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Cooking with love

Cooking with love

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Many people regard her as the best chef in the whole of the Bregenzerwald: Gabi Strahammer at the "Schulhus" in Krumbach.

It’s not the choice of dishes – deliberately kept small – or the selection of wines – all the more impressive – that make the “Schulhus” restaurant run by Gabi and Herbert Strahammer so very special. Nor is it the freshly picked herbs and mushrooms, the eggs from their own chickens, the vegetables from the garden, the fish from Lake Constance, the meat reared by farmers who are relatives or neighbours, or the carefully selected suppliers. And however outstanding the dishes such as einkorn risotto with mushrooms and blueberries, or pasties filled with tomato ragout, char confit with root vegetables, sautéed rabbit’s livers on a herb salad or saddle of veal with fresh morels may be… it isn’t that, either. The wickedly delicious and unusual flavours of ice cream and sorbet (including sea buckthorn, salted caramel, sorrel and cornelian cherry) don’t account for it, any more than the tempting little semolina dumplings do. Nor is it the occasional, carefully chosen events for winemakers and producers that raise this Krumbach restaurant above the rest, nor even the former schoolhouse building which has been nicely converted into a restaurant with open-plan dining rooms and an inviting sunshine terrace. It is love that makes the difference. Love of good food, love of the work, the product, the cosmopolitan and appreciative guests and, of course, each other. This harmonious atmosphere can be felt and tasted. It is only love that makes everything described above happen. A chef has been at work here for the last 25 years who cooks because she wants to. Not because she has to. Who only prepares ingredients that are fresh that day, that meet her high standards and that she would eat herself. And that she has remained faithful to over the years. She has achieved all this thanks, in no small measure, to Herbert. Not only is he the “soft-centred” host and chef de service, but he even manages to add the finishing touch to Gabi’s creations with his perfect tableware and his knowledge about wine. What’s really nice to see is how, in apprentice Tina, a new talent is being cultivated who shares Gabi’s passion for quality and for foraging – we can look forward to seeing how she develops.
www.schulhus.com

Recipe

Gabi Strahammer’s quark and herb ravioli with toasted walnuts and dried apricots

For 6 servings:

Ravioli dough:
250 g durum wheat semolina for the pasta
250 g whole eggs

Knead together to form a dough and leave to rest in an airtight container in the fridge for about a day.

For the filling:

  • 250 g quark, well drained – I get very good quality from the Sennerei Langenegg alpine dairy (alternatively use cottage cheese)
  • 100 g mixed herbs (nettles, comfrey, parsley, sage, lovage), briefly blanched and finely chopped
  • 80 g finely chopped onion, softened in 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 egg
  • 50 g finely grated Alpine cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Mix all the ingredients, season and spoon into a piping bag with a wide, smooth nozzle.
1 egg, beaten, to glaze.

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 6 walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 2 dried apricots, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped chives

Roll the dough out into very thin sheets – spread the filling over – glaze with the egg and form the ravioli shapes. Simmer gently in salted water for 4 to 5 minutes. Lift out with a slotted spoon and toss in the butter mixture. Heat 1 tbsp butter in a frying pan until it is light brown and sizzling, stir in a few toasted walnuts, the finely sliced dried apricots and freshly chopped chives, mix with the ravioli and serve.