Oriental Three Bean Casserole

 

This is a recipe that my Mom and I spontaneously made when my brother brought home lots of fresh green long and broad flat beans. It was inspired by a Turkish green bean stew. However, as my Mom and I do love casseroles a lot, we decided to turn the bean stew into a casserole with a layer of potatoes on the bottom and on top.

For our version of the Turkish bean stew, we used ground beef, three kinds of beans and lots of oriental flavors. These included our standards such as sambal olek, harissa and biber salcasi. And I also added a special Turkish seasoning, sumac, that I just recently acquired.

Sumac is a turkish seasoning and has a slightly fruity and tangy flavor, it adds a tart, lemony taste. Is used in the Middle Eastern cuisine

Ingredients:

  • 4 potatoes 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 rosemary twig
  • 1 cup long green beans (fresh)
  • 1 cup broad green beans (fresh)
  • 1 tomatoe - sliced
  • 1/2 zucchini (sliced)
  • 1/2 eggplant (sliced) 
  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 250g ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 cup diced zucchini
  • 1/4 cup diced eggplant
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • big white beans (canned, drained)
  • 1 Tbsp sambal olek
  • 1 tsp biber salcasi
  • 1 tsp harissa
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 1 tsp paprika seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chopped rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp freshly chopped thyme/parsley/lovage (Liebstöckel) - optional
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 150g cheese (shredded)

 

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 200 degree Celsius (390 degree Fahrenheit), fan with top heat.

Prepare potatoes, green beans and veggie slices:

Boil potatoes till almost soft with skin on. Drain. Peel. Cut in slices. Greas a small casserole dish. Lay out half of the sliced potatoes on the botton (set the other half of the potatoes aside for the top of the casserole). Sprinkle with salt and rosmary twigs. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, till potatoes turn slightly crispy.

In the meantime, if you use fresh long green beans and broad green beans, get them cleaned (chop of the ends) and boil them in water for about 10 minutes. Make sure they are not too soft! Drain, cut the long green beans in half and cut the broad green beans in 2 inch pieces. Set aside.

Slice the tomato, eggplant and zucchini. Sprinkle salt over the eggplant and zucchini slices and let them sit for 10 minutes. They will release water. Dry the water of before further use.

Prepare the bean / ground beef mix with oriental flavors:

Heat olive oil in frying pan. Add diced onions and fry for about 3 minutes till they turn slightly translucent. Add the ground beef and the gralic. Stir and brown (fry) the beef for another 5 minutes. Add the diced zucchini and eggplant, fry for another couple of minutes. Now, add the canned tomatoes, the white beans, the precooked long and broad green beans, and the seasoning (sambal olek, biber paste, harissa, sumak, paprika, cumin, chopped rosemary and other fresh herbs, salt and pepper to taste. Stir everything well and let simmer for 5-10 minutes and medium heat. Make sure not to overcook the beans and veggies.

Prepare the casserole: 

Pour the bean/ ground beef mix over the layered potatoe slices in the casserole. Add a layer of tomato slices and a layer of eggplant/ zucchini slices (alternating between eggplant and zucchini). Last, layer the casserole with the remaining potatoe slices. Sprinkle cheese on top. Add a few margarine flakes. Bake for about 30 minutes till cheese is melted and browned.







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Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Lemon, Thyme and Bread Crumbs

 


Brussle sprouts - an acquired taste... I have to admit I discovered them late in life as well but now I just love them. Maybe the taste buds do indeed change with age? I never liked them as a child and I was always impressed that my brother ate them. We were both kind of picky eaters as children...

Brussel sprouts can be a bit bitter which you can balance out while cooking.

This year, I saw this very pretty picture of an easy oven roasted brussle sprout dish from Hapa Homecooking. I love roasted veggies and these just looked so pretty, I just had to try to recreate the dish :) I made a few minor adjustments, mainly giving it a bit more heat.


Ingredients:

  • 1.5 pounds brussels sprouts (fresh, not frozen)
  • 1.5 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt (including onion and garlic as an ingredient)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup plain yoghurt
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt and pepper, each
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt (less, if the butter was salted)
  • 1 tsp thyme (freshly chopped)
  • Serve with a sprinkle of sea salt and a wedge of lemon

Preparation:

Roast the brussels sprouts:

Preheat oven to 200 degree Celsius / 390 degree Fahrenheit (top/bottom heat). Trim and half the brussels sprouts. In a bowl, toss the brussels sprouts with olice oil and the spices (salt, seasoned salt, garlic, pepper, red pepper flakes) till they are coated evenly. Line a baking dish with parchment paper and spread the brussles sprout out. Thop with the fresh thyme sprigs. Roast for about 30-45 minutes till the brussle sprouts are soft and slightly browned and crispy.

Prepare the yoghurt-lemon dip:

Mix the yoghurt with the lemon juice. Add salt/pepper to taste. Cool in the fridge till serving time.

Prepare the bread crumps:

Melt the butter in a frying pan. Add the bread crumbs, salt and chopped thyme. Stir on medium heat till bread crumbs are golden brown. Take of the heat.

Serve:

Place and spread out a spoon of the yoghurt sauce on your plate. Top with the roasted brussle sprouts. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of bread crumb mix over it. Add a sprinkle of coarse sea salt and a wedge of lemon.








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Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows

 

An original Thanksgiving side dish - the Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmellows. The first time I heard about it and tried it, was during my college times in my dorm kitchen. Even though in Germany, my friends and I liked to celebrate and cook for Thanksgiving - or better Friendsgiving ;) 

My friend M. had this recipe and I actually had never heard of this. I found it a funny recipe, putting brown sugar in a savory dish and topped with sweet melting marshmallows... And indeed, it does taste sweet like a dessert, but strangely, it also goes very well with the traditional Thanksgiving turkey meat and gravy. 

And, in my opinion, this dish just looks adorable :)

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 big sweet potatoes (1.5-2 pounds)
  • 1 l salted water to boil
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 100 g mini marshmallows (3.5 oz)

 

Preparation: 

Boil the sweet potatoes: 

Preheat the oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit/ 170 degree Celsius. Peal the sweet potatoes, cut into cubes. Cover with salted water and boil till soft, about 10 minutes. Drain.

Prepare the sweet potato mix: 

Mash the potatoes with a potato masher (not the electric one, you do want to have it a little bit rustic, with pieces). Add the brown sugar, butter, salt, orange juice and cinnamon. Mix well with a spoon. Adjust salt and orange juice to taste.

Bake: 

Butter a 8x8 inch casserole dish. Spread the mashed sweet potato mix into the casserole evenly. Sprinkle with the marshmallows. Bake in the oven for about 30-45 min till marshmallows are a little melted and crispy golden brown on top.







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The Pink Café (Berlin, Germany)

Brunch at The Pink Café was a great experience. Nice chic and girly atmosphere and delicious and creative food options. The place is rather small and intimate with some outdoor seating. The entire walls are decorated with roses. Of course, the color pink and gold dominated everything. Pink walls, golden pillows, cute pink plates, pink napkins, and golden cuttlery :)

Their food and drinks were so nicely decorated, including fancy edible flowers, mini pastel colored marshmallows, and cute arrangements with caramel sauce, etc. Their fancy goat cheese/ fig bread with walnuts and honey also tasted delicious

Drink Highlights

They have a lot of great drink options with some amazing specials among them. They offer different coffee drinks, tea selection, hot chocolates, and fresh pressed juices. Also, they have some iced drinks. Here, they have some fancy ice-teas and among them a rainbow ice-T. 

However, most famous and instagrammable are probably their famous colorful lattes:

No coffee lattes, only warm milk drinks with some special ingredients - pink (red beet), purple (blueberry), golden (curcuma), amethyst (collagen), green (matcha) latte. Really cute and adorable, with some edible flowers decorated on top.

Famous Pancakes

Another highlight were their pancakes. Never had such creative versions. They served only one pancake per serving, however, this one was huge and fluffy with awesome decorations and toppings. 

The more creative ones were decorated with caramel sauce, cotton candy and - of course - some sparkling sugar :)

 

What we ordered

  • Purple Latte - Warm milk drink with beet roots, blueberries, spirulina
  • The Black Beauty - Hot milk chocolate with cream and mini marshmallows
  • The Luxury Lover - Scrambled eggs & truffles
  • The Couple Goats - Rustic bread with goat cream cheese, figs, walnuts, fresh rosemary & honey
  • The Granny Smith - Pancake with apples, pecans, cinnamon, greek yoghurt & salty caramel
  • The Out of Space - Pancake with bananas, nuts, crispy berries, sour cream, caramal & cotton candy cloud


Photo courtesy of my work colleague M.M. :) Thank you!







Pasta Salad - German style



During my college time, my friend M. always prepared this pasta salad for our BBQs. From the first time I tried it, I really got addicted to it. As I am not a big meat eater, this pasta salad made me look forward to our BBQs :)

I (of course) spiced up the recipe a little and made it way more complicated than it needs to be ;) What shall I say, I like to add ingredients.

Note: Instead of the corn and peas, you can also use a normal sized can of "Mexikanische Gemüseplatte" (mexican veggieplate), which consist of a mix of corn, peas, and red bell pepper.

Ingredients:

  • 250g pasta (fussili/ rotini style)
  • 200g "Fleischwurst" - diced (I once substituted it with diced Wiener Sausages or bologna)
  • 1 small onion - finely diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper - diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper - diced
  • 4 pickles - diced
  • 1 extra-small can corn (ca. 150-200g, 1 cup)
  • 1 extra-small can peas (ca. 150-200g, 1 cup)
  • 1 extra-small can mushrooms (ca. 150-200g, 1 cup)
  • 1 cup (200g) "Schmand" (or sour cream)
  • 1 cup (200g) "Creme Fraiche" (or also sour cream)
  • 1 Tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 2-3 Tbsp pickle water
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tspn italian herbs
  • 1/2 tspn dill
  • salt, pepper, cayenne pepper to taste

Preparation

Cook the pasta in salt water according to package instructions. I do like the pasta rather soft, not just al dente, so I usually cook it a minute longer. Drain. Add to a big bowl.

Add the diced "Fleischwurst", onion, bell pepper and pickles to the bowl. Add a cup of each, corn, peas, and mushrooms. Mix everything well.

In another bowl, prepare the dressing. Add the Schmand and Creme Fraiche, tomatoe ketchup, the pickle water, vinegar, oil, the herbs and seasoning. Whisk everything together till it is smooth. Pour everything over the salad and mix well.

Best to serve immediately. Good addition to any BBQ :)

If you cool the pasta salad in the fridge, you may need to add a bit of water before serving and stir it again as the dressing might dry out a bit.








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Brunch at "A Never Ever Ending Love Story" (Charlottenburg, Berlin)


The Location

A Never Ever Ending Love Story is a small corner café in a very nice area of Berlin. It is located at the famous "Kantstraße" in the Berlin district of Charlottenburg. After brunch I recommend a short walk to the nearby Kurfürstendamm, the Zoo and the Gedächtniskirche. 

The café has a cute indoor space but also some outdoor seating for the summer.

The Food

The place has a small menu with all the essentials, including different egg dishes, avocado breads, cereals and yoghurt bowls, french toast and pancakes. They also have a nice assortment of coffee, tea, fresh juices, and smoothies. 

I noticed this place by their instagrammable pancakes. They arrange sliced bananas and strawberries in a flower spiral which looks really cute.

However, I ordered a simple avocado bread with scrambled eggs which were flavorful and had a good consistency. To my surprise, the dish came with a side of really nicely dressed and seasoned cherry tomatoes.

Summer Specials

The café also also had two summer specials that we tried:
  • Scrambled eggs with truffles 
  • French toast with a mascarpone cream, berry compote, and fresh berries
My friend had actually been here before and absolutely loved both summer specials, so as she heard that I wanted to check this place out, she spontaneously decided to join me :) 

She really enjoyed the Eggs with Truffles. They were fluffy and light, with lots of truffle slices on top. Apparantly, truffle flavor was also mixed into the eggs.

I ordered the French Toast and have to admit that the mascarpone cream with the berry compote was heavenly, just delightful, not too sweet and not too heavy. One of the best French Toast I ever had.







(photo credit first and last picture: M.M.)

My Mom's "Linsensuppe Süß-Sauer " (Lentilsoup, sweet-sour)


This is another of my Mom's dishes that I did not eat as a child. I just never fancied the German "Linsen & Spätzle". However, this is not your usual version. There are no "Spätzle" and it is a soup. And also, it is sweet-sour. As an adult, I just tried it one more time when my mother cooked it and suddenly, I really enjoyed the sweet-sour taste and could not stop eating it :)

Note: Best to use a mix of soft and hard lentils. The smaller ones (e.g., Berglinsen) will dissolve almost completely, while the bigger ones (e.g., Tellerlinsen) stay harder and will add some bite to the soup.

Ingredients:

  • 150-200g brown lentils (e.g., Berg-, Tellerlinsen)
  • water and salt
  • 4-5 medium sized potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1.5 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons margarine
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3-4 wiener sausages (or "Fleischwurst", similar to bologna)

Preparation:

Start the soup

In a big pot, cover lentils completely with water. Add salt. Bring to a boil and let cook for about 30 minutes with the lid half closed. Peel and cut potatoes in small cubes and add to the lentils. Let cook for another 25 minutes till potatos are soft. Now, add vinegar and sugar, bring to a boil.

Prepare the roux

Melt margarine in a frying pan at low heat, add the flour. It needs to be more on the liquid side. Keep stirring occasionally and let simmer. The roux needs to bubble up ("sweating"), thicken and turn a light milk chocolate brown.

Finish the soup

Add the roux to the soup, bit by bit. Keep stiring and bring it to a low boil. The soup will thicken up. Season to taste with more salt, vinegar and sugar. At the end, add the wiener sausages. They only need to be heated up for a couple of minutes. Serve.








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