recipes

Warmth

Autumn arrives with eagerness here in Switzerland. It's mid-October and the mountains are already capped with snow, visible on a rare clear autumn day. Our first of the season colds have set in already and I've un-earthed my hibernating knitting projects.

My life with tea has always been abundant and favorable to the everyday coffee. Listening to the needs of my body first thing in the morning and for the mid-day pick up. How well did my child sleep? Am I still bloated from yet another fondue dinner? How quickly do I have to run out the door?

Here are a few of my most gratifying, replace-the-cafe-latte, tea recipes to steep on. Enjoy the warmth.

 

Masala Chai

A love affair ever deepening since my time in India 5 years ago. This recipe is so unlike the cinnamon ladden, sugar syrup you get with frothy milk at your local Starbucks. It's deep with cardamom (my favorite spice) and only as sweet as you like. I prefer mine spicy, to add warmth and digestive fire to my day, therefore you can be as generous as you like with the ginger- 4 or 5 slices, and even toss one or two back in after straining and blend to incorporate. Plus, blending it will add froth to your Masala Chai Latte. 

serves 2

  • 3/4 c water
  • 2-4 green cardamom pods, smashed
  • 5 whole black pepper
  • 1-2 this slices of ginger
  • 1 one inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 piece of star anise
  • 3/4 c milk (or milk alternative)
  • 1 1/2 t  strong loose-leaf black tea
  • sweetener of choice- honey, cane sugar, jaggery, xylitol, etc

Add water, cardamom pods, black pepper, cinnamon stick and star anise to a small pot. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and cover. Leave overnight.

In the morning, add ginger and bring back to a boil, reduce to simmer. Add milk and tea. Simmer for 1 more minute then turn off heat and steep for 2 minutes.

Strain and add sweeteners. 

GOLDEN MILK -Turmeric tea

 

Benefits of turmeric: Turmeric is especially known for its benefits to digestion, immune function, reducing inflammation, liver health and even possible protection from cancer. Turmeric is one of the foods with the highest antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. When you mix turmeric with black pepper, you increase your body's absorption significantly. I especially love this recipe without cows milk as I like to give my body a break from dairy now and again (it is hard to do during fondue season in Switzerland, mind you...) Cashew milk has recently been my go-to as I have not found the coconut milk brand that I LOVE here yet, but in California, I navigated to the coconut version often. This is a great one to drink before bed as well. I think it has done wonders for my toddler's sleep patterns (extra honey and cinnamon added, of course)

  • 1 cup of coconut milk plus 1 cup of coconut water
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric 
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon 
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey or maple syrup or to taste
  • Pinch of black pepper (increases absorption)
  • 1 inch piece of fresh, peeled ginger root or ¼ tsp ginger powder
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

Instructions

  1. Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth.
  2. Pour into a small sauce pan and heat for 3-5 minutes over medium heat until hot but not boiling.
  3. Drink immediately

recipe made with fresh turmeric:

  • 1 1-inch knob fresh turmeric
  • 1 1/2-inch knob fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ghee 
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup coconut water, or water
  • 1 tablespoon manuka honey, or other raw honey

Instructions

  1. Peel both the turmeric and ginger, then grate them finely into a mortar and pestle. Spoon the ghee into the mortar and grind the ghee into the turmeric and ginger with your pestle until they form a fine paste.
  2. Pour the coconut milk and coconut water into a saucepan, and spoon in the paste made with turmeric, ginger and ghee. Turn the heat up to medium-high and warm the ingredients together until little bubbles just begin to creep up the sides of the pot. Turn off the heat and cover the saucepan, allowing the turmeric and ginger to steep about 3 minutes. Strain the golden milk through a fine-mesh strainer or tea strainer into a tea pot. Stir in the Manuka honey and continue stirring until it dissolves. Serve warm.

Notes

Golden Milk is traditionally made with cow's milk. If you wish to omit the coconut milk and coconut water, simply substitute 2 cups whole milk. Or another way I love it is with fresh cashew milk.

 

MATCHA LATTE

This creamy, dreamy, green wonder caught my attention when I was a teen. Mind you it was the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (CA coffee chain) version, blended, heavily sweetened, and topped with whipped cream. But still introducing me to the desirable, earthy undertones of green tea. More often than not, this is my go-to replacement for the cafe-latte days of my past (coffee has never felt the same in my body since my pregnancy 3 years ago.) This is my 3 pm pick-me-up or Sunday morning brunch tea. Most other mornings I gravitate towards pure sencha for a clear mind and a little boost. It is important to remember that all green teas turn bitter if over-steeped or made too hot. It is a tea to be mindful and delicate with, in turn, it will provide the same for you.

  • 3/4 c cows milk, almond milk, soy milk or coconut milk
  • 1 tsp matcha powder

Heat your milk choice gently on the stove, not boiling. I use a hand held milk frother. Spoon out approximately 2 T of hot milk into a small bowl with the matcha powder. Whisk vigorously with a bamboo whisk until frothy and slightly lighter in color. It is better to use bamboo when working with green tea and not metal, but if you are without a bamboo whisk, then you may. Froth or whisk the left over warm milk

 

Enjoy and stay warm everyone. -Ash

Apricot

"Aprikosen, 7 Juni". -The sign read for over a week.

It's funny how even a word written in a language not your own can still strike a strong cord of an almost edible nostalgia. Have you ever tried a Blenheim apricot? It leaves it's mark.

Stone fruits are a pretty big deal here in Switzerland. Year round, perfectly firm, tart and ripe plums and apricots are sold in the frozen department of the general supermarket for your mid-winter kuchen (cake) cravings. And not a single block of old, over-frozen, post season fruit barely suitable for the occasional smoothie, like I once found in the states. I'm talking about ruby-skinned, perfectly cut in half at their peak, and flash frozen for ease of cake baking. But when they are ripe and ready here, people don't hold back, and they are sold in no less quantity than over 2 kilos.

I was there at apricot man's stand on the 7th of June, ready for my bunddle. 2.5 kilos for 19 francs. That afternoon, my sous chef and I went to work. 

Apricot jam is a no brainer as I think it profiles the golden globes best. Tart and not too sweet. A PB&J is almost exclusively sworn to the raspberry, and a summer pie seems to always be peach territory. I prefer my apricots in a jam for my morning toast with my tea, and in a rustic french-style gallette with ground bitter almonds (apricot kernels). Of which I am currently cracking open and drying out the lot from the leftover 2.5 kilos of fruit. More on that process later.

The apricot jam recipe I love and have put into practice for years is this one by David Lebovitz. This time I added ground cardamom to the mix, because it's great friends with the apricot.

Here is my variation on his recipe:

Apricot Jam with Cardamom

Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz. Yeild 3-4 jars

  • 2 1/4 pounds (1kg) fresh apricots
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) water
  • 3 cups (600g) sugar
  • 1/2 t fresh ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • optional: 1 teaspoon kirsch

1. Cut the apricots in half and extract the pits. If you wish, crack a few open and put a kernel in each jam jar you plan to fill. I highly recommend this as it gives the jam a slightly bitter almond flavor (think marzipan).

2. Place the apricots in a stockpot or Dutch oven, and add the water. Cover the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until the apricots are tender and cooked through.

3. Put a small plate in the freezer.

4. Add the sugar to the apricots and cook, uncovered, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. As the mixture thickens and reduces, stir frequently to make sure the jam isn’t burning on the bottom.

5. When the jam looks thick and is looks slightly-jelled, turn off the heat and put a small amount of jam on the chilled plate. Put back in the freezer for a few minutes, then do the nudge test: If the jam mounds and wrinkles, it’s done. If not, continue to cook, then re-test the jam until it reaches that consistency.

(You can use a candy thermometer if you wish. The finished jam will be about 220ºF, 104ºC.)

6. Once done, stir in the lemon juice and kirsch, if using, and ladle the jam into clean jars. Cover tightly and let cool to room temperature. Once cool, refrigerate until ready to use.

Storage: I find this jam will keep up to one year if refrigerated. If you wish to can it for long-term preservation, you can refer to the USDA Canning Guidelines for techniques.

I also made a version of my Everyday Cake with apricot, sour cream, and spelt flour. A recipe I am still developing in it's variations and will post when I am ready. Now it's just a teaser to help insist that you put apricots in every baked good from now until August. Your welcome. 

 

-Ash

Green Grün - Muffins -

"bear-geh", in Swiss German"

"ber-gen, in High German"

My father in law patiently explains to me the difference in pronunciation of the word Berg (meaning mountain). I tend to roll my R's too Spanish-like, and I silence my ending vowels too French-like. I am a bit of a mess in learning the ropes and etiquette of Swiss German, all the while enrolled in a Babbel online course of High German. After 4 years of high school french, 8 years of travel to and living in Spain or Latin America, Learning Arabic and Italian for work, and spending loads of time in SE Asia. I end up marrying a Swiss man, and moving to Switzerland. Where I need to speak not only German, but the slightly more rolling, jumpy, and throaty neighbor- Schwiizerdütsch. 

Integration into a new language in a new land is always overwhelming at first, but it will get better. It always does. The saving grace to my constant frustration in language blending is that my 2 year old is fearless in her new language. Yes, she has heard it since birth from her father, but there is a courage that I see in her as she pushes through and attempts her words with family and strangers that I admire so.  

I would not say that I am "good" at learning languages. In fact, I'm terrible and lazy. Plus since I am on the move a lot, I have a much harder time to transition back and forth. Or maybe thats just a good excuse, no? dang.

Here are a few tips I TRY to keep with while adapting to new languages and picking up the ropes:

Rule of 3: I give myself the challenge of new 3 words or rules per day. This is a trick I picked up when I moved to Spain in my early 20's. I thought my Mexican kitchen Spanish could pull me through. But alas, I was completely unprepared for spain. 3 new random words or rules or phrases per day and repeat them as much as possible. 

Repeat, repeat, repeat: Whatever it is that you know and feel comfortable saying. Say it out loud and over and over again. In public or alone. Just keep repeating what you know.

Take a course: Even online, even if it's just 10 minutes a day or 10 minutes a week. Make progress and show others that you are trying to break through and become more confident in speaking their language.

Write it and read it: I need to see the word and even write it down a few times for it to log properly in my language memory bank. The image of the word arrives in my brain before I speak it. If I don't ever see the word written (and know that Swiss german is not a written language... save me) then I've noticed how much harder it is for me to remember the pronunciation.

Accept the challenge: Allow others to challenge you by not speaking your native language all the time when you know they can. 

Talk to small children: My 3 year old nephew has taught me more than any book so far. His language is slow, without slang, simple, and often does that adorable toddler-sentence-repeat-thing. This is golden for me.

*Side tip for saddling up your language skills before a trip- If it's just a vacation or quick trip your embarking on, then it's always good and polite to have a few language tricks up your sleeve. My rule of thumb is to always know and feel skilled with pronouncing a few basics. 

Hello. How are you? Thank you. Your welcome.

Thank you very much - great for when you want to show someone that you are not just on autopilot with your gesture of gratitude.

I'm sorry/Pardon me. How much?

This. That. Here. Yes. No -These are really all you need to know when buying food or goods at a market stall. I use these a lot.

Beautiful/Cute - as a compliment for someones child, a helpful stranger's gorgeous purse, or the cute guy at the coffee shop. All are needed, am I right?

And heres a recipe for green banana muffins that my toddler is devouring these days which gives me immense joy to see something green entering her body when normally all she will eat is bratwurst and fresh bread.... But who can blame her when Switzerland can basically turn any Atkins dieter into a bread believer. I mean.... brot gläubiger.

Banana Spinach Muffins, that just so happen to be vegan

Note that you can use all purpose flour instead of spelt, or even half all purpose and half whole wheat flour. You can also replace the almond milk for any variation descending from animal or nut. I am a strong believer in topping all cakes with a crumb topping, but feel free to omit. You'll regret it. Enjoy!

  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup almond milk (or other)
  • 1 (6 ounce) bag fresh baby spinach
  • 2 mashed banana
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Crumb Topping. Mix all together and hold in the fridge until ready.

  • 1/3 cup turbinado sugar (or brown)
  • 1/4 cup spelt flour
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 2 T melted coconut oil (or butter!)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl: flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a blender, place oil, milk, and spinach. Blend on high for about 30 seconds or until completely puréed. Add banana and vanilla; blend on low just to mix.
  4. Pour puréed mixture into dry mixture and fold together with a rubber spatula until completely combined.
  5. Fill muffin cups about ⅔ full, top with about 1 T worth of crumble per muffin and bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

love from a very green Switzerland. 

White Asparagus Frittata

White Asparagus fritata with arugula salad

Whether you consider breakfast for dinner better than, well, breakfast for breakfast, like I do most days. Then Frittata is or must be a regular in your eggs-for-everything  line up.  I like mine thin, as opposed to the frittata's beefier cousin, the Tortilla Español. The frittata is quick, lite, and versatile as a blank slate for any season. For it's simplicity, it has a way of still impressing your friends at a picnic, brunch or last minute dinner party.  

Right now the white and green asparagus are impressing the pants off me here in Switzerland. My experience with white asparagus in the past was never this tender and flavorful, or the season seemingly this long. Spring here has made the transition from an agricultural abundant California life very easy to digest, as the spring farm stands have my husband pulling the car over every 20 minutes on a drive out of the village. All payments with the honor system, I'd like to add. It is enriching to see small acts of silent trust in the world again.

A Spring Picnic

After a morning of farm stand hopping and a copious dose of much needed Swiss sunshine, we came home for a picnic in the backyard. A quick white asparagus frittata, topped with spicy arugula salad and shaved pecorino was exactly what we needed. On the side, we finished up the Austrian wild deer salami I brought back from being in Vienna for work. That and the sourdough I found which had a 36 hour ferment from an ancient sourdough starter (insert heart eyes) and a hefty chunk of Gruyere.

White Asparagus Frittata

note: Do know that I leave room for intuitive instruction and amounts in my recipes. A place to play and feel for your food and not to be stuck with an exact process that will make or break it. Freely change out the vegetables for others of your choice; zucchini, broccoli, spinach, bell pepper, etc.

serves 2.5

  • 5 eggs, whisked
  • 6 medium or small white asparagus, not the double-wide ones
  • 2 spring onions, or 1 med shallot, chopped
  • 1/2 red chili, seeded or not, finely chopped
  • 4 T olive oil, separated
  • plenty of salt and pepper
  • 2 handfuls of arugula
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 T red wine vinegar, or vinegar of your choice
  • pecorino or parmesan, amount to your liking, shaved

Peel the stems of the white asparagus if need be (if young and small, I don't peel). Slice at an angle 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. You can really slice how ever you like, this cut is always more instinctual for me. Heat up 2 T olive oil in an 8"  nonstick skillet. Your welcome to use a smaller sized pan, just note that your frittata will be thicker and will need to be flipped and cooked longer.

Add your asparagus, spring onion and red chile to the hot oil and turn down the heat to medium. Stir to take the raw edge off the vegetables, then distribute the mixed veg around the pan. Pour the whisked eggs over the vegetables, season with salt and pepper and turn the heat down a bit more to med-low and cover with a lid.

While the frittata cooks, add the vinegar, remaining oil and some salt and pepper to the bottom of a medium bowl and whisk to combine.  add sliced cherry tomatoes, arugula and shaved pecorino (i use a vegetable peeler) to the bowl and toss to combine. 

After about 7 or 8 minutes, check the frittata. It should be cooked on the top just by the steam and golden on the bottom. Loosen up the sides with a spatula, and shake the pan to to be sure the whole frittata is detached from the pan.  Place a cutting board or round platter over the pan ann with your right hand (if your right handed, that is) flat on the bottom of the board, and the left hand on the handle of the pan. With one swift motion, FLIP the frittata onto the board. I like to cut the frittata into portions next, before adding the salad. Top the round frittata with your salad and a few extra shavings of pecorino, maybe an extra sprinkle of salt (I like Maldon finishing salt).

Enjoy your picnics before the spring rain comes!

-Ash