dimanche 14 mars 2010

Man cannot live on cake alone - cheese scones for Oscar

I can't explain why but somehow I'm attached to certain routines. There are Saturday mornings, waking up without the alarm clock, making myself a cup of black tea with milk in my Penguin Pride and Prejudice mug and settling down on my sofa to read for a couple of hours. Eventually though, there's a gnawing hunger which can no longer be ignored. I know it would be simpler to already have some bread and a full fridge but somehow I love the obligation of having to go out to stock up on pasta, cheese, fruit, vegetables, huge free range organic eggs and of course, a fresh loaf from the market around the corner. There's the smile of the old woman with the eggs stall, the Italian choosing the flowers who exclaims "Grazie mille"when she pays and the elegantly dressed Russian explaining why she always buys bread with sunflower seeds instead of with rye. My arm aches under the weight of the canvas shopping bag with ladybirds brought back from the UK and turning down the little street that leads to mine, I notice the red haired woman who lives in the same building with her black sausage dog. After spending far too long desperately trying to make space for everything in the fridge and the pantry, there's breakfast of sourdough bread, Apfelbrötchen (a roll with caramelised apples, totally irresistable), yoghurt and fruit followed by a few more hours on the sofa with my books.

Some polaroids from Friedrichshain.

There is the silence of Sunday mornings and a little later the ringing of the church bells close by, sometimes the pleasure of taking my time over a long brunch, perhaps at Datscha and always the afternoon walk with my camera.

A dramatic sky this morning at Warschauer Straße

Brunch at Datscha

Just as welcome though are Friday evenings after a long day which starts too early when everything is dark and cold. There's no time to eat between lessons which means that I take cake for the important hours between 10 and midday to share with happy students but somehow it never makes up for having a real lunch and by the end of the last lesson, my eyes are heavy with fatigue. After work though, there are the meetings with W. to look forward to. Once there was the caesar salad and coffee in a record store specialising in jazz with the faint strains of samba music in the background. Later there was chocolate cake and a glass of prosecco as they were getting ready for a concert and one of the salespeople took to the piano to play a few bars. Another time, we met in the most gorgeous, old fashioned café whose wooden tables are decorated with large vases of tulips above which are shelves crammed with the loveliest accessories and where you sit on benches with gingham cushions. Time stood still as I savoured an Auflauf (a gratin) with ruccola and later an enormous piece of rhubarb Streuselkuchen with cream which turned out to be too big even for me! Later that evening, we walked just a little further down the road to Marga Schoeller, my favourite place for English books where we browsed, agonising over what to take.

Despite being so tired, Friday nights always seem right for Woody Allen films. Favourite are Manhatton with the little voice of Mariel Hemingway, Manhatton Murder Mystery with the poker scene, the Thanksgiving dinners from Hannah and her Sisters (and empathising with the character of Dianne Wiest, the kooky failure of the family) and Dianne Keaton singing in Annie Hall. Last week though, there was a screening of the Ghostwriter in a tiny cinema at Hackesche Höfe. I've always loved the fact that unlike in the U.K and the U.S, you can take in glasses of wine and beer and afterwards went next door for late night pasta with a carafe of red wine. We talked for hours, only noticing how late it was when the waiters took the desserts from the glass cabinet back to the kitchen. Walking back alone from Savignyplatz through the streets which have become so familiar, there was the pleasant warmth of the alcohol inside mixed with sleepiness and the thought that it was the weekend at last.

Walking around the market at Boxhagener Platz today

A poster from one of my favourite films, Persona by Ingmar Bergman you can buy there.

Two of the other things I made this week, cinnamon stars (yes, I know it's not Christmas but other cookies don't turn out well with my difficult gas oven) and an amazing whole lemon tart from Smitten Kitchen you have to try.

And the title of this post? I often look at the list of these recipes and feel bad that there are so non-sweet ones. Perhaps you all have the impression that I only live on cake. Actually, I love preparing salty dishes but find desserts much more photogenic and don't have the patience to compose the shots. But I'd like to tell you about Oscar, one my parents' cats. Oscar is a cat after my own heart; un vrai gourmand. It all started the day we bought the bread rolls and were astonished to find the packaging had been torn and that one was missing. Later it turned out that Oscar had a passion for bread. He went through phases of liking different things; green beans, roast chicken and most of all, cheese scones. Every time anyone went to fridge, he would be there, begging for food. As I said though, he's a gourmand and doesn't just like any cheese scones; the favourite are Marks and Spencer's which meant that we have to call in advance to reserve them as they sell out quickly, or otherwise homemade ones are the next best alternative. Recently it's seemed like everyone is making cheese scones, thanks to Gracienne's amazing recipe. I prefer though to give you my traditional one which is good enough for Oscar.

Cheese scones for Oscar

225g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
55g butter
a pinch of salt
150ml milk
150g strong cheddar cheese (or you could take Gruyère if you can't find cheddar)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Grease and line and baking sheet.
2. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until you have a mixture like breadcrumbs. Add in 3/4 of the cheese and the milk, mixing with a fork, then with your fingers until the dough forms a ball.
3. On a well floured work surface, roll out the dough until it's about 2cm thick, then cut out the scones using a round metal cutter and place on the baking sheet. Brush the tops with a little milk, then sprinkle the rest of the cheese on the tops of the scones.
4. Bake for approximately 12-15 mins or until golden and cheesy on top. Leave to cool a little but enjoy them while they're still warm with a thick layer of butter.

26 commentaires:

  1. What a great way to spend a Saturday. And I couldn't agree more about the Woody Allen films.

  2. Oscar is one beautiful cat! And such good taste too...your cheese scones! They look delicious. My daughter sent me a photo this week of her cat, scrunched down behind the computer screen, staring out at her with a paw reached towards her croissant. He loves them. (By the way, this is the cat that bit me...I am not a fan.)

    As always, I love traveling with you over your weekends. So many interesting places to share with us. I must admit I am intrigued by Apfelbrötchen. It sounds divine!

  3. As usual, I love love your pictures and posts! Everything looks scrumptious! I am somebody who likes routine.... A lovely way to spend a Saturday.



  4. My old cat used to love camembert, honestly! That was the only food she would go for in the kitchen... Put a piece of fish in her bowl she wouldn't touch it, but leave the cheese on the table and you'd find bites all around it...

  5. Hi Vanessa, what a lovely post, i felt myself walking around the markets and the streets of berlin, yur photos are inspiring, and about Oscar, well, cats are something, my cat loves "jamon serrano" and he always ends up eating what i eat "lots of spanish food" and he seems to like it! Oscar is definitely a gourmand, and your scones look so delicious! cheers from london,

  6. Me three on the routine - lovely. I always look forward to Friday afternoons off with F, doing our shopping for the weekend, anticipating what we'll cook and eat and then collaping onto the sofa and reading and lounging in the sun, if there is any, otherwise peering out at the snow.
    I wish we had a cat to lounge and eat scones with though, what a pretty one Oscar is.

  7. @Des - I'm glad you think so too and it's nice to meet another Woody Allen fan. Not all of his things are great but certain films make me feel so special when I watch them and I long to trvael to New York and spend time walking the streets and drinking milkshakes in diners.
    @Barbara - Oscar is so cute and so intelligent too. He has good taste, even if he prefers the Marks and Spencer's scones to mine. Luckily he's more gentle than your daughter's cat. Apfelbrötchen are really great. I've only ever seen then in one organic bakery roundhere which has its stall at my market. It's like a regular white roll with some bits of caremelised apple round the outside which are crunchy and a little sticky. Totally addictive!
    @Rosa - Thanks so much! I know you're a cat person and am sure Oscar would enjoy spending time with you as your also such an amazing cook and baker. Am relieved it's not just me who likes routine.
    @Julie - Wow, I had no idea cats and cheese could go together. The other ones at my parents aren't interested in anything else except their kitty biscuits.
    @Pity in the kitchen - Thanks for the lovely comment, it's great to be able to share my experiences in Berlin with you all. You're right that Oscar is a really special cat and I miss having him around in Berlin. It sounds like yours has a good life too with all that delicious Spanish food. I'm a huge scone fan so can't wait to make some more. Greetings from Berlin.
    @Sasa - Routine is pretty nice when it gives you something good to look forward too. Your Fridays sounds great; anything with food and relaxing after work is nice. Oscar unfortunately lives in the UK so I miss having him here but making the cheese scones reminds me of him though and I'm happy I'll see him at Easter.

  8. Mon beau chat roux a mangé hier la charcuterie d'un sandwich italien que j'avais laissé traîner sur la table (charcuterie très odorante, dont le parfum avait investi de façon fort désagréable le croissant sucré que je m'étais acheté pour le réveil dans le train). Ce chat italianophile est aussi selon mon coeur...

  9. Vanessa - I am totally intrigued by those Apfelbrötchen you mentioned! Where do you find them?

  10. Hi Luisa, the bakery that sells them is called Brotgarten. They're on Seelingstr. 30 near Sophie-Charlotte Platz or they have a stall on Karl August Platz near Deutsche Oper on Saturdays and Wednesdays or on Käthe-Kollwitz Platz on Saturdays. I'm free Wednesday morning so will probably get some for breakfast and try to get a decent photo to post on the blog. Hope you like them too; they somehow seem like a morning treat without just being coated in sugar.

  11. Rose - Je pense souvent à ce chat roux adorable, décidément il a du goût, même si c'est bien dommage pour le croissant d'Italie. J'attends ton billet sur le voyage avec impatience et j'espère que tu y as passé un très bon moment. Bises.

  12. Woody Allen, j'adore. Je ne m'en lasse jamais. Manhattan est un film magique.
    J'adore aussi les rituels, les petites routines... D'ailleurs, plusieurs livres conseillent de creer des routines familiales pour les enfants, pour leur creer des souvenirs, des traditions. Les rituels ont donc leur interet, ils font partie de notre identite.

    A bientot,

  13. Wonderful, I can't wait to check out the bakery. Thanks for the tip! Karl August Platz is my favorite market at the moment...

  14. Thanks for sharing this, Vanessa. This is my definition of a wonderful week--something I haven't had in a while. Like I said many times, I soooo wish we can trade places, hehe.

  15. bonjour vanessa, mon anglais est malheureusement très mauvais, je ne traduit pas tout, mais par contre, hihihihi les photos elles sont en langage universel et hummmm j'avoue que je me régla les yeux de tes scones !!!
    ici, ouffffff je trouve du cheddar, pas partout, mais quand meme !!!
    pour les noix de pecan, quel dommage !!!
    ici, dans mon leclerc, j'en trouve d'une marque allemande il me semble !! je regarderai mieux la prochaine fois.

    si le tu veux, je peux t'en envoyer berlin n'est pas au bout du monde.

    bisous à toi et bonne journée gourmande

  16. @Laurence - Je crois que Manhattan est vraiment un de mes films préférés et cela m'étonne à chaque fois que Woody Allen puisse monter des feux d'artifice sur Central Park avec la musique de George Gershwin et ce n'est pas du tout kitsch. J'ai reçu pas mal de ses films pour Noel, donc je m'en réjouis le vendredi. Et puis merci de vos commentaires toujours si intéressants, j'ai toujours été si attachées à mes routines et je ne savais pas que l'on conseille cela pour les enfants (mais c'est évident quand on y pense).
    @Luisa - Oh great, so maybe one day we'll bump into each other there ;-) Unfortunately, my plans to take a picture of the Apfelbrötschen didn't work out because there were none left this morning.
    @Ry - I hope your week is going well and not too stressful. Must be great to win a competition like that. I'm lucky to live here in Berlin and try to savour all the little moments to the full.
    @Virginie - Merci beaucoup, les scones sont vraiment bien pour prendre le thé l'après-midi (mais ca marche aussi à n'importe quelle heure!). Je suis contente que tu trouves du cheddar près de chez toi et tu me diras si la recette est bonne ou pas. C'est super gentil avec les noix de pécan mais je vais chercher encore un peu avant de te demander cela car on doit sûrement les vendre quelque part à Berlin! Grosses bises et bonne journée.

  17. Toujours beaucoup de douceur, de souvenirs, de révélations délicates... c'est un plaisir de te lire. Et de venir prendre un thé virtuel ;-)

  18. c'est étrange mais de mon côté, j'ai la nostalgie de routines que je n'ai pas connues. Souvent quand je voyage, j'envie les habitudes des gens et me sens assez frustrée de ne pas avoir le temps de les faire miennes.
    A Berlin, j'avais fait semblant d'avoir mes habitudes en allant au marché turc et à un marché bio (je ne me souviens plus des noms ?)mais faire des courses sans avoir de cuisine est moins amusant. Mais heureux pic-nic. bises

  19. c'est étrange mais de mon côté, j'ai la nostalgie de routines que je n'ai pas connues. Souvent quand je voyage, j'envie les habitudes des gens et me sens assez frustrée de ne pas avoir le temps de les faire miennes.
    A Berlin, j'avais fait semblant d'avoir mes habitudes en allant au marché turc et à un marché bio (je ne me souviens plus des noms ?)mais faire des courses sans avoir de cuisine est moins amusant. Mais heureux pic-nic. bises

  20. Vanessa, Oscar has such stunning eyes. :)

    Your blog is a little box of treasures. I can't wait for the next post.

  21. J'aimerais avoir des routines aussi agreables le dimanche, m'occuper de moi, flaner un peu. Ce billet me rend nostalgique je dois dire.

    An I really have to try your cheesy scones for a change, I am sure I would love them.

  22. @Dada - Merci pour ces mots si gentils, j'en rougis! Dommage que l'on ne puisse pas prendre le thé ensemble car il y a pleins de trucs chez toi que j'adorerais essayer aussi ;-)
    @Sarah-Lou - Je comprends parfaitement la frustration en vacances. A Venise par exemple, j'aurais adoré m'acheter des ingrédients vraiment extras et puis rentrer faire la cuisine mais évidemment ce n'était pas si simple. Mais si tu reviens à Berlin, tu peux cuisiner chez moi :-)
    @Tracy - Oh thanks so much for your visit. I just love your blog too and yes, you're right about Oscar, he's gorgeous and totally spoiled.
    @Gracienne - Je crois qu'on aime les routines pendant le temps libre car cela nous permet d'échapper au train-train quotidien de travail où nos horaires sont décidés par les autres et cela me donne vraiment le sentiment que le week-end est arrivé. Oscar est très "choosy", c'est la raison pour laquelle j'ai mis ma recette mais j'ai si hâte d'essayer la tienne (comme tout le monde je crois).

  23. Les scones, j'adore ça! J'ai commencé à en réaliser en version salée après avoir adoré les scones sucrés du petit déjeuner, et ta recette au fromage me donne envie d'en refaire prochainement...

  24. Merci Marion! J'aime beaucoup les scones sucrés à la farine de blé aussi en été avec de la crème et de la confiture aux fraises mais la version salée reste ma préférée. La prochaine fois, j'ai envie d'ajouter de la ciboulette.

  25. Bonjour Vanessa, j'ai le plaisir de découvrir à chaque fois de nouvelles choses, un univers que j'aurais beaucoup aimer vivre. Tes photos sont toujours aussi belles et le chat gourmand est sûrement un ancien cuisinier, ;0).

    Passe une très belle semaine.

  26. Ah oui Josée, je crois que tu as tout a fait raison, je n'y avais pas pensé! J'aimerais bien qu'il m'aide dans la cuisine ;-) Je te souhaite une bonne soirée et aussi très belle semaine.