valletta |

valletta |

valletta |

I have been to a few places in Europe and so far my favourites were the capitals of Hungary and Portugal. But now Budapest and Lisbon have to move over, as my new number one is Malta. At the beginning of December P was able to take a few days off and he wanted to go on vacation. We didn’t take any this summer because we both worked a lot, so now was the perfect time for a break. We ended up in Malta mostly because the weather was nice. And because I’ve always wanted to go there. I am interested in languages and history, and there’s much to discover about both on this little group of islands.

It turned out that Malta wasn’t the easiest destination to get to for us. We took a train from Dresden to Leipzig and stayed in a hotel to get up very early the next morning in order to take a train to the airport. That morning started great with a kid that refused to get up (I completely understand) and an almost missed train. When we arrived in Düsseldorf, we were supposed to pick up and transfer the luggage, but of course we coldn’t find it in time and missed our connection. Thankfully the airline was very accomodating  and booked us on a new plain to Valletta via Zurich.  We had gotten up at 6 am and finally landed in Valletta at 8 pm where we took three different busses to get to our apartment in Sliema, which is a town close to Valletta. In the past I would have been a little bit anoyed about all the delays and the chaos. But if you travel with a three year old child, your only concern is to keep her in a good mood. And I am still amazed by how calm she was. We had taken books with us to read to her, spent a lot of time on carousels and playgrounds at the airports and tried to keep her occupied somehow. It seems that she is the perfectly calm and patient traveller! I think I also hat such a positive experience in Malta because this was the first vacation with our child that truly enjoyed. In March we went to Mallorca and made the mistake not to take a stroller or push car with us. We ended up carrying our child everywhere and that was not very enjoyable. This time we simply put her in the push car and walked while F was sitting in her stroller singing and talking.

The next day we tried to explore the island. Malta is the most interesting place I have ever been to, I think. So much has been going on on these islands since the stone ages and so many historic monuments have been preserved on so little space. We made a walk around the coast and finally reached a spot where we had the most fantastic view of Valletta, the capital. This city was once built by crusaders, the Knights of St. John. They made Valletta into a fortress and ruled it until Napoleon drew them out.

It’s very easy to get around in Malta. The public transport by bus is slow, but very good and cheap and you can reach every destination by travelling this way. There are also a couple of ferries and cruises which will take you to Valletta or the second biggest island Gozo. The islands are small but highly populated and urban. Every person speaks both Maltese and English so you will have no problems getting around. We took the ferry from Sliema to Valletta, which was much faster than the bus and only took ten minutes. We walked around the city to find the St. John’s Co-Cathedral, where we wanted to look at two Caravaggio paintings. Unfortunately it was a public holiday and the church was closed in between services. Malta has a long Catholic history and you can see the big role the church and the Catholic belief play or have played here on every street corner. Houses are often decorated with little sculptures and tiles that picture prominent Catholic characters.

tiles |

tiles |
The churches in Malta are quite impressive. One day after a walk through Ħal Tarxien and Paola (Raħal Ġdid), two places famous for prehistoric temples, this huge parish church popped out of nowhere. The light building with the shiny roofs was very beautiful to look at with the blue sky and the sea in the background.

paola parish church |

In Ħal Tarxien we visited the Megalithic temples. We have lots of old sites in the area where I grew up, but I have never seen anything nearly as striking as these ruins.

tarxien temples |

tarxien temples |

tarxien temples |

Malta is a very small country and it’s kind of isolated from other countries because it’s an island group. You cannot just get there by simply walking over an European border. I come from a large country with several big cities, a very long history, and nine neighbour countries which all are part of our history somehow. Much of that history sometimes gets lost because there is an infinite number of pieces you have to put together and they are all over the place. There are so many places, so many people, so many events. Of course Malta’s history is like that, too. Especially since it has been occupied so many times due to geostrategic reasons. These occupations are a big part of the Maltese culture: the first official language derived from an Arabic dialect, influenced by Italian and written in Latin. The second official language and the left-hand traffic brought by the British. The Catholic church and belief brought by the Maltese knights, and so on. But Malta is also small. On this tiny island group with very small distances and a very urban infrastructure, you can find history everywhere and you can put together the bits and pieces yourself without travelling far.

You also don’t have to travel far when you want vegan food. I have read quite some complaints about Malta not being vegan friendly but I didn’t find them to be true. It is definitely true that on these islands vegan restaurants don’t pop up at every corner as it is the fashion in several European cities right now. It shows that we have bee spoiled lately amd many complaints are simply about missing convenience. When I travel food is not my main concern. I want to get around and see things. I want to explore a city, a country, an area. I want to get to know people and learn about their culture and life. I don’t mind living on potato crisps and white bread for a day. Although that is definitely not neccesary in Malta. The local cuisine is very heavy on meat, but there is an abundance of Italian restaurants, too. Since everybody speaks English, it is absolutely no problem to order a vegan pizza or a vegan pasta dish. This is what I had for dinner in Sliema one evening. I don’t remember the place, but it was an Italian restaurant at the harbour:

pizza |

This was the pizza marinara from the menu, which had items marked as vegetarian, lactose free, etc. I probably could have gotten a pizza with vegetables as well but I liked this! F had pasta marinara and that is basically what she lived on during our trip. Sliema also has several Arabic restaurants that we unfortunately never got to try because they were either closed or too crowded. I assume that they have vegan options, too. (Kebab Ji and Mamounia are example – to be fair, we tried to eat out on a public holiday.)

Mint is another option for vegan food in Sliema. They have a counter where all the food is displayed so I wasn’t sure if it’s an option to get something customised. They usually close already at 4 pm, so we decided to go there for breakfast. The vegan items were limited to lasagna, a bean salad, and a rhubarb ginger crumble (vegan without ice cream). Since I am not a very big breakfast eater I chose a small serving of bean salad and the crumble. The salad was nothing special but the crumble was very good!

Mint, Sliema (Malta) |

Mint, Sliema (Malta) |

In Valletta we had lunch at Soul Food, which is a very small Italian restaurant in the centre of the capital and the have several vegan and vegetarian options. I had a burger patty with some side dishes. You can choose what kind of patty you want and I went with the chickpea variety, which was very dry, unfortunately.

Soul Food, La Valletta, Malta |

We ate out only on these few occasions, most of the time we cooked food in our apartment. The supermarkets carry lots of fresh vegetables, you can get all kinds of pulses, plant based milks and Alpro soy yoghurt, fresh bread, hummus, and other spreads and so on. Many foods are imported from the UK, Germany, Austria, or Italy and the supermarket frequency is not very high. You can find many small grocery stores though which are open on public holidays and weekends. Malta has several markets where you can buy fresh food, too. We had fresh bread for breakfast every morning and I topped it with jam, hummus or bigilla, which is a vegan bean spread available all over the islands.

Malta is a very beautiful country with lots of interesting places to visit, it’s easy to get around and you can see a lot even with a toddler, because distances are short. We’ve enjoyed simply walking  trough streets or around the coast all days long. Of course we had to explore playgrounds with F, too. There were plenty, especially along the coast. Temperatures in December were always around 18°-20°C and even though it’s one of the rainiest months, we only had one rainy day. It was really hard to leave and I am already dreaming of going back!

street in tarxien |


Zuckerguss Zine Free Baking Ebook |Contains 15 Vegan Baking recipes for the Holiday season and Christmas |

For us Christmas season starts two or three days before Christmas. Before that we don’t bother with Christmas at all. We know we’re going to be welcomed in perfectly decorated houses and we just have to fall into line with our families’ schedules. We know what’s going to happen and when. There’s not much to be done for us. Except for baking. My family doesn’t bake much and even though my father makes vegan meals during the holidays he leaves the vegan baking to me. Our other relatives also don’t do much vegan baking. So every year before we travel all over Germany I spend the last few days in the kitchen. It’s messy and chaotic and I usually do five things at a time. But in the end I can leave with a suitcase full of homemade treats to share with family and friends.

I am thankful for the fact that the people I care about love my food. I know vegans who have a hard time during the holidays and it’s sad to hear that someone refuses your cookie just because you didn’t use butter. I have made those experiences too, but most of the time people go out of their way to whip up a vegan treat for me. And if they can’t they ask about recipes and baking tips. It’s a great way to break the ice and start a conversation about veganism. I try to do the best I can when baking and I try to give out samples to as many people as possible. I know it’s only a little start but I think it’s great when I can convince someone that baking without eggs and butter is not rocket science and that vegan cookies taste as good as every other cookie.

This year I thought I’d hand out some recipes with my treats. Of course everything got a little out of hand and as a result I am exited to share my first ebook with you. Zuckerguss means sugar glaze. It’s what makes every cookie even sweeter and more beautiful. For me, it’s the best part about Christmas baking. It makes me happy like maintaining this blog makes me happy. So this book is not only for people who ask me about recipes, it’s also a big “Thank you!” for everyone who reads my blog, takes the time to comment on my entries, and tries out my recipes. I really do appreciate the time you spend here and it always makes me happy to hear back from people from all over Europe, Northern and even South America. The ebook contains 15 baking recipes plus 4 basic recipes for spice blends, a chocolate hazelnut spread, and my favourite spice cookie recipe (spekulatius). I know it’s probably not necessary if you’re a regular reader of this blog but I’m still gonna warn you: Almost all of the recipes do contain white wheat flour, white sugar and soy. Many of the recipes also call for nuts. I mostly use refined coconut oil for baking which is a very cheap staple here and (with some adjustments) a great alternative to margarine made with palm oil.

Like everything on this website this ebook is free. I would be very happy if you would spread the word and please feel free to share the link to the Zuckerguss Zine with your family and friends and on social media or your blog. Developing the recipes, taking the pictures, and assembling the contents was great fun but also much work and it took a lot of time. Please do not republish the contents of this ebook without my permission. If you have any questions, suggestions, or problems, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or contact me through email or on facebook. Let me know what you think, I hope you enjoy! Let me know what you’ve made!



Zuckerguss Zine Free Baking Ebook |


1. Spekulatius Nutella Bars | Almond Lebkuchen Pull-apart Bread | Peanut Crescents

2. Stollen Waffles | Cashew Fudge | Almond Cinnamon Cookies

3. Spekulatius Tiramisú | Lebkuchen (Pepperkaker) | Elisenlebkuchen

4. Marzipan Jam Cookies | Blackforest Cheesecake | Coconut Spice Mini Cakes

5. Chocolate Almond Pillows | Almond Pistachio Cookies | Mini Apple Cranberry Pies with Walnuts

{plus: spekulatius spice blend | lebkuchen spice blend | spekulatius recipe | holiday chocolate hazelnut spread}

I still remember the impressive roesti I used to order at a vegetarian restaurant in Leipzig: It was a huge, crispy potato fritter topped with spiralised, deep fried onions, and guacamole. Even though we moved to Dresden a long time ago and the restaurant closed a couple of years back I will never forget this dish. To me that restaurant was a special place. It was not only because I could chose whatever I wanted from the menu. I think that at this restaurant I realised that vegetarian cuisine can be an independent cuisine with food that is interesting, unique, satisfying. A cuisine not about the meat that’s missing but about different ingredients and tastes. In my hometown I was used to the menus of restaurants specialising in German cuisine. Going to a restaurant meant a lot of sweating and being good at finding those two or three hidden vegetarian dishes somewhere on page four or five, right after 20 varieties of schnitzel. So when I went to this place in Leipzig I was very exited and at the same time very overwhelmed. Thankfully the menu did not only list fancy items. They also had a couple of basic dishes that I could identify as something I knew. Roesti, a large potato fritter, was one of them. The dish was made from only a couple of simple and cheap staples like potatoes and onions. Still it was prepared so well and tasted so perfect, that I will never forget this meal.

I admit that my own roesti version will never be as good as the one I used to get at this vegetarian restaurant in Leipzig. With a simple trick I was still able to turn this meal into something special for me. And I did save a root vegetable from becoming a stock ingredient. Don’t misunderstand me, homemade vegetable stock is something awesome. But that poor celeriac needs more attention. It’s a fantastic starchy vegetable with basically the same characteristics as potatoes but with much more flavour. You can cut it into vegetable fries or mash it and you can even turn it into a schnitzel. Of course you could make these fritters with other root vegetables, too. Or mix up the ingredients and use potatoes and celeriac or celeriac and beets. Carrots would also be awesome in this. The only thing you have to keep in mind is to be very careful and patient while frying the roesti. Traditionally these are bigger and they are cooked with a plate covering them to make them cook faster at a low temperature. I made smaller versions and simply used a very large spatula to flip them.


Celeriac Roesti with Roasted Onions and Avocado Mash (makes 5-6 10 cm roesti or two servings)

For the roasted onions:

one large red onion

1 tablespoon oil

salt for sprinkling

For the fritters:

300 g (10.6 oz) celeriac, grated

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

oil for frying

For the avocado mash:

1 ripe Hass avocado

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika

salt and pepper, to taste

To make the onions: Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the onion into 1/2 cm (1/4 inch) thick slices and place them on the baking sheet. Brush with oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until the onions have browned.

To make the fritters: Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Preheat a non-stick pan to medium temperature and add about 1 tablespoon of oil for frying. Use about 2 tablespoons of the celeriac mixture per fritter and place it in the pan. Use a spoon to press down the celeriac and push the edges together to shape the fritters. Cook for about 10 minutes. (Lower the heat if the fritters brown too fast.) Use a spatula the size of the fritter and carefully flip it. If it breaks apart just press and push it again. Cook for another five minutes. Make sure to add more oil after you’ve flipped the fritters and when you add a new batch of fritters to the pan. Prepare the mash while the fritters are cooking.

To make the mash: Mash the avocado with a fork, add remaining ingredients and mix well. Serve the fritters with mash and top with onions.

cranberry butterscotch flapjacks |

Flapjacks were the first cookie bars I actually made years ago when I had no clue about baking. I really love that you almost cannot mess them up. (I used to mess up a lot of baked goods.) Usually they are simple and consist of only a few ingredients. They are my stand-by cookies when I am out of flour for example, or need a snack that keeps well and is easy to transport. To make them a bit fancier, I used a butterscotch flavoured syrup that I got at my favourite shop here in Dresden. It consists of invert sugar syrup and flavourings, so it works like regular corn syrup or golden syrup, which is often used in bars like these. The syrup improves both the texture and colour, it makes them all shiny and chestnut-coloured. And of course it adds this amazing buttery toffee syrup. I added cranberries and almonds but I think this recipe is quite adaptable. For example you could use butterscotch chips instead of the cranberries. Of course you can use raisins instead of the cranberries and you could leave out the almonds as well for a simpler and cheaper version.

Note: I used this brand of butterscotch syrup but there are other brands, too. A German equivalent would be this kind of syrup. If you don’t have access to butterscotch syrup at all, you can use agave nectar, rice syrup or corn syrup instead. This will change the flavour but should not affect the texture. Please keep in mind that the baking time might be shorter when using agave syrup.


Cranberry Butterscotch Flapjacks (makes 16 bars)

150 g (3/4 cup) sugar
80 g (6 tablespoons) soft refined coconut oil
200 g (2 cups) rolled oats
125 g (1 cup) cranberries
100 g (1 cup) slivered almonds
4 tablespoons butterscotch syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a rectangular pan (28 x 18 cm or 11 x 7 inch) with parchment paper. Beat sugar and oil until creamy. Add remaining ingredients and knead with your hands until everything is mixed well. Press into the pan and bake for 23 minutes. Let cool completely before slicing and serving.

cranberry butterscotch flapjacks |