Sunday, May 17, 2015

It's late spring!

We picked up some sweet peas, white asparagus, and the first strawberries of the season at the market on Saturday.

Dinner was simple: peas, steamed white asparagus with hollandaise (Ruhlman's Ratio version, but with extra vinegar at the beginning instead of adding lemon juice at the end since we didn't have lemons) and Serrano ham, and a big salad.

Dessert was macerated strawberries with cream whipped with armagnac (should have had a bit of sugar in the cream too!).

Saturday, May 16, 2015


After having some good cevapcici at a local place, we decided that they would be something good to add to the repertoire. So I tracked down a likely sounding recipe at serious eats and away we went.

Aside from quantity, I followed the recipe pretty closely: 300g lamb, 300g beef, grated onion, garlic, baking soda, etc. After forming the cevapcici (38-40g each seemed the right size) I let them sit for a few hours before cooking.

Instead of firing up the grill, I cooked the sausages in the grill pan. I'm sure the grill would have been better, but these turned out excellently as is. Will certainly need to add these to the regular list.

Next logical step: making ajvar ourselves too, but that's for another time. :-)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

After a multi-year break, we did Thanksgiving again this year.

Here's what we had:

  • Roasted Turkey: salted and buttered, started breast down at 250C for 30 minutes, flipped and finished at 180C; roasted on a rack over carrots, potato, celery root, onion and a bit of water
  • Gravy from heavily reduced roasting pan drippings + chicken stock. Thickened with potato starch
  • Mashed potatoes made in advance and then held at 65C in a ziploc bag in a water bath
  • Mashed sweet potatoes: potatoes started for 3 hours at 65C in the sous vide, then roasted for an hour, then peeled and cut into chunks. Finished in a pot with butter and salt. This prep worked well, and the sous vide step definitely makes a difference (we tested that) but the potatoes should have been roasted longer so that they cooked further at that stage; it took way to long to finish the potatoes in the pot.
  • Stuffing: ruchbrot, leek, mushroom, veggie stock, thyme, sage.
  • Roasted green beans
  • Apple-celery-quinoa salad (from "Plenty More")
  • Green salad
  • Roasted apple sauce: I've been making this lately starting with boskops and then adding chunks of pinova later. The boskops make a nice tart sauce while the pinovas remain somewhat firm and add a nice aromatic sweetness
  • Snacks:
    • Mixed olives with chili-garlic oil
    • Mixed olives with preserved lemons
    • Roasted almonds with salt and cumin
    • Honey-roasted pecans with salt and chipotle (these are one of my new favorites)
    • Dates with bacon
  • Desserts (our friends brought these):
    • Chocolate-pecan pie
    • Apple hand pies
    • Pumpkin pie
    • Chocolate mousse
Needless to say, no one went hungry. ;-)

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

kitchen follies: mayonnaise

Last night I made aioli. For whatever reason I decided to use the whisk attachment on the hand blender instead of using the minichop. I guess I didn't while have my brain fully engaged, because when it didn't seem like the emulsion was coming together I turned the motor speed up.

The result is probably best described as "aioli foam": it tastes fine but the texture is certainly odd.

Next time I will go back to the minichop. 

Saturday, May 03, 2014

The granola experiment

They changed the recipe of our normal breakfast cereal, so we decided to look for something new. For the heck of it, I gave making our own a shot. This is attempt one.

The basic idea and recipe and from Bittman, but I adapted it heavily, of course.

500g mixed rolled grains (the stuff we get is wheat, oats, barley, millet, and rye)
200g slivered almonds
75g sesame seeds
50g flax seeds
100g toasted soy flakes
Cinnamon, ginger, salt
150g honey

Mix the dry ingredients well. Heat the honey in the microwave a bit to lower its viscosity. Mix the honey into the the dry ingredients.
Spread on a baking sheet and bake at around 160C, stirring occasionally, until nicely toasted.

Let cool and then store in an airtight container.

This batch turned out really nicely and isn't all that much work. It'll probably become a regular thing.

First local strawberries of the year


Just in time too, this week we thawed the last of the frozen berries from last year.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Apple Fennel Salad

Something really simple and very good:

Dice (~1/2 cm) tart apples (I used Cox Orange) and fennel. Toss with greek yogurt and a bit of salt.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

An interesting ingredient: candied lemon peel with rosemary and mint

When I read this food52 recipe I was completely uninterested in the cake, but the candied lemon peel struck me. I immediately thought of using it in savory dishes and the idea was intriguing.

I made a batch using the technique described in the cake recipe, but I added rosemary and mint to the syrup I cooked the lemons in. The results are really interesting and will be fun to use in other dishes.

So far I've used it, minced, with sauteed zucchini (oh boy is it zucchini season)... it's good stuff. :-)

As a side benefit: the remaining candying syrup has a concentrated lemon/rosemary/mint flavor and would no doubt be excellent for cocktails.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Aromatic rhubarb-apple compote

I followed this Food52 recipe pretty much exactly and we were both extremely happy with the results.

The earl-grey, cardamom, orange zest, lemon juice combination is definitely worth remembering.

Korean-inspired chicken stew

Maybe if I just stick to particularly memorable stuff and keep it short I will start doing this again.

This one was an invention, inspired by the presence of gochujang in the fridge.

Dissolve a few heaping Tbs of gochujang and a heaping Tbs of miso paste in water in a slow cooker. Add thinly sliced leek, diced carrot, skinned chicken leg quarters, and sufficient water to cover. Turn on the slow cooker, put on the lid, and go do something else for a few hours (like go climbing). Taste the broth and add a bit of sugar or more gochujang if required. Add some diced (2cm) tofu and let cook for another 30-45 minutes (if you can stand it). Serve over rice.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Nano restaurant review: Matisse Basel

It's hard to do a nanoreview of an experience like this.

I'll try it this way: we were in the restaurant for a bit over 5 hours, had 12 different rounds of food brought to us (described as 6 courses, but there were just as many amuse bouches and other extras) and each of those had a variety of different components and flavors. It was an intense evening; in a very good way.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas trip restaurant nanoreviews

Zambra (Ashville): two smiley faces. Good, creative tapas and cocktails, nice wine list, good service (particularly considering the size of our group), nice atmosphere.

Four Sisters (Falls Church): two smiley faces. Good Vietnamese food. Packed at lunchtime. Service ok. Atmosphere ok.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

This year's Christmas cookies

  1. Andrea's Schokomakronen (recipe here:
  2. Zimtsterne (from Kaltenbach, recipe here: . I, once again, forgot to reserve any egg whites to top them with)
  3. Basler Brunsli (from Kaltenbach)
  4. Honig Lebkuchen (from Kaltenbach)
They all turned out well; the Lebkuchen were a real surprise and should definitely be made again.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Nano restaurant review: Spring Paris

  • Food: great, the cepes-filled giant ravioli with green tomato foam was a "wow" dish
  • Service: good
  • Atmosphere: good
Two very smiley faces

Paris food

  1. L'As du Falafel: boy do I wish we had something this good in Basel
  2. Bread from Poilane: great stuff.
  3. Bread from Eric Kayser: good, but not as good as Poilane
  4. Dinner at Spring: Wow.
  5. Dinner at Le Gorille Blanc: not bad, but it's tough to follow Spring
  6. Lunch at Mosaik: nice Moroccan food
  7. Cooking from all the markets: yeah!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Ithaca food

What happens if you go back after 15 years?

  • Just a Taste: My wine tastes have evolved, but the food is still as good as it used to be. We had a great meal.
  • Thai Cuisine: This is probably because my expectations have changed, but I remember this being better than it is now. 
  • Collegetown Bagels: mmm, good bagels.
  • Viva Taqueria: I wish we could get burritos this good in Basel.
  • The Chapterhouse: ok, it's a bar, not a restaurant. The space is still basically the same, but I definitely preferred it had its own beer, ginger ale, root beer, and nothing else.
  • Sushi O Sake (can't find a URL): good food, but not great.
  • The Nines: Having a pint of Black Forest and a slice really took me back. I do like Nines pizza.

Toronto food

hmm, I've definitely fallen out of the habit of doing this... but that's no reason not to do some nano-restaurant reviews.

From our visit to Toronto... in no particular order:

  • Lai Wah Heen: very nice dim sum lunch. It's odd to order everything instead of having them come by with carts, but we ate *very* well.
  • Yummy BBQ (can't find a website): great dive korean BBQ lunch.
  • Beer Bistro: Disappointing. Great potential: nice space, good menu, good service, but the food was definitely so la la.
  • Thai Noodle: nice dive Thai food.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Another round of mousse

I'm not sure how the anise-chocolate pairing came to mind, but there it was...

I made the minimal chocolate mousse again but this time I used 30ml of Ricard in the 75ml of liquid.

Very nice pairing.

Sunday: roasted chicken

Roasted chicken using Ruhlmann's technique.

Belgian endive caramelized with butter, brown sugar, and lime juice (recipe from Hesser).

Multi-grain "risotto" drizzled with the chicken pan drippings and topped with green onions that were roasted with the chicken.

Big spitzkohl salad.

Very, very good eating.