Pastry with young garlic, Chicken Cacciatore and Chocolate covered Physalis fruit

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I didn’t cook with “young garlic” often before moving to Switzerland, the main reason is that it was not easy to find. It has a slightly milder taste than regular garlic, and you only eat its leaves, either raw or cooked (in soups, salads, pesto or to spice dishes). Young garlic is available only in the spring, and it grows in woodlands, and in moist , shaded areas. When you walk in wooded areas here in Switzerland you get overwhelmed by the garlic scent filling the-air.

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In one of the recipes added it to a cheese pastry called Burek. Burek is made of filo, a paper-thin pastry commonly used in Turkey, but also popular in the Balkans and in Northern Africa. Filo is available in stores in the refrigerated pastry section. If you have access to Turkish stores you can buy it under name Yufka.

For the main course I prepared Chicken Cacciatore, and for dessert Physalis-fruit dipped in chocolate. Chicken Cacciatore is a light Italian chicken dish with tomato sauce: (you can also add to it mushrooms or peppers and serve it with either rice or paste. Physalis is a small orange fruit with a slightly acidic taste, it is delicious when paired with chocolate: it helps bring a light-end to the meal. If Physalis is not available you can use other fruits such as: strawberries, banana or pineapple.

 

Pastry with young garlic and feta

serves 4

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  • 6 sheets of filo pastry (yufka)
  • 140g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4 tablespoons creme fresh
  • 2 tablespoons young garlic, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda )
  • oil for brushing

 

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Lightly oil, and then line cake tin (about 15cm – 5.1/2 in wide ) with baking paper.

In a small bowl mix feta cheese, creme fresh, egg, baking soda, and half of the young garlic.

Remove 6 filo sheets, filo dries quickly so you have to cover them with a kitchen towel. Moisten other kitchen towel and put over first one.

Place one sheet of filo on work surface, then brush with oil.

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Place other sheet on top and brush with oil again.

Spoon about 5 tablespoons of filling toward one end, leaving sides clear.

Fold sides in, then fold end of pastry over filling.

Keep rolling up.

Roll sheets into tube and tuck sides underneath.

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Place into cake tin seam – side down.

Repeat with other four sheets. You will have three tubes filing the cake tin.

Brush with the oil and sprinkle with the rest of chopped young garlic.

Place in the middle shelf and bake for about 30-35 minute, or until golden brown.

Let it stand in a tin for about 5 minute, then take out of the tin and let it cool.

 

 

Chicken Cacciatore

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serves 4

  • 8 chicken tights (or 4 drumsticks and 4 tights)
  • 2 cans (400g each) of peeled tomatoes, diced and juices saved
  • 100g mushrooms (preferably different varieties), chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • one small carrot finely chopped
  • 2 gloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 spring of fresh thyme
  • 1 spring of fresh oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pepper
  • four tablespoons of oil
  • 140ml / 1/2 cup white wine
  • 80ml / 1/3 cup chicken stock

 

Heat one and a half tablespoon of oil in a small pan. Add chopped onion and carrot and saute on a low heat for 15-20 minute, or until soft, but not browned.

Add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the mushroom and cook for extra five minutes.

Until the onion is cooked, brown the meat. In a large casserole dish heat one tablespoon of oil. Dust each piece of chicken with salt and pepper and brown (skin side only) on medium-high heat. Browning helps to enhance the flavor of meat. Don’t overcrowd pieces. Brown in batches.

Tip-of all the fat, and then return all chicken peace’s to casserole.

Pour over onion-mushroom mixture. Add wine, chicken stock then thyme, oregano and salt.

Add chopped tomatoes with their juice. Cover casserole with the lid, bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low simmer and cook about 45 minutes, or until chicken is completely cooked ( when testing a piece of chicken the juices should run clear).

Discard the thyme and oregano springs. Lift out chicken pieces and keep warm. Bring the sauce to boil and cook until reduced, and gets thicker.

Adjust seasoning if necessary. Arrange chicken peaces on a plate and spoon sauce over. You can serve with rice or pasta, or a slice of crunchy bread.

 

 

Chocolate dipped Physalis fruit

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serves 4

  • 20 Physalis fruit
  • 100g dark chocolate, finally chopped

 

Lift dry leafs and wash the fruit. Let them dry.

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.

Stir occasionally until chocolate melts completely. Remove from heat.

Dip each fruit into the chocolate, let the excess drip. Place them on baking paper, and let them sit at room temperature.

 

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Healthy – light lunch with stuffed zucchini flowers, salmon, and yogurt panna cotta

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Zucchini flowers appeared in stores last mounth. I wish that certain foods were available all year round, and they are one of them. Unfortunately, they are only available for a short period of time, so I try to eat them often and prepare them different ways.

For this menu I stuffed zucchini flowers with ricotta cheese and little bit of toasted pine nuts. You can also dip them in flour and egg and deep-fry, or chop them, saute with onions and use in quesadillas. I think they are a great appetizer or snack.

The flowers are very delicate so you have to work carefully. Most of the time they come squeezed in a plastic package so you need a little patience when handling them.

For the main course I made salmon en-papilotte (baked in parchment paper) with layers of vegetables, and for a dessert, a light and easy to make yogurt panna cotta. I placed the panna cotta into a half-sphere metal moulds, but you can use any moulds you want.

Staffed zucchini flowers

serves 4

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  • 8 zucchini/courgette flowers
  •  140g ricotta cheese/ about 8 tablespoons
  • one teaspoon toasted pine nuts
  • two lemons
  • 2 eggs, separated
  •  1/4 cup – 30g, flour
  • salt
  • oil for frying

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In a small skillet lightly toast pie nuts.

Mix ricotta until soft. Add toasted pine nuts and salt to taste.

Squeeze little bit of lemon juice.

Fill the piping bag with a mixture.

Remove the  green leafy bits from the base of the flower (sepals).

Rinse quickly and shake the excess water.

Carefully separate the leafs and using piping bag fill each flower with about a tablespoon of ricotta mixture.

Close leafs and lightly twist so that ricotta doesn’t come out when frying.

Heat two tablespoons of oil.

Beat the egg whites until stiff.

Gradually add yolks to egg whites beating all the time.

Dust each stuffed zucchini flower with the flour, then dip in beaten egg mixture.

Carefully lower each flower into the hot oil.

Reduce the heat and fry about one minute per side or until golden.

Drain on paper towels.

Divide courgette flowers between plates and serve immediately with a slice of lemon.

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Salmon en papilote with potato, mushrooms and spinach

Serves 4

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  • 500g salmon fillet, pinboned and skinned, cut in four even slices
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 120g spinach, cleaned and cut the stalks
  • 200g mushrooms, lightly cleaned with wet kitchen towel and cut into slices
  • lemon, slices
  • oil for frying
  • salt

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Pre-heat the oven to 180C /350F.

Put the potato slices in a bowl. Cover them in oil and season. Mix well.

Spread potato on lightly oiled roasting tin, then put in the oven and roast until golden, about 25 minutes.

Keep them warm.

Adjust the oven to 220C /425F.

Cut out 4 heart shapes from greaseproof  paper, big enough to enclose the fish plus a border.

Place the fish on one side of each paper heart, lightly oil and season. Place on top slices of lemon.

Fold the other half of the paper over the top, and pleat the edges tightly to seal, twisting the end.

Put on the baking sheet and place in the oven on medium shelf for 10 minutes.

In a mean time prepare the spinach and mushrooms.

In a small pot heat one and a half tablespoon of oil.

Add the mushrooms, reduce a heat and cook for about 5-10 minutes, until soft.

In a big skillet heat little bit of batter then saute the spinach. Squeeze before serving.

Place a pastry cutter (or a mould) about 71/2 cm wide and 3cm height.

Firs place the layer of potatoes in the cutter, then layer of mushrooms. Add some of the spinach and finish with piece of salmon.

Repeat with the rest.

Panna cotta with berries sauce

serves 4

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  •  175ml / 3/4 cup whipping cream or double cream
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 3 tablespoon of granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 (3g) sheet of gelatin
  • 250g / 1 cup full fat yogurt
  • 250g / 2 cups berries
  • 85 g  granulated sugar / 1/3 cup
  • 80ml sweet wine / 1/3 cup

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Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and with a knife scrape the seeds.

Place the cream, vanilla bean and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to scalding point (when cream starts to steam and when small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan over low heat).

Remove the pot from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes for flavors to infuse.

Soak the gelatin leaves in cold water for five minutes, until they have softened.

Sieve the cream mixture then add the softened gelatin and mix until completely dissolved.

Pour in the yogurt and mix well.

Divide the mixture into the metal half-sphere moulds.

Put into the refrigerator overnight.

To prepare the sauce put the berries, sugar and wine in a small pan.

Simmer gently, stirring carefully until the sugar dissolves and fruit softens, for about 10-15 minutes.

Cool.

To unmould the panna cotta dip the mould in hot water. Put them gently onto individual plates, and serve with the sauce.

Chestnut truffles

Last week little stands with roasted chestnuts appeared on streets of Switzerland; it’s a symbol fall has arrived. Chestnuts are a great snack, they warm you up in a cold day and are very feeling. They are also delicious, it doesn’t matter if you prepare them sweet or savory.

This year I plan to roast them at home; it will be wonderful to have the smell of roasted chestnuts fill my home.

These rum-filled  truffles are not only delicious with a cup of coffee or tea, but they are also fun to make!

They are coated in cocoa powder, but you can also coat them with finely crushed walnuts or dust them with icing sugar.

makes about 15

  • 200g chestnut puree
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 140ml double cream
  • 120g chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons walnuts, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cocoa powder, for coating

Put the rum into chestnut puree. Mix. Add walnuts and mix well.

Roll mixture gently in your hands into small balls approximately 1.5cm / 1in. Put into refrigerator until making a chocolate cover.

Place the finely chopped chocolate into a heatproof bowl.

Bring cream to boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and slowly pour on the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted. Add vanilla extract.

Put a baking sheet or a paper under a small wire rack.

Using two forks dip each ball into the chocolate to coat ensuring it is evenly coated.

Put on a tray and allow the excess of chocolate to drip, or you can put them directly on a baking paper.

Let the chocolate set in a cool place. Refrigerate until firm.

Put the cocoa powder in a shallow bowl.

Roll the ball in the cocoa. Place in a small paper case. Store in a sealed container.

Pumpkin dessert

Walking in front of a small Swiss farm and seeing such a pretty display of pumpkins I couldn’t resist buying one and preparing something sweet with it.

In the Middle East there are many versions of candied pumpkin desserts, the one below is a delicious Turkish recipe and it is very easy to make. If you are a fan of pumpkins this can be a great substitute for pumpkin pie.

The pumpkin is slowly cooked in sugar syrup and you can increase the level of sweetness by thickening syrup for a sweeter version. Vanilla, walnuts, pecans, or cardamom are all great compliments to pumpkin.

The only labor involved in this recipe is to cut the pumpkin into squares. Many supermarkets sell packages with pre-cut squares.

4 servings

  • 500g pumpkin flesh cut into squares 1-2cm – 1/2in
  • 250g sugar  1 cup
  • 250g water  1cup
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

Cut the pumpkin into squares.

Place the squares into a wide dish and sprinkle with sugar. Let it stand for 3-4 hours until the sugar dissolves or leave it overnight.

Put the pumpkin squares and dissolved sugar in a pot, then add water.

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until tender.

Take the squares out of the pot and cool at room temperature.

Put the remaining syrup on gentle boil for 10 minutes, or until thickens. Cool.

Sprinkle walnuts over pumpkin.

Serve dessert in small dishes with reduced syrup on the side.