eat in my kitchen

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

Category: BREAKFAST + BRUNCH

Limoncello Panna Cotta

Limoncello Panna Cotta

Some years have the pace and mood of a little stream in the woods, burbling along quietly, without anyone really taking any notice of it. And then there are years that are more like a hungry wave, rolling like thunder and hitting the shore with a crash, ready to pull you off your feet and make you tumble in the most unexpected moments. 2017 had quite a few of these moments, whirling and twirling, they shook the world politically, socially, and environmentally, and also my own world on so many levels. It’s exhausting when the ups and downs wear out the mind and squeeze it like a sponge, but it’s also a challenge that forces us to question and grow in our own existence and that’s its gift. I believe that our human mind needs to leave the known path once in a while, our comfort zone, that can easily become too comfortable and that makes us lazy. The irritating state of mess and confusion can be a great starting point to be brave and dive into the unknown, as much as I hate these moments as it’s scary, I’m thankful, afterwards, when they force me to unfold the old, familiar pleats.

Just over 12 months ago, the Eat In My Kitchen book was sent out into the world and little did I know how much it would change my life and the way it used to be. In April 2017, Andrew Zimmern hung the medal for the  James Beard Award for Best Cookbook in the General Cooking category around my neck, the state of bursting happiness, surprise, and thankfulness that I felt on that magical night in New York lasts until today. The world also revealed some of its culinary tricks and secrets to me as I travelled in America, Asia, and Europe during autumn. I was on the road for a new project and, for once, I let other people cook for me. I was introduced to the wonders of food in some parts of the world where I had never been before. It was pure bliss to experience new tastes and smells, to listen to unknown languages and learn about traditions and rituals that grew over centuries. And to see so many inspiring women in their kitchens, wherever I was, women who strongly believe in a gastronomic concept of respect and togetherness, women who create praised and highly celebrated restaurants, that made me happy and confident that the future will bring more and more of these fantastic female chefs into the spotlight.

In 2017, we all lost and gained, we gave and took, and as long as the exchange feels balanced, it was a good year. Before I pull the plug and go offline for a week, finally after 4 years of constant buzzing, I have one more thing to give to you: the recipe for this joy-bringing limoncello panna cotta. Now you have a sweet recipe at hand, for the moments when life gives you lemons.

Enjoy food, wine, and especially time with the ones you love, have a happy Christmas and a joyful start to an exciting 2018!

Meike xxx

Limoncello Panna Cotta

 

Limoncello Panna Cotta

Limoncello Panna Cotta

Serves 2 to 4

gelatin sheets 2 1/2 (7 x 11-cm / 3 x 4-inch)
heavy cream 240 ml / 1 cup
whole milk 120 ml / 1/2 cup
Limoncello 60ml / 1/4 cup
lemon peel 2 long strips
granulated sugar 2 tablespoons
fine sea salt 1/8 teaspoon
lemon slices, very thinly cut for decoration (optional)
fresh mint leaves for decoration (optional)

Soak the gelatin sheets in cold water for about 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan, bring the cream, milk, Limoncell0, lemon peel, sugar, and salt to the boil. As soon as the mixture is bubbling, take the pan off the heat. Squeeze the excess water from the soaked gelatin sheets, crumble into the warm cream mixture, and whisk thoroughly. Let the mixture cool in the pan, whisking occasionally.

Once the cream mixture is at room temperature—it will still be liquid—divide it between 4 120-ml /4-ounce ramekins. Cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Transfer the ramekins to the freezer and chill for about 35-45 minutes or until set but not frozen. Alternatively, leave the ramekins in the refrigerator for about 3 hours or overnight.

Decorate the panna cotta with lemon slices and mint just before serving.

Limoncello Panna Cotta

 

Limoncello Panna Cotta

 

Limoncello Panna Cotta

 

Limoncello Panna Cotta

 

Limoncello Panna Cotta

23 Recipes for Cozy Christmas Baking

Maltese Christmas Cookies

I’m sitting at our dining table, listening to Jingle Bells, wrapping Christmas presents, and waiting for the snow to fall. It’s the last weekend before Christmas, the last chance to fill the kitchen with the tempting smell of cinnamon, cloves, and citrus fruits, cardamom, chocolate, and candied nuts, so what am I going to bake? I picked 23 recipes from the last four years of cozy Christmas feasting on Eat In My Kitchen and I love each one of them. Just a look at the pictures and my taste buds get excited. I can remember the woody notes of my Rosemary and Lemon Heidesand Cookies, the citrusy-buttery sweetness of my Mediterranean family’s Maltese Lemon Christmas Cookies, the elegance of my mother’s classic, her Linzer Cookies, and of course, my annual highlight, the best Vanilla Kipferl in the world. You can find a variation of this famous German cookie in my Eat In My Kitchen book, wonderfully fragrant Cardamom Kipferl. So, happy baking, treat yourself to a cozy weekend with the ones you love and indulge in the pleasures of Christmas baking!

Click on the titles for the recipes:

Chocolate, Orange and Cardamom Stollen

Chocolate, Orange and Cardamom Stollen

Rosemary and Lemon Heidesand Cookies

Rosemary and Lemon Heidesand Cookies

Ginger Chili Double Chocolate Cookies

Ginger Chili Double Chocolate Cookies

Christmas Chocolate Panettone

Chocolate Panettone

Espresso Meringue Cookies with Spiced Chocolate Ganache

Espresso Meringue Cookies with Spiced Chocolate Ganache

Maltese Lemon Christmas Cookies

Maltese Lemon Cookies

German Elisenlebkuchen

Lebkuchen

Ginger Spice Cookies with Cinnamon Oat Crunch

Ginger Spice Cookies with Cinnamon Oat Crunch

Persimmon Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies

Persimmon Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies

Bittersweet Chocolate Spice Cookies

Chocolate Spice Cookies

Claire Ptak’s Pecan Caramel Sandwich Cookies

Caramel Sandwich Cookies

Mulled Wine Pretzel Cookies

Mulled Wine Pretzel Cookies

Linzer Cookies

Sandwich Cookies

German Chocolate Baumkuchen

Chocolate Baumkuchen

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Gianduja Chocolate Cookies

Gianduja Chocolate Cookies

Maltese Essijiet Vermouth Cookies

Essijiet Cookies

Strawberry Pistachio Cookies with Oats and White Chocolate

Strawberry Oat Pistachio Cookies with White Chocolate

Espresso Chocolate Biscotti

Espresso Chocolate Biscotti

 

Dark Chocolate and Apricot Sandwich Cookies

Chocolate Cookies

Vanilla Kipferl

Vanilla Kipferl

Red Currant and Oat Cookies

Redcurrant and Oat Cookies

Buttery Blue Cheese Crackers

Buttery Blue Cheese Cookies

 

Rosemary and Lemon Heidesand Cookies

Chocolate, Orange and Cardamom Stollen

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My granny Lisa was loved and adored for many of her baked goods. She truly mastered the German Sunday coffee table, filling the house with the sweetest smell of butter, sugar, and eggs every weekend. To please her six children’s cravings, and later a growing pack of grandchildren, she sometimes baked seven different cakes in one day. Sponge and fruit cakes, cream tarts and crumbles were often lined up on her kitchen counter and doubtlessly influenced my own baking habits. Her Donauwelle – a marbled cake with cherries and buttercream – will always be my favourite. It’s the taste of my childhood – and the beginning of my ever hungry sweet tooth.

Six to eight weeks before Christmas, Lisa used to take orders from friends and family for another one of her celebrated classics: stollen. It’s a German staple that you can find at every bakery, in every household as soon as the Christmas lights leave the boxes to twinkle behind wintery windows. The original stollen is quite a dense treat, it’s a heavy yeast dough, the texture is crumbly like a fruit bread, but it has richness and depth. Raisins, candied orange and lemon peel infuse the cake for weeks while it sits wrapped in parchment paper in the darkness of the pantry. The top brushed with warm fat and then generously dusted with icing sugar, preventing it from drying out and giving it its snowy white Christmas look.

You can find various interpretations of the basic formula and fill the cake with marzipan, hazelnut or poppy seed paste to add taste and moistness. Yet, when the European dairy co-operative Arla asked me if I’d like to come up with a new recipe using their Kærgården, I immediately knew which direction I would take. This is the first stollen recipe I ever created and I wanted it to be an aromatic firework of flavours without distracting from the classic’s qualities. I went for bittersweet chocolate chunks, candied orange peel, and a touch of christmassy cardamom and aniseed. I’m more impatient than my granny, so we ate the stollen immediately. There’s only one treat that I manage to wait for and that’s English Christmas pudding. My impatient nature was also quite pleased by the fact that Kærgården can be stirred immediately into the stollen’s puffy yeast dough, it’s soft, even when it comes straight out of the fridge. I never use margarine in my kitchen, just butter, but the Scandinavian product is butter with a splash of rapeseed oil, which makes it wonderfully spreadably and kneadable when it comes to baking Christmas stollen.

Thanks to Kærgården for sponsoring this post, thanks for reminding me of my granny’s kitchen and inspiring me to create my first stollen recipe!

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For the German recipe, scroll down.

Chocolate, Orange and Cardamom Stollen

plain flour 450g / 3 1/2 cups (divided)
granulated sugar 70g / 1/3 cup
ground cardamom 5 teaspoons
aniseed, finely ground in a mortar, 1/4 teaspoon
zest of 1 large orange
fast-acting yeast 2 sachets (7g / 1/4 ounce each)
water, lukewarm, 150ml / 2/3 cup
fine sea salt 1/8 teaspoon
Kærgården unsalted 250g / 9 ounces
candied orange peel (preferably organic) 100g / 4 ounces
almonds, roughly chopped, 150g / 5 ounces
bittersweet chocolate (50%), roughly chopped, 170g / 6 ounces

For the topping

Kærgården unsalted 50g / 2 ounces
icing sugar, sifted, about 4-6 tablespons (to taste)
ground cardamom (optional, to taste)

In the large bowl of a stand mixer, combine 260g /2 cups of the flour, the sugar, cardamom, aniseed, orange zest, and yeast. Add the water and, using the hooks, mix for about 2-3 minutes or until well combined. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let the dough rise in a warm place, or preferably in a 35°C (100°F) warm oven, for 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.

If the dough has almost doubled in size, add the remaining 190g / 1 1/2 cups of flour, the salt, Kærgården, and orange peel and, using the hooks of the stand mixer, mix for about 3 minutes until smooth. Add the almonds and chocolate and continue mixing until well combined. The dough should be soft and shiny, but not sticky. Take the dough out of the bowl and, using your hands, knead for about 1 minute.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Transfer the dough to the lined baking sheet and form a short-ish loaf-shape. Flatten the dough a little, flip one long side over until it reaches the middle, then flip over the other long side (see 6th picture), pushing the layers softly together, but don’t flatten the loaf, it will expand when it’s in the oven! Cover with a tea towel and let rise for about 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 175°C / 350°F.

Bake the stollen for about 45-50 minutes or until the loaf is just baked through.

For the topping, rub the top of the warm stollen with the 50g / 2 ounces of Kærgården and dust immediately with icing sugar. If you’d prefer the cardamom to be more present (I recommend to try the stollen first), combine some icing sugar with additional cardamom (to taste) and dust the top of the stollen.

You can serve the stollen immediately, yet I prefer to eat it when it’s cool and the chocolate isn’t soft anymore. Keep it wrapped in parchment paper and aluminium foil.

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Schokoladen Orange Kardamom Stollen

Mehl 450g (aufgeteilt)
Zucker 70g
gemahlener Kardamom 5 TL
Anissamen, im Mörser fein zermahlen, 1/4 TL
Abrieb von 1 großen Orange
2 Päckchen Trockenhefe (à 7g)
lauwarmes Wasser 150ml
Salz 1 Prise
Kærgården ungesalzen 250g
Orangeat (bevorzugt Bio Qualität) 100g
Mandeln, grob gehackt, 150g
Halbbitter Schokolade (50%), grob gehackt, 170g

Für das Topping

Kærgården ungesalzen 50g
Puderzucker, gesiebt, 4-6 EL
gemahlener Kardamom (optional)

In der großen Schüssel einer Küchenmaschine 260g des Mehls, den Zucker, Kardamom, Anis, Orangenabrieb und Hefe vermischen. Wasser dazu geben und mit den Knethaken etwa 2-3 Minuten kneten, bis der Teig glatt ist. Wenn der Teig zu klebrig ist, etwas mehr Mehl dazugeben. Mit einem Küchentuch bedecken und an einem warmen Ort – oder bevorzugt im 35°C warmen Ofen (Ober-/Unterhitze) – etwa 45 Minuten gehen lassen bis sich das Volumen fast verdoppelt hat.

Die übrigen 190g Mehl, das Salz, Kærgården und Orangeat zum Teig geben und mit den Knethaken etwa 3 Minuten glatt rühren. Mandeln und Schokolade dazugeben und weiter rühren bis alles gut vermengt ist. Der Teig sollte weich und glänzend, aber nicht klebrig sein. Aus der Schüssel nehmen und mit den Händen etwa 1 Minute weiter kneten.

Ein Backblech mit Backpapier auslegen.

Den Teig auf das vorbereitete Backblech geben und einen kurzen Laib formen. Leicht flach drücken und eine Längsseite bis gerade über die Mitte umschlagen, die 2. Längsseite darüber umschlagen (siehe 6. Bild) und vorsichtig andrücken. Den Laib aber nicht flach drücken, er wird sich beim Backen ausdehnen! Den Laib mit einem Küchentuch bedecken und etwa 20 Minuten gehen lassen.

Ofen auf 175° Grad (Ober- und Unterhitze) vorheizen.

Den Stollen etwa 45-50 Minuten backen bis er gerade durch gebacken ist.

Für das Topping die Oberfläche des warmen Stollen mit 50g Kærgården einreiben und sofort mit dem Puderzucker bestreuen. Falls der Kardamom Geschmack etwas präsenter sein soll (ich empfehle den Stollen erst zu probieren), etwas Puderzucker mit Kardamom (nach Geschmack) vermengen und den Stollen damit bestreuen.

Der Stollen kann sofort serviert werden, ich bevorzuge ihn aber, wenn er abgekühlt und die Schokolade nicht mehr flüssig ist. In Pergamentpapier und Alufolie verpackt aufbewahren.

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Molly Yeh’s Chocolate Tahini Cake with Tahini Frosting

Chocolate Tahini Cake

Time can feel like a race, it drags you back, you try to keep up, but there’s no way to stop. My summer flew by and then there was autumn, as quick as a storm that sweeps all the leaves off the trees, within one night they are all gone.

My last post was on August 27th. Since I started these pages, my Eat In My Kitchen blog, I have never ‘abandoned’ it for such a long time. It used to feel weird if I didn’t come back here every day, like in the first year, or at least every few days like I did in the past 3 years. It was my routine that I loved and hated. Sometimes I did feel pressured, just by myself, and the best thing to escape pressure, at least for me, is another project that sucks me in with such intensity that all my brain cells are too busy to think about anything else. I’m involved in a new project at the moment that I’ll only be able to share with you at the beginning of 2018, and this project took me around the world within just a few weeks. I met the most amazing people, I felt hungry and inspired every day, I pushed my borders, which I need to keep my creativity flowing and which I could only do because I had an amazing team around me (thank you my travel buddies, Jamie and Phillip Mall). So far we went to California, Italy, France, and Japan, and there will be more countries to come. It’s quite a journey.

These trips in the past 2 months were one of the reasons why I stayed away from my kitchen, why I didn’t go to the farmers market as often, why I didn’t experiment, fail and succeed at my cooker, but I discovered new worlds and culinary universes that I can’t wait to include in my own cooking – once I’m fully back home and ready to cook.

The second reason I stopped writing, is one that hit me deeper, right into my head, my heart, and my bones. On October 16th, Daphne Caruana Galizia was brutally killed in Malta. She was the most wonderful woman, the bravest I know, she was a mother of three young men, and she was a friend. Daphne fought for freedom and justice, for all of us, she was a well known investigative journalist and blogger. It was late in the evening and I was in Tokyo when I found out, I could only scream and run outside into the dark. Since then, I’ve been angry, too angry, which never helps anybody. I tried to find words for what happened, but I didn’t manage. A few days after I found out, I started writing a post to share here, but it was just anger screamed out into the world. You can say that this is a food blog, and you’re right, but this is a food blog written out of my perspective, so whatever influences me as a person will find its way into my kitchen, onto my table, and onto this blog. I can’t really say more, my words aren’t really back yet, I still feel numbed, but I wanted to put what happened in words, that Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed for saying the honest, painful truth, for being critical, for fighting for our freedom. I will never forget her and my thoughts are with her and her family every day. One of her sons, Matthew Caruana Galizia, continues her work, he just won the Pulitzer prize as a part of a group of investigative journalists who disclosed the Panama Papers first and then the Paradise Papers just recently. We have to support the ones who are brave enough to open their mouth and talk, maybe louder than we’d dare to do, and we have to show that they are not alone and that we are with them.

My mother taught me that life can be beautiful and brutal and that we have to deal with both sides. Sometimes they lay so close to each other that we don’t even know how to deal with it. We enjoy the heights to the fullest and then, in the next second, we seem to drown. The place where I often go to when I feel battered by life, is my kitchen, I cook and I bake. And although I’ve neglected this space so much recently, I have long lists of kitchen projects that I want to dive into during Berlin’s long lasting winter.

To cook – and bake – from my friend Molly‘s Molly On The Range cookbook was on the top of my list, her book came out at the same time as mine, a year ago. Molly and I just met again while I was in California, her compelling, charming way to talk about food and life in general never ceases to amaze me. Molly also knows how to make cakes look so pretty that you wouldn’t dare to cut them, like her famous Funfetti Cake or her Gingerbread Farm, a replica of the actual farm where she lives with her husband (you can read her interview for our Meet In Your Kitchen feature in 2015 here). Molly is the kind of person who somehow manages to combine the talents of a perfectionist with the casual laid back attitude of a person who doesn’t care about perfectionism at all. Molly’s German book was only recently published and when I got the book and spotted the recipe for today’s chocolate tahini cake, I was hooked as soon as I read the title.

This was the first cake that I baked in months, and I didn’t even notice how much I missed baking until I turned on the oven and thumbed through the pages of Molly’s beautiful book. Sometimes, the best thing I can do is to take some time for myself in my kitchen, with eggs, butter, and sugar (and some tahini), and listen to Molly and bake this cake that tastes so unbelievably perfect. It’s chocolate, it’s tahini, it’s sweet, and it’s all I needed at the moment to feel ready to face the world again, with all its beauty and its brutality. Thank you, Molly!

Chocolate Tahini Cake

 

Chocolate Tahini Cake

Chocolate Tahini Cake with Tahini Frosting

from Molly Yeh’s ‘Molly On The Range – Recipes and Stories from an Unlikely Life on a Farm’

I only made half of this recipe and decorated the cake with dates and sesame seeds.

Makes one 2-layer 8-inch (20cm) cake or 24 cupcakes

For the cake

1 3/4 cups / 350g sugar
1 3/4 cups / 220g flour
1 cup / 100g unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup / 240ml whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup / 4 tablespoons flavorless oil
1/2 cup / 120g tahini
3/4 cup / 180ml boiling water

For the frosting

1 cup / 240g  unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup / 120g tahini
2 cups / 200g confectioners’ sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

To make the cake, preheat oven to 350ºF (175°C). Grease and line the bottoms of two 8-inch (20cm) cake pans or line 24 cupcake tins and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In a separate, medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, oil, and tahini. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Whisk in the boiling water.

Pour the batter into the cake or cupcake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Begin checking for doneness at 28 minutes for cakes and 18 minutes for cupcakes.Let cool in the pans on a rack for 10 minutes and then remove to the rack and cool completely.

To make the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and tahini until creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix to combine. Mix in the salt, cinnamon, and vanilla.

To assemble, you can either go the traditional route, or crumble up the cake layers with your hands, layer about a 1/3 of them in the bottom of a larger bowl, top it with 1/2 the frosting, another 1/3 of the cake, the remainder of the frosting, and then the remainder of the cake.

Chocolate Tahini Cake

 

Chocolate Tahini Cake

 

Chocolate Tahini Cake

 

Chocolate Tahini Cake

 

Chocolate Tahini Cake

 

Chocolate Tahini Cake

 

Chocolate Tahini Cake

Peach, Chèvre and Rosemary Tart

Peach, Chèvre and Rosemary Tarte

I allowed myself a few treats during our Mediterranean summer in Malta. I went snorkeling far more often than in the past few years, when my cookbook determined my schedule, I had a few girly shopping moments, and my man and I relaxed at the stunning – and newly renovated – Phoenicia Hotel in Valletta. We enjoyed stunning views from their infinity pool with a glass of crisp Maltese wine close at hand and indulged in lush breakfast buffets and fine French inspired cuisine on their gorgeous terrace overlooking the gardens.

Malta treated us well, the Mediterranean pace and hot climate force me to slow and calm down, something I only truly manage there. Nothing feels as heavy, as worrying or threatening as it might feel anywhere else, everything feels manageable and enjoyable. It’s not so much about duties, but about collecting and treasuring the good moments in life. This also reflects in my cooking. If I spent a couple more hours at the beach, we just cooked dinner a bit later, or kept it simple by throwing a fish on the grill and drizzling some fresh lemon juice over it. It’s pure, it’s good, and it allows me to have more time to chill and chat with a friend, to sit on the rocks a little longer and see the sun disappear into the sea’s faded evening-blue.

Another one of my lazy summer recipes is this lovely little sweet and savoury tart: ripe peaches, soft chèvre and Mediterranean rosemary spread on top of (store-bought!) puff pastry. You could also make your own, or use short crust pastry, but my lazy self just went to the supermarket and bought frozen Maltese puff pastry – the best I know.

The tart turned out even better than expected, offer it to your friends who don’t have a sweet tooth at teatime, or slice it up for a relaxed late summer dinner in the garden or on the balcony and pop open a bottle of wine. Heaven.

This recipe also works with grapes!

Peach, Chèvre and Rosemary Tarte

 

Peach, Chèvre and Rosemary Tarte

Peach, Chèvre and Rosemary Tart

Makes 1 (28cm / 11″) tart, serves 4-6

frozen puff pastry, defrosted, 320g / 11 ounces (you can also use short crust pastry)
large ripe peaches, cut into wedges, 4-5
mild soft chèvre, crumbled, about 150g / 5 ounces
fresh rosemary, finely chopped, 1 generous tablespoon
liquid honey 2 1/2 tablespoons

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F and butter a 28cm / 11″ tart pan.

Line the tart pan with the puff pastry, pushing the pastry into the pan, and put in the freezer for 5 minutes.

Spread the peaches in a circle on top of the pastry, sprinkle with the chèvre and rosemary, and drizzle with the honey. Bake for about 35 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and crisp at the edges (mind the heat, I use a gas oven in Malta, which is not as precise as my oven in Berlin).

Let it sit for about 10 minutes before serving and enjoy!

Peach, Chèvre and Rosemary Tarte

 

Peach, Chèvre and Rosemary Tarte

 

Peach, Chèvre and Rosemary Tarte

 

Peach, Chèvre and Rosemary Tarte

 

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Cherry Chocolate Meringue Pie

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Pie

Think of Black Forest Torte and meringue pie, take out the heaviness of the whipped cream, and you have a rough idea of the taste of this opulent beauty. My Cherry Chocolate Meringue Pie has all the nice features of the famous southern German coffee table classic, including dark chocolate, Kirsch Schnaps, and sweet summer cherries – it’s just lighter.

My Maltese Mama Jenny was the first baker who introduced me to meringue pie, her formidable lemon meringue pie blew my mind. Although we have similar cakes in Germany, like a sponge cake layered with gooseberries and meringue, it doesn’t have the same qualities as a pie. It’s richer, a proper German torte. A pie, however, focuses on the fruit filling, there’s only a thin buttery short crust base holding all that lusciousness together. The wonderfully fluffy, airy meringue topping adds a very fine sweetness, wrapped in fragile crispiness. It works perfectly with sour rhubarb, a pink spring pie that became a popular recipe on the blog. I could have used the same formula for my plump black cherries, but I wanted a chocolate base. I couldn’t get it out of my mind and I’m glad that I didn’t, it’s the perfect Schwarzwälder Kirsch Pie (the German name for black forest).

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Pie

 

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Pie

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Pie

You’ll need a 23cm / 9″ shallow pie dish for this recipe.

Makes 1 pie

For the cherries

fresh sweet cherries, pitted,  about 550g / 1 1/4 pounds (about 4 cups pitted cherries)
granulated sugar 100g / 1/2 cup
ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon
Kirsch schnaps 3 tablespoons
cornstarch 30g / 1/4 cup

For the pastry

plain flour 160g / 1 1/4 cups
Dutch-process or natural unsweetened cocoa powder 50g / 2 ounces
granulated sugar 3 tablespoons
fine sea salt 1/4 teaspoon
unsalted butter 120g / 1/2 cup
cold water 3 tablespoons

For the meringue

fresh organic egg whites 3
a pinch of fine sea salt
granulated sugar 80g / 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon

For the cherry filling, in a medium saucepan, heat the cherries, sugar, and cinnamon over medium heat, stirring constantly. When the sugar dissolved, stir in 2 tablespoons of the schnaps, close with a lid, and cook for about 5 minutes or until the cherries soften. Turn the heat down to low. Add 2 tablespoons of the liquid of the cherries to a small bowl and whisk in the cornstarch until smooth, pour back into the saucepan, stirring constantly until well combined. If you’d like the schnaps to be more prominent, add 1 tablespoon of the spirit. Pour the cherries and all the liquid into a wide pan and let them cool completely.

For the pastry, in the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, and salt. 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 crumbly. Add the water and, using the hooks of the stand mixer, mix until combined. Form the dough into a thick disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 210°C / 410°F (conventional setting).

On a table or countertop, place the dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and use a rolling pin to roll it into a circle, large enough to line a 23cm / 9″ shallow pie dish. Push the pastry into the dish, trim any excess dough off the rim with a knife, then prick the pastry all over with a fork. Bake for 15 minutes. Let the pastry cool completely before you assemble the pie.

In the large bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the egg white and salt for 1 minute. Adding the sugar gradually, continue mixing for about 1-2 minutes or until stiff.

Preheat the oven to  210°C / 410°F (conventional setting).

Pour the cool cherries and all the liquid on top of the pastry. Scrape the stiff egg white on top, shape it to a dome and form little peaks with a knife to create an uneven surface. Bake for 7 minutes or until the top is golden brown and crisp. Let it sit for about 30 minutes before serving, the cherries need to set.

The pie tastes best on the 1st and 2nd day, however, you need to keep it in the fridge, which softens the pastry.

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Pie

 

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Pie

 

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Pie

 

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Pie

 

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Pie

 

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Pie

 

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Pie

Maltese Fennel & Coriander Cheeseburger Toast

Maltese Fennel Cheeseburger Toast

A few weeks ago, I received a message from someone excitedly telling me that she visited my ‘fennel lady’ in Malta. I often wrote about this lovely farmer, on the blog and in my cookbook, and I can’t imagine cooking without her aromatic harvest anymore. Every Sunday, she spreads her fennel and coriander seeds on the wooden table at a tiny stand at the farmers’ market in Marsaxlokk, a picturesque fishermen’s village in the south of my beloved Mediterranean island. It seems like this is what she’s done all her life, picking and selling seeds, always with a happy smile on her tanned face. The person who wrote me the email did what I always do in summer: she bought bags of fragrant seeds to fill the spice box in her pantry.

Malta is the reason why fennel became so prominent in many of my recipes. It grows wild all over the islands, the plants dig their sturdy roots into every patch of soil they can find. I guess its abundance is one of the reasons why you can find fennel in many traditional dishes in Malta’s Mediterranean cuisine – and its wonderful sweet taste of course. If you visit the small local restaurants, you often find baked fennel potatoes as a side dish on the menu.

When Leerdammer asked me if I’d like to create a recipe with their new Toast and Burger Cheese, I didn’t think twice. I love a good cheeseburger. I live in Berlin, a city where new burger joints pop up at every street corner like mushrooms. Although I like to try a new spot once in a while, I still have my favourite place when my meaty cravings creep over: The Bird. I always go for a perfectly cooked steak burger topped with a slice of Swiss cheese. However, in my own kitchen, I’m a little more experimental.

Leerdammer’s aromatic cheese tastes slightly sweet and it melts on top of a warm, juicy burger like butter. The cheese has a fine taste, but it’s not shy, it can easily take a generous amount of warming spices stirred into the burger mixture: fennel and coriander seeds, alongside lots of garlic, fresh parsley, and spicy black peppercorns crushed in a mortar. I felt inspired by the famous Maltese sausage, which is coarse, rough, and so tasty. It features all the spices that you can find in my burger. When it comes to flavour, Malta’s traditional sausage is one of the richest and most delicious I know. And what works in a sausage, can’t go wrong in a burger.

The burgers are bedded on a thinly sliced fennel bulb that adds freshness and crunch, a few red onion rings and arugula (rucola) instead of a lettuce leaf brings a sharp note. Usually, I prefer to buy my cheese in one piece, but when it comes to cheeseburgers, I don’t mind working with sliced dairy products. This way it looks like a proper American style burger, one with a Mediterranean make-over. You could pack the whole thing in a bun, but what about trying something new and layering it between two thick slices of toasted white bread? And instead of using the toaster, make use of the burgers’ buttery cooking juices and crisp the bread in the pan.

Thank you Leerdammer for inspiring me to make a Maltese cheeseburger toast. You can find more Toast & Burger recipes celebrating regional treats here.

Last year I created a few scrumptious sandwiches together with Leerdamer, here are some of my favourites:

Egg, Bacon and Cheese Sandwich with Garden Vegetables
Spiced Plum and Cheese Omelette Ciabatta Sandwich
Grilled Persimmon, Ham and Cheese Sandwich with Basil

Maltese Fennel Cheeseburger Toast

 

Maltese Fennel Cheeseburger Toast

Maltese Fennel Cheeseburger Toast

Makes 4 burgers

For the burgers

minced meat (beef and pork) 500g / 18 ounces
dry breadcrumbs 30g / scant 1/4 cup
organic egg 1
garlic, crushed, 2 large cloves
fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, 1 medium bunch
fennel seeds 1 tablespoon
coriander seeds, crushed in a mortar, 1 tablespoon
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar, 2 teaspoons
flaky sea salt 1 1/2 teaspoons
butter, to cook the burgers
olive oil, to cook the burgers

To assemble the burger toast

fresh white loaf, 8 thick slices
medium fennel bulb, cored and very thinly sliced, 1
medium red onion, cut into thin rings, 1
Leerdammer cheese (or another aromatic cheese that melts well) 4 slices
(I used Leerdammer’s ‘Herzhaft-Intensiv’ Toast & Burger cheese. If you prefer a smoky note, go for ‘Rauchig-Würzig’.)
arugula (rucola), a small handful
olive oil
fennel seeds, crushed in a mortar, for the topping (optional)

For the burgers, in a large bowl, using your hands or a stand mixer, mix and knead the minced meat, breadcrumbs, egg, garlic, parsley, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, pepper, and salt until well combined. Shape the meat mixture into 4 thick burgers.

In a large, heavy pan, heat 1 tablespoon of butter and a generous splash of olive oil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-high, add the burgers, and, turning them 2-3 times, cook until medium rare. You might have to turn the heat down to medium after a few minutes if the burgers turn dark. This takes about 10 minutes. Add more oil if the pan becomes too dry.

Transfer the burgers to a plate (cover them with a lid), leaving the fat in the pan, and turn the heat up to high. Add the bread slices to the pan and toast each slice on just one side until golden and charred at the corners.

To assemble the burger, lay a slice of bread on a plate (toasted side facing down) and lay a few fennel slices and red onion rings on top. Arrange the warm burger and a slice of cheese on top, then finish it off with some more onion rings and a few rucola leaves. Drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with some fennel seeds, and close the sandwich with a slice of bread (toasted side facing upwards). Squeeze and enjoy!

Maltese Fennel Cheeseburger Toast

 

Maltese Fennel Cheeseburger Toast

 

Maltese Fennel Cheeseburger Toast

 

Maltese Fennel Cheeseburger Toast

Lemon Butter Roast Chicken with Peaches and Rosemary

Lemon Butter Roast Chicken with Peaches and Rosemary

Roast poultry is always a feast. Nothing beats a whole roast chicken, the skin golden and crisp, the meat succulent and tender. And when it comes to seasoning the chubby bird, there are no rules to obey. Sweet or sour, fruity or veggie-focused, spiced-up or plain, a chicken can deal with everything. Lemon butter sounds fresh, tastes fresh, and turned my chicken into a perfect summer lunch. Italian peaches lend juice and fruitiness, a little sweet, but not too much, and rosemary brings in woody tones. Seeing as we’re talking about feasting, there had to be wine on the table. The bird didn’t necessarily need it, but my mood called for a German Riesling, chilled, fresh, and fruity.

If you love wine, here’s a little experiment for the next time you open a bottle: choose a good bootle of white or red wine and pour it into three to five different wine glasses. You can also go for champagne, if you’re in the mood for bubbles, but take your time and consciously taste the wine, its complex tones and colours, revealed by the dimensions of each glass, its shape, volume, height, and curves. If you have three glasses, you’ll taste three variations of the same wine.

My mother – who loves wine at least as much as she loves food – introduced me to this kind of wine tasting in my early twenties. She has a huge crystal glass collection handmade by 260 year old glass maker Riedel, not only for white, red, and sparkling wine, but also for different regional wine and grapes. The taller Bordeaux glass, the rounder Burgundy that opens at the mouth, the elegantly shaped Syrah glass, they all bring out the best, the typical characteristics of these wines. That doesn’t mean that a fine Chablis can’t be enjoyed out of a glass that was made for a Riesling, but it might miss certain nuances that give it the final touch, the magic that goes beyond words.

After my first lesson in the art of wine glasses, I decided to follow my Mama’s food steps and invest in a basic collection, my first machine-blown Riedel glasses. My budget was a bit more limited than my mother’s, I focussed on shapes that work well for various grape varieties. Riedel’s Rheingau glass, for example, is quite an allrounder, it flatters crisp and fruity whites like my beloved German Grauburgunder (pinot gris), but I also found out that a bubbly Crémant d’Alsace doesn’t mind this shape either – in case a Champagne glass isn’t at hand. When it comes to the reds, I’m a fan of body, weight, and depth. The classic Bordeaux shape goes quite well with a few of my favourite wines. These wine glasses were the start of my ever growing collection, which also led to ever growing kitchen shelves, but that’s another story.

Lemon Butter Roast Chicken with Peaches and Rosemary

 

Lemon Butter Roast Chicken with Peaches and Rosemary

Falling for wine glasses is a passion, it makes sense once you start investing in finer wines. A glass collection grows and changes every year, like a wine collection, there will be losses and new additions. It’s alive, like the wines that they’re filled with. It’s always sad to lose a precious glass, but it’s also so exciting to see a new shape added to the shelf.

When Riedel asked me, if I’d like to try out their new Fatto A Mano range, handmade at their headquarters in Kufstein in the western Austrian province of Tyrol, I could already hear my mother’s ecstatic voice. Fatto A Mano is a beautiful collection, thin and light at the top, tall and elegant, and it introduces a new feature. Inspired by the Venetian tradition of glass making, a coloured handmade stem is the base of each glass of this collection. The bowl, however, sitting on top, is machine-blown and then fused with the stem, a process developed by Riedel. The colour scheme, including bold yellow, red, blue, and green, and more minimal black and white, adds fun to the table. The art of wine making is a science, but the art of wine drinking is first and foremost a pleasure that allows us the luxury to relax and let go, to taste and just smile at life.

Setting up the table for a dinner party or a weekend lunch feast with friends – especially now, in summer – doesn’t need to follow strict rules anymore. We play with the arrangement and mix and match tableware, colours, shapes, and materials. Whatever mood I’m in, the food I choose, but also the way I lay out my table, reflects how I feel. The table is the stage for the feast, where we gather with the ones we love to enjoy a few hours of good food and wine, of closeness and conversation.

Thank you, Riedel, for introducing me to your artful Fatto A Mano collection. It has already created quite a few hours of pleasure at our table – for me and my friends.

In the pictures you see the Riedel Riesling glasses from the new Fatto A Mano range, the stemless Viognier / Chardonnay glasses from The O Wine Tumbler collection, which I used for water, and the perfectly shaped round-bellied Marne wine decanter.

Lemon Butter Roast Chicken with Peaches and Rosemary

 

Lemon Butter Roast Chicken with Peaches and Rosemary

Lemon Butter Roast Chicken with Peaches and Rosemary

You can use leftover meat, sauce, and fruit to stir into warm pasta and sprinkle with fresh basil.

Serves 2-3

unsalted butter 60g / 4 tablespoons
freshly squeezed lemon juice 75ml / 1/3 cup
whole free-range or organic chicken, about 1.5kg / 3.3 pounds, 1
flaky sea salt
ground pepper
medium sprigs fresh rosemary 6
large lemon, cut into 8 wedges, 1
large, not too soft peaches, cut into 8 wedges each, 3

Preheat the oven to 190°C / 375°F (convection setting or Rotitherm setting, if available).

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and pour into a medium baking dish, large enough to fit the chicken in. Whisk in the lemon juice, then transfer the chicken to the baking dish and toss in the lemon butter until coated on all sides. Season the chicken with salt and pepper inside and out and lay 2 sprigs of rosemary inside the chicken. Arrange the remaining rosemary, lemon and peach wedges around the bird. Roast, spooning the juices from the pan over the chicken every 15 minutes,  for 45-55 minutes or until the juices run clear when you prick the thickest part of a chicken thigh with a skewer. Turn on the broiler (grill) for a few minutes or until the chicken skin starts sizzling, mind that it doesn’t burn. Take the chicken out of the oven and let it rest for a few minutes.

Carve the chicken and serve with the peaches and baguette to dip into the juices – and with a glass of chilled Riesling of course.

If you’re looking for a starter, or a dish to accompany the roast chicken for an easy lunch or brunch, try my leek, tomato, and thyme quiche or basil ricotta and tomato quiche.

Lemon Butter Roast Chicken with Peaches and Rosemary

 

Lemon Butter Roast Chicken with Peaches and Rosemary

 

Lemon Butter Roast Chicken with Peaches and Rosemary

 

Lemon Butter Roast Chicken with Peaches and Rosemary

 

Lemon Butter Roast Chicken with Peaches and Rosemary

 

Lemon Butter Roast Chicken with Peaches and Rosemary

 

Lemon Butter Roast Chicken with Peaches and Rosemary

 

Lemon Butter Roast Chicken with Peaches and Rosemary

 

Lemon Butter Roast Chicken with Peaches and Rosemary

 

Lemon Butter Roast Chicken with Peaches and Rosemary

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