Wednesday, September 25, 2013

On Vacation in Austria - "Arrive and Revive"

Dear all,
I'm off to Vienna for vacation and will be back with a new post on Wednesday the 2nd of October with more culinary and travel adventures.
In the meantime, take care - see you soon :)


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sweet Vienna

Sweet Vienna

We just arrived in Vienna after a nearly 18 hour trip from Lima.
Now I'm still a bit Jetlaged but happy to be in my home town again and with lots of plans to see family and friends and to visit concerts, operas, museums... there is such a huge variety of cultural events going on that it's not hard to find something you are interested in but it's hard to choose which one to take.

A baroque fountain at the town center

One of the most characteristic culinary highlights of Vienna is the sweet side of the city.

And the star among the countless fancy cakes,tarts,cookies and Palatschinken (a kind of crepe filled with a series of jams,sweet fresh cheese or creamy chocolate) is without any doubt the Apfelstrudel.
It's baked in nearly every Pastry shop of the city with passion and dedication and every place has its own secret recipe.

In Vienna they say that the dough of the Apple Strudel should be stretched so finely that a love letter may be read through it.
The oldest hand written Strudel recipe dates from 1696 and can be seen at the Viennese City Library.
The dough is not so difficult to prepare but takes a lot of patience and most people nowadays  buy it at the Supermarket and only prepare the filling and bake the Strudel at home.
The best is to use Strudel sheets but Filo sheets will do as well.
This traditional recipe is an adaption from a recipe published by the Austrian Tourist Office.

In case you want to prepare the Strudel and dough yourself, here is what you need:

For the Strudel:
1/4kg (2 cups) very fine flour
1  tablespoon salt
1-2 tabelspoon oil
about 1/8 (1/2 cup) luke-. warm water
Some melted butter to brush the dough
For the filling:
3/4 cups of bread crumbs
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2-2kg (31/2 -4 1/2 lbs.) chopped baking apples (Granny Smith or Gala)
4 teaspoons freshly pressed lemon juice
3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
1/4 cup yellow raisins (optional)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
 melted butter for brushing the dough
 powdered sugar for decoration

For the dough:
Mix together flour,salt,oil and enough luke-warm water to make a soft dough.
Knead very well until it becomes silky and smooth but not sticky.
In case you need to add flour, only add a little bit at a time.
Form the dough into a loaf, cover and let rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
For the filling:
Brown the bread crumbs in butter until golden brown, stirring constantly.Let cool.
Peel ,core and finely slice the apples. sprinkle with lemon juice and season with sugar, cinnamon an cloves.
Roll out the dough to about 9 inches to 13 inches on a table covered with a floured cloth.
Place out your hands under the dough and , using your thumbs and the back of your hands gently begin pulling and stretching the dough until wafer-thin (remember the love letter !!)
Trim away thick edges.
Brush the dough with melted butter and spread the bread crumbs over it.
Spread the apple mixture evenly over the dough, eventually adding the raisins and walnuts.
Using the cloth to help lift the dough,rool up the strudel as you would roll up a jelly roll.
Place seam side down on a buttered baking tray, brush generously  with melted butter and bake at 180C (350F) until golden brown.
Let cool down, cut into 1 1/2 inch wide slices with a bread knife  and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
According to our choice the strudel may be served with whipped cream, vanilla cream or vanilla ice cream ( the last option tastes best when served when the strudel is still warm)

See you by the beginning of October, when back from my vacation :)
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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Creole Cuisine Delight From Peru : Chicken in Spicy Nut Sauce

When making my "prívate oppinion  pull" about the favorites of Peruvian Creole Cuisine this dish made it  always on  the top ten list: Ajii de Gallina which doesn't have an exact translation but is best described as Chicken in Spicy Nut Sauce.
Present in every celebration and family meeting this classic has conquered the palates of even the most sceptic foodies.
The preparation of the recipe takes a bit of time and patience ( remember it was created in colonial times when every well to do family had a lot of helping hands in the kitchen) but it' s for sure worth while the effort and you will be well rewarded by its wonderful flavor.
You need:

3 complete chicken breasts (the original recipe calls for 1 hen or chicken but I prefer chicken breasts as they are lighter and not so messy to prepare)
2 celery stalks
1 carrot
3 medium cloves garlic, crushed
3/4 cup of chopped onion
1/2 packet of sliced toast bread
1-2 cups chicken stock
4 tablespoon ground fresh yellow chili (aji amarillo)
1 1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup of roughly chopped walnuts
1/4 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
8 black olives for decoration
3 hard boiled eggs for decoration
3 spoonful chopped parsley for decoration
1 kg yellow (or other) boiled potatoes (optional)
Salt and pepper

In a large pan bring chicken breasts ,celery,carrot and a 1 tablespoon of salt to a boil and cook until tender.

Let cool down, then remove and shred the chicken into medium bite size pieces.

In a large pan heat oil , sauté onion until soft and translucent.

Add garlic stir well and finally add the ground yellow chili.

Mix well until all ingredients have blend in well.
Place the bread slices in a large glass recipient, pour the milk over the bread wait until bread has nearly soaked the liquid.

Mix in blender to obtain a creamy consistency.

Add the bread mixture to the onion- chili mixture,

add gradually 1 cup of chicken stock and cook for about 5 minutes (stirring constantly) or until obtaining a creamy consistency.

If necessary stir in some more chicken stock. Add a tablespoon of oil, stirring the mixture constantly.
Finally add the shred chicken, mix well

then add  shredded Parmesan and chopped walnuts.

Let simmer for some minutes stirring gently (be careful not to smash the chicken) until all ingredients have blend in well.
Extra tip: This creole dish is delicious but I'm not crazy about the color, so I often add some Palillo a yellow spice that is similar to Curcuma and adds a wonderful color touch. As I prepared the classic version, no Palillo or Curcuma has been added when taking the pictures.

Pour over the sliced potatoes  (optional). I prefer this dish without potatoes but the classic recipe calls for it.

Decorate with hard boiled eggs divided into four, and black olives. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Serve with rice.
Enjoy!  Serves 6-8 P.
See you next week.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sweet Tropical Temptation: Passion Fruit Cheesecake

When it comes to cheesecake their are two fan clubs in our family:
The "purists" led by my husband and the "real fruit topping" fans. So I often do half of the cake with topping and the other half without. Declaredly my kitchen resembles a bit the free market- it all depends on supply and demand :)
The Passion fruit topping cheesecake even convinced the purists because the delicate flavor of the fruit combines very well with the creamy cheesecake filling and is not overwhelming. As for the presentation the Passion fruit gives a wonderful brightness to the pale color of the cheesecake.
A crumbly oatmeal cookie crust adds crunchiness to the silky texture of the filling.
When I'm in Austria, I prepare the local version of  this dessert, "Topfentorte" which is prepared with Topfen or Quark as it is called in Germany. It's lighter and has a very subtle flavor.
As we are planning to spent the next months until after Christmas in Vienna, I will post the Austrian version of this cheesecake soon.
Now I'm off, there are still so many things to do until traveling, time is short and my to do list seems to grow mysteriously every day.

For the cheesecake you need:

3 1/2 P. soft cream cheese ( best at room temperature)
1/2 cup Greek joghurt
1cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 spoonful freshly pressed lime juice
1 spoonful lemon zest
3 cups coarsely crushed oatmeal cookies ( about 250g )
1/2 cup melted , unsalted butter

Pulse cookies in the food processor or put them in a plastic food bag and crush with a rolling pin to chunky crumbs.

Mix with the warm, melted butter.

Press mixture into bottom of the springform, until evenly covered.

Chill until set (about 1/2 hour).

Method for the cheesecake filling:
Whisk the cream cheese and Greek jogurt with a
hand mixer until soft and creamy.

Add sugar, lime juice and lime zest, mix well.

Add the eggs, mixing well until all ingredients
have blended in well.

Pour over the Cookie mixture

Smooth the surface and bake in preheated oven at 220 C about 45 minutes or until just set in the center. (When a wooden tooth pick stays clean.)
Turn the oven off. Leave the cheesecake in the oven with the door slightly open until completely cooled down to prevent cracking.
Uups, I forgot about this part, so my cheesecake cracked a bit :(

For the Passion fruit topping you need:
11/2 cup fresh passion fruit pulp ( or frozen Passion fruit pulp)
4 spoonful water
1 tablespoon cornflour
1/2 cup of granulated sugar           

Put the Passion fruit pulp in a medium sauce pan, add sugar (the amount of sugar may vary depending if you use fresh fruit or frozen pulp)

Add sugar and mix well.

Combine cornflour and water in a small bowl. Add to the Passion fruit mixture.

Cook over medium heat, stirring 2-3 minutes or until mixture boils and thickens.

Let cool down.
Pour over cheesecake and place in fridge until set.

See you next week.
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