Homemade Pasta with Chanterelle Walnut Pesto

© Qin Xie-Krieger

© Qin Xie-Krieger

Maybe because the days are becoming noticeably shorter and colder, right now I am so much into pasta & co. “Pasta makes happy.” – I once heard. Whether it is true, I can not say. But one thing is clear: Pasta tastes just fantastic! Furthermore, it is so easy and quick to prepare. The most important thing: A great sauce is a must!

Since I got my great food processor, I make pasta mostly myself. It is amazingly simple and faster than you could think. And I can say it again and again loudly: Fresh pasta tastes just so much better! :-)

© Qin Xie-Krieger

© Qin Xie-Krieger

However, I only like pasta with the “right” consistency. It should not be too chewy, but also not too soft. (Unfortunately) I can not share the opinion of most chefs about the most popular principle of pasta recipes: Each 100g flour goes with an egg. The dough with this flour-to-egg-ratio is too hard and chewy for my taste because of too much protein.

© Qin Xie-Krieger

© Qin Xie-Krieger

After I experimented numerous times with the flour-to-egg ratio, my own recipe for pasta looks now like this: For 300g flour one whole egg and three egg yolks. This way I can have the exact right consistency (for my taste) as well as an shiny yellow color in my pasta! :-)

Outside it is raining again. The sky is covered with grey clouds. It could be a grey autumn day. But, I am enjoying my pasta with a delicious autumnal pesto with chanterelles and walnuts! So beautiful can a rainy autumn day be! Yes, pasta does make me happy! ;-)

© Qin Xie-Krieger

© Qin Xie-Krieger

Ingredients:

For the pasta:
300g flour
1 whole egg
3 egg yolks
50 ml water
A pinch of salt
A dash of olive oil

Preparation: Mix all ingredients well and knead for about 10 minutes in food processor. Cover the dough with plastic wrap, let it rest for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Make the thin pasta using a pasta machine.

For the chanterelles and walnut pesto:
200g chanterelle mushrooms (cleaned and chopped)
50g dried chanterelles (soaked in warm water for 30 min.)
50g walnuts (rosted in pan without oil)
½ onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (pressed)
2 branches of rosemary (finely chopped)
3 branches of thyme (finely chopped)
Olive oil in a very good quality (extra virgin)
2 tablespoons olive oil for frying
Salt & pepper

Preparation: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a sauce pan and fry the onions briefly. Add the remaining ingredients except walnuts, cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the walnuts and season with salt and pepper. Chill the pesto, then decant into a clean glass and cover with generous olive oil. Store in the refrigerator.

Pear and Azuki Bean Strudel

© Qin Xie-Krieger

© Qin Xie-Krieger

For me, the significant sign of Autumn is the apple strudel: With the crunchy apples from the newest harvest and a very thin crispy crust. A strudel tastes best for me when it comes fresh from the oven and with a scoop of vanilla ice cream… hmmmm… yummy …

For my “East meets West” version, I took the crunchy pears which I freshly bought from the market. I just could not say no to them since they were smiling in a lovely way at me from a fruit stall.

I wanted a creamier consistency for the filling of my strudel, which should provide a contrast to the crispy crust. It did not take a long time for me to get the idea of the azuki bean paste.

© Qin Xie-Krieger

© Qin Xie-Krieger

Azuki beans have been grown in China, Japan and Korea for thousands of years. The fine paste which is made out of these small red beans and sugar, has a high popularity throughout Asia as an important ingredient for Asian sweets.

I particularly appreciate the velvety consistency and pleasant restrained sweetness of this unique paste. Very quickly I realized that I should integrate the azuki bean paste in my strudel.

© Qin Xie-Krieger

© Qin Xie-Krieger

As a refreshing complement to the sweet beans, the cranberries with their slightly sour taste were able to build a great balance to the sweetness of the azuki paste.

I was really impressed by the result: The crust was so crispy that it immediately crumbles everywhere at the first bite. The filling was on the one hand buttery soft and creamy because of the azuki paste, on the other hand still had a bite because of the crunchy pears. Further more, the fruity taste of the pears and cranberries gave the sweet strudel a refreshing sour kick.

It was just wonderful! It is Autumn!

© Qin Xie-Krieger

© Qin Xie-Krieger

Ingredients:

4 large firm pears
20g dried cranberries (soak in water for about 1 hour)
50g butter
20g walnuts
200g azuki paste (also called “red bean paste”, Asia shop)
½ tsp cinnamon
Juice of ½ lemon
5 sheets of filo pastry
1 tbsp sugar

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Chop walnuts coarsely and roast in a pan until crispy. Peel and core pears, then cut into small cubes. In a large bowl, combine the pears with lemon juice and azuki bean paste, mix well. Then add the cranberries, walnuts and cinnamon.
  2. Melt the butter in a sauce pot. Place a sheet of filo pastry on a large piece of baking paper (cover the rest of the sheets with a slightly damp towel, so that they will not dry out). Quickly spread some melted butter. Sprinkle a little sugar on it. This makes the sheets stick together easily. Place the second sheet on it, and also spread butter and sprinkle with sugar. Repeat until all sheets are processed.
  3. Spread the filling on the center of the dough, leave some free space at the edges. Firstly fold the short sides of the dough over the filling, then the long sides. Place the strudel with the seam side down on the baking tray which is lined with baking paper. Brush the surface of the strudel with rest of the butter and sprinkle the remaining sugar on it. Cut three or four cuts on the surface of the strudel, so that the steam can get out. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Chill shortly and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Spaghetti Squash with Thai Red Curry Sauce

© Qin Xie-Krieger

© Qin Xie-Krieger

Thai curry is one of my absolute favorite foods. As my trip to Thailand moves closer and closer, I get more and more in the mood for it.

Among the different versions of Thai curry, the red curry is my favorite. It is not as burning spicy as the green curry, but has a more complex flavor structure than the yellow version.

Not long ago, I still cooked with the instant red curry paste from the Asia store. Now I finally could motivate myself to try and make this labor-intensive paste myself. The effort has definitely paid off. It tasted delicious and contains no glutamate, which always causes me unbearable thirst after eating. :-)

© Qin Xie-Krieger

© Qin Xie-Krieger

This great red curry sauce is like an all-purpose sauce for me. I love to combine it with risotto and spaghetti. For now is the golden season – autumn, I developed this recipe with the spaghetti squash.

The spicy and slightly sweet taste of the curry sauce goes perfectly with the quite neutral spaghetti squash. With a bowl of wonderfully flavorsome jasmine rice: a super delicious dinner is ready!

Ingredients and preparation:

1 spaghetti squash
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Halve and seed squash. Line the baking tray with parchment paper, bake the squash with the cut side down for about 50-60 minutes. Chill the squash briefly and scrape the flesh with a fork, season with salt and pepper and keep warm on a plate in the oven (70 degrees).

For the red curry paste:

2 stalks of lemon grass (remove the outer leaves, slice the inner leaves into very thin slices)
20g galangal (scrape the skin with knife)
30g dried red chillies (remove seeds and crush in a mortar)
4 kaffir lime leaves (cut into very thin strips)
20g Thai shallots (diced into fine chops)
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp grated peel of organic limes
1 tsp shrimp paste (Asia Shop)
2 tbsp fish sauce (Asia Shop)

Add everything to the mortar, pound to a very fine paste (The paste can be kept in the refrigerator for several weeks).

For the red curry sauce:

2 teaspoons canola oil
1 tbsp red curry paste (see above)
2 tsp palm sugar
200ml coconut milk

Heat the canola oil in a sauce pot  briefly. Add 1 tbsp of the curry paste, fry the paste over medium heat until it starts to be fragrant.  Add 1 tsp palm sugar to the fried paste and caramelize briefly. Then pour in 200ml coconut milk and let it boil. Spread the sauce onto the spaghetti squash. Serve with rice or baguette.

I don’t want to say goodbye to the summer…

© Qin Xie-Krieger

© Qin Xie-Krieger

I stood on the farmer market in Bietigheim and realized suddenly: Summer is REALLY almost over now! The colorful presentation on the market during the last months is vanishing! More and more golden and brown colors are appearing. Suddenly I experienced a big panic: All these juicy green colors… these gorgeous red colors… I have to preserve them for my kitchen, also for the winter, which is about to knock on our door!

© Qin Xie-Krieger

© Qin Xie-Krieger

Coriander, basil, rocket, green and red chilies… All these lovely herbs and veggies, which develop their best flavors in the summer… I was like obsessed and started to stuff my basket with all these splendid beautiful colors and aromas.

© Qin Xie-Krieger

© Qin Xie-Krieger

A plan was aging in my head: I’ll preserve all these beautiful colors and flavors for the winter! With this thought, my first panic was calmed and a smile sneaked to my face. My eyes must have been glowing all the time through my shopping frenzy. Passing pedestrians looked at me slightly confused. ;-)

© Qin Xie-Krieger

© Qin Xie-Krieger

For a whole day I did nothing else except for preserving all my favorite flavors in glassware: basil pesto, rocket pesto, cilantro and green peppers salsa, chili herbs oil, rosemary garlic oil, red chili miso sauce.

© Qin Xie-Krieger

© Qin Xie-Krieger

It’s true: I do not want to say “goodbye” to summer …

© Qin Xie-Krieger

© Qin Xie-Krieger

Now, I can let summer go… ;-)

Spicy Sichuan Chicken Noodle 川味雞絲麵

© Qin Xie-Krieger

© Qin Xie-Krieger

Food is memories. For me, tastes act like memory chips for a computer. Many of my childhood memories are connected to different tastes. One of my memories of my culinary childhood was a spicy cold noodle dish with chicken, which is a very famous dish from Sichuan. In my hometown, this tasty dish is popular in the summer, when the extremely high temperature climbs up over 35 degrees celsius.

© Qin Xie-Krieger

© Qin Xie-Krieger

When I was a kid, the summer was simply the best time of the year, because of the long summer holidays, which lasted two months. All children from my large family spent days and weeks together during the holidays: we children played, learned and spent every minute together. It was like a mini-camp.

© Qin Xie-Krieger

© Qin Xie-Krieger

The adults were happy to finally have more time for their chats and also for cooking something special. They used the chance to prepare the yummy dishes, for which they didn’t have enough time and energy to cook during workaday life. One of the most popular dishes was this Sichuan chicken noodles, which appeared on our large round table every summer.

© Qin Xie-Krieger

© Qin Xie-Krieger

Even today, I can still see the pictures before my eyes: Bright sun light came through the windows … the cicadas stretched their necks and chirped to complain about the unbearable heat… My elder aunt was sitting on a small wooden stool, in front of her was a huge bamboo basket, which was fully covered with fresh hot noodles… A standing fan blew a gentle breeze on the noodles … My aunt lifted the noodles with long chopsticks. This movement she repeated again and again until all the noodles were chilled… At the same time, she poured some canola oil onto the noodles, so that they would not stick together…

© Qin Xie-Krieger

© Qin Xie-Krieger

Next to her sat my father who was preparing this wonderful spicy sauce. He seemed to be very relaxed and chatted with my aunt, who laughed a lot. This alluring fragrance, this cheerful mood … During that moment, life was simply beautiful… Now I tried to restore this unforgettable taste in my memory. Since my husband is not a fan of cold noodles, I made a warm version of it. For the currently rainy weather, it probably is the better solution anyway. ;-)

© Qin Xie-Krieger

© Qin Xie-Krieger

When I had the first bite of the noodles, the beautiful pictures came to my mind again.  Good food = wonderful memories. That’s why I love cooking! :-D Ingredients: For the noodles (2 servings): 170g semolina 30g flour type 00 1 egg 30-40ml water 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 dash of olive oil Preparation: Add all the ingredients into the mixing bowl and mix well together, knead into a ball (In case that the lump is too dry to be hold together, add some more water). Then knead the dough with a food processor for about 10 min. until you get a smooth dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Cut the dough into portions, roll out with the pasta roller on level 4, cut through with the pasta cutter. For the chicken: 1 chicken breast fillet 1 piece of ginger (cut into slices) 1 leek (cut into pieces) Preparation: Wash and dry the fillet under running water. Put all ingredients into a pot. Boil everything over high heat, then reduce the heat. Simmer on low heat for about 15 min. Then remove the pan from the heat and set aside with covered lid. For the sauce: 2 tbsp light soy sauce 1 tbsp dark soy sauce 6 tablespoons dark rice vinegar 2 tsp sugar 1 tbsp chili oil 2 tbsp sesame oil 1/2 teaspoon salt Preparation: Mix all ingredients for the sauce together and set aside. Completing the dish: Remove the chicken fillet from the cooking stock, tear in thin strips with your fingers. Mix the chicken stripes with half of the sauce and set aside. Boil a large pot of water with salt. Cook the pasta until al dent (caution: fresh noodles are very quickly done. So, stay at the stove…). Drain the noodles and mix with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon cooking stock of the chicken. Pour the remaining sauce on the noodles and mix well. Garnish with chicken strips and sesame seeds.