Jalapeño poppers. Some like it hot.

Funny how people react to different kinds of hot. Some people don’t mind hotness at all, even search the kick of new levels of hotness. Others flinch at even the slightest amount – I once knew someone who broke into tears and sweat because of a couple of drops of Tabasco someone sneaked into his burger. I guess I’m in the middle: liking the hotness of chilies, unless it totally overwhelms the taste of your food.

This recipe is a work of genius. So incredibly simple, you don’t even think about measuring the ingredients. Delicious beyond description. The chilies are reasonably hot, the cream cheese will even that out a bit. And bacon can never be a bad thing, can it?

(adapted from Pioneer Woman)

fresh jalapeños
cream cheese
salt and pepper
latex gloves, optional

Before you start anything, put on the latex gloves. Trying to get our your contact lenses with capsaicin-stained fingers is no fun. Let alone touching other – ahem – sensitive areas. So do yourself a favor and wear protection.

Cut the chilies in half lengthwise, then use a spoon, a melon baller or a measuring teaspoon to scoop out the the white stuff and the seeds. The white stuff is where the most of the capsaicin lies.

Then simply take the cream cheese and smear it into the jalapeños, filling them to the brim. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper, if you like.

Cut the bacon slices in half and wrap them around the filled chilies. Either put them on the BBQ or – if you happen to live somewhere downtown like I do – bake them in the oven at 180°C / 350°F for 20-25 minutes.

Sorry I don’t have a picture of the finished jalapeños, they were so good the were simply gone too fast!

Steak au poivre. Even purists will love it.

When it comes to steak, I’m a purist. Salt, pepper, maybe a tad of herb butter and I’m happy. No crazy marinades, no BBQ sauce, no oysters, thank you. Oh, and medium rare, please.

But sometimes you may need a tiny bit more, maybe a little sauce to make the fries go down easier. And this is where Alton Brown comes in. In his show “Good Eats” he did not only present how to manage to get steaks out of a whole fillet, he also made a very minimalistic sauce. Just cream, cognac and pepper. It’s a dream, it goes perfectly well with a steak without totally smothering its taste. Just what I like.

adapted from Alton Brown

2 tenderloin steaks, 4 cm / 1.5 inches thick
coarse salt
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
80 ml / 1/3 cup Armagnac or Cognac, plus 1 teaspoon
250 ml / 1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon veal fond, powdered
1 teaspoon maple syrup
a dash of lemon juice
small packet of (frozen) fries

First, the steaks. Marvelously marbled, aren’t they? Make sure you have steaks at least 1 inch / 2.5 cm thick, but if you like them medium rare (the only way to go, really) have them cut 1.5 inch / 4 cm thick.

Get them out 30 to 60 minutes before you start cooking as you want to get them to room temperature. I think it’s horrible if a steak is nearly burned on the outside and almost frozen in the middle…

Crush the pepper quite coarsely, either with pestle and mortar or the biggest setting on your pepper mill.

Sprinkle the steaks with salt and cover them with the coarse pepper. Press it on lightly with your fingers, but no need to worry if some pepper corns fall off.

Meanwhile, start making the fries with your preferred method.

Heat up your pan (I prefer cast iron) on medium-high, melt the butter and add the olive oil. Nobody knows why, but a bit of oil prevents butter from going brown so quickly.

Put in the steaks and set the timer for 4 minutes. 4 cm and 4 minutes results in medium rare. Genius! Turn them over and give them another 4 minutes.

Then get them out on a warmed plate and cover them lightly with aluminum foil. Takes quite a bit of patience, but if you were to cut into the steaks right away, all the good juices would run out and leave you with a dry bit of meat. Not good.

Pour in the Cognac or Armagnac, then start scraping on the bottom of the pan to remove all the pepper corns and delicious crusts.
DO NOT SET TO FIRE! 80 ml is quite an amount of alcohol and I would nearly have set my kitchen to fire. Instead, let it cook down slowly until it’s nearly gone.

Pour in the cream, dissolve the fond powder and let it cook for 5 minutes until the consistency is slightly thicker than regular cream.

Give it a taste and add salt, maple syrup and lemon juice if you like, then serve.

Serve the steak, the fries and the sauce on a nice plate and pour in a nice glass of red wine. Or beer.

Iced Tea. Thirst quencher for hot days.

There are few things more refreshing than iced tea on a hot summer day. And I don’t mean those over-sweetened soft drinks laced with artificial flavors, preservatives and other stuff you don’t really want to know about. Better make it yourself, it’s ready in 5 minutes. Go ahead and time it, I’m not exaggerating. And another thing: it helps against those mean headaches.


1 liter / 4 cups water, boiling
1/2 kg / 1 pound ice cubes
6 teabags or 6 teaspoons black tea
0-4 tablespoons sugar
juice of 1 lemon

Take 6 teabags or 6 heaping teaspoons of loose black tea. Bring the water to boil and when it’s really bubbling, pour it over the tea.

Let it steep for exactly 4 minutes. Then the tea will be strong, but not too bitter. Take out the tea bags or strain the tea if you used loose tea. Then dissolve the sugar in the hot tea – the amount depends on your taste.

Weight out the ice in a big pitcher. You need half the amount by weight as you have tea.

Slowly pour the hot, sweetened tea over the ice cubes. Then add the lemon juice – also according to your taste – and you’re done! Grab a big glass, maybe a straw and sit outside in the sun with your feet up.

Tuna salad filled tomatoes. Hello from the Fifties.

A friend gave me a cookbook from the Fifties as a birthday present a couple of years ago. It is two inches thick and full of wonderful recipes, helpful hints on using leftovers – and even more delightful tips on shaping your food aerodynamically to make it more appetizing. There, I found great classics like meat loaf (in a dozen of variations), upside down pineapple and carrot cakes as well as tomatoes filled with different mayo-based salads, eg egg, chicken or tuna.

My mom used to make the tuna version as appetizer for guests: it’s quick and easy, filling but not too much and enjoyed by everyone, whether they like fish or not. Including me and my dad, who virtually despise everything that comes out of the ocean.


1 can tuna, drained
1 small onion, chopped very finely
1/4 cup peas
1/4 cup corn kernels, optional
1/4 – 1/2 cup mayonnaise, homemade
paprika powder
some drops of hot sauce
salt and pepper
4-6 tomatoes

Drain one can of tuna – doesn’t matter if you bought the one in oil or brine.

Take a small onion and dice it very finely – onions and tuna are a match made in heaven. And add the peas, I only had frozen (and blanched) ones. But you can take fresh or canned ones if you like.

OK, let’s spice it up a bit. Add some paprika powder for taste and color and maybe some drops of chili sauce, if you happen to like it hot.

Add some tablespoons of mayonnaise and start stirring. Just add enough to make it just come together. Not too much mayo or it will become slushy.

If you like you can cut open some tomatoes, scoop out the kernels with a spoon and fill in the tuna salad. Simple, ready in minutes and impresses you guests.

Obazda. Bavarian beergarden cheese spread.

My god, there she comes again with some funky Bavarian stuff… First that strange sausage salad, and now this… And it even comes with tons of butter…

Obazda means – roughly translated – hodge podge, and basically that’s what it is. Legend has it, a Bavarian innkeeper was standing in his empty (post-war) kitchen, with VIP guests sitting in the pub and waiting for something to eat. He thought he couldn’t serve a half-eaten cheese to those people, so he decided to mix it together with butter, onions and paprika powder. And like many of those dishes born in desperation, it was an instant success.

You can find it nowadays in every beer garden in Bavaria. There are of course a million recipes, but I think this is the most basic and original one: 1 part butter, 2 parts cheese, onion and some spices. Simple and delicious.

This is perfect for that rest of Camembert that has gotten too pungent to eat. But you can use any intense and soft cheese, in some regions of Germany they use Romadour, Limburger or even Harzer. And stretch it with cream cheese if you find the taste too strong.


150 g / 5 oz overripe Camembert cheese
75 g / 2.5 oz butter, softened
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon paprika powder
1 small onion, very finely diced
2 tablespoons beer
1 teaspoon caraway seeds, optional
salt and pepper
chives, for garnishing
pretzels, either soft or hard ones

Start by weighing the cheese – as this is meant for leftover cheese, this should be your base measure. Then you measure half the amount of butter, by weight of course.

Check the cheese rind: if the edges are very hard and dry, maybe even getting some funky colors (red and yellow being the most common), you could cut some of it away. Leave most of the rind on, just remove anything that doesn’t look too good anymore.

Cut the cheese and the butter into cubes, this makes the mixing progress much easier.

Add the cream and start mixing together the Camembert and the butter into a rather sticky mass. Either take a fork or use your food processor – or even the mixer with a paddle attachment – depending on the quantities you are making.

See, some bits are still left, especially some rind bits: that is wonderful. But it still looks a bit bland, doesn’t it?

Not to worry, just add onions and lots of paprika powder. It will seem too much at the beginning, but once you mixed it in, the spread will have a wonderful color.

Still doesn’t taste right? Add a bit of salt and pepper – and the secret ingredient: beer! You have to try it to believe it, but the beer gives some taste nuances that are very hard to describe.

Cover it and leave it in your fridge for a couple of hours, so that the flavors have time to mingle (but serve on the same day, or the onions will become unbearable). Serve sprinkled with some caraway seeds and lots of chives. Depends on what you like and what is available in your region – both hard and soft pretzels are traditional around here. And of course, don’t forget to serve with an adequate amount of beer!

Note for lactose intolerance sufferers: overripe Camembert contains a very low amount of lactose, as the fungi on the cheese break it down. But test for yourself if you can handle it or not.

Cinnamon macarons with ganache. Not perfect.

About a year ago, I made macarons for the first time. Though I still can’t manage to produce those beautiful, smooth caps, I still enjoy making them. And the combination of chocolate ganache and the smooth, almond-y taste of the macarons is still unbeaten.

Don’t be afraid – the ganache is terribly easy to make, just chop up the chocolate, pour over the boiling cream and stir slowly until you have a shiny and glossy cream. Just follow these instructions in one of my older posts. Because the ganache needs quite a long time to cool, it is best to make it one day ahead.


250 g / 8.8 oz ground almonds
250 g / 8.8 oz powdered sugar
125 g / 4.4 oz / 4 egg whites
50 g / 1.8 oz sugar
vanilla extract

GANACHE (see here for instructions)
100 g / 3.5 oz semi-sweet chocolate (50%)
100 g / 3.5 oz cream
1 tablespoon rum, eg Negrita

In Germany, powdered sugar is often sold in 250 g packs. So I thought I’d base the recipe on this measurement, because weighing powdered sugar is always such a mess. And I couldn’t find ground almonds in my supermarket, so I bought slivered ones.

Mix the almonds and the powdered sugar together and pulse them in your food processor, yes, even if you bought ground almonds. Sieve it all through a fine mesh and pulverize the rests that stay behind until all is evenly and finely ground. And yeah, you really need to do this step!

Weigh the regular sugar and put the following things in reach: a rubber spatula, a piping bag with a big round nozzle, several sheets of baking paper. If you are feeling especially pedantic (or you are piping for the first time in your life), draw regular circles with a pencil and then turn the sheet over. Nobody really wants to eat pencil shavings…

And if your oven is kinda slow, preheat now to 165°C / 325°F.

Beat the egg whites until they are fairly stiff, then slowly add the regular sugar and continue beating until all the sugar crystals have dissolved. Also add the vanilla – see the little black flecks? They come from the real vanilla sugar. Or add color or other flavors you like.

Dump all the beaten egg whites in a bowl together with the ground almonds.

Forget everything you heard about handling beaten egg whites, simply stir until everything is combined and then a bit more.

You need to find the exact right consistency which everyone describes as “flowing like lava”. I don’t know about you, but I have never seen lava flow and I’m just guessing that you haven’t either. So let me put it in other words: the French call it “flowing into a ribbon” and I’m thinking this is just the way honey does. The mixture you see above could have used some more stirs, it was still too dense.

Fill everything into your piping bag. I found out that a giant freezer bag clip helps you immensely handling the bag as you don’t have to be afraid anymore that the dough will come out the wrong end.

Start piping into your pre-drawn circles, these were 5 cm / 2 inch in diameter (I used a glass for drawing them). And don’t pipe the circumference of the circles, simply place the nozzle in the middle, just a little bit above the baking paper and start squeezing gently. Stop squeezing when the dough has reached your circle outline, then lift the nozzle with a quick motion. You can press down the peaks with a slightly moistened finger afterward.

If you like, you can now sprinkle on some cinnamon or anything else you like.

Let it all sit there for half an hour – that helps that the surface will get dry and hard, so that they will rise and have those crumpled little feet.

See, the have risen quite a bit – too much, actually. That is why I should have stirred the mixture a bit more. Let them cool completely before you try to remove them. If you’re too impatient, you’ll end up with the innards sticking to the paper and a hollow shell in your hand.

Fill with the cooled ganache (or your favorite jam, butter cream or lemon curd) and then let them sit overnight. That’s right, you’ll have to wait until the next day until you can eat them. Of course, you could eat them right away, but they will be much better the next day – which makes it the perfect gift / bring-along for your colleagues.

Chickpea salad. Great for summer.

Do you know those people who can eat anything at any time? Like pork roast and sauerkraut in summer or gazpacho when it’s snowing. I can’t. I am one of those who can’t eat warm and heavy stuff when it’s hot outside. I like to have a light lunch in the summer heat. But a normal green salad is never enough for me – I always end up hungry half an hour later. So this number here is a great compromise: It tastes fresh like a salad, but the chickpeas bring along some carbs and proteins, just the right amount to make you feel satisfied but not stuffed… And it’s ready in minutes – literally – so you’ll have more time to go outside and catch some rays.


1 can chickpeas
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 small onion, finely diced
1 garlic glove, crushed
1 lemon, juice only
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

Open a can of chickpeas and drain them well. I even like to give them a quick rinse with cold water, but that’s just because the brine has a distinctive smell I don’t like.

Dice the onions and crush the garlic, then mix with the chickpeas in a bowl.

Cut the tomatoes into bite-sized pieces, then add lemon juice, salt, pepper and spices. I only had dried ones, but please use fresh if you have.

Somehow no plant survives my care more than a few weeks. Except orchids. Those are growing one flower after the other. Since December.

Give it all a stir and a taste. You should have about the same amount of tomatoes as chickpeas and some crunchy onions. When it tastes good, go out on the balcony, sit in the sun and eat straight out of the bowl.

Apricot rolls. Like cinnamon rolls, but different.

These rolls are a bit like cinnamon rolls, but filled with apricot jam and some other yummy things. My mom found this recipe in a German baking magazine ages ago and it’s a regular in our recipe repertoire since the first time we tried it out. I was still a kid and soon I started making this on my own. Mind you – yeast dough! Don’t be afraid, it’s so easy a kid can do it!

Follow me and I show you how it works.


1 packet or cube of yeast
125 ml / 1/2 cup milk, warmed (water also works)
500 g / 18 oz / 4 1/2 cups flour
50 g / 1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
150 g / 1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature, cut into cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt

200 g / 7 oz / 2/3 cup apricot jam
100 g / 3.5 oz / 1/2 cup sugar
100 g / 3.5 oz / 1 cup chopped almonds
100 g / 3.5 oz / 3/4 cup raisins
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons rum

6 tablespoons powdered sugar
some drops of lemon juice

Behold!!! The mighty yeast. Alton Brown would say something like that. I say: Don’t worry, it’s just yeast. Only costs cents in the supermarket. I also always have dried yeast packages in my pantry, but I like the original stuff better. Maybe because you can feel and smell it.

Bring half a cup of milk to body temperature. I kicked out my microwave – it took too much space – so a measuring cup on the stove works great. The milk should be just as warm as your finger.

Umm, yes. The stove is dirty and has some cracks. I do not have a perfect kitchen.

Put the flour in a mixing bowl (no need to sift) and push it to the sides. Crumble in the yeast (hmm, smells good) and sprinkle in the sugar. Pour over the warm milk and let it all sit for 15 minutes.

Oh my god! It’s alive! Well, the yeast becomes active with sugar, water and warmth.

It starts eating the sugar and digesting it into carbon dioxide, which results into those teeny tiny bubbles that make the dough fluffy. And alcohol, but here are only trace amounts. Leave the dough sit for 3 days and you will taste the alcohol. It’s the same yeast the use for beer brewing.

Crack in the eggs and add the butter cubes, then start mixing on low with a dough hook.

Keep mixing on medium-low until all the butter pieces are gone and the dough is not sticking to the bowl any more. At first, things will be very sticky, so keep the machine running until you see it coming off and basically could take out the dough and have clean bowl. Rather clean bowl, the bottom will always stick a little.

Cover with a tea towel and place the bowl in a warm space for around 30 minutes, if you’re impatient. Or just leave it where it is for an hour or two. And if you really have time on your hands, put it in the fridge overnight. The slower and colder the process, the finer the taste and texture of the dough.

Key is, the dough should double in size. Sometimes it even triples in size. See the fluffy texture? Just like a pillow.

In the meantime, mix together all the ingredients for the filling. Nothing special about that.

Get the dough out of the bowl and onto your favorite rolling surface. I like my extra big silicon mat.

Press the big air bubbles out and knead it a bit. No need to get aggressive (but do, if you feel like it!), just work it through to redistribute the butter and the yeast.

That day, I decided to bake only half of it and freeze the rest. Works wonderfully. And the flatter you press the dough the faster it will freeze. And unfreeze, which can be really important…

Now, roll out the dough patiently and gently. Try to get it as thin as possible, this was about 3 mm. Just don’t go too thin or it will tear. Then trim the edges so that you will have roughly a rectangle.

Spread on the yummy apricot mixture and start rolling it up. It’s up to you if you start from the long or the short edge, depending if you like thinner or thicker rolls.

Cut this dough roll into 1 inch / 2.5 cm slices, this works best if you froze it for half an hour or use a really sharp knife. Place them in a pie pan or directly on a baking sheet. Be patient and let them sit there for another half an hour.

Depending on the time your oven needs, preheat to 200°C / 400°F.

Bake for 12-15 min, until golden brown and delicious. They’re great just like that, but even better with a glaze.

And this is really simple – just mix the powdered sugar with some drops of lemon juice until you have the consistency of honey.

Spread it on the rolls, lick your fingers and spoon clean of the glaze and then take a blissful first bite.

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.

Cosmopolitan & White Russian. Carrie meets the Dude.

As much as I like browsing through a menu and ordering a cocktail, I often had the feeling that you get more show than taste. While I think it’s impressive when somebody can juggle full bottles of vodka, I think the taste is way more important. What’s the use of a good show if you can barely drink the result? Believe me, I had my share of undrinkable Caipirinhas and Mai Tais.

So here are two very famous cocktails you can make at home with no show and no equipment at all. One got very popular with “Sex and the City” – though I’m not a big fan of this show, I like the cocktail that’s strong, a little bitter and not too sweet. On the other side of the spectrum lies the White Russian, introduced to the masses by the Dude a.k.a. “The Big Lebowsky”. The cocktail is sweet and smooth, the film is not.

All the hardware you need are some glasses, a spoon and some kind of measuring device for the liquids. I use a jigger I bought at IKEA for around 2 bucks, sporting a 2 cl and a 4 cl side. But you don’t have to go and buy stuff, just look around in your kitchen: a shot glass, an espresso cup, hey – even those breakfast egg cups you never use will work just fine.

Now grab some ice cubes and let’s begin:


1 part vodka
1 part Kahlua
1 part milk or half and half

Grab a handful of ice cubes – or in this case, ice doughnuts – and put them into a glass. No fancy stuff here, just a regular juice glass. Fill in the vodka and the Kahlua.

Top off with milk or half and half (half milk, half cream for the non-Americans) and give it a stir if you like.
Put on a brown bathrobe and stay away from nihilists.


1 part triple sec
2 parts vodka
3-6 parts cranberry juice, according to taste

Again, a handful of ice goes into a glass, then fill in the triple sec and the vodka. No magic here.

Fill in as much cranberry juice as you like – and remember your favorite ratio for the next round.
Put on your highheels and invite your friends over.