Tag: Switzerland

Who is Killing the Cheese Makers? Part Two


Formaggio-di-Malga-Stravecchio-36-mesi2-lowres
36-month old Malga Stravecchio

Producing cheese from raw milk and natural rennet, heat and fermentation is older than history. Archaeologists and historians have an idea when it started. That idea, or story if you prefer, is based on a presumption.

The story involved a merchant in an ancient caravanserai – a camel train – on a journey under the hot sun across ancient lands. When the merchant arrived at the destination, milk carried in a bag made from a sheep’s stomach was discovered to be lumpy, churned into curds by the constant jogging of the camel on uneven ground under the heat of that sun.

The same argument has been made for the discovery of yoghurt. Same principle.

Of course it is possible it might have been a deliberate experiment. Meat was tenderised under the saddles of the horsemen who travelled long distances, a tradition that continued until horses became sports stars and lost their natural status in society. Our ancestors never ceased to discover methods to preserve their food, using microbial fermentations and elaborate techniques that are still in use today and cannot be replicated fully by modern methods.

It is the old cliche, if it isn’t broken …

Reportáž z byndziarne vo Zvolenskej Slatine.© Dušan Kittler
The Making of Bryndza, the soft sheep’s cheese of Poland and Slovakia

Whether it was accidental or deliberate is no longer relevant. Somewhere, somehow, someone realised that the character of milk could be altered to produce a food with a longish life – cheese!

Whether this happened 5000 years ago or 3500 years ago is relevant for one reason. The pasteurisation of milk is modern – very modern, a speck in time.

This leaves us with a dilemma. In the countries where cheese has become an integral aspect of the character of farming – ancient and modern – there is a strong raw milk tradition in its preparation.

This includes many European countries, in fact mostly European. That should not be a shock to anyone who knows the history of food. It is also not a surprise that cheese making is a mountain and valley occupation, that goat’s milk rather than sheep’s milk and certainly not cow’s milk has been the driver through time.

The environment is the medium.

Goat’s milk makes fresh cheese, sheep’s milk makes cheese that is adaptable, and cow’s milk makes cheese that has a relatively long life, certainly in the maturation period. Each has a tradition that is unique in the countries where these animals graze the fields and meadows and upland slopes.

It is not a surprise that some of the best cheese in the world comes from countries with high country snow, where the flora is rich in the organoleptic qualities that are transferred to the cheese via the milk.

America does not appear to have a milk or a cheese tradition, yet it is the Americans who are driving the campaign, if it can be called that, to eradicate cheese made from raw milk. They would prefer to ban all products made with raw milk.

Deaths from food poisoning have generally come from mass-produced industrial food or from food that has been contaminated by industrial processes or food tainted by toxic waste. Deaths from eating cheese made with raw milk do not compare.

Adding-the-Rennet.lowres
Pouring the Rennet

Is there an agenda? People who know cheese believe there is.

It starts with the microbes that inhabit the world, the single cell organisms called bacteria. They are present in the milk and are present in the rennet, the enzymatic preparation that clots milk, changing it into curds. These microbes digest the lactose in milk and, in the process, produce lactic acid, which acts as a preservative.

The enzyme is called chymosin. It is found in the stomachs of ruminants – which is why the milk curdled on that famous journey.

When chymosin is introduced to the milk as rennet it converts the proteins from liquid into solid. This coagulation process is the result of a catalytic action. Casein makes up the majority of milk proteins. There are four casein molecules in milk – alpha-s1, alpha-s2, beta and kappa.

Tasting-the-Curds
The First Curds

Without kappa casein, milk would spontaneously coagulate. Milk proteins are soluble because of kappa casein. When chymosin interacts with kappa casein it converts it into a protein called macropeptide. The milk can no longer hold its liquid state. It clots and changes into curds.

Bacteria are maligned, yet not all bacteria are malignant, many are beneficial and without them our food web would disintegrate. We would have no fermented food, including the aromatic cheeses that allow you ‘to taste the animal’.

The secret of cheese making is the skilful management of microbes, and the management of moisture before and after the process. Therefore cheese should be made with milk that is as fresh as it comes, before any kind of harmful microbial activity can take place. It should be stored in conditions that are not receptive to microbial activity. And, ideally, cheese consumers should be knowledgable when they buy and store cheese.

Cutting-the-Curds-lowres
Cutting the Curds

The pasteurisation of milk will destroy harmful bacteria but it will also produce a different kind of cheese. In their book, Reinventing the Wheel – Milk, Microbes and the Fight for Real Cheese, Bronwen and Francis Percival are typically patronising in their approach to this issue. If the book was less about them and more about cheese, it would be educational. It is not the first book on cheese to patronise its potential readers and it won’t be the last. There is knowledge and wisdom in the Percival book, unfortunately it is hidden among the paragraphs that state ‘look at us, aren’t we clever when we write about cheese?’

Campaigners for real cheese, they are not!

This is the problem and sadly it is not confined to the likes of the Percivals. Ignorance of ‘real’ cheese among the general population has allowed supermarket chains to sell ‘cheap’ cheese, especially in the English speaking world. In their profit before people behaviour, supermarkets dictate what the people purchase. Cheese connoisseurs naturally go elsewhere and are not typically concerned about those who have no understanding of ‘slow food’ and no informed knowledge about artisanal products. That said, not everyone can afford to shop at Neal’s Yard Dairy, where Bronwen Percival is the cheese buyer.

Sadly we now live in a world where ‘real’ cheese is for those with purchasing power and ‘plastic’ cheese is for everyone else. If there is concern about the demise of ‘real’ cheese makers in the English language-speaking countries, it is not manifest among those who are used to hopping over to France, Italy or Switzerland to buy the cheeses that do not travel, like the best Abondance or Appenzeller or Fontina or Malga or Tomme or Sbrinz – all cheeses with strong local traditions, that become expensive when they are purchased at specialist outlets in Dublin or London or New York.BerneseCheeseShop-low-res

CheeseCounterSwiss.lowres
Front counter in Rene Ryser’s cheese shop in Gstaad, Switzerland

Cheese, as Bronwen Percival is not slow to demonstrate, is a continental European sensibility, where cheese can be bought from a dedicated artisanal shop – a fromagerie – or from a market stall, sometimes from the cheese maker themselves, or from a supermarket chain that is sensitive to the desires of its customers.

In Britain and Ireland it is difficult to find a supermarket that has on its shelves ‘real’ cheese. Abondance, the wonderful cheese of the Savoyard region of the French Alps, found its way into the Tesco chain in Ireland, interestingly at a price lower than at Auchan and Carrefour in France and Italy. Miracles do happen!

But we digress.

Reinventing-the-Wheel
Published by Bloomsbury

The most interesting chapter in Reinventing the Wheel is chapter seven. For those not as knowledgable about the cheese world as Bronwen Percival, this chapter is worth the price of the book.

When the Percivals state that the regulation of cheese – ‘deciding what is and what isn’t safe to eat’ – is ‘caught up in the fraught discussion of milk hygiene and safety,’ they make a very important point, which they are not slow to elucidate: ‘cheese is not liquid milk’.

As someone who is lactose intolerant and was forced to drink warm milk in school as a child, I find it difficult, 50 years later, to trust those who are entrusted to look after public health. Anyone with a brain, who was forced to drink raw milk as a child during the middle decades of the 1900s in certain countries, worked that out and were told to keep quiet. The pasteurisation of milk solved one problem, authority and morality remain.

Food safety has been an issue since the first nomads settled down in central Anatolia over 11 000 years ago, it came with civilisation and remained all the way into the modern era. Those with knowledge might argue that the French and the Swiss have better standards of food safety than the Americans, yet there is an argument that American-led laboratory science has been let loose on a world that is now scared of its own shadow – rightly so in many instances, but not with cheese made with raw milk and prepared in traditional ways. The Reblochon story in the Percival book is an example of the kind of ‘rational pragmatism’ that should be adopted toward raw milk cheese making.

ReblochonCheese-Ice-T.lowres
This is the Swiss reblochon

If the Americans want to impose a zero risk regulation to ensure food safety, that is their prerogative. For those of us who love raw milk cheeses, from the Camembert of Normandie to the Reblochon de Savoie – two cheeses singled out by the Percivals, we will continue to take our chances. Thankfully not everyone lives in the USA.

Unfortunately the future of raw milk cheeses in Britain and Ireland is bleak, because of the American influence. A tradition that is young and weak cannot compete with a tradition that is old and strong. Elizabeth Bradley makes a cheese just as good as any of the similar cheeses made in France and Italy. Her years do not compare with their years. America’s baleful influence on other countries is a worry to those who care about ‘real’ food, never mind ‘real’ cheese.

Of course we here in Fricot are biased. We have absolute faith in traditional methods. All the preserved foods come from an ancient lineage of expertise that resulted in techniques that have been passed down the generations and work as well today as they did thousands of years and countless generations ago.

Mechanisation does not produce good food, that is obvious to anyone who understands the lack of an organoleptic characteristic in anything that is mass produced. It certainly does not produce food as good as cheese made from raw milk.

So what is the real issue?

It might be obvious to say it is about food corporations and their desire to make profits from the mass production of cheese made with ‘safe’ milk. Certainly making money is a strong criteria for those who need to make money.

That would be the easy explanation, the truth this time is hard and complicated.

For now we should celebrate those who want to make cheese because they have a strong desire to produce a product that has organoleptic qualities, that has a unique taste and a depth of flavour, that is the consequence of its environment and their skill.

Fromage "TÍte de Moine"
Tète de Moine (Photo: Ezequiel Scagnetti)

… continued in part three.


Advertisements

Who is Killing the Cheese Makers? Part One

FRICOT EDITORIAL

Carlow-Elizabeth-Bradley-Cheese-Maker-lowres

AUGUST 2018

Who is Killing the Cheese Makers?

Goat farmer Elizabeth Bradley is a cheese-maker in Ballybrommel in the flatlands below Mount Leinster in east Carlow, south-east of Dublin. A few kilometers away in Shillelagh under the gaze of the mountains in west Wicklow dairy farmer Tom Burgess uses a portion of his summer milk to make cheese.

They make two of the most aromatic cheeses in Europe, one with goat’s milk, one with cow’s milk. In industry parlance they are artisanal, making hardly enough to mark the shadow of an impression in the billions of exports in dairy products. That is because they sell to local markets. That is one of their problems!

They have other problems, that have nothing to do with making and selling cheese. These problems are shared by most cheese makers across Europe, especially artisanal producers who are not concerned with packaging and supermarkets, with dairies, commerce and exports, and with the glossy promotional images of farmers and cheese that have nothing to do with reality. People who like to be small and be very good at what they do.

Cheese-making in Ireland was an ancient activity. It was part of the fabric of society. Michael Ó Sé, writing about old cheeses (and other milk products) in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society in 1948 referred to the traditional coagulants used in cheese-making. Binit (calves rennet) and binit uain (lambs rennet) were used as animal rennets, and mothan (bog violet) as a vegetable rennet. Sadly this tradition died with many of the old ways and for several hundred years Irish cheese-making was just another myth.

By referring to the old methods, using the same raw materials, farmers returned to cheese-making in the 1900s and within two generations Irish cheeses were back on the shelves. Bord Bia, in their promotions for farmhouse cheese-making, noted the fact. “The cheese-makers developed their craft, and enthusiastic friends, enlightened local chefs and shopkeepers put in orders for cheeses and the amateurs slowly evolved into professionals. Experience and knowledge passed to other interested farms and slowly a new food culture began to emerge.”

In Ireland, say Bord Bia (the governmental food department), our farmhouse cheeses are unique to each producer, expressing terroir in the true sense of the word. “This has the advantage of allowing for innovation and creativity, while still respecting the values of traditional cheese-making. Our European neighbours find it hard to believe that each cheese is only produced on one farm and is the result of the passion and dedication of one family.”

“The personality of the cheese-maker is often reflected in aspects of their cheese; from the wild and unpredictable to the precise and consistent. The large range of Irish farmhouse cheeses now available is exceptional considering the youth of the industry and the small size of our island.”

Elizabeth Bradley has just collected 500 litres of raw cow’s milk from a dairy farmer in Bagnelstown. She will pay the fixed market rate of 39 cents a litre. “Most dairy farmers will not sell their milk to small cheese-makers, because they are afraid of any consequences,” she says, driving back to her small farm with the milk in tow. She pumps the milk into her 500 litre vat, adds the starter culture and gradually brings the milk up to 32ºC. Several hours later the curds of cheese rest in containers under a press.

Over in Shillelagh Tom Burgess explains why the grass is the hero of his Irish cheddar. “It is made from grass-fed milk, other cheddars are not made from grass milk. So my cheddar is a yellow colour. English cheddars are white. It is still-growing grass, living, a natural environment.”

His 150 cows graze 200 acres. They calve in February and March, and milk through the summer when the grass is growing. Milking is stopped in November and December. For that reason he realised he needed a product with a long shelf life and decided on cheddar.

“There was already a demand for cheddar, and I felt the customer would move onto a stronger cheddar and pay more for a better sample. It melts well, cooks well, people know cheddar. It fitted my production profile, which was seasonal production.”

“It is a mature cheddar so I make the whole year’s production and then I store it. We make about 200-250 kilos a day over 80 days, that’s 16 tonnes. And we are still increasing. We are selling it but we would like to put it in the supermarkets where it will sell in volume.”

He employs two people to make the cheese. “I am able to pay them, instead of working on my own, the milk lorry arriving in the middle of the night, and still make a sustainable living out of my cattle.”

 Pressing-the-Cheese-lowres

The Moo Man film makers Andy Heathcote and Heike Bachelier might come to Ireland to feature the work of raw milk cheese-makers. After the success of their film about Sussex dairy farmer Steve Hook and his small organic raw milk business, it is no surprise to hear that the next stage of the process – cheese-making – is on their agenda.

Heathcote was drawn to the story of Errington Cheese who were forced to close their business after the authorities in Scotland implicated them in an outbreak of ecoli and has decided that the wider issue of bacteria in raw milk cheese should be investigated. His initial investigations tell him that there are numerous agendas, and for those reasons there are genuine fears for raw milk cheese-makers like Bradley and Burgess.

Rules that do not apply to raw milk cheese makers in France, Italy or Switzerland, where raw milk cheeses are celebrated as part of a regional food culture that attracts tourists and customers, are being applied to Irish and Scottish cheese-makers.

Dubliner Ben Sherwood has just finished his thesis on the future of raw milk cheese in Ireland. He is optimistic about Irish cheese but not sure about the future. “We could end up losing all our raw milk cheese-makers unless we do something,” he says. “There do not seem to be many new cheese-makers. Between 1995 and 2015 we lost about two-thirds of our raw milk cheeses.”

Elizabeth Bradley has another theory. “Part of it is the fact that there are very few people depending solely on raw milk cheeses for a livelihood so are therefore not going to take the risk.”

Ben Sherwood wonders whether the Food Safety Authority of Ireland are taking a lead from the Food and Drug Administration in the USA, where soft raw milk cheeses are not allowed. “You cannot sell or import two-month old raw milk cheese.”

This policy is part of the precautionary principle and the FSAI believe they serve the public by being cautious. Earlier this year supermarkets removed a pasteurised cow’s milk brie from their shelves. “As a precautionary measure, SuperValu is recalling batches of Wicklow Blue, due to the possible presence of Listeria monocytogenes,” the FSAI stated in a public announcement.

In 2005 University College Cork food sciences professor Alan Kelly surveyed food scientists on the public understanding of food risk issues and messages, and found that these experts had “little confidence” in the public’s understanding of food risk issues. “The public under-assesses the risk associated with some microbiological hazards and over-assesses the risk associated with other hazards such as genetically modified organisms and bovine spongiform encephalopathy.” They also said that the “media tend to communicate information that is misleading”.

Another reason for FSAI’s concern.

Paolo-Verona-Cheeses.lowres

During his student years Ben Sherwood worked part-time in a shop with a specialist cheese counter. It gave him a window into the world of cheese consumers. “Only a small minority who come into the shop come up to the cheese counter,” he says. “People who know their cheeses know what they want, they have their favourites, the ones they are familiar with. Then there are people who haven’t a clue, but want to learn. Those are the best moments, that small interaction and the change in peoples outlook that one piece of cheese can make. They are the key to improving our culture.”

At the street markets across the country it is the same. Some people buy the cheeses they know, while other people want to know more about cheese. If the seller is also the cheese-maker they are in luck. “I think people do care,” says Elizabeth Bradley, “but are bombarded with information, have very busy lives, huge demands from the complex system around them.”

There is, according to Ben, a blissful ignorance about cheese. Despite attempts by the state, through Bord Bia, and others, like Sheridans cheesemongers, to promote Irish cheese, the medium does not convey the message.

Something is wrong.

Who is killing the cheese-makers? We all are, if you believe those who care about cheese, raw milk cheese in particular. From those in authority who display a “terrible arrogance” to those in the artisanal food sector who appear to be ruled by “arrogance and fear” to the consumer who has a “blissful ignorance” and sees food as an entertainment rather than a culture, to a media that has no excellence in food writing.

Who would be a cheese-maker? No one anymore, it would seem!

CheeseGrotto-lowres

… continued in part two.

Featured Recipe = Butterzöpfe SWITZERLAND braided butter bread

Andrea&Markus-lowresHigh above the Simmen valley in the Berner oberland, Andrea Sprenger-von Siebenthal and Markus Sprenger run a big family hotel in the village of Sannenmöser. Long known as Les Hauts de Gstaad and Spa, it also goes by the name Golfhotel and is gradually building a solid reputation for excellent food using fresh local produce.

The quality is unsurpassed, largely due to the efforts of head chef Joachim van vlasselaer and pastry chef Fabien Larcopage. Beef, lamb, veal and wild boar comes from regional suppliers, fruit and vegetable is seasonal, fish is from mountain lakes and their alpine cheese comes from two small farmers further along the valley.

Simmentaler cows, who graze alpine flora, produce cheese and milk with a depth of flavour that is distinctly alpine. Markus calls it a ‘feeling,’ and you can taste that feeling when you eat their alpkäse and sample the cultured butter Joachim makes fresh in his kitchen.

CattleMovesSaanenmoser.lowres
Simmentaler cows on tour in the village

His ‘plain’ butter is a melt-in-the-mouth experience that lingers and remains unforgettable. He also makes a beetroot butter and a herb butter. We haven’t mentioned the boletus mushrooms they served as a mousse and as a soup. The flavour is so strong you can still taste the forest.

Then there is Andrea’s Sunday bread, known famously in Switzerland as zöpf or butterzöpfe.




One of Switzerland’s oldest traditional foods, this bread has been a feature of weekend life since the 15th century. The dough was made Saturday, baked Sunday. The Swiss use zopfmehl, a combination of wheat, spelt and barley flours.

Some people think it owes its origins to a custom whereby widows cut off a braid of their hair and buried it with their husbands. As time went on, they buried a loaf in the same shape instead of their hair.

870 g strong white wheat flour
600 ml / 20 fl oz whole milk, warmed
120 g / 4 oz butter, softened
115 g white spelt flour
15 g barley malt flour
30 g / 1 oz yeast
25 g / 5 tsp salt

Dissolve yeast in the milk. Sieve flour into a large baking bowl, add salt and work in the butter. Add yeasty milk, work into a dough. Fold out onto a clean work surface, knead for 15 minutes into a smooth dough. Leave to rise for an hour, de-gas and leave for a further hour. Place dough in refrigerator overnight. Divide dough into four equal pieces, and form each into a long sausage, tapered at each end. Braid two of the dough sausages, repeat, place both loaves on a large greased baking tray. Leave to rise, about an hour. Preheat over to 180ºC. Bake for 50 minutes, until the surface of each loaf has browned.

Legendary Dishes | Mischleta (apple, cheese, corn and potato gratin)

SWITZERLAND
400 g potatoes, cooked whole, peeled, cut into 1 cm slices
250 g sweet apples, peeled, quartered and halved
200 g coarse corn
200 g Bergkäse / Swiss mountain cheese, grated or sliced
60 g butter
30 ml rapeseed oil / sunflower oil 
Black pepper, large pinch
Salt, large pinch
Oven dish, 25 cm in length

Sauté apples and potatoes in oil in batches in a frying pan over a medium heat, season and set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 200ºC. Grease baking dish liberally, add the corn, cheese, potatoes and apples in layers and finish with cheese. Bake for 40 minutes. Serve on warmed plates.


INDIGENOUS INGREDIENTS =  Apples | Corn | Mountain Cheese | Potatoes

LEGENDARY DISHES


FRESH FRICOT | THE FRONT PAGE


EDITORIALS     EURO SNACKS     FOOD CONNECTIONS     FOOD STORIES     
GLOSSARY     HIGH FIVES     LEGENDARY DISHES     
RECIPES     REVIEWS     STREET MARKETS

Legendary Dishes | Apfelsalat (apple salad)

AUSTRIA GERMANY LIECHTENSTEIN SWITZERLAND

Traditionally this salad utilised cored and peeled apples, quartered and sliced, dressed with sugar, for sweetness, and crushed walnuts, and served with cold cuts. None of that here. The vegan version is faithful to the old recipe, and adds a little lemon juice, for tartness, and hazelnuts to accompany the walnuts. The vegetarian version allows for a cream-milk sauce.

6 apples, cored, peeled, quartered and sliced
120 ml cream (optional)
120 ml milk (optional)
60 g hazelnuts, chopped small
1 lemon, juice and zest
45 g icing sugar
30 g walnuts, crushed

Combine apples with lemon juice and zest, and the sugar, stir and leave to rest for an hour in the refrigerator. Dress with nuts, and, if desired, whisk the cream into the milk. Serve sauce with the apple salad.


INDIGENOUS INGREDIENTS =  Apple | Hazelnut | Walnut

LEGENDARY DISHES


FRESH FRICOT | THE FRONT PAGE


EDITORIALS     EURO SNACKS     FOOD CONNECTIONS     FOOD STORIES     
GLOSSARY     HIGH FIVES     LEGENDARY DISHES     
RECIPES     REVIEWS     STREET MARKETS

Legendary Dishes | Pangasius Knusperli im Backteig (pangasius nuggets)

SWITZERLAND

400 g pangasius fillets, cut into 4 cm strips
125 g flour
100 ml white wine / beer
2 eggs, separated
30 ml canola / sunflower oil
5 g mustard powder
1 lemon, juice
Baking powder, pinch
Black pepper, pinch
Salt, pinch
Oil, for deep frying

Whisk wine or beer, oil and egg yolks into the flour, mustard powder and salt for a smooth batter. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into batter. Heat oil to 190°C in a deep pan. Dredge pangasius pieces in the batter. Fry until golden, about three minutes. Dress with lemon juice. Serve with French fries.

LEGENDARY DISHES


FRESH FRICOT | THE FRONT PAGE


EDITORIALS     EURO SNACKS     FOOD CONNECTIONS     FOOD STORIES     
GLOSSARY     HIGH FIVES     LEGENDARY DISHES     
RECIPES     REVIEWS     STREET MARKETS

Legendary Dishes | Bündner Bohne und Gerstensuppe (Grabünden bean and barley soup)

SWITZERLAND

In the Swiss mountains the making of barley soup is considered an art-form. This is the version from the east of Switzerland, full of pork products – now cooked throughout the confederation.

2.4 litres water
4 smoked pork sausages, chopped small
250 g potatoes, chopped small
250 g bacon / ham, cubed
150 g cabbage, sliced
150 g carrots, cubed
1 leek, sliced
100 g barley, soaked overnight
100 g celeriac, chopped small
100 g onion, sliced
100 g white beans, soaked overnight
50 g butter
15 g sunflower oil
1 bay leaf
Chives, bunch, chopped
Pepper, large pinch
Salt, large pinch

Sweat cabbage, carrots, celeriac, leek and onions in butter and oil over a low heat, about 15 minutes. Add barley and beans, water, bay leaf and bacon or ham. Cook for three hours. Add potatoes and sausages after 150 minutes, cook for 30 minutes. Season, serve garnished with chives.

LEGENDARY DISHES


FRESH FRICOT | THE FRONT PAGE


EDITORIALS     EURO SNACKS     FOOD CONNECTIONS     FOOD STORIES     
GLOSSARY     HIGH FIVES     LEGENDARY DISHES     
RECIPES     REVIEWS     STREET MARKETS

 

Legendary Dishes | Fondue (aromatic cheeses, melted with wine, served with bread cubes) + Fondue Story

FRANCE | SWITZERLAND 

Cheese, garlic, kirsch, potato (or corn starch) and white wine are the essential ingredients of fondue. Emmental, Gruyère and Vacherin, the cheeses that form the base for a classic Swiss fondue, only tell part of its story.

Across from the railway station in Lausanne is a rising cobbled street. It leads to a busy road in the heart of the lakeside city. Located in an alleyway across from a nondescript church is the august establishment known as Café Romand. We looked around and wondered where we could sit. A sign above the kitchen celebrated the year 1951. Immediately we were transported into Switzerland’s past, when the country was still clinging to its culture, its traditions and its unique forms of language – Swiss-French along its western border with France, Swiss-German throughout almost two-thirds of its 26 cantons, Italian in the south and Romanche in the east. Yet here, on the rising shore of Lake Geneva, Café Romand epitomised this distinctiveness and uniqueness.

The Swiss are a courteous, generally friendly people with a strong sense of identity, an even stronger sense of belonging rooted in place, especially in the mountains. This is evident in the café.

A thin, gaunt woman dressed in a white apron and black dress, money belt hung loosely around her slight waist, asked us for patience. We waited. We were standing close to the kitchen, while waitresses darted in and out.

Meanwhile the waitress who had told us to be patient began dragging a smallish square table to an area between similar sized tables and several oblong tables joined together. She motioned for us to follow her.

In a flash she whipped out a white table cloth, produced cutlery from somewhere, chairs from somewhere else and told us to sit while she bought the menu cards. A badge on her waitress uniform told us she was Virginia.

We thanked her and ordered fondue. It was the reason we had come, ‘the best fondue in Lausanne is in the Café Romand,’ we were told.

It was. 

Then we heard an interesting story. The high mountains that divide France from Switzerland are believed to be the birthplace of this comforting winter dish and there is ample evidence to suggest that fondue is a product of the dairy farmers who have tended cattle for centuries on high meadows, in the areas of France and Switzerland once known as the Duchy of Savoy. It stretched across the Alps into Piedmont in Italy, and in the departments of Haute Savoy and Savoy in France and in the cantons of Vaud and the Valais the people shared the same food culture.

The western Swiss cantons of Fribourg, Jura, Neuchâtel and Vaud all specialise in fondue but Emmental, Gruyère and Vacherin – the classic cheeses that form the basis for a classic Swiss fondue – only tell part of the fondue story.

The Vacherin cheese of Fribourg is preferred by fondue aficionados because it adds full flavour to the mildness of the Emmental and the piquancy of the Gruyère – the combination for the classic Neuchâteloise.

Neuchâteloise, Moitié Moitié (half Gruyère, half Vacherin) and the fondue served in Salvan restaurants and along the valley canton are among the most popular with Swiss people. If you want to know which cheeses go into which fondues served high in the Alps you will have to ask. This is another clue to the origins of fondue.

More than likely you will be told a story about black and white cows, sonorous bells and hidden valleys. The semi-hard ‘delicious, fatty, sweet and soft’ cheeses of the Bagnes and Goms valleys are associated with the lively Hérens cows, as much a part of Swiss alpine scenery as the chalet and cable car, and the fondue of the region.

An older, more romantic fondue! Yet not that different from the fondue served in the valleys of Haute Savoy, across Lake Geneva, across the high peaks between the Valais canton.

High above Martigny in the valley canton of Switzerland, the picturesque town of Salvan is an alpine vision of perfection. Here, and all along the Trient valley towards Chamonix – the ski resort in the French Alps, the restaurants serve a special fondue made from mountain pasture cheese, in the tradition of their fore-bearers.

Of course the popularity of this amazing cheese dish may also have something to do with the tradition that demands punishment when a diner loses their bread in the fondue pot.

A man must buy a bottle of wine or a round of drinks.

A woman must kiss all the men in the company.

Fondue Savoyarde  (Savoy fondue – Beaufort, Emmentaler)

Made with milk from the abondance and tarine cows found grazing alpine flora. Beaufort is known as the prince of mountain cheeses in Haute Savoy and Savoy, and usually the principle ingredient in this distinctive fondue.

1 large farmhouse loaf, cut into cubes
400 g beaufort cheese, grated
400 g emmentaler cheese, grated
375 ml dry white wine
1 garlic clove, halved
Nutmeg, large pinch
Black pepper, large pinch
Fondue warmer

Rub the inside of the fondue pot (caquelon) with garlic. Add the cheeses white wine. Warm over a low heat, stirring thoroughly with a wooden spoon to obtain a smooth, blended mixture. Add pepper and grated nutmeg. Let the fondue cook for five more minutes, stirring constantly. Place the fondue pot over its warmer and enjoy the fondue by dipping the pieces of bread using long forks.

Fondue Rustique (origin fondue – Appenzeller, Emmental, Gruyère, Vacherin)

1 large farmhouse loaf, cut into cubes
300 ml white wine
200 g appenzeller cheese, grated
200 g gruyère cheese, grated
200 g smoked bacon, cubed
200 g vacherin fribourgeois cheese, grated
150 g ham, cut into thin strips
100 g emmentaler cheese, grated  
75 ml kirschwasser (sour cherry spirit – schnapps)
20 g potato starch
1 garlic clove, halved
Lemon juice, sash
1 sprig tarragon
Black pepper, pinch
Paprika, pinch 
Nutmeg, pinch
Fondue warmer

Sauté the bacon in a frying pan over a low heat. When the fat begins to separate add the ham strips and tarragon. Remove from heat. Rub fondue pot (caquelon) with the garlic clove. Add the cheeses, potato starch and wine, warm slowly. When the cheese starts to bubble on the surface, reduce heat, stir in the lemon juice and kirsch followed by the bacon and ham pieces. Season and leave the fondue to cook for five minutes over a low heat. Transfer the pot to its warmer and enjoy the fondue by dipping the pieces of bread using long forks.

Fondue Simpilär (Simplon – Gruyère, Raclette)

Less well known are the individual fondue of the mountain valleys. In their 2012 cookbook the farmer’s association of the Wallis canton offer a fondue made with local raclette and local wine.

400 g gruyère mature cheese, grated
400 g raclette full-fat cheese, grated
20 g cornstarch
20 ml Walliser white wine
1 garlic clove, halved
White bread, cubed

Rub caquelon with the garlic, add wine and reduce. Turn the heat low, stir in the cheese and allow to melt gradually. Make a paste with the cornstarch and a little wine. Add to the fondue and reduce. Serve with bread, keeping the fondue warm.

Fondue Neuchâtel (Emmental, Gruyère, Vacherin)

The classic fondue in Switzerland.

800 g mixture of emmental, gruyère, vacherin, grated
240 ml / 8 fl oz kirschwasser
35 ml / 1 fl oz white wine
20 g / ⅔ oz cornstarch
1 tsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, halved
nutmeg, grated
White bread, cubed

Usual procedure. Add the lemon juice with the cornstarch and wine, then the kirschwasser, finishing with the nutmeg.

Fondue Apfel Walnuss (Gruyère and Vacherin with apple and walnuts)
400 g gruyère cheese, grated
400 g vacherin Fribourgeois cheese, grated
240 ml apple brandy
50 g walnuts, coarsely chopped, toasted
40 ml white wine
20 g cornstarch
2 apples, diced small
2 garlic cloves, halved
Nutmeg, grated
Cayenne pepper, pinch
White bread, cubed

Replace kirschwasser with apple brandy. Once cheese is melted add walnuts, then carefully stir in the apple pieces. Finish with the cayenne and nutmeg.

Älpler Fondue (Appenzeller, Emmental mature, Emmental mild, Sprinz with macaroni and bacon)
350 g emmental mature cheese, grated
350 ml white wine
240 ml kirschwasser
200 g bacon, cut into strips
150 g appenzeller extra cheese, grated
150 g emmental mild cheese, grated
150 g sprinz, grated
20 g  cornstarch
15 g butter
1 garlic clove, chopped small
Pepper, pinch
Salt, large pinch
Älplermagronen (amount of choice)

Stir cornstarch into kirschwasser. Fry bacon and garlic in butter in the fondue pot. Deglaze with wine, add cheese. Stir until cheese melts, add cornstarch mixture. Season. Serve with älplermagronen.

LEGENDARY DISHES


FRESH FRICOT | THE FRONT PAGE


EDITORIALS     EURO SNACKS     FOOD CONNECTIONS     FOOD STORIES     
GLOSSARY     HIGH FIVES     LEGENDARY DISHES     
RECIPES     REVIEWS     STREET MARKETS

 

Legendary Dishes | Bratwürst mit Zwiebelsauce und Rösti (sausages with onion sauce and grated potatoes)

GERMANY SWITZERLAND

Potatoes 1 kg
St Galler sausages / pork-veal sausages x 4 (640 g)
Onion sauce 500 g

Zwiebelsauce GERMANY SWITZERLAND onion sauce

There is no agreed method for making onion sauce in Europe. Some cooks insist it should be aromatic and saucy, rich and strong, and have a smooth consistency, other cooks believe it can be lumpy and gooey, thick or thin, flour-based or tomato-based.

Cream Version
350 ml bouillon
200 g onions, sliced into rings
100 g shallots, sliced
100 ml red / white wine
45 ml sour cream 
30 g butter
30 g white wheat flour
Black pepper, large pinch
Salt, large pinch
Sugar, large pinch
2 sprigs thyme
1 sprigs rosemary
Lemon thyme leaves, for garnish

Pour the hot water into a bowl, add the bouillon powder and leave to soak. Combine flour and onions in a large bowl. Heat butter in a large frying pan, add the flour and onion mixture, and cook gently for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. De-glaze the pan with the wine, add the bouillon and choice of herb, simmer for 15 minutes. Add cream, simmer for five minutes, season. Serve hot with grilled sausages and fried grated potatoes, garnished with lemon thyme.

Tomato Version
350 ml bouillon / broth
200 g onions, sliced into rings
120 g tomato passata / sauce
100 g shallots, sliced
100 ml red / white wine 
30 g butter
Black pepper, large pinch
Salt, large pinch
Sugar, large pinch
2 sprigs thyme
1 sprigs rosemary
Lemon thyme leaves, for garnish

Pour the hot water into a bowl, add the bouillon powder and leave to soak. Heat butter in a large frying pan, add onions, sauté for five minutes until the onions start to brown. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes. De-glaze the pan with the wine, add the broth and choice of herb, simmer for 15 minutes. Add tomato sauce, simmer for 15 minutes, season. Serve hot with grilled sausages and fried grated potatoes, garnished with lemon thyme.

St. Galler Bratwürst SWITZERLAND pork-veal milk sausages

St-Galler-Bratwurst

The butchers‘ guild of St. Gallen in 1438 noted that the country bratwürst was made with veal, belly pork, spices and fresh milk, and had a distinctive white colour. Today the St. Galler bratwürst is a white unsmoked sausage made with veal, pork, spices and milk. Why change a good thing? This unique sausage is produced in the cantons of Appenzell, St. Gallen and Thurgau with meat and milk from Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Throughout its history it has been made with and without veal, an unthinkable thought today to those who cherish a bratwürst that is now an integral aspect of Swiss festival culture. The year 2013 was the 70th anniversary of the St. Galler bratwürst at the Olma agricultural fair. More than half a million bratwürst went on the grill. Many were eaten on their own, some with the brown rolls called bürli and not a spoonful of mustard in sight. They are difficult to make in the home because the technique requires equipment that will produce a fine emulsion of the meat, milk and spices. But not impossible. St Galler sausages are sold in Switzerland in 160 g x 2 packets.

370 g veal, minced
260 g bacon, minced
150 ml milk 
100 g pork, minced
25 g pork belly rind, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 onion, chopped
15 g salt
1 tsp coriander, ground
1 tsp ginger, ground
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp nutmeg, ground
1 tsp white pepper, ground
Mace, large pinch
Pork casings
Ice, crushed

Blend the celery, onions and rinds in milk until smooth, add minced meat and blend again. Adjust liquid content with some ice, add seasonings and blend again. This should produce a thick smooth paste. Pack into casings, 25mm long, and place in a large pot of boiling water. Cook for 30 minutes. The desired internal temperature of the bratwürst should be 72°C. Prepare a pot of ice cold water. Plunge bratwürst into water to cool down. Hang until dry. The St. Galler bratwürst should contain 37% veal, 26% bacon, 10% pork and 27% bulk, of which 25% must be milk, wet or dry. Mace and pepper are mandatory, but other spices can include a combination of cardamom, celery, coriander, ginger, leek, lemon, nutmeg and onion.

Zürcher Rösti SWITZERLAND Zurich pan-fried potatoes

Johann Jakob Strub brought the potato to Switzerland. A native of the canton Glarus, he was a lieutenant in the English army and according to legend returned home with a bag of seed potatoes from Ireland. Potatoes were cultivated in Glarus in 1697. They spread to the neighbouring cantons and by the middle of the 19th century prötlete herdöpfel, fried potatoes, replaced barley porridge as the preferred breakfast among farming families around the growing city of Zurich. The recipe travelled south-west into the Bernese countryside and over the mountains into the Roman canton of the Valais / Wallis, where it was called pommes de terre roties. It became the morning meal among the French-speaking farmers, who shortened the name to roties – rösti in Swiss-German. By the mid-20th century variations of the original recipe began to appear. The Roman west preferred boiled potatoes, the Germanic east used raw.

1 kg urgenta potatoes, grated, squeezed, dried
4 onions, sliced
30 g oil
15 g caraway seeds, soaked
Salt, large pinch

Mix onions and potatoes, and sauté in a frying pan over a medium heat for ten minutes. Place a plate on top of the frying pan, invert onto the plate. Oil pan and slide rösti back. Cook for 20 minutes.

The rösti story is told in The Great European Food Adventure.

Varieties and uses of European potatoes are discussed in the Fricot Edition pocket book Cooked, Cured and Curdled: The modern story of traditional food in Europe.

INDIGENOUS INGREDIENTS = St Galler Sausages

LEGENDARY DISHES


FRESH FRICOT | THE FRONT PAGE


EDITORIALS     EURO SNACKS     FOOD CONNECTIONS     FOOD STORIES     
GLOSSARY     HIGH FIVES     LEGENDARY DISHES     
RECIPES     REVIEWS     STREET MARKETS

 

Small Breads | Aprikosen-Brötli (milk bread rolls with apricots made with spelt)

SWITZERLAND

Apricots are synonomous with the Swiss valleys, so it is no surprise that they make their way into milk bread rolls. These apricot bread rolls are also made with a combination of semi-white flour and cornmeal. This version celebrates the Swiss love affair with spelt.

500 g white spelt flour
250 ml whole milk, warmed
100 g dried apricots, soaked in 150 ml mineral water for two hours, 
chopped small, re-soaked, liquid retained
60 g butter
50 ml apricot water 
30 g sugar
25 g yeast
5 g salt
Wheat flour for dusting

Dissolve yeast in milk and sugar. Sieve flour into a large bowl, add salt, work in the butter. Add yeast mixtureknead into a smooth dough. Leave to rise for 50 minutes, degas. Add apricots and sifficient water to make into a spongy dough. Rise again for an hour, degas. Divide dough into equal pieces, around 85 g each, shape into rolls, place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, leave to rise again, for 45 minutes. After 30 minutes dust the tops of the rolls, and make three cuts across each roll. Preheat oven to 200ºC. Bake for 25 minutes.


FRESH FRICOT | THE FRONT PAGE


EDITORIALS     EURO SNACKS     FOOD CONNECTIONS     FOOD STORIES     
GLOSSARY     HIGH FIVES     LEGENDARY DISHES     
RECIPES     REVIEWS     STREET MARKETS

 

Legendary Dishes | Älplermagronen (pasta, cheese and potatoes)

LIECHTENSTEIN SWITZERLAND

Peter Büchel of Restaurant Riet in Balzers, Liechtenstein makes this exquisite Alpine dish with strips of alpine green cabbage and dry-roasted oatmeal. This is the classic version.

1 litre milk / water
600 g waxy potatoes, peeled, cubed small
300 g large macaroni
300 g bergkäse (mountain cheese) / young Tilsiter cheese, grated thick
200 g onions, sliced into rings
100 ml cream
45 g ghee / clarified butter
30 g white spelt / white wheat flour
Black pepper, pinch
Nutmeg, pinch
Salt

Cook macaroni and potatoes in the milk or water with a pinch of salt until the pasta is al dente and the potatoes are tender, drain, place in a bowl, coat with cheese, cover and keep warm. Coat onion rings in flour. Heat ghee or butter in a large frying pan. Toss onion rings in the ghee or butter until crispy. Bring cream to the boil, pour over the cheese, macaroni and potato mixture – the älplermagronen. Season. Serve onion rings on top of the älplermagronen.

LIECHTENSTEIN
Älplermagronen mit Wirz (alpine macaroni with green cabbage)
400 g green cabbage, stalks removed, cut into thin strips
400 g macaroni / penne
250 ml milk
250 ml water
200 g Appenzeller, grated
150 g onion, sliced
30 ml rapeseed oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
10 g bouillon powder
Nutmeg, large pinch
Pepper, large pinch
Salt, pinch

Cook macaroni until al dente. Sauté onion in the rapeseed oil over a medium heat in a large, deep frying pan. Add garlic and cabbage. Sauté for five minutes. Increase heat, add milk and bring to the boil. Add water, bring to the boil. Add bouillon, reduce heat to low, simmer for five minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Drain macaroni, add to the sauce. Stir cheese into the sauce, season with nutmeg.

INDIGENOUS INGREDIENTS = Appenzeller Cheese | Swiss Bergkäse Cheese | Green Cabbage | Swiss Milk | Swiss Potatoes | Swiss Spelt | Tilsiter Cheese

LEGENDARY DISHES


FRESH FRICOT | THE FRONT PAGE


EDITORIALS     EURO SNACKS     FOOD CONNECTIONS     FOOD STORIES     
GLOSSARY     HIGH FIVES     LEGENDARY DISHES     
RECIPES     REVIEWS     STREET MARKETS

 

Legendary Dishes | Eintopf (Alpine stew)

EINTÖPF (KALBSEINTÖPF)

Alpine cookery is characterised by an enduring love affair with the traditional produce of the valleys – apples, barley, beef, cabbage, cheese, freshwater fish, game, goat, herbs, mutton, onions, pork, potatoes – which come together in soups, stews, strudels and stuffed dumplings, and sometimes in leftover combinations.

Among this tradition is the pot-stew, known collectively as eintöpf — one of the oldest traditional dishes in Europe. It started as a pot of reconstituted dried meat, greens and cereals, and over the centuries evolved with no one basic or standard recipe.

This alpine stew is now made with an assortment of flower, leaf, pod and root vegetables, potatoes, dumplings or rice, and meat (bacon, beef, chicken, pork, sausage, veal) cooked in a stock accentuated with cream, fresh or sour, or tomatoes or both for the sauce. Herbs are a typical garnish, and bread is usually served with the stew.

The ingredients are seasonal. In the homes the recipes for the stews throughout the year will be based on family tradition. This is veal and potato stew.

1.5 kg / 3 lbs 4⅔ oz potatoes whole, boiled, peeled, sliced 
600 g / 1lb 8⅓ oz whole veal piece, roasted, sliced 
160 g / 5⅓ oz butter 
1 onion, large, chopped 
15 g / 1 tbsp marjoram, chopped 
Sauce from roast veal 
Salt, pinch 
Pepper, pinch 
Parsley, handful, chopped

Brown onion in half of the butter in a wide frying pan. Turn up heat, add veal and stir into the onions. Quickly add potatoes and remaining butter. Reheat roast sauce. Turn down heat, continue to stir, seasoning with bay, marjoram, pepper and salt. Pour sauce into pan, mix and serve in a heated dish, garnished with parsley.

LEGENDARY DISHES


FRESH FRICOT | THE FRONT PAGE


EDITORIALS     EURO SNACKS     FOOD CONNECTIONS     FOOD STORIES     
GLOSSARY     HIGH FIVES     LEGENDARY DISHES     
RECIPES     REVIEWS     STREET MARKETS

 

Festive Food | Roasted Almonds

RoastedAlmonds-lowres

 

Gebrannte Mandeln
AUSTRIA GERMANY SWITZERLAND
roasted almonds

 

They are crispy and sweet, very addictive, and are probably the world’s oldest confection. They are sugared nuts, almonds in particular, which were a favourite treat with the ancient Romans. Sugared almonds were given as gifts and according to Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat they were distributed at private and public ceremonies.

Almonds and hazelnuts have been coated in a syrup made originally from honey, then from molasses and nowadays beet or cane sugar, and served as a festive treat for countless centuries.

These days it is the method that is a keen subject for debate and the amount of sugar. Once apon a time the ratio was 3:2 in favour of sugar, now it is 3:2 or 2:1 in favour of the nuts, mostly almonds, especially in central, northern and western Europe.

From Italy the idea of combining spices with sugar and coating almonds and pine kernels with the caramelised mixture caught on in France, where these confections became associated with fairs and festivals.

In the Germanic countries, cinnamon, sugar, vanilla-flavoured sugar and water are brought to the boil, almonds are added and slowly cooked in the syrup. The coated nuts are poured out onto a sheet greased with butter, separated and left to cool.

In England the nuts are roasted in the oven and then added hot to a sugar and water syrup. Because of the formation of acrylamide, a chemical identified as a possible carcinogen, during the roasting of almonds the oven temperature should be at 129°C or lower.

The Spanish largueta almond is regarded as the perfect variety for this delicious confection, because of its intense flavour.

This is the German version with reduced sugar.

 

200 g largueta almonds, unpeeled
50 g sugar
50 g vanilla sugar
50 ml water
5 g cinnamon
Butter, for greasing

 

Boil the sugars with cinnamon and water, add almonds and cook over a low heat stirring constantly until the water has been absorbed and the sugar begins to dry. Spoon the sugared almonds onto a buttered baking sheet. Separate the almonds with two forks, leave to cool.

European Comfort Food | Potato Pies

MeatandPotatoPie-lowres

Potatoes epitomise the rural relationship with food throughout northern and central Europe, but rarely are they combined with anything more than cheese, eggs, fish, meat and milk, especially in pies, which tend to be a marriage with meat and their juices or with the mountain cheese. So why wouldn’t you make a potato pie with the fruits of the forest or the fruits of the orchard?

In Terchová in Slovakia the potato pie is a cake that combines the savoury with the sweet, with berries and nuts. In the Wallis in Switzerland the potato pie contains apples and pears as well as cheese. In Lancashire in England the potato pie is a variation of the traditional Irish mutton stew encased in pastry.

 

Terchovej Zemiakový Koláč
SLOVAKIA
potato cake of Terchová

The Terchová region in Slovakia is reknown for its local produce. This potato cake makes use of indigenous ingredients, and the choice is personal. We have adapted a recipe from the 2003 book of old recipes by Cabadaj and Cross.

 

550 g flour 
400 g potatoes, boiled in skins
250 g blueberry / raspberry jamSlovakPotatoCake-lowres
150 g sugar
100 g almonds / walnuts, ground
100 g pork fat / sunflower oil
1 egg
30 g vanilla sugar
15 g yeast
Salt, large pinch
Butter, for greasing
Sugar, for finish
Water, for finish

 

Rub the potato and fat or oil into the flour. Beat the yeast into the egg, leave for 15 minutes, add to the mixture followed by the sugar and salt. Knead the dough, leave for an hour, degas, divide into two equal pieces. On a floured board roll each piece out to the size of a large round baking tin. Grease tin, place first piece of dough in the bottom, even out, and spread with jam. Sprinkle choice of ground nuts and vanilla sugar on top of jam, cover with the second piece of dough. Pierce surface of cake. Bake in a 180ºC oven for 45 minutes, until the cake is brown. Finish with water and a sprinkling of sugar. Leave to cool.

 

Zemiakový Koláč
SLOVAKIA
potato pie

This traditional cheese and potato pie has gone through so many variations it now resembles the quiche of eastern France and western Germany or the borek of the Balkans, made with the relevant cheeses. Traditionally this pie was filled with bryndza, the mountain cheese, encased in a milkly yeast dough. For a softer filling cream was used instead of butter.

 

Dough
550 g flour
300 ml milk, warmed
45 g pork fat
20 g yeast
5 g salt
5 g sugar
Pork fat / lard, for dressing
Filling
600 g potatoes, cooked, skinned, mashed
400 g bryndza, crumbled
30-60 g sour cream (45 g butter)
Black pepper, large pinch
Salt, pinch

 

Dissolve yeast in the warm milk and a teaspoon of sugar, whisk. Add salt to the flour and rub in the pork fat (or lard). Pour in the milk and yeast mixture. Knead into a smooth dough, leave to rise for an hour. Combine the cheee and potatoes with the cream or butter and seasonings. Divide dough into two equal pieces, roll out on a floured surface into thin sheet to fit choice of baking tray. Greased tray, fold in the first sheet, cover with filling, top with remaining dough sheet. Melt a tablespoon of fat or lard and brush surface of dough. Pierce surface with fork. Bake at 180°C for 45 minutes.

 

Cholera
SWITZERLAND
apple, cheese, pear, potato pie

The 1830s were difficult for the people of the hidden Swiss valleys. Cholera swept across the land, confining people to their homes, where they relied on the stable foods of the land. Out of adversity a traditional dish emerged and survives today.

 

500 g puff pastry
400 g potatoes, boiled whole, peeled, sliced 
400 g raclette cheese, sliced
250 g Gala apples, sliced
250 g Bosc pears, sliced
150 g leeks, halved, sliced, braised in butter 
Egg for glaze
Seasonings
Nutmeg, grated

 

Preheat oven to 215°C.

Cover the base and sides of a cake tin with pastry.

Prick the base lightly with a fork. Layer evenly with apple followed by the potato, leeks and onions.

Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Lay cheese on top, then a pastry lid, press edges of pastry together, prick lightly with a fork in several places.

Brush with egg and bake for an hour.

The traditional Gommer Cholera contained equal amounts of apple, cabbage and potato, half the amount of cheese, and was baked using a plain pastry dough.

 

Meat and Potato Pie with Peppered Hot Pastry Crust
ENGLAND

Meat and potato pies are a traditional dish of northern England, especially the counties of Cheshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire, where the combination has always formed the basis for a hearty meal. Packed in a pastry it becomes portable.

These pies have never been a home-baked product, largely because they have always been ubiquitous in the cafe and chip shop culture of north-west England, Holland’s version being the most popular of the mass-produced brands.

Made with beef, potato and yeast extract in a shortcrust pastry, Holland’s meat and potato pies are also synonymous with sporting events.

Meat and potato pies, as they are known today, began as a workhouse product, are probably related to Irish mutton pies, and were hardly known as a recipe in cookbooks.

 

Filling
1 kg potatoes, peeled, quartered
750 g lamb, cut into 2 cubes
750 g onions, chopped
30 g black pepper, freshly ground
25 g salt
Water

 

This is essentially an Irish stew recipe. The quantity is much more than you will need for the filling.

Arrange lamb in the bottom of a large pot, turn heat to medium and allow fat to run out of the bones.

Stack potatoes on top of the lamb, then the onions and seasoning, more pepper than salt.

Fill the pot with water, three-quarters up to the level of the onions, bring to the boil.

Cover, turn heat to lowest setting and cook for three hours.

The result should be a thick meat and potato stew, with the onions completely melted.

 

Dough
450 g strong white flour
150 ml water
125 g lard
10 g pepper
10 g salt
5 g icing sugar

 

Bring the lard and water to the boil.

Sieve flour and salt into a large bowl, add pepper and sugar.

Pour the hot liquid into a well in the centre of the flour, and using a sturdy wooden spoon quickly form into a soft dough.

Divide dough into eight equal pieces (approximately 90 g each), cut again – two thirds for the base, one third for the lid.

Push the dough into the bottom and sides of small deep pie tins, diameter 8 cms.

Preheat oven to 220°C.

Pack the tins with the filling, roll the remaining dough out, place over the top of the filling, crimping the edges. Pierce a hole in the centre of the lid.

Reduce oven temperature to 180°C, bake for 90 minutes.

 

Fish and Potato Pie
ENGLAND SCOTLAND

Always thought of as a fish pie rather than a potato pie, this traditional dish combined ingredients that have always come together. Baking the fish in a cheese sauce topped with mashed potato and grated cheese made this dish a meal instead of a snack.

 

1 kg assorted smoked and unsmoked fish fillets, 
fresh or frozen, cut into bite sized pieces
1 kg potatoes, cooked, riced
600 ml milk
200 g mature melting cheese, grated
40 g butter
40 g flour
25 g parsley, chopped
15 g black pepper, freshly ground

 

Make a light roux. Remove pan from heat, whisk milk a little at a time into the mixture. Back on the heat bring to the boil stirring constantly. Turn heat to low, stir in half the cheese.

Add parsley and pepper, allow to cool.

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Arrange fish in ovenproof dish, pour sauce over fish and finish with potato and remaining cheese.

Bake for 45 minutes until crisp and golden, and piping hot in the middle.

The Fondue Story

GstaadCheeseGrotto

Across from the railway station in Lausanne is a rising cobbled street. It leads to a busy road in the heart of the lakeside city. Located in an alleyway across from a nondescript church is the august establishment known as Café Roman. We looked around and wondered where we could sit. A sign above the kitchen celebrated the year 1951. Immediately we were transported into Switzerland’s past, when the country was still clinging to its culture, its traditions and its unique forms of language – Swiss-French along its western border with France, Swiss-German throughout almost two-thirds of its 26 cantons, Italian in the south and Romanche in the east. Yet here, on the rising shore of Lake Geneva, Café Roman epitomised this distinctiveness and uniqueness.

CafeRoman

The Swiss are a courteous, generally friendly people with a strong sense of identity, an even stronger sense of belonging rooted in place, especially in the mountains.

A thin, gaunt woman dressed in a white apron and black dress, money belt hung loosely around her slight waist, asked us for patience. We waited. We were standing close to the kitchen, while waitresses darted in and out.

Meanwhile the waitress who had told us to be patient began dragging a smallish square table to an area between similar sized tables and several oblong tables joined together. She motioned for us to follow her.

In a flash she whipped out a white table cloth, produced cutlery from somewhere, chairs from somewhere else and told us to sit while she bought the menu cards. A badge on her waitress’ uniform told us she was Virginia.

We thanked her and ordered fondue. It was the reason we had come, ‘the best fondue in Lausanne is in the Café Roman,’ we were told.

It was.

Then we heard an interesting story. This very Swiss dish apparently originated across the lake in Haute Savoie.

FONDUE SAVOYARDE

400 g Beaufort 
400 g Emmental
375 ml dry white wine
1 garlic clove, halved
Nutmeg, large pinch
Black pepper, large pinch
1 large farmhouse loaf, cut into cubes

Rub the inside of the fondue pot with garlic. Grate the cheese and place it in the fondue pot. Cover with white wine. Warm over a low heat, stirring thoroughly with a wooden spoon to obtain a smooth, blended mixture. Add pepper and grated nutmeg. Let the fondue cook for five more minutes, stirring constantly.Place the fondue pot over its warmer and enjoy the fondue by dipping the pieces of bread using long forks.

 

The Savoy and Jura mountains that divide France from Switzerland are believed to be the birthplace of this comforting winter dish and there is ample evidence to suggest that fondue is a product of the dairy farmers who have tended cattle for centuries on high meadows.

The western Swiss cantons of Fribourg, Jura, Neuchâtel and Vaud all specialise in fondue but Appenzeller, Emmental, Gruyère, Raclette and Vacherin – the classic cheeses that form the basis for a classic Swiss fondue – only tell part of the story.

The Vacherin cheese of Fribourg is preferred by fondue AppenzellerClassic-low-resaficionados because it adds full flavour to the mildness of the Emmental and the piquancy of the Gruyère – the combination for the classic Neuchâteloise.

Neuchâteloise, Moitié Moitié (half Gruyère, half Vacherin) and the fondue served in Salvan restaurants and along the valley canton are among the most popular with Swiss people.

But if you want to know which cheeses go into which fondues served in the Alps you will have to ask.

It is in these mountains that fondue makes its reputation, as chefs compete with each other to produce the ‘perfect’ fondue.

And they are not going to give away their trade secrets.

Of course the popularity of this amazing cheese dish may also have something to do with the tradition that demands punishment when a diner loses their bread in the fondue pot.

A man must buy a bottle of wine or a round of drinks.

A woman must kiss all the men in the company.

 

FONDUE

Ideally fondue should be made in a caquelon, heavy-bottomed saucepans that come in various sizes, and served on a stand over a burner to keep the mixture in a semi-liquid state.

2 Baquettes, cut into cubes
400 g Gruyere, grated
400 g Vacherin Fribourgeois, grated
300 ml dry white wine
1 garlic clove, crushed
15 g cornstarch, dissolved in 20 ml kirsch
5 g white pepper
4 fondue forks

Rub garlic around the caquelon, add the cheese followed by the wine and cornstarch mixture. Melt gradually over low heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spatula. Finish with the pepper.

 

FONDUE NEUCHÂTEL

The classic fondue in Switzerland.

800 g Emmental, Gruyère, Vacherin Fribourgeois, grated
240 ml kirsch
20 g cornstarch, dissolved in 35 ml white wine 
and 1 tsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, halved
nutmeg, grated
White bread, cubed

Rub garlic around the caquelon, add the cheese followed by the kirsch and cornstarch mixture. Melt gradually over low heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spatula. Finish with the pepper.

Culinary Connections | Armenia Switzerland Turkey

 

Yoghurt

The recipes for kalajosh by Vartanoosh Onigian and Rose Terzian in the 1973 book Adventures in Armenian Cooking by St. Gregory’s Armenian Apostolic Church of Indian Orchard, Massachusetts, U.S.A. remain the default standards for this traditional dish in American-English.

In the years since the book went out of print and became available online, these versions have travelled through hyper-space onto recipe sites and personal blogs without acknowledgement to the original source.

This, sadly, has allowed those who sought and still seek to interpret the dish to get it wrong. When the people of St Gregory’s published their book they expected to sell it locally as a fundraiser. They did not expect it to become a best-seller, and that meant that the easier recipe, by Terzian, became more popular than the slightly complicated recipe by Onigian.

Terzian stated: ‘Saute meat and onion in a quarter of a cup of olive oil, add salt, pepper and garlic. Cook until tender. Add bread cubes, stirring lightly until browned. Spoon yogurt over meat when serving.’

It could not have been more simple, and with the ingredients easily available to north Americans the recipe by Terzian is now stuck in a default position.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the Terzian recipe. But it does not explain the purpose of the dish or its place in the traditional cuisine of Armenia, whereas the recipe by Onigian contains hidden mysteries.

Lamb has always been a reliable source of protein for the peoples of eastern Anatolia and the trans-Caucasus. By combining the lamb with yoghurt, the Armenians were paying homage to one of their oldest culinary traditions. And by transforming their own sweet yoghurt (known as manzoon or macun) into a sauce to accompany the slow-cooked lamb they are acknowledging the role that traditional food plays in their culture, one of the oldest in the world.

Onigian suggests mixing manzoon or yoghurt with egg and water to make the sauce. Some cooks also add flour and use a thick home-made yoghurt (see recipe below).

Modern versions of kalajosh can be made with large pieces of lean lamb. Traditionally the lamb is cubed, in some recipes into small cubes that reduce further in size during cooking and resemble mince in the finished dish.

A meat stock instead of water is preferred to produce a richer flavour. Seasonings should be treated with respect. Too much salt will ruin this dish while black pepper and paprika will add an aromatic depth to contrast the sweetness of the manzoon sauce.

It is believed that kalajosh has a Persian origin. Armenians will probably argue that notion with you and insist that this rich traditional dish has nothing to do with the period when the Ottomans ruled the region, or with any other influence.

Professor Gürsoy, in his reflections on Armenian and Turkish culture, argues that both societies shared culinary traditions, and notes the historical influences of Arabia, Greece, Persia and Syria.

The professor refers to Adventures in Armenian Cooking as a common denominator between these cultures in north America. The book, the professor says, ‘includes information about Armenian food names, their ingredients and methods of cooking’.

‘Food … is a cultural category which defines societies, and common food is an important element which shows the interaction of the societies.

‘Armenians … from the population of the Ottoman Empire still carried on their food culture after migrating to the US.’

Professor Gürsoy identifies numerous dishes shared by the food cultures of the region. Not surprisingly, the professor asserts, there are many similarities between Anatolian, Turkish and Armenian dishes. Interestingly kalajosh is not one of them.

Here is the anomaly. Terzian’s recipe is very close to yogurtlu yahni, a Turkish dish (below) whereas Onigian’s recipe is faithful to Armenian traditions. Yet Terzian’s is regarded by Americans as genuinely Armenian, when it is clearly influenced by Turkish culture.

Kalajosh

800 g lamb, boneless shoulder 
cut into small cubes less than 2 cm
600 ml meat stock
400 g onions, chopped small
100 g apricot, dried, sliced thin
45 ml olive oil
30 g paprika
10 g black pepper
Salt, large pinch

Gently warm the stock in a large pot.

Sauté a third of the cubed meat in a splash of olive oil over a medium heat in a heavy-based frying pan.

When the fat and juices separate from the meat, pour contents of the pan into the stock pot, deglaze pan with a little of the stock.

Repeat with the remaining oil and meat.

Add onions to the stock pot. Season with salt, pepper and paprika. Cover and simmer for 60 minutes on a low heat.

Remove lid, simmer and reduce for a further 45 minutes.

500 g yoghurt, thick sweet
50 ml water, mineral
30 g semolina
1 egg

Beat egg into yoghurt, loosen with the water.

Pour into a saucepan and bring slowly to a low boil.

3 two-day old dry pideh breads, cut into small pieces.
Mint, fresh, cut into strips

Place bread in soup bowls, spoon hot yoghurt on top followed by the meat and onion mixture. Leave to soak into the bread. Finish with a little more of each. Garnish with mint and serve with rice.

Yogurtlu Yahni

1 kg lamb, cut into 4 cm cubes, salted
250 ml yoghurt
200 g onions, small, quartered
75 ml water
15 g butter
15 g vegetable oil
10 g herb (dill/mint/parsley), rough chopped 
10 g salt
Water, for diluting yoghurt

Sauté lamb in butter and oil in a large wide frying pan over a low heat for 15 minutes.

Pour a third of the water into the pan, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Repeat every 15 minutes. Cook in total for 75 minutes, until the lamb in tender.

Stir the herbs into the meat.

Loosen yoghurt with a little water.

Put the meat in a large dish, the yoghurt in a jug and allow diners to help themselves. Serve with pide bread.

Manzoon

1 litre milk
250 ml double cream
80 g milk powder
60 ml manzoon/yoghurt

Bring milk to below boiling point in a large saucepan. Remove from heat, stir in milk powder and cream and cool to 45°C.

Preheat oven to 80°C.

Loosen the manzoon/yoghurt with a little of the warm milk.

Pour the warm milk into a large ovenproof bowl, stir in the manzoon/yoghurt.

Reduce oven heat to 45°C.

After four hours the new batch of manzoon/yoghurt should be thick and have a sour-sweet flavour.

Allow to cool, then refrigerate.

Jajik/Jajukh

Popular in both Armenia and Turkey, this summer dish is featured in Adventures in Armenian Cooking as jajukh.

500 g cucumbers, peeled, cubed small
500 g manzoon/yoghurt
50 ml chilled water
4 garlic cloves, crushed and mashed
1 tsp dried mint/1 tbsp fresh mint (crushed/chopped)
Salt, large pinch

Beat yoghurt into a smooth consistency, loosen with water, add garlic and salt.

Mix cucumber into yoghurt, chill for two hours.

Serve with a garnish of fresh (or dried) mint.

Spas

Traditionally this yoghurt soup was made with wheat berries, which were pre-cooked.

It is also made with pre-cooked rice.

This is the semolina version.

250 g manzoon
125 ml water
100 g semolina
65 g onion, chopped
1 egg
10 g butter
10 g flour
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
Salt, pinch

Whisk egg in a bowl, add flour and a third of the manzoon and the water.

Pour into a saucepan, add remaining manzoon, semolina and salt.

Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, heat the mixture until the semolina is cooked.

Add onions and butter, heat through, about three minutes.

Bircher Müesli

Named after Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner, who proclaimed the restorative powers of raw fruit, berries, grain flakes, nuts and seeds as the first meal of the day, this breakfast dish is now a favourite throughout Europe, especially in Armenia where tangy manzoon complements the sour-sweet apples, berries and oranges.

200 g manzoon
200 g berries 
150 g apple cubes
100 ml dairy milk/soya milk
100 g grain flakes (barley, rye, spelt)
100 g orange segments
50 g honey
20 g almonds, chopped
20 g hazelnuts, chopped
20 g sunflower seeds

Blend half of the fruits with manzoon and milk, stir in flakes, nuts and seeds.

Pour honey on top, refrigerate overnight.

Serve with remaining fruits.

[Ingredient] Spelt

AndrewWorkman&SpeltField
Andrew Workman surveys one of his spelt fields in Dunany, county Louth, Ireland

Lucius Annaeus Seneca was the most distinguished of the Spanish writers of the Roman imperial age.

Born in Corduba in Andalucia to a Roman equestrian family, Seneca was brought to Rome as a child and seemed destined for a political career. Instead, he became a stoic philosopher, producing wise words that carry moral echoes down the ages to us.

Seneca grew up in a Rome that distributed welfare in the form of free grain, spelt among barley and emmer, an expedient consequence of the food riots, 60 years before he was born, in 59 BC.

An ancient hardy grass thought to be native to both Persia 8,000 years ago and south-eastern Europe 4,000 years ago, spelt was cultivated throughout the continent from the Caucasus to Scandinavia.

Three thousand years ago, river valley communities in the south of Ireland were cooking with spelt berries.

The ancient Greeks and Romans expanded its use. Roman armies lived on spelt (along with barley), making an early version of polenta.

Nearly one thousand years ago, Abbess Hildegard von Bingen of Rupertsberg wrote enthusiastically about spelt. ‘It makes people cheerful with a friendly disposition,’ she said. ‘Those who eat it have healthy flesh and good blood.’

Spelt has been making a comeback in recent decades, largely in southern Germany and in nothern Switzerland, where older varieties have been cultivated.

Known as urdinkel (old spelt), the range of flours milled from spelt are going into every type of bread and pastry, replacing wheat in many recipes.

It is also becoming increasingly popular in Ireland, where Andrew and Leonie Workman grow, mill and package spelt berries and flour from their farm in Dunany, on the coast below the ancient land of Oriel above the Boyne Valley.

Spelt, with barley, einkorn and emmer wheat, remained a staple in Europe until the 20th century, when it fell out of favour for numerous reasons, not least the problems associated with harvesting, separating and milling it into flour.

The Workmans have got round these problems with modern machinery. Now spelt is one of their biggest sellers and they have high hopes for the berries, which can be used in salads and stews, to make risotto and soaked whole to be baked in bread.

SpeltBerries
Spelt Berries

Dominick Gryson, a Louth man who has experimented with ancient grains to find strong shafts for thatching, believes the Workmans have found a great artisan product.

‘Spelt does not give the same yield as modern wheats, which do not grow well here in our climate,’ he says. ‘Spelt, on the other hand, is suited to the soil and the climate and can be sold as a high-value organic product.’

Dermot Seberry, who champions the Workmans’ produce in his book, A Culinary Journey in the North-East (of Ireland), agrees. ‘They fit in with the super food group and are a substitute for risotto rice and barley in the likes of stews and black pudding,’ he says.

‘For me, it is personal. They are low-gluten and have high nutritional content, particularly for the over-thirties, who have become hyper aware of inner health. Not a trending product but very much the next big little food!’

Spelt contains beneficial minerals, unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins (B and E), and has six of the eight essential amino acids that stimulate the production of happiness hormones, just as the abbess said.

But it is the low GI (glycaemic index of carbohydrates) that makes spelt a primary health product. With 35 compared to 40 for wheat and 70 for rice, spelt releases glucose more slowly into the bloodstream, balancing out blood sugar levels.

Spelt saved the early Roman Empire but it also sustained the tribes of barbarians who brought about the fall of Rome and allowed their descendants to supplant Roman power throughout Europe.

Something that powerful is worth promoting, especially now that modern wheat has lost its allure and the wisdom of the ancients, Seneca and von Bingen among them, is finally being listened to.


FRESH FRICOT | THE FRONT PAGE


EDITORIALS     EURO SNACKS     FOOD CONNECTIONS     FOOD STORIES     
GLOSSARY     HIGH FIVES     LEGENDARY DISHES     
RECIPES     REVIEWS     STREET MARKETS

Breads of Europe | Breakfast Breads – Swiss | Mutschli | Milchbrötchen

Apfelmost-Brotchen-Cut-Out

Wheat Version

 

600 g white wheat flour (t550)
280 ml milk, lukewarm
1 egg separated
50 g butter, softened
30 g honey
35 g leaven
15 g barley malt
20 g yeast
Salt, large pinch

 

Sieve flour into a large bowl, add salt. Work butter into flour.

Dissolve yeast in the milk with the honey.

Pour into flour, add egg white, and knead into a soft dough.

Leave to rise for an hour, degas, leave for a further hour.

Divide dough into 50 g balls, knead, place on buttered baking tray and leave for an hour.

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Brush rolls with beaten egg yolk loosened with a little milk.

After 20 minutes when the buns are turning golden brown spray cold water into the top of the oven.

Repeat again within two minutes. Remove buns from oven eight minutes later.

 

Spelt Version

 

500 g white spelt flour
200 ml milk
50 ml milk, lukewarm
20 g yeast
Salt, large pinch
Flour, for dusting

 

Dissolve yeast in 50 ml of milk, add two tablespoons of flour, stir and leave to foam, about an hour.

Sieve flour into a bowl, add salt and yeast mixture. Knead into a smooth dough.

Leave to rise for an hour, degas, leave for a further hour.

Shape into 50 g balls, place on buttered tray. Leave to rise, 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Brush rolls with water, followed by a dusting of flour.

Bake for 30 minutes.

 

FRESH FRICOT | THE FRONT PAGE


EDITORIALS     EURO SNACKS     FOOD CONNECTIONS     FOOD STORIES     
GLOSSARY     HIGH FIVES     LEGENDARY DISHES     
RECIPES     REVIEWS     STREET MARKETS

Legendary Dishes | Rösti (grated potatoes)

Switzerland

 

Across from the railway station in Lausanne is a rising cobbled street. It leads to a busy road in the heart of the lakeside city. Tucked in beside St Francois church is the august establishment known as Café Romand.

Under the auspices of Madame Christiane Péclat and her chef cuisinier Thierry Lagegre, it is rustic charm and serves some of the best traditional food in Switzerland.

mittelfrueh_urgenta_a
Urgenta

If you are lucky you’ll get a two-person table by the wide window looking out at those looking in, wondering what you are going to eat. If rösti is on your plate you might get a jealous look.

Lagegre makes it with parboiled semi-waxy potatoes, in the fashion of the Bernese. When UNESCO recognised the Bernese for their craftiness with this Swiss treat they knew what they were doing.

So there is an irony about a restaurant in Roman Switzerland perfecting a dish with a legendary association to the Germanic cantons of Switzerland.

We’ll come back to this.

 

Berner Rösti

 

1 kg potatoes, parboiled whole in skins 
a day before use, refrigerate or freeze dry
50 g bacon, diced
30 g butter
30 ml milk
Salt, large pinch

Grate potatoes and mix with salt.

Heat a large frying pan, add a third of the butter and oil, making sure to cover all the surface and up to the rim, turn heat to low.

Add bacon and potato, fry, pressing down with a spatula to form a cake. After ten minutes add another third of the butter and oil all round the edge of the rösti cake.

When the edges start to harden and crisp, shake the pan to make sure the potato mix has not stuck to the base. Cover with a plate and fry for another ten minutes until the underside has formed a golden crust.

Turn the rösti over by inverting the pan and plate, leaving it on the plate, and sliding it back into the pan.

Add the remaining third of the butter-oil around the edges. Leave to fry for ten minutes. Finally pour the milk over the rösti, cover and cook for ten minutes. The milk will evaporate.

Lard should be used but low fat butter mixed with vegetable oil is a viable option. Crafty cooks use goose fat laced with oil because it brings up the golden colour.

 

Zürcher Rösti

 

Johann Jakob Strub brought the potato to Switzerland. A native of the canton Glarus, he was a lieutenant in the English army and according to legend returned home with a bag of seed potatoes from Ireland.

Potatoes were cultivated in Glarus in 1697.

They spread to the neighbouring cantons and by the middle of the 19th century prötlete herdöpfel, fried potatoes, replaced barley porridge as the preferred breakfast among farming families around the growing city of Zurich.

The recipe travelled south-west into the Bernese countryside and over the mountains into the Roman canton of the Valais, where it was called pommes de terre roties.

It became the morning meal among the French-speaking farmers, was shortened to roties – rösti in Swiss-German.

By the mid-20th century variations of the original recipe began to appear.

The Roman west preferred boiled potatoes, the Germanic east used raw.

 

1 kg potatoes, grated, squeezed and dried
4 onions, sliced
30 g oil
15 g caraway seeds, soaked
Salt, large pinch

 

Mix onions and potatoes, and sauté in a frying pan over a medium heat for ten minutes.

Place a plate on top of the frying pan, invert onto the plate. Oil pan and slide rösti back. Cook for 20 minutes.

 

 

The Rösti Divide

 

The divide is longer between east and west, boiled and raw, lard and oil, it is between good rösti and bad rösti.

The secret to the success of rösti lies with the choice of potato, and how it is prepared.

fruehe_sirtema_a
Sirtema
fruehe_christa_a
Lady Christa
fruehe_ostara_a
Ostara

Starch content is crucial. It should be low to medium.

Generally mealy potatoes do not make good rösti and generally waxy potatoes are too firm, but these rules do not always apply.
It is the water in the potatoes
that makes a difference.

Swiss Agriculture recommend the Lady Christa, Ostara, Sirtema, Urgenta and Victoria varieties, which are all firm potatoes in the middle range.

The perfect rösti should be compact and crisp, and not greasy.

To achieve this, the potatoes – cooked or raw – must grate evenly and hold their cut shape.

Cooked potatoes are cooled in a fast-freezer, raw potatoes are cooled in a water bath. Then they are grated in a food processor for less than a minute.

Home chefs face challenges here.

Leaving them overnight in a cold place is how they did it in past days, and today the fridge will achieve the same aim – cool the potato for grating.

Whatever the choice, the grated potatoes must go into the pan or skillet immediately.

Butter or lard is still the preferred frying medium but the use of oil, sunflower in particular, is becoming popular. The next secret is controlling the heat and gas is preferred to electric, to prevent the rösti cake from burning.

And the final secret is experimentation – like all simple cooking!

 

Rösti Ursprünglich

Old style rösti. Recipe in Ice Travel and Snow Food: Culinary Adventures in Western Switzerland.

Rösti mit langsamen Bratkartoffeln

The idea of making rösti with slow-cooked roast potatoes sounds like a new idea. It’s not. Making rösti with leftover roast potatoes was always a tradition, it just never caught on in the cafes, diners and restaurants until now.

Recipe in Ice Travel and Snow Food: Culinary Adventures in Western Switzerland.

 

 

 Potato photographs courtesy of Swiss Agriculture


FRESH FRICOT | THE FRONT PAGE


EDITORIALS     EURO SNACKS     FOOD CONNECTIONS     FOOD STORIES     
GLOSSARY     HIGH FIVES     LEGENDARY DISHES     
RECIPES     REVIEWS     STREET MARKETS

Legendary Dishes | Mohrenköpf (chocolate balls)

EarlyBeckMilkTruffles
Truffles – the New Favourites

 

Traditionally these are cylindrical dome shaped confections with a marshmallow or sponge filling, a biscuit base and chocolate coating. Artisan production is dwarfed by the commercial specialists who insist the mechanical method produces better products.

Originally a German confection with a foam filling, made with egg, flour and jam, the Swiss claimed the ‘Moor’s Head’ for their own when the Germans and French adopted a more politically correct name, and began to significantly alter the traditional recipe.

The Germans renamed them Chocolate Kisses, and began to produce a different dessert.

The French altered the recipe so much that Boule Meringuée au Chocolat is closer to the Mohrenköpf than Tête Choco, which is effectively a chocolate ball.

The Swiss remain loyal to the original recipe, convinced by the popularity of their filling – a sugary foam made with egg whites for an airy texture.

But tastes are clearly moving from the light into the dark and this is reflected in the different versions of the Mohrenköpfe.

In French-speaking Switzerland the Mohrenköpfe is a Boule Meringuée au Chocolat – a chocolate ball filled with sponge cake and lemon or vanilla cream filling, sold and eaten fresh.

But this is one chocolate confection that is gradually losing its shine, so here are a few recipes for those who like these things.

The first one is an adaptation of the Swiss Mohrenköpfe, the cream and sponge fillings replacing the foam.

 

Mohrenköpfe

 

Sponge 
5 eggs, separated
75 g pastry flour
75 g vanilla sugar
25 g cornflour
1 tsp baking powder
Salt, pinch
Cream Filling
400 g cream, whipped
1 lemon, zest
Jam Filling
250 ml milk
45 g apricot jam
25 g sugar
Biscuit Base
175 g breadcrumbs
50 g flour
50 g mixed nuts and seeds
2 eggs
20 g butter
Salt, pinch
Coating
250 g 70% chocolate, chopped
30 g butter
Equipment
2 bun trays with 12 moulds
12 silicon moulds, same diameter at large end as bun tray moulds

Beat egg yolks, add flour, cornflour, baking soda and salt. Beat egg whites and 75 g sugar until stiff. Fold into yolk mixture. Pour batter into 12 moulds. Bake at 180°C for 15 minutes. Leave to cool on wire rack.

Form breadcrumbs, butter, egg and nuts into a soft dough. Bake in the same sized moulds as the sponges at 180°C for 20 minutes.

Leave to cool.

Boil milk, add remaining 25 g sugar. Heat jam, stir into milk-sugar mixture. Leave to cool.

Arrange the biscuits on greaseproof paper on a small tray. Spread jam-milk mixture thickly on each biscuit, top lightly with sponges.

Melt chocolate and butter in a bain-marie.

Whip cream with lemon zest.

Pour the tepid chocolate into each silicon mould, evenly coating the inside of the mould.

Refrigerate for an hour.

Place a large dollop of lemon cream inside each mould, place a biscuit-sponge sandwich on top, seal with a layer of chocolate.

Refrigerate for two hours.

Turn out of moulds.

 

Schokoküsse

GiantChocolateHead
Giant Chocolate Kiss

 

 

Sponge 
5 eggs, separated
75 g pastry flour
75 g vanilla sugar
25 g cornflour
1 tsp baking powder
Salt, pinch
Mousse
250 g 70% chocolate
150 ml cream, whipped
5 egg yolks, beaten
5 egg whites, whisked
Coating
250 g 70% chocolate, chopped
30 g butter
Equipment
1 bun tray with 12 moulds
12 silicon moulds, same diameter 
at large end as bun tray moulds

Beat egg yolks, add flour, cornflour, baking soda and salt. Beat egg whites and 75g sugar until stiff. Fold into yolk mixture. Pour batter into 12 moulds. Bake at 180°C for 15 minutes. Leave to cool on wire rack.

Melt chocolate for the mousse in a bain marie while beating the yolks. Stir into the melted chocolate after 15 minutes. Whisk the egg white, fold carefully into the chocolate mixture. Stir in the cream.

Refrigerate.

Melt chocolate and butter for the coating. When it has cooled pour the tepid chocolate into each silicon mould, evenly coating the inside of the mould.

Refrigerate for an hour.

Place a large dollop of mousse inside each mould, place a sponge on top, seal with a layer of chocolate.

Refrigerate for two hours.

Turn out of moulds.

 

EarlyBeckAssortment
Chocolates are Evolving – this is a selection from the Early Beck shops in Switzerland

Boule Meringuée au Chocolat

 

Sponge
3 eggs, beaten
120 g vanilla sugar
40 g almonds, ground
40 g butter, melted
20 g pastry flour
Cream-Chocolate Filling
200 ml Chantilly cream, whipped
150 g 70% chocolate, chopped
50 g butter
Dressing
75 g 55% chocolate, flaked
50 g cocoa powder
Equipment
1 bun tray with 12 moulds

Mix eggs with sugar, sieve flours on top followed by a slow dribble of butter. Pour this batter into 12 buttered and floured moulds.
Bake for 20 minutes in 170°C oven.

Boil cream, add 70% chocolate and whip into a soft paste with the butter.

Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Cut each sponge in two, spread a thin layer of cream on one side and cover with the second side.

Top each sandwich with cream, dot with 55% chocolate flakes and dust with cocoa powder.


FRESH FRICOT | THE FRONT PAGE


EDITORIALS     EURO SNACKS     FOOD CONNECTIONS     FOOD STORIES     
GLOSSARY     HIGH FIVES     LEGENDARY DISHES     
RECIPES     REVIEWS     STREET MARKETS