Potato Galette

Potato Galette I’m always looking for side dishes I like and this recipe is one I’ll certainly be doing again. Besides liking the taste and its simplicity, I also like the way it looks. I found this recipe in one of my old Betty Bossi books. In the beginning I wasn’t sure about how to place the potatoes in the pan but it ended up being quite simple. I had this dish for lunch with my mother and we ate it with some simple roasted tomatoes, but this is just one of the many alternatives you could chose to serve it with: many kinds of meat, veggies, salad or even some melted cheese…

Potato Galette

Potato Galette

 

Recipe for 3-4 as a side dish

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 25 min

 

Ingredients:

450g waxy potatoes

1.5 tbsp. butter

¼ tsp. salt

Pepper

2-3 tsp. fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage or parsley…it’s up to you)

 

Recipe:

Thinly pass the potatoes through a slicer (electric or manual), place them in a bowl and season with the salt and pepper.

In a pan melt 1 tbsp. butter and coat the whole bottom with it. Remove from heat. Start adding the potatoes, they should widely overlap and end up making two layers in total. Personally I began from the centre and worked my way outwards making a spiral like shape.

Cover the potatoes and replace on the fire in a low heat to stew for 15 min. Remove the lid and increase the heat to medium high to colour the potatoes. After about 5 min turn the galette with the help of a lid or a plate and slide back into the pan. Add the rest of the butter around the potatoes, sprinkle the herbs on top and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve.

Vully Cake

Vully CakeA few months ago when I went to Lausanne with my mother we met up with her cousins. While we sipped a delicious wine in a pace overlooking the Leman lake I asked them about recipes that are typical from canton Vaud. Of course the first dish that came to mind to everyone is the “Papet Vaudois avec la Saucisse aux Choux” (slow cooked potatoes and leeks served with a cabbage sausage) which is the staple recipe of the canton. I wanted to learn about other dishes and that’s where this recipe was mentioned. I kept the idea in a corner of my head because I knew I would come back to it and in fact, a couple weeks ago I found this recipe and the following day, armed with the right ingredients I got down to work. Frankly I absolutely loved the result because personally I’m not a fan of oversweet food, when I have the feeling the sugar stays in my mouth, I only feel like taking one bite and leave the rest. I find that this cake can even work well for breakfast besides as a sweet treat, dessert or snack. By the way, this sweet version is the most common (sometimes also called the “Salée Sucrée” which literally means the “Salty Sugary”) but there is also the salty one where you add double cream (1.5 tbsp.), bacon (250g) and cumin (60g).

Vully Cake

Vully Cake

 

Vully Cake

 

Recipe for 2×30 cm diameter cake tins

Prep time: 20 min + resting time

Cook time: 10-12 min

 

Ingredients:

500 g flour

½ tsp salt

3.5 dl lukewarm milk

20g fresh yeast

80g melted butter (original recipe calls for 40g butter and 40g lard)

4 tbsp. double cream

4 tbsp. sugar

 

Recipe:

In a bowl sift the flour and add the salt. Mix them and make a well in the centre.

Dilute the yeast in 3 dl lukewarm milk and add it to the centre of the flour well along with the melted butter. Gently knead the dough for about 10 min until the preparation is soft and smooth (if the dough is too hard add the last 0.5 dl of milk).

Cover the dough and leave to rise for 45-50 minutes.

Divide the dough into two equal parts and smooth them out in the cake tins with your hands, cover and leave to rise for another 20 min.

Heat oven at around 270°C.

To make the borders pinch the edges while slightly turning your wrist. Prick the dough with a fork several times. Add 2 tbsp. double cream on each cake and spread it out evenly and as a final touch sprinkle the sugar on top. Bake in the oven for 10-12 min.

 

 

Stuffed Aubergine Pasta Bake

Stuffed Aubergine Pasta Bake Pasta bake is something I can’t resist. Continue reading

I have been making them for over ten years and whether it’s for a simple meal or for a dinner between friends it always has its success. I made this pasta bake thinking about my mother who, up to a couple of months ago, never dared to give it a try. Since I’m writing this blog, as I already wrote it, she has been facing some of her fears in the kitchen such as risotto, croquettes and now the pasta bake. I told her just to give it a try and that it was easy; the following day she phoned me and told me how much her and her boyfriend enjoyed it (when he takes a second refill it means he likes it). For this recipe I didn’t even look up a recipe, I just went with what I had at home and thought it would be nice to have the dish already portioned. Actually I also gladly noticed that it makes the washing up quicker… which is always on the plus side.                             I wish you all a great weekend, I’ll be off to beautiful Crans Montana with my boyfriend for the weekend. For two days I’ll be setting the healthy life style on the side since we’ll surely party and will be eating rosti, Argentinian meat, dried meat and if it’s chilly why not a cheese fondue!

 

Stuffed Aubergine Pasta Bake

 

Recipe for 2 as a main meal or for 4 as a first course

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 45 min

 

Ingredients:

160 g short pasta such as elbow macaroni, orecchiette, pennette…

2 Aubergines

Olive oil

4-5 thyme sprigs

2 garlic cloves

1 egg

120 g cherry tomatoes quartered (roughly 8 pieces)

60 g grated cheese

¼ – ½ tsp. dried chillies

Salt and pepper

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 200°C.

Cook the pasta according to package instructions and once done, add a little olive oil and leave it to cool.

Meanwhile cut the aubergines in half lengthways and incise them deeply (without piercing the skin) making diagonal lines about 2-3 cm between cuts. Brush the cut side with olive oil.

Quarter the garlic cloves and push two pieces in the cut flesh for each aubergine half, do the same with the thyme sprigs. Season the aubergines with salt and cook in the oven for 30 min or until the flesh has softened. Once the aubergines are out of the oven, remove the thyme sprigs and set the garlic aside. With the help of a spoon scoop out the flesh, just be careful not to break the skin, as you will soon need it.

Chop the aubergine flesh and the garlic and let them to cool for 5 min before adding them to the pasta along with the egg, the cherry tomatoes, ¾ of the grated cheese, dried chillies, salt and pepper to taste. Mix all together and evenly spoon the preparation in the aubergine skins. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese on top. Replace them in the oven and cook for 15-18 min.

Zucchini and Quinoa Salad

Zucchini and Quinoa SaladI absolutely adore zucchini, don’t you? Continue reading

Besides loving their taste, especially when they’re grilled, health wise they have their good arguments and they are very low on calories. I know my calories because when I was twelve I became anorexic and in that process I learned about all the calories in basically all foods and among my favourites were zucchini, salad, cucumbers, tomatoes… They say that the mind retains what it considers important and these food facts have stuck to me more than the grammar rules that apply to the Italian language. In case anyone has questions about anorexia I would be glad to answer them, of course in the margins of my personal experience and knowledge. But today I’m here to talk about zucchini and this salad which is a healthy meal and my mother will agree with me since we enjoyed it together yesterday over a sunny lunch (an almost rare event this summer). The idea to cut the zucchini this way, I found it as I was going through the Betty Bossi site (in French or German) and, I thought it would look and taste nice in a salad (chunky vegetables have a texture I really like). The recipe I saw on the site served it with tomatoes but as I wanted to make this a main dish I replaced them with quinoa, onions, goat cheese and hazelnuts.

Zucchini and Quinoa Salad

Zucchini and Quinoa Salad

 

Recipe for 4 as a main meal or 8 as a starter

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 12-20 min

 

Ingredients:

4 small to medium zucchini

160 g quinoa

4 tbsp. olive oil + more to brush the zucchini

2 tbsp. hazelnut oil

2 tbsp. cider vinegar

salt and pepper

2 tbsp. chopped parsley

1 small red onion

100 g fresh goat cheese

1-handful hazelnuts (preferably dry roasted)

 

Recipe

After washing and drying the zucchini, cut them in half lengthwise and then, always lengthwise, cut each half into three equal parts. Brush the zucchini with olive oil. Heat a griddle pan (if you don’t have one use a normal one instead) and add the zucchini slices to colour on all sides on a medium fire. I did it in more batches and once a few pieces were ready, I seasoned with salt and set them aside.

Meanwhile cook the quinoa in two times its volume in water with a little salt for about 10 min. Should there be any, remove excess water.

For the dressing mix together the 4tbsp. olive oil, 2 tbsp. hazelnut oil, the 2 tbsp. cider vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add half of the dressing to the cooked quinoa along with the chopped parsley. Finely chop the onion and add it to the quinoa too.

Roughly chop the hazelnuts.

Place six zucchini strips on each plate, on top add the quinoa, now crumble the goat cheese before adding the hazelnuts. To finish, drizzle the remaining dressing on each dish.

Mini Pistachio Pavlovas with Double Cream and Blackberries

Mini Blackberry and Pistachio PavlovaMeringues make me merry. I just love their texture and taste and here in Switzerland, in the Gruyère region it’s custom to eat them with double cream and the pairing is heavenly. Continue reading

Meringues remind me of soft white clouds, not like the grey ones we have been having above our heads during this whole summer. I made these pavlovas the day before yesterday and when I began making them the rain was pouring down and I actually discovered that it’s harder to make consistent meringues when the air contains 100% humidity… besides being a truly annoying weather. I have had to whisk my eggs twice because the fist time the preparation was way too runny and it didn’t hold the shape. The second time I made them the result was better and finally they held in shape. The good thing is that my boyfriend is also a huge fan of meringues so I served them after dinner to soften the confession that I didn’t wait for him to watch the fourth season of Game of Thrones ;)

Mini Blackberry and Pistachio Pavlova 1

 

Mini Pistachio Pavlovas with Double Cream and Blackberries

 

Makes 6 pieces

Prep time : 20 min

Cook time : 1 h

 

Ingredients :

3 egg whites

150 g sugar

150 double cream

30-35 g finely chopped pistachios

250-300 g blackberries

 

Recipe :

Heat oven at 110°C.

Whisk the egg whites to a peak, from here start adding the sugar one tbsp. at the time and mixing for 3-4 seconds between each addition. Once the preparation is glossy but still stiff, add 20 g of the pistachios and fold in gently. Line a baking tray with oven paper and drop six round shaped meringues and shape them so that they are a little raised at the borders. Cook in the oven for 1 hour.

Remove the meringues from the oven and leave them to cool.

Take the mini pavlovas and evenly spoon in the double cream, on top place the blackberries and finally sprinkle the rest of the pistachios on top.

 

Bell Pepper Cake

Bell Pepper Cake I was going through an old cookbook on regional cuisine (L’Arte Culinaria nel Ticino, from 1979) last Friday and I despite I like books with pictures, I like more and more what’s in it. I saw this super simple tomato cake recipe I wanted to try but instead of tomatoes I decided to use bell peppers and onions; they are less watery and I don’t have to use them whole, as written in the directions. Over here it’s the time of the film festival of Locarno and it’s an event I like because the region is filled with different nationalities from all over the world. You can see films the whole day long and in the evening it’s nice to go out because a lot of alternative places that open during this period. There are halls where you can watch movies but the most impressive place is under the stars, in the piazza Grande, where the whole square becomes a cinema. It’s so beautiful to see and since I didn’t take any pictures yet here is the link to the film festival: pardolive.ch. During the evening the weather got progressively worse so at one in the morning I decided to go home and leave my boyfriend and friends to face the rain. As I opened the door, I was so hungry that I didn’t even bother getting changed before having another bite of this cake. Wow, it helped my belly and made my sleep easier… although that might have been the wine ;)

Bell Pepper Cake Bell Pepper Cake Bell Pepper Cake

 

Bell Pepper Cake

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 1h

 

Ingredients

1 kg red and/or yellow bell peppers

2 onions

2-3 tbsp. olive oil

250 g flour

2,5 dl milk or cream

2 eggs

Butter

1 tbsp. chopped basil

1 tbsp. chopped parsley

Salt and pepper

 

Recipe

Heat oven at 240°C.

Wash the bell peppers, core, deseed and cut them into chunks of about 3 cm. Quarter the onions lengthwise, halve them and divide the layers. Grease a baking tin and add the vegetables with 2 tbsp. olive oil, salt, pepper and toss. Cook in the oven for 30-35 min (until the pepper are lightly charred); toss a couple of times. Once done remove form the oven and leave to slightly cool. In case you feel the bottom is a little dry, add another tbsp. olive oil and toss.

Reduce oven heat to 170°C (to speed the process leave the oven door slightly open).

Meanwhile prepare the batter by mixing the flour and milk together in a bowl. In another bowl beat the two eggs and combine them to the flour and milk. Add the herbs, salt and mix. Pour the mixture into the baking tin and mix to make the preparation more even.

Place in the oven on the top part and after 10 min add some butter on top and continue the cooking process for another 20 min or until the top is nicely browned. Once ready leave 5 min. to cool before serving.

Tip: if you want you can add some cheese to the batter or use it instead of the butter.

 

Salad with Double Cheese Polenta Croutons

Salad with Double Cheese Polenta Croutons I admit that this salad is a good excuse for the polenta croutons. A few months ago I was in my tiny kitchen and gave the polenta croutons, I was not too happy with the result but I stored the idea. A few days ago I reconsidered the idea, put it into practice and this time I liked the result much better, especially with a little cheese…

This dish went perfectly well with the sunny weather we’ve finally had these past few days. Yes, this summer’s vitamin D development has not been intense, in the whole of Switzerland apparently. With this energy is up high and since my ankle hasn’t really healed yet, instead of going for my usual run it’s great to go for a stroll near the river, under the trees. When I am there I always start thinking about how in the past people seeing such sceneries would imagine and make up fairy-tales. If you want to see what I mean here is the link to the Valle Maggia site, meawhile this are a couple of pictures I took about one month ago during one of my walks.

Maggia River Maggia River

 

Salad with Double Cheese Polenta Croutons

 

Salad with Double Cheese Polenta Croutons

 

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 10 min (+cooling time)

Cook time: 20 min

 

Ingredients

100 g fine polenta

5 dl stock

50 g Gruyere cheese

40 g Sbrinz cheese

140 g cherry tomatoes

80 g arugula

3-4 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper

 

Recipe

Cook the polenta with the stock according to package instructions, once done add the Gruyère and mix until it has melted. Leave the polenta to cool. I used a small pan and left the polenta solidify in there but if you wish you can set it out on a board; the result is that your crostini will probably be smaller and/or flatter.

Cut the polenta into 2 cm cubes. Heat 1-2 tbsp olive oil on a medium fire and add the polenta cubes to brown on all sides for around 12-14 min.

Meanwhile slice the spring onion and prepare the dressing with 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp. olive oil, salt and pepper. Put the salad together with the cherry tomatoes, arugula spring onion and dressing; toss.

Once the polenta cubes have coloured remove the pan from the fire, sprinkle the grated Sbrinz on top and quickly toss.

Serve the salad and on top place the polenta croutons.

“Älpler” Risotto

“Älpler” RisottoIn Switzerland there is a recipe called “älplermagronen” which translates as the “alpine herdsman macaroni”. Continue reading

This recipe contains pasta (which is sometimes directly cooked in milk) potatoes, cheese and it’s served with onions on top. It’s a delicious recipe but I wanted to do something different, so I made a risotto out of it. To begin with I looked up for a potato risotto recipe I liked which can be found here (in Italian) and from there I made my own adaptations. For the caramelised onions I followed this recipe that I find to be relatively quick and I like the taste of the end result.

Tomorrow is my weekly lunch with my mother who has been proclaimed by her boyfriend as the “risotto queen” and I thought it would be interesting to know what she thinks of my dish. Like traditions, this weekly meeting is something I find comforting: it’s there, it’s regular and we both enjoy it since we can speak our mind more freely than with anyone else. The subjects are often the same but who cares, it’s our moment. Maybe I’ll finally tell her about the old vase I broke before I left for my holiday. I guess the good thing about having the people close to you not reading your blog is that it can be liberating… my mother doesn’t use the internet and my boyfriend doesn’t read it because English is too much of an effort for him.

“Älpler” Risotto “Älpler” Risotto “Älpler” Risotto

 

“Älpler” Risotto

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 35-40 min

 

Ingredients

1 onion

280 g potatoes

280 g rice

100 g alpine cheese (alternatively use Gruyere or Appenzeller cheese)

1.4 l stock (it has to be hot)

1 dl white wine

Pepper

4 tbsp olive oil

2 knobs of butter

 

For the caramelized onions

2 red onions

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. sugar

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

salt

 

Recipe

For the caramelised onions start by thinly slicing them. Place them in a pan and cook them for 25 min on a low heat, stir occasionally. Now add the sugar and the balsamic vinegar and further cook for another 5-10 min.

While the onions are on the fire thinly chop the onion , peel the potatoes and dice them into 1 cm cubes and cut the cheese into small pieces.

Add 2 tbsp. olive oil to a pan with high sides, add the onion and cook until translucent with a couple tbsp. stock on a medium fire.

Add the potatoes and further cook for another couple of minutes.

Pour in the wine and after a short moment add 1-1.5 ladles of stock, cover and cook for 10-12 minutes, stir occasionally. Once the time has passed remove the lid, raise the heat and let the liquid evaporate. Towards the end stir constantly as the potatoes tend to stick to the bottom.

Add another couple of tbsp. of oil and then stir in the rice and toast it well for about one min on a medium fire.

Add 1/3 of the stock and set the timer according to package instructions (usually it’s 15-18 min). Stir regularly and add more stock as it’s being absorbed. Do not let it become too dry as it might spoil the end result.

One min before the risotto is ready add the cheese and the butter, once they have melted serve with the caramelised onions on top.

 

Friar’s Spaghetti

Friar's Spaghetti When I read about recipes I am always interested in knowing where the name or history of such or such recipe comes from. Continue reading

The names and the ingredients that make up the traditional dishes of my canton Ticino, many times come from two strands of our past society: the first are the peasants and second are the friars/monks.

As I read today’s recipe I began wandering through this book and found 6 recipes that contain the word peasant or shepherd (Peasant’s Soup, Peasant’s Polenta, Peasant’s Rabbit…) and almost as many containing the word friar/monk (Friar’s Spaghetti, Friar’s Pie or the liquor called Nocino which is allegedly attributed to the monks’ savoir faire, this drink is also very common in Northern Italy). These two categories of our past society reflect a humble lifestyle, in fact the recipes are usually simple and the ingredients used are the most common ones (pasta, polenta, tomatoes, spinach, cheese, herbs, garlic…)

I’m a true history fan and when it comes to my places of origin (canton Ticino and canton Vaud) I can’t seem to get enough. That said I am enthusiastic to say that I’m gently going back to writing the novel I began a couple of years ago. The story I have in mind takes in consideration the historical facts about Ticino and my Maggia Valley so as I get a grip on new curiosities I want to share them with you. Today as we’re on the religious subject, I remember reading that during the witch burning times, which were regulated and controlled by the catholic Church, in Ticino people were such fanatics about burning people (mostly women) at the stake that even the authorities in Milan at a certain point in time recommended to calm down the fires. And if I remember well the name of the last woman sentenced to be burned at the stake in Ticino was Barbara Fontana in about 1704.

Today’s recipe is the Friar’s Spaghetti, in fact the ingredients used for the pasta are incredibly simple but nonetheless delicious: tomatoes, chillies, breadcrumbs, garlic and olive oil. My twist to this recipe is that instead of using canned tomatoes I used fresh cherry tomatoes and I added the chives, besides these the procedure is basically the same.

Friar's Spaghetti Friar's Spaghetti Friar's Spaghetti

 

Friar’s Spaghetti

 

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 5 min

Cook time: 13-15 min

 

Ingredients

400 g spaghetti (I used wholemeal ones)

400 g cherry tomatoes

2 heaped tbsp. breadcrumbs

2 garlic cloves

¼ tsp. dried chillies (if you like it more spicy just increase the amount)

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp. chopped chives

 

Recipe

 

Halve the cherry tomatoes and finely chop the garlic.

Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a pan and add the breadcrumbs, garlic and chillies. Cook for 3-4 minutes on a low-medium fire, until the bread becomes crisp. Add a couple tbsp.. olive oil and the cherry tomatoes and leave them to cook until they have coloured and are starting to break down. Season with salt and pepper according to taste.

Cook the pasta al dente according to package instructions. Once you have removed the water, add them to the sauce. Mix well and sprinkle with the chopped chives before serving.

 

Cheese Stuffed Bread Rolls

Cheese Stuffed Bread Rolls 2Here is my first recipe since my return from my trip in Spain. Continue reading

It was the first time I really travelled through that country and I enjoyed it so much. We first go to Barcelona and I loved the general vibe of the place with its museums and shops. As always, when I travel with my boyfriend, we walk a lot but this time I sprained my ankle the day before leaving so walking was a little harder than usual but I was determined not to show my pain. The biggest frustration in this merit was that for two weeks I couldn’t even consider the idea of wearing high heels and I had three pairs in my suitcase (plus one I bought over there). While we were in Barcelona we went to Sitges for a day to visit a former roommate of mine from when I was in boarding school as a teenager. I wanted to mention this because it was four years since we saw each other last time and we always have a great time together. Besides the great laughs I also met her adorable son and daughter, which were not there yet last time we met and yes, I felt a little like I was their aunt. From Barcelona we flew to Seville for a couple of days, we walked around and saw the inquisition museum (where the entrance was free but I would rather have paid and gotten something more out of the experience). There we also celebrated my birthday on another rooftop bar right in front of the cathedral where the view was just breath taking. The following day we moved to Cordoba just for one night and in the short time we were there we realized one day was a little short so, we’ll get back there one day or another. Our last two stops were in Granada, where we visited the Alhambra and went shopping a little more for my joy but not so much my boyfriend’s. Finally we reached a place near Marbella where we relaxed for a few days in my mother’s holiday home: sun, drinks and pool. Once we got to our final stage we realized we were really a little tired and we enjoyed the sun and water. I also enjoyed the kitchen because halfway though the holiday I began to miss my cooking sessions. Here are a few pictures from our vacation.

This was our holiday and now, back to today’s recipe I thought of making something easy, friendly and a little different. I had the idea for this recipe trotting in my head for a while so I went for it and it turned out well. For the dough I used this quick pizza dough recipe; the only change I made to it is that I reduced the amount of sugar. Easy and quickly ready this recipe works well as an appetizer or why not served with a salad?

 

 

Cheese Stuffed Bread Rolls

Recipe for 8 pieces

Prep time: 20 min (+15 min rest)

Cook time: 15 min

 

Ingredients

250 g flour (if you can use the “00” type)

1 bag (7gr) dry instant yeast

1 tsp sugar

¼ tsp salt + more to sprinkle on top of the bread rolls

1.5 dl lukewarm water (32-36°C)

2 tbsp finely chopped basil

8 pieces hard goat’s cheese cut into 2 cm cubes – about 100 g

Olive oil to brush the bread rolls

 

Recipe

In a bowl combine half of the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Add the water and start kneading while gradually adding the rest of the flour. Add the chopped basil and knead further to uniformly blend the green into the dough. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for 15 min.

Heat oven at 190°C.

Divide the dough into 8 parts. Take one part, lightly flatten it and place a cube of cheese in the middle. Close the dough around the cheese cube and form a ball. Make sure the dough is nicely sealed or the cheese might run out during the cooking process. Repeat with the other seven parts of cheese and dough. Brush the bread rolls with olive oil and sprinkle over some salt on top (use coarse salt if you have it).

Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes or until nicely browned. Remove from oven and leave to cool for 5 min before serving.