Sunday, 29 June 2014

Dampfnudeln, comfort food from Bavaria

Kornelia's Kitchen

Sometimes, comfort food just hits the right spot. Sometimes, it feels good to indulge in a generous serving of carbohydrates. Dampfnudeln can be counted as one of these dishes taking the rough edges from the troubles of daily life. I remember them from childhood and I still love them, doused in vanilla sauce.

My mother used to serve them occasionally as a sweet lunch. I think, eating a sweet dish as a main course is quite unique to Southern Germany. The Austrians, for example, also have Dampfnudeln but they serve them as dessert only. Literally translated, Dampfnudeln means steamed dumplings. Chinese have a quite similar dish. I just ate Chinese dumplings in Bombay that resembled Dampfnudeln. But they were stuffed with a pork mixture.

Dampfnudeln are made from a sweet, rich yeast dough. Butter is an essential ingredient in this recipe, but it is used in moderation. To make my dumplings more nutritious, I used whole-wheat flour - my carbohydrate indulgence comes with a decent amount of fibre.

I actually revived this recipe for a young friend of mine. This girl shows a remarkable interest in cooking, especially sweets. Unfortunately, the kitchen of her parents does not sport an oven. Dampfnudeln are cooked in a pan, so she can make them on her oven top.

When I made this recipe with my young friend, I tried to add a touch of sophistication: We made a filling of raisins, walnuts, sugar and cinnamon. The result was not bad, but it left me with an insight: Sometimes, pedestrian recipes work because they are simple. I prefer my Dampfnudeln plain, sweet, fluffy dough with plenty of vanilla sauce. They melt in your mouth and the crust at the bottom gives you just enough crunch to avoid boring.

I use real vanilla for my vanilla sauce, which makes all the difference. I think, Dampfnudeln make a good breakfast. You can prepare the dough in the evening and just steam them in the morning. Personally, I like them at any kind of the day. It is never too early or too late to pamper yourself. Just forget about calories and enjoy.

Wishing you happy cooking, always!

Kornelia Santoro with family


Ingredients (for 7 big dumplings):

  • 1 packet dry yeast

  • 4 tablespoons sugar

  • ¼ cup lukewarm water

  • ¼ cup lukewarm milk

  • 6 tablespoons butter

  • 2 ¼ cup whole-wheat flour

  • ½ cup cold milk
    For the vanilla sauce:

  • 1 vanilla pod

  • 2 cups milk

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • ½ tablespoon corn flour

  • 4 egg yolks

 yeast mixture for Dampfnudeln dough

Dissolve the yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in the lukewarm water. Let it stand until it starts to form bubbles. That takes around five minutes.
In a bowl stir the milk, 4 tablespoons melted butter and 1 tablespoon sugar. Add the yeast mix and stir well again. Add the flour and mix everything well. You should have soft dough now, which is a bit sticky, but not too much.First stage of dough
Place the dough on an even surface and start kneading it. Maybe you need to add a little more flour. The dough should become elastic without sticking to your fingers. It needs about five minutes of earnest kneading to activate the gluten in the flour.Dough ball after kneading
When you have a nice ball of soft dough, place it back into the bowl and cover it with a moist cloth. Let it rise for around 45 minutes in a warm place. The dough should double in size. Slightly butter a cookie sheet. Give the dough one good kneading, and then form round balls. Place them on the cookie sheet and let them rise again for around 45 minutes.Dampfnudeln rising
While the Dampfnudeln are rising, prepare the vanilla sauce. Slice open the vanilla pod and scrape out the black insides. Pour the milk into a saucepan. Add the sugar, the vanilla and the hull of the vanilla pod. Bring it to a boil over a medium flame, and then simmer for five minutes. The sugar should dissolve completely. Switch off the heat.
Mix the egg yolks with the corn flour. When the milk has cooled down completely, add the egg yolks. Keep stirring continuously while mixing them with the hot milk. Turn on the flame again, as low as possible and heat until you feel the sauce thicken. Don’t boil it again otherwise the egg yolks curdle.
Dampfnudeln steaming in the panTo steam the dumplings, you need a big pan with a close fitting lid, preferably made from glass so you can see what happens. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in the cold milk and dissolve the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in the milk. Bring it to a boil, and then turn the flame to low.
Gently put the dumplings into the milk. Close the pan with the lid and don’t open for at least 30 minutes. This is very important. If you open the lid too early, the dumplings will deflate. Dampfnudeln need to be soft and fluffy with a crust on the bottom.
You know they are cooked when you hear a crackling sound from the pan. That means, the liquid has evaporated and the bottom of the dumplings is frying in the butter. After 2 to 3 minutes of crackling, the Dampfnudeln are ready. Serve them immediately with the vanilla sauce. Dampfnudeln are not good to keep in the fridge.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Smoked Fish with Salsa Verde

Kornelia's Kitchen: Smoked Fish Filets with Salsa Verde 
My experiments with home smoking have come to a successful conclusion. It was a journey with a few hiccups, brought about by one of my readers. Some time ago, she asked me for a recipe for smoking and I am finally able to oblige.

The biggest problem with smoking here in India is the medium for producing smoke. In western countries you can buy hardwood chips without pesticides. Theoretically, you could go to a carpenter here and bag some leftovers. However, there is a good chance this wood is loaded with chemicals.

I have discovered instructions how to smoke food at home with a mixture of tea, rice, sugar and spices. This imparts a particular flavour to the food and makes a big mess. Burned sugar in combination with rice is quite an ugly sight. I have tried this method with chicken breasts, but my men refused the taste of star anise. So I tried to simplify and I have used only tea – which works well. Tea is easily available everywhere and should not contain too many pesticides.

The tricky part remains the treatment of the produce before smoking. Some people recommend placing the food between layers of salt, others suggest using brine. I have used brine. For the first time I had my fish filets sitting in the brine for two days, which made them unbelievably salty. About one to two hours does the trick. The salt removes some moisture from the flesh so the fish filets drip a bit less during smoking.

You should take only really fresh fish filets because the smoking does not reach very high temperatures. I have used frozen fish filets with good success. Ideally you would take a fish with a high fat content like salmon. As salmon is very expensive here, I have used basra fish filets (similar to cod) and it worked out well. The smoking imparts a delicate, yet distinctive flavour. I have paired it with a classic Italian sauce, salsa verde, which compliments the smoking flavour very well – at least I think so.
Remember to keep your windows open during smoking. The smell tends to linger in the air.

Wishing you happy cooking, always!

Kornelia Santoro with family

Smoked Fish Filets with Salsa Verde

Smoked Fish with Salsa Verde

Ingredients for the smoked fish filets
(for 4 servings):

  •  2 big fish filets
  • (around 400 grams each)
  •  1 cup salt1 cup black tea

Defrost the fish filets. Prepare brine by dissolving the salt in 750 millilitres hot water. Let the brine cool down. Place the fish filets in a sufficiently big container and pour the brine over them. Let them marinate for one to two hours.

Take out the fish filets from the brine, give them a quick rinse and pat them dry with kitchen towels.

preparing the fish filets for smokingTake an old pan or wok. Spread aluminium foil over the bottom and place ¾ cup of tea onto the foil. You also need a rack, which fits on top of the pan. Arrange the fish filets on the rack.

Turn on the heat under the pan. As soon as smoke starts to develop, put the rack with the fish over the pan and seal it with a big sheet of aluminium foil. Lower the heat to medium and leave the fish for about six to seven minutes.
smoking the fish filets
Remove the rack with the fish from the pan. Be careful not to burn yourself. Turn the fish and place it upside down on the rack. Scatter the rest of the tea over the bottom of the pan and let it develop smoke.

When the smoke returns, put the rack with the fish over the pan and seal it again with aluminium foil. Let it smoke for another three to four minutes. Check that the fish is cooked through. It should not appear dry, but remain a bit moist.

Ingredients for the salsa verde (for about 4 servings): 

  • 2 bundles parsley
  • 2 pieces of toast bread
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 anchovies
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • salt and pepper

Cut away the rind from the bread and moisten it with the vinegar. Wash the parsley well and pick the leaves from the stalks. Place the bread and the parsley into a blender. Add the anchovies, the cleaned and crushed garlic and the washed capers. Blend everything well. You want a really smooth paste. Finally mix it with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper according to taste. If you want some punch in the salsa verde, blend some fresh green or red chillies together with the bread and the parsley.
Serve the smoked fish with the salsa verde spread over the top.

Sunday, 15 June 2014


Going strong for thousands of years

This small legume offers a wealth of nutrition with a mighty history. Lentils belong to the first foods that humans cultivated. Archaeologists have found 8.000 years old lentil seeds in the Middle East. Lentils are even mentioned in the bible.

Compared to other dried beans, lentils are quick to prepare. There are numerous varieties with colours ranging from light yellow and orange to dark brown. They don’t need to be soaked overnight and easily absorb flavours from spices. Lentils contain a lot of fibre, plenty of minerals, complex carbohydrates and a lot of protein without any fat. If you want to loose weight, they should be on your menu.

The fibre of legumes not only keeps your bowels going, it also helps the body to absorb the calories slowly thus avoiding a hike in blood sugar and insulin levels. This is especially important for persons who suffer from diabetes.

Lentils also provide two B-vitamins and big amounts of six important minerals, among them folate, magnesium and iron. Folate is especially important for pregnant women as it helps forming the nervous system of the unborn baby. It is equally important for grown ups as it supports the human metabolism to get rid of homocysteine, a byproduct of digestion. This substance damages artery walls and increases the risk for heart disease.

Magnesium relaxes the walls of arteries and veins thus improving the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. The iron in lentils helps the body to form blood as it is a part of haemoglobin, the red blood cells which transport oxygen through the body. It is also required by the human metabolism for important digestive processes.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Lentil Cream

Heavenly Healthy!

Here I introduce a vegetarian recipe which I have more or less created myself. I write more or less because it is inspired by the vegetarian sandwich spreads which you find in health food stores all over the world.
I have taken the flavours of the Greek lentil soup which I adore. This soup is dominated by tomatoes, garlic and oregano. Instead of making a soup however, I add just enough liquid to obtain a cream. You can serve this cream as a snack with crackers or bread. I like to stir in some red wine vinegar which adds a bit of tang. You can use the cream also to make healthy sandwiches, for example for your kids’ tiffin boxes. It is great topped with any kind of cheese.
Lentils not only offer a wealth of nutrition, they also taste wonderfully rich and earthy.

Wishing you happy cooking, always!

Kornelia Santoro with family

(for 4 big servings):
  • 2 cups lentils (masoor dal)
  • 2 packets tomato puree (200 ml each)
  • 3 big carrots
  • 1 medium size beetroot
  • 4 big onions
  • 4 big cloves garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper


Unlike other legumes lentils don’t need to be soaked overnight. You can use any type of lentils you like. I prefer brown masoor dal for this recipe because it has a round, earthy flavour. 

Wash the lentils and place them into a pressure cooker. You can prepare the lentil cream in a normal pot as well; it just takes a lot longer to cook. Peel the carrots, the beetroot the onions and the garlic and grate them. Add the vegetables to the lentils in the pot. Pour in the tomato puree, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 750 ml water into the pot and mix everything well. Add salt and pepper, the bay leaves and the oregano.

Close the pressure cooker, switch on the flame and boil the lentil cream for half an hour after the first whistle. In a normal pot you have to cook the lentils for at least one hour, stirring occasionally. The lentils should melt in your mouth. You might have to add some extra water also, but not much. At the end of the cooking time you should have a thick cream, not a soup.

When the lentils are cooked, open the pressure cooker. If there is any water left, you have to boil it some more minutes. Stir in 3 tablespoons of olive oil and taste the cream. You might have to add some more salt and pepper. Take out the bay leaves and store the cream in airtight containers. You can keep it in the fridge for at least one week.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Go for red beans

Red beans detoxify your body

Red beans, also called Rajma, kidney and Pinto beans are known as ‘Phaseolus vulgaris’, which means ‘common beans’. They all trace their origin to a common ancestor bean in Peru. Spanish explorers brought them to Europe in the 15th century and Portuguese traders introduced them to Asia.

Beans are not only a cheap source of good protein; they also contain plenty of cholesterol-lowering fiber. A cup of cooked kidney beans provides almost half of the recommended daily intake for fiber. This fiber prevents blood sugar levels from bouncing up and down after a meal, making beans easy digestible for people with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia.

Furthermore they supply us with the trace mineral molybdenum which helps our bodies getting rid of sulfites. Sulfites are preservatives found in many industrial foods. Big amounts of folate, magnesium, manganese, iron and niacin (Vitamin B1) make red beans an excellent ingredient for any healthy diet. These minerals and vitamins support a healthy heart, improve your memory, help keep your heart healthy, boost your antioxidant defense and provide plenty of fat-free energy. If you want to lose weight, eat plenty of beans.

More recipes at Kornelia's Kitchen 
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Friday, 6 June 2014

Wholewheat Flour

Atta: full grains ensure complete nutrition
Wheat is an ancient grain, which humans eat for more than 12,000 years. It played a vital role in the sacred rituals of many cultures. Greek, Roman, Sumerian and Finnish mythology had gods and goddesses of wheat.
Although I do not pray to the goddess of wheat, it plays an important part in feeding my family. In my kitchen I practically never use white flour, only whole wheat flour or atta, as it is called in India. This has one reason: White flour lacks the bran and the germ of the wheat grain, the parts which offer the most nutrition. From a health point of view refining flour makes no sense at all. Whole wheat is  a good source of dietary fiber, manganese and magnesium which help prevent many diseases.
Different research studies show that eating frequently whole grains can help avoid type 2 diabetes and the forming of gallstones. Food rich in fiber keeps your colon moving and can help to protect you and your loved ones from breast and other hormone related cancers, colon cancer, childhood asthma and heart disease.
Recently scientists claimed whole grains may be even more beneficial as is known today. According to press reports research methods have overlooked many powerful phytonutrients in whole grains. It seems that for years researchers have only measured “free” forms of phytonutrients, which are immediately absorbed into the bloodstream. The “bound” forms however are attached to the walls of plant cells. They must be released by bacteria in the intestines to be absorbed by the body.
This does not matter so much when you analyze fruits and vegetables, as they have more than 70 per cent “free” phytonutrients. But in whole grains “bound” phytonutrients make up 99 per cent, which so far have been ignored. This may help explain the low risk for colon cancer of populations eating diets high in fiber-rich whole grain.