Thursday, August 23, 2007


We're leaving tonight and will be returning second week of Sept. There won't be any posts between now and then.

A couple of small things

The past two nights I haven't been doing much in the way of cooking since we've just been trying to clear out the fridge before vacation. The couple of things I've made are:

We had some "winter squash" in the biokiste. I peeled and seeded that, cut it into 1cm dice, then cooked it with water, butter, curry powder, and salt. For the first 10 min I left the pan covered, then I opened it to let the water evaporate. This was a nice, quick prep of winter squash.

The last of the vegetables from last week went last night in the form of some stewed chard and a pseudo-succotash (sweet corn, green pepper, hornpeperoni, onion, garlic, piri piri).

Monday, August 20, 2007

Backpacking prep chaos

More backpacking prep: Polenta

In order to make quick polenta interesting, I mixed some dried mushrooms (20g each herbstrumpetten and porcini) that I chopped up with 35g "dried soup vegetables" (leek, carrot, peppers, parsnips, etc.). I added a few Tbs of this mixture along with a chicken boullion cube and a bit of bacon to the 600ml of water for the polenta and brought it to boil. After letting this sit covered for 5 minutes, I brought it back to a boil and added 125g fine polenta. I stirred this over the heat for a minute then covered it and let it stand for 5 minutes before serving.

The result, aside from the sub-optimal texture, is actually quite good. I'm going to double the vegetable proportion, but this dried mushrooms + vegetables mixture is going to be quite useful when we're underway.

Along with the polenta we had leftover grilled chicken with basil and garlic and a big green salad.

Sunday Pseudoleftovers

I guess these weren't really leftovers since it was stuff that I planned to make on Saturday but didn't because we already had enough food.

I started by grilling a few chicken breasts. I didn't do anything to the chicken other than salt and oil it. Aside: it's amazing how nice a simple grilled chicken breast is when the chicken actually tastes like something. I cut the just-cooked chicken into pieces and then mixed it with the garlic, olive oil, black papper, and basil that was planned as the original coating for grilling. This went in the fridge to marinade for a few hours until it was dinner time.

We ate the cold marinated chicken with spaghetti topped with pesto and some green beans [biokiste] that I parboiled and then sauteed with thinly sliced shallots.

The plate didn't have much in the way of color contrast (green! green! green!), but it was a very nice meal anyway.

For dessert we had grilled pears. We had some very ripe small pears that needed to be eaten so, before I cooked the chicken in the afternoon, I cut them in half, seeded them, and then grilled them.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Backpacking dumplings

Thursday we leave for a 2+ week hiking trip in the Pyrenees. We're going to be doing a some camping as well as staying in huts, so I wanted to expand my repertoire of backpacking food a bit.

Adding dumplings to packaged soup was a suggestion I read a while ago; unfortunately I forgot to note down the recipe for the dumplings. The internet provided a series of recipes based on Bisquick and several derivatives of a recipe from Lydia Itoi. The Bisquick recipes are useless to me, but the other one sounded like a good starting point. I made some adjustments to make the dumplings denser both physically (less baking powder) and nutritionally (powdered whole eggs instead of egg whites, powdered milk).

Dumpling mix
75 g flour
22 g powdered egg (whole egg)
16 g powdered milk
1 tsp baking powder
a couple good pinches of salt

To make the dumplings: add enough water to make a thick batter. Drop in teaspoon sized quantities into boiling soup. Cook for 3-5 minutes.

During today's test I added a couple pinches of herbs de provence to the batter.

This is a good starting point. It's easy to imagine adding pieces of bacon or dehydrated vegetables to the mix and/or aggressively seasoning them.

Saturday at the Grill

Last night we had friends over and did some grilling.

Our contributions were grill bread (recipe from Let the Flames Begin), grilled plums with spicy hoisin sauce (License to Grill), and grilled peaches with a balsamico and black pepper glaze (License to Grill). I had chicken breasts ready to go on with a olive oil/garlic/basil sauce (intended to go with the peaches), but our friends brought loads of meat so that wasn't required.

The grill bread was good but suffered from a lack of salt (cook error); salting it while eating was effective, but not the same. The grilled fruit was excellent.


  1. Gerard Bertrand 2006 L'Hospi Viognier, we had this with the rabbit on Thursday and it was ok; last night Andrea didn't much care for it.
  2. Dourthe No. 1 2006 White Bordeaux, this is a quite nice and grapefruity wine. It worked with the food.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Nanoreview: Cantina Don Camillo (Basel)

This Basel Geht Aus recommendation is on top of the old Warteck brewery in Kleinbasel.

One and a half smiley faces.

  • Food: Good! Pretty creative and carefully done.
  • Service: Our waitress was friendly, but scattered and forgetful.
  • Atmosphere: It's a great place to sit outside on a nice summer evening. I'm not sure how pleasant the inside would be.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Thursday: Rabbit

I've had "do a rabbit recipe from FSToS" in my head for a while now; last night I finally got around to it.

I made the basic stewed rabbit (rabbit chausseur) recipe, and I stuck to it pretty closely. My only deviation was to used halved shallots instead of pearl onions (no pearl onions to be found). The resulting dish was good, but not fantastic. The serving pieces of rabbit were a bit small and fidgety to eat, as well as being a bit dry. The flavor was good, and the sauce was quite nice so there is potential here.

The real highlight last night was the roasted potatoes. For those I diced (1cm dice) some festkochende (waxy) potatoes, mixed them with a bit of butter, some olive oil, coarsely chopped rosemary (not too much!), a couple crumbled bay leaves, salt, and black pepper and then roasted them, stirring occasionally, at 200C until nicely crispy and lightly browned. The flavor combination of the butter, the bay, and the rosemary was very very nice.

We also had sauteed zucchini and a green salad.

Biokiste 18

This week's biokiste includes a note from the farmers asking our understanding of the smaller quantities of some things (particularly tomatoes) and the amazing dirt level of the lettuce. The floods last week hit them too.

Wednesday: Blackeyed Peas

Tuesday night I found a bag of blackeyed peas in the drawer; that provided the main ingredient for Wednesday's meal.

After soaking the beans overnight, I boiled them with onion, garlic, and some bay leaf until they were just about done. In the meantime I browed some diced bacon in a skillet, added chopped onion, garlic, and hornpeperoni and cooked with some additional olive oil until the peppers softened. After adding the cooked beans, some vegetable boullion, black pepper, a pinch of cayenne, and some of the bean cooking liquid, I covered this and let it simmer 10 or so minutes, until the beans were completely cooked. I served the beans topped with chives.

We also had a big green salad.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tuesday: Spaghetti with vegetables and pesto

In marked contrast to the last time I did a similar dish, this time it was pasta with vegetables and not the other way around. :-)

For vegetables I used zucchini and carrots cut into matchsticks as well as finely chopped onion. I sauteed these in olive oil until the vegetables were tender then served them with pesto (basil, pine nuts, garlic, sbrinz, olive oil) over spaghetti.

We also had a leftover cervelas from the weekend and a green salad.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sunday at the Grill

Andrea's parents came through town yesterday, so we did some grilling.

We didn't have anything fancy: Cervelas (er, sorry, "Bebbi Klopfer"), Grillschnecken (a sausage like Nürnberger bratwurst that's rolled into a spiral and fixed with a skewer; this is another sausage from canton Vaud), and pork chops (bone-in, seasoned with plenty of salt and freshly cracked pepper).

I also made a room temp potato salad (slow-cooked potatoes, sherry vinegar, mayo, and chives) and some quick pickles (daikon, cucumber, and celery salted for a bit in the pickle press then rinsed and mixed with cracked coriander and rice vinegar). Of course we had a green salad as well.

Simple food, but good food.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Nanoreview: Glacebar Glatscharia (Basel)

This ice cream place is relatively new and about 10 minutes walk from our flat. Not only is the ice cream is excellent, but they have interesting flavors (ginger-prosecco! chocolate-chili!), and it's made from bio-milk by a small company in Engadin. So not exactly local, but it wins on all the other fronts. :-)

I think we finally found our ice cream source... too bad it's so close.

Jerk burgers with chipotle-orange mayo

This is a pretty substantially modified version of a recipe from Bon Appetit. It made more sense to me to integrate the solids into the burger and there was no way in hell I was going to use the quantity of sugar they call for.

For the mayo: Finely mince a couple canned chipotles and add them to 1/4 cup mayo along with a few tsp of the adobo. Add a couple Tbs orange juice and mix well. Taste for heat and orange juice. Note: this would be better if the OJ were reduced first so that you can add more without overly thinning the mayo. That's for next time.

For the burgers:
500g ground beef
1 small red onion, chopped
1 habanero, chopped
1 Tbs fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbs peanut oil

Combine the onion, habanero, thyme, and oil in a minichop and process until minced. Mix gently but thoroughly with the beef and salt (not a full portion, there's soy sauce in the marinade). Form burgers.

For the marinade:
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs peanut oil
1 Tbs prepared mustard
1 tsp sugar
10 allspice berries, ground

Combine everything and mix well.

Spoon the marinade over the burgers and let them sit for 20-30 minutes at room temperature before grilling.

This was spectacular food.

Grilling again!

We've been saying for months now that we ought to get a grill, but somehow it hasn't happened. Friday's Splendid Table "Griller's Chronicle" recipe for Jamaican Jerk Burgers with Orange Chipotle Mayo was the straw that broke the camel's back. Yesterday we determinedly set out and returned with a nice-looking kettle grill (on the tram... what fun). Last night I put the new toy, er, I mean tool, to the test.

I made some pretty substantial modifications to both the recipe and the technique, so I'm going to do a standalone post for the burgers.

In addition to the burgers, I grilled some zucchini planks and a hornpeperoni. We also had a nice green salad.

It's great to have a grill again... it was dumb to wait so long. :-)

Saturday, August 11, 2007


I feel a rant coming on about cookbooks and the importance of mise en place for home cooking... we'll see how this develops

Lentils and Sausage

This was a straightforward one but oh... so... good.

I started by sauteeing finely chopped onion, minced garlic, diced celery, and diced carrots in some olive oil until everything started to soften. I added green (French) lentils and some vegetable boullion, fresh thyme, bay leaf, and fresh savory and cooked until the lentils were about 3/4 done. Then I added some sliced saucisson Vaudoise and let it simmer until everything was done.

I suspected that the addition of savory was going to lead to something nice and I definitely was not disappointed.

As a side I made sauteed cauliflower. And we had a green salad. All veggies (except garlic) were from the biokiste.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Thursday: potatoes with cheese sauce

Andrea wasn't home for dinner last night, so I went for something quick that helped use up the last of the veggies from last week: potatoes and salad.

After boiling the peeled potatoes, I served them with a cheese sauce made from Emmenthaler to which I added chopped parsley and chives.

The salads were shredded carrots with blended salsa and diced cucumber with salt and vinegar.

simple and nice.

Biokiste 17

I'm guessing that the missing tomatoes this week are due to the absurd amounts of rain we've been getting, but that's just a guess. The newcomer this week is celery.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Tuesday: Veal in an herb sauce

I planned to make this dish with chicken, but veal was on sale so I used veal instead. It has happened before, it will happen again...

As to the dish: I started by lightly browning 300g of veal geschnetzeltes in olive oil. I set the meat aside and added a finely chopped red onion, a couple minced garlic cloves, and a good sized carrot (diced small) to the pan. After cooking for about 5 minutes, I added a zucchini cut into chunks. This cooked for a minute or so, then I added a small amount of stock (bouillon), the veal, a Tbs of capers, and a Tbs chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, and lemon thyme). This cooked, covered over low heat, for about 20 minutes, then I added a few Tbs of cream and let it cook, uncovered, another couple minutes. Just before serving I added a pinch of cayenne, a couple grinds of black pepper, and a good quantity (~1/4 cup) chopped parsley and basil.

As a side we had the leftover pseudo-succotash from Monday and some rice/wild rice.

Oh yeah, and a green salad.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Monday: Tomato soup and "something like succotash"

Last night I did another cold (room temp, really) tomato soup variation and used the sweet corn from last week's biokiste to make something resembling succotash (without lima beans it can't be real succotash and I haven't found lima beans here).

The tomato soup was simplicity itself: I put the tomatoes through the food mill (medium disc); added some new mexican chili powder, a bit of chipotle powder, salt, and cream; mixed well; and then let sit for a while for the flavors to meld.

For the pseudo-succotash I cooked a chopped red onion, some minced garlic, and a few chopped hornpeperoni (long green peppers) in olive oil with lardons (smoked bacon). When the peppers started to soften and the bacon was cooked, I added the corn kernels, some soissons beans, and a bit of chicken bouillon and then let the whole thing cook gently for another 5-10 minutes, until the corn was cooked.

Both the soup and the succotash were very good.

We also had some bread and a green salad.

Wine: Valley of the Moon 1999 Pinot Blanc. I'd been afraid to open this bottle because I thought there was no way it would have survived 7-8 years. Luckily that was incorrect. It's totally different than when it was young, but it was still quite nice.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Sunday: Abendbrot

I bought too much stuff for our breakfasts this weekend, so last night we had the remaining ham, salami, and fleischkase as abendbrot. We also had the last bit of vegetable tart from Saturday night and a nice green salad.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Saturday's Vegetable Tart

For this I more or less followed the technique (if not the recipe) for eggplant tart in BittmanWorld. As vegetables I used onion, garlic, zucchini, and two kinds of peppers (red bell and green "hornpeperoni"). I complemented the basil with a bit of fresh thyme and used grated sbrinz as the cheese.

My crust, naturally, ended up being ugly. I'm normally not quite so bad with pie crust, but this was a larger, deeper, pan than our usual tart pan and, and, and. Still, the crust had nice flavor and acceptable texture.

As I said, the result isn't pretty, but it sure was tasty:

Saturday's Rösti

There were biokiste potatoes to be used, so this time I didn't do rösti from a bag... I started from scratch. Since things turned out rather well, I'll do some detail.

After peeling and grating the potatoes (I used the standard box grater we brought from the US, but I think a coarser grater would be better here), I wrapped them in a kitchen towel and wrung them out very well to get out as much moisture as possible. I think this really helps to get a crisp result.

I started by cooking some thinly sliced smoked bacon in peanut oil over medium-high heat in a non-stick pan large enough to hold the final rösti. When the bacon was cooked (but not browned), I added the potatoes, a few pinches of salt, mixed everything well, and then pressed down the mass (with the lid from a smaller pot) to form a cake. After cooking for 3-4 minutes, I stirred everything up, seasoned a bit more, and then pressed it down again. After doing this a few times, the potatoes started to look cooked, so I pressed the whole mass down again and let it cook undisturbed for about 10-15 minutes (until the bottom was clearly nicely browned). I then flipped the thing over (using a plate! the sides of my saute pan are too high to actually flip it), added a bit more oil to the pan, and let the other side cook for 10-15 minutes or until it was nicely browned. Just before serving, I cranked the heat up and refreshed the top (first cooked) side so that both sides were nice and crisp.

This was a very successful rösti and is a pretty straightforward (if time consuming) technique.

Dinner party

Last night we had a couple of friends over for dinner. The theme of the evening was "Summer's Bounty" (a.k.a. "use up vegetables!").

Dinner was:

  1. A vegetable (zucchini, peppers, onion, herbs) tart
  2. Rösti with bacon
  3. Chard stewed with olive oil, butter, and a bit of balsamico
  4. And, of course, green salad
We had gone to the Saturday market to get fruit, so for dessert we had fruit, nuts, and cheese:
  1. two kinds of plums, as well as mirabelles
  2. some very small variety of pear
  3. dried apricots and dates
  4. toasted walnuts
  5. toasted almonds with cumin and salt
  6. Emmenthal and Bundner cheeses
The food was very successful (aside from the crust on the tart being ugly, er, I mean, rustic). I'll do separate postings for the tart and the rösti.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Thursday: stuffed eggplant

After scooping out the insides of a couple medium sized eggplants, I cooked some finely chopped onions and garlic in olive oil until the onions were translucent. Then I added the (finely chopped) eggplant insides and a good pinch of salt. I cooked this over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, until the eggplant had nicely broken down. In a separate pan I browned some ground pork and beef (with salt, of course), which I then combined with the cooked eggplant mush. After seasoning with allspice, a bit of fennel, some cayenne, and black pepper, I squeezed in some lemon juice and then filled the eggplant halves. These baked at 180C for about 30 minutes, until the eggplants were soft.

As a starch, I made a batch of soupy rice using risotto rice and chicken stock (from the carcass of the roasted chicken). I added a slug of white wine and bit of butter at the end to liven it up.

We also had the last of the gazpacho from Wednesday along with a green salad.

Biokiste 16

Not just red salad tomatoes this time; there are also a few plum tomatoes, a green tomato, and some nice orange grape tomatoes. And two ears of sweet corn. Sweet corn! Oh, and chard and the other usual suspects.

Wednesday Gazpacho

To go along with the leftover roast chicken, I made a batch of gazpacho from the recipe in La Cocina de Mama. I used the food mill again to start things out, but this time I only pureed/emulsified about 1/3 of the tomato with the onions, garlic, bread, oil, and vinegar. After making the emulsion, I stirred it into the remaining tomato. This produced a nicer texture than the fully pureed variant.

I served the gazpacho topped with chives and freshly toasted almonds that I slivered just before serving.