Month of June: “My Berlin Kitchen” Recipe: Kartoffelsalat (Potato Salad)

Ingredients: 2 pounds of Yukon gold potatoes (I used petite golden), 3.5 tablespoons of butter, 2 yellow onions finely chopped, 1/3 cup of white wine vinegar, 2/3 cup of beef or chicken broth, 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, freshly ground pepper, 2/3 cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley, minced.

  1. Wash the potatoes and put them in a pot of salted water just to cover. Boil with lid on and reduce heat to medium and cook until just tender. Depending on the size could be 20-30 minutes. Drain and cool. Per Luisa, Germans boil their potatoes the night before believing it helps retain a good shape. I might try that next time.
  2. Peel potatoes and cut in 1/8 inch slices (mine were bigger and they were fine.)
  3. Melt butter in 10 inch saute pan and add onions, mixing well and cook about 3 minutes. Add vinegar, broth, mustard, stir well making sure the mustard blends, about 3 minutes or less.
  4. Carefully whisk in the oil, pour hot dressing over potatoes and mix well. It takes a few minutes for dressing to absorb into the potatoes. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Finish with parsley.

Month of June: Book: “My Berlin Kitchen” Recipe: Ragu alla Bolognese (Beef Ragu)

Here is the Ragu 5 hours in….

I decided to go for comfort today. What’s more comforting than a bowl of spaghetti, homemade sauce and grated parmasean cheese? This recipe for ragu bolognese will not disappoint. The flavors all come together like magic. Like the way our lives come together over time.

Like the way it takes time, lots of time, to have a good friend. I cried about Abby today. I still miss her. She was so extraordinary! Open, authentic, honest, flawed, creative, adventurous, witty, compassionate, daring, outrageous, loyal and so perfectly herself. I was so lucky to be loved by her and to love her for 35 years. We were deeply connected, yet comfortably separate. And by that I mean, free to be ourselves! It was a beautifully precious gift. I didn’t fully realize how rare it was, until after she was gone.

Ragu alla Bolognese

1 tablespoon each of olive oil and butter, 1 large onion and 2 large carrots finely minced in equal proportions, 1 pound of ground beef and 1 pound of ground pork, 1/2 cup red wine, 28 ounce can of pureed and peeled San Marzano tomatoes, 1 teaspoon of salt

1.Put the oil and butter in large cast iron pan. I used my Le Creuset. Add onion and soften about 7 minutes, but do not let the onion color. Then add carrots and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Stir.

2. Add the ground beef and pork. Raise the heat to medium high and using a spoon break of the clumps of meat until if breaks down uniformly. Cook until there is no pink but do not brown. About 8-10 minutes.

3. Add the wine and stir. Simmer 2-3 minutes.

4. Add tomatoes and salt, stir well. Lower heat to lowest setting, put on lid and let the sauce simmer for as long as you can. Per Luisa Weiss, 7 hours would be wonderful, 5 is pretty good, but anything less than 3 and you are missing out. The longer is cooks the richer it gets.

I had time for 5.5 hours and it was delicious.

Month of June: Book “My Berlin Kitchen” by Luisa Weiss. Recipe: Poppy Seed Whirligig Buns.

  • I thought I would start out June with My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss because her wonderful book gave me the idea to start this project to honor my friend. Weiss has a blog called “the wednesday chef” and she has been faithfully sharing her food since 2005. Check it out! It’s good. Julie Powell was the first person I had heard of years ago and I thought her idea was brilliant and in the back of my mind, I wondered, “Could I ever do a food blog?” And here I am. And you know what? It doesn’t matter if it is well received or not, because I just have to do it. To save myself. Luisa explains that Germans love their breakfasts, apparently A LOT. I have Germanic DNA and I like breakfast so why not give them a whirl? No bun intended. Next I just spent a bit of time struggling with the yeast. Are most home cooks afraid of yeast? I am fairly intimidated by this little fungus. It’s silly when I allow myself to think about this. However, I bought fresh yeast. The color seemed off, it was gray brown and the yeast smell was not 100% pleasant. Can this be right? I added it to the lukewarm milk and sugar but nothing! Dead. How fitting. I had purchased dry yeast packets, as a back up, but I selected the rapid rise which doesn’t need to be activated in liquid so I just now went back to the store and purchased the active yeast. I was determined. I have the day to myself. No reason to hurry. Beginner’s mind…time to understand yeast. It’s time to understand this grief. I followed the directions on the package (hmmm…a good start) instead of the recipe and guess what? Activation! Life! The dough came out pliable and supple. I was pleased. The result was delicious in my humble opinion. The poppy seed “pudding filling” was a cinnamony lemony flavor that contrasted nicely with the yeasty bread. I would definitely make these again. Thanks Luisa! (and Laurie for thinking I might enjoy the read!!) Your book means more to me that words can say.

Poppy Seed Whirligig Buns (slight adaptions)

Yeast dough: 3/4 cup whole milk, 1/4 ounce of fresh yeast or 1 package dry, 1/4 cup sugar, 4 cups all purpose flour, 2 large eggs, 4 tablespoons softened unsalted butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling: 2 cups whole milk, grated lemon peel of 1/2 lemon, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/3 cup sugar, pinch of salt, 1/3 cup semolina, 1 cup fresh poppy seeds

  1. First make the dough. Heat the milk until lukewarm, add yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar to activate the yeast. Stir and let stand until mixture starts to get foamy.
  2. Pour the flour into a large bowl, add sugar, then begin to stir incorporating with each stir, Add eggs, butter and salt. Begin kneading with hands within the bowl. It will be sticky, don’t worry. Dump onto a lightly floured counter and knead 3-5 minutes until smooth.
  3. Wash out bowl, dry and rub butter into bowl, add dough and let rise until double in a draft free area, about an hour or more.
  4. Make the filling: Put milk in 2 quart saucepan over medium head, add lemon zest, cinnamon, vanilla, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil and then SLOWLY add semolina making sure to whisk while adding. Cook 1 minute stirring all the time. Then add poppy seeds and mix well. Important: Make sure you find fresh poppy seeds, don’t use the ones that have been sitting in your kitchen for years. Remove from heat and let cool.
  5. Punch down dough and knead again. Roll out into a large rectangle with rolling pin to 1/2 inch thickness. Spread the cool poppy seed mixture on top evenly almost to edges. Roll up dough lengthwise into a log and wrap tightly in aluminum foil and freeze for 1 hour.
  6. Butter two 9 or 10 inch cake pans or sheet pan. Remove log from freezer and discard foil. Cut the log into 1.5 inch thick slices. Place in buttered pans and let rise for 45 minutes with a towel to cover. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  7. Mix one egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of milk together and brush buns with mixture. Bake 30 minutes or until golden.
  8. Per Luisa, buns are best the same day they are made. If you want to keep them, wrap the baked cooled buns in foil, in a freezer bag, freeze. Defrost unwrapped in 300 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Welcome to My New Food Blog

Warning: Not for the faint of heart.

Welcome to a food blog that is born out of loss. In it, I will cook my way through grief. My name is Becca. On May 19th, 2018 my best friend Abby died unexpectedly leaving me forever changed. This blog is a creative solo exercise in honoring her memory and healing my way forward through the comfort of a kitchen, a physical space where I feel safe and in control. I am a home cook with a knack for finding exceptional recipes. The kitchen I will post from is in a studio apartment I leased for one year starting in June 2019. I do not live there. I cook there. I have chosen 12 cookbooks from my library and I will cook and bake my way through as many recipes as possible each month, from each book. The catch: each post will be a first trial recipe. Like life…no practice run. The idea is to begin with the books I have collected over the years but never had the time to seriously explore and learn. And what also occurred to me in this grief process is the importance to practice presence with what I already internally possess. I don’t need anything more than a beginner’s mind and an open heart. That feels like an authentic launching point. Abby would be pleased. Here I go. Let’s get cooking!

  • June: My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss
  • July: Purple Citrus Sweet Perfume by Silvena Rowe
  • August: Tassajara Bread Book by Edward Espe Brown
  • September: 660 Curries by Raghaven Iyer
  • October: Market Cooking David Tanis
  • November: Tender by Nigel Slater
  • December: Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat
  • January: Together: Our Community Kitchen
  • February: Truly Mexican by Roberto Santibanez
  • March: Ottolenghi
  • April: Marion Cunningham’s Good Eating
  • May: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan