Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Autumnal Spice Bundt Cake with Sugar Beet Syrup

"Bund“ (German for „a gathering of people“) cakes originated in Europe hundreds of years ago with the "Gugelhupf“ (German) or "Kougelhopf“ (Alsace, France) baking pan, when a baker discovered that if a metal tube was placed in the centre of the pan, the cake cooked more evenly and rose higher than usual. The technique was widely copied and probably taken to America by European immigrants. It was D. Dalquist of Nordic Ware in Minneapolis who created the first aluminium „bundt“ pan in 1950 and added the letter “t“  to the end of „bund“. "Bundt" is now a registered trademark of the company which to this day produces many different kinds of "Bundt" baking pans. But no matter whether you call this lovely cake a „Gugelhupf“,  "Kougelhopf" or „Bundt Cake“,  whether you use a more traditional baking pan or a modern fancy one, this humble Autumnal Spice Bundt Cake will undoubtedly steal your heart.

Pumpkins and squash might hog the limelight in the month October, but do not forget other seasonal fare. Celebrate the late fall season with lovely warm spices, natural ground almonds, and sugar beet syrup.

This Bundt is baked with my favorite locally produced syrup for extra flavor and moistness. The damp crumb and slightly caramelized crust of this cake will most certainly win your taste buds over. The sugar beet syrup syrup is one of those foods that never goes off – in that regard, it is beyond seasonality and can be stored for long periods without ill effect. Making it a perfect baking ingredient. Around Christmas time, I bake a lot of cookies and cakes using this syrup, it has become an essential flavoring ingredient for all my gingerbread batters, for example.

The syrup has the most wonderful flavor and a rich, dark color. In Germany,  particularly the Rhineland area where we live, this syrup (called „Zuckerrüben-Sirup“),  a cooked and concentrated sugar beet syrup, is often used as a spread for sandwiches instead of butter, as well as for sweetening sauces, cakes and desserts, or as a topping for freshly baked waffles. The syrup itself is very molasses-y in texture, smooth and thick and very sweet. You will typically see this in yellow containers in the honey section of the grocery store, produced by a company called „Grafschafter" (for more details on this company, please go here).

We went to visit the company during harvest time, better watch out while visiting there - the local farmers are quite busy these days delivering their sugar beets to the company for processing.

If you cannot get this syrup in your area, you can always substitute molasses. Molasses is a sticky and thick by-product of sugar cane or sugar beet processing. Its taste and texture resembles that of honey. Aside from sugar cane and beets, it can also be made from grapes, dates, pomegranates, mulberries, and carob. It is made by extracting the juice of the sugar cane through crushing or mashing. The juice is then boiled to make a concentrate and to crystallize the sugar.

I have tried this recipe using molasses (called "Zuckerrohr-Melasse") as well as sugar beet syrup. They work equally well and the finished cakes varied only slightly in flavor, the sugar beet syrup taste is a bit less prominent than the molasses in the finished cake.

Aumnal Spice Bundt Cake with Sugar Beet Syrup

Ingredients for the Bundt Cake:
  • 280 grams (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 180 grams (1 cup) packed light brown sugar (I used "Muscovado" sugar, an unrefined brown sugar)
  • 200 grams (1 cup) fine baking (caster) sugar
  • 75 grams (3/4 cup) powdered sugar plus some for dusting the baked cake
  • 4 tbsp molasses (I used my favorite local sugar beet syrup called „Grafschafter“)*
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 3 eggs (L), free range or organic
  • 5 egg yolks (L), free range or organic
  • 350 grams (2 1/3 cups) AP (plain) wheat flour
  • 125 grams (1 1/4 cups) natural almonds**
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 2 tsps fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp  ground allspice
  • 3/4  tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (organic, please)
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature (I used 3.5%)
  • *NOTE: Sugar Beet Syrup is the pure, natural juice of freshly harvested cooked sugar beet carefully concentrated under vacuum - without added ingredients and without chemical treatment. Much like molasses, it can also be used as a sandwich spread, for sweetening sauces, desserts and as a baking ingredient.
  • ** NOTE: Cakes with ground almonds keep well, usually 3 - 5 days. They tend to become more moist over time and are at their best 1 - 2 days after making.

Special equipment needed
  • A 26 cm (10") diameter nonstick Gugelhupf (Bundt) pan

Preparation of the Bundt
  1. Arrange a rack in middle of your oven and preheat to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degress Fahrenheit).
  2. Thoroughly brush your bundt pan with melted butter, then flour and tap out the excess flour. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, sugars and molasses, frequently scraping down sides and bottom of bowl and beaters, until light and fluffy, about five minutes.
  4. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean. Cream some more. NOTE: Keep the bean for making homemade vanilla sugar.
  5. Pulse flour and almonds in a food processor until almonds are finely ground. Transfer to a large bowl. Whisk in baking powder and next seven ingredients. Set aside.
  6. Mix in lemon zest. Add eggs and yolks one at a time, beating to blend between additions; beat mixture until fluffy, about three minutes.
  7. Reduce speed to low. Add half of dry ingredients; mix until almost blended. Add milk and mix until almost blended. Add remaining dry ingredients; mix until batter is blended and smooth. Scrape into prepared pan. Tap pan gently on counter to even out.
  8. Bake until a tester inserted near the center of cake comes out clean and cake is dark golden brown and has begun pulling from sides of pan, 65-70 minutes.
  9. Transfer pan to a wire rack. Let cake cool in pan for 25 minutes. Invert cake onto rack and let cool completely, about one hour.
  10. Dust cake lightly with powdered sugar just before serving.

This Autumnal Spice Bundt Cake with Sugar Beet Syrup is anything but boring. It is quite perfect with that cup of tea or coffee as an afternoon treat or even for a decadent breakfast slice.This humble cake with its divine smell, beautiful damp crumb and slightly caramelized crust really caught my heart.

Enjoy baking an autumnal cake with warm spices, ground almonds and sugar beet syrup (or molasses) - baking at this time of year can be very versatile, fun and delicious - love those warm colors and flavors!

For more information about:
  • the different kinds of Nordic Ware bundt baking pans, go here.
  • a selection of German Gugelhupf baking pans, go here.
  • the sugar beet syrup and the comapny that produces it, go here.
  • the German spice merchant that will arrange delivery of all these lovely spices to your doorstep, go here.

Friday, October 17, 2014

French Fridays with Dorie - Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes with Garlic

Today´s recipe for the French Fridays with Dorie group is „Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes with Garlic“, a nice autumnal side-dish or starter.

All that is required for this recipe is the following: peel the Jerusalem artichokes, then cut them into quarters. Place them in an oiled pie plate and roast them together with a few sliced garlic cloves, salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme until golden. After about 20 to 25 minutes they will have softened up nicely and you can turn them once. Continue roasting for another 15 to 20 minutes to crisp the artichoke quarters, then serve straight away.

We think Dorie´s "Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes with Garlic" go well with both meat and fish but they are particularly good as part of a plate of mixed antipasti. That´s how we enjoyed them - quite a bit, actually.

Jerusalem artichokes (lat.Helianthus tuberosus) or "Topinambur" as we call them in German, are not to be confused with globe artichokes. They are also known as "sunchokes" in North America. These rather lumpy, brown-skinned tubers often resemble a ginger root. Contrary to what the name implies, this vegetable has nothing to do with "Jerusalem" but is derived instead from the Italian word for sunflower, "girasole". Jerusalem artichokes belong to the sunflower family.

The white flesh of this vegetable is nutty, sweet and crunchy and is a good source of iron. It is the plant’s small knobbly underground tubers that are eaten. These tubers are compatible with many flavorings such as sage, bay leaves, thyme and rosemary, to name but a few.

Jerusalem artichokes can be cooked in much the same way as potatoes or parsnips and are excellent roasted, sautéed or dipped in batter and fried, or puréed to make a delicious soup, such as cream of Jerusalem artichoke soup. Once you have peeled them (works best with a small teaspoon), drop them into acidulated water until you are ready to use them because the flesh discolors quickly. And remember to keep an eye on them while cooking as they can turn to mush quite quickly.

To see how much the other members of the French Fridays with Dorie group enjoyed this recipe, please go here.

For copyright reasons, we do not publish the recipes from the book. But you can find the recipe for the “Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes with Garlic“ on page 353 in Dorie Greenspan´s cookbook "Around my French Table".

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Stevan Paul´s new Cookbook & Fried Semolina Slices - Stevan Pauls "Auf die Hand" & Gebratene Grießschnitten

About two months ago,  I wrote a rather lengthy blogpost about a cookbook that is close to my heart. It is called "German vegetarian cuisine". For this book, Katharina Seiser and Stevan Paul re-discovered traditional German recipes and interpreted them from a vegetarian point of view. (You can take a look at my blogpost from August 17th here).
Today, I would like to add a little update to that blogpost with these delightful " Fried Semolina Slices with Rhubarb Compote", you can find the recipe on page 48 of the book.
Vor zwei Monaten hatte ich bereits einmal ausführlich über das Buch "Deutschland vegetarisch" berichtet. Katharina Seiser und Stevan Paul entdecken dort klassische deutsche Gerichte ganz neu für die moderne vegetarische Küche. (Hier geht es zu meinem Post vom 17. August.)
Heute möchte ich noch ein kleines Update nachreichen: "Gebratene Grießschnitten mit Rhabarberkompott", zu finden im Buch Seite 48. 

This recipe can be found in the chappter entitled "spring". In line with that lovely season, the recipe is prepared with fresh rhubarb and cherry juice. Since rhubarb is one of those veg (!) that takes well to a stay in the freezer, and cherry juice is available year round, you can actually prepare this recipe any time really. When I prepared the compote, I took the liberty of adding sweet cherries along with the cherry juice, other than that, no changes to the recipe. Delicious.
Seiser und Paul ordnen die Grießschnitten im Kapitel "Frühling" ein. Entsprechend dieser Jahreszeit werden für das Kompott frischer Rhabarber und Kirschsaft verwendet. Da Rhabarber sich jedoch sehr gut einfrieren lässt und Kirschsaft immer verfügbar ist, kann man auch im Rest des Jahres nach diesem leckeren Rezept kochen. Lediglich ein paar Süßkirschen habe ich dem Kompott noch hinzugefügt. Lecker.

Semolina slices, no matter which way they were cut, and what they were served with that day, were always considered to be a "main course" by my grand-mother. Today, you would probably serve them for dessert instead and go for a more savory lunch or diner. Sometimes when I look around me it seems as if the only "sweet lunch" that is being served all over Germany, are the ubiquitous pancakes. When my kids go to their friends´ houses and happen to have lunch there, most of the times it consists of either pancakes with apple compote and that rather well-known Italian hazelnut spread or noodles
Grießschnitten, in welcher Form und mit welchen Beilagen auch immer, waren noch zur Zeit meiner Großmutter ein "süßes Hauptgericht", also ein komplettes Mittagessen. Heutzutage werden die süßen Sachen in der Regel zum Nachtisch serviert, während als Hauptgang eher etwas deftigeres gekocht wird. Das einzige Menü, das sich in Deutschland flächendeckend als süße Hauptspeise erhalten zu  haben scheint, ist der unvermeidliche Pfannekuchen. Jedes zweite Mal, wenn unsere Kinder bei Freunden zum Essen zu Besuch sind, kommen entweder Pfannkuchen mit dem bekannten italienischen Haselnussaufstrich oder mit Apfelmus, oder Nudeln auf den Tisch.

How commendable then for Seiser and Paul to present these sweet main courses actually as full meals again - giving them the attention they deserve at the lunch tables. And I must admit that if you serve a fruity compote alongside the semolina slices, you will not regret having made a sweet lunch for a change.  
Wie lobenswert daher der Ansatz von Seiser und Paul, der süßen Hauptspeise wieder einen angemessenen Platz auf dem Mittagstisch zuzuweisen. Und mit dem leckeren Kirsch-Rhabarber-Kompott wird tatsächlich eine wirklich leckere und vollwertige Mahlzeit daraus.

But the semolina slices are not only suited for the lunch table, they are also wonderful served as dessert or with a cup of your favorite tea or coffee in the afternoon. I have made them a few times since receiving the book and sometimes I serve them with the Apple-Pear-Compote (the recipe can be found on page 152) or other seasonal fruits and berries.
Aber nicht nur zur Mittagsmahlzeit eignen sind die Grießschnitten, auch zum Nachtisch oder am Nachmittag machen sie eine gute Figur. Wir haben sie schon mehrmals gegessen, serviert nicht nur mit dem Kirsch-Rhabarber-Kompott, sie passen auch hervorragend zu Apfel-Birnen-Kompott (selbes Buch, S. 153) oder einem anderen Obst der Saison.

On October 23rd, Stevan Paul (recipes and reportages) and Daniela Haug (photography) will present Paul´s latest cookbook, entitled "Food eaten with your hands - sandwiches, burger & toasts, fingerfood and evening fare " (forgive the free translation) in my lovely hometown Cologne. In this new book, due to be released tomorrow October 6th (!), Stevan Paul interprets classic streetfood-fare for homecooks like myself. I am anxious to see how Stevan Paul will present streetfood so we can cook authentic streetfood at home. The new book will be presented in Cologne as part of an evening of music and streetfood. There will not only be the presentation of the new book but also food trucks so that the visitors will be able to taste some of the food that was the inspiration for the recipes in this book. I count myself lucky to be able to attend the evening as tickets were sold out in less than an hour.

In the meantime, while waiting for my book to arrive tomorrow and to get in the mood for the evening, I am happy to watch and share this lovely video. Enjoy!

Wishing Stevan Paul the best of luck for the launch of his new cookbook tomorrow!
In Köln wird am 23. Oktober das neue Buch von Stevan Paul (Rezepte und Reportagen) und Daniela Haug (Fotos) vorgestellt: "Auf die Hand - Sandwiches, Burger & Toasts, Fingerfood & Abendbrote".
Stevan Paul interpretiert hier internationale Streetfood-Klassiker für die heimische Küche. Ich bin gespannt, wie Paul die Rezepte "der Straße" so aufbereitet, dass man auch zu Hause authentisches Streetfood servieren kann.
Das Buch, welches morgen, am 6. Oktober (!) erscheint, wird in Köln im Rahmen eines abendlichen Streetfood-Festivals vorgestellt, bei dem einige Köchinnen und Köche mit ihren Garküchen und Streetfood-Trucks die Gerichte servieren, die als Inspiration für Paul und Haug dienten. Ich hatte das Glück, zwei der raren Karten zu ergattern und freue mich schon sehr auf diese Veranstaltung.

Bis dahin erfreue ich mich an dem Video, das auf das Buch einstimmen soll. Ich finde es gut gelungen und deshalb ist es hier auf meinem Blog zu sehen.

Das Glück liegt in der Tat auf der Hand!

Stevan Paul wünsche ich viel Glück zu der morgigen Buchveröffentlichung!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

French Fridays with Dorie - Celery-Celery Soup

Today´s recipe for the French Fridays with Dorie group is „Celery-Celery Soup“, a lovely fresh dish, inspired by a recipe from the Paris bistro "Les Papilles". The soup pairs celery stalks as well as celeriac, hence the name of the soup.

Celeriac, is a large, knobbly root vegetable, the base of the stem of certain types of celery. It is from the celery family and tastes quite similar, but has a slightly nutty, milder and sweeter taste. To prepare celeriac, peel it like a potato, rinse and keep in acidulated water until ready to use to prevent it from discoloring. It can be roasted, boiled and mashed, steamed, made into soup or used to flavor stocks. And it is perfect for making vegetable chips.

For the soup, melt the butter in a large Dutch oven, add the celery, onions and apples, season with salt and pepper and cook for about five minutes. Add the celeriac cubes, bay leaf, and thyme. Add the hot homemade chicken or vegetable stock to the pot, cover with a lid and cook for thirty minutes. Pour the mixture into a blender and blitz until smooth. Pour the soup into a lovely vintage soup tureen and garnish with toppings of choice such as curried croutons (as per Dorie) or homemade crisp celeriac chips and crème fraîche as well as some fresh cress (as per myself).

This easy celery soup recipe is surprisingly elegant and was received very favorably by most of my devoted taste testers. 

Because the vegetables are very slowly cooked, this soup has lots of lovely flavors. We really enjoyed the combination of the two types of celery as well as the addition of the two cooking apples to the soup - the celery stalks have a bright flavor, the celeriac added a bit of nutty flavor and the apples lend a bit of sweetness to the final dish.  A little touch of thick crème fraîche and fresh, homemade crispy celery chips will not go amiss here. Celery was definitely the star of the show here.

To see how much the other members of the French Fridays with Dorie group enjoyed this recipe, please go here.

For copyright reasons, we do not publish the recipes from the book. But you can find the recipe for the “Celery-Celery Soup“ on page 65 in Dorie Greenspan´s cookbook "Around my French Table".

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Cottage Cooking Club - September Recipes

Today, marks the fifth month of our international online cooking group, the Cottage Cooking Club. As a group, recipe by recipe, we are cooking and learning our way through a wonderful vegetable cookbook written in 2011 by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, called „River Cottage Everyday Veg“.

The Cottage Cooking Club online cooking group is meant to be a project aimed at incorporating more vegetable dishes in our everyday cooking, learning new ways to prepare tasty and healthy dishes, and sharing them with family and friends.

We will make an effort to use as much local, regional, organic and also seasonal produce as is resonably possible. With that goal in mind, during that month of September, I prepared a few wonderful dishes from the book.

Let us start with a picture of these purple beans, called "Blauhilde" (literally meaning „blue Hilda“), a heritage bean variety that was planted and harvested at a non-commercial garden specializing in heritage plants and crops. Although these beans loose some of their lovely purple color during cooking, they were delicious and I am always incredibly delighted when I find rare veg like these.

Onto this month´s recipes then. My first recipe for this September post is the „Fennel and goat´s cheese" (page 102), from the chapter "Raw Assemblies".

I chose to make this dish as a starter because there is still tons of fresh, crisp and wonderfuly fragrant fennel available around here.

For this recipe you have to slice the fennel very thinly and let it macerate for a good thirty minutes with freshly squeezed lemon juice, mild olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. After the fennel had a chance to rest for a good thirty minutes, the slices will be a bit softer, yet still crunchy and fresh. You will have to taste the dish and add more seasonings …

…and maybe finish it with a scattering of fennel fronds and a bit more oil. I also opted for some freshly grated organic lemon zest to wake up the fennel even more. We love fennel and lemon, so we really enjoyed the anisseed flavor of this dish and appreciated the crunchiness of the raw fennel together with the tanginess of the lemon juice and the zest – this dish is even bette when prepared with a rather mild olive oil – so the flavors of the vegetables rather than that of the olive oil shine through.

The second recipe is a very colorful salad recipe, the „Fish-free salad nicoise“ (page 85), from the chapter "Hearty Salads".

Having made salade Nicoise before, I was curious to see whether we would enjoy this tuna free version as much as the original. Hugh´s version calls for new potatoes, French beans (I used yellow as well as green ones), eggs (of course, those farm-fresh ones are best here), lettuce (I opted for burgundy and green oak-leaf salad), olives, basil (for extra flavor, I added basil blossoms as well) and tomatoes (I used small yellow and red ones and those wonderful zebra tomatoes as well).

The thick and tangy dressing consists of a bit of crushed garlic, olive oil, cider vinegar, dijon mustard and some runny honey. As this is quite a substantial salad with lots of late summer veg and a hearty dressing, I can tell you that no one missed the tuna in this dish. We loved this recipe.

The third recipe I chose was „Roasted Squash“ (page 346) from the chapter "Roast, Grill & Barbecue".

Now, the hardest part about this recipe was deciding which variety of pumpkin to use for this – I settled on the hokkaido pumpkin with ist glorious bright orange color – when you roast or bake or cook hokkaidos, you can leave the skin on, making the preparation time even shorter and the recipe even more of an everyday kind of recipe.

Cut the pumpkin into wedges, drizzle with olive oil, add salt and pepper and a couple of fat garlic cloves, scatter everything on a parchment lined baking sheet and your are all set.

I chose to add a few French shallots and a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme and could not have been happier with the outcome. Except to add a few leftover cubes of the pumpkin to a wheatberry salad the next day.

Recipe number four this month – now there is my absolute September favorite, the „Mushroom risoniotto“ (page 258) from the chapter "Pasta & Rice".

Quicker and easier to cook than rice, „risoni“ (or orzo) is a tiny rice-shaped pasta that is indeed quite charming but it took me a while to find it in stores around here. But I am certainly glad that I persisted and made this lovely, autumnal mushroom risoniotto with baby portabella mushrooms, they have a robust meaty texture, perfect for the rich mushroom ragout that gets added to the cooked pasta.

The risoni needs to boil for about nine minutes or until the pasta is approaching softness. But it should retain a certain bite. While the pasta is bubbling away, you will be preparing the mushroom ragout with your choice of mushrooms, garlic, thyme, balsamic vinegar, white wine, double cream, salt, pepper and lots of chopped flat-leafed parsley. I chose to add a few finely sliced spring onions along with the garlic – they are so abundant right now and they always add such a wonderful mild onion flavor. What a delicious side dish – we loved everything about it, the taste, the texture of the risoni, the meatiness of the mushrooms, and the creaminess from the double cream – perfect with lots of chopped parsley.

The fifth recipe for this month was a lovely soup, the „Puy lentil and spinach soup“ (page 162) from the chapter „Hefty Soups“. I have prepared the famous French Puy lentils before and written about their virtues – suffice it to say now that they are earthy and nutty and hold their shape incredibly well when cooked.

This soup is quite similar to the kind of lentil soup I prepare – but sans bacon and sausages. The base is a wonderful homemade vegetable stock. Other than the stock, the ingredients for the lentil soup itself are shallots, carrots, thyme, garlic, tomatoes, Puy lentils, Italian parsley, salt, pepper and baby spinach.

A perfect light soup, yet hearty enough to satisfy even the hungriest of taste testers the day I made it  – especially when served with a nice loaf of bread – I really liked the addition of the tomatoes, giving the soup a very nice layer of acidity. The addition of the fresh baby spinach at the very end also added a nice layer of flavor and some richness as well, a very nice touch. Just before serving, I garnished the soup with shaved parmesan and a good drizzle of my favorite mild olive oil  – perfect.

The next recipe was entirely new to me. I had never prepared „Cauliflower pakoras with tamarind raita“ (page 318), from the chapter „Mezze & Tapas“.

The batter for this intriguing appetizer consists of gram flour, baking powder, ground cumin, corinander, turmeric and cayenne pepper, plus some fine sea salt.  It had the most delightful warm color. It is true what they say about gram flour varying greatly. I used some organic one which I have used for pancakes before and I know from experience that it seems to need more liquid than the regular gram flour available around here – so I ended up adding more water to the batter than the recipe called for – I just went by the description of the batter having to have a consistency of „double cream“. And I fried a few „test florets“.

Fried like this in a very tasty batter and served warm with a cool mango chutney raita – this was a true crowd pleaser indeed. As I could not find the tamarind paste, I went with the optional mango chutney - a cool, tangy yet slighty sweet dip - wonderful alongside the warm, spicy fried cauliflower pakoras.

The seventh recipe this month was a wonderfully fragrant side-dish of „Runner beans with tarragon and lemon“ (page 375).

So many beans still available around here – I must admit to serving quite a few of them during this time of year. I really liked the preparation method for these. You simply sweat some shallots, add garlic and beans and sweat some more. Then after ten minutes you add a bit of water and cook for a few minutes until the beans are done but still hold their shape.

The recipe gives you a choice of using either „runner beans“ or the more widely available „French beans“ . In general, runner beans are stronger in flavor and coarser in texture than green beans and I used French beans for this recipe. The final touch is lemon juice, salt, pepper, and tarragon. Often used in French cooking this herb has long, soft green leaves and a distinctive aniseed flavor – love it.

Last but certainly not least, I prepared the „Two veggie sarnies“  (page 195) from the chapter "Bready Things".

These are two kinds of sandwiches served on two kinds of bread. The first one is a „Mushroom, watercress and blue cheese“ sandwich that I prepared as per recipe except I used goat´s cheese instead of the blue cheese and rocket instead of the watercress – both these greens have a pungent, peppery taste but the watercress did not look all that good when I was shoppping for it. I used a wonderful, moist rye bread. Great, hearty sandwich with a lot of flavor.

The second sandwich is a „Curried egg, lentil and flat-leaf parsley“ sandwich that I prepared with a lovely mulit-grain bread. What a great way to use those left-over lentils from the Puy lentil and spinach soup and add them together with eggs, mayo, curry powder, parsley, salt and pepper to make a wonderful topping for sandwiches – a bit messy but quite delicious.

What a month full of wonderful recipes- I managed to incorporate eight out of ten in our regular dinner/lunch schedule and was pleased as punch that all of the recipes received glowing reviews – love cooking from this unique cookbook!

Please note, that for copyright reasons, we do NOT publish the recipes. If you enjoy the recipes in our series, hopefully, the Cottage Cooking Club members and their wonderful posts can convince to get a copy of this lovely book. For more information on the participation rules, please go here.

To see which wonderful dishes the other members of the Cottage Cooking Club prepared during the month of September, please go here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

September Fairgrounds - Pützchens Markt 2014

The so-called „Pützchens Markt“ is a huge fair, held yearly in the city of Bonn, Germany. It always runs for five days beginning on the Friday before the 2nd weekend in September. It is one of Germany´s biggest fairs in terms of turnover. Approximately 550 businesses, exhibitors and vendors present their goods and activities on the 80.000 square meters fair-ground. The nearly one million visitors each year attest to what has become a favorite late summer tradition.

There are always hundreds of stalls where you can play carnival games, enjoy varieties of drinks and food including some German classics such as Bratwurst, but also the usual fairground sweets. You will even find a Bavarian beer hall to help you get in the mood for the „Oktoberfest“.

The fair has a long and fascinating past. Its roots go back to the worship of Saint Adelaide. Around the turn of the first millennium she provided food to the poor and her gift of working miracles soon became known. When in a period of great drought Abbess Adelaide thrust her crosier into the ground, water began to well up. The village "Pützchen" was named after this well and up to this day, believers hope to be healed by the well´s water. Pützchen is said to have become a place of pilgrimage around the middle of the 14th century. Soon traders started to set up tents and stalls to sell their goods here. Gradually, a fair developed which continued to expand and to diversify greatly with time. Soon traders, travelling people, wandering minstrels, entertainers, tamers and circus performers started offering their skills, trades and wares here and Pützchens Markt was born. Today, you could say that the fair draws on centuries of history, it has been attracting visitors for more than 640 years now, as the first recorded date for this fair can be set around 1367.

There is a tons of fun to be had with the many rides to choose from. There is the huge ferris wheel which could already be seen from afar while the fair was still under construction. This „Big Wheel“ with its open and rotating gondolas is the tallest of its kind worldwide and has been the landmark of „Pützchens Markt“ for many years now.

There is also a traditional merry-go-round

…and some fierce „jungle fun".

Time for a break to enjoy some German sausage treats…

…or some burnt-sugar almonds (my personal recipe for this traditional fairground treat will follow below).

…or some sweet pancakes with various topping including, of course, that well-known chocolate-hazelnut spread from Italy.

While riding the merry-go-round, you could take a good look at, and certainly smell, the „Reibekuchenhütte“ where the staff was busy continuously frying those traditional potato pancakes that people love to eat with apple compote.

More fun rides and absolutely incredible blue skies...

…colorful balloons (guess which one the girls wanted to take home)...

…the weather held up beautifully….

…which in turn attracted even more visitors to the fair.

A rollercoaster with an observation deck.

Time for another break and maybe some colorful lemonade with ornages, limes, cherries and other fruits

Oh those spinning rides…

…guess someone got hungry and took a bite out of this surfboard.

Our girls certainly enjoyed themselves…

...and loved this huge slide…

…and could not get enough of these rides.

My absolute favorite - sweet, delicious, colorful, decorated gingerbread hearts.

And I got this personalized Kitchen Lioness Gingerbread Heart from my Schatzi – love it!!!

Traditionally the fair is opened by the mayor, broaching the first keg of beer on Friday. The end of the fair is marked by grand fireworks around ten o´clock on Tuesday night. Admission to the fair is always free, however you will pay for all rides etc. on an individual basis.


Fairground Burnt Sugar Almonds

Ingredients for the Almonds
  • 1 fresh vanilla bean or 3 tsps. pure (homemade) vanilla sugar
  • 200 grams white sugar 
  • a good pinch of fine sea salt
  • 125 ml water
  • 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 200 grams natural almonds

Special Equipment needed
  • a heavy-duty/cast-iron pot NOT a non-stick pan.
  • a sturdy wooden spoon
  • a baking sheet lined with parchment paper

Preparation of the Almonds
  1. To make the vanilla sugar, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add it to the sugar. Mix well. (Instead of discarding the scraped vanilla bean, you can always place it in sugar jar with tight-fitting lid to flavor your sugar.) OR: Use 3 tsps. store-bought, qood-quality, pure vanilla sugar
  2. Add the sugar, salt, water and cinnamon into the heavy saucepan and set it over medium heat. Stir to mix, then bring it to a boil before adding the almonds.
  3. Add the almonds to the pan. With the wooden spoon, stir over high heat, to boil the water away.
  4. The sugar will dry out after a few minutes and the almonds will take on a grey-brown tinge. Keep stirring, so that the almonds do not burn on the bottom of the pan.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium, to keep the sugar from browning too fast and burning. At this stage, the sugar heats up and starts to melt again. It is already brown from the cinnamon, so it is hard to see the color change. Just keep stirring, so that the almonds become evenly browned and about half of the sugar is melted and gives the almonds a shiny coat. They will stick together but you will separate them later. When they are shiny, but not burnt, remove the pan from heat.
  6. Place the almonds on the prepared parchment lined baking sheet and using two spoons, separate the almonds if they stick together tooo much. Either let them cool completely or serve them while stillwarm. NOTE: the Fairground Burnt Sugar Almonds will keep best if kept in a tin or glass jar in a dry, cool place.