Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas trip restaurant nanoreviews

Zambra (Ashville): two smiley faces. Good, creative tapas and cocktails, nice wine list, good service (particularly considering the size of our group), nice atmosphere.

Four Sisters (Falls Church): two smiley faces. Good Vietnamese food. Packed at lunchtime. Service ok. Atmosphere ok.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

This year's Christmas cookies

  1. Andrea's Schokomakronen (recipe here:
  2. Zimtsterne (from Kaltenbach, recipe here: . I, once again, forgot to reserve any egg whites to top them with)
  3. Basler Brunsli (from Kaltenbach)
  4. Honig Lebkuchen (from Kaltenbach)
They all turned out well; the Lebkuchen were a real surprise and should definitely be made again.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Nano restaurant review: Spring Paris

  • Food: great, the cepes-filled giant ravioli with green tomato foam was a "wow" dish
  • Service: good
  • Atmosphere: good
Two very smiley faces

Paris food

  1. L'As du Falafel: boy do I wish we had something this good in Basel
  2. Bread from Poilane: great stuff.
  3. Bread from Eric Kayser: good, but not as good as Poilane
  4. Dinner at Spring: Wow.
  5. Dinner at Le Gorille Blanc: not bad, but it's tough to follow Spring
  6. Lunch at Mosaik: nice Moroccan food
  7. Cooking from all the markets: yeah!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Ithaca food

What happens if you go back after 15 years?

  • Just a Taste: My wine tastes have evolved, but the food is still as good as it used to be. We had a great meal.
  • Thai Cuisine: This is probably because my expectations have changed, but I remember this being better than it is now. 
  • Collegetown Bagels: mmm, good bagels.
  • Viva Taqueria: I wish we could get burritos this good in Basel.
  • The Chapterhouse: ok, it's a bar, not a restaurant. The space is still basically the same, but I definitely preferred it had its own beer, ginger ale, root beer, and nothing else.
  • Sushi O Sake (can't find a URL): good food, but not great.
  • The Nines: Having a pint of Black Forest and a slice really took me back. I do like Nines pizza.

Toronto food

hmm, I've definitely fallen out of the habit of doing this... but that's no reason not to do some nano-restaurant reviews.

From our visit to Toronto... in no particular order:

  • Lai Wah Heen: very nice dim sum lunch. It's odd to order everything instead of having them come by with carts, but we ate *very* well.
  • Yummy BBQ (can't find a website): great dive korean BBQ lunch.
  • Beer Bistro: Disappointing. Great potential: nice space, good menu, good service, but the food was definitely so la la.
  • Thai Noodle: nice dive Thai food.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Another round of mousse

I'm not sure how the anise-chocolate pairing came to mind, but there it was...

I made the minimal chocolate mousse again but this time I used 30ml of Ricard in the 75ml of liquid.

Very nice pairing.

Sunday: roasted chicken

Roasted chicken using Ruhlmann's technique.

Belgian endive caramelized with butter, brown sugar, and lime juice (recipe from Hesser).

Multi-grain "risotto" drizzled with the chicken pan drippings and topped with green onions that were roasted with the chicken.

Big spitzkohl salad.

Very, very good eating.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Saturday salads

I'm not quite sure how it ended up being a salad day...

Salad one: grated carrots, reduced orange juice (reduced by about a factor of three), olive oil, cumin, piment d'espellette, salt, white pepper.

Salad two: small green lentils cooked with bay leaf and clove, diced and browned bacon, diced carrot, minced red onion, garlic, caramelized leek, chives, chopped parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, white pepper.

Salad three: lettuce with a creamy dressing

We ate this with a nice baguette.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Friday: Steak and roesti

Something like steak and potatoes. :-)

I did my standard roesti approach (floury potatoes this time since that's what we had) and paired that with "charbonnade" cuts of beef that I seasoned and seared.

Together with a big salad we were happy eaters.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Chocolate mousse

After reading this incredibly minimal chocolate mousse recipe there was no question about not trying it.

I used a good dark (70%) chocolate and the result is really amazing. It's almost a better way to taste chocolate than straight-up.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Saturday: tajine

Been a while since we did the Bittman chicken, chickpea, and vanilla tajine... that's too bad because it's good stuff.

To accompany the expected: cous cous

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Monday: braised endive

This was a random one after getting back from a long weekend of snowshoeing.

Half some belgian endive then put them cut-side down in a very hot pan with a bit of oil. Let sear for a couple minutes then add the braising liquid (veal stock, grainy french mustard, tomato paste, honey, black pepper), cover and let simmer until the endive is tender, about 45 minutes.

We ate this as a main course, toppped with grana padano and accompanied by brown rice.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wednesday: stuffed chicken breasts

Hooray for making it up as you go along!

Cut a couple chicken breasts mostly through so that they can be stuffed. Smear the insides with good mustard, then add smoked ham and gruyere. Fasten with toothpicks. Cook in a hot pan so that both sides brown nicely, serve when the cheese starts to flow.

We ate this with rice and raddicchio that I sauteed with leeks, diced carrots, and a bit of wine vinegar at the end.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Nano restaurant review: Ackermannshof Basel

  • Food: good
  • Atmosphere: very nice
  • Service: good

One smiley face. The food was good, but not good enough to explain how hard it is to get a reservation.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Monday: Fondue

With all the cold weather making a fondue was the most natural thing in the world.

Standard approach: 400g cheese mixture from the shop around the corner, 200ml white wine, 1/2Tbs corn starch, one garlic clove, a shot of kirsch, black pepper, and nutmeg.

Served with good farm bread (also from the cheese shop), peppermint tea, and a carrot salad.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sunday: "southeast asian" chicken

It's the BittmanWorld thing again...

Melt some sugar and get it to a good dark caramel. Add lime juice and stir well. Once the fierce bubbling has settled down some, stir in some fish sauce too. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and then let stand over low heat.

Brown some chicken leg quarters well in neutral oil. Pour off the oil, add some dried chilis (I used piri-piri, because that's what was there), toast a minute or two, then add the sauce and a bit of water. Cover and let simmer for about an hour, turning occasionally.

Serve with sticky rice, sprinkled with some chopped cilantro.

To accompany I shredded some savoy cabbage, tossed it with salt and let stand for an hour, then rinsed, squeezed it out well and tossed with lime juice, sesame oil, and chopped cilantro.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Saturday: Kohlrouladen

The head of savoy cabbage in the fridge led both of us to the idea of doing rouladen. I deviated from the usual ground beef preparation since it was the weekend and I felt like playing around a bit.

Brown some pieces of pork stew meat well in olive oil in the pressure cooker. Add chopped onion and garlic along with some diced carrot and a bit of diced celery root. Cook about five minutes longer. Add water to by about 1cm, a bay leaf, and a good pinch of salt, cover, and bring up to pressure. Let cook 15 minutes at pressure, then allow to cool and open the pot. Bring the heat back to high, add some veal stock, and reduce the liquid by about 50%. Strain the solids, reserving the liquid, and shred the pork pieces; add a bit of the liquid if it's not moist. Set aside. Taste the liquid, add a bit (1 tsp or so) of red wine vinegar to brighten it up, and adjust seasoning.

Carefully remove the outer leaves from a head of savoy cabbage and boil them in well-salted water for a couple of minutes to soften them. Transfer to a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. Pick the best looking of the leaves to use for the rouladen and finely chop the rest. 

Combine the chopped cabbage with the pork mixture and season well with salt and pepper. Fill the reserved cabbage leaves with this and tie into neat little bundles. Brown on both sides in a bit of olive oil, then pour in the reserved liquid around the rouladen. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, turn and simmer another 5-10 minutes. Thicken the sauce with a bit of potato-starch/water slurry then serve.

We ate this with some cooked mixed grains (Getreiderisotto) and a green salad.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Friday: Potato-leek soup

A variant on the standard potato-leek soup.

Cook some sliced leek with a pinch of salt in peanut oil until it starts to soften. Add diced carrot and celery root and let cook another 5 minutes or so. Add diced potato and water and let simmer until the potato is soft. Puree. Season with Old Bay, cardamon, curry powder, black pepper, and piment d'espelette.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Thursday: roasted squash soup

A soup that kind of just kept on evolving as I was making it:

Cook sliced leek with a good pinch of salt in peanut oil until it starts to soften. Add diced carrots and let cook until the carrots have softened some and the leeks are starting to color. Add diced potato, roasted butternut squash, bay leaf, herbes de Provence, and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and let cook until the vegetables are all cooked through. Remove the bay leaf and puree. Cut some smoked ham into strips and add that too. Adjust seasonings and serve topped with black pepper.

Lovely with a salad and some good bread.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Sunday: Pork and Beans and Greens

This started off as pork and beans, but somewhere along the way I realized that some greens would go nicely.

Soak soisson beans overnight. Drain and transfer to the slow cooker with water to cover by 1-2cm. Add diced carrot and celery root, sliced leek, bay leaf, and cloves. Cover and turn the heat on the slow cooker to "high". Cut some pork shoulder into 2cm dice. Brown that well and add to the beans. After 2-2.5 hours of cooking use a couple spoonfuls of the liquid to thin a mixture of ketchup, tomato paste, some molasses, and a bit of sriracha. Stir this into the pot and adjust seasoning. Cook however much longer it takes to get the beans cooked through. About half an hour or so before serving, stir in some chopped spitzkohl.

I forgot to soak the beans overnight, so they only had a few hours of soaking in the morning. After 4 hours of cooking they still weren't soft, so I tossed everything in the pressure cooker for 10 minutes; that finished the beans.

This was really nice food.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Saturday: sauteed radicchio

A nice side:
Sweat some diced onion and garlic with a good pinch of salt in olive oil until the onions are nicely translucent. Add diced carrot and cook another five or so minutes until the carrots start to soften. Add coarsely chopped radicchio and some herbes de provence and cover. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until the radicchio softens.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sunday: Borscht

At some point the beets in the fridge prompted the idea of borscht. We had all the ingredients (aside from the beef, dill, and sour cream) to do the recipe in Hesser, and that recipe sounded awfully good. So... that's what I did.

I followed the recipe pretty much verbatim and we ended up with something very, very good.

It takes a long time to make, but wow is this great stuff.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Saturday: winter vegetables and pasta

I got back from a long trip craving vegetables, this is where that led.

Sweat a coarsely chopped leek in olive oil with some minced garlic. Add grated parsnip, carrot, and celery root, along with a good pinch of salt, and let cook 5-7 minutes. Add chopped spitzkohl (a fine white cabbage) and cook another 5 minutes or so. Stir in a splash of white balsamico, a grind of black pepper, and a spoonful or two of pasta cooking water. Stir in drained, cooked pasta (I used orecchietta) and serve topped with grated grana padano.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sunday: enchiladas and refried beans

We both had a craving for Mexican, so that's what I did.

For the sauce: roast, peel, and chop some red peppers. Sweat chopped leek together with garlic and a pinch of salt until it starts to take on some color. Add sliced chiles and cook another few minutes. Add the chopped red peppers, some crushed tomatoes, and enough water to loosen it up a bit. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Puree with a stick blender. Add sweet paprika, oregano, and black pepper and let simmer another few minutes.

For the beans: cook soaked pintos in the pressure cooker with onion, garlic, bay leaf, salt, and water (not too much!) for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer, partially covered, until the beans are soft and the overall water level looks good. In a separate pan, cook chopped onion and garlic until the onion is nicely translucent and taking on some brown. Add the beans and mash with a potato masher. Adjust seasoning and simmer a couple more minutes.

For the enchiladas: season some turkey-breast cutlets well and then search on both sides. Slice into strips. Combine the turkey with diced feta cheese in a tortillas. Roll them and arrange them on a bed of sauce in a baking dish. Top with more sauce and grated cheese. Bake at 180C until the top is brown and bubbly. Serve the beans on the side

goooooood food.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Saturday: roast chicken and sauteed vegetables

One of my rare roasted chickens (last one was in 2010).

I used the method from Ruhlman20 to roast the bird and made a pan sauce after it finished.

To accompany I did a batch of sauteed vegetables: carrot, leek, celery root, potato, garlic, herbs de provence, salt, black pepper, and olive oil.

I elaborated the sauce more than was necessary, but the end result was still quite good.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Thursday: beans and greens

When a nice head of escarole shows up in the biokiste, it's really hard not to just make beans and greens with it...

This time it was a pretty minimal variant: sweat the onions in olive oil with garlic, piri piri chiles, and some diced bacon until nicely transparent. Add the coarsely-chopped escarole, a splash of white wine, and some salt and cook until the escarole is about ready to go. Add canned cannellini beans with their liquid and another splash of wine. Let the beans heat through, adjust seasoning, and then serve drizzled with good olive oil and sprinkled with parsley.

Almost rule_of_five, almost vegetarian, fully good. :-)

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Wednesday: potatoes with quinoa and cheese

Another iBittmanVeg recipe followed incompletely. I should add a "substantial_deviation_from_published_recipe" tag or something. ;-)

Cut some potatoes into wedges and toss them into a pot of water with a thickly sliced onion. Salt and bring to a boil. Add quinoa. Cook for another five minutes, then drain. Add to a baking dish with some olive oil. Salt and pepper and mix well. Bake at 210C for 15 minutes. Stir. Bake another 10 minutes. Stir in some piment d'espelette and more black pepper. Top with grated cheese and bake until the cheese is brown and bubbly.

The potatoes unfortunately didn't get crispy, but the grain had a nice crunch and the whole thing tasted great.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Tuesday: stuck-pot rice and lentils

Derived from a recipe in iBittmanVeg

Cook a cup and half of brown rice together with a half cup of small green lentils in boiling salted water for 15 minutes. Drain. Meanwhile cook a sliced leek in butter with a good pinch of salt over medium-high heat until it starts to take on some color. Add some pine nuts and a pinch of saffron and let cook until the leeks are nicely caramelized. Toss the rice and lentils with salt, a lemon's worth of zest, and some coarsely ground cardamom (about 1/2 tsp). Melt more butter together with some olive oil at the bottom of a heavy pan and stir in a handful of saffron. Layer on half the rice/lentils, the leeks, and then the other half rice/lentils. Add a splash of water, cover with a tight-fitting lid covered with a towel, and cook over medium-high heat until it starts to sizzle. Reduce the heat to low and cook for another 30 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes and then serve.

I was a bit nervous about this being heavy or in the "sawdust and cardboard" school of vegetarian, but I didn't need to worry: the dish ended up being quite good.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Monday: split-pea soup

Some simple comfort food to help recover from the holidays:

Sweat diced onion together with diced carrot and bacon in a bit of neutral oil in the pressure cooker until the onion is glassy (5-10 minutes). Add washed yellow split peas, a good pinch of salt, black pepper, herbs de provence, white wine, and water, put on the lid, and bring up to pressure over high heat. Drop the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the lid, stir well to break up the remaining peas, add a splash of wine, adjust seasonings, and serve with good bread and butter.

To accompany this I did a salad of grated carrots tossed with OJ, olive oil, salt, black pepper, cumin, and ras al hanout.

Monday, January 02, 2012

New technology/cookbooks

Things from the holidays:
  • I picked up a copy of the "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" iPad app. What a nice piece of software. I'm dubbing it "iBittmanVeg".
  • I got a copy of Ruhlman's Twenty as a gift. Unsurprisingly, it's a nice cookbook.

Getting active again

Going to make a conscious effort to start posting again.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

New Years Eve: Szechuan Hot Pot

We did this last year too.

This year's contents: beef filet, pork belly, pork loin, chicken breast, yellow peppers, scallions, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini.

Dipping sauces: ketjap manis and garlic; ketjap manis and ginger; soy sauce, chile oil, and ginger; chile oil.

It's great food and makes for great pictures.

The spread
In progress