Monday, 27 December 2010

Gingerbread House



Finally my mission to make a gingerbread house is completed...:)! But I have to say it was a LOT of work of several days. I am nevertheless happy with the result of my first gingerbread house ever. Well..., it's actually not really my 'first' gingerbread house, I tried to make one last year on Christmas Eve and thought I would be able to do everything in one night (template, baking, decorating, etc), but after one of the roofs broke and fell apart, I gave up completing the house. This year I was wiser and gave myself several days to complete the gingerbread house project.





The gingerbread house in the making...



The house after I added some sugar icing, sweets and muesli for the chimney.


Bilbo's house from The Hobbit, German Fachwerkhaus and of course Hansel and Gretel's candy house came into my mind when I decorated the gingerbread house.



Can you see why? Does the round 'oreo' cookie door remind you of Bilbo's little house? - at least a little bit... ;)


Hopefully the handpainted timber makes it look like a Fachwerkhaus.


And the candy-covered roof like the witch's house in Hansel and Gretel....



I will not write much as I am at the moment in my MIL's house. But I want to wish you all a lovely Christmas time with your family and friends.


And one more time, in German, Frohe Weihnachten, lovely readers :)!




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Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Roasted Duck à l'orange

Christmas is on its way... This means roasted duck time - my favourite German dish ever :)! Starting from November onward, you would start seeing duck or goose in the menu when you go to restaurants. The Germans usually eat roasted duck or goose on Christmas Eve, in some parts of Germany they also eat fried carp, but since I am not that fond of fish, I have never tried this other specialty. Last year I made traditional roasted duck with potato dumplings and red cabbage. For this year I wanted to make something slightly different, that's why I decided to use the homemade orange marmalade that my MIL gave me to make Ente à l'orange - Duck with orange sauce, a few days ago.






Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 1 duck (ca.1.5 kg)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 shallots, chopped coarsely
  • 2 tbs orange marmalade
  • 100 ml orange juice
  • 150 ml chicken stock
  • 150 ml white wine
  • 100 ml cream
  • dried chopped marjoram
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 tbs flour, mixed with 3 tbs of water
Instructions
  • Rub the duck with salt, pepper, orange marmalade and marjoram.
  • Put the duck into a roasting tin. Pour orange juice, chicken stock, white wine, chopped shallots and the bay leaf into the tin.
  • Roast the duck at medium temperature (150 C) for 2 - 2.5 hours. Check every half hour and keep adding hot water (even better, chicken stock) over the duck. I would say, 50-100 ml per half hour.
  • Remove the cooked duck from the roasting tin. Cover.
  • Sauce: Transfer the juice from duck into a saucepan and let it boil, adding cream, sugar, salt, pepper and the flour/water mixture.
  • Serve with potato dumplings, red cabbage and orange slices.


This meal is so festive and somehow always makes me feel happy eating it :)!


Look at my balcony! Isn't it pretty? I am really hoping for a white Christmas...!






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Sunday, 19 December 2010

Pork Schnitzel

I am a fan of schnitzel, be it chicken, pork or veal. In Germany, you can get schnitzel in almost any restaurant you go to. The most popular ones here are Wiener Schnitzel (the good ol' Viennese Schnitzel traditionally made from veal and served with lemon slice), Zigeuner Schnitzel (which means gypsy-stlye schnitzel, usually served with slightly spicy sauce with paprika and onions) and Jäger Schnitzel (or 'Hunter schnitzel' dished up with creamy mushroom sauce).



Last week I made pork schnitzel with salad. Making schnitzel is actually quite easy, because you don't need many ingredients: just meat cutlets, eggs, flour and bread crumbs and you're ready to fry the schnitzel.

Ingredients (serves 2 - 4)
  • 4 pork cutlets, pounded to 0.5 cm thickness
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbs oyster sauce (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • Oil for frying
Instructions
  1. Set the eggs, flour and bread crumbs in three different shallow bowls.
  2. Add oyster sauce, salt and pepper to the egg bowl and mix well.
  3. One at a time, dredge the cutlet in the flour, then dip in the egg mixture and coat with the bread crumbs.
  4. Repeat step 3 one more time (optional).
  5. Deep-fry the cutlets until golden brown.
  6. Serve with salad.


By the way, adding oyster sauce doesn't make the schnitzel taste 'asian' in any way. The sauce adds good flavour to the schnitzel which is usually rather bland. And if you want a healthier version, you can pan-fry the schnitzel instead of deep-frying it.


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Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Shrimp Bisque

Germany has been covered by snow for about 2 weeks now. It's very very cold, but it does look pretty...! When I look around, everything is white, the trees, the cars, the streets... I hope the snow will stay until Christmas.

I made shrimp bisque a few days ago. I was (and actually still am) in the mood for eating something soupy and warm. It's a very tasty yet easy-to-prepare appetiser, which would delight anyone, especially during winter time.






I added some 'soup pearls' to my shrimp bisque. Basically 'soup pearls' are like round croûtons. I got to know these gems when I visited my MIL and she treated me with a bowl of delicious chicken broth topped with soup pearls. A real pleasingly crunchy addition to your soups :)!

Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 4-5 tbs olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 can (peeled and seeded) tomatoes
  • 500 g shrimps, peeled and deveined
  • 1 l chicken stock (or seafood stock)
  • 150 ml white wine
  • 125 ml double cream
  • 2 tbs cognac
  • 1 tbs butter
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 tbs dried tarragon
  • 1 tbs Crème fraîche
  • 2 tbs flour (mixed with 50 ml of water)
  • Soup pearls
Instructions
  • Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add chopped onion and carrot. Sauté until soft.
  • Add shrimps and tomatoes and cook under medium heat for around 3 minutes.
  • Add the chicken stock, wine, cream and tarragon. Cook for another 3 minutes.
  • Puree the soup mixture in a food processor.
  • Return the pureed soup into the pot. Add salt, pepper, butter, cognac and crème fraîche. Stir for about 1 minute.
  • To thicken the soup, add the flour+water mixture to the soup and stir for another 1 minute.
  • Serve the soup hot. Garnish with soup pearls and cream.



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