So… post about cooking, attempt the second. I’ll try to make this a regular feature on this blog now. Keep your fingers crossed.

Today: Chili Con Carne. I got this thing about making stuff entirely myself, no spice mixtures, no supermarket bread… I do allow soup cubes and canned broth, though. You can buy some rather decent spice mixtures for chili here in Germany, but I feel bad about using those, even though they don’t contain anything chemically offensive, like artificial colouring or flavour enhancers. It’s a Verena thing. So I’ve been on the hunt for an edible chili recipe for ages. And there’s a lot of them out there, let me tell you. Chili with beef or lamb or pork. Chili with cumin or thyme or basil. With beer or broth or red wine. With cayenne pepper or tabasco or fresh chilies. With vinegar or Worcestershire sauce. I could continue for quite a while, but I trust you get my drift.

In general I find that recipes that use wine as a base tend to taste too much like Bolognese sauce and those that use a lot of exotic spices such as cumin, coriander and curcuma tend to taste too much like curry. So, after searching for more than a year and trying a good dozen recipes in the process, I settled for using a mixture of all the recipes that worked best so far, and the result was surprisingly pleasant. (I also used way too much cayenne pepper the first time around and almost killed all our guests… trial and error, my dears, trial and error.) I serve my chili with sour cream to take off some of the hotness, so give that a try too, if you like.

Shopping List for 4:

2 small onions, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
500 g/17 oz of ground meat (pork/beef mix is best, but feel free to go wherever your dietary restrictions take you)
2 cans kidney beans, drained
1 can skinned tomatoes in juice
1/2 leek, chopped
300 ml chicken broth
1 tsp ground thyme
1 tsp ground oregano
1/2 tsp ground rosemary
1/2 tsp sage
1 laurel leaf
as much cayenne pepper as you dare (I use 2-3 tbsp and it’s plenty hot)
salt & pepper
(optional: freshly chopped coriander leaves)

For the sour cream:

1 carton/200 ml sour cream
juice of 1/2 lime
3-4 spring onions, chopped
salt & pepper

Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onion. Fry for maybe three minutes until the onion is very slightly browned, then add the garlic. Fry for another minute. Add the meat and fry until well-browned and crumbly.

Add the kidney beans and the tomatoes with the juice and bring to a boil, then add the leek.

Add the broth and bring to a boil again, then add all the spices except the coriander. Cover the pot and let it simmer for at least forty minutes, stirring occasionally.

Now is a good time to prepare the sour cream. Stir the sour cream until it is smooth and season with salt and pepper, then add the juice of half a lime and three or four finely chopped spring onions. Cool until serving.

Once the chili has reached a nice, thick consistency, add the freshly chopped coriander (if using) and pepper and salt to taste. You can also add more cayenne pepper now if it isn’t hot enough.

Serve with the sour cream mixture and bread. And beer. And tortilla chips. And… ah, never mind.

I am not a housewife.

Let’s get this out there as quickly as possible. (Hi mom, hope you’re not too shocked by this stunning revelation.)

I don’t dust the shelves. I only clean the floor when it’s absolutely necessary (a good indicator is when the cat starts sticking to the floorboards). Recently I cleaned the windows for the first time since moving into this flat. I never iron my clothes, except in emergencies, and I only wash when the laundry-mountain threatens to spawn an avalanche. In short: I am not a housewife.

But I do quite like to cook. I love new recipes and I love modifying stuff that I find in cookbooks. After all there is no such thing as too much thyme. Having a husband who likes to eat helps too.  I do not like cleaning up the kitchen, favouring more of a Jackson Pollock approach to cooking. As a result of which, same-said room often looks like a post-nuclear farmer’s market once I’m done with it. The husband helps there, too.

I’m just saying this to avoid confusion. How do I make a perfect Wiener Schnitzel? Good question to ask me, even though the name does sound lewd in English. How do I get dirt stains out of a white blouse? Very bad question, although you are welcome to let me know, I’ve been trying to do so for quite some time.

Anyway. That having been said I now proudly present you with

The ultimate Bacon Muffin Recipe

developed, bake-tested and refined by Verena Kyratzes

(who does not actually think that she is the first person on this planet to have come up with the idea).

Shopping list (makes 12 muffins):BaconMuffins

250 g all-purpose flour
150 g butter or margarine
200 g crème fraiche or smetana (which I am beginning to suspect to be rare outside of Germany)
125 g lean bacon, finely diced
15 – 20 green olives, pitted + 12 olives to garnish
2 eggs, medium
1 – 1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp dried rosemary
1 tsp salt
12 strips of bacon

Preheat the oven to 160° C. You may butter the muffin-tray, but I would not bother, since these muffins come with their own lubrication by nature. Place the strips of bacon in the muffin moulds. One strip per mould. I usually begin by placing the thin end of the strip on the bottom and then spiralling up to line the rim. It may take some practice.

Chop the olives into thin rings.

Melt the butter or margarine and set aside to cool a little. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and rosemary in a large mixing bowl. Be careful with the baking powder since in these muffins that thing with the squeaky teeth happens very quickly. You know what I mean…

Add the crème fraiche and eggs to the cooled butter and mix well. Then add the mixture to the flour. Mix for about sixty seconds with a hand mixer on the highest setting. Add the bacon cubes and olives and carefully stir them into the dough.

Now for the messy part. Very, very carefully put one or two heaped tbsp of dough mixture into the bacon-lined moulds. Be careful not to make the bacon fold in on itself, if necessary pull it back into its original position with your fingers. Put one intact olive on top of the dough, pressing it in slightly.

Put in the pre-heated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.


developed, bake-tested and refined by Verena Kyratzes
(who does not actually think that she is the first person on this planet to have come up with the idea)