Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wien- The Cultural Tour

Oh what to say of my Anniversary weekend in Vienna... Well I got really sick. My fancy and expensive celebration meal seems to have brought about sharp hint of food poisoning to my saturday night slumber while Kris managed to get tonsillitis. Nevertheless, we were completely enchanted by this perfect little city.

One of the first places we visited was the highly recommended Cafe Sperl which has the unfortunate (and now secret) fame of being Hitler's favorite haunt as a young chap.
As the entire menu was in German, we had what we assumed was the "Cafe Sperl Breakfast Special" which for about 7 euros got us a pot of coffee with some warm milk, sugar, a basket of rolls and some very good jam. Kris got a slightly too sweet strawberry while I got lucky with delicious orange marmalade.
Café Sperl
Gumpendorfer Straße 11
A - 1060 Wien

Next we walked on over to the seriously awesome Natural History Museum. I don't think this museum has been updated since about 1897 but therein lies its charm. Each room is filled to the brim with stuffed animals, rocks, minerals and other weird and wonderful things.
I would highly recommend the Naturhistorisches Museum. Apparently every child in Austria comes here at least once with their school. It was only 3.50 euros for us "students" and was really worth the walk around. The museum's pride and joy is the Woman of Willendorf, a little carved statue from the paleolithic era of some importance... and even though I studied it in college I couldn't tell you what that importance actually is... There's also the gorgeous Nautilus Cafe set in the middle of the museum surrounded by some pretty intense architecture. They offer pastries, loads of Japanese ice tea and a pretty kick ass Goulash
Naturhistorisches Museum
Burgring 7
A- 1010 Wien

I can't imagine a more impressive library than the Nationalbibliothek. It's straight out of a Disney movie. You expect the statues and globes to start dancing and singing at any moment. But I have to say that the woman selling tickets definitely gave us the evil eye when we flashed our US college ID's for the slight discount... mean old bat...

The Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
1, Josefplatz 1
A - 1060 Wien

So I don't really like chocolate cake. Yes i know- please don't hate me. But it's usually too rich, too dry or too gooey or just plain headache inducingly sweet. But the famous sachertorte from the Sacher Hotel is just about perfect. Based on a secret recipe developed in 1832, the sachertorte is a moist chocolate cake with an apricot glaze topped with a crispy melt in your mouth chocolate ganache. This 36 step cake should be enjoyed with a simple hot chocolate.
The Sacher Hotel
Philharmonikerstraße 4,
A-1010 Wien

The Morning training session of the Lipizzaner horses at the Spanish riding school was adorable. And i don't meant to sound condescending, but I don't get to see horses everyday and these ones were so full of character. Apparently they're born black and then turn white with age which makes for really cute fowls and, as Kris informed me, provides a wonderful metaphor for this inspiring dialogue from the movie "Crimson Tide":

Capt. Ramsey: Speaking of horses did you ever see those Lipizzaner stallions.

Hunter: What?

Capt. Ramsey: From Portugal. The Lipizzaner stallions. The most highly trained horses in the world. They're all white?

Hunter: Yes, sir.

Capt. Ramsey: "Yes, sir" you're aware they're all white or "Yes, sir" you've seen them?

Hunter: Yes, sir I've seen them. Yes, sir I was aware that they're are all white. They are not from Portugal; they're from Spain and at birth, they're not white; they're black. Sir.

The Spanish Riding School
1, Michaelerplatz, 1
A- 1010 Wien

On the next edition of the Flying Quiche in Wien: The Third Man, a cry in the night and walking through graves .... stay tuned!

But first- a completely illegal video from inside- so cute!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"Scohnes" or "Scawnes"- The debate rages in my UK/US office

This recipe came about because my friend Jeremy became obsessed with baking about mid-way through college. He bought pounds and pounds of cookbook on the topic and put himself through a baking boot camp. He made a 3 tiered coconut cake with raspberry coulis, filipino peperoni bread, Chocolate and Ming cupcakes and scones by the score. Now he happens to be a chocolate scone man, and I am a cranberry kind of gal, so there's no stepping on anyone's toes with my cran oat scone recipe- altough come to think of it, a White Chocolate and Cranberry Scone might just be perfect!

Cran Oat Scones

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 cup of oats
  • 6 tblsp of sugar
  • 3/4 tsp of baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp of salt (I use coarse salt- I love those salty hints with the sweet cranberries!)
  • 10 tblsp of unsalted butter (cold)
  • 1/2 cup of cranberries
  • 3/4 cup of buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 350 degree F
Combine the flour, oats, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Add the cold butter in seperate one tablespoon clumps and use a baker's mixer to work it into the dough. Don't freak out like I did and think that you need to actually buy another hi-tech appliance. You can just use a fork- you just want to break up the butter into little clumps that are about even in the dough. *see picture* Now be warned that your wrists are gonna hurt and if you're using someone's else cheap silverware, like myself, the fork will bend backwards.

Once it's evenly combined add the cranberries and then the buttermilk. With a wooden spoon, mix the dough until you form a ball. Now you want to form the dough into a disc that's about 1/2-1 inch thick without handling the dough too much.

Cut the disc into about 8 slices, so that you'll have something that looks like pizza. Put the slices onto a cookie sheet with plenty of space in between as they will puff up. Now if you think you've handled the dought too much, you have the option of popping your cookie sheet into the fridge or freezer to chill the butter. Jeremy told me that the reason we want cold butter is because it makes the pastry flaky- something to do with molecules of melted vs. cold butter.... i don't question, I just accept.

Your scones should bake for about 22 minutes or until golden brown! And I highly recommend eating them warm with a dab of cream cheese.

Monday, February 18, 2008

It must be official now

Although this blog has been up and running for a couple weeks, I had not yet found the perfect title for it and so I sent out a cry for help from my dearest and closest. I gave them a list of potential candidates and asked for their opinions. Here is what they had to choose from:

From my mother we had these suggestions (and I have to say that was very impressed with her creativity):
1. Notes from a hungry belly
2. Diary of Hungry Traveler
3. Traveling Feast
4. A Travelers Compendium of Food and Thought
5. How I invented the Spork and Other Tales
6. Butter, Butter, Passport
7. The Flying Pan
8. The Flying Fork
9. Passport to Food
10. Eat and Run

I started with these:
11. The Flying Kitchen
12. The Wandering Kitchen
13. Always Somewhere in Between
14. Claire's Kitschy Kitchen
15. Kitsch Quiche (stemming from my naive confusion of the terms as a13 year old..)

And my father emailed me these this morning (who knew he was even remotely creative?? I mean, he READ my email, THOUGHT about it and RESPONDED! Short of a miracle, really):
16. bits and bites
17. honey and spice
18. might as well spread it on your butt (love!! but id be getting the wrong kind of readers..)
19. social gourmet

I actually had a lot of poeple telling me that they had chosen "the Wandering Kitchen" before knowing that's what the blog was already called! Which made it harder to make the official change, but I found out that there's already a "Wandering Kitchen" blog elsewhere and it's just a tad too thoughtful and serious for my taste. Anna was a big fan of "How I invented the Spork and Other Tales" but I just know that I can't actually provide a compelling enough story to claim the title and I didnt want to be a poser.. . My dad's late entry of "Bits and Bites" was very high on the list, but I've finally settled on; the only title Kris officially came up with by just splicing titles together:
The Flying Quiche

It reminds me a bit of the Monty Python's Flying Circus which I absolutely love, plus it's food and travel related, without sounding explicitly like either. Anyway- I just thought you would appreciate seeing all the options. They were definitely very entertaining and I'm really grateful for all the help! So thanks!

PS: The man has emailed me some more! He must be bored and lonely ;)
20. Pots & pals
21. tads & tell
22. Tastes'buds (mom's)
23. Pans & tales

Friday, February 15, 2008


It's theology meet technology, devotion meets commotion, it's Jesus meets JUSTICE!!! Last night the boytoy and I went to see Justice who might as well be Daft Punk jr. with a bit more of an edge. Who says digital distortion doesn't rock?? From the pictures, you might think that we were attending a satanic cult gathering:

But I assure you that the cross's only purpose is to look cool. And believe me; it works. Most people in the crowd were wearing necklaces with clear plastic crosses lit with either a green, red or blue LED light. Seriously effective cool tools. I really wanted one. But honestly, what does one do with a light up cross after Justice?

One of the highlights of night was the dancing fool next to us that we affectionatly named Lars. Lars spent the entire 35 minutes he spent at the concert dancing uncontrolably with his back to the band. He did that sort of dance that might suggest he's a "douchebag" or a "tool"; pointing at girls in the crowd and then trying to seduce them with his moves, humping the air or even moshing with himself. Maybe I should mention that we were in the balcony, where there is a bar, with chairs and tables. Lars' pants were so tight that he was constantly sporting a plumber's buttcrack (which we tragically failed to capture on film).

Lars: Eastern European Dance Master

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I'll take the Salmonella, please!

Is there anything weirder than a pumpkin pie for Valentine's Day? I assure you this was in no way intentional but rather incidental. Alright so maybe it's a little overdue in February, but last night I finally decided to make the pumpkin pie I had promised to make my office back during Thanksgiving. Despite several pies being consumed by myself and the significant other, none of them ever made it past the front door. I don't even make any sort of "special" version of pumpkin pie- I just follow the directions on that tin can. You heard me! I don't even get pumpkin chunks! For Thanksgiving, my cousin (who is french, mind you) bought a pumpkin pie from a very swanky bakery but even with it's swanky recipe and slightly darker color, it couldn't surpass my beloved tinned pie. But honestly, what can be done to a pumpkin pie to make it better than it already is when made from a tin? I didn't even have the required ground ginger and ground cloves for the one I made last night and I was still on the verge of drinking the filling like a milkshake.

Despite all the pumpkin pie lovin' going on last night, I managed to burn it. Because that's what happens when Gordon Ramsay finally goes to the US and cusses out a French chef for being too arrogant.*see last night's episode of Kitchen Nightmares* And what's worse is that it's on the edge of edible! I'm sure it tastes fine but it simply looks diseased. I had half a mind of just swirling the top full of whipped cream but I can't be serving poisonous pie to my office even if i'll gladly eat raw eggs.

Doesn't it look like it's suffering from the Bubonic Plague?

A sad day for all really. The BF did have some sage words about the matter:

"Alton Brown says that you're not a real chef until you have to throw out an entire meal"

Then this pie is going in the dustbin and I can move on knowing I'm one step closer to being legit- or maybe I'll bring it to Kensington Gardens and feed it to the squirrels.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Comforting Ristto in a Bitter World

Mr Plant: can I speak to your painting department?
Me: Well, sir, we have several painting departments- do you know which period or artist?
Mr Plant: well lets say continental
Me: and the period?
Mr Plant: maybe 18th or 19th century?
Me: right- do you know the artist, sir?
Mr Plant: no- that's why I want to talk to a specialist
Me: Ok not a problem- well if you don't know the name of the artist then they'll probably ask you to send in ima-
Mr Plant: *full of tone and attitude* and you're the receptionist aren't you?
Me: *trying not to sound like I want reach through the phone and punch him square in the face* No, Sir. I'm a client service representative
Mr Plant: well make this client happy and put him through to the department im asking for.
Me: *big soundless intake of air* absolutely- if I can just take your name?

Goodbye Mr Plant. You've just been thrown into the void that is the low value British and Continental paintings department where they don't answer the phone and have no specialist to speak to you- ever.

I hope I didn't scare you off with that interchange, part of my "typical daily dialogue". I'm not a bitter person am I? No, I don't think so. Just a couple deep breaths to calm my shaking hand. I would give you the recipe for the Roasted Sea Brean I had on Friday night (our first foray into cooking fish- like the real thing with eyes and teeth) but since I wasn't completely blown over by it, I'll leave you with a picture instead and my risotto recipe which I finally tweaked to perfection!

He looks a bit like a zombie fish, non?

Classic Risotto

My mother went on a 3 month risotto obsession when I was about 12 years old. We were having all sorts of risotto about 4 times a week, but this classic one is still my all time fav.

  • 2 Tbl butter
  • 1 Large yellow onion
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1. 5 cups of Arborio or Risotto Rice
  • 6 cups of chicken broth
  • 1.5 cups of white wine (whatever is lying around)
  • 1 cup of parmesan

In a large saucepan melt the butter and add in the chopped onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is translucent- about 5 minutes. In another saucepan mix the chicken broth and white wine and bring to a slow simmer. Add the arborio rice to the onions and garlic and stir to combine for about 3 minutes until you know the rice is infused with that wonderful flavour . Add a cup of the liquid and stir. Now you basically get to stand at the pot stirring, which when I first started was my absolute (and still sorta is) my favorite part of cooking. Once the liquid has been absorbed, add another cup and just keep stirring! Keep adding the liquid until your rice is tender and then add the parmesan.

To serve the risotto always remember to serve from the outside of the dish towards the center so that the middle will stay warm and gooey.

PS: My mother wanted me to add that if you add your liquid too quickly you'll end up with what she calls "Restaurant Risotto" which is hard on the outside but mushy on the inside. AKA: Kinda gross.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

My 7am Tuna Fish Sandwiches

What a way to start the day! I don't like fish really. I would say I dont like anything from the sea but that's only partially true- I've been forced into eating shrimp and lobster ("Eat it Claire, it's exspensive!!") for so long that i didn't have a choice in developing a taste for it. My mother has made tuna fish sandwiches for herself and herself alone for as long as I can remember. As a kid I was very grateful that she never forced me into eating the things but now that I am older and wiser I suspect that she just didn't want to share it. I was finally introduced to the wonders of this tuna fish sandwich one lazy summer day when my mom had made a batch and I was so lazy and hungry that I needed immediate satisfaction regardless of content. Although I wasn't completely blown over by my mom's elusive sandwich at the time I did keep having it now and again when I was hungry and noticed a tupreware full of tuna fish salad hidden in the back of the fridge. Then one day I realized that I was actually craving said sandwich. The time had come to incorporate The Tuna Fish Sandwich into my life.

Now that my office no longer has a canteen and I must rely on myself for midday sustenance, I figured I should revive the good old tuna fish sandwich. A quick email to my mother informed me that there was no recipe involved- just ingredients. And so I give you:

The Pescaterian's* Tuna Fish Sandwich

For the filling

  • 1 can of Tuna (haven't quite decided on water or brine... any thoughts?)
  • Mayonaise (maybe 2 tbl)
  • Lots of dill
  • Diced pickles
  • Garlic powder

Must have the proper bread and fixin's!

  • Pain au Lait (or brioche- oh so good with the salty filling!!)
  • Crispy lettuce
  • Babybel

Simply mix all the ingrdients in a tuperware bowl. To assemble the sandwich toast the brioche, melt some Babybel cheese on top, add a layer of the tuna fish filling and finish with lots of lettuce and a frilly toothpick.

*The Pescatarian being my mother

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

My fingers still smell like the 4 cloves of garlic I minced for dinner last night. Although I love garlic I'm not sure that it goes well with my morning cup of PG tips.

Friday, February 1, 2008


Hot Sausage Dip
Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Thingies

Breakfast/ Brunch
Poached Eggs on Brioche
Cranberry Oat Scones
Hyped up Coffee cupcakes
Apricot Tea Cakes
Egg in the Hole
Breakfast Burritos or Not
Bananas Foster Bread
Pumpkin Butter Stuffed French Toast

Sesame Pasta Chicken Salad
My Favorite Salad EVER
Curried Chicken Salad

Butternut Squash Risotto with Stilton
Classic Risotto
Stinking Bishop Cheese and Pear Tart
Egyptian Lentil Soup
Winter Root Soup with Sage and Chestnuts
Pioneer Woman's Cauliflower Soup
Tortilla Soup
Rolled Omelet

Pho Soup
Lasagne Verdi al Forno
The Roadhouse Burger
Beouf Bourguignon
Puff Pastry (for Beouf Bourguignon)

Mojimbo Chicken
Sundried Tomato and Broccoli Chicken Pizza
British BBQ Chicken Pizza
Tag's Chicken Noodle Casserole
Chicken & Dumplings

Croque Monsieur
Ham in Coke with Cabbage

The Pescatarian's Tuna Fish Sandwich

The Proper Chip/ Steak Fries
Potato & Turnip Gratin

Peanut Butter & Jelly Thumbprints
Anna's Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Cracker Things (The Spawn of Satan)

Flourless Chocolate Cake
Bakewell Tart
Rhubarb Tart with Lemon-Yogurt Mousse
Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry (cake)
Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting

Filbert Gateau
L'Opera Cake
Perfect Party Cake
Triple Strawberry Cheesecake
Clafoutis aux Cerises
Yellow Butter Cupcakes with Buttercream
Lime Chiffon Cupcakes

Ice Cream
Chocolate Banana Ice Cream
Toasted Almond and Candied Cherry Ice Cream
Fresh Mint Ice Cream with Chocolate Swirl
Blackberry, Lavender & Goat's Milk Ice Cream

Other Sweets
Mixed Berry Pavlova
Danish Braid
Cheesecake Pops
Raspberry Souffle with White Chocolate Whipped Cream
Beetroot Brownies
Peach Jam
Pistachio Brittle
Sweet Potato Doughnuts
Caramel Apple Sticky Buns