Monthly Archives: December 2011

In Xmas mood but craving light food!

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Don’t you know this feeling at Christmas time?? First you enjoy all the eating and drinking, the sweets and glutony, but at some point you need a break and you end up desperately craving something healthy again. Not healthy meaning boring, but healthy as delicious and light which doesn’t make you feel like crashing through the ground into the next floor below you 😉

Feeling like this from today’s lovely, but heavy lunch I remembered my recent visit to CAFE JULIANI in Spinola bay, just shortly before I left Malta for my Xmas trip home to Austria.

Now, lying here on the sofa for the last couple of hours, looking out in the dark cold, I’m fantasizing about their yummy light food and thought that’s definitely a good reason to share my experiences with you which I made a few weeks ago…

Cafe Juliani is still quite a hidden place. Located very centrally as part of the pretty boutique hotel, Hotel Juliani, people who live there tend to pass it without noticing it. What a shame!!! It’s a little, cosy oasis of calm in there, even if you just want a quick coffee or a breakfast (also to recommend btw!). The have comfy sofas, free Wifi and the service staff is adorable friendly. But as I said I only found out myself recently that it’s also a great place for food!

Offering a lovely menu with really interesting and unusual dishes (for Malta) but also some classics, Cafe Juliani made a lot my culinary cravings come true:
Freshly squeezed veggie juices, nice nibbles (amazing Kalamata olives), healthy dishes with a twist (Gravalax on a Buckwheat Pancake) and also some experimental stuff (cottage cheese, honey & lemon zest bruschetta with chili jam) combined with super friendly staff, and one of my favorite classic desserts (lemon merengue). But come and check it out yourself if you live in Malta….

Guys, thumbs up! You will see me soon in the new year 🙂

Vienna – Always a culinary pleasure.

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As much as I love living in Malta, always when I come home to Austria I just can’t wait to dive into all the culinary options Vienna is offering you…

It all starts with a…  No, this time it doesn’t start with a kiss.. a perfect day in Vienna starts with a lovely, lavish and luxurious breakfast 🙂 I can’t tell you how much I miss this ritual on going for breakfast on a lazy weekend day. The choice in Vienna is really hard, there’s an uncountable number of cool places, some stylish, some old fashioned, some which are open the whole night and welcome late party people as well as early birds.. but something they have all in common: a great choice of breakfasts. This time we were lucky to have a friend for Malta with us, so the weekend ended up in a tour of going to our favourite places as well some typical Viennese stop ins. Here the highlights…

Sacher Torte @ Café Demel

Who hasn’t heard of the world famous chocolate cake which originally comes from Vienna? People all over the world love the simple but delicious cake which is one of the most popular presents you can bring somebody from Vienna airport.

Austrians say different things about the Sacher Torte. The original version comes from the Patisserie Sacher, yes – but people say the version of Demel is even better, a bit moister and not as sweet as the same looking competitor. However, if you stroll around the Vienna city center there’s nothing better than fighting throught the masses of tourists to reach one big goal: a fresh Sacher Torte with cream and a lovely cup of coffee. Original Viennese you would order a melange which is a cappuccino with a tiny bit of fresh whipped cream on top.A glass of fresh tab water comes complimentary for sure 😉

What’s really beautiful is stopping by at the see through kitchen where the patissiers make the fresh cakes and other lovely sweets just in front of you. This is really when food becomes art…

Dachboden Lounge @ 25hours Hotel
Read about this new, little  boutique hotel in some magazines and was really looking forward to check it out on my next visit to Vienna. They not only offer some really cool, individually designed suites in the heart of the city centre, but also a lovely roof top lounge with a gorgous view over the city and a cosy, retro looking inside lounge with comfy sofas and chairs…

I was a bit afraid it could be one of this wanna be cool places but ended up to feel extremely relaxed and “at-home” there. Not too crowded, pleasant atmosphere and very reasonable prices! We had a lovely bottle of Austrian red wine (Zweigelt Unplugged, recommended!) for an unbelievable price of 17,- Euro! Stunning for such a cool, trendy place in the middle of the city. Definitely a place to come back, especially in summer and on Wednesday when they have a live session of my favorite radio station FM4.

Funny anecdote: as the place is pretty new, the kitchen hasn’t been opened yet. The easy solution: just order in some take away food, even the menus have been provided. Funny, refreshing way to fill that gap in the meantime!

Neni @ Naschmarkt

…one of my all-time favorites. When we still lived in Vienna this was a must every second week at least. Neni doesn’t only have a lovely design, it’s cosy and cool at the same time, the waiters there are just super nice and always up for a nice chat and some fun.

But this wouldn’t be enough if the food wasn’t great. It’s a mix of oriental flavours, all created by the owner Haya Molcho who originally has Israel from Israeli roots and blends her nation’s classics with influences of all her travels. So how can a Saturday get any better than hanging out there, tasting some lovely Austrian wines, have a yummy platter to share and watch the world pass by at the multicultural lively Naschmarkt (which literally means something like nibble market). Whatever you planned after.. Cancel it and just stay there and enjoy a lovely dinner from the small but fine menu. (Also great for breakfasts by the way.)

What made me really happy this time was to discover the Neni cookbook at the bar which just came out recently. Like this I don’t have to miss it when I’m back in Malta and makes waiting for the next trip easier 🙂 Can’t wait to try out the recipes back home soon!

Breakfast @ Café Kunsthalle

If you wanna experience a blend of arty cool young crowds, this is the place to be. Based in the city center at Karlsplatz (what a tribute to our dear friend and neighbour 😉 it’s easy to reach and offers a huge, sunny terrace in summer.

Café Kunsthalle is buzzing when you enter it. As in Malta you should always book a table in advance to avoid queuing (how likes queuing in the morning????). The breakfast menu is big and different, and everything is served in a lovely way of presenting it. This time I had a Croque Madame with fresh spinach and grilled tomatoes and was whishing once more to bring all those cool breakfast dishes to Malta!

So far so good… stay tuned for the next blog post.. will probably be about Tyrol as I was just sitting in the train heading to the west when I wrote this…. Cu soon & enjoy your life 🙂

a vegetarian xmas menu & my 24hours of fame in Gourmet Today magazine

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front cover of gourmet today

as promised i want to share my recipes for a vegetarian xmas menu with you. the menu was published last sunday 4 december 2011 in the GOURMET TODAY magazine which comes out once a month with the MALTA TODAY newspaper.

eventhough i am not a vegetarian myself i love vegetarian cooking with seasonal vegetables and loads of spices and herbs… hope you’ll like it!

introduction gourmet today

STARTER:
chestnut soup with fresh rasberries, mushrooms and hazelnuts

ingredients (serves 6)
ca. 1kg chestnuts
1l of vegetable stock
1 pkg of fresh cream
knob of butter
some cinnamon, sugar, salt, pepper
white wine or prosecco
for the topping: 6mushrooms, a small onion, fresh raspberries (or frozen if you can’t get fresh ones) purreed, icing sugar, crushed hazelnuts, hazelnut oil

method:
1. cut in chestnuts on the rounded side and cook them in water for approximately 30 min, squeeze them out of the skin as long as they are warm, then it’s the easiest 😉
2. heat up the stock, add the mashed chestnuts, puree with a blender, add cream, heat it up slightly.
3. finish it with little pieces of cold butter to bind it and season with salt, pepper and a hint of cinnamon. add a splash of white wine or prosecco and puree it a last time so it gets frothy.
4. in the meantime heat up a little pan and fry the mushroom slices and onions. season with a hint of icing sugar so it gets caramelized.. add the crushed hazelnuts.
5. put the soup in bowls, add the topping, a blob of purreed raspberries and finish with just a tiny hint of hazelnut oil on top.

chestnut soup & red lentil curry

MAIN:
red lentil curry with fried masala tofu and basmati rice

ingredients (serves 6)

2 cups of red lentils (washed)
ca. 1,5kg of fresh read & orange veggies(tomatoes, red & yellow peppers, carrots)
fresh ginger
1 big onion
garlic
2 green chilies
spices: cumin, coreander seeds, mustard seeds, curry powder, tumeric, masala powder
tamari sauce/ soy sauce
2 pkg smoked or marinated tofu (e.g. from smart supermarket)
cashew nuts
veggie oil & sesame oil
3 cups of couscous
vegetable stock

method:
1. start with marinating the tofu. cut up in small pieces and add masala powder and tamari/soy sauce. put aside for later.
2. heat up the oils in a big pan. crush cumin and coriander in a mortar. roast them in the pan, also the mustard seeds until fragrant and they start popping. add chopped onions and ginger, roast on medium temperature. add garlic and stir.
3. ddd the veggies and the lentils. roast and add the powder spices. add the chopped chilies. top up with vegetable stock. let it simmer for about 20min. add tamari or soy sauce at the end depending in your taste of saltiness.
4. in the meantime prepare the couscous as described on the package and add olive oil, lemon and salt or a bit of vegetable stock for more flavor.
5. heat up a pan and fry the marinated tofu. add the cashew nuts and roast them together.
chop the fresh coriander.
6. prepare couscous on plates. top up with lentil curry. then the roasted tofu and nuts. finalize with coriander. feady & enjoy 🙂

frozen cinnamon parfait with stewed spiced plums

DESSERT:
frozen cinnamon parfait with stewed spiced plums

ingredients:
(6-7 portions depending on the size if glasses you use)

1/4l sugar sirup (made out of 250g icing sugar cooked to sirup with 1/4l water)
6 egg yolks
400ml cream
cinnamon
rum
1kg plums
cloves, cinnamon, brown sugar, small piece of dried ginger
method:
1. cool sugar sirup after you made it.
2. whip up the cream in the meantime. whisk egg yolks over boiling water until frothy. add the cinnamon and put the bowl in cold water, whisk until cold. add a tiny bit of rum.
3. fold in the whipped cream carefully. now seperate in different small cups or glasses and put them in the freezer (minimum 6h!)
4. for the stewed plums cut plums into quarters, coat them with brown sugar in a small pot and let them caramelize. top up with water, add the spices and let it slowly cook for about 20-30min.
5. take out the parfaits ca. 30min before you need them. warm up the plums and put them on top of the cold parfait. the different temperatures create a cinnamon froth and you’ll have a lovely hot & cold dessert. delicious!

feeling cold? have a warm breakfast :)

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cold season? warm breakfast :)nowadays when it’s cold, windy or even rainy (snowy at home!) outside i love to make myself a warm breakfast. as the english love their plain porridge which is just oats with hot water i rather prefer the versions inspired by traditional chinese medicine which works with the 5 elements (wood fire earth metal water). a warm breakfast not only gives you a cosy feeling when you eat it, with it’s roasted ingredients and spices it heats you up from the inside out and keeps you feeling warmer for the whole day! i made this every day last week during our yoga retreat and some of us got quite hooked on it 😉

what you need (serves 2)
any kind of flakes (oat flakes, spelt flakes, i love it with rice flakes!)
2 pieces of fresh fruit e.g. pear, apple, plums..
nuts e.g. chashew nuts, sunflower/pumpkin seeds…
a handful of dried fruit e.g. prunes, apricots, cranberries, goji berries….
milk (i prefer soy milk, but you can also do it with normal milk or almond/coconut milk)
cinnamon
shredded coconut
honey

what to do..
cut up the fruit in little pieces, not too small so they don’t disappear later on 😉 and roast them on medium heat in a medium sized pot. add the flakes, nuts and dried fruit roast a bit longer. then add the milk. let it cook a bit. after some minutes add the cinnamon and coconut. finalise with honey depending on your taste of sweetness.

Hmmmm… enjoy 😀

P.S. Only 3 more days and my cooking will be published in the next issue of GOURMET TODAY!! so excited!! will post the recipes and photos of the magazine as soon as it’s out ;-)))))