Creative ways to use vinegar in cooking, in place of fats
I’m a vinegar collector. I have orange vinegar, walnut vinegar, grapefruit vinegar, a long list of Balsamic vinegars of various origins and ages, and lots of other more common ones.
In Switzerland and France, there is such an impressive variety of artisanal vinegars (a well as oils) that it is easy to build up quite a collection and use it in creative ways to liven up winter vegetables, bland grilled meats, or salads. The beauty of it is that you can often use vinegar to add flavor, and thereby avoid the more traditional use of butter or meat bases, which contain fat. It is a good way to reduce fat in your general cooking habits.
A tasty, good quality vinegar is an easy way to add flavor to an otherwise unappetizing vegetable or meat. After cooking meat or fish, I often deglaze the frying pan with a nice vinegar, then pour the glaze over the beast in question, along with a drizzle of good quality olive oil. It makes for a much healthier sauce than cream or butter and adds flare to the dish.
With magret de canard, or duck breast, which can have quite a fatty taste, I pour off most of the fat, and then deglaze the drippings with Balsamic or sherry vinegar. Raspberry also works well with duck, and you can add a few crushed raspberries to the sauce as well. The vinegar helps cut the fatty film you often feel in your mouth after eating. Raspberry vinegar is also a perfect compliment to calves’ liver.
This week’s foodie overview
I spend a lot of time reading, researching and tweeting about food and restaurants these days, so I thought I’d jot down my tweets from the last few days. These are from both The Rambling Epicure and Swiss Foodies and should give you an overview of what’s going on in the foodie world this week.
This week was the countdown to Valentine’s Day, so I listed oodles of Valentine’s dinners, weekend packages at hotels and chocolate shops. You can find the Valentine’s venues I tweeted last week in the 20 Valentine venues, posted earlier this week.
Sometimes I couldn’t resist writing about the snow and skiing conditions, because that determines how a lot of us in Switzerland plan our weekends, and therefore what restaurants we go to or what recipes we cook up. And of course occasionally, watches and Alinghi . . .
Remember, these are just tweets
Remember these are just tweets, so they are short and sweet. They are not particularly orderly; I just tweeted the information as I found it.
I suggest you skim over the headings, and if you’re interested, just click on any of the links that interest you in order to read the detailed article.
Who knows, this might even tempt you to start tweeting yourself!
This week’s tweet list
20 Valentine venues: restaurants, chocolate and hotel packages for the “big day”!
Valentine’s events in La Gruyère.
Valentine’s package at Bernard Ravet, CHF500, hotel, champagne, 9-course dinner, breakfast for two, Relais & Châteaux.
Restaurants in French-speaking Switzerland w/ Valentine’s specials; just click on your canton! NOT TESTED BY THE RAMBLING EPICURE.
GenevaLunch: Lake Geneva Valentine’s cruise.
Ramada Geneva offering Valentine’s Day brunch as well as candelit dinner.
Hôtel des Armures in Geneva: special Valentine’s package, rooms, champagne, breakfast and chocolate.
Valentine’s package at Hotel Royal Geneva. Le Duo, chic delish restaurant & brasserie, chef trained by Bernard Loiseau.
Jamie Oliver’s Valentine’s Day menu, along with recipes and tips for a romantic feast.
GenevaLunch: Valentine’s for the “older” crowd.
When it comes to wine and food, a name is not just a name
Switzerland has had AOCs for a while now, but on 14 January 2010, the Swiss federal agriculture office, OFAG, published an official bulletin containing a list of approximately 800 appellations of origin and geographical indications, roughly the equivalent of the French Appellations d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC). These were voted in in the context of a reciprocal agreement with the EU, and are to be protected and respected throughout the EU.
This effort should help to improve the reputation of Swiss products outside Switzerland. As of 15 March 2010, any person or company can stamp agricultural products produced in the defined geographic locations with the geographic indications and appellations defined in this list with an AOC type seal.
The project is still being finalized, so there may be even more good news on the way.
France meets Oregon in the freshly fallen snow
Guest blogger Warren Bobrow grew up on a farm in the U.S. , which helped him develop a sense of smell, taste and vocabulary similar to that of a passionate master wine maker. His column on food, wine and life, Wild Table, appears daily in the online magazine, Wild River Review. Warren always says, “Trust your instincts and cook with passion!” He has good instincts and intelligent, experienced taste buds, which is why I like his food writing.
Growing up on a farm in New Jersey afforded me an upbringing that was rooted in a fruit orchard that dates back almost a century.
My governess named Gertrude hailed from Germany. She taught me to climb those gnarly fruit trees and attempt to pick the fruit that the birds had not yet devoured. I would have to act quickly though and remember I was competing with the unafraid Blue Jays who would seemingly dive-bomb me in competition for these fruits.
Eventually though, I would repeal these opportunistic birds long enough to bring pears down in a straw basket that I have to this day. Gertrude would carefully wrap each of theses pears in small paper bags for several days to further ripen them.
The age-old Geneva and Savoyard specialty called rzulé in the local dialect, better known today as rissole aux poires, was nearly extinct not so very long ago. The dish consists basically of pears braised until they caramelize, which are then used to fill a pastry. The result resembles a fried apple turnover or chausson, even though it is baked.
The nearly extinct Marlioz pear saved by Geneva woman
You don’t just use any old pear to make rissoles. You use a variety specific to the region: the Marlioz pear, which was saved by none other than Eliane Pottu, says La Tribune de Genéve. Jérôme Estèbe wrote a delightful feature, in French, on the fortunate revival of this dish. Traditionally, every family in canton Geneva and the Savoy had a couple of Marlioz pear trees in the garden, but this tradition has slowly dwindled away.
Le 3 Rive Gauche, Grand Rue 3, 1204 Geneva
It is beautifully decorated, the servers are pleasant, fast and efficient, and the food is reliably good. They offer a daily lunch special for CHF 20 or a 2-course daily menu for CHF 32.
After our conference on the history of Geneva today at the Société de Lecture, we hopped down the street and had a plat du jour, which consisted of a thick, perfectly cooked slab of salmon trout, steamed potatoes cooked to perfection, and steamed spinach.
They also have great baguette, which is another thing that is hard to find in local restaurants. Definitely an address to save in your telephone memory.
Opening hours: Monday through Friday, 12:00 to 14:00 and from 18:30 to 22:30. Tel. +41 022 810 29 29. Site. (Please note that the hours listed on the site are not correct.)
L’Office, rue Richer 3, 75009 Paris
Refined, modern, light cuisine for around 30 euros a head for a 3-course meal. Red bell pepper velouté with foie gras, duo of sea bass and scallops with a frothy, light cream sauce, and a to-die-for chocolate moelleux. Can purchase foie gras, onion jam, and other homemade goodies to take home with you. Short but sweet wine list.
Opening hours: closed Sundays and Mondays. Open for lunch on Thursday and Friday from mid-day – 2.30pm. Open for dinner from Tuesday – Saturday from 8 – 10.30pm. Tel. +33 01 47 70 67 31. Metro Cadet (line 7) or Bonne Nouvelle (lines 8 & 9).
The P’tit Bonheur in Chambésy will be serving Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, 26 November 2009.
The menu includes pumpkin soup with pumpkin seed oil, apple and walnut salad with cranberry vinaigrette, roast turkey and giblet sauce with fig stuffing, mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts, and pumpkin pie with whipped cream and vanilla ice cream for CHF 55, not including drinks.
The Thanksgiving meal will be served from 12:00 to 14:30 and from 19:00 to 21:30 on Thursday only.
Reservations are recommended.4 Chemin des Cornillons, 1292 Chambésy Tel./Fax: +41.22.758.0848 http://www.auptitbonheur.ch/fr/ind E-Mail : email@example.com Map
Even though stuffed turkey, cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes are pretty standard fare, most families have their own version of the feast, including grandma’s recipes as well as traditional ones.
I’ve gathered some ideas that allow you to plan your own personalized Thanksgiving, right here in the Lake Geneva region, without having to have someone send you the ingredients from back home.
Epicurious has devised quite a clever Thanksgiving menu planner that should help everyone have a successful, stress-free Thanksgiving. You fill in a form, answering questions about what why type of dinner you want, and they propose a customized menu.
A gourmet Thanksgiving
I filled it in, with no holes barred, and this was what they suggested:
A healthier, tastier recipe than the traditional cranberry sauce for your Thanksgiving dinner
Cranberry sauce is of course a mainstay of any Thanksgiving dinner. In Switzerland, we eat a lot of game, so it is good to always have some on hand to eat with deer, wild fowl, boar, or whatever the hunters bring in.
This is a variation of the very plain, classic recipe. I’ve been using it for years. It’s easy, quick and a no-brainer. You can make it ahead of time (in fact, it’s better to make it a day or two before Thanksgiving). In addition, it keeps for ages, just like jelly or jam.
Cranberry-Orange relish recipe12 oz/375 g fresh cranberries
1/2 cup light brown sugar (if you like it really sweet, you can double the quantity) 1 tablespoon water
1 large navel orange 1 small sliver of ginger, finely grated (optional), or 1 stick of cinnamon (optional)
1/2 cup shelled walnuts (optional)
Place cranberries in a large saucepan with sugar and water.
Juice the orange and remove any white pith that lingers. Cut peel into small juliennes or zests, carefully removing any pith that is sticking to the then. Add zests and juice to cranberry mixture.
When you work or live abroad, it is not always easy to organize a Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving Day is not a holiday in other countries, and it is often difficult to find the right ingredients. Sometimes it’s just easier to make a long weekend of it or let someone else do the cooking. I’ve looked around for some alternatives, and there are some pretty nice ones out there. Just make sure to reserve well ahead of time. The US Thanksgiving falls on the last Thursday in November, which is 26 November in 2009.