Friday, May 25, 2012

Chocolate Muffins

Hi there. Remember me? Sooo... Yep, that was a bit of a break. A longish one. To make it up to you, I bring you one of the crowning glories of my kitchen. Behold:

Chocolate Muffins!

You are not impressed? Give it some space to build up. You'll see.

First, the basic recipe. This is the one that works best for me.

150g of dark chocolate
125g butter

215g flour
2 tsp baking powder
30g cocoa powder
55g sugar

185cl milk
2 eggs

Melt the chocolate and the butter. You can use a bain marie, but I usually just put it on the stove. You'll just have to keep an eye on it; you don't want it to boil. Let the mix cool.
In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In a different receptacle, whisk the eggs with the milk. Add the liquids and the non-hot chocolate-butter-mixture to the bowl with the dry ingredients. Mix with a fork, so that the mass remains a little bit lumpy.

This is the basic recipe. Now we add awesomeness.

Chocolate Muffins with Moar Chocolate
Fill the muffin forms to about 30%. Add a bit of chocolate, preferably a "praliny" kind. I love to use Lindor - the bar. Adding an entire Lindor ball might be a bit much. The one I use is dark chocolate with orange, but you can use anything that strikes your fancy. The important thing is that, after it melts, it is still a recognisably distinct flavour in your muffin.Cover with the rest of the batter.

Yes, this is an insidious product-placement.

Chocolate Muffins with Cream Cheese
For this filling, simply whisk cream cheese with sugar until you find it sufficiently sweet. I use half a pack (100g) of cream cheese for twelve muffins. Again, fill form to 30%, then add a fat layer of cream cheese, cover with the rest of the chocolate mix.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Bacon
Ba-dum-pssh! You heard me. With BACON. Why? Because everything is better with bacon!
Fry eight strips of bacon until they are crisp, but not burnt. Set unto a bed of kitchen crepe, and crumble. Keep some of the crumbled bacon for decoration, mix the rest in with the batter.

For the butter-cream topping, mix 250g of butter with two tbsp of maple syrup and ample amounts of confectioner's sugar. Add the sugar by the tablespoon, and keep testing it to make sure you have the right taste and firmness.

For all the muffins, bake them at 190°C, for 15 to 20 minutes. I err on the side of short, since longer baking times make for drier goods.

After they've cooled down, decorate the bacon cupcakes with the butter-cream and the crumbled bits of bacon. I usually use the ends of the bacon, that didn't get the full brunt of the heat from the frying.

See the missing one? Yes, that good.

Eat your delicious cupcakes. They are among the most fabulous food you've ever tasted. Should you be unconvinced on the subject of bacon (what??), then you should probably listen to Jim Gaffigan. He knows.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bentos Galore

Posts have been few and far between those past weeks, even though I've been cooking almost every day. For about two solid weeks, I've been living off bentos almost exclusively. Get this: I suddenly like rice. I KNOW!! Anyway, I've been having great fun with food that's absolutely delicious, and also visually pleasing. All the recipes I've used are from Just Bento, both the website and the book. Preparation is everything. A lot of the things that went in the box, I was able to prepare way beforehand. Here's an example.

Tier One: Rice with Furikake

For tier one, I prepared simple white rice. I don't usually like rice, but I've come to realise that I like Japanese rice. Just follow the instructions on the box. Pack the rice hot, add furikake for flavour. Furikake can be bought in all kinds of flavours in Japanese grocery stores. If none is nearby, you can make your own. The above website has several extremely tasty recipes, for example for sweet bacon. Mmmmmh... bacon. The furikake in the picture is Kimchi-flavoured.

Tier Two: Bell Pepper Kinpira and Edamame

Cook a handful of frozen, unshelled, edamame in slightly salted water. Only cook until they are hot, but not soft. Remove from the water, salt.

For the kinpira, slice a red bell pepper thinly and fry in a tablespoon of toasted dark sesame oil. When starting to get soft, add a tablespoon of soy sauce, a teaspoon of toasted sesame seeds. For added spice, add half a teaspoon of chili flakes. This can be stored in the fridge for a week.

Tier Three: Teriyaki Salmon with Carrots and Potatoes

The salmon is the thing that needs preparation, as the base is salted salmon. Salted salmon can be bought in Japanese grocery stores. If you want to make it yourself, here's how.
Buy salmon with skin. Salt it on all sides, then loosely wrap in kitchen paper, put in a colander. Place in the fridge for about three days. Turn every so often. 
Remove from fridge and paper towel, and fry the salmon in a non-stick pan until cooked on the outside. Remove from pan. Let the pan cool down a little. Then add a teaspoon each of honey, soy sauce, and mirin to the pan. Stir. Heat back up, and when the mixture is bubbling, put the salmon back in. Cook for another few minutes. By few, I mean very few. Turn, of course, so that all sides are covered. Sprinkle with black pepper.

For the veggies, just slice them into medium-thin bits and cook until soft. Or, you know, if you're as possessed as I am by now, slice them, then use your cute Japanese vegetable cutters and turn your carrots into cherry blossoms, and your potatoes into clouds. Then still cook. Aaaaah...

Monday, February 27, 2012

It's the Oscars!

Yesterday night was Oscar Night. Yes, that is one of the most important events of the year, only exceeded by my birthday, and possibly by the FYYFF Award. I was graced by the presence of my film-savvy friend Rosettli, and obviously, we had to eat. And for such a night - a night, such as this! - the food needed to be as stellar as the show. Enter... The Ribs.

Honey-glazed Spareribs with Baked Potatoes

1,5 kg spareribs

For the glaze:
4 tbsp honey
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 finely minced onion

Now, my undertaking seemed doomed from the beginning, when I couldn't find a roaster with a rack. In the US, those seem common enough, but I couldn't find one here in Switzerland. Not until my mom came to my rescue. Of course; that's what moms are for <3
I bought a huge roasting pan with a rack at Ikea, for 30 CHF. It's perfect. You want the rack, so the ribs don't lie on the flat surface. Of course, you can work around that by putting the ribs directly on the rack of your oven, but then you need something underneath to catch the inevitable drip. This roaster takes care of both problems.

Place the ribs, bone side down, in the roaster. Cover the pan with aluminium foil.  Yes, dear Americans, that's "aluminium" the world over. There is no such thing as "aluminum". Set the oven to 180° C, and let the ribs roast for about one hour.

For the glaze, simply combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Uncover the ribs, and generously apply glaze. Repeat every quarter hour or so, while the ribs roast uncovered for another hour.

Yes, that's what delicious pork looks like.

Baked Potatoes

3 huge potatoes
salt, pepper, vegetable oil


Wash the potatoes in their skins. The skins stay on. Then - did you know potatoes can explode? I didn't. Then, you poke holes in the potatoes with a fork. Several deep holes all over the potatoes. So they don't explode all over you oven. Awesome. Exploding tubers.
Cover a baking sheet with aluminium foil. Place the potatoes on it, sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and a bit of oil. Put in the oven with the ribs when you uncover those. The potatoes take about one hour in the oven. The bigger they are, the longer it will take. As usual, you can tell by poking into one with a knife.
For the topping, simply cut the chives and stir them into the sourcream.

Also pictured: Samûm's sacred family recipe noodle salad. I could tell you, but I'd probably have to kill you.

Et voilà! For the perfect evening, simply add booze, Ben&Jerry's ice cream, and Academy Awards! Good lord, Angelina is SO beautiful!

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Roast

Remember that pork roast I mentioned a while ago? It's in the oven *right now*, and I will make sure I take appropriate pictures this time. I should tell you, though, it's not easy to show such restraint, when the odours from the oven have inundated your home for close to two hours.
The roast almost didn't make it, as it were. I saw the recipe on Jamie Oliver's show. I was reminded why I prefer him in book form, as that removes all the superfluous gesturing and pseudo-hip attire. (Jamie, you're almost forty. Deal.) I wrote everything down, but when I had readied all the relevant ingredients in the kitchen, I saw that my otherwise trusty recipe app had deleted all of its recipes. This version is, therefore, the one from memory.

Pork Roast

1 kg pork roast. Jamie uses the shoulder piece, I prefer one from the neck.
2 bell peppers, I like the red ones the most.
1 large red onion
1 jar (350g) roasted peppers in oil
2 tbsp paprika (sweet)
1 can (400g) tomatoes, skinned and cut up
5 dl meat broth
2 tbsp vinegar

Place meat in a roasting pan, fry on the stove until browned on both sides. Remove from pan. Cut peppers into strips, put in pan. Frantically search for the red onion you've totally forgotten about, cut into strips, add to pan. Add the roasted peppers, also cut up, the paprika, and finally the tomatoes. Place meat back in the pan on top of veggies, and cover with sauce. Add the broth - Jamie uses plain water, but I find the broth contributes to the overall flavour - and the vinegar.
Place in the oven, at 200° C. Roast for about 2 hours, depending on the dimensions of the meat. You can check at about one hour, and see how it comes along. According to Jamie, it's ready when it practically falls to pieces when poked with a spoon. I tend to take it out a wee bit earlier.

And this is what it looks like uneaten. A brief state of existence.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Importance of the Pantry

I cannot overemphasise the importance of the well-stocked pantry. The reason I'm bringing this up today is because it's my day off, an the weather is like this:

Sooo... I will not leave this building. And since I'm not fond of starving, this is where my exceedingly well-stocked pantry comes in. I could live for about two weeks without leaving the house. Not that I wouldn't be bored shitless with pasta until then, but I *could*.
Here's a list of things that I have plenty of, and that I find relevant for my survival. All of them keep well over  a little while.

Staple foods
Flour, sugar, baking ingredients, spices, chocolate, eggs, bacon, canned tomatoes, canned corn, rice, pasta, cereal, UHT milk, dried mushrooms, honey, tea, Ovomaltine, pickled beets, potatoes, carrots, leek, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, oranges, bananas. In the freezer: green peas, broccoli, shrimps, spinach.

These are just the ones I can remember off the top of my head. Most of them are stored in a dry place, some obviously need a fridge. I have a tiny fridge. Ask Jay; whenever I'm at his place, I have intense fridge-envy. Even so, once one masters the game of Tetris, even the tiniest fridge is your friend. I also usually buy all the meat I'll need for about two weeks in advance. Can you tell I really don't like to go out unless I have to? Except, of course, on Tuesdays.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Roots Bloody Roots

Winter is a time for soup. It is also the season of all the things that have grown under the soil, and that keep so well. Therefore, today:

Sweet Potato Soup

1 kg sweet potatoes
1 large red onion
1 small piece of fresh ginger, peeled
1 liter of vegetable broth
50 g butter
some cream cheese or similar

Heat some butter or oil in a pot. Peel the onion, cut into pieces (it doesn't have to be Julienne; we will eventually just run this through the blender), add to the hot butter. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into smallish bits. The smaller the pieces, the shorter the cooking time. Add to the pot, along with the ginger, and let fry in the butter for a little while. Stir from time to time, so that nothing burns. I sometimes sprinkle everything with a bit of sugar, which slightly caramelises in the process. Not that the end product needs to be any sweeter, mind you. Add the broth, and cook everything for about 20 minutes.
Turn off the heat, and puree the contents. Stir in the butter. Serve with a little island of cream cheese in the middle.

There is no picture of the soup. Soup always looks the same. If it helps, this one should be orange ;)

You know, instead, enjoy watching this.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Raw, Part II

There was meant to be a Conversation with the Stoic Man here, as he pointed out this dish to me. Alas, my transitioning from one computer to the other has destroyed all record of said conversation. Maybe it didn't happen at all! Hm...

Wherever I got this idea from, it's a great one. Raw meat is the best. When getting the meat, ask the butcher (or the meat person in your supermarket) for the kind that you would use for steak tartare. By the way: I have never had the original Korean dish. I can't tell if this is close to how it's supposed to be. I only know it's tasty.


200g beef. I had it cut right in the store, but the pieces need to be slightly more delicate than in the picture above. Think half a centimeter.
1 nashi (Asian pear), cut into matchstick-like pieces
pine nuts
1 quail egg. Not pictured, as I couldn't find any at my local Migros. I love raw eggs, so I'm sure it's delicious.

For the marinade:
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp of sesame oil
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1 green onion, finely diced
1/2 tsp of toasted sesame seeds

Combine the ingredients of the marinade. Put the meat in the marinade. If you have to cut the meat yourself, it helps if you put it in the freezer beforehand, to give it stability. Cut up the nashi and arrange on a plate. Place the meat on top of the nashi structure, decorate with the pine nuts. If you want to add the egg on top of your meat, make an indentation for it on top with a spoon. 

Hmmmm, raw. Rawrrrr!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Advanced Level Cooking: Lamb

I omitted the obvious pun about silences and such. So, another experiment. I noticed that most of the meat I prepare is a) raw, b) in the form of a steak or similar, or c) cut into tiny pieces. Recently, I used one of Jamie Oliver's recipes to make a pork roast. It was surprisingly good. I'd have posted about it, if I hadn't forgotten to take pictures. I know, document before you eat! Which is why I'm starting the documentation of this lamb rack extremely early.

Part One: Marinating the Meat

1 rack of lamb, about 300g
4 sprigs of rosemary
6 leaves of peppermint
5 cloves of garlic
5 tbsp of oil. most people use olive oil, my personal preference is for sunflower.

Herbs in a bag.
I use a plastic bag for the marinating process. It's a very convenient receptacle, and it will take up a minimum of space in the fridge.

Chop up the rosemary and the mint, and place in the bag. Press the garlic, add oil. Then, add the rack of lamb. Allow to marinate for at least two to three hours. Which is what I'm going to do right now, as it's 4am.

Further updates as events warrant...

Update 1, 13:24h. I decided that the side should be

Mashed potatoes with garlic.

500g potatoes
20g butter
1 dl milk
2 cloves of garlic, pressed

Peel potatoes and cut in half. This, because it makes the cooking a bit quicker. Cook in salted water for about 20 minutes. Remove from water, mash, add butter, milk, and garlic. Add salt to taste.
Now, I'm kinda lying to you. I don't use milk in mine, I use about twice the butter instead. But I figured that most people might prefer a slightly lighter consistency, as the absence of milk makes it a very compact thing.

Part Two: Cooking the Meat

2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp butter
1dl of red port
1 tsp honey
some aceto balsamico

2 sprigs of rosemary for decoration

Preheat the oven to 200° C. Heat the oil and the butter in a frying pan. Remove the lamb from the marinade and dry with a paper towel. Put in the frying pan, and fry until crisp on both sides, but don't overdo it. Remember, we never go past "medium" on meat. Keep pouring the butter/oil mixture on it as you fry it.
Remove from pan and put in the oven for about 10 minutes.
Add the port and the honey to the pan, add a tiny bit of water if necessary. Season with salt, pepper, and balsamico.

So tasty. So pretty.

There. I imagined it to be harder. But, hell, this is one of the best things I've ever cooked. I'm totally awed by myself ;)

Monday, January 23, 2012

There Is No Meat In This.

Are you worried yet? Sometimes I eat a salad. In fact, I usually take a salad every day when I go to work. I *like* salad. I just don't like green salad, because it bores me to tears and has no nutritional effect I can tell. It needs something substantial to augment it.

Lettuce and Beetroot with Goat Cheese
1 mini lettuce
1 beetroot, cooked and pickled
1/2 red onion
100g goat cheese

balsamico dressing

Let me just admit that I'm lazy about the dressing. Anna's Best balsamico dressing is just fine for me. Of course, you can do your own. Be sure to send me a recipe.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Raw, Part I

Technically speaking, the fish in a Ceviche is not raw. But since it hasn't been cooked with heat, and I was looking for a title to tie in with other stuff, we'll go with it. Back to the interesting bit. The chemical reaction akin to cooking is achieved using the acid in lemons and limes. Leave a slice of lemon lying on raw fish for a while; you can see the effect pretty quickly.


200g of fish. I used pangasius, even if Samûm says they're the trashcans of the sea. Ask the fish vendor of your choice for good alternatives. Also, this is bound to be delicious with salmon; buy the sushi-quality kind.

1dl lime juice
1dl lemon juice
1/2 red onion, diced
a handful of cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
salt, pepper, dried chili

later: cilantro and avocado

Please note that lime juice is slightly bitter, more so than lemon juice. You may vary the quantities of either based on that information. Cut the fish into pieces of roughly one centimeter. Together with the other ingredients, put it into a receptacle that can deal with the acid. Ceramic was suggested, but my plastic storage units do just fine. Make sure that the fish is entirely covered with liquid. Let it sit for one hour in a cool place. Drain the liquid from the rest of ingredients. Add the avocado, cut into cubes, and the cilantro for decoration. Serve with toast, or rice, or, indeed, almost any carbon hydrate of your choice.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Sooo... The Season, the one and only, is over. I'll be honest, Christmas is my favourite time of the year. Everything is bright and shiny and pretty. I love buying stuff for people, and yet another year, I've spent eight (8!) hours straight in Desi's kitchen baking Christmas cookies. See below. But right now, I'm sick. As in, someone on that darn train gave me a cold. Or something. I am sick, and I want blood oranges and herbal tea. And soup.  

Quick and dirty vegetable soup with sausage

I believe that a lot of people don't cook because they think it's complicated. Those of us who cook know that it can be, but often isn't. This soup is the opposite of complicated. It was one of those seat-of-the-pants things. I wanted soup, so I just used every available vegetable in sight.

1 leek, cut into rounds
3 potatoes, cut into small cubes
3 carrots, cut into rounds
some broccoli
some sausage
1 liter vegetable or beef broth
spices according to personal preference

Melt butter in a pan, add the leek, sautee for a moment. Add the broth, along with the potatoes and the carrots. Let cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes. The solidity of the potatoes is your indicator whether it's done. When they're sufficiently soft, add the sausage and the broccoli. I used three paprika sausages I bought in Germany, the size of hot dogs, more or less. They are sufficiently spicy, so I didn't add any pepper or similar to the soup itself. There are, however, a lot of sausages that go really well in vegetable soup, so feel free to pick your favourite. For the second leg, use the broccoli as an indicator of soup-readiness. Fresh broccoli takes longer than the one from the freezer, obviously. The sausages should get a good ten minutes to interact with the soup. That wasn't hard at all, was it?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

My Second Bento

In yet another frightful display of non-traditional food choices, I bring to you: my second bento! Let's not kid ourselves, it's all about filling the pretty little boxes. With pretty little food.

Tier 1: Meatballs

Step one: prepare meatballs according to my recipe here. Put in the box, fill up empty spaces with cherry tomatoes.

Tier 2: Fried potatoes with scallions

3 small potatoes
oil for frying
pepper, salt, chili
2 scallions, chopped

Peel the potatoes and cut them into relatively thin slices. Fry them in an open frying pan until they're soft and partially brown. Season with salt, chili, and pepper. Add the scallions.

I made myself a dip of one part sweet chili sauce and two parts hot ketchup to with both the potatoes and the meatballs. Remove the "chili" or "hot" part wherever that seems necessary.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I want snow! Snow to go with the presents, and the music, and the lights. And the cookies! Behold, Christmas cookie extravaganza, Swiss style. Too late, you say? It is never too late for cookies. I can assure you, they will be well-received at your place of employment long into January. I try to keep the holiday spirit up until Candlemas, most of the time. Alternatively, just consider yourself well-prepared for this year's Christmas.

The ingredients of the recipes are listed in the order of their appearance.


The most essential Christmas cookie. Both pretty and delicious. If you're not gonna make these, why bother?

250g butter
125g sugar
2 tsp vanilla sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 egg white (white only)
350g flour (normal flour. None of that self-raising kind.)

For the filling: redcurrant gelée

The way you prepare the batter is always the same, for all the cookies. With a mixer, soften the butter, then mix with the sugar, the vanilla sugar, and the salt. Add the egg, mix everything until smooth. Add the flour bit by bit, always making sure that all of it is absorbed into the mass. The dough should be firm but malleable. If it still sticks to your fingers, carefully add more flour.
Put the dough in the fridge for half an hour. Prepare your working surface with flour (so the dough doesn't stick), then flatten the dough with a roller to about 3mm of thickness. Or thin-ness, rather. Use a round cookie cutter for the bottom and a round one with an added hole of some sort to make tops.

Bake at 200° C for about five minutes. They should become golden at best, but certainly not brown. See the brown one in the center of the picture? Too long.

Once they've cooled, fill them with no more than half a tea spoon of redcurrant jelly. Blackcurrant is also good. You can warm the jelly to a liquid state to smoothen it, but it has to cool again before it can be used to fill the cookies.


The typical Christmas cookie. In my family, most often eaten before baking occurs. They're the ones at the top, angel-shaped.

250g butter
250g sugar
1 pinch of salt
3 eggs
grated skin of one lemon
500g flour

1 additional egg yolk, beaten, for glazing.

Again, add the ingredients to the bowl in this order. The lemon should be organic, if ever possible. After its stunt in the fridge, flatten the dough to a thickness of about 5mm. Use cookie cutters of choice. Glaze the cookies with the beaten egg yolk before baking them for 10 minutes at 200°C. Those are allowed to brown a little. Just a little.

Sablés with Chili

One of my favourites, both for easy preparation and unexpected taste.

175g butter
75g sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 red chili, seeds removed, chopped into tiny bits
250g flour

Mix the ingredients as above. Note that, since it's all held together by the butter in the absence of an egg, it might feel a little less "solid" than the others. Once everything is assembled, roll the dough into a roll (the poetry of it!) of approximately 5cm in diameter. Place in the fridge for an hour.
Cut the dough into rounds of 1cm thickness, bake at 200°C for roughly 8 minutes.

It all looks so easy, doesn't it? It is. It's also ridiculously time consuming. I think I made about 400 units that day.