eat in my kitchen

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

Category: SALADS

Winter Caprese: Blood Orange, Beetroot, and Mozzarella di Bufala

Winter Caprese: Blood Orange, Beetroot, and Mozzarella di Bufala

I’m sure that I can smell it, I can hear it, if not even feel it on my skin. The promise of spring is in the air. The birds sitting on the naked branches of the tree in front of our living room window know more than us and they sing it out loud. Their voices vibrant and full of energy, they herald winter’s nearing end.

With me, it’s the same every year, I get impatient, frustrated. I can’t wait to pull shorts and dresses out of my wardrobe, and sit outside in one of the city’s cafés on a lazy Saturday afternoon, decadently sipping on a glass of chilled white wine. I want to see ripe tomatoes, lush basil, and plump peas on my kitchen table. I already dreamed of a colourful caprese salad waiting for me on a plate – and then I started to think “Wait, it’s February, hold on!”. But how about a little creativity and open mindedness, what about a winter caprese? There’s mozzarella di Bufala in my fridge, sweet blood oranges replace the tomatoes, and boiled beetroot adds an earthy tone that goes unbelievably well with both the fruit and the cheese. I sprinkled it with a sweet date syrup vinaigrette, but maple syrup would be just as good, and a handful of fresh basil leaves (a hint of summer). It was one of the best lunches I’ve had in a while.

Tomorrow’s the start of the crazy season again, carnival’s back! If you’re looking for some traditional sweet treats for yourself and your loved ones, try one of these sticky fried gems:

German Berliner 

Greek Loukoumades

Maltese Zeppoli

Winter Caprese: Blood Orange, Beetroot, and Mozzarella di Bufala

Winter Caprese: Blood Orange, Beetroot, and Mozzarella di Bufala

Mind that the beetroot has to cook for about 45 minutes.

Serves 2 for lunch or 4 as a starter

medium beetroot 1
bay leaf 1
small blood oranges, peeled and sliced, 4
mozzarella di Bufala, drained and torn into 2 or 4 pieces, 125g / 4 1/2 ounces
fresh basil leaves, a small handful
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar (optional)

For the vinaigrette

olive oil 3 tablespoons
balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon
white balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon
date syrup (or maple syrup) 1/2-1 teaspoon
fine sea salt
ground pepper

Bring a medium pot of salted water to the boil, add the beetroot and bay leaf and cook for about 45 minutes or until the beetroot is tender (prick with a skewer to check). Rinse with cold water and let it cool; then peel and slice the beetroot.

For the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, both vinegars, and the date syrup. Season with salt pepper and additional date syrup to taste.

Arrange the beetroot and blood orange in a circle on the plates, place the mozzarella in the middle. Drizzle with the vinaigrette (you might not need all the dressing) and sprinkle with basil and crushed pepper. Serve immediately.

Winter Caprese: Blood Orange, Beetroot, and Mozzarella di Bufala

 

Winter Caprese: Blood Orange, Beetroot, and Mozzarella di Bufala

 

Winter Caprese: Blood Orange, Beetroot, and Mozzarella di Bufala

 

Winter Caprese: Blood Orange, Beetroot, and Mozzarella di Bufala

Beluga Lentils with Grilled Cherry Tomatoes, Orange and Rosemary

Post sponsored by Volkswagen.

Lentils, Orange and Cherry Tomatoes

Spontaneous weekend trips are the best way to calm the weary mind after a busy week. I don’t have to travel far, I don’t even need to stay overnight, just a few hours in a nearby forest or at one of Berlin’s beautiful lakes and I’m back on my feet.

My mother brought many wonderful things into my life. My love for food and cooking was definitely sparked by her own passion. She also fed my need for snuggly Sunday afternoons on the sofa. I sink in a pile of cushions and wrap myself in a cozy quilt, preferably listing to Prokofiev, and a plate of warm waffles on my lap. This used to be one of our favourite weekend rituals. Unfortunately, we haven’t made waffles together in a while, but there’s another tradition from my childhood days that she introduced me to, which both of us still hold dear. Mother and daughter grab their jackets, hop in the car to find a nice spot in the countryside, and go on a short weekend adventure. We prefer relaxed walks that allow us to chat a little and enjoy the scenery around us. In all these years we must have walked hundreds of kilometres. We walked down narrow paths meandering through the darkest woods, jumped over tinkling waters, and crossed the fields on windy hill tops, where the sky feels endless and the views take your breath away. Mud, rain, heat, or darkness never stopped us from our next adventure.

When Volkswagen asked me for a new recipe, I had to think of one of my favourite places in Berlin for long walks, the gorgeous Müggelsee Lake. Be it spring, summer, autumn, or winter, this lake is a quiet beauty in every season. It’s a peaceful place, my beloved weekend get away. Usually, we go to the local bakery and butcher and grab some sweets and a sausage. But this time I had another idea: wrapped in scarves, wool beanie, and a big jacket, sitting on a bench at the lake, we can have a little picnic date, even in winter. I went for a recipe that tastes just as good as a warm lunch and as a cold salad: nutty beluga lentils with sweet and smokey grilled cherry tomatoes and woody rosemary oil. It’s a scrumptious trilogy.

For more delicious recipes and kitchen inspiration, visit Volkswagen’s Pinterest community board Food Bloggers for Volkswagen.

Lentils, Orange and Cherry Tomatoes

 

Lentils, Orange and Cherry Tomatoes

Beluga Lentils with Grilled Cherry Tomatoes, Orange and Rosemary Oil

Serves 4

For the lentils

beluga 
lentils (no soaking required) 280g / 10 ounces
fresh thyme 1 small bunch
fresh rosemary 1 sprig
bay leaf 1
fresh orange peel 4 long strips
balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon
fine sea salt
ground pepper

cherry tomatoes, on the vine, 20

For the rosemary oil

olive oil 6 tablespoons
fresh rosemary, needles only, 4 sprigs

For the topping

freshly grated orange zest, about 1 tablespoon

Preheat the oven to grill / broil (quicker method) or preheat to 220°C (425°F).

Place the lentils in a saucepan with plenty of (unsalted) water, add the thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, and orange peel and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until al dente (or follow the package instructions). Remove any excess liquid with a ladle, if necessary, and the spices. Stir in the vinegar and season with salt, pepper, and additional vinegar to taste.

Place the tomatoes in a baking dish and grill / broil for about 12 minutes or roast at 220°C / 425°F for about 35 to 45 minutes—their skins should start to burst and turn partly black. Leaving the tomatoes on the vine, divide them into 4 portions.

For the rosemary oil, in a small saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the rosemary and, as soon as it starts to sizzle, remove the pan from the heat. Cover and let the herb infuse the oil for at least 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the rosemary from the oil and set aside.

Stir the rosemary oil into the lentils and divide between plates. Arrange the grilled tomatoes and rosemary on top and season with fresh orange zest to taste. Enjoy warm or cold.

Lentils, Orange and Cherry Tomatoes

 

Lentils, Orange and Cherry Tomatoes

 

Lentils, Orange and Cherry Tomatoes

 

Lentils, Orange and Cherry Tomatoes

 

Lentils, Orange and Cherry Tomatoes

 

Lentils, Orange and Cherry Tomatoes

 

Feta and Fennel Barley with Caramelized Kumquats

Feat and Fennel Barley with Caramelized Kumquats

My latest discovery of a barley recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s stunning Jerusalem cookbook was a life changing event in my kitchen. I finally like barley!

For years my mother has been trying to convince me of the little grain’s qualities – unsuccessfully. I’m not a huge fan of orzotto or risotto, I can enjoy both of them for lunch but I wouldn’t call them a great source of inspiration. But then, as I thumbed through the pages of Jerusalem, page number 81 caught my attention: Parsley & Barley Salad. The title doesn’t mention the ingredient that changed everything for me, feta. The two London chefs marinate the cheese in spiced oil before they finish off their composition with barley, lots and lots of parsley, and spring onions. They also add cashews but I skipped them, I’m not too fond of nuts in my cooking.

So what happens is that, when I really like a recipe, my mind starts spinning looking for variations. First I added much more barley than mentioned in the recipe to turn it into a richer meal befitting these cold winter evenings. Then I stirred in raw, thinly sliced fennel, blood orange juice, mint, and honey-caramelized kumquats (an inspiration from last year’s celeriac salad). Ottolenghi and Tamimi use za’tar for their spice oil, which I replaced with ground cardamom and fennel seeds. Crushed coriander seeds and allspice berries are taken from their recipe and add a warming touch to it.

You’ll end up with quite a vibrant dish that can be eaten cold, as a salad, or slightly warm, as a main or side dish. Although the spiced oil, salty cheese, and sour kumquats are quite prominent, the nutty barley and crunchy fennel aren’t shy here either. What’s great about it, is that you can play with it, add and change spices, fruits, and vegetables according to your mood and the season. Just stick to barley and marinated feta, that’s the secret.

Feat and Fennel Barley with Caramelized Kumquats

Feta and Fennel Barley with Caramelized Kumquats

Serves 3-4

pearl barley 100g / 1/2 cup
olive oil 5 tablespoons, plus a splash
coriander seeds, ground in a mortar, 3/4 teaspoon
allspice berries, ground in a mortar, 1/2 teaspoon
fennel seeds, ground in a mortar, 1/2 teaspoon
ground cumin 1/2 teaspoon
ground cardamom 1/4 teaspoon
feta, cut into cubes, 150g / 5 ounces
medium fennel bulb, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced, 1
freshly squeezed blood orange juice 4 tablespoons
fine sea salt
ground pepper
fresh mint leaves, a small handful

For the caramelized kumquats

honey 2 tablespoons
kumquats, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed, 12
(or 12 orange fillets, peeled)
freshly squeezed orange juice 4 tablespoons

Cook the barley in salted water until al dente, drain in a colander, and rinse briefly with water.

In a medium bowl, whisk the olive oil, coriander, allspice, fennel seeds, cumin, and cardamom. Add the feta and mix gently until the cheese is coated with oil and spices, set aside.

For the caramelized kumquats, in a small, heavy pan, heat the honey over high heat until liquid and bubbling. Add the kumquats and orange juice and cook for about 2 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom, turn and cook for another 1 1/2 – 2 minutes or until soft and caramelized; mind that they don’t become too dark.

Transfer the barley, sliced fennel, orange juice, and feta with the spiced oil to a large bowl and stir gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste, stir in a little more olive oil if it’s too dry. Sprinkle with mint and arrange the kumquats on top. Enjoy warm or cold.

Feat and Fennel Barley with Caramelized Kumquats

 

Feat and Fennel Barley with Caramelized Kumquats

 

Feat and Fennel Barley with Caramelized Kumquats

 

Feat and Fennel Barley with Caramelized Kumquats

 

Feat and Fennel Barley with Caramelized Kumquats

16 Recipes for Winter Salads

Celeriac Kumquat Salad

Despite the grey skies and frosty temperatures that come along with Berlin’s long lasting winter, I’ve been in the mood for salads surprisingly often this January. Cozy soups, stewy and rich, would have been more obvious, but no, my appetite longs for winter salads. Celeriac, cabbage, beans, roots, and potatoes inspire my cooking and satisfy my longings for fresh vegetables. And thanks to the addition of citrus fruits, fresh coconut, or turmeric root I never get bored. If you feel the same, take a look at these scrumptious compositions collected on Eat In My Kitchen over the past 3 years (click the titles for the recipes):

Celeriac Salad with Cardamom-Yoghurt, Caramelized Honey Kumquats, and Walnuts

Celeriac Kumquat Salad

 

Blood Orange, Olive, and Red Onion Salad with Rucola

Blood Orange Olive Rucola Salad

 

Green Bean, Pea and Kumquat Salad with Turmeric and Mint

Bean Pea Kumquat Salad

 

Potatoes with Cinnamon Hummus, Basil, and Prawns

Potatoes Hummus Prawns

 

Beetroot Carpaccio with fresh Coconut and Coriander

Beet Root Coconut Carpaccio

 

Mediterranean Octopus, Fennel and Orange Salad

Octopus Fennel Orange Salad

 

Beans and Peas with Tahini Lemon Mayonnaise

Bean Pea Tahini Mayonnaise

 

Orange and Fennel Couscous with Orange Blossom Water and Mint

Orange and Fennel Couscous

 

Belgian Endive and Radicchio Salad with Persimmons

Radicchio Endive Persimmon Salad

 

Mozzarella di Bufala, Rucola, Orange, and Chervil Salad

Orange Mozzarella Rucola Salad

 

A Salad with Winter Purslane, Sautéed Mushrooms, and Nasturtium Flowers

Winter Purslane, Mushroom and Flowers

 

Belgian Endive, Pomegranate, and Orange Salad with fresh Turmeric

Endive Pomegranate Turmeric

 

Green Beans, Pear and Walnut Salad with Bacon 

Bean, Pear and Bacon Salad

 

La Ratte Potatoes with Roast Lemon Peel, Olives and Parsley

Potato and Lemon Peel Salad

 

and from my book:

Radicchio, Peach, and Roasted Shallot Salad with Blue Cheese (you can replace the peach with ripe persimmon or pear)

Radicchio Peach Shallots

 

Bavarian Cabbage Salad with Crispy Bacon

(I’m sorry, there’s no picture to share, the quality is too bad. It was one of my early blog recipes …)

Enjoy!

Celeriac Kumquat Salad

Camping deluxe – Farfalle Pasta with Figs, Mozzarella di Bufala & Honey Butter

Post sponsored by Volkswagen.

Farfalle Pasta with Figs, Mozzarella di Bufala and Honey Butter

Although I can’t really call myself an experienced camper, I’m fascinated by the idea of setting up a tent in the middle of nowhere and keeping the signs of civilization to a minimum.

I got my introduction to camping through my boyfriend. To avoid unnecessary difficulties, he chose wisely and decided to give it a go when we were in his home country – a place where you’re never really completely cut off. He convinced me to take a boat to Comino, Malta’s tiny sister island, which is just the right size to jump bravely into our first outdoor adventure without having to worry about too many risks. Our ‘captain’ dropped us off at the shore, along with our two bags, a tent, and a cooling box. It was August, it was unbearably hot, and I found myself in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, on a rocky island. There was not a single tree in sight. My boyfriend, however, looked at the situation with far more optimism. He knows Comino like his back pocket, thanks to countless trips as a child. He set up our rather basic looking tent within less than 10 minutes, with a little help from his clueless German girlfriend (I really tried hard not to be a burden). And when we were done, we jumped into the gentle waves in a lonely bay and I felt a bit like Robinson Crusoe. All of a sudden I started to like this camping idea.

To prepare our dinner, I collected some twigs and my man made a fire. We even managed to exchange a few of our tomatoes from the cooling box with the fresh catch of a passing fisherman. Then I got comfortable: I couldn’t help but turn the rocks around me into a little desert island kitchen. Olive oil, salt, and pepper were ready to marinate the fish and vegetables for our DIY BBQ and we sat down with a glass of wine (a gift from the fisherman). This dinner tasted so good that I could have cried. Maybe that’s part of the whole camping experience, you’re very close to nature, you depend on the weather, the sunlight, the sea, and the food that nature (or your cooling box) offers you. It makes you humble and it opens your senses, everything feels more intense. To smell, taste, feel, and see is essential when you live in and around a tent or camper van. The night came early and covered our little island in the deepest darkness. As soon as the sun sank into the sea, I felt more sleepy than usual, but also more peaceful. I brushed my teeth in the calm sea and went to bed.

Farfalle Pasta with Figs, Mozzarella di Bufala and Honey Butter

Most of my activities on the Maltese Islands are documented in thousands of pictures, but the idea of camping – at least in my eyes – is about being unplugged and as far away from any technical devices as possible. So there’s no photographic evidence of my first or our following Comino camping adventures. However, when I spoke to my mother about camping recently, she brought many stories and pictures back to mind that I hadn’t thought of in decades. My parents and my sister went to the Camargue, in southern France in the 70s, to a place with the beautiful name Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. They didn’t have a tent but an old Volkswagen van. I always loved the old photographs, of them on the beach and in old villages, on ancient narrow cobblestone streets. The ease of a camper on their faces. One of the nicest camper vans I know belongs to our friends Luke and Jessica in Malta. Their gorgeous four wheeled gem is baby blue, built in 1968, and its restoration took them 10 months, but all the patience, sweat, and love they put into it was worth it.

Stephanie Le from Canada also shared her love for camping with me in our meet in your kitchen feature a few weeks ago. She’s a pro, she even manages to create a Beef Stroganoff when she’s out in the woods. Stephanie made me think about the culinary challenges that you have to face when you limit your life to a few bags and a grill or gas stove. It also makes a huge difference if you’re in a place that still allows you to forage, or where fishermen offer you the best fish you ever tasted in your whole life. I’m talking about a rather romantic kind of camping here, away from the crowds and civilization and its disturbing visual and acoustic side effects.

Let’s say you’ll be out in the wilderness, for 1-2 nights, and you can upgrade your meal with some fruit and dairy products, the cooling box will keep it fresh for a day. When Volkswagen asked me to come up with a recipe – an eat in my kitchen on the road creation – I couldn’t help but think of camping deluxe. A kind of camping that satisfies the longings of a gourmet who ended up off the beaten track. The senses stimulated by the whole outdoor experience, ready to be caressed by a beautiful plate of farfalle with ripe figs, creamy mozzarella di bufala, velvety honey butter, and fragrant basil. The dried pasta and honey are easy to store, the figs and herbs can be kept in a lunch box, and the mozzarella and butter stay fresh in the cooling box. This would be my ideal treat for a night under the clear black sky.

For more delicious recipes and kitchen inspiration, visit Volkswagen’s Pinterest community board Food Blogger for Volkswagen.

Farfalle Pasta with Figs, Mozzarella di Bufala and Honey Butter

 

Farfalle Pasta with Figs, Mozzarella di Bufala and Honey Butter

Farfalle Pasta with Figs, Mozzarella di Bufala and Honey Butter

Serves 2

farfalle pasta 200g / 7 ounces
butter 3 tablespoons
honey 1 1/2-2 teaspoons
large figs, cut into 8 wedges each, 2
mozzarella di bufala, torn into pieces, 125g / 4 1/2 ounces
fresh basil leaves, a small handful
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar
flaky sea salt

Cook the farfalle in salted water until al dente.

In the pot used to cook the pasta, heat the butter and honey and whisk until combined. Mix in the farfalle, stir, and divide between 2 plates. Arrange the figs, mozzarella, and basil on top and season with crushed pepper and flaky sea salt to taste.

Enjoy warm or cold.

Farfalle Pasta with Figs, Mozzarella di Bufala and Honey Butter

 

Farfalle Pasta with Figs, Mozzarella di Bufala and Honey Butter

 

Farfalle Pasta with Figs, Mozzarella di Bufala and Honey Butter

 

Farfalle Pasta with Figs, Mozzarella di Bufala and Honey Butter

Eat In My Kitchen is out! From the book: Radicchio, Peach & Shallot with Stilton

Radicchio, Peach & Stilton Salad

The Eat In My Kitchen book is out and I’m the happiest person on the planet!

One of the exciting – and often quite challenging – things in life is that you never really know where the journey will take you. It’s like being on a ship out on the open sea. Sometimes it seems like you can control the direction, but it might just be an illusion, and in the end you can only ever go with flow instead of fighting against it. Since I understood this, my life rolls more smoothly than ever. I wasn’t one of those kids that had a clear idea of their future and what it should bring. At the age of 18 I was still a bit clueless about my place in this world, so I decided to go to university and study architecture. I was a good girl and left 4 years later with a diploma in my pocket although I knew I wouldn’t want to work as an architect. Instead, I worked happily in the music industry for 15 years. But things changed, I changed, the music business changed, my direction in life changed. I decided to start a food blog on a cold winter’s day in November 2013, and this decision had more of an impact on my life than I could have imagined back then. I shared a new recipe every day in the first year of Eat In My Kitchen, and although I felt creatively extremely stimulated after those 12 months, I was also exhausted. My writing and photography improved tremendously in that year, and my cooking and baking evolved as well – I became more experimental. However, I had to slow down the pace, it was too much. But the solution was easy: less posts on the blog and I found a rhythm that allowed me to enjoy every single part of being a blogger (it still feels weird to say that).

In the even colder days of February 2015, life, the universe, destiny, luck, or whatever you may call it, had different plans. Holly La Due from Prestel Publishing in New York came into my life, she sent me an email in the morning, we skyped in the afternoon, and sealed our deal in the evening – all in one day. Holly’s decision to ask me if I’d like to write a cookbook, changed my life so drastically that I’m still processing what’s been happening in the past year and a half. I never really got used to seeing myself as a blogger, life was too fast, and now I’m a cookbook author. I still have these moments, when I look at my book using one of the recipes in my own kitchen, and I get a little shock and feel, “wow, that’s my book”. I guess I need a little more time.

Most of the time in life it’s not just us alone, not just a single person who creates, we’re woven into a net of people, ideas, and visions. Whoever pulls the string on one side of the net, affects the whole result. This heavy blue book full of recipes, Eat In My Kitchen – to cook, to bake, to eat, and to treat, is not just lying on my table anymore, today it’s been sent out into the world, now it’s on the book shelves and maybe lying on your table. And this makes me feel peacefully happy and thankful, I could squeeze the world.

This book has been a gift for me from the start. Being able to turn a vision into a physical object makes me feel very humble, I know that this book carries a part of every single person who’s been involved. Thank you, to the most amazing team and friends all over the world:

Holly, Jamie, Jan, Lauren, Karen, Luke, Stephen, Angy, Emma, Oliver, Andrew, Will, Marisa, Ron, Monica, Ellen S, Jen, Pia, Julie, Adeline, Ellen M, Cynthia, Molly, Malin, Yossy, the Cini family, Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley, Joanna, Karl, Jo, Iggy, Marina, Türkan, Jörg, Kitty, Hetty, Mama, Uli, Ursula, Uwe, Jenny, Edith, Emma, Alex, Julia, Nina, Kim, Jessica, Luke, Matt, Muxu, Daphne, Nadine, Jan, Essa, Sandra, Chris, Alexandra, Doris, Chris, Anna, Jimmy, Gina, Pattie, Jayne, and all my loved ones.

Thank you my wonderful food loving blog friends, you’ve come back and visited these pages for almost 3 years. Your passion, enthusiasm, your questions and comments, your emails and pictures, made me enjoy my kitchen and my food even more than I already do. You drive me on to dig deeper into culinary traditions and to come up with new ideas every day. Thank you and a big hug!

Today I’ll share the second recipe from my book with you, the colourful salad that made it onto the cover of my book and that became one of my favourites. It’s a luscious composition playing with contrasts: bitter crunchy radicchio, soft and juicy peaches, sweet oven roasted shallots, sharp Stilton, and a little thyme. It’s a beauty on your picnic blanket, a fresh addition to your brunch table, and the easiest starter for a dinner party.

The pictures of me and the picnic scene in this post were taken in July, at Villa Bologna in Malta, for an article in the Eating & Drinking Magazine.

Radicchio, Peach & Stilton Salad

 

Radicchio, Peach & Stilton Salad

Radicchio, Peach, and Roasted Shallot Salad with Blue Cheese

SERVES 2 TO 4

8 shallots, peeled and cut in half lengthwise (or 4 small red onions, peeled and cut into quarters)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Flaky sea salt
Ground pepper
5 ounces (140 g) radicchio, soft leaves only, torn into pieces
4 ripe peaches, peeled and cut into 8 wedges each
2 ounces (60 g) Fourme d’Ambert, Stilton, or any crumbly blue cheese, crumbled
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

FOR THE DRESSING

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
Fine sea salt
Ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Spread the shallots on the lined baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil, and season to taste with flaky sea salt and pepper. Gently mix with your fingers and roast for 10 minutes. Flip the shallots over and roast for another 5 minutes or until golden brown and soft. Peel any hard or burnt layers off the shallots and set them aside. You can prepare the shallots in advance; they don’t need to be warm.

For the dressing, whisk together the olive oil, both vinegars, and the honey; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Arrange the radicchio, peaches, and shallots in overlapping layers on plates, sprinkle with the crumbled cheese and thyme, drizzle with the dressing, and serve immediately.

Radicchio, Peach & Stilton Salad

 

Radicchio, Peach & Stilton Salad

 

Radicchio, Peach & Stilton Salad

Roasted Cauliflower with Capers and Preserved Lemon – and about letting go

Roasted Cauliflower with Capers and Preserved Lemon

Eat In My Kitchen will be out worldwide in 34 days (in English, on October 4th) and my German book will see the book stores even earlier, in less than a month, on September 26th. It’s becoming real. It’s the transition from a project that existed as an idea in the heads of a handful of people to a finished, physical book, which will lean against other books in book shelves and hopefully come to use in many kitchens. Soon, this transition will be complete and then it won’t just be my ‘baby’ anymore. Then it will be out in the world, it will live its own life, create lots of stories around food, and I won’t be a part of it anymore. Soon, it won’t be in my hands anymore.

You could say that it’s not really a huge difference to the blog, which is true to a certain extent. For almost 3 years I’ve been sharing my recipes (more than 600) here, in the digital world. Whoever felt inspired cooked or baked them, many sent me pictures or emails, and enjoyed it. This interaction still made me feel like I’m a part of it, a part of my Eat In My Kitchen blog that changes constantly, it grows and evolves. But the book is different, it’s done, it’s printed, it reached the warehouses already, there’s nothing I could change, even if I wanted to. Now, I have to learn to let go.

Although there’s no work left to be done on the physical book, there’s tons of organization left. My book launch events in London, Berlin, Malta, New York, and Washington seem to need my attention 24/7, there are interviews and photo shoots on my schedule, and so many things that come along with a book, things that I never thought about. It felt like a lot of work writing this book, but to send it out into the world seems even more crazy.

I have a habit, whenever my life resembles a rollercoaster, I try to be a little more disciplined and create a rhythm that I stick to. I have my rituals, I take Saturdays off, I go jogging more regularly, I set up more tea time breaks than usual, and I don’t skip dinner. It’s often quite simple, due to a lack of time and inspiration, but that doesn’t matter. I chop my vegetables, nibble on my cheese, and sip at my wine glass (not every night though). I try to create normality within the chaos, a routine, and that helps me.

My current life leads to recipes that neither require much work or time, nor many ingredients. Unfortunately, the time that’s left for my beloved grocery shopping decreased considerably in the past few months. But there’s no need to complain, those dishes created out of spontaneity taste just as good. On one of those late nights, I opened the door of my fridge, I spotted a head of cauliflower, a jar of my homemade preserved lemons, and capers from Malta. I cut the cabbage into pieces, tossed it in olive oil and my tasty preserves, and ended up with the most delicious comfort food. It was a happy night.

If you’re curious about my Eat In My Kitchen book, you can pre-order it here:

Amazon US – Amazon UK – Amazon Germany

Barnes & Noble

IndieBound

Books A Million

Roasted Cauliflower with Capers and Preserved Lemon

 

Roasted Cauliflower with Capers and Preserved Lemon

Roasted Cauliflower with Capers and Preserved Lemon

Serves 2

cored cauliflower, cut into medium pieces, 600g / 1 1/3 pounds
olive oil 60ml / 1/4 cup
preserved lemon, thinly sliced, 1/2
capers, preferably preserved in salt, rinsed, 3 tablespoons
flaky sea salt
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar

Preheat the oven to 220°C / 425°F.

Spread the cauliflower in a medium baking dish. Add the olive oil, preserved lemon, and capers and toss to combine. Season with a little flaky sea salt (mind that the capers are salty) and crushed pepper. Roast for about 18 minutes or until the cauliflower turns golden. Flip the cauliflower and roast for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown, turn on the grill (broiler) for the last few minutes, if you prefer it a bit more crispy. Serve warm or cold.

Roasted Cauliflower with Capers and Preserved Lemon

 

roastedcauliflowercaperslemon6

 

roastedcauliflowercaperslemon9

Bean and Caper Dip with Golden Sautéed Zucchini

Caper Bean Dip with golden sautéed Zucchini

Besides all the excitement that our Mediterranean summer offered last month, we also got the chance to spend a more than relaxing, but nonetheless very inspiring evening at one of our friends’ house. Alex and Benjamin live a life that’s just as busy as ours, which makes it a bit difficult to meet. They love to travel, they celebrate their weekly gatherings and dinner parties with their loved ones, and they also split their life between Malta and London. And this I’ll never understand and I’m sure you’d agree if you could see their gorgeous palazzo in the silent heart of Żebbuġ – if I lived there, I’d never leave the house! However, we managed to find a free evening, or rather a few free hours, and visited them for drinks and nibbles.

When you meet Alex, a man who seems to either work or spend his time in his beautiful kitchen (click here for pictures), you’re treated to the most scrumptious culinary pleasures. Even his ‘nibbles’ are heavenly. He’s a true connoisseur, a man who loves the fine arts, exquisite food and wine, and who’s always up for a good conversation. Alex is a critical mind and and you’ll never feel bored in his presence. Benjamin is the most beautiful person who’s helped me deal with the struggles of my current crazy life more than once. Whenever my mind and body can’t keep up with the challenges anymore that come with writing a book and organizing book launch events, I call Benjamin. He’s the best reflexologist I know and whatever problem my body comes up with, Benjamin will fix me! And if you happen to be in Malta and you have some time off, spoil yourself and book an appointment with him (I wish I could do that right now!).

But back to the nibbles: I’ve always been a huge fan of Alex’s dips. Be it hummus or smoky grilled eggplant, they are all addictive. And there’s one of his creations that struck me with its subtle salty note. I couldn’t make out what it was at first, but I loved it since I enjoyed the first bite last summer, spread lusciously on a thick slice of crusty Maltese bread. Alex purées boiled yellow split peas, mixes in chopped onion, olive oil, lots of lemon juice, and – here’s the secret – capers. The salty fruits add a special flavour, it doesn’t really taste like caper, it could also be canned tuna. I totally fell for it and couldn’t stop eating the thick spread. Now I made it at home, it was my first try, but in my version I use canned cannellini beans. They are sweet and smooth, velvety, and fit just as well to this Mediterranean composition. A few thick slices of golden sautéed zucchini, some ciabatta, and lunch – or dinner – is served.

Caper Bean Dip with golden sautéed Zucchini

 

Caper Bean Dip with golden sautéed Zucchini

Bean and Caper Dip with Golden Sautéed Zucchini

Serves 2

For the bean caper dip

rinsed and drained canned cannellini beans 360g / 13 ounces
(you could also use boiled yellow split peas as in Alex’s original recipe)
capers, preserved in salt, rinsed, 20g / 1 ounce
small shallot, roughly chopped, 1/2 -1
olive oil 60-75ml / 1/4-1/3 cup
freshly squeezed lemon juice 2 tablespoons

For serving

olive oil
small zucchini, cut into thick slices, 2
fine sea salt
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar
fresh ciabatta 1 small loaf

For the dip, purée the beans, capers, 1/2 of the shallot, 60ml / 1/4 cup of the olive oil, and lemon juice in a blender. Add more of the shallot to taste and purée until smooth. If the texture is too thick, add more olive oil, and, if necessary, season with additional lemon juice and salt to taste.

In a heavy pan, heat a splash of olive oil over high heat, turn the heat down to medium-high, and sauté the zucchinis for 1 1/2 minutes on each side or until golden with brown sprinkles. The zucchini should only start to soften outside and still have some bite on the inside. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the zucchini between plates and add a dollop of the bean caper dip. Drizzle the dip with a splash of olive oil and sprinkle with a little pepper. Serve with fresh ciabatta, enjoy warm or cold.

Caper Bean Dip with golden sautéed Zucchini

 

Caper Bean Dip with golden sautéed Zucchini

 

zucchinicaperbeandip8

 

zucchinicaperbeandip6

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