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Swiss Kiss #11 – Omeletten

cheese omelette

They are not pancakes and they are not crêpes and they are not omelets. They are something in between all those. They are very Swiss. And they are called Omeletten.

omeletten stack

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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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No Frill – Don’t Kill – Dill Waffles

dill and fennel waffle, with dill and fennel dip

I do not care for dill. Sorry. I just don’t. I have tried, without success. So I stand by it and take it as a fact (for now): Dill is not my herb. Period.

But dill it was, a compact bushel of it, that I recently found myself left with for that one supper. Filigree and fragrant, and way too beautiful to be ignored. The back and forth between my fascination (positive) and anticipation (negative) slowly but surely got me going. And after a few rounds of contemplating, all I had on my mind was to create a dish that featured dill in a way that (even) I could appreciate it. Hmm.

I approached the challenge by eliminating, at first. So pickles of any sorts were a no go. Same with fish. No smoked salmon, nor fresh white fish fillets allowed. While trying to figure out how to highlight the character of dill, slowly but surely I decided to rather undermine – pardon: out balance – it. And fennel immediately peeked around the corner. Grinning.

dill

Although dill bursts with warm, sweet aromas and flavors, the herb also bears – hidden far behind and left for the finish – some cool, anise like hints. Which match the big, heavy profile of the fennel: The bulb appears cool, cooling, licorice/anise like and, yes, almost medical on both the nose and palate. Ha. I would let the fennel eat up and incorporate the dill, without interfering with it.

Waffles were the next idea that just popped up, without me even putting any effort into it. Not pasta or grains, not a soup or salad, not protein. Waffles, to be enjoyed either as a light little meal on their own, as a snack, or an accompaniment to just about anything. The simple dip I quickly whipped up with the surplus of dill and fennel greens leads to almost limitless creations: All of a sudden the dip turns into a spread and the waffles are used like bread. Sandwich, any one? Eggs Dilledict? Savory French Toast? Dilly finger food? Yes, please!

To not kill the dill – but carefully incorporate it into a complex, yet uncomplicated dish – totally paid off. The waffles were crunchy on the outside and still moist and soft on the inside, with the fennel strips adding a lovely crunch. The flavors were exactly what one would expect: Sweet and smooth at first, more and more cool and deep towards the end. The fennel turned to be out an excellent big brother of the dill. Good stuff.

Dill and fennel, the ingredients for the waffles

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Grains of Good

kefir grains in milk

kefir grains in milk

kefir grains

There’s nothing spectacular about it. Nothing sensual. And nothing fancy, famous or fabulous. Most people aren’t even sure how to pronounce its name: Kefir.

Yet, it is fascinating. Very, very fascinating. And maybe more…

Kefir is cultured milk. It is thinner than Yogurt – to which it commonly is compared – and its taste is more acidic. The most significant difference though is that Kefir is produced without any heating of the milk, and therefore all enzymes and bacteria are preserved (which is especially precious when raw milk is used). The fermentations that turn milk into Kefir make all its nutrients – minerals, vitamins, etc. – very easy to absorb. Besides the many (really, really good for you) bacteria, Kefir also contains yeasts. The alcoholic fermentation they cause results in the fizzy, refreshing flavor so typical for Kefir.

kefir grains and milk before culturing

Most probably, Kefir has been produced and consumed in many, many centuries. It originates from the eurasian Caucasus mountains and was brought to the western hemispheres during the late 1800s only. Lately, the cultured milk drink has attracted the attention of researchers, who believe that there is a direct correlation between the extremely high life expectancy of the people in the Caucasus and the fact that they barely have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, but all regularly consume Kefir. It is proven that Kefir is one of – if not the – most efficient probiotics and strengthens the immune system, this mighty prohibitor of maladies.

Kefir can be enjoyed on its own, or mixed with fruits, honey, herbs and so forth, into all kinds of drinks. It can be part of cold soups, sauces, dressings. It can replace milk, yogurt and sour cream (by quantitatively adjusting the amount of solid ingredients) in recipes. But wait, Kefir also can be used in baking – and in the case of bread even act as the starter for a sour dough. Or it can be made into cheese. No rennet nor rocket science required. – Ha, now we are talking. And tickling the senses.

Make ice cream out of it. Or Gnocchi. Something unexpected! – Kefir might become spectacular and famous, after all. And sensual. Oh my…

two jars of kefir

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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