Monday, March 31, 2008

Sunday Indian

Last night we had a couple of friends over for dinner and did an Indian meal.

As a main course I made "Red Braised Chicken" from BittmanWorld. I did the variation with vegetables and added some sliced okra about 30min before the end of the cooking time. I used leg quarters instead of a whole chicken (they braise better) and browned the pieces before starting the braise. The dish was good, but could have used a bit more spice.

As a rice dish I did the Bittman "Stuck-pot rice" recipe with yogurt and curry. We've done the potato version of this a couple of times. I didn't get the level of crust that I would have liked, but the flavor of the rice was excellent.

I also made a simple raita with yogurt, lime, salt, and a cumin, black mustard, and curry leaf mixture that I toasted first.

Of course we also had a green salad.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Nanorestaurant Review: Goldenes Fass (Basel)

Another recommendation from Basel Geht Aus. Another good recommendation.

Two smiley faces

  • Food: very nice. somewhat creative but not too much so and very carefully prepared
  • Service: no complaints
  • Atmosphere: very comfortable and, wonder of wonders, non-smoking during the dinner hours. hurray for nonsmoking restaurants!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Thursday Night: Steak au Poivre

This one has been on my "must make soon" list since I made the veal essence a couple of weekends ago. I used the recipe from Bourdain and some nice steaks from the Italian butcher.

To go with the lovely steaks I did oven-roasted potatoes and steamed beets with a rosemary vinaigrette. It's so weird to like beets now!

We also had a green salad.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wednesday's extreme randomness

I had a plan for last night's dinner, even a good plan, but it was dependent on picking up a steak at the butcher. So, of course, the butcher was closed yesterday. That left us with the need to either go to the store or improvise from what was in the house. We were both feeling lazy, so improvisation it was.

I made a batter (1dl milk, 1dl water, pinch of salt, 120g knopflimehl) and used that to make thin pancake/thick crepes. These I filled with thinly sliced fleischkase (leftover from weekend breakfast), grated cheese (gruyere and tete de moine), toasted walnuts, and black pepper. I rolled the crepes, put them all in a gratin dish, and baked until the cheese inside was melted and the tops were crispy.

With this bit of randomness we had a green salad.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tuesday: Chickpeas

I realized yesterday that I had a chickpea craving... this is how I solved it.

Saute some lardons of smoked bacon (~100g) in a bit of olive oil until they start to brown. Add three thinly sliced garlic cloves; continue to saute until they start to color. Add ~1tsp whole cumin seeds and a good grind of coriander; cook for another couple of minutes. Deglaze with some sherry (50ml?), add a finely diced onion, and a can of chickpeas. Add enough chicken stock (I used boullion) to get the beans swimming, then add a tsp of hot paprika and a pinch of saffron and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add some chopped roasted peppers and return to a simmer for another couple of minutes. Just before serving add some canned tomatoes that you've cut into chunks; return to a simmer and serve over rice, topped with chives.

This is one of those flavor combinations where it's very hard to go wrong. Nice stuff.

We also had a green salad.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Monday night: Southeast asian

For last night's main course I did the recipe for "Two-Way Chicken" from BittmanWorld using leg quarters instead of a whole chicken. I otherwise basically followed the recipe but made the mistake of using dark soy sauce (instead of standard) in the marinade: dark soy sauce burns too easily to be able to effectively brown the chicken. Ah well, the chicken wasn't browned so the dish wasn't as good as it could have been; it was still quite good. I did a full recipe of sauce and a half recipe of chicken, so we had plenty of delicious sauce for our rice.

As a side I cooked some frozen spinach with minced lemon grass, keffir lime leaves, and soy sauce. Just before serving I drained off the extra liquid and added a bit of butter, a splash of soy, and a squeeze of lime.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Saturday Dessert: Rum Creme

In the April chapter of Kaltenbach there is a series of recipes for cremes, and mousses. I was kind of wondering why these desserts were seasonally appropriate, but Andrea postulated that people have to do something with the contents of Easter eggs. Good point!

Last night for dessert I followed the rum creme recipe. I should have strained the thickened egg yolks before folding in the whites, but otherwise this was excellent.

Mix 3 egg yolks with 120g sugar and 150ml rum. Heat, stirring constantly, over a double boiler until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain. Beat the three egg whites to soft peaks with a pinch of salt and 20g more sugar. Fold these into the yolk mixture and cool the whole thing before serving.

Saturday: Braised Kid (goat)

It seems that in some parts of Switzerland the traditional Easter dish is kid instead of lamb. We decided to give that a try. So yesterday we picked up some front quarter pieces (i.e. ribs) which I braised in marsala with sage and rosemary following a recipe from Kaltenbach.

There wasn't a lot of meat on those ribs (I should have bought hind quarter pieces instead), but what was there was quite tasty.

We ate the kid with polenta as a starch, appropriate accompaniment for a dish from Tessin.

While we were at the store I noticed some organic asparagus that I just couldn't resist. It's nothing like local (from Spain), but at least it didn't have to cross an ocean (and, as Andrea pointed out, I have no problem eating oranges and mandarines from Spain). I prepared this simply by cutting the stalks into pieces on a bias and sauteing them in butter. Good stuff!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Friday : pasta with tuna sauce

This was a relatively low effort (though not quick) meal: I caramelized some onions and garlic in olive oil then added tuna, lemon zest, and some dill. I thinned this out a bit with pasta water before serving it over ziti with a splash of olive oil and some chopped parsley.

simple, but good.

of course we had a green salad as well.

Energy Bars Take 3: review

Well, the snowshoeing trip may have been cut short, but the energy bars were a success. The flavor, texture, and consistency are all good.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Energy Bars Take 3

We have a five day hiking/snowshoeing trip planned for this weekend, so it seemed like a good time to make another batch of energy bars.

Same procedure as the two previous attempts, just slightly different quantities:

80g dried dates, chopped in food processor
80g dried apricots, chopped in food processor
50g dried shredded coconut
50g almond flakes
100g walnuts, chopped in food processor
pinch of salt
120g oats, chopped in food processor
60g soy, chopped in food processor
75g honey
1.5 beaten eggs (really more like 1.7, since it's hard to dispense half an egg)

These looked good when they came out of the oven, and the flavor is nice. We'll see how they hold up on the trail this

Tuesday: Veal and barley soup

There was some stock leftover from this weekend's essence preparation, so last night I made soup.

I started 1.5 cups barley (too much!) in about 2 liters of stock, cooked that for a while; added some diced carrot and celery root, cooked for a while longer; added 200g of veal Brät (no idea how to translate this... it's a fine meat emulsion, like the inside of a sausage, formed into small meatballs), and cooked until the barley was tender. Simple and good.

As a side I made some baked endive.

We also had a nice big salad.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Monday Japanese

Last night I did a batch of omusubi (onigiri). As a filling I used "gingery ground chicken" )recipe from Washoku) and a bit of omebushi in each one. I made the balls themselves using Makiko's technique, though I left them round and didn't use any nori on the outside.

To go along with the rice balls, I did two accompaniments:

  1. Carrots (multiple colors) cut into threads, briefly steamed, then dressed with mirin, rice vinegar, and sesame oil.
  2. Cress dressed with rice vinegar and grapeseed oil.
Quite a pleasing meal.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sunday lunch: baked spaetzle

This was a quickie lunch designed primarily to use up the meat leftover from making veal essence.

I started by sauteing some premade spaetzle in a bit of olive oil along with the shredded veal. To this I added a bit of cayenne and black pepper. When the spaetzle were starting to brown I transferred them to a pre-warmed gratin dish, topped with grated Gruyere, and put the dish under the broiler until the cheese was browned.

Just before servingI topped the spaetzle with crisp-fried onions (also from the store).

Simple and nice.

Weekend veal stock/essence

Saturday afternoon I converted 2 kg of veal breast into primary stock following the recipe in Kamman. Since my big stock pot is pretty old and no longer perfectly flat on the bottom (not good on the ceramic cooktop), I did the long cooking by putting the pot in oven (at 150C). This seemed to work pretty well.

I strained the stock and let it cool overnight, then defatted it on Sunday morning.

I converted 3l of the defatted stock into "essence" by browning another couple hundred grams of veal, adding the stock, and letting it reduce down to about 500ml. I fished the veal pieces out after about 1.5 hours (we had them for lunch). The strained reduction went into the fridge to cool and separate. After a couple more hours I defatted the essence, divided it into three portions, and froze them.

This week I'll do something with the stock and then give the essence a try next week. It tastes great, so I can't wait to use it.

This whole process was time consuming, but didn't require particularly much work on my part. The sticking point, of course, is the cost of the raw materials : this is a project only to be done with veal is on sale.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Saturday's Braise

Yesterday veal was on sale at the store, so we picked up a nice looking rolled roast that I made last night as a braise. I used the recipe for "orange-braised veal shoulder with sweet and sour braised cabbage and fennel slaw" from How to Cook Meat for this. Aside from a mistake that wasn't particularly tragic -- I used the lemon juice to braise the cabbage instead of vinegar, but that meant that I had to make the fennel slaw with orange juice and lemon zest -- I followed the recipe.

To accompany the veal and cabbage I did mashed potatoes with celery root.

This was some extremely good food.

We also had a green salad.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Nanorestaurant Review: Lily's Stomach Supply (Basel)

We did this for lunch today because we both had powerful noodle cravings. Lily's is another restaurant we ate at in our first couple weeks; I remember being shocked by the prices at the time, but now they seem low to moderate... ah how quickly one adjusts.

Two smiley faces; it's a nice place for lunch.

  • Food: good! not great, but good
  • Service: no complaints
  • Atmosphere: no complaints
Someone at the table next to us ordered a whole-fish dish... gonna have to remember to get that next time.

Nanorestaurant Review: Restaurant Aida (Basel)

We ate at Aida sometime in our first couple weeks in Basel and had very nice memories. Last night we went back and replaced those nice memories with less positive ones.

No smiley faces.

  • Food: acceptable. The lamb in Andrea's couscous was quite tough and my tagine was nowhere near as good as it was last time
  • Atmosphere: For some reason they've decided to be a piano bar as well as a restaurant. This isn't a good thing.
  • Service: Friendly and fine.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Enough with the vegetable photos

After doing it for almost a year, I'm going to stop with the biokiste pictures. I've got some record of what comes at each time of year, so I don't see the need to keep doing the photos.

Thursday Italian

Last night's main course was "Beef patties baked with anchovies and mozzarella" from Hazan. I pretty much followed the recipe (mix beef with milk-softened bread and an egg, form patties, coat them with bread crumbs, brown them, top with tomato, mozzarella, and anchovy and then bake until the cheese had melted).

As a side I cooked the greens from a couple bunches of radishes (from this week's biokiste) in olive oil with a pinch of salt.

Very simple food, very good.

We also had a green salad.

Wednesday Pasta

This was a quick one because we had plans for the evening.
I started by cooking onion and garlic in olive oil until they softened a bit, then I added some chopped Italian sausage (hot, with fennel) and let that brown some. After deglazing with red wine, I added a can of tomatoes and a pinch each of marjoram and oregano. This simmered for 10-15 minutes and then we ate it over elbow macaroni with a grating of parmesan and a splash of olive oil.

When starting from good sausage, simple things like this are just excellent.

We also had a green salad.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Monday Night Gratin (and soup!)

Monday seems to be our day for gratins.

We started with carrot-ginger soup: saute diced carrots, onion, and celery in butter with a pinch of salt until the carrot starts to soften. Add some chicken stock, minced ginger, and some orange zest. Simmer until the vegetables are soft. Puree, add butter and white pepper, adjust seasonings, and serve.

For the gratin, I did a sauce from milk, light cream (saucen halbrahm), bay leaves, nutmeg, black pepper, chicken boullion, and a bit of cayenne. I brought this almost to the boil, then turned off the heat and let it steep for a couple of minutes before removing the bay leaves. Andrea built the gratin itself by layering thinly sliced potato, celery root, and smoked pork loin with the sauce. We topped the whole thing with gruyere and let it bake covered at 175C for 30 minutes, increased the heat to 200 and let it continue until the cheese was bubbly and brown.

Very, very nice food... gratins are great.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sunday's Miscellany

Last night was a "make do with what's in the house" affair since I was too lazy to go to the store at the station.

For the main course I started some diced smoked pork in olive oil with some sliced leek. When they started to soften I mixed in some leftover basmati rice, covered the pan, and let it cook for 15 minutes or so. The hope was to get a nice crust on the rice; that didn't happen but the dish was still tasty.

As a vegetable side I cooked some diced carrot with frozen peas in a bit of stock with some herbs de Provence. Just before serving I added some butter and a beet that I had diced and sauteed in a separate pan until it lightly caramelized.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Thursday Enchiladas

It's been much too long since we had enchiladas. In fact, searching back through the blog it doesn't look like I've made any since I started this thing 3.5 years ago. Crazy!

I'm sure I have an enchilada recipe laying around somewhere, but there was a particular taste I was looking for in this sauce, so I made up my own recipe.

Anyway, Andrea got things started this afternoon by tossing a couple of chicken legs in a pot with a sliced carrot, a chopped stalk of parsley, an onion, a couple bay leaves, and some cilantro stems. After adding enough water to cover the chicken, she covered this and let it simmer for an hour and a half until the chicken was fall off the bone tender. She took the chicken out and let the stock reduce a bit.

When I got home I strained the stock, then added a bunch of dried chilis (2 guajillo, 3 chile negro, and powered ancho, new mexican, and chipotle), some freshly ground coriander and cumin, a couple slugs of soy sauce, and a good pinch of dried oregano. This simmered for a bit until the chilis were soft, then I pureed it, stirred in some sour halbrahm, and then strained the whole mess again.

After skinning and picking the chicken, Andrea rolled it into corn tortillas with some thinly sliced onion and set the finished enchiladas on a thin layer of sauce. We topped the pan of enchiladas with the remaining sauce and some grated gruyere and then baked it at 175C until the sauce was bubbly and the cheese was nicely melted.

We ate this wonderful, wonderful food with some parboiled rice (with wild rice) and a green salad.

It's not going to be 3.5 years until the next time we do this.

Wednesday Curry

For last night's curry I deviated a bit from my usual practice and browned the pork cubes before adding them to the sauce. It's a nice variation.

For the sauce itself I used my standard technique with red curry paste supplemented with garlic, ginger, lemon grass, keffir lime leaves, and coriander roots. As vegetables I used Thai eggplant and onion. Just before serving I stirred lime juice into the curry and I topped the bowls with chopped coriander.

We ate the curry with Thai sticky rice and had absolutely nothing to complain about (aside from the fact that we ate too much).

Tuesday Grünkohl

Last week's biokiste had a bag of grünkohl in it; that's something that's guaranteed to make me happy.

I started by lightly browning some diced Spanish ham in a bit of olive oil, to this I added a crushed garlic clove and a diced onion. When the onion was soft I added the finely chopped grünkohl and cooked until that darkened. I then added some boullion, covered it, and let it simmer. After about 20 minutes I added some halved new potatoes and simmered for another 20 minutes. Then I added a whole saucisson neuchateloise and simmered until the grünkohl was tender, about 30 more minutes.

We also had a green salad.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Monday: Fleischvögel with leeks

The March Le Menu has a series of recipes for Fleischvögel (rouladen) that mostly all look good. My choice for last night was driven by the continuing presence of some smallish leeks in the fridge.

Start with 4 thin slices of beef, on each: smear on some pesto rosso and a grind of pepper; add a very thin slice of ham; add a piece of leek cut to be the appropriate width; roll up the Fleischvögel and tie them with kitchen twine. Brown the finished pieces quickly in a bit of clarified butter; deglaze with red wine; add some beef boullion and another spoonful of pesto rosso; bring to a low boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the leeks are tender, about an hour; turn the Fleischvögel occasionally. Adjust seasonings and, if necessary, thicken the sauce with a bit of potato starch.

We ate these with roasted baby potatoes and a big green salad and were very happy about how things went.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Saturday's fish

There wasn't much cooking last week: the baked pasta lasted until Thursday and we went out on Friday night (Kornhaus, no further nanoreviews necessary... it's good). Yesterday though, yesterday I spent some time in the kitchen.

The concept for the meal came in the morning when I saw the display of whole fish that they had at the store. After last week's failed attempt to get fish, there was no way I was passing this chance up. I exercised some restraint and "only" bought a dorade royale (sea bream), a mackerel, and some sardines. After getting home the searching through the cookbooks started.

The sardines I did as escabeche based on a recipe from Tapas. I deviated from the recipe a bit by adding chili to the oil and using some red-wine vinegar. We didn't try this last night; it's been steeping in the fridge and should be ready tonight.

I roasted the dorade on a bed of diced carrot, celery, sliced onion, and olive oil.

For the mackerel I used a recipe from BittmanWorld for "grilled" mackerel with garlic and rosemary. My modifications here were to add some lemon zest and parsley to the garlic and rosemary used to rub the fish.

As a sides we had grain risotto cooked in vegetable boullion (in the pressure cooker), braised chard, and a green salad.

It was a very nice meal.