Sunday, March 29, 2009

The move to Switzerland

We got a new apartment in Switzerland. It's more expensive, but let's just say that the standard of living between France and Switzerland makes it worth it.

I have two colleagues who lived in Switzerland while we were in France, and one in particular was always complaining about how much more expensive it is in the Swiss grocery stores. He's a bit of a complainer in general, but I still found myself a bit worried yesterday as we made our first grocery shopping in Switzerland.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that almost everything was cheaper. I think this is because the Swiss very much like to keep it local, especially with fresh things (meat, dairy, produce). Onions and potatoes were more expensive, but lettuces, strawberries, fresh herbs, fresh yeast and peppers were all much cheaper. The strawberries were an especially good deal, and I bought 1.5 kilos. (See Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Vinegar)

I also bought some more seeds for my future garden. I already have herbs: parsley, basil, cilantro, dill and chives. I bought peas and tomatoes yesterday. The seeds were cheaper, too!

I think I'm also going to grow lettuces, but then that's it. It's my first garden, so I don't want to get overwhelmed.

Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Vinegar

I've been so, so busy. My cousin came to visit us, I've been swamped with work and we moved to Switzerland. All those were/are good things (even about the work), but the result has been that I have had NO spare time.

Also, I have not felt like cooking at all. I don't understand why, but for some reason I'm just loathing the thought of making anything more complicated than a salad.

So, here is the salad that I made today, with the lovely strawberries that are just starting to arrive.

Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Vinegar


3 c mâche or baby spinach
6-10 strawberries, washed, tops removed, hulled and halved
1.5 oz fresh soft goat's cheese (chevre)
1 scallion
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 t olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste


Wash the mâche/spinach and dry well. I like to use a salad spinner. They're cheap and fun (mine was $2 from Target), and effective. Arrange the strawberries and goat cheese on top. Season with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with the chopped scallion. Top with oil and vinegar.

Serving Suggestion and Notes: I know it is extremely basic, but that's pretty much how I've been cooking recently. I'm really looking forward to summer ingredients, and lots of simple but flavorful salads like this one. After winter, I am officially sick of soups (didn't think it could even happen)!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Vote for McCain!

Not for president, but for pizza. I guess it's a Canadian brand, but they sell this delicious frozen pizza here, we simply call it "Pizza McCain." Although there are many flavors, it goes without saying that we are talking about the Supremania pizza with jambon et legumes.

Although BF wasn't fond of it, I also liked the Cheesymania with bleau cheese. Yummy!

We get it occasionally, though we've also started making our own pizzas using the same dough as for pirozhki. I've changed the recipe I use a bit, the proportions are pretty similar but there's less fat and I use buttermilk instead of water. I made a BBQ pizza which I thought was very tasty, and BF made one with Gruyere cheese and a really tasty cream sauce. I'll post recipes later.

I'm going to have a VERY busy next few days. My cousin is coming for a visit from Paris this weekend, so we will probably have lots of yummy French and Swiss-French food in restaurants. We'll be out of the office Friday to show them around. But, I have a big presentation on Monday. So, I have essentially tomorrow and half of Monday to finish it. Yikes!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Root Vegetable Soup

This soup was light but tasty, with flavors of spring and late winter.

Root Vegetable Soup


Water (I probably used about 6 cups)
1.5 cups lamb's lettuce or baby spinach
1/2 large turnip, cleaned, chopped into 1" cubes
1 small rutabaga, cleaned, chopped into 1" cubes
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup chopped oyster mushrooms (can use any kind)
2 medium-large onions, sliced into pieces 1/4"-1/2" thick
2 T oil
1 T butter
1 Bay leaf
Salt and Pepper to taste
Soy sauce to taste (about 1 T)
1 small bunch dill, chopped
1 T dried parsley


Warm the oil and the butter together in a large pot. I use my 3 Qt. pot for all soups. Add the onions, sauteeing them. It helps if you sprinkle some salt over them. I let mine get just slightly caramelized. Add the mushrooms, celery and garlic. Sautee until the celery is really bright green, a couple of minutes. Add the water, rutabaga and turnip. Season to taste with salt, pepper, herbs and soy sauce. Bring to a boil and allow to cook till turnip and rutabaga are soft to your liking (I prefer them not absolutely soft). Just before serving, stir in lamb's lettuce or baby spinach.

Serving Suggestion and Notes: I think the soup may also benefit from a little acidity, like some balsamic vinegar or lemon juice. It's tasty as is, but it's a subtle sort of tasty. The soup doesn't really take long to cook, either. Rutabagas and turnips take less time than potatoes, but if you want this to be more substantial you could add those too. I'm putting this in the "French" section because this just sort of came about from all the great French produce in (one of) my grocery store(s) yesterday. Everything in the soup was from France! It's not that common, we get a lot of produce from Africa and Spain. I try to buy as local as I can, though. *Edit* I just remembered that I put in parsley and dill as well. The dill was from Morocco, so I guess it wasn't a 100% French soup.