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Happy, Happy and A Big Thank You!

cheese cake for birthday

It has been exactly one year since Happy Stomachs was born. And what a year! I have met interesting people and made new friends, discovered a few things and changed some others, come up with more ideas and exciting projects – and enjoyed every single step along the way. Thanks to you, my friends in food, who read and support, enjoy and get inspired by, share and comment on my beloved little blog.

You might not be surprised that my cake is a savory rather than a sweet one. To be exact: It is one made of cheeses. I couldn’t help… But I believe that, once you have read the simple instructions, you might be happy to have this ridiculously easy and flexible idea up your sleeve. Use it in the case you have barely any time, need something different – or simply want to change up the usual cheese platter. Or the traditional birthday cake, for that matter.

So here we go: Choose your cheeses depending your and your guests taste buds as well as the number of people the selection should feed. Keep in mind that soft and semi hard cheeses will allow you to cut the cake into wedges, while you will have to disassemble your oeuvre if  you incorporate hard cheeses (like Manchego, Gruyère, Cheddar, etc.) before you can enjoy them. Also, the subtler and runnier a cheese, the higher up on the tower it should be placed (in order to have as less as possible other weight on top of it). Pick your accompaniments according the season, your mood, a color or taste pattern or to match the cheeses flavor profiles.

My little cake is built of a French goat Brie (Chèvre des Crèmiers), Munster, Pico (another, smaller and looser goat Brie) and a hunk of an Australian Feta. The accoûtrements are red raspberries, toasted pumpkin seeds and Nasturtiums, a widely available, edible flower with a nice peppery after taste. – A rich, creamy and rather lush affair. But hey, it’s my baby’s birthday after all!

cheese cake for birthday

Carpe Diem #7 – Quick, Quaint, Quail

finger food with quail eggs sunny side up

quail eggs

I hadn’t even planned to fix some food. I had had a little lunch, and supper still was far away. But all of a sudden I remembered those quail eggs in my fridge.

So I decided that – instead of trying to find excuses and reasons why, indeed, I should fix some food – I just would go into the kitchen and start working. On what, I had no idea yet. I only knew that quail eggs would be involved. Contemplating and rummaging through fridge and pantry, eliminating what I didn’t want to do or eat – no scrambling of the eggs, no filling them, no peeling or prepping vegetables, not prosciutto and no smoked salmon either – I finally opted for a super simple canapé.

pepper jam on bread

quail egg cooking in skillet

A miniature one, to perfectly accommodate and honor the tiny, heavenly eggs; and one that combined just a few very fine and complementing ingredients. So onto slices of Baguette went my sweet & spicy pepper jam, and on this a generous smear of duck liver & black truffle mousse. While the butter became hot in the skillet, I carefully cracked the nifty egg shells with a sharp knife, one by one, and then briefly fried the quail eggs until the white had set and started to brown around the edge, just about a minute or so.

Now it was the little sunny side up’s turn to take stage on the canapés. I sprinkled a little black lava salt onto the eggs, and a wonderful afternoon delight was born. We ate, raved, and were happy. (So next time you remember a dear ingredient in your kitchen, take a break and go play. It’s food, so it’s always worth it.)

face made of eggs, play with your food

canapé with quail egg

Eggs Peru-Dict (or: How Aji and Benedict Found Each Other)

Version of eggs Benedict

I love Ceviche. And even more than the common citrusy one, I love Tiradito. This is the Peruvian interpretation of a Japanese Sashimi, so to speak, where the fish is cut into thin slices and served raw, in a creamy, dreamy, slightly hot sauce called Aji or Aji Amarillo. – Ah, Tiradito, yes, I adore you so much, I might suffer a case of obsession…

And still, when I was gifted with a big basket full of bright little yellow peppers that turned out to be Aji Dulce, or Peruvian Lemon Drops – the main ingredient of Aji -, it was not fish that came to my mind. It was a plump, sexy, poached egg that suddenly was dancing in front of my inner eye. Eureka! – I would provoke my Lemon Drops into a hefty flirt with Eggs Benedict. In a way, that ultimately would lead to marriage. She would take on his last name, but still keep hers. Eggs Peru-Dict. Perfect.

aji amarillo pepper

Aji is very easy to prepare. Aji Dulce – don’t let you fool by its name – is a hot pepper with bright, citrusy flavors that can be substituted with Tabasco or Cayenne peppers, or also with the dried Lemon Drop, Aji Mirasol. In case you get your hands on a copious amount of fruit, simply fill the sauce into small containers or ice cube trays and freeze it, so that you can pop it out whenever the craving strikes. The one for Tiradito or the one for poached eggs. Depending on your mood.

paste of lemon drop peppers

Aji Amarillo Paste

(makes 8oz)

  • 1 lbs Aji Dulce
  • 2-4 tbsp vegetable oil

Put Aji into a large pan, fill up with water and bring to a broil. Let boil 5 minutes, drain. Repeat twice, using fresh water each time.

Cut off the stems of the peppers, cut into halves lengthwise. Remove the seeds and glands.

In a food processor, purée Aji, adding the oil in stages, until the paste reaches the desired consistency. Store in the fridge or freezer.

lemon drop peppers, cooked

Tiradito

(makes plenty for 1 serving of Eggs Perudict)

  • 1 tbsp Aji Amarillo Paste
  • 1 pce Peruvian Lemon Drop pepper, washed, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients into a smooth, not too thin sauce and set aside.

poached eggs on a green bed

Eggs Peru-Dict

(makes 1 serving)

  • 2 handful Arugula, washed and dried
  • 1/2 pce Avocado
  • 1/2 pce Lime
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tbsp Tiradito
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Arrange the Arugula in the center of a large plate.

Cut Avocado into slices, drizzle Lime on each slice and arrange on the Arugula.

Fill large pan with water and bring to a boil. Crack the eggs open and carefully slide into the water. Cook 2-3 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and put on paper towel. Carefully pat the eggs dry.

Arrange eggs on top of the Arugula-Avocado nest, pour Aji Amarillo on top. Add salt and pepper to your liking. – Bon appétit!

whole peruvian lemon drop peppers

messy poached eggs with greens

 

 

Crazy Foods

liquid, flavored salts

Maybe I should have chosen a title like “The Anatomy of Foods from A – Z” for this post. Or “What today’s Foods tell us about the Foods of the Future”. Both of these lines might have been more informative and accurate. But they both also sounded really, really boring to me. That’s why I stuck with my initial idea, “Crazy Foods”.

Crazy is not just crazy, I like to point out. There’s good crazy and bad crazy. Amazing crazy, wild crazy, surprising crazy, scary crazy and even crazy crazy. Projected onto food, crazy can mean sickening as well as healing or health supporting. Easy as well as complicated, natural as well as artificial, wholesome as well as invading. Crazy suggests progression and evolution, crazy foods are more debatable, less normal and more interesting than just foods.

beautiful packaging for cookies

Crazy is fascinating, and so was the totally overwhelming array of foods I saw during my recent days at SIAL in Paris. The “Salon International d’Alimentation” is a bi yearly food show that celebrated its 50est anniversary this year. 12’500 exhibitors from 100 different countries showed their countless products to somewhat around 300 000 visitors from 200 countries. – If you imagine a zoo, now, you perfectly got the concept (and will understand the choice of my title): A Food Show of this extent indeed is a zoo, although one of delectable nature. And, of course, highly interesting for everybody interested in food, nutrition and hedonism.

So let me share with you a bunch of ideas, products, packagings, trends, novelties and renaissances I encountered while walking the sacred halls of food in Paris. I hope you enjoy. And go crazy for food, once again! Continue reading “Crazy Foods” »

Bonjour Paris!

Drawing Eiffel Tower, Paris, at night

So I woke up in Paris this morning.

It didn’t come as a surprise, of course, the trip was planned. And yet it did feel special. – I have visited this city numerous times in the past, both for business and leisure. But never during the last decade. So I am curious to discover, during the upcoming days, what has changed, and what not.

My memories and images, expectations and hopes are many. Naturally, most are related to food. When I hear Paris, I think Brasseries and Bistros, Baguettes and Boudin and Blanquette de Veau. I see tiny Epiceries, lively market stalls and expert shoppers. People drinking Café or Pastis or Limonade on the terraces of the different restaurants. Sirop de Menthe. Un verre (a glass of wine) or une pression (a beer on tap). I see Steak Tartare or Steak Frites, all the beautiful Pâtisseries and Fromageries. Oh, speaking of cheese: I also do see – and almost taste by just thinking of it – the classic Chèvre Chaud: A big mixed green salad dressed in warm bacon vinaigrette and topped with a thick, warm slice of goat cheese on toast.

My youngest one, when I talked about Paris with him, had only one, yet a very clear vision: The Eiffel Tower at night, with the stars shining bright and the moon smiling. And fine music in the air, because “the spirit of somebody who created something great always stays around”. Pas mal, non?

So don’t be disappointed not to find recipes or pictures from my own kitchen during the next week or so. Yet expect menu descriptions, photographs of places, plates and people, updates on novelties or funnies or trends. Just about anything that makes (edible) Paris Paris.

Seafood Restaurant in Paris