Tag: potato

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!

Crisp Golden Rosemary Potatoes with Feta Cheese

Rosemary Potatoes with Feta Cheese

Some days call for a quick lunch or dinner and potatoes are often my solution – apart from pasta, of course. Mashed, fried, baked or in salads, preparations never take too long to create a satisfying meal which won’t leave me hungry. Sometimes when I know that stressful days are ahead, I put a big pot of potatoes on the cooker, enough to be turned into a few delicious meals in the following days. This is perfect when there are fried potatoes on my cooking plan as they should always cool and dry after cooking before you throw them into the hot pan, that way they turn nice and crisp and won’t become mushy. My favourites are the classic version with bacon and onions or a bit lighter and Mediterranean, golden fried potatoes with rosemary. I could leave it at that, good potatoes fried in olive oil with some herbs, sea salt and pepper don’t really ask for more but I’m in the mood for cheese at the moment. I could throw it into anything, like last week’s rocket salad with goat cheese, my Bavarian Obatzda sandwich with camembert or the gnocchi with blue cheese sauce.

So my potatoes get a cheesy add-on as well, in the form of Greek Feta cheese. I cut 500g / 1 pound of small cooked and cold potatoes in half and fry them in olive oil on medium heat until golden on all sides. For the last 2-3 minutes I add the needles of 3 small sprigs of rosemary, they become bitter when fried too long. When the potatoes are nice and crisp I season them with crushed black pepper and coarse sea salt and crumble 150g / 5.5 ounces of Feta cheese on top. A ripe goat cheese would work as well, or an aromatic French cheese like Comté grated and melted on the hot potatoes, so many options!

Rosemary Potatoes with Feta Cheese


Rosemary Potatoes with Feta Cheese

Gnocchi with Blue Cheese Sauce

Gnocchi with Blue Cheese Sauce

As soon as the temperatures start to rise the Mediterranean influence on my cooking begins to increase accordingly. I feel like olives, fresh herbs, capers and garlic, lemons and seafood, and all the fresh vegetables which finally start to grow. The tomatoes and cucumbers start to taste strong again and yesterday I bought my first bottle of rosé wine of the year, another sign of the official start of the new season!

From now on, I could just live of pasta, vegetables, simple dishes which sparkle through the ripe flavours of their ingredients, basically Italian cooking which refines minimal dishes to perfection and celebrates each single element of a dish. A great example are gnocchi. After I ate my own, homemade gnocchi for the first time I couldn’t enjoy the store bought ones anymore. The dough is so easy to make, potato and nutmeg as the dominant flavours, flour, eggs, butter, salt and pepper mixed together and shaped into little gnocchi. Far less complicated than homemade pasta as long as one rule is obeyed, the potatoes must have cooled off before mixed with the flour. Apart from that it’s an unbelievably easy dinner and so delicious that some sage leaves fried in olive oil and some grated parmesan would be enough to make me happy. If only there wasn’t this amazing blue cheese sauce that I fell in love with a couple years ago. It’s smooth but aromatic, cooked with garlic, onions, parsley, juniper berries, cloves and bay leaf which are taken out before the blue cheese is mixed in. I use Fourme d’Ambert cheese from the Auvergne region in France which is creamy but very strong in taste, the gnocchi just need to be glazed with the sauce, enough to enjoy all the intense aromas.

In January I made my wintery gnocchi with pumpkin and potatoes and a walnut pesto. Sometimes I mix spinach into my gnocchi dough which I have to make again, soon, as there is nice and crunchy spinach at the moment!

Gnocchi with Blue Cheese Sauce

Gnocchi with a Fourme d’Ambert Blue Cheese Sauce

It’s best to use floury potatoes with a fluffy and dry texture for the gnocchi dough. Keep in mind that you don’t mix the flour with the cooked potatoes unless they are absolutely cold.

For 2-3 people you need

For the Blue Cheese Sauce

small onion, chopped, 1
garlic, cut in half, 1
butter 30g / 1 ounce
milk 125ml
heavy cream 125ml
white wine 150ml
parsley 3 sprigs
cloves 2
juniper berries 2
bay leaf 1
black peppercorns 4
blue cheese such as Fourme d’Ambert 45g / 2 ounces

In a sauce pan, fry the onions and garlic in butter until golden and soft, add the other ingredients except the blue cheese and bring to the boil. Let it simmer for 10 minutes on medium heat, pour through a sieve and add the cheese. When the cheese has melted, let the sauce simmer for 5-8 minutes on low heat until it starts to thicken slightly. Season with salt and pepper.


For the Gnocchi

potatoes, cut into cubes, 450g / 16 ounces
butter 30g / 1 ounce
organic egg yolks 2
plain flour 125g / 4.5 ounces
nutmeg, grated, to taste
salt 1 1/2 teaspoons
black pepper, grated, to taste

Cook the the potatoes in salted water until soft (around 15 minutes). Drain them when they are done. Press the drained potatoes through a potato ricer and mix immediately with the butter and egg yolks. Put in a cool place (in the fridge) until the mixture is completely cool.

In a large pot, bring plenty of salted water to the boil. Set the oven to 100°C / 210°F and put an ovenproof dish inside. You will need it to keep the gnocchi warm while you cook them in batches.

With a spoon (or your hands), mix the cold potato mixture with the flour, salt, nutmeg and pepper until combined. Dust your hands with flour and roll the dough – in batches – into sausage shapes on a well floured working surface and cut off 3x3cm / 1×1″gnocchi. If you like you can roll them on a fork for the typical gnocchi pattern. Put them onto a floured baking sheet.

Cook your gnocchi in batches in the boiling water so that they can float. After 3 minutes, when they start to come up and float on the surface take them out with a slotted ladle and drain them. Keep them in the warm dish in the oven until you are done with the last batch.

Arrange the gnocchi on plates and pour some of the blue cheese sauce over them.

Gnocchi with Blue Cheese Sauce


Gnocchi with Blue Cheese Sauce


Gnocchi with Blue Cheese Sauce

Wild Garlic Soup to start off the Spring

Wild Garlic Soup

Walking through the forest is one thing I miss the most living in the city. Its earthy smell, the musty air captured by the trees changing with the seasons makes me feel at home. Especially in spring, when the green comes out again and everything smells light and fresh with the first flowers starting to blossom. I want to walk on soft soil watching nature unraveling around me!

One of the most distinct smells you can find at the moment when walking though a European forest close to a river or lake is the smell of garlic, wild garlic. Coming from a little plant which covers the ground in large areas and looks similar to lilies of the valley. It’s a wild relative of chives also known as ramps, ramsons, buckrams, wood garlic or bear’s garlic as they must be quite taken by it. In taste it’s similar to chives but with a unique touch to it, spicy, a bit like garlic but fresher, more “green”. The leaves are best when young and fresh, great in pesto, soups or to spice up other vegetables and meat.

I’m totally with the bears, I love cooking with it and when I spotted it at the market I got excited and had lots of recipes on my mind. Inspiration for the weeks to come! I will start with a tangy but smooth soup, the leaves of two bunches of wild garlic, potatoes, onion and a few spring onions on top. It doesn’t take much to make this springy soup of the forest!

Wild Garlic Soup

Wild Garlic Soup

For 4 people you need

wild garlic, rinsed and stems cut off, the leaves of 2 bunches (around 100g / 3.5 ounces)
potatoes, cut into cubes, 750g / 1.5 pounds
onions, chopped 2
water 1500ml
heavy cream 180ml
salt and pepper
olive oil for frying
spring onion, cut into thin slices, 1 for topping

In a large pot, bring the water to the boil and cook the wild garlic for 2 minutes. Take it out with a slotted ladle, rinse under cold water for a few seconds but keep the boiled water! Fry the onions in some oil until golden, add the potatoes, some salt and the water used to cook the wild garlic and cook for 12 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Add the wild garlic and cream and mix in a blender till smooth. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with spring onions when served on plates.

A warming Soup with Chestnuts, Cinnamon and Thyme

Chestnut Soup

For this soup I appreciate the convenience of vacuum packed peeled chestnuts – even though I love the romantic, wintery atmosphere when you bake them in the oven and they fill the air with the smell of their burned peel. I need quite a few nuts for my recipe and with so many to peel, the thought of burnt fingers puts me off. I want a soup without major frustration and injury, so I bought them pre-cooked and peeled. This is a quick soup, relaxed cooking and I didn’t want to change that.

I had a velvety soup in mind, smooth and a bit sweet, enhanced with some cinnamon and thyme. I wasn’t sure if the chestnuts would be too overpowering so I added a few cooked potatoes. When you have a nice broth on hand, the preparation only takes a few minutes. All you need to do is fry an onion in a little oil, add the chestnuts, potatoes, cinnamon and thyme and heat everything together with the broth, some cream, salt and pepper. When you have everything together, mix it in a blender.

As a main for 2 I used 250g / 9 ounces chestnuts, 3 medium sized cooked potatoes (cut into cubes), 1 large onion (chopped and fried in olive oil), 600ml of broth, 1 tablespoon of heavy cream, seasoned with 1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon plus salt and black pepper to taste. Fill into bowls and if you like sprinkle with chestnut crumbles, cinnamon and thyme.



Potato Porcini Gratin with Raclette and Thyme

Potato Porcini Gratin

Imagine bubbling Raclette cheese, golden potatoes, earthy Porcini and aromatic thyme and you have all the strong but well balanced flavours of my hearty gratin. Add some cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg and you’re pretty much done. It’s a quick one, the potatoes are boiled already and I used dried Porcini which only had to soak for a couple minutes. Normally I make my gratin with raw potatoes, sliced very thinly, several layers stacked on top of each other with cheese in between. It takes longer to prepare and to cook, I didn’t have the time so I went for a quicker one.

I like to cook with dried Porcini. It’s convenient as you can use them all year round and they are really tasty, even more intense than the fresh ones. I always use the liquid after I soak them in water as it absorbs lots of the mushroom’s taste. It’s great for risotto or, in my case, to mix with the cream. It makes a lighter sauce than my usual gratin milk and cream mixture. I add some thyme which is the perfect herb for Porcini (parsley also fits well but the thick thyme leaves give it this nice wintery touch). I cut the potato slices quite thick, I don’t want them to become mushy when they soak a bit of the sauce. To finish it off it just needs some strong meltable cheese sprinkled on top. Swiss Raclette became one of my my favourites over the past years as it tastes really strong. I don’t like to drown my poor food under piles of cheese for a bit of taste, I rather use less of a good and aromatic one.

Potato Porcini Gratin

Potato Porcini Gratin

For 4 people as a side dish, or for 2 as a main, you need

boiled potatoes, cut into thick slices, 800g / 1 1/2 pound
dried Porcini, soaked in 120ml of warm water, chopped, 20g / 1 ounce
(keep the water, you will need 100ml for the sauce)
heavy cream 100ml
Raclette cheese, grated, 50g / 2 ounces
thyme leaves of 2-3 sprigs
salt and black pepper
nutmeg, ground
olive oil to brush the baking dish

Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F.

Arrange the potato slices in the oiled baking dish. Mix the cream, Porcini water, chopped Porcini, cheese and thyme leaves. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and pour over the potatoes. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden. At that point you can also put the gratin under the grill for a couple minutes so that the cheese becomes a bit crisp.

Potato Porcini Gratin

Crispy Latke with Curry and Orange Cream

Pumpkin Hash Brown

It’s been a beautiful January morning. Blue sky, the air is crisp and clean and much to my surprise glowing with sunshine! I went to the park to enjoy the first sunny morning in 2014 and it felt like spring. This calls for a celebration, something equally warming and shiny on my plate: fried golden latke. I make mine with Hokkaido pumpkin and potatoes, a home made curry mixture and an orange, cinnamon flavoured cream.

At this time of the year, I often cook with my own curry mixtures. I guess it’s the cold, my body appreciates warming spices like cayenne and turmeric. For my pumpkin – potato mixture, I prepare a curry mixture that is not too hot, despite the inclusion of cayenne. I want strong flavours, but more on the sweet side, like cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. The cream gives a lighter feel to this meal, its milky sourness is a refreshing counterpoint to the fried latkes, the orange zest and spices reinforce it.

Pumpkin Hash Brown

Spicy Pumpkin and Potato Latke with an Orange Cream

I use around 600g / 21 ounces peeled potatoes and 400g / 14 ounces pumpkin for my latke mixture which is enough for 3 – 4 people:

For the latke

Hokkaido pumpkin (or any other pumpkin), grated, 400g / 14 ounces
(with peel, just scoop out the seeds and fibre)
potatoes, peeled, grated, 600g / 21 ounces
onion, peeled, grated, 2
plain flour 12 tablespoons plus more for mixing
organic eggs 3
salt 3 teaspoons
vegetable oil for frying

for the curry mixture (for the latke)
cayenne pepper, ground, 1/4 teaspoon
coriander seeds, ground, 1/2 teaspoon
black pepper, ground, 1/2 teaspoon
turmeric, ground, 1/2 teaspoon
cumin, ground, 1/4 teaspoon
cardamom, ground, 1/4 teaspoon
cinnamon, ground, 1/4 teaspoon
3 cloves, ground in a mortar

 For the cream

cream cheese 150g / 5 ounces
heavy cream 4 tablespoons
plain yoghurt 4 tablespoons
orange zest 3 teaspoons
a pinch of salt
a pinch of cayenne pepper (ground)
a pinch of cinnamon (ground)
a pinch of cardamom (ground)

Mix all the ingredients for the cream and season to taste.

Squeeze out the grated potatoes, pumpkin and onions and dry between kitchen paper (in batches) until you get most of the liquid out. Mix all the ingredients for the latke, add more flour if the mixture is too moist.

Heat a good amount of oil in a large cast iron pan. Form pancake shaped latkes and fry them in the hot oil, 1-1 1/2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Take down the heat if they get too dark. When the latke is done, remove excess oil with kitchen paper and keep in a warm oven until you finish your last batch. Serve together with the cream.

A Celebration of Roots, Garlicky Potatoes and Gingery Rutabaga


This meal celebrates roots in all their variety. On one side, mashed potatoes which are absolutely addictive, combined with garlic and lemon.  The mash is fluffy, it is tasty and it is so good that you don’t really need anything else with it but I want another root on the plate: rutabaga (also known as swede). This root gets spiced up with ginger as the two flavors combine perfectly.

Winter is the time for roots and I love to try out different variations otherwise I wouldn’t be able to eat it for so many months. But there is so much you can do with it! You just have to be a bit brave and play around with it. The potato-garlic-lemon idea came up because we love mash potatoes (also in the very basic version) but I thought it would be nice to add some favors to make it more suitable for other, more extreme combinations like the gingery rutabaga for example. Together with garlic and lemon we can still have our mash on the plate even when there are more exotic roots involved!


Mashed Potatoes with Garlic and Lemon and Gingery Rutabaga

For two people you need

For the mash (the amounts are a rough guideline)

medium potatoes, cooked, 6
clove of garlic, crushed, 1
juice of half a lemon
olive oil, 2-3 tablespoons
butter, 30g / 1 ounce
milk, around 150-200ml
salt and pepper

Heat up all the ingredients in a pot on medium heat and mash. If the mixture becomes too dry add more milk, if it is too liquid let it cook a bit more. Season with salt and pepper.

For the rutabaga

one small rutabaga, peeled
ginger, grated, a thumbnail sized piece
olive oil for frying
white wine for deglazing
salt and pepper

Cut the rutabaga in very thin slices (about 2mm). Cut these slices in strips (1cm / 1/2″) and cut these strips in 2-3cm / 1″ pieces (see my first picture for the shape).

Heat up the oil in a pan, add the rutabaga and let it become golden. Add the ginger, fry for a minute and deglaze with the wine. Add salt and pepper and a splash of water if necessary (the liquid should come up to 2cm / 1″), close with a lid and let it cook on medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Check the rutabaga in between as it shouldn’t get too soft and season with salt and pepper if necessary.