Apr 17, 2014

wild herb gathering

remember the crazy chai pear and chocolate pudding tart...? that's when the collaboration (though, in all honesty, we stick to calling it 'playing around', actually) between photographer extraordinaire christine benz and my humble (aspiring food stylist, ahem) self started. by now, we're already two days, several hours of hard, sweaty work and a couple more insights on working together on food into this project. it's been fun, and continues to be. 

so here's the first sneak peek into our second shoot, on all things 'wild'. i'm really into wild things gathering (though i never properly know how to call it, really, it's just insane) and have brought back many a dandelion and ramp and sorrel to feed hungry mouths in different constellations. so we figured we simply must cover this passion with lovely, light-infused pictures - christine style, naturally. being what i refer to as 'just that perfect bit of imperfect' and 'a little dirty'. she manages to make beautiful things even more beautiful. it's like her pictures enhance reality. so, so dreamy. if you want to book her for your glossy (or rustic, come to think of it, she surely can do both) (food or otherwise) magazine, i'm sure she will be in? and, if i'm lucky, she might tug me along as her assistant slash tripod carrier. so, pretty please, give her some fancy fabulous jet-setty work, for my sake, will you? and i promise i'll continue the flow of inspiration, cake and, well, more cake, in return. it's a win-win situation, if you ask me.

but let me explain what it is that you're seeing here. for now, no recipes (obviously). but some pictures of me (utterly unglamorous, in mornign manière, with a totes naked face, ugh, why do i never manage to jump out of bed earlier when i'm having my picture taken...? i'm sure mom disapproves, she would never leave the house un-made-up and frizzy-haired like that, duh) and an overview of all the wild things we gathered. note (emphasis): we got up really, really early, like, in the wee hours, to find ramps (wild garlic or bärlauch, around here), lady's smock, dandelion, sorrel, lesser celandine etc. to toy around with all day long. basically everything edbile the woods and meadows provide. so, everything (!) featured in that compilation / herbarium style shot is edible, no kidding. also, did you spot the funny little explanation "tree buds"? yeah, that happened because i have no idea what kinda trees those were... those things happen. i did grow up somewhat on the countryside, but then again, lucerne was only a stone-throw away, and i'm guessing i'm more of a citydweller than a countrybumpkin, when it comes down to it (though i sometimes wish it wasn't so). anyhoo, i think it's fun and i tried to come up with really the best translations and indications i could muster. what else? oh, that rhubarb...? so vibrant, that popping red...! sighs. bliss, bliss, bliss.

what you're still going to see from christine and i: a wild herb foam soup with lady's smock (color blocking in a soup, literally. i'm positive my fashion forward styler friend ki will adore this), a fancy rustic nettle bread (yeah, ouch!) with a wild herbs spread and some freshly made gnudi (or gnocchi) with ramps and other wild thigns inside and fried dandelion buds on top, that will move you to tears, no kidding. 

for now, though, happy easter! i'm going to spend it with my girls, brunching (bitches who brunch, i believe the species is called, though i much prefer ladies who lunch, actually, but whatevs), out and about with a hottie (some clubs are calling, i'm guessing) and in my home town, lucerne, doing, oh, nothing at all. can't wait! a year ago, it was all sickness (my sister in law...) and worries and makign sure my brothers' kids were safe and happy and get enough chocolate to last them for a year. so i think, since everything improved since last year, we all deserve that tiny four-day vacay! let's make the most of it. cheers, loves!

Apr 13, 2014

roasted carrot and brown rice soup

i pride myself on knowing some things about life - mainly, that is, how to live it well with a focus on the small things - yet whenever i'm in another part of this world, i realise how little i actually know of the world. yet, that might make me acutely more aware of the things around me.

we spent the day yesterday in milan with a bunch of girls for shopping and eating. and it was marvellous to, yet again, soak up the magic that is italianità. the sexy hand gestures, the really stylish and carefully put together ensembles that they sport, on a normal saturday, when out and about. the masses of people drinking espresso macchiato outside on one or another place. the beautiful buildings. the singsongy language, the loud and often heated discussions that you get to overhear. it's a world so close to ours - yet entirely different.

i love to discover new things in new places. and yesterday, it was the discovery that the italians do in fact love their food, and do in fact go to certain length to get it. that, in fact, it's not a clichée. we were trying to get the best panzerotti in town - naturally, from luini, close to the piazza del duomo. you wouldn't believe me the size of the queues there…! 2 queues, actually, each a hundred meters long! people were queuing there, sporting the latest fashion, sexy sunglasses and waiting for an hour, in all happiness, to get the best little treat there is. it taught me that good things are worth the wait. and that sometimes, even the wait can be pleasant and fun. we shouldn't always live in the future moments, we should enjoy the now, and not stress about it to be over. we should just queue for good food more often, and seize the moment, and wallow in the anticipation of the first bite, while making conversation to fellow panzarotti lovers.

pictures of the scene coming soon!

ps: this soup has become one of my favorite fast meals. it might not look that refined, but it's actually just incredibly zesty, tangy, brothy and marvellous. 

roasted carrot and brown rice soup
recipe inspired by the first mess

3 carrots (i used heirloom ones, thus the extra dark color)
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. maldon sea salt
1 cup brown rice, cooked according to directions (and add a pinch of salt)
1 garlic clove
1 small piece ginger
1 tbsp. turmeric
1 lemon, juice
1 drop harissa
1 tbsp. gee or olive oil
4 cups good vegetable broth
1 tsp. paprika flakes
1 handful parsley, chopped

cook the brown rice according to directions (adding a pinch of salt). slice the carrots diagonally, coat with olive oil and cumin. season with maldon sea salt. roast in the oven (220 c / 420 f) for about 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown and tender (i.e. crispy outside). set aside. in the meantime, make the broth: heat the gee, then sweat the garlic, ginger and turmeric for a minute. add the broth, cook for a minute. season with harissa. shortly before serving, add the lemon juice. put the carrots and some brown rice in a bowl, ladle in the broth and garnish with parlsey. sprinkle with paprika flakes. serve with some additional lemon and harissa on the side. 

Apr 11, 2014

baked parsnip fries with tahini

this week was pretty intense in all areas of life. for starts, my friend's wedding recently resulted in a couple of new friends who promptly invited me to sing at their dad's birthday party, and an insanely glamorous and fun one, at that. the songs we picked were somewhat jazzy, swingy. since i'm a bit rusty in the singing department (ahem), i practiced on a couple of nights for a couple of hours each. i thought to include a champagne bottle and glass in my 'performance' (it does sound way more dodgy, i'm aware, than it actually was... though i know you only have my word for it...), so of course, instead of conducting a dry-run, i thought i'd go for the real deal and pour myself a glass of champagne to practice my moves (pathetic, yet true). but first, i danced around a bit for good measure - full party-dress and high heels on, champagne in hand. when i finally got to opening the bottle, well, let's say it was more like a scene from a formula 1 awards ceremony (i.e. more champagne on walls and basically everywhere than in the bottle, ahem). i am hilarious and eternally classy. so i drank the rest, because at least that wasn't supposed to go to waste, right. now, i'm usually not a drinker, let alone on week nights,  let (more) alone on sundays? but i really loved the notion bubbly all by myself (and the dancing, mind) on an otherwise uneventful sunday night. it kinda set the tone for the week, too: a glamorous, eventful, cheeky little week. a good one. thank you to everyone who made it special and filled it with love, laughter, surprises, a couple of dances, flirtations, tingles and joie de vivre.

i'll be in milan for the weekend, by the way. so, yes, the week kind of ends on a glamorous note, too. it will be all ballerinas, mozzarella bar, delicatessen stores and handbags. thank you.

baked parsnip fries with tahini 

4 parsnips
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. ground cumin
handful parsley, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp. tahini 
4 tbsp. warm water
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
maldon sea salt

slice the parsnips lengthwise and cut them into equally (or as equally as possible) sized (about 1cm wide) batons / fries. coat with the olive oil and the cumin, season with salt and roast on a parchment paper in the oven (220c / 420 f) for about 25 to 30 minutes, until crispy. turn once, halfway through. remove and arrange on a plate. in the meantime prepare a dressing with the tahini, warm water and lemon juice. add the garlic and season with maldon sea salt. drizzle over the fries, then scatter the chopped parsley on top.

Apr 3, 2014

bag secrets with… valeria

i'm immensely curious about other peoples' lives. aren't you? and us girls, we carry our lives in our handbags, don't we? sometimes i could set up shop with my bag and live out of it for a week. i even carry around a spare pair of tights sometimes of course i only have glamorous things with me.

so, a friend of mine, the gorgeous miss valeria, volunteered to show us both, her to die for handbag (that she lusted after and saved up for quite a while, she said) as well as the insides. a new feature for you! bag secrets, yay. 

as you can see: miss v has impeccable style from head to toes. and did you see? she even color coordinated her balenciaga classic city bag in coraille with her lipgloss and nail varnish! i might swoon. classiness, lady, classiness. you sure showed us how to stagger in style. oh, and those legs (not to get started on the bum)? delicious. good things we're friends, otherwise i'd probably think: what a bitch! haha. 

valeria's bag secrets:
balenciaga classic city bag in coraille
yves saint laurent rouge and lipgloss
louis vuitton beauty pouch
ray ban aviator sunnies
tory burch wallet
v6 chewing gum
victorinox ladies' credit card sized tool box
iphone & headphones
random hair clip 
random dinosaur key chain (cuuute)
random notebook and pen

Apr 2, 2014

noilly prat roasted artichokes

do you remember the nervous breakdown day, induced by a pile of treasured, vintage plates…? it was bad. well, since, i've stocked up on new and old plates, and i've also received a couple (probably as a result of my not so subtle whining… ahem). well, i thought i'd let you into my kitchen. this is the mess that is my kitchen cabinet. yes, it bends. shh! it won't break (i'm not a catholic, but every time i look at this cabinet, i mentally cross myself… and send a little prayer to heaven that it will, indeed, never, ever break, amen). uh, and it's, of course, only a tiny fraction. you haven't seen my other cabinets. and the commode in the dining room. and my cellar. oh, the cellar. you'll most likely never see it. because… mainly because it's crammed. it makes me look like i'm a messy. which i'm not really. i just like me a well equipped home, alrighty?

many of my favorite things start with the letter "a". avocados, aubergines and artichokes. coincidence? to me it feels like the three of them come with an endless flow of inspiration, and an infinite collection of possible creations. take artichokes. i've braised them, fried them, boiled them, confitted (?) them, stuffed them, sauteed them and  roasted them. i've used them in salads. i've even eaten them raw. god only knows, i've even turned them into a dip. now, on to some more roasting - because it's the simplest version there is. just toss with some good things (confession: i looove noilly prat… so good) and put in the oven until tender. 

noilla prat roasted artichokes

3 medium sized purple artichokes
1/2 cup noilly prat
1 cup good vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 lemon, juice
salt, pepper

prep the artichokes: remove the sturdy outer leaves and stems. cut into halves, then remove the inner "hay" (i suggest, as always, you wear gloves for the job, although i know some people like their hands to resemble that of a cole miner… not that that's a bad thing). immediately submerge into acidic lemon water. place the artichokes quarters into an oven proof pan, add the noilly prat (generous amount, right? but don't worry, it will taste lovely!), broth and bay leaves. season with salt and pepper. drizzle with olive oil. roast at 220c / 430f for about 25 minutes or until the artichokes are tender. 

Apr 1, 2014

blackberry basil bread

there is a smart saying that goes something like this: pick your battles wisely. every day means you experience things that go against what feels right to you. you could, of course, attack every negative little point and try to turn it into something positive. but, alas, you'll soon find your energy isn't sufficient. normally, i'm pretty good ad rationalizing my energy levels. i try to only invest negative emotions when there is absolutely no way around it. sometimes, though, to stand up for yourself, to pick a battle, to speak your mind and to be 'uncomfortable' for others, i.e. by telling the uncomfortable truth, is healing. it heals you from the inside out to be true to yourself. i'd encourage you (and myself, as well, on future occasions when i don't feel as brave as i do today) to be bold, to speak your mind and to not give a damn. sometimes, you need to fight to achieve a little peace and quiet. and i suggest you go about the peace with a margaritha or something equally slurptastic. 

blackberry basil bread
inspired by my fellow blogger the vanilla bean blog and the recipe is adapted from nigel slater

450g white flour
20 g fresh yeast
1 bunch basil, finely chopped
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp sugar
350ml warm water
250g blackberries (i used half frozen and half fresh ones)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp coarse sugar

put the flour in a large bowl, add the sea salt. dissolve the yeast in a part of the warm water, add the sugar to the yeast water. let sit for a while until "foam" develops, meaning the yeast starts to work. make a well in the flour, then pour the yeast into it. let sit again for about 10 minutes. now begin to mix with a wooden spoon, then turn the dough out on to a generously floured work surface. knead the dough lightly for five minutes or so. you need not be too enthusiastic; a gentle pummelling will suffice.

once the dough feels elastic and 'alive', put it into a floured bowl, cover with a clean cloth or clingfilm, then put it somewhere warm to rise (or, if overnight, in the fridge). it will take approximately an hour to double in size. once it has, then punch it down again, knocking some of the air out. now add the finely chopped basil leaves to the dough. add half the blackberries and gently knead in as well. roll it out or flatten it with your fingers (worked for me), place on a baking sheet. scatter the rest of the blackberries on top and press firm a bit. let rise again for 10 minutes. in the meantime, preheat the oven to 220c / 430 f.  drizzle over the olive oil, scatter with the remaining coarse sugar and bake for 35-40 minutes till well-risen, golden brown and crisp on top. It should feel springy when pressed. note: i tend to overbake bread and am then always disappointed… so i'm always going with a shorter baking time than indicated. though it depends on the size and height of your bread of course. cut into thick wedges and eat while it is still warm. 

oh, i suggest you take it out to a picnic with you and someone you really, really love. maybe there is margaritha, too. i'll have a watermelon one, please. thank you.

Mar 30, 2014

wild herbs crostini

as a kid, the only way to get me to walk five minutes without "a purpose" (as i called it, apparently) was an impossible endeavor. it wasn't that i didn't like nature. i was always out being adventures. but, simply to walk! an ordeal. and downright pointless in my eyes. a purpose though turned the whole thing of sunday walks around. give me a means of transport (blades, a kickboard, a bike) or something to collect and gather (like wild herbs, chestnuts, tea leaves or even just branches and stones or shells) and i was game (and willing to forget that i had to put one foot in front of the other in a seemingly senseless and never ending cycle…  

today, though, i'm more than happy to range the woods. in fact, i almost can not sit still at work when the sun is out. it pulls me towards the trees and meadows and fiels. to go and see what my friends wild galric, buds on trees, edible flowers and herbs do. every week, something new is out for us to discover. it is beautiful. but it puts me under so much pressure. a week without visiting the woods in spring is a waste. the differences and changes in the greens are incredible. it puts things into perspective. natures goes its course, no matter who's watching. so, i'm a bit stressed about the many (many!) posts i have in the pipeline for you, all starring precious wild herbs. the pictures sit on my computer and it freaks me out that every week they sit there means you get to see things that probably don't look the same anymore already at this stage of spring. some say i never really get around to blogging anymore, and that i'm not showing enough of the (millions?) of pictures i'm taking each time. where do they all end up? some ask (hi, mom!). well, i'm doing best i can. here's another, wild herbs included. 

wild herbs crostini

couple of crisp bread or toasted bread
1 cup curd
handful of different wild herbs. i used: wild garlic (bärlauch), cleaver (labkraut) - the one i hold in my hands, bishop's weed (giersch), lesser celandine (scharbockskraut) that tastes similar to cress and some random tree sprouts.
1 lemon zest, grated
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
radish and blooms (i used lady's smock, daisies and primrose) for decoration

finely chop the herbs. stir into the curd. season with lemon zest, salt and pepper. smear onto breads, then decorate with edible blooms and a fine slice of radish.