eat in my kitchen

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

Category: VEGETARIAN

Meet In Your Kitchen | Kismet LA’s Persian Cucumbers, Melon & Rosewater Labneh

Kismet

White brushed walls, pale wood, and strong geometric lines turn Kismet into a minimalist spot of casual elegance right on LA’s sunny Hollywood Boulevard. Sitting on the wooden bench at the wide window, the fleshy leaves of a tall banyan tree playing with the light, I felt immediately captured by the restaurant’s laid-back vibe and exciting Middle Eastern and Mediterranean-style menu.

Sarah Hymanson and her partner Sara Kramer created a beautiful place to enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner with a group of friends – following their philosophy that food tastes best when you share it. Kismet is a neighborhood hub where you can fill your table with plates full of colorful vegetable focused delicacies and indulge in the pleasures of wonderful treats such as Little Gem Lettuce with Plums, Sprouted Lentils and Tarragon, Freekeh Polenta with Lamb, Green Chili, Greens and Poached Egg, or the wonderful Persian Cucumbers with Melon, Rosewater Labneh and Parsley Seed Za’atar – this recipe is a feast for the taste buds thankfully shared with us by the two chefs. You just dig in and feel happy, inspired by new flavor combinations focusing on taste and freshness. Or celebrate some precious time just for yourself and a book, have a coffee, and nibble on a Scone with Lemon Cream or Brioche Toast with Date Butter.

“LA is an exciting place to be right now, there’s a lot of young creative energy”, Sarah says. She doesn’t hide that she loves the East coast, she’s from Chicago and worked in New York for years, moving west wasn’t an obvious step for her. In 2015, she met NY native Sara Kramer at Glasserie in New York, Kramer was the opening chef at the acclaimed restaurant and won Eater’s NYC Chef of the Year award for her celebrated way of cooking. Yet the two strong willed chefs and highly creative minds who developed the vision of opening their own place, had to find out that it wasn’t in the East but West, in California, where their first “baby” would open its doors. An organic falafel shop at the lively Grand Central Market in Downtown LA called Madcapra was their testing ground. It became a huge success and so Kismet came next.

Rooted in California through the produce that the Kismet chefs get from their beloved farmers and friends who are such an important part of their community of chefs – “their produce is what makes our food” – yet their style of cooking is very much based on their experiences in the kitchen and their upbringing. Thanks to the similar climate, they can use a lot of fruits and vegetables that are prominent in Middle Eastern cooking, such as pomegranate, dates, olives, and fresh herbs. This is the kind of food that both of them loved all their life, what they grew up with – Sara’s mother is Israeli – it’s the food that fascinates both of them and constantly feeds their inspiration.

LA has always offered a great platform and an excitable open-minded audience to female chefs, like Nancy Silverton, Suzanne Goin, Marie Sue Milliken, and Susan Feniger to name just a few. There’s a history of inspiring women in this city and also in California in general who try alternative ways of producing food, cooking, but also working together. Over the past few years, there have been changes in restaurants all over the US that touch the roots of this industry. Work ethics change, the tone in the kitchen that was very male for decades, changes. “The women today try to challenge these norms by treating people as people. It’s not an easy process, but it’s a responsibility to the industry and the people working in this industry.” Sarah and her partner introduced a 20% service charge on top to improve payments and also even out the gap between front and back of house at their restaurant. It’s not easy, but it’s an important part of the place that they want to create, where it’s about good food, but also about a healthy community, in and outside Kismet.

In the next months, I’ll share many new Meet In Your Kitchen features with you that took me to California, Italy, France, and Japan. Thanks to Zwilling for sponsoring these features for our culinary trip around the world! Thank you, my man James Hickey,  for joining me on these adventures and helping me take pictures!

Kismet

 

Kismet

Persian Cucumbers with Melon, Rosewater Labneh and Parsley Seed Za’atar

By Kimset / Sarah Hymanson and Sara Kramer

Serves 6

For the Za’atar

2 tablespoons untoasted sesame seed, ground
1 tablespoon whole toasted sesame seeds
¾ cup (about 12g) dried rose petals, broken up
1 ½ teaspoons sumac
1 teaspoon parsley seeds, ground
¼ teaspoon salt

For the rosewater labneh

2 cups (470g) labneh
1 teaspoon salt
Zest of 2 lemons
2 cloves garlic, grated on a Microplane
2 teaspoons honey
¼-1 tablespoon rose water, to taste
Black pepper, finely ground, to taste

For the salad

9-12 Persian cucumbers, rinsed, shaved lengthwise on a mandoline
1 cup (about 160g) melon, cut into oblique pieces
Juice of 2 lemons
Olive oil
Salt, to taste
Fresh chervil, leaves only

For the Za’atar, in a small bowl, combine the untoasted and toasted sesame seeds, rose petals, sumac, parsley seeds, and salt. You can keep the Za’atar in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

For the labneh, in a large bowl, combine the labneh, salt, lemon zest, garlic, honey, and ¼ tablespoon of the rose water and season to taste with pepper and additional rosewater. You can prepare the rose water labneh in advance and keep it in the fridge for 1 day.

For the salad, mix together the cucumbers, melon, lemon juice, olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Toss to coat and set aside.

Divide the rose water labneh between bowls, arrange the cucumbers and melon on top, and sprinkle each portion with about 1 teaspoon of the Za’atar and a little chervil. Serve immediately.

Kismet

 

Kismet

 

Watch my interview with Sarah in LA in September 2017:

 

 

Thank you, Sarah!

 

Kismet

 

Kismet

 

Kismet

 

Kismet

 

Kismet

Limoncello Panna Cotta

Limoncello Panna Cotta

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

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

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

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

Meike xxx

Limoncello Panna Cotta

 

Limoncello Panna Cotta

Limoncello Panna Cotta

Serves 2 to 4

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

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

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

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

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

Limoncello Panna Cotta

 

Limoncello Panna Cotta

 

Limoncello Panna Cotta

 

Limoncello Panna Cotta

 

Limoncello Panna Cotta

23 Recipes for Cozy Christmas Baking

Maltese Christmas Cookies

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

Click on the titles for the recipes:

Chocolate, Orange and Cardamom Stollen

Chocolate, Orange and Cardamom Stollen

Rosemary and Lemon Heidesand Cookies

Rosemary and Lemon Heidesand Cookies

Ginger Chili Double Chocolate Cookies

Ginger Chili Double Chocolate Cookies

Christmas Chocolate Panettone

Chocolate Panettone

Espresso Meringue Cookies with Spiced Chocolate Ganache

Espresso Meringue Cookies with Spiced Chocolate Ganache

Maltese Lemon Christmas Cookies

Maltese Lemon Cookies

German Elisenlebkuchen

Lebkuchen

Ginger Spice Cookies with Cinnamon Oat Crunch

Ginger Spice Cookies with Cinnamon Oat Crunch

Persimmon Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies

Persimmon Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies

Bittersweet Chocolate Spice Cookies

Chocolate Spice Cookies

Claire Ptak’s Pecan Caramel Sandwich Cookies

Caramel Sandwich Cookies

Mulled Wine Pretzel Cookies

Mulled Wine Pretzel Cookies

Linzer Cookies

Sandwich Cookies

German Chocolate Baumkuchen

Chocolate Baumkuchen

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Gianduja Chocolate Cookies

Gianduja Chocolate Cookies

Maltese Essijiet Vermouth Cookies

Essijiet Cookies

Strawberry Pistachio Cookies with Oats and White Chocolate

Strawberry Oat Pistachio Cookies with White Chocolate

Espresso Chocolate Biscotti

Espresso Chocolate Biscotti

 

Dark Chocolate and Apricot Sandwich Cookies

Chocolate Cookies

Vanilla Kipferl

Vanilla Kipferl

Red Currant and Oat Cookies

Redcurrant and Oat Cookies

Buttery Blue Cheese Crackers

Buttery Blue Cheese Cookies

 

Rosemary and Lemon Heidesand Cookies

Chocolate, Orange and Cardamom Stollen

chocolateorangestollen_IG2

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

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

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

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

chocolateorangestollen_IG2

 

chocolateorangestollen_IG2

For the German recipe, scroll down.

Chocolate, Orange and Cardamom Stollen

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

For the topping

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

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

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

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

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

Preheat the oven to 175°C / 350°F.

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

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

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

_______________________________________

Schokoladen Orange Kardamom Stollen

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

Für das Topping

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

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

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

Ein Backblech mit Backpapier auslegen.

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

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

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

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

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

chocolateorangestollen_IG2

 

chocolateorangestollen_IG2

 

chocolateorangestollen_IG2

 

chocolateorangestollen_IG2

 

chocolateorangestollen_IG2

 

chocolateorangestollen_IG2

 

chocolateorangestollen_IG2

Molly Yeh’s Chocolate Tahini Cake with Tahini Frosting

Chocolate Tahini Cake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chocolate Tahini Cake

 

Chocolate Tahini Cake

Chocolate Tahini Cake with Tahini Frosting

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

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

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

For the cake

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

For the frosting

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chocolate Tahini Cake

 

Chocolate Tahini Cake

 

Chocolate Tahini Cake

 

Chocolate Tahini Cake

 

Chocolate Tahini Cake

 

Chocolate Tahini Cake

 

Chocolate Tahini Cake

Peach, Chèvre and Rosemary Tart

Peach, Chèvre and Rosemary Tarte

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

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

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

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

This recipe also works with grapes!

Peach, Chèvre and Rosemary Tarte

 

Peach, Chèvre and Rosemary Tarte

Peach, Chèvre and Rosemary Tart

Makes 1 (28cm / 11″) tart, serves 4-6

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

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

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

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

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

Peach, Chèvre and Rosemary Tarte

 

Peach, Chèvre and Rosemary Tarte

 

Peach, Chèvre and Rosemary Tarte

 

Peach, Chèvre and Rosemary Tarte

 

peachchevrerosemarytart_IG7

 

peachchevrerosemarytart_IG6

 

peachchevrerosemarytart_IG4

 

peachchevrerosemarytart_IG3

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Pie

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Pie

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

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

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Pie

 

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Pie

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Pie

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

Makes 1 pie

For the cherries

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

For the pastry

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

For the meringue

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

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

For the pastry, in the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and use a knife to cut it into the flour until there are just small pieces left. Quickly rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until crumbly. Add the water and, using the hooks of the stand mixer, mix until combined. Form the dough into a thick disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Pie

 

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Pie

 

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Pie

 

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Pie

 

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Pie

 

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Pie

 

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Pie

Camembert, Pear and Thyme Challah

Camembert and Pear Challah

A lot of cracking and aching was going on in the oven while I watched my camembert, pear, and thyme challah bake. At one point I got worried that my braided bread was going to explode. It rose and expanded on all sides, it looked more like a challah pancake than the elegant breaded loaf I had in mind. Maybe I filled the single yeast dough strings a bit too generously with ripe – and stinky – cheese and chopped crisp fruit, but I had a feeling that the recipe needed it. So I trusted, which is always the only sensible thing a baker can do when the object of attention doesn’t perform as expected.

To my surprise, it worked out in the end and the shape still reminded me of a Hefezopf – the German name for challah. I used my classic plain challah recipe and replaced the sugar with honey. It’s common in Germany to use butter and milk for this kind of bread, instead of water and vegetable oil, which you usually find in traditional challah recipes. I like the added richness coming from the dairy products, I find it tastier. Seeing as the fruit and cheese bring in even more juice and moistness, I could have made the dough a bit drier, added more flour to help it keep its shape. But the final texture was so nice, soft and spongy, that I’d rather accept the pancake-look than ending up with a dry Hefezopf.

If you don’t feel like camembert, you can also go for any other aromatic cheese that melts well. I already have a raclette challah in mind, next time. And I’m sure that apricots or peaches would also do a pretty good job instead of the pear. So feel free to experiment, but keep in mind, the juicier the fruit, the more it’ll soften your dough.

This challah is a perfect picnic, brunch, or Saturday lunch treat, preferably accompanied by fresh fruits, wine, and a selection of cheese and prosciutto. A green salad with juicy tomatoes also goes very well with it.

Camembert and Pear Challah

 

Camembert and Pear Challah

Camembert, Pear and Thyme Challah

When I baked my challah, it was a very hot day. So the butter in the dough literarily melted in my hands and turned braiding into a fiddly task. The single braids stretched quicker than I reacted, I was too slow. If you also happen to go for this recipe on a day with high temperatures, to avoid stress and frustration, try to work quickly when you braid the loaf. Keep the braids a bit shorter to begin with, due to the filling they’ll expand in length.

Makes 1 large challah

honey 2 tablespoons
butter, melted, 100g / 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons
milk, lukewarm, 150ml / 2/3 cup
organic eggs 2
plain flour 520-550g / 4 cups – 4 cups plus 4 tablespoons
fast-acting yeast 1 sachet (7g / 1/4 ounce)
fine sea salt 1 teaspoon

For the filling

aged camembert, cooled and cut into thin strips (it’ll be a mess if it’s too soft), 250g / 9 ounces
medium to large firm pear, cored and cut into tiny cubes, 1
fresh thyme and a little rosemary (the needles, chopped), a large handful

For the glaze

organic egg yolk 1
water 1 tablespoon

Stir the honey into the hot melted butter and whisk until combined, let it cool until it’s lukewarm. Add the milk and eggs and whisk, the mixture should be lukewarm.

In a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, combine the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the milk-butter mixture to the flour mixture and mix for about 5 minutes or until well combined and smooth. If it’s too soft and sticky, add a little (!) more flour. Continue kneading and punching with your hands for about 3-5 minutes or until you have a soft and silky ball of dough. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with a tea towel, and let rise in a warm place, or preferably in a 35°C (100°F) warm oven, for 60-70 minutes or until almost doubled in size. If it’s a hot summer day, you can let the dough rise at room temperature (that’s what I did this time).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

When the dough is puffy and almost doubled in size, punch it down, take it out of the bowl, and knead for about 30 seconds. Divide into 3 parts and roll them into longish, but not too thin sausage sausage shapes (see picture above). Flatten each piece of dough until it’s roughly 7.5 cm / 3″ wide. Divide the camembert, pear, and herbs between the 3 pieces of dough and spread, leaving a little rim all around the filling. Fold over each piece of dough, roll it gently, and seal the overlapping side and ends well. The filling should be completely wrapped inside the dough.

To braid the bread, work quickly, as the dough stretches. Lay the ends of the dough rolls on top of each other at one end and braid them tightly. If they become too long and thin, squeeze them together a little. Bend both ends of the bread under the loaf and quickly transfer to the lined baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for about 40-50 minutes or until fluffy.

Preheat the oven to 190°C / 375°F (conventional setting).

For the glaze, whisk the egg yolk and water and brush the top of the challah. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and spongy. When you knock on the challah’s bottom, it should sound hollow. Let it cool for a few minutes before cutting the bread into thick slices.

The challah tastes best on the 1st day.

Camembert and Pear Challah

 

Camembert and Pear Challah

 

Camembert and Pear Challah

 

Camembert and Pear Challah

 

Camembert and Pear Challah

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