Friday, July 17, 2015

She was happy, happy, happy, and she ate some beans

My in-laws have an impressive garden, and we get to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables!) of their labor! Lucky us! This week she gave us some zucchini.

Granny enjoyed the enchiladas!

I made the in-laws a round of my enchiladas non-auténtico whilst visiting their house. It's a simple concoction. Into the sauce pan, add a glug of oil and sautée onions (this time omitted because of the granny's diet, but still tasty, I promise). Combine with 1 ample tbsp flour, spices (my beau-père is not a spice enthusiast so I didn't use the cayenne as per usual; I also didn't want to aggress the granny's stomach). I normally use some paprika, chili powder, the afore mentioned cayenne, and cumin), and mix. Slowly add a bit of stock of choice and a small can of tomato paste. Once all is combined, keep adding stock--maybe 2+ cups worth. I like saucy enchiladas so I make plenty. Bring it all to a boil  and simmer for about 15 minutes. It'll start to get thick. Add more spices or herbs to taste. I don't add salt because I figure the stock has plenty. Remove it from the heat and let it cool. You'll be dipping your tortillas into it, so it's in your fingers best interest to wait. For this batch, I used sweet potatoes and chard for a filling. Sometimes I throw in beans, sometimes I throw in shrimp, or corn. I oven roasted the sweet potatoes with cumin, sautéed the stalks of the chard, and wilted the leaves. Sweet potatoes are not a regular part of the swiss diet, so the in-laws were curious what I was up to. They had this same reaction when I made them Thanksgiving dinner.  To assemble the enchiladas, I dipped a corn tortilla into the sauce, placed it into the pan, plunked the sweet potatoes and chard into the middle of the tortilla and rolled it up, making sure the seam was on the bottom. Once the pan was filled, I covered it with more sauce and sprinkled on some asiago. I find that asiago is a better replacement for jack or "Mexican" cheese mixes.  These suckers get baked at 200 for about 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is ooey gooey on the top.  On the side, I served charred corn with shrimp and cilantro and lime juice. My beau pére was super brave! sweet potatoes AND corn AND spice! In one meal! I put out sour cream and avocados as well. 

The in-laws wanted to know what mom thought--were they the right taste? did I do a good job? Mom answered that, in short, my enchiladas kicked ass. I am paraphrasing. She really said that they were comparable to what one might find at a restaurant. Thank you, mumsie! 

This morning I decided to make us another round of brunch. I made us a team USA brunch mom's first morning here. She's also had some Greatest Hits: mojo sauce with dorado and canary island wrinkled potatoes, zucchini pie, baozi, and a variety of salads because it has been freaking H O T

Because I am always dreaming of beans, I made us a beancentric brunch. A sort of huevos cuauhtemo, inspired by this post.  

First, I toasted strips of corn tortillas  and sautèed onions in my cast iron, liberally adding chili powder and cumin. Then I threw in some zucchini from my in-law's garden. I let that hang out, and used the immersion blender to combine a can of beans and the remaining tomato paste from the tube in the fridge. Again, I added some spices. Because spices are good. I threw the bean mess into the skillet, made three holes for the eggs, sprinkled some cilantro on top, and shoved the whole thing into the oven at 200° for 15 minutes. 

good, filling, and yum.

Friday, July 10, 2015

π have returned

once upon a time, a few years ago, we went to china for our honeymoon. we came home and I started teaching at a second school. then, a year later, we went to california. we came home and I started teaching at a third school. and now? now it's summer once again! how on earth did that happen?!

i took all these photos, even videos, from our eating adventures in china to share with you but...

and i have managed to feed us both these last few years, some pretty tasty things even, but...

lo, here we are.

in a few weeks, we are off to Japan. meanwhile, my mom is here visiting and I have some spare time. the school year has finished and I am enjoying my well deserved time off. next year, I'll be at one school full-time and the mister will also have a full-time teaching gig. we are looking forward to our futures. our very near future includes a pie. it's in the oven right now.

it's a red currant pie. and there's a funny story to go with it.

we spent the fourth of july weekend at my in-law's house. I made my grammie's macaroni salad, watermelon, blueberry, and feta salad, peach pie, and some spreads for the apero. we also tried to teach the swiss family how to eat corn on the cob. my husband was successful. here, corn is pig food so it's not really something regularly on the menu. I was happy to take advantage of my father-in-law's grill and have some corn on the cob. it wasn't as fresh as what we used to have when I was a kid--my mom grew corn in the garden--but it was still tasty.

My in-laws took us to a chalet not so far from their house for the view and for some traditional mountain food. we had meringue for dessert, but I saw pie on the menu. raisinée pie. mmmm, I said, I love raisinée. raisinée, or vin cuit as it is also called, is yummo. In the fall, the folks of the villages get together and boil down the fall fruits (grapes! apples! pears!) on a huge fire in a cauldron until they become a thick paste--like molasses thick. then you mix it with double cream and make a pie. and how! my belle-mère said she had some that I could have. Joy! I wanted to share it with my mumsie! 

In the morning, my belle-mère asked if I wanted the raisinée. Yes please! So she gave me a bucket and asked me to follow her outside. I was confused. How could we get raisinée outside? and why did I need a bucket? You see, my mother-in-law led me to the raisinets bush. My husband fell over with laughter. raisinée and raisinets, to me, sound practically identical. Silly french. I explained to the mister that raisinets are chocolate covered raisins, not red berries on a bush. 

And that is how I got these gems:

Red currants.

And so today I made a red current pie. I got a recipe from my belle-sœur's boyfriend's mom.
pie crust of choice--blind bake at 225º for 15 minutes
400 g raisinets
3 egg whites
pinch of salt
120 g sugar
packet of vanilla sugar (that's a thing here)

 the swiss germans add a layer of ground almonds under the meringue, but the mister thinks it's "too heavy" that way. I guess they do that for all fruit pies. he prefers his fruit pies to be pure. I like the idea of the almonds. the mister instructed me to "make snow from the egg whites (soft peaks) and then add the sugar. keep beating until it's thick and gooey. then add the berries, put it in the crust, and bake at 175 for 45 minutes.  and that's that! it gets all fluffy and puffy. 

the pie itself is gorgeous... but be warned: these suckers are TART. this is not a pie for the weak and weary. I think next time, I'll use raspberries for the pie and turn those raisinettes into jam.  

Monday, July 8, 2013

a little sweet before we sweat

we are cleaning out perishables to prepare for our trip--that means tonight's salad had tomatoes and apricots and carrots; it also means i made some delicious treats to use up the eggs, a lemon, crème fraîche, and butter.

last night i made a simple raspberry crème fraîche tart (i sprinkled ours with nutmeg!) to help us decide where we want to go (so many choices!), and this evening, to help fuel the book editing marathon that's happening in my living room, i made a GF lemon almond cake.


i'm very much looking forward to sharing some (more) of my favourite chinese foods upon our return!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

soirée celebrations

my friend erika came for a visit! although we both studied English lit. at the same university, and have a number of common friends, we never met until we both worked for the afore mentioned university in China. she then moved to australia, and i to switzerland, and it was the first time we've seen each other in years.

IMG_0226for lunch upon her arrival, the mister made a simple salad and i made some savory cuppycakes. inspired by this recipe, i decided to make a cupcake version with smoked salmon, dill, kalamata olives, lemon, and a bit of gruyere.

ive seen plenty of le cake salé at picnics and gatherings, but ive never seen one with fish instead of meat.

i used:
3 eggs
pinch of sugar
1 1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons olive oil
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 blobs crème fraîche
1 packet smoked salmon
big handful of kalamata olives
small handful of grated gruyere
a few healthy shakes of dill

IMG_0238the fish was soaked in the lemon juice, and the zest, sugar, and eggs went for a ride in the kitchen aide until frothy. meanwhile, i combined dry ingredients. when i was happy with the egg consistency, the dry team was introduced to the bowl. then i added the crème fraîche, salmon, olives, oil, and cheese.

i papered my muffin tins, filled the cups, sprinkled on some dill, and baked for about 15 minutes at ~180°C. we did a good job gobbling them up.

IMG_0240the mister has previously stated that he's not always a fan of le cake salé, but i couldnt help but notice he wasn't shy about eating these.

after lunch, we walked around town, visited the cathedral, went to the lakeside and ate ice cream, and soaked up the coveted sun.

that evening, the mister made his famous fondue.


during her time with us, erika introduced us to the world of bananenweizen (she lived in germany for a time)--banana juice and beer. i was not sure about this taste sensation, but i trust erika, and i trust the germans and beer (when i visited europe for the first time, as a teenager, i fell in love with lemonade and beer), so i went for it. not bad! in fact, quite refreshing! we had smitten kitchen's tacos with our bananenweizen.
Return to the Banana Temple!
oh, bananas. i am reminded of the banana temple--a place just outside of xi'an thusly named because of a mistake i made when describing the pagoda i found near where i taught. you see, the name of the temple is xiāngjī (香积), and a banana is called xiāngjiāo (香蕉). i was explaining the pagoda discovery to my students and accidentally said banana instead of xiāngjī. the banana temple was a place i frequented often during my time in xi'an.

I took erika there on a rainy day in the spring of 2008. and lo, it was only appropriate that i take her to the place of interest i visit the most here--Château de Chillon.

IMG_0326after our castle tour,erika bought some wineat the gift shop and we celebrated the 4th of july (and some good news!) in style: a few glasses of wine and whipped cream and berries.

last night we had some friends over and i prepared mojo verde for our guests. i served roasted trout with tomatoes, garlic, and lemon peppered potatoes to go with the sauce, plus corn with lime juice.


for dessert, i made a crisp with leftover berries, nectarines, peach, and apricot. following smitten kitchen's lead, i added ground almonds to my usual sugar, flour, and oats mixture.

and this morning for brunch, i treated us to a USAian breakfast:

we leave this upcoming week for a month in china. i fear the drool might wash us away before we get to the airport. we can. not. wait. to eat some of our favourite and missed dishes.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

that's my jam!

a few weeks month ago (how is that possible?!), i made a batch of strawberry rhubarb ginger jam based on this recipe. i used the same base recipe to make some strawberry mint jam this time:
~1kg/~2 lbs strawberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 fistfulls of fresh mint
zing of lemon juice (from a bottle)

first, i poured about a half a cup into the ol' food processor with the mint and let that whirl around for a bit. this is the same technique i used when i made chocolate basil cake and i think it works quite well.
strawberries and mint sugar were plunked in a bowl to make themselves all syrupy. Then, i cooked and cooked and cooked and cooked the jam in a skillet (to maximise evaporation). This recipe produced about 3 small jars--i gave two away and kept one for ourselves.


the jams were processed in a water bath for 10 minutes and, post-boil, 5 minutes longer, just to make sure they were nice and sealed.


i am entirely grateful that my dear friend kathryn sent me canning supplies. after a great amount of searching for something that apparently doesnt exist here, a common theme in my life, i used the interwebs to make my dreams come true. or at least provide me with a jar lifter. (and a super cute tea towel! and really hot homegrown peppers!). another thing i cannot find here are 2 part lids--the kind i watched my mom use with the flat lid and screw part. however, i survived using a one piece lid. of all the jars i processed--of strawberry, plum, and cherry jams--only one didnt seal.

IMG_0204next, inspired by this recipe , and my penchant for chinese 5 spice, i made some plum jam. we happened to have nearly a pound of plums around, and i picked up a few more at the market to supplement the batch.

i used:
~.5kg/~1 lb plums
2/3 cup sugar
chinese 5 spice (五香份 [wǔxiāngfěn])
sichuan pepper, fennel, cinnamon, clove, and star anise

it was very messy.

this time, instead of cooking the jam in a skillet, i used our trusty fondue pot.

i got a jar and a half of deliciousness from this batch.  the half jar is in the fridge and the other one will be tucked away to eat later in the year when we are pining for fresh fruit.

lastly, i made some cherry jam with cardamon.

1 kg-ish/~2 lbs. cherries
1 packet pectin (50 g gélifiant)
2 cups sugar
i was curious about the pectin here, so i decided to use it. i know i didnt for the strawberries, which are also low in pectin, but the only way to learn is by trying, right? right. the packet i found said it wasnt sweetened, but my jam turned out really sweet. true, i added more sugar in this recipe than the others, but still. i was a bit surprised how sweet it was.

but, before the cherries were cooked, i had to pit them; we don't have a cherry pitter... however, we do have a funnel! and funnels make for great cherry pitters. will you make a mondo mess? indubitably. but pitting cherries is a messy business no matter how you slice it.

i put the cherries a few at a time into a small glass bowl and press on them with the funnel with the pointy end. it takes out the stem and pit in one fell swoop. then, you can easily put the waste in the compost with a tap. it only took me about 15 minutes to pit all the cherries -- i was processing the plum jam at the same time.

the cherries and sugar were combined to encourage syrupy action

and then cooked and cooked and cooked, again in the fondue pot.

i added the pectin, brought the mixture again to a boil, and then filled my jars.

the cherries this year are amazing. over the last few weeks, ive had them with breakfast and made hand pies.


the fresh pop of fruit has been welcome at this house as once again the weather has decided to bite its thumb at us. here's hoping for warmer temperatures and picnics and eating OUTSIDE.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

avocad-oh, yes!

when a friend posted this recipe with the words "must try" i found myself nodding enthusiastically. indeed. must try. so i did.

i made a few alterations. I used a tube of condensed milk (that's how we roll here) and augmented the rest of the creamy ingredients with some plain yogurt. i also used lemon and lime juice, because im wild. and, we dont have graham crackers, so i bought a box of butter cookies and used that instead.

the mister is away for a few weeks, so im eating lots of soup and sandwiches.

salmon chowder

and this pie. yes, oh yes. this pie.  




you should make this pie too.
you should.