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
For the next 6 weeks fate has decided to give me a new challenge: learn to cook with one hand. How come? After a wonderful girlie weekend filled with fresh mountain air, snow, saunas, steambaths, delicious food, excellent company and a terrifying but harmless mass collision on skis, we decided to end the fun with a bang: sledding. Sounded like a great idea. Proved to be a great idea, however, only until two of us lost control, flung ourselves off the sled in an attempt to brake, as one has learnt to as a child. We successfully came to a grinding halt. Sadly, three of our bones were none too pleased with the speed of our stop. Where did the two junior doctors, who clearly don’t know how to sled, end up? Their favorite place: the ER. Diagnosis? Fractures, to be precise 3 of them, fairly divided between the two of us (mine being the fractured wrist). The best part: we got matching green casts! Needless to say, we sure did end our holiday with a bang and a great story. Also, note to self: never go sledding again.
Now, as for one-handed cooking – it’s really not that easy. I miss my left hand! But, never give up and accept the challenge. Here my first successful one-handed dish. Simple (even with one hand), heart warming and delicious.
Cauliflower, Brussels Sprout and Bacon Gratin
One of the best inventions (if you can call it that) nature has brought with itself is honey. In any form, in any meal, in chapstick, in skin cream, in a hair mask – it always seems to find its place successfully. I completely understand and support it being the most important food in Winnie-the-Pooh’s universe.
My father’s family used to have beehives up on an Alp when he was a child (how Swiss, right?), yielding over a yearly supply of the golden goodness. We regularly try to inspire him to set one up again masking it as a new retirement project…. so far we have failed. On a recent road trip along the West Coast I came across an amazing shop revolving around bee keeping and honey in Portland, OR. I almost took the invisible project a step further by buying all the essentials for a DIY beehive… lucky for my father the only item I left the store with was a honey-inspired cookbook. And here you have it, a twist on one of their recipes – duck and honey are a great couple. Let me know what you think!
Oven Roasted Duck with a Raspberry Honey Sauce
inspired by The Fresh Honey Cookbook
Monday seems to be the least appreciated day of the week, especially in late Autumn. On Monday morning it’s especially hard to motivate oneself to leave the toasty duvet cocoon one has been working on all night. Understandable, all that nightly effort gone to waste! The cold wet weather currently passing by is definitely nothing to be enjoyed outside – a front row seat from under the covers more than suffices.
UNLESS, like today, your alarm wakes you to a Winter Wonderland! YAYS, Winter has arrived! Getting up was so much easier and filled with excitement, mainly because my blind self had to stand right in front of the window to confirm that the white haze I saw upon awakening was actually snow and not some post-cocoon-hallucination. Snowman time! Fireplace time! Ice skating time! Turkey time! Also, warming comfort food time! Comfort food of the day – roasted sweet potato and carrot soup – a delicious alternative to the usual pumpkin. Let me know what you think.
Roasted Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup
inspired by bbcgoodfood
What is your favorite childhood dessert? I’m sure you all have at least one fond sweet memory of either your mother’s or grandmother’s kitchen. There are many classic Swiss/German “children’s” desserts I (think) was deprived of in my childhood. Ok, that was phrased wrongly, as you know I was a fussy eater. My elders knew better than to serve me a bowl of something that would come right back their way.
Milchreis (rice pudding) was one of them, rote Grütze (something like a red fruit jelly) the other. After a recent birthday party filled with childhood memories, I decided to see what I missed out on all these years and attempted the latter. Conclusion: Aside from the adult-tailored lemony addition (which is amazing, but not child-friendly), I’m pretty sure I would have liked it back then.
Raspberry “Jelly” with Lemon Mascarpone
adapted from Wildeisen
It’s been far too long since I created something with the best (and yes, extremely unhealthy) ingredient: Nutella. My not so secret love affair. There are quite a few palm oil free “substitutes” around, but let’s be honest, none are as good as the original. When it comes to sweets, Italians know what they are doing.
With a trip to Italy in close vicinity, inspired by my Nutella recipe book, I thought I would attempt a twist on an Italian classic – Panna cotta. Funnily enough, I have never made Panna cotta before. One could tell. I knew it would be tricky. The consistency was more like pudding. Oops…… Nevertheless, it still passed as Nutella infused heaven and was an acceptable dessert for a girls’ games night. Regarding the games, it sadly didn’t give me a winning hand.
Based on ecological reasons, my flatmate has recently decided to turn vegetarian. My, was she a bacon lover.
Nonetheless, I fully support and understand her choice. Despite being born omnivores, the impact and consequences of today’s meat and fish consumption are horrendous. Not only is the amount of water used to produce one pound of meat (ca. 1600 litres, no joke) disgusting, the amount of ongoing soy bean cultivation to create enough meal for livestock is equally shocking. Since the 90’s, soy bean production has doubled globally, with about 85% of the produce being used for oil and meal. On average, for the 87kg meat and 250 eggs each European eats per annum, 400m2 of land are needed per person to keep up with the demand. Unimaginable. The rapid expansion has led to invasion of natural habitats, (including woodlands, rainforests, savannahs in South America), damaging water reserves, soil quality, ultimately threatening wildlife and biodiversity.
Something has to change. Something has to change fast. Reducing your meat and dairy intake would be a great first step – it is mine.
That being said, I went through my recipe index and was shocked by the small percentage of vegetarian dishes cited. So, to improve that statistic, I got to work and am proud to present you with a simple mid-week vegetarian gratin. Not dairy free, but delicious. Meat is definitely not missed here. Also, keeping in tune with the ecological theme, it is avocado free.
Asparagus Mushroom Gratin