Saturday, 20 April 2013

Quiche au saumon

A very good (french) friend of mine was leaving town on a business trip and presented me with some of the food from her fridge, including some delicious looking smoked salmon. So, I couldn't just eat it, but instead decided to make a quiche out of it.

I have a fool-proof french recipe for flaky shortcrutst pastry, which is definitely as easy as buying it ready made but a thousand times more tasty.

So, I added blanched asparagus, chopped capers and dill to the mix and here is the result! Saturday night quiche!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Chocolate brownies

Chocolate brownies are a signature bake of one of my patisserie heroes, Gerhard Jenne. I met Gerhard at a party, for which he had done the catering,  many years ago. The center piece was a cake that, I had assumed, had been covered with a brown velvet cloth. It was only when it came to be served that one realised that the rippled brown velvet was the cake. I can still remember that it tasted of german spices so reminiscent of Christmas markets, proving that it tasted as good as it looked. You can see an image of a very similar cake here on the Pinterest page of Jenne's patisserie: Konditor and Cook.
Gerhard was extremely down to earth and personable at the party and he invited me to come and see his shop anytime I was in the area. Circumstances prevented me but a few years later was surprised to find it on the corner of the street which houses the London home of the company I work for. After that not a meeting went by without a bag of chocolate brownies.

So, it appears that there are two types of chocolate brownie: cakey or fudgy. The Konditor and Cook ones are definitely fudgy and these are the type I prefer. I love the crumbly flaky crust on top of the soft, creamy interior. There are as many different variations on the recipe as there are cooks some using a melted chocolate base and some cocoa powder. My preferred method is to add cocoa powder and the other ingredients for the brownie to melted butter and then to add chunks of chocolate and pecan nuts to add some structure and crunch. I love using a bitter cocoa and a sweet milk chocolate to create a real contrast in chocolate flavours. Living in Switzerland there is a lot of choice for chocolate but my favourite for brownies is Cailler, Cuisine Chocolate au Lait. You can vary the recipe with chocolate and nuts of your choice, for example white chocolate and pistachio. As long as you use cocoa, they are still brownies.

Here are some pictures of my latest batch which my colleagues enjoyed this week.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Sächsilüüte: a very Zürich festival

Today is the local holiday of Sächsilüüte (six bells) in which the people of Zürich officially celebrate the end of winter. They do this by setting fire to a poor unsuspecting snowman on the top of a large bonfire, in a square specially reserved and named for this. The snowman, or Böögg's head contains explosives and if it blows off quickly then it will be a good summer: if the snowman lingers, so will the cold weather.
Accompanying this spectacle, is a whole day of feasting, associated with the city's thirteen traditional guilds. In the morning, they gather in bars and restaurants close to their Guild Halls and drink beer while the Guild band plays music. In the afternoon, the Guilds process through the city to Sächsilüütawiesä, a large square by the lake for the burning of the Böögg, which starts as the bells of the Grossmünster strike six.
Throughout the day, the city is full of stalls selling swiss sausages (bratwurst, cervelat to name but two), cheeses and cakes and biscuits. The most traditional are salty brezels and sweet Lebchueche (love cakes). These come in the shape of hearts and are inscribed with mottos such as 'Ich ha di gärn' (I love you) or, for those men backward in coming forward 'Du weichei' (you wimp!) Other sweet specialities appear to be nougat and also variations on the fig roll.
Here are some pictures taken this morning while things were getting going.

Building the bonfire under the Böögg

Fresh brezels

Nougat and fig cakes

Lebchueche: 'du weichei', 'meine Prinzessin'

Bergchäs (mountain cheese)
Zouft zur Mäise (wine merchants, saddlers and painters)

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Sunday breakfast

I was making some bread for Sunday breakfast and I was feeling in an artistic mood, so instead of making the rolls I was planning I made a plait. Good practice for the Zopf on my wish list. Excellent with coffee and nutella. Happy Sunday!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Soda Bread

This week, I have promised myself that I would not buy bread, but would make it myself. I made a nice loaf of wholemeal on Saturday which lasted me pretty much until today so I decided to make some more tonight: but being very tired after work, I decided to try Soda Bread as it is supposed to be very quick and easy. I also wanted to use up the buttermilk I had left over from the Hot Cross Buns and so this seemed perfect.
The recipe I used was:

150g plain flour
150g wholemeal flour
1 tsp bicarb
1 1/2 tsp salt
250g buttermilk

The recipe didn't mention it, but the dough was very wet and kept sticking to my hands. I persevered however, and after it was in the oven, googled it and found out that this was pretty normal. Once in the oven, the bread held it's shape and even rose a bit.

The end result was a really nice bread with a soft crumb and rustic appearance  It naturally breaks into four, so will last me four days. Very impressed and another staple in my house I think!