Kitchen Stories Editors

Kitchen Stories Editors

Editorial Team

Every Friday in April, the Kitchen Stories editorial team will share what’s on the weekend’s shopping list and what we’ll make with it. We’ve decided to challenge ourselves by shopping hyper seasonal and diving into all the spring produce this month.

Will you join the challenge? Take part by letting us know what’s on your shopping list in the comments!

On Xueci’s shopping list: Spinach

I’m not a very determined, planning-focused person when it comes to grocery shopping. What happens pretty often is that I grab random ingredients in the supermarket or farmer’s market, only to find out at home that they might not work that well with each other. That’s why I find this seasonal challenge super helpful to structure my weekend shopping. Besides, to brainstorm by starting with a seasonal ingredient usually provides nice inspiration for cooking, especially when you want to try out new things.

I picked spinach for the reason that I am not a huge fan of spinach, even though I do enjoy the cartoon, Popeye. After reflecting on my relationship with it, I came to this conclusion: if I don’t like it, it’s either because I had prepared it wrong or used the wrong type of spinach for the job. So, I’m going to fix my relationship with spinach by trying new recipes and buying the freshest, in season spinach I can find. The spinach I’m used to having in China usually have long stems, while here in Germany the stems are left out and the focus is on the leaves—especially the spinach you buy at the supermarket.

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Xueci's recipe picks:

Simple spinach salad with blue cheese and pear

Simple spinach salad with blue cheese and pear

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For baby spinach, I guess no one would argue the best way to cook it is actually not to cook it at all. A spinach salad will be my go-to option. I would also like to pair it with crunchy fruits like apples or peaches. The simple dressing will bring it all together with white wine vinegar, olive oil, and mustard highlighting the original taste of spinach and fruits. Another springy light salad to choose is to enjoy it with strawberry and asparagus, if you are eager to be the early bird celebrating asparagus season.

Matcha, spinach, and kiwi smoothie

Matcha, spinach, and kiwi smoothie

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My second thought is to put spinach in smoothies. Although the texture is different when it’s blended, but who could turn down a refreshing and antioxidant morning drink like this. Matcha powder will give it a unique hint of tea flavor—shout-out to my fellow matcha fans!

Hummus soup with spinach

Hummus soup with spinach

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Warm dishes, however, can’t be forgotten. Tom Franz’s hummus soup with spinach seems appealing, as I look forward to the chemistry between glorious chickpeas and spinach. It would be a hearty and warming comfort soup for those unseasonably cold days that often come up throughout Berlin’s spring.

In the end a small contribution from my grandmother: a Chinese-style spinach starter. I’ll blanch the spinach for 30 seconds to 2 minutes (depending on the tenderness of your spinach) and put it in cold water, then drain it and toss it with sesame oil, chili oil, finely chopped garlic, and soy sauce. To make it a bit fancier, you can add chopped, toasted peanuts or walnuts. I wouldn’t use baby spinach for this, only the bigger spinach leaves with stems.

If I happen to have any leftover spinach leaves, I’ll wilt them into my noodle soups.

On Ruby’s shopping list: Mushrooms

I’ve chosen everyone’s favorite fungus—the humble mushroom—for my first market challenge. I have to admit, I feel a little like I’m cheating. Let me explain: Mushrooms are a weekly thing at my house, whether sauteed with copious amounts of butter and garlic and turning up on sourdough toast or pairing different types of mushrooms (say button, oyster and shiitake), blitzing them up, frying them (again, hi garlic), and using them in meatless ragout.

Addictions aside, let’s get to the challenge. This week I’m going to dig, if you’ll pardon my pun, deeper and try to use as many different kinds of mushrooms as I can. Markets are the best places to discover the amazing variety of mushrooms on offer. As well as the regular kinds, like button mushrooms or portobello mushrooms, you’ll see unfurling blush pink mushrooms, meaty king oyster mushrooms, dainty enoki mushrooms, and if you’re in the right season (that’s late summer till the beginning of winter), sunshine-yellow chanterelles. On weekends, I love going to Markthalle Neun in Berlin to see what seasonal produce local greengrocers have on the given day.

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Whatever the variety you choose, the cool thing is that fresh mushrooms can be used interchangeably in recipes and combining different sorts together is all part of the fun to help keep your recipe rotation fresh.

Here are the recipes I’m definitely going to try out this week. As to which mushroom I’ll use for each, I can’t promise you anything—the market stall will reveal all!

Ruby's recipe picks:

Mushroom-barley soup

Mushroom-barley soup

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We’ve seen more rain than shine in Berlin, so even though spring seems to be approaching, the windy weather still has me craving soup. I love this recipe that one of our chefs Johanna developed—using dried porcini to add extra oomph to more run of the mill brown mushrooms proves my point about layering their flavors!

Porcini mushroom omelet with quince relish and pickled red onions

Porcini mushroom omelet with quince relish and pickled red onions

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Here’s a wildcard that can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner! Since porcini aren’t in season, I’ll be swapping in oyster mushrooms and making the chutney with winter pears.

Roasted green beans and mushrooms with herbed Parmesan breadcrumbs

Roasted green beans and mushrooms with herbed Parmesan breadcrumbs

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This is a twist on a traditional Thanksgiving recipe that I think deserves more than one appearance a year.

Polish pierogi with sauerkraut and mushroom filling

Polish pierogi with sauerkraut and mushroom filling

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I love pierogi so much I went to a pierogi every-which-way restaurant in Poland as soon as it opened at 10am and ruined my day’s itinerary by gorging myself so heavily even local vodka couldn’t cut through. It was delicious, and very, very worth it. Since they do require a bit of prep, I’m going to make these mushroom and sauerkraut pierogi my leisurely weekend activity!

On Kristin’s shopping list: Radishes

Radish is ranking high this weekend on my shopping list. There’s nothing extraordinary about radishes, if I'm being completely honest—but in the spring, the small veg actually find their way to my kitchen pretty often. When I arrive home from work, a slice of bread topped with quark and fresh radish slices is my life-saver (and most of the time it's hard to believe how something so simple can be so delicious).

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Cooking with radishes has come to my mind quite often, but I tend to use up my fresh ones before the chance to find the perfect recipe even comes up. But, everything will be different this weekend! In order to leave nothing to chance, I have selected three recipes, which I would like to prepare in the coming days with my stock of radishes.

Kristin's recipe picks:

German radish and pretzel salad

German radish and pretzel salad

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I'm especially looking forward to this recipe, because I can still remember exactly how I fell in love with this radish and pretzel salad when we tried it in our test kitchen. The pretzel pieces are fried both in oil and in butter, thus are very crispy and rich, and paired with the light sharpness of the fresh radishes, it’s the perfect counterpart!

Butter dipped radishes

Butter dipped radishes

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Considering the risk of falling into old patterns and nibbling my carefully planned radish stock empty without regard to my weekend project, I have a snack recipe right on the plan: Radishes, coated with butter and sea salt. It will be interesting to see how long these little tidbits will survive…

Roasted radishes with fried camembert

Roasted radishes with fried camembert

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Served raw, radishes give a fresh touch to many recipes. But they can also bring their spicy character in various dishes when cooked. On Sunday I will try this the breaded Camembert with radishes from the oven.

Lastly, a little tip for storing radishes: cut off the leaves after purchase, as they pull the moisture from the little rounds. If your radishes ever feel a bit soggy or squishy, you can soak them in a bowl of cold water to crisp them back up.

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