wings

Sometimes it feels like you can find just about anything under the sun in Berlin. There’s rarely a moment when I find myself “craving” something from California, because really – I can always find something exactly like it or at least pretty darn close.

The one exception? Buffalo wings. I’ve tried some at the American-style restaurants here, but it just doesn’t cut it. There’s always something off about it – the hot sauce is weird and watery, the chicken is overcooked, the skin is sort of gummy, or it really just doesn’t resemble chicken wings at all. Boo.

So I decided to take this into my own hands. I have a beloved bottle of Crystal Hot Sauce in my pantry that I brought over from the States – but I’m trying to make it last as long as possible, so I was hesitant to go all out with the classic buffalo sauce. I’ve also got my favorite sauce of all time – the Secret Aardvark habanero hot sauce (picked up from Portland, OR). I can’t get enough of this stuff, but I’m also trying to make it last.

As I was rummaging through the fridge, I spot a bottle of maple syrup that I never use. Then the idea of a habanero maple glaze hits me. A little bit of both the hot sauces goes a long way and makes for a killer sauce. Classic buffalo is usually my go-to flavor (scoot aside, lemon pepper!), but this one is a formidable rival. Sweet and savory, with a smoky-spicy kick.

This is a baked version, because I’m weaning off fried foods. And to be honest, if done right, the difference is hardly missed! I might even prefer baked actually.

Tip: Let the wings air-dry (uncovered) in the fridge overnight first – this dehydrates the surface of the wings enough to allow them to brown more rapidly in the oven so you don’t end up with rubbery, overcooked chicken. Crisped and browned on the outside, tender on the inside. Perfect.

Ingredients
1 lb fresh chicken wings
1 tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, minced
4 tsp real maple syrup (grade A, medium or dark amber)
3 tbsp your favorite habanero hot sauce (Mine: Secret Aardvark)
1 tbsp Louisiana-style hot sauce (i.e. Frank’s Red Hot, Crystal)
1 pinch red chili pepper
1 pinch salt
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Worchestire sauce
1 tsp whole grain, Djion mustard

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tunaendive_main

I always pass by the endives at the grocery store across from my apartment and consider getting them, but somehow get distracted by something else and forget about it. Oops. So, I made it a point to finally get me some endives this weekend.

You know how after tiring work days, sometimes you don’t really have an appetite for dinner anymore? It’s been happening to me a lot recently. All I want to do is go home, whip up something quick, shower and sleep. So this creation came at the perfect time. Healthy, light snack after those long days.

Tuna salad endive cups. Growing up, I always ate my tuna salad with Ritz crackers, but endives are a much healthier (and maybe even tastier) option. They peel back into these little, peppery boat-shaped cups, and make for a really delightful vehicle to deliver tuna salad to mouth!

And even better, this is literally one of the easiest things to make.

Ingredients
1 head endive, peeled and washed
6oz can tuna (in olive oil), drained
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1/2 red onion, finely diced
2 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted
4 tbsp mayo
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp djion mustard
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Pinch of salt
Pinch of black pepper
Pinch of red chili powder
Pinch of dried tarragon (optional)

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bagelsmain

It’s been great being back in Berlin, and much of my time has been spent catching up with friends over dinner. And on the nights that I do stay in, the cold, gloomy winter turns me into a couch potato, and I would much rather bundle up with a hot cup of tea and order delivery (which sucks here, by the way).

Needless to say, my kitchen hasn’t gotten much love recently. And I guess neither has my body, considering I ate out every day this past week. Sigh.

So I woke up this Saturday morning afternoon determined to take on a culinary challenge I’ve never attempted before – bagels.

There are two things I miss from home that I didn’t realize I missed so much until I actually visited California this past holiday break. Bagels and Easy Mac.

You can find bagels in some places around here, but none that are nearly as good as the ones in the States. And as for Easy Mac? I’m pretty sure it’s banned here because some of the sketchy chemical ingredients in the cheese sauce. And although that’s probably a good thing, I can’t help but be sad about it. There’s just something really good but really gross about Easy Mac that I can’t really explain. I guess you could say it’s equivalent to how I feel about Taco Bell.

Sigh, I miss Taco Bell too.

But for this lovely Saturday, bagels! Mmm dense, slightly chewy, aromatic bagels right out of the oven – such a delight. (And makes for a good excuse to eat copious amounts of cream cheese – which reminds me, I need to run to the market to buy a second tub).

Ingredients
3 ½ cups bread flour or high-gluten flour
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups warm water
1 ½ tsp of instant yeast
1 ½ tsp of granulated sugar
1 egg, beaten

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applegalette

The holiday season is upon us! And it’s the best time of the year! This Thanksgiving was the first Thanksgiving that I spent away from friends and family, which sucked a little. It was a tricky holiday to coordinate too, because I’m no longer surrounded by my fellow Americans – and from what I’ve heard, Thanksgiving to them just sounds like an excuse for Americans to spend an entire day eating. (Partially true, I guess).

But as Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, there was no way I wasn’t going to celebrate it. Luckily my boyfriend was here with me and we were able to make a modest, mini-feast for ourselves – roast chicken and stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes, and this apple galette.

I normally really dislike apple desserts – there’s something unpleasant about the gumminess of the apples and how sweet it is when it’s cooked down. I always find myself forking around the apples just to get to the crust, which is really the best part.

And that’s why I love this galette so much. The apple-to-crust ratio is about 60/40 and the apples don’t get too mushy. And the crust is a little salty (and a saltier dessert is always a better dessert in my kitchen).

Although Thanksgiving was a while ago, I thought I’d post this because Christmas is right around the corner and this galette deserves to make it onto your table this year.

Recipe from Bon Appétit, with a few minor modifications:

Ingredients
Crust
1 tbsp granulated sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 tbsp chilled butter, cubed
1 large egg

Filling
¼ cup (½ stick) salted butter
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds removed
2 baking apples (eg. Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Pink Lady, Honeycrisp), sliced ⅛-in thick
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp granulated sugar

Maple Cream
2 cups heavy cream
2 tbsp pure maple syrup

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spooncustard

Whoa! It’s been a while since I’ve updated this thing. The move to Germany, and all the transitioning that followed, has pretty much taken over my life. It’s about time I hop back into the kitchen and start tackling my ever-growing list of food experiments.

I’m still getting used to grocery stores here in Berlin, but as I become more fluent in German, grocery shopping is starting to feel less and less like a scavenger hunt every week.

It’s interesting to see what kinds of stuff that I’m so used to seeing at American grocery stores that are almost impossible to find here. Good-quality dark brown sugar, vanilla extract, ready-to-bake cookie dough, kale, cilantro, red onions, watermelon, ginger, green onions, fresh fish, a good cut of steak, pure peanut butter, and the list goes on.

But, on the bright side, in place of those items are the most delicious yogurts, freshly baked breads, smoked and cured meats straight from the butcher (just great charcuterie across the board), shelves of amazing Hefeweizen, rich and not-horrifically-processed chocolates, and all sorts of odd beverages I have yet to try.

Anyway, back to the recipe. My sister and brother-in-law went on their honeymoon to New Zealand a couple of months ago and brought back this freeze-dried passionfruit powder – a punch of pure passionfruit-iness, wonderfully preserved and packaged into this convenient pouch by the company “Fresh As”.

Fresh as? Fresh as what? Fun fact – apparently adding “as” to the end of an adjective is common slang in New Zealand (the most common phrase being “sweet as”). I guess the “as” just puts an emphasis on the adjective preceding it. Neat as! (Did I use that right?)

With this freeze-fried passionfruit powder came the following recipe. I added some of my own notes in there – tidbits of what I learned in the process of making it.

Easy to prep and super indulgent.

Ingredients
5 eggs
160g caster sugar
4 tbsp passionfruit powder
400ml cream
400ml milk
Fresh passionfruit halves for serving (optional)

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Tex-mex scramble breakfast wrap

You know those times when you eat something so good at a restaurant, that you just want to have it everyday? But then you realize how expensive and excessive it would be to go to the same restaurant all the time?

For me, it’s a not-so-rare occasion. A few days ago, I headed up to San Francisco with my boyfriend and we had brunch at Mymy Coffee Shop in Nob Hill. I’ve been here once before but really came back for their tex-mex scramble this time, which I wasn’t able to order last time but have been thinking about it ever since.

It was everything I was hoping for, and a tad more. I think the warmed tortillas were ultimately what won me over.

Needless to say, the next morning, we started to crave for it again. But because San Francisco is such a long trek away, we had take matters into our own hands are recreate it in our own kitchen.

Ingredients
4 oz ground chorizo
4 large eggs
1 1/2 tbsp milk.
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 ripe avocado, sliced thinly lengthwise
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded
4-6 small corn tortillas
2 tbsp olive oil
Sour cream
Salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
Your favorite hot sauce (optional)

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Classic Mignonette

They say everything deserves a second chance. I gave raw oysters well, somewhere closer to 5. The first time I ever tried an oyster, I was forced into doing so, and even shed a tear (or two) while trying to chew and swallow it. Still a little traumatized.

This past weekend, I drove up with a few friends up to Tomales Bay – the hub where all oyster-loving foodies gather to feast. It’s as fresh as it gets here – located right on the oyster farm, where you can buy them straight from the bay and by the pound.

I tried a couple more here at Tomales Bay. I figured why not, maybe if they’re fresh, they’ll taste better? Nope. Don’t ask me about my irrational fear of these mollusks, because I don’t really get it either. Maybe because a raw oyster reminds me of a fleshy, saltwater-saturated loogie, with gills?

Nonetheless, it was a great time spent with good company and new friends. I was asked to prepare the toppings for our little oyster festivity – and I was excited about the idea, despite knowing close to nothing about oysters. What I did know about dressing oysters is that you want to keep the flavors as light and crisp as possible, keeping the integrity of the oyster’s flavor intact.

Note: Asian-style toppings are usually a safe bet, i.e. thinly sliced ginger + black vinegar or ponzu sauce.

It’s an extremely straightforward recipe, so you can’t really go wrong here no matter how hard you try. And my more oyster-enthused friends confirmed that it was delicious and kept going back for more. So that’s a good sign.

Prepare this at least 24 hours in advance (up to 4 days in advance) to let the flavors merry before serving.

Ingredients
1 cup shallot, diced
2 cups red wine vinegar
2 tsp black pepper, freshly cracked

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