A Course for Life

R

ecently, I have asked myself towards what my wife Kim and I move. Sure, we like to go  on runs in the beautiful and still lush woods that surround our little Tübingen, hugged by the mountains of the Swabian Albs. But the direction in which we move is always already towards food. Food, for us, seems to be like our course for life. Just like the mountains hug Tübingen, so does food hug us in our little apartment (or anywhere else, really (I cannot kid you after all!)). The garden looks into our home, the fridge is always full (sometimes too full if you ask Kim), the bookshelves are well-stocked with cook books, and – at least I – start my day thinking about what we will cook for dinner. Kim sometimes inquires what we will have so she can look forward to it throughout the day while still lying in bed in the morning, sipping on coffee. It’s fab!

So, (almost every) Saturday we will shlep ourselves to our glorious farmers market in the medieval city center of Tübingen and browse, browse, browse. Usually without a clue what to cook, we will buy tons of fruit and vegetables, some fresh bread (the best bread in the World (if you ask me, of course, only) is Gehr’s „Dinkel Brotzeit“ – a moist & airy spelt bread with a glorious crust), and olives as well as some sheep’s milk cheese from Korsika and trot home. At home, we will dive right into a hearty lunch of bread, cheese, and veggies, making a proper dent into our bounty. And have some melon slice with smoked sea salt. Because it’s sunny and why shouldn’t we?

Yet, it is not only food that moves us, or holds us together. It is friends and food and wine and cocktails and travel (and work and sports, which does not thematically fit, but is nevertheless true). This Saturday at the market, I saw such proud kohlrabies that I couldn’t resist but ask for the ones with the most greens. I immediately knew that I would make a salad that screams beginning of summer with these earthy giants. Cut very thinly and paired with peaches, feta cheese, mint, toasted almonds, and a vinaigrette, this salad is not only easy on the eye (you’ve heard right, ladies!), but it is also drop-down delicious. Because I was thinking about a course of life and what defines such a routine earlier that day, I knew I had to make more than one course for our Saturday dinner. Since the peach & kohlrabi salad is a show-stopper in itself, I opted for one of our simple favourite dishes: Linguine Aglio Olio. Linguine Aglio Olio are humble, yet absolutely comforting and satisfying. The slightly roasted garlic, so sweet, nutty, and creamy, meets the sweet & unique taste of basil and the slight bitterness of the fresh oregano as well as the heat from the chilli to hug you from this inside-out. Topped with some shaved parmesan (because cheese!) it will do so every bite of the way. In short, we love this dish. And because I craved more of this early-summer bliss, this sweetness, I made home-made pistachio meringues, accompanied by some crème fraîche and raspberries. Voila!

Summery Peach & Kohlrabi Salad

1 large kohlrabi, peeled and finely sliced (wrap the greens in a wet tea-yowl and store in the fridge to make pesto or to sauté)

1-2 peaches, finely sliced

40 g crumbled feta cheese

2 tablespoons of sliced & toasted almonds

2 twigs of mint, finely chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil & 1 tablespoon lemon juice for the vinaigrette

salt & pepper to taste

Arrange the kohlrabi and peach slice on a plate, alternating between each layer, and salt & pepper them lightly. Sprinkle the crumpled goat cheese, toasted almonds, and mint on top and mix up a quick vinaigrette, combining the olive oil, mean juice, some salt & pepper to taste. Finish the salad off by slowly pouring some vinaigrette over the salad. Enjoy!

Linguine Aglio Olio

200 g dried Linguine

6 tablespoons of olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, peeled & finely sliced

1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (adjust this depending on your chilis & heat tolerance)

150 ml reserved pasta water

2 large twigs of fresh oregano, leaves roughly chopped

one hand-full of fresh basil leaves, finely sliced

shaved parmesan

salt & pepper to taste

Bring your pasta water to a boil, generally salt the water (dip in your finger, it should taste like the sea), and cook your pasta until al dente. In a pan, warm up your olive oil and slowly roast your garlic slices for about 5 minutes on low heat until they are slightly golden around the edges. Be careful not to burn the garlic as it may turn bitter. Now, add your chilli and continue frying everything for another minute. Take a cup and steal some of that good pasta water and add it to your pan. Cook down the garlic, chilli, and pasta water for another 3 minutes. Meanwhile, slice & chop your herbs. When the pasta is al dente, drain it and add it to the pan, add the fresh herbs, and mix everything up. Simmer the pasta for another 2 minutes and season with salt and pepper. Be careful, this dish is addictive.

Pistachio Meringues with Crème Fraîche & Raspberries

4 egg whites

1 pinch of salt

185 g white caster sugar

50 g peeled & chopped pistachios

200g crème fraîche

1/2 a vanilla pod, seeds scraped out from pod (the pod itself has a lot of flavour; don’t throw it away, but add it to your sugar jar to infuse the sugar with a hint of vanilla)

2 hands of raspberries (or any other fresh berries)

some chopped mint leaves (optional)

Heat your oven to 120 C fan. Separate the eggs. Add your 4 egg whites and a pinch of salt to your bowl and start whisking with an electric hand whisker/kitchen aid (whatever you have) on medium speed until the egg whites for stiff peaks. Now, continue whisking the whites on the highest speed, adding one tablespoon of sugar at a time until the sugar is gone. Your goal is to have a shiny and smooth mixture that has a perlmutt color. Fold in your chopped pistachios. Take a piping bag (or a freezer bag with one end cut off) and fill in the mixture and slowly pipe little swirls onto a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. The mixture should make about 10-12 meringues. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes until the meringues are crisp on the outside, but still a bit bouncy. Take out of the oven to cool. In the meantime, mix your crème fraîche with some vanilla and wash your berries. Arrange the cooled-off meringues, berries, and crème on a plate, potentially sprinkle with mint leaves, and simply eat.

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