30 August 2012

Spicy Spelt Crispbread

I have just completed a 10-day fast during which I ate no solid food (but had lots of delicious broths and had wonderful juices), but now I'm looking forward to biting into something crispy. This recipe is derived from something I was given in Austria at the end of an earlier fast, but I have adapted and changed it considerably to make it into something that can be served together with an aperitif.
Although it is possible to make this with commercially available wholemeal spelt flour, the taste of the crispbread made with freshly ground spelt grains is incomparably better.





What you need

  • 250 g spelt grains, ground to the consistency of wholemeal flour (substitute up to 50g with buckwheat)
  • 200 ml water
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tblsp dried herbs
  • 1 tblsp spice mix (I use hot paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and a touch of ground coriander)
  • 1 tsp each of seeds (sesame seed, linseed, rapeseed)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • sesame or other seeds to cover (optional)

What you do

  1. Mix all the ingredients into a smooth dough and leave to rest, covered or wrapped in clingfilm for about 30 min to give the flour time to absorb the water.
  2. Roll out to about 2 mm (too thick and it tastes like cardboard).
  3. Sprinkle the sesame seed on top, going over them with a rolling pin to make sure they stick.
  4. Cut into the shape you fancy, put on a baking foil.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven at 200° for about 10 to 15 min, until they are completely dry and brittle.
Tastes nice with some of the toppings presented earlier.
Tip: Instead of mixing all the olive oil in at the beginning, roll out the dough roughly and spread some of it over the dough, then fold and repeat. This creates a bit of a puff pastry effect.

19 August 2012

Chickpea, Bean and Vegetable salad

This is a very tasty summer dish, which can be prepared in advance. In fact the longer the vegetables are allowed to sit in the dressing, the better this dish tastes.


What you need

  • 400 g of drained chickpeas (if you want to make them fresh, boil them in the pressure cooker for 20 minutes in plenty of water and a bit of oil and if you like a tsp of baking soda, then let the pressure drop by itself; saves soaking and all that)
  • 3 to 400 g of green beans, cut to a manageable size
  • 1 small fennel, cut in half, then sliced thinly
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 or 2 red chilies, without pips and cut into tiny pieces
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 1 sprig of rosemary, chopped
  • 1 handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • salt, pepper, optionally cajun spice (see earlier recipes)
  • white balsamic vinegar, olive oil

What you do

  1. Heat the olive oil, add the onions and the fennel, stirfry briefly, then add the chickpeas and the green beans.
  2. Stir over a medium fire until the beans have softened a little, then add the yellow pepper.
  3. Keep stirring until the vegetables are soft but still have bite (about 15 min)
  4. Prepare the dressing: mix the garlic with the herbs, the balsamic vinegar and the olive oil; season to taste
  5. Mix the vegetables with the dressing and leave for at least one.
  6. Serve lukewarm or cold with some freshly baked bread.

11 August 2012

Chillied Cucumber Pickle

Our garden is producing at veritable flood of cucumbers. While trying to find some ways in which they can be used up, I remembered some tapas I had a few years ago in Barcelona. One of them was a kind of chilli pickle with slices of cucumber, which tasted delicious. Here is how I tried to recreate that dish.

What you need

  • 3 to 4 cucumbers, peeled and cut into thin slices
  • salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • freshly ground pepper
  • one or two red chilies, without pips and cut into tiny pieces
  • white wine vinegar
  • sugar
  • one sprig of tarragon, one sprig of peppermint, chopped finely

What you do

Arrange the slices of cucumber on a plate or a flat serving dish and sprinkle liberally with salt. Leave to stand for two hours.
In a sieve wash the salt off cucumbers and allow them to drain.
Grind fresh pepper over the cucumbers, add the chilies and the garlic and mix well.
Put in to a screw top jar and top up with white wine vinegar.
Add sugar until the sourness of the wine vinegar is neutralised.
Add the herbs, shake well and leave to stand overnight. The cucumbers are ready to eat the next day, the next week or the following month.

02 August 2012

"Riis und Pohr" (Leek Risotto from Uri)

A couple of remarks to begin with

It is just over a year now since I started writing this collection of recipes. It seems fitting to mark this event with the first recipe I learnt to cook from my Mum in the place where I cooked it for the first time: in the mountain hut which her father built in the central Swiss canton of Uri, where she grew up. What fits very nicely also is that this is a traditional Uri recipe reflecting both the simple fare the relatively poor farming population could afford and the Italian influence (“Pohr” coming from Italian porro for leek), which is the result of the proximity to Italian-speaking Ticino, but also the fact that the Gotthard train line and the complex series of tunnels that characterise it were largely built by Italian workers, poor and badly treated, a fact that is also reflected in the simplicity of the dish. It was originally served as a complete meal and works as such, but my Rwandan son Charles loves a bit of meat so it is accompanied by a robust, coarse-grained pork sausage in the picture.
To add a bit of atmosphere, there is also picture of hut and the weather conditions on the day I did the dish.   

What you need

  • 1 leek (large is good) with the green cleaned, cut into 5 mm strips
  • 2 medium onions chopped
  • 2 tblsp butter
  • 350 g risotto rice (Carnaroli, Riso Nostrano)
  • 200 ml white wine
  • 400 ml vegetable broth
  • (optionally 100 ml of cream)
  • salt and pepper for seasoning
  • grated cheese (Bergkäse/Alpine cheese)

What you do

  1. Melt the butter in a pan and sauté the leek and the onions until the leek is soft (about 3 to 5 minutes).
  2. Add the rice and stir till it is glassy, then add the wine and reduce.
  3. Add the vegetable broth in portions always making sure that the rice is just about covered. You may need to stir to prevent sticking (the more you stir, the creamier the rice will become; if graininess is preferred, stir as little as possible).
  4. Stop adding broth when the rice is soft. At this point you may add salt and pepper and the cream (if you use it).
  5. Serve with cheese sprinkled over the top.