Apr 23, 2014

gnocchi di patate with ramps

with one third* of the year almost already over, i feel like i'm ready to do the accounting… it's been a good beginning, for sure. and it's looking really, really rosey in the near future, too. for starts, well, how to spill the beans… i've sort of, maybe, kind of, possibly met someone (i've already known for decades). with the result that i kinda feel like i've been woken up from a sleep. it's been a whirlwind, fun and meaningful and intense and light - all in one. i realise i sound a bit crazy? well, seeing everything through the pink shades does that to you. or maybe it's the sugar overdose (how many chocolate rabbits have i been scarving down since easter, really…? i assume you don't even want to know… it's almost obscene...). yeah, it's been a good third* of a year and i can't wait for what the rest has in store. i'm positive, like i'm on a permanent holiday somewhere beachy, sunny, where the rosé wine flows in rivers and where you can have lunch dressed in nothing but your bikini… this feeling is the best. better than dancing through the night (though that, with the right person, might come to a close second) and definitely better than chocolate. and that accounts for something.

enough of the kitschy mood! food, you guys! 

when it comes to gnocchi, i must say i'm not entirely, totally fond of the donna hay fraction - although everyone knows i adore miss hays… it's just that: her 'fast' approach at everything means she also makes her gnocchi the fast way, i.e. with ricotta. i've been there, done that (often), served it, licked the plates. call me red handed, yes. but….! oh, gnocchi di patate…! made from potatoes! they're something entirely different. more work, yes, duh. but oh so worth the extra effort. the next time you make gnocchi from scratch, consider something new, because, after all, life is for going beyond your comfort zone, right?

ramps gnocchi di patate

1 kg floury potatoes
500 g ramps
2 eggs
250 - 300 g flour
100 g butter
1 cup sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped
salt, pepper and musk
grated cacio pecorino, for garnish

wash the poatoes, and cook them, unpeeled, for 25 minutes in salted water. drain, then arrange on a baking sheet. pierce with a fork a couple of times and let dry for 30 minutes in the oven (at 120 c / 250 f). wash the ramps and pat dry thoroughly. chop very finely. peel the still hot potatoes, then work through a passevite (food mill). add eggs, ramps and 250 g flour, season with salt, pepper and musk. knead until well combined. if necessary (i.e. if mixture is too moist) add more flour. on a floured surface, form the dough into a ball, then cut into eight parts. form each part into long, snake-like logs, about the thickness of your thumb. use a knife to cut into small, pillow-like pieces of about 2cm width each. cook the gnocchi in salted water until the gnocchi appear at the surface of the water, then remove with a sieve. in the meantime, slowly melt the butter on medium heat until browned, then add the finely chopped tomatoes and season with salt, pepper and musk. arrange the gnocchi on a plate, drizzle with the tomato butter and serve with freshly grated cacio.

* somehow i keep mixing up quarters and thirds... but it's definitely a third now with four months in. my math teacher mr. limacher would be proud of me. or not. 

Apr 22, 2014

when in milan...

when in milan, you should undoubtedly do (at least) two things: eat well and shop (just stop before you actually drop - or before your credit card starts to burn...). naturally, we did both. and though we actually wanted to put more emphasis on the lucullan part (i.e. sit, eat, drink coffee, watch people) for hours on end, the shopping bit got a bit out of hand and actually took up most of our day... ahem. we were a bunch of girls, after all. so yes, we opted only for a quickie (i.e. practical and super efficient, if you have other things than pizza forever on your mind, too) - street food lunch was on. where better to go than luini, just off piazza del duomo and the famous rinascente? now, luini is famous for panzerotti. if the two 100 meter long queues (each!) aren't enough of a proof for you, then you must go and try one for yourself. you probably think what makes a piece of dough with a bit of mozzarella so special? well, it's everything and nothing. it's what you can't explain that makes it special. maybe it's the fact that they're deep fried and crispy outside - but still doughy and gooey inside. maybe it's the fact that they're made in italy, where, miraculously, tomatoes and mozzarella just taste better. i don't really have an explanation. but hundreds of stylish italians queuing can't be wrong. best street food ever. plus that cannolo siciliano...? i have died and gone to dolci heaven, so to say.

whoever thinks shoes make us girls happy, i can only say: yes, not entirely wrong, but carbs & sweets... don't ever forget the sweets!

Apr 21, 2014

nettle bread with wild herb curd

what 4 days off can do for you… i spent the long easter weekend in my hometown luzern, that's really so pictureqsque (seee for yourself on instagram). i'm thoroughly knackered after everyting, but also, the soul's batteries have been recharched. ready to rock tuesday tomo! 

apart from that, if i had to pick one aliment to eat eternally, it'd be bread. and i mean anything ranging from challah to focaccia to wholemeal to sourdough… bread is my friend, and always welcome in my book. and i mean i love it for what it is and as such. but a foolproof way to improve it even more is to add a good spread. my favorite is curd. and here we have a fantastic duo of nettle bread (we went to pick it ourselves, christine and me) and a wild herb curd.  christine captured the mood extremely good, the rustic, dirty, dark appeal of the bread. almost makes me smell it again, hmm.

nettle bread with wild herb curd

for two nettle breads:
600 g flour
1 tsp. salt
10 g fresh yeast
400 ml lukewarm water
1 tsp. sugar
100 ml olive oil
75 g nettle leaves
1 tsp. maldon sea salt

directions for the bread:
combine the flour and salt in a bowl. put the yeast in lukewarm tap water, add the sugar, stir well to dissolve. let sit for about 10 minutes. make a well in the flour, pour in the yeast mix, cover lightly with a bit of flour and let sit again for 10 minutes, until bubbles form. then begin to knead, adding 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. knead the dough either with a mixer or by hand for 10 minutes. put the dough back into the bowl and cover wit cling foil. let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour until doubled in size. in the meantime, clean the nettle and take off only the leaves (discard the stems). oh, wear gloves to do this, by the way. pat dry with kitchen paper. after the dough has risen, knead in the nettle leaves, leaving some to put on top. half the dough into two equal parts and with floured hands shape into balls. preheat the oven to 220 c / 430 f. put the breads on a baking sheet lined with parchment, garnish with the remaining, brush with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle liberally with maldon sea salt. let the breads rise again for 15 minutes. reduce the oven's heat to 180 c / 360 f. bake the breads for 20 to 23 minutes. let cool but serve slightly warm - with the wild herb curd (as follows). 

for the wild herb curd:
1 cup curd
1 handful ramps, finely chopped
1 handful lady's smock blooms, finely chopped
1 handful daisies, finely chopped
1 handful lesser celandine, finely chopped
1 handful bedstraw or cleaver, finely chopped
…or whatever wild or conventional herbs you have at hand, really
1/2 lemon, zest and juice
1 tsp. fleur de sel
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

directions for the curd: 
combine all the ingredients, season with salt and pepper. 

all pictures in this post by christine benz

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