When the popular German food magazine Lust auf Genuss asked to feature eat in my kitchen in their February print issue I was more than excited. This magazine is a culinary gem! Their fantastic team creates so many amazing recipes and shares detailed information about our every day ingredients. I really love their special columns about wine makers and other fascinating food producers and their delicious products, just reading through the pages and seeing the pictures makes me want to cook!
I was very lucky, this month’s issue was about citrus fruits which made my pleasure even greater, there is barely a recipe without oranges, lemons or tangerines coming out of my kitchen at the moment. So a whole magazine dedicated to my beloved powerful fruits felt like the perfect surrounding for a feature about me and the blog, especially because I was asked to contribute a new recipe which wasn’t on the blog yet. My first choice was guinea fowl with lemon ricotta stuffed under the skin but the magazine’s own cooking team had a similar recipe in mind. Lamb chops were next on my list. Easter is close and there’ll definitely be lamb on the table at one point, it also combines wonderfully with citrus flavours. It seemed just perfect. The decision for the final recipe was actually made in the forest, during an afternoon walk with my mother. We chatted about the feature and within seconds the idea was set: the chops quickly seared and topped with a thin slice of orange then finished under the grill. The orange coated in a layer of chopped, fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme and sage) mixed with parmesan and olive oil. The ripe cheese creates a fine crust in the oven and adds its wonderful aroma to the composition.
I served the lamb with lemony Mediterranean mashed potatoes to keep it pure and simple, just olive oil, sea salt and a bit of lemon zest chopped with a knife into the roots. This is the right meal to get into the mood for spring and all its culinary fragrant pleasures!
Lamb Chops with Orange Herb Crust & Mediterranean Mashed Potatoes
For 2 people you need
For the lamb chops
lamb chops (1 1/2-2cm / 3/4″ thick) 6, about 450g / 16 ounces
organic orange, ends cut off, very thinly sliced, 1 (you’ll need 6 slices)
olive oil 3 tablespoons plus more for frying
mixed fresh herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme), finely chopped, 1 tablespoon
grated ripe parmesan 2 tablespoons
salt and pepper
Set the oven to grill, the oven has to be hot when you put the meat in.
Whisk the olive oil, herbs and parmesan and coat 6 slices of orange generously with the herb oil on both sides. Heat a splash of olive oil in a pan and sear the lamb chops over a high heat for 1 minute on each side. I like them rare, keep them in the pan for another 30 seconds if you prefer them medium. Take the pan off the heat and season with salt and pepper. Lay 1 slice of herb coated orange on each piece of meat and put the lamb chops under the hot grill for about 1 minute (just let cheese melt and the rind turn golden brown). Serve with the mashed potatoes.
For the mashed potatoes
potatoes, peeled and cooked in salted water, about 400g / 14 ounces
olive oil 50ml / 2 ounces
lemon zest 1 1/2 teaspoons
Chop the warm potatoes with a knife until they have a lumpy texture adding the oil constantly. Stir in the zest and season with salt.
The thought behind this sandwich is simple: 1. I love the bittersweet combination of endive and pear, 2. the rustic duo of ham and endive gives me a cosy feeling which I desperately crave in February and 3. melted hearty raclette fits to (almost) everything. Just the idea of combining these four ingredients in a grilled sandwich sounded so promising that I could barely wait to take the first bite of my new creation. Usually, I’m quite disciplined while I take pictures for my posts but this time I truly suffered behind the camera. It didn’t really help that the smell of this little beauty was even more tempting than its mouthwatering good looks, it was quite a cruel teaser!
The result was so pleasing that I quickly prepared a second batch as the first one went down so well. You can use any hard cheese for this sandwich as long as it melts well and tastes strong enough to stand up next to the other ingredients. I can imagine a ripe blue cheese or camembert would be just as good. I’m a big fan of raclette, its powerful aroma is just made to merge with vegetables, meat or pasta. This Swiss cheese is far from being shy without being obtrusive, and it forms these little smoky bubbles under the grill which smell and taste fantastic. The preparation is quick and easy, I sautéed the endives on both sides before I stacked them on a rustic bun between ham, pear wedges and a generous slice of cheese. Just a few minutes under the grill and the raclette took over my kitchen!
Grilled Endive, Ham, Raclette and Pear Sandwich
For 2 sandwiches you need
sourdough bread 4 slices
small endives, cut in half (lengthwise), 2
ham 4 slices
pear, cut into thin wedges, 1/2
raclette cheese, sliced, 80g / 3 ounces
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar, for the topping
Heat a splash of olive oil in a pan and sauté the endives on medium heat for 1-2 minutes on each side, season with salt and pepper.
Lay 2 slices of ham on a slice of sourdough bread, spread the pear on top and finish with the sautéed endive. Spread some cheese over the vegetable and continue with the second sandwich. Put both sandwiches under the grill for a few minutes or until the cheese starts bubbling. Sprinkle with pepper and enjoy!
I don’t know why but this winter I didn’t really get into the mood for cabbage. Give me beans, lentils, all kinds of legumes and I’m happy. And whenever I pulled roasted roots out of my oven I was almost ecstatic, but cabbage, unfortunately, left me a bit uninspired. This is quite unusual for me, I would sometimes cook it every week in big batches in the cold season, cauliflower, kale, red cabbage heads and savoy, my freezer was always full with leftovers from my various cabbage creations.
I believe that you should follow your taste, your gut feeling in life. Whatever your appetite calls for stands for something that your body needs at that moment, not only when it comes to food. Lets leave out the excessive consuming of chocolate and cakes, this doesn’t count in my train of thought, that’s more for the soul rather than for the body, which is as important. My appetite definitely calls for legumes and roots! There weren’t many cabbage recipes on eat in my kitchen this winter, just three, my Ginger Lemon Ricotta stuffed Cabbage Rolls, Savoy Cabbage with Coriander and Maltese Sausage and the Christmassy Roasted Red Cabbage with Orange Wedges. Roots, beans and lentils, that’s what I put into my pots and pans most of the time.
Today’s recipe combines both, velvety butter beans cooked with rosemary and caramelized mixed roots roasted in the oven in sticky maple syrup olive oil. The carrots, beetroot and Navet roots (yellow turnip) were still a bit crunchy and just as good when they were cold. This was our energising snack together with yesterday’s olive oil bundt cake while we remodeled the kitchen. This dish works as a warming meal or a rich salad, just prepare a bigger batch and enjoy it for days!
White Rosemary Beans and Maple Roast Roots
For 3-4 people you need
butter beans, soaked in lots of water overnight, 250g / 9 ounces
broth to cook the beans or 1 carrot, 1/4 celery root and 1/4 leek
fresh rosemary, a small bunch
Navet roots (yellow turnip), cut into wedges, 3 (0r 1 small rutabaga, peeled)
medium sized beetroots, peeled and cut into wedges, 2
carrots, peeled, cut in half (lengthwise), 10
cloves of garlic, in their skin, 6
olive oil 6 tablespoons
maple syrup 1 tablespoon
Balsamico vinegar 1 teaspoon
coarse sea salt and pepper
In a large pot, cook the beans in broth or in water with the carrot (cut in half), celery (peeled) and leek (cut in half) for about an hour, don’t add any salt. Add a sprig of rosemary for the last 15 minutes. When the beans are done take them out with a slotted ladle and mix them with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, Balsamico vinegar, salt and pepper. Season to taste.
Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F (I used the Rotitherm setting).
Whisk 5 tablespoons of olive oil with the maple syrup and pepper. Spread the roots in a large baking dish or on a tray and coat them with the maple oil, add a few sprigs of rosemary. Sprinkle the roots generously with coarse sea salt and roast in the oven for about 45 minutes or until golden brown and al dente, turn them every 15 minutes. Serve on top of the beans.
Kitchen remodeling! Finally, after having been in Berlin for exactly 10 years I used this special anniversary to change a part of my kitchen that has been bugging me since my first day. When I moved into my apartment I took over an oven and a rather simple and unpractical sink/ cupboard which were already set up. The oven made space for my new one after 5 years but, somehow, the sink which was supposed to leave after a week survived 10 years. Thanks to procrastination and my indecisiveness!
So, a few weeks ago I fell in love with a white ceramic sink and I took this love at first sight as an incentive to get my kitchen project started. Although I only had a one and a half meter space for the sink, cupboard and shelves, I don’t think that the planning would have taken much longer for the whole kitchen. All the little details which make it or break it (literally) were much more time consuming than expected (which explains my hesitance to get started). I didn’t want to break with the look that I already have, Carrara marble kitchen tops and aluminium wall panels. White is the dominant colour which is helpful as it makes the room brighter. The only thing I did change, are the closed cupboards under and next to the sink. In the past I only had an open shelving system with metal supports and wooden racks which looks great but is rather unpractical when there is water involved.
I made the final choices when I visited my mother last week, kitchen remodeling is a perfect mother-daughter project. We spoke about materials and the layout while we sat outside on her terrace in the sunshine with a glass of chilled white wine and lots of pictures, brochures and drawings scattered all over the table. As soon as I got back home, I made my orders and prepared myself for the building, I baked a cake! I love home works and renovations but to me good catering is essential to keep up the spirit in moments of frustration and we had a few of them. My cake of choice was the juiciest, spongiest gugelhupf (bundt cake) made with lots of olive oil. I covered this piece of simple bliss in a fruity orange icing to give it a more festive anniversary look. It doesn’t really need it but it made it pretty! If you’re looking for a cake that you can eat with your fingers as a little snack (while you’re remodeling your kitchen) or for breakfast, or if you’re after an honest tea time cake with a bit of finesse, go for it! The olive oil adds some moisture without making it soggy and it leaves a subtle hint of its rich aroma.
So, it’s been 10 years of Berlin and the city has been very good to me. I fell in love with it when I visited it for the first time many, many years ago and it has inspired me every day since then, it made me grow and filled me with such happiness like no other place in the world (apart from Malta). Thank you Berlin!
Olive Oil Bundt Cake with Orange Icing
For a 1 3/4l / 3 1/2 pint bundt pan you need
plain flour 250g / 9 ounces
sugar 200g / 7 ounces
baking powder 3 teaspoons
a pinch of salt
organic eggs 5
olive oil 150ml / 5 ounces
milk 100ml / 3.5 ounces
orange zest 2 heaped teaspoons plus more for the topping
butter and breadcrumbs for the bundt pan
For the orange icing
icing sugar 200g / 7 ounces
freshly squeezed orange juice 3-4 tablespoons
Set the oven to 180°C / 350°F (fan-assisted oven). Butter the bundt pan well and coat generously with breadcrumbs.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Quickly mix in the eggs, olive oil and milk with an electric mixer. Pour the batter into the bundt pan and bake for 40 minutes or until golden and firm on top. Check with a skewer, it should come out clean. Let the cake cool for a few minutes, shake the pan a little and turn the cake onto a plate, let it cool completely.
Whisk the icing sugar and orange juice (spoon by spoon) until it’s thick and slightly runny.
Glaze the cake with the orange icing and sprinkle with orange zest.
When I make my own malloreddus pasta at home, with a glass of Chianti in reach and crackling vinyl on the record player, I’m almost in Italy. Shaping pasta without a machine is pure meditation and it’s just as relaxing. The dough is firm yet elastic and it feels so nice to roll it in your hands to a thin sausage shape. It takes a while, this isn’t a 10 minute dinner, it’s not something to have on the table as soon as possible, this is slow food, literally. Some people like to knit or sew, repair old radios or play an instrument to calm down, I like to roll my pasta.
Malloreddus is an old Sardinian pasta made of semolina flour often refined with saffron. Traditionally, it’s rolled over a ridged surface that gives it a similar look to gnocchi and led to the second name, Gnocchetti Sardi. I learned another technique, here the pasta is pressed against the back of a knife which gives it a slightly bend shape, perfect to collect all kinds of sauces and meaty juices. Today I kept it simple, I wanted to enjoy the pure and honest taste of the semolina pasta so I just made a velvety parmesan butter. This is one of the many culinary tips from my mother, we visited her last week and I came home with lots of recipes and enough inspiration for the next few months. Her parmesan butter is mixed in a blender and unfolds a beautiful aroma when it’s stirred into the pasta, it just needed some lemon zest, fresh basil and crushed pepper – Italian perfection!
Malloreddus with Parmesan Butter
For 2-3 people you need
durum semolina flour 300g / 10 1/2 ounces
plain flour 50g / 2 ounces
salt 1 teaspoon
water 170ml / 6 ounces
olive oil 1 tablespoon
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar, to serve
flaky sea salt, to serve
lemon zest, to serve
fresh basil leaves, to serve
freshly grated parmesan, to serve
For the parmesan butter
butter, at room temperature, 40g / 1 1/2 ounces
freshly grated parmesan 40g / 1 1/2 ounces
Combine the semolina, flour and salt, make a well in the centre and add the water and olive oil. Mix with the electric mixer or a spoon until combined. Continue kneading with your hands for a few minutes until elastic, the dough shouldn’t be sticky but firm and stretchable. Form a ball and wrap it in cling film. Let the dough rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. You could also keep it in the fridge for a few hours.
Take a small piece of dough (keep the remaining dough wrapped) and roll it between your hands or on the kitchen top until it’s about 7mm / 1/4″ thick. Cut it into 2cm / 3/4″ pieces and press them against the back of a knife (lengthwise). If you prefer the traditional ribbed surface you can roll the single pasta over a gnocchi ridger. Keep the malloreddus on a floured baking sheet and continue rolling the remaining dough.
In a large pot, bring salted water to the boil and cook the malloreddus for 4-5 minutes or until al dente.
Mix the butter and parmesan in a blender (or with a tablespoon) until smooth.
Serve the pasta on warm plates mixed with a spoonful of the parmesan butter, salt, pepper, lemon zest and basil.
If you ever want to seduce a (non vegetarian) man, make schnitzel, and if you want to be 100% sure that he’ll definitely fall for you, make a schnitzel sandwich! There must be something in this rustic snack that men absolutely love. When I fry schnitzel, I always prepare a bigger batch as I know that the leftovers are more than welcome the next day. To see the satisfaction in someone’s face after the first bite of this breaded piece of meat stuffed in a bun is impressive. If the man of your heart is a true schnitzel connoisseur this will send him straight to culinary heaven!
You could put the cold meat on a slice of white bread and keep it simple which is already delicious, or you could take it to the next level. Serve the schnitzel warm, fresh out of the sizzling pan and combine it with crunchy rucola and sweet cherry tomatoes. I drizzled lemon butter over it and that made it absolutely irresistible!
Schnitzel Sandwich with Lemon Butter, Rucola and Cherry Tomatoes
For 2 sandwiches
white buns, cut in half, 2
schnitzel, 5mm / 1/4″ thin, lightly pounded, 2 (each about 125g / 4.5 ounces)
organic egg, beaten, 1
butter 1 tablespoon for the lemon butter plus 1-2 tablespoons to fry the schnitzel
freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 tablespoon
cherry tomatoes, sliced, 6-8
rucola, a small handful
salt and pepper
In a large heavy pan, heat a generous splash of olive oil and 1-2 tablespoons of butter over a high temperature, the bottom of the pan should be covered. Prepare 3 large, deep plates, fill one with the egg, the other with flour and the last with breadcrumbs. Lightly dust and turn the meat in the flour first, then turn it in the egg and finally, quickly turn it in the breadcrumbs until covered. Fry the schnitzel for 1–2 minutes on each side until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper and take the meat out of the pan. Dip the inside of the buns into the pan and let them soak the juices.
In a sauce pan, warm up 1 tablespoon of butter and the lemon juice. Take it off the heat when it’s hot.
Spread some rucola leaves on the bottom of each bun and put the schnitzel (cut in half) on top. Drizzle the lemon butter over the meat and lay a few tomato slices on top. Close the bun, squeeze it and enjoy in good company!
Oven roasted pumpkin has always been on the top of my list of winter favourites but I recently found out about a combination which makes this dish even more tempting: pumpkin, pistachios and feta cheese!
The woman who introduced my taste buds to these culinary highs wrote a wonderful cook book called Persiana which I happily found under our Christmas tree. Sabrina Ghayour managed to come up with an amazing collection of beautiful recipes from the Middle East and beyond that caught my attention from the first page. Her family’s Iranian background combined with the fact that she grew up in England, let the self-taught chef create magical and manageable recipes praising her big culinary love, the Persian cuisine, by using ingredients that can easily be found at every supermarket. I find great relaxation and inspiration in this little gem, in the way she talks about food in general and about single aromas in particular.
Although I didn’t have the time to cook many of her creations yet, I already read through the book three or four times. Her butternut squash with pistachio pesto, feta and pomegranate struck me every time I passed the page.
I rarely follow cook books to the letter, I love to work with them and develop my own ideas, that’s what happened with Sabrina’s butternut dish. I roasted Hokkaido wedges the way I always do and added a little cumin to the olive oil which is very nice with the squash’s sweetness. Her pesto didn’t make it into our dinner, but I whipped salty feta cheese with lots of pistachios, olive oil and cumin to a thick dip that I served on top of the warm squash. The combination of nutty, sweet and salty aromas is simply brilliant!
Oven Roast Pumpkin with Pistachio Feta Cheese
For 4 people you need
Hokkaido pumpkin or butternut squash, cut in half, the seeds and fibre scraped out, 1kg / 2 1/4 pounds
feta cheese 180g / 6 1/2 ounces
pistachios (in their shells) 200g / 7 ounces
olive oil 50ml / 1 3/4 ounces plus 3 tablespoons for the feta
coarse sea salt and pepper
Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F.
Cut the pumpkin into large wedges, don’t peel it. Whisk 50ml (1 3/4 ounces) of olive oil with pepper and 1 teaspoon of cumin. Spread the pumpkin in a baking dish and coat with the spice oil. Sprinkle the wedges with salt and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Turn the wedges and cook for another 7 minutes (Hokkaido) or 15 minutes (butternut) or until golden brown and soft.
Grind 60g / 2 ounces of the peeled pistachios in a food processor and purée with the feta cheese, 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of cumin until smooth and well combined. Season to taste.
Arrange the warm pumpkin and the pistachio feta on plates. Peel and chop the remaining pistachios and sprinkle them over the cheese. If you like, add a little more cumin (to taste).
If you choose Hokkaido, you can eat the skin, but if you went for butternut squash, you have to scrape it out of the skin (you can do that on your plate).
I’ve never baked croissants in my kitchen, I’m a bit scared of puff pastry at least when I’m the one who has to prepare it. Unfortunately, I love to eat them, sometimes I literally crave their buttery flakiness that leaves your fingers sticky and fills your mouth with the wonderful taste that only the excessive use of butter can create. Luckily, there is an easier and quicker alternative to the French treat coming from the Jewish cuisine. In case of urgent need of croissants, just bake rugelach!
The delicate pastry is in no way behind croissants, neither in richness nor in tender lightness. It’s the addition of cream cheese that creates this easy miracle, easy as it’s far from being as time consuming as the French breakfast classic. When the ingredients are mixed and the dough has cooled in the freezer for half an hour, the rolling and filling can begin!
My last rugelach recipe was one of the first posts I shared on eat in my kitchen, I baked them for a festive Hannukah party at a friend’s house. I used bittersweet chocolate and cinnamon, a combination that can never go wrong. For my new recipe I had a bit of a childish combination in mind, chocolate breakfast spread and puréed bananas, the perfect kiddy treat! I’m quite sure that a few of our friend’s young children would have loved to join in my messy kitchen activity. My first batch of rugelach turned out to be a bit difficult as I tried to cut the single pieces after I spread the banana and chocolate on top of the pastry, messy! I can’t recommend this, it’s almost impossible! Instead, start with the banana layer, cut the triangles and then put on the chocolate spread, that’s much easier.
So, what can I say about the taste? My partner was quite sceptical when I told him about this combination but then, as soon as he smelled the sweetest aroma coming out of the kitchen, he couldn’t stop himself anymore. Both of us actually, as we ate them like peanuts. It’s one of those sweets that hits the right spot with the first bite and calls for more and more!
Banana and Chocolate Spread Rugelach
For 24 rugelach you need
plain flour 150g / 5 ounces
icing sugar, 2 heaped tablespoons plus more for the topping
a pinch of salt
butter, cold, 125g / 4.5 ounces
cream cheese 125g / 4.5 ounces
ripe bananas 2 (around 200g / 7 ounces)
chocolate spread (like nutella) 6 tablespoons
Combine the flour, icing sugar and salt. Cut the butter with a knife into the flour mixture until there are just little pieces left. Continue with your fingers and work the butter quickly into the flour. Add the cream cheese and continue mixing with a fork or the hooks of the mixer until the mixture is combined. Form 2 discs, wrap them in cling film and put them in the freezer for about 30 minutes, the dough should be hard but still rollable.
Set the oven to 185°C / 365°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Purée the bananas in a food processor until smooth.
When the dough is hard, keep one disc in the fridge and roll out the other disc between cling film dusted with flour. You should end up with a circle of about 30cm / 12″. Flip the dough onto a new piece of floured cling film, this will make it easier to roll the rugelach. Spread half of the banana purée on the dough and cut it like a cake into 12 triangles. Divide half of the chocolate spread roughly into 12 portions and sprinkle on each triangle. Gently roll up the rugelach from the wider side to the tip. Bake in the oven for about 19-20 minutes or until golden brown. Continue with the remaining disc.
Let the rugelach cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar.
On to part II of Berlin’s Hauptstadtmutticooking session! The popular mother, fashion and lifestyle blog is run by Isa and Claudia, both such vibrant and inspiring ladies that I had to visit both of their culinary spaces. Two weeks ago, I learned how to make Claudia’s Ukrainian Pelmeni dumplings (you can read about it here) and now it’s time to cook in Isa’s kitchen.
It was cold and snowy as I made my way to meet Isa, the city was wrapped in a wintery grey and, although it was already 10 in the morning, it was quite dark when I reached the old house where the young mother lives with her little family of four. The imposing building is one of the few on the street which hasn’t been renovated, the facade crumbling between the majestic window frames which gives it quite a morbid charm, you can still see the beauty of the past. It looks a bit like an abandoned house in a fairy tale, it’s more than impressive and it sparked my fantasy when I walked up the creaking steps to knock on Isa’s wooden door. But then, when I entered her home, I was speechless, endless rooms and corridors, herringbone parquet floors, high ceilings lined with decorative stucco and large windows which let in the most dreamy light. Within seconds I fell in love with this elegant but cosy home!
Isa started Hauptstadtmutti in 2011 together with Claudia. In the first part of our cooking series I talked about their fascinating and complementary personalities which led to the two meet in your kitchen features. Both women share an international upbringing which confronted them with various cultures at a young age. Claudia grew up with an Eastern European background and Isa had quite an adventurous childhood, she lived in Baghdad in Iraq during the first 4 years of her life. Her father was a successful engineer who used to live in East Germany with his wife before his skills took him and his young family to the Middle East to design pump stations. Back in East Germany, he was also involved in the construction of the GDR’s first nuclear power station. Despite this experience, or perhaps because of it, the whole family turned to a more alternative lifestyle in the following years. They became politically active, focussed on natural home grown food and raised awareness for healthy living.
As a teenager, Isa joined yoga and meditation classes together with her father and mother. Today, her parents practice Tai Chi together with their friends in the family’s grand garden which is part of an old farm established by Isa’s grandfather. The family takes their well-being into their own hands, one generation after the other, and the next one is waiting in line. Isa passes her experiences on to her children and although they are still quite young they can already enjoy her delicious food. Isa’s cooking truly pleases the taste buds, she creates culinary moments of bliss without regrets, her food is healthy, with organic ingredients, and full of flavour. She made a fantastic beetroot risotto for me, it was cooked to perfection, the rice corns and roots were al dente, just how I like it. She refined her composition with chèvre, parmesan and fresh mint – a great composition I can only recommend!
Beetroot Risotto with Chèvre and Mint
For 2-3 people you need
small beetroot 2
risotto rice (Arborio) 250g / 9 ounces
glove of garlic 1
honey 1 tablespoon
a shot of white wine
vegetable broth 1/2-1 l / 1-2 pints
grated parmesan cheese, a handful
butter 1 tablespoon
salt and pepper
mint 4 small branches
fresh goat cheese (chèvre), for the topping
Peel the beetroot, garlic and onions and cut them into cubes. The larger the beetroot cubes, the more bite they’ll have. Warm up the broth in a saucepan, it should be simmering.
In a large pan, heat some olive oil and cook the onions and garlic until glassy and soft. Add the beetroot and honey to the onion and let it caramelise slightly, add the rice and let it cook for a minute. Deglaze with a splash of white wine and add a ladle of broth. When the liquid has been absorbed add more broth, a little at a time stirring in between. When the rice is al dente, take the pan off the heat. Stir in the butter and parmesan cheese and let them melt into the rice. Season with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with chèvre and mint to serve.
You spent the first three years of your life in Iraq due to your father’s work as an engineer before your family moved back to East Germany. How did this experience influence your family and how did it effect your own personality?
Concerning that I should probably explain that my parents were neither in the communist party nor in the homeland security of former East Germany so it was quite a mission for them to get to live and work outside the country. But they made it because of their skills and raised my brother and I to believe that “You can get everywhere if you really want it”. That really brought me to a lot of places and made me later want to live in other countries as well. We also have a very open minded attitude towards other cultures in our family.
Do you think traveling is important for children to get to know different cultures and mentalities? Can you give some tips for traveling with young children?
If they are very young I don’t know. They will not really remember it. We did not travel too far away with our kids yet. Switzerland, France, Denmark. It is not that stressful for them but sometimes for us, the parents. Sometimes it is more fun to spend a week at the Baltic Sea than to travel for hours and hours. It is always good to have plenty of books with you, especially Wimmelbücher (picture books).
Your parents encouraged a great awareness for natural food and a healthy lifestyle by their own way of living. How did they influence your consumption, your cooking and the food you buy?
Oh yes, my mother was very into healthy food when we were young and still is. She cooks her own jams from the fruits of her garden and we always ate fruits and vegetables from the garden. She always uses fresh and natural ingredients. The older I get, and of course with children, I try to live as healthy as I can too. I usually buy local or organic fruits and vegetables.
You went to high school in the US for one year, what fascinated you about this new culture? What are your culinary memories?
Everybody was very very friendly and I just had a very great teenage time there. Culinary memories? Donuts, cheeseburger, tacos and ice cream (smiling)!
As an au pair in Paris, you also experienced the French cuisine for one year. What did you like about the food there?
It is very pure, many vegetables and beef and lots of seafood. I liked that very much and the oysters. I learned how to eat oysters. Delicious!
Did your cooking change since you became a mother? Do you have any tips to make cooking for and eating with young children easier?
I really changed into organic and local food. Eating with young children is easy. I always cooked the baby food by myself. This is totally easy and does not take a long time. What I learned is that young children want a variety and a change of food every day. They do not like to eat the same thing every day over and over. My tip is to always try to eat the same as your kids. They copy you and will (often) try more.
What was the first dish you cooked on your own, what is your first cooking memory?
The first dish was Spaghetti Bolognese. I learned this when I was 12 when my mother was away for an allergy cure and our father taught it to my brother and I.
As a fashion observer and blogger, which are your 3 most helpful fashion tips for young mothers?
1. Always carry a large scarf for nursing in public.
2. Get a new haircut. It makes you feel good.
3. Buy at least 3 shirts or dresses which make nursing comfortable.
Where do you find creative inspiration?
In Berlin, walking around the city and on the internet reading international blogs and magazines.
What are your favourite places to buy and enjoy food in Berlin?
I love to eat at Cordobar. Great food and the largest selection of wine. And I like to buy food at Mitte Meer.
What did you choose to share on eat in my kitchen?
If you could choose one person to cook a meal for you, who and what would it be?
Janine (a friend), roasted root vegetables.
You’re going to have ten friends over for a spontaneous dinner, what will be on the table?
What was your childhood’s culinary favourite and what is it now?
Spaghetti Bolognese and now it is fish, especially Sushi.
Do you prefer to cook on your own or together with others?
Five tasty C’s: coriander seeds, cumin, curcuma longa (turmeric), cardamom and cayenne pepper! The list of spices for my roast chicken legs is long but each single one adds its strong character to the aromatic result. I mixed a generous amount of their fragrant qualities into a golden marinade made of olive oil and lemon juice to let them infuse the chicken’s sizzling skin while cooking in the oven. The air in the kitchen smelled just wonderful and so did the meat when I put the tray onto the table. I also cooked some slices of lemon and butter beans in the spiced oil, the legumes skin burst and their velvety, soft inside mixed with the juices. It literally asked to be soaked with fresh ciabatta bread!
My mother often makes chicken legs in larger quantities when she has many people staying at her house, when my cousins visit to help her in the garden, or when her grandchildren visit and she isn’t up for an extensive dinner. I completely understand why, this dish is the ultimate comfort food, it’s easy to prepare (all you have to do is put the chicken legs on a tray and cook them in the oven) and you can easily customize the recipe. In late summer I cooked chicken legs with Moscato wine, grapes and thyme and in spring I glazed the skin with honey and roasted the meat with carrots and sage. You could also adjust my chicken with spiced peaches and work with the legs instead of the whole bird and enjoy the fruit’s sweetness together with the tender poultry. There are so many options! Sometimes my mother just cooks it with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic, plain and simple. Just the idea of sitting in her garden eating the chicken leg with my fingers makes my mouth water!
Spice Roast Chicken Legs with Butter Beans and Mint
For 2-4 people you need
chicken legs 4
canned butter beans, rinsed and drained, 250g / 9 ounces (double the amount for 4 people)
coriander seeds, crushed in a mortar, 1 teaspoon
ground cumin 1 teaspoon
ground turmeric 1/2 teaspoon
ground cardamom 1/4 teaspoon
cayenne pepper 1/4 teaspoon
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar, 1/4 teaspoon
lemon, cut into thin slices, 1, plus 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
coarse sea salt
fresh mint leaves, a small handful, to serve
Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F (I use the Rotitherm setting which works perfectly for poultry).
Whisk 3 tablespoons of olive oil with the lemon juice and spices. Arrange the chicken legs in a baking dish, rub them on all sides with the spiced oil and sprinkle the skin generously with sea salt. Mix the beans with a splash of olive oil and arrange them around the meat. Put the slices of lemon on top and cook in the oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Pour some of the juices over the meat a couple times while it’s cooking. Check the meat with a skewer, only clear juices should come out when it’s done. If you like, turn the grill on for a few minutes until the skin starts sizzling. Serve with fresh mint and ciabatta bread.
Excitement in the kitchen! I made my first poached egg and it worked out perfectly. After a quick introduction to the art of egg poaching on Food52 I felt ready to give this challenge a try. To my surprise, it was much easier than I had expected so I could take my time and focus on the other ingredients for this week’s sandwich, grilled aubergine and crisp bacon.
My inspiration came from the great Sabih sandwich. I thought about it in the past couple days, how it combines all that lusciousness between two slices of bread, rich hummus, grilled aubergine and a boiled egg merged to true deliciousness. It could easily be too much but somehow this Middle Eastern sandwich classic does it just right. The egg and the eggplant are a great duo, they complement each other perfectly, so I used this idea but added a new flavour, salty bacon. I packed everything in between a large baguette bun and finished it off with some crunchy parsley leaves. I should warn you, this is more than a snack, it’s a proper meal, but anything smaller wouldn’t have worked, this sandwich has the same addictive quality as the scrumptious Sabih!
Poached Egg, Grilled Aubergine and Bacon Sandwich
For 2 large sandwiches you need
large, crunchy baguette buns, cut in half, 2
aubergine, cut into 1/2cm / 1/4″ slices, 1
breakfast bacon 6 slices
coarse sea salt and pepper
fresh parsley leaves, a small handful
Brush the aubergine slices with olive oil on both sides, season with salt and pepper and put them under the grill for about 6-7 minutes on each side. Watch them as they should be golden, partly brown, but not burned. Take them out of the oven and put the slices on top of each other on a plate, that will keep them moist.
Heat a little olive oil in a pan and fry the bacon for a few minutes on each side on medium heat until golden brown and crisp. Lay them on kitchen paper to remove excess fat.
Put 2-3 slices of grilled aubergine on the bottom side of each bun and lay 2 -3 slices of bacon on top.
In a sauce pan, bring water to the boil, add some salt and turn down the temperature, it should be simmering, not bubbling! Crack an egg open and put it into a small bowl. Put a large spoon (the largest you have) on the surface of the simmering water and gently pour the egg onto the spoon. Hold the spoon with the egg in the water and put the egg back into place with a second tablespoon if it slips off the spoon (I had to do this a couple times). It needs around 3 minutes. When the egg is done, take the spoon out, let the excess water drip off and carefully scrape the poached egg onto the fried bacon with a second spoon. Sprinkle with parsley, close the bun and enjoy!
It’s best to poach one egg at a time but if you are impatient, you can cook two at once. In that case, let the first egg float in the water after cooking it on the spoon for 1 1/2 minutes (mind that it doesn’t stick to the bottom when you let it float). Poach the second egg on the spoon and take both eggs out after they have cooked for 3 minutes each.
Roots and fruits are a great match for puréed soups, they merge to a deliciously warming treat full of fragrant flavours. They often balance each other out, like the strong parsnip which has such an overpowering impact that it’s best in combination with other ingredients that underline its subtle sweetness.
I went for robust sweet potatoes, a great team player, and juicy pomegranate seeds, their sourness is a wonderful addition to the earthy aroma. And, of course, their dramatic look is quite a stunner on the root’s pale pink! When I cook these kind of soups I like to spare on heavy cream, I just stir in a little bit to support the natural creaminess which is already given through the puréed vegetables. It doesn’t need much of the dairy product otherwise it will turn into a heavy meal and that’s the opposite of what I’m after. I prefer to refine the roots with another kind of milkiness, a discovery I made in October for my parsnip and pear soup. I used whipped mascarpone cheese, just a small spoonful, but this time I mixed it with cardamom and a bit of orange juice, it literally melted into the root composition!
Parsnip & Sweet Potato Soup with Pomegranate & Cardamom Mascarpone
For 4 as a starter you need
parsnip, peeled and chopped, 300g / 10.5 ounces
sweet potato, peeled and chopped, 200g/ 7 ounces
medium sized onion, chopped, 1
vegetable broth 800ml / 2 pints
bay leaf 1
rosemary 1-2 small sprigs
heavy cream 75ml / 2.5 ounces
salt and pepper
honey 1-2 teaspoons, to taste
mascarpone 100g / 3.5 ounces, for the topping
freshly squeezed orange juice, to taste, for the topping
pomegranate, peeled, 1, 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 and sweet potato and cook for a minute. Pour in the broth and add the bay leaf and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper and cook for about 20 minutes or until the roots are soft. Take the rosemary out after 10 minutes and the bay leaf when the soup is done. Purée the soup in a blender or with a stick mixer, stir in the heavy cream, honey and a pinch of cardamom, season to taste.
Whisk the mascarpone with 1/4 teaspoon of cardamom and a splash of orange juice. Add a bit of heavy cream if it’s too thick and season to taste.
Serve the warm soup with a dollop of mascarpone, pomegranate seeds and some cardamom sprinkled on top.