25 July 2011

Katrin's Summer Beans

No, I haven't disappeared. I've not been cooking much, since I've been on this diet. Roast chicken, grilled steak, fish with leeks and tomatoes. You've either seen these recipes or you don't need them. So I haven't been posting. MISTAKE! Because we've been travelling....

Last weekend we went to Dresden, to visit our friends Katrin and Berndt. We love to visit them for many reasons: first, because no matter how long it's been since we saw them, it never seems like we've lost touch. Second, because the conversation is always lively and interesting. Then there's the fact that they have three cats, two of which are lap lovers. But we can't leave out the fact that they're wonderful cooks!

When we planned this trip I explained that I was on a strict diet: no starches, no sugars (including fruit), no fats. No problem, they said. And for them it wasn't. We ate well while we were there, and one of the things we had that I couldn't get enough of was Katrin's beans.

Before we had the beans, though, we had a visit to Old Dresden. Dresden was destroyed in WWII. Totally. There was nothing left of the town. Since then, they've rebuilt the palace and the cathedral and surrounding buildings: the Opera house and the Zwinger and some museums and most recently, the Frauenkirche. These reconstructions give us an idea of what Dresden was like before the bombing. 

It was Baroque. No, that's not it—it was BAROQUE. Everywhere there are elaborate buildings, carvings, facades, golden statues, lace carved in stone. We walked for hours through the past glories and modern conveniences of this beautiful city. 

The Fraunkirche

Stairs in the Zwinger

This reminds me of my childhood. I was the one in the helmet...

I like this guy. He looks like he's trying to get out!
Back at Katrin and Berndt's house, we began to prepare for dinner. They are both great cooks, and meals at their house are always lots of fun. Berndt is a very intuitive cook, pulling together amazing combinations of flavors. Katrin is a cook in the Italian style, taking fresh ingredients and doing just enough to them to bring out their natural flavors. That's what she did with these beans—she married them with some perfectly ripened tomatoes and some herbs from the garden. A splash of vinegar, a grinding of salt and pepper and that's all they needed. These are my new favorite summer dish.

While I haven't disappeared, I AM disappearing: 7.7 kilos / 17 pounds lost so far!

Katrin's Summer Beans

250 g / ½ lb green beans
4 medium sized tomatoes
Some good vinegar
Fresh herbs, chopped
Salt and pepper
Juice of ½ lemon or lime

  • Top and tail the beans.
  • Cook them as you like. I steam them, Katrin boils them. The most important thing is to not overcook them.
  • While the beans are cooking, cut the tomatoes into small wedges. I cut them into quarters and then I cut each quarter into thirds. Put them into a bowl with the juice and the seeds.
  • Add a grinding of salt and pepper and mix.
  • When the beans are done the way you like them, drain them and run cold water over them to cool them down and stop them cooking. Cut them into pieces about the same size as the tomato pieces.
  • Add the beans to the tomatoes and dress with some good vinegar. Katrin had some tarragon vinegar that she had made. I used balsamic.
  • Chop whatever herbs you have and add them.
  • Squeeze the lemon or lime over, taste and adjust the seasonings.

Serves 4 if they like it and 10 f they don't.

  • If you're not on a diet, you can add a splash of good olive oil. It makes a wonderful vinaigrette around the beans and tomatoes. It has the added benefit of making the people around you who are on a diet hate you.
  • Berndt says that you need a pinch of sugar too, to sweeten the tomatoes. He's usually right about things like that. I'll tell you what I think after my diet is finished...
  • The herbs here need to be fresh. I used tarragon, thyme, cilantro, parsley and a little bit of mint. The mint adds a fresh note.


La Table De Nana said...

Looks like a lovely trip:)

And the beans sound wonderful too~
Glad you were having fun!

marijke said...

Lovely pictures of Dresden Kate. And the salad looks great too. I make a similar dish but than with an onion sweated in a bit of olive oil, the tomatoes added until they have lost most of their moisture, than the herbs and the al dente cooked beans. Winter variation, great with rice and fish.

Susan Lindquist said...

Hi Kate! Glad to see you back for a bit! The bean recipe comes just in time, as our green beans are starting to come fast from the backyard garden! Thanks for another healthy take on them! Excellent work on your diet! Keep it up! You'll be trim and lithe the rate you're going!

Linda said...

These look fabulous!
I give you credit...hard to be in Germany without eating any of those are my hero!
Missed you!

Charissa said...

Haha, looks great! Love the way you write!
And congrats on your diet, what kind are you doing? You must have some stamina! Good on you!

The Gypsy Chef said...

We've been harvesting beans from the garden. Now I know what to do with them. Yum! I'm glad your back to blogging and I'm back to reading.

Hungry Dog said...

The beans sound great, as does your trip! What fun. And, congratulations on your 17 lbs. That is a lot of weight! You should be proud.