Thursday, August 31, 2006

Wednesday Leftovers

Since reheated mashed potatoes are not so pleasing, I combined them with grated onion and a bit of flour, formed patties and sauteed them. We ate the croquettes topped with chives along with the remaining venison and wild mushrooms from Tuesday and the "overly spicy" chard from the weekend.

and a green salad

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Tuesday: Venison with Chanterelles

At the market on Saturday we picked up some chanterelles and mixed wild mushrooms (it's mushroom season! yay!). When we found reh schnitzel (venison steaks) at the butcher, it was clear what needed to happen for a dinner this week.

I prepared the venison very simply: after washing and drying, salt and pepper the steaks, fry them over high heat until nicely seared on both sides, and then toss them in a 180-200C oven for 5 minutes to get them to medium rare. Let the steaks rest for 5 minutes before serving.

For the sauce: slice the chanterelles thick, sautee them over med-high heat in butter until they started to brown. Periodically pour off the liquid from the pan to add to the sauce later. When the mushrooms start to brown, move them to a bowl. Gently sautee a minced clove of garlic in olive oil until it's nicely aromatic; add a couple cubes of sulz (aspic/glace blocks, see below), some white wine, the mushroom liquid, and some water. Simmer gently for a couple of minutes. Thicken with potato starch, then stir in the mushrooms and whatever liquid has collected around the meat. Adjust seasonings and serve.

This was some seriously good food.

We had roasted cauliflower and mashed potatoes as sides.

And a green salad.

Wine: Ridge 2004 Lytton Springs Zin. This paired well with the strong flavors from the mushrooms and the venison.

A word on sulz: I had noticed this a week or so ago at the meat counter of the Migros and realized that I *needed* to try it. As near as I can tell, it's a very firm aspic (like a glace du viande, I guess). The blocks we got at Migros were a bit saltier than I would have liked, but the flavor is good and they certainly give the sauce a nice body. I think I'll be using these a lot in the future. Now if I can just find a convenient source of stock. :-)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Monday Leftovers

We finished off the pork braised in milk last night. There wasn't any sauce left, so I made a quickie cheese sauce (bechamel + Emmenthal + cayenne + chives) to pour over the pasta.

As a side I roasted some cauliflower.

No green salad. (what????)

Wine: Mann 2003 Vielles vignes Chasselas. This Alsation Chasselas didn't go particularly well with the food and was fairly different from the Swiss ones we've been drinking, but I liked it after the meal.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Sunday: Leftover pork + sauteed carrots

Last night we ate some more of the pork braised in milk from Saturday along with some penne pasta (we're out of spätzle). To go along with it I gently sauteed some sliced carrots in butter until they were nicely browned.

Oh yeah, and a green salad.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Saturday Night: Pork Braised in Milk

This main dish was following a recipe from Hazan. I did vary the cut of pork (I had a roast from the leg, not the loin), and I thickened the sauce at the end with a bit of potato starch, but otherwise I followed the recipe pretty closely. It's a damn good one.

We ate the pork with spätzle. I also made a batch of sauteed chard following a recipe in CPV, but I overdid it on the dried chili (primarily because I was using dried thai chilis since that's what we have in the house), and the chard ended up being too hot to go with the pork. Ah well, we'll eat the chard sometime this week.

Green salad.

Wine: Quasso 2001 Barolo. We may well have to get a couple more bottles of this stuff, it was mighty good last night.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Friday Night: Spicy Shrimp and Rice

The main course here was "designed" to use up a bunch of stuff in our fridge (to clear it out for Saturday's shopping!). I sauteed some shelled shrimp in oil, removed them, then cooked a mixture of spring onions, chopped garlic, chopped green chili, and chopped onion. After the veggies softened, I added back the shrimp, along with some white wine, sweet paprika, smoked paprika, and a dash of sherry vinegar. After the liquid reduced a bit, I thickened it with potato starch, added some chopped coriander and served it.

In order to have it a bit more interesting I toasted the rice in peanut oil before cooking it in stock (bouillon).

As a side, I cut a couple of zucchini into sticks and then baked them with butter until they were soft. mmmm, good.

Of course we had a salad with this.

Wine: Abadia Retuerta 2000 Cuvee Palomar

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Blackberry Cobbler

On our hike on Sunday we found a ton of blackberries. After bringing back all we could reasonably carry, we ended up with a full gratin dish:
I sprinkled the berries with some of the remaining gelierzucker (reasoning that it would help thicken the sauce), improv'ed a topping out of oats, butter, and sugar (milled raw sugar), and baked at 170C until it looked done.

We ate the cobbler with creme fraiche and it was deeeelicious.

Monday Gratin

Last night's gratin had potato, kohlrabi, leek, and Emmentaler cheese. For the sauce I used a mixture of cream, milk, and a splash of white wine seasoned with sweet paprika, a bit of cayenne, salt and pepper. I also added some potato starch to thicken it up (and to celebrate having finally found potato starch here!).

Our gratin dish was full of blackberries (see next post), so I had to make this in a pot. That made getting the gratin out in nice-looking pieces impossible, but didn't affect the flavor too much. :-)

We also had a green salad.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Sunday: An Eggplant Dish

I am currently having no luck coming up with a name for this improvisation beyond "Eggplant Dish", so that's what I'll call it.

1 medium eggplant, cubed, salted, rinsed, and drained
300 g mixed ground meat
1 cup mixed thinly sliced chilis/peppers (I used a mixture of the long curly green ones and thicker red ones from the turkish market)
1 medium onion, diced small
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can tomatoes
paprika (sweet and smoked)
parsley, finely chopped
lemon wedges

Saute the eggplant in olive oil over medium-high heat until it starts to brown. Transfer to a bowl.
Add the ground meat to the pan along with a good quantity of salt, black pepper, the paprikas, and the cayenne. Cook until nicely browned, then drain off the fat and transfer the meat to another bowl.
Add some more olive oil to the pan, then add the chilis and onions and cook for a couple of minutes until they start to soften.
Add the eggplant and garlic and cook for a minute or two.
Add the meat and cook for a minute or two.
Add the tomatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Adjust seasonings and serve over rice. Top with copious parsley and some lemon.

This was quite nice, though I don't think it would have hurt to have added some cubes of feta or something like that.

We also had a green salad.

Wine: La Bastide Saint-Dominique 1998 "Secrets de Pignan" Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Very nice.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Restaurant Microreviews

Not much cooking this weekend. Friday night we wandered around town to enjoy the chaos associated with the "Em Bebbi sy Jazz" festival, so we grabbed dinner at Namamen, a "japanese ramen bar" Andrea had spotted. The food wasn't very interesting and it didn't strike me as being particularly Japanese either. Oh well... I probably have excessively high expectations because of the Bay Area.

Yesterday we went across the border to St. Louis to check out a wine shop a coworker had recommended. Finding lunch in France on a Saturday in August turned out to be non-trivial, but we did eventually find an open restaurant -- Brasserie de la Poste -- next to the market. The place was packed, but we luckily got a table. There were three food choices on offer: couscous, faux filet au poivre with frites, and "carpes-frites salad". Fried carp didn't sound particularly interesting, so we got the couscous and the steak. Hoo boy was that a lot of very good food. Two hours later we walked out completely stuffed, but happy.

The wine shop ("Au Monde du Vin") had a good selection of French wines at prices that didn't seem unreasonable. We picked up a couple bottles of wine and a bottle of Alsatian eau de vie (Gilbert Holl "Quetsch") to be able to have a digestif once we got home.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Thursday Leftover Curry

We had meatballs leftover, so last night I made another batch of curry sauce (not forgetting to add a pinch of sugar this time), more cabbage salad, more carrot salad, and some quick-pickled cucumbers.

Wine: Henry Badoux 2004 "Petit Vignoble" Yvorne. This is one of the "spritzig" Swiss whites.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

When Kitchen Tricks Go Bad

In order to make juicing lemons easier, I use a trick I saw Jacques Pepin use where you toss the lime in the microwave for 15-20 seconds first. It really helps.

It's stupid, however, to leave the lime in there for 30 seconds. In our microwave that's not long enough to cause it to burst , but it does build up enough pressure inside the lime to give a very dramatic spray when I cut it in half.

Wednesday Curry

Firefox informs me that this isn't the first "Wednesday Curry" I've done... maybe I should start a tradition. :-)

In this case, I made "Thai meatballs" which we ate with jasmine rice and a green curry sauce. As sides we had a quick-pickled cabbage salad (with lime and 'tro) and a shredded carrot salad (with soy sauce, fish sauce, and lime).

To make the meatballs: Combine 400 gm ground meat (we had a mixture of beef, pork, and veal) with 4 cloves minced garlic, 2 cm ginger (minced), 1 Tbs minced lemon grass, 4-6 birdseye chilis (minced), minced coriander root (we had about 1 tsp), and some fish sauce (maybe 1-2 Tbs). Mix well, then let sit for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to meld. Form into 2-3cm balls and sautee in peanut oil until nicely browned.

To make the curry sauce: Fry 1 Tbs green curry paste in 1 tsp peanut oil over medium heat until aromatic. Reduce the heat and add 1/2 can coconut milk, 1 tsp minced coriander root, and 3-4 keffir lime leaves. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, then add the juice of 1/2 a lime and serve.

No green salad!

Wine: Bernard Bovy 2004 St. Saphorin Terre Plein. This Swiss white maybe didn't have the magic of a riesling when combined with the curry, but it was not half bad.

Tuesday Night: Pork chops smothered in onions

This meal used up the last of the pork chops from this weekend.

I didn't brown the chops first, but threw them in a pot with a bit of oil, a bunch of thinly sliced onion, some minced garlic, and black pepper. I added a bit of white wine and some stock, covered the pot, brought it to a boil, then let it simmer until the onions were melty and the chops fork tender, about an hour. For the last 5-10 minutes, I removed the lid to reduce the volume a bit. We ate this with brown rice. Delicious.

To go along with the chops, I sauteed some more cucumber, but this time I added some thinly sliced red pepper as well to get color contrast and bit more sweetness.

And a green salad.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Monday Night: Porkchops and Sauteed Cucumber

We brought some porkchops and a bunch of pickling cucumbers back from our visit to Andrea's parents, so the immediate priority was to use those up. My normal reaction to the pickling cucumbers would be to jump for joy and make a batch of fermented pickles; unfortunately we don't have the infrastructure to do that here in the temporary housing, so another solution was required. thus sauteed cukes.

For the porkchops: I browned the chops in peanut oil, then removed them and cooked some sliced onion and garlic in the pan. Once those softened, I added back the chops along with some stock, diced san marzano tomatoes, pepper, and a bit of cayenne. After braising for a bit, I removed the chops and finished the sauce with some cream.

For the cukes I followed an idea in CPV and sauteed them with a bit of butter and salt over medium heat until they started to soften and sweetened up a little.

We ate the chops and sauce over spaetzle (from a bag) with the cukes on the side. Oh, and a green salad.

Wine: Terroir du Trias 2001 Beaume de Venise; we bought a few bottles of this in Beaume back in '04 and have been storing it (along some Vacqueyras) at Andrea's parents' house. This weekend we brought it back with us. The wine is surprisingly new worldy, but still quite nice.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Thursday's Fish

This menu plan was started by some fennel from the market that we had sitting in the fridge. I actually did the planning in the morning so that Andrea could get stuff during the day instead of just making something up at the end of the day... crazy.

For the fish I followed the recipe for "red snapper with tomatoes and cream" from JPFF, except I used pangasius (=basa=catfish) instead of snapper and yellow onion instead of red.

I caramelized the fennel following a suggestion in CPV and served it on the side.

I roasted some whole fingerling potatoes with peanut oil, sea salt, black pepper, and cayenne.

This was some seriously good food.

We also had a green salad.

Wine: Pride Mountain 2005 Viognier, holy crap is that a remarkable wine. It's not the most food friendly white the world has ever seen, but it's amazing as a "cocktail wine".

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Tuesday Night Steak

Andrea grabbed a couple of nice looking "clubsteaks" yesterday along with a big assortment of veggies, so even without a fully equipped kitchen I had plenty of possibilities for making dinner.

I just salted, peppered, and broiled one of the steaks; no need to be fancy there. Our broiler doesn't deliver as much heat as I might like, but aside from that the steak turned out well.

I also made a big batch of brown rice cooked in boullion instead of water.

As a sauce for the steak and rice, I made a lightish roux (maybe 10 minutes cooking time) and whisked in stock (boullion) and some mustard. I had originally planned to add cream, but that was totally unnecessary.

As a side, I sauteed zucchini (cut in half and then 1cm slices), onion, and some red pepper (a long, non-bell, red pepper) in olive oil. I used the high-heat, brown the zucchini approach. By leaving the zucchini relatively thick, I was able to get the onions nicely caramelized before it turned to mush. This is good stuff.

We also had a green salad.

Wine: Paul Jaboulet "Les Jalets" 2002 Crozes-Hermitage

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Wine note

Blauburgunder = Pinot Noir


Sunday: Tuna Casserole

We didn't make it shopping on Saturday and were too lazy to make it to the big train station, so Sunday night was a "make dinner with whatever can be found in the shop at the small station" night. That turned out to be Tuna Casserole.

I started by making a bechamel, to which I added some chopped garlic and Gruyère (so now it's sauce Mornay with garlic, which probably has its own name). Andrea broke up the drained tuna and mixed it into the mostly-cooked elbow macaroni. After combining the noodles and sauce, I transferred them to an oiled gratin dish, I topped the noodles with quartered cherry tomatoes (pressed down into the noodles), and then covered that with a mixture of grated Gruyère and breadcrumbs. It baked at 200C until nicely browned.

As a side I made a grated carrot salad (with good olive oil and lemon juice).

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Friday Night: Sauteed pork, "Risotto"

This was a relative quickie for the end of the week. To make the pork, I diced some "Plaetzli" (same cut I used for the Schnitzel earlier in the week) and browned it in peanut oil. After removing the pork and pouring off the fat, I added diced red pepper, mushrooms, chopped garlic, and some chopped tomato. When the veggies were close to done, I added back the pork along with a shot of sherry vinegar and some pimenton. Just before serving, I added another bit of chopped garlic.

I put the "risotto" in quotes because I didn't do the constant stirring thing (sorry Pino Luongo, there was no lovemaking!). I toasted the rice with some onion in butter and added stock (boullion). Whenever things started to dry out I added more stock. Until al dente.

We ate these topped with fresh parsley and alongside the required green salad.

Wine: Schlipfer 2004 Riehener Blauburgunder. This local wine wasn't particularly good on its own (a bit thin and sour) but it did pair well with the food; there the acid helped.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Wednesday Night: Actual Cooking!

It cooled down a lot over the weekend, so it's actually possible to work in the kitchen without being uncomfortable. To celebrate, last night I made a couple things from JPFF: "Summertime Pasta" and "Chicken Breasts with Parsley and Garlic".

The pasta dish is just fresh veggies (zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms) warmed for a couple minutes in the microwave and then tossed with olive oil, fresh basil, grated parmesan, and pasta. My only variations were to add some minced garlic to the veggies and a bit of fresh parsley to the basil. For the pasta we had Fiorelli, which is a great shape for this kind of dish.

The chicken dish is diced chicken breast tossed with seasoned flour, sauteed until brown and almost cooked, then finished with a bit of butter, parsley, and garlic. I poured off the sauteeing oil before adding the butter but otherwise followed the recipe.

Both dishes were very good; as expected from that cookbook.

Naturally we had a green salad with this.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Tuesday Dinner: Schnitzel and pasta

This was a relatively quick dinner after we got back from hiking. I did schnitzel using "Schweins Plätzli" that I seasoned with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. To go along with it we had pasta with a bottled sauce that I adulterated with some browned garlic and onions. The pork was remarkably flavorful... keep that cut in mind.

Of course we had a green salad.

We were travelling

We did a four day hiking trip (Sat -> Tues) in the Alpstein, so there was no cooking. Interesting food highlights from the various huts:

  1. Schlipfechäs: a local raw cow milk fresh cheese that they thinly slice and age in brine for a day. It was served with black pepper and some good bread. This was really nice stuff. For some peculiar reason, the internet has been totally unhelpful in providing me with any information.
  2. A few different Appenzeller meat specialties including Mostbröckli (cured beef), some fantastic Bauernspeck, Siedwurst, and the Pantli (Jaegerwurst).
  3. Bärlauchspätzle with Appenzeller cheese melted over the top. Bärlauch (Ramson), is an allium.