Sunday, January 29, 2006

Whole Chicken filled with White Grapes

Next to the rosemary chicken, this is another one of my favorite chicken recipes. The grapes give a lot of juice to the chicken and the chicken gives a lot of extra flavor to the grapes. In Switzerland, I used to prepare quite a few dishes using fruits, and this one is among the best.


1 whole chicken
mustard and/or horseraddish
ground paprika
freshly ground salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter

1 big shallot, chopped
1-2 cups of white, seedless grapes, depending on how big the chicken is

1/2 cup Noilly Prat Dry
1/2 cup white wine (or replace with another 1/2 cup of the Noilly Prat)
1 tablespoon dried or fresh tarragon


Preheat the oven to about 425 F.

Wash the chicken inside out and dry with kitchen paper or a towel. Season the inside with a lot of freshly ground salt and pepper.

In a small saucepan, heat the butter and sauté the shallot over medium heat for a few minutes until browned. Add the whole, washed grapes and mix to cover all the grapes with the shallot/butter mixture. Pour in the Noilly Prat and white wine. Add the tarragon (dried or fresh). Mix everything well and let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the grapes are softened and about half of the liquid is absorbed.

Place the chicken in an oven-proof dish. Rub the mustard and/or horseraddish on the whole chicken. Cover all the spots. Sprinkle paprika, freshly ground salt and pepper around the whole chicken to cover all the skin.

Hold the chicken in a way so you can pour in the grape mixture. Make sure the chicken is really stuffed with grapes. If there's extra grapes that won't fit into the chicken, just put them into the dish next to the chicken.

Place the chicken into the preheated oven. Bake for about 40 minutes, then turn the chicken upside down and bake for another 40 minutes. Jasmine rice works best with this dish. Once you're chicken is done, cut it in half and spoon some of the grapes and juice onto the rice.

I just got this little animation from my friend Daveed who got inspired by this recipe to draw, well, a chicken with grapes!
I liked this illustration so much that i had to share it with you. Thanks Daveed!

Click on it to see it in full size!

Dan's little poll

Hi everybody! First of all, I wish to thank all of you for reading this blog! I started just a bit over a month ago and I've gotten a lot of positive feedback and way many more visitors than I expected! There's still a lot of room for improvement and many of you contributed to some additions and changes that should be seen here very soon.

In the meantime, I added a small poll on the right sidebar. I think it would be both fun and very interesting to see the results! So please take a moment for a simple click there to vote.

Also, I'd like to encourage everyone to give your comments about my blog, especially if you have ideas for improvement!

Please keep reading. Thanks a lot!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A thought on quality vs costs - Pork Tenderloin with White Truffle Risotto

In some way, I'm trying to make a small statement here. This dish honestly turned out to be somewhat of a surprise and it led Yoko to convince me to write a bit about the amount of money spent at a grocery store compared to the quality and price of a dinner you'd expect in a nice restaurant.

First of all I have to note, that I'm in the Los Angeles area right now. The price comparisons are therefore based on what I'm familiar with in and around LA. Also, my apologies to all of you who don't have a Trader Joe's grocery store near you as i'm making quite a few references to this great place. But you'd still be able to get all the ingredients somewhere else.

Without being modest at all, I have to admit that this dish turned out amazing! And I would
love for all of you to repeat this dish at home and tell me what you think. Let's look at the ingredients with prices:

for 2 people:

Ingredients (click to enlarge):

$ 16.00 for two people with wine? With candle light at home romantically served with the music of your choice in the background? For me, this beats a restaurant experience, where i would pay for the same dish about $ 20 - $ 25 per person, plus wine $ 8 per glass, plus tip for the waiter, adding up to a total of about $ 70 - $ 80! And there's another difference: it wouldn't taste as good in the restaurant and at home you're getting a whole bottle of wine for the same price as one glass in the restaurant!

$ 16 or $ 80 ?
Let's go for the $ 16 version and start cooking!


Preheat your oven to a low temperature of about 190 F.

Rub in the fig granule spice all around the whole piece of pork tenderloin. As I've mentioned on the shopping list, you can email me (info under my profile) and I'll be happy to ship you some of that exotic spice as it's only available at Surfas and they don't even seem to list it on their website for online ordering.

In a non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat. Once it starts smoking a bit, put the pork into the skillet, reduce the heat to medium to not burn the meat, and grill the tenderloin all around so it has a nice dark-brown color. The pork is still undercooked in the center. This is where the oven with the low temperature takes over.

Wrap the pork in aluminum foil and put it into the oven. Now it almost doesn't matter, how long the pork will be in the oven. Because of the low temperature, the meat will cook enough but it won't dry out and it will get very tender! Depending on the thickness, the pork should be in the oven for a total of at least 30 minutes.

At this point, it would be time to open the wine since it should breathe a bit before drinking! Especially this italian wine, the Ripasso, which is a full-bodied red wine, likes to have some air first. The best way to let a good wine breathe, is a decanter.

Start preparing the risotto about 20 minutes before the meat is finished in the oven. Follow the basic risotto
making procedure the way I explained it under Basic Risotto Recipe. At the very end, mix in about 1-2 teaspoons of the white truffle oil. Stir and taste it. If you prefer a stronger truffle taste, add a bit more of the oil.

For this particular dish, it would be nice to serve it on preheated plates. You can add plates into your low-temperature oven as well, to heat them up (for about 5 minutes or so). Just make sure they won't get too hot, otherwise they might break!

Remove the pork tenderloin from the oven. Make sure you won't waste the juice that has accumulated in the aluminum foil. Slice the meat with a very sharp knife into about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick slices. Ideally, the pork should still have a slight redness in the center. Serve on plates and pour over the juice from the aluminum foil. Serve the risotto on the plates and decorate (optional) with a twig of rosemary. Serve and eat at once with a nice glass of Ripasso!

I found that combination (the slight sweetness of the fig granule spice with the pork, the truffle in the risotto and this particular red wine) to be a great success! I hope you're as lucky as I was and it turns out well for you too. This beats any restaurant for price and quality! Please let me know what you think and post your comments.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Basic Risotto Recipe

for 2 people:


2-3 cups stock (i prefer the
"Better Than Bouillon" brand). Their chicken stock (from Trader Joe's) is normally fine but they have other more special bases like Lobster Base as well, which you could use in a seafood risotto like this one.

a few sage leaves and rosemary twigs (optional)
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 cup arborio rice (from Trader Joe's)
1 cup cheap white wine for cooking (I always use the Charles Shaw for $ 1.99 for that)


Start by making the stock. 2-3 cups water and about 1 teaspoon of the "Better Than Bouillon" stock. Add sage leaves and rosemary twigs (optional) for some extra flavor. Make sure the bouillon completely dissolves and let it simmer over low temperature.

Put the olive oil into a large saucepan (i like to use a large non-stick skillet), add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat for at least 5 minutes until they're softened and golden. To have more flavor come out of the onions, sauté longer, but without burning them (reduce the heat).

Add the rice and stir until all the grains are coated with the olive oil. Pour the white wine over the rice and stir until it's completely dissolved. Now start adding stock, ladle by ladle. You don't want too much liquid in the rice. You only add more stock, when most of it is dissolved or "swallowed" by the rice. The rice is like a sponge! This process takes about 20 minutes. Keep stirring and tasting the rice to see if it's cooked. You still want it to be slightly firm in the center.

This ends the basic procedure of making a risotto. Many types of risotto dishes will require you to add other ingredients while you're cooking the rice, other recipes will just ask you to add something to the rice at the very end. Click here for an example.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Indian Lamb Curry

This is a basic lamb curry that's easy to prepare and very authentic tasting due to the indian spices used. Traditionally, the lamb is cooked together with the sauce for about 1 hour, but from my experiences, the meat tends to dry out that way. Therefore I prepare the lamb seperately and just add it to the sauce at the very end.

for 2 people:


1 pound boneless lamb (cut into 1 inch cubes)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (to sauté onions)
4 tablespoons vegetable oil (to sauté lamb)
1 medium size yellow onion, finely chopped
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 medium size tomatoes, cut into small cubes
1 cup nonfat plain yogurt, whisked until smooth
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons curry leaves
handful of chopped cilantro (optional)

the spice mix:
2 tablespoons ground coriander seeds
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1-3 dried chilies (depending on how spicy you like it)

update: if you're interested in trying a recipe like this but you don't quite feel like buying all those spices you'll need, email me (info under my profile) and I'd be happy to ship you some samples free of charge.


Prepare some rice in a rice cooker. Rice cookers are a must have in my opinion and there's a wide variety out there. I would get one that's big enough to be used as a steamer as well, like this Panasonic model.

Let's start by preparing the sauce. Put 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet, heat over medium heat, add onions and sauté for about 15 minutes until browned. Add ginger and garlic, mix for 1 minute and stir in the tomatoes. Keep cooking at medium heat until most of the tomatoes' liquid is absorbed.

In the meantime, put all ingredients for the spice mix into a mortar (you can buy one at Silom Supermarket or read more about it in this previous post) and pound until smooth. Add half of the spice mix to the tomatoes in the skillet and stir. Use the other half to rub into the lamb cubes.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and carefully add 1 tablespoon at the time of the yogurt and constantly stir to avoid the yogurt from curdling. Stir until all the yogurt is smoothly mixed into the sauce. Add curry leaves and water and let it cook for about 20 minutes or until the sauce reaches a thickness you like. You can also throw in a whole chili to make the sauce more spicy or just to make it look more beautiful when served in a dish!

While the sauce keeps on cooking, start heating the rest of the oil over very high heat in a non-stick skillet or preferrably a wok. Once the oil is very hot, add the cubes of lamb and fry quickly on all sides no longer than 1 minute total. It is very important to do this over high heat to give the lamb a nice color outside but still keep it juicy inside. I use my cassette feu for that. Or Amazon has a portable butane burner.

Put the lamb into the sauce, stir to cover it with sauce all around and simmer it for another 2-3 minutes. Pour into a serving dish and decorate with the cilantro (optional).

If you're interested in some serious indian cooking, you won't get around the book by Neelam Batra: 1000 Indian Recipes.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Buddha's Hand Jam - Free Giveaway !

Some of you might have waited for this post to find out what I've done with Buddha's Hand. I've got 6 little white jars and 6 little black jars Buddha's Hand Jam waiting for you here! The first 12 people emailing me (view my profile for email info) will be getting one of these jars shipped directly to you, for free of course. All you have to do is tell me if you liked it!

I'm looking forward to the following weekend to sit in the garden with Yoko for breakfast, having a few fresh croissants with Buddha's Hand Jam and a nice cup of coffee!


Peel of one Buddha's Hand (equal to about 6 lemons), thinly sliced
4 cups of water
3 cups of white sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tablespoons Amaretto liquor (for those who tried my jam, now you know where that special fragrance came from!)


Put the Buddha's Hand peel (or lemon peel) into a large pan and cover with the water. Leave it sit for about 1 hour.

Place pan over high heat and boil for about 30 minutes. Reduce heat to medium so it only boils gently. Add the sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Now make double sure that it just boils very gently and let it do so for another 45-60 minutes. Also stir in the Amaretto.

I made the mistake at the beginning to boil it too hard for too long and the jam, once in the jar, started to crystallize. Another trick to avoid that from happening is, to add some lemon juice about 10 minutes before the cooking time is over. So after about 45 minutes, squeeze in the lemon juice, give it another 10 minutes and pour the jam (which is still pretty liquid) into a big glass jar. The jar should at least have room temperature before pouring in the mixture.

Once the jam is cooling off, it will also thicken and start to be more syrupy.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Porkribs, Sauerkraut and Potatoes

It really happened that I was able to live in Pasadena for 7 years now without finding this german sausage place called Schreiner's Fine Sausages. Fortunately, Yoko was talking to one of her friends, Heidi, and as usual, they talked about food! And up came the name of this old-fashioned sausage place. We went to check it out last weekend and wow! They've got all the good stuff like smoked ribs, eisbein, fantastic blackforest ham, liverwurst, all kinds of sausages and basically everything that shouldn't be missing in a good and heavy german meal. You walk in there and you'll be able to witness this fantastic smell. I can't describe, you'll have to go yourself. Thank you, Heidi!

for 2 people:


half a rack of smoked porkribs (3-4 ribs per person)
1 glass jar of sauerkraut (from Schreiner's as well)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon juniper berries, slightly crushed
1 teaspoon green pepper corns,
slightly crushed
3 cloves, slightly crushed
6 small potatoes, peeled
1 teaspoon chicken stock (Better-Than-Bouillon)
some hot mustard (for example Coleman's) and/or
horseradish cream (from Schreiner's)
german beer


Start heating up a pot 3/4 full of water. Add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-high.

Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add juniper berries, green pepper and cloves and roast for a few minutes.

Add sauerkraut to the spice mix and stir well. Lay the porkribs on top of the sauerkraut and cover the skillet. Leave the temperature at about medium, but reduce the heat if it starts boiling too much.

Put your potatoes into the pan. They should be ready in about 10-15 minutes, depending on the size. You can test them by sticking a knife into one of the potatoes. They shouldn't be too hard anymore, but the potato also shouldn't fall apart by sticking that knife into it.

The sauerkraut and ribs only need to be heated up and are ready the same time as your potatoes. Arrange ribs, sauerkraut and potatoes on a plate, add some mustard and/or horseradish and serve a nicely chilled german beer with it.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Tempura From Leftovers

I had a bunch of leftover vegetables in the fridge which were about to go bad if not used soon. Tempura is the perfect dish to prepare to use leftovers as you can pretty much use any ingredients besides chocolate (those are the words of Yoko's mother!)

Normally i would at least add some shrimp as well in addition to the veggies. I think Tempura is usually most fun if prepared for several people. That way you can also use a wider variety of ingredients without having leftovers.


you can use almost anything ...

here's what i had in my fridge:
1 yam (sweet potato)
1 eggplant
1 lotus root (very nice looking with the holes inside)
1 green bell pepper
handful of green beans
all ingredients sliced to be easily handled with chopsticks
tempura sauce (available at Mitsuwa)

also try tofu, prawns, fish, broccoli or maybe even some fruits?

the batter:
either buy a pre-mixed batter from a place like Mitsuwa
or mix 1 egg, cold water and white flour to make the tempura batter yourself.
It's up to you how much flour and water you use, depending if you prefer a thick or a thin batter. I like the batter to have a thicker, creamy consistency.


Pour 1/2 cup tempura sauce into a bowl for each person.
Also prepare some rice (preferrably japanese rice) to serve with the tempura. Mix egg, cold water and flour to make your tempura batter or use an already pre-mixed one. Place in a large bowl.

Heat some regular oil in a large pan. About 1 inch oil from the bottom of the pan should be about right. If you want to prepare the tempura at the table with the people you're going to eat with, you should use a Cassette Feu or similar gas stove. I gave some more details about it in a previous post.

Using large cooking chopsticks, dip a few vegetable pieces at a time into the batter to cover all around. Carefully place the pieces into the hot oil which you should keep hot at about medium heat to not burn the veggies.

Most ingredients are done fairly quickly after about 1 minute on each side. Flip them using the chopsticks. The lotus roots take a little bit longer, about 1-2 minutes on each side. When the pieces have a nice brown color, take them out of the oil and place them on a plate with a kitchen paper on it to have some of the oil absorbed.
Dip the tempura into the tempura sauce and eat them with rice.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Cajun New York Steaks with Caprese

If you're having a bbq party with a few people, grilling outside is a pleasure.

In our garden, we built a bbq grill ourselves out of bricks which is a lot of fun if you like sitting in front a fire and watch.

Using New York cuts might get a
bit expensive, but you can also grill sirloins or even tri-tips the same way. I like good quality meat because I like to grill them black & blue, meaning charcoaled outside, and red inside.

for 2 people:


2 New York steaks (the dry-aged ones are especially great, and expensive)
cajun spice mix (i like the nomu mixes a lot)
1 big piece fresh and soft mozzarella cheese (in a small plastic container from Whole Foods or Bristol Farms)
2-3 tomatoes (try the Heirloom tomatoes)
handful fresh basil leaves
freshly ground salt and pepper
2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


Prepare a fire or a charcoal grill. Mesquite charcoal adds great flavor to your meat.

Rub as much spice all around your steaks as you wish. The more spice you rub in, the more spicy it will get! For 2 steaks, I'd probably use around 2-3 tablespoons of the nomu mix.

For the caprese, slice mozzarella cheese and tomatoes. Arrange them nicely on a serving dish. Sprinkle with the balsamic vinegar and the olive oil. Put the freshly ground salt and pepper on top to taste. Garnish with basil leaves.

Before putting your steaks on the grill, make sure you have a really high heat going and that your grill is pretty close to the heat. Also heat your grill first before adding the meat, otherwise it will stick.

Put the steaks on and flip them in about one to two minutes. They should have gotten a nice brown color. The
goal is to achieve a nice cripsy outside on both sides, but keep the meat still red inside.

Pressing on the meat with your finger should help you notice, how rare the meat still is. The meat will resist more to pressure when it's cooked more thoroughly. Rather undercook it and put it onto the grill again than overcook it and regret!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Buddha's Hand


As I'm walking through Bristol Farms today, i see something i've never seen before! An employee there stepped up and obviously noticed my surprised face, explaining me, that this is Buddha's Hand! Basically a big lemon but without any juice inside. Kind of a solid lemon peal?

I can't wait to cut it open and see how it looks like inside. But first, I have to figure out what I'm going to do
with it. I'll keep you posted here once I figured it out. Or let me know if you have a good idea!

I did some more research on it on the web. Here's an article if you're interested.

And here another article that also offers a recipe for candied Buddha's Hand peal.

And for those who waited to see what I've done with it, check out this post.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Crêpes with Blueberries

Once in a while, i love crepes for breakfast. There are many variations. I'll also post my seafood crepes here sometime. You only need very few ingredients and you're all set! The only requirement really is a good non-stick skillet, otherwise you'll just end up being frustrated with your crepes sticking to the pan.

for about 8 crepes (for about 4 people):


150 ml water
150 ml whole milk
150 g white or whole wheat flour
2 eggs
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
butter to grease the skillet for each crepe

whipping cream, whipped (with some rum or grand marnier inside for flavor)
powdered sugar


Put water, milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract and flour into a bowl and mix everything well until very smooth.
Use the super Betty Bossi mixer if you're lucky to have one, or email me if you want me to bring you one from Switzerland next time i go there! I posted more info about it here.

Heat 1 teaspoon of the butter in the non-stick skillet over medium heat. Swirl the pan so the butter covers the
bottom of the skillet. Add about 3-4 tablespoons of the crepe mixture into the skillet and swirl the pan to cover the whole bottom. You have to work fairly quickly to make the crepe cover the whole skillet. Instead of a tablespoon, you preferrable use a big ladle like this one.

Cook the crepe for about 1 minute until it gently starts to bubble a bit. Carefully flip it in the pan with a spatula and cook for another minute or so. Remove it from the pan and transfer it to a plate. Repeat all that until you have finished the whole crepe mixture. It should last for about 8 crepes.

Put some whipped cream along the center of the crepe and add as many blueberries as you like. Roll or fold the crepe to your liking, sprinkle it with powdered sugar using a strainer and decorate with some more blueberries and whipped cream.

By the way, I first took a picture of this dish with the plate sitting on one of my many place mats from
Switzerland. It accidentally looked like the plate was flying in this mountenous area!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Venison with Spätzli and Pears

I felt like cooking a winter dish after spending a weekend in Chicago for Yoko's gallery opening. There are quite a few variations you can do with this dish. This here is just one out of many. Spätzli is a simple flour/egg based dish typical in Switzerland.

for 2 people:

the meat & sauce:
4 venison ribs (or similar amount of venison steaks)
freshly ground pepper and salt for marinade
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, crushed
1 teaspoon coarse salt, crushed
1 teaspoon juniper berries, crushed
2 cloves, crushed
1-2 tablespoons berry jam (cherry, blackberry or similar)
1 cup red wine
1 teaspoon chicken stock (as always, "Better-Than-Bouillon")
1/4 cup cream

the Spätzli:
200 g white flour
50 ml water
50 ml milk
2 eggs
freshly ground nutmeg
pinch of salt

the pears:
2 small pears (not too soft)
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup red wine


Preheat the oven to 200 F.
Marinade the ribs with plenty of freshly ground salt and pepper. Heat the butter in a non-stick skillet and grill the meat on both sides until it's browned nicely (about 1-2 minutes each side). Wrap the meat in aluminum foil and put it into the oven. Before you keep on cooking, let the meat sit in the oven for about 30 minutes.

Put the sugar into the skillet (the one you used to grill the meat) and caramelize it until it thickens over medium heat. Add the red wine, crushed peppercorns, salt, cloves, juniper berries, chicken stock and berry jam. Stir well over high heat until half of the wine has dissolved. Add more wine if necessary. Put aside.

Wash the pears and cut them into quarters lenghtwise. In another skillet, heat the sugar and let it caramelize. Pour in the wine and stir well. Add the pear pieces, cover the skillet and let the pears simmer. By the time all the dishes are ready, the pears should have softened but should still be firm inside and not fall apart.

Prepare the dough for the Spätzli by putting the flour in a bowl. Mix water and milk together in a seperate bowl, add the salt and mix. In another bowl, mix the eggs with a fork and add nutmeg. Slowly add eggs and milk/water mixture to the flour and stir until the dough has become firm. Put the dough onto a flat kitchen plate and with a knife, cut about 1 inch pieces of dough and move them into a big pan of boiling water. Reduce the heat to low and cook the Spätzli for about 5 minutes.

Now, everything has to happen quite quickly in order for all the dishes to be served hot.
Heat up the sauce again and add the cream. Remove the Spätzli from the water by pouring them into a strainer. Remove the meat from the oven and cut the ribs. Place 2 ribs, Spätzli and pears on each serving plate, pour the sauce over Spätzli and venison. Serve immediately.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Bok Choi in the Wok

This is an easy and quick to prepare dish. In general, i like cooking in the Wok more and more. It's fantastic to blend flavors and because of the high heat, veggies still stay crispy. There's also almost nothing you could do wrong here and you'll have a delicious and simple dish within minutes.

for 2 people:


big bowl full of bok choi (i used baby bok choi from Ranch 99)
4 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
1 inch piece of galangal (thai ginger), peeled and sliced (optional)
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
fresh chilies, finely sliced (amount depends on how spicy you like it)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon corn starch (optional)


Start by preparing a bit of chicken stock. Check out my previous post here to read more about the type of stock I use. Keep it simmer over low temperature. Mix in the corn starch.

Place a wok over a gas cooker. Since I only have a really old electric stove, and wok's don't do well on electric, I bought myself a portable gas stove. I love the Iwatani Cassette Feu Model ZA-3 which was available at Mitsuwa Supermarket.

Heat the oil over medium heat and add the sliced ginger, galangal, the garlic and chilies. Sauté everything for a few minutes to mix the flavors. Then turn the heat to the maximum and add the bok choi, stirring everything well together. Add fish sauce and ground pepper, then pour in the stock. Give it another minute or so. The bok choi should have softened a bit but should still remain crunchy inside.

Of course, you can experiment a lot in the wok with the ingredients. For example, you could also add a few shrimps while you sauté the spices. Or to give it a little bit a different touch, try adding some oyster sauce. Endless possibilites here! Have fun!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year's Zopf

Zopf {m} (Gebäck) plaited loaf
We call that type of bread Zopf (pronounced Tsopp-f) in Switzerland. I've never done it before, but i thought it would be nice to have a freshly baked Zopf for this first morning in 2006.

for a Zopf big enough for 4 people:


500 g flour (i used white whole wheat flour)
1 pack of yeast (7 g)
80 g butter
200 ml milk
2 teaspoons salt
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon cream


Put the flour into a big bowl. Dig a little hole into the center and pour in the yeast. In a small skillet, heat up the butter until it melts, remove from the heat and add the milk. Pour the butter/milk mixture over the flour and yeast.
With a fork, beat the egg, add the salt and mix it into the dough. Now knead the dough with your clean hands for
about 10 minutes until it's nice and smooth. Form the dough into a sphere shape, cover the bowl with a wet towel and let it sit for about 1 hour.

The dough should grow a bit during that time. Knead it again a little bit, split
the dough into 2 or 3 pieces (depending on the type of artwork you're going to create), roll each piece into a long and thin piece of dough and do some artistic forming of the bread. You can find a few examples here.

Once you've created your nicely shaped Zopf, put it onto an oven plate, covered
with parchment paper or a special mat. You can find some details about this on the post I previously posted on making Meringues.
Cover the Zopf again with the towel, and let it sit for another 30-45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to about 375 F. In the meantime, mix the egg yolk with the cream and brush it all over the Zopf. This will give it a nice and golden color. Once the oven has reached the temperature, put your Zopf into the middle of your oven and bake it for about 35-40 mins. You can check if it's done by sticking a wooden toothpick or some metal skewer into the dough. When removing from the dough, there shouldn't be any flour sticking to the wood or metal.

We ate it with some smoked salmon, sprinkled with thinly sliced onions, capers and lemon juice.
Happy New Year!