Wednesday, September 30, 2009

These are a few of my favorite things...

This mortar and pestle is one of my favorite things. A couple of years ago my sister and some friends were visiting me in St. Paul. We all saw it (at Bibelot, a favorite store of mine there). We oohed and aahed and lusted after it, and then my friend got it for me as a hostess gift. I love the shape, the feel, and most of all using it. Along that vein, here are a few other favorite things, food discoveries since arriving in Switzerland.

It has been a year now since we moved here, and I have had so much fun trying new things. Sometimes I know what I am buying, sometimes I don't, all part of the adventure.
eggs and apples

After moving to our little village I began to hear about eggs at the barn. A neighbor walked me down and showed me the little glass and wood cabinet, stacked with packages of 1/2 a dozen eggs. Next to the cabinet is a little box to put my coins into, and then I take home my eggs. I love getting my eggs this way, supporting the local farmer, and saying thanks to the chickens on my way back home. Then, besides eggs there are usually apples and apple juice. Near summer's end the apple supply ran out, but now is well stocked again. Often I go to the apple room with the pungent smell that always inspires me to make a pie or tart, although often I don't get to it and we just eat them. I pick out my "sauer" or "suss-sauer" apples (sour or sweet-sour), and after weighing them I put a few more coins in the box near the eggs and head back up the hill with a smile on my face. Now the barn not only has eggs and apples, but also pears, gourds, and potatoes. Made the most beautiful crispy baked potato chips last week.


Pronounced Shhbrinz, sort of. This was an early discovery after being here for a couple of months. I found (and still do) the cheese section to be a bit overwhelming, with so many cheeses, some recognizable, most not, the price per kilo, trying to translate that to what I know - price per pound - well you get the idea. I saw the Sbrinz and thought it looked like a nice hard cheese, perhaps an alternative to Parmesan. When I got home I looked it up online, and indeed that is just what it is, however it is Swiss and is one of the oldest cheeses in the world. Check it out when you have a chance at .

parchment paper sheets

I have used parchment paper a bit in the past, along with my Silpat (silicone baking sheet) to keep things from sticking. However, here instead of on a roll, the parchment paper comes in cookie sheet sized sheets and is so easy. Now I use it not only for cookies, but for bread, roasting veggies, anytime to save on cleanup. I notice also that the premade doughs come with parchment paper on them, ready to go into the oven. Which brings me to my next discovery...

blätterteig, etc.

So I love to cook and make doughs, and often do it from scratch when I have the time. And then when I don't...what a great option the premade doughs are here. In the refrigerator section are so many types of dough, pie, pizza, and blätterteig, or puffed pastry. They are easy and tasty options, and I have especially enjoyed the blätterteig. Open the package and use the tip of a knife to score a line about an inch from the edge. Mix some dijon mustard with creme fraiche and herbs and spread it on the center of the pastry. Add whatever veggies you have on hand, squash, tomatoes, onions, etc., along with some more herbs, salt and pepper. and bake (220 C) till the pastry is golden on the outside. Yum! And thanks to for the inspiration.

I even tried the croissant dough. It also comes flat and you just cut triangles in it and roll them up. My kids loved doing this with me. We tried these along with some dough in a twist can (think Pillsbury rolls) We definitely preferred the flat dough that you cut and roll yourself. While it wasn't as tasty as from the bakery, they were pretty good and nice when we didn't want to wander out of the house that lazy Sunday morning...

Well, there are more, such as flour with seeds in it which is great for making "no knead" 24 hour bread, and the Thai basil at the Indian store, but I'll go into that more later. For now, glückliches kochen! (Happy cooking!)

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