Chocolate Hedgehogs

A treat from my childhood

background story, worth reading.

I’m a middle-of-the-summer child. Consequently, my birthdays have always been within the summer vacays – school, university, theatre – and all my friends were usually oot and aboot (whenever I write that phrase, there is a little Rose Tyler in my head mocking the Scottish accent in Tooth and Claw, NewWhoS2E2), travelling the world while I was stuck in real-life farmville. My brother’s birthday on the other hand is in November. Same day as Boris Becker, who once was less of a media person and more of a very passionate and successful tennis player and since my whole family played tennis (although less successful) that was such a neat thing to have in common. I share my birthday with Ginger Spice but I wasn’t (allowed to be) such a big fan of the Spice Girls so definitely felt a sting of jealousy that he got a childhood hero both my parents approved of and I didn’t. -Especially since it’s a rare thing they shared the same opinion on something! And yeah, his classmates sang a tone-deaf happy birthday on his special day and if he had ever pursued a career in managing an orchestra, I bet he’d gotten a professionally played symphonic rendition of the worldwide classic, too. Not for me. Spielzeitpause.

I don’t wanna complain [she said after complaining for a whole paragraph] – I had bbqs, camp fire and everything outdoor. My two long-time boyfriends had their birthdays #1 on the day after and #2 on the day after the day after my birthday. This way, we could celebrate together. Not the reason I picked them. But I guess I gotta follow the pattern. Handsome, nice, smart single men out there – if your birthday is on August 9th, you might be the lucky one, and next in line XoXo :-*

However, one major thing my brother got and I didn’t – we’re slowly approaching the recipe y’all waiting for – were chocolate hedgehogs, one of my Mum’s specialties. “They melt in the summer, it’s too hot, you can’t have them” she would say, and add: “But Per will share them when it’s his birthday” and of course, his birthday came and the chocolate hedgehogs looked so yummy and squeaked EATMEEATME and my brother, being a proper big brother ergo being mean to his little sister would be like “You gotta be nice to me all day, they are MINE and if you don’t do what I tell you you won’t get any.” Imagine grumpy cat even grumpier. That’s me just remembering this.

How the tables have turned – and our lives upside down, or rather, down under, where my brother lives now. And guess what – it’s too hot in November to make ornamented chocolate desserts! Hah!! Rache ist süß, and so are these tasty treats, oh sweet revenge, does it sting yet, big brother, does it?

Obviously, I made them, here, for his first birthday abroad. And sent him a picture and told him I was gonna eat’em all. And therefore, this recipe is dedicated to all little sisters out there who were ripped of a sweet treat simply because they were born in the wrong season….

The Recipe

Step 1 – Basic Stuff

Knead 160g plain flour, 60g white sugar, a pinch of salt, 100g butter to a smooth dough and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. Roll out and cut out 12 hedgehog bases. I made a cardboard template, similar to a raindrop and appr. 9cm long and 7cm wide. Bake in the preheated oven (190°C) for about 10 minutes, then take them out and let them cool on a cookie rack.

Step 2 – Filling Part I

Crumble a (storebought) sponge cake base. Heat up 50g white sugar and 3tbsp water on the stove. Add 2cl Rum and pour the liquid over the crumbs. Mix and mingle and let it soak for at least 30 minutes.

Step 3 – Filling Part II

Whisk 3tbsp milk, 1 bag of cream pudding (not sure what exactly that is in English – the German is Sahnepudding but chocolate pudding should be fine, too. The chocolater, the better, as they say!) and 2 eggyolks. Boil 500ml milk with 150g sugar, add the pudding mixture, let it boil up again while stirring and then keep stirring till it has cooled down a little. Whisk 150g butter until frothy and add it spoon by spoon – or, as a very innocent Julia once thought was the correct verb, spoon it, which definitely means nothing else than transporting food with a spoon from A to B, A and B preferably being bowl and mouth. Pour the whole thing over the sponge cake crumb mixture, add some ground cinnamon and ginger and let it cool down completely.

Step 4 – Hedgehogging

This is a literal translation from the original recipe: place the filling on the hedgehog bases and carefully mold it into hedgehog shape. That’s all it says. Like, any advice on how to? My experience is that its best to put a tablespoon of filling onto each cookie and if there is any left, distribute equally. Take a teaspoon and mold it into a sorta smooth round shape with the back of the spoon.

Step 5 – Cover your traces and spike it up

Liquefy 350g dark bitter chocolate glazing in a water bath. Have 40g almond slivers ready. Now comes the tricky part. The glazing dries up incredibly quickly, so you gotta be incredibly fast in covering your hedgehog fillings and spiking it with almond slivers. If I were you, I would cover half a hedgehog and spike it and then do the other half because that stuff dries up sooooo quickly, it gets incredibly frustrating when the almond needle cracks up your chocolate glaze. Once you’re happy with the amount of hedgehog spines, transfer your little treats to a cool place where they will last several days. Theoretically. Usually, they don’t live that long for other reasons. Omnomnom.

Reviews from people I shared them with (not my brother, obviously): “I only wanted to have a bite but it was so tasty, I couldn’t help myself and ate it in one go” / “they are so ornate” / “they looked and tasted simply wonderful” Five Stars all around ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Happy Birthday 🎶 to my brother Down Under, a belated Happy Birthday 🎶 to me, and generally plenty of Oh Happy Days 🎶 to all of us.


Autumn Kitchen: Pumpkin Waffles

It’s November, the month of ghastly weather: Yesterday, Oct 31st was an unusually golden, sunny, warm autumn day. Today, November 1st it’s all wind and rain, a friendly reminder what the next couple of weeks are gonna be like. 

Perfect time to snuggle up, drink tea, and watch the raindrops roll down the windows while an Erik Satie piano piece is playing. Welcome to your YA indie movie. It’s the season of long autumn walks in colourful forests, a yellowredorangebrown palette in nature and on our plates: Pumpkins, pears, walnuts. Comfort food to fall for. And due to Covid lockdown #2 in Germany, starting tomorrow, restaurants will be closed for business. Ergo it’s once more the time to cook and finally try out all these recipes that are piling up, those torn-out pages from magazines that have been on my to-cook-list forever.

Most of the times, my recipes are successes but of course even I have fuck ups now and then. Just the other week, the one and only (!) Jay-Z aka Johannes Zimmermann came by and we tried vegan sweet potato pancakes. Clear kitchen fail. Great taste but more of a pan-fried unidentifiable mush than pancakes. Well, at least we had a good laugh. And it did taste good. The side veggies, baby spinach sautéed with pine nuts and raisins, however was an absolute winner and I decided to combine it with my next autumn treat:

Pumpkin potato waffles with pear-ginger-chutney

And that one was GOOD so I’m sharing it. For your own interest: Read until the whole recipe before getting started. If you don‘t, the waffles will be cold by the time the spinach is ready.

For the waffles you’ll need 100g grated potatoes, 1 onion, 400g grated hokkaido (no need to peel it first but to remove the seeds), 2 eggs, 2 tbsp starch, 2 tbsp flour, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mix everything together in a bowl. Take a coated pan, heat up some oil to hot but not full heat and place two big spoons of dough into it and press it down into a flatbread sort of shape. Fry it for a couple of minutes, flip it and repeat on the other side till both sides are golden brown.

The chutney (which is more of a compote but chutney sounds fancier) requires 2 tbsp vinegar and 1 tbsp sugar heated up on the stove. Once the sugar has dissolved and the liquid is boiling, add 4 chopped up pears (as chunky or small as you like it), a girl’s thumb sized peace of ginger, peeled and chopped, and lemon zest and juice from half a lemon. Let simmer on low to medium heat for about 20 minutes.

The spinach is basically self-explanatory. As soon as the voluminous pile of leaves has shrunken to a sad green small heap, add a handful of pine nuts and a handful of raisins. Fry and stir. Add some salt and pepper and let the ingredients do the rest.

A healthy, vegetarian, colourful dish sure to warm you up from nasty weather.

Buon APEtito!

Buon Giorno!

Mi chiamo Julia e sono tedesca. Habito a Friburgo e non parlo italiano which is why that’s it with the Italian and back to English. Even though it is such a beautiful language and I’ve been meaning to learn it for a long time and actually started once and was quite decent two summers ago, like Duolingo owl proud good (I didn’t use Duolingo. I hate Duolingo. Shoo, shoo, you annoying fowl, nobody, and I repeat, nobody needs your pseudo-motivation spam mails or your useless repetitive sentence clusters). But then life happened and time passed and I forgot almost everything, except for a) see above, b) ma non si sveglia, è morte, because I had a Lernkrimi, a crime novel study book, and that poor woman didn’t wake up for she had been brutally murdered and c) a few opera excerpts which are not exactly eligible for small talk either. Such a b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l language though, isn’t it? All those vowels, the overdramatic accompanying gestures, the R (which I can‘t roll properly) – even the most boring stuff sounds nice in Italian. Passare l’aspirapolvere. To vacuum. I mean, come on. No wonder all Italian women are so much into domestic duties. (KIDDING!!!!).

I love the country as much as the language and I yet have to find a place in Italy I don’t like. Tuscany I know best, I would say, and my little insider’s tip there is called Castagneto Carducci, preferably in one of Eva’s casettas. The first night the last time I went, I sat there with a glass of red wine, fireflies were all around, I could hear the boars shuffle in search for food in the forest nearby and suddenly the town band started playing Bella Ciao and you could see the city lights glistening in the clear nightsky. And I definitely fell in love with the Amalfi coast and was gonna write a lot about it, as I proudly announced here, and then the same life happened and the same time passed that let me forget all my Italian, and prevented me from telling you about my adventures in Scala, Amalfi, and Ravello. Damn, I really need to do that one of these days. Until then, I have good news for all Freiburg Italian food lovers – I found it! The best pizza in Green City. So let’s set the mood.

Italian cuisine is the most famous and beloved cuisine in the world for a reason. Accessible, comforting, seemingly simple but endlessly delicious, it never disappoints, just as it seems to never change. It would be easy to give you, dear reader, a book filled with the al dente images of the Italy of your imagination. 

Matt Goulding in: Pasta, Pane, Vino: Deep Travels Through Italy‘s Food Culture

It’s fair to say that Freiburg has some decent Italian restaurants to go (to (in brackets, because right now they are all to go or not opened at all)) – among my favourites is Primo Market, where you sit right in the middle of a supermarket and il maestro comes to your table with a hand-written menu and rattles through it in both German and Italian and you understand neither. But it doesn’t matter what you order, for the food tastes amazing and I recommend to share a Pizza for starters and then each have a pasta dish, preferably one of their seafood options. Quite nearby you find Pulcinella, a tiny busy homely place with walls painted in bright pink. I’m not sure if it is true, but rumour has it that the owner was once quite close to the owner of Primo Market and then Italian drama happened and therefore, I have two places to go to. Primo Market wins Pizza-wise by a mere margin and I haven’t had any pasta or seafood at Pulcinella yet so it’s a close head-to-head with Primo Market first, as it is already in the name. Then there’s Pinocchio, near my favourite boulder hall Boulderkitchen (I miss bouldering. I’m gonna have to start all over again with my confidence and height trust exercises once they are finally allowed to reopen. And pizza after a nice exhausting and exhilarating bouldering session tastes all the better!). The entrance in itself is already an olfactory adventure as the restaurant is located above a car dealer so the first thing you smell is the unique odor of new tires and rubber. Ascending the stairs, you’re suddenly enveloped by that mouthwatering Italian ristorante smell. The food is descent, no culinary revelation but a throughout satisfying experience. Ugh. That sounds more mediocre than intended. It’s not! It really is a great restaurant, it just can’t quite compete with the others.

What I dearly missed so far was a place where they make a proper Neapolitan style pizza which, within the pizza fashion industry, is my absolute favourite. To let the experts speak:

Pizza as we know it didn’t hit the streets of Naples until the seventeenth century, when Old World tomato and, eventually, cheese, but the foundations were forged in the fires of Pompeii, where archaeologists have discovered 2,000-year-old ovens of the same size and shape as the modern wood-burning oven. Sheep’s- and cow’s-milk cheeses sold in the daily markets of ancient Rome were crude precursors of pecorino and Parmesan, cheeses that literally and figuratively hold vast swaths of Italian cuisine together. Olives and wine were fundamental for rich and poor alike.” 

Matt Goulding in: Pasta, Pane, Vino: Deep Travels Through Italy‘s Food Culture

I have the weird habit of always cutting off and eating the crust first and then from there work my way into the centre. With a perfect Neapolitan pizza, I don’t – because a perfect Neapolitan pizza has a perfect crust; crispy outside, soft and airy inside, and full of flavour. And you know what? I found it. By accident, really. I followed this guy on instagram after an orchestra project in Greece last summer, and because he followed them they were suggested to me and curious as I am, I visited their account and found Strombolicchio. A mobile pizza station built into an Ape, that famous Italian mini-lorry on three wheels. And their pizza looked so tasty and right I knew I had to try find them but then always found out about their selling points after they were already done and gone. So I send them a message and shortly afterwards, they proudly announced a regular spot once a week. Yay! But then the first week I was sick, the second they had to cancel because of bad weather, the third I was busy, and then Corona happened and they lost their spot. So close, and yet so out of reach! Was it fate? Was I simply never supposed to enjoy the pleasures of what seemed to be the real deal? Che cazzo (another, and, for a change, useful expression I remember and learned back Birmingham, UK, when my Italian roommate and surrogate Mamma hit her foot on the stairs when she went to the bathroom in the middle of the night and gave a thorough account of Italian profanities that woke us all up thanks to the intensity of swearing and the paperthin walls), oh cruel fate!!!!

Me agonizing about not getting this pizza.

Ma no – eventually, fate or divine intervention or whatever is up your sleeve played into my favours and this day four weeks ago, I finally was allowed the pleasure of what I hereby declare the best pizza in Freiburg. And the couple who makes them is the loveliest – she’s German, he’s Italian and both are absolutely adorable and I have decided to become friends with them (not for the free pizza. That’ll be just a bonus. The cherry tomato on top of the pizza cake you might say). I’ve been there every Monday since if the weather plays along (sadly, not today, so I made a comfort lasagna instead but I miss that perfect Dean Martin-moon pizza pie amore that has already become an addiction) and because #supportyourlocals and such and I really love them, I spread the word and I am glad that many have already followed my advice and share my enthusiasm. I mean look at these!

Alla Norma with tomato sauce, mozzarella, roasted eggplants, olives, smoked scarmoza, parmesan, oregano, basil
Pina e Leo with tomato sauce, mozzarella, grilled eggplant, sundries tomatoes, oregano, basil

Now imagine what they taste like and wipe that drool off your face! It’s that sort of pizza with which any extra topping is exactly that – an extra; and a pure and simple Napoli or Margharita is enough and that, signore e signori, is a sign of quality. Every bite is a burst of flavour and the crust is exactly as it should be.  It’s a culinary break from life and back to Southern Italy without violating any pandemic-related travelling restrictions. And the pizza prep videos on instagram are pure food porn!

Ecco, andiamo mangiare!

And because I have almost forgotten about it and now have it stuck in my head, here’s the best Pizza song out there.

Petit Déjeuner chez nous

Quarantine = Baking Time. But then any time is baking time and I‘m only self-isolating not quarantining and that was a bad rhyme anyway, a so-called unreiner Reim, and we don’t want no unrein, dirty, contaminated stuff, just everything disinfected and hand-washed often. And I can do better. Give me a second for a better opening rhyme.

There you go:

There was a young lady in isolation

Who dedicated her time to the creation

of lots and lots of baking

and currently in the making

is a French and buttery revelation!

To kill the time in these times where killing the time alone at home kills the pandemic, I set out for a project that requires time and patience en masse: I made Croissants from scratch! Et mon Dieu, c’est magnifique! The secret to a perfectly flaky, tasty pastry, of course, lies in the butter. Anything tastes better with butter. And when you bite into a croissant, you gotta taste it. Every bite must feel like it’s worth all the calories and like a pure act of sin and indulgence. So butter use plenty.

Apart from 250g butter, we also need 25g fresh yeast (hard to get by, I know), 500g all-purpose flour, some more on the side, 125g full-fat milk, a pinch of salt, 200ml cold water, 40g white sugar, an additional 3 tbsp of milk and 1 eggyolk.

If you want fresh croissants for the day after tomorrow you better start baking today. That’s how long it takes. But it’s worth investing the time and patience. Oui, oui!

We start easy by simply getting all ingredients ready and out of the fridge about an hour before we really get going. Butter and yeast should be at room temperature. Mix flour and salt in a bowl. Pour water, milk and sugar in a cup and heat it up in the microwave. Just a tad, not boiling hot. Crumble the yeast into it and stir until its dissolved in the liquid. Make a little dent in the middle of the flour and pour in our creamy yeastfeast. Cover it up with flour, cover the whole thing up with a towel and let it rise for half an hour. Time to do nothing, relax, vacuum the apartment, do the laundry, exercise, check instagram and twitter (very important in times of a pandemic. You really don’t wanna miss out on all the conspiracy theories.).

Ready? Have some water and some flour ready, just in case, and start digging in with your (washed) bare hands and start kneading, adding more and more flour from the outer areas of the bowl until you have a smooth dough ball. If it seems to dry or to wet, add water or flour accordingly. Once you’re happy with the consistence of our dough ball, cover it up again with a towel and let it rise for another half an hour. Time to do any of the previously mentioned tasks or something completely different but this time get back to the kitchen a few minutes early and get the butter, a rolling pin, more flour and some parchment paper ready.

Give the well-risen dough another knead, take it out of the bowl and divide it into four parts. Quarter the butter as well.  Roll out the first dough portion so that it’s about DIN A4-sized. Use plenty of flour while doing so and frequently turn over while rolling. Place a slice of butter in the middle and roll it out until it’s appr. postcard-sized. Now fold in the longer sides of the pastry, then the shorter ones in such a way that they’re overlapping. Wrap it up in cling foil and store it in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Repeat with the other three portions.

*4 hours later*

Unwrap each portion and roll it out lengthwise, again with the aid and add of plenty of flour and plenty of turn-overs. Two things might happen which we don’t want to happen 🙁 the butter breaks. If that happens, just let it warm up to room temperature or let the room warm up, too, and try again. If the dough is too sticky, it’s gotta go back to the fridge for a little longer. If all goes well, we fold it back up, without the long sides (that was just to keep the butter in), just the overlapping shorter sides. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Yes, we’re doing that whole procedure 3-4 times. French Origami for buttery delights and manifold layers of tender flakiness.


After the last roll-out, there’s no fold-in. Instead, we cut each pastry into lengthy triangles and roll each triangle up, starting with the long side. The recipes I found suggested to moisturize the surface before rolling it up so it sticks together but I didn’t and it still stuck. Bend them slightly into croissant shapes and put them on a baking tin lined with parchment paper. Leave a decent amount of space in between for they will rise and shine, and shine even more if you brush them with an eggyolk-milk mixture and put them in the preheated oven at 190°C for 15-20 minutes.

Smells good, doesn’t it?

Das Beste was einem Croissant passieren kann, ist mit einem Stück Butter bestrichen zu werden.

Pablo Tusset

The best croissants, however, don’t need extra butter. They are rich and intense and tender and flaky and tasty and buttery and hey, if you start now, they’re ready just in time for Mother’s Day. So hush, little darlings, and off you go to the kitchen.

Bon appétit!

Ick bin ein Amerikaner.

Despite my great proclamations of being unproductive – and I really am with anything related to actually getting my shit together, I guarantee you that – it seems lockdown finally unleashed the

Intensifies GIF by Pusheen - Find & Share on GIPHY

inside of me and whilst I’m not gonna join the sourdough society, I am doing my fair share of baking and I am willing to share the better results and best recipes with you. As always, feel free to adjust and as always, each and every recipe comes with a story. I’ve read somewhere that food bloggers write such long introductions to make it more difficult (for AI?) to steal their recipes. Well, you may steal mine, I don’t care, I’m here to share, recipes and life stories and what not, unleashing my poet within (who lives right across the street from previously mentioned baker cat, and they get along just fine. Most of us do, in here) and maybe, hopefully, and upmost, for your entertainment. So Allons-y, vamonos, let’s head to the kitchen and travel back to a sweet treat from my childhood, a national treasure even, suitable for Nicolas Cage and really, it should be printed on the US Constitution. In the States, they are known as Harlequins, Half Moons, or Black-and-White-Cookies (editor’s note: they are not cookies), here we’ve got to known and grown to love them as Amerikaner. So I thought since I cannot hang out with my real-life Americans, I’m gonna bake myself some. Others bake their knight in shining armour, or, German idiom, sich seinen Traumprinzen backen, and quick question: why do we bake a prince of all people? So many royal duties. I prefer a knight. Quite more useful when in distress and also he’s gonna be off a lot and I need my independence and alone time. Anyway, I bake new friends to hold and hug while I meet the old ones online. Which tasted amazing and were gone soon enough. The former, not the latter. When we were kids, we always got to choose if we wanted an Amerikaner or a Berliner for coffee. Not that we liked coffee back then, it was usually hot cocoa or tea. Berliner are a some sort of sweet dumpling, fried and filled with jam, and have as many different names as buns or rolls have in English. Don’t order a Berliner in Berlin, that’ll lead to a lot of confusion or you end up with an escort from the capital. In Berlin you order Pfannkuchen, which down here in the south of Germany are the name for pancakes, the lovechild of crêpes and American Pancakes -, elsewhere they’re called Krapfen which is not to be meddled up with Karpfen, because that’s fish and nothing you wanna have coated in sugar and filled with jam. Unless you get the Mardi Gras one with mustard inside. That could go well with carp. Back to the States, though! Amerikaner are called Amerikaner in most of Germany. Apparently, as I learned during a thorough and intense research, that name was a no-go in the GDR (surprisingly), so they referred to them as Ammonplätzchen, where Plätzchen equals cookies and Ammon is short for Ammoniumhydrogencarbonat, some specific baking soda used in the original recipe. Wikipedia says, the name “Amerikaner” either derives from said tongue twisting soda, too, or from the typical WWI Brodie helmet because it resembles its shape. It is also starring in a Seinfeld episode as a metaphor for racial harmony so I say let’s bake in the name of equality and against racism!!

(Includes a manual on how to eat it, too!)

For 8-10 Amerikaner we need:

lots of patriotism, 50g soft butter, a Star Spangled Banner, 40g white sugar, 1/2 package of vanilla sugar, a pinch of salt, 1 egg, 125g plain flour (I usually like to use spelt but I am convinced that this one calls for wheat), 1/2 tbsp of starch, 1/2 package of baking soda (or, I guess, Ammoniumhydrogencarbonat) and 40ml of full fat milk. Which all goes into a bowl and gets whisked up until smooth and gooey. The texture should be less liquid than for example pancake batter but still batter-y and not dough, though.

Eh GIF by Dodo Australia - Find & Share on GIPHY
As I said – not [doʊ doʊ]


If you follow the recipe measure for measure (don‘t be Julia), it should be perfect. Also, have the oven preheated at 180° Celsius. Also, always read the whole recipe from beginning to end first so now you don’t have to wait for the oven to be heated up. With the oven and our batter ready, we take a baking tin, put some parchment paper on it – pro tip: if you put a dash of water in each corner on the baking tin, the paper will stick to it. Parchment paper has a tendency to try and fly and flatter around. You’re welcome. Now, the well-equipped kitchen probably has a piping bag buried under other hardly ever used stuff in a kitchen cabinet drawer somewhere. Go search for it. The less well-equipped kitchen-owner does not need to despair – all it takes is a little plastic bag, like a ziplock bag but without ziplock. Simply put it over a measuring cup and fill the batter into it. Pull up the sides and tie it up with a rubber band. Pull the filled bag out of the measuring cup, tilt it and cut off one of the bottom corners – et voilà, there is your improvised piping bag!

Pipe out 8-10 turds onto the baking tin, like the Maulwurf, der wissen wollte, wer ihm auf den Kopf gemacht hat,

and then bake for 13-15 minutes until golden.

Let them cool on a rack turned over and prepare the icing in the meantime. The traditional Amerikaner is covered half in icing sugar, half in chocolate. Which is how I did it. However, the sugar icing is compulsory and from there you may go anywhere – your imagination is the limit! Especially for or with kids, decorating with gummy bears or Smarties and such is gonna be great fun. If you wanna stick to the basics, you’ll need approximately 150g of icing sugar and 2-3 tbsp lemon juice whisked up. It’s important that the mixture is thick and white before spreading it on one half of each Amerikaner (or all of it if you wanna decorate or have an all-white supremacy). For the black half, take a pan, fill it halfway with water, put a metal bowl in and melt baking chocolate in it and spread it thickly and smoothly. Ideally, you have a brush for that but I’m from the bad-equipped kitchen squad so I used the convex bottom part of a teaspoon and the result leaves no ground for complaint – I definitely have said it in an earlier post: when it comes to cooking and baking, I improvise like a Jazz musician. So let our impro session cool down and dry, and then best eat them the same day or otherwise store them in ziplock bags (with zip this time) in the fridge and they‘ll still be soft and delicious the next day. And that‘s that. 

Hmmmm…. a sugary, highly philosophical treat (according to Jerry Seinfeld)

Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche

….is that title of a satirical masculine cookbook by Bruce Feirstein. And this is a recipe. Not from the book. And counterproductive for all alpha males out there. So everyone with a fragile masculinity should probably stop reading and start on more testosteroic activities – The Manly Art of Knitting should do the trick, another literary gem. Sadly, you will miss out on a delicious springtime dish and that means, there will be more for me, yay! And I prefer betas anyway, less bugs and technical fuck-ups. Usually, a quiche needs three things: a flaky pie crust (which can be bought, but here we’ll DIY), an egg-milk-mixture, and chopped up ingredients of your own choosing.

Alright then, here we go:

For the pastry mix 225g plain flour /125g cold (!) butter, sliced and diced / 1 egg yolk / 1/2 tsp salt together. Have some cold water and some flour ready. Knead knead knead and add water or flour until you get a nice, sticky but not too gooey consistence. Roll it into a ball, wrap it in cling foil and let it chill in the fridge for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/315 Fahrenheit.

In the meantime, peel and boil 6 middle-sized potatoes. Once they’re done, take them out and mash them with a fork. Add some salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Next, we’ll need 300g each of white and green asparagus. Take a big pot (the asparagus should in its length fit in) fill it halfway with water, add a little salt and a piece of butter and get it to boiling. Peel the white asparagus and chop off the rear end. Now depending on the thickness and state of the green asparagus, maybe chop off the end, too, and maybe peel it, too. Green asparagus doesn’t necessarily have to be peeled unless it’s overly hard and wooden on the outer layer. As soon as the water is boiling, put in the white asparagus first and add the green after 1-2 minutes. Close the lid, reduce the temperature to simmering and leave it in there for 5-6 minutes. The asparagus shouldn’t be completely done but it should be significantly softer. Strive for nice and bendy. Take them out of the water, set them aside and let them cool down.

Quiche is like revenge. A dish best served cold.

I lovelovelove asparagus. Spargelzeit = Liebe.

Take the pastry out of the fridge and invite it to a dance: it’s waiting to be waltzed out (I’m aware you can’t say that but in German, we say auswalzen and I kinda like the mental image. Your kitchen work top is the dancefloor and you spread out in all directions.). The pastry should be round(ish) and big enough to cover a greased quiche tin and leave enough for the edge. Slightly press it into the form, take a fork and perforate it.

Spread the potato mashed on top of the base and slightly press it down with a fork. As firm as the ground coffee in a mocha but not as firm as in an espresso machine. Now comes the artsy part. Cut the asparagus in half and slice 100g cooked ham in stripes, approximately as wide and as long as the asparagus. Start on the outside of the inside of the quiche tin and arrange it like this, working yourself towards the centre: a ring of asparagus, followed by a ring of ham, followed by a ring of asparagus and so forth. It should look similar to this. Probably prettier. I’m not good with decorating and arranging food.

Good news is: if it doesn’t look pretty, it doesn’t matter, it’ll be covered anyway in: 100ml cream, 100g sour cream, 2 eggs, 50g grated Parmesan. Whisk all ingredients together and pour that mixture over your culinary craftwork. Sprinkle some grated parmiggiano on top and bake it in the oven for 40 minutes.

Switch the oven off but leave it in for another 5 minutes before taking it out and letting it cool down (ideally) or at least as long as you can resist the irresistible aroma of baked goods. The combination of Quiche dough and mashed potatoes makes it extra flaky and crumbly. Compared to your standard quiche recipe, it tastes less eggy. I love eggs, ut I don’t like it to be the dominant flavour in my quiche. And now: Enjoy! If there are any, store the leftovers in the fridge and have them with a salad on the side the next day for lunch.

Suitable for all sexes and genders.

Wednesday is full of blue blueberries

And because it is Wednesday and I am feeling blue I had another of my famous late night baking session. Today is my Dad’s birthday (or would have been, for that matter) and every year, I try to make something with crumbles, zu Deutsch Streusel. He loved Streuselkuchen, plain and simple – a sweet yeast dough (500g plain flour / 100g white sugar / 300ml milk / 100ml veggie oil, the-answer-to-life-the-universe-and everything grams of fresh yeast, a pinch of salt) topped with crumbles (400g plain flour / 250g white sugar / 250g butter), baked in the oven for appr. 30 min at 180°C. Since I’m not the biggest fan myself, and my Dad’s not around for eating it, I rummaged through my mind and freezer and found a bag of hand-picked blueberries from hiking in the Vosges last summer. Perfect! This recipe has been tried, tested, and approved by my colleagues on 4.1 – and therefore I am happy to share my


First, we need a shortcrust pastry. Easy. 250g plain flour / 100g white sugar / 150g butter / 1 tsp baking powder / 1 egg. Mix and knead (IMPORTANT EDIT: I was today years old when I learned it’s pronounced nIIIIId, not nEd. Pronunciational revelation. A dough needs kneading. Niiiidz Niiiiiding. Nice.) and chill in the fridge. The pastry, not you. No, you get out and go to a symphony concert and listen to Tchaikovsky’s 6th, the Pathétique, and if you feel like shedding some tears because life or because you, too, are feeling a little blue, go for it. That’s what B minor is here for.

I’ll be back before you can say Blueberry pie.

Bruce Willis as Butch Coolidge in Pulp Fiction

Back from our emotional musical intermission, line a greased springform with the pastry (or remember that you threw yours out and use a square Mediterranean clay form instead so the blueberries get to swim with turquoise fish. Mix the following ingredients: 800g low-fat curd (aren’t we healthy!) / 1 pk custard powder (aren’t we lazy!) / 120g brown sugar (aren’t we sweet!) / 3 eggs and some egg liquer (aren’t we eggstravagant!) / and, most importantly frozen or fresh blueberries ad libitum.

Pour our now violently purple (nod to Schube’s for coining this expression in his amazing, hilarious, and very entertaining Potterless-Podcast) mixture into our baking form.

Doesn’t that look fantastic?

Now to the important bit: THE CRUMBLE. Generally, you make them exactly as mentioned above in the basic Streuselkuchen recipe. Oh, fun fact about Streusel: in Colmar, France, there is a tiny little Tarte Flambée restaurant where they have one that says “Pommes Streusel” and of course I know it is basically an apple crumble served on Flammkuchen base but for us Germans, it translates as “French Fry Crumbles” and I find that very amusing. Anyway, let’s get this cake done so no further interruptions! Of course you can just go with the normal Streusel ingredients. Alas, I felt fancy and inventive and I still had some gingerbread cookies left from Christmas and so I crumbled them up, mixed them with flour and melted butter and ta-da: Streusel with a whiff of winter.

Pepperkarka drenched in butter and streuselled up. Oh sweet, sinful indulgence!

After sprinkling out Streusel on top of the cake, our blueberry cake goes into the oven at 180°C for, well, I wanted to tell Siri 50 (fiftYYYYYYYYYYYYY) minutes and she refused to hear the absence of an n at the end and kept setting a timer for 15 (fifteeNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN) minutes and after the fourth attempt, I was too annoyed to try again and I gave up and deliberately changed the baking time to 55 minutes approximately. And that turned out to be perfect.

And while we enjoy a slice in the middle of the night, because why not, let’s read a very long poem by Robert Frost, titled Blueberries from which I shall quote the beginning and bid you farewell with blue tongue and full stomach.

You ought to have seen what I saw on my way

To the village, through Mortenson’s pasture to-day:

Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb,

Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum

In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!

And all ripe together, not some of them green

And some of them ripe! You ought to have seen!

Robert Frost, Blueberries

Smells like Tea Spirit

That lovely featured image up there was once the famous result of a (serious and scientificially substantiated) Buzzfeed quiz, approved by Winston Churchill and recommended by The Doctor. Later on, I got “as British as Stephen Fry walking Corgies”, which is an equally desirable result – Stephen Fry, if you read this, I wanna walk Corgies with you and chat about Wagner like we used to back in 2014. Well, there weren’t any Corgies but there was sparkling wine and we met at the opera and did indeed talk about Wagner for a very brief yet memorable moment and I’m sure he remembers it just as well as I do.

Despite the fact that I have lost all the lovely quirks of RP over time (sniff) and nowadays speak a boring, commonplace English full of mistakes, I preserved my love for British baked goods because nothing shouts cosiness like a 5’o’clock tea with sweet treats fresh from the oven. So here are two exquisite and sophisticated contributions for a tea party suitable even for Dame Maggie Smith – Maggie Smith, if you read this, you are most cordially invited anytime. And please bring along your equally witty counterpart Penelope Wilton aka Harriet Jones, (former) Prime Minister (yes, we know who you are) and look forward to some delicious:


A short bread for the British
but a long journey from the lavender fields de la Provence to my kitchen!

This was my first attempt at shortbread and for someone who loves the crumbly buttery texture and sweet delight of shortbread, I am flabberghasted I waited so long to DIMy! It’s so simple!!* You’ll need nothing but 175g plain flour, 50g white sugar, more white sugar for sprinkles, 1 teaspoon of dried lavender petals**, and 115g (cold) butter, pre-scliced and -diced. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and shorten the paste, wrap it up in foil and let it chill for an hour. Something I can’t do, though dough can do it. Preheat the oven at 180°C. Roll out the by now super chill dough on parchment paper to a height of appr. 1,5cm and make it fair and square. Or more rectangular, see below.

*It is so simple that while writing this, I had to pause here and start making shortbread. It is now in the oven and it smells. So. Fucking. Delicious.*

**I learned the word petals in Don’t Starve. Gamer’s pro tip: petals make your stranded character happy but they are not very nutritious and bad fuel for your camp fire, too. Also, I love that game.**

Carefully heave the dough on the parchment paper onto the baking tray. Take a fork, summon all restrained anger in your life and go rogue on the dough and perforate the shit out of it. Then take a knife, be less angry, and slice it up into rectangular shortbread pieces – as can be seen on the picture above. Sprinkle sugar on top of it and bake the short bread for 33-35 long minutes (because the smell is irresistible) in the oven.

Saviour them and indulge into this sweet and crumbly treat with a provoncial twist.
Done!! Next!!!


If life gives you lemons, make lemon bars! Now that we feel very fairytale and flowery with all that lovely lavender aroma in the air, let’s add something sweet and sour to the tea time table and bring some mediterranean flair into the kitchen. They are even easier to make than the lavender shortbread so you’ll have no excuse and since several weeks have passed between writing down the lavender recipe and this one, I have fresh lemon bars cooling off right now and yet again, it smells fucking delicious in my flat. You’ll need 115g sliced and diced cold butter, 50g white sugar, 175g plain flour to be crumbled and then knead into a dough. Grease a square baking tin and spread the dough all nice and flat and bake in the preheated oven at 180°. Set the timer for 15 minutes. (I now have an iPhone and Siri and isn’t it extremely convenient how you can just tell her to set a timer for 15 minutes without figuring out how to clean your hands from dough kneading remnants so you don’t flour your phone? So convenient!). While the dough is getting warmed up to become of a super crumbly texture, we whisk up 2 eggs, 115g white sugar (I recommend icing sugar but plain white sugar works fine, too, I guess), 60g crème fraîche, 1 fresh lemon (zest and juice). Warning: if you have a tiny little cut on your thumb, it hurts as hell to grate the zest off because all the lemon drops dripping down onto and into that insignificant wound you forgot about truly sting/ks. Whisk, add 3 tsp of flour, whisk some more and pour the lemony liquid over the pre-baked base and put it back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes, when the liquid has just started to be firm.

Now be patient and let it cool off completely – I know that’s the most difficult part – and slice it up into squares or bars or triangles or whatever fancy figure you have in mind. Bite into whichever shape you’ve chosen and enjoy the crumbliness, the sweetness and the tingling sensation and imagine a cup of Lady Grey to go with it.

And because we can’t have a British-themed baking adventure without at least hinting towards the current very unpleasant situation and pending decision, here’s the obligatory Brexit joke:

Why does Britain like tea so much? – Because tea leaves.

Moin Moin and Omnomnom

It’s October 31st, and there’s reason to celebrate. No, not Halloween. It’s my good friend and colleague ACC’s birthday. Admittedly, I am going to a Halloween party later tonight and I am dressed up as Eleven (the Doctor, not the Stranger Thing) but birthday treats before the tricky ones. Now my friend ACC is a true Hamburger Perle and far away in the south of Germany in a tiny little town called Freiburg, she misses the steife Nordbrise a lot and not even the Höllentäler can provide some comfort. What she misses even more: Franzbrötchen. Hamburg style cinnamon rolls. Very difficult to get in Freiburg, although Café Auszeit makes quite decent ones as I’ve just learned.

Since I love baking and sharing my baked goods and especially love sharing my baked goods with the people I love, baking something with love for ACC was the natural thing to do. Since I am very bad at planning ahead when it is personal and not for work, I got the idea the day before, the literal shower thought. So I googled recipes and found an original Original-Hamburg-born-Franzbrötchen recipe. YAY! … that required a pre-dough that would have had to settle for 20 hours before making the main dough with it which would then have to settle for another night and so on and so forth. A quick calculation clearly showed: no way I could finish it in time. Even though I am dressed as a Timelord. Hence I had to improvise: on one of the best dessert food blogs our there, Zucker, Zimt & Liebe I found an alternative for those with little time. As usual, I took the steps more as vague guidelines. Or, as my current alter ego would say:

– How do we do that?
– Oh, I’ll think of something.
– You’re just making this up as you go along.
– Yep. But I do it brilliantly.

[Doctor Who, Season 28 / 2, Episode 6, The Age of Steel]

And actually, I’m pretty pleased with the results and overwhelmed by the aroma of cinnamon in my flat that promises warmth and cosiness on a wet cold autumn day, ideally paired with a literary journey to Zamonien,

Where old books dream of bygone days,
when they were wood and bark.

[Walter Moers, The City of Dreaming Books]

Seriously: If you haven’t, read those books. And then read them again. And again. And again. Let the Orm embrace you.

And now congratulations! You made it to the recipe!

Heat up 300 ml milk and 65g butter on the stove. Stir and let it cool to lukewarm. Very important: no chunks! Mix 450g flour of your choice with 1 bag of dried yeast, 60g white sugar and 1 egg. Pour in the butter-milk and knead with your hands until you have a dough that’s still gooey but not sticky. Add more flour if necessary. In the end, you might have to flip it around with a wooden spoon before you take it out of the bowl. Then give it a proper beating (baking is good for angermanagement and saves you an expensive therapy session), put it back in the bowl, cover the bowl with cling film and a towel and store it at a warm place. Leave it be and give it time to rise overnight. In the meantime, make some delicious oatmeal cookies with dark chocoate drops and salted caramel milk chocolate drops. Believe me, they are the best!

2 sticks salted butter / 2 large eggs / 1tsp salt / 1tsp baking powder / 1tsp baking soda / 1tsp cinnamon / 1tsp vanilla extract / 1 cup white wheat flour / 1 cup (darkbitter) chocolate chips / 1 cup raisins / 1 cup oatmeal / 1 cup brown sugar / 1 cup granulated white sugar

Cream butter eggs baking soda/powder cinnamon sugar together with egg beater. / Add flour. Cream in. No chunks. / Cream in oatmeal half cup at a time / Chocolate chips also half a cup at a time. / Throw away the raisins and swap them for Hershey’s salted caramel milk chocolate drops and then also half a cup a time.

10-12min in oven 360 (Fahrenheit), ergo 180° Celsius
Let cool for a minute before removing with metal spatula or they will fall apart.

Now that we’ve successfully cookie monstered and are happily nibbling on one of those monster cookies, let’s get back to our real goal. Fast forward to the next morning, we melt 80g butter and whisk in 100g sugar – I used a 50-50 brown-white-ratio – and 3 tsp cinnamon. Take a baking tin, put some parchment paper on it and preheat the oven to 180° Celsius. The dough should have doubled in size by now. Beat it up again. Basically, you could call this step the punch line. Roll out the dough until it is rectangular with a = 50cm and b = 30cm. Sort of. I never measured it but as long as the sides are roughly in that ratio, you’re good. Pour over the cinnamon cream and spread it evenly.

Roll the whole thing up tightly from side the longer side and cut yourcinnamon sausage into trapezoidal pieces. It should be 8-10 pieces.

Now flip them over so that the they “sit” on the short end. Set them on a baking tin with lots of space inbetween and use the wrong end of a wooden spoon to gently notch each Franzbrötchen in the middle so that the sides sort of fold over it. Cover the sheet with a kitchen towel and let it rest for another 15-20 minutes. Mix milk and egg yolk and slightly brush it onto the Franzbrötchen. Sprinkle a little more cinnamon on top and bake in the oven for appr. 20 minutes.

Can you already smell it? Mhmhmhm…… soooo good!

Best served fresh from the oven and still warm.

Now tried, tested, and approved by Hamburg’s finest export.

Happy birthday, girl!

Indulge and enjoy! ♥

Pasta alla Nonna

Pasta is the best. Period. There’s absolutely no arguing about it. Fuck low carb. Fuck zoodles. Zoodles. I mean come on. I love zucchini. But I want them WITH my pasta not AS my pasta. That’s just not right. Talking about zucchini, why are the Brits the only one calling them courgettes? French cuisine, o là là, bon appétit, mais pourquoi? It’s like their fable for gâteau (pronounced more like ghetto, in the Brummie accent that is. I’m from the Black Forest Ghetto, yo, and please, love, can I have a cuppa with that?). Brits equate French expressions with haute cuisine. Alors, back to topic.

Pasta. An art in itself. Pasta means simplicity and elegance. Pasta is designed to be flawless in its raison d’être – transporting sauce to mouth in the best manner possible. Pasta and sauce is legit the perfect combo. An al dente dream of two components complementing each other perfectly.

Even expensive pasta is still incredibly cheap. Pasta is easy to obtain, easy to prepare, easy to share. It takes 10-15 minutes to boil and cook some pasta. In the meantime, you may chop some garlic and chilies, sauté them in a splash of extra virgin olive oil, aka the only kind conservatives approve of, stir in the now cooked and draines pasta, sprinkle parmiggiano on top of it – et voilà: Soul food at its best. And: you will always cook too much pasta. And eat it all anyway.

Pasta comes in many shapes. Linguine, fettuccine, orechiette, farfalle, conchiglie, parpadelle, penne rigate, tagliatelle. spaghetti, rigatone, vermicelli – their names alone are poetry and by all means NOT TO BE OVERCOOKED. Looking at you, Mom. My favourites are paccheri (al pesce spada, mhmhmh), rigatoni and tagliatelle, or Nudelneschdle, noodle nests, as we like to call them.

With many shapes come many shames. No fat shaming, no, but wiht the rise of the low carb movement began the downfall of pasta. As with any food, pasta, too, does no harm consumed in moderation. More importantly, it fills you up quite nicely and hugs you from the inside. A life without pasta is sad. Look at all those health hipsters instagramming their overpriced Quinoabowls whereas I get to munchmunchmunch my bowl of penne for half the price and twice the satisfaction. Not really news: Low carb is not about eating healthy. It’s about being skinny. Also: Pasta bellies are the cutest. At least mine is. It’s been a long path till I learned to accept and embrace my little food pouch. And sometimes I forget that it’s actually cute (shout out to all my exes who assured me exactly that despite my disbelief. You were right). So here’s to the carbs, here’s to pasta, here’s to the bread to nibble on before dinner is served and to soak up the last bit of sauce from your plate. No sauce to be wasted!

Now that you’re all convinced (if that was necessary in the first place) of the greatness of pasta, it’s about time we make some! Last summer, in Italy, in the back of beyond in a small town called Broccostella, Frosinone, I learned from a real Italian nonna the secrets of pasta-making. First of all, we need the right soundtrack:

When the phone rang I was in the kitchen, boiling a potful of spaghetti and whistling along with an FM broadcast of the overture to Rossini’s The Thieving Magpie, which has to be the perfect music for cooking pasta. – Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

This is the perfect music because it is a) Italian, b) entertaining, c) easy listening and d) overly dramatic, like the Italians. And e),you can ballet dance through the kitchen, conductiong and tiptoeing and feel like il maestro of music and mangiare. Any Rossini ouverturre will do that for you.

Now we need the following INGREDIENTS:

400g flour (80% Spätzlemehl, 20% plain white flour) / 4 eggs. Yep, that’s all.

Now the problem was that nonna’s foreign language skills were as bad as my Italian. But since the language of pasta is love, and universal, and with a practical approach and lots of overly dramatic (s. d)) hand gestures involved, we managed. And this is how it goes:

Form a flour crate and crack the eggs into the middle/pit.

Take a fork and whisk the eggs with the flour, afterwards use your hands to knead. Knead knead knead. Stretch and spread the dough with your hands, fold it once, use your thenars to spread it again. Repeat indefinitily. WARNING: You’ll need lots of force and pressure. Pasta (making) is not for the weak. Nur die Harten kommen in Garten. Only the tough can make that stuff. Once you’re convinced there’s no strength for kneading and spreading and stretching left, you may put the dough aside. Sprinkle some flour on a big wooden board. Now we need a mattarello. Which sounds like warfare, like a machine gun rattling, like the angry arrabiata moglia waiting for her marito to dare come home late and drunk again…. So treat her kindly. She’s got a weapon and really strong arms. In our realms, we refer to il mattarello as rolling pin or Nudelholz. So peaceful. Instead of violently, we use our mattarello to carefully drag and stretch the dough even more in all directions. For this, we wrap the dough around the mattarello, place our hands in the middle, apply light pressure and slide our hands slowly in opposite directions, away from each other, towards the ends of the wood. Keep pressing and stretching and stroking the dough towards the outside, basically. Like a cat that wants SERIOUS cuddle, not the cute one. Repeat indefinitely. Once the dough is thin enough, roll it up once more r e a l l y lightly, then remove the mattarello.

Take a knife and cut slices of 3mm, unwriggle them, put them in a bowl and give them a flour shower.
Ta-daa! You’ve made your own pasta!
Now al dente it, serve it with a high-quality truffle pesto, and enjoy!

Buon Appetito!