Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Accidental recipies..

Sunday night I was cooking up another batch of Saltimbocca. I didn't cook any risotto this time, but I did decide to try Canadian-Swiss's suggestion of deglazing the pan. However, I didn't have any Marsala wine. I did have some inexpensive port that I accidently put into a batch of teryaki sauce I'd made months ago, instead of sherry, which turned out wonderful. Thinking that this would probably turn out the same way, I deglazed the pan with the port and poured the resulting sauce over the Saltimbocca. It turned out just as I thought it would, quite wonderful, with a nice reddish color.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Risotto with Saltimbocca....

Canadian Swiss commented on the previous post about doing Risotto by de-glazing the pan that the saltimbocca gets cooked it. I tried it out, more or less, by dumping some previously cooked risotto into the pan I cooked my saltimbocca in after de-glazing the pan with some chasselas that I use as cooking wine.

The results were great. Though I still need to try it out with Marsala wine as she suggests. I think it's probably enough just to dump the risotto in after it cooks (I do things the easy way and use the pressure cooker, which is even easier than the cookbooks suggest) and keep it warm for a bit while mixing it around. This was also a very handy use of the big cooking pan that goes on my European Outoor Chef BBQ.

Thursday, August 9, 2007


From Dishes

I've neglected this blog for awhile, but I really should do a bit more with it. I've got a new BBQ, and have been cooking up a storm on it. But here's a recipe I've been planning to write down for quite a while, so here it goes.

Saltimbocca is a great dish to make for guests. It's easy, it tastes GREAT, it's quick and it goes with nice full-bodied wines. It's very flavorful, so even though it's not the lowest fat thing to eat, you're probably not going to be eating more that a couple of pieces, so you can round it out with a bunch of veggies, potatoes, rice or noodles and make it a pretty healthy meal overall.

As I mentioned it's pretty wine friendly. Both in that it tastes great with full-bodied red wines, and that if you've already had a couple of glasses, it's still easy to cook. And, it always impresses anyone who's never had this dish before.


  • Two thinly cut veal steaks about the size of a deck of playing cards per person. (Beef, pork chops w/o bone, turkey or chicken breast can be substituted)
  • Four slices Bundner Rohschenken per person. (Parma Prosciutto can be substituted.
  • Two to Three sage leaves per steak. (dried is okay, fresh is great).
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.

You can prepare the meat ahead of time and put in the refrigerator.

For each steak, season with salt and pepper (and I often add a bit of garlic powder) then wrap in the rohschenken or prosciutto. Use two toothpicks per steak to hold in place. If you have some nice big fresh leaves of sage, you can also stick these together on the outside of everthing with the toothpicks.

Start off cooking by heating some olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Use a good pan and you won't need the heat too high. If you're using dried sage leaves put a couple down in the oil just before adding the steak atop the sage leaves. Fry the steaks until the Rohshenken is well browned. Don't worry about over cooking, it just gets tastier the longer you cook it. Serve when well browned. I like the sage leaves on top of the saltimbocca as they absorb a lot of flavor from the rohshenken/prosciutto, but some people prefer not to eat them as the look a bit burned.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Hungarian Paprika!

From Budapest

While we were on a trip to Budapest, Hungary, we noticed a post card with a wonderful looking market on it. We asked our friends who were showing us around where that market was, and they mentioned it was near our hotel. So, on our last day in Budapest we planned our day; First we would go up the hill with the citadel on it, and then we would walk across the Elizabethan bridge and go to the Market.

In Pest's market there are all sorts of intersesting stands and shops. Many sell vegetables, wine, meat, bread or even, as in the one in the photo, Paprika.

At first it was quite confusing what to buy. A lot of the paprika looks packaged for tourists, with wooden spoons and recipes attached. We wandered around the market, and asked one of the vendors what the differences were in Paprika sold.

The vendor mentioned there were hot and sweet paprikas, but the quality between brands weren't so different. However, there were differences in paprikas with some slightly cheaper varieties having seeds included in the mix, and those slightly more expensive having no seeds in the mix.

I purchased about 1kg of paprika to take home. With 500g being a big bag of regular grade sweet paprika, a small bag of flake and seeds, and two tins of paprika without seeds (and a inexpensive package of saffron threads).

I don't have a recipe yet to post on using paprika, though I plan on trying to come up with a version of the paprika potatoes I had at the open air museum near Szentendre. I have been trying out the paprika, using it to replace the chili powder in enchilada sauce and potato curry so far. I've also made some paprika chicken that turned out pretty tasty. While it is much milder than the hot red chili powder I use in most of my Mexican cooking, it has a nice subtle taste, and is great to use when you want a lot of nice color in the meal without too much heat.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Greek Salad

While I'm neither Greek, nor a salad. I often enjoy putting together a Greek Salad. It makes a nice light lunch for us and is also quite tasty. I put one together for lunch today, and promptly forgot to take a picture of it.

One thing that's good to have when you're making a Greek Salad is an olive pitter. It's really a pain to chew around those olive pits while eating the salad. A few minutes spent taking those pits out makes the salad much more enjoyable.

Traditionally, I think the salad will have raw onion, as we're usually having it for lunch, we skip the onions. I also add a bit of iceberg lettuce to make it more like a traditional salad.

  • 1 large english cucumber
  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
  • 20 (or so) Kalamata or salty Greek olives
  • 1 tablespoon Oregano
  • 1/2 head of iceberg lettuce
  • 100g Feta cheese (I use a great 1/4 fat cheese I find here in Switzerland and France).
  • Salt to taste.

Grab your big salad bowl, and add the oregano, vinegar, olive oil and salt. Mix it up a bit, and let the vinegar and oil absorb some of the oregano taste.

Dice up the Feta cheese and add it to the salad dressing. Mix it up lightly.

Pit the olives if desired. Add olives to the salad dressing.

If desired, peel the cucumber, and then cut it four times lengthwise. Cut each segement into quarters across the end and then slice the four sticks so you get quarters of a slice of cucumber. Thow the cucumber into the salad bowl.

Cut up the lettuce, or if you do it the way I do and use a package of "Bag O'Salad" and put it into the bowl.

Mix the salad well. This way the dressing gets all of the blander parts of the salad covered with tasty salad dressing.

Dice the tomatoes and add them to the top of the salad. Serve immediately.

Serves two as main course, six as starter salad.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


When I lived in the Seattle area. I never cooked mexican food. Never! NEVER! Not with great burrito shops all over the place, which great barbequed meat. One of my favorite places had some great pinapple salsa. Anyways, now that I'm in Switzerland, instead of a great burrito for about five dollars, I can buy one about half as good for about 25 dollars. So, yeah, I make my own mexican food now.

In Basel, I usually go for supplies at El Sol currently in Dreispitz. They have pretty much the best tortilla chips and corn tortillas that you'll find here in Switzerland. In Zurich, you'll want to shop down by the train station at El Maiz who has a great selection, often including fresh jalapeno peppers and tomatillos. I get my enchilada sauce at El Maiz, as I haven't found a good recipe for it yet. Besides, the canned stuff is good enough.

If you use the canned sauce, Enchiladas are pretty easy to make. Some soak the tortillas in water, others cook them quickly in oil or in the sauce. I noticed the last time I made the enchiladas, that if I let the tortillas warm up to room temperature, then they were flexible enough to roll.

Enchiladas (serves 3)

  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 1 small onion
  • 50g black olives, pitted if possible
  • 1 16oz can of enchilada sauce
  • 250g cheddar cheese for cheese enchiladas OR 50g cheddar cheese for chicken enchiladas
  • 200g chicken meat, skinned and boned, baked ahead of time. (If, obviously, you're making chicken enchiladas)

Prehead oven to 200C

Chop the onion and slice the olives, place into a bowl, or a ziplock bag.

Using two forks, shred the chicken meat, if you're making chicken enchiladas. Add to the bowl/bag

Grate the cheddar cheese. If making cheese enchiladas, add all but 50g to the bowl/bag.

Mix ingredients in the bowl or bag well. Add three tablespoons of enchilada sauce to the mix only if you are making chicken enchiladas.

Pour about 1/4 of the sauce on the bottom of a medium glass casserole dish

Take a small handful of mixture and put it on a tortilla, and then roll the tortilla closed, and place the enchilada on the casserole dish with the seam down. Repeat until finished with the tortillas.

Pour the rest of the sauce over the enchiladas, covering them well. Sprinkle the rest of the cheddar cheese over the enchiladas.

Place dish in oven and cook at 200C for about 30 minutes. Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Fennel Salad

Until I moved to Switzerland, I had never had fresh fennel. Sure, I'd had sausages with fennel seeds in them, but that was pretty much it for fennel. Then my Frau cooked me some fennel with carrots. That was pretty good, but the best fennel dish I've had is a salad made by a local restaurant, Bodega Zum Strauss, here in Basel. Since trying the salad there, I've been trying to figure out how it is made. This is a good try at what it is like. What's important is to not overpower the fennel with the salad dressing.

  • 1 bulb fresh fennel
  • 30g chunk parmesan cheese
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar
  • dash of garlic powder
  • salt and white pepper to taste

Mix the olive oil, vinegar, garlic powder, salt and pepper together in the bowl you will be serving the salad in.

Slice the fennel as thin as possible, a food processor is good for this. Mix fennel with the dressing.

Make shavings of the paremesan cheese with a vegetable peeler. A wider piece of cheese is nice to use as you get big slices of parmesan.

Place salad in bowls and top with the parmesan cheese. Serve.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Pita Bread

When I first arrived in Switzerland, I looked around for some decent pita bread. I really didn't find much. I've found these things in the supermarket that are in air-tight plastic and last a decade or so (just kidding, they only last about three months). They're not bad, but they're not like the fresh pita I used to find in the supermarkets in Seattle.

Our landlord was having a birthday party, and we were invited. I thought it would be fun to put together a couple of snacks to bring along with us. PIco di Gallo and tortilla chips was an easy thing to do. I thought that it would also be a good idea to make some Hummus. I used the recipe out of Madelain Farah's "Lebanese Cuisine" cook book. While looking up that recipe, I saw a recipe for pita bread. It's a great recipe, and the results were some very good bread. Be aware though, the recipe makes five or six pretty big pitas. I served the bread to the Swiss (all Swiss but myself) party guests. The Swiss are pretty picky about bread, but they seemed to really enjoy it, and there weren't any leftovers of the bread.

As for Hummus, I have yet to find any that is any good. It's not hard to make if you've got a blender, so homemade is best.

Monday, January 29, 2007


Yum! Pizza is much easier to make than I thought it would be. The pizza above is my first attempt at making pizza. I did have a little help in the way of Jamie Oliver's 'Jamie's Italy' cookbook. He's got a great recipe for pizza dough in there, though I did end up with about three times too much dough as I needed. Hopefully, the last two balls of dough will survive in the freezer for awhile.

The most important thing seems to be to get the crust really, really thin. It took awhile to get it perfect, but once I stretched it out enough it was great, and a bit crunchy. The other really important thing is to place the pizza at the bottom of the oven, so it gets cooked evenly. I think having it right over the element really helps out quite a bit. I haven't yet bought a slab of granite like Jamie Oliver and Ed (who's got a blog that I link to off of this one, and he has a pizza dough recipe as well) swear one should have.

Here are a couple more pizzas, with the last one having the best crust:

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Simply Great Spaghetti Sauce

Lately, I've become tired of the over-processed spaghetti sauce one can buy in a supermarket. Some of the brands used to make great sauce, but now you can see that they've been adding ingredients to make up for the cheaper, lower quality tomatoes that they are now putting into the sauce. These tomatoes aren't quite as ripe as the ones they used to use, so they have to find a way to sweeten up the sauce. Some companies are adding carrots to the sauce, which is a bit more healthy, but I don't really like carrots in my spaghetti sauce. The really bad ones are adding sugar. Sugar! If I want sugar in my diet, it's with my tea in the morning. I don't need to have added sugar in my spaghetti sauce.

So, now I've started making my own spaghetti sauce. And it's pretty easy. It can be cheap, but if you buy the best canned tomatoes you can find, it might cost you just a little bit more than the over-processed stuff. However, it's going to taste way better. Pretty much anyone can make this sauce.

1 400g can of chopped plum tomatoes
1-2 tablespoon olive oil
1 to many cloves garlic

Heat the oil at medium heat while peeling the garlic. Put the garlic through a garlic press, or chop. Put the garlic in the oil and reduce the heat so that the garlic is cooking very slowly. The slower you cook the garlic, the more it is caramelized, and the tastier the sauce will be. Don't burn the garlic.

When the garlic turns a nice golden translucent color, add the can of tomatoes. Stir the sauce. Put on medium heat until the sauce bubbles and then simmer on low heat, covered for at least an hour. I like the sauce chunky, but you can always blend it with a stem blender.

As with the pico di gallo, this sauce is also very good with polenta.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Fresh Pico di Gallo

When I first moved here to Switzerland, I really missed mexican food. When I lived in Seattle, I'd have mexican food several times a week. I didn't need to cook it either, having several great places nearby where I could find a great mission burrito almost any time of the day or night. After arriving in Switzerland, I found only this 'Old El Paso' mexican stuff in the stores. And there's a lot of it. Problem is, it's way over processed. However, the salsa in jars is okay, but nothing beats fresh Pico di Gallo with a mexican dinner.

So, I started hunting for ingredients. Tomatoes are easy, good and cheap to find in Switzerland. Onions, more expensive than back home, but no problem. Limes, no problem. Now, the challenging things: Cilantro, okay, not so hard, as it's called 'Korieander' and can be found in the larger grocery stores. But... jalapenos? Well, there are the ones in jars from 'Old El Paso'. They'll do if you're really, really desperate. But, there's a shop called 'El Maiz' near the Bahnhof in Zurich that often has fresh jalapenos (and quite a few other goodies). Now, I live near Basel, but it's worth a trip to Zurich to get fresh jalapenos, and it turns out they'll keep quite nicely in the freezer, stored in a ziplock freezer bag. Make sure to wear gloves while handling the jalapenos, and in any case don't rub your eyes after handling the jalapenos.

Fresh Pico di Gallo

2-3 medium tomatoes, seeded (good quality canned plum tomatoes can be used as instead)
1 small onion
1-2 1/2cm slices of jalapeno (keep the rest in the freezer)
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 package cilantro (to taste, some people don't like this, if you don't, don't put it in)
pinch salt.

To seed the tomatoes, cut in half sideways and use the handle of a small spoon to scoop out the seeds and the watery bits that go with them, leaving just the meat of the tomatoes. Chop the tomatoes and place in serving bowl.

Chop the jalapeno, cilantro and onion together, place into serving bowl, add salt to taste, add the lime juice and mix.

Try it out with a few tortilla chips, or put it over mexican food. We've also found this makes a great topping for Polenta.
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