Vegetable Flan

Vegetable Flan

Last week with a couple of friends we inaugurated the coming of autumn with the first cheese fondue of the season. That would be the first of a long weekend of fun celebratory events. Continue reading

Came Sunday, all I wanted was to hang around the home: no sports, wide pants and top, film and lit fireplace. I also wanted some easy to make food and found this flan recipe (in French), which I found would suit the mood. I made a few small changes and additions to the original version, the main one being the addition of lentils and some extra cheese.

 

 

Vegetable Flan

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 15-20 min

Cook time: 35 min

 

Ingredients:

130 cooked lentils (if you still have to cook them, the equivalent is 50 g raw lentils)

2 tomatoes

2 small zucchini

1 onion

2 tbsp. of thyme leaves

20 cl of fresh cream

4 tbsp. flour

4 eggs

100 g grated hard goat cheese (or any other cheese you like)

Salt and pepper

 

Recipe:

Preheat the oven th.6 (180°C).

Cut the tomatoes in half and remove the seeds, then cut them into small cubes of about 1 cm. Now take the zucchini and make zucchini spaghetti using a spiralizer. Alternatively, if you’re using a knife, cut the zucchini by its length into thin slices and then cut each slice into spaghetti like strings. A third alternative is to cut them into cubes of 1 cm. Chop the onion.

Mix all the vegetables, the thyme, the lentils and the grated cheese and place everything in a greased baking dish.

Add the flour to a bowl; add the cream and mix; then add the eggs, salt and pepper, blend all the ingredients together. Pour on the vegetables and gently move them to make sure the egg mix fills any gaps.

Bake in the oven for 35 min. Once done, use a knife to detach the flan from the edges. This dish can be made ahead. Serve hot or at room temperature.

 

Sweet Potato Aubergine Melts

sweet-potato-melts

Last weekend I attended one of my favourite events: the enogastronomic walk that is Gusta il Borgo. Last year I couldn’t be present as I was getting married but this year I wouldn’t have missed for anything in the world. The nine kilometre walk around the beautiful town of Ascona while tasting wine and genuine products is a perfect excuse for some movement in a truly friendly context. Continue reading

Here are a few pictures of our day where the only thing I have to remember next time is to smother myself with more sun cream…

 

 

Summer events may be getting to an end, but fortunately it’s not the case for local, organic produce, like the aubergines in this recipe. With this I decided to make a friendly easy and healthy recipe and thought that tartines, toasts and/or melts are a great match. As I was preparing this recipe I began thinking about the infinity of combinations for every season of the year; for instance, with autumn just around the corner, I’ll try this with some diced butternut squash, goat cheese and some rosemary or sage.

Sweet Potato Melts

 

Sweet Potato Aubergine Melts

Recipe for 8 pieces

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 30-35 min

 

Ingredients:

2-3 sweet potatoes

1 small aubergine

1-2 garlic cloves (depending on the size)

30 g quinoa

150 g mozzarella

1-2 chillies

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

16-18 basil leaves

 

Recipe:

Place the quinoa in two times its volume of water, season with salt and bring it to a boil. Simmer for about 15 min, until it’s done and the water will have been absorbed. Once done set aside.

Heat oven at 210°C (fan 190°C).

Meanwhile, clean and dry the sweet potatoes. Lengthwise, cut the extremities and discard them. Now cut the sweet potatoes into 1 cm thick slices and brush them with olive oil and season them with salt and pepper on both sides. Just remember that the amounts in this recipe are made for eight slices. Place the sweet potato in the oven and bake for 25-30 min, turning them once or twice during the cooking process.

Remove the seeds from the chillies and finely chop them, along with the garlic. Cut the aubergine into 1 cm thick slices, stack them (maybe not all at once) and cut them into small cubes.

Add 1 tbsp. olive oil, the chillies and the garlic to a non-stick pan and fry for 2-3 min on a medium heat. Add the aubergine cubes, season with salt and pepper and brown them on all sides tossing regularly. Finally add the cooked quinoa, mix everything together and remove from the fire. Rectify taste if needed.

Slice the mozzarella into ½ cm thick slices.

Once the sweet potatoes are done remove the tray from the oven and evenly spoon the aubergine/quinoa preparation, on top distribute the mozzarella slices.

Turn on the broiler and place the sweet potato melts in the oven for a few minutes. Once the mozzarella will have melted and lightly browed remove the melts from the oven, top with the basil leaves and serve asap.

 

 

Zucchini and Feta Chickpea Burgers

Zucchini and Feta Chickpea Burgers

Lately I find loads of organic locally grown zucchini and I have basically been consuming them day on and day off. Besides pan roasting them, adding them to a salad or grilling them, I thought for a change to add them to a Mediterranean style burger: with chickpeas and feta cheese. Continue reading

I tried to make this recipe as simple and straightforward as possible so when time is limited, this recipe can come in hand as a healthy summery treat. Since the heat has increased drastically over the past week, I didn’t feel too hungry so I had the burger on its own, but you can accompany this dish with a nice crunchy salad or some oven sweet potato fries.

 

Zucchini and Feta Chickpea Burgers

Zucchini and Feta Chickpea Burgers

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 8 min

 

Ingredients:

1 can chickpeas

1 zucchini (not too large)

1 red onion

1-2 garlic cloves (depending on the size)

100g feta cheese

2 tbsp. chopped parsley

2 heaped tbsp. breadcrumbs

smoked paprika

2 tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper

 

Recipe:

Grate the zucchini and the onion in a bowl. Season them with salt, mix and place them in a clean tea towel, in a sieve over a bowl and set them aside to let moisture drip off.

Meanwhile prepare the rest of the recipe by mashing the chickpeas in a bowl (alternatively use s food processor), then crumble the feta and add the breadcrumbs. Pass the garlic though a crusher and add that to the bowl too.

Back to the zucchini and onion, take the tea towel and squeeze out as much moisture as possible before adding them to the rest of the ingredients.

Mix all the ingredients together and add salt pepper and smoked paprika to taste. Blend all the ingredients together and form four patties.

On a medium fire heat the olive oil and add the patties to brown on both sides.

Serve in a bun with the garnish of your choice (salad, tomato, avocado, mayo, chilli sauce, ketchup,…)

Crispy Polenta Gnocchi

Crispy Polenta Gnocchi

I know I’ve already said it but each time I eat something with polenta, I recall my father saying how his childhood was all about getting kicked in the backside and eating polenta. Continue reading

In the past polenta a very important source of food in honour of this dish I wanted to make something fun for this post so after a little search, I adapted the recipe I found on citronetvanille and adapted it to what I had in mind: crispy polenta gnocchi.

What I really liked about making this recipe is that I found it to be more straight forward, less messy than the traditional potato gnocchi. As with any gnocchi recipe you can accompany this dish with just about any sauce you like. The reason I made a Gorgonzola sauce is because in Ticino, fi you don’t serve polenta with meat, you often eat it with Gorgonzola. It’s up to you to see what you want to serve it with, but I guarantee you that blue cheese is a great combination.

 

 

 

Crispy Polenta Gnocchi

 

Recipe for 2

Prep time: 25 min

Cook time: 30 min

 

Ingredients

For the polenta gnocchi:

80 g quick cooking polenta + extra to coat the gnocchi

Milk

90 g flour + extra to flour surface

1 egg

2-3 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Slat and pepper

Olive oil

1 knob butter

 

For the sauce:

100 g Gorgonzola

0.7 dl milk

1 small tsp. corn-starch

pepper

 

Recipe:

Bring to a boil the equivalent of 3 ½ times the amount of polenta in a mix of water and milk. Season with salt. Reduce fire to low and stream in the polenta and instead of stirring fold the mass over itself until it will have thickened and it comes away from the sides of the pan (5-7 min). Remove the pan from the heat, add the cheese and fold the mass to combine it. Transfer the polenta to a bowl and place it in the fridge until it will have set and chilled (about 1 hour).

Take the chilled polenta and scrape it with a fork to crumble it. Add the flour and some salt and mix the ingredients together. Now add the egg and mix until the mass looks even. Dust with flour your working surface, move the gnocchi mass onto the surface and divide into 2-3 parts. Take each part and roll it into about 3 cm thick strips. Take a fork and start making the gnocchi by sectioning them every 2 cm.

Bring a large pan filled with salted water to a boil and add the gnocchi. Once they come to the surface, it means they are cooked so remove them with a slotted spoon and set them aside on a cutting board or a bowl with a wide bottom. Dust them with the uncooked polenta until evenly coated.

For the sauce: Pour a fraction of the milk into a cup, add the corn-starch and mix until all lumps will have disappeared. Pour the milk/corn-starch with the milk and the Gorgonzola into a pan and place it over a low heat. Cook the ingredients for 8-10 min, once the ingredients are combined and the sauce has thickened set it aside and reheat it just before serving.

In a non-stick pan, heat 1-1.5 tbsp. olive oil on a medium-high fire. Add the gnocchi and brown them on all sides, occasionally stirring. Once ready, serve them with the Gorgonzola sauce.

Crispy Almond Crusted Asparagus

Crispy Almond Crusted Asparagus

Asparagus season is drawing to an end, but before saying, “See you next year” I wanted to make a last recipe for this spring with these green spears. Continue reading

This simple recipe is something versatile since you can serve it on its own as an appetiser or you can serve it as a side dish or on a nice salad, maybe with some cheese or salmon. I wasn’t too sure about the how much to heat the oven so here, I found a recipe for oven roasted asparagus that worked perfectly. For the breading, along with the flour and egg I made a mix of dry roasted ground asparagus and polenta flour, which gave an extra crisp to the texture.

Crispy Almond Crusted Asparagus

 

Crispy Almond Crusted Asparagus

 

Recipe for 3-4

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 20-25 min

 

Ingredients:

320-340 g asparagus washed woody part removed.

50 g ground almonds

1 large egg beaten

3 generous tbsp. fine grain polenta

2 tbsp. flour

Salt and pepper

 

Recipe:

Pre-heat oven at 220°C.

In a non-stick pan place the ground almonds and dry toast them on a medium fire, stir regularly. Once the almonds will have browned, place them in a dish and set them aside to cool.

Take three shallow dishes and in the first place the flour, in the second place the egg and in the last combine the polenta with the ground almonds and some salt and pepper.

Take an asparagus, dust it with the flour, and then dip it in the egg, making sure there are no dry spots left. Finally evenly coat it with the polenta and almond mix and place the asparagus on a baking tray lined with oven paper. Repeat the process up to the last asparagus.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus. Serve as a side dish, as an appetizer, on a salad….

 

Aubergine Quinoa Casserole

Aubergine Quinoa Casserole

Spring is blooming and the Ticino region looks amazing at the moment. Yesterday I had the luck to attend an aperitif on the small Islands of Brissago on the Lago Maggiore. Continue reading

Last time I was there was towards the end of the nineties. This place is simply beautiful and the feeling of being on an islands in the middle of the lake is so charming. On the main island there’s a large house that was rebuilt around nineteen hundred. In addition there’s a botanic garden, which complements the beauty of this patch of land in the middle of the lake. Here are a couple of pictures…

Isole di BrissagoIsole di Brissago

Lately I’ve been feeling the influence of the warmer months so I bought some aubergines and made this casserole for my mother and I. Unfortunately I cannot serve it to my husband, he is intolerant to eggplant and has to stay away from tomatoes as much as possible. This casserole is easy to make and if you want to make it ahead, prepare the quinoa with the tomato sauce, bake the aubergines and before the final baking process, simply assemble everything.

 

Aubergine Quinoa Casserole

 

Recipe for 2-3

Prep time: 10-15 min

Cook time: 30-35 min.

 

Ingredients:

100g quinoa

1 small can chopped tomatoes

1 small onion

1 garlic clove

Chilli flakes

1.5-2 dl water

A pinch of sugar

1 aubergine (not too large)

2 tsp. olive oil + extra to brush the aubergine slices

75 g grated mozzarella

6-8 basil leaves

Salt and pepper

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 190°C.

Chop the onion and the garlic.

Add 1 tbsp. olive oil to a pan and add the onion and garlic to soften for 4-5 min. I used my cast iron pan but you can make this dish with any other ovenproof pan. Should you not have one, you any other pan then transfer the ingredients to a baking dish before placing it in the oven.

Once the onion and garlic are soft, add the quinoa and roast it for a couple of minutes, stirring regularly. Then add the tomato sauce and the water. Add the pinch of sugar and season with salt, pepper and chilli flakes to taste. Once it’s boiling let the quinoa simmer until the quinoa is cooked through, about 20-25 min. Should the water evaporate, add one more splash.

Meanwhile cut the aubergine lengthways into small 1 cm thick slices. Brush them with olive oil on both sides and season them with salt and pepper. Place the slices on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake on the upper side of the oven for about 20 min. Flip them over after about 10 min.

Once the quinoa is cooked, if you have an ovenproof pan continue using that one, otherwise transfer the whole to a baking dish. On top place the aubergine slices and sprinkle the grated mozzarella on top. Bake in the middle of the oven for 8-10 minutes. Before serving scatter around the basil leaves and serve.

Wild Garlic Pesto Potatoes

Wild Garlic Pesto Potatoes 7.1I was telling my mother today how much I love spring and its produce, the only thing is that the period goes by very fast and I don’t even have the time to get bored with foods like fresh asparagus, artichokes, rhubarb or wild garlic. Continue reading

This time I really was looking forward to making something with wild garlic; so I made a simple recipe with roasted potatoes and added a homemade wild garlic pesto with walnuts. The plus in this recipe is that the leftover pesto can be used later in many other dishes. The one I made yesterday I used it today on a tomato mozzarella salad. The traditional pesto should be made using a pestle and mortar but to speed up the process I went with my eighties blender (the modern one I owned took its last whizz on an experimental recipe some time ago). Anyway, take advantage of spring and its staple fruits (and veggies)!

 

 

Wild Garlic Pesto Potatoes

 

Recipe for 4-6

Prep time: 15 min (most of the prep time will take place while the potatoes are roasting)

Cook time: 50 min

Ingredients:

For the potatoes:

600g new potatoes

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

 

For the wild garlic pesto:

40 g wild garlic (rinsed and dried)

2 tbsp. walnuts (I quickly dry roasted them)

5 tbsp. grated Parmesan

Olive oil

optional: salt

 

Recipe:

Heat oven at 200°C/180°C fan/gas.

Cut the potatoes in half and cook them in boiling water for 8-9 min then drain them.

Coat a baking tin with olive oil and add the potatoes. Pour 1 tbsp. olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 20 min. then turn them around. Bake for another 15-20 min, until golden brown and soft inside.

While the potatoes are baking prepare the pesto. Roughly chop the wild garlic and place it in a blender with a splash of olive oil and optionally some salt and process. Add the walnuts and process again. Now add the Parmesan and more olive oil. Blend until smooth and add more olive oil until it has the desired thickness. Transfer to a jar as there will be extra left for other dishes you’re making (pasta, chicken, caprese salad…)

Once the potatoes are done add 1.5-2 tsp. of the pesto, toss and serve.

 

Asparagus Lemon Pasta Bake

Asparagus Lemon Pasta BakeIn a hurried week I really wanted to post this recipe, which I really enjoyed. The lemon gives this pasta bake has a light and refreshing taste and it’s asparagus season so I want to take advantage of it! Continue reading

As an inspiration for this recipe I took smittenkitchen’s mushroom Marsala pasta bake, a recipe I’ve been contemplating for some time and finally decided to adapt it to the spring season. I’m going to have to keep it short because I still have to finish packing for a special weekend where I get to spend time with a friend… but before he arrives in Zurich, I want/need to go shopping.

Have a nice weekend everyone!

Asparagus Lemon Pasta Bake

Asparagus Lemon Pasta Bake

 

Asparagus Pasta Bake

Recipe for 4-6

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 50-60 min

 

Ingredients:

280g short pasta (I used penne)

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 small-medium onion

0.8 dl white wine

45g butter

30 g flour (or 2 tbsp.)

3.5 dl vegetable stock

80g Parmesan cheese

The juice and zest of 1 small organic lemon

0.9 dl cream

400g asparagus (woody part removed)

 

Recipe:

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water but make sure it’s al dente. Drain it 1-2 minutes before doneness and set it aside.

Slice the asparagus at an angle into 0.5 cm pieces (if using thin asparaguses, cut them into 1-1.5 cm pieces. Chop the onion.

Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil on a medium-high heat and add the asparaguses to brown tossing occasionally. Once done set them aside with the pasta.

Reduce the fire to medium-low and add the second tbsp. of olive oil along with the chopped onion. Cook until the onion has softened (4-5 min). Pour in the white wine, lemon juice and lemon zest and cook until the liquid has almost evaporated, don’t stop stirring. Now add the butter and once it has melted, add the flour and continue stirring until it has been combined with the rest of the ingredients. Start adding the stock one splash at the time. Make sure that between splashes, the liquid is well combined. Do so until the stock is finished then let it cook for a couple of minutes to let the sauce thicken. Add the cream, stir and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the fire and add ¾ of the grated cheese along with the pasta and the asparaguses. Mix everything together. If you’re using an ovenproof pan, you can bake the dish directly in there. If your pan is not oven proof transfer it to a baking dish. Sprinkle the pasta with the remaining grated Parmesan and bake for 25-30 min in a pre-heated oven at 200°C.

Miso Glazed Tofu and Sweet Potatoes

Miso Glazed Tofu Sweet Potatoes

Well these have been an exciting couple of weekends with people I consider as family. After the weekend in Köln I went to a surprise birthday party for a friend and former boarding-school roommate in Barcelona. Continue reading

Her boyfriend organised it and she was so surprised by the party and by our presence (another friend also went all the way to Barcelona for the event). The look on her face was worth the journey and Barcelona a city one can only enjoy.

I took a week off from blogging after that because I had to work on a project. Despite the schedule, these past few weeks I’ve been eating incredibly healthy and I have drastically reduced my hard-cheese and salt intake and have upgraded my daily workout. I can say I feel great. So in the line of what I’ve been eating lately is this post’s recipe: Miso Glazed Tofu & Sweet Potatoes.

Miso Glazed Tofu Sweet Potatoes

Miso Glazed Tofu Sweet Potatoes

 

Miso Glazed Tofu & Sweet Potatoes

 

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 20-25 min

 

Ingredients:

480g tofu

960g sweet potatoes – peeled

4 tsp. toasted sesame oil

powdered chilli peppers to taste

2 tbsp. brown sugar

4 tbsp. miso paste

4 tbsp. rice vinegar

4 tbsp. soy sauce

1 tbsp. water

3 tbsp. sesame seeds

2-3 tbsp. chopped spring onions.

 

Recipe:

Cut the sweet potatoes into 2 cm cubes. Fill a pan with salted water and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes, cook for 5-7 min (until the sweet potatoes are a little soft but hold well together) and drain.

Cut the tofu into cubes of about the same size as the sweet potatoes. Pat dry the pieces with kitchen paper in order to remove as much moisture as possible.

In a non-stick pan heat the sesame oil on a medium-high fire. Add the sweet potatoes and the tofu with a little salt and brown on all sides, tossing regularly. After about five minutes add the powdered chilli peppers.

Meanwhile prepare the sauce by mixing the miso paste, rice vinegar soya sauce and water together.

Now that the sweet potatoes and tofu are brown, reduce the fire to low and sprinkle the sugar. Once it starts to caramelise, add the miso sauce and immediately toss. Add the sesame seeds, toss again and serve with the spring onion on top.

 

 

 

 

 

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.