Sunday, March 23, 2014

Wild Garlic and Broccoli Dip


Spring began this week. I noticed this at the market because the wild garlic had arrived. I also noticed that in a small supermarket where I and my colleagues sometimes buy soup for lunch a new spring selection included wild garlic soup.

Wild garlic is also known as ramsons but as I understand not many people know what ramsons is (are?). Let´s stick to wild garlic in English then. In Estonian as well as in German this green garlicky leaf is linked to bears and is called "karulauk" (Est.) and "Bärlauch" (Ger). In fact the question is why in English it is not relating to bears? The Latin name of wild garlic is "Allium ursinum" where "allium" is leek and "ursus" is a bear. In Finnish it is called "karhunlaukka", in Lithuanian it is "meškinis česnakas", in Polish "Czosnek niedźwiedzi ", all include a mention of a bear.

In Danish it is "ramsløg", in Swedish "ramslök", in Norwegian "ramslauk", all have a similar word root of "rams" as is found in the English ramsons.

So here is my personal etymological theory, the vikings from Scandinavia knew wild garlic and while they were ravaging on the island now known as Brittain around the 8-10th century somehow perhaps seasoned the game they caught with ramsons that they knew from back home.

In many other countries on the European continent the etymological linkage must have spread from German, Latin or Slavic languages where this forest herb is mentioned in relation to bears who after waking from the winter sleep are looking for the wild garlic bulbs in the forest. And bears in these countries are common forest inhabitants.

Enough of etymology, now back to food...


Wild Garlic and Broccoli Dip

Ingredients:
1 broccoli head
a small bunch of wild garlic (ca. 20 leaves)
3 tbsp crème fraîche
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
salt
pepper

Ciabatta or sliced bread, toasted
Extra virgin olive oil

Cut the broccoli into smaller pieces and steam for 5-10 minutes until soft. I recommend steaming to boiling to avoid that broccoli becomes too watery. Let it cool down or quickly cool it by dipping it into ice water and pat dry.
Place the broccoli, wild garlic, crème fraîche, lemon juice, salt and pepper into a food processor and crush the ingredients into a smooth spread like paste.
Taste and season as you and your fellow eaters please.

Instead of broccoli kohlrabi or cauliflower can be used as well.

Serve it with toasted slices of ciabatta or any bread.
Sprinkle a little olive oil on the bread and either spred the dip on the bread or just dip pieces of bread into the dip.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Traditional Estonian yellow pea soup


Pea soup is one of the traditional dishes that is eaten at Vastlapäev. Vastlapäev (Shrove Tuesday) is a moving day in the Estonian folk calendar and is the day before the seven week fasting starts. The time of this moving day follows the Christian calendar, however in practice, most Estonians are not giving this day any religious meaning but rather link it to the old folk traditions, predicting the success of the farming crops in the coming season, taking care of the farm animals and women used to go to the pub for a drink. By this time of the year most of the stored meat would have been finished and the last cuts like trotters, tail, ribs were used in cooking.

As the modern time celebration of this day is mostly done outside sledging and skiing and having fun in the snow, a bowl of hot hearty soup is something to look forward to to warm up the body, once back inside.


Traditional Estonian yellow pea soup
Ingredients
250g dry yellow peas

1.5l stock
1 dl pearl barley
1 carrot, cut into small cubes
250g smoked ribs, already cooked
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
parsley or chives, finely chopped

Soak the peas and barley in water separately in two bowls overnight.
If you have smoked raw ribs, cook stock the night before using the ribs.

Next day, heat the stock, add the rinsed peas, barley and bay leaf and cook at medium-low heat for about 60 minutes until almost soft.
Then add the carrot and ribs and cook until carrots are soft and the meat comes off the bone easily. Cut the meat into small pieces and add back to the soup.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve hot with parsly or chives
 

More traditional Vastlapäev dishes:
Estonian bean soup for Vastlapäev

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Salcify pie


The winter vegetables still rule at the farmer´s market. Salcify, aka vegetable oyster or Schwarzwurzel in German, is one of them. The roots with pitch black skin, often covered with rests of soil, may seem rather frightening, if you have never cooked it before. Don´t let the dark and gloomy looks of sticks that resemble Harry Potter´s dark magic wands put you off from trying one of the most wonderful vegetables. Preparing salcify demands 20 minutes more work than carrots, but the tender taste and the feeling of experiencing something new is well worth the effort.
For anyone who would like to pimp up their menu, I can recommend salcify whole heartedly.


Salcify pie

Ingredients
Dough
115g cold butter, cut into small cubes
1dl rye flour
1dl whole wheat flour
1dl wheat flour
1 egg yolk
a pinch of salt
1 tbsp cold water

Filling
500g salcify, thoroughly washed
salt water for boiling
2 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar

10g butter
salt, pepper
the remaining egg white
50-75g parmesan, grated
parsley stems, finely chopped
(smoked) sea salt
3 tbsp pumpkin seeds
parsley leaves, finely chopped

It is difficult to peel raw salcify. An easier way is to boil the thoroughly washed salcify and then peel the cooked roots like carrots, cutting out the dark eyes with a sharp vegetable knife.
 

Place all ingredients for the dough into a bowl and mix them together by hand or a mixer.
Keep the dough ball in the fridge until the rest of the preparation is done.

Bring water to boil, add salt and salcify and cook for 15 minutes.
Drain the boiling water.
Peel the salcify and keep the peeled roots in water with lemon juice or vinegar.
Cut the salcify diagonally into 5mm thick slices.
Heat the butter in a pan, cook the salcify slices in butter until they start to take on a light brown colour.

Heat the oven to 180C Celsius.
Fit a baking form with baking paper or butter it to avoid sticking.
Roll the dough to fit the form.
Stab the dough a few times with a knife.
Pre-bake the dough in the oven for 5 minutes.

Take the pre-baked dough out of the oven, spread the remaining egg white on the dough.
Spread half of the grated cheese on the bottom of the pie, then add the salcify and parsley stems.
Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on the salcify. Smoked salt gives the pie a slight flavour note, but if not available, just plain sea salt will do fine.
Cover the salcify slices with the rest of the parmesan and scatter pumpkin seeds on top.

Bake for ca. 30 minutes until the cheese has taken on a nice colour.
 

Serve with green salad or a cup of tea.


If salcify is your thing, you may also like
Salcify cream soup

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Chickpea and kidney soup

A new year is well on its way and half of January is already gone. According to the Estonian folk calendar January 14th was the day when winter´s back was broken. This meant that half the winter was over and half of the food supplies planned for the winter were supposed to be still in the pantries. Equally for the farm animals, half the feed should be still available.

Taking inventory of my supplies, I concluded that I was well covered with honey and self made jam until next season and dry ingredients and a few emergency cans of tuna would take me through February. It is the vegetables that I would need to rely on the farmers to still have in their storage and come to the market every Saturday to feed the hungry town crowd and save them from vitamin C deficit.

Even though there almost hasn´t been a proper winter yet, the warming soups have their place on the Lime Or Lemon blog in 2014 too.


Chickpea and kidney soup

Today we have something in the spirit of "If you decide to kill (ie. eat meat), dare to eat the whole animal". Kidneys fall into the Love or Hate category of the ingredients.
A few years ago, before the whole sustainability and bio mentality became more popular, the secondary cuts of meat were difficult to find in the latest cookbooks and restaurant menus. Recently I saw pig´s ears and blood risotto on a menu in a Lisbon restaurant and these days pages after pages of recipes of liver, kidneys, pig´s ears, tongue and other specialty meats are finding a come back in the food magazines.

Ingredients for 4 portions:
4tsp vegetable oil (eg. rape oil)
2 small onions, thinly sliced lengthwise
250g rabbit´s kidneys, rinsed and patted dry
1 carrot, chopped
3 stalks of Swiss chard (mangold), chopped
0.5 dl sherry
0.75l water
1 tomato, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
1 can of 400g of chickpeas, rinsed in cold water
salt and black pepper
Dill, finely chopped

Heat the oil in a pan and cook the onions on medium heat until they turn soft and brownish. Remove the onions from the pan.
Fry the kidneys in the same oil for 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and put aside.
Place the carrots and Swiss chard into the pan, cook for 2 minutes, then add the sherry and let it evaporate.
Add the bay leaf.
Pour the water onto the vegetables and let simmer for 10 minutes until soft.
Add 2/3 of the chickpeas and cook for a few more minutes.
Remove the bay leaf.
Purée the vegetables into a smooth soup.
Season with salt and black pepper
Now add the remaining chickpeas and the kidneys to the soup.
Bring to boil.
Mix in the chopped fresh dill.
Taste and season to your taste and serve with the fried onions.



Monday, November 25, 2013

Onion Market: Zibelemärit in the Swiss capital

This was not the longest arrangement, a 2 m long one carried a lable "SOLD"

The last Monday in November is Zibelemärit (Onion market for the less eloquent in Swiss German) in Berne, the Swiss capital. This is a big event for the locals. We are even granted half a day public holiday and some schools let the children to mark and enjoy the event. The true fans of this day start off at four or five in the morning, the public transport starts an hour earlier than on other days. It is a good idea to come by public transport as many will be keeping themselves warm drinking Glühwein (mulled wine) or Punsch.

Stalls and people everywhere

The market really is about lots of stalls selling onion wreaths and garlic wreaths and all sorts of creative onion and garlic decorations. Funny enough, the market does not smell of onion at all. Occasionally the nose catches the inviting garlic bread aroma from some catering stalls.

Smiling onion ladies

There is lots of typical food to choose from on the onion market: onion pie, cheese pie, fondue, potato rösti, bratwurst, Lebkuchen. Specialties from other Kantons (Counties) can be bought as well.

Onion and cheese pies in all sizes

Speck from Kanton Glarus
 
If the Swiss food is not your favourite, burgers, hot dogs, roasted almonds, chinese fried specialties or even Dutch sweet poffertjes will not leave you hungry.
 
Roasted almonds and Lebkuchen
 
Even the Dutch are claiming a stand at the onion market

A portion of 5 poffertjes with sugar and butter go for 6 Francs
Over the years the market seems to have expanded and is now occupying most streets in the city center including the Parliament square.




Garlic, Onions and Lavender from Provence, France

A loooong salami that was
I mentioned that most of the children are free from school on this day. To fill their time adequately, they walk around throwing confetti at everyone and hitting the passers-by with plastic hammers. Confetti and hammers are probably the best sellers in the non-food segment items on this day. A day well spent.


Walking around the streets in the city center the scents and sensations of the brewing wine in huge kettles is inebriating the market visitors to the beat of the 80´s "Voyage, Voyage" or to Lenny Kravitz´s desire to get away and fly away. Listening to some of my non-Swiss friends they would join in with Lenny trying to escape the crowds and being hit on the head with a hammer.

The colourful confetti is cleaned fast in the evening and before the night falls the streets shine as a new pair of glasses.

A piece of cheese pie and that´s dinner sorted. If you´d like to learn a Swiss German word, try "Chäschueche", it means cheese pie.
 
Swiss chäschueche or cheese pie

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Farmers Market: Leek and Red Potato Soup;

It is quite refreshing to see new stalls appear at my local farmers market. Recently I found two girls selling five or six different types of potatoes. Potatoes was all they had. Focus and specialize. Nice. Like specialised cheese stands or a fairly new beef stand whose selection includes tongue and oxtail (...think of oxtail soup...) or Italian fruits and vegetables with their artichokes or bio lemons that have a voluptuous knobbly shape disguised by a few dark green leaves or a local farmer specializing in lama meat charcuterie and berries or most recently a stand with a selection of gluten free offering.

Back to potatoes. Some of their varieties like Agria and Gourmandine I know and have tasted. They also had a blue variety, the "Blaue St. Gallen". It was the red ones that caught my attention this time, the Red Emmalie.

The coloured potatoes are getting a more vigorous acceptance by the restaurants. Not long ago, one of my favourite local restaurants, Mille Sens, served a green cream soup topped with freshly hand fried blue potato chips. This made my eyes eat from the plate and my head nod in appreciation.
The bio/organic sections in some supermarkets are starting to offer coloured potatoes in their selection. There are also a few farmers at the weekly market who offer blue potatoes. Slowly the potatoes are entering the colourful Samba mile at the fresh produce festival.

I find it is perfectly fine to use these rather unusual colour tubers in common ways of cooking, especially if time is tight for more sofisticated action in the kithcen. The pure fact that they are blessed with an unconventional colour the coloured potatoes will be the winners on the plate. Recently I made blue potato and garlic confit.


A mid week time saver, a classic, straightforward leek and potato soup is easy to pimp up with different colour potatoes.

Leek and Red Potato Soup
Ingredients for 2
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, sliced
200-300g leek, chopped, without the green tops. Use the gree part in a stew or another soup, no need to waste it.
300g potatoes, (red, blue or any colour) peeled and cut into small cubes
1 bay leaf
0.75 l boiling water
salt

fried bacon strips (optional)

1. Heat the vegetable oil in a pan and cook the sliced onion in the oil until it softens.
2. Add the potato cubes (ca. 1 cm size) together with the chopped leek and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring a few times.
3. At the same time, heat the water in an electric kettle, if you have one at hand.
4. Pour the water into the pan and cover the potatoes and leeks. (I dont´t recommend hot water from the tap)
5. Add a bayleaf and ca.1 teaspoon of salt or to your taste.
6. Cook on a low to medium heat until the potatoes become soft.
7. In a small pan fry the bacon strips and a few minutes before the soup is ready, add the previously fried bacon strips to the soup.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Blue potato and garlic confit with smoked mackerel mousse

Blue potatoes make a great potato confit. A few farmers at my local Saturday morning farmers´market are selling blue potatoes. Occasionally red flesh potatoes can be found. There are a couple of varieties of blue potatoes, the more frequent (I wanted to say common, but blue potatoes are not really common, are they) one sold here is called Blauer St Gallener or sometimes St. Gallerli, whereby the "-li" ending denotes the diminutive form in Swiss German. And the diminutive is spot on because the tubers are generally small. Just right for cooking potato confit.

Potato confit, simply put, is cooking potatoes in fat or oil at low temperature. Seasoning with fresh herbs and garlic adds the extra flavour and best of all while the potatoes are cooking in the oven the smells coming from the kitchen are tickling the senses in anticipation of a great meal.

Small Blaue St Gallerli with rosemary and garlic ready for potato confit

Blue Potato Confit
Ingredients for 2-3 portions:
1 kg small blue potatoes, thoroughly washed, unpeeled
2 garlic bulbs
fresh rosmary
4dl olive oil
sea salt

A confidently generous amount of garlic recommended

Heat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius / 350 F
1. Place the rosemary sprigs and potatoes into an oven form. I prefer 2 smaller forms instead of one larger form to keep the oil level high and potatoes compactly together.
2. Cut the bottom of the garlic bulb off and spread the cloves between the potatoes.
3. Cook the potatoes in the oven for ca. 1 hour until soft.
4. To serve cut a cross on one side of the potato and press the potato together slightly to "open" it.
5. Remove the garlic from the skins and serve too. The garlic confit has a slightly sweet taste.
6. Season with sea salt.

I keep the oil, now fragrant with garlic and rosemary, and use it later for cooking. For example it gives an extra flavour to risotto.

 

Smoked Mackerel Mousse
This is a simple way to prepare a smooth mackerel mousse or spread that can be used on a sandwich or as an accompaniment to the succulent potato confit.

Ingredients:
1 smoked mackerel, ca. 300g
1 tbsp capers, finely chopped
3-4 tbsp sour cream
chives, finely chopped

1. Carefully clean the mackerel from skin and bones. Place the fish into a bowl and mix with a fork to prepare a smooth consistency.
2. Add the chopped capers to the fish.
3. Combine the sour cream with mackerel and capers into a smooth mousse.
4. Serve with chives.



Sunday, October 13, 2013

Baked Sweet Potato Dessert

My work has brought me to researching the baked potato growing in the past year. Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is a warm climate loving vegetable, botanically not related to the potato (Solanum tuberosum). I found out that in many countries sweet potatoes are grown by small farms and consumed a lot as street food. Often simply baked and as a dessert rather than as a savoury dish. In Europe it is grown on a small scale in south of Spain and in south of Portugal.

The sweet potato growing industry is getting more focus, meaning that more resources are spent on research and variety development. The growing consumer demand is driving larger scale industrial farming of sweet potato. I have seen sweet potatoes imported from Isreael, USA, Spain, Egypt on sale in supermarkets and farmers´markets here in Switzerland. The global easy access to exotic fruits and vegetables and the pressure on innovation has placed sweet potatoes into most new cookbooks. The wider awareness of the American Thanksgiving dinner outside the United States has brought the sweet potato onto dinner tables in Europe. Sweet potato crisps can be found in niche selection in supermarkets or eco-groceries.

I felt it my duty to get to know the vegetable I was researching a bit closer. I can say that sweet potato is great in soups, a delicious accompaniment to roasted lamb and a Thanksgiving turkey.

 

 
Baked Sweet Potato Dessert
Ingredients for one portion (multiply by as many portions as needed)
1 sweet potato per person, ca. 100g each
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp crème fraîche

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Wash the sweet potatoes and pat them dry with kitchen paper.
3. Stab each sweet potato twice with a fork.
4. Place the sweet potatoes on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 60 minutes until you can feel they are soft.
5. Cut them in half, spread 1 table spoon of honey on each half and serve with crème fraîche.

The effort in preparation of this dessert is almost next to nothing. Bake the sweet potatoes in the oven while preparing the rest of the meal and spreading a bit of honey and cream is a matter of two minutes. Worth a try.

 


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sweet and Savoury Fig and Feta Tart

There are occasions when opposite flavours can be successfully matched together. Cheese paired with sweet fruit or marmelade, cheesecake with berries are heavenly marriages. For everyone who savours a sweet and savoury taste mixing in the mouth here is a tart that is weighing its options whether to fall into the sweet or savoury category or stay balanced in the middle.


Sweet and Savoury Fig and Feta Tart
Ingredients

The dough:
200g butter
100g sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
2 eggs (S/ 53g)
250g darker plain four (Germam: Halbweissmehl)

Baking beans

Filling:
200g feta cheese, crumbled
3 tbsp soft honey
a pinch of herbes de Provance (optional)
8-10 ripe figs, cut into 8 sectors

Whisk the butter with salt, sugar (and vanilla) until smooth. Combine the eggs and then sift in the flour.
Quickly mix everything into a smooth dough. Wrap the dough ball into a plastic bag and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Set the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (370 F). Prepare a tart tin either with baking paper or butter it well and flour it lightly.

Roll the dough to 5-6 mm thickness and transfer into the tin covering all sides. Cut off the excess dough.
Place a sheet of aluminium foil or baking paper on the dough and the baking beans on it.
Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Mix the crumbled feta cheese with honey. Prepare the figs.

Take the dough out of the oven, remove the beans and the foil.

Spread the feta and honey mixture on the dough. Sprinkle with the herbs de Provance if you choose to use them.

Arrange the figs on top of the feta. Drizzle a little honey on the figs.


Bake for 30-40 minutes until the dough turns brown on the edges.
 

More goat cheese and fruit recipes:
Fresh figs with feta cheese
Bruschettas with goat cheese, persimmon and pear

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Food from the forest: Wild berry loaf cake with ricotta and lingonberries


Lingonberries, Ger:Preiselbeere, Est: Pohlad

Lingonberries from Estonian forests
The berries in the picture are wild lingonberries. They grow in forests in Estonia and other northern European countries. I haven´t been to the Finnish forests however judging by the amount of lingonberry recipes in Finnish cookbooks I know that the neigbours in the north have the wild berries close to their hearts too.

Lingonberries are Preiselbeere in German. Sometimes they are mistaken for cranberries, indeed both are red, but these are two different species and they grow in different soil.


Lingonberries and cranberries are different spieces.
This year it has been a generous lingonberry year. Recently I described the special berry or mushroom places, a sort of special knowledge passed on from generation to generation or between the enthusiasts sharing the passion for food from the forest. During my latest trip to Estonia I discovered that my sister had recorded a new route, a "Lingonberry Place 2", in the GPS. Evem though it was already rather late in the season, the place was red with lingonberries. Just find the plumpest berries and "rake" them together following the first principle of choose the best of the best, the the best of of the worst and then everything else.

I was driving around in south Estonia and couldn't help but notice how the places had changed because the public government owned forest areas got a clean-up or the privately owned forests get felled and probably became an export article. This is leaving an impact on the foraging places.



Wild lingonberry ricotta loaf cake
Ingredients
3 large eggs, the 73g+ ones or 4 smaller eggs
200g brown sugar
220g ricotta
0.5 tsp vanilla extract
90g butter, melted and cooled
250g flour (half dark weat four is what I used)
20g baking powder
2 handful (ca 2 dl) fresh or frozen lingonberries, or more or less to your taste
Powder sugar (optional)
 
Instructions:
1. Set the oven to 170 degrees Celsius (340 F)
2. Keep the eggs at room temperature.
3. Beat the eggs and sugar into a thick foam.
4. Add ricotta and vanilla extract and beat again until smooth.
5. Pour the cooled down melted butter into the mixture.
6. Mix the baking powder with the flour and sieve the flour into the dough.
7. Lastly, add the lingonberries, mix briefly.
8. Fit a loaf baking form with baking paper and pour the dough into the form.
9. Bake for 50-60 minutes until the dough does not stick to the knife or match stick when piercing it to check doneness.
10. Take out onto the cooling rack. When the cake has cooled, decorate with powder sugar.
 

The lingonberries can be replaced by wild or industrially grown blueberries or black currants.

For more wild berry recipes see:
Wild blueberry and ricotta "boats"
Wild blueberry soup with fluffy semolina pudding
Cranberry dessert - pink semolina

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Food from the forest: wild blueberry and ricotta "boats"

Freshly baked pastry out of the oven, a cup of coffee... that´s the kind of morning I like.



July and August is the wild blueberry season in the north of Europe. Lots of people take the opportunity to wander into the forest. I was reading how one of the Finnish Government ministers was motivating people to go and pick wild berries. He said that the Finnish forests are full of these berries, the problem is to get them out of there as food for people. He couldn´t be more right, same goes for Estonia.

The wild blueberries, or any other wild berries for that matter, are full of top antioxidants you can´t buy in any pharmacy, and besides the nutritional benefits I can say with confidence that the taste is just uncomparably top of the world. There is nothing more "Eco" or "Bio" than these berries that have grown without any drop of forced irrigation and the journey from picking it to the mouth is a couple of seconds long. Eat as much as you can. And when you get tired you can sit down on the soft moss and reach out for more like a panda bear.

Now then. Following the neigbour country´s minister´s call we grabbed our "baskets" and made our way to the forest that we know has been a good place for blueberries.
The thing is that the good places for any forest crop are more or less kept secret among a close circle of family and friends. By the forest crops I mean berries like wild blueberries, red lingonberries, yellow cloud berries, chanterelle or other mushrooms. Cloud berries are more available in Finnland,  further north from Estonia. Or perhaps we don´t know the right places.

There is plenty of time to let all sorts of thoughts fly through the head when foraging in a forest. I was contemplating that there is even a special word for a small basket in the Estonian language. It is called "marjakorv", meaning simply a berry basket. In the past, I mean in the centuries before the 21st, it was customary to pick the wild berries into a nice basket. The modern times provide more comfort and more practical materials like plastic. Especially the wild blueberries have a habit of leaving stains and it is pretty hard to wash a basket. Whatever the container may be that carries home the sun warm juicy berries, the result of your hard work of bending your back a hundred times, the berries are worth the sweat.

The cultivated blueberries have a much longer season and can be used instead of the wild ones. Nothing complicated. Here is how it goes.


Wild Blueberry and ricotta "boats"
Ingredients for 6 bigger portions
200g ricotta
2tbsp sugar
1 egg yolk
1 egg white, beaten hard
500g puff pastry, yeast based if available

The cuts in the puff pastry makes it rise at the edges, blueberry-ricotta filling

Instructions:
1. Roll the dough into a 5mm thick layer. Cut into suitable size rectangles.
2. With a sharp knife cut into half the thickness of the dough on all sides, circa 1cm from the edges. This will make the edges rise nicely during baking and keep the filling in the "boats".
3. Mix ricotta, egg yolk, sugar.
4. Separately beat the egg white until hard.
5. Add the egg white to the ricotta mix and combine lightly.
6. Spread a good tablespoon of the ricotta mixture on each "boat", leave the cut edges free from the filling.
7.Place a handful of fresh wild blueberries onto each boat.
8. Bake in the middle of the oven for ca. 20 minutes until the dough has taken on a light brown colour and feels cooked. Tapping lightly on the dough and if it feels crisp is a good sign.

Blueberry Ricotta pastry "boats"

More wild blueberry recipes:
Sweet wild blueberry soup with fluffy semolina dessert
Wild blueberry ricotta cake
Wild blueberry - banana smoothie

Thursday, August 1, 2013

1st of August Weggli on the Swiss National Day

1st of August is the Swiss National Day to commemorate the formation of Switzerland in 1291. People can happily enjoy this day as a public holiday surprisingly recently, only since 1994.

Go and pick the flowers fresh from the field yourself, trust in a Swiss way.

The weather has been on our side today, temperatures reaching 30Celsius (86F).
To start the festivities we thought it appropriate to go and pick some gladiolas from the self-service flower field nearby. One picks as many sun flowers, gladiolas, lilies ... or tulips in spring for that matter ... and leaves the right amount of francs in a box at the edge of the field.

It is a tradition that the farmers in the Alps have a brunch on the 1st of August. The same tradition has been brought to the city at the main Cathedral square. Anyone who wishes to climb the the stairs to the Cathedral tower can tank some Swiss energy before or after from a brunch in the morning or a typical Bratwurst throughout the day.

A recycling point for the glasses or plates in the refreshment tent


1st August Weggen, delicious buns

For sure the 1st August Weggli is a must on this day. It is a special soft and buttery bun with a cross cut into it on top and a small Swiss flag. It is simple but actually tastes pretty delicious. And the smell of this small bread is such as wanting to stick my nose into it and take a deep healing breath...or two...before biting into it.I have a bit of a freak flag on breads. 2013 is my year of experimenting with sourdough, but that' a story for another time.


Visitors queueing in front of the Bundeshaus

The Swiss Parliament, the Bundeshaus, is open on this national holiday for anyone who wants to take a peek at the magnificent building, walk in its corridors of power or sit in one of the two halls. On the 1st of August the Swiss chocolate masters are presenting a sweet surprise to the visitors of the Bundeshaus.


The scenic place where Switzerland was "born"

One for all and all for one says the ceiling

A view from a Parliament window opens to the public pool of the Swiss capital

A rather small and modest cafe in the Parliament building in Bern

There are circa 40 chocolates to choose from, a gift from the Swiss choclatiers

There are various celebrations throughout the day everywhere. The cream on the top of the celebration is the fireworks at night, in 6 scenes and the spectacle goes on for about 20 minutes. I believe it is now sponsored by some of the big companies as nowadays it is pretty hard to organise fireworks for the tax payers´ hard earned money.
The most memorable sight is the smiley design at the very end. Everyone will rember that with a somile on their own face. Unfortunately it was impossible to hit the button on my camera at the right moment to capture that smiley.


1st August Fireworks in Bern 2013


1. August Feuerwerk, Bern 2013