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.
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
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
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
Happy May Day! I hope most of you are luckier than me and actually have the day off. If not, I feel for you. But hey, what better way to celebrate International Workers’ Day than by working? Exactly. Great Monday motivation right there.
For those of you who do get to spend the day lounging in your pyjamas – how about being a tad productive and making a fresh loaf of bread for brunch/lunch? Homemade bread beats any store-bought equivalent and is so easy. So easy. You just have to make sure your yeast is fresh (do NOT use dry yeast) and not past it’s sell by date, then I guarantee nothing can go wrong. But be warned: once you have mastered the art of bread making it’s hard to stop due to deliciousness. One of my friends made 4 loaves in one week. No joke. Trust me, you’ll understand as soon as you succeed yourself. So get out of bed and get baking! Your guests will be oh so pleased.
inspired by the one and only Ace
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
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
This past month has been insane – I can’t believe it’s already March. It started with two days out of my usual surgical routine, namely in the life of an Anesthetist, because why not. A perfect base specialty for going into emergency medicine – a potential career goal after (hopefully) successfully becoming a surgeon. It continued with a few crazy days of Fasnacht (= my local carnival), the highlight! Have you been? If not, add it to your bucket list. Apparently it’s even listed in 1000 Places to See Before You Die, the city goes insane, who thought Swiss people could actually have fun? Fasnacht lasts for just 3 days, but what glorious days these are. One calls them the “drey scheenschte Dääg” (= three nicest days of the year). I don’t think I would go that far, but they are fun. In a nutshell – parades of giant burning wood pieces, booze, confetti ALL OVER, parades of crazy people throwing oranges, flowers, alcohol and again, confetti, at you, flour soup (ew), booze, cheese tart, cellar bar hopping, booze, more confetti, amazing brass bands, schnitzelbängg (satirical poetry), crazy costumes. Also, very little sleep. Retrospectively it would have been wiser to take the days off work before my 10 day shift……
Now, after all this booze, my roommate and I were not in the best of states, understandably. Ideal culinary hangover cure? 1. Bacon, 2. Garlic, 3. Bacon, 4. Garlic, 5. Alcohol (always), 6. Panko breadcrumbs. Turn that into something crispy and satisfying? You end up with Chicken Kiev. There is a debate going on whether this dish is of American, Ukrainian or Russian origin…. honestly, who cares, thank you to whoever invented it, it’s delicious.
P.S. Apologies for the picture – blaming it on the hangover.
Chicken Kiev with BACON