29-08-2015 The Day We Said Yes & A Welcome to Autumn

29-08-2015 The Day We Said Yes & A Welcome to Autumn

The reason I took a break last week is because on the 29th of August we got married! 😀

Continue reading

Since I still had guests from away that stayed home I decided to dedicate my attention to them…besides the fact that I really needed some rest from all the pre-wedding stress and the partying (the night before the big event I only slept four hours). I can only say that the day exceeded my expectations as we had such an incredible time, ambience and weather: a day made of all the flavours of love. Here are just a few of the pictures from a wedding in southern Switzerland.

 

Since our wedding occurred on the last actual weekend of real summer weather and now we’re gently slipping into autumn I decided to welcome the new season by cooking something with butternut squash. A nice casserole/gratin always makes me happy and with cooler evenings it’s a dish that works well. I wanted the flavours to “marry” well together. After consulting my Flavour Thesaurus from Nikki Segnit I decided to use some goat cheese and rosemary to accompany the butternut squash and potatoes. I decided to lightly roast the potatoes and butternut before baking them in the oven, this added some extra flavour to the dish. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.

 

Butternut Potato Gratin with Goat Cheese and Rosemary

 

 

 

Butternut Potato Gratin with Goat Cheese and Rosemary

Recipe for 4-6

Prep time: 20-25 min

Cook time: 40-45 min

 

Ingredients:

500 g waxy potatoes

500 g butternut squash

1 tbsp. chopped rosemary leaves

2 garlic cloves

Cayenne pepper

1.5 dl milk

200 g sour cream (I used ½ fat)

1 egg

100 g grated hard goat cheese

1 tbsp. vegetable oil (+ extra to grease baking dish)

Salt and pepper

 

Recipe:

Peel the potatoes cut them into 2 cm pieces. Bring a pan filled with salty water to a boil and cook the potatoes until they’re soft. Once they’re ready drain them.

Meanwhile cut the butternut squash into 2 cm pieces, too. Pass the garlic through a garlic crusher.

On a medium fire, in a non-stick pan heat 1 tbsp. vegetable oil and add the potatoes and butternut pieces to brown. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste. Toss regularly. After about 10 minutes add the rosemary and garlic and continue cooking for another 5-10 min.

In a bowl combine the sour cream, milk and the egg and mix all together.

Grease a baking dish and transfer the vegetables, on top sprinkle the grated goat cheese and finally pour the milk, sour cream and egg mixture.

Cook in a preheated oven at 220°C for 15-20 min.

Apple Cake

Apple Cake Geographically and historically speaking, Switzerland shares cultural traits with its surrounding countries and sometimes the boundaries are blurred, and this is true especially when it comes to gastronomy. Continue reading

I always thought this kind of apple cake was German; instead there is also a part in Switzerland where it’s considered to be a typical recipe. For this blog post I adapted the recipe from the Suisse Gourmande cookbook which attributes the recipe to Canton Thurgau and which is actually geographically placed just next to the German border. Anyway, I love this kind of cake, no matter where it comes from and Since last week I’ve already made it twice: once with apples and once with pears.

Apple Cake Apple Cake

 

Apple Cake

 

Recipe for a 24 cm cake tin

Prep time: 25-30 min

Cook time: 35-40 min

 

Ingredients:

125 g butter cut into small cubes (+ more to grease the cake tin)

125 g sugar (+ a few tbsp. to dip the apples in)

2 eggs

Juice of ½ lemon

1 vanilla pod (optional)

1 tbsp. yoghurt

5 g raising powder

200 g flour

½ tsp. salt

500 g small-medium apples (about 3-4)

 

Recipe

Heat oven at 180°C.

Grease the cake tin with butter.

Break the eggs, place the egg whites in a bowl and keep the yolks aside. Whisk the egg whites to a peak.

In a bowl cream the butter and the sugar. Incise the vanilla pod (if using it), scrape the seeds out and add them to the butter and sugar. Add the two yolks, the flour, raising powder, salt, lemon and yoghurt. Mix until well combined, then add the whisked albumen and fold it in gently.

Spread the batter at the bottom of the cake tin.

Peel the apples and cut them in half. With each half, make deep incisions on the rounded part and dip that same side in sugar.

Place the apples on the batter slightly pressing them down.

Bake in the oven for 35-40 min.

 

Chicken, Butternut and Chestnut Pan Fry

Chicken Butternut and Chestnut Pan Fry
That’s it; autumn has officially started a couple of days ago. Continue reading

Today I noticed that even the cows have come down from the alps for the cold  and grassless months to come. By the way, don’t you like it when colours start shifting, evenings get a little colder and it’s time to restart taking advantage of the fireplace (if you have one)? I love this; it’s such a cosy time of the year. To celebrate the beginning of this new season, I wanted to make a recipe that contained some of the autumn staples; in this case they are butternut squash and chestnuts. To make this recipe I went to check on Niki Segnit’s The Flavour Thesaurus and, although I already know the book pretty well by now, I found that rosemary worked well with the butternut squash and the chestnuts. I had this dish with some fresh bread but you can accompany it with either potatoes, spaetzle or pasta…

Chicken Butternut and Chestnut Pan Fry

Chicken, Butternut and Chestnut Pan Fry

 

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 25 min

 

 

Ingredients:

4 chicken breasts

1 onion

500 g butternut squash cut into 2-3 cm chunks

120 g cooked chestnuts

1 tbsp. chopped rosemary leaves

4 dl chicken or vegetable stock

1,2 dl cream

3-4 tbsp. rapeseed oil

Cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper

 

Recipe:

Cut the chicken into regular chunks of 2-3 cm pieces and season them with salt and pepper. Heat 1-2 tbsp. oil in a pan; add the chicken to brown on all sides on a medium-high fire. Once done, remove from the pan and set aside.

Chop the onion and using the same pan cook with 1-2 tbsp. oil on a low-medium heat until translucent, about 5-7 min. Raise the heat a little, add the pumpkin, season with a little salt pepper and brown on all sides.

Add back the chicken with the rosemary, the cayenne pepper (up to taste) and the chestnuts, cook further for another minute or so and then add the stock. Let it reduce to about half stirring form time to time.

Pour in the cream and stir to combine with the reduced stock. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, correct taste with salt and/or pepper if needed and serve.

 

 

Cocoa and Chestnut Muffins

Cocoa and Chestnut Muffins I always like it when a season ends and the next comes up, don’t you? Continue reading

Colours are changing, days are shorter and even if it’s still warm the autumn air and feel is more and more present. The past couple of weeks I have been craving foods like pumpkin soup, fire roasted chestnuts, game meat with spaetzle and on a cold and rainy night I could even go for a fondue… According to this mood I decided to make these cocoa and chestnut muffins. For this recipe I took as a basis Michael Ruhlman’s muffin recipe in his book Ratio. From there I adapted the recipe according to the ingredients I was using. I find that muffins are a friendly food and when I make some I always give at least half of them away. This time, I shared my muffins with my mother and her boyfriend, I brought them when they invited me for dinner last Sunday.

Cocoa and Chestnut MuffinsCocoa and Chestnut Muffins

Cocoa and Chestnut Muffins

 

Cocoa and Chestnut Muffins

 

Recipe for 12 muffins

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 20-25 min

 

Ingredients:

190 g flour (+ more for dusting)

150 g brown sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 eggs

2.3 dl milk

100 g soft butter (+ more to grease the muffin tin)

1 tbsp. cocoa

1 vanilla pod

70g chopped cooked chestnuts

Icing sugar

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 190°C.

Grease the muffin tin with some butter and dust it with flour.

In a bowl add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Incise the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds. In a second bowl mix the milk, vanilla seeds and the butter. Once the three ingredients are well combined add the eggs and whisk again.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and stir until just combined. Fold in the chopped chestnuts and pour the mix in the muffin tin. Gently tap the muffin tim on a surface to make any bubbles come to the surface.

Place in the oven for 20-25 min. Check for doneness with a tooth pick. Remove from the oven and leave them for 3-5 min. Take the muffins out of their moulds and dust them 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…

Swiss Onion Pie (Boelletuenne)

33.Onion Pie -1 (800 x 600)

No need to say that I cried a lot this week ; cutting all those onions was some task. Lately I keep on going back to my mother’s Swiss recipe book and I try to make these same recipes but with my own touch. Continue reading

Switzerland is a big mix of influences coming from the bordering countries and this is many cultural and traditional traits which comprehend the food culture. This onion pie comes from the canton of Schaffhausen. Traditionally it calls for diced bacon and it doesn’t contain cheese, only cream and eggs. I thought it would be an idea to turn it vegetarian as not all of my acquaintances eat bacon.  I made this pie the first time according to the traditional recipe but I found that without blind baking, the crust ended up to be a bit wet and not cooked all the way. My second try went better except that I must have been dreaming while the pie crust was in the oven because it ended up being a bit darker than I had planned; as you can see in the picture…

To avoid saying that this is not something one would eat when on a diet ; I’ll say that this recipe brings energy and heat for the colder months. I guess that serving a nice salad with it is a good idea as it brings a little lightness to the meal.

About the onion :

It is believed that the onion comes from central Asia and that it is one of the earliest vegetables cultivated (about 3500 years ago). By its resistance to different weather conditions it is easy to see why its cultivation spread to the rest of the world and why so many civilizations made use of it. The onion was the symbol of intelligence in ancient China ; the Egyptians  made a large use of it and the Romans exported it to the north of the Alps. Very much appreciated and popular during the Middle ages it has conserved its reputation up to today (sources in French and Italian : www.legumes.ch and www.cookaround.com).

33. Onion Pie (800 x 738)

Swiss Onion Pie

For a 28-30 cm cake pan

Prep time : 15 min

Cooking time : 55 min

 

Ingredients :

Pie crust pastry recipe for a pie dish 28-30 cm (or use a store bought one) :

100 g white flour

100 g wholemeal flour

100 g butter

½ tsp salt

 

For the onion pie filling:

500 g onion

1 tbsp butter

Salt and pepper

2 dl cream

2 eggs

¼ tsp grated nutmeg

60 g Gruyere

 

Pie pastry recipe :

In a bowl mix the two types of flour, and the salt.

Cut the butter into cubes and place it with the flour mix. Rub the butter with the flour until the preparation has a sand like appearance. Lightly knead the dough and leave to rest for 20 min.

Once the dough has rested roll it out.

 

The following steps also apply to a store bought dough :

Heat oven at 200°C

Place the dough in a greased pie dish and incise it with a fork.

Place a sheet of baking paper on the dish and fill it with rice, beans or those specially made chains and place in the oven to blind bake for 15 minutes.

Filling :

Cut the onions in half and slice them.

Heat the butter in a pan and add the onions. Cook until they have become translucent. Set aside and leave to cool.

In a bowl put the cream, the egg the nutmeg, the salt and the cheese and mix together.

Take the blind baked pie crust and place the onions at the bottom. On top pour the cream preparation and place in the oven for 30 min or until the top is brown. Serve hot.

Chestnut Waffles

fr_394

Autumn is now here and I don’t know about you but I crave those product that come with the colder weather. I am obsessed about foods such as mushrooms, cabbage, grape, creamy  and/or cheesy food  just to mention a few and not to forget chestnuts. Continue reading

Chestnuts also have a sentimental side to them. When I was small, with my mother we would go walk our dogs (a Pointer and a Yorkshire) in the woods just behind our home. Complete with a bag each, we’d stop every few steps to pick up the brown smooth shelled fruits. Once back we would light the fireplace, grab the chestnut pan; incise the chestnuts and get them roasting on a live fire with a humid cloth over them. Once they were nicely charred we would open the shell and taste the chestnuts while giggling and chatting while sitting near the fireplace which warmed our backs. Reminiscing those good times led me to the idea of this week’s recipe. So last Sunday I went down to the cellar and grabbed my (vintage) waffle iron and tried this recipe out. To begin with, I had a classic waffle recipe at home in the form of a little piece of paper stuck in one of my mother’s recipe notebook but I was not sure about the right ratio to combine the chestnuts into the batter. I put the recipe aside and went online. What I found as a good base for my recipe were the Pumpkin Waffles recipe from smittenkitchen.com. In the end I made a combination of my old recipe with the one I found on the net and it turned out to be good match. I made these chestnut waffles twice because the first time, besides forgetting the baking powder, I also forgot to grease the surface of the waffle iron (the result was a shredded waffle all over the waffle iron). On the second try I didn’t skip any step and I added just a bit more sugar and the story ended in a delicious experience. The plus is that waffles leave a good memory of their passage… there was such a sweet smell around the house that would put anyone in a joyful mood.

 

About the chestnut:

In Italian we call them “castagne” which comes from the Latin word “Castanea”. The origin of the tree originates from the Caucasus and it spread from there. The tree of the chestnut was much appreciated by the Romans for its fruits and for the quality of its wood which was optimal for weatherproof constructions. It is easy to imagine how useful the chestnut tree and its fruits was to the people who lived in places like my valley; the cultivation of wheat was either just enough to subsist or scarce after a bad season. The first  positives of the chestnut is that it grows up to heights of 1000 meters (making it grow also on the northern side of the Alps). The second positive is that the amount of calories provided was higher that the common cultivated grains. One of the very common ways to consume chestnuts was by transforming it into flour. It is for this reason that it is called “the tree of the poor’s bread” (source in Italian: http://www.strazzini-marroni.ch/it/cms-storia/storia.html)

 

Chestnut Waffles

fr_398

 

fr_397

Makes about  12 waffles

Prep time : 15 min

Cook time : about 2 min per waffle

Total time:  about 40 min

 

Ingredients :

 

1 vanilla pod

160g T80 flour

200g vacuum-packed chestnuts

50g sugar

1tsp baking powder

2 eggs

300ml buttermilk

50g butter

¼ tsp salt (+ one pinch for the egg whites)

 

Recipe :

In one bowl mix the dry ingredients  together : the flour, the sugar, the baking powder and the salt.

Put the chestnuts in a blender and reduce it to a puree. Open the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape out the seeds of both sides.

Separate the eggs and add the yolk to the buttermilk, the vanilla seeds and the mashed chestnuts.

Heat the waffle iron (a higher heat is better because the waffles will have a nicer outside crust).

Add the wet mix to the dry one. Mix but not for long, don’t worry it if doesn’t look too smooth.

Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form peaks. Add them to the rest of the ingredients and gently incorporate them. Here again it is better not to overwork the batter.

Once the waffle iron is hot grease the surface with either cooking spray or a neutral tasting oil such as rapeseed. Place the batter in the middle of it and lightly spread it out. For my heart shaped waffles I needed about 2 ½ scoops per shape. Close the machine and wait a couple of minutes or until the vapour had almost stopped coming out (of course if your waffle iron has a timer use that, unlike mine which could belong to a vintage range). Serve.

Serving suggestions: honey and hazelnuts, whipped cream, chocolate, maple syrup, vanilla ice cream…