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This brilliant recipe was given to us by James, one of this weekend’s diners, and had he not reminded me that I was looking for recipes, I would have forgotten to get the guest book out once again… so thank you James, for reminding me, for bringing a recipe, for bringing your wife and for being such lovely guests.
Taken from ‘The Stag Cookbook’, a 1922 classic which teaches cooking to men ‘weakened by a fire of feminine raillery & sarcasm’, I give you (via James):
Hudson Maxim – Spaghetti
Take one package of vermicelli or spaghetti, and put it into a saucepan, crushing it in the hand, then put in hot water, and salt a little more than will suit the taste, and boil for an hour.
While the vermicelli or spaghetti is cooking, take a quart of milk and heart three-quarters – or 24 ounces – of it until it boils. Then stir into the eight ounces of cold milk a level cupful of flour, or two tablespoonfuls of flour, pretty well heaped, and then stir the thickened milk into the boiling milk and cook slowly for ten minutes.
Then add three-quarters of a pound of good, ripe, old American cheese, and about half a pound of butter. Then drain the water off the vermicelli or spaghetti and put in from one and one half pints to a quart of canned tomatoes. Heat the vermicelli or spaghetti to the boiling point; and while the mixture of cheese, butter, milk and flour is still hot, stir the two together, then keep hot and serve hot. Do not boil any more, because further boiling would tend to cause the tomatoes to coagulate the milk in the mixture. I prefer to use a mixture of vermicelli and spaghetti instead of all spaghetti or all vermicelli.
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Well, I’m not sure what the health authorities would say about ‘ a little more salt than will suit the taste’, but I think any recipe that calls for ‘good, ripe, old American cheese’ has got to be a winner. Picture me, later in the week, in my local German supermarket asking for ‘old American cheese’. Wonderful. I’m also pleased to see that they advice against cooking the pasta for longer than an hour. Because, quite clearly, 60 minutes is the perfect length of time to boil pasta.
I promised you ‘Mammy’s Lemon Cake’, and it IS coming – I just need some more time to translate it from the original German.
What is your favourite book on food – that isn’t a cook book? Do you have a cherished tome you turn to when your culinary intellect needs stimulating?
I love Alix Kates Shulman’s Drinking The Rain - in fact so much that I have read it over fifty times in the last ten years – which is not really a book about food per se, but food is definitely a theme; finding it, preparing it, enjoying it.
Other people have recommended Isabel Allende’s Aphrodite, which I haven’t read yet, and I’ve also heard that Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes From My Kitchen Table is supposed to be wonderful (and if it’s anything like her blog, Orangette, it definitely will be).
Have you got any favourites?
Another interesting (read: slightly strange) recipe from this weekend comes from Viola, born and raised in the Treptow district of East Berlin. Viola and her friend headed into the Berlin night with Johan (of the ‘summer soup Granny style’) and his friend after dinner on Saturday, and from what I gather it was a pretty late night. Love it when that happens.
Unfortunately, I think Viola was struggling a little to write by the candle light from the table, and so this recipe is somewhat of an approximation of the actual thing (and also translated from the German…) – forgive me if it doesn’t totally make sense (and thank you Viola)!
- 1-2 green gherkins
- 3-4 tomatoes
- low fat bacon
- mince meat
Fry the bacon, add the tomatoes + pepper and salt, cook for a long time, add the gherkins, at the end add meat balls (mince meat + onions + eggs shaped into balls) -> ready! Guten Appetit!
Though I do enjoy the brevity of this recipe – it’s so easy! Just add some things, cook for ‘a long time’, and then, suddenly, it’s ready! – there are just one too many question marks over this one… Like, don’t you have to fry the meat balls first? Or do they just go in with the tomatoes? And what about the eggs?
It is a pretty well known fact that those East Germans loved their Spreewald Gurken (you can read a little more about them here) but I’m still not wholly convinced. Maybe you had to be there. Or maybe someone can enlighten me on the enduring lure of the Gurke?
With the weather here in Berlin at an all-time low, what you really need on a cold Sunday evening is a nice, hearty pot of lovely ‘chicken alla left-over’ (well, what you really need is an excuse to open that bottle of 2005 Volnay you brought back from last year’s holiday in France). And voila! Sunday is saved.
For two really hungry people, you will need:
- four chicken breasts
-fresh rosemary, sage and thyme
-about 250g fresh vine tomatoes
-two glasses of white wine
-a drizzle of balsamic vinegar
-a couple of bay leaves
-about five slices of Serrano ham
-three small anchovies
-salt, pepper, chili powder
-two fat cloves garlic
-dried mushrooms, soaked in boiling water for about 15 minutes
Turn your oven on to 200 degrees.
Halve your chicken breasts and fry them in a little olive oil until lightly coloured but not cooked all the way through. Set aside to cool a little.
Quarter your tomatoes and put in a lidded casserole (I love my Le Creuset wannabe from Ikea). Throw in your herbs, crushed garlic, wine, mushrooms, balsamic vinegar and anchovies, mix it all up and season well.
Once your chicken has cooled a little, wrap each piece in some Serrano ham and tuck in to the casserole. Put the lid on and bung it in the oven for about an hour.
Open a bottle of wine you’ve had for much too long and enjoy a glass whilst the sweet, rustic cooking smells fill your kitchen. Maybe put some jazz on that your lovely friend in Barcelona sent you in the post. Or the final movement of Mahler’s 7th.
Set the table and marvel at the fact that the sun finally came out to show its face, just before 8pm. Serve with bread, mashed potatoes, quinoa, pasta – whichever carbs take your fancy (we had leftover bread from last night – very nice to soak up the lovely liquid left in your casserole). Be transported to the south of France. Remember the earth, and the colour of the water in the Tarn, and the sun on your skin.
Afterwards, if you’re not too full, you might stroll down the street and buy an ice cream from the tiny shop with the bright pink facade, or you might just sit on your sofa and dream and relax and enjoy the rest of the evening.
Just had a last minute cancellation for four places tomorrow night (Sat) at 8pm. Get in touch if you’re up for some food and wine in the company of at least three different nationalities!
Great night tonight. It’s a lovely feeling sending eight full and happy people out into the Berlin night (though it is an awfully cold night – three degrees! THREE! This is supposed to be summer, right?). Such a good crowd – and there’s some recipes coming up as well!
Here’s some weekend food inspiration to brighten your days until we’re back on Monday, hopefully with some recipes and stories from our dinners!
Here is a lovely recipe for sea bass gravlax from Keiko at the beautiful food and photo blog Nordljus – just the sort of thing to bring back the sunny weather.
I am dying to try Clotilde’s Lemon Thyme Creme Brulee. And she makes it all sound so easy…
Have a great weekend, and drop us a line if you’d like to come over for dinner!
(Update: here’s Jorge’s post on secret restaurants!)
… when we have to turn people away! So please, if you would like to come and join us for the new spring menu, we recommend that you try to book a few weeks in advance. We’d love to have you over!
The next available dates we have are Friday, May 15th (two places), and May 22nd, May 23rd and May 24th.
See you soon!
We’re just getting ready to put our spring menu together and have a couple of tough decisions to make.
Mint-cured fillet of lamb with goat’s cheese and salad or vodka-marinated salmon with blue cheese and apple?
Scallops and orange sauce or veal tartar with Swedish mustard?
And, most importantly, milk chocolate brulee or berry snow? Or even cheese and fig chutney?
If you want to taste the outcome of these tricky dilemmas, send us an email to make your reservation…
In the meantime, we are still serving our popular March/April menu!
There are still a couple of spaces free for our dinner this Friday and Saturday – send us an email to make a booking!
Thank you, we’re booked out now - our next available date is Friday, April 17th. Get in touch!