Sunday, March 27, 2011


One of my favorite places in Europe is the area of France named Alsace Lorraine.  It sits right on the German border, and this darling section of Europe has changed leadership from French to German to French more times than should be allowed.  However, during this exchange, recipes also exchanged hands and Flammkuchen is one of those that survived to treat both the French and German citizens alike.  Being of German descent, I will admit that I feel this has more German than French exuding through the flavors.  I mean, bacon and onions.....doesn't that just scream German?

The above photo is just before entering the oven.  Even in this stage, I find it irresitible. 

It could be called a German pizza, and that makes me happy.  We were served this in a bed and breakfast we stayed at last year in Alsace. 

I baked bread a couple of days ago and saved half the dough in the refrigerator to make the crust for this kuchen.  It worked out perfectly.  Very crispy and crackly at the edges.  The smell...well, you can only imagine.

And, once again, a very favorite wine.  We served this last month with scallops and it was very fitting to go with the onions and bacon and crème frâiche.  It is a Spanish wine, chenin blanc-like, 2009.

My recipe comes from a combination of resources.  A blogger friend sent me to a German site and once again, Ann from Thibeault's Table  blogged about it also.  Here is my version which I like a lot.  I have tried recipes that actually add sugar and it turned me off.  Personally, I do not like to add sugar to any savory foods, even salad dressings.  It is just a taste "thing" with me.  After all these years, I am pretty persnickety about flavors.


Any bread dough that works to make a pizza-like crust, crispy and thin

For the toppings:

1 cup crème frâiche
1 onion sliced thinly
1 Tbsp. butter
1/4 pound bacon
Salt and pepper to taste
1 clove garlic

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Roll dough very thinly and place on baking sheet, pizza pan or stone.
Thinly slice onions and sauté in butter until clear...not caramelized.
Cook bacon until crisp.  Finely chop garlic and add with the salt and pepper to the cream.

Spread the crème frâiche over the rolled out dough and top with the bacon and onions. 

Bake for around 10-15 minutes, or until the dough has begun to create bubbles and you see nice browning. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tonight we ate so very German

Komme, alle Freunde!  Komme zum essen Tisch.  Heute Abend gibt es Bockwurst, Frätzele Kartoffel, Apfelsosse und Spinat.  Wir essen echt Deutsch!

Now, if you are all still with me, let me share my excitement.  Last week I ordered from my hometown meat market, German bockwurst.  It is not bratwurst, but similar.  It is only produced during Lent.  As a child, growing up in the Amana Colonies, this was a typical meal every Friday evening during Lent.  It has been much to long, many, many years since I have eaten Bockwurst. 

When we lived in Michigan as a young married couple, we would be able to obtain bockwurst from Milwaukee, a German meat market, Usinger's.  But, it was oh, so very different.  Usinger's uses veal as a base.  It was alright, but not my favorite. 

The Amana Meat Shop and Smokehouse makes their bockwurst from beef, pork, eggs, milk and chives.  I do believe it is the chives that makes this delectable sausage sing "Spring".  I do not have to express my satisfaction on the first slice of this sausage this evening.  You get the picture.

Of course, the Frätzle Kartoffel are also a must.  Traditionally, they are always served on Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter.  My childhood neighbor, Larry, always called them Grüne Frätz, which sort of translate "green funny face."  It is simply shredded potatoes and salt, but if the potatoes sit too long, the pink-colored starch starts seeping out and when fried, it does tend to have a green hue.  It is a wonderful way to get kids to eat their fried raw potatoes.

And then, applesauce is a traditional partner to the potatoes.  Not store-bought applesauce.  Oh no...don't do that!  Just cook up some nice cut up apples and perhaps, add a touch of sugar.   The creamed spinach added a nice touch of color.  I'm sorry you couldn't all join us.  Ausgezeichnet!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Such great bread!!

On my "to do" list for quite some time was Ann's bread recipe from her fantastic blog,
Thibeault's Table.  If you have not looked at Ann's blog, take a moment.  I have admired this woman for quite some time.  Her recipes sound delicious, are delicious and her photography is the very best!

I baked one loaf today and was very pleased with it.  The other half of the dough is in the refrigerator waiting for me to make Flammkuchen sometime this weekend. 

Ann, I don't know why I waited so long to try this.  Oh yes, I do.  I knew I would keep on eating it until it was gone because it tastes that great.  Thanks!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Magical Day

Who's the leader of the club that's made for you and Me?  M-I-C-K-E-Y  M-O-U-S-E!!!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

The flowering shrub, Brunfelsia, is commonly known by the name "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow."  It grows well in zones 9, 10 and 11.  Most commonly at about 3 feet tall, without pruning, it can get to 10 feet in height.

What makes this plant so lovely and unusual is that the color of the flower changes during the day.  It will open in a soft purple, change to pastel lilac and then finish near-white.  With all three colors on the plant at one time, it is outstandingly beautiful.  It is a favorite of mine, though I understand the plant is poisonous to animals. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

There be Irish among you

There is no Irish in me, but I've been blessed with two son-in-laws with lots of Irish in them.  One come from the Finnegan's and the other from the O'Neil's.  Happy St. Paddy's Day to you all.

May you have warm words on a cold evening,
A full moon on a dark night,
And the road downhill all the way to your door.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Cukes, shrimp, dipping sauce.....yummm

The Trout is a regular reader of Wine Spectator.  When he found this recipe, along with a video showing how to prepare it, he was very excited and started the grocery list.  This was a very nice first course.  I can see preparing this often.  In fact, the dipping sauce was so great, we have prepared that again as a substitute for the traditional chili sauce and horseradish sauce for shrimp cocktail.  A very nice change, though I really do love horseradish!!

Cucumber Rolls with Shrimp Ceviche and Spicy Oriental-style Dipping Sauce
Makes 10-12 rolls

2 Kirby or English cucumbers

For the shrimp ceviche:
1 scallion finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely grated
1/2 lb. shrimp, cooked, peeled and coarsely chopped
5 Tbsp. freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
3 Tbsp. lime juice
3 Tbsp. olive oil
4 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, finely minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Spicy Oriental Dipping Sauce
1 Tbsp. hot chili pepper sauce (Be very afraid)
1 1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. dark sesame oil
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. black sesame seeds
1 Tbsp. white toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup red, green and yellow bell pepper, very finely diced
1 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro

Prepare the cucumber by cutting off both ends and then cutting lengthwise into very thin slices.  Arrange on paper towels and sprinkle with salt and let sit 30 minutes.

Prepare the ceviche by assembling all the ingredients in a large bowl.  Season to taste and let marinade in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  In true ceviche, the fish, or shrimp in this case, would be added raw to the marinade and the citrus in the juice would "cook" the fish.  Even the author of this recipe believes that boiling the shrimp for at least 1-2 minutes is necessary. 

Prepare the dipping sauce and reserve.

Rinse the cucumbers and dry with a paper towel.  Make a roll and secure with a toothpick.  Add a few spoonfuls of the shrimp ceviche and continue until all the cucumbers slices have been rolled and filled.
Arrange on a serving platter and spoon the spicy dipping sauce over each roll and sprinkle the rest around the rolls.  Serve at once.

Friday, March 11, 2011

This should not be ordinary

A constant reminder that we are no longer in Iowa!!  No, this is not an alligator farm.  We see this large creature on almost a weekly basis as we deliver Meals on Wheels. 

Our usual route is to deliver Meals on Wheels on Tuesdays, and after our last delivery, we drive past this lake where at least one, if not two or three of these beauties are lying in the sun.   After all these years, I am still in awe of these ugly, dangerous creatures. 

Lucky for us, we are doing an extra Meals on Wheels run today.  Alfredo Alligator, "See you later!"

By the way, if you have a couple of hours free during the week, volunteer to deliver Meals on Wheels.  It is the most heart-warming experience.  You are greeted by the same people weekly and they are so appreciative of a hot meal, your smiling face and just a friendly hello. There is often a dog that greets you that also needs a little scratch behind the ears.   I usually check to make sure the house feels warm or cool, depending on the weather and ask them if they are doing okay for the day.  We may all be in that position one day.  It is just a very little way to give back to our elderly or infirm.  As for the hot meal today for you!!!

Saturday, March 5, 2011


I think the year was 1979, a long time ago, when my Italian sister-in-law gave me this wonderful Korean recipe for Bulgogi.  We have been making it ever since and every time we still love it as much as the time before.  Doing some research, I find that there are many ways to marinate the beef and different ways to cook it.  We have always done it the same way and see no reason to change.

We served the Bulgogi along side with brown rice and stir-fried pea pods picked up at the farmer's market that morning.  You can make this as hot as you like.  It is the oriental marinade that makes it taste so good.

from the Kitchen of Schnitzel and the Trout by way of Josette

2 pounds of steak -  always have used sirloin
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
2 chopped scallions
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

By putting the beef into the freezer for a short time, you will be able to get it frozen enough to make cutting, long, thin slices easier.  Slice the beef into long strips and as thin as possible.

Put the marinade into a zip-loc bag and add the beef strips.  Mix it all around by kneading the closed bag.  Refrigerate anywhere from 4 hours to overnight.  I think the longer the better and more tender.

Thread the beef strips onto skewer rods, keeping it tight, not too loose.  We have long rods and can usually fill 4 rods with this amount of meat.  Bamboo sticks will just not hold the weight of the meat. 

Place the skewers on the grill and turn as they cook, about 10 minutes or so. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Not my German mother's lentils!!

About a week ago, I saw a recipe on one of my blogger friends' blogs.  I grew up eating lentils on almost a weekly basis.  Most of the time, they were in a soup.  My mother loved lentils.  But she added bratwurst meatballs to the soup, lots of onions and it was baptized as German soup.

Bonnie, at  From a Writer's Kitchen   posted a recipe for Crispy Salmon with Spiced Lentils.  I had to try the lentils.  Luckily, I learned a lesson some years ago.  When more than one spice is added to anything, place the measured spice in a dish or plate before adding to the pot.  Good thing I did.  I grabbed the cayenne and measured  3/4 teaspoon.  When I picked up the paprika, I saw that I had made an error.  It should have been 3/4 teaspoon paprika and 1/4 tsp cayenne.  So, I just fluffed the large amount of cayenne into the sink and continued on!  Ah..hoo.ah!!

We grilled a large, thick pork chop and split it between the two of us.    Placed it on a bed of the spicy lentils and everything was right in the world.  I love these lentils.  In fact, as left-overs the next night with a marinated flank steak, I loved the lentils even more!!  Thank you Bonnie.  This is a keeper and will be repeated often.

Spiced Lentils
Inspired by Williams Sonoma and From a Writer's Kitchen

1 1/2 cups French lentils
8 whole cloves
1 small onion
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tomatoes peeled, seeded and chopped (I used a 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes, undrained)
1/12 cups clam juice (I used chicken stock)
1 1/2 tsp. each ground cumin and ground ginger
3/4 tsp. ground tumeric and sweet paprika
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Fresh lemon juice and salt and pepper

Pick over lentils, rinse and place in a large saucepan.  Add water to cover by two inches.  Stick cloves into the yellow onion and add along with the bay leaves.  Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to medium-low and simmer, uncovered until tender, 15-20 minutes.  Drain and discard the onion and bay leaves.  Set aside.

In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm one tbsp. of  oil.  Add the red onion and sautè until soft, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic, tomatoes, clam juice or chicken stock and all the spices.  Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 3 minutes.  NOTE:  Because of using canned tomatoes, cook this down a bit more, reduced by about one third.  Add the parsley and lentils.  Cook for about 5 minutes or until most of the tomato juice is reduced and absorbed.  Season with lemon juice and salt and pepper.  Keep warm.  You WILL enjoy this!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Orzo and Veggies

I am sharing a side dish with you today that doesn't come with a recipe.  It is something I started putting together last summer while in Montana, and just prepared it again this week.  I do not know what it is about it that makes it taste so good, but we love it.  Very simple, very Chef Tell used to say. 

I boil orzo (whole wheat in this case) a couple of minutes short of total cooking time.  Drain and set aside.

Then olive oil in a hot pan, diced onions, carrots and red pepper.  Sautè until softened, add back the cooked orzo and mix together well as the orzo has probably tried to stick together.  It will come apart nicely.  Top with lots of fresh chopped parsley and enjoy.  It is even better left over.

I must add...I should have mentioned that orzo is a type of pasta that can be found in any grocer in the pasta aisle.  S

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ybor City, worth a visit

Ybor City, pronouned EE-borh, is a historic neighborhood of Tampa, Florida.  In the 1880's, immigrants from Spain, Cuba and Italy settled in this area and started cigar manufacturing.  Even today, as you walk historic 7th Avenue, you see numerous cigar stores where cigars are still being hand-rolled.  The bars and coffee shops have thick cigar smoke rolling out of them.  Not exactly my favorite smell, but once again....when in Rome....

We did sit down and enjoy a Cuban coffee in the late afternoon and just look around the old-fashioned bar.

And then, of course, a little window shopping.  I did not get the price on this suit on display, but then you have to realize, some things are priceless.

In 2008, 7th Avenue in Ybor City was listed as one of the "10 Great Streets in America" by the American Planning Association.  Using the word great might be a stretch, but it certainly is unusual for the US. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A long overdue reunion

Yesterday turned out to be a wonderful day.  One of my bridesmaids that I have not seen since our wedding (that would be 45 years in August) was passing through Tampa yesterday, so The Trout and I made plans to meet her and her husband. 

Judy and I have kept in touch with each other for most of those years, but we did misplace each other for a few years until I found her on Facebook about 3 years ago.  After quickly catching up on families, we found a common bond again.  We were roommates in college.  It was a time of the Beatles and the assassination of President Kennedy.   As I get older, I find it amazing that friendships survive...true friendships. 

It was great meeting Judy's husband, Bob.  Have seen pictures of him through the years in Christmas letters, but finally making a live connection was so very nice.  A short visit, lunch and now back to corresponding through the computer.  It was a good day, Judy.  Thanks.