Sunday, June 28, 2020

Quarantine Kitchen

In my last food related post I promised that there will be a part 2 to the food that we ate during the shelter-in-place. This is more of a look back now since the county has re-opened and it seems that people are getting out more. Restaurants are open for dine-in - most of them using patio space and dining outside which here in Northern California is a no-brainer, really. But I do wonder whether is has been such a smart idea to open up while still being in the middle of a pandemic. Ignoring it doesn't make it go away. No surprise that the number of newly infected cases is going up almost everywhere in the country.

But - back to food. Very often I cook without any recipe, like the dish in the photo on top. Seafood mix, red bell pepper, edamame and chow mein noodles all thrown in a wok with some good spices make a satisfying dinner. My secret ingredient for this is sesame oil, and apart from that any food you can find in your kitchen. Just use your imagination and experiment with different spices.

One of our favorite dishes from Italy is pesto. I don't make my own pesto since I found a wonderful pesto from Italy that always reminds me of Tuscany and the wonderful time we had there. Of course it's accompanied by a glass of California red wine.

When we had pesto we usually have some spaghetti left over that easily makes another meal. Again, I just use what I have - spinach and Bavarian bratwurst, broccoli and Bavarian bratwurst, eggplant and pancetta. There is no limit to your imagination.

Or you can make fritata with a salad on the side. Just make sure not to burn it like I did!

We do love that Bavarian bratwurst. I find this one at Trader Joe's, it comes right from Munich and is a true German bratwurst. We eat it with a broccoli-cauliflower gratin on the side and sometimes I eat it as a curry wurst just like in Germany.

Trader Joe's Instagram page also inspired me to try some of their ideas, like the "sweet balls of fire" - meatballs cooked in a sauce made from their sweet chili sauce and raspberry jam - so good! Even better with focaccia - this was my second try and it already was a big improvement from my first one.

I do love to cook seafood, so I made puff pastry shells with shrimp and a creamy sauce with cremini mushrooms, zucchini and red bell pepper (my own creation) as well as a lovely lemon baked cod (I found the recipe on Pinterest here). I'm always happy when I find a fish recipe that everybody likes and doesn't amount to a ton of work.

Have you heard of Shakshuka eggs? While it is a breakfast dish I made it for dinner once, first time I tried it because I wanted to bring a Middle Eastern dish to the table. While it wasn't a favorite, it was certainly very flavorful and delicious.

Let's not forget about desserts. While usually we just have a piece of chocolate to round out our dinner I sometimes make the effort to make a special dessert like Tiramisu which has been a favorite since I brought the recipe from Italy 25 years ago or so. Here is the recipe.

In our paper (or the New York Times, I can't remember) I found a recipe for a crumb cake that sounded easy enough. It doesn't look like much, but the taste was okay. I think I would like to add some fresh fruit on the side - strawberries or peaches - and some whipped cream.

And just to make this pandemic time a bit easier to endure, a good drink is never wasted - be it a maitai on a Sunday afternoon, white wine with the fish or a traditional German Erdbeerbowle.

Now go in the kitchen and make something beautiful!


My name is Erika. said...

Oh so many yummy looking meals and treats. That has been 1 thing good about being home, having good food at home. Its just too bad we had to have this awful virus to make us do this. Maybe some of these great meals will continue after life resumes more in the old normal. Hugs-Erika

Elephant's Child said...

Like you I rarely use a recipe (and tend to adjust the ones I do).
I am a big, big fan of pesto - to the extent I smear it on cheese in a cheese roll.
Fritata is always on the menu too.
And various curries.

Valerie-Jael said...

Your food looks great. I don't want to eat out yet, but I did have 2 coffees at 2 different places. So many people are behaving as if Corona is over, and that's just not true. Have a good week, stay safe! Valerie

David M. Gascoigne, said...

It is quite obvious, Carola, that to be stranded in your house during a pandemic would be akin to getting isolated in a fine resort, with varied cuisine, wine, good company. I think I will arrange that if ever it happens again! The inventive side of you asserted itself and your meals look fabulous.

Red Rose Alley said...

Oh Carola, you are making the most delicious meals lately. Your kitchen is getting good use with you experimenting with different recipes. The pasta looks amazing. I LOVE pasta and have to make it every week. I like how you added sausage to your pasta - I have tried that as well, and it's good. The 'sweet balls of fire' looks delicious. And you even made Tiramisu! I was first introduced to Tiramisu many years ago at a restaurant, and it was scrumptious. Your food posts are wonderful, Carola. I am one who really enjoys her food, so this post hit home for me.

Happy 4th of July.


Barb said...

Hi Carola! I will have to get something to eat as soon as I leave this post. None of my meals seem as photo-worthy as yours. Is that Calamari with the shrimp in the top photo? I keep shrimp in the freezer, but I've never bought (or cooked) calamari. We both enjoy it though and often order it at restaurants (which we haven't frequented in awhile). I also pinned the cod recipe - we both like cod. Breckenridge is teeming with tourists again. Bob and I are still isolating. You and your family stay well!

Mae Travels said...

As you say, some of the re-openings were premature and many areas have had to return to the more locked-down regime because the pandemic is surging into new places. So sad! We have been eating only what we cook, which sometimes looks much like what you cook.

be well... mae at

Jeanie said...

Everything here looks so delicious. Wonderful looking pasta -- that's a favorite at our house, especially when Rick is in full cycling mode. love it and should eat far less. The wine looks good, too! I'm like you - I might use a recipe for baking but for regular cooking, I don't. It often depends on what is at hand. And covid cooking has been quite good in stretching our ingredient creativity! Round one. I'm sure there is more to come.

La Vie Quotidienne said...

Oh my, I just finished eating dinner and these pictures still made me hungry, they all look delicious.

By the way, I am thinking about getting a new camera, I wondered what camera you used, your pictures are always so good. I have a Nikon now but a new one would have a lot more pixels, thus I think a clearer photo. I would appreciate your suggestions.

Thank you!

windrock studio said...

Thanks for sharing the glorious photos and recipes ... the chili sauce and jam combo sounds amazing!

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Hi Carola, I am a first time visitor who “found” your blog after reading a comment you left on Karen’s. I so enjoyed seeing all these food photos but should not have done so before dinner. Now, I will need to go and put something together for tonite using whatever is in the fridge.

Lowcarb team member said...

Your food and drink photographs are wonderful.

All the best Jan

Heidi said...

Liebe Carola,
bis hier her bin ih gelangt und ich habe schon ganz viel über Dich, Deine Interessen, Deine Tochter und Dein Leben erfahren. Bloggen ist einfach eine feine Sache, denn so haben wir uns kennen gelernt, was ansonsten wohl schwerlich passiert wäre.
Ich wünsche Euch ganz vie Gesundheit und Deiner Tochter viel Erfolg bei Ihrem Studium in Europa.
...und dass Euch alle das Heimweh nicht zu sehr plagt!
Alles Liebe