Saturday, July 25, 2009

Light asian summer chicken 

Asian flavours like fresh lime, lemongrass, lemon basil, coriander and ginger always remind me on my journeys to asian countries. It only needs one of these tastes and all asian travel images, food aromas and colours emerge. They than take me to a marvelous short asian trip in my mind and on my tongue.
Summer is the season suited for all those asian flavours. Summer is also the season for fish and light, white meat. I developed the idea for the following recipy by the accidental discovery of a typical asian fruit: I found a rest of dried mango slices in my cupboard. Starting to think about what to do with those slices before their expiry-date will arrive, I tried to integrate them into the dinner I wanted to cook for friends.

Beside their intensively sweet flavour, Mangos carry a nice, colorful acid when they were dried. Furthermore, dried fruit in general are able to absorb liquids, a very good attribute when you roll/put them into meat, because they soak the gravy inside and create wonderful new flavours on the meat as well as later on in your sauce. 

So I made up my mind: I wanted to cook a delecate chicken brest filled with coriander, dried mango slices, a little piece of garlic, fresh red chilli and lemon basil. The best with this combintaion of flavours is the entourage of a sweet basmati rice I think.

Preparation of the chicken

I bought big fine slices of chicken brest of organic grown-up chicken. I hope that dear little chicken had had a happy life.
I washed and dried the brests in the usual way. Afterwards I cut a bag into each of them. Thereafter I searched nearly half an hour for my cookery appropriate packthread. This unlucky search reminds me strongly to store needful cookery acessories not to far from the kitchen and furthermore not to use them for inappropriate purposes - my cookery packthread was nearly completely gone for parcel packing:-)
The brests were salted and peppered with black pesteled pepper from all sides. I filled the bags with the herbs, then placed garlic, red chili and two slices of dried mango in it. I rolled and packed the brests carefully wiht the rest of my thread and put them in the fridge again for a minimum of two hours. That time really is necessary so that the aromamix feeds in the meat.

Fry the chicken brests
Half an hour before I started, I took the brests out of the fridge again. I heated a good amount of sesamoil in a pan and fried them from slowly until they encrust a little bit. After the brests were done, I rewrapped them carefuly and took out the mangos and the herbs for the sauce. The garlic and the red chili I layed aside for later decoration. The chicken brests have to be keept warm until they are served. 

The sauce
The gravy, the herbs and the mangos I pureed together with a spoon of sweet sherry, a half glass of white wine, a dash of mild, very old aceto balsamico, a little bit of brown sugar and a spoon of butter. 
After the sauce boiled up once more, I mixed  two spoons of creme fraiche in.

Flavoured Basmati
Good qualities of organic basmati have their price. But you should never regret your buy - no matter if you bought organic for flavour or sustainability reasons. As a side dish of the asian summer chicken it is nice to boil the basmati rice wth a piece of butter and two long slices of fresh lemon grass.

The wine  
Since I drunk that wine for the first time in 2007 it has remained one of my favourite Sauvignon Blanc within the 10 Euro class: It is the Spanish Sauvignon Blanc out of the Rueda Region called "Palacio de Menade". This light, fruitful wine overwhelmes you with intense fragrances and tastes of mango, gooseberry, white peaches and apricot: sunny and at the same time sound, with a discreet acid. This wine is perfectly in line with chicken and asian herbs like coriander. It is one of these summer wines you are very surprised when the first bottle is already empty and very glad that you bought a second one. 
There´s another little detail I fell for: the colour of the cork is almost neon-green, as well as the main color of the simple but nice label design. And that´s another reason why it is worth to buy a third bottle sometimes.
dolce vita ahoi • mobile minds • monika ebert

Monday, July 20, 2009

Summer experiments: savor for red jelly 

To take care of a big garden is a lot of work, above all in the summer period. The timeslot between end of May and end of July is a hot phase for every garden owner. Nearly all the berries maturate within this period and they all have to be reaped and handled at their own right time. Marmalade, jelly and jam are the magic words bringing up the beads of perspiration to the gardener´s forehead at that time. After the first week of happiness about the red glory it soon begins to turn into real work. A shelf full of tasteful jellies in autumn is a hard won area. But when you open a glass in winter and feel all those exploding summer flavour flirting with your tastebuds, be sure that every bead of summer harvest sweat has become completely unimportant. 
The most challenging berries in my opinion are red, white and black currants. Their harvest is demanding as well as time-consuming. Never the less their taste transformed into jelly is wonderful straight: light acidic aspects in the base, covered by an unagitated sweet.

White, black and red currant... and not to forget: Jostaberries
White, black and red currant are different concerning their sepcific taste. The white berries are the lightest, the red ones carry the mots fruity lines and the black ones are overlaying nearly every other taste with their broad dark berry tone. It´s similar to the colors of a painting: White is the brightest colour, red is the most intense one und black is the deepest - overwhelming all the others.
The Jostaberry is a crossbreed of black current and gooseberry: considering their size, they are located between the two original breeds, concerning the outside color tey are as dark as the black currant, the inside color is near to a gooseberry. But their layers of taste are simple and not that intense. They are the handsome ones among all the listed berry breeds.
The conclusion out of these differences is a very simple one: essential for the taste of your jelly is the right mix of berries .-)

It´s jellytime!
As mentioned before, the sweetness of currant is not as complex as for example the sweetness of a strawberry. The more experienced you become by having passed jellysummer by jellysummer, the more you want to have new compositions of jellies with new flavours on your shelf. 

1 The "red childhood" combination
Being invited to a wonderful country house garden of an equally wonderful woman at currant harvest time, I was asked to bring in my ideas for the creation of new taste levels for jellies. 
Closing my eyes and excavating all the different moments of currant taste out of my brain, the first combination that came to my mind and tongue was butter caramel. 
We tried that new verison of jelly with mostly white and red currant and a few jostaberries. Therefore we prepared the sugar (portion according to the amount of fruits) with butter - as you do it for the creation of soft caramel candies. After the buttercaramel was melt, we added step by step the clean fruits (be careful, caramel is a very hot thing to handle!). The result was such an extraordinary taste combination, that we could not resist to try a bit of the new lukewarm jelly on a slice of fresh buttered bred. 
This new taste I called "red childhood" because caramel candies were the first candies I can remember.

2 The "dark cool summer" combination
The next challenge was to handle a hughe amount of black currant, those who overlay every other partner in the jellypot with their deep taste. The idea was to cook them with a bunch of strong mint (spearmint is fine for that). 
We were content about the new taste, but there seemed to be a fine dark taste layer missing to perfect it. The additional component we were looking for appeared quickly: 
We melted a bar of strong dark chocolate (70% or 80%) in the pot right before the jelly was finsihed. There it was! The new jelly composition got the name "dark cool summer".
For my role as "harvest girl" I was so generously rewarded with our extraordinary new jelly compositions, that I believe I will open the last glasses of "red childhood" and "dark cool summer" around Christmas - unless it continues to rain until the beginning of autumn.

dolce vita ahoi • mobile minds • monika ebert

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wild herbs, a beautiful castle 
& two impressive women

I am still very happy that I was one of the participants of that extraordinary cookery course about wild herbs last weekend, held by fabulous Eleonore Gliewe in the kitchen of an awesome location: Seeschloss Schönhausen
One of the owners of Seeschloss Schönhausen, Petra Sauer, attended the course as well. On top of the wild herb lessons she inspired us with a few very interesting stories: how they found the castle, her former life as a marketer and last but not least a little bit of local gossip.

The Location
Seeschloss Schönhausen is a dream of a landmarked castle in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern with an own lake.
The neo-classical style of the building reminds on a tuskan country chateau. The marvellous lakeview is one of the scenic attractions.
Bulit in 1843 by Wilhelm Buttel, the castle was carefully renovated by the two owners Peter Schmidt & Petra Sauer over the last 8 years. Another permanent resident should be mentioned: their smart and very special french Briard dog "Gizmo". I´ve never met such a huge dog with so bright ginger fur and that very deep typical wet dog perfume before.

The Mistress of wild herbs: Eleonore Gliewe
The day of our course started with a two hours walk around the lake. All participants were equipped with baskets, knifes and scissors.
During that first part of the day ELeonore talked about the beginning of her passion for wild herbs: Before she began to work with these special plants she took up her discovery by a very long period of exclusive observation: at different locations, within different seasons, during different phases of plant growth.
Not till then she started to use them in the kitchen and created her very own style of experimental cooking with all kind of wild herbs. The experince to get to know these local plants - be it rose of Sharon, orache or stinging-nettle - by walking with and talking to her was inimitable. Elenore´s high developed sensitivity is as astonishing as her comprehensively respectful handling of the herbs inside and outside the kitchen.
I never learned so quickly and easily including a deep holistic understanding for this little cutout of raw nature. At the end of our excursion Eleonore delighted us with a first sample of her wonderful culinary skills in the castle kitchen: a coconut-milk-soup with potatoes, carrots, smoked tofu and stinging-nettle. Served with that wonderful soup was a handmade bread out of spelt flour, seasoned with cucuma and coriander. The bright yellow colour of this bread was as amazing as the very nice new taste. This spelt flour bread was accomplished by some delicious spreads: wild-cherry-jam, elderflower-jelly and a very aromatic, creamy paste made out of sunflower seeds and origam.

Cooking dinner with Eleonore and the crew
After beeing well saturated by the wonderful soup, we began to sort and wash the collected herbs. In collaboration with Eleonore we decided how to combine them and what courses to cook for dinner.
For the entrée we chose to cook a mixed salad out of bishop´s weed, dandelion leaves, chickweed, cashew nuts and a few cocktail tomatoes. The vinaigrette consits out of lemon juice and a marvellous oil. We used a selfmade seasalt flavoured with dried poppyflowers - incredible taste!

Main course
For main course we cooked special hash-browns with nettle seeds, an unbelievably aromatic combination: the seeds with their nutty taste moved us in a new part of the potatoe heaven. I would choose stinging-nettle as plant of the day:-) By the way it is one of Eleonore´s favourite plants, she told us.
Another amazing discovery were Eleonores vegetarian little Hamburgers, a special mix of coconut flakes, oatmeal, yeast flakes and a portion of wild mugwort.
Besides theses two parts of the main course she served a deliciois spinach combination out of nettle and orache, refined with a bit of mustard and tomatoe puree.

For desert we had icecream (vanilla and chocolate), a
wonderful whipped cream with a brown suggar - flavoured with melilot - and the elderflower jelly.
This menu was dining at it´s best. Petra´s fondly layed table, Elenore´s cooking masterhip and the best out of nature´s summer, the wild herbs, turned this dinner into an unforgettable evening of taste and inspiration.

The new drink 
"Seeschloss Schönhausen"
Petra served us a remarkable unknown drink with our meal: she put one thrid of white wine together with two thirds of tea made out of nettle and licorice. 
An unbelievable new, light summerdrink that can be enjoyed either warm or iced.

After this marvelous day full of new tastes, culinary experiences and inspiration I´m really looking forward to Eleonore´s next wild herb lesson and to my next visit to this unique place Seeschloss Schönhausen.

PS: Thank´s for the pictures to Edda and Petra (castle)

dolce vita ahoi • mobile minds • monika ebert

about mobile-minds

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gaumenperlen - a label by mobile minds, monika ebert::: gaumenperlen is a diary about affairs of the heart. I´m addicted to delicious food, unique and extraordinary places as well as valuable things, fine arts, design, music, tango argentino and interesting people. The focus of this diary is food. Delicious food is much more than nutrition, health or prestige. it is the basis of your body& soul, it is at the core of your way to think, to live and act, it is your attitude towards nature. For me cooking is a wild, joyful, creative process with the objective to share the result in the end. This process is surrounded by a bunch of exciting encounters - nevertheless where I am:: at the markets, talking to producers, at the book stores, in restaurants, in my kitchen. That´s why I love cooking and travelling.