One day love, the next poison…

Yesterday’s cooking went VERY wrong. Upon my request my Dad collected some elderberries I wanted to use for an elderberry muffin recipe.
They turned out fine.

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I had elderberries left and made a smoothie with them for me and my boyfriend.

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What I did not know then but now know from painful experience is: they are poisonous if eaten raw. We were retching all night.
The poison is eliminated by cooking. But a colleague told me that baking the berries in muffins for 20 minutes might not be enough to get rid of the poison. I don’t know for sure but decided not to eat the muffins and not give you the recipe.
Foraged foods are for pros only…

A first: artichokes

I think I’ve had fresh artichokes once in my life. When I saw some at my local supermarket yesterday it was an impulse buy.

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I don’t know what to look for in artichokes and just bought two nice looking ones.
At home I turned to my Betty Bossi basic cooking cookbook that told me to cut off the stalks and top leaves.

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Next I removed the fuzzy bit in the middle.

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Then I was told to sprinkle lemon juice on top to prevent the flesh browning up.
Then I boiled the artichokes in salty water for about 45 minutes.

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The lid on top is also as per instructions by Betty Bossi. To stop the artichokes from floating about.
I served them with a simple vinaigrette:

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Lovely, albeit lots of work and waste for a little pleasure.

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And somehow cooking artichokes made me very sleep as I dozed off watching Upsy Daisy with my son…
This morning a very darkish green water pot reminded me that I had fallen asleep before writing my blogpost and before doing the washing up.

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Change of plans

Dear friends
Over 6 months ago I set up this blog and have been enjoying feeding it (and myself) all this time. But now I need a break. I know it’s against the rules, but then again this is my blog and as Mr. Stallone put it: “I am the law”.
So I’m off!

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But to quote another action movie oneliner: “I’ll be back!”

Hot’n’spicy

Today is prep day for my juice fast so I was only allowed steamed veggies and curd cheese for dinner.
Over the next 7 days I will cook and make stuff that will keep for at least a week. This way I will have great food (I hope) when the fasting period is over.
For today I chose a chili sauce recipe from a German cookbook called Gifts from the Summer Kitchen (Geschenke aus der Sommerküche by Regine Stroner).
For the chili sauce you cut up 6 chilis, using as much of the seeds as you want (the more seeds the hotter the sauce).

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In a mortar or blender grind 6 cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon of coarse sea salt, half a teaspoon of cumin seeds, half a teaspoon of black pepper corns and a handful of oregano leaves.

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Add 2 tablespoons of wine vinegar (I used red wine vinegar) and 1.25dl of olive oil.

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I blitzed the sauce with the cut up chili peppers and filled it in a container. The author of the recipe says it keeps in the fridge for 6-8 days.

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So while I am drinking various juices for breakfast, lunch and dinner this week I can think of a dish to serve my chili sauce with. Pasta? Fish? A juicy grilled steak? Uhoh, I’m hungry already…

Cake Pop Class

I have enrolled for a 4 hour (yes, four hours!) cake pop baking class this evening so I will use one of my Wild Cards today and report on the results later on. I hope they will let me take pictures and hope to take home cake pops that look a bit more professional than the ones I made a while ago. Mind you, they were a pretty sight.

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Pretty to look at but sickly sweet. Details will follow on mnamnam.

mnamnam.com

Today’s post is going to be short because I am going to introduce a new rule: I am allowed to defer posts to my new website mnamnam.com. I will keep this blog running for the 365 project but will occasionally publish the posts on mnamnam.com. Today I cooked Eggs Benedict from scratch. Including the English muffins. I was very pleased with the result. Curious? Then check it out here.

Wildcard – A 6 course dinner with a view over Zurich

I like dining out in posh restaurants every once in a while. Yesterday evening I had a 6 course meal in one of the trendiest restaurants in Zurich at the moment, in Clouds. It is on the 35th floor of Switzerland’s highest building (126 metres), the Prime Tower.   

Now I had hoped that their menu is available online because when I look at the pictures of each course I cannot remember what exactly they were serving…. The bottle of Petite Arvine we drank with our first 3 courses is probably partially to blame for that.

First we were served oven dried foccaccia bread with several dips (garlic cream, olive oil, sea salt) and butter. 

Then we were served a Gruss aus der Küche, i.e. a greeting from the kitchen. If I remember correctly, it was some root vegetable foam (celery?) with Italian salami and some nice tasting garnish on top.

The first course (my absolute favourite) was a wood forrest salad with beetroot soup and foam. The salad was DIVINE! Bits of baby leaf salad, tiny mushrooms, pureed root vegetables, crunchy bits of vegetables. Simply great. The beetroot soup and foam complemented it nicely.

The second course was a langustine ravioli with a lemon foam. Lovely!

Next up was halibut on tiny beans and a brown sauce. This was my least favourite dish. I thought the beans and sauce were a tad too sweet and overpowered the fish.

The main course was filet of beef with a herb crust on a bed of Swiss chard  and a beef pot with a very light potato mash on top. The filet and the accompanying red wine / balsamico sauce were fantastic. The combination with the beef pot, however, does not work at all. The texture and tastes of the filet and the beef goulash are just too different. 

After a little break we were served the cheese dish. You can choose from a big cheese trolley and I went for Jersey Blue (I love it!), goats’ cheese and what turned out to be a very salty strong tasting Swiss hard cheese. It was served with fruit bread. Very nice indeed!

Up next was the dessert (my second favourite dish). It was tiny bits of variations of apple and rosemary infused baked and frozen delicacies. There was an apple sorbet, a rosemary infused crème brulée tart and lots of other mouthwatering pieces of dessert.

The menu was really lovely, even if a tad pricey at 150 Swiss Francs per head (without the drinks).  But all in all, it was worth it!

Makin’ Whoopee!

Makin’ Whoopee!.

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.

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