Bali Ubud–Erfurt

Chicken Satay

The restaurant landscape in Erfurt has welcomed a new international addition with the opening of Bali Ubud, an Indonesian, specifically Balinese restaurant that has been open for almost a year now.

I was worried that it wouldn’t appeal to the locals, since Indonesian food doesn’t conform to what Germans think of as “Asian” food. But it seems like Erfurters, or those who live in the city, are a more curious sort. The restaurant is well received, and is full of people around lunchtime. It’s prime location, full of foot traffic, certainly has a lot to do with it.

Having eaten twice here, I could say that the dishes are authentic, while tweaking it just a little to suit European tastes. They use ingredients that Europeans are familiar with. So nothing weird like fish paste on the menu.

The dishes are very filling, and they do vegetables well. Their Chicken Satay was a bit dry, though, and their Kopi Luwak was…watered down?  I really hope not. Maybe Kopi Luwak is really just mellow. I love the interior design of the place, they really did a good job of taking Balinese elements and evoking a tropical oasis in the middle of cold Europe.

If you’re in town and curious to try something new, drop by

Bali Ubud Restaurant

Marktstrasse 45
99084 Erfurt

Kouritis / Erfurt

 

Kouritis Erfurt

I really like getting invited to restaurants because it gives me the opportunity to try out new places and new cuisines.

There used to be a stall at the Cathedral Square in Erfurt that sold Cretan products. They had olive oil, thyme honey, and cheeses from the island of Crete. It was run by a couple–he was Cretan, she German–who then decided to open a restaurant.

It has been open for over a year now, and this is normally a make.or-break time period for a restaurant. If the novelty wears off and you still get a ton of customers, it means that you’ve made it! It looks like they did.

I was part of a party of ten. We decided against ordering individual dishes and got several platters of Cretan specialties instead. So we had the meat platter, the appetizer platter (consisting of dips for the baskets of bread brought by the hosts), the cheese platter and the seafood platter, just to get a vibe of the restaurant.

The atmosphere was great! Cozy place in the heart of the city–it’s better to pay more rent since the traffic that you get pays more than enough. I really liked the dips. And the fries were just luxurious–and not only because it was deep-fried in extra virgin olive oil! The meat was a bit on the dry side, but I liked the pork belly a lot.

Over-all, it was excellent advertising for the owner’s home village in Crete. The interiors were cozy, filled with old family pictures, and a photo album was passed around, which showed the guests who made what. The Olive oil they sell, for example, comes from the olive grove of the owner’s cousin. The honey is organic and comes from a family friend.

The cuisine wasn’t really my cup of tea, but I would visit it just to keep the variety in Erfurt’s restaurant landscape. And also for the freshly-squeezed orange juice.

 

Kouritis Erfurt

Grafengasse 30, 99084 Erfurt

Reservations at info@suedkretaschaetze.de or at +49 361 657 09636

 

 

Challah for Schabbos

I am a person that is generally fond of religious rituals. I like the steady, practiced rythym of their execution, the prayers passed down through centuries. So I was really excited to finally participate in this year’s Yiddish Summer Weimar, a yearly series of musical events to celebrate Yiddish culture and language, after work commitments kept me busy the past years.

And I was even more excited to participate in a Yiddish cooking class. Since yesterday was a Friday, the class prepared meals for Schabbos or Schabes, which is Yiddish for the Sabbath. I didn’t really do much except practice my onion-cutting skills, but it was interesting to learn different cooking techniques and ways to prepare food.

We Gentiles learned that baking Challah is an essential part of the Schabbos. Challah is basically a sweet braided loaf of bread, without milk and butter. And they need to bake at least two loaves. I’m so impressed with our multilingual instructor Paulette Bielasiak who gave instructions in French, German, Yiddish, and English without missing a beat! This is her recipe.

Dissolve a packet (42 g) of active dry yeast in 360 ml of lukewarm water, and add into a kilogram of flour. Mix thoroughly either by hand or bread machine, and add two eggs, 100 ml oil (something neutral-tasting, like sunflower or canola), and 100 grams of sugar (can be less, this is a matter of taste). Add half a tablespoon of salt, and knead until it forms a coherent ball. Add flour if needed. Cover the bowl and let it rise in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in bulk (about 45 minutes to an hour. This process will be faster if using fresh yeast.)

After proofing the bread, divide into six equal parts, and roll them until they are about an inch thick and a foot long. Take three ropes, press them together at one end, tuck it under, and proceed to braid. Press the ends of the braid again together and tuck underneath the loaf. Let the loaves rise again for thirty minutes by leaving them in a warm (50°C) oven.

When they have risen sufficiently, take them out of the oven. Turn the heat up to 170° C. Beat an egg with a tablespoon of sugar and glaze the loaves with a brush, and bake for 25 minutes.

We also had Latkes, Choulent, Gefilte Fish, and a salad comprised of mashed hard-boiled eggs mixed with spring onions. The kilo and a half of onion that I chopped went into a side dish that involved caramelizing an onion in some oil and a knob (about a tablespoon) of butter for thirty minutes, then adding five beaten eggs into the pot. I don’t know what it’s called, but it was really tasty.

Yiddish food is really heavy, I guess it has to be if one can’t cook for a whole day!

Salisbury Bistek a la Burnt Lumpia

I always have ground meat in the fridge because it is versatile, and I am sure that my boy would eat it. Problem is, I cannot only eat Spaghetti Bolognese and Hamburgers. A solution must be found!

That solution came after searching the web and came upon this recipe from Burnt Lumpia, one of my favorite Filipino Food blogs on the net. I added some breadcrumbs to  extend  the meat, since I only bought 250 g.

The results were great. I should have followed the recipe more closely because I overcooked the steak, for fear of eating raw meat. I should not have worried so much and followed the recipe to a T.

And because it is kid-approved,  this will be in dinnertime rotation!

 

 

Bab & Bab Erfurt

Sometimes, I am not sure if something is delicious because it is delicious, or it is because of nostalgia.

One of the things that I have sorely missed is a good Chapchae, Korean glass noodles made from mung bean. Last time I ate it, I made it myself. Or was it in Manila? Nevertheless, Korean food is finally making its way to the provinces of Germany, with San in Weimar, and now, Bab & Bab in Erfurt!

It is run by 2 very nice German-speaking Korean ladies. It is very close to the hospital and the university, right in front of the tram stop “Klinikum”. I made a mental note to drop by as soon as I got the chance, and ordered a big bowl of Chapchae that I inhaled, slippery metal chopsticks be damned.

They have € 5.50 lunch specials, and they don’t serve much outside of the hits of Korean cuisine (Bibimbap, Chapchae, Kimchi). The Kimchi, which they make themselves, is delicious. Just the right amount of tang and spice that added that welcome kick to the Chapchae.

So to settle things, I will have to make another visit. I am encouraged by their assertion that they have a very busy lunch crowd, because I really want them to stay!

 

Bab & Bab

Nordhäuserstr. 72, 99089 Erfurt

0361 7896 0440

Open Mo-Fri 10:30 am- 9 pm

Sunday 11 am- 9 pm

 

Pinoy-style Empanadas with Puff Pastry Shells

I love empanadas! The Spanish version of the sandwich is a shared culinary legacy among all Hispanic countries, and this quick recipe is even made easier because ready-made puff pastry (Blätterteig)  is available in German supermarkets. No more making my own dough! I would, however, not recommend re-rolling to re-use the rest of the pastry because then they puff up too much.

I was under pressure to make these empanadas and clocked myself making them in 1 hour and 30 minutes total, from start to finish including waiting time. It also helped that cubed chicken bits are available pre-packaged in supermarkets here.

I normally use 4 rolls of puff pastry from the supermarket. 3 garlic cloves and 1 small onion, finely chopped, 1 (about 420 g) pound cubed (maybe 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch?) chicken breast,100 g frozen green peas, 100 g raisins (could be less, or optional), 1 small potato and 1 small carrot, diced

Pre-heat oven to 200° C and bring out the green peas to defrost. Sauté the garlic and onions in about 2 tablespoons of oil, then add the chicken, and fry until no longer pink. Add two to three dashes of salt to bring out the juices from the chicken. Add the potatoes and carrots, letting them absorb the liquid from the chicken. Stir fry for about five minutes, add the green peas and then the raisins, and season with salt and pepper. The raisins should absorb the rest of the liquid from the chicken, and maybe the remaining ice/water from the peas. When the potatoes and peas are done, put the mix in a collander and let the excess liquid drip off. Wait for the filling to cool! Puff pastry is mostly butter, and the heat could weaken the dough.

empanadasMeanwhile, I got to work on the shells. I used a small bowl about 7 inches across to cut out circles into the unfurled puff pastry. A Tablespoon of the filling in the middle, fold the dough in half, then crimp and seal the edges with the tines of a fork. Pierce the shell three times, and bake for about fifteen to twenty minutes, until golden. The filling is enough to make 35 empanadas, or you can only buy two puff pastry rolls, set aside half of the filling, then add tomato sauce and a bay leaf to make Philippine-style chicken menudo from the leftovers. I am getting better at this waste not thing.

Puto Bungbong

Puto Bumbong is one of the things I miss the most about the Philippines. I guess it also has something to do with the fact that I miss Filipino Christmastime, and Puto Bumbong is the thing that reminds me the most of it. It is made of coconut milk, rice flour, and purple yam, called Ube in the Philippines, and steamed in the hollow of a bamboo reed (hence the name Bumbong, the word for bamboo reed.)

So imagine my delight when my friend prepared some puto bumbong for me, with enough left over to take home! She made it in her rice cooker, which has left me contemplating whether I should get one. As I said, I must be the only Filipino on the planet who is rice cooker-less.

East and Southeast Asian desserts, in general, are an acquired taste for Europeans because many are made of rice. The gooey, chewy texture is very weird for them. I completely understand! I guess it is one of those things you have to grow up with to love. My friend’s husband gave me the side-eye as I enjoyed my Puto Bumbong with grated coconut and muscovado sugar.

With my puto bumbong craving satisfied for the meantime, I think I’ll make more of these in the future!

 

Lasagne Bolognese

This recipe from The Silver Spoon cookbook is a recipe that I could very well get behind. It is very easy to make, the ingredients are not hard to find, even in the Philippines. It also emphasizes the simplicity of Italian cooking.

The recipe serves 4.

3 Tablespoons olive oil, 1 chopped carrot, 1 chopped onion, 300 g ground meat. 100 ml dry white wine, 250 g tomato sauce, 25 g butter, plus extra for greasing, and Bechamel sauce. 

Make the noodles beforehand. While waiting for it to rest, make the sauce by sauteeing the carrots and onions in low heat, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Add the meat and stir until browned, then pour the wine and cook until evaporated. Season the salt, add the tomato sauce, and simmer for 30 minutes. Then season with pepper. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Grease a small baking dish (9×11 inches approximately) with butter.

Meanwhile, roll out the pasta to appropriate thinness, and into 4 inch squares (10 cm). Let dry for 2-3 minutes and then cook in a pot of salted water in a rolling boil, a few at a time. Take out with a slotted spoon and place on a damp tea towel.  Arrange a layer of lasagne, meat sauce, and bechamel sauce on top. Sprinkle with parmesan sauce and dot with butter flakes. Repeat the layers until the dish is full, ending with a layer of bechamel sauce. Bake for 30 minutes.

 

Noodles Toodles

The summer of my 11thyear was spent poring over my aunt’s cookbooks and made my own noodles. I think I even had noodles as an afternoon snack, since I made so many noodles,  with the obsessiveness that only an 11-year old kid can muster.

So I find it surprising that it took me over twenty(!) years to make my own noodles again using the recipe in the book “The Silver Spoon,” which I got as a present last Christmas.

So basically it’s just two eggs, 250 grams of flour, and a bit more to dust the surface. Create a depression in the middle, crack one egg in the middle, add a pinch of salt, mix. Crack the next egg, and mix. The dough should turn shiny and elastic. If it is too dry, wet your hands and knead. If too wet, add a bit more flour on your mixing surface. Form into a ball, then let it rest for fifteen minutes to an hour in the fridge, or use it the next day after covering the ball with plastic wrap.

I don’t have a pasta machine. People are surprised that I don’t have one, nor a rice cooker. I have tiny kitchen syndrome, so I am trying to avoid buying something that is so specialized. Rolling the dough manually was much easier with a plastic pastry rolling pin rather than a wooden one. I first rolled the ball as flat as I could, then halved it, rolling it as flat as I could, then halving it…you get the pattern.

As you see, the results are indeed quite thin. We made Farfalle, my son’s favorite. And since the noodles are fresh, they only need to be cooked in boiling water for one to two minutes. Unfortunately, the dough does not keep well for over a day or after it has been rolled, so it has to be eaten almost immediately.  Serves four.

The Mouth is Willing, But The Stomach Is Weak

Photo by TQE

A side trip to Berlin for TQE’s belated 30th birthday party was one of the more satisfying and jam-packed 24- hour whirlwind trips I have ever taken in my lifetime.

I decided to ignore my body and my subconscious’ signal to SLOW DOWN (if a dream about being almost sucked into a tornado is a sign for someone to slow down, I don’t know what is) just for this one weekend and headed over to Berlin, where Adam and I finally went satisfy my years-long Ethiopian food munchies at Betje Ethiopia, which a former colleague of his recommended.

First of all, I would like to praise TQE’s unbelievable Panasonic Lumix camera (I think it is a GF 6?), which took still life photos with amazing picture quality in low-light conditions. Really, if I have ever envied one of Adam’s toys, it was this one.

So we had this great lentil soup as a starter, which tasted like munggo guisado without rice. We ate it with injira, the traditional unleavened bread that Ethiopians eat with everything.  And we downed it with tej, traditional honey wine. I got pleasantly buzzed but not drunk, and I know now after reading Cooked that fermented sweet things with an over 2% alcohol content does not occur in nature. But I digress.

I came to regret even ordering appetizers. For 22 euros, we shared a huge platter about a foot and a half across that had this massive injira pancake on it, dotted with several vegetarian and non-vegetarian dips. We tore that injira bit by bit with our smelly, greasy Ethiopian-food stained hands hands until we said i no mas! with half a plate of dips still left over. Seriously though, I would have eaten the whole thing, especially since I especially didn’t eat lunch in anticipation. However, since we didn’t reserve a table, we had to leave by 7:30, and miss the traditional Ethiopian coffee roasting ceremony the restaurant has at 8. Seriously, guys, if you want to eat here, reserve a table, and come with an empty stomach.

After hitting the Berlinale Film Festival for a movie and coming home to a fitful night’s sleep at around 1:30 am, I woke up to be fashionably late at Adam’s brunch party, which was held at a restaurant called 12 Apostel. You take the S-bahn to Savigny Platz, take the exit to Bleibtreu Strasse, and you’re right there.

If there is any German city that takes brunch to another level, it is Berlin. 12 Apostel is a growing Italian chain restaurant in Berlin, and for 18 euros, you have the brunch experience, bar none. They have bread. They have scrambled eggs. They have fruit, deviled eggs, bacon, and did I mention the panna cotta? And the crepe station? And the juice and water station? They really had everything, and an amazing cheese selection to boot. A warm drink, a glass of Prosecco, and the juice and water bar is included with the meal. Really, I just wanted to have one little bit… more, but sorry, I was so full. I even took a walk in between courses just to pace myself.

pannaI swear by the panna cotta. How they are able to mass-produce such an awesome panna cotta is beyond me. TQE credits Snooker in Berlin for the amazing restaurant find.

It was the perfect party. Great company, good food, what more can you ask for? Thank you Adam, for hosting such a great weekend!

 

Betje Ethiopia

Zietenstraße 8, 10783 Berlin

S-bahn and U-bahn Nollendorf Platz

030 2625933

 

12 Apostel

Bleibtreustraße 49
10623 Berlin Charlottenburg

Brunch only Sundays from 10 am-3 pm, 18 €