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A Travelling Cook: December 2014

A Travelling Cook

A Travelling Cook: December 2014

Monday, December 29, 2014

Asian spiced bierock

I made this recipe originally for our Apartment Supper Club Oktoberfest celebration. In the first instance I made a 'traditional' bierock. The recipe is usually ground beef, shredded cabbage, onion and salt and pepper. This is pretty much my definition of bland. I tried making a more 'authentic' recipe in the first instance while they were tasty when served with a generous dollop of Sriracha and mustard it was a bit underseasoned for my taste.

So I decided to throw tradition to the wind, and use a bit of asian influence for a spicy, flavoured bierock that is definitely moreish. The recipe looks more complicated than it is, especially if you cook up the filling in bulk for future uses.

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 package (1 teaspoon) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½  cups water
  • ½  cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons  butter
Filling: (this will make more filling than you need so you can freeze or use over rice or in another dish)
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 gloves garlic, diced 
  • 1/2 cup of dried soy mince
  • 1/4 of a cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste
  • 1 cup chinese rice wine
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

To make the dough:
  1. Stir the sugar into the warm water in a bowl. Sprinkle over the yeast and stir it lightly, then leave for 10 minutes until a light foam floats on the surface.
  2. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Stir the oil into the yeast mixture and slowly pour it all into the flour, mixing with a wooden spoon and then with your hands to form a soft dough.
  3. Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 10 minutes until it’s smooth and elastic. 
  4. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and leave it to rise in a warm place for 30–45 minutes.
  5. Return the dough to the work surface and knock it back with your knuckles. Knead it lightly again, then divide it into 10 equal portions and roll each one into a ball. 
  6. Roll out the balls on a lightly floured surface into rounds.
To make the filling:
  1. heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and gently fry the garlic and onions until lightly browned, stirring regularly.
  2. Add the soy mince and fry lightly
  3. Stir in the cabbage leaves, salt, pepper and all the spices into the pan with the meat. Continue to fry and stir for 3 or 4 minutes more. Add stock and sauces, cover the pan and cook gently for 10 minutes until the cabbage is very soft and soy mince is soft. Remove the pan from the heat, stir the mixture well and leave to cool.
To make up
  1. Line baking tray with baking paper
  2. Roll out dough balls to a flat rectangle
  3.  Place two tablespoons of the filling into the middle of each piece of dough leaving a small border around the edge. 
  4. Brush the border with water and bring the sides of the dough over the filling into the centre and pinch them together to seal. 
  5. Place the filled bun on a baking tray, with the seam underneath. 
  6. Repeat until you’ve used all the dough and filling, then leave the buns in a warm place for about 20 minutes until they have doubled in size.
  7. Preheat the oven to 180°c. 
  8. Bake the bierocks for about 20 minutes until they are well risen and golden brown. Brush them with the melted butter and serve warm with mustard and pickles – and beer, of course!

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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Festive salutations


I hope that everyone had an enjoyable (or at the very least tolerable) Christmas. 

Christmas in Leipzig has been a lot of fun. Unfortunately snow has been pretty much non-existent besides the odd flurry but there's been much to enjoy. Weihnachten Market, gluhwein, eating stollen and pfeffer nuse, I've really been enjoying Christmas in a cold climate. 

Germany has some lovely Christmas traditions with old fashioned religious undertones.  First there's St Nicholas Day on December 6th, Many children put a boot called Nikolaus-Stiefel (Nikolaus boot)outside the front door on the night of 5 December. 'St. Nicholas' fills the boot with gifts and sweets overnight, and at the same time checks up on the children to see if they were good, polite and helpful the last year. If they were not, they will have coal in their shoes instead courtesy of a goat like beast called Krampus. 


pic courtesy of Wikipedia

Pretty weird! That said, Eastern Germany in general is not very religious at all. According to friends of mine who lived through DDR times, to be religious was to be viewed with suspicion by the Government and thus subject to increased surveillance. Churches in Leipzig (specifically Nikolai kirsche) were involved in peaceful resistance against the totalitarian state which of course resulted in the Peaceful Revolution of October 1989. But I digress, my point is that many more people are atheist like myself than I've met previously so Christmas is more about celebrating friends and family than a religious occasion per se. 

 It's become more of a tradition in Australia and the UK to join friends for drinks on Christmas Eve, an occasion we enoyed with some Welsh friends here, although the streets were pretty quiet as the Deutsch traditionally have their gifts and festivities on Christmas Eve (the 24th December). We did our present opening on Christmas Even in Australia when we were young children, more so Mum could enjoy the stress of cooking on Christmas Day without the added bonus of sleep deprivation. 

Christmas Day here we enjoyed leftovers from the last Leipzig Apartment Supperclub, tofurkey and Veg Wellington (which we'd frozen) along with roast veggies, red wine gravy and broccoli. Dessert was Christmas Pudding although we were too full to eat it as usual. Quite different to a traditional Weihnachten meal here which usually involves goose, potato salad and cabbage. Far more effort is put into Christmas sweet treats here, we went to Chris' coworking space Christmas party a couple of weeks ago and despite the time of 6pm, everything was sweet! From chocolate to biscuits to gluhwein. Quite different to the dip, cheese and biscuits of Australian Christmas parties but great fun. 


Christmas decorations were kept to a minimum. I used to have lots in Australia but of course these went when we got rid of everything except two suitcases, 5 boxes and two bicycles to move to Germany. And as we're moving in mid February, we don't really want any excess baggage. 

It's certainly cold here (-8 today) and I'm waiting/hoping for snow. We're off to the UK tomorrow for a week to visit friends and relatives. I'm looking forward to hits the cafes and pubs to enjoy fry up and roast dinners that I haven't had to cook myself! It will also be lovely to spend time with people, and enjoy the novelty of a fully English country (in the sense that I don't have to mentally translate things). I have to stress the absolute bliss of having central heating. It makes such a difference, especially as our Apartment has excellent insulation and double glazing. I can remember winters in Melbourne where I'd work in bed with gloves and a hat, constantly freezing cold. 

It's with sadness that I write that Mr Pablo is definitely feeling his age these days. As an 18 year old senior kitty he is of course, beyond much medical help and we are trying to make his remaining time with us as warm and comfortable as possible. We're having a lovely house sitter come and stay when we're away which certainly is a great relief. 


As I finish this, it's just started snowing! 

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Chocolate peppermint torte

I made this dessert last weekend for our Vegan Apartment Supper Club Weihnacten Abendessen. It's very easy and you can vary the ingredients to suit what you have (the crust could be made with biscuits for example). I forgot to take a picture last week so here's one I made previously back in Australia. 

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoon melted dairy free butter or coconut oil 

  • 2 cups avocado flesh (approx 3 small avocados), pitted and scooped out
  • 1/3 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 2/3 cup pure maple syrup/golden syrup/agave/molasses*
  • 1 tbsp smooth peanut butter (or other nut or sunflower seed butter)
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp chocolate, melted
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • Crushed candy canes or peppermint sweets


  1. Oil a 7-10 inch springform cake pan and line it with a circle of baking paper.
  2. Mix ingredients well. 
  3. Scoop mixture onto prepared pan and press down firmly and evenly with slightly wet fingers or a spatula. Pop into freezer to set while making the mousse.

Chocolate mousse:
  1. Place all mousse ingredients (except chocolate chips) into food processor.
  2. Process until smooth.
  3. In a small bowl, melt your chocolate chips in the microwave (or oven a pan of boiling water) and scoop melted chocolate into food processor mixture. Process until smooth.
  4. Remove crust from freezer and add mousse.
  5. Smooth out as much as possible and then place in the freezer for 2 hours to firm.
  6. Once firm, remove from freezer and allow to sit on the counter for about 5-10 minutes before serving chilled.
*It's worth noting that molasses gives a richer less sweet taste that can be a little overpowering so I would opt for golden syrup or agave if possible.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Vegan chocolate salami

This recipe is inspired by a Nigella Lawson recipe which I modified and used to teach at our Edible gifts workshop. I realised I hadn't shared it yet, so here goes:

Chocolate salami
  • 200 g of dry biscuits
  • 140 g of dairy free butter
  • 100g dark chocolate
  •  50 g of powdered cocoa
  • 100 g chopped almonds/pistachios
  •  6 dried figs chopped
  • 120 g of sugar
  • optional: 3 tablespoons of brandy liquor or cof­fee


  1. Break the biscuits into small pieces, like big crumbs.
  2. In the same bowl, add sugar, nuts, cocoa and the butter (the latter slightly melted).
  3. Stir all ingredients together with a wooden spoon.
  4. Melt the chocolate and then add it to the bowl.
  5. Mix everything together
  6. Unroll and slice off 2 large pieces of cling film, overlapping them so that you have a large cling-cov­ered surface to roll the chocolate salami out on.
  7. Tip the chocolate mixture out in the middle of this and – using your hands, messy though this is – mould the mixture into a fat salami-like log, about 30cm long.
  8. Cover the chocolate log completely with the cling film, and then firmly roll it, as if it were a rolling pin, to create a smooth, rounded cylinder from the rough log you started with. Twist the ends by grasp­ing both ends of the cling film and rolling the sausage-log towards you several times. 
  9. Put it in the fridge to set.
  10. Decorate by rolling in icing sugar then tying with string to resemble store bought salami.
I'm linking this to the We Should Cocoa Chocolate log blog monthly challenge

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Edible vegan gifts

I have often made edible gifts for people for Christmas, especially when I am teaching preserving classes and am keen to try out new recipes. I actually really enjoy giving and receiving handmade goods. There are so many benefits: seasonal excess food can be turned into something wonderful,  you can cook for an afternoon with a glass of wine instead of a trip to a shopping centre, you get the pleasure of making things with your very own hands. Having a few jars of preserves or cordial is always a great way to ensure you have gifts for any unexpected people or situations. 

I've put together a weird and wonderful range of recipes from jams to cordials to donuts. Have a look, there might be something you would like. 

Jams and preserves:
Tomato kasundi
Pickled beetroot
Onion jam
Spicy pickled cucumbers
Strawberry and rosewater jam
Pear and vanilla bean jam

Strawberry cordial
Rose cordial
Pineapple cordial
Lemon and Barley cordial
Ginger beer

Baked goods:
Beetroot bread
No knead bread
Vegan baked donuts
Chocolate cauliflower brownies
Lemon poppyseed cake 
Seedy flapjacks
Vegan fruit and nut biscotti
Chocolate Bier cake

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