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.
adapted from SRF
Can you believe it’s already almost Christmas again?? Personally, I am quite excited for my favourite season of the year – the lights, the smell of gingerbread, the food, the mood, everything about it basically. There are two reasons Christmas came to mind. First being that today I actually helped a friend start on making Christmas puddings. Yes, you heard right, we were making dessert for December 25th on the October 12th . Bizarre. But the pudding has to sit for around 8 weeks to fully allow all of the flavours to develop. Boy was it hard not to dig in to the gooey, raisiny, spice filled boozy mess. My mouth is drooling just thinking about it.
Second being today’s recipe. In recent years, my brother and I had decided to give our family & close family friends group excursions as a Christmas present (makes it sooo much easier and the outings are super fun). A few weeks ago we finally organised our last years gift – an evening/dinner/drinks on a small ferry in the middle of the Rhine. What flavour packed dish is better made in advance (30 year old boats sadly don’t have cooking facilities) than a tagine or a chilli? We opted for the more “exotic” of the two which went down extremely well.
Moroccan Chicken Tagine
Today’s post is a tad more medical; I could not let this recent news simply slip away without informing you. Rumour has it that polio (poliomyelitis – a highly contagious potentially permanently paralysing virus transmitted through contaminated food/water) is making a comeback after having been almost eradicated for the past 25 years (with a 99% decrease in case numbers since 1988). Prevention through surveillance and multiple vaccinations (live oral polio vaccine or inactivated poliovirus vaccine) are the only way to fight this virus, as no cure is available, and has proven to be successful in eradicating the disease until recently. With newly reported infections in 10 countries (previously only Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan were classified as endemic), the WHO declared it a public health emergency earlier this week. So, I urge you to check your vaccinations and those of your children (or children in your surroundings)!!!, especially if you are travelling to a known polio-infected country – inform yourself and update your vaccinations as soon as possible, not only for your own protection but also in aid of the global eradication efforts!
Anyways… moving from the serious medical world to the world of baking: I present you with yet another cake baked for the March birthday celebrations. This is also an old family recipe created by none other than Martha, my previously mentioned grandmothers former housekeeper. It is a traditional yeast Gugelhupf with raisins. As a child I used to always pick the raisins out before indulging in this cake…. I could hit myself for that, a Gugelhupf without raisins is only half as good. So if you don’t like raisins in cake, don’t even try baking this one. And the rumour of these yeast cakes being dry is a lie, if you have only had dry Gugelhupf so far, your choice of bakery must be revised ;-).
How many epic birthday parties did you have as a child? They were the event of the year with endless cake, balloons, magicians, games and most importantly presents. Did your parents also go overboard with the motto: the more the merrier? Not only was the entire class usually invited, but also family friends with children of a similar age. Now calculate how many presents and cake that results in? A LOT! Aside from the obligatory goody bags, one of the best parts of these parties were the games: musical chairs, water balloons, the knife and fork chocolate game (secretly I actually want to play this again… maybe tipsy…. that might increase the entertainment factor), hopscotch, hide and seek, jump rope, capture the flag and pass the parcel. The latter was great. Despite the small probability of actually having the parcel in your hands when only one layer of wrapping paper was left between you and the prize, adrenalin was still pumping every time it was your turn to unwrap. Unwrapping parcels, presents and posted packages remains exciting to this day, even if you think you know what to find inside. I’m sure you have even all wrapped up a present for yourself and placed it under the Christmas tree at least once in your life…. or maybe that’s just my brother. But it proves the point. Things in parcels are exciting. So why not serve food in parcels as well? Not only is it a great way to develop the flavour while cooking, but it also almost always impresses the guests. Here is my latest attempt:
Salmon, Cranberry and Couscous Parcels with Caramelised Onions
adapted from Bbcgoodfood and Wildeisen Continue reading
Do you remember the episode of Friends in Season 7 where Monica bakes a ridiculous amount of chocolate chip cookies in an attempt to decipher Phoebe’s grandma’s lost recipe? Batch 17 was almost perfect, but the last cookie disappears before Monica could use it to work from……. after all those cookies and all that effort I would have gone mental! (Ok, actually before she decides to use cookie 17 for further creations, she finds out “grandma’s” recipe for the cookies they are all raving about was the exact one on each packet of Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels. She flipped out Monica style. But that’s irrelevant.)
Over the past months I have been through a similar, not quite as crazy, process with oat and raisin cookies: my “healthy”, satisfying comfort cookies. My already elevated cholesterol levels would certainly not have been happy had my cookie-craze been related to peanut butter and chocolate chips. Granted, oat and raisin cookies aren’t the healthiest out there, but doesn’t the name alone imply that there is some healthy aspect to them…? Health and all aside, occasional cravings have to be satisfied. Finally I managed to create near perfection, batch 17.5:
Ultimate Oat and Raisin Cookies