eat in my kitchen

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

Category: SANDWICH WEDNESDAYS

My Maltese Winter Sandwich: Pomegranate Chicken, Red Coleslaw & Bacon

Sponsored by Volkswagen.

My Maltese Winter Sandwich: Pomegranate Chicken , Red Coleslaw and Bacon

We drove down the winding road to the Grand Harbour in Valletta and stopped our cars in front of an old garage. The wooden door must have seen many storms, the green paint faded and the hinges rusted, it’s the salt in the air that takes over whatever it gets hold of. Our friends Michelle and Michelangelo came down to the harbour in the cutest Volkswagen beetle the world has ever seen – in baby blue (Michelangelo would correct me and say it’s Diamond Blue). Built in 1968, the car only changed owner once, when our friends bought it in 2010 from an elderly lady from the village of Qormi. It was in mint condition despite its 110,000 original kilometres. The previous owner’s name was Teresa and she became the eponym of our friend’s little love bug, since then, the beetle is affectionately called Terez.

Terez – and her original 1300cc single port engine, a fact that Michelangelo points out with pride in his voice – has seen a lot since she found her new owner: four overland trips, the latest being our friend’s honeymoon trip last summer. The three of them (including Terez) attended the Le Bug Show 2016 in Spa and crossed half of Europe to get there. Malta, Sicily, France, Switzerland, Belgium, and Germany added 5,400 kilometres to the tachometer and seemed to have made the bond between the car and its owners even stronger.

Every car needs a check up once in a while, especially when it’s nearly 50 years old, and to make it a little more fun, I joined my friends and brought some food and my camera. While Michelangelo laid hands on the tires, I kept mine busy preparing sandwiches for all of us. It’s the peak of winter, a time of year when I usually have to confront Berlin’s seemingly endless, yawning grey sky for weeks and months, but here in Malta I’m spoilt with sunshine and vibrant colours. This inspired me to come up with a snack as fresh and bright as the Mediterranean world around me. It’s a chicken sandwich, the meat tender and thinly sliced, with purple coleslaw and orange wedges, sparkling pomegranate seeds (some of which I turned into a sticky syrup), crunchy bacon bites, and pungent green onions. The composition is rather difficult to eat, but trust me, the pleasure that you’ll feel when you taste it, is absolutely worth it. And the solution is simple, just squeeze it until the sticky juices run out of the sandwich and soak the soft bread – it’s a heavenly mess.

Thank you Michelle, Michelangelo, and Terez for a wonderful morning in Valletta!

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

My Maltese Winter Sandwich: Pomegranate Chicken , Red Coleslaw and Bacon

 

My Maltese Winter Sandwich: Pomegranate Chicken , Red Coleslaw and Bacon

My Maltese Winter Sandwich: Pomegranate Chicken, Red Coleslaw, Orange and Bacon

Makes 6 sandwiches

For the coleslaw

cored red cabbage, cut into thin strips, about 230g / 1/2 pound
fine sea salt
yoghurt 5-6 tablespoons
freshly squeezed orange juice
ground pepper

For the pomegranate syrup

pomegranate juice 180ml / 3/4 cup
granulated sugar 4 1/2 tablespoons

For the sandwich

olive oil
chicken breast 400g / 14 ounces
fine sea salt
ground pepper
bacon 6 slices
lettuce leaves 6
white buns (or ciabatta cut into buns), cut in half, 6
oranges, peeled and cut into filets, 1-2
the seeds of 1 pomegranate
green onions, the green part cut into thin slices, 1
freshly grated orange zest, about 1 tablespoon

For the coleslaw, in a large bowl, mix the cabbage and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and, using your fingers, rub the salt into the cabbage. Let it sit for about 15-20 minutes. Add the yoghurt and orange juice, mix well, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F.

For the pomegranate syrup, in a saucepan, bring the pomegranate juice and the sugar to the boil and cook over medium-high heat (it should bubble) for about 7 minutes or until it starts to thicken. Set the syrup aside.

In a heavy pan, heat a splash of olive oil over high heat and cook the chicken breast for a couple minutes on each side until golden, you might have to reduce the heat to medium-high. Season with salt and pepper to taste and transfer the chicken to a baking dish. Roast in the oven for about 8 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Check with a skewer, only clear juices should come out. Let the chicken rest in aluminium foil for about 5 minutes. Cut the chicken into slices (about 18 slices for 6 sandwiches).

In a large heavy pan, heat a splash of olive oil and cook the bacon for a few minutes on both sides until golden brown and crisp. Transfer to paper towels, let it cool for a few minutes, then break the bacon into pieces.

Divide the lettuce leaves between the bottoms of the buns and arrange the chicken on top, drizzle with a little of the pomegranate syrup. Spread a heaping tablespoon of coleslaw, 2-3 orange filets, and some pomegranate seeds on top of the chicken. Sprinkle with the sliced green onion, bacon bites, and orange zest, and drizzle with additional pomegranate syrup. Close the bun, squeeze, and enjoy!

My Maltese Winter Sandwich: Pomegranate Chicken , Red Coleslaw and Bacon

 

My Maltese Winter Sandwich: Pomegranate Chicken , Red Coleslaw and Bacon

 

My Maltese Winter Sandwich: Pomegranate Chicken , Red Coleslaw and Bacon

 

My Maltese Winter Sandwich: Pomegranate Chicken , Red Coleslaw and Bacon

 

My Maltese Winter Sandwich: Pomegranate Chicken , Red Coleslaw and Bacon-2

 

My Maltese Winter Sandwich: Pomegranate Chicken , Red Coleslaw and Bacon

 

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Spinach and Chèvre Sandwich & my London book launch at the Maltese embassy

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

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.

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

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.

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

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.

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch-2

Spinach and Chèvre Sandwich

Makes 2 sandwiches

spinach leaves, a large handful, about 140g / 5 ounces
fine sea salt
ground pepper
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.

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Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

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Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch-4

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

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Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

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Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

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Spinach Chèvre Sandwich In Carrozza

A Mediterranean Ħobż biż-Żejt sandwich and the most emotional book launch in Malta

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

So many emotions, tears and laughter, lots of food and wine, family and friends – I had the best time in Malta and enjoyed every moment of my second book launch event. Our plane landed late on our little island the Mediterranean, it was past midnight when I stepped out into Malta’s humid air. However, it wasn’t too late for a chat in the kitchen and a large piece of the island’s famous lampuki pie (only in season during September and October). I slept like a stone that night which was good, as the next days were packed with excitement.

My mother arrived a day before us, so we had a date, early in the morning. My man and I went up to Valletta to meet her for breakfast and then we went on a mission. The three of us drove to Sliema, to Daniela Bonello’s gorgeous shop Liu Jo, to find a dress for my first TV interview. I had no idea how this premiere would turn out, so I wanted to look pretty at least, in case I made a fool of myself. We had fun and found my new favourite dress, it’s cut perfectly and still allows me to eat as much as I want – an ideal dress in my eyes. Afterwards, we had enough time for a short dip in the clear blue sea and a drink to celebrate our reunion at our beloved beach bar, at Exiles. Knowing what was soon to come, we enjoyed the calm before the storm, before books and drinks had to be picked up for the big event on the following day, before phone calls and last minute decisions had to be made; and so the afternoon flew by.

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

The evening turned into a far bigger (and more excessive) feast than expected, we met family and friends at Chris’ Legligin Wine BarWe ate Maltese tapas, drank local wine, and then at the end, late at night, Chris sang a song for us to celebrate the Eat In My Kitchen book. There was a moment that I’ll never forget, I looked into my mama’s eyes and both of us couldn’t stop smiling. It might not have been responsible to indulge in the pleasures of this long night a day before a book launch, but it would have been a sin to miss it. Although we all felt a bit rough the next morning, no one had any regrets.

The good thing about a busy event day is that there isn’t really enough time to be nervous and think about what’s going on. I got up, dressed up, drove to the TVM station, and started the interview before I even noticed that we were live on air. It was all over after just a few minutes and I found myself surprised, happy, and relieved in front of the TVM building. Thank you Ben Camilleri for inviting me to Twelve to 3! You can watch my interview here.

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

When we packed the car with all the things you need at a book launch (a lot!), we noticed that we didn’t really think about where my mama would sit. Both of us dressed up in pretty dresses, we squeezed ourselves onto the front seat of our wobbly jeep (my mother says this car feels like a boat) and arrived safely in front of the impressive gates of the stunning Villa Bologna. Jasper de Trafford and his lovely mother Charlotte were so kind to share the baroque gardens of their beautiful villa with us for our special night. Villa Bologna is one of these places that feels unreal when you see it for the first time. It’s too beautiful, too special, too out of this world, it’s simply too perfect to be true. I fell in love with the building, but even more so with its gardens. To have been able to celebrate my Malta book launch right there, is a great gift, it’s a precious memory that I’ll never forget in my whole life. Thank you Jasper and Charlotte!

The night flew by far too quickly, as always when life feels so good that you could hug the whole world. There were only smiling faces around me, friends and family who are close to me, but also people who I’ve never met before who just seemed so happy to see their local culinary treasures in a book. I don’t know of another country where people support each other so genuinely. I felt so much love that night, so much excitement. When I held my speech – the most emotional of all my speeches so far – I felt my heart pumping like a race car, but at the same time it felt so good to be surrounded by all my loved ones. By my mama, who inspired me to write this book, by my man who goes through the roughest times with me no matter what obstacles we find in front of us, my Maltese mama Jenny who brought so much joy – and her son – into my life. Prestel UK’s PR executive, Emma Cook, who flew down from London to welcome our guests together with Peter Carbonaro, our dear friend who came straight from Ibiza to join our celebrations. Mr Cini, my salt man from Gozo and his wife Rose, their daughter Josephine and her family, they all came from Gozo just for this night. And then, when my salt family met my honey man, Arnold Grech, we witnessed one of the many highlights of this night. It was a moment that we’ll all never forget, two of Malta’s food ambassadors met in front of the historic setting of Villa Bologna. Mama, stuttering and in awe, said ‘this is like a Fellini movie’. I usually wouldn’t choose this word, but here it fits perfectly, this moment was epic.

Luckily, lots of pictures were taken by the great photographer Kris Micallef, thank you for catching all these unforgettable memories. The lights went off in the magical gardens of Villa Bologna, and then, just happiness, and a last glass of wine in Valletta at The Harbour Club before I said goodnight to my Malta, and went to bed.

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

When I decided to jump into my extensive book tour in Europe and in the US, I made a wise choice. I knew that I wouldn’t have enough time to cook the recipes from my book myself. In Malta, I had the helping hands from my dear friend Marina Fabic, I wouldn’t have managed this without her. She’s an angel and a fantastic chef, thank you for your belief, support, and help, my friend! Dani Vella, the young founder of Flora’s in Naxxar, baked the cakes for our event and she and her team made my creations look even prettier than in my book. You guys are amazing, thank you! There’s one recipe in the sweet chapter of my book, which isn’t my own, it’s Joanna Bonnici’s delicious Pudina. When I tried this local speciality at her house for the first time, I knew I’d need her Maltese bread pudding recipe if there was ever an Eat In My Kitchen book. I wrote a book, Joanna gave me her family recipe, and now we’re both in a book. Joanna is the sweetest mama, she’s a true inspiration in the kitchen, and the right person to talk to if you want to learn about Maltese cuisine.

I wanted my book launch events to be like a family feast, or like a relaxed dinner party with friends, with good food and lots of wine. And we managed so far. A great man and connoisseur, Karl Chetcuti from the Meridiana Wine Estate Malta, is the reason why we have exceptional wine at all of my book launch events. Karl, without you and your wine, my book tour wouldn’t taste as good and it wouldn’t be as much fun either. Thank you for supporting me and even traveling through Europe with us.

The event in Malta was the biggest of all of them, there were more than 120 people. As I saw our guestlist becoming longer and longer, I called for help. Brian Calleja from Island Caterers answered immediately and sent me Jesmond and his colleagues. From that moment, I didn’t have to worry about anything. They set up all we needed, served our dishes, and had the whole event under control until the last guests disappeared and silence returned to the gardens of Villa Bologna. Thank you!

And last but not least, a shout-out to Jo Caruana and Iggy Fenech, my fabulous PR team in Malta. You took care of this event, you spread the word about the Eat In My Kitchen book, and you’ve both done an amazing job. You can see, read, and watch many of the articles and interviews initiated by this power duo under Press.

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

And then the calm came back. On the last night before my mother left the island, we enjoyed an unforgettable dinner at Rita’s Lapsi View. We were the only guests sitting outside, as a chilled breeze blew over the cliffs. The view was too good and the silence out there too tempting to leave our table and go inside (which is also quite an experience, thanks to the restaurant’s original 60s interior, and hopefully it’ll never change!). The owner had to be waiter and chef that night, usually he’s neither, but he didn’t mind. He only asked my mother for help, to mix our Aperol Spritz, an offer that she gladly excepted. She went straight behind the bar and our chef started cooking.

I’ve eaten at Rita’s very often, and it’s always good, but this night’s dinner was outstanding: raw and grilled Maltese prawns, calamari and caponata, pasta rizzi (sea urchin), a whole St. Peters fish cooked to perfection, and freshly baked mqaret. It was a feast – another one. At the beginning of our extensive dinner, as we enjoyed the last sips of our drinks mixed by mama, looking into the golden sunset, our chef teased our appetite with a Maltese classic: the popular Ħobż biż-Żejt. Thick slices of Maltese sourdough bread spread with olive oil and kunserva, a concentrated, sweet tomato paste. The most basic version would be to season it with salt and pepper, at Rita‘s they add thin slices of raw red onion and fresh mint leaves. My mama almost went ecstatic, she was so impressed by the flavours and the simplicity of this local pleasure.

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

And this is the recipe I’ll share with you today. I mentioned last week that I’ll only be able to write about quick and easy creations while I’m on my book tour. I love to be on the road, I enjoy this adventure to the fullest, but when I have a few days at home, I can’t tell you how much I treasure some bread, cheese, and nibbles in my own kitchen. I just have to make my Maltese sandwich and all the beautiful memories of the craziest week in Malta come back. Ħobż biż-Żejt is great for breakfast, a delicious lunch snack, and a fantastic (and very easy) appetizer for your next dinner party.

You can see all the pictures of the book launch in Malta taken by Kris Micallef here.

Thank you Malta! xx

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch-3

Ħobż biż-Żejt

Serves 2

white rustic bread, 2 large, thick slices
olive oil, about 2 tablespoons
kunserva (tomato paste), about 1-2 tablespoons
flaky sea salt
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar
medium red onion, cut into very thin strips, 1/4
fresh mint leaves, a small handful

Drizzle the bread generously with olive oil, then spread with kunserva and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cut the bread in half and sprinkle with onion and mint. Serve and enjoy!

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

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Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

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Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

Beluga Lentil Burger with Mozzarella, Pomegranate and Dukkah

Lentil Burger with Mozzarella, Pomegranate and Dukkah

My late summer of 2016 feels like a mental and emotional roller coaster. And when there’s too much work to be done it’s so easy to panic, to be overwhelmed or to just give up. But I believe that we don’t give up because there are wonderful people around all of us who catch us when we fall.

Many people catch me at the moment, some must already have sore arms and I can’t thank them enough for being there for me and going through this rather intense time together with me. They listen to a crazy woman whose first cookbook will come out soon, in just a few days, and whose ups and downs can be more than tiring. They listen to me, they cook for me, they calm me down, and make me laugh. Many of them have been in my life for years and years, some I’ve only met a few days, weeks, or months ago. This post is for all these amazing people around me, thank you!

When I needed a spontaneous translation of a press release from English to Maltese a few days ago, I could count on my dear friend Jessica who even worked on it during a camping trip on the weekend. And Nikola, who I never even met before, made it possible to proof read it within a couple hours after I got in touch. My boyfriend is my rock, there wouldn’t be this book without him, and Eat In My Kitchen wouldn’t be as inspired as it is – my man is the biggest joy one can possibly have in life. The other day I was looking for accommodation in New York and someone who I haven’t even met before helped me out without hesitation. And when I was chatting with Hetty McKinnon from Arthur’s Street Kitchen about a meet in your kitchen feature this week, I mentioned that I’m planning my book launch event in NY at the moment and that I was struggling. It’s a bit tricky when you’re on another continent, everything takes much longer. Within a split second, Hetty offered to cook my recipes for my book launch event in Manhattan. I could go on and on, the list of people who’ve helped and supported me is long and I know it will become longer and longer in the next few weeks.

We’re not alone, and that’s wonderful, there are times to help others and there are times to receive help from the people around us. We should never forget that we’re not alone.

I dedicate this recipe to everyone who has helped me, to my friends, my family, and everybody who I met and will meet on this journey and who makes it even better. It’s a recipe that combines different tastes and textures: nutty Beluga lentil burgers and creamy mozzarella di bufala sprinkled with fragrant dukkah spice and nut mixture and juicy pomegranate. It’s as vibrant, rich, and colourful as we all are. You can turn it into a sandwich, as I did, but that’s not even necessary.

A big hug to all you wonderful people around me! xx

Lentil Burger with Mozzarella, Pomegranate and Dukkah

 

Lentil Burger with Mozzarella, Pomegranate and Dukkah

Beluga Lentil Burger with Mozzarella, Pomegranate and Dukkah

Makes 2 sandwiches

For the dukkah

30 g (1 ounce)
 skin-on hazelnuts
30 g (1 ounce)
 salted pistachios
30 g (1 ounce)
 white sesame seeds
30 g (1 ounce) 
sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed with a mortar and pestle
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed with a mortar and pestle
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed with a mortar and pestle
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

For the lentil burgers

1 bay leaf
2 small sprigs fresh lemon thyme
60 g (2 ounces) beluga lentils (no soaking required)
40 g (1 1/2 ounces) drained canned cannellini beans, rinsed and roughly mashed with a fork
1
 spring onion (green part only), thinly sliced
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1 large egg
40 g (1 1/2 ounces) Parmesan, finely grated
20 g (2 tablespoons) dry breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
ground pepper
olive oil, to cook the burgers

For the sandwiches

2 rustic white buns, cut in half
4 lettuce leaves
125 g (4 1/2 ounces) mozzarella di bufala, torn into small pieces
olive oil
1/2 pomegranate
1-2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest

You won’t need all of the dukkah for this recipe. Store leftover dukkah in an airtight container and use it in salads and soups.

For the dukkah, pulse the ingredients in a food processor until crumbly—the mixture should be dry—and transfer to a bowl or an airtight jar.

For the lentil burgers: Fill a large pot with water, the bay leaf, and thyme. Add the beluga lentils and bring to the boil. Cook, according to the package instructions, for about 18-20 minutes. The lentils should have some bite. Remove and discard the herbs, drain the lentils, and let cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the lentils with the beans, 3/4 of the spring onion, the garlic, egg, Parmesan, breadcrumbs, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Use your hands or a large spoon to mix until well combined. Wet your hands and form the mixture into 6 burgers.

In a large, heavy pan, heat a generous splash of olive oil over medium-high heat. Turn the heat down to medium and cook the burgers, flipping once, for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Transfer to the lined baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes in the oven.

Divide the lettuce leaves, lentil burgers, and mozzarella among the sandwiches and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds, fresh lemon zest, the remaining spring onion, and some dukkah. Close the sandwiches and enjoy!

Lentil Burger with Mozzarella, Pomegranate and Dukkah

 

Lentil Burger with Mozzarella, Pomegranate and Dukkah

 

Lentil Burger with Mozzarella, Pomegranate and Dukkah

Spiced Plum and Cheese Omelette Ciabatta Sandwich

Spiced Plum and Cheese Omelette Ciabatta Sandwich

The changing of the seasons, the short gap before the next season takes over, is a great gift. It’s a time that tends to fill me with great excitement. Autumn’s waiting in the wings, yet summer isn’t ready to say goodbye. There’s no need to rush, I can indulge in Vorfreude – the German word for the happiness and excitement that we feel before a special event. The idea of coziness and comfort food, long walks in the forest and snuggly sofa time is already more than appealing. I replace my flowery dresses with a pair of jeans and a cardigan and spend just as much time outside as I did in the past few months. The sun is lower and wraps the world around me in a gorgeous golden glow, everything looks softer and warmer. My appetite shifts from lighter treats to the richer pleasures of the kitchen, and my mood is full of joy and curiosity for everything that the next couple months will bring into my life.

Cooking plums with spices is a celebration of late summer, but with a subtle nod towards the festive season. I had this aromatic duo in mind when Leerdammer asked me to create a new sandwich, a sandwich that fits my current mood. The fruit caramelized in sugar, cinnamon, and coriander seeds, sits on top of a rich cheese omelette. This whole juicy joy is layered in a soft ciabatta bread, sprinkled with a bit of fresh thyme. Just one bite and I’m ready to celebrate the season. I love to indulge in the produce that every month of the year offers, especially when there’s fresh bread on the table: Be it in my Cheese, Bacon, and Egg Sandwich with Garden Vegetables, a summery light creation in June, or the pleasures of zucchini cheese fritters and strawberries piled between two slices of bread. Maybe I should come up with a sandwich calendar one day.

I usually spend late September and October experimenting with roots and winter squash, with grapes, plums, and apples. I try out new meat dishes and enjoy my trusted classics. But this year, I’ll ‘lose’ a month in the kitchen. I’ll be traveling through Europe and the US pretty much all of October to launch my book and to finally present my recipes, printed on paper, physically and not just in the digital spheres of the world. As much as I know that I’ll miss my kitchen, I can’t say that this circumstance fills me with sadness. I’m nervous, excited, even a bit hysterical at times, but I can’t wait to finally open the pages of the Eat In My kitchen book and show it to all the people who I’m going to meet soon.

To make up for the kitchen break ahead of me, I spent the past few weeks cooking and baking with all the ingredients that I’ll miss out on. Plums are at the top of my list – for sweet and savoury dishes. If I had to choose one flavour to describe this time of the year, it would be plums. I love their sour fruitiness, especially cooked, in combination with aromatic spices. Add them to a bowl of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream and you can still taste summer, turn them into a fragrant chutney and stir them into the thick sauce of a venison stew in a couple months and you’re ready for winter. Dumplings, jam, cakes, or sandwiches, there’s no recipe that this fruit can’t deal with.

The preparation of a little sandwich masterpiece is usually not particularly time-consuming, but the result can easily be unforgettable. Leerdammer came up with a website where you can choose a sandwich that fits your own or a friend’s mood and send it as a greeting card to your loved ones. You might not share your sandwich, but you can at least share the good feeling that it creates.

This post has been sponsored by Leerdammer.

Spiced Plum and Cheese Omelette Ciabatta Sandwich

 

Spiced Plum and Cheese Omelette Ciabatta Sandwich

Spiced Plum and Cheese Omelette Ciabatta Sandwich

Makes 2 Sandwiches

For the caramelized plums

granulated sugar 2 tablespoons
unsalted butter 2 tablespoons
coriander seeds, crushed in a mortar, 1 teaspoon
ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon
large plums, cut into quarters, 4

For the omelette

organic eggs 3
heavy cream 60ml / 1/4 cup
freshly grated nutmeg
fine sea salt
ground pepper
butter 1 teaspoon

For the sandwich

lettuce leaves 2-4
small ciabatta bread, cut into 2 buns, each cut in half, 1
Leerdammer cheese, thinly sliced, about 60g / 2 ounces
a few fresh thyme leaves
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar

For the caramelized plums, in a medium, heavy pan, heat the sugar, butter, and spices over medium high heat, stir, and add the plums as soon as the butter is golden and sizzling. Cook the plums for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden and soft. Turn them gently one by one, and mind that they keep their shape. Take the pan off the heat.

For the omelette, whisk the eggs and heavy cream and season with nutmeg, salt, and ground pepper. In a small, heavy or non-stick pan, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Pour the egg mixture into the pan, scramble very lightly and fold onto itself. When the bottom side starts to become golden flip the omelette around. Cook it shortly from the other side for about a minute or until the omelette is just set. Take the pan off the heat and cut the omelette into large chunks.

Arrange the lettuce on top of the two bottoms of the buns. Divide the warm omelette between the buns, spread the cheese on top, then finish it off with the warm caramelized plums. Pour the buttery juices from the pan used for the plums over the fruit and sprinkle with thyme and a little crushed black pepper. Close the bun, squeeze a little – gently! – and enjoy!

Spiced Plum and Cheese Omelette Ciabatta Sandwich

 

Spiced Plum and Cheese Omelette Ciabatta Sandwich

 

Spiced Plum and Cheese Omelette Ciabatta Sandwich

 

Spiced Plum and Cheese Omelette Ciabatta Sandwich

 

Spiced Plum and Cheese Omelette Ciabatta Sandwich

 

spicedplumscheeseomelettesandwich10

meet in your kitchen | Stephanie Le’s Japanese Inspired Avocado Toast

StephanieLe1

When I started my blog back in November 2013, I didn’t really have much of an idea of what was going on in the food blog scene. It was all new to me and I was curious to see what it would be like to write about my food and share a recipe every day – my chosen task for the first 12 months of blogging. So in the beginning, I focussed a lot on my own work, but then, in the cold early days of 2014, I began to discover more and more bloggers, their approach to food, their recipes, and their style of writing. It was a whole new world to me. And when I saw the food photography on some of these pages, I knew I had to improve considerably behind the camera!

One of those blogs caught my attention at first sight. I Am A Food Blog is written by Stephanie Le from Canada. Her dishes sound and look delicious and the photography is just stunning. It didn’t surprise me in the least bit that she published her first cookbook, Easy Gourmet, in the same year I ‘found’ her. There are three things that strike me in Stephanie’s work: Her easy way of cooking – it’s not fussy at all – her unique, clean style of presenting her creations, and the fact that the world meets in Stephanie’s kitchen. You can find Canadian classics next to Chinese, Japanese, British, French, or Mediterranean dishes. It’s all comfort food, it’s all yummy, and, most of the time, it’s relatively quick and easy to prepare. The young cosmopolitan woman likes to travel the world, literally, but also in her cooking.

Camping is one of Stephanie’s latest, re-discovered travel adventures and her Camp One Pot Beef Stroganoff leaves no doubt that she’s a pro in the wilderness. The recipe she shared with me would also be a great snack for this lonely life, out in a tent, unplugged and cut off from civilization: A Japanese inspired Avocado Toast. For those days when even a camper needs a special treat.

StephanieLe6.2

Japanese Inspired Avocado Toast 

This toast is perfect when I have a sushi craving but also want avocado toast. I love a crunchy toast base and the roast-y saltiness of laver pairs perfectly with creamy avocado. The salty ikura are tiny pops of brightness and the sesame seeds add a bit of nuttiness. Seriously good!

Makes 10-12 toasts

avocado 1
toast or baguette 10-12 thin slices
baby arugula 1 handful
laver (roasted seaweed) 6 pieces
ikura (salmon roe) 1-2 tablespoons (leave out the roe for a vegetarian version)
toasted white and black sesame seeds
salt
ground pepper

Place the avocado on a cutting board and cut lengthwise, in the middle carefully, rotating around the seed. Twist half of the avocado off and remove. Place the remaining half (with the pit) on a dish towel and carefully tap your knife into the pit so that it wedges itself in. Twist the knife and remove the pit. Place the avocado, cut side down on to your cutting board and peel off the skin. Cut into 10-12 thin slices.

Top slices of toast with arugula, half a piece of laver, 2 avocado slices, a bit of the ikura, sesame seeds and salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

StephanieLe6

When did you start your food blog I Am A Food Blog? What got you hooked on writing about food and recipes?

My husband and I started I am a Food Blog in 2012 – it was after our other food blog, where I cooked through the entire Momofuku cookbook. Cooking through Momofuku is where I learned to love blogging – taking the photos, working through recipes, and sharing stories.

You just started a camping series on your blog. What do you love about camping? What are your favourite camping spots?

Camping is just fun – it’s always hard for me to unplug and stay away from the internet. I’m pretty much addicted. So camping is a fun (and enforced) way to take a break from the internet. My husband and I hike, sit around the fire, have heart-to-hearts and generally appreciate nature. We love camping along the West Coast – all of the National and State Parks in the US have really nice sites, but they book up fast.

Can you give us some catering tips for life in a tent?

Cooking while camping isn’t really a wing it sort of thing, so make sure you’re prepared. Make a list and check it twice! I like to measure out ingredients before hand and I also like to collect tiny condiments (like tiny ketchup packets) so I can bring them along. It’s best to also consider cooking fuel – recipes that don’t take a long time to cook are best.

Which city in the world inspires you the most when it comes to food culture and why?

I love Japan and Japanese food, so I’d have to say Tokyo. And the beauty of Tokyo is that they have myriad of other types of cuisines too, so it’s very inspiring. I love their attention to detail.

You live in Vancouver, Canada, what do you like about Canadian food?

I love that Canada is multicultural. We have so many different people from different cultures here that there is a very diverse food scene, especially in Vancouver. I think everyone thinks of poutine (crispy fries topped with squeaky cheese curds and gravy) when they think of Canadian food and I have to say, I do love it. When I don’t have poutine for a while I definitely crave it. It’s a guilty pleasure.

You call your husband your chief taste-tester, do you also cook together with him?

Yes! We actually work on the blog together – he designed the site and takes photos as well. He’s actually the one who taught me to take photos. He doesn’t cook for the blog, mostly just for us, family and friends. He’s really good at things that take a long time, like soups and stews.

Did cooking and food play an important role in your family when you grew up? When did your love for the kitchen and its creations start?

I actually didn’t like food much when I was a little kid. I was super picky. Although I remember having a play kitchen that I was obsessed with. My mom gave it away when I was at school one day and I was devastated. My mom cooks a lot, both now and when we were little, so I think I learned my love for cooking from her, through osmosis.

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

To be honest, I don’t remember what the first thing I cooked on my own was. I do remember baking cupcakes at day care, being extremely proud and bringing one for my mom to try.

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

It would definitely be a DIY type meal: maybe tacos, or Vietnamese vermicelli bowls, or build your own salad. Something like that. I like interactive meals where everyone can make things to their individual tastes.

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

I loved cereal when I was a kid. I used to eat it exclusively. Now, it would be entirely too difficult to choose, I love so many things. I could never give up noodles, that’s for sure.

Do you prefer to cook on your own or together with others?

I would say I like cooking with others, but my husband wouldn’t agree (laughing). I do love collaborating, but maybe I’m not so good at it?

Which meals do you prefer, improvised or planned?

I like both! I like the casualness of improvised meals, but if I feel any sort of pressure at all, I will need to plan because I’m a planner. I think the best of both world would be having an extremely well stocked fridge and pantry so that I could improvise without constraints.

Thank you Stephanie!

StephanieLe3

 

StephanieLe | I Am A Food Blog

 

StephanieLe6.3

 

StephanieLe7

Bacon, Egg and Cheese Sandwich with Garden Vegetables

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich with Garden Vegetables

In a couple weeks we’ll be off to Malta and my heart is already there. There isn’t a single day that passes without thinking of my family and friends in the Mediterranean. With every month that summer gets closer, I feel the urge to go there and the pain of not yet being there becomes almost unbearable. As much as I love Berlin – it’s my home – I see myself spending far more time on my beloved archipelago south of Sicily.

You can ask any Maltese person living abroad what he or she misses the most and almost everybody will tell you the sea and family. I’m not Maltese, but I agree. With every passing year I feel closer and closer to the life we live there. Being surrounded by the sea and the people who are so important in my life is a great gift I don’t really want to let go off, but it’s also the food, the pace, the culture and lifestyle that makes me miss this place so much.

In two weeks I’ll be starting my days with a cup of tea in my Maltese mama’s garden, sitting under her citrus trees. Then I’ll pick some honey sweet fruits and crisp vegetables from my favourite mobile vegetable truck in Msida and prepare a luscious breakfast. For whatever reason we started the ritual to have very opulent and rich breakfast sandwiches when we live in the South. If we leave out my spontaneous (but very regular) visits to bakeries, cafés and pastizzi shops, we only eat twice during the day: before we go to the beach and afterwards, and both meals are little feasts. We end our days with Mediterranean inspired dishes but we start the day following the small country’s British tradition. There are fried eggs, different kind of cheese, and a bit of meat on the table. Be it crisp bacon or a selection of course sausages from our butcher in Sliema – classic Maltese style with fennel and coriander or English sausage with apple and sage – our breakfast is quite a hearty affair, often sandwiched between two slices of Malta’s amazing sourdough bread. But what comes with baked beans in the cold North is served with fresh garden vegetables in the South. Juicy cucumber and tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, or sautéed zucchini – qarabali in Maltese – there are always the freshest fruits from the garden involved. You could easily leave out the meat and keep it light and vegetarian, sliced fennel bulb, sautéed onions, or a juicy caponata are nice too, but the current star of the toast scene – thinly sliced avocado – made it into my creation, along with cucumber and red bell pepper.

This is the third sandwich of the tasty trilogy I created for Leerdamer:

Grilled Persimmon, Ham and Cheese Sandwich with Basil

Zucchini Cheese Fritter Sandwich with Strawberries and Lemon Balm

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich with Garden Vegetables

 

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich with Garden Vegetables

Egg, Bacon and Cheese Sandwich with Garden Vegetables

Makes 2 large sandwiches

olive oil
breakfast bacon 8 slim slices
organic eggs 4
flaky sea salt
peppercorns, crushed in a mortar
large rustic buns, cut in half, 2
Leerdammer cheese, or another mild hard cheese, very thinly sliced, about 170g / 6 ounces
small red bell pepper (and or tomato), cut into rings, 1
small organic cucumber, rinsed and scrubbed, very thinly sliced with a mandoline or cheese slicer, 1
medium ripe avocado, very thinly sliced with a mandoline or cheese slicer, 1

In a heavy pan, heat a splash of olive oil and cook the bacon until golden brown and crispy. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper, but leave the fat in the pan.

In the pan used to cook the bacon, cook the eggs for a few minutes until the egg yolk is still liquid, season with flaky sea salt and crushed pepper.

Divide the cheese between the bottom sides of the buns and arrange the bacon and vegetables on top. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Finish it off with 2 eggs for each sandwich and close the bun. Squeeze and enjoy!

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich with Garden Vegetables

 

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich with Garden Vegetables

 

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich with Garden Vegetables

 

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich with Garden Vegetables

 

cheeseeggvegsandwich10

Zucchini Cheese Fritter Sandwich with Strawberries and Lemon Balm

Zucchini Cheese Fritter and Strawberry Sandwich

A lusciously filled sandwich will always excite me. It only needs the right combination of flavours and textures to lift this comfort treat to new heights. Playing with contrast is a good way to start: soft and crunchy, fresh and creamy, sweet and salty – there are endless possibilities to create a little firework between two slices of bread.

If you follow the seasons, you can find inspiration in the pantry during the colder months of the year or while strolling through the farmers’s market to see what nature offers as soon as it gets warmer. And that’s what I did. Although I can find zucchini all year round, it’s only at the peak of spring that squash is finally packed with sweetness again. Mine comes straight from the fields in Italy and it has all the qualities it needs to become golden fried fritters. Mix in some cheese and lemon balm and you have a fragrant little snack on your plate. My cheese of choice is Leerdammer, which worked so wonderfully well in my Grilled Persimmon, Ham, and Cheese Sandwich. It’s not too overpowering next to the zucchini yet adds its particular subtle sweetness. Bringing in lemon balm makes it fresh and citrusy. And don’t be distracted by the strawberries graciously arranged on top, it may seem a bit brave but their sweet-sour fruitiness makes the composition complete.

This sandwich is just right for a decadent breakfast, a springy lunch, or a cozy dinner enjoyed on the sofa. And it works just as well without the bread: arrange the warm zucchini cheese fritters on plates along with fresh strawberries, sprinkle with lemon balm, and scatter some grated cheese and pink peppercorns all over this colourful feast.

This post is sponsored by Leerdammer.

Zucchini Cheese Fritter and Strawberry Sandwich

Zucchini Cheese Fritter Sandwich with Strawberries and Lemon Balm

Makes 3 sandwiches

For the zucchini cheese fritters

zucchini, grated, 450g / 1 pound
fine sea salt
spring onions, the green only, thinly sliced, 2 (about 2 tablespoons)
mild hard cheese, freshly grated, 30g / 1 ounce
organic egg, lightly beaten, 1
fresh lemon balm, finely chopped, 1 tablespoon
a generous amount of ground pepper
plain flour 40g / 1/3 cup
olive oil, to cook the fritters

fresh ciabatta, about 6 slices
rucola 1 handful
Leerdammer cheese, thinly sliced, about 6 slices
ripe strawberries, hulled and cut in half lengthwise, 6
pink peppercorns
fresh lemon balm, about 9 leaves

For the zucchini cheese fritters, in a large bowl, combine the grated zucchini and 1 teaspoon of salt. Rub the salt into the squash and let it sit for 10 minutes. Drain the zucchini and squeeze it in your hands. Spread the zucchini on a kitchen towel, cover with a second towel, and squeeze out any remaining liquid.

In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, spring onion, grated cheese, egg, chopped lemon balm, pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Add the flour in batches and mix with your hands or a large spoon until well combined.

In a large, heavy pan, heat a generous splash of olive oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add 2 tablespoons of the zucchini mixture for each fritter to the pan; give the fritter a round shape and flatten it lightly. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown, flip the fritters over, and turn down the heat to medium. Cook for another 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer the fritters to paper towels and cover with a lid while cooking the remaining fritters, add more oil if necessary. This makes about 6-7 zucchini fritters.

For the sandwiches, spread a little rucola on 3 slices of bread. Cover each slice with 2 slices of cheese and 2 warm fritters and finish it off with 4 strawberry halves. Sprinkle with pink peppercorns and a few lemon balm leaves and close with a slice of bread. Squeeze the sandwich – gently – and enjoy.

Zucchini Cheese Fritter and Strawberry Sandwich

 

Zucchini Cheese Fritter and Strawberry Sandwich

 

zucchinicheesefritterstrawberrysandwich6

 

zucchinicheesefritterstrawberrysandwich7

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