Nov 21, 2014

matzo ball soup

dumplings and soup is a winning combination. possibly always. for me, it's only connected to very good memories and happy moments. so i'd like to think of this soup of my "magic potion". 

this weekend, we're going to baste a turkey (frequently), drink some wine (occasionally) and cheer each other on while doing so (both). i gotta say i'm thankful for so many things this year, it probably wouldn't even fit on a list. first and foremost for friends, family and love. with this, i'm wishing you the happiest weekend, with a bit of pre holiday spirit here and there and many blessings.

matzo ball soup (revisited)
rezept auf deutsch auf si style

ingredients for the broth:
2 carrots
1 onion
1 leek
1 garlic clove
1/2 sellerie root
1/2 parsley root
1 sellerie stalk
parsley stalks (from the herbs)
sufficient salt and probably some vegetable bouillon to add some more oomph)

note: you can use any vegetable scraps and leftovers for making a broth; the most wanted are herb stalks, mushrooms, carrot tops or other greens, onion peels etc. what i sometimes like to add is fennel, collards or savoy cabbage.

ingredients for the matzo balls:
3 eggs
2 cups matzo meal
3 tbsp. tonic water or soda water
3 tbsp. semolina
60 g butter or schmaltz, warm
1 garlic clove, ground
1 knife's point harissa
1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
some pepper
generous pinch of nutmeg

for serving:
1 carrot, diced
1 bunch parsley. finely chopped
some dill, finely chopped

for the broth, coarsely chop all the vegs and bring to a simmer in about 2 liters of water. let cook on medium heat for about one hour. drain, pour back in the pan and season with salt (and/or some vegetable bouillon). keep warm. 

for the matzo balls, whisk the eggs, tonic water, harissa and garlic. add matzo meal, semolina and warm butter and combine. season with salt, pepper and musk. refrigerate for 2 hours, so that the dough gets firm, i.e. the matzo meal and semolina needs to soak up the liquid and the butter cools and firms up, too. the dough should be "shapeable".

bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. reduce the heat to a simmer. with wet hands, shape little balls. boil them in the water for 8 to 10 minutes, until cooked through. usually they're ready when they're swimming on top. note: make one test ball, first, to see if the consistency of the dough is right. you might have to add more matzo meal. drain, then either leave to cool on a wire rack (so that they don't turn mushy) or use immediately. divide between plates, then ladle in the hot broth. 

you should add some quickly blanched carrots (just put them in the broth a couple of minutes before serving) and herbs. voilà, ready to serve.

Nov 18, 2014

chai poached pear with jersey blue

you know those fancy restaurants, where you can pick cheese or dessert? to me, to choose between cheese and dessert is an impossible task. or the outcome seems to be a lose-lose, somehow. because i obviously always want both. 

those pears are kind of like my signature dish. i like to make them for brunches, dinner parties and even just a simple meal of its own, in many varieties

chai poached pears with jersey blue
rezept auf deutsch auf si style

6 smallish pears
1 liter apple juice
1 liter cranberry juice
1 organic orange, juice and peel
1 organic lemon, juice and peel
700 g sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
2 vanilla beans, scraped
1 tbsp. black pepper corns
1 tbsp. pink pepper corns
4 star anise
1 tbsp. cloves
4 cardamom pods
1 tbsp. coriander seeds
1 piece ginger, peeled and chopped

cheese of choice
some nuts for garnish
6 fresh bay leaves (or other ever green)

put the apple and cranberry juice in a large pot and add all the other ingredients: spices, sugar, orange juice and peel, lemon juice and peel. bring to a boil. in the meantime, peel the pears and cut off the bottom of them so they sit upright. when the chai boils, reduce the heat to a simmer, then poach the pears in it for about 10 to 15 minutes. remove from heat, cover and let the pears cool in the juice. leave in the chai juice until ready to serve, so the pears keep nice and juicy. drain from juice (you can keep the juice and serve it hot, as a mulled wine), stick a bay leaf into each pear, arrange on a plate and serve with cheese and nuts of your choice.

Nov 14, 2014

cavolo nero with lemon & grapes

the one thing i'd definitely invest more time should i, uhm, ever have "more time" on hand (like, leisure time, time spent merely doing nothing that needs to be done), it would be learning to make cocktails. not sushi (i believe sushi making is not for home cooks, thank you). not macarons cupcakes (because: dito! although i'm aware there are a couple of real pros in this field... hey guys!). not pasta. no, cocktails. because, well, obviously it's a matter of priorities. ahem.

so this cool looking book here that i want to snuggle up with in bed at night, called "the drunken botanist" is one great new addition to my library. it gives you a pretty thorough introduction into all things alcohol and drinks making history. oh, yes, forgot the killer argument: the guy in your life will probably like it, too. 

inspired by this book, i created a meal. obviously it's green too. ha! now, greens may not everybody's (child's) darling. i, on the opposite, love a good green. and i embrace bitterness. not literally, ha! but taste wise i embrace earthy tastes. when i'm entertaining, though, i usually steer clear from all the potentially bitter components, such as rucola, radicchio or collards. apart from that, collards and kale types are rather difficult to get around here, anyway. meaning: we don't have the all-year-long kale craze going on. i actually kind of pity that.

sometimes, when i want to make an extra effort (for myself, because guests, as mentioned, are not the subject here), though, i'll make the extra 'detour' to one of the delicatessen shops in the city. not really on my way home. but hey, a good bunch of kale power should never be pushed from a plate. i like mine especially with a squeeze of lemon. it offsets the bitterness and makes it more round. i know some massage their kale to make it more smooth... but, uhm... no. just, no. a good ol' lemon will have to do to make it tender. 

ps: cavolo nero is available in italy, mainly. around the us it's common under "black kale" or "tuscan kale". in switzerland we just stick to the cavolo nero term. 

fun fact: pardon my french, but isn't it cute how an italian speaking friend of mine sometimes sais "cavoli" ("collards") whenever she wants to express her dissatisfaction with something? unfair (for the collards) - but nonetheless such a cute swear word.  

cavolo nero with lemon & grapes

1 bunch cavolo nero or any other leafy green, e.g. kale or collard or even broccoli rabe
1 cup pecorino, grated
1 handful grapes, halved and deseeded

3 tbsp. good extra virgin olive oil
1 organic lemon, zest and juice
1 tbsp. preserved lemon, finely chopped (if you do not have preserved lemon, omit)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 knife's point harissa
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. sumac (if available)
salt and pepper to taste

wash and clean the cavolo nero. cut it into two-finger-width slices, horizontally (you can stack a couple of leaves on top of each other for cutting). heat a large pot of water. blanch the sliced cavolo nero in it for about 3 to 4 minutes. drain and immediately cool in ice cold water, to stop the cooking process. drain again and pat dry, thoroughly.

to make the doubly lemony dressing, combine the lemon juice, zest and preserved lemon. whisk in the olive oil, garlic, harissa, honey and sumac. season lightly with salt (because the pecorino adds saltiness, as well, later) and pepper. half the grapes, grate the cheese.

in a large bowl, combine the cavolo, lemon dressing and grated pecorino cheese. combine well, arrange on plates and scatter with halved grapes.

Nov 11, 2014

lindt chocolate bundt cake with ganache frosting & pomegranate

as a kid, i used to love roald dahl and his books. especially "charlie and the chocolate factory". willy wonka and his oompa loompas seemed so eery and mysterious to me. a fantasy world of sweets and candy, rivers of chocolate, of friendship and adventure. ever since, i've dreamed about owning a chocolate factory, myself. 

during uni, i landed a job in marketing at lindt & sprüngli, the famous swiss chocolatier. i was over the moon about the fact that i got to start in a real chocolat factory. as it turned out, working there was even better: every day was happiness. no kidding. it might have something to do with the fact (or the myth) that the air over the lindt & sprüngli factory is heavily infused with thick waves of the most luscious chocolate scents. it literally smelled of melted chocolate, all day long, every day. and how can you not be happy in such an environment? needless to say, i never wanted to leave.

i never made it to ceo of lindt (or any other chocolate factory, for that matter) but lindt has a special place in my heart carved out ever since. still to date, using lindt's tempting, intensely dark chocolate bars (the more, the better) for cooking or baking is something almost mystic for me. i would open the bars with much care in an almost ritual approach, inhaling the deep, warm chocolate scents as i went. what i particularly like is the new, vintage inspired wrap. makes it even more of a thrill. confession: i might or might not store dozens of bars, piled high one on another, at home, at all times. should baking fever catch me, i'd be ready, armed with lindt for days.

the end of the story is: there is nothing better in the world than working with chocolate, either side of the value chain. making chocolate - or making something of chocolate. 

to give this cake some of the spotlight, at last: well, it obviously couldn't possible consist of more chocolate. three bars went inside - and two on top. the pomegranates make it exotic and a little bit christmassy looking, already. i'm getting into the swing of the holidays, i can't deny it. i'll probably bring out the fairy lights (silver pine coned shapes), soon (if i haven't already, and that's my dirty little secret, as ever).

lindt chocolate bundt cake with ganache frosting & pomegranates
rezept auf deutsch auf si style

for 1 large bundt cake pan

300 g lindt dark chocolate (49%), broken into pieces
320 g butter, room temperature
6 eggs
2 1/2 dl milk
4 tbsp. rum
600 g flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 large pinch salt

butter and some chocolate powder for the pan

for the ganache:
200 g lindt dark chocolate (49%), broken into pieces
2 dl heavy cream
1 pomegranate, arils (or sprinkles)

preheat the oven to 180 c / 350 f. butter a large bundt pan with melted butter, then dust with a little chocolate powder. melt the chocolate very slowly on lowest heat in a pan, then set aside to cool a little. in the meantime, cream together butter and sugar. add one egg after another and mix some more to incorporate them well. add milk and rum.

in another bowl, combine the flour with the salt and the baking powder. sieve into the wet ingredients. combine well. then add the melted chocolate. pour the dough into the prepared pan.

bake the cake for about 55 minutes or until a stick inserted comes out clean. remove and let cool for a while (15 minutes) before removing it from the pan. leave to cool completely on a rack (2 hours).

for the ganache frosting, heat the cream in a saucepan, remove from the stove and add the chocolate. smooth with a spatula. the ganache can now either be used right away or only after some waiting time, which will render the ganache more thick. either way, make sure you smooth it out occasionally with a spatula. pour the ganache onto the bundt cake. don‘t spread it, simply shake the cake a little. let cool and dry a little, then spread the pomegranate arils on top.

Nov 7, 2014

roasted pumpkin with walnut pomegranate salsa

is it just me or does the pumpkin-everything fever take over not only pinterest but also mainland, switzerland? i've seen strange types of pumpkins pop up everywhere, from spaghetti squash to grey star pumpkins, acorns to albino pumpkins... well, and they're in every food, too. doesn't matter if it's sweet or savoury. or both. there are pumpkin spiced chai soy lattes. and pumpkin cranberry breads.  and pumpkin yoghurt cakes. and pumpkin seed oil kale smoothies. just... nah. this is too much.

what i do love, however, is a great, big bowl of steaming pumpkin soup. hmm. i think i'm going to make one tonight, actually.  and roasted, roasted pumpkin is basically the best way to make pumpkin, anyway. this salsa here was so fragrant, a little bitter but also refreshing and fruity with the pomegranate. a real feast for the eye - and the mouth, too. 

roasted (musque) pumpkin with walnut pomegranate salsa

rezept auf deutsch auf si style

1 medium sized musque pumpkin - or crookneck, acorn, butternut squash (anything works)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. fleur de sel

ingredients for the salsa:
200 g walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 pomegranate, arils
1 organic orange, juice
2 tbsp. zest of organic orange
3 tbsp. olive oil 
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. harissa
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp. fleur de sel
1 handful parsley
a little pumpkin seed oil, to finish things off

first, half the pumpkin, discard the seeds, then cut into slices. leave the skin on (it renders soft with baking and it gives the pumpkin more character). massage it (just kidding, brushing will do) with olive oil, sprinkle with salt. bake at 200 c / 400 f for about 30 minutes. remove and let cool to room temperature. 

in the meantime, prepare the salsa (the salsa can be prepared ahead): toast the walnuts in a dry pan for a couple of minutes, shake occasionally. remove, let cool. remove the arils of the pomegranate (to do this stainfree, i suggest doing it while submergin the pomegranate halves in a bowl of water). make a dressing with the remaining ingredients: orange juice and zest, olive oil, soy sauce, maple syrup, harissa, garlic and salt. add the walnuts, pomegranate and parsley. combine well. arrange the pumpkin on a plate, then ladle the salsa on top, liberally. sprinkle with a little pumpkin seed oil, for extra pumpkin flavor kick. 

Nov 4, 2014

s'mores tarte

this tarte is quite literally the reincarnation of my holiday dream, in food shape: a trip through the us or canada, with occasional glamping (camping + glamour) and/or odd stay at an intimate cabin in the middle of nowhere. sprawling on a bear fur before a sizzling fire, i would no doubt make s'mores. 

uff, and do i like the fact that i do not have to explain what a s'more is here. or fluff. or a graham cracker, for that matter. because i don't, right?

here's the more elegant version of a s'more. a tarte. and i am dead pan certain it's pretty obvious why this creation is dreamy. so: zip!

s'mores tarte
rezept auf deutsch auf si style

you will need: 
1 pie pan (preferably with a removable bottom)
1 blow torch

ingredients for the pie crust: 
1 pack (200 - 300 g) graham crackers, finely ground (i used Leibnitz Butter Biscuits instead)
250 g butter, melted
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

ingredients for the chocolate ganache filling:
200 g dark chocolate
200 g heavy cream
2 eggs
1 pinch salt
1 tbsp. vanilla essence

ingredients for the topping:
1 jar fluff marshmallow cream
1 pack large marshmallows
note: instead of with fluff, the topping can be made with a meringue top (i.e. egg whites and sugar)

directions for the graham cracker crust:
preheat the oven to 160 c / 320 f. grease a pie pan (of about 27 cm) and refrigerate. ground the cookies either by hand or in a food blender. combine with the melted butter, sugar and salt. press into the pie pan on the bottom and up the sides, creating a crust of about 5mm thickness. bake for 12 to 15 minutes until crispy. let cool on a wiring rack. 

directions for the chocoalte ganache filling:
preheat the oven to 160 c / 320 f again. heat the cream in a saucepan. add the (broken) chocolate and stir well until the chocolate is fully melted. let cool a little, then add the eggs and work them in. add vanilla and salt as well. fill into the crust, bake for 25 minutes until the ganache filling has set. let cool completely. 

directions for assembling the s'mores tarte:
make a fluff top of about 2-3 cm height in the middle of the tarte. put marshmallows on top. bake at 160 c / 320 f again for about 15 minutes or until the marshmallows and cream are golden and a bit form on top. refrigerate. up until here, the tarte can be prepared (even one day ahead). shortly before serving, "grill" the marshmallows with a blow torch. either remove from the pan and serve on a cake stand (only works with a removable pie pan bottom) or serve it in the pan, as is.