August 16, 2011

Walnut Crusted Cod with Vermouth Braised Fennel, Gnocchi and Red Currant "Mayonnaise"

My greengrocer has planted many various and special kinds of potatoes. One of my favourte is an old Swiss type the so called Parli, that has such a wonderful taste and a great consistency, just perfect for a potato salad. Among the blue and purple potato types, or the well known Bamberger Hörnchen or the famous French La Ratte, but even the colourful Scottisch Yetholm Gypsy are available in the selection. It is indeed very difficult to decide which one I should try as next. This time the Scottisch Highland Burgundy Red also known as the Red Cardinal, made it into my basket.

I did not have to think much about the way of preparation, because it was clear that either a puree or a gnocchi would be the best way to show as much of its colour as possible. However, well I was not disappointed, but I expected a more intense red colour, instead the result was a slightly purple-pink. But the taste and the consistency just gorgeous. I bet these would make real delicious pommes frites. Anyway, what about the rest of the dish? Well, the main part of it is a walnut crusted fillet of cod, where by the way I used red walnuts. I also served slices of vermouth braised fennel and using the braising liquid with the addition of some fresh parmesan cheese and cold butter I whisked a light sauce. The only intense red colour on the plate is a red currant mayonnaise, that was inspired by a friend's gooseberry mayonnaise.

August 11, 2011

White Tea Sorbet

Well, I felt like preparing a dessert, but somehow the fog just did not want to disappear and kept covering my thoughts, so I decided to wait. I wanted something straight and elegant, no frippery, yet exciting. I wanted to reach that the excitement comes from the its simplicity. Actually, it is an Asian inspired dessert, except for the rich chocolate ganache. Of course, I could have baked a chocolate cake, the sort that knocks yout out, but then where is the simplicity? The rich chocolate ganache is just phenomenal as it melts together with the nobel taste of the white tea while a light breeze of jasmin touches your senses, but then an almost tender touch of chili brings you back to reality. The almond crumble on the plate is there to increase the joy with its crunchiness.

500 ml water
150 g invert sugar
3 tablespoons white tea

Cook a syrup out of the water and invert sugar. As soon as the syrup has reached about 75-80°C pour it over the white tea and let it stand for 10-15 minutes. Sieve and chill. Prepare it in an ice cream maker or freeze it while stirring it every 30 minutes until it has reached the right consistency.

August 9, 2011

Pickled Cucumbers

For the first time ever, this summer I managed to prepare some fermented cucumbers, flavoured with dill and garlic. These are very easy to make, simply fill a big jar with dill, garlic and then the cucumbers, then fill with salted water and put a piece of bread that is packed in a cheescloth on top. Now you only have to leave the jar on a sunny place for a few days and soon you can enjoy the cucumbers. It took me years to prepare these, because it is almost impossible to find the right cucumbers. So my success on the fermented cucumbers made me want to prepare some pickled ones for the winter. By the this was also the first time. I am not so experienced with preserves yet, but I am certainly going forward on the way. Luckily, a farmer grows just the right sized cucumbers, so I bought only a smaller amount to make my first pickled cucumbers. By the way, I am a big fan of pickled gherkins, but it is quite a task to find the right ones, I am very picky. Therefore, I can hardly wait to try my own!

2 kg gherkins
500 ml vinegar (5%)
600 ml water
150 g sugar
2 onions
some cloves of garlic
2 bunches of dill
mustard seeds
coriander seeds
black peppercorns
bay leaf

After cleaning the cucumbers under running water, put them in salty water and let it stand over night. Put some dill, chopped onion, garlic and spices into the jar. Drain, wash and dry cucumbers and put them tightly into the jar. Bring water with sugar and vinegar to the boil and pour it hot over the cucumbers. Close the jars and cook them for 10 minutes in 90°C hot water. The pickles are already edible in 2-3 weeks, but its real taste unfold only in 3-4 months.

August 8, 2011

Cod with White Wine-Mustard Sauce and Cep Polenta

Slowly, I am getting back on track and I am standing again behind the stove. Well, I haven't stopped cooking, but lately desserts seems to dominate in my kitchen and I have the feeling that this will not change much. However, now I am here with a light fish dish with cep, that were picked in a nearby forest. I felt like giving back the scales of the fish, therefore I baked it topped with that wonderful fresh cep. I served it among fresh green beans, cep polenta and a light mustard-white wine sauce.

4 fillets of cod
2 tablespoons butter
2 bigger or 4 smaller ceps
1 shallot
200 ml white wine
150 ml fish or chicken stock

1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon dijoni mustard
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
100 ml cream
salt, pepper

Season fish with salt and pepper, brush with molten butter and put sliced cep on top, then brush it again. Bake fish for 10-15 minutes depending on its weight on 200°C. For the sauce sautée chopped onion together with the bay leaf and coriander seeds, add mustard powder and white wine and cook until it is reduced by half. Sieve and bring it again to the boil with the stock, when it is reduced by half, add mustard and cream and cook until it has reached a nice creamy consistency. Stir in roasted mustard seeds and season with salt and pepper.

August 5, 2011

Hungarian Paprikás Csirke with Nokedli

I would love to say, that the Hungarian paprikás csirke is a childhood favourite, however I have only learnt to appreciate this dish in my early twenties. Meanwhile it is definitely one of my most favourite comfort foods and it tastes best when it is prepared by my mom. No matter how many times I have cooked it myself, even with my mother on the phone, it is just not the same. You could say, it is beacuse the ingredients are different in Switzerland, well sure, that do makes a difference, but I have also cooked it using only Hungarian ones and still. It is always very yummy, but just not the real thing! Probably, paprikás csirke is one of the most popular Hungarian speciality among gulyás and pörkölt. All of these were created by the herders who lived in the Great Hungarian Plain, the Alföld. Usually, a pörkölt is cooked with lamb or beef, however chicken was also popular, especially in the normal households. The first written recipe of the paprikás csirke is by Czifray István, who was a famous cook in the 19th century and wrote one of the most basic and important books. Already in his book pörkölt, gulyás and paprikás are considered as 3 different dishes. Paprikás csirke was first mentioned on a menu of a restaurant in 1825 from Szeged. This mouthwatering poultry dish contains everything that is a popular in the Hungarian cuisine: paprika powder, onion, green paprika, tomato and sour cream. Usually, it is served with nokedli and it goes perfectly with kovászos uborka, that is fermented cucumber flavoured with garlic and dill.


1 chicken
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion
2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika powder

1 paprika
1-2 tomatoes

chicken stock
1 bay leaf
allspice (optional)
600 ml sour cream or créme fraiche
2 tablespoons flour

salt, pepper
for the nokedli:
600 g flour
5 eggs
1 tablespoon oil


Heat oil and sear chicken, then set it aside. Add chopped onion and sautée until soft, then put back the chicken parts, add paprika powder, chopped vegetables and just enough chicken stock or water so that the ingredients are covered. Cook over low heat with  bay leaf and allspice, until the chicken is cooked. Remove the chicken, puree the vegetables and if you like smear it thorugh a strainer. Mix together flour and sour cream and stir it to the sauce. Put back the chicken parts and cook for a few more minutes.
Season with salt and pepper. For the nokedli mix together flour with eggs, oil, salt and so much water so that you get a a rather soft batter, but not runny. Boil water with salt and press batter through a ricer or  a colander and cook until they swim on the top. Drain and if not served immediately, sprinkle with some oil.

August 4, 2011

1. Auguscht Brötli

As you might know, I am pretty bad in bread baking, but I keep on working on it. The Hungarian National Day celebrated on the 20th of August, is also the day when the new bread is blessed. Therefore, I decided to bake a bread for this day, and until then I wanted to practice. The 1st of August is the Swiss National Day, that has its traditional bun roll, the so called 1. Auguscht Brötli. This year I baked some myself, so I had the first great opportunity for practicing. In fact, these buns do not have a long tradition, the first ones were baked in 1959, nowdays you even find some with chocolate. According to a bakery in Zürich, there is absolutely no difference between a regular bun roll and the National Day buns, except the shape. Two other bakeries in Canton Glarus and Obwalden say, that actually these buns are the replacement for the traditional Butterzopf, but it has less yeast in it, and a lot more butter than a usual bun roll. By the way, butter is the most important ingreident. In the original recipe there is also malt and dried leaven in it, but I did not have these at home, so I baked my buns without.

300 g unbleached pastry flour (Typ 405)
200 g unbleached all-purpose flour (Typ 550)
21 g fresh yeast
65 g melted butter
250 ml milk + for brushing
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Dissolve yeast in lukewarm milk. Mix together the sifted flour with salt, then prepare a mold into the middle, add melted butter, yeast-milk and the egg. Knead a smooth dough and knead it for about 10 minute. Let it stand for 30 minutes on room temperature, then put it to the fridge for 15 minutes. Cut it in 6-8 equal portions and roll buns. Brush the top with milk and cut the top in a cross shape. Bake for 20-30 minutes.

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