It’s not often that I cook somewhere other than my own kitchen. If I know I am going to be somewhere like, say, a beach house for a week, I totally micro manage the experience by packing suitcases of food and a lap top full of recipes. Still, even with all the preparation in the world there are surprises in other people’s kitchens!
One thing that I’ve learned is that not all ovens are created equally. My oven isn’t particularly fancy, I’m just really used to using it, so unwanted surprises are rare.
Case in point: my last night in Berlin, Keith, Harald and I made dinner at their cottage. After seeing piles of lovely (and not so lovely) cherries and apricots everywhere I got this idea in my head that I wanted to make a simple apricot cherry galette mit schlag to finish off our pizza dinner. I did not bring any recipes so had to make everything from my foggy memory.
Sure, Harald, I’d love another glass of bubbles!
The picture above is the recipe I made when I got home – mit recipe. The picture below is the one I made at the cottage:I didn’t use an egg wash on the cottage one, just heavy cream, which didn’t brown it as much. I did remember that the oven temperature was 400 F which is 200 C (ish). They didn’t have measuring spoons and the measuring cup was metric (which when I lived in Canada I used to know, now…..not so much).
The oven is a small cottage oven. I was using the drip pan and a piece of parchment to cook on, not my usual pizza stone and fancy ass baking sheet which I use every time I bake pastry at home. I was so paranoid the bottom would burn after 20 minutes I moved the galette to the middle of the oven which, as it happened, was a good idea.
So rule #1: When using an unfamiliar potentially hostile oven take the middle path. Or at least use the middle shelf so as to avoid any extremes in temperature in this new and uncharted oven.
Usually I make this tart with an almond paste that coats the bottom of the pastry, but we couldn’t find almond paste at the store and they don’t have a food processor. So instead I just toasted about 1 cup sliced almonds and added about 1/3 cup sugar and spread that over the rolled out dough.
The cottage is a rolling-pin free zone (it’s at their apartment) so I just pressed the chilled dough out by hand and with the help of a large, heavy frying pan.
Rule #2: memorize a sweet dough recipe. 2 cups flour, large pinch of salt, a small palm full of sugar, enough unsalted butter to make the dough crumbly but not wet, and enough cold water to bring it all together.
Rule # 3: fruit pies usually need 4 cups of chopped fruit.
I didn’t remember to add a thickener like flour or corn starch or a flavor enhancer like Kirsch (which I’m sure they didn’t have anyway), but I did add some more sugar.
Bottom line: it really didn’t make a difference.
It was the moral support from Stella and Franny that really got me through this.
This is Franny chilling after dinner.And this is Stella sleeping in her Schnitzel box. Harald brought it home from the bar he works at after he had liberated it from a bunch of frozen Wiener Schnitzel.Speaking of Wiener Schnitzel – Wien is the German word for Vienna – Schnitzel is a piece of meat, pork, veal, chicken, pounded to within an inch of it’s life (or a half inch actually, or a centimeter, come to think of it) and then breaded and fried. So Wiener Schnitzel is Viennese Schnitzel. Traditionally made with veal and is the national dish of Austria. Who knew? Well I guess a few people, but hey it was a light bulb moment for me and, well, better late than never, right?Here is Keith doing his best Norman Bates impression with the galette knife.
At the end of the day, as long as you keep your wits about you, cooking in strange and exotic places like urban cottages in Berlin isn’t anywhere near as scary as you might think, unless of course Keith is stalking you menacingly with a galette knife! 😉