It’s been far too long since I created something with the best (and yes, extremely unhealthy) ingredient: Nutella. My not so secret love affair. There are quite a few palm oil free “substitutes” around, but let’s be honest, none are as good as the original. When it comes to sweets, Italians know what they are doing.
With a trip to Italy in close vicinity, inspired by my Nutella recipe book, I thought I would attempt a twist on an Italian classic – Panna cotta. Funnily enough, I have never made Panna cotta before. One could tell. I knew it would be tricky. The consistency was more like pudding. Oops…… Nevertheless, it still passed as Nutella infused heaven and was an acceptable dessert for a girls’ games night. Regarding the games, it sadly didn’t give me a winning hand.
Based on ecological reasons, my flatmate has recently decided to turn vegetarian. My, was she a bacon lover.
Nonetheless, I fully support and understand her choice. Despite being born omnivores, the impact and consequences of today’s meat and fish consumption are horrendous. Not only is the amount of water used to produce one pound of meat (ca. 1600 litres, no joke) disgusting, the amount of ongoing soy bean cultivation to create enough meal for livestock is equally shocking. Since the 90’s, soy bean production has doubled globally, with about 85% of the produce being used for oil and meal. On average, for the 87kg meat and 250 eggs each European eats per annum, 400m2 of land are needed per person to keep up with the demand. Unimaginable. The rapid expansion has led to invasion of natural habitats, (including woodlands, rainforests, savannahs in South America), damaging water reserves, soil quality, ultimately threatening wildlife and biodiversity.
Something has to change. Something has to change fast. Reducing your meat and dairy intake would be a great first step – it is mine.
That being said, I went through my recipe index and was shocked by the small percentage of vegetarian dishes cited. So, to improve that statistic, I got to work and am proud to present you with a simple mid-week vegetarian gratin. Not dairy free, but delicious. Meat is definitely not missed here. Also, keeping in tune with the ecological theme, it is avocado free.
Asparagus Mushroom Gratin
I thought working in the ER would give me more time to advance on my culinary skills. Ha. I wish. (For once in my life) I was wrong. Shift work is tiring. The random free time you have, you actually need to recover from the inhumane hours. So, sorry for that!
But, to return with a scrumptios bang, I present to you a recipe for BBQ ribs ala moi (inspired by Jamie Oliver). On my recent trip to the big apple, one must-have american dish I didn’t indulge in is ribs. Ok, hate to break it, I also didn’t have cheesecake….. Whaaaaat was going on in my head?? How could I miss out? Honestly, I don’t know what happened. Well, instead of waiting for my next trip, I decided to recreate possibly the best ribs I have ever had – if you are in NYC or there soon don’t miss out on Georgia’s Eastside BBQ! Next time I think I have to double the sauce.
(Oven) BBQ Baby Back Ribs
(There is no way to make delicious, bbq-sauce drenched, ribs look beautiful)
Happy May Day! I hope most of you are luckier than me and actually have the day off. If not, I feel for you. But hey, what better way to celebrate International Workers’ Day than by working? Exactly. Great Monday motivation right there.
For those of you who do get to spend the day lounging in your pyjamas – how about being a tad productive and making a fresh loaf of bread for brunch/lunch? Homemade bread beats any store-bought equivalent and is so easy. So easy. You just have to make sure your yeast is fresh (do NOT use dry yeast) and not past it’s sell by date, then I guarantee nothing can go wrong. But be warned: once you have mastered the art of bread making it’s hard to stop due to deliciousness. One of my friends made 4 loaves in one week. No joke. Trust me, you’ll understand as soon as you succeed yourself. So get out of bed and get baking! Your guests will be oh so pleased.
inspired by the one and only Ace
I’m currently half way through my second week of exciting emergency room escapades after having officially switched sides. Yes, I no longer belong to team red (i.e. surgery), I am blue through and through. Now, is that a good or a bad thing? Not too sure yet. One thing I do know is that team red has a higher number of patients with, let’s call it, “more entertaining” medical histories. A few examples to brighten your Easter weekend:
One guy came in because, as an act of pleasure, he had forced dried beans up his urethra. Creative. He didn’t quite think this through and sadly didn’t manage to get them all back out. Lucky for him a urologist did.
Another patient (whom I have complete sympathy with and have definitely been close to the same dilemma a few times in my life) superglued his thumb and middle finger together. Ouch!
The best for last: someone presented with blood in the stool after having had a wild night. During the evening this person apparently had a drunken epiphany – “glass vases must be great for pleasurable moments”. That’s right – the poor glass vase ended the night in said person’s rectum. What’s more, it didn’t see the light of day until 24 hours later, when it was reborn in an operating theatre.
That being said, the blue side of the emergency room has been lot’s of fun so far, I have learnt and seen a great number of things. The next few months will be exciting. Also, the anti-social shifts finally give me more time to get creative in the kitchen. Yay! In celebration of the rhubarb season I attempted a light compote, which can easily accompany a brunch or can be served as dessert with some ice cream. Mhhhmmmmm.
Strawberry Rhubarb Compote
adapted from Wildeisen
Happy Saturday and happy spring! Spring has finally arrived – and my what an impression has it decided to make this year. Apparently, this side of the world, March 2017 is the warmest since I don’t know how many years. Great for summer lovers, not so good for our glaciers and passionate hibernators. What does this mean for culinary nerds? Time for fresh and light treats. Also, time to bring dusty kitchen gadgets back to life.
My newest gadget? A sous-vide cooker. Best. Christmas. Present. Ever. (No offence to all others – your gifts were great too..). Now, what does that mean? To cook under vacuum. That’s right – you vacuum pack/seal everything before cooking it in a water bath, allowing your whatever to be completely evenly cooked at a constant low-ish temperature. Super exciting. Amazing results. Totally worth the effort. And you can even control it via bluetooth/wi-fi. I don’t think I have managed to serve such tender duck before in my life.
Anyways, back to spring. And time for a dessert. Spring desserts = berries & lemon. Ok, that’s a lie, all desserts must include some sort of citrus if you ask me, not matter what the season. Now, to incorporate my sous vide into the equation I came up with:
lemon + berries + fresh + sous vide = sous vide lemon cheesecake topped with berries
Obviously. Ok, not quite. It was the first water-bath dessert that came to mind. Nevertheless, fitting and worth a try. It turned out surprisingly well, although, the consistency could be improved. If you happen to have such a gadget at home – go ahead and try it. If not, it’s high time to invest your money into something useful ;-).
Sous Vide Lemon Cheesecake
Any american football fans around? Rumor has it that if you live stateside, Sunday night football is holy. Apparently there is even a theme song welcoming viewers back. Part of the tradition also includes ordering take-out (usually pizza) – the best part in my opinion. Personally, not being such a fan of the sport, one can easily reach a compromise with moi regarding what TV channel will run if the words take out and seamless are mentioned. (Un)lucky for me – my better half is currently based in Trumpland, so I actually have to hang out in New York occasionally. First thing I ever ordered on seamless? Sesame Broccoli Chicken – sticky take away heaven.
Now, sadly, my home town doesn’t offer such a tasty range of unhealthy goodness delivered straight to your doorstep. My solution? Try to recreate. What occasion? Sunday night Academy Awards. Instead of drowning in ones sorrows about celebrities and their perfect bodies, one can drown in some sticky home-made chinese dish. Doesn’t sound too bad? Also, sooooo much better than football. So if you’re still arguing about what’s for dinner – head to the shops and have a go! I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
Sesame Broccoli Chicken