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27 December 2014

Hand-made tasty present from Santa - ginger cookies

The decorations are ready, everyone is crazy shopping and preparing. New Year is so close.
Unfortunately, we sometimes face a problem when looking for presents. Wrong color, size not available, too expensive, too simple... One big headache. And I can cure it. Well, maybe not truly me, but tasty home-made cookies - definitely!


No special ingredients, you will probably have all of them ready-to-go:

100 g butter
1/2 cup honey
2 tbsp sugar (*optional)
1 egg
1 cup white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

In a saucepan heat first three ingredients; butter, honey and sugar.

Tip!
I would say that the amount of sugar can be reduced as honey adds the sweetness. Especially use this advice if you want to cover the cookies with chocolate glaze afterwards.

Stir the mixture all the time and make sure that the mixture doesn't boil. Put aside to cool for a while. Meanwhile in a bowl whisk together both types of flour, spices and baking powder. Add a half of dry ingredient mixture into warm sweet honey-butter composition. Mix thoroughly, then add in second half and an egg.

Cover dough tightly with plastic wrap and chill in fridge for 30 minutes.


Preheat oven to 190° C. Prepare the cookies-forms. Take dough out of the fridge, roll it so that it is less than 0.5 cm thick. Cut different shapes of the cookies.
Bake them for 7-9 minutes, or until cookies get golden-brown edges.

Let them coll down and cover with sugar powder.



17 December 2014

Bacon rolled venison tenderloin under wine-cranberry sauce on a arugula pillow

Last days turned to be so windy in Hamburg that you sometimes feel yourself being literally blown away. But its just typically here, no reason to wonder. Hamburg is beautiful at any weather. At the other hand, last weeks were very special for food-lovers. Firstly, you can find a wide range of meat on the shelves of supermarkets: venison, wild boar, rabbit, goose, duck etc. Secondly, the Christmas markets are already opened. Everywhere!  A smell of freshly baked maroons mixed with sweet flavors of Stollen - a typical Christmas bread originally from Dresden, and the spicy aroma of a hot wine - Glühwein in German. Do you already feel Christmas knocking on your door?! Yeap, holidays are coming. Almost a week left. Let us go wild!



I was surprised and confused when my husband brought venison from the supermarket. I have never tried one, so I wondered: What would it taste like? What should be the best combination? Is it tastier with a sweet note or better salty? The next couple of hours I found myself at the laptop searching for the information, nutritional facts and the best combinations. I watched videos from the famous chefs, read articles and now I’m ready to share the “wild” facts and the best recipe choice with you.

And don’t be afraid. No special requirements from you. Just a strong desire and a little bit of your precious time.

By the way, deer meat is high in nutritional value. It contains iron, which is good for those, who have a lack of it, as well as vitamin B2 that will speed the metabolism. If you think that venison as wild meat has gamey smell I assure you – not at all. The taste is very juicy with a tender sour-sweet note if you cook it the way I advise.

Tip!

I’ve used a shoulder part of venison. If you are lucky to buy venison tenderloin, that is even better. The deer meat has a dark color, and that is explained with the following: deer are very active and the oxygen goes through their muscles in big amounts. Therefore they become darker. That explains why chicken meat (especially from those raised by big suppliers) is very bright.

My favorite recipe combines medium rare bacon rolled lean meat under the wine-cranberry sauce on the arugula pillow.

Get some patience and prepare the following ingredients:

300 g venison loin or shoulder
4 thin stripes of lean bacon
100 ml dry red wine
100 g dried cranberries
1 tsp sour cherry jam or wind berries jam* (optional)
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion
handful of arugula
salt, pepper

Let us prepare everything step by step:

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Wash the meat and cut the needed piece so that you can roll it into the bacon stripes afterwards (see picture below).

Salt and pepper the piece of venison from all sides. Roll it as shown on the picture. The bacon dress protects the lean meat and keeps it juicy and tender.

*I cooked one piece of venison. The other is just for comparison. 


Step 2

Put olive oil and butter into a frying pan. The best choice is a pan that can be put into the oven afterwards. Otherwise prepare a baking form or a piece of foil. Heat the pan and fry the rolled piece from all sides for about 10 minutes in total. The sign of perfection is the crispy golden-brown bacon crust.

Step 3

Put the meat into the oven for 7 minutes sharp. And now ATTENTION, please!
Take venison out of the oven and put it aside. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes. It enables the juices to get back from the center, where they concentrated because of the heat, all over the piece. As a result you get a perfect juicy and tender, yet medium rare venison with a bacon crust full of flavors.

Step 4

Meanwhile we can prepare a wine-cranberry sauce that will complement the taste of the meat with some sour-sweet notes. So, finely chop the onion. Fry it in a saucepan with some olive oil mixed with butter (1 tsp of each). Add a pinch of salt. When the onion is brown add cranberries and jam*.  In a minute pour 100 ml of wine and let it boil for a while. Wine should evaporate so that the sauce gets a bit thicker. Afterwards blend the sauce using a stick mixer.

Serve sliced venison on a arugula pillow with a sauce topping.


Let you enjoy the fullness of the taste. Every single piece brings a magic combination of smoky flavor, sour and sweet notes of the sauce, as well as a tender juicy meat.

All in all, enjoy.

Because good food is always a good idea. Especially, when it is "wild" :)




12 December 2014

Christmas Carrot Pie

Holidays are coming. And the smell of hot wine is in the air. Ginger cookies, Stollen - traditional Christmas Pie in Germany, baked maroons, a wide range of cute little sweet-Christmas-stuff is out there in the nearest bakery round the corner. But what can be better than a home-made pie?! Especially, when the main ingredient seems to be not so typical for bakery.



Carrots! Yes, carrot pie with a sweet note of Christmas flavors. Healthy, easy and soooo tasty.

Don't be scared when you see the list of ingredients. The instructions are very simple. If you have children, do not hesitate to bake a pie in cooperation with them. They will help you with pleasure.

Ingredients:

5 middle-sized carrots
5 eggs
2 tbsp ground peanuts
4 tbsp whole grain flour
2 tbsp wheat bran
1 banana
3/4 cup raisins
150 ml milk
Winter ground spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, cloves, ginger - 1/2 tsp each.
Water to plump up the raisins



Firstly, preheat the oven to 180°C.
Secondly, boil the water. We should plump up the raisins so that they are soft, juicy and plump. Put your raisins in a small bowl, and cover with boiling water. Let them steep for about 10-15 minutes and then drain them thoroughly.

Meanwhile to take a big bowl. Wash the carrots, peel them and grate them all into a bowl. Add one mashed banana for sweetness, ground peanuts for nutty smell and taste. I added 2 tbsp of wheat bran, but if you don't have any, you can add 1 extra tbsp of whole wheat flour instead. I prefer to add some bran into my dishes in order to increase fiber intake. It has a lot of benefits for our health as well. But, anyway, this ingredient is optional. Add other ingredients: 4 tbsp of whole grain flour, spices, 150 ml of milk and drained raisins. Finally it's eggs' turn. Mix it all very thoroughly. Pour the mixture into a previously buttered form. You can bake muffins from this mixture as well. It's up to you;)

Cover the form with a sheet of foil. Bake this delicious pie 15 minutes at 180°C, then reduce the heat to 150°C and bake 40 minutes. Take of the foil and let the pie get nice brown color for another 10 minutes. Your house will smell like Christmas and you will hardly keep patience when you take the pie out of the oven.


I used some pistachios and white yogurt to serve.
Have a nice Christmas time and enjoy the company of good friends sharing your tasty results :)




4 December 2014

Fresh figs with Roquefort and balsamic cream

Big company is always a lot of fun. At the times of celebrations you can often find yourself hesitating... What to cook?! Of course, it should be something special - the occasion is always special. And preferably cooked very quickly and easy. For those days I have a great decision: figs. No, not simply figs, and not dried ones... I mean those fresh figs with a little piece of Roquefort under the balsamic topping. Perfect little appetizer you just HAVE to try.

Here we go;)



 Tip!
There is a great variety of cheese on the shelves of the supermarkets. If you prefer some other cheese instead of Roquefort you can add your own touch: goat cheese, gorgonzola, ricotta, blue cheese... Take your time and feel your heart. The amount in my case is made for two, keep that in mind when you have a big party.


Ingredients:
2 fresh figs
20g Roquefort
1 tsp balcamic cream

Wash the figs and make on each of them a cross-shaped incision. Open them a little like a flower. Here you get some place for Roquefort. Don't hesitate to put about 10g of the cheese in your flowers and top them with balsamic cream. 


Ready! Easy, quick and chic!