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.
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Temperatures are expected to remain well into the 30sC for the next few days, and one of the things to remember is we all need to drink more.
The heat wave has prompted the Swiss finance ministry to remind employers of the impact on the workplace.
Seco also has a series of common sense tips for all of us:
- The best beverages when it’s hot out are cool water, lightly sparkling mineral water, herbal infusions, fruit teas and diluted fruit juices.
- Normal consumption, depending on weight, should be 1.8 to 2.5 litres of water a day. During a heat wave, if you work in an office you should drink an extra litre.
- The worst thirst-quenchers are milk-based and energy drinks, as well as smoothies.
- Avoid alcoholic drinks, which increase your water loss.
A great dish to prepare in advance
Two friend of ours were helping us take care of our handicapped daughter and my post-operative husband this weekend by doing some of the cooking. This is more than help: David in particular is a wonderful cook and even his simplest dishes are always delicious. When he heard we had a vegetarian friend visiting the next evening he offered to prepare lentils with cumin, which could be cooked ahead and reheated gently or eaten cold. We had enough to try it both ways and while I preferred them warm, they were very good cold.
There are many variations on this dish, but the recipe below has the virtue of simplicity.
Cumin with dried green lentils
- 1 cup dried green lentils, available in Swiss supermarkets (do not soak)
- 1-1/2 cups broth, chicken or vegetable
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp salt (if you are using salted broth or cubes, reduce this to taste)
Sauté the onion slowly over low heat, using Colza oil, for 10 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic towards the end and stir, taking care not to let the garlic brown. Add the lentils and liquid, plus the cumin and salt and simmer very gently for 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently, until the lentils are tender but not mushy.
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.
by Ellen Wallace
You come to the Alps in winter with expectations of glorious blue skies and pristine white slopes, accompanied by the warming tones of cheese fondue, raclette and gluh wine or laced coffee taken in the brisk outdoor air.
And then it rains. It is not supposed to do that between Christmas and New Year’s, but in 2009 it did. Tuesday night and Wednesday brought downpours and fog. thursday wasn’t much better. Many people went shopping. Some of us stayed home and felt sorry for ourselves – until we were inspired to try something new and different in the kitchen.
There were no children in the house, so I could serve up odd vegetables. This time of year I get tired of the limited fresh vegetables in the markets, cabbage and cauliflower, which remind me of over-boiled vegetables of my childhood. I am not a big fan of cauliflower, but I’d read a recipe on the NPR (National Public Radio) web site that intrigued me, for cauliflower and leek soup with roasted walnut garnish. I’d bought the cauliflower, but forgot to buy leeks. I happened to have some excellent sausage and brown bread in the house. So here is the original NPR recipe by Carla Hall, which I’ll have to try sometime, and my rainy day Swiss Alpine lunch variation, which cheered up two adults, a sign of success with any food. It has the added advantage of being kinder to those who want to keep down their cream and butter intake.
The snow returned, after we ate this.
Swiss Alps winter rainy day cauliflower soup4 servings
1 small head cauliflower
1 onion, preferably white
2-5 garlic cloves, to taste
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 litre turkey stock (part of the treat of a Christmas bird)
75-100 gr = 1/2 packet of Chevroux goat cheese spread: fromage frais, to taste
150 cl / 1.6 qts. milk
1 egg yolk
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Fresh nutmeg to taste
8 toasted walnut halves
Chopped fresh parsley
1-2 tablespoons browned butter
- Wash and core the cauliflower. Reserve 8 tiny florets. Roughly chop the remaining cauliflower, onion and garlic.
- Roast the walnut halves in the oven, low heat (130-150° C / 266-302° F), 15 minutes, until lightly browned; take care not to burn them.
- In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook until soft, but not taking on any color, about 3 minutes.
- Sprinkle the flour over the onions and garlic and stir to combine. Gradually whisk in the stock. Bring slowly to a simmer, stirring as the mixture thickens. Add the chopped cauliflower and return to a slow simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to keep the bottom from sticking or burning until the cauliflower is fork-tender, 10-12 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and puree the soup in a blender until smooth. The original “creamed” recipe calls for straining the soup at this point, but as the daughter of a US Great Depression mother, I find it hard to throw away the vegetable bits. Our mixture was not strained and as a result had a slight grittiness, which we enjoyed.
- In a small bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolk with the milk. Whisk a bit of the hot soup into the egg/milk mixture. Then whisk the mix into the soup.
- Place the pot over very low heat and stir continually, gently, to warm through. Add the goat cheese and continue to stir, always over low heat so you don’t scramble the egg yolk, until the cheese melts, 3-5 minutes; do not let it reach the simmering point.
- Blanch the cauliflower florets set aside at the start, while the cheese is melting.
- Adjust the soup seasoning with salt and pepper. Grate in fresh nutmeg to taste.
- In a small skillet or pot, melt the 1 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Keep the butter on heat until it turns a nutty brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Mix the tiny cauliflower florets and the toasted walnuts in a small bowl. Portion the soup into shallow bowls and top with the garnish. Drizzle with the brown butter, then chopped parsley.
We served this with Vaud sausage (saucisse de Vaud) and an excellent brown bread from Migros. The sausage is made by Reichenbach butchers in Aigle, canton Vaud, whose owner is president of the Vaudois butchers association. The group has applied for AOC status for the product. It is a naturally smoked sausage that is cooked whole.
A Vaud sausage should be simmered in nearly boiling water not more than 75° C / 167° F for an hour. The bread is an organic, sustainable-development product that has good flavour and keeps its moisture well, a nice complement to the soup and sausage.
Pumpkins love our garden and we love pumpkins: this weekend the season for cooking pumpkin kicked in seriously. We have some 60 small ones. The larger ones are fun when kids are little, but the small varieties tend to have more flavour and they are more manageable in the kitchen. I brought one in from the veranda, where they are drying: the shells harden, to protect them during 3-4 months storage.
We take a cleaver and chop them in half or quarters, scrape out the stringy bits, quite a lot of it, then give them 20 minutes in the pressure cooker, with the pumpkin left in the pot another 15 minutes. This gives me a wonderfully textured and delicious vegetable. I scrape the insides into a bowl and the outer bits go into the compost.
The easier solution is, of course, to buy it pre-sliced at the supermarket, but the taste is a pale shadow of what our garden pumpkins give us. Farmers markets sell whole pumpkins and the extra flavour makes them worth the trouble.
We bake them as open halves (often with a spoonful of homemade jam in the centre) or eat the pulp warmed with a little butter and salt and pepper, sometimes with a bit of creamy goat cheese added. The family favourite is pumpkin pie. A close second to pie is pumpkin bread, in this family.
Here’s the recipe, an American one for zucchini nut bread, adapted and with less sugar for European tastes, but with US measures. It’s quick and easy.
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup oil – I use colza/canola
- 3 eggs, but I sometimes use 2 and get a slightly denser loaf
- 1 tsp orange peel or candied orange (if the latter, I reduce the sugar slightly)
- 1-1/2 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg; I love freshly grated nutmeg which has a stronger flavour so use a bit less
- 1 generous cup cooked and cooled pumpkin
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts, pecans or toasted almonds
Beat sugar and oil until blended. Add eggs, orange, mix well. Sift dry ingredients into a bowl into a bowl. Alternately add sifted mixture and pumpkin to sugar mixture. Mix well. Add nuts. Pour into 2 small greased loaf pans.
Bake at 195C in traditional oven for 40-45 minutes, testing that toothpick in centre comes clean. Cool 15 minutes in pan, then loosen around the edges and gently remove from pan.
Stores well, freezes well.
More pumpkin photos in GenevaLunch album: October 2009 pumpkin bonanza
The Indelicato fine food and wine shop is a Geneva institution. Everyone in Pâquis knows Marguerite and Rosario, and the locals affectionately refer to Marguerite as “Mama”.
The attraction is not only Marguerite’s endearing personality, however. The shop offers high quality Italian fare that prompts many wealthy, loyal customers like kings and ambassadors to send their chauffeurs to pick up pasta delivered fresh from Italy twice a week, as well as top quality fruit and vegetables. When Sicilian tomatoes are in season (for instance, now), this is about the only place in Geneva you can get the non-greenhouse type. Several varieties are available for different uses – salads, cooking, etc. When you taste these tomatoes you understand why tomatoes are classified as fruit, because they are as intense and sweet as a ripe red strawberry right off the vine. The Sicilian eggplants are also worth a try; they take on a sweet, almost confit, taste when cooked, and it is not necessary to salt them before cooking.
An ever-changing cornucopia of pasta is on offer – always between 30 and 40 varieties from regions all over Italy. If you’re out to discover something new, try the Trofie alle Castagne, made with chestnut flour, and one of the oldest and most typical pastas from the Liguria region, or the Croxetti, from the historic mountain town of Varese Ligure in the same region, which look rather like large coins with their patterned stamps, a great accompaniment to roasted meat au jus (pour a little of the jus over the pasta).
For olive oil connoisseurs, a wide range from all producing regions is to be had. Balsamic vinegars are not lacking, ranging from simpler, less expensive ones for cooking to exquisite aged ones, such as the 40-year-old Pier Luigi Sereni, tasted by the drop on a ripe red strawberry or a crostini. High-quality condiments and sauces – including a large assortment of pestos and tomato-based sauces, onion jam, Balsamic jelly, red bell pepper jam, just to name a few – make it easy to whip up a quick but delicious pasta dish, or prepare simple but tasty starters or aperitif accompaniments. The jams and confits can also be added to consommés or served with one of the fine Italian cheeses on offer, and to make original crostini and antipasti using the fine selection of ham and sausages.
The wine cellar will transport you immediately from Geneva to Italy. Its traditional Italian-style construction and perfect temperature and humidity control allow Rosario to offer a full range of Italian wine stored under optimal conditions, from affordable, good-quality wines to top-of-the-line wines cherished by collectors.
White wines, such as the Canus Friulano or Pinot Grigio, or the Villa Raiano Greco di Tufo, will provide a pleasant change from French or Swiss varietal wines when served with fish or chicken dishes. Red wines, such as Fontodi‘s rich Vigna del Sorbo, characterful thanks to its 100% Sangiovese varietal composition, or their less intense Chianti Classico, with only 85% Sangiovese and 15 % Cabernet Sauvignon, both go well with grilled meat or pesto dishes, and offer highly affordable options.
In the mid-price range, treat yourself to a Flaccianello della Pieve 2005, with endless layers of fruit and long in the mouth. If your taste buds really pine for more and your pocket allows, try the 1995 Conterno Giacomo Barolo, a classic, or Giuseppe Quintarelli‘s 1993 Amarone della Valpolicella, full of character and intense flavors, somewhat resembling a Madeira or Port yet still characterized as a dry wine, and which can stand up to strong flavors like wild boar or dark chocolate.
Italian gourmet food, wine and catering; delivery for large orders
12, rue des Pâquis
Tel./Fax +41 22 732 4591 E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Recipe of the Week:
Trofie alle Castagne pasta with Pesto, Potatoes and Green Beans
Serves 4 people
2 jars of Genoese pesto for 500 g of Trofie
3 potatoes, cut into thin Julienne strips
75 g of French-style green beans, ends cut off and cut in half
Fresh Parmesan cheese to taste
Boil 3 liters of water, adding salt. Add potato strips and Trofie pasta. Cook for 10 minutes. Add green beans. In a separate pan (I use a wok), heat pesto sauce on very low heat. Cook pasta/vegetable mixture until all is al dente. Drain. Add mixture to warm pesto sauce. Continue to heat on very low heat, turning gently, for 2 minutes. Serve immediately. Season to taste with freshly grated Parmesan.
Wine suggestion: Canus Pinot Grigio or Fontodi Vigna del Sorbo, depending on whether you prefer red or white