Cook By the Book: My Berlin Kitchen

Vegetables and cheese

“Distance means nothing when your kitchen smells like home”

This month we decided to take inspiration from Luisa Weiss’ My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story (with Recipes). Weiss is the creator of the Wednesday Chef blog, based on her experience cooking her way through her large collection of recipes clipped from the newspaper. As a child, Weiss spent the school year with her father in Boston and summer vacations with her mother in Berlin, always missing the other parent. As an adult she lived in Paris and New York until she finally settled in Berlin. Through cooking, Weiss found she was able to close the distance between her family and friends. By re-creating her father’s “Depression stew” or her Italian Uncle’s pizza, she was able to connect to her memories of home, wherever she might be. The book is full of simple, heart warming food that will make you think of your own cherished family recipes.

All of our chosen cookbooks are connected to My Berlin Kitchen in some way. The selection focused on Italian, German and French cooking, as well as chefs mentioned in the book. One good book often leads to another! Madeleine and Audrey chose French cookbooks and made classic dishes, such as crepes and Salad Niçoise. Lynda has been a long time fan of Valerie Bertinelli, so she selected her Italian cookbook and found it was a very fun book to read. Elaine also went with an Italian cookbook and had mixed results with her dishes. The soup was a success, but the gnocchi was not worth the amount of work and dirty dishes required. Jackie and Tanise went with the German theme, making hearty dishes like red cabbage and a traditional Raspberry jam roll. Shelley will never buy canned black beans again after trying Deb Perelman’s recipe for Slow Cooker Black Bean Ragout. Virginia made the beautiful lemon preserves for her Spicy Potato Tagine and declared the recipes are “keepers.” Jacques Pepin’s massive collection of his 700 favourite recipes was compared to The Joy of Cooking, by Ed, who focused on a poached trout dish. If you’re planning any weekends in the Hamptons, Mary has the perfect cookbook for you, The New York Times Country Weekend Cookbook.  It features New York Times food writers and their favourite dishes to make, while relaxing at their second homes.

I really enjoyed Melissa Clark’s stories that accompany each of her recipes and I think it’s the first time I’ve liked a cookbook without pictures. Clark claims that Kate’s Impossibly Fudgy Brownies with chili and sea salt will change your life. I’m not so sure about that, but they are definitely one of the best brownies I’ve ever made and have already become one of my family favourites.

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