Sunday, November 22, 2009

Too-Many-Vegetables Soup

Yesterday I realized that we had way too many vegetables around that were going to start being too old any day. So I decided to make a big pot of veggie soup using whatever we had around.

1/2 small red onion
1 large white onion
4 small carrots
2 leeks (bulb and lower leaf portion)
1 medium zucchini
2 big white mushrooms
1 c shredded cabbage
1/4 c parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 T balsamic vinegar
1.5 T olive oil
Salt to taste
A little soy sauce or fish sauce (about 1 t)
1 bay leaf
Water to fill the pot

Warm the oil in your soup pot. Slice the onions into half rings, add them to the pot and let them saute. Peel and grate the carrots, cut the leeks into half rings, and add them to the pot as well. Salt the vegetables and let them saute. Now add water to fill the pot almost full, and turn the heat up to bring the soup to a boil. Add chopped zucchini, chopped mushrooms, shredded cabbage and garlic. Put in the seasonings: bay leaf, balsamic vinegar, soy or fish sauce, salt and parsley. Add them to your taste. Let the soup simmer until the cabbage and zucchini are soft enough for you.

Notes: I was surprised how good this was. I mean, I was kind of begrudgingly making it, thinking I was basically cleaning out my fridge, and that it wasn't going to taste that great because there was just water, no meat based broth or long-cooking-full-of-goodness vegetable broth. But it turns out it doesn't take a lot of time for the veggies to flavor the water. It only took about 25 minutes or so total. Of course you can use whatever veggies you have around, but I think that the leeks and mushrooms made this especially tasty.

Serving Suggestion: Good with a piece of bread. My boyfriend put leftover roasted chicken meat in his bowl, and he liked it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Spicy "Korean" Carrots

This was an attempt to recreate a dish that is sold in markets across the former Soviet Union. I had it in Ukraine, and got a craving for it in a bad way a few nights ago. But Switzerland is not the FSU, so if you want spicy "Korean" carrots here, you have to make them yourself. That is a problem, because it is a closely guarded secret. It's not an actual Korean dish, but those of Korean descent in the FSU who know how to make it don't tell anyone the recipe. There are, however, a lot of recipes on the internet, and I figured that they were all similar enough that the basic approach must be right.

The carrots in the market are sold in looong strips. I think they use one of these. Since I don't have one of those, I had to settle for attempting to julienne my carrots. Since I'm not a chef, and carrots are hard, I had to settle for thicker carrot sticks.

Spicy "Korean" Carrots

2 very large carrots, 1 small one
1 small white onion
1 big clove of garlic
1.5 T vegetable oil
1 T powdered coriander
1.5 T chili powder*
2 t sugar
Juice of half a lemon
Salt to taste

*Note: My chili powder is mixed with a few other spices (oregano?!) and is a bit weak. You can adjust this based on your ingredients and your taste.

Cut the carrots into as close to a julienne as you can, or use a vegetable slicer of some kind. They shouldn't be shredded though. Slice the onion into thin half rings, and chop the garlic. Warm the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, fry until translucent, soft and fragrant. Push the onions to one side, make sure there's enough oil pooled on the other side so you don't have to add more (we want to keep the fat down to some extent). This may mean tilting the pan slightly to get some on that other side. Once you have some warm oil on the opposite side of the onions, add the spices to it. Make sure that all the chili powder and coriander is immersed in the oil, let it fry for some seconds, it should smell really spicy. Add the garlic to the pan, and mix every thing together. Turn the heat down as low as it goes, add the carrots, the sugar, the lemon and the salt. Toss the carrots really well in the spice mix. Let them cook for a few minutes, you may need to keep tossing them so the spices don't burn and so they cook evenly. They should be still a bit crunchy when you serve them.

Notes: In recipes I've seen online they use vinegar, not lemon. But I had half a lemon, so guess what went in, and guess what tasted good? Also, in the real recipe the carrots aren't cooked. They sit in the marinade for a long time. But I cooked them because I was really hungry and couldn't wait. I think it especially worked out because I had thicker carrots. The flavor was close enough to the real thing to satisfy a craving. I think it would be even closer if I didn't cook the carrots and had really nice and thinly cut ones.

Serving suggestion: This was part of a dinner that included frozen and microwaved spinach souffle and perfectly boiled eggs (thank you, boyfriend!). I think they'd make a really good side dish to poultry or pork. Or even hamburgers, come to think of it.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Geneva Restaurant Review: Auberge de Satigny

Went here with my advisor and office people a few nights ago.

First Impression: Looks nice. Big dining room, can seat a lot of people. Not so much a "date" place though, come with friends. There were quite a few groups of people here and some kids running around. View of the dining room is a soccer field.

Food: Of course, la chasse is on right now. They had a menu for 43 francs or so; squash soup with foie gras for entrée, roasted wild boar with traditional chasse sides, and some kind of egg custard I believe, for dessert. I decided to take this same soup that was on the menu (12 francs), the medallion of deer with sides (34 francs) and my boyfriend and I split a sundae for dessert (9 francs). My boyfriend got salade melée and the deer, others at the table took a terrine of hare and the deer.

The food was not bad. I really enjoyed my soup, I was told the terrine was wonderful and the salad was nice as well. The deer was disappointing. It was a bit tough and the cut was too thick. It is much nicer at Le Chaumaz, where they grill it in front of you, and then take it to the kitchen and slice it into bite-size pieces before putting it on the plate. Their sauce and sides are also better. Here the sauce was a tasty pepper sauce. There were some cranberries, brussels sprouts, candied chestnuts, red cabbage and spaetzle for sides. Dessert was very good; a bowl of vanilla ice cream with chocolate and caramel sauces, meringues crumbled on top, and whipped cream. Oh, wine was nice too.

Honestly, I think it was a bit pricey, simply because the main part of the meal was not up to standards. If I had only taken the soup and dessert (or the terrine and dessert) I probably would've been extremely satisfied.

Interesting: They had a large selection of strange game: kangaroo, ostrich, springbuck, etc. But what I thought was weird is that most of the meat, including deer and lamb, was from New Zealand. I know we have both of those things in Switzerland! I also think it's strange they have so many kinds of meat, when I can tell from the way mine was done, this is not a meat place.

They also have a pizzeria here, you can get pizza in the restaurant or take it to go. From what I saw in the dining room, the pizza seemed to be a popular choice.

Consensus: I really did enjoy my soup and dessert, but I don't think I'll probably be back. The soup was one of the best I've had in a restaurant, but I've already tried it now, you know? Maybe we'll end up back someday though, because it is very close to CERN.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


This is one of my favorites, but I've never made it till now (it's currently in the oven). It's Greek spinach and feta pie.

1 package of phyllo dough
1 small onion
1/4 c parsley (fresh)
1/2 c dill (fresh)
.25 kg of fresh spinach
100 g feta cheese
2 small eggs
Salt to taste
Copious amounts of olive oil

For the filling: boil the spinach, drain, squeeze and chop. Mix in a bowl with: the parsley, dill and onion (all chopped), feta cheese (crumbled), salt, and eggs (beaten).

Pie: My packet was divided into two equal sections separated by paper (one section for the top, one for the bottom). I think there were about 5 sheets in each layer. Grease a pan (I used a cookie sheet with some depth) with olive oil, and put down a layer of dough. Brush that layer with olive oil. Continue until you've done 5-6 layers. Now spread the filling over the dough. Continue the same dough laying procedure (5-6 sheets interspaced with olive oil). Bake at 180 C (350 F) till golden brown on top.

Notes: It certainly was easy to make, the hardest part being handling the dough (not that hard). However, I think I did something wrong. I don't know what. The pie was quite tasty, but did not look quite right. All the top layers were very separated. I know with phyllo they're supposed to be kind of separated, but we're talking completely. I think there are a few things I will do differently next time:

1) Let the pie sit a while before baking, so that the top layers have a chance to come together more ... maybe pat the thing down a little, too.
2) Much, much more spinach filling (it is only a thin layer, I would like it to be a thick one). This was limited today by what I had around.
3) I will take a tip from Baklava recipes I've read and cut into individual pieces before baking
4) Probably bake at a slightly lower temperature next time.

But it was good taste-wise. Even the flaking off phyllo is tasty; it got all goldeny and crunchy, it's like really thin crackers.

It occurred to me that the phyllo sheets are practically perfect for samosas. They're just like what my grandmother used to use.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Red Cabbage Sauté

In case you couldn't tell from last post, kasha + fried eggs + veggie saute = fast, tasty and nutritious dinner. Reasonably cheap, too.

200 g red cabbage sauerkraut
2 t oil (any kind)
1 small onion
1 small apple
Salt to taste
A splash of apple cider vinegar if you want extra tart flavor

Warm the oil in a pan. Peel the onion and slice into demi-rings. Saute them until golden with hints of brown caramelization. Turn heat to low, add the apple, cut into matchsticks (peeled if you prefer), the cabbage, salt to taste and the optional vinegar. If your sauerkraut is not very wet, add a tablespoon or two of water to keep things from burning. Saute till apples and cabbage are warm.

Notes: Satisfying and tasty on a fall evening. Also, light and healthy.

Serving Suggestion: We had this with kasha (roasted buckwheat groats) and fried eggs. I think a dollop of sour cream or thick Greek style yogurt would have been good on the cabbage.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Extremely Fast Dinner

This was made (and I'm sorry to say) eaten in less than 45 minutes. Yeah, I eat too fast.

This fast and yummy dinner consists of kasha with fried eggs and cress saute.

1 package cress (I think mine was garden cress, 75 g package)
1 small onion
1 T olive oil
1 big clove garlic
1.5 cups kasha, rinsed well
Eggs (however many you want)

Kasha: rinse well, put in a pot with 1.5 cups of water. Add some salt (as you would for rice), bring to a boil. You should also add some butter, but I don't have any right now, so I added a little bit of olive oil and a gruyere cheese rind for flavor. Allow to boil (not vigorously) till all water is evaporated, then remove from heat, cover and let steam for at least 5 minutes. You can cook it longer for softer kasha, this will need a bit more water.

Saute: Warm oil in a pan. Add chopped onion and saute until golden-brown. Add garlic, saute a couple of minutes. Just before serving, add cress and cook till wilted down.

Eggs: Fry them how you like them. (For me, over medium or sunny side up).

Serving Suggestion: Good eaten kind of all mixed up. Also good with bufala mozzarella cheese on the side.