Fior’ di Panna..isi-style

Vanilla-Lavender Ice Cream

250ml milk
250ml cream
3 tbl spoons dried lavender flowers
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
50g sugar

In a pan, slowly heat all of the above ingredients including the vanilla pod, stirring occasionally. As soon as you see bubbles on the edge, remove from the heat and set aside 20 mins, then place the pan in the fridge until the mixture has completely cooled off. Then remove the vanilla bean and the lavender. Follow instructions of your ice maker now. Mine needs a cooled pot, then I let the machine stir the mixture until it starts turning into ice cream, approx. 45 mins.
Very simple recipe, very different taste. If you do not have an ice maker, put the mixture in the fridge, stirring it every 30 minutes until the texture is creamy and frozen.
I don’t use eggs in this recipe on purpose, call me overcautious…but the difference in taste is minimal.

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Dockside Crane…Zurich’s understanding of “art”

There were endless discussions about the crane, spend tax money for a piece of rusty metal and call it art? Or rather spend it differently? Or not at all? There was a vote, more endless discussions and finally, the crane was installed.

You like it or not, there is no way you can argue over art and taste. If you happen to be in Zurich, go judge for yourself;-)

We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies. ~Pablo Picasso

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Easter Goodies…Lemon, Lavender, Yogurt

 

Facebook-Likers,  this one’s for you:
The Easter Goodies are not based on any recipe, they are my invention. The recipe is for a pan that holds 12 small muffins or gugelhupfs. The idea is to bake small cakes which you can serve with coffee and/or ice cream. They are done in less than an hour.

1 Amalfi Lemon ( any other goes to, if small ones, use two), zest and juice
150 g sugar
2 eggs
180 g flour
60 g butter
1/2 Vanilla bean
150 g greek yogurt (me:0% fat, you: whichever you prefer)

For the syrup
1 teaspoon dried lavender flowers
40g sugar
Lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 180c.
For the dough, mix eggs and sugar until you get a creamy texture, add butter (not melted, just taken out of the fridge well in advance and cut in pieces), continue stiring the mixture, add grated lemon zest, juice of half a lemon (or of an entire if using a small one) and the yogurt. Scrap out the seeds of the vanilla bean and add to the mixture, stir until smooth and then add the flour. The dough remains pasty. Fill the moulds 3/4 full and bake for about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining lemon juice, adding the sugar and lavender. Bring to a boil until the sugar is melted and you get a syrup. I left the lavender flowers in the syrup, some flowers would then stick to the cakes. If you don’t want to eat lavender, sieve the syrup.
Don’t let it cool, leave the pan on the stove until the Goodies are done in the oven.
Take the cakes out, switch off the oven, close the door. While the cakes are still hot, coat them with the syrup using a brush. In addition, I made little holes in the cakes with a toothpick so that the cakes are soaked with the syrup.
Take the cakes out of the moulds, place them on a heat-resistant plate and put them back in the oven for 10 more minutes, take them out again and coat them with a second layer of syrup. Let cool before you eat them all at once 🙂

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The making of…Swiss Farmer’s Bread

The name of this bread is a bit misleading, it was not invented by Farmers. Here’s how the story goes: the farmers had a surplus of milk and in order that this additional milk would be used instead of having to drain it down the rivers, the Swiss Bakers School Richemont invented the Farmer’s bread where part of the water used was substituted with milk. Not that this would have helped a lot, still nowadays, surplus milk is drained!

Here’s my recipe, slightly different from my Dad’s professional one:

For the sponge:
900 wheat flour
120 g rye flour
42g yeast
1dl water

For the dough add
3dl milk
2dl water
3 tbl spoons salt

No, I do not use sugar for dissolving the yeast. The pro told me, that it is useless and destroys the bacteria in the yeast.
So in a big bowl, put the flours and make a hole in the middle, dissolve the yeast in 1dl lukewarm water and pour it into the hole, cover it with a bit of flour. Let it rest until it starts frothing, at least 1hr, can as well be over night.
Then add the milk, water and salt and work it until you get a smooth dough. The Kenwood Chef is a master in doing it for me in about 10mins.
Let the dough rest, covered with a towel, until it has doubled its volume. Then form one or two round loaves. I tried two different types, a) the normal Farmer Bread shape where you cut the surface with a sharp knife in diamonds, b) the St. Galler bread shape. Ok, the latter turned out miserably, not at all the shape I was aiming for. But it is quite complicated to form that shape, ahhh, next time I will follow the step-by-step instructions in the internet.

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Sprinkle some water over the loaves, cover them and let rest for another 30 mins.
Pre-heat oven to 230c.
Put the loaves in the oven, add some water in an oven-safe jar and put it next to the loaves, this will generate some steam. After 10 mins, reduce the heat to 180c and continue baking for 30-40 mins.

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To test if the bread is baked thoroughly, knock on the bottom side of the bread, sounds hollow? Yes? It’s done!
To give the bread a nice “glow” sprinkle again some water on it right after removing it from the oven, let cool and then enjoy it the way you like it!

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Spinach Pie..isi-style σπανακόπιτα (spanakopita)

I love the Greek Spinach Pie, however, it is very fat. Okay, it is healthy olive oil, but still, sometimes I prefer a lighter version. So I have hidden in my test kitchen and out came this pie without Feta but instead with Italian Ricotta. And I used less olive oil or butter.

1pack of Phyllio pastry (filo)
500 g fresh spinach, blanched and drained very well, should be dry before using. Yes, you may use frozen one, but treat yourself to fresh one.
250g ricotta
Oregano, thym, nutmeg, aniseed, lemonsalt or regular salt, pepper, dried chili
20 g butter, melted

Preheat oven to 180c.
Chop the spinach and mix it with the ricotta, add all the herbs and spices to your liking. You can use different ones, however use the aniseed, it gives the pie the special flavor.
The filling should be quite dry. You may also add finely chopped and sauteed garlic and onions, I simply forgot to add them:-)

 

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Now comes the tricky part: unfold the phyllio pastry without totally breaking the layers. There is different options, the easiest is to flat the pastry out, evenly spread the filling and roll it like a roulade, butter the top with melted butter. After baking, you can cut it in pieces of 4cm each.
Or you cut the pastry in squares, add the filling, and fold it to a triangle (“glue” it with melted butter), then backe.
Me of course chose the difficult option using a square pan. I used a non-stick pan, so no need to grease it. I put 2 layers into the pan, and buttered them, then spread the spinach-filling onto the pastry, folded in the overlapping pastry and covered the filling with 3 more layers, then buttered just the last layer on the top. Never mind if the layers brake, during baking and then when you cut the pie in pieces it will get messy anyways.

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Baking time is 20mins and I served it warm with a tomatoe-cucumber-rucola salad. Greeks serve it cold, that is also an option, I prefer it warm, probably the Swiss in me:-)

Greetings from the Pays La Gruyère, picture-perfect Switzerland…the myth of cows, chocolate and cheese

La Gruyère is indeed a part of Switzerland one could think it has been artificially built to please Japanese Tourists. But as a matter of fact, it is all very genuine and a place on earth I really like because it is not so overcrowded like other parts of my homeland. It is a very mellow landscape, cows on lush meadows, creeks running through it and historical buildings and castles on top of the hills.

There is a lot to see and do. Let’s start in Gruyères, set high on top of a hill with a castle and a picturesque old town. The famous cheese inherited its name from the very same village, and you guess correctly, there is of course a cheese factory on the foot of the hill which you can visit. You can watch the cheese makers, taste and buy cheese and other very delicious treats. In the midst of the village, a totally untypically Swiss “thing” to visit is the HR Giger museum (The Alien guy) and his bar. It is very special indeed. I do not really like the guy, but the architecture of the bar is a must-see! Absolutely extra-terrestrial! The castle is worth a visit as well and so are the various restaurants.

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Unfortunately, when we were there the “Auberge de la Halle” was closed, that was very disappointing as apparently they serve fresh morels filled with minced veal. Sounds so yummie. We ended up at the Restaurant Des Remparts and had a very delicious dinner. Meat on a hot stone, sounds a bit like a massage, but it was really very nice and decent in the price too! One specialty would of course be the cheese fondue in 120 different variations, and as a dessert, double crème de la Gruyère with meringues and red berries. I did…resist! The meat alone was more than enough!

There are a few hotels in/around Gruyères, the one we discovered and stayed for one night is a true gem. Le Broc’aulit, not to be mistaken for Broccoli 🙂

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The old Auberge was transformed in a wonderful Bed & Breakfast a few years ago, most of the ancient parts have been maintained because the building is under protection of historical monuments. Somehow, we seem to be very lucky when booking hotel rooms directly on hotel websites! When we checked in, we got an upgrade to the Suite. This was a really special treat as the room is facing the village of Gruyères and the Moléson. Waking up to a clear blue sky, looking outside the window was really like living a fairy tale! The Moléson is the highest mountain in the region, you can go on top by funicular or cable car, it is 2002 m high, nothing compared to the real alps, but since it sits in the pre Alps it looks quite impressing compared to the hills surrounding it.

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Broc has 2200 habitants and 2(!!) railway stations…why? One has been built right in front of the Cailler Chocolate factory, as a courtesy to the many people who work there. And here we go with one of the main reasons why a stop in Broc is a must. Cailler offers visitor tours where you can taste all their products and you can also do courses and learn how to make your own Pralinés (no need for me, I helped Daddy for many years doing the finest one on earth).

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There’s of course more to see and do, visit the hot springs, hike around the lake of Gruyères, bike, ski, visit Bulle, Romont and Fribourg. But ours was just a stopover and we had no time to do all of this…but, we will be back for sure.
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