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
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
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
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
I thought working in the ER would give me more time to advance on my culinary skills. Ha. I wish. (For once in my life) I was wrong. Shift work is tiring. The random free time you have, you actually need to recover from the inhumane hours. So, sorry for that!
But, to return with a scrumptios bang, I present to you a recipe for BBQ ribs ala moi (inspired by Jamie Oliver). On my recent trip to the big apple, one must-have american dish I didn’t indulge in is ribs. Ok, hate to break it, I also didn’t have cheesecake….. Whaaaaat was going on in my head?? How could I miss out? Honestly, I don’t know what happened. Well, instead of waiting for my next trip, I decided to recreate possibly the best ribs I have ever had – if you are in NYC or there soon don’t miss out on Georgia’s Eastside BBQ! Next time I think I have to double the sauce.
(Oven) BBQ Baby Back Ribs
(There is no way to make delicious, bbq-sauce drenched, ribs look beautiful)