Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cooking in Keith's Berlin Kitchen

This is Keith's kitchen.
The second day I was in Berlin Keith and I went on a major shop to the Turkish Market, I was swept away by all the options and kept seeing eggplants, peppers and tomatoes and decided to make a variation on ratatouille.

I'm not feeling my best, still a little jet lagged and recovery from a nasty stomach flu I was a little overly ambitious with this meal, but nonetheless it was fun and mostly edible.This is Franny (on the left) and Stella (on the right) they were our moral support throughout the preparation of dinner and then when we were eating managed to keep a respectful distance. Are they gorgeous?Here's me focusing on chopping.I peeled the eggplant and added a few teaspoons of salt, tossed it and let it sit for 30 minute in a colander in a large bowl in order to extract the moisture from it (about 4 large eggplants). Then I rinsed and dried the eggplant and added thick slices of plum tomatoes (about 8) and tossed them with salt, pepper, olive oil and lots of thinly sliced garlic.
Keith doesn't have a cookie sheet so I improvised and used double layered tin foil, spreading the prepared veg out in a single layer I cooked it on high heat until the tomatoes shriveled and slightly charred. I had to do it in two rounds.In putting them into the casserole dish I did a layer of eggplant, then a layer of tomatoes, sprinkling lots of fresh Thyme on each layer as I went.On top of the roasted tomatoes and eggplant I added a layer of sauteed leeks (4)Then layered roasted red pepper on top (2 large red peppers)
We got art director-ish here, but mostly this is just to show off Keith's lush window box filled with Thyme (which I used in abundance in the lasagna) Sage and Rosemary.
Notice how the shape of the mustard jar is the same as the wine glass? All of Keith's wine glasses are a result of his love of mustard and recycling. "Mustard Glass" just make sure you pronounce it clearly, God forbid someone in Berlin were to hear "Mustard Gas" ;-)

So while all of the tomatoes and eggplant where roasting I made a bechamel sauce, to which I added about 3/4 cup of cheese (Gruyere mostly and a little bit of Parmesan).Then for good measure I grated some more on top then baked it until it was bubbling and browned.
Here it is with the odd quick yeast bread I made. You won't often see the words quick and yeast and in truth I started it too late and was working with the wet European yeast that comes in a cube wrapped in tin foil which needs to be refrigerated? In the end it was a fine thing to use to soak up and the richness and juiciness of the lasagna.
The Peaches at the market looked so good that I decided a gingered peach shortbread tart would be a good idea, served, appropriately, mitt schlag.

The first problem was I didn't buy enough butter and had to send Keith's friend Harald out to get some, which after 8 is tricky in Berlin, it took him so long I was afraid we might have to send out a search party.

At this point Keith and I had been drinking some wine and not really paying attention to the temperature of the oven.

Harald brought a bottle of Juliusspital a traditional German red wine. My first thought when I was the bottle before I saw the label was that he's brought Casal Mendes (the vaguely sweet, ubiquitous, rose wine of my teenage years in Hamilton, Ontario where I grew up. I see now in searching for it they have changed the bottle and gotten all modern on me) I was relieved to see it was not, but instead this:Anyway back to the oven, I had been roasting the eggplants at 250 - Celsius! And didn't think to turn it down for the shortbread. A bad idea.

Add in that I was using tin foil as my baking dish and had decided to use the drip pan at the bottom of the oven to place the uncooked shortbread on, because I thought, it would offer more stability and well...this:
Became this:
The peach ginger shortbread had a burnt bottom, but even though it was an embarrassment to me did end up being edible, the perfectionist who wanted to make a good impression cringes at this, but hey, what are you going to do? Oh and we also had an arugula salad, which was over dressed, but the arugula was very hardy with crunchy stems so it worked out fine.

The whipped cream called for some resourcefulness as Keith doesn't have a whisk or beater. He had asked Harald to bring his whisk, but there was a German language problem and Harald thought Keith had asked for a leveling tool. An honest mistake I'm sure...

At first I tried a fork......which was a very slow proposition, then Harald suggested shaking it in a container with a lid on it like his Mother used to it. Presto Chango and we had whipped cream (and a bit of a mess as the lid wasn't as sealed tight as we thought).

It's always fun to cook in foreign lands in strange kitchens and even when things do go wrong it's usually not something that can't be salvage by adding some whipped cream or drink 5 bottles of wine. The point really is that I got to spend the day and night catching up with an old friend and making a new one in Harald.

And finally this is Keith, whose kitchen it is and who took all these lovely pictures.

1 comment:

Philip said...

sounds like an amazing trip!

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