Around this time last year, I came up with a recipe that took my beloved persimmons and turned them into streusel bars – it was nothing less than divine. I’m a huge fan of this gorgeous fruit, especially when it’s overly ripe, soft as jelly and honey-sweet. To use it in Christmas baking is tricky, as it can easily get lost under spices and butter, it needs a balanced composition that allows its fine fruitiness to shine.
When I last bought a bunch of persimmons from my local vegetable man, I could have just turned them into another batch of streusel bars. But I love creating new traditions and I decided to challenge myself to come up with a new persimmon Christmas cookie recipe every year. So in 2016, I’m celebrating my young tradition with a cookie classic, jam filled thumbprint cookies, called Husarenkrapfen in German. The buttery shortcrust is refined with hazelnuts, cinnamon, and vanilla – at least in my kitchen. The fruity filling in the middle is usually red, made of red currants or raspberries. But as I looked at the orange coloured fruits on my kitchen table, I decided to purée and cook the pulp of a persimmon with a generous amount of vanilla to enhance its flavour. It’s an unfussy jam, a spoonful of honey, just a tablespoon of sugar, and 5 minutes on the heat. Perfect for my slightly nutty Husarenkrapfen.
Happy 2nd Advent!
Persimmon Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies
You can either bake the cookies filled with the jam or bake the plain cookies first and drop a dollop of the jam into the holes once they are cool (which I prefer). It looks prettier and the taste of the fruit is more present.
Makes about 50 cookies
For the dough
plain flour 300g / 2 1/3 cups
ground hazelnuts 100g / 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
baking powder 1/2 teaspoon
ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon
fine sea salt 1/8 teaspoon
butter, soft, 150g / 2/3 cup
granulated sugar 130g / 2/3 cup
vanilla bean, split and scraped, 1/2
organic eggs 2
For the dough, in a large bowl, combine the flour, hazelnuts, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla seeds until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix well in between. Add the flour mixture, change to the hook attachment, and mix until combined. The dough will be quite soft. Scrape onto a long layer of cling film, form a thick disc, wrap it, and put in the freezer for about 25 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350 (preferably convection setting). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
For the jam, purée the persimmon and vanilla seeds in a blender or food processor. Transfer to a small saucepan, stir in the honey and sugar, and bring to the boil. Cook over medium-high heat, it should be bubbling, stirring once in a while, for about 4 minutes or until it starts to thicken. Set aside and let the jam cool.
Cut off a slice off the dough, roll into a sausage shape, and cut off pieces, keep the remaining dough in the fridge. Using your hands, roll the pieces into 3cm / 1 1/4″ balls. Press the end of a wooden spoon into the middle of each ball, pushing almost through to the bottom and leaving only a thin layer at the bottom of the cookie (otherwise the holes might close during baking). Transfer to the lined baking sheets and bake, one sheet after the other, for about 14 minutes or until golden. Let the cookies cool completely, then fill with the persimmon jam and dust with icing sugar.
If you want to store the cookies in a cookie box, I recommend adding the jam filling before serving. They become a bit softer after a day if they are filled and it’s also easier to store them without the filling.
If you decide to make your own homemade pasta, be prepared that you’ll never be able to eat store bought pasta again (you’ll feel less satisfied with it at the very least) – and that you won’t feel your arms and abs for a couple days. To knead the dough by hand is necessary and labor-intensive. I had moments when I felt slight doubts about whether the crumbly mixture in front of me would ever turn into a smooth ball, but it worked. I needed all my patience and muscle power to get there, but the result tasted so good that I’d do it all over again (after my muscles got some rest).
My pasta project started last Friday and ended on Saturday afternoon. I first tried a recipe by Sicilian chef Dario Cammarata who only uses plain flour, durum wheat semolina, salt, egg yolks, and olive oil. The result tasted amazing, but getting there was so much harder than what I remembered from when I visited the chef in his kitchen in Frankfurt earlier this year. What seemed so easy in Darios’s hands, didn’t want to work as smoothly in my own.
Dario taught me that ravioli are best when they are made with egg yolks and not whole eggs. I have no doubt that this is true, the texture is light and perfectly al dente. But to knead my own dough made of 10 egg yolks, flour, and semolina almost made me cry. The mixture was so hard and fragile, I needed an alternative that was less stressful. I still used my egg yolk dough to make a few ravioli, which were perfect, and I made tagliatelle. And these were the best tagliatelle of my life – taste, texture, and thickness were spot on!
Early the next morning I went back to my kitchen. More eggs in the bowl (this time including the egg whites), with a fresh and open mind and a quenchless appetite for fresh pasta, I felt optimistic. Kneading the dough still required some serious muscle power (maybe it’s just me, my arms are not the strongest), but it was manageable. And this time I totally enjoyed pulling the thin layers of fresh pasta through my KitchenAid pasta attachment. I needed about two test sheets, but then I was in business. They were so thin that I could see my hand through them.
For my first homemade ravioli, I chose a filling that still allowed me to enjoy the fine taste of the egg pasta. After all this work it didn’t feel right to knock it out. The combination of preserved artichokes and fresh ricotta refined with a little orange zest was just right, present, but not overpowering. I served it with melted butter and golden artichoke hearts, briefly seared in the sizzling fat. A little crushed pepper and some more orange zest, and my work was done.
My KitchenAid has three pasta attachments and I’m particularly fond of the tagliatelle cutter. Once I was done with the ravioli, all the shorter pieces and leftover dough went through this attachment and they were perfectly cut into the thinest, tastiest pasta. Cook it al dente and add a knob of butter, freshly grated aromatic hard cheese, and black pepper, and you’ll have the best meal ever. Buon appetito!
Artichoke, Ricotta and Orange Ravioli
Homemade ravioli are time and labour-intensive. They are a great starter or main dish for a dinner party, but I recommend preparing them a day in advance to keep it stress free. Freeze them (uncooked) and cook them in boiling salted water just before serving for 4 minutes. I recommend using a pasta machine for this recipe.
Makes 20-24 ravioli / serves 2-4
For the pasta dough
plain flour 150g / 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons
durum wheat semolina 150g / 5 1/4 ounces
fine sea salt 1/4 teaspoon
large organic eggs 3 plus 1 egg yolk
olive oil 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon
water, cold, 1 tablespoon
For the filling
preserved artichoke hearts, drained and squeezed, 160g / 6 ounces
fresh ricotta 125 g/ 4 1/2 ounces
olive oil 1 tablespoon
freshly grated Parmesan 25g / 1 ounce
a pinch of freshly grated orange zest
fine sea salt
butter 4 tablespoons
preserved artichoke hearts, drained and cut into 6 pieces each, 2
black peppercorns, crushed
a little orange zest
For the pasta dough, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough attachment, combine the flour, semolina, and salt. Add the eggs, egg yolk, and olive oil and knead for about 5 minutes (I set it on ‘4’ on my KitchenAid). If it’s too dry, add 1 tablespoon of water, but not more. If it’s too sticky, add a little semolina and flour. On the counter top or on a stable table, using your hands, continue kneading the dough for about 15 minutes until smooth. It will still be firm. I find it easiest to leave it in the shape of a thick disc for the first 5-7 minutes, punching and kneading it, and scraping the crumbs together. Then I knead it and roll it into a ball (see pictures below). Form a ball, wrap it in cling film, and let it rest in the fridge for 1 hour.
For the filling, purée the artichoke hearts, add to a bowl along with the ricotta, olive oil, Parmesan, orange zest, salt, and pepper. Whisk until smooth and adjust seasoning.
Divide the dough into 4-8 portions (depending on the width and power of your pasta machine). Roll out 1 portion with a rolling pin until it’s thin enough to fit into your pasta machine. I started using position ‘1’ on my pasta attachment, using the speed setting ‘2’. Pull the dough through the pasta machine twice, fold it in the middle, flatten it a little with the rolling pin if necessary, turn it 90°, and pull it through the pasta machine. Continue 2-3 times. Change to a thinner setting (I used ‘3’) and pull the dough through the machine about 3 times, without folding it. Using a knife, straighten the sides of your pasta sheet and cut off excess dough. Continue using the thinner settings of your pasta machine until you can see your hand through the dough (I used ‘5’ and then ‘6’ at the end). If the dough is too sticky, use semolina, but no flour.
Sprinkle the rolled out pasta layer with semolina, fold it gently, and cover with cling film. Continue rolling the remaining dough.
Sprinkle a large baking sheet with semolina. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to the boil.
Lay out a layer of pasta and mark it with circles, using a 7cm / 3″ round cutter (or whatever size and shape you prefer). Add a teaspoon of the filling in the middle of each marked circle. Dip your finger in water and wet the rim of the circles. From a second sheet of pasta, cut out circles of the same size, lay on top of the filling, and using your finger, push around the rim (see picture above). Using the cookie cutter, cut out the ravioli and press a little fork all around to seal the rim (see picture below). Transfer the ravioli to the prepared baking sheet.
In batches, cook the ravioli in the simmering water for about 2-3 minutes or until al dente.
To serve the ravioli, in a saucepan, heat the butter over high heat until golden brown, add the artichoke hearts, turn gently, and sauté for 1 minute.
Serve the ravioli sprinkled with the butter, Parmesan, orange zest (optional), and crushed pepper and lay the sautéed artichokes on top.
A few days ago, I walked through a little park that’s close to our apartment. It’s a very quite place, you don’t see many people there. I like to go on my own when I need a break from the world, to feel some fresh air on my skin and think clearly again. That afternoon the air was crisp, the last golden leaves fell off the trees, and a trio of squirrels was busy collecting their nuts. I felt a bit chilly and as I pulled my scarf closer to my neck, I noticed a change, I could smell winter.
Winter brings many changes, I could sleep more, eat more, and bake more. Baking always plays an important role in my life, especially on the weekends, but during the Christmas season I become excessive. There are so many recipes on my list, my classics, but then I also want to try out new creations. The fabulous Baumkuchen has been on my mind since summer, I love this traditional German Christmas cake that’s usually baked on a spit. The name means tree cake, referring to the fact that it looks like the growth rings of a tree. This cake takes time and it’s a bit of work to prepare. First you bake a thin layer of batter for just a few minutes, then you brush on the next layer and continue until you end up with up to 20 layers (mine has 12, that’s more than enough). It’s a hit at Germany’s Christmas markets where you can see it being baked on rotating spits, close to a grill (broiler) or wood fire.
Baumkuchen has always been one of my Christmas favourites, especially to sweeten my teatime in December’s dark and cold afternoons. I usually buy the cake from the store, but then I had an idea. It was in summer. I don’t remember why I gave it a thought in the heat of July (I guess I felt some Christmas longings), but never mind. It dawned on me that I don’t need a spit and wood fire to enjoy this treat, that I could also bake it in a normal cake pan under the grill (broiler) of my oven. Cut into squares, it almost counts as Christmas cookies, but if you prefer, you can cover the whole Christmas beauty in chocolate and serve it as a cake.
My Baumkuchen is moist, refined with cinnamon and orange, with a strong taste of marzipan. If you have a free afternoon, get cozy next to your oven and bake a tree cake. I wish you a peaceful 1st advent!
Makes about 20 Baumkuchen squares
plain flour 60g / 1/2 cup
cornstarch 30g / 1/4 cup
organic eggs, separated, 6
fine sea salt 1/8 teaspoon
marzipan / almond paste, crumbled, 120g / 4 ounces
unsalted butter, soft, 200g / 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon
brandy 2 tablespoons
granulated sugar 200g / 1 cup
vanilla bean, split and scraped, 1
ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon
freshly grated orange zest 1 teaspoon
Turn on the grill (broiler) of your oven or preheat to 220°C / 425°F (this only works if you can set the heat to come just from the top). Butter and line the bottom and sides of a 20cm / 8″ springform pan or a tall 15 x 20cm / 6 x 8″ cake pan with parchment paper.
Sieve together the flour and cornstarch.
Beat the egg whites and salt until stiff.
In a large bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the marzipan, butter, and brandy until creamy. Add the sugar, vanilla seeds, cinnamon, orange zest, and egg yolks and continue mixing for about 3 minutes or until fluffy. Add the flour mixture and, using a wooden spoon, stir until well combined. Gently fold the egg white into the flour-butter mixture until combined.
Add about 3 generous tablespoons of the batter to the lined springform pan, it should only be a thin layer to cover the bottom. Using a wide spatula, spread the batter evenly. Place the springfrom pan in the top third of the oven and bake for about 3-4 minutes or until golden/ light brown, but not dark. Watch well and mind that the batter can burn within seconds. Take the pan out of the oven, add 3 tablespoons of the batter on top of the first baked layer of cake, spread well, and bake for 3-4 minutes or until golden / light brown. Continue the same way until you have used all the batter, you should end up with about 12 layers. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, take it out of the pan, and let it cool completely. Once cool, cut the cake into little squares.
In a small saucepan, heat the chocolate and butter over low heat or in a bain marie. Let it cool for a few minutes before you decorate the cake.
Drizzle the Baumkuchen squares with the chocolate and decorate with a little orange zest.
The sky was refreshingly bright and October’s sun was still hot, it was a glorious Saturday morning when we met our friends at my Maltese mama’s house in Msida. The air was filled with the usual chatting and laughing before we hopped into our cars to drive up to Valletta. We brought along the obligatory guitar and our picnic baskets packed with sandwiches, fruits, and a buttery pear and stilton tart sprinkled with rosemary – a popular recipe from my Eat In My Kitchen book. And off we went to Malta’s capital.
We had planned this day trip weeks in advance: to have a picnic with our friends in Valletta, high up on the bastions opposite The Three Cities, to park Michelangelo’s beautiful Volkswagen beetle in the shade of one of the old olive trees, and set up a little table right next to this blue beauty on four wheels. It was a luscious brunch in the most stunning surroundings and to bake a savoury tart was the best choice for this occasion. You can prepare it in advance, it’s delicious even when it’s cold, and it fits perfectly to a sip of chilled sparkling wine. The topping is minimal, but the combination of baked pear, melted Stilton, and roasted rosemary is so good that it became one of my favourite recipes this year. The creation almost didn’t make it into my book. I had a different tart in mind, but I couldn’t find a certain vegetable on the day of the shoot and I decided that I could also just fill the pastry with fruit, cheese, and herbs. It was a wise choice that I don’t regret.
The choice of our setting was as spectacular as our nibbles. If you ever visit Valletta, you have to go to the St. Barbara Bastion and enjoy the breathtaking view overlooking the Grand Harbour and The Three Cities, Vittoriosa, Cospicua and Senglea. Then walk down to the Valletta Waterfront and take one of the little ferries to Cospicua. It only takes a few minutes and it allows you to enjoy two of the most stunning places in Malta, on land and from the sea: the golden beauty Valletta and the three fortified cities.
Thank you Matt, Michelle, Jessica, Michelangelo, Luke, and Jamie for making this day so special!
2 cups (260 g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (130 g) unsalted butter, cold
1 large egg
For the topping
2 large, firm pears, cut into thin wedges
3 ounces (85 g) aromatic blue cheese, such as Stilton, Roquefort, Fourme d’Ambert or Gorgonzola, crumbled
3 medium sprigs fresh rosemary, needles only
3 tablespoons olive oil
Flaky sea salt
A few black peppercorns, crushed with a mortar and pestle
For the pastry, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and use a knife to cut it into the flour until there are just small pieces left. Quickly rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until combined. Add the egg and mix with the dough hooks of an electric mixer until crumbly. Form the dough into a thick disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and freeze for 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
On a table or countertop, place the dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and use a rolling pin to roll out into a disc, large enough to line the bottom and sides of a 12-inch (30 cm) quiche dish. Fit the dough into the quiche dish, pushing it into the dish, especially along the edges. Let the dough hang over the rim a little or cut it off with a knife. Use a fork to prick the dough all over. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden. If the dough bubbles up, push it down with a fork. (If you blind bake the pastry under parchment paper and dried legumes, remove the paper and legumes after 15 minutes and bake uncovered for a few more minutes until golden.)
Arrange the pear wedges in overlapping circles on top of the warm, pre-baked pastry, sprinkle with the cheese and most of the rosemary, drizzle with the olive oil, and season to taste with flaky sea salt and crushed peppercorns. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the pastry is crisp. Sprinkle with the remaining rosemary and enjoy warm or cold.
A meal at a festive table, in the dimmed light of flickering candles, all our loved ones around us, is always a gift, it’s a feast of love and sharing. These are very precious memories of our lives, we’ll never forget the food we smelled and tasted, the grateful happiness in the eyes of our family and friends, the room filled with music and laughter.
Let’s talk about meat and roast recipes to make our Thanksgiving table complete and accompany my 10 pumpkin recipes that I shared with you a couple days ago. I love my juicy Roast Rosemary Lamb or the tender Thyme and Lemon Ricotta stuffed Pork Roll. You can also find a recipe for a delicious German pork roast with crackling in my cookbook, on page 163. Slow roasted duck, preferably cooked together with fruit, will always find a special place in my heart, the meat is so tasty and tender, the skin crisp, it’s definitely one of my favourites for a special feast at the table.
Besides the classic roasts, there are other scrumptious recipes that I could indulge in with the greatest pleasure, also on Thanksgiving: Coq au Vin, tiny Lamb Chops with Orange and Herb Crust, or Spice Roast Chicken Legs with Butter Beans.
Thanksgiving calls for pumpkin on the table, lots of pumpkin! Since winter squash is so versatile, I wouldn’t mind having a festive meal dedicated to these gorgeous beauties in orange, green, and golden yellow. Nibbles, soup, main, and dessert – I’d be up for a pumpkin celebration.
When it comes to the main course, we have two options, we can either go vegetarian and in this case I strongly recommend the Pumpkin Crespelle with Ricotta and Sage – although the Pumpkin Gnocchi wouldn’t be a bad choice either. However, if you need some meat on your plate, I’ll share my suggestions with you tomorrow. But we can already start thinking about the sides and there’s a universe of options. Gnocchi always work, there’s no doubt that their spongy softness is perfect to soak up the juices of a roast, or you can go for maple orange pumpkin with sage and walnuts from my tartine recipe below (without the bread); pumpkin, stilton, and rosemary is also a very pleasant combination (taken from another sandwich recipe below). Roast it, cook it, sauté the squash – thinly sliced – in a pan (like in the Hokkaido Pumpkin Spaghetti), or bake a soufflé. If you want to keep the crowd entertained while you’re cooking, serve the Pumpkin Pesto, Date, and Chèvre Sandwich and everybody will be happy.
When we left our hotel in New York in the early morning it was still dark and I was too tired to realize that my Eat In My Kitchen book tour would soon come to an end. But after six weeks of being on the road in Europe and the US, I was somehow ready to close one of the most exciting chapters of my life in America’s capital, in Washington D.C.
We celebrated the birth of my first cookbook with true feasts, in Berlin, Malta, London, New York, and Washington and there are no words to describe how I felt during this trip. It made me the happiest and – after a few weeks – the most tired person at the same time. To be able to write and publish a book, to travel and share my thoughts about these pages filled with my recipes makes me very thankful – and humble. I didn’t know what to expect when my book was published on the 4th October, I didn’t know if people would like or reject it. I just tried my best to create a collection of recipes that someone who loves cooking would pick up for inspiration. To see all the love, support, and positive response that this book keeps getting, is more than I ever dreamed of. I met so many incredible food-loving people at all my book launch events, we discussed with each other, we ate and drank Maltese wine together, and we gathered around the table, just like we do in my own kitchen. People keep asking me which event I enjoyed the most, but I can’t even answer this question. Each celebration was unique, each of them was filled with countless magic moments, each event made my heart stop and jump, out of anxiety and pure happiness. Each celebration is a huge gift to my life.
Washington felt a bit like the calm after the storm (please keep in mind that it was the week before the sobering elections!). New York is restless and that’s how we felt, but in D.C. we got treated to the relaxing amenities of the wonderful Kimpton Mason & Rook Hotel and a luxuriously elegant room. We also had more time than expected, so we decided to jump on the hotel’s bikes to ride to the Embassy of Malta in Washington and meet the ambassador, Clive Agius, the generous host of the last Eat In My Kitchen book launch event. It was only a quick visit to the embassy before we drove on – this time in the ambassador’s car – to his private residence where our celebration was going to take place the next day. When I saw his house from afar, I knew that we had yet another unforgettable launch ahead of us.
The ambassador’s house is located in a picturesque residential area a little outside the center. The quiet streets lined with old trees, their leaves painted in gold, orange, and red, it was an Indian summer’s dream, almost too beautiful to be true. The house could have been straight from a fairytale, I couldn’t help but think of Little Red Riding Hood. The coziest cottage, warm and welcoming, just like Mr. Agius’ lovely family who shared their home with us. Mrs. Agius was so kind to let me use her kitchen to prepare the dishes for our big night and Vs Adass, the sweetest man who’s been the residence’s indispensable helping hand for two decades, assisted me. It was the only launch where I cooked and it went more smoothly than expected.
That night we treated ourselves to a scrumptious dinner at Le Diplomate, a relaxed French style Brasserie serving classics of exquisite quality. A glass of Champagne, clams, burger (the best in town), and a nice bottle of wine from Crozes Hermitage made us forget about the struggles that you face once in while when you’re on a book tour. It was heavenly. My culinary highlight was the bread served with our meal. Homemade sourdough bread, baguette, and a fruit and nut loaf that were so good that I ordered a bunch of them for the next day’s book launch.
One of the breakfast treats I enjoyed during my stay in D.C. inspired me to share today’s recipe. It was a wonderfully crumbly, fragrant lemon scone. In my recipe, I replaced the lemon with lime and added vanilla. It’s one of the best scones I ever made, delicious for breakfast and perfectly fitting for my Sunday teatime.
My last book launch event was the most intimate of all of them. We sat at the fireplace, it was warm and cozy, a glass of wine in our hands, and we spoke about food. First, we picked up on our tradition of having a talk between me and my interviewer – my boyfriend took on this role that night – and then we moved on to an open discussion. And Washington, you impressed me, your people like to talk and ask questions! In no other city was I asked so much about my book, but also about food in general, I loved it. Thank you for welcoming us with open arms, thank you for your curiosity!
This night wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of Clive Agius and his lovely wife and daughters. Thank you so much for sharing your home with us and our guests. Thank you Karl Chetcuti and Meridiana Wine Estate for filling our glasses, Marisa Dobson for helping me organize our event, and Corinne Thompson for capturing all the beautiful moments in your pictures.
So, the Eat In My Kitchen book is out and it made it onto several Best Cookbooks of Fall 2016 lists (New York Times, InStyle US,Epicurious), you can see all the reviews here. I’m happy, relieved, and I’ll definitely need some time to process all the excitement that came over my life in the past few months. The best place to do this is my kitchen in Berlin and in Malta. I want to get back to my routine, my normal life. I hope you had fun joining my book tour here on the blog and on Instagram and Facebook. My post-book tour life will bring back recipes and posts from my kitchen, very relaxed, and a slower pace.
Makes 6 scones
plain flour 260g / 2 cups
granulated sugar 2 tablespoons
cream of tartar 2 teaspoons
baking soda 1 teaspoon
fine sea salt 3/4 teaspoon
freshly grated lime zest 1 1/2 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon for the topping
unsalted butter, cold, 60g / 1/4 cup
freshly squeezed lime juice 2 tablespoons
milk a bit less than 120ml / 1/2 cup
vanilla bean, split in half and scraped, 1/2
organic egg, lightly beaten, to glaze, 1
crème fraîche, clotted cream, or butter, for serving
Preheat the oven to 220°C / 425°F (conventional setting) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, and lime zest. Add the butter and use a knife to cut it into the flour until there are just small pieces left. Quickly rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until combined.
Add the lime juice to a measuring cup and fill with milk until it measures 120ml / 1/2 cup. Add the vanilla seeds and whisk quickly. Add to the flour mixture and, using a large spoon, mix until just combined.
Scrape the dough onto a floured kitchen counter, dust your hands with flour, and flatten the dough until it’s about 2 1/2cm / 1″ thick. Using a 6 1/2cm / 2 1/2″ round cookie cutter, cut out 6 scones, reshape the dough for the last 2. Transfer to the lined baking sheet, brush the tops with the egg wash, and bake for about 10 minutes or until golden and risen. Sprinkle with additional lime zest (optional). Enjoy preferably warm with crème fraîche, clotted cream, or butter.
The monotony of clouds and waves kept me in a daze while we crossed the Atlantic, but then, when I finally spotted Nova Scotia from high up in the skies, I was as excited as a little girl. Soon we’d land in New York JFK, to open the last two chapters of my overwhelming Eat In My Kitchen book tour. New York and Washington DC had been on my itinerary for months, but to know that I’d be there in just a few hours gave me shivers.
This trip was emotional, which I got used to after weeks of being on the road in London, Berlin, and Malta, my emotions seem to be tied to a rollercoaster. And now New York, this city filled with so many dreams and visions, vibrant, loud, and bright, it never rests. As we stumbled out of the subway, packed with all our bags and suitcases (I took a few pounds of Maltese sea salt with me), my view was drawn to the sky, along the shiny facades of the city’s famous skyscrapers. Jet lagged, happy, and with an espresso in my hands, I felt breathless as I stood on the vibrant streets of Greenwich Village.
Ten days on the East Coast allowed me to dive deep into this magical city, to meet and get to know so many people and to enjoy some of the most delicious treats. I hadn’t seen my dear friend and editor Holly La Due in more than a year, and to step into her office on Broadway for the first time, to finally meet the entire team of Prestel Publishing that worked on my book, almost made me cry. And we ate – constantly! There was so much to discover, so much to try, it felt like traveling the world through food, but in one city. My palate enjoyed the most amazing Jamaican curry, Cuban stew and pies, Korean BBQ, Indian treats, and American classics. Our breakfasts were luscious, every day: The richest Challah French toast, fluffy blueberry pancakes, huge muffins, crunchy cookies, fudgy brownies, perfect bagels, fine lobster roll, juicy burger, creamy clam chowder, and generously filled sandwiches. New York is heaven on earth if you love food. The quality is outstanding, proven by the fact that we didn’t experience a single bad meal, I can recommend almost every restaurant we went to as you can see in my list below. One of the treats that struck me on our last day was a gorgeous pink doughnut at Bryant Park Holiday Marketfilled with ricotta and covered in sticky beetroot glaze. This combination is so good that I decided to come up with my own recipe and share it with you. My version is a soft and spongy oven-baked yeast doughnut refined with orange zest and sprinkled with pistachios. Next time I’ll fry them in oil, which adds that extra rich flavour plus calories.
There’s no better way to explore a city than on foot, so as we ate our way through Manhattan and Brooklyn, we also got to walk on the elevated High Line, a 1.5 mile long city garden. It’s an impressive green oasis along the closed tracks of the West Side Line. I couldn’t miss Tiffany’s, the melody of the film classic in my head, I pulled my boyfriend into the sparkling shop on Fifth Avenue after we took a little break at Central Park. We managed to see a live performance and also Nan Goldin’s Ballad of Sexual Dependency at MoMA, and a fantastic show at The Met Breuer, by James Kerry Marshall called Mastry. And visiting Kenzi Wilbur at Food52‘s holy test kitchen in Chelsea (picture below) was another highlight. It was quiet when we approached the 9/11 memorial, as I stood there for about 10 minutes, in silence, I noticed how all the sadness and anger I felt turned into peace at one point. It’s a place that reminds us that love is the only way, and not hate.
I came to New York to present the Eat In My Kitchen book, at a wonderful book launch feast at Maman NYC and at a cozy book signing event at the beautiful – and so tempting – Whisk kitchenware shop on Broadway. It’s my first book, and to have had these two unforgettable celebrations in New York makes me feel very humble. I can’t thank everybody enough who’s been involved in both of the events. Maman is a stunning space with high ceilings in TriBeCa, founded by Michelin starred French chef Armand Arnal, Elisa Marshall, and Benjamin Sormonte. They are the sweetest team and they did everything possible to turn our event into a very special night. Chef Hetty McKinnon from Arthur Street Kitchen, and author of the cookbook Neighbourhood, prepared the recipes from my book for this special event. She’s a precious gem, as a chef and as a friend. My trusted partner Meridiana Wine Estate shipped their glorious Maltese wine over the Atlantic just for our event – our American guests are already thinking about how they can get hold of this wine from Malta in the future. Marisa Dobson is the power woman who helped me so much, organizing all my events in the US, and she introduced me to Baked (see the list below). Photographer Maria Midões is the lovely woman who captured the magic of our night at Maman in her gorgeous pictures. I had a dream team in New York, accomplished by the support of my wonderful publisher Prestel and of my boyfriend. He made me enjoy every second of this trip – especially breakfast, lunch, and dinner – at least twice as much. You can’t create a book on your own, but you also can’t send it out into the world on your own. Thank you, my friends!
This trip was all about people and food. We sat at the table with so many inspiring people, publishers, bloggers, food lovers, and journalists, fans of the Eat In My Kitchen blog and book, family and friends. We ate and drank wine, we discussed, laughed, and spoke about food, art, books, and culture; and about politics – it was two weeks before the sobering elections. So this trip had to sides, we felt our excitement, the excitement of two travellers exploring a new terrain, but we could also feel that there was something in the air. The people around us, and even the two of us, were anxious and had premonitions that the future might not bring what we all hoped for, a world without a US president who disrespects people, women and men, who humiliates people because of their sex, religion, skin colour, and culture. Today we know better. I always saw the USA as a vibrant melting pot of cultures, and I admired the country for this reason. To exchange ideas and traditions is fruitful, and not frightening. We are what we are because we evolve, we learn from each other, we need each other to widen our mental horizon. History, especially the not so distant German history, has shown what happens when we build walls, mental and physical walls, when we separate ourselves from the others. I feel pain when I hear the words of the newly elected American president, his words disgust me. But I don’t want to feel scared, I want to believe that deep inside we all know what’s right and wrong. We know compassion, we know that all the hate spread throughout our human history didn’t create anything good, just more destruction. It frustrates me to see that a single small minded, greedy and bitter old man can shake so many people, all over the world. But frustration doesn’t help, that’s democracy and democracy only works when we communicate, so let’s keep the dialogue going.
plain flour 325g / 2 1/2 cups, plus about 2 tablespoons if the dough is too sticky
fast-acting yeast 1 1/4 teaspoons
granulated sugar 50g / 1/4 cup
fine sea salt 1/2 teaspoon
orange zest 1/2 teaspoon
milk, lukewarm, 155ml / 2/3 cup
butter, melted and cooled, 20g / 1 1/2 tablespoons
vanilla bean, scraped, 1/2
organic egg 1
For the filling
fresh ricotta, whipped, 250g / 9 ounces
For the glaze / topping
icing sugar 200g / 2 cups
beetroot juice 4-5 tablespoons
unsalted pistachios, chopped, a small handful
orange zest 1 tablespoon
For the dough, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and orange zest in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Whisk together the milk, butter, vanilla seeds, and egg – the mixture should be lukewarm – and add to the flour mixture. Knead on medium speed for a few minutes until well combined. The dough should be soft and moist, but not sticky. If it’s too sticky, add a little more flour. Transfer the dough to a table or countertop and continue kneading and punching it down with your hands for about 4 minutes or until you have a smooth and elastic ball of dough. Place the dough back in a clean bowl, cover with a tea towel, and let rise in a warm place, or preferably in a 35°C / 100°F warm oven (conventional setting), for about 60 minutes or until almost doubled in size.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
When the dough has almost doubled in size, punch it down, take it out of the bowl, and knead for 1 minute. On a lightly floured countertop, using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it’s about 1cm / 1/2″ thick. Using a 7 1/2cm / 3″ round cookie cutter or glass, gently cut out circles and transfer them to the lined baking sheets. Using a 3 1/2cm / 1 1/2″ cookie cutter or shot glass, stamp out the smaller inner circles and arrange them around the doughnuts on the baking sheet. If you use a smaller cookie cutter for the inner circles, the hole in the middle will close while baking. Cover with cling film and let rise in a warm place for about 25-30 minutes or until puffy.
Preheat the oven to 190°C / 365°F (conventional setting).
Bake the doughnuts and the doughnut holes for about 6-8 minutes or until light golden and still soft. If you’re not sure, take out one doughnut and cut it in half to see if it’s baked through. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Cut the doughnuts in half and spread each bottom with about 1 heaping teaspoon of ricotta.
For the glaze, whisk the icing sugar and beetroot juice until smooth, the mixture should be quite thick. Using a teaspoon, sprinkle the glaze generously over each doughnut and doughnut hole. Immediately sprinkle with pistachios and a little orange zest.
Cool, because I may just have the best cinnamon apple crumble cake in all the land. All you need to decide is whether to eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner? Because really, when is cake not the most perfect thing ever? Truth… it’s always perfect, any time of day! But especially this cake, it’s loaded with apples, is crazy buttery, and topped with the most cinnamony crumble ever.
I’m not sure if you guys know this or not, but it’s officially fall cookbook season, and well… there are just so many great new cookbooks being released! I’m really excited to share this recipe with you today because it comes from Meike Peters’ new cookbook, Eat in My Kitchen.
Ever since embarking on this journey of writing a cookbook, I’ve realized just how much work goes into writing a book. You guys, it’s no joke!! I am currently working through all the edits, and while I am so excited to be getting closer to sharing the book with you all, it’s also crazy scary…and well, my eyes are slightly tired. Basically I am just praying that when the book is released you guys will all love it to pieces! (Tieghan’s first cookbook will be published in 2017)
It’s so awesome that I have the opportunity to help others celebrate their cookbook release by sharing a recipe from their book with you guys! It’s fun for me, and such a great way to let you all in on the books I am loving! SO. Today we are talking about Eat in My Kitchen. Oh man, this book is just packed to the brim with recipes I love, so many great ones and so many that I know you will all love. But when I stumbled on this most perfect cinnamon fruit crumble cake, I knew that this was the recipe I needed to make and share with you all.
Let me just start off by saying that this cake is all kinds of incredible, AND that Meike made it really adaptable to all of the seasons by suggesting three types of fruit you can use – plums, rhubarb or apples. Seeing as I am obsessed with all things fall, and all things honeycrisp apples, I went with apples as my fruit… so, so, so good! What I love most about this cake is that while some fruit cakes can be on the dry side, this cake is anything but. It’s moist, buttery and almost even doughy in the center if you cook it for just under and hour…which I did…and it was perfection.
This cake is somewhat broken up into three layers. The base cake layer, the apple layer and then the crumble layer. All three layers are delicious, but together they truly make for the most perfect cake, and all of that cinnamon sugar crumble atop of those crisp apples… beyond amazing!
This is the perfect cake to serve warm, dusted lightly with powdered sugar. And yes, I do think this cake is acceptable, not only for dessert, but also as a very special (i.e. something to look forward to) breakfast or mid-day snack.
Bottom line: cake like this is great anytime, and since weekdays are usually in need of a little pick me up, you should totally be making this cake after work… It’s the right thing to do – trust me.
Pictures and introduction from Tieghan Gerard, recipe from the Eat In My Kitchen book. Tieghan lives in the mountains, in Colorado, she’s the 22 year old founder of the popular food blog halfbakedharvest.com. Visit her and find lots of inspiration in her huge recipe archive! She’s currently working on her own cookbook, The Harvest Table, which will be published in Fall 2017.
Thank you Tieghan for taking over the Eat In My Kitchen blog for a day!
The Most Perfect Cinnamon Fruit Crumble Cake
from the Eat In My Kitchen book, published by Prestel, October 2016
Serves 8 to 12
For the cake base
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (125 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (125 g) granulated sugar
1/4 vanilla pod, split and scraped
3 large eggs
2 cups (260 g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
Choose one of the fruit fillings
2 1/4 pounds (1 kg) pitted plums, cut in half or 1 3/4 pounds (800 g) trimmed rhubarb, cut into 1 ½-inch (4 cm) pieces or 5 large sour apples, peeled, cut in half, and cored, the outside of each apple half scored lengthwise (5 times) Tieghan chose apples for this recipe, unpeeled and thinly sliced
For the crumble
1 1/2 cups (200 g) all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
2/3 cup (125 g) granulated sugar
1/4 vanilla pod, split and scraped
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (125 g) unsalted butter, melted, plus more as needed
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) (preferably convection setting). Butter a 10-inch (25 ½ cm) springform pan.
For the cake base, in a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla for a few minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, incorporating each egg before adding the next one, and beat for 2 to 3 minutes or until creamy.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the butter-sugar mixture and mix with an electric mixer for 1 minute or until well combined. Scrape the batter into the buttered springform pan and arrange the fruit of your choice on top. Plums and rhubarb work best arranged vertically; apples should be scored side up. Push the fruit gently into the batter.
For the crumbles, whisk together the flour, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the melted butter and use the dough hooks of an electric mixer to mix just until it crumbles. If the crumbles are too moist and sticky, add more flour; if they’re too small and don’t form large crumbles, add more melted butter. Immediately spread over the fruit, using your fingers to separate any large crumbles.
For the topping, in a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the crumbles. Bake for about 50 to 60 minutes (slightly longer if using a conventional oven) or until golden on top. If you insert a skewer in the center, it should come out almost clean. Let the cake cool for at least 15 minutes before taking it out of the pan.
Malta, Berlin, London – three countries in less than 24 hours! The pace of my traveling fit the mood, vibrant and exciting, I didn’t want to rest. I arrived in England at noon, had at a scrumptious lunch at Ottolenghi Spitalfields and a chat with chef Sami Tamimi. To charge my batteries, I finished my meal with a double espresso and a luscious piece of Guinness chocolate cake with Bailey’s frosting. London looked bright and sunny as I stepped out onto the streets and I felt ready for my third book launch event, on the roof terrace of the High Commission of Malta in the English capital.
To make my travels feel even sweeter, I got to stay at the luxuriously relaxing Corinthia Hotel London. Right between St. James’s Park and the Thames, the location couldn’t have been better. I could walk to my event at the Maltese embassy and to my book signing at the Tate bookstore the next day. Before the festivities started, I had enough time to enjoy the amenities and comfort of the house, and especially the most beautiful marble bathroom I ever happened to see. It was marble heaven and I felt like a princess as I dressed up for my big night.
Unfortunately, the pretty lace dress that I had bought for this festive occasion didn’t really fit London’s weather conditions – it was freezing cold as I opened the door to the terrace of the High Commission of Malta. I wrapped myself in a warm coat most of the time, which I only took off quickly for the photographers and an interview. The jump in temperature between summery Malta and England’s rather rough climate was too painful. However, the stunning view over roof tops, church spires, and The London Eye made all of us forget about the weather. We just stood there, high up under the Maltese flag, astonished by London’s beautiful sunset, dramatically framed by the darkest clouds. We were lucky, not a single drop of rain fell onto the delicious looking buffet prepared by Kitty Coles (thank you so much, my dear) or into our glasses, filled with Meridiana‘s finest wines, poured by my book tour mate and Meridiana‘s best man, Karl Chetcuti.
I have to thank a few very special people who made this unforgettable night happen: His Excellency Norman Hamilton, High Commissioner of Malta, Nerissa Sultana, Political and Communications Officer, and their fantastic team at the embassy. Thank you for sharing the High Commission’s roof terrace with us, thank you for all your help and support, for all the time to exchange ideas for this event. Thank you Emma Cook from Prestel for helping me organize this special evening.
The speeches of the High Commissioner and of Andrew Hansen, Managing Director of Prestel Publishing London, both touched my heart, and then it was my turn to welcome our guests. It was too dark and windy to follow our manuscripts, our microphone decided to stop working, but that didn’t do our celebrations any harm. It felt like a scene from Peter Pan, high up over London’s roof tops, the air filled with laughter, glasses filled with good wine, and lots of delicious food on our plates. But unlike the book or movie, we didn’t need our imagination, it was all real.
Before we drove back to the airport, we enjoyed a sandwich that was so good that I decided to re-create it at home and share it with you: spinach and ripe chèvre in carrozza (meaning in a carriage). This sandwich is similar to french toast, however, it’s a savoury treat, lusciously filled and hearty. The combination of winter greens and ripe cheese was fantastic. I have an in carrozza sandwich recipe in my book, which I adore, but there are so many ways to fill two slices of bread!
Thank you London! xx
At the event, I was interviewed by Rita for her Share Food with Sainsbury’s Magazine radio show, you can listen to our chat here. To see all the pictures of the event in London taken by the amazing photographer Agnese Sanvito, click here. And here are the pictures of our book signing tour at Tate, Waterstones, and Foleys.
All the pictures of the launch are by Agnese Sanvito.
Spinach and Chèvre Sandwich
Makes 2 sandwiches
spinach leaves, a large handful, about 140g / 5 ounces
fine sea salt
freshly grated nutmeg
ripe chèvre, about 60g / 2 ounces
organic eggs 2 (mine were quite small)
milk 3 tablespoons
plain flour 2 to 3 tablespoons
soft white bread 4 slices
butter, about 1 tablespoon
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar
In a large pot, bring salted water to the boil and blanch the spinach for 1 minute. Rinse with cold water, drain, and let cool for a few minutes. Using your hands, squeeze out most of the liquid and chop roughly. On a large plate, crumble the spinach and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.
Cut the chèvre into thin slices, leave out 4 slices for the topping, and crumble the remaining cheese over the spinach.
In a shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread the flour on a flat plate.
Divide the spinach-chèvre mixture between 2 slices of bread, leaving a thin border around the edges. Top each with a second slice of bread and press the sandwiches together. Dip both sides of each sandwich in the flour until lightly coated. Carefully dip each sandwich in the egg-milk mixture, repeat until all the liquid is soaked up—mind that the filling stays inside.
In a large, heavy pan, heat the butter over medium heat and cook the sandwiches, turning and pressing down on them gently with a spatula, for a few minutes or until crisp and golden brown. Lay the remaining chèvre slices on top of the warm sandwiches and sprinkle with crushed pepper. Cut the sandwiches in half and serve immediately.