Padrón: The Secret, Best Tapa

July 3rd, 2009 john borland Posted in Fruits and Veggies, Ingredients explained, Recommended stores 5 Comments »

padron peppers on plateHere’s Hungry’s discovery of the week. While browsing through Mitte Meer and Aqui Espana last weekend (both on Kant Str., though Mitte Meer also has a store behind the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum), we came across bags full of little green peppers that looked and smelled (a bit) like jalapenos. Because we will happily sell our bodies and/or organs for good Mexican food, we got excited, and asked about them, and were told they weren’t jalapenos at all, but Padróns.

We took them home, and researched. Turns out they are the eponymous specialty of the Padrón region in Spain. One eats them lightly fried, in olive oil, sprinkled with a bit of sea salt. There’s a bit of a game of chance with them too, as most are rich and mild, but every 1 in 10 or so is spicy hot. So, fun…

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More Berries For the Picking…

July 1st, 2009 aimee m. Posted in Around Berlin, Events, Fruits and Veggies, Places No Comments »

A heads-up for more berry picking in the Brandenburg area — blueberries and raspberries are apparently ready to be self-picked, as per the Berliner Beerengarten team. The HIB team really has to get out and do this one of these days…if you have, let us know in the comments below.

And on a random thought, one of the Berliner Beerengarten fields is out in Hoppegarten, which is also a cool old horse racing stadium.  A gaggle of us (led by the very knowledgeable Ms. Bowleserised) had a visit a month or so ago, bet on a couple of ponies, and actually came away richer! Wouldn’t be a terrible double-feature, ponies and berry-pflucking…

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Jerking from Scratch: A Blissful Spice

June 19th, 2009 john borland Posted in Main courses, Spices and flavors 2 Comments »

peppers1On W 110th in New York, in Harlem, there’s a restaurant called Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too. Peasant Glasses and I have been a few times. More than a few times. It’s a kind of pilgrimage for us whenever we go, with soul food that makes you want to stand up and sing, except your stomach is so full you can barely move. Gravy-drenched chicken, corn bread bread stuffing, sweet potato pie, home-made lemonade.

But my favorite, the thing I keep going back for, is the jerked chicken. Dripping off the bone, encrusted with a fiery mudlike sauce that hurts a little, but is so complex and rich-flavored that the chili heat unfolds into something else entirely. Some kind of bliss. Naturally I’ve always wanted to make it for myself.
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Dönerspende Diaries: Dhal, or Why You Should Love Lentils

May 22nd, 2009 aimee m. Posted in Around Berlin, Ingredients explained, Main courses, Reader responses, Recipes, Spices and flavors, Uncategorized 2 Comments »

meiyan_foodHere’s another guest Dönerspende post (keep it up, peoples!) that addresses one of HIB’s favorite comfort foods, dhal. A staple of much of India and the surrounding region, it’s a great dish because with rice, it makes a complete protein and couldn’t be cheaper to make. Lentils (of any shape or color), spices, rice. Our contributor Kean, originally from Malaysia, has sadly left the Hauptstadt with his gorgeous family after a three-year stay; yet he continues to taunt us with delicious (and even cheaper) meals enjoyed in his home country (as seen in the picture to the right.) Enjoy.

Here’s that dhal recipe I promised you, though without the authentic Malaysian spices, of course…Madras curry powder makes a suitable substitute (and it’s widely available, at about 80 cents per pack.) This is a lentil/veg curry, sorta Malaysian style, and it feeds at least four people.

Malaysian-styled Dhal

3 cups of lentils, soaked overnight in filtered water, then drained…if you mix both red and yellow together, it’s quite a nice texture later) (Ed note: Lentils are nice in that you don’t necessarily have to soak them ahead; doing so will cut down on the cooking time slightly, however.)
2 peeled, medium-sized potatoes (or sweet potato), chopped
2 peeled medium-sized carrots, sliced up
1 (red) onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 chunk of fresh ginger, about 1-2 cm thick, cut into strips
vegetable oil

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Berries: Go Pflück ‘Em Yourself

May 20th, 2009 aimee m. Posted in Around Berlin, Events, Fruits and Veggies, Places, Uncategorized 1 Comment »

strawberries Just got a friendly reminder from those in the fields that berry picking season is set to officially open. We did a bit of berry reporting last year, with a couple suggestions for locations to boot.

Berliner Beerengarten is a good place to start.  Here’s their schedule; looks like most of their fields (we’re talking mostly strawberries, it’s still early) will be open as of tomorrow.   And I just saw a bunch of rhubarb at the market the other day…who’s ready for some pie?

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Dönerspende Diaries: Consider the Eggplant

May 6th, 2009 aimee m. Posted in Fruits and Veggies, Ingredients explained, Market reports, Other Food Blogs, Recipes, Uncategorized No Comments »

Here’s a guest post from Bowleserised, a very talented lady who knows both her food, ponies and the writerly life in Berlin, and who often is called upon by bizarre British TV talent to explain the Hauptstadt to them.  This is an ideal Dönerspende dish, as it’s got few ingredients but is also flexible — i.e., what you’ve got in your ‘fridge or pantry will probably get you by. Enjoy.

This is an adaptation of a Claudia Roden recipe for Brinjal Albaras from The Book of Jewish Food. It’s a dish from the Bene Israel community in India. It should have fresh coriander in the coconut milk mix, which might still be possible depending on the pricing, and the courgette substitution is one I’ve improvised.

I usually use a can of coconut milk so my version is more liquid than the purist’s, which involves creamed coconut milk and water. I like the more liquid version though as then you can eke the meal out with rice. Obviously you can use fewer potatoes and more aubergine or any different combination, according to preference and available ingredients.

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Spring. Sprouts. And Cinco de Mayo cerveza.

May 4th, 2009 aimee m. Posted in Around Berlin, Booze and Bevvies, Ingredients explained, Recipes, Uncategorized 3 Comments »

sprout-closeupCan you name that sprout?  We’ll give you a few hints.  They belong to the genus Physalis, for one.  They are a key ingredient in salsa verde.  And we’ll be damned if you’ll find them on a menu in the Hauptstadt…although we’re willing to be proven wrong, as long as you direct us to said restaurant immediately.

These little green friends represent the first sproutlings from three secret locations where HIB and a few very generous friends are growing decidedly non-local vegetables for cooking fun, perhaps even for a little guerilla planting once they’re all sprouted and feeling strong.  (Don’t tell the Ordnungsamt.)  We’ll keep you posted on their progress…

But in the meantime, we’ve got some Cinco de Mayo to celebrate.  While briefly in Barcelona we came across an amazing Mexican restaurant where they served micheladas alongside some of the finest, authentic food we’ve ever had both south of the border and this side of the Atlantic.  (And yes, that was a plug. If you’re in Barcelona, find this place and eat.)

But what’s a michelada? A mixed beer concotion that might make most Reinheitsgebot-purists faint, a michelada combines hot sauce, Maggi (or soy sauce or Worchestershire sauce), some salt and lime juice with a Pilsner-style beer (or Mexican beer, if you’ve got a Tecate or other light sort available.)  Oh, and even the WSJ thinks it’s cool

I’d like to establish this as Berlin’s next cool hangover cure, the proper beverage to go with that 3 p.m. Sunday brunch. It might even make Berliner Pilsner potable…

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Dönerspende Diaries: Lentil Soup, Türkisher Art

February 27th, 2009 aimee m. Posted in Around Berlin, Ingredients explained, Rants and raves, Recipes 6 Comments »

lentilsSo let’s see if we can get this experiment started. I wanted to share this super-simple recipe for lentil soup, in part because it’s inspired by Turkish cuisine (which in its purest form has absolutely nothing to do with döner!)  Mercimek çorbasi, like so many other Turkish dishes, is about simplicity and good ingredients. Which for our purposes, translates to yummy food for not a whole lot of cash.

The two caveats with this recipe, in light of the rules: there are spices involved that you might not already have in your spice rack, but that are easy to come by. HIB recommends getting your bulk spices at an Asiamarkt or local Turkish grocery, as they’re way cheaper and much fresher than the sort you’d find at an Extra or Rewe.

Also, a drizzle of decent olive oil on the soup is a nice touch before serving; if you don’t already have a bottle around, a dollop of yogurt will also do.

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Wanting Tomatoes in Winter

December 3rd, 2008 aimee m. Posted in Fruits and Veggies, Ingredients explained, Recipes 1 Comment »

The tomato display at our local Extra is blinding.  Then again, it is always blinding, all year ’round.  Ah, globalization, the glories of greenhouse cultivation, and the resourcefulness of our northwestern neighbors, the Nederlanders.  Factoid: some 1,178 hectares of greenhouses shaked ‘n baked some 525,000 tons of tomatoes in Holland in 1999 (per the Embassy). I’m sure that number’s way higher today.  And, almost a quarter of that ruddy, bouncing bounty comes to Germany.

But, and but. I shouldn’t want tomatoes in winter. And I shouldn’t encourage the clever greenhoused northerners to find even more ingenious ways to solve hunger and stuff and in the meantime, grow a delicious tomato in December.

Delicious?  Hardly.  These things are ping-pong balls with a randy blush.  But that’s news to no one.

While I’m trying not to make a habit of it (in the interest of local fooding and all; choosing tomatoes grown in Deutschen vitro rather than further afield, when possible), I’m buying tomatoes and drying them.  Not completely beef-jerky dry — just enough (say, 50%) to concentrate whatever sugar the thin Northern sun was able to coax to the surface, while still staying a bit juicy.

Oven to 100C. Smaller tomatoes work best; cut them in half, and place cut-side up on parchment or foil on a tray. No need to salt or oil. Let ‘em slow cook for at least 3 hours, or more. Use immediately in pasta or sandwiches or keep in the ‘fridge until you do. Your ideas and recipes always appreciated below…

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Mushroom Foraging in Brandenburg

November 10th, 2008 Josh Ward Posted in Around Berlin, Fruits and Veggies No Comments »

(Above: “Steinpilze,” aka porcini mushrooms; thanks treegrow)

(This post was generously contributed by Rebecca F. Miller.)

I’ve been looking for any excuse to be outside for the last few weeks, and my favorite places have always been where there are few people and lots of natural landscape. As November waxes, there are precious few days to enjoy one of Germany’s most popular fall pastimes: mushroom hunting. While it’s easy to head to market to find fresh-picked ’shrooms trucked in from Brandenburg, if you’re craving a daytrip to the outdoors – as I and my fellow hunters were a few weekends ago – the woods outside of Berlin are rife with culinary fungus.

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