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11 posts from February 2007

White winter vegetable gratin


My vegetable ennui of a few weeks ago has not lifted entirely, but one Greens' recipe that succeeded in stirring my fancy was their 'White Winter Vegetables Baked in Cream.' Soup has been the way I've solved the question of the many unfamiliar vegetables that crop up in the cold months, but this dish suggested itself as a more sophisticated vehicle for fennel, leeks and potatoes. I replaced the celery root with parsley root and added shallots as well; as the authors say, the recipe lends itself to variation.

The soothing activity of preparing the vegetables took about half an hour at a leisurely pace, and we are looking forward to the leftovers we've packed to take to work, nicely macerated now in the thyme-fragrant cream.

White winter vegetable gratin

  • 3 leeks
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 3 parsley roots (approximately 8.5 oz), peeled
  • 6 new potatoes, peeled
  • 5 shallots, peeled and halved
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic
  • Leaves of 8 branches of thyme or 3/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 C cream
  • 5 T butter
  • 1 cup bread crumbs (I used a day-old baguette torn roughly)

Thinly chop the white parts of the leeks, putting aside the greens for stock. Core the fennel bulb if needed and cut into thin slices. Thinly slice the parsley roots and potatoes too. Butter a gratin dish and rub it with the garlic clove.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Put down half the vegetables, sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme, then top with the rest of the vegetables. Pour over the cream and dot the surface with two tablespoons of butter. Cover loosely with a piece of aluminum foil, then bake for 30 minutes. While the vegetables are baking, melt 3 T butter and toss with the bread crumbs. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and top with bread crumbs, then bake for another 30-40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Serve with bread to mop up the sauce and some lemony greens for contrast.

The Fernsehturm Espied


Breakfast yogurt berry cake


I told David I'd made breakfast berry bread because I liked the ring of it, but the internet holds me to other standards and I will confess here that in fact it is cake, if a mildly sweet one quite suited to breakfast. Its base - the yogurt cake - is the first recipe I ever made from a food blog, shortly after discovering Chocolate & Zucchini via Vinography. This morning, the two tubs of yogurt languishing in the fridge plus forest berries in the freezer made this recipe a shoo-in. (The Waldbeeren you can buy here - red currants, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries - provided the perfect bracing tartness.)

I followed the original to the t, really, though to draw out the bustling domesticity I did first beat the eggs, then add the sugar, then the yogurt, then the oil, vanilla extract and the lemon zest (which I substituted for the rum). This turned out well, but mixing up everything at once is quite certainly just as effective. Fold in a generous cupful of frozen berries at the end and you're done.

ETA Hoffmann


(photo taken from the E.T.A. Hoffmann website)

I'd never really noticed E.T.A. Hoffmann, though I must have passed it every day for the few weeks I lived in Yorckstraße. (Of course in 2001 fancy meals were neither on my radar nor within my means.) Flipping through Zitty's restaurant guide a few weeks ago, though, David and I immediately took note of ETA Hoffmann's three-course vegetarian menu for 25 (now 27) EUR. It is seldom simple for vegetarians to celebrate with fancy meals, and we starred their entry with an eye to our upcoming anniversary.

It can be soothing not to have to choose, and the vegetarian Überraschungsmenu (or surprise menu) allowed us to lean back and talk and drink our wine while course followed course, an artichoke heart gratineed with soft goat's cheese, a savoy cabbage strudel on a bed of roasted root vegetables, and a trio of sweets to end: date chocolate strudel, a boozy scoop of chocolate parfait, and firm cubes of pear, with two pitchers of bean-specked vanilla custard to pour on top (or into our spoons). Each dish - sweeping platters of German porcelain - was dotted with sauces in a way that I immediately appreciated as the Fancy Restaurant touch, from the balsamic emulsion that punctuated our opening salad to the almost-sweet cream sauce underlying the celeriac and parsley root to the bright mint dots that united our final course.

In notable contrast to the relaxed (verging on indifferent) service I've come to expect, even enjoy in Berlin restaurants, everyone here was attentive to a fault, topping glasses and whisking plates onto and off the table with alacrity, murmuring "but your dessert is on its way" when I was exiting to visit the ladies room. Of course, that's the sort of thing that makes it feel like an occasion.

E.T.A. Hoffmann, Yorckstraße 83 (map)
Tel. + 49 30 780 98809, e.t.a.hoffmann@arcor.de (Reservations are certainly a good idea; note that they've got a non-smoking section, which as of now is still a rarity.)
Open Wed to Mon from 5 pm