Dec 16, 2014

(more) holiday nibbles

i have a weakness for sweet things… and recently, i've discovered my affinity for baking holiday cookies, too! mailänderli, even - a swiss holiday butter cookie. so this is a potpourri post, dedicated to a variety of (last minute) holiday nibbles: mailänderli, christmas tree sugar cookies and sugared cranberries (which, by the way, you can use with cheese as an appetizer, on their own, as cake tops or even for cocktails

christmas tree forest cookies
makes about 20 large cookies
recipe adapted from elisabeth fülscher's (a swiss legend) cookbook

125 g butter, room temperature
1 pinch salt
80 g sugar
2 yolks
1 organic orange, zest 
1 tbsp. orange juice
250 g flour

confectioners' sugar and a little milk for the glaze
green food coloring, colored sugar, sprinkles, edible pearls etc.

cream the butter with a mixer. add sugar and yolks and mix for 10 minutes, until the mixture is fluffy. sieve in the flour, add the orange zest and juice and combine everything until a dough forms. this might be a little hard, as the dough is awfully crumbly. but don't despair! simply press it together again and again. cover with cling film and let cool for at least 1 hour or overnight. roll out on a lightly floured surface to about 1 cm thickness and cut out cookies. bake at 160 degrees c / 320 f for about 20 minutes. let cool on a wire rack.

make differently colored glazes, then decorate to your heart's content.

mailänderli - milanese cookies
makes about 20 large cookies
recipe adapted from elisabeth fülscher's (a swiss legend) cookbook

125 g butter, room temperature
125 g sugar
1 egg
1 organic lemon, zest
250 g flour

2 yolks, for brushing
coarse sugar, for decorating

prepare the dough for the mailänderli the same way as for the christmas tree cookies (above). cream butter, sugar and egg together for a while (a long while), add lemon zest and flour. refrigerate. roll out. cut out. brush with egg yolks and sprinkle with coarse sugar. bake at 160 c / 320 f for about 20 minutes. let cool.

Dec 12, 2014

mushroom cream soup & café de paris butter

if i had to pick either lifestyle - rustic or glamorous - i wouldn't really know which one to pick... i'm a rustic girl at heart, who loves the reduced and simple country life, cooking my own jam, wearing an old pair of rubber boots. but then again, i wouldn't want to miss an outing at the opera, tea time at a lush 5 star hotel or a decadent dinner at a fancy restaurant. isn't life's secret to know how to do both, and to integrate both elements in your life? my mom, for example, goes to the opera by bike. she actually rides a bike to the opera. in her evening dress.

how do you go about picking your lifestyle? by occasion and daily mood - or do you rather have one line that you stick, religiously, too, for dear life?

this soup is the manifestation of this internal battle in me. it combines the best of both worlds, in a way. it's the simple earthiness of a mushroom, combined with some noilly prat for depth and that lush creaminess, all in one good bowl. oh, and did i mention the café de paris butter to go with the bread? right. that's extravagance in a little spread. not only because you'll have to get some tabasco and worcestershire sauce, that you'll likely never use again (except maybe for a decadent bloody mary brunch... hmm, there's an idea!). 

mushroom cream soup & café de paris butter
recipe by my ever so glamorous but relaxed mom (who's a soup expert, among many other things)

serves four

ingredients for the soup: 
750 g mushrooms, diced
20 g porcini mushrooms, dried
1/2 vegetable onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 parsley root, diced
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
some flour
1 dl noilly prat or white wine
1 l vegetable broth
parsley, the stems, chopped
1 organic lemon, zest and a little juice
salt, pepper, nutmeg

1 handful mushrooms, diced
1 tbsp. olive oil
thyme and parlsey, finely chopped
salt and pepper

to begin with, soak the dried porcini in enough hot water for a couple of minutes, then drain and dice. heat the olive oil and butter in a saucepan. sweat the onion and garlic in it. add the mushrooms - both the fresh ones and the soaked ones - and the parsley root. fry everything, then dust with a little flour (to ensure the soup has the right consistency later). when the mushrooms are golden-brown, deglaze with the noilly prat and let it cook until the liquid has almost evaporated. add the vegetable broth and the parsley stems and let everything cook for about 10 minutes. puree with an immersion blender. season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. refine with some lemon zest and juice. keep warm.

fry the remaining mushrooms in a little oil. season with salt and pepper, thyme and parsley. shortly before serving, whip the cream and season it with salt and pepper. fold it into the soup. divide into bowls, garnish with the fried mushrooms and drizzle some parsley oil on top. 

café de paris butter spread
with some bread, that's your ideal snack or starter 

ingredients for the café de paris butter:
100 g butter, melted
1 tbsp. curry powder
1 tbsp. paprika powder
1 tbsp. sherry
1 tsp. tabasco
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. thyme, leaves
salt, pepper

melt the butter and add all the spices. blend well. season well with enough salt (important) and pepper. pour the butter into a little bowl and refrigerate. when the butter is almost cold again and hardened, you can shape it with the back of a hot spoon by brushing over the top of the butter. serve with a good, rustic (or lush) bread.

Dec 9, 2014

snowflake pepper cookies

the first snow is always something magic. even as a grown-up, the magic of the first snow does not fail to amaze me. i can't wait to dance in the snow and dig my fingers in it. maybe even touch a handful with my cheeks. to feel falling snowflakes on my lashes, melting quickly upon getting in touch with warm skin. is it just me or is fresh snow turning people into more pleasant - romantic spirited, sometimes even - fellows? 

i wanted to capture the true longing for the first snow with these snowflake or ice crystal pepper cookies. i made some typical gingerbread men shapes, too, because we used them for place cards on a family gathering. and because the snowflakes were a bit of a piece of work, really. but the output is fairly decent. 

i can't wait for the snow to be here. and while we play the waiting game, this is the perfect song to live to while we're longing for and dreaming of a white christmas.

ps: sweet paul makes the best things. i simply adore him.

snowflake pepper cookies
rezept auf deutsch auf si style

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. white pepper, ground
2 tbsp. ginger, ground
2 tsp. allspice, ground
1 tbsp. cinnamon, ground
1 tsp. salt
250 g butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 muscovado dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup molasses
2 tbsp. honey

for the glaze:
1 - 2 cups confectioners' sugar
a little milk

whisk together the flour and spices. beat the butter with the sugars until creamy and fluffy. add egg to the butter and beat to combine. add vanilla, molasses and honey and mix until thoroughly incorporated. add the flour mixture in 2 batches, mixing just until combined. turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into discs. wrap nicely with cling film and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight, ideally (play the waiting game, again). 

preheat the oven to 160 c / 350 f and line two baking sheets with parchment. working one disc at a time, roll the dough on a lightly floured surface. cut with cutters of your choice. then place on the baking sheets and repeat with remaining dough. save your scraps! they can be patched together and re-rolled. bake until just set and crisped at edges, about 10 minutes. transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

for the glaze, mix together confectioners' sugar with as much water as needed for your desired consistency (mine was rather thick, not runny). fill into a small piping bag with a tiny nozzle or simply into a plastic zip lock bag, where you cut off the tip to create a pipe. decorate the cookies with ice crystal designs or your gingerbread men with buttons or whatever your heart desires. let set and dry. then store in an airtight container.

Dec 8, 2014

wintery minestrone with kale

apart form decking the halls, i take care to incorporate a couple of other holiday traditions. making wreaths is one. baking cookies, sometimes. elaborately wrapping my gifts, eating raclette at the holiday food stalls, watching christmas movies, eating a club sandwich with my mom, etc. and, not the best (because only giving is better) but still not bad is: getting a gift for myself, too.

this year, i haven't made up my mind what it should be. i'm thinking either a onepiece (though my better half most likely wouldn't approve, haha) or a new cookbook. what's the better surprise for myself? 

on the other hand, let's be honest: i've already splurged on not only one but two christmas tree ornaments shopping sprees. i came home with 5 different pieces each time. not the cheap ones, ahem. but hey, i like to tell myself they'll last forever and even my grandchildren will enjoy them on a tree.

wintery minestrone with kale
rezept auf deutsch auf si style

1 liter home made vegetable broth or bouillon
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 celery root, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 leek, diced
1/2 celery stalk, diced
1 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large can tomatoes, chopped
3-4 tsp. brown lentils
parsley stems (from one bunch of parsley that's used for the oil - see below), finely chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 leaves kale, finely diced
1 fresh tomato, peeled and diced
salt, pepper, nutmeg

for the parsley oil:
1 bunch parsley, leaves, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove
1 organic lemon, grated zest
4 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. honey
salt, pepper

parmesan, freshly grated
one handful fresh parsley, finely chopped

firstly prepare the vegetable broth - if you want to make it yourself. else, start by cleaning and preparing the vega. heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the onion, carrot, celeries and leeks. brown the vegs a little. then add the garlic. deglaze with the vegetable broth or water and bouillon. add the canned tomatoes (without the excess juice). add the lentils and parsley stems as well and let simmer on low for 20 minutes. then add the potatoes and kale and cook some more for about 15 minutes. at the end, add the fresh tomato and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. 

for the parsley oil coarsely chop the parsley leaves, then blend together with the olive oil, garlic and est. season with salt, pepper and honey.

divide the soup between bowls, sprinkle with some fresh parsley and a couple of drops of parsley oil. garnish with freshly grated parmesan and serve with a glass of heavy red wine.

Dec 4, 2014

holiday home

it's the season to be merry! and to begin with, there's always the same, much beloved tradition: decking the halls. in other years, the results looked like this and this and this. there are the traditional home made  tree trimmings wreaths, the mistletoe (a must have for the fork and flower headquarters, as it's in the logo, too, and i am looking forward to it all year), poinsettia, ornaments, candles, scented candles and votives, twinkling fairy lights, pine cones, extra long matches and this year even a vintage pair of skis! enjoy the the holiday season! x