A vegetarian take on Bavarian cuisine

We have been pioneering healthy lifestyle and cooking ever since I can remember. However – being brought up in a place where staple food is clearly much on the meat side and the cuisine rich and heavy this is not so obvious.
I am from Bavaria. Vegetarians and health food enthusiasts were a minority when I was a teenager. Nevertheless my mother had a well run Bio Hotel with exzellent vegetarian food since the 1980’s there, amidst the alpine area of Berchtesgaden and despite a beer brewer, meat eater husband. Well. That must be why she created lovely recipes of Bavarian food with a healthy and vegetarian twist.¬†Let me share one favorite of mine with you, which I learnt is nowadays a new hype in New York City too. I claim we have invented it though! ūüėČ I can proof it: When I opened my vegetarian restaurant in Dubai, in Madinat Jumeirah, I had exactly this dish on the menu in 2008, much loved by our guests.
Trust me it is a worth trying dish. So delicious. Serve it with a side of potato salad. Recipe here. If you are missing the “weeds” used in this recipe, go for the classic lambs lettuce. You will love it too! The recipe can be prepared, and tastes also very good when cold. Ideal for Iftar preparations, as we have still the holy month of Ramadan.
Stay healthy during Ramadan and the hot summer. xx Chef Gabi (currently herself in Bavaria hence the Bavarian flavored Blog post).

Celery Schnitzel
2 portionsimage
What to Buy

1 small Celery root, sliced in 0.5 cm thick, and steamed al dente
20 g whole spelt bread crumbs
20 g whole spelt flour
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 egg
20 ml cream
salt, pepper to taste
1 tbsp coconut oil for frying




How to Make It
Season the steamed celery slices with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Then dip each slice in this order in:

Preheat a non stick pan. Bake the Schnitzel in coconut oil on both sides until golden and crispy.

Chef Gabi’s Tip
Place the celery Schnitzel after baking on kitchen tissues to absorb extra coconut oil.
I serve them with a lemon slice and potato salad. But they also make a great center of a sandwich with pickles for example.


Talise Nutrition on MBC 1

Our latest filming will be aired tomorrow, Friday, at 9 pm, at the Green Apple Show on MBC1…..very excited, and hope you all watch!

I have been very busy at work the last few weeks. Oh what am I saying, the last few months! No chance  for even a short trip abroad to visit my beloved Bavaria, where I come from, to see the winter. Everyone at home is jealous though that I have everyday sunshine and warm weather while they have been freezing and shoveling snow. At least until recently, now finally some signs of spring are in the air.

To cure my longing for Bavaria I cooked some

flavors from home – away from home.

My home grown sweet marjoram (oregano family, but sweeter and milder) is beautiful and just perfect with its fragrant little leaves. Apart from its antioxidative benefits (think eternal youth!) it is a staple seasoning ingredient in Bavarian cuisine. I added it to my very simple but delicious

Potato Vegetable Soup with fresh Marjoram
2 portions

What to Buy
1 carrot, diced
1 parsnip or parsley root (however parsley root is difficult to source here in the Middle East), diced
2 small potatoes, peeled, dicedDSCN4280
1 small leek, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 small piece mace
2 tablespoons olive oil
500 ml vegetable stock
salt, pepper
5 sprigs fresh marjoram, leaves picked

How to Make It
Braise in olive oil until golden the potatoes, parsnip and carrot with bay leaf and mace. Then add the vegetable stock and simmer for around 15 minutes on low heat. Add the leek, season with salt and pepper and serve with fresh marjoram leaves sprinkled all over.

Chef Gabi’s Tip:
I add sometimes dried cepes to the soup – they give this simple soup a significant upgrade! Must try.
This is what I cook at home when I feel not like cooking. A really easy to make recipe.


Bye Bye Bavaria – Welcome back to Dubai

Autumn is on its way, you can clearly tell by the night temperatures falling to 10 degrees Celsius at times in Bavaria. I have decided to increase my knowledge about wild mushrooms (any mushrooms are a great source of protein by the way) and attended one of the rare occasions where experts share their wisdom with the public: I enrolled to a guided tour with THE HOUSE of NATURE in nearby Salzburg on my last days home. Oh wow! It was very interesting, for sure I will use the newly gained insights next year, when I am back.


after a walk through the area our mushrooms got evaluated….

and in the end an impressive line out of all things found got a last informative recap. I truly enjoyed the tour and would come again next time! Special thanks to our dear friend Helmut, who restored energies with a lovely surprise lunch at his impressive Salzburg home, showing how delicious simple food prepared with love is:

By the way, I was all of a sudden very fortunate on one of my private tours in “my” forest:¬†I walked, already a little bit grumpy because the forest was almost empty, when I felt a strong feeling to turn around and look back. It was that silent communication with the forest I sometimes feel and very often it means something. What I saw sitting on the back side of a single tree attracted my attention. A sponge larger than others, and paler than the usual mushrooms. I¬†came closer, and YES!¬†Below rare find¬†is a Sparassis crispa,¬†a 850 g mushroom with a taste¬†resembling to morels. Last time I found a similar mushroom was 8 years ago. So now you know how much my heart jumped when I¬†found it! Needless to say it¬†made a great, proud meal for many friends……

Happily recalling great days home in Berchtesgaden I am now back in Dubai and also back to my busy, yet very interesting and inspiring work life in the UAE. Keep reading this blog and I will update you what I am cooking here in a different scenario, with different food, but still healthy, vegetarian, and delicious!

All Things Wild part 3 – what else is edible out there?

A morning walk through the forest, breathing fresh air and enjoying the quiet, stunning nature is one good thing. But bringing home something delicious from the wilderness that can be of culinary use, I admit, is definitely something my chef’s heart desires. So what I do if I search through the forest soil without success of finding some mushrooms (they sometimes seem to disappear from this planet from time to time)?¬†I go and¬†check my secret places, where a natural spring releases fresh, clear and very often extremely cold water. There I¬†can pick the freshest watercress leaves. Young, delicate, tender and with their typical sharpness of wild cress.

Their taste cannot be compared to cultivated watercress, wild ones are much more intense in flavor. And they are so beneficial for our health, full of chlorophyll, rich in Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B17, C, D, E and K, folic acid, phosphorus, potassium, iron, manganese, copper, sulfur, and silica. Watercress is used to purify the blood, to stimulate the metabolism and digestive tract, acts as a powerful antiviral and antioxidant. However, take small doses of it to not over stimulate.

See one of my mother’s¬†favorite recipes for wild watercress¬†here. It is super delicious and easy to make:

Watercress Flan with Tomato Vinaigrette
4 Portions
What To Buy
250 ml cream
2 eggs
10 small watercress stems, leaves picked
salt and pepper
butter for the forms (ramekins or dariol)
1 ripe tomato, peeled, diced
1 shallot, peeled, diced
2 tablespoons white balsamic
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

How to Make It
Preheat the oven at 170 degrees Celsius. Brush the dariol forms with butter and place in a deep oven tray. Blend the eggs with cream, salt, pepper and watercress in a mixer. Strain through a fine sieve. Pour the liquid into the dariol forms. Pour hot water into the deep oven tray the dariol forms are in and bake the flan at 170 degrees Celsius for around 30 minutes. In the meantime prepare the vinaigrette: Stir tomato and shallot dices with balsamic and olive oil and season it with salt and pepper.
Once the flan is ready (you can check with finger pressure carefully on the surface if slightly firm) take it out of the oven and allow the flan to rest and relax at room temperature for around 5 minutes. Then carefully take it out of the dariol forms and place it on starter plates. Spoon over the tomato vinaigrette and serve warm with oven fresh spelt baguette.

Chef Gabi’s Tip:
Don’t rush the flan to get ready in the oven. Depending on the size of your forms it could take even a bit longer. Make enough time to let it rest after baking. This is important for the flan to stabilize a little bit before you present it on a plate.
I personally love this combination of cressy flavor with eggs. It has a mildness and a sharpness which makes this dish just perfect. But of course you can make a similar flan with other aromatic herbs too, like parsley, dill, basil!

All Things Wild – an addiction

Cepes. The king of the mushrooms. The blossoms of the forest.  Ah, what a delicacy!
Since I can remember my family used to pick fresh cepes in the mountain forests in my home in Bavaria. The reliable places where they can be found have been kept very, very secret within the family.  I learnt as a child from grandmother and grandfather where to find them, when they grow (the moon and weather play an important role), how to recognize them, how to prepare them. And I am still passionate about this. I try to exactly time my summer vacation into the mushroom season to not miss it out. It is my addiction.
At least once a year I want to go by myself and look for mushrooms. I mean the successful finding of wild  mushrooms. Not just searching the forest up and down (rocky path, sometimes very exhausting) without bringing home any delicious fresh cepes. This would be frustrating, especially if you are not such an avid mountain climber as I am. 
This year I am successful. I am here, it is the right time and I know the right places.

Come with me on a morning walk and have a look…..isn’t that beautiful?


I wish you could smell the sizzling cepes in the pan. Traditionally I come home¬† have a first puristic feast with just pan fried cepes¬†in olive oil with just a little garlic and rock salt. Mom’s wonderful dark sourdough bread is a great addition.¬†Nothing else.¬†This is heaven!
In the season even the home¬†is decorated with mushrooms: Table decoration with moss and real mushrooms….

…..and wooden cepes at the kitchen entrance.

Keep reading this blog I will post more about my passionate mushroom adventures soon. 


Healthy Nutrition and The Art of Chefs

My understanding of food has always been related to what it does to our bodies. We are what we eat. Hence cooking has a lot to do with health and nutrition. It is the  foundation of the art of chefs. Together with creativity and excitement it becomes something really great. This is what I have learnt from my mother since my childhood days and which is a major part of my life and my job until now. So it is in hers. We both are cookbook authors. We write about health, nutrition and practical culinary work. This is how we met Klaus Maria Einwanger, who became a dear friend over the years. I am very proud that my mother and I had the chance to work with this creative and renowned photograper. Now he invited us to his latest project: White Plate is an international interactive photo art and culture project.

The first edition of White Plate is between Germany and Great Britain.
We are very honored to be part of your hand picked group of award winning chefs, thank you Klaus! What a golden opportunity to reveal the thoughts behind the work of chefs and capture the essence of their inspiration. When your White Plate Project comes to the United Arab Emirates, we meet in my workplace at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai!


So health, nutrition and wonderful food was in the limelight Рour vision and mission for our intense two day shoot at our house in Berchtesgaden in Bavaria.  
Here Klaus and team at work, indoors and outdoors!












Needless to say we had a paradise of nature around us, supplying freshest local produce – however challenging and quite some fun, at times we desperately searched the forests for the right size model of c√™pe mushrooms to be photographed.¬†¬†We checked the vegetable patch for carrots and leeks, some over sized, some too small for the image! Even weeds like the highly appreciated stinging nettle had their big day. Unfortunately the gardener thought he could mow them down and I was looking around to find survivors hidden between the bushes….

Luckily such work includes a lot of food by nature, and there were culinary breaks in between….
Susanne Hallwich was writing her beautiful texts for the work, you can read on www.white-plate.com. Enjoy!


More about Edible Weeds

Don’t be surprised I am talking about weeds again. And their culinary¬†potential. It is just due to the fact that their presence is in direct interdependence¬†to my (very regular) absence¬†from my garden.
Luckily I am relaxed about weeds in the garden. Because most of them are not just edible, but a culinary upgrade for my cooking. I am cooking a lot with herbs. And with weeds.  Today I harvested and cooked with chickweed (lat: stellaria media), one of my favorites.
The tiny, light green leaves are hiding between salads, under zucchini plants, between parsley and mint Рsimply everywhere. In summer they prefer shade to grow their tender leaves. But you can find them already in early spring until autumn. Even in mild winter. In my kitchen they play often a star part for salads, soups, and garnishes. I love them and cut them like cress. They are equally delicate, delicious and so beneficial. They provide Vitamin C, iron, copper, manganese, zinc and kalium. They help to strenghten the heart and the eyes, cleanse the blood and have a cooling effect.

Chickweed has been even in the limelight and photographed last week in our kitchen cum once-in-a-while-temporary photo studio by a professional photographer and dear friend, Klaus Maria Einwanger for his project www.white-plate.com.  We, my mother and I, are very honored to be part of his culinary art project! More about it soon on this blog.
See how our Majlis looked when Klaus and his creative team were at our home in Berchtesgaden:

If you find chickweed in your vegetable patch, come with a scissor and cut the tips carefully to support continuous growth of this lovely herb/weed. You then could try the following recipe, another bavarian staple of my home:

My Bavarian Potato Salad

What to buy
6 medium size salad potatoes
2 eggs
1 white onion
4 table spoons apple cider vinegar
100 ml vegetable stock
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon agave syrup or acacia honey
6 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1 good handful chickweed (I often substitute it with either curly parsley, wild dandelion leaves or wild watercress)

How to Make It
Steam the washed potatoes in their skin for around 30 minutes until they are entirely soft inside. Peel the skin off the hot potatoes and allow them to cool just a little bit before you slice them. Boil the eggs for 8 minutes and peel them as well. Cut the eggs to wedges. Dice the onion and braise it in olive oil. Add the oil and the onions while still hot to the potatoes. Bring the vinegar, vegetable stock and honey to a boil, stir in the mustard and season with salt and pepper. Gently mix the potatoes with the hot mustard stock. Check the seasoning again, it could be you need to add a little bit more salt or vinegar. Add the eggs and arrange on plates. Garnish generously with the picked and washed chickweed and serve the salad immediately.

Chef Gabi’s Tip
To make a good potato salad is a science. Not really difficult, but a few things are vital to achieve the best result. First: Use salad potatoes. They are totally different to those used for mashed potatoes for example and most important, they don’t fall apart when mixed with the dressing but absorb the delicious liquid. Second: Use warm potatoes, not chilled ones. And use a hot dressing.¬†So they can absorb flavors much better. Third: The Bavarian potato salad has an oily and a watery part in the dressing. Add the oil first to the potatoes and then the vinegar part. So you get the desired¬†shiny and succulent texture. And last: Serve it at room temperature. There is not much worse than¬†fridge cold potato salad.

Enjoy my Bavarian comfort food and don’t forget to check your garden for edible weeds!