Another amazing and crazy year with eat in my kitchen in my life – thank you to all of you who come back to these pages, every day, from all over the world!
I’m a little early this year, the exact anniversary will be tomorrow, on the 23rd November, this is the day I pushed my blog’s publish button for the first time, but the weeks before this fateful moment were just as important. It was then that I decided to start writing about my cooking and baking, to set up a blog called eat in my kitchen and share a recipe each day. The early readers of my blog will remember that I published one of my recipes 7 days a week for one whole year. It was an easy decision to make as I had no idea what it would mean for my life – but that changed after about 3 months. It wasn’t actually the creative work of coming up with new recipes every day that was hard to cope with. This is luckily quite easy for me as they come to me naturally, I feel inspired by almost everything I see, smell and taste. But to cook and bake the dishes, to take the time for the pictures no matter if the light was good or bad, if I felt tired or sick, that was exhausting at times. I’m not a trained photographer, everything I do, I do intuitively. I didn’t learn this skill from someone else or at a school, and I had to learn a lot. Sometimes I just felt like giving up, I sat on the floor of my kitchen, crying my eyes out because I couldn’t capture the deliciousness of a dish in a photo. Thinking back, it sounds ridiculous and I laugh about it, but in those moments it felt serious. As much as I wanted to share my recipes and inspire people to enjoy their kitchen and cooking, I also wanted to learn and grow for myself. And for one year, I wanted to do this every day. That was my mission, it wasn’t forced upon me, I just wanted it. I’m hardheaded and once an idea is stuck in my head, I go for it. Now I’m happy that I hung on to it, my skills improved a lot, be it in the kitchen, behind the camera or at my computer writing a post. But during this journey, I had to face many doubts, insecurities and setbacks – and I still have to go through many of them.
Eat in my kitchen became a platform where thousands of people find inspiration for their kitchen life every day, and this is the greatest gift to me. To see so many of you cook and bake my recipes, sometimes on the same day that I publish them, and to receive all the beautiful emails from happy cooks around the world, often with pictures attached to share their results with me; there are no words to describe what this means to me. And then, on a cold day in March this year, another wonderful incident happened in my life. A woman called Holly La Due, who lives and works in New York for the Prestel publishing house, reached out to me and asked if I would like to write a cookbook. I said yes, of course, and Holly became more than just my editor, she’s my friend.
I’ve shared my progress with you throughout the past 6 months and I’m as thankful as can be that I got chosen to move on from the digital to the analog world by working on a physical book. My recipes will be printed on paper and published next year in September and I must admit that, although I’ve been cooking, shooting and writing for this awesome project for over half a year, it still hasn’t sunk in that I’m writing a book. It feels rather surreal and I think I might have to hold it in my hands at one point – overwhelmed and with happy tears – to understand what eat in my kitchen has done with my life.
I feel thankful.
The reason I’m sharing all this with you today, is because I’ll be off to London in a couple hours for a few amazing, new features for my meet in your kitchen series and I’m totally excited to share them with you over the next few weeks. So we had a little pre-anniversary party. To follow my ‘apple tradition’ – I made a Tyrolean apple strudel for last year’s blog anniversary – I came up with my new favourite pie. The short crust pastry is buttery but not as fragile and crumbly as in my usual pies. Since I started my blog, I’ve wanted to make a pie with a pretty lattice top and I felt that the time had come. It was much easier than expected but to get there the pastry has to be a little more flexible than my normal dough, therefore I left out the eggs, added a bit more water and a little cider vinegar (it makes a tough crust). A great tutorial giving instructions about how to create the pattern was also quite helpful. The filling in this edible piece of art is more than delicious: Sour apple chunks on top of a creamy chestnut mousse refined with cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg and orange zest. The flavours of the buttery crust, sour fruit and spiced chestnut mousse merge into the most amazing pie experience – totally anniversary-worthy!
Here’s a link which shows how easy it is to make a lattice top for a pie crust!
Chestnut and Apple Pie
For the pastry
plain flour 350g / 2 2/3 cups
fine sea salt 3/4 teaspoon
butter, cold, 200g /
3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons
cold water 4 tablespoons
apple cider vinegar 1 teaspoon
For the filling
cloves, ground in a mortar, 1/8 teaspoon
nutmeg, preferably freshly grated, 1/8 teaspoon
ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon
allspice berries, ground in a mortar, 1/8 teaspoon
orange zest, freshly grated, 2 teaspoons
chestnuts, pre-cooked, 200g / 7 ounces
granulated sugar 100g / 1/2 cup
orange juice, freshly pressed, 60ml plus 3 tablespoons / 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons
organic egg 1
firm, sour apples, cut into 8 pieces each, 850g / 30 ounces (about 5 apples)
plain flour 2 tablespoons
butter, cut into little pieces, 1 tablespoon
For the glaze/ topping
organic egg yolk 1
milk 1 tablespoon
pinch of salt
granulated sugar 1 tablespoon
Use a 23cm / 9″ shallow pie dish for this recipe.
For the pastry, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into the flour with a knife until there are just small pieces left. Continue with your fingers and quickly rub the butter into the flour. Add the water and vinegar and continue mixing with the dough hooks of an electric mixer until you have a crumbly mixture. Press the dough together and form a ball, split in half and form 2 discs. Wrap the dough in cling film and freeze for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F (conventional setting).
For the filling, combine the cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and orange zest in a bowl. Purée the chestnuts in a blender until smooth and transfer to a large bowl. Whisk in half the spice mixture, half the sugar, 60ml / 1/4 cup of the orange juice and the egg, mix until well combined.
Mix the apples with the remaining sugar and spice mixture, 3 tablespoons of the orange juice and the flour.
Take the dough out of the freezer and, using a rolling pin, roll out 1 of the discs between cling film, big enough to line the bottom and sides of a 23cm / 9″ shallow pie dish, let the dough hang over the rim a little. Roll out the remaining dough between cling film, it should have a rectangular shape, a little wider than the widest part of the pie dish and about 25cm / 10″ long. Cut 8 strips off the long side, each about 3cm / 1 1/4″ wide.
Pour the chestnut purée into the pie dish lined with the pastry, even it out, and lay the apples on top. Sprinkle with the butter and quickly prepare a lattice top with the remaining dough following this link. Whisk the egg yolk, milk and salt for the glaze, brush the lattice top with the mixture and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake the pie for 15 minutes and then turn down the heat to 175°C / 350°F, bake for another 45 minutes or until the pie is golden and the pastry is baked through. Let the pie cool for at least 15 minutes before you cut it into pieces.