Excited about the latest article in AHLAN magazine!
In the hot Dubai summer my Aloe Vera grows bigger and bigger. At least one of us enjoys the climate…. !
Today I gave it a try to start reducing it a little bit, so it would not take all the place away:
I made a refreshing lemonade with jelly like pulp of the leaves. What to say, it turned out to be a delicious drink I will definitely have again!
Aloe Vera Lemonade
What To Buy
1 organic lime (juice)
1 teaspoon acacia honey or agave syrup
a small piece of an Aloe Vera leaf (about 3 cm)
250 ml still or sparkling water
How To Make It
Press the lime juice and stir in the honey or agave syrup. Pour into a glass with ice cubes. Wash the Aloe leaf and peel it carefully. Dice the jelly like pulp finely and add to the lime juice. Top with water and stir well.
Chef Gabi’s Tip
Aloe juice helps to improve digestion. It is good for cleansing and detoxifying the body due to antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.
Here is two versions of my drink, that is now a regular on my personal summer treats. Which one you like better?
Our latest filming will be aired tomorrow, Friday, at 9 pm, at the Green Apple Show on MBC1…..very excited, and hope you all watch!
I have been very busy at work the last few weeks. Oh what am I saying, the last few months! No chance for even a short trip abroad to visit my beloved Bavaria, where I come from, to see the winter. Everyone at home is jealous though that I have everyday sunshine and warm weather while they have been freezing and shoveling snow. At least until recently, now finally some signs of spring are in the air.
To cure my longing for Bavaria I cooked some
flavors from home – away from home.
My home grown sweet marjoram (oregano family, but sweeter and milder) is beautiful and just perfect with its fragrant little leaves. Apart from its antioxidative benefits (think eternal youth!) it is a staple seasoning ingredient in Bavarian cuisine. I added it to my very simple but delicious
Potato Vegetable Soup with fresh Marjoram
What to Buy
1 carrot, diced
1 parsnip or parsley root (however parsley root is difficult to source here in the Middle East), diced
2 small potatoes, peeled, diced
1 small leek, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 small piece mace
2 tablespoons olive oil
500 ml vegetable stock
5 sprigs fresh marjoram, leaves picked
How to Make It
Braise in olive oil until golden the potatoes, parsnip and carrot with bay leaf and mace. Then add the vegetable stock and simmer for around 15 minutes on low heat. Add the leek, season with salt and pepper and serve with fresh marjoram leaves sprinkled all over.
Chef Gabi’s Tip:
I add sometimes dried cepes to the soup – they give this simple soup a significant upgrade! Must try.
This is what I cook at home when I feel not like cooking. A really easy to make recipe.
There is a miraculous richness in nature now. My favorite little berries are ripe – raspberries. Lucky me I am home in Germany to pick them fresh for my daily dose of delicious and powerful antioxdants, Vitamins C, A, E, B, and K. Did you know they also provide potassium, manganese, copper, iron and help to control blood pressure?
These little wonder fruits are best when they have not even seen a fridge. A luxury only possible if the fruits don’t have to travel anywhere!
We indulge in fresh, sun ripened raspberries now - apart from eating them just as they are, on muesli, with milk rice, or with créme brûlée.
I am a huge fan of home made raspberry sorbet. It is basically nothing else than pureed raspberries with a little bit of organic lemon juice and zest and either agave syrup or acacia honey, frozen in a sorbetière - incredibly good.
I recently hosted a private ladies afternoon tea on a hot summer day in the garden for my girlfriends and served refreshing raspberry sorbet in lime shells on crushed ice and rose raspberry punch. No question it was a hit!
Enjoy the summer and stay refreshed and healthy.
My understanding of food has always been related to what it does to our bodies. We are what we eat. Hence cooking has a lot to do with health and nutrition. It is the foundation of the art of chefs. Together with creativity and excitement it becomes something really great. This is what I have learnt from my mother since my childhood days and which is a major part of my life and my job until now. So it is in hers. We both are cookbook authors. We write about health, nutrition and practical culinary work. This is how we met Klaus Maria Einwanger, who became a dear friend over the years. I am very proud that my mother and I had the chance to work with this creative and renowned photograper. Now he invited us to his latest project: White Plate is an international interactive photo art and culture project.
The first edition of White Plate is between Germany and Great Britain.
We are very honored to be part of your hand picked group of award winning chefs, thank you Klaus! What a golden opportunity to reveal the thoughts behind the work of chefs and capture the essence of their inspiration. When your White Plate Project comes to the United Arab Emirates, we meet in my workplace at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai!
So health, nutrition and wonderful food was in the limelight - our vision and mission for our intense two day shoot at our house in Berchtesgaden in Bavaria.
Here Klaus and team at work, indoors and outdoors!
Needless to say we had a paradise of nature around us, supplying freshest local produce – however challenging and quite some fun, at times we desperately searched the forests for the right size model of cêpe mushrooms to be photographed. We checked the vegetable patch for carrots and leeks, some over sized, some too small for the image! Even weeds like the highly appreciated stinging nettle had their big day. Unfortunately the gardener thought he could mow them down and I was looking around to find survivors hidden between the bushes….
Luckily such work includes a lot of food by nature, and there were culinary breaks in between….
Susanne Hallwich was writing her beautiful texts for the work, you can read on www.white-plate.com. Enjoy!
Don’t be surprised I am talking about weeds again. And their culinary potential. It is just due to the fact that their presence is in direct interdependence to my (very regular) absence from my garden.
Luckily I am relaxed about weeds in the garden. Because most of them are not just edible, but a culinary upgrade for my cooking. I am cooking a lot with herbs. And with weeds. Today I harvested and cooked with chickweed (lat: stellaria media), one of my favorites.
The tiny, light green leaves are hiding between salads, under zucchini plants, between parsley and mint – simply everywhere. In summer they prefer shade to grow their tender leaves. But you can find them already in early spring until autumn. Even in mild winter. In my kitchen they play often a star part for salads, soups, and garnishes. I love them and cut them like cress. They are equally delicate, delicious and so beneficial. They provide Vitamin C, iron, copper, manganese, zinc and kalium. They help to strenghten the heart and the eyes, cleanse the blood and have a cooling effect.
Chickweed has been even in the limelight and photographed last week in our kitchen cum once-in-a-while-temporary photo studio by a professional photographer and dear friend, Klaus Maria Einwanger for his project www.white-plate.com. We, my mother and I, are very honored to be part of his culinary art project! More about it soon on this blog.
See how our Majlis looked when Klaus and his creative team were at our home in Berchtesgaden:
If you find chickweed in your vegetable patch, come with a scissor and cut the tips carefully to support continuous growth of this lovely herb/weed. You then could try the following recipe, another bavarian staple of my home:
My Bavarian Potato Salad
What to buy
6 medium size salad potatoes
1 white onion
4 table spoons apple cider vinegar
100 ml vegetable stock
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon agave syrup or acacia honey
6 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1 good handful chickweed (I often substitute it with either curly parsley, wild dandelion leaves or wild watercress)
How to Make It
Steam the washed potatoes in their skin for around 30 minutes until they are entirely soft inside. Peel the skin off the hot potatoes and allow them to cool just a little bit before you slice them. Boil the eggs for 8 minutes and peel them as well. Cut the eggs to wedges. Dice the onion and braise it in olive oil. Add the oil and the onions while still hot to the potatoes. Bring the vinegar, vegetable stock and honey to a boil, stir in the mustard and season with salt and pepper. Gently mix the potatoes with the hot mustard stock. Check the seasoning again, it could be you need to add a little bit more salt or vinegar. Add the eggs and arrange on plates. Garnish generously with the picked and washed chickweed and serve the salad immediately.
Chef Gabi’s Tip
To make a good potato salad is a science. Not really difficult, but a few things are vital to achieve the best result. First: Use salad potatoes. They are totally different to those used for mashed potatoes for example and most important, they don’t fall apart when mixed with the dressing but absorb the delicious liquid. Second: Use warm potatoes, not chilled ones. And use a hot dressing. So they can absorb flavors much better. Third: The Bavarian potato salad has an oily and a watery part in the dressing. Add the oil first to the potatoes and then the vinegar part. So you get the desired shiny and succulent texture. And last: Serve it at room temperature. There is not much worse than fridge cold potato salad.
Enjoy my Bavarian comfort food and don’t forget to check your garden for edible weeds!
Chocolate and Mint – this is not new. It is a culinary classic. However, I just love that flavor combination of smooth darkness (chocolate) and bright freshness (mint) in this dessert. This is for mint lovers. And for chocolate fans. Or both.
We made it yesterday, at the end of a sunny summer day and it was just the perfect finish of a dinner. Simple, but surprisingly good! Instructions: You have to take a spoon ful of the mousse, followed by a sip of the mint shooter, and so on….
Get the lemonade recipe here.
The mousse is melted dark chocolate (sugar free, honey sweetened), stirred hot into a mix of whipped cream, sour cream, crème fraîche, honey and a little bit of organic orange zest. Grated chocolate sprinkled on the surface once the mousse is plated in portion glasses, and garnished with the true dark peppermint. The mousse can be prepared in advance, the lemonade is best à l a minute, as we call it.
Have a lovely day and stay refreshed in summer.
Bad weeds grow tall. Everyone owning and maintaining a garden knows what this means. Painfully. Apart from gardening in Dubai, there is a lot less weeds around thanks to hot climate. I have never seen the below described weed there. Lucky me! But anywhere else there is a constant fight against the ever growing weeds hiding between the beautiful flowers and plants we want to spread their leaves. Weeds just mingle and try to match as long as they are young. Later they take over your garden. This can happen before you know it. And then it becomes a big task to eliminate them. But necessary, if you wish your wanted plants to have space to breathe. I am sometimes undecided about so called weeds. They can be a delicious asset to the kitchen. Sometimes at least.
Gardeners for sure know ground-elder. It belongs to the carrot family and is named the worst weed ever for a garden.
BUT: It is edible! Ah, great idea: The smart gardener cooks with weeds. Organic weed management, ha!
Let’s eliminate it by heavy use in the kitchen then…I thought and yes, this works if you manage to use it often enough. Here is one recipe I like, with crispy fried ground-elder leaves. Fried their taste is really lovely. The raw leaves can be eaten in salads as long as they are young and tender. They have an earthy taste, matching well with anything of sweeter taste like sweet potatoes, carrots and pumpkin for example.
The picture shows ground-elder leaves with marigold blossoms, both picked for the following recipe. (You can see I am on summer holidays in my Bavarian home, and gardening. Sometimes.)
Pumpkin Soup with Fried Ground Elder and Marigold
What to Buy
200 g pumpkin, peeled, deseeded
1 small potato, peeled
1 onion, peeled
1 small piece of ginger, peeled
350 ml vegetable stock or water
75 ml cream, whipped
salt, pepper to taste
1 organic orange (juice and zest)
1/2 red chili, deseeded, chopped
1 good hand full of young ground elder leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 marigold blossoms for garnish
How to Make It
Cut the carrot, onion, potato, ginger and pumpkin into chunky pieces. Boil them for around 10 minutes in 250 ml water or vegetable stock until they are soft enough to puree. Blend water/stock and vegetable pieces to a creamy soup. It could be that you need a little bit more additional liquid to achieve the right texture. Then season the soup with salt and pepper. I often add a dash of orange juice and zest, and sometimes I love to add a little bit of fresh chili too. But this is my very personal taste. Without you get the milder version. Just try it….!
For the crispy ground-elder preheat a non stick pan. Fry the leaves in the hot oil for just a few seconds and pat dry them on a kitchen cloth. Note: The oil must not be too hot though, otherwise the leaves turn brown.
Garnish the soup with whipped cream, topped with crispy ground-elder and marigold blossoms.
Chef Gabi’s Tip
Ground elder has got some remarkable health benefits too: It can be used against rheumatic diseases, and strengthens kidneys and bladder. Overall it is said to activate our metabolism, helps to detox our system and provides us with chlorophyll and Vitamin C. Not bad for a so called “bad ” weed, isn’t it?
Stay healthy, balanced and enjoy life!
Summer greetings from Dubai !
To maintain a herb garden is providing much culinary joy for a chef. I do have one in Dubai in Madinat Jumeirah (picture on the right with Burj Al Arab in the background) and one in my Bavarian home. These two herb gardens work quite different. While the garden in Dubai comes live and lush in the winter season, the other one disappears under a thick layer of white snow from December until February. And while my lovely Dubai herbs are suffering in the summer heat, I can harvest large bunches of various herbs in Germany. When I am there.
I usually don’t plant any new herbs in Dubai between June and October to avoid my disappointment when the young greens are slowly reducing until they have vanished. Without me cutting them.
But I leave what is already there and strong. And see, what is nicely growing as if weather is pleasant and not hot at all? My mint!
Just to compare: Mint in Dubai ……..
…..and Mint in Bavaria (a different type though, called apple mint)
I love mint. This refreshing taste. So cooling. Perfect for summery dishes. Look at below little salad I made today – steamed baby carrots, fava beans, baby zucchini with feta cheese, toasted pine nuts and a good hand of picked mint leaves. I added a few mint blossoms just because they are so pretty. A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a dash of fresh pressed lemon juice and voilà, a nourishing, cooling and summery dish is ready to serve.
For aromatic drink with mint you can also see a recipe here.
Enjoy the summer.
Recently I cut my roses in the garden. They have suffered in the heat and dried out a little bit, despite the fact I gave them enough water. So I thought I have to pamper them with an extra dose of ground coffee (leftover when coffee is made – recycle!) after the cut. It was good to see how fast they recovered, they became very green. Now they rewarded me with even more beautifully smelling blossoms. I took one off, trying to get more excitement to my daily intake of 2 litres of water (pure water is sometimes boring, isn’t it?), and mixed the rose blossom with diced strawberries, vanilla pod, organic lemon and plenty of still spring water. After a couple of hours in the fridge this drink was so refreshing and delicious! Look also here for another flavored water.