i know it's tuesday, almost wednesday, but here's some stuff we ate over the weekend:
a tarte tatin, courtesy of orangette via saucy. i have to admit it didn't turn out very aesthetically pleasing. my apple configuration was very haphazard, and the slices migrated around in the sticky caramel, but no matter. it tasted wonderful. with some thick oozing double cream from lac de la gruyere, not a flake of pastry nor a translucent piece of apple was left. i am going to try it again this friday evening, when we have some friends around for dinner. this time i want it to look perfect!
sunday kitchen sink dinner. asparagus, brie and smoked trout frittata. surprisingly good for a slapdash dinner. even the kiddies loved it - lola had 3 (small) slices! often kids like stronger tastes than grown-ups give them credit for, i find.
i also made some yummy fat buttermilk pancakes for brekkie on sunday morning (no time for pics, sorry, too busy stuffing my face). i am finding quite a few uses for the carton of buttermilk in my fridge left over from my last banana cake frenzy. we ate them with cream cheese (so evil, soooo good), a soft, rosy pink quince jam (rather than jelly) made by bruno's mother, and fresh strawberries.
we've got a busy weekend ahead. friends for dinner on friday night (maybe vietnamese rice wraps?), easter brunch on sunday with bruno's family, and the usual trillion small meals and snacks in between. shops are closed over the holiday break so i will have to do some judicious shopping and planning - never my forte. i shall also be making a small mountain of zopf for all those we know and love - my poor arm muscles!!!
bruno's parents dropped in for afternoon tea on sunday, so max and i took the opportunity to whip up a quick batch of chocolate chip cookies, from bill granger's 'sydney food' - quick, simple and delicious, especially eaten warm straight from the oven.
the recipe is perfect for cooking with kids. it is so basic that nothing can really go wrong. max (4 years) was very happy weighing, sifting, breaking eggs, and using the mezzaluna to chop up the chocolate (i didn't have any chocolate chips). just make sure to keep an eye on them in the oven as they only need the merest hint of golden colour to indicate their readiness. the chewier the better, i say.
in his book, bill suggests making a double batch and freezing half for another day. good idea!!! will definitely do that next time. they were a big hit with the kiddies and grandparents. and me and bruno. needless to say, there were none left the following day.
i am recently of the opinion that my cooking, as well as this blog, is getting a little tired and perfunctory. both have been sadly neglected. so, taking inspiration from the great blog 101 cookbooks, where heidi has been slowly working her way through her massive cookbook collection, i've decided to start working my way through my cookbooks, and try some new and different things. hooray! i hear you say. yes, i'm pleased too, and i'm sure the rest of the family will be happy to see some variety on the table for a change. although of course they should just be grateful that i remember to feed them at all : )
i'm going to try to do a least one new recipe a week. i'll rate it for:
my bananas finally ripened enough for me to make a banana cake. it's so cold and gray these days (all that talk of spring weather turned out to be sadly premature. it has snowed for the past 2 days) that they take forever to get to the perfect stage of banana-cake ripeness.
after much searching, i've decided that stepahnie alexander's banana cake recipe (from the cook's companion) is the best one i've yet encountered. for such a simple thing, it's amazing how many bad banana cake recipes there are out there! the crumb is deliciously moist and firm, it toasts beautifully and it keeps very well in an air-tight container for quite a few days (if it lasts that long). i've made this recipe with various size and shaped tins (round, square, loaf, big and small muffin tins) and it has always worked perfectly (with a slight adjustment in cooking time for the muffins - only cook for 15 - 20 mins or so). often i bake two and put one in the freezer for a later time as it freezes excellently. it's a staple in our kitchen, requiring only the most basic of ingredients, with the exception of buttermilk, which can be made by souring milk with lemon juice anyway.
usually i don't bother to ice the cake, but last night we had bruno's parents around for dinner so i wanted to tart it up a little. i used nigella's delectable cream cheese icing from 'domestic goddess'. worked a treat. tasted delicious (yes, that was me licking out the bowl, i have a weakness for cream cheese-y things). otherwise, i'm happy to leave it naked in all it's brown banana glory.
this article about school lunches is interesting (via daxaing). growing up in nz and australia, school lunches were always brought from home, so the notion of mass-produced and consumed school food is pretty alien to me. it seems like a good idea, if the food is good and healthy. here in switzerland most kids come home from school for lunch (there is a 2 hour lunch break). often it is the main meal of the day. i actually like this, as it seems more sensible to eat a large meal in the middle of the day when you are busy and active as opposed ot eating a big main meal just before you go to bed.
the difficulty with the swiss school lunch system is that, obviously, someone needs to be home to make the kiddies lunch. usually this is mummy. increasingly, however, many mothers are returning to the workforce, and while the 2 hour lunch is the norm for many industries/professions, it does then entail working close to home and being able to get home in time for lunch. talk about restrictions! i've said it before and i'll say it again, the swiss school system is NOT kind to mothers/primary carers.
it is only very recently (the one at our local school was built last year)that mittagstisch (lunchtable) clubs have been set up for kids whose parents both work and cannot be home to provide them with lunch. i have no idea what they serve the kiddies though. presumably it is something healthy, as fast foods like chips and burgers are barely even available from commercial outlets (there is one mcdonalds in zürich, and a burger king somewhere on the outskirts of zürich, but that's about it).
having said that, i do think it is a nice tradition for everyone to sit down together at lunch, if possible, and eat a good hearty meal. i know that i survive the latter part of the day better if i make an effort and cook lunch. if i only have a yoghurt or bread roll with something i find i just nibble the afternoon away. the kiddies are also less likely to pester me for snacks if we have a cooked lunch.
i'm not sure what i will be doing when max goes to school. we are just beginning to plan for when he enters kindergarten in august. he will go every morning but be home in time for lunch. so my return to the workforce will have to be squeezed in around that and lola, who will be attending max's kinderkrippe (childcare) for 2 days a week. in all, i may have around 2 mornings a week to go back to work. hmmm. that's not much. some careful scheduling will have to happen here, or else a major career adjustment.
brrrr. europe has been experiencing a cold snap this last week, and it has been utterly freezing. when i got up this morning it was minus 10 degrees. yesterday it was minus 7, with a bitterly cold wind whistling down from the alps. so the kiddies and i were happy to relive the memory of sunshine in these delicious strawberries, along with some plump, juicy peruvian mangoes.