Chicken Meatballs

Chicken Meatballs 1 Continue reading

I think I still have to meet someone who doesn’t like meatballs. Whether they are made with beef, chicken or meatless, I’ll have any.  One great thing about this dish is that you can decline it to infinity. You can travel the whole world with meatballs. I had lunch with my mother this week and thought I’d make some oven baked meatballs. While they were cooking we could comfortably stay on the couch, chat and sip a bit of wine. I looked up a couple recipes in my books and found beef and vegetarian meatballs, not totally satisfied, I went online and had a look around for new ideas and I never did to put tomato paste mixed with fat on the meatballs before baking (also because i usually make them in the pan). This was an idea I liked. For the mince mix I wanted to use Swiss cheese so I wrote down the combinations I might like and gave it a try. Once the dish was ready I placed it on the table and took the pictures. I must say that it was nice to see my mother standing next to me taking pictures too. Of course right after we had the meatballs with a salad. It was funny because at the end of the meal she took out a cooking magazine and gave it to me. While I was going through the pages she confessed to me that she hides them from her partner because he makes fun of the amount of recipes she has stored over time (the best is that she never seems to try one).

Happy Halloween to whoever is celebrating it!

Chicken Meatballs 5

Chicken Meatballs

 

Recipe for about 9 meatballs (golf ball size)

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: about 20 min

 

Ingredients :

350g minced chicken

3 heaped tbsp grated gruyere

1.5-2 tbsp roasted pine nuts

1 tsp thyme leaves

3 tbsp breadcumbs

1 egg

1 small onion

2-3 tbsp milk

½ tsp paprika (optional)

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp small tomato paste

1 tsp oil or butter

 

Recipe:

Finely chop the onion and the pine nuts.

In a bowl place the minced chicken, gruyere, pine nuts, thyme leaves, breadcrumbs, egg, onion, milk, 1/2 of the tomato paste, salt and pepper to your liking and the optional paprika.

Mix well with your hands. Place in the fridge and leave to rest for 30 min.

Heat oven at 210°C.

Take the mince mix out of the fridge and make the meatballs. Place them in a greased baking dish.

Mix the remaining tomato paste with the oil/butter and brush the top of each meatball.

Place in the oven for about 20 min keeping an eye on them.

Serving ideas: with some creamy pasta, a salad, in a sandwich,  or make smaller meatballs and serve them as an appetizer (cooking time will be shorter in this case).

Cheesy Pictures From The Bern Cheese Festival

CFB 8 Continue reading

I went for a 24 hour trip made of pure good moments. On Friday we left and spent one night in Lucern before heading towards the Bern Cheese Festival. I was in such a good mood since in Lucern met up for dinner with a former boarding school mate of mine and his spouse. We shared a great moment and I know we have made new memories for the future. I absolutely wanted to make the most of this moment since the two live in Mexico and occasions, as you can imagine, are rare. In the end I did make the most of it and we went to bed it was basically four in the morning. With itchy eyes hidden behind sunglasses we left the hotel and headed towards Bern. During the journey, the only one getting rest was the one who needed it the least: my dog. At least the landscape wit the autumn colors was amazing. Once in Bern we left the car and walked towards the square where the cheese festival was being held.  I love walking in cities and Bern is a nice place to have your nose up in the air, directed towards the buildings. We got to the sqaure and soon we were surrounded by cheese stands from every corner of Switzerland. Although the surface reserved for the manifestation was relatively small, it was hard to keep track of which cheese stand we had tried and which not, especially because we went back and forth. Of course, among the selection, the most popular cheeses were present (Gruyere, Appenzeller, Emmental, Sbrinz, Vacherin) but there was so much more to discover. Among my favorites was a hard chilly cheese, one made with sheep’s milk and this three years old one (which I bought but did not get the name):

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Historically, because of the Swiss geographical landscape, it was difficult to grow enough crops to sustain one’s family so cheese was a good source of energy and it was something which could be stored during the colder months.This contributed to the growth in popularity of “Caseus Helveticus” as Pliny the elder called it. Here are a few pictures of my visit.

This is fondue made with beer instead of white wine

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The Monks selling the “Tête de Moine”:

 

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Herb cheese:

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The classic Emmentaler:

 

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And for lunch we went for a traditional raclette:

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In the end it was a nice moment and I have made a cheese supply for the next few weeks. If you are in the region, this is something where you can enjoy a few hours tasting and discovering local products. Supporting local products is something we should all do and enjoy.

Where: Bern, Waisenhausplatz.

When: 26th October 2013 from 09:00-17:00

For who: cheese lovers of all ages

 

Potato Terrine

Potato Terrine 4 (800 x 615)In Italian there is the saying “In cucina la patata è regina” and this literally means “In the kitchen the potato is queen”. Continue reading

 To me this recipe is a proof of the versatility of the potato. This recipe comes from another my mother’s old cookbooks. It’s almost a ritual to go over the old cupboard and open the bottom door and take out a few of the stacked books. In there you can find just about any kind of cuisine and one of these cookbooks is dedicated to potatoes. When I found this terrine I thought it’d be a fun recipe to try. In my version I added some goat cheese; I used carrots and onions instead of bell peppers and chose different herbs from the printed recipe. This recipe can be made ahead and/or frozen and it works well for a dinner between friends. I am always looking for make ahead recipes, it means: no stress, one dish less to prepare and more time to take care of my quite problematic hair. Next Wednesday I will cook for a few friends and after this terrine I am thinking of serving some venison maybe with some cabbage and chestnuts… I am open to outside ideas.

 

Potato Terrine

Potato Terrine 1 (800 x 644)

Recipe for a 22 cm cake mold

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 20 min

 

Ingredients :

400 g peeled potatoes (floury type is better)

50 g butter (+ 1 tbsp for frying)

60 g fresh goat cheese

2 carrots

1 onion

1 tbsp thyme

1 small bunch chopped parsley leaves

Salt and pepper

Nutmeg

1.25 dl cream (I used ½ fat)

 

Recipe :

Boil the potatoes, remove the water and while they are still hot mash them well.

Melt the butter and whip it with the goat cheese into the mash . Mix until smooth and even. Set aside.

Dice the carrots and the onion into small pieces.

Heat the tbsp butter in a pan and add the vegetable, the thyme, salt and pepper; steam them for about 5 min, cool and add to the potatoes with the parsley, about a ¼ tsp salt and pepper and nutmeg to taste.

Whip the cream and delicately add it to the potatoes.

Place some cellophane to line the inside of the cake mold and fill it with the potato preparation. Take the care to press the mass down to fill and air pockets (it still tastes good but it’s less appealing to the eye…). Smooth the surface of the terrine, cover and place in the fridge for 4 hours. Slice and serve as a first course or as a main with a salad, salmon or chicken.

This recipe can be made one day in advance and can be frozen too. Why not browning the slices in a bit of fat and serve them warm…

Amor Polenta Cake

36. Amor Polenta 3 (800 x 600)It was only a couple of months ago that I first tried a polenta cake. Continue reading

I took a friend of mine to one of my favorite restaurants, at the Grotto Lafranchi in my Valley Maggia. It’s a place I just like everything about: the food is delicious and the atmosphere is so friendly (this is a must for me, I’d rather have so-so food but a great environment than the other way round). Since I go there often since a couple of years I know the small team and the chef proposed us one preview of the autumn desserts: the Amor Polenta. He served us this cake with a white chocolate sauce and pink peppercorns. The little crunch the polenta gives to this cake is why I fell for it so I decided to make my own. I went online and looked for a few different recipes ( imenudibenedetta.blogspot.com and gusto-arte.fr) and had a look in my cookbooks for tips on making a good pound cake and worked on this recipe. I was happy with the result although my version of the cake was a sweeter than the one I remember tasting and since I serve it without the white chocolate sauce it works well this way. Anyway this is an easy but delicious cake which I ended up eating more than I would have liked to…

About the Amor Polenta:

I would have liked to know more about the origins and myths tied to this cake but I have found not particular historic references. I found out that this recipe comes from northern Italy, from Varese, in fact it is also called “Dolce di Varese”.  Originally this recipe it was something the poor would make and traditionally this recipe is made in a long cake pan with a fluted base (source: www.pasticceriasieni.it)

36. Amor Poolenta 1 (800 x 497)

Amor Polenta Cake

Recipe for a 20 cm cake mold

Prep time : 15 min

Cook time : 40-45 min

 

Ingredients :

100 g powdered sugar

100 g butter (remove from fridge a couple of hours before use) + more to grease the mold

40 g wheat starch

40 g white flour + more for the mold

80 g fine grain polenta

2 eggs

1 yolk

1 vanilla pod

½ bag dry yeast

1 pinch salt

(optional : 1 grated lemon zest or a shot of liquor such as Kirsch)

 

Recipe :

Heat oven at 180°C.

Sift the wheat starch with the flour and the yeast.

Split the vanilla pod and remove the seeds.

In a bowl place the sugar and the butter.  Cream them together for 5 min. Start adding the eggs and the yolk one at the time. While mixing, now add the flour/starch mix little by little to the rest. Next add the vanilla, the salt, the polenta and the ground almonds.

Take a 20 cm baking tin. First rub the butter on the inside and then coat with flour. Pour the preparation into the tin and bake for about 45 min (my over is pretty warm so I had to turn the heat down a little towards the end, you might want to consider how yours works too). When you insert a toothpick in the cake and it comes out dry the cake is ready. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin for 10 min. Remove from the tin and leave to cool for 30 min before serving.

Cabbage Croquettes

35I used to only eat cabbage when it was served to me or in the form of coleslaw, since a few years not anymore. Continue reading

I love cabbage because it is a versatile and strong vegetable, I love its taste and it’s always a healthy choice. As my boyfriend was having one of his reunions and the weather encouraged me to stay at home (we’ve already had the first snow on top of the mountains), I had a comfy evening in front of the fireplace munching away these croquettes. For this I didn’t use any covers because eating with my hands is something I absolutely love; don’t you? This croquette recipe which I have adapted comes from another of my mother’s cookbooks and it works as an appetizer and as a side dish maybe with some game meat).

What I learned about the cabbage:

The cabbage is said to have been cultivated between the thousands and the hundreds years BC. Through its long history it has had an unstable reputation. The ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians consumed it and attributed to the medicinal proprieties. Romans and Egyptians advised its consumption before and after going to a alcohol soaked event. In medieval times the poor made a large consumption of cabbage and later, between the 14th and 17th century, the vegetable underwent a period of  low reputation (like many of the leafy veggies during that time). One important fact about cabbage is that it is not a delicate plant to grow nor to use so it would be a source of energy available the whole year round to different people in different geographical regions. Vikings and Chinese would store them for the cold winter months. To be stored the vegetable would either be dried (like the Vikings and Chinese) or pickled (like the Chinese and Turks). Source: vegparadise.com

Cabbage Croquettes

35. Cabbage Croquettes 2 (800 x 574)

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 10-15 min

Cook time: 8-10 min

 

Ingredients :

400 g thinly sliced red cabbage

1 tbsp butter

500 g cold boiled potatoes (ideally from the day before)

2 eggs

¼ tsp grated nutmeg

Salt and pepper

1 pot sour cream

1 small bunch of chives

Butter to brown the croquettes

 

Recipe :

Heat the butter in a pan and add the cabbage with some salt and pepper. Cook until almost soft (about 8-10 min). Set aside and leave to cool.

Remove the skin of the potatoes. In a bowl grate the potatoes.

In another bowl put the eggs with some salt, pepper and nutmeg. Mix and add to the potatoes. Mix again to incorporate the egg. Add the cooled cabbage and stir in order to get an even preparation.

In a pan heat some butter. With a tablespoon slide the preparation into the pan and slightly flatten them. On a low heat brown the croquettes on both sides for a few minutes (alternatively you can cook the croquettes in the oven at 200°C for about 20 minutes).

Serve the croquettes warm as a side dish or as a finger food with the dip. For the dip finely chop the chives and add them to the sour cream.

My “Ticino Experience” Experience

T.E.7Last Wednesday I met up with my boyfriend to attend a local product tasting activity. It was during the time of the aperitif and it would be presented along with a mute comic film. Continue reading

When I found out where the event took place I was surprised ; it was a place we used to hang out at night a few years ago. Back then they used to have toilet seats as chairs and somewhere there must have been a bathtub too. Of course, the chairs had changed to suit today’s circumstances… We were welcomed by a very friendly woman, our/the hostess Claudia. While waiting for everyone to arrive she offered us some cured meats and bread. As the people progressively arrived I was happy to notice that half of the people we tourists and the other half were locals. I find this to be a good sign because it means the activity touches more categories of people. We sat down and after a short presentation we watched the introductory part of the mute film which set the ground for the main part of the story. Fidelio has a three starred restaurant in Spain. After a visit from a gastronomic critic he loses one. Now he is desperate to gain it back.Through a psychic St. Borromeo (a saint from the region)  tells Fidelio to travel to Ticino to gain back his lost inspiration.

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At the end of the first part we were invited to grab a plateau with a set of tasting items which we would put on our laps. At set times of the film we would be able to eat these delicacies.

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Each product was tied to a section of the story, and it was hard to stay back and wait for the right moment. Fortunately these moments came along quite fast. In the middle of the film, as I was watching I could hear a husband and wife speaking in our local dialect:

‘Oh look, that’s Lalo on the screen.’ The wife said.

‘Come on. I didn’t see but… wait. You’re right, it is Lalo.’

A few minutes later the wife spoke again:

‘And the monk the is Roberto.’

It amused me to hear them while I was munching away some of the local goat sausages called “Cicitt”. Apart from the sausages we tasted different cheeses, wines, one liquor (“nocino” which is the monk’s traditional liquor) and finally a sweet spread made with “Farina Bona” (in English it would translate as good flour). I just want to add a quick word about this type of flour which is made of toasted corn grains (basically popcorn) and which is a traditional product of the Onsernone Valley. It is a very versatile product and it can even be used to make “Farina Bona” ice cream (link: http://www.farinabona.ch/en/index.php).

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I really enjoyed my moment at “Ticino Experience” and my boyfriend (although it doesn’t look like in the picture) must have liked it too as he kept on repeating what a nice idea it was to have tried this activity out. Personally I found that the hour literally flew and would recommend it to anyone. I can say that I will surely return, especially when I have guests coming to visit.

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PS: Sorry for the quality of the pictures,I only had my phone and found it hard to shoot in such low light… or perhaps it’s the photographer’s skills.

Where : La Rustica (Albergo Losone), Losone, Ticino, Switzerland.

When : March-October / Mon-Thu 18:00, Fri-Sat 17:00 / Lasts about an hour

For who: Adults and kids, locals and tourists. If wish to have an overview of the region (because there are nice shots of the landscape too) or you already know it but wish do something different, this is for you.

Link : http://www.ticinoexperience.ch

 

Crusted Pumpkin Slices

34. Crusted Pumpkin Slices (800 x 635)On Saturday I met up with my friend Lisi and we went for a an aperitif before we wound go and have dinner at her place. With our glass of white wine and some freshly made focaccia, we were on the square of a nearing village. As we talked she told me what she had planned for make for dinner. The menu involved a pumpkin soup as a starter and a veal recipe she wanted to try out; the perspective looked good. Continue reading

I love the fact that there is a real sense of community in the valley and the people just know each other; the problem is that you always end up getting home later than expected (sometimes much later). To make a long story short, we gained one more guest and Lisi ended up making a Bolognese at ten o’clock. The pasta was delicious but now I had pumpkin on my mind. So the following day I went through my Kindle library and found this recipe from Ottolenghi’s vegetarian cuisine book “Plenty”. I made my own version of this easy recipe which is delicious and healthy.

About the pumpkin:

Native from Central America and Mexico, pumpkins have been cultivated for as far as five thousand years ago. Since that time they have now spread to six continents. A thing which surprised me is that the etymology of the word “pumpkin” comes from a French explorer (Jacque Cartier) who was in the St. Lawrence region of North America, he qualified them as “gros melons.” Translated into English they became “pompions,” and later evolved into the modern “pumpkin” (source: www.history.com).  It’s interesting to see how words evolve in time. Sometimes I wonder how the change happened as it is not always evident to find an immediate logic to it.

 

Crusted Pumpkin Slices

Recipe for 2

Prep time:15 min

Cook time: 30 min

 

Ingredients:

450 g pumkin (skin on)

30 g grated cheese (I used Appezeller cheese but any other cheeses work well too: gruyere, emmentaler…)

1 tbsp breadcrumbs

1 tbsp ground almonds

2 tbsp chopped parsley

1 tsp chopped thyme leaves

1 tsp chopped rosemary leaves

Salt (not too much) and pepper

Grated zest of one lemon

1 crushed garlic clove

Olive oil

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 190°C.

Cut the pumpkin into wedges about 1 cm thick and set aside.

In a bowl mix the parsley, thyme, rosemary, lemon zest, ground almonds, breadcrumbs, grated cheese, crushed garlic, salt and pepper.

Brush both sides of the pumpkin slices with olive oil and place them on a baking tray covered with oven paper.

Evenly distribute the content of the bowl on the pumpkin slices; lightly pat the preparation and place in the oven for 30 min. I find its taste to be great this way but you can always serve this dish with some sour cream with chopped chopped chives.