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.

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