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!
Happy Monday! Happy commuting life to me. After a month of funemployment I am back in the working community. What’s different apart from the job? I have to commute. Naturally, my naive self assumed that Swiss trains are reliable. After a nervousness filled sleepless night, I decided to get an early train to 100% make sure I’d be on time for my first day. Little did I know that no trains were running due to some confused (and maybe hungover) train blocking multiple tracks (?!?!). You can only imagine the panic that broke out in my mind. So much for my planned relaxing train breakfast. So much for making a good impression on my first day. In the end I did make an entrance – half an hour late. For you non-swiss that might be acceptable, for us it’s terrible.
Anyways – for my commuting I invested in this great muesli-on-the-go cup (it was a fully instagram inspired 2am kind of buy after a late shift). My first use of it: yoghurt/fruit with home-made granola. Once I did manage to get onto a train it was delicious and calming. Especially the granola – peanut butter, pecan and chocolate. The pecans are probably the best part. Granola is so simple, so rewarding and requires few ingredients. Great for commuting, great for any breakfast, also great directly out of the jar. Try it!
Peanut Butter, Pecan and Chocolate Chip Granola
One handed cooking didn’t prove to be so easy after all – my meal plan went down the drain. As did all culinary experiments. The most exciting dish was pasta with homemade sauce, which is tasty but definitely nothing to boast about.
For those of you who have never had a cast – cast removal after 6 weeks of immobilisation ist bizarre. Your limb feels as though gravity has no effect and it is floating above your head. It misses its tight cocoon. The stiffness of your joints coming out of a cast is also fascinating. I could hardly move my wrist in any angle. Another fun fact of post cast life: the emerging limb is a lot hairier than before! That’s right – black hair is suddenly everywhere and makes you feel 1/4 bear, without the perks of being able to roar or elegantly catch fish.
Anyways, this syrup definitely needs two hands to make – picking elderflowers with one hand might prove tricky (I even found it difficult with two hands..). Elderflower syrup is an essential ingredient for one of the most refreshing summer drinks on this side of the world – a Hugo = Prosecco + ederflower syrup +fresh mint + soda. Need I say more?
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
I’m currently half way through my second week of exciting emergency room escapades after having officially switched sides. Yes, I no longer belong to team red (i.e. surgery), I am blue through and through. Now, is that a good or a bad thing? Not too sure yet. One thing I do know is that team red has a higher number of patients with, let’s call it, “more entertaining” medical histories. A few examples to brighten your Easter weekend:
One guy came in because, as an act of pleasure, he had forced dried beans up his urethra. Creative. He didn’t quite think this through and sadly didn’t manage to get them all back out. Lucky for him a urologist did.
Another patient (whom I have complete sympathy with and have definitely been close to the same dilemma a few times in my life) superglued his thumb and middle finger together. Ouch!
The best for last: someone presented with blood in the stool after having had a wild night. During the evening this person apparently had a drunken epiphany – “glass vases must be great for pleasurable moments”. That’s right – the poor glass vase ended the night in said person’s rectum. What’s more, it didn’t see the light of day until 24 hours later, when it was reborn in an operating theatre.
That being said, the blue side of the emergency room has been lot’s of fun so far, I have learnt and seen a great number of things. The next few months will be exciting. Also, the anti-social shifts finally give me more time to get creative in the kitchen. Yay! In celebration of the rhubarb season I attempted a light compote, which can easily accompany a brunch or can be served as dessert with some ice cream. Mhhhmmmmm.
Strawberry Rhubarb Compote
adapted from Wildeisen
Happy Saturday and happy spring! Spring has finally arrived – and my what an impression has it decided to make this year. Apparently, this side of the world, March 2017 is the warmest since I don’t know how many years. Great for summer lovers, not so good for our glaciers and passionate hibernators. What does this mean for culinary nerds? Time for fresh and light treats. Also, time to bring dusty kitchen gadgets back to life.
My newest gadget? A sous-vide cooker. Best. Christmas. Present. Ever. (No offence to all others – your gifts were great too..). Now, what does that mean? To cook under vacuum. That’s right – you vacuum pack/seal everything before cooking it in a water bath, allowing your whatever to be completely evenly cooked at a constant low-ish temperature. Super exciting. Amazing results. Totally worth the effort. And you can even control it via bluetooth/wi-fi. I don’t think I have managed to serve such tender duck before in my life.
Anyways, back to spring. And time for a dessert. Spring desserts = berries & lemon. Ok, that’s a lie, all desserts must include some sort of citrus if you ask me, not matter what the season. Now, to incorporate my sous vide into the equation I came up with:
lemon + berries + fresh + sous vide = sous vide lemon cheesecake topped with berries
Obviously. Ok, not quite. It was the first water-bath dessert that came to mind. Nevertheless, fitting and worth a try. It turned out surprisingly well, although, the consistency could be improved. If you happen to have such a gadget at home – go ahead and try it. If not, it’s high time to invest your money into something useful ;-).
Sous Vide Lemon Cheesecake
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