Walnut Liqueur…

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… deep in colour, rich flavour, with nuances of nut and coffee.. … and made from green walnuts, picked at around the time of the Feast of St. John at midsummer in June. Green walnuts, sliced and quartered, steeped in alcohol … Continue reading

Mulling syrup…

… it will mull your cider and spice up your apple juice… and it will give you a quality homemade glühwein if you combine it with a bottle of good red wine… … and prettily packaged it will be a festive gift.

My recipe below makes about 800 ml but I usually make at least double the quantity as it is so useful to have on hand come the festive season.

Happy mulling…!

Spices for Mulling syrup with copyright Mulling syrup with copyright

Mulling syrup

Prep. Time: about 10 minutes plus infusing overnight

Cooking time: about 15 minutes altogether

Makes about 800 ml

Sugar                              250 g

Oranges, sliced                 2

Fresh ginger, sliced          4 cm piece

Whole cloves                    6

Whole allspice                  6

Cinnamon sticks                2

Nutmeg, freshly grated      to taste

1) Place all the ingredients in a saucepan together with 1 litre of water and heat slowly, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved.

2) Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat, cover, and leave to infuse overnight.

3) The next day, strain through a very fine sieve or jelly bag, discarding the flavourings.

4) Reheat the syrup to just below boiling point, pour into prepared, sterilised (still hot) bottles and seal immediately. Stored in a cool, dark place the mulling syrup will keep indefinitely. (I have used left over mulling syrup to glaze Hot Cross Buns at Easter… two years later… 🙂 )

The Feast of St Martin

or St Martin’s Day, or Martinmas, or “Martinstag” where I am here in Germany, is celebrated on 11.11.

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Based on the legend of Martin of Tours, a Roman legionary serving in Amiens in the 4th century who, happening upon a sparsely clad beggar in the depths of winter, cut his cloak in two with his sword and gave one half of it to the beggar.

The many threads making up the fabric of the legend of St Martin include:

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The goose:

having turned his back on the military and founding the first monastery in what was then Gaul, Martin was later called upon to become the Bishop of Tours. Considering himself unworthy of this office, however, he hid in a goose pen – but the cackling geese betrayed his presence – he became the Bishop of Tours and the geese became dinner in return for their betrayal. Hence the tradition of serving a roast goose on the Feast of St Martin…

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The “Martinswecken”:

the recipes and shapes are legion but the tradition is that of sharing – the breaking of bread and sharing it with the person next to you in the spirit of Martin of Tours…

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The lantern:

in Germany, as the dark half of the year sets in, processions of lantern-carrying children commemorate the legend of Martin of Tours.

Käsekuchen: Cheesecake … with preserved cherries …

09_06_2012 Basket full of cherries with copyright  Preserved cherries with copyright Cheesecake with copyrightPickings are processed and preserved, days are decreasing in daylight, so what now here in the edible landscape?

Make and bake with all that mellow fruitfulness, that’s what!

To start: a real Franconian classic: cheesecake, or Kaesekuchen…

Kaesekuchen has been sweetening Saturday and Sunday afternoons in Franconia for nearly 300 years, ever since multiple 16th century recipes for a sweetened cheese cake appeared in cookbook published in Nuremburg in 1733…

This recipe comes from “Gscheitgut (Volume 2)”, published in 2014 – a great culinary read combining regional background, restaurant guide and make-them-yourself recipes, by kind permission of the publisher, Michael Müller Verlag GmbH (details below).

Prep. Time: about 20 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves 12 (1 x 28 cm tin)

Flour                               250 g

Eggs                              6

Sugar                             325 g

Cherry schnapps               2 cl (optional)

Butter                             125 g

Low fat quark or

cream cheese                   1 kg (replace 200 g quark with mascarpone if you want it even creamier)

Vanilla sugar                     3 tsp

Cornflour                         50 g

Baking powder                  ½ tsp

Butter and flour for

greasing

Salt

Optional: your choice of

preserved fruit                  150 g

  1. For the base, place the flour in a bowl and rub in the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre. Separate 2 of the eggs and set the egg whites aside. Place the egg yolks, 125 g of sugar, cherry schnapps and a pinch of salt in the well and work in to the flour mixture to form a smooth dough. Shape into a ball, cover and chill for 1 hour.
  2. Grease the tin with butter and dust with flour. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to form a circle about 38 cm in diameter. Use to line the base of the tin, pushing the edges up to a height of about 5 cm.
  3. Heat the oven to 180 °C. For the filling, separate the remaining eggs. Beat all 6 egg whites until stiff and then chill. Combine the quark or cream cheese, the egg yolks, the rest of the sugar and the vanilla sugar in a bowl and mix together well. Fold in the cornflour and the baking powder, and then the egg whites. *
  4. Spread over the pastry base and smooth the surface. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 45 minutes, covering with a piece of foil after 20 minutes to prevent it becoming too brown.
  5. Use a skewer to test whether the cheesecake is cooked through (the skewer needs to come out clean). When cooked through remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before taking it out and leaving it to cool completely on a cake rack. Served dusted with icing sugar if you prefer.

* This is where I fold in 150 g of preserved cherries (be it the Cherries in Syrup, the Cherry Preserve with Brandy, or the Cherries in Red Wine…) or 150 g of preserved wild plums or 150 g of preserved mirabelle plums… You can also add the zest of 2 untreated lemons with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to give the cheesecake a lemony note…

I also make mini versions of this cheesecake in muffin tins – perfect for picnics…

Mini Cheesecake with Copyright

The term “Gscheitgut” is Franconian and roughly translates as “downright good”. For those lacking that handy smattering of German, there is me – the Culinary Scribe – who happily translates this fine Franconian fare into English for you!

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© Copyright German original: Michael Müller Verlag GmbH and the Café-Brennerei Geist-Reich in Weingarts: http://www.michael-mueller-verlag.de/de/reiseportal/gscheitgut/reportage__kunreuth__cafe-brennerei_geist-reich.html

http://www.gscheitgut.de

Flammkuchen… or Tarte flambée in French…

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… originating from the Franco-Germanic region of Alsace, recipes for Flammkuchen are now legion and it has moved on from its (albeit very tasty) cheese, onion, bacon roots…

It is Germany’s answer to pizza and – to my mind – a more sophisticated option.

This is my basic version with plenty of room for innovation – recipes are there to be tweaked after all!

Prep. Time: about 20 minutes – plus rising time

Cooking time: 20 to 30 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

For the yeast dough base

Strong white bread flour                                                 500 g

Fresh yeast                                                                    15 g

Salt                                                                                11/2 tsp

Sugar                                                                             11/2 tsp

Oil (rapeseed oil or olive oil)                                           2 tbsp

  1. Place the flour in a bowl together with the crumbled yeast, rubbing it in until well mixed.
  2. Add the salt and sugar and make a hollow in the middle of the flour.
  3. Measure out 300 ml of lukewarm water (100 ml boiling water with 200 ml cold water) and pour into the flour. Add the oil.
  4. Work quickly into a soft, sticky dough using your hands.
  5. Tip out onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth.
  6. Cover and leave to rise until doubled in size.
  7. Roll out to the size of a baking sheet. Line the baking sheet with baking paper, place the dough on top and leave to rise again while you prepare the topping.

For the topping

Cream cheese                                                                  200 g

Sour cream                                                                      200 g

Egg                                                                                  1

Salt and pepper                                                                to taste

Lardons (or chopped bacon/ham)                                    200 g

Grated cheese (e.g. Emmental or cheddar)                    100 g

Garlic clove, crushed                                                        1

Vegetable ingredients of your choice                                approx. 250 g

pre-cooked – or not – according to taste

e.g.    onion (sliced) and garlic (crushed)

pumpkin and carrots (both in strips)

chard or spinach (shredded)

tomatoes (sliced)…

My addition:

Chutney of your choice – spread (quantity to taste) over the dough base before adding the cream mixture

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 °C.
  2. Combine the cream cheese, sour cream, egg, grated cheese and crushed garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Spread the cream mixture over the prepared dough base and layer your chosen vegetable ingredients on top. Sprinkle with the lardons.
  4. Bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes until nicely browned on top. Serve warm.

Quinces… red wine, cinnamon, ginger, honey…

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One of the loveliest recipes I have ever translated: quince confectionery, or quince fruit leather if you will… From a delightful little book I translated into English a couple of years back, here courtesy of www.arsvivendi.com

Quince Confectionery

Makes about 80 pieces

2 kg ripe quinces

Approx. 1l good red wine

600 g honey

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

Baking paper for the baking sheet

2 tbsp oil for the baking sheet

Fresh bay leaves or sugar crystals for serving

Rub the quinces well with a cloth. Remove any stems and cut the fruit into quarters. Place the quarters in a saucepan and cover with red wine. Bring to the boil and leave to simmer over a medium heat for about 50 minutes until the quinces are very soft. Pour into a sieve and leave to drain.

Press the quince flesh through a sieve and weigh out 1kg. Combine with the honey and bring to the boil. Simmer over a low heat, stirring all the time, until the mixture has become thick and transparent. Stir in the cinnamon and ginger.

Line a baking sheet with baking paper and brush with oil. Spread the quince paste over the paper at a thickness of 1-11/5 cm. Leave the quince paste to dry for about two days. As soon as the surface is dry to the touch, turn it over and leave to dry for a further two days.

Cut the dried quince paste into little diamond shapes or cubes. To serve, line a serving dish with bay leaves and arrange the quince confectionary on top. Alternatively, sprinkle the pieces with sugar crystals and serve in a bowl.

Taken from Dürer’s Little Cookbook Yesterday’s recipes for today’s food lovers

Compiled by Petra Teetz, translated by Katherine Taylor and published by ars vivendi verlag GmbH & Co. KG, Cadolzburg, Germany

© 2009 German version © 2012 English version

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Waterwheels

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 Getting ready for the 1st of May
 P1130239 (2)On the outskirts of Germany’s Franconian Switzerland region, the largest cohesive area of sweet cherry orchards in the European Union, is the village of Möhrendorf (“Carrot Village” if you will) on the Regnitz River: home to one of the last working waterwheel irrigation systems in Central Europe.
Initially built in around 1300 based on a principle thought to have been imported (by returning Crusaders) from Egypt and Mesopotamia, the maintenance of the ten Möhrendorf waterwheels is now the work of the Möhrendorf Waterwheel Association whose charming website – complete with English version – is well worth a browse:

 http://www.schoepfraeder.de/english/index.htm

Each comprising some 600 individual wooden parts and held together with wooden nails and wedges, one wheel produces the equivalent of 40 tankers in one day, from May to September, when they are then dismantled and put away for the winter – every year.