My very own Swiss chocolate!

I spent this evening at a networking event organised by Women in Business. The talk was about Social Media and included guest speakers from the Swiss blogging company Blogwerk, the Swiss telecomunications provider Swisscom and the Swiss start up company My Swiss Chocolate.  The latter inspired me to finish my first month as a blogger not with cooking a recipe but with designing my own chocolate.  After all, I am the boss and entitled to tweak the rules a little.

We received a goody bag from WiB that included a sample of MySwissChocolate’s Valentine chocolate.

It is (and soon was…) a milk chocolate with macadamia nuts and dried rose leaves. Very nice.

The online shop of MySwissChocolate allows you to chose from three types of chocolate, white, milk and dark chocolate.

Next you can add various flavours such as caramel, banana, lavender, eucalyptus (?) and many more.  I don’t like flavoured chocolate so I skipped that part and went straight to the next step which allows you to add various ingredients such as nuts, spices, dried flower leaves, and/or dried fruit.

I designed three different chocolates:

1. Milk chocolate with dried kumquats (never ever tried before) and caramelized peanuts.
2. Dark chocolate with dried rasperries and caramelized hazelnuts.
3. White chocolate with dried apricots and aniseed.

They’ll be delivered by February 9 so I am not able to show you the results yet. But I will keep you posted!

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Red cabbage quiche

Today a friend suggested that I try making a quiche and her wish is my command. I still had some red cabbage left from yesterday’s recipe so I decided to adapt a recipe for cabbage and caraway quiche that I found on Epicurious a while ago.

Instead of making one big quiche, I made 6 small ones and used half a cabbage (ca. 400g), half an onion which I sweated off in some butter and cook until tender. For the sauce I mixed 1 cup of sour cream with 2 eggs and – instead of the Gruyère that is recommended in the recipe – I used my leftover feta cheese from the Swiss chard wraps and added chunks of it to the cream and egg mix.

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Then I seasoned it with salt, pepper and some other stuff I found in my kitchen cabinet (mixed herbs for example). Finally, I stirred in 2-3 teaspoons of caraway seeds, added the cabbage and put it all in the (ready bought) pie crusts.

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I baked them in the oven for approximately 30 minutes at 180°C and they tasted delish! A perfect winter warmer!

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Seeing red

Today I have 2 recipes for you and the overall theme happens to be RED: sweet red cabbage (a recipe by Jamie Oliver from Reveal) and red-onion-red-wine butter (from Betty Bossi). Both were served with red meat (beef entrecote).

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For the sweet red cabbage start with caramelizing 1 apple (roughly chopped) and 1 red onion (finely diced).

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When they are caramelized, add 1 small red cabbage (approx. 400g) and a generous splash of – if you’re following the recipe- balsamic vinegar. I replaced the balsamic vinegar with lavender vinegar and I strongly recommend that you try it as well. As it turned out, the soft lavender taste goes perfectly with the cabbage and apples!
Cook until the cabbage is soft and add water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper and you’re done.

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For the butter, caramelize 2 small red onions (again finely chopped) in some butter with a tablespoon of sugar. Add 50ml red wine, bring to the boil and then cook until reduced by half.
Leave to cool and when cool, add 125g soft butter. It takes some muscle to get it from this:

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To this:

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The recipe tells you to roll the butter mix in clingfoil. I scooped it into small paper cups (for pralines) in order to be able to freeze (and defrost) portions more easily.

The cabbage tasted lovely and I was particularly pleased with my lavender vinegar experiment. Move over Jamie! The butter tasted soso and I don’t think it was worth the effort.

Brain Freeze

I had another busy day today and in no mood to really cook anything. I skipped breakfast, had a sandwich for lunch, cake at an afternoon birthday party and spaghetti with (home made) sauce from the freezer for dinner.

When I finally managed to get my toddler to bed at 10pm, all I wanted to do was listen to watch a recorded episode of Castle and then listen to the new Chris Isaak album.

Chris Isaak & his sounds always reminds me of my year in San Francisco & thinking about my year in San Francisco always brings back memories of good friends, great fun and many moments of brain freeze from frozen margaritas!

So here’s todays recipe: Sugar the rim of a glass.

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Blend 1 part triple sec, 3 parts tequila and 1-2 parts Rose’s Lime Juice (I had to use lemon sirup and bottled lime juice) with ice cubes.

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Enjoy (remember to drink responsibly yadayadayada)!

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I’ll put my earphones back on & swoon with Chris…

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(photo taken at his concert in Zurich some years ago).

Makin’ Whoopee!

Makin’ Whoopee!.

Makin’ Whoopee!

Okay, let’s forget the summery dress for the wedding in June for a second. At the rearest back of one of my book shelves I found this:

Admit it, you want to have a bite or two instantly! I have forgotten ever buying the book but when it fell into my hands this morning, I remembered that I had been looking for a recipe book for macarons but bought this instead.

Whoopies are quintessentially American to me. The French eat tiny delicate macarons, and Americans make whoopie pies! Not that I believe that bigger is always better but as far as cookies go, if they come in a bigger size and with a delicious filling in the middle I am the last person to complain.

Well, today I made Gingerbread Whoopies. For 9 whoopies (i.e. 18 cookies) you need 150g softened butter that you need to mix with 150g of soft dark brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Whisk until fluffy then add 1 large egg and 2 tablespoons of molasses or black treacle. Then add 350g flour, 2.5 teaspoons baking powder, 1.5 teaspoons of ground ginger and 1 teaspoon of mixed spice. Stir it all together and then add the final ingredient, 1 tablespoon of milk. 

Now, there appears to be a gadget called a whoopie pan. It looks like a muffin tray with shallower moulds. I don’t have a whoopie pan (yet) and therefore I had to scoop tablespoon after tablespoon on a baking tray lined with baking paper, making nice round shapes and leaving enough room between the whoopies for them to spread and rise.

Bake in the oven preheated to 190°C for 10-12 minutes. After taking them out, leave to cool.

The author of the book suggests you fill the whoopies with a lemon buttercream filling. For this you need a dress-killing 175g butter (ouch), 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 350g icing sugar (ouchouch) and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.

I’ll definitely be makin’ more whoopies in the future! There are 51 more recipes in that book… But I think I will make mini whoopies next time as they are too big and rich even for my taste.

Ice cream rescue

It’s a busy week & I knew yesterday that I wouldn’t be able to spend much if any time in the kitchen. I didn’t want to use up any wild cards or rainchecks either. But luckily, the day starts at 00h00….

So I rummaged in my fridge and the ice cream booklet to see if my ice cream maker could come to the rescue. It did!

So today’s recipe is vanilla ice cream with a zing (ginger) and a twist (pineapple).

Heat 1 cup of cream together with 1 scraped and slit vanilla pod and 4-5 slices of ginger. Bring to the boil and leave to cool. Whisk 2 large eggs until fluffy, add 1 cup of sugar and whisk again for a minute or so. Add the cream mix after removing the vanille and ginger.

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Add diced pineapple.

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Put in ice cream maker and then in the freezer to enjoy after a busy day. Only infusing the ginger in the cream and not adding grated ginger or ginger pieces, gives it a lovely subtle taste. If you want it more gingery add fresh ginger to your ice cream.

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Top of the Swiss Chards

After yesterday’s raincheck I have cooked a starter and a main course today with what allegedly is a very popular vegetable in Switzerland: Swiss chard. I presume popular in comparison to other countries where it is hardly used at all.  Its popularity in Switzerland explains its name, although according to LEO it is also known as  chard, chard plant, leaf beet, mangel, seakale beet, silver beet, spinach beet or white beet.  

My mum always steamed the Swiss chard as a side dish and I remember them as a very bland and uninteresting vegetable and avoided them. That’s why I bought a big bunch today as I thought I’d give them another chance with these two recipes: Swiss chard and coconut soup, a recipe I printed out ages ago from the German recipe database Chefkoch.de and a recipe from an unidentifiable magazine cutout (could be Now could be Women’s Own) for Swiss chard wraps.

For the soup (for 2 people) you need 300g Swiss chard, 50g diced onions, half a chili also finely diced (remember to remove the seeds first, otherwise the soup will be very hot), 15g butter, 3.5dl vegetable stock and 0.5dl coconut milk. Dice the stalks of the Swiss chard and cut the leaves into bite sized pieces.

Sweat the onion, chili and Swiss chard stalks in the butter. Add the vegetable stock and cook for approx. 10 minutes at medium heat. Add the coconut milk and the Swiss chard leaves and cook for further 10 minutes.  Season with salt, pepper and any other spice you like and enjoy your Swiss chard coconut soup.

The second recipe is a Swiss chard wrap filled with couscous and feta. You need 350g Swiss chard, 50g couscous, approx. 3dl vegetable broth, half an onion and half a packet of feta. Cook the couscous according to the instructions on the packet. When it has soaked in the vegetable broth enough, add the diced feta and onion.  The recipe adds a handful of sultanas to the couscous. I don’t like sultanas and added finely chopped fresh pineapple instead.

Blanch the Swiss chard leaves in boiling salt water for 2-3 minutes. Remove, rinse with cold water and dry the Swiss chard leaves with kitchen paper or a towel.  Wrap portions of the couscous mix in each leaf and put in an ovenproof dish.

Fill the bottom of the dish with a little vegetable broth (I used some of the soup) and bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 180°C.

Both recipes are very tasty and I will definitely buy Swiss chard more often now.

Raincheck 2 – Meetings, meetings and a stream of great music

Today my calendar is packed with meetings and chores that leave no room for cooking. So I am calling my second Raincheck.

I don’t want to leave it at that, however, but want to share my highlight of the day with you: Today the Guardian is streaming Leonard Cohens new album. Great stuff! I saw him in concert three times already and I am smitten!

(Taken at the concert in Basel, September 10, 2010).

A surprise hit – celery pineapple tartar

I was just invited to a wedding in early June and this is the dress I would like to wear

If I continue along the path of the past blog posts, however, I will look like a hippo in fancy dress. So while I will still do the occasional cake, ice cream or buttery dish, I have to try to stay away from the Far Bretons and creamy ice creams as much as possible.

For today’s recipe I turned to Betty Bossi and their vegetable cookbook once more. I found a recipe that sounded interesting and with only 96 calories per serving seemed ideal for my new course of action. For 4 people you need 2 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon of honey which you mix and season with salt and pepper. I did not have any white balsamic vinegar and used my lavender vinegar instead.

Finely chop a medium sized pineapple (approx. 800g before skinning and removing the stalk in the middle which should leave you with approx. 500g chopped pineapple) and 300g celery stalks. Chop some of the celery leaves until you get approx. 2 tablespoons of those as well. I added 3 slices of finely chopped ginger because I thought the ginger would complement both the pineapple and celery.

Mix all these with the dressing and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes to soak through. Arrange on a dish et voilà:

The tartar tastes really really nice. The pineapple and celery complement each other very well and the ginger adds a little extra zing. To my great surprise my almost two year old also loved it.

Like my dress this dish is probably best suited for the spring and summer months. I think I will try it again either with some tiger prawns or scallops or a cheese such as Stilton, Roquefort or goat’s cheese. YUMMY!

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