Galettes are my favorite things to bake, because they are so easy. They can be sweet or savory, with fruits or vegetables, vegan or with butter. In the summer, they are obviously a perfect way to eat lots of summer fruit. Plums, nectarines, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, apricots or figs all work great as toppings. Serve it with ice cream or whipped cream if you like.
Freekeh is one of the best grains out there. It has a lot of fiber and a nutty but fresh taste. This is probably because it’s wheat that has been harvested when still young. The dried wheat is then carefully burnt, so the seeds remain intact. This is what gives them their special flavor. Freekeh is a typically middle eastern food, but in Germany we have a very similar thing called Gruenkern, which is spelt processed in a similar way. Gruenkern is one of the foods of my childhood, it’s actually delicious! Today I mostly eat it in salads, such as this one, which has a nice mix of flavors and textures with the fresh figs and the roasted aubergine. The tahini dressing is my new favorite, it’s good in everything but goes especially well with this salad I find.
Socca is a delicious, light but flavorful chickpea-flour pancake from Southern France (and similar things exist in other countries of course, Italy for example, where it’s called farinata). It’s actually street food, so it’s simple and easy to make and tastes great even without any special toppings. A little ground cumin in the dough helps to enhance the slightly earthy chickpea flavor, and sea salt and olive oil round it off.
I’ve never eaten this in France unfortunately but made it at home several times, thanks to David Lebovitz, one of my favorite bloggers and cookbook authors, who has a perfect recipe that works every time. I won’t repeat it here, just go to his website (http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2009/06/socca-enfin/) and find everything you need there. The socca is best made in the oven under the grill, and I like it if it becomes crispy or even slightly burnt on top.
For the variation with the avocados and the peas shown here, make the socca as indicated (I halved the recipe and used two small cast iron skillets, but of course it will work just as well with more dough in one larger pan), then top it with sliced avocados, quickly blanched fresh peas, fresh mint leaves, a little sumac, sea salt, lemon juice and a few drops of olive oil.
A bit like with pizza, of course there are countless ways to prepare socca, to create variations of the dough (I noticed for example that rosemary is often used instead of the cumin), or of the toppings – like this beautiful one with a fresh salad, or this here made by my friend Alex, with delicious looking lentils and cucumbers, or this one with elegant figs and parmesan. Delicious!
The last few weeks have been quite eventful for me and I can’t wait for the beginning of the summer break. In such exciting and hectic times it’s nice if something works out without much effort or any trouble, as was the case with this improvisational vegan recipe, which resulted in a not only edible but delicious cake. It is sweetened only with raw cane sugar and rice syrup and contains (soy) yogurt instead of eggs and olive oil instead of butter. The rhubarb is roasted for a few minutes first, so it becomes a little sweeter, even though I really like the special slightly sour taste of rhubarb.
A little update: there are different views when it comes to peeling rhubarb, or not. Generally, the younger, pinkish, slim stalks don’t need to be peeled – I didn’t peel the rhubarb here and it was ok. But if you’re using the greener, older and thicker stalks you may want to peel them (e.g. with a potato peeler) or at least make sure to pull off the strings that come off when trimming the ends, so they’re easier to eat.
Just in time before the season is over, a white asparagus recipe. I had this first at a friend’s birthday party, it had been prepared by another guest and was absolutely delicious. It’s strange how well white asparagus and cilantro go together, two things I would have never considered combining until I tried this pasta dish. The cilantro somehow enhances the asparagus and both flavors come out clear and strong. Even better, it only takes a handful of ingredients. I used whole spelt noodles here, but regular spaghetti work just as well of course. Too bad white asparagus season lasts just a few short weeks…
Spring seems to have finally arrived in Berlin, just when – as every year – the cold and grey skies began to feel almost unbearable. Now the city is exploding with green and flowering trees and the collective mood seems to brighten a bit. In tune with this transition, the salad here is a delicious and energizing spring dish; the addition of mint makes it light and fresh, whereas the sweet potatoes with the cinnamon give it a nice sugary note. Lately I started mixing grains into my salads and bulgur is one of my favorites in this regard since it’s light and fluffy but still substantial enough. And leafy greens are something we should probably all eat more of. The vinaigrette of lemon and olive oil is probably my favorite dressing, and healthy too. You can of course omit the feta cheese to make the salad vegan, or maybe add some smoked tofu instead.
This is a delicious, rather wintery stew. The spinach adds a nice and fresh note to balance all the earthy flavors of the beets, mushrooms and lentils. Beluga lentils are among my favorite kinds of lentils because they stay firm even when cooked and have a light nutty flavor. They are great also in salads, and in fact this dish works as a cold salad as well, maybe with a little added olive oil and lemon juice.
This is a very simple and fast recipe for a warming winter breakfast porridge. It uses spelt semolina and is ready in just a few minutes. In fact, semolina, or Grießbrei in German, is something I haven’t eaten since my childhood, and then I didn’t like it at all. I’m glad I rediscovered it though because it’s actually quite delicious, especially with the vanilla! Of course it can be adjusted in terms of the fruit you add, depending on what is in season. If you want to make it vegan, just use almond or oat milk.
Recently I watched Gabrielle Hamilton make a particularly delicious-looking dish on ‘The Mind of a Chef’. She chargrilled aubergines over the open flame of a gas burner, then turned them into a simple but sumptuous spread with lemon juice, olive oil, parsley and freshly-baked flatbread. Around the same time a friend told me about an Ottolenghi/ Tamimi recipe for burnt aubergine soup. I decided to give those aubergines a try and ended up with this pumpkin-sweet potato-aubergine mix. It’s a warming, spicy and smooth soup, perfect for chilly autumn days. I didn’t dare roasting aubergines over the open flame in my kitchen but instead chose to grill them in the oven, which achieves – I find – the same result: the burnt aubergine has a light smokey flavor, which is a perfect complement to the sweetness of the pumpkin and the deep aroma of the za’atar. Try it, I’m sure you will love it!