Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Recipe: Banana-Chocolate-Chunk Muffins

I have made these muffins twice now and they are delicious! Not to mention that with oats, whole wheat flour, and limited oil they are a bit healthier than most muffins :)
Courtesy of Cook Yourself Thin.
What you need:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups reduced-fat buttermilk [or substitute 1 1/4 cups milk with 1 tbsp. lemon juice]
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons chocolate chips

What you do:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12-muffin tray with paper liners. Set aside.
2. In a standing mixer [I mix everything by hand in a large bowl], combine the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, rolled oats, ground cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt and mashed banana, and blend on low speed for 2 minutes. Add the walnuts, brown sugar, vegetable oil, eggs and reduced-fat buttermilk, and blend for 2 minutes on medium speed. Add the vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
3. Using an ice cream scoop [I use a half-cup measuring cup], portion the batter evenly into the muffin tin, and top each muffin with 3 to 4 chocolate chips. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Once muffins are baked through, remove them from the oven and let cool. Serve.

This makes 12 muffins. I always double the batch! Enjoy :)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Recipe: Mary's Pumpkin-Fig Soup

What you need:
1 medium/large hokkaido pumpkin, peeled & diced
1 lg onion, diced
2 Tbsp sesame oil
3 Tbsp curry powder
1 Tbsp diced fresh ginger
2 fresh or 3 dried figs
1 can coconut milk
1 scant Tbsp lemon juice
3 c. vegetable broth
salt to taste
blender or blender wand

What you do:
Saute onion & curry powder in oil until transparent. Add pumpkin, fig, ginger, broth, lemon juice. Boil until pumpkin is soft. Puree with blender wand. Salt to taste.

Supper the Third

Hey friends!
Last Thursday was our third dinner! As I said in my last post, in Celia's absence I recruited a guest chef, Mary Dellenbaugh. Mary put together a great vegetarian menu for us, which was:
Sekt as an aperitif
Parmesan, garlic, and artichoke dip with bagel chips and olives

Pumpkin-curry-fig-coconut cream soup

Spinach & corn tart on a bed of greens with a balsamic reduction

& mini lemon-raspberry cremes for dessert

It was all delicious!
Only six people were present (our smallest yet!) and it was a very cozy evening. This time, I remembered to take a few photos!
In the absence of an apron, Mary swaddled herself in a towel to blender-wand the pumpkin into submission:

The guests, before we realized we didn't actually need both tables since two people cancelled/didn't show:

And one with me in it...luckily you can only kind of see my horrible thrift store Christmas vest, hahaha:

I have loooved having the leftovers the past few days! Those who didn't come, you missed out.
Stay tuned for the pumpkin soup recipe--Mary invented it herself!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Next Supper!

The email's been sent to the list, and here's what it said:
Hey supper clubbers!
Last week's supper was a fun one! I hope everyone enjoyed as much as I did.
Those of you who attended will recall some uncertainty about the next supper stemming from Celia and my respective holiday travel plans. Good news, however: we will be holding one more dinner in 2009, on Thursday December 10th!
Since Celia will still be in the States, we have recruited a guest chef, Mary Dellenbaugh. Mary is a photographer and all-around awesome chick, also from the US, who has actually worked in restaurants before (gasp!). She has very graciously agreed to let me cook with her in Celia's absence!
Since Mary is a vegetarian, her menu will be as well. Yum!
Here is the tentative menu plan (subject to change):
as Mary says, "nice & hearty & warm for December"
Parmesan-garlic-artichoke dip, various cheeses & olives with crackers for starters
Pumpkin curry soup with figs & crostini
Vegetable tarts (kind of like pot pie) on a bed of greens with balsamic reduction
mini lemon cremes for dessert (Mary sez: "something light to end all that good heavy stuff!")
+ of course wine.
I ask you, does that not sound delicious?!?
So email me back if you want to attend on Thursday, December 10th! We can only accommodate 10 people in addition to the two of us, so it will be first come, first served. If you need to cancel, please let us know at least 24 hours in advance for shopping purposes! And don't forget to bring your APPETITE and whatever donation you would like to give to cover our costs.
Let us know about any dietary restrictions as well.
And please feel free to pass this on to friends who may be interested!
This will be our last official supper club dinner until the New Year, though we will be cooking Christmas dinner if anyone is going to be lonely and hungry on Christmas Day :)
Hope to see you soon!

If you would like to RSVP and/or get on the mailing list, let us know at

Recipe: Mango Salsa

Much like my guac, my mango salsa is improvised and not closely measured.
What you need:
*lime juice
What you do:
Cut the mango into chunks and combine in a bowl with finely chopped cilantro and onion. Squeeze a couple limes over the mixture and stir. Voila, there you have it. A delicious side, condiment, or dip. The lime juice brings out the mango flavor and the cilantro and onion give it a kick to match the sweetness. Mmmm!

Recipe: California Guacamole

The proportions in this recipe are not precise. In the California hippy tradition, I just go by what feels right, haha.
What you need:
*lime juice
What you do:
Cut the avocado and tomato into smallish chunks and chop the onion finely (you should have more avocado than tomato and onion, though anything goes really). Combine in a bowl with finely chopped cilantro. Add lime juice and salt&pepper to taste. And it's that simple!
You can mash the mixture if you prefer a smoother guac, but for my part I find that a good stirring usually gives my preferred consistency, especially if the avos are ripe enough.

Recipe: Lime-Spiked Black Bean Dip

Courtesy of

* 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
* 1 cup grated carrot
* 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
* 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
* 1 teaspoon minced garlic
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

Place beans in a food processor, and pulse until almost smooth [we used a potato masher]. Combine the beans, carrot, and the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring until well blended. Let stand 30 minutes. Serve with baked tortilla chips [we used whole wheat pita].

Mmm delicious!

Supper the Second

Well! Last week we successfully survived the second supper club. Exactly a week ago, in fact. Sorry it's taken so long to post on it.
The fact of the matter is, I totally forgot to use my camera until the dinner was basically over. D'oh! You'll just have to imagine what I describe.
The photos I have are of the aftermath.
The decimated guac and mango salsa:

The usual kitchen disaster zone:

A burn on my hand (accidentally touched the inside of the oven):

And Celia classin' it up (haha):

The menu was:
Black bean dip with pita
Grilled salmon
California-style guacamole (that means chunky, none of this creamy creme fraiche-spiked stuff the Germans try to pass off as guac)
Mango salsa
Roasted rosemary potatoes
Fresh green salad
Flourless chocolate cake with warm raspberries in mint syrup
Since it was a work day for me, I did not have quite enough cooking time and ended up madly whipping egg whites for the cake when the guests had already arrived! But I think (I hope!) everyone enjoyed the wine and bean dip, so the delay wasn't too bad. We had mostly newcomers: Mai, Michelle, Daniel, Charlie, Christina, Linda, Junitta and Jan were all first-time supper clubbers (welcome, guys!). Kate came back, and my roomie Josh also joined us again. It was a lively crowd, and at 12 my bedroom-turned-dining-room was at full capacity! That's what made it fun though :)
Stay tuned...the next dinner is in the works!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Qype: Restaurant 44 im Swissôtel in Berlin

Berlin - Eating & Drinking - Restaurants - Gourmet

This meal will go down as one of the absolute best I have ever had the good fortune to enjoy.
I made a reservation for me, my aunt and my uncle at 9:30pm on a Friday night, the latest they will seat. The staff was the epitome of courteous and welcoming, speaking perfect English for the benefit of my non-Deutsch-speaking relatives. We were seated at a corner table overlooking the Ku'Damm's night lights. The tables were very generously spaced and we felt very well looked after.
We decided on the four course menu. I had artichoke, tuna, lamb, and a selection of cheese. My aunt had artichoke, king prawn, venison, and valrhona chocolate cake, and my uncle had quail, king prawn, coalfish, and chocolate cake as well.
Everything was innovatively prepared with creative uses of ingredients and beautifully plated.
The artichoke was served with little bits of heavenly creamy smoked mozzarella, chunks of tomato and slices of dessicated tomato (surprisingly sweet and chewy), some greens and a scoop of olive oil sorbet.
The tuna came in little perfectly seared cubes, served with brussel sprouts, shallot cream and duck pastrami (see what I mean about creative combinations?)
The crusted lamb saddle was the most flavorful and tender lamb I have ever tasted. I almost orgasmed when I tasted it. It came with two beautiful pastry tubes filled with creamy goat cheese and some veggies.
If that description didn't make you drool, you must be crazy.
Yes this place is expensive, but it is worth every penny. I recommend it highly for your next special occasion meal.

Check out my review of Restaurant 44 im Swissôtel - I am insizlane - on Qype

Qype: CUPCAKE in Berlin

Berlin - Eating & Drinking - Cafes & Coffee Shops - Cafes - Shopping - Food & Drink - Bakeries - Eating & Drinking - Restaurants - American

Huge. Moist. Delicious. Cupcakes.
It was reeeeally hard to choose, but on my inaugural visit to Cupcake, we selected one carrot cake and one Oreo cream.
I fuckin' love carrot cake. And this cupcake, with its creamy, copious cream cheese frosting, did not disappoint.
The Oreo cream was equally moist and creamy, though a bit plain. Next time, I want to try the mint.
Actually who am I kidding. I want to eat the whole store.

Check out my review of CUPCAKE - I am insizlane - on Qype

Qype: Kurhaus Korsakow in Berlin

Berlin - Eating & Drinking - Restaurants - Eastern European - Eating & Drinking - Restaurants - German

So far my favorite brunch buffet! The hot offerings are what I expect from a breakfast buffet: scrambled eggs, baked beans (mmm), and some kind of meat (the first time I went it was scrumptious little sausages, last time it was Jägerschnitzel patties). The cold offerings consist of a huge spread of lovely salads, including egg salad; a big platter of smoked salmon; a basket of fresh and often warm-from-the-oven bread; a big platter of seriously quality cheese (dear god, I ate a ton of it); various cold meats; and the usual muesli/cereal/yogurt, including some delectable chocolate pudding. You can have unlimited access to this smorgasbord of delight for a mere 7.90eur. If you want a big glass of OJ and a cup of coffee or tea, it'll run you 9.90eur. For a whole pot of coffee or tea along with your OJ and breakfast, it is a mere 11.90eur. Trust me, this is a steal for the quality of the buffet. Not to mention, it is right by the Boxhagener Platz Sunday flea market, and I've never found it overcrowded. Next time you want a quality brunch, give this joint a try!

Check out my review of Kurhaus Korsakow - I am insizlane - on Qype

Friday, November 6, 2009

Pie Adventures

Last week I had some leftover crumbled cinnamon cookies and I thought it would be fun to use them for a pie crust. I knew just the pie I wanted to make: my mother's French Silk Chocolate Pie. I got the recipe and it is pretty simple (and decadent): sugar, eggs, butter and melted chocolate, poured into a pie crust and refrigerated for a few hours to set. Since I had some leftover mint as well, I thought I'd add my own twist and try making a mint syrup to mix into the pie filling. The pie usually sets pretty hard, so I thought the extra liquid wouldn't ruin the pie's texture.
Sounds simple, no? But this post isn't called pie adventures for nothing. Hahaha.
First hiccup: burnt the crust. I have a habit of burning things that only have to be in the oven a short time. I get distracted too easily. See: burning 4 rounds of pine nuts to top last supper club's couscous before finally getting it right (whoops).
Second hiccup: burnt the new crust I constructed from the un-burnt bits of the original one and the leftover cookie crumbs. Oh well. Burned crust it is. Maybe the pie will have a nice smoky flavor?
Third hiccup: My roomie shopped for me and got 90% dark chocolate which is very bitter. But I happen to like dark chocolate and besides, there's more than enough sugar in the recipe, especially with the added mint syrup. It did make the filling look different than when my mom makes it though.
Fourth hiccup: My mother's recipe is designed for a smaller pie crust so the filling spread quite thinly over my larger pie tin.
So how did it turn out?

Well, the crust didn't hold together well, and it didn't set as hard as it usually does, so it wasn't really pie so much as pudding with crusty burnt bits. And the mint flavor was nonexistant. But you can't really go wrong with eggs, sugar, butter and chocolate, so I still ate it :)
Not all my kitchen forays turn out well!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Qype: Cafe Morgenrot in Berlin

Berlin - Eating & Drinking - Pubs & Bars - Pubs - Eating & Drinking - Cafes & Coffee Shops - Cafes - Eating & Drinking - Restaurants - Vegetarian - Eating & Drinking - Restaurants

Came here for brunch right as they opened at 11am on a Sunday. The buffet seemed small at first, but really they just put out small amounts of everything, and refill constantly. The bread was warm and soft, the extremely varied sweet and savory spreads delicious. I also loved the bean salad and caprese (mozzarella, tomato, and basil, one of my favorite combos of all food-dom). The best part, however, was the CHEESE. Little wedges of creamy beautiful bleu cheese and brie; slices of flavorful gouda, swiss, and more; and an amazingly tangy and wonderful gorgonzola spread. Paired with the bread and some fresh sliced tomato, it was heavenly. The only weird thing was the vegan scrambled eggs--huh? It looked like bright yellow couscous.
We also tried the vegan chocolate cake and it was pretty darn good for something without eggs and butter.
The price is anything between 4 and 8 euro, you what you think you owe.
I will definitely be back--the perfect pre-Mauerpark brunch spot!

Check out my review of Cafe Morgenrot - I am insizlane - on Qype

Qype: Kinocafé Intimes in Berlin

Berlin - Eating & Drinking - Cafes & Coffee Shops - Cafes

At first I was kind of resistant to the idea of Berlin brunch. A cold buffet? C'mon, just give me some eggs benedict dammit! But I've been won over (thanks in no small part to my complete and total adoration of cheese). The brunch here is HUGE--a big long table of cold salads, meats, and cheeses; cereals, yogurts, and a delectable tiramisu (which goes fast and is not replaced, so grab it early!); and a couple hot plates (pasta, when I went). Given that I had a pretty legit hangover and was hella hungry, I was happy for the variety and had two big plates of food and two helpings of tiramisu. Since I ate so much, the price of 8.5eur was reasonable, but it seems a bit steep for brunch in general. I've been to places that charged half that for a similar buffet. Having paid that much for the food, I didn't want to pay for a drink, so I can't comment on their beverages. The regular menu, however, looked quite good, and I wouldn't be surprised if I end up back here again.

Check out my review of Kinocafé Intimes - I am insizlane - on Qype

Qype: marienBurger in Berlin

Berlin - Eating & Drinking - Restaurants - American

Whew. I need a nap after eating that monster burger. But it was so worth it.
I got a regular cheeseburger and an order of wedge fries. The burger was HUGE and hot and delicious with all the basic toppings: tomato, lettuce, onions, pickles, plus special sauce. Mmmm.
To the people who complain about the cheese--honestly, I have a soft spot in my heart for processed cheese slices, especially because they MELT the best, which is what I want on my burger--gooey creamy deliciousness.
The wedges were good, covered in spices of some kind (which tasted sort of vaguely Asian for some reason), crispy on the outside, warm and soft on the inside.
I sat at the counter and read the free magazines while I waited. I didn't wait long, especially considering I went at noon on the dot and it was made fresh to order.
And all this for only 5.10eur? Color me satisfied.
One weird thing--everyone else there was eating their burgers with forks and knives. Um? I felt like a weirdo grabbing the burger and gettin messy with cheese and dripping juice all over my hands. But as far as I'm concerned, that's how a burger should be eaten. A couple construction workers sitting at the outside table were the only other ones using their hands. They had double burgers as well, which seemed to contain more meat than anyone needs in a single sitting, haha.
The rest of the menu looked good. I'm not vegetarian but I'd try that mozzarella burger any day.
But next time? I think it has to be the baby burger for me. I am waaay too full right now.

Check out my review of marienBurger - I am insizlane - on Qype

Friday, October 30, 2009

Qype: Maria Bonita in Berlin

Berlin - Eating & Drinking - Fastfood & Takeaway - Eating & Drinking - Restaurants - Mexican

So I heard the tacos here are the best in Berlin, and had to give it a try. The atmosphere and food here is much more taqueria than Chipotle. Having perused the menu, I was tempted by the enchiladas and burritos as well as the tacos, but had to go with the latter to see if the hype is true. I got Tacos Carnitas and they were tiny, like silver dollar pancakes but tacos, and had I shelled out 6eur for them alone I would have been mighty pissed. As it was, a substantial helping of guac, rice and beans on the side cost only 2eur extra, and the total price of 8eur for the plate seemed less objectionable, though still somewhat pricy for my (admittedly cheapskate) standards. The carnitas were tender and flavorful, but had no spice. I dumped almost the whole container of salsa from the table onto my plate, and it added only a moderate amount of spiciness. Plus, the guacamole was a bit too creamy and bland for my taste. I can make it 10x better at home. The plate was merely passable. The saving grace of this experience, however, was my friend's chicken-and-pumpkin burrito (the menu's pumpkin burrito, with chicken added for an extra euro). It was scrumptious. My one complaint with it was that it fell apart at any attempt to pick it up--get sturdier tortillas! Nonetheless, we happily grabbed it our of the container with our fingers and gobbled it down. I plan to go back and try the enchiladas sometime, but I wasn't overly impressed.

Check out my review of Maria Bonita - I am insizlane - on Qype

Next supper!

The next supper club is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, November 10th. Email if you'd like to be invited or get on the mailing list!
Our preliminary menu is as follows:

Hor D'ouevres of some sort
Grilled salmon
Mango salsa & California-style guacamole
Roasted dill potatoes
Fresh green salad
Flourless chocolate cake with fruit
and of course, wine & beverages!

Looking forward to it,

Supper the First

1 cut thumb
1 burned finger
1 cracked glass
1 snapped knife
and 5 bottles of wine later, the inaugural meal of CD supper club has been brought off successfully!
CD is for our names, Celia & Diana, as well as Casual Dining and Crazy Delicious and any number of other things :)
Our menu was:
Smoked salmon pinwheels (thanks for the recipe mom!)
Chicken stuffed with goat cheese and sundried tomatoes (thanks for the recipe aunty amy!)
Fruited coucous pilaf
Cucumber salad
Roasted eggplants & zucchini
Grilled red & yellow peppers
& Lemon cheesecake for dessert (Celia's mother's recipe)
We received 4 responses to our ads. 2 couldn't make the date but wanted to get on the mailing list, and 2 were in! To fill the extra spots, we invited friends like mad, and eventually we had 11 attendees: me and Celia, my two roomies, the two strangers, and 5 friends from various places, known of whom knew each other. It was shaping up to be a good night.
We shopped at the Turkish Market on Friday and at Kaufland on Saturday. Saturday evening, we met to make the cheesecake and cucumber salad, which had to marinate overnight.
On Sunday afternoon it was time to hole up in Neukölln and get cookin! We set up my room as the dining room (it really has a lot of space!) with some plates and cutlery borrowed from Celia:

We set out the wine (an essential component):

And the salmon pinwheels:

And then we made the rest of the food, and people started arriving, and it was wonderful!
The strangers turned out to be: Rene, a Danish pilot, and Kate, an economics officer at the US embassy from New Jersey. 3 of our 'friends' didn't show, but everyone ate heartily and we still almost finished the food, not to mention all five bottles of wine. There was lots of laughter, the food was delicious (if I do say so myself), and everyone seemed to have a good time.
My roomie Eric helped out and made a playlist:

Action shot of people beginning to eat:

And everyone posing nicely:

My delicious plate of food (nom nom nom):

The amazing cheesecake!:

And the aftermath. I think we used every dish, cooking pot, and utensil in the kitchen (including the cleaver, which we used to serve the cheesecake, haha):

We had a dishwashing party to some Belle & Sebastian tunes and most of it was done pretty quick.
And that was it! The first supper club.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Here's the deal.

The ad we posted on craigslist and toytown for our inaugural supper club:
"We are a couple of friendly expats living in Berlin, who have three things in common--our love for cooking, laughter, and meeting new people. That is why we are starting a casual supper club in Neukölln….and you’re invited!

So here is how it will work:

...we will post our menu, date, and price......and the first 5 people to e-mail to will get an invitation. If you don't reply in time, that's ok, you will be put on the mailing list for the next dinner!

..the supper club will be very small...not because we are elite, but because we don't have that much room, and are still experimenting with logistics. Besides, we value quality over quantity!

Our first dinner will take place next Sunday, the 25th.

Menu will be:

Appetizers: salmon pinwheels

Chicken stuffed with goat cheese and sundried tomatoes
couscous with dried cherries & apricots
cucumber salad
grilled veggies galore

dessert: simply delightful lemon cheesecake

plus various wines

The price will be 15 Euro, and 12 euro if you don't want any wine

Please send us an email if you would like to come. hope to see you there! -C&D"

Stay tuned for more!