It was around a year ago that I received a copy of My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss (of the fabulous Wednesday Chef blog) courtesy of the kind folk at Viking. As the launch of the book coincided with back-to-school, I didn’t have a chance to write about it then but it was a book that I planned to read a little bit more of each night as I collapsed into bed, exhausted from the flurry of activity that is September in the life of a teacher. In fact, what happened was that I read the entire book in two sittings. I couldn’t put it down.
My Berlin Kitchen (now available in paperback with that beautiful new cover, above) is part-memoir, part love story and part coming of age/ finding your way story punctuated with recipes. As a child of divorced parents Weiss divided her time childhood between her mother’s Berlin apartment, her father’s Boston house and her grandparents’ Italian garden and the only place she truly found comfort was in the kitchen. Even at the age of 31 when she was “settled” in New York City with a dream job, a fiancé and friends, she still had the feeling that something was missing. Cooking was Weiss’s way of dealing with her unsettled feeling of “homesickness” and she chronicled her kitchen adventures as she worked her way through a large collection of recipes clipped from newspapers on The Wednesday Chef which she started in 2006. This feeling of “homesickness” ultimately led her to leave her New York life and return to her beloved Berlin.
My Berlin Kitchen includes some recipes from the blog as well as new ones, developed specially for the book but Weiss’s recipes are more than just simple cooking instructions – they evoke her childhood, her life in New York and her new life (and love) in Berlin, all intertwined with the story of finding her way home, through food. Though I have bookmarked a large number of her recipes “to make” (Poppy Seed Whirligig Buns, Buttermilk Panna Cotta, Chicken Provençale, Depression Stew to name just a few), the recipe that hooked me on this book was the first one – Omelette Confiture – accompanied by Weiss’s story of being three years old in her nanny’s kitchen in Berlin. Even Weiss’s earliest memories involved food 🙂 And, as she says, it might seem odd to pair eggs and jam but for me this is the perfect breakfast – a little bit sweet, a little bit savoury…
It may seem odd to pair eggs with jam, but the combination of sweet-tart fruit with the moussey fluff of the omelette is delicious. It makes for a comforting snack for a small child or a light breakfast for a sweet- toothed adult. The best jams to use are ones with a tart bite: I’m partial to black or red currant. And don’t skip the powdered sugar on top. The little explosions of sugar on the tongue are what make this omelette special.
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon milk
- Small pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 to 2 tablespoons black or red currant jam
- 1⁄2 tablespoon powdered sugar, for garnish
- Separate the egg white from the egg yolk. Beat the egg yolk with the milk in a small bowl until well combined. Beat the egg white with a pinch of salt in a spotlessly clean bowl until it just holds soft peaks. Fold the beaten egg white into the egg yolk mixture.
- Melt the butter in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and let cook for 3 minutes, until the edges have set, making sure the heat of the stove is not so high that the omelette browns or burns. Shaking the pan gently, flip the omelette and cook the other side for an additional 3 minutes. This takes some practice, but there’s no shame in using a plate over the pan to invert the omelette instead of flipping it.
- When the omelette is set and cooked through, slide it onto a plate. Dab the jam along the center of the omelette and then roll up the omelette— using a plastic spatula should help.
- Shake the powdered sugar through a sifter over the omelette and serve immediately.
My Berlin Kitchen (paperback) – A Canadian/ US giveaway!
That’s right, thanks to the kind folks at Penguin Paperbacks, I have one copy of My Berlin Kitchen in paperback to give away to a lucky Canadian/ US reader (sorry international friends).
1. Simply leave me a comment below telling me what food triggers a specific childhood memory for you.
2. For a bonus entry, tweet the following message:
I entered to win a copy of @wednesdaychef ‘s My Berlin Kitchen from @PenguinPbks + @eatlivtravwrite http://bit.ly/146QM4Q (US/Canada)
Then come back to leave a comment telling me you did.
Contest closes on Tuesday September 3rd 2013 at 9pm EST. The winner will be chosen using random.org and notified via email on Wednesday September 4th 2013.
Toronto readers – enter to win tickets to the world premiere of Bruce Alcock’s Impromptu at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11th 2013 at 9.15pm. Contest closes August 31st 2013 at 6pm EST.