Tag: Berlin

Meet In Your Kitchen | Cookies & Co’s Ricotta Lemon Cake with Yuzu Cream

This post is part of my Meet in My Kitchen podcast series:

How did we get to where we are in life and what does food have to do with it.

Food is existence. It’s therapy. In our case, food is a way of expression. It’s a reflection of our personalities and our believes. Food in general is pure pleasure. – Mira and Ori

She loves baking, he loves coffee. She grew up in the Soviet Union before it became Russia, he grew up under the hot sun of Israel. She calls herself a lazy perfectionist – she’s anything but lazy – and dances around with her two little kids while preparing filigree cakes for the bakery, tired but happy. He tells you about the most painful moment in his life and how it became one of the most beautiful moments of his life. Mira Koretsky and Ori Kidron of Cookies & Co are two opposite poles, two planets orbiting and dancing around each other. There’s so much energy, so much trust. They are one of the most positive couples I’ve ever met and together they are riding life’s turbulent waves as they come.

Cookies & Co is one of Berlin’s highly praised cafés / bakeries. The two owners never compromise to please everybody. Instead, they attentively take care that their place keeps its unique soul. A lot comes from Mira’s style of baking, which – despite its perfect look and taste – never loses its charm. She’s a professional baker with the soul of a flexibel home baker. Unpredictable influences cause that not every pastry looks the same. Taste and texture vary slightly according to the seasons or changing weather conditions, which means that every cookie, every cake, and croissant is unique. This is not a baking factory, it’s the opposite. All pastries are made by Mira and her assisting pastry chef, Lior – who is at least as passionate about baking as he is about Beyoncé. The two bakers share the same quality standards and values and also curiosity to dive into unexplored baking adventures.

Once you move your body, you’re moving forward. That’s the circle of life. As long as there is movement something is happening.” – Mira

Maybe it’s because Mira grew up in a political system that didn’t allow culinary abundance but had a strong baking tradition, her recipes simply work and impress even if she left out the firework. However, let her start her firework and you will see the most colorful sweet feast. Fascinated by Japan’s modern baking culture, she tops her perfectly moist Ricotta Lemon Pound Cake with a flowery-sour Yuzu Cream (recipe below). Her Black Forest Cake is refined with miso and the bakery’s popular Compost Cookies stay true to their name: take a thick and chewy cookie and add chunky pretzels, chocolate, and potato chips to it. It sounds funky but it’s so good!

One of the masterpieces from the Cookies & Co bakery, it’s like the movie star that everybody wants to take a picture of, is their glorious, beautifully laminated Croissant with Yuzu Filling and flamboyant purple Italian Meringue. It’s a diva, you’re almost too shy to cut it. It’s dramatic, it’s loud but it keeps its promise: it looks like something that will excite you and it definitely does. And then the husband comes in, serving you a cappuccino or espresso that is just right. Ori is the barista in the family, obsessed with good coffee, and also taking care of the guests while his wife is getting creative in the kitchen. Sometimes Ori has to slow Mira down otherwise the guests would never see their beloved Cookies & Co classics on the menu again. If she could, Mira would change the menu every day. Luckily, he stops her so that we can enjoy her creations more than once.

“And you’re thinking to yourself, how do I deal with this now, how do I go on, how do I make the most out of this, how do I optimize myself ’cause this requires so much more out of me, out of us as people, as parents, actually being there for someone who needs you so desperately. And you don’t even know in what sense, what is going to be required of you. Then all of a sudden came a song by Sade. It’s called Long Hard Road and the chorus says There’s a long hard road ahead but a voice inside me said it’s gonna be alright. It was just exactly what I needed at that point. And I just started crying right there in the street and as emotional as all of this was, I remember telling myself this is one of the most beautiful moments I have ever had in my life.” – Ori

There are many bakeries offering perfect pastries all over the world but the ones we stick to, we keep going back to, are the ones that touch us, the ones that have a soul. Mira and Ori do almost everything on their own, keeping the quality level they once defined for themselves without compromises. Even if their energy is running low, they keep the motor running constantly. They are young parents, their youngest daughter was born with trisomy 21. The situation challenged them but they decided to face it with the same stubborn energy and positivity that they, individually and as a couple, activate every day to deal with all facets of life. They are honest, they know the gifts they got. They don’t look for the easiest way but they always find a beautiful way to enjoy life as it is: an endless circle of ups and downs. And in Mira’s and Ori’s case it’s a dance.

Mira shared the recipe for her Ricotta Lemon Pound Cake with Yuzu Cream with me. You can either bake the cake in a loaf tin and serve it with dollops of the fruity cream or go for the pâtissier-style serving and bake the cake in a deep baking dish, cut out circles, and pipe the cream delicately on top. Just like they do at the Cookies & Co bakery.

The podcast episode with Mira and Ori is in English. You can listen to the Meet in My Kitchen podcast on all common podcast platforms (click here for the links); there are English and German episodes. You can find all the blog posts about these podcast episodes including my guests’ recipes here on the blog under Meet in Your Kitchen.

Listen to the podcast episode with Mira and Ori on:

Spotify / Apple / Deezer / Google / Amazon / Podimo

On Instagram you can follow the podcast @meetinmykitchenpodcast!

Ricotta Lemon Pound Cake with Yuzu Cream

by Mira Koretsky / Cookies & Co

It’s best to prepare the yuzu cream the night before you serve the cake.

For the yuzu cream

  • 2g / 2/3 teaspoon powdered gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 80g / 3 ounces white chocolate
  • 120ml / 1/2 cup heavy cream (divided into 2 x 60ml / 1/4 cup)
  • 70ml / 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon yuzu juice

For the pound cake

You can either bake the cake in a 26 x 12cm / 10 x 5″ loaf tin or for the pâtissier-style serving, cutting the cake into circles or squares, use a baking dish of roughly double the size.

  • 170g / 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 350g / 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar (or 300g / 1 1/2 cups sugar if you prefer it less sweet)
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 360g / 13 ounces ricotta, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 200g / 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the yuzu cream, stir the gelatin into the water in a small bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. In a small saucepan, melt the white chocolate in 60ml / 1/4 cup of heavy cream over medium heat, whisking constantly; remove the pan from the heat. Add the cream mixture to a blender (or leave it in the saucepan and use a whisk), add the remaining 60ml / 1/4 cup of heavy cream, the yuzu juice, and the gelatin-water mixture and blend, or whisk, until smooth; cover and let sit overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 160°C / 325°F. Butter and line a 26 x 12cm / 10 x 5″ loaf tin with parchment paper, or a baking dish of roughly double the size.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each egg before adding the next one, and continue beating for a few minutes until creamy and light yellow. Mix in the ricotta and lemon juice then add the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until smooth and shiny. Transfer the dough to the prepared loaf tin or baking dish and bake for around 40-50 minutes, checking after 30 minutes, or until the cake is golden; if you insert a skewer in the middle of the cake it should come out clean. Let the cake cool completely.

For serving, whisk the yuzu cream to fluff it up. You can either cut the cake into slices and serve the yuzu cream separately or cut the cake baked in a baking dish into circles (using a round cookie cutter) or squares and, using a piping bag, pipe the yuzu cream on top.

Enjoy!

Meet In Your Kitchen | Sebastian Frank’s Horváth – Austrian Roots in Berlin

This post is part of my Meet in My Kitchen podcast series:

How did we get to where we are in life and what does food have to do with it.

“When there’s a feeling coming up like Can this dish compete with the one before, did I go a step further? then I try to push it away. It does come up, there’s nothing I can do to avoid it, especially when I remove a dish from the menu that was the bomb. That’s just the way it is, the quality in developing new dishes can’t always be the same. If I were a machine and I could only create dishes that are the bomb, I’d do it, but I can’t.” Sebastian Frank

Two worlds fruitfully combined in the midst of Kreuzberg: Austria and Berlin. His home country, Austria, feeds the chef Sebastian Frank with the knowledge, passion, and inspiration he needs to create unique dishes of rare honesty. He built up one of the capital’s most praised restaurants, he has been rewarded with 2 Michelin Stars but when you talk to him, he makes it sound so easy. And somehow it is. Some people have a genius mind and still manage to keep their feet on the ground.

Together with his partner, Jeannine Kessler, Sebastian moved to her home city, Berlin, 10 years ago and thanks to fortunate circumstances they both took over the Horváth restaurant and turned into the gem it is today.

“Women are just better chefs and I’m convinced that every man who is a good chef has a strong feminine side.” – Sebastian Frank

For a long time, the Austrian chef thought he missed out on international experiences, that he couldn’t compete with other chefs who did work abroad, particularly the chefs who worked in French kitchens celebrating haute cuisine. Little did he know that exactly this would become his greatest asset.

Although Sebastian started to learn in kitchens at a young age, at 14, it was only in his late teens and twenties that he learned about all those praised culinary luxury products, about a way of cooking that could possibly be rewarded with Michelin Stars and Gault Millau rankings. He was hooked but he still needed time to find himself in the vast culinary universe and all its possibilities. Yet when he stopped looking outside but opened up towards what he already had inside himself, he found the answer he was looking for. He says that he only discovered the confidence to trust himself and work with what he had found inside himself when he was 30, when he started working at Horváth.

Growing up in eastern Austria, close to the border to Hungary, only experiencing the local cuisine until he reached his twenties, smelling, tasting, and working with just local produce and products of exceptional quality, left a mark deeper than he expected at that time. Sebastian noticed that when it comes to the cuisine and the products that he up grew with, no one can fool him.

Being limited opened up his mind – and the flood gates – to a more profound knowledge and understanding of the food that he had had on his plate all his life. He experienced a much deeper level of tastes and textures by working with just a small range of vegetables. He wasn’t distracted anymore. He could study a celery root, carrots, beets, potatoes until he totally understood their flavor profile. He could dive into the regional recipes until he totally understood what makes or breaks them. And at that point, he could start playing. Sebastian also had another great advantage, he already had the emotional connection that you need for true inspiration. And this emotional connection took him right back to his childhood, to his own roots and memories.

Today, Sebastian Frank plays with an imperturbable down-to-earth confidence that is impressive. He only needs to visit his culinary archive in his head to find an endless source of old knowledge and new ideas to feed his kitchen repertoire. It’s not arrogance, he is open to other opinions and criticism, but he himself knows best when something is right – and then he makes his decision within seconds.

Usually I’m a rather chatty person when I go to restaurants but when I indulged into a 9-course dinner at Horváth, accompanied by non-alcoholic drinks based on vegetables, fruit, and broth that were just as refined as the compositions on the plates, even I had to keep my mouth shut and just enjoy the full range of tones that Sebastian plays with; sometimes they are harmonic or a harsh contrast, familiar or a surprise, quiet or loud, sometimes they build up slowly but then explode so vibrantly that it makes you smile.

The recipe Sebastian shared with me is called Celery, Young and Aged. One part of this recipe is a celery root that has aged in salt dough for a year and that’s being grated over the dish. It looks like white truffle, is packed with umami, tastes like concentrated salted celery, and looks absolutely stunning. The crusty salt dough shell, when it’s cracked open, looks a bit like Parmesan rind. You automatically feel a lot of respect for this product that needed so much time to age and that people have been taking care of for a whole year. You can’t really detach this feeling from this dish. However, if you don’t feel like waiting a year to try out Sebastian’s recipe you can either make the alternative celery salt (which I bagged him to come up with) or order an aged celery from the Horváth shop (which I highly recommend).

The podcast episode with Sebastian Frank is in German. You can listen to the Meet in My Kitchen podcast on all common podcast platforms (click here for the links); there are English and German episodes. You can find all the blog posts about these podcast episodes including my guests’ recipes here on the blog under Meet in Your Kitchen.

Listen to the podcast episode with Sebastian on:

Spotify / Apple / Deezer / Google / Amazon / Podimo

On Instagram you can follow the podcast @meetinmykitchenpodcast!

Celery, Aged and Young

by Sebastian Frank / Horváth

(from his book KuK – cook, published by Matthaes Verlag, 2019, in German, you can order the book here)

The aged celery in this recipe ripens in salt dough for 1 year*. Alternatively, you can order an aged celery from the Horváth online shop or use celery salt instead – you can find both recipes for the aged celery and celery salt below! You can buy the celery seeds used in this recipe in spice shops or online.

Serves 2

* For the aged celery in salt dough

You’ll only need some of the aged celery for this recipe. Please weigh the ingredients for accuracy and don’t use cups.

  • 250g / 9 ounces instant flour (doppelgriffiges Mehl)
  • 165g / 6 ounces fine salt
  • 160ml / 2/3 cup water, at room temperature
  • 1 whole knob celery, roughly as large as a fist, with skin but without the green

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, and water until smooth. Form into a ball, cover with a kitchen towel, and let rest, at room temperature, over night.

Preheat the oven to 220°C / 425°F.

Rinse the celery, pat dry, and cover evenly with the salt dough then transfer the celery to a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 180°C / 350°F and bake for another 40 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely (don’t remove the salt dough crust!).

Store the celery in the salt dough crust in a place with a constant temperature of about 15-20°C / 60-70°F. In the first 2 months, flip the celery every second day so that the moist bottom side is at the top. In the following 6 months, turn the celery once a week. In the last 4 months, you don’t need to turn the celery at all.

For the celery salt

  • 2 tablespoon celery seeds
  • 5 tablespoons Maldon sea salt flakes (or another flaky sea salt)

In a medium, heavy pan, toast the celery seeds for a few seconds; they shouldn’t get dark. Transfer to a mortar and crush lightly with a pestle, add the salt, and mix to combine. Store the celery salt in an airtight container.

For the chicken soup

You’ll only need 200ml / about 3/4 cup of the soup; you can use the remaining soup for other recipes.

  • 500g / 18 ounces chicken carcass
  • 300g / 11 ounces chicken skin
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 garlic bulb, with skin, cut in half
  • 100g / 4 ounces carrots, peeled and diced
  • 150g / 5 ounces celery, peeled and diced
  • 100g / 4 ounces leek, cut in half
  • 30g / 1 ounce parsley stalks
  • 5 allspice berries
  • 3 star-anise
  • 10 cloves
  • 5 juniper berries
  • 2 bay leaves

In a large pot, bring the chicken carcass, chicken skin, and 2.5 liters / 10 1/2 cups of cold water to a boil.

In a small pot or pan, sear the onion and garlic, cut side down, until very dark then transfer to the pot with the chicken carcass, along with the carrots, celery, leek, parsley, and spices, and gently simmer for 90 minutes.

With a large spoon, remove the chicken fat on top of the soup, transfer to a bowl, and set aside (you’ll need the chicken fat warm and liquid for serving). Strain the soup through a very fine sieve and muslin towel and set aside.

Young celery

  • 1 knob celery, roughly as large as a fist, with skin but without the green

Rinse the celery and, using a mandoline slicer, carefully cut into paper thin slices. Steam the celery slices for 2 minutes at 90°C / 190°F or until tender but al dente. Let them cool.

Toasted celery seeds (for serving)

  • 20g / 3/4 ounce celery seeds

In a hot, dry pan, toast the celery seeds briefly until dark.

For finishing the chicken soup

  • 200ml / 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the chicken soup
  • 30g / 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • Salt

In a small saucepan, warm up the chicken soup and butter until hot, it shouldn’t start boiling (it should be 80°C / 175°F). Remove the pan from the heat, whisk in the egg yolks to bind the soup, and season to taste with salt.

For serving, arrange the steamed celery slices on a large, deep plate. Pour a little bit of the whipped chicken soup around the celery slices. Sprinkle with the toasted celery seeds, and drizzle some of the chicken fat on top. Break open the salt dough crust of the aged celery, remove and discard the salt shell, and grate some of the aged celery all over the plates. Alternatively, sprinkle with a little celery salt. Enjoy immediately.

Meet In Your Kitchen | Moritz, Switzerland & the Grill Royal Family

This post is part of my Meet in My Kitchen podcast series:

How did we get to where we are in life and what does food have to do with it.

“Food is probably the most important thing for me besides breathing. But I guess sex is also pretty important.” – Moritz Estermann

When you grow up in the Swiss Prealps and you find your peace with the fact that you live in a tiny village only surrounded by nature, then Switzerland is the best place to live in. However, if at one point you want to know what there is on the other side of the mountains, you have a problem. Then you have to leave.

Moritz Estermann liked his life, tightly woven into a safe net of family, friends, and Swiss food. During the week he would play in the neighbors’ fields and barns, the weekends would be all about walks in the mountains together with his parents and brother. And when he could tell his father the names of 20 flowers he would get French Fries in one of the mountain huts. Moritz doesn’t want to make it sound like Sound of Music – but it does.

But one day, the Swiss fairy tale ended and Moritz left the mountains behind to move to Berlin. And as he arrived, walking down Strasse der Pariser Kommune lined with its very vertical, very unadorned socialist buildings, he felt home and ready for a new chapter.

“We started at Pauly Bar, moved on to the Grill (Royal) then we went to King Size Bar at 1 at night and left at 6 in the morning, staggering. But I had to be back in the office at 9:30, often working on bookkeeping. It was an absolutely amazing time, I learnt everything this business is about, but you shouldn’t do this. You get bogged down. It’s too much. Your own life falls by the wayside. Completely.Moritz Estermann

Grill Royal, Kin Dee, Bar Freundschaft, Dottir – Moritz Estermann’s name appears behind many raisins in Berlin’s gastronomic cake but the man himself stayed a mystery for me for a long time. I had been wanting to meet him for years and it had to happen during a long and tipsy night out at Bar Freundschaft. Introduced by Susan Choi, and soon rebuked by Moritz as I told the sommelier “I’m sure you don’t have pastis,” the first sentence Moritz ever said to me was: “Don’t be so negative!.” I felt like a little girl, but he was right, and I got my drink in the end.

So how does a Swiss boy end up in the ‘Grill Royal family’ at quite a young age? He’s not only supervising some of the ‘family’s’ places, but he’s also Stephan Landwehr’s and Boris Radczun’s – the founding fathers – copartner in a few endeavors. How does he start new projects and each and every single one is a success? The answer is very Swiss: Moritz says he understands restaurants and he understands Berlin.

But there’s more behind this humble Swiss mind. Moritz has a great connection to his instinct and he completely trusts this instinct. I’ve seen this talent in the characters of all the people I’m talking to for the Meet in My Kitchen podcast. They can all hear their inner voice and learnt to always listen to it. Moritz instinctively goes to the right places, connects with the right people, feels the inspiration, and then picks up the right projects. It’s not luck, his success rate is too good for that. It’s a very clear focus on what makes sense and then hard work and discipline to get there.

What I love about people in the gastronomic world is that despite this discipline, they never miss the party. What I love about Moritz on top of this is that he wants to create places that make his customers happy but he also wants to create places where his employees are just as happy to work at. He is part of a new movement of restaurateurs who break with the old system. Yes, he wants to and he has to create profitable places, but that doesn’t mean you have to exploit the ones who work for you. It’s a new feeling of responsibility, and also awareness, that no matter what your job is, you can always make a difference within your everyday operating range.

“I’m not sure if I really trust the universe or if I am, and was, simply naive, but I was never scared of the world outside. I believe it’s a great privilege, growing up in an environment where fear doesn’t exist, simply not being forced to confront it and learning to live with it.”Moritz Estermann

Moritz pays a lot of attention to the people around him. And he pays the same attention when it comes to his food and cooking at home. He shared his current favorite recipe with me, Pappa al Pomodoro. This frugal Italian dish is made with just a few ingredients and that’s the reason why each of them should be of exceptional quality. It reminded me a lot of Panzanella – a Tuscan bread salad – yet the stale bread is soaked in tomato sauce and not in vinaigrette and water. Officially it’s a thick soup, eaten warm or cold. Roughly chopped sun-kissed heirloom tomatoes, fantastic sourdough bread with a dark crust, the finest olive oil, and a very simple yet very tasty tomato sauce make you forget about frugality and simply indulge in a very fruity, surprisingly light, summery lunch that takes you right to the soft hilltops of Tuscany.

The podcast episode with Moritz Estermann is in German. You can listen to the Meet in My Kitchen podcast on all common podcast platforms (click here for the links); there are English and German episodes. You can find all the blog posts about these podcast episodes including my guests’ recipes here on the blog under Meet in Your Kitchen.

Listen to the podcast episode with Moritz on:

Spotify / Apple / Deezer / Google / Amazon / Podimo

On Instagram you can follow the podcast @meetinmykitchenpodcast!

Pappa al Pomodoro

by Moritz Estermann

Serves 2

For the tomato sauce

  • 350ml / 1 1/2 cups tomato passata
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Fine sea salt
  • Black pepper, freshly ground 

For the Pappa al Pomodoro

  • Around 1/3 of a 750g / 1 2/3 pound loaf of stale white sourdough bread (with crust, the weight of the stale bread is roughly 225g / 1/2 pound)*
  • Olive oil (the best you can afford)
  • Around 450g / 1 pound ripe tomatoes (organic, heirloom, ideally various types)*
  • 1 large handful fresh basil leaves, torn
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste (optionally)

* The ratio of fresh tomatoes to bread should be roughly 2:1

Preheat the oven to 160°C / 325°F (preferably convection setting).

For the tomato sauce, add the passata, garlic, and a dash of olive oil to a medium saucepan, season to taste with salt and pepper then bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes. The sauce should be light red and runny, not thick, and taste fruity; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Tear the bread into bite-sized pieces, spread on a large baking sheet, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Toast the bread in the oven until crispy but not dark. Transfer the warm bread to a large bowl and add the tomato sauce. The bread should be well covered in sauce and soak it all up but it shouldn’t swim in the sauce; let it sit for at least 5 minutes, the bread should have soft parts and parts that are still a little firm.

Cut the tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. Add the fresh tomatoes and basil to the bowl with the soaked bread, season to taste with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon then gently and briefly mix with your hands; it should be chunky, not mushy.

Enjoy immediately!

Meet In Your Kitchen | Mr. Susan’s Kimchi Michelada

This post is part of my Meet in My Kitchen podcast series:

How did we get to where we are in life and what does food have to do with it.

“Food really helped carve out my identity, it made me realize who I am, but it was also entrée into other cultures.”– Susan Choi

What happens when you grow up in Germany, move to LA to a Mexican neighborhood at the age of six together with your Korean parents then replace California with NYC and finally end up in Berlin with a Dutch husband? You love schnitzel, traditional German food and traditions like Sunday afternoon Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake); your mother’s Korean cooking becomes a safe home inside yourself, a culinary bond to your roots; you develop a weak spot for Mexican ice cream, and adapt to the culinary playfulness that Americans master to perfection so easily.

This is the culinary map of Susan Choi, the owner of Berlin’s acclaimed Mr. Susan bar. Why Mr. Susan? – Susan says “Why not!” Susan embraces, no she celebrates all the colors and shapes, the flavors and textures, the stories and people that this map keeps bringing into her life. She dove deep into each of these cultures, they became a part of who she is today. She welcomes them with respect, curiosity, and infinite excitement and she finds in them endless inspiration to feed her mantra: Life’s a feast!

“My parents worked so hard for us. It is the classic kind of immigrant story where your parents work like a bajillion jobs, bajillion hours to make sure that you have everything that you could want in the world. Every single opportunity I have is because of my parents.“ – Susan Choi

Susan is one of the most positive and energetic people I know – I can’t really imagine her having a bad day. The obstacles in her life were tough, from brutal racism to having to learn to assimilate to a new culture over and over again yet she never let go of staying true to herself. She always knew, even at a very young age, that she either learns to stand her ground or lose the battle and drown. The headwind made her stronger, she’s a tough woman but she managed to keep her soft side. And this combination makes her so lovable, so irresistible, and charming, and also – especially when she stands, smiling, at the counter of her bar sipping an iced coffee – it makes her the cutest. I could just squeeze her.

Her New York life was quite glamorous. Working as a consultant, being a regular in the city’s spectacular restaurants, she developed an even deeper fascination for food in general but also for the people who create it. She learned about the magic of a place, thriving from the dishes, the guests, the location, the interior, and first and foremost, she learned that you lose everything without keeping quality on a constant high level. When you visit Mr. Susan bar today, you can see that she soaked up every detail during her journey. Susan truly understands what makes or breaks a bar, or a restaurant.

Germany’s culinary traditions left a deep mark in her memory. The food, the rituals, the smells, and taste, she finds home in them and they paved her move to Berlin. During one of her first nights in the city, she sat on a swing over the Spree river sipping an Aperol Spritz on a warm summer’s eve and she knew, this is my home. Catering pop-ups and events quickly opened the door to another new city. Berlin welcomed this vivid woman with open arms, thankful for the excitement she brought to the Berliners’ palates. 

Be it her food or her drinks, there’s always something unique and thrilling in Susan’s compositions. Visually and in taste. Maybe because she learned to go through life with open eyes, she never misses a detail. The first drink I had at her bar was served with a paper straw with pink flamingos on it. The straw – and the flamingos – were upside down. It bugged her so much that she had to flip it. Together with her husband Robbert – the two are one of the most complementary couples I’ve ever met – she created a bar that excites, that is fun, and invites you to have a chat at the bar just like you were at home in your kitchen throwing a house party with only fabulous drinks and people (of course).

The recipe Susan shared with me for the Meet in My Kitchen podcast is her playful version of a Korean inspired Mexican drink: Kimchi Michelada! She makes a popsicle of tomato juice refined with kimchi juice and lime juice, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce then she puts the bright red frozen juices into a glass and pours ice-cold beer over it. Despite the fact that I’m German, I’m not the most passionate about beer, but this drink got me hooked. There’s nothing better to have in your glass on a hot summer’s night! If you don’t have popsicle molds, you can use ice cube molds, that’s totally fine. Susan shows how to make the drink in a tutorial in the Highlights of the podcast’s Instagram Stories, click here and go to the Highlight #5 Mr. Susan.

The podcast episode with Susan Choi is in English. You can listen to the Meet in My Kitchen podcast on all common podcast platforms (click here for the links); there are English and German episodes. You can find all the blog posts about these podcast episodes including my guests’ recipes here on the blog under Meet in Your Kitchen.

Listen to the podcast episode with Susan on:

Spotify / Apple / Deezer / Google / Amazon / Podimo

On Instagram you can follow the podcast @meetinmykitchenpodcast!

Kimchi Michelada

by Susan Choi / Mr. Susan

No popsicle molds? No problem, try using ice trays for ice cubes!

Makes 6-8 popsicles

For the Kimchi Michelada Popsicles

  • 0.5 Liter / 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon of unsalted organic tomato juice
  • 250 ml / 1 cup plus 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 100 ml / 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon kimchi juice*, or to taste, you can buy the kimchi directly from Susan (click here) or at any Asian shop and many organic shops
  • 100 ml / 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 8-10 dashes of Worcestershire sauce (Susan uses L&P)

* Kimchi is a live product, it will continue to ferment over time thus have different flavor profiles so adjust to taste! You’ll need to buy roughly 500g / 17 1/2 ounces of kimchi and then drain it for the right amount of kimchi juice. You only use the liquid for the popsicles, you can use the drained kimchi for other recipes or snacks. The more fermented the kimchi, the juicier it’ll be.

For serving

  • About 2-4 tablespoons lime juice, to brush the outside of the glasses
  • Tajin (chili-lime sea salt), to sprinkle the outside of the glasses
  • Your favorite beer. We suggest a crisp lager. It can also be enjoyed with alcohol free beer!

For the popsicles, mix the ingredients together and pour into your favorite popsicle molds (or ice trays for ice cubes). Freeze for minimum 12 hours. 

For serving, brush some lime juice on the outside of a tall glass (just a wide strip) and sprinkle with chili salt. Place a popsicle in the glass and pour in your favorite beer. Or pour the beer into the glass and lay the popsicle on top of the glass (looks prettier and more dramatic).

Meet In Your Kitchen | Domberger Brot-Werk’s Secret to German Bread

This post is part of my Meet in My Kitchen podcast series:

How did we get to where we are in life and what does food have to do with it.

“Food is kind of everything. It’s a source of conflicts, of love. It connects, it’s sharing, it differentiates. It’s absolutely underrated in Germany.” – Florian Domberger

The first time I visited Florian Domberger’s bakery, Domberger Brot-Werk, in Berlin’s Moabit neighborhood I tried (almost) everything I saw on the wooden shelves: pretzels, croissants, fragrant loaves of crusty German rye and spice bread and traditional buns, such as Vinschgerl, Schrippen, Seelen, and Schusterjungs. All made with sourdough, all made with love. I was hooked. So I sat outside on a bench in front of the bakery in the golden late morning sunlight, all that baked deliciousness spread out in front of me, and every bite reminded me of how bread used to taste in my childhood.

Florian and his team master more than just savory traditional German baking, their sweets are also a generous gift to your palate and hips. His Butterkuchen (a yeasted sheet cake topped with lots of butter and sugar) and his Zimtschnecken (cinnamon rolls) are both the best I ever had in my life. So what is the secret behind this bakery? Florian says it’s just “flour, water, salt, time – and love!”, and I agree, he and his bakers truly understand the core of what their craft is about.

The craft of a baker demands a lot of fascination – and love – for the ingredients, for the flour, the process, the desire to approach perfection and improve each move every day. A baker needs the humble understanding of the importance of time, working and watching your dough slowly and attentively, you can’t rush sourdough bread. And that’s the tricky point where commercial bakeries lost the craft and with this loss they turned the taste of good bread into a faded memory. Commercial yeast and ready-made bread mixes replaced the elaborate simplicity of “flour, water, salt, and time” and paved the way for an industrialization that is conflicting when it comes to food that achieves its taste and quality from a slow process. An undertaking that could only fail and threaten the tradition and variety that once Germany became famous for.

Twenty years ago, driving through my home country, I could stop at almost any bakery in any town, village, and city. Those were still individual bakeries who had their family name written outside on the shop’s sign and inseparably connected to their name was the responsibility, and the pride, to only deliver quality to their customers. And that’s where Florian decided to go back to. He put his name on the sign. After a successful international career in shipping and logistics, after leaving his family’s business and telling his father he’s not going to follow in his footsteps, he learned the craft of the baker with the goal to open his own bakery. Five years ago, his wife, Vanessa, and their two daughters followed their husband and father to Berlin and together they built up one of Berlin’s most acclaimed bakeries.

One of Florian’s most popular breads – and the recipe that he shared with me (see below) – is his Beutebrot. A white sourdough bread made with wheat and a little spelt flour, with a firm crust and an open almost moist crumb (the double-picture at the bottom of this post showing the loaf cut in half is the bread that I baked in my kitchen, which worked out perfectly). If you happen to have an active sourdough starter in your kitchen you can enjoy Florian’s Beutebrot in less than 24 hours and feel the sweet satisfaction of a real bread baker.

The podcast episode with Florian Domberger is in German. You can listen to the Meet in My Kitchen podcast on all common podcast platforms (click here for the links); there are English and German episodes. You can find all the blog posts about these podcast episodes including my guests’ recipes here on the blog under Meet in Your Kitchen.

Listen to the podcast episode with Florian on:

Spotify / Apple / Deezer / Google / Amazon / Podimo

On Instagram you can follow the podcast @meetinmykitchenpodcast!

Beutebrot / Wheat and Spelt Sourdough Bread

by Florian Domberger / Brot-Werk

You will need a cast iron cocotte (Dutch oven) with a lid to bake the bread and a very sharp razor blade (bread lame / scoring knife) to score the loaves before baking – and of course, you will need an active sourdough starter.

Makes 2 loaves of sourdough bread 

  • 900g / 7 cups unbleached wheat flour (type 550)
  • 100g / ¾ cup whole spelt flour
  • 750ml / 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons lukewarm water 
  • 100g / 3 ½ ounces active sourdough starter *
  • 25g / 5 teaspoons fine sea salt

* Your sourdough starter is active when you refresh it and it doubles its volume within roughly 4-5 hours. For this recipe, use the refreshed sourdough starter as soon as it has risen to its peak, before deflating. To test the activity of your starter, you can add a spoonful of it to a glass of water: it should float, it should not sink, then it’s ready to be added to the dough. On my Instagram you see how I grew a sourdough starter from scratch, it’s in the Highlight Story ‘Sourdough’, click here.

This is my bread baking schedule: On Day 1, I refresh my sourdough starter in the late morning/ around noon, I start mixing the dough at around 5 pm then, after folding and shaping the dough, I leave it in the fridge overnight and remove it from the fridge the next day at around 8:30am. On Day 2 at around 10am, I preheat the oven and bake one loaf after the other in a round cast iron cocotte (Dutch oven) with a lid. At the bakery, Florian shapes the loaves on Day 2, however I find that my schedule works easier for a home baker.

Day 1

In a medium bowl, combine the wheat flour and the spelt flour. In a large bowl, whisk together the water and sourdough starter. Add the flour mixture and, using your hands, mix for about 3 minutes until well combined; it will be a little sticky. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rest at room temperature for about 40 minutes.

Sprinkle the salt on top of the dough and, using your fingers, push and rub the salt into the dough. Fold the dough on top of itself a few times then cover with a kitchen towel and let it rest at room temperature (about 21°C / 70°F in my kitchen) for 30 minutes.

Now the bulk fermentation starts, which will take about 3-4 hours: Every 30 minutes, wet your hands with a little water and , grabbing underneath the dough on one side, lift the dough and fold it on top of itself then turn the bowl by 90° and repeat folding the dough the same way on top of itself; turn the bowl by 90° and repeat folding the dough two more times so that the dough has been folded on top of itself from all 4 sides. Cover the bowl, let the dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes then repeat folding the dough the same way (each time from all 4 sides) every 30 minutes. After 3-4 hours the dough will feel softer and smoother, more cohesive and less stretchy, and it will have risen by roughly 30%. This process will fasten when the room temperature is higher and take longer when the room is colder.

After the bulk fermentation, gently pour or scrape the dough out of the bowl and onto a work surface, dust the dough’s top with a little flour then flip the dough and gently cut the dough into 2 pieces. Take one piece of dough, fold it onto itself so that the top and the bottom surface is dusted with flour. Using a bench knife or your hands, gently pull and turn the dough, giving it a round shape and building surface tension (you can find tutorials about shaping sourdough loaves online). The top should be round, smooth, and very taut. Shape the second piece of dough the same way then let both pieces rest for about 10 minutes.

Line 2 bread baskets or bowls (about 20cm / 8″ diameter) with kitchen towels and dust the towels with flour. For the final shaping, dust one piece of dough with a little flour and, using a bench knife, flip the dough. Gently stretch and pull the side of the dough that’s lying closest to you a little up and fold it over the middle of the dough. Pull the right side of the dough up and fold it to the left generously over the middle of the dough then pull the left side up and fold it to the right generously over the middle of the dough. Now pull the side furthest away from you up and fold the dough onto itself towards you then lay your hands, shaped like a dome, on top of the dough and pull and rotate the dough, while the seams stay at the bottom, towards you. This builds surface tension and creates a taut, round top. Using a bench knife, lift the dough then transfer and flip it into the prepared basket; the seam should be at the top and the round surface at the bottom. Repeat the same way with the second piece of dough. Wrap both baskets with the loaves in large freezer or rubbish bags and transfer to the refrigerator. Leave the dough to rise in the fridge overnight (for about 11-12 hours).

Day 2

After 11-12 hours, remove both baskets from the fridge, leaving them in the bags at room temperature. After 2 hours, place a cocotte (Dutch oven) closed with its lid on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat the oven to the highest setting (at least 250°C / 475°F) for about 30 minutes. The cocotte should be very hot. Remove one basket from the bag. Line a large wooden board with parchment paper, place it on top of the basket, and flip the basket so that the loaf lies on the parchment paper. Quickly score the top of the loaf with the razor blade (you can find tutorials about scoring sourdough loaves and different scoring patterns online) then immediately, and very carefully (!), remove the hot cocotte from the oven, placing it onto a trivet. Be cautious and mind that the cocotte is very hot and can cause severe injuries! Immediately remove the lid from the cocotte then transfer the loaf (on the parchment paper) to the hot cocotte and quickly but carefully place the loaf (on the parchment paper) in the cocotte. Close with the lid, place the cocotte on the rack in the oven then reduce the heat to 230°C / 450°F and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and bake open for another 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Transfer the bread to a cooling rack. Let the bread cool for at least 20-30 minutes before you cut it.

To bake the second loaf, raise the oven temperature to the highest setting again (at least 250°C / 475°F), place the cocotte closed with its lid in the oven, and heat for 10-15 minutes. Then repeat the steps described above but mind to reduce the heat to 230°C / 450°F when you transfer the scored second loaf into the oven (a step I often forget).

The bread tastes best in the first 3 days. It also freezes well, you just defrost the frozen loaf, sprinkle the defrosted (or partly defrosted) loaf generously with water then bake it at 200°C / 400°F for about 10-20 minutes.

Meet In Your Kitchen | Nobelhart & Schmutzig

This post is part of my Meet in My Kitchen podcast series:

How did we get to where we are in life and what does food have to do with it.

“Nature is much larger than our actual doings as humans because she can create so much more variety and so much more depth in taste.” – Billy Wagner / Nobelhart & Schmutzig

Nobelhart & Schmutzig seduces the hungry mind with a vibrant cosmos that is hard to resist. The restaurant is not just about food, there is a rebellious, a critical attitude behind it that likes to challenge the comfortable eater. Restaurateur and sommelier Billy Wagner and chef Micha Schäfer create dishes with verve, heart, and precision. They skillfully caress their guests’ tastebuds yet a visit at their Berlin restaurant goes beyond an exciting flavor experience. Billy and Micha dare to question and shake up established structures, to reshape and experiment with all the facets that a visit to a restaurant is about.

When you ring the restaurant’s door bell, when you’re seated at the c-shaped counter – the ‘kitchen table’ framing the open kitchen -, when Micha and his team cook and serve their refined compositions right in front of you, and when Billy, the conductor, takes care that you’ll never forget this evening, then you’re part of an almost orchestral experience that includes all your senses and excludes the outer world for a little while. There’s the excitement of the unexpected but there’s also the comfort of an ambience that allows you to be fully yourself. Isn’t that what a visit to a restaurant should be about?

Rewarded with a Michelin Star only nine months after the opening and with 16 points by Guide Gault Millau 2021, ranked at No. 57 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list (Update October 2021: now they are No. 45), Nobelhart & Schmutzig quickly found its fame in the Berlin and in the international restaurant scene. As good as the praise may feel, the ‘old couple’ Billy and Micha – that’s how it feels when you meet them – entered the culinary scene with more profound intentions.

Billy comes from a family of restaurateurs; named Sommelier of the Year several times, gaining experience at the German 2-Star Michelin restaurant Zur Traube amongst others, he achieved a deep understanding of what a satisfying visit to a restaurant should truly be about. Dropping out of the 2-Star Michelin restaurant Villa Merton in Frankfurt at the innocent age of 27 and taking over the responsibility for the culinary creations in Billy’s endeavor right from the start in 2015, Micha also had a very clear vision of the food that inspires him as a chef.

Both men envisioned a menu that pulls the single ingredient right into the spotlight, and with that also the farmers, the butchers, and bakers that are responsible for each ingredient. Focussing, reducing, leaving out the unnecessary, that’s where they found their mantra and the clever and tasty answer to a changing way of eating and indulging. It’s about pure taste, thriving and prospering from seasonal, regional, and responsibly handled resources. And above all, it’s about having a good time and forgetting about obsolete conventions. Nobelhart & Schmutzig is the seductive synergy of two men, two opposite poles, one calm the other impulsive, which Billy modestly describes with the words: “Micha takes care that our guests enjoy the food and I take care that the guests are there.” Below you can find the recipe for Micha Schäfer’s Mashed Potatoes, Onions, Unripe Apples and Savory that he cooked for me at the restaurant.

The Nobelhart & Schmutzig podcast episode is in German. You can listen to the Meet in My Kitchen podcast on all common podcast platforms (click here for the links); there are English and German episodes. You can find all the blog posts about these podcast episodes including my guests’ recipes here on the blog under Meet in Your Kitchen.

Listen to the podcast episode with Billy and Micha on:

Spotify / Apple / DeezerGoogle / Amazon / Podimo

On Instagram you can follow the podcast @meetinmykitchenpodcast!

Mashed Potatoes, Onions, Unripe Apples and Savory

by Micha Schäfer / Nobelhart & Schmutzig

“Our recipes strongly depend on the quality of the ingredients – this counts for each ingredient and that makes the difference. The more regional the ingredients that you buy yourself to prepare this recipe the bigger the possible differences to the ingredients that we held in our hands when we created this recipe and that’s great, that’s really good! This offers the possibility to experience cooking in a new way and to learn to always base a dish on the produce, that’s your starting point, just as we do at Nobelhart & Schmutzig. So be brave and adapt this recipe to your own local conditions!“ – Micha Schäfer

Serves 2

For the onions

  • 150g / 5 1/4 ounces onions
  • 80g / 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • Fine sea salt

For the mashed potatoes

  • 300g / 10 1/2 ounces waxy potatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked butter (you can buy smoked butter online, in the Nobelhart & Schmutzig shop, or replace it with regular butter but then, unfortunately, you’ll miss out on the smokey touch)
  • 60g / 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 90ml / 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon of the water used to cook the potatoes
  • About 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Fine sea salt

For the apples

  • 1 large or 2 small firm sour baking apples or unripe apples
  • unsalted butter, to cook the apples
  • 1 medium sprig savory

For the onions, peel the onions and dice them very finely. Heat the butter in a small pot over medium heat, add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook slowly, stirring once in a while, over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes or until very soft and pale-golden; they shouldn’t be brown.

For the mashed potatoes, peel the potatoes then cut them into halves or quarters and boil them in salted water for about 20-25 minutes or until soft; mind to keep the water used to cook the potatoes when they are done and set it aside. In a medium pot, mash the potatoes until very fine; you can also use a very fine sieve. Add the smoked butter and the butter and, using a wooden spoon or a whisk, beat / whisk until combined. Gradually add 75ml / 1/3 cup of the potato cooking water, whisking constantly, adding more of the liquid until the mashed potatoes reach the desired creamy texture. Season to taste with vinegar and salt, cover with a lid, and set aside.

Core the apples (don’t peel them) then cut small apples into quarters and large apples into 8 wedges. Heat a teaspoon of butter in a small, heavy pan over high heat (the pan should be very hot). Quickly sear the apple wedges in the hot pan on both sides until golden brown; they should stay firm.

Arrange a spoonful of the onions and a spoonful of the mashed potatoes on 2 plates then arrange the apples on top of the onions. Sprinkle with savory and serve immediately.

Guten Appetit!

Meet In Your Kitchen | Berlin’s Best Bagel Baker

This post is part of my new Meet in My Kitchen podcast series:

How did we get to where we are in life and what does food have to do with it.

For months, a friend who knows how much I love to talk, question, and discuss has been bugging me to start a podcast. So thanks to my friend Anne‘s persistence, here’s my new baby: the Meet in My Kitchen podcast!

For this new series, I invite people to my tiny Berlin kitchen whose journey in life I find inspiring, to find out how they got to where they are in life, to learn about the struggles they had to overcome, how the highs and lows shaped them – and what food has to do with it. My guests are chefs and home cooks, farmers, bakers, and artists, they are all curious adventurers who share a deep zest for food and life. I also visit each guest in her or his kitchen, or restaurant, or bakery, where they share a recipe with me, which you can find in my blog’s Meet in Your Kitchen series.

You can listen to the Meet in My Kitchen podcast on all common podcast platforms (click here for the links), there will be English and German episodes.

“Food is making other people love me, it’s very manipulative. That’s how I use food!” – Laurel Kratochvila / Fine Bagels

Many years ago, I discovered a small book shop in my Berlin neighborhood, specializing in English literature. It was a quiet, dark space with wooden floors and vintage furniture, and a little counter filled with the loveliest loaf cakes. I came back almost every week, mainly for the sweets, and soon found out that the shop was run by an American/ Czech couple: Laurel from Boston, responsible for baking, and her husband Roman Kratochvila from Prague, taking care of the books.

They left my neighborhood too soon, creating a void that could never be filled, but they re-opened a much brighter and bigger spot just as charming. This became the famous Shakespeare and Sons / Fine Bagels on Berlin’s lively Warschauer Strasse, praised and loved for Jewish baking classics – and good books. Laurel’s bagels, babka/ challah knots, and rugelach are known across town and get me to hop on my bicycle regularly to enjoy her sweet and savory treats.

I’m intrigued by Laurel’s passion and dedication, and her irresistible smile that wipes away all sorrows. She started as a home baker and then deepened her knowledge and education in French bakeries, but she still has this relaxed aura of ‘a friend who’s just baking in her kitchen.’ Laurel treats her dough like a baby, she knows it well, watches and works it precisely, until it unfolds its true beauty.

For this podcast episode, Laurel shared her recipe for Brick Lane bagels with me (named after London’s famous Brick Lane Beigel bakery). She calls it a mix of a New York and a Montreal bagel. Quick to prepare, a little chewy, and perfect for a luscious sandwich filled with salt beef, mustard, and gherkins, you can now satisfy your bagel cravings in your own kitchen any time.

The podcast episode with Laurel Kratochvila is in English. You can listen to the Meet in My Kitchen podcast on all common podcast platforms (click here for the links); there are English and German episodes. You can find all the blog posts about my podcast episodes including my guests’ recipes here on the blog under Meet in Your Kitchen.

Listen to the podcast episode with Laurel on:

Spotify / Apple / Deezer/ Podimo

On Instagram you can follow the podcast @meetinmykitchenpodcast!

Laurel’s Brick Lane Bagels

Makes 12 bagels

  • 1 kg / 7 2/3 cups bread flour or all purpose flour (type 550 in Germany, T55 in France)
  • 50 g / 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 envelope (7 g / 1/4 ounce) fast-acting yeast or 18 g / 2/3 ounce fresh yeast 
  • 10 g / 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 420 ml  / 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 large egg
  • 15 ml / 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • sugar for boiling the bagels
  • sesame and / or poppy seeds for the topping

For the sandwich

  • salt beef, very thinly sliced
  • mustard
  • gherkins, sliced

Preheat the oven to 230°C / 450°F (or the highest temperature setting of your oven). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt then, in a medium bowl, whisk together the water, egg, and vegetable oil, and add to the flour mixture. Mix into a shaggy mass by hand or with a wooden spoon. Then knead by hand for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth. Avoid adding more flour as you knead it. Form the dough into a ball and set into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and let rise for 30 minutes in a warm environment. Meanwhile, set a large pot of water on the stove to boil.

Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll them into tight balls, cover with plastic wrap. After ten minutes, press a hole through the middle of each ball of dough with your thumb or elbow (see pictures below). Stretch out the bagel a bit and place on a lightly floured work surface.

Add a couple spoonfuls of sugar to the boiling water. In batches (2-3 bagels at a time), boil the bagels for 30 seconds to 1 minute, flipping them once. Don’t overdo it! Using a slotted spoon or spatula, remove the bagels from the water and transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Top with seeds of your choice. Bake the bagels for about 10 minutes or until golden.

To make the sandwich, cut a bagel in half, stuff it generously with thinly sliced salt beef, drizzle with mustard, top it off with a few slices of gherkins, and close the bagel with its top.

Enjoy!

Laurel Kratochvila’s Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

I don’t even remember how it started. It must have been a few years ago when my man and I welcomed a new tradition: coffee dates. Whenever we find time to take an hour off work, we squeeze in a dark Italian espresso or a creamy cappuccino, happily enjoyed in one of the countless cafés in our area. And on Saturdays – overly excited by the luxury of having plenty of free time – we often stretch it into a lunch-teatime-aperitif date. Just the two of us, chatting about whatever’s on our mind, no plans or duties, just lingering until we decide to move on.

On one of these dates, we went to the new Shakespeare and Sons / Fine Bagels. The book shop and bakery used to be close to where we live, but the two owners, Roman and Laurel, had to transfer their cafe and literature business to a new location. That was the first time I tried Laurel’s absolutely outstanding chocolate rugelach, which blew my mind and made me want (or rather have to) meet the woman behind this treat.

When we met, our chat led to a Meet In Your Kitchen feature (including my beloved rugelach recipe), but most importantly, I found a woman who’s a great inspiration. Laurel loves food, she’s obsessed with baking, she’s gifted with an unbelievable amount of energy, and when you talk to her, you can see her beautiful soul. She’s honest, critical, and crazy enough to overcome her fears and jump into the next adventure. Nosh Berlin is her new baby, a Jewish food week, starting March 17th. It’ll be a week packed with talks, feasts, and Jewish food. I already booked my tickets for two events, Molly Yeh is coming on the 22nd and I didn’t dare to miss The Gefilte Ball on Thursday. You can find the program of all the events below or on the Nosh Berlin website.

When I met Laurel for a coffee a couple weeks ago to hear everything about her exciting events, I nibbled on my obligatory rugelach and she chose a new creation, her current obsession: a marzipan-ribboned challah knot. She looked so happy whenever she took a bite of her yeast bun that I thought, I need this recipe. Laurel is a nice person who loves to share, I didn’t even need to beg her. And here it is, fluffy yeast buns, not too sweet, generously filled with marzipan, and so good, that I ate five of them in a day and a half. Laurel only uses egg yolks, melted butter, and water in this recipe. She uses bread flour, however I replaced it with white spelt flour that comes to use in all of my baking recipes. I had to add a little more flour and I think that a bit more wouldn’t have harmed the texture, but helped the knots to keep their shape a bit better and avoided cracks on the surface. As you can see in the pictures, my knots turned into roundish buns in the oven. I didn’t mind, challah knot or bun, I love Laurel’s latest creation.

Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

Nosh Food Festival

– Friday, March 17th – Kiddush: North African Jewish dinner by Yuval Belhans and Mayaan Meir

– Sunday, March 19th – The Nosh Market at Markthalle Neun
Oma and Bella: Movie and a Nosh at Babylon Berlin

– Monday, March 20th – The JCC Krakow presents Jewish Polish Food History. Talk and a tasting

– Tuesday, March 21st – What Jew Wanna Eat? Amy Kritzer, visiting chef from Austin, Texas, presents creative Passover cooking. 

– Wednesday, March 22nd – Molly Yeh and Luisa Weiss: Cookbooks, Blogs, and Jewish Baking

– Thursday, March 23rd – Nosh Berlin and Shtetl Neukölln present The Gefilte Ball. Talk and demo with Jeffrey Yoskowitz of The Gefilte Manifesto followed by a klezmer ball.

– Friday, March 24th: Night of Shabbat Supper Clubs

There will also be a couple talks on various Jewish food topics at the Fraenkelufer Synagogue and a showing of Cafe Nagler with a presentation on pre-war Jewish cafe and restaurant life. Additionally, there are Jewish cookery classes all week at Goldhahn and Sampson in Charlottenburg.

Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

 

Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

 

If you decide to double the recipe, use only 9 egg yolks, which is Laurel’s original recipe.

Makes 7 challah knots

organic egg yolks 5, plus 1 egg white, beaten, for the glaze
butter, melted and cooled, 40g / 3 tablespoons
water 175ml /3/4 cup
bread flour (or white spelt or unbleached wheat flour),  410-480g (3 cups plus 2 tablespoons – 3 2/3 cups), plus more if the dough is too sticky
granulated sugar 100g / 1/2 cup
fast-acting yeast 1 1/4 teaspoons
fine sea salt 1 teaspoon
marzipan, cut into 7 pieces, 150g / 5 ounces
poppy seeds 1 tablespoon, for the topping

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and butter. Add water and whisk until well combined.

In the large bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour (410g / 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons), sugar, yeast, and salt. Add the liquid mixture and, using the paddle attachment, mix for about 1 minute until combined. Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook and knead for about 10 minutes. I use setting ‘4’ on my KitchenAid. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky, but mind that it should stay soft. If you prepare the dough by hand, keep kneading an extra few minutes. Transfer to a clean, oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place, or preferably in a 35°C / 100°F warm oven (conventional setting), for about 60-70 minutes or until spongy. When you poke the dough, the indentation of your finger shouldn’t spring back.

Punch the dough down and then turn out onto a floured work surface. Give it a quick knead to form it back into a ball and then cut 7 equal pieces. Cover with a tea towel and let rest for about 15 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Once rested, roll the dough into logs (about 25cm / 10″ long) and then gently press flat. Lay a strip of marzipan lengthwise down the middle of the flattened log (using my hands, I first rolled each piece of marzipan into a long log) and then fold the log lengthwise in half, so you have a marzipan-filled log (see first picture). To fold the log into a knot, make an overlapping circle and then wrap the upper end under and then up through the middle (see first picture).

Preheat the oven to 175°C / 350°F (convection setting).

Once all 7 knots are folded, transfer to the lined baking sheet and brush with the beaten egg white. Laurel puts a little simple syrup in the egg glaze to add some extra sweetness, I left mine plain. Let them rise for about 30 minutes or until puffy. Glaze the challah knots with egg whash a second time then sprinkle with poppy seeds.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the challah knots are golden brown and shiny.

Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

 

Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

 

Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

 

Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

 

Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

 

Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots