Tag: spices

Ginger Honey Glazed Duck with Spices and Polenta

Honey Glazed Duck

Sometimes I don’t have the time or patience to slow cook a whole duck for hours like I do with my Christmas Duck. Although this really makes for the most tender and juicy meat, I need a quicker alternative. Here’s what I came up with, honey glazed duck legs, juicy as well, with crisp skin, rubbed with spices and – most importantly – you can enjoy all of this after about an hour. If I find the time I marinade the meat in the morning so that the flavours can spread and soak into the skin during the day but it’s great either way.

I prefer the darker, deeper meat of wildfowl like duck, goose and pheasant, especially in the cold season. They allow you to rub strong spices and herbs into their skin without loosing their own qualities. For my duck legs, I went for an aromatic mixture of clove, bay leaf, ginger, star-anis, thyme, allspice and a good amount of honey for a crispy caramelized skin. The juices made an amazing sauce, a concentrate of all the spices, I just added some red wine. Perfect to dip the polenta in which I seasoned with thyme and rosemary.

Honey Glazed Duck

 Ginger Honey Glazed Duck with Spices and Polenta with Thyme and Rosemary

I prepare the polenta around 4o minutes after I put the duck legs into the oven.

For 2 people you need

duck legs 2
red wine 250ml
(or 100ml red wine and 150ml broth)
salt and black pepper
olive oil


For the marinade

strong honey 2 tablespoons
ginger, thumbnail sized, grated
thyme, leaves of 5 sprigs
allspice berries, ground, 3
cloves, ground, 5
bay leaf, ground, 1
star-anis, ground, 1
cinnamon, ground, 1/4 teaspoon

Warm up the honey in a small sauce pan until it becomes liquid, spread on the duck legs together with the spices and rub everything into their skin marinating them for 1 hour (if possible). You can also prepare them in the morning (like I do) and keep them in the fridge all day before you cook them in the evening.


 For the duck legs

Set the oven to 260°C / 500°F. My oven has a Rotitherm roasting setting which works perfectly for poultry.

Put the duck legs into an oiled baking dish, skin side up, and season with salt and pepper. Pour the remaining honey and spices of the marinade over the duck and place the dish in the hot oven. When the skin starts to get brown after a few minutes turn the temperature down to 130°C / 265°F and pour the red wine into the baking dish (a little over the duck as well) and bake for 60 minutes. Check with a skewer, if only clear juices come out the duck is done. Keep the duck legs in a warm place, pour the juices into a sauce pan and season with salt and pepper to taste. I didn’t even need to cook the sauce down. It was perfect, very intense, it didn’t need anything else. If you like you can add some more honey, Balsamico or a little orange juice.


For the polenta

polenta 120g / 4 ounces
water 250ml plus 150ml for cooking
milk 250ml
thyme, leaves of 4 sprigs
rosemary, chopped, 1/2 – 1 teaspoon
salt 1 teaspoon
olive oil 2 tablespoons

In a sauce pan, mix 250ml of water with the milk and salt and bring to the boil. Take the pan off the heat, add the olive oil, polenta and herbs and mix with a whisk. Turn down the heat to the lowest temperature and put the pan back on. Cook the polenta for 10 minutes mixing and adding the rest of the water once in a while.

Honey Glazed Duck

A juicy treat with orange, turmeric and ginger

Orange+ Turmeric + Ginger Juice

Today’s post is dedicated to all my friends who have a cold – unfortunately, quite a few at the moment. I would love to have them all over to nurse them, so I decided to come up with a tasty and healthy juice, full of vitamins and powerful roots to give them a recipe that will strengthen them again!

My current favourite, the blood orange, is as important to this juice as freshly grated turmeric and ginger roots. Turmeric is a great helper when your body suffers from inflammations, be it in the throat, the ears or your tummy. This root has an important role in the Ayurveda philosophy and is assumed to have a big effect on our cells like ginger which is an antiseptic boost to the immune system.

If you feel well and strong – which I hope you all are – then you can just enjoy this wonderful juice and its spicy, fruity taste. And anyways, prevention is better than cure.

For 1 big glass of this powerful drink, you will need around 350ml of freshly squeezed orange juice (I used 6 of my blood oranges), 1/8 teaspoon of freshly grated turmeric root and 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger. I bought the turmeric in a small organic shop around the corner but you can find it in lots of Asian shops as well.

Drink it, enjoy, and get well soon!

Orange+ Turmeric + Ginger Juice


Orange+ Turmeric + Ginger Juice

A Ladin Sandwich with Spices and Tyrolean Prosciutto

Tyrolean Sandwich

I used to eat this sandwich whenever I arrived in Corvara, I went straight to the bakery to get some local flatbread and then to the butcher for prosciutto. Outside the shop, I prepared my sandwich, sat on a bench in the snow and enjoyed the start of my holiday.

Last week I read about this bread, the bread of my mountain village of choice. It is a flatbread made with rye flour mixed with coriander, fennel and aniseed. It’s a speciality in the Ladinia region around the Sella mountains in the Italian Dolomite Alps. In Italian this area is called Val Badia and the Ladin name (which is an autonomous language) is Alta Badia.

There are two ways to prepare this bread, one is more flat, it becomes dry, hard and brittle after baking. It’s very thin and you “shake” the dough to loosen it up which gives it its name, “Schuettelbrot” (shaken bread). This method was used to preserve the bread for the long and lonely time in the mountain huts where the supply of fresh bread and food was an unfrequent and laborious task. It keeps for months, the texture is hard but it retains its strong taste of spices.

The second one is thicker and this is the one I choose to make, at it’s best when fresh and warm. Although it’s not as light and fluffy as a flatbread made with wheat flour, it’s denser and more complex in taste. Traditionally you eat this bread together with Tyrolean Prosciutto at Vesper time, in the afternoon or evening when you feel like a little snack. My mother sent me a nice piece of prosciutto from San Cassiano, so I use this special occasion for this week’s Sandwich Wednesday.

Tyrolean Sandwich

A Ladin Sandwich with Spice Flatbread and Tyrolean Prosciutto

I spread some cream cheese on the flatbread, traditionally it’s made without, but I was in the mood for it.

For 8 little flatbreads you need

rye flour 180g / 6.5 ounces
spelt flour 180g / 6.5 ounces
dry yeast 1 package for 500g / 1 pound of flour
water, lukewarm,  125ml
milk, lukewarm,  50ml
coriander seeds, ground, 1 teaspoon
fennel seeds, ground, 1/2 teaspoon
aniseed, ground, 1/2 teaspoon
caraway seeds, ground, 1/4 teaspoon
salt 1/2 teaspoon

olive oil to grease the baking sheet

For the topping

Tyrolean Prosciutto 3 slices for each flatbread
cream cheese (optional)
crushed black pepper

Combine the flour with the spices, yeast and salt, add the lukewarm water and the milk, slowly, not all at once (you might not need all of it). Mix with your dough hooks for a few minutes. The dough should be more on the dry side. Continue kneading and punching with your hands until you have an elastic dough ball, not sticky at all. Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with a tea towel and let it rise in the warm oven (35°C / 95°F) for 45 minutes. This works really well but make sure that your oven is set to top/ bottom heat and not to fan.

Take the dough out and punch it down. Divide it into 8 pieces and roll them out into discs (on a floured working surface, between 1 – 1 1/2 cm /  around 1/2″ thick). Cover with a tea towel and let them rise for another 25 minutes.

Set your oven to 250°C / 480°F. My oven has a special pizza setting which I use for this recipe but you can use top / bottom heat as well. Grease your baking sheet with some olive oil.

Put your flatbreads on the baking sheet and bake them on the lowest level for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Take them out and let them cool for 2 minutes. Cut a bread in half, spread with cream cheese and cover with a few slices of the prosciutto. You can sprinkle some crushed black pepper over it too.

Tyrolean Sandwich


Tyrolean Sandwich

Mussels with Spices, Ginger, Lemongrass and Coriander

Mussels with Ginger, Lemon Grass + Coriander

Last summer I enjoyed a sumptuous dinner in a beautiful candle lit garden at an old villa surrounded by fragrant Stephanotis and Plumbago. The setting was just perfect and the food divine as always, cooked by my dear friend Vanessa. She treated us to the freshest seafood, prepared in inspiring variations. We started the dinner with mussels cooked with coriander, turmeric, cayenne and ginger in a wonderful broth made with coconut milk and lemon. I was never too fond of mussels until that night. I used to cook them with celery, carrots and onions in white wine which is nice but the exotic mixture of spices and herbs was something special and unexpected.

When I bought the mussels for our dinner I knew I would take Vanessa’s version and mix it with mine. I used white wine instead of coconut milk but adopted her mix of coriander, turmeric, cayenne and ginger. To this I added some lemongrass, garlic, spring onions and carrots. The velvety broth was a fantastic match for the mussels, very bold while not overpowering the fresh sea taste of the mussels. We finished all the mussels and soaked up every drop of the remaining broth with some Ciabatta bread.

Mussels with Ginger, Lemon Grass + Coriander

Mussels with Spices, Ginger, Lemongrass and Coriander

For 2 hungry people you need

mussels, rinsed, 1 kg / 2 pounds
garlic, crushed, 1 clove
spring onions, cut into slices, 2
carrot, cut into cubes, 1
ginger, grated, thumbnail size
lemongrass, cut into thin slices, a 7cm / 3″ piece
coriander seeds, ground, 1 teaspoon
turmeric, ground, 1/3 teaspoon
cayenne pepper, ground, 1/8 teaspoon
salt 1/2 teaspoon
white wine 250ml
lemon juice 1 tablespoon
oil for frying 2 tablespoons
fresh coriander, chopped, a handful

Heat the oil in a large pot and fry the ginger, lemongrass, garlic and vegetables for a couple minutes. Add the ground spices, mix and fry for another minute. Pour the wine and lemon juice into the pot and bring to the boil, season with salt. Add the mussels and mix with the liquid. Close with a lid and turn down the heat to the lowest temperature. Steam for 5 minutes or until the shells open. Take out the mussels which didn’t open, you should not eat them! Mix in the coriander leaves and serve on big plates.

Mussels with Ginger, Lemon Grass + Coriander

Salmon with a Crust of Winter Spices

Salmon with Winter Spices

Salmon is great to combine with strong flavours. Its own taste is so strong and unique but blends in perfectly with all kinds of herbs and spices, even exotic curry mixtures. When I saw this nice salmon steak at the fish counter I had to buy it. I didn’t even plan to cook fish but it looked too good to pass by.

At the moment, I use a lot of juniper, bay leaves and cloves, the typical winter spices. I decided to give them a try on the salmon as well – as a rough crust. They are very strong and aromatic spices, a bit sweet and smoky. It was more an experiment of sorts but I was really impressed by the result. We ate it with fresh bread and a salad on the side. Enjoy a glass of white wine with your meal and you will have a small dose of summer in January!

Salmon with Winter Spices

Salmon with a Crust of Bay Leaf, Juniper and Clove

For 2 people you need

salmon steak, around 2cm / 3/4″ thick, 1 big or 2 smaller steaks
olive oil
juice of 1/2 a lemon

For the crust

garlic, crushed, 1 clove
bay leaves, ground in a mortar, 2
juniper berries, ground in a mortar, 2
cloves, ground in a mortar, 2
black pepper, ground in a mortar, 6

Set your oven to 200°C / 390°F.

Grind all the ingredients for the crust in a mortar until you have a combined paste. Heat some oil in a non-stick pan (highest temperature). Rinse and dry the fish, season with salt and pepper and fry for 1 minute (on each side). Take the fish off the heat and spread the paste on the top side of the steak. Pour a bit of oil in a baking dish, mix with the lemon juice and place your  salmon steak on top. Bake in the oven for 8 minutes, when you can lift the fish from the bones it’s done.

Couscous with Orange, Ginger and 6 Spices

6 Spice Couscous

Two days ago I filmed a live session at a recording studio with electronic artist Jim Hickey . As there were five of us and we had to work till late, I wanted to prepare something nice for us to eat to feed the energetic mood.

I didn’t have much time to prepare, so a box of couscous caught my attention (5 minutes and it’s done!). My mother had just sent it to me a couple days before because, I think, something that has to sit rather than cook for just a few minutes didn’t quite satisfy her idea of cooking. I had half an hour to enhance it a bit so I decided to mix it with slices of leek and carrot and to add some strong exotic flavors – a homemade curry mixture with orange zest, ginger, turmeric, black pepper, cumin, cardamom, cayenne pepper and cinnamon. I mixed in some raisins to add some sweetness to the fruity spiciness of the curry mixture. Quick and easy – perfect food to wake you up (exactly what we needed at 11pm)!

6 Spice Couscous

 A Couscous with Orange, Ginger and 6 Spices

For 6 people you need

couscous 360g / 12.5 ounces
salty water 540ml (with 1 teaspoon of salt)
1/2 a medium sized leek, thinly sliced
spring onion, thinly sliced, 2
carrots, cut in small cubes, 4
raisins, a handful
olive oil, 3 tablespoons plus more for frying
butter, 2 tablespoons
sour cream, 3 tablespoons

Curry mixture

ginger, grated, 2 teaspoons
zest of an orange, 2 teaspoons
turmeric, ground, 1 teaspoon
black pepper, ground, 1 teaspoon
cinnamon, ground, 1 teaspoon
cardamom, ground, 1 teaspoon
cayenne pepper, ground, 1 teaspoon
cumin, ground, 1 teaspoon

Let the raisins soak in a cup of hot water.

Bring the salty water to the boil. Take the pot off the heat. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the water, add the couscous and mix immediately, close the lid (leave it off the heat). Let it sit for 5 minutes. Add the butter, mix and separate the grains with a fork.

Mix all your spices for the curry mixture (including the ginger and orange zest) and grind in a mortar. Warm some olive oil in a large pan and add the leek, spring onions and the carrots. Push the vegetables to the side after a couple minutes, pour some more oil in the middle of the pan and fry 3 teaspoons of your curry mixture for a minute on medium heat. Mix everything together and fry for another 1o minutes (keep in mind that the carrots shouldn’t become too soft). Season with salt.

Mix the couscous and the fried vegetables in a big bowl, add the sour cream and more of your curry mixture until you find the right balance of spiciness (I added another 3 teaspoons of the spices at that point, so 6 teaspoons in all). When you are happy with the result, take the raisins out of the water and sprinkle on top of your couscous.

6 Spice Couscous

Mulled Wine to celebrate the start of Advent season

Mulled wine

The Christmas markets are back and so is mulled wine!

Today we got our Christmas tree for the start of the Advent season. The tree is up and we clink our mugs filled with steaming mulled wine and enjoy the sweet smell of orange, cinnamon, cloves and wine. Now it’s time to decorate our beautiful fir tree, listen to some music and enjoy the warm drink together with some mince pies. I love December!

Mulled Wine

Mulled Wine

My recipe is a rough guideline, play with it, which is what I do. Sometimes I add some orange or lemon juice or put a few ginger slices into the steaming wine, or refine it with some cardamom and aniseed.

red wine 1 bottle (750ml)
black tea, preferably Earl Grey, 300ml / 1 1/4 cups
brandy or rum 30ml / 1 ounce
honey 2 tablespoons
maple sirup 3-4 tablespoons
organic orange, scrubbed and rinsed, 1
cinnamon stick, broken, 1
cinnamon, ground, 1/2 teaspoon
star-anis, single pieces broken from one star, 3
cloves 10

cardamom pods, cracked, 3
aniseed 1 teaspoon
orange juice 300ml / 1 1/4 cups

Slice the orange thickly and stud with cloves.

Combine everything in a pan, close with a lid and warm up slowly on medium heat. The spices need time to spread their flavors! But watch it as it shouldn’t start boiling. Sweeten to taste, fill the steaming wine in mugs and get cosy!

Winter Lentils with Chestnuts and Star-anis

Lentils with Star-anis

My mother loves lentils – and so do I – and she also loves to share her new lentil creations with me like her all time favorite lentils with chard (a variation which I will post another time). So for many, many years she has sent me her recipes by fax, written on a type writer, as she doesn’t like emails and computers. I have a folder full of faxes from her with wonderful recipes and always signed with a sweet motherly note.

Today’s lentil creation is something new, I need a soul warmer, with typical winter spices. I bought some French chestnuts and brought out the star-anis and cloves inspired by my last baking sessions. I will use very aromatic lentils from Swabia in the South of Germany sent to me – of course – by my mother. They are cultivated by an organic producer group called “Alb-Leisa” (www.alb-leisa.com) which recovered this treasure from oblivion. These re-cultivated lentil types had disappeared abruptly in the 1950s due to costs and extensive work. Luckily the Alb-Leisa work is well appreciated, their production has expanded and we can now buy aromatic lentils with old-fashioned names like “Späth’s Alblinse I and II”.

Lentils with Star-anis

 Lentils with Chestnuts and Star-anis

Here comes the soul-warming recipe, enough for 4 people. I use small lentils which don’t need pre-soaking.

lentils 300g / 10.5 ounces
small leek, cut in thin slices, 1
carrots, sliced in half and chopped, 3
small onion, chopped, 1
garlic clove, cut in half, 1
olive oil
broth or water 1l
thyme, a bunch
star-anis 1 (single, not a whole star)
bay leaves 2
cloves 2
allspice, whole not ground, 2
chestnuts, a hand full
salt and pepper

I prepared the chestnuts earlier as they don’t need to be warm. Preheat the oven to 200°C / 390°F and place an ovenproof   bowl filled with water on the bottom of the oven. Cut a cross on the curved side of the chestnuts and put them in the oven on a baking sheet 10 minutes or until they get dark and their crosses start curling up. Take them out of the oven and cover them with a wet tea towel immediately. This makes it much easier to peel them. Take them out of their outer hard and soft, inner skin while they are still warm. Mind your fingers as they can still be hot.

Warm olive oil in a pan and fry the leek, onion, carrots and garlic on medium heat. Add the lentils and pour the broth on top. Add the thyme and the spices (star-anis, bay leaves, cloves, allspice) but don’t season with salt yet or the lentils won’t cook and stay hard. Some people put the spices in a disposable tea filter which makes it easier to get them out later. I don’t mind them, I prefer to add them unwrapped. Close the lid and let it simmer. The cooking time depends on the lentil type. Mine need 20 minutes. After 10 minutes check if there is still enough liquid. When the lentils are soft, season with salt and pepper. Take out the thyme, bay leaves and the spices you can find.

Serve the lentils in deep bowls with broken chestnuts on top and enjoy this soul warming treat.