Spinach Cheese Puffs

Spinach Cheese Puffs Last Friday I had guests coming over and we had a raclette evening and used the cheese friends of mine produce in a nearby valley (the breathtaking Verzasca Valley). Continue reading

A raclette doesn’t require much cooking at all except for the boiling the potatoes, but I wanted to use my kitchen for something more so I made these gougères (cheese puffs) for the aperitif and I was happy to see they disappeared quicker than the dried meat I served. Cheese puffs are for me a really fun food to eat, they’re easy to make and always make a nice impression. So as a base for these cheese puffs I went on the marmiton.org site and then I just added the spinach and pine nuts. In the end this turned out to be an evening in honour of Swiss dairy … and oh, how I love this!

 

 

Spinach Cheese Puffs

Recipe for about 30 pieces

Prep time: 25-30 min

Cook time: 30 min

 

Ingredients:

150 g fresh spinach

80 g butter

2.5 dl water

150 g sifted flour

4 eggs

150 g grated Swiss cheese (I used aged Gruyere)

Nutmeg

Salt and pepper

Optional: 2-3 tbsp. pine nuts

 

Recipe:

Turn on oven at 200°C.

In a pan cook the spinach until the leaves are soft. When they’re done let them slightly cool, place them in a tea towel and wring out as much excess moisture as possible. Place the spinach on a cutting board and finely chop them with a large knife.

In a high-sided pan bring the water and the butter to a boil, once it’s simmering add the flour all at once and stir vividly for a minute on a low fire with a wooden spatula, this will make the mass dry up. Remove from the fire a let the dough slightly cool. Add the eggs one by one stirring between each addition until the egg has been combined into the dough. Add the cheese, spinach, a little nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix everything together.

Line a baking tray with oven paper. Using a teaspoon make little balls and place them on the baking tray leaving a little space between each unit as they will grown in size. On top, if using them, place 3-4 pine nuts. Bake in the oven for about 25 min. With these quantities I made three batches and cooked them one at the time. Serve warm or cold.

Chicken Sauerkraut Spring Rolls with a Mustardy Dip

Chicken Sauerkraut Springrolls with Mustardy Dip 11.2In the past couple of weeks we’ve had maybe a couple of days of sun and frankly I’m starting to go a little crazy, fortunately I can spend some time in the kitchen and this helps pulling my spirits up. Continue reading

Last week, during one of my lunches with my mother, we made these spring rolls. I was lucky to be able to do this with her since a couple days later she came down with pneumonia. Fortunately she isn’t in the hospital and now she’s on the track of recovery. We had a nice moment together and enjoyed the result of our work.

I adapted this recipe from, once again, Betty Bossi’s Swiss Cookbook. The original recipe called for cheese instead of chicken and the dip was a combination of crème fraiche and the premade sweet chilli sauce. So, except for the idea, I went ahead .did it according to my taste and was really satisfied with the result. It takes a little time to prepare these spring rolls but it’s a fun activity and I loved the taste.

Chicken Sauerkraut Spring rolls with Mustardy Dip

 

Chicken Sauerkraut Spring Rolls with a Mustardy Dip

 

Recipe for 12 Spring Rolls

Prep time: 30-35 min

Cook time: 18-20 min

 

Ingredients

For the spring rolls:

240 g chicken breast(s)

250 g cooked sauerkraut

4 sheets filo pasty

50-60 g melted butter

1 tbsp. rapeseed oil

salt and pepper

For the dip:

100 g sour cream

2 tsp. mustard

1 tsp. honey

2 tbsp. chopped spring onions

 

Recipe

Cut the chicken into thin strips and season with salt and pepper. Heat one tbsp. rapeseed oil and add the chicken to brown for 4-5 min. Once done remove from the pan and set aside.

Heat oven at 200°C.

Take the sauerkraut place it in a tea towel, fold it and press out excess moisture.

Take one sheet of filo pastry and brush it with butter, take a second sheet of filo pastry and place it on top of the first one so that they stick together. Cut the double filo sheets in half lengthwise and then divide each half into three equal parts.

Take one of the cut pieces of filo pastry; add about one tbsp. of the chicken strips and one tbsp. of the sauerkraut. Take two opposing corners and fold them towards the centre. Take the corner that is nearest to you and fold that too; now roll the spring roll towards the last corner. Place the spring roll (join side down) on a baking tray lined with wax paper. Repeat with the rest of the other filo pastry squares. Restart the procedure with the second set of filo pastry.

Quite generously brush the spring rolls with melted butter and cook in the oven for about 15 min.

Meanwhile prepare the dip by mixing all the ingredients together. Serve with the spring rolls still warm from the oven.

Goat Cheese and Apple Endive Wraps

Endive Wraps with Goat Cheese and Apple This past week the weather has bending towards summer rather than spring and we have reached 27°C. Continue reading

Because of these temperatures I felt like having something seasonal but refreshing so I made these endive wraps. With a friend we enjoyed these wraps with a nice glass of wine; sitting on the (not so comfortable) wooden church benches on my terrace. It was great to feel the outdoor air only wearing a sweater. I had in mind of making some kind of lettuce wrap but instead I found some nice endive a took those instead. The tanginess of the endive leaves with the creamy goat cheese and the sweet but slightly sour apples are a combination I always enjoy. I added some walnuts chives and dried cranberries to complete the flavour.

Endive Wraps with Goat Cheese and Apple 1Endive Wraps with Goat Cheese and Apple Endive Wraps with Goat Cheese and Apple

Goat Cheese and Apple Endive Wraps

 

For 14 pieces

Prep time: 10 min

 

Ingredients

140 g goat cheese log

1 apple (I used braeburn)

3 tbsp chopped dried cranberries

4 tbsp chopped chives

3 tbsp chopped walnuts

4 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

Salt and pepper

14 endive leaves

 

Recipe

Cut the goat cheese into cubes of a small centimetre. Peel and core the apple and cut into cubes the same size as the goat cheese.

Place the cheese and apples in a bowl; add the dried cranberries, the chives, the walnuts and mix.

In another bowl mix the olive oil, the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add ¾ of the dressing to goat cheese and apple and mix. Fill the endive leaves with this mix and drizzle the rest of the dressing on top them.

Serve as an appetizer.

Rustic Gougères (Cheese Puffs) with Alpine Cheese and Chives

Rustic Gougères (Cheese Puffs) with Alpine Cheese and ChivesLately what I crave most is some sun. Between snow, cloudy weather and rain (like now) I can say I’ve had enough. When it’s like this I tend to not only crave for the sun but also for some cheese. Continue reading

I was doing my groceries yesterday and I saw some alpine cheese which resembles Gruyere cheese but it has a stronger herbal taste. It was a good chunk and when I got home I looked among my books to find something I could do with it. In my old cookbook for students I found a Gougère recipe and decided to give it a try. This recipe follows the method used to make the “pâte à choux” but contains cheese. In my first attempt I followed the recipe but I shaped the dough into a crown. In the oven it looked great but once I removed it, it began looking like a deflated plastic swimming pool. Before else I went online to look for tips to get it right. I learned that by leaving the “Gougères” in the switched off oven for a few minutes prevents them from deflating (the recipe is in French: www.marmiton.org ). I went on and gave it a second try but instead of the crown I decided to make puffs and to follow the tip I had found: the result was much more satisfying this time.
Rustic Gougères (Cheese Puffs) with Alpine Cheese and Chives Rustic Gougères (Cheese Puffs) with Alpine Cheese and Chives Rustic Gougères (Cheese Puffs) with Alpine Cheese and Chives Rustic Gougères (Cheese Puffs) with Alpine Cheese and Chives Rustic Gougères (Cheese Puffs) with Alpine Cheese and Chives

 

Rustic Gougères (Cheese Puffs) with Alpine Cheese and Chives

 

Makes about 38 puffs

Prep time : 22 min

Cook Time: 35 min

 

Ingredients:

2.5 dl water

75 g butter

4 eggs

150 g flour

150 g grated Gruyère cheese or similar kind

2 tbsp chopped chives

Salt and pepper

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 200°C.

Place the water, the butter and a pinch of salt in a pan and bring to a boil. Remove from fire and add the flour all at once. Mix energetically and replace on a low heat for about 1 minute stirring to further remove moisture. Turn heat off and leave the dough aside to cool a little.

Once the dough has cooled integrate the eggs one at the time. You can do this process either using your hands or even better with an electric mixer. If the dough is falls off the spatula but is not liquid, the consistency is right.  Add the cheese, the chives and pepper and mix again.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper and with the help of a couple of teaspoons make little balls the size of a large walnut. Just be careful not to place the balls too near between them.  Leave them in the oven for 25 minutes. Turn off the oven but leave the cheese puffs in for 5 minutes with the oven door slightly open.

Take them out and eat them warm or cold, filled with whatever you like (vegetables, ham, chicken…) for lunch  or first course or like this, as an appetizer.

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.

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.

 

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.

Cheese Nest Bites 4_renamed_26258
Cheese Nest Bites 5_renamed_3103 

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.

 

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.

Beetroot Dip 1Beetroot Dip 7

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.

Smoked Salmon Appetizer

Smoked Salmon AppetizerI am such a huge fan of finger food that I could eat this way at every meal. Come to think of it, I have been eating like this the past week or two. Continue reading

I have been going out quite often with my friends and when it’s not something spontaneous we eat at each other’s places, there’s always someone bringing either more food or wine and we enjoy to taste the whole lot. Now I don’t  know if it’s because we are southern women but there is always so much food. This time we had dinner at my place and I thought that making some light starter would be good because the main dish was oven melted Vacherin with boiled potatoes (which is delicious but quite nutritious, if anyone wants to know I can post this super easy recipe).

Melted Vacherin (800 x 666)

My idea for the appetizer was a dip with some crostini and crudités and this week’s recipe, which I had not yet prepared when they arrived (fortunately). With what they brought I could have welcomed three more guests. Michela is an old friend of mine and with her companion the make amazing cheese up in the mountains so she brought me some of her products which we shared. Then my Italian friends Simona and Monica arrived and they brought a spicy salami from their country, some goat kebabs (called ‘rostelle’) and some bread like rings (I forgot their name). When I saw the situation I placed the salmon back in the fridge. A couple of days past and finally I had the time to spend an evening of relax. I made them the way I intended to in the beginning and enjoyed them while reading a book and with some music to keep me company.

Salmon Balls 5

 

Smoked Salmon Appetizer

Makes about 10 balls – 3-4 people

Prep time: 15 min

 

Ingredients:

120 smoked salmon (preferably all in one fillet)

10-12 dry roasted almonds

1 tbsp chopped parsley

1 small onion

1 ½ tsp prepared horseradish

2 tsp sour cream

1 small tbsp lemon juice

Salt and pepper

Olive oil (optional)

 

Recipe:

Cut the salmon into tiny pieces (like for a tartar) and place in a bowl.

Salmon Balls 9

Thinly chop the almonds and the onion and add them to the salmon with the parley the horseradish, sour cream, the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Mix the ingredients together.

With a teaspoon scoop a bit of the preparation and roll to form a small ball. Drizzle with a little olive oil.  Serve alone or with some bread. Just remember the napkins…

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.