Thursday, January 31, 2008

Biokiste 36

Woo hoo! Grünkohl this week. And something that we are unable to identify (the greenish thing in the middle). It's some kind of root, but who knows what kind?

Wednesday: Brussels sprouts and a pig in a big blanket

Last night I did a couple of quick improvs that seemed seasonally correct: brussels sprouts with a mustard-cream sauce and smoked pork loin baked in blätterteig.

The pork was simplicity itself: I brushed the smoked loin with mustard, wrapped it in the dough, and then baked it until the crust was nicely browned.

The sprouts were somewhat bigger than the ones we normally get, so I parboiled them first, then cut them in half and finished cooking them in butter in a skillet with some salt. Just before serving I added a bit of cream, some prepared mustard, some white wine, and a couple grinds of white pepper.

We ate these nice things with a green salad.

For whatever reason, this struck me as photogenic... I'm falling down the food photography hole.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tuesday: pork chops with apples

Last night's main course were thin pork loin chops (the kind I normally pound out for schnitzel) served with apple compote. The pork was really simple: I seasoned the chops and then cooked over high heat. I reduced the liquid from the apples down to a couple Tbs and whisked in a bit of butter to make a sauce. The apples themselves I heated up a bit and served on the side.

Very nice indeed.

We also finished off the last of the rice and peas.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Monday: A noteworthy side

Last night's main course was risi bisi. As a side I prepared some braised belgian endive that ended up quite nicely.

I cut the endive heads in half and put them in a pan with some butter, a small amount of water, a pinch of salt, some orange zest, and a couple pinches of sugar. I covered this and let it simmer until the endive was soft. At the end I added a bit more sugar (after tasting for bitterness) and let the liquid reduce down to almost nothing. This was a really nice side dish.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sunday : Leftovers + risi bisi

We were out of town this weekend, so no big cooking yesterday. When we got back, I made a pot of risi bisi (risotto rice, garlic, onion, peas, vegetable bouillon, white wine) to go with the remains of the cabbage and sausage from Friday night.

The risi bisi wasn't nearly as boring as the polenta on Friday! :-)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Friday: Sausage, cabbage, and polenta

This was driven by the purchase of some italian sausage (I found a good Italian butcher in the area) and the presence of a head of wirsing in the biokiste. I did a recipe from Hazan for cabbage and sausage that, aside from using hot sausage with fennel instead of mild sausage without strong seasonings, I mostly followed. Nothing fancy, but very good.

We ate the main course with polenta (not my best effort, this ended up being quite boring) and had a carrot salad to go with it.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Wednesday Beans and Greens

This was pretty straightforward: a bitter lettuce with lupini beans, bacon, and leeks. I seasoned it with a few piri piri peppers, a good dose of sweet paprika, and a bit of oregano. In addition to the usual stock (bouillon) I added white wine. I made the dish a bit soupier than normal and we ate it over basmati rice.

lovely food.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sunday Dessert: Clementine Clafoutis

Since I saw the Bittman recipe for clementine clafoutis a couple of weeks ago, it's been on the"must make" list. Rather than make it in a big dish I went for two small ramekins and then made a 1/3 portion of the batter.

The results were almost souffle like:
(of course they collapsed more or less immediately after the picture was taken).

The flavor was quite good, but I left them in the oven a bit too long, so the "cake" was a bit tough.

I'm going to have to stop saying "rare" in context with desserts. :-)

Sunday Pesto

We had a bit of summer for dinner last night: I pulled one of the packages of basil that I froze (food processed with olive oil) back in August and used it to make a pesto (basil, olive oil, sun-dried tomato, walnuts, sbrinz). We ate the pesto over bavette (long, oval noodles).

I also cooked a head of radicchio with some bacon and olive oil.

Naturally we had a big salad as well.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Saturday Braise

Is it a braise or is it a roast... that is the question. I'm going with braise.

I started with a nice piece of beef (siedfleisch. it looked like a piece of breast, but who knows). This went in the Römertopf with a sliced leek, some sweet white wine (Amigne de Vetroz, "half sweet" officially), a bay leaf, some marjoram, and a bit of salt. This went in a cold oven and was brought up to 150C. After an hour and a half I added a chopped parsnips, carrots (red, yellow, and orange), and celery root. Another hour and a half later I fished out the vegetables and meat and made a sauce by thickening the pan liquids with a light roux and adding another splash of wine.

We ate this with mashed potatoes and a big green salad.

Surprisingly to me, the meat could have used a while longer in the oven: it wasn't completely fork tender. Ah well, the flavor was still good. Not my most successful creation, but easily edible.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Apple Compote

We had a few kilos of apples from our farm sitting around that we needed to do something with. The apples are Rewenas: a nicely acidic variety that somehow we don't quite enjoy eating raw. As an experiment to try and use up a good quantity of the apples before they go bad, today we made a batch of apple compote.

I made the "broth" from 5ooml apple juice and about 750ml apple cider, 4 star anises, a few pepper corns, the zest from a lemon, and a few peppercorns. I let this simmer for a while to extract the flavors, and then strained it. Andrea cleaned and cored the apples and then cut them into 12ths. These I packed into jars with some sultanas and then filled the jars with the liquid. After putting on the lids, I boiled the jars for 20 minutes then let them cool.

After they've had a few days to age we'll try cracking open one of the jars to see how things turned out.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Biokiste 35

In the midst of some hectic, I managed to miss the picture of box 34 last week (first miss! damn!). Here's box 35. The next one doesn't come for another two weeks.

Thursday Teriyaki

Wednesday night we needed to finish the last of the meatloaf, but last night I could cook again. I made some miso soup to start with and then chicken teriyaki as a main course.

I normally avoid teriyaki because I find it much, much too sweet, but the recipe in Tsuji sounded more balanced. The recipe calls for 7Tbs each of sake, mirin, and dark (Japanese) soy sauce and 1Tbs sugar. I made about a half portion for us with 4Tbs of the liquids and a half Tbs of sugar. The sauce in its pure form is a bit boring, but after deglazing the chicken pan with it and reducing for a couple of minutes it's great. I need to work on my chicken-leg boning technique: boning the two leg quarters took me much longer than I need to do a whole chicken (except the drumsticks). Practice will make perfect and this dish is quick enough and good enough that practice will be happening.

We ate the teriyaki on sweet rice with quick pickled cucumber (with yuzu) and pickled ginger (bought) on the side.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tuesday Japanese

I didn't want to have meatloaf again, so last night I did a simple Japanese meal.

The main dish was cod fillets that I marinated with miso (top the fillet with a layer of cheesecloth, smear light miso on the cheesecloth, cover and let stand in the fridge all day, remove the cheesecloth before cooking) and then broiled.

As vegetables I did carrots braised with soy and sake (from Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art) and some mange tout peas (not quite snow peas, but similar) cooked briefly with dashi and mirin.

We ate everything over sweet rice.

Definitely need to do Japanese more often. I looked through JC:ASA with an eye towards ingredient availability and it should be reasonably easy to do.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Stewed fruit repeat

Last night I did another batch of stewed fruit; the difference from the previous round was replacing the OJ with some ruby port and adding some orange zest.

It was even better than last time. :-)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Sunday stewed fruit

Dinner last night was leftover meatlof (surprise surprise) with ebli as a side and a big green salad. I did one of our rare desserts by stewing some fruit.

I started with some mixed dried fruit from Coop (plums, pears, apricots, peach, apple). I cut the fruit into bite-sized pieces and then put them in a pan with some cherries, apple juice, orange juice, a shot of rum, a cinnamon stick, a couple cloves, a star anise, a grind of black pepper, a bit of cayenne, a bit of ground ginger, and some nutmeg. This I let simmer for about an hour until the fruit were well hydrated and the liquid had reduced to a sauce. We ate the fruit topped with a bit of vanilla pudding (from the store, I thought about making creme anglaise but that would have just been too much work after our hike). This was quite nice.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Saturday: meatloaf meatloaf meatloaf

Last weekend we got a Fleischwolf (meat grinder), and tonight I broke it in with a batch of stuff for meatloaf.

The mixture I made was 300g beef, 300g pork, and about 200g smoked beef tongue (leftover and frozen from December). I also ground in an onion and 5 or 6 allspice berries, added a couple of diced carrots, a diced stalk of celery, a sprig of chopped thyme, half a sprig of chopped rosemary, a good grind of black pepper, and a few pinches of salt. After gently mixing well, I formed this into a loaf, and then baked it at 160C for about an hour.

As sides I made a rösti, some braised radicchio, and a big green salad.

excellent food, which is good, because we're going to be eating meatloaf for the forseeable future.

Nanoreview: Restaurant Johann (Basel)

The original incarnation of Johann was one of the first restaurants we ate at in Basel, and we really liked it. Unfortunately it shut down a few months after we arrived so we never got to go back. Now there's a new Johann (same name, same location, different kitchen staff).

Overall one and half smiley faces. I'd probably go for one smiley, but the service and atmosphere were so nice...

  • Food: good. Not stunning, but good. Very reasonably priced.
  • Service: Very good. Friendly, informal, welcoming.
  • Atmosphere: Not much changed from what I remember of the old Johann: modern but comfortable.
Demerits for not having a separate area for smokers, though luckily things didn't get too smokey last night. Now that France has banned smoking in restaurants and it's banned in parts of Germany I'm going to start noting if it's possible to enjoy a meal without being surrounded by smoke.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Bread revisited

After the mixed success of this weekend's bread-making experiment, I decided to do another batch of bread, this time using the Beranbaum proportions: 470g flour (halbweiss flour from Coop), 350g water, 1/4tsp yeast, 10g salt. I made the dough on Tuesday evening, let it go overnight, and then stored it in the fridge.

I've been making rolls by pulling off 80g portions in the morning, rolling them into balls with a bit of extra flour, letting them rise all day, and then baking them just before dinner.

The dough is much better than last time in terms of consistency, but it still is a bit too loose to do free-standing rolls. I have worked around this by putting the dough balls on individual pieces of parchment paper and letting them rise in a constrained area (a small frying pan) with the paper separating them. This works ok, but the results are still a bit too flat for my tastes. Andrea had the good idea to try using paper muffin cups; I'll test this with the last batch of rolls tonight.

All concerns about shape aside: the rolls are very good and it's really not very much work (as the recipes all promise). The dough seems quite stable and happy in the fridge.

The week's leftovers

Between the soup, the sauerkraut, and the rillettes, we've had leftovers to take us through the week. These have been supplemented with freshly made rolls, but that's a topic for another post.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Sunday dinner: Chickpea soup

Inspired by the amuse bouche at bon vivant, last night I made a batch of chickpea soup to accompany the bread and rillettes. I used the recipe for "Spanish Chickpea Soup" from CPV as a starting point, but I made some modifications along the way:

  • I used 1/2 the suggested quantity of chickpeas
  • I fully pureed the soup instead of only doing half of it
  • I added some extra marjoram after pureeing
  • Instead of drizzling with straight olive oil, I made a "vinaigrette" with freshly squeezed OJ, good olive oil, a bit of garlic, and salt
We also had a green salad.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Sunday bread

Last night/this morning I made a batch of Bittman's infamous "no-knead bread". I somehow screwed up the measurement of the flour so that a recipe that already called for too much water (something I should have already known) was waaaaay too wet (50/50 flour/water by weight). So this morning I had to add a bunch of flour to get something that was even remotely shapeable. The resulting bread didn't have the crumb I was hoping for, but the flavor is nice and the crust is fantastic.

Next time (soon, because I really want to use this recipe to make brötchen), I'm going to use the proportions from an authoritative source (470g flour, 350g water, 1/4tsp yeast, 10g salt). If I had found this last night it would have saved me some hassle.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Saturday's compromises

The ideas for today's dinner came and went and came and went based on availability of ingredients and our whims. We finally decided on broiled fish with miso, but that failed since we couldn't find reasonable fish for it.

On the quest for fish we picked up some sauerkraut at the market; this ended up being a major component of dinner. The final meal was:

  • sauerkraut cooked with leeks, gewurztraminer, bay leaf, juniper berries, caraway, vegetable boullion, and black pepper.
  • Beet rösti
  • A salad using three types of carrots (all biokiste) and leeks based on the "Moroccan Carrot Salad" recipe from CPV.
  • A green salad.
This was kind of all over the place in terms of flavors, but it was all quite good.

Frikadellen for lunch

Today's lunch was frikadellen I tossed together from ground pork, finely diced carrot and celery, minced onion, an egg, bread crumbs, salt and pepper.

We ate the nice patties with a quickie cocktail sauce I made from freshly grated horeradish, ketchup, and a dash of tabasco. This stuff made me crave shrimp. :-)


This dish can't really be assigned to a particular day since they were cooked on Wednesday, "processed" on Thursday, and then aged until today and they'll be eaten over the next few days. Na ja...

Anyway, I made rillettes. I based the recipe on the one in Techniques, but I made modifications based on what I found at the Coop and what we had in the fridge.

For the meat I used 500g pork shoulder and 300g pork breast (with bones). I cut the breast meat off the ribss and cut everything into 2-3cm cubes and then poached with the ribs, a supplemental soup bone that was left over from Wednesday's meal, an herb packet (made from two sprigs of parsley, two sprigs of thyme, 2 crushed allspice berries, 1 clove, 1 bay leaf, and four fennel seeds), a few grinds of black pepper, a good quantity of salt, and enough water to cover the whole mess by a few cm. This poached gently for 6 hours, then I fished the bones and herb packet out and let it sit overnight. On Thursday morning I transferred everything to a bowl and stirred it vigorously to break the chunks of meat up into threads. Along the way I picked out any large pieces of fat. After testing the salt levels, I packed the meat into ramekins, covered them, and put them in the fridge to mature.

We tried the first ramekin this morning and were very, very pleased with how things turned out.

Nanoreview revisited: Erlkönig Basel

Since our first visit to the Erlkönig we had been back once during the summer where we had another nice meal (though again with a couple of small food problems mainly related to things being cooked too long/burnt). Since it's closing soon, we went back last night for a last visit.

I don't know if the problems we encountered were because they'd just gotten back from vacation or if they're just phoning it in at this point since they'll be shutting down, but we were very much not impressed last night. The service was incredibly slow (there was a big group in the dining room, but it wasn't completely full, so they should have been able to cope) and the food was mediocre at best: some things were burnt, the rabbit terrine was overly sweet, the quail was dry and comparatively flavorless, the red cabbage served as a side was absurdly sweet (and had a pronounced ketchup(!) flavor), etc.

It was an unfortunate last meal.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Wednesday Swiss

Tonight we had a couple more things from Kaltenbach. As a main dish I made an Emmenthaler sheep (well, lamb) ragout and as a side I did red cabbage with apples and wine.

For the ragout I pretty much followed the recipe, using a boneless lamb leg that we bought back in 2007 when lamb was on sale. I skipped the final enrichment of the sauce with cream and egg yolk, because it was plenty rich and delicious on its own. We ate the ragout with mashed potatoes and were very pleased with it.

The red cabbage recipe was pretty standard aside from the inclusion of the red wine and the use of dill and caraway. It's nice stuff.

I'm really enjoying this cookbook... it's easy to get ingredients appropriate for the time of year and the recipes are very satisfying both to make and to eat.

We also had a nice green salad.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Tuesday: Rice with Vegetables, Apple-Potato Gratin

Tonight somehow ended up being a mostly vegetarian meal (except for the chicken stock in the rice).

One piece was an apple-potato gratin from a recipe in Kaltenbach. This is pretty simple: potatoes, tart apples (both ordered from our farm), onions, butter, salt, pepper, and marjoram. Layered in a gratin dish, topped with buttered bread crumbs, and baked. It's just excellent.

The other component was a rice and vegetable dish I improved: leek, carrot, celery, radicchio, and peas with rice (parboiled+wild). I cooked the vegetables (except the peas) in some olive oil, then added the rice and peas along with chicken stock and white wine and simmered until the rice was done. We served it topped with grated sbrinz.

Another very nice meal.