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Schwäbischer Zwiebelkuchen (Swabian Onion Tart/Pie/Cake)

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Schwäbischer Zwiebelkuchen is usually eaten in late Summer and early Fall, typically served with new wine, but fans (there are legions of them, including myself), will eat it year-round. As with any “traditional/classic” dish which is mostly prepared at home, there are many variations, most of them excellent. After all, it is pretty hard to screw up a simple dish like this, consisting of just a few basic ingredients –
Yeast dough, (or shortcrust)
Creme fraiche, (or, in a pinch, sour cream, which makes it slightly more tart)
Onions, sautéed, diced, (or sliced), anywhere from just transparent to caramelized
Bacon, (or not)
Chives (or not)
Caraway seed, (or not)
Eggs,
Salt & Pepper,
Round, (or square or rectangular)
Deep dish springform (or large flat sheet pan) – because of the different heights, the ratio of onions to cream mixture also varies greatly.

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I grew up eating Schwäbischer Zwiebelkuchen all the time, but even in the area where I lived, cooks (mostly housewives), were very flexible which the variation they would use.
The only exception was the Schwäbischer Zwiebelkuchen from the time I was but a small child until I was about 7 years old, after which time the village communal oven was not used anymore. Up ’til I was about 7 years old, we still had a communal oven in the village bakery, everybody followed the same regional, well-established recipe. During that time, most farmers wife’s baked huge sheet pan’s of Zwiebelkuchen in the communal oven (as well as the bread for the following week).
Because there where no refrigerators in farmers homes at that time, a good part of the Zwiebelkuchen was shared with friends and neighbors, so nothing was wasted. This is how I got my first taste of Schwäbischer Zwiebelkuchen since my Mom was a city girl and was neither fond of cooking, baking or any other domestic chores. My family moved from a large City (Stuttgart) to the small Village of Gechingen, where my father inherited his childhood home from my grandparents, who were farmers. Growing up there was in part very great and in part very bad for a city boy. I never got used to some of the customs, way’s and restrictions the small-village life provided us with. (One of the biggest reasons why I left home to start an apprenticeship as cook before I was 14 years old)
But, all the food from this time, including Schwäbischer Zwiebelkuchen, became highly regarded favorites as I got older. To this day, I seek those dishes wherever I go. Sadly, most everywhere, many of these items are not valued anymore and are gone the way of so many old-fashioned things – good food, customs, manners and so many other things we used to respect, love nurture and appreciate in the past. Those of us who still (or just newly, in some cases) are fond of the time-proven pillars of “the good old times”, can only hope that “old is new again” will one day soon again apply to most of the beloved standards of our past 🙂
Until then, when I crave Schwäbischer Zwiebelkuchen, I have to prepare it myself.
And don’t get me going about old-fashioned manners, customs, and decent behavior…….
Bit of a nostalgic, old farts rant there, but I feel better now 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Zwiebelkuchen Dough:
Use your favorite shortcrust dough or yeast dough.
Substitute with pre-made shortcrust dough, pizza dough, pre-baked Quiche crust or pre-baked pizza crust. I suggest you experiment until you find your favorite. It’s well worth the extra effort 🙂
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Schwäbischer Zwiebelkuchen (Swabian Onion Tart/Pie/Cake)

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Schwäbischer Zwiebelkuchen (Swabian Onion Tart/Pie/Cake)

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Schwäbischer Zwiebelkuchen (Swabian Onion Tart/Pie/Cake)

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Schwäbischer Zwiebelkuchen (Swabian Onion Tart/Pie/Cake)

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Preparation :
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Escargots A La Bourguignonne (Snails In Garlic-Herb Butter In The Style Of The Bourguignon)

Escargots A La Bourguignonne (Snails In Garlic-Herb Butter In The Style Of The Bourguignon)

Remembering  the “Good Old Times”, when I went to Germany I was looking forward to enjoy escargot as often as possible, since in the not so distant past, escargot was one of the dishes which one could find on the dinner menu of most restaurants, usually prepared “A La Bourguignonne” and served in their own shells, but also frequently as soup or in puff pastry.
I was disappointed to find that escargots have mostly gone the way of so many other delicacies ( Tortue “Lady Curzon,  Foie Gras, Duck a la PresseTurtle Steaks, Turtle Stews, Abalone Meunière,  Sole Véronique,  Crab Louie,  Trout Almondine,  Canard à l’Orange, just to mention a few…….
I did manage to find snails on two occasions on the menu, but sadly, both were but a shameful rendition of the once glorious dish (One was escargots a la Bourguignonne, which were burned on top and completely tasteless, the other was escargots in puff pastry, which was served in a soggy puff pastry shell, bound with a tasteless white sauce, deprived of even the slightest bit of the de rigueur Pernod, which is supposed to grace the sauce of escargots in cream.
So, as usual, in order to satisfy my craving, I had to prepare it myself at home. In the past, I have tried to find escargots in the grocery stores around here and sometimes scored, but in the past few years I was not able to find them anywhere anymore 😦 . Thank you Lord for the internet 🙂 . I ordered one dozen cans, which arrived a few days later and made me a happy man indeed.
Here now is the first version of Escargot I prepared…….
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Escargots A La Bourguignonne (Snails In Garlic-Herb Butter In The Style Of The Bourguignon)

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Escargots A La Bourguignonne (Snails In Garlic-Herb Butter In The Style Of The Bourguignon)

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Escargots A La Bourguignonne (Snails In Garlic-Herb Butter In The Style Of The Bourguignon)

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Preparation :
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Lunch Quickie – Smoked Salmon, Spicy Potato Salad And Sunny Side Up Eggs

When contemplating what to prepare for a combined breakfast/lunch today, I found that I had some leftover cooked potatoes, leftover “cebollas en escabeche” (escabeche de cebollas) and a packet of smoked salmon.
Within less than 10 minutes, this gorgeous dish was ready on the table.
Bella and I were happy and content, and cleanup was a snap. Easy peasy 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Lunch Quickie – Smoked Salmon, Spicy Potato Salad And Sunny Side Up Eggs

Lunch Quickie – Smoked Salmon, Spicy Potato Salad And Sunny Side Up Eggs

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Preparation :
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Grilled Pork Tenderloin With Portobello, Broccoli And Tomato

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Grilled Pork Tenderloin With Portobello, Broccoli And Tomato

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In my opinion, pork tenderloin (fillet) is one of the most underrated cuts of meat. And of course, that is wonderful, because once people catch on, it will be priced out of reach of most folks (Lamb chops, anyone ? 😦 )
But since this has not happened yet, I can enjoy pork tenderloin as often as I wish, without going broke 🙂
This preparation looked and tasted particularly yummy. It’s economical and a snap to prepare, so there is no excuse not to indulge in this beauty once in a while.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Grilled Pork Tenderloin With Portobello, Broccoli And Tomato

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Grilled Pork Tenderloin With Portobello, Broccoli And Tomato

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Grilled Pork Tenderloin With Portobello, Broccoli And Tomato

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Preparation :
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Tlaxcaltotopochtl Y Ensalada De Camaron Con Aguacate

Tlaxcaltotopochtl Y Ensalada De Camaron Con Aguacate

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“Totopos With Shrimp And Avocado Salad”.
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The name  totopo  comes from the Aztec word tlaxcaltotopochtl. It is a combination of the word for a tortilla, tlaxcalli, and the word for thunder.
Combined, it means “tortillas that are noisy to chew”.
Originally, totopos are prepared with corn tortillas. They can be fried, as I have done here, or baked or toasted.
However, I sometimes make totopos with flour tortillas, which makes them lighter and, of course, results in a different, more delicate flavor.
They pair perfectly with this refreshing shrimp and avocado salad and make for a wonderful, tasty snack or appetizer.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Tlaxcaltotopochtl Y Ensalada De Camaron Con Aguacate

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Tlaxcaltotopochtl Y Ensalada De Camaron Con Aguacate

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Tlaxcaltotopochtl Y Ensalada De Camaron Con Aguacate

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Tlaxcaltotopochtl Y Ensalada De Camaron Con Aguacate

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Preparation :
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Cheese And Potato Vareniki, With Spinach, Bacon and Tomato


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I have to confess – I cheated when I prepared these Vareniki 😦
Instead of preparing the vareniki/pierogi dough fresh and rolling it into thin sheets before cutting, filling, folding and sealing it, I used 1 lb store-bought fresh pasta sheets and my trusted ravioli/pierogi-mold. Not necessarily because I am lazy (well, sometimes I am), but mainly because my counter space is tiny and making fresh pasta dough and stuffed dumpling always results in a huge mess, with flour everywhere, requiring a lot of time to get the kitchen spick and span again.
(However, I do know how to make the dough fresh. 🙂
I have made it a hundred times and I am therefore not embarrassed to admit to the store-bought sheets and the mold) 🙂
The rest of the dish is as easy and quick as 1-2-3. Cook the pasta, saute everything in butter and done !
Here is the recipe for the filling and the final dish :
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Ingredients and method for filling:

Saute onions in butter until translucent.
Stir in the 2 cup mashed potatoes, grated cheese and yogurt, season with salt and cayenne pepper, mix well. Check/adjust seasoning.
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Ingredients and method for the rest of the dish:

Cut the dough sheets into rounds corresponding to the size of your ravioli/pierogi-cutter.
Top each round of dough with 1 tblsp cheese/potato filling, add ea round to the ravioli/pierogi-mold.
Moisten the dough’s edges with water, fold over, and press together to seal.
Repeat procedure with the remaining dough and filling.
Cook in boiling salted water until the dough is done, about 3 to 4 minutes, depending on the thickest part of the dough.
Remove with a slotted spoon, drain.
Saute 2 oz chopped bacon, 1 tsp garlic paste, julienne of 1/2 onion, 6 oz fresh spinach in 2 oz butter, add 8 oz fresh spinach and 1/3 cup heavy cream, simmer 1 minute, remove from heat, add julienne of one medium size onion, 1 ea seeded and julienned tomato and the freshly cooked vareniki, check/adjust seasoning. to serve, sprinkle with grated pepper-jack.
Serves 4 appetizers or 2 main courses.
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Cheese And Potato Vareniki, With Spinach, Bacon and Tomato

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Cheese And Potato Vareniki, With Spinach, Bacon and Tomato

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Cheese And Potato Vareniki, With Spinach, Bacon and Tomato

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Cheese And Potato Vareniki, With Spinach, Bacon and Tomato

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Faux Chicken Biryani


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It looks like biryani.
It tastes like biryani.
It smells like biryani.
Alas, it’s not biryani.
As usual when I cook for Bella and myself, a few days ago I cooked too much jasmin rice. The next day, my usual train of thought at first led me to either one of two leftover dishes – fried rice or congee. But I did not really feel like either one of those, so my next choice was this very easy to prepare “faux biryani”.
While a “real biryani is easy enough to prepare, this one was even easier and of course, with the pre-cooked rice at hand, this was the perfect way to utilize the rice and at the same time get a dish that is wonderful, flavorful and beautiful. Naturally, the texture of the rice was different from the real deal, (not inferior, just different), but nevertheless, the dish was a great success, fully enjoyed by Bella and myself 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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P.S.
Usually, one would steep the saffron in ghee, but because of the relatively high-fat content of the chicken skin which will render into the dish, I replaced the ghee with milk.
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Faux Chicken Biryani

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Faux Chicken Biryani

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Faux Chicken Biryani

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Faux Chicken Biryani

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Preparation :
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Baby Octopus In Black Bean/Oyster Sauce On A Crisp Egg Noodle Pillow

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Baby Octopus In Black Bean/Oyster Sauce On A Crisp Egg Noodle Pillow

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Visiting my Asian food store is such a great food shopping experience. I usually go to stock up on sauces, Asian noodles, special veggies and the occasional specialty item I can’t find at my regular hunting grounds.
However, as it is usually the case when I go shopping for “just a few things, necessities”, I always end up buying too much stuff I did not set-out to get. That’s how I ended up with 2,5 lbs flash-frozen baby octopus, without a plan (yet) how to prep them. Alas, it really does not matter for me how baby octopus (or any other octopus, for that matter), is prepared, I love them any which way – so, or so, or so 🙂
Lately, I ate grilled steak and sautéed meat cuts with potatoes and rice quite often, so it was time to go back to pasta and lots of good sauce. Here now is how these tiny, frozen, beautiful creatures transformed into a most lovely dish, served over a heavenly  “crisp on the outside, soft on the inside”  egg noodle pillow 🙂
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P.S.
I like my noodle pillows “crisp on the outside but soft on the inside”. If you prefer more crispness towards the center, cook the pillow in 3 cups of oil instead of the two tblsp I used here, and raise the temperature of the oil so the noodles are actually frying instead of sauteing, as I did here. (Either way, good stuff)  🙂
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Baby Octopus In Black Bean/Oyster Sauce On A Crisp Egg Noodle Pillow

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Baby Octopus In Black Bean/Oyster Sauce On A Crisp Egg Noodle Pillow

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Baby Octopus In Black Bean/Oyster Sauce On A Crisp Egg Noodle Pillow

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plate the crispy noodle pillow, top the pillow with the octopus and sauce, garnish with chives

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Preparation :
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Soupe à l’oignon gratinée (French Onion Soup)

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Soupe à l’oignon gratinée (French Onion Soup)

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Onion soup is a vegetable soup made of sauteed onions and stock. Onion soup was traditionally served in poorer households and lower-class restaurants.
Onion soup is, and was, found in many countries, prepared in many different variations. What all recipes have in common are the onions and stock. From there on, anything goes……….:
Added red or white wine, beer, egg yolk, flour, cream, cheese, herbs, bread, vinegar, sugar, caramelized onions, sauteed but kept-white onions, puréed onions, sliced onion, diced onions, shallots, sausages, sherry, carrots, and probably another thousand different additions, depending on where in the world you encounter your onion soup.
Names/variations include “Pfälzer Zwiebelsuppe”, “Soupe Soubise”, “Schwaebische Zwiebelsuppe”, “Cipollata”,  “Cherbah”, and countless more.
And then, of course, there is the queen of all onion soups! –
Known and loved most everywhere in the world, it is “French Onion Soup” (Soupe à l’oignon / Soupe d’oignons aux Halles/ Soupe à l’oignon gratinée)
What makes this variation so special is the addition of bread and gruyere to the top of the onion soup, then it get’s some time in the oven or under the broiler until the top is a bubbly, fragrant, addictive, gooey mass of melted bread and cheese.
Each heavenly spoonful should contain some of the bread and cheese, some soup, and some onions.
Voilà, now you know why “French Onion Soup” is the best onion soup in the world 🙂
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Soupe à l’oignon gratinée (French Onion Soup)

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Soupe à l’oignon gratinée (French Onion Soup)

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Soupe à l’oignon gratinée (French Onion Soup)

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Soupe à l’oignon gratinée (French Onion Soup)

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Preparation :
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Vanilla Crepes With Caramelized Blackberries & Pomegranate Seeds

Vanilla Crepes With Caramelized Blackberries & Pomegranate Seeds


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One
has to wonder:
Why are sweet or savory crepes not on everybody’s table at least once a week ???
I can’t recall to ever have met anybody who’d claim not to like crepes, either in its sweet or savory form, or both.
Crepes can be prepared easily by anybody, even by a child or somebody with two left hands. Even if one does not like to cook, these babies need all of a few minutes to prepare, are very economical and, have I said this already? – are easy and quick to prepare.
In its sweet, plain variation, just sprinkle some castor sugar on top and maybe a bit of whipped cream, and you have a great dessert or sweet snack.
It’s savory, plain version will make a quick meal by drizzling a bit of butter on top and serving them with a small salad on the side.
And then, you have the more elaborate stuff 🙂
Savory crepes can be filled with creamed or buttered mushrooms, vegetables, seafood, chicken, game meats, spicy sausages and a myriad of other, more or less fancy goodies.
Sweet crepes will be happy to be married to caramelized fruit, creams, chocolate sauce, puddings, cream cheese (blintzes anyone?), nutella, yogurt, nuts, etc, etc, etc.
I myself have prepared just about any combination of crepes and “stuff” under the sun. I don’t really have a favorite per se, I love ’em all 🙂
So here is a version of crepes with caramelized fruits. I have to admit that the blackberries and pomegranate are rather expensive, especially when you cook for a large family. But be assured, caramelized apples, pears, oranges, bananas, strawberries, or any other more economical fruit will be just as wonderful – yummy to taste and pretty to look at 🙂
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Vanilla Crepes With Caramelized Blackberries & Pomegranate Seeds

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Vanilla Crepes With Caramelized Blackberries & Pomegranate Seeds

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Vanilla Crepes With Caramelized Blackberries & Pomegranate Seeds

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Preparation :
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