Smoked Salmon and Beetroot Carpaccio with Horseradish Dressing

Smoked Salmon and Beetroot Carpaccio with Horseradish Dressing 2 (800 x 560)

These past few days my idea was to stay on the light side because this weekend I am attending an enogastronomic  walk which takes place in Ascona, a lakeside town just a few kilometres away from my valley. I am so looking forward to the event, especially since last year I couldn’t go because I had to work. The event is called ‘Gusta il Borgo’ and this is the kind of activity I find there is never enough: people, food, wine and a nice walk (link: http://www.amisdalaforcheta.ch/index.php/component/k2/item/238-gusta-il-borgo-2013 ). Continue reading

I’ll be taking loads of pictures and post them next week. So for a light and quick dish I thought that a nice smoked salmon and beetroot carpaccio would have done the trick. Soon colder days will come and I will not feel like having cool food on a daily basis. Horseradish works well with either salmon or beetroot and another thing I particularly like are the colours. I was removing the smoked salmon from the package and thinking about the recipe I realized I did not know much about the history of the process of food smoking….

 

About smoked food :

Smoking food is something extremely interesting because first it cures food and second it gives it such a wonderful flavour. It is believed that the process of food smoking was almost as ancient as man cooking with fire. Sumerian tribes already smoked fish about 3500BC. Since that time humans have used the technique also in order not to succumb famine during the cold months. Another fact is that the smoking process has changed very little since the beginning of its practice; first the meat is brined for a few hours/day then the food is dried and placed to be smoked (source: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2011/mar/22/consider-smoked-foods )

 

Smoked Salmon and Beetroot Carpaccio with Horseradish Dressing

 

Prep time : 10 min

 

Ingredients :

200g smoked salmon

100-150g beetroot

1 small red onion

 

Dressing :

3 tbsp olive oil

1.5 tbsp cider vinegar

2 tsp prepared horseradish

Salt and pepper

 

Recipe :

For the dressing mix all the ingredients together and aside.

Slice the beetroot and the onion as thinly as possible.

On each plate place the smoked salmon on the outer edge and in the middle place the sliced beetroot. On top, sprinkle the onion and finally drizzle the dressing on top. Serve with freshly baked bread.

Aubergine rolls with a grilled onion vinaigrette

Aubergine rolls with a grilled onion vinaigrette - 1 (600 x 448)

Lately my home has been a coming and going of people which is something I am really enjoying; especially if I can cook for/with them. I always say that for me there are not enough meals in a day to quench my cooking passion (…well almost). Apart from my friends visiting I have been able to meet up with my mother for my weekly lunch and I felt that these aubergine rolls would be a nice idea for the summer which is gently giving room to the autumn light and warm colours. Continue reading

About the aubergine:

It is believed that India is the land of origin of the aubergine/eggplant; yet the earliest accounts of the vegetable are found in China and they come from around the 5th century . Even when it comes to the date of cultivation of the eggplant there is some confusion in the Chinese references. Li-Hui-Lin writes in his Vegetables of Ancient China that records indicate China was growing eggplant in vegetable gardens from 500 BCE; however, they may not have considered it an edible until the second century BCE. Southwest Asia is also taken into consideration when speaking about its origins and this is mainly relevant to the different varieties that can be found there (although there is no proof about this).Besides the origin of the eggplant, what I found interesting is the fact that the aubergine was first used as an ornamental item with its varieties of colours and shapes instead of being consumed (source: http://www.vegparadise.com/highestperch67.html )

Aubergine rolls with a grilled onion vinaigrette - 2 (600 x 400)

Aubergine rolls with a grilled onion vinaigrette

 

Recipe for 2

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 15-20 min

 

Ingredients :

1 aubergine

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

100g fresh goat cheese

1 tsp fresh thyme

2 heaped tsp dry roasted pine nuts

 

For the dressing :

3 tbsp olive oil

1 ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper

1 medium onion

 

Recipe :

Take the aubergine and cut it lengthwise. Slice off the rounded ends and then evenly cut the aubergine into four  strips. On each slice brush one side with olive oil and add salt and pepper. Heat a griddle pan (if you don’t have one a normal one is fine too) and add the aubergine on the oiled side to cook. Once the aubergine is well coloured brush and season the second side and flip the slices and leave to brown. Once they are ready set aside.

Take the onion and cut slices of about 0.5 cm. Brush each side with olive oil and repeat the same operation as with the aubergine.  If you have enough room you can do both operations at the same time.

Soften the goat cheese with a fork until it’s creamy ; add the thyme leaves, the pine nuts, salt, pepper (eventually a drizzle of olive oil) and mix together.

On the wider sides of the aubergine slices evenly distribute the goat cheese mix ad roll them up.

For the vinaigrette mix the olive oil, the balsamic vinegar salt and pepper. Chop the grilled onios and add them to the sauce.

To serve place a handful of soft salad leaves and about 50g halved cherry tomatoes in each plate ; place the aubergine rolls on top and add the vinaigrette on top.

Prättigauer Pitte: a Swiss Brioche

Prättigauer Pitte (800 x 800)

I had an almost totally spontaneous Monday; the only thing I had planned was this recipe. Continue reading

I was supposed to have coffee with a friend and as we were both off we ended up cooking and chatting for many, many hours. We ended up having lunch at four o’clock (even for Spanish standards this is late, and this friend of mine  is Spanish). Anyway this recipe is comes from the canton Graubünden; if you need a hint, think of St Moritz, Davos or Laax. I found the Prättigauer Pitte in one of my mother’s cookbooks and thought it would be interesting to try this specialty of Prättigau, in the Graubünden canton, in Switzerland. This recipe is a kind of Swiss interpretation of the brioche we all know. One more thing is that the traditional recipe uses dried pears soaked overnight in water while I used fresh pears because in my valley I could not find the other kind.

About the Brioche:

The information I found about the brioche on the site http://www.lagourmandise.net/history.htm is really complete so I thought that I would just report the whole passage:

“The word brioche first appeared in print in 1404, and this bread is believed to have sprung from a traditional Norman recipe. It is argued that brioche is probably of a Roman origin, since a very similar sort of sweet holiday bread is made in Romania (“sărălie“). The cooking method and tradition of using it during big holidays resembles the culture surrounding the brioche so much that it is difficult to doubt same origin of both foods. It is often served as a pastry or as the basis of a dessert, with many local variations in added ingredients, fillings and toppings. It is also used with savory preparations, particularly with foie gras, and is used in some meat dishes.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in his 1783 autobiography Confessions, relates that “a great princess” is said to have advised, with regard to starving peasants, “S’ils n’ont plus de pain, qu’ils mangent de la brioche”, commonly translated as “If they have no bread, let them eat cake”. This saying is commonly mis-attributed to the ill-fated Queen Marie-Antoinette, wife of Louis XVI; it has been speculated that he was actually referring to Maria Theresa of Spain, the wife of Louis XIV, or various other aristocrats.”

 

Prättigauer Pitte (for a 25 cm diameter cake dish)

Prep time:20 min

Cook time: 35 min

Rest time: 3-4 hours

 

Ingredients :

 

2 small pears or 1 large one

350g flour

6 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

100g butter (plus more for greasing)

1 egg

1 ½ dl tepid milk

20g fresh yeast (or equivalent)

1 beaten egg white

1tbsp sugar crystals

2tbsp slivered almonds

 

Recipe :

In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar and salt.

Add the yeast to the milk and leave to dissolve (it’s even better if you can leave it for 10-15 min).

Melt the butter either in the microwave or in a bain-marie and leave to cool. Once the temperature has dropped add the egg and whisk.

Add the milk with the yeast to the butter and egg.

Peel the pear(s) and cut into small cubes.

Add little by little the wet ingredients to the dry and blend together until the dough is elastic (about 10 min). Add the pear pieces and quickly blend again. In a greased cake tin (about 25cm diameter) place the dough a spread it evenly. Leave to rise in a warm place until it has doubled in height (this process took me about four hours with instant dry yeast).

Heat the oven at 180°C.

Brush the top of the dough with the egg white and sprinkle the sugar crystals and the slivered almonds.

Place in the oven for 35 min. Once ready leave to cool a bit before removing from the mold.

 

 

Coconut Chicken with a Basil Sauce

Coconut Chicken with a Basil Sauce (800 x 578)This week the summer weather was almost like an annoying guest who would not eve leave you alone in the evening to enjoy some spare time. When the weather is like this , I usually feel like eating something that is either fresh or that tastes fresh. I thought that for a ladies’ night this dish would have been appropriate to start us off, especially served with some chilled white wine. This coconut chicken and the basil dip sauce have a touch of exotic … something that always makes me feel like I’m on holiday. Continue reading

I would just like to say that for the sauce I took the inspiration from Gordon Ramsay’s ‘Beef Lettuce Wraps’ recipe (from his Ultimate Cookery Course book). In my recipe I have replaced coriander leaves with basil and I have directly added some chopped spring onion.


About Coconut:

Coconut is a fruit that has been around for so long that we do not really know where its origin lies. What we know though, is how its name originated. Here is an extract of the information I found. I did not really change anything about the test as I find the whole passage to be interesting: “The word coconut did not appear until after the Portuguese explorers in the 15th century. The explorers found this fruit growing on Indian Ocean islands, they described the coconut shell as a coco, or “grinning face” of a monkey because of its 3 dark holes at its base which look like a pop-eyed merry face. From then on, it was referred to as the “coconut”.
Although its name was recorded in Sanskrit in the early beginnings of history, the coconut was unknown to the western world until the 6th century, when it was imported into Egypt from the Indian Ocean–and still made little impression, though Marco Polo recognized it as “Pharaoh’s nut” when he ran across it in India on his travels.
In the Middle Ages, coconuts were so rare and so cherished that their shells were polished and mounted in gold. By the 19th century, however, new transportation routes made them common in European markets–and throwing objects (“coconut shies”) at local side shows.” (source: http://www.coconutrepublic.org/coconut_story.php )


Coconut Chicken with a Basil Sauce

Recipe for 4-6 as appetizer (or with some rice and green beans it could work as a meal for 2)
Prep. Time : 15-20 min
Cook Time : 25-30 min


Ingredients :

For the chicken :
1 ½ tsp flour
½ dl buttermilk
3 tbsp shredded coconut
½ tsp lime zest
¼ tsp ground chilli powder
Salt and pepper
8 chicken strips (or about 220-250g chicken breast)


For the dressing :
1tsp sesame oil
1tbsp soy sauce
Juice of ½ lime
1 tsp sugar
1 small chilli thinly sliced
1 spring onion thinly sliced (the green part only)
1tsp olive oil
7-8 chopped basil leaves


Chicken Recipe :

Heat the oven at 200°C.

Take three bowls. In the first place the flour, in the second the buttermilk and in the third place the shredded coconut. With the coconut bowl add the salt (about ¼ to ½ tsp), the pepper, ground chilli and the lime zest and rub the preparation together to blend in the flavours.

Take one strip of chicken and coat it with the flour. Move it to the buttermilk and soak it and let gravity drip away the excess. Finally coat the chicken with the coconut preparation. Repeat with all the strips.

Place the prepared chicken in the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes. When the chicken is ready let it rest for 3-minutes before serving.

For the sauce :

While the chicken is cooking it’s time to make thesauce. In a bowl mix the sesame oil, soy sauce, lime juice and sugar together ; then add the red chilli, the basil and the chopped spring onion.

Roasted Beans with an Italian Accent

Italian Roasted Beans (800 x 598)Yesterday it was Switzerland’s national day and obviously, I was happy to celebrate it. In the evening, with my boyfriend, we went to the village party where the risotto was offered to the population and the ambiance was really warm and friendly. Continue reading

During those events, every few steps you take you meet someone you know and chat and drink eat and share a few stories. The food is always pretty much similar and it’s either risotto with luganighe (a kind of sausage from the region), polenta with cheese or more sausage and sometimes it’s a spaghetti feast. This was in the evening but at lunch I had my mother coming over and I wanted to eat something light but colourful so I made this bean dish.

 

1° agosto 2013 (600 x 600)

A snapshot of the 1st of August in my village.


About Lima/butter beans:

Although Lima beans have been cultivated in Peru for more than 7,000 years, historians are unsure whether they originated there or in Guatemala. Soon after Columbus’ discovery of America, Spanish explorers noticed different varieties of Lima beans growing throughout the South America, Central America and the Caribbean. They introduced them to Europe and Asia (source: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=59 ). In fact, as it is the Spanish who have introduced these beans in Europe; I guess that this is the reason why in Italy they are called “bianchi di Spagna” which literally means “Spanish whites”.


Fried Beans with an Italian Accent

Recipe for 1-2 

Time : 15 min


Ingredients :

200g cherry tomatoes (I used a bunch of different varieties)

Olive oil

250g Lima beans (for time purposes I used tinned ones)

1 finely chopped garlic clove

Salt and pepper

juice of ½ lemon

6 chopped basil leaves

1 spring onion

40g pecorino cheese


Recipe :

Half the cherry tomatoes, chop the spring onion and grate the pecorino cheese.

Rinse the beans under tap water and pat them dry with some kitchen paper. Heat one tbsp olive oil in a pan and add the beans, salt and pepper to taste and brown on all sides, this should take about 5-7 minutes.

Once the beans are nicely browned, add the garlic clove and the halved tomatoes and let them slightly brown too. Now add the lemon juice and the chopped basil and stir.

Before serving add the spring onion with the grated pecorino on top.