3 September 2009



Teriyaki sauce is a traditional Japanese sauce that became popular in Western cultures, long before sushi became the ambasador of Japanese cuisine! If you are like me it is something you have often ordered in restaurants or bought in Japanese food stores, but never taken the time to make yourself. Which is silly really, as after this weekend I realised what an easy recipe it is to make.

All you need are equal parts of sugar, soy sauce, mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine) and sake. These four ingredients are mixed together, boiled  and reduced to create a thick sweet sauce for coating meat and fish. The word Teri refers to the lacquered sheen or luster given by the sauce and the word yaki the cooking method of grilling/broilling. After so many years of using the word Teriyaki it’s nice to know what it really means!

My brother has just returned to Holland after a three month internship in Canada, and so this is the next recipe in the Dutch Series, of easy recipes that don’t require an oven! If you prefer to eat chicken or beef instead of salmon, this recipe can easily be adapted, especially after reading about the recent Fraser River Sockeye salmon issues in Western Canada!



31 August 2009


Courgette pizza

PIZZA : A kitchen garden is a dream I have had for some time, however as we currently live in the city center with only a balcony fit for potted herbs,  I have to live vicariously through Olivier’s mother. Josiane has a wonderful potager in France, where she grows everything from runner beans and beetroot to leeks & lettuce.

However it is the courgettes (zucchinis) that are growing like wild fire, taking up more than their share of the vegetable garden. As the summer months pass and Autumn draws near, Josiane has an increasingly difficult time keeping up with their pace and as a result, come August I am the happy owner of several enormous courgettes.

Now I tell you, grateful as I am, a girl can only do so much with courgettes and after my fifth batch of soup I was getting desperate. The fact that I have been on an Italian theme for the past few post and recently been perfecting my hand at homemade pizza dough, gave me the idea for this recipe!

The mint to be honest was a lucky accident…. I  was preparing the pizza for this post, grabbed the herb jar of dried ‘basel’…. shook it generously over the pizza, only to look down and discover that the label read MINT! Shit I thought… oh well, too late to turn back now, so into the oven it went.



Leek & Bacon Tart


When I told Olivier I was gong to post this recipe for leek and bacon tart he said, ‘oh the  Flammekueche‘…. ‘Oh the what ??? ‘ Cheeky man throwing out fancy words. But he did peak my intersest and so off I went to find out more. As it turns out the word Flammekueche roughly translates to ‘baked in the flames’ and is a traditional Alsatian dish, made with a thin pizza like bread, covered with crème fraîche, garnished with small bacon slices(lardons) and onions, then baked in the oven.

I happened to have some leeks, a packet of lardons and some puff pastry on hand, not to mention something of an appetite. Now it is all very well and good  to want to make everything yourself, however when it comes to puff pastry, I fear I fold like a cheap deck of cards for the ready-made, store bought variety. Guilty your honour! Futzing around with dough and layers of butter in this summer heat is not my idea of a good time. However if it is yours, do not let me stop you, in fact I take my hat off to you!

This recipes is meals in minutes and is perfect for those nights when you look in the fridge and think ‘what the heck am I going to cook tonight’. You can also cut it into bite-size pieces and serve them as canapés.



25 August 2009



What you didn’t know about true Italian tomato sauce…..

Marisa, the concierge in my office building,  is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to Italian cooking.  Born and raised in the small village of Zogno, 4km from San Pellegrino, she grew up with the transitional values of simple & delicious hands on cooking.

At the end of the day when my job is ending and hers is starting, we often spend some time chatting about recipes. She told me that for Italians, the true way of making tomato sauce is with either onions or garlic but never both together. The tomatoes should be very ripe, as that is where the taste comes from and will make or break your sauce.  Removing the skin is also essential, as is a generous quantity of fresh basil and hand chopped garlic.



21 August 2009


Eight friends and a pasta machine is a great recipe for a dinner party and a welcomed change to the standard fare of one exhausted host, slaving over a hot stove while the guests wait ‘patiently’ in the next room.

Weeks ago at Lucy’s wedding, Helen & Rich casually mentioned the steam oven in their kitchen. I’m not sure they were quite prepared for my overly enthusiastic reaction…. Imagine a fat kid on a lolly pop and you are getting warmer. So they suggested we come over for dinner and I said great, why don’t we all cook together.  Friends are always surprised by this idea, I think mostly because they have never done it. I grew up in a family where everyone, men and women alike, pitched in to make the meal. The talking, drinking and cooking together was half the fun.

When planning the cooking menu, I had to keep in mind that we were 8 in the kitchen and that the recipes should be vegetarian for Lucy 🙂 While the steam oven was a great temptation, I put this on the back burner, opting for homemade pasta making – as I thought it would be a better idea for a large group.



This summer I went to visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall. How did I visit them if they were lost you might ask…. well once was lost now is found. The Heligan estate was in the Tremayne family for over 400 years, however in 1914, with the start of WWI the gardens were abandoned and left to disrepair. It was only seventy years late in 1990 that Tim Smith, John Nelson and a growing team of enthusiastic volunteers began restoring the gardens to their original splendor and working order.

They now boast one of the most wonderful vegetable garden with several rare varieties of plants, some of which you can buy from seed. There were also two wheelbarrows with freshly plucked veggies for guest to take home. A plump beetroot and several new potatoes made their way into my suitcase. I can only imagine what customs must have thought when scanning my things!!!

All this walking through gardens inspired me to create a few new recipes, including this salad. Great for hot summer lunches,  using fresh vegetables and easy to make in advance.



7 April 2009


Almond Butter

ALMOND BUTTER : Every once and a while I get a hankering for peanut butter. But I normally put it aside when faced with the astronomical price of Sfr 5 (~$5) for a small 250g jar. In Switzerland peanut butter does not rank amongst the basic, inexpensive food staples  –  it is an imported oddity, that many Swiss people, like my husband, have never tried. The whole idea of peanut butter & jam sandwiches, not to mention banana left him cold. That was of course until he tried it and like the rest of us, fell hopelessly in love with this sticky nutty spread. It makes me think of the film Meet Jo Black when the butler asks him what he would like, ‘just the butter & a spoon?’.

There is another perversity in this whole peanut butter loving situation and that is that it normally gives me a stomach ache. I think it has something to do with the oils they use to make it. Which got me to thinking about making nut butters in general and people with peanut allergies. It must be especially hard on children not being able to eat certain foods and helpful for mothers to have tasty alternatives. Coincidence would have it that I had two packages of whole almonds and a little free time, so I set about making my own almond butter.

Rave reviews is all I have to say. Absolutely delicious! The only issue I ran into was the desire to further reduce the amount of oil used, however the choice was between that and ruining my new blender, so I decided not to risk it. However if you do try this recipe with less oil please let me know how it turns out. I also recommend substituting a little almond oil instead of sunflower, it adds to the almond butter taste, which has a slight sweetness with a hint of sea salt to compliment.



20 March 2009


The DUTCH Series N°5 : Lentil Soup Recipe with Saffron Garlic Roux

It is officially the 1st day of SPRING!

So why am I writing about a winter soup you may ask. Good question. The thing is – the calendar may say that Spring has arrived,  but while it is sunny in Geneva it is still very chilly. I was nearly blown away this morning when crossing the bridge  – literally! It is because of  ‘la bise’ a Northerly wind that comes whistling through the city at a bone chilling rate. It is at these times you really need some stick to your ribs, heart warming food.

Years ago lentil soup was the very last thing on my list of favourite foods. It was something to eat under duress. In fact I was such a terrible child, that once my aunt went to all the trouble of preparing a homemade lentil stew and I turned my nose up and said I couldn’t possibly.  Naughty naughty naughty.

I have since grown up & so have my taste buds.  The first lentil soup recipeI tried will remain nameless, as the spices were all off and it made enough for the Russian army… needless to say, I was not impressed. I have since fiddled and tweaked my way to come up with this version, with a hint of chilly, the tang of lemon, soothed with spices & served with a generous dollop of saffron, garlic roux!