halved
2 thick slices of Parmesan cheese
4 toothpicks

Slice the dates open on lengthwise with a knife and get out the pit.

Cut the Parmesan into sticks and replace the pit with cheese. Squeeze the date shut.

Wrap the bacon around the filled date and secure it with a toothpick.

Heat up a little pan and gently fry the dates until the bacon is brown and crispy.
Get back to the couch and watch your favorite TV show while nibbling away…

Sauerbraten. With the brine, you’re halfway there.

Sauerbraten is a very traditional German roast, the sweet and sour brother of the pot roast. And to make it, just put the meat into the brine for a couple of days (check and turn over every day) and then follow the directions for pot roast, but instead of the wine and onions, use the brine. And when making the sauce, add a handful of raisins and almond slivers. And then you’ll have a very nice dish that goes very nicely with potato dumplings or spaetzle.

Of course you can also use this brine for any other kind of meat, especially venison and other game would work pretty fine.


375 ml / 1,5 cups red wine
375 ml / 1,5 cups red wine vinegar
375 ml / 1,5 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
8 peppercorns
3 bay leaves
4 cloves
8 juniper berries
2 onions, cut into rings
2 carrots, cut into thin slices
1/4 celery root, cut into matchsticks

Put all together into a large pot and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Let the brine cool off and pour over your meat, which can stay in there covered for 2-5 days in your fridge.

Chorizo and Potatoes. Minimalistic in every way.

When I visited Spain some time ago, we went into a tapas bar. At first, I thought: “Do I really want to eat here?” It was really dark, from the ceiling were hanging dozens of whole hams, the interior was shabby and the floor was covered with used toothpicks. But at a closer look, all the people inside were having a good time, the whole 10 meters of the bar top were laden with snacks of all kinds and it all smelled incredibly good. So we ordered some sherry and took from the bar what we liked. We had planned to eat dinner afterward, but we came out of the bar feeling slightly tipsy and incredibly full.

One of the classic tapas is chorizo and potatoes cooked together and you won’t believe how easy this is. It tastes complex, the sauce looks like it has been cooked for hours and it warms your soul. But all you need is found in all kitchens, even that of a student that has just moved in. As for cooking skills: if you can hold a knife and know how to turn up the heat on your stovetop, you’re good to go.


1/2 – 1 chorizo or salsiccia sausage, hot if possible
450 g / 1 pound potatoes
1 large onion
garlic (optional)
olive oil
salt and pepper

This is basically all you need: chorizo, potatoes and an onion. Garlic is optional and you should be able to find some kind of oil or fat in your kitchen. And I really do hope there’s salt and pepper around. Oh, and you’ll also need water. I don’t know why, but nobody mentions water in the ingredient list in cooking but always in baking.

As for the hardware, you’ll only need a knife, a spoon to stir and a pot or pan. OK, maybe a cutting board, but that’s it. Even the most rudimentary equipped kitchen will have all this.

Cut everything into nice, big chunks. No need to be exact here, just cut it the way you like.

I like my potatoes in 1 cm cubes, no matter if I fry or cook them. Again, cut them any way you like, but they should be somehow bite-sized.

If you peel them is up to your tools and skills, your taste – and your laziness…

Heat up your pan or pot on medium, then add the oil and the chorizo. Let the sausage fry until you see a dark crust forming on them.

Add the onions and the garlic and also cook them in the oil until they are soft and the edges start to get brown.

Add the potatoes and let it cook on medium-low for about 25 minutes, until the potatoes are done and most of the water has evaporated.

Fill into your favorite bowl or plate, or eat it just right out of the pot. No garnishing.

Tastes best with a glass of red wine and some green olives. Think of your visit to Spain ages ago.

Pot roast. With carrots and red wine.

Last weekend I wrote about spaetzle, and how well they go with Sunday roasts. Well, this is a very classic pot roast, though I like to give it my twist and added some mushrooms. And of course, I like to be generous with the red wine, something my frugal grandma would never have done.

And if you’re not a fan of spaetzle (or just have eaten enough), then serve the roast with baked potatoes, pasta or – just as in this case – potato dumplings.


2 kg / 4 pounds beef for braising
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion
3 garlic gloves
1 Anaheim chili
4 large carrots
250 g / 8.8 oz mushrooms
1/2 bottle red wine
3 bay leaves
salt and pepper
8 thin bacon slices

First of all, the meat. Find a heavy pot like a dutch oven that is large enough for your piece of meat and where the knobs will survive several hours in the oven. My knob on the lid did not the last time and I had to invent some Rube Goldberg contraption with a potato ricer disk, some string, a cork and a bamboo skewer. Call me MacGyver.

OK, back to the roast. Heat up your pot on medium high, then pour in the oil and finally put in the chunk of meat. Let it brown on all sides. If it has a nice color all around, get it out on a plate and set it aside. Yeah, it will get cold, but who cares. It’s not cooked through anyway. 

Next stop, vegetables. Half the chili lengthwise and get out all the seeds.
Coarsly dice the onions and the garlic.
Peel the carrots and cut them into 2 cm / 1 inch chunks.
Peel the mushrooms.

I know, there’s much discussion about peeling vegetables such as carrots and mushrooms, but I don’t like to eat the skins. I know, I’m picky. Instead, I freeze the skins and when I have enough, I cook a vegetable broth.

Heat up the pot again, then throw in the carrots and mushrooms. When they have a nice color, add the onions and the garlic and cook it until the edges of the onion start to get brown.

Now comes in the red wine! And the spices! If you like, you can also add 3 cloves and 3 juniper berries for a more “winterly” or “chistmasy” taste.

Place the meat on top of the sauce and kind of wiggle it right in. Then lay the bacon slices on top of the meat, it doesn’t matter if the ends hang into the sauce. Put on the lid with your cork and string handle, then put it all into the oven for 2-3 hours at 150°C / 300°F.

When the time in the oven is over, get out the meat, the carrots and the mushrooms and put them on a heated plate. Also get out the bay leaves, cloves and juniper berries if you have put some in and throw them away.
Grab your immersion blender and mix the onions into the sauce, binding it that way. Give the sauce a taste and add some more salt, red wine and perhaps a little bit of cream.

When you’re done with finishing the sauce, cut the meat into finger-thick slices. And when you read somewhere “against the grain”: this means looking where the fibers in your meat go and cutting it in a 90° angle to the fiber. Because short fiber means tender meat.

Serve it all on a plate and with the rest of the bottle of red.
After eating, fall asleep on the couch.

Ganache. When chocolate simply isn’t enough.

My husband is a chocoholic. Dessert is not dessert if it’s without chocolate. His chocolate consumption is only topped by his Nutella consumption: a small (400 g) jar lasts a week. But mostly it’s more like 4 days. So one evening, I saw him rumbling and rustling through the kitchen and the pantry. Like a tiger in a cage – going back and forth and looking again at the same places for chocolate or something similar. Luckily, he doesn’t touch my chocolate stack – I only like the darker varieties, which he despises. Though he seemed desperate, he refused to eat the 60% chocolate (quite a low percentage for my taste).

Finally, I had mercy with him and made a ganache. With the 60% chocolate. And he ate the entire bowl. Just like that. Gone in a couple of minutes. This stuff is magic.

In the case you don’t have chocolate-hungry monster in your house, you can do all sort of wonderful things with ganache: truffles (just roll the hardened ganache into balls and dip in melted chocolate), fillings and toppings for all kinds of cakes and muffins. And of course use it as filling for macarons.

And you can even use white chocolate instead of dark and add all kinds of fruit purees or spices. For example instant coffee, rum, lime/lemon juice, your favorite jam or just cinnamon. I know it sounds a bit lame, but the possibilities are endless!


100 g / 3.5 oz chocolate (I used a regular 60% chocolate – no special baking stuff)
100 g / 3.5 oz heavy cream (minimum 30% fat)
1 tablespoon cognac (optional)

Chop the chocolate and put it into a bowl. No need to go super-fine, but the chunks should all be roughly the same size. No big chunks, please!

Bring the cream to a boil. Simple as that.

Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate.Then let it sit of exactly one whole minute. Using a timer.

And now start to stir. If it looks like this, you’re not ready with stirring.

If it looks like this, THEN you’re ready stirring. Look at that silky texture! Now add the cognac and stir a little more until you see no more streaks of alcohol.

Then chill it and hope nobody touches it until you are ready to use it… It will get the texture peanut butter (imagine adding that to your ganache!) if you use the 1:1 approach of cream:chocolate. Of course the ganache will be softer if you add more cream and other liquid ingredients and harder/denser if you take more chocolate.

Gulasch. Because autumn is arriving fast.

Do you also have an obsession of going to supermarkets in foreign countries? Personally, I think it’s exiting to see what’s similar, what’s different and to find things I’ve never seen before.
When I was on vacation in France in September, I found fresh “Piments d’Espelette”, or Espelette pepper. Espelette is a small town in Basque Country, near the Spanish border and famous for the houses covered with festoons of drying peppers. When the peppers are fresh, they are bright red and look like regular Hungarian peppers, but are definitively hotter. When they dry, they get darker until they look almost black. They are not extremely hot, but definitely too hot to be eaten as such.

Somehow in my mind, the visual similarity to the Hungarian bell peppers made me think of Gulasch, the perfect dish for cold autumn evenings. And it’s true what they say, Gulasch tastes much better on the next day!


750 g / 1,5 pounds beef
500 g / 1 pound onions
1 small garlic bulb, peeled
4 piments d’Espelette or bell peppers
3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 tablespoons paprika powder
6-8 tablespoons tomato paste
750 ml / 3 cups / 1 bottle red wine
250 ml / 1 cup water
1-2 teaspoons salt

You won’t need much knife skills here, everything is cut into chunks. Cut the meat into dice – I like them in the 2.5 cm / 1 in range.
Peel the garlic and leave the cloves as they are. Maybe you could half one or two if you have very big ones.
Also, peel the onions, then dice them very coarsely. I only had rather small onions, so I halved them and cut the halves into quarters.

Now it’s the time to get out your latex gloves – especially if you are wearing contact lenses. Imagine rubbing all the capsaicin into your eyes while trying to get out the lens. No fun! By the way, capsaicin in hydrophobic, so use something fatty to make the burn less painful – like heavy or sour cream, cheese or olive oil.

Depending how hot the peppers are, remove the seeds completely or just some of them, then cut the flesh into nice little strips.

Get out your favorite large and heavy pot – mine is a blue Dutch oven I bought in France. They are called “cocotte” around there and “mini-cocottes” absolutely in this year. You see them anywhere, even at gas stations.

Heat the put up while it’s empty on medium-high heat, test if a drop of water “dances” around, then put in the oil. Let the oil get hot too, you’ll see ripples and just a tiny wisp of smoke, then put in a third of the beef cubes at max. Leave them alone and don’t try to turn them until you find that the sizzling noises sound a bit differently. Then try to turn the meat gently, if it still sticks, leave it alone for another minute or so. Maybe it just needs to get a little bit browner, then it won’t stick to the bottom any more.
When the meat has a nice brown color, put in the next few meat chunks and go on as above. Then repeat with the rest of the meat.

I like to brown the meat in 3 to 4 installments, because putting all the meat in the pot at once makes the temperature of pot and oil drop very quickly – and that results in the meat cooking and losing too much juice, and not frying.

If you have a pot that is big enough, you can simply add the onions and the garlic and let them brown with the meat. But in this case, my meat bits were getting in the way, so I put them out and then the onions in. Let it all get a nice touch of color.

See how the onions release a little bit of water and dissolve the brown bits from the bottom of the pan? This is why I always fry the meat first, and then the onions. I’ve tried it the other way round and ended up with onion coals and the meat not browned at all.

OK, get the meat back into the pot and and add the peppers, too. Then the paprika powder and the tomato paste and let it all get a tiny little bit of color.

Open the bottle of red and put it all in. No, this is no waste. You don’t have to by a Grand Cru for that, just something dry and red and heavy, like a Chianti, Shiraz or Rioja.
And don’t forget the salt…

Now, all you need is time. Cover and let it simmer (on low) for several hours, until the meat is soft. In fact, it should be so soft that you can separate the meat with a fork. Add a little bit of water if the meat is not covered any more.

See, no knife needed! And the onions and garlic are all cooked down to a thick and aromatic sauce.
Serve the Gulasch with potatoes, pasta or whatever else you like. And of course you remembered to buy a second bottle of that red? Then pour yourself a nice glass to go with it.