Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Monday: Roasted Chicken

I have to periodically roast a chicken just to remind myself that I'm not particularly good at it. Last night was the time.

I seasoned the chicken simply by rubbing the pulp from a preserved lemon quarter as well as some slivers of the rind under the skin of the breast. In the body cavity I put a some onion chunks and the rest of the preserved lemon quarter. 15 minutes into the roasting I added chunks of potato, carrot, and onion to the pan. When the bird was done I pulled it and roasted the vegetables, along with some chunks of yellow summer squash, and additional 15 minutes. All vegetables were from the biokiste.

This turned out quite nicely. The thighs weren't cooked quite as far as I would like, but that's a problem that will solve itself when I reheat them (yesterday we just ate the breast). The vegetables were very good (I have no problem with roasting vegetables).

We also had a green salad.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday Tapas

This is what happens when I leave work earlyish and walk home so I have loads of time to think about what to make for dinner:

  1. Dates stuffed with bacon and broiled (warm)
  2. Almonds sauteed with cumin
  3. Peppadew peppers stuffed with manchego
  4. Elbow macaroni with a tomato-sour cream-sherry vinegar sauce (room temp)
  5. Potato salad with bacon, chives, sherry vinegar, olive oil, and fresh rosemary (warm)
  6. Summer squash (yellow and green) stir fried with finely diced (brunoise) carrot and served with "spanish pesto" (basil, toasted almond, manchego, olive oil), served hot
Loads of food, but very good food. All veggies were from the biokiste except the rosemary and basil, which came from our balcony.

Wine: Baron de Schiele Cremant d'Alsace. I almost bought a bottle of cava, but then I saw this bottle and tasted it in my head.

oh, and 7. green salad

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thursday: Vegetables and pasta

Given the quantity of vegetables that we needed to eat in order to clear out the fridge for this week's biokiste, tonight was definitely vegetables with pasta and not the other way around.

We started with a tomato-ginger soup. For the soup Andrea put some tomatoes through the food mill (medium disc), added microplaned ginger, salt, pepper, some mirin to balance it, and a bit of cream to bring it together.

Our main course was a bunch of vegetables cooked with diced smoked bacon. I started the bacon in olive oil until it started to brown, then added onion, garlic, and some chopped fennel. When those softened, I added zucchini (cut into planks), seasoned it, added a few dried piri-piri peppers, tossed well, and covered the pan. After the zucchini started to soften, I added some coarsely chopped basel and cooked until the zucchini was finished. We ate this next to Hörnli (elbow macaroni).

As a side, I "pan steamed" some green beans (cooking them covered over medium heat with a bit of oil, a few sprigs of savory, white pepper, and salt). I poured in some cream a couple minutes before serving and cooked until that was reduced away.

Wine: R. Gilliard 2006 Fendant de Sions (Les Murettes). quite a nice Swiss white.

Biokiste 15

mmm, eggplant. And tomatoes. Loads of tomatoes!

Wednesday Simplicity

Simplicity was the "theme" of last night's meal, which consisted of:

  1. Lemon sole (Echte Rotzungen) fillets sauteed in butter
  2. steamed new potatoes
  3. steamed vegetable threads (zucchini, carrots, long green pepper)
  4. a blended salsa (tomatoes, lime juice, habanero, red onion, garlic, cilantro, salt)
all vegetables except the onion and garlic were from the biokiste.

We also had a green salad.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Sunday Mexican

While in Zurich on Saturday we went to a shop Andrea found that sells Mexican ingredients. It's in Zurich, so the place is super overpriced, but it was still nice to find things like decent corn tortillas and dried Mexican chilies.

To celebrate, last night I made Mexican. I started by making a pot of black beans cooked with onions and garlic; I added some toasted cumin and coriander at the end. Then I made a bowl of fresh salsa: biokiste tomatoes, red onion, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, habanero (or the same family) peppers, and salt.

Shortly before eating, I cut up a yellow summer squash and cooked that covered over medium heat with some olive oil, onions, and garlic.

Our main course was thinly cut pork chops (nierstuck) that I seared in a pan and then topped with the salsa. Next to that we had the squash and the black beans topped with fresh cilantro and sour cream. Warm corn tortillas were on the side.

What a nice meal it was. I need to make salsa more frequently as long as we're getting tomatoes.

Of course we had a green salad as well.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday Night Pesto

Tonight I made a nice batch of pesto using basil from our terrace (Basel basil, ha ha ha ha), pine nuts, good olive oil, parmesan, black pepper, and a small clove of garlic. We ate this over spaghetti. It's been quite a while since I made "plain" pesto, and this was a very nice example of the species.

As a side dish, I steamed some carrots and zucchini [both biokiste] and then tossed them with brown butter and salt. These I served topped with chopped chives. The combination of the zucchini and brown butter was almost magical.

With a green salad, this was a very clean, fresh, and nice meal.

You see, this is why I don't bake

For Andrea's birthday I made a "Kirschkuchen Hässlicher Art":

Biokiste 14

The summer squash is starting now for real; excellent!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Wednesday vegetables: Zucchini and carrot "spaghetti"

We've done pretty well on finishing up this week's biokiste, but there were still a few zucchini remaining, so tonight those needed to go. While flipping through Kamman for ideas, I found a nice solution. I thinly sliced some zucchini and carrots lengthwise with the ceramic slicer, then cut the slices into "spaghetti" by hand. These I cooked n batches in the bamboo steamer. As each batch finished, I moved them to a pan where I had lightly browned some minced garlic in olive oil.

I'm not nearly hard core enough to do this the way Kamman suggests: holding the vegetables in my hand over the steam(!), but using the bamboo steamer and gently turning the batch with tongs worked just fine. The result was delicious. We had it as a "main course", but it would also be a very nice accompaniment.

As a side, I toasted some walnuts and added them to the Ebly-salad from last night.

And we had a green salad.

Tuesday's Salads (and "Pie")

It's hot again, so cooking can be less than completely fun. Last night we just had salad to go along with the leftover pork chops. In addition to the standard green salad, I made an Ebly-salad from cooked hartweizen, thinly sliced fennel, thinly sliced onion, fresh basil, sherry vinegar, and olive oil.

We also had, wonder of wonders, dessert. With so many cherries, something had to be done. Pie, as suggested by BrianS, is definitely a good way to do something, but I didn't want to make a crust. So I used the leftover puff pastry from last week's potpie. I started by lining a couple ramekins with pastry and blind baking that. After filling with cherries I topped with another layer of pastry and then baked the whole thing until nicely browned up top. We ate this at room temp topped with quark:Nice dessert!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Monday: Pork chops with preserved-fruit relish

The idea for this came Sunday night when we were having dried dates and apricots as part of a salad. I guess at heart it's also inspired by the "power pack" idea from the Schlesinger and Willoughby cookbooks.

For the relish I mixed finely diced dates, dried apricots, preserved lemon, and red onion. To this I added olive oil, black pepper, and a bit of white wine to plump the fruit some. I let this sit for an hour before serving it.

The pork chops were simplicity incarnate: I seasoned them and then browned them in a cast iron skillet. After resting the pork, I topped it with the relish.

We ate it with relish. :-)

We also finished off the panzanella from Sunday and had a green salad.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sunday's salads

It was super hot today, so the motivation to cook was pretty low. Luckily we had tons of good bread left over and a bunch of tomatoes from the biokiste. Panzanella was the order of the day.

I used an idea from A Tuscan in the Kitchen that ended up being massively modified based on what we had in the kitchen. No big deal, the ideas on Tuscan in the Kitchen are meant to be modified. :-)

I sliced the bread thick and let it dry out for a while in the sun on our terrace. Then I tossed it with some vegetable boullion, red wine vinegar, and capers. I added chunks of tomatoes, thinly sliced fennel, and thinly sliced red onion, olive oil, and a good grind of pepper. This steeped in the fridge for a couple hours before serving. As a piss-take, I plated this using a ring mold.

I also made a side-salad plate with mozarella, basil, toasted walnuts, toasted almonds, dried dates, and dried apricots. The date + walnut + basil combination is one to remember for the future.

Quite a nice meal this was!

Wine: Mauritson's 2004 Sauvignon blanc.

oops forgot: Saturday crepes

Yeah, we had crepes for breakfast yesterday morning. I used the batter recipe from Bittman and we had grated cheese (Gstaad Bergkase) and cherries with quark as fillings.

mmm, crepes

Saturday Lunch: Wurstsalat

For lunch yesterday I did a wurstsalat with wienerli (instead of cervelas), emmenthaler, a bit of garlic, and a sauce made from quark, mayo, mustard, basil, chives, and parsley. I forgot the pickles, but it was quite good anyway.

Today the I'll remember the pickles. :-)

Cherries, cherries, cherries

After last weekend's success with cherries, I said: "Maybe next week we can get another kilo or two and a pitter and try canning some cherries". Yesterday we made maybe a certainty. :-)

After much searching we ended up finding the last cherry pitter in the city of Basel (at least it seemed that way), and that a display model. At the market Andrea must have been quite charming to the farmer (or maybe it's just the end of the season :-), because she asked for 3 kilos and he gave us a flat with 5-6 kilos. We got sour cherries because they were the only thing available, but they are what you are "supposed" to use for preserves anyway... so no problem there.

At home the work started. The pitter actually made things pretty painless.

The pitter design is very simple: the cherries fall one at a time over a hole with a plastic gasket at the bottom. The plunger comes down and pushes the pit through the gasket:when the plunger comes back up, it lifts the pitless cherry over the lip that was holding it over the hole, and the cherry falls into your collecting bowl. Super simple, very effective, and you can do a lot of cherries pretty quickly:
After pitting the cherries, I mixed them with a kilo of gelierzucker (sugar + pectin) and slowly brought them almost to a boil:Before "canning" the cherries, I ladled off a lot of the liquid to be canned separately as "jelly" (I checked that it actually would gel first). Here's the final result of our work:That's 6x300ml jars with primarily cherries, 3x500ml jars with a higher ratio of liquid to cherries, and 4x300ml jars with "jelly". If these things survive, we'll have makings for all kinds of nice food. I'm particularly looking forward to Wildzeit (when game is available)... there was something in the flavor of the cherries that just screamed "venison!!!". I say "if", because I'm I'm always a bit wary of preserving and there's added uncertainty this time since I haven't used the plastic-foil sealing method before. The jars are definitely still holding some vacuum, so we'll see.

The total processing time, including cleaning and pitting the cherries and doing the canning, was about 2 hours.

Saturday Grilling

Last night we did a barbecue with some coworkers. Our contribution was skewers with chunks of lamb, red onion, and red pepper. Ok, really it was skewers with lamb and onion and then other skewers with red pepper... the cooking times of the peppers and the lamb are too different for them to share a skewer.

The lamb was a boneless leg that I bought and froze back in the spring. I started Friday night by trimming it a bit and cutting it into chunks, then marinating with preserved lemon (finally finished!), fresh rosemary, garlic, bay leaf, black pepper, a bit of cumin, and olive oil. Yesterday afternoon I made a complementary "sauce" with a bit more preserved lemon, rosemary, garlic, parsley, and white pepper. I grilled the lamb skewers on a hot grill so that they were nicely browned outside and still a bit pink inside. They were quite, quite nice.

I've known this for a while, but it's now somewhat urgent: we need a grill.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Thursday Pot Pie

There's a recipe for chicken pot pie in FSToS that I've been meaning to make for years. Last night I finally did. Kind of. Given the number of changes I made, I guess I should say that I made a dish inspired by that recipe.

The modifications started when I noticed that veal was on sale at Coop. So it became a veal pot pie instead of chicken. Then there were green beans in the biokiste; since green beans and veal go together so nicely, I had to use them. So green beans instead of peas. I used small onions from the biokiste cut in half instead of pearl onions. I skipped the mushrooms. I skipped the thyme since I used a very aromatic stock (the last of the aspic). I added some white wine. I thickened the sauce a bit with cornstarch.

In the end I combined browned veal cubes, roasted potatoes, onions, garlic, carrot, and green beans in a light sauce, covered it with a piece of blätterteig and then baked it. It was quite good, but could have used a bit more sauce.

We also had a mozzarella, tomato [biokiste], basel salad as well as a green salad.

Wine: Buess 2005 Maispracher: this white wine from the Basel area went well with the food.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Biokiste 13

This week's box has the first thin green beans of the season as well as a bunch of tomatoes and basil. Not visible is a goodly quantity of potatoes, onions, and carrots.

There was one particularly interesting "twin carrot":

Wednesday Leftovers

Last night we finished off most of the sauteed vegetables from Monday. To go with them I cooked some green beans with salt, olive oil, savory, and garlic (medium heat, covered pan) and made some boiled new potatoes with butter and parsley. The beans, savory, and potatoes were all from the biokiste.

yeah, and a green salad.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Monday Vegetables

Last night I did a standard sauteed vegetable prep using smoked pork (Schweinehals), zucchini, fennel, carrots, tomatoes, onions, and garlic (all except onions and garlic from the biokiste). As herbs I used bay leaf, rosemary, and savory. I started by browning the cubed pork, added the onions, garlic, and diced carrot to brown for a bit. I added the chopped fennel for a minute or so, then added the rest of the ingredients along with a small amount of chicken stock (aspic) from this weekend. This all cooked, covered, for about 30 minutes before being served topped with chopped parsley and chives.

We ate the vegetables with lightly browned spaetzle and some romaine lettuce cooked in butter. Nice food.

Of course we had a green salad as well.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


We picked up a kilo of half-sour local cherries at the market yesterday (the full-sour ones were just nuts). We couldn't find a pitter, but Andrea "volunteered" and took care of the whole batch in "no time at all". I combined the pitted cherries with some gelierzucker and gently cooked them for a bit until everything looked nice.

We tried these over quark as dessert and were quite happy with them.

Maybe next week we can get another kilo or two and a pitter and try canning some cherries.

Saturday's Cooking Festival

It wasn't too hot yesterday and we didn't have too much other stuff that absolutely needed to get done, so I ended up doing a lot of cooking.

In addition to the poulet en saucisse that we had as a main course, I made a batch of gazpacho, some potato salad, and sauteed greens.

For the gazpacho I followed the recipe for Gazpacho Andaluz in La Cocina de Mama pretty closely aside from using a long green pepper instead of a red bell pepper (that's what was in the biokiste). I used a slightly different technique though: I started by putting the tomatoes through the food mill to get rid of the skins. I pureed the other ingredients (garlic, pepper, bread, sherry vinegar, olive oil) separately with the stick blender, added them to the tomatoes and then mixed a while longer with the stick blender. The result, garnished with chives and finely diced cucumber, was a really nice soup (though I wished for a bottle of tabasco to lend it a bit of heat). I like the addition of cumin to the dish, though I wouldn't do that all the time.

The potato salad ended up being a real star. I started from an uncharacteristically vague recipe from this month's Le Menu for a potato "sauce" to be served with the Pouletbraten recipe (that inspired me to make ballottine in the first place), but I think I ended up far from where they intended. Since the final result was so good, I'm not too sad about this. :-)

I started by cooking some whole potatoes from the biokiste. I did this very slowly in order to get to the persistent firmness stage (thank you Harold McGee for this trick!). After cooling the cooked potatoes, I peeled them then grated them into a bowl (this is where that persistent firmness thing was needed). To this I added a minced clove of garlic, some mayo, quark, chopped basil, chopped parsley, some veggie bouillon, salt, and black pepper. After mixing well I let the salad sit for half an hour before serving.

I'm not sure what it is, but there's something very "Swiss" to me about this potato salad. It's not exactly light, but the flavors are very clear and fresh. Fantastic stuff.

Ballottine/Poulet en Saucisse

I really like galantine- and ballottine-type things but I'd never made one. I watched my friends John and Kara make a turducken once, but that was entirely another order of magnitude in terms of size of undertaking. This month's Le Menu has a recipe for a roast made from stuffed and rolled chicken breasts that sounds pretty good and that got me thinking about galantine. Techniques, as expected, provided step-by-step instructions.

I figured that boning the chicken would take a while, but it turned out to only be about 30 minutes. With practice it would be much faster. Here's the boned-out bird:
I more or less followed the recipe, though I skipped the liver and extra fat in the meat filling (mistake) and added some rehydrated porcinis to the mushroom mixture (good move):
We couldn't find cheesecloth per se yesterday (and we live in the land of cheese... how could that be?), so I ended up using "gauze cloths" from the baby department of Coop. Funny place to buy it, but basically the same thing:
After browning this (through the gauze... weird!), I poached it in chicken stock for 1.5 hours. My only deviation for the poaching liquid was to use a bit of fennel stalk instead of a rib of celery.

Here's the finished ballottine, ready to be sliced:
The end result is tasty, but it does take rather a long time and I would make some changes before doing it again:

  1. I overfilled the bird a bit, so it kind of fell apart on slicing.
  2. Just using seasoned ground pork as the filling was a mistake. The liver and added fat (to make a pate de compagne there in the middle) would have made this much better.
  3. I didn't reduce the stock enough to get an aspic for serving. This didn't make Andrea (an aspic skeptic) unhappy, but I will still go ahead and reduce the stock some more tonight.
Update, 9 July: After reducing the stock by a factor of about four, I ended up with something that made a nice, clear, shiny aspic. The ballotine itself was also a lot more tractable after spending a night in the fridge so we actually ended up with something that looked like it was supposed to:

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Nano review: Pata Negra (Basel)

This Spanish place has been on the list of places to try for a while.

One smiley face.

  • Food: quite good but not especially creative, distinctive, or absolutely stellar.
  • Service: very good
  • Atmosphere: very nice (mabye a bit empty, but that's hardly their fault)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Biokiste 12

Given the quantity of tomatoes in this box, I think there will be some gazpacho made this weekend. oh yeah.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Tuesday: Veggies veggies veggies!

Tonight was one of those "oh crap, there are loads of vegetables left and we get a new biokiste the day after tomorrow" nights.

We had penne topped with caramelized vegetables and toasted-almond pesto and cauliflower mashed with bacon. That worked through a lot of the remaining items from the box. :-)

For the pasta sauce I diced some carrots and onions very small (brunoise size), chopped up a fennel bulb into small bits and sauteed the whole thing with a pinch of salt in olive oil and butter until it started to brown. I then added a ladle of pasta-cooking water and another knob of butter to get a sauce.

The pesto is similar to one I made the other night, but I skipped the garlic and added some piri piri peppers and sbrinz cheese. The combination of toasted almonds, cumin, and basil is really, really nice.

The cauliflower was a model of simplicity: I cooked the whole head in acidulated water until tender, rinsed it well, and the separated the florets. I browned some diced bacon in a bit of olive oil, then added the cauliflower and cooked until it started to brown a bit and was heated through. After transferring this to a heated bowl, I mashed it using a potato masher.

Of course we had a green salad too.

Idea: There's a pesto is a sauce for grilled meat just waiting to happen: I bet putting the garlic back in along with a shot of sherry vinegar (maybe leaving the cheese out?) will produce something fantastic.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Sunday: The Coulis Makes the Meal

I came up with the idea for this on the train back from our hiking trip. My goal was something relatively easy and quick since we were both tired. After planning the meal and thinking the logistics through, I came up with an estimate of 30 minutes to prepare dinner. It actually took 35. Damn! :-)

The meal centered around a simple tomato coulis that I made by pureeing some peeled and seeded tomatoes [biokiste] with a clove of garlic, fresh savory[biokiste], sweet paprika, salt, and good olive oil. I served this at room temperature. It's a very nice sauce.

For the meal's protein component, I gently mixed ground beef with salt and minced onion. I loosely packed this into small patties and then pan fried them. Since we can get good ground beef (Switzerland++), these were very tasty. Next time I'm going to take the "leave it out" principle one step further and skip the onions.

I also boiled some green beans (a flattish variety) from the biokiste and then finished them by sauteeing in olive oil. These also went beautifully with the coulis.

To round out the plate we had some rice (rice/wild rice mix).

Of course we had a green salad on the side.