Month: December 2021

Silvesterclaus in Switzerland

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While in Vienna, people walk pigs on a leash in the hope of bringing good luck for the coming year, in many Christian households in Germany the day is celebrated by pouring lead (Silvesterblei, Bleigiessen) into an old spoon over a flame and then dropping it into a bowl of cold water; the shape of the lead is used to predict the person’s luck for the coming year. If the lead is in the shape of a ball (der Ball), it will be lucky all year round, while the star (der Stern) represents alternating luck.

If Switzerland, then a New Year’s Eve cradle

The Silvesterklaus or New Year’s Eve cradle (Swiss German: Chlaus) means a man dressed up as St. Sylvester or a New Year’s Eve figure. In the Reformed canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden, New Year’s Eve is still celebrated in this way.

History

St. New Year’s Eve, or New Year’s Day, is actually commemorated twice in the world, once on 31 December according to the Gregorian calendar and once on 13 January according to the Julian calendar. On both days, the Silvesterkläuse dress up in strange costumes and go from house to house in small groups, ringing huge bells sewn on their backs and singing very slow-paced yodels to wish people a happy New Year. If 31 December or 13 January falls on a Sunday, the celebrations are held on the Saturday before.

Retrieved from

It is believed that the Chlausen festival is not of pagan origin, but can be traced back to a late medieval Advent tradition involving students from a monastic school. In the 15th century, when the celebrations became increasingly wild, erotic and carnival-like, the Catholic Church found this behaviour hardly appropriate for the Advent holy season, which in turn explains why the Chlausen tradition was moved from Advent to New Year’s Eve.

The tradition is first mentioned in 1663, when the church authorities objected to such noisy celebrations. In the Catholic semi-canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden, some 18th century records state that participation in the ‘Chlausen’ tradition was punished with a heavy fine of five talers. Despite this, the tradition persisted in the Catholic semi-canton to a small extent until 1900, because it was more or less tacitly tolerated by the local district authorities. This was particularly the case in the border areas close to the Reformed Appenzell Ausserrhoden, for example in Haslen, surrounded on three sides by the villages of Hundwil, Stein, Teufen and Buehler Ausserrhoden, or in Gonten, near Urnäsch and Hundwil. Mixed groups were also formed, combining members of Appenzell Innerrhoden and Appenzell Ausserrhoden (this still happens occasionally), and there were sometimes isolated actors.

Today, the tradition is kept alive in the Protestant canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden. Three different types of Silvesterchläuse are distinguished: the Schöne (beautiful), the Schö-Wüeschte (beautiful-ugly) and the Wüeschte (ugly).

The Schöne-Beautiful are very ornate headgear compositions depicting scenes of peasant life, local customs and crafts, special buildings, sports or family life, which require hundreds of hours of intensive work. Their costumes resemble local folk costumes.

I wish you to all a jolly happy 2022! Cheers!

Trio of Falafel

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Falafel is usually a ball or meatball-shaped flatbread made from ground chickpeas, broad beans or both. A traditional Middle Eastern dish, it is usually served in a pita that acts as a pocket or wrapped in a flat bread called tabun; ‘falafel’ is also often used to refer to a wrapped sandwich prepared in this way. In Israel, falafel balls are served with hummus and vegetables, e.g. in a pita, but are also often made into sandwiches and served with salads, pickled vegetables, hot sauce and tahini-based sauces. Falafel meatballs are served on their own as a snack or as part of a mezze platter (with feta cheese, olives, cooked rice wrapped in grape leaves, tarama (choice of starter).
Falafel is very popular in the Middle East, where it is street food. In Egypt it is usually made from lava beans and is known as ta’amiya, and in Levantine Arabic cuisine it is made from chickpeas. It is popular to the vegetarians worldwide.
The origin
It is generally believed that falafel was first made in Egypt, where it is still known as (ta’amiya). However, it is also considered one of the national foods in Israel, because of religious fasting. During the fasting period, Egyptian Copts used to substitute meat dishes with broad beans, and it still plays an important role in a vegetarian diet.
Ingredients and preparation
The main ingredient is usually chickpeas, but yellow peas, soya beans, broad beans or a mixture of these are sometimes used. Chickpeas are not cooked but soaked for a long time. They are minced with onions and garlic, made into balls and fried in a frying pan with plenty of oil. Serve with vegetables, usually in a pita. Roman cumin and coriander are popular seasonings.

Falafel trio

Ingredients: 1 packet of falafel preparation 340 g, 50 g Zaatar, 80 g diced emmental cheese, 50 g black sesame seeds
For the beetroot hummus: 300 g canned chickpeas, 1 cooked beetroot, 2 tablespoons of sesame cream (Tahine), juice of 1 lemon, 2 cloves garlic, grated, 2 pinches of cumin, a drizzle of olive oil

  1. Preparing the beetroot hummus
    Dice the cooked beetroot. Form into balls about 3 cm in diameter.
    Divide the balls into 3 parts.
    Roll the first part of the falafel balls in the black sesame seeds.
    Roll the second part of the falafel balls in the Zaatar.
    Place one diced emmental cheese in each of the remaining falafel balls.
    Soak the chickpeas. Drain the chickpeas and pour into the bowl of a blender. Add the diced beetroot, garlic, sesame cream (tahini) and lemon juice.
    Blend until smooth. If you find that the chickpea puree is a little thick, you can add a little water to make it more elastic.
    Before serving, drizzle the beetroot hummus with olive oil and sprinkle with cumin.

  2. Preparing the falafels
    Preheat the oven to 200°C.
    Put the Jean Martin falafel mix in a bowl and knead the dough by hand. Then roll the falafel balls once more so that the cheese is not visible. Place the dumplings on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Place in the oven and bake the falafel for 15 minutes. Serve the falafel with the beetroot hummus.

Eggflower soup or the Italian Zuppa Stracciatella

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Stracciatella in Italian, a diminutive, derived from the verb stracciare (“to shred”), meaning “a little shred”, there are two different food related stuffs exist in Italy: the Stracciatella alla romana, which is a soup consisting of meat broth and small shreds of an egg-based mixture, prepared by drizzling the mixture into boiling broth and stirring. It is popular around Rome in the Lazio region of central Italy especially at Christmas time. And the other one which is more well known is the ice cream, the Stracciatella soup inspired the gelato (Italian ice-cream) flavour of the same name which was created in 1962 by a restaurateur in the northern town of Bergamo, who claimed he had grown tired of stirring eggs into broth to satisfy customers from Rome.

The zanzarelli is a similar soup, was described by Martino da Como in his 15th century manual, The Art of Cooking. Other variants exist.

Traditionally stracciatella alla romana used to be served at the start of Easter lunches. Stracciatella alla romana is traditionally prepared by beating eggs and mixing in grated parmesan, cheese. salt and pepper, numeg, lemon zest and sometimes semolina; this mixture is then gently drizzled into boiling meat broth, while stirring so as to produce little shreds (“stracciatelle“) of cooked egg in the soup. The resulting soup can be served in bowls containing a few thin slices of toasted bread, with additional parmesan grated on top. Food historians said that the stracciatella alla romana used also to be scented with marjoram. Other traditional Italian and Italian-American recipes suggest garnishing with chopped parsley or spinach as a main ingredient.

The traditional preparation of stracciatella is also rather similar to that of sciusceddu, a rich festive soup from Messina in Sicily. that may be a cousin of the Roman dish.

The Zuppa pavese is consisting of broth into which slices of stale bread and poached eggs are placed.

Ginestrata is also a kind of egg-based soup in the Italian cuisine that originated in Tuscany. That can be described as a thin, lightly spiced egg-based soup. Egg yolk, chicken stock, Marsala wine or white wine, butter, nutmeg and sugar are primary ingredients. Additional ingredients may include different types of wine, such as Madeira wine and cinnamon. It may also be served as an antipasto dish, the first course of a formal Italian meal. Ginestrata may be strained using a sieve. It may be prepared using a double boiler for cooking, and the nutmeg and sugar may be served atop it as a garnish. It may also be cooked in an earthenware  pot. It is a thin soup that only slightly thickens when the cooking process is complete.

The soup dates to the Middle Ages in Tuscany, Italy, when it was prepared by the families of married people the day after their wedding, to “revive the flagging spirits of the bride and groom

The Egg drop soup is a Chinese egg soup of wispy beaten beaten eggs in chicken broth. Condiments such as black or white pepper, and finely chopped scallions and tofu are commonly added to the soup. The soup is made by adding a thin stream of beaten eggs to the boiling broth in the final moments of cooking, creating thin, silken strands or flakes of cooked egg that float in the soup.

These kinds of egg drop soups have a thinner consistency than most common Western variants. Depending on the region, they may be garnished with ingredients such as tofu, scallion corn.

Egg-based soups in the European cuisine

In France, tourin, a garlic soup, is made with egg whites which are drizzled into the soup in a similar way to how traditional egg drop soup is made.

In Spain, the similar and traditional sopa de ajo (“garlic soup”) uses egg whites to thicken the broth in a similar way.

In Austria and in Hungary the egg drop soup (Eierflockensuppe or Eierflöckchensuppe  is a simple, traditional recipe generally made for very young children or sick people. Scrambled eggs are mixed with flour and then poured into boiling soup in order to make small egg dumplings Spices can be added to the egg-flour mixture according to taste.

There is a similar recipe in Polish cuisine (kluski lane, lit. ‘poured noodles’), with the egg-flour mixture either poured directly into soup, or into boiling water, then strained and added to a soup or sauce. For children, often simmering milk (optionally with sugar) is used in place of soup.

In Russia, semolina is usually boiled in the chicken stock before the eggs are whisked in for a more substantial result, and flavored with chopped scallion and black pepper Simple egg dough dumplings similar to lazy varenik or the Ukrainian halusky are a frequent addition in the southern regions.

In Cyprus and Greece the egg is beaten and then slowly stirred in the soup so it does not curdle. Lemon and rice are the additional ingredients besides the chicken stock to make avgolemono, originally a dish from Jewish cuisine.

Zuppa Stracciatella

The idea of this soup isn’t uniquely Italian. It is really no more than another version of the Hungarian egg drop soup with an Italian twist. For the one, the eggs are mixed with Parmesan cheese to thicken the pasta of cooked egg in the soup. Put a few slices of artisan salume and a mix of marinated olives on the side and you have one fabulous winter meal.

Ingredients: 6 cups good quality chicken broth or stock
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp grated Parmesan
fresh Italian parsley and basil
1 cup baby spinach, cut in thin strips

Methods: In a large saucepan, bring the stock to a boil. Meanwhile, mix the cheese, parsley and basil with the beaten eggs. Stirring quickly in a clockwise motion, gradually drizzle the egg mixture into the hot stock, creating thready strips. Season the soup with salt and pepper.
For my variation, I added in a cup of  some lovely prosciutto tortellini and cooked it until the pasta was al dente and hot throughout.
Toss the spinach in just before serving so it doesn’t lose its fresh green color.

Chinese eggdrop soup

Ingredients:

4 cups salt reduced chicken stock

2 large tomatoes, chopped

2 tsp reduced salt soy sauce

1 tsp caster sugar

white pepper, to taste

1 tsp sesame oil

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 green onions, sliced diagonally

2 tbs torn coriander leaves

Methods:

Combine the stock, tomatoes, soy sauce and sugar in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil reduce the heat slightly and simmer for 2 minutes. Season with a little white pepper and the sesame oil. Add the eggs in a thin stream, while stirring the soup in a clockwise direction, to form thin stream of egg. Let stand for 1 minute, then serve in deep bowls, topped with green onions and coriander.

Tataki with red beetroot mousse

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What is Tataki

I lived in Sapporo for half a year, and it was there that I first ate tataki, which roughly meant dipping meat or fish in boiling water and saying out loud, “shabu shabu”, and the meat or fish was ready to be eaten dipped in soy sauce or other spicy sauce! Thus the tataki or tosa-mi is a method! Actually two methods of preparing fish or meat (In Japanese tataki means “pounded” or “hit into pieces”)

In the first “tataki” method, the meat or fish is seared very briefly over a hot flame or in a pan, and can be briefly marinated in vinegar sliced thin, and seasoned with ginger (which is ground or pounded into a paste, hence the name). Food so prepared can also be served with soy sauce and garnishes like a sashimi!

The method originated in Tosa province, now part of Kochi prefecture, where it was applied to bonito (katsuo-no-tataki). Lore has it that it was developed by Sakamoto Ryoma, a 19th century rebel samurai, who picked up the European technique of grilling meat from the foreigners resident in Nagasaki.

Uncooked food

In the second “tataki” method, it is the food that is “hit into pieces”. Fish such as tuna or horse mackerel are chopped and mixed with garnishes such as garlic, ginger, green onions or shiso leaves. Soy sauce may be poured over the chopped mixture before consumption

Tataki with beetroot mousse

Ingredients:
200g steaks
1 red beetroot, precooked
2 tbsp beetroot shoots
2 tbsp yogurt
1 tbsp za’atar
2 tbsp olive oil
pepper
salt

Preparation
Take the meat out of the fridge.

Mix the beetroot with the yoghurt and the za’atar, (or cumin, carraway seeds) season to taste with salt and pepper.

Season the meat with salt and pepper and fry briefly on both sides in the pan.

Let the meat rest under aluminium foil.

Cut the meat into fine strips.

Spoon some beetroot cream on the plates and place the strips of beef on top. Finish off with some beetroot shoots.

The Vesuviella a Christmas dessert from Neaples

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The Vesuviella, together with the Konosfoglia, is an innovative cake proposed to celebrate the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. There is no historical or traditional anecdotes to tell about it, but just simply to say that it is a cake created and offered in the “Cuori di Sfogliatella” pastry shop in Corso Novara in Naples.

A few years ago, the entrepreneur-owner of the business, Antonio Ferreri, together with the president of the Movimento Neoborbonico, Gennaro De Crescenzo, and the president of the Fondazione Il Giglio, Marina Carrese, organised the presentation of these new desserts, which are nothing more than new types of sfogliatelle.

A novelty appreciated by the Neapolitans

Neapolitans are very loyal to tradition and don’t like to see their classic recipes distorted. However, the inventiveness of this Sfogliatella numero 2 has been widely appreciated. Together with the Gelato Konosfoglia, the novelty immediately struck a chord, also because it is not a substitute for the classic dessert, but an additional variant.

The dessert was created in any case in a popular pastry shop in Naples that gives value to the confectionery translations not only from Campania but also from Sicily.

The desserts dedicated to the Two Sicilies have been created taking into account the main values of Campanian and Sicilian confectionery. These desserts are exclusive to the Cuori di Sfogliatella pastry shop.

Konosfoglia versus Vesuviella

Before talking about Vesuvielle, let’s also say what Konosfoglia is, born together and sold hand in hand. The latter is the innovative ice cream was created at Cuori di Sfogliatella. The new cone is put in place of the classic curly sfogliatella wrapper, inside of which is the ice cream. This cone is basket-shaped and replaces the bucket.

These wrappers are filled according to what the bakery has available. The basic ingredient is ice cream made from pasteurised ricotta, cream, whole milk and natural cinnamon flavouring. To round off the treat, fruit sauces or natural extracts are added.

The inventiveness of the confectioner then poets the Konosfoglia to present itself with tasty decorations made of elements such as strawberries, chocolate chips, etc..

It should be remembered that this wrapper, together with the ice cream and sauces, are produced in the laboratory in an artisanal way. This is a concept that has gone straight to the heart of the consumer and is encapsulated in a single sheet of pastry, for so much flavour.

A dedication to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies

This very special dessert, named Vesuviella because of its volcanic shape and in honour of the ‘King of Naples’ (i.e. Vesuvius), is a dedication to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. This is why there is also an offshoot of Sicilian tradition, i.e. sheep’s ricotta, typical of cannolo and cassata with cow’s ricotta used to make sfogliatella. It is no coincidence that the sauce is made as a tribute to Sicily, using another typical regional product, namely natural pistachio paste from Bronte.

he Vesuviella, emblem of the Bourbon world, is in fact presented in two unique versions, namely Orange Vesuviella and Pistachio Vesuviella. As for the ricotta cheese, 50% sheep’s milk ricotta and 50% cow’s milk ricotta are used for the mixture.

Mix of novelties and traditions

As for the Vesuvielle, it has very characteristic proportions as well as particular and at the same time simple ingredients. These include less semolina and more ricotta than in the classic recipe.

A new cake was created for the Kingdom of the two Sicilies, not the sfogliatella, because a new cake was needed to represent both Sicily and Campania. And the volcanic shape is in honour of the fact that the two regions are home to Mount Etna and Mount Vesuvius respectively.

Vesuviella borbonica and Konosfoglia borbonico, it should be noted, belong to the CompraSud project of the Neoborbon Movement and the Fondazione Il Giglio.

Medlar cake with Pavlova’s top

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What is a medlar?”-asks those who have never encountered this interesting fruit.

Well, medlar is an ancient fruit variety that has been known and grown since Roman times, but it actually
lived in its heyday in the Middle Ages, its special curiosity is that it ripens
in winter and is delicious when it has already been snotted! Maybe that’s why
they had their medieval name “open ass” or “snotted ass” (I
said it would be an interesting fruit!), and in France it was called dog bottom or
“cul de chien” which is not an appetizing name.

Not only the name of the medlar is interesting, but also that in order to eat them, it is necessary to
“ripen”. Which pretty much means that they need to be softened first,
more accurately rotted. It is probably understandable why famous people such as
Shakespeare and G. Chaucer found this fruit so impressive? 

I think it’s because the very idea that the fruit rottens before it reaches its heyday has proved
fascinating to them. In Geoffrey Chaucer’s case, wilted fruit was figuratively
a symbol of prostitution or an epithet for people who were worn out at young age due
to alcohol and depravity.

Shakespeare also remembers it in several of his dramas, such as Timon of Athens, who lamented
about old age and felt so wilted as a medlar. Then in As You Like
It, but also in the Romeo and Juliet, the couples confess love under a
medlar tree. In
Spanish literature Cervantes: Don Quixoté also nibbles acorns and medlars with his servant Sancho Pansa.

 Medlar cake Cooking time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

– 400g medlar ripe

– 1/2 cup water

– 5 tablespoons caster sugar or refined sugar, plus 1/2 cup caster sugar or
superfine sugar

– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste

– 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

– 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

– 1/2 small lemon zest

-2 eggs, separated into protein and yolks

– 1-2 sheets of muffin dough

– 1 teaspoon vanilla paste extra

– maple syrup or honey for serving (optional)

– sprinkle with a pinch of salt 

There is one way to store medlar is to put them in a brown paper bag for 1-2
weeks. Caution, because some berries soften faster than others, so after 6 days
check that they have not become soft and pasty, then remove the ripe ones from
the bag and put them in the fridge. After that, check the naspole-medlar daily to make
sure they are not ripe. Store the steamed snacks in the fridge until they are
all ready. During the winter, leave them outside in a box to turn brown.

Step 1 – Peel and seed the medlar. In the middle there are seeds the size
of cherry seeds. Discard medlars that have hardened or been stained. When
you’re ready, it’s best to pass through a densely woven filter. I would add
that, by the way, this was the most time-consuming, pee-stamp work during the
baking season.

Put the medlar in a pot, pour in the water, flavor with 5 tablespoons of
sugar, spices and lemon zest, then cook over a medium heat for 8-10 minutes.
Add the egg yolks and cook for a few minutes at low temperatures. Cool.

Step 2 – Until the filling cools, bake the dough out of frozen muffin dough
(but it can also be made without pasta, served only with meringue and served in
cups on the naspola cream). Preheat the oven to 220C/440F. Knead the dough and
divide into four equal portions. When baking a cake comes a “small twist”,
because you need to put weight on them (raw rice or dried beans also work). Bake
for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes have passed, remove the baking weights. Spoon
the naspola-medlar filling into the half-baked pastas and bake for a further 15
minutes.

Step 3 – Remove the cakes from the oven and set
the temperature to 250C /482F. Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl with a
whisk until stiff. Gradually add the 1/2 cup sugar, then the vanilla, and
beat until the meringue is shiny and firm. Spoon the beaten foam on top of the
cakes. Bake for 5 more minutes. Serve with honey or maple syrup or poured with a
little-densed orange juice.