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Home, Swiss Home

on the road again, with bag and coffee

By the time you read this, I will be across the big pond. Far away from where my every day happens, on vacation, back in sweet Switzerland. Home, Swiss Home.

I might be sitting outside a chalet, surrounded by bright white, squeaky snow, enjoying a Caffe Fertig (black coffee with a good splash of an herb or fruit brandy, depending on the region). Or taking it easy inside a chalet, reading or watching the snow flakes dancing, or baking or eating something freshly baked. I might be talking to a sweet sheep, or tasting the even sweeter cheese that was made of its milk.

finest pastry shop in Switzerland

 

Sculpture in the Zurich train station

I might be on a train to Spain for the day (and maybe the next), I might be cooking with friends or for friends or both. I might be biting into the most fabulous bread I bit into since my last stay in Switzerland. I might be doing nothing, or a little bit of desk work, or a lot of looking into the air. Hiking for sure, skiing perhaps, drinking tea with my Mom, knitting, strolling the markets, showing the boys my favorite hiding places. Or book stores, museums, food spots and architecture. I might be surprising some friends in cheese at their production or selling places. Sharing stories, memories, laughter and food. Enjoying a Fondue. Or eating a Crème-Schnitte (the best ever, and probably original, version of a Napoléon). Or Düri Bohne (dried green beans). My aunts Suure Mocke (wine marinated roast), hopefully. Or get spoiled by our Chef friends.

pastry cone and soup, fine dining

Breakfast in Switzerland, traditional

There might be other things, new things (and foods) I will be detecting. There’s always so much to do and try and taste. There is never enough time. Never.

But I will share with you every thing – every bite and place and sip and find – after my return. So I say “ciao” for now. Enjoy the Holidays, the celebrations and all that comes with them, to the fullest! Be merry and happy, and keep your full belly at all times!

I will be doing just the same. Home, Swiss Home.

morning vie over Seeland,

Carpe Diem #7 – Quick, Quaint, Quail

finger food with quail eggs sunny side up

quail eggs

I hadn’t even planned to fix some food. I had had a little lunch, and supper still was far away. But all of a sudden I remembered those quail eggs in my fridge.

So I decided that – instead of trying to find excuses and reasons why, indeed, I should fix some food – I just would go into the kitchen and start working. On what, I had no idea yet. I only knew that quail eggs would be involved. Contemplating and rummaging through fridge and pantry, eliminating what I didn’t want to do or eat – no scrambling of the eggs, no filling them, no peeling or prepping vegetables, not prosciutto and no smoked salmon either – I finally opted for a super simple canapé.

pepper jam on bread

quail egg cooking in skillet

A miniature one, to perfectly accommodate and honor the tiny, heavenly eggs; and one that combined just a few very fine and complementing ingredients. So onto slices of Baguette went my sweet & spicy pepper jam, and on this a generous smear of duck liver & black truffle mousse. While the butter became hot in the skillet, I carefully cracked the nifty egg shells with a sharp knife, one by one, and then briefly fried the quail eggs until the white had set and started to brown around the edge, just about a minute or so.

Now it was the little sunny side up’s turn to take stage on the canapés. I sprinkled a little black lava salt onto the eggs, and a wonderful afternoon delight was born. We ate, raved, and were happy. (So next time you remember a dear ingredient in your kitchen, take a break and go play. It’s food, so it’s always worth it.)

face made of eggs, play with your food

canapé with quail egg

The (other) Forbidden Fruit

eggplant toast with mediterranean flavors

I feel bad for the eggplant. While I adore her – and her versatility – nobody else in my house loves eggplant. It gets worse: Not only do my men, all five of them, not like her, they despise her. So passionately, that they have her on the radar. It is impossible for me to sneak her into any dish. My troupe will detect the finest slice, the most subtle paste, the tiniest dollop of pureed eggplant wherever I try to hide it. So most of the time, our kitchen functions eggplant free.

But every now and then I protest in my very own way, by preparing an eggplant meal just for myself. Celebrating, highlighting and respecting this – in my house, anyways – forbidden fruit, brings my mind at least a little peace. And after having enjoyed my meal, I always feel happy and serene. Thank you, my beloved eggplant, you tolerant and humble, dark beauty!

aubergines before baking

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Swiss Kiss #8 – Erst August Weggen

August first rolls with flags

To Swiss, August 1 marks what July 4 does to Americans: It is our national Independence Day. And while there are fire works, pick nicks – or barbecues, how Americans prefer to call them -, tons of sausages, potato salads, ice cream, fruit pies and such on both sides of the ocean, my very favorite part about August 1 are Erst August Weggen: Little, light breads with a cross shaped on the top – representing the Swiss flag -, that from the middle of July and until the big day abundantly fill the bakery shelves across the country.

Weggen, or Weggli, depending on the region, are made year round and stand as one of the staples in Swiss bakeries. The day in, day out, regular version is a portion sized, a bit flattened dome with a cut in the center. The crust is egg basted, very fine and very soft, the inside is feather light, smooth, with a hint of a unique, flattering, addictive, slightly sweet flavor. Which comes from the addition of a tiny bit of malt. (Ta-daa, there goes the secret!)

The special birthday edition is prepared with the exact same ingredients and in the exact same technique as the common Weggli, but in honor of Helvetia has the cross shaped on its top. – Which shows how versatile of a bread the Weggen is: It can be shaped into knots, pretzels, pigeons (traditional in some areas around Easter), little porcupines, people, snakes… you name it. Even though there is this slight, slight hint of sweetness in the flavor profile, Weggli adapts both to sweet and savory companions. Served with butter and jam or honey, this mini bread is a luxury way of the traditional Swiss breakfast (slices of bread, buttered and topped with a sweet spread). When then some cheeses, charcuterie and pickles are added, it easily can make for a delicious Brunch or light supper.

So, go and prepare a batch of dough, shape some Weggen or find your favorite form, and enjoy by eating it with what ever suits your taste buds best. – Meanwhile, I will celebrate with plain, still warm, simply traditional Erst August Weggen. Happy 723. birthday, beautiful Switzerland!

egg yolk and milk for swiss holiday bread

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Carpe Diem #3 – Egg on a Skewer

baked egg on skewer

Wait, wait, before you rush into your weekend, I want to share a little dish that might come in handy. As a fortifier with your drinks tonight, as an appetizer or snack for friends you might receive tomorrow, or even as an eye catching course of a big Sunday Brunch. Eggs on a skewer are very quick, very versatile and, at least I think, very pretty.

All you need are eggs, skewers – preferably wooden ones or, if you have them on hand, rosemary twigs -, and an oven. The rest is up to you. Carefully put each egg onto a skewer horizontally. If the shell seems very hard, you might punch a little hole into one end of the egg with the tip of a sharp knife. Lay the skewer(s) onto a sheet pan and bake in an oven preheated to 450 degrees for 4 minutes for a liquid, 6 minutes for a runny and 8 minutes for a rather firm yolk (keep in mind that the very hot eggs will still keep on cooking for a while after you remove them from the oven).

Arrange the eggs on a plate or platter and let cool until you can touch them. With a serrated knife, cut the top part of each egg open. When you are ready to eat, remove the skewer and dig in. You can serve this on top of a risotto or salad, accompanied by smoked salmon, or as I like it best: With your favorite salt and some good bread. Happy weekend!

baked egg on skewer