Autumn is Apples


This gallery contains 10 photos.

The Autumn Equinox is upon us and we have our main apple harvest behind us:    One and a half tonnes of apples yielded 850 litres of apple juice, and that’s not all:

September Season


Mustard Apple Pickle from Mantua:

22_07_2012 Nürnberger Apfelkuchen

Nuremburg Apple Cake:


Pontack, Ye Olde Englishe Elderberry Sauce:

P1140293 (2)

Ginger Pears Swedish Style:


Apple Rings:

Meadowsweet Gingerade


Known as meadwort in the 14th century,

meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)

has been used since Chaucer’s day for flavouring wine and beer…

and it makes a fine gingerade in this day and age too.

In my recipe for Meadowsweet Syrup,

just replace the lemons with as much fresh ginger as your taste dicates to make a really refreshing gingerade awash with meadowsweet’s honey, hay and almond aromas

(approx. 2 cm of root ginger, finely chopped, will give you a gentle gingerade, add more fresh ginger if you want more of a gingery kick).

Meadowsweet Syrup

Cherry season is upon us!


This gallery contains 6 photos.

Summer in Europe does not get better than this!                 So here are a few reasons to get picking: Country Tart  Cherry Liqueur  Cherries in Red Wine Black Forest Gateau Cheesecake with Preserved Cherries Crème Fraiche … Continue reading

Wild Strawberries (Fragaria vesca)


These little nuggets of flavour and colour (also known as the woodland strawberry, or Walderdbeere here in Germany, the Alpine strawberry, the European strawberry of fraise des bois to use the French name) are the strawberries indigenous to Europe – the rest are derived from 18th century imports from the Americas.

P1160104 (3)

Seldom if ever available commercially now, they used to be a welcome sight at the markets of old but between me, Hermann the German, Mini-Kraut and the many meadow creatures at home in our orchard I am never left with more than about a handful of wild strawberries – still enough to make these quick and easy cream cheese tartlets though:


I make the pastry shells out of

Almond Pastry

225g plain flour

pinch of salt

110 g butter

140 g ground almonds, blanched

45 g sugar

beaten egg

  1. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

2. Add the ground almonds.Stir in the sugar and add enough beaten egg (probably one whole egg) to just bind the mixture together. Knead lightly. Chill before use.

I then roll it out, stamp into circles and drape these over the inverted hollows of an upside down muffin tin to bake at 200°C for about 10 minutes.

These quantities make about 18 pastry cases.

The cream cheese filling comprises

500 g cream cheese

250 g icing sugar (or to taste)

few drops of vanilla essence (to taste)

beaten together.

Once they have cooled completely, fill the almond pastry cases with about two teaspoons of cream cheese filling each, dot them with your harvest of wild strawberries, dust with icing sugar… and put the kettle on!

I personally don’t like my strawberries baked – only fresh will do for me, but if you do go in for baked strawberries and happen to have access to about half a kilo of wild strawberries then this is for you, taken from a delightful little cookbook translated by yours truly a couple of years ago (details below):

Wild Strawberry Tart


Makes 12 pieces

For the pastry:

100 g chilled butter

200 g flour + extra for the work surface

50 g sugar

1 egg

Butter for greasing

For the filling:

Approx. 500 g wild strawberries of small strawberries

3-4 tbsp sugar

4 cl light dessert wine (e.g. Malvasier, Vin Santo, Madeira)

To make the pastry, cut the butter into pieces and quickly combine with the flour, sugar and egg yolk to form a smooth dough. Press the dough ball flat, wrap in cling wrap and leave to rest in a cool place for 30 minutes.

Grease a pie dish (28 cm ø). Roll the pastry out thinly on a floured work surface and then line the pie dish. Prick the base with a fork and again leave to rest in a cool place for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180 °C (fan oven 160 °C). Back the pastry in the centre of the oven for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, carefully wash and hull the strawberries and then pat dry. Remove the pastry base from the oven and layer the strawberries close together over the base. Sprinkle with sugar and bake in the centre of the hot oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, drizzle with the dessert wine and bake again for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before removing from the pie dish. Serve either warm or cold, ideally with freshly whipped cream.

Agnes’ tip: strawberry season at last! At the market this morning there was a farmer’s wife with a basket of freshly picked wild strawberries on offer. I snapped them up at once of course and I am going to use them right away to bake this lovely tart. Washing the little berries does mean rather a lot of work but the result is simply heavenly. We are not yet familiar with large strawberries, unfortunately. These plants were only to come to Europe from Chile at the beginning of the 18th century. I actually prefer the small wild strawberries with their tempting flavour anyway. By the way, the little red berries are said to be a symbol of desire. I’ll mention that to Albrecht, perhaps he will then paint a few…

Taken from:

Dürer’s Little Cookbook
Yesterday’s recipes for today’s food lovers
Compiled by Petra Teetz, Translated by Katherine Taylor, Published by ars vivendi verlag
Original edition © 2009 English edition © 2013

Considered the greatest painter of the Northern Renaissance, Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) came from Nuremburg where the Albrecht-Dürer-Haus remains as a museum and memorial to the man and his times.

This little cookbook takes a look behind the scenes in the Dürer household with seasonal recipes of the kind that would have been known to Albrecht Dürer’s wife Agnes, adapted for easy cooking in the modern kitchen, a number of them having since become set features of Franconian culinary tradition: Schäufele (Roast Pork Shoulder), Krumme Krapfen (Crooked Fritters) and Storks’ Nests… Accompanied by interesting details about life at that time: what foodstuffs where available to the Nuremburg housewife in around 1500, what were the different meals served during the course of the year, and what were table manners like?

P1100281 (3)

Rose petal syrup

 P1120912 (2)

The dog roses –

or hedge roses (Heckenrosen) as they are called in German –

are out and so it is time to make rose petal syrup.


This is essentially a rose petal infusion turned into a sugar syrup, with a wonderful rose aroma.

P1120892 (3)

And it is really easy:

You need an equal quantity of sugar to water i.e. 500 ml of water, 500 g of sugar and between 50 and 100 g of rose petals – plucked from a sustainable, pollutant-free source.

Infuse your petals in the boiling water for at least 3 hours, strain and place the infused water in a saucepan. Add the sugar, dissolve over a medium heat, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved, leave to cool, bottle and enjoy!

Handy gathering tip: if, like me, you come across a plethora of petals to pluck when out and about, then set off prepared with a thermos flask of boiling water on board. Fill your flask not quite full so as to leave space for the petals.

Pick all your petals, gathering them in a cloth bag or basket, for example, until you have enough and then push them all into the flask of hot water. Screw the lid back on and leave them to infuse while you continue with your hiking or biking. Strain when you get home and use the strained liquid to make your syrup. You will need to leave them to infuse for at least 3 hours, but mine were in the flask for 6 hours before I got home to make the syrup with perfect results.

Be sure to pick just the petals, leaving the rest of the flower behind – that way those that have already been pollinated will still go on to form rose hips…

And what to do with this wonderful rose syrup: summer-up a glass of sparkling wine, drizzle over ice cream, yoghurt, waffles, pancakes and cakes… use in desserts and toppings – the list is a long one!

P1160254 (3)P1160264 (3)

Elderflower-Infused Honey


Elderflower season is upon us!

And THE quickest and easiest way to capture the elderflower’s delicate floral fragrance is to use the blossoms


to make a floral version of herb-infused honey:

P1120807 (2)

1) You need to pick the flowers on a dry day, either in the morning or in the evening, not in the heat of the day, and only pick flower heads with the blossoms fully open. You need to use the blossoms immediately (within 3 to 4 hours of picking) otherwise they tend to develop a less fragrant aroma. Pick over the flowers to remove any beetles, bugs and brown bits. Also remove any leaves and cut off as much off the stalks as you can.

2) Prepare a sterilised jar (I fill the jar with boiling water direct from the kettle and leave it to stand for at least 5 minutes before using) large enough to accommodate the blossoms and the honey.

3) Place your prepared blossoms in your sterilised jar, pour in the honey right up to the top, seal and leave to infuse at room temperature for anything up to 4 weeks if you want a more intense elderflower honey. The honey will have taken on an elderflower nuance within a day or two though, so it’s up to you how long you can wait!

4) At the end of the infusing, strain the honey into a clean jar for storage and/or immediate use …and turn the honeyed blossoms into Elderflower Pancakes:

P1120818 (2)

More Meadow Magic

Northern hemisphere meadow magic in May:P1160148                            This is ribwort plantain in flower: not only a healing herb, its blossoms are

truly fairy-like and meadow-magical, don’t you think?.


If you catch the buds before they go into flower, though,


they make an interesting addition to a salad or an omlettte.


Sautéed lightly in a little olive oil and/or butter, the buds add a nutty-mushroomy flavour dimension to light spring-time meals.

P1120545 (2)

Meadow magic in a jar

Meadow in May
The merry month of May
and the meadows are alive with the sight of magic…
Infusing meadow herbs in honey is one of the best ways of harnessing their powers.
Really easy and so much more appealing than anything you can get from the pharmacy!

Ribwort plantain in May

Ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata): a member of the Plantago family, one with a long tradition as “first aid plants”, ribwort plantain has a proven track record in treating catarrh, coughs, bronchitis and asthma. Now is the time to “harvest” it, while the leaves are fresh and green and before it goes into full blossom.

Yarrow in May

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium): with an established reputation for the treatment of digestive ailments, yarrow is also said to intensify the effect of the other herbs it is used with

25_05_2011 Elderflower_copyright

Elderflower (Sambucus niagra): is a diaphoretic, meaning it has the capacity to induce increased perspiration i.e. it helps you to sweat it out, whatever it is that ails you, not least fever and colds…

Snip or tear your freshly-picked herbs (ribwort plantain leaves, yarrow fronds and elderflower blossom) into a sterilised jar (I fill the jar with boiling water direct from the kettle and leave it to stand for at least 5 minutes before using).

Pour in the honey (ideally local and not pasteurised) – enough to completely cover the herbs and more – seal and leave to stand at room temperature for four weeks, turning the jar occasionally.

At the end of the four weeks, strain the honey into a clean jar, discarding the herbs, and use as required, either in herbal teas or direct from the jar, to combat coughs and colds.

Preserved lemons and Garlic Mustard Pesto

Remember those Preserved Lemons from back in February?

P1150640 (2)

Well, its May and that means its time to get them out of the cellar – the lemons are now well and truly preserved in their lemony brine and one of the things I love using them for at this time of the year is

Garlic Mustard Pesto

(alternative nut-free version here)

P1150982 (2)

Preparation time: about 10 minutes

Cooking time: none

Serves: 4

Garlic mustard (also known as

Jack by the Hedge,

or alternatively use wild garlic)      50g of leaves (and blossoms if in flower)

Lemon (organic)                           1 (or 1 to 2 teaspoons of preserved lemon brine, according to taste)

Whole almonds, toasted               50g

Olive oil                                         150ml                                        

Honey (or sugar)                           approx. 1 tsp

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Remove the garlic mustard leaves from the stalks, rinse and place in a liquidizer together with the toasted almonds.

2. Halve the lemon and squeeze out the juice.

3. Add the olive oil to the garlic mustard leaves and whizz together in the liquidizer.

4. Season with lemon juice (or brine), honey (or sugar), salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, whizzing thoroughly to produce a pesto-like consistency.

Garlic Mustard PestoPreserved Lemons are also great in Garlic and Tomato Butter

06_05_2013 Garlic Mustard Butter