One Pan Alpine Pasta

One Pan Alpine PastaI love one-pan dishes, I find them fun, easy to make and no chance of towering up dishes in the sink which will have to be cleaned after the meal! I made this dish for my mother and myself one day we were running short of time but now that I’ve tried it, I’d totally remake it for an evening between friends, maybe with a nice platter of dried meat as a starter and a nice glass of wine (the latter is not a “maybe”). I found the base for this recipe in my Swiss Cooking book (by Alfred Haefeli) and adapted it in order to make it become a one-pan dish to save time and clean kitchenware.

Tip: To make this recipe a little lighter, instead of using whole milk I used the half-fat kind and I found it didn’t affect the final result.

 

 

One Pan Alpine Pasta

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 5-7 min

Cook time: 15-20 min

 

Ingredients:

200g short pasta (choose a kind of pasta that takes between 12-15 min to cook, I used rigatoni)

500g peeled potatoes

1 large onion

1-2 garlic cloves

5 dl vegetable stock

1 dl milk

2 dl cream

1 tsp. cornstarch

200 g alpine cheese or Gruyere

Nutmeg

Pepper

 

Recipe:

Cut the potatoes into 2cm cubes and chop the onion and the garlic.

Place the pasta, potatoes, onion and garlic and in a pan.

In a small bowl place the cornstarch along with a little milk and mix until the combined.

Pour over the stock, milk, cream and diluted corn starch, nutmeg and pepper and bring to a rolling boil and leave to cook stirring occasionally until the pasta and potatoes are cooked and the whole become creamy. If needed reduce heat.

Meanwhile grate the cheese.

Once the ingredients are cooked through, remove the pan from the fire, add the grated cheese and mix. Should the cheese not be completely melted, add the pan back to the fire for a short moment while constantly stirring. Optionally sprinkle a little more pepper and serve.

Zurich Style Chicken Strips

Zurich Style Chicken StripsOur honeymoon is approaching but we haven’t chosen the destination yet. Will it be France and the castles of the Loire Valley or Scotland? Well, if someone wants to weigh in, opinions are more than welcome! Continue reading

While doing the groceries since I found some Swiss, fresh, organic button mushrooms so I thought I would give the “Zurich Geschnetzeltes” a try, but instead of using veal meat I used chicken. This meat with its creamy mushroom sauce is usually served with “Roesti” but a potato mash or some tagliatelle will be fine too. I took the recipe from the Swiss Cooking book I have from Alfred Haefeli.

Zurich Style Chicken Strips

 

Zurich Style Chicken Strips

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 15-20 mi

 

Ingredients:

2-3 tbsp. roasting butter

500 g chicken breasts

A large pinch flour

1 small onion, diced

200 g mushrooms (I used the chestnut kind)

1 tsp. lemon juice

1 dl white wine

1 dl vegetable stock

2 dl cream

1 tsp. cornstarch

1 bunch parsley

 

Recipe:

Finely chop the onion and the parsley, slice the mushrooms into ½ cm thick pieces and set all aside.

Cut the chicken breasts into 1.5-2 cm thick strips and season it with salt and pepper.

Over a high heat melt the butter in a pan and sear the chicken. Dust it with the flour, toss and set aside in a warm place.

Using the same pan, lower the fire, add more butter if needed and roast the onions and mushrooms for about 5 minutes tossing a couple of times. Add the lemon juice and the white wine and let it reduce to half of its volume.

In a bowl place the cornstarch, add a little cream and mix. Add the rest of the cream and the vegetable stock and then pour into the pan with the mushrooms and onions. Simmer until the sauce has thickened and add the chicken. Cook for another 2-3, add salt and pepper to taste and before serving sprinkle with the parsley.

Traditionally this dish is served with Roesti.

Creamy Leek Pie

Comforting Leek PieLast Saturday we had an evening among friends and guess who cooked?…me. Continue reading

I made some pulled pork, a broccoli salad and meringues with cream as a dessert. I guess this was my first “catering” experience as we brought all the food to Andy’s home and consumed it there. The three of us (Andy my fiancé and me) met at my place, packed everything and placed it in Andy’s car. While my fiancé was moving his car to park it to a better spot, we saw him stop abruptly: he had perforated his tyre. After a little hesitation we decided to change the tyre ourselves. It took us ten minutes to figure it out and twenty minutes to change it but I admit (as someone who doesn’t even have a driver’s licence) I learned something different that day. That night we went to bed at four and since, unlike Ste my fiancé I can’t sleep long in the morning, I decided to get busy in the kitchen and so I prepared this leek pie that we shared once he was released from Morpheus’ arms.

 

Comforting Leek Pie

 

Creamy Leek Pie

 

For a 28-30 cm pie mould

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 40-45 min

 

Ingredients:

330 g leeks

1 tbsp. butter

100 g sour cream

80 g ham (I used turkey ham)

130g grated Swiss cheese

1 tbsp. flour

2 dl milk

2 eggs

Nutmeg

1 tbsp. mustard

1 round short crust pastry (32 cm large)

Salt and pepper

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 220°C.

Cut the leeks into ½ cm thick slices.

Heat the butter in a medium non-stick pan; add the leeks, season with salt and pepper. Cook covered for 10 min on a medium fire until they have softened. Meanwhile cut the ham into cubes and add it to the leeks once they are done. Leave aside to cool a little.

In a bowl mix together the milk with the sour cream, the eggs, the flour and a little nutmeg.

Place the short crust in a baking dish, spread the mustard on the bottom and then pierce the dough more times with a fork.

Distribute the leeks and ham on top and follow with the grated cheese. Pour the milk, cream, and egg, flour mixture on top; make sure the liquid covers all the leeks. Sprinkle a little pepper on top and place the pie on the lower part of the oven for 30-35 min.

Potato Cauliflower Gratin


Cauliflower Potato Gratin Even if it comes to packing for a weekend, I always face the same dilemma: what will I wear? I always pack more than what I need and still end up wishing I had taken that white shirt, those brown pumps or that blue sweater…. Am I the only one in this position? Continue reading

Each time I look at the people traveling with me and, to me they feel more pragmatic in their packing choices. Would you believe that I make a packing list for the weekend? I really do, especially when I’m excited about the trip. Tomorrow with my boyfriend we’re going to Basel till Sunday. I’m really looking forward to it, we’ll attend the autumn fair (Herbstmesse) and I can’t wait to check it out. So let the dilemma begin. At least when I’m in the kitchen the situation is a little better because I actually like missing an ingredient or two: it’s a way to get creative. Fortunately for the potato and cauliflower gratin I had all the ingredients and the process was a smooth one.

Cauliflower Potato Gratin Cauliflower Potato Gratin

 

 

Potato Cauliflower Gratin

 

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 50-55 min

 

Ingredients:

340 g potatoes

300 g cauliflower

30 g butter

3 tbsp. flour

2 dl milk

2 dl vegetable stock

Nutmeg

60 g grated cheese

Pepper

 

Recipe

Heat oven at 200°C.

Cut the potatoes into 3 cm chunks; place them in salted boiling water and cook until done.

Cut the cauliflower into florets (roughly the same size as the potatoes) and blanch them by boiling them for 3 minutes.

Once the potatoes and cauliflowers are ready place them in a greased baking dish.

Melt the butter in a pan and add the flour while constantly whisking. After about five minutes start adding the milk little by little. Once it has thickened, do the same with the stock. Add a little freshly grated nutmeg, stir a last time and remove from heat. Add 2/3 of the cheese and stir again to melt it in. Pour the white sauce on the potatoes and cauliflower making sure it coats all of the vegetables. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and place in the oven for 20-25 min, until golden brown. Remove from oven and leave for a few minutes before serving.

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.

Broccoli Gorgonzola and Walnut Pasta Bake + My Day at Gusta il Borgo 2013 event

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As I mentioned last week, last Saturday I attended the enogastronomic walk “Gusta in Borgo 2013” Continue reading

which is an event organised by the association of the “Amis da la Forcheta” ( the term is in our Italian derived dialect and in English it translates as the “friends of the fork” ). I was really looking forward to the event and I was so right. I met up with my boyfriend Stefano and an old friend of ours Andreas for coffee before we headed to the departure point. We were among the last ones to depart so the sun was already up and it was warm. Throughout the walk there were nine spots where we enjoyed all kinds of treats: from coffee and a filled croissant, to beer and scrambled eggs and bacon, to cheese and wine, fried fish and veggies, risotto…

Here are a few pictures of the day. We walked through the nine stops with our little bags containing the tasting glass which was to be pulled out each time we saw a tent and a bunch of people around it. My advice is that if you have the possibility to attend such an event, it is really worth participating; there is a great ambience, you encourage local products and walking is good for the mind and the body. In case there is nothing in your area, come and join Gusta il Borgo next year!

These were my two adventure companions.

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 This was the second stop where we tasted local beer with scrambled eggs and bacon. I don’t really drink beer but this one was an exception, it had a refined taste and the gas comes from natural fermentation. IMG_0828

 

The third stop was a bit of a walk and with the sun hitting it was warm but the reward was worth the effort, at least this is the way I see it. My friend Andreas (in the blue shirt) instead could have done with having a taxi driving him from one stop to the other.

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This spot was in the middle of the town of Ascona. We Had some more wine and goat cheese with a raw pumpkin carpaccio and goat cheese dried meat.

 

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This stop I particularly liked because the products came from my valley (Valle Maggia) and behind the counters I found some acquaintances.

 

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Venison tartar, venison dried meat and a small dark bread roll.

 

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This is the Terreni alla Maggia and among other products they produce rice (they have the northernmost rice cultivation in Europe). We had a simple but delicious risotto.

 

 

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This is how our beautiful day went. At the arrival we had one more drink and we headed to my place and ended the day with the same tastin glass that had accompanied us throughout the day. The only difference was the content…

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About the pasta bake:

The pasta bake is an ancient recipe which dates back to the middle ages. In the beginning the dish was served at banquets but soon the recipe spread out to the general population and still today is it seen as a festive dish in Italy. There is no basic recipe and the dish is subject to personal taste and the available ingredients (source http://thepaddingtonfoodie.com/2013/02/13/pasticcio-di-pasta-al-forno-a-pasta-bake-by-any-other-name/ ).

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Broccoli Gorgonzola and Walnut PastaBake-1 (800 x 598)

 

Broccoli Gorgonzola and Walnut Pasta Bake

 

Recipe for 2

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 30 min

Ingredients :

160g short pasta (fusilli, penne…)

160g of small broccoli florets

1 onion

1 knob of butter + more for greasing the baking dish and to sprinkle on top of the pasta bake

a pinch freshly grated nutmeg

1 tsp flour

100g Gorgonzola

6 tbsp cream, it shouldn’t be too liquid

Salt and pepper

1 tbsp breadcrumbs

1 tbsp grated Parmesan

12 walnut kernels, chopped

 

Recipe :

Heat oven at 200°C

Cook the pasta until almost ready that is make it very al dente. Towards the last 3-4 of the cooking process throw in the broccoli florets to blanch. Set aside.

Chop the onion and cut the Gorgonzola into cubes.

In a pan melt the butter, add the onion and sweat for 4-5 min. Cook on a medium heat until the onion is translucent. Reduce the heat and add the cream, the flour, the grated nutmeg, the pepper and the Gorgonzola . Stir occasionally until the cheese has melted, about 4-5 min . Taste and add salt if needed. Add the pasta to the pan and mix it in the sauce.

Grease an oven proof dish and add the pasta. On top sprinkle the grated Parmesan, the breadcrumbs and the chopped walnut kernels. Sprinkle a few bits of butter on top and place in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until the surface is nice and brown. Serve hot.

Creamy Leeks with Potato Cakes

Creamy leeks with potato cakesWhen spring is not in full blow yet, it can still be cold outside and that’s when I feel like having some nice creamy food but something not too heavy. So yesterday my mother came over and I cooked something I knew she’d like because of the leeks. Leeks are in a lot of traditional dishes among them is my mother’s delicious Swiss Papet Vaudois: a soup (leeks and potatoes) which is basically reduced and served with the traditional cabbage sausage from the Canton Vaud. Anyhow leeks have been around for a long time and the Roman emperor Nero was known to consume a lot of the vegetable.
Continue reading

Nero is an interesting character and there are a events in his life which are still a mystery today (like did he set Rome on fire? More and more historians say he didn’t but there’s no definite answer). One aspect of his life which we know is that he loved performing so much that he identified himself with the god Apollo; who is in fact the god of music and poetry. Because Nero loved being on stage it is said that he ate a lot of leeks in order to clear his voice (www.fr.wikipedia.org).


Potato cakes with creamy leeks

For 2 people

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cooking Time: 18 mins


Ingredients:

-4 floury potatoes

-2tbsp olive oil

-1 onion

-2 leeks

-80g bacon or pancetta cut in small pieces

-1tsp thyme

-white wine

-crème fraiche

-Salt and pepper


Recipe:

Peel and grate the potatoes with a grater with large holes. Quickly rinse under water and then remove the most liquid by pressing it. I used a colander. Add salt and pepper.

Make four patties with the potatoes. Heat oil in a non-stick pan on medium/high heat and add the potato cakes. Leave them 10 min to brown on one side and the turn them for another 8-10 minutes.

In a pan cook the bacon until crisp. Once ready remove the bacon from the pan and place aside. Wipe the pan.

While the potatoes are browning thinly chop the onion; cut the leeks in half and then into about 1.5 cm parts.

Heat one tsp olive oil in the pan previously used for the bacon, on a medium heat and add the onions to brown for about 3 minutes. Then add the leeks and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 7-10 minutes or until soft. At the last moment add the sour cream and mix.

Serve the potato cakes and on top place the leeks