eat in my kitchen

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

Bread Salad with Tomato and Basil and an early morning swim

Bread Salad with Tomato + Basil

The most beautiful sparkling blue and a fantastic snorkeling trip was our reward for leaving the house quite early on Sunday morning while everyone else was still asleep in the village. I’m awake earliest (together with Jenny) so it was my job to get the other ones out of their beds and into the car. I managed and off we went to Wied iz-Zurrieq for an early Sunday morning swim before we went to the fish market in Marsaxlokk.

Imagine a fjord cut deeply into barren rocks, steep cliffs tumbling into the calm, crystal blue sea in the protected bay. The water is so clear that you can see the seabed metres below and swarms of colourful fish swimming around your feet. The blue of the sea is just mesmerizing, I love to go there in the morning, when the sun is low and creates sparkling reflections which reach deep into the water. I’m obsessed with snorkeling and this is one of my favorite spots.

Most of the tourists come here to visit the famous Blue Grotto, fishermen in tiny colourful wooden boats – Luzzus in Maltese – take them around the corner of the fjord to show them the grotto’s fascinating shades of blue. I’m here to see the big schools of fish along the cliffs and to swim through the bubbles of the divers who are getting ready for their trip from this spot. If you visit this place you should either come very early in the morning to enjoy the water and sea world or in the early evening when fishermen’s families come to take an evening swim at the end of the fjord. There’s lots of chatting and laughing, kids jumping into the sea and older boys looking for octopus. This scene is as beautiful as it is timeless, the atmosphere is basically the same as it was 100 years ago. This is Malta as it’s always been and how it will hopefully stay!

Bread Salad with Tomato + Basil

 

Bread Salad with Tomato + Basil

At home in Jenny’s kitchen, I’m back in my cooking groove and one of the dishes that I prepared for us was my personal ultimate holiday salad, Panzanella, a bread salad with tomatoes, red onions, basil and mint. It’s perfect for a quick lunch when the temperatures are so high that you don’t even want to switch on the cooker. When I was a child, we used to go to a village close to Luca in Tuscany for our summer holidays. One of the dishes my mother prepared very often (and I loved) was this salad. In the South, bread tends to dry out much quicker because of the high temperatures, there is always some stale bread lying on the table waiting for further processing. So this recipe comes in handy quite often when we’re here in Malta.

Bread Salad with Tomato + Basil

Bread Salad with Tomato, Basil and Onions

For 2 people you need

medium sized tomatoes, thickly sliced, 3
a small red onion, chopped, 1
white bread, cut into big cubes. 1 thick slice
fresh basil leaves, a handful
olive oil 3 tablespoons
Balsamico vinegar 2 tablespoons
salt and pepper

Arrange the tomatoes in a big plate and sprinkle with the onions, bread and basil leaves. Whisk the olive oil and vinegar, season with salt and pepper to taste and pour over the salad, serve immediately.

Bread Salad with Tomato + Basil

 

Bread Salad with Tomato + Basil

 

Bread Salad with Tomato + Basil

 

Bread Salad with Tomato + Basil

 

Bread Salad with Tomato + Basil

Moscato Prawn Pasta and a Festa to celebrate our arrival in Malta

Moscato Prawn Pasta

I’m finally back in Malta! I can’t describe how much I’ve been looking forward to having my feet on Maltese ground again. I just wanted to smell the air, feel the sun on my skin and see all the beloved faces at the airport again – and finally we’re here again!

When I went to Malta for the first time I learnt that the arrival at the airport is the beginning of a big, endless family feast. Aunts and uncles, cousins, the grandmother of course, sisters, brothers and my Maltese Mama Jenny, there is always a big welcoming committee waiting for us at the gate and escorting us to the house in Msida, our home town for the weeks to come. On the way there I took a deep breath of the salty air mixed with the sweet scent of oleander and wild thyme, this is Malta to me!

In the next weeks I’ll be cooking and baking in Jenny’s kitchen – and her garden as that’s where the grill is. I will share some of my favourite summer dishes with you, show you around on the islands a bit and introduce some passionate food and wine lovers to you. I will show you this wonderful place in the Mediterranean through my eyes but for a bigger picture I will be meeting and writing about Arnold, the bee keeper and Sam who produces his own olive oil, my baker, the butcher, farmers, wine and cheese makers, chefs and Maltese Mamas who’ve been cooking traditional meals for their families for many years. We will exchange recipes so that you and l can get the chance to learn a few more secrets of traditional Maltese cooking. These people, their profession and passion will show you the side of Malta that I fell in love with nine years ago. I hope I can give you an insight into this culture and food but also its warm, hospitable people who make me feel at home every time I come back.

Moscato Prawn Pasta

 

Moscato Prawn Pasta

One of the many things I’m always looking forward to impatiently when we’re in Malta is to go to the fish market in Marsaxlokk in the south of the island. The freshness and variety is overwhelming, especially for someone like me who lives in the city far away from any water (apart from rivers and lakes). Every Sunday, the fishermen offer their catch of the last night. They go out in the dark into the open sea with their colourful boats in blue, red and yellow to come back from their fishing trip a few hours or days later and fill their tables with swordfish, tuna, sea bream, moray eels, prawns and many more. These aren’t big companies, these are families who have been in the fishing business for many generations.We went there yesterday and I didn’t know where to start and when to stop filling our ice box!

One of our purchases were Maltese prawns, the best I ever ate, almost sweet in taste. We threw them on the grill with some garlic and lemon, and enjoyed them with Maltese bread and wine to celebrate our arrival!

Next time when I write about one of our seafood meals I will tell you a bit more about Marsaxlokk, the fishing village and it’s  picturesque atmosphere but for now I’m off to the beach!

Moscato Prawn Pasta

 

Moscato Prawn Pasta

The weekend of our arrival happened to be Msida’s Festa – the holy feast – in honour of Saint Joseph. Each village praises its patron saint with days of celebration including fireworks and a long procession with the saint’s statue carried through the whole village. If you ever get the chance to join a Festa in Malta you will understand a lot about the Maltese culture, its traditions but also about the people’s untamable will to celebrate and enjoy life!

Moscato Prawn Pasta

 Moscato Prawns with Linguine

For 4 people you need

linguine 300g / 10.5 ounces
prawns (in their shells, the heads removed) 300g / 10.5 ounces
garlic, quartered, 2 big cloves
Moscato wine 75ml / 2.5 ounces
water used to cook the pasta, 50ml / 1 3/4 ounces
freshly squeezed lemon juice, 2 tablespoons plus more to taste
olive oil
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar
salt

Cook the pasta al dente in lots of salted water.

In a large pan, heat a splash of olive oil together with the garlic. When the oil is hot add the prawns and sauté for 1 minute. Deglaze with half of the wine, add the rest of the wine, the lemon juice and the water. Mix in the pasta and season with salt, crushed pepper and lemon juice to taste, serve immediately.

Moscato Prawn Pasta

Cherry and Chocolate Muffins

Cherry and Chocolate Muffins

After almost six weeks without baking any muffins it was time to pull out the tray again. I mentioned my excessive cherry shopping last week and this recipe is only one of the baking results that this led too. There was the Swabian Kirschenmichel and a couple other sweets that didn’t even make it onto the blog, it was just too much cooking and baking to write about!

So here’s one of my creations, muffins stuffed with chunky bittersweet chocolate and sweet dark cherries, unpitted to keep them firm and juicy. I find this combination is one of the best for muffins. Although I love them with blueberries or with my blood orange marmalade mixed into the dough, but the sweetness of the black fruits and the dark chocolate melted into the cakey sponginess is just too good! So good that I fill each mold with one third more of the dough than I usually do, more dough means bigger muffins!

Cherry and Chocolate Muffins

 Cherry and Chocolate Muffins

For a muffin tray with 12 molds you need

fresh black cherries, unpitted or pitted, 250g/ 9 ounces
bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped, 100g / 3.5 ounces
plain flour 320g / 11.5 ounces
sugar 100g / 3.5 ounces
baking powder 3 leveled teaspoons
baking soda 1/2 teaspoon
salt 1/4 teaspoon
milk 210ml / 7 ounces
butter, melted, 120g / 4.5 ounces
organic eggs 2

Set your oven to 190°C / 375°F (fan-assisted oven) and put paper baking cups into the 12 molds.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk the milk, melted butter and eggs in another bowl. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture, stir with a wooden spoon until you have a lumpy dough. Gently fold in the cherries and chocolate. The more you mix it the more it will lose its light texture.

Fill the muffin tray and bake for 15 minutes or until golden.

Cherry and Chocolate Muffins

 

Cherry and Chocolate Muffins

 

Cherry and Chocolate Muffins

Cantaloupe Melon in Pastis

Cantaloupe Melon in Pastis

I have a weak spot for pastis, chilled with two ice cubes and a shot of water and I also use it to refine my recipes. I mentioned yesterday that I love this liqueur, it’s my favourite drink in bars and bistros. In summer it feels refreshing and in winter time I get a cosy feeling from the strong anise aroma. It’s my drink, for years now!

A while ago I travelled along the Côte d’Azur in my car. One afternoon I was seduced by the sight of a lonely bay and decided to stop for a quick swim. I left all my luggage in the car (I was young and unexperienced in traveling) and went for a late afternoon swim. When I got back, the car was gone and I was left with the clothes on my body, a towel and my wallet. I was in a mess, it was the first time something was stolen from me so I did what lots of daughter’s do in a situation like this and called my mother.

Crying and sobbing, I tried to explain the situation on the phone. I wasn’t in a state for a proper conversation, I felt ashamed. My mother, who is quite a pragmatic character, told me to calm down, get everything organised at the police station and then head to the next decent looking bar and have a pastis. I obeyed, the drink worked and I chilled out! In the end, I even got my car back but the luggage was gone (mine, my boyfriend’s bags were still there!). I found out that the thieves tend to take the cars to a quiet place to empty them, lesson learnt! I never left my luggage unattended in a car again but I also understood that any material loss is frustrating but not a tragedy!

Over the years I found out that my beloved pastis has lots of potential in the kitchen, sweet and savory. Here’s a fruity recipe which is a great summery alternative to an aperitif, sweet little balls of Cantaloupe melon in pastis! All you need is a ripe melon, either cut into cubes or scooped out with a melon baller (I found out about this strange name just a few days ago). You mix the fruit with pastis and water and pick them out of a whiskey glass with cocktail picks (or toothpicks).

It’s my birthday today and this will definitely be one of my treats!

Cantaloupe Melon in Pastis

 

Cantaloupe Melon in Pastis

Cantaloupe Melon in Pastis

This is a rough guideline which you can easily adapt to your taste

For 4-6 people you need

a ripe Cantaloupe melon
pastis, chilled, to taste

For 12 balls of melon mix 1 1/2 shots of pastis with 1 1/2 shots of water and pour over the fruit. Put 6 fruity balls in a whiskey glass and fill just the bottom with the pastis/ water mixture. Serve with cocktail picks or wooden toothpicks.

You can either make it fresh and serve immediately or let the fruit soak for a few hours (which will increase their alcoholic impact), in which case you should keep it in the fridge.

This recipe focuses on the fruit rather than on the drink. You could also make a cocktail by adding just 2-3 balls of melon to a glass of 2cl of pastis filled with water and 1-2 ice cubes.

Cantaloupe Melon in Pastis

 

Cantaloupe Melon in Pastis

 

Cantaloupe Melon in Pastis

 

Cantaloupe Melon in Pastis

Green Beans, Fresh Herbs and a Fried Egg

Pastis Beans with Herbs + a Fried Egg

Three different kinds of fresh herbs are spread on my table, ready to be mixed with my sautéed green beans! I chose a few sprigs of fresh thyme, summer savory and marjoram from my herbal pot selection to turn this simple dish into an aromatic combination of crisp greens and fried eggs. I deglazed the beans with pastis to add one more flavour, a wonderfully warm anise! The strong aroma of this liqueur lifts the beans up to another level, it works with fava beans as well!

Unfortunately, many people around me are not too fond of anise aroma, it’s one of those spices that is mentioned the most when I ask people about their culinary dislikes. Therefore I keep this dish for the two of us and the few who appreciate pastis as much as I do, be it on a plate or in a glass.

Tomorrow I will share a recipe with you which shows off this liqueur’s sweet side!

Pastis Beans with Herbs + a Fried Egg

 Green Beans, Fresh Herbs and a Fried Egg

For 2 people you need

green beans, the ends cut off, 250g / 9 ounces
a small onion, cut in half and sliced thinly, 1
pastis 50ml / 1 3/4 ounces
water 50ml / 1 3/4 ounces
garlic, thinly sliced, 2 cloves
thyme a small bunch
summer savory 2 sprigs
marjoram 2 sprigs
olive oil
salt and pepper
organic eggs 2
butter

In large sauce pan, heat a splash of olive oil and cook the onions on medium temperature for 2 minutes. Add a little more oil and the beans, stir and cook for 3 minutes. Deglaze with the pastis, season with salt and pepper, add the water and herbs and cook with a closed lid for 8-10 minutes or until the beans are al dente. Season with salt, pepper and pastis to taste.

Heat a little butter in a pan and fry the eggs on a medium heat. Serve the eggs on top of the beans.

Pastis Beans with Herbs + a Fried Egg

 

Pastis Beans with Herbs + a Fried Egg

Spaghetti in Fennel Oil with Chorizo and Cherry Tomatoes

Spaghetti with Chorizo + Fennel Oil

In March I cooked a pasta dish with lots of fennel seeds roasted with crunchy bacon. For the sauce I mixed these aromatic and oily bits and pieces of spice and meat with tinned tomatoes because at that point the fresh ones were still far away from offering more than a watered down hint of what a real tomato tastes like. I enjoyed this meal a lot, it was rich and hearty, it felt like comfortable late winter food. The only problem was at that point I was already thinking of all the fresh vegetables I would be cooking with as soon as the cold season would be over. I could see fresh tomatoes, ripe and strong in taste, straight from the market ending up in my pan.

Here’s a pasta meal that was one of my visions for summer which also includes fennel seeds. This time I cook the seeds in a bit more olive oil than I would normally use and let them spread their aroma. When the oil is infused I cook slices of spicy chorizo in it together with a thinly sliced fennel bulb. The vegetable softens after about 5 minutes of cooking but I make sure that it doesn’t lose its bite, I keep it crisp. To finish the meal off, I mix the spaghetti directly in my heavy pan in these spicy and oily juices and top it with the halves of fresh cherry tomatoes, uncooked, pure and sweet. I dreamt of this meal in March and got it in July. That wasn’t that bad, some things take longer!

Spaghetti with Chorizo + Fennel Oil

 Spaghetti in Fennel Oil with Chorizo and Cherry Tomatoes 

For 3-4 people you need

spaghetti 300-400g / 10.5 – 14 ounces
fennel bulb, cut in half or quartered depending on the size and cut into very thin slices, 300g / 10.5 ounces
spicy chorizo, very thinly sliced, 60g / 2 ounces
olive oil 50ml / 1 3/4 ounces
fennel seeds, slightly crushed in a mortar, 1 1/2 tablespoons
cherry tomatoes, cut in half, 15
salt and pepper

Cook the spaghetti in lots of salted water al dente.

In a large heavy pan, heat up the oil on a medium heat and add the fennel seeds. Let them infuse the oil for 2 minutes, add the chorizo and cook for 1 minute. Add the slices of fennel, cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes or until al dente. Take the pan off the heat, mix the spaghetti with the vegetable and oil and add the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Spaghetti with Chorizo + Fennel Oil

 

Spaghetti with Chorizo + Fennel Oil

Chicken Sandwich with Red Cabbage and Orange Olive Oil

Chicken Sandwich with Red Cabbage and Orange Oil

I ordered a chicken sandwich recipe and I got one that is hard to beat in aroma, juiciness and lusciousness!

My boyfriend is the one who got me hooked on sandwiches. One of his sandwich creations was actually the reason I started my Sandwich Wednesdays. He’s been going on about a chicken sandwich for weeks and I think he just got tired of waiting any longer. I asked him to come up with an inspiration but he created a whole new sandwich instead. Thick and juicy slices of chicken breast, topped with red cabbage coleslaw, spring onions and a fantastic olive oil which he infused with orange peel for a few minutes in the oven.

My job was to choose the bread! I bought my Swabian soft buns again, the same I used for my Kirschenmichel. They have a nice sweet and eggy taste and the perfect soft texture to soak up all these juices. We could squeeze them easily, which is quite important when you have a sandwich this tall and you try to take the first bite! Eating it was a joyful mess, look at the pictures and you can imagine the scene.

The orange flavoured oil was so good that I have a few ideas in mind to use it for. You just need to put a baking dish with strips of orange peel and some olive oil in the oven and after 8 minutes you’ll have the most aromatic infusion on your table!

Chicken Sandwich with Red Cabbage and Orange Oil

 

Chicken Sandwich with Red Cabbage and Orange Oil

Chicken Sandwich with Red Cabbage and Orange flavoured Olive Oil 

For 6 sandwiches you need

soft buns, cut in half, 6
chicken breast 400g / 14 ounces
small red cabbage, cut into thin strips, 1/4 around 160g / 5.5 ounces
apple, peeled, cored and cut into julienne, 1
yoghurt 100g / 3.5 ounces
spring onion, cut into slices, 1
orange peel 4 long strips
freshly squeezed orange juice 1 tablespoon
olive oil 5 tablespoons plus more for the chicken
salt and pepper

In a bowl, mix the cabbage with 1 teaspoon of salt and rub with your fingers. Let it sit for 10 minutes to soften the texture. Mix the cabbage, apple, yoghurt and orange juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F.

You can cook the chicken and orange flavoured olive oil at the same time but in 2 separate dishes.

In a small baking dish, mix 4 tablespoons of olive oil with the orange peel and set aside.

In a heavy pan, heat a splash of olive oil and cook the chicken breast on medium temperature for a few minutes on each side until golden. Put the chicken on a baking dish and roast in the oven together with the orange oil for about 8 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Check with a skewer, only clear juices should come out.

Cut the chicken in thick slices (18 for 6 sandwiches). Drizzle a bit of the orange flavoured oil on the bottom side of a bun, cover with 3 slices of chicken and a heaped tablespoon of coleslaw. Sprinkle with spring onion, close the bun and start the mess!

Chicken Sandwich with Red Cabbage and Orange Oil

 

Chicken Sandwich with Red Cabbage and Orange Oil

Red Currants with Cardamom Yoghurt

Red Currants with Cardamom Yoghurt

This is one of my summer highlights! Only five ingredients create this seasonal feast, red currants, yoghurt, whipped cream, cardamom and sugar. As soon as I spot the little red berries at the markets nothing can stop me from buying them, weekly! Their firm skin holds all the juices together that spread with the first bite and you never know if it will be more on the sweet or the sour side depending on each berry’s ripeness. I like to mix them with a very creamy yoghurt flavoured with cardamom and a little sugar. The smooth milkiness balances out the tart fruit without taking any of its qualities away. Instead of just buying a rich yoghurt I like to mix the normal one with with sweetened heavy cream whipped with cardamom. It creates a thick and fluffy texture – it tastes divine!

When I prepared my fruits and cream, a friend from Canada popped into my kitchen spontaneously. As soon as she saw the glowing red of the berries her attention moved away from me to the fruit. Feasts are there to share, so I handed her a bowl of my creamy yoghurt topped with red currants, she looked as happy as a child in a candy store!

Red Currants with Cardamom Yoghurt

 

Red Currants with Cardamom Yoghurt

Red Currants with a creamy Cardamom Yoghurt

For 2-4 people you need

red currants 500g / 1 pound
yoghurt 500g / 1 pound
heavy cream 200g / 7 ounces
sugar 2 tablespoons plus more to taste
cardamom 1/4 teaspoon plus more to taste

Whip the cream together with the sugar and cardamom till thick and fluffy. Gently fold into the yoghurt and season to taste.

Serve the berries on top of the yoghurt.

Red Currants with Cardamom Yoghurt

 

Red Currants with Cardamom Yoghurt

Mediterranean Feta and Vegetable Casserole

Mediterranean Feta and Vegetable Casserole

It was a cold, grey evening when my aunt Ursula invited us to dinner a few years ago. We meet quite often to enjoy good food and wine together but that day we felt tired from work and weren’t in the mood for a heavy meal. When we arrived at her apartment we saw that she hadn’t set up the table in the dining room as she normally does but created a comfy dining scene in her living room. The low table was packed with loaves of bread with herbs and dried tomatoes, a few dips and a bottle of red wine was just waiting for us. Our mood was lifted straight away, this was exactly what we needed, a relaxed evening on the sofa! When Ursula came out of the kitchen with a steaming dish in her hands, filling the air with the smell of roast vegetables and herbs she had our attention and we felt awake again!

The meal she served became one of my most beloved dishes, Mediterranean vegetables on top of a thick slice of feta roasted in the oven for only half an hour. By the end of it you have a plate full of juicy, partly crunchy vegetables that you can spoon onto a thick slice of bread together with the aromatic cheese and herbs, it’s delicious! The mix of zucchini, red and yellow bell pepper, aubergine, red onions, garlic and lots of thyme and rosemary became my favourite, personal variation on this recipe. Just throw together a composition that suits your taste and put this on a slice of a French country bread, ciabatta or focaccia and I’m sure you’ll be as happy as I am whenever I cook this meal!

I love to make this when friends come over, I just put one or two big casseroles on our long table, a few loaves of bread, some wine – this is the perfect food and atmosphere to let the laughing and chatting begin! Or to celebrate that Germany won the World Cup!

Feta Casserole with Zucchini, Bell Pepper + Aubergine

Mediterranean Vegetable and Feta Casserole

For 4 people you need

feta cheese, 2 slices, around 2cm / 3/4″ thick, 400g / 14 ounces
medium sized aubergine, cut into 1cm / 1/2″ cubes, 1
medium sized zucchini, cut in half and sliced, 1
yellow bell pepper, cut into cubes, 1
red bell pepper, cut into cubes, 1
medium sized tomatoes, cut into cubes, 3
medium sized red onions, cut into 8 pieces, 2
garlic, 8 cloves in their skin
olive oil 60ml / 2 ounces
thyme, a small bunch
rosemary, 6 sprigs
salt and pepper

Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F (I use the Rotitherm roasting setting).

Put the feta cheese next to each other in a baking dish, cover with the vegetables, garlic and herbs and season with salt and pepper. Pour the olive oil on top and mix until everything is coated in oil (add a little bit more if it’s not enough). Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft, they shouldn’t burn. Check the aubergine first as it needs the longest to cook. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with rustic white bread.

Feta Casserole with Zucchini, Bell Pepper + Aubergine

 

Feta Casserole with Zucchini, Bell Pepper + Aubergine

 

Feta Casserole with Zucchini, Bell Pepper + Aubergine

Apricot Clafoutis

Apricot Clafoutis

My Apricot Clafoutis is as easy to make as pancakes – and it’s at least as addictive! It looks like a tart but the texture is more like a flan, it’s not too sweet, light and fruity. I can imagine it as a wonderful dessert for a summer dinner, sitting outside in a garden and finishing the meal with a pretty French clafoutis.

We had a friend over and as soon as the clafoutis was out of the oven, we gathered in my kitchen and waited impatiently for it to cool down a bit. We cut this scrumptious little thing into pieces and it was nearly gone in 15 minutes! It’s one of those sweet treats that you end up eating in one go without noticing. Our guest had never tried this French dish before and he looked quite taken by its taste – he was the first one who asked for a second piece!

Traditionally, a clafoutis is made with black unpitted cherries but I needed a cherry break as I ate far too many of them in the past few days. Apricots were my first choice, and I almost prefer them in this dish. I like how they blend in with the vanilla flavoured batter. They aren’t as sweet as peaches or cherries which fits very well in this composition. I also left out the traditional icing sugar on top, all the flavours were so well balanced that I didn’t feel the need to add more sweetness.

Apricot Clafoutis

 

Apricot Clafoutis

 Apricot Clafoutis

For a 23cm /9″ heavy pan or baking dish you need

apricots, cut in half, 6
flour 80g / 3 ounces
sugar 4 tablespoons
a pinch of fresh vanilla
a pinch of salt
butter, melted, 30g / 1 ounce
organic eggs 4
milk 200ml/ 7 ounces
brandy 3 tablespoons
optionally
icing sugar for dusting

Set the oven to 190°C / 375°F (fan-assisted oven) and butter the pan generously.

Combine the dry ingredients. Whisk the milk, eggs, brandy and melted butter and pour into the dry mixture, mixing constantly until well combined.

Spread the apricots in the pan and pour the batter on top. Bake for 20 minutes, turn the oven down to 175°C / 350°F and bake for another 8 minutes or until the clafoutis is golden and set. Let it cool for 5 minutes, leave it in the pan or turn it around and sprinkle with icing sugar if you like, serve warm.

Apricot Clafoutis

 

Apricot Clafoutis

 

Apricot Clafoutis

meet in your kitchen | Phia & Josh bake Mum’s French Cake

Phia, Josh and a Fruit Cake

This is the start of a new series of features on the blog - meet in your kitchen! I will be meeting artists, chefs – people with a great passion for what they do, in their kitchen, to cook or to bake while we talk about their culinary life, current projects and inspiration.

I’m very excited to start with two artists who I first saw live a couple years ago, Phia and Josh! Phia performed on a houseboat on a big lake outside Berlin and mesmerized me with her singing, her Kalimba and the loops she created during her show.

The two artists grew up in Melbourne and decided to move to Berlin three years ago to grow as artists and touch new musical ground. They soon found that their ideas worked well together and the time was ripe for a colaboration. Phia, the singer who plays the kalimba and Josh, the guitarist and producer understand and enhance each other and in a few months they will share their musical vision on the first Phia album!

Although the two are very busy in the studio at the moment they took some time out and invited me to their Berlin kitchen. They arrived in the city with little more than a suitcase and had to piece together everything from scratch. The furniture and every single pot, plate and mug has its own story, mostly coming from friends who moved back home or flea markets, a unique space full of soul and personal memories.

Phia’s family is very passionate about cooking, both her parents love to be creative in the kitchen. She chose to share a very special recipe with me that she used to bake with her mother when she was a child, a recipe rich in young kitchen memories! It’s Mum’s French Cake, a spongy and fruity cake which is as delicious as it is quick and easy to bake, a perfect candidate for those spontaneous late night (or early morning) baking sessions! Phia covered the cake with apples, but plums are another of her favourites for this recipe.

Phia, Josh and a Fruit Cake

 

Phia, Josh and a Fruit Cake

Mum’s French Cake

“I chose a really simple cake recipe that my mum taught me. I’m not the most confident baker but this one is so simple. Depending on how large you want the cake, you take 1-3 eggs and weigh them, then put in the same weight of flour, melted butter and sugar. Then choose whatever fruit you want to put on top. My mum actually brought the recipe home from a French class she was in when I was younger.  So the first time we made it we did it in French: “… deus oeufs …” etc!”

For an 18cm / 7″ springform pan you need

apple, quartered and thinly sliced, 1
organic eggs 2
weigh the eggs with their shells and measure the same weight of the following ingredients
plain flour
butter, melted
sugar
baking powder 1 tablespoon
a pinch of salt

Set the oven to 180°C / 355°F and butter the springform pan.

Combine the dry ingredients. Mix the eggs and butter for a few minutes till fluffy and add the dry mixture, mix until well combined. Pour the dough into the springform pan, arrange the apples in circles and bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Check with a skewer, it should come out clean. Serve warm!

Phia, Josh and a Fruit Cake

You both grew up in Australia, what are your food memories? 

Josh: Australia is a fairly wealthy country with really good weather and at various times a great influx of immigrants from around the world (although not currently because of our extreme rightwing government). This has meant that food is in wide variety and really great quality. You could find Indian, Afghan, Vietnamese, Italian, Greek, Chinese, Turkish, Thai, African, Lebanese, Japanese and a lot more (as well as modern fusion) to a beautiful standard all within close proximity. Restaurants just don’t survive if they’re not doing it the way it’s done in the home country. I guess we’re spoilt in a culinary way. This standard or commitment to food is still lagging very much in Germany which I find surprising because there are a lot of people from around the world living there. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist but I still have not found a decent curry.

What effect did the move to Berlin have on your cooking?

Phia: I’ve become a lot more confident since moving here! Last year I became really bored with the recipes that I knew, so I bought a couple of cookbooks and made some new meals. My favourite was Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Plenty”, a vegetarian cookbook. He has this delicious soup made with chickpeas based on a Tuscan ribollita which I make a lot now.

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

Josh: I started lifting weights after high school, trying to get buff. At the time I was known as “Mr. Vegetarian” because I was pretty big but still vegetarian. My memory of cooking by myself (that wasn’t frozen dim sims or pizza) was a taco filling that was packed with kidney beans and chickpeas for protein.

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

Phia: We are really spoiled for choice in our part of Neukölln. All of these are within walking distance of us:

Favourite coffee: Five Elephant, a super nice place in Reichenbergerstrasse
Delicious and cheap tapas: Gaston on Weserstrasse
Best gelati: Fräulein Frost on Panierstrasse
Fresh fruit and veggies: the turkish market on Maybachufer

Josh: Everything Sophia has said plus ‘Il Casolare’ – excellent pizza and atmosphere by the canal.

You live and work in Berlin at the moment, what are your upcoming projects?

Josh: The Phia album is still in full swing, still producing… we’ve mixed some of the tracks and still going over the editing and post-production stuff for quite a few of them. Final mixing should happen at the end of August. 

I’ve been producing some music for a few other artists too.

I’m also working on my own project ‘Josh The Cat’. I sing songs, tell stories, dance a little bit with my guitar. Influenced by Bowie, TuneYards and Radiohead but people say it’s sounds a bit like The Whitest Boy Alive with a loop pedal and I look like the guitarist from Incubus. I recently heard The Whitest Boy Alive have disbanded so maybe there is an opening for me.

What or who inspired you to become musicians?

Phia: I grew up in a household filled with music. My mum and my sister and I used to sing three part harmonies, I learnt piano, sung in lots of choirs and did musicals. It never occurred to me that I could be a professional musician though. At school I thought I would be a teacher, or a writer. After high school I made a spontaneous decision to enter a music university rather than the law degree I had been accepted into. I thought I’d complete a year and then go back to academia, but I stayed!

Why did you choose Berlin as the place to live and work?

Josh: I wanted to shake up my life a little. I’d played in a few different bands in Melbourne ranging from Synthpop, FreeJazz to Instrumental soundscape. It was either NYC, Tokyo or Berlin and Berlin won. It’s a great base for branching out, there’s a lot of creatives to bounce off and I find the East meets West, the old crashing into the new, inspiring.

You just finished recording your album, what were your biggest influences during the writing and recording process? 

Phia: The songs on the record definitely reflect the period of change of moving from Melbourne to Berlin. Some were written just before the move, and some after, and I think you can hear a continuous thread throughout the album of conflicted feelings change brings. The joy of expanding our experiences to the pull of homesickness. 

Our lifestyle has been so different since moving to Berlin. The people we’ve met, the places we’ve toured, even just day-to-day living in Neukölln and having the luxury of working on music. You can definitely hear that on the album.

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

Phia: I chose a really simple cake recipe that my mum taught me. I’m not the most confident baker but this one is so simple. Depending on how large you want the cake, you take 1-3 eggs and weigh them, then put in the same weight of flour, melted butter and sugar. Then choose whatever fruit you want to put on top. My mum actually brought the recipe home from a French class she was in when I was younger.  So the first time we made it we did it in French: “… deus oeufs …” etc!

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

Phia: Merril Garbus from Tune-yards. I bet she’d have some killer recipes.

Josh: The RZA from Wu-Tang Clan comes to mind. It would be good to have a chat with him too.

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

Phia: Definitely a big salad, maybe with orange and chickpeas, lots of wine, maybe some roast veggies or a baked dish.

Josh: Depends what is in the house. I find lentil soup very satisfying and hopefully the guests would too.

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

Phia: I wasn’t the most adventurous eater as a child so it was probably that Australian staple borrowed from our Italian immigrants – spaghetti bolognaise. Now I love eating new foods from the countries we go on tour. Last year I tried perogi in Poland for the first time, which was amazing.

Josh: My favorite food is Indian or Sri Lankan, I love the spices they use and the vivid flavours. Although I’m not vegetarian I prefer vegetarian food and this goes well for me with all the lentils, vegetables, chickpeas and the occasional paneer their food has. I don’t remember particularly liking food as a very young child but I guess I’ve liked any food from Asia since about the age of 12 or 13. I’ve always hated asparagus and it still makes me gag.

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

Phia: When I wasn’t so confident I needed to do it on my own, I didn’t like being watched! But now I love learning from others and it is fun to cook together.

Josh: I think someone who is good with food generally needs patience or at the very least a sensibility for how all the elements interact. I don’t really have that. Or perhaps my problem is that I usually try to ignore I’m hungry until I am absolutely ravenous and by that point I have no patience for preparing things properly. So cooking for myself comes out of necessity and cooking with others is probably more fun because it has probably been planned ahead. By others, I mean Sophia, who has good ideas generally, plans ahead and never allows herself to get so hungry as to become irrational and hasty as I do.

Which meals do you prefer, improvised or planned?

Phia: I’m definitely a meal planner – no improvising in the kitchen for me!

Josh: I would admit that conceptually a planned meal should work out the best but I haven’t properly tried that.

Which meal would you never cook again?

Josh: When I was at university I was known by my housemates for my signature dish: “bachelor’s special” which ingredients consisted of pretty much everything cooked in a saucepan served over some sort of carbohydrate. I think I’ll leave that one in the past.

Thank you Phia and Josh!

Here you can listen to Phia and Josh’s music and find out when the album will be released: www.listentophia.com

Phia, Josh and a Fruit Cake

 

Phia, Josh and a Fruit Cake

 

Phia, Josh and a Fruit Cake

 

phia16

 

Phia

 

phia17

 

Phia, Josh and a Fruit Cake

Roast Chicken with spiced Peaches

Roast Chicken with Peaches

This is peach heaven! Finally the fruits are so juicy and ripe, that every bite into their velvety skin is so sweet and refreshing that I eat them every day, in the morning, for lunch or as an after dinner dessert. As always, I can’t stop myself at the market, I buy them in bulk, the round and yellow ones, round and white and the flat galaxy (or vineyard) peaches. The whole variety finds its place in my kitchen! Sometimes I end up with more than we can eat, so peach jam is definitely on my list but for now I use them in my Roast Chicken with spiced Peaches.

A few years ago I cooked a roast chicken recipe from a Jamie Oliver book, he prepares the meat with pineapple and spices and purées some of the fruit to a thick sauce. My boyfriend who loves this dish cooks it quite often, we changed a few things and always replace the pineapple with peaches, rub the chicken with lemon oil and add some thyme which is great in this combination. The two of us disagree on one point and that’s how much of the fruit should be turned into a smooth sauce. He prefers lots of sauce and I like it chunky, so it’s up to you how much of the roasted peaches you put in the food processor. He is for a half – half ratio and I prefer 1:3!

Either way it tastes delicious, fruity and spicy, the meat is perfectly juicy and the skin is crisp – you can’t ask for more when there’s roast chicken on your table!

The leftovers, meat and sauce, are great on a sandwich!

Roast Chicken with Peaches

 

Roast Chicken with Peaches

Roast Chicken with spiced Peaches

For 2-3 people (or 4 if you have a starter and dessert) you need

free range/ organic chicken 1,5kg / 3.5 pounds
big galaxy (vineyard) peaches, quartered, 8
bell pepper, cut into strips, 150g / 5.5 ounces
small red onions, cut into 8 pieces, 3
fresh red chili pepper, finely chopped, 1/2
fresh ginger, a 2cm / 3/4″ pieces, thinly sliced
garlic, 3 cloves, 1 thinly sliced and 2 in their skin
thyme, a small bunch
parsley, the leaves of a small bunch
freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 tablespoon
olive oil 2 tablespoons plus more for the peaches
fennel seeds, slightly crushed in a mortar, 1 tablespoon
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar, 1 teaspoon
coarse sea salt, 1 teaspoon

Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F (I use the Rotitherm roasting setting).

Put the peaches, bell pepper and onions in a baking dish and mix with the chili, ginger, the slices of garlic and a splash of olive oil. Lay half the thyme and parsley on top.

Whisk the lemon juice and olive oil and rub into the chicken’s skin. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables, stuff it with the rest of the herbs and sprinkle with pepper, salt and fennel seeds and rub slightly into the skin.

Roast for 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Check with a skewer, only clear juices should come out. If you want the skin to be a bit more crisp turn on the grill for the last 1-2 minutes.

Set the chicken aside. Take out the thyme, peel the garlic out of its skin and put together with 1/3 to 1/2 of the fruit, vegetables and parsley into the food processor and purée to a smooth sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy together with a juicy chicken breast or leg and some chunky fruit.

Roast Chicken with Peaches

 

Roast Chicken with Peaches

 

Roast Chicken with Peaches

 

Roast Chicken with Peaches

Orecchiette with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Buffalo Mozzarella and Basil

Orecchiette with Grilled Tomatoes + Mozzarella

This meal started off with an image in my head. Quite often I imagine recipes visually, I can see the colours, the texture, the whole composition is just waiting to get out of my head onto a plate. For days I’ve been mentally carrying a Tuscan picture with me (it’s Tuscan to me at least). I had a big bowl of orecchiette in mind, topped with roasted cherry tomatoes on a branch. I could see the woody sprig turning black and the firm skin of the red fruit grilled and burst creating a smoky sweetness to mix with my pasta. Sprinkled with pieces of Buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil it turns into a tasty beauty in green, white and red – the Italian flag on a plate!

This is another one of these simple and perfect Italian dishes, the classic combination of tomato, mozzarella and fresh herbs which I love so much in various recipes. It is as good as an insalata caprese which I mix with mint as it is in a Panzanella, a Tuscan salad made with stale bread, a recipe which is on the top of my cooking list for when I’m in Malta (which will be very soon!).  You can throw it on pizza, quiche or mix it with any kinds of pasta, warm or cold, with rosemary, oregano, thyme or whatever your herb garden offers. This is the essence of pure Italian comfort food!

Orecchiette with Grilled Tomatoes + Mozzarella

 Orecchiette with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Basil

For 2 people you need

orecchiette 200g / 7 ounces
cherry tomatoes on a branch 500g / 1 pound
Buffalo mozzarella, torn into bite sized pieces, 125g / 4.5 ounces
big basil leaves, torn, 10
olive oil 50ml / 1 3/4 ounces
garlic, cut in half, 1 clove
salt and crushed black pepper

Cook the pasta in lots of salted water al dente.

Turn on the grill of your oven, put the tomatoes (on their branches) on a baking dish and roast for 12 minutes or until their skin starts to turn black and burst.

In a sauce pan, warm up the olive oil together with the garlic and leave on a medium-low heat for 1-2 minutes.

Divide the pasta between 2 big plates, mix with the garlic olive oil and top with mozzarella, basil and a roasted branch of tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and crushed pepper.

Orecchiette with Grilled Tomatoes + Mozzarella

 

Orecchiette with Grilled Tomatoes + Mozzarella

 

Orecchiette with Grilled Tomatoes + Mozzarella

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto with Rosemary and Thyme

Dried Tomato Pesto on Focaccia

7:1! That was a crazy night and I still can’t believe that Germany beat Brazil in the semi final with such an unbelievable result. After the 3rd goal I thought I was dreaming, and it went on, and on and on! Although I’m not the biggest football fan even I couldn’t keep my eyes off the game!

Time to calm down now, and nothing relaxes me more than a nice portion of carbohydrates! Luckily it’s Sandwich Wednesday again and after last weeks fruity and sweet roast apricots on Malin’s delicious turmeric bread I felt like something hearty again, a concentrated sun-dried tomato pesto with rosemary and thyme spread on an oily focaccia bun. I love this rich pesto just as much mixed with spaghetti, therefore I always prepare a big bowl to last for a few days and include at least one pasta meal. It’s great on pizza too and I’m sure there are a few other combinations you can come up with!

I always buy Maltese, Gozitan or Italian dried tomatoes. The ripe fruits taste so intense when they dry up under the Mediterranean sun, a bit oily and salty through the sea salt that helps the drying process. Before I throw them in the food processor I cook them in a bit of water for just a minute to soften them and rinse off excess salt. I purée them together with some pine nuts, garlic, fresh rosemary and thyme, olive oil and a bit of the salty liquid used to cook the tomatoes. Sometimes I add some fresh chili or cumin, basil is nice too! It’s one of these recipes you can easily adapt to your mood and taste!

Dried Tomato Pesto on Focaccia

 Sun-dried Tomato Pesto with Rosemary and Thyme 

For 4 people you need

sun-dried tomatoes, cooked in some water for 1 minute, 70g / 2.5 ounces
water used to cook the tomatoes, 2 tablespoons (if you use the pesto for a pasta dish add 6-8 tablespoons)
olive oil 50ml /2 ounces
pine nuts 20g / 1 ounces
garlic, 1 big clove
fresh thyme leaves 1 1/2 tablespoon plus more for topping
fresh rosemary, 1 tablespoon

optionally
chopped fresh chili, a pinch of cumin or fresh basil

for sandwiches
4 focaccia buns or 1 loaf of bread

for a pasta dish
spaghetti 400g / 14 ounes

Purée the ingredients in a food processor to a smooth paste and spread on the bread or mix with spaghetti cooked in lots of salted water (al dente).

Dried Tomato Pesto on Focaccia

 

Dried Tomato Pesto on Focaccia

Golden Corn on the Cob with Lemon Thyme Butter and Sea Salt

Sweet Corn with Lemon Thyme Butter

Golden corn on the cob is one of my culinary highlights in July! The temperatures rise (normally, not this summer), the wheat starts to turn the countryside to gold and the corn is high. We used to play in the corn fields when we were young – although we weren’t allowed, it’s the perfect place for hide and seek, especially if you’re only half the size of a corn plant.

I like to cook sweetcorn in sugared water until the kernels are tender but still crunchy, just soft enough to bite them off. I glaze the bright yellow with melted lemon thyme butter and sprinkle it with sea salt. That’s all it needs, this meal is about purism! Sometimes I cook a few more and cut off the corn, they stay fresh in the fridge for a couple days and are nice in salads or on pizza.

Everytime I hold a hot, buttery cob in my fingers and I taste their pure sweetness I feel like a child again – this is fun food!

Sweet Corn with Lemon Thyme Butter

 Corn on the Cob with Lemon Thyme Butter and Sea Salt

For 2 people you need

corn on the cob, husks and silk removed, 3
sugar 1 tablespoon
butter 30g / 1 ounce
lemon thyme 18 small sprigs (if your thyme is a bit woody, just use the leaves)
coarse sea salt

In a large pot, bring lots of water to the boil, add the sugar and sweetcorn and cook on a medium-low heat for 10-20 minutes until the corn is tender and you can loosen a kernel with a fork.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan, add the thyme and cook on a medium heat for about 2 minutes. The leaves shouldn’t get dark, just soften a bit.

Coat the sweetcorn with the melted butter and sprinkle with the sea salt and thyme. Enjoy!

Sweet Corn with Lemon Thyme Butter

 

Sweet Corn with Lemon Thyme Butter

Blini with Roe Cream and Dill

Blini with Roe Cream + Dill

I’m surrounded by caviar lovers, especially my mother who still talks about the tiny blue can I gave her as a present when I was still a child. I knew how much she loved it and I felt so proud and grown up when I bought it for her! The prices for this delicacy were much lower than they are now, unfortunately, those days are over. No black eggs as presents anymore!

Personally, I’m not crazy about it, I like and appreciate its fresh sea taste but the (much cheaper) red trout caviar is also fine for me. However I’ve been wanting to cook with it for quite a while and the time has come. I decided to go for the classic combination of buckweat blinis, roe cream and dill. It’s perfect for a summer brunch or as a starter for a dinner party, a small sumptuous treat!

The dip is also great on dark rye bread!

Blini with Roe Cream + Dill

Blini with Roe Cream and Dill

For 24 blinis you need

plain flour 100g / 3.5 ounces
buckwheat flour 50g / 1 3/4 ounces
dry yeast 2 leveled teaspoons
salt 1 teaspoon
a pinch of sugar
organic eggs 2
sour cream 100g / 3.5 ounces
milk, lukewarm, 200ml / 7 ounces
butter, melted, cooled off, 1 tablespoon
vegetable oil for frying

Combine the flour, buckwheat, salt, sugar and yeast. Add the milk, egg yolks, sour cream and butter and mix until well combined. Let the dough rise in a 35°C / 95°F warm ( top / bottom heat, no fan!) oven for 45 minutes.

Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt till stiff and fold into the dough before you cook it.

Heat a non-stick pan on a high-medium temperature and coat with a thin layer of oil. Pour in 2 tablespoons of batter for each blini and cook for around 1 minute on each side or until golden brown.

 

For the roe cream

trout caviar 100g / 3.5 ounces
cream cheese 200g / 7 ounces
sour cream 6 tablespoons
lemon zest 1 teaspoon
freshly squeezed lemon juice 2 teaspoons
salt and pepper
fresh dill, chopped, a small bunch, for topping

Whisk the cream cheese, sour cream, lemon zest and juice and season with salt (carefully, the roe will add some saltiness) and pepper to taste. Gently fold in the roe, leave a few to garnish the blinis.

Dollop a spoonful of the dip on each blini and top with some roe and dill.

Blini with Roe Cream + Dill

 

Blini with Roe Cream + Dill

 

Blini with Roe Cream + Dill

 

Blini with Roe Cream + Dill

Kirschenmichel, sweet Cherries in a Swabian Bread Pudding

Kirschenplotzer

Sweet, dark cherries bedded in an aromatic bread pudding spiced with cinnamon, cloves and Kirsch liqueur, that’s the famous Swabian Kirschenplotzer also known as Kirschenmichel! It’s a bit more firm and less soggy compared to other bread-based desserts, you can cut it like a cake but it still has the juicy texture that a good pudding should have.

I first found out about this cake through my step father. He grew up in the south of Germany, his mother and grandmother were specialists for traditional bread pudding. He taught me that unpitted cherries create the best result, this thankfully bypasses the pitting and so I enjoy the sweet fruits with all their juiciness. The bread you choose for the batter also has a big effect on the pudding’s taste therefore you should always use the best buns you can get. Mine are from a Swabian bakery, tasty, sweet and spongy soft buns. You can use stale white left over bread but I prefer to bake the pudding with cakey buns which aren’t too hard, they give it a nicer texture in my opinion. When it comes to the fruits I always buy fresh and not canned cherries. Preserved fruits work as well but their taste is watered down and not fresh enough, there’s no crunchiness left.

There’s one thing you should keep in mind when you take the first bite of this cake, mind the pits! I almost injured one of my cousins at one of our family gatherings when I forgot to tell her that I left out the pitting. Luckily, her teeth survived and everybody loved the cake. There is lots of spitting involved so you shouldn’t serve this cake at a formal afternoon tea, keep it for friends you know well!

Kirschenplotzer

Kirschenmichel

For a 25cm / 10″ springform pan you need

sweet cherries, unpitted, rinsed, 1kg / 2 pounds
hazelnuts, chopped, 60g / 2 ounces
sweet soft buns, fresh or stale, cut into cubes, 175g / 6 ounces (around 3-4 buns)
milk 350 ml / 12 ounces
organic eggs 3
a pinch of salt
butter, soft, 100g / 3.5 ounces
sugar 120g / 4 ouces
Kirsch liqueur 2 tablespoons
plain flour 100g / 3.5 ounces
baking powder 2 1/2 teaspoons
ground cinnamon 2 1/2 teaspoons
cloves, crushed, 4
breadcrumbs to line the pan

Set the oven to 180°C / 355°F (fan-assisted oven), butter and line the springform pan with breadcrumbs.

Bring the milk to the boil, put the chopped bread in a big bowl and soak it in the milk for a few minutes.

Beat the egg whites and salt till stiff.

Mix the butter and sugar till fluffy, add the egg yolks and Kirsch liqueur and mix for 2 minutes till creamy. Stir in the soaked buns with a spoon and mix well.

Combine the flour, baking powder and spices and stir into the butter egg mixture with a wooden spoon. When it’s well combined stir in the stiff egg whites. Add the cherries and nuts and pour into the springform pan.

Bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown. Check with a skewer, it should come out clean. Let the cake cool down for a few minutes.

You should keep the Kirschenmichel in the fridge but always serve it at room temperature!

Kirschenplotzer

 

Kirschenplotzer

 

Kirschenplotzer

Mâche, Avocado and Raspberry Salad with Honey

Mâche, Avocado + Raspberry Salad

This week I can’t get enough berries! When I see all those boxes filled with tiny colourful berries at the market I don’t even know where to start. Raspberries, gooseberries, red currants, strawberries, so much to choose from! Unfortunately, they haven’t reached their peak in sweetness yet due to our disastrous summer weather, but I enjoy them nonetheless. I can’t wait any longer, we only have them for a few months and I don’t want to miss out.

As much as I love to throw these fruits on tarts or enjoy them as a fruity nibbling alternative to chocolate, they are just as good in fresh and crunchy salads. Combined with the slices of a ripe and velvety avocado, they bring some freshness into the mix. Some mâche salad (also known as field salad or lamb’s lettuce) mixed in adds some crunchy bite, perfect for those hot days which I’m still hoping for optimistically. I’ll be in Malta soon, there I will definitely get my boiling hot summer weather but I won’t find my delicate raspberries. Sometimes you can’t have everything in life!

For the 2 of us, I spread a handful of lettuce on 2 plates and coverd each of them with the slices of a quarter of a soft avocado and 8 raspberries. I wanted to keep the dressing sweet and fruity, you can use either Balsamico vinegar or raspberry vinegar (or mix the two of them). Whisk 3 tablespoons of olive oil with 2 tablespoons of vinegar, add 1/2 a teaspoon of honey and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over your salad sparingly.

Mâche, Avocado + Raspberry Salad

 

Mâche, Avocado + Raspberry Salad

Chilled Summer Sangria with Rosemary

Sangria with Rosemary

This is one of the best summer drinks, chilled summer sangria with lots of orange juice and woody rosemary. I use more juice than wine, so it’s stuffed with vitamins – you could almost call it a healthy drink! The juice of a lemon adds a bit of sourness which I don’t want to weaken with too much sugar. Only 1 tablespoon, that’s all I put in and its enough to push the fruit’s natural sweetness. A glass of brandy and a few orange slices make this Spanish classic complete. You could also chop in some peaches or strawberries, but I like to concentrate on citrus fruits. That’s how I remember it from my holidays in Ibiza and that’s how I love it. The rosemary is my personal customization, we tried it once and got hooked on it.

For 1 big bowl of sangria, I mixed 750ml / 1.5 pints of dry red wine with 900ml / 2 pints of good quality orange juice and 150ml / 5 ounces of brandy. I added the juice of a lemon, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 4 small sprigs of rosemary and the slices of 1 organic orange. The sangria is best slightly chilled and when it can sit for at least 1 hour.

Sangria with Rosemary

 

Sangria with Rosemary

 

Sangria with Rosemary

Sea Bream with Mint and Parsley on Onion and Tomato

Baked Sea Bream with Mint and Parsley

A whole fish cooked in one piece is ideal to stuff with herbs, vegetables or spices. Be it baked in the oven or on the grill, the meat doesn’t dry out and absorbs all the strong aromas, it’s my favourite way to cook it. It’s also less fragile to handle, a fact that always puts me off when I think of flipping over thin fish fillets in a pan.

When I cook a whole fish in the oven I simply follow my nose, at one point the air is filled with the smell of cooked fish and that’s the sign for me to check it. I make a short cut along the middle line on one side to see if I can lift the fillet off the bone. Most of the time this works, but don’t worry I will give you a time you can set for this sea bream recipe!

I stuffed the bream with parsley and mint and put it on a bed of onion, tomato and garlic, a splash of white wine on top and 20 minutes later my kitchen was filled with the most wonderful aroma. I could trust my rule, the meat was done to perfection, firm and delicious!

Baked Sea Bream with Mint and Parsley

Baked Sea Bream with Mint and Parsley on Onion and Tomato

For 2 people you need

a whole sea bream 450g / 16 ounces
(or 2 small ones but mind the shorter cooking time)
small onion, cut into thin slices, 1
medium sized tomato, 1/2 diced and 1/2 cut into thin slices, 1
garlic, sliced, 2 cloves
parsley, the leaves of a small bunch
mint 4 big leaves
white wine, around a glass
olive oil
salt and pepper

Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F and brush the bottom of a baking dish with olive oil.

Spread half of the onions and garlic and the sliced tomatoes in the baking dish.

Season the fish with salt and pepper on the inside and stuff it with the parsley, 3 mint leaves, the diced tomatoes and half of the onions and garlic. Lay the fish on top of the vegetables, cover with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and put 1 mint leaf on top. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with white wine and bake for 20 minutes until the fish is cooked through and you can lift the fillets off the bones.

Serve with ciabatta bread or potatoes – and a glass of white wine for me!

Baked Sea Bream with Mint and Parsley

 

Baked Sea Bream with Mint and Parsley

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