Tuesday, October 28, 2014

An update on the Lardo Project

A long time ago I did commit to providing an update on the Lardo Project. Well, here it is!

The first attempt failed due to a few reasons. First of all I thought that keeping the ripening lardo in the basement cabinet would be cool enough. Also, the amount of salt applied to the batch was too little. What I ended up with was an ugly greenish looking slab of mould - that one went right to the bin.

But I didn't want to give up and went out to get another batch - this time I went for a slab of bacon from a happy free-range  organic Mangalica pig. With plenty of salt on top of the seasoning mix it went into my drinks fridge. I did visit it a few times to make sure that there's enough salt crust, I did turn it once without straining the brine and did reapply some more salt after that.
Overall, I let it rest in the crust and the resulting brine for a total of four months before taking it out - no mould this time.
Full of excitement, I was ready to remove the salt crust making sure to also clean out crack and wrinkles and dry off the remaining brine before throwing it onto the slicer and getting the first slices cut. I tried different thicknesses and came to the conclusion that 1,25 mm is the perfect thickness for my Lardo.

 In the meantime, the first successful batch has been eaten and I have just successfully finished another one a few weeks ago. I also found that it tasted very good with some home made whole-grain rye/wheat bread.

Last but not least, I did some reflection on the naming and figured out that calling it "Lardo" is maybe not 100% appropriate due to several facts. First, I was not using the marble pots. Secondly, I am not living in the associated regions in Italy, but in a small Bavarian village along the Via Julia with a historic Celtic site. Also, some research showed, that this sort of raw bacon is common in many areas also north of the alps such as Upper Austria ("Kübelspeck") and even as far east as the Ukraine.

So, I decided to call it "Celtic Bacon" from now on.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Grandpa's Favorites: Walnut Schnapps

It was this time of the year again - well, every other year, actually - where I think back at my crafty grandpa. I remember the days when I was a young lad with real and fake upset stomachs. This was the type of situation when grandpa would break out his very own medicine, the "Nuss Schnaps". A remedy, which he brewed based on a secret family recipe year after year around mid June.
Luckily, one day he felt that I was mature enough to keep the tradition going while preserving the secret. And so he did share secret recipe with me.
Ever since then I have been crafting 2-year supplies - well ahead of the end of stock in order to let the young guns reach their perfection for another year after bottling.

So at the beginning of July it was time for me to roam the village in search for the precious green fruits of the walnut trees. My previous spot had been harvested by someone else already so it took a while to get the 50 nuts together but in the end, just before dark I got my bag filled and could stroll home for the processing.
So here I sat with the very last rubber glove backwards on the wrong hand, slicing the green nuts for their bath in double-distilled rye liquor. For two weeks they would then darken the liquor and enhance it with their healing powers.

After that, the "medicine" required a little attention - it was time to remove the nuts, add the spices and the sugar an put the jar back in its sunny place.

At the end of a wonderful summer the time had come finalize the creation. So I went ahead and started straining the spices, took time for a quick quality check before I could finally fill the beloved elixir into bottles.

Next step: apply the labels ...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Lardo Project

Finally, I got around to try myself on creating my very own Lardo.
As the original Margaliza is not an easy thing to get your hands on I talked to my preferred butcher and got a nice slab of bacon off of a "Schwäbisch-Hällisches Landschwein" - a wonderful German breed of pork, indeed!

Check out this web site for details: http://www.besh.de/menue_produkte/schweinegga.html

So, I took it home and based on some web research I created my very own spicing based on the list below and gave it one last good rub.

  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • rosemary
  • sage
  • bay leaf
  • juniper
  • nutmeg
  • allspice (pimento)
  • cinnamon
Now, packed away in a cool place this project is resting and maturing until mid-January to hopefully become my very first home made Lardo. I will keep you updated.

And, before someone asks: If this is a success I will consider getting that marble pot - but for this first tryal I refused to get the budget for that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pumpkin Casserole

1 medium Hokaido Pumpkin
200g Feta Cheese
250g Mushrooms
Salt, Pepper, Herbes de Provence
250ml (1 Cup) fresh Milk
  • Slice and sauté the mushrooms i a hot pan. (Tip: make sure to have enough heat to get rid of the moisture and do *not* add all at once)
  • Pre-heat your oven to 160°C (320°F).
  • Remove the seeds from the pumpkin and cut it into 3-5mm thin slices.
  • Prepare the casserole dish by applying some olive oil then stack the ingredients:
    start with pumpkin, then add mushrooms, pumpkin, feta and finish with pumpkin
    Apply salt, pepper and herbs to the pumpkin and mushroom layers.
  • Pour the milk and put the dish into the oven until the pumpkin has soaked up the milkd and gets a little golden crust (~30 minutes).
Enjoy it as a side- or main dish

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Raspmary Ice Cream (Raspberry and Rosemary)

750 g Raspberries
3 tsp Chopped Rosemary
150g Powder Sugar
3 egg yolks
1/2 Lemon's Juice
400 ml Fresh Cream

In the mixer, stir the egg yolks and sugar to create creamy base.
In the meantime pass the raspberries through a sieve in order to remove the seeds then add to the base.

Stir in the remaining ingredients and place all into a 1/2 liter ice cream maker do the cooling (will take up to 30min).

Sorry, no photos available yet - the desert vultures were too fast ...

Kudos to the best ice cream place ever, which inspired me to create this recipe:
Gelateria di Piazza - San Gimignano

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Specknüdel = Speck Pastalings

300g (Süd)Tiroler Speck
1 Onion
fresh Parsley

400g fresh pasta dough

Finely chop the onion and sauté in some butter. Chop the speck and parsley and mix with the onions.

Split the pasta dough and the speck-mix into 12 equal pieces. Take a piece of dough and use your hands to form something like a bowl-like shape. Place the speck-mix in it and close it to form a ball-like dumpling. The dough should be as evenly distributed as possible. the dough is sticky enough not to require any glueing eggs or anything.

Place the pastalings in a steamer (I use the bamboo steamer from the asian food store) and steam for about 15min

Serve with field salat with a balsamico dressing that may be on the sweet side

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Baum5 Wholegrain Bread

1 cup rye
2 cups wheat
1/2 cube yeast (20g)
3 Tables spoons olive oil
1-2 Tables spoons Salt
1-2 Tables spoons caraway seeds
1 pinch ground cilantro seeds

Grind the grains into a bowl to create some fresh and warm whole flour and create a "crater" in the middle
Dissolve the yeast in 1 cup warm water (not hot! - that would kill the yeast bacteria).

Pour the yeast-water into the crater and mix with some of the flour to create a viscid starter dough. sprinkle some of the remaining flower over it, cover and let it rest in a quiet war place for about 15min.

Add the salt, caraways, olive oil and about 1-1.5 cups of warm water. mix well and then let the kitchen machinery knead it for 10-15 min

Cover it up again and let it rest and rise for one hour (again in a quiet, warm place)

Heat the fan oven to 200°C (= 400°F).

Mix down the dough to get rid of enclosed air, form a loaf and create a smooth surface with your wet hands

Bake for 45 minutes

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pasta with Baby Tomatoes and Ginger

Let me start this post with a shout out to a place named "Gast" here in Munich: Thanks for coming up with this meal and for applying the live cooking concept!
Some weeks ago I enjoyed the following pasta dish at Gast. The recipe of this I have created as an interpretation of what I have been "shown" by the chef that day. Here it is:

250g baby tomatoes
1 table spoon ground ginger
1/3 cup fresh cream
1 table spoon chopped mint leaves
500g spaghetti, tagliatelle or similar pasta

Chop the baby tomatoes (save any juices) and stir fry them in some melted butter (no, do not substitute it with evil margarine or olive oil or whatever!). When they're hot add the freshly ground ginger. If the tomato chopping has produced juices, add them now.

Gast doesn't do that, but it has proven to be good: Add about 1/3 cup of fresh cream.
Finally, add the mint leaves and some salt and pepper according to your taste

Serve on some fresh pasta with Parmesan if you like

Here's a tip for grinding the ginger: Go to Muji's or any other well equipped kitchen supplier and spend five bucks on a ginger grinder - it produces a wonderfully creamy paste when grinding the ginger that no western cool will come up with!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The influence of your job on your body

I've been wondering for a long time how your job influences the shape of your body via its influence on the diet. And I've been noticing some extreme cases where the change in diet obviously has a huge impact on one's physique:

Here's some examples:
1) The fattened politician
When in the opposition fighting to get to power they look healthy an tanned, they do sports to keep themselves fit. But once the get elected these guys seem to undergo a diet-disaster that makes them fat. Is it due to the cookies served at numerous meetings? The sandwiches at press conferences and art events? The buffets at conferences? The numerous 12 course gala dinners?
Austria's Alfred Gusenbauer for example seems to have almost doubled his size while in the office as chancellor. Once he stepped down and took on a real job again he went back to his original decent size.
Another one, Germany's Joschka Fischer is a special case. He tried to fight back at times but somehow turned into the perfect example of for the yo-yo effect.

2) The traveling consultant
Well, working dreadful hours away from home, staying in hotels (and their bars) and eating in multiple restaurants of all sorts of quality levels does not leave much room for a healthy living. Some fight it with morning sports or late night gym sessions, but only the weekends at home keep them from following the politicians' fattening trail.

3) The fragile Pope
Popes are a special case. First of all they are rather rare these days. So I have been watching them for 20+ years and have noticed that they all seem rather fit and agile when the white smoke rises from the the Sistine Chapel. However, I have not yet figured out what turns them into rickety old men within just a few months. Is it the sudden change in food once they relocate to Rome? An overdose incense (it does contain THC, after all)?

These are the ones that I notices so far - I'm sure there's more out there.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey is meat for vegetarians! Get a GOOSE!

Now, since it's Thanksgiving and people out there are done driving their turkeys aroun the block before roasting them for hours on end I'd like to post my own personal opinion on that white fleshed bird: Turkey is meat for vegetarians. It tastes like rice crackers, is dry as bone and the color of the meat is closer to paper than to a muscle. Never, never, never will it enter my kitchen! - I'd rather have a tofu "steak" than turkey.

Enough of the bashing - what alternatives are there? Well, if you need to feed a hungry bunch and want to taste real poultry beyond chicken and are not quite happy with that lame ol' duck - get a goose and make your dinner guests happy!

ST.MARTIN'S GOOSE (also perfect for Christmas)

1 free range goose (ca 750g per person)
2-3 apples
Salt, pepper, majoram
"Bratschlauch" XXL - That's a roasting "tube" (or bag) sold per meter here in Germany.

Wash the goose on the inside and outside and cut off any fat. Spice it with salt, pepper, majoram (inside and outside), stuff it with 2-3 apples (not too sweet).
Tie the legs and wings close to the body and slip the bird breast-down into the "Bratschlauch" and tie that up. poke 3-4 small(!) holes so that hot air can escape. Place on a baking tray that is capable of holding a good amount of juice(the deepest one you can find). Put the goose into the preheated oven at 160°C = 320°F. The bird will stay in there for about one hour per kg (30 min per pound).
Note: Keep the the FAN of you oven OFF!

After 2/3 remove the "Bratschlauch" and carefully turn the goose upside down (breast up). Remove a good part of the juices and use for serving and fine-tuning the red and white cabbages.

When the skin has turned crispy it's ready to be served with red and white cabbage and a load of potato-dumplings