eat in my kitchen

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

meet in your kitchen | Designer Imke Laux bakes her Aunt Herta’s German Apple Pie

Aunt Herta's Apple Pie

When I met Imke in her kitchen on a cold and dark Berlin morning, it started snowing. It was the first snow of the winter (and the last so far) and I couldn’t have found myself at a warmer and more comfortable place than her stunning roof top apartment. The interior designer created a beautiful world for her family of four in shades of white and light grey, with lots of light, cushions, candles and cosy corners. Her open kitchen, living and dining room is the place where you want to sit with a cup of tea and chat for hours. I can imagine that the long table, the centrepiece of the room, has already seen many special nights of feasting. Imke created the perfect place to gather and savor, to feel at home as a guest and enjoy.

My kitchen host is a fascinating woman who I met not too long ago but there was something in her eyes that made me want to find out more about her. Imke is a renowned interior designer, her clients appreciate her sensitivity, confidence and style. She understands and respects their needs and creates spaces that make you feel good. Not a single chair, sofa, table or lamp is pretentious, it all makes sense and is a functioning part of her daily life. But it also pleases the eye, it just seems very effortless.

Aunt Herta's Apple Pie

Imke found her present profession over the past few years. She studied law and worked as a lawyer for a photo agency in Hamburg but then moved to California together with her husband just after their first child was born. In the new country she decided to make another change in her life, she studied design at the New York Institute of Art and Design. She successfully finished her correspondence course and her first projects began. After the family moved back to Berlin a few years later, it wasn’t long before she established herself in a new situation again. From the start, the demand for her stylistic advice, help and guidance was just as high on this side of the world.

This summer the family bought a little weekend house at a river outside Berlin which they are renovating themselves. A new project for Imke, her husband and their two 13 and 7 year old daughters, lots of building and painting but also picnics and looking for mushrooms in the countryside. When the four need a break, they love to travel without planning much to see where life takes them, a 3 week trip to India is next on their list! Imke’s eyes sparkled when we talked about this adventure and when I asked her about the difficulties of traveling with two young girls, she didn’t seem too worried. The effortlessness which fascinated me from the start is built on trust and a positive attitude. That’s also what Imke prooved when we started our kitchen session. She couldn’t find the apples which she hid from her family for the pie she wanted to bake with me. Her aunt Herta’s Apple Pie (gedeckter Apfelkuchen in German) is an old family recipe which needs lots of sour fruits so she bought a big bag full but couldn’t find them. I offered to run to the grocery story but Imke stayed calm and was sure that they must be somewhere. She was right and we could start. As if life wanted to test her patience, a second obstacle came into our way. The oven broke and refused to keep the right temperature. Imke kept her cool, sat right next to the oven, put it on the highest temperature and kept an eye on our pie. It all worked fine in the end, the pie was fantastic, packed with lots of juicy apples and a crisp thin pastry. On my way home I noticed that this lady, her pie and her gorgeous apartment left me with a really good feeling, life is good when you trust!

You can see Imke’s work her on Laux Interiors and follow the progress of her country house on her new blog Laux Haus.

Aunt Herta's Apple Pie

 Aunt Herta’s Apple Pie

For a 26cm /10″ springform pan you need

large sour baking apples, peeled, cored, quartered and sliced, 5
vanilla sugar 1 package (or 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar mixed with 1/4 vanilla bean, scraped)
plain flour 300g / 10.5 ounces
a pinch of baking powder
sugar 65g / 2.5 ounces plus 1 tablespoon for the topping
a pinch of salt
eggs 2
butter 150g / 5.5 ounces plus 1 tablespoon for the topping

Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, eggs and butter with an electric mixer until well combined. Form the dough into a ball and keep in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Set the oven to 210°C / 410°F (fan-assisted oven) or 225°C / 440°F (top / bottom heat).

In a large pan, cook the apples and vanilla sugar for a few minutes until soft and let them cool for a few minutes.

Roll out 1/3 of the dough between cling film until it’s roughly the size of the springform pan. Roll out the remaining dough between cling film and line the bottom and the sides of the springform pan. Fill the apples into the dough-lined springform pan, even them out and put the remaining pastry on top. Close the pie and spread around 1 tablespoon of butter (in small pieces) and 1 tablespoon of sugar over the top. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown and crisp on top.

Aunt Herta's Apple Pie

You lived in California for seven years with your husband and two daughters before you decided to make Berlin your new home. How did your lifestyle change through this move?

We moved from a big house with a garden in the suburbs in California to an apartment on the 5th floor in downtown Berlin. What changed drastically is the convenience of our daily life. Grocery shopping for example is a whole different story when you don’t have parking on the same level as your kitchen. I go grocery shopping more often now and buy smaller amounts of food because I have to carry it up the stairs to the 5th floor.

We also spent much more time outside in California. We used to go to the beach almost every weekend or went hiking in one of the great State parks. Now in Berlin we are far away from the coast or the mountains but we love to bike around the city or go swimming in a lake in the summer.

How did the new city influence your cooking and eating habits?

In Berlin we have a ton of great restaurants in walking distance. So we definitely go out to eat way more here than in the States. My cooking hasn’t changed much I believe.

What did you miss about German food when you lived in the US? Did you adapt to any American kitchen habits that you miss since you’ve been back in Germany?

I missed the German bread! The American bread is way too soft and sweet. So I baked our own bread in the USA. Here in Germany you find a bakery at every street corner with a big selection of whole grain breads and rolls – so we eat more bread here.

In Germany I miss being able to buy freshly baked cupcakes in the supermarket. That was so convenient. The table ready (pre-washed and pre-cut) vegetable and salad selection in the States is amazing. Also there are some really good ready made organic dressings. I loved grocery shopping at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. I really miss that. Everything looked so nice and you could always sample things.

You told me that you enjoy baking more than cooking, who or what sparked your love for sweet creations?

I enjoy baking more but I still cook more than I bake, because I have to cook dinner almost every night. I bake just occasionally. I think baking is more fun for me because I really like to eat cakes, pies and cookies. I am a big fan of sweets. I love the smell of freshly baked goods in the house. My mother and my aunt are to blame. They bake amazing things!

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

I baked a pie for my mother as a surprise. I think I was 8 or 9 years old and I forgot to add the butter to the dough. So what came out of the oven was solid as a rock. But we still ate it and my mother pretended that she loved it.

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

I love to go grocery shopping at the farmers markets – the organic food market at Kollwitzplatz on Thursday afternoon and the weekly farmers market on Saturdays. I buy fresh pesto, cold cuts and cheese at the Italian Deli Giannis Pasta-Bar on Schönhauser Allee. I love the bread selection at Zeit für Brot on Alte Schönhauser Strasse. I am a also member of the organic supermarket LPG Biomarkt at Senefelder Platz. My favorite supermarket is Kaiser’s at Winsstrasse. They have everything.

My favorite café is the Meierei on Kollwitzstrasse, they serve great coffee and have a small selection of sweet or savory dishes.

Restaurants that we like to go to are Aromi e Sapori on Straßburger Strasse, Leibhaftig on Metzer Strasse, Due Forni and Fleischerei on Schönhauser Allee, Lemon Grass Scent, Donath and Pappa e Ciccia on Schwedter Strasse.

You worked as a lawyer for a photo agency in Hamburg and couldn’t follow your profession when you moved to California. How did you come up with the idea to start something completely new, your own design company Laux Interiors?

I always had an interest in interior design. I was the one friends would turn to for advice when rearranging their home. I had the constant urge to move furniture around in our home. When we moved to the States I was surprised to learn that interior design was/ is such a big thing over there. There are entire TV channels dedicated to it. So I decided to turn my passion into a profession and went back to school – this time for interior design.

Your father is a goldsmith and your mother was a home economics teacher and is now a full time artist. How did your parents influence your aesthetic perception and your creative work?

My parents always took me to museums, exhibitions and galleries. Growing up my father had his own gallery where he would exhibit his own jewellery along with paintings and sculptures of other artists. His aesthetics in jewellery design are very clean, elegant with flawless craftmanship.

My mother is very expressive, caring and has a big heart. Her art is colourful and earthy. Sometimes I feel that I am torn between these two aesthetics.

This summer you bought a little weekend house built in 1974 at the picturesque Oder-Havel canal and you write about the progress of the renovations on your new blog LauxHaus. What is the biggest challenge and what is the great gift of renovating something old rather than buying new?

The biggest challenge for me is to be patient. I would love to do it all at once. But we are only there on the weekends, so it takes time to finish something. The huge garden also is something that scares me a little. Actually I would have loved to built a brand new house – something energy efficient with green materials and tons of glass – but the house is located in a protected nature reserve so we can only preserve the status quo but not build anything new there. We bought it mainly because we love the location at the riverside so much.

In really old buildings that I often have to renovate here in Berlin for clients I adore the craftmanship that you find in elements like stucco, panelling, doors, windows, floors, glass and hardware. You don’t see this anymore in homes that were built after World War II.

What did you choose to share on eat in my kitchen and why?

I chose to share an old family recipe with you – Apple Pie Aunt Herta. It’s a classic for decades. This pie is a staple at every birthday or special occasion in my family. The recipe was given to us from my great aunt Herta, my grandfather ‘s sister. I thought I’d share it with you because I always get positive feedback for this pie. I love that the crust is so crispy and the apples are so juicy and still a bit sour.

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

It would be a tie between my grandmothers Wilma and Resi. Wilma would have to show me how to preserve apples and pears from the garden by cooking them in jars with cinnamon sticks. Resi would have to show me how to cook East Frisian Sniertjebraa, a slow cooked pork roast.

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

Roasted pork loin with oven roasted vegetables and rosemary potatoes. If it’s really short notice – pasta with pesto Genovese and salad.

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

My favorite as a child was Paprikagemüse – a dish in a pan with ground meat, red and green bell peppers and tomatoes served with rice. Now I could eat tagliatelle with truffles and parmesan cheese every day. Or Sushi.

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

Together with others. It’s more fun when you can chat and have a glass of wine while cooking. Although I am more focused and quicker when I cook alone.

Which meals do you prefer, improvised or planned?

I mostly improvise a little – probably I would be calmer and less stressed if I planned ahead.

Which meal would you never cook again?

Can’t think of one.

Thank you Imke!

Aunt Herta's Apple Pie

 

Aunt Herta's Apple Pie

 

Aunt Herta's Apple Pie

 

Aunt Herta's Apple Pie

 

Aunt Herta's Apple Pie

 

Aunt Herta's Apple Pie

 

Aunt Herta's Apple Pie

My Granny’s Beef Rolls with Potato Dumplings

German Beef Rolls with Potato Dumplings

Beef rolls were my granny’s signature dish always served on her Sunday lunch tables with potatoes and traditionally followed by another German classic, her unbelievably good (and rich) Frankfurt Crown Cake (Frankfurter Kranz in German). This was her ritual, she dressed up, put on her lipstick and set up the table with her best linen and ‘the good tableware’. Her generation used to have two sets of plates, the more simple (and cheaper) selection for the weekdays and the delicate bone china porcelain for special occasions. I never quite understood this concept and to me it didn’t make much sense, if I really like something, a plate, a glass or a vase, I want to see and use it every day. I like to mix the simple with the extravagant, every day, whenever I’m in the mood. There’s no such separation between the formal and the normal plates in my kitchen, but to her it felt right to underline the importance and the special status of these events with a different kind of tableware. Only her Sunday, birthday and Christmas lunches saw the gold rimmed and ornamented plates and crystal glasses which were usually locked in the dark cupboards.

Times and habits have changed, and our kitchens and their functions changed over the years. It’s no longer a seperate room where food is produced, this space became an open centrepiece in houses and apartments. In our kitchen, we create, meet our friends, relax, enjoy a cup of tea or read our cook books, this is where our daily life happens and we need tools (and plates) which support this lifestyle. This is where our life takes place, and more than just the culinary one, it’s the quality of our entire life which is influenced by this space. My granny’s kitchen used to feel like a secret laboratory where she created all these fantastic treats, but contrary to my mother’s mother, she didn’t allow much of an insight. That might also be the reason why we don’t have many of her recipes anymore which is really sad. I have to remember the taste  of the stews, cakes and cookies and try to recreate them out of my memory, like her beef rolls (Rinderrouladen in German and braciole in Italian). The thin meat is rolled up with tomato paste, mustard, bacon and gherkin slices to a thick roulade, it cooks in lots of wine, herbs and vegetables for a couple hours which makes the beef tender and the sauce very rich. My granny mastered this dish to perfection. For my rouladen, I combine what I learned about aromatic stews from my mother with my memory of the strong meaty flavours of my granny’s dish refined with the fruitiness of tomatoes, the spiciness of mustard, the saltiness of Tyrolean prosciutto and the subtle sourness of gherkins. And it’s back, the Sunday lunch with its wonderful tastes and the childish enjoyment of the meat and sauce mixed with potato dumplings. I make my dumplings (Kartoffelknödel in German) with the same dough as my gnocchi, I just give them a bigger round shape and fill them with a couple bread cubes. This is a great Christmas dish as you can prepare everything in advance and warm it up when you need it. Although the dumplings are best when they are made fresh, sometimes I warm them up by cooking them in hot water for 1 minute.

A few weeks ago I found an old oval serving plate with a gold rim in one of Berlin’s vintage shops, I had to buy it as it reminded me of both of my grannies. Beef rolls have a rather rustic look but on this plate they get a festive frame. I’m sure these two ladies would have enjoyed watching their granddaughter keeping up their tradition (and not just at Christmas time)!

German Beef Rolls with Potato Dumplings

 

German Beef Rolls with Potato Dumplings

 Beef Rolls with Potato Dumplings

For 4 people you need

For the beef rolls

large flat slices of beef, topside or silverside, 4 (about 700g / 1.5 pounds), each about 30 x 10cm / 12 x 4″
Tyrolean prosciutto, or thin bacon slices, 8
large gherkin, sliced thinly (lengthwise), 4
tomato paste 4 heaped teaspoons
spicy mustard 4 teaspoons
red wine 1 bottle (750ml)
brandy or port 1 shot
medium sized carrots, cut in half and sliced, 2
celery stalk, cut into cubes, 1
leek, sliced thinly, 1/3
celery root, peeled, 1/4
garlic, cut in half, 2 big cloves
fresh thyme, a small bunch
fresh sage leaves 3
bay leaf 1
juniper berries, cracked, 3
salt and pepper
vegetable oil
tooth picks or cotton string to fix the rolls

Lay the meat flat on the kitchen top, season with salt and pepper and spread a teaspoon of tomato paste and mustard on each slice. Put 2 slices of prosciutto and 3-4 slices of gherkin on top. Carefully roll up the meat and fix with 2 toothpicks at the ends  or tie the roll with string.

In a large casserole dish, heat a splash of oil and sear the beef rolls on each side for 1 minute. Take them out, add a splash of oil and sauté the vegetables for a few minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute before you deglaze the vegetables with brandy. Put the beef rolls back in. Pour in the wine, the meat should be almost covered, add the herbs and spices and season with salt and pepper. Close with a lid and cook on medium-low heat (slightly simmering) for 2 1/2 – 3 hours or until the meat is tender. Take out the meat and vegetables and cook down the sauce for a few minutes. Season to taste and put the beef rolls and vegetables back into the casserole dish. Serve with the potato dumplings.

 

For the potato dumplings

potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes, 450g / 16 ounces
butter 30g / 1 ounce
organic egg yolks 2
plain flour 150 – 200g / 5.5 – 7 ounces
nutmeg, grated, to taste
salt 1 1/2 teaspoons
black pepper, grated, to taste
white bread, cut into 1cm / 1/2″ cubes, 3-4 slices

Cook the the potatoes in salted water until soft (around 15 minutes). Drain them before you press them through a potato ricer and mix immediately with the butter and egg yolks. Put in a cool place (in the fridge) until the mixture is completely cool(!).

In a large pot, bring plenty of salted water to the boil. Set the oven to 100°C / 210°F and put an ovenproof dish inside. You will need it to keep the dumplings warm while you cook them in batches.

With a spoon (or your hands), mix the cold potato mixture with the flour (use enough so that the mixture isn’t too sticky), salt, nutmeg and pepper until combined. Dust your hands with flour, take a heaped tablespoon of the dough and from a small, thick disc. Put 3 bread cubes in the middle and roll into a ball. Put the dumplings onto a floured baking sheet. Before you cook them in the water you might have to put them back into a round shape as they tend to flatten.

Cook the dumplings in batches in the boiling water so that they can float, turn the heat down to medium heat (simmering). Let them cook for 10 minutes and take them out with a slotted ladle. Keep them in the warm dish in the oven until you are done with the last batch.

This will make about 10-12 dumplings. They also taste great fried in butter the next day!

German Beef Rolls with Potato Dumplings

 

German Beef Rolls with Potato Dumplings

 

German Beef Rolls with Potato Dumplings

 

German Beef Rolls with Potato Dumplings

Grilled Feta and Fennel Sandwich with Caper Berries

Grilled Feta and Fennel Sandwich with Caper Berries

There are two ways to deal with Christmas, some stay at home and celebrate with family and friends and others travel as far away as they can. I belong to the first group, I’m too bound by tradition and memories to let go of my annual rituals and jump into something completely new. Although it sounds exciting (and the exodus has started already around me), I’m very happy where I am, at home! I love to listen to all the plans and stories of the exotic places where some of my friends go, but I wouldn’t want to change the cold here with the warmth of a Caribbean beach. I would feel strange sitting under a palm tree in a bikini with a Piña Colada in my hand while imagining everyone else having roast duck and warm eggnog under the Christmas tree. I never tried, as I was always worried that it would make me nostalgic at one point and that is the only thing I don’t want to happen on that day.

So this year, many of my friends are off to India for some reason and I caught myself in a quiet moment thinking of our summer holiday. The first memory that came into my mind was about food (as always). I had to think of our quick salads, tomatoes and greens tossed together with olive oil, capers and Gbejna, the wonderful Maltese goat cheese. I felt a bit melancholic so I might as well live it out in a sandwich, and here it is: a sesame sandwich with grilled feta, crunchy fennel, tomato, parsley, chili peppers and caper berries. It’s not summer, the vegetables aren’t really in season (and not at their aromatic peak either) but I just felt like it and it was good! The grilled cheese covered up some of the missing flavours of ripeness but we enjoyed every bite!

Grilled Feta and Fennel Sandwich with Caper Berries

 

Grilled Feta and Fennel Sandwich with Caper Berries

Grilled Feta and Fennel Sandwich with Caper Berries

For 4 sandwiches you need

sesame buns, cut in half, 4
feta cheese, sliced, 200g / 7 ounces
small fennel bulb, cut into very thin slices, 1
medium sized tomato, thinly sliced, 1
fresh chili pepper, cut into rings, 1
caper berries, the stem cut off, quartered, 4
fresh parsley leaves, a small handful
olive oil, for the topping
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar, for the topping

Spread 2 slices of fennel on the bottom of each bun and put the feta cheese and a slice of tomato on top. Sprinkle with chili pepper, parsley, a little olive oil and black pepper and put a quartered caper berry on top. Grill for about 3 minutes or until the cheese turns golden. Close the bun and put it under the grill for another minute. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Grilled Feta and Fennel Sandwich with Caper Berries

 

Grilled Feta and Fennel Sandwich with Caper Berries

 

Grilled Feta and Fennel Sandwich with Caper Berries

Spinach and Gorgonzola Quiche

Spinach and Gorgonzola Quiche

Here’s my perfect starter for the soon to come Christmas lunch (or dinner): a golden spinach and gorgonzola quiche! It tastes fantastic, looks beautiful and I can prepare it in advance which means I can spend more time nibbling cookies with friends and family in front of the tree. The wonderful buttery pastry and the aromatic topping of hearty greens and cheese add a rustic touch to the festive table with linen, candles and ornaments. Just garnish it with some sprouts and nuts on the side and it’s done!

Although there will be lots of activity, excitement and people at the table next week, I refuse to put myself under pressure. I want to enjoy these days in peace with my full attention on the people and food around me. Last year, I made a silly decision, I took pictures of our Christmas dinner for the blog before we ate and that didn’t really help the festive mood. This time I don’t want a camera, my computer, a phone or any other technical device around me, this Christmas will be analog!

When it comes to festive cooking, the right organization can make life so much easier. I always try to finish my grocery shopping 1-2 days before there’s the big run on the supermarkets, butchers and delicatessen stores. It makes me nervous to wait in long queues for half an hour to buy a few pieces of cheese and paté. As soon as everything is gathered in my kitchen, I can relax. I always choose dishes that I can prepare in advance as much as possible, especially the starter and dessert. When the main course is an oven dish, a roast or a slow cooked stew which does the job on its own without my help, there are just the side dishes left to prepare, which is fun to do together with the guests (and a glass of wine or champagne)!

If you go for the quiche, you can eat it warm or cold, we like both, especially if you serve it with a salad, but you could also warm it up quickly if your oven is on anyway. Here are some variations if you’re not too fond of spinach:

Tomato and Mozzarella Di Bufala Quiche, Fennel Tart, Leek and Tomato Quiche or you spread some pear and blue cheese on top of the pastry (without eggs and cream) and bake it for 10-15 minutes.

Spinach and Gorgonzola Quiche

 

Spinach and Gorgonzola Quiche

Spinach and Gorgonzola Quiche

For a 30cm / 12″ quiche in 1 baking dish or tart pan you need

For the short crust base

plain flour 250g / 9 ounces
butter, cold 125g / 4.5 ounces
organic egg 1
salt 1 teaspoon

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 work the butter into the flour until combined (there shouldn’t be any lumps of butter left). Add the egg 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.

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 it with a fork and blind-bake in the hot oven for 12 minutes or until golden. Take your baking dish out of the oven and set the temperature down to 175°C / 350°F.

The quiche

spinach leaves, rinsed, 500g / 1 pound
Gorgonzola, torn into pieces, 80g / 3 ounces
organic eggs 5
heavy cream 100ml / 3.5 ounces
crème fraîche or sour cream 200g / 7 ounces
salt 1 teaspoon
pepper
nutmeg, freshly grated, a generous amount

Blanche the spinach in salted water for 1 minute, drain and rinse with cold water, drain again. When the spinach is cool enough to touch with your hands (mind that it’s hotter in the centre), squeeze it well and chop it roughly.

Mix  the eggs with the heavy cream, crème fraîche, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Spread the spinach on top of the pre-baked pastry base and pour the egg and cream mixture over it. Spread the gorgonzola on top and bake the quiche for about 40 minutes or until golden brown, the top should be firm. Let it cool for a few minutes before serving.

Spinach and Gorgonzola Quiche

 

Spinach and Gorgonzola Quiche

 

Spinach and Gorgonzola Quiche

 

Spinach and Gorgonzola Quiche

 

Spinach and Gorgonzola Quiche

A Christmas Chocolate Panettone

Chocolate Panettone

We always had at least one huge panettone under our Christmas tree and I used to be more fascinated by the packaging than the  bread. I love the dramatic Italian way of wrapping everything in long bows and sparkling glossy boxes in candy colours. My style is so minimal throughout the year, that at Christmas time, I enjoy indulging myself in a little kitsch and opulence, too much is just right at this time! Although I used to enjoy the wrapping so much, the content of the boxes couldn’t always keep up with my expectations, the panettone was often too sweet, too dry or so light and airy that it felt (and tasted) artificial.

When I decided to bake my own panettone this week, for the first time in life, I got more and more intimidated the more I read about it. So often it’s described as a moody and difficult bread and some bakers had to bake hundreds before they found the right formula! I didn’t have that much time, and I’m quite impatient, so I started studying. I feel that a good panettone resembles a French brioche in some details, the richness and colour, the flowery taste, the reserved sweetness. The Italian bread is just not as soft on the outside and a bit more airy and fluffy inside. So what makes a good brioche? Lots of egg yolks and butter! That was my starting point. Although the most popular panettone feature raisins and candied peel, I went for lots of bittersweet chocolate chunks and orange zest and that was a good choice. When the bread was in the oven, a spontaneous guest came over and said, “it smells like Italy, like real panettone!” That relaxed me a bit, at least I had the right smell in the house!

Chocolate Panettone

The preparation of the panettone dough takes some time, it has to rise twice, 90 minutes for the first time and 60 minutes when it’s already in the form. I made it with dry yeast and let it process in the warm oven at 35°C / 95°F. I follow this technique with all of my yeast based doughs and it works wonders. It rises so much quicker and better. You could also use your heater but I find that the oven works best. I didn’t buy a special panettone form, I just used a normal cooking pot lined with buttered parchment paper which I let come up high enough for the bread to bake in the shape of a cylinder. The baking paper went up 20cm ( 8″) which was a bit too high, I could have cut it shorter for the dough to rise above the rim like a mushroom, next time… A panettone is quite dark on the outside but it’s important that it doesn’t burn. At one point the top has to be covered with aluminum foil and the temperature changes, from 200°C (390°F) to 180°C (355°F) and then to 160°C (320°F) for the last 10 minutes. I took the bread out of the oven after 40 minutes to check if it was done and gently knocked on it’s underside (it’s quite fiddly to do as it’s very hot and fragile), but it needed some more time on a lower temperature for the centre to cook through.

When you bake a bread for the first time, you can just follow your nose, your ears and fingers when you knock on it, it’s exciting and, in the case of this bread, it made me a bit nervous. It had to wait until the next day to cut and try it as I wanted the chocolate to harden first. So the next morning, we held a little ceremony at the table, I solemnly cut the slices of my first Christmas panettone! The center was cooked through and still juicy, so the baking time and temperature was right, I felt relieved! The bread was fluffy but rich and it tasted like a Mediterranean Christmas, this was all I hoped for. The flowery aroma of the oranges combined wonderfully with the bittersweet chocolate. I spread a bit of butter on top and enjoyed my work in peace. Happy Advent!

Chocolate Panettone

 Chocolate Panettone

For 1 panettone (18cm / 7″) you need

plain flour 500g / 1 pound
(I used white spelt flour type 630)
dry yeast 2 packages (each for 500g / 1 pound)
sugar 100g / 3.5 ounces
salt 1/2 teaspoon
a pinch of nutmeg
zest of 1 orange (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
organic egg yolks 5
butter, melted, 170g / 6 ounces
milk 220ml / 1 cup
bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped, 100g / 3.5 ounces
almonds 4, for the topping
heavy cream 4 teaspoons, to brush the top
icing sugar, for the topping

Mix the melted butter with the milk and egg yolks, the mixture should be lukewarm.

In  a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and orange zest. Add the milk/ butter/ egg mixture and mix with the dough hooks for about 5 minutes or until well combined. Knead with your hands for about 1 minute, it should be soft and glossy. Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with a tea towel and let it rise in a 35°C / 95°F warm oven ( top / bottom heat, no fan!) for about 90 minutes or until doubled in size. While the dough is rising, put the chocolate in a plastic container and keep it in the freezer.

Butter the inside of an 18cm / 7″ cooking pot (about 10cm / 4″ high). Cut a 15cm / 6″ wide strip of parchment paper, long enough to be wrapped around the inside of the pot with both ends overlapping generously. Butter the parchment paper on one side. Line the sides of the pot with the parchment paper (the butter side should be facing inwards). Push the overlapping ends of parchment paper together.

Punch the dough down and take it out of the bowl, give it a quick knead and mix in the cold chocolate with your hands. Form a bowl and put it into the prepared pot. Carefully cover it with a light tea towel (on top of the parchment paper) and let the dough rise in the warm oven for another 60 minutes or until doubled in size.

Take the pot out and set the oven to 200°C / 390°F, fan-assisted oven (210°C / 410°F top/ bottom heat).

Brush the top of the dough with the cream and cut a cross into the surface with a sharp kitchen knife. Decorate with the almonds. Bake the panettone for 10 minutes and turn the temperature down to 180°C / 355°F (190°C / 375°F top/ bottom heat). Bake for 20 minutes, cover the top with a piece of aluminum foil if the top gets too dark, and bake for another 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to 160°C / 320°F (170°C / 340°F top/ bottom heat) and bake for another 10 minutes. If you use top / bottom heat bake for another 15 minutes. Carefully take the pot out of the oven (it will be very hot!) and let the panettone cool in the pot for at least 30 minutes or until it’s stabile enough to cool on a wire rack. When it’s completely cool, dust with icing sugar.

Chocolate Panettone

 

Chocolate Panettone

 

Chocolate Panettone

 

Chocolate Panettone

 

Chocolate Panettone

Slow roasted Duck a l’Orange with Lingonberry Port Gravy

slowroastedduckalorange1

So many options for the Christmas table and so many choices to be made! We’re lucky as we have two Christmases to celebrate, following my German tradition on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day, for my partner and our guests from Malta. This means we have to decide on two starters, two main courses, desserts and wine, but one thing is for sure, we’ll have two days of feasting and laughing and I can’t wait to get started!

In the past few weeks I’ve put together various menus in my head, with roasts, stews and poultry, and so far, just one thing is set: there will be one (or rather two) slow roasted ducks on the table. This is my little tradition which I’m not willing to compromise on. The recipe I use guarantees the most tender meat, it tastes fantastic with red cabbage and spaetzle on the side, and gravy, of course, lots of gravy which I love so much. In the past few years I filled the duck with a rich meat and liver stuffing similar to a paté, but it’s time to try something new. For my pre-Christmas test dinner, I stuffed it with oranges, apples, chestnuts, onions and herbs. The focus is on the citrus’ fruitiness which merges so wonderfully with the meat’s juices and makes such a rich sauce. I mixed in some lingonberry jam and port, a quick sauce which tastes just heavenly! I didn’t change the method of cooking, I worked with the same time and temperature as every year (3 1/2 hours on 85°C / 185°F with the grill turned on for the last few minutes), the result is so reliable that I wouldn’t dare to mess with it. This is how my mother cooks her duck as well and I trust her blindly when it comes to poultry.

She only failed once and it wasn’t her fault. Years ago, she made a huge turkey for the whole family which had to cook in the oven for hours. At one point, we covered it with foil, following the recipe which seemed to work fine until this point. When my mother took the turkey out we all gathered around a little table. I remember the pride in her face, of a cook who’s waited impatiently to show the fruit of hours of work. She lifted the foil but the bird was pitch black (it almost looked mummified) and to make it even worse, a leg fell off with a dull thud. In a dry tone, all my mother could say was “I think it’s done.” We looked at each other and couldn’t stop laughing! The thermostat in her oven broke and changed the temperature. Although things didn’t turn out as we had planned, what I love about this night is that even years later we still talk about it and it makes me laugh till I cry whenever I think about it and picture the scene of my family gathering around the burned turkey. We tried to make the best out of it and cut off a few (edible) pieces and enjoyed it with lots of gravy on a sandwich!

slowroastedduckalorange6

 

slowroastedduckalorange2

Slow roasted Duck a l’Orange with Lingonberry Port Gravy

For 3 – 4 people you need

duck (with giblets), rinsed and dried, 1 (about 2.5kg / 5.5 pounds)
large orange, rinsed, cut into small wedges, 1
medium sized onions, cut into small wedges, 3
apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges, 2
chestnuts, boiled and peeled, a handful
fresh thyme, a small bunch
bay leaf 1
fresh sage leaves 10
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar, 1 teaspoon
coarse sea salt 2 teaspoons
olive oil
lingonberry jam 3 teaspoons (plus more to taste)
port (or brandy) 50ml / 1/4 cup
red wine 50ml / 1/4 cup
freshly squeezed orange juice 25ml / 1/8 cup

Set the oven to 85°C / 190°F (I used the Rotitherm roasting setting).

Heat a splash of olive oil and cook the duck on medium heat for 1 minute on all sides until golden brown. Mix the pepper and salt, rub the duck with it (inside and out) and stuff it with orange, apple, onion, 3/4 of the thyme, the bay leaf, 1/2 the sage and 1/3 of the chestnuts. Arrange the remaining fruit, herbs and vegetable around it and cook the duck for 3 1/2 hours in the oven. Pour some of the fat over the skin while it’s cooking. When it’s done, check with a skewer, only clear juices should come out. Turn on the grill for just a few minutes until the skin is golden brown.

For the gravy, fry the giblets in a little olive oil for a few minutes until golden brown and deglaze with the port. Take out the giblets, add the red wine and orange juice and bring to the boil. Stir in the lingonberry jam and pour the duck’s juices (without the fat) into the sauce, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the duck with the gravy, stuffing, the remaining chestnuts, red cabbage and spaetzle.

slowroastedduckalorange6.2

 

slowroastedduckalorange4

 

slowroastedduckalorange3

 

slowroastedduckalorange5

Chestnut Mousse, Prosciutto di Parma and Caramel Pear Sandwich

Chestnut Mousse, Prosciutto di Parma and Pear Sandwich

I wanted to create a Christmas sandwich that combines all I love about the four lavish weeks that end the year. Chestnuts, caramel, pear and cinnamon, this sweet aroma that welcomes me as soon as I open my spice box, and the heavy odor of my golden quince brandy shouldn’t be missing. And there’s more on the list, paper thin Prosciutto di Parma and fleshy thyme leaves which I use for all my wintery stews, gratins and legumes have to feature as well. This herb is the perfect match for both the chestnuts and the fruit, so there’s plenty to work with between two slices of sourdough bread!

This sandwich is a bit baroque, it’s luscious and sweet but with a certain finesse. The chestnut mousse (I bought the nuts pre-cooked for reasons of convenience) is velvety and smooth, refined with cinnamon, brandy, orange and cream. The pears are glazed with buttery caramel and stick to Parma‘s wonderful prosciutto. It’s a lot to taste and enjoy, but this season demands a touch of opulence!

Chestnut Mousse, Prosciutto di Parma and Pear Sandwich

 

Chestnut Mousse, Prosciutto di Parma and Pear Sandwich

 Chestnut Mousse, Prosciutto di Parma and Caramel Pear Sandwich

For 3 sandwiches you need

white sourdough bread 6 slices
Prosciutto di Parma 6 slices
crisp pear, cut into slim wedges, 1
butter 2 tablespoons
sugar 2 tablespoons
chestnuts, pre-cooked and peeled, 200g / 7 ounces
heavy cream 75ml / 1/3 cup
brandy or port 1 tablespoon
freshly squeezed orange juice 2 tablespoons
ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon
a pinch of salt
fresh thyme leaves 2 tablespoons

Purée the chestnuts, heavy cream, brandy, orange juice and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the thyme in a food processor until smooth and season with a pinch of salt and cinnamon to taste.

Melt the butter and sugar in a pan. Caramelize the pear wedges in the hot brown butter for about 1 minute on each side.

Spread the chestnut mousse on a slice of bread, lay the prosciutto and pear on top and sprinkle with thyme.

Chestnut Mousse, Prosciutto di Parma and Pear Sandwich

 

Chestnut Mousse, Prosciutto di Parma and Pear Sandwich

 

Chestnut Mousse, Prosciutto di Parma and Pear Sandwich

 

Chestnut Mousse, Prosciutto di Parma and Pear Sandwich

 

Chestnut Mousse, Prosciutto di Parma and Pear Sandwich

Lentils with Pomegranate and Dukkah

Lentils, Pomegranate and a spicy Nut Dukkah

This dish caused one of those exciting kitchen moments that leave you speechless. I had a rough idea of what I wanted to throw together but when it was finally on my plate, it blew my mind. I have wanted to mix black Beluga lentils with the glowing red of pomegranate seeds for quite a while as I couldn’t resist this colour combination. I felt sure that something that looks so beautiful together must also match on a culinary level!

A couple weeks ago I read about dukkah which reminded me of this great mixture of seeds, nuts and spices so popular in Egyptian cooking. So I decided to add this as well. I prepared a selection of hazelnuts, pistachios, sesame and sunflower seeds and took some black peppercorns, coriander and fennel seeds and cumin from my spice box to make the mixture complete. The lentils cooked with a bunch of fresh thyme and a bay leaf before I stirred in a splash of olive oil. I arranged the legumes on the plates with the crunchy pomegranate seeds and my dukkah and was mesmerized by its beauty and simplicity. The first bite made me speechless, it was fantastic! The nuttiness of the lentils combined with the dukkah and the sweet and sour pomegranate is one of the best things my dark Belugas have ever seen (apart from my Lentil Salad with Blue Cheese and Pear).

Lentils, Pomegranate and a spicy Nut Dukkah

 

Lentils, Pomegranate and a spicy Nut Dukkah

Lentils, Pomegranate and a spicy Nut Dukkah

You can keep the remaining dukkah in a jar and use it for salads and soups.

For 3-4 people you need

lentils (preferably Beluga) 250g / 9 ounces
bay leaf 1
fresh thyme, a small bunch
olive oil
pomegranate 1

For the dukkah
hazelnuts 30g / 1 ounce
sunflower seeds 20g / 3/4 ounce
pistachios 20g / 3/4 ounce
sesame seeds 20g / 3/4 ounce
fennel seeds, crushed in a mortar, 1 teaspoon
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar, 1/2 teaspoon
coriander seeds, crushed in a mortar, 1 teaspoon
ground cumin 1/4 teaspoon
coarse sea salt 1/2 teaspoon

Mix the ingredients for the dukkah in a food processor.

Peel the seeds out of the pomegranate.

Cook the lentils according to the instructions on the package with the bay leaf and thyme but without salt. Mine needed 20 minutes in 750ml / 1.5 pints of water. Stir in a splash of olive oil and season with a little salt. 

Arrange the lentils on the plates sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and a tablespoon of dukkah.

Lentils, Pomegranate and a spicy Nut Dukkah

 

Lentils, Pomegranate and a spicy Nut Dukkah

 

Lentils, Pomegranate and a spicy Nut Dukkah

 

Lentils, Pomegranate and a spicy Nut Dukkah

 

Lentils, Pomegranate and a spicy Nut Dukkah

Espresso Meringue Cookies with Spiced Chocolate Ganache

Espresso Meringue Cookies with Spiced Chocolate Ganache

The peace and silence of a Sunday morning is just perfect for an Advent baking session. I take my time to choose a recipe that fits my mood, lay out the ingredients and I’m filled with a kind of excitement that isn’t too far away of what I felt as a child when I used to prepare this same ritual with my mother. Years have past and now it’s my own kitchen filled with the most beautiful smell of cookies and Christmas cakes but the magic of this moment touches me just as much.

Although my oven doesn’t see meringue too often, I have to make my luscious meringue sandwich beauties at least once during the Christmas season. Two delicate drops of espresso meringue cookies stuck together with the most aromatic bittersweet chocolate ganache refined with cardamom and cinnamon are such a sumptuous treat! The whipped egg whites turn into crisp bites which are a perfect contrast to the creamy lusciousness of the dense filling.

This is an adult cookie, it needs a bit of care and gentle handling but it’s worth it. There are so many festive treats which don’t ask for much, a quick short crust dough, some fancy or nostalgic cookie cutters and the kitchen turns into a christmassy bakery. My meringue cookie is a little diva, it demands special treatment, care and attention, but the result is so amazing that the attitude is forgiven. The great thing about the Advent season is that there are four weeks of festive baking, four weekends to choose from traditional family recipes, experimental new discoveries and delicious finds from various culture’s culinary cookie collections. Every week, there are new spices to use, new pastries to work with to bring the sweet classics from our childhoods back to the table. Nuts and seeds, flour, chocolate, spices and icing sugar spread all over the kitchen tops, this is a picture full of memories which makes this time of the year so special to me.

I had an unexpected little visitor this weekend who joined my baking. Our godchild visited me to take a look at our Christmas tree and also helped me prepare a batch of Gianduja cookies. The two of us listened to some music, rolled out the dark Kipferl between our hands and had a chat. Now I’m the one who can pass on my cookie knowledge to the next generation and maybe he will remember this moment when he’s in his own kitchen one day, as a man, rolling Kipferl. We were both really sad when his father came to pick him up but we already have a date for another baking session!

Have a wonderful 2nd Advent!

And here’s some inspiration for more christmassy cookie recipes: buttery Vanilla Kipferl, Chocolate and Apricot Jam Sandwich Cookies, Bittersweet Spice Cookies, Maltese Lemon Cookies, German Spitzbuben Cookies, Elisenlebkuchen

Espresso Meringue Cookies with Spiced Chocolate Ganache

 

Espresso Meringue Cookies with Spiced Chocolate Ganache

Espresso Meringue Cookies with Spiced Chocolate Ganache

The ganache has to cool in the fridge for a few hours or in the freezer, or you can let it harden overnight, like I did.

For about 20 sandwich cookies you need

For the ganache

good quality bittersweet chocolate 150g / 5.5 ounces
heavy cream 150 ml / 5 ounces
instant espresso powder 1/2 teaspoon
ground cardamom 1/8 teaspoon
ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon

In a sauce pan, heat the cream and add the chocolate, espresso and spices. When the chocolate is melted whisk the mixture until well combined, let it cool and keep in the fridge for a few hours until stiff.

 

For the meringue cookies

organic egg whites 4
sugar 180g / 6.5 ounces
a pinch of salt
white wine vinegar 1/2 teaspoon
instant espresso powder 2 teaspoon

Set the oven to 140°C / 275 °F (top / bottom heat) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk the egg whites and salt until stiff. Slowly add the sugar and vinegar and continue mixing until stiff and glossy. Mix in the espresso powder and fill the meringue mixture in a piping bag (with a wide opening). Pipe walnut sized mounds on the lined baking sheet, leaving some space in between them. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until they are golden and firm on top. They should easily peel off the parchment paper. Let them cool completely on a wire rack before you stick them together with the ganache.

 

Assembling the cookies

Whisk the hard ganache until light and creamy (like a frosting). Spread the ganache on one cookie and gently (!) stick another one on top.

Espresso Meringue Cookies with Spiced Chocolate Ganache

 

Espresso Meringue Cookies with Spiced Chocolate Ganache

 

Espresso Meringue Cookies with Spiced Chocolate Ganache

 

Espresso Meringue Cookies with Spiced Chocolate Ganache

 

Espresso Meringue Cookies with Spiced Chocolate Ganache

 

Espresso Meringue Cookies with Spiced Chocolate Ganache

 

Espresso Meringue Cookies with Spiced Chocolate Ganache

Potato, Apple and Black Pudding Gratin

Potato, Apple and Black Pudding Gratin

Golden potatoes, apples and onions roasted together make a wonderfully sweet and fruity gratin but you can top that by spreading a few slices of black pudding (or German Blutwurst) over the fruit and vegetables. Sprinkle this oven beauty with fresh thyme and you’ll be rewarded with the most aromatic winter gratin!

Black pudding has a difficult image – unfortunately! Although the taste is often enjoyed, I know quite a few who have a problem with the fact that the sausage gets its dark red colour from blood. It’s one of the oldest sausages which was highly appreciated by the Romans and it also got mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey: “As when a man beside a great fire has filled a sausage with fat and blood and turns it this way and that and is very eager to get it quickly roasted .” I love its sweet and aromatic taste and soft texture. I often fry slices of Blutwurst in butter for just a few minutes and eat them with mashed potatoes, fried onions and apples. This is the German classic called Himmel und Ääd, meaning Heaven and Earth, it’s very popular in the Rhineland area where I come from. I mentioned this great combination of fruits from the soil and the trees when I wrote about my parsnip and pear soup.

For my gratin, I layered slices of boiled potatoes, apples and onions and put the sausage on top. You could also tuck them in between the vegetables but then you would miss out on their almost caramelized texture. After 30 minutes in the oven, the blood pudding turned into crunchy bites which were still soft inside, it was so good!

Potato, Apple and Black Pudding Gratin

 

Potato, Apple and Black Pudding Gratin

 Potato, Apple and Black Pudding Gratin 

For 2 as a main or 4 as a side dish you need

potatoes, peeled, boiled and sliced, 650g / 1.5 pounds
large onion, cut in half and sliced thinly, 1
large sour apple, peeled, cored, quartered and sliced, 1
black pudding, peeled and cut into 0.5cm / 1/4″ slices, 200g / 7 ounces
olive oil
sea salt and pepper
fresh thyme, a small handful

Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F (I used the Rotitherm roasting setting) and brush the bottom of a baking dish (around 28 x 20cm / 11 x 8″) with olive oil.

Layer the potatoes, apples and onions in the dish. Sprinkle with a splash of olive oil, salt and pepper and put the sausage and thyme on top. Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Check after 20 minutes, if the sausage gets too dark, put it under the potatoes.

Potato, Apple and Black Pudding Gratin

 

Potato, Apple and Black Pudding Gratin

Tomato, Leek and Oregano Cream Cheese Sandwich

Tomato, Leek and Oregano Cream Cheese Sandwich

Today’s sandwich reminds me a bit of pizza although there’s no melted cheese in the recipe, but if you combine the milky taste of cream cheese with dried oregano and put this on a yeasty bun with tomatoes, you’re already half way there. It’s a lighter and quicker version, easy to prepare as a little snack for lunch.

The dried oregano should be organic if possible as it tastes remarkably better, as so do the cherry tomatoes. Heirloom fruits are the best, especially in winter, as they offer a variety of flavours from honey sweet to fruity and tart. They also look really pretty with their different shapes and shades of yellow, green, red and brown. Some are almost black, quite dramatic! For my sandwich, I just cut them in half and left them uncooked to keep their crunchiness and freshness. I brought in some leek cut into very thin slices which I sautéed in a little olive oil, they were smooth with a soft hint of onion and merged well with the creaminess of the cheese. This is an easy sandwich, exactly what I need sometimes in a month full of culinary opulence and lusciousness!

As much as I try to stick to the seasons when it comes to vegetables, in winter I can’t live without tomatoes. I accept that the skin is a little bit thicker at this time of the year, and you can taste that they aren’t spoiled with sun anymore. But if you choose well, you can find some colourful little treasures that please your taste buds.

Tomato, Leek and Oregano Cream Cheese Sandwich

 

Tomato, Leek and Oregano Cream Cheese Sandwich

 Tomato, Leek and Oregano Cream Cheese Sandwich

For 2 sandwiches you need

white buns, cut in half, 2
mixed heirloom cherry tomatoes, cut in half, a handful
leek, just the white part, cut into thin slices, 1/4
cream cheese 200g / 7 ounces
dried oregano 1/4 teaspoon, to taste
salt
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar, for the topping
olive oil

Sauté the leek in a little olive oil for a few minutes until soft and golden. Whip the cream cheese with oregano and salt. Season to taste.

Spread a thick layer of the whipped cream cheese on the bottom of the buns and sprinkle them with the sautéed leek. Garnish each bun with tomatoes, some more oregano and crushed pepper before you close it.

Tomato, Leek and Oregano Cream Cheese Sandwich

 

Tomato, Leek and Oregano Cream Cheese Sandwich

 

Tomato, Leek and Oregano Cream Cheese Sandwich

 

Tomato, Leek and Oregano Cream Cheese Sandwich

 

Tomato, Leek and Oregano Cream Cheese Sandwich

Roasted Red Cabbage and Orange Wedges with Maple Syrup

Roasted Red Cabbage with Orange

Every year, in late October or early November, our family and friends ask where and how we’re going to celebrate Christmas this year. I often have problems thinking myself into the festive situation so early on. The tree, the food, baking cookies, visiting Christmas markets in the snow, it all feels so far away at that point. But now, a month later, I’m ready to jump into it and enjoy it to the fullest. Our Christmas tree is set up in all its glory, the living room is lit up in candle light and my oven is on practically constantly. Fruit cakes, cookies, pies and roasts have the wonderful side effect that they fill the whole flat with the most beautiful smells and aromas!

The big decision for Chrsitmas is already made, we’ll celebrate at home together with my sister in law Emma from Malta and her partner. I know that there will definitely be a duck on the table at one point, my flambéed Christmas pudding and paté, cheese and champagne while we cook. My beloved red cabbage will be on the menu as well, but after so many years of cooking this vegetable traditionally with the obligatory spices, apples and chestnuts, it’s time for a change. In the next few weeks, I will try out some new recipes and variations on my festive classics. So let the test cooking begin!

When I looked at the red cabbage, this crunchy ball of purple prettiness, I decided that, this year, I’ll roast it with some sweet orange and a little thyme. For my test cooking session, I cut the cabbage and citrus fruit into thin wedges and coated them with a syrupy olive oil mixed with orange juice and maple syrup. The added sweetness combined with the fruitiness of the orange and the roasting flavour was great, the cabbage was al dente in the middle and soft at the ends of the leaves. It was just right and looked surprisingly pretty on the plates!

Roasted Red Cabbage with Orange

 

Roasted Red Cabbage with Orange

Roasted Red Cabbage and Orange Wedges with Maple Syrup

As a side dish for 4 you need

red cabbage, quartered, cut into slim wedges, 800g / 1 3/4 pounds
organic orange, rinsed and scrubbed, cut into slim wedges, 1
olive oil 50ml / 2 ounces
freshly squeezed orange juice 1 tablespoon
maples syrup 1 tablespoon
salt and pepper
fresh thyme, a small bunch
Balsamico vinegar for the topping, to taste

Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F.

Whisk the olive oil, maple syrup and orange juice.

Spread the cabbage and oranges on a baking sheet and coat with the oil (use your fingers). Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with thyme (leave 1-2 tablespoons of the leaves for the topping). Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, turn the cabbage and oranges and cook for another 15 minutes or until the cabbage is al dente. Turn on the grill for 1-2 minutes until golden brown. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves and a little Balsamico vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted Red Cabbage with Orange

 

Roasted Red Cabbage with Orange

 

Roasted Red Cabbage with Orange

 

Roasted Red Cabbage with Orange

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