red lentil soup

red lentils are great if there is not much time to cook – they need only about 15 minutes until tender.


  • 1 tbsp ghee (or butter oil)
  • 1 bunch of green onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 pieces of celery stalks
  • 2 carrots
  • 200 g red lentils
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 l vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • salt, black pepper

cut up celery stalks and carrots into small pieces. seperate green and white of green onions and chop.

in a large pan, heat ghee. add garlic and the white of green onions, cook for two minutes. add carrots and celery, cook for another two minutes. add red lentils, cook fon one minute, stirring frequently. add  chili flakes and vegetable stock and let it simmer until the lentils are done (15-20 minutes). right before the end of cooking time, add chopped green parts of the green onions (keep a bit for decoration). season the soup with lemon juice, soy sauce, black pepper and salt.

banana muffins (without eggs)

on our son’s birthday i wanted to make something to take to the kindergarden, and the constraint was to use no eggs – i don’t know if one of the kids is allergic, or if they fear salmonella infections… but banana muffins are a safe bet:


  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 200g flour
  • 50g sliced almonds
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 80 g sugar (brown)
  • 200ml yoghurt
  • 100ml sun flower oil

in one bowl, mix dry ingredients (except for the sugar). in another bowl, mash bananas, then mix in sugar, oil and yoghurt. stir flour mixture in banana mixture, then stir until the dry ingredients are moistened. spoon the batter into prepared muffin cups and bake at 175° for about 20 minutes.

i also sent along  these cookies. i did not particularly like them, since i found them quite dry – which was the reason i decided to bake the muffins in the first place. but i was told that the kids really loved them. on the other hand,  i guess they would  eat just about anything as long as it is topped with m+m’s.

while making the cookies i noticed that i may have a light control-freak tendency: i ordered the m+m’s  by color to make sure that the colors are evenly distributed on the cookies. and did you know that there are far more in green and brown than in  any other color?

grilled green asparagus with pine nuts and parmesan

i think this is the easiest way to enjoy asparagus:


  • 500g green asparagus
  • 1 tbsp butter oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • 3 tbsp grated parmesan

trim asparagus, heat butter oil in a large pan. cook asparagus until tender. when it is almost done, sprinkle with lemon juice and season with salt and black pepper. transfer to a plate, sprinkle with pine nuts and parmesan.

a few dashes of pumpkin seed oil will make it even better.

and since it is so quick, easy and tasty, i’m submitting it to cucina rapida.

chimmichurri sauce

i like parsley, but i am not a big fan of parsley dominating an entire dish. therefore i was a bit reluctant about the chimmichurri sauce as a dip for the empanadas and made it primarily because i thought it would look nice, together with the tomato dip i was planning to make. (shifting of priorities, eh?)
and what happened? it looked very nice indeed, and nobody took a picture. but fortunately it was delicous, too.


  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 1 clove or garlic
  • 6 leaves of basil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp olive oil (add more if needed)
  • 1/2 red chili, chopped (but it was not very hot)
  • salt and pepper to taste

combine all ingredients in the blender, mix until the sauce is smooth.  chill in the fridge until ready to use (should be used the same day).


i love to make brunch since it’s a nice opportunity to try many things all at once. today we had:

the brunch was for eight people plus three kids. i always used to struggle with the amount of food to make for many people. it’s every time the same procedure: i remember that there were lots of leftovers last time, so i plan cautiously. then i panic that it might be not enough – so i add some more. and get lots of leftovers. but not this time! i almost don’t dare to say it, but i really sat down with a calculator adding up the weight of all the ingredients and divided the sum by the number of people. for every dish.  and it worked – i think i was as close to the ideal amount of food as possible. everybody ate her fill, it was enough to nibble for about two hours and almost nothing was left.

such a variety of dishes takes a bit of planning in advance, to make sure that everything is ready at the right time, has the right temperature and the cook is not totally exhausted. so here is what i did:

a few days in advance

  • make empanadas, store in the freezer

the night before (in the following order)

  1. make fruit jelly, distribute in dessert glasses and put in the fridge to chill
  2. make snow bars
  3. set the table while snow bars are baking
  4. make quark mousse, distribute in dessert glasses and let chill overnight
  5. preparation for scones (weighted all ingredients, so i only had to throw it together next morning)
  6. make dough for focaccias, put in the fridge to rise overnight
  7. slice olives (= topping for one focaccia), set aside
  8. toast pine nuts for asparagus, pumpkin seed for salad, sesame seeds for tomato butter, set aside
  9. make tomato butter
  10. make tomato dip for empanadas

∑ 3 hours

this morning (in the following order)

  1. get focaccia dough out of the fridge (it needs to gain room temperature before baking)
  2. get emanadas out of the freezer and let thaw on baking tray
  3. make salad, chill in the fridge
  4. make chimmichurri dip
  5. bake first focaccia
  6. clean and prepare asparagus
  7. distribute salad in serving dishes
  8. bake second focaccia
  9. make dough for scones, bake, wrap in dish towel to keep them warm
  10. brush empanadas with a bit water and crisp up in the oven
  11. meanwhile grill asparagus

∑ 2 hours

i actually think i could have fun working in the area of process optimization.

the only problem with the above schedule is that i did not allocate a slot for proper photo shooting.

some recipes to follow.

empanadas with beef (…but not mendocinas)

i started with the empanadas mendocinas recipe at laylita’s recipes. but i wanted to have raisins in it – which mendocinas do not have, i added parsley to the filling and since i confused the mendocina dough recipe (which contains milk) with the other dough recipe at laylita’s i ended up with something a bit different from the original. but they were really nice – at least those that we tried, the other empanadas are sitting in the fridge waiting for brunch on sunday.

their form was not perfect yet,  but you can follow the evolution of my repulgue in the above picture.  i did not need all the filling for the 28 empanadas i got, but found a great way to use up the leftover meat: i put it on frozen puff pastry, topped it with mozarella cheese and baked it.

quark spread with chive, radish and onion

spring has come and so it’s time for chive again. at home in my parent’s garden we used to check everyday, starting mid march, on the progress the young chive made. and when it was finally long enough to be cut my father made fresh kräuterquark with chive and onions. delicious.

i don’t have a garden but the store-bought stuff will do.


  • 250 g quark (10% fat)
  • 50 ml milk
  • half a bunch of chives
  • half an onion
  • 6 radish
  • 1/4 tsp salt, black pepper

dice onion and radish, cut up the chive into small rolls. put in a bowl, then add quark and stir until well combined. add milk by the tablespoon until desired creaminess is reached ( i like it rather thin as you can see in the pic). season with salt and black pepper.

the quark is also very nice with fresh potatoes (boiled in their skins) and linseed oil or pumpkin seed oil.

pasta with fennel, tomatoes and black forest ham

i don’t like fennel. this is a fact i never questioned, although i could not tell a single occasion where i ever tasted fennel so far (that is, as a vegetable). it must be a late effect from the fennel tea i was forced to drink as a kid. but i also used to hate eggplant – up until i ate parmigiana di melanzane. so why not try to overcome the fear of fennel as well? i started cautiosly by using in a vegetable soup. it was not bad, though i have to admit that i had difficulties telling it apart from other vegetables. but today i entered the next level: fennel as the main ingredient in a (great!!!) pasta dish.


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 600 g fennel
  • 6 mini tomatoes
  • 3 slices smoked Black Forest ham
  • 50g grated parmesan
  • 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 200 g pasta of your choice

toast pine nuts in a dry pan. set aside. cut ham in small stripes and fry (without additional grease) until it is crisp. set also aside.

wash and prepare the fennel, cut it up into small pieces. keep fennel green for decoration.

saute fennel in olive oil about 20 minutes until it is tender, add some salted water (in which the pasta will be cooked) as needed. quarter the tomatoes, add and cook for a few minutes. add some more salted water – overall it should be about a ladle full. season with lemon juice, sugar, a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper and maybe some more salt.

meanwhile cook the pasta, then pour it over the sauce. mix and let it stand on the hot stovetop for a few minutes – the pasta should soak up some of the sauce. transfer to a large bowl and mix with grated cheese and ham stripes. top with pine nuts and fennel green.

so yes, i think fennel can be added to my list of edible greens.

kakaós csigák – hungarian yeast pastry with cocoa

i jumped on the bandwagon and made Anikó’s kakaós csigák – hungarian chocolate rolls which were subject of numerous baking sessions (and almost as many enthusiastic praises) in german foodblogs. yeast pastry with chocolate is not common in germany – unfortunately, i have to say after trying these. i think the key to their deliciousness is to douse them with a lot of hot milk and butter during baking time, which makes them super soft and fluffy. i changed the recipe only a tiny little bit by using fresh yeast instead of dry yeast.



  • 20g fresh yeast
  • 500g flour
  • 50g soft butter
  • 300 ml lukewarm milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 4 tsp sugar plus a pinch
  • 1 pinch of salt


  • 4 tsp cocoa powder
  • 8 tsp powdered sugar

to douse

  • 150 ml milk
  • 50g butter

first pour flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl, make a well in the middle and cut butter around it. crumble yeast into the well, add a pinch of sugar and enough milk to cover the yeast. stir a few times, then cover it with a dish towel and let the sponge rise for about 15 minutes.

add remaining milk and the egg yolk, then knead the dough for a few minutes until it comes together (it is a bit sticky, you may want to use a bit less milk first, then add by the tablespoon).  cover the dough again and let it rise until the volume is doubled – this took about an hour. in the meantime mix icing sugar and cocoa for the filling. preheat oven to 175°C.

knead again a few times, then roll it out to a large rectangle.

cover with the filling and roll it up, starting from the long edge.

then cut in slices, approximately 3cm wide.

transfer the slices into a baking pan and bake at 175°C for 15 minutes. meanwhile heat the extra 150ml milk and melt the butter in it. pour the mixture over the rolls and bake for another 15 minutes.

my baking pan was a bit large, ideally they should cuddle up closely together after baking. anyway, they were divine.

ps: the hungarians are really serious about their kakaós csigák – there is an entire web site devoted to testing them: We Love Kakaóscsiga