Corona, Corona….

Covid-19
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time + alcohol + time + cleaning + time + creativity +  time + new kitchen + cravings
=
Revival of The Medical Gourmet.

Just over a year ago the last sign of life made it to this blog….the horror! It’s not like I didn’t cook for 365 days and lived off of take away… on the contrary, I still love spending time in the kitchen and getting creative – I guess commuting, outdoor adventures and travels came in the way.
But, thankfully we now have Corona in our lives, which is forcing us to stay at home and generously bestowing us with the chance of really getting to know ourselves, our brilliant sides and our flaws. Or, if you already feel you have connected with your inner self and are content, you can finally focus on all the cleaning and cooking you have never done before.
I am one of the lucky bunch who gets to work “normally” during this pandemic (ah, how I dream of home office days in pyjamas). It is fascinating to see what our healthcare system has managed to create in the shortest period of time. Apparently all specialties suddenly CAN work together. It is admirable to see multiple teams become one, have each others back in all situations, and pass on their knowledge. In my hospital we set up a new ICU ward, trained all staff necessary to run it, changed rota’s, gave up holidays and weekends, all in time for day X, as we called it.
The illness is no fun and is definitely no normal flu as many people seem to think. Granted, working in the ICU I only see the worst end of the spectrum. It causes insane inflammation, an intense cytokin storm, an impaired gas exchange which can’t keep all organs trying to function in form of an ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) and probably leaves its survivors with life long impairments. It can be lethal. And putting someone on a ventilator, as one reads in the news, doesn’t solve the problem. They need a break/help from breathing for about 2-3 weeks whilst in an induced coma, which brings along potential failure of other organ systems with it. So when you are told to social distance – please do.
Back to the food business. What is a period of isolation without a warming piece of baked deliciousness? Not even worth trying out! So if you are on a back log in the baking department, here is a slightly spiced zucchini bread attempt of mine. My new oven did surprisingly well – I am sure yours will too.

Zucchini Bread

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inspired by Butter with a Side of Bread

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Magenbrot

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!

Magenbrot

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Meatless Monday – Beetroot, Carrot, Leek and Feta Galette

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

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adapted from a friends farm to home vegetable subscription
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Chocolate Amaretto Pudding

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

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Sunday Night Takeaway Heaven

Any american football fans around? Rumor has it that if you live stateside, Sunday night football is holy. Apparently there is even a theme song welcoming viewers back. Part of the tradition also includes ordering take-out (usually pizza) – the best part in my opinion. Personally, not being such a fan of the sport, one can easily reach a compromise with moi regarding what TV channel will run if the words take out and seamless are mentioned.  (Un)lucky for me – my better half is currently based in Trumpland, so I actually  have to hang out in New York occasionally. First thing I ever ordered on seamless? Sesame Broccoli Chicken – sticky take away heaven.
Now, sadly, my home town doesn’t offer such a tasty range of unhealthy goodness delivered straight to your doorstep. My solution? Try to recreate. What occasion? Sunday night Academy Awards. Instead of drowning in ones sorrows about celebrities and their perfect bodies, one can drown in some sticky home-made chinese dish. Doesn’t sound too bad? Also, sooooo much better than football. So if you’re still arguing about what’s for dinner – head to the shops and have a go! I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Sesame Broccoli Chicken

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Queueing Failures

Happy Saint Nicholas’ Day, a.k.a another one of my favorite days of the year. I hope your stockings were filled with exciting presents and delicious chocolates. Today is one of the few days where people actually queue for something in Switzerland. Queueing for restaurants, bakerys, theatres, etc. isn’t a thing here unlike in London, Manhattan, Sydney, you name it. My most recent queuing failure in London was an attempt to eat at the new Thai place in town – Som Saa. We arrived at 18:30, the wait would have been 2.5 hours…  I then inquired at what time one would have to realistically come to grab a table for “normal dinner times”. The answer: 17:00. Seriously?? Who has time for that?!?

Anyways, one thing the Swiss have understood is the uselessness and inefficiency of queuing. Apart from today – my next queuing failure. On Saint Nicholas’ day, Swiss tradition is to eat a Grättimaa – sweet brioche-like bread heaven shaped like a man, the Grättimaa. If you don’t want to make them yourself, the go to bakery to buy these in town is Gilgen. Naively, I went by early afternoon thinking the rest of the world must be working – my was I taken by surprise – there were 2 queues going right out the door past the next shop! And what’s the magic of queues? They attract more and more people, because whatever is at the end must be good. The beauty of it all – some queuers didn’t even know what they were in line for! By the time I finally managed to order, I whipped out my debit card (having just returned from ‘merica where everything is paid for by card) only to hear the words: “Sorry, our card machine is broken today”. MAJOR FAIL. So I queued for nothing…. at least I know how to make them myself and I can decide on the appropriate sugar to bread ratio ;-).

Give it a go and let me know what you think.

Grättimaa

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Hazelnut Rolls

T-2 days until I am officially unemployed for 2 months! Scary! Anyone have a guide to leading the life of a pensioner?
In my hospital, tradition calls for junior doctors to spoil their co-workers with a sweet breakfast sometime around their last day of work. Another compulsory “cake baking” moment in the life of a junior doctor, respectively surgeon in training, is after being allowed to operate something for the first time. There is an unwritten rule stating one has to bring a cake after each new surgical achievement. Sneaky, sneaky surgeons. Now, instead of always bringing cake, I figured I could be creative and bring rolls. Who doesn’t like rolls? My personal favorite – cinnamon rolls – would be a tad too intense for my Swiss colleagues to digest at 8 am. So I decided to stay on the safe side and made these hazelnut rolls – NOM. Secret ingredient: a hint of cinnamon, obvs.

Nussschnecken – Hazelnut Rolls

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