eat in my kitchen

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Tag: pear

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

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart from my cookbook and a picnic in Valletta

Post sponsored by Volkswagen.

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

The sky was refreshingly bright and October’s sun was still hot, it was a glorious Saturday morning when we met our friends at my Maltese mama’s house in Msida. The air was filled with the usual chatting and laughing before we hopped into our cars to drive up to Valletta. We brought along the obligatory guitar and our picnic baskets packed with sandwiches, fruits, and a buttery pear and stilton tart sprinkled with rosemary – a popular recipe from my Eat In My Kitchen book. And off we went to Malta’s capital.

We had planned this day trip weeks in advance: to have a picnic with our friends in Valletta, high up on the bastions opposite The Three Cities, to park Michelangelo’s beautiful Volkswagen beetle in the shade of one of the old olive trees, and set up a little table right next to this blue beauty on four wheels. It was a luscious brunch in the most stunning surroundings and to bake a savoury tart was the best choice for this occasion. You can prepare it in advance, it’s delicious even when it’s cold, and it fits perfectly to a sip of chilled sparkling wine. The topping is minimal, but the combination of baked pear, melted Stilton, and roasted rosemary is so good that it became one of my favourite recipes this year. The creation almost didn’t make it into my book. I had a different tart in mind, but I couldn’t find a certain vegetable on the day of the shoot and I decided that I could also just fill the pastry with fruit, cheese, and herbs. It was a wise choice that I don’t regret.

The choice of our setting was as spectacular as our nibbles. If you ever visit Valletta, you have to go to the St. Barbara Bastion and enjoy the breathtaking view overlooking the Grand Harbour and The Three Cities, Vittoriosa, Cospicua and Senglea. Then walk down to the Valletta Waterfront and take one of the little ferries to Cospicua. It only takes a few minutes and it allows you to enjoy two of the most stunning places in Malta, on land and from the sea: the golden beauty Valletta and the three fortified cities.

Thank you Matt, Michelle, Jessica, Michelangelo, Luke, and Jamie for making this day so special!

For more delicious recipes and kitchen inspiration, visit Volkswagen’s Pinterest community board Food Blogger for Volkswagen.

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

 

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

From the Eat In My Kitchen book.

Serves 4 to 8

For the pastry

2 cups (260 g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (130 g) unsalted butter, cold
1 large egg

For the topping

2 large, firm pears, cut into thin wedges
3 ounces (85 g) aromatic blue cheese, such as Stilton, Roquefort, Fourme d’Ambert or Gorgonzola, crumbled
3 medium sprigs fresh rosemary, needles only
3 tablespoons olive oil
Flaky sea salt
A few black peppercorns, crushed with a mortar and pestle

For the pastry, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. 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 combined. Add the egg and mix with the dough hooks of an electric mixer until crumbly. Form the dough into a thick disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and freeze for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

On a table or countertop, place the dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and use a rolling pin to roll out into a disc, large enough to line the bottom and sides of a 12-inch (30 cm) quiche dish. Fit the dough into the quiche dish, pushing it into the dish, especially along the edges. Let the dough hang over the rim a little or cut it off with a knife. Use a fork to prick the dough all over. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden. If the dough bubbles up, push it down with a fork. (If you blind bake the pastry under parchment paper and dried legumes, remove the paper and legumes after 15 minutes and bake uncovered for a few more minutes until golden.)

Arrange the pear wedges in overlapping circles on top of the warm, pre-baked pastry, sprinkle with the cheese and most of the rosemary, drizzle with the olive oil, and season to taste with flaky sea salt and crushed peppercorns. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the pastry is crisp. Sprinkle with the remaining rosemary and enjoy warm or cold.

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

 

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

 

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

 

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

 

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

 

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

 

pearstiltontart10

 

Roast Potato, Onion and Pear Wedges with Grapes and Rosemary

Roasted Potato, Onion and Pear Wedges with Grapes and Rosemary

The smell of autumn is finally back in the city! The strong aroma of moist soil lies heavily in the air as I pass another one of Berlin’s countless parks. The leaves are still green and dense, but I can see the little gold and brown patches poking through here and there.  The soft hint of a chill blowing through our open bedroom window early in the morning leaves no doubt – summer has come to an end.

At dinner time, it’s already so dark that we decided to move back to our long wooden table on the other side of our flat. As long as it’s warm and bright outside we love to eat at our small kitchen table, with windows thrown open to see the clear blue sky turn pitch black but now that September is welcoming the new season I gladly indulge in the heartier treats of the year served on rustic wood.

We enjoyed a pickled knuckle of pork (the famous German Eisbein) the other day, cooked in broth with a bottle of fruity Federweisser (young German wine) to go with it. It was a cozy feast that put us into the right mood for dishes such as beer roast, Alsatian Zwiebelkuchen (onion and bacon pie) and sweet cinnamon plum dumplings. You only need the right food to enjoy each season to the fullest. Inspired by my Moscato grape chicken legs, I came up with a dish of oven roasted potato, onion and pear wedges coated in lemon maple syrup oil, topped with juicy grapes and rosemary. Although I pre-cooked the potatoes, they still needed almost an hour in the oven to turn into golden bites; but I did’t mind, the smell of the roasting herb and fruit was beautiful, almost as good as the taste of our sweet and juicy dinner.

Roasted Potato, Onion and Pear Wedges with Grapes and Rosemary

 

Roasted Potato, Onion and Pear Wedges with Grapes and Rosemary

Roasted Potatoes, Onions and Pear with Grapes and Rosemary

For 2-3 for lunch or 4 as a side dish

medium sized, waxy potatoes, scrubbed, cut into 6 wedges each, 750g / 26 1/2 ounces
medium sized onions, cut into 10 wedges each, 2
large, firm pear, cored and cut into 8 wedges, 1
green grapes, on the vine, 350g / 12 ounces
fresh rosemary, a small handful
olive oil 3 tablespoons
white wine 1 tablespoon
freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 tablespoon
maple syrup 1 tablespoon
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar
flaky sea salt

Cook the potato wedges for 8 minutes in salted, boiling water. Drain and rinse them with cold water and let them dry on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes (a few hours would be even better).

Set the oven to 220°C / 430°F (top / bottom heat).

Spread the potatoes, onions, pear, grapes and rosemary (leave out a few needles) in a baking dish. Whisk the olive oil, wine, lemon juice, maple syrup and pepper and pour over the potatoes and fruits, mix with your fingers until they are evenly coated. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and cook in the oven for about 55 minutes or until golden brown. Garnish with fresh rosemary needles and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted Potato, Onion and Pear Wedges with Grapes and Rosemary

 

Roasted Potato, Onion and Pear Wedges with Grapes and Rosemary

 

Roasted Potato, Onion and Pear Wedges with Grapes and Rosemary

 

Roasted Potato, Onion and Pear Wedges with Grapes and Rosemary

 

Roasted Potato, Onion and Pear Wedges with Grapes and Rosemary

A Salad of Rucola, Plum and Pear with Orange Blossom Water

Rucola, Plum, Pear and Orange Blossom Salad

Here’s another one of the kitchen leftover mash-ups I mentioned yesterday: There were 3 bunches of rucola (rocket) on the window sill, Italian plums which started to look a bit sad and ripe pears, ready to be eaten just before they get soft and mushy. I tossed everything together in a bowl and mixed it with my new favourite summer salad dressing: olive oil whisked with freshly squeezed orange juice and a little orange blossom water. It’s fantastic, the citrus’ fruitiness merges wonderfully with the orange blossom’s flowery aroma and the warm olive oil.

Citrus and olive oil is a delicious combination. One of my favourite recipes on eat in my kitchen features this glorious treat, it’s a very simple yet absolutely delicious Sicilian salad. The first time I ate it was at a farm in Noto where we stayed a few years ago. The lady of the house would make it for us for breakfast. She used the ripest oranges from the farm, cut them into fillets and sprinkled them with a little olive oil and dried oregano. It was a heavenly and eye-opening experience for me. I had never really thought of this combination before, mixing fruit with olive oil was quite new for me at that point and this morning treat influenced many of my recipes over the years. It taught me to be open minded and experimental, to combine various flavours, to mix what seems far away in taste but trust that it will lead to a satisfying result (which it often does).

However, the combination of fruit and olive oil needs a strong partner, either a herb or spicy rucola leaves as I chose. You could replace the plums and pears with any other sweet fruit you have at hand in your kitchen: strawberries, nectarines, figs or oranges. As long as they have honey sweet juices to add to the salad, they will be a good choice!

Rucola, Plum, Pear and Orange Blossom Salad

 

Rucola, Plum, Pear and Orange Blossom Salad

A Salad of Rucola, Plum and Pear with Orange Blossom Water

For a quick lunch for 2 you need

rucola (rocket) leaves, 2 handful
pear, quartered, cored and sliced, 1 (or an equal amount of another sweet fruit)
large plum, cut in half and sliced, 1 (or an equal amount of another sweet fruit)

For the dressing
olive oil 3 tablespoons
freshly squeezed orange juice 2 tablespoons
quality orange blossom water (preferably organic) 1-2 teaspoons, to taste
salt and pepper

Arrange the rucola and fruit in a bowl. Whisk the ingredients for the dressing, season to taste and sprinkle over the salad, serve immediately.

Rucola, Plum, Pear and Orange Blossom Salad

 

rucolaplumpearorangeblossomsalad7

Chicory Boats with Pear Dressing and Pink Peppercorns

Chicory with Pear + Red Pepper

Last week I bought some pink peppercorns, the first ones in years. I forgot about them after I used them the last time, I just emptied the jar and it never got refilled. Although the pink berry is the fruit of the Peruvian Pepper Tree it’s not related to common pepper, it’s just a berry. Nevertheless, I used to love them, on steak, in creamy sauces, and even on desserts. That’s actually the reason why I bought them again, in the next few months I want to try out a few sweet combinations. They taste mild, with a flowery aroma, and offer lots of culinary possibilities but first I have to think about a few ideas. For now I’ll start with a simple savory dish.

I have some finger food in mind, an easy in between nibble. I take the big leaves of 3 chicory (also known as endive) and dollop a little of a fruity dressing on top. It’s made of 4 heaped tablespoons of yoghurt mixed with 3 teaspoons of tomato paste and 1 crunchy pear, grated without peel and stirred in as well. I season it with salt and black pepper and my pink peppercorns, crushed and sprinkled on top. The pink berries had a tasty return to my kitchen!

Chicory with Pear + Red Pepper

 

Chicory with Pear + Red Pepper

Sweet Pear and Bitter Chicory Salad

Chicory, Pear + Walnut Salad

This was my favourite salad during my university years! When I was too busy to cook or my fridge didn’t have much to offer, this was always an option (besides spaghetti with tomato sauce).  A crunchy sweet and bitter combination which I always love but here especially together with the walnuts. In winter I make sure I have these three in stock, pear and walnuts as a quick snack and chicory is one of my quick emergency dinners. If I’m running out of time, I cut 2 chicories in half, fry them in butter, golden brown on each side and season them with salt and pepper – done.

For my salad I need 2 chicories and 1 pear, both sliced in strips, enough to feed 2-4 people. At lunch time people have different eating habits so it’s hard to estimate the exact amounts. At a dinner party this is definitely enough for a a side dish for 4. I make a light dressing with 3 tablespoons of olive oil mixed with 2 tablespoons of white Balsamico (I can’t live without this vinegar in winter!), seasoned with salt and pepper. You could also add some fresh lemon juice. Some walnuts on top and I’m back in my student years!

Chicory, Pear + Walnut Salad

 

Chicory, Pear + Walnut Salad

 

Chicory, Pear + Walnut Salad

Pear and Stilton – the perfect Sandwich Combination

Stilton + Pear Sandwich

Ripe Stilton and crisp Abate pear are the perfect match for my sandwich. I layer thin slices of the juicy fruit and crumbs of the blue cheese on thick white bread and put it in under the grill, just until the cheese starts to bubble and the bread is slightly roasted. The spiciness of the creamy English cheese and the sweetness of the pear are a heavenly combination.

I once used this duo as a topping for my Quiche and everybody loved it but I must say, it’s just as good on my sandwich and quicker to prepare. All you need is a loaf of white bread (I use fresh spelt Ciabatta), a crisp pear like Abate and around 100g / 3.5 ounces of ripe, spicy Stilton (or any other blue cheese). Prepare your sandwich, finish under the grill and sprinkle with some walnuts and black pepper. You can treat 2-4 people to this wonderful snack, at lunch or as a starter at a dinner party and you can be sure you will make them very happy!

Stilton + Pear Sandwich

 

Stilton + Pear Sandwich

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