Marmiton’s Recipe for traditional Swiss Easter cake
The Marmiton site for French cooking covers the cuisine of every administrative department in France. Most recipes are in French, but there is an English section which is a great introduction to the techniques of French cooking.
Marmiton refers to this part of their site as Let’s Cook French. It includes classic French dishes, beginner lessons, and much more. I love their Kids in the Kitchen section, where Monsieur Parmentier, who has a stereotypical French accent, gives easy but intelligent video cooking lessons to children.
The recipe below does not appear in the English section of the site, but they’ve kindly given me permission to translate and adapt it, since I didn’t manage to put my hands on any other recipe for Swiss Easter cake.
Read below for recipe.
Swiss Sérac cheese, a fresh cow’s milk cheese made with whey
Whey cheese is produced when the curds are separated from the whey to make cheese. Ricotta is also a whey cheese, but unlike Sérac, it is often made with sheep’s milk. As a result, you can use your local cheesemonger’s Sérac in most recipes that call for ricotta.
Sérac is made in most regions of Switzerland, and each region has its own version. Some regions smoke it; others flavor it with herbs, spices or pepper.
Sérac cheese is soft and creamy in texture, so it is easy to spread it on bread to make a healthy sandwich or snack, but Sérac is not only a snack cheese. It can also be used to make healthy, quick meals, such as the recipe below. In the summertime, I often use it like mozzarella, with tomatoes and basil or other Italian-inspired recipes.
It is a great way of teaching your children to eat healthy snacks. Top it with fresh fruit to make a healthy, low-fat dessert, or use it for between-meal snacks on chunky whole-grain bread.
Since it is a fresh milk cheese, it does not keep, and should be eaten shortly after purchasing. Because it is made from fresh milk whey, it is also naturally low in fat. In Switzerland, it would have about a 3.8% fat content, the same as milk.
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, in Switzerland and around the world.
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 wine . . . and this week, the Vancouver Winter Olympics and those cute wooly pigs you see in the photo.
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.
Invention through sloth: a recipe for lazy people who really would like to eat a healthy breakfast but can’t manage it
We don’t stop hearing about oats — they’re full of fiber so they’re good for your digestion and your bowels, they contain beta-glucans that help cut cholesterol and spread the rise in blood sugar over a long period of time, they make you feel full for longer so they encourage weight loss, they are anticarcinogenic thanks to their phytochemicals — and the list goes on.
Confession to my mother and request for forgiveness
I try and eat my oats every day, really I do. It has always been one of my mother’s Golden Rules of Healthy Eating. But Mom, I have to tell you: sometimes I just don’t, because I’m absolutely, unequivocally not a morning person and I just can’t get it together to cook the oats the good old-fashioned Scottish way we might all prefer.
So Mom, to relieve this deep guilt I have lived with my entire adult life, I found the solution, though I admit more by sloth than by wit. It was one of those days when no one was to speak to me before noon. I decided to pour some dry steel-cut oats into a bowl and eat them dry, in order to avoid the risk of pouring milk all over the stovetop instead of into the pan it was meant for, and then adding oats and other necessary ingredients into the milk that was already running down the front of the kitchen cabinets (I have already experienced this and it is not a good way to start the day). I was absolutely incapable of giving them the loving care they so deserve.
Swiss recipes: FXcuisine
With a background in international finance and law, François Xavier, who is Swiss, publishes two recipes a week.
His Swiss apple roesti is an amazingly simple, but tasty recipe, which he demonstrates in a witty video.
His recipe for Swiss apple pasta (see photo at left) is an interesting twist on a traditional Swiss dish, spätzle. Both are seasonal, because it is certainly Apple Time.
Kids in the kitchen: Oui, Chef
A former banker, Steve Dunn is based in Paris. He has five children, and for the last two years has devoted himself to teaching them how to cook and eat right, with recipes such as his bran muffins even your kids will like recipe.
For scrumptious takes on traditional British desserts: Woody the Foodie
Woody gathers recipes from chefs he admires. His sticky chocolate and toffee pudding recipe, inspired from Gordon Ramsay, is a masterpiece of a recipe, as is his chocolate bread and butter pudding, based on a James Martin recipe from the BBC food site.
Great info on everything to do with cooking: Cooking Up A Story
Tips on cooking up fresh pumpkin and how to choose just the right pumpkin. As Americans and Canadians probably already know from experience, the water content of European pumpkins is often quite different from that of the North American varieties, which becomes a real problem when you’re using North American recipes for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Fortunately, farmers markets in the Lake Geneva region offer a wide variety of pumpkins, so you should be able to find the right variety so you can still make your family recipes. But I do forewarn you: pumpkin pie can be tricky, so it’s best to do a trial run before the Big Day.
And don’t forget to save the seeds. Larita’s pumpkin seed recipe is a bit too American, in that we tend to use more natural ingredients in Switzerland, but one could perhaps use Migros or Coop “Country Potatoes” seasoning and simply skip her American smoke flavouring. In this case, it would be best to leave out the other spices, since this seasoning is in fact a mixture of some of the same spices.
To launch the chasse or hunting season: Wild River Review – Wild Table
Warren Bobrow’s new blog is full of old-fashioned and traditional recipes with a modern edge, as well as tips on how to live the gentleman’s life in general. Try his pumpkin-filled pasta recipe.
For manifestos on the importance of buying local food, as well as traditional recipes and food ideas: The Slow Cook
Ed Bruske is really just a foodie who engages in the concerns of a hungry planet, so you will find a variety of food-related topics, as well as recipes. I particularly like his “I’m an Elitest” post, in which he addresses the “ravings of James McWilliams, the writer who argues that there’s something sinister about the local food movement,” because it gives you both sides of the story: Michael Pollan and Wendell Berry vs. James McWilliams.
For a homely English slant: Yummy Homely Food
Laure Moyle took a 3-month holiday, but has finally returned just in time for chocolate week. She creates original, yet somewhat traditional recipes, using traditional British ingredients. Since she grew up in France, they often have a touch of the French, and use the local ingredients she finds near her home in Sussex. Sometimes it’s nice to have simple, unpretentious, yet good quality, comfort food.
She puts a particular emphasis on getting Kids in the Kitchen.
Barbie’s secret to weight loss was “don’t eat”: Is that your teen’s philosophy?
The 1965 Slumber Party Barbie came with her very own “How to Lose Weight” book. The main message was “don’t eat.” Along with this book came a bathroom scale always set at 110 pounds/49.9 kilograms, says Teen Beauty Tips. According to Malisa Morsman, “Barbie is the plastic equivalent of a 5-foot, 9-inch (1.75 m) woman with a 36-inch (91.5 cm) bust, 33-inch (83.8 cm) hips, and an impossibly small 18-inch waist (45.7 cm).”
Ken, on the other hand, came with his own milk and cookies, and no scales.
Unhealthy message to teenage girls that has persisted
Unfortunately, women of all ages gradually started to perceive Barbie’s body as ideal, and teenagers often follow, even now, Barbie’s 1965 instructions on how to lose weight. Some purport that Barbie is even responsible for the increase in eating disorders.
In Europe, a correlation has also been made between women of all ages who smoke and have eating disorders. Smoking cuts the appetite, and is used as a way to keep from eating.
Ironically, the problem often becomes not only of a problem of getting your teenage girl to eat properly, but also a problem of eating at all.
As for the boys, is the message still that he can eat milk and cookies to his heart’s delight?
After my lengthy post Potatoes: endless varieties in Switzerland of 14 September 2009, it is only logical that I give you a few ideas about how to use all those varieties of potatoes.
I’ll start by the thoroughly Swiss dish, rösti.
Rösti is definitely a Swiss dish, but there as many variations as there are cantons in Switzerland. The Restaurant Anker Bern in Bern lists nearly 30 different versions on its menu. The main difference lies in whether to use raw or cooked potatoes, as well as in what is added to the potatoes.
Historically, rösti was breakfast food
At the beginning of the 19th century, rösti was the main breakfast fare in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, and probably started in the rural areas around Zurich. They ate it with café au lait. Gradually it moved south towards the Alps, then to Bern where it was given the name it now bears, “rösti”. From Bern it moved towards the French-speaking areas, toward canton Vaud, where it eventually replaced their traditional morning soup.
Recipe for Bern-style rösti
Rösti à la Bernoise, or Bern-style rösti, is made with potatoes cooked in their skins; the potatoes are cooked the day before, so that they are cold and can be easily grated.
The first thing you need to purchase is a special rösti potato grater, called a kartofell in German and râpe à rösti in French. What differentiates it from other graters is its big holes. Smaller holes will give you an effect more like American-style hashbrowns.
This recipe is inspired by the Restaurant Anker Bern’s recipe.
Cook 1 kg of potatoes the day before. I would suggest steaming them in a double-walled Kuhn Rikon Durotherm pan, with as little water as possible, so that they don’t absorb too much water and maintain a maximum of their vitamins. Cook them until they are done, but still quite quite firm. Put in refrigerator overnight.
The next day, peel the potatoes, by hand if possible. Use a rösti grater to grate into large strips, as long as possible. Mix with 1 tsp salt.
Over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of lard (saindoux) (the pork butcher or regular butcher can sell this in small quantities) in a cast iron or aluminum frying pan, such as a Swiss Diamond.
Buy a thick slab of bacon (lard) from the pork butcher, around 50 g. Chop into small bits, removing any hard rind.
Add bacon and potatoes to frying pan. Mix slowly, turning gently from time to time with a rubber spatula (metal will scratch a non-stick surface).
After it has started to cook, mash it down with the spatula, so that it forms a large “pancake”. Lower to medium low heat and cover. If it starts to burn, lower heat even further.
After 10 minutes, cover pan with a serving dish of the appropriate size and turn rösti onto a plate, upside down. Carefully slide back into frying pan, with the unbrowned side down, and cover.
The rösti should be golden brown on both sides.
After 10 minutes, pour 2 tablespoons of milk over the rösti. Cook for 10 more minutes. Gently slide it onto a plate and serve.
Firm (but not extra-firm), type B potatoes, such as the Sirtema, Christa, Ostara, Agria, Urgenta, Bintje and Désirée varieties, are ideal for this dish.
Restaurant Anker Bern
B. and S. Bill
T. +41 (0)31 311 11 13
F. +41 (0)31 311 11 71
Monday-Thursday: 7:30-23:30 H
Friday-Saturday: 7:30-0:30 H
Sunday: 9:30-18 H
<a href=”http://www.changedetection.com/log/genevalunch/the-rambling-epicure_log.html”>change log</a>
Apricots are on sale in Valais and this weekend is their peak, say pickers and sellers. I’ve been buying them at different places, mainly for eating but I’m trying to convince the household’s jam-maker that our supply is running low. He’s more interested in making raspberry jam but the two together on a table with slices of hot toast on a fine summer morning comes close to a visit to a cathedral!
The main traditional variety is called Luizet. They are smaller and less tart than some of the smoother skinned new varieties such as Goldrich. They also don’t keep as well, which is why you see fewer of the Luizet in supermarkets. I find the Luizet more flavourful but my visiting English mother-in-law prefers the newer ones for snacks. Valais grows 10 varieties, with the advantage to growers that the season is a bit longer.
The traditional ones are best for jam-making. We’ve been paying a little over CHF5 for a kilo and CHF20 or a bit more for boxes of 6 kilos.
Where to buy them
This is a wonderful time to visit some of the apricot-orchard towns around Sion and Sierre, along the Rhone river, where the trees are still laden with fruit and the mountains with snowy peaks rise above you.
My favourite is Grone, at the heart of this area, on a road going up to Nendaz, which is a spectacular and cool spot in summer, another 20 minute drive up the mountainside. But there is no shortage of signs for apricots for sale! And they are all good. Do buy direct from the grower, with the trees a few metres away, if you can.
One tip, if you’re making jam: crack the pit and use the soft centre, which looks and tastes a bit like almond, for additional flavour.