quick ketchup




As a child, my mother taught me to religiously read the list of ingredients on all packaged foods. I grew up in a no junk-food/soda pop/hydrogenated oil house. This might be responsible for both my weak spot for potato chips (home-made or organic, ideally) and my fear of ingredients that I cannot pronounce and labels such as "natural" flavours.

I first started cooking because I love to eat. I then became interested in nutrition and recently I have become fascinated by foods that I assumed that I had to buy because they could not easily be made at home. A friend once told me of her plan to make bagels with her family over the holidays. I thought that she was attempting the impossible. Bagels? Made at home? When there are so many good Montreal style bagels in the city? After overcoming my disbelief, she inspired me to make my own bagels at home. Although the first attempt was not so aesthetically pleasing, my bagels tasted like bagels and, even better, like Montreal bagels. They were so much better than the typical bun-with-a-hole found in German supermarkets. Even a small kitchen in Berlin could smell like Fairmount Bagels (minus the wood burning oven, of course).

As pleasing to the eye the classic Heinz ketchup bottle may be, it is much more satisfying (and surprisingly quick) to make ketchup at home. If you have a bucket full of fresh tomatoes, boil them down to make tomato paste. If not, organic tomato paste does the trick perfectly. What you add in terms of seasoning will depend on how well stocked your spice rack is. Even just a few yield a delicious made-at-home ketchup taste. I have left out measurements as I think making ketchup is all about adding, stirring, and tasting.


Quick Ketchup

Ingredients

a jar of organic tomato paste, or home-made if you please
honey
brown sugar
apple cider vinegar
sea salt
cinnamon
black pepper
cloves
cayenne pepper
mustard seeds
all spice
garlic powder
paprika
fresh lemon juice
water, if needed for the right consistency

Pour tomato paste into a saucepan, add all of the spices and stir well. Bring to a simmer and stir regularly. Add desired amounts of brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, honey, the juice of a lemon and salt. Adjust seasoning to your preferred taste. Continue to simmer until the sugar is dissolved. If too thick, add a bit of water. If too thin, allow to simmer longer. The flavour will improve upon standing. Ketchup can be stored in the fridge for up to three weeks.

Guten!


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postcards from munich II


I am not sure if it is because of all of the stationary shops or the traditional Bavarian hats, but I am starting to find Munich more and more charming.

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simplicity and risotto


I often find that the easiest recipes are the tastiest. I do love a culinary challenge - especially ones that involve massive numbers of egg whites and an industrial apron - but most of the time I am a minimalist when it comes to food. I like short lists of ingredients and fresher-than-fresh produce. I like optional ingredients. I like blenders. I also like stirring. I like to focus on flavour combinations more so than flavour concoctions. One sentence recipes are brilliant. (Dissolve sugar in boiling water, let cool slightly and then pour in a blender with melted chocolate, silken tofu and cinnamon for vegan chocolate pudding. Or, blend a can of coconut milk, one mango, one banana, a tbsp of vodka and a tbsp of honey in a blender and then freeze for sorbet.) One sentence is all it takes to make something delicious.

This is why it took years before I made risotto. For some reason, risotto has a reputation of being a high-maintenance dish and high-maintenance often translates as difficult. I was warned that matching the quantity of rice to the liquid is tricky. I was warned that arborio rice is selfish, that it just takes and takes and takes some more. Then one day I made it. I wish that I had known earlier how simple risotto is. As long as you aren't afraid of stirring, risotto is the perfect dish to make for a crowd, or to use to clean up your pantry with.

Risotto consists of four main ingredients: arborio rice, broth, white wine and
pamigiano-reggiano. The nicer these ingredients, the tastier the risotto. Besides these four, feel free to add the contents of your kitchen fridge, or your favourite fresh vegetables.



Vegetable Risotto with Pine Nuts

serves 2


Ingredients

olive oil
butter
1 onion
some fresh vegetables (such as carrot, zucchini and red pepper), chopped
fresh chili pepper, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 cup arborio rice
4 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup grated
pamigiano-reggiano
roasted pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste
fresh herbs for garnish

Heat olive oil and butter in a pan. Add garlic and hot chili. Add carrot, zucchini and red pepper. Once vegetables are cooked, set aside. In a large pot heat broth. In another large pot, heat olive oil. Add onion and cook until soft. Add rice and stir constantly until transparent. Add white wine. Once wine is absorbed, add one ladle of the stock. Stir. And stir. Once absorbed, add another. Repeat until stock is finished and rice is cooked. Add vegetables and stir well. Add
grated pamigiano-reggiano and salt and pepper to taste. The stock is often salty, so be sure to taste first. Serve garnished with roasted pine nuts and fresh herbs.

Guten!

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fragments of kitchens I





Oh, the places I have cooked!

New cities mean new kitchens and I have had a few of both. These are a few fragments of the places where I have cooked and, more importantly, the places I have eaten. My two Berlin kitchens were especially charming (a border of a Tuscan landscape, a vase shaped like a test-tube, and birds made from fabric), but I try not to play favourites with kitchens.


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more ginger please




Ginger must be magical. From carrot soups to lemonade and from rice to baked apples, ginger tastes good with everything. Plus, it helps me fight off the flu. Yes, it must be magical indeed.

I don't make muffins often. It might have something to do with the tiny muffin pan I have in Sweden, or that I am afraid of foods that pretend to be breakfast, but taste more like cake. However, when I was in Munich in January I was reunited with my muffin tin, a real muffin tin with room for twelve muffins. After having feasted in Israel's restaurants and then in the kitchens of family in Saarland, I was homesick for cooking and baking. When I found myself back in Munich, and back with my muffin tin, I knew that baking muffins had to be. Plus, it was a chance to consume more ginger in more ways, something that I am always game for.


Pear and Ginger Muffins

inspired by the NY Times

1 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 cups unrefined sugar
a tiny pinch of salt
2tbsp. brown sugar
2-3 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced, or 1 tsp. ground ginger
2/3 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1/2 cup butter, vegetable oil, or coconut oil
1 tbsp. honey
2 large eggs
2 pears, peeled and finely diced
zest of one organic lemon, optional

Preheat oven to 400F/200C. Grease or line a muffin pan. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. In another bowl, mix together sour cream/yogurt, melted butter/coconut oil or vegetable oil, honey and eggs. Once mixed, add fresh ginger and lemon zest. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold gently until just mixed. Add pears and fold again. Divide batter amongst muffin cups. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, or until risen and firm. Transfer to a rack to cool. Serve, ideally, while still warm.

Makes 12 large muffins


Guten!


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postcards from museum on the seam


Museum on the Seam, Jerusalem, is a contemporary art museum that focuses on sociopolitical issues. Their current exhibition - "The Right to Protest" - explores protest as a civil obligation and how this obligation is visually represented. It was exciting to stumble upon a museum that exclusively presents art in a political context and that explores politics through art.

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long breakfasts






Winter encourages me to have long breakfasts. The snow looks at me from outside of my window and says, "Aren't I pretty? Aren't I even prettier when you are warm, drinking coffee, and looking out the window." As much as I enjoy the crunching sound that snow makes under my feet and long days of skiing, I equally enjoy long, warm breakfasts inside in the middle of winter.

I grew up with pancakes on weekends in winter. During warm months I would beg my mom for smoothies and fruit, but come winter I only had pancakes on my mind. To go with the pancakes, my mom would often throw some butter, apples, cinnamon and raisins in a pan to make a warm topping. I have adopted this idea and over the years it has changed. A current favourite uses dried cranberries instead of raisins, maple syrup and a splash of rum. However, such a topping is not necessary when you have real maple syrup, or some whipping cream and fresh berries.

Everyone should have the perfect pancake recipe. Pancake enthusiasts should have said recipe memorized (make it twice and it will stick to your brain). When extra hungry or serving more than two, double the recipe (which I often do even just for two).


Cinnamon Walnut Pancakes

3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tbsp. unrefined sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
a pinch of sea salt
a bit more than 1/2 cup buttermilk
(or add 1/2 tbsp lemon juice to 1/2 cup milk and let sit five minutes)
1 organic egg
1 tbsp. melted butter, or coconut oil
a handful of walnuts
1/2 - 1 tsp. cinnamon

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, sea salt and cinnamon. In another bowl combine egg, buttermilk and butter or coconut oil and then pour into flour mixture. Stir until smooth, then add a handful of chopped walnuts (bananas are excellent mixed with the walnuts as well). Heat a pan over medium-high heat and add a splash of oil or butter. Scoop the batter into the pan and cook until each side browns slightly. Serve with real maple syrup, or whipped cream and fresh berries, or apples sauteed with dried cranberries, maple syrup and cinnamon.

Guten!


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and then there was snow




The winter roads have been paved with ice. Snow hangs gently from branches and ice hangs violently from rooftops. Hello January. And hello new books to read, hearty recipes to try, and winter wonderland walks to take.

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oh! the food you'll eat!


In North America important life steps are often marked by 'Oh! The Places You'll Go' by Dr. Seuss. Graduations, in particular, are celebrated with this classic picture book and poem, surely enough inspiration to get one excited about packing for all the places they'll go and all journeys they'll take. I, however, am not only inspired by the places I'll go, but also by the food I'll eat.

As much as I make sense of life through making lists, I have never been one to transform a whole year into a list. A trip, perhaps, but never a year. But because of my obsession with lists, each year I look forward to newspaper and magazine lists featuring major books, events, films, and discoveries of the year past. Taking their cue, I'll end one year and begin another with a list of recent food joys in Israel.

A week is certainly not enough time to eat one's way through a country's food culture. However if a week is enough to satisfy my colour cravings then it was also enough time to give me new food cravings. Below are a few of them.


  • Israeli Wine
  • Sahlab - a creamy, hot drink (pictured) topped with pecans, cinnamon, pistachios, shredded coconut and such.
  • Eggplant - to eat always and often. Why don't I eat eggplant more? Thank you Tel Aviv for introducing me to baked eggplant topped with sliced almonds, tahini, roasted red peppers, sesame seeds and honey.
  • Wine Bars in Tel Aviv - Spicy calamari, grilled and served on tahini with roasted cherry tomatoes, good olive oil, fresh sage and salt and pepper. We also ate grilled shrimp tossed with good olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and parsley. And, avocado, fennel and orange salad on iceberg lettuce.
  • Good Olive Oil
  • Shakshuka - eggs poached in stewed tomatoes. Plus, feta cheese and eggplant? Yes, please.
  • Fresh Pomegrante Juice

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