In May/June we combined several planned trips into one big trip…a cycling tour along the Elbe River in Germany, from Dresden to Magdeburg; visiting some family history sites in Magdeburg and Berlin; a scenic train journey in Norway from Oslo to Bergen; and (finally it worked) a layover in Reykjavik, Iceland courtesy of IcelandAir.
Gnocchi, light soft little dumplings, is one of those things that can either be exceedingly good, or really bad (or at least unexceptional). I used to buy dried gnocchi from Trader Joe’s and thought they were pretty good…until I had some homemade gnocchi, and realized that what I’d been buying were much too heavy and dense. Good potato gnocchi will have just enough substance to have a little bite to them, but still be light and fluffy.
Christmas and the holidays for me now are nearly entirely about the food, and a fine German stollen is something I look forward to. Buttery, jammed with fruit and marzipan, and with a whiff of spirits, to me it puts what other people make and call fruitcake to shame (except my mom’s, of course :-)). For the last 15 years or so I looked forward to buying fresh stollen from a fine German bakery near me, but alas, they closed in mid-2017, and it was time to start making my own.
In November we returned to Argentina, to the northwestern provinces of Jujuy and Salta. Primarily a birding trip, it also gave us the opportunity to enjoy Argentine food outside of the big cities, and especially to sample more Argentine wine, including the fine white Torrontés. Continue reading
For almost two years now, I’ve been working my way through a wonderful bread cookbook, Bien Cuit: The Art of Bread, by Zachary Golper. My intent was to work through it completely … and I haven’t quite made it through … because frankly I’ve had enough time to figure out what my favorites are, and I keep returning to those. So someday I’ll finish the book, but in the meantime, here’s my review.
There is something so inherently satisfying about a good empanada, which I’m used to thinking of as a single-serving delicious turnover with either a savory or a sweet filling. We’ve enjoyed these throughout South America (most notably in Chile and Argentina), as well as in Mexico. On a recent cycling trip in Galicia, Spain, though, we were introduced to the empanada gallega, a single larger “pie” that is then cut into wedges or squares. Continue reading
This June we found ourselves back in Spain by way of Lisbon, Portugal. And once again, we enjoyed old favorites and discovered some new (to us) dishes – a few of which I’m working on making at home already! Highlights definitely include the delectable Pastéis de Nata (or Pastéis de Belém) egg custard tarts in Lisbon; octopus (pulpo) either grilled or in salads (why, oh why can’t I buy octopus at home…); jamón ibérico and its beef counterpart, cecina; wood-grilled cabrito (baby goat); empanada gallega, a larger format empanada with fish (or meat) and vegetables, sliced into squares; paella; and the superb cabrales blue cheese from Asturias. We also enjoyed our fair share of more basic but well prepared fare, including a variety of fried fish croquetas, pechuga empanada (pan-fried chicken schnitzel), and even chorizo and eggs for dinner.
Increasingly when we travel, I like to try to get to a cooking class. But I haven’t done much of that when at home. So several months ago I went to a cooking class, called a “puff pastry primer”, at the local community college. I was hoping the class would be about making puff pastry and that I could get a few tips on improving my technique, but it turned out to be things to do with store-bought puff pastry. (Throwing it out wasn’t one of the options. 🙂 ) So while the class was kind of a bust for me, one good thing that did come out of it was watching the instructor make a big showy “wellington”. Continue reading
We recently returned from nearly a month in central and southern Chile for cycling, birding, and enjoying the local wines and cuisine. The empanada is as ubiquitous in Chile as it is in Argentina, both fried and al horno (baked). And the Chileans, of course, say theirs are the best.
I’ve used different doughs for making empanadas, including buttery doughs and standard pie crusts, and while they were good, I knew they could be better. After scouting around for recipes, I reluctantly concluded that I would have to try making them with lard. I know … eeew … I have never, ever bought lard in my life and truly didn’t want to start. But I have to say, I’m glad I did, at least for this dough. The result was light and flaky, and actually when you consider how much lard is in a batch of dough, eating one or two empanadas isn’t *that* bad for you … depending on your filling.