eat in my kitchen

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

Rosemary & Lemon Heidesand Cookies

Rosemary & Lemon Heidesand Cookies

I don’t know what I love more, the sweet, buttery smell of Christmas cookies coming out of my oven on a cozy Sunday or the woody, resinous smell of our gorgeous fir tree, which just took over our living room. I think I’ll just move back and forth between my kitchen and the tree over the next four weeks and I’ll be totally happy. There’ll be more cookies and mince pies than we can eat, more mulled wine than we should drink and more cheesy Christmas carols coming out of our vinyl player than two adults should possibly listen to. But I don’t care, I totally fall for this season and it makes me happy – happy 1st Advent!

I started my Christmas baking season with these simple looking but very aromatic bites. Based on traditional Heidesand cookies, a crumbly, buttery shortbread cookie mixed with fragrant marzipan, I refined the German Christmas classic with lots of lemon zest and chopped rosemary. It’s the kind of treat that you can easily eat off a plate by the dozen, and it’s also a quick one to prepare: I replace the usual 2 hours rest time in the fridge with only 15 minutes in the freezer. It works perfectly and you won’t notice the difference. You just have to slice up the dough roll, bake it and enjoy.

In case you missed preparing your Christmas pudding on Stir-up Sunday – like I did while I was in London – here’s the recipe. That’s what I’ll do now, happy stirring!

Rosemary & Lemon Heidesand Cookies


Rosemary & Lemon Heidesand Cookies

Rosemary & Lemon Heidesand Cookies

Makes about 60 cookies

butter, soft, 200g / 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons
marzipan, soft, 40g / 1 1/2 ounces
granulated sugar 130g / 2/3 cups
fresh rosemary, finely chopped, 4 teaspoons
lemon zest, freshly grated, 2 teaspoons
fine sea salt 1/2 teaspoon
plain flour 260g / 2 cups

For the topping

granulated sugar 50g / 1/4 cup
fresh rosemary, finely chopped, 1/2 teaspoon
lemon zest, freshly grated, 2 teaspoons

In a large bowl, beat the butter, marzipan, sugar, rosemary, lemon zest and salt with an electric mixer until well combined and creamy. Add the flour and mix with the dough hooks of an electric mixer until combined. Divide the dough in half and scrape each half onto a large piece of cling film. Form a 4cm / 1 1/2″ thick log with your hands, wrap tightly in cling film and freeze for about 15 minutes or until the dough is hard enough to cut with a knife.

Set the oven to 190°C / 375°F (preferably convection setting). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the ingredients for the topping and spread them on a kitchen counter. When the dough is hard, take it out of the freezer, unwrap and roll it in the lemon rosemary sugar until evenly coated. Cut both rolls into slices, a bit less than 1/2cm / 1/4″ thick, and spread the cookies on the lined baking sheets. Bake the cookies for about 8-9 minutes (slightly longer using conventional setting) or until golden. Let them cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before you transfer them onto a cooling rack.

When the cookies are completely cool, you can store them in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Rosemary & Lemon Heidesand Cookies


Rosemary & Lemon Heidesand Cookies


Rosemary & Lemon Heidesand Cookies





meet in your kitchen | Scones & Tea Time at Brown’s Hotel in London

Scones & Tea Time at London's Brown's Hotel

As soon as the charming doorman George opened the wooden framed glass door of the elegant Brown’s Hotel in the heart of Mayfair, I found myself in another world – in old Britain. Brown’s is London’s oldest hotel, it was opened in 1837 by James Brown and his wife Sarah. It was here that the first UK telephone call was made by Alexander Graham Bell, President Roosevelt enjoyed the house’s quiet luxury during his honeymoon, and it inspired Agatha Christie and Rudyard Kipling to many of their novels. With no doubt, this house has a glamorous history.

I celebrate my own little tea time at home every day, but for quite a while I’ve been in the mood for the complete English ceremony in all its extravagance at a traditional hotel in London. The stunning English Tea Room at Brown’s Hotel  – renowned and awarded for serving one of the best tea ceremonies in the city – seemed like the perfect choice and I happily accepted an invitation by the hotel. It was an unforgettable Afternoon Tea of almost Roman proportions. Sophie and her fantastic team at the hotel treated me heavenly from the moment I set foot on the hotel’s beautiful black and white mosaic floors.

Scones & Tea Time at London's Brown's Hotel

While I sat at a long table, decadently filled with delicate pastries, scrumptious scones with clotted cream and jam, delicious sandwiches, Christmas fruit cake and calamansi chocolate yule log, I got the chance to chat with Lee Kebble, the hotel’s Executive Chef, and Thomas Coly, the French Pastry Chef and the master of one of the best scones I’ve ever eaten in my life. Thomas Coly stole my heart with an outstanding Mandarin Chestnut Tart and a fine composition of blood orange and saffron – and of course, with his French charm. He learnt under the guidance of Alain Ducasse and praises his strict regiment in the kitchen. Thomas follows his patron’s culinary philosophy: Respect the produce and focus on just a few dominant flavours, three at most. If you work with a ripe peach in the kitchen for a composition, you should be able to see a peach in your mind’s eye with your first bite. The French chef misses his family in Toulouse but he loves the diversity of food in London where the culinary landscape is influenced by so many cultures from all over the world. He sees his role as a chef as that of an ambassador, to present his guests with the best produce, transformed into delicious dishes in his own style. Very British but with French finesse, like his scone recipe which Thomas graciously offered to share with us.

My splendid tea ceremony started with an introduction to the tea room’s selection of 17 teas by a tea sommelier who helped me with my choice: the fine Jing’s Gong Fu Tea. I also tried a few nibbles from the Tea-Tox, the healthy sister of the traditional afternoon treat, and although I don’t mind dairy and sugar in my own diet, I enjoyed these treats just as much. But in the end, Thomas and I agreed that butter, eggs and sugar cause too much fun in the kitchen to cut them out of our lives.

Scones & Tea Time at London's Brown's Hotel

When Lee Kebble came into the room I was more than impressed by his calm and kind nature, he seems like a rock in the kitchen. Leading a brigade of 24, he takes care of the famous HIX Mayfair restaurant, The English Tea Room, The Donovan Bar, private events and in room dining at the hotel, and despite all my expectations, he doesn’t come across as a man who needs to raise his voice. He spreads an aura of confidence and competence, which is easy to trust. Lee’s love for food started early, at the age of ten, when he used to meet with a friend on Sundays at one of their houses to cook extravagant meals – such as Coq au Vin – for their parents, with recipes from their personal bible – the Hamlyn cookbook. His own kids seem to follow his passion, they already love their family tradition of baking pancakes or waffles with their dad on Saturdays, or preparing pizza, bread or homemade pasta together. Lee learnt in the kitchen of the award-winning chef Anton Edelmann at The Savoy who had as much of a strong influence on his cooking as Mark Hix. He says he was thrilled by the vibrance of restaurant kitchens since he first stepped in at the age of 16. Mark Hix introduced Lee and his team to a special tradition that is held in the kitchen every two weeks: His suppliers fill a huge table with the best seasonal produce and Mark himself cooks and experiments with it all morning. He then invites the chefs from all his restaurants to compete with him in a 20-minute-cooking challenge. This way, they develop new recipes, learn from each other and evolve their skills. When I asked what happens to the unlucky ones who have a bad day or can’t work under this kind of pressure, Lee gave a very British answer: “Their food will go to the staff’s table, and that’s also where they’ll have to sit”, and laughed. I love the British!

The five-star Brown’s Hotel is one of ten Rocco Forte luxury hotels, and a stay in this house located at one of the city’s most prestigious addresses is one of those special treats that you should allow yourself once in a while, even if it’s just for one night. It’s the kind of luxury that puts your mind at ease and let’s you relax immediately. The hotel’s wonderful team does an excellent job of fulfilling all your wishes – even the ones you weren’t aware of.

Thank you Sophie, Lee, Thomas, and the rest of the Rocco Forte family!

Scones & Tea Time at London's Brown's Hotel

Brown’s Hotel Scones

Mind that the dough for the Brown’s scones has to rest twice,  for 4 hours, before you can bake the scones in the oven.

For about 12 scones

plain flour 500g / 3 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons
fine sea salt 1/2 teaspoon
baking powder 1 tablespoon
granulated sugar 100g / 1/2 cup
butter, cold, diced, 100g / 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons
whole milk 250ml / 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon
sultanas (optional) 60g / 2 ounces
eggs, beaten, 2, for the egg wash

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar, and beat in the butter with the dough hooks of an electric mixer or rub it in with your fingers. Gently mix until just combined.

Slowly pour in the milk and mix with the dough hooks of an electric mixer, mix in the sultanas (optional) before the milk is completely mixed into the dough. Leave the dough to rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roll the dough on a floured surface to a thickness of 2 1/2 cm / 1″. Flip the dough upside down and cut the scones with a round 4cm / 1 1/2″ cutter. Transfer the scones to the lined baking sheet, leaving space in between for the scones to rise. Brush the top of the scones with half the egg wash and leave to rest for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 390°F.

Brush the top of the scones with the remaining egg wash and leave to rest for 5 minutes.

Bake the scones for about 8 minutes, then turn the tray and add another 6 minutes, or until golden brown. Enjoy warm.

Scones & Tea Time at London's Brown's Hotel

Lee, you’ve been working with renowned chefs since the beginning of your career, first under the guidance of Anton Edelmann at The Savoy and now with Mark Hix at Brown’s Hotel as the hotel’s Executive Chef. What are the most important lessons you’ve learnt from these two mentors?

Firstly, with Anton Edelmann I developed a passion for food that wasn’t very prominent as I embarked on my career. At 16 I had no idea of what to expect, but was very quickly wrapped up in the atmosphere of The Savoy Hotel kitchens and especially in the presence of Anton Edelmann himself. Under his guidance I learnt and perfected classic culinary skills, but most importantly the respect for ingredients in their storage, preparation and cooking. This philosophy and care will never leave me.

Working with Mark Hix has had a major impact on my career. The philosophy of food has a massive impact on the way I cook. Also working with Mark and his team has taught me a lot about organisation and developed me in areas that are generally not taught in other kitchens. The structure and organisational systems that are in place have helped me tremendously over the last 8 years. Mark has a different view of what is happening in every situation and it has been amazing watching and learning the thought processes he uses.

Thomas, being the Head Pastry Chef, you’re also responsible for the sweet treats for one of London’s most famous Afternoon Teas at The English Tea Room. What’s so fascinating about this old English tradition? 

The Afternoon Tea is the showcase of an English tradition and is an institution, which is being realised with different interpretations. The concept of Afternoon Tea is fascinating, you can spend time as a couple, with family or on business, by being relaxed. I am personally proud to represent this tradition.

What are the main differences between working in the kitchen of a hotel or a restaurant?

Lee Kebble: Working in a hotel is an ever changing environment. There needs to be control over every outlet, at all times. The structuring of this is very important to ensure consistency over every area. That’s where the fun is in hotels though. No two days are ever the same, there’s always a request, a bespoke event, an afternoon tea promotion to look after.

I think that in a restaurant you have what’s in front of you and the focus can be very clear, on the opposite hand in a hotel you have many angles to channel that focus.

Thomas Coly: Everything, the organisation, the quantity of production and the flexibility.

What do you love about the British cuisine, sweet and savoury?

Lee Kebble: I love the energy in British cuisine now, the demand chefs are putting onto UK suppliers to source and grow produce that has previously been ignored and left for our friends all over the world. The whole style is taking on a new approach and shedding the heavy, stodgy image of the past and pushing the boundaries with fresh, light and modern techniques using new ingredients. This really applies to sweet and savoury. I like the foraged and wild ingredients popping up, for example sea buckthorn which has allowed us to have desserts that mirror passion fruit and citrus flavours.

Thomas Coly: I’m French and like most French people I used to have a bad vision of the British cuisine, but I discovered, in England, we have excellent products.

How important is seasonal and local produce for your creations?

Lee Kebble: Our philosophy is all about seasonal and local produce. At HIX Mayfair we only use British produce. Elsewhere we use a more international array of ingredients but still keeping to the seasonal core values.

Thomas Coly: It’s very important, seasonal first and foremost, to make use of the products at their peak, when the quality is best, and local because we are the ambassadors of British food and it’s our duty to represent and show all the local products to ours guests.

How do you develop new recipes? Where do you find inspiration?

Lee Kebble: Our suppliers are the true inspiration for our recipes and ideas. It all starts with them and we take their ingredients or products to where we want. They provide the sparks that create menus, keeping us at the forefront of seasonal changes and new / un-used products.

Then secondly, the Hix team provides a huge and important part of generating ideas and working on new recipes. We have a bi-weekly challenge where we all cook for 20 minutes as many new and experimental dishes as possible, alongside Mark Hix. From here menus can be written, dishes tried and developed for later dates.

Thomas Coly: I start with the season first, the combination of flavours and then the textures. I find inspiration everywhere – in my experiences, my childhood, memories, travels …

Who has been your biggest inspiration in the kitchen? Who or what inspired you to start a career in food?

Lee Kebble: My family, no one in particular but all were equally supportive when I decided to take on a profession that was unknown and unheard of in past generations.

Once I was in the kitchen it was Anton Edelmann and the Savoy kitchens that stoked the fire for me. I always remember my first week. I watched the sauciers working away in awe and knew I wanted to be like that.

Thomas Coly: My biggest inspiration in the kitchen was Alain Ducasse and his chefs with whom I learnt respect and sensitivity towards the product. I think it was my nanny when I was a kid who used to cook everything fresh, I still remember her making jam in the morning during my breakfast.

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

Lee Kebble: Coq au vin from the Hamlyn cookbook. Each week when I was around 10, a friend and I would go to each other’s houses and cook for our parents. The Hamlyn cookbook was our bible and we tried many of the recipes.

Thomas Coly: The first dish I cooked was an omelette with my dad. My first cooking memory is when my mother baked a tart on a Sunday afternoon, it was amazing.

What advice would you give someone who wants to become a chef?

Lee Kebble: Be prepared for hard but extremely rewarding work. Adopt a can do attitude. Work with a smile because if you love your job you will never do a day’s work in your life.

Thomas Coly: My advice for those who want to become a chef is to have a passion above everything as it’s a very hard job and without the passion you can’t do this for sure.

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

Lee Kebble: I have always had a soft spot for Borough market and often go picking up goodies to cook for friends and family. Here, there is a real array of producers and treats to feast on.

Other than that, I enjoy many varieties of restaurants. I like fresh and exciting flavours.

Thomas Coly: I love Borough market, under the train station, and all different types of food. I love London for its diversity of restaurants, you can eat Chinese, English, Italian, French, Peruvian, Polish…

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

Lee Kebble: My Mum and it would have to be Christmas dinner! She makes the best!

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

Lee Kebble: Lots of salads, probably homemade breads. I cook in the garden for most of the year so something from the BBQ is always on the go.

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

Lee Kebble: There’s a family lemon cheesecake recipe that was always the winner when I was younger, only ever for special occasions.

Nowadays just simple seasonal fruits at their prime. You really can’t go wrong when at their peak.

At home, do you prefer to cook on your own or together with others?

Lee Kebble: I always involve my children as much as I can with cooking. I try to teach them to make pizza and homemade pasta. We bake a lot of fresh bread at home and it’s good to do this together.

Which meals do you prefer when you cook privately, improvised or planned?

Lee Kebble: There is fun in all aspects here. Sometimes the best meals are created with minimal ingredients at short notice.

On the other hand there is such a reward in planning and executing a meal that has been carefully created.

Which meal would you never cook again?

Lee Kebble: Anything with tripe, sorry it’s just not for me.

Thank you Lee and Thomas!

Scones & Tea Time at London's Brown's Hotel


Scones & Tea Time at London's Brown's Hotel


Scones & Tea Time at London's Brown's Hotel


Scones & Tea Time at London's Brown's Hotel


Scones & Tea Time at London's Brown's Hotel

Kidney Bean, Cumin, and Beef Polpette with Torta al Testo

Kidney Bean, Cumin, and Beef Polpetti with Torta al Testo

I decided to fly to London for one day to meet a girl for a kitchen feature whose work I’ve been following for quite a while: Claire Ptak of the acclaimed Violet bakery. But then I started thinking about all the other inspiring people I know who also live there, so I felt tempted to meet a few more people for even more meet in your kitchen features. In the end, I met 1 baker from California, 2 kitchen chefs at the Brown’s Hotel, 1 Vogue journalist, 2 bloggers, a friend from the fashion industry plus my publisher’s team in London – all in 3 days. Now I’m back home, a little tired, but with fantastic, new kitchen features in my pocket and I can’t wait to share them with you over the next few weeks.

There was a lot to organize before my departure to make my tight schedule work, so I couldn’t spend much time on cooking, which my boyfriend happily used to take over our kitchen for a few days. One of his delicious and experimental creations was cumin polpette in a fruity tomato sauce. He used mashed kidney beans for the beef mixture, instead of the usual breadcrumbs and eggs, and kept some of the purple beans whole for the sauce. The texture of the floury legumes is perfect to loosen up the minced meat, the result is simply delicious. It was so good that we had it twice in a week, the second time with torta al testo on the side, Umbrian flatbread cooked in a cast iron pan, to stuff with the juicy cumin bean polpette and the aromatic red sauce.

Kidney Bean, Cumin, and Beef Polpetti with Torta al Testo


Kidney Bean, Cumin, and Beef Polpetti with Torta al Testo

Kidney Bean, Cumin, and Beef Polpette with Torta al Testo

You can find my torta al testo recipe here or you can serve the polpette with any other flatbread or ciabatta. If you want to make your own torta al testo, mind that the yeast dough has to rise twice. Once it’s well risen, the bread only needs to cook for about 3 minutes in a hot pan.

Serves 2

minced beef 400g / 14 ounces
kidney beans (tinned), rinsed and drained, 250g / 9 ounces
medium red onion, finely chopped, 1
garlic, crushed, 2 large cloves
medium fresh red chili, cut into tiny cubes, 1
fresh coriander leaves 2 large handfuls
ground cumin
fine sea salt
ground pepper
olive oil
tomatoes (tinned), 400g / 14 ounces
pinch of sugar

Using your hands or the dough hooks of an electric mixer, mix the minced meat with a handful of the beans (squeezed until mushy), 3/4 of the onion, garlic, 1/4 of the chili, a large handful of coriander leaves (not chopped), 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt and a generous amount of ground pepper in a large bowl until well combined. Wet your hands and form 4cm / 1 1/2″ meatballs, transfer the polpette to a plate.

Chop a small handful of the remaining coriander leaves and set a few whole leaves for the topping aside.

Heat a generous splash of olive oil in a large, heavy pan and cook the polpette with the remaining onions on medium-high heat for a few minutes until just light brown on all sides. Take out the meatballs and add the remaining beans (whole) to the hot pan, cook for 1 minute on high heat, stirring constantly. Add the tomatoes, chopped coriander leaves, 1/4 teaspoon of cumin, sugar, salt, pepper and 1/4 of the chili. Chop the tomatoes finely and transfer the polpette back to the pan. Stir gently, close with a lid and simmer for about 3 minutes on medium-low heat.

Season the sauce to taste and sprinkle with the remaining coriander leaves and chili. Serve the meatballs with torta al testo (or flatbread) on the side or inside the bread.

Kidney Bean, Cumin, and Beef Polpetti with Torta al Testo


Kidney Bean, Cumin, and Beef Polpetti with Torta al Testo





Two years of eat in my kitchen and a fantastic Chestnut and Apple Pie

Chestnut and Apple Pie

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.


Chestnut and Apple Pie

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


Chestnut and Apple Pie

Chestnut and Apple Pie

Serves 6-8

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 linkWhisk 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.

Chestnut and Apple Pie


Chestnut and Apple Pie


Chestnut and Apple Pie


Chestnut and Apple Pie


Chestnut and Apple Pie



Spicy Harissa Lentils with Lemon Tahini and Sweet Onions

Spicy Red Lentils with Tahini and Harissa

A friend of ours gave us a large bottle of tahini which he brought back to Berlin from his latest trip to Israel. Guy knows how much we love this oily sesame paste and it wasn’t the first time that he brought some for us from one of his trips to the Middle East. This time, he announced solemnly that this Blue Dove Tahina is the best tahini ever. Unfortunately, I can’t read anything that’s written on it, apart from Quality Since 1921, the rest is in Arabic and Hebrew, but Guy told me that it’s not actually from Israel but from Palestine. If only people could forget about borders as easily as food does when it travels.

So, our special Tahina deserved some special recipes. Hummus came first, enjoyed only with some soft chunks of a white loaf of bread dipped into the velvety creaminess. We sprinkled a few pieces of the bread with the pure tahini paste and agreed that it’s so good that it doesn’t really need any addition, pure on bread – that’s perfection! However I couldn’t stop myself from coming up with another delicious way of making use of it: I whisked together a thick, oily sauce made of tahini, garlic roasted in olive oil and lemon juice – it’s divine. Then, I cooked red lentils in my  homemade vegetable broth and mixed it with spicy harissa, I drizzled the tahini sauce all over it and finished it off with onions, cooked until they were juicy, golden brown and almost as sweet as candy.

This recipe has been featured by Food52!

Spicy Red Lentils with Tahini and Harissa


Spicy Red Lentils with Tahini and Harissa

Spicy Harissa Lentils with Tahini and Sweet Onions

Serves 2

For the lentils

red lentils 200g / 7 ounces
vegetable broth (unsalted) 1/2l / 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon
fine sea salt
ground pepper
olive oil 1 tablespoon

For the topping

olive oil
onions, cut in half and thinly sliced, 2
a pinch of sugar
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar
fresh parsley leaves 12

For the tahini sauce

olive oil 3 tablespoons
garlic, cut into tiny cubes, 2 large clove
tahini 1 1/2 tablespoons
freshly squeezed lemon juice 1-2 teaspoon
a pinch of fine sea salt

In a large heavy pan, bring the lentils and broth to a boil and simmer on medium heat for about 8 minutes or until the lentils are al dente. Stir in 1 teaspoon of harissa and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, season with salt and pepper.

While the lentils are cooking, heat a splash of olive oil in a heavy pan and cook the onions on medium heat for a few minutes until golden brown and soft, stir in a pinch of sugar.

For the tahini sauce, heat the olive oil and garlic in a small saucepan and cook on medium heat for about 1 minute or until the garlic is golden but not dark. Take the saucepan off the heat and pour the garlic oil into a bowl. Whisk in the tahini, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and salt, season to taste.

Divide the lentils between plates, sprinkle with the tahini sauce, a little more harissa (optional), crushed pepper and parsley. Enjoy!

Spicy Red Lentils with Tahini and Harissa


Spicy Red Lentils with Tahini and Harissa



Ginger Spice Cookies with Cinnamon Oat Crunch & Paris on my mind

Ginger Spice Cookies with Cinnamon Oat Crunch

We are all one, we may all be different, unique individuals, but still, we are all one.

We were out at a concert and got home late on Friday night, we saw the news on TV and were shocked. Paris had been attacked, but not only this city, everybody who believes in freedom, tolerance and compassion was attacked that night. This wasn’t against a state or against a religious group, it was an attack against individual lives, to make us feel scared, to spread hatred and fear amongst each other, everywhere in the world. We felt shaken on Saturday, we were sad and confused, not knowing where all this would lead to. Why does humankind have to be like this, why can’t we learn from our history? We know all this violence won’t lead anywhere, it will only spread the seeds for even more pain and suffering, and if we continue following this sickening road, nothing will ever change.

Yesterday, we were invited to dinner, to my aunt and uncle’s traditional St. Martin’s celebration feast. We took our bikes and rode through the city, down the Unter den Linden boulevard until we got to the Brandenburg Gate at the Pariser Platz, lit up in blue, white and red, in the colours of le tricolore. We wanted to pass the French embassy which is right there but we couldn’t, we had to stop and get off our bikes, to take a minute for ourselves. Hundreds of candles, flowers and letters all over the pavement, people standing and sitting on the floor, in silence. We didn’t know each other but it’s easier to stand the pain when you can share it. We looked into each other’s eyes, coming from different countries, not sharing the same language, lives and beliefs, but this doesn’t matter, in this moment we all cried and were one.

Later on, when we sat at the dining table together with our family and friends after enjoying a wonderful meal cooked by my aunt Ursula and my uncle Uwe, I felt a little more peaceful again – and safe. We discussed and shared our opinions, some of them were close, others were further apart, but still, we sat at the table together, looked into each other’s eyes and used words to express our feelings, worries and beliefs. Eight individual people, with individual opinions, knowing that we can’t escape the fact that we are all different yet still one.

When we rode home, we stopped in front of the French embassy again and I read a handwritten note – Nous sommes unis. This gives me hope.

There was a lot of silence in the past couple days, we were speechless, no words to express what we felt but it wasn’t necessary either. My boyfriend and I felt the need to sit down together more often than usual, we drank tea and ate cookies. My ginger cookies were made for happier times, but still, they made us feel good, warm and cozy, exactly what we needed.

Ginger Spice Cookies with Cinnamon Oat Crunch


Ginger Spice Cookies with Cinnamon Oat Crunch

Ginger Spice Cookies with Cinnamon Oat Crunch

Makes about 20 cookies

For the cookie dough

plain flour 355g / 2 3/4 cups
baking soda 1 teaspoon
fine sea salt 1/2 teaspoon
cloves, ground in a mortar, 1 teaspoon
ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon
allspice, ground in a mortar, 1/8 teaspoon
butter, soft, 130g / 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon
granulated sugar 175g / 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
fresh ginger, grated, 1 1/2 tablespoons
cane syrup or molasses 80g / 4 tablespoons
honey 60g / 3 tablespoons
organic egg 1

For the oat crunch

rolled oats 90g / 1 cup
butter, soft, cut into small pieces, 60g / 4 tablespoons
granulated sugar 100g / 1/2 cup
ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon

For the cookie dough, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, cinnamon, and all spice in a large bowl.

In a second large bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and ginger with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the syrup, honey, and egg and mix well. Add the flour mixture to the bowl and mix with the dough hooks of an electric mixer until just combined. Scrape the dough together, leave it in the bowl, and put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (an hour would be even better).

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 355°F (preferably convection setting). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

For the oat crunch, mix the oats, butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl and mix with the dough hooks of an electric mixer until crumbly.

Form a spoonful of the cookie dough into a 4-cm / 1 1/2-inch ball. Continue with the remaining dough and spread the balls on the lined baking sheets, leaving enough space, about 5-cm / 2-inch, in between them, they will rise. Lightly flatten the balls with the bottom of a small espresso cup (dip the bottom in water before you touch the dough) and scoop a generous amount of oat crunch on top (see the picture below). Bake in the oven for about 13-15 minutes, the tops of the cookies should be slightly soft when you touch them, don’t overcook them or they will get hard. Let them cool completely.

You can store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Ginger Spice Cookies with Cinnamon Oat Crunch


Ginger Spice Cookies with Cinnamon Oat Crunch


Ginger Spice Cookies with Cinnamon Oat Crunch


Ginger Spice Cookies with Cinnamon Oat Crunch





Saffron & Mussel Tomato Soup

Saffron & Mussel Tomato Soup

It’s getting colder here in Berlin, all of the trees in front of our windows are finally naked, their last colourful leaves swept away in a single stormy night. Before the winds came, the light in our living room was golden and warm, filtered through autumn’s pretty yellow linden leaves. Now that they’re gone, the light is much harder. All of a sudden, the city seems a bit more harsh, which made me long for a cozy soup.

Seafood has been on my mind for weeks, sweet mussels from the North Sea, adding their fine taste to a thick, fruity tomato soup refined with aromatic saffron. It warms the body and caresses the soul, what else could you want on a cold and misty November day? This dish may seem elaborate but that’s not at all the case, it’s a quick one. The fruit’s red juices only cook for a bit longer than 10 minutes and the mussels sink into a fragrant broth of white wine and spices for just 5 minutes. I use the wine, infused with a soft hint of the sea and the noble taste of saffron, to stir into my glowing soup. It’s supposed to serve 3-4, which I still believe is quite realistic, but we loved it so much that we almost emptied the large pot of soup in one go at lunchtime. We were hungry.

Saffron & Mussel Tomato Soup


Saffron & Mussel Tomato Soup

Saffron and Mussel Tomato Soup

Serves 3-4

For the mussels

mussels in shells  1 kg / 2 1/4 pounds
olive oil
medium sized onion, finely chopped, 1
garlic, thinly sliced, 2 large cloves
white wine 200ml / 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
bay leaves 2
saffron threads 1/8 teaspoon / 1g
sea salt 1/2 teaspoon
ground pepper

For the tomato soup

olive oil
tomatoes, finely chopped, 1 kg / 2 1/4 pounds
garlic, thinly sliced, 1 big clove
broth, used to cook the mussels, 400ml / 1 2/3 cups
a pinch of sugar
sea salt
ground pepper

For the topping

fresh parsley, roughly chopped, 4 heaped teaspoons

Rinse and scrub the mussels under cold water and cut off the beard, discard any broken mussels.

For the mussels, heat a splash of olive oil in a large pot and cook the onion and garlic on medium heat for a few minutes or until golden and soft. Add the wine, bay leaves, saffron, salt and pepper, stir and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to low, gently add the mussels to the pot, shake the pot or stir with a slotted ladle and close with a lid. Cook for 5 minutes or until the shells open, shake the pot once or twice while cooking. Take the mussels out with a slotted ladle, discard any mussels that don’t open. Measure 400ml of the mussel broth, together with the onions and the bay leaves, and set aside. Peel the mussels out of their shells, leave about 6-8 inside the shells for the topping of the soup (optional). Set the mussels aside.

Heat a splash of olive oil in a large pot, add the tomatoes and garlic and cook for 4 minutes on medium-high heat (open), stir once in a while. Add the mussel broth with the onions and bay leaves, sugar, salt and pepper and cook for about 7 minutes (open) or until the tomatoes are soft and the soup is thick. Season to taste and, if necessary, chop the tomatoes with a knife if they are too chunky, or purée the soup in a food processor. Stir in the mussel meat, divide the soup between bowls, sprinkle with fresh parsley and pepper and garnish with the mussels in their shells.

Saffron & Mussel Tomato Soup


Saffron & Mussel Tomato Soup




Saffron & Mussel Tomato Soup

Pear & Star Anise Tarte Tatin

Pear & Star Anise Tart Tatin

Ten years ago, on Bonfire Night, I moved to England. I lived in a tiny harbour village called Whitby in the far, far North close to the old city of York. To reach this secluded and picturesque place, you have to drive through the silent moors of North Yorkshire. At one point you will see the river Esk with its pretty swing bridge, and if you follow the water, passing the wooden piers, you’ll end up right in front of the dark, rough waves of the North Sea. If you take a left, you can walk down the endless beach under the cliffs for hours until you reach Sandsend. If you take a right, you’ll get to the Gothic ruins of the Whitby Abbey from the 13th century, high above the East Cliff overlooking the sea. This mystical place inspired Bram Stoker to write his novel Dracula; here , Captain Cook also learned seamanship and this is where I fell in love with England. So it’s a very special place for me, with precious people and memories, and – of course – amazing food experiences. Especially Botham’s, the local bakery, stole my heart and awoke my love for British pastries. Every year in November, I feel a strong pull to go there again, or at least to England. This year, the feeling was particularly strong, but my work on the German translation of my book doesn’t really allow me to travel for long. I needed an excuse. I thought it would be a very nice idea to prepare a few new meet in your kitchen features for the Christmas season, and why not in England? I booked the flights, and although I’ll only be in London for 3 days, I managed to set up 4 kitchen sessions with wonderful people whose work I deeply admire and I can’t wait to turn the oven on together with them.

I still have to wait another 2 weeks and until then, I’ll keep it warm and cozy in my own kitchen. Autumn’s pears meat Christmassy star anise to melt in a golden brown pan of caramelized fruits and spice covered in crisp short crust pastry. Baked in the oven and flipped around, this becomes a Tarte Tatin. It works for a late breakfast, it’s pleasant at teatime and I love to enjoy the last bites at our traditional Sunday pizza night. The recipe is based on my mother’s tart, only the apples gave way for more wintery aromas.

Pear & Star Anise Tart Tatin


Pear & Star Anise Tart Tatin

Pear & Star Anise Tarte Tatin

For this tart you will need a 21cm / 8″ ovenproof Tarte Tatine dish or frying pan.

butter 90g / 3 ounces
granulated sugar 90g / scant 1/2 cup
star anise 2 pieces
large, crisp pears, peeled, cored and quartered, 3

For the shortcrust

plain flour 130g / 1 cup
sugar 1 tablespoon
a pinch of salt
butter, cold, 75g / 3 ounces
egg yolk 1
cold water 1 1/2 tablespoons

For the shortcrust, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter with a knife into the flour until there are only small pieces left. Continue with your fingers and quickly rub the butter into the flour. Add the egg yolk and water, continue mixing with the hooks of your mixer until you have a crumbly mixture. Form a thick disc, wrap in cling film and put in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F.

In a pan or a Tarte Tatin dish, melt the butter and sugar, add the pears and star anise and cook on high heat for about 12 minutes. Turn the fruits a few times and watch them well, they should be golden brown and caramelized. Take the pan off the heat when the pears are done.

Roll out the dough between cling film, big enough to cover the pan. Lay the flat pastry on top of the pears tucking the edges down the sides. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. When the tart is done and the caramel is still liquid, place a large, heat resistant plate on top and flip the pan around carefully. Enjoy warm or cold, pure or with whipped cream.

Pear & Star Anise Tart Tatin


Pear & Star Anise Tart Tatin


Pear & Star Anise Tart Tatin


Pear & Star Anise Tart Tatin




Pear & Star Anise Tart Tatin

Pumpkin Crespelle with Ricotta and Sage

Pumpkin Crespelle

Around Halloween, my boyfriend feels the call of his American roots and carves scary faces in pumpkins. Being a good girlfriend I know my duties, so I went out into the world – or rather my local shop around the corner – to find only the finest examples for him. I brought quite a pretty collection back home and let him do his work but I ended up with far more squash in my kitchen than we needed. We had a vast selection, a few Hokkaidos in different shapes and sizes and butternut, which isn’t really helpful due to its shape but I forgot in my enthusiasm. So it was obvious, pumpkin had to be on the menu!

Thin, golden Italian crespelle have been on my mind for weeks but my inspiration was missing, I had no idea what to fill them with. Halloween’s squash became my muse and here it is: roasted pumpkin cubes paired with a little ricotta, the obligatory creamy Béchamel sauce, Parmesan and crisp, fried sage leaves. It looked and tasted so good that my sister Nina, who’s in Berlin at the moment for a quick visit, almost bit my laptop screen when she saw the pictures. We ate it all, so unfortunately, there was nothing left for her.

Pumpkin Crespelle


Pumpkin Crespelle

Pumpkin Crespelle with Ricotta and Sage

Makes 4 crespelle

For the filling

mixed pumpkin, cut into 1 1/2cm / 1/2″ cubes, 550g / 1 1/4 pounds
(like Hokkaido (with skin), or peeled butternut and musquée de provence)
olive oil
flaky sea salt
butter 2 tablespoons
fresh, large sage leaves 30
fresh ricotta 4 heaped tablespoons
Parmesan, grated, 70g / 2 1/2 ounces
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar

For the Béchamel sauce

milk 600ml / 2 1/2 cups
bay leaf 1
a pinch of nutmeg, freshly grated
fine sea salt
ground pepper
butter 30g / 2 tablespoons
plain flour 30g / 4 tablespoons

For the crespelle

milk 160ml / 2/3 cups
organic eggs 2
plain flour 130g / 1 cup
fine sea salt 1/4 teaspoon
butter, to cook the crespelle

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 390°F (conventional oven) and line a baking dish with baking paper.

Spread the pumpkin in the lined baking dish, coat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle with flaky sea salt and cook in the oven for about 25 minutes or until soft. Take the pumpkin out of the oven and set aside, keep the oven set to 200°C / 390°F.

For the Béchamel sauce, bring the milk with the bay leaf, nutmeg, salt and pepper to the boil, take it off the heat once boiled. In a saucepan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour, let it cook on medium heat for 1 minute. Take off the heat and slowly add the hot milk, whisk until smooth and cook for about 3 minutes on lowest heat until it’s thick and creamy. Discard the bay leaf, season to taste and set the pan aside.

Mix the ingredients for the crespelle with an electric mixer until well combined and let the dough rest for about 5-10 minutes. Heat a little butter in a large, heavy or non-stick pan and cook 4 large, very thin crespelle on medium heat until golden on both sides.

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan on high heat and roast the sage leaves for a few seconds in the sizzling butter until golden and crisp but not dark.

Lay each crespelle flat on a plate, spread with 1/4 of the pumpkin and sprinkle each of them with 2 1/2 tablespoons of Béchamel sauce, 1 heaped tablespoon of ricotta, 3 sage leaves, some Parmesan and crushed pepper. Roll into a tight wrap and place them next to each other in a baking dish. Pour the remaining sauce on top and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown, switch on the grill (broiler) for the last 1-2 minutes.

Pumpkin Crespelle


Pumpkin Crespelle


Pumpkin Crespelle


Pumpkin Crespelle





Espresso Madeira Cake with Caramel Chips

Espresso Madeira Cake with Caramel

Many years ago a woman called Carole Handslip came into my life. It wasn’t really Mrs. Handslip herself, rather her recipes. My aunt Ursula rearranged her vast selection of cookbooks and asked if she could hand down some of her culinary jewels to me. I didn’t have to think twice and was happy to receive a few of her 80’s kitchen classics, which were about tapas and baking, of course, as Ursula is as passionate about it as I am. Carol Handslip’s slightly old-fashioned but nonetheless beautiful Home Baking book was one of them, it’s a great collection of typical British biscuits, scones, teabreads and festive and novelty cakes. I fell in love with it immediately as I thumbed through the pages for the first time.

There’s something very relaxing and nostalgic about these old books. The styling and the choice of recipes is often quite different to today’s aesthetics and culinary trends, it wakes up so many memories and reminds me of many forgotten sweet and savoury treats, it feels like time traveling. These are treasures of the past so I’m always more then excited to spot a fine example at a book store or in my aunt’s kitchen.

One of the first Handslip recipes I tried was a Caramel Chip Gâteau, a quite extravagant and dramatic looking cake. It’s a layered coffee sponge with buttercream filling, golden icing and tiny caramel chips on top. It’s a gorgeous creation and it inspired me to make my own espresso Madeira cake without a filling but with a shiny espresso icing. Carol uses dark coffee for her recipe but I prefer to bake with instant espresso powder, it adds more depth. Although I’m not the biggest fan of caramel candy, to me it just tastes sweet and sticks to the teeth, the carmel chips on Mrs. Handslip’s creation were visually so captivating that I couldn’t help myself but pick up on her idea. It’s Halloween weekend after all and it fits perfectly.

A few months ago I shared one of Frances Bissell’s recipe with you, her lavender white chocolate caramel cake, she’s also a fantastic British cookbook author. I wrote about her great book, The Floral Baker, and also mentioned her wonderful London publisher, Stephen Hayward of Serif Books. Stephen died of a heart attack last week, which made me very sad. Although we never met in person I enjoyed the email contact we had. My condolences to his family and friends. Rest in peace, Stephen.

Espresso Madeira Cake with Caramel

Espresso Madeira Cake with Caramel Chips

plain flour 220g / 1 2/3 cups
cocoa powder 1 teaspoon
baking powder 1 1/2 teaspoons
instant espresso powder 4 teaspoons
a pinch of salt
butter, at room temperature, 200g / 7 ounces
sugar 200g / 1 cup
organic eggs 3
milk 2 tablespoons

For the espresso icing

icing sugar 100g / 1 cup
instant espresso powder 1 teaspoon
about 5 teaspoons water, boiling

For the caramel chips

sugar 100g / 1/2 cup
vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 180°C /  355°F (convection oven) and butter a 18cm / 7″ springform pan.

Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, espresso powder and salt.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy, add the eggs, one at a time, and mix well in between. Add the dry mixture and the milk and mix until combined. Scrape the dough into the buttered pan, even it out and bake in the oven for 55-60 minutes or until golden and firm on top. Check with a skewer, it should come out clean. Let the cake cool completely before you cover it with the espresso icing.

Whisk the ingredients for the icing until well combined and very thick, add 1 teaspoon of water at a time, and sprinkle or spread over the cake.

Brush a piece of baking paper with a little vegetable oil. Melt the sugar for the caramel chips in a pan until golden brown and pour onto the oiled baking paper, flatten it quickly with a knife. Let it cool completely, break it into pieces and decorate the cake.

Espresso Madeira Cake with Caramel




Espresso Madeira Cake with Caramel




Espresso Madeira Cake with Caramel


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