Saturday, April 28, 2007

New cookbooks

I keep forgetting to post this. When we were in the US last weekend I picked up an Amazon order of cookbooks:

I haven't had time to either read enough or make any food from the books, so I have no informed commentary yet.

Energy Bars Take 2

1 egg, beaten
60g dried dates, chopped in food processor
60g dried apricots, chopped in food processor
50g grated dried coconut
50g slivered almonds
100g coarsely chopped walnuts
pinch of salt
120g honey
180g of a 1:3 rolled soy:rolled oats mixture, coarsely chopped in food processor

Same prep instructions as Take 1.

These are texturally much more pleasing -- chopping the soy/oats really makes a different -- but the bars themselves don't hold together as well as I might like. I think this may be because the stuff:egg ratio is too high. I didn't intend to add as much stuff, but I screwed up the honey addition and put in considerably more than I meant to.

Next time:

  1. same amount of the fruit and nuts
  2. less honey
The next attempt will have to wait because the first two batches will now be put to the real test: we're going hiking until Tuesday.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Energy Bars Take 1

This is my first attempt at concocting a recipe for energy bars that we can take hiking with us.

1 egg, beaten
50g dried dates, chopped in food processor
50g dried apricots, chopped in food processor
25g grated dried coconut
50g slivered almonds
pinch of salt
50g honey
150g of a 1:3 rolled soy:rolled oats mixture
sprinkle of flour

Mix the ingredients up to the honey together well. Stir in the honey. Mix in the soy/oats mixture. Add a sprinkle of flour if it looks like things are too moist.
Transfer to a non-stick baking pan in a layer about 2cm thick and bake at 150C for 25-30 minutes.

The quantity here is the smallest I could make without using a partial egg (too big of a PITA). I'd guess this is enough for the two of us for a two day trip.

Given that I made it up as I went along, I'm surprised this turned out as well as it did. I'm particularly happy that the sweetness is close to right. Things to change for the next attempt:

  1. More dried fruit
  2. Maybe try running the oats and soy through the food processor for a bit first in order to alter the texture.

Thursday Salad

Given the composition of this week's box and the fact that we're going hiking this weekend, salad was an absolute must yesterday. I made up another batch of Wurstsalat (like on Monday) and served it with lettuce[box], sliced bell pepper and radish[box], and some bread.

Wine: Heraderos Del Margues de Riscal 2006 Rueda

Biokiste 3: Return of the Veggies

We were travelling last weekend, so we had them hold our veggie box and double the quantity this week. oof:

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Tuesday and its Skewers

This piece of randomness came about because I ended up at the store without a clear plan in mind.

I marinated some pork chunks (3cm, Schweinehals) in a mixture of sweet paprika, smoked paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander, salt, sherry vinegar, and red wine. These I threaded onto skewers with precooked potatoes [box] and dates. I also steamed some cipollini onions with a bit of white wine and some olive oil. After drizzling the skewers with olive oil, I broiled them in a pre-heated cast iron skillet along with the onions.

These were not bad, but they would have been better with a sharper marinade and with dates that had been soaked in water for a bit to plump them up some.

I also found some orach (Rote Gartenmelde) in the Coop, so I picked that up and sauteed the leaves in some butter.

We had, of course, a green salad on the side.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Back home

We got back from the US yesterday. I wasn't really fit enough after doing the "planes, trains, and automobiles" thing for real cooking, so I made a couple of salads yesterday.

For lunch we had a wurstsalat of my own invention: diced fleischkäse, cervelas, Emmentaler, diced carrot [box], minced onion, and a dressing made from mayo, mustard, olive oil, a splash of sherry vinegar, and copious black pepper. We ate this on a bed of lettuce with bread. Sure, it's a long way from authentic, but it was still really good.

For dinner we had plate topped with lettuce, diced cooked potato [box], diced cucumber (salted for a while), julienned carrot (salted with the cukes) [box], and chopped chives. I did a dressing from quark, lime, cayenne, coriander, sugar, and black pepper. On the side we had some Egli fillets (a freshwater perch) that I breaded and sauteed in peanut oil. Again, good food. The Egli was particularly nice.

Wine: Los Vascos 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé. This wine kind of surprised us since it's lacking a lot of the fruit notes that one typically finds in a rosé. But it's got nice acidity and a good grapefruit (from cab? what?) character. It worked well with dinner.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


We're about to travel, so just a couple of quick notes:
Tues Night: leftover chicken+stuffing+mashed potatoes. I made some fresh peas to go with it.

Wed Night: pasta with a quick ham, caramelized onion, cream, ricotta sauce.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Monday's Sunday

Since we went out on Sunday, I didn't make the meal that I had planned. I was enamored enough of the plan that I made it last night. This is a bit beyond what I normally do during the week, but it simply had to be done. :-)

We had roasted spatchcocked chicken, cornbread stuffing with greens, roasted carrots, mashed potatoes and celery root, and a big green salad.

The stuffing was based on a CPV recipe and used the chard greens I didn't use when I made stewed chard. In addition to the chard, I used spring onions [box], parsley [box], garlic, finely diced bacon, lemon juice, butter, olive oil, and some bouillon. I didn't add either the milk or the egg called for in the original recipe. The sweetness of the cornbread (not present in the original recipe) plays well with the sweetness/tartness of the greens, the sour lemon juice, and the overall richness. This is very good stuff.

I mounded the stuffing in a baking dish, laid the butterflied chicken on top, brushed with a butter/olive oil mixture, and seasoned the outside of the bird. For good measure I tossed in some coarsely diced carrot and a couple more spring onions sprigs. After baking the whole thing until the bird was done (30-45 minutes, I wasn't really paying attention to the time), I removed the chicken and baked the stuffing+veggies alone at high heat for the 5 minutes while the chicken rested.

For the mashed veggies I boiled some all-purpose potatoes and some diced celery root [both from the box] until tender then drained them and mashed them with some warm cream. I really enjoyed the combination of flavors from potato+celery root.

A very fine meal.

And now for an aside: last night convinced me that I "need" a proper food mill. The plastic one I have now just isn't up to the task. Anytime I attempt to process food with the least bit of resistance (e.g. all-purpose potatoes), it turns into a festival of frustration and profanity. The problem is that the spring that holds the blade in place isn't strong enough/the shaft that holds it isn't long enough, so food with a bit of body to it ends up popping the shaft/blade out of its hole. The damn thing works fine for soft things like peas and long-cooked soups, but it just can't do mashed potatoes. And I really like mashed potatoes made with a food mill.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Nanoreview: Restaurant Sommereck

After yesterday's hike I didn't feel like making the dinner I had planned, so we went out. Sommereck is just around the corner from us, has nice outside seating, and is open on Sundays, so it was an obvious choice. We'd been here once before, but I see I forgot to record it.

  • Food: Nothing fancy, Andrea had schnitzel, I had grilled pork chop with herb butter. Both were good and the fries were very nice.
  • Service: Just fine
  • Atmosphere: Outside in their garden is quite nice. We were on the side of the building, the area in the back seemed huge.
It's not particularly expensive and is a nice fall-back for a Sunday night.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Spring Meal

When we were in the Tessin last weekend I had the idea of making ricotta cheese from a mixture of cow and sheep milk. Continuing that idea led me to the idea of mixing in some Bärlauch and using the result to fill cannelloni. Yesterday I gave that a try.

For the ricotta I used a liter of fresh cow milk and half a liter of sheep milk. I followed the method that I've used before a couple of times (using the double boiler). The resulting cheese is really good. It has a different character from all-cow ricotta that I think it great.

To make the filling I mixed some ricotta with chopped sauteed Bärlauch, lemon juice, and black pepper. I filled cannelloni wrappers that I made using the pasta recipe in FStoS, substituting semolina flour (Knöpflimehl) for the normal flour, topped with grated Parmesan and olive oil, then baked until crispy around the edges. The results were quite tasty, but next time I will add sauteed onions and a bit more lemon to the filling.

We also found some nice looking green asparagus (Italian) at the market and I couldn't resist that. Sauteing this asparagus was pretty much mandatory, so I did asparagus sauteed with crispy ginger. This asparagus wasn't as good as the stuff from the farmers market in CA, but it was still mighty good. Unfortunately it stoked my asparagus craving instead of slaking it... ah well.

Since we have a giant bag of carrots in the fridge (from the Biokisten), I made a batch of Moroccan carrot salad using the recipe in CPV. This is going to become a standard way of making carrots in our house; it's fantastic.

We ended up with plates full of color and goodness:

Wine: Pride Mountain 2005 Viognier

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Salad salad salad

Yesterday 'twas warm and we have loads of veggies, so we had a big salad for dinner.

In the salad we had: red leaf lettuce, carrots, radishes, baby potatoes, diced ham (sauteed in olive oil with ground coriander). I made a dressing from mayo, mustard, white wine, mashed garlic, fresh parsley, olive oil, black pepper, and a bit of sherry vinegar.

On the side we had a nice loaf of bread.

Wine: a bubbly (blanc de blancs) from Les Coteaux des Hautes Garrigues.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Thursday: Stewed Chard

One of the things in this week's box was a couple of big pieces of chard; last night I got a start on the box by using the stalks from that chard. I cut the stalks into slices about 1/2 cm thick and then stewed those over medium-low heat in a covered pan with some butter and salt until they were nicely tender and sweet, about 45 minutes. This is a very nice prep method for chard.

We also had leftover baked pasta from Tuesday night and a big green salad.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Biokiste 2

This is more like what I think of as a reasonable quantity of veggies in a "box":

The easy solution

Today we get new veggies, so last night I needed to use up last week's delivery. I used one of the easy solutions to this: roasted vegetables. The vegetables were: green onions, leeks, kohlrabi, and carrots, all from the box. I tossed them with herbs de Provence, salt, pepper, and olive oil and then roasted them at 175C until done.

I used up the last of the quark by making a salad dressing.

Ready for the new Biokiste!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Tuesday Night: Baked pasta with veggies

With all the getting ready and then travelling last weekend, I didn't get the chance to do any cooking using the contents of our first biokiste until last night. Since we're getting the veggies every week instead of splitting them with someone else like we did in CA, this puts the pressure on to finish the box before next week's arrives tomorrow.

I made a straightforward baked pasta dish with diced smoked bacon, diced carrots[box] and sliced leeks[box] sauteed in the bacon fat, diced smoked ham, and a sauce made from quark[box], minced garlic, and chopped parsley and chives. I mixed this all into some "straightened elbow" noodles (for want of the proper name), topped with fresh bread crumbs mixed with olive oil, and then baked it.

The quark didn't remain creamy when exposed to heat, but the dish was quite good anyway.

We also had a green salad and some bread with the pasta.

Nanoreview: Ristorante Cyrano (Lugano)

We had dinner on Friday at this place, which we picked because it looked promising.

Two smiley faces.

  • Food: Very good, Italian
  • Service: Excellent, friendly and helpful but not irritating
  • Atmosphere: Very nice

Nanoreview: Pizzeria Mary (Lugano)

We did lunch here on Friday.

It's a nice place to sit outside, have a pizza and a beer, and people watch.

Pizza was good, prices Swiss normal, service was about what one would expect for a massively crowded cafe.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Thursday Night: Chili and cornbread

We've got friends coming into town tonight then we leave for a weekend of hiking in Tessin. I made a big pot of chili and a pan of cornbread so that there's something there for whenever they conquer the traffic and make it into town.

The chili is good, but is somehow overly acidic. I didn't really add anything acidic other than the tomatoes so either the canned tomatoes were higher in acidity than what I'm used to or someone snuck in and dumped vinegar in my chili.

Biokiste 1

I'm post-dating this since I forgot to do it in a timely manner.

This "box" seemed a bit light:

Wednesday Leftovers

Instead of just reheating the remaining rice, I decided to try making omusubi/onigri with it. I followed the very simple technique posted by Makiko and filled each rice ball with a bit of omebushi. No problems at all there, the technique works great.

After crafting the balls, I flattened a couple and then toasted them by sauteeing in a skillet with a bit of sesame oil. End result: quite nice; probably would be better if I broiled the omusubi instead of sauteeing them, but still quite nice.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Tuesday Night Japanese

Last night I put some of the ingredients from Saturday's shopping trip to Zürich to use.

Our main course was a bowl of sweet rice (oh sweet rice, how I've missed you) topped with gingered minced chicken (from Washoku), matchsticks of Takuan (pickled daikon), matchsticks of braised kombu (from making dashi), and an umeboshi.

As sides we had braised daikon with citrus miso sauce and a bowl of kimchi (I ate this at the end of the meal since it was substantially stronger in flavor than the other components of the meal).

Wine: a 2006 Sauvignon Blanc from Sudtiröl.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Nanorestaurant review: YumiHana (Zürich)

We went to Zürich yesterday so that I could look for Japanese ingredients. Andrea had found this blog post with some pointers to places to try.

We walked into YumiHana at around lunch time and upon seeing that they (a) have a lunch counter and (b) serve noodle soup we immediately had to eat.

We ordered udon soup, bibimbap, and a side of kimchi. The udon soup and kimchi were both very good. The bibimbap was a nice rice dish, but without the crust on the bottom I don't think it deserves the name.

I was also able to find most everything that I needed, so I ought to be making more stuff out of Washoku over the next couple of weeks.

Saturday: quick pickled daikon

This was quite simple: I diced a daikon, salted it, put it in the pickle press for a few hours, rinsed well, added the juice of an orange, a bit of yuzu, and some mirin and let things soak for another hour or so before serving.

I meant to add a grind of coriander as well, but I forgot. I will do that today when we finish these treats.

Saturday Pork Roast

This was another great application of the Römertopf.

I started with a nice piece of Schweinehals, just over 1kg.

I covered the bottom of the pot with a layer of chopped onion, topped that with the zest of an orange, put in the seasoned roast, surrounded it with coarsely chopped Bärlauch and small potatoes, topped with peeled and sliced half-blood oranges, added a bit of stock and some sherry, put on the lid, and baked.

Aside from the sauce being a bit thin (I didn't need to add the stock), this was fantastic. I could have solved the sauce problem by reducing it after the roast came out, but it was time to eat. I need to trust that the Römertopf doesn't need much additional liquid.

Saturday Apero: Tuna in Herb Vinaigrette

I really wanted to use raw tuna in this, but I'm not sure that I can even find sushi-grade tuna here and I definitely wouldn't want to pay for it. So my work around was to get a piece of yellow-fin tuna and slow roast it (100C for 35-45 minutes) with salt and olive oil.

When the tuna was cooked, I flaked it by hand and then folded it gently with finely chopped chives and Bärlauch, black pepper, and a thin mayonnaise/vinaigrette made from an egg yolk and a mix of peanut and olive oils and a bit of sherry vinegar. (Yes, this was supposed to be a normal mayo, but I somehow screwed it up, again. I need to go back to the cookbook and return to the basics.)

I let the mixture marinate for a couple hours in the fridge and then served it at room temp with crackers. Very, very nice.

Saturday Dinnery Party

We had a couple friend over for dinner last night, so I got to make more stuff than usual. I'll do individual posts for some of the dishes but here's the overview:

  • Apero: yellow-fin tuna with herb vinaigrette
  • Main: Schweinehals roasted in the the Römertopf with baby potatoes, onions, and oranges.
  • Sides: quick-pickled radish; caramelized carrots (I didn't have oven space for this recipe, so I just did them in the pan).
  • Salad: yes
  • Dessert: salty caramel custard
Fortunately, I can pat myself on the back without injuring myself.