January 31, 2011

day trip to luzern

I figured I'd start with the main attraction, the Kapellbrüke, a long covered bridge that zig zags across the lake. The bridge, which was built in 1333, is certainly a tourist attraction, but on a cold January day the walk across was quiet and pleasant.
It was surprisingly cold out so we made sure to duck into some great little cafes and bars for warmth, refueling and a bit of reading.
The image on the left is of Jean Nouvel's Culture and Congress Center (KKL), which has an amazing site right on the lake. The image on the right is an apartment building we spotted on our walk up to the bar at Hotel Montana
The Swiss House is an incredible restaurant - a must!(we found it funny that it is called The Swiss, why not Das Schweizer Haus?) It had been recommended to Zach by a friend at work and although we were initially hesitant because of the price, we decided to live a little and try it for dinner. We didn't make a reservation so we went for the early bird special, a 5:30 seating! The food was absolutely incredible. We both ordered veal, I had veal paillard with pomme frites and Zach had veal cooked in a mushroom cream sauce with a side of rösti. Both were delicious but we both agreed that Zach's was best. Next time we go we are going to order the schnitzel, the house special. They cook it right at your table, in an uncomfortable amount of butter, and the smell, which is both sweet and savory, is intoxicating.
We cleaned our plates and dived in on desert, some créme brulée, which we also finished. It's actually a miracle I have any pictures at all considering how delicious our meal was and how all engrossed in eating it we were.

January 30, 2011

a toast to crem and jeremy!

What better way to spend a Sunday morning than by raising a glass (and a piece of pizza) to some of our nearest and dearest friends who just got engaged last week?! I've been so happy ever since Crem told me the good news and I just had to find away to celebrate and share the celebration, so here goes...cheers c + j!!
The pomegranate, or in german granatapfel, in champagne is a little trick I learned from Crem. The beautiful magenta seeds in the bubbly champagne are both beautiful and delicious. What a treat when you take a sip to get a couple little seeds that pop when bitten and release a sweet, yet tart juice - yum!
I settled on a sweet breakfast/brunch pizza - mozzarella, ricotta and parmesan cheese with cinnamon and sugar coated apples and a drizzle of honey. In thinking back on it I obviously should have added some sausage to the mix considering Crem and Jeremy's shared love for sausage. I actually think sausage would be a wonderful savory companion to the sweet apples.
Zach and I decided that I should have added more apples to the pizza. They were delicious, but not overpowering, and a full coating of them would have made the pizza even yummier.
- 1 newly engaged couple
- a good playlist of Wilco, Neko Case and Bitter Greens(Jeremy's band!)
- lots and LOTS of love!
- pomegranate + champagne

dough: I discovered this dough recipe on Alexandra Cooks, a fellow Yalie who has one of the best food blogs out there.
- 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 2/3 luke warm water
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 2 tsp olive oil

mix the flours together in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl add the lukewarm water, yeast and sugar and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes or until little bubbles start to form on the top. Add the olive oil to the yeast-water mixture and stir. Once mixed add slowly to the dry ingredients. I don't have a mixer so I kneaded the dough by hand. It gets very sticky, but it is still workable. Once combined divide into 4 smaller balls. This might require some extra flour in order to really handle the dough. I've also found that a little olive oil helps.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and put some olive oil on the parchment paper, to ensure that the dough does not stick. Place the four dough balls on the parchment paper and cover with plastic wrap. You can put a little olive oil on the dough balls to ensure the plastic wrap will not stick. Find a reasonably warm spot to put the baking sheet and allow the dough to rise for 2 hours, or until it appears to have doubled in size.

If you don't want to make all four pizzas at once then wrap the dough you aren't using in plastic wrap and put it in a plastic baggy and into the freezer. The dough keeps incredibly well frozen.

pizza time:
preheat the oven to a toasty 500 degrees.

To roll out the dough put a bit of flour on your work surface and dust the dough ball with a bit of flour. I work the dough by hand first - moving it around in a circle and stretching it out from the center and then to the edges. Once the dough has spread out into a nice flat circle I put it back on the work surface and use the rolling pin to roll it out. I bake the pizza on a reasonably small, non-stick, 9 x 13 pan, so I try to roll the dough out so that it roughly fits those dimensions. Once the right size place on your baking sheet. If you don't have a non-stick pan I would put some olive oil on your baking sheet before you put the dough on.

the fun part...put whatever you want on your pizza! a bit of olive oil is a good start and the some cheese of your choosing. I chose mozzarella and ricotta with some parmesan shavings. Once the cheese was on I placed the apples, which I had mixed with a bit of cinnamon and sugar, on to the pie. I then drizzled a bit of honey over the entire pizza and stuck it in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. When the crust is perfectly light brown you'll know the pizza is done.
The picture on the right is a snapshot from our day trip to Luzern yesterday. I'm going do another post on that trip, but the heart shutters had to make an appearance in this post.
champagne + pomegranate seeds + a giant bottle of delicious Belgian beer = a few of Crem and Jeremy's favorites, and ours too! We ended our celebration with a little reading of the New Yorker in front of the "fire." While Zach was reading the New Yorker I started The Dirty Life, a book about a couple who started a farm from the ground up. I just finished reading about how they slaughtered a pig...thought of Pork and Chop now sitting in your freezer. A celebratory bacon meal in your future perhaps?


January 28, 2011

a weekend with z...

...a couple of my favorite photos from the past few weekends. The top photo is in Zurich and the bottom photo is in Mürren.

haus hunting: love at first shingle/shutter

I knew when I spotted this house with the green shutters and tiny shingles, that Switzerland would be a treasure trove of little architecture details. I came to Switzerland expecting perfect concrete on every street corner, and while Swiss mastery of poured concrete is visible in the city and the countryside, the vernacular architecture is much more prevalent. When we own our first home I'm not sure I will be able to refrain from painting a chevron pattern on our shutters. If this home happens to be in the states we probably risk being kicked out of the neighborhood. I love the notion that shutters are already partially decoration, so why not just hype up the decoration a bit more with a fabulous graphic pattern - especially in black and white. I imagine this will be a frequent blog topic since there are so many wonderful house paint/shutter paint combos here in Switzerland.
happy weekend everyone! We are going to have a low key weekend this weekend with just a day trip to Luzern tomorrow and then a day in Zurich on Sunday to regroup and pack for my trip to the states. I head home Monday for a week of wedding planning fun! Only a little over two months to go until the big day.

joy in the little things...

...like finally finding Fage Greek yogurt in Zurich. Since I cook almost every night I have been scoping out all of the grocery stores in an effort to find the nicest/most reasonable shopping experience. After almost three weeks I had yet to find Fage yogurt, until yesterday when I went to the fancy Globus market. There are two major grocery store chains here, Coop and Migros, and I have settled on a Coop store located in the basement of their main department store on Bahnhofstrasse - imagine Target arranged vertically into five floors and having a full fledge grocery store in the basement. Full-fledge is a bit of an exaggeration since there is absolutely no comparison between US stores and Swiss stores. I've also found there is no comparison between US appliances and my teeny weeny cute-as-a-button Swiss appliances. Anyway I figured I am living in the land of dairy and there had to be at least one grocery store that had what I was looking for, and I was right - the exact grocery store I have been avoiding because it is known for being super expensive. C'est la vie.

January 27, 2011

zurich recently

a few recent favorites
some days the it seems like you could touch the alps and other days you'd never even know they were there

a haus-warming gift

How could I possibly walk out of this store without four of each color? I think I am addicted to stripes - from napkins to my wardrobe.
I held back and only bought two - a tan one and a coral one. These will certainly be featured in future blog posts. I also bought two sets of candles. We have yet to buy all of the necessary lamps to light our apartment so at this point we are eating dinner by candlelight. Thankfully we shipped almost all of our furniture from the states so the apartment is 85% furnished, but we are still working on putting the finishing touches on our new home away from home (although I expect Zurich will feel like home sooner than I think). A couple of new dishtowels certainly couldn't hurt the haus-warming process...right?
Whenever I have a craving for a croissant and a haircut you can trust that I will be visiting these two adorable shops, never mind the fact that herrensalon means men's salon. It's funny actually, I think Zurich might have one hair salon for every ten people. There are literally three on each block, but none quite as cute as this one. If only I could find a nail salon...

turquoise in the city

this vintage vespa we spotted in Paris had me at "bonjour"
heissi marroni are roasted chestnuts and can be found on almost every street corner in Zurich. I have yet to try them, but I love the color of this particular stand

January 26, 2011

a lemon cake for a sunny day

Mid January sunshine last week called for a summery cake. Lemons, blueberries and a few raspberries seemed wonderfully bright and cheerful for this winter cake. The recipe is adapted from Ina Garten's lemon yogurt cake. I made a few substitutions, mostly just necessary ingredient adjustments based on what I can find in the Swiss grocery stores. I swapped vegetable oil for olive oil, vanilla extract for vanilla beans and whole-milk yogurt for 2%. In regards to the yogurt I was having trouble finding whole milk yogurt in the stores. It was my impression that I was moving to the land of full fat dairy products, but I think it was my own fault in not being able to translate the yogurt container. Note to self: whole-milk = Vollmilch. I was worried that the lack of fat would effect the cake, but it turned out well, and perhaps a bit healthier.
What do you do when you quit your job and follow your fiancé to Zurich? The answer...COOK! Obviously finding another job is the best answer, but since I will be back and forth to the states a few times before our April wedding, serious job hunting will have to wait until I am here permanently starting in late April. Cooking in Zurich is almost a necessity since eating out is insanely expensive - standard entrees are in the $40 range!! While in architecture school I barely had time to shower and dress myself let alone cook, so I am relishing the opportunity to cook during this little forced vacation.
Since I was pushing the season a bit with this cake and didn't want to go overboard and buy cartons of raspberries and blueberries for 8 francs each (roughly 1 franc to 1 usd), I decided to buy frozen berries, which I think worked out perfectly. The juices didn't bleed allowing the cake to appear more lemony when cut. The berries did sink a bit, but I was expecting that.
ingredients for the cake (adapted from The Barefoot Contessa and Smitten Kitchen):
- 1.5 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder (tough to track down in my local Coop supermarket)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup 2% plain yogurt
- 1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tsp lemon zest, or to taste
- the guts of one whole vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup olive oil (recipe calls for 1/2 cup vegetable oil)
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups berries of your choice

ingredients for the glaze
- 1 cup confectioner sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice

I made the glaze per the recipe and found it incredibly sweet. I think you could go without the glaze at all and perhaps just sprinkle a bit of confectioner sugar on top of the cake once it has cooled, just to make it look pretty. If anything I wouldn't recommend covering the entire cake in the glaze.
to bake the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If your trusty loaf plan isn't nonstick then grease and flour the pan. I used an 8.5" x 4.5" x 2.5" pan.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. In another bowl mix the yogurt, 1 cup of sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Once the ingredients in both bowls have been well mixed then slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Slowly and gently stir in your berries. Do not over mix. Pour into baking dish and bake or about 50minutes (my loaf took significantly longer than this to bake - almost an hour and twenty minutes - I think because the berries had excess water that had to be cooked off. Best way to be sure the cake is done is to test it in the center and when the knife comes out clean then the cake is done).

While the cake is baking cook the 1/3 cup of lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small saute pan until the sugar dissolves. Set this mixture aside.

When the cake is done allow it to cool in the pan for 10+ minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and place on a baking rack. While the cake is still cooling pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in.

Once the lemon-sugar mixture has soaked in and the cake has cooled a bit more you can pour the glaze on. Simply mix the confectioner sugar and lemon juice until it produces a sticky liquid and the pour away.


I'm off to the grocery store again (I do as the Swiss do and go daily) to pick up ingredients for Stuffed Peppers, a dish I absolutely love and adore from my dear friend Tala. The link will take you to her current blog or use this link for the stuffed pepper recipe.