eat in my kitchen

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Tag: melon

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

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

 

fennelmelonsalad6

 

fennelmelonsalad9

Melon, Mint and Lemon

Melon, Mint and Lemon

One of the great things about living in the Mediterranean in summer is that you can find fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables at every street corner. Farmers offer their harvest of the morning on little open vans, ripe tomatoes, zucchini, aubergines, the sweetest peaches, melons, grapes and the biggest bunches of basil I’ve ever seen in my life. They are so big that you have to hold them with both of your hands! These mobile shops are the social meeting points of each street or village. It’s a beautiful scene of women buying their groceries for the next days, checking the quality of the offers, exchanging gossip and enjoying the fresh air before the heat takes over again.

My trusted vegetable man, Leli, comes to Msida twice a week, a humble man with beautiful eyes as blue as the Mediterranean sea! Unfortunately, I haven’t managed to meet him yet. He comes to our village on Tuesday and Friday in the morning and I was busy driving around on the island on both days. Jenny told me that his face lit up with a big smile when she told him that we were soon to arrive! I asked her to buy some vegetables for me before I arrived and she bought me one of the sweetest melons that I have ever eaten. It was like honey, so juicy and ripe!

We enjoyed a couple slices before I threw a handful of mint leaves from Jenny’s garden on top. Then I drizzled some fresh lemon juice over the yellow fruit, a tip a got from my Maltese auntie Sandra. It’s perfectly refreshing on these days that push to almost 40°C (104°F) on the thermometer! All you need is a very ripe Galia melon – Bettiegh in Maltese – skinned and cut into slices, a handful of fresh mint leaves, the juice of half a lemon and the heat can come!

Melon, Mint and Lemon

 

Melon, Mint and Lemon

 

Melon, Mint and Lemon

 

Melon, Mint and Lemon

Spinach and Melon Salad with Orange Mascarpone

Spinach + Melon Salad with Mascarpone

Crunchy, young spinach leaves, sweet and ripe Galia melon, creamy Mascarpone and a little orange zest becomes a delicious sweet and savory summer salad! It sounds a bit more exotic than it tastes, it’s a very fresh and harmonious combination. The idea for it was born out of another recipe which didn’t work out as I had expected. I felt like I salad made with melon and a milky flavour. At first, I mixed the melon with Buffalo mozzarella but the result wasn’t quite as pleasing as expected so I looked for another possible use for my juicy fruit. Spinach, mascarpone and orange, my second attempt was more successful and finally the 2 of us were satisfied with our salad.

We just wanted a quick and light lunch so I spread a big handful of young spinach leaves on 2 plates together with a quarter Galia melon cut into wedges. I mixed 2 tablespoons of mascarpone with a little freshly squeezed orange juice and dolloped little pieces of it on top of the salad. For the dressing I whisked 5 teaspoons of olive oil with 3 teaspoons of orange juice, 2 teaspoons of Balsamico vinegar and a little salt and pepper. I sprinkled the dressing on top of the leaves and fruit and finished it off with 1/2 a teaspoon of orange zest.

Sometimes you have to give your ideas a second try, change them a little but then you’ll be rewarded. It definitely won’t be the last time I make this salad!

Spinach + Melon Salad with Mascarpone

 

Spinach + Melon Salad with Mascarpone

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