Five chicks and a sleepover

A great way to spend the weekend is to hang out with your friends. All the better when this is planned for a Saturday evening (which is really not such a great evening to go out to begin with) and includes a home-cooked meal plus some chick flicks.

Let me disappoint you right away, there won’t be any pyjama pictures. But I have some pictures for the foodies of you thanks to Sandra. Cat and I started by going shopping in the afternoon, hitting three different stores to finally get an organic chicken. The rest of the ingredients were found quickly interrupted by short discussions about buying more stuff. It’s not so easy going shopping with Cat when she is hungry. A firm hand is needed here.

Upon arriving at Cat’s place we prepared the bird and the vegetables. We really wanted to eat something light and healthy especially since the dessert from Sandra only looked guilt-free (but was so good!). 007008
It looked like a very happy chicken, don’t you think? Especially once it got a bit of a color and we added the vegetables to the pan.009

By now we were complete after a spontaneous arrival from Leni. I have to take a page out of her book for flexibility! Great call of her to come because the four of us devoured the bird. The Before and After of the chicken:010
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From the chicken it was only a small step to go over to the next course, the dessert.016 On the right you can see the delicious galette from Sandra, on top a rich and creamy raspberry chocolate tarte from Fruth (a thank-you gift for babysitting from Ute) and lots of jelly sweets from our hostess.When we finally started with the first chick flick this is how the dessert table looked:014
But rest assured that most of the candy and all the galette got eaten during Love, Rosie and Crazy, Stupid, Love (not even Photoshop would have helped to make our abs look like Ryan Gosling’s after this evening).

All of this got washed down with rosé in every form (sparkling or regular). Once you choose a color it is good to stay with it. Anyway it fit with the vibe of the evening. It was the perfect girls night in which ended the next morning after a hearty breakfast (who would have thought that we could eat again?) and another movie.
Yours, Pollybert

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Let’s eat goose

St. Martin’s Day is a popular day in Austria. On November 11 and about two weeks around this day we celebrate the Roman Saint by eating goose. St. Martin was a soldier who later became a Christian martyr and somewhere in this process he got warned by some quacking geese of approaching danger. As we Austrians are nothing but traditional we eat goose on this day without fail, never mind that the breast is dry and everything else is really greasy. We also let the children walk around with self-made paper lanterns singing special lantern songs. As the goose days are drawing to an end, I want to let you know that goose and goose is not the same and it takes specialists to do these animals justice.

Last Saturday I was invited at Andrea’s place for their traditional goose feast! There the goose was not merely roasted in the oven, no, there the goose was roasted on a motorized goose spit in the garden.032
But since this was a feast, we were not merely eating goose. We were eating everything around the goose.

So the first course of the evening was goose liver roasted with apples. Eaten directly out of the pan with a slice of self-made bread. Heavenly bliss!037

The rest of the apples and the fat were then doused with Calvados, seasoned and soaked up with more bread!042

Second course was goose soup, clear not thickened by roux. Lots and lots of small pieces of meat, liver, and root vegetables were inside. Making it one hot-pot of more bliss. I had to ask for a second helping since it was so good. And as you know by now, when it is very good there is no picture.

Hence it was even better that the goose was not ready for a while. We used the time to work up more appetite and also check occasionally on how the Austrian Football Team was playing against Russia (we won in case you are interested). A good hour later we were ready for the main course!
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And that’s how far my pictures go. We ate the goose with two types of potato dumplings and two types of red cabbage. The goose was moist and juicy and perfectly seasoned, stuffed with apples and onions. I had only the tiniest bit of a second helping since I felt already near over-stuffing. I really, really couldn’t go on anymore and I had to forgo dessert. It was perfection!
Yours, Pollybert
PS: Since Andrea works with me she brought the left-overs to work and I enjoyed some for lunch.
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Cooking class with a substitute

For my birthday last year I got a cooking class voucher with a well know chef in Vienna, called Moerwald. This week I finally found the time to go and there was also a class available.

On arriving at the Kochamt in the Palais Ferstel I noticed right away that we were not going to cook with chef Moerwald himself, but with his second in command (ok, I don’t know where he stands exactly in the cooking hierarchy) Roland Huber. I can’t say I was disappointed by this change, he was quite easy on the eye.

A hostess greeted me with a glass of white wine in the open kitchen/dining room. The kitchen counter was already prepped for cooking and the table set for a total of nine guests.

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The theme for the cooking class was herbs and wild mushrooms. I could not imagine what we would be cooking (herbs and mushrooms are not substantial ingredients but more like a seasoning or garnish thing for me) but was ready to be surprised.

We started with the preparations for the dessert. Vanilla pudding made from scratch with apricots baked in a caramel-wine sauce with star anise and different herbs. We used basil, rosemary, thyme and mint.

While the pudding was cooling in the freezer and the apricots baking in the oven, we moved on to the meat for the main dish. Three thick-cut steaks (around one pound each) were quickly browned on each side, then shortly roasted in butter, herbs and garlic and only then put into the oven to roast at a low temperature to its pink perfection. We used a thermometer to get the correct core temperature of 52 degrees Celsius.

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After that we started with the appetizer, a leaf salad with marinated vegetables and garden herbs.

20130727-111558.jpgEveryone arranged its own salad, mine just didn’t come out any better. It tasted ok, for me there was just too much sugar and oil in the dressing. For non Viennese people: sugar is a staple ingredient in the salad dressing, it’s kind of an acquired taste. Personally I prefer the French dressing of Dijon, herbs the Provence, vinegar and oil.

We sat down with the salad and another glass of wine. Conversation was flowing, mostly about cooking, cooking shows and other food related topics. It was astonishing how young most of the participants were. Of the eight people we were in the end, five were easily under 25.

Next course was chanterelle goulash with Palffy dumplings. The Palffy in the dumplings means that they are made with brioche and not with bread. Therefore they have a sweeter taste which really went well with the smoked sweet paprika blend that we used for the chanterelle sauce.

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20130727-112709.jpgIt was very interesting to learn the dumplings are no longer cooked in a linen napkin but in plastic wrap. I was not aware that one can do that and that the plastic is not melting.

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The meat meanwhile was ready and resting outside. Our chef prepared an herbal pesto with lots of basil, parsley, rosemary and thyme, also walnuts and Parmesan. To give the meat more texture and to heat it a bit, it was put again into the frying pan where the herbs, garlic and butter were still left.

20130727-175507.jpg The fresh porcini were still waiting for their own roasting.

20130727-175641.jpgAnd here is the result.

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Last but not least the dessert, here all the stages of the preparation.

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20130727-180239.jpgFor decoration we used frozen herbs and edible flowers, slightly crumbled.

20130727-180453.jpgAnd voila, my plate.

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The food was excellent, the cooking class so-so. It was supposed to last four hours and I thought we would be more involved in the cooking process. Not just watching the chef cooking and trying to sell the products of the shop. Still, I had a good time.
Yours, Pollybert

PS: I finished ‘Life of Pi’ by Yann Martel. I liked it, a lot actually. But it is definitely a book which I should re-read in a couple of months. I am not sure I understood all the deep meaning behind it.
Therefore after ‘Pi’ I read a YA novel. ‘You against me’ by Jenny Downham deals with the difficult subject of rape and how it affects not only the victim and the aggressor but also the family of the two. Very well written as was already ‘Before I die’ from her.
I am now reading some chick lit. One needs something light and funny in between. It is ‘I heart New York’ by Lindsey Kelk and so far it is reading like a breeze. Also funny, I’ve laughed out loud a few times.

BBQ with a twist

Every year I am going to Tuscany with the same group of friends! During the rest of the year we meet regularly, explore news restaurant or get invited to each other’s home for dinner. This month we got invited for BBQ and it could not have been more perfect for this kind of sweltering heat.

This BBQ turned out to be something special. I love BBQ in all its forms, and this one was truly remarkable. Therefore I have decided to give it its own post.

We started with a tomato and leek quiche, a gift for our hostess Claudia from one of the guests which everyone sampled.

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Then it was time for the hostess to dazzle us with her creations and she did. We were told that the theme of the BBQ was Thai! As you all know by now, I love Thai food and was intrigued by this announcement. We started with a soup, a fragrant, spicy broth with shrimps, scallops and some vegetables. Delicious, I had to take seconds.

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The main course consisted of three kinds of meat: beef satay with a home-made peanut sauce, spare ribs, ground chicken kebab on lemongrass skewers and a salad with lettuce, cucumber and coriander. The flavors and colors of all dishes were so well-balanced, it was a feast for the palate and the eyes!

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Claudia was supported at the grill by her man (BBQ chef and my brother) Andy.

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To top the feast off we had a Pavlova with berries for dessert! What a treat!

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We stayed until after midnight, really long for a weeknight when everybody has to work the next day. It was just one of these evening where everything clicked: company, food, weather.

20130724-141931.jpgOur hostess Claudia with yours truly.

I have been invited to a couple BBQs already this summer and all of them were good! The Thai BBQ stands out because it was so unexpected different and so well executed in all its little culinary details. You know what I use as a measure if something was really outstanding or not? It’s when I am hungry the next day and I still think about the food from the day before. When I start to fantasize about the leftovers and berate myself why I didn’t have this one piece more. I admit, I am a glutton!
Yours, Pollybert