Tobi cooks: homemade ravioli!

24 07 2012

During one of our flea market rounds, we got this amazing ravioli press. Tobias used his flea market savvy to make them believe he really didn’t need it, but would be willing to buy it anyway, therefore driving down the price. They made him promise to actually try it out, which he did – and we took it home for 2 euros. If they had only known that he would use it two meals in a row…!

I really messed it up, though, by putting it in the dishwasher. What was once a shiny, brand-new-looking ravioli press became a dingy, black mess. Apparently it is made out of aluminum, which can NOT handle the dishwasher. It makes the aluminum oxidize, and once it’s oxidized, there is no going back. (Handling tips for aluminum here!) Oops. It’s rather unfortunate, since it was really shiny and pretty before! I felt really bad. But we got it relatively cleaned up enough to use it to make some ravioli. (Supposedly you can clean aluminum using vinegar and boiling water and letting it sit in it for 20-30 minutes. We’ll have to try that and see if we can get back some of its original shine!)

It took a few tries to get used to it, and Tobias of course figured out how to do this on his own, but for those of you not familiar with how to use one of these devices, there are great directions over here on Mangia Bene Pasta.

For the filling, Tobias had a mix of chopped sage leaves, potatoes, and truffle oil. But the beauty of ravioli is that you can put pretty much ANYTHING inside, so feel free to get creative! Tobias did the next day when he tried three different types of ravioli, including one that had goat cheese in it (pictured above). Mmmmm!

It’s a time-consuming process, but the result is really worth it. This is a thousand times better than anything you’d buy at the grocery store. Just add a bit of sauce to your taste (we had a lemon-butter sauce!) and enjoy!


Monkey Donuts

17 07 2012

In class last week, I lamented the fact that there is no Dunkin’ Donuts in Hamburg. But one student piped up and said, “There is a donut shop near the university!” and whipped out her iPhone and had a name and an address for me within seconds. It’s called Monkey Donuts, and it’s apparently Hamburg’s first (and, so far, only) donut shop! I am sooooo excited about this!

This past weekend, Tobias and I were in the neighborhood and I decided we had to stop by! Walking in was like…the most amazing thing ever, seeing all of those colorful donuts all lined up – Dunkin’ Donuts style!

We got a half a dozen. Tobias got a classic (chocolate with vanilla cream), nougat, and caramel crunch, and I opted for a marshmallow, a monkey nut (banana split), and a classic. Let me tell you, it was really hard to make a decision, but I know I’ll be back to try more flavors! They’re delicious! My marshmallow one even had a few mini marshmallows on top (which slid down to the middle in transport). Mmmmm!

AND to make life even more perfect…THEY. HAVE. CREAM. SODA. This is a huge deal to me, because cream soda is one of the things you can’t really find over here, and it’s one of my favorites that I miss.

So you can bet that I’ll be going back there sometime! You can even order donuts online, and if you get your order in by 6 p.m., they’ll be delivered the following day. (Of course, the minimum order is 24 donuts, so it would have to be for a big party, and not just your normal breakfast!) The neighborhood I live in is also close enough to get free delivery! Sweet! I’m thinking…wedding day breakfast?

Tobi cooks: Chicken, Zucchini, Red Pepper and Couscous with Grilled Peaches

14 07 2012

This was actually my idea for the ingredients, as I picked up these items after work to bring home for dinner. But Tobias was the one who put all the magic together and made it taste great. (Even though he almost didn’t want to use my peaches, but my allergic self really wanted some peaches and the only way I can eat them is if they’ve been heated up. So he conceded and it turned out just as good as I had imagined. Thanks, honey!)

Apparently I’m not the only one who has thought of this combination — after we had cooked our meal, I looked online for the ingredients to see what I could find. A shish kebab version of them is here on, which looks like it would be a really good treat at a barbecue! And I learned something new from that recipe. The genus name of a red bell pepper is capsicum, which is listed on the kebab recipe as an ingredient instead of “bell pepper”. I was like, what the heck is a capsicum? Googled it, and learned something new. So you can impress your friends at the next dinner party. “You simply must try some of this capsicum. It’s delicious!”

Chicken, Zucchini, Red Pepper and Couscous with Grilled Peaches


olive oil

1 onion

1 medium-large zucchini

1 red bell pepper, with the skin peeled off

mini chicken filets

1 white peach

pepper, salt to taste


Cut up the onion and let them cook in a splash of olive oil. Chop the zucchini into medium-sized chunks and add to the onion. Peel the red bell pepper (something new we tried, which is not necessary, but made it more interesting – the skin can be a bit chewy sometimes), chop it, and add to the zucchini and onion.

Cook the couscous according to the directions in the box. Leave it covered so it stays warm, because it cooks really fast!

In another pan, cook up the chicken in some olive oil, adding pepper and salt to taste. Tobias also added a sprig or two of rosemary, which made the chicken taste fabulous. When the chicken is almost finished cooking, chop up your peach and into slices, sprinkle pepper and salt onto both sides of the slices, and add to the pan with the chicken. Cook them until they’re warm and a bit juicy, but not too long that they get soggy – it’s nice to have a little bit of crunch!

When finished, serve onto plates and add a sprig of parsley for the finishing touch!

Guten Appetit!


Happy Fourth

4 07 2012

Today I dressed up in red, white and blue and wore my Maryland necklace to show pride for my home country (and state!). As I think about my [church] wedding just one month from today (!!!!), I am a little bit more introspective about this year’s Independence Day. Of course no one knows exactly what the future may hold, but I am faced with the decision that I have made, that I am making, that Germany is the place where I will be setting up residence for the long haul. We may decide to live in the States at some point, for a few years, but I think Germany will be the place we’ll keep coming back to.

Germany has changed me in many ways, of course. I think I certainly would have been a bit different had I stayed in the States. Not bad, but…different. But I will always cherish my American upbringing. That feeling of independence that we so celebrate today, that pride for our country and for our nation and the values it stands for. A lot of people ask me if I’ll get “my German citizenship” when I get married, which is not really such an obvious assumption. As far as I know, the only way for me to get a German passport is to give up my American nationality, and there is no way in hell I would do such a thing. (Sorry, Germany. It’s not you, it’s me.)

Of course America is not perfect, and neither is Germany. There are good things and bad things about both countries, and I would be happy living in either one! But luckily Germany feels enough like home to me that I feel well here.

I think most of the reason I feel so at home here because I’ve got a man who loves and appreciates me for who I am, who takes cultural differences in stride and has never once made me feel bad for being an American. (Although he does joke lightheartedly about the fact that I like to eat cereal as a meal…)

And my guy really made today special. I came in to get dressed after my shower this morning and Tobias, still in bed, immediately started whistling the Star-Spangled Banner. Made me laugh. And then he wished me a happy Fourth as I was leaving for work. For lunch, he crafted this beautiful yogurt and fruit snack, but not before putting on a YouTube recording of the US national anthem to accompany as background music. (The anthem generally puts tears to my eyes, but today even more because of Tobias’s sweet soul!) And then he pulled out the yogurt and presented me with this very patriotic dessert.

So thank you, my love, for making me feel special today and for bringing a little bit of America to my Fourth of July here in Germany.

Now I’ll just have to go watch some fireworks (online!) to finish off a perfect Independence Day…not quite like the real thing, but Fourth of July without fireworks is a bit like Christmas without a Christmas tree. Happy Fourth!


Something a little different

19 06 2012

Tobias and I had this for lunch the other day. It’s pretty different from the stuff we normally tend to cook – this had a stir-fry feel to it.

Here’s how to make it:

Caramelize onion slices, chop up the chicken into small chunks and cook it in the pan with seasoning as desired. Tobias added our normal Endorphin Rush hot sauce to it for a bit of spice. (But be careful when breathing around it, because it tickles the nostrils a bit when that hot sauce gets into steam form!) Set aside.

Sautée sugar snap peas and (the fun secret ingredient!) watermelon chunks together. Add in some chopped cilantro. When finished, mix back in the chicken.

Serve with rice (which has a nice al dente texture if you use a little bit less water than normally needed and if you don’t over-cook it!) and top with some cilantro and soy sauce.

We had it for lunch with some non-alcoholic beer, although I’m sure a regular beer would taste good with it too. And I must admit I doubted Tobi’s decision to put watermelon into the mix, but it was just the right touch. Totally delicious.

Guten Appetit!


Tarte aux poires et citron

13 06 2012

Tobias made this awesome pear and lemon tarte the other Sunday and now you can too! Here’s the recipe:

First, make the dough. Tobias took a basic recipe (which he knows by heart) and added unsweetened cocoa powder to the mix to make a chocolate-flavored dough.

Second, prepare the pears! Peel and cut into slices. Ours were not very ripe and juicy for eating, but that doesn’t matter when you’re making a pie like this. In fact, it was better that the pears weren’t too juicy because it wasn’t too runny when cooked, and the pears softened up nicely in the oven.

Roll out the dough into a pie pan, leaving a pretty big rim on the edges to wrap back up around the pears later.

Here’s where the art of it comes in: arrange the pear slices into a circular pattern, making sure as much fruit is packed in there as possible! The special thing about this pie is the outside layer of vertical pears. The tips got a bit too brown in the oven, but the unusual shape of it really impressed our guests!

Wrap the dough around the vertical pears to create a crust. Bake around 15-20 minutes at about 200°C or until the pears are slightly browned. (Baking time and temperature extremely estimated, because Tobias pretty much never cooks with a recipe.)

Take out of the oven and let cool a bit before serving. Lastly, add some lemon zest and you’re good to go! Enjoy!


Here’s some of our group, pre-dessert:

We had it two Sundays ago at our usual Tatort dinner, that time hosted at our house. Tobias and I also cooked up a nice quiche for dinner. It wasn’t the whole group, as there were only 5 of us instead of our normal 10-11. Here are Diane, Tobias & Peter listening to Frank tell a story. It’s worth pointing out this awesome bottle of wine Peter brought with him to share. It was HUGE! 1.5 liters of delicious Italian wine.


À bientôt, Diane!

10 06 2012

My French friend Diane just went back to France yesterday after 6 months here in Hamburg. She had to go back to work on her master’s degree in architecture.

I’m sad she’s gone, because we hung out a lot and I really enjoyed her company.

Last Tuesday, she came over to my place for dinner and we made crêpes for dinner and dessert, we drank red wine, ate cheese, listened to music, and danced while cooking.

She’s coming back for our wedding in August and then will be here for 2 weeks in October, so that’s something to look forward to at least. And I may just have to take a weekend trip to Bordeaux to visit! (Hey, any excuse to visit France is a good excuse!)


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