eat in my kitchen

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

Category: TO COOK

Spaghetti with Lemon Pistachio Pesto and Mozzarella di Bufala

Spaghetti with Lemon Pistachio Pesto and Mozzarella di Bufala

I love to end the year with a plate full of spaghetti. It gives me the kind of comfort that pasta masters to perfection. Its beauty and magic lies in simplicity – and in many happy carbs. This year’s combination is tangy, a bit creamy, and nutty –  it makes me feel good and that’s all I need. So here’s my Mediterranean creation to celebrate the changeover from 2016 to 2017: spaghetti with lemon pistachio pesto and mozzarella di Bufala.

In the past 12 months of this turbulent year I felt my limits quite often and I flew higher than I thought I could ever fly without burning my wings. I saw my first cookbook being born, being celebrated during my book tour in Berlin, London, Malta, New York, and Washington. I saw the Eat In My Kitchen book reaching the New York Times’ list of ‘The Best Cookbooks of Fall 2016’, which I still can’t really believe. So much love and support came into my life, so much happiness has been spread through this book that feels like a baby to me. There were unbelievable highs, so many wonderful moments, moments that I will feel thankful for for the rest of my life. But there were also lows and losses that tore trenches into my heart that will hurt for the rest of my life. I lost a person who’s been so close to me that I sometimes can’t even say who’s me and who’s him. He was my mentor, my supporter, my biggest critic, my challenger. He was my friend, my most beloved Swabian, and my step father. I wouldn’t be who I am without him, and I’ll never again be who I was before he left this world. Eat In My Kitchen wouldn’t be what it is without him.

I want to thank all of you for supporting me and my book, for being there and for coming back to these pages here on the blog. Eat In My Kitchen makes me grow every day, this blog makes me go back to my kitchen and experiment more than I would do if I didn’t write about it. Thank you for being on this journey together with me.

Have a peaceful and joyful start into the New Year!

Meike

Spaghetti with Lemon Pistachio Pesto and Mozzarella di Bufala

Spaghetti with Lemon Pistachio Pesto and Mozzarella di Bufala

Serves 2

dried spaghetti 200g / 7 ounces
olive oil
mozzarella di Bufala, torn into bite sized pieces, 125g / 4 1/2 ounces
flaky sea salt
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar

For the pesto

freshly grated lemon zest 4 tablespoons, plus more for the topping
freshly grated young Parmesan 4 tablespoons, plus more for the topping
finely chopped shelled pistachios (unsalted) about 1 tablespoon, plus more (roughly chopped) for the topping
olive oil 3 tablespoons
fine sea salt

In a large pot filled with salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and stir in a little splash of olive oil.

For the pesto, in a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, Parmesan, pistachios, and olive oil and use the back of a spoon to press the Parmesan into the oil until well combined. Season to taste with salt.

Divide the spaghetti and mozzarella di Bufala between plates. Sprinkle with pesto, additional lemon zest, Parmesan, and pistachios. Season to taste with flaky sea salt and crushed peppercorns, serve immediately.

Spaghetti with Lemon Pistachio Pesto and Mozzarella di Bufala

 

Spaghetti with Lemon Pistachio Pesto and Mozzarella di Bufala

 

pastalemonpistaSpaghetti with Lemon Pistachio Pesto and Mozzarella di Bufalachiopesto6

Fillet of Beef, Walnut Butter and Beetroot and scrumptious menus for Christmas

Beef Filet, Walnut Butter and Beetroot for Christmas

There are many ways to celebrate the holidays and a lavish feast is my way of creating a festive culinary frame when the Christmas bells start ringing. To fill the bowls and platters with roast and gravy, stuffed duck or goose, dumplings and various cabbage dishes may take some time, but these hours spent in the kitchen are so precious to me, that I gladly dedicate a few days to the preparation of some of the most unforgettable meals of the year.

But I’m honest, this year is different, this year used up my batteries. As much as I enjoy every second of shopping for the ingredients for any meal, cooking, baking, and waiting for my creations to be done, I know when I have to slow down. Even if it’s Christmas. A meal isn’t special just because of the money that’s spent on it, or the time put into its preparation. A meal is special when it sparks a firework in the mouth; when we enjoy smelling it, looking at it, and tasting it so much, that we almost feel like children again. Memories and traditions turn a meal into something greater that sets it apart from our everyday foods. The cookies baked on December’s snowy weekends using trusted family recipes are different to the sweets that we stir up during the rest of the year. The beloved duck served on Christmas Eve tastes better when the room is lit up with countless candles and the smell of fir is heavily hanging in the air. I love my traditions and I hold them dearly, but Christmas 2016 calls for a break: lots of time for myself and my loved ones, no plans, no duties, just the pleasure of a little laziness at the end of the year. Cooking is fun and it should always reflect the mood that we’re in, and now, I’m going to be as slow as a sloth.

Last week, I kind of unfurled my Christmas menu from the end, starting with the dessert as I shared my Crème Brûlée Tangerine Cheesecake in a Jar. It’s a dish that can easily be prepared a day or two in advance, meaning more time on the sofa, unwrapping presents, eating cookies, and listening to Christmas carols. My main dish doesn’t need elaborate preparations either, it’s a rather minimal composition of honest, pure flavours. The most tender fillet of beef topped with a slice of walnut mustard butter, served along with sweet and earthy beetroot cubes. The red root is cooked al dente, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with Mr. Cini’s flaky sea salt from Gozo. Sometimes, simplicity tastes best.

To finish my Christmas menu, I should share a starter with you next week, but I will allow myself to take a few days off and stay offline. As I don’t want to leave you and your guests hungry, I have a few recipe suggestions for you from the blog and from my cookbook, not just for starters.

I wish you a peaceful Christmas! Enjoy this precious time with the ones you love!

Meike xx

Here’s some more inspiration for your Christmas menu:

Starter

________________________

Parsnip and Sweet Potato Soup with Caramelized Plums and Whipped Gorgonzola Mascarpone (Eat In My Kitchen book, page 75)

Sicilian Blood Orange, Olive and Red Onion Salad

Celeriac Salad with Caramelized Honey Kumquats and Walnuts

Sautéed Belgian Endive wrapped in Prosciutto

Chickpea Potato Soup with Rucola Pesto, Lemon and Fried Chickpeas

Artichoke Ricotta and Orange Ravioli (this dish is time consuming, but can be prepared in advance and then frozen)

Potatoes with Cinnamon Hummus, Basil and Prawns

Herbed Polenta with Parsnip Chips and Maple Butter

Saffron and Mussel Tomato Soup

Mediterranean Octopus with Fennel and Orange

Main dish

________________________

Slow Roasted Duck with Ginger, Honey and Orange (Eat In My Kitchen book, page 171)

Beef Shank and Caponata Stew (Eat In My Kitchen book, page 169)

Salt Baked Salmon Fillet with Dill, Black Pepper and Juniper

Duck Confit with Roast Potatoes, Chestnuts, Plums and Star Anise

Thyme and Lemon Ricotta Stuffed Pork Roll

Lamb Chops with Orange-Herb Crust

Seared Tuna with Ginger, Lemon, Butter Beans and Onions

My Granny’s Beef Rolls with Potato Dumplings

Vegetarian main dish

________________________

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Roquefort Sauce (Eat In My Kitchen book, page 100)

Potato and Apple Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Walnut Butter and Gruyère

Farfalle Pasta with Figs, Mozzarella di Bufala and Honey Butter

Pumpkin Crespelle with Ricotta and Sage

Orange and Fennel Couscous

Spinach Gnocchi with Creamy Mushrooms

Dessert

________________________

Bittersweet Chocolate-Olive Oil Bundt Cake with Candied Orange Peel (Eat In My Kitchen book, page 221)

Pomegranate Pavlova Tart with Rosewater

Provençal Pine Nut, Date and Honey Tart

Crêpes Suzette

Apple Strudel

Maltese Ricotta Pie with Lemon Syrup and Pistachios

Cherry Chocolate Tart with Cardamom Whipped Cream

Marina’s Lemon Marmalade Ice Cream with Caramelized Pistachios

Tiramisu

Lemon Meringue Pie

Austrian Crème Malakoff

Beef Filet, Walnut Butter and Beetroot for Christmas

Fillet of Beef, Walnut Butter and Beetroot

Serves 4

fillets of beef, trimmed, 4 (each about 140g / 5 ounces and 4-5cm /1 1/2-2″ thick)
olive oil
unsalted butter 2 tablespoons
flaky sea salt
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar

For the walnut butter

shelled walnuts 50g / 2 ounces
butter, at room temperature, 50g / 2 ounces
Dijon mustard, about 1 teaspoon
fine sea salt

For the beetroot

large beetroots with skin 2
bayleaves 2
flaky sea salt
olive oil
shelled walnuts, broken into pieces, a large handful

Take the meat out of the fridge, rinse and pat it dry, and let it come to room temperature.

For the walnut butter, finely grind the walnuts in a blender or food processor, add the butter, mustard, and a little salt, and pulse until combined. Adjust the seasoning. Scrape the butter onto a piece of cling film, roll into a thick sausage shape, and keep in the fridge (or in the freezer for just a few minutes until hard).

For the beetroot, bring a large pot with salted water to the boil and add the bay leaves and beetroot. Close with a lid and let it simmer for about 50 minutes or until the roots are al dente or tender, depending on your preference. Rinse with cold water, peel, and cut into cubes.

In a large, heavy pan, heat a generous splash of olive oil over high heat and sear the fillets for 1 minute on each side. Take the pan off the heat, lower the heat to medium, and add the butter to the pan. Put the pan back on the heat and cook the fillets for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side (for ‘medium rare’), spoon some of the butter over the meat a couple times. Season the fillets with flaky sea salt and crushed pepper, wrap in aluminium foil, and let them rest for 2 minutes. Set the pan with the juices aside.

Divide the beetroot cubes between the plates, drizzle with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with walnuts and flaky sea salt. Cut the walnut butter into thick slices. Transfer 1 fillet of beef to each plate and lay a slice of walnut butter on top. Drizzle with the juices from the pan used to cook the meat, serve immediately.

Merry Christmas!

Beef Filet, Walnut Butter and Beetroot for Christmas

 

Beef Filet, Walnut Butter and Beetroot for Christmas

 

Beef Filet, Walnut Butter and Beetroot for Christmas

 

Beef Filet, Walnut Butter and Beetroot for Christmas

 

Beef Filet, Walnut Butter and Beetroot for Christmas

 

Beef Filet, Walnut Butter and Beetroot for Christmas

 

Beef Filet, Walnut Butter and Beetroot for Christmas

Artichoke, Ricotta and Orange Ravioli

Artichoke, Ricotta and Orange Ravioli

If you decide to make your own homemade pasta, be prepared that you’ll never be able to eat store bought pasta again (you’ll feel less satisfied with it at the very least) – and that you won’t feel your arms and abs for a couple days. To knead the dough by hand is necessary and labor-intensive. I had moments when I felt slight doubts about whether the crumbly mixture in front of me would ever turn into a smooth ball, but it worked. I needed all my patience and muscle power to get there, but the result tasted so good that I’d do it all over again (after my muscles got some rest).

My pasta project started last Friday and ended on Saturday afternoon. I first tried a recipe by Sicilian chef Dario Cammarata who only uses plain flour, durum wheat semolina, salt, egg yolks, and olive oil. The result tasted amazing, but getting there was so much harder than what I remembered from when I visited the chef in his kitchen in Frankfurt earlier this year. What seemed so easy in Darios’s hands, didn’t want to work as smoothly in my own.

Dario taught me that ravioli are best when they are made with egg yolks and not whole eggs. I have no doubt that this is true, the texture is light and perfectly al dente. But to knead my own dough made of 10 egg yolks, flour, and semolina almost made me cry. The mixture was so hard and fragile, I needed an alternative that was less stressful. I still used my egg yolk dough to make a few ravioli, which were perfect, and I made tagliatelle. And these were the best tagliatelle of my life – taste, texture, and thickness were spot on!

Early the next morning I went back to my kitchen. More eggs in the bowl (this time including the egg whites), with a fresh and open mind and a quenchless appetite for fresh pasta, I felt optimistic. Kneading the dough still required some serious muscle power (maybe it’s just me, my arms are not the strongest), but it was manageable. And this time I totally enjoyed pulling the thin layers of fresh pasta through my KitchenAid pasta attachment. I needed about two test sheets, but then I was in business. They were so thin that I could see my hand through them.

For my first homemade ravioli, I chose a filling that still allowed me to enjoy the fine taste of the egg pasta. After all this work it didn’t feel right to knock it out. The combination of preserved artichokes and fresh ricotta refined with a little orange zest was just right, present, but not overpowering. I served it with melted butter and golden artichoke hearts, briefly seared in the sizzling fat. A little crushed pepper and some more orange zest, and my work was done.

My KitchenAid has three pasta attachments and I’m particularly fond of the tagliatelle cutter. Once I was done with the ravioli, all the shorter pieces and leftover dough went through this attachment and they were perfectly cut into the thinest, tastiest pasta. Cook it al dente and add a knob of butter, freshly grated aromatic hard cheese, and black pepper, and you’ll have the best meal ever. Buon appetito!

Artichoke, Ricotta and Orange Ravioli

 

Artichoke, Ricotta and Orange Ravioli

Artichoke, Ricotta and Orange Ravioli

Homemade ravioli are time and labour-intensive. They are a great starter or main dish for a dinner party, but I recommend preparing them a day in advance to keep it stress free. Freeze them (uncooked) and cook them in boiling salted water just before serving for 4 minutes. I recommend using a pasta machine for this recipe.

Makes 20-24 ravioli / serves 2-4

For the pasta dough

plain flour 150g / 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons
durum wheat semolina 150g / 5 1/4 ounces
fine sea salt 1/4 teaspoon
large organic eggs 3 plus 1 egg yolk
olive oil 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon
water, cold, 1 tablespoon

For the filling

preserved artichoke hearts, drained and squeezed, 160g / 6 ounces
fresh ricotta 125 g/ 4 1/2 ounces
olive oil 1 tablespoon
freshly grated Parmesan 25g / 1 ounce
a pinch of freshly grated orange zest
fine sea salt
ground pepper

For serving

butter 4 tablespoons
preserved artichoke hearts, drained and cut into 6 pieces each, 2
Parmesan
black peppercorns, crushed
a little orange zest

For the pasta dough, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough attachment, combine the flour, semolina, and salt. Add the eggs, egg yolk, and olive oil and knead for about 5 minutes (I set it on ‘4’ on my KitchenAid). If it’s too dry, add 1 tablespoon of water, but not more. If it’s too sticky, add a little semolina and flour. On the counter top or on a stable table, using your hands, continue kneading the dough for about 15 minutes until smooth. It will still be firm. I find it easiest to leave it in the shape of a thick disc for the first 5-7 minutes, punching and kneading it, and scraping the crumbs together. Then I knead it and roll it into a ball (see pictures below). Form a ball, wrap it in cling film, and let it rest in the fridge for 1 hour.

For the filling, purée the artichoke hearts, add to a bowl along with the ricotta, olive oil, Parmesan, orange zest, salt, and pepper. Whisk until smooth and adjust seasoning.

Divide the dough into 4-8 portions (depending on the width and power of your pasta machine). Roll out 1 portion with a rolling pin until it’s thin enough to fit into your pasta machine. I started using position ‘1’ on my pasta attachment, using the speed setting ‘2’. Pull the dough through the pasta machine twice, fold it in the middle, flatten it a little with the rolling pin if necessary, turn it 90°, and pull it through the pasta machine. Continue 2-3 times. Change to a thinner setting (I used ‘3’) and pull the dough through the machine about 3 times, without folding it. Using a knife, straighten the sides of your pasta sheet and cut off excess dough. Continue using the thinner settings of your pasta machine until you can see your hand through the dough (I used ‘5’ and then ‘6’ at the end). If the dough is too sticky, use semolina, but no flour.

Sprinkle the rolled out pasta layer with semolina, fold it gently, and cover with cling film. Continue rolling the remaining dough.

Sprinkle a large baking sheet with semolina. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to the boil.

Lay out a layer of pasta and mark it with circles, using a 7cm / 3″ round cutter (or whatever size and shape you prefer). Add a teaspoon of the filling in the middle of each marked circle. Dip your finger in water and wet the rim of the circles. From a second sheet of pasta, cut out circles of the same size, lay on top of the filling, and using your finger, push around the rim (see picture above). Using the cookie cutter, cut out the ravioli and press a little fork all around to seal the rim (see picture below). Transfer the ravioli to the prepared baking sheet.

In batches, cook the ravioli in the simmering water for about 2-3 minutes or until al dente.

To serve the ravioli, in a saucepan, heat the butter over high heat until golden brown, add the artichoke hearts, turn gently, and sauté for 1 minute.

Serve the ravioli sprinkled with the butter, Parmesan, orange zest (optional), and crushed pepper and lay the sautéed artichokes on top.

Artichoke, Ricotta and Orange Ravioli

 

Artichoke, Ricotta and Orange Ravioli

 

Artichoke, Ricotta and Orange Ravioli

 

Artichoke, Ricotta and Orange Ravioli

 

artichokeorangeravioli12

 

artichokeorangeravioli11

 

Artichoke, Ricotta and Orange Ravioli

7 Meat & Roast recipes to indulge in on Thanksgiving

porkrollricotta2

A meal at a festive table, in the dimmed light of flickering candles, all our loved ones around us, is always a gift, it’s a feast of love and sharing. These are very precious memories of our lives, we’ll never forget the food we smelled and tasted, the grateful happiness in the eyes of our family and friends, the room filled with music and laughter.

Let’s talk about meat and roast recipes to make our Thanksgiving table complete and accompany my 10 pumpkin recipes that I shared with you a couple days ago. I love my juicy Roast Rosemary Lamb or the tender Thyme and Lemon Ricotta stuffed Pork Roll. You can also find a recipe for a delicious German pork roast with crackling in my cookbook, on page 163. Slow roasted duck, preferably cooked together with fruit, will always find a special place in my heart, the meat is so tasty and tender, the skin crisp, it’s definitely one of my favourites for a special feast at the table.

Besides the classic roasts, there are other scrumptious recipes that I could indulge in with the greatest pleasure, also on Thanksgiving: Coq au Vin, tiny Lamb Chops with Orange and Herb Crust, or Spice Roast Chicken Legs with Butter Beans.

(Click on the titles to get to my recipes)

Roast Rosemary Lamb with Garlic and Tomatoes:

Roast Rosemary Lamb

 

Thyme and Lemon Ricotta stuffed Pork Roll:

porkrollricotta1

 

Slow roasted Duck a l’Orange with Lingonberry Port Gravy:

slowroastedduckalorange1

 

Coq au Vin:

Coq au Vin

 

Roast Chicken with spiced Peaches:

(you can replace the peaches with plums)

Peach Chicken

 

Lamb Chops with Orange Herb Crust:

Orange Lamb Chops

 

Spice Roast Chicken Legs with Butter Beans and Mint:

spicechickenbeansmint1

10 Pumpkin recipes to inspire your Thanksgiving table

Pumpkin

Thanksgiving calls for pumpkin on the table, lots of pumpkin! Since winter squash is so versatile, I wouldn’t mind having a festive meal dedicated to these gorgeous beauties in orange, green, and golden yellow. Nibbles, soup, main, and dessert – I’d be up for a pumpkin celebration.

When it comes to the main course, we have two options, we can either go vegetarian and in this case I strongly recommend the Pumpkin Crespelle with Ricotta and Sage – although the Pumpkin Gnocchi wouldn’t be a bad choice either. However, if you need some meat on your plate, I’ll share my suggestions with you tomorrow. But we can already start thinking about the sides and there’s a universe of options. Gnocchi always work, there’s no doubt that their spongy softness is perfect to soak up the juices of a roast, or you can go for maple orange pumpkin with sage and walnuts from my tartine recipe below (without the bread); pumpkin, stilton, and rosemary is also a very pleasant combination (taken from another sandwich recipe below). Roast it, cook it, sauté the squash – thinly sliced – in a pan (like in the Hokkaido Pumpkin Spaghetti), or bake a soufflé. If you want to keep the crowd entertained while you’re cooking, serve the Pumpkin Pesto, Date, and Chèvre Sandwich and everybody will be happy.

(Click on the titles to get to my recipes)

Pumpkin Crespelle with Ricotta and Sage:

Pumpkin Crespelle

 

Pumpkin Pesto, Date and Ripe Chèvre Sandwich:

Pumpkin Pesto Date Sandwich

 

Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Soup with Chèvre:

pumpkinsweetpotatochevresoup5

 

Pumpkin Taleggio Quiche with Crisp Sage:

pumpkintaleggiosagequiche1

 

Hokkaido Pumpkin Spaghetti:

Pumpkin Spaghetti

 

Maple Syrup and Orange Pumpkin Tartine with crisp Sage and Walnuts:

Maple Syrup Orange Pumpkin Tartine

 

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Walnut Pesto:

gnocchi_2

 

A Bun with Butternut Squash, Stilton and Rosemary:

butternutstiltonrosemarysandwich2

 

Pumpkin Pie with Coriander Caramel:

pumpkinpie1

 

Pumpkin and Ginger Brack:

Pumpkin Ginger Brack

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.

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch-2

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch-3

 

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

 

londonbooklaunch9

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

londonbooklaunch22

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

londonbooklaunch10

 

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

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch-4

 

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-2

 

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

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

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers:

%d bloggers like this: