UPDATE: We cooked the recipe again and took a photo!
Yesterday, my friend S texted me to ask if I was alright. She must’ve assumed I contracted CoVid19 since the blog had fallen so silent. I am perfectly fine though, but as all of us in these quarantine times I’m not doing a lot of stuff worth reporting.
Actually, that’s not true. The activities have been more solitary/twosome and more home centered. One thing that has figured more prominently than usual is cooking and trying new recipes. (I mean, we’ve got time, right?) While this is not a cooking blog, I decided it would still be fun to share some recipes that have been Tested at the Tiny House (TaTH). So this (potentially very short) TaTH series kicks off with a special treat: a guest blog post from A! He is sharing one of my most favorite recipes that he inofficially calls Spinach Quail (don’t worry, no quails involved). Without further ado, I give to you A’s first blog post:
I’m so excited that Helen gave me the opportunity to present my “recipe” on her blog. It’s nothing much really. There was a time when I had to restrict my diet and the thought process behind this dish was little more than “what am I allowed to eat, that would halfway fit together?”. Among other things I was not allowed to have cow dairy products so I asked the world’s best girlfriend to bring goat’s cheese from the farmers’ market [regular readers of this blog will know all about it]. The person selling it apparently told her that it can be used for cooking, so that’s what I did.
You are not here for recipes, you are here for details from Helen’s private life, right? So, before getting to the recipe, here is a glimpse into the topics we are discussing on a slow Saturday morning: Every national cuisine [this used to just say “country” but I gotta keep up with the standards of this outlet] has its own set of dairy products and sometimes the names are false friends. German “Saure Sahne” would literally translate to “sour cream” but American “sour cream” would be “Schmand” in German. Which leads to the question what the difference between “Schmand” and “Saure Sahne” is. Spoiler: the amount of fat. Question for the reader: What do Germans like to say about fat?
For extra fun add a third language. Do you know what “Gräddfil” is? Neither do I, but I am told it is somewhere between “Schmand” and “Saure Sahne”. I wish I was making this up. What are interesting dairy products in your country? Share in the comments. Am I doing this social media thing right?
You are also here for clichés about Germans. Did you know that Germans love to say “Fett ist ein Geschmacksträger”? This translates to “fat is a flavour carrier” [that’s right, there is a “u” in “flavour”]. How much do we like to say that? Well this phrase is Google’s third offer for “fat is”, only narrowly beaten by the philosophical “fat is fat”. So that’s why we need goat’s cheese in our dish. It all makes sense now, right?
Germans are very systematic about their dairy products. Just look at the handy family tree of products on this page: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_der_Milchprodukte Or the handy comparison of German and US products here: https://www.daskochrezept.de/magazin/tipps-und-tricks/kuechenwissen/sour-cream-saure-sahne-unterschied-usa-deutschland
Or the same for German vs. Swedish: https://newvisionspublications.wordpress.com/2018/09/07/schwedische-milchprodukte-was-sind-a-fil-filmjolk-graddfil-mjolk-fil-und-keso/
With that being said, good luck finding out what “Ziegenfrischkäse” (long nouns, another German cliché) is in your language. The best translation I could come up with is “goat’s cream cheese” but I’m not sure about that. Alternatively, you can just use any cheese you like. The important part is the fat anyway. So don’t use cottage cheese (very low in fat).
Back to the recipe. Or rather “recipe”. I usually just wing it and now my challenge is to formalise that. “Preferably with both metric and imperial units for my American readers” (H.) — as if I was ever using a scale while preparing this. I will just use made up units. If Americans can make up units, so can I. Fortunately, writing formalised instructions is similar to my day-job as a programmer. So here we go:
- One Chicken Breast
[Note on units: this is supposed to be the amount of breast meat (without skin and bone) you can get from one chicken. Depending on where you buy it this could also be “two” (counting one side of the breast as “one”) or 600-800g of “Chicken Breast (Parts)” or whatever units your country sells chicken breast in. If in doubt, more is better.]
- 8 to 12 Small Tomatoes
[Note on units: about cherry sized or slightly larger]
- Two Hands Full of Frozen Spinach
[Note on units: this equals two hands full in imperial units. Also, though I hate to admit it, if you have fresh spinach you are on your own, but congratulations, I imagine it will taste better.]
- approximately 6 teaspoons of Ziegenfrischkäse
[Note on units: if you didn’t find out what Ziegenfrischkäse is, the fact that it can be measured in teaspoons might tell you something about the kind of cheese you are looking for.]
- Oil (from Sunflower or the like, I hear good things about Sesame), Salt, Chili Powder
- Wash the tomatoes, cut each one in half and put somewhere safe for later use.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan.
- Cut the chicken breast in about finger sized pieces. Careful: don’t cut your fingers.
- Put the meat into the pan and fry from all sides. Add salt and chili powder (and/or black pepper if you prefer).
- Add spinach and stir for a while.
- Now it’s time to use your good judgement. You want to add the tomatoes as late as possible so that they do not disintegrate but also not too late because the spinach will burn without the additional water from the tomatoes. This is a fine line you want to hit, good luck.
- At this point you will probably realise that you should have used more salt.
- Once the meat and spinach look ready add the goat’s cheese. Try to already distribute it over the whole pan while adding. In fact, stir as little as possible beyond this point. The effect you are going for is several discrete swirls of cheese, not one homogeneous white sauce. [I really wish we had a picture. Don’t worry about how it looks too much though, this dish is optimized for taste, not instagramability. It will not look pretty even if you totally nail it.]
- Serve with potatoes. Oh, you didn’t prepare potatoes? Don’t you know that you have to read the whole recipe before starting? Just kidding, the potatoes are optional. Next time you’ll know.
Coming up next on the TaTH recipe series: Swedish banana-blueberry breakfast delight