A cat, a bridge and lots of Fizzers

Welcome to my new category Life in Berlin where I will blab about different bits and bobs of what life is like in Berlin, tell you what I’ve been getting myself up to and even write some local product’s reviews. Sometimes I might even give you a peek into my life beyond food!

Today I will start by sharing something really special: our visit to the Azalea and Rhododendron Park in Kromlau, a two hour drive from Berlin. When you look at the bridge, it will probably look familiar, you might have seen it umpteen times online. It’s such a spectacular looking location that people are having their wedding pictures taken there (actual anecdote from our visit!). What most people don’t know, is the following:

  • it’s fairly easy to go there with a car
  • there’s a lot more than just the bridge to see there

We packed some water and snacks – read Fizzers galore, recently shipped via personal butler all the way from Switzerland – and left Berlin around 9am and made it just before 11am (no pit stops, my small bladder is proud to say), and at that time there were only a few cars other than ours. But, believe me, when we left a few hours after the car park was half full! I guess in the last few years it has grown more and more popular thanks to this wondrous thing called The Internet.

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Most well known perspective of the Rakotzbrücke

The first thing you might want to know is that the car park is very close to the actual bridge, a short 5-10 minutes walk. There are signs all the way, and after you’ve seen the beauty of the main attraction, it does pay off to follow the rest of the signs to see the park.

As we were making our way from the most well known side of the bridge to the back through a little archway in the stone, we heard a voice saying “Watch out for the cat!”. I looked at G and he looked at me questioningly, and all of a sudden there He was, the Majestic Cat of the Rakotzbrücke, apparently quite the famous celebrity in these parts. Him and I quickly became friends, as everyone knows I love cats and they love me. G, not so much…

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He posed for me

These are some of my impressions from the rest of the park:

If you have a car, Google Maps will help you get there. If you don’t, Deutsche Bahn will help you instead.

A special mention goes to the cozy Cafe Azalee where we hid away from the nagging cold for a bit, and were welcomed by a huge variety of ice cream flavours, homemade cakes and various hot and cold beverages. We shared a slice of Donauwelle cake and another of almond cake, and overheard different languages coming from the other occupied tables.

Seven Minute Frosting

There’s something so comforting about good old vintage recipes, isn’t there? This one’s a classic, so elegant and with an almost other-worldly feeling.

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  • 2 egg whites
  • 300g / 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 tsp light corn syrup
  • 80ml / 1/3 cup cold water
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Place all ingredients except vanilla in top of double boiler (not over heat); beat 1 minute with electric whisk.
  2. Place over – but not touching – boiling water and cook, beating constantly for about 7 minutes until stiff peaks form. Be careful not to overcook!
  3. Remove from boiling water, add vanilla and beat again until of spreading consistency.
  4. Once your cake, muffins or cookies of choice have completely cooled, you may use this beauty to frost them. It hardens after a bit, giving it a very satisfying light crunch.

BONUS TIPS:

  • I like to frost Devil’s Food Cake with this beautiful frosting. I love the contrast between the very dark chocolatey cake with this luminous white frosting.
  • The thinner the layer of frosting, the quicker it will set and harden.

 

 

Brulée Brie and Bacon wrapped dates

Happy Sunday everyone! Today you get a 2×1 offer: 2 recipes in one post. Lucky you! Although to be fair, both recipes are fairly easy, quick to make, and go together very well.

Brulée brie is apparently all the rage at this very moment, or how kids are calling it these days “trending”. It is all over Instagram, it has its own hashtag, as all important things in life must according to The Internet – man, I sound really old and whiny-. It is one of those wonderful things that will have its minute or two of glory and then everyone will move on to the next thing. But I wanted very badly to give it a try, especially since I got this lovely torch as a Xmas gift and I had not put it to use yet (shame on me).

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  • Brie cheese
  • brown sugar
  1. Slice the cheese and arrange them next to each other. Then carefully spoon some brown sugar on top of each slice.
  2. The final AND most exciting step of this recipe: TORCH! Torch that motherf***er! Torch until the sugar has caramelized beautifully on top of the cheese, and wait a bit for it to set. And then struggle to keep your hands off until served!

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  • Pitted dates
  • Bacon rashers
  1. Wrap the dates in bacon. I usually cut one slice in half and that’s enough to wrap two dates. Otherwise the bacon to date ratio is unbalanced for my taste.
  2. Put a non-stick pan on medium heat and fry on all sides until the bacon is crispy.

Feel free to write your thanks for sharing this wonderful recipes with you lot!

Caramelized onions

By now you probably feel that it is all about caramelized stuff with me. I do really enjoy some sweet and savory contrast in my food, and caramelized onions are no exception! I first got obsessed with caramelized onions after I first went to the renowned yearly Tapas competition in my home town. You get a map of the city with each restaurant and what they offer as part of the competition, and you get to vote for your favourite tapa of the year. In this one little cellar style restaurant, very modernly decorated, we were served little bread toasts with pork loin topped with aioli and caramelized onion. It was simply delicious (and I’m not a huge fan of pork!).

And I knew there and then I had to try this at home. And thus commenced my learning process of onion caramelizing. This recipe should be enough as a topping for a 2-people meal, if you want more, just increase the amounts!

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  • 1 middle sized onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  1. Heat the olive oil on low heat on a pan, and add the butter until it melts.
  2. Throw in the onion, and watch it sizzle slowly until it turns transparent, then yellowish and eventually brown. Whenever it starts to stick to the pan, just stir it slightly with a wooden spoon or spatula. This should take some patience and around 20 minutes.

 

BONUS TIPS:

  • You can add 1 teaspoon brown sugar after the last step, and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until it dissolves together with the onion. This is optional, but it will enhance the sweetness. I do this depending on the recipe I’ll use.
  • I used this batch to top of brulée brie. Don’ miss out!

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Bunyols de vent – Mallorquin sweet puffs

In Mallorca, this time of the year we celebrate St. Ursula (21st October) or mostly known as the Virgins’ Day. The story behind is quite gruesome, involving St. Ursula and 11000 virgins’ pilgrimage to Rome through Germany, where they were killed by the huns as they didn’t accept their sexual advances. The current tradition, however, is much nicer. A girl can receive a carnation and a serenade from a boy who shows interest in her, and in return she’ll invite him to these traditional puffs or fritters.

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This is one of those recipes that everyone’s grandmother knows how to make, and of course everyone’s grandmother makes the best without a shred of doubt. It is fortunately a simple enough recipe, just quite messy and slightly time consuming. But once you pop just one of these into your mouth and it dissolves into sugary goodness, all the work is well worth it, I promise you this much.

  • 2 eggs
  • 500g / 2 cups boiled potatoes, mashed
  • 250g / 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp dry yeast
  • a few tbsp water
  • vegetable oil for deep frying
  • powder sugar (you can also use normal sugar)
  1. Mix the yeast with the water and let sit for about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well until it forms a soft dough, and allow to rise for at least half an hour.
  3. Put a deep pot on medium heat and add enough oil for deep frying.
  4. This is the tricky part. You’ll need to have wet hands for this, the bowl with the dough on one side and the pot with the hot oil on the other. Wet your hand, take a small amount of dough and poke it to make a small hole. Then the wet hand drops the dough into the oil. Do only a few puffs at a time so you don’t overcrowd the pot.
  5. Allow each puff to brown on one side, then use a skimmer to gently flip the puff to cook on the other side. Once brown on both sides, scoop out and onto a serving plate with some absorbent paper on it.
  6. Sprinkle some sugar on the puffs and enjoy! Don’t forget to breathe in between helpings, these are so good I won’t be held responsible for anyone choking up on too many!

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BONUS TIPS:

  • You can also make them with sweet potato. You can either substitute the entire amount of potato for sweet potato, or do half and half.

Salted caramel mulled cider

Here in Germany you can hear Christmas around the corner (I won’t mention the fact that all the stores carry the typical seasonal crap since already weeks ago…). It’s beautifully autumnal right now, the yellow and red leaves are scattered everywhere and it just feels so cozy that all I want to do is curl up with a book, a nice blanket and a hot drink. So I believe the season of warm alcoholic drinks should be officially inaugurated!

This recipe is perfect to give you all the autumn feels:

  • 2l / 8 1/2 cups cider
  • 250ml / 1 cup cloudy apple juice
  • 4 tbsp salted caramel sauce
  • 1 vanilla pod, halved
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  1. Mix salted caramel together with cider and reserve.
  2. Put a tall pot on low heat, and pour the apple juice, vanilla pod and cinnamon. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
  3. Add cider to the simmering pot and allow to bring to a boil. Take off the heat immediately and serve.

BONUS TIPS:

  • Top with whipped cream and some more salted caramel.
  • Add a scoop of ice cream: vanilla, salted caramel, cheesecake… the possibilities are endless!
  • Obviously you can also use salted caramel from a different source than my own recipe, I just think that most homemade things are much better.

Fruit & nut chocolates

As you may already know, I’m part british (although many people can’t tell due to my mish-mash of an accent) which automatically makes me a Cadbury lover. And it is no secret that my all-time favourite chocolate is their Fruit & Nut – followed closely by Toblerone, because who better than the Swiss, right? -.

That together with the fact that recently I’ve had this huge craving, and that I’ve had a brand new chocolate mold that was waiting for me to free it from its box (yes, it hadn’t been used, ergo, not opened, since I got it from my bestie for my birthday in July, I know, shame on me)… I had a lightbulb moment! Not that I’m claiming this is the best thing since sliced bread, or am I?

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  • 200g / 3/4 cups good quality chocolate
  • 50g / 3 tbsp whole almonds
  • 50g / 3 tbsp whole raisins
  1. Start by tempering the chocolate in a medium bowl. If you’re wondering, this is how I learned. This will allow the chocolate to hold back its shape once it’s hardened.
  2. Add the almonds and the raisins. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Pour carefully onto the chocolate mold and let it cool.

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BONUS TIPS:

  • This might be the most simple recipe in my website so far! Feel free to mix things up, add other nuts or dried fruit of your choice.
  • It should go without saying that you don’t need an actual chocolate mold. An ice tray will also do the trick.