Treat yourself to a year of home cooking with the help of Meike Peters, author of the 2017 James Beard Award-winning book Eat in My Kitchen.
Every home cook faces the same conundrumwhat should I make today? Find a delicious answer to that question every day of the year with Meike Peters, author of the James Beard Award-winning book Eat in My Kitchen and the popular blog of the same name. These 365 new recipes are designed to complement the rhythm of your week, from quick, creative weeknight pasta dinners and colorful salads to fragrant, long-simmering weekend stews and cozy cakes. Try the Winter Caprese with Blood Orange, Beet, and Mozzarella; Riesling Mussels with Grapes and Tarragon; Raclette and Onion Spaetzle; and Tahini-Date Cake. Featuring the author's signature style of cooking, rooted in German and Mediterranean flavors and making the best of each season's lush produce, this new home-cooking bible will inspire you in the kitchen the whole year and beyond.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
What shall we cook tonight? Let’s take the pressure off—the kitchen isn’t a place where we have to perform. It’s our choice what we eat, how we eat, and how we feel when we prepare it. The kitchen is the best place to take it easy, to forget about duties, and to wind down the pace. Let’s enjoy, yes, let’s celebrate our food 365 days a year.
So what shall we cook tonight? In my home, dinner plans often start with this question, discussed over our morning espresso at the tiny bistro table in the kitchen. Pondering our mood and what’s stocked in the fridge and pantry, we plan the dishes that will turn every evening into our own little feast. During a busy week, I often keep it simple. I use quick and comforting recipes, fresh vegetables, leftovers, pasta, and convenient helpers like pesto, good olive oil, and tasty flaky sea salt to tweak and turn frugal dishes into scrumptious treats.
I love to cook—I dive into it with passion every day, and I want to eat well—but there are times when I need some structure to make it work. A weekly shopping and cooking plan is the easiest thing to do. It doesn’t spoil the fun, but saves time and prevents waste. I still follow the seasons and my mood, and feel inspired by the produce at the farmers’ market, yet using my creativity in a moment of peace and quiet over a cup of tea to set up a rough culinary plan for the next seven days gives the weary weekday-mind a break.
My cooking is very much guided by the seasonal calendar. I love having nature’s wide spectrum of colors and flavors on my plate, but this only truly works when fruits and vegetables are at their best, at their peak. This, and paying attention to their origin. Over the years, I simplified many of my recipes, reducing the number of ingredients to focus on their individual qualities rather than distracting from them. This can enhance the taste of a dish, and make for recipes that don’t take long to prepare.
When I buy tomatoes, beans, zucchini, or eggplant, I buy plenty so that I can double recipes and enjoy them, and their leftovers, for more than a day. A sweet-and-sour caponata can become a Palermo-style dish whenI top it with octopus (recipe no. 243), a juicy sandwich with chorizo sausage (recipe no. 227), or a frugal summer snack on its own. Grilling a bunch of bell peppers and storing them in spiced olive oil makes a handy topping for bread and adds sweetness to salads and pasta on another day. Homemade pesto can be enjoyed for days, helping potatoes, spaghetti, seafood, and poultry excite the palate. I like to stretch the term “pesto” in my kitchen and use it for every vegetable, legume, herb, fruit, and nut that my food processor can turn into something dollop-able.
My home country’s comfort food is food for the soul. Traditional German dishes can lift the moody blanket on a gloomy day, turning the cold outside into a welcoming invitation to get cozy inside, relaxing over a warming stew or fragrant cake. My second home and adopted country, Malta, opened the doors to bright flavors, bold combinations, and dishes that are so simple that you sometimes only need three ingredients. Lunch is ready within seconds—and nothing but heavenly—when boiled potatoes, beets, oranges, or slices of warm sourdough bread meet the best olive oil and tasty, crunchy sea salt flakes. It can be that simple. Thanks to my Maltese-American partner’s home country, I embrace the deep flavors of citrus fruits, spices, and herbs growing under the Mediterranean sun and I make use of them abundantly. Yet his and my culinary roots have one thing in common: both cuisines embrace our grandmothers’ style of cooking and baking, which is unbeatably delicious, heartwarming, and frugal.
The fruitful dialogue with the readers of my blog, Eat In My Kitchen, confirmed my feeling that Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays call for different recipes. It all comes down to our mood. We often start a new week with sleepy eyes. Our schedule is tight yet our mind is still caught up in lazy weekend memories and desperately in need of a little dolce vita. The sweet prospect of a bowl of steaming spaghetti mingling with ricotta, orange zest, and crispy sage (recipe no. 2) on a Monday evening can help to smooth the rugged transition. There are also many ways to take away the weight of weekday cooking. A vibrant salad can excite the taste buds with unusual combinations. A comforting soup can turn into two different meals just by shifting from a poached egg on top the first day, to a grilled pecorino crostini on the side the second day. With my blog’s Sandwich Wednesday series, initiated by my partner’s love for opulent creations involving bread, came a new view on the popular German Butterbrot. I drew on my grandmother’s tradition of having bread with cheese or ham for dinner, but we often pack a whole meal between two slices of sourdough bread. Nothing beats a schnitzel and Krautsalat sandwich in the middle of the week!
If the week is for the simple recipes, the weekend is made to indulge in more luscious pleasures. I can’t think of a better way to recharge the batteries than by taking a late Saturday morning stroll through the farmers’ market, followed by a Mediterranean-style lunch prepared with all the delicious finds: a crunchy baguette, aromatic cheese, and a bowl of fresh mussels steamed in grape broth (recipe no. 257), accompanied by a glass of crisp white wine. That’s my treat. On Saturdays and Sundays, I take my time in the kitchen. I make Sicilian tangerine jam (recipe no. 333), a Maltese pasta pie called timpana (recipe no. 112 and no. 231), or a fluffy babka with poppy seeds and white chocolate (recipe no. 62) to sweeten the air with the aroma of fragrant yeast bread while I sing happy tunes. A wintry Sunday roast is the celebration of everything that I love about the kitchen: my mother’s traditional countryside cooking and honest comfort food shared with family and friends at one long table. A tender roast isn’t labor- but time-intensive, and while the cook reads on the sofa, it fills the house with the heavy perfume of spices, herbs, and roasting juices. It was a conscious decision that we made a while back to cut down on meat and seafood and to only bring them to the table once a week. Hearty roasts and summery fish dishes aren’t fast meals, these are special treats calling for high quality ingredients and plenty of time to enjoy them. To our surprise, it was much easier to reset our meaty habit than expected, maybe because we introduced another tradition to end the week. Every Sunday evening, we bake pizza from scratch and enjoy our crunchy master-piece on the sofa while watching an old movie from the sixties or seventies. It became a date night.
Pizza, along with lasagna and other dishes made with dough and pastry, is the ultimate comfort food, creating instant happiness. As much as I’m in awe of flavor, I was always fascinated by this aspect of cooking and eating. Food goes beyond necessity, even beyond flavor—it creates the most special moments with only a few ingredients. I chose to have a quiche on the cover of this book because it was one of the first dishes that I learned to bake and eventually master as I moved out into the world during my university years. Since then, various quiche recipes have consistently helped me to celebrate the ups and overcome the downs in my life. They taught me one important lesson: there’s no reason why I shouldn’t have these special moments 365 days a year. I just need a table long enough to share them at. Food is pure bliss, transformed by and in our kitchens.