eat in my kitchen

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Tag: gruyère

Gruyère and Red Onion Focaccia

Gruyère and Red Onion Focaccia

We spent our Christmas in the Mediterranean, a premier for me, we normally stay in the cold North. I decorate our tree and the rest of the apartment according to my annual passion for wintery kitsch, and I eat duck, German potato dumplings, and usually (always) too many cookies. 2016 was different, we decided to go to Sicily first and spend a few relaxing days in the heart of the Archaeological Park of Agrigento (I’ll share my impressions with you next week). Malta was next on our itinerary, and with it came along lots of sunshine, rough seas, long walks in the countryside, and my wonderful, crazy Maltese family. It was loud and silly, we ate and drank too much wine in front of my Maltese Mama’s gorgeous crib in Msida, and I was happy.

I learned that a proper crib is an important part of the Maltese celebration, and I’m talking about cribs of rather large dimensions, well equipped with colourful figures, various animals, a real stable setting made of rocks, and most importantly, an impressive light installation to represent the firmament. Every house leaves the main door open, so that passersby can peak through the glass door to admire the re-enacted scenes of Jesus’ birth. I’ve seen impressive installations that leave no doubt that the Maltese take Christmas very seriously.

Being under the hot Mediterranean sun in the coldest season of the year has many advantages, my vitamin D resources are definitely recharged. Everything is fine as long as you stay outside the house, inside it’s freezing cold. A country where the temperature barely drops below 16°C (60°F) doesn’t really have to think about those few days of sharp chill. But a person who’s used to central heating – me – has to get used to the fact that the bedroom (and the bathroom!) can actually feel much colder than the air outside. I coped and complained, but our sunny walks along the lush green Dingli cliffs definitely made up for it.

And I’ll never forget our New Year’s Eve in Gozo, we stayed at a beautiful farmhouse at the border of the village of Qala. We had a gorgeous room, with a large terrace and the most stunning views of the islands of Comino and Malta. We ordered 3 (!) pizzas from the local Maxokk bakery, bought a bottle of local red wine from my friends at Meridiana, and just sat on the sofa, amazed by the peace in front of our eyes.

I had never seen Malta like this, so green and in full bloom. My past travels covered everything from March to October, but I always avoided the winter months. I’d love to show you pictures, but I was on a mission, I didn’t touch my camera, I stayed offline most of the time, and I slowed down my pace drastically. So there are no pictures, but lots of beautiful memories of time spent in nature, silent, without any disturbing technical devices.

However, when we came back to Berlin, I noticed a slight feeling of dissatisfaction, I missed my Christmas. To make up for my nostalgic longings, I decided to have a Christmas week in January. In the past few days, I baked Christmas cookies and my boyfriend had to listen to me singing along to Christmas carols. My celebrations found their festive peak in a Christmas dinner for two with slow roasted duck (I used the recipe from my book), red cabbage with spices and apples, and German potato dumplings. Now I’m cured and we can move on with our lives – also in the kitchen.

My latest post-Christmas kitchen project led to a hearty yet airy focaccia, topped with thickly sliced red onions roasted on top of the dough in lots of olive oil and a generous amount of aromatic Swiss Gruyère cheese. It’s pure comfort food. I cut a thick slice off the warm bread and enjoyed it on a chair that I placed close to the heater. I doubt I ever appreciated central heating as much as I do now.

If you’re looking for some more focaccia inspiration, take a look at these recipes:

Fig, Chèvre and Honey Focaccia

Emiko Davies Florentine Grape Focaccia

Herb Focaccia with Zucchini, Aubergine and Parmesan

Focaccia with Grapes, Rosemary and Sea Salt

Gruyère and Red Onion Focaccia

 

Gruyère and Red Onion Focaccia

Gruyère and Red Onion Focaccia

Makes a 25 x 32cm / 10 x 12 1/2″ focaccia

For the dough

plain flour 500g / 3 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons
fast-acting yeast 1 (7g / 1/4 ounce) envelope
fine sea salt 1 teaspoon
granulated sugar 1 heaping teaspoon
water, lukewarm, 260ml / 1 cup and 2 tablespoons
olive oil 120ml / 1/2 cup, plus 1-2 tablespoons to oil the baking sheet

For the topping

Swiss Gruyère cheese, or any aromatic hard cheese, coarsely grated, 100g / 7 ounces
red onions, thickly sliced, 2
flaky sea salt
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar

For the dough, combine the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the lukewarm water and half the olive oil (60ml / 1/4 cup) and knead on medium-high speed for a few minutes until well combined. I mix it on ‘4’ on my KitchenAid. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour. Transfer the dough to a table or countertop and continue kneading and punching it down with your hands for about 4 minutes or until you have a smooth and elastic ball of dough. Place the dough back in the mixer bowl, cover with a tea towel, and let rise in a warm place, or preferably in a 35°C / 100°F warm oven (conventional setting), for about 60 minutes or until doubled in size.

Oil a 25 x 32cm / 10 x 12 1/2″ baking sheet.

When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down, take it out of the bowl, and knead for 1 minute. Using your hands, stretch and spread the dough on the oiled baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for about 20 minutes or until puffy.

Preheat the oven to 220°C / 425°F (convection setting).

Using the round bottom of a wooden spoon or your finger, punch around 6 x 7 holes into the surface of the dough. Arrange the sliced onions on top of the dough, pushing the slices gently into the dough. Pour the remaining olive oil over the dough and onion and into the holes. Sprinkle with the cheese and a little flaky sea salt and bake for 20 minutes or until golden and light brown. Sprinkle with crushed pepper and enjoy warm or cold. The focaccia tastes best on the first day.

Gruyère and Red Onion Focaccia

 

Gruyère and Red Onion Focaccia

 

Gruyère and Red Onion Focaccia

 

Gruyère and Red Onion Focaccia

 

Gruyère and Red Onion Focaccia

Potato and Apple Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Walnut Butter and Gruyère

Potato and Appel Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Walnut Butter

Here we are again: I’ve reached that critical time of the year – as always in February – when it’s still all about cabbage and roots at the market, but my mind starts dreaming of juicy tomatoes and cucumbers, sweet berries and peaches, and seafood dinners at the sea – basically my summers in Malta. Luckily, February is quite a short month, then we have March, which at least offers ramps towards its end. In April I can feel the sun getting warmer, the sky becomes brighter, and the produce on my counter tops slowly starts to look more colourful. But for now, I must be patient and enjoy what I’ve got – a beautiful crisp head of cabbage.

I blanched the large outer cabbage leaves and stuffed them with boiled potatoes, sour apple, fresh thyme, and a few spoonfuls of mascarpone, instead of sour cream, to bind the mixture. My personal highlight was the topping of crunchy walnut butter and freshly grated Gruyère. Any aromatic hard cheese would work here, but there’s something about this combination of the roasted nuts and this slightly sweet Swiss cheese that fits perfectly to these little wintery cabbage packages.

Potato and Appel Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Walnut Butter

 

Potato and Appel Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Walnut Butter

Potato and Apple Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Walnut Butter and Gruyère

For the cabbage rolls

large white or green cabbage leaves 8
peeled potatoes, boiled and chopped, about 250g / 9 ounces
small apple, peeled, cored and chopped, 1
fresh thyme leaves 1 tablespoon
mascarpone (or sour cream or ricotta) 3 tablespoons
organic egg 1
nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
fine sea salt
ground pepper
white wine

For the walnut butter

butter 60g / 1/4 cup
walnuts, roughly chopped, 25g / 1 ounce

For the topping

Gruyère, or any aromatic hard cheese, finely grated, about 2 tablespoons
a few fresh thyme leaves
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar

For the cabbage leaves, take a large cabbage head and trim the bottom. Carefully peel off 8 large outer leaves. If they tear a little, it’s fine. You’ll only need 4-5 blanched leaves, blanch the remaining leaves to cover torn patches in the leaves that you use for the rolls.

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 390°F.

In a large pot, bring salted water to the boil and blanch the cabbage leaves for about 4-6 minutes or until tender. Rinse quickly under cold water, drain and cut out the hard stalk (in a slim triangle-shape).

For the filling, in a large bowl, combine the boiled potatoes, apple, and thyme. Whisk together the mascarpone and egg and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add to the potato-apple mixture, stir to combine, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Lay 4-5 cabbage leaves flat on the kitchen counter and cover torn parts with soft pieces of the remaining leaves. Put a generous tablespoon of the filling in the middle of each cabbage leaf, fold up the sides and roll it up, starting from the side of the stalk. Don’t worry if they don’t look perfect, mine didn’t either. They can all have their individual shape.

Transfer the cabbage rolls to a baking dish and cover the bottom with a splash of white wine and some water. Bake in the oven for about 30-35 minutes or until golden and firm.

While the cabbage rolls are baking in the oven, prepare the walnut butter: In a small saucepan, melt the butter on high heat. When it’s sizzling hot, add the walnuts and turn the heat down to medium. Roast for 10-20 seconds or until golden but not dark. Take the saucepan off the heat.

Divide the cabbage rolls between plates and drizzle with a little butter. Sprinkle with the roasted walnuts, fresh thyme, Gruyère, and crushed pepper.

Potato and Appel Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Walnut Butter

 

Potato and Appel Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Walnut Butter

 

potatoapplestuffedcabbagerolls9

 

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About helping and sharing – and a Provençal Artichoke Quiche

Provençal Artichoke Quiche

Everybody’s life can be a feast and a tragedy at times, it can be calm and peaceful in one second and rocky and rough in the next. In these moments, all of us need a helping hand or someone who listens. I believe, I know, that there’s no one out there who wasn’t ever in need of help. It starts when we’re born, when our mothers are there for us, giving without asking for anything in return. That’s love. And all along the way, we meet so many people who are there for us and reach out when in need. Shouldn’t we all be willing to do so? Why is it so hard for some to show compassion and be there for the ones in need of help? Why can’t we – as those who are much better off and on more stable ground – be there for the ones who are hurt, exiled and persecuted? I believe we should treat others as we would want to be treated. If we refuse to help why should we expect help when we are in a difficult situation?

My grandmother decided to leave East Germany when the wall – die Mauer – was being built, she had to flee with 6 children. They went to West Germany with literally nothing, they left their farm and land behind to escape a regime that she and her husband didn’t want their children to grow up in. They we’re refugees in what was once their own country. But they weren’t alone, many people helped them to build up their future, many shared the little they had and my family managed to get back on their feet. 40 years later, East Germany was in need of help, the people of the West gave a share of what they had, out of solidarity, to rebuild a part of the country that had suffered for decades. The people in the East received help. That’s compassion. Today, hundred thousands of people are willing to risk their lives and leave their homes to seek help in Europe and other wealthy parts of the world, to escape political systems that are also no longer safe to live in. Wouldn’t we all do the same? Didn’t we do the same throughout the history of human kind?

Provençal Artichoke Quiche

Paul from the Einfach-Lecker-Essen blog started the Blogger für Flüchtlinge (Bloggers for Refugees) initiative with a few of his friends to call for support and collect donations for refugee camps, first only in Berlin, and now all over Germany. The movement is growing quickly and more and more stand up every day to give a helping hand to the ones in need. Please spread the word if you write a blog (#BloggerFuerFluechtlinge), you can support the initiative with a donation here.

Today’s recipe is a dish that is practically made to be shared – a fragrant golden quiche. A quiche is like a friend, it always makes me feel good and at home wherever I am, it’s down to earth comfort food. Add some preserved artichoke hearts, tomatoes, olives, thyme and aromatic Gruyère cheese to the filling and you have a late summer Provençal picnic tart. And when we sit there in peace, enjoying the food together with the ones we love, a scene that’s so normal for most of us, we shouldn’t forget that this is what everybody aspires to. Nothing more and nothing less.

Provençal Artichoke Quiche

Provençal Artichoke Quiche

For a 30cm / 12″ tart pan or baking dish you need

For the short crust base

plain flour 260g / 2 cups
salt 1 teaspoon
butter, cold 130g / 4 1/2 ounces
organic egg 1

For the filling

organic eggs 4
heavy cream 125ml / 1/2 cup
sour cream 175g / 3/4 cup
fresh thyme leaves 3 tablespoons plus a few sprigs for the topping
salt 1 teaspoon
ground pepper
nutmeg, freshly grated, a generous amount
large preserved artichoke hearts, cut in half (lengthwise), 3
black olives (preferably Kalamata) 10
cherry tomatoes, cut in half, 10
Gruyère cheese (or any other aromatic hard cheese), grated, 2-3 tablespoons

For the pastry, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter with a knife into the flour until there are just little pieces of butter left. Continue with your fingers and rub the butter into the flour until combined. Add the egg and continue mixing with the hooks of your mixer until you have a crumbly mixture. Form a disc, wrap in cling film and put in the freezer for 12 minutes.

Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F (top/ bottom heat).

Roll out the dough between cling film and line the baking dish with the flat pastry. Prick it with a fork and blind-bake in the hot oven for 15 minutes or until golden.

Take the baking dish out of the oven and set the temperature down to 180°C / 355°F.

Whisk  the eggs with the heavy cream, sour cream, thyme, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Arrange the artichoke hearts, olives and tomatoes on top of the pre-baked pastry base, pour in the egg-cream mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Bake the quiche in the oven for about 55 minutes or until golden brown, the top should be firm. Let it cool for a few minutes and garnish with the thyme sprigs. Serve cold or warm.

Provençal Artichoke Quiche

 

Provençal Artichoke Quiche

 

Provençal Artichoke Quiche

 

Provençal Artichoke Quiche

 

provencalquiche16

 

provencalquiche13

Roast Garlic and Gruyère Sandwich

Roast Garlic + Cheese Sandwich

Garlic roasted in its skin is one of these things I can never have (or make) enough of. No matter how many of these little cloves I throw into the hot oven, I always feel like I could have made more. They cook in their delicate peel like in a little parchment pouch, steaming, softening and unfolding all of their wonderful flavours. It tastes less spicy than raw garlic but yet so aromatic, almost sweet and the texture is smooth, a bit oily. It’s a great spread on bread!

Garlic is considered a natural antibiotic which has lots of positive effects on the body. It strengthens the immune system, stops free radicals and slows down the aging process. A tiny bulb that does a lot of good for our body! I strongly believe in the healing and strengthening powers of natural and good quality food. This is one of the reasons why I buy organic food as much as possible. I want natural food which is kept natural, no GMOs, no pesticides, food attuned to the ecological system and not against it. A few years ago I started to drink organic green tea with freshly squeezed lemon juice every morning, since then I haven’t had a cold or become sick!

There must be something in garlic that my body loves and when it comes to roast garlic I feel like I could eat it with a spoon, in strong doses like in this sandwich made with 14 cloves of garlic for just 2 buns! I baked medium sized cloves of garlic in their skin in a 210°C / 410°F hot oven for about 12 minutes until golden and soft (you can cover them with aluminum foil if they start to get too dark). They were so soft that I could mash them with a fork, I just added some salt and spread the paste on the buns. I put a couple slices of Swiss Gruyère cheese on top (120g / 4.5 ounces for 4 halfs) and let them melt under the grill for 1-2 minutes until golden brown. I finished my sandwich off with crushed black pepper and some watercress sprinkled on top.

An oily and dense Ciabatta bread would have been good too but when I saw the Swiss Buns at the bakery which have a similar texture to the Italian bread I thought they would match the Gruyère cheese perfectly, it became a delicious and healthy Swiss sandwich!

Roast Garlic + Cheese Sandwich

 

Roast Garlic + Cheese Sandwich

 

Roast Garlic + Cheese Sandwich

 

Roast Garlic + Cheese Sandwich

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