Apple Tart with Crunchy Almonds

Apple Tart with Crispy Almonds

I’m back! I hope everyone had a nice winter holiday, if you were lucky, you might even have had some snow; unfortunately here in Switzerland we craved and waited for it, but it only arrived the day we travelled back. The car had more fun with the snow than we did… Continue reading

Back home, I don’t know about you, but after the holiday season, which is filled with elaborated and not so light dishes, I like to go back to some simplicity and this apple tart (with a little twist) was a great way to satisfy my sweet tooth. This is the kind of recipe I would usually serve during an easy evening, for example with my girlfriends; I cut it up into bite size pieces and place it in the middle of the table, this way my everyone eats the amount they want, I find it’s a friendly way of serving dessert, and between chats and sips you see it progressively disappearing.

Because almonds work great with apples, I looked for an alternative to what I usually do, which is spreading them in ground form under the fruit; I found this crispy topping idea here and applied it to my recipe and I really liked the end result, its taste and its consistency.

Apple Tart with Crispy Almonds

 

Apple Tart with Crunchy Almonds

 

Serves 8

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 20 min

 

Ingredients:

A 25×42 cm puff pastry sheet

3 baking apples like boskoop

100 g slivered almonds

60 g sugar

2 tbsp. milk

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 220°C.

Toast the almonds in a dry non-stick pan over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes, toss regularly until lightly browned; transfer into a bowl.

Core the apples and pass them through a slicer. I left the skin on, it’s more rustic and it has added nutritional value.

Spread the puff pastry out on a baking tray and spread over the apples by overlapping them by half.

Add the butter, sugar and milk to the frying pan over medium heat. When the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted, bring to the boil continue cooking for 1 minute. Add the almonds and mix well before turning into the pastry case. Without waiting, evenly spread the caramelized almonds over the apples.

Bake for 15 minutes in the middle of the oven. Serve warm or at room temperature, maybe with some vanilla ice cream.

 

 

Light Sweet Potato Gratin

Light Sweet Potato GratinLooking for new ways to make dishes I like but in a lighter version, I came across this gratin recipe (in French) and decided to give it a try. Continue reading

What I liked about this gratin is that its lightness makes it a dish you can also easily throughout the whole year; even when temperatures rise and you don’t want to eat something too heavy. In my version of the recipe I used sweet potatoes instead of regular ones as they deliver more nutritionally. What I liked about this recipe was its consistency, the potatoes just melted in my mouth. Also, as I can be a little lazy, I loved how you just throw everything in a baking dish and the oven basically takes care of the rest.

Light Sweet Potato Gratin Light Sweet Potato Gratin

 

Light Sweet Potato Gratin

 

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 50 min

 

Ingredients:

1 kg peeled sweet potatoes

2 dl milk (eventually more if needed)

150 g low fat cream cheese

Salt and pepper

A small pinch nutmeg

1-2 garlic cloves

Butter to grease baking dish

50 g grated cheese (I used Gruyere)

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 170° C

Thinly slice the potatoes using a slicer or a knife.

In a bowl mix the milk and the cream cheese together and add salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pass the garlic cloves through a garlic crusher, add them to the bowl and mix again.

Grease a baking dish with the butter and arrange the potatoes in layers. Pour on top the cream cheese and milk mix. Because the sweet potatoes tended to curl up, I covered the gratin with oven paper and put a small lid on it (another type of weight works as well).

Bake for 25 min in the middle of the oven, remove the lid and paper and sprinkle the grated cheese on top. If the gratin looks a little dry add a little more milk. Bake for another 25-30 min uncovered. Once the top has a nice brown colour and the sweet potatoes are nice and soft remove from the oven and serve.

 

Simple Almond Puff Pastries

Simple Almond Stuffed Pastry Usually I don’t eat much sugar, but then there are the less usual times like breakfast time after a night out. Continue reading

So on Sunday while Mr. was sleeping I prepared these puff pastries, which are inspired by a Swiss pie from Canton Glarus. Well, they are partly inspired because the pie usually contains 2 fillings: one half of the pie is filled with an almond paste while the other has a dried prune filling. Choosing only the first filling I made hand sized treats by adapting the recipe I have in my Betty Bossi Swiss Cooking book. The great thing is that if you have some puff pastry waiting to be used, this is a really easy recipe that isn’t overly sweet. At least I get Mr. to eat some nuts by combining it with his passion for sweet food.

 

 

Simple Almond Puff Pastries

 

Recipe for 8 pieces

Prep time: 25 min

Cook time: 20 min

 

 

Ingredients:

16 rounds butter puff pastry of about 8.5 cm diameter (a can of sliced pineapples has this size)

150 g ground skinless almonds

2 tbsp. melted butter

2 tbsp. lemon juice

2-3 tbsp. water

1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest

60 g sugar

Icing sugar

 

Recipe

Heat oven at 200°C.

Prepare the almond filling by mixing the ground almonds, melted butter, lemon juice, water, lemon zest and sugar together.

Take one round and in the middle place about a tbsp. of almond mix in the centre. With the tip of your finger dab the edged with a little water. Take another round of puff pastry and place it on top of the first. With the help of a fork close the pastry by pressing on the edges to seal it. Poke a few holes (3-4) in the pastry a place on a parchment lined baking tray. Repeat with the other seven pieces.

Once all the pastries are ready place them in the lower part of the oven and cook for about 20 min, watch that the pastry doesn’t get too brown. Let the almond pastries cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar before serving.

Cheese and Onion Potato Cakes

Cheese and Onion Potato Cakes Today, after over a year and a half of cutting my hair by myself, I went to the hairdresser. Even if I compare the hairdresser to the dentist, I have to admit I needed it. The moment ended up not being that bad but since we chatted and time went by fast. What also went by too quickly was my once in a while perfectly blow-dried hair. Next time I shall have more clement weather. Once I got home, I was so hungry Continue reading

but I felt like having something comforting so with a salad, I had these cakes made with the leftover potatoes I had from the yesterday. These cake are so easy to make and it’s also a good way to use leftover potatoes.

Recipe adapted form: Betty Bossy’s Cheesy Potato Cakes ( from: The Swiss Cookbook )

Cheese and Onion Potato Cakes

 

 

Cheese and Onion Potato Cakes

 

Recipe for 12 cakes

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 20 min

 

Ingredients

500 g boiled and peeled potatoes

150 g grated Swiss cheese

2 eggs

2 onions (not too large)

Nutmeg

salt and pepper

 

Recipe

Heat oven at 200°C.

Roughly grate the onion and using a clean tea towel press out excess moisture. Grate the potatoes and place them in a bowl with the onion, add the cheese, the eggs, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mix all together well.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Shape 12 equal sized cakes and place them on the baking tray. Cook in the oven for about 20 min.

 

The Proposal and Arugula Spaetzle (or Spaetzli)

Arugula Spaetzle
As I wrote last Thursday, my boyfriend and I went to Basel for the weekend. I was quite looking forward to the trip but I wasn’t aware it would turn out to be such a memorable moment. Continue reading

We got there on Friday evening and went to the tapas restaurant we always end up going to. We always enjoy it and anyway, we were so hungry that I think anything would have gone down at that point. After dinner we picked up the dog that had stayed at the hotel and went for a walk. We reached the Mittlere Brücke, a place my boyfriend has been fond of since he was still a student there. We stopped there and that’s where he presented me a ring and asked me to marry him! My heart is beating faster even as I’m writing this. I’m so happy that I can’t contain myself. Well, I guess I don’t even need to tell you my response (which I shouted out while by passers looked at me awkwardly). Little after we went to celebrate with yet another bottle but this time it was champagne. We finished that bottle too, left the dog at the hotel and headed to a club where we danced among the students till three o’clock in the morning. The following day we were in a quite pitiful state and during most of the day we walked around like two zombies; sometimes I actually felt like it was the dog taking us for a walk. Our Saturday evening was quieter and after an aperitif with a tarte flambée we went for yet another round of tapas (we are animals of habit). Our Sunday consisted in traveling back home and getting some rest. What could someone expect more from a weekend? I’d say nothing. Soon we’ll start planning the main event, I want to share the experience. Besides posting recipes I also want to use this blog as a diary.

In the Swiss German part of Switzerland, spaetzli is something often eaten in this time of the year with game dishes. I find it’s something which works just as well with chicken or beef or vegetable… Since we were in Basel I though it would be an appropriate recipe to post. I adapted this recipe from the Swiss Cooking book (from Alfred Haefeli).

Arugula Spaetzle

Arugula Spaetzle

 

Arugula Spaetzle

 

Recipe for 4-6 as a side dish

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 30 min

 

Ingredients

300 g arugula

4 eggs

400 g flour

1 dl milk and water

0.5 dl water

1 tsp. salt

Butter

4 tbsp. dry roasted pine nuts

Grated Sbrinz cheese (alternatively use parmesan)

 

Recipe

Place the washed arugula in a pan and cook until they are soft. Place them in a strainer and press to remove excess moisture. Now, either finely chop them or, place in a food processor (like I did).

In a bowl mix and beat the flour, eggs, milk, water and salt with a wooden spatula until small bubbles form then, mix in the arugula. The consistence should be a little like a pancake batter, if it’s thicker just add a little water.

Fill a pan with high sides with salted water and bring to a boil.

If you have a spaetzle make use it by placing the batter on its surface and push down the mass so that it falls into the boiling water. Alternatively use a wooden board and form the spaetzle by scraping the surface with a knife and letting the dough drop into the water. Once the spatzle rise to the surface remove them with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl.

In a non stick pan melt some butter and add the spaetzle to brown on a high heat for a couple of minutes (you might have to do this in more batches). At the end add the pine nuts, toss place in a serving dish and sprinkle with the grated cheese.

 

 

Aubergine Piccata

Aubergine Piccata So yesterday I left early in the afternoon from home and had little time to prepare my lunch and so I made this aubergine piccata. Continue reading

After lunch I got ready and left for Locarno where my appointment to the doctor for my ankle was. I got there and the nurse at the desk looked at me without saying a word, I introduced myself and was very soon told that my appointment wasn’t for Monday but for Tuesday… It was my fault and I got mad at myself. I don’t like getting appointments wrong, don’t you? Despite throwing away an afternoon to get to the doctor and finding out I got the date wrong; at east I enjoyed my lunch.

Aubergine Piccata Aubergine Piccata

 

Aubergine Piccata

 

Recipe for 3-4

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 3-12 min

 

Ingredients:

1 Aubergine (350-400g)

3-4 tbsp. flour

80 g grated cheese (I used a firm goat cheese)

3 eggs

2 tbsp. chopped chives

salt

Olive oil or frying butter

 

In a bowl place the flour while in another place the eggs with the grated cheese and the chives.

Cut the aubergine into 0.5 cm thick slices and season them with salt on both sides.

Heat 1 tbsp. oil or butter in a pan.

Take an aubergine slice, coat it in the flour on both sides and then dip it into the egg, cheese and chive mix (make sure you get a good amount of the egg mix on the aubergine) and then place it straight into the pan. Repeat with the other slices and cook for 3-4 min on each side on a medium fire. You will probably need to do this in 2-3 batches so once the slices are done keep them warm in the oven at 70°C. Usually I serve this dish with a simple tomato sauce pasta.

 

Potato Galette

Potato Galette I’m always looking for side dishes I like and this recipe is one I’ll certainly be doing again. Continue reading

Besides liking the taste and its simplicity, I also like the way it looks. I found this recipe in one of my old Betty Bossi books. In the beginning I wasn’t sure about how to place the potatoes in the pan but it ended up being quite simple. I had this dish for lunch with my mother and we ate it with some simple roasted tomatoes, but this is just one of the many alternatives you could chose to serve it with: many kinds of meat, veggies, salad or even some melted cheese…

Potato Galette

Potato Galette

 

Recipe for 3-4 as a side dish

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 25 min

 

Ingredients:

450g waxy potatoes

1.5 tbsp. butter

¼ tsp. salt

Pepper

2-3 tsp. fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage or parsley…it’s up to you)

 

Recipe:

Thinly pass the potatoes through a slicer (electric or manual), place them in a bowl and season with the salt and pepper.

In a pan melt 1 tbsp. butter and coat the whole bottom with it. Remove from heat. Start adding the potatoes, they should widely overlap and end up making two layers in total. Personally I began from the centre and worked my way outwards making a spiral like shape.

Cover the potatoes and replace on the fire in a low heat to stew for 15 min. Remove the lid and increase the heat to medium high to colour the potatoes. After about 5 min turn the galette with the help of a lid or a plate and slide back into the pan. Add the rest of the butter around the potatoes, sprinkle the herbs on top and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve.

Vully Cake

Vully CakeA few months ago when I went to Lausanne with my mother we met up with her cousins. While we sipped a delicious wine in a pace overlooking the Leman lake I asked them about recipes that are typical from the French part of Switzerland. Continue reading

The first dish that came to mind to everyone is the “Papet Vaudois avec la Saucisse aux Choux” (slow cooked potatoes and leeks served with a cabbage sausage) which is the staple recipe of the canton. I wanted to learn about other dishes and that’s where this recipe was mentioned. I kept the idea in a corner of my head because I knew I would come back to it and in fact, a couple weeks ago I found this recipe and the following day, armed with the right ingredients I got down to work. Frankly I absolutely loved the result because personally I’m not a fan of oversweet food, when I have the feeling the sugar stays in my mouth, I only feel like taking one bite and leave the rest. I find that this cake can even work well for breakfast besides as a sweet treat, dessert or snack. By the way, this sweet version is the most common (sometimes also called the “Salée Sucrée” which literally means the “Salty Sugary”) but there is also the salty one where you add double cream (1.5 tbsp.), bacon (250g) and cumin (60g).

Vully Cake

Vully Cake

 

Vully Cake

 

Recipe for 2×30 cm diameter cake tins

Prep time: 20 min + resting time

Cook time: 10-12 min

 

Ingredients:

500 g flour

½ tsp salt

3.5 dl lukewarm milk

20g fresh yeast

80g melted butter (original recipe calls for 40g butter and 40g lard)

4 tbsp. double cream

4 tbsp. sugar

 

Recipe:

In a bowl sift the flour and add the salt. Mix them and make a well in the centre.

Dilute the yeast in 3 dl lukewarm milk and add it to the centre of the flour well along with the melted butter. Gently knead the dough for about 10 min until the preparation is soft and smooth (if the dough is too hard add the last 0.5 dl of milk).

Cover the dough and leave to rise for 45-50 minutes.

Divide the dough into two equal parts and smooth them out in the cake tins with your hands, cover and leave to rise for another 20 min.

Heat oven at around 270°C.

To make the borders pinch the edges while slightly turning your wrist. Prick the dough with a fork several times. Add 2 tbsp. double cream on each cake and spread it out evenly and as a final touch sprinkle the sugar on top. Bake in the oven for 10-12 min.

 

 

Zucchini and Quinoa Salad

Zucchini and Quinoa SaladI absolutely adore zucchini, don’t you? Continue reading

Besides loving their taste, especially when they’re grilled, health wise they have their good arguments and they are very low on calories. I know my calories because when I was twelve I became anorexic and in that process I learned about all the calories in basically all foods and among my favourites were zucchini, salad, cucumbers, tomatoes… They say that the mind retains what it considers important and these food facts have stuck to me more than the grammar rules that apply to the Italian language. In case anyone has questions about anorexia I would be glad to answer them, of course in the margins of my personal experience and knowledge. But today I’m here to talk about zucchini and this salad which is a healthy meal and my mother will agree with me since we enjoyed it together yesterday over a sunny lunch (an almost rare event this summer). The idea to cut the zucchini this way, I found it as I was going through the Betty Bossi site (in French or German) and, I thought it would look and taste nice in a salad (chunky vegetables have a texture I really like). The recipe I saw on the site served it with tomatoes but as I wanted to make this a main dish I replaced them with quinoa, onions, goat cheese and hazelnuts.

Zucchini and Quinoa Salad

Zucchini and Quinoa Salad

 

Recipe for 4 as a main meal or 8 as a starter

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 12-20 min

 

Ingredients:

4 small to medium zucchini

160 g quinoa

4 tbsp. olive oil + more to brush the zucchini

2 tbsp. hazelnut oil

2 tbsp. cider vinegar

salt and pepper

2 tbsp. chopped parsley

1 small red onion

100 g fresh goat cheese

1-handful hazelnuts (preferably dry roasted)

 

Recipe

After washing and drying the zucchini, cut them in half lengthwise and then, always lengthwise, cut each half into three equal parts. Brush the zucchini with olive oil. Heat a griddle pan (if you don’t have one use a normal one instead) and add the zucchini slices to colour on all sides on a medium fire. I did it in more batches and once a few pieces were ready, I seasoned with salt and set them aside.

Meanwhile cook the quinoa in two times its volume in water with a little salt for about 10 min. Should there be any, remove excess water.

For the dressing mix together the 4tbsp. olive oil, 2 tbsp. hazelnut oil, the 2 tbsp. cider vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add half of the dressing to the cooked quinoa along with the chopped parsley. Finely chop the onion and add it to the quinoa too.

Roughly chop the hazelnuts.

Place six zucchini strips on each plate, on top add the quinoa, now crumble the goat cheese before adding the hazelnuts. To finish, drizzle the remaining dressing on each dish.

Bell Pepper Cake

Bell Pepper Cake I was going through an old cookbook on regional cuisine (L’Arte Culinaria nel Ticino, from 1979) last Friday and I despite I like books with pictures, I like more and more what’s in it. Continue reading

I saw this super simple tomato cake recipe I wanted to try but instead of tomatoes I decided to use bell peppers and onions; they are less watery and I don’t have to use them whole, as written in the directions. Over here it’s the time of the film festival of Locarno and it’s an event I like because the region is filled with different nationalities from all over the world. You can see films the whole day long and in the evening it’s nice to go out because a lot of alternative places that open during this period. There are halls where you can watch movies but the most impressive place is under the stars, in the piazza Grande, where the whole square becomes a cinema. It’s so beautiful to see and since I didn’t take any pictures yet here is the link to the film festival: pardolive.ch. During the evening the weather got progressively worse so at one in the morning I decided to go home and leave my boyfriend and friends to face the rain. As I opened the door, I was so hungry that I didn’t even bother getting changed before having another bite of this cake. Wow, it helped my belly and made my sleep easier… although that might have been the wine 😉

Bell Pepper Cake Bell Pepper Cake Bell Pepper Cake

 

Bell Pepper Cake

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 1h

 

Ingredients

1 kg red and/or yellow bell peppers

2 onions

2-3 tbsp. olive oil

250 g flour

2,5 dl milk or cream

2 eggs

Butter

1 tbsp. chopped basil

1 tbsp. chopped parsley

Salt and pepper

 

Recipe

Heat oven at 240°C.

Wash the bell peppers, core, deseed and cut them into chunks of about 3 cm. Quarter the onions lengthwise, halve them and divide the layers. Grease a baking tin and add the vegetables with 2 tbsp. olive oil, salt, pepper and toss. Cook in the oven for 30-35 min (until the pepper are lightly charred); toss a couple of times. Once done remove form the oven and leave to slightly cool. In case you feel the bottom is a little dry, add another tbsp. olive oil and toss.

Reduce oven heat to 170°C (to speed the process leave the oven door slightly open).

Meanwhile prepare the batter by mixing the flour and milk together in a bowl. In another bowl beat the two eggs and combine them to the flour and milk. Add the herbs, salt and mix. Pour the mixture into the baking tin and mix to make the preparation more even.

Place in the oven on the top part and after 10 min add some butter on top and continue the cooking process for another 20 min or until the top is nicely browned. Once ready leave 5 min. to cool before serving.

Tip: if you want you can add some cheese to the batter or use it instead of the butter.