eat in my kitchen

To cook, to bake, to eat and to treat.

Crayfish and Beetroot Mousse Sandwich – a Swedish Lobster Roll

Crayfish and Beetroot Mousse Sandwich

Today is a special day and a special day calls for a special sandwich!

My favourite Swedish baker in Berlin, Malin, releases her wonderful book today named after her exciting project, The Bread Exchange! It’s a gem packed with lots of stories and recipes from her bread trading trips which took her around the world. This is a day to celebrate, so I asked Malin to give me her signature black bread for the October edition of our eat in my kitchen x The Bread Exchange sandwich. I wanted to come up with something that’s a bit more spectacular and luscious, a creation that can stand up to the dramatic look of the bread which Malin achieves by mixing charcoal powder into the dough (another discovery from her bread trading adventures). One of the most luxurious sandwiches I know is the lobster roll and that gave me the idea to create a Swedish adaptation of this classic. Crayfish, also known as freshwater lobster, beetroot mousse, freshly whipped mayonnaise and dill on thick slices of black sourdough bread! The colours looked stunning but the taste was even better, sweet and creamy!

When I decided to go for crayfish for this sandwich, I didn’t think about the preparation. So as soon as I called the fish monger to make my order, I realized that I would have to cook the crustaceans alive to kill them. I’d never done that before but after I got instructions from Malin (and with my boyfriend at my side for support), I felt ready to give it a go. I can’t say that it’s a nice experience but it’s an important one. It makes us appreciate the food that we prepare in our kitchens even more. I’m not a vegetarian, therefore animals are killed for my diet, it’s part of the cycle and I prefer to be involved in the whole process which leads to the food on my plate.

If you would like to find out more about Malin’s The Bread Exchange project or get the book, you can take a look here.

Crayfish and Beetroot Mousse Sandwich

 

Crayfish and Beetroot Mousse Sandwich

Crayfish and Beetroot Mousse Sandwich – A Swedish Lobster Roll

For 4 people you need

crayfish, cooked or alive, 16
sourdough bread 8 slices
dill, snipped, a small bunch

If the crayfish are alive, wash them in cold water (discard the ones that aren’t alive). In a large pot, bring lots of water to the boil. Make sure that the water stays boiling hot when you put the crayfish in. Do this one at a time so that the temperature doesn’t drop (wait a few seconds after you’ve dropped one in). When all the crayfish are in the pot cook them for another 1-2 minutes until they all turn red. Take them out of the pot, drain them and let them cool for a few minutes. Peel the meat out of the hard shells and cut into thick slices.

If the crafish are already cooked, just slice the meat.

For the beetroot mousse

beetroot, unpeeled, 1 (you will need 100g / 3.5 ounces for the mousse)
bay leaf 1
olive oil 1 tablespoon
salt

Cook the beetroot with the bay leaf in salted water for 45 minutes or until the root is soft. Purée 100g / 3.5 ounces of the beetroot in a blender with the olive oil and season with salt.

 

For the mayonnaise

organic egg yolks 2
olive oil 50ml / 2 ounces
freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 tablespoon
sour cream or crème fraîche 2 teaspoons
a pinch of salt

Drop the egg yolks into a mug which should be just big enough for a stick mixer to fit in it. Start mixing and slowly pour in the oil. When the dip is thick and creamy season with salt and lemon juice and stir in the sour cream.

 

To assemble the sandwich

Spread some mayonnaise on a slice of bread, add dollops of the beetroot mousse and the sliced crayfish meat on top. Sprinkle with dill and a bit more mayonnaise and close the sandwich with another slice of bread.

Crayfish and Beetroot Mousse Sandwich

 

Crayfish and Beetroot Mousse Sandwich

 

Crayfish and Beetroot Mousse Sandwich

 

Crayfish and Beetroot Mousse Sandwich

 

Crayfish and Beetroot Mousse Sandwich

 

Crayfish and Beetroot Mousse Sandwich

 

Crayfish and Beetroot Mousse Sandwich

 

Crayfish and Beetroot Mousse Sandwich

Crespelle with Radicchio, Potato and Thyme

Radicchio, Potato and Thyme Crespelle

It took me a while to use radicchio not only raw for salads but cooked as well. It was a late discovery, but once I tried it, I loved it, especially for the Italian cuisine! One of my favourites is linguine with radicchio, mustard butter and sautéed chicken liver. My friend Judith told me about this recipe and it became a winter pasta classic in my kitchen. Or my purple risotto with spices and thyme, the colour is beautiful and the mixture of cloves, bay leaf and red wine is so aromatic and rich. Radicchio is great, it’s so strong, its unique bitterness is so dominant that it asks for more flavours to be added to it.

A couple days ago I mentioned that we had family from LA staying with us, so our days were split between walking through the city for some sightseeing and food, either from my kitchen or from one of the great places we visited. Italian restaurants, German restaurants, department stores (we focussed on the fish section), various cafés specialized in German cake, American cake or chocolates from all over the world. We savored for days, as always!

Coming back to the purple radicchio and to one of our lunches at home, I cooked crespelle for us one day, filled with a bitter sweet stuffing of radicchio, potatoes and thyme. I used the herb to refine the pancake dough and the filling which made it come though quite strong. It added a bit more taste to the crepes which would have been to soft for this filling on their own. All the bitterness and sweetness wrapped in these thin pancakes with a creamy Béchamel sauce inside and on top made us all enjoy in silence for a short while, until our delicious Italian wraps were gone!

Here’s a springy green version of my crespelle that I wrote about in March, filled with spinach.

Radicchio, Potato and Thyme Crespelle

 

Radicchio, Potato and Thyme Crespelle

Radicchio, Potato and Thyme Crespelle

For 4 filled crespelle you need

radicchio, quartered and sliced, 300g / 10.5 ounces
potatoes, cooked, sliced and quartered, 400g / 14 ounces
fresh thyme leaves 2 tablespoons
garlic,  finely chopped, 2
red wine 60ml / 2 ounces
Balsamico vinegar 1 teaspoon
fresh parmesan, grated, 2 tablespoons
olive oil
salt and pepper

In a large pan, heat a splash of olive oil, add the garlic and radicchio and sauté for about 4 minutes or until soft on medium heat. Deglaze with the red wine, take off the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of thyme and the vinegar. Season with salt, pepper and vinegar to taste.

 

For the Béchamel sauce

milk 600ml
butter 30g / 1 ounce
plain flour 30g / 1 ounce
bay leaf 1
a pinch of nutmeg, grated
salt and pepper

Mix the milk with the nutmeg, salt and pepper and bring to the boil.

Melt the butter and whisk in the flour, let it cook on medium heat for 1 minute. Take off the heat and slowly add the hot milk, continue mixing until smooth. Add the bay leaf, salt pepper and nutmeg and cook for around 5 minutes on lowest heat until the texture is thick and smooth. Take the bay leaf out and season to taste.

 

For the crespelle

milk 160ml
organic eggs 2
plain flour 130g / 4.5 ounces
salt 1/4 teaspoon
fresh thyme leaves 1 tablespoon
butter for frying

Mix the ingredients well and let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Heat some butter in a large pan and fry 4 thin crespelle, one at a time, golden on both sides.

 

To assemble

Set the oven to 200°C (top/ bottom heat).

Lay a crespelle flat on a plate, spread with 1/4 of the radicchio and potatoes and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the Béchamel sauce on top, roll into a wrap. Continue until all four are done and put them next to each other in a baking dish. Pour the remaining sauce on top and sprinkle with parmesan. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Switch on the grill for the last 1-2 minutes, this makes the crespelle a little bit crisp.

Radicchio, Potato and Thyme Crespelle

 

Radicchio, Potato and Thyme Crespelle

 

Radicchio, Potato and Thyme Crespelle

 

Radicchio, Potato and Thyme Crespelle

Green Beans, Pear and Walnut Salad with Bacon Bits

Green Beans, Pear and Walnut Salad

Pears and walnuts are not only visually a perfect match, be it mixed in a salad with chicory or on a sandwich with melted Stilton, this sweet and nutty combination is the start of many great dishes!

For today’s salad I mixed in some local green beans before their season finishes. As much as I like them sautéed with some wine, thyme and summer savory, I almost prefer them in salads. I blanche the beans until they are al dente to keep their freshness and leave them quite crisp. The dressing for my salad comes from the juices of the crunchy bacon bits which I added as a topping. I fry the tiny cubes in their own fat until they turn into crumbly crisps and deglaze them with white Balsamico vinegar. The vinegar’s smooth acidity combines perfectly with the oily juices and makes a hearty dressing, a bit salty but fruity!

Green Beans, Pear and Walnut Salad

Green Beans, Pear and Walnut Salad with Bacon 

For 4 people you need

green beans, ends cut off, 500g / 1 pound
crisp pear, cored and cut into slices, 1
bacon, cut into small cubes, 100g / 3.5 ounces
walnuts, broken into pieces, 10
Balsamico vinegar 40ml / 1.5 ounces
olive oil 1 tablespoon
salt and pepper

Blanche the beans in lots of salted water for about 5 minutes until al dente, drain and rinse for 1-2 seconds with cold water.

In a large heavy pan, heat the olive oil and cook the bacon on medium-high temperature for a few minutes until golden brown and crunchy, stirring in between. Deglaze the bacon with vinegar, stir and take off the heat.

In a large bowl, mix the beans with the bacon and vinegar juices and season with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the pear, bacon and walnuts on top.

Green Beans, Pear and Walnut Salad

 

Green Beans, Pear and Walnut Salad

 

Green Beans, Pear and Walnut Salad

 

Green Beans, Pear and Walnut Salad

Hazelnut and Buckwheat Cake with Cinnamon Icing Sugar

Hazelnut and Buckwheat Cake

Family guests from LA! Our American grandfather Jim and his wife Gina came to visit us and – as always when guests stay with us – we let the feast begin from day one! When they arrived at noon, we sat down at our long wooden table and we only got up in the early evening, after hours of savoring. I carried one dish after the other to the table, so much so, that at one point my boyfriend stated I must have mistaken his grandparents for goats! There was so much to talk about, so many memories and stories to share, so much to show after years of not seeing each other, that a good amount of nice food seemed like the perfect company for a day like that. Also, it was a very successful way to fight their jet lag. 9 hours of time difference and my food kept them awake till 9!

One of my personal table highlights of that first day was my hazelnut and buckwheat cake. I love to welcome friends and family with a cake on the table. The sweet smell of freshly baked food in the house wakes you up even after the longest flight and makes you feel home right away! I had been in the mood for a cake like that for days, simple and spongy with the deep flavour of hazelnuts and I got what I asked for. I made the dough with ground nuts and buckwheat which adds a nuttiness to it that I wouldn’t have achieved with wheat or spelt flour. It’s a very popular combination in the Tyrolean mountains which always start to have a growing influence on my cooking and baking as soon as the temperatures drop. So it’s a mountain cake, honest and rich in taste, refined with lots of cinnamon mixed in and sprinkled on top with some icing sugar.

I wanted to put even more food on the table, but at one point, they all stopped me. My plan was to finish the day off with my famous Swabian Cheese Spaetzle, hearty cheese and onions with homemade southern noodles, but they didn’t let me go back to my kitchen! I saved it for another night and dinner and they loved it, like the Blue Cheese Crackers, Beluga Lentils with Pear, Tyrolean Plum Dumplings, Sicilian Chard, Radicchio Crespelle and all the other goodies I will write about in the coming days!

Hazelnut and Buckwheat Cake

 

Hazelnut and Buckwheat Cake

 Hazelnut and Buckwheat Cake

For one 26cm / 10″ springform pan 0r two 18cm / 7″ pans you need

ground hazelnuts 225g / 8 ounces
buckwheat flour 225g / 8 ounces
sugar 200g / 7 ounces
cinnamon 1 teaspoon plus more for the dusting
baking powder 4 1/2 teaspoons
a pinch of salt
butter, at room temperature, 250g / 9 ounces
organic eggs 6

Set the oven to 180°C / 350°F (fan assisted oven).

Combine the dry ingredients.

Beat the egg whites and salt until stiff.

Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time and continue mixing for a few minutes until the mixture is thick and creamy. 

Gently fold the dry mixture and the egg whites with a wooden spoon into the butter and sugar mixture, alternating, 1/3 at a time, combining well in between.

Bake for 35 minutes (or a bit shorter if you use smaller pans) or until golden brown on top. Check with a skewer, it should come out clean.

Hazelnut and Buckwheat Cake

 

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Hazelnut and Buckwheat Cake

 

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Zucchini Risotto with crisp Sage

Zucchini Risotto with crisp Sage

There’s something about fresh sage cooked in a little olive oil to the point of perfection! When the thick leaves become all glossy and golden, crisp and so full of flavour that they turn a simple dish into a fragrant composition with such ease – that’s exactly what this bunch of herbal crunchiness did with my simple risotto!

Our dinner started innocent and pure, I just cooked my Arborio rice with some chopped onions in white wine and broth before I mixed in juicy slices of golden sautéed zucchini. The vegetable added a fruitiness which made the whole composition light and fresh, but the crisp sage leaves on top put it on another level. The rich oil they cooked in was an aromatic concentrate of the herbs best qualities, warm and strong! When I arranged the risotto on the plates, I poured this herbal essence over the rice to coat them with this golden syrup.

That’s the secret to a great risotto (and not only for risotto), combining just a handful of ingredients that allow their individual qualities to spark!

Zucchini Risotto with crisp Sage

 

Zucchini Risotto with crisp Sage

Zucchini Risotto with crisp Sage

For 4 people you need

zucchini, cut in half and sliced, 350g / 12.5 ounces
sage leaves 30
Arborio rice 400g / 14 ounces
medium sized onion, finely chopped, 2
vegetable broth around 1800ml / 4 pints (depending on the rice you will need more or less liquid)
white wine 120ml / 4 ounces
salt and black pepper
olive oil
butter 1 tablespoon

Sauté the zucchini in a little olive oil in a pan until golden on both sides and soft. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

In a small sauce pan, heat 6 tablespoons of olive oil and add the sage leaves. Let them fry until golden and crisp, for about 1 minute but mind that they don’t turn dark, set the pan aside.

In a large pot, heat a splash of olive oil and the butter, add the onions and cook on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes until soft. Stir in the rice and cook on medium heat for about a minute. Add the wine and some of the broth, the rice should be covered, stir and turn the heat down to medium-low. When the liquid has been absorbed add more broth, a little at a time stirring in between. Depending on the rice, it will need more or less liquid. When the rice is al dente and the broth is more or less absorbed take it off the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Close with a lid and let the risotto sit for a minute.

Divide the risotto and zucchini between the plates, sprinkle with some of the sage oil and top with crisp sage leaves, serve immediately.

Zucchini Risotto with crisp Sage

 

Zucchini Risotto with crisp Sage

 

Zucchini Risotto with crisp Sage

meet in your kitchen | The Deyerling’s Venison Burger with Bavarian Potato Salad

Sitzfeldt

When I met Anna and Clemens Deyerling for the first time, I noticed the blind understanding and wordless communication between them that only close siblings can have. They know and respect each others roles, in their private life but also in business as they decided to start a company together with their partner Julius, an old friend of Clemens’. In 2010, Sitzfeldt was born, the beginning of an exciting journey and the start of a young online business for affordable design furniture. The Deyerlings come from a family background of furniture and design and they wanted to continue this family tradition, but in their own way. They sat together with designers who already were or became friends over the years and developed various sofa collections. One of them, the Set sofa system, already won the Interior Innovation Award and the renowned Red Dot Design Award.

A few months ago, the young entrepreneurs presented a selection of their collections in one of Berlin’s old manorial flats. One spacious room followed the other, separated with large double wing doors, high ceilings decorated with opulent stucco and beautiful timbering on the walls. The siblings chose an amazing location for the presentation but they also managed to create a beautiful evening with great people and food. One of the (not insignificant) reasons why I still remember that day so clearly are Clemens’ skills in the kitchen, this man can cook! He treated us to a buffet of various soups and dips, fresh bread and wine and everybody loved it! On that day, Anna was the perfect host, she’s not only responsible for the creative presentation of the design which led to a very comfortable atmosphere, but her soft and warm way makes you feel welcome right away. So while her brother was busy in the kitchen on his own (if you read the interview, you’ll know why) we got lost in chatting. When I met the two siblings in Anna’s gorgeous flat this week for our meet in your kitchen feature, the roles were more or less the same, us chatting while Clemens was cooking.

Clemens made a fantastic venison burger – called Fleischpflanzerl where he comes from – with the most amazing meat from a butcher in the Brandenburg area outside Berlin, accompanied by a light warm Bavarian potato salad inspired by the region where they grew up, the south of Germany.

If you live in Berlin or Cologne, you could also visit the Sitzfeldt showrooms and see what the Deyerlings and their designer friend’s have created:
www.sitzfeldt.com/sofa-berlin
www.sitzfeldt.com/sofa-koeln

Sitzfeldt

 

Sitzfeldt

Venison Burger with warm Bavarian Potato Salad

 For 4 people you need

For the burgers

minced venison 500g / 1 pound
white bread, rind cut off, 3 slices
milk 80ml / 3 ounces
medium sized onion, finely chopped, 1
eggs 2
orange zest 1/2 teaspoon
lemon zest 1/2 teaspoon
mustard 2 teaspoons
fresh parsley, chopped, a small bunch
dried or fresh marjoram, chopped, 1 teaspoon
freshly grated nutmeg
salt 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons
pepper
olive oil

Soak the bread in the milk for a few minutes. Tear the bread into pieces and mix with your fingers.

Cook the onion in a little olive oil until soft. Whisk the eggs, mustard, orange and lemon zest and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Mix the minced meat with the bread/ milk mixture, the onions, the egg mixture, marjoram and parsley and form the burgers.

In a large, heavy pan, heat a splash of oil and cook the burgers on medium heat until golden brown on both sides and cooked through.

 

For the potato salad

warm, waxy potatoes, cooked, peeled and sliced, 1kg / 2 1/4 pounds
medium sized onion, chopped, 1
garden radish, thinly sliced, 4
cucumber, peeled, cut in half and sliced, 1/2
chives, snipped, 1-2 tablespoons
olive oil

For the dressing

broth, hot, 400ml / 13.5 ounces
red wine vinegar 3-5 tablespoons
mustard 1 tablespoon
salt and sugar

Cook the onions in a little olive oil until soft.

Mix the hot broth with the vinegar and mustard and season with salt and sugar to taste.

Slowly mix the potatoes with the dressing (not all at once). Stir in the onions, cucumber, radish and chives.

Serve warm with the venison burgers.

Sitzfeldt

Anna and Clemens, you grew up in the south of Germany, in Bavaria. Both of you studied in Germany and in London, when and why did you decide to move to Berlin?

Clemens: I fell in love with Berlin during my studies and tried to find my first job here. I was lucky. In the meantime our entire family – our sister and our parents – also moved to Berlin.

Anna: We grew up in quite a small town in Bavaria. I always dreamt of living in a big city. Berlin has always been on my list and after having spent a few months during my master’s program here, I always wanted to come back. I just love the openness and the variety of Berlin. I finally moved here 10 years ago and since then Berlin became home more and more.

Do you miss the kitchen of the south?  

Clemens: Oh, yes. I miss it badly. Especially the Schweinebraten (pork roast) our grandmother used to make every single Sunday. I still need it at least once a month, but do it myself now. And what else? Pretzels, Pretzels, Pretzels… I will never understand why no one outside of Bavaria can bake Pretzels as they should be.

Anna: I used to miss it, but fortunately the southern kitchen became quite popular in Berlin over the last few years. So there are good places all over Berlin. When it gets really bad again, I go to Meierei in Kollwitzstraße or I hope for a lunch invitation for Sunday by my brother.

What was the first dish you cooked on your own, what is your first cooking memory?

Clemens: I am not quite sure. I guess, I used to cook with our Mum when we were children. But the first real remembrances to consciously cook was my grandma making the Schweinebraten every Sunday.

Anna: I guess, it was only Clemens who cooked with our Mum… At least, I did not. Because I remember always calling my Mum to ask for help once I lived on my own. And this was for the very basic things, like cooking pasta…

What are your favourite places to buy and enjoy food in Berlin? 

Anna: Soluna in Gneisenaustraße, Market at Südstern, Markthalle 9, Meierei, Nansen, Restaurant Obermaier, Massaniello, Txokoa Gastro Bar, Hoastaria del Monte Croce.

Clemens: Markthalle 9, Fräulein Dickes in Stargarder Straße

You started Sitzfeldt, an online company specialised in affordable designer sofas in 2010 together with Julius, an old school friend of Clemens’. What moved you to work in the field of designer furniture?

Due to our father’s business, we have always had a great affinity to furniture and design. At the end, it was this affinity combined with the business potential of selling furniture directly to the end customer via the internet. And of course the wish of building up our own company.

Your father established a successful furniture business and you continue this family tradition with your own company. How does this affect your work? Do you feel responsibility, is the family tradition a gift or a burden?

Anna: Once, someone called Sitzfeldt the ‘Unternehmensnachfolge 2.0′ (Business successors 2.0). That is pretty much how I feel. Without my father and his experience, we would not have been able to build up Sitzfeldt so quickly. But it makes me proud, that we have always done it our way. And: It makes me happy to see my father proud. Of course, he is happy that something he built up is continued somehow. So, it is a gift – for sure.

Clemens: It is easier to be an entrepreneur, if there are other entrepreneurs in the family. I feel supported and challenged by my family at the same time. And it helps that worries and doubts are understood and shared. The family tradition is a gift – no burden – because it really helps to build upon failures and successes.

Two of your collections have been nominated for the German Design Award 2015. Who are the designers you’re working with at the moment and how do these collaborations start?

Anna: The designer we work with the most, is Steffen Kehrle. He actually is an old friend of Julius’ who we all met in Milan in 2010. That was the year when the volcano in Iceland was active, so our flights were all cancelled. Steffen had a car and three free seats, so we drove together from Milan to Munich. During that ride we talked a lot about our plans, visions and ideas. When we arrived, it was clear that we would have to work together. That is when we first started to develop our sofa system Set which won the Interior Innovation Award 2013 and the Red Dot Design Award. Since then, we work together with Steffen a lot. We developed the new table GAME with him and are planning many more projects. Sebastian Herkner is a good friend of Steffen, that is how we met. HEIM is the first project we launched with Sebastian.

Clemens: In the end, we decide if a designer fits to Sitzfeldt. Our philosophy and their philosophy need to match. So it definitely helps that we are good friends with Steffen. It is fun to work on both of our ideas and plans and it is even more fun to see that people actually like what we do.

What are your plans and visions for Sitzfeldt?

Clemens: We want to work hard in order to strengthen our market position and our brand. Of course, the long term vision is that everyone who is looking for a sofa takes Sitzfeldt into account (laughs). No seriously, there are three basic elements Sitzfeldt is built upon: design, sustainability and fair prices. We work on all areas and think in small, realistic steps. In the end, we want to continue our journey of the last four years.

Anna: I cannot add anything to that, besides one thing: I hope that we will always enjoy what we are doing.

Anna and Clemens, what did you choose to share on eat in my kitchen and why?

Warm Bavarian Karfoffelsalat (potato salad) with cucumber. Why? This tastes like home and is so delicious with the right potatoes. Coming with a Boulette made of Dammwild (venison burger) from Brandenburg. There is no way of enjoying meat more sustainably and the Boulette is also well known in Berlin. This all comes with Preiselbeeren Salsa (lingonberry salsa).

If you could choose one person to cook a meal for you, who and what would it be?

Anna: Our grandmother is getting older and she is the only one who knows how to make Wuchter (Bohemian dumplings) as they should be. Clemens, we need to learn this! So, it is my grandmother.

Clemens: Angela Merkel, no matter what…

You’re going to have ten friends over for a spontaneous dinner, what will be on the table?

Anna: Pasta. And to be honest, it is also pasta for not-so-spontaneous dinners.

Clemens: Pasta. The entire year, there is always something good to have with pasta. And if they really surprise me, I always have homemade pesto in the fridge.

What was your childhood’s culinary favourite and what is it now?

Anna: Childhood: Wuchter – a special kind of the Bavarian Knödel (Bavarian dumplings). Today, I still die for Wuchter.

Clemens: Bayrischer Schweinebraten (Bavarian pork roast).

Do you prefer to cook on your own or together with others?

Anna: I prefer to cook on my own, but love being entertained by friends and wine while cooking.

Clemens: I love to cook for others, but I can’t stand any ‘assistant’ in my kitchen. You can ask my wife …

Which meals do you prefer, improvised or planned?

Anna: Planned.

Clemens: Planned and it really bothers me when I forget something at the grocery store.

Which meal would you never cook again?

Anna: Bayrischer Schweinebraten (Bavarian pork roast) – my brother’s is just better …

Clemens: Gluten-free pasta.

Thank you Anna and Clemens!

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Heirloom Tomatoes with Mozzarella di Bufala, Oregano and Orange Vinaigrette

Caprese Salad

Just one more time, before I let go of one of my most beloved summer salads! I need one more Caprese salad, the last one, before I say goodbye to this easy yet so delicious combination of fresh tomatoes and Mozzarella di Bufala. As much as I look forward to and enjoy the new season with its culinary qualities, I do miss my summery dishes sometimes, especially when I look at our holiday pictures of Malta. The memories of my Mediterranean outdoor cooking pop into my head and pull me into a different mood of food. A mood that demands for Mediterranean flavours, colours and smells, no pumpkins, cabbages and pies.

So as long as I don’t have to to compromise in taste, ripeness and sweetness, I enjoy my colourful small heirloom tomatoes and their late summer coloured prettiness on my plate. I don’t have to worry about any season when it comes to Mozzarella di Bufala, the organic produce that I use is so creamy that it almost reminds of Burrata. I just have to tear it into pieces and it coats the red and yellow fruits in its silky milkyness. The whole composition is perfect, with a quick orange vinaigrette, smooth and fresh, but it needed something different to pay a little tribute to the month we’re in now. No August, no sweet basil, this is over now. This is the beginning of a colder, stormy season, falling leaves and earthy smells. I didn’t want to add more sweetness, I wanted something stronger almost harsh, so I brought in some fresh oregano. The little leaves taste flowery yet a bit bitter, this is late summer in the south to me!

Caprese Salad

 

Caprese Salad

For lunch for 2 you need

small heirloom tomatoes, cut in half, 250g / 9 ounces
Mozzarella di Bufala or Burrata, torn into pieces, 125g / 4.5 ounces
fresh oregano leaves 1-2 tablespoons

For the dressing
olive oil 3 tablespoons
Balsamico vinegar 1 tablespoon
freshly squeezed orange juice 1 tablespoon
salt and pepper

Whisk the ingredients for the dressing and season to taste.

Arrange the tomatoes and mozzarella on a big plate and sprinkle with the vinaigrette and oregano, serve immediately.

Caprese Salad

 

Caprese Salad

 

Caprese Salad

Caramelized Plum and Sausage Sandwich with Rosemary and Coriander Oil

Caramelized Plum and Sausage Sandwich with Rosemary and Coriander Oil

This sandwich has been on my mind for weeks and it might have something to do with the fact that my kitchen has become a store room for Damson plums. I buy these fruits in big baskets, lots of them, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to end soon. As long as they are in season, I’m a loyal and dedicated fan! They give me endless inspiration for sweet and savory dishes and for new culinary experiments. I’m hooked on their strong taste, this subtle sweet and sour combination goes so well with all kinds of spices and flavours. The common round black plums are another kind that taste much sweeter but they’re lacking in depth, so I strongly recommend Damsons for my sandwich!

And here it comes, a new sausage sandwich! The last time I made one was in Malta, my sausage sandwich with rucola and coriander oil. Today, I feature this spice oil again, coriander seed infused olive oil, as it goes so well with this kind of meat. The seeds are actually one of the main ingredients of Maltese sausage which is one of the best in the world to me (and that means a lot from a German!). I sprinkle the oil and the crunchy seeds on the buns and let them soak into the soft and juicy sponginess, that’s my favourite way to start a sandwich!

I fried a couple thick, coarse sausages with fresh rosemary needles. The herb is great for the topping when it turns woody and crisp, but the needles also add their aroma to the frying juices which I pour on the buns before I put the meat on. And now, my fruit of the season comes in, I caramelized the plums for just a few minutes in sugary butter, I wanted them soft but not soggy. Their sour sweetness combined with the dark flavour of caramel is all a sausage sandwich could ask for! We loved it!

Caramelized Plum and Sausage Sandwich with Rosemary and Coriander Oil

 

Caramelized Plum and Sausage Sandwich with Rosemary and Coriander Oil

 Caramelized Plum and Sausage Sandwich with Rosemary and Coriander Oil

For 2 sandwiches you need

juicy buns, cut in half, 2
coarse sausages (like Salsiccia) 2
fresh rosemary, the needles of a small sprig
plums (preferably Damsons), cut in half and pitted, 8
butter 1 tablespoon
sugar 1 teaspoon
olive oil 3 tablespoons plus more for the sausages
coriander seeds, lightly crushed in a mortar, 1 teaspoon

In a sauce pan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the coriander seeds and let them infuse the oil on medium heat for 2 minutes.

In a heavy pan, heat a splash of olive oil and cook the sausages until golden brown on all sides. Add the rosemary needles for the last 2 minutes or until they are crisp, but not dark. Cut the sausages in half and set aside, keep the frying juices.

Melt the butter and sugar in a pan on a high temperature. When the sugar starts to turn brown, add the plums, cut side first. Cook for 2 minutes, gently turn the fruits and cook on the other side for 1 minute. Take the pan off the heat.

Brush the buns with the coriander oil, add some of the seeds and lay the plums on top. Brush the sausages with a little of the caramelized juices of the plums and put them on top of the fruits. Pour all the remaining juices of the sausages and plums over the sandwiches and sprinkle with a few of the crisp rosemary needles. Close, squeeze and enjoy!

Caramelized Plum and Sausage Sandwich with Rosemary and Coriander Oil

 

Caramelized Plum and Sausage Sandwich with Rosemary and Coriander Oil

 

Caramelized Plum and Sausage Sandwich with Rosemary and Coriander Oil

 

Caramelized Plum and Sausage Sandwich with Rosemary and Coriander Oil

 

Caramelized Plum and Sausage Sandwich with Rosemary and Coriander Oil

Zwiebelkuchen, the perfect Onion and Bacon Pie for September

Onion and Bacon Pie

Zwiebelkuchen, young wines and the warming sun of late September! I used to live quite close to the French border, not too far away from the Alsace region. On Sundays, in late September and October, when the leaves start changing colour and the grapes are ripe and plump, I loved visiting the winegrowers in the vineyards on both sides of the border. They were busy bringing their harvest in and producing the first young wines, like the Alsatian Nouveau Vin (like Neier Siasser) or the Federweisser in the Pfalz area in south-west Germany. Many villages celebrate the harvest season with a traditional wine feast, with lots of wine and Zwiebelkuchen, a hearty pie with a sweet and juicy onion filling on top of a flaky buttery short crust. It’s divine, the ultimate autumn food!

Sometimes, Zwiebelkuchen is made with bacon which adds a nice smoky flavour to it and a bit of saltiness to balance out the sweetness of the onions. However, one thing used to bother me with many pies I ate in those days, soft uncooked bacon. To me, bacon should be crisp and crunchy, I can’t stand chewing on soft pieces of fat. When the bacon is mixed with the onion and eggs for the filling, there’s no chance to get the right result, it will stay rubbery and soggy. The solution is very simple, just put the bacon on top of the filling while it’s in the oven and let it release its juices and flavours. This way you get the best crunchy bacon bits you can imagine!

Onion and Bacon Pie

 Zwiebelkuchen

For one pie you need a round (27cm / 10.5″) baking dish or tart pan.

For the short crust base

plain flour 200g / 7 ounces
(I use spelt flour type 630 but you can use any other plain flour)
salt 1/4 teaspoon
butter, cold, 100g / 3.5 ounces
water, cold, 2 tablespoons

Combine the flour with the salt. Cut the butter with a knife into the flour until there are just little pieces of butter left. Continue with your fingers and rub the butter into the flour until combined. Add the water and continue mixing with the hooks of your mixer until you have a crumbly mixture. Form a disc, wrap in cling film and put in the freezer for 10 minutes.

 

The Pie

onions, cut in half and thinly sliced, 650g / 1.5 pounds
heavy cream 200ml / 7 ounces
milk 150ml / 5 ounces
organic eggs, mixed with a fork, 3
bacon, cut into little cubes, 40g / 1.5 ounces
butter 1 tablespoon
olive oil
nutmeg, freshly grated, to taste
salt and pepper
plain flour 1 heaped tablespoon

In a large heavy pan, heat the olive oil and butter and cook the onions on medium heat for about 15 minutes until golden brown and soft, stirring them once in while. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste, add the flour and brown on high temperature for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the milk mixed with cream, bring to the boil and cook for 3 minutes on medium-high temperature, continue stirring. Take off the heat, season to taste and mix in the eggs.

Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F top/ bottom heat.

Roll out the dough between cling film and line your baking dish with the flat pastry. Prick with a fork and blind bake for 5 minutes.

Put the onion filling on top of the blind baked pastry, sprinkle with the bacon and bake for 1o minutes. Turn down the heat to 175°C / 35o°C and bake for another 30 minutes or until the pie is golden brown on top and set.

Let the pie cool for a few minutes and serve warm or cold, preferably with Nouveau Vin!

Onion and Bacon Pie

 

Onion and Bacon Pie

 

Onion and Bacon Pie

 

Onion and Bacon Pie

Cumin Cinnamon Aubergine with Capers and Orange Polenta

Cumin Orange Aubergine with Polenta

Today, all the warm colours of autumn are combined on my plate, brown cumin, golden cinnamon, green capers, purple aubergine and bright oranges! The transition from summer to the next season brings the spices back into my cooking, my big spice box is out almost every day! In June, July and August, I follow my love for fresh, woody herbs, rosemary, thyme, oregano or fleshy sage, mint or basil leaves, but now it’s time for some exotic mixtures again. Salty and citrus flavours mixed with earthy cumin and sweet cinnamon. It works great, and the juicy aubergine, with its unobtrusive taste stands up surprisingly well and holds it all together.

I got all excited surrounded by these deep aromas in my kitchen, so I decided to try out something new when I mixed the cornmeal into the milk for my polenta. I cooked it with a few strips of orange zest, I didn’t want it to be pure and naked next to the rich composition I prepared for the aubergines. It was a wonderfully warming dish, in colour and taste, a little bit surprising in flavours, but really, really good! So good, that I already bought a couple more aubergines for the next batch!

Cumin Orange Aubergine with Polenta

 Cumin Cinnamon Aubergine with Capers and Orange Polenta

For the aubergine

aubergine, cut into small 1/2cm / 1/4″ cubes, about 200g / 7 ounces
garlic, crushed, 2 cloves
cumin 1/4 teaspoon
cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon
capers, rinsed and drained, 1 tablespoon
freshly squeezed orange juice 50ml / 2 ounces
Balsamico vinegar 1 teaspoon
olive oil
salt

In a large pan, heat a splash of olive oil, the garlic, cumin, cinnamon and capers for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add a little more oil and the aubergine and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat or until the aubergine is golden and soft. Deglaze with the juice and season with the vinegar and salt to taste. Serve with the warm polenta.

 

For the polenta

polenta 120g / 4 ounces
water 250ml / 8.5 ounces plus around 100ml / 3.5 ounces for cooking
milk 250ml / 8.5 ounces
salt 1 teaspoon
olive oil 2 tablespoons
orange peel 3 long strips

In a sauce pan, heat the water and milk, add the salt and bring to the boil. Take the pan off the heat, add the olive oil and polenta and whisk. Add the orange peel, turn down the heat to the lowest temperature and put the pan back on. Cook the polenta for 10 minutes mixing and adding more water once in a while.

Cumin Orange Aubergine with Polenta

 

Cumin Orange Aubergine with Polenta

 

Cumin Orange Aubergine with Polenta

Yellow Plum Cobbler

Yellow Plum Cobbler

A fruity cobbler is one of the quickest, most comfortable and delicious morning sweets you can put on your breakfast table, with short preparation (unlike my Friday’s brioche) and a satisfying result! The pastry is a smooth scone dough with sour cream, thrown together in just a few minutes. It turns into a light golden crust lying on top of the fruity filling like fluffy clouds.

Plums are my favourite addition to this dish and yellow plums are my latest discovery for desserts. It’s not only the warm glowing colour that’s so striking, it’s their honey sweet taste. Uncooked, they aren’t too far away from blue plums, just a bit sweeter, but when they are cooked, seasoned with a little cinnamon, they develop a very deep flowery taste, almost like rosewater. Their fragrant sweetness made me choose them for this easy pie. My cobbler is made with just a little sugar, you could also use the pastry for a savory pie, but when the yellow fruit kicks in, the sweet richness takes over. Warm and fragrant, I couldn’t stop shoveling one portion after the other onto my plate!

Yellow Plum Cobbler

 Yellow Plum Cobbler

You could replace the yellow plums with blue plums and a add a few drops of rosewater.

For 4 people you need

yellow plums, sliced, 600g / 1.5 pounds
sugar 4 tablespoons
cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon

For the pastry
plain flour 200g / 7 ounces
sugar 2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon for the topping
cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon
baking powder 1 1/2 teaspoons
a pinch of salt
butter, cold, 100g / 3.5 ounces
sour cream 160ml / 5.5 ounces

Set the oven to 190°C / 375°F (fan assisted oven).

Spread the plums in a baking dish and coat with the sugar mixed with cinnamon.

For the pastry, combine the dry ingredients. Cut the butter with a knife into the flour until there are just crumbly pieces left. Continue with your fingers, rub the buttery pieces into the flour until combined. Mix in the sour cream with a spoon until combined. Break the soft dough into pieces, gently flatten them and put them on top of the plums, they should be almost covered. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of sugar and some more cinnamon if you like and bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve warm.

Yellow Plum Cobbler

 

Yellow Plum Cobbler

 

Yellow Plum Cobbler

 

Yellow Plum Cobbler

 

Yellow Plum Cobbler

 

Yellow Plum Cobbler

Mary’s fantastic Drunken Grapes in Anisette

Grapes in Ouzo

After I visited Mary Licari in her old watch tower in Malta for one of my meet in your kitchen features, I came home with lots of inspiration and a long list of recipes which I couldn’t wait to try in my kitchen! On that hot afternoon in August, she treated me to so many delicacies and one of them was red grapes in anisette which she made in 1985! She topped her homemade banana ice cream (which was also to die for!) with these amazing grapes that have been in the bottle for almost 30 years! I almost felt too shy to eat them, that’s such a treasure, fruit soaked in three decades of aroma!

It was my second visit to her house, just a day before I left the island to go back to Berlin. As always when meeting Mary, you have to be prepared for food, lots of good food! We wanted to stop at her house to say a quick good bye but as soon as we got into the house, Mary got out the plates and treated us to an amazing three course meal, finished with these fantastic drunken fruits. They were sweet and strong, a bit wrinkled, enhanced with the strong flavour of anise. The texture was a bit like jelly, but not as soft, they still had some crunch. It was a special culinary experience that I will never forget!

I’ve been back home for more than a month and I still can’t get Mary’s amazing grapes out of my head. There’s no reason to wait any longer! The Italian grapes taste amazing at the moment and there’s a bottle of Ouzo waiting to be emptied. I won’t wait for 30 years to eat them (I’m too impatient!) but maybe I will keep some of them for a year or two.

Mary taught me to keep a little stalk on the grapes, that prevents the fruit from soaking up too much of the liquid!

Grapes in Ouzo

 

Grapes in Ouzo

 Drunken Grapes in Anisette

For 1 large jar of grapes you need

Ouzo (or any other anisette) 600ml / 1.5 pints
red grapes 200g / 7 ounces

Cut the single grapes off the bunch. Don’t pull them off, keep a short piece of stalk of about 1/2 cm / 1/4 ” on each of them.

Put the grapes in a clean jar and fill with anisette until the fruits are covered. Let it sit for at least a month, or for years, like Mary. Serve with ice cream or cheese.

Grapes in Ouzo

 

Grapes in Ouzo

 

Grapes in Ouzo

Buttery Weekend Brioche

Brioche

Lots of butter, lots of eggs – the secret to a great brioche! I enjoy this sweet golden bread fresh and warm out of the oven on the first day, and toasted, for breakfast, lunch or as sweet and savory sandwiches on the second day. Therefore, when I make brioche, I bake a big batch of them!

The dough has to rise three times, but that shouldn’t put you off. If you time it well and let it rise overnight the second time you can be rewarded with the best French breakfast treat ever, apart from croissants maybe but their preparation reaches another dimension. I never managed to move myself to give them a try but one day their time will come even in my kitchen. Back to the brioche, this recipe makes a wonderful buttery, light pastry, rich but tender. I like to break them in pieces and spread even more butter on top of them and some of my homemade strawberry or Tyrolean plum jam, a hot latte macchiato on the side and I’m happy!

I always bake one loaf and a few little round brioches. The bread stays fresh for days wrapped in parchment paper and it’s great for tea time, sliced, toasted and – again – with some butter melted on top. It also makes a delicious dessert, in a trifle, bread pudding or thick fresh slices topped with a thick warm berry compote and some whipped cream!

Brioche

 

Brioche

 Brioche

For 2 loaves you need

plain flour 700g / 1.5 pounds
yeast 1 package for 500g / 1 pound of flour
salt 1 1/2 teaspoons
sugar 60g / 2 ounces
organic eggs, mixed with a fork, 5 plus 1 egg mixed with a pinch of salt for the glaze
milk, lukewarm, 50ml / 2 ounces
butter, soft, 250g / 9 ounces

Melt 50g / 2 ounces of the butter, let it cool and mix with the milk.

In  a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Add the lukewarm milk butter mixture and eggs and mix with your dough hooks for 5 minutes until well combined. Continue kneading with your hands for about 5 minutes until you have an elastic dough ball. Add  the remaining soft butter cut into little pieces and mix until all the butter is worked into the dough and you have a soft, shiny but sticky ball. This will take about 5 minutes.

Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with a tea towel. Let the dough rise in a 35°C / 95°F warm oven ( top / bottom heat, no fan!) for 1 hour.

Take the dough out, knead for 1 minute and put it in a clean large bowl. Close well with a lid or cling film and keep in the fridge overnight to rise slowly a second time.

Take the dough out the next morning and let it sit for 10 minutes before you knead it for 1 minute and divide it into 2 portions (or more depending on the tins you use to bake the brioche). Butter the tins generously and push in the dough, the tins should be filled 1/2 to 2/3, not more. If you bake a round brioche you can shape little (or big) balls and place them on top. Form a little hole with your finger in the middle and gently push the ball in to prevent it from falling off. Cover with a towel and let it rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes.

Set the oven to 175°C / 350°F (top/ bottom heat).

Brush the brioche with the egg mixed with salt and bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown on top, depending on the tins’ shape and size the baking time can be shorter or longer. If you’re not sure if it’s done turn the brioche around and knock on its underside, it should sound hollow. Enjoy warm.

Brioche

 

Brioche

 

Brioche

 

Brioche

Roast Rosemary Lamb with Garlic and Tomatoes

Roast Rosemary Lamb with Garlic and Tomatoes

A piece of meat slowly roasted to perfection, with fresh herbs, garlic and vegetables is the essence of my mother’s cuisine. The fragrant smell teases me for hours while the roast is cooking, the depth of the meat’s taste, the rich sauce of juices mixed with seasonings is the most comfortable cooking that can happen in a kitchen!

When I saw this leg of lamb I made a quick decision, roast lamb for dinner! Thinking of my mother’s famous Sunday lunches, I also packed lots of garlic and tomatoes in my shopping basket as I had a Mediterranean style roast in mind. I also bought a bunch of rosemary as my plant looks rather sad at the moment. I planted it in a pot together with mint and that wasn’t a good idea. The roots of peppermint plants spread into every corner of the pot, there’s no soil left for my poor rosemary. If you ever decide to plant rosemary and mint together, leave the mint plant in a plastic pot before you put it in soil, this stops the roots from spreading (I got this tip from a lady with a green thumb at the market). My big thyme plant is the complete opposite, it looks as fresh and green as it should (in its own pot). That’s the second herb in this recipe to add flavour to the meat.

Back home, I made a thick marinade with 2 tablespoons of each of the herbs and a little crushed garlic. I mixed it with lots of olive oil and rubbed it into the leg of lamb. You could keep it in the fridge like that for a day or two, but we were hungry, so I added two whole garlic bulbs and 5 large tomatoes, all cut in half and cooked the meat in the oven for a bit more than an hour. The meat was perfect, juicy and soft, and the tomatoes and garlic were almost caramelized. They were dark on the outside but sweet inside and thickened the juices which was simply divine! Fruity, oily and fragrant!

Roast Rosemary Lamb with Garlic and Tomatoes

 Roast Rosemary Lamb with Garlic and Tomatoes

For 3-4 people you need

leg of lamb, with the bone, 1.5kg / 3.5 pounds
olive oil 70ml / 2.5 ounces
fresh rosemary, chopped, 2 tablespoons plus 5 small sprigs
thyme, chopped, 2 tablespoons
garlic bulbs, cut in half, 2 plus 1 big clove, crushed, for the marinade
large tomatoes, cut in half, 5
salt and pepper

Set the oven to 180°C / 355°F (I used the Rotitherm setting).

Put the leg of lamb into a roasting tin. Arrange the tomatoes (cut side down) and garlic (cut side up) next to the meat. Mix the oil, crushed garlic clove and herbs, rub into the meat and sprinkle a bit over the tomatoes and garlic bulbs. Put the rosemary sprigs under and next to the meat. Season everything with salt and pepper and cook in the oven for 75 minutes, turn the garlic around after 45 minutes, pour the juices over the meat once or twice while it’s cooking.

When the meat is done, wrap the roast leg in aluminum foil for 5 minutes.

Cut up the meat and serve with the roast tomatoes and garlic. You could have some potatoes on the side but we enjoyed it with a fresh white French loaf which was perfect to scrape the tasty juices out of the pan.

Roast Rosemary Lamb with Garlic and Tomatoes

 

Roast Rosemary Lamb with Garlic and Tomatoes

 

Roast Rosemary Lamb with Garlic and Tomatoes

 

Roast Rosemary Lamb with Garlic and Tomatoes

 

Roast Rosemary Lamb with Garlic and Tomatoes

300 Days and 300 Recipes later, a Date Goat Cheese and Balsamic Fig Tartine

Date and Balsamic Honey Fig Tartine

300 days ago, on the 23rd November 2013, I started eat in my kitchen! Today, almost 10 months and 300 recipes later, it feels like this journey has just begun. I’ve met so many amazing people through the blog, people who follow eat in my kitchen worldwide since the early days or who just found it recently. Be it in Europe, the USA, South America, Australia, Africa or Asia, we all share our passion for cooking, baking, eating and treating and that’s been such a great experience for me. Here, I can write about my latest discoveries at the market, new ideas for recipes or old family dishes which have been with me since my childhood. Or the meet in your kitchen features and my wonderful guests who taught me so much about beekeeping, producing olive oil and wine, harvesting salt at the sea, or traditional Maltese recipes which were handed down from one generation to the next. All this would have never happened without eat in my kitchen and without you who follow me so enthusiastically!

Today, it’s my Sandwich Wednesday, one of my blog’s early traditions which I started on the 4th December 2013. It was a spontaneous mood on a busy day that made me come up with a sandwich and I decided to make a weekly series out of it. That’s what I love about this online space, this white canvas where I can not only share the culinary adventures of my kitchen but also try out new ideas that I would have never had without it. One thing is for sure, we wouldn’t have eaten so many sandwiches in the past months without this blog!

I just want to thank you for your trust in my cooking, in my recipes and your ongoing following of what’s happening in my kitchen and what we eat in my kitchen!

This week’s sandwich is a sensual late summer tartine. The sweetest dried dates stirred into smooth goat cream cheese, a couple figs cooked in honey and Balsamico vinegar and Arnold’s Maltese Wild Thyme Honey dripping from the top. It’s sweet, sticky and luscious, like sugary ripe figs almost falling off the branches.

Date and Balsamic Honey Fig Tartine

 Honey Date Goat Cheese and Balsamic Fig Tartine

For 4 small tartines you need

goat cream cheese 125g / 4.5 ounces
dried dates, chopped, 4
ripe figs, quartered, 2
strong liquid honey 2 teaspoon plus more for the topping
Balsamico vinegar 1 teaspoon
white bread (like baguette or ciabatta) 4 slices

In a sauce pan, heat 1 teaspoon of honey, add the figs and cook for 1 minute, turning them once. Deglaze with the Balsamico vinegar, close with a lid and take off the heat.

Whip the goat cream cheese with 1 teaspoon of honey and stir in the dried dates.

Spread the bread generously with the date goat cheese, put the figs and their juices on top and sprinkle with a little more honey.

Date and Balsamic Honey Fig Tartine

 

Date and Balsamic Honey Fig Tartine

 

Date and Balsamic Honey Fig Tartine

 

Date and Balsamic Honey Fig Tartine

Golden Hokkaido Pumpkin Spaghetti

Hokkaido Pumpkin Spaghetti

The glowing Hokkaido pumpkin is back in my kitchen! Although I’ve spotted the bright orange fruit at the markets for quite a while, I wanted to wait a little before it became a permanent part of my weekly purchases again. I know that as soon as it’s on my kitchen tops, nothing can stop me and I use it for everything, quite excessively, soups, risottos, pasta and breads, spreads, salads, cakes, the whole range from sweet to savory. One of my favourite pumpkin meals is oven roasted wedges coated in spiced olive oil and herbs. I could eat that every week!

For now, I will start with a pasta dish and for this recipe I use all a pumpkin offers, the flesh and skin, its seeds and fragrant oil. I mix my shiny spaghetti with a little bit of the water I used to cook the pasta in before I stir in very thin pumpkin slices pan roasted for just a few minutes to soften them and sweeten their taste. I sprinkle the pasta on each plate with a bit more than a tablespoon of pumpkin seed oil and a teaspoon of the fruit’s crunchy roasted seeds. This dish is an ode to the most delicate of all pumpkins, a true Hokkaido feast! It makes the pasta so smooth, almost velvety in texture and sweet and nutty in taste. Each plate looks like the late afternoon sunlight that lights up my kitchen between late summer and early autumn, golden and warm!

Hokkaido Pumpkin Spaghetti

 

Hokkaido Pumpkin Spaghetti

Hokkaido Pumpkin Spaghetti

For 3-4 people you need

spaghetti 300-400g / 10.5 – 14 ounces
Hokkaido pumpkin, with skin but without the fibres and seeds, about 200g / 7 ounces
butter 1 tablespoon
olive oil
sugar 1/2 teaspoon
salt and pepper
pumpkin seed oil, 4 1/2 – 6 tablespoons plus more to taste, for the topping
roast pumpkin seeds, for the topping

Keep the plates for the pasta in a warm place for a few minutes (80°C / 175°F in the oven).

Cook the pasta in lots of salted water al dente. Keep some of the water used to cook the pasta. Drain the spaghetti and mix with a splash of the water they cooked in.

Cut the pumpkin with a cheese or vegetable slicer into very thin slices. In a large heavy pan, heat the butter and a splash of olive oil, add the sugar and pumpkin and roast for a few minutes on medium heat, stirring constantly, until the slices are golden brown on both sides and soft enough to break with a fork. Season with salt and pepper.

Divide the pasta and pumpkin slices between the plates, sprinkle each plate with 1 1/2 tablespoons of pumpkin seed oil, a teaspoon of pumpkin seeds and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Hokkaido Pumpkin Spaghetti

 

Hokkaido Pumpkin Spaghetti

Minestrone alla Genovese with Zucchini, Beans and Parmesan

Minestrone with Zucchini, Beans and Parmesan

A minestrone simmering on the cooker puts me a into a comfortable mood, the smell and taste reminds me of the kitchens of all the great cooks in my family and it makes me feel at home! I’m very lucky as I’m surrounded by a few women who have mastered the art of a good minestrone.

My Maltese granny Edith cooks her vegetable soup with courgette, marrows and potatoes and I learnt from her that a little parmesan sprinkled on top makes all the difference. The cheese melts into the warming broth and adds a hearty touch to it. My mother goes with the seasons and uses whatever her vegetable garden offers. Beans, cabbage, peas, potatoes, carrots, the list is long and inspiring. She walks through her garden with a big basket in her hand and picks the fruits and vegetables that fit her mood. She taught me to chop everything into small cubes and blanch each vegetable in the broth separately. This way you avoid some vegetables becoming too soggy and soft while others stay crunchy. I don’t always do this, sometimes I cook it all at once, it depends on the texture I want to achieve.

My minestrone never tastes the same, I like to try out new variations and this one was inspired by the north of Italy, the Minestrone alla Genovese! This warming soup is so rich in flavours, cooked with cabbage, dried butter beans, zucchini, carrots, potatoes, fennel, tomatoes, celery and leak, I listened to both women to be rewarded with a very satisfying result, I chopped the vegetables into little cubes which would have pleased my mother but I cooked them all at once for not more than 20 minutes. I just cooked the soaked dried butter beans separately as they needed about an hour. After I filled my flavourful soup into the plates, I scattered some parsley leaves and grated parmesan over it, thanks to Edith!

When I cook minestrone, I cook lots of it as I like to put a few portions in the freezer for a quick lunch or dinner. Once the chopping is done, it just needs another half an hour, so you might as well prepare a bit more. You could also add some little pasta like Anellini or Risini to make the dish a bit richer.

Minestrone with Zucchini, Beans and Parmesan

 

Minestrone with Zucchini, Beans and Parmesan

Minestrone alla Genovese

For a large pot of around 4l / 8.5 pints of minestrone (for about 8-12 people) you need

big dried butter beans, soaked over night, 200g / 7 ounces
large onion, chopped, 1
white cabbage, cut into small cubes, 200g / 7 ounces
carrots, cut into small cubes, 150g / 5.5 ounces
zucchini, cut into small cubes, 150g / 5.5 ounces
leak, cut into small cubes, 100g / 3.5 ounces
potatoes, cut into small cubes, 200g / 7 ounces
fennel bulb, cut into small cubes, 100g / 3.5 ounces
large celery stalk, cut into small cubes, 1
large tomatoes, cut into small cubes, 2
broth, hot, 2.8l / 6 pints
garlic, crushed, 3 cloves
bay leaf 1
salt and pepper
olive oil
parmesan, grated, for the topping
fresh parsley leaves, a handful, for the topping

In a large pot, cook the soaked beans for about an hour or until al dente, drain and set aside.

In a large pot, heat a splash of olive oil and fry the onion for a few minutes on medium heat till golden and soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add a little more oil and the chopped vegetables, stir and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the hot broth, the beans and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 20 minutes. Season to taste and serve sprinkled with parmesan and parsley.

Minestrone with Zucchini, Beans and Parmesan

 

Minestrone with Zucchini, Beans and Parmesan

 

Minestrone with Zucchini, Beans and Parmesan

Blackberry and Apple Pie

Apple and Blackberry Pie

Glorious weather, food and friends, it was a perfect weekend! Last week, an old friend of mine from my days at university came to visit us and I was so excited as we hadn’t seen each other in years! She moved to LA a long time ago where I’ve only visited her once but a year ago she decided to head over to Costa Rica together with her family, so we’re even further apart from each other now. When she finally stood at the door with her two children, I couldn’t believe it! It was such a strange feeling to meet the little ones who I only knew from pictures and skype, but they felt so familiar. This is such a weird thing about the internet, you can be so far away and still feel so close!

Before the young family arrived I decided to bake, not only a cake but a pie, the ultimate sweet comfort food. I needed to calm down and nothing beats a pie in a situation like that! The result was a thin layer of buttery short crust wrapped around a juicy filling of apples and blackberries. I’ve made many apple pies in my life but this was the first time that I tried this English classic with the dark berries. They add a sweet juiciness and melt together with the apples to a very unique composition. It reminds me a bit of plums or pears but it’s still different, they create a new taste which is hard to describe.

The fruity filling was so full of red juices that I was a bit worried about the pastry. For no reason, the short crust didn’t soak it all up or get too soggy, it was still crunchy. It was all good, even more so, it was delicious! Just the first piece which I cut off impatiently when the pie was still hot was a bit soft, it’s best to let it sit for a while which is almost impossible as it smells too good!

Apple and Blackberry Pie

 

Apple and Blackberry Pie

Apple and Blackberry Pie

For a 20cm / 8″ springform pan you need

For the filling

sour baking apples (such as Boskoop), peeled, cored, quartered and thinly sliced, 600g / 21 ounces
blackberries, 200g / 7 ounces
sugar 5 tablespoons
ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon
plain flour 2 tablespoons

For the pastry

plain flour 260g / 9 ounces
sugar 1 teaspoon
a pinch of salt
ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon
butter, cold, 70g / 2.5 ounces
vegetable shortening, cold,  70g / 2.5 ounces
cold water 1 tablespoon

For the glaze

milk 3 tablespoons
sugar 1 heaped teaspoon

For the pastry, combine the dry ingredients. Cut the butter and vegetable shortening with a knife into the flour until there are just little, crumbly pieces left. Continue with your fingers and quickly work the buttery pieces into the flour until combined. Add the water, continue mixing with the hooks of your mixer until you have a crumbly mixture. Form 2 discs, dividing them roughly 2:1, wrap in cling film and put in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F (top / bottom heat).

Take the dough out of the freezer, put the smaller disc in the fridge and roll out the bigger one. Roll out a circle big enough to line the bottom and the sides of the springform pan, overlapping the rim about 1 cm / 1/2 “. Put the pan with the pastry in the fridge.

For the filling, combine the sugar and cinnamon and mix with the apples. Take out the pan with the pastry and fill with 1/3 of the apples, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of flour and add half of the berries. Add another layer of apples, 1 tablespoon of flour and the remaining berries and apples on top. Roll out the remaining disc, a bit bigger than the springform pan and lay on top of the apples. Gently push the sides onto the bottom layer of pastry, sealing it by rolling in inwards. Brush the top with milk and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake the pie for 15 minutes, turn down the heat to 175°C / 350°F and bake for another 40 minutes or until the pie is golden on top. Take it out and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Apple and Blackberry Pie

 

Apple and Blackberry Pie

 

Apple and Blackberry Pie

 

Apple and Blackberry Pie

 

Apple and Blackberry Pie

 

Apple and Blackberry Pie

 

Apple and Blackberry Pie

Mozzarella di Bufala, Rucola, Orange and Chervil Salad

Mozzarella, Orange and Chervil Salad

Mozzarella di Bufala, as creamy as a fresh Burrata, Italian oranges dripping with sweet juices, crunchy rucola (arugula) leaves, delicate chervil (Kerbel in German) and a fruity vinaigrette! This salad is luscious and fresh, a perfect combination of green, fruity and milky flavours.

It’s a light culinary break while I’m bustling in my kitchen on the weekend, my little weekly feast when our meals become a bit more lavish and sumptuous. We spend even more time sitting at the table extending our dinners with some cheese, fruit and chutney before we finish it off with dessert. Good food and company, some music, a nice bottle of wine, it’s so easy to celebrate those moments when everything feels just right! The end of the week is also my favourite time to bake and to fill the air with the smell of fresh bread, cinnamony cakes and cookies, that’s my kind of wellness treat. So, to enjoy my numerous kitchen products, I keep my breakfast and lunch lighter than normally but not necessarily more simple and spartan. I just cut down on a few delicate ingredients, like in this salad.

Mozzarella, Orange and Chervil Salad

Mozzarella di Bufala, Rucola, Orange and Chervil Salad

For 2-3 people you need

Mozzarella di Bufala, torn into pieces, 125g / 4.5 ounces
orange, peeled and cut into slices,
rucola (arugula) leaves, a big handful
chervil (Kerbel), the leaves of a small bunch
olive oil 3 tablespoons
white Balsamico vinegar 1 tablespoon
freshly squeezed orange juice 1 1/2 tablespoons
salt and pepper

Whisk the olive oil, vinegar and orange juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Arrange the rucola, orange and mozzarella on plates and sprinkle with dressing and chervil.

Mozzarella, Orange and Chervil Salad

 

Mozzarella, Orange and Chervil Salad

 

Mozzarella, Orange and Chervil Salad

Moscato Chicken with Grapes and Thyme

Moscato Grape Chicken

A luscious sauce needs time, herbs, spices and wine but sometimes a good 20 minutes in the oven works just as well, when there are chicken legs, Moscato grapes and wine, thyme, bay leaf and garlic on the tray. The meat’s roasting juices mix with the sweetness of the fruit and wine and turn into a heavenly rich sauce. We left the roasting pan clean and spotless after we soaked up the last drops with fresh baguette!

This recipe needs lots of garlic! I pushed some thin slices of garlic together with some small sprigs of thyme under the chicken’s skin to infuse the meat with their aroma. I also cooked quite a few whole garlic cloves in their skin on the tray which makes a wonderful smooth paste. It tasted so good spread on a slice of bread with a couple roasted grapes and a piece of tender chicken with its crisp skin!

I like to cook with Moscato wine a lot, I use it often in my kitchen as it adds a mellow fruitiness. A Pinot Gris or a Riesling would also be nice for this recipe but it comes down to your personal preference and how much you want to invest in your sauce. Personally, I believe that the wine you use for cooking can easily be more simple than the one you fill into the glasses to accompany your dinner.

Moscato Grape Chicken

 Moscato, Grape and Thyme Chicken

For 2-4 people you need

chicken legs 4 (around 1.2kg / 2.5 pounds)
sweet green grapes (like Moscato grapes), on their stalks, 250g / 9 ounces
thyme sprigs, a small handful
garlic, 8 cloves in their skin and 2 cloves cut into very thin slices
fruity white wine (like Moscato) 250ml / 8.5 ounces
small bay leaves 4
olive oil
flaky sea salt
pepper

Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F (I use the Rotitherm setting which works perfectly for poultry).

Spread the chicken legs on a baking dish or tray and push a few thyme sprigs and slices of garlic under the skin of each of them. Rub them on all sides with olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper. Arrange the grapes, garlic cloves and thyme around the meat, put 1 bay leaf under each chicken leg, sprinkle with a splash of olive oil and pour the wine over the meat and fruits.

Cook the chicken legs in the oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown, pour some of the juices over the meat a couple times while it’s cooking. After 20 minutes, check the meat with a skewer, only clear juices should come out. Turn the grill on for a few minutes until the skin starts sizzling and turns dark and crisp. Serve with baguette.

Moscato Grape Chicken

 

grapechicken1.2

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