Wood Stove Cooking and Romantic Candle Light Dinners

Wood Stove Cooking and Romantic Candle Light Dinners

Trying to cope with Hurricane Sandy’s Recovery

I can truly say we are fortunate to have this wood stove. It has kept us warm and we were able to cook on it, too. You might laugh, but in these trying times, we had some romantic candle light dinners.  Before I write anything else I want to thank everyone including my friends and family members for all the well wishes we have received during and after Hurricane Sandy. For all of you who didn’t read my last post about the hurricane recovery with rice pudding this one is a follow up.

Cooking on a wood stove

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

Waking up at 45 degrees Fahrenheit ( 7 degrees Celsius) in the house is no fun, but heating up the wood stove and boiling water for coffee is energizing. Adding scrambled eggs and bacon (it’s actually amazing that I was able to make that on the wood stove) and the breakfast became the highlight of the day. When I would usually gobble down my breakfast in minutes I would enjoy this meal like a Michelin style food.  Of course at one point the refrigerator became empty and the famous peanut butter sandwich would do just fine.

Cooking breakfast on a wood stove

The Good Old Peanut Butter Jelly Sandwich

Oh – So – Romantic Candle Light Dinners

Don’t get me wrong, I do love romantic candle light dinners. Doing everything with candle light becomes tedious. You know – leaving one room to go to another and not taking the candle with you is agonizing. Hey, what am I complaining about, there are people in this world who have it much worse. In short I really did enjoy my candle light dinners albeit my cooking preparation and the cooking had to be done before dawn. Not an easy task considering that cooking on the wood stove takes 2-3 times as long as on a regular stove. These type of wood stoves are not really designed to cook on. Nonetheless, it was the only heat source we had and the food in the refrigerator was  in jeopardy of spoiling, since we had no power. In the end it was fun to eat at candle light.

Candle Light Dinner during Hurricane Sandy Recovery

During these 14 days I cooked everything from spaghetti with tomato basil butter sauce, rice pudding, Lentil soup, grilled jerk marinated chicken just to name a few.

One thing I must say the slow cooking on the wood stove really made most dishes come out absolutely delicious. As a chef I always race to get things done, not so on the wood stove. It takes a bit of time for the food to cook.

Candle Light Dinner during Hurricane Sandy Recovery

So one of my dishes I cooked during this time was a seared codfish with beans and boiled potatoes. I enjoyed this dish so much it’s probably because of the situation we were in. The flavors of the dish were so sweet in a sense that I could have eaten it all night long. I guess it was because I cooked the fish first and used the same pan for the sauce.  Again the temperature of the stove was important too. It sort of cooked it in slow motion and came out succulent and tender. (If I may say so)

Sauteed Codfish with Thyme Tomato Beer Sauce

Recipe Type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Author: Kraemer’s Culinary Blog
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • Codfish filets
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • 1.5 cup of flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • Thyme Tomato Beer Sauce
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced
  • ½ pint cherry tomatoes
  • 10 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
  • 0.5 cup beer
  • 1-2 oz Ketchup
  • Vegetable stock as needed
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Olive Oil for sauteing
Instructions
  1. Wash and clean codfish filets.
  2. Season with plenty of lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  3. Dust filets with flour.
  4. In a large heavy bottom pan heat olive oil over medium heat until hot.
  5. Place codfish filets carefully in pan and sear both sides for about 4 – 5 minutes each.
  6. The thicker the filet the longer they need to cook. Codfish fillets are done when segments become flaky and easy to pull apart.
  7. Remove filets from pan and keep warm.
Thyme Tomato Beer Sauce
  1. Add all other ingredients to the same pan. Do not rinse pan since you want to keep all those good flavors in the pan.
  2. Add a little olive oil if necessary.
  3. Once vegetables are half way cooked add 0.5 cup of beer (lager is fine) and an oz or 2 ketchup.
  4. Add a little vegetable stock and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Reduce liquid slightly and serve.
  6. Serve Codfish with your choice of rice or potatoes and veggies. Enjoy

 

One thing for sure – a hurricane brings people together, whether its family or neighbors. And very often the romantic candle light dinners turned out to be quiet relaxing.

I do have to say; this experience has brought me closer to nature. It has taught me to be more conservative with my resources and to respect the environment I live in.

Have you had any dramatic live changing events due to Natural Disasters?

How did you cope with that?

Do you like slow cooking methods?

 

Matjes with Dill Sour Cream & Bratkartoffeln

Matjes with Dill Sour Cream & Bratkartoffeln

During my trip through Germany I had the pleasure of eating all my favorite foods again. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I always have a field trip when I visit my homeland. I guess it’s with everyone else the same, too.  Visiting my family made it even better, since everyone wanted to cook for me. (Lucky me) From vanilla rice pudding, Salmon baked in foil to Matjes with Bratkartoffeln (sautéed potatoes) and not to forget – plum cake with whipped cream – I was the lucky son. And my mother was the happiest of all of them. Since she get to see me only every 2 or 3 years it’s kind of tough for her and my dad. Nonetheless, in the first week we visited the Oktoberfest Kirmes. That fair was a lot of fun and you can see this post by following the link.

Matjes with Dill Sour Cream & Bratkartoffeln

Matjes with Dill Sour Cream & Bratkartoffeln

A New Culinary Trend

However what I really wanted to do in my hometown was to eat true German cuisine. Guess what, these type of restaurants are slowly dying out and being replaced by American or Italian themed chain restaurants. It’s kind of sad, but what can I do? So I cooked my own German food, as simple as this. The old rustic pub with well-known German cuisine is hard to find in its own country. Because young generations are being influenced by guess what? By American food culture. I’m not saying I don’t like American food culture, it’s just new to me to see that kind of change in Germany. To be quite honest I think American food trends are the most versatile and amazing ones in the world since we have the most cultures living and eating together. I guess that’s what happening in Germany, too.

Matjes Filets

Matjes Filets

Matjes or Herring?

In this post I featured matjes filets and I can truly say it’s one of my favorite German recipes. The difference between matjes and herring is; the first is the younger and more delicate fish that has not yet spammed. Herring is the older fish, but just as tasty. Both are very popular in Germany as they are here in the USA. Although they are fished mainly around May they are eaten all year round. Matjes or herring are preserved in a number of different ways, ranging from pickled, baked to smoked. Matjes is also called soused herring, which comes from the Netherlands and is brinned in a mild vinegar solution. The famous roll mops is a rolled up herring and pickled in an oil, vinegar, onion brine. It’s the right food before or after a beer (s).

Matjes with Dill Sour Cream

Matjes with Dill Sour Cream

How to make Bratkartoffeln (Sauteed Potatoes)

The matjes recipe below is featured with Bratkartoffeln, which are sautéed potatoes. Bratkartoffeln are very famous in Germany and very often served at any time of the day. If you don’t like your matjes with Bratkartoffeln (sautéed potatoes) it can be served with a variety of potato dishes. However, the most famous potato side dish is the boiled potato with parsley & butter. Matjes can also be served with bread.

Bratkartoffeln (Sauteed potatoes)

Bratkartoffeln (Sauteed potatoes)

Many cooks “dump” their potatoes in a fryer. That’s the easy way out. However, sautéed potatoes will always taste better. So take the time and saute them. See recipe for instructions

Matjes salad with bratkartoffeln (herring stip)

Matjes salad with bratkartoffeln (herring stip)

 

 

Matjes with Dill Sourcream & Bratkartoffeln

Recipe Type: entrée, Seafood, Salad
Cuisine: German
Author: Kraemer’s Culinary Blog
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 8 Matjes / herring filets, cut in 1 inch pieces
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced in half rings
  • 1 large Granny Smith Apple, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped dill pickles
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped dill
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped chives
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 0.5 cup mayonnaise
  • 2-3 tbsp brine from the dill pickles
  • 1 tsp horseradish
  • 8-10 potatoes, boiled with skin on
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 0.5 cup vegetable oil (such as peanut oil for frying)
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
Instructions
  1. Mix yogurt, sour cream, mayonnaise, horseradish and the brine.
  2. Add all other ingredients and let marinate for an hour.
  3. Peel potatoes ones they are cooled out. Quarter each potato and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. If potatoes are small cut them in half.
  4. In a large frying pan heat oil on high heat.
  5. When oil is just before its smoke point add the potatoes.
  6. Do not overfill the pan or potatoes will not brown and stick to pan. Stir potatoes every once in a while.
  7. When potatoes begin to brown add onions. Do not burn onions.
  8. Potatoes are ready when all sides have a golden color.
  9. Potatoes need to be stirred frequently after they start to take on color. Avoid burning.
  10. Add chopped parsley at the end.
  11. Serve immediately with matjes salad.
Notes

Tip: It is very important that the oil is very hot to sauté the potatoes, otherwise the potatoes will stick to the pan.

It is essential that the potatoes are boiled with the skin on before being sautéed.
That in turn will seal in the flavor as well as the starch for density.

Use an oil that can take a lot of heat and your potatoes will taste better. I prefer peanut butter oil, which is great for high temperatures, doesn’t over power the food, yet actually compliments it.

 

What are your thoughts on this?

Have you had matjes yet?

Did you know Bratkartoffeln is an art in Germany? Let me know if you had your experience with them?

What’s your Favorite German dish?

What’s happening when you visit your homeland? Do you enjoy it?

 

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Slow roasted salmon with curry mushroom sauce

Slow roasted salmon with curry mushroom sauce

A starch free dish – no rice or potatoes. Yes, that’s what seems to work to lose those unwanted pounds. At least for my wife. She feels good after a light dish such as this one, but I have to be honest, I added some mashed potatoes to mine. I love my potatoes, however I would like to devote this recipe to all those who want to keep their weight in check.

The three main ingredients are one of my favorite: Salmon, mushrooms and spinach. I know they are very popular and probably over used. However, this recipe is really simple and just plain delicious. Well, at least that’s what my wife said.

One particular spice I love to incorporate with the mushrooms is curry. Not too much because I don’t want to overpower the dish. You’ll be surprised how well it works.

The salmon is slow roasted at about 260° degrees for about 18-20 minutes. Usually salmon cooks in about 12 minutes at 350° degrees.

Slow roasted salmon with curry mushroom sauce

Slow roasted salmon with curry mushroom sauce

I used baby bella mushrooms also known as crimini mushrooms. However, use any mushrooms you like.  Oyster mushrooms are one of my favorite and would work perfect with this recipe, but these mushrooms are not always readily available in supermarkets.

Sauteed mushrooms and onions

Sautéed mushrooms and onions

I cooked the spinach the traditional way, with 3 key ingredients: butter, garlic and onions. You can never go wrong. Although, if the onions are not cooked long enough the spinach is not coming out as good as you would like it. Perfectly cooked onions – that’s when they’re translucent and buttery soft – bring a beautiful sweetness to the dish. I call it simply: the “love” you taste.

Sauteed spinach

Sautéed spinach

Slow roasted salmon with curry mushroom sauce
Recipe Type: Entree
Author: Kraemers Culinary Blog
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 35 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 x 5 oz slices of salmon
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • The leaves of 4 twigs of thyme
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Ingredients for spinach:
  • 1.5 lb baby spinach
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • Salt and Pepper
  • A hint of nutmeg
  • Ingredients for mushrooms:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 lb baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1.5 onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp curry
  • 1/3 cup of dry white wine
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 Red bell pepper, finely diced and 8 thin slices
Instructions
  1. Brush salmon with olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt, pepper and the thyme leaves.
  2. When salmon reached room temperature, place in 260 degree preheated oven and cook for 18 minutes. Let it rest for 2 minutes before serving.
  3. For the Spinach: Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat, add onions and sauté until translucent.
  4. Add garlic, keep sautéing for 1 more minute.
  5. Carefully put the spinach into the pan. It might seem a lot of spinach at first, but it will quickly wilt. Turn up heat slightly and sauté for about 3 more minutes.
  6. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.
  7. For the Mushrooms: Heat olive oil over medium heat in a saute pan.
  8. Saute garlic until lightly brown.
  9. Add onions, sauté until almost translucent.
  10. Turn up heat, wait until pan becomes sizzling hot.
  11. Add mushrooms and curry, sauté for 3 more minutes.
  12. Season lightly with salt, pepper and parsley.
  13. Deglaze with wine, reduce liquid to half and serve as soon as possible
  14. To assemble, place a spoonful of spinach near the center of plate. Carefully rest the salmon half way over the spinach and pour mushrooms over the salmon. Spoon a little sauce around the salmon and decorate with red bell pepper.
Notes

Tip: If you prefer the salmon well done (dry), roast it for 5-7 minutes longer.

Try not to over cook the spinach. Once the leaves look wet and wilted it’s ready. The longer you cook spinach the less you have left.

If you don’t like to add butter to the spinach because of the high calorie count, use vegetable broth instead.

😉 The quickest way to cook this dish: While the salmon is roasting prepare the spinach and mushrooms. That way you can assemble the dish once the salmon is ready.

For the white wine I recommend a dry Riesling. Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio might work too.

If you prefer your salmon a little spicier, simply sprinkle a few pepper flakes on it before roasting it.

Slow roasted salmon

Slow roasted salmon

Have you ever tried curry with your mushrooms? Let me know. Did you like it? Leave a comment below.

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Grilled Diver Scallops with Grilled Veggies

Grilled Diver Scallops with Grilled Veggies

Scallops are one of my favorite seafood. They will adapt to most flavors you will use them for. Scallops can be grilled, sautéed, roasted or even poached. The varieties to prepare scallops are endless. When purchasing scallops make sure to buy from a reputable seafood market and ask for their heritage. The last thing you want are scallops, which have traveled all over the world. Ask for scallops harvested from American coastlines. Most seafood markets have already removed the scallops from there beautiful pinkish shell.

There are two types of scallops: bay and sea scallops. Bay scallops are much smaller and very often used over salads. Sea scallops are much bigger and “meatier”. The latter one is most often used for appetizers and entrees. And then there is the diver scallop; also a sea scallop, which I used in this recipe. As the name implies, they are harvested by divers compared to the conventional method by boat, where the net is dragged behind it. In my opinion diver scallops are caught in the most sustainable way, since only the biggest scallops are being caught.

Grilled Diver Scallops with Grilled Veggies

Grilled Diver Scallops with Grilled Veggies

There are many recipes when scallops are wrapped in bacon or prosciutto. There is a reason for that.  Since scallops are almost fat-free it is a good idea to wrap them in bacon or similar. Not only will the scallops be juiciest, they will also absorb all flavors. So if you love bacon, go ahead and wrap the scallops in it. However, I wanted to keep this recipe meat-less so I wrapped scallions around the scallops and served them with a sun-dried tomato mayonnaise. The fat content of the mayonnaise will balance nicely with the almost fat-free scallops. Though keep in mind not to over cook them. I paired the grilled diver scallops with grilled veggies and sun-dried tomato mayo.

Grilled Diver Scallops with Grilled Vegetables
Recipe Type: Entrée
Author: Kraemer’s Culinary Blog
Prep time: 45 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 1 hour
Serves: 4
This is an ideal recipe for a backyard barbecue. Very easy to prepare and to cook.
Ingredients
  • 8 Diver Scallops (Cleaned)
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • Grilled Vegetables:
  • 1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 yellow squash, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 eggplant, sliced lengthwise, than cut in half
  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms (crimini)
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 6 oz red pearl onions, peeled
  • 1/2 cup Olive oil,
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
  • Salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl mix lime juice with garlic, olive oil. Add scallops, toss gently and marinate for 10 minutes. Then wipe off excess marinade and set a side.
  2. Cut the ends and the roots of scallions.
  3. Bring a quart of water to a boil and simmer scallions until soft, about 2 minutes.
  4. Wrap one scallion around one scallop and tie with a double knot. Repeat process with all other scallops.
  5. Marinate all vegetables with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, salt, pepper and toss until all vegetables coated with the marinade. You might have to add more olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  6. Place vegetables on a hot grill and cook 3-4 minutes on each side.
  7. When grilling the scallops it is important that the grill is absolutely clean and very hot. Grill scallops for about 1.5 – 2 minutes on both sides and serve with grilled vegetables and sun-dried tomato mayo.
Notes

Wine Pairing: I would recommend Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon blanc to this dish.

How do you like your scallops prepared. Grilled, seared or maybe poached. Leave a message

 

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Baked Spicy Tilapia with Thyme Garlic Sauce

Baked Spicy Tilapia with Thyme Garlic Sauce

 

 

 

This recipe is for those guys who never have time to put a dish on the table, myself included. I should have created a blog with dishes under 20 minutes. At least once a week I scramble and think what can I cook in less than 25 minutes. However, I love to cook really nice dishes, too. Those of course take far longer to cook, but are a lot more enjoyable.

The following dish is served without starches, since my wife is cutting down on starchy foods like rice and potatoes. Here we have a tilapia filet which is marinated with a few spices, placed over lightly blanched vegetables & baked for about 12 minutes in the oven at 375 degrees. That’s it. The best part is that the vegetables absorb all the good juices and flavors of the fish.

talapia recipe

 

Baked Spicy Tilapia with Thyme Garlic Sauce
Recipe Type: Entree
Author: Kraemer’s Culinary Blog
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 30 mins
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 tilapia filets, cleaned
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt & pepper
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 4 carrots, peeled & diced
  • 1 broccoli reansed & cut in small florets
  • 1 red bell pepper, cleaned & diced
Instructions
  1. Marinate tilapia filets with all spices and olive oil, set a site.
  2. Blanch or steam all vegetables for about 2-3 minutes. Vegetables should slightly undercooked. Carrots need a little longer unless you like them crunchy.
  3. Scoop vegetables in the center of a Pyrex dish or any heat resistant oven pan.
  4. Place raw fish on top of the vegetables.
  5. Bake for about 10 minutes and add butter atop the fish.
  6. Bake tilapia for another 2-3 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven. Let rest one more minute and serve immediately.
Notes

If you don’t have the time to peel and cook the vegetables simply use a bag of vegetables bought from a supermarket. Birdseye actually sells vegetables that can be cooked in the bag in the microwave oven. Just make sure to under cook the vegetables otherwise they will dry out in the oven.

 

Baked Spicy Tilapia

Baked Spicy Tilapia
I didn’t really wanted to add this post because the recipe is nothing spectacular. However, due to its simplicity and flavor I decided to add it. Hopefully there are people like me who don’t always have the time to cook, which might be inspired by its simplicity.

Have you been in the same situation, with no time to cook. What did you do?

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