Saturday, September 5, 2015

My Berlin Kitchen - Review + Recipe

My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story with Recipes by Luisa Weiss (Amazon Link)
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: Purchased

Description:  Luisa Weiss was working in New York when she decided to cook her way through her massive recipe collection.  The Wednesday Chef, the cooking blog she launched to document her adventures charmed readers around the world.  But Luisa never stopped longing to return to her childhood home in Berlin.  A food memoir with recipes, My Berlin Kitchen deliciously chronicles how she finally took the plunge and went across the ocean in search of happiness - only to find love waiting where she least expected it.  (Goodreads)

Genre: Nonfiction/Memoir

Why I Picked This Book: I cannot resist a foodie memoir and I don't know very much about Berlin.

My Impression:  Right from the start I really fell into this book.  Luisa starts out by giving us a peek at her life as a little girl in Berlin and I could immediately smell the butter melting, the cinnamon, the lemon peel and all the other warm and homey smells of Joanie's kitchen.  From there we move with her to the States after her parents divorce, then back to Berlin, to Paris, to New York, along with visits to East Berlin, San Francisco and Italy.  Through it all Luisa eats and she tells us about it - the smells, the sights, the textures - and I was right there with her.  After reading the blurb I was expecting the book to be a recap of her blogging adventures but instead we get Luisa growing up constantly surrounded by different cultures, different tastes, and I was not at all disappointed.  While the book primarily focuses on her emotions and thoughts it never feels whiny or self-indulgent like can often happen.  Luisa is someone I can easily imagine being friends with.  She doesn't take herself too seriously and seems to have a sense of humor about her food failures even though her frustration practically jumps off the page.

As for the recipes - this isn't one of those books that I could easily make all the recipes.  If someone fixed them and put them down in front of me I'd definitely try them but there were very few I'd get to the end and think I just have to make this!  Part of that was availability.  I'm not sure how easy quark and elderberry flowers are to find but I'm guessing not very and definitely not in a regular grocery store.  The recipes include - Tomato Sauce with Carrots and Onions (which I probably will try), Sour Cherry Quarkauflauf which is kind of like a souffle, Braised Artichokes and Potatoes, Poppyseed Whirligig Buns, Depression Stew (another one I'll probably try), Braised Endives, Rote Grutze with Vanilla Sauce which sounds like a summery Plum Pudding type dessert, and many more.

I thought I'd share her recipe for Tomato Bread Soup because I happen to have quite a bit of tomatoes and this just sounds good!

3 pounds fresh, ripe plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, minced
3 cloves garlic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cubed, crustless sourdough or peasant bread
1/2 cup grated ricotta salata
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil leaves

Core and quarter the plum tomatoes.  Place the tomatoes and their juices in a food processor and pulse just a few times to chop them coarsely.  You don't want a tomato puree.
Heat the oil in a 4 qt saucepan.  Add the onion and garlic and saute until soft but not browned.  Add the tomatoes and their juices.  Season with salt and pepper, bring to a slow simmer, and cook for 45 minutes, covered, stirring from time to time.
When the soup has simmered for 45 minutes, stir in the bread cubes and simmer for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.  Check the seasoning and discard the garlic cloves.
Serve slightly cooled or at room temperature, with grated ricotta salata and minced basil strewn over each serving.

I'm hoping to try this soon as it sounds deliciously summer-y.  Have you tried this or anything like it?  What did you think?

I'm linking up with Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes!  I really enjoyed Luisa's voice and am looking forward to reading more from her.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes, definitely.  If you liked A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg I think you'd enjoy this.

Challenges Met?


  1. This recipe looks good ! I always prepare home made soups, I do that a lot in winter, but I haven't tried summer soups yet :) Thanks for sharing !

  2. I loved A Homemade Life and prepared many recipes from that book so that's a good recommendation for this one, Katherine. Foodie memoirs are a favorite of mine too.
    Great recipe you shared.

  3. I loved A Homemade Life and have had this on my wish list for quite some time. It sounds like another winner!

  4. I have this on my shelf and still haven't gotten to it. I KNOW I'd love. Must make time....

  5. I have to read this one! (and maybe A HOMEMADE LIFE too, it seems). I also have a massive cookbook collection I am trying to cook my way thru. And I'm not having much luck. LOL

  6. Good travel memoirs are hard to find. I feel a lot of them showcase a very privileged idiot traveling the world. Although I'm not that interested in the food portion, I think I'll add this to my TBR. It sounds like I could get in lost in the cities she visits.

  7. I enjoyed her blog, then after she moved to Berlin somehow I lost track of it. Will have to get this memoir, both for the story and her wonderful recipes.

  8. I love foodie memoirs, too! This one sounds good.

  9. This really sounds wonderful. I was just reading that Berlin is a great place to visit.

  10. I loved this one too. Cheers from Carole's Chatter!

  11. Tomato Bread Soup sounds perfect for tomato season -- we've got lots of tomatoes around here, now.

  12. I enjoy foodie travel/memoirs, too. Will have to try the tomato soup variation