German food has a bad health rep. And for the most part, it deserves it. Take the classic German cake (Kuchen): layers of sponge and liquor-flavored butter cream, marzipan icing, whipped cream piping. The recipe starts with nothing less than two cups of butter, three eggs and a whack of sugar...you get the idea.
Thus I was surprised to discover, upon moving to Munich a few years back, a popular late-summer dessert featuring plums baked on a simple, lightly-sweetened yeast dough base. It’s a snap to make, impressive to serve and just about qualifies as a serving of fresh fruit.
Continue reading Plum Cake: The Healthy German Dessert You’ve Never Heard Of »
Just back from a trip to southern Spain, where we stayed in a very rustic beach bungalow owned by relatives.
Each day’s challenge was to cook a meal for 5 with only these tools: a 2-burner propane stove, 1 frying pan, 1 medium-sized pot with cover, a few mixing bowls, and a handful of odd knives and wooden spoons.
You can only serve pasta with sauce so many times, so I came up with this recipe, and it was pretty tasty.
Chicken Ratatouille (serves 4)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced on the diagonal
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 pound boneless chicken breasts, chopped in 2-inch pieces
3 large, ripe tomatoes, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium eggplant, chopped in 1-inch pieces
1 each medium red and green bell pepper, seeded and chopped in 1-inch pieces
1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise and then in 1/2-inch pieces
2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence (or a mixture of oregano, rosemary and thyme)
salt, black pepper to taste
Continue reading Chicken Ratatouille: Quick & Light for Summer »
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from traveling to other countries and learning to cook along the way, it’s that some of the best dishes are made with very few ingredients. Every cuisine I have encountered includes its share of down-to-earth foods. For this simple fare, quality means everything.
A French friend once served me a summer dessert of fresh, whole strawberries doused with red wine. No sugar, no whipped cream, no lemon zest. Just wonderfully sweet strawberries swimming in good Beaujolais. Heavenly!
I’ve made caprese--the classic Italian salad of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil, drizzled with olive oil--for years. But I never realized how amazing it can taste until we were staying on a farm in Tuscany and made it with ingredients we picked up in a tiny village store: perfectly-ripe, juicy tomatoes from a local farm and fruity olive oil from the region.
Continue reading When Simplicity Demands Quality »
Last week, my family and I drove to Berchtesgaden, in the the very southeast corner of Germany, to tour a salt mine. The mine dates to the 16th century and is still in operation. In addition to lots of info about mining techniques, we learned about the mineral itself.
What I didn’t know about salt was alot!
The base mineral composition of all salt is sodium chloride. Pure salt (i.e. 100% sodium chloride) is rarely found in nature. It usually contains smaller amounts (>16%) of other minerals, such as iron, potassium, magnesium, chlorine and sulfur. Salt is either harvested from lakes, seas or oceans, or is mined from the ground where ancient seas used to be.
Continue reading A Dash of Salt Knowledge »
With age comes less trepidation in the kitchen. While I still prefer to stick to recipes when cooking, I am slowly learning to “throw stuff together” as my mother says.
It all started a couple of years ago when my kids began eating a hot lunch at school, and I found myself having to prepare lunch just for little old me.
A combination of laziness, frugality and time-pressure sent me grazing through the fridge every day in search of a mid-day meal.
I did smorgasbord for a while--a hunk of cheese, dinner rolls with peanut butter, warmed-up chicken or leftover vegetables, nuked pasta with butter and salt. It didn’t occur to me to try to put some of these things together and make a real meal.
Continue reading Fearless Fridge Foraging »
Since fall, I have been trying to cut down on carbs. Very hard for this over-40 girl who loves her bread, pasta and rice. I’ve always tried to stick to healthy versions of these guys, but there’s no getting around it: just can’t carb-load like I used to and get away with it, no matter how much exercise I do.
A dietician friend gave me a tip: eat a normal amount of carbohydrates during the day, but stop after 5 p.m. Keep suppers as low-carb as possible so as not to elevate your blood sugar before you go to bed.
Continue reading Low-Carb Dinners: A Beginner’s Progress »
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