John Dory, Italian green wild asparagus and blood orange sauce
One of my favorite ways of creating tasty but healthy dishes is using fruit and vegetables as sauce. There are millions of ways to do this, depending mainly on the season.
Oranges are abundant at the moment, so I’ve been using a lot of orange juice to liven up dishes. It adds a burst of flavor, yet requires no cream or butter, thus making it low in calories and high in fiber.
The season is short for wild Italian asparagus, so take advantage of it in April and May.
Serves 3 or 4One bunch wild Italian green asparagus or similar extra-thin green asparagus
Thick filet of John Dory, 700 to 900 grams / 1 1/2 lbs./2 lbs., 5 cm / 2 in. thick
Juice of one blood orange, with pulp to add fiber (two if you like a lot of sauce)
Olive oil Salt and pepper
Preheat grill or broiler.
Place John Dory on a roasting tin or broiler pan, skin side up.
Wash asparagus. If ends are woody, cut off woody part.
Make your own Valentine’s chocolate, Ticino style
Here is a great double-chocolate walnut biscotti recipe by Patricia Turo, born into an Italian family in the US, but now living in the Klosters ski resort in Switzerland. This recipe is therefore more in the spirit of Ticino, the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland.
Be careful about the quality of chocolate you use: Avoid buying the American chocolate chips in a bag. You’d be better off buying a bar of dark chocolate from your favorite local (Swiss) chocolate maker and crumbling it up into bits. The same goes for the cocoa powder. Make sure it is good quality, preferably from a good chocolate maker.
To convert the measurements, refer to How to convert measurements for American recipes.
An economical, ecological, ergonomic cappuccino maker
Bialetti’s Mukka Express model is unique in that you can make a cappuccino or café au lait, with real espresso and foamy milk, all in one pot.
The Bialetti looks very similar to Bialetti’s traditional 6- and 8-sided, stovetop espresso makers.
It does not require paper filters, so it is ecological. It does not take up much space, so it is ergonomic. It is all metal and hard plastic, so I’ve not yet found a way to break it. It lasts for years, so especially when you consider its low cost as compared to an electric coffee maker, it is a long-term, economical investment.
Mukka Express: Difference in use as compared to Bialetti’s traditional stovetop espresso maker
Start by pouring the water into the bottom part, as with the traditional Bialetti. Then insert the coffee filter/funnel and fill it with ground coffee, just like with the traditional model.
Then comes the difference. Unlike when making a simple espresso, you pour milk into the top part. Then screw the pressure valve onto the tube built in to the top part of the coffee maker.
When the water in the bottom half of the pot gets hot, the steam it produces rises through the tube. The pressure valve then opens (rather like on a pressure cooker) and heats the milk. Afterward, the coffee comes up and mixes with the frothy, steamed milk.
And there you go, two espressos ready to be served, all in the space of 4 minutes.
Simplicity of use and simple design
The Mukka Express is indeed of simple technical design, but even so, every single aspect is extremely precisely calculated, and if you don’t follow the instructions to the letter, you can end up with coffee all over your new silk robe, the kitchen ceiling, soaking your newly coiffed hair, and running down from the stovetop into the drawers of the kitchen cabinet. This is definitely not the way to start the day, so I will give you a few words of advice drawn from my own disastrous experiences.
Tricks drawn from the experience of a coffee drinker who makes her coffee while still half asleep
I am not a morning person, so being precise before I have my first cup of coffee in the morning is quite a challenge, and one that I have not always managed to live up to.
Never fill the coffee filter so high that coffee grains get into the screwthreads of the bottom part of the coffee maker. This makes it difficult to screw the top half onto the bottom half, and often makes it difficult to unscrew it after use.
Observe the filling level marks. They are precisely calculated and can bring on major kitchen catastrophes if not adhered to.
Never clean with soap. This risks giving your coffee a soapy taste. Rinse well with hot water.
Make sure all coffee grains are removed from screwthreads before reusing.
Always check that pressure valve is completely screwed on before putting coffee maker on heat.
If you are in a hurry and start the coffee on high, stand by it and as soon as you hear the water starting to rise in the tube, lower the heat.
If after use, you can’t manage to unscrew the top half from the bottom half, remove the pressure valve. Then run cold water into top half, letting it run down the pressure valve tube. This will usually disengage any stray coffee grounds that are making it stick.
The downtown Geneva location of the Ecole-Club Migros will be giving a gourmet cooking class in English on 24 October 2009. They plan to add more classes during the year, in both the Balexert and downtown Geneva locations.
The class starts at 14 H (2 p.m.) and lasts until 17 H (5 p.m.).
Students will prepare a 3-course gourmet meal, learning both traditional and modern cooking methods.
You can sign up in their offices, by phone or on the Internet.
NOTE: Lausanne is offering classes in Italian and Spanish, but is considering classes in English if they have enough requests. So if you are interested, give them a call and express your interest.
Genève-centre (downtown), Rue du Prince 5, 1204 Geneva, tel. 022 319 61 61, offices open 8:30 H to 20:30 H Monday through Thursday, 8:30 to 17 H on Fridays, and from 9:00 H to 12:30 on Saturday.
Mezze: summer vegetables with a new twist for your picnics
What are summer vegetables for us are year-long vegetables for the Lebanese and Syrians.
Choosing your aubergine or eggplant
Aubergine or eggplant caviar is a perfect accompaniment to any summer picnic. Although we don’t really have enough days of hot sun in Switzerland to produce many non-hothouse aubergines, we still manage to produce some pretty good ones. If you can’t find local ones, try and get ones from Sicily, or at least Italy, countries that have a lot of sun. Spanish ones are sometimes available too.
Sicilian eggplants are round, and they do not have to be perfect and waxy to taste good. In fact, they are often tastiest when they look a little tired. You can find these in farmers markets, good Italian shops, and some large supermarkets.
The variety we usually grow is Switzerland, i.e. the elongated ones, are best when long and thin. Choose one that is firm and heavy, because they can often be rather hollow inside, and for making this dish, you need as much flesh as possible.
According to Gwen James, the male varieties tend to be the most dense and tastiest. Males have neat, round “bellybuttons,” and females have elongated ones, which means they have more seeds and less flesh.
Preparation of eggplants for aubergine caviar or caviar d’aubergine
Wash 2 kg of eggplants. Grill in oven or on a charcoal grill. If you grill them over a charcoal fire, they will have that smoky taste you find in Syria and Lebanon.
When the skins are charred, remove from heat. Put them in a paper bag to cool, or plunge them into cold water and dry carefully.
Crush flesh with a large fork, or purée in a moulinette or food processor. Careful not to overdo it in the food processor. Flesh should be smooth, without lumps, but not liquid.
Make sauce in a separate bowl. Mix 8 tablespoons of tahini (sesame paste, available in foreign food section of large supermarkets or in Oriental food stores) or sesame oil with 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice. Add 6 to 8 cloves of crushed or extra finely chopped garlic, depending on how garlicy you want it. Salt to taste. About a teaspoon is usually fine.
Mix puréed aubergines and sauce.
Put in serving dish. Drizzle a little olive oil over it.
Just before serving, decorate with mint leaves or chopped parsley.
Photos courtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net.
The Rambling Epicure covered this Cave Berthaudin’s spring wine tasting and gala dinner at the Beau Rivage in Ellen Wallace’s blog Among the vines.
6 rue du Prince
+41 22 310 06 70
Affordable restaurant that often serves as a gathering place for young people before they hit the discos, yet oldies like myself who eat earlier have no trouble fitting in. Seasonal, affordable menu offered by chef Rachid Fadili, offering light fusion cuisine with hints of Asian and Italian, along with more classic dishes like carottes Vichy, sole meunière, and their great specialty, the Metropolitan Truffles Burger with homemade French fries, all in a sleek, contemporary setting. Small terrace. Daily special CHF21. Open until 22:30 and centrally located off the rue du Rhône, across from the Ecole-Club Migros.