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St. Lucia Saffron Buns - Lussekatter
Ho ho ho and getting into that Christmas vibe here! Every weekend I have been taking out a few select favourite decoration pieces, adorning the various corners of the house.. Every year, I buy new pieces and mix them up with some of my very cherished older ornaments. ⁠ In the kitchen, I have to admit we have been baking and cooking up a storm almost every weekend. Do you already feel the clothes tightening around the waist?⁠ With the gyms closed my motivation to get upstairs to our workout space has been rather low, instead, I find myself heading into the kitchen to experiment and try some classic recipe. Beef bourguignon, Stroganoff, Osso Bucco - we are spending weekends in the kitchen tackling these classic, long-cooking recipes. It's quite a bit of fun as I have dug up my old handwritten cooking journal where I wrote these recipes down several years ago during my kitchen training at hotel management school. These Scandinavian saffron buns called St. Lucia buns or "Lussekatter" are one of those Christmas time classics that I have really come to love. I think it is the wonderful addition of saffron, which not only gives this sweet yeasty dough their vibrant colour but also makes it beautifully sublime. ⁠St. Lucia Day, falls on 13 December and is celebrated throughout Scandinavia. They symbolize the light of Christianity throughout the darkness of the world. These saffron buns are a Scandinavian custom that has become a permanent baked-good tradition during the holiday season and leads up to Christmas.⁠ I have often wondered how saffron came to be a part of this recipe. A thought behind the addition of saffron is that apprently is was to symbolize the sun and the light. They are shaped in various forms, but the traditional spiral “S” shape is an ancient symbol for the sun and life. It is tradition today to also adorn each one with a raisin or two. Recipe: St. Lucia Saffron Buns - Lussekatter Print Recipe By Meeta K. Wolff Prep Time: 1 hours 20 min Total Time: 1 hour 40 min Makes: 15 pieces Ingredients 150 g butter 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon milk 50 g fresh yeast ¼ teaspoon saffron threads, gently crushed 150 g granulated sugar 1 teaspoon salt 2 large eggs 900 g all-purpose flour, plus more if needed Raisins, for decoration 1 egg, for egg wash Method In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the milk, yeast and saffron and remove from the heat. Add in the sugar and combine. Whisk in the 2 eggs and pour the mixture into a large bowl. Add in the flour and salt, and mix to form a sticky dough. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5-10 minutes. Cover with a tea towel and let it rest for 45 minutes, or until doubled in size. Divide the dough into 14 or so equal portions. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll out into a strand, roll up one end into the middle, and roll the other end into the opposite side, forming an S-shape (see photos for inspiration). You can also shape them as desired. Place the buns on two large parchment-lined baking trays. Let the buns rest, covered with a tea towel, for another 15-20 minutes, until doubled. Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C. Decorate the buns with raisins. In a small bowl, whisk the egg for the egg wash and, using a soft-bristled brush, lightly brush the egg on top of the dough. Bake the buns, one tray at a time, for 10-12 minutes, until golden. Notes You’ll want to eat these buns on the day while they are still fresh or possibly the day after. Use any leftovers that have gone stale to make a bread pudding. All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2020 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Saffron and Pear Crown Cake
Did you know that the ancient Egyptians can be credited with creating the celebration of birthdays? They believed that when their pharaohs were crowned, they became gods, so their coronation signified their new "birth" as a God. Later it was the Ancient Greeks who borrowed this tradition, but very rightfully thought that a dessert would make the celebration all the more meaningful. The Greeks baked moon-shaped cakes to offer Artemis, the goddess of the moon, as tribute. They decorated the cakes with candles to make the cakes shine like the moon. I for one am so glad that over the centuries we have kept this tradition alive. Birthdays for me have  always been a special treat - a way not only to commemorate a special occasion but also to have a good reason to indulge in all the cake one can eat. My big celebrations are actually for this space of mine. My blog - a place that I have always called an “extension to my home” and from the first day I started posting here I have always stayed true to this idea. Thirteen years ago on a late February afternoon, I decided to publish “What’s for lunch, Honey?” for the whole world wide web. I did not have a clue of what I was doing and what I was getting myself into - I just went with my gut and dived into the deep end. That has actually always been my way of doing things. My mum always likes to tell the story of how I learnt to swim. I was just a little over a year and my dad was refurbishing a hotel in Cairo at the time. We lived in the hotel and one day at the pool I was apparently kicking up a fuss as I did not want to put on the swimming floats I had been told to wear. For a second my mum turned away and I took the opportunity to run to the edge of the pool and just dived - literally into the deep end ... and I paddled my little heart out, but learnt how to swim that day ... without the floats. While my swimming story had a good outcome, there have been times that the “diving into the deep end” has not always been to my advantage and there have been times that I felt like I was drowning - but regardless of the outcome I always came out of the situation wiser and having learnt a new lesson.   With my blog, I have done nothing but ride a fantastic wave of highs over the past thirteen years. Back in 2006, we were literally a handful of food bloggers. On the fateful day I hit “publish” I did not even know what a food blogger was, in all my naivety I was under the impression that “What’s for lunch, Honey?” would be read mostly by my family and friends, where we could have a common platform to discuss recipes and food trends. I did not pay an ounce of attention to my pictures or the quality of the visuals I was putting up. If you go back to a few of the posts from that year you will cringe at them - but I still hope you will come back to this post with a smile on your face. Because you see I do! There is a reason I have left those images there - they remind me of my journey I have taken, the winding path I have walked, the massive steps forward I have taken, all the many things I have discovered and mastered and all the incredible doors this blog has opened for me. I smile because I have met some incredible people through the blog and who I now feel very lucky to call friends. I smile because - as ridiculous as it may sound - through this blog, I discovered my real passion in life and my calling. At some point, I did come to the realization that visuals do matter and the eyes eat before our stomachs so I invested in a DSLR camera, a good lens and began discovering everything I could about food photography. Luckily, this blog introduced me to the handful of food bloggers that were active back then and our platform was Flickr. I took pictures and posted them on the various photography groups, inhaling all the feedback. I would then go back and apply the new details to my next set of images. I read all I could find but mostly - true to my nature - I just dived into it and practised, disciplining myself to grasp all the aspects of food photography. What started as a platform to write, develop and exchange recipes took a turn into the world of photography, particularly food photography. I was - and still am - happiest when I am behind the camera. I found myself developing and creating new recipes just so I could photograph and portray them for my camera. At some point “What’s for lunch, Honey?” began getting a wider attention and the accolades began to pour in. My blog and I were often featured in renowned magazines and websites all over the world - but what still to this day makes proud as a peacock is the fact What’s for lunch, Honey? is one of 50 best food blogs in the world as determined by The Times UK. I was not swimming anymore - I was flying high! I still smile at this. Even though there was a lot of success I really made sure to keep my feet firmly planted to the ground - my grandmother always used to say that high flights of haughtiness always ends with a low exit of scorn. I remember hearing this all my life and reminded myself to enjoy the feeling of flying, but staying humble and keeping my dignity would get me further. I never was the one to settle on my laurels as my inquisitive and curious nature automatically pushes me to discover more and keep moving on my path. I have shared so many stories, ideas, thoughts and information on this blog - my mind gets dizzy at all the words I have bubbled, churned and served on here. I enjoyed the writing - this was the space where I came to sort my thoughts or tell you all a story I was reminded of from my teenage years or childhood. It allowed me to connect with you and get your feedback. I loved being here and it truly fulfilled my idea of inviting friends over to my extended home to share food, photos and conversation together. Through the steps, I have taken with What’s for lunch, Honey? I was able to walk through some spectacular doors that the blog opened for me. I took on the role of the instructor and now teach food photography to some wonderfully talented people in bespoke workshops all over the world. I now work as a food photographer and stylist for several clients and magazines. And when I am not working I am still taking pictures, diving into the deep end to learn something new and keep pushing myself further. The world of food blogging has changed so much in thirteen years. While I truly enjoy discovering all these new blogs, I am not an advocate at how things have developed. The stress and pressure it causes on many of my younger fellow bloggers do not add up in my book of doing what you love - blogging burn-out is a real thing now! I have not been around here as often as I would have liked to in the past year. 2018 was personally a hard year as I lost two very close people in my life. Although I had so many words I wanted to spill out and get out of my system every time I sat down to write a post - I felt overwhelmed. I needed the time. I feel like coming back to my extended home again and hope I can find a better routine to share my stories more regularly with you all. For today, I am happy to have you all here again with me. I have cake for you - a sublime cake that fits the purpose of a humble yet extravagant (if you can imagine such a thing) celebration! My grandmother always said that saffron was the queen of all things glorious and divine, sharing it with friends and family shows how special they are. I listen to my grandmother and made a cake that incorporates the humble pear with the grandiose saffron. It is a simple and easy bundt cake but light and moist so that indulging in two slices will be easy. I also use an extravagant bundt form fittingly called the “crown” - after all my blog celebrates a special occasion - today I dress it up in a crown to thank it for all it has given me. Recipe: Saffron and Pear Crown CakePrint Recipe By Meeta K. Wolff Prep Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 60 minutes Serves 10 Ingredients30 g breadcrumbs 50 g butter, melted 100g whole milk ½ teaspoon saffron - plus more for serving 3 small pears, peeled, cored and cut into bitesize pieces a squeeze of lemon juice 325 g granulated sugar 4 eggs 300 g all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon vanilla paste pinch of salt 50 g Greek yogurt - plus more for serving icing sugar for dusting MethodPreheat the oven to 180 degrees C and position a rack in the middle. Brush a 25 cm bundt pan with some of the melted butter then generously sprinkle the oan with the breadcrumbs, tipping out any excess Add the melted butter to the milk and sprinkle the saffron into the mixture. Stir to combine and allow to infuse. Set aside. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to the pears to avoid them getting brown - set aside. In a mixing bowl of a standmixer and using the ballom whisk, beat the sugar and eggs until thick, light and fluffy. Mix the remaining dry ingredients together and sift into the egg mixture. Fold the mixture with a spatula until incorporated. Add the Greek yougurt and saffron-milk and fold gently until completely combined. Pour the batter into the buttered bundt pan. Add the pieces of pear. Bake the cake for approx. 30 to 35 minutes in the oven or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool in the pan, then turn out onto a serving dish or étagère. Dust with icing sugar and serve the slices with a mix of extra Greek yogurt and saffron. Verdict Thirteen years is a long time - moreover those are a lot of posts. There is always something homey about the aromas of a freshly baked cake - but the perfume that fills the house with this cake is rather sublime. Make sure you do get really good quality saffron - I am a bit partial to the Persian ones - I find they have a slightly sweeter fragrance and it adds a beautiful color to the dishes it is used in. Together with the juicy pears this truly makes a brilliant way to celebrate any birthday! You might like these birthday cake ideas from What’s for lunch, Honey?: CHOCOLATE OVOMALTINE DAIM CAKE APRICOT SAFFRON CAKE CHOCOLATE ORANGE CAKE WITH SALTED CARAMEL GANACHE All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2019 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Poppy Seed & Chai Mini Cakes with a Chai Cream Glaze
There obviously is no topic that is hotter and en vogue in the first month of the year than “health, fitness and weight loss!” Year for year we list our goals and, year for year these topics always make the top 5 list of New Year’s Resolutions. Over the turn of the year my WhatsApp and Telegram messages were brimming with all the tips and to dos my friends were planning as soon as January came along. The gym I go to has been uncommonly full this month with people, sweating and pushing a few extra weights, determined to stick to those earnest goals they set. Every blog and food website I have visited this month also has some awesome recipe list on “detox”, “clean” food and how we can eat better through the year. I guess that is why I waited patiently to post my first recipe of 2019. . At the very latest by the end of January our bodies are swinging against us and every tiny pore is craving something more than kale and co.. “Dry January” or “Veganuary” were some of the concepts my friends were partaking in and I was having trouble to relate to throughout the month. January has got to be the dullest month anyway without having the added pressure of trying to become super, better and fitter humans overnight. Please do not get me wrong! I am a very strong believer of eating well and nourishing our bodies properly. My belief is that we have to develop a more intricate relationship with our bodies, minds, souls and hearts and enrich, tend and cultivate a healthier connection with ourselves. When we nourish ourselves, we need to pay attention to what we feed our minds, our souls, our bodies and our lives. It is important for me because these factors always play a decisive role to help me create a nourishing environment conducive to my growth and well-being. And I have never really been very good at depriving myself of the things that have positive effects on my well-being. The balance of whatever we do in life makes it a happier and healthier way to live. That has always been my goal in life. I never walk away from things that make me happy. I have my days of binge burgers and chocolate, but balance it out with a regular weekly healthy mix of fitness and nourishing meals. I have my phases of toxic emotional stress but I find my equilibrium by inviting friends who nourish my heart with their beautiful vibes. I have those evenings where my brain just needs to feed on trashy soaps and movies but I counterbalance by fuelling the brain with a phenomenal ballet.  And let’s be honest having a comfortable vice to fall back on just makes a dull and depressing month like January easier to master.  So, here we go – I am here to put a smile on your sugar-shunned faces with something a little sweeter and tastier than the sugar-free, meat-free, carb-free, fat-free, nut-free and fun-free food you have been eating for the past few weeks. These little cakes are truly the most refined and flavourable way to break the January fast. I made them into mini-cakes so they do not feel too sinful but I cannot guarantee you will stop at just one. The aromatic spices and the brewed tea give the cakes a magnificent kick, the poppy seeds an awesome crunch while that glaze just adds a silky sweet highlight. To be honest the cake itself is not too sweet so if you really want to start the act of balance here you can leave the glaze out – but hey find the balance elsewhere. Today, just make these and enjoy it with a hot steaming cup of spiced chai. Recipe: Poppy Seed and Chai Mini Cakes with a Chai Cream GlazePrint Recipe By Meeta K. Wolff Prep Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 45 minutes Makes 10 to 12 mini cakes IngredientsCakes 240 g all-purpose flour 50 g poppy seeds 2 teaspoons baking powder ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon ground cardamom ¾ teaspoon ground ginger ¼ teaspoon ground cloves 115 g Butter, room temperature 2 large eggs, room temperature 150 g fine granulated sugar 80 ml brewed spiced black tea, cooled and at room temperature 120 ml whole milk, room temperature 50 g sliced almonds Glaze 120 ml sweetened condensed milk 50 g icing sugar 30 ml brewed spiced black tea, cooled and at room temperature MethodPreheat the oven to 180 degrees C and position a rack in the middle. Butter 10 to 12 mini-gugelhupf forms with butter, alternatively you can use a muffin form lined with paper liners. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, cardamom, and cloves into a bowl. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using handheld beaters, whip the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and continue to whip till mixture is pale and creamy - approm 3 to 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time making sure each one if fully incorporated before adding the next one. With the mixer turned off, add the tea, milk, poppy seeds and the sifted dry ingredients. Turn the mixer on low and quickly beat the mixture only until everything is incorporated. Remove the bowl and using a rubber spatula give the mixture a couple of folds, making sure to to clean the sides and scooping the bottom to make sure there are no lumpy bits sitting at the bottom of the bowl. Spoon the batter into the gugelhupf or muffin forms and bake in the hot oven for approx. 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes, comes out clean. Cool the cakes completely on a wire rack. While the cakes are baking make the glaze by mixing the condensed milk, icing sugar and the brewed spiced black tea in a small bowl. The consistency should be a nice thick and pourable glaze. When you are ready to serve drizzle the glaze over the cakes, sprinkle with the sliced almonds and serve. Verdict As we enter February, I think a pat on the back is order. You hung in there and had the will to see yourself through your goal. Now have a break – and indulge in a few of these. Tomorrow, you can get to the gym and make a gorgeous buddha bowl. I thank all of you who have sent me some lovely messages asking me if I have been well. I know I took a long break from blogging this time. I did miss this space! I have had a busy few months and for those who follow me on Instagram know that I have been well albeit working hard to keep my balance.  Need a few more cake ideas? Maple Roasted Pumpkin and Allspice Babka with Cinnamon Icing Sour Cream Maple Banana Cake Honey Roasted Cardamom Apple and Brown Butter Streusel Crostata All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2019 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Cherry Coconut Clafoutis
It made a lasting impression and it deeply fulfilled my soul. Madame Maillard brought it out in a cast iron pan not much larger than a dessert plate. The sides were puffed up like a soufflé and browned on the edges, and the juices of the fruit left a blood-red trail within the ridges. Peeling off some waxed paper from a small ceramic bowl she pulled out of the fridge and to my delight, she formed the perfect quenelle of Crème Fraiche and carefully placed it on top of my very first cherry clafoutis. Up until this moment, I had not taken to the meal too well. The starter had put me off and I was picking at the rest of the courses with extreme trepidation. Monsieur Maillard had set down a plate of cold thinly sliced meat drizzled in a vinaigrette-like sauce and some lovely homemade warm bread. Without a break in their chatter, my host forked a slice on my plate spooning some of the sauce over the slice of meat. The dish was cold but I decided to dip the warm bread into the sauce. As I sliced into the meat, I had a flash of a second thought. I had no idea what I was eating but my brain registered something about a Tête. I took another bite and was not sure if this was really what my palate imagined when I had decided to spend a summer in Paris with a guest family. But then I heard it again and I pricked my ears to get the gist of exactly what I was eating - Tête de veau. My face must have fallen as I heard giggles from across the table. My A'level standard French was able to translate calf's head for me to understand what was on my plate. I continued to chew the meat trying very hard not to fulfill all the clichés of a foreigner in France. But it was no good I was unable to finish my plate and tried to avoid the smirks of the others on the table. I awaited the next course with a certain anxiety but was quite relieved to see the familiar form of chicken in the roasting pan. Grandmére Maillard put a reassuring hand on my arm, making me feel insignificantly better. The chicken was filled with liver patè and while it looked elaborate for a family meal it tasted rather bland, the meat dry and insipid. Nonetheless, I cleared my plate more due to the fact of being hungry after a whole day at the language school and I did not want to come off as a picky or spoilt towards my guest family. "Grandmére Maillard a fait le dessert aujourd'hui!" - Grandmére Maillard had made the dessert today.Spoons and plates were passed around, I could feel the slight excitement at the table as everyone waited to be served a portion of Grandmére Maillard's cherry clafoutis. The fluffy custard with the golden ruffled edges was dotted with sweet dark French cherries stewed to a jam-like consistency. It had gotten quiet around the table, the only sounds were of the spoons scraping the plates as we all voraciously devoured the clafoutis. My first cherry clafoutis back when I 19 has somewhat of an iconic place in my heart. After tucking into Grandmére Maillard's cherry clafoutis I visited a local bookstore a few days later to browse through some of their cookbooks. Of course, I was looking for a recipe for a clafoutis. Having found a few, I was finding it hard to believe that only the most basic of ingredients like milk, eggs, flour, and fruit could produce a dessert so utterly glorious. Feeling underwhelmed and expecting a lot more to Grandmére Maillard's clafoutis I decided to ask her. Her English was modest at best and I was hoping that my French lessons would pay off. It came as a surprise to me when she confirmed that a clafoutis used only basic everyday ingredients and the freshest of seasonal fruits. However, she did give me a valuable tip that day. She told me that many make their clafoutis cake-y, which happens to be quite fine but the real appeal of a clafoutis is when the texture is smooth like custard. Since then many years have passed and I have made a lot of clafoutis - a few have been quite lousy! But over the years I like to think I have found a great balance in making a pretty good clafoutis. It is not quite like Grandmére Maillard's clafoutis - that is right up there and I definitely believe that a good doses of my memories make that clafoutis unforgettable. This summer when I went to the cherry orchards armed with my blue bucket - I could not help but remember my first clafoutis. There was no doubt in my mind that some of these cherries would be used for the creamy custard dessert. I played around with an idea I have been having for quite some time. I wanted to pair the cherry flavors with coconut and make it using a grain-free flour. I used coconut blossom sugar and as I was mixing the batter it turned into a beautiful café au lait color and as it baked the kitchen smelled of caramel and toffee. I also use a light coconut milk drink and coconut flour. I found the custard turned out to be wonderfully silky and creamy with a slight hint of coconut. I leave some of the cherry pits in the clafoutis as I always find it gives the clafoutis a nutty boost. Give it a try if you like and come back and tell me what you think. If cherries are out of season now - then try these with plums. I have a clafoutis with fresh German Zwetschgen in the oven right now - you use whatever you have. Recipe: Cherry Coconut ClafoutisPrint Recipe By Meeta K. Wolff Prep Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes Serves: 6 Ingredients450 - 500 g cherries (either pitted or not) 295 ml coconut milk 155 g cococnut blossom sugar or brown sugar 4 large eggs 70g coconut flour 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract pinch of sea salt Butter, for greasing the pan about 2 teaspoons semolina, for dusting the pan MethodPreheat the oven to 190 degrees C and position a rack in the middle. Butter a 24 cm round baking tin and dust it lightly with the semolina. Shake out any excess. Place all the cherries in one layer into the tin. In a food processor or a blender combine coconut milk, sugar, eggs, coconut flour, vanilla extract and sea salt and blend until the mixture is smooth - this should take about a minute. Stop in between and scrap the sides of the container. Slowly pour over the cherries, trying not to disturb them too much. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the custard is puffed and golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve at room temperature with some powdered sugar dusted on top if desired. Verdict I’d like to think there was a lesson in all this - the best things in life are rather simple and if you want to jazz the simple up a bit it does not take much. A simple cherry clafoutis was jazzed up to give some exotic summer flavour with coconut. The custard is silky and smooth. I like to do it in the blender as it really gets rid of any lumps nicely to leave a batter with a thick texture. Our temperatures right now are crazy hot - almost 30 degrees C. One would not think it was September! We are still sitting outside and enjoying the balmy hot weather with summer-like desserts and barbecues as if we were still in the middle of June!I will be off to a even hotter region next week as I head out to Dubai for a few weeks. Lots of great things happening there and I look forward to seeing all my awesome people there - family and friends. I am sure when I return the weather has turned and the beuatiful colors of Autumn will be upon us. Have a good few weeks and do follow me over on my Instagram as I will be updating my stories and feed there - just in case you miss me! Clafoutis, Crumbles and Cobblers on What’s for lunch honey?: PEAR AND CRANBERRY CRUMBLE WITH RAW HONEY & GINGER DARK CHOCOLATE CHERRY AND TAHINI CLAFOUTIS Berry Peach Cobbler with a Lemon and Vanilla Crust All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2018 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Beer-Braised Pulled Pork Tacos and a Spicy Mango and Pineapple Salsa
What does a civil engineer, a teacher and an industrial mechanic have in common? Besides sharing a friendship for over 30 years, it was a passion for beer that kindled the first sparks for three young men from Schmalkalden to establish a small brewery. Martin, Hendrik and Matthias are born and bred in Schmalkalden, a small quaint town in the southwest of Thuringia. They have been childhood friends for decades, sharing a bond that only a lifelong friendship seals. As I sit together with Hendrik and Martin in the cosy foyer of their brewery, I feel the warm camaraderie between them and their easy-going and affable manner creates and very relaxing mood.  I am looking forward to getting to know them and have been keen to hear their story. Martin Reformat is the civil engineer in the trio and works at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. He was literally fed-up and bored with the mainstream beer production and decided to take things into his own hands. He began brewing his own beer to cover his own personal needs. That was back in 2013 when Martin was part of the Music Society in Schmalkalden together with Hendrik (the Teacher) and Matthias (industrial mechanic), - it did not take long for them to also jump on board.   By 2015 they were experimenting with different ideas, brewing beer from Hendrik's mother's washhouse. They were thrilled with the results and when kegs of their beer were shared at friends' parties, they realized that they have a good hand at beer brewing.      The Craft Beer trend from the USA has also been slowly developing here in Germany.  Artisan brewed beer is increasingly attracting more and more beer drinkers with its occasionally exotic flavours.  For the three Schmalkaldeners, the idea of developing handmade beers came alive and things began rolling fast. From the very beginning, they were certain that their beer would be a regional product carrying the "Made in Thüringen" seal.  "Das Wasser kommt aus dem Wasserhahn!" Martin declares, explaining that the quality of drink-water in Schmalkalden has the ideal values to brew beer. Hendrik explains that their malt has the farthest journey to travel - approx. 30 kilometres from Schmalkalden from Nord-Franken, while the hop is from Altenburg. Even the recipe of their first beer the "Broihan" is an Ur-Schmalkaldic recipe, obtained from Peter Handy, the Chairman of the Association for Schmalkaldic History and Regional Studies e.V. (Schmalkaldische Geschichte und Landeskunde e.V.). The recipe, Hendrik points-out, was written in old units of measurements and they needed to be translated into today's units.  It did not take long for them to outgrow the washhouse and by April 2015 they moved to a bigger space provided to them by the Wohnungsbau GmbH of the city of Schmalkalden. A small former co-op (Treppenkonsum) with several flights of stairs was converted into an operating brewery in just 2 weeks. But wait, weren't those stairs impracticable for a brewery, considering all the flights of stairs? I wanted to know. Martin and Hendrik start laughing and tell me a story of how they managed to cripple the traffic once by blocking the main street with palettes of beer meant for a delivery.  "We received a lot of Shitstorm for that action!" Hendrik laughs.  Schmalkalden had been without its own brewery for almost 100 years - the men behind the Braumanufaktur changed that.  They not only brewed a variety of craft beers but began offering beer tastings and beer brewing workshops. As their production increased so did the requirement of finding a larger facility. By June 2016, with the help of the Mayor of Schmalkalden, Martin, Hendrik and Matthias had moved their brewery into the present location in the Neustadt area.  Neustadt is a historical area in Schmalkalden dating back to the 15th and 16th Century with many important buildings, monuments, places of remembrance. One of Schmalkalden's oldest half-timbered house "Fachwerkhaus / Schmiedhof Weidebrunner Gasse 13" built between 1369 and 1370 is just a stone-throw away from the brewery, as is the famous Hessenhof, where the cellar of the house contains scenes from the Iwein illustration-cycle, from the 13th Century. These murals are considered to be the oldest secular representations in Central Germany.  Located just behind the Braumanufaktur brewery, a former beer cellar that presumably had been serving the Schmalkalden brewers since the Middle-Ages is being restored. Hendrik tells me that the plan is to use some of the space to stock their beer.   The current location has housed the brewery since August 2016. Martin and Hendrik reminisce about it being the most unfavourable period for an opening. Plagued by a summer recess they were not expecting much attention. A radio report and review in the main Thuringian news just before the official opening changed many things for the three brewers. On 1 August 2016 - the opening day of the Weidenbrunner Gasse location, they had just filled, hand-labelled and delivered 1000 bottles of beer when they began getting calls from the diverse beverage suppliers and stores - they all needed refills! Another 2000 bottles were prepared by hand and promptly delivered.  Today, it is still just the 3 of them, they produce about 30,000 litres of beer each year. Their range of beers has also increased - among other seasonal beers they now offer a light lager (Schmalkalder Broihan), a red ale (Rotbier), a pale ale (Hopfensud) and the Mumme with a pronounced malt note and compact body. What I really liked about Martin and Hendrik is their clear vision and dedication towards their passion. They are very committed about offering high-quality handmade beers, using just the basic but first-rate ingredients and operating directly according to the German Beer Purity Requirements dating back to 1435. These requirements state that beer should only contain hops, malt and water - and that is truly all that is in a Braumanufaktur beer from Schmalkalden.  he beers have a unique and complex characteristic, using malts in flavours such as toffee, chocolate, or coffee, and unique hop varieties which lend floral, fruity, earthy, or spicy finishes. Each of the ingredients is chosen with care and concern for detail. Being a small locally owned operation the Braumanufaktur Schmalkalden will never compete with the larger beer manufacturing industry.   But then that is not their goal - it's much simpler and pronounced - to brew beers that taste really good!  For the future, Hendrik tells me that they are keen to expand and develop their event segment more. The idea of a beer walking tour is being developed, a "sweet and malty" tasting together with a regional nougat producer and a "Whisky meets Beer," a counter-tasting session is also on the drawing boards. Both are keen to offer their beers to more gastronomy in the region, wishing that the conservative views towards something different will change as currently, the markets are very difficult to enter.  I am certain that these three brewers will be able to enter several new culinary markets and open up the connoisseur segment in Thuringia because there is a lot more one can do with these craft beers than drink them. I was coming home with a bag filled with an assortment of brilliant Braumanufaktur Schmalkalden Beers and my mind was playing aroundwith a very particular idea to develop in the kitchen.  With a few insider tips for Schmalkalden from Hendrik and Martin, I said my goodbye and took a little tour through this charming little town before heading back to Weimar. I was enchanted by Schmalkalden - the lovingly restored half-timbered houses in the Altstadt gave the centre of the town a fairy-tale flair. I soaked up the atmosphere of the market day around the square where the Town Hall and the St. Georg Church are situated and took a stroll up to the Wilhelmsburg Castle, a jewel of a Renaissance castle, perched on top of a hill, offering some stunning views over the red rooftops of Schmalkalden. Although the castle is being currently restored, the tranquil park and the views was a perfect end to a truly wonderful day.   Hendrik's insider tips for hiking enthusiasts:  Queste: a little further along the path from the Wilhelmsburg Castle. Wonderful view of Schmalkalden and the mountains of the northwestern Thuringian Forest. Ehrental: Beautiful and varied hiking trail - with observation platforms and an enclosed deer sanctuary. The Waldhotel Ehrental along the route not only offers regional cuisine but also Braumanufaktur Schmalkalden beer!   In my kitchen back in Weimar, I have opened a bottle of Rotbier and am excited to start cooking-up my recipe with this aromatic beer. Notes of lime, melon and mango are subtly present and give this beer an individual flavour. Just perfect for my beer braised pulled-pork tacos with a spicy mango and pineapple salsa.    Recipe: Beer-Braised Pulled Pork Tacos and a Spicy Mango and Pineapple SalsaPrint Recipe By Meeta K. Wolff Prep Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 6 hours + 24 hours marinating time Serves 6 IngredientsBeer Braised Pulled Pork 2 kg pork neck 1 tablespoon cumin seeds 1 teaspoon dried thyme 1 tablespoon sea salt 2 tablespoon peppercorns 1 teaspoon smoked paprika powder 1 teaspoon sweet paprika powder 2 garlic cloves 1teaspoon chipotle chilli powder 1 tablespoon cumin seeds 1 large white onion 2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into pieces 1 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce 330 ml Rotbier from Braumanufaktur Schmalkalden (or any other Craft Beer with a fruity note 300 ml pineapple juice 12 Soft Tacos 1 bunch of coriander leaves, chopped MethodIn a spice grinder, grind cumin seeds, thyme, black peppercorns and sea salt. Then add brown sugar, smoked paprika powder, the sweet paprika powder, garlic cloves and chipotle chilli powder and grind into a smooth rub. Rub the meat generously from all sides with the spice rub. Leave to marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours. When the meat has rested, peel the white onion and cut into wedges. Chop the Chipotle pepper in adobo sauce. Add to the casserole, the onion wedges and the carrots and rub the meat with the chipotle peppers and some of the adobo sauce. Pour beer and pineapple juice and marinated meat for 30 minutes until the oven is heated. Close the lid and place the casserole in the preheated oven at 220°C. Reduce the heat to 150 °C after 20 minutes. After 90 minutes, remove the lid and cook for another 2.5 hours. Every 60 minutes turn the meat in the pot. After a total of approx. 4 hours, check if the meat is cooked by using two forks and pulling the meat apart - if it falls apart on its own - it is ready. Remove the meat from the casserole and allow to rest for another 60 minutes on a plate or baking tray. Finally, use two forks to pull the meat apart gradually adding some meat stock to make it moist. Spicy Pineapple Mango Salsa 225g pineapple, diced 450g mango, diced 2 ripe avocados, diced 1 jalapeno diced very small 1/2 red bell pepper diced 1/2 red onion diced 2 tbsp lemon juice 2 tbsp lime juice 1 tsp sea salt ½ tsp ground cumin ½ tsp smoky chipotle pepper MethodToss all of the ingredients in a bowl well. Assemble the Tacos To assemble the tacos: fill the soft tacos with the pulled pork meat, add a good tablespoon or two of the salsa, sprinkle with the coriander leaves. Enjoy with a chilled bottle of Braumanufaktur Rotbier Notes You can spread some sour cream on the tacos for a tangy flavour You can line the tacos with fresh lettuce or baby spinach leaves before adding the meat. You can add guacamole and/or chipotle chilli sauce over the meat. If you are unable to get your hands on a Rotbier from the Braunmanufaktur Schmalkalden, then any craft beer / Red Ale would also work with the pulled pork. Verdict I not only fell instantly in love with this truly quaint and picturesque town Schmalkalden but was totally enamoured with the pizazz Hendrik and Martin brought along. Probably one of the reasons their craft beer has a little vibrant note to it. It proved to be a great basis for my pulled pork - adding the great fruity flavours to boost the aromas. I love the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce added into the meat - this adds a fiery but beautiful earthy flavors. Hope you enjoyed my travel and report through my hometown. Follow me on more travels and more food through Thuringia here on What’s For Lunch, Honey? THURINGIA MEETS ASIA: DUMPLING SUSHI AND DIM SUM ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLE AND PEARL BARLEY SOUP WHITE ASPARAGUS AND STRAWBERRY SALAD WITH VANILLA KISSED SALMON STEAKS All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2018 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Recap: Destination Dubai 2017 - The Experience
It really has been quite some time since I did a proper recap of a photography workshop here. Not due to the fact that there weren’t any last year but more due to the fact that things were on a constant move in 2017. I was chasing and realizing goals, dreams and basically reassessing many things in my life. Not to say that my photography and styling workshops and retreats aren’t part of my goals. They most certainly are. Nowhere else am I challenged to think out of the box and to be creative while planning such a workshop or retreat. Nowhere else do I meet incredibly talented and creative people who strive to go after their own goals and find inspiration when they sign up for these events. Nowhere else do I get to work and partner with brilliant and extraordinary people who fall in step with me to provide the best possible experience for all who take part. Dubai has been on my mind for several weeks and if you see the many (many, many) photos below you might just get the idea of why. The “Destination DXB 2017” workshop was vibrant, fun, creative, fast paced yet relaxing, enlightening and full of laughter. I teamed up with the ever lovely and my super talented friend Roya to host the annual workshop in this booming city. Together we began planning the rough details in late 2016 as I was looking to revamp a larger part of the concept. Joining us again, the extremely cooperative and awesome team at SCAFA (School of Culinary and Finishing Arts) led by our sincere and treasured friend Alisha, we had a strong foundation to begin composing a fantastic experience for our participants.No Dubai workshop team is complete for me without the uplifting input of Russell Impiazzi of Lafayette Gourmet. We’ve partnered with each other on these workshops since the first workshop we held in Dubai back in 2012. There are always challenges when putting together a workshop of this kind. With each workshop that I give I try to raise the bar, even if it is by a tiny scale, for myself. When there is a strong team behind you who also value the same high standards, visualizing and realizing the ideas becomes an achievable task, despite the challenges. Alisha, Roya and I tweaked, scrapped, remodeled and generally gave the 2-day experience a bit of an extensive face-lift. It was fun, crazy and an expereince I would not want to have missed out on with these two dedicated ladies! THANK YOU! Now in the aftermath when I look at the images I feel a tingle just knowing that many things happen for a reason and it was worth it! At SCAFA we always take on an extra session a few days in advance of the actual 2-day workshop – a challenging task – with the professional students of the culinary school. We ask them look at the world of food from an entirely different angle away from the kitchen and over their plates - through the lens taking the aspect of styling a little further than the typical plating they often learn to do. It’s always a very eye-opening session for the students but also for me as I hear so many different stories and learn how to approach new ideas and concepts.   Even the most skeptical budding chef in the end opens up to our ideas and warms up to the importance of creating a portfolio without having to become a photographer. And even the most hesitant young talent takes a step forward pulls out the smartphone and begins styling and shooting!  We kicked-off the first day of the workshop over baklava, morning tea and coffee and getting to know a little about each other. One of my favorite parts of a workshop as many participants are surprisingly open about their difficulties, their wishes to improve their skills and the goals they want to achieve. It’s not always easy to delve deeply into oneself to a bunch of, what in the first hours truly are a bunch of strangers.We explored some of the theory of photography discussing several techniques and fundamentals and then moving onto practical hands-on exercises. The theory of it often works with many people, but it is interesting to see how each one transfers the theory into practice. Some are frustrated, some are intimidated, some are hectic, some get stuck in the rut. As these exercises progress however, Roya and I go around offering our feedback and showing how to capture and harness the techniques, the mood takes a very pronounced swing in the opposite direction. There was a lightness of finding the groove, smiles and aha! moments for the participants.   After the first photography block it was time to nourish ourselves and Russell, as always, enchanted everyone with his incredibly beautiful lunch. We started with a truly captivating plant based buffet to celebrate the “Love of Plants.” Russell’s approach to food is special, his passion visible through everything he does. Working on our sixth workshop together Russell just knows how to get foodie hearts to beat more passionately! Our main course consisted of an ever so succulent truffle brushed heritage beef tenderloin, braised short rib ‘croquette’ with roasted butternut, heirloom carrots! Followed by the most impressive passion fruit, mango, white chocolate soufflé. Satiated with lunch we moved onto tackling the food styling aspect of a food photo. It’s often one of the more intimidating aspect for a few participants. I can often see why – finding the right color, working with textures, looking for the best composition and placement can seem like a quantum task to achieve. However, I try to break things down in simple bite size pieces to make each aspect more comprehensible. Finally, bringing it all together – the photography and the styling – in one image is the mega reward when everything just comes into place. Having Roya there every step of the way to impart some of her experience and ideas was valuable as she not only is a SCAFA alumni chef but also an alumni of my workshops series. She has the viewpoint from different sides and is able to offer some great details. As if working with food and eating a luxurious lunch was not enough, we headed out to the exquisite Carnival by Tresind in Downtown Dubai. Alisha had organized a multiple course dinner with the exceptional team, who took care of our every wish and were not shaken with having 12 to 14 cameras clicking away continuously! The philosophy behind the cuisine is to go beyond the typical modern Indian cuisine but staying firmly grounded to Indian food culture. Each dish is a celebration of ancient Indian cooking method and has been carefully put together by the team who are inspired by their own memories. The meal promised to take us on an exceptional journey of emotions and desires. We were delighted by the theatrics surrounding many of the dishes that were prepared at our table. For a group of photographers, even the most terrible light did not hinder from taking hundreds of pictures. With dishes like Kebab mein haddi – small lamb seekh kebabs on the bone with a mint reduction, or the show of the Vada Pav service – a classic vegetarian snack of the Mumbai mill workers or the preparation of the pressed sandwich, a cheese & ham toasty pressed using an old iron press or the incredible cheesy masala mac and cheese each dish thrilled us more than the last. We ended the meal in 3 – yes three desserts! I am not sure my images do justice to the evening but the pictures I carry with me in my memories are special. Eating throughout a day was obviously not enough - we all met up at the metro station the next day to head out on a foodie tour of old Dubai. We met up with the vivacious Vibha who was going to be our guide for the morning. Already at 9 am the October sun of Dubai pounded down on us but I am proud of all our participants who did not allow the heat to spoil their fun! Vibha is a freelance tour guide in Dubai, specializing in food and walking tours. She describes herself as a "gypsy at heart, always on a lookout for a new experience, love trying out different cuisines, attempt to understand the world from other people's perspective - it is tough but not impossible." She was a bubbly and very patient guide always making sure we got our share of photos from each stop we made. We had asked Vibha to create a tailor-made tour for our workshop participants to include some cultural highlights of Dubai, allowing us all to see the heritage of this city, paired with the food and beverages that characterize Dubai. We hit the streets of Dubai and started off with a taste of Indian Street Food. We walked further into the heart of “Heritage Dubai” to the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood and experienced the Bastakiya, which dates back to the 1890s. The tall windtowers provided some shade for us as we took pictures. We headed to the coffee museum for a special coffee tasting in a cozy and relaxed atmospher, where we experienced blends of Ethiopian coffee. At the Majlis Gallery, located in an old wind-tower house on the edge of Al Fahidi Historic District, we marveled at the beautiful designs, sculptors and colors and were able to get a glimpse of a few classes they gave here. Walking through the bustling souk of Bur Dubai and then into the “Hindu Lane” is as always, when I am in Dubai, an interesting experience. Hawkers shouting out their wares in the souk compared to quiet and cool tiny lane where religious paraphernalia is sold for Hindu and Sikh worshipers. Crossing the Creek on the Abra is another great adventure in Dubai and even those living in Dubai forget what a special experience it is. It was time to cool off with a new specialty treat offered in Dubai – camel milk ice cream! Creamy and rich and certainly not as intense as I expected it to be – I think we were all pleasantly surprised by the treat. The Spice Souk is – even though a touristy spot – a highlight for me. Spices from door to door are piled in bags – the colors and aromas are dizzying and you will be asked to test and buy at every shop – but don’t as the souk does not always offer the best value for price. But with Vibha giving us some historic facts and with the camera in our hands we all experienced the spice souk differently. Completing our tour of old Dubai was a magnificent light lunch of typical Arabic Mezze, which always pleases people regardless where they come from. My highlight was the fine papery thin crepe with cream cheese and egg - a simple yet divine dish and probably a favorite because watching the beautiful lady hand-make the dish and having the opportunity to capture her radiant smile on my camera has branded my memories for ever. As the day ended and the participants prepared their final images, it was hard to believe another workshop in this booming city has come to an end. Bittersweet as always but this time I stood together with Roya and Alisha looking at the achievements of our Team Dubai 2017 in a matter of just two days was amazing. We were thrilled that BOSCH Middle East partnered with us and that our favorite long-term partner Balqees Raw Honey sweetened things up for our participants again. Having the faith and trust of such partners is a valuable aspect for me as not only does it add a diverse and unique aspect for the participants but during the course of the planning sometimes awesome connections are made with some great people. Together with BOSCH we offered a photography competition that probably made some of our participants sweat. However, this was a great exercise for each one as it put them in the role of how a photography job would work when on assignment. Our 3 judges, Ishita Saha, a friend and the editor of foodemagdxb, the wonderful Ulrike Kolb from BOSCH and Stephen O’Donovan, Managing Director of Dining Out Dubai intensively contemplated, discussed and finally 2 winners, Zainub and Omar were picked and announced. A massive thank you to the SCAFA Team – especially Chef Eduardo and Chef Luther for being our gorgeous models during the sessions, especially the photo competition! This year the young finishing team under the guidance of Chef Emilly prepared the finale menu for us a spectacular 7-course meal highlighting the different levels of the young chefs learning skills at the culinary school. Chef Emilly is a wonderfully focused and vibrant lady always pushing her students to go a little further. It was a true pleasure to have our parents and family also be a part of the dinner as they support us in so many ways throughout the year. Looking at the images I cannot wait for the next one this year. I know I have a grand team behind me who will go the mile with me every time. Thank you Roya and Alisha for believing in me and for being a part of these workshops with me. It would certainly not be as fun, colorful and hilarious as it is with you both. Also huge thanks to Russell – not enough words describe how he always moves me and leaves me speechless each and every time with his creativity and his all around fabulousness. I look forward to the next one with you! Massive thanks to our awesome participants: Trupti, Diana G., Zainab, Omar, Hajar, Diana Z., Tamam and Sashela who literally came not only from Europe and the Middle East to attend this workshop. I am glad to have met you and thank you for allowing me to guide you through your passion! If we have gotten you curious and itching to join one of the next photography workshops / retreats then check out my workshop page for the upcoming schedule. I am currently putting the final dates together with my awesome partners and soon dates in May, September and October will be announced. You can also sign up for the newsletter. Subscribers all get priority registrations to all workshops and regular tips and tutorials on photography. Hope to see you at the next workshop! All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2017 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Elderflower Cordial Prosecco Spritz
It's July – already! My last post was end of May! I had many plans through June for my blog – most importantly I wanted to celebrate my birthday with you. As a child of June, I am convinced it is the best month in the whole year. Don't think I wasn't working towards my plan though. I cooked, baked, styled and shot many delicious foods and dishes – job related yes - but also a selection for my readers here. But my plans to sit still and write a post often were interrupted by spontaneous photo shoots, travels and family fun in the sun! One of the recipes I have really been looking forward to sharing was this one – my Elderflower Cordial with notes of lime and lemon. The Elderflower season is an extremely short one, starting around mid-May till end of June. We are just ending the Elderflower season. I have never seen Elderflower in stores or even at the markets. I have only ever foraged the blooms. I am sure you might have spotted a few of the bushy Elder trees with a smattering of the creamy cluster of blossoms often found on the edges of pathways and woods; nestled amongst hedgerows. So that was what I was doing for part of June – not only foraging for Elderflower but cherry picking and strawberry harvesting. See it has been so hot here over the past several weeks that much of the produce in our region has ripened weeks ahead of time. After the Rhubarb tart I posted there was an influx of fruit that usually appears a little later in the summer. It has been hard keeping up with all my favorites! When I see the Elder bushes start to bloom on my walks through the woods I usually get excited and begin planning all kinds of desserts. The tiny buds have a sweet light fragrant bouquet and taste wonderfully unique and refreshing. My first batch always goes for a few liters of a wonderful delicately flavoured Elderflower cordial. A good cordial goes a long way, as with this basis you can create a variety of interesting desserts and drinks to last throughout summer. From jellies to sorbets to panna cotta – Elderflower cordial will provide you with the quintessential taste of summer. We add a splash of the cordial to cold sparkling water with a few sprigs of mint and slices of lemon, this keeps us hydrated throughout the hot days. The weekends, when we soak up the sun rays, relax with family and friends, enjoying good food, a favorite aperitif is a bubbly chilled prosecco with a good dash of the Elderflower cordial. A Prosecco Elderflower Spritz – it has the very essence of long hot summer days. Don't be too much of a snob about the prosecco - any good tasting fruity dry and inexpensive bubbly will do – a spumante or a frizzante works well as you do want some of the fizz to make it spritzy. Once Elderflowers are in season and ready to be foraged – here are some vital tips for picking the best Elderflowers: Pick your elderflowers on nice dry days as rain does the blooms no favours especially when transporting them home. Early in the morning the blossoms of the Eldflower have a much stronger scent - this is the best time to pick them. As the Elderflowers age on the bush their flavor turns and they take on a rather unpleasant bleach like smell, therefore make your cordial at the beginning of the season, in late May and June. Do not pick elderflowers near busy roads as the flowers are delicate and the fumes are not good for the fragrance and taste. Do not use boiling water on the flowers as it will scald the flowers and destroy a lot of the taste. Allow the water to cool down a little before adding the flower to the liquid. Place the flowers in a white paper bag when transporting them home. For one, often the little insects fall off and are easy to find and for another the paper keeps them dry. At home, gently shake the flowers over the kitchen sink to remove the insects. Snap off any thick stalks connected to the flower heads. Picking Elderflower is sometimes a family affair, we will prepare a picnic and head out to our favorite spot next by the stream and under the trees. Several Elderflower bushes grow freely and offer copious amounts of flowers when in season.  I like adding a few slices of lime to my cordial as it gives it a beautiful floral and spicy aroma counterbalancing the sweetness of the cordial. Recipe: Elderflower Cordial and Prosecco Spritz Print Recipe By Meeta K. Wolff Prep Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 20 minutes Makes about: 2 liters Ingredients 1kg fine granulated sugar 3 unwaxed lemons 4 unwaxed limes 50 to 60 large elderflower heads Method Put the sugar in a bowl with approx 1.75 litres boiling water. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Shake the Elderflowers to get rid of any hidden insects, and remove the stalks. Add to the sugary liquid then cover with a clean tea towel and leave to cool completely. Zest and slice the lemons and thinly slice the limes. Add the zest and fruit slices to the cold sugar solution. Cover with plastic wrap and place for 36 hours in the fridge. Strain the syrup through a fine sieve, then strain again, this time through a sieve lined with a fine muslin cloth. Pour into sterilised glass bottles and keep in a cool dark place for up to 2 months. Once you open one of the bottles make sure to refrigerate and use within a month. The Prosecco SpritzChill your favorite prosecco. In wide coupe glasses pour some of the cordial, preferably also chilled, add a sprig of mint and top off with the bubbly prosecco. Verdict Small bottles of homemade Elderflower cordial with a nice bottle of prosecco is are great gifts for when you are invited to dinners or meals to friends’ places. I hope you save this for the next Elderflower season and if you have never foraged for Elderflower, please highlight your calendars for next year now. When you see the exquisite white flowers, go and pick a good bag full - this cordial is the easiest thing you will ever make and it will be your favorite companion all summer long! Here are some great ideas for summer al fresco meals from What’s For Lunch, Honey?: APRICOT, YELLOW PLUM AND WHITE-WINE ELDERFLOWER JELLIES WITH CREME ANGLAISE WHITE ASPARAGUS AND STRAWBERRY SALAD WITH VANILLA KISSED SALMON STEAKS HONEY ROASTED CARDAMOM APPLE AND BROWN BUTTER STREUSEL CROSTATA All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2018 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Rhubarb Pistachio Frangipane Tart
Rhubarb, for many, is an acquired taste, often not acquired till adulthood. I did not acquire the taste until a few years after I moved to Germany. Rhubarb is the harbinger of springtime, and like Spring it is transient and delightful. Appearing in April and sometimes lasting as long as July, rhubarb is in actual fact a vegetable masquerading as a fruit. It's best to seize rhubarb's moment as soon as it appears at the markets and take full advantage of the delicate stalks. Rhubarb was never really on top of my list of favorites till I came to Germany, married my husband and acquainted myself with the German cuisine through my late mother-in-law.  In a country, where eating seasonally is a fact of life, Germans often wait eagerly through the long winter for the first ruby red stalks to appear at the markets. My mother-in-law would stock up on rhubarb as soon as they began showing up at the markets and grocery stores. Jars were sterilized and filled with spiced rhubarb compote, jams or poached rhubarb to be used throughout the year. Then came the cakes and tarts - my mother-in-law's rhubarb vanilla sheet-cake was a delicate mix of tangy and sweet heaven. As my palate developed, I began relishing the tangy punch of rhubarb but found it was often smothered in too much sugar and cooked to a pulp. I began experimenting with savory dishes, allowing a hint of that refreshing sourness to highlight a pork or poultry dish. In tarts and cakes, I often replaced sugar with something mellower like honey to complement the earthy and delicate flavors. Then came the beverages and cocktails - if you have never tried making rhubarb vodka - it is a truly wonderful thing! Rhubarb pairs well with a variety of flavors and is adaptable to use in savory and sweet dishes. Strawberry is probably the favorite partner but try apples, apricots, ginger, citrus flavors, black pepper as possible rhubarb partners too. Use rhubarb in crumbles, or drop pieces of rhubarb in muffins and breads or stir heaps of poached rhubarb through thick Greek yogurt topped with granola, sauté rhubarb and honey for a light quinoa salad, or roast with onions and pork chops for a tangy savory dish - the possibilities are limitless. One of the first things I love making when rhubarb comes into season is a quick and easy tart to satisfy the rhubarb desires quickly. The vivid green pistachio frangipane is a royal bed for the poached rhubarb scented with a hint of cardamom. Paired with the crumbly buttery crust this tart is an elegant teatime partner to welcome the glorious days of Spring. Recipe: Cardamon Infused Rhubarb Pistachio Frangipane Tart Print RecipeBy Meeta K. Wolff Prep Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes Serves: 8 Ingredients For the pastry crust 200g plain flour 20g icing sugar 100g cold unsalted butter 1 large egg yolk A couple of tablespoons of ice cold water For the frangipane 100g unsalted pistachios 115g unsalted butter, softened 1/3 cup / 112g raw honey 2 eggs 1/3 cup / 80ml heavy cream For the rhubarb 50g sugar 6 stalks of fresh rhubarb cut into 3 inch long pieces 1/2 cup water 1/2 teaspoon cardamom Method To make the pastry crust tip the flour, icing sugar and a pinch of salt into a mixing bowl, dice the butter into cubes and rub it in using your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and 1-2 tablespoons of cold water and knead the dough together with your hands until combined. Try not to overwork the dough; stop as soon as it comes together in a ball. Wrap, then chill the dough for 20 minutes. Once the dough has rested, roll it out until it is approx. 3 mm thick. butter a a tart pan. For a round one use 23cm-diameter for a square tart form approx. 21 x 21cm. Carefully transfer the crust to the tin, pushing it into the corners, and patching up any cracks or tears. Trim any overhang. Leave the pastry to chill for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 190°C, fan 170°C. Blind bake the crust: Scrunch up a sheet of baking paper into a ball, then lay it over the crust. Fill this with baking beans, making sure that you press them into the corners. Transfer the tart form to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the baking beans and paper, then cook for another 5 minutes until golden. While the tart crust is baking make the rhubarb. In a large skillet, combine the water, sugar and cardamom and bring to a boil. Add the rhubarb stalks, reduce the heat to a very low boil and poach the rhubarb for about 3-4 minutes, until just soft. Make sure not to move the rhubarb around too much as it may fall apart. Remove with a slotted spoon and let cool on pieces of paper towels. Make the pistachio frangipane: In a food processor, process the pistachios until finely ground - do not over process. Add the butter and raw honey and process until well blended. Pour the frangipane mixture into a bowl and with a whisk, mix in the eggs and heavy cream. The idea is not to incorporate to much air into the mixture to avoid cracking when the mixture rises during the baking period. Assemble the tart by spooning the frangipane mixture into the tart shell, arrange the rhubarb pieces over the frangipane. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until it starts to get golden brown. Serve warm or cold with dollops of crème fraîche and some rhubarb syrup (see notes below) drizlled on top. Notes: Once you have poached the rhubarb and removed with a slotted spoon, cook down the liquid until it reduces to tha thick syrup. YOu can use this to drizzle over the crème fraîche instead of honey. Verdict Sharp and delicate the poached rhubarb is the perfect contrast to the sweet and nutty frangipane. If you do not have time to make the crust then please feel free to buy a good butter puff pastry crust, which works equally well. I personally love the hint of cardamom in the rhubarb compote, adding a bold earthy character to the entire tart. Substitute cardamon with cinnamon, lemon zest, vanilla or even black pepper for other flavor variations. The main thing is to enjoy this stunning tart with family and friends! More sweet tarts for Spring and Summer on WHat’s for lunch, honey? Honey Cinnamon Zwetschgen and Hazelnut Cream Tart Bakewell Tart with Thyme Infused Cherry Preserve and Cashew Frangipane Apricot and Pistachio Frangipane Tart All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2018 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

A Skywalk and a Lemon Scented Asparagus Egg Feldgieker Tart
On a Spring day in April, I packed my camera gear and props to make the roughly one-and-a-half-hour drive from Weimar to Eichsfeld. The weather was, as true to April's nature, fairly changeable. It was warm, my spirit was high and I was really looking forward to this trip. The district of Eichsfeld is a beautiful region in Thuringia, with its rolling hills and untouched nature, the landscape at times reminds me of something taken from the chapters of a Jane Austen book: a Nature of beauty and grace. I was not only going to discover some of that beauty and grace on my visit to the Sonnenstein, I was also going to take a walk on a glass footbridge above the Sonnenstein cliff. If that was not enough excitement, I was going to have the opportunity to taste some of what the Eichsfeld region produces and is famous for.  The "Skywalk", a glass catwalk protruding approximately 14 meters from the cliff of Sonnenstein, allows the hiker to take in a 360-degree view of the stunning Thuringian landscape before them. It was completed in the Spring of 2017 and offers ethereal views not only of the Eichsfeld region in Thuringia but also the Mittlegebirge and Harz.   The hike up to the Sonnenstein begins at a parking place at the foot of the cliff near Holungen. It is a fairly steep climb but once mastered, the reward is a magnificent view of the breathtaking scenery and Spring colours. The hills painted in various shades of green and rape-yellow and the candyfloss like clouds against a baby-blue sky provided a much-needed comfort to my eyes. Moments like these always remind me why I fell in love with Thuringia and why I have chosen Weimar as my home. Leaving the hustle and bustle of big cities like Dubai, San Francisco or Doha behind me, it is the mix of this intact nature, the culturally rich heritage, the timeless architecture, and design, the pure generosity and friendliness of the Thuringians, and of course the food, that makes me call Thuringia home now.   Once on top of the Sonnenstein plateau the "Friedenskreuz", a ten-meter-high cross to honour the local poet and pastor Dr. Hermann Iseke is one of the first things that catches the eye. The location invites the visitor to linger, enjoy the moment and the views into the distance. Each time the light changes the panorama is painted in different hues for unforgettable impressions. It is not just the diverse range of different nature types and the remarkable sights that has given this state the label of "the Green Heart of Germany". Thuringia is famous across the borders for its fabulous sausages. The mighty Bratwurst is probably the most well-known export but sausage-making in Thuringia has evolved through the centuries into genuine culinary art. The variety of different steamed, scalded, and cured sausages is truly astounding. While the taste and texture of the sausages also depend on the types of meat used, mainly pork and beef, but also turkey or venison and game, the true character of the finished product is defined by the blend of seasonings which is every butcher’s well-kept secret.   As I headed to the Eichsfelder Landschlachterei Am Ohmberg, I was very much looking forward to getting more insight into discovering more about these secrets. I met with Herr Zappe, an affectionate and good-humoured man in his sixties, although he looked far from it. We quickly found a sympathetic rapport with each other and Herr Zappe openly narrated many stories about his company and life. Shortly after the Wall came down, Herr Zappe, who was working at the Landwirtschaftliche Berufsgenossenschaft (LBG) during the DDR era, decided together with his partner to establish a butcher-shop as a subsidiary company of the LBG. However, the family Zappe were keen to offer more transparency and take many of the processes into their own hands. In 1995 they decided to cut out the middle-man and with the advice of the veterinary inspection office, they decided to process each step themselves - from keeping the animals to the humane slaughtering and finally to the production of their own sausages and cured meats.   In the summer of 1998, they opened their own firm in the form known till today - the Eichsfelder Landfleischerei Am Ohmberg.  Since then the family Zappe have opened four shops in Thuringia, selling their special Eichsfelder sausage and cold-cuts. While the main shop is still on the old grounds in Bischofferode, Herr Zappe is proud of the achievements over the years. The company has grown, employing 20 butchers and vendors and as a 100% subsidiary of the agricultural association another 50 employees as farmers and cultivators (Landwirte) work there. Today they make over 1.5 million Euros in revenue, a fantastic sum considering Herr Zappe does not believe in extensive marketing but rather depends mainly on word of mouth. "Es ist ein Selbstläufer!" (“It’s a sure-fire sucess!”) he states As we walk through the cold-rooms of the butchery, where sausages hang in rows and rows at different stages of air-drying, Herr Zappe explains the several processes required to make a specific type of sausage. Pork is the main source of meat and they make sure that almost every part of the pig is used, not wasting anything. They slaughter a limited amount of pigs during the week, during the seasonal holiday period howerver, they increase their production.  It is easy to see that Herr Zappe is filled with a certain pride at what he has achieved, although he says a few times that it is not an easy business. He introduced me to his daughter Kathrin who was behind the shop counter serving the customers who came to the shop in regular streams. As I was setting up my food shot in the shop, one thing that I noticed was that each customer that came into the shop was greeted by name.  This personal treatment is something that is of true value for Herr Zappe.  I ask Herr Zappe if he is happy doing what he does. He looks at me and smiles. It is a different kind of happiness - a kind that has not been easy to achieve, with the ups and downs and the ever-changing demands of our times.   As a student in agrochemistry at the University of Halle, he graduated in 1986 as Dipl. Agrar Ing. Coming back to Eichsfeld he joined the LBG as "Pflanzenschutz Agronöm". At that time, he tells me, agriculture had a different value in the DDR, it was an important job. Shortly after the Wall came down he became Chairman of the board of directors at the agricultural association and Managing Director of the Eichsfelder Landfleischerei. Together with his wife, who also works at the Landfleischerei, they have 3 kids and he proudly tells me that is a 4-time grandfather at 60!   Helping me style my shot of the sausage board, Herr Zappe is very open and tells me some of the ingredients and spices that make the sausages so tasty. The items offered at the counter all look amazing and as Herr Zappe sees my enthusiasm he carefully asks me if I eat pork. He seems surprised that I do! But I assure him that being married to a Vogtlander and living in Thuringia since 2008 I would be missing out on the good stuff if I deprived myself of the sausage and cold-meats available here. Herr Zappe disappears for a few minutes and returns with a bag of fresh bread rolls. After my shoot, he invites me to the office spaces where his wife and 2 employees have already laid the table with a small selection of the sausage, spiced mince, and the fresh rolls. From my food props, I offer the gherkins and mustard. We all chat amiably and laugh at anecdotes, and once again I am overcome by a feeling of pure contentment.  Herr Zappe offers me a few slices of a sausage, looking vaguely similar to a salami. The "Feldgieker" is a specialty of the Eichsfeld region and differs to many of the other sausages. It is made fresh, after the slaughtering when the body-temperature is still at 25 C. Pork mince is seasoned with a blend of spices and put into casings, after which they are left to air-dry in maturing cold-rooms for several weeks. The thicker the sausage, the longer they have to hang to dry and mature, to allow all the flavours to unfold. Sometimes this process can take up to a year.   Back at home, I am keen to create my own recipe. The idea has been developing in my head ever since I left Herr Zappe and his team in Bischofferode. That day as we were seated at the table tasting the Feldgieker, I was told that sometimes it is pan-fried and served with eggs. I have been playing with the idea ever since then. An awesome specimen of the "Feldgieker" has been hanging in my kitchen for a few days. In my recipe, I look forward to commemorating the Eichsfeld region, but also celebrating Spring and the colours I experienced at the Sonnestein and honouring the day I spent with Herr Zappe in beautiful Eichsfeld.     My tart has a wonderfully light flaky crust and is spread with a simple mixture of thick sour-cream and quark, seasoned with a hint of smoky paprika. Caramelized onions offer a sweet aroma, offsetting the robust flavors of the Feldgieker sausage. The grassy flavour of green asparagus highlights the essence of spring and does a great job counterbalancing the aromas of lemon zest. And the egg sunny-side up is my personal tribute to the Sonnenstein and the day spent with Herr Zappe and his team - kind, honest and incredibly friendly people who made this a memorable day for me.  Don't worry about making your own crust if you do not want to – buy a good store-bought crust. Best of all, this tart tastes great cold and can be wrapped, put in a picnic basket and enjoyed outdoors. Take it with you on your own trip discovering Thuringia. Recipe: Asparagus Egg Feldgieker Tart Print RecipeBy Meeta K. Wolff Prep Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes Serves: 4 Ingredients 1 store-bought or homemade tarte flambée crust (alternatively use puff pastry 200g natural quark 100g thick sour cream ½ teaspoon smoked paprika 1 teaspoon dried thyme Sea salt and freshly crushed pepper to taste 500g green asparagus, washed and woody ends cut off 2 tablespoon olive oil 3-5 sprigs fresh thyme 2 to 3 slices of Eichsfelder Feldgieker, cut into small cubes 1 medium sized red onion, cut into slices Zest of 1 lemon 1 egg Dried edible flowers (optional) Method Roll out the dough on to a tart form, lined with some baking paper. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (please check the instructions on the packet of your crust). Mix together the quark, schmand, smoked paprika, dried thyme and season to taste. Set aside. Lay out the asparagus in a baking pan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the sprigs of thyme, mix and roast in the oven for approx. 15 minutes. Set aside. In the meantime, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pan to medium heat. Add the onion slices and slowly sauté till golden and caramelized. Set aside. Put together your tart by spreading the quark-schmand mixture on the base of the crust. Spread the caramelized onions, then lay out the asparagus spears. Spread the Feldgieker sausage over the tart. Break the egg in the center of the tart and immediately place in the hot oven. Bake for approx. 15 to 20 minutes or until the egg has set and the sides of the crust are light golden. Take out of the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes, then sprinkle with the zest of lemon and if using some of the dried flowers. Enjoy warm or cold, with a salad and some olives. Notes: Not everyone will have access to the Feldgieker – if you cannot make a trip to Eichfeld and get your hands on this sensational sausage then use any spiced salami or even a chorizo instead. The sour cream in this recipe needs to be fairly thick. If yours is thin and runny, place a cheesecloth into a sieve and allow to hang and drip for a few hours.   You might like these summer tart ideas from WFLH: Roasted Tomato Aubergine and Tahini Tart Bacon, Cheese and Leek Tart Tomato Basil Tart with Polenta Crust All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2018 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Quinoa Chickpea Avocado Bhel Salad
Walking along Bombay's Marine Drive or on the beaches of Bombay Chowpatty or Juhu, colorful market carts sell not only vibrant fruit and vegetables but many have been converted to sell the street food varieties India is famous for. And Bhelpuri is one of Bombay's quintessential street food, not to mention one of the most loved snacks in India. Typically, Bhelpuri is based on a snack food called bhel-mix, which is a combination of puffed rice and chickpea noodles, it is then mixed with a variety of ingredients, including boiled potatoes, onions, peanuts, a tangy spice chaat-masala mix, some tamarind chutney and herbs. It's an iconic snack, spicy, but also sweet, tart, and salty and can be adapted to enhance any of those characteristics. The versatility in taste is the beauty of bhelpuri. In Eastern India, for example, one will find bhelpuri recipes that include raw mustard oil, which gives the salad an incredible kick. Every suburb in India has its own friendly "bhelwala" a bhelpuri vendor and each will have their own inimitable blends of chutneys and masalas. Fact is – if you ever find yourself in India hungry for a quick yet incredibly flavoful snack or salad – get yourself to the nearest bhelwala. Often the salad is served in bowls made of banana leaves or put into cones made from newspapers and with a wooden spoon you scoop the tangy-sweet mix into your mouth. Get ready for true fireworks as the melange of aromas and flavors hit your tongue and leave you wondering "What did I just eat?" Many people I meet here have a fear around Indian food and seem to think there is a lot of mystery around the cuisine. We use a liberal and wide range of spices in our food, which is probably one of the reasons people are intimidated. My advice to anyone venturing into Indian cooking as a beginner is basically what my mum taught me a long time ago and I have mentioned a few times on varies recipes on the blog. When Indians eat, they want the receptors on the tongue to pick up all of the tastes with each bite – the sweet, the salty, the bitter, the sour and the umami! When I create dishes at home based on Indian recipes I keep that in mind as a basis of all my recipes. I tweak and adapt the recipe until it fits our tastes. I also want people living outside of India to be able to relate to these dishes and find them easy to re-create in their own kitchens. My inspiration for this salad comes from my childhood memories of vacations in Bombay. My aunt lived directly on Juhu beach, at the age of 15 I vividly remember one of my first rituals, when we visited her was heading out to the beach and finding a bhelwala for a quick fix of bhelpuri. I have given my version of the bhel a slightly different twist with ingredients readily available to me here in Germany. I have made a bit healthier using puffed quinoa and chickpeas instead of the fried chickpea noodles. I also add some avocado and lots of sprouts. An integral part of this recipe is the "kala namak" - black salt, also known as Black Himalayan salt, which is made from Indian volcanic rock salt. It starts out as Himalayan Pink Salt and is then heated to extremely high temperatures and mixed with Indian spices and herbs including the seeds of the harad fruit which contains sulfur. It also contains trace impurities of sulfates, sulfides, iron and magnesium which all contribute to the salt’s color, smell and taste. It has a very distinctive pungent smell, almost like hard boiled eggs and a delightful salty and tangy flavour, which is why I substituted the salt for the usual chaat-masala mix in this salad. Although black salt has a very strong smell at first but it disappears when cooked and the finished dish does not smell like eggs at all. It is the kala namak here that gives my version of the bhelpuri that wonderful savory umami flavor! I have added a healthy dose of lime juice for the tanginess, ground cumin for the earthy flavors and chili flakes for the heat.   Recipe: Quinoa Chichkpea Avocado Bhel Salad Print RecipeBy Meeta K. Wolff Prep Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 35 minutes Serves: 4 Ingredients 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed 1 green bell pepper, diced 1 red onion finely chopped 1 avocado, diced 1 cucumber, diced 70g mixed sprouts, I used chickpea, mung, alfalfa, bean sprouts and lentils 100g unsalted peanuts, roasted 120g puffed quinoa Large handful of finely chopped coriander leaves 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon cumin seeds 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes 1/2 teaspoon black salt 1 tablespoon palm sugar Juice and zest of 2 limes plus more to serve Method In a large bowl place the chickpeas, green bell pepper, onion, avocado, cucumber and mixed sprouts. Season with the black salt, chili flakes, and palm sugar. Add the lime zest and juice and drizzle the oilive oil. Give everything a nice toss to make sure everything is coated in the dressing. Just before serving add the peanuts, puffed quinoa and chopped coriander leaves. Mix and serve immediately. Notes: Kala Namak might sound a bit exotic but can be found in Indian stores or organic shops. This salad is a great healthy snack and can be pimped up to your own liking. You can enjoy this as a snack on it’s own or as a side to grilled meats and poultry. The most important thing to remember is to enjoy it as soon as you add the puffed quinoa. As it starts to soak up the dressing it tends to get soggy.  Verdict I love this salad as it is perfect for warmer days. It's light and healthy and so versatile. A go to salad when I am craving fresh, crunchy, sweet and tangy all at once – but also when I want a quick Indian fix! It is great for a vegen/vegetarian diet, is gluten-free and contains all the good complex carbs, keeping the energy levels balanced for a longer time. Enjoy! You might like these great summer salad ideas from What’s for lunch, Honey?: Thai inspired Zucchini Mango Salad Minty Peach and Watermelon Salad with Feta Cheese Asian Chicken Red Cabbage and Peach Salad All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2018 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Vegetable Biryani and 9-Legume Fry - the Punjabi Way
Growing up for years the role of my parents was always very clear cut and traditional. My dad worked in the hotel business and travelled a fair bit and my mum stayed at home, where ever it happened to be, looking after the two children. My mother had diverse hobbies and honorary responsibilities, which kept her busy, while she was dedicated to her family, friends and diverse social engagements. My father worked hard and often kept long hours as is always the case in the hotel industry. However, when I look back I remember fairly clearly that when we sat down for dinner in the evenings we were almost always the complete family of four. When we moved to Qatar things began taking a change. My mother in her early 40s started a freelance job and the more successful she was the more she was asked to join the team in a fixed position. My father was very supportive of her new role. He stopped travelling as much and got a more fixed designation at the hotel in Doha. I just entered the teenage era and was more interested to pass time outside of the house rather than spend time inside. Still, when we came together for dinner, we were always a party of four. Both my brother and I graduated from High School, moving to different countries to study and work away from home. My parents moved to Dubai and my dad took on a large project in Cairo, increasing his travelling again. My mother continued to flourish in the same firm in the Dubai branch. When I reflect today, it often felt lonely – all four of us were having dinners separately away from each other. A memory that I carry very close to my heart was visiting my parents in Dubai. It was the late nineties and my father had just wrapped up the project in Cairo. Over lunch I asked him what his next project and plan was. I hardly expected the answer I got.  "I'm taking a break and am going to write a book!" I think I choked on my curry! "No stop kidding – where are you off to now?" My parents explained that it was not a joke. They had bought a larger apartment and once it was ready they would move there. In the meantime my dad was going to stay at home, writing his book and look after the household. My mum was going to continue to work. This was a totally new situation, but I do remember breaking into a grin. My dad was in his early 60s and wanted to take a 3 to 4-year break. I was proud of their bold decision. Once again my parents were teaching me a new lesson – not only follow your dreams but seriously you can make the dreams happen at any age! That same day my brother arrived from California and we broke the news in much the same way. My brother posed a very important question that until now had not been addressed.  "Who is going to cook the meals?"  You see we are a family that when we all get together we discuss the next meal plan while enjoying a meal. Dinners were always a major and important part of our family ritual and even though we left home – coming back to the parents always meant being together and enjoying meals and conversation collectively as a family. Both my parents were smiling at us and my dad explained that he had been looking over my mum's shoulder in the kitchen and learning a few tricks of his own. That evening we gathered in the kitchen, my dad in the lead role while we assisted. We chopped and my dad explained many of the steps as he sautéed the onions and spiced the cauliflower. I don't ever remember being in the kitchen together, the four of us cooking dinner. But it was a special memory to hold on to. I did catch my father glance at my mum once or twice when there seemed to be doubt. My mum just smiled and blinked allowing my dad total freedom in his role. My dad was enjoying all the attention and fuss. That evening as we all sat down to dinner we tucked into a luxurious vegetable biryani based on my dad's recipe and my mum's signature Dal Fry! To this day it is one of the most memorable meal for both my brother and me. It epitomises how my parents evolved seemingly effortlessly and transcended into their different roles with ease.  My dad went on to write his book, which took him on adventure journeys from Italy to Palo Alto. Sometimes I was lucky enough to accompany him other times I heard about his tales when we all came together in Dubai. He learnt new cooking methods and dishes during his travels and has always been keen to share the new ideas with us. To this day however, my dad's vegetable biryani and chicken pulao are the celebrated dishes in the family. That is why today I share two recipes to honour that great memory of the day my parents took a bold step in their lives. The vegetable biryani is based on my dad's recipe and my 9-legumes fry is strongly based on my mum's recipe for Dal fry. While the ingredient list and method for the biryani looks fairly long, there are no exotic foods or hard to find items. If you are a curry lover – most of the items will be in your pantry or you will find them in larger grocery stores or in Asian/Indian supermarkets.  Recipe: Vegetarian Biryani Print RecipeVegetarian Biryani by Meeta K. Wolff By Meeta K. Wolff Prep Time: 40 minutes Total Time: 70 minutes Serves: 4 Ingredients 220g basmati rice, soaked in cold water for 10 minutes 1.5 liters warm water 3 + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 350g white onions, thinly sliced 2 + 2 tablespoons ghee 30 ml warm milk generous pinch of saffron 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint 2 tablesppons finely chopped coriander leaves 1/2 green cardamom powder 1 teaspoons cumin seeds 2 bay leaves 4 cloves 1” cinnamon stick 6 green cardamom 250g onions, thinly sliced 2” ginger, coarsely grated 200g tomatoes, roughly chopped 1 tablespoon tomato puree 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder 1 teaspoon turmeric powder 1 teaspoon coriander powder 450g cauliflower, cut to bitesized florets 220g mushrooms quartered 150g carrots, sliced 100g sweetcorn 50ml water 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder Salt Method Heat 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil on medium heat in a frying pan. Add 350g sliced onions and sautè stirring every few minutes. The onions will go crisp and turn golden brown - this can take anywhere between 15 to 25 minutes. Take them off the heat and drain access oil on kitchen paper and set aside. Soak the saffron strands in the warm water and allow the milk to infuse. Keep aside. Heat a heavy bottom pot and bring the 1.5ml water to a boil. Drain the rice and add it to the boiling water. Season generously with salt. Cook the rice for 7-8 minutes. The rice should only be half cooked as it will cook further in the oven. Drain the rice, keep warm and set aside. Set up a large metal bowl filled with cold water. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil, reduce heat and blanch the cauliflower in for about 7-8 minutes. Drain and plunge in cold water and set aside. In a grinder add all the whole spices: cumin seeds, bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. Grind to a coarse mix and set aside. In a heavy bottom pan heat 2 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons ghee over medium heat. Add the 250g sliced onions and fry for roughly 10 to 15 minutes until fragrant and translucent. Add the coarsely ground spices, stir well and continue to fry for a minute. Add the grated ginger and fry for a further 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomato and the tomato puree and continue to sauté until the tomatoes have soften - about 3 minutes. Lower the heat and sprinkle the chilli powder, turmeric and coriander powder. Stir well for 30 seconds. Add the vegetables, lower the heat, stiring well to make sure to coat the vegetables in the spices. Pour the 50 ml water, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower, garam masala and season to taste. Cover and cook for a further 2 minutes. Turn the heat off and set aside. Preheat the oven to 180 C degrees. In a heavy cast iron casserole or a Römertopf start to layer the biryani. Add a tablespoon of ghee to the bottom of the casserole then layer with some of the spiced vegetables and top with a layer of rice. Sprinkle with some of the saffron milk, chopped mint and coriander and a pinch of cardamom powder. Finally add some of the fried onions. Repeat the process with more spiced vegetables followed by an even layer of rice. Top with remaining ghee, saffron milk, mint, coriander and a pinch cardamom powder. Top with a little more of the fried onion, saving some to serve. Tightly seal with a layer of foil and put a tight fitting lid on. Put the casserole in the oven on a middle rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave to rest until ready to serve. Serve the vegetable biryani with the legumes fry. 9-Legumes Fry My 9-legume fry is not only an ode to my mum's classic recipe but I honour my dad's teachings in cooking. Yes – he always has very valuable and useful tips from the kitchen. If there is anything that I learnt from my dad is to try everything at least once and keep your waste to a minimum. My dad collects everything. He freezes vegetable scraps and leftover sauces and gravies, using them for soups, stews and other dishes. He will save and freeze flatbread and parathas to make either a casserole á la bread pudding or frittatas. So when I had many different varieties of legumes leftover in my jar, none to make a complete dish individually, I decided to put all 9 varieties into the pot for a Indian style stew.  Recipe: 9-Legumes Fry Print Recipe By Meeta K. Wolff Prep Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 60 minutes Serves: 4 Ingredients 300g variety of legumes (I used chickpeas, kidney beans, cannellini beans, mung beans, black-eyed peas, yellow lentils, Puy lentils, green split peas, black beans) 1 + 2 tablespoons ghee 1 onion, finely chopped ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder ½ teaspoon cumin powder 1 teaspoon coriander powder ½ teaspoon garam masala ¼ teaspoon chili powder ½ teaspoon mustard seeds ½ teaspoon cumin seeds 1 tomato, finely chopped Pinch of Asafoetida 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped A small piece of ginger, grated ½ green chili, finely chopped 1 tablespoon fenugreek, dry roasted and ground to a powder small bunch of coriander leaves, chopped Salt Method Wash all the legumes well, then soak in a bowl for about 20 minutes. Place the legumes in a pressure cooker and fill it with enough water to just cover the dal. On medium heat allow to boil then place the lid of the pressure cooker and cook till the legumes mixture is soft but still retains it’s consistency. This process can also be done in a pot, it will just take a little longer for the legumes to cook. While the legumes are cooking place a large saucepan and heat on medium. Melt the 1 tablespoon of ghee. Add the turmeric powder once the ghee is hot. Then add the onions making sure not to brown but sauté until they turn translucent. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes completely breakdown. Now add the other dry spices - cumin, coriander, garam masala and chili powder - to the pan and cook for about 10 seconds. Once the legumes have cooked transfer to the pan with the onions and spices, adding salt to taste. Check the desired consistency, adding water if it is too thick. Simmer for 5 minutes. Heat a small skillet on medium heat and melt 2 tablespoons of ghee. Add the mustard seeds and heat until they begin to pop. Add the cumin seeds, fenugreek, asafoetida, garlic, ginger and chilies cooking for a few minutes. Pour the mixture over the legumes, mix well, adjusting the seasoning. Top with chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with the vegetable biryani. Verdict Now that the family has grown to include my husband, son and my brother's wife, every time we visit Dubai he still loves to cook for us when we are back home. After 4 years he went back to work and believe it or not still, in his early 70s, is working in the hotel business. These two dishes are the typical kind of meals I always turn to when I am missing home. They are more than 2 dishes, they have memories attached to them that make them simply tastier. Even without my memories I am sure you will love them. The biryani is beautifully aromatic having cooked in the oven slowly keeping all the flavours sealed tightly. Each layer comes together so perfectly and provides an incredible array of textures. Paired with the rustic hearty legume stew both dishes were not only meant to be but the entire meal in nutritious and healthy. ROME FOOD & LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY RETREAT 2018DATE: 10 & 11 May 2018Pack your cameras and come with me to the Roman countryside! This Spring I will be back in beautiful Torri for a fantastic 2-day food photography and styling retreat. It is the place for you to gain motivation and renew your creative ability. I hope to see some of you in Italy this Spring! Tickets have already gone out to as far as the Middle East and as close to as Switzerland. Come and join me!GET THE DETAILS & CHECK OUT SOME OF LAST YEAR'S STUNNING IMAGES BOOK YOUR TICKETS! You might like these curry night ideas from What’s for lunch, Honey?: Curried Cauliflower and Pumkin with Kumquat Chutney Goan Tangy Pork Vindaloo with Cashews Beef Kofta Curry All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2018 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

ROME Food & Lifestyle Photography Retreat 2018
Spring is a fascinating time in the Roman countryside! Here, just a few kilometers north of the capital, lies an appealingly undiscovered niche of Italy, where the sun warms the rolling hills, the sea of poppies splash their reds against the green fields, the olive trees begin to burst into life and the light is a vibrant yellow. I fell in love with this humble but stunning area back in 2016 when I visited the region for my first workshop. It is the perfect place to reach deep within oneself and find the inspiration that will summon your deepest creativity. That is why I am absolutely thrilled to share another beautiful and power-packed food photography, lifestyle and styling experience here in Torri, Sabina this Spring.  And I hope you, like several before you, will share this exceptioanlly unique experience with me. Sabina's landscape is a tapestry of olive groves, vineyards and ancient hilltop villages, rich in medieval architecture and tradition. This is absolutely the ideal setting for a sensational Food Photography and Styling retreat again in 2018.A picture is worth a thousand words!I am sharing a few images from last year's workshop to show you the true beauty and essence of our 2-day retreat. Our villa, perched on a hilltop, boasts of panoramic views of grandeur of the village Torri, beautiful vineyards and olive groves. From dawn to dusk light moves around, painting the entire surrounding in different colors. Shadows and reflections, dark and light, the golden hour or the blue hour of this view just never gets boring. The entire recap for last year’s workshop is coming up in a few weeks time - I promise!        Meeta's workshop in Rome can be summed up into one word - inspiring. The location, her instruction, and our exposure to the local food culture is exactly what I needed to renew my creative energy. I was able to combine the inspiring atmosphere along with new techniques and tips for styling and photography to improve my work.~ Lori R., Rome Workshop 2017 The ExperienceThis food photography and styling retreat is a 2-day experience, where together we will not only discover the surroundings, but our main aim will be to develop your skills in the techniques of photography and styling. We will help you out of your rut and bring out your creativity by working on many exercises and refining the style. This retreat will be a place for you to gain motivation and renew your creative ability. With ideas and discussions from other group members it will boost your knowledge and help you think out of the box. Together we will cook, eat and drink delicious rustic Italian meals and wines, using exquisite seasonal ingredients, sourced locally and from the villa gardens and fruit trees.We will take photos by the swimming pool, on the terrace and in the olive groves. We will visit a 2000 year old olive tree and have an an exclusive olive oil tasting experience. We will dine at a wonderful secluded little trattoria perched on top of a hill in Lazio, past poppy fields, where each dish is a symphony of flavors. The Workshop The focus for this food, styling and lifestyle retreat is to: access your untapped creativity using the olive groves and rolling hills as a backdrop. explore all the aspects to easily create beautiful pictures focus on photo and styling processes, from basics natural light manipulations to more advanced ones. create succulent stories with your photos, create the right atmosphere share current food styling and prop trends discuss many important topics revolving around photographing food: picking ingredients, cooking/photo time management, post-processing, steps towards discovering your unique voice and artistic style master the perfect composition consider props, how to find them, how to make them and how to budget with them This tranquil, unique and homey venue will provide us with a fabulous source of inspiration and offer us plenty of room, outdoors and indoors, for our hands-on exercises and photo assignments. The Hosting TeamRissa Miller is my biggest support during the organizing and planning of these retreats. With over 20 years professional experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry, and a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, Paris she spent the last 5 years cooking throughout Italy. I am very thrilled to be teaming up together with Rissa again to share our knowledge and passion with our participant Johnny Madge is our dynamic Olive Oil Sommelier and tour guide for our olive oil excursion. Internationally acclaimed olive oil sommelier, expert forager, marble sculptor, and extraordinary host, Johnny has been living in Sabina for 35 years and offers infinite knowledge and frequent laughter to all our participants. Who Should Join!This photography and lifestyle experience is perfect for you if: You are a photographer who wishes to discover all the exciting aspects of capturing beautiful food and lifestyle photos in a unique location You are looking to take your food, travel and lifestyle photography skills to the next-level You are a blogger, web designer, graphic designer, stylist, magazine editor, creative designer, foodie, writer (all were past participants of my workshops) or similar and you wish to capture beautiful images for your business or blog You wish to improve your styling and find your way through the jungle of food styling to create the perfect set-up You have a basic knowledge of using the DSLR and camera settings anyone who is keen to spend a few wonderful days with like-minded people exploring and enjoying this incredible spectacular city I will guide you throughout the entire course of this retreat, teaching you to discover and hone all the many aspects it takes to create the perfect image. Most of all we want this to be a fun-filled 2 days for our participants, with good food, drink and an exchange of experience so that when you go back home you are not only equipped with the know-how to create beautiful images for your blog posts, articles or your own personal masterpiece, but also look back at the 2 days as a memorable event. The Programme *   Thursday 10th May 2018 Informal Meet & Greet Introductions over morning tea, coffee and pastries at the Villa Photography Fundamentals Mastering the camera & learning the basics (shutter speed, aperture, ISO etc.)    Photography Techniques Using natural light to create the right atmosphere; building a narrative, using color and texture Practical Photography Exercises Practice makes perfect LUNCH by Rissa A lovely meal featuring some traditional rustic Italian dishes. Styling Fundamentals Composition and placement, finding the right angle, using the perfect props, finding an artistic style Styling demo Free-style Photography/Styling Exercises Short exercises bringing the photography and styling aspects together 3- Course Dinner by Rissa Divine rustic Italian meal with wine pairing Friday 11th May 2018Breakfast at the Villa by Rissa Question and Answers; one on one discussion with instructor Enlightening yourself with Lightroom Workflow, post-processing, watermarking, tagging Olive Oil Tour and tasting with Lunch in Farfa  Field trip and on-location photo shoot Intensive group work on main photography assignment Evaluation, discussion & critique on assignment Constructive feedback, discussion and critique on exercises Finale Aperitifs & Farewell *The programme may change or have slight variations due to weather or availability The TicketRome Retreat 2018 Ticket: Euro 660 / personIncluded in the price Complete two day workshop session, which will cover food and lifestyle photography and styling, practical hands-on exercises and assignment work 1 night single room accommodation 5-hour olive oil tasting and excursion  Field trip transportation to and from villa All meals & beverages during workshop Thursday: Snacks, Beverages, Lunch, Dinner Friday: Breakfast, Olive oil tour, lunch, aperitifs  Material / equipment for on-site photography and styling sessions (does not include cameras and other photography equipment like tripods, laptops, cables etc.) Not included Flights to Rome Airport transfers / Travel to venue Travel insurance (or insurance of any kind)   BOOK YOUR TICKETS! The Destination Rome 2018 Food photography experience is limited to only 10 participants and works on a first-come-first-serve basis. BOOKING & PAYMENTTo book your space for this unique experience please register and complete the registration process (click on"Book Your Tickets" button above). After we have received your payment we will send you your exclusive Destination Rome 2018 Food Photography Experience ticket and further and more concrete programme details, a complete guide, photography hand-out and instructions. To secure your spot for this event we request that full payment be made upon registration. Please Note: The organizers reserve the rights to modify the programme should the need arise. Presentations and main workshop language will be in English (instructor and organisers speak German and Italian).ParticipantsThe workshop is aimed towards participants with a basic understanding of how to use a DSLR camera and settings. We will cover fundamentals like aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance and co.. However, we would like to focus more intensively on concepts and techniques during theory sessions and provide ample room for individual practical exercises. During individual exercise I am here to provide help with modes, settings and any difficulties and challenges in this respect can be discussed.CancellationsDue to logistics of the event, we are unable to provide any refunds on cancellations. However, we can accept a replacement for your place. We recommend you have travel insurance in the event of any unforeseen events. BOOK YOUR TICKETS! If you have any questions or need more information please drop me an email: meeta[AT]whatsforlunchhoney[DOT]net Look forward to seeing you in Italy this Spring! Warmly, Meeta   All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2017 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Avocado Mango Yellow Lentils Lime & Chilli Verrines
Many relationships are forged and strengthen over meals or social events. Emotions evoked and lasting impressions are made when people come together at the table to share a meal. As a daughter of an hotelier our family moved often from country to country, always leaving behind friends and a community that had taken us in. It was never easy and yet I watched my parents form new friendships and build a social environment in each new city with ease. It wasn’t until I was in my teenage years that I realized that my mother often took it in her hands to create a loving and comforting condition for all of us by hosting dinner parties and social events. She realized that without friends and the support of dear ones, the family would suffer a lonely and isolated time in the unfamiliar place. It helped that my mother was a fantastic host and a brilliant cook and often her dinners and parties were celebrated affairs.The quintessence of these social events is that today they live in Dubai and remarkably many of the friends they socialize with, and are also now living in Dubai, date back to times before I was even born. This was a significant lesson I learnt and socializing also came easy to me. However, I realized that for me my happiness lies in having a select few friends that I know will be there for me. Although I travel a lot, I have been living in Weimar for 15 years now and having my base means that I am able to bond and strengthen my ties on a different level. Still, that lesson of what it means to establish a friendship in a sociable and intimate environment has always stuck with me. From the window of a quaint loft apartment nestled in a quiet corner in Erfurt’s pedestrian area, wafts the inviting smell of onions and mixed herbs. My friend, Kerstin sits at the large table tying the name tags to the small Weck jars filled with Za’atar. I have taken my usual place at the stove, caramelizing onions for the turmeric roasted cauliflower that will be part of the evenings dinner. We giggle as we try to simultaneously take photos for our InstaStories. In this moment I think about the way things, over time, have changed, or have they evolved? Social media meets social dining! Both Kerstin and I are hosting our first supperclub, something that we have wanted to do for ages. We both believe in the power of convivial gatherings and how food connects people from all cultures. Interestingly, we both met a few years earlier as she hired me to work on food related project for the company she worked for. Food connects and creates friendships at all levels! We had promoted our supperclub through social media and word of mouth and the guest list is a mix of friends, acquaintances and people who have connected with us over this blog, Facebook or Instagram. We are nervous as the doorbell rings and our first guest walks in. The bubbly aperitif of Prosecco and a power shot with flavors of ginger and pineapple is zesty and refreshing and as we pass around the nibbles of spiced nuts, our guests warm up to the situation. The group was most loquacious when, in the kitchen, among other preparations, pumpkin was pureed for a hummus and orange zest was toasted for the beetroot. The voluble conversation continued at the dinner table, now decorated with flowers, candles and fairy lights. Laughter echoed through the loft as platters of aromatic turmeric cauliflower, lemongrass noodles or za’atar cannellini beans were passed around. Talking to strangers while you eat is something that would rarely happen in a restaurant. That, for me, is the significance of hosting a supperclub. Bringing strangers together in a homey and cosy atmosphere; to meet new people, to network, to communicate and exchange ideas. Paradoxically, away from the virtual reality of the internet and social media. Restaurants tend to get stuffy and formal. The concept of a supperclub, however, offers guests real delicious food that they help to prepare, in a relaxed and fun ambience. That is the lesson I learnt from my mum and the idea I am happy to be developing and realizing with my friend Kerstin. Coincidentally, social dining has its roots in ancient Greece, where wine and olives were used to bring plebeians together. Food was the catalyst for galvanising disengaged communities. Today, it seems that while the internet has disengaged communities on the one hand, we can use it to bring people together in the real world easily. There truly seems to be a yearning for real life interactions and we hope that with our supperclubs we are able to make these real life interactions a shareable experience for our guests. Our Kochen & Freunde Supperclubs are scheduled to become a regular experience this year where we have a few dates set for upcoming events. Kerstin and I have only just started and we are hoping to bring many people together not only in a social but also in a business environment. We will experience set-backs and disappointments, I am sure. Our goal, as we move forward, is to add real-life value to the communities and people in our region. If you are living in and around our region please feel free to contact us for dates and details. How does this recipe fit into the idea of a supperclub? Perfectly! Cooking and preparing the menu for a supperclub can be fairly flexible. We take into account the dietary restrictions and try to accommodate them while creating the menu. The dishes are far from boring – as a matter of fact our first supperclub was entirely vegetarian and offered an abundance of variety in flavor, produce and textures. We also think of a few creative serving ideas – no you won’t get soup in a dog bowl or anything along those lines, but we did serve our Asian lemongrass and coconut noodles in Asian take-out food boxes, allowing guests to “take-away” any leftovers. These beautiful verrines characterize our idea for creative flavor fusions and serving ideas. The verrines make the perfect appetizer, cater to many dietary issues and look good. Texture plays a vital role and there is a bomb of texture and taste: as an Indian my palate likes to experience all the tastes in one go – salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami. This recipe includes them all!Recipe: Avocado Mango Yellow Lentils Lime and Chilli VerrinesPrint Recipe By Meeta K. Wolff Prep Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 50 minutes Serves: 4 Ingredients3 avocados 200 g yellow lentils, cooked to packet instructions, cooled 1 zucchini, grated, water drained 2 red onions, finely chopped 1 cucumber, cubed 2 mangoes, cubed 1 cloves garlic, finely chopped 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 red chili, finely chopped 3 limes, zest and juice small bunch of coriander Handful sprouts, I used red radish sprouts coarse sea salt and freshly cracked pepper Handful pecans, chopped MethodFirst make the lentil salad: place the cooked yellow lentils in a bowl. Add the zucchini, 1 finely chopped onion, the garlic, the zest and juice of 1 lime and half of the chopped coriander. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil and toss well. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Make the cucumber salad: place the cubed cucumber in a bowl, add the chopped chili and red onion, the remaining coriander, zest and juice of 1 lime and 1 tablespoon oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Take 2 of the avocados and with a fork coarsely crush. Spinkle some sea salt and the last zest and juice of the lime. Cube the last avocado. Assemble the verrines, by filling 4 glasses: first with some of the avocado puree, then layer with the lentil salad, the cucumber salad, the cubed mangoes, and top with pecans and sprouts. Verdict Elegant, easy to put together and practical, these verrines are perfect for any social gathering. Be it a dinner party and home, a picnic or a supperclub – I love how versatile they are. I also find that, although the ingredients are not complicated, but when all the components come together in one glass the entirety of the dish offers complex flavors and textures. Enjoy!   WORKSHOP CALENDAR 2018 Soon, I will be announcing the first of my food photography and styling experiences for 2018. Make sure you sign up for my newsletter for priority registration now and learn about the workshop schedule a few weeks in advance.               You might like these easy social dining dishes from What’s For Lunch, Honey?: Slow Roasted Turmeric Vegetables with Moghrabieh Pilaf Clafoutis - Tomato Zucchini and Goat Cheese Mint Lamb Meatballs with Spelt Risotto and a Coriander Pesto All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2018 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Lingonberry Lebkuchen Festive Cake
It’s December! Again. I have dusted of some of the speckles of lint beginning to gather here. An unwanted break from the blog that extended into a bit of a Summer / Autumn interlude. And now here I am – it’s December and time for Christmas! Since July, which was the last time I posted, I have travelled – quite a bit. My travels took me to Budapest, Croatia, Florence to name just a few places I covered over the summer but I was also back in Dubai in October. If you follow me on Instagram, I hope you have been enjoying the virtual trip. In the almost 12 years of blogging this is the longest break I took. It was good, as I focused on several things that I have been saying “I would love to …” for so long but always blamed it on time – or lack of it. I guess many of us find ourselves in that place. Sometimes it was a roller coaster ride of emotions, of a thousand questions, of even more thoughts and sleepless nights. An opportunity came knocking on my door to open up a small bistro – long days of talks, of fidgeting with numbers back and forth, working on concepts and ideas – some days I was on a high other days I felt dragged down. In the end I listened to my gut – always my sound beacon – and decided to let it go. I have not regretted it. Not long after, over lunch with a friend, we exchanged visions or those “one day I would love to …” ideas and realized we both had a similar idea. So without much fuss we jumped into it – outlined and put together the concept, planned and organized, did a lot of schlepping up and down many, many staircases and early November we were able to present our first Supperclub in Erfurt! It was a bespoke, convivial dinner where 18 lovely people took their place at our Kochen & Freunde table, guests who came from not only our region but also from around Germany to indulge in good mindful food, enjoy conversation and culture. We created an exciting multi-cultural menu - a fusion of ingredients and spices and we took our guests to the culinary high points of the Middle East, Persia, India and Asia! We cooked with turmeric, za'atar, sumac, cardamom, cumin, coriander, lemongrass and more. Market fresh pumpkins were turned into silky hummus, red beets into a divine moutabel, cauliflower was spiced with turmeric and sprinkled with barberries and pinenuts, flavorful Asian noodles highlighted with kaffir leaves and lemongrass and sweet and sticky medjool dates were mixed with almond butter and raw cocoa powder and dipped decadently into dark chocolate. It was good – actually looking back it was great – we took many notes and are ready for the next one, in planning for February. There was also Dubai, where I spent two lovely weeks with my parents and brother and had the rocking annual Dubai Food Photography & Styling Workshop. This time with a whole different set-up and a changed concept – inspirational, fun and so full of great participants. Look out for the entire review coming up – soon! Somewhere in between I managed to tour my region for a magazine I often work with and test, write and photograph some of the finest patisseries, bakeries and coffee shops for a big book coming out in March 2018. Soon I will be touring the region again – this time in search of the top Wine bars of my region.So although there has been a bit of inactivity on the blog, life and work has been filled with a lot of action. And here we are – it’s December again! The Autumn leaves, that once were alight with color have turned and withered, we’ve had our first snow, fairy lights are up on trees, candles flicker on the window sills and the Christmas markets are once again filling the air with roasted chestnuts and spiced wine. How can I miss out on my annual Christmas post? Once the emails and DMs began coming in, asking me when my Christmas post would be up I knew I had to get back into the jig of my blog.This year I turned towards the Nordic kitchen for a bit of Christmas inspiration. I love the concept of “Hygge”, the Danish word for cosiness, is about being snuggled indoors with candles, great comfort food, and lots of cakes and sweets. For me Hygge is what I need most when the temperatures drop! Similarly to Germany, Christmas season in the Nordic countries begins on the First Sunday of Advent, when the first candle in the advent candelabra is lit. Families and friends come together and enjoy Christmas cookies, cakes and treats with coffee and tea. On each subsequent Advent Sunday, another candle is lit, so that on the fourth Advent Sunday, the last Sunday before Christmas, all four candles are burning.Food Guide – LingonberriesLingonberries are packed with antioxidant power in the form of plant chemicals called polyphenols. Researchers have found that Lingonberries contain more polyphenol flavonoids than any other type of berry! The benefits of lingonberries not only fortify your body with antioxidants, they also help your body replace depleted antioxidants such as glutathione. Glutathione is known as the “Master Antioxidant” because it fights off virtually every illness. Lingonberries (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) grow on low, evergreen shrubs throughout Scandinavia's forests, the tart red berries are much smaller and juicier than their distant cousin, the cranberry, and closer in makeup to the raspberry. Lingonberries are the last berries to ripen in autumn. After the blueberries and bilberries of July and August, lingonberries don't come in until September. Often they are frozen to be used over the winter months in a variety of ways. Bursting with natural preservatives and pectin, lingonberries were invaluable to earlier generations of Scandinavians, for they could be kept for months at room temperature simply by placing them in jars of water or by stirring the raw berries with a small amount of sugar to make lingonberry jam, where no cooking was required. If looking for lingonberries or lingonberry jam in ethnic European food markets, you also may find them called red whortleberries, cowberries, foxberries, mountain cranberries, mountain bilberries, or partridgeberries. It's nearly impossible to find fresh lingonberries unless you can find an online purveyor, but frozen and canned lingonberries are widely available in the US and most European countries. Here in Germany they are called “Preiselbeeren” and can be found frozen or in jams in several supermarkets and the ubiquitous Swedish furniture store!This whole whole month is all about Hygge and enjoying food! This year, besides a stollen I make each year, I went for something lavishly festive and bursting full of wonderful flavors. This year’s Christmas highlight is a cake that boasts of tart, fruity sweetness of the Lingonberries, while the bold spices of allspice, cinnamon, coriander, ginger cloves and anise seeds from the Lebkuchen paired with the cardamom brings warm comfort. Recipe: Lingonberry Lebkuchen Festive CakePrint Recipe By Meeta K. Wolff Prep Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 60 minutes Serves: 10 Ingredients175 g butter, melted and cooled 3 eggs 100 g soft brown sugar 150g fine granulated suger 300 g cake flour (alternatively all-purpose flour) 2 teaspoons baking powder 3 teaspoons Lebkuchen spice mix (Make the mix) 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract pinch of salt 220 ml almond milk For the icing 175 g butter, softened 400 g icing sugar 70 g lingonberries (50 g for frosting + 20g for decorating), defrosted 180 g cream cheese handful pistachios, chopped MethodPreheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Prepare 3 18-cm round cake pans by greasing them and lining them with baking paper. Beat the eggs with both sugars until the mixture is light, fluffly and almost doubled in volume. Use a stand mixer with a ballon whisk or alternatively a hand-held electric whisk. Sift together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then fold gently into the egg mixture. Pour the melted (cooled) butter and the whole milk and with the speed on low incoporate slowly. Divide the mixture between the three prepared pans and bake in the oven for approx. 15 to 20 minutes or until the cake is beautifully golden, well-risen and springy to the touch. Test by inserting a skewer into the middle of the cake, if it comes out clean it's ready! Turn the cakes out on a wire rack and allow to cool completely. In the meantime make the icing by beating on high speed the butter, cream cheese and icing sugar using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer or the hand-held whisk. If there is a lot of liquid from the defrosted lingonberries, make sure you drain most of it, reserving a little bit for the icing. Add the lingonberries and gently fold into the icing, then add some of the reserved lingonberry juice to give the desired pink color to the icing. Assembling the cake from here is easy. Divide the icing into three parts. Place a sponge layer on your cakestand and spread over with a layer of icing. Repeat the process with the remaining layers. Spread a generous icing layer on your final cake layer, then scatter with the remaining lingonberries reserved for the decoration. Sprinkle with the chopped pistachios. Verdict I dived into something different this year - with this cake I seem to have hit all the right spots in the family. It is moist, aromatic and the zesty sweet tartness of the lingonberries add a fantastic accent to the entire cake. It will make a grand centerpeice at any table with the lingonberries throned like jewels on top of a cloud of creamy icing. A huge thank you to all and everyone who have been constantly writing and keeping in touch with me over the past few months via all the channels. It’s good to be missed and I look forward to getting back the blog mojo and catching up on all your blogs too. If you are looking for more Christmas baking ideas last year I started this awesome Christmas Cakes and Bakes Board and since then it has grown quite a bit. You might like these Christmas showstoppers from WFLH: Norwegian Christmas Cookies, Carrot Spiced Plum Preserve Crescents and Chocolate Orange Cranberry Orange Marzipan Stollen Buns Chocolate Gianduia Stollen With Cranberries and Papaya All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2017 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Middle Eastern Style Buddha Bowl: Giant Couscous, Baked Falafel, Hummus, Spiced Lentils, Pickled Vegetables and Kalettes
   If I was to describe some of my favorite foods and dishes I would say whatever one can pile into a bowl and mix together to savor all the flavors. Not only of each individual ingredient, but also as each item intermingles with the other there are a range of flavor explosions! That is the real kick I get from a dish.  Maybe it is the Indian in me. As far as I can remember I have always enjoyed my meals a lot more when I got to mix up the ingredients on my plate or in my bowl. From the very basic dal and rice, mixed with a few pickles and a refreshing yogurt raita - bowl food has always been my kind of food. Since the Middle Ages, we have enjoyed ladling stews or porridge into “trenchers”, which basically were hollowed out bowls cut from loaves of old bread.The concept of food in bowls is hardly a new one and I presume it originated from the Asian kitchens. The idea of Thali, which basically is an Indian-style meal, made up of a selection of various dishes, served on a platter, is basically to offer different flavors of sweet, salt, bitter, sour, astringent and spicy on one single plate. For us Indians, a proper meal should be a perfect balance of all the 6 flavors for our tastebuds . Since the Middle Ages, we have enjoyed ladling stews or porridge into “trenchers”, which basically were hollowed out bowls cut from loaves of old bread. Eventually, if one follows the history of how food is plated we seemingly evolved from bowls to plates, thanks to Marie-Antoine Careme, arguably the first celebrity chef, who brought plating into the modern world back in the 18th century. What we did not reckon with was the 21st century, and that our inner desire for comfort and social media would bring back the bowls stacking high in our cabinets. The Western world has taken to the bowl food trend with a vengeance and bowls have replaced plates in our kitchens. It seems the common idea these days is not so much what you eat but how you eat it, the key factor being that food has to look pretty while you shoot it. “The theory that food served in bowls is healthier than the same food served from plates is almost as loopy as Lord Sugar losing weight by eating food only using a tiny fork.” ~ Harry Wallop, Telegraph According to Charles Spence, an expert in the psychology of taste at the University of Oxford, that while the idea is not completely foolish, bowl food might be tricking your brain. He has pointed out that if you hold the bowl while eating from it, the receptacle’s weight could make them feel more satisfied with the meal. An idea I do have to agree with. There certainly is something more satisfying and comforting for my inner self, when I am hugging my bowl and scooping out dal and rice with my fingers! Not much comes close to that feeling. However, I am a firm believer of using common sense, especially when it comes to food and what goes into our bodies regardless of the current trend. The “what” is the key factor. I do not mind riding on the waves of trends but I make sure to make sensible and healthy choices adapting the trends to fit my diet, to complement my body and that of my family. I know that my bowl food is truly healthy and tastes better if I have selected fresh, regional, organic produce and if I have prepared each ingredient with care using my experience, knowledge and taste to guide me. That is the key concept to any kind of food. KalettesA combination of kale and Brussels sprouts, kalettes are the latest vegetable to rock the food market. Sweet and nutty in flavor, the vegetable looks like a mini cabbage with delicate, kale-like leaves. Fans claim it is more versatile and quicker to cook than either of its parents, which tend to be boiled, steamed, or hidden in a smoothie. Kalettes, however, can be sautéed, roasted, grilled, microwaved and even eaten raw. Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/11354807/Move-over-kale-were-all-eating-kalettes-now.html Bowl food today come in fancy names: Hippie Bowls, Nourish Bowls, Glory Bowls, Rainbow Bowls, Buddha Bowls. Whatever they are called – pick the one that shows your current state of mind and soul – the concept for all of them are similar. Building your own bowl is fairly easy and made to suit any diet. The ComponentsComplex Carbs Complex carbs are one of the main elements of the Buddha bowl. Sensible healthy choices are brown rice, barley, quinoa or millet. Prepare these with herbs and spices for added flavor. As a guideline, in terms of portions, complex carbs should make up roughly 20% of your bowl. Proteins As I try to keep my intake of refined / simple carbs low, my bowls are packed with high power proteins. These give me not only the needed energy but helps me stay fit, reduce belly fat, keeps my hormones balanced and my hair and skin glowing. I also notice that when I allow myself to slip and indulge in more simple carbs my moods tends to sink. However, with my usual high protein diet I do not suffer from mood swings, my concentration is a lot better and I am able to maintain my weight. Proteins make up about 30% of the bowl and I usually pack my them with lentils, chickpeas, fish, eggs, quark, feta cheese, cottage cheese or chicken. Vegetables I love my veggies and find the 10-a-day guideline fairly easy to keep. Buddha bowls are predestined for loading on the vegetables and these can be served in any form. You can steam, sauté, pickle or add them raw. Usually for a balanced Buddha bowl roughly 20% greens, like kale, spinach, rucola and 20% other seasonal vegetables like carrots, parsnip, beets, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower will make up the perfect bowl. Sensible Extras I stress the sensible in this section as this is often where I find one can be tempted to stray from the healthier version of the Buddha bowl and pile on the calories. The extras usually refer to toppings, sauces and healthy fats and should only make up 10% of the entire bowl. This includes things like hummus, avocado, nut butters, pesto, tahini, nuts and seeds. With this basic guideline it becomes so easy to create a wholesome and entirely satisfying meal. Whether I am feeling the flow like a hippie or in my zen zone like the Buddha – there will always be a nourishing idea not far away. Bowl food is my soul food! To provide you with a few more exciting and creative bowl food ideas I turned to my friends and group buddies on Facebook. They never let me down and as I was gathering the selection last night, not only was it stimulating my brain I was inspired with a few sensational ideas. There are over 70 awesome Buddha bowl, Glory bowls or Nourish bowls with a variety of flavors – from Thai to Mexican, vegan, cluten-free and with meat. I have placed them all in The Best Buddha Bowl board over on Pinterest – click on the image above to get your big healthy bowl! My own Buddha bowl is inspired by the Middle Eastern kitchen and comes loaded with giant couscous, crispy baked falafel, pickled vegetables, spiced lentils, hummus, garlic and the cutest kalettes! Each item is prepared differently with its own specific aromas and as each of the flavors come together into one harmonious bowl there is something similar to a flavor explosion.Recipe: Middle Eastern Style Buddha Bowl: Giant Couscous, Baked Falafel, Hummus, Lentils, Pickled Vegetables and KalettesPrint Recipe By Meeta K. Wolff Prep Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 50 minutes Serves: 4 Ingredients250g giant couscous, prepared according to packet instructions 1 portion my cauliflower chickpea recipe 1 portion my hummus recipe 2 tablespoons olive oil 200g pre-cooked Puy lentils 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped 2 small red onion, finely chopped 1 red chili, finely chopped 200g kalettes 100g feta cheese For the pickled vegetables Cucumbers, kohlrabi, red peppers, carrots, grated 4 garlic cloves, peeled Couple of sprigs of dill 2 cups vinegar (apple cider or white wine) 1 cup water approx. 200g sugar 2 tablespoons salt 1 tablespoon each of peppercorns, mustard seed, fennel seed, coriander seed 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional) MethodFirst make the pickles as they will need at least one day to infuse. In a small sauce pan, bring the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and spices to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat then allow to cool. I like grating or shredding my veggies but you can easily also cut them all into bite sized pieces if you prefer. Pack two (or three depending on the size) jars tightly with vegetables, garlic cloves, and dill. Ladle the pickle mix into the jars to cover the vegetables. Screw the lids back onto the jars and refrigerate. The pickles are ready to eat as soon as the next day, but will obviously gain flavor over time. Now begin your prep for the buddha bowl by individually preparing each component separately. You can prepare the baked cauliflower and chickpea falafels and the hummus ahead of time For the lentils, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pan. Add 2 garlic cloves and 1 chopped red onion. Sauté until fragrant and translucent. Add the red chili. Add the lentils. As the lentils are pre-cooked they really just need to heat through and soak up the aromatics. Once ready keep warm and set aside. For the kalettes reduce the heat to medium-low, pour in the remaining tablespoon olive oil in the pan, add the remaining garlic and onion and quickly sauté the greens. They will become crispy and crunchy, keep an eye on them so that they do not burn. Season both lentils and kalettes according to taste. Assemble the buddha bowl by layering first the couscous, then place the lentils and kalettes around the quinoa. Dollop some hummus in the middle and pile a few falafels on top. Then scoop a tablespoon of the pickled vegetables and finally crumble the feta over the top. What you now have is one extremely divine and inviting meal. I prefer this when the quinoa, lentils, kalettes and falafels are still warm. The falafels can be gently re-heated in the oven or the microwave. However, this meal is great too at room temperature. Verdict Craving a bowl? In reality whether you prefer eating out of a bowl or off a plate or on a banana leaf – the point of food is to relish the flavors, enjoy the complex aromas and savor the meal. It should be balanced and nutritional and no one ever said that a cheat once in a while would harm us. As a person who loves food – eating and working with it that is my only wish. Food has always been a source of memories and emotions for me and I try to build a healthy relationship with food and my eating habits. At the end of the day the vessel in which we eat from is not top priority! So open up a bottle of wine, grab a fork and come join me! Enjoy! You might like these ideas grand bowl food from What’s for lunch, Honey?: Miso Ramen Bowl with Miso Glazed Chicken, Enoki and Shimeji Mushrooms Slow Roasted Turmeric Vegetables with a Moghrabieh Ramen Bowl with Sesame Poppy Seed Venison and Ginger Chili Kale and Swede All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2017 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

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