Tag: Grill Royal

Meet In Your Kitchen | Marta Greber’s Chocolate Chickpea Cookies for Breakfast

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 comfort. Food makes me happy.” – Marta Greber

Marta is an adventurer – driven by curiosity and trust. She explored New Zealand in a camper van with her 2-year old daughter and even when the van broke in the middle of nowhere she felt they were safe. She travelled around South America on her own, taking precautions and cutting her hair short as matches and adorning her face with not the cutest glasses to cause anything but attraction. Marta avoids risks but she doesn’t miss a chance when she sees it. Australia, South East Asia, Europe, there isn’t really a dirt road she hasn’t been on yet.

When it comes to very spontaneous, very intuitive decisions that always lead to a good ending, no one beats the Grebers: be it on her own or together with her husband, Tomasz, and their daughter, Mia, living in their camper van called Thelma – Marta says she’s Louise but hopes for a better ending than in the movie; be it backpacking, or moving to a new country for good.

I first heard of Marta when I started my own blog and found endless inspiration in hers, on What Should I Eat for Breakfast Today?. Her photography drew me into her digital wonderland of breakfasts and traveling. Her pictures are full of joy, depth, and color. Marta has a great talent, she can tell a story in a single picture. Once, many years ago, she shared a picture of a dish that was shoot on an old Yves Klein-blue door. The contrast of the blue surface and the spring green food made the dish almost pop out of the screen. Marta is the reason why both of my books have blue covers. 

Always drawn to breakfasts – years ago she told me it’s the only time of the day that you can really plan – it was in Australia when she felt overwhelmed by the variety and excitement that this meal of the day can bring to your life and table. Banana bread and pancakes, Dutch baby and chunky cookies, Finish pannukakku, shakshuka, Portuguese pastel de nata – her insatiable Wanderlust and appetite became the endless source of inspiration for her food blog, one of the most popular blogs in the last 10 years.

It’s about living in a van. Imagine when it’s raining, you sit in your apartment, you have this awesome window, you look through the window, you look at people running on the street and hurry somewhere and I am always in a different place. So when it’s raining I’m looking, for instance, at the sea, and at the storm over the sea. There’s the wind, the beach is empty, a bird is fighting with the wind. For me it’s amazing and whenever things like this happen, it’s like each second day, I tell Tomasz: This is the reason why we’re here!”Marta Greber

Her life wasn’t meant to be so adventures from the beginning. Marta grew up in Poland, still experiencing the communist system in her childhood years. She studied law, married early, and for a long time she didn’t even question that she would live a settled life in Poland. However, her first long trips to the US, staying in Las Vegas as part of a work and travel program for Polish students – there couldn’t have been a bigger contrast between her country’s communist past and this flashing capital of capitalism – living in and exploring Australia together with her husband followed by various adventures in South East Asia, they all changed her. 

So as she went back to Poland, reflecting about where she sees herself at that point in her life, after all those impressions and experiences, she decided to take the time to figure exactly that out. She didn’t want to be a lawyer but she had no idea what the next steps should be, she couldn’t see her future yet as a successful blogger, photographer, and journalist but she grabbed the chance to find that out.

When you hear her talk about her beloved mornings when the family is on the road, stepping out of her camper van welcomed by silence and the sun rising over a lonely beach, or misty hilltops, her cup of coffee in one hand, she’s the happiest person in the world. And I totally understand why. To see someone being so brave to actually make all those radical changes in her life and to do what many just talk about, to see the peace she found, this is very touching. There’s so much I learn from this woman and I’m sure this will never change.

Recently Marta had to change her diet and she reduced her consumption of flour but she didn’t want to spoil the fun so she got experimental. For the Meet in My Kitchen podcast, she shared a flourless cookie recipe with me, made of chickpeas, peanut butter, bittersweet chocolate, and a squeeze of lemon. The cookies taste so good and have such a moist texture that we emptied the tray before the cookies had a chance to cool. The recipe is adapted from one of Marta’s blogger friends, Texanerin

Giving up their apartment in Berlin – actually while we recorded the podcast – and now moving to Lisbon, the Grebers are ready for a new chapter in their life. This is the reason why we shot the recipe in my kitchen and not in Marta’s. Thank you, Mia, for being an awesome kitchen assistant, reliable cookie tester, and for patiently waiting behind the closed kitchen door until Marta and I finished the podcast recording before we could start baking together.

The podcast episode with Marta Greber 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!

Chocolate Chickpea Cookies

by Marta Greber

Makes about 22 small cookies

  • 240g / 1 1/3 cup drained and rinsed canned chickpeas
  • 175g / 2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, at room temperature
  • 60ml / 1/4 cup agave syrup, or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • A squeeze of lemon
  • 100g / 3,5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 175°C / 350°F (preferably convection setting) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the chickpeas, peanut butter, agave syrup, baking powder, salt, and lemon juice and, using a food processor or blender stick, briefly puree but keep the mixture a little chunky. Using a large spoon, fold in the chocolate.

Shovel a spoonful of dough into your hand, form into a ball, and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Slightly flatten the dough with a teaspoon. Repeat to make around 21 more cookies, leaving a little space between them.

Bake for around 10 minutes or until golden; they will still be very soft and moist in the center. Let them cool for at least 10 minutes before you transfer them to a cooling rack; they will stay quite soft. Enjoy!

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 Susan 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!