April 22, 2013


Even though the oven remained off and the kitchen empty my camera was full, full with the same roll of film for almost four months. I just recently got the roll developed and wanted to share the photos with you. They span from December through early March. Winter here was bleak. There were months without sun. In retrospect it's probably better I don't have many photos from the depths of the darkness. 

The earliest photos on the roll are from a quick, random, weekend trip that Zach and I took to London in early December. It was before the morning sickness struck and let me tell you, I was all about the duck confit sandwich that we got while wandering through Borough Market. 

 Zach couldn't resist and also sampled the corned beef.

Santa Cristina Val Gardena::
For Christmas we slipped away to the Dolomites in Northern Italy with some friends. Zach skied while I drank hot chocolate and sat in the sun.

Since I couldn't ski this year we spent more weekends than we otherwise would have here in Zürich. We read The New Yorker at home and went out for latte macchiatos. I also started up a little needlepoint project. If by some miracle I finish it I think it will make a cute pillow or little bench for our little bébé. 

April 15, 2013

crumb coffee cake

In my opinion there is a giant misunderstanding about pregnancy cravings. I went into pregnancy with the assumption that I should stack jars of pickles next to my prenatal vitamins and cartons of ice cream next to the frozen spinach. As it turns out I didn't want pickles, ice cream, or spinach, and prenatal vitamins made me gag. So, yes, I'm going to go ahead and say, that for me, it was much more about things I didn't want to eat than the things I did, especially during the first few months. 

If it was a color of the rainbow I didn't want to eat it. If it was once alive - four legs, two legs, fins - I didn't want to eat it. If it grew in the ground or up in a tree I didn't want to eat it, unless of course you count the tomatoes that went into the thin layer of sauce between the doughy crust and gooey cheese of my twice weekly pizza. Basically if it wasn't white or a cracker I didn't want to eat it. 

My diet was bleak and bland. I hate to admit that. I was a healthy eater before so I figured I'd be a healthy eater during. Silly me. I ate what I could, when I could. For the first three months or so I subsisted on toast, oatmeal, cereal, pizza and pasta. I had become a pickier version of my already very picky four year old self.

Maybe pregnancy is like old age, where we revert back to a childlike state (the last time I saw my great grandmother she was eating Coco Puffs), because of the few things I could imagine stomaching - all white foods of course - two where childhood favorites; bagels and Entenmann's crumb coffee cake. I still love bagels, so that wasn't surprising, but Entenmann's coffee cake? 
You definitely can't get Entenmann's coffee cake here in Zurich. And I definitely wasn't going to rush to the grocery store and into the kitchen to make it. So I did without. I did without Bagels too, because although you can find the odd bagel around town, they just aren't that good. 

Even though I'm back to eating all colors of the rainbow, I knew one of my first just-for-fun cooking projects would be to try and replicate Entenmann's crumb cake in my own kitchen. Thankfully Cooks Illustrated tackled the recipe a few years ago with promising results of thick buttery crumbs floating on soft yellow cake. This is not health food, I know, but I felt it was my duty as a pregnant woman to satisfy one of the only cravings I've had. And satisfy the craving it did. I can't say it tastes like the original, because it's been so long since I've had the original that I honestly can't remember what it tastes like. But if you are craving a fluffy cake covered in a dense crumb layer then this will definitely do it for you. 
Entenmanns' New York Style Crumb Cake

*the key ingredient in this cake is cake flour. If you try and substitute all purpose flour your cake will come out dense and your crumb dry. If you don't want to buy cake flour or can't find it (we don't have it here in Zurich) then for every 1 cup of cake flour substitute 3/4 cup sifted all purpose + 2 Tbsp corn starch (a little mental math exercise). Sift the flour-corn starch mixture together at least 5 times to mix it and aerate it. 

crumb toppping
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon 
1/8 tsp table salt
1 stick butter, melted but still warm
1 3/4 cup cake flour (7 oz) *

1 1/4 cup cake flour (5 oz) *
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbsp butter, cut into pieces, soft, but still cool
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup buttermilk

Make the topping by combining the sugars, salt, cinnamon and melted butter in a bowl. Stir in the flour and continue stirring until you have a thick crumb mixture. Set aside, and let cool to room temperature for at least 10-15 minutes

Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Cut a piece of parchment paper to line the bottom and sides of an 8x8 baking dish (I used a 9x7). Butter the dish and then put the parchment paper in. 

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix flour, salt, sugar, baking soda and salt on low speed until combined. With the mixer still on low add in the chunks of butter one at a time and mix until there are no large pieces and the mixture resembles a coarse crumb. Add egg, egg yolk, vanilla and buttermilk and beat on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about a minute or two. 

Scrap the batter in your baking dish and top with an even layer of the crumb mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a knife/wooden skewer comes out clean. Let it cool on a wire wrack for 30 minutes. Eat and enjoy! 

Not only did I take a break from cooking and blogging, but I also took a break from reading some of my favorite blogs. After trying to catch up on the months of posts that I missed I now have a nice looking list of things to make. Here it is in case you need some inspiration.

Baked oatmeal as recommended by Ali and Amy

Speaking of Ali and Amy, I want to make Ali's Lamp Chops  and Amy's Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

This Spinach salad that I've been eyeing in the Jerusalem cookbook

Darcy's roasted vegetable salad with honey dressing sounds amazing

The tomato and sourdough soup, also from Jerusalem, that Jess made sounds absolutely delicious.

These onion and potato pierogis, and I should probably also get the cookbook

I hope everyone had a nice weekend. It was sunny and beautiful here, which after a long, very grey winter was amazing. It looks like today is going to be even nicer. Time to head outside and take advantage because as the Swiss like to tell you, just because it's warm today, doesn't mean it won't snow tomorrow.

April 07, 2013

hello again

I'm back in the kitchen...

...with a bump!

Both are miracles, one a bit more miraculous than the other. The stripped sweater is covering five months of belly and baby growth. I'm due the first week of August. A summer baby. Our baby! Half me, half Zach, but entirely a new and unique little person. It's amazing, mind boggling and completely awe inspiring, and I'm loving every minute of it.

I've learned a few things along the way: that peanut butter and jelly on toast really is the ultimate comfort food; that maternity jeans are right up there with yoga pants as the best creation ever; and that the thump thump roll thump of a baby kicking from the inside is one of the most incredible feelings there is (I smile every single time). We are overjoyed and excited and so very thankful. 

It wasn't my intention to stop blogging, but as it turns out morning sickness (all day sickness really) is kryptonite to a food blog. I didn't want to eat anything, let alone read about, write about, or cook food. Nope. I just wanted to lie on the couch and watch The Bachelor. And that's pretty much what I did until the extreme exhaustion of creating a human began to wane and I made my way back into the kitchen. It wasn't so much that I wanted to cook, but that I had reached my scrambled eggs and buttered toast threshold. I was cooking, but without gusto or inspiration. But then Friday something wild happened - I spotted a recipe, I ran out to get the ingredients, and I made it, just because, just for fun. It was a turning point, the first time I've done that since December, and I didn't even realize what was happening until the oven was preheated and the ingredients mixed. Sitting down with my bowl of toasted muesli I knew it was time to get back to the blog, so...

Hello Blog! 

Hello Readers! 

Hello delicious bowl of toasted muesli!

This muesli is adapted from a recipe that was featured in the October 2012 issue of Whole Living. It's called toasted muesli, and it falls somewhere in between muesli and granola. True muesli, as I've become acquainted with it over the last two years (it's a Swiss invention), is typically composed of raw oats, grains, nuts and dried fruit, all unsweetened and eaten with yogurt. It can be pretty mushy. Granola, composed mainly of oats and nuts, is sweetened and toasted in the oven to yield that satisfying crunchy texture. The millet and puffed quinoa pull this recipe towards a muesli, while the slight sweetness and crunch bring it towards a granola. Call it what you will - to each their own - but since I'm in Switzerland and muesli reigns supreme here, I'm going to stick with calling it toasted muesli. 

Muesli/Granola is really all about personal preference. Use this recipe as a guide and adjust however you want (more nuts, less nuts, more fruit, less fruit, no coconut, way more coconut, etc). 

Toasted Muesli
adapted from Whole Living October 2012

1/3 cup boiling water
1/2 cup whole millet
2 cups oats (gluten free if desired)
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup mixed chopped nuts (I used pecans, almonds and walnuts)
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
2/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup mixed assorted dried fruit chopped (apricots, apples, peaches, pear, etc)
1/2 cup puffed quiona

Preheat the oven to 325ºf / 160ºc

In a small bowl, pour boiling water over millet, cover with a plate and let sit for 30minutes. 

In a large bowl mix the drained millet, oats, coconut flakes, sunflower seeds and the chopped nuts with the maple syrup, olive oil and salt. Stir to coat. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the muesli mixture out on it. Place it in the oven and bake, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until the mixture is lightly toasted, about 20-30 minutes. 

Let the muesli cool and then add the cranberries, chopped assorted dried fruit and the puffed quinoa. Stir to mix. Store the muesli in an airtight glass container for up to 2 weeks. 
I hope I'm smart enough to make a batch or two of this muesli and hide it away for after the baby's arrival. 

Goodness, it's hard to start blogging again after such a long absence. I have so much I want to say and catch you up on, but it's overwhelming. I don't know where to begin. I think I'll leave it at this for today and save the rest for future posts. Sound good? Please also feel free to send me any questions or advice. I'd love to hear from you. 

Which reminds me, I wanted to thank those of you who emailed me during my hiatus to let me know that you were thinking of me and that you missed me here in this space. That really meant a lot to me. I missed you too!