Archive for the ‘Berlin’ Category


December 20, 2008

People, since I have last spoken, a number of things have changed in my life. Within the last 10 days, I have turned 30, changed apartment (bigger, so much better and incredibly located) and acquired something I never dreamed I would own.

The move was ridiculously awful, and if you ever find yourself in a position to wonder wether you should move before or after you have three children, I urge you to do it before! Our kitchen ended up not being done on time, so we ate pasta pretty much everyday for about a week, until my sister came and saved us with champagne, good spirits and delicious sushis.

My birthday itself was not so fun, despite the fact that I absolutely don’t mind being thirty. In fact I have to admit I find it very chic (not sure when the novelty will wear off, though!). On the actual day, we went to ikea, a big box hardware store and took a stressful trip to our new local supermarket which is packed, this time of year and sells food at prices that boggle the mind. So it was a pretty normal day for a move but rather not so cool as a birthday.
The evening got better, as we had a dinner amidst boxes with some delicious cakes, our friend brought some candles for me to blow out, and I got some lovely gifts – one mostly, gifted by my parents who took their cue from my obsession of wanting a gift that would last and mark the birthday:


And isn’t the color gorgeous? It looks so pretty in my shiny new white kitchen, I keep wanting to touch it and turn on the motor just to hear the lovely purring-sound it makes! I haven’t yet gotten around to using it, nor have I tried my shiny new oven. In fact, right now is the first ‘free time’ I have in about a month and I’ve felt so bad about neglecting the blog, that i thought I ought to give some news.
The stressful times are mostly behind us now, and we can focus on the good parts about moving, explore our new neighbourhood, enjoy our big and beautiful new kitchen and it’s shiny appliances and enjoy the view from our balcony.

Tomorrow we leave for my parents house were we will be celebrating Christmas. I’m pretty sure there will be cooking and baking, and I promise the next post will be a bona fide recipe+photo post.
For now, I will leave you with my best wishes for Christmas, I hope your year ends with as many great changes as mine did!


Plum Times

September 7, 2008

We went to the Bode museum today, just to see if we could manage with the three kids. It turns out, we can’t really: J. was only marginally interested in the sculptures/paintings, Bas. was in complete agony from being overtired, teething and hungry and Bal. was the only one doing ok, sucking his thumb while looking around. The visit ended abruptly with J. deciding it was a good idea to recline Bas.’ buggy so that he would sleep (sthg which he is not allowed to do, him being only three and all) and completely quetsching the poor childs arm in the process. Everyone started howling on cue — and we fled the scene for home.

After we had put everyone to sleep, we started relaxing, twittering around and generally doing things for our own enjoyment. Meaning, I baked and cooked, while L. computered!
I don’t know if it was to match the weather or the atmosphere in Berlin, but the meal ended up being a nice welcoming of fall: a plum tarte and neck of pork (Schweinekamm / échine de porc) braised in the oven with caramelized prunes. It was totally delicious and along with the nap made everybody feel much better about the weekend. I especially urge you to go make that pork now, because it’s that easy and good!

As an aside, I also tried to replicate the delicious meal L. and I had on our night out, celebrating our 4th wedding anniversary. We went to a big opening, which was great fun, the art on display just as much as the people we met, but the real highlight of the night was the fish with chanterelles in barbecue sauce that we ate later that night at Toca Rouge.
I had already been converted by my father to the idea of serving fish and fresh chanterelles together, but the barbecue sauce was just perfect. When I tried to re-do it (with ginger, hoisin, rice vinegar, soy and a splash of sichara hot sauce), I couldn’t figure out what it was that made theirs so special, but I will try again until I figure it out! In the meantime, please come forth with suggestions or, if you are in Berlin, go check out the place!


Braised Pork Neck with dried Prunes*

Prep Time: 15 min cooking time: 50 min

700 g pork neck, deboned
1 medium sized red onion, roughly chopped
200 g chopped dried prunes (1 packed cup)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup rice vinegar (you can subsitute it with balsamic vinegar)
1 /3 cup of water or a little more
1 tsp each of rosemary and thyme

cast iron pot with a tight fitting lid (can be substituted with tin foil)

Preheat the oven to 190°. Heat the oil in the pot on the stove and add the herbs and chopped red onion. Cook for a minute or until fragrant.
Add the pork and make sure to sear it well on both sides. Put the chopped prunes and stir until evenly coated. Pour over the vinegar, cover with the lid and cook in the oven for about 50 min.
When the meat is done, let it rest covered, for another 10 min to let the the meat stay tender and juicy. Eat with mashed / steamed potatoes or rice.


Plum tarte

prep time: 5min, cooling time: 30 min, baking time 40 min
metal mixing bowl and knife or food processor tarte tin

for the Dough**

2 cups of flour (about 240 g)
1/2 tsp salt
100 g sugar
145 g cold cold butter
3 tbsp icecold water

for the Filling

800 g ripe plums washed, stoned and halved
2 tsp of semolina
2 tsp of brown sugar
more sugar to taste

Keep your ingredients very cold. Cut the butter in cubes and using a knife, cut it into the flour, salt and sugar, or mix it in your foodprocessor until it looks like coarse crumbs. Add the cold water bit by bit until the dough starts to come together. Roll it together in a ball, wrap it in clingfoil and put it in the fridge to rest for 30 min or up to overnight.

When you are ready, butter and flour your tarte tin and roll out your dough to fill it’s size. Sprinkle the sugar and semolina onto the dough and arrange your plum halves in the tin. I like to alternate between one half facing up and one facing down, so as not get the bottom of my tarte too soggy.*** Add a couple of pats of butter, sprinkle with some or lots more sugar and bake for about 40 min.

* I’m sorry, but dried prunes sound terrifyingly unappetizing!

** I have already blogged this tarte dough before and still stand by the fact that it’s the Bestest!

*** You can see in the picture that I ran out of plums halfway, I only had one scant pound, don’t make the same mistake: really pack the tin full with them!

For ToScho

May 8, 2008

One of my friends Tobi came for dinner on monday. I know a lot of Tobis, so we refer to them either by location (Tobi New York, for instance — though he has moved to London in the meantime) and Tobi Sch., whom I also refer to as Stabi Tobi, because I met him at the state library here in Berlin six years ago. We met because we were the only people in the library using Apple computers and thus we immediatly bonded over our mutual cuteness, geekiness and snobbiness!

So, he came for dinner and brought beer and icecream, upon request. I had the jar pictured above on the countertop, and was excitedly explaining that this was dessert. Somehow he totally failed to be impressed, and I was really not getting why: who wouldn’t get excited about SALTED!BUTTER!CARAMEL!! A sauce, that routinely makes me want to bathe in it it’s so good. I also like to refer to it as liquid Werther’s Echte!

As I got ready to serve dessert, the salted butter caramel sauce poured over vanilla icecream* Tobi asked me why I was using salad sauce to eat with icecream… Mystery solved, sauce tried. blissful coma ensued!**

Over dinner, I helped him put together a dinner for this weekend using the sauce as one of the features, and promised I’d post the recipe for him to check. So Tobi, here you go:


Salted Butter Caramel

prep time: 5 min

adapted from Trish Deseine Ma petite Robe Noire et autre Recettes

100 g granulated sugar
2 tbsp water
70 g salted butter***
2 tbsp mascarpone

Put the sugar and water in a heavy saucepan over low to medium heat. Do not stir and wait for the sugar to melt. You can swirl the content in the saucepan until everything is an even light golden color.

Take the saucepan off the heat and add the butter. Make sure to drop it along the sides of the saucepan and not into the middle, or the mixture will spatter, bubble and BURN! Slowly incorporate the butter with a wooden spoon and keep turning until all is melted. Add the mascarpone in the same way.

You can eat it rightaway, or let the leftovers cool down. It will harden in the fridge, but you can heat it up in a waterbath or the microwave to bring it back to pouring consistency.

*confession: I didn’t have salted butter, so I added about a quarter of a teaspoon of table salt, along with the butter. This made the caramel curdle. BUT. I have an awesome remedy for that: Let the caramel cool a bit to prevent it from burning you and quickly whizz it in the blender until it has reached a smooth consistency. This trick also works for custards (crème anglaise) and other sauces using dairy which have the tendency to curdle.

** We also crumbled some cookies on top of the sauce for extra textural tastey deliciousness, becaue that’s the way our cookie crumbles!

***I hate german icecream. I don’t know what they do to it, but nearly every brand (save for Landliebe) is all slimy and airy and gooey. All in a bad way. I think they must whip their icecream under the guise of conching. But thanks to Tobi for bringing icecream anway!

Edited to add:
Tobi tried making it by himself and it didn’t work out. here’s why: 1) make sure you are using a pot, not a pan. the caramel needs to have volume and not spread out to thin, or else it’ll burn. 2) you can add the salt along with the sugar and water, it works just fine. 3) the caramel has to be a very light blond colour, other wise it’s to dark, and that’s what’s causes it to curdle. Now hurry and go make it!