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.

 

Potato and Beetroot Rosti

Potato and Beetroot Rosti I find rosti is a little like pasta or pizza: there’s infinity of combinations you can make. Continue reading

This time I have paired the usual potatoes with fresh beetroot. I like the earthy taste of the beetroot and this works so well with potatoes… I guess I’ve already said it, but I think that rosti is the Swiss comfort food and this time, the plus, is that it’s a dish high in colours. I just feel at home when I eat it. I served this rosti I made a blue cheese sauce by mixing 40g Roquefort, 100 g half-fat sour cream and pepper.

By the way, I’m sorry for the slight delay. We’ve been harvesting the whole day and I ran a little late since it’s almost a tradition to have a drink after work.

Potato and Beetroot Rosti Potato and Beetroot Rosti

Potato and Beetroot Rosti

Recipe for 3-4 as a side dish or for 1-2 as a main meal

Prep time:15 min

Cook time: 35-40 min

 

Ingredients:

 

200 g raw beetroot

600 g boiled potatoes, peeled

1 onion

2 tbsp. rapeseed oil

2 tbsp. butter

Salt and pepper

Recipe:

In a bowl grate the beetroot with a large holed grater. Either using a tea towel or using

a sieve, remove excess moisture.

In a second bowl grate the potatoes.

Chop the onion and add it to a pan with the rapeseed oil. Cook onion on a low-medium fire until translucent, about 5-7 min. Add the beetroot and the potatoes to the pan and cook them on a medium fire for 8-10 min, occasionally stirring. Season the preparation with salt and pepper to taste.

Shape the rosti into a patty and leave it to colour for 10-15 min. A couple of minutes before turning the rosti add half of the butter around the edges.

Turn the rosti with the help of a lid or a dish and leave to colour for another 10-15 min. Repeat the process by adding the butter the in last few minutes of the cooking process.

Serve warm, eventually with the blue cheese sauce.

Gusta il Borgo 2014

Gusta il Borgo 2014 Last Saturday with the same small group of three we met up like last year to participate at the 3rd edition of the enogastronomic walk Gusta il Borgo 2014 held in Ascona, by the Amis da la Forcheta. Even if I had a cold and (from what I learned yesterday) a small stress fracture on my ankle, I would not have missed this event for almost anything in the world. I was right to go anyway because like last year we had a great time filled with laughs, great food and drinks. With our tasting glass around our necks, the map and a few supplementary goodies, we began our walk at half past eleven. At a short distance from the starting point was the first stop where we were served coffee, a croissant and muesli with farina bona flakes and raspberries. While we began eating our “breakfast” a group of men arrived and one of them began to wear strange clothes for a man while the others watched and laughed; soon we found out that they were celebrating a bachelor party. This was an entertaining start. Continue reading

Gusta il Parco – 07.06.2014

Last Saturday I participated to my second enogastronomic walk and I can tell you I was looking forward to it. Continue reading

Beside the great produce you get to taste it’s the friendly environment I’m really fond of. This walk was a little different from the Gusta il Borgo as the different stages of tasting spots are not in any set precise order. In addition to the different tasting stages, there was also the possibility to visit/see spots of natural, cultural or historical interest. Late in the morning I met up with my two most usual adventure companions in Ponte Brolla where we had a coffee and soon enough we would inaugurate the day with a glass of wine while watching the amazing landscape around us.Gusta il Parco

We first headed to Verscio which was one of the two possible starting points and got our bracelets along with the first produces which were different artisanal beers and a few nibbles. With the heat rising I was happy to begin the walk with a cold beer (the white one being my favourite). I just want to mention that I tasted a Merlot bread sandwich, which I found to be just delicious. I absolutely want to try to make this at home.

Soon we were on the road heading towards the next tasting spot where we had some wine and a soup made with a local product I have already mentioned: the Farina Bona (basically it’s pop corn flour). This particular flour is very flavourful and it can be used in infinity of products from sweet to savoury. The other great thing about this flour is it doesn’t need cooking to be consumed.

Back on the road, our next chosen tasting spot was under the trees where the “grottoes of Tegna” are. On out way there we passed in front of one of the historical spots we could visit during the day which was a bomb shelter dating back to WW II. Now I know we were not in the war but in case of need we would be prepared.Gusta il Parco

Once we reached the grottoes it was like entering a fairy tale. These places have something magical about them and whenever I find myself there my imagination starts running. The sunlight going through the forest trees contrasting with the shadows, these entrances in the mountain that seem to hide secrets and legends… well, you have to see it to feel it. Our ancestors used grottoes to store their food and wine; they didn’t have electricity but I can assure you about the efficiency of such places. In fact we enjoyed a little bit of the energy-free coolness before we got down to tasting the scheduled cheese platter with some honey and wine.

Next our expedition of three made an unplanned coffee stop before we continued. Okay, I admit we also had a platter of cured meat and a little water and some more wine. After this we walked spontaneously without really following the map and in fact, since none of us has a good sense of orientation, we sort of lost our way. Soon we would be on the right track again but lost some time in the guessing. Along the river and through the forest and vineyards we reached what would be our last tasting spot. I say ours because unfortunately time was going by and we didn’t manage to reach the last two tasting stages. The two main reasons were that our unplanned “coffee” stop took longer than planned and since I had been walking barefoot on the super hot asphalt I earned myself the two largest blisters I have ever had and they were both on my heels. I really regret not going through all the stages. I promise next time I shall not make the same shoe mistake. I still have an unaccomplished feeling about Gusta il Parco I’ll wait for the return match.

Finally I want to congratulate all the team of the Amis da la Forcheta for their great job in finding original ideas and the way they manage to get though them. Thank you guys and keep up the great work!

General information:

What: Gusta il Parco: an enogastronomic walk made up of 6 stages + 7 stages with either a cultural, historical or natural interest.

Why: to promote the project for the National Parc of the Locarnese

Where: Switzerland – Ticino- Terre di Pedemonte

When: 07.06.2014

For who: Everyone as long as you have walking proof shoes (I speak from personal experience)

Links:

– amisdalaforcheta.ch (here you can see more pictures of the event, if they are not posted yet they will soon be there)

– parconazionale.ch

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

Torta di Pane – Bread Cake / Pudding from Ticino

Torta di Pane 1This cake reminds me of the mountain. I don’t know why but as a kid my parents always had some when we were up in the very rustic mountain hut in the middle of the Alps (a granite building from the 18th century at 1900 meters). Continue reading

For us, more or less it was the only time of the year where it was a tradition to have it. This typical recipe from my canton is the poor man’s recipe and it’s a way to recycle stale bread. I know it’s an easy recipe but I felt that with this cake, expectations were high. Over here, this is the kind of recipe where people always tend to answer something like this:

‘I only eat my grandma’s torta di pane.’

‘My aunt is the best at making the torta di pane.’

‘My Mum makes an amazing torta di pane.’

I really wanted to try so I sat down in front of four different versions of the cake. The first version is one I dearly kept aside until I actually tried this ‘torta’ the other day. This recipe comes from a family friend: Lori. Traditionally people use sultanas with candied fruits, instead in her version she uses dried apricots (which I prefer) and candied fruits. Then, I had a look at two book versions with totally different amounts of milk (one 0.5 l the other 1 l) and one added pine nuts while the other went for almonds. I think I wanted to get a bit more confused because I went for a last reference on the internet and found a last recipe which I actually really liked: http://pandipane.blogspot.ch/2013/10/la-torta-di-pane-della-mia-nonna.html (site in Italian language). My rules for the cake were that it should be moist and the taste of cocoa should be noticeable but not overwhelming and I loved the addition of apricots instead of sultanas. Once the cake was ready I got three people to taste it: my boyfriend and two other friends. The three liked it and the only comment I got was from by boyfriend who said it needed a bit more sugar… He’s got a pretty sweet tooth though. So if this is your case, you can go ahead and add a bit more sugar. The flavour of the ‘Torta di Pane’ reminds me my childhood and maybe this is also why I really enjoyed it. I hope you will like it too.

Torta di Pane 4

 

Torta di Pane – Bread Cake / Pudding from Ticino

For a 26-28 cm round cake mold

Prep time: 20 min (plus soaking time)

Cook time: about 1 hour

 

Ingredients:

200 g stale bread

100 g amaretti

7 dl milk

1 vanilla pod

100 g dried apricots (the sour kind) – alternatively use sultanas and/or candied fruits

Zest of 1 small lemon

100 g pine nuts

6 tbsp cocoa

2 eggs

100 g sugar

50 g melted butter

A dash of grappa (optional)

Icing Sugar (optional)

 

Recipe:

In a bowl or container break the bread into small pieces and add the amaretti.

Put the milk in a pan. Incise the vanilla pod by its length, add to the milk and bring to a boil. Once ready pour over the stale bread and amaretti and leave to soak ideally over night but a few hours can do too. You can leave the vanilla pod in, just remember to remove it once the bread and biscuits have soaked.

Chop the dried apricots and place them in a cup. Add hot water and leave them to soak for a couple of hours.

Heat oven at 190°C.

Once the bread and amaretti have soaked, mash them with a fork until the mass looks like poultice.  Drain the apricots and add them to the bread preparation along with the cocoa, the lemon zest, and ¾ of the pine nuts.

In a separate bowl  mix well the eggs and the sugar and add the butter and eventually the grappa. Pour over the rest and mix the ingredients until the mass looks even; you can either use your hands or a spatula.

Grease the sides of a cake tin and dust with flour. Line the bottom of the cake tin with oven paper. Transfer the preparation to the cake tin and even out the surface. Add the remaining pine nuts and place in the oven for about 1 hour.

Once ready leave to cool before removing from mold. Eventually sprinkle surface with icing sugar.

 

Market Morning – Bellinzona

On Saturdays I woke up earlier than usual and with my boyfriend we went to the market in Bellinzona. I admit that I go there less often than I would like to; on Saturday mornings I usually like to keep my feet in my slippers; usually one hand holds the coffee and the other is keeping the keyboard of my computer busy. Anyway, we got to Bellinzona it was mid morning. We began our tour by walking around the stands and while Stefano’s eyes were fixed on the meats and cheeses, I was looking up and around to to watch the town’s beautiful architecture.

Continue reading

Bellinzona is the chief town of our canton. This place characterized by three elevated medieval castles which are now part of the UNESCO world patrimony. A couple days ago I watched a documentary on the medieval era which gave a good overall impression of how hard the daily life would have been for the lowest ranked members of the society of the time. I knew of course how the people struggled to survive but the thing is that they also led extremely boring lives. I learned that without distractions and constantly working, the market was the only amusement available to the poor people.

Maybe because it’s something I don’t really do regularly, but I love going to markets, they have a popular feel which I find heart warming. It’s not only the general feel but also all the detail our senses pick up. The smell of roasting chickens, the fresh bread, the voices of people talking in our dialect, the sight of the colourful constructions, and the idea of how much I will enjoy the local products once I get home; these are all things that make me have a great day.

General information on Market Morning – Bellinzona :

When: every Saturday from 09:00-13:00

Where: Viale Stazione, Bellinzona, Ticino.

For who: everyone.

Why: even if you don’t buy anything, it’s just a pleasure to walk around and observe and feel the surroundings.

Link: www.bellinzonaturismo.ch

 

Oven Rosti with Caramelized Onions

Oven Roesti with Caramelized OnionsFeeling positive about the fact that Summer may one day arrive; I cleaned the whole terrace furniture. Preparing the outdoor spot means cleaning and waxing a couple of old wooden benches, chairs and a table; this is an activity which woks up quite an appetite. By the time I was finished cleaning and waxing it was windy and almost raining so something warm coming out of the oven felt right; I wanted roesti (or rosti ). The good thing about this recipe is that it works well for a crowd, just fill the whole bottom of the baking dish. Continue reading

The rösti/roesti recipe is part of the Swiss culinary heritage. Originally from Zurich, this potato recipe moved to Bern where it received the name: roesti. This potato cake was first served as a breakfast dish and it was cooked in lard, over time the use of butter became more common. Roesti, in Switzerland is a dish which that has many different versions, the one I prepared is made with non boiled potatoes and the recipe is said to come from the Grison canton. I found this recipe in one of my mother’s old cookbooks and gave it my own twist. One anecdote about this dish is that to us, it means more than just a potato cake. We are a federation of cantons with four different languages and therefore different cultures; the largest regions are the French (or Latin) and the German. The cultural barrier that divides the Swiss German part from the Swiss French one is called Roestigraben (the roesti barrier) (source: http://www.terrenature.ch/terroir/27102011-0000-les-rosti-de-courgenay-sont-une-delicatesse)


Oven Roesti with Caramelized Onions

Recipe for 2

Prep Time: 15 min

Cook Time: 35 min


Ingredients:

400g peeled starchy potatoes

2 tsp flour

Salt and pepper

Freshly grated nutmeg

3 tsp soft butter

2 red onions

2tsp olive oil

1 tsp thyme leaves

1tsp sugar

1tsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp sour cream


Recipe:

Heat oven at 200 C.

Grate the potatoes with a grater with holes on the larger side (about ½ cm ). Add the flour, salt, pepper nutmeg; mix with your hands. Finally add 2 tsp of the soft butter and mix into the potatoes.

Put the potatoes in an oiled baking tin (shape it but do not press it down) and place in the oven for 30-35 min.

Cut the onions in half and slice into half circle strips. In a pan place the olive oil, onions, thyme, salt and pepper and cook for about 15 min on a low heat. Once the onions are soft add the sugar and the vinegar and cook for another 6-7 min (until caramelized).

To brown the surface of the potatoes, add a little butter on top of the potatoes and continue to cook for another 5-10 min.

Serve the potatoes with a tbsp of sour cream and the caramelized onions.