eat in my kitchen

To cook, to bake, to eat and to treat.

Tag: rosemary

A juicy Grape and Rosemary Tart

Grape and Rosemary Tart

This tart combines two of my favourite Mediterranean flavours – grapes and rosemary – and the result is nothing less than heavenly. The fact that the aromatic filling lies on top of buttery crisp puff pastry only exaggerates the temptation.

After failing miserably at making my own puff pastry on a few occasions, I only use this sweet delicacy when I’m in Malta, when I can buy it frozen in exceptionally good quality. If I ever manage to come up with a recipe that’s as good as the product that I can buy here from the supermarket, I’ll be a very happy baker. You could also use a shortcrust base for this summery tart but I like the elegant look and flaky texture of puff pastry in combination with the syrupy, juicy grapes. The chopped fresh rosemary sprinkled on top of the warm cake as soon as it comes out of the oven adds a woody aroma and gives it an unusual touch – try it, it’s fantastic. I used it for a focaccia recipe last year and got hooked on this tasty duo.

I’ve already baked this tart twice since we arrived in Malta and it immediately gained huge popularity within our family – everybody loves it, kids and grandmother included!

Grape and Rosemary Tart

 

Grape and Rosemary Tart

Grape and Rosemary Tart

Makes 1 (28cm / 11″) tart, serves 4-6.

frozen puff pastry, defrosted, 320g / 11 ounces
dark grapes, preferably seedless, 500g / 18 ounces
granulated sugar 120g / 2/3 cup
freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 tablespoon
roughly chopped fresh rosemary 1 generous tablespoon

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F and butter a 28cm / 11″ tart pan.

Line the tart pan with the puff pastry, pushing the pastry into the pan, and put in the freezer for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, using a large spoon, mix the grapes, sugar, and lemon juice and spread on top of the chilled pastry. Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and crisp at the edges. The grapes will be juicy, so the bottom of the tart won’t be crisp. Sprinkle the tart with the rosemary and let it sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Grape and Rosemary Tart

 

Grape and Rosemary Tart

 

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Grape and Rosemary Tart

 

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Beluga Lentils with Ginger Orange Rutabaga and Rosemary

Beluga Lentils with Ginger Orange Rutabaga and Rosemary

I once read that the 3rd Monday of January is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year – Blue Monday. I don’t know if it’s true, luckily it has already passed, and I didn’t notice my mood drooping drastically that day. However, I’ve felt a rising impatience for more light and warmer weather to come back into my life. So much so that I had to book flights to Malta last night. This always makes me feel so much better, no matter how far in the future the departure date lies, just the thought of it puts me in a good mood.

Another way to lift my spirits is food. Cosy food, colourful food, or simply delicious food. This dish combines all of it: nutty Beluga lentils, topped with thin slices of rutabaga, quickly cooked in the pan with lots of ginger, orange zest and juice, and fresh rosemary. The rustic root is as bright as the sunrise over Malta’s east coast and its earthy flavour can easily deal with some strong aromas. I was surprised how well it merged with the dark legumes.

Beluga Lentils with Ginger Orange Rutabaga and Rosemary

 

Beluga Lentils with Ginger Orange Rutabaga and Rosemary

Beluga Lentils with Ginger Orange Rutabaga and Rosemary

Serves 3-4

For the lentils

Beluga 
lentils, or any lentils (no soaking required), 280 g / 10 ounces
small sprig fresh rosemary 1
bay leaf 1
olive oil
balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon
fine sea salt
ground pepper

For the rutabaga

peeled rutabaga, cut into wedges and very thinly sliced (use a mandoline or cheese slicer), 300g / 10 1/2 ounces
freshly grated ginger 1 tablespoon
freshly grated zest of 1 orange
freshly squeezed orange juice 100ml / 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons
fine sea salt
ground pepper
finely chopped fresh rosemary needles 1-2 tablespoons
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar

Place the lentils in a saucepan with plenty of (unsalted) water, add the rosemary and bay leaf, and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until al dente (or follow the package instructions). Remove excess liquid with a ladle if necessary and stir in a generous splash of olive oil and the vinegar. Season to taste with salt, pepper and vinegar.

While the lentils are cooking, prepare the rutabaga: In a large, heavy pan, heat a generous splash of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the rutabaga and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden and al dente. Scrape the rutabaga to the side, add a little more olive oil to the pan along with the ginger, cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the orange zest (leave a little of the zest for the topping) and juice and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the rosemary or use as a topping once the plates are ready. Cook for another 1-2 minutes until the desired texture is reached.

Divide the lentils between plates and lay the rutabaga on top. Sprinkle with rosemary, orange zest, and crushed peppercorns and drizzle with a little olive oil (optional). Serve immediately.

Beluga Lentils with Ginger Orange Rutabaga and Rosemary

 

Beluga Lentils with Ginger Orange Rutabaga and Rosemary

 

Beluga Lentils with Ginger Orange Rutabaga and Rosemary

 

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meet in your kitchen | London: Jo Rodgers’ Chocolate, Hazelnut, and Rosemary Pie

Jo Rodger's Pie

Jo’s hands, an open book on a wooden table, and a cup of tea are the reason for this meet in your kitchen feature. A few months ago, I came across the Instagram account of this gorgeous American woman living in London and since then, I basically follow her activities every day. There is a kind of peace in her pictures that struck me immediately. In the beginning, her images often showed her hands turning the pages of her current favourite book surrounded by snacks and nibbles and a cup of warming hot chocolate or tea, or a glass of wine. And all this accompanied by her beautiful words describing the scene in her cosy cottage in the heart of London. Jo used to work as an editor at Random House and a literary agent at WME but, since she became a writer for Vogue a few months ago, her little Instagram stories shifted from books to exciting trips to the English seaside, the Provence, the English countryside, and – my favourite – a luxurious railway journey with the Belmond Royal Scotsman through Scotland. When she also started writing about cosy treats such as the perfect omelet, stuffed pumpkin, cranberry muffins, and mince pies, I knew I had to meet this woman during my stay in London a couple weeks ago.

Where shall I start, we planned to bake a pie together but I was late and London’s light is not very forgiving. To avoid shooting this sweet beauty in the dark, her husband Andrew was so kind to take all the pictures of the pie. Thank you so much for that! In the end, the two of us didn’t spend much time in the kitchen, instead we spent four hours chatting, drinking tea, eating delicious chocolate chip cookies baked by her husband (the poor guy must pray that I’m not coming back soon seeing how much work I caused him!), and we finished our afternoon with a walk through Belgravia. I call it her village, Jo showed me William Curly‘s fantastic chocolate shop/ patisserie, the Poilane bakery on Elizabeth Street, her butcher, flower shop, her pub and favourite restaurants. After an hour of strolling around with her, I could have moved to this quiet – not very London-like – neighbourhood.

Besides having a wonderful girls afternoon, I can say that I found a friend. Jo and I had never met in real life but as soon as the fair blond woman opened the iron gate that leads to the yard in front of her navy blue door, it felt like we’d known each other for years. Jo is very calm and humble and has an honest kindness that comes straight from her heart. Her life is extremely interesting and it’s so exciting to hear about it, although she herself wouldn’t agree on that. She lived in Australia, Chicago, Boston, New York City, and since 2010, London. Jo studied 19th century British literature and would love to write a novel one day if her busy life would offer a little more free time. She has a beautiful way of playing with words, which makes them flow like a smooth river. Reading her articles is fun, so much so that I can’t wait to hold her book in my hands one day. So we made a deal, from now on I will start bugging her and asking her every few months if she started working on it.

Jo shares her delicious pie recipe with us: a rich, buttery Chocolate, Hazelnut, and Rosemary Pie – she calls it a grown-up pie!

You can read all of Jo’s articles for the American Vogue here.

Jo Rodger's Pie

Jo Rodgers’ Chocolate, Hazelnut, and Rosemary Pie

For the pie crust

plain flour 200g / 1 1/2 cups
salt 1/4 teaspoon
cold butter, diced 115g / 1/2 cup
cold water 60ml / 1/4 cup
milk 1 tablespoon

For the filling

hazelnuts (whole) 100g / 3/4 cup
eggs, lightly beaten, 3
light corn syrup 180ml / 3/4 cup
sugar 200g / 1 cup
melted unsalted butter 115g / 1/2 cup
salt 1/2 teaspoon
vanilla extract 1 teaspoon
chopped fresh rosemary 2 tablespoons
dark chocolate, chopped, 170g / 6 ounces
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, for the top of the pie

On a flat work surface, combine the flour and salt, then incorporate the cold diced butter with your fingers. Rub the butter into the flour until the butter pieces are no larger than the size of peas. Make a well in the center of the flour, and pour in the cold water. Using your hands, mix the water into the flour until dough is formed. Wrap the dough in plastic and put in the refrigerator for one hour.

Preheat your oven to 175 °C / 350°F .

Toast the hazelnuts in the oven until they begin to get fragrant, about 7 minutes. Let the hazelnuts cool, then rub off the skins; you can do this with your fingers or a cloth towel.

Roll out the dough wider than your pie mold (there should be plenty of dough for any size or shape of pie mold; mine is quite deep, and there is still quite a bit of dough left over). Gently lay the dough into the mold and trim the overhanging dough with a sharp knife. Put the pie mold back in the refrigerator while you make the filling.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine eggs, corn syrup, sugar, melted butter, salt, and vanilla extract. Stir in the chopped rosemary.

Take the pie mold out of the refrigerator, and brush the edges of the dough with milk. This will help the pie to brown nicely.

Spread the chopped chocolate evenly over the bottom of the pie. Pour the filling over the chocolate. Arrange the hazelnuts in concentric circles on top of the filling. Place the single sprig of rosemary in the center of the pie.

Bake for 50 minutes, until the pie is browned and bubbling. Remove from the oven and let cool for one hour before serving. Serve with a dollop of mascarpone or crème fraîche.

Jo Rodger's Pie

 

Jo Rodger's Pie

You moved from New York City to London nearly six years ago, and decided to stay. What do you love about this city and your life here? What turns a place into a home?

I love New York, but I think that London is the best city in the world. When I’m away for too long I get homesick, and when I see it again from the airplane my pulse jumps.

A sense of community is what turns a place into a home. Neighbors you bump into at the bakery, friends you have over for supper. We have lived in one small area of London for the time we have been here, so we have been walking to the same florist, farmer’s market, chocolate shop, and so on for the duration. It is a comfort to know a place well, even if it is just your neighborhood.                                   

What do you miss about America?

Our friends and family who live there.

You graduated from Wellesley College, an all-women’s university in Massachusetts, where you studied Victorian literature. What was it like being at Wellesley, and what drew you to your subject?

I was head over heels for Wellesley. Other than my husband, all of my closest friends are women. The strength of those relationships is due in part, I’m sure, to an education that placed the highest value on supporting other women.

I was drawn to nineteenth century literature because I love novels, and that period was the heyday of the novel. I remember sitting in my dorm room with the windows open, curled in a chair with a piece of toast and Middlemarch (or The Woman in White, or Bleak House) and thinking—well this is heaven.

As a travel journalist, you get to see the most beautiful places. Which of your recent trips struck you the most?

I had a really wonderful time on the Royal Scotsman, a five-day train journey through Scotland. Having a whisky while watching the highlands go by is very difficult to top. The trip also begins and ends in one of my favorite cities, Edinburgh.

You were an editor for Random House in New York and then a literary agent at WME in London, where you worked with lots of fantastic cookbook authors. What did you love about working on books about food?

I have always been a great eater as well as a reader, so working on a few cookery titles as well as novels seemed like a natural fit. The company of other people who love to cook and eat is always such a pleasure. 

How do you develop new recipes when you are writing for Vogue?

Slowly. I generally begin with a dish I know very well, consider whether there is anything that could be improved, and then stress-test the recipe for consistency quite a few times before it goes to print. I did a piece on cranberry muffins recently, and the whole neighborhood was eating cranberry muffins for a month.

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

Sugar cookies from The Joy of Cooking. I lost my head in the spice cabinet (Curry? Nigella? Why not) and left a huge, inedible mess. My mother was not pleased.

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

We do the majority of our shopping within a few minutes walk of where we live. Daylesford for most groceries, William Curley for chocolate (the hazelnut and almond bark is my favorite), Polaine for bread, Partridges for wine, and our farmer’s market on Saturdays for meat and vegetables. Exceptions are dried pasta from Lina Stores, cheese from Neal’s Yard or La Fromagerie, and sourdough loaves from Brickhouse Bakery.

If Andrew and I are eating out, we almost always go to a friend’s house for supper rather than a restaurant. Apart from the odd evening at Hunan, where they send course after course of the most brilliant Chinese food until you can’t eat any more (great fun when there is a larger group of people, and you’re absolutely starving), and the terrace at La Poule au Pot in the summer.

For a rare treat, we might go to the River Café or La Petite Maison.

You share your Chocolate, Hazelnut, and Rosemary Pie recipe on eat in my kitchen. Is there a story behind this recipe?

The three main components are ingredients that I adore; working them into a pie was an excuse to have them more often. I love to serve this at dinner parties in the winter, when there is still some red wine on the table, because it is wonderful with wine.

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

My husband Andrew’s cavolo nero pasta with bread crumbs. I could eat it five nights a week. For something more exotic, anything cooked by Michel Guerard at Les Pres d’Eugenie.

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

If I have a few hours notice, maybe a leg of lamb with gratineed potatoes, or beef bourguignon, because I so enjoy eating it. Always a few bottles of red wine, fresh bread, and a cheese course.

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

Spaghetti carbonara, which I still love. I have so many favorites now, but it would probably have to be roasted chicken (lots of butter, thyme, and lemon over the top) with a green salad, and some good bread to scoop up the jus.

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

I enjoy both. If I’m on my own I like to listen to something—opera or BBC radio 4, or maybe an audio book. When cooking with others, I like having someone else to taste things with.

Which meals do you prefer, improvised or planned?

Improvised

Which meal would you never cook again?

I don’t think I have one. There are plenty of things that I’ve made a mess of, but I’m incorrigible and always want to try again.

Thank you Jo!

JoPecanPie8

 

Jo Rodger's Pie

 

Jo Rodger's Pie

 

Jo Rodger's Pie

Sweet Potato, Bacon and Poached Egg Sandwich

Sweet Potato, Bacon and Poached Egg Sandwich

At the moment I’m living, literally, next to a tree – our absolutely beautiful Christmas tree. It’s perfect this year. Lush and green, the branches thick and densely packed with needles, the straight tip rising close to the high ceiling of our living room. I’m in love with this tree. I decorated it straight after it entered our flat Saturday evening and we clinked mugs full of hot mulled wine to celebrate its arrival immediately. I moved my working space to the dining table, which is right opposite this beauty, and I have problems keeping my eyes on the screen of my laptop. In December, I feel like a distracted little child, all this glitter and sparkling, Christmas ornaments and cookie boxes – how are you supposed to keep your mind focused on anything else?

However, there was something that caught my attention: a wintery sandwich lusciously stuffed with fried sweet potatoes – not as crisp as normal potatoes but they make up for it with sweetness and flavour – salty bacon, poached egg and a little chopped rosemary made it complete. The composition is so hearty that I went for a dark bun sprinkled with linseed, sunflower and sesame seeds. It’s a keeper.

Sweet Potato, Bacon and Poached Egg Sandwich

 

Sweet Potato, Bacon and Poached Egg Sandwich

Sweet Potato, Bacon and Poached Egg Sandwich

Makes 2 sandwiches

olive oil
sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced (less than 1/2cm / 1/4″-thick), about 200g / 7 ounces
fine sea salt
pepper, crushed in a mortar
bacon 3 slices
organic eggs 2
whole wheat buns, cut in half, 2
fresh rosemary needles, chopped, a small handful

In a large, heavy pan, heat a splash of olive oil and fry the raw sweet potato slices on medium-high heat for a few minutes on both sides until golden brown and soft. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Heat a little olive oil in a heavy pan and cook the bacon on medium-high heat for a few minutes until golden brown and crisp, set the pan with the bacon aside.

For the poached eggs, bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Crack 1 egg into a small bowl. Hold a large spoon just over the surface of the simmering water and gently pour the egg onto the spoon. Lower the spoon into the water and hold for 3 minutes—use a second spoon to put the egg back into place if it slips. Lift up the spoon, let the excess water drip off, and carefully place the egg on a plate—you may have to gently scoop it off the spoon. Poach the remaining egg the same way, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a low simmer. It’s best to poach 1 egg at a time, but you can cook 2 at once. Once the first egg cooks on the spoon for 1 ½ minutes, let it float in the water— mind that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan—and poach the second egg on a spoon. Take both eggs out once they’ve cooked for 3 minutes each.

Brush the bottom bun with the frying juices from the bacon, spread a few sweet potato slices on it and lay half the bacon on top. Finish it off with a poached egg, chopped rosemary and crushed pepper. Season with salt to taste (if necessary) and enjoy.

Sweet Potato, Bacon and Poached Egg Sandwich

 

Sweet Potato, Bacon and Poached Egg Sandwich

 

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Herbed Polenta with Parsnip Chips and Maple Butter – and a feast!

Polenta with Parsnip Chips and Maple Butter

The past few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster. I finished my English book and happily gave in all the recipes, text and pictures 3 days before my official deadline – something that had never happened before according to Holly, my editor and it impressed her and the Prestel team in New York quite a bit. I just wanted to have everything off my desk at one point – and celebrate. And that’s what we did!

Holly came to visit us in Berlin for a few days and all we did was talk and eat (and work on the cover for my book). We showed her around the city as it was her first time here and I planned a special dinner for her with some of the people at the table who have strongly influenced me during my eat in my kitchen blog and book experience. Not all of them could make it, but to see how many came and how some of them tried to make it possible truly touched me. Molly from My Name Is Yeh wanted to come from North Dakota just for this dinner, she even checked out the flights – this is crazy! – but she had to be in the States the day before and after. Thank you girl!! Malin from The Bread Exchange came with her handsome baby boy Lode – in the early days of my blog we made sandwiches together with her bread and now we even share the same publisher (for her German book that will come out in the Spring of 2016). Marta from What Should I Eat For Breakfast Today? – my great inspiration for photography and positivity in life (this lady has the most beautiful smile!) and one of the first meet in your kitchen guests – was here to celebrate with us. And she took the pictures of us at the table, which I love because usually I’m the one taking pictures so I’m never in them. They truly show what a happy night we had, thank you Marta! Cynthia Barcomi – the founder of my favourite Berlin Deli – already had her cake for our dinner in the oven but sadly had to cancel at the last minute. Luckily, we didn’t have to worry about having enough sweets on the table anyway. My apple cinnamon crumble was delicious and looked rather rustic next to Laura‘s elegant raw chocolate avocado cake. The Berlin Tausendsuend baker impressed all of us with her composition and took us right to chocolate heaven.

It was an amazing night with amazing people that I’ll never forget. And a nice coincident gave us another reason to cling the glasses – in the same week of my deadline, my boyfriend finished the EP he produced for a fantastic artist from Australia. Josh The Cat happened to spend a lot of time at our apartment in the past few months for the production and became one of my book’s first testers. He loved my recipes as much as I love his music and we shared far more than just food and songs this year, he and his girlfriend, the gorgeous artist Phia, became close friends of ours and we’re more than sad that they’ll soon leave us to go back to Australia. But I’m sure we’ll hear more about their music soon!

Polenta with Parsnip Chips and Maple Butter

A dinner becomes special through the people and conversations at the table, it’s delicious through the right food – we enjoyed some of my book’s recipes which I can’t share with you yet – and it’s a feast when you have good wine in the glasses. I have to send a big thank you to a man from the South and fantastic wine maker who made it possible for us to enjoy amazing wine on that special night. Martin took over the Weingut Robert Bauer – which is now called Martin Albrecht Weingut – more than 10 years ago, a wine maker who’s filled my mother and step father’s wine cellar since I was a child. You could certainly call it our family wine. With a family tradition of more than 400 years of producing wine, Martin comes from the right background to continue Mr. Bauer’s philosophy of creating only the best wines  – ohne Restzucker (without residual sugar). This is wine of the highest quality, which you can smell and taste with the first sip. We enjoyed an excellent Gelber Muskateller (Muscat) with an autumny, fruity soup and an outstanding 2012 Herbstnebel (Syrah, Cabernet-Sauvignon and Nebbiolo) with hearty lamb. I love this wine! We were over the moon with our treat from the Württemberg area. If you’re looking for a wine, handpicked in old vineyards, a wine that guarantees to please your taste buds to the fullest and puts a smile on your face, get in touch with Martin through their website, send him an email, give him a call or visit him in Flein (50km / 30 miles from Stuttgart). He also offers the best vinegars I know – his Balsamic Pear vinegar is one of my favourites, you can basically drink it off the spoon. Thank you Martin!

And thank you Holly for giving me a reason to bring all these great people together at our table!

I can’t share the recipes with you from that night, we have to be a little more patient until my book comes out, but as we enjoyed a dish that featured scrumptious parsnip I decided to create a dish for you that fits the current mood of autumn and allows the roots to bring out their confident qualities – fluffy herbed polenta topped with crisp parsnip chips and sizzling maple butter.

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this journey for making all this possible, it makes me a very happy person – and a happy cook!

Polenta with Parsnip Chips and Maple Butter

Herbed Polenta with Parsnip Chips and Maple Butter

Serves 2

For the polenta

polenta 120g / 4 ounces
water 240ml / 1 cup
milk 240ml / 1 cup
salt 1 teaspoon
olive oil 2 tablespoons

For the parsnip chips

parsnip, very thinly sliced, 200g / 7 ounces
vegetable oil
fine sea salt

For the maple butter

butter 2 tablespoons
maple syrup 1/2-1 tablespoon

For the topping

fresh rosemary, finely chopped, 1-2 teaspoons
fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped, 1-2 teaspoons
ground pepper

In a sauce pan, heat the water and milk, add the salt and bring to the boil. Take the pan off the heat, add the olive oil and polenta and whisk. Turn the heat down to the lowest setting and put the pan back on. Cook the polenta for 10 minutes, stirring and adding more water once in a while if necessary. When the polenta is thick and creamy, take if off the heat and season with salt to taste.

Heat a generous splash of vegetable oil in a heavy pan, the bottom should be covered. When the oil is hot, add the parsnip, just enough to lay them next to each other. Turn them after a few seconds and take them out immediately once they are golden and crisp but not too dark. Mind that they burn very quickly! Transfer the chips to kitchen paper and season with salt.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, whisk in the maple syrup when it’s sizzling and take the pan off the heat.

Scrape the polenta into bowls and sprinkle with maple butter, parsnip chips, pepper and fresh herbs.

Polenta with Parsnip Chips and Maple Butter

 

Polenta with Parsnip Chips and Maple Butter

 

Polenta with Parsnip Chips and Maple Butter

 

Polenta with Parsnip Chips and Maple Butter

 

Polenta with Parsnip Chips and Maple Butter

 

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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

Herb Focaccia with Zucchini, Aubergine and Parmesan

Herb Focaccia with Zucchini and Aubergine

This is one of my most beloved summer scenes: juicy focaccia topped with fragrant herbs on the table next to an aromatic selection of cheese and a chilled bottle of rosé wine waiting to be opened. Sometimes it impresses me how easy it can be to create a little holiday even in my own home. Although I have to admit that warm temperatures and a clear blue evening sky definitely help to put my mind in the right mood, scrumptious food is even more efficient.

I used my reliable focaccia recipe to make the soft Italian bread, it’s so oily that my fingers feel deliciously smooth and sticky after each bite. Last year I fell in love with a topping of dark grapes and rosemary, in 2015 I’m falling for an almost pizza-like creation. I picked a selection of rosemary, thyme and sage right from the front row of my window sill garden, chopped them finely and spread the green crumbles over the puffy, risen yeast dough. Thin slices of zucchini and aubergine came next to form a pretty grid pattern and add their summery fruitiness. To finish it off, I sprinkled my golden focaccia with fresh oregano and parmesan. It’s such a teaser, when I opened the door to take out the baking sheet, the warm smell of yeast, herbs and cheese caressed my nose. At this point, I definitely felt like I was somewhere in the south of Italy.

Herb Focaccia with Zucchini and Aubergine

 

Herb Focaccia with Zucchini and Aubergine

 Herb Focaccia with Zucchini, Aubergine and Parmesan

For a 25 x 32cm / 10 x 12 1/2″ focaccia you need

plain flour 500g / 17 1/2oz
dry yeast 1 sachet (7g / 1/4 ounce)
salt 1 teaspoon
sugar 1 heaped teaspoon
water, lukewarm, 260ml / 1 cup and 2 tablespoons
olive oil 120ml / 1/2 cup (half for the dough and half for the topping)
fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage), finely chopped, 2 generous tablespoons
small zucchini, very thinly sliced (best with a vegetable/ mandoline slicer), 1
medium sized aubergine, very thinly sliced, 1/2
flaky sea salt, for the topping
parmesan, grated, 3 heaped tablespoons
fresh oregano, the leaves of a small handful of sprigs (about 2 heaped tablespoon)

In  a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Add the water and half the olive oil (60ml / 1/4 cup) and mix with the hooks of an electric mixer for a few minutes until smooth and well combined. Continue kneading with your hands for a few minutes until you have an elastic dough ball. Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with a tea towel. Let the dough rise in a 35°C / 95°F warm oven (top / bottom heat, no fan) for 45-60 minutes.

Take the dough out, punch it down and knead for 1 minute. Spread the dough on an oiled baking sheet with your hands until it measures roughly 25 x 32cm / 10 x 12 1/2″. Cover with a tea towel and let it rise for 20 minutes in a warm place.

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

Punch about 6 x 7 holes into the surface of the dough, you can use the round bottom of a wooden spoon or your finger. Pour half of the remaining olive oil (30ml / 1/8 cup) over the dough and into the holes. Use the remaining 30ml / 1/8 cup of oil to thinly coat the sliced vegetables on both sides with your hand. Sprinkle the focaccia with the chopped herbs and lay the oiled vegetables in a cross pattern on top (start with the zucchini and continue with the aubergine). Season with sea salt and bake for 20 minutes or until golden and light brown on top. When it’s done, sprinkle with parmesan and oregano and leave in the hot oven for 1 minute.

Enjoy warm or cold at a summery table full of fruits, cheese and wine!

Herb Focaccia with Zucchini and Aubergine

 

Herb Focaccia with Zucchini and Aubergine

 

Herb Focaccia with Zucchini and Aubergine

 

Herb Focaccia with Zucchini and Aubergine

 

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Herb Focaccia with Zucchini and Aubergine

Potato, Chèvre and Rosemary Tart

Potato, Chèvre and Rosemary Tart

Quite a few of the recipes I have collected over time have become my culinary buddies, friends to celebrate good times just as much as giving me comfort when it gets rough. A savory tart, the wonderful French quiche, is definitely one of them. It’s as easy and comforting as pizza and I can adapt the topping to my mood and the seasons which I do with creative passion. There’s also something about the buttery base that gives me great satisfaction. An Italian pizza is a loud feast, preferably enjoyed in the company of friends. The base can be thin and crisp or oily and fluffy like a focaccia, the Italian oven classic is always comfort food at its best. A quiche however, is more intimate, it’s a sensual pleasure. The pastry has to be quite thin for my taste, crumbly and flaky. It’s more delicate which makes it perfect for a romantic rendez-vous at home or at a picnic in the countryside. All you need is the love of your life and a bottle of Bordeaux to accompany this treat and I can almost ensure you a fantastic date!

There are already quite a few quiche recipes on eat in my kitchen and I can’t stop adding more, it shows that we have it on our table at least once or twice a month. There’s one with tomatoes and mozzarella, beans and ramp, leekfennel and possibly a couple more. Today’s recipe feels like a trip to the Provence in the peak of summer. Although the potatoes give it a hearty, Northern touch, the milky chèvre and woody rosemary take it right back to the Mediterranean!

Potato, Chèvre and Rosemary Tart

 

Potato, Chèvre and Rosemary Tart

Potato, Chèvre and Rosemary Tart

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

For the short crust base

plain flour 250g / 9 ounces
butter, cold 125g / 4 1/2 ounces
organic egg 1
salt 1 teaspoon

Combine the flour with the salt. Cut the butter with a knife into the flour until there are just little pieces of butter left. Continue with your fingers and work the butter into the flour until combined (there shouldn’t be any lumps of butter left). 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 10 minutes.

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

Roll out the dough between cling film and line your baking dish with the flat pastry. Prick it with a fork and blind-bake in the hot oven for 14 minutes or until golden.

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

 

The tart

potatoes, boiled, peeled and sliced (1/2cm / 1/4″ thick), 600g / 1 1/2 pounds
organic eggs 4
heavy cream 100ml / 3 1/2 ounces
sour cream 200g / 7 ounces
salt 1 teaspoon
pepper
nutmeg, freshly grated, a generous amount
Chèvre (or any other fresh, soft goat cheese) 100g / 3 1/2 ounces
fresh rosemary, a small handful

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

Lay the sliced potatoes on top of the pre-baked pastry base and spread the chèvre in lumps on top. Season with a little salt and pepper, sprinkle with rosemary needles and pour the egg – cream mixture over it. Bake the tart in the oven for about 55 minutes or until golden brown, the top should be firm. Let it cool for a few minutes before serving.

Potato, Chèvre and Rosemary Tart

 

Potato, Chèvre and Rosemary Tart

 

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