Back when we were in London, Kelsie and I had the good fortune of connecting with The London Foodie at a few food events. At a most incredible dinner party hosted by him we hatched the idea together of forming a London Cooking Club. The format was pretty straightforward, every month interested people would convene at his home, each person contributing a course and a bottle of wine. Each month the theme would change. I'm happy to see that London Cooking Club is still doing some amazing meals and wish i was still there to participate.
But, we're in Berlin now and slowly making connections. So why not start up something similar here? We had a first meeting last Saturday with four of us at Stefan's lovely flat in Kreuzberg. There was myself, Kelsie, Stefan, and Rene.
We met in the afternoon to shop for ingredients, most of which were purchased at Marheineke Markthalle. Stefan took us on a nice tour of his kiez and our last stop was his favourite Weinhandlung just around the corner from his house. It is called "Paasburg - Wein aus Leidenschaft" and definitely worth a visit.
The menu was planned via email during the week prior to us getting together:
Baked ricotta flan with a green olive/tomato/lemon salsa
Ravioli two ways: Blutwurst and apfel with sauerkraut sauce and Spinach ricotta in brown butter with sage
Lemon meringue pie
Back at the flat we got started with the pastry for the tart. The great thing about having the meet at Stefan's house was he's got all the gear and a fabulous 6-burner gas smeg cooker. *sigh* Making the dough was so easy with his super duper Kitchenaid mixer.
After making the pastry Kels and I had to dash back up to Spandau to walk and feed the dog. By the time we got back down to Kreuzberg, Rene and Stefan had done the pasta dough, got the starter in the oven with the salsa already prepped, and also had the spinach ricotta filling prepped as well.
We got to work on the blutwurst filling, using this recipe.
And the lined the tart ring with the pastry prepared earlier in the day. Once this was done we settled to our first coures. This was paired with a sparkly Johanninger Blanc de Blancs Brut. The flan was light and i really enjoyed how the zinginess of the lemon in the salsa complemented it.
Back in the kitchen we set about making the raviolis. Stefan rolled out the sheets while Rene and I filled them. The sauerkraut sauce recipe was a bit confusing. And the end result looked like rice pudding. (*NOTE -- the next day Stefan had another go at the sauce, this time sieving it into a smooth puree. It came out much better.) Because there was not a lot of colour variation in the dish, we decided to do a garnish of carmelised red onions in balsamic vinegar.
Meanwhile i blind baked the pastry and prepared the lemon curd filling for dessert.
We decided to start the main course with the blood pudding ravioli. This was paired with a bottle of Rainer Sauer Silvaner, Kabinett trocken and a bottle of La Motte Sauvignon Blanc. I thought the sauce was a bit bitter, but the ravioli came out perfect. Nice thin pasta with the rich filling of the blood pudding and apple.
Then, Stefan and I dashed back to the kitchen to finish off the spinach-ricotta raviolis in the brown butter. It was a well-executed classic. We drank more wine and listened/talked about music and food. By this time we were well full, and it was already close to 11 pm.
Unfortunately Rene had to leave before dessert was served. I finished assembling the pie and popped it in the oven. The results were spectacular and i only wish now that i had two pieces of pie instead of just one! We had this with some well chilled Limoncello that Stefan had hiding in his freezer.
As a first try at cooking together i thought it went well. Probably because we all work together, there wasn't as much uncertainty about sharing cooking tasks as one would expect. In truth, that's the best part about cooking clubs -- the cooking together. Ok, the next best is of course eating together too. I like how we could bounce ideas off each other and talk about what we thought of the dishes. There was pretty much of a consensus between us of what we liked/disliked.
We've got a few more people who are interested but couldn't make it on the first night. If it grows, we'll probably have to find a bigger space. Let me know if you have a well equipped LARGE kitchen for us to use or if you're interested in participating.