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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Pasta e Fagioli Soup - An Olive Garden copycat


I have to admit I am a bit ambiguous about those American chain restaurants. Especially while living there, I tried to avoid them at the beginning... Later on, I discovered that I really do like some of them. They are not quite as low as the fast food chains but also not quite as fancy as the high end restaurants. They serve comfort food and sometimes really good food :)

One of those chain restaurants I like is Olive Garden. They are famous for their option of unlimited soup and salad. I have tried all the soups and the pasta e fagioli is by far my favorite. The salad is pretty good too though ;)

Pasta e fagioli means pasta and bean soup. I am using three kinds of beans, the red kidney beans and then also small and big white beans (navy and great nothern beans).

This is my spin on the Olive Garden version and I made a few changes. I used ground beef and not Italian sausage, and I added a little bit of zuchhini and bell pepper.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup uncooked ditalini pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 300g ground beef 
  • 3 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 onion (ca. 1.5 cups) - diced
  • 2 carrots (ca. 1 cup) - diced
  • 2 stalks celery (ca. 1 cup) - diced
  • 1/2 zucchini (ca. 1/2 cup) - diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper (ca. 1/2 cup) - diced
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 0.5 l vegetable broth
  • 1-2 cups water
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried majoram
  • 1/2 tsp savory
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 can red kidney beans - drained and rinsed
  • 1 can navy beans - drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 can Great Nothern beans - drained and rinsed

Serve with:

  • fresh parsley
  • fresh grated parmesan
  • crusty bread
  • red wine

Preparation:

Prepare the pasta

In a large pot, bring water with some salt to a boil and add the uncooked ditalini pasta. Cook a little less than package instructions, keep them really al dente, as they will still cook a bit in the soup. Drain and set aside.

Prepare the soup

Heat the oil in a large pot, add the ground beef and cook till browned, for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and vegetables (onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, bell pepper). Cook and stir occasionally for another 5 minutes till vegetables are a bit tender, but not too soft. 
Fill up with tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, vegetable broth and water. Stir. Season with the dried herbs and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer uncovered for about 10-15 minutes till vegetables are soft.
Note: If you do not have each of the dried herbs, you can substitute with 4-5 tsp dried Italien herb mix. 

Finish the soup

Add the cooked pasta and the drained beans. Stir and heat up for about 2 minutes. Adjust the seasioning and the thickness of the soup. If you like it a bit thinner, add some more water. If it is not thick enough, add some sauce thickener (e.g., flour and water or tomato paste).
Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve with fresh parmesan and along crusty bread and a glass of red wine.






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My Mom's "Kohlsoße" (cabbage sauce with sausages over mashed potatoes)




This is one of my Mom's dishes that I didn't really appreciate as a child, but started to really enjoy later on. It's a good hearty but also light dish.

I prefer the dryed sausages ("Bauernbratwurst") that are quite hard. My Mom prefers the soft Cabanossi sausage. It does not matter which one you use, just add the harder sausages at the beginning and the soft sausages rather to the end. You can also use both, as we did here :)

Another highlight here is My Mom's mashed potatoes - always super smooth and creamy.

Ingredients:

Cabbage Sauce:

  • 150g margarine
  • 1-1.5 cups flour
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 nappa cabbage ("Chinakohl")
  • 2 l water (or half water/ half vegetable broth)
  • 2 dryed sausages ("Bauernbratwurst")
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • vegeta to taste
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1 cabanossi sausage - sliced
  • 3-4 Tbsp dark sauce thickener ("Mondamin Soßenbinder", cornstarch possible)

Mashed Potatoes:

  • 6 medium large potatoes
  • 2 liter water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1-2 Tbsp butter (or margarine) 
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup milk (warm)
  • possibly more salt

Preparation

Prepare the Base ("Mehlschwitze")

Let the margarine melt on low heat, add the flour, stir occasionally. Let it simmer till it thickens and you see bubbles. This process is called "schwitzen" (sweating) in German. Then add the minced garlic. Now, keep stirring and let the roux cook till it turns lightly brown. Don't burn the garlic or the sauce as it can turn bitter.

Let the Cabbage cook

When the roux is ready, add the sliced cabbage and fill up with water. Instead of water, you can also use vegetable broth or a mix of water and broth, but then add less vegeta and salt later on. Add the "Bauernbratwürste". These are hard smoked saussages that I especially like and will add some flavor. Alternatively, the Cabanossi sausage that we will add later would also be enough. Season with some salt and pepper and a bit of careway seeds. Let the cabbage simmer for 20-30 minutes till it's soft.

Mashed Potatoes

Prepare a normal mashed potatoes, but make the mash not too soft as you will pure the cabbage sauce on top of it. Salt is only adding to the salt water, but if you still need more salt at your mashed potatoes, add it to the warm milk or at the end and stir with a spoon.

Peel the potatoes and boil them in salted water for about 20 minutes till they are soft. Drain. First, mash the potatoes with a hand masher. Then, when the potatoes are already pretty smooth, use an electric mixer and keep mixing further. Now, add the butter and mix. Add bit by bit the warm milk and keep mixing. Stop adding milk, when the mash is smooth and has the consitency you prefer.

Finishing/ Seasoning

When the cabbage is soft, add some vegeta and cayenne pepper to the sauce, to taste. Thicken the sauce a bit with a dark sauce thickener (e.g., Mondamin) or similar (e.g. flour and water works fine as well). Let it simmer for a few minutes. It takes a bit to thicken. Season to taste with salt and pepper, add the sliced Cabanossi and bring to a quick boil and it's done. The Cabanossi is a sausage that was already cooked, so it only needs to be heated up.

Serve the cabbage sauce over the mashed potatoes.








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      Rhubarb-Raspberry Crumble


      During my time in the US, my friend Jamie prepared this delicious rhubarb raspberry crumble for one of our weekend get togethers. I am usually not a big fan of those crumbles as the fruit is too overpowering for me. However, she converted me because she used a very crispy crumble topping and lots of it.

      While I do not really have her recipe, I used the memory as an inspiration :)


      Note - Topping: I like very crispy and crunchy toppings. So I added the oats and nuts. Also, I put the crumble in the freezer for about 15 minutes.

      Note - Filling: Do not use cornstarch! Some suggest this would prevent the filling to be too watery. I tried it, it just adds a slimey taste that sticks to your tooth. Instead, use flour.

      Ingredients:

      Topping

      • 1 cup (ca. 140g) flour
      • 3/4 cup (ca. 110g) brown sugar
      • 2 Tbsp sugar
      • 1 tspn salt
      • 6 Tbsp (ca. 90g) butter
      • 3/4 cup (ca. 60g) oats
      • 1/4 cup walnuts (chopped)
      • 2 Tbsp almonds slices

      Filling

      • 400g rhubarb (about 2-3 stalks, peeled if necessary, sliced)
      • 150g raspberries
      • 2 cups water with 1 tsp sugar
      • 3 Tbsp sugar
      • 1 tsp vanille sugar
      • 2 Tbsp lemon juice (fresh)
      • 2 Tbsp orange juice (fresh)
      • 2 Tbsp flour

       

      Preparation:

      Start with preparing the Topping

      Mix the flour, brown sugar, sugar and salt. Dice the butter into little cubes and add to the flour-sugar mixture. Knead everthing with your fingertips by squeezing the butter cubes. Add the oats, roughly chopped walnuts and almonds. Mix, till you have a crumbly dough with little chunks in it.

      Now, put it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. This helps to keep the crumble crsip.

      Prepare the Filling

      Preheat the oven at 200 degree Celsius (Ober- und Unterhitze).

      If the rhubarb stalks are too stringy, peel them. Then, put the rhubarb lices in a bowl, cover them with water and 1 teaspoon sugar. Let sit for about 10 minutes, then drain. This is supposed to reduce the bitterness of the rhubarb.

      Now, gerase the baking dish. Add the rhubarb slices and raspberries. Sprinkle with the sugar, vanille sugar, lemon and orange juice. This will balance the tartiness of the raspberries and rhubarb. Add 2 tablespoons of flours and combine everything. The flour shall help with thickening the fruit juices when it bakes.

      Bake the Crumble

      Sprinkle the chilled crumble on the fruit mixture. I like a lot of crumble, so I used almost everything. Don't worry if the baking dish gets a little full. During baking, the fruit will get soft and sink. You can easily freeze leftover toppings for another time.

      Bake the crumble for about 35-40 minutes till the top is golden brown and crispy. Take it out and let cool for about 10 minutes. Then, serve warm with some ice-cream.









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          My Mom's "Grüner Bohnen Salat" (green bean salad)


          This is a very quick and simple green bean salad. As always, my Mom pours the vinegar and oils directly over the salad and mixes everthing well instead of preparing a separate vinaigrette.

          Special ingredient here is my Mom's favorite oil - the pumpkin seed oil, with its slightly nutty flavor. It gives it a darker, more intense taste.

          Best to use either the whole length beans (e.g., princess beans) or the completely shredded ones (french style or "Schnittbohnen"). I do not really fancy the cut beans ("Brechbohnen").

          My Mom serves this green bean salad as a side dish to her farmer's breakfast ("My Mom's Bauernfrühstück") which is despite its name a wholeheartedly lunch.

          Ingredients:

          • big can (800g/ 24oz) of green beans (geschnitten/french style or long) - keep the liquid
          • 1 small onion - diced
          • 1 tbsp apple cider
          • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
          • 1 tbsp olive oil
          • 1 tbsp pumpkin seed oil
          • 1 tbsp salt (more to taste)
          • 1 tbsp pepper (more to taste)

          Preparation:

          1. Drain the beans but keep the liquid. Add the beans and the cut onion to the bowl.
          2. Pour the vinegar and oils over the beans. Also, pour 2-3 tablespoons of the canned bean liquid over it.
          3. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well. Adjust seasoning. Let stand for about 30 minutes to allow to infuse.

          Serve with my Mom's "Bauernfrühstück" (Farmer's Breakfast)






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