April: a usually wonderful month of the year – flowers start reappearing from their winter sleep, chestnut stands slowly transform into ice cream stands along the lake, winter jackets can finally do what they do best (live in the attic), one can leave work in daylight and even go for a run before the sun sets. Technically so much to love – everyone seems to be in a happy mood now that the cold has passed. Or so we thought it had passed….. last weekend the warmth decided to take a leave of absence making way for some spring snow. How rude!
The snow did not stop me from embracing the supposed spring season – it is finally asparagus time again! A delicious unique vegetable which has the questionable side note of adding a peculiar smell to ones pee. We can count ourselves lucky that not all produce does that….. I wouldn’t want to know what aubergine urine could smell like…. or how about egg? Anyways, in keeping with the season with a hint of snow, I attempted a warming spring pasta dish using six ingredients: asparagus, cream, lemon, garlic, parmesan and, of course, pasta. Turned out yums – perfect for a mid week meal and freezable lunch!
Lemony Asparagus Cream Pasta
About one month ago I moved cities within Switzerland. Exciting! Not such a biggie though as a trip to my old “home” is only one hour by train. But, nonetheless, new city (which I love!) = new traditions, or lack thereof. First lack: Herbstmesse. That’s right, there is no Herbstmesse where I now live (SO SAD!!).
For those of you who don’t know Herbstmesse, it’s the Basel autumn fair which last for 2 weeks, spreads across the whole city and is well-known for rides, games and most importantly food. Lots of exciting edible things to indulge in are unique to the Herbstmesse, eg. Beggeschmutz (something like a chocolate covered giant marshmallow), Mässmogge (sugar-candy), Brennti Mandle (caramelised almonds), Biberli (gingerbread like heaven filled with almond paste), Rosekiechli (a thin kind of waffle), Maagebrot (cinnamony/clove/chocolatey bread bites coated in a chocolate/sugar glaze), the list goes on. My personal favorite: Maagebrot. Directly translated it would be called stomach bread…. doesn’t sound too appetising. Honestly, it also doesn’t look appetising. But the combination of the cocoa, cinnamon and cloves in the bread with a thin chocolatey glaze is irresistible.
In an attempt to bring a bit of the autumn fair feeling into my new home I decided to make Maagebrot. To my surprise, it wasn’t even that difficult. As mentioned before, its appearance really isn’t that appetising so sorry for the picture. Try to imagine a christmassy smell, recreate at home and dig in alongside a cup of hot chocolate!
Happy Monday! Happy commuting life to me. After a month of funemployment I am back in the working community. What’s different apart from the job? I have to commute. Naturally, my naive self assumed that Swiss trains are reliable. After a nervousness filled sleepless night, I decided to get an early train to 100% make sure I’d be on time for my first day. Little did I know that no trains were running due to some confused (and maybe hungover) train blocking multiple tracks (?!?!). You can only imagine the panic that broke out in my mind. So much for my planned relaxing train breakfast. So much for making a good impression on my first day. In the end I did make an entrance – half an hour late. For you non-swiss that might be acceptable, for us it’s terrible.
Anyways – for my commuting I invested in this great muesli-on-the-go cup (it was a fully instagram inspired 2am kind of buy after a late shift). My first use of it: yoghurt/fruit with home-made granola. Once I did manage to get onto a train it was delicious and calming. Especially the granola – peanut butter, pecan and chocolate. The pecans are probably the best part. Granola is so simple, so rewarding and requires few ingredients. Great for commuting, great for any breakfast, also great directly out of the jar. Try it!
Peanut Butter, Pecan and Chocolate Chip Granola
Upon returning from an exciting Scandinavian road trip I feel I need to detox. Firstly from alcohol, secondly from meat/fish. The Scandinavians have some incredible fresh fish, smoked shrimps and I’m sure you’ve all heard of the famous swedish meatballs. Let me tell you, Ikea’s meatballs are surprisingly good in comparison to the ones you’ll find in a proper restaurant.
Anyways, after 2 weeks my body has started to strike and seems to be craving vegetarian alternatives. And no, the new Ikea vegetarian hot dog does not count (although it is admittedly delicious). Meatless Monday has been around for long – high time to add it to my routine. Inspired by all the beetroot Scandinavians include in their dishes, especially hummus, I attempted a vegetable/feta galette. I went all out and even made the pastry from scratch, apologies for the rustic look. A great start to the week with perfect leftovers for lunch.
Beetroot, Carrot, Leek and Feta Galette
adapted from a friends farm to home vegetable subscription
What is your favorite on-the-go breakfast? In winter, mine is oatmeal (with lots of cinnamon and honey). In summer it used to be müesli with yoghurt and fruits. That got a bit repetitive and I never managed to keep the müesli as crispy as I’d like to. With my upcoming job change in mind (which requires commuting) I decided to try something new: Overnight oats, a.k.a. cold oatmeal. Sounds quite nasty actually. You may be thinking why try turn a winter breakfast into a summer version, but let me tell you, it is delish. Cool, refreshing, full of flavor, satisfying and also filling. Perfect for a commute to work. Of course you can experiment around with the flavoring, but you and I both know that peanut butter, banana and chocolate are a match made in heaven.
Peanut Butter, Banana and Chocolate Overnight Oats
One handed cooking didn’t prove to be so easy after all – my meal plan went down the drain. As did all culinary experiments. The most exciting dish was pasta with homemade sauce, which is tasty but definitely nothing to boast about.
For those of you who have never had a cast – cast removal after 6 weeks of immobilisation ist bizarre. Your limb feels as though gravity has no effect and it is floating above your head. It misses its tight cocoon. The stiffness of your joints coming out of a cast is also fascinating. I could hardly move my wrist in any angle. Another fun fact of post cast life: the emerging limb is a lot hairier than before! That’s right – black hair is suddenly everywhere and makes you feel 1/4 bear, without the perks of being able to roar or elegantly catch fish.
Anyways, this syrup definitely needs two hands to make – picking elderflowers with one hand might prove tricky (I even found it difficult with two hands..). Elderflower syrup is an essential ingredient for one of the most refreshing summer drinks on this side of the world – a Hugo = Prosecco + ederflower syrup +fresh mint + soda. Need I say more?
I hope you all spent a fabulous Easter with your family, ate delicious roasted lamb, drank some fruity wine and indulged in things you gave up for Lent. Our Easter felt a bit more like Christmas, waking up to at least 15cm of fresh snow each morning. Great for everyone who can ski – spring skiing is the best. Not so fun for people like moi who are one-armed and banned from all winter sports. I did make good use of my ski pass though and soaked up some sun on the top of mountains. Wonderful.
Need an idea of what to do with some left over chocolate bunnies? How about trying this classic, adapted from an Italian chef – Gennaro Contaldo. It’s one of the last desserts I made for my father and to my (and his) surprise he declared it better than his beloved Stalden chocolate crème (a Nestlé dessert classic for the true Swiss). Now, my friends, trust me when I say that is a compliment. See for yourself.
Chocolate Amaretto Pudding