MarketView is published every week or so so you can take a look at our list before you go to the market. It should serve as a tool to help you make your grocery list and menus for the week before you go off to the market.
Amazingly, we are still blessed with a few summer vegetables in the Lake Geneva region, so we still have an interesting mix of spring, summer, and fall fruit and vegetables. As I keep saying, it is surprising what a variety of local fruit and vegetables are still available this late in the growing season.
Spring and summer fruit and vegetables
Aubergine/eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers, courgette/zucchini, green beans, radishes, bell peppers of all colors.
Extra-sweet strawberries, last of the corn, raspberries, blackberries (rarer than the other berries).
Rosemary, many varieties of basil, some mint (end of season), dill, coriander, parsley, laurel, scallions.
Fall fruit and vegetables
Baby carrots, baby turnips, radishes of all types.
New potatoes of all varieties, Swiss chard (blettes), Jerusalem artichokes (topinambur), parsnips (panais).
Grapes (try the hard-to-find framboisé variety, absolutely delicious):
Apples, pears, plums, red peaches (pêches de vigne).
Wild greens of all types, mesclun (mixed wild salad greens).
Cabbage, beets, wild arugula rocket salad.
Herbs of all types, but seeing the last of the mint.
Most producers make their own mixture of seasonal soup greens and vegetables, which you can just add to a chicken broth.
Cepe mushrooms (bolets).
Black truffles, and a wide variety of other wild mushrooms.
Leeks, pumpkin, squash of all types, cauliflower, broccoli.
Take 4 thick dry or toasted slices of hearty whole grain bread and tear it into bite-size pieces. Drizzle olive oil over it and add 2 to 4 cloves of crushed garlic, depending on how much you like garlic.
Mix and let it sit for a few minutes.
Take 8 large, extra-ripe red tomatoes. Cut into large chunks, and save all the juice. Mix into the bread and garlic.
Put into blender, with salt and pepper. Refrigerate and let it sit for a half hour or so, or several hours or overnight if possible.
Before serving, taste and then season with more salt, pepper and olive oil if necessary. Add ice cubes if you want it to be colder or thinner.
If you want to give the dish a bit of color or enhance it, add fresh coriander or basil, or a dollop of cream.
This batch will easily feed 4 or 5, and is better the second day, once it has marinated in the refrigerator.
This recipe is my version of a friend’s recipe for Seville-style gazpacho. The friend has chosen to remain incognito for reasons unknown to this writer.
Tomato and courgette salad
Try this easy zucchini and tomato recipe. If you make a big batch, you can even two meals out of it.
These recipes are perfect for those hot days or nights when you can’t bear the idea of turning on the oven and heating up the house, or when you know you’ll be getting home late and just want to whip up something healthy. They also make a perfect lunch on a hot summer’s day.
IngredientsTwo extra-large, extra-ripe tomatoes 2 or 3 round or elongated zucchinis 1 small onion Balsamic vinegar Virgin olive oil Salt Pepper
Use red juicy tomatoes — usually the big ones — that are extra-ripe.
Chop tomatoes and zucchini into medium-size chunks. Finely chop onion. Mix all with a generous helping of Balsamic vinegar and olive oil so that the vegetables can marinate in it and there is a lot of excess liquid at the bottom of your bowl. Salt and pepper generously. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Let marinate for an hour or so in the fridge, mixing frequently. Serve cold. The juice of the tomatoes blends with the vinaigrette, forming a wonderful, tomato-flavored vinaigrette. Before serving, taste and adjust seasoning again.
Variation: Zucchini and tomato pasta
Leftovers can be used to make pasta salad. Warning: Save the sauce as well as the vegetables and pour it over cooked pasta. Once again, let it marinate for an hour or two before serving. Adjust seasoning.
Variation: Zucchini and tomato salad with cheese
Add feta or mozzarella cheese to either of these recipes, and you’ve got a cool summer one-dish meal. It’s best to add it right before serving. Otherwise, it tends to get mushy.
Variation: Zucchini and tomato salad with cheese
If you still have some left over, pop it under the grill or broiler until the cheese melts and starts to brown. You might even add a little extra cheese on top to make a gratin.
Red, yellow, green, and orange tomatoes now available in Lake Geneva region
Tomato season is well under way, and here are a few suggestions for using them.
Remember you can’t judge a tomato by its cover. By that I mean, the best tomatoes may well be the ugliest. They have not been sorted to meet some regulation as to size, shape and color. They can even be marked “Geneva,” “Lausanne” or “Vevey”, and never have had a root in the earth. Tomatoes can be grown hydroponically just about anywhere, so the fact that it’s marked with a local name is not absolute assurance that it will be full of flavor like a summer tomato should be and that it has been grown using traditional methods.
There are a lot of resellers in farmers markets, and then there are direct producers. Don’t hesitate to ask the vendors in your farmers market if they grew their tomatoes in a field or if they were grown hydroponically or in a greenhouse (often referred to as sous tunnel or en serre). “Field” tomatoes are obviously likely to have more taste.
The best way to be sure is of course to grow them yourself, but we do not all have the possibility, of course.
The appearance is just one factor. Smell is just as important. A natural, ripe tomato smells fragrant when you put it to your nose. A small tomato can have as much taste as a big one. Tomatoes should be soft, but not blemished or split open. If they are hard and are not aromatic, they are probably not field tomatoes.
A tomato can have hard black “calluses” on it, but that has no effect on its flavor. Simply trim them off.
In general the darker the color, the stronger the taste and the more acidic. Yellow and orange tomatoes are sweet, rather like fruit. Red tomatoes have more pizzaz. The darker, purplish ones are strong-flavored and not to everyone’s taste.
Green tomatoes tend to be more acidic. Most people prefer them cooked rather than raw, but this is a matter of taste.
How to eat a summer tomato
There are million ways to eat tomatoes, but ripe summer tomatoes need very little.
My favorite way of eating them is simply with salt and pepper, and perhaps a drizzle of olive oil. A beautiful addition to any summer lunch is a large plate of sliced tomatoes of different colors, served in this way. It is always a hit, both aesthetically and as a dish.
Tomatoes are also good grilled over the coals. For this, choose medium-size tomatoes, so they won’t fall through the grille. Simply cut them in half and grill for about 3 minutes on each side. This intensifies the flavor, giving it what the French call a confit flavor. What it really does is evaporate most of the water, leaving behind the most flavorful part, the flesh. The natural sugar in the tomato also caramelizes, making it taste sweet rather than acidic.
Tomatoes, courgette (zucchini), and aubergines (eggplant) — the classic Mediterranean vegetables — are all in season at about the same time. There are endless recipes one can think up, but one of my favorite is to mix finely diced tomatoes, zucchini and chopped onions marinated in a generous helping of vinaigrette made with Balsamic vinegar, Chardonnay vinegar and olive oil.
And then there’s the all-time favorite: mozzarella served with tomatoes and fresh basil. This too can be livened up by using tomatoes of different colors.
Summertime is diet time: an approach to changing your eating habits
Summertime is the best time to start changing your eating habits. Fruits and vegetables are tastier and cheaper in summer, so your tastebuds are satisfied, but with fewer calories and more fiber. You can take advantage of this time to start a lifestyle change that will not only help you lose weight, but hopefully change your way of eating for the rest of your life.
The Swiss seem to have understood some of the basic rules better than others, according to our 27 July 2009 article on the Swiss preference for fresh fruit and milk products.
Height of season for Valais apricots, considered best in Switzerland
With last weekend being the height of the Valais apricot season, I thought it timely to offer you a few ideas for using them while they’re ripe and ready.
Choosing your apricots
The first and most important thing is to buy tree-ripened apricots. By definition, this means local ones, since ripe apricots are soft to the touch and do not travel well.
If you plan to eat them fresh, they should be soft, but not blemished or bruised. The riper they are, the more flavorful they are.
If you are using them for cooking, the riper the better, and you can even get by with blemishes as long as they are not rotten-looking. As a general rule, the softer the sweeter.
You will often see crates of extra-ripe apricots discounted in farmers markets. Look them over, and if there are not too many black or rotting ones, they are actually the best for cooking purposes, especially for jams, cakes and sauces.
Recipe ideas for apricots
Note: With all apricot recipes, the amount of sugar used depends on the acidity of the apricots. The acidity depends on the ripeness, origin and variety. With so many factors coming into play, taste tests are indispensable and the quantity of sugar should be determined by taste, using the quantities given here as a guideline.
The basic formula is 900 grams/2 lbs of sugar for every 2 kilograms/4 1/2 lbs of fruit used. This holds true for apricots, apples, cherries, nectarines and plums. If you like your jam really sweet, you can put equal weights of fruit and sugar.
Use cane sugar for more taste. I often halve the quantity of sugar in dessert recipes, but with jams this can be tricky, since sugar is what makes the jam set. It also serves as a preservative. If your fruit is extra-sweet, you might try cutting the quantity of sugar a tad.
Wash and rub apricots until perfectly clean. Remove any rotten spots with a paring knife. Dry well. Cut in half and remove stones. Save about half of the stones for later use.
Place apricots in a copper confiturier or a large stock pot. Add sugar. Let it sit overnight.
If the apricots are not ripe enough, they will not render any natural juices. If there are no juices, add 500 ml/1 pint of water to the pan.
Slowly bring to a boil on low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. This can take anywhere from 1 hour to 2 1/2 hours, depending on the water content of the apricots and the type of pan and stove or cooker you are using. Scrape the sides of the pan from time to time so that the mixture doesn’t crystallize.
The jam is set when you can dip a wooden spoon in it and it completely coats the spoon. Let jam settle for about 15 minutes before putting it into jars.
Pour jam into sterilized glass jars. Leave to cool. If you see the jam hasn’t set properly, you can put it back into the pan and boil it again, adding a little lemon juice.
Add two stones to each jar. Cool. Seal jars.
Apricot purée or coulis
Once again, the amount of sugar you use depends on whether you want it to have a tart flavor or a sweet flavor. If you’re going to pour it onto a very sweet cake or pie, opt for a more acidic taste. If you’re eating with something that is itself a little acidic, you might want to make your sauce sweeter. And once again, the sweetness will always depend on the ripeness of your apricots, so you’ll have to do a taste test in any case.
Wash apricots. Remove stones.
Put 300 grams/10 ounces of cane sugar (labeled sucre de canne roux or cassonade in Swiss and French supermarkets) and a vanilla bean (cut open in the lengthwise direction) into a saucepan. Slowly bring to a boil over medium heat until it begins to thicken and sugar has completely dissolved, i.e. until it forms a syrup.
Put 500 grams/18 ounces of apricots into a food processor, or run them through a food mill or chinois. Add apricots to the liquid sugar mixture and mix with a wooden spoon. Heat mixture until it is thick enough to completely coat a wooden spoon.
This apricot sauce can be eaten warm or cold, depending on what you are using it with. It keeps for several days in the refrigerator.
Apricot coulis is a perfect accompaniment to a dark chocolate cake, but can be used to make ice cream sundaes or parfaits just as easily.
It can also be used in savory dishes, for example with cold chicken breasts or cold pork roast. In this case, you would of course considerably reduce the amount of sugar.
Preheat oven to 250° C or French mark 8. Wash apricots. Cut in half. Remove stone.
Lay apricot halves out on a roasting tin or broiler pan, or in a large casserole dish. Sprinkle lightly with brown cane sugar and just a tad of butter, distributed evenly in small bits, so that it will form a natural sauce. (This can also be done on a barbecue grill, but you’d lose the juices.) Put in oven, and immediately turn temperature down to 220° C or French mark 7. Turn when top side is browned. If butter starts to burn, add a few drops of water.
When soft and slightly browned and caramelized, remove from oven or grill.
Distribute on individual plates. Serve with a scoop of salt caramel, coffee or walnut ice cream. Lightly sprinkle with vanilla powder (labeled poudre vanille or vanille en poudre in supermarket; easy to find in France, but difficult to find in Switzerland), cinnamon and a high-quality chocolate or cocoa powder. Drizzle a little maple syrup over it. It is now ready to serve.
Sugar-free apricot purée or coulis
The great French chef Michel Guérard, who started the Cuisine Minceur movement in 1974, has a recipe for a sugar-free version of a coulis. This is adapted from the 1976 edition of Michel Guérard’s Cuisine Minceur, now out of print:
Wash, halve and pit 12 ripe fresh apricots. In a saucepan, add apricots, 1/2 cup of water, 1 vanilla bean (cut open in the lengthwise direction, down the middle) and artificial sweetener to taste, the equivalent of about 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Simmer for 10 or 15 minutes, until mixture is reduced by about one third.
Remove vanilla bean. Put mixture in a food processor to make a purée.
This sugar-free sauce can be served in the same manner as the traditional apricot purée or coulis recipe above.
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 courgettes or zucchini
Zucchini should be dark green and firm to the touch. Avoid wrinkly-looking courgettes, which are not fresh.
Choose young, small ones. The taste is more delicate and sweeter. Larger older courgettes often have large seeds, and tend to be bitter.
Recipe for mezze-style courgette (zucchini) salad
This is a kid-friendly recipe.
Wash 2 kg of zucchini, using a brush to gently scrape off dirt.
Cut into large cubes. Steam until just cooked, but still a little crunchy. Drain if they are watery.
Put steamed cubes in a large mixing bowl and mash with a large fork, or purée in a moulinette or food processor, until smooth with no lumps. Be careful not to overdo it or it will turn liquidy.
In a separate mixing bowl, add 8 tablespoons of tahini (sesame paste; can be found in foreign food section of most large supermarkets or in Oriental stores) or sesame oil, 1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice and 6 to 8 cloves of garlic. Salt to taste.
Add sauce to zucchini. Mix. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Put into serving dish.
Drizzle with olive oil and add Sicilian or Italian cherry tomatoes to decorate. It can also be sprinked with chopped Italian (flat) parsley to add more color and vitamins.
Is it safe to use mayonnaise in the summer?
Is it a myth that we should avoid using mayonnaise on sandwiches and in salads when they are not refrigerated and during hot months when we go on picnics and hiking?
Last July, the New York Times reported that the acidic ingredients, such as lemon and vinegar, contained in commercial mayonnaise may “actually protect against spoilage.” The August 2000 issue of Journal of Food Protection reported that lactic and citric acids served as natural preservatives by warding off bacteria.
The important safety factor for Europeans
The catch here is that these articles refer specifically to American-made commercial mayonnaises, which use pasteurized eggs and more acids than European ones. And let’s not even discuss homemade ones, for which we cannot control the safety of ingredients used, because they can vary so much.
In Switzerland and France, there is not a wealth of literature available on this subject. However, since most people prefer homemade mayonnaise to the supermarket variety, it is probably advisable to continue to avoid using mayonnaise in summer unless it is kept cool at all times. Better safe than sorry, unless you are a scientist capable of analyzing the acidity and testing that all ingredients are equivalent to those used in the U.S., or of determining the level of bacteria contained in the mayonnaise or mayonnaise-based dish before you eat it.
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.
Chef Geoffroy Pautz is giving summer cooking classes near Lausanne
Hostellerie Les Chevreuils
80 route du Jorat
1000 Lausanne 28
Tel. +41 21 785 01 01
Hostellerie Les Chevreuils is offering summer cooking classes for children. Classes will continue on Wednesdays through October.
These courses were such a great hit in last summer that head chef Geoffroy Pautz has decided to do it again. Classes are geared for children 10 to 15 years of age, and take place in the restaurant kitchens.
After the classes, at the end of the afternoon, parents and relatives are invited to come taste the dishes the children have prepared.
Classes cost CHF50 per child. This price includes the choice of one cookbook. There is a maximum of 12 children per class.
Classes are held on Wednesday, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., on the following dates:
8 July 2009
19 August 2009
23 September 2009
14 and 21 October 2009
To make reservations
Reservations can be made by telephone, using your credit card. Your card will not be debited; it is only used to confirm your reservation. Payment is made in cash, at the reception desk when you come in.
Click here to see how to get there.