What I really like about my new local market(s) is that there are not only stalls specialized in e.g. potatoes, apples or fish, but also a lot of regional organic farmers selling their excellent seasonal produce. Local organic food has several advantages. For example no manufactured fertilizers or pesticides are used for growing the plants. This requires more attention and work from the farmer, which in the end really makes a difference in taste. Since the farms are located in a 50-100km radius around Berlin, the produce is absolutely regional. The offered range of produce is both limited and rich at the same time: limited due to seasonality, and rich due to cultivating old species and a wide range of varieties.
I’ve encountered the oyster plant roots at one of these organic farmer’s market stalls. This vegetable looks like a really hairy, dirty and thin root. Because it is so thin, I only removed the root hairs and carefully scraped the surface of the roots using a relatively dull knife. The scraped surface of the root tends to turn brown quickly, so it’s advised to boil or steam the roots right after peeling them. I would not recommend this root to be served raw, since it has a slightly bitter taste. Its raw taste also reminded me of liquorice. During cooking the bitter taste evaporates, so when heated the oyster plant root tastes like a mixture of black salsify and corn. In this current dish I paired the oyster plant root with turnip, black spanish and radish.
During the last month I finally managed to finish a huge project. Some of you, who might have seen me on Hungarian or German television might already know, that for the last 5 years I was working as a research assistant at the local university here in Erlangen. Next to teaching students about the beauty of computer science, I also worked on my PhD thesis. The final oral exam took place two weeks ago, where I did pretty well and so I finally extended my name with a Dr.! Of course the exam was followed by celebrations lasting more than 3 days, which seemed to be a little bit too much: I spent the next few days in bed with a flu.
The first PhD celebration is traditionally held just after the final oral exam with my family and my fellows. Since my colleagues know that I love cooking, I had to come up with some original ideas for my menu. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any time to cook on the day before my final exam, so I searched for a local catering service willing – and able – to cook the ideas I had in mind. The catering I picked did a tremendous job. Everybody loved the appetizers, main courses and desserts – which were mostly not only vegetarian, but vegan. It’s funny, that unless a dish is not explicitly emphasized as vegan, people don’t really seem to miss the meat from their plates. One of the appetizers was this simple, yet very tasty terrine made of bell peppers and eggplant.
During summer the youth division on3 of the Bavarian Television (BR) is touring across Bavaria and broadcasts each week from a different city. Last week their tour bus stopped in Erlangen, the town I live in. Fortunately, the program directors decided to talk about foodblogging and invited 3 local foodbloggers from the surrounding area: Kathi (Kochfrosch), Sylvia (Rock the Kitchen) and me. It was nice to meet Kathi and Sylvia, since until recently I didn’t even know that there were other foodbloggers so close nearby. We were asked some questions about foodblogging and in the second part of the show we had to prepare some “food porn” using a few provided ingredients. The show was recorded on last Wednesday and aired both on the BR-alpha and BR channels. If you missed the show: it is available online at the on3 website.
Before the live show, Kathi, Sylvia and I were asked by the tv crew to join a skype meeting, where we helped one of the shows hosts prepare and cook a menu for his guests. The whole dinner was filmed and the resulting short film screened during the live show. I had to provide a recipe for the main course, so because I knew the show would air sometime in July, I planned a refreshing summer dish. The guests seemed pretty amazed, so hopefully others might would want to prepare this dish as well. Because I started myBites in last August, the recipe for the basil-trout rolls was featured on my (long-running) Hungarian foodblog only. Since now it’s exactly the right season for this dish (and due to the recently aired show on BR) I decided to share the recipe in English, too.
In my previous post I gave a short review of the renewed Foodpairing website. In a short tutorial I went through all options of the Foodpairing Explorer and simultaneously created a combination of ingredients featuring poppy seeds, banana, turnip, apple and camomile. First this combination might sound a little bit weird, but if you take a closer look, they actually make sense together. Poppy seeds aren’t very sweet but slightly bitter on their own. Banana used as chips are less flavorful and less sweet compared to the raw fresh fruit and it contributes a nice crunchy texture too. Apples can be tart, turnips are actually very sweet and while they are both crisp, their consistencies differ. So to sum up, every main flavor and many different textures are present in the aforementioned combination, which is the foundation of creating an interesting vegan dish based on them.
Two friends of mine, Gabi and Gaba recently launched a new Hungarian food blog with recipes and information about fish and seafood. Because I love to work with local fish like trout or char, they asked me to write a guest post with a recipe featuring trout and seasonal ingredients. Although winter is dark and cold, the ingredients of this season aren’t nearly as grey and dreary as they are often told. This dish is a good example for the bright colors of winter. Actually, the colors of the vegetables are complemented by the single grey element on the plate only, the trout.
August and the first weeks of September are the best time for incredibly flavorful local tomatoes. During the season you can find a wide selection of sizes, colors and shapes at the local market, which irresistibly invite you to explore the wide variety. Tomatoes are very versatile: you can broil, roast, grill, stew, fry, dry or simply use them raw e.g. in a salad. One of the most famous and popular salads with tomatoes is probably the Italian Caprese consisting of fresh tomatoes, mozzarella (from buffalo milk), basil, some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. In my version here I integrated the idea of a tomato terrine inspired by a recipe of Tanja Grandits. In her cookbook she called it tomato cassata and used some vanilla too, which I skipped. Instead of red tomato juice I pureed and sieved yellow tomatoes, which added a nice and vibrant color to the final dish.