Basic Pizza Sauce

This came together as the amalgamation of at least 6 different pizza sauce recipes. Skip the pepper flakes if you prefer it mild. When cooking, I like to leave the sauce slightly thinner than optimal. We make pan pizza at home, so the thick crust needs a longer bake than the toppings. We bake the crust for 10 minutes with sauce only, then 10 more minutes with cheese and toppings. The first bake allows the sauce to evaporate extra liquid.

1 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz/400g can whole stewed tomatoes
1/2 t dried oregano
1 t dried basil
large pinch salt
large pinch sugar
1/2 t whole fennel seeds
large pinch dried red pepper flakes (optional)
1 small onion, peeled and halved

Heat a small saucepan to medium and add butter and oil, cooking until milk solids just start to brown. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes or until very fragrant. Add tomatoes and juices to the pan. If you like your tomatoes chunky, add them to the pot whole and break them up with a spatula; for smoother sauce, run them through a food processor first. Stir in all of the rest of the ingredients plus a half-can of water, bring sauce to a simmer and cook on medium-low for one hour or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove onion, taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Homemade Hamburger Buns

You can find American-style hamburger buns in Germany in many or maybe even all supermarkets, if you’re willing to buy into the kooky red-white-and-blue motifs. Those products, in our experience, are generally not bad. They’re usually not quite as soft as you’d expect a hamburger bun in the USA to be, and they’ll do just fine.

But they don’t have to. I found this recipe online yesterday for homemade hamburger buns and tried it out. It was a great success! Continue reading Homemade Hamburger Buns

Homemade Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

The strawberries have been calling to us. Yesterday at the Donaumarkt we heeded their summons. We picked up a kilo (2 × 500 g Schalen, which I guess are about a pint each).

It’s been so dang hot around here lately that we only wanted to do something cool with them. Having had such great results with homemade chocolate ice cream and a few other varieties so far, we tried our luck with homemade strawberry frozen yogurt. Big benefit here: it all happens at room temperature or cooler. Not an ice cream = no custard = no cooking! (And it was the logical next step after loving David Lebovitz’ chocolate and vanilla varieties). Continue reading Homemade Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Garlic & Paprika Sausage

The sausages I made are the four in the middle of the grill.

Nearly a wholesale lift from this recipe, my version contains about half the ground black pepper compared to the original. Love that site for inspiration! Even with 25% extra pork fat added into the mix, these dry out quickly if you let them go too long on the grill. Continue reading Garlic & Paprika Sausage

Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream

Yield: slightly less than one 1 quart

Adapted from: David Lebovitz’s Chocolate Ice Cream

Result: Excellent!

This is a milk chocolate flavor. I love that there’s no “don’t let it boil” admonishment and no eggs involved (which you have to cook, but not cook into scrambled eggs while shooting for custard). Go for a nice 50%-70% cocoa content in the chocolate bar. It doesn’t have to be richer than that.

We did the variation that David Lebovitz mentions on his site (resulting from a typo in the book, originally) and are sticking with that because of the extra smooth and dense texture, and a more intense chocolate flavor (owing to the reduced sugar) — more like a chocolate gelato than homemade chocolate ice cream.

Extra trickiness for European kitchens: you need ice (yeah, frozen water) around to make an ice bath near the end of the batter preparation. I’m not sure what other methods you could use to lower your batter temperature while keeping it pourable, but if you have some ideas, please share them in the comments! Before we got our stand-up chest freezer, we never had room in our two midget fridges to keep ice cubes around at the ready. But now we do.


1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
4 teaspoons corn starch
1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream — we used whipping cream (Schlagsahne)
1 cup (250 ml) evaporated milk
1/2 cup (100 gr) sugar
2 tablespoons (60 gr) light corn syrup
1/3 cup (35 gr) unsweetened cocoa powder, natural or Dutch-process
3 ounces (85 gr) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2/3 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Make a slurry by mixing a few tablespoons of the milk with the corn starch in a small bowl, until smooth.
  2. In a 4-quart (4l) saucepan, heat the rest of the milk, cream, evaporated milk, sugar, and corn syrup. When the mixture comes to a moderate boil, whisk in the cocoa powder, then let it cook at a modest boil for 4 minutes.
  3. After four minutes, whisk in the corn starch slurry then continue to cook for one minute, stirring constantly with a spatula, until slightly thickened.
  4. Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate and salt, stirring until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the vanilla.
  5. Make an ice bath: Find a smaller metal bowl that will fit into a larger metal bowl. Add ice, along with some cold water, to the larger bowl then set the smaller bowl into the ice. Pour the ice cream mixture into the smaller bowl and stir until completely cool.

    The original recipe suggests pouring the batter into a zip-top bag and then submerging the bag in an ice bath for 30 minutes, and we tried this, but it was a PITA to get the batter out of the bag and into the ice cream dasher. And you waste a zip-top plastic bag in the process (either because you cut the corner to squeeze it out, like a pastry bag, or because it’s impossible to get all the batter out of the bag for any possible reuse).

    Next time, we’ll use the alternative method with the two metal bowls he mentions (above).

  6. Pour the now-cooled batter into the canister of an ice cream maker, then freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a shallow container. This is a good time to sprinkle stuff on top. We used chocolate shavings, but I think we’ll go with slivered almonds next time for a contrasting flavor. Freeze it for a few hours. Portions will be necessarily small (we’re talking about less than a quart here), but that’s OK given the richness.


I don’t think I’ll ever buy mayonnaise again. The original recipe came from Mark Bittmann’s nifty How to Cook Everything app on my iPod touch, and it pretty much convinced me of that. It’s really easy to modify this recipe to get exotic — lots of ideas in the app for that, too.

It’s not a wholesale cut-n-paste of his recipe; we’ve found that we need lots less oil than he calls for. Here’s our base recipe; look for variations in the comments.

1 egg yolk
2 tsp mustard (honey mustard is nice for a little sweetness)
100 ml neutral oil (extra virgin olive oil would be OK too)
Salt / pepper to taste
1 tbsp acid, like sherry vinegar, white wine vinegar, or lemon juice

Sarah picked up a tall cylindrical melamine beaker/pitcher thing with rubberized feet at a nearby department store for a few Euro, and it’s perfect for making mayo with our stick blender’s whisk attachment. You can use a normal-shaped bowl too (we’ve done it, it works), but this beakery pitcher thing seems to make the process more efficient.

Combine the yolk and mustard with the whisk. Slowly drizzle in the oil in a thin stream until it thickens while you’re whipping, and it’s done when the the stuff looks like mayonnaise. Then thoroughly combine in the flavors and acids, and you’re done.

We like that this recipe makes about a cup of final product; perfect for the two of us with left-over chicken/turkey/whatever to turn into a couple days’ worth of sandwiches.

On curds and whey

Here’s the version I remember from my childhood:

Little Miss Muffett
sat on her tuffet,
eating her cottage cheese.
Along came a spider
who sat down beside her
and asked “Can I have some please?”

(I knew what cottage cheese was pretty early on…curds and whey were a much more recent learning experience.)

In that spirit of sharing, my parents got us a home cheesemaking kit for Christmas from I guess we must have been bemoaning the lack of France in our lives lately (we haven’t been to Provence since…*gasp*…summer 2009!). The kit came with a recipe book and some essential ingredients for ricotta and mozzarella and a thermometer and an instructional DVD to whet your appetite. It worked. Soon after unwrapping the present, we started stockpiling milk. Note: supermarket milk is just fine for these recipes, as long as it’s not ultra-pasteurized (H-Milch ist verboten).


We started off with (what seemed to us to be) the simpler of the two varieties our kit supported: ricotta. Taken literally, you’re supposed to make ricotta from the left-overs of other cheesemaking exploits (ricotta means “recooked” in Italian). But you can also start with milk, provided you have a stainless steel pan and a skimmer (not hard to find) and about an hour to kill experimenting with hot milk. The kit says these recipes take half an hour, and maybe they will, once we’ve practiced this more.

First curds 3 Our ricotta curds are just starting to come together.

Ready to drain 2A little firmer now.

The ricotta was a good beginner cheese to make. I really have never liked it straight, and usually just tolerate it in lasagna, but this batch tasted good to me — probably appreciation borne out of our emotional investment in this cheese. And the lasagna it went into (including our homemade Hot Italian Sausage) was top notch. Sadly, no evidence remains of it whatsoever.

PC281381I love English Muffins. I practically wept for joy when I saw that one of the recommended uses of leftover whey from the ricotta recipe was making loaves of English Muffin bread. We had enough whey leftover for four loaves. I tried to cram all that into our three loaf pans and wound up with a comb-over on one of them. Oops. Still tasted good though.

After our ricotta success story, we watched the mozzarella segment on the video a couple more times, went over the recipe in the book, and practically memorized the recipe from the included booklet, only to find that all three recipes differ from each other somewhat. Well, OK. I guess artisanal cheesemaking means you have to experiment and fine-tune your own methods over time. Which is great, because I am looking forward to doing this again and again, and there are enough supplies in our kit to keep us going for quite some time.


P1021400One of the first steps is making sure you’ve got enough curd density after separation from the whey. You can see Sarah’s able to press into the soft cushiony curds and make them start to flip away from the side of the pot. It took us a little longer to get to this stage than we expected; something like eleven minutes instead of just five.

P1021403Once you get there, though, you’ve got to slice up those thickened curds in three dimensions.

P1021404Reminds me of ice along the shore of Lake Ontario. After you’ve cut your curds on three axes, they go back on the heat for a few minutes to allow more cheesey magic to happen.

P1021406Then drain out as much whey as you can without damaging those curd structures. I’m keeping our whey intending to use it in pizza dough sometime very soon. Then we’ll take this mozzarella out for a test drive, too.

P1021407Nuke it for a minute, season with some salt, and get stretching.

P1021409Re-nuke a few more times. When it stretches like taffy without breaking, it’s ready. Quickly form it into a ball, braid, log, or little bite-sized lumps while it’s still too hot to properly handle. It’s ready to eat now, so why not enjoy?

P1021412If you’re not going to consume it warm, dunk it in ice water for a while (how long? one recipe said a few minutes, and another said thirty — and these were all from the same company!) to preserve the texture. OK, we’re going to have to work on our mozza-balling.

P1031414We gave the whey bread a few more chances today. This is what the English Muffin bread is supposed to look like.

P1031415Whey also makes for a swell pizza crust. It was smooth and elastic and very easy to work with, once you’ve kneaded enough flour into it (thank you KitchenAid dough hook!). I’m excited to use it in other places (soups and broths come to mind), since there’s so much of it left over from a batch of cheese.

P1031416Aww, yeah. This kicked European Pizza butt. The better part of a gallon of milk is represented here between the homemade mozz (about half of our mozz batch is on the pizza) and whey in the dough. Plus Sarah’s pizza sauce. Some homemade Hot Italian Sausage would have been great here, but I’d just made some the other day to go into the lasagna mentioned above, so we opted for a simple salami. I’m hoping the next experimental kitchen adventures will involve sausage stuffing and I don’t want to blow my Wurst wad.