Tag Archives: swiss food

{5} Biberle

I’m sticking with the Swiss theme for this next bake. These little cookies are called Biberle, or gingerbread almond nuggets if you’re after a clunky translation. I tried to find out what the name means – Biber is German for beaver, so they could mean “little beavers” which I like. If someone knows for sure, let me know. Their shape sort of looks like a beaver’s tail, so maybe I’m right after all?

Biberle hail from the St Gallen area and they are the thing you want when you fancy something that is a bit like gingerbread and a bit like marzipan. There are two types – round cookies filled with marzipan and the tops elaborately decorated using moulds, and these versions which are the less fancy roll-and-slice cousins.


Biberle might look like a bit of a faff to make, but they are actually fairly straightforward. You make a simple spiced honey and flour dough, and leave it to sit for a few days so that the spice flavour gets a chance to develop. Then when you’ve got a moment in your busy week, you just need to roll it out, add a long thin log of marzipan, and wrap it in the gingerbread dough. Then slice into funky little trapezoid shapes, bake and you’re done.

I was a little wary of making these at first as the dough is not much more than flour, spices and honey. I’ve made something similar in the past – couques de Dinant but they were rock-hard, and it turned out the idea was you just gnawed at them slowly. I wasn’t too keen to have something similarly tough here. However, the recipe is made with some baking soda, which had a bit of an unexpected effect. When I added it, it reacted a little as the honey was still slightly warm. I left the dough to rest for four days and when I came back it had puffed up. Perhaps the dough was otherwise a little acidic or the soda reacted with the honey? I don’t know, but it did mean the dough was workable. I did wonder if that meant that any lift that the soda was going to give had gone, but there was no need to worry – the baking soda did its thing a third time in the oven, and the gingerbread element was pleasingly puffed up.


For the filling, you are looking for proper marzipan – the stuff that is mostly almonds. Check a packet next time you’re in a store – very often the stuff called “marzipan” might only have 25% nuts in it. This can be easily fixed – either buy a high-nut marzipan/almond paste (i.e. more than 50% almonds) or just make it yourself! All you need are ground almonds, icing sugar and something to bind the lot together. I used a couple of spoons of glucose and a little water, plus almond extract and a dash of rosewater as flavourings. You really could go crazy when you’re making the filling – rum, orange zest, lemon zest, amaretto…the only thing to be a little wary of is that I don’t think you want a filling that is too moist, as it will probably go runny and leak out during baking. Not sure the Swiss would approve of that.

The final thing that is really, really weird in this recipe is the glaze you use to give the Biberle a shiny finish. You toast a tablespoon of cornflour in a pan until it goes brown (well, it goes from white to a very pale brown), then cool it, and mix with water and boil it to make a glaze. Whatever was going on, it seemed to work. Just go with it – if nothing else, you’ve learned a new cooking technique – the cornflour glaze!

When I baked these, the dough was a little hard at first, but that was very easy to sort out. Pop them all in an airtight container with a slice of bread. Leave overnight, and the next day, the bread will be dry and the cookies soft and full of spicy delight. Because if you go to all the effort of making Biberle, you want them to taste their best!

To make Biberle (makes 25) (adapted from here)

For the dough:

• 125g runny floral honey
• 25g soft brown sugar
• 75g plain flour
• 50g light rye flour (or just use more plain flour)
• pinch of salt
• 1 1/2 teaspoons Lebkuchen or pumpkin pie spices
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

For the marzipan filling:

• 125g ground almonds
• 75g icing sugar
• 2 tablespoons liquid glucose
• almond extract, to taste
• rose water, to taste

For the glaze:

• 1 tablespoon cornflour
• 100ml water

1. Make the dough. Put the honey and sugar in a small saucepan, and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Don’t let it boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool until just warm.

2. Sieve the plain flour, rye flour, salt, spices and baking soda into a large bowl. Add the lukewarm honey mixture and stir until to forms a dough. Cover with cling film and leave to rest (at least overnight, but I left mine for four days).

3. Next, make the marzipan filling. Grind the almonds and icing sugar. Tip into a bowl, add the glucose, and almond extract and rose water to taste. Add a little at a time – you can always add more! Add water if needed to bring everything together to a firm dough. Wrap in cling film and chill for at least an hour.

4. Preheat the oven to 180°C (355°F) and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.

5. On a floured worktop, form the dough into a ball, then roll into a sausage about 45cm in length. Now flatten the dough and use a rolling pin to get a strip that is 10cm wide.

6. Take the marzipan, and form into a long log, also 45cm. Brush the dough lightly with water, then place the marzipan on one edge of the dough, and roll it up so that the marzipan is tightly wrapped. Trim the dough if needed, and seal the join.

7. Use a sharp knife to cut the roll into 20-25 pieces. You need to alternate the angle so that the Biberle have a triangular shape, but make sure the dough is connected all the way around.

8. Transfer the cookies to the baking sheet, leaving space between them to expand. Bake for around 12 minutes, turning the tray half-way to get an even colour.

9. While the Biberle are baking, prepare the glaze. Put the cornflour in a saucepan and heat until it turns a pale golden colour. Remove from the heat and cool. Mix with the cold water, the heat and bring to the boil – it should thicken and become less cloudy. Once the Biberle are baked, remove from the oven and brush each one while hot with the glaze. Leave to cool.

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{4} Magenbrot

My baking this year has been on the lighter side, both in terms of colour and flavour. So it is time to change that. Meet Magenbrot, a spicy chocolate treat from Switzerland.


The name Magenbrot translates as the rather curious “stomach bread”. Not, of course, that this means there is some sort of offal in there. The name comes from the combination of spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and aniseed used in Magenbrot which were thought to improve digestion, in a similar vein to those strong herbal post-dinner drinks you encounter in Alpine countries. The question of how many pieces of sweet Magenbrot you could eat without upsetting your stomach remains unclear, but I rather suspect the answer is not “as much as you want”.

Magenbrot is not just a purely Swiss affair, and I have memories of it from visiting funfairs in Germany as an exchange student. I even brought a couple of bags home from a two-week exchange visit, but made the mistake of not eating it all quickly enough, and it went hard. Lesson learned! I also remember Magenbrot being incredibly addictive. The pieces were wonderfully spicy, and with that classic combination of spices which seems to be the essence of the festive period, and the fact those pieces are quite small means you can keep having another piece. And another piece. And another piece…


I have made this recipe with two surprising ingredients. First, the main liquid here is cold espresso. However this does not have much of an influence on the final flavour – it just means the chocolate flavour has just a little more depth to it, but you certainly don’t taste coffee when you bit into it.

The other odd thing you’ll see here is potassium carbonate. This is a raising agent used in traditional German baking, and provides a lot of lift to the dough when making cookies. You could use baking powder or baking soda instead of the potassium carbonate (note I haven’t tried this recipe with either), but I quite like using these quirky raising agents in my baking, and these days they are fairly easy to track down online. If you want some other recipes using it, you could try German Aachner Printen or Danish brunkager.

The actual process of making Magenbrot is fairly easy and will be familiar if you’ve ever made Italian cantucci. Essentially you make a dough, roll it flat, cut strips, bake them, then cut the resulting “logs” into pieces. At this point, the dough doesn’t seem sweet enough, and will seem a bit dry. Then you coat the lot in a sweet chocolate glaze, which provides the necessary sweetness and softens the Magenbrot. The result is absolutely delicious, which is a good thing since this recipe will leave you facing dozens and dozens and dozens of pieces of Magenbrot. Hopefully you’ve got the stomach to cope with it all!


Magenbrot will benefit from being kept for a few days in an airtight container, as the spice flavour will develop. If you keep it too long, it can dry out, but you can easily solve this by adding a slice or two of fresh bread to soften up the Magenbrot again.

To make Magenbrot (makes 80-90 pieces) (adapted from here)

For the dough:

• 250g syrup (I used 2/3 light and 1/3 dark)
• 75g butter
• 1 medium egg
• 125ml cold espresso
• 500g bread flour
• 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
• 2 teaspoons Lebkuchen or mixed spices
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon potassium carbonate

For the glaze:

• 200g dark chocolate
• 40g butter
• 200ml water
• 500g icing sugar
• 4 pinches ground cinnamon
• 2 pinches ground cloves
• 2 pinches ground nutmeg

1. Make the dough. Put the syrup and butter in a pan. Heat to melt the butter, mix and leave to cool.

2. Add the potassium carbonate to the cold espresso and stir until dissolved.

3. Put the cooled syrup and egg in a large bowl. Mix well. Add the flour, cocoa and spices, then the coffee. Mix and knead to a dough. Add more flour if needed (I used an extra 50g).

4. Flatten the dough into a square, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge overnight.

5. Preheat the oven to 180°C (355°F). Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.

6. Roll out the dough to a long rectangle. The length doesn’t matter, but it should be 1cm thick and 20cm wide. Cut the dough into five long strips of 4cm width.

7. Bake the strips for 20 minutes, turning the baking sheet half-way. I baked them in two batches – one of two strips, and one of three strips – and be sure to leave plenty of space for the dough to expand during baking.

8. When baked, immediately brush each log all over with cold water. This will help to soften the bread. Once cool enough to handle comfortably, cut each into diagonal slices, 1cm thick.

9. Make the glaze. In a pan heat the chocolate, butter, water and spices. Beat well to ensure it is smooth, but do not let it boil. In the meantime, sift the icing sugar into a large bowl, then add the chocolate mixture and beat until smooth.

10. Time to glaze. Put around 10 pieces of the bread in a separate bowl, and add a generous amount of the hot glaze. Mix to ensure the pieces as well-coated, then put each cookie on a wire rack to dry. Keep going in batches until all the cookies are glazed. If the icing gets too thick, add 1 tablespoon of water and heat it up again until to becomes thin.

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{4} Basler Brunsli

The fourth instalment of our festive baking tour takes us to the northern Swiss city of Basel. This year I seem to have delved rather deeply into Swiss Christmas traditions. I’d love to say that this was because I had been doing lots of detailed research, but in reality, I asked my Swiss friend for some Christmas tips, and one of them was a family recipe for these tasty little spiced chocolate-and-nut creations.

Basler Brunsli are a very easy cookie to make – made with ground nuts and sugar, flavoured with cocoa and chocolate and spiced with cinnamon and cloves. And basically…wow! So good that they really should not be so easy to make. These are simply amazing! They are sometimes referred to as “traditional Swiss brownies” but I think they are so much more interesting than that. This is not just a brownie…this is a luxuriously warm and spicy hug of Alpine wintery cheer. They have a chewy, slightly macaroon-like quality, with a delicious note of dark chocolate enhanced by the spices. They taste rich, but are also incredibly more-ish. I think these would definitely be a big hit at any party, and they also look very striking.

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In the original recipe that I got, you only need to add cocoa powder, but I saw a lot of recipes that also had grated dark chocolate. I figured that when it comes to all things chocolate, more is more, so I added some chocolate in addition to the cocoa. My thinking went that the cocoa would give them a nice colour, and the chocolate would melt during cooking to really ramp up the flavour. I’m happy to report that this seemed to work like a charm.

Now, there is was one thing with the recipe that did niggle with me just a little – it calls for a Messerspitze of ground cloves, as does pretty much every other recipe that I saw. I take this to mean as much as goes on the point of a knife. I mean…really…how is that a measurement that you can work with? I’m exasperated enough when it comes to using American cups, so this just annoys me! It never seems like enough to add a real flavour if it really is just enough to fit on the tip of a knife. Maybe in German-speaking places it actually means a fixed amount, like half a teaspoon? Anyway, I experimented here and went with a quarter of a teaspoon of ground cloves. I tend to like things very heavily spiced, so this is something that you should just trust to your own tastes. It is not a spice that everyone loves, but I feel that clove is a flavour that is under-appreciated and which is really delicious with chocolate. My view? A Messerspitze would not be enough!

brunsli1
I love that these cookies are so quick and easy to make. There is no need to leave the mixture to sit overnight as with so many Germanic spiced bakes, and when you roll them out then keep their shape nicely during baking. They also have the benefit in being gluten-free, so a great cookie to have in the repertoire. If you wanted to play around with the flavour, it might be nice to use hazelnuts instead of some or all of the almonds, and perhaps sandwich two of them together with Nutella. You could also play with the spices, or add orange zest or switch the Kirsch for flavoured liqueur such as Grand Marnier or Amaretto, if you can accept that you’re probably starting to get rather far from the authentic Swiss recipe.

After I made my version of Basler Brunsli, I asked my Swiss friend for her verdict. She tried one, and confirmed they were good. Not as good as my mother’s, obviously. And you know what? I’ll take that complement. Only fair that my first attempt were not be as good as her mother’s. It’s only natural! And she clarified that I’d gotten the sugar decoration wrong. You should dip the cutters in the sugar, and then cut out the shapes to add some sparkle at the edges, rather than covering the tops. She didn’t thing it looked bad or tasted strange. Just not like mum makes them. Fair enough!

To make Basler Brunsli (makes around 50 cookies):

• 200g ground almonds, plus extra for rolling
• 200g icing sugar
• 40g finely grated dark chocolate
• 40g cocoa powder
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 2 large egg whites
• 2-3 teaspoons Kirsch or rum
• granulated sugar, for cutting out shapes

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

2. Put the ground almonds, icing sugar, grated chocolate, cocoa powder and spices in a bowl and mix well.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white until foamy. We’re not trying to get whipped egg whites, so go easy!

4. Add all the egg white and the Kirsch or rum (a teaspoon at a time), to the dry ingredients. Mix well until it comes together to a soft dough that forms a ball. If the mixture is dry then add more Kirsch or rum, a teaspoon at a time, until it comes together. If the mix is too wet, add more ground almonds and icing sugar.

5. Sprinkle some more ground almonds on the worktop, and roll out the dough to 1cm thickness. Dip the edges of your cookie cutters in granulated sugar before you cut each cookie (of course, it won’t stick for cutting the first cookie). Cut out cookies in whatever shape you like.

6. Transfer the cut out cookies to the baking sheet. Bake for around 6 minutes. When done, remove from the oven and leave to cool.

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{2} Mailänderli

Today we’ve got a little bit of a festive mystery. Yes, Christmas means mysteries in our house, and I love to binge-watch episodes of Poirot and Miss Marple. But this one is of a culinary nature, and thankfully does not involve death by biscuits…

Mailänderli are little buttery cookies from Switzerland, rather like shortbread, with a delicate lemon flavour and a jaunty yellow colour, and none of the flavours you normally associate with the festive season (nuts, fruit, spice, chocolate…). Their name means “little Milanese” and they are one of the most popular Swiss Christmas biscuits. Rather fun little guys, aren’t they?

Mailaenderli1
So…what is this mystery? Well, you might be thinking that it’s very logical that the Swiss have a Christmas biscuit that comes from Milan, given that it’s only the other side of the Alps. In fact, the origin of Mailänderli is a complete blank. I haven’t been able to find out the origin of the name, and even the mighty Duden dictionary of all things German doesn’t attempt to offer an explanation. Maybe the recipe really did come from a citizen of Milan many, many years ago? Or maybe it is a mistake by a Swiss baker, confusing Milan with Sorrento (given, well, the lemon link)? I guess we’ll never know. Perhaps not one to trouble Miss Marple!

These cookies are easy to make – just mix the ingredients, let the dough chill properly, then roll out and cut whatever shapes you like. I would just urge you to take the chilling part seriously – I tried a test bake without chilling, and they don’t hold their shape nicely. I also tried doing one or several coats of the egg yolk glaze, but I did not think that this made any difference. One coat does the trick.

Mailänderli are also great cookies to make if you’ve got smaller hands helping you as the chilled dough is easy to cut and the cookies hold their shape nicely. You can also give your helper a paintbrush to coat the tops with the egg yolk to give them their colour (and go non-traditional with sprinkles or pearl sugar). And perhaps best of all…they take almost no time to bake, and these little buttery morsels of lemony goodness taste great while still warm.

Mailaenderli2

To make Mailänderli (makes around 60 bite-sized cookies):

For the dough

• 125g unsalted butter
• 125g sugar
• 250g plain flour
• 1 pinch salt
• 1 large egg
• 1 lemon, zest only

For the glaze

• 1 egg yolk
• 1 teaspoon cold water

1. Mix the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the salt, egg and lemon zest. Finally, sift in the flour and mix until combined.

2. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for an hour or overnight.

3. Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

4. Take the dough out of the fridge and roll out to 1cm thickness. Cut out whatever shapes you like, but try to keep the biscuits on the tray roughly the same size so that they bake evenly.

5. Make the glaze by mixing the egg yolk and water. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the glaze, and bake for around 10-15 minutes (depending on size) until the Mailänderli start to turn golden at the edges.

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{9} Spitzbuben

Hopefully you had a chance to check out our festive cookie art project, and if so, you might have spotted a little Swiss delight on there called Spitzbuben. The name translates roughly as scoundrels, but I think “cheeky rascals” is probably more fitting given how they look.

These are one of those great recipes that is easy to make but looks sensational. They are made from two butter shortbread biscuits sandwiched together with jam. You cut shapes from the top layer so you can see the jam, dust with icing sugar, and that’s basically it. Swiss efficiency!

spitz_3

I chose to make my Spitzbuben with three different types of jam – apricot, raspberry and blaeberry. You can, of course, use pretty much any type of jam you want, but it’s worth thinking about the colour – you want a bit of contrast and bright colours if you can get them. Redcurrant jelly is probably the best of all for this!

I think part of the genius of these cookies is that from the same basic dough, you can make a variety of shapes, and with the different types of jam, you get a nifty selection of jewel-bright cookies that look super on the plate. As you can see below, most of my Spitzbuben were made from small fluted cutters with a circle cut out, but I tried a few other looks as well. The stars and multi-dot versions also looked great.

In terms of baking tips, I think there are two to keep in mind. First, the dough should not be too warm. I found that the first batch baked perfectly, but the next puffed up slightly in the oven. Keeping the dough cool helped, as the last batch were again perfect. If you cut the dough and think it’s too warm, just pop into the fridge for a few minutes before baking.

My second tip – be generous with the jam, and try to have slightly more in the middle than at the edges (do this by smoothing with then back of a spoon, and then swirling it and lifting the spoon from the middle of the cookie – you’d get a jammy “bump”). Then just rest the top on the base, and push gently so the jam is only just forced to the edges. If you skimp on the jam, you’ll kick yourself!

And with that, we’ve reach the three-quarters point of the Twelve Days of Christmas Baking series! Hope you’re enjoying it so far.

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spitz_2

To make Spitzbuben:

Makes around 40

• 175g butter, softened
• 80g icing sugar
• pinch of salt
• 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 dessert spoons water
• 250g plain flour
• 6 large tablespoons jam (one type or several)
• icing sugar, to dust

1. Beat the butter until soft. Add the icing sugar, salt, vanilla and water and beat until pale, fluffy and completely combined. Sieve the flour and add to the rest of the ingredients. Mix until you have a smooth dough. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°C). Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Roll out the dough to 1/3 cm (1/4 inch) and cut shapes with a round or fluted cutter. Bake half the cookies until just golden at the edges (5-10 minutes depending on size – mine baked in 6). In the meantime, remove the centres from the other half of the cookies with a cutter, then bake. Repeat until all the dough has been used.

3. Once the cookies are cooled, it’s time to assemble them. Put the jam in a saucepan. Heat until runny, then pass through a sieve. Allow to cool until thickened, then spoon a little jam onto the basis. Smooth with a spoon, then at a top. When all the cookies are done, dust lightly with icing sugar – any sugar that lands on the jam will dissolve.

Worth making?These cookies are great! No fancy ingredients, easy recipe and they look stunning.

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On Location: St Moritz (Soho, London)

There have to be few foods that are as fun and comforting as a good cheese fondue. I know that some people like to get creative with quinoa and heirloom vegetables, but I am the sort of vegetarian that appreciates a vat of bubbling cheese from time to time. Yum!

I needed to book somewhere in central London before attending a party, and was at a bit of a loss, as there is plenty of choice, but so many places are difficult to book or just plain don’t take bookings and force you to turn up hope for the best (in my view: a bad, bad thing!). Then I remembered St Moritz, a Swiss restaurant specialising in fondue. I called on the off chance, and bingo! Table booked!

Now, this place is not an exercise in Alpine minimalism and sleek design. There are cowbells, Swiss flags and various Alpine farm utensils on the walls, and jaunty Swiss cowbell music piped throughout the restaurant. It’s all very kitsch, but also all very charming. When you walk in the door, you are hit with a very strong aroma of cheese. If that is your sort of thing, it’s heaven to enter on a cold evening.

We plumped for two fondues, a moitie-moitie (half-and-half with Gruyère and vacherin cheeses) and a fondue aux tomates which is made with the addition of a serious amount of – surprisingly – tomatoes. All served with large chunks of white and rye bread and boiled potatoes. I might not be an expert on fondue, but they were both utterly delicious and set us up for the evening.

As you can see, I tried my best with the pictures, but as St Moritz goes for a low-light intimate atmosphere, so they are not as great as they could have been. Still, it all tasted great.

Would I go back? Well, that is a little bit of a cheat question, as I do go here a couple of times a year. Fondue is one of those things that you can’t really eat too often unless you work the land or ski every day, but it is a wonderful thing to enjoy when it’s cold outside and you crave warm, filling, substantial food. So yes, I will definitely be here again before Christmas for another Gruyère fix.

St Moritz, 161 Wardour Street, London W1V 3TA. Telephone: 0207 734 3324. Tube: Tottenham Court Road or Oxford Circus.

LondonEats locations map here.

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Three Cheese Fondue

I noticed that I seemed to be posting a lot of sweet things, so I vowed to feature more savoury dishes. Luckily, that doesn’t mean than becoming too healthy, so a dish that consists of mostly cheese is today’s post.

Cheese fondue is one of those dishes that I rarely eat, then at some point I think “it would be a really good idea to make cheese fondue” and make some. It is the sort of food that should be tricky to prepare, but actually it is quite straightforward if you can be a little bit organised. Then you eat it, and while it is always utterly delicious (cheese! in liquid form! on bread!), you think you might have actually overdosed on cheese and vow not to eat it again for a long, long time. Months later, I’ll see some Gruyère in a cheese shop, and the cycle starts all over again…

Think of fondue, and you think of Switzerland. Maybe they make it in other Alpine areas, but frankly, I like my fondue to consist of heroic quantities of the Swiss cheeses Gruyère and Emmental. I like it with a hint of garlic and pieces of celery, and a little mustard and cayenne pepper or paprika. The celery really is inspired – when I lived in Brussels, it was quite common to be able to order a portion of cheese which was served with celery salt, which was a great flavour combination. In the fondue, it just gives it that little extra something.

Another novelty factor around fondue is that you just never sit down to eat it on your own. It just has to be a communal meal. This feels right to me – eating so much cheese on you own might seem a bit naughty, but with friends it is just fun. London is also, rather helpfully, blessed with a Swiss restaurant which serves good fondue. It’s called St Moritz, and is a kitsch celebration of Alpine culture, and I absolutely love it. Always makes for a fun night out, even if all you want to do afterwards is settle down next to a log fire for a nice snooze.

St Moritz is also great because you can order huge pots of fondue as a main course. I remember being shocked at a New York cheese restaurant, Artisanal, where you could only order fondue as a starter. I guess they just don’t appreciate melted cheese as much as we do here in Europe!

To make cheese fondue (serve 4):

• 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
• 50g butter
• 2 celery sticks
• 300ml dry white wine
• 350g Emmental cheese, finely grated
• 400g Gruyère cheese, finely grated
• 75g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
• 1/8 teaspoon mustard
• pinch freshly grated nutmeg
• pinch of paprika
• 1 tablespoon cornflour
• 2 tablespoons kirsch or brandy
• 2 baguettes, cut into chunks

Rub the garlic around the inside of a fondue pot, and discard the garlic. Add the celery and butter, and sautée on a very gentle heat for around 10 minutes until the celery is very soft.

Add the wine, and heat gently. In the meantime, mix the cornflour and the kirsch/brandy, and set aside.

Once the wine is hot, add the cheeses, stirring constantly until they are melted. Add the mustard, nutmeg and paprika to taste and stir well. Pour the cornflour mixture into the fondue, stir well, bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes, stirring all the time.

When the fondue is ready, move to the table and place over a burner to keep warm. Serve with the pieces of baguette to dip in the fondue.

Worth making? Fondue is undoubtedly a little fiddly to prepare, but if you are organised – and have the right pan – then it is well worth making next time you want a good, satisfying, sociable dinner with friends. Just be sure to have some sort of fresh salad to balance all that cheese. And don’t plan anything too physical afterwards.

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Rösti

Like potatoes but want to try something new? Think Switzerland, think rösti. This is a tasty, fried treat, so the sort of thing that you would want to eat at the end of a long day hiking in the mountains and dancing around Alpine meadows.

This is a traditional Swiss dish, which was originally eaten for breakfast (lots of calories, see above re hiking and spending all day in the fresh Alpine air) and you can see why this would be the perfect thing to set you up for the day. Nowadays, each region has its own version, but in my view, the buttery Zürich version is best of all. This is often eaten with a not-too-sweet applesauce, but I like it with a dollop of mayonnaise. I also like to have it with a fresh green salad with a sharp dressing, to balance the richness of the rösti.

This recipe is simplicity itself – just take some coarsely grated cooked potatoes, mix with a few sliced onions(*), fry in butter until golden, then flip over to cook the other side. These are a little like hash browns, but rather than solid blocks of potato, you grate them so there are lots of individual crispy strands at the edges. You could use vegetable oil if you are looking for a healthier dish, but I love the taste of butter when you make these. The one thing to be careful about is the potato you use – look for waxy potatoes, as they are easier to grate, whereas floury potatoes will collapse and turn to mush. Just as tasty when fried in butter, but the finished rösti isn’t nearly so appealing.

(*) I use onion in mine as I love their flavour, but you don’t have to. If someone in your house doesn’t like them, then omit them, rather than be faced, as I was, with a request to “pick the bits of onion out of the potatoes” once I had mixed them with the onion.

To make 2 large rösti (serves 4):

• 1kg boiled potatoes, peeled (ideally a waxy variety)
• 1 white onion, peeled
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 50g butter

Grate the potatoes using a coarse grater. Cut the onions in half, then slice very thinly. In a bowl, combine the potatoes, onions, salt and pepper, and combine gently using your hands.

Melt half the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add half the potatoes and cook until golden, then flip over and cook on the other side. Once done, cook the rest of the potatoes (or do two at the same time).

Worth making? This is a super easy recipe, and tastes delicious. A good one for every cook’s repertoire!

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Filed under Recipe, Savoury