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Aug 3, 2010 09:18 AM

Cooking challenge - limited equipment, tiny kitchen and a foreign country

So, this summer husband and I find ourselves living in a tiny studio flat in Berlin thanks to his work. All is great but for one problem - the kitchen is tiny (as is the fridge), and the only equipment we have is a hob, a single saucepan and a single frying pan and some dishes. There is no oven, no microwave, no blender.

Whilst husband is happy to eat out every day or to eat bread and German salami, I prefer to cook most days and go out on weekends. There is only so much restaurant food once can have.

For once, I have tons of time to cook and lots of great ingredients to hand (there is a market down the road as well as lots of Turkish and Lebanese shops with lots of great stuff).

But what to make with such a minimalist kitchen? it is almost like camping! I haven't ventured out yet to purchase more pans and pots (and we are here only for 5 weeks anyhow).

Have gone through my whole repertoire of salads, coucous and omelette recipes (and we've only been here a week!)

So, now would love to hear everyone's suggestions. Special salads? Non-blendable soups?
Thanks to everyone!

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  1. Hello, I'm in a similar situation in Ecuador. For salads how about Nicoise? It is a full meal. For non blendable soups I make bean soups (can mash some with a fork), and chowders or minestrone. With the fry pan do stir frys, fish, and simple pasta dishes if your sauce pan is large enough to boil water. Also, do a take out main dish and prepare own salads and sides to go with it.

    1. Truth be told, I could cook most of our regular dishes with that equipment. It's the sort of kit we often see in holiday apartments in Spain. We just need to tinker with some dishes so things stay hot until everything else is done.

      I see from your profile you're a NIgel Slater fan - there's loads of stuff in his two "30 Minute" books that'll fit the bill for you (assuming you have them available).

      1. What about having fun with eggs? This is good with leftover pasta to add hefty. Saute up whatever veggies you have, or some ham and onions. Toss in your leftover spaghetti (you really don't need it but it makes it more of a dinner and less of a breakfast). Whisk your eggs with some milk, then pour it over everything, maybe stir in some cheese, and cook it over lowish heat until the eggs set. You can cover them to help, too. It's a good midweek dinner.

        1 Reply
        1. re: katecm

          As a slightly different take on this idea, take leftover pasta and make a noodle cake out of it. Saute your other ingredients and make a pan sauce, and set all of that aside. In your skillet over medium heat, melt some butter. Toss your leftover pasta in one beaten egg and some S&P until well coated and put in the hot skillet. Let cook until that side sets up and has browned & crisped, flip and do the same for the other. Put it on a plate/platter and put your sauteed meal over top. Optional, grate some good cheese over top.

        2. Wow! Already so much inspiration!

          I had actually completely forgotten about Nigel Slater's 'fast' cookbooks (having travelled with none) but will now make an effort to revisit some via the net.

          I should have mentioned the frying pan is tiny (hence the need to obtain one more) but I do like the idea of the noodle cakes which i think can just about fit.

          Salade Nicoise - I absolutely love it and haven't made it for ages, thanks for the reminder!
          Also I like the idea of a takeout main, they do some nice grills here.

          It's amazing, isn't it, what happens when one is outside of one's own kitchen, and just how much we're forced to improvise. I have seen my share of student kitchens and so on, but this is so far the biggest challenge yet - and I refuse to be defeated!

          Thanks for the suggestions everyone!

          1. Find and explore the farmer's markets, and let their offerings inspire you. Find good cheese, meat, and pastery shops and enjoy them. Will you ever have such opportunities again?