Recipe: Easy Sausage Frittatta

Frittattas like Pizza, are among Italy’s most popular and humble dishes, a classic “poor people’s” food that would allow to create a more well-rounded meal by utilizing whatever was left in the pantry and then adding some eggs and flour. A frittatta base is always the same, it’s fast to make and very lowcarb (for those who are trying to cut down on carbs in their diet) or alternatively vegetarian.

Today, I had some leftover pork sausages from the local market as well as eggs, onions and leek in the fridge. The obvious thing was to make a tasty frittatta! There’s little you cannot use in a frittatta….icecream, maybe?

~ Easy Frittatta Recipe ~
(for 2 people as a main dish or 4 as a side)

  • 5 small eggs
  • 4 small sausages
  • 1 big onion, 1 small leek stalk
  • ~2dl milk
  • Olive oil, salt, pepper, herbs
  • All-purpose flour

Cut the meats and vegetables into small cubes or strips and stir-fry in olive oil until golden. Use an iron skillet or frying pan with at least a 2cm high rim to hold the rising frittatta.

frittatta01In a separate bowl, first whisk some milk with 1 table spoon of flour. Add the eggs and whisk further until even consistency is achieved. Add salt, pepper and herbs to taste. I like using chives or dill, oregano or herbs de provence depending on the frittatta.

frittatta02Douse the stiry-fry with the egg mix and put a lid on for approx. 10mins at medium to high heat. If the frittatta isn’t rising, increase heat. Lay a plate on top of the frittatta inside the pan, to turn it around and let the other side get some heat for another 3 minutes. The frittatta will rise considerably after you flipped it around.

frittatta03Cut the frittatta in quarters and enjoy with some sour cream, chutney or chlli flakes on top! Bon apetito!

frittatta04

Food Loathings

Everyone has a food nemesis or several. I grew up with a lot of different food and generally think myself a very open-minded eater. Whenever I travel to another country, I try everything at least once. There’s a few things I really can’t abide though and not for lack of trying!

1. Spawn of the seven perfumed hells: Fennel

Fennel is the absolute worst and needs to die in a dark corner surrounded by starving rabbits. It really is rabid food and more power to them – it smells like stingy grandma perfume and ruins every salad. Steamed or cooked to death fennel is still half-vile and only tolerable underneath a thick coat of sauce béchamel and cheese (usually gratin). I want to forget everything I ever had to do with fennel.

cilantrohell

Monstrous cilantro

2. Satan’s soapy brother: Cilantro / Coriander (fresh)

My first real Cilantro encounter happened with Mexican food in California. I was hungry and super psyched about nachos with salsa in a restaurant in Monterrey, only to find the fresh tomato flavor disgustingly disturbed….by soap! WHAT IS THIS MADNESS?? WHYYY??……………….Anyway, I recently learned it’s a genetic thing (or maybe some tastebuds are just broken), in any case no Cilantro for me, kthxbai! This is why Thai curry > Indian curry.

3. The squishy gnomes: Mushrooms

Okay this is where I feel a little ashamed because mushrooms are considered a delicacy almost anywhere in the world and they’re certainly a great source of protein. It’s just that I can’t stand them and I’ve tried a lot of varieties. Also, fungus IS kinda nasty if you think about it, I mean it even eats people! …..

The earthy flavor and slimy texture of some mushrooms gives me cold sweats. Am okay with morel cream sauce but anything else is torture.

4. Garbage from the Ocean: Seafood (and sushi)

I love cooked fish – seabass, trout, salmon, tuna, you name it. I’ll eat cold fish in salad or a sandwich. Fish is healthy and full of omega-something-trendy and we’ve still got about 30 years to go before we’ve completely rid the oceans of all of them. Everything that ain’t fish however is disgusting and should remain in the water. Shrimps are spongy little monsters trying to facehug you when you’re not looking, mussels are pandora’s box and squid would better serve as a hairband. Go away seafood!

panicfood

What seafood looks like to me

5. The wicked sisters: Anise, Licorice and Cumin

None of these should be allowed anywhere near food that isn’t a Christmas cookie. Nuff said.

6. More’s the pity: Bell peppers / paprika

I like the taste of paprika! I wanna eat it on pizza or as stuffed dolma with wonderful secrets inside! But here I am outwitted by fate because for whatever reason, peppers don’t sit well with me at all, especially raw ones but cooked ones too. Not going into any details here, mostly I get stomach cramps for the rest of the day. I have an anti-pepper digestive track or something, screaming <INTRUDER ALERT!> every time I give it a try.

***

It’s funny how that works with food we don’t enjoy or can’t stomach. Real allergies aside, I remain convinced it’s a psychological thing – many (not all) of the foods we hate were likely also avoided by our parents (or whoever cooked for you) or simply not served in our home and immediate environment. I mean, I doubt I’d hate mushrooms if I was a wild boar.

That reminds me, I didn’t like tomatoes as a kid either but somehow I acquired a taste for them. They’re a good excuse to eat all the mozzarella. Is there any food you’ve tried over and over and still can’t take or are you an easy food adopter?

Recipe: Delicious Shortbread with Strawberries and Whipped Cream

Shortbread is the food of the gods. This easy to bake, deliciously addictive, buttery and crumbly biscuit may be Scotland’s greatest vindication where cuisine is concerned. Traditional shortbread is made of nothing but awesome butter, sugar and flour and will save your ass when facing a sudden onslaught of uninvited guests. To go the extra mile, add fresh strawberries and whipped cream to make this an unforgettable dessert experience!

~ Basic Shortbread Recipe ~
(for about 30 or so biscuits)

  • 300g plain white flour
  • 200g butter (unsalted)
  • 100g white sugar
  • small pinch of salt
  • optional: some liquid vanilla extract

Add all ingredients in a bowl and knead with your bare hands until the dry crumbly mass sticks together. Roll the dough (I prefer 5-6mm for thickness but no less than 3mm) and cut into whatever shape you prefer. I’m lazy, so I do uneven squares.

Place on the baking sheet and bake for 15-20mins at 180°C. Once the biscuits start turning a dark golden around the edges, remove from the oven and leave on a cooling rack for at least 15mins.

shortbread02

We already ate a few…

This is where you’re done with the basic shortbread recipe – but we’re just halfway! For divine foodgasm, slice up some fresh strawberries and give them a nice tumble with a bit of powder/icing sugar in a bowl. Next, whip up some cream until light and fluffy.

~ How to serve ~

I like to do three layers of biscuits (still slightly warm after baking) per person or serving. Use a small dessert bowl and start off with some strawberries on the bottom. Break one biscuit in half (or quarters depending on size) and then cover with a spoonful of whipped cream. Rinse and repeat until you’re satisfied with the quantity. Always finish with cream and strawberries on top.

Congratulations – you have officially entered shortbread heaven! OMNOMNOM

shortbread

Fair warning: guests will be back for more.

Recipe: Seasoned Wild Rice with Tomato & Cucumber Salad

Lately I’ve been going back to the home-cooking of my childhood and some of my favorite recipes are all about the rice. Wild rice mix is a very satisfying option to plain white rice but it screams for color and flavors. For some reason I always loved acidic and vinegary combos with wild rice, so this is one easy and quick recipe to preparing a rice dish for yourself that’s both wholesome and very tasty!

~ Ingredients ~
(serves 2 people)

  • 375 grams of wild rice mix
  • 7.5dl vegetable stock / bouillon
  • 1 big carrot
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 red tomatoes
  • 1/2 of a (Nostrano) cucumber
  • Olive oil, white vinegar, slice of lemon

salad

First off chop the onion, tomatoes and cucumber into small, same size cubes. I prefer Nostrano cucumbers for taste and less kernels but any salad cucumber works (I also remove the gooey kernels from the tomatoes). Mix everything in a bowl and add some olive oil, vinegar and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Put the salad aside to rest, ideally for about 30mins.

rice01

Bring your vegetable stock/bouillon to a boil while chopping the carrot into very small cubes. Add the wild rice and carrots and lower to medium temperature. Let the rice cook for ~20mins with only an occasional stir. Add a flake of butter before serving next to the tomato and cucumber salad. Enjoy the flavor combination of the sweet rice with that very fresh salad!

rice02

I Ate This: Thai Basil with Lemongrass

It looks like “Nua/Gai Pad Krapao” (beef/chicken variants) is popular around the globe because Liore beat me to this recipe only two months ago! I made this dish for the first time myself last night and it was both easy and incredibly yum. Here’s what I used in addition to Liore’s ingredients in case you’re looking to add some extra vegetables and flavors to this excellent recipe:

  • Baby-corn x6, sliced in half
  • Okra x6, sliced in half
  • Green beans, chopped
  • Thai eggplants x4, quartered
  • A small handful of fresh green peppercorns
  • A small stalk of lemongrass and 4x Kaffir leaves (both to be removed before serving)
  • About 1.5dl (5 fl.oz) of meat/veggie stock

I started off frying the shallot, garlic, chilli, pepper, lemongrass and ginger for about 2mins before adding the rest of the vegetables. Stiry-fry for 5 more minutes before adding the meat/veggie stock and Kaffir leaves and let simmer for an additional 10-15mins. Once you added the meat and Thai basil towards the end, don’t forget to remove the stalk of lemongrass and Kaffir leaves. Optional: 2 spoonful of coconut milk before serving – I am a sucker for that stuff!

thainomsSyl writes over @ mmogypsy.com – a blog about video game design, MMOs, RPGs and high adventure. She also co-hosts the Battle Bards VGMusic podcast and can be contacted via twitter @Gypsy_syl.

A full Fridge says more than a Thousand Words. Or: Your Food Essentials.

About once a week I go grocery shopping for essentials and foods that spoil easily, like fruit and veg. There are times when I am a good kid and ate all my greenery and times when I shop with all the best intentions but end up throwing some of it away. Alas. Winter is a time for less spoily food and since I’m generally a summer fruit person (berries yay!), winter veggies and the odd pear are all I’ll get (I try to buy seasonal). The second half of the year is all about comfort food around here, potatoes and cheese, sausages and soup, roasts and quiche. And of course wine.

Fridges around the world tell a thousand stories about people – where they come from, how they live. No fridge or pantry is the same. No matter where you go on holidays, it’s exciting to browse foreign food and get to know (and get grossed out over) eating habits.

Our fridge right after grocery haul.

Our fridge right after grocery haul.

My weekly grocery haul

My food essentials are more or less the same every week. There will be different yoghurts (chocolate and coffee pour moi!), real awesome butter and cream, eggs, different cheeses (hard, soft, mozzarella, cottage cheese, Fondue), pickles (for Fondue), bacon (strips or diced), potatoes (usually for Fondue), milk and O-juice which I need to wake up in the morning. The odd fruit will roll around and make a mess, maybe some salad, avocado, olives and sausages. Sometimes there is peanut butter. I love the creamy kind.

Of course I also keep sauces (mayo, mustard, Sriracha etc.) and chutneys (Branston!) in the fridge but they keep a long time. I love me my sauces.

Dry stuff and storage

We don’t buy bread most of the time but I like Swedish dry breads to put things on. When you stop eating much bread, you realize how much you miss having a “base to carry stuff on”. Ever since we got our own bread-maker, we try making our own bread on demand (we used to throw away so much bread or eat too much of it anyway). There’s no pantry or storage room of any kind except for a shelf or two where we keep canned beans, pellati and tuna, as well as some dry pasta and wild rice. There’s two ceramic pots with garlic and onions which we use up pretty fast (anything needs garlic and onion!).

All pretty standard and plain. If you want to eat a real meal, you’ll have to cook it from scratch and plan ahead. There is chocolate of course (in case you were wondering) but sweets of any kind are a rare treat in my home, not a staple. Also, Lindt chocolate never makes it past the next day.

The freezer

We don’t have a freezer worth mentioning except for an integrated shelf inside the fridge. What’s usually in there are ice cubes (duh) and Parmesan which keeps forever that way. If I’m feeling very adventurous, there will be a cup of Ben&Jerry’s icecream or pizza for emergencies and bad hair days.

Show off your fridge!

What food goes into your fridge every week and what do you always keep on stock?
What secrets does a freshly stuffed fridge tell the world about you?

The Quintessential Guide to Traditional Swiss Fondue

I am a great cheese enthusiast. I love cheese from all around the world, in all variations, flavors, textures and colors. Melted cheese is sensational in any dish and there are few dishes as iconic for my home country as traditional cheese Fondue. Anyone who ever comes to visit me will at least get to eat Fondue once, be it spring, summer, fall or winter – even if it’s considered more of a winter than summer dish (rubbish if you ask me). To the Swiss, Fondue is strictly about cheese and it can be found and eaten almost anywhere, from small local restaurants to gas stations. The first mentions of Fondue in Switzerland date back to the 17th century and it’s since evolved into an important food tradition most people will indulge in several times a year.

The Fondue Tram on Zurich

The Fondue Tram in Zurich City (myswitzerland.com)

Fondue is a rustic and amazingly social dish that requires time to eat. It is therefore particularly popular at family and friend gatherings and often served on birthdays, Christmas or New Year. It is also simple to make, assuming you have access to the right cheese, get the correct equipment and follow a few basic guidelines. The following pointers are my comprehensive guide for anyone looking to make their next Fondue night a raging success!

1. The Cheese
Naturally there is nothing more essential to Fondue than the cheese mix. Unfortunately this is also the trickiest part to get right for anyone outside Switzerland, certainly outside its immediate neighborhood. Contrary to popular belief, Fondue is in fact not just “melted cheese” but a mixture of several cheeses as well as more ingredients like alcohol and starch. The balance of this mixture is vital and will not only decide over your Fondue’s flavor and consistency but whether the cheese curdles completely and becomes inedible. Therefore even here, nobody mixes their own Fondue; people will either rely on a local dairy for homemade mixes or get some (no less excellent) store-bought Fondue cheese. The most common cheeses used in Fondue are Emmentaler, Vacherin and Gruyères, the last two known as the magic formula of “moitié-moitié” (half-half or fifty-fifty) but there are many regional variations to what people prefer.

fgerber

Breaking up the cold mix before cooking

One of the universally most endorsed Fondue brands is Gerber’s red and I implore anybody seriously looking to make a great Fondue to put in the extra effort (and money) and order online. There are several websites including Amazon that export Fondue nowadays and since it’s not something you’ll have often, it’s worth getting the real deal. Really, a rubbery or curdled cheese mess ain’t pretty!

2. Equipment
As Fondue is meant to be eaten slowly over the course of one or even several hours, it comes with its own equipment that consists of either a clay or iron pot called “caquelon” (iron pots heat up faster), a steel rechaud (with oil or burner paste) and of course extra long Fondue forks. Most households around here own their own Fondue sets but maybe you can borrow yours or find alternatives to what essentially comes down to a boiling pot over a fire. Dedicated rechauds come with heat regulators but you can always keep it simple – I rarely use the regulator because we tend to obliterate our Fondue like rabid wolves anyway.

frechaud

Fondue rechaud with adjustable flame and lid

3. Sides
When I say “sides” I am referring to all food that’s being dipped into your Fondue. Traditionally, Fondue is eaten with bread cubes or diced cooked potatoes (popular especially in the French part of Switzerland), as well as less commonly with brussels sprouts or canned pineapple (and other fruits). Bread needs to be crusty: there should be one side of crust to every cube, so getting long, thin (baguette-shaped) bread is ideal. Nothing is as boring as ordinary soft, white bread for Fondue so try to pep it up with nut&seed bread, tomato or olive bread etc. Potatoes are a more light-weight alternative that I personally love, as well as steamed brussels sprouts if I’m feeling more lowcarb.

As far as complementary sides go, Fondue is always served with different pickles (cucumber, onion, baby corn) – the vinegar helping a great deal to cut through some of that heavy cheese. Some people will also serve canned mushrooms as well as chilli or stuffed peppers. No matter what sides you prefer, remember absolutely everything gets dipped in delicious cheese!

Steamed brussels sprouts, bread and pickles

Steamed brussels sprouts, bread and pickles

4. Spices and Ingredients
Only very few things go into traditional Fondue whilst cooking. Regional differences aside, most people will agree that Swiss Fondue is to be prepared with fresh garlic, nutmeg, Fondue spice mix and Kirsch (cherry brandy) or white wine (usually Fendant from the French part of Switzerland). While the alcohol may be optional for some (although it will cook out!), I would be devastated to discover I am out of garlic or nutmeg before cooking Fondue.

The amount is up to taste; as a garlic fan, I usually go with 8 cloves per pot. I press them for stronger flavor but you can also slice the garlic and make people go dive for it later on. If you’re not familiar with nutmeg, rather start using too little than too much or you’ll end up ruining everything.

Ground pepper, Fondue spice, nutmeg, garlic, lemon juice, Kirsch

Ground pepper, Fondue spice, nutmeg, garlic, lemon juice, Kirsch

Other than the basics, I will add a squirt of lemon juice to my Fondue sometimes to take off the edge of the fat. I also like adding a bit of paprika and ground pepper. If your Fondue runs too thin for some reason, Maizena corn starch dissolved in a bit of water will save the day.

5. Drinks
No Fondue is complete without the right drinks which come down to either Fendant (a white wine that is not too sour and very light) or slightly sweetened, warm black tea. This may sound weird but nothing complements Fondue quite as well as a simple Lipton Yellow Label (or more fancy if you prefer) which also helps with digestion later on. Try it, it’s lovely!

What is absolutely not recommended with Fondue are soda pops, sparkly water or anything of the sort as they don’t agree with the cheese.

6. Cooking Your Fondue / Step-by-Step Recipe
Once everything is set up, it’s time to cook that Fondue! I personally measure about 800 grams of Fondue for 3 people (=1 store-bought box of Fondue usually, containing 2 packs of cheese). A reasonably big pot can serve about double that amount of cheese but it’s recommended to have 4-5 people maximum per pot. If you’re planning for a big party with many guests, you’ll need several cooking sets or the hunger games are on.

Break up the cheese mass in your pot with a wooden spoon before heating things up to max temperature. If you’re going for a double serving, start off by filling the pot by half, adding the rest of the cheese slowly over time to avoid clumping. As your Fondue starts melting, stir slowly to avoid any burning on the bottom. When you reach creamier consistency, add nutmeg, spices, garlic and Kirsch (and whatever optionals). Keep stirring for about 10-15 more minutes after that; the cheese should become perfectly creamy and glossy before serving. Perfect Fondue consistency is neither watery nor thick as double cream – it should allow dipping in bread chunks with ease while covering them up nicely when removed. The closest in terms of consistency is probably melted chocolate / ganache.

Make sure the rechaud is set up and burning before you take your pot off the stove and gather everyone around quickly – dinner is served!

Creamy awesomeness

Creamy awesomeness

7. Fondue Tips, Tricks & Traditions

  • The “correct way” of dipping bread and other food in Fondue is by running your fork in a few (usually about three) clockwise circles around the inside of the pot, then twirling several times as it comes out to lose those strands of cheese.
  • As you’re eating away, a crust will form at the bottom of the pot which may be thicker/thinner and more or less burned depending on how fast you eat and how hot the cheese is cooking. Do NOT ever try to break up Fondue crust while there’s still cheese left to eat! A bitter, black crust will ruin the rest of your Fondue if disturbed and there’s no reason to do so. Leave the crust for the end and check if it’s yummie or not. A great crust is coveted among Fondue connaisseurs and colloquially called “the Grandmother” so treat that last bit as a special delicacy.
  • Fondue is often served in several rounds through the course of a night. If you only have one pot for too many people or didn’t quite get enough the first time around, take a break and prepare another serving in a bit!
  • Dedicated Fondue restaurants serve all kinds of different flavor Fondues: Chilli Fondue, Mushroom Fondue, Tomato Fondue, Bacon Fondue or Fondue with a variety of herbs or cream cheeses (often Gorgonzola) added while cooking. So if plain cheese sounds too boring for you, experiment away!
  • If your Fondue gets too watery and just won’t come together, a few spoonfuls of liquified Maizena (corn starch) are your best friend!
  • Do not ever wear warm sweaters or long sleeves that you cannot take off to a Fondue dinner! Trust me.
  • Since Fondue is such a social party dish, there are many traditions that have formed around it. The most common such tradition is this: before anyone is allowed to dig in, the stakes and punishment for losing one’s bread in the pot are agreed upon. Repercussions generally range from public shaming to kisses or more painful rituals in a set progression.
fasterix

Crazy Fondue traditions in “Asterix in Switzerland”

8. Waste not! About Fondue Leftovers
Sometimes you won’t quite finish your Fondue and that’s no problem because it’s still absolutely wonderful the next day. Do not ever throw away leftover Fondue – cover the pot and leave it standing! Break out the hardened Fondue the following day and enjoy it with some bread and meat cuts or alternatively, as a pure treat like I do (all you need is a spoon!). If you still have leftover potatoes or brussels sprouts, heat them up in a pan and cover with last night’s cheese for another round of delicious Fondue goodness! However, don’t consume cheese that’s been standing for longer than a day.

Happy Cooking!

And that’s it, the end of my Fondue knowledge! You have all the tools in your bag now, so I hope your next Fondue night will knock people off their socks! There’s nothing left for me to say other than happy cheese time and En Guete!

I Ate This: Salad Potpourri

Everyday the fresh salad buffet at my workplace features some staple as well as different seasonal salads for the hungry customer base. Working in a clinic comes with its perks and having three healthy menus per day prepared by a brigade of diet chefs is definitely one of them. The salad buffet serves both as an alternative and recovery station to anyone passing on that warm lunch; leftovers from previous day menus will be utilized in salads of the next day. Needless to say, this keeps the salad buffet exciting as well as most viable. Almost any vegetable side can be turned into a yummie salad with some good olive oil and vinegar.

Friday lunch noms

Today’s plate: nut lettuce, basil tomatoes, beetroot, cervelas, beans, olives, egg and yesterday’s brussels sprouts. Who said salads were boring?

Recipe: Oven Roasted Veggies with Feta

I love colorful food that’s easy and quick to make. Veggies are an integral part of every healthy diet and yet veggie dishes are often considered heavy maintenance due to prepwork or amount of waste. So, here’s one of my favorite recipes for lazy people that’s also super flexible (you can pick almost any vegetable you like) and takes no more than 10mins of prepwork! There are no exact measurements for this recipe since the amount of vegetables is determined by the size of your baking sheet and number of people to serve.

veggieround

Some of my favorite veggies and feta cheese.

~ Ingredients ~
(serves 2-3 people for a main dish or 4-5 people as side)

  • 2 Red tomatoes
  • 2 Zucchini
  • 2 Medium-sized leeks
  • 15 Spring / baby potatoes
  • Feta cheese
  • Olive oil extra vergine
  • Rosemary and herbal salt
  • (Optional: diced bacon)

Preheat the oven at 220°C and start chopping your different vegetables. Cut the baby potatoes into even halves, bigger ones may be quartered. Make sure you’re not cutting other vegetables that contain more water, such as zuchchini / tomatoes / leek too thin, or they will dry out before the potatoes are done.

veggiecuts

Spread all vegetable slices on your baking sheet (covered with baking paper) and coat with a generous amount of olive oil. Add rosemary and any flavor of herbal salt you prefer – I tend to either go with italian or provençale flavors. Use your bare hands to mix and “massage” the oil and herbs onto all your veggies.

veggiemix

Spread the vegetables evenly, making use of the entire size of your pan. Finally, sprinkle feta cheese to taste over everything and put in the pre-heated oven for approx. 25-30 minutes at 220°C. This dish is basically done whenever your potatoes are.

veggiesdone

It’s omnom time!

Serves as a main vegetarian dish or side to any protein. I tend to go for a plate of purely veggies, sometimes with added bacon, and a spoonful of yoghurt or cottage cheese on top. Bon apétit!

I Ate This: Swiss Riverside Picnic

Ever so often weather permitting, the better half and me set out for a picnic at the picturesque riverbanks of river Aare in Switzerland, basking in the evening sun and enjoying a simple, traditional meal of bread, cured meat and cheese (sometimes with pickles, onions or olives on the side). The “cold platter” is a staple dish in every Swiss restaurant, showcasing regional produce without much ado – Swiss picnic is all about pure taste and great products.

pic

Leaving work after five today, it was too sunny and lovely to go home and crash on the couch (of course that’s still a possibility for a later time because TV shows!), so we grabbed some of the finest Mostbröckli, an assortment of Gruyères / Emmentaler / Appenzeller / Tilsiter cheeses and traditional Zopf for a simple and yummie outdoor dinner. Sometimes less is more.

When’s the last time you enjoyed a spontaneous picnic somewhere out in the blue?

River Aare