GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Tomorrow is the classic roast, gigot d’agneau, for Easter dinner at our house.
I’ve been longing, however, for the Easter meal I had when I lived on the west coast of Ireland, young goat (kid) stewed gently in Guinness, with prunes, onion and garlic. A packet of kid, labelled “1/2 cabri”, nearly leaped off the shelf at me in the Manor in Sierre, so we’re having an Easter Saturday dinner, Irish style.
I love the combination of the sweet and bitter in the Guinness added to the rich fruit and flavourful vegetables and the delicious taste of kid.
For those who are not familiar with it, kid needs to be cooked until very tender. The meat is somewhat like lamb in taste, but less gamey if you have good quality meat.
It can also be roasted (the whole cabri at the store were out of my budget – and we’re having lamb tomorrow, I remind myself), but several countries have traditional recipes for stewed kid, from Dominican Republic creole dishes to southern Italian ragouts.
Back to Ireland, where my County Clare neighbours raised goats for milk, from which they made beautiful cheese.
The little boys, I’m afraid, had to be dispensed with, just as little boy calves in cheese countries give us fine veal meat. Thus the spring kid dinner for Easter.
A bonus: the kitchen smells heavenly while this is cooking!
What we’re drinking with this
I saved a couple bottles of Guinness for those at my table who want to pair like-to-like, but I’m planning to have my stew with an Italian wine, a dry, rich plummy Amarone (“Argento Amarone della Valpolicella”, CHF19.50 at Manor in Sierre) that I think will match the pruneau flavour nicely. I’ll let you know how it goes. The worst thing that happens is that we save the Amarone for tomorrow’s lamb, after carefully resealing it. That’s a great combination.
On the side: we’ll finish with a green salad with oil and Balsamic vinegar, with green olives and crumbled dry goat’s cheese in the salad, maybe dried tomatoes slivered on top if I have them.
1/2 kid (cabri), cut into 4-5 chunks (1.8kg; note: CHF28.50/kg)3 bottles of Guinness stout (Coop and Manor both sell it)2 cups ( homemade chicken broth (carcass stewed for an hour with 1 onion, 2 carrots, 1 celery stalk, salted)1 Manor packet of freshly dried prunes, 250 g3 medium onions5-8 garlic cloves, not too big
6-8 potatoes, firm varieties, partly peeled
1 tsp fleur de sel de Camargue, “nature sauvage” (Manor carries this as well as the regular version)
1 tsp. Pepe Valle Maggia punto verde Bignasco (Ticino black pepper with wine & spirits)
Pre-heat the oven to 170C.
Brown the onion gently over medium heat for 5 minutes in a heavy pan – I use a Le Creuset pan.
Sprinkle the kid lightly with flour, brown, 2 pieces at a time over medium-high heat just until the meat takes on some colour. Add the garlic and reduce heat, brown garlic gently for 1 minute.
Spread the prunes around the meat, avoiding the bottom of the pan so they won’t stick during cooking.
Add the chicken broth: if you’re using broth you’ve had in your refrigerator for a day, turn up the heat high enough to bring the broth to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low.
Pour 2 bottles of the Guinness over the meat and onions. Once it settles and the head on the Guinness dies down, add the potatoes, placing them on stop of the meat so they are not sitting in the Guinness.
If needed, to keep the meat in liquid, add the third bottle of the stout.
Final touch: use a spoon for the salt and pepper, both of which are slightly sticky, then pinch a bit on top of each potato. Place a bunch of parsley, preferably flat leaf, on top, out of the liquid.
Cover and leave in the oven for 4 hours. Check occasionally that the meat is not sticking, and spoon some of the liquid over the top of the meat to keep it very moist.
ZURICH, SWITZERLAND – Environmental group WWF would like to see us stop wasting 75 percent of the electricity we use to hard-boil some 900 million eggs every year. The group doesn’t comment on our consumption of 100 hard-boiled eggs each, but it does says we could prepare them more efficiently.
The group asked Salt (Swiss Alpine Laboratories for Testing Energy Efficiency) to test and compare several methods. Their results (left to right in the graph):
1) egg cookers, which use little water and turn off once the eggs are cooked;
2) eggs cooked in two-fingers depth of water, lid on and heat turned off as soon as the eggs come to a boil; eggs are left for 20 minutes
3) same as number 2 but on a vitroceramic stove
4) vitroceramic stove using a lot of water and no lid
5) non-votroceramic, a lot of water, no lid
6) induction heat, a lot of water, no lid.
WWF says that unfortunately, most cookbooks still advice people to do it the old-fashioned and energy-inefficient way.
BERN, SWITZERLAND – Swiss supermarket chain Migros will undoubtedly have chocolate Santas and trees for the holiday season, but this year it’s come up with an unusual Christmas treat: a milk chocolate foil-wrapped camel fit for the Three Kings of Christmas lore.
The supermarket will stock them in 100 of its shops.
It notes that at least 21 percent of the milk is powdered camel’s milk from camel stables in the Emirates. Camel’s milk has been considered by desert nomads “since the start of time to be an elixir”. The other ingredients: natural Bourbon vanilla, acacia honey and selected cocoa beans.
The 130g treat was designed by chocolatier Al Nassna de Dubai and sells for CHF19.
We just had visitors, one of whom is vegetarian, so we prepared lentils with cumin and garden pumpkin risotto. What I realized only the next morning is that she is doesn’t eat fish, eggs or dairy products, and the risotto had cream. Our family cooking is not meat-centred, but like many non-vegetarians we have to think hard to conjure up a vegan meal, which lops out our easy alternatives, such as cheese and egg dishes. I wish that two nights ago I had known about Lavidalocavore’s writer LeeN, who is doing a series called Vegan cooking for non-vegans: countdown to Thanksgiving. Mouth-watering recipes and since there are 18 of them so far, this will stretch well past Thanksgiving day.
And if, like me, you are not sure what cranberry beans are, food writer Jennifer Jeffrey posts some lovely photos of them on her blog. Hint: they are speckled, and think of the colour cranberry.
Fresh cranberries, by the way, are now on sale at supermarkets in Switzerland, but they will soon disappear: they are sold as accompaniments for game dishes, so the season is mid-October to mid-November. I always buy a couple bags in advance of Thanksgiving and Christmas, the two times I like to include them on the menu, and I freeze them. They thaw in 10 minutes if you put them in a big strainer.
WWF Switzerland was encouraging us all to have a vegetarian lunch today, and while they didn’t catch some of us on time, their reminder that meat should be the exception, not the rule for meals, will come with me to the supermarket as I buy tonight’s dinner supplies.
If you eat meat in moderation six times a week you’ll reduce by 10 percent on your global environmental footprint, because meat consumption is linked to one-third of our food imprint, says the WWF. Better yet, cut down to three times a week, if you don’t fancy being a vegetarian, and you’ll reduce your food footprint by 20 percent.
A couple suggestions from WWF: avoid breaded veal and buy plain bio veal for a better impact on soil, water and climate use. Pork chops: buy bio pork, just for special occasions.
20 sensible environmental food tips from WWF
- Select vegetarian recipes and use in-season products
- Choose fruits and vegetables grown in fields, not hot houses
- Grow your own vegetables, on your balcony or in your garden
- Reduce your consumption of meal, poultry, fish, seafood and milk products
- To reduce your environmental footprint by 20 percent, cut back meat products to three times a week.
- Buy field fruits and vegetables
- Go for local products
- Opt for bio meats
- Buy only fish labelled MSC or bio fish
- Buy fair trade products
- Don’t buy frozen foods
- Give up convenience foods
- Avoid produts that use too much packaging
- Do your shopping by bicycle or on foot
- Shop close to home and avoid driving to distant shopping centres
- Re-use your shopping bags
- Only buy the quantity you need
- Cook using covers as often as possible
- Heat cooking water in a kettle and use a pressure cooker as much as possible
- Use tap rather than bottled water.
Here’s a shortcut a wine grape grower’s wife shared with me, for topping and tailing gooseberries. We use them in jam and pies, both of which I love, but it’s always seemed unfair to me that you first get pricked by the thorns and then you have the tedious job of topping and tailing them.
The trick is to place them on a freezer tray for 2 hours immediately after picking them. The bits on the ends break off easily when frozen, and you’ll save about 20 minutes of work per pie. Better yet, you need slightly less sugar in the jam because freezing the berries concentrates their own sugar, in much the way cryoextraction is used to make sweet ice wines.
A word of caution: don’t refreeze! Use them right after topping and tailing.
By Ellen Wallace
Saillon, Switzerland (GenevaLunch.com) - There are dozens of good reasons to go to canton Valais right now, starting with temperatures that fall one degree for every 200 metres or so of altitude in the Alps.
But the best reason for the next week to 10 days is apricots, fully ripe now, with wonderful flavour and selling for about CHF6/kg at roadside stands that have suddenly appeared everywhere.
Buy as many as you can eat in two days, close your eyes and enjoy one of Switzerland’s finest treats.
They are picked ripe and don’t keep at this stage: they’re meant to be eaten, right now.
By Ellen Wallace
Most of us don’t have the luxury of going out into the garden, picking the asparagus, then cooking it within minutes, which gives a heavenly vegetable.
The best alternative, and this is the season for it, is to go to the farmer’s door early in the morning to buy freshly picked stalks, then cook them for lunch. Canton Geneva has several farmers who sell directly but be forewarned that they are likely to be sold out by 10:00 at the height of the season!
Canton Valais is famous for its asparagus and Saillon is renowned as the Valais capital, with green and white equally popular.