Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Catchup Part 2

Cooking at Andrea's family's house.  (Cooking under challenging conditions)

Tuesday (23 Dec): Beef "Bourginon" (The main thing is that the meat be tender and there be a sauce)
Brown 800g salted beef stew meat well. Brown 100g lardons. Cook 2 big carrots, 125g minced shallots until they start to soften. Deglaze with 750ml of red wine (I used beaujolais). Add back the meats along with 2 bay leaves, 4 cloves, sufficient chicken bouillon, and a good grind of black pepper. Simmer until the beef is about tender. Brown 200g mushrooms (cut into pieces) in butter and add to the stew. Simmer until the beef is tender. Adjust seasonings, thicken a bit if desired, and serve with pasta.
Next time: when cooking for this audience thicken the sauce a bit more.

Thursday (25 Dec) Lunch: Radicchio hash (Using up leftovers Part 1)
Brown some ground meat well, set aside. Brown some finely chopped bacon well. Add diced onion and minced garlic and cook until the onion softens. Add the ground meat, and some radicchio (from the biokiste, brought with us from Basel) that's been cut into strips. Season with salt, black pepper, and some ground chili. Cook until the radicchio is about soft, then add diced cooked potato. Continue to cook until the potato is heated through. Adjust seasonings and serve.

Thursday (25 Dec) Dinner: Baked poultry legs (Cooking for the masses, but trying to at least have it be somewhat interesting)
For the duck legs: Cook over medium-high heat skin-side down in a pan until the skin browns nicely and some of the fat renders. Season the flesh side, flip, and brown the flesh side. Season both sides with salt, pepper, and crushed fennel and place flesh-side down on orange slices in a baking sheet.
For the chicken legs: season with salt, pepper, and crushed fennel and place in the baking sheet.
Bake both at 180C until the skins are crisp and the juices run clear. Serve with the defatted pan juices and lemon slices.
Next time: cook the two types of poultry in different pans since they have different cooking times.

Friday (26 Dec) Lunch: "Tortilla" (Using up leftovers Part 2)
Cook sliced cooked potato, thinly sliced onion, and bacon lardons in a pan with a bit of oil utnil the potatoes are lightly browned. Season with salt, pepper, and ground red chili. Reduce heat and pour over four beaten eggs. Top with thinly sliced cheese (aged gouda) and cover the pan. Cook until the top is no longer liquid and then serve.

Christmas Catchup Part 1

Cooking with Andreas and Ludger

Saturday: Pasta with a sauce from ground beef, carrots, onion, garlic, veggie bouillon, minced lemon zest, rosemary, canned tomatoes, olive oil.

Sunday: Lentils with carrots, leeks, celery, bacon, vermouth, veggie bouillon, bay leaf, and thyme sprigs. Grilled tuna, steaks, and turkey skewers with sate sauce.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thursday: Brussel sprouts with bacon and garlic

To go along with the remains of the pasta with cheese sauce from Wednesday : Lightly brown some smoked bacon lardons in olive oil with some chopped garlic and a couple piri piri peppers. Add halved brussels sprouts that have been cut in half, parboiled, and shocked. Cook until the sprouts lightly caramelize, adjust seasoning, and serve.

Wednesday: Pasta with onion-cheese sauce

This was a relatively quick one.

Cook a thinly sliced onion over medium-high heat in some olive oil until it caramelizes. Sprinkle over some flour and cook, stirring constantly, a minute or so. Add milk, reduce the heat, and cook (stirring!) until the milk is about to simmer. Stir in some creme fraiche for good measure. Stir in grated cheese (I used gruyere and winzer) in batches. Add a good grind of black pepper and a sprinkle of hot paprika, adjust seasoning, and serve over hot pasta (I used whole wheat pipe rigata) sprinkled with julienned bundnerfleisch.

With this, which was really good, we had the required big green salad.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Monday: Savoy cabbage side

Last night we needed a side to go along with the leftover meatloaf. I did two: as a starch I made some Ebli. 

As a vegetable I followed a recipe from AFK for savoy cabbage: boil the leaves until just short of tender; shock them; chop them into a 1cm chiffonade; toss in a pan with some butter until warmed through and tender; stir in some creme fraiche; serve with fleur du sel.

Nice, nice stuff.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sunday : Garbure

This was a meal to try out our new crock pot/slow cooker. I followed the garbure recipe from AFK, but adapted the process for the slow cooker. 

The results were good, but not as good as I would have hoped for. The presence of cabbage and beans in a dish made me think of beans and greens, and this wasn't nearly as good as beans and greens. Ah well, next time maybe I'll try the recipe from Wolfert. (yeah, right, if I have three or four days advance notice)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Saturday: Meatloaf and a Rösti Zweierlei

Meatloaf and beet Rösti have each been floating around towards the top of my ToCook list for a couple of weeks. Last night I checked both boxes. 

For the meatloaf: combine 330g mixed beef and pork; 125g veal brät; 30g (or so) finely diced bacon; one small carrot, half a stalk of celery, and a small onion, all diced very small; 1 stalk rosemary, finely chopped; breadcrumbs; salt, black pepper, and some marjoram. Form into a loaf and place in a baking pan (it should be firm enough to stand free). Brush with a glaze made from tomato paste, red wine, and black pepper. Bake at 175C until done. Brush with the glaze every 30 min.

For the Rösti: Make a half portion of potatoes for a standard rösti and a half portion of beets+rosemary for a beet rösti. Melt the butter and clarified butter in a pan and then form half a rösti on each side from the beets and the potatoes. Cook as normal.

This was nice, and very photogenic, food. The zweierlei thing with the rösti was an amusing conceit, but it would probably be better to do two separate things and serve them next to each other -- the potatoes and beets really have separate optimum cooking times.

Of course we also had a big green salad.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Friday: Spaghetti with peppers, leeks, and ham; braised radicchio

More "Cuisine de la boite bio" ;-)

Saute some sliced peppers and leeks with diced ham in olive oil until they get all melty. Add a bit of pasta cooking water and adjust seasonings. Serve over spaghetti with a drizzle of olive oil and copious grated parmesan.

As a side: caramelize the sides of quartered radicchio in olive oil. Reduce heat, season, and cook until it softens. Glaze by cooking for the last 5 minutes with some reduced balsamico. Grind over some black pepper and serve.

We eat well in this house. :-)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thursday: Baked sauerkraut

A simple one, driven by the bag of sauerkraut from the biokiste from two weeks ago (good thing sauerkraut doesn't really go bad!).

Toss sauerkraut (already mixed with caraway and juniper berries) with a thinly sliced onion, chopped garlic, and some diced ham. Transfer to an oiled gratin dish; top with caraway seeds and black pepper; add a bit of stock; bake at 175 for an hour.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tuesday: Lamb and beet stew, root vegetable gratin

Yesterday I left work a bit early and ended up having something like a big cooking afternoon. The goal was to use up a bunch of root vegetables from the biokiste: beets, celery root, parsnips (or parsley root... it's hard to tell sometimes), and carrots. The celery root suggested a gratin, but I couldn't see the beets working there. The first thought with beets has to be to make a rösti, but that somehow didn't appeal (unusually). But that got me thinking about beets and rosemary; and then I thought of a stew (borscht!); and that led to lamb stew. I don't think I've had lamb and beets before, but they each go well with rosemary so I went with the "friend of a friend is also a friend" principle and tried a lamb and beet stew.

For the stew: Lightly caramelize a couple of 1cm diced beets in a bit of clarified butter, set aside. In a separate pan brown 500g seasoned lamb stew meat in batches in olive oil.  Remove the lamb from the pan and add two chopped onions, three minced garlic cloves, a diced carrot, a finely chopped half stalk of celery, and a good pinch of salt. Cook till nicely aromatic. Deglaze with some red wine (syrah please). Add the lamb and beets, a couple bay leaves, the leaves from a couple sprigs of rosemary, a good grind of black pepper, another cup of red wine and enough water to just about cover the lamb. Bring to a simmer and let cook, partially covered, until the lamb is tender. Thicken before serving with a bit of potato starch and adjust seasonings. Serve sprinkled with some minced fresh rosemary.

The gratin: slice (with the ceramic slicer) one celery root, one large yellow carrot, one large orange carrot, two thick parsnips. Layer into a buttered gratin dish: celery, yellow carrot, parsnip, orange carrot, celery. In a small pot, heat together 2dl cream with 2dl milk and a generous shake of veggie bouillon. Pour over the gratin, grind over some black pepper, top with foil, and bake for 30min at 180C. Remove the foil, top with grated gruyere, and bake for another 30 minutes.
Both dishes were really, really good.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Sunday Dessert: Baked mango with rum and brown sugar

I picked up a couple mangos on sale at the Coop on Saturday, then yesterday morning I discovered Avec Eric and came across his recipe for mango caramelized with rum. It was a sign! I used the normal oven since we don't really have a toaster oven, but I think that was ok. :-)

Sunday: pumpkin souffle, ham with apricot-chestnut sauce

While making the soup for Thanksgiving I realized that the pumpkin (potimarron, knirps, hokkaido) was so good that I ought to do more with it before the season is over. The first thing that popped to mind was some kind of savory custard; the details weren't clear, but the basics seemed solid. These preparations were all derailed when, while looking around for recipes to get base proportions for the custard, I came across a pumpkin soufflé recipe in Le Menu. That was something that absolutely needed to be made. I did a few modifications based on what was in the fridge.

Cook 600g diced pumpkin gently with some butter and a splash of white wine until it is tender. Run through a food mill and let cool some. Brown some finely diced ham, toss in a minced shallot and let soften. Mix into the pumpkin mass. Grate in 50g hard cheese (I used Bundner Bergkäse), add a good pinch of herbs de provence, some white pepper, and salt. Adjust seasonings. Stir in 5 egg yolks and 3 Tbs flour. Beat the 5 egg whites with a pinch of salt and tsp of baking powder until they hold soft peaks. Fold into the pumpkin mass. Transfer to a buttered baking dish and bake at 180C for 40-50 minutes. The soufflé didn't get massive lift, but it still turned out airy and very good.

To go with the soufflé and help use up the ham, I did pan-seared ham steaks topped with a sauce made from apricot jam, whiskey, stock (should have used water), strips of dried apricot, and roasted chestnuts (broken into pieces). Good stuff.

Of course we had a green salad with this.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Saturday: Kale, and a fennel gratin

This week's biokiste had the first kale of the season. yay! Kale!

I did the simple thing: chop the kale small, cook it with some rapeseed oil over high heat with a couple crushed cloves of garlic until the kale darkens. Add some diced ham, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and a splash of stock. Cover and simmer until it's ready.

To go along with the kale I did a baked fennel dish: shave a couple fennel bulbs on the ceramic slicer and toss in a gratin dish with a couple shaved yellow carrots, crushed fennel seed, orange zest, and olive oil. Add a bit of stock, cover with foil, and bake 20 minutes at 170C. Uncover and bake another 10 minutes.

With these two very good dishes we had some a big green salad.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Thursday: Wirsingpfanne

Another garbage (a.k.a. "let's use up stuff in the fridge") creation.

Start some diced onion, chopped garlic, and a small amount of minced bacon in olive oil. Add wirsing cut into chiffonade and cook until it starts to soften. Add white wine, turkey stock, leftover tomato salsa (with lovage and piquillos), cover and simmer until the wirsing is ready. Add some garbanzo beans and let them heat through. Adjust seasonings and serve over toasted rounds of stale baguette.

With this, which was great, we had the requisite green salad.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Tuesday: Risotto with Radicchio

I needed something to break up the "Thanksgiving" leftovers. We're starting to get the various winter cabbages in quantity in the biokiste now, so we had some radicchio on hand. From there to risotto was a small step.

I didn't do anything fancy, just butter, onion, garlic, a bit of diced bacon, radicchio, carnaroli rice, white wine, and chicken stock. I finished it with some parmesan and grated a bit of belper knolle over before serving.

Very nice!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Cooking for Thanksgiving : Part 2

The second day of cooking saw:

  1. A pecan and apple tart following a recipe from Florence Fabricant.
  2. Stuffing
  3. Mashed potatoes
  4. Roasted sweet potatoes; normally I do these mashed as well, but it seemed better to have them roasted this year
  5. The turkey
  6. Gravy
  7. and, of course, a green salad

Our guests also brought desserts, so we ended up with a dessert spread of epic proportions.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cooking for Thanksgiving : Part 1

The Swiss still aren't advanced enough to have Thanksgiving Thursday off, so we're doing it on Sunday instead. Here's the status of preparations so far (otherwise I'll definitely forget something in the forecast chaos tomorrow):

Apero stuff:

  1. two types of prepared olives: greek olives with harissa and mixed olives with fresh herbs
  2. pickled zucchini (from the store, I cheat)
  3. mushrooms with garlic, bacon, sherry, rosemary, and thyme
  4. one salsa with garlic and piri piri peppers cooked until golden in olive oil, then emulsified with crushed tomatoes, salt, sweet paprika, a pinch of sugar, and sherry vinegar.
  5. one salsa with garlic pasted with salt, piquillo peppers, apple juice, parsley, liebstoeckel (lovage), olive oil, salt, hot paprika, sweet paprika, and crushed tomatoes.
  6. two kinds of self-roasted almonds: salt, cumin, hot paprika; salt and raclette spices
  7. salted peanuts tossed in a pan with honey and a bit of cayenne (this is a new one that seems quite promising)
  8. an homage (of sorts) to my grandmother: pimientos and cheese made with diced Tilsiter cheese, chopped piquillos, mayo, a dash of tabasco, and a splash of cider vinegar.
Main course stuff:
  1. The bread for the stuffing (Ruchbrot) is diced and air drying. The stock (chicken stock, celery, onion, dried porcini, sage, liebstoeckel (lovage), parsley, bay leaf) is made and in the fridge
  2. The pumpkin soup: potimarron, chicken stock, leek, carrots, cardamom, ground ginger, white pepper. It's made and waiting. Maybe this will get some cream tomorrow, maybe not.
  3. Oven roasted green beans, following the Cooks Illustrated technique.
Final preparations to come tomorrow...

Thursday: Beans and greens

We're getting escarole in the biokiste again, so it's time for beans and greens to come back onto the menu; not something that makes either of us particularly sad. :-)

Thursday was escarole, white beans, and sausage (saucisson neuchateloise, diced). With the usual additional bits: leeks, garlic, tomato paste, white wine, carrots.

mmm, beans and greens.

Of course just the escarole as a main dish wasn't sufficient greens, so we had a green salad with it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tuesday: Bread gratin

I'm not quite sure what it was, but something fixed the idea of doing a bread gratin in my mind. Since we didn't have any leftover bread laying around, I had to go out and buy some; now we have bread leftover from making a leftover bread dish.

The dish: cook some sliced leek in olive oil with a bit of diced turnip, sliced peppers, finely chopped celery, and some finely chopped smoked bacon. Add tomato paste, chicken stock, black pepper, and sweet paprika. Adjust seasonings (a bit salty is correct) and pour over bread cubes. Mix well, then transfer to an olive-oiled gratin dish and toss in a 175C oven. Meanwhile, saute some diced chicken (I had breast pieces leftover from making stock, so that's what I used) over high heat. Top the gratin with the cooked chicken and some grated cheese (I used Emmenthaler) and put back in the oven until the cheese is bubbly.

To accompany this I cut a couple of small hard squashes (from the biokiste) in half, cleaned them out, and then baked them. We ate them with a bit of butter and some raclette spices. Great stuff.

Of course we had a green salad.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday: Chinakohlpfanne

Another "let's use up a bunch of vegetables" dinner.

For the main dish: brown 300g of mixed ground meat and set aside. Cook two sliced leeks in rapeseed oil until they soften. Add back the meat and a Tbs or so of flour. Stir in the flour and cook for another couple of minutes. Add 2dl or so of chicken stock, a pinch of lemon zest, some marjoram, black pepper, hot paprika, and some salt and bring to a simmer. Add a head of napa cabbage that has been chopped into 2cm pieces, a couple of diced (5mm) carrots, mix well and let simmer uncovered until the napa is fully cooked. Adjust seasonings and serve.

As a side we had steamed potatoes.  And a big green salad.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Saturday: pumpkin-leek soup, slow cooked chicken breasts on spinach

These were a couple of dishes driven by the contents of the fridge.

For the soup start a bit of chopped garlic, diced carrot, and sliced leek in rapeseed oil and cook this until the leeks soften. Add chicken stock, diced pumpkin (again, not clear what type), freshly crushed fennel seed, and herbs de provence and let it simmer until the pumpkin is cooked. Puree with the stick blender, adjust seasonings, and serve.

For the greens: cook some finely chopped garlic and onion in olive oil until the onions take on a bit of color. Add a good amount of marsala and let it reduce down almost to nothing. Add spinach, paprika (both sweet and hot varieties), ground cumin, and salt and let cook until the spinach has shrunk and most of the liquid is gone. Add almond slivers and set aside.

For the chicken: season a whole skin-on chicken breast. Sear this skin-side down in a heavy pan. Take a pre-heated plate from the pre-heated (90C) oven and spread the spinach in an even layer. Top with the chicken breast (skin-side up, of course), insert the thermometer in the thickest part of the breast, and put back in the oven. Cook until the internal temperature is 70C, about an hour. Serve on pre-warmed plates.

This was all really nice food, but I'm not convinced that the slow-cooking actually brought anything to the table this time. I think we'd have been fine with standard oven temperatures and paying careful attention.

Of course we also had a green salad.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Nanorestaurant Review ReRevisited : Goldenes Fass (Basel)

Well, we'd been there twice before and really liked it, so going back after the new opening was a must. Sadly the new management seems to have ruined the place.

The room is still nice (though smoking is now allowed... what the hell?), and the service was fine, but the food has taken a giant step in the wrong direction. Dishes were still nominally creative, but the ingredient quality is down and the preparation is no longer nearly as careful.

It's sad when a good restaurant vanishes... two unhappy faces.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thursday: Sauteed fish topped with cherries

Driven by the presence of some dried cherries in the fridge (originally preserved cherries, these somehow managed to dry out completely without going bad) a couple pieces of hoki in the freezer, and a ton of lettuce that needed to be used.

Cook the lettuce with thinly sliced onion, chopped garlic, and butter until it's tender. Set aside.

Make the cherry sauce by putting the cherry mass in a pot with some butter and a bit of chicken stock, heat gently.

For the fish: coat each side with semolina that's been seasoned with salt and cayenne. Saute in clarified butter.

Serve the fish topped with cherries next to the lettuce.

Of course we had a green salad with this.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Monday: Brussel sprouts with turnip, carrot, bacon, and chestnuts

Another recipe idea  from Using the Plot, I adapted it "a bit" by using turnips (which we had in the fridge) instead of parsnips (which we would have had to buy and which I'm a bit ambivalent about anyway).

Basic idea: brown some lardons in a big pan; add diced turnip and let it caramelize a bit and soften some; add carrot cut into matchsticks, and some minced garlic and cook another minute or so; add crumbled roasted chestnuts, some butter, and halved brussel sprouts (blanched and shocked first); grind in some pepper, adjust seasonings, and let it warm through before serving.

To go with this we had some thin pork chops that I did in the grill pan. These were mostly superfluous, as I think we would have both been perfectly happy eating a full plate of the sprouts.

Of course we had a green salad.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunday: Choucroute

When we went to the market on Saturday, our usual sauerkraut source had the first batch we've seen this season (they said they had it last week, but we didn't see the telltale yellow tub). Happy days!

The first sauerkraut essentially requires that we do a choucroute. With just the two of us eating, the degree of extravagance that we can achieve has to be limited, but I was still able to put together something quite acceptable with salted bacon, smoked pork shoulder, and wienerli. Following the suggestion of the recipe in AFK, I added a diced apple to the cabbage as it was cooking. This was quite a nice touch as the sweetness of the apple played well with the general sour-saltiness of the dish.

Ah! Happy food!

of course there was also a green salad.

Saturday: Spinach-ricotta Gnocchi

This was basically a recipe from Using the Plot by Paul Merrett, which I have from the library. The original recipe is for dumplings, but Paul suggests an alternative use as gnocchi. Since there is a ton of spinach in the fridge and these sounded appealing, I gave them a try.

I did more or less a half recipe (only more or less since I didn't halve the egg yolk), so 125g ricotta, 250g spinach (blanched, shocked, and chopped into 2cm pieces), 65g flour, one egg yolk, parmesan. Preparation: beat the egg and ricotta together in a double boiler until they are warm and it's looking like the egg is ready to set. Stir in the grated parmesan. Stir in the flour. Stir in the spinach. Form dumplings with floured hands. Cook in boiling salted water.

I ate the dumplings with olive oil in which I had gently warmed a crushed clove of garlic and a piri piri chilli.

The flavor of these was good, but they were pretty raggedy looking. I think next time the spinach needs to be chopped more finely and mixed into the ricotta mixture before the flour. A bit of nutmeg also wouldn't hurt things.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thursday: risotto with savoy cabbage and veal

The idea for this came from a Kaltenbach recipe for Bundner risotto with wirsing. I deviated from this immediately because I substituted for the sausage with some veal stew meat we had in the fridge that needed to be used. Tja, not at all the same.

Start by browning 300g of veal in clarified butter. After deglazing the pan with white wine, add back the veal pieces along with a bit of beef bouillon, cover the pan, and let it simmer until the veal is tender. 
Meanwhile chop half a head of savoy cabbage into 2cm pieces and cook them in beef bouillon for 5 minutes. Drain the cabbage pieces and reserve the liquid.
In another pan, cook a minced onion in a Tbs or so of butter until it's glassy. Add a cup and a half of risotto rice, stir well, and toast for a couple of minutes. Add the cabbage and 3-4 cups of bouillon + the braising liquid from the veal (if it's not tender yet, pour out the liquid that's there and replace it with some bouillon), bring to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring frequently, until the rice is al dente. Add more bouillon as necessary.

Serve topped with some intensely flavored hard cheese, I used Belper knolle.

To go with this delight I quick-pickled some turnips (toss with salt, press for a while, drain, rinse, and ring out; mix with sour-cherry vinegar and rapeseed oil).

And, of course, we had a big salad.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wednesday : soy braised chicken

This was inspired by an older Bittman recipe for soy-braised pork (or chicken). I browned a couple chicken leg quarters nicely; added some thickly-sliced ginger and chopped garlic; cooked a couple of minutes; added soy sauce, mirin, and a bit of sugar; partially covered; and then let the chicken cook until it was done. No reduction of the liquid was necessary to get a nice sauce, but that's theoretically possible.

To go with this, I cooked some fairly tough lettuce with a bit of peanut oil until tender and then flavored it with a splash each of soy and ponzu sauce. This I served topped with a bit of sesame oil. 

To go along with it all we had Japanese sweet rice.

lovely, lovely food.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Saturday: Potato-leek soup, pasta with sauce bolognese

We had friends over for dinner, so this was a bit "fancier" than normal.

We started with a potato-leek soup (to use up leeks from the biokiste), followed that with pappardelle with sauce bolognese (the Jamie Oliver recipe), and then had a quick pear tarte (pie crust topped with sliced pears, sprinkled with brown sugar, served with creme fraiche).

All very nice food indeed.

Of course there was a big green salad.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Friday: Chicken on a bed of cornbread stuffing

I'd been looking forward all week to using the leftover cornbread to make stuffing. Last night's dinner was an excuse to eat stuffing.

For the stuffing: cook a diced onion and some diced quince in butter until the onion softens. Add some vegetable bouillon and a tsp or so of white balsamico. Cover and let simmer a couple of minutes. Crumble in some cornbread, add a grind of pepper, mix well and gently heat until it's warm through. Add a splash of Maggi and adjust seasonings.

For the dish: form the stuffing into a pile in a baking dish. Top with a spatchcocked mistkratzerli (small chicken, game hen, poussin, whatever), season the chicken well with salt and pepper, toss in a 175 degree oven until the chicken is done, 20-30 minutes.

As a side I cooked some spinach with diced bacon, garlic, and olive oil. This I livened up with a splash of red wine vinegar before serving.

Very nice food.

yes, green salad

Thursday: Sauteed vegetables

Thursday's goal was using up loads of veggies and the last of the smoked pork from Tuesday. Sauteed vegetables was a good way of accomplishing both.

In the mix were: leeks, potatoes, carrots, squash, and spinach. In addition to the diced smoked pork, I added lemon zest, a splash of dry vermouth, a bit of marjoram and a bit of savory.

We ate the vegetables with parboiled rice/wildrice mix.

Very nice stuff.

Of course there was also a green salad.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Tuesday: Bread gratin

The idea started with looking for a way to use up some stale bread leftover from this weekend. Other parameters that came into the decision making were the presence of some sage in the fridge and the apples sitting on the counter in the kitchen. From there it was just a matter of figuring out which type of smoked pork I was going to use, a decision that was made easy by the sale on smoked "rippli" at Coop this week.

Scramble a couple eggs with an equal volume (or maybe a bit more) of milk. Add some chopped sage, salt, black pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg. Stir in some cubed (stale) bread and mix well. Add diced onion, diced apple, and diced smoked pork and transfer to a gratin dish. Grate on some more nutmeg, cover, and bake at 175C for about 30 minutes. Remove the foil, top with grated gruyere, and bake another 20 minutes or so, until the cheese is brown and bubbly. Serve hot.

Great stuff.

We ate this with a big green salad and some cauliflower I cooked in olive oil with chopped peppers.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Sunday: Chili and cornbread

Last night I did a pot of chili and a pan of cornbread. As usual, this made for a couple very happy people in our house.

[Administrivia aside for my amusement: this is post 1111]

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Saturday: Fishsticks

I'm not quite sure where the idea came from, but I ended up with a powerful craving for fishsticks yesterday, so that's what I made for dinner.

There was nothing complicated here: hoki fillets cut into sticks, seasoned, and then dredged through flour, egg, and fresh breadcrumbs before being shallow fried in peanut oil. I served these with a sauce from mayo, ketchup, finely diced cornichons, minced chives, and tabasco.

As a vegetable side I seasoned some diced squash (again, an unknown variety from the biokiste) with salt and white pepper, baked it with a bit of peanut oil, and then served it topped with toasted walnuts.

We also had steamed potato wedges topped with crumbled cheese (Belper Knolle) and a big green salad.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Friday's Big Salad

Last night we did a big dinner salad. The components were:

  • merguez
  • lardons of smoked bacon
  • sweet corn mixed with chilis, sweet paprika, black pepper, white balsamico, and rapeseed oil
  • flageolets mixed with minced onion, white balsamico, and rapeseed oil
  • shaved radish (long white radishes)
  • shaved fennel (tossed with salt and allowed to pickle for an hour, then rinsed, squeezed out, and mixed with white balsamico and rapeseed oil)
  • nussli dressed with a warm vinaigrette of bacon fat, rapeseed oil, and cheap balsamico 
  • croutons made a slice of zopf
To go with this we had a bit of rösti (from a bag).

Of course we didn't need to have a green salad. :-)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday: pork with cider vinegar and almonds

Last night's main dish came from this week's Splendid Table recipe. Instead of using chicken breasts I substituted pork steaks, and I used vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. I'm sure the stock thing made a difference, but the dish was still quite good.

I now kind of have a craving for a meat dish made with a reduced cider sauce with a bit of cider vinegar added for balance.

To go with the pork we had oven-roasted potatoes and a big green salad.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wednesday Hummus

I've been craving hummus for a while now and needing to use up the last of the bread dough provided a good excuse to fill that craving. I didn't do anything fancy, just hummus (chickpeas, garlic, tahini, lemon, olive oil, cumin, black pepper, and salt) and flat bread.

mmmmm, hummus.

of course we had a green salad too.

Tuesday: Spaghetti with Squash

This was an improv inspired by the pieces of pumpkin-like squash in last week's biokiste.

Cook some minced garlic, minced ginger, and finely chopped onion gently in olive oil and butter until it's nicely aromatic and the onion has softened. Add some diced (1cm) squash, a pinch of salt, and a good few grinds of white pepper and continue to cook gently until the squash is about done. Add a bit of cayenne and some raclette spice and adjust seasonings. Serve over spaghetti topped with chives.

To go with this we had fennel braised in olive oil and beef bouillon and a big green salad.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monday Miscellany

We had leftover yeast dough that I used for the crust of Saturday's Zwiebelkuchen, so last night I put some of that to work by making a couple flatbreads. After the flat breads were finished, I did four different toppings (each on half a flatbread): tomatoes, dried ham, a hard alp cheese, goat cheese with coriander (from Neuchatel). These I tossed back in the broiler for a couple of minutes.

As sides I did some spinach cooked with bacon and garlic and pan-browned cauliflower. Of course we also had a big green salad.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Saturday Zwiebelkuchen

It's Fall again, which means time for local Suser, which means time for Zwiebelkuchen.

Since we live next to Alsace and I have this great new French cookbook, I started out from the AFK recipe for flammekuchen. Since that recipe only used 200g of onion and called for making sure that the onions take on any color, some modification was required. Then there was no recipe for the crust (supposed to get white bread dough from a bakery), so I needed a crust recipe. For whatever reason I didn't use a standard white bread recipe, but pulled something out of Le Menu. Then I read an quantity wrong and added much too much water, then we ran out of normal white flour. Hilarity ensued. To make a long story short I made up the difference with semolina. Which was satisfactory but nothing like correct.

Topping quantities: 400g onion cooked with some butter until they take on a bit of color, 125g frischkase, 125g creme fraiche, black pepper, salt, nutmeg, herbs de provence, marjoram. Spread this on the crust, sprinkle with cayenne, top with 150g smoked bacon cut into lardons, then bake at 200C until it's done.

It was a nice meal, even if the crust bore no resemblance to what it should have.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Friday's Thai

I was traveling all week, so there was no cooking.
Last night, to celebrate my return and help fight a headcold, I did Thai food: Tom Kha Tofu (heh), green papaya salad, and lettuce cooked with ginger and green curry paste. With that we had jasmine rice.

The soup was just my usual Tom Kha Gai recipe made with tofu instead of chicken.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday: Joe's Special, braised fennel

Tonight's main course was a batch of Joe's Special made with leeks instead of onions. To go with that I braised some fennel with fennel seeds with a bit of veal essence and a splash of orange juice.

We had these two really nice things with a pile of buttered brown rice (cooked in vegetable bouillon) and a big green salad.

Saturday: Quince soup, Veal steaks on cabbage

Quince are back in the market, so it was clear I needed to do something with them. I thought about doing the compote I made last year, but then I found a recipe for a quince and ginger soup in the Le Menu archive. That settled that.

The soup is pretty simple: combine 300g quince (rubbed, cored, then cut into 1cm pieces) with 150g carrots (peeled, large dice), and 2 minced shallots in some butter with a pinch of salt. Cook for a bit until the shallots soften. Add 8dl chicken stock and 2 Tbs microplaned ginger. Simmer until the carrots and quince are tender, then puree and add 2dl cream. Serve topped with chives.

We found half price veal steaks at the Coop, so those were our protein. I did these quite simply: seasoned and pan seared in clarified butter, then served with a sauce made from veal essence, shallots, and butter. We ate the steaks atop a bed of napa cabbage that I cut into chiffonade and then gently cooked with some garlic in rapeseed oil. The cabbage was cooked, but still had some crunch to it.

As a contrast element, and because I was curious to try them, I did a Zierapfel (crabapples) compote: Zierapfeln simmered in base of water, sugar, cloves, mace, cinnamon, disks of fresh ginger, lemon zest, and a bit of black pepper until they were tender.

Finally, I did another batch of croquettes to finish off our supply of mashed potatoes.

Of course all of this amazing food was accompanied by a green salad.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Friday Miscellany

Last night was a bit random: beans and greens served alongside potato croquettes.

For the beans and greens I used onion, carrots, dried salami, olive oil, lettuce, dill, and soisson beans. This I served topped with chives and parsley.

The croquettes were made from leftover mashed potatoes (I remembered to make enough for leftovers!) mixed with salt, black pepper, pimenton, and raclette spices. I formed this into cylinders, rolled them in bread crumbs, then fried them in olive oil.

Very good food.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wednesday Vegetarian

The priority last night was using up vegetables, so I did a few vegetable dishes:

  • Spinach cooked with garlic, onion, carrots, peppers, and olive oil; served drizzled with a bit of red wine vinegar and olive oil
  • Some form of squash/pumpkin (from the biokiste, I can't identify the type) slowly cooked with butter and garlic
  • Mashed potatoes topped with aged Belper Knolle (a raw milk hard cheese that's quite different and very, very good)
A very nice meal.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sunday: Spaghetti with ground beef and pears

This Le Menu recipe seemed like a good "back from hiking, so it better be easy" meal, plus it used up the pears that were sitting around in the kitchen. Last time I did this I used tomato paste and cayenne instead of the called-for curry paste. This time I would have used curry paste, but we were out, so I added lemon zest, some chopped chili, a squirt of fish sauce, and some freshly ground coriander. The results were quite good.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Wednesday's stir fry

Last night I did a couple of stir-fried vegetable dishes: sweet corn (on the cob) steamed and then stir fried with red chilis and hoisin sauce; broccoli stir fried with onions, long peppers, garlic, and black beans with a sauce from Xiao Xing wine, black vinegar, and soy sauce.

With this we had jasmine rice and a green salad.

Pretty quick, quite simple, quite good.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Tuesday : fennel gratin

The protein was leftover meatloaf; to accompany it I tossed some baby potatoes with shallots and olive oil and baked them. I also did a gratin of sliced fennel, salt, and olive oil. This I topped with grated alp cheese for the last 30 minutes of cooking.

Monday: Sauteed vegetables with pumpkin

Since we had some pumpkin leftover from Saturday's meal, I tossed that into a pot of sauteed vegetables.

The vegetables were eggplant, fennel, pumpkin, onion, and garlic. To this I added diced ham, bay leaf, herbs de provence, and a bit of chicken stock.

We ate this with sourdough bread and a big green salad.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Saturday: Meatloaf with pumpkin

This was a recipe from Le Menu : a meatloaf (ground beef and veal brät, shredded pumpkin, onion, garlic, egg, bread crumbs, thyme, rosemary, parsley) served with a pumpkin-nut vinaigrette (diced pumpkin, chopped fresh walnuts, shallots, chives, rapeseed oil, white balsamico).

It was clear from reading the recipe that this was going to be a nice dish. I wasn't remotely disappointed. Again: vinaigrettes make really nice sauces for main dishes.

To go with the meatloaf I did green beans cooked with garlic and a pot of basmati rice.

Of course we had a big green salad as well.

A week of leftovers

Between the braised pork and the pasta with cheese, we ended up eating leftovers all week. yowza.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sunday: Macaroni and cheeses

Andrea requested something with pasta and cheese; I obliged.

I started by dicing some ham relatively small and browning it in a bit of olive oil. These got mixed with some partially cooked whole wheat penne, milk, grated alp cheeses, and some shredded sage leaves. I piled this goodness into a gratin dish, topped it with fried onions, and baked until the pasta was cooked through.

We ate this with spinach cooked with olive oil and garlic and a big green salad.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Saturday : Braised pork with apples

Another very successful recipe from AFK: pork shoulder braised in apple cider and served with caramelized apples.

Cut a pork shoulder roast (1kg) almost through. Open it and smear the inside with a paste made from fresh rosemary (5 or 6 needles), fresh sage (4 leaves), fennel seeds (a good pinch), and garlic (three cloves). Salt and pepper the inside well, then roll up the roast and tie it shut. Stick a couple sprigs of rosemary under the twine and brown the pork well on all sides in clarified butter. Add some hard cider (2 dl), a pinch of salt, a grind of pepper, cover, and braise until the pork is finished, about 2 hours. In the meantime, lightly caramelize 50g of raw sugar with 2Tbs lemon juice and add 500g firm, acidic apples (peeled, cored, cut into 8ths or 12ths). Cook, stirring occasionally until the apples soften. Salt and pepper and then set aside. When the pork is done, puree a third of the apples with some of the braising liquid and then stir this back into the braising liquid. If need be, thicken with a bit of potato starch. Adjust seasonings and then serve the pork sliced and topped with sauce and apples.

To go with this beauty we had some steamed potatoes and a big green salad.

This is a really good one to remember for company.

Saturday lunch : bean salad

A quick toss-together lunch for a weekend : chickpeas, corn, artichoke hearts (rinsed and quartered), tomatoes, chives, parsley, dill, crushed garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and a pinch of cayenne.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Friday Night : Soup with steamed vegetables

I was travelling last week, so I didn't do any cooking.
Last night we finished off the pumpkin soup and had a big bowl of steamed vegetables : kohlrabi, carrots, and fennel, steamed individually and then tossed with olive oil, chives, salt, and pepper.

Of course there was also a big green salad.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Monday: Pumpkin soup, corn with herbed sabayon

The soup for this meal is an improv, the corn is from a new cookbook: Aus Frankreichs Küchen, by Marianne Kaltenbach.

The soup: cook diced onion and carrots (yellow and orange) in some neutral oil until the onions soften. Add diced pumpkin (potimarron) and cook, covered, until the pumpkin starts to break up. Add white wine, chicken stock, a bit of veggie boullion, a couple cloves, a pinch of cardamon, and a good grind of white pepper and let it simmer until the veggies are soft. Puree and then add diced smoked ham that has been browned in a separate pan and some heavy cream. Adjust seasonings and let simmer a bit longer.

The corn: steam a couple ears of corn. Make the sabayone by whipping two egg yolks with 6 tbs white wine and 1 tsp white balsamico (lemon juice in the recipe) in a double boiler until frothy. Add a pinch of salt, chopped parsley, chives, and dill (chervil in the recipe), and a couple Tbs of whipped cream. Let heat up, stirring constantly, then serve with the corn.

I'm sure my sabayone tasted pretty much nothing like the original recipe, but it was still a very good complement to the late-season corn. The basic sauce technique is something I will definitely have to keep in mind: it's quick and the results are nice.

We ate this with a green salad and some good bread.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Friday: Beans and ham

This was a celebration of it being cooler in the evenings: beans cooked with ham.
It was a weeknight thing so I used canned borlotti beans that I cooked with cubed smoked ham, onions, garlic, some chopped chili, cumin, paprika, chicken stock, white wine, crushed tomato, rosemary, bay leaf, and thyme. Simple and delicious.

We also had a big green salad and a baguette.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Thursday: Fondue

It was my parents' last night in town and was pretty cool outside, so we made a fondue. For the four of us I used 700g of cheese, 350ml of white wine, a shot of kirsch, and one clove of garlic.

We also did peppermint tea and a big salad.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wednesday Miscellany

This was a bit of a random one I assembled after we got back from a hiking trip with my parents: Bernerrösti (from a bag), roast chicken (from the Migros), cottage cheese (with minced lemon verbena, halved cherry tomatoes, salt, pepper, and a bit of cayenne), and a big green salad.

Monday : Meatballs with almonds, green beans

This was an improv.

Start by making a tomato sauce: toast whole cumin seeds in a dry pan; when they start to get aromatic, add some hot paprika and toast another few seconds. Add olive oil, some pureed tomatoes, ground coriander, a pinch of saffron threads, a sprig of thyme, a bay leaf, and some salt. Bring to a simmer and let cook, uncovered, while you make the meatballs.

Meatballs: mix ground meat (half and half in this case) with salt, pepper, and minced onion. Form into small meatballs. Push a almond into the center of each meatball and reform them. Sautee in olive oil to get the meatballs brown on all sides. A couple minutes before they're done, add a handful of almonds to the pan. Deglaze with vermouth and let that evaporate to half. Add the tomato sauce, cover, and let simmer another 10-15 minutes. Adjust seasonings on the sauce, then serve.

As an accompaniment I cooked some halved green beans in a pan with diced bacon, chopped sweet pepper, and savory.

We did spaetzle as a starch (sauteed in olive oil instead of boiled) and the required green salad.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sunday: Beef stew with porcinis

A simple, but very good, stew: Soak 30g dried porcinis in warm water, brown 600g of bite-sized pieces of beef well in clarified butter, remove from the pan. Cook two diced red onions, 4 cloves of chopped garlic, 1 stalk diced celery, one large diced carrot, and two diced sweet peppers in the same pan until the onions are soft. Sprinkle over a Tbs or so of flour, mix well, and let cook another couple minutes, stirring frequently. Add a couple bay leaves, a sprig or two of thyme, and a bottle of light red wine and bring to a simmer. Chop the mushrooms and add them along with their strained soaking water. Let simmer open until the beef is ready, 1-1.5 hours. Adjust seasonings and serve over rice.

To go along with the stew I chopped a couple summer squash in large dice and cooked them with a diced kohlrabi in olive oil until the vegetables were done. 5 minutes before serving I added some chopped basil and lemon thyme.

Naturally there was a green salad.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Saturday dessert: pears poached in red wine

A dessert based on a recipe from Kaltenbach: bring 700ml of red wine (I used an Epesses Rouge which is a mixture of pinot noir and gamay, according to the recipe I should have used pure pinot... ah well) to a simmer with 100g sugar, three cloves, and a cinnamon stick. Let simmer for a 5-10 minutes until the sugar is dissolved and it has reduced a bit. Add four pears that have been peeled but that still have the stems attached. Simmer until the pears are soft. Remove the pears to a bowl, increase the heat, stir in a Tbs of rasperry jelly, and reduce the wine syrup by a factor of two. Strain the syrup over the pears and let them stand in it until serving time.

Really nice stuff.

Note for the future: this would be nicely complemented by a bit of black pepper added a minute or so before straining the syrup.

Saturday: Chicken, potato, and fennel gratin.

This is a recipe from the Le Menu archive.

Cook 600-700g starchy potatoes in their skins and then peel them and cut them into pieces lengthwise. Thinly slice (on the mandoline) two fennel bulbs. Put the fennel in a buttered baking dish, top with the potatoes, and pour over a mixture of 200ml of light cream and 50ml of veggie bouillon. Toss in a 200C oven. Season four chicken leg quarters with salt, pepper, and a Tbs of freshly crushed fennel seed, then brown them well in clarified butter. Top the gratin with the chicken, sprinkle over any remaining fennel seed, and return to the oven for another 20-30 minutes or until the chicken is done.

We ate this very nice dish with a big green salad.

Thursday: Stuffed Zucchini, reconstructed

I wanted to do stuffed zucchini but was concerned about the logistics since we didn't have four zucchini that were even close to equally sized. So I deconstructed it.

Brown some ground meat (I used half and half) well, and remove it to a bowl. Cook a diced red onion until it's soft and add it to the meat. Season the meat mixture with marjoram, orange peel, salt, and pepper. Oil a gratin dish with olive oil and layer in thinly sliced zucchini and the meat mixture. Top with grated Gruyere. Bake at 180C until the zucchini is cooked and the cheese is brown and bubbly.

We ate this with buttered ebli and a big green salad.

Tuesday: Sausage and green beans

Saucisson vaudoise was on sale at the Coop, so I picked up one of those and prepared it following the Saucisson en papillote recipe from Kaltenbach : cook the sausage in a parchment wrapper with minced shallot, diced carrot, and a bit of red wine. I also made the suggested accompaniment: onion salad, though I modifed that pretty substantially : onion slices lightly caramelized and then mixed with a dressing of white wine vinegar, grainy mustard, dill, and rapeseed oil

To accompany I cooked a bunch of green beans with chopped peppers.

Of course we also had a green salad.

Behind behind

My parents are visiting and I'm terribly behind.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Sunday : Slow baked lamb

Another niedergaren recipe as the main dish: a piece of lamb shoulder topped with olive oil and a mixture of minced shallots, parsley, and rosemary then slow baked.

As a side I did a pumpkin recipe from Le Menu: "Smashed pumpkin". This is potimarron squash, cooked with butter, garlic, and a bit of veggie bouillon, then mashed and served topped with crispy diced bacon and a relish of cherry tomatoes, sage, and butter.

Really nice food.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Saturday dessert : plum roesti

If I had come up with this dessert I wouldn't have called it rösti, but that just shows my ignorance... it's a Kaltenbach recipe, so the naming must be correct. :-)

Despite the naming confusion, the dish itself is simple: cook halved plums in some clarified butter with a sprinkling of sugar for a couple of minutes, add a bit of water, bring to a simmer, cover and let stand a few minutes. Meanwhile roast some thin slices of stale bread in clarified butter. Cut these into strips (not a step from Kaltenbach, but things were impossible to handle otherwise) and add the plums and some more sugar. Toss well, then add the liquid from the plums in a couple of batches. Cook until the liquid has basically all evaporated. Serve sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

very nice stuff

Saturday : Stuffed tomatoes, glazed chickpeas

This month's Le Menu has a picture of a stuffed tomato on the cover (and some recipes for stuffed vegetables inside); that started the wheels turning. Then there was leftover brown rice in the fridge and some tomatoes from this week's box. From there everything else became obvious:

Cook minced celery, onion, and garlic in olive oil with a pinch of salt until they are nicely softened. Meanwhile, hollow out a few tomatoes and add the chopped insides to the pan. Once the tomatoes have reduced away, add the cooked brown rice and a mixture of finely chopped rosemary, thyme, and lemon thyme. Mix well and adjust seasonings. Add a pinch of saffron and mix again. Gently stir in some small-diced feta cheese and then stuff the tomatoes. Put some olive oil in a baking dish, spread the extra rice mixture on the bottom of the dish, top with the stuffed tomatoes, then bake at 180C for 20-30 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and the rice on top of them starts to brown.

Another ingredient floating around the kitchen -- reduced OJ from a salad dressing earlier in the week -- suggested the accompaniment: glazed chickpeas:
Toast some whole cumin seeds in a dry pan until they are aromatic. Add to reduced orange juice and chickpeas in a pot. Add a bit of veggie bouillon and bring to a simmer. Add some finely chopped rosemary, thyme, and lemon thyme and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is basically evaporated. Adjust seasonings and serve drizzled with olive oil.

At some point during the making of this meal I realized I was in the process of creating something that would be exceptionally good. That thought was completely correct. Wow was this good food.

Of course we also had a green salad.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Thursday : Slow-baked steaks

Another niedergaren recipe. This one is adapted from the cookbook I picked up a while ago.

Very simple: Tie up a thick steak (I used Hohrücken which is, basically, ribeye) so that it holds its shape. Brown well on both sides. Transfer to a prewarmed plate, season and top with a sauce made from 2Tbs peanuts, 2Tbs peanut oil, 1 Tbs ketchup, and a pinch of cayenne. Put in a preheated 80C oven and cook until the internal temperature is 55C, 45-60 minutes.

Wow was this good.

To go with the steak I did some brown rice.

Also a green salad.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Wednesday : Cod chunks with cashews and lime butter

Random improvised fish dish: season some cod chunks and coat them lightly with flour. Saute in butter with a handful of cashews and some sliced hot (but not overly hot) chilis. Remove the solids from the pan and add a bit more butter. Let this start to brown, add some flavorful honey and let that bubble for a couple of minutes. Add lime juice and black pepper and adjust seasonings. Add back the solids, turn a few times, then serve the fish topped with sauce, cashews, and chili slices.

Really, really good stuff. That lime-butter combination with a bit of sweet to balance it and a hint of hot is just fantastic.

I also did some bratkartoffeln to go with this.

oh yes, and a green salad.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Monday: Pork steak skewers on tomato bean salad

This was a recipe from this month's Le Menu: Pork steaks cut into strips, marinated with apple juice, rosemary, thyme, white balsamico, mustard, black pepper, and honey, then threaded onto skewers and sauteed in clarified butter. Served with a salad made from steamed green beans, minced onion, halved cherry tomatoes, and soisson beans with a dressing of white balsamico, mustard, rapeseed oil, and parsley. I reduced the remaining marinade until it lightly caramelized and drizzled that over the pork.

We also had basmati rice and a big green salad; it was great summer food.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Sunday's Salads

Another quick meal since we got back from hiking pretty late. We did a wurstsalat and a bean salad, served on a bed of lettuce.

Wurstsalat: thinly sliced cervelas, diced gruyere, a small amount of minced celery, chopped cornichons, chives, and a sauce from mayo, mustard, yogurt, rape-seed oil, red wine vinegar, a dash of Maggi, a small pinch of cayenne, and a bit of salt.

Bean salad: soisson beans, minced celery, rosemary, olive oil, sherry vinegar, pimenton.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Saturday: Pasta with pesto and cherry tomatoes

We got back from Geneva and Lausanne around 7:30, so dinner needed to be pretty quick. This was Andrea's idea, and it was a good one.

I made a quick batch of pesto with toasted almonds and then mixed that with pasta and halved cherry tomatoes, and topped it with diced mozarella. Simple, quick, and quite nice.

We also had a green salad, of course.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wednesday curry

Last night's curry was a standard red curry with coconut milk, eggplant, and pork.

I also did a green mango salad by mixing grated green mango with lime juice, fish sauce, chopped dried shrimp, cilantro, and a pinch of sugar.

Note to self: the small yellow eggplants that we got because the asian market was out of the small green ones are not a good substitute. They were so bitter that we had to fish them out while eating.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tuesday : sauteed vegetables with almonds

To accompany the leftover mushroom ragout, I did a batch of sauteed vegetables. The mix was: onions, garlic, zucchini, and long peppers. They were cooked together with olive oil, herbs de provence, salt and pepper. Just before serving I stirred in some chopped fresh basil and then served the vegetables sprinkled with almonds I had cut in half then toasted in olive oil.

very nice!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Monday: Mushroom ragout

I picked up some nice looking local chantarelles at the market on Saturday. Last night I converted them into a fantastic ragout based on a recipe from Le Menu.

Clean 500g of chantarelles. Cook them over medium-high heat in butter in batches until they brown a bit and start to soften. Remove from the pan and add some more butter, a thinly sliced leek, and a minced shallot. Cook until they leek softens. Remove from the pan. Add 1 dl each of white wine and vegetable bouillon and reduce to 1/2. Add 1.5 dl bouillon and 1.8 dl light cream (saucen halbrahm), bring to a simmer. Add 1Tbs fresh marjoram leaves and the mushrooms and leeks. Simmer 5-10 minutes. Adjust seasonings and either add more water or thicken as necessary. Serve over pappardelle topped with a bit more fresh marjoram.

Every time I have to clean wild mushrooms, particularly chantarelles, I think to myself: "this is too much trouble, I'm not doing it again." Then I eat them and that silly thought is blown from my head.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Saturday : Beef stew

For this meal with Andrea's parents I followed a recipe from Kaltenbach for Rindsvoressen (beef stew). The stew is pretty simple: beef, carrots, onion, leek, potato, marjoram, but quite good. Rather than make rice or another starch, we served the stew with some nice bread.

I also did another batch of beans with tomatoes and onions, this time using a mixture of yellow and green beans.

Of course there was also a green salad.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Friday : Pork chops with Spalensauce

Andrea's parents were over last night, so I was (self) driven to do something with a nice sauce. This is what I came up with.

Cook some diced bacon in a bit of olive oil until it's nicely rendered and browned. Add finely diced celery, carrot, and onion and a pinch of salt and let the vegetables lightly brown. Add some veal essence, a bit of water, a small pinch of cayenne, and a small sprig of thyme and let things cook for about five minutes. Add some light cream (I used Halbrahm) and simmer a couple minutes more. Thicken with potato starch if needed and adjust seasonings.

We served the sauce with thinly sliced pork loin chops (nierstuck plaetzli) that I seasoned and cooked in the grill pan.

To accompany the pork and sauce we had pasta (whole wheat pipe rigate) and some fennel that I sliced and then cooked in olive oil with some fresh basil. Of course there was also a green salad.

* Yes, I just made that up. In fact, google tells me that this word does not exist on the interweb, so I have truly invented something new. Fame and fortune will soon be mine!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Restaurant Zum Isaak, revisited

Last time we tried Zum Isaak the summary was: "The Kornhaus does this better". Now that we've tried it again and our experience of Basel restaurants is broader, I'd expand this to: "The Kornhaus and the Goldenes Fass do this better."

  • Food : over conceived and under executed
  • Service : good
  • Atmosphere : good

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tuesday: Chicken, tomatoes, and lentils

The idea for this particularly improv came to me in the tram on the way to work the other day.

Cook a medium diced onion and a few cloves of chopped garlic in some olive oil over medium heat. After the onion softens add some chopped celery stalk and long green chilis (pepperoncini here) and cook until they soften a bit. Add some whole cumin and a mixture of sweet and hot paprika and let toast a couple of minutes. Add some crushed tomatoes, a splash of white wine, fresh thyme and rosemary, a bay leaf, and some salt and let simmer a while, uncovered.

While the sauce is simmering, start a batch of small-green lentils cooking.

Once the lentils are started, brown some chopped chicken (I used a mixture of legs/thighs and breast) in olive oil and add the browned pieces to the sauce. Hold the breast pieces out for a while if you want so that they don't overcook.

Serve the thickened tomato sauce and chicken next to the lentils, top both with a drizzle of olive oil.

As a vegetable side I steamed some corn on the cob.

Of course we had a green salad as well.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Monday : Rösti

Last night I put together a Rösti for no good reason other than we had potatoes and I could.

I did my usual: grate the potatoes, then wring them out really well in a towel before mixing with the other ingredients. In this case the other ingredients were a couple of apples, salt, and pepper. I cooked the Rösti in peanut oil and then added a topping of grated cheese (a half-hard raw-milk Alp cheese) just before serving. We ate this lovely thing with some thinly sliced coppa (leftover from the weekend) and some zucchini that I sliced and then cooked in olive oil with a tomato and some peperonicini from the balcony.

Nice eatings.

oh yes, green salad.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sunday: daiquiris revisited

Yesterday in the interest of science I made another batch of daiquiris with the Havana Club 7. This time I used proportions 4:1:1 rum:lime:triple sec and the results were definitely more pleasing: you could taste the rum a lot more clearly. It's getting there.

Next time I'll try completely replacing the triple sec with a bit of simple syrup to see what that yields.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday dessert

Yesterday we had a quantity of dark cherries in the fridge that I had pitted and sugared earlier in the week; we just needed to figure out what to do with them. At the Coop on Saturday we found some small pre-made pie crusts that looked acceptable, so we took those as a base.

I put a layer of sour cream (actually "dessert extrafin") in the bottom of a crust, sprinkled it with a bit of brown sugar, then topped it with the cherries. Voila: instant cold cherry pie. :-)

The degree of effort was about nil and the payoff was pretty high. Going to have to keep those crusts in mind in the future.

Saturday Cocktails : Daiquiris

After some batches of margaritas our bottle of tequila was empty, and one needs something on long sunny weekend afternoons when one is at home instead of in the mountains because the weather forecast has been questionable, so we picked up a bottle of rum yesterday and I made a round of daiquiris.

Since our old bottle of rum wasn't up to the job, we wanted to get something good this time. Unfortunately the guy we normally talk to wasn't at Ullrich's yesterday and the guy we asked for advice wasn't particularly helpful ("This is great for sitting outside with a cigar."; Andrea's response later : "What was that? Do we look like cigar smokers?"), so we went with something recommended by friends: Havana Club 7 year.

I used the same recipe as for the margaritas: 4:2:2 rum:lime:triple sec. The results were quite good, but not sublime like the margaritas; the rum doesn't come through as cleanly as the tequila did. I think next time I'll try reducing the lime and triple sec and see what that produces.

Saturday: slow baked pork loin

There's a cooking technique that is used pretty often here that I don't exactly know how to translate: niedergaren. The idea is to cook meat in a very low oven (typically 80C) until the internal temperature is correct, it's a method that would make Harold McGee happy. For want of a better term, let's call it slow baking. I've been wanting to try this for a while, so yesterday when I saw some nice pork loin roasts on sale at Coop I knew what had to be done.

My preparation of the pork was utter simplicity: brown it all around in clarified butter, season well, put in a meat thermometer, then put it in a preheated dish with some zucchini planks and toss in a preheated 80C oven. Let it sit there, undisturbed until the internal temperature is 62C. Yesterday's roast took a bit more than 3 hours. The result is incredibly tender, juicy, and, since it was good pork, flavorful. We will be using this method more often, particularly since yesterday I bought a cookbook devoted to it.

As a sauce for the pork, I made a vinaigrette by mixing thinly sliced celery, diced artichoke hearts, crushed garlic, minced red onion, and finely chopped parsley with a pre-emulsified mixture of seedy mustard, cider vinegar, molasses, and rapeseed oil. This was then allowed to stand for a couple of hours before serving (we had nothing but time yesterday!).

We ate the pork and zucchini with rice and a big green salad and there were no complaints at the table. Well, none except: "I ate too much", but that came later. :-)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Friday: Sausage and beans

On the way home from work I stopped at the Italian butcher and picked up some sausage (hot, with fennel; not exactly my plan for the evening, but when you get there at 5:30 on a nice Friday night you are happy to get anything. I consoled myself by also getting some of the fantastic mortadella he imports). The rest went according to plan: I cooked the sausage in the grill pan, made some bratkartoffeln, and did a batch of green beans cooked with tomato and onion more or less based on Melissa Clark's column this week.

Excellent food.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Thursday followup

The leftovers from Wednesday's stir frying included rice and the stir-fried corn, but that wasn't going to make a full meal. In order to fill it out a bit I did fried rice (with egg) with the rice and stir fried some lettuce (chili-bean paste, ginger, soy sauce).

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wednesday's stir fries

Born of necessity and coincidence: we had sweet corn left on the night before we get the next veggie box, so it's got to be used. Then there's a very interesting corn post on Bitten. The asian flavors planned for the corn shaped how the broccoli was used.

The dishes:
Stir fried corn pieces with a Southeast Asian touch: Cut corn on the cob crosswise into 1cm thick pieces. Stir fry them until they're almost done, then remove from the wok. Stir fry some chopped garlic and chilis until they're aromatic. Add a some sugar and stir fry until it starts to caramelize. Add fish sauce and cook a bit. Add some lime juice and adjust the other ingredients. Stir back in the corn pieces and let sit a couple minutes. Just before serving, splash on a bit more lime juice. Great stuff.

Broccoli stir fried with black beans and chili-bean paste: Stir fry some broccoli until it's almost done. Remove from the pan. Stir fry some rinsed fermented black beans and chili-bean paste until aromatic. Add thinly sliced ginger and cook a bit longer. Add some Xiao Xing wine and water and let the alcohol cook off for a bit. Taste and add an appropriate amount of black Chinese vinegar. Thicken with a bit of potato starch and then stir back in the broccoli. Let sit for a couple minutes and then serve.

We had these two delights with rice and, amazingly enough, no green salad.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tuesday : Chard and beef

Another improv to use the big bag of chard greens in the fridge:
Brown some seasoned ground beef, then remove it from the pan. Add some olive oil if needed, then cook a diced onion and some finely chopped garlic until they start to soften. Add chard greens (torn into pieces) and a pinch of salt and cook until they start to wilt. Add a bit of savory and marjoram and cook a bit longer. A couple of minutes before serving, add back the ground beef.

To go along with the greens and meat we had some pan browned cauliflower and a big green salad.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Monday: Pesto and filled tomatoes

As a "use up the basel from the balcony!" measure I made a batch of pesto. We ate that with spaghetti last night. As an accompaniment, I mixed some soft cheese (Tessiner robbiola) with finely chopped lemon verbena and black pepper and then stuffed that in some hollowed out tomatoes. Delicious.

Yes, and then there was the green salad.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Saturday : Something like barbecue

We haven't done barbecue in a long time; that just changed. When I saw big pieces of pork shoulder for half price at the Coop, I knew it was time to give it a try. It was clear that the stars had really aligned when Bittman did a barbecue post, referencing the Thrill of the Grill no less, on the day I was trying to decide what to do for a spice rub. The final problem - where to find appropriate wood - was solved by our dinner guests, who brought over a basket of mixed hardwood in the early afternoon. The rest was easy : set up the fire (hardwood charcoal for heat, a piece of fruitwood for smoke), put a container of beer in the bottom of the grill, cover the pork with the rub and put it on the grill, cover, and wait. After two hours I started basting with beer to keep the crust from drying out too much. After about four hours we had something amazing.

I did a sauce, just in case, from thinly sliced onions, vinegar, whiskey, water, salt, pepper, a dash of tobasco, and a small amount of ketchup. The onions were a nice complement, but the sauce itself was pretty superfluous.

We also did a potato salad with basil and tarragon (also long and low cooking for the potatoes) and a big green salad.

As starters, I did: quick pickles with cornichon cucumbers, salt, and thinly sliced young ginger; a couple different kinds of olives; and cashews toasted in the pan and then tossed with raclette spices.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Thursday : Rice with lettuce, pork steaks

Due to some logistics problems a couple of weeks ago, we got a double vegetable box yesterday. Holy crap is there a lot of stuff in a double vegetable box in August! To make matters worse, there were still two heads of lettuce left from last week's box... ai yai yai!

For the protein component I tossed some pork steaks ("Stotzen", so from the hams) in the grill pan, seasoned them, and served them on top of basil vinaigrette leftover from Wednesday.

The lettuce surplus drove the improvisation of a new (for us at least) dish: rice and lettuce. Toast a cup of parboiled rice (I used a rice/wildrice mix) in olive oil. Add a head of chopped lettuce (in stages, stirring after each stage and giving it some time to shrink). Add a chicken bouillon cube and a bit less than a cup of water (the lettuce brings a lot of water with it). Cover and simmer until the rice is done; add more water if necessary. This actually turned out quite nicely. It would also be good to add some garlic and perhaps some tomato pieces at the last minute.

We also had zucchini that I cut into thick slices, quartered, then cooked slowly with butter and salt. Simple and wonderful.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


I guess I forgot to post about it, but the weekend before last we found pickling cucmbers at the market. So we got a couple kilos and started a batch of fermented pickles starting from the recipe in Quick Pickles. Last week we tried a couple and were quite happy with the results. Last night I opened up the pickle pot to get pickles to accompany our dinner and discovered that they were moldy.


My beautiful pickles!

I don't know what kind of super mold was able to grow in that brine, but if we manage to find the cucumbers again (unlikely?) this year, I'll be sure to use a higher concentration of salt.

Wednesday at the Grill

Last night's grilling was nothing fancy: some sausage, a variety of vegetables (squash, zucchini, peppers, red onions), and a cheater's hobo pack of potatoes.

I made a vinaigrette (basil, grainy mustard, grapeseed oil, red wine vinegar, molasses, salt, pepper) for the vegetables.

Of course we had a green salad.

Noteworthy: our first tomatoes

Yesterday I pulled the first ripe tomatoes off the plants we have on the balcony. We ate them plain, sprinkled with a bit of sea salt. mmmmmmmm

Next year I might have to do more than two tomato plants.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Tueday: Stuffed chicken breasts

The idea for this came from a Bittman column, but the recipe was an improv.

Mince some onion and garlic and start them cooking in olive oil. Add some chopped chard leaves and a pinch of salt and let cook until they are tender but not mushy, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and mix in some chopped lemon verbena and rosemary. Lay a whole, skin on, chicken breast skin-side down on three pieces of string. Season with salt and pepper, then cover with a layer of the greens mixture. Fold up into a roll and tie shut with the string. Brown this well on all sides and then let it cook long enough until the inside of the chicken breast is done.

This was a bit of work but it was quite an attractive preparation and tasted fantastic.

To go along with this, I coarsely diced the chard stems and cooked them in olive oil with pine nuts. Just before serving I added some diced dried apricot.

As a starch we had spaghetti tossed with salt and olive oil.

Oh, and a green salad.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Monday: Vegetables with pasta

After a few days eating in huts in the mountains, I was craving vegetables in a major way, but I also didn't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I did a very simple vegetables and pasta dish: boil some cut green beans in salted water until tender-crisp, refresh in cold water. Cook a chopped head of broccoli in olive oil with garlic and onion until the broccoli is cooked sufficiently. A couple minutes before the broccoli is done, stir in some strips of thinly sliced salt-cured ham (e.g. something like prosciutto di parma). Toss in the green beans, some cooked pasta (less pasta than vegetables, it's "vegetables with pasta", not "pasta with vegetables"!), and some more olive oil. Serve topped with chives and grated Sbrinz.

This, combined with a salad, was a nice return to eating normalcy. :-)

Friday, August 01, 2008

Thursday: Broiled vegetables

This was a convenient way to use the zucchini and eggplant waiting in the fridge as well as some of the great lime-yogurt sauce from Wednesday night. The preparation was simple: I cut an eggplant and a couple zucchini into planks, brushed them with olive oil, and then broiled them until they were the right color. After they came out of the broiler I tossed the planks with a bit of salt and then served them with the yogurt sauce and leftover chicken pieces.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wednesday leftovers

To accompany the leftover greens from Sunday, I made some sauteed chicken chunks: breast meat tossed with fine flour and then shallow fried in olive oil. These I served with a lime-yogurt sauce (yogurt, garlic paste, lime juice, salt, black pepper, hot paprika).

Quick and quite good.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Monday: Grilling again

Yesterday was a bit too warm for normal cooking, and we had a friend visiting, so I fired up the grill. We kept it simple though and just did burgers and sausages with grilled onion.

oh, and a green salad. Of course.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sunday's greens

To accompany the leftover grilled pork, I did a batch of "cumin scented greens" from La Cocina de Mama.

This is pretty simple and quite good: brown some garlic and bread cubes in olive oil then mash with cumin seeds and red-wine vinegar in a mortar; slowly cook some minced onion in the remaining oil; add diced tomato and salt and cook a couple of minutes; add the garlic/bread paste and cook a bit longer; add some pre-cooked and chopped chard greens and let heat through.

We also had leftover barley and a green salad.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Saturday dessert : blueberry "cheesecake"

After seeing the Minimalist recipe this week and then seeing it mentioned on Bittman's blog, I pretty much had no choice when I saw blueberries at the market yesterday.

We assumed graham crackers would be difficult, so we didn't really do much looking and just used McVities digestives for the crust. These were good, but I think a bit more sweet in the crust would have helped.

Otherwise, this was a really nice dessert.

Saturday: Grilled pork tenderloin with grilled vegetables

The weather permitted, so the grill was employed yesterday. They had some really beautiful T-bone steaks at the Coop that I almost succumbed to, but then we found a nice-looking pork tenderloin that was half price; it's hard to pass that up.

I seasoned the pork with salt, pepper, coriander, and prepared mustard and then let it stand for about an hour while I got the fire started and grilled some red onions and heirloom tomatoes (a Pro Specie Rara type: Gezahnte). I grilled the pork over a medium-hot fire and then served it with the grilled vegetables, some cooked barley, and a simple vinaigrette (basil, rapeseed oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, prepared mustard).

Of course we also had a green salad.

Saturday lunch : spaetzle with vegetables

I usually end up forgetting to record weekend lunches where I cook; ha ha... not this time.

Start some olive oil in a pan. Add minced garlic and a couple dried chilis and let those cook until they're aromatic. Add some spaetzle (pre-made; I used "vegetable spaetzle") and let cook, tossing every few minutes, until the noodles are starting to brown and crisp up in places. Toss in some diced fresh tomato, coarsely chopped basil, and crumbled feta cheese. Serve immediately.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Wednesday Chinese

Yesterday I had a craving for something made with Chinese black beans. To solve this, I followed a BittmanWorld recipe for pork ribs with black bean sauce. Instead of ribs I used schweinshaxe (like osso bucco), which is a nice substitution.

As a side I did lettuce stir fried with sesame oil, ginger, and garlic, served with Sichuan hot oil and soy sauce.

Of course we also had rice and a salad.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tuesday: garbage gratin

Yesterday was one of those "let's clear vegetables out of the fridge" cooking days. The basil on the balcony also needed to be pruned, so that had to go into the meal as well. Given the situation at hand, the obvious thing to do was a garbage gratin.

Put a gratin dish in a 175C oven and let it preheat. Make some pasta (broken spaghetti and elbow macaroni). Brown some diced bacon in olive oil. Microwave some vegetables (green beans, zucchini, summer squash, eggplant) until half cooked. Make pesto (basil, olive oil, almonds, parmesan). Mix everything along with some salt and a few good grinds of black pepper. Add to the heated gratin dish. Top with breadcrumbs mixed with olive oil. Bake until browned up top, about 30 minutes.

We ate this delight with a big green salad.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sunday : "Tessiner Toast"

This quick meal was inspired by an app we had at the Kornhaus a couple of weeks ago; it's a nice way to use up stuff from the fridge. :-)

Brown some bacon in a bit of olive oil; add a sliced onion and cook until the onion starts to soften; add some zucchini sticks and some piquillo pepper strips; cook a bit longer. Toast some slices of bread (we used whole wheat toast bread) pretty well, then put on a baking sheet and top with the cooked vegetables, fresh basil, sliced tomatoes, and a good amount of cheese (mixture from the fridge: val poschiava, mariage des trois laits, sbrinz), then toss in the broiler and cook until the cheese is nicely browned.

We ate this with a big green salad.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Friday : More Salsa

We still had a lot of salsa leftover, so we suffered through another salsa-driven meal.

  1. Browned beef pieces served with a sauce made from the reduced pan glaze and salsa.
  2. Chard cooked in olive oil
  3. Bratkartoffeln (new potatoes)
All of this was served with a bunch of salsa on the side.

The beef wasn't as tender as one would have liked (it wanted a long cooking), but the flavors were great.

Oh, and a green salad.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Thursday : Salsa-driven cookery

I developed a strong craving for chipotle salsa; so I planned a meal around the salsa.

For the salsa: combine good canned tomatoes, chipotles, some garlic, some onion, lime juice, and some cilantro and food-process until smooth.

Other things to have with the salsa:

  • thin pork chops, seasoned and cooked in the grill pan
  • bratkartoffeln made from new potatoes and cooked with onion
  • zucchini cooked with a green long pepper
  • feta cheese
  • creme fraiche
It's happy-making food.

Oh yes, there was of course a green salad too.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tuesday's mixed vegetables and meatballs

We had a large quantity of vegetables in the fridge from last week's biokiste. This was an expedient to use up a bunch of those.

For the vegetables: Saute some chopped garlic in olive oil. Add green beans, cauliflower, dill, marjoram, oregano, black pepper, and a bit of water our bouillon. Cover and cook for a few minutes. Stir in some zucchini. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are cooked. Adjust seasoning.

For the meatballs: mix ground pork with some minced smoked bacon, an egg, some breadcrumbs, and a good grind of black pepper. Form small meatballs and brown in a bit of olive oil.

For the sauce: combined yogurt, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, hot paprika, and chopped fresh basil.

Serve the vegetables and meatballs with some rice and the sauce for a quite nice meal.

We also had, of course, a green salad.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sunday chickpeas and sausage

Chickpeas need no justificatory text.

Cook some chickpeas in water with a couple bay leaves. Drain them. In a separate pan, cook a couple diced onions, some chopped garlic, and whole cumin seeds in olive oil until the onion softens a bit. Add the chickpeas and toast a bit longer. Add some paprika, white wine, piri piri chilis, black pepper, stock (chicken bouillon), tomato paste, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, chopped parsley, and a couple more bay leaves and stir well. Add some merguez chopped into 1-2cm pieces, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20-30 minutes until the merguez is done.


of course we also had a green salad

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Saturday Risotto and Beef

It seems like it's been forever since I made risotto (ok, actually only since February).

I did a straightforward mushroom risotto using dried porcinis and black chantarelles. I tossed in a couple of thyme sprigs for good measure. Since we had no proper stock in the house, I used porcini bouillon that I enhanced by using it as the soaking liquid for the mushrooms. I finished the risotto with some butter.

Since the rice was super rich, the protein bit was simple: beef Saftplätzli (minute steaks, I guess) cooked in the grill pan, then served on a bed of mixed bell peppers cooked in olive oil.

Great food.

Saturday cocktails

After the great success of the margaritas, we decided to try another application of the basic Bittman recipe and substitute rum for the tequila in order to get something like a daiquiri.

I started with more or less the same proportions as before: 4oz rum, 2oz lime, 1.5oz triple sec, but that was too sweet. To cut the perceived sweet a bit, I added a slick of Meyers; that helped some.

All in all, this has potential, but we need to get some better rum. This is a formula where you really taste the alcohol you use, so a big part of the reason the margaritas were so good was the high-quality tequila. Comparing a drink made with some generic (not bad, but not particularly distinguished) rum just isn't fair.

Friday, July 11, 2008

leftovers catchup

To go with the leftover lentils this week I sauteed some green beans in olive oil with savory and bacon.

To go with the leftover chicken I cooked a head of lettuce with olive oil and dill.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wednesday grilling

The original plan was to do a Bittman recipe for grilled chicken with lemon, accompanied by chipotle-peach salsa. Unfortunately the peaches were moldy, so we just did the chicken.

This was super simple: toss chicken leg quarters on the slow part of the grill; cook until they're basically done; move to the hot part to get a nice surface; season with salt and pepper and serve with lemon slices. With good chicken it was excellent food. I wanted fruit salsa, so I made do with what was in the house: halved gooseberries and cassis tossed with minced chili (habanero family) and lime.

I also did some potatoes in a sort of cheaters hobo pack on the grill: cut new potatoes into chunks; microwave for a couple minutes until they're about half cooked (this is the cheating part). Transfer to a sheet of foil; add olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh rosemary, and fresh thyme. Wrap up the packets and toss on a slow part of the grill until they're done. very very good.

As a vegetable side, we had pan-browned cauliflower.

and a big green salad.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Sunday's lentils

I've been craving lentils for a while, but it's been too hot to cook them. "Fortunately" yesterday was cool and rainy.

Cook some finely diced onion, carrot, and celery in olive oil until they start to soften. Add small green lentils, diced smoked ham, some white wine, some chicken bouillon, a pinch of herbs de provence, a few bay leaves, and a good grind of pepper and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until the lentils are soft, about an hour. Serve topped with a drizzle of olive oil and some chopped parsley (if you have it, we didn't).

Lentils are goooooood.

As a veggie side, I cooked some thickly sliced zucchini in butter until it was soft and then mixed in some shredded basil leaves and a good grind of white pepper.

Of course we also had a green salad.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Saturday dessert: mixed berry gratin

The berries are now really starting to show up at the market. Last night, to celebrate, we did a berry gratin with blueberries, raspberries, cassis, and cherries (pitted), mixed with a bit of sugar, cornstarch, and lime juice; topped with crumbled cookies and baked.

simple and delicious

Saturday: Wine and Cheese

A while ago we bought a bottle of Savagnin that's been sitting there waiting to be tried. Yesterday we went to a good local cheese shop to organize a cheese plate and last night we broke open the bottle.

The cheese plate consisted of an assortment of raw-milk cheeses:

  • Hard cheeses:
    • Val Poschiavo (this was from Coop, so it didn't really fit in this company, but we had it in the house)
    • two year old Gruyere
    • Vacherin-Fribourgeois (the "Alp" version)
  • Soft cheeses:
    • French brie
    • Tallegio
  • Accompaniments:
    • bread
    • walnuts
    • almonds (toasted in olive oil)
    • cornichons
    • pearl onions
    • olives
    • apricots
    • blueberries
    • cassis
    • cherries
    • gooseberries
All in all a very successful meal; loads of different and interesting flavors and flavor combinations.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Friday: Baked eggplant

I took advantage of the fact that it cooled down yesterday to do some "real" cooking and improv a pan of baked eggplant.

Put some olive oil in a baking dish. Top with a layer of sliced eggplant, sprinkle with salt, top with a layer of sliced tomatoes, a layer of basil leaves, thinly sliced onions, a sprinkling of finely diced bacon, and a grind of pepper. Add another layer of everything. Cover and bake at 190C for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, grate over some sbrinz and let bake another 15 minutes.

Great stuff.

I also steamed a head of cauliflower and then tossed it with salt and olive oil.

Oh yes, and the green salad.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Wednesday grilling

It's still to hot to do real cooking in the kitchen, but I wanted to do something other than salads, so last night I fired up the grill and did:

  1. Artichokes, quartered and cleaned and then grilled until lightly charred, served with a yogurt-basil-caper-garlic sauce (also used as salad dressing)
  2. Pork faux-filet coated with a rub of cumin, coriander, salt, and black pepper and then grill-roasted. Served with chipotle mayo (the weekend got me thinking about chipotles again).
  3. Peaches, cut in half and grilled, then served with a sauce of brown sugar, butter, and Meyers rum.
We also had a big green salad and a baguette.

Very nice food.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Monday Night Quickies

It's too hot for real cooking, so I did some assorted salads and things that cook quickly:

  1. a bean salad with soissons beans, diced dried salami, red onion, lemon zest, olive oil, sherry vinegar, and a bit of hot paprika
  2. mange tout peas sauteed with bacon
  3. strips of summer squash and yellow long pepper cooked in a grill pan and then tossed with olive oil and lemon juice.
We also had a big green salad and hamburgers and cabbage salad left over from the weekend.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Saturday Cocktails : Margaritas

Inspired by this week's Minimalist column, I had to make cocktails. To go along with the planned grilling it didn't take much thinking for me to settle on margaritas as the drink of choice. I did a bit of small-scale playing around to get proportions I liked and ended up with the following (for two drinks):

4 oz good tequila (I used Herradura anejo)
2 oz lime juice (freshly squeezed, of course)
1-1.5 oz triple sec (actually curacao triple sec, which is nice stuff, too sweet to drink pure of course, but it has a nice flavor)

Shake with ice cubes and then serve over an ice cube, garnished with a bit of lemon zest.

Very nice stuff to sit in the sun and sip.

Update, 27 July:
After some more experimenting, the final proportions we settled on for this drink were 4 : 2 : 2. The triple sec brings a nice roundness and some bitter notes, so we increased the proportions a bit.

Saturday at the Grill

Last night we had friends over for cocktails and a night at the grill. I'll do the cocktails in the separate post. The food is here.

As starters I did : almonds sauteed in olive oil and then tossed with toasted cumin and salt; olives (bought "natural", i.e. without adornment, and then stored for a couple of weeks in olive oil with a crushed garlic clove, some lemon zest, and a chili. This was inspired by a Bittman post and has become a regular snack for me); and piquillos stuffed with leftover verbena-ricotta and then drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with chives.

I made a batch of quick pickles by tossing relatively thickly sliced cucumber with salt and dill fronds and then putting them in the pickle press for a couple of hours. After rinsing and wringing them out by hand I added a bit of lemon zest, a splash of cider vinegar, and some black pepper.

Of course we did a green salad.

For a second salad I shredded some white cabbage, salted it, let it stand for a few hours under pressure, rinsed it and wrung it out, and then tossed it with lemon juice, neutral oil, and some caraway seeds.

On the grill I did "leave it all out" hamburgers: good ground beef mixed with salt and then grilled. We ate these on toasted buns with grilled red onion slices and chipotle mayo.

Our dessert plan was grilled fruit with ice cream. Unfortunately by the time we came up with a plan, the only reasonable fruit left at the Coop were peaches; and they were rock hard. So instead of grilling them, I cut them in half and then poached them in sugar syrup. We ate these, drizzled with the syrup and a splash of armagnac over vanilla ice cream.

It was all very nice food, except for the cabbage salad which we forgot to take out the fridge and serve. Ah well, extra leftovers for tonight!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Thursday's miscellany

Last night's meal was driven by my desire to make with the lemon verbena we've got growing on the balcony. The solution to that "problem" was to finely chop some verbena, mix it with good ricotta cheese, a bit of salt, and some black pepper, and then use this to stuff tomatoes. In a way it's inspired by the dish that inspired one of the things from my first post on this blog.

These were quite good. There's loads of the filling left over, so I get to come up with some other good use for it... not an unhappy challenge to have.

To go along with the tomatoes I pan-roasted a duck breast and did bratkartoffeln with new potatoes and rosemary (cooked in clarified butter instead of oil because that's a gooood combination).

We also had a big green salad.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wednesday Salad

After enjoying the pre-game (Germany vs Turkey, Eur02008 semifinal) chaos around town last night we didn't have time to make it to the store, so dinner was a garbage salad made from stuff in the fridge and pantry: lettuce, carrots, olives, kidney beans, shredded ham, basil leaves, sbrinz chunks, and piquillo pepper shreds, all dressed with a basil vinaigrette. With that we had a baguette.

No supplemental green salad was required. ;-)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tuesday "Spanish"

A couple of random things tossed together based on what was in the fridge/pantry:

Chickpeas with toasted cumin seeds, garlic, piquillo pepper strips, a mixture of sweet and hot paprika, olive oil, and a splash of sherry.

Chunks of pork tenderloin browned in olive oil. I deglazed the pan with some sherry and then added some spinach. Once the spinach was cooked I added some minced garlic and tossed the pork back in the pan to warm up.

We also had some baguette and a big green salad.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sunday's salads

hmm, I see this isn't my first use of this title.

Our main dish was a salad of potatoes, pork tenderloin, and peas (mange-tout) taken from this month's Le Menu. It's pretty simple: make a dressing from neutral oil, balsamic, salt, pepper, and fresh thyme and put it in a big bowl; quarter some new potatoes and brown them in clarified butter then put them in the bowl; brown some bite-sized pieces of pork tenderloin in the same pan and put them in the bowl; cook the peas in the same pan until just about tender, then place them in the bowl. Toss everything together, adjust seasoning, and then let stand, tossing occasionally, for an hour or so.

I also steamed some white asparagus and served that at room temperature topped with a basil vinaigrette and some herbed streusel leftover from Saturday.

Of course we had a big green salad to go with these other really nice salads.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Saturday : Fish steamed on lettuce, fennel and tomato salad

We have a mountain of lettuce in the fridge, so last night's main course needed to involved cooked lettuce. I decided something inspired by a Bittman recipe I remember (but can't find) for fish fillets cooked on top of lettuce. The fish I used was Pintado, which I've seen in the Coop before but hadn't gotten around to trying. The fillets were really attractive and promising. At the time I bought them I didn't know that pintado is a type of farmed catfish.

For the dish itself, I started some minced garlic and shallots in a pan with olive oil, added some diced red onion and let it all cook for a bit. Then I added the lettuce, some finely chopped lemon thyme, a splash of white wine, a pinch of salt, and stirred. After topping the lettuce with the fish I covered the pan and let it steam until the fish was done.

The lettuce was nice. The fish was not: it had the usual flabby texture and somewhat muddy flavor of farmed catfish combined with a thick layer of fat underneath the skin that I just found revolting. Ah well, live and learn.

In addition to our obligatory green salad, I made a tomato and fennel salad from a recipe in this month's Le Menu: Arrange very thinly sliced tomato and fennel on a plate. Drizzle with a dressing made from cider vinegar, rapeseed oil, mustard, and fresh basil. Top with a fine streusel made by roasting flour, butter, salt, and minced basil in a pan until light brown. The use of basil was a substitution: the recipe called for peppermint, but we don't have a couple of beautiful peppermint plants on the terrace. :-)

The salad was really good. It's also easy and somewhat elegant looking, so worth keeping in mind for entertaining.