Archive for the 'Food' Category

Tillari Trotters

Once upon a time I blogged about the very cheap pork neck fillets we were enjoying in Germany. For shame! I’m not sure when the penny dropped, but the reason the meat was so cheap was of course the dreadful way in which the animals were farmed, and I’m sad to say it’s no better in Australia. That pork you find on the meat shelves in Woolies? Someone pays the true price of that meat, but it surely isn’t us. After having this revelation we became quasi-vegetarians, owing mostly to the cost and scarcity of meat produced in an animal-friendly way. We continued our adventures in vegetarianism until recently when a certain member of our family joined us at the dinner table. As many of you well know, this little person is not much of a sleeper, and anything we can do to boost the iron in his diet (read: anything we can do to get him sleeping better at night) is currently top priority.

Second to cuddles (and breastfeeds, ahem) this man likes a sausage in hand.

So you’ll imagine how delighted I was to find Tillari Trotters (aka ‘the cuddly pig lady’). The first things one notices when visiting the market stall are large photos of a lady cuddling her pigs, the very same lady who now stands before you. She and her family farm rare breed Tamworth pigs and Persian sheep, humanely treated and much loved. Our favourite products so far are the loin bacon (salt-cured, nitrate free) and “Crap-free sausages”.

If you live nearby may I suggest you take a moment to order your Christmas ham? I guarantee it will come from the happiest pigs in Australia.

In case you’re interested, Tillari also sell live piglets. Hmm, about that back fence…


The perfect creme brulee

For a very long time now I’ve been on a mission to make the perfect creme brulee. Keren and I shared a serving of this iconic treat at a Salon de Thea on one of our edible adventures. It was (as I told Tony later) like eating pleasure itself. I made an inward resolution to master the art of Creme Brulee. With such a short and humble list of ingredients (eggs, cream, sugar, vanilla), how hard could it be?

Research uncovered a minefield of issues; cream, double cream, milk, anywhere between 30 and 90 minutes in the oven, some calling for a water bath and others not. Still more omit the baking step completely, thickening the custard on the stove. Nigella says it best; “If it starts to split, plunge the saucepan in a sink of cold water and whisk like crazy”. Sans blowtorch, a minute or two under a hot grill is the proffered suggestion for burning the sugar, though some have you make a separate caramel and pour it on.

My creme brulee in Paris had a texture somewhere between yoghurt and Nutella; a thick, delectable smoothness. In pursuit of this I’ve made recipes by Julia Childs, Delia Smith, various food bloggers and Clotilde herself. All have been delicious but never produced the texture I coveted.

But this time I succeeded. I made the perfect creme brulee. I abandoned the recipes and followed my heart. I took the bold step of withholding the cream from the custard and adding it (whipped) at the end. Tony’s new Hot Devil blowtorch added the final touch. What resulted was a marriage of texture and taste that brought on a lengthy period of self-congratulation. Fortunately, Angie and Steve did not seem to mind.

Perfect Creme Brulee

5 egg yolks
80g sugar
200ml milk
1 vanilla pod, split and scraped
400ml cream (I used pure cream by Barambah Organics, the most incredible cream ever tasted)
Demerara sugar

Warm the milk in a saucepan with the vanilla seeds and pod. Remove from the heat before it boils and allow to cool a little. Whisk the eggs and sugar together until thick and pale, or as Julia says “until it forms the ribbon”. Remove the pod and slowly whisk in the warm milk. Pour the custard into a saucepan and place over a low heat, stirring constantly. Once thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, set aside to cool completely and then chill in the fridge. Beat the cream until it’s soft enough to dollop, but not stiff. When the custard is chilled, fold in the cream. The trick is to get a perfect ratio of custard to cream, largely a matter of personal taste though I have given you roughly 50/50. Spoon the mixture into your ramekins and chill until ready to serve. The blow torching should be done well in advance so the caramel has time to harden. However, it becomes a little crowd pleaser to do it with friends. We made Angie and Steve do theirs when they arrived, more fun that way.

Punkim Scones

Of all the things I’ll miss one day when I look back, autumn is high on the list. And it’s not just the leaves. Harvest festival, harvest service, pumpkins sitting with stately repose in every window display. You’ll imagine my delight when a few pumpkins of the homegrown variety made their way into my grateful hands. One from Chris’ grandma (along with potatoes and pears from her garden), two from Ivonne’s parents (fresh walnuts as well) and the giant quarter of pumpkin I bid for at our harvest service auction. I’ve made buckets of soup. But there comes a time when a new pumpkin idea is necessary…

The last pumpkin scones I ate were made by Tony. Following the directions for “one cup of mashed pumpkin” he proceeded to whiz a cup of raw pumpkin in the food processor and add it to his scones. True story. Pumpkin scones enjoy a special place on Australia’s culinary map. They’re one of the foods eaten by Hush and Grandma Poss in the quest to make Hush visible again (prize if you know which city). But their biggest claim to fame is as the signature dish of Florence Bijelke-Peterson, that strange personality of Queensland politics in the 70s and 80s. If you’d like the original recipe, Lady Flo did actually publish a cookbook. I’m told her secret is to cook the pumpkin and leave it in the fridge overnight. If you don’t have a scone cutter on hand, a wine glass works 🙂

And the winner is

Before we declare the summer well and truly passed, the search for Leipzig’s best ice cream begs to be resolved. And friends, we have a hands-down winner. A couple of months back I discovered the organic, locally made ice cream available at Gourmetage in the Mädler Passage. The Mädler is Leipzig’s Rodeo Drive. Within lies the 450 year old Auerbach’s Keller, which features in Goethe’s Faust. No seventy cent cones here.

A meticulously groomed girl in a black and white uniform emerges from the champagne bar to serve us our ice creams. Her scoops are generous and impeccably round. She offers to let me sample some of the flavours. We both try the Basillikum. “Tastes like basil” she says, and we both burst out laughing. I must choose between Guava and Coconut, Mango and Ginger, Lime and Mint, Strawberry and Lavender, Pineapple and Parsley, to name but a few. In the end I can’t go passed plain old Schokolade. Only it isn’t plain, it’s out of this world. Now this is more like it.

Apricot Fro Yo

Long before Jamie Oliver set out to expose the hideous truths of British school dinners, Camden Public School had a “healthy canteen” policy. Bless you, Mrs Meek. No chips, no nuggets, no double-choc muffins to be had. Whenever Mum did slip us a few coins towards recess, rounds of bread topped with cheese or Vegemite, pieces of fruit and any number of coconut apricot balls were the order of the day. There was one special treat that our canteen permitted: frozen yoghurt. Oh the sheer bliss of that creamy, tangy little tub and that novelty-sized spoon. May I suggest you drop everything and try the following? It’s quite possibly one of the easiest and most delicious things I’ve ever made. Perfect if you’re trying to pretend it’s really summer, when it just isn’t.                           

Apricot Frozen Yoghurt

A tip: don’t reach for your Jalna, your Vaalia and definitely not your Ski. Use plain old unsweetened yoghurt.

2x 1kg tubs of plain yoghurt
1 cup sugar + 2 tbs
1 kg fresh apricots

Strain the yoghurt through a muslin cloth for several hours or overnight. Halve your apricots and poach them in simmering water with 2tbs of sugar. Three to five minutes should do it. Strain and leave them to cool completely. Whisk together the yoghurt, apricots and sugar, reserving some apricots to swirl in later. Refrigerate the mixture for at least an hour or two. Break out your ice cream maker, or do as I do and beat it every hour for three hours as it freezes. I love checking its progress and watching the creaminess increase with each successive beating. Stir in your reserved apricots after the final whiz and leave it to get nice and firm. Unbelievable, really.

Ice cream on Koch

There are some disconcerting paradoxes in a city like Leipzig, walled in for forty years under a communist dictatorship. Make a visit to the Stasi Museum, as I did last week, and you’ll come out blinking in the sunlight and wondering at the horrors committed and experienced here. Toddle south to Alfred-Kästner-Strasse and you’ll find the place where executions were carried out for the entire GDR from 196o onwards. Turn the corner and you’ll arrive at the Eiscafe on Koch Strasse.

You’ll find a little trove awash with nostalgia, frozen in time (so to speak). Wallpaper, signage, furniture and ice cream equipment all preserved as they were for forty years. I walked past this place for weeks in the snow, wondering how a forlorn little Eiscafe with no sign of life could possibly survive or turn a profit. Head over there on a warm July afternoon and be prepared to queue for your Eis. Flavours are certainly limited, but everything is made on the premises. My verdict: a little on the sweet side. But going by the stream of customers, it would seem I’m outnumbered. At 70c a pop (or cone), no one is missing out.

One a penny, two a penny

Hot cross buns are ubiquitous in Australia. From early February till Easter Monday (Tuesday if you count those reduced for quick sale), these little beauties fill every empty tummy in the hungry hours of mid-morning and afternoon. While Germany has its Osterbrots in various incarnations, none of them come close to the crusty top and sticky glaze perfection of a Hot Cross Bun. And here’s my revelation: you don’t need a local Woolies, or even a breadmaker to enjoy them. I’ve been making them semi-regularly for the past few weeks using a recipe by you know who. Sure there’s a bit of kneading involved, but the rewards are great. The combination of yeasty, milky-soft bread, musky spices, bitter peel and sweet fruit is very near perfect.

About Me

A girl with a camera, a toddler and a sewing machine. Making sense of Germany... and life in general.

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