Life Is Sweet…

Yoghurt Muesli Cake

I’m back! For this first post after a break, I wanted to post a sweet recipe since at the moment it reflects the summer I’ve had, filled with great friends, amazing moments and exciting news since in October I’ll be starting a master’s degree in Creative Writing at the University of Lancaster! Continue reading

Recently I bought sunglasses that have a yellowish tint and when you look through them, all seems brighter; at the moment, now even when I take them off, all still seems just as bright.

For this recipe, I tried to remain on the Swiss side of the kitchen and so I made this cake, which is inspired by one of our national breakfasts: the bircher muesli. As a starting point I took this easy yoghurt cake recipe from the site Journal des Femmes (in French) and from there I added oats, blueberries and a streusel inspired topping with almonds. Baking is not my strongest point but this recipe was not only easy, but it was also quick to put together and I didn’t end up with a huge mess in my kitchen. All these aspects made the final result even tastier…

 

 

Yoghurt Muesli Cake

Recipe for a 22-24 cm springform cake mould.

Prep time: 15-20 min

Cook time: 35-40 min

 

Ingredients:

In this recipe the pot of yoghurt serves of measurement.

1 yogurt nature

2 jars of sugar

1 sachet of vanilla sugar

3 jars of flour

1/2 pot of oil

3 eggs

1/2 sachet baking powder

1 pinch of salt

1 ½ pot fine oats

250 g blueberries

Butter or oil to grease the cake mould

 

For the topping:

3 tbsp. finely chopped almonds

2 tbsp. flour

5 tbsp. sugar

2 tbsp. oats

3 tbsp. butter

 

Recipe:

Turn on the oven (180°C). Butter a round mould.

2 Pour the yogurt in a bowl and add in the order in mixing well with a wooden spoon: sugars, the eggs one by one, the flour, baking powder, salt, the oil. Finally delicately fold in the oats and the blueberries.

For the topping place all the ingredients in a bowl and massage them with your fingers until the preparation looks like crumbs.

Transfer the batter in the buttered cake mould and evenly sprinkle the topping on the surface.

Bake for 35-40 minutes on the lower part of the over, by then, when you insert the tip of a toothpick it should come out dry. Leave to cool and unmould.

Quinoa Kale and Edamame Salad with an Avocado Dressing

Quinoa Kale and Edamame SaladSummer time and cooking is easy… with the hot weather and the wide range of fresh produce, we don’t want to spend too long over a hot stove so cold and healthy meals are always welcome during the summer months. Continue reading

Whether you’re making a barbecue, a picnic or a usual lunch, this recipe will fill you up with valuable nutrients such as fibres (from kale, avocados and edamame) and proteins (from the quinoa).

Some components of this salad can be made ahead so when the time to assemble it comes, it will only take a moment to put together; for instance you can cook the quinoa and the kale a day ahead. On Sunday I’ll enjoy a day of relax and I plan to make a last healthy meal before my thirty-… birthday and I’ve decided to make this salad again and serve it either with some tofu or a couple of eggs. Afterwards I’ll dive into a one of the books I’m reading, under the sun, looking like a glazed doughnut, smothered in 30spf sun cream… I’ll need the relax as the following day I’ll be in contact with my inner child in an acrobatic park. 🙂

Quinoa Kale and Edamame Salad

 

Quinoa Kale and Edamame Salad with an Avocado Dressing

 

Recipe for 4 as a side 

Prep time: 5 min

Cook time: 15 min

 

Ingredients:

120 g steamed edamame

120 g wilted kale

120 g quinoa

1 spring onion

1 not too large avocado

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. sherry vinegar

Salt and pepper

 

Recipe:

Bring to a boil the quinoa in two times its volume of salted water. Simmer for a about 15 min. or until the grain will have softened. Once done set aside.

Slice the kale into about 1 cm strips and finely slice the spring onion.

Remove the flesh of the avocado, place it in a salad bowl and mash it with a fork. Add the olive oil and the sherry vinegar, season with salt and pepper and mix.

To the bowl add the quinoa, edamame, kale, spring onion and mix.

Aubergine Halloumi Skewers

Aubergine Halloumi Skewers

It’s such a great time of the year when you can live with the door open and enjoy the mild weather from morning to night. Like in many places, in Switzerland, grill parties are as popular with people as the blueberries in my garden are with blackbirds… Continue reading

So in honour of nice days outdoor eating I thought I’d make some vegetarian skewers which can work a main or as a side dish. Few ingredients are needed to make this recipe and not only it looks nice but the combination of Halloumi cheese and aubergine is something I just love. Enjoy!!!

 

Aubergine Halloumi Skewers Aubergine Halloumi Skewers

 

Aubergine Halloumi Skewers

 

Recipe for 8 skewers

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 10 min

 

Ingredients:

1 medium aubergine

250 g Halloumi cheese

1 spring onion

Olive oil

Pepper

(optional: salt)

 

Recipe:

 

Cut the Halloumi cheese into 2.5-3 cm cubes and do the same with the aubergine. Here, if you wish you can season the aubergine with salt. I didn’t do it as personally I find the Halloumi cheese is already salty enough in combination with the eggplant.

Take one skewer and pierce one aubergine cube, then, pierce a cheese cube (be gentle with the cheese as it may easily break). Alternate the two ingredients on the skewers; in the end you should have about 6-8 cubes on each stick. Lightly brush them with olive oil and season with pepper.

Either on a hot barbecue or on a griddle pan (if you’re don’t have any of them at hand, use a normal pan) place the skewers and allow them to colour on all sides by turning them regularly.

Meanwhile slice the spring onion.

Once the skewers are ready place them on a serving plate, drizzle a little olive oil on them and sprinkle the spring onions as a final touch.

 

 

Zucchini and Feta Chickpea Burgers

Zucchini and Feta Chickpea Burgers

Lately I find loads of organic locally grown zucchini and I have basically been consuming them day on and day off. Besides pan roasting them, adding them to a salad or grilling them, I thought for a change to add them to a Mediterranean style burger: with chickpeas and feta cheese. Continue reading

I tried to make this recipe as simple and straightforward as possible so when time is limited, this recipe can come in hand as a healthy summery treat. Since the heat has increased drastically over the past week, I didn’t feel too hungry so I had the burger on its own, but you can accompany this dish with a nice crunchy salad or some oven sweet potato fries.

 

Zucchini and Feta Chickpea Burgers

Zucchini and Feta Chickpea Burgers

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 8 min

 

Ingredients:

1 can chickpeas

1 zucchini (not too large)

1 red onion

1-2 garlic cloves (depending on the size)

100g feta cheese

2 tbsp. chopped parsley

2 heaped tbsp. breadcrumbs

smoked paprika

2 tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper

 

Recipe:

Grate the zucchini and the onion in a bowl. Season them with salt, mix and place them in a clean tea towel, in a sieve over a bowl and set them aside to let moisture drip off.

Meanwhile prepare the rest of the recipe by mashing the chickpeas in a bowl (alternatively use s food processor), then crumble the feta and add the breadcrumbs. Pass the garlic though a crusher and add that to the bowl too.

Back to the zucchini and onion, take the tea towel and squeeze out as much moisture as possible before adding them to the rest of the ingredients.

Mix all the ingredients together and add salt pepper and smoked paprika to taste. Blend all the ingredients together and form four patties.

On a medium fire heat the olive oil and add the patties to brown on both sides.

Serve in a bun with the garnish of your choice (salad, tomato, avocado, mayo, chilli sauce, ketchup,…)

Crispy Polenta Gnocchi

Crispy Polenta Gnocchi

I know I’ve already said it but each time I eat something with polenta, I recall my father saying how his childhood was all about getting kicked in the backside and eating polenta. Continue reading

In the past polenta a very important source of food in honour of this dish I wanted to make something fun for this post so after a little search, I adapted the recipe I found on citronetvanille and adapted it to what I had in mind: crispy polenta gnocchi.

What I really liked about making this recipe is that I found it to be more straight forward, less messy than the traditional potato gnocchi. As with any gnocchi recipe you can accompany this dish with just about any sauce you like. The reason I made a Gorgonzola sauce is because in Ticino, fi you don’t serve polenta with meat, you often eat it with Gorgonzola. It’s up to you to see what you want to serve it with, but I guarantee you that blue cheese is a great combination.

 

 

 

Crispy Polenta Gnocchi

 

Recipe for 2

Prep time: 25 min

Cook time: 30 min

 

Ingredients

For the polenta gnocchi:

80 g quick cooking polenta + extra to coat the gnocchi

Milk

90 g flour + extra to flour surface

1 egg

2-3 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Slat and pepper

Olive oil

1 knob butter

 

For the sauce:

100 g Gorgonzola

0.7 dl milk

1 small tsp. corn-starch

pepper

 

Recipe:

Bring to a boil the equivalent of 3 ½ times the amount of polenta in a mix of water and milk. Season with salt. Reduce fire to low and stream in the polenta and instead of stirring fold the mass over itself until it will have thickened and it comes away from the sides of the pan (5-7 min). Remove the pan from the heat, add the cheese and fold the mass to combine it. Transfer the polenta to a bowl and place it in the fridge until it will have set and chilled (about 1 hour).

Take the chilled polenta and scrape it with a fork to crumble it. Add the flour and some salt and mix the ingredients together. Now add the egg and mix until the mass looks even. Dust with flour your working surface, move the gnocchi mass onto the surface and divide into 2-3 parts. Take each part and roll it into about 3 cm thick strips. Take a fork and start making the gnocchi by sectioning them every 2 cm.

Bring a large pan filled with salted water to a boil and add the gnocchi. Once they come to the surface, it means they are cooked so remove them with a slotted spoon and set them aside on a cutting board or a bowl with a wide bottom. Dust them with the uncooked polenta until evenly coated.

For the sauce: Pour a fraction of the milk into a cup, add the corn-starch and mix until all lumps will have disappeared. Pour the milk/corn-starch with the milk and the Gorgonzola into a pan and place it over a low heat. Cook the ingredients for 8-10 min, once the ingredients are combined and the sauce has thickened set it aside and reheat it just before serving.

In a non-stick pan, heat 1-1.5 tbsp. olive oil on a medium-high fire. Add the gnocchi and brown them on all sides, occasionally stirring. Once ready, serve them with the Gorgonzola sauce.

Crispy Almond Crusted Asparagus

Crispy Almond Crusted Asparagus

Asparagus season is drawing to an end, but before saying, “See you next year” I wanted to make a last recipe for this spring with these green spears. Continue reading

This simple recipe is something versatile since you can serve it on its own as an appetiser or you can serve it as a side dish or on a nice salad, maybe with some cheese or salmon. I wasn’t too sure about the how much to heat the oven so here, I found a recipe for oven roasted asparagus that worked perfectly. For the breading, along with the flour and egg I made a mix of dry roasted ground asparagus and polenta flour, which gave an extra crisp to the texture.

Crispy Almond Crusted Asparagus

 

Crispy Almond Crusted Asparagus

 

Recipe for 3-4

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 20-25 min

 

Ingredients:

320-340 g asparagus washed woody part removed.

50 g ground almonds

1 large egg beaten

3 generous tbsp. fine grain polenta

2 tbsp. flour

Salt and pepper

 

Recipe:

Pre-heat oven at 220°C.

In a non-stick pan place the ground almonds and dry toast them on a medium fire, stir regularly. Once the almonds will have browned, place them in a dish and set them aside to cool.

Take three shallow dishes and in the first place the flour, in the second place the egg and in the last combine the polenta with the ground almonds and some salt and pepper.

Take an asparagus, dust it with the flour, and then dip it in the egg, making sure there are no dry spots left. Finally evenly coat it with the polenta and almond mix and place the asparagus on a baking tray lined with oven paper. Repeat the process up to the last asparagus.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus. Serve as a side dish, as an appetizer, on a salad….

 

Aubergine Quinoa Casserole

Aubergine Quinoa Casserole

Spring is blooming and the Ticino region looks amazing at the moment. Yesterday I had the luck to attend an aperitif on the small Islands of Brissago on the Lago Maggiore. Continue reading

Last time I was there was towards the end of the nineties. This place is simply beautiful and the feeling of being on an islands in the middle of the lake is so charming. On the main island there’s a large house that was rebuilt around nineteen hundred. In addition there’s a botanic garden, which complements the beauty of this patch of land in the middle of the lake. Here are a couple of pictures…

Isole di BrissagoIsole di Brissago

Lately I’ve been feeling the influence of the warmer months so I bought some aubergines and made this casserole for my mother and I. Unfortunately I cannot serve it to my husband, he is intolerant to eggplant and has to stay away from tomatoes as much as possible. This casserole is easy to make and if you want to make it ahead, prepare the quinoa with the tomato sauce, bake the aubergines and before the final baking process, simply assemble everything.

 

Aubergine Quinoa Casserole

 

Recipe for 2-3

Prep time: 10-15 min

Cook time: 30-35 min.

 

Ingredients:

100g quinoa

1 small can chopped tomatoes

1 small onion

1 garlic clove

Chilli flakes

1.5-2 dl water

A pinch of sugar

1 aubergine (not too large)

2 tsp. olive oil + extra to brush the aubergine slices

75 g grated mozzarella

6-8 basil leaves

Salt and pepper

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 190°C.

Chop the onion and the garlic.

Add 1 tbsp. olive oil to a pan and add the onion and garlic to soften for 4-5 min. I used my cast iron pan but you can make this dish with any other ovenproof pan. Should you not have one, you any other pan then transfer the ingredients to a baking dish before placing it in the oven.

Once the onion and garlic are soft, add the quinoa and roast it for a couple of minutes, stirring regularly. Then add the tomato sauce and the water. Add the pinch of sugar and season with salt, pepper and chilli flakes to taste. Once it’s boiling let the quinoa simmer until the quinoa is cooked through, about 20-25 min. Should the water evaporate, add one more splash.

Meanwhile cut the aubergine lengthways into small 1 cm thick slices. Brush them with olive oil on both sides and season them with salt and pepper. Place the slices on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake on the upper side of the oven for about 20 min. Flip them over after about 10 min.

Once the quinoa is cooked, if you have an ovenproof pan continue using that one, otherwise transfer the whole to a baking dish. On top place the aubergine slices and sprinkle the grated mozzarella on top. Bake in the middle of the oven for 8-10 minutes. Before serving scatter around the basil leaves and serve.

Wild Garlic Pesto Potatoes

Wild Garlic Pesto Potatoes 7.1I was telling my mother today how much I love spring and its produce, the only thing is that the period goes by very fast and I don’t even have the time to get bored with foods like fresh asparagus, artichokes, rhubarb or wild garlic. Continue reading

This time I really was looking forward to making something with wild garlic; so I made a simple recipe with roasted potatoes and added a homemade wild garlic pesto with walnuts. The plus in this recipe is that the leftover pesto can be used later in many other dishes. The one I made yesterday I used it today on a tomato mozzarella salad. The traditional pesto should be made using a pestle and mortar but to speed up the process I went with my eighties blender (the modern one I owned took its last whizz on an experimental recipe some time ago). Anyway, take advantage of spring and its staple fruits (and veggies)!

 

 

Wild Garlic Pesto Potatoes

 

Recipe for 4-6

Prep time: 15 min (most of the prep time will take place while the potatoes are roasting)

Cook time: 50 min

Ingredients:

For the potatoes:

600g new potatoes

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

 

For the wild garlic pesto:

40 g wild garlic (rinsed and dried)

2 tbsp. walnuts (I quickly dry roasted them)

5 tbsp. grated Parmesan

Olive oil

optional: salt

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 200°C/180°C fan/gas.

Cut the potatoes in half and cook them in boiling water for 8-9 min then drain them.

Coat a baking tin with olive oil and add the potatoes. Pour 1 tbsp. olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 20 min. then turn them around. Bake for another 15-20 min, until golden brown and soft inside.

While the potatoes are baking prepare the pesto. Roughly chop the wild garlic and place it in a blender with a splash of olive oil and optionally some salt and process. Add the walnuts and process again. Now add the Parmesan and more olive oil. Blend until smooth and add more olive oil until it has the desired thickness. Transfer to a jar as there will be extra left for other dishes you’re making (pasta, chicken, caprese salad…)

Once the potatoes are done add 1.5-2 tsp. of the pesto, toss and serve.

 

Asparagus Lemon Pasta Bake

Asparagus Lemon Pasta BakeIn a hurried week I really wanted to post this recipe, which I really enjoyed. The lemon gives this pasta bake has a light and refreshing taste and it’s asparagus season so I want to take advantage of it! Continue reading

As an inspiration for this recipe I took smittenkitchen’s mushroom Marsala pasta bake, a recipe I’ve been contemplating for some time and finally decided to adapt it to the spring season. I’m going to have to keep it short because I still have to finish packing for a special weekend where I get to spend time with a friend… but before he arrives in Zurich, I want/need to go shopping.

Have a nice weekend everyone!

Asparagus Lemon Pasta Bake

Asparagus Lemon Pasta Bake

 

Asparagus Pasta Bake

Recipe for 4-6

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 50-60 min

 

Ingredients:

280g short pasta (I used penne)

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 small-medium onion

0.8 dl white wine

45g butter

30 g flour (or 2 tbsp.)

3.5 dl vegetable stock

80g Parmesan cheese

The juice and zest of 1 small organic lemon

0.9 dl cream

400g asparagus (woody part removed)

 

Recipe:

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water but make sure it’s al dente. Drain it 1-2 minutes before doneness and set it aside.

Slice the asparagus at an angle into 0.5 cm pieces (if using thin asparaguses, cut them into 1-1.5 cm pieces. Chop the onion.

Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil on a medium-high heat and add the asparaguses to brown tossing occasionally. Once done set them aside with the pasta.

Reduce the fire to medium-low and add the second tbsp. of olive oil along with the chopped onion. Cook until the onion has softened (4-5 min). Pour in the white wine, lemon juice and lemon zest and cook until the liquid has almost evaporated, don’t stop stirring. Now add the butter and once it has melted, add the flour and continue stirring until it has been combined with the rest of the ingredients. Start adding the stock one splash at the time. Make sure that between splashes, the liquid is well combined. Do so until the stock is finished then let it cook for a couple of minutes to let the sauce thicken. Add the cream, stir and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the fire and add ¾ of the grated cheese along with the pasta and the asparaguses. Mix everything together. If you’re using an ovenproof pan, you can bake the dish directly in there. If your pan is not oven proof transfer it to a baking dish. Sprinkle the pasta with the remaining grated Parmesan and bake for 25-30 min in a pre-heated oven at 200°C.

Tricoloured Rice

Tricoloured RiceI’m back from a really enjoyable week in Spain. After so many years it was great to spend a few days with my mother. We had errands to run but we surely didn’t skip on the laughs, tapas, wine, sun and when travelling a Bloody Mary or two never hurt. Feeling jolly, I decided to post a colourful recipe that reflects the week we had. As a base for this recipe I took the avocado cilantro lime rice from closetcooking. I just love the way the mashed avocado blends in the rice. From now on, each time I’ll pair avocado and rice, I’ll do it this way.

Tricoloured Rice

 

 

Tricoloured Rice

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 10-15 min

Cook time: 25-30 min

 

Ingredients:

300 g cherry tomatoes

240 g rice (I used quick cooking whole rice)

2 small avocadoes

4 generous tbsp. chopped coriander leaves

150 g mozzarella

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

Sherry vinegar

 

Recipe:

Preheat oven at 160°C.

Quarter the cherry tomatoes and place them in a baking dish cut side up. Drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper on them. Bake in the oven for 25-30 min.

Meanwhile cook the rice according to package instructions.

Remove the flesh of the avocadoes, place them in a bowl and mash them with a fork. Season with salt and pepper to taste, add to the rice and mix.

Cut the mozzarella into 1 cm cubes and add it to the rice with the tomatoes and coriander. Blend all the ingredients together, correct taste with salt pepper and sherry vinegar to your liking. Serve warm or cold.