eat in my kitchen

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Avocado, Melon and Fennel Salad with Mint

Avocado, Melon and Fennel Salad

This is the official start to my salad season. In the next month, I’ll be indulging – daily – in simple yet scrumptious compositions of tasty vegetables and juice-dripping fruits. Chopped and tossed with a quick vinaigrette or just a dash of olive oil and some flaky sea salt from Gozo. Ripe tomatoes, cucumber, fennel, radicchio, carrots and peas, the sweetest peaches, pears, and plums – summertime offers a firework of flavours and I’m ready to celebrate each single one of them.

My next few weeks will bring the kind of temperature into my life that makes you think twice if it’s really necessary to switch on the gas cooker. We’ll be off to Malta soon and that means it will be 30°C (90°F) in the early morning and more than 40°C (105°F) at noon – this calls for a different menu. It’ll be hot, but I won’t complain, it’s the time of the year that I look forward to the most. I can run around in an airy dress all day and late night swims won’t leave me chilled – it’s warm enough to sit on the rocks with wet hair when the sun has already sunk into the sea. I can basically live outside 24 hours a day, that’s my kind of paradise.

In the Mediterranean, you have to go with the flow and stay flexible, so we keep the cooking plan as open as possible to adjust to our mood. You can always find a large jar of fresh, homemade basil pesto in the fridge and, of course, the whole variety of Malta’s crop fresh from my favourite farmer Leli’s fields, all piled up on the table and shelves. Fresh oregano, marjoram, basil, and the spiciest arugula are ready to be picked in the garden and always at hand to refine a chunk of creamy mozzarella di bufala, a crunchy bruschetta from the BBQ, or a 5-ingredient pasta dish: Give me spaghetti, olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs and I’m happy. If I’m lucky, there will still be a few lemons on the tree in the family garden in Msida. The season’s over but my Maltese mama always keeps a few fruits on the tree for me, she knows how much a German girl enjoys the treat of picking the lemon for her morning tea straight from the branch.

I decided that I’ll spoil myself with a kind of luxury that doesn’t cost anything: To slow down and keep it simple, to let go of constant planning and rigid expectations. I know that I’ll sit at the sea for hours, quite possible every day, but that’s as far as my schedule goes. We’ll be away for a month to stay with our Mediterranean family, we won’t stop working, but we’ll definitely take a great chunk of time off, it will be a different pace. To give myself enough time for the transition from my northern to my southern rhythm, I’ll prepare a few recipes here in Berlin to share with you in the first two weeks of my holiday. Once I get into the groove, I’ll write about my Maltese kitchen life. Until then, I will enjoy a foretaste of what my taste buds have to expect: a simple salad of velvety avocado, honey-sweet Cantaloupe melon, and crispy fennel – topped with fresh mint and a light vinaigrette.

Avocado, Melon and Fennel Salad

 

Avocado, Melon and Fennel Salad

Avocado, Melon and Fennel Salad with Mint

Serves 2

For the dressing

olive oil 3 tablespoons
white balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon
freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 tablespoon
fine sea salt
ground pepper

For the salad

soft avocado, peeled and cut into thin wedges, 1
small fennel bulb, cored and very thinly sliced, 1
small Cantaloupe melon, peeled and cut into thin wedges, 1/2
fresh mint leaves, a small handful

For the dressing, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Arrange the avocado, fennel, and melon in layers in a wide bowl. Drizzle with the dressing and sprinkle with mint leaves and serve immediately.

Avocado, Melon and Fennel Salad

 

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fennelmelonsalad9

Bacon, Egg and Cheese Sandwich with Garden Vegetables

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich with Garden Vegetables

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

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

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

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

Grilled Persimmon, Ham and Cheese Sandwich with Basil

Zucchini Cheese Fritter Sandwich with Strawberries and Lemon Balm

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich with Garden Vegetables

 

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich with Garden Vegetables

Egg, Bacon and Cheese Sandwich with Garden Vegetables

Makes 2 large sandwiches

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

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

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

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

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich with Garden Vegetables

 

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich with Garden Vegetables

 

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich with Garden Vegetables

 

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich with Garden Vegetables

 

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Mâche, Avocado and Raspberry Salad with Honey

Mâche, Avocado + Raspberry Salad

This week I can’t get enough berries! When I see all those boxes filled with tiny colourful berries at the market I don’t even know where to start. Raspberries, gooseberries, red currants, strawberries, so much to choose from! Unfortunately, they haven’t reached their peak in sweetness yet due to our disastrous summer weather, but I enjoy them nonetheless. I can’t wait any longer, we only have them for a few months and I don’t want to miss out.

As much as I love to throw these fruits on tarts or enjoy them as a fruity nibbling alternative to chocolate, they are just as good in fresh and crunchy salads. Combined with the slices of a ripe and velvety avocado, they bring some freshness into the mix. Some mâche salad (also known as field salad or lamb’s lettuce) mixed in adds some crunchy bite, perfect for those hot days which I’m still hoping for optimistically. I’ll be in Malta soon, there I will definitely get my boiling hot summer weather but I won’t find my delicate raspberries. Sometimes you can’t have everything in life!

For the 2 of us, I spread a handful of lettuce on 2 plates and coverd each of them with the slices of a quarter of a soft avocado and 8 raspberries. I wanted to keep the dressing sweet and fruity, you can use either Balsamico vinegar or raspberry vinegar (or mix the two of them). Whisk 3 tablespoons of olive oil with 2 tablespoons of vinegar, add 1/2 a teaspoon of honey and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over your salad sparingly.

Mâche, Avocado + Raspberry Salad

 

Mâche, Avocado + Raspberry Salad

Guacamole Bagel with spicy Chili Peppers

Guacamole Bagel

Whenever I make guacamole I have to make lots of it, I can eat it with a spoon! When an avocado is so smooth, ripe and buttery that you can scoop it out like an ice cream, it doesn’t really need anything more. If only there wasn’t this addictive Mexican dip which combines the fruit’s oily richness with lemon juice, coriander, salt and pepper. There are endless variations on it, I always try out new versions, this time I added some sour cream and freshly chopped red chili pepper.

For this week’s Sandwich Wednesday I had a bagel in mind. I had a couple of them in my freezer from the last batch I baked (I haven’t forgotten that I still have to share the recipe, it will come soon!). For the guacamole, I chopped 2 ripe avocados roughly and mashed them with a fork, just a little as I wanted a lumpy texture. I mixed them with 2 tablespoons of sour cream, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, salt and pepper and added 1 red chili pepper (without seeds) cut into tiny cubes and 2 tablespoons of roughly chopped coriander leaves. Spread on a juicy bagel or any other nice bun, it’s divine!

Guacamole Bagel

 

Guacamole Bagel

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