Cooking Giove’s Way

A year and a half ago I was visiting Montalcino and met my good friend Giovanni. He needed a prep cook for a class he was giving for Sadie Nardini’s yoga retreat,  and I happily volunteered. It was one of those “pinch me” moments, as we chopped veggies, spoke of food and life, and looked out upon this view. We became fast friends, and this year we attended his beautiful wedding. Another pinch me moment – he and Stefania, the party, the people, the food and wine…WOW!

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And now they are both coming here for our American Thanksgiving celebration. Yay!!!

Then, the following week, Giovanni will offer a cooking class for Expat Kochen! Here’s a preview…   ;-) Film isn’t so great – when I took this video had no idea I would end up using it like this, but anyway, sure had fun putting this together. Hope you enjoy and are intrigued to join the class!

We will hold the class on Tuesday morning, December 2nd. We’ll meet in the morning, cook together, then wine and dine for lunch. My apologies to all who cannot come at this time – work schedules and all. Expat Kochen events happen because of the generosity of people who donate their kitchens, and we are so appreciative! Sometimes we have daytime events, sometimes evening. (If you are interested in hosting an event, just send me an email and let’s brainstorm about it.)

We have a spectacularly beautiful kitchen for this class in Klein Basel, and the class will be limited to about 10 people total – so if you are interested please email me immediately. We are working on the menu – he’ll definitely teach us how to make his homemade pasta, and oh, I forgot to mention Giovanni is a professional pastry chef, so know we’ll do some kind of fabulous dessert! I am not sure about the rest of the menu – but know it will be wonderful. Cost will cover food – once I have the menu sorted will have those details for you via email. Think 40 Chf or less…

Looking forward! Email me here.

 

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Makin’ it easy…

Hello – it has been too long! No excuses – just lots happening and me not making EK a priority. However, I am back and committed to posting more often, even short posts like this one!

By the way, I am planning an Italian Cooking Class with Giovanni in the next 3 weeks or so. More info soon – email us if you are interested! 

When I am cooking I want to make it easy and fun. And the fact is sometimes I feel quite lazy, ;-) like today when I was making soup. I started out thinking I would make veggie stock out of the left over cabbage in the fridge along with some onion, carrots, and who knows what else. So I threw the cabbage in the pot. Then I realized there was more there than I had realized and decided to make cabbage soup. Only the cabbage was already in the pot and was whole – you know – big leaves. It needed to be chopped. The answer?

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Yup, my trusty kitchen shears. I chop everything with them. The cabbage in this soup as well as the carrots. Thick carrots even! And then as I poured the canned tomatoes into the soup I realized they were whole, not chopped, and so I cut them in the can, and a bit more after they were in the soup.

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And that is my tip for makin’ it easy today. Keep on cooking!

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The “it just tastes like a candy bar” dessert!

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Ok these are so easy and so tasty – my family loves them and guests too. Have your treats without the guilt! These are sweet and caloric but they are good calories – far from the empty calories of most candy bars (More info on dates here). 

Almond Butter Dates with Dark Chocolate

Ingredients:

Dried Dates
Almond Butter*
Dark Chocolate

*I make my own almond butter by just taking almond meal (easily available in Switzerland at Coop and Migros) and blending it with a non flavored oil, (grape seed works well) a bit of honey and salt to taste.  Delish and easy!

Just cut the dates in half and take out the pit.  Fill with almond butter and add two small pieces of dark chocolate to the top.  That’s it!  Oh, freeze if you like. I love them frozen.  These are not only good for dessert, but also just as a snack when you are craving something sweet.

Maria Wilson, who introduced me to this lovely recipe, says they taste like frozen SNICKERS® to her – to me they just taste amazing!  Try them for yourself and please let me know what you think!!!

THANKS MARIA!!!!

Happy snacking!

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Mushroom mess? Oh yes!

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What you see there are most of the ingredients for last night’s dinner.  I was inspired when visiting my sister Urmi recently.  She took portobello mushrooms and grilled them for a main meal.  Add grilled veggies and voilà!  I began by roasting some onions, red bell peppers, and tomatoes.  Tossed them in a vinaigrette of olive oil, balsamic, salt, and pepper.  Had hoped to grill, but the weather wasn’t cooperating so, roasted the in the oven (190 C, 375 F) till they were browned and lovely.  Then I continued with these…IMG_3759Not portobellos but beautiful!  Any mushrooms will do.  Also tossed in the vinaigrette.  Had some avocados on hand so made a “mediterranean” style guacamole, which consisted of smashed avocados, chopped onion, garlic, and tomatoes along with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Once the veggies were all roasted, slices some fresh mozzarella and put it on top of the mushrooms until melted.

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Serve it all on a bed of lettuce with a rustic baguette.  Such a satisfying meal – and very filling.  Can’t wait to do it again on the grill!

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Here’s to rustic cooking – my specialty!  Thanks Urmi – what a feast!

 

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Bean Inspiration

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Recently I was making Feijoada (Brazilian Black Bean Stew) with my friend from São Paulo.  My first job was to sort through the beans for stones, foreign matter.  When I did, I saw 2 red beans and asked her, “What do you think, shall we keep those in or take them out?”  She quickly replied, “Keep them in.  They are like us, the expats, the foreigners.  They add flavor!”

Here’s to us adding flavor to wherever it is we are living.  Sorry we have been away from Expat Kochen for a while – much going on – I know you understand.  More soon, including some events!

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Cook & Dine – Restaurant Sonne, Bottmingen

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Schedules are busy, so we have postponed this event till next fall.   In September, join Chef Philippe Bamas of Restaurant & Bistro Sonne in Bottmingen for a morning of cooking and an evening of finest dining.  Originally from Provence, this innovative French chef now delights diners in Basel lucky enough to find him.  Find him I did, and after happily eating there on several occasions, I met the owner and chef, and well, here we are!

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10 of us will cook together with Mr. Bamas on Saturday morning for several hours.  Then we get to go home, rest and tidy up (hey let’s make it a DUGO night – Dress Up, Go Out!) and go back to the restaurant with the guest of our choice to enjoy together what we have prepared.

Cook & Dine Package

–Cook with Chef Bamas for 4 -5 hours on Saturday morning/afternoon (Get ready to work.)
–Prepare and enjoy this hand selected menu that was especially designed for Expat Kochen!
–Kickstart your cooking abilities by learning amazing techniques from this innovative & passionate chef.
–Learn from a master – ask questions – be inspired!
–Indulge in a feast for 2, including a trio of starters, fish as a main course, and a decadent chocolate dessert.
–Enjoy an aperitif and wine as part of the menu, along with water and coffee.
–Take home recipes, life long skills, and amazing memories.

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Just eating for two at this fine restaurant would cost around 300 Chf.  For only 100 Chf more, you can learn from and cook with the master and have an incredible meal for 2 including a glass of wine with each course – all for 400 Chf.

The philosophy of Sonne Bottmingen:

“If you want to treat your guests to food of the highest possible standard, then using fresh, high-quality ingredients goes without saying. However, freshness alone will not bring that happy smile to people’s faces that tells the chef he has got it right.

Philippe Bamas’ roots lie in picturesque Provence. His cooking style has also been inspired by his travels all over the world. The result is light, delicate dishes that never cease to surprise: they are unmistakeable and sophisticated. At the Sonne Bottmingen, Philippe Bamas looks forward to delighting you with his passion for the very best.”

And now, to further inspire you and whet your appetite, here’s a link for the menu…Cook&Dine-menu.  (Note it includes foie gras, tuna and more, fish as the main course and a decadent chocolate dessert!)

And to learn more about Philippe Bamas another link…Philippe Bamas info.

This is an incredible opportunity to work with an up and coming chef who happens to live in our own back yard.  Don’t miss your chance to join this unique class.  If you are interested please contact me as soon as possible to hold your place with a 100 Chf deposit.  

What/Where Cook & Dine Experience for 1 cook, 2 diners at Restaurant Sonne, Bottmingen
When: Saturday morning and evening, 1st of February, May 17th, 2014
Cost: 400 Chf for entire experience, cooking for 1, dining for 2
Register: Email expatkochen@gmail.com by Jan. 24th.  Limit 8 people. We’ll send payment info and details via email.

What a way to start 2014 celebrate spring – I am so happily anticipating this event and so looking forward to sharing it with you!

Warmest regards,

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Foie Gras Field Trip – Alsace

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As the holidays approach I am looking forward to sharing my handmade, by my own hands, foie gras!  What a treat it was to go and spend time with Monsieur Marcel Metzler of La Boutique Canoie in Gueberschwihr.  He and his family welcomed us with open arms and incredible food!

On Friday evening we had a sumptuous meal at his restaurant, Le Goldert, complete with three types of foie gras; duck, goose, and a combination of the two. Amazing. And a perfect way to prepare us for the morning class.

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After stuffing ourselves with incredible food and wine we wandered (or did we roll?  It was downhill!) to our lovely apartments.  The next morning we had a bit of coffee and treats together and then we were ready!

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We headed upstairs from the Boutique and began with a history of foie gras, including details of how the geese and duck are fed (FYI They are not force fed, in fact, Monsieur Metzler says that only makes sick animals, not good foie gras), and then how the livers are harvested and delivered to him ultra-fresh.

(Just recently I heard a great story on This American Life about foie gras and the way it is made, and indeed how it doesn’t work to force feed the birds, but instead to care for them tenderly.  I invite you to listen to this story and leave a comment here after listening. This story goes right along with everything that we learned from Monsieur Metzler.)

After that things moved pretty quickly as you can see…

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 We listened, we learned, we cleaned and prepared our foie gras. Wanna learn yourself?  Get yourself to La Boutique Canoie or join us for the Expat Kochen class next year.  I am so looking forward to it!

Next Candy was bestowed with the “top chef” crown.  Way to go Candy!

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After that we went to a wine tasting at Domaine Bernard Humbrecht for more deliciousness while our foie gras was cooking.  No fun at all, can you tell? ;-)

Gathered our things from the apartments and then headed back to La Boutique Canoie so we each could bring home our homemade, handmade foie gras…along with big smiles!What a wonderful 24 hours in Alsace.  (I must admit that I liked it so much I stayed till over so I got 48 hours or so – glorious!) Thanks to all the participants.  And here’s to doing it again next year!

With that I wish you all happy holidays and a fabulous start to 2014.  Cook with love, eat well, take time to enjoy your food and your loved ones.  See you next year!

Warmly,

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Sautéed Salad?

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Why not?

Recently when wanting a “different” salad, I saw that I had some baby romaine lettuce and thought of grilling it, but the weather wasn’t cooperating.  Have you heard of or tried grilling lettuce?  I know, sounds kind of odd, and perhaps it is, but then isn’t anything that is new odd, at least for a while?  Anyway, I have grilled lettuce and loved the slightly roasted flavor that results for the whole salad.

However, as I said the weather wasn’t cooperating.  So plan B (I often end up liking plan B much better than plan A.  You?) it was.  I began by caramelizing lots of onions in olive oil and  a sprinkle or two of salt.  I had bought a huge bag and they weren’t lasting so I needed to use them, and caramelizing is always such a great solution.  Not only do you end up with an onion jam that is a great accompaniment for so many things, you also get to enjoy the smell as you cook them – marvelous!

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Once the onions were nicely yellowing I put half of them into a jar for later use, and then added some dried chopped figs to the mix.  (In Basel is the season for those lovely ones from Spain, available at Coop and Migros)

IMG_2959After sautéeing them for about 7 minutes, I deglazed the pan with some sherry, and took the onions and figs out of the pan and set them aside.  Then I added a bit more olive oil (about a tablespoon) and put the cut romaine lettuce, cut side down, into the pan and left for about 5 minutes, until the cut side was just beginning to brown.

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 I flipped them over and moved them around so that all the lettuce could get those lovely browned bits on the bottom.

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And that was about it.  I did slice and add some avocado to the mix.  You can do the same, adding whatever you have on hand that sounds good.  Plate the salad individually with the onion fig jam on top, and then drizzle with balsamic or balsamic crema (buy or make).  This salad was a big hit, and other than taking the time to caramelize the onions (which should never be rushed, but can be done ahead of time), was quick.

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This is a very satisfying salad, especially as the weather turns cold.  Let me know if you try it.

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Class in Alsace? Foie Gras it is!

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An overnight getaway, dinner,  learning foie gras preparation, wine tasting, hiking around a beautiful and yet, not so well known Alsatian town?  WHO’S IN?

After years of organizing events in the Basel area I am happy to announce the first ever Expat Kochen Field Research Class.  The topic:  FOIE GRAS.  The place:  Gueberschwihr.  Gueberschwihr, about an hour from Basel, is a charming little gem of a town.  At first glance you might pass it by, but you would miss a lovely spot with cobblestone streets, traditional Alsatian architecture, and warm, inviting people.

Surrounded by vineyards and spectacular views, on Friday night we will dine at the Restaurant le Goldert where our meal will be prepared by Marcel Metzler, chef and Artisan Createur de Foie Gras.  We will spend the night at a nearby Gite, or bed and breakfast within stumbling distance of the restaurant.

Saturday morning after breakfast we will attend Mr. Metzler’s Foie Gras Class, where we will learn how to clean and prepare duck liver for foie gras.  Next comes wine-tasting/food pairing class in the village, followed by some free time while the foie gras cooks.  You can grab a picnic and hike to see the spectacular views, wander the town and continue wine-tasting, or just sit and soak up the ambience.

By late afternoon our foie gras will be ready for pickup.  We’ll meet at the Goldert restaurant for afternoon coffee or tea, grab our goodies and be ready to go.  Unless you aren’t ready to leave, in which case you are welcome to arrange to stay for Saturday night as well and make a fabulous weekend getaway out of it!

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THE DATES:  NOVEMBER 15 – 16, 2013

  • Stay in Gueberschwihr, a  town at the foot of the Voges mountains in the wine country of Alsace.
  • Learn the art of preparing foie gras from Chef Marcel Metzler, foie gras specialist.
  • Enjoy Friday night dinner specially prepared for us by Chef Marcel Metzler.
  • Taste wine in a “cave” that has been operating since the 1600’s.
  • Explore the spectacular views hiking the area (map provided).
  • Enjoy sharing this experience with other Basel area foodies!
  • Take home 400 grams of foie gras, preserved and ready to open for your next special occasion, or just because you can’t wait!
  • Enjoy a welcome glass of Cremant upon arrival, and take home a special gift from Expat Kochen as a memento.

Price: 350 Chf per person. Early Bird Discount of 50 Chf available to those who sign up and arrange deposit by October 15!

Email me for the details.  10 people max for this excursion — (only 7 spots left). Sign up soon!  

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Here’s to taking advantage of where we live and grabbing experiences when we can. And here’s to enjoying the area, the people, the wine, the food and the preparing of it, together. I am so looking forward to this adventure – already have some people signed up.  Won’t you join us?

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Smiling in anticipation,

Rylla Signature

 

Rylla Resler
Expat Kochen
expatkochen@gmail.com

Remember space is extremely limited – contact me soon!  

Summer Salad – Colorful Couscous!

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This colorful, crunchy salad is filled with enough yumminess to make a meal. And tastes like summer to me – as school starts next week for my kids, I am reveling in the last days! Ahhh, summer!

Confetti Couscous Salad

225 g (8 oz) couscous
2 bunches flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh ground coriander seeds
1 red onion, roughly chopped
1 cucumber, roughly chopped
1 large carrot, roughly chopped and blanched*
1 sweet potato, peeled and cooked in salted water, then roughly chopped

60 g (2 oz) sunflower seeds
60 g (2 oz) sesame seeds (I used black which look so lovely)
30 g (1 oz) flax seeds

1 lime, juice and zest
1/2 cup olive oil (more or less to taste)
sea salt and fresh ground pepper

  1. Cook the sweet potato in salted water and blanch the carrots.  (To blanch simply drop the carrots into boiling water for a minute or two depending on the size of the carrot, then put into cold water to stop the cooking process.)  Then roughly chop both.
  2. Cover the couscous with twice its volume of hot water and leave to soak for 10 minutes.
  3. Lightly toast all your seeds.  (How to here)
  4. Mix all ingredients together and leave to stand for 30 minutes to let the flavours develop.
  5. Serve at room temperature.  (I like it chilled also, especially on a hot day!)

You might want to add a bit of hot pepper sauce to the mix (stir in with lime juice and olive oil). The result is tasty and summery, looks like a big bowl of confetti to me. What fun! By the way, my 13 year old loved this – hope you do too.

Happy Cooking!

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