Hach, Berlin
James Oseland's Soto Ayam (Indonesian Chicken Soup with Noodles and Aromatics)

Kitchen Dispatches

Firstly, buy yourself a small bottle of Austrian pumpkinseed oil (from here or here, for example). Then the next time you make squash soup, drizzle some of this deep-green oil over each serving. You can get creative by forming droplets and drizzles like modern art on the surface of the soup. It's supremely nutty and rich and so beautiful against the orange soup. Oh, it tastes good, too.


Secondly, keep your cool when carving the Christmas goose. This is now my third or fourth time tackling the annual beast and I have to say that practice does indeed make perfect. More importantly, staying calm and taking your time seems to work wonders. The slices of breast meat fall away just so, the leg bones pop out just as they should and people gasp in wonder at your prowess.


Thirdly, forget ever cooking a New Year's Eve meal again. Instead, buy oysters (if you can, several different kinds and then you can have oyster courses!), a few lemons (take a hike, mignonette) and make each guest bring a bottle of champagne. Do you need anything else? Fine, if you do, get a slab of sushi-grade salmon, slice it thinly and dress it with good oil and herbs. Oh, and toast some bread for that. That's it! Crown roast, seafood bisque, whatever else one spends hours in the kitchen on New Year's Eve for, nothing comes close to champagne and oysters.


Fourthly, here it is! The promised deliciousness from my Sicilian uncle, this year in the form of a torta di carciofi - an artichoke tart encased in puff pastry (storebought!) that is out-of-control delicious. I've got the recipe, too, and am going to be applying myself to test and translate it for you. Oooh, I am so excited for you!


Finally, there's this ridiculously good-looking sformato of pasta and eggplant that my uncle made before I left. Unfortunately, the day he made it was also the day one of us ended up in the ER with an intestinal ailment, the other one was felled by near-pneumonia, and I just felt like death warmed over. So I took a few pretty pictures, watched my cousin's son slurp it up happily and figured the recipe can wait until next year.