Saturday, July 29, 2006

Ostrich on Noodles with Chanterelle and Pear

It happens quite often that my ideas suddenly change while I'm cooking. While my chanterelle mushrooms were pleasently simmering in butter, I thought I'd like to add a shot of some kind of booze. Looking into the booze shelf, I noticed a bottle of a fine williams pear brandy from the elsace in france. If you're hesitating to buy this kind of brandy, it's also very delicious for desserts or as a digestive.

Luckily there were some unripe pears sitting in the kitchen as well, perfect to add to the sauce which turned out quite nice!

for 2 people:


2-4 ostrich steaks (depending on the size), replaceable with a beef tenderloin
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 handful of fresh chanterelle mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
freshly ground salt and pepper
1 large green pear, sliced (hard and unripe is fine)
2 shots of williams pear brandy


Bring water for the noodles to a boil, add salt.

Season the steaks well with freshly ground salt and pepper.

In a small pan or skillet, heat the butter over medium-high heat and sauté the mushrooms until they're starting to shrink. Add the sliced pear, stir and sauté until the slices start to brown a bit. Add one (out of the two) shot of the pear brandy. Season with salt and pepper and keep mushrooms and pear simmering over low heat.

Add the noodles into the boiling water. Once they're almost done, heat a skillet with the olive oil over high heat and sauté the steaks quickly, about 1-2 minutes on each side depending on their thickness. Pour the second shot of pear brandy over the steaks.

Add the finished noodles into the mushroom-pear skillet, stir well and serve on plates. Arrange the steaks on top and serve immediately.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Super Simple #3 - Filled Zucchetti

Based on a little poll we've had a while ago, most of you readers seem to be interested in quick and easy to prepare dishes. This zucchetti dish certainly belongs into this category as well. The preparation time is 10 minutes or less with another half hour you won't have to do anything while the zucchetti sits in the oven. The addition of a little bit of clove added a nice exotic touch.

for 2 people:


2 whole zucchetti (size depends on your appetite)
olive oil
3.5 oz (100 g) ground beef
3.5 oz (100 g) ground lamb
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh or dried oregano
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon ground paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 clove, ground (or 1/2 teaspoon clove powder)
2 oz (about 50 ml) white wine
2 tablespoons cognac or brandy
1 tomato, thinly sliced for decoration
a few thin onion slices for decoration
salt and pepper to taste


Cut a thin lid lengthwise for each zucchetti. Using a spoon or a special tool, remove seeds and excess meat from each zucchetti so you'll have plenty of space to fill them.

Microwave the zucchetti to soften them but make sure they're still a bit crunchy inside. To test that, stick a fork in it and see how resistant the veggies still are. If you don't have a microwave, you could also keep the zucchetti in the oven for an extra 15 minutes or so at the end or get yourself a microwave. It's not just there to cook frozen dinners (please don't!), I prefer boiling potatoes in there for example which just takes a few minutes.

Place the zucchettis into an oven-proof dish and put aside. Pre-heat the oven to 355 F. (180 C.).

In a skillet, heat a bit of olive oil (a few tablespoons) over medium heat, sauté onions and garlic for about 1 minute. Make sure the garlic doesn't burn as it will become bitter! Pour in the cognac or brandy. Add both ground beef and lamb, season with salt and pepper and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients besides the tomato and onion slices. Stir well and test the taste. Add more spices to taste. If you like your dishes a bit spicy, you could add some chili as well.

Fill the zucchetti with the meat, decorate with tomato and onion slices, sprinkle with a few drops of olive oil and put into the oven for about 30 minutes. Optionally, you could also add some ground parmesan cheese on top.

For some other super simple recipes, check out:

Spaghetti with Oven Roasted Tomatoes
Rosti (Röschti)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Gigot Steaks on Eggplant with Tsatziki

Gigot, or also knows as leg of lamb, has a very unique lamb flavor which differs from the lamb racks I usually prepare. You might have to ask your butcher for leg of lamb steaks or if he has a whole leg, he might be able to cut a few steaks for you. Preferrably you would like those steaks to be at least 1" thick, better 1,5".

The combination of lamb, eggplant and the cucumber dip is very refreshing and perfect for those hot summer days.

for 2 people:

2 leg of lamb (gigot) steaks, 1-1,5" thick
1 eggplant, sliced lengthwise
olive oil for sauté

for the marinade:
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 twigs fresh thyme, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh or dried oregano
10 mint leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon paprika
freshly ground salt and pepper

for the tsatziki:
17 oz (1/2 l) plain yoghurt
1 cucumber, peeled, seeds removed and finely chopped (best to use a food processor)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
salt to taste


You need about 6 hours to de-water the yoghurt for the tsatziki. Use a strainer with a thin piece of cloth inside (a kitchen paper might work as well). Put the strainer in a bowl and pour the yoghurt into the cloth.

After several hours, a lot of the water from the yoghurt will have seaped through the cloth, giving you a much less liquid and wet yoghurt, perfect for tsatziki.

Before starting to cook the meat and eggplants, finish the tsatziki. Add the cucumber to the dried out yoghurt. Add garlic, olive oil, dill and salt to taste. Mix well and add more ingredients to taste. Keep cool in the fridge.

Sprinkle enough salt on all the eggplant slices on both sides and let them sit on a plate for about 30 mins. The water will start to come out of the eggplant and form little drops on the slices.

Once that happened, wash the slices and flour them all around.

Rub all the ingredients for the marinade around the steaks. Use more olive oil if the marinade is too dry. Put aside.

Preheat the oven to 175 F. (80 C.).

In a skillet using plenty of olive oil, sauté the steaks over high heat about 1-3 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness, until they've gotten a nice brown color but leaving the inside red. Put the steaks into a dish and place into the preheated oven.

Depending on the thickness of the steaks, leave them in the oven for at least 30 minutes, but no longer than 1 hour. You still want the meat to be slightly pink inside.

In a skillet, sauté the eggplant slices in olive oil until browned on all sides. Don't overlap the slices in the skillet, only put as many at a time as possible. Add more olive oil as needed.

Arrange the eggplant slices on the serving plates and put a lamb steak on top. Serve with the cool tsatziki on the side.

We've enjoyed a bottle of nice tuscany wine with this dish but you could also go for a lighter red to keep this dish more suitable for a hot summer night. I do tend to think though that a full-bodied italian wine enhances the flavor of lamb quite nicely.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


I wouldn't know how to translate this correctly into english, but a 'Schrebergaertli' basically is a community of little cottages, each with its own garden for cultivating vegetables, salads, fruits and such.

Today we've visited Signora Nicoletta, who's been growing her own vegetables and fruits with great success for years already in her own little cottage in the 'Schrebergaertli'. She seems to have a perfect green thumb as everything she plants seems to grow beautifully!

By the way, having your own little cottage in a community like this is quite cheap. The rent per year is around US $ 150/year. Cheap rent, yes, but you're not allowed to sleep there overnight!

It was a joy, watching Signora Nicoletta, originally from Italy by the way, being active in her garden, filling bags and bags with fresh salads, onions, herbs and fruits.

Signora Nicoletta picking a few cucumbers.

Watering the tomato plants.

Cutting different kinds of salads.

A handful of green lettuce.

Preparing the soil for new baby salads.

In Signora Nicoletta's garden you'll also find eggplants...

... grapes ...

... all kinds of berries, and much more.

We left there with bags and bags full of fresh herbs, salads, vegetables and berries.

The dwarf is sitting there on the soil watching that everything grows well, isn't he?

A few recipes with all that green stuff

Green leaf salad


any salad you like (preferrably organic)
balsamic vinegar
red wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
fresh herbs (for example parsley)


There's not much to describe about making a simple green leaf salad. For certain types of leaves that are a bit more bitter than others, I like to make a stronger dressing by using more balsamic vinegar while I rather use a white wine or even apple cider vinegar for more subtle leaves like butter lattice.

I'm personally more into simple italian style dressings with just those few ingredients, but you certainly could add some mustard, cream or even soy sauce. Just try to not confuse the tastes by adding too many ingredients into the same dressing. Be creative!

Cucumber salad


cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
sour cream
vegetable oil
white wine or apple cider vinegar
fresh or dried dill
sald and pepper to taste


A cucumber salad is a nice and refreshing salad that is best served a little bit chilled. Dill goes very well with it. If you don't have fresh dill, the dried one works as well. There's a seasoning by Knorr called 'Aromat' that I also like to add into the dressing. Again, taste your dressing and add to taste.

Pasta with fresh herbs


pasta of your choice
lots of herbs (I used basil and celery leaves)
extra virgin olive oil
fresh garlic clove, crushed
fresh yellow onion, chopped
red chili (if you like it spicy)
lots of freshly ground parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste


Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, onion and chili and sauté over low heat for 10-15 minutes without burning the garlic!

In the meantime, cook your pasta in boiling, salted water al dente. Right before the pasta is ready, add all the herbs into the skillet and mix. I also like to put the drained pasta directly into the skillet to mix it well with the sauce. You really need to use a lot of herbs. I'm still surprised how much that mountain of herbs shrinks down when heated up!

Season with more salt and pepper to taste, serve, and sprinkle with lots of parmesan cheese. If you're pasta is a bit dry, add more olive oil.

With a simple dressing like this, it is even more crucial to use only the best and freshest ingredients. The herbs I had from Signora Nicoletta were so strong in taste and made for a great pasta sauce.

Rucola Risotto


lots of rucola (arugula, rocket)
for risotto ingredients click here
lots of freshly ground parmesan cheese
a nice piece of meat goes well on top, I used a swiss horse steak


For the basic risotto instructions, please check here on my previous post.

Before starting the risotto, sauté your meat (horse or beef tenderloin) over high heat on both sides until nicely browned, but keep it raw inside. Season well with freshly ground salt and pepper. Wrap it into aluminum foil and put it into a low temperature oven (80 C. or about 175 F.)

Prepare your risotto. After about 10 minutes, add the ground parmesan cheese. Once the rice is almost ready, add the rucola and stir well. Arrange the rice on the plates. Remove the meat from the oven and arrange on top of the rice.

Vanilla ice cream with fresh berries

Always a favorite! Vanilla ice cream with berries of your choice! The berries could also be heated up a bit, or you could add a shot of liquor like cointreau.

Here are some other ideas:

Coffee with vanilla ice cream

Vanilla ice cream with grand marnier oranges

Friday, July 14, 2006

Pork Tenderloin with Prunes

I've always liked the combination of meats with fruits and the pork tenderloin is especially nice to serve with fruits or even fill it. For this particular recipe, I used dried prunes which were first soaked for a while in Noilly Prat and then stuffed into the tenderloin.

I like to keep the ingredients simple to not confuse the tastes. This dish stays very simple in preparation and is a guaranteed success in the oven for low temperature cooking. As a side dish, I prepared some noodles as I thought they'd go best with the slightly sweet sauce from the meat.

for 2 people:

for the pork and noodles:
1 pork tenderloin
about 8 dried prunes, pitted and cut in half, soaked in 1/2 cup Noilly Prat for at least 1 hour
1 tablespoons green peppercorns, slightly crushed
1 tablespoons red peppercorns, slightly crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
kitchen string to close the meat
noodles of your choice

the sauce:
1 tablespoons green peppercorns, slightly crushed
1 tablespoons red peppercorns, slightly crushed
about 8 dried prunes, pitted and cut in half, soaked in 1/2 cup Noilly Prat for at least 1 hour
1/4 cup Noilly Prat
1/4 cup dry white wine (a cheap one for cooking)
3-4 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon chicken base (Better-Than-Bouillon)
1 teaspoon butter


We'll start preparing the pork first. Preheat the oven to 80 C. (180 F.).

Cut the tenderloin lengthwise without cutting through. Fold open the meat and add the soaked prunes. Close the meat and tie it tight with the kitchen string. Rub the peppercorns all around the meat.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over high heat and sauté the meat all around until brown, but not longer than a few minutes. The meat should still be red inside.

Wrap the tenderloin in aluminum foil and put into the preheated low temperature oven.

For the sauce, add all ingredients but the butter into the skillet where you've previously grilled the pork. Simmer the sauce until the prunes almost completely lost their original shape and are dissolved in the sauce, about 20 minutes. Add more white wine if the sauce becomes a bit too thick.

In the meantime, bring water to a boil in a large enough pot for the noodles. Add salt. Before adding the noodles, make sure your sauce and the pork are ready to be served. The pork should have been in the oven for about 30 minutes.

The advantage of low temperature cooking in the oven is, that the meat won't dry out and it also doesn't matter much if you leave it for another extra 10 minutes.

If you have the possibility, preheat the plates. The other way would be to increase the heat in the oven to a very high temperature for just 1 minute or so, not longer! That way, the meat will still stay juicy but will be hotter for serving.

Just before serving noodles and meat, add the butter into the sauce and mix very gently.

Remove the meat from the oven, cut into slices and serve with the noodles on the side. Pour the sauce over the noodles and serve immediately.

I found this funny looking swiss wine in the grocery store, a Dôle with the whole Ruetlischwur story written on it! Most likely, you won't find it at Trader Joe's ;-)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Schwiizer Z'nacht (Swiss Dinner)

It usually happens when I return to Switzerland that I really crave some very basic swiss dishes. Not that it would be impossible to prepare those abroad, but the atmosphere and melancholy ask for it!

Having arrived just a few days ago back home, I do feel the urge of starting to cook again finally after one month of eating out in Thailand.

Walking through the local Migros (grocery store), which, by the way, is another very interesting experience being used to big american grocery stores - why is everything so tiny here? - I got a few Zueri Sausages (sausages from Zurich) to be prepared with a fresh green salad directly from the garden and a potato salad.

for 2 people:

for the sausages:
any kind of sausages you like for grilling (I used Bratwurst and Cervelat)
a good mustard

for the potato salad:
about 6-8 small potatoes, microwaved
4 tablespoons sour cream or plain yoghurt
1 white or yellow onion, chopped
4 tablespoons white vinegar
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
salt and pepper
1-2 teaspoons mustard
1-2 teaspoons Knorr Seasoning or soy sauce (optional)
half an apple, cut into slices (optional)

for the green leaf salad:
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil (extra virgin cold pressed)
salt and pepper
any herbs like italian seasoning, thyme, oregano
shallot or onion, chopped (optional)


Not too long ago, I noticed that cooking potatoes is done the easiest way in the microwave. Especially for a dish like the potato salad, you'll really only need the potatoes to soften, which takes a few minutes instead of boiling hot water first and then cooking them in a pan.

Make sure the potatoes are not getting too soft though as they'll fall apart when you mix them into the dressing.

Mix all the ingredients for the potato salad dressing and also for the green salad in seperate bowls. You'll really have to taste the salads once they're done and adjust the seasoning to taste.

Grill the sausages over medium-high heat on a grill and serve them hot with some mustard on the side.

We had a nice and light bottle of swiss wine, perfect for a hot summer evening.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Thailand - Last Day

Market in Pattaya

The markets in Thailand always fascinated me with their vivid colors and scents. While this market in Pattaya is rather small, in bigger ones you'll encounter all kinds of, in our eyes, peculiar booths that sell, for example, turtles, swamp frogs, dried fish filled with baby banana, fermented pastes and of course a huge amount of different local seafood, vegetables and fruits.

While you're strolling through those markets, the colors change as quick as the smell does from the spice booth next to the seafood stand. It's a visual feast to see the locals selling their goods.

Mostly, markets don't only sell foods, but also an unspeakable amount of things you can't imagine what they'd be good for. The perfect example would be the famous Chatuchak weekend market in Bangkok where you can find about anything if you're patient enough to walk through all the sois (alleys). There's scorpions, underwear, ripped dvd's, antique furniture, birds and tigers, fresh fruit juices and anything else you could think of.

Fruits like Mangosteen, Logan, Bananas, Coconuts and many more...

Fresh vegetables.

More veggies.

Different kinds of chili pastes.

Sseasoning and fish sauces.

Fish and other seafood.

Pork and beef.

Cutting pork chops.

More meat.

Spices, onions and shallots.