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Past Supper #19 – Wintery Goodness

melted cheese in pork chops

melted cheese in pork chops

Ok, most of you may smile when I start talking about winter and its meals. But believe me: Even here in sunny Florida, as opposed to what most people think, there are seasons. And the mornings and evenings are cooler now than they were a few months back, and just as we enjoy donning some boots every now and then, or wearing a sweater instead of the usual t-shirt, we do celebrate warming, hearty meals. The pork chop, pounded, topped with thick cuts of finest Gruyère, then patched together with toothpicks and grilled to perfection, was such a dinner. The mix of pan fried white and sweet potatoes and crunchy green beans complemented the soothing effect of this dinner. Oh yes!

Past Supper #18 – Use-Up-All-Those-Herbs Trinity

herb based dinner

It’s rather nice having to deal with good problems. Like the one of getting way too big boxes filled with way too many herbs from various farmer friends, and this at a weekly basis. So last night I used the one batch of pesto I had prepared – no basil, but chervil, mint, lemon balm and dill – on bruschetta. I pepped up a salad with all my beautiful garlic chive. And I infused the baked potatoes with potent rosemary. Oh boy, what a supper. – And now our fridge is ready for new arrivals.

Chuchi Schwitzer Dütsch (Swiss German Kitchen Vocabulary)

chichi, kitchen

If you are interested in a) all things kitchen, b) languages, c) Switzerland and / or d) traveling in general, chances are that you have heard the word “Chuchichäschtli”, the Swiss German term for “kitchen cabinet”.

Don’t worry if you are not able to pronounce it – yet. There’s countless other words you can practice with. They might be a bit shorter, a bit less twisted, maybe (maybe!) a bit less glutteral, but fun nevertheless.

Please note that the following collection whether is complete nor should be your single source. It simply is a list of  kitchen and food related terms common in the region and dialect I grew up in and with (and, to the delight of my kids, still am speaking after having lived abroad 20 years). It is a collection of words in “bärndütsch”, the language spoken in the Seeland region of Bern.

Have fun, enjoy, practice – and hopefully go use some of the words in pretty and tasty Switzerland at one point!

tempting pizza

aamächelig: inviting.

abchüele: to cool down.

abschmöcke: to season to taste.

Änischräbeli: A traditional Christmas cookie. Rock hard, bone white, shaped into little crescents, heavy in anise flavor.

swiss style mac & cheese

Äuplermaggrone: The Helvetic take on Mac & Cheese. Consisting of left over boiled potatoes, hollow pasta, well melting cheese and cream.

blodere: to boil.

Bluemchööli: Cauliflower.

chacheli

Chacheli: Bowl

chätsche: to chew.

Chegele: Chestnut.

kastanie, edible chestnut

chnätte: to knead.

Chnöfpli: Literally translated: Little buttons. A hand made pasta, for which the dough is cut into random pieces straight into the boiling water. Delicious with saucy meats or tomato sugo.

chöcherle: to lightly cook.

Chochhäntsche (or: Pfanneblätz): Oven glove.

Chrosle: Gooseberry.

chrüsch: crunchy, crusty.

crunchy texture

Chuechebläch: Baking sheet.

Chüeuschranktür: Fridge door.

Drü-Chünigs-Chueche: The Swiss contribution to the vast collection of Epiphamy pastries is a ring consisting of several small, sweet bread buns. The buns are decorated with coarse sugar crystals and in one of them hides, well, the king.

Düüri Bohne: Dehydrated grean beans. Even after soaking and cooking them, they remain wrinkled and concentrated in flavor.

Swiss version of Empanada, meat filled hand pies

Fleischchräpfli: The Swiss version of Empanadas. Handpies filled with ground beef.

Fotzuschnitte: Slices of bread drenched in milk, then egg mixture, and baked in a skillet. Often dusted with cinnamon sugar and served with apple compote. Comparable to French Toast.

füürheiss: hot as fire.

hot as fire

Ghüderchessu: Trash bin.

Griesspfluute: Sweet version of Grits. The Swiss sweeten theirs with sugar and serve it with a plum (or other fruit) compote.

gruusig: disgusting, gross.

Guguhupf: Bundt cake, yeast based.

Härdöpfutätschli: Fritters made of left over mashed potatoes, pan baked.

Hörnli und Ghackets: A simple, traditional peasant dish. Elbow Macaroni with ground beef and its juice.

Hundeli: Literally: Little dog. Cervelats with their ends cut crosswise, about 2 inches deep. When cooked, the ends will separate and make the sausage look like a dog (in case you have enough imagination.)

iifüue: to fill.

Iigmachts: Preserves (sweet or savory).

preserved cheese

lääi: luke warm.

Löcherbecki: Colander.

Meertrübelischlee: Red currant jelly.

Metzgete: The “slaughtery”. It describes a party held at a restaurant or farmhouse in the fall, when all harvests are done and some animals just have been slaughtered. Classically served are ham, bacon, blood and liver sausages, roesti and apple sauce.

Miuchcaffe: Old time “latte”. Combination of (about) half hot coffee and half steamed milk.

Miuchchanne: Milk vat (made of metal).

milk vats

Panierti Plätzli: Thin, breaded pork cutlets. A cheaper version of the Wiener Schnitzel.

panierti platzli

Pfanneribu: Sponge

pfluderig: mushy.

rüehre: to stir.

rüschte: to peel.

schnätzle: to chop.

schprützig: prickly.

Schüttubächer: Mixing jar.

süüferli blöderle: to carefully boil.

sauerkraut

Suurchabis: Sauerkraut (or: Fermented white cabbage).

Täfeli: Candy.

Teigtrööler: Rolling pin.

tünke: to dunk.

verbrösmele: to crumb up.

vermodere: to rot.

Wurscht-Chäs-Salat: A classic, rustic salad prepared of Cervelat slices and cubes of hard cheese (often Appenzeller). There can be onions, pickles, tomatoes, etc. added. Summer fare.

zääi: tough.

Zapfezieier: Cork screw.

Zigerschtöckli: A truly one of a kind cheese produced in one single dairy. It is made of whey, a secret mix of dried and powdered herbs, aged eight months and shaped into a little cylinder (to which the term “schtöckli” refers). Ziger comes in a light green hue, is mighty sharp and usually grated on or into foods.

Zuegge: Spout

spout, zuegge

Swiss Kiss #7 – Älpler-Maggronen (alpine style Pasta)

mac n' cheese on steroids

Älpler the people who, seasonally, work high up in the Alps. Farmers, shepherds, folks that during about 100 days in the summer move accept to leave civilization behind them – often also their families – and go tend to the rough and steep land on 5000 feet elevation or higher, and to the animals they bring, to keep the meadows healthy and profitable. They milk, fix huts, make cheese, repair fences, jump in as vets if an animal needs one. They are all rounders, every single day, all summer long. There’s less romance involved in the life of an Älpler than most outsiders imagine. But much more hunger.

Älpler-Maggronen – “the alpine farmer’s Maccaroni” – are Mac n’ Cheese on steroids. Besides the pasta and (true, real, high quality) cheese they also contain potato, onion and cream. They are traditional to the inner Switzerland region – mainly the Uri, Nidwalden and Schwyz cantons. While transhumance – the seasonal move of people and animals to different areas – has been done in many, many centuries, the Älpler-Maggronen came to life less than 150 years ago.

Around 1882, to be exact, when the massive tunnel underneath the Gotthard mountain was built, in order to connect central Switzerland with the southern part, Ticino, and Italy. The Swiss liked the pasta the Italian construction workers brought along, and they quickly realized that they not only were nutritious, but light and robust enough to be easily transported up to the mountains, and that they had an excellent shelf life. The farmers combined the pasta with what was readily available and would keep them full for a good while.

mise for swiss version of mac and cheese

Nowadays the dish is served in all German speaking regions of Switzerland (so mostly in the north and north eastern part of the country). Some people like to add bacon or ham cubes, some serve apple compote with it, others top the robust mixture with caramelized onions. And some even put the mix in the oven until the top forms a crust. (That is Swiss democracy in food, I guess.)

The chives, although quantity wise the most minuscule of all ingredients, play an interesting role in this dish. While most people tend to consider them as garnish or momentary trend – comparable to the leaf of parsley that for decades adorned every daily special of each Swiss train station restaurant – the chive in Älper-Maggronen has its exact reason. Wild chive is a very common alpine herb and therefore used when ever possible. It adds freshness, color, nutrients and zing to any dish. And makes Älpler-Maggronen a perfectly complete meal. What else would one want?

aelpler maggronen, in bowl, ready

Continue reading “Swiss Kiss #7 – Älpler-Maggronen (alpine style Pasta)” »

The World According to Caroline

cheese and chocolate

  • I  eat cheese and chocolate every day. Good cheese and good chocolate.
  • Each time I imagine my last meal, it is different.
  • If there was a perfume created just for me, it would have the scent of tomato plants.
  • If you don’t like duck, I don’t like you!
  • I can’t stand people when they chew gum. Even people I usually like and respect.
  • Food – choosing, preparing and eating it – is an extremely sensual process. Presented in a certain way, each food can become an aphrodisiac.
  • Cooked, I prefer crustaceans over fish. Raw, they come in tied (and on top of my list).
  • My favorite food cities are Tokyo and San Sebastián. In no order.
  • I am not a milk drinker.
  • Texture to me is as important as the flavor of foods.
  • All foods that can be consumed without chewing them, seem like no food to me. I am fine with yogurt but it does not nourish me (or my soul?). Same with soup. I need a hunk of cheese and a loaf of bread with it to make me feel full and happy.

red and white wine bottles

  • There is one exception in regard of liquid foods: I look at wine as food. The only liquid food that does satisfy me. And one very dear food to me, without a doubt.
  • I am not a sweet person. My cravings are salty.
  • I like dramatic changes when it comes to food. A simple stew is not better or worse than a froufrou seven course meal with elaborate emulsions and fancy foams. It’s all about mixing it up, involving all senses, going extreme, staying clean and being open to anything. Over and over again.
  • I love every thing and every one in and from Spain. (And for once, this is not only food related.)
  • I can not decide if I like Fondue or Raclette better. Fondue to me tastes and smells better. Yet Raclette can be enjoyed over an extended period of time. I like that.
  • The best days are the ones when my husband tells me during breakfast what he will be cooking that night.

eggs, some cooked, some raw