Tag: meet in my kitchen

Meet In Your Kitchen | Erik Spiekermann’s Lemony Mushroom Risotto

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.

“I’m incredibly chaotic and I’m incredibly precise. When I do work like typesetting and stuff, I’m 100% precise. I do the shittiest detail that nobody would ever know, but I’m also incredibly chaotic in my approach.” – Erik Spiekermann

Erik Spiekermann‘s greatest gift is that he never stopped thinking like a child. He’s still driven by the same stubborn persistence, by a tireless curiosity, and the imperturbable will to find out what lies underneath the surface. The acclaimed designer and typographer, responsible for the corporate looks of brands like Audi, Bosch, and Deutsche Bahn, creator of Meta – the Helvetica of the 90s – and the man who decided that the BVG, Berlin’s public transportation system, needs to be yellow, is basically still a child, just in the body of a man.

“My curiosity is my biggest feature. I’ve always been curious, so much so that I have been careless. I mean I’ve done things like hitchhike to fucking Norway at 9, which is stupid, it’s the dumbest thing to do if I look back now but I was curious and I was innocent, and innocent and curious are the same. You’re innocent about something so you wanna find out how it works. And I’m still curious and I will try everything because it’s interesting and I think curiosity is one of the greatest human features otherwise we wouldn’t have invented the wheel nor the fire.” – Erik Spiekermann

When Erik was nine years old he hitchhiked to Norway on his own. He was part of a Boy Scouts group, his older travel companion didn’t show up so he decided to go up north on his own. I asked what his mother said, and Erik’s brief answer was “She didn’t know, only when I came back weeks later, rather tanned.”

As a teenage boy, he was already fascinated by press printing. He got his first printing machine from his father, a mechanic who Erik thinks passed his strong passion for heavy machinery and their mysteries on to him. Whenever he got the chance, he sneaked into a friend’s printing firm at night, trying to figure out how all of this works. Setting type and ruining one plate after the other until he internalized the concept – letting any proof of his failed attempts vanish by dawn – but when he finally filled the white pages with his own hands and ideas he was hooked.

Post-war Germany wasn’t an easy playing field for a pubescent boy and young man, chances had to be made by yourself and Erik created plenty of them. First in Berlin, then he moved to London in the 60s with his young family, always managing to convince the people around him that he has the ideas that they need.

“We need to make things, we need to touch things with our hands, otherwise we’re gonna become very funny sort of reptiles or robots.” – Erik Spiekermann

It only takes a few seconds to understand how Erik always manages to get people’s full attention – and their trust. He is very charming but he is also a road roller. For the podcast recording at my place, he ran up the stairs with his racing bicycle on his shoulder (mind he’s born 1947), he wasn’t out of breath at all but ready to dive into hours of talking about design, life, and food. Erik used to often bake with his mother, never measuring anything, but sensitively adjusting texture, taste, and smell by feeling. Even then he didn’t need anyone to tell him what to do, just a mother who taught him to refine his senses and listen to them. He is still very protective of his ideas and visions, fighting for them if need be, summed up in one of his many popular quotes: “Don’t work for assholes. Don’t work with assholes.

After years of designing and teaching, Erik decided to go back to his roots. All his printing equipment burnt in a severe fire in London in the 70s. A painful chapter that he never felt he had closed, a story he still wanted to continue writing, so he founded p98a a few years ago. It’s a Berlin based non-profit experimental letterpress workshop stuffed with old equipment dedicated to letters, printing, and papers. Together with a group of designers, he passes his knowledge and skills on to the next generation and enjoys the play of old traditional analogue equipment and new digital techno­logies. You can order books, or posters and postcards with Erik’s quotes and wisdoms, and join workshops with the master himself.

Although Erik would have loved to share his no-recipe-cantuccini recipe with me, I was worried that no one would be in the mood for cookies in January so instead, Erik and his wife, Susanna, shared the recipe for their delicious Lemony Mushroom Risotto with me.

The podcast episode with Erik Spiekermann 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 Erik on:

Spotify / Apple / Deezer / Google / Amazon / Podimo

On Instagram you can follow the podcast @meetinmykitchenpodcast!

Mushroom Risotto with Lemon and Thyme

by Susanna and Erik

Serves 4 to 6

For the risotto

  • Fine sea salt
  • Olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 420g / 2 cups Carnaroli rice, or Arborio rice
  • 240ml / 1 cup dry white wine
  • 70g / 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 60g / 2 ounces Parmesan, finely grated, plus 30g / 1 ounce for serving
  • 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste

For the mushrooms

  • 450g / 1 pound cremini or white mushrooms, trimmed, torn into bite-size pieces
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 30g / 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 medium sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 small garlic cloves, crushed (optional, Susanna loves it, Erik doesn’t)

For the risotto, bring 2.5 liters / 10 1/2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to a boil in a medium saucepan then remove the pan from the heat, cover, and keep warm.

In a large pan, heat a generous splash of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring constantly, for about 10 minutes or until golden and soft. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the wine and let it simmer for a few minutes then add a ladle of the hot salted water, the rice should be covered. Let it simmer very gently and, as soon as the liquid is almost fully absorbed, add more of the salted water. Keep adding a little water at a time, stirring gently once in a while. When the rice is al dente and the liquid is more or less absorbed, you might not need all the salted water, take the pan off the heat, and stir in the butter and Parmesan. Add more of the salted water if the texture isn’t creamy (not soupy!) and season to taste with additional salt if necessary. Gently stir in the lemon juice, adding more juice to taste, then cover the pan and set aside.

For the mushrooms, heat a generous splash of olive oil over medium-high heat, briefly cook the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes or until browned and still firm (not mushy!). Season to taste with salt and pepper, add the butter, 6 sprigs of thyme (keeping 2 sprigs for serving), and the garlic then reduce the heat to low and cook for a few minutes until the mushrooms are al dente but not soft.

Divide the risotto and mushrooms among bowls, sprinkle with a little Parmesan, thyme leaves, and ground pepper, and enjoy immediately.

Meet In Your Kitchen | Alfredo Sironi’s Pizza with Cima di Rapa and Salsiccia

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 means a lot, not everything, but a lot. I enjoy cooking more than eating.” – Alfredo Sironi

There are two things Alfredo Sironi does all the time: chatting and eating while constantly moving around. When I sat with him outside his Sironi La Pizza restaurant in Berlin’s Goltz Kiez, an endless flow of children, neighbors, staff, and guests stopped by to talk to the baker, always having his full attention. When we were at his Sironi il Pane di Milano bakery, at Kreuzberg’s Markthalle Neun, he grabbed the pepper grinder from one of the stalls next to him, exchanging it for a piece of pizza and a quick chat with the chef. He nibbles bites of warm salsiccia from a tray while passing by and allows himself a couple minutes to indulge in the pizza bianca that we just baked together, but he won’t sit still. Only quick moments of pleasure, before the man moves on to the next venture.

Alfredo says he’s a better cook than eater. He blames his childhood. When you basically grow up right in a family restaurant you’re always on the run, always looking out for problems that need to be solved and people who need to be taken care of. You have a quick nibble in between chats but you barely sit down to eat. It runs through his family, he says.

“Everything we describe as tradition is fake. There weren’t potatoes in Germany, there weren’t tomatoes in Italy. Noodles, pasta come from China. It’s a cultural process, every day rewritten over and over again. – Alfredo Sironi

Growing up on a farm in Lombardy – between Milan and Como, close to northern Italy’s buzzing industrial center yet at the same time, you’re surrounded by lush green fields, paddocks, and horses – his life was about his parent’s restaurant, his family and friends, and the restaurant’s regular guests. Women always played an important role in his world. Although his father started the business, and he’s also the most passionate cook in the family, it was Alfredo’s mother who kept the motor running smoothly. Due to the region’s economic success, the women in northern Italy already ran thriving businesses in the 50s. The cliché of the mother, cooking and staying at home in the kitchen, wasn’t Alfredo’s reality.

The Sironi family comes from Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto, and Emilia-Romagna so the family’s home cooking mirrors the best of what the four regions bring to the table. Bread and pasta is a staple, always homemade and part of every day’s lunch and dinner. Everyone knows how to make it, it’s in their blood. And exactly this would become one of Alfredo’s greatest assets.

“You can’t prepare yourself for your failure but you have to be prepared for your success. When you start a business, you only focus on avoiding that it crashes. You hope that customers will come, that you can pay your bills, and that it will all work out. But in reality, everything can be totally different, that you are successful. And then the bakery was too small, I hadn’t considered this option in the beginning.” – Alfredo Sironi

Until Alfredo moved to Berlin at the age of thirty, he never questioned his cosmos circling around the food and the people that were simply there all his life. It could have been so easy for him to just stay there, to take over the family business at one point, to live this beautiful life in this beautiful place with all the people he loves – but he was hungry for something else. So when Alfredo came up north to move to Germany’s capital, he used his memories of the people and the food in Italy, the memories of his daily life, to found his own bakery. Although he studied history in Milan and already saw himself following an academic career, things changed.

In 2010, Berlin’s food scene was buzzing and hungry for the new. Carbs are Alfredo’s passion. Every day, bread was freshly baked and pasta freshly rolled at his family’s restaurant and he helped out whenever a hand was needed. For him, good bread isn’t science, it’s knowledge and experience. He knew Berlin didn’t have anything like the Milan-style bread he grew up with and felt the city would love it yet he was also aware of the risks.

In the end, there was nothing to worry about. It only took a few months for the Berliners to fall in love with the baker and his goods. Right from the start, you could always find Signor Sironi on the annual Berlin’s Best Bread lists. His sourdough loaves are praised, his sheet-pan pizza is the reason for ongoing pilgrimages of the carb loving crowds to his bakery in Kreuzberg and to his new pizzeria where the pizza is round. Alfredo Sironi knows his dough, maybe it’s as simple as that.

Alfredo shared the recipe for his Pizza Bianca with Cima di Rapa and Salsiccia with me. It’s a recipe that I love so much that when I first ate it a few years ago, I came up with my own take on it for the blog. It proves that reducing the toppings for pizza often leads to the best results.

The podcast episode with Alfredo Sironi 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 Alfredo on:

Spotify / Apple / Deezer / Google / Amazon / Podimo

On Instagram you can follow the podcast @meetinmykitchenpodcast!

Pizza Bianca with Cima di Rapa and Salsiccia

by Alfredo Sironi

Makes 2 to 3 pizza sheets (using 30 x 40cm / 12 x 16“ baking sheets; if you make 3 sheets the pizza base will be thinner and crunchier, 2 sheets will lead to a thicker, softer base)

For the dough

  • 700ml / 3 cups water, lukewarm, plus more as needed
  • 10g / 1/3 ounce fresh yeast, crumbled
  • 1kg / 7 2/3 cups high gluten wheat flour (German flour type 1050)
  • 20g / 1 tablespoon barley malt syrup (or rice syrup, or molasses)
  • 20g / 4 teaspoons fine sea salt

For the topping

  • 4 – 6 salsiccie (or any other coarse sausage), skin removed, sausage torn into bite size pieces
  • 800g – 1.2kg / 1 3/4 pounds – 2 2/3 pounds cime di rapa, blanched or sautéed (you can also use drained jarred cime di rapa or replace it with broccoli)
  • 500 – 750g / 1 – 1 2/3 pounds drained mozzarella, cut into french fries-shapes
  • Olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

In the large bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the hook attachment, whisk together the water and yeast and let it sit for a minute. Add the flour, syrup, and salt and knead well for about 5 minutes or until smooth; add more water if the dough is too firm. Cover the bowl and let the dough sit for 10 minutes (the ideal ambient temperature is 26-30°C / 80-86°F; you can use the oven or place the bowl on a heater).

After 10 minutes, leaving the dough in the bowl, grab the dough from underneath and fold it on top of itself then turn the bowl by 90° and repeat folding and turning the bowl for 4-5 times. Let the dough sit for 15 minutes then repeat the same procedure once again. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, or put it in a rubbish bag and close it; you can also use a container with a tight fitting lid. Keep the dough in the fridge for 18-24 hours.

After 18-24 hours, divide the dough in 2 or 3 portions, roll out each portion so that it’s roughly the size of your baking sheet then oil 2-3 baking sheets and arrange the prepared dough on top and cover with kitchen towels. In a warm place, let the dough rise until it roughly doubles in size; depending on the ambient temperature, this will take 30-60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to the highest temperature setting (at least 250°C / 480°F).

Divide the salsiccia, cime di rapa, and mozzarella among the prepared baking sheets and bake for about 10-13 minutes or until golden brown and crunchy. Drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with some pepper, and enjoy immediately!

Meet In Your Kitchen | Champagne, Scallops & Squash Soup with Vitalie Taittinger

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 love. It’s the attention we can give to the people we are sharing life with.” – Vitalie Taittinger

48 hours in the Champagne with Vitalie Taittinger – many bottles were popped and no dessert was missed in the making of this podcast episode!

Vitalie was born in Reims, she’s the great-granddaughter of Champagne Taittinger‘s founder Pierre Taittinger and now she is the President of the champagne house. Two years ago, she took over from her father, Pierre-Emmanuel. When I first met the young woman a few years ago, I asked myself if it’s a gift or a burden to be born into one of the world’s most famous champagne families, if it’s freedom or pressure.

“The fact that today we are both responsible for the company, I think this is something very strong in terms of complicité.” – Vitalie Taittinger

Clovis is Vitalie’s brother, he’s the company’s Managing Director. When it came to the decision who of the two children would follow into their father’s footsteps, the father specifically didn’t want to be part of the final decision making process. Instead, for a whole year, the entire team, including the two siblings, pondered on what would be best for the company. For them it was neither about ego nor about clever career moves. It was simply about finding a solution that would be best for Champagne Taittinger; that would be best to keep a tradition alive and thriving. This story says so much about a family and about a region and its mystified product. It says so much about what champagne is about.

The Champagne region is a tiny cosmos built on history, values, tradition, and trust. It goes beyond family although the families that founded the big houses and cultivated champagne over hundreds of years are at the core of this cosmos. It’s important to understand that all the champagne houses on their own can’t cover the demand of grapes for their production just by using the produce from their own vineyards. It’s just not enough. They depend on a large network of small independent growers in the region. There are contracts yet if the growers don’t want to cooperate with a champagne house, the champagne house won’t survive. They both depend on each other, which is fruitful and only works when their cooperation is built on trust, respect, and the same values. Land is precious and limited – and a UNESCO world heritage since 2015. It’s one of the most expensive in the wine world. € 1 million per acre, only topped by Bordeaux’s and Burgundy’s top appellations.

“A company is a human adventure and when you’re a family you stay very close to these human values.” – Vitalie Taittinger

When Taittinger was sold by the extended family in 2005 – a step Vitalie’s father didn’t agree with – it only took him a year to have the support from a local bank and the backup from the growers to buy the company back and be assured that he would manage to keep producing outstanding champagne.

So when Vitalie joined the company in 2007 quite spontaneously, after studying art and establishing a life independent of Taittinger, she was aware of the responsibility given into her hands but also about the chance she got to keep the story of her family’s champagne alive so that one day she could pass it on to the next generation: “The fact that we are a family running the company puts the adventure into a longterm process. I think we are not fighting for figures we fight to make this adventure last and transmit it to the next generation. We want to transmit the best terroir to the next generation and we want to pay attention to the health of the next generation.” 

“Déjeuner en l’Honneur de Madame Meike Peters” – Merci beaucoup, Vitalie!

The past is deeply woven into the region, it’s constantly present, contributing to the mystique of the Champagne: no matter if your in Reims visiting Notre-Dame de Reims, the cathedral chosen for the coronation of the kings of France; if your in Taittinger‘s cellars 18 meters underground in the Abbey of Saint-Nicaise built in the 13th century in Roman chalk pits dating from the 4th century; or driving to the family’s Château de la Marquetterie, an 18th century residence 40 minutes outside Reims, which Vitalie’s great-grandfather Pierre bought in 1930. He had fallen in love with this place, a headquarter during World War I, when he spent time there as a cavalry officer in 1915.

It’s not a surprise that Pierre was smitten. When I drove passed the vines and through the chateau’s gate to visit Vitalie in her kitchen, and record our podcast episode in one of the salons, I was smitten, too, with Vitalie and the chateau.

Vitalie shared a recipe with me that’s both cozy and sumptuous, Squash Soup with Chestnut Purée and Scallop Carpaccio with Spinach Pesto and Caviar – easy to prepare in advance and perfect for a New Year’s Eve dinner!

Bonne année!

The podcast episode with Vitalie Taittinger 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 Vitalie on:

Spotify / Apple / Deezer / Google / Amazon / Podimo

On Instagram you can follow the podcast @meetinmykitchenpodcast!

Squash Soup with Chestnuts, Scallop Carpaccio and Caviar

by Vitalie Taittinger

The scallops are eaten raw and need to be very fresh. If this seems too risky for you, sear the scallops quickly in a little olive oil over high heat on both sides (this takes 2-3 minutes) and season with salt and pepper.

Serves 4

For the scallop carpaccio

  • 10 very fresh scallops
  • Caviar, adjust the amount to your budget

For the spinach pesto

  • 1 large handful fresh baby spinach leaves, plus 16 small spinach leaves for serving
  • Olive oil
  • 1 lime
  • Fine sea salt
  • Ground black pepper

For the soup

  • 1 liter / 4 1/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 butternut squash (about 3 pounds), peeled, seeds removed, and cut into cubes
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Fine sea salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Crème fraîche, to taste

For the chestnut purée and topping

  • 200g / 7 ounces vacuum-packed whole cooked chestnuts
  • 120ml / 1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped until stiff
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated, or very finely chopped, orange zest

For the scallop carpaccio, keep the scallops in the freezer for a couple hour; this will make it easier to cut them.

For the soup, bring the broth to a boil then add the squash, star anise, and bay leaves, season to taste with salt and pepper, reduce the heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the squash is soft. Remove and discard the star anise and bay leaves. Using a blender stick or blender, purée the soup until smooth then season to taste with salt, pepper, and crème fraîche and cook, stirring constantly, until it reaches the desired taste and texture; cover the pot and keep warm.

For the chestnut purée, set 3 chestnuts aside then purée the remaining chestnuts until smooth (add a little water if necessary) and, using a spoon, gently mix with the whipped cream.

Crumble the 3 reserved chestnuts. In a small, heavy pan, heat the sugar over medium-high heat until caramelized then add the crumbled chestnuts and orange zest; stir and keep warm for serving.

For the spinach pesto, purée the spinach leaves and a little olive oil in a blender until smooth. Add more olive oil until the texture is quite runny then season to taste with freshly squeezed lime juice, salt, and pepper.

Take the scallops out of the freezer. Using a large, sharp knife, cut the scallops very thinly; if they are too hard to cut keep them at room temperature for a few minutes.

Arrange the scallop slices on 4 large plates, drizzle with a little spinach pesto (you might not need all of the pesto), sprinkle with a few spinach leaves and a little caviar. Fill the soup in 4 deep bowls and arrange the bowls on the large plates with the carpaccio. Arrange the caramelized chestnuts and a dollop of the puréed chestnuts on top of the soup and serve immediately.

Meet In Your Your Kitchen | Husarenkrapferl – Stefanie Hering’s Christmas Family Cookies

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.

Innovation – but always based on tradition. Never neglect tradition. – Stefanie Hering

There’s something very calm and focussed about this woman. Stefanie Hering is the opposite of agitated. Things feel possible, manageable, even in times of disruption she doesn’t forget that the potential to create joy and beauty always lies in her hands, literally.

Stefanie is the founder of Hering Berlin, a traditional Berlin based ceramic manufacturer who changed the way we experience porcelain tableware. Lenny Kravitz, Nicole Kidman, Oprah Winfrey, and the chefs of more than 250 Michelin starred restaurants fall for her bold and uncompromising design. Tom Aikens, Heinz Winkler, Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, they all trust the designer’s vision to present their culinary creations, allowing her to create a frame for their food that’s anything but shy yet doesn’t distract from the chefs’ work.

“We were at the fair in Chicago and there were Charlie Trotter and Thomas Keller talking, saying It’s bloody expensive but damn good.” – Stefanie Hering

The first plate from Hering‘s manufactory that I held in my hands many years ago gave me a sense of a designer who had traveled into the future and came back with an approach to design that dared to question the prevalent, established ideas of porcelain. It was a plate of the Cielo collection, the rim perforated with a pattern of small holes that are drilled into the unglazed biscuit (or bisque) porcelain by hand.

It takes 80 steps to make this plate. So, 80 times, this plate can break or crack, but also, 80 times, the craftsperson gets the chance to approach perfection in a plate that seems so fragile, so delicate, but that is so robust. When I anxiously asked Stefanie how to clean it, she answered “Just put it in the dishwasher.” She’s pragmatic and never forgets that good design should work but also create and accumulate fun and satisfaction in your kitchen.

Hering‘s success came sudden, almost too sudden. When Bergdorf Goodman ordered their products for their NYC department store, when MoMA put a picture of one of Stefanie’s objects on their annual catalogue, she became famous and noticed that she would soon reach the limits of her manufactory’s oven capacities. The time had come to expand and grow, which she managed to do several times in her career, which also included setbacks. But somehow Stefanie always manages to connect with that deep trust in herself and her work that she was already aware of when she was young.

Stefanie is her hardest critic, she wants to excite and surprise her customers with her creations, she wants to impress them with her high standards of hand-crafting, but most importantly, when she started her career, she said to herself “I’ll stopp doing this job as soon as it bores me and I don’t enjoy it anymore. That’s 30 years ago and it never bored me a single day.”

Food is love. It’s an elixir. It’s something I could never live without.” – Stefanie Hering

It’s tempting to romanticize a career like Stefanie’s. Working with a craft that is so rewarding in the process of creating and also in the final products that become a part of many people’s everyday life all over the world, yet Stefanie doesn’t hide the tough times and painful decisions. The more successful a company becomes, the higher the risk, the more people are affected by your decisions. You do need to stay calm within yourself to deal with the pressure, the uncertainties, the fact that the final responsibility will always be on your plate.

Stefanie shared one of her Christmas family cookie recipes with me, the Husarenkrapferl that she’s been baking for her children for years, can now fill your pretty cookie jars. These are Austrian-style thumbprint cookies, however, Stefanie doesn’t use her thumb but the stick of a wooden spoon and she fills the cookies twice, before and after baking them.

The podcast episode with Stefanie Hering 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 Stefanie on:

Spotify / Apple / Deezer / Google / Amazon / Podimo

On Instagram you can follow the podcast @meetinmykitchenpodcast!

Husarenkrapferl

by Stefanie Hering

Mind that the dough needs to cool in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Makes about 40 cookies

  • 140g / 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 70g / 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon ground hazelnuts (or almonds)
  • 70g / 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • A pinch of salt
  • 140g / 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 150g / 5 ounces black currant jelly (or any other red jam or jelly)
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting the cookies

In a large bowl, combine the flour, ground hazelnuts, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add the butter and egg yolks and, using a knife, chop the butter and egg yolks to combine them with the flour mixture until crumbly. Quickly crumble the dough with your fingers and squeeze and form it into a ball and then into a thick log. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 175°C / 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a saucepan, briefly warm up the jelly over medium heat, whisking constantly, until liquid; this will make it easier to fill the cookies.

Cut slices of dough off the log and, using your hands, roll each piece into a ball, around the size of a small walnut. Spread the balls of dough on the prepared baking sheets, leaving enough space between them as they will expand during baking. Using the stick of a wooden spoon, make a small hole in the middle of each cookie.

Using a teaspoon or an icing bag with a small tip, fill the cookies with the jelly then bake for 15-18 minutes or until the cookies are golden and tender; mind that they don’t get dark. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes then transfer to a large plate or cooling rack. Dust them with confectioners’ sugar and fill up the holes with a little more jelly. Let them cool completely then enjoy them or gently layer them in a cookie box or jar.

Meet In Your Kitchen | Cynthia Barcomi’s Pecan Pie with Chocolate and Cranberries

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.

I do feel that with time I have learned the necessity to calculate my risk. In the beginning I was uninterested in calculating risk, I wasn’t even necessarily interested in spending the time of thinking How risky is this. I was much more focussed on what I wanted to do.” – Cynthia Barcomi

Before I moved to Berlin I used to have a little ritual, every time I came here I made it a point to visit Cynthia Barcomi‘s Deli at Hackescher Markt. I was in love with this place, obsessed with her chocolate cherry muffins, with her tuna sandwich made with the juiciest potato bread, and the world’s best New York cheesecake. Whenever I set on the black and white leather benches in the tall lofty room of her Deli, Cynthia managed to make me feel home and taken care of but at the same time hungry and excited for everything that was new to me in this big city.

There was a lot that this American lady taught me – without ever meeting her: my first carrot cake was hers and the frosting of that cake seemed like a miracle for a German girl in the nineties, almost impossible that something tasting so good is only made of cream cheese, lemon, butter, and sugar. Four simple ingredients creating sweet magic. No one masters the genius simplicity of comforting American-style baking like she does, at least in my world. She approaches her recipes like everything else in her life: with curiosity, discipline, passion, and stubborn persistence. Cynthia only stops working on a recipe – be it for her café, for one of her nine books, or for her TV shows – when she’s 100% sure that she nailed it. She never compromises.

“There was definitely a time when I was like I have to do this and this, more and more, and now I kind of feel like it is really important for me to stay focussed. And it is really important for me to protect this part of myself, which feels incredibly inspired and curious and creative and all these different things, where I know if I get too bogged down by the many other things that are going on in the world or in my life that I cannot access that.” – Cynthia Barcomi

Cynthia came to Berlin in the nineties, tumbling out of a rather protected childhood in Seattle, Washington State, and a few wild years in New York City, studying philosophy, theatre and drama at Columbia University and becoming a dancer at the same time. Those were the eighties and Cynthia lived the Flashdance-life. Although it can’t really get much better than that Cynthia felt pulled to Europe, to Pina Bausch, Paris, Florence, and at one point to Berlin.

Always moving, she can’t stand still. With two kids, she started looking for a more steady life in the food world (maybe the only thing she ever miscalculated), so she decided to roast her own coffee beans and open her first café in Kreuzberg. Today this wouldn’t be such an adventurous career move, but back in 1994, this was a risky endeavor. There were no American-style cafés, people didn’t really care much about American cakes, pies, and cookies, there was simply no demand for it. Germans drank their old-fashioned filter coffee in questionable quality, and were happy with it, and enjoyed their German cakes for their Kaffee und Kuchen. So now Cynthia popped up in the city, ready to conquer and change it all – and she succeeded.

“I think it’s really important that you do stay true to yourself and that you spend less time comparing yourself and your work to other people, which I think is going down a rabbit hole that will suck all the energy out of you. And I really do encourage especially women to kind of not have quite so much shit in their head and just do it.” – Cynthia Barcomi

Three years after starting her first café, she opened her Deli, which is the reason why I moved to the area where I live now. I had to be close to that place. Almost 30 years ago, Cynthia changed they way people eat in the capital. Less competition may make it sound easier compared to today but this also meant that the risk was much higher. She had to pioneer a market that was so unfamiliar with her vision that even the banks told her “Look lady, if this were a really good idea, we’d already have it.” Her answer was “What are you talking about. Society lives from new ideas. We wouldn’t have washing machines, we wouldn’t have cars, we’d be lighting fire, we’d be cavemen. I mean come on. Jesus!” So she just put a plate of her cookies on the guy’s desk and at one point she got the loan.

Sometimes in life you have to swim against the current, ignoring the anxious voices around you. It worked out in Cynthia’s case but it wasn’t always a smooth journey. Last year she had to close her Deli to save her business. A decision so painful that it still hurts her to talk about it. A chapter came to an end, after writing a beautiful story that will always be a part of Berlin, but Cynthia wouldn’t be the person who she is if she didn’t get back on her feet to write another story – to be continued.

Cynthia shared the ultimate Christmas or New Year’s Eve dessert with me: Pecan Pie with Chocolate and Dried Cranberries.

The podcast episode with Cynthia Barcomi 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 Cynthia on:

Spotify / Apple / Deezer / Google / Amazon / Podimo

On Instagram you can follow the podcast @meetinmykitchenpodcast!

Pecan Pie with Chocolate and Dried Cranberries

by Cynthia Barcomi

Makes one 23cm / 9″ – pie

For the crust

  • 125g / 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
  • 25g / 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 180g / 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 25g / 3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch or wholegrain flour
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 75ml / 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon ice cold water

For the filling

  • 100g / 1/2 cup muscovado sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 200ml / 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 25g / 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 100g / 3 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 100g / 3 1/2 ounces dried cranberries or dried cherries, lightly floured
  • 200g / 7 ounces pecans, left whole

For a light and flaky crust, cut the butter and the shortening into small pieces and chill in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, starch, sugar, and salt. Blend in the cold butter and shortening with your fingertips or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add cold water and stir with a fork until a dough just forms. Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and quickly knead the dough into a circle. Wrap the dough in parchment and chill for about 2 hours (the dough will keep in the fridge for several days and in the freezer for several months).

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F (convection setting). Have a 23cm / 9″-pie or tart form at your side. No need to butter it.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to about 3mm / 1/8″ thick. Work with a light dusting of flour on your rolling pin and on your work surface. Do not use too much flour or the crust will become hard and dry. Place the rolled-out dough into the pie dish and gently press into the sides. Trim the edges to an about 5mm / 1/4″ overhang. With your fingertips, crimp the edges. Chill while you make the filling.

Make the filling. In a large bowl, whisk the brown sugar with the eggs, then stir in the syrup. Add the salt, vanilla extract, and melted butter and stir to combine.

Place the chopped chocolate onto the bottom of the pie dough, followed by the dried fruit, and the pecans. Carefully pour the egg mixture over the pecans. Bake for 10 minutes at 200°C / 400°F, then reduce the heat to 190°C / 375°F and bake for another 10 minutes. If it seems to be getting brown too quickly, cover the pie with parchment. Reduce the heat once again to 180°C / 350°F and bake for another 14–16 minutes until golden. Leave to cool on a rack for several hours before serving.

Meet In Your Kitchen | Krautkopf’s Roasted Kale, Apples and Potatoes

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.

“It’s really the story of simplicity. You can create great taste with just a few really good ingredients. You won’t need much.” – Susann Probst

When I hopped onto the empty platform after a 2.5 hour train ride I found myself in front of an old red brick building with broken windows and a faded sign painted over the door. I smiled as I thought of the last sentence I had written to Susann Probst and Yannic Schon of Krautkopf “If you won’t manage to pick me up in time, don’t worry, I’ll walk around in the village. There was no village.

The first Meet in My Kitchen Podcast On Tour took me right into the picturesque countryside of Mecklenburg Vorpommern (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania) in the north-east of Germany. Golden hills draw their rolling lines into the landscape right where the cloudy sky begins, old trees frame the endless alleys, and villages are rare. This is the place that a young couple chose as their new home, after 10 years in Berlin building up one of Germany’s most successful food blogs, publishing a cookbook, and releasing a recipe app.

An old post-war Siedlerhaus (settlers house) rustically built in 1948 out of leftover bricks and beams, compiling of a barn, a couple rooms, and a vast amount of land made Susann and Yannic fall in love with a region that couldn’t be more of a contrast to buzzing life in Berlin. However, exactly that – and the creative potential of the two old buildings and the huge garden – were the reason why they both felt ready for a new chapter in their life.

You see what is in season just because that’s how you planted it. There was all this creativity happening, you went outside and looked into your harvesting basket or in general, you looked at the plants and what was going on there.” – Yannic Schon

The Krautkopf cosmos is the inspiring symbiosis of two minds, well attuned, who express themselves through photography, food, design, and now also gardening. Susann and Yannic found a new playing field for their creative energies initiated through the big move in 2020.

The house’s interior brings together warm hues, all shades of earthy colors, it plays harmonically with darkness and light, and it treasures all the old features. The dining room feels like a cozy cave, the kitchen, which used to be the barn, still has the old uneven brick flooring, the little lattice windows letting in beams of light. It wouldn’t really surprise you if you saw a sheep munching on hay next to you. It’s all very rustic but then at the same time it doesn’t have the dusty layer of the past covering up the fact that it’s 2021. It’s minimalist and modern without neglecting the past, here, the presence lovingly embraces the past.

Susann and Yannic always keep all creative decisions in their own hands, be it a blog, a book, a sofa, or the new field of gardening. They read and learned everything they could possibly find about seeds and seedlings, flowers and orchard meadows, bees and bushes. The couple created a garden that combines all the romantic ideas of living in the countryside with the modern desire of a sustainable life with nature and not against it. The huge vegetable garden offers every ingredient a cook could ask for. Tomatoes, zucchini, squash, peppers, peas, beans, and potatoes – all popping when their season has come. There’s really everything right at hand in front of the kitchen door that a cook could ask for – and it all looks so perfect and pretty.

When Susann and Yannic worked on their new book, Erde, Salz und Glut (soil, salt and heat; only in German) they just had to walk into their garden to create all the colorful recipes circling around vegetables that fill their book’s pages. The concept for the book came up during a trip to Scotland. Living in a tent and reducing ingredients, tools, and techniques to a minimum for their travel cooking, the ingredients basically only needed salt and heat. When they moved to their new house shortly after the trip and when gardening and harvesting became such a big part of their everyday life, they added ‘soil’ to the book’s title.

The recipe they shared with me is from their new book. It’s a celebration of their garden and of their favorite season, of autumn, its flavors and its colors: Roasted Kale, Potatoes and Apple.

The podcast episode with Susann and Yannic 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 Susann and Yannic on:

Spotify / Apple / Deezer / Google / Amazon / Podimo

On Instagram you can follow the podcast @meetinmykitchenpodcast!

Roasted Kale, Potatoes and Apple

by Susann Probst and Yannic Schon (from Erde, Salz & Glut)

Serves 2

  • 700g / 1 1/2 pounds small waxy potatoes (with skin)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled
  • 2 medium baking apples
  • 100g / 3 1/2 ounces kale
  • 1 handful walnut kernels
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 70ml / 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon apple juice
  • 4 medium sprigs tarragon

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 355°F.

Cut the potatoes into 4 wedges each. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil on a baking sheet, add the potatoes, toss them in the oil and spread them out. Roast the potatoes, on the middle rack, for 10 minutes.

While the potatoes are roasting, cut the onion into slim wedges, cut each apple into 8 wedges then cut out and remove the core. Trim the kale leaves and tear large leaves into smaller pieces. Chop the walnuts roughly.

Add the onion, apples, and kale to the potatoes, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, mix with your hands, and season to taste with salt then bake for another 15 minutes or until the potatoes are golden and just cooked through. Add the walnuts and roast for 1 more minute.

In a small bowl, whisk together the walnut oil, mustard, and apple juice and season to taste with salt. Remove the tarragon leaves from the sprigs then drizzle the dressing over the roasted vegetables and sprinkle with the tarragon. Serve immediately.

Meet In Your Kitchen | Kiduk Reus’ Bonanza – The Perfect Coffee

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.

There was no movement there. We were the movement.” – Kiduk Reus

When a friend took me to Bonanza Coffee on Berlin’s buzzing Oderberger Strasse back in 2006, I felt disturbed and suspicious about the whole thing. This had nothing to do with my beloved old-fashioned Italian-style espresso places where I’d usually have a cup of the dark, thick, bitter drink, a bite of flaky sfogliatella, while Italian opera was soothing my mind, playing in the background. It took me years to understand this new kind of coffee, to taste, to smell, and appreciate the whole complex flavor and aroma profile; to accept that an old tradition was taken in the hands of a bunch of young people to experiment and to create something different with the good old coffee bean that’s been a part of our culinary heritage since at least the 15th century.

Young Kiduk Reus, one of the founders of Bonanza, was one of those kids – curious, brave, and fearless, and ready for a new chapter in his life. After studying design at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam and at the Rietveld Academy of Arts in Amsterdam, after successfully working in the advertising industry, he felt that Berlin was calling his name in 2004. He packed his bags, the vague idea of starting a speciality coffee shop at the back of his mind. That was the beginning of a time that would later become known as the worldwide Third Wave Coffee Movement.

I did it all myself. I fixed it. It wasn’t like the machines were actually working. I had figured out how to get them running and put modern equipment into it so it ran even better. And honestly, that even also took off. That actually saved our business in the end because what happened one day, it became a trend this thing with the cast-iron machines. And then I had a whole side business on that in the evening, which financed the whole Bonanza thing. I must have helped over 250 roasteries worldwide getting their equipment. It was huge.” – Kiduk Reus

Born in Seoul, South Korea, adopted at the age of 4 by an American mother and a Dutch father, Kiduk grew up in the Netherlands in a town famous for cheese, in Gouda. Food played an important role. He remembers being a picky child knowing exactly what he wanted to eat and what he didn’t. His palate was already refined, a skill that would come in handy later in his life. In the following years, Kiduk learned what would become a mantra in his life: I need this, it needs to be better, I improve it. And then, miraculously (or not), other people pick up on it.

Understanding that he has to be the motor to bring movement to his ideas, he always had the soul of an entrepreneur. Not waiting for others to come up with something great or to improve something existing, he jumped in first to create what he needed to move on and fulfill his mission. So when he started the first Bonanza coffee shop together with his partner he knew he wanted to roast his own beans as soon as possible to simply reach and keep the quality that he had in mind.

Coincidentally, Kiduk noticed that some old cast-iron equipment – stored in an old airplane hangar by a friend of his and that he had access to – was the best possible equipment for roasting coffee beans. So he jumped on the occasion and spontaneously started a business that would in the end finance Bonanza for a long time. He bought the old parts and machines, added new parts to make them work even better, and became the Berlin man to supply roasting machines to all the big names in the speciality coffee roasting business worldwide. Blue Bottle, Seven Seeds, and about another 250 coffee roasters went to Kiduk Reus’ workshop and got their vintage equipment, customized by Kiduk himself and his growing team of mechanics.

Kiduk says he listens to his mind more than to his feeling. His intuition is definitely absolutely reliable. Many of his decisions seem random at first but then turn into something great. The street where his first shop is on, on Oderberger Strasse, was called Street of Death by house owners and estate agents as none of the businesses lasted long. This street changed a couple years after Kiduk arrived. Leading to Mauerpark – a park that would become famous and turn into a weekly festival scene attracting 30,000 people on a Sunday, all passing by Kiduk’s coffee shop – this street would become one of the most buzzing spots in the city. In hindsight, he couldn’t have chosen a better location.

I get also pushback from my staff because they are again more like It should be like wine, it should be the terroir, it should be the way we’re roasting it, you should be tasting the processing and the varietal! And I’m like But this is so boring, we’ve been doing that all the time, can we not do this! But no, that is not a serious drink! and then I look at the cashier and I’m like Aha, you didn’t sell any of it! No, we recommend them away from that drink, and I’m like Ok.” – Kiduk Reus

When you pay so much attention to each single bean, when you know the farmers, when you set the quality bar so high, you want your customers to taste the whole range of flavors packed into that little bean by nature. Bad beans strongly roasted taste bitter, which covers up bad taste, but you don’t want that to happen with good beans.

And now coffee geeks like Scott Tedder from Leeds (pictured below during a coffee tasting to prep for a coffee competition), Bonanza‘s head roaster and green bean buyer for years, come in to define the perfect roasting process that each bean will go through so that I can actually enjoy the complete complex flavor profile. This means that I have to – or rather want to – question my rigid ideas of how an espresso should taste. I want to give people like Scott a chance to show me something I haven’t experienced before and to allow my taste to develop. And I must admit, it did change. The coffee beans that I buy now aren’t as dark, aren’t roasted as strong anymore. I’m slowly discovering the profiles of good coffee beans.

Kiduk and I might always be a little more experimental and willing to compromise than Scott when it comes to creating new drinks including espresso or hand-brewed coffee, but that’s fine. A baker will always tell you to eat the warm bread just with butter, a farmer will recommend to enjoy the soil-studded carrot on its own, the wine maker wants you to stand in between the vines to feel the terroir when you take the first sip. It’s an appreciation for nature and its miraculous creations, for the pure flavor. Maybe there’s also a little pride involved – which isn’t a bad thing – that they all manage to make nature’s produce shine without distracting from the inner qualities.

Kiduk showed me how to hand-brew the perfect coffee with affordable equipment (you can find the recipe below). You can work with the most basic equipment you have in your kitchen but it’s definitely worth investing a) in a digital gram scale and b) in good coffee beans from a coffee roaster who understands what you’re looking for in taste and who will also grind the beans for you. However, go for small quantities as ground beans will lose their aroma quicker. You will slowly discover flavors in a hand-brewed coffee that you never tasted before and that’s quite an experience. It turns making and drinking coffee into a ritual, like making a cup of special tea.

The podcast episode with Kiduk Reus of Bonanza Coffee 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 Kiduk on:

Spotify / Apple / Deezer / Google / Amazon / Podimo

On Instagram you can follow the podcast @meetinmykitchenpodcast!

The Perfect Hand-Brewed Coffee

by Kiduk Reus / Bonanza

Makes 2 small cups, or 1 large cup

Equipment

  • 1 coffee paper filter (such as Melita, Hario or Kalita)
  • Coffee dripper / filter (such as Melita, Hario or Kalita)
  • Glass hand drip coffee pot (or any other heat resistant glass pot)
  • Digital gram scale (Kiduk uses an Acaia scale)
  • Kettle with spout (or pour the boiling water into a tea pot with a spout)

Ingredients

  • 220g water (at 95°C / 203°F)
  • 16g coffee, medium grind (most speciality coffee shops will grind your coffee beans if you don’t have a coffee grinder at home; the baristi at Bonanza will happily grind the beans for you if you happen to be in Berlin)

Type of coffee* used by Kiduk (which is also Scott Tedder’s competition coffee)

  • Country: Costa Rica 
  • Producer: William Mora
  • Varietal: Geisha
  • Processing method: natural / anaerobic (anaerobic coffee is fermented / processed in an environment that lacks oxygen)

* Ask your local speciality coffee shop for recommendations for coffee beans suitable for hand-brewing.

Place the paper filter in the coffee dripper, put the dripper on top of the heat resistant glass pot then place the pot on top of the scale.

Fill roughly 240ml / 1 cup of water into your kettle and bring to a boil. Let the water cool in the kettle for a minute until the temperature drops down to roughly 95°C / 203°F.

Add the ground coffee to the paper filter. Tare the scale so that it’s on zero then wet the coffee with a little of the hot water. Wait a few seconds then pour 110g of water on top of the coffee in the paper filter, pouring circular, and wait a minute. Pour the other 110g of water on top, this time straight in the middle. Don’t pour the water in at once, let it drip through the coffee gradually and evenly and make sure that the ground coffee doesn’t swim in water. The brewing time (or water to coffee contact time) should be around 2:20 minutes.

Pour the coffee into 2 cups and enjoy immediately.

Meet In Your Kitchen | Daniel Schreiber’s Sourdough Waffles with Plum-Apple Jam

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.

Through food we connect with the world’s gift and also with the gift of the knowledge of other generations.” – Daniel Schreiber

Daniel Schreiber writes books that touch a sensitive spot. He writes about his own experiences yet these are experiences that we all share in one way or the other. In his last three books‘Nüchtern’ (Sober), ‘Zuhause’ (Home), and ‘Allein’ (Alone) – he touches the fears we know but learned to sail around, he writes about his own life but reminds us of our own.

Every word he chooses says the truth, very direct, very blunt, you can feel that, and by this, in a way that is hard to describe, he creates a fragile beauty. It’s the beauty of togetherness, that we are all in this together, that we’re not alone, we’re not the only one struggling, and that we can share our struggles and be open about them. It sounds almost too sweet but despite the pain that is present in his books, there is so much warmth. Like in real life.

It’s like your favorite tea cup, it’s cracked, it’s chipped, you glued it back together, but when you feel its uneven surface drinking your tea in the morning, you don’t think of the pain you felt when it broke. Each crack makes it even more familiar, makes it even more a part of yourself, your story, and who you are. You learn to love these cracks. Daniel manages to transport this feeling in his books. Each crack we have makes us the person who we are. It’s a long and beautiful story of life, love, and learning, and yes, sometimes it also hurts.

“When I came to New York it was quite a depressive period for me but something happened at that time in connection with food that helped me a lot. I started cooking through the Larousse Gastronomique and practically cooked every evening. I went shopping to the market or supermarket every day to try out new recipes. That gave me a lot of strength.” – Daniel Schreiber

And what does food have to do with it? Daniel’s eyes start sparkling when he’s talking about his mother’s garden in a tiny village in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania) where he grew up. When he talks about picking fruit and vegetables and filling a bucket up to the rim with the harvest to take home to his kitchen in Berlin every time he visits his parents. His mother’s cooking and recipes – some of which she keeps secret until today – laid the foundation for Daniel’s love for cooking. A love that taught him that there’s light even in the darkest of times – and he can choose to switch it on.

Food and literature were held up high in his family’s house and became his companions on his own journey. Studying literature in Berlin and New York City put the young man in touch with buzzing metropolitan life and helped him shape his identity as a young man. His original academic dreams faded and instead he worked for newspapers and magazines. He wrote a celebrated Susan Sontag biography followed by three books, weaving his own experiences into a scientific, psychological, and philosophical context.

“Most of us have problems to say what we really want to say. Society and our families don’t educate us to really find an authentic relationship with ourselves. We have to fulfill certain roles, certain expectations, that we ourselves and society force upon us, economical and social expectations. And these internalized expectations and roles are in our way most of the time.” – Daniel Schreiber

No matter how rocky his life got at times, no matter how far he drifted away, Daniel always searched for and found the way to the kitchen and with this, a way back to himself. Working as a private chef, cooking and catering for families and events in Manhattan and the Hamptons, strengthened his confidence as a cook and sparked his curiosity. Cooking through a vast collection of books, experimenting with recipes, turned Daniel into a person who knows the tastiest recipes for almost every dish you can think of.

His sourdough bread and waffles reach perfection in taste and texture, the homemade jam collection on his kitchen shelves can easily compete with a professional jam manufactory. Whatever he sets his mind on becomes his passion. His terrace looks like a dense green jungle speckled with colorful blossoms in all shapes and sizes – and he can tell you the name of every single plant there is in his green kingdom. He turns piles of wool into the favorite scarves, quilts, and sweaters of family and friends. And he puts words and letters together in ways that I want to read his books even when they force me to face my own fears.

Daniel shared two recipes with me that are perfect for an autumn brunch or cozy teatime: Sourdough waffles, crisp on the outside and spongy inside, crowned by dollops of crème fraîche and crimson colored jam made of dark plums and firm apples infused with star-anise and vanilla.

The podcast episode with Daniel Schreiber 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 Daniel on:

Spotify / Apple / Deezer / Google / Amazon / Podimo

On Instagram you can follow the podcast @meetinmykitchenpodcast!

Sourdough Waffles with Plum-Apple Jam and Crème Fraîche

by Daniel Schreiber *

* The waffle recipe is adapted from a New York Times recipe and the jam recipe is adapted from a recipe by Christine Ferber.

For the plum-apple jam

Mind that the jam needs to sit overnight before you finish cooking it the next day.

Makes 6-7 small jars

  • 680g / 1 1/2 pounds dark plums (Zwetschgen, Italian Prune Plums), cut in half and pitted (weight without pits: 500g / 18 ounces)
  • 750g / 1 2/3 pounds firm, sour apples (Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Idared), peeled, quartered, cored, cut crosswise into very thin slices (final weight: 500g / 18 ounces)
  • 800g / 1 3/4 pounds granulated sugar
  • 2 star-anise
  • 1 vanilla pod, split in half
  • 2 medium lemons, juice only
  • 7 small jars with their lids, sterilized

The day before you want to cook the jam, combine all the ingredients in a tall, large pot and let it sit for 1 hour. Over high heat, stirring gently, bring the jam to a boil. When the jam starts bubbling and rising, immediately remove the pot from the heat, cover with a lid, and let it sit overnight.

The next day, place a saucer in the freezer. Remove the lid from the pot and bring the jam to a boil over high heat, stirring gently. Cook the jam for 10-15 minutes or until it thickens and reaches its setting point. To see if the jam reached its setting point either use a sugar thermometer, the temperature should be 105°C / 220°F, or place a small spoonful of jam on the chilled saucer that you kept in the freezer, wait 20-30 seconds then push the jam with your finger. The jam should wrinkle up. Remove and discard the vanilla pod and star-anise. Using a ladle, fill the jam into the sterilized jars, close them tightly with their lids, and store in a dark place.

For the sourdough waffles

For this waffle recipes, you make use of the sourdough starter that you usually discard every day when you refresh your sourdough starter. Just make sure that you take 240g / 1 cup sourdough starter aside before (!) you refresh your starter. Mind that you need to prepare the batter the night before you want to bake your waffles and finish it the next day.

Serves 2-4

  • 240g / 1 cup sourdough starter that hasn’t been refreshed (fed)
  • 220g / 1 cup buttermilk
  • 120g / 1 cup all-purpose flour (German flour type 550)
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar or granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, split and scraped, or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 60ml / 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

The night before you want to bake the waffles, whisk together the sourdough starter, buttermilk, flour, sugar, and vanilla seeds in a large bowl until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature overnight.

The next day, when you’re ready to bake the waffles, preheat a waffle iron (ideally a square Belgian waffle iron). Add the egg, olive oil, salt, and baking soda to the sourdough mixture and whisk to combine.

Pour a ladle of the batter into the hot waffle iron and bake until golden brown and crisp. Transfer the waffle to a cooling rack and let cool for a few minutes. Continue baking more waffles with the remaining batter.

For serving

  • Crème fraîche

Place a dollop of crème fraîche and a dollop of jam on a warm waffle and serve immediately.