eat in my kitchen

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Category: TO COOK

Spaghetti with Asparagus, Burrata and Ramp Pesto

Spaghetti with Asparagus, Burrata and Pesto

I think spring is my favourite season – until I feel the same in summer, autumn, or winter, depending on my mood. Spring offers a lot of drama and surprises. The changeover from the cold season is so drastic, so abrupt. There’s so much energy around and inside me all of a sudden without even knowing where it’s coming from. The temperature rises, nature’s sprouting and flourishing at every corner, adding colour to a scene that was brown and grey only a few weeks ago. I welcome these changes with gushing excitement and open the doors to my kitchen for all those greens that are soon to come to my cooking space.

In the past couple weeks, the fragile leaves of fragrant ramps brought Mediterranean pesto back to our table. And crisp asparagus is next. The official harvest start of the white asparagus from Beelitz happened last week, so let the feasting begin! When I eat the white stalks, I’m quite a traditionalist. Young potatoes, ham, and Hollandaise sauce is all I need. But when it comes to green asparagus, I become more experimental.

This little lunch was as simple as it was stunning: I added the green stalks, boiled and very thinly sliced, to a plate of warm spaghetti, burrata (mozzarella di Bufala would also work), and ramp pesto. You could also go for a basil or arugula (rucola) pesto, but I enjoyed the subtle oniony flavour in my green creation. In case you disagree, you’ll find the links to all three pesto recipes below. Buon Appetito!

Spaghetti with Asparagus, Burrata and Pesto

Spaghetti with Asparagus, Burrata and Ramp Pesto

Serves 2

For the ramp pesto
(here you can find alternative recipes for basil or arugula pesto)

ramps or ramson, leaves only, 1 medium bunch (around 60g / 2 ounces)
parmesan 30g / 1 ounce
olive oil 60ml / 1/4 cup
salt 1/4 teaspoon

For the pasta

green asparagus, the bottoms cut off, 1 pound
spaghetti 150-200g / 5-7 ounces
olive oil
burrata (or mozzarella di Bufala) 200g / 7 ounces
ramp pesto about 4 tablespoons
flaky sea salt
black peppercorns, crushed with a mortar

For the pesto, purée the ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth and season with salt to taste.

Cook the asparagus in plenty of salted water for about 3 minutes or until al dente. Using a slotted ladle, transfer the asparagus to a colander (leave the water in the pot), rinse the stalks briefly with cold water, and drain. Using a sharp knife, lengthwise, quarter each stalk into 4 long pieces (including the heads).

To cook the pasta, put the pot you used for the asparagus back on the heat, bring the water to the boil (add more water if necessary), and cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain, transfer back to the pot, and stir in a tiny splash of olive oil.

Divide the pasta and asparagus between 2 plates, folding the vegetable into the spaghetti. Break the burrata in half and place in the middle of each pasta plate. Drizzle with pesto and a few drops of olive oil (optional) and season with salt and crushed pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Spaghetti with Asparagus, Burrata and Pesto

 

Spaghetti with Asparagus, Burrata and Pesto

 

Spaghetti with Asparagus, Burrata and Pesto

 

Spaghetti with Asparagus, Burrata and Pesto

Ramp and Prosciutto wrapped Monkfish with Spring Peas

Ramps and Prosciutto wrapped Monkfish

I didn’t have many cookbooks when I was younger, I learned all about cooking from my mother. She’s my mama bird in the kitchen, I just watch and follow her. Then, in my late teens, she gave me my first cookbook, a detailed introduction to the most important basic techniques covering everything from eggs to soups, meat, seafood, and vegetables. It felt like she wanted to be sure that I wouldn’t starve when I moved out. The book was published in the 80’s and beautifully photographed. Quite minimal. I think, in regards to food photography, this book influenced my style of capturing food in pictures more than any other publications.

It was my only cookbook for a long time, but I collected and wrote down recipes myself whenever I got the chance to sneak a kitchen classic from a friend or my family. Even in restaurants, I was never shy to ask, if they’d share a recipe with me (the ones that really hit me). This strategy led to a bursting folder packed with notes, snippets, and sheets torn out of magazines. I still haven’t cooked and baked all of the treasures collected in more than 30 years. It’s a steadily growing project.

As I got into collecting cookbooks, Jamie Oliver’s books were one of the first added to the shelves. First as a present from friends, but later on I bought a few myself. I liked his style of playing with food. I was in my early twenties, I had seen and tasted many German, French, and Italian traditional classics cooked to perfection, by my mother and in friend’s kitchens, or at restaurants. But I felt like a younger voice. And Jamie’s voice felt just right at that time. In the end, I might have only cooked about 15 of his creations in all those years, but he inspired me a lot. And at least 5 of his recipes became staples that I still embrace today.

There’s one recipe that I’ve been wanting to try for more than 15 years. And again, I didn’t use it to follow, but to play with: Jamie wraps monkfish filets in prosciutto spread with pesto. It’s so simple, it looks stunning. As spring is in the air, or at least the smell of ramps as you enter the woods, I decided to wrap my firm white fish fillet in ramp leaves and prosciutto di Parma. Thanks to Jamie, the cooking time and temperature were perfect. The fillet was tender yet firm. And the wrapping was spot on: green, fresh, and slightly salty.

If you’re still looking for an Easter menu, what about skipping the traditional lamb roast and go for seafood? This dish is so easy, serve it with a bowl of lemony ramp peas and baguette (for the lazy ones like me) or Mediterranean mashed potatoes (either from my book, or try this recipe). And what about an eggnog sponge cake for dessert?

Have a wonderful Easter time with your loved ones!

xx

Ramps and Prosciutto wrapped Monkfish

 

Ramps and Prosciutto wrapped Monkfish

Ramp and Prosciutto wrapped Monkfish

Serves 2

olive oil
monkfish fillet, a thick center piece, 250-300g / 9-11 ounces
fine sea salt
ground pepper
prosciutto di Parma (or San Daniele or Serrano) 10 very thin slices
fresh ramps leaves, a small bunch
peas, fresh in shells (about 400g / 15 ounces) and peeled, or frozen (170g / 6 ounces)
freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1-2 teaspoons

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F (conventional setting) and brush the bottom of a baking dish with olive oil.

Cut the monkfish in half (lengthwise) and, using your hands, coat it in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

On a large chopping board, spread out half the prosciutto (overlapping slices). Arrange a layer of ramp leaves on top (laying across the prosciutto), then lay one half of the monkfish on top (see 5th picture). Roll and wrap the fish tightly and transfer to the oiled baking dish. Prepare the second fillet the same way and lay next to the first fish wrap. Brush the prosciutto with olive oil and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the fish is tender.

While the fish is baking, prepare the peas: Cut 12 ramps leaves into thin strips, set aside. Cook the peas in plenty of salted boiling water for 1 minute or until al dente. Drain and briefly rinse with cold water. In a small saucepan, heat a splash of olive over high heat, add half the chopped ramps, and take the pan off the heat. Stir in the peas and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

When the fish is done, using a sharp kitchen knife, cut the fillets into thick slices and divide between 2 plates. Serve with the peas sprinkled with the remaining chopped ramps, crunchy baguette, and chilled white wine.

Ramps and Prosciutto wrapped Monkfish

 

Ramps and Prosciutto wrapped Monkfish

 

Ramps and Prosciutto wrapped Monkfish

 

Ramps and Prosciutto wrapped Monkfish

 

Ramps and Prosciutto wrapped Monkfish

15 Recipes for your Easter Brunch Table

Tsoureki Easter Bread

Hunting Easter eggs in the woods was one of my childhood’s spring highlights. The sweet smell of blossoms and sunlight in the air, the trees’ leaves presenting their most fragile green, and – in a lucky year – I could even replace boots and jacket for shirt and jeans while searching for golden wrapped chocolate eggs and bunnies. I always loved the sprouting energy that comes with the change of season, when winter’s shades of grey and brown give way to vibrant colours. Easter is a changing point in the year, there’s the promise of summer in the air.

Is there a better way to celebrate this day than gathering your loved ones around the table and treating them to a luscious brunch? Here’s some inspiration (click the titles for the recipes):

Tsoureki – Greek Easter Bread with Aniseed and Orange Blossom Water

greekeasterbread18

 

Traditional Maltese Figolli

figolli20

 

Eggnog Sponge Cake with Whipped Cream

eggnogeastercake19

 

Poppy Seed and White Chocolate Babka

Poppy Seed and White Chocolate Babka

 

Green Shakshuka Crêpes

Green Shakshuka Crêpes

 

Rhubarb Tartlets with Cinnamon Oat Crumble

rhubarbtartletcinnamonoatcrumble16

 

Gruyère and Red Onion Focaccia

Gruyere Onion Focaccia

 

Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffins

Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffins

 

Crescent Milk Rolls with Poppy Seeds

Poppy Seed Crescent Milk Rolls

 

Bean and Ramp Quiche

Bean and Ramp Quiche

 

Rhubarb Chocolate Cake

Rhubarb Chocolate Cake

 

Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

 

Cheesecake Swiss Roll with Mascarpone and Blackberries

Cheesecake Swiss Roll

 

Roast Rosemary Lamb with Garlic and Tomatoes

Roast Rosemary Lamb

 

 Spinach Ricotta stuffed Conchiglioni on Grilled Cherry Tomatoes

Spinach Ricotta Conchiglioni

 

Spring Timpana – Maltese Pasta Pie with Asparagus, Peas, and Leeks

Spring Timpana

 

There will be two new Easter recipes coming up this Sunday and next Wednesday!

 

Eggnog Easter Cake

Green Asparagus with Beet and Chickpea Hummus

Green Asparagus with Beet and Chickpea Hummus

Pink and spring green! Today’s dish celebrates this vibrant colour combination and I can’t really say that I expected the result to taste that good. My green asparagus stalks found a perfect companion in a screaming pink hummus. I adjusted its colour and taste by adding a generous amount of boiled beetroots. At first I was worried that the roots’ earthy tones would dominate, so I started with one root for a small can of chickpeas. But there was no need to worry. The beetroot easily found its place in the nutty dip, in fact, it’s a fine sweetness that comes through the most.

Before the roots kicked in, I used my basic hummus recipe to start with. It perfectly balances out the flavours of chickpeas, rich tahini, sour lemon, and the punch of fresh garlic and ground cumin. It was a recently published cookbook that inspired my to turn my hummus pink. Joel MacCharles and Dana Harrison’s book called Batch, a comprehensive collection of pantry recipes, caught my attention and made me wish I had a whole room and not just a shelf to store my jars of preserved goods. Their book covers various methods for canning, dehydrating, fermenting, cellaring, salting, smoking, and infusing. As I thumbed through the pages, I noticed that there are still a lot of preserving techniques I have to learn more about. I cook my own jams and chutneys, preserve my gherkins, lemons and other fruits and vegetables, I learned to make gravad lax from my mother (a recipe that comes to use at least once a year), but I’ve never made my own sauerkraut or smoked mussels.

Batch is a book that needs time and attention, a book that gives you lots of basic recipes to follow and not to experiment with. It’s about learning the right techniques to be able to fill the shelves in your pantry with pride and satisfaction. However, the duo also included quite a few creations that allow you to play with your preserving results and be creative. In the beet chapter, Joel and Dana write about a pink beet hummus, which is different to mine: they don’t add chickpeas, it’s the pure red root that shines. Below you can find both recipes, my chickpea and beet hummus and Joel and Dana’s pure beet hummus. Try both and enjoy. I just love my chickpeas. But don’t forget to add green asparagus cooked al dente, it’s too good. And use the leftover dip to spread on dark spelt bread.

Green Asparagus with Beet and Chickpea Hummus

 

Green Asparagus with Beet and Chickpea Hummus

Green Asparagus with Beet and Chickpea Hummus

Serves 3-4

For the beet and chickpea hummus

medium to large beetroots, unpeeled, 2
bay leaves 2
olive oil 2 teaspoons
drained and rinsed canned chickpeas, 240g / 1 1/3 cups
tahini 150g / 5 ounces
water 120ml / 1/2 cup
freshly squeezed lemon juice 6 tablespoons
garlic, crushed, 2 large cloves
ground cumin 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon
fine sea salt about 1 1/4 teaspoons

green asparagus, the bottoms cut off, 1kg / 2 1/4 pounds
olive oil
flaky sea salt
white sesame seeds

Bring a medium pot of salted water to the boil. Add the beetroots (with their skin) and bay leaves, cover with a lid, and cook the roots over medium heat (simmering) for about 45-55 minutes or until tender. Rinse with cold water and let cool for a few minutes. Peel the roots and weigh 200g / 7 ounces, use any remaining beetroot for another recipe. Using a food processor or blender, purée the beetroots and 2 teaspoons of olive oil until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

For the hummus, using the same food processor or blender, purée the chickpeas, tahini, water, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, and salt until smooth. Add half the puréed beetroot to the hummus and purée until well combined. Add more puréed beet until the hummus has the desired taste. I added the whole 200g / 7 ounces of beet. Add more lemon juice, salt, and cumin to taste.

Cook the asparagus in plenty of salted water for about 3 minutes or until al dente, rinse briefly with cold water, drain, and transfer to a large plate or divide between the plates. Serve warm or cold, drizzle the asparagus with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with sesame and salt. Dollop a few teaspoons of the hummus over the green stalks and enjoy!

Alternative beet hummus recipe:

Joel MacCharles and Dana Harrison’s Beet Hummus 

from Batch, published by appetite by Random House

Serves 2-3

garlic, peeled, 3 cloves
tahini 120ml / 1/2 cup
ground cumin 2 teaspoons
sesame oil 2 teaspoons
fresh lemon juice 2 tablespoons (add more if you wish)
canned beetroots 1l / 1 quart-jar (you can find a recipe for pressure canned beets in the book, but you can also use my recipe above to boil the beets)
beet stock (preserving / boiling liquid) 60ml / 1/4 cup
olive oil (optional)

Place the garlic in a blender and chop until fine.

Add the tahini, cumin, sesame oil, and lemon juice to the blender. Scrape the sides to make sure the garlic is incorporated and blend for 10 seconds.

Add the beets and blend until smooth. Add the beet stock, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the hummus achieves the texture you like (you may not use the whole 60ml / 1/4 cup or you may have to add more). Chill in the fridge for a few minutes before eating (optional). Serve in a bowl and a drizzle of olive oil.

Green Asparagus with Beet and Chickpea Hummus

 

Green Asparagus with Beet and Chickpea Hummus

 

Green Asparagus with Beet and Chickpea Hummus

 

Green Asparagus with Beet and Chickpea Hummus

 

Green Asparagus with Beet and Chickpea Hummus

 

Green Asparagus with Beet and Chickpea Hummus

Crêpe love Part II: Green Shakshuka Crêpes and fantastic news

Green Shakshuka Crêpes

Sometimes life does funny things, these unexpected surprises that hit you with such impact that you can’t even say a word anymore. Short circuit in the mind. A few days ago, I experienced one of these moments and I’m still recovering from this mental hangover. If I had written this post back then when it hit me, I would have shouted out the news hysterically, but I calmed down, so today, it’s a civilised announcement:

The James Beard Foundation has nominated the Eat In My Kitchen book for the prestigious James Beard Award 2017 in the General Cooking category, alongside Ina Garten’s Cooking for Jeffrey and Cook’s Science’s How to Unlock Flavor in 50 of Our Favorite Ingredients

This is crazy, I thought I was going to faint! Thanks to my man I didn’t loose it completely. So what can you do, when life does these funny things that make you speechless? You just sit there, quietly, silently, wait until it sinks in – and you book a flight to New York where the award ceremony is going to take place in April. I’ll keep you posted.

Once my adventurous trip was booked and I felt my stomach again, I made crêpes. You remember that, last week, I shared my new favourite pancake passion with you: crêpe au citron. When I went to Normandy and I found that wonderful Crêperie in the village of Le Touquet, I new there would be lots of thin crêpes on my own kitchen table in the near future. After the citrusy dessert, we can move on to the main course: green shakshuka crêpes. I didn’t find this particular recipe on the menu of my little French village restaurant, but another hearty treat that was also a pure pleasure. It was a galette (buckwheat crêpe) filled with ham, cheese, and a soft egg. It was the best comfort food you can think of, especially when you can smell a salty breeze in the air and you have an endless long beach right in front of you.

Personally, I prefer a normal crêpe over a galette, it works just as well in combination with a savoury filling (however, in my recipe below you find both options). First I just wanted to share the classic with you – ham and cheese – but then I saw a green shakshuka somewhere and I could already see it in my mind, wrapped in a crêpe. As the pancake filling shouldn’t be too soggy, I only went for peas, spring onion, and parsley stirred in cumin-garlic oil. Arugula leaves and Gruyère cheese sprinkled over the cracked egg cooking slowly on top of the crêpe, and it was done. It’s aromatic and fresh, slightly eggy with a soft hint of cumin, and the greens taste like spring. I seasoned it with another souvenir that I brought home from France: peppery Piment d’Espelette (Gorria chilli pepper powder).

We enjoyed this green beauty for lunch and dinner, but I can also see it on a Sunday breakfast table!

Green Shakshuka Crêpes

Green Shakshuka Crêpes

If you prefer to make galettes (buckwheat crêpes), replace half the plain flour with buckwheat flour.

Makes about 4 large crêpes

For the crêpes

plain flour, sifted, 130g / 1 cup
granulated sugar 1/2 tablespoon
fine sea salt 1/8 teaspoon
organic eggs 2
milk 250ml / 1 cup and 1 tablespoon
butter, to cook the crêpes

For the filling

olive oil 2 tablespoons
large garlic clove, cut in half, 1
ground cumin 1/4 teaspoon
fresh or frozen green peas, blanched for 1/2 minute, rinsed, and drained, 200g / 7 ounces
spring onions, thinly sliced, 2
fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped, a small handful
fine sea salt
ground pepper
organic eggs 4
aromatic hard cheese (like Gruyère), finely grated 80g / 3 ounces
arugula (rucola), a small handful

Piment d’Espelette (optional)

For the crêpes, in a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, mix the flour, sugar, salt, eggs, and milk until smooth; let the batter sit for about 10 minutes (at room temperature) to 1 hour (in the fridge).

For the filling, in a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil, garlic, and cumin over high heat and cook until it starts sizzling. Take the pan off the heat immediately and stir in the peas, 3/4 of the spring onions, and the parsley. Season with salt, pepper, and additional cumin to taste and set aside.

In a large, heavy or non-stick pan, melt half a teaspoon of butter on medium-high heat. Pour in a large ladle of the batter, holding the pan in your hand and turning it so that the batter spreads evenly and thinly. Cook the crêpe for 30-60 seconds or until golden, flip around, and take the pan off the heat. Turn the heat down to medium-low. Carefully crack an egg in the middle of the crêpe, gently swirl the egg white a little so that it spreads a bit, don’t break the egg yolk. Spread 1/4 of the cheese and 1/4 of the shakshuka filling, and 1/4 of the arugula around the egg yolk (see 1st picture) and fold up 4 sides of the crêpe so that your end up with a square shape. Leave the egg yolk uncovered. Put the pan back on the heat and let the egg white set, the yolk should stay runny. If the bottom of the crêpe gets too dark, turn down the heat. Sprinkle with 1/4 of the remaining spring onions and season with Piment d’Espelette or ground pepper to taste; serve immediately.

Continue cooking and filling 3 more crêpes, you should always melt 1/2 -1 teaspoon of butter in the pan before you cook the next crêpe. You can use any remaining batter (made of plain flour) to make crêpe au citron.

Bon appétit!

Green Shakshuka Crêpes

 

Green Shakshuka Crêpes

 

Green Shakshuka Crêpes

 

Green Shakshuka Crêpes

 

Green Shakshuka Crêpes

 

Green Shakshuka Crêpes

Crêpes au Citron

Crêpes au Citron

Rough seas, endless beaches, and food that kept me happy from the morning till the night. I went to France and it was a feast.

I got spoiled with a spontaneous trip to Normandy, to the picturesque seaside village of Le Touquet. Five nights, five days and luckily, I didn’t have much time to make plans beforehand or to build up expectations. This kept me relaxed and the activities very basic: I went from my bed to the opulent breakfast table, then straight to the beach for long walks, a quick snack on the ‘high street’ before teatime or an aperitif at our hotel’s beautiful old bar; at 7pm I was dressed pretty and ready for the French way of dining – luscious feasting that makes you forget about everything around you and lets you sleep like a baby. Those were my days in Normandy.

We couldn’t have organized our arrival at the majestic Le Westminster any better. We were hungry and stepped out of the car just in time for lunch. The hotel’s bistro offered a French classic, Steak Tartare, and a fantastic dish of potatoes, cut thinly and cooked like risotto, with smoked eel and truffles. A glass of Sancerre and our French immediately came out more fluently. It was the beginning of a culinary trip that couldn’t have satisfied my taste buds any better: the freshest oysters, lobster, large rock crab, prawns, and sea snails, Breton Cotriade (fish soup with potatoes) topped with half a lobster (preferable enjoyed at Perard on Rue de Metz), Moules Frites, oeufs a la neige (floating island), and wonderful salads, all very simple combinations with only a few ingredients, but the results were superb.

During our first walk through the village I spotted a fantastic pâtisserie. My instinct is very reliable when it comes to sweets, I can ‘smell’ where I can find the best éclair au café, croissants, little tartes Tropéziennes, brioche and baguette. The bakery’s staff saw me daily. The farmers’ market on Saturday is a weekly celebration in the village, fruits and vegetables, salamis and patés, the most fragrant (and pungent) cheeses, the fishermen’s catch from the night, honey and jam, all laid out in front of us. We were like kids in a candy store and bought bags full of delicacies, which we then stored in the car for a couple days. It was quite cold outside so it didn’t harm the food. However, the cheese infused the car with such a distinct aroma that I’m sure we’ll enjoy it for a few months.

As much as I love a glass of Champagne and a plate full of Atlantic oysters sprinkled with mignonette (chopped shallots in vinegar), the simple pleasures are sometimes the best in life. Le Touquet has an excellent Crêperie, Aux Mignardises Saint Jean, where you can watch the masters of crêpe cook such delicious creations as crêpe au caramel or au citron (both tested and approved). The simple yet so genius addition of a good squeeze of lemon juice really hit me. It was totally new to me, how could I miss it? You just have to cook a thin crêpe, sprinkle it with a little sugar, and drizzle it with the sour juices of the citrus fruit. First I started with a few drops, but then I learned that you can be generous, the more lemon aroma, the better! Back home, I already made it twice and here’s the recipe for you. If you feel like a quick, but scrumptious breakfast, or if you’d like to impress your guests at your next dinner party, flip some crêpes in the pan and buy a bunch of lemons.

Another treat, a savoury buckwheat galette, was just as good and included ham, cheese, and an egg. It was actually so good that I might also share this recipe with you in the near future.

And if you’re not into citrus, try one of these recipes:

Crêpes Caramel au Beurre Salé

Crêpes Suzette

Crêpes with Sweet Sour Cream

Crêpes au Citron

 

Crêpes au Citron

Crêpes au Citron

Makes about 15-20 crêpes

plain flour, sifted, 260g / 2 cups
granulated sugar 50g / 1/4 cup, plus more to sprinkle the crêpes
fine sea salt 1/8 teaspoon
organic eggs 4
milk 1/2l / 2 cups and 2 tablespoons
butter, to cook the crêpes
fresh lemons, cut in half, about 2-3
fresh mint leaves, a small handful (optional)

In a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, mix the flour, sugar, salt, eggs, and milk until smooth; let the batter sit for about 10 minutes (at room temperature) to 1 hour (in the fridge).

In a large, heavy or non-stick pan, melt half a teaspoon of butter on medium-high heat. Pour in a ladle of the dough, holding the pan in your hand and turning it so that the dough spreads evenly and very thinly. The crêpes won’t need more than 30-60 seconds on each side once the heat is set right. When the crêpe is slightly golden on both sides, sprinkle with a little (!) sugar, fold twice so that it forms a triangle, and transfer to a large plate. Cover with a large plate or lid. Continue with the remaining batter until you have about 15-20 crêpes. You should always melt 1/2 -1 teaspoon of butter in the pan before you cook the next crêpe.

Serve the crêpes warm, sprinkled with additional sugar to taste, drizzled with freshly squeezed lemon juice (to taste), and decorate with a few mint leaves. Bon appétit!

Crêpes au Citron

 

Crêpes au Citron

 

Crêpes au Citron

 

Crêpes au Citron

 

Crêpes au Citron

 

Crêpes au Citron

 

Crêpes au Citron

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

 

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