Cheese on Toast with Leeks

Croute au Fromage with Leeks 5I have been here in the canton Valais for a few days and it’s great to see that the snow has finally arrived. This context has inspired this week’s cheese on toast recipe or in French ‘croûte au fromage’. Continue reading

This dish is a staple recipe I always associate with the mountain and the ski season. This is an incredibly easy recipe which I have decided to add vegetables in order to add a bit of nutritional value. When I was small my mother used to make this dish so I decided to ask her and have a quick look at the only version I have of this recipe: this is the result. I am happy about the taste but next time I will definitely use ‘raclette’ cheese instead, it suits this mountain themed dish better.

I wish to all of you a great end of 2013 and an even better start of 2014. Happy New Year!

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Cheese on Toast with Leeks

Recipe for 2

Prep time : 10 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

 

Ingredients:

200 g leeks

4 large bread slices or 6 smaller ones

Mustard

Butter (optional)

200 g flavourful grated cheese (I used a mix of Gruyère and Appenzeller)

1 tsp flour

0.5 dl white wine (you can use milk for children)

1 dl cream

Salt and pepper

Nutmeg (optional)

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 220°C.

Slice the leeks and place them in a pan with some butter, season with salt and pepper. Cook on a medium fire until soft and set aside.

Toast the bread slices. Spread a little mustard and the optional butter on one surface of the bread slices. Place them in a greased oven proof dish (you can either use individual dishes or one for all). Drizzle the wine (or milk) over them.  Set aside so the bread can soak a little.

In a bowl mix the cheese, the flour, the cream and season with pepper and eventually nutmeg.

Take the dish with the bread and place the leeks on top of the slices. Now add the cheese mix on top and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes keeping an eye on the process. Serve hot eventually with a salad.

Rice Medallions with a Sweet and Sour Salad

Rice Medallions & Sweet and Sour Salad 5I didn’t spend too long in the kitchen for Christmas but today, besides packing my suitcase I decided I would spend a little time cooking something I like. Continue reading

I went to the usual cupboard where the cookbooks are piled up in lines and after removing three quarters of the collection I found a piece I had totally forgotten about. It’s a book on vegetarian recipes and it comes from a Swiss brand which also makes cookbooks: Betty Bossy. I have already taken a few of their recipes and if you want to know more about it you can visit their site at bettybossy.ch (unfortunately the site is only in either French or German). I took this recipe and adapted it to the season and to my taste.

Rice Medallions & Sweet and Sour Salad 1

 

Rice Medallions & Sweet and Sour Salad 3

 

Rice Medallions with a Sweet and Sour Salad

Recipe for 2

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 25-30 minutes

 

Ingredients:

100 g rice (Arborio or Carnaroli or other risotto rice types)

2.5 dl water

2 small to medium carrots

1 orange

1,5 tsp honey

1,5 tbsp white wine vinegar

2 tbsp oil

1 red chili

6-8 roughly chopped walnuts kernels

40 g sbrinz

1 small bunch herbs (I used parsley, thyme and chives)

1 egg

25g flour

1 tbsp oil

 

Recipe:

Rinse the rice under water and place it in a pan with 2.5 dl water. Bring to a boil and cook on a low fire until done, about 15-17 minutes. Set aside.

Peel the carrots and slice them lengthwise. From those long slices cut long and thin strips. Cut the top and bottom part of the orange. Following the shape of the fruit, remove the skin with a knife. With your knife now cut into the orange to remove the sections.

Thinly chop the chili.

In a bowl mix the honey, vinegar, olive oil, salt and chili. Add to the carrots and orange and leave to macerate for about 30 minutes.

Thinly chop the herbs.

Add the flour to the rice, mix and add the cheese, the egg, the herbs, 1 tbsp olive oil and pepper to taste. Divide into portions and shape into little patties.

Heat oil in a pan and add the medallion to brown on each side, 3-4 minutes per side.

Serve warm with the carrot and orange salad garnished with the walnuts.

A Very Short Visit at The Chocolate Museum – Caslano

C.M. 5We left yesterday morning with the idea of enjoying our day. After a quick coffee my boyfriend and I headed towards the Lugano region. Our first stop would be in Caslano for a visit at the Alprose chocolate museum and factory. After stagnating for a while in the traffic we finally got there. Unaware of the direction we should take to find the entrance we followed the sign which pointed to the museum. We turned the corner of the building and were surprised to find that anything displayed would be held in one of those large party tents. We both found this a bit particular but pushed the curtain and entered the place anyway. Right after getting the entrance ticket there is a chocolate fountain, from there we were handed a bread stick which has been dipped in it. From the entrance, we could not really see what was to come, so we headed a bit forward. First there were a few pictures showing the cocoa bean harvest and next to them were a couple of reproductions of the tools used. It was quite basic and no information was to be seen anywhere.

A few meters away there were about two glass cupboards filled with teapots and cups I guess are supposed to be for hot chocolate. I honestly don’t really understand the point of displaying this many pots and without at least a bit of information. The same goes for the tin boxes next to it. At the end of the museum there was one small section which actually might have provided a little information on the composition of the kinds of chocolate. Unfortunately, there again, I felt that there was minimum amount of effort put into this too. It looked like the display of some grand mother’s personal collection.

There was one last thing we could visit: the factory. There is the possibility to was the production process of Alprose chocolate. We entered the corridor made for the visitors and walked a bit before we saw that nothing was on. I would have liked to see something but I guess that visiting on the 23rd of December does have its disadvantages. We headed towards the exit where the little shop also offered the chance to taste some chocolate products. In the end I guess we were in and out of the place in fifteen minutes.  I am sorry to say that in the end, this particular chocolate museum is set up in a lazy way and a little more attention to it could make it more interesting for children and adults. One thing in their favour is that the price is appropriate. You can see my boyfriend’s perplex expression once we went outside.

Since our visit ended so soon we went for a ‘piadina’ in Lugano and after that we encouraged the economy with some Christmas shopping.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!

 

Where: Alprose Chocolat, Caslano

When: Mon-Sun (weekends the factory is closed)

Price: 3.- CHF for adults / 1.- CHF

For who: Everyone

Other links :

http://www.chocosuisse.ch/web/chocosuisse/en/home

http://www.chocosuisse.ch/web/chocosuisse/en/other_services/visitations

Cheese Nests

Cheese Nest Bites 1_renamed_16031I love cosy moments when it’s cold and raining outside. Continue reading

Tonight after a while it should rain, maybe with a bit of luck the snow will finally cover the top of the Alps. I really want to ski next week but at the moment there is really not much snow. I know my friends would say:

‘But Fanny, you never ski anyway’.

Not (totally) true. It’s just because I’m a perfectionist when it comes to skiing conditions: sun, good snow and possibly not too many people. Anyway tonight, with my boyfriend, I want to make it a cosy evening and except for the salad, nothing will require the use of covers. I went for a selection of local products with crudités and these cheese baskets are something I wanted to try. I recently found the idea for this recipe on cheesesfromswitzerland once I was looking for some other kind of information on Swiss cheese. Unfortunately this recipe appears not to be on-line any more but they have other interesting ideas besides general information on Swiss cheese. Their version was made with ham, celery, croutons and a dressing containing apple juice and mustard. With the rain as a background sound, we will enjoy our meal and watch a few episodes of the third season of Game of Thrones.

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Cheese Nests

 

Makes 6 bites

Prep time : 10 minutes

Cook time:  7 minutes

 

Ingredients:

60g grated cheese (for example a coarse Gruyère)

½ tsp flour

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp honey

1 tsp cider or apple vinegar

Salt and pepper

1 handful baby spinach

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 220°C.

Take enough oven paper to line the surface of a baking tray. Cut the paper into 6 equal parts and place them on the tray.

Mix the flour, the cheese and a bit of pepper together. On each piece of oven paper place about 2 tsp of the preparation to form a round of about 8 cm. I helped myself with a round mould. Place in the oven for about 7 minutes (keep an eye on the process). Once you like the colour remove the tray from the oven (my advice is to cook the cheese rounds a bit more than what I did in the pictures). Take one piece of the paper with the cheese on it and flip it over the an upside down  espresso cup or similar sized container. Remove the paper and leave to cool.

In a small bowl mix the mustard, the honey, the vinegar and a bit of salt together.

Thinly slice the spinach leaves and mix them with the dressing (you might not need to use all of the dressing).

Roughly chop the walnuts and the cranberries.

Once the cheese nests have cooled, delicately remove them from the cups and fill them with a bit of spinach and sprinkle a bit of walnuts and cranberries.

 

Rosemary Chilli Oven Baked Potatoes

Oven Baked Potatoes 1Things have been a bit hectic lately and I was made to believe that it was me who would cook for Christmas. Continue reading

So I began looking for ideas which are not too heavy on the stomach but which still had a festive side to it. A nice slow cooked meat with these potatoes would have been my choice. I am writing in the conditional because I guess none of this is going to happen since plans change by the day; it seems like a difficult thing to agree on a time, date and place. Before I was quite excited to cook but now that things have changed, at least, I will not have to get stressed out in the kitchen. Now at least I have time to look for all the Christmas shopping I have not yet taken care of… and this is not necessarily an easy task.

Oven Baked Potatoes 3 Oven Baked Potatoes 2

Rosemary Chilli Oven Baked Potatoes

 

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time : 45 minutes

 

Ingredients:

 

6-8 potatoes

1tbsp olive oil

1-2 rosemary stalks

1-2 red chilies

Salt

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 220°C.

Make deep incisions sidewise of each potato. Each incision should not go all the way through and should be about 2-3 mm away from the next.

Remove the seeds from the chili and cut into thin strips of about 1-2 cm long.

Brush the potatoes with the olive oil.

In the slits push in a few rosemary leaves alternating them with the red chilies. Add salt.

Cover and place in the oven for about 40 minutes or until soft when pierced with a knife. Remove cover and cook for another 5 minutes.

Dishlow Cookies

Dishlow CookiesTo me this is a recipe with a sentimental side to it. These  are the cookies my mother used to send me in large quantities when I was in boarding school. Continue reading

Thinking back, they could have been labelled as ‘meal replacement cookies’. Not only they are nutritious, but to me they also sometimes replaced meals. I remember that for some time, in my boarding school room, I used to hide the box behind my clothes because food was not allowed in the rooms. At night, once the light were out I would reach for a few of these cookies and with my room mate Carolina and we would munch through them while talking about the latest guy we liked. Once our energy had gone up sleeping was the last thing in our mind and if we did not chat more we were ready to have water fight. Our hope was that the woman who looked after us would not hear the giggling… Well, this is one of the memories attached to these cookies. Later, when I received new loads of cookies I would leave them in my locker and during breaks I would share them with my schoolmates. When I made this load the other day, sharing is what I did. I went to the nearby restaurant I often go to and left them for the clients with their who wanted them. From what I’ve seen they enjoyed them.

Dishlow Cookies 5

I didn’t want to change anything from this recipe. It is has a tradition to me. The recipe of these cookies comes from a trip my parents and I made to Alaska in the early eighties. My mother got it from the woman cooking for the place we stayed at. I am not sure this is the right name for this recipe but who cares when it tastes good.

Dishlow Cookies 3 Dishlow Cookies 2

 

Dishlow Cookies

 

Recipe for about 4 oven trays

Prep time : 30 minutes

Cook time : 15-20 per tray

 

Ingredients :

 

2.3 ml vegetable oil (rape seed oil)

200 g white sugar

220 g brown sugar

2 eggs

2 vanilla pods

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

70 g oats

60 g ground walnuts

50 g coconut

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 180°C.

In a bowl mix well the oil, the white and brown sugar and the eggs together. Open the vanilla pods and scrape the seeds out.

In a separate bowl mix the rest of the ingredients. Now add them to the oil/sugar/eggs mix. With a wooden spoon blend well until the preparation is nice and even.

Line the oven tray with parchment paper. Make small balls about 3-4 cm large. Place them on the tray with a bit of distance between them. Cook in the oven until brown, about 15-20 min per tray. Leave to cool on a rack.

Goat Cheese and Beetroot Dip

Beetroot Dip 5I love the colour of beetroot and its earthy taste and the fact that they are easy to find all year round (at least in pre-cooked form). Continue reading

 This is a dip I have been making a few times when I have guests.  I find this recipe to have a earthy but refreshing taste, besides the lovely colour. Honestly I don’t remember how this recipe came together. It’s probably logic somewhere since the two main ingredients basically have a subscription to my fridge. Their shelf life is quite long and I love their taste and versatility. And to think that four years ago, when I did not cook much, I saw beetroot as a the small reddish component in a salad just before the main meal. Today I find I was quite wrong.

Have a nice week.

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Goat Cheese and Beetroot Dip

 

Appetizer for 3-4

Prep time : 10 minutes

 

Ingredients :

100 g fresh goat cheese

150 g cooked beetroots

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

2 tsp hazelnut oil

Salt and pepper

 

Recipe:

In a blender place the cheese and whiz until it has softened.

Add the rest of the ingredients and blend well, until the mass is nice and even.

Serve with crostini, fresh bread or grissini.

Torta di Pane – Bread Cake / Pudding from Ticino

Torta di Pane 1This cake reminds me of the mountain. I don’t know why but as a kid my parents always had some when we were up in the very rustic mountain hut in the middle of the Alps (a granite building from the 18th century at 1900 meters). Continue reading

For us, more or less it was the only time of the year where it was a tradition to have it. This typical recipe from my canton is the poor man’s recipe and it’s a way to recycle stale bread. I know it’s an easy recipe but I felt that with this cake, expectations were high. Over here, this is the kind of recipe where people always tend to answer something like this:

‘I only eat my grandma’s torta di pane.’

‘My aunt is the best at making the torta di pane.’

‘My Mum makes an amazing torta di pane.’

I really wanted to try so I sat down in front of four different versions of the cake. The first version is one I dearly kept aside until I actually tried this ‘torta’ the other day. This recipe comes from a family friend: Lori. Traditionally people use sultanas with candied fruits, instead in her version she uses dried apricots (which I prefer) and candied fruits. Then, I had a look at two book versions with totally different amounts of milk (one 0.5 l the other 1 l) and one added pine nuts while the other went for almonds. I think I wanted to get a bit more confused because I went for a last reference on the internet and found a last recipe which I actually really liked: http://pandipane.blogspot.ch/2013/10/la-torta-di-pane-della-mia-nonna.html (site in Italian language). My rules for the cake were that it should be moist and the taste of cocoa should be noticeable but not overwhelming and I loved the addition of apricots instead of sultanas. Once the cake was ready I got three people to taste it: my boyfriend and two other friends. The three liked it and the only comment I got was from by boyfriend who said it needed a bit more sugar… He’s got a pretty sweet tooth though. So if this is your case, you can go ahead and add a bit more sugar. The flavour of the ‘Torta di Pane’ reminds me my childhood and maybe this is also why I really enjoyed it. I hope you will like it too.

Torta di Pane 4

 

Torta di Pane – Bread Cake / Pudding from Ticino

For a 26-28 cm round cake mold

Prep time: 20 min (plus soaking time)

Cook time: about 1 hour

 

Ingredients:

200 g stale bread

100 g amaretti

7 dl milk

1 vanilla pod

100 g dried apricots (the sour kind) – alternatively use sultanas and/or candied fruits

Zest of 1 small lemon

100 g pine nuts

6 tbsp cocoa

2 eggs

100 g sugar

50 g melted butter

A dash of grappa (optional)

Icing Sugar (optional)

 

Recipe:

In a bowl or container break the bread into small pieces and add the amaretti.

Put the milk in a pan. Incise the vanilla pod by its length, add to the milk and bring to a boil. Once ready pour over the stale bread and amaretti and leave to soak ideally over night but a few hours can do too. You can leave the vanilla pod in, just remember to remove it once the bread and biscuits have soaked.

Chop the dried apricots and place them in a cup. Add hot water and leave them to soak for a couple of hours.

Heat oven at 190°C.

Once the bread and amaretti have soaked, mash them with a fork until the mass looks like poultice.  Drain the apricots and add them to the bread preparation along with the cocoa, the lemon zest, and ¾ of the pine nuts.

In a separate bowl  mix well the eggs and the sugar and add the butter and eventually the grappa. Pour over the rest and mix the ingredients until the mass looks even; you can either use your hands or a spatula.

Grease the sides of a cake tin and dust with flour. Line the bottom of the cake tin with oven paper. Transfer the preparation to the cake tin and even out the surface. Add the remaining pine nuts and place in the oven for about 1 hour.

Once ready leave to cool before removing from mold. Eventually sprinkle surface with icing sugar.

 

Cabbage and Apple Salad with Honey Dressing

Cabbage and Apple Salad with Honey Dressing 3In Ticino this is the low tourism season and with the cold, all the grottoes are closed until spring. I miss them, and I miss one in particular: the grotto Lafranchi in Coglio which a couple villages away from where I live. Continue reading

I have already mentioned this place but since I cannot go there at the moment I wanted to try to make this cabbage and apple salad. This salad is part of a dish served with a venison tartar and even if it was in the first course in the autumn menu I found it more than enough. So the grotto is closed but I can still have their food. Tonight I’m going out with a couple of friends to the ice skating ring they have set up in the Piazza Grande in Locarno; around the ring is a bunch of stands and one of them is occupied by Davide and his chef Carlo from the grotto. Last week we got there too late and it was closed so this time I hope we can make it. Anyway, ice skating is not really in our plans…

Cabbage and Apple Salad with Honey Dressing 2

Cabbage and Apple Salad with Honey Dressing

 

Prep time: 10 min

Recipe for 2

 

Ingredients:

250 g shredded cabbage

1 apple

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp cider vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp roasted walnuts

 

Recipe:

Peel the apple, cut it into four parts and core. Take each piece and cut it lengthways into four. Turn the apple quart and slice into 0.5 thick pieces. Add to the cabbage.

Chop the walnuts and add ¾ to the salad.

In a bowl mix together the honey, the vinegar, the olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Add to the cabbage and apple and blend well. Place on a serving plate and sprinkle with the remaining walnuts. Serve with crusty bread or game and why not some cheese…