Finally today the sun came out and it really felt like spring. I wanted color and freshness so, as my time was limited, today I made some chicken tortilla. I always loved dishes which are like a blank canvas and you can make an infinity of combinations. In the supermarkets today you can find such a wide choice of options to make all the things like tortilla or pizza or crepes or rice… All those great veggies and other ingredients have their origin and it is only gradually that they have become part of the worldwide culinary culture. As it is one of the ingredients of my recipe, I find that the red bell pepper is a good example. The red bell pepper which has been brought back from the Americas by Columbus has known a success from the moment of its arrival and it is an ingredient which has become part of regional recipes (like the Spanish Romesco sauce: roasted red bell peppers, almonds olive oil and vinegar).
For 2 people
Prep time: 10-15 mins
Cook Time: 5 mins
¼ red bell pepper
½ small cucumber
1 spring onion
1-2 branches coriander chopped
200g thinly sliced chicken
4 mini tortillas or 2 large ones
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp sweet paprika
1tbsp olive oil
Chop the red bell pepper, the cucumber and the spring onion. Transfer to a bowl and mix.
Add 1 tsp of the lime and the chopped coriander.
Take the meat of the avocado out and mash it roughly with a fork.
Rub the garlic and onion powder, the paprika, salt and pepper in the sliced chicken. Heat the oil in a pan and wait until it is hot. Add the chicken evenly and leave it to sear, it will probably take less than 2-3 min per side depending on the size of the slices. Turn the pieces of meat let it cook for another couple of min until brown on the other side. Add the rest of the lime and toss. Remove from heat.
Take the tortillas and on each spoon the avocado, add some of the chicken and over it sprinkle the red bell pepper, cucumber and spring onion preparation. Serve.
When spring is not in full blow yet, it can still be cold outside and that’s when I feel like having some nice creamy food but something not too heavy. So yesterday my mother came over and I cooked something I knew she’d like because of the leeks. Leeks are in a lot of traditional dishes among them is my mother’s delicious Swiss Papet Vaudois: a soup (leeks and potatoes) which is basically reduced and served with the traditional cabbage sausage from the Canton Vaud. Anyhow leeks have been around for a long time and the Roman emperor Nero was known to consume a lot of the vegetable.
Nero is an interesting character and there are a events in his life which are still a mystery today (like did he set Rome on fire? More and more historians say he didn’t but there’s no definite answer). One aspect of his life which we know is that he loved performing so much that he identified himself with the god Apollo; who is in fact the god of music and poetry. Because Nero loved being on stage it is said that he ate a lot of leeks in order to clear his voice (www.fr.wikipedia.org).
Potato cakes with creamy leeks
For 2 people
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 18 mins
-4 floury potatoes
-2tbsp olive oil
-80g bacon or pancetta cut in small pieces
-Salt and pepper
Peel and grate the potatoes with a grater with large holes. Quickly rinse under water and then remove the most liquid by pressing it. I used a colander. Add salt and pepper.
Make four patties with the potatoes. Heat oil in a non-stick pan on medium/high heat and add the potato cakes. Leave them 10 min to brown on one side and the turn them for another 8-10 minutes.
In a pan cook the bacon until crisp. Once ready remove the bacon from the pan and place aside. Wipe the pan.
While the potatoes are browning thinly chop the onion; cut the leeks in half and then into about 1.5 cm parts.
Heat one tsp olive oil in the pan previously used for the bacon, on a medium heat and add the onions to brown for about 3 minutes. Then add the leeks and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 7-10 minutes or until soft. At the last moment add the sour cream and mix.
Serve the potato cakes and on top place the leeks
I don’t know why but lately I tend to have gorgonzola a lot. I use it with polenta, avocadoes, bacon, bread, pears and so on. I often thought that the origin of this cheese must have been the result of an accident. Through history there are so many inventions attributed to accidents and this is not only in the kitchen; it is also in other scientific discoveries (like penicillin). Crepes, for example, are said to have originated when a batter like preparation was dropped on a hot stone by mistake. And in the same category of good accidents I also found Gorgonzola. The legend occurs in Gorgonzola (a town near Milan)and the cheese is said to have been created by a young and dairyman trying to repair the rennet he messed up. He was in love and passion for a girl made him neglect the process of cheese making. Thank you love.
I made this salad for my usual Thursday lunch with my mother. I like cooking for her because our tastes are similar. People influence what you cook and I like it because it forces me to try out new dishes and discover the result and when you get it, it is such a great satisfaction.
Crunchy salad with blue cheese dressing.
Recipe for 2
Time: less than 20 min
80g half fat sour cream
1 tbsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
8 walnut halves
4 slices of streaky bacon
3 branches celery
1 good handful of rocket salad
2 apples (I chose braeburn)
Salt and pepper
Place the gorgonzola in a bowl and soften it with a fork. Add the sour cream, the lemon juice the salt and the pepper. Mix all the ingredients.
Heat a pan and toast the walnuts. Remove them from the pan and set aside to cool.
In the same pan brown the bacon.
Cut the celery into thin strips.
Peel and core the apples, cut them into pieces the same size as the celery.
Roughly chop the walnuts and the bacon.
Mix the celery, apples and rocket with the blue cheese dressing and plate.
Add the walnuts and the bacon on top.
So tonight I am having a few friends coming over and we are going to make it a barbecue style evening with a nice finger food aperitif first. I love finger food; it feels like a true way to eat and the food feels even tastier. When I started writing about this recipe I began wondering where finger food was born. Back in time we have always used our hands to eat, think about the Romans who dined laying down and using exclusively one hand. After all, it was not until the 16th century that the use of the fork spread throughout Europe.
As I looked for information, the most common answer I found was that finger food is very much associated to the time of the prohibition and the speakeasies. In the hidden rooms and cellars along with booze, the owners began serving these cute sized portions of food. The finger food soaked up the liquor and guests would consume more: owners aimed to increase sales. Gradually the people began organising their own cocktail parties at home and finger food remained on the menu. The prohibition ended but thankfully finger food stayed. ( www.wordswithwings.co.uk , www.history.com).
Aperitif is something I love preparing and enjoying and tomorrow, with a selection of cheeses, meats and breads I am making a tomato tartar, a recipe which I have been doing for years but tonight I will serve it in small pizza bread baskets.
Recipe for 12 units (1-2 units p.p.)
For the baskets
260g pack flattened pizza dough
For the tomato tartar
4 small-medium sized tomatoes
8 sun dried tomatoes in oil + same amount of grilled peppers in oil
15 small green olives
2 tbsp chopped flat parsley
1 clove of garlic
2 spring onions
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
Crispy bacon strips
Heat the oven at 210°C.
Cut the dough in squares.
Oil the 12 muffin moulds. Place a square of dough in each mould, making it touch the borders.
Place in the oven for 20 minutes.
Cut the tomatoes in two and remove the seeds.
Thinly chop the tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, peppers and the olives. Place in a bowl.
Slice the spring onions. Pass the garlic through a garlic crusher. Add the two to the bowl with the parsley, olive oil, salt (not too much) and pepper. Mix.
Take the baskets out and let them cool a bit. Spoon an even quantity of the tartar in each basket and if you want you can add either bacon or goat cheese.
I generally try not to give in when it comes to sweet stuff but chocolate; I can’t resist chocolate. Chocolate as probably many know had a role during ceremonies of Mayan and Aztec civilizations. It was mixed with spices like chilli and it was consumed only on special occasions there was no milk in this recipe as it is the Europeans who began consuming cocoa this way). It was the Spanish who brought the bean to Europe. When products are a novelty, they are at first consumed by the more privileged members of society and later they reach the rest of the population; this was also the case for chocolate. I knew it was something very much appreciated in the French court but I read some time ago that chocolate was introduced as early as the time of Louis XIII (first part of the 17th century). Gradually the use of chocolate as a drink spread throughout Europe and in London in 1674 a coffee house proposed it in pastries. Being Swiss I felt like I had to give some attention to chocolate; after all we are the biggest consumers in the world and I can say that my boyfriend and I proudly contribute to keep up the average.
So he came over to my place yesterday and about once a month I tell him to get the ice cream and I bake this chocolate cake. We always end up finishing it all and I always end up feeling slightly guilty afterwards. I say slightly guilty because this cake is light in its genre. I really like this recipe because it has a really chocolaty taste. This recipe is a base but you can add raspberries or bananas or almonds prior to baking or serve it with some jam or again, with ice cream it’s our favourite (the stracciatella flavour is my absolutely favourite).
Basic chocolate cake
80 g dark chocolate
50 g sugar
40 g flour
40 g butter
½ packet of yeast
Heat oven tat 180 C°
Melt the chocolate and the butter in a bain-marie.
Divide the egg white from the yolk.
Add the eggs the sugar and the flour to the melted chocolate. Mix until the preparation is more or less even.
Whisk the egg whites to peak and add them gently to the chocolate preparation. Blend the two together lifting the chocolate over the egg whites.
Pour into a greased cake mould and place it in the oven for 18 minutes.