eat in my kitchen

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Tag: Hauptstadtmutti

meet in your kitchen | Isa’s Beetroot Risotto with Chèvre and Mint

Beetroot Risotto with Chèvre and Mint

On to part II of Berlin’s Hauptstadtmutti cooking session! The popular mother, fashion and lifestyle blog is run by Isa and Claudia, both such vibrant and inspiring ladies that I had to visit both of their culinary spaces. Two weeks ago, I learned how to make Claudia’s Ukrainian Pelmeni dumplings (you can read about it here) and now it’s time to cook in Isa’s kitchen.

It was cold and snowy as I made my way to meet Isa, the city was wrapped in a wintery grey and, although it was already 10 in the morning, it was quite dark when I reached the old house where the young mother lives with her little family of four. The imposing building is one of the few on the street which hasn’t been renovated, the facade crumbling between the majestic window frames which gives it quite a morbid charm, you can still see the beauty of the past. It looks a bit like an abandoned house in a fairy tale, it’s more than impressive and it sparked my fantasy when I walked up the creaking steps to knock on Isa’s wooden door. But then, when I entered her home, I was speechless, endless rooms and corridors, herringbone parquet floors, high ceilings lined with decorative stucco and large windows which let in the most dreamy light. Within seconds I fell in love with this elegant but cosy home!

Beetroot Risotto with Chèvre and Mint

Isa started Hauptstadtmutti in 2011 together with Claudia. In the first part of our cooking series I talked about their fascinating and complementary personalities which led to the two meet in your kitchen features. Both women share an international upbringing which confronted them with various cultures at a young age. Claudia grew up with an Eastern European background and Isa had quite an adventurous childhood, she lived in Baghdad in Iraq during the first 4 years of her life. Her father was a successful engineer who used to live in East Germany with his wife before his skills took him and his young family to the Middle East to design pump stations. Back in East Germany, he was also involved in the construction of the GDR’s first nuclear power station. Despite this experience, or perhaps because of it, the whole family turned to a more alternative lifestyle in the following years. They became politically active, focussed on natural home grown food and raised awareness for healthy living.

As a teenager, Isa joined yoga and meditation classes together with her father and mother. Today, her parents practice Tai Chi together with their friends in the family’s grand garden which is part of an old farm established by Isa’s grandfather. The family takes their well-being into their own hands, one generation after the other, and the next one is waiting in line. Isa passes her experiences on to her children and although they are still quite young they can already enjoy her delicious food. Isa’s cooking truly pleases the taste buds, she creates culinary moments of bliss without regrets, her food is healthy, with organic ingredients, and full of flavour. She made a fantastic beetroot risotto for me, it was  cooked to perfection, the rice corns and roots were al dente, just how I like it. She refined her composition with chèvre, parmesan and fresh mint – a great composition I can only recommend!

Beetroot Risotto with Chèvre and Mint

Beetroot Risotto with Chèvre and Mint

For 2-3 people you need

small beetroot 2
risotto rice (Arborio) 250g / 9 ounces
onions 2
glove of garlic 1
honey 1 tablespoon
a shot of white wine
vegetable broth 1/2-1 l / 1-2 pints
grated parmesan cheese, a handful
butter 1 tablespoon
olive oil
salt and pepper
mint 4 small branches
fresh goat cheese (chèvre), for the topping

Peel the beetroot, garlic and onions and cut them into cubes. The larger the beetroot cubes, the more bite they’ll have. Warm up the broth in a saucepan, it should be simmering.

In a large pan, heat some olive oil and cook the onions and garlic until glassy and soft. Add the beetroot and honey to the onion and let it caramelise slightly, add the rice and let it cook for a minute. Deglaze with a splash of white wine and add a ladle of broth. When the liquid has been absorbed add more broth, a little at a time stirring in between. When the rice is al dente, take the pan off the heat. Stir in the butter and parmesan cheese and let them melt into the rice. Season with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with chèvre and mint to serve.

Beetroot Risotto with Chèvre and Mint

 

Beetroot Risotto with Chèvre and Mint

You spent the first three years of your life in Iraq due to your father’s work as an engineer before your family moved back to East Germany. How did this experience influence your family and how did it effect your own personality?

Concerning that I should probably explain that my parents were neither in the communist party nor in the homeland security of former East Germany so it was quite a mission for them to get to live and work outside the country. But they made it because of their skills and raised my brother and I to believe that “You can get everywhere if you really want it”. That really brought me to a lot of places and made me later want to live in other countries as well. We also have a very open minded attitude towards other cultures in our family.

Do you think traveling is important for children to get to know different cultures and mentalities? Can you give some tips for traveling with young children?

If they are very young I don’t know. They will not really remember it. We did not travel too far away with our kids yet. Switzerland, France, Denmark. It is not that stressful for them but sometimes for us, the parents. Sometimes it is more fun to spend a week at the Baltic Sea than to travel for hours and hours. It is always good to have plenty of books with you, especially Wimmelbücher (picture books).

Your parents encouraged a great awareness for natural food and a healthy lifestyle by their own way of living. How did they influence your consumption, your cooking and the food you buy?

Oh yes, my mother was very into healthy food when we were young and still is. She cooks her own jams from the fruits of her garden and we always ate fruits and vegetables from the garden. She always uses fresh and natural ingredients. The older I get, and of course with children, I try to live as healthy as I can too. I usually buy local or organic fruits and vegetables.

You went to high school in the US for one year, what fascinated you about this new culture? What are your culinary memories?

Everybody was very very friendly and I just had a very great teenage time there. Culinary memories? Donuts, cheeseburger, tacos and ice cream (smiling)!

As an au pair in Paris, you also experienced the French cuisine for one year. What did you like about the food there?

It is very pure, many vegetables and beef and lots of seafood. I liked that very much and the oysters. I learned how to eat oysters. Delicious!

Did your cooking change since you became a mother? Do you have any tips to make cooking for and eating with young children easier?

I really changed into organic and local food. Eating with young children is easy. I always cooked the baby food by myself. This is totally easy and does not take a long time. What I learned is that young children want a variety and a change of food every day. They do not like to eat the same thing every day over and over. My tip is to always try to eat the same as your kids. They copy you and will (often) try more.

What was the first dish you cooked on your own, what is your first cooking memory?

The first dish was Spaghetti Bolognese. I learned this when I was 12 when my mother was away for an allergy cure and our father taught it to my brother and I.

As a fashion observer and blogger, which are your 3 most helpful fashion tips for young mothers?

1. Always carry a large scarf for nursing in public.
2. Get a new haircut. It makes you feel good.
3. Buy at least 3 shirts or dresses which make nursing comfortable.

Where do you find creative inspiration?

In Berlin, walking around the city and on the internet reading international blogs and magazines.

What are your favourite places to buy and enjoy food in Berlin?

I love to eat at Cordobar. Great food and the largest selection of wine. And I like to buy food at Mitte Meer.

What did you choose to share on eat in my kitchen?

Beetroot risotto.

If you could choose one person to cook a meal for you, who and what would it be?

Janine (a friend), roasted root vegetables.

You’re going to have ten friends over for a spontaneous dinner, what will be on the table?

Risotto!

What was your childhood’s culinary favourite and what is it now?

Spaghetti Bolognese and now it is fish, especially Sushi.

Do you prefer to cook on your own or together with others?

Together with others.

Which meals do you prefer, improvised or planned?

Planned.

Which meal would you never cook again?

Octopus.

Thank you Isa!

Beetroot Risotto with Chèvre and Mint

 

Beetroot Risotto with Chèvre and Mint

 

Beetroot Risotto with Chèvre and Mint

 

Beetroot Risotto with Chèvre and Mint

 

Beetroot Risotto with Chèvre and Mint

meet in your kitchen | Claudia’s Ukrainian Pelmeni Dumplings

Pelmeni Dumplings

Claudia and Isa from the popular blog Hauptstadtmutti are like sisters, when you’re in a room together with them you can feel their closeness and loyalty. Their characters seem aligned, despite their entirely different personalities. They call themselves an old couple, which is one of the biggest compliments for a friendship as it shows the respect and appreciation for each other, at least in their case! The mutual understanding also comes from the fact that the two women live similar lives, they are young, working mothers, they share similar interests and daily issues but also a big passion for fashion! Claudia and Isa only met five years ago and made a big step together, the energetic art director and journalist brought their different qualities together and merged them into their daily blog Hauptstadtmutti (meaning mother of the capitol in German). It soon became a vivid space for Berlin’s mothers, their individual style and creative personalities. Pure elegance meets cool effortlessness and eclectic practicality, these mothers defy conventions and break with expectations. Clicking through the blog’s street style portraits is an inspiration for any woman!

We planned to have a joint cooking session in one of their culinary spaces, but as both of them are so fascinating and their lives and personalities offer so much to talk about, we decided to split the Hauptstadtmutti kitchen series into two parts. So today, we’ll start off with part I, in Claudia’s cosy old rooftop flat where she lives with her 5 year old son, a true gentleman who welcomed me with a handshake.

Claudia’s mother is from the Ukraine which brought an Eastern European influence to the family’s cooking. I’m not very familiar with the country’s cuisine so I was very happy when she offered to cook one of the most popular traditional specialities for me. Claudia shared her old family recipe for little meat filled dumplings called pelmeni with me which are traditionally served with crème fraîche, white wine vinegar, mustard and parsley. She uses a beautiful utensil for the preparation which looks a bit like honeycombs made of iron. For the dumpling preparation, she covered this pelmeni maker with a thin layer of pastry, filled each comb with a little ball of spiced minced meat and put another pastry layer on top before she gently rolled over it with a rolling pin. Within seconds, the dumplings were closed and cut into perfectly shaped pelmenis! When I saw Claudia pushing the dumplings out of the frame with her fingers I understood why her little son loves to cook this dish together with her, this is fun!

As much as I enjoyed the preparation, savoring this meal was a delight. There’s no doubt why this is her son’s favorite meal, it’s delicious, honest comfort food. Claudia said that the older generation in the Ukraine still shapes the dumplings with their fingers, the traditional way, without the iron pelmeni maker. I can just see the families standing around a wooden table in the warm kitchen, rolling out dough and filling the pelmenis, like we did on a cold January day in Berlin!

Soon I’ll meet Isa in her kitchen for the second part of our Hauptstadtmutti cooking series – to be continued!

Pelmeni Dumplings

 

Pelmeni Dumplings

 Ukrainian Pelmeni Dumplings

For 6 people you need

For the dough

plain flour 500g / 1 pound
salt 1 teaspoon
water 250ml / 1/2 pint
egg 1

Put the flour in a large bowl and form a well in the middle. Add the salt, water and egg, mix with a fork and slowly stir in the flour from the sides. Knead well with your hands to a firm dough, add more flour if necessary. You should be able to tear the dough when it’s done. Let it rest while you prepare the filling.

 

For the filling

minced meat (pork and beef) 400g / 14 ounces
medium sized onion, finely chopped, 1
egg 1
salt 1 teaspoon
pepper

Mix the ingredients for the filling and shape little meat balls (thumbnail sized).

 

For the pelmeni

meat broth, well seasoned, 2l / 4.5 pints
melted butter, for serving
mustard, for serving
crème fraîche, for serving
white wine vinegar, for serving
parsley, for serving
crushed pepper, for serving

Bring the broth to the boil.

Take a handful of the dough and roll it out very thinly on a well floured surface. If you have a pelmeni maker, cover it with a layer of dough and fill each comb with a little meat ball. Close it with another thin dough layer and gently roll over it with a rolling pin to seal the dumplings and push them through the wholes.

If you want to shape the dumplings by hand, lay the thinly rolled dough on the working surface, spread the meat balls evenly, cover with another layer of dough and cut small squares or circles with a knife or a pizza cutter. Seal each dumpling well by pushing the rim together.

Gently add the dumplings (in batches) to the hot broth and cook on medium-low heat (simmering) for about 7 minutes. Take them out with a slotted ladle and mix the pelmenis with the melted butter. Serve the dumplings with a spoonful of mustard and crème fraîche and sprinkle with pepper, vinegar and parsley.

Pelmeni Dumplings

 

Pelmeni Dumplings

How would you describe the Berlin mothers you feature on your blog Hauptstadtmutti? What fascinates you about them?

Berlin’s mothers are diverse, their style is individual and independent. We love all of them because each single one is special in their own way, and that’s her own charisma. We’ve been taking pictures for our Mama-Streetstyle series for 4 years and we never get tired. The nice thing is that we also get into conversations with them, we have a little interview and get to know some of their secrets, desires and thoughts.

What role does fashion play in your own life? A mother’s life is very much determined by practicality, is it possible at all to keep her style and fashion uncompromised?

Fashion occupies and surrounds me. I just enjoy seeing trends and developments evolve, and how they are translated in different cities. My main focus is on mother’s fashion as there is still a high degree of practicality involved which shouldn’t be underrated. My own shopping and styling has sped up considerably. I don’t have the time to shop for hours anymore, that’s why I’m very happy that I can buy and discover so much online.

Where do you find your creative inspiration?

Exhibitions, theater and movies, interviews, great people, long chats at the table with friends, traveling the world, the internet and long walks through the city.

How did your cooking change since you became a mother? Can you give any tips for cooking with and for young children?

I try to cook with more time, and good ingredients since my son was born. I set the table nicely, as you eat with your eyes first. My advice to parents is to let your kids eat what is on the table, no extra dishes. And conversation at the table is important, to ask about each other’s day, and to eat together with many people, that’s fun and social. Children tend to eat better in company.

You’ve lived in Prague and Kiev, your family roots are Ukrainian, Russian and East-German, how would you describe the Eastern European cuisine you grew up with and the cooking you experienced while you lived in the Czech Republic and the Ukraine?

Eastern European cooking is primarily heavy! It has to satisfy the appetite. The Ukrainian cuisine also relies on fish and vegetables which I love a lot. The recipes are often very easy to prepare, and in the end, the table is full of lots of different dishes, not just one plate with one meal, which I find boring anyway. All Eastern European meals are connected with long conversations at the table and, of course, lots of alcohol. My grandmother in the Ukraine would feel ashamed to put just one dish on the table. That’s why we spend days in the kitchen cooking for festive events and family feasts. She asks me all the time what I cook for my son and if he eats properly, she’s convinced that I don’t give him the right food.

This is what I associate with my time in Prague: many young, committed chefs who traveled the whole world before they came back home, new restaurants opening with the most exquisite, modern Czech kitchen. Great! Always surprising! Apart from that, I remember the delicious apricot dumplings by my friend Andrea’s grandmother, with lots of sour cream, to die for!

What was the first dish you cooked on your own, what is your first cooking memory?

A soup made of grass, soil and water in a little doll’s cooking pot in my grandmother’s garden in the Ukraine. My dolls loved it, with fresh apricots for dessert!

Who influenced and inspired your culinary style the most?

My grandmother in the Ukraine, but I also like to get inspired by my friends who cook for me.

What are your favourite places to buy and enjoy food in Berlin?

Turkish markets for fruits and vegetables, the Russian supermarket Stolitschnaja on Landsberger Allee in Berlin for Russian products.

What did you choose to share on eat in my kitchen?

Pelmeni, Ukrainian dumplings.

If you could choose one person to cook a meal for you, who and what would it be?

You, Meike, and some fish!

You’re going to have ten friends over for a spontaneous dinner, what will be on the table?

Pelmeni!

What was your childhood’s culinary favourite and what is it now?

Wareniki (dumplings with cherries and sour cream) by my Ukrainian grandmother, today it’s all kinds of variations of fish and aubergine.

Do you prefer to cook on your own or together with others?

Together with others.

Which meals do you prefer, improvised or planned?

It depends on my mood and the guest.

Which meal would you never cook again?

A Jamie Oliver recipe with meat, I forgot which one it was ….

Thank you Claudia!

Pelmeni Dumplings

 

Pelmeni Dumplings

 

Pelmeni Dumplings

 

Pelmeni Dumplings

 

Pelmeni Dumplings

 

Pelmeni Dumplings

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