eat in my kitchen

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

Crystallized Stem Ginger

Crystalized Stem Ginger

When Food52 asked me if I would like to contribute five recipes to their Halfway To Dinner column I was so excited that I went through my recipe collection on my blog right away. I had to choose one ingredient which would be featured in all dishes, not necessarily for dinner but also for desserts. It’s October and I already mentioned that pumpkins are piling up in my kitchen constantly so what else would fit better than the whole range of winter squash featured in gnocchi with pesto, a spicy pumpkin soup with bittersweet chocolate and red hot chili peppers, golden Hokkaido spaghetti, a juicy Irish ginger brack for tea time and finally a pumpkin pie with coriander caramel. You can also find the whole collection here on Food52!

One of the recipes, the wonderful Irish tea cake is made with crystallized stem ginger which I usually buy from the store but a lady who commented on the column sparked an idea. She asked for a substitute which isn’t really possible as the taste and texture of this kind of ginger is unique. It’s like sweet and spicy candy, slightly soft but with bite. So if you can’t buy it, you have to make it yourself and here’s the recipe! I started this project the same morning as I was really curious to see if it would work out. After some research it took about an hour and a half as I had to cook it twice, once in water and then with sugar and water, but I was rewarded for my work with the tastiest stem ginger I ever had in my kitchen. It’s spicier and stronger, exactly what I like! I used very fresh organic ginger, when I cut it the juices started to run out of the roots. The harder and older it is the longer it will take to soften and the taste won’t be as good!

Crystalized Stem Ginger

 

Crystalized Stem Ginger

Crystallized Stem Ginger

For 1 medium sized jar you need

very fresh organic ginger roots, cut into 1.5cm / 0.5″ cubes, 250g / 9 ounces
granulated sugar 250g / 9 ounces plus more to sprinkle the ginger
water

Cook the ginger in 350ml / 1.5 cups of water on medium-low heat (simmering) for about 50-60 minutes until the ginger is between soft and al dente. Cook it open for the first 15 minutes before you close the pot with a lid. When it’s done, drain the ginger in case there is any liquid left. If the water evaporates before the ginger is done add a little more water.

In a sauce pan, bring the ginger and sugar in 30ml / 1 ounces of fresh water to the boil. Let it cook (bubbling) for about 30 minutes until the sugar starts to crystallize.

Take the ginger out with a slotted ladle immediately and spread it on parchment paper sprinkled with sugar. Separate the single pieces and put the crystallized ginger in one airtight box and the sugar pieces in another one using it for mint or lemon teas or your baking.

Crystalized Stem Ginger

 

Crystalized Stem Ginger

meet in your kitchen | Stefanie’s Königsberger Klopse – Prussian Meatballs with Capers

Königsberger Klopse

The first time I met Stefanie, we chatted the night away! It was an icy cold Berlin evening last winter, both of us had just arrived at a private supper club where a couple girls prepared a wonderful Italian dinner for about twenty people. Stefanie and I started talking and we just didn’t stop for hours. Apart from the general topics women love to discuss when there are no men around (although there where a few but we didn’t pay much attention) we spoke a lot about art and food.

Stefanie describes herself as an artist who fell for the crafts, with a passion that evolved into her profession a few years ago. She is an artistic lace maker and creates the most delicate and beautiful pieces of  bobbin lace I’ve ever seen. She uses this handcraft for her topographic artworks but also for her upcoming jewelry label InLace which she’ll be launching in a few months. She showed me some of the handmade pieces she’ll be presenting and I love them. Lace in red, blue and black on silver and golden chains snuggled around the neck, it’s beautiful!

When I asked my lace maker what she would like to cook for me in her kitchen, she answered quickly: Königsberger Klopse! This is her signature dish loved by her family and friends, so much, that they meet regularly to savour them together. It’s a traditional Prussian dish which my grandmother often used to cook as well. The name was given from the city of Königsberg which is today’s Kaliningrad. It’s made of meatballs cooked in a broth which is used afterwards for a creamy sauce mixed with roux, egg yolk and capers. This hearty meal is traditionally served with potatoes, it’s perfect for the cold season. I understand why Stefanie has been called the queen of Königsberger Klopse, it was delicious!

You can see and read more about Stefanie’s work here and on Facebook to stay updated for the launch of her jewelry label!

Königsberger Klopse

 

Königsberger Klopse

Königsberger Klopse

For 3-4 people you need

medium sized potatoes, peeled and cooked, 6-8

For the meatballs

minced meat, mixed beef and pork or veal, 600g / 1.5 pounds
stale white bread, soaked in water for about 10 minutes, 600g / 1.5 pounds
organic egg 1
medium sized onion, chopped, 1
salt and pepper

Squeeze the bread, mix well with the meat, egg, onion, salt and pepper and form 10 meatballs with your wet hands.

 

For the broth

water 1.5l / 3 pints
medium sized onion, cut in half, 1
bay leaf 1
freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 tablespoon

In a large pot, bring the ingredients for the broth to the boil. Carefully put the meatballs into the broth (with a tablespoon) and let them cook for 20 minutes on medium-low heat (simmering). Take the pot off the heat and leave the meatballs in the broth.

 

For the sauce

butter 50g / 2 ounces
plain flour 4 tablespoons
organic egg yolk 1
freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
capers (preserved in vinegar) 40g /  1.5 ounces (drained weight), plus more to taste
(or salted capers, rinsed, plus apple cider vinegar to taste)
sugar, salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, melt the butter. When the butter is hot, turn down the heat and whisk in the flour. When combined, add some of the broth used to cook the meatballs. Whisk constantly and add more of the broth until the sauce has a liquid but thick consistency, you won’t need all of the broth. Whisk in the egg yolk and add the capers. Season with lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper to taste and add the meatballs to the sauce. Serve with the cooked potatoes.

Königsberger Klopse

 

Königsberger Klopse

You spent most of your life in and around Berlin where you grew up. What is typical about the traditional cooking in the area you come from?

As far as I remember, we used to eat hearty comfort food on the weekends in my family, such as hotpots, goulash and chicken fricassee. And of course, it was always prepared fresh by mother. My sister and I always loved to eat and we could eat a lot, that never changed! We were always hungry and my mother tried to keep up with us.

How did you experience the kitchen at home as a child? How important was cooking and baking in your family?

Like I said, my mother used to cook for us on the weekends and I remember that my grandmother was responsible for the baking. She made the best cherry cheesecake but unfortunately, she changed over to frozen cakes from the supermarket. She likes the taste and enjoys the convenience of it. I often try to change her mind which isn’t so easy, unfortunately!

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

I made my first cooking experiences in a cooking class at school, the subject was called Arbeitslehre. We tried different recipes and that’s where I leaned to prepare the dish I chose to cook for you.

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

Omoni in Kopenhagener Straße, it’s a Korean restaurant which I can only recommend. And there’s a small organic shop on Weserstraße where I love to go when I’m in the area.

You are an artistic lace maker creating lace as a topographic 3D map but you also work together with designers on crochet fashion. Do you see yourself more as an artist, an artisan or both?

Although my work is artistic in nature, it demands my craft skills to be able to realise my ideas in that artisan field, apart from patience and a huge interest in the art of lace making. Therefore, I would call myself an artist who fell for the crafts. Lace making is my passion, it’s a kind of meditation for me. Maybe that sounds a bit exaggerated but that’s how I feel sometimes while I’m working. I also really enjoy learning new techniques, be it in the fields of knitting, crochet or lace making, it’s quite easy for me as well.

How and when did you find lace making and crochet as the means of your expression?

Crochet was a kind of hobby for me, something I would do on the side. And then, when it brought in some money, it was quite convenient as I was working on my university diploma at the masterclass at that time.

Lace making is different. Once a friend asked me if I could make lace for him and I thought that’s not a bad idea. So that’s what I did for my diploma. It’s very easy to have lace made but I wanted to understand exactly how this wonderful fabric is made by hand. Thanks to the internet, I spotted a group of women who meet every week to make lace together in Berlin-Rudow which is where I learned the art of lace making and I remained true to these women until today.

Are there any other forms of art that influence your work?

I met an artist who works with lace in a similar way to me. Olivia Valentine inspired me a lot and I’m so happy to have met her. Talking to my friends, such as the designer Lena Moritzen influences my work and approach to it in a very positive way as well.

You live and work in Berlin at the moment and have just finished your diploma at the master class of the art college Kunsthochschule Weissensee. What are your upcoming projects for the future?

At the moment, I work half of the week at an embroidery in Berlin-Kreuzberg. I will also launch my own jewelry label at the end of this year or the beginning of next year. It’s called InLace and I focus on handmade necklaces made of bobbin lace.

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

I will cook Königsberger Klopse for you (a Prussian speciality of meatballs in white sauce with capers). We have a dinner tradition in my family, I cook Königsberger Klopse and we all meet at the table together with friends, everybody loves them!

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

Gebrüder Witzkewitz, they are very good friends of mine and everything that Pascal Witzkewitz cooks tastes fantastic!

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

(Laughing) I’m the queen of Königsberger Klopse, any more questions?

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

Buttermilchgetzen (grated potatoes cooked in buttermilk), it has always been my favourite and it still is. It’s a speciality from the Saxony region in Germany.

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

Both, with friends but I also enjoy it on my own.

Which meals do you prefer, improvised or planned?

Both.

Which meal would you never cook again?

I’m sorry, I have no idea!

Thank you Stefanie!

Königsberger Klopse

 

Königsberger Klopse

 

Königsberger Klopse

 

Königsberger Klopse

 

Königsberger Klopse

 

 

Spaghetti with Walnut Pesto and Thyme

Spaghetti with Walnut Pesto and Thyme

Walnuts have a similar shopping effect on me like pumpkins, I have to buy them every week! I always keep a little bowl in my kitchen and sometimes a second one in the living room filled with nuts and a nutcracker right at hand. I’m not really the kind of person who decorates the flat according to the seasons but I love to have this kind of food around me as it brings a piece of autumn right into our home. There’s something about walnuts, the way they look, the smell and the ritual of opening them that puts me in a cosy mood!

We eat most of the walnuts straight out of their shells as I don’t need them for many of my recipes. I don’t really use them in my baking either as I’m not too fond of walnuts in cakes or cookies, it’s just not my thing. Sometimes I like to sprinkle them over salads, sandwiches or soups for that earthy flavour, but there is one recipe I can’t have enough of: Walnuts crushed into a pesto! I mix them with thyme, garlic and good olive oil and let them spread their aroma in warm spaghetti with some parmesan on top! It’s so simple and it tastes fantastic!

A while ago, I made this pesto with parsley for my pumpkin gnocchi, a recipe that features both of my favourite autumn beauties, pumpkin and walnuts! It’s a bit more time consuming but it’s absolutely worth it!

Spaghetti with Walnut Pesto and Thyme

Spaghetti with Walnut Pesto and Thyme

For 2 people you need

spaghetti 200g / 7 ounces
walnut kernels 70g / 2.5 ounces
fresh thyme leaves about 1 tablespoon, to taste
olive oil 60ml / 2 ounces, plus more to taste
garlic, crushed, 1 clove
salt and pepper
fresh parmesan, grated or thinly sliced, for the topping

Cook the pasta in lots of salted water al dente.

Purée the walnuts, thyme, garlic and olive oil in a blender and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more olive oil if you prefer the pesto more liquid. Season with thyme to taste and mix with the warm pasta on the plates (preferably warmed up in the oven). Sprinkle with parmesan.

Spaghetti with Walnut Pesto and Thyme

 

Spaghetti with Walnut Pesto and Thyme

 

Spaghetti with Walnut Pesto and Thyme

A Sandwich with cinnamony Celery Root Mousse, Caramelized Bacon and Rosemary

A Sandwich with Celery Mousse and Caramelized Bacon

Another obsession reached my kitchen, winter roots! I feel totally inspired by parsnip, celery roots, rutabaga and beetroot at the moment, luckily, as this is what I’ll get in the months ahead of me! I know that at one point in the near future I would give a lot for a Maltese summer tomato, crunchy lettuce from the field or a juicy cucumber, but for now I’m absolutely happy and in peace with nature’s offers.

Without any intentions or plans, this week became an ode to the root. It started on Monday, with my cider and beetroot orzotto, before I savored hearty parsnip in a velvety soup along with sweet pear on Tuesday. Today, it’s celery root, blanched and puréed with lemon, cinnamon and cream into a smooth spread for my sandwich. When it comes to roots, I like to refine their earthy taste with a strong contrast which is caramelized bacon and woody rosemary for this week’s sandwich. I packed these strong flavours on top of thick slices of a rustic French loaf of farmer’s bread and, although they are all very dominant on their own, they all merged together in my mouth!

For those who don’t share my passion for roots, tomorrow, I’ll give you a break!

A Sandwich with Celery Mousse and Caramelized Bacon

 

A Sandwich with Celery Mousse and Caramelized Bacon

A Sandwich with cinnamony Celery Mousse, Caramelized Bacon and Rosemary

For 4 sandwiches you need

rustic bread 4 thick slices (or 8 if you want to close the sandwich)
celery root, peeled and cut into small cubes, 250g / 9 ounces
heavy cream 50ml / 2 ounces
freshly squeezed lemon juice 1/2 – 1 teaspoon
cinnamon 1/8-1/4 teaspoon, to taste
salt and sugar
breakfast bacon, thin slices cut into strips, 120g / 4.5 ounces
olive oil
fresh rosemary needles a small handful

In a sauce pan, bring salted water to the boil and blanche the celery root cubes for about 6 minutes or until soft. Drain them and and purée them in a blender with the lemon juice and cream. Season with a pinch of salt and sugar and cinnamon to taste.

In a heavy pan, heat a splash of olive oil and fry the bacon until golden brown and crisp. Add 1 leveled teaspoon of sugar for the last 1-2 minutes to caramelize the bacon.

Spread the celery root mousse on the slices of bread, pour some of the bacon juices over it and sprinkle with bacon and rosemary.

A Sandwich with Celery Mousse and Caramelized Bacon

 

A Sandwich with Celery Mousse and Caramelized Bacon

 

A Sandwich with Celery Mousse and Caramelized Bacon

 

A Sandwich with Celery Mousse and Caramelized Bacon

 

A Sandwich with Celery Mousse and Caramelized Bacon

Heaven and Earth – Parsnip and Pear Soup

Parsnip and Pear Soup

Heaven and Earth, Himmel und Erde! In the German Rhineland area where I grew up, we have a popular traditional dish which is named after the elements where the ingredients for this meal grow. Heaven and Earth, Himmel und Ääd in the Rhineland dialect, combines mashed potatoes with a sweet apple compote. It’s often served with black pudding but it started as a vegetarian dish for the poor in the 18th century.

Today’s soup was inspired by this idea of the elements but I replaced the potato with parsnip and the apple with pear. It’s a sweet and earthy composition cooked in a strong meat broth. I used venison stock as I had some left from the game cooking session in my mother’s kitchen a couple weeks ago. It added a warm and hearty touch to the soup which I refined with lots of garlic, a bay leaf, thyme and rosemary. I cooked it for only 25 minutes until the roots were soft before I puréed it into a velvety treat for cold autumn nights. The flavours were so strong that it could take a little bit of heavy cream stirred in and a dollop of mascarpone with some flowery marjoram sprinkled on top.

Parsnip and Pear Soup

Parsnip and Pear Soup

For 2 as a main or 4 as a starter you need

parsnip, peeled and chopped, 300g / 10.5 ounces
large crunchy pear, peeled, cored and chopped, 1, about 200g/ 7 ounces
medium sized onion, chopped, 1
garlic, quartered, 3 big cloves
meat or vegetable broth 800ml / 2 pints
bay leaf 1
a small bunch of thyme
a sprig of rosemary
olive oil
heavy cream 50ml / 2 ounces
salt
ground pepper plus black peppercorns crushed in a mortar for the topping
mascarpone, crème fraîche or sour cream 4 heaped teaspoons, for the topping
fresh marjoram leaves, thinly sliced, a small handful, for the topping

In a large pot, heat a splash of olive oil and cook the onion on medium heat until soft. Add the parsnip, garlic and pear and cook for a minute. Pour in the broth and add the bay leaf, thyme and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 25 minutes or until the roots are soft.

Purée the soup in a blender or with a stick mixer. Stir in the cream, season to taste and serve with a dollop of mascarpone and some marjoram and crushed black pepper on top.

Parsnip and Pear Soup

 

Parsnip and Pear Soup

 

Parsnip and Pear Soup

 

Parsnip and Pear Soup

 

Parsnip and Pear Soup

Cider and Beetroot Orzotto with Apples and Thyme

Cider and Beetroot Orzotto with Thyme

A new discovery in my kitchen: pearl barley cooked in mild cider takes this white grain onto another level! I have already used this fruity drink for risottos and I liked it so much that I decided to refine other grains with it as well. Cider adds a subtle sweetness which allows me to play around with woody herbs like rosemary or thyme, and roots! I went for beetroot as I was aiming for a dramatic colour on my plate but I also like its earthy taste combined with apples. A while ago, I used this combination for a vegetarian carpaccio with pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top, it made a delicous starter!

Unfortunately I have a problem with barley, I must have about five packages of this grain in my kitchen shelves but very often I don’t feel inspired to use them in my cooking. For no reason really, as I like its nutty taste in thick and hearty Tyrolean soups or orzottos. But when it comes to making a choice for dinner I take the package of Arborio rice most of the time. Hopefully my new discovery will change that!

Cider and Beetroot Orzotto with Thyme

 Apple Cider and Beetroot Orzotto with Thyme

For 4 people you ned

crunchy apple, rinsed, cored and quartered, 1
beetroot, rinsed, 2 big roots, about 300g / 10.5 ounces
pearl barley, rinsed and drained, 250g / 9 ounces
cider (mild) 750ml / 1.5 pints
water 250ml / 0.5 pint
medium sized onion, finely chopped, 1
garlic, crushed, 1 big clove
fresh ginger 1 thick slice
thyme 6 small sprigs plus 2-3 tablespoons of leaves  for the topping
rosemary a small sprig
bay leaves 2
olive oil
salt and pepper

Cook the beetroot in lots of salted water with 1 bay leaf  for 50 minutes until soft (with the lid closed). Peel the beetroot and purée 250g / 9 ounces of the root in a blender with a splash of olive oil until it’s smooth. Cut the remaining 50g / 1.5 ounces of the beetroot into small cubes.

In a large pot, heat a splash of olive oil and cook the onions on medium heat for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and barley and cook for a minute. Pour in the cider and water, add the ginger, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf and cook without a lid for 20 minutes (simmering). Take the pot off the heat, stir the puréed beetroot into the barley (which will still be a bit liquid at that point), close with a lid and let it sit for 5 minutes off the heat to let the grain soak up the remaining juices. Take out the bay leaf, ginger, sprigs of rosemary and thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cut the apple into thin slices and serve on top of the orzotto sprinkled with a few thyme leaves.

Cider and Beetroot Orzotto with Thyme

 

Cider and Beetroot Orzotto with Thyme

Pumpkin Pie with Coriander Caramel

Pumpkin Pie with Coriander Caramel

It’s only been a few years since I tried my first pumpkin pie. My boyfriend’s American side of the family brought this delicious autumn treat into my life and I liked it from the first bite. I think I started with a recipe that was given to me by his mother Jenny who is Maltese but who once got as strongly influenced by American baking traditions as I did over the past few years. She lived in Canada and LA before she went back to her island home in the Mediterranean and took many recipes for sweet temptations with her!

After all the years of baking pies in my kitchen, several Halloweens and quite a few attempts at pumpkin pie I came up with this recipe with a little extravagance in the topping. I make a thick caramel sauce with crushed coriander seeds to drip over the golden pie. The sweet and bitter caramel refined with the aromatic seeds tickles the taste buds just right, it’s an amazing combination! I always use homemade pumpkin purée preferably made of the orange Hokkaido as I like the little bits of skin shining through the surface that you can only leave on this kind of squash. The pumpkin takes just half an hour in the oven until it’s done and it tastes so much better than the store bought purée. My pie mixture is refined with a good amount of spices, the obligatory mace, fresh ginger, cloves and cinnamon have to be quite present for my taste. The short crust I use is crumbly and buttery - crisp as it should be.

I baked the pie in one big round tart tin and a few smaller tartlets which I almost prefer as the pumpkin mixture was a bit more flat and therefore not too overpowering. It can easily cover up the flavours of the delicate pastry which is a pity, it has to be well balanced as always in life!

This recipe has been featured on Food52 Halfway To Dinner!

Pumpkin Pie with Coriander Caramel

 

Pumpkin Pie with Coriander Caramel

Pumpkin Pie with Coriander Caramel

For 1 big 22cm / 9″ tart tin (preferably loose-bottomed) and 4 small tartlets (or 2 big pies) you need

For the short crust

plain flour 25og / 9 ounces
sugar 1 1/2 tablespoons
salt 1/4 teaspoon
butter (cold) 140g / 5 ounces
water 2 tablespoons

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

 

For the pumpkin topping

pumpkin purée 400g / 14 ounces
or pumpkin, without the fibres and seeds, cut into cubes, 500g / 17.5 ounces
(Hokkaido with skin or peeled butternut or Musquée de Provence pumpkin)
milk (warm) 250ml / 1 cup
organic eggs 2
Demerara sugar 80g / 3 ounces
ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon
ground mace or nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon
ground cloves 1/8 teaspoon
salt 1/4 teaspoon
freshly grated ginger 1 heaped teaspoon

For the pumpkin purée

Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F (fan assisted oven).

Put the pumpkin into a baking dish. Cover the bottom of the dish with around 100ml / 3.5 ounces of water. Wet a piece of parchment paper under water, scrunch it up a little and cover the pumpkin in the baking dish, tucking the sides in. Cook for 30 minutes in the oven or until the pumpkin is soft. Purée the pumpkin in a blender or with a stick mixer and set aside (you could keep it in the fridge for a day).

For the pumpkin mixture

Mix the pumpkin purée with the milk and eggs until well combined. Stir in the sugar mixed with the spices, ginger and salt.

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

Roll out the dough between cling film and line your tart tins with the pastry. Prick with a fork and blind bake for 10 minutes or until golden.

Take out the tart tin and turn the oven up to 220°C / 430°F (top/ bottom heat).

Fill the pumpkin mixture on top of the pastry, even it out and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the temperature down to 180°C / 355°F and bake for another 5 minutes (small tartlet tins) or for 10 minutes (in the bigger tart tin) or until the pie is golden and just set. Take the pie out and let it cool before you pour over the caramel.

 

For the coriander caramel

granulated sugar 100g / 3.5 ounces
water 50ml / 2 ounces
heavy cream 100ml / 3.5 ounces
coriander seeds, lightly crushed in a mortar, 1 teaspoon

In a large pan, bring the sugar and water to the boil, don’t mix it. When it turns into a caramel-brown colour (neither too light nor too dark), take the pan off the heat, add the coriander seeds and slowly pour in the cream, whisk gently but well, the caramel should be thick and smooth.

Pumpkin Pie with Coriander Caramel

 

Pumpkin Pie with Coriander Caramel

 

Pumpkin Pie with Coriander Caramel

 

Pumpkin Pie with Coriander Caramel

Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Cake

Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Cake

This is my new breakfast love! After French toast, muffins and pancakes I have a new addiction, I fell for the lightest and most perfect fruity cake you can imagine. I mixed the flour with cornstarch which makes the texture more fine, it’s soft, fluffy and tender. That’s all I could ask for on a morning table which doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t work for tea time either. The problem is that the cake didn’t last that long!

I went for an apple topping but I already have a few variations in mind, with blueberries, plums, pears, even some sour gooseberries when their time has come again. The apples were just right for now, I cut them in half and scored their surface. That’s how I prepare them for my crumble cake and it keeps them juicy. Before I put the cake in the oven I sprinkled it with a bit more cinnamon sugar than I would normally use and it made a nice thin crust, aromatic and crisp. I recommend making this cake in a springform pan not bigger than 20cm (8″). If you work with a bigger form the cake will turn out flat and possibly dry. It needs the height and here’s were the quality of this cake lies, its lightness and sweet juiciness!

Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Cake

 

Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Cake

 Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Cake

For a 20cm / 8″ springform pan you need

sour baking apples (like boscoop), cored, peeled, cut in half and scored on the surface, 2-3
butter (at room temperature) 160g / 5.5 ounces
sugar 90g / 3 ounces plus 2 tablespoons for the topping
organic eggs 3
plain flour 130g / 4.5 ounces
cornstarch 30g / 1 ounce
baking powder 1 heaped teaspoon
a pinch of salt
cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon, for the topping

Set the oven to 180°C / 355°F (fan assisted oven) and butter the springform pan.

Mix the sugar and cinnamon for the topping.

Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and continue mixing for a few minutes until the mixture is thick and creamy. Mix in the dry mixture until well combined. Fill the dough into the buttered form and arrange the apples on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden on top. Check with a skewer, it should come out clean. Let the cake cool for a few minutes before you take it out of the springform.

Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Cake

 

Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Cake

 

Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Cake

 

Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Cake

 

Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Cake

 

Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Cake

Mascarpone, Orange and Sage Spaghetti

Mascarpone, Orange and Sage Spaghetti

Creamy mascarpone, sweet oranges and woody sage! Here is a velvety variation on one of my beloved citrus and cheese pasta recipes which has been on the blog for quite a while. Almost ten months ago, I wrote about a dish which became our favourite midnight snack when we come home late at night and hungry, Maltese pasta mixed with fresh ricotta, lemon zest, basil and coarsely crushed black pepper. We were not the only ones who fell in love with this easy yet divine pasta classic which is inspired by the flavours of Malta. So many people wrote to me afterwards, some even on the same day I published it, that they tried and loved it just as much.

The recipe today has the same potential for me, but it’s velvety and smooth, even a bit sweet. It works with similar ingredients and it’s definitely a candidate for spontaneous midnight dinners as well. You could replace the mascarpone with heavy cream if you don’t have the Italian cheese at hand but it won’t have the same silky texture and creamy taste which makes all the difference, but it’s an option. The sauce is very simple, I mixed the mascarpone with an egg yolk and some freshly squeezed orange juice before I mixed it into the warm spaghetti, refined with coarsely crushed black pepper, orange zest and fried sage leaves!

Mascarpone, Orange and Sage Spaghetti

 

Mascarpone, Orange and Sage Spaghetti

Mascarpone, Orange and Sage Spaghetti

For 3-4 people you need

spaghetti 300g / 10.5 ounces
mascarpone  150g / 5.5 ounces
organic egg yolk 1
freshly squeezed orange juice 4 tablespoons plus more to taste
zest of 1 orange
fresh sage leaves 20-30
olive oil
salt
black pepper corns, crushed in a mortar, to taste

Cook the pasta in lots of salted water al dente.

Fry the sage leaves in a splash of olive oil on high temperature for only 10-20 seconds until they are golden.

Whisk the mascarpone, egg yolk and orange juice and season with salt and juice to taste. Mix the creamy sauce with the warm pasta, divide between the plates immediately and sprinkle with pepper, orange zest and the crisp sage leaves.

Mascarpone, Orange and Sage Spaghetti

 

Mascarpone, Orange and Sage Spaghetti

In the countryside: Pâté en Croûte – Venison Pâté in Pastry Crust

Game Pie

Two weeks ago, we spent a few amazing days in the countryside and the pictures are still as vivid in my mind as if it was only yesterday that our family met at my mothers house to cook together. Our culinary activities became more of a task than usual due to a phone call that my mother received from a local farmer who offered to give her a whole deer. She gladly accepted and various dishes and long dinners later, I can say that I learned a lot!

When I wrote about our fantastic venison stew with apple gratin and spaetzle last week I mentioned that there were more recipes to come from this extensive cooking session and here is another one of them, my cousin Thomas’s Pâté en Croûte! Thomas is a passionate baker and chef and he joined us for this adventure. He skinned and dressed the deer as he acquired this skill during his education as a chef. This was a new experience for me, so I was curious but also a bit nervous. Apart from teaching me how to cut game, he also showed me how he make his delicious venison pâté, an aromatic filling of venison refined with spices and liver wrapped in puff pastry. So finally, another one of my mother’s exotic kitchen purchases came to use, a custom made metal mould with a heavy lid to cook French pies and pâté! The lid prevents the dough from rising too much which would create a space between the pastry and the meat. Traditionally, this air space is filled with aspic through a hole in the top but we left this out as it would have taken another 1-2 days to sit. After we spent so much time in the kitchen we just wanted to enjoy the fruits of our work!

Here are some of the tips I got from Thomas that I didn’t know of before: he told me that for fine pâté and sausages, the meat should be mixed with a bit of crushed iced while it’s puréed in a food processor. If it gets too warm through the mixing process, the protein in the meat can set which stops it from binding while the pâté is cooking. He also adds some egg white with the ice to help the process.

As much as I prefer to use homemade pastry for pies and pâté when it comes to short crust, it’s absolutely fine to use good quality store bought puff pastry for this pâté. That’s what we did and it didn’t do it any harm!

Game Pie

 

Game Pie

Pâté en Croûte – Venison Pâté in Pastry Crust 

For 1 pâté in a 16 x 8cm / 6 x 3″ terrine or pâté mould with a lid you need

puff pastry, defrosted, enough to line all sides of the form plus an overlapping pastry lid
venison, minced or cut into small pieces, 450g / 1 pound
venison, chicken or veal liver, cleaned, 125g / 4.5 ounces
fatty bacon, lardon or fatback, cut into cubes, 125 / 4.5 ounces
organic egg whites, whisked with a fork, 2 plus 1 egg white to seal the puff pastry
ice finely crushed in a food processor, 3 cl / 1 shot
juniper berries, crushed, 2
garlic, crushed, 1 clove
thyme leaves  1 teaspoon
small bay leaf, crushed in a mortar, 1
brandy 1 tablespoon
salt and pepper
lingonberry jam to serve

Set the oven to 160°C / 320°F (fan assisted oven) and butter the mould well.

Roll out the pastry evenly and very thinly and line the mould. Mind that you have enough dough for the top to close the pâté by overlapping the pastry from all sides.

Mix the ice and the 2 egg whites.

In a food processor, purée the meat, bacon and liver, adding the ice-egg white mixture gradually. Add the spices, herbs, garlic and brandy and season with salt and pepper.

Fill the meat mixture into the pastry lined mould and push it down well. Close the pâté with the pastry from the smaller sides first, finishing with 1 long side that should cover the whole mould. Seal well with the mixed egg white. Close with the lid of the mould and bake for 1 -1 1/2 hours. You could check the pâté with a meat thermometer, it should be 75°C / 170°F inside when it’s done.

Here’s another of Thomas’ tips: You can also check with a metal skewer if the pâté is done, insert the skewer into the meat, pull it out and carefully (!) touch your lip to the metal. If it feels cold, it’s not done yet, if it’s hot you can take the pâté out of the oven. Let it cool before you take it gently out of the mould and serve with lingonberry jam.

Game Pie

 

Game Pie

Spicy Feta, Sun-dried Tomato and Rucola Crostini

Feta, Sun-dried Tomato and Rucola Crostini

A bag of sun-dried tomatoes fell into my hands while I looked through my pantry shelves and it reminded me of the good times I had with them in summer. With Mr. Cini at his salt pans in Gozo, in my pesto that I used as a spread on a sandwich, mixed with sage and chèvre on juicy zucchini steaks or in my spaghetti with broccoli pesto - so many nice memories! I still put them on my pizza sometimes which we bake every Sunday, but recently I’ve been neglecting this salty concentrate of the summer sun, until today!

A few days ago my Maltese mother Jenny sent me a picture of my favourite snorkeling spot at Dwejra in Gozo and all the nice memories were back in my head. Our summer in Malta, the food, the sea, the hot sun, the salty smell of the air and with these feelings came the urge for a Mediterranean snack! Crunchy ciabatta bread roasted with a little olive oil under the grill, fresh rucola (arugula) leaves, a dip made of feta cheese mixed with sun-dried tomatoes topped with red hot chili peppers – and here it is, summer is back, at least for a few bites!

Feta, Sun-dried Tomato and Rucola Crostini

 

Feta, Sun-dried Tomato and Rucola Crostini

 Spicy Feta, Sun-dried Tomato and Rucola Crostini

I like to cook the sun-dried tomatoes in a little water for 1 minute to wash of excess salt.

For 6-8 crostini you need

ciabatta bread 6-8 slices
olive oil
feta cheese 200g / 7 ounces
sun-dried tomatoes 5 around 40g / 1.5 ounces
rucola (arugula) leaves a small handful
fresh red hot chili pepper, cut into thin slices, with or without seeds, 1

Sprinkle the slices of bread with a little olive oil and put them under the grill for a few minutes until golden brown and crunchy.

In a small sauce pan, bring the dried tomatoes to the boil in a little water and cook for 1 minute. Take the pot off the heat, rinse the tomatoes and dry them well between kitchen paper. Purée the feta and the dried tomatoes in a blender until well combined.

Spread some rucola leaves on the crostini and top with the tomato-feta dip and a few chili slices (to taste and according to their spiciness).

Feta, Sun-dried Tomato and Rucola Crostini

 

Feta, Sun-dried Tomato and Rucola Crostini

 

Feta, Sun-dried Tomato and Rucola Crostini

Spinach with Cumin, Cinnamon and Pomegranate

Spinach with Cumin, Cinnamon and Pomegranate

Some days, I feel a strong urge to eat spinach, my body literally shouts for it! It must have something to do with its high concentration of vitamins, magnesium and iron which we need so much especially at this time of the year. The hours of sunlight decrease day by day, the temperature drops and the weather moodily changes between blue skies and pouring rain. This can be draining for our energy reserves, but our food helps to balance out those deficits, we just have to listen to our bodies and the little signs they are sending out. So whenever I feel a strong urge to eat a carrot, a tomato, a piece of steak or even some dark chocolate, I know that it will be good for my body and mind and I follow the call!

When I was a child, I used to love spinach with mashed potatoes and fried egg. I still enjoy this meal sometimes but the green leaves have so much more potential, their earthy taste is perfect to refine with spices and fruits. For the two of us, I cooked a big handful of baby spinach in some white wine with the strong aromas of cumin, cinnamon and garlic roasted in olive oil. All in all it needed just a minute to cook as I wanted to keep some bite in the delicate leaves. When it was done I sprinkled sour pomegranate seeds over the vegetables, it looked really pretty but it tasted even better. Warm as a side dish or cold as a salad, it’s delicious and good for the body either way!

Spinach with Cumin, Cinnamon and Pomegranate

Spinach with Cumin, Cinnamon and Pomegranate

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

baby spinach or winter spinach (stems cut off), rinsed, 300g / 10.5 ounces
medium sized onion, finely chopped, 1
garlic, crushed, 1 big clove
ground cumin 1/4 teaspoon plus more to taste
ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon plus more to taste
white wine 30ml / 1 ounce
salt and pepper
olive oil
pomegranate seeds of 1/2 – 1 fruit

In a large pot, heat a splash of olive oil and cook the onions for a few minutes until soft. Add a little more olive oil and the garlic, cumin and cinnamon. Cook for a minute, stirring constantly. Put the wet spinach on top of the spices and pour over the wine. Mix and close with a lid and cook on medium heat for 1 minute. Season with salt, pepper, cumin and cinnamon to taste and serve sprinkled with the pomegranate seeds. Enjoy warm or cold!

Spinach with Cumin, Cinnamon and Pomegranate

 

Spinach with Cumin, Cinnamon and Pomegranate

Tarte Flambée – Alsatian Flammkuchen with Taleggio, Apples and Bacon

Flammkuchen

When I lived close to the French border a few years ago I loved to drive over to France on a Sunday morning for a short day trip to the Alsace region, especially at this time of the year! The vineyards were all red and golden and the first young wines were ready to be enjoyed. I mentioned these trips about a month ago when I wrote about my Zwiebelkuchen which I used to eat at the traditional restaurants in the small villages. Another Alsatian classic to accompany the new harvest is the Flammkuchen (Flammkueche in the Alsatian dialect), the famous Tarte Flambée! It’s similar to pizza but the dough is made with milk instead of water, it’s spread with a thin layer of sour cream mixed with an egg yolk and the result is crunchy and light. The basic version is made with onions and bacon but after years of visiting this region I started experimenting with the toppings in my own kitchen and here’s one of my favourites.

The combination of cheese and fruit works just as well as on a sandwich. I like to mix thin slices of sour apples like boscoop with a creamy Italian taleggio cheese from the Val Taleggio in the Lombardy region. I baked some thin slices of bacon on top of the Flammkuchen to bring in some smoky saltiness. It’s important to put them on top so that they become crispy and release their juices into the fruity cheese mixture.

Flammkuchen

 

Flammkuchen

Flammkuchen with Taleggio, Apples and Bacon

I bake my Flammkuchen and my pizza on a hot baking sheet which has a similar effect to a pizza stone. I preheat it on the bottom of the hot oven and turn it around to bake on the hot surface.

For 1 big Flammkuchen you need

plain flour 250g / 9 ounces
dry yeast 1 package (for 500g / 1 pound of flour)
salt 1/4 teaspoons
sugar 1/2 teaspoon
milk, lukewarm, 120ml / 4 ounces
olive oil 2 tablespoons

for the topping
sour cream 120g / 4.5 ounces
organic egg yolk 1
a pinch of salt
taleggio, cut into cubes, 80g / 3 ounces
sour apple (like boscoop), cored, quartered and cut into thin slices, 1/2 -1
thin bacon slices 6
pepper

In  a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Add the lukewarm milk and the olive oil and mix with your dough hooks for 5 minutes until well combined. Continue kneading with your hands for a few minutes until you have an elastic dough ball. Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with a tea towel. Let the dough rise in a 35°C / 95°F warm oven ( top / bottom heat, no fan!) for about 1 hour.

Take the dough out, punch it down and roll it out into a flat circle on a well floured surface. It should be a bit smaller than the size of your baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel and let it rise for another 10-15 minutes.

Set your oven to 260°C / 500°F. My oven has a special pizza setting but you can use top / bottom heat as well. Put the baking sheet on the bottom of your oven to heat it (for around 10 minutes).

Whisk the sour cream, egg yolk and a pinch of salt.

Take the hot baking sheet out of the oven, turn it around and place it carefully on two stable wooden boards or mats as it will be very hot. Quickly place your risen dough onto the baking sheet.

Spread a thin layer of the sour cream egg yolk mixture on top of the dough, you might not need all of it. Spread the apples and taleggio on top and season with pepper. Top with the bacon and bake in the hot oven for a few minutes until the Flammkuchen is golden brown and crisp.

Flammkuchen

 

Flammkuchen

 

Flammkuchen

 

Flammkuchen

The Best Tiramisù

Tiramisu

Tiramisù – there’s not much more to say to that! This has been my favourite dessert for twenty years and the recipe I use today is the result of hundreds of variations which I tested in my kitchen, at restaurants and at friend’s dinner parties. To me, mine is the best and the formula to get there is simple, 1 egg and 25g (1 ounce) of sugar for 100g (3.5 ounces) of mascarpone. It’s voluptuous and creamy, the soaked ladyfingers well balanced with espresso and brandy. They are light and soft but they still have structure, far from being soggy and mushy, something I can’t stand when it comes to this Italian classic. I make the cream with only mascarpone, fresh organic eggs and sugar, some people like to add whipped cream but to me, that makes it lack in taste. When someone is worried about eating raw eggs in a dessert, I can only say that I never had any issues in all those years and neither did my guests, and there were many of them who savored it at our table.

This is an absolute crowd pleaser, invented to make a whole Italian family happy after a delicious meal! Although its name means “lift me up“, I can’t really agree with that. The coffee and sugar have a pushy effect but the amount that I eat of it works against that. So I prefer to make it when we have friends over which means that I have to share it and eat a bit less. I always prepare it around 8-10 hours in advance and make a big portion as it doesn’t make much of a difference if you prepare it for six or sixteen people.

One thing is for sure, as soon as the tiramisù is on the table, the room is filled with silence, the silence of savoring!

Here’s the summer version of this dessert I made a few months ago, my Strawberry Tiramisù!

Tiramisu

 

Tiramisu

 Tiramisù

I use a round dish of 25cm /10″ and 6cm / 2.5″ height.

For 6-8 people you need

mascarpone (at room temperature) 500g / 17.5 ounces
organic eggs 5
sugar 125g / 4.5 ounces + 2 tablespoons for the ladyfingers
a pinch of salt
ladyfingers 300g / 10.5 ounces
strong espresso (warm) 125ml / 4.5 ounces
brandy 50ml / 2 ounces
unsweetened cocoa powder for the dusting

In a deep plate, mix the espresso and brandy with 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Mix the mascarpone until creamy, it won’t combine well with the egg yolk and sugar mixture if you leave out this step.

In a large bowl, mix the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the mascarpone and mix until well combined.

Whisk the egg whites with the salt until stiff and fold gently into the mascarpone-egg mixture.

Dip the ladyfingers for just 1 second (not longer or they will get mushy) in the espresso-brandy mixture with the unsugared side and lay them with the sugared side down into a deep dish. The should be very close to each other. Spread half of the mascarpone cream on top and cover with another layer of ladyfingers dipped in the coffee mixture. Spread the remaining cream on top and cover with cling film. Keep in the fridge for at least 8 hours (or longer) and dust with sieved cocoa powder before serving.

Tiramisu

 

Tiramisu

 

Tiramisu

 

Tiramisu

A Salad with Winter Purslane, sautéed Mushrooms and Nasturtium Flowers

Miner's Lettuce, Mushrooms and Nasturtium

For years I’ve wanted to plant nasturtium on my balcony but whenever the time was right to plant the seeds I got distracted by other garden beauties. My outdoor space – and the number of my terracotta pots – is quite limited, so I have to make choices. Next year I definitely want to see these pretty edible flowers in orange, yellow and red growing up the railings but for now I’m happy when I see them at one of the markets.

Nasturtium flowers are stunners in salads, they look quite dramatic, but apart form that, I love their delicate taste. You just have to mix them with some crunchy greens and sautéed mushrooms. Thin slices of apples and a few walnuts would be nice too. My salad turned out quite girly, as I chose the cute looking leaves of winter purslane (also known as Miner’s or Indian lettuce) which tastes quite similar to Mâche lettuce. But as long as you stay on the mild side, you can add any lettuce of your choice. I would just avoid escarole or endive, they would be too bitter for this composition.

My plate was ready within a few minutes and I enjoyed another one of my beloved, light and easy Saturday lunches before my weekend baking and cooking begins!

Miner's Lettuce, Mushrooms and Nasturtium

A Salad with Winter Purslane, sautéed Mushrooms and Nasturtium Flowers

For 2 people you need

winter purslane, a handful
medium sized mushrooms, the bottoms cut off, cut into thick slices, 6
butter 1 tablespoon
nasturtium flowers 6
olive oil 3 tablespoons
Balsamico vinegar 2 tablespoons
salt and pepper

In a pan, heat the butter and sauté the mushrooms for 2 minutes on each side until golden and still crunchy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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

Arrange the winter purslane and the mushrooms on plates and sprinkle with the dressing. Put the flowers on top and serve immediately.

Miner's Lettuce, Mushrooms and Nasturtium

 

Miner's Lettuce, Mushrooms and Nasturtium

meet in your kitchen | Dutch Baby for a late Breakfast with Marta Greber

Dutch Baby

This smile! This woman has the most beautiful and infectious smile! I met Marta Greber from the blog What Should I Eat For Beakfast Today in her kitchen and her charm and positivity impressed me as much as the dish she pulled out of the oven, her delicious Dutch Baby!

Marta came to Berlin three years ago after traveling the continents, she lived in Australia, in Asia and in various countries in South America. She grew up in Poland and started studying law before she spent some time in Barcelona, San Francisco and Amsterdam. This lady is restless and blessed, she always comes back home with the most exciting stories, food experiences and memories. In her husband Tomasz, she found a great travel partner but also a handsome hand model for her blog. Many of the delicious morning goodies that she shares on What Should I Eat For Beakfast Today are presented (and enjoyed!) by Tomasz. Both of them have a weak spot for traditions, especially the ones in the morning. The two get up early to start every day with a little walk through their neighborhood, a good coffee from one of their favourite cafes in hand followed by Marta’s amazing breakfast creations that she writes about. Her love for the culinary celebration of the new day and her passion for photography led to the beautiful blog that she started in 2011. What started as a passion became her profession, she’s now a full time photographer. Her artistic work is just stunning and everybody wants to see what Marta and Tomasz have for breakfast! When I asked Marta why this time of the day is so important to her to devote a blog to it, she said that it’s the only time of the day she can plan and control as you never know what the day will bring. That’s not a surprise for someone who is as restless as she is!

The two of us almost chatted the afternoon away but when Marta pulled her Dutch Baby out of the oven topped with melted chocolate, fruit and nuts, I was speechless! It looked scrumptious but unfortunately both of us wanted to take pictures of her work so we had to wait, including Tomasz who came into the kitchen twice to see if we were finally done so that we could eat!

Dutch Baby

 

Dutch Baby

Marta’s Dutch Baby with melted Chocolate, roasted Nuts and Plums

For 1 Dutch Baby in a small heavy ovenproof pan or baking dish you need

butter 90g / 3 ounces
milk 110ml / 4 ounces
plain flour 120g / 4.5 ounces
eggs 2
a pinch of salt

For the topping:
milk chocolate, melted, 100g / 3.5 ounces
mix of nuts, roasted, a handful
plums, sliced, 3
fresh mint 6 leaves
coconut flakes 1-2 tablespoons

Set the oven to 220°C / 430°F.

Put the butter in an iron pan or baking dish and place in the hot oven.

Melt the chocolate in a small saucepan or in a bain marrie if you prefer. Take the pan off the heat as soon as the chocolate is melted. Roast the nuts in a pan (you can add a little coconut oil if you like). In a small bowl, mix the flour, eggs, milk and salt until combined.

When the butter is melted in the hot pan, gently pour the dough into the middle of the pan and bake in the oven for about 12 minutes or until golden.

When your Dutch Baby pancake is done, carefully remove the butter on top (with a spoon or pour it out) and cover with the toppings.

Dutch Baby

Your blog is called ‘What Should I Eat For Breakfast Today‘, why does this specific meal play such an important role in your life? How did that start?

Morning is the only time during my day that I can control. If I get up earlier (and I usually do) I can prepare a great meal for me and my partner Tomasz, sit together over a nice cup of coffee, talk or simply enjoy food, morning light and silence. Later during the day it’s more complicated as we never know if we’ll be having other meals at home or not. I can also see how a good meal influences our frame of mind and day, so why not start in the morning.

You grew up in Poland, what are your food memories? 

I was and still am addicted to polish racuchy – pancakes with apples. My grandma used to make them for me whenever I asked and I asked a lot. I could eat it for every meal. I can remember my grandma making great simple flavours that I loved like kogiel-mogiel (egg yolk bitten with sugar) or homemade pasta with milk and sugar. It was simple but delicious and I still prefer basic flavours.

How did your travels influence your cooking and eating habits? 

It doesn’t help with finding my new small obsessions for sure. I try a lot of food but it doesn’t mean that I like everything. My fascination with breakfasts started in Sydney actually, where I had an amazing one in Bill’s Restaurant – ricotta pancakes with banana and it couldn’t be better. In Sydney I had a chance to try international cuisine and to figure out what I like. Then I traveled in Asia for almost a year and I understood that I could eat sticky rice with mango on an everyday basis and that Thai flavours are truly loved by my taste buds. There were some victims as well as after a long time of traveling on budget and eating mostly rice and asian soups, I still have a problem with eating them now. Ups.

I travel quite a lot with Tomasz, we try to go to different countries for longer, like a few months and stay there, so we can truly experience the food culture and local flavours. I am lucky that my partner Tomasz is really interested in food, he likes to taste and try things and he’s much braver than I am. If he had a food blog, you’d love it. But for now he’s my hand model (laughs).

It would take much too long to describe what made me happy in different cuisines, but I’ll mention that a cinnamon toast I had in San Francisco blew my mind, sobrassada served with a young Champagne in Barcelona is something I enjoy, cheese in Holland is amazing, chipa in Paraguay can make a perfect breakfast, coffee in Sydney tastes like it should.

What does traveling mean to you? What do you miss when you stay in one place for a long time?

I never thought of what it means to me, it’s a part of my life which I don’t want to change. I made a few sacrifices in my life to have this kind of lifestyle (which don’t feel like sacrifices anymore) and this is what I truly like. It goes with my nature. For instance I always had a problem with sitting on a beach – I walk around, run, swim, go to look for something, but can’t just sit there. Whenever we go I push Tomasz to walk a lot. We go hundreds of kilometres on foot and I love it. When I stay in one place I have the feeling that I’m missing something and sometimes I stop to appreciate a city I’m in. Nowadays I really like to go back to Berlin, because traveling helps me to remember how awesome this city is.

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

I eat healthier, I use organic products, I learned a lot about grains, good flours, spices. I have this feeling that everyone over here is fascinated with food. I attend many events related to food and it influences my choices and stimulates curiosity.

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

I don’t really remember but most probably racuchy.

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

Local farmers markets, I like to walk around with my basket and collect veggies. I truly enjoy small shops with imported goods where I buy things without knowing how I can use them. But also Frischeparadies – I can walk around and look at beautiful sea food and veggies from all over the planet for long minutes and KADEWE, as they have an awesome stuff!

You are an internationally acclaimed photographer, your work has been featured in the media around the world, when did you first pick up the camera and why?

I don’t remember why, I always liked it. I was the annoying kid taking pictures at camps and trying to stage cool frames (usually it wasn’t as cool as I attempted it to be). But it really kicked in when I moved to Sydney and finally had time to improve it. Australia is crazy awesome and beautiful. For a Polish gal everything was very exciting and I am an emotional beast so for me it was double great. I took hundreds of pictures every day, always had a camera on me, bothering friends, people, animals and nature. But also I’m lucky as my partner Tomasz agrees with my ideas and he’s always happy to be my object, however I dress him up or even when he has to move around for an hour so I get a proper shot.

What are your upcoming projects?

The biggest one will be my baby. And for now this is the only project I’m concentrating on. You should ask me in a few months when I’m a mother already and know what it means to me.

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

By accident really. We could choose any city in Europe thanks to Tomasz’ work. I voted for Barcelona as I learned some Spanish in South America and Tomasz chose Berlin (he says his German is poor, but believe me it’s really good). Then we decided to spend a year in Berlin and another one in Barcelona. Well, it didn’t work out as Berlin is most probably the best city in Europe to be in, so we stayed.

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

I chose Dutch Baby (Dutch style pancake) with melted chocolate, roasted nuts and plums. And the reason – it’s easy, fast, delicious and can’t go wrong (laughing).

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

Someone from The Growlers and obviously the rest of the band would be invited as well. I’ve been to their concert and I think it would be nice to hang out.

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

Mushroom risotto prepared by Tomasz!

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

It used to be racuchy made by my grandma, nowadays racuchy made by myself.

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

Both, no preferences really.

Which meals do you prefer, improvised or planned?

Both, as both are a totally different experience.

Which meal would you never cook again?

Pumpkin gnocchi  - I tried it three times and totally failed, never again!

Thank you Marta!

Dutch Baby

 

Dutch Baby

 

Dutch Baby

 

Dutch Baby

 

Dutch Baby

 

Dutch Baby

 

Dutch Baby

 

Dutch Baby

Venison Stew with Apple Gratin and Spaetzle and a trip to the countryside

Venison Stew with Apple Gratin

A few days ago I mentioned our little adventure in the countryside while we visited my mother and a kitchen project which involved the whole family!

My mother found out about a little farm in her area just recently. It’s a beautiful and peaceful place surrounded by green hills and dense forest. They raise and sell geese, turkey and deer, wild and farmed, and the lady who owns the farm offered one to my Mama. Ours was wild and we had to skin and dress it, something that none of us had ever done before. Luckily, my mother remembered that my cousin Thomas who is an excellent chef, is also experienced in butchering so he joined in to help us. We drove to the farm to pick up the game and I was quite excited but also a little nervous. When you see an animal that has been shot for your consumption you feel lots of respect. Buying our food from the supermarket takes this important experience away from us, but this is what happens when we buy meat, every day, all over the world, an animal is killed but we don’t see the steps in between. It’s cut up and wrapped in plastic and we pay for that but I believe that it’s important to build up this connection again, to the animals and where they come from. This is the natural cycle of our food and not the industrial. I joined my cousin while he prepared the deer and I learnt a lot from him. These days in my mother’s kitchen in the countryside were a great experience, when, as a family, we cooked for two days to use what was given to us. We made venison carpaccio, stew, paté and broth and my mother put the remaining parts, like the fillets and the back in the freezer. We used all of it and enjoyed every single meal!

My mother is the absolute queen when it comes to stew, hers are simply best! She knows how to combine the right spices and herbs, how to cook the meat so that it becomes tender and succulent. Whenever she makes a ragout it’s simply perfect! We also made Spaetzle as nothing beats these little homemade Swabian noodles to soak up an aromatic sauce. Our side dish was sweet and fruity, an apple gratin topped with crème fraîche. My mother found the inspiration for this recipe from one of her favourite food journalists, she just added lemon zest and pink peppercorns on top. It was wonderful, like the whole trip!

I didn’t want to share all these venison recipes with you at once, so I’ll write about my cousin’s delicious paté and his amazing carpaccio with a herb, spice and parmesan crust next week.

Venison Stew with Apple Gratin

 

Venison Stew with Apple Gratin

 Venison Stew with Apple Gratin and Spaetzle

You can cook the stew in the oven or on the cooker as we did.

For 6 people you need

For the venison stew

venison leg or shoulder, boned and cut into chunks, 1.2kg / 2.5 pounds
leek, the white and light green parts, finely chopped into small cubes, 1
carrots, finely chopped into small cubes, 2
celery sticks, finely chopped into small cubes, 1 1/2
medium sized onion, finely chopped into small cubes, 1
garlic, cut in half, 2 big cloves
bacon, a small piece, around 60g / 2 ounces
red wine 1 bottle
broth about 1l / 2 pints (to cover the meat)
tomato paste 2 tablespoons
salt and pepper
olive oil

bouquet garni (bound with a string):
small sage sprigs 2
small rosemary sprigs 2
small thyme sprigs 2
bay leaf 1

spices (wrapped in a spice bag if you prefer)
black peppercorns 10
juniper berries 6
allspice 6
cloves 3
cinnamon stick 1
ginger, chopped, a 2cm / 1″ piece

optionally
dried porcini 3

lingonberry jam to serve with the stew

In a large heavy casserole or pot, heat a splash of olive oil and brown the meat in batches, season with salt and pepper once it’s done. Set the meat aside and add a little more olive oil to the casserole, add the vegetables and cook for a few minutes on medium heat until golden. Turn up the heat and add the tomato paste, stir and deglaze with a little red wine, repeating this about 5-6 times. Add the meat, the bacon, the remaining wine and the broth to the casserole until it’s all covered in liquid. Put the bouquet garni and the spice bag into the liquid. Season with salt and pepper, stir and bring to the boil.

Cover with a lid and cook on medium-low heat (simmering) for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until the meat is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with Spaetzle (you can find the recipe here, just leave out the cheese and onions), apple gratin and lingonberry jam.

 

For the apple gratin

firm and sour apples, peeled, cored, quartered and sliced thinly, 3
freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
sugar 2 teaspoons
crème fraîche or sour cream 300g / 10.5 ounces
heavy cream about 100 ml / 3.5 ounces
zest of 1/2 lemon
pink peppercorns, lightly crushed in a mortar, 1-2 tablespoons
butter for the baking dish

Set the oven to 175°C / 350°F.

Whip the crème fraîche with the heavy cream, add enough cream until the texture is light and creamy.

Butter 1 large baking dish or gratin form (or 4-6 small ones). Arrange the apples in circles in the form and sprinkle with lemon juice and sugar. Spread the cream on top and sprinkle with the lemon zest and pink peppercorns. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden on top.

Venison Stew with Apple Gratin

 

Venison Stew with Apple Gratin

 

Venison Stew with Apple Gratin

 

Venison Stew with Apple Gratin

 

Venison Stew with Apple Gratin

 

Venison Stew with Apple Gratin

 

Venison Stew with Apple Gratin

 

Venison Stew with Apple Gratin

 

Venison Stew with Apple Gratin

Maple Syrup and Orange Pumpkin Tartine with crisp Sage and Walnuts

Pumpkin and Sage Sandwich with Walnuts

This sandwich started with a dark loaf of rye bread full of crunchy walnuts. When I held it in my hands I knew this would be the right basis for a sweet pumpkin tartine! This has been on my mind since the season began and I started piling different kinds of squash on my kitchen window sill every week. Hokkaido, butternut or Musquée de Provence (fairytale pumpkin), they are all great for a fruity sandwich!

I aimed for some contrast to the heavy bread, a light and fruity topping complemented with fried crisp sage leaves and some walnuts. I sautéed the orange meat of a Musquée de Provence for a few minutes in olive oil before I mixed it with freshly squeezed orange juice and maple syrup. The pumpkin soaked up the sweet juices within seconds and turned into soft and sticky bites. It tasted so good in combination with the strong herb I used for the topping that I decided to brush the dark slices of bread with the sage infused olive oil. The walnuts on top brought in the right crunch, hearty and nutty!

Tomorrow, I’ll write about the exciting adventure in my mother’s kitchen that I mentioned yesterday – it’s about deer!

Pumpkin and Sage Sandwich with Walnuts

 

Pumpkin and Sage Sandwich with Walnuts

 Maple Syrup and Orange Pumpkin Tartine with crisp Sage and Walnuts

For 4-6 tartines you need

dark rye bread (with or without walnuts) 4-6 slices
pumpkin, peeled, without seeds and cut into small cubes, 350g / 12.5 ounces
freshly squeezed orange juice 50ml / 2 ounces
maple syrup 2 tablespoons plus more to taste
a pinch of salt
fresh sage leaves 12-18
olive oil 4 tablespoons plus more for the pumpkin
walnuts, broken into pieces, 4

Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a sauce pan and fry the sage leaves until golden (1-2 minutes) but not dark!

In a large pan, heat a splash of olive oil and sauté the pumpkin on medium heat for 5 minutes or until al dente. Deglaze with the orange juice, add the maple syrup and season with a little salt. Take the pan off the heat when the juices are almost soaked.

Brush the slices of bread with the sage oil and put the pumpkin on top. Garnish with the crisp sage leaves and some walnuts. Enjoy!

Pumpkin and Sage Sandwich with Walnuts

 

Pumpkin and Sage Sandwich with Walnuts

Ginger Lemon Cauliflower with Pink Peppercorns

Ginger Lemon Cauliflower with Pink Peppercorns

Last weekend we spent a few days in the countryside, we felt like long walks in the forest and good hearty food prepared by my mother. Sometimes I need a break from the city buzz and the village where my mother lives is the perfect place to rest and feast!

A couple days before we left the city she called me to tell me that she spotted a beautiful farm in the area to buy her wood for the fire place. It’s a fairy tail like place surrounded by hills and forest where they also have geese, turkey and fallow deer. My mother got quite excited when the woman who owns the farm offered her a deer that her husband had just shot a few days before. It was wild from the forest which the couple takes care of and not from the farm. In the next few days, I will write more about our kitchen adventure that followed and having to skin and dress the game, but for now I’ll share an easier recipe with you that my mother made for us on the night we arrived.

We reached the hill where my mother lives in the early evening, the perfect time to arrive at her house! That’s the time of the day when we all meet in her kitchen to enjoy a glass of champagne while we’re busy cooking, nibbling and chatting. She had some oxtail leftovers, a recipe I’ll definitely make again in the near future as the meat was fantastic, with an amazingly aromatic sauce. We made some Swabian Spaetzle to soak up all the thick juices and crunchy ginger lemon cauliflower on the side. I’ve already mentioned that this isn’t my favourite of all cabbages but combined with the two spices, it showed its delicate side. I used the same combination of lemon and ginger for a velvety, fresh soup half a year ago and that’s the best way to enjoy this vegetable in my opinion. My mother sprinkled some crushed pink peppercorns on top (her culinary obsession at the moment as you’ll see in the following days) and it was great. That’s exactly what this white cabbage needs, a strong spice attack!

gingerlemoncauliflower3.2

 Ginger Lemon Cauliflower with Pink Peppercorns

For 4 people you need

medium sized cauliflower, broken into florets, 1
ginger, thinly sliced, 7 slices
zest of 1/2 lemon, plus more to taste
white wine
salt
pink peppercorns, lightly crushed in a mortar, 1 tablespoon plus more to taste

Put the cauliflower, ginger and lemon zest in a large pan. Season with salt, cover the bottom with white wine (1/2cm / 1/4″) and close with a lid. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for about 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is al dente. Season with salt and lemon zest to taste and sprinkle with the pink peppercorns.

Ginger Lemon Cauliflower with Pink Peppercorns

 

Ginger Lemon Cauliflower with Pink Peppercorns

 

Ginger Lemon Cauliflower with Pink Peppercorns

Sicilian Rainbow Chard with Pine Nuts and Brandy Raisins

Sicilian Chard with Pine Nuts and Raisins

Bright as a rainbow in yellow, orange and pink! When I saw the pop coloured chard at the market I had to buy it in all of its shades although I didn’t have any plans to use them. On my way home, driving through the streets lined with golden trees at the peak of their autumn beauty, I had to think of Sicliy. We were there a couple years ago in July and the soft Mediterranean hills were covered in golden wheat, glowing in the sunlight like the leaves in the sky over Berlin.

So that was my inspiration, Sicily! Sicilian recipes often combine the sweetness of raisins with the nuttiness of pine and both flavours go very well with chard. I sautéed the stalks first as they need a bit longer than the soft leaves which are done in a few minutes. The vegetable is refined with Balsamic vinegar, orange juice and raisins cooked in brandy. You could also add some cinnamon and orange zest, or a pinch of cumin.

In spring, I wrote about my calamaretti in vermouth sauce which works with another Sicilian duo that’s just as good, raisins and salty capers!

Sicilian Chard with Pine Nuts and Raisins

 

Sicilian Chard with Pine Nuts and Raisins

Sicilian Rainbow Chard with Pine Nuts and Brandy Raisins

For 4-6 people you need

rainbow or green chard, stems thinly sliced, leaves roughly chopped, 1.4kg / 3 pounds
medium sized onions, finely chopped, 2
freshly squeezed orange juice 50ml / 2 ounces
Balsamico vinegar 2 tablespoons
olive oil
salt and pepper
pine nuts 100g / 3.5 ounces
raisins 150g / 5 ounces
brandy 75ml / 2.5 ounces
water 50ml / 2 ounces

optionally:
orange zest to taste
cinnamon to taste
cumin to taste

Roast the pine nuts in a pan until golden brown.

In  a sauce pan, bring the water, brandy and raisins to a boil, close with a lid and take off the heat.

In a large pan, heat a splash of olive oil and fry the onions until golden and soft. Add the sliced stems of the chard and sauté for 5 minutes on medium heat or until al dente. Add the chopped leaves of the chard, stir and cook for 1 minute. Add the vinegar and orange juice and the raisins in brandy. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook for 2 minutes, sprinkle with the roasted pine nuts.

If you like you could also add some orange zest and cinnamon.

Sicilian Chard with Pine Nuts and Raisins

 

Sicilian Chard with Pine Nuts and Raisins

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