Lentil Grapefruit Salad with Salmon Served in a Glass

Lentil Grapefruit and Salmon Salad Served in a Glass Despite the cold weather I felt like having something fresh and light. This past week I wanted to avoid eating too heavy but yesterday, I already broke my resolution Continue reading

when I was invited by my Italian friend Simona to eat specialities from the Valtellina: “sciatt” and pizzoccheri. The “sciatt” are buckwheat battered pieces of cheese (and so obviously they are fried). The main dish was pizzoccheri which, up to now, is a dish I have never seen served in a weight loss facility. I knew I would like it and indeed it was a truly delicious dinner and I thank her for the nice moment. Nonetheless I have broken my resolution. Today I wanted to catch up since I finally managed to have a moment with my mother so I made this recipe. I made it for her because I know these are all ingredients she really likes. We had a nice moment and almost didn’t even touch any family related matters. Around a glass of white wine we enjoyed this salad while my dog was making herself get noticed, hoping we would feel generous and share our salmon.

Lentil, Grapefruit and Salmon Appetizer 3

 

Lentil Grapefruit Salad with Salmon Served in a Glass

 

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 25 min

For 4 portions

 

Ingredients:

120g green lentils

2 tbsp olive oil

100g Greek yogurt

2 tbsp chopped parley

80-100 g smoked salmon

2 spring onions

2 small grapefruits

Cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp lemon juice

 

Recipe:

Cook the lentils in two times their volume in water for 25 minutes. Once ready, add the olive oil, the cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste and set aside to cool.

Mix the yogurt with parsley and set aside. Cut the smoked salmon into small pieces.

Slice the spring onions. Cut the top and bottom off the grapefruit and then with a knife remove the skin following the shape of the fruit. Remove each section by cutting along the membrane. Keep any of the juices dripping from the grapefruit. Cut each section into two or three parts and add them to the lentils along with the spring onions. Add grapefruit juice mix and correct taste with cayenne pepper, salt and pepper if needed.

In a glass place the lentil salad, on top place the yogurt with the parsley and then the salmon. Drizzle with a bit of lemon juice and repeat the operation for the other three glasses. Serve.

Apple and Pear Pan Cake

Apple and Pear Pan Cake This recipe has been stored in my head since I was still a teenager and a student. Continue reading

When I went to live on my own for the first time, my mother offered me a small book of recipes for students. I tried a lot of the recipes in this book but this one has a lot of positive points besides its taste. This light cake can be done in a short time and you don’t even need an oven for it. In this recipe I used pears and apples because they are in season here in Switzerland. This recipe though, can be adapted to many other fruits such as cherries, apricots, pineapple…

Apple and Pear Pan Cake

 

Apple and Pear Pan Cake 

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 20 min

 

Ingredients:

1 pear (e.g. conference)

1 apple (e.g. braeburn)

2 eggs

1 dl milk

2 tbsp flour

3 tbsp icing sugar

Pinch of salt

1 tsp butter

½ baking powder

 

Recipe:

Peel and core the apple and the pear. Cut them into chunks (about 3 cm long). Melt the butter in a non-stick pan (24 cm diameter is ideal) and add the fruits to brown for five minutes on medium heat. The fruits should cover the bottom surface of the pan

In a bowl put the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl mix the eggs and the milk and add them to the dry ingredients; whisk until smooth and even. Pour into the pan and lower heat to medium-low. Cover and leave to cook for about 15 min. When the center of the cake has become solid and the bottom is nice and brown, the cake is done.

Place a plate on the pan and flip it. Serve warm or at room temperature and garnish with icing sugar or honey and why not maybe some chopped nuts.

Double Cheese Appetizer

Fotor0123174050 (800 x 600)

After spending the day outside in the winter weather, I built up a good hunger and I knew I would have company in the evening. Continue reading

My boyfriend would come and it was a few days since we had seen each other; I wanted to make a nice dinner. With my belly grumbling I got to the kitchen and began cooking; if I would have to wait for dinner, I could at least taste. I grabbed an old cooking magazine with a recipe I had planned to make and adapt to my taste and got down to cutting the cheese. The first recipe is fortunately something easy to make ahead.  Once the cheese was on the sticks and in the freezer I was ready to make the caramel. I reached to grab the box where the sugar is only to see that I was out of white sugar. I only had the brown one and resorted to using it. I put the sugar and the water in the pan and I was happy to see the caramel taking. My phone rang and by the time  went to pick it up and came back to the kitchen the sugar had crystallized. I washed the pan and gave it a second try which failed again and on the third try the result was not great but at least it had not crystallized. Now, I knew you are supposed to use white sugar for caramel but didn’t know why. I went on the internet and learned that brown sugar contains impurities which make the sugar form those crystals without turning into caramel. Lesson learned.

Double Cheese Appetizer 2

Double Cheese Appetizer

Double Cheese Appetizer 3

For the cheese lollipops :

Makes about 15 pieces

Prep time: 15-20 min

Cook time: 5-7 min

 

Ingredients:

150 g Gruyère

3 tbsp dry roasted hazelnuts

30 g breadcrumbs

¼ tsp chilli flakes

¼ tsp five spice

Pepper

20 g white sugar

1 small tsp water

 

Recipe:

Chop the hazelnuts (whether you like them chunky or finely minced is up to you) and place in a bowl. In another bowl mix the breadcrumbs the chilli flakes, the five spice and a pinch of pepper. Set aside.

Cut he cheese in roughly 3 cm cubes. Delicately pike the cheese cubes onto skewer sticks (the cheese will break less if at room temperature). Wrap them in cellophane and place in the freezer for ten minutes.

For the caramel, on a medium heat in a non-stick pan put the sugar and water.  Mix until the sugar has dissolved and after that wait for it to colour. Remove from the fire before the caramel is too brown, it should still be a bit runny.

First dip the tip of a Gruyère cube into the caramel and after in either the hazelnuts or the breadcrumb mix. To serve, place the sticks with the cheese in a glass.

 

Double Cheese Appetizer 8

For the pear, celery and Vacherin crostini

Makes 12 pieces

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 10 min

 

Ingredients:

12 slices baguette bread (about 1-1.5 cm thick)

Butter

1 small celery stalk

1 small pear

100 g Vacherin Mont d’Or (or another washed-rind cheese)

pepper

6 dry roasted walnut kernels

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 190°C.

Butter the bread slices on one side and place in the oven. Remove when nicely browned, about 5 minutes.

Julienne the celery. Peel the pear and cut it in half. Core it and cut into thin slices. Half or chop the walnut kernels.

Place a couple pear slices on a slice of bread, top with celery, a bit of Vacherin and finally the walnut kernels. Place in the oven again for another 5 minutes. Serve.

The Yoghurt Factory in Airolo – Muuh


On Friday, on my way to Crans Montana for the weekend, I stopped to visit my old friend Andreas at his work place: he work at the yoghurt factory in Airolo (the village just before the Gotthard tunnel when you’re heading north). Continue reading

I arrived by train and as I was stepping down the train I could already see the yoghurt factory since the place is basically part of the small train station of Airolo. Soon I was told to enter the place and wear the “sexy” protective clothing: shoe protections, plastic mantel and a headset. Andreas then came to me and gave me the official welcome (even though we had already seen each other five minutes before) and we began the tour. By the way he was speaking I had the impression it was not the first time someone was visiting, which is something he confirmed. Of course there are business related visits and journalists , but it’s nice that sometimes  schools come over to visit (of course the tour is organized in a slightly different way then) and the children can have a taste of the products. I like this spirit of letting people satisfy their curiosity, I can say that it’s not everywhere this way.

Andreas took me through the process and explained to me the different steps: from when the milk arrives to the finished product. However, more than focusing on the technical process, I want to write about the product because I think it deserves the attention. This is a small factory and besides the farmers providing the milk, there are six people in the “Yogurtificio” (that’s how we call the place in Italian). Andreas is the manager and above him is his owner and boss. I am mentioning Mr. Lombardi (Andreas’ boss) because I remember that less than one year ago he was awarded the prize for innovative agriculture.

The particularity of this product is that the origin of the milk used to produce the yoghurt strictly comes from the region around the Airolo. This also involves the condition that the milk comes from cows which are only fed with grass which has not been ensilaged. This really helps with the taste which is not acid. Another trait of this product is that the flavoured yoghurts are made with products without that are additive-free. The “Yogurtificio” delivers in the Ticino region to Coop and Migros: the two most popular Swiss supermarket chains in Switzerland. Despite the yogurt factory is only about 2-3 years old, it’s doing well and recently it has even began delivering to the Zurich region. Besides the two big clients, the “Yogurtificio” also have their own packaged yogurt which is the Muuh brand, these products are made for the smaller commerce and hotels and restaurants.

I am not a daily yogurt consumer but this one is a good product, trust me, I have tasted a few. Before Andreas worked there, he used to bring a bottle whenever I made dinner; today along with the wine he also brings over yogurt (and not only a couple of pots). Thanks Andreas for the generosity and the fun and interesting moment.

 

Related Links (in Italian):

This is the actual site of the Yogurtificio. There is little information but you can find the contact details.

agroval.ch

These are the two supermarkets that sell the yogurts from Agroval. The first is an actual interview to Mr. Lombardi (Andreas’ boss). The second is the Coop’s program Pro Montagna which is a range of products selected from the mountainous regions of Switzerland.

migros.ch

coop.ch

Creamy Chicken and Leek Puff Pastry

Creamy Chicken and Leek Puff Pastry 1Back at home things have gone back to their usual rhythm except for the fact that this week I have broken one of my grocery shopping rules: Continue reading

I have bought commercial puff pastry. Usually I order it at my local baker because I know it’s made with butter and no other fat. I have trouble understanding why I Switzerland it’s almost impossible to find pure butter puff pastry in any food store, even in the organic ones. All store bought puff pastries I have seen are made with vegetable oil and the taste is clearly different. This week, when I made this recipe for my boyfriend and me I told him about my frustration about the no-butter puff pastry and he agreed with me. Next time I will use real puff pastry. I found the idea of this recipe in the book I bought over the Christmas holidays. This is a simple recipe idea which can be easily adapted to any taste. Next time I have guests I may try this with salmon instead of chicken.

Creamy Chicken and Leek Puff Pastry 2

Creamy Chicken and Leek Puff Pastry

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 20-25 min

 

Ingredients:

4 8X10cm rectangles puff pastry

350 g chicken breasts

Olive oil

1 tbsp butter

320 g leeks

1 shallot

1.6 dl chicken stock

Cayenne Pepper

2 tsp lemon zest

2 tbsp lemon juice

Salt and pepper

1.6 dl cream

Optional: egg or milk to brush the puff pastry

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 220°C.

Slightly roll out the puff pastry triangles, eventually brush them with some egg or milk. Place in the oven for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Slice the chicken into about 0.8 cm pieces and in case the breast is large divide into two each slice.

Heat some olive oil in a pan and add the chicken to brown on all sides. Once ready set aside.

Chop the shallot and julienne the leeks. Put the butter in a pan and add the leeks, shallot,, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper and cook to soften for 8-10 minutes. Add the stock, the lemon juice and the lemon zest; leave to reduce by half. Add the cream and cook for a few minutes more. Add the chicken and stir.

Take the puff pastry rectangles and cut them in half horizontally. Place on a plate the bottom half of the rectangle, add the leeks and chicken and place top part of the puff pastry shapes on top. Serve warm.

Winter Barley Salad

Winter Barley Salad 3It was nice to spend a few days on the lighter side after the Christmas holidays. The food was delicious there but I missed having my usual load of veggies. I spent one week eating things I like but filled with good stuff. Continue reading

I know that Fabio, a friend of mine went through a one week juice detox. It’s a good thing but personally I like to use as many sense I can when I eat. I guess my admiration towards Fabio is even greater because I know the passion of good food is something we have in common.

The other day I was reading through blogs and I saw The Paddington Foodie’s recipe of “Roasted Beetroot and Carrot Salad With Puy Lentils, Rocket and Feta” : I felt a craving for the carrot beetroot combination. With my head in the kitchen cupboard I was looking for ideas, when I found some barley and began putting this recipe together. In the end this recipe came together very spontaneously. I like these moments because I am always curious to taste the end result.

Winter Barley Salad 1

Winter Barley Salad

 

Recipe  for 2-3

Prep time : 15-20 minutes

Cook time: 35-40 minutes

 

Ingredients :

60 g pearl barley

200 g carrots

1 small onion

½ tsp thyme

3 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 tbsp cider vinegar

1 orange

150 beetroot

1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 small handful roughly chopped walnuts

 

Recipe:

Preheat oven at 220°C.

Put the barley into a pan and add four times its amount of water with some salt. Bring to a boil, cover and cook on low heat for 35-40 minutes (water should have absorbed by then).

Peel the carrot and quarter them. Cut into pieces of about 3 cm. Cut the onion in half and then each half into four parts, divide them up. I an oven proof dish add the carrots the onions 1 tbsp olive oil, dry thyme, salt and pepper. Mix and place in the oven for about 30 min, until they are lightly charred.

For the dressing mix the tbsp cider vinegar, 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper.

Cut the beetroot into cubes of 1.5 cm. With a knife remove the orange peel and cut out each section. Divide each section in two.

Once the carrots and the barley are ready mix them with the beet root, the orange, the parsley, the walnuts and the dressing. Toss and serve.

 

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Butter Walnuts and Goat Cheese

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Butter Walnuts and Goat Cheese 4After spending ten days in constant company I needed a day at home where the only other heart beating in the house was the dog’s. I decided to stay home and get cooking something new for me. Continue reading

When I went to do my groceries for my day I saw some nice sweet potatoes and since making gnocchi part of the schedule, I thought that changing from the normal potato ones, could be fun. I can’t remember last time I had gnocchi and I was really looking forward to tasting this dish again. I made this dish only once, it was with my mother and we must have had guests. She only made them on those occasions and this was one of the reasons I wished we had guests more often. In my research for this dish I found a couple recipes at home but like almost always I wanted to see what I would find online. Including one of the versions I have from my mother, I found that many other recipes use the same ratio. I chose to follow the most commonly used version of the recipe and I liked the result; the gnocchi were soft but not mushy nor too floury.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Butter Walnuts and Goat Cheese 1

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Butter Walnuts and Goat Cheese

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 30-40 min

Cook time: 40-50 min

 

Ingredients:

800 g sweet potatoes

200 g floury potatoes

300 g flour

Salt and pepper

1 good tbsp butter

A handful of sage leaves

Handful dry roasted walnut kernels

120 g goat cheese

 

Recipe:

Separately boil the sweet potatoes and the potatoes, skin on. Once soft, while still warm, remove skin. Mash the whole lot, mix and leave to cool.

Once cooled place the potato mash on a working surface, add the flour, a pinch of salt and the egg. Blend the whole preparation together without over working it. On a lightly floured surface take a piece of the gnocchi dough and roll it in order to have a 2 cm thick ‘sausage’. With a smooth bladed knife cut away pieces of about 2 cm (not like I did by using a fork). Repeat with the rest of the dough. Leave the gnocchi to rest for 15 minutes before continuing.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil with some salt. Once the water sizzles add the gnocchi and once they rise to the surface remove them from the heat and set them aside. Remember not to overcrowd the pot, otherwise do it in more batches.

If the sage leaves are large, chop them. Cut the cheese into small cubes.

In a non-stick pan melt the butter and add the sage leaves and the walnuts. Cook on a low heat for about 1 minute. Add the gnocchi and toss to coat them. Add the goat cheese and cook further until it starts to melt. Eventually correct taste with salt and pepper, remove from fire and serve.

 

Appetizer Cheese Balls

Cheese Balls 1Two days ago I came back from my holiday in Crans Montana. It was a great ten day stay and I can’t wait to be back, at least on weekends. Continue reading

During the first part of the holiday I had a visit from my former boarding schoolmate Ramona. For new year’s eve my boyfriend joined us and after Ramona left we spent a few days together. With Ramona we skied a bit, skated a bit, ate a bit more but especially chatted loads (being three years we hadn’t met up might have contributed). On the 31st we walked up towards the beginning of the slopes and had a meat fondue. At midnight we cheered together before coming down to the village with burning torches to light our path. We continued the celebrations till eight in the morning, finishing the last bottle of champagne. Here are a few memories of our new year’s eve.

Soon Ramona left and the plans with my boyfriend should have been similar to the ones with Ramona, but unfortunately the weather was bad. It’s actually not the first time that he comes up and the weather is bad, last year and the year before that it was the same. So we ended up having walks, longer meals and enjoyed the comfort of the indoors. During one of our walks with my dog I stopped by a shop with magazines and books. Five minutes later I came out with a couple of beautiful books on Swiss recipes and products (the first is La Suisse Gourmande and the second is Saveurs D’Antan) . The following evening I was ready to try the first recipe I put my eyes on: these cheese balls. With my boyfriend we stayed in and after this appetizer we had an oven baked chicken with a warm broccoli salad.

 

Cheese Balls 3

Appetizer Cheese Balls

Recipe for about 8 balls

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 8-10 minutes

Ingredients :

200 g cheese (I bought tasty alpine cheese but another tasty kind of cheese like Appenzeller or Gruyère work well too)

Pepper

100 g breadcrumbs

50 g roasted onions

1 tbsp chopped parsley

100 g flour

1 egg, beaten

Oil

 

Recipe:

Grate the cheese with a large holed grater and add pepper to taste. With this cheese form little balls (I made about 8).

In a bowl mix the breadcrumbs the onions together and the parsley.

Take one cheese ball and roll it in the egg, then the flour and finally in the breadcrumb mix.

Heat the oil in a pan at 170°C. Add the cheese balls and brown them. I had to turn them quite often because once the cheese starts melting the balls quickly lose their initial shape. Serve immediately.

 

Endive and Blue Cheese Soup

Endive and Roquefort Soup 3What better than a warm soup when it’s cold outside? Well, there are other things but this is a blog about cooking. Continue reading

I personally have periods where I could eat soup every day and other times it’s the opposite. I’m still in Valais and a friend and former school mate from Germany has come to stay with me for a few days. The day she arrived I thought it would be nice to have a simple lunch so I made this soup and served it with some brown bread. My ideas was to make a soup with a food combination I like and of course to make it with seasonal products. Endive is seasonal and it marries so well with blue cheese. I went and baked the endive; for the rest of the soup I followed the same method I use when I make a blue cheese sauce for pasta, I just added a little more cream.

Endive and Roquefort Soup 2

Endive and Blue Cheese Soup

 

Recipe for 2

Prep time : 10 minutes

Cook time : 45 minutes

 

Ingredients :

500 g endive

70 g Roquefort

Salt and pepper

1.2 dl cream

1 large tbsp melted butter

Nutmeg

A few walnut kernels (and eventually a little walnut oil)

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 220°C.

Cut the endives in half lengthwise and place in an oven proof dish. Pour over the melted butter and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven for about 40 minutes or until the endives are soft.

Meanwhile in a pan place the cream and the Roquefort in a pan and cook on a low fire until the cheese has melted.

Once the endives are ready place them in a blender and whiz until pureed.  Add them to the Roquefort and cream and mix.

Serve hot and garnish with roughly chopped walnuts and eventually a drizzle of walnut oil.