James Beard Award-winner “Eat In My Kitchen” review

Berlin-based Meike Peters’ lifelong love of food was instilled in her by her mother and grandmothers. Rooted in German comfort food, her style has also embraced French and Italian cuisine as well as her partner’s Maltese and American traditions. Her blog (and cookbook) Eat In My Kitchen has collected hundreds of beautiful, vegetable-forward recipes that highlight seasonal ingredients, using a minimum of preparation to enhance the delicate textures and flavors of the various seasonal fruits and veggies they showcase. “Eat In My Kitchen” was just named the James Beard Foundation’s top General Cooking title of 2017, and rightfully so!
Kicking off with salads, you’ll find a wide range of tempting plates such as the fennel and melon carpaccio with chervil, cucumber, arugula, and orange salad with turmeric and mint, roasted peppers and cherry tomatoes with burrata, lemon and basil, Radicchio, peach, and roasted shallot salad with blue cheese, and red cabbage and pomegranate salad with candied walnuts and rosemary. I made several of these for quick and easy weeknight suppers, and was impressed by both their appearance (beautiful), ease of assembly, and the wide range of flavors and textures coaxed from a minimum of fuss. The melon and fennel carpaccio made a fantastic light dinner alongside a glass of sparkling rose; the contrast between the crunch of the fennel, juicy melon and bright herbal notes from the chervil was a lovely surprise.
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Vegetarians will find many outstanding dishes ready-made for them, including the salad chapter as well as many lovely pastas (Maltese lemon and ricotta pasta with basil, cicero e tria, wild mushroom spaghetti with orange butter and crispy sage, pumpkin gnocchi with Roquefort sauce), mains (grilled eggplant, ricotta, chickpea and poached egg tartine, torta al testo with lemon-rosemary lentil burgers and mozzarella di buffala, roasted shallot, caramelized plum, and stilton tartine with rosemary, roasted garlic and tomato focaccia sandwich with rosemary oil), basalmic strawberry, chevre, and pistachio tartine).

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Meat, poultry and seafood lovers will be delighted to find treasures such as the Bavarian beer-roasted pork with sweet potatoes and parsnips, Riesling and elderflower chicken with apricots, slow-roasted duck with ginger, honey and orange, Maltese tuna and spinach pie, and swordfish with mint, tomatoes and lemon-caper oil.
Meike also touches on sweet and savory baking, from Gozitan pizza and a beautiful pear and blue cheese tart with rosemary to German-inspired bakes (Frankfurter krantz, cardamom kipferl, Donauwelle, butter Buchtel buns), Mediterranean-inspired recipes (polenta-almond cake with rosewater-vanilla syrup, Maltese bread pudding, lemon ricotta cannoli), and a glorious strawberry-ricotta cheesecake with oat cookie crust.
The beauty of Meike’s recipes is in their simplicity; with few exceptions, most recipes call for a mere handful of ingredients and straightforward prep. “To cook, to bake, to eat, and to treat is my daily feast,” she writes. Ingredients are listed in US as well as metric measurements, a fact which I greatly appreciate as I prefer to cook and bake in metric (weight) rather than US volume measurements as I feel it results in more accurate dishes. She also recommends using organic produce and ingredients whenever possible, preferably homegrown in the case of herbs. As fresh ricotta is difficult to come by here in Japan, I make my own Meyer lemon ricotta using the basic recipe from “One-Hour Cheese.” The resulting dishes are light, refreshing, and capture the essence of breezy summer days.
Homemade preserves will enhance your breakfasts and bakes with love, from elderflower syrup (used in the panna cotta recipe as well as a great enhancement for cocktails), spicy rhubarb chutney, Moroccan preserved lemons, and vegetable broth.
And one of my favorite features is the “Meet in Your Kitchen,” section, which includes recipes from Yossy Arefi (“Sweeter off the Vine” and her blog “Apt. 2B Baking Co.”), television host Cynthia Barcomi, salt producers the Cini Family, Malin Elmlid of The Bread Exchange, Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley, and blogger / author Molly Yeh (whose cookbook “Molly on the Range” was one of my Top Cookbooks of 2016).
Because after all, the deepest, truest connections of food and taste are when we share the fruits of our labors with those we love – food as not merely sustenance, but as a springboard for leisurely conversations and taking a moment to slow down and savor in an all-too-hectic world.
Congratulations to Meike for winning her James Beard award and congratulations on a fantastic cookbook!

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