eat in my kitchen

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

Tag: strawberries

meet in your kitchen | Tasting Rome with Kristina’s Maritozzi con La Panna

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As soon as the air is filled with flickering heat and the sky over Berlin is painted in the deepest sparkly blue, my mind tends to travel to the South, I’m desperately lost in Mediterranean daydreaming. One of my favourite imaginary destinations – apart from Malta – is Italy. Take me to the soft hills of Tuscany, the Renaissance statues at Florence’s Piazza delle Signora, or to the ancient city of Rome and my heart is filled with joy. My schedule doesn’t allow me to travel in person, but thanks to two American girls and their gorgeous cookbook Tasting Rome I can travel without having to leave (although I wouldn’t mind moving south for a few days).

The first time I was in touch with Kristina Gill, she asked me to come up with a sandwich recipe for her In the Kitchen With column on DesignSponge.com. She was happy with my creation, a lusciously stuffed Mediterranean Baguette, and we stayed in touch. I always assumed that Kristina lives in the US, Design Sponge is an American site. But the girl from Nashville moved to Rome almost two decades ago and dug deep into la dolce vita – into the culture, food, and history of her newly adopted hometown.

Years of walking down Rome’s cobblestoned streets, soaking up the loud scenes on the piazzas, and passing by baroque fountains and silent palaces also made her aware of the city’s vivid contrasts. To see the past and present meet, old buildings taken over for unconventional use, kitchen traditions being respectfully transformed into contemporary dishes – this lively process fascinated Kristina. When she met her pal, Katie Parla, who’s a New Jersey native, the two girls realized that they explore and experience their city in a similar way. Katie, who has a master’s degree in Italian gastronomic culture, and Kristina, the photographer and food and drinks editor, both loved documenting Rome’s lost recipes and contemporary innovations. So they decided to use their vast insider knowledge to write a cookbook together.

Tasting Rome is a collection of traditional Roman recipes and their modern interpretations. You can find pasta, vegetable, and meat classics side by side with scrumptious pizza variations and sweet Italian treats. I was impressed – and also glad – that the authors didn’t skip the city’s peasant tradition of using the whole animal, including offal, like sweetbread, liver, or tongue, and the more simple cuts of meat. It’s a tradition that corresponds with the great movement of eating sustainably and with respect for our environment.

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The two women developed the recipes together and asked the city’s great chefs for advice when it came to pizza and cocktails. The colourful pictures in the book that make you want to pack your bags and go straight to the airport – or at least to a Roman restaurant for dinner – were all taken by Kristina. Together, Katie and Kristina manage to share a taste of Rome through their words and delicious dishes.

I chose to share their recipe for Maritozzi con La Panna with you, tender sweet yeast buns filled with whipped cream. Apart from enjoying 4 (!) of these little temptations in one go with great pleasure, I was quite impressed to learn about a very simple technique that they use to roll the buns to give them a tight surface. Usually, I roll yeast buns between my two hands, holding one like a dome and the other one flat, rolling the dough about 20 times. Tasting Rome taught me to use only one hand, rolling the piece of dough and pressing it against a lightly floured kitchen counter until it’s a firm ball. It works perfectly!

The beautiful Rome pictures are by Kristina Gill, the food pictures are taken by me.

Maritozzi

 

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Maritozzi con La Panna – Sweet Buns with Whipped Cream

Makes 12 maritozzi

For the sponge

warm milk (between 40-45°C / 105-115ºF) 120ml / 1/2 cup
active dry yeast 1 1/4 tablespoons (I used fast-acting yeast)
bread flour 130g / 1 cup (I used white spelt flour)
granulated sugar 1 tablespoon

For the dough

unsalted butter, at room temperature, 100g / 7 tablespoons
granulated sugar 100g / 1/2 cup
fine sea salt 1/8 teaspoon
large eggs, at room temperature, 4
bread flour, plus more for dusting, 325 g / 2 1/2 cups (I used white spelt flour. I added 90g / 2/3 cup to the dough)

For the egg wash

large egg 1
whole milk 1 tablespoon

For the filling

heavy cream 480ml / 2 cups
granulated sugar 1 tablespoon
my addition: ripe strawberries

Make the sponge: In a medium bowl, whisk the yeast into the milk, then add the flour and sugar and stir to combine. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and set aside until it becomes puffy, about 20 minutes.

Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar, salt, and eggs on low speed.

Replace the paddle with the dough hook. Pour in the sponge, mix for a few turns, then add half of the flour. Mix on low until the dough is smooth, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining flour and mix again on low until the dough is smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. When the dough was smooth, but still too sticky, I added 90g / 2/3 cup of flour and mixed it for another 2 minutes on ‘4’ on my KitchenAid.

Allow the dough to rest in the bowl for 10 minutes, then run the mixer on low for 10 minutes to stretch the gluten. Meanwhile, line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into twelve equal-size pieces (each approximately 70g / 2 1/2 ounces). Using one hand, roll each piece into a tight ball, pressing it against the counter to ensure a smooth, tight surface. Next, using both hands, roll each ball into an elongated loaf shape, fatter in the middle and tapered on the ends, about 4 inches long, similar to a small football.

Place maritozzi on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them (at least) 4cm / 1 1/2″ apart. Cover with plastic wrap, then a kitchen towel, and allow to rise in a warm place (20-25°C / 70-80ºF) until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 175°C / 350ºF.

Make the egg wash: Whisk the egg with the milk in a small bowl. Immediately before baking, brush the tops of the maritozzi with the egg wash.

Bake until deep brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack.

While the maritozzi cool, make the filling: Whip the cream and sugar to firm peaks.

Slice each maritozzo open without cutting all the way through. Fill with the whipped cream, dividing it evenly, and serve immediately. Optionally: serve with fresh strawberries.

From Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavors and Forgotten Recipes from an Ancient City. Copyright (c) 2016 by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Maritozzi

When and why did you move to Rome?

I moved to Rome in October 1999 for work. I was in the US diplomatic corps.

What fascinates you about Roman culture? Was it easy to adapt, to become a part of it?

Roman culture was a bit different then than now –  internet was far less diffuse, and people were still pretty insular. It is hard to break into a ‘friendship’ culture in which bonds are created from childhood and don’t really change. Luckily, one summer several years before I moved here for work, I stayed in an apartment in Rome with other students, and they introduced me to their friends, so when I subsequently studied in Florence and Bologna, their parents made sure I was introduced to families in both cities with children my age. I guess you could say I adapted well because I was adopted! I spent a lot of time with these families – I was never alone on holidays. As time went on, the internet brought more curiosity about other places and people, and provided a way for Romans to cultivate their interests more – people wanted to connect more and that sped up forming relationships, especially around common interests, that their traditional network didn’t provide, so I’ve seen over time that Romans have become much more open to expanding their friendships beyond that childhood crew.

What do you miss about your life in the US?

Where to start? The cheeseburgers, the supermarkets, the variety of food available from different cultures, the variety of food available period, gourmet ice cream, parking, airconditioning, well-heated homes in winter… The ability to realize a dream with your own two hands. There’s a sense of freedom in the US that I don’t feel here – young people are leaving Italy in droves so that they can pursue their dreams. I’m lucky that I am able to be a part of both places.

What is your favourite spot in Rome and why?

My Savoir Bed is my favorite place…sleeps like a dream! But if you mean in the city, there are so many public squares to sit in and soak up thousands of years of history, which I find so mindblowing and relaxing. But lately, I think my favorite place is the MAXXI Museum, designed by Zaha Hadid, where I can check out contemporary art exhibitions. Just a small modern parenthesis in the middle of an otherwise gorgeous ancient landscape.

Can you see yourself living in Rome for the rest of your life?

I would like to move back to the United States to be with my family after so many years of being away and missing everyone. Seems like my cousins’ children were born last year, but are already studying at university!! I’ve missed out on a whole generation!

You wrote your book, Tasting Rome, together with Katie Parla. How long have you know each other and who came up with the idea to write this book together?

I can’t remember how long, however, we met over Twitter, a few years back. I already had the full proposal written when I met Katie, and a couple years after we knew each other, she mentioned that she had written a proposal, a memoir I think, that had been unsuccessful and was a bit down so I said – well, I have one that you might be interested in that we could do together! I sent it to her and asked her if she thought she saw herself in it. We added her name and bio to the proposal, and worked on some refinements with an agent I had already been in contact with. I approached Katie because I thought her knowledge of the history of Roman dishes and food culture would be a valuable addition to the book that would help ground it in fact and set it apart from the typical expat book that is written more from a personal perspective and is often an adaptation of cuisine. I wasn’t wrong!

How did you develop the recipes in your book?

From the proposal and through signing the deal, I was originally going to do all of the recipes and photography in the book, and Katie the features and headnotes, but once we started working on the book and came up with the list of recipes, there were clearly items that I had never eaten, like the offal chapter, and items for which I had no capacity to develop recipes, like the baking chapter and the cocktails chapter. Also, for the classics: Amatriciana, Gricia, Carbonara, and Cacio e Pepe, since Katie spends a lot of time eating out and had written numerous articles on which restaurants’ versions were the best in Rome, we agreed that she was in the best position to identify those recipes. That left roughly half of the book for me to develop, which I did over the course of four and a half months. Sometimes I did eat out to test recipes against my memories, but for the most part, I had clear ideas of how I liked the food I was working on, I knew the elements and knew more or less how to prepare. I had to check technical books for proper frying temperatures as starting points, or baking science (sweets). I did also consult with a friend who is a pastry chef for guidance on the maritozzi because I knew I wanted a rich soft brioche dough for that, and wanted to explore various options. I also talked with a couple of chefs to find out their views on the “proper” way to prepare certain dishes. Interestingly enough, they went over both the tradition and their variations. This gave some latitude and discretion in determining an approach for the book which remained authentic. For the other half, Katie procured recipes from local mixologists, local chefs and restaurant owners, and a good friend of hers who is an amazing baker for the baking chapter. When I look at the book, I think it represents the perfect mix of everything you would encounter in Rome today that defines Rome.

Who is your biggest inspiration in the kitchen?

On a personal level, Lucia, the mother of the family I stayed with when I studied in Florence. She has since passed away. She grew up in a town called Ristonchi a little outside of Florence, with chickens and a garden and the usual rural life. She could make the best food out of any ingredients you gave her. I loved the food made from leftovers the most. Her ribollita was the best on the planet, and her mother’s chicken broth which was liquid gold (and pure fat) made an indelible mark on my palate! She introduced me to Alessandra from Padova, whose mother, Gianna, took the cooking crown (and still wears it). Lucia, Alessandra and I both agreed that Gianna is the best – and between the three of us, we have eaten a lot of Italian cooking. Eating at Gianna’s house was better than any restaurant – and she took ‘orders’ in the morning before each meal so that when lunch or dinner came around, you had anything and everything you wanted. My inspiration from Gianna and Lucia came from their knowledge of how to prepare food, and how to be resourceful, and really how to eat. Gianna’s father was a baker. Food was always a central part of both households and you could tell that each meal was to be savored.

Has food always played an important role in your life? Do you come from a family of foodies?

Not really in the way you would think. I grew up in a household which consumed its fair share of whatever junk food was popular at the time – but which also shopped at the farmer’s market for weekend meals. My grandmother kept her own garden and fruit trees, and three freezers to keep all the produce throughout the year. I used to think she was a magician because this amazing feast appeared on the dinner table from food I hadn’t seen in the refrigerator during the day. It wasn’t until I was older that I learned about the other freezers!!

You took all the pictures in your book, when and how did you discover your passion for photography? What do you love about it?

I started taking pictures to be able to produce the In the Kitchen With column on DesignSponge, in 2008 I think. I think I started to love photography when I started taking more than just food pictures and found that capturing my environment was a way to see all the things I overlooked when I just passed through on my daily routine. It was like discovering a new world.

Do you prefer to capture the atmosphere of a city with your camera or delicious food?

Both. I love to explore a culture through its food, why certain ingredients or cooking techniques play the role they do, how the cuisine of one city differs from another and why. I love to capture the mundane and everyday of a city with my camera.

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

I can’t remember! But in high school I think I used to make pizza from ready made pizza dough, and at university, I prepared a meal from an African cookbook, featuring mostly Ethiopian food and my friends and I all liked it a lot!

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

My Saturday routine is concentrated in one neighborhood. Before the market I have a pastry (made in house) from Fabrica, a cafe near the market. Then at the Trionfale market I buy fish, produce, and a lot of Asian food staples (lime, rice noodles, bok choy, tamarind paste, palm sugar, ginger, galangal etc). I get cheese and nduja from La Tradizione (which is near Trionfale market). I pick up wine and alcohol from an enoteca named Costantini. I pick up oatmeal (flakes) from the healthful store around the corner from my office. It is a chain called Il Canestro. When I don’t have time for breakfast at home, I stop by Bar Benaco on the way to work because they make all their pastries in house and I can get them while they are still warm. I don’t eat out a lot because I have a bazillion cookbooks and am always excited to try new recipes, but when I do, I eat most often at Cesare al Casaletto because they always find me a table, or takeaway pizza from a place near my house or at pizzeria Tonda.

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

Bryant Terry, anything he’d like. I would love it all. Unless it had beets in it.

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

I learned about Bo Ssam pork at a meal at Matt Armendariz and Adam C. Pearon’s house. I would prepare Bo Ssam, and a selection of Asian-inspired salads. For dessert, a maple hazelnut cookie by Nigel Slater, and a selection of chocolates and coffee.

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

This is tough because I have no memory of a favorite food… Meatloaf maybe! Now… I have too many favorites, but cheeseburgers are top of my list. And dumplings. Chinese, Korean, Japanese…

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

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past two years working on the book alone – not just developing the recipes, but also preparing food for the photography. I styled about half of the recipes in the book, and Adam C. Pearson did the other half and the cover. When I was in the studio shooting, I did a lot of food prep as well, and enjoyed the atmosphere and working with Adam and his team of stylists. It’s definitely easier working with others! But sometimes, cooking is therapy and being alone is great.

Which meals do you prefer, improvised or planned?

As long as it’s good, either is fantastic!

Which meal would you never cook again?

I made some dog biscuits for my dog once that were made of like chopped liver and garlic or something. When they started to bake, the smell was SO BAD, I thought I’d have to move out of my apartment. He loved the cookies, but that smell stayed around for a LONG time and it was AWFUL.

Thank you Kristina!

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Maritozzi

 

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Maritozzi

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Raw Asparagus Salad with Basil and Pink Peppercorns

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

Whenever I buy a new appliance for my kitchen, a bigger wardrobe for our bedroom, or a more powerful driller for the tool box, I always ask myself how I managed before the new purchase entered our home. I’m totally fine with having to deal with limited space or less satisfying equipment in the house, but give me the comfort of improvement and I’m hooked for life.

This is exactly how I felt when I got my new fridge last December. It’s only the third fridge I have ever owned and although I can’t really complain about its predecessor – it did a decent job for more than 15 years – it drove me crazy at times. Mainly because the space it offered and the food I tried to put inside it did not match at all. I love fresh food, I buy a lot of fruit and vegetables every week at the farmers’ market, and all kinds of cheese, olives, capers, prosciutto … and wine of course. There are only two people to feed but our food needs space. Thinking back, I don’t know how I managed to store all the greens in my old fridge while I was working on my book a year ago, I have no idea. It worked, but now it’s different, now I actually enjoy my fridge. A few days ago I came into my kitchen with lots of bags and baskets full of rhubarb, berries, asparagus and other spring produce and everything fit. I looked at this silver beauty and couldn’t help but say “I love my fridge!”. When Samsung offered me their Chef Collection for my kitchen, I was over the moon and I still feel the same. When you love food and cooking you truly appreciate having the right equipment.

So when I took a look at all the vibrant colours in my fridge, I came up with a salad that looks and tastes as bright and fresh as this season. I cut raw green asparagus very thinly and mixed it with a handful of arugula and canned chickpeas. A few fresh strawberries on top and a light vinaigrette made with orange juice drizzled all over and it was almost done: Some pink peppercorns added subtle spice and their distinct aroma. It was a very satisfying spring creation.

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

 

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Raw Asparagus Salad with Basil and Pink Peppercorns

Serves 2

For the dressing

olive oil 3 tablespoons
freshly squeezed orange juice 2 tablespoons
white balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon
fine sea salt
ground pepper

For the salad

young green asparagus, trimmed, 4 stalks
arugula leaves, 1 large handful
drained canned chickpeas, 2 handfuls
fresh strawberries, cut into quarters, 6
a few fresh basil leaves
a few pink peppercorns

For the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, orange juice, and vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cut off the heads of the asparagus and cut them in half lengthwise. Using a mandoline, a cheese slicer, or a sharp knife, cut the asparagus stalks into long, very thin slices.

In a large bowl, arrange the arugula, asparagus, chickpeas, and strawberries in layers and drizzle with the dressing. Sprinkle with pink peppercorns and basil and serve immediately.

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

 

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

 

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

 

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

 

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Cardamom Churros on the table and my German book is ready for pre-order!

Cardamom Churros

I almost live in my kitchen, day and night, at least that’s how it seems at the moment. Although I’m used to spending a lot of time in this room – and I love it, that’s the reason I started this blog – but I barely see anything other than my pots and pans right now. I was asked to develop a bunch of recipes for a project (which I can’t talk about yet) and this task ties me to my kitchen again, just like a year ago when I worked on my book. It’s so funny that some things tend to repeat annually and you don’t really know why. It becomes a theme without a deeper sense to it. So I accept, it’s the second year in a row that I spend the month of May developing, cooking, and shooting recipes and producing more food than two people can possibly eat. But luckily, our friends are more than pleased about these circumstances. I cook and bake and they indulge in plates of cakes, roasts, seafood dishes, and salads.

Although I basically do exactly the same as last year, it feels different. It’s not my book, these aren’t my blank pages that I have to fill. I have to accommodate someone else’s vision, which is fine as I have complete freedom with the recipes. But when it comes to taking the photos, I have to match my own ideas with the visual concept that my partner in crime brings to the table. It works surprisingly well but when it comes to the amount of sauce – as banal as it may seem – there are worlds between us. I like it a bit less soggy, however, my creative supervisor prefers more juices on the plate. We compromise and meet in the middle.

The fruits of last year’s kitchen work are getting closer and closer to coming to the analogue world – the Eat In My Kitchen book is at the printing press! After I shared the Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk pre-order links for the English book a few weeks ago, it’s time for the big announcement for my German readers: Eat In My Kitchen – Essen, Kochen, Backen und Genießen is ready for pre-order on Amazon.de! It will be published on the 26th September, a few days before the English book (on the 4th October). The cover picture is the same as the English book and we also kept the subtitles quite similar. Apart from the last word, ‘to treat’ in English (einladen verwöhnen in German) became genießen’ (meaning ‘to enjoy’), the books are the same and both completely written by myself (I was offered a translator for the German version but that felt a little weird).

My book emerged out of this blog, which is all about cooking, baking, eating, treating, and enjoying the pleasures created in this marvelous space – my kitchen.

 

Eat In My Kitchen

 

One of the latest creations I passionately enjoyed from my kitchen were churros, the famous Spanish fried pastry snack. It was the first time ever that I made them and I was impressed how easy they are to prepare and how good they taste when they are made at home. Fresh out of the boiling oil, soft inside and golden and crisp on the outside, I tossed and coated them with aromatic cardamom sugar and ate them warm with fresh strawberries. The combination is perfect as it balances the churros’ richness with a bit of sour-sweet fruitiness.

I love my kitchen, especially when it produces such deliciousness.

Cardamom Churros

 

Cardamom Churros

Cardamom Churros

Serves 4

For the topping

granulated sugar 150g / 3/4 cups
ground cardamom  1 1/2- 2 teaspoons

For the churros

sunflower oil, for frying, about 1,3l / 5 1/2 cups
water 350ml / 1 1/2 cups
olive oil 2 tablespoons
granulated sugar 1 tablespoon
fine sea salt 1/4 teaspoon
plain flour 200g / 1 1/2 cups
organic egg 1

For serving

fresh strawberries

For the topping, combine the sugar and cardamom and spread on a deep plate.

In a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat the sunflower oil over medium-high heat.

In a large saucepan, bring the water, olive oil, sugar, and salt to the boil. Take the pot off the heat, add the flour, and, using a wooden spoon, stir vigorously until smooth and the dough comes away from the side of the saucepan. Transfer the dough to a large bowl and let it cool for about 10 minutes. Using a spoon, beat in the egg and mix until well combined.

When the oil is hot – dip in the bottom end of a wooden spoon, little bubbles, should form around it – fill the dough in a pastry bag fitted with a large open-star tip (about 1cm / 3/8″). Carefully squeeze the dough into the hot oil and snip it off when the churro is about 7cm / 2 3/4″ long. Fry about 5-8 churros at a time, depending on the size of your pot, and turn them a few times, using 2 large spoons. The churros should be done and golden after about 4-5 minutes. If they turn dark quicker, turn down the heat a little. Take them out with a slotted ladle and transfer them to the plate with the cardamom sugar. Toss and coat them and keep them in a large bowl while you continue frying the remaining dough. Serve warm with fresh strawberries – and preferably with a dark espresso.

Churros taste best on the first day. You can freeze them once they are fried, but they become a little rubbery (my aunt still enjoyed them though).

Cardamom Churros

 

Cardamom Churros

 

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Cardamom Churros

 

Eat In My Kitchen

Zucchini Cheese Fritter Sandwich with Strawberries and Lemon Balm

Zucchini Cheese Fritter and Strawberry Sandwich

A lusciously filled sandwich will always excite me. It only needs the right combination of flavours and textures to lift this comfort treat to new heights. Playing with contrast is a good way to start: soft and crunchy, fresh and creamy, sweet and salty – there are endless possibilities to create a little firework between two slices of bread.

If you follow the seasons, you can find inspiration in the pantry during the colder months of the year or while strolling through the farmers’s market to see what nature offers as soon as it gets warmer. And that’s what I did. Although I can find zucchini all year round, it’s only at the peak of spring that squash is finally packed with sweetness again. Mine comes straight from the fields in Italy and it has all the qualities it needs to become golden fried fritters. Mix in some cheese and lemon balm and you have a fragrant little snack on your plate. My cheese of choice is Leerdammer, which worked so wonderfully well in my Grilled Persimmon, Ham, and Cheese Sandwich. It’s not too overpowering next to the zucchini yet adds its particular subtle sweetness. Bringing in lemon balm makes it fresh and citrusy. And don’t be distracted by the strawberries graciously arranged on top, it may seem a bit brave but their sweet-sour fruitiness makes the composition complete.

This sandwich is just right for a decadent breakfast, a springy lunch, or a cozy dinner enjoyed on the sofa. And it works just as well without the bread: arrange the warm zucchini cheese fritters on plates along with fresh strawberries, sprinkle with lemon balm, and scatter some grated cheese and pink peppercorns all over this colourful feast.

This post is sponsored by Leerdammer.

Zucchini Cheese Fritter and Strawberry Sandwich

Zucchini Cheese Fritter Sandwich with Strawberries and Lemon Balm

Makes 3 sandwiches

For the zucchini cheese fritters

zucchini, grated, 450g / 1 pound
fine sea salt
spring onions, the green only, thinly sliced, 2 (about 2 tablespoons)
mild hard cheese, freshly grated, 30g / 1 ounce
organic egg, lightly beaten, 1
fresh lemon balm, finely chopped, 1 tablespoon
a generous amount of ground pepper
plain flour 40g / 1/3 cup
olive oil, to cook the fritters

fresh ciabatta, about 6 slices
rucola 1 handful
Leerdammer cheese, thinly sliced, about 6 slices
ripe strawberries, hulled and cut in half lengthwise, 6
pink peppercorns
fresh lemon balm, about 9 leaves

For the zucchini cheese fritters, in a large bowl, combine the grated zucchini and 1 teaspoon of salt. Rub the salt into the squash and let it sit for 10 minutes. Drain the zucchini and squeeze it in your hands. Spread the zucchini on a kitchen towel, cover with a second towel, and squeeze out any remaining liquid.

In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, spring onion, grated cheese, egg, chopped lemon balm, pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Add the flour in batches and mix with your hands or a large spoon until well combined.

In a large, heavy pan, heat a generous splash of olive oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add 2 tablespoons of the zucchini mixture for each fritter to the pan; give the fritter a round shape and flatten it lightly. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown, flip the fritters over, and turn down the heat to medium. Cook for another 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer the fritters to paper towels and cover with a lid while cooking the remaining fritters, add more oil if necessary. This makes about 6-7 zucchini fritters.

For the sandwiches, spread a little rucola on 3 slices of bread. Cover each slice with 2 slices of cheese and 2 warm fritters and finish it off with 4 strawberry halves. Sprinkle with pink peppercorns and a few lemon balm leaves and close with a slice of bread. Squeeze the sandwich – gently – and enjoy.

Zucchini Cheese Fritter and Strawberry Sandwich

 

Zucchini Cheese Fritter and Strawberry Sandwich

 

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Strawberry Ricotta Muffins

http://eatinmykitchen.meikepeters.com/green-bean-pea-and-kumquat-salad-with-turmeric-and-mint/

The past 10 days have been packed with excitement – too much for me at times. It started off with an urgent change to a new camera and laptop and I wasn’t too happy about this at first. I’m not a very technical person, I prefer sticking to a set up once it’s up and running rather than getting used to all sorts of technical novelties every couple years. I’m a bit lazy in that respect, but my forthcoming cookbook pushed me out of my comfort zone and called for new equipment. After 2 days of confusion and desperation, a long talk with my wonderful and patient photographer friend Anne Deppe, I felt ready for a new technical era in my life!

So once all these issues were solved, I could finally get started with the first recipes for my book. It felt a bit intimidating in the beginning when I took the pictures. I thought “wow, this will be printed one day, I’ll be able to hold these photos in my hands next year”. No more digital flexibility, this is the unchangeable analog world, I’ll have to make final decisions together with my editor Holly which will be irreversible at one point and printed onto paper! I stopped for a few minutes, put the camera aside and took my time to process everything that happened in the past month. I looked at the camera and the sandwich on the table right in front of me and made a decision: this is going to be fun, exactly like my blog! Eat in my kitchen has always been about my love for food and my enjoyment in the kitchen, I’ve enjoyed every second of this journey and I’ll keep it this way. So when this mental hurdle was overcome, the recipe craziness began: I cooked and baked 17 new dishes in the past 5 days, luckily we had family over from Malta. Everyone was more than happy to join our meals and I was very glad to hear their feedback. It was a very satisfying experience for both sides and there are hopefully many more to come in the next few weeks and months while I’m cooking and baking for the book.

When I met my friend Anna to talk about my technical issues, I decided to make a bunch of muffins with relaxing and caressing qualities. I needed some soul food for my stressed mind. I threw in my first strawberries of the year and their subtle sweetness matched wonderfully to the smooth dough which I refined with ricotta, olive oil and orange juice. They came out as being perfect spring breakfast muffins, light and fruity – and they relaxed me!

http://eatinmykitchen.meikepeters.com/green-bean-pea-and-kumquat-salad-with-turmeric-and-mint/

Strawberry Ricotta Muffins 

For a muffin tray with 12 molds you need

plain flour 320g / 11 1/4oz
sugar 100g / 3 1/2oz plus 1-2 teaspoons for the topping
baking powder 3 leveled teaspoons
baking soda 1/2 teaspoon
salt 1/4 teaspoon
organic eggs 2
ricotta 250g / 9oz
olive oil 100ml / 3 1/2fl oz
freshly squeezed orange juice 30ml / 1fl oz
strawberries, cut into chunks, 200g / 7 ounces

Set your oven to 190°C / 375°F (fan-assisted oven) and put paper baking cups into the 12 molds of the muffin tray.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Take out 1 heaped tablespoon of the flour-sugar mixture and mix quickly with the strawberries. In a second bowl, mix the eggs, ricotta, olive oil and orange juice until light and fluffy and pour into the bowl with the dry mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until you have a lumpy dough (with a bit of flour left here and there) and gently fold in the chopped strawberries. Keep in mind, the more you mix it the more it will lose its light texture.

Fill the muffin tray with the dough and bake for about 18 minutes or until golden. Take 1 muffin out of the tray and check with your finger if the bottom is baked through (the strawberries will make it very juicy). Sprinkle the muffins with a little sugar and let them cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before you put them on your breakfast table.

http://eatinmykitchen.meikepeters.com/green-bean-pea-and-kumquat-salad-with-turmeric-and-mint/

 

http://eatinmykitchen.meikepeters.com/green-bean-pea-and-kumquat-salad-with-turmeric-and-mint/

Spinach, Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad with Pink Peppercorns

Spinach, Strawberries + Goat Cheese

Green, white and red! Many of my summer dishes sing praise to the Italian flag, without any intention, but maybe my subconscious has something to do with it as I love this country so much. I was so shocked and sad for this football loving nation when they had to leave the World Cup this week (and one of their players got bitten!). I know they love this sport almost as much as their food (which means a lot!), so here’s a patriotic salad to lift up their spirits!

Crunchy baby spinach, rucola (rocket salad) mixed with a light olive oil, orange and Balsamico dressing, topped with sweet strawberries, thin slices of young goat gouda and pink peppercorns. The mild Dutch cheese, the berries and aromatic pepper  work perfectly on their own as well, cheese, fruit and a little spiciness, a scrumptious little nibble I can never reject!

For this salad for 2 I threw together a handful of baby spinach leaves and a small handful of rucola. My fruity dressing is the same one I used for my spinach and melon salad, I whisked 5 teaspoons of olive oil with 3 teaspoons of orange juice, 2 teaspoons of Balsamico vinegar and seasoned it with a little salt and black pepper. 12 strawberries cut in half and 6 slices of goat gouda (or another mild hard goat cheese) torn in pieces sprinkled on top together with a teaspoon of crushed pink peppercorns finished it off.

Spinach, Strawberries + Goat Cheese

 

Spinach, Strawberries + Goat Cheese

 

Spinach, Strawberries + Goat Cheese

Summer Strawberry Tiramisu

Strawberry Tiramisu

After a decade of eating nothing but tiramisu for dessert whenever I went to a restaurant I can call myself a true specialist when it comes to this famous Italian dessert. I love it passionately and although this phase of complete dedication ended many years ago I still order it sometimes when I see it on the menu. My sweet obsession wasn’t limited to restaurants only, but crept into my own kitchen as well. I can’t even count the recipes that I’ve tried until I came up with the one that is absolutely perfect to me. It is creamy, well balanced between mascarpone, eggs and sugar, the lady fingers dipped in espresso and liqueur for a second to avoid a soggy pastry layer. The right ratio between the coffee and alcohol is as important as the kind of spirit.  Brandy became my favourite over the years, no amaretto (too strong), no marsala or port (too sweet). I don’t bake my own ladyfingers but I “invest” in good quality ones from Italy, that’s where this recipe originates and they know best how to make the perfect biscuits for this dessert.

Funnily enough, I haven’t shared my tiramisu recipe on the blog yet although I’ve been wanting to write about it for months (and I’ve  made it a couple time since I started eat in my kitchen). Today I won’t even share my original recipe but the fruity summer version, my strawberry tiramisu! I promise, the classic one will come soon but for now it’s all about the fruit. Delicious nonetheless, if you have a dinner party ahead of you and you’re still looking for a dessert that you can prepare in advance, try this one. My guests always love it as much as I do!

Before I forget to mention it, the ladyfingers are dipped in a syrupy juice made of red wine, strawberry and sugar cooked for two minutes. It’s fruity and sweet with a bit of a red wine aroma, not too much, just a hint.

Strawberry Tiramisu

 

Strawberry Tiramisu

 Strawberry Tiramisu

The tiramisu is best when it can sit for at least 10 hours.

For 8-10 people you need (in a round 25cm / 10″ dish)

strawberries 500g / 18 ounces
(350g / 12.5 ounces sliced, 100g / 3.5 ounces cut in half for topping, 50g / 2 ounces finely chopped for the syrup)
ladyfingers 300g / 10.5 ounces
organic eggs 4
mascarpone, at room temperature, 400g / 14 ounces
sugar 60g / 2.5 ounces plus 40g / 1.5 ounces for the syrup
red wine 160ml / 5.5 ounces
a pinch of salt

In a sauce pan, bring the wine, 50g / 2 ounces of the strawberries and 40g / 1.5 ounces of the sugar to a boil and cook (open) for 2 minutes on a medium heat. Strain and pour in a deep plate and let the syrup cool.

Beat the egg whites and salt till stiff.

Whisk the mascarpone till creamy.

Mix the egg yolks and 60g / 2.5 ounces of the sugar till thick and creamy and add the mascarpone. Mix well until combined and gently fold in the egg whites.

Dip the ladyfingers’ bottom side (unsugared) in the syrup, for 1 second, they will soak enough liquid to soften overnight. If you leave them in longer they become soggy. Lay out a tight layer of ladyfingers (sugared side down) in the dish. Gently cover with half of the mascarpone egg mixture and put the sliced strawberries on top, pushing them down carefully. Spread out another layer of syrup-dipped ladyfingers and cover with the remaining cream. Decorate the tiramisu with the strawberry halves, cover with cling film and keep in the fridge for at least 10 hours before serving.

Strawberry Tiramisu

 

Strawberry Tiramisu

 

Strawberry Tiramisu

 

Strawberry Tiramisu

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