Category Archives: Baking

Piadina

Piadina (plural Piadine) is an Italian speciality that I love very much. We are lucky enough to have a Piadina Bar in town where you can buy freshly made Piadine. Unfortunately, they are quite pricey.

Imagine how thrilled I was when our local grocery store started to carry raw Piadina! Now, Piadina is a baked good, made from wheat flour, rolled out very thin and then baked with no fat on a hot plate or in a wide flat pan. In fact, if you’d like to try this and can’t get your hand on Piadine you can substitute them easily with flour tortillas. Tortillas are similar enough to work with. 

The beauty of Piadine is that they can be prepared to individual taste and varied endlessly. (I like that!) Here’s how I usually prepare them.

 

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Warm Focaccia Sandwiches

Focaccia is awesome. Either to enjoy it fresh out of the oven with no fuzz or prepared like here as warm sandwiches. Believe me – it’s totally worth to go through the trouble of preparation because these warm sandwiches are divine!

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about Focaccia, in case you do not know what it is:

“Focaccia (Italian pronunciation: [foˈkattʃa]) is a flat oven-baked Italian bread,[1] which may be topped with herbs or other ingredients. It is similar in style and texture to pizza, but not considered to be the same.”

There are many variants out there. I found a simple one at the store that was topped with herbs. In case you can’t get your hands on Focaccia, this recipe works just as fine with simple toast. And you know me – I love recipes that may be varied. 🙂 Same here, take this as an idea as to how to prepare your next sandwich, but experiment with toppings you like or happen to have at home.

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Chocolaty Peach Cheesecake

It was my Birthday a couple of weeks ago and I always use that as an excuse to indulge in my favourite cake: Chocolate Peach Cheesecake! I love cheesecake. I indulge very very seldom in it. It’s not very common in Switzerland and if I want some, I have to make it myself or go buy an exorbitantly expensive piece at Starbucks. I got the original recipe from the Philadelphia Cream Cheese Website a couple of years ago but amended the recipe a bit.

You may have noticed in a lot of my pictures that there are often products with a green-white design. These are low-budget products. While I’m luckily not on an extremely tight budget anymore as I was half a year ago, I still believe in buying cost consciously. While I do spend a bit more on better quality and local fresh produce, there are things where I don’t see why I should spend more. Especially if the low budget cream cheese tastes just as good as the expensive one with a brand name.

Anywhoooo, here come the ingredients:

  • 250g sponge biscuits or ladyfingers or as we call them “Löffelbiskuit”
  • 50g butter
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 600g plain cream cheese
  • 100g sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cans peaches (drained about 800g fruit, but save 2 tbsp of the juice)

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Vanilla-Lemon Lemonade

Today I’ll only share a recipe that I’ve found on another blog. It’s a Swiss Foodblog  run by the writers of a popular cooking magazine. The Blog is called Das Trüffelschwein, roughly translated it means The Truffle Pig. 🙂

In any case, pictures are from the above mentioned Blog, recipe translated for your benefit by me. (and commented, too). Also, here you may find the link to the original recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 3 organic lemons
  • 1 Vanilla Bean
  • 80g sugar
  • 1 litre sparkling water (I used 1,5 litres)
  • ice cubes (optional)

Thinly peel the zest off the lemons. Squeeze the juice from all three lemons. Cut the vanilla pod lenghthwise and scrape out the insides. Place everything in a large pitcher or bowl and mix in the sugar. Add the sparkling water, stir, cover with foil and let sit in the fridge for about one hour.

Pour through a fine sieve and serve with ice.

They also advice that this works with oranges, too, and that one should not place the drink in a bottle, because the bottle may explode because of fermentation. Well, since I drink it right away anyways, I did place it in one of my trusty PET bottles. But I guess you shouldn’t let it stand for too long. There, I gave the warning. 🙂

This drink is my absolute new favourite. The Vanilla gives it just a bit of decadence and the combination with the lemons works beautifully.

Besides… After preparing the drink my hands smelled like vanilla and lemons for a whole day and that’s a real nice perfume! 🙂

 

 

Italian Style Bread Salad

When it comes to cooking, I’m the queen of improvisation. Often the boyfriend looks at me with big, hungry, sad puppy eyes and says that there’s nothing left in the fridge. That’s when I work some magic and prepare a yummy dish with whatever is at hand.

You know how it is – often you end up with a last bit of bread during the week that is not yet bad, but a bit stale. I hate to throw away good bread. 

Here’s an idea what I do with that last bit of hard bread – Italian Style Bread Salad! It’s a great dish to use up all sorts of leftovers and it can be varied endlessly.

 

Ingredients:

  • Some leftover bread, cut in bite-sized cubes
  • Fresh tomatoes of any kind
  • Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt, pepper, fresh or dried herbs

Additional optional ingredients:

  • Bacon cubes
  • Onions
  • Spring onions
  • sundried tomatoes
  • feta cheese or mozzarella
  • cucumber
  • rucola
  • pesto
  • Crema di Balsamico 

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Öpfel-Biire-Waihe

In Switzerland, we love Waihe or – as it’s also called – Wähe. The closest thing to translating would probably be Gateaux aux fruits or Fruit Tarte. Only – it doesn’t only come in the sweet variation, there are also savory kinds. 

Today I’ll present the sweet kind with apples and pears. Swiss people love to eat Waihe as a main dish, for lunch or dinner or even breakfast. You can buy pre-packaged slices in almost every grocery store or bakery. It’s relatively cheap and great to use up those not-so-fresh apples or other fruit. My mom would make Waihe a lot during summer as a light dinner and my grandma always brought me some when I was sick. My personal favourite is the one with apricots or plums. However, I’ll show you the one with apples and some pears today, since I had those at home and they needed to be eaten. 🙂

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Spinach-Feta-Pie with Cucumber-Tomato Salad

I’ve seen a couple of Jamie Oliver shows lately and I love his ideas. I was especially impressed by his 30-Minute-Meals. So I gave in and ordered the book Jamies 30 Minute Meals. While I knew from the beginning that I won´t be able to cook the meals just as he describes them, the recipes sure give me inspiration and I adapt them to the possibilities of my kitchen and my skills.

So here comes a freely adapted recipe for Spinach-Feta-Pie:

Ingredients:

  • 100 g Pine Nuts
  • 5 eggs
  • 300 g Feta Cheese
  • 50 g Cheddar (or a similar cheese)
  • dried Oregano
  • 1 lemon
  • 400-500 g fresh leaf spinach
  • 1-2 onions, diced
  • some butter
  • 1 rolled out puff pastry
  • cayenne pepper, nutmeg

Roast the Pine Nuts with no fat in a pan until they are golden brown. Beware – they burn quite fast all of a sudden if you don’t pay attention.

Beat the eggs in a bowl, crumble the feta in and grate the Cheddar in. (we hardly get Cheddar around here, so I used Gruyère – but basically any cheese will do). Add a dash of cayenne pepper, dried oregano (not too sparsely) and grated lemon zest. Add the pine nuts and stir everything together.

Wash the spinach and dry it. Add butter to the pan, wait until melted, then add the diced onions and fry until transparent. (Note: I love cooking with onions, but you can choose to leave them out of the dish if you want to. It´ll work without, too.) Add some of the spinach until it collapses, then add the next part etc. until all the spinach is in the pan. Stir regularily until it’s done. It never ceases to amaze me that this huge bag of leaf spinach ends up to be just a handful after being cooked. Drain any excess liquid, then add the spinach to the egg-feta mixture. Grate about half a nutmeg into the mix, add some pepper and mix well.

As you can see in the picture above, I used a round baking tray. And a squarely rolled out dough. 🙂 It doesn´t really matter, use whatever baking tray you have at hand and put the rolled out puff pastry in there. Sprinkle with a bit of cayenne pepper. Add the mix and spread evenly onto the dough. I folded any excess dough there was over the mixture.

See, I usually don´t go for pretty, but tasty. 😀

Bake in pre-heated oven at 200° C for approx. 20-30 minutes. You’ll have to check, depending on your oven, it may take a bit longer. You want the filling to be firm and the dough to be golden brown.

I made some cucumber-cherry-tomato salad to go with it. For the sauce, I mixed  some fresh garlic, lemon juice, approx. 1/2 fresh chili, olive oil, mixed salad herbs and a bit of salt together. When it comes to salad sauces, I usually throw together what I have at hand, taste and adjust. Oh, and there was some left-over mozzarella cut in the salad, too.

In any case – the Pie was really good and I will most definitely make it again. Even my boyfriend who was not fond of Feta up until then really loved it. 

Enjoy!

Weekend Munchies – Ham in spiced bread

I got this recipe out of a Newspaper last year. It’s a variation of a classical Swiss holiday dish. We love it so much though, that every now and then T. and I prepare it no matter what season it is. Besides, it feeds us at least two days. 🙂

This is what it looks like in the end, just to give you an idea.

Ingredients for the bread:

  • 750 g whole wheat flour or mixed half-and-half with all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp gingerbread spice (2 works, too, depending on how intense you like the spice flavour)
  • 30 g yeast (I use 1 1/2 packets of dried yeast)
  • 2 tbsp liquid honey
  • approx. 500 ml water, lukewarm

Personally, I simply dump all the ingredients for the dough into my breadbaking machine, choose the program for dough and let the machine do all the work. Have I mentioned lately how much I love my breadmaker?

Of course you can prepare the dough the traditional way, combine all the ingredients and knead until you have a soft, even dough and let it rest for about one hour.

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 75 g bacon cubes
  • 2 onions, finely cubed
  • 2 apples, in rough pieces
  • 3 tbsp white wine or alternatively veggie broth
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 pre-cooked, vacuumed ham or a similar piece of pre-cooked, maybe lightly smoked meat

Roast the bacon, onions and apples in a pan. Add the wine or broth and let it simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste. It’s done when all the liquid has evaporated. Turn off the heat and set aside.

That was the easy part. Now, for the tricky part, that’s what T. always has to do – he’s a baker, so he really knows how to handle dough. 😉 Roll out the dough, approx. like in the picture below. It should not be rolled out too thin. Remember, you wrap a lot of filling and meat in there!

Then, add the filling and the ham like that:

Then pull the dough over the ham carefully, like you would wrap a present. Press the edges together and then put it upside down on a baking sheet. Carefully add some cuts (not too deep!) to the dough.

Put in the pre-heated oven (200° Celsius) for approx. 50 minutes. Depending on your oven you need to give it a couple of more minutes until it’s done, but it’s safe to check after 50 minutes.

Carefully cut off the top for serving and then slice the ham and the bread. This can be served together with salad, but we usually eat it just like that and add only a bit of mustard to the ham.  

It tastes great warm and cold and usually we munch on it the next day in front of our computers when we’re playing WoW.

True, this dish takes some time to prepare, but it’s absolutely worth it.  The juices from the Ham and the filling seep into the bread and give it a unique and fantastic flavour.

Besides – as mentioned before, it feeds us a long time. 😉