Thursday, August 2, 2007

August 1, the Swiss National holiday

August 1 is to the Swiss what July 4th is to America. We always love this day of commemorating Switzerland and are especially thrilled when a visit from friends coincides with it. Yesterday was just one of these days and we did the traditional cervalat, veal sausage and regular sausage on the grill. Swiss cervalat are more like a non garlic garlic link and have the consistency of a hot dog. Other friends brought some along for the Swiss Pork Shop in northern NJ and they grilled up beautifully.
The Swiss love salads and are incredibly creative with them. Our family favorites include a red beet salad with onions and a roasted corn salad with pimento and a ranch type dressing. Add a red skin potato salad with red pablano peppers, vidalia onions, some mustard and the secret ingredient, beef broth, and we were set!
Part of the traition includes hanging 'Lampions" lanterns with candles inside, Swiss flags and banners from the various cantons as well as bon fires. Tradition says that these bon fires were used to communicate between the villages when there were emergencies.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The bees and honey

Last year was, what I considered, a bumper crop of honey but little did I know that it would pale in comparison to this year. With all the worries about disappearing bees it is wonderful to watch Werner's bees thrive. The honey flow earlier in the summer was incredible and I watched as Werner added super after super. Those are the little boxes that they stack on top of each other.
Last night he donned his new white bee suit and went to check on 'the ladies' returning an hour later to share that we would need at least another 5 of the 5 gallon buckets. Amazing. We will spin it out of the combs in August.
We bottle this raw, which means we do not heat it before filling the honey bears or bottles. Heating the honey first allows it to stay in liquid form without crystallizing, but it destroys all the beneficial pollens. We prefer it raw and love the rich flavor of true wild flower honey.

One of my favorite recipes that benefits from this deep flavor is more of a fall one. Mother and Dad, while travelling in the Black Forrest years ago, had dinner in one of the traditional old farmhouses that are so popular there. For dessert they ordered something called honey apples. These were apples sauteed at the table in honey and served with whipped cream. Over the years I have played with this idea and we now do a honey and brandy apple that is the perfect accompaniment to a cinnamon raisin stuff french toast.

Honey Apples with Brandy and Lemon

4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
4 Tbsp honey
2 tbsp butter
1 lemon, juice and zest
3 Tbsp brandy

In a skillet melt the butter and add the apples sauteing for 5 min
Add the juice from the lemon and the zest
Continue to saute till tender
Right before serving warm the brandy in small pot. Do not boil.
Carefully light the brandy and pour flaming over the apples
Stir until the flames die down and the alcohol is burnt off.
Serve warm over french toast or as dessert with a dollop of honey cinnamon whipped cream

Honey Cinnamon Whipped Cream
1/2 cup whipping or heavy cream
2 Tbsp honey
1/2 teaspoon good cinnamon (preferably Vietnamese)

Whip the cream to soft peaks gently adding the honey by drizzling it in.
Add the cinnamon and finish whipping being very careful not to whip too far and turn it to butter!

Serve over the warm apples

Friday, July 20, 2007

Baked Blueberry French Toast

When berries are ripe and plentiful, this is a true crowd pleaser. It holds its heat well on a buffet table and is just delicious.

12 slices white bread, cut into generous 1 inch cubes
12 oz cream cheese, cubed
1 cup blueberries (blackberries, peaches, raspberries, or any mix)
12 eggs
2 cups milk
1/3 cup honey
grated orange zest

Grease a 9X13 casserole dish
Put half of the bread cubes on the bottom
Half of the berries on top of the bread
Scatter with half of the cream cheese
zest of half of the orange
Repeat with the rest of the bread, berries, cream cheese and zest
Mix the eggs, milk and honey and pour over top
Place in the refrigerator overnight
Remove from the refrigerator, let stand at room temperature for 15 min to temper
Bake in a 350F oven for about an hour or until a knife comes out clean
Serve hot with blueberry sauce

Friday, July 13, 2007


Ok... so this has nothing to do with food but...

We have a huge variety of birds here on the property. Being located next to woodland, meadow, and lake give us a diversity that is just incredible. This week I spotted a Scarlet Taniger in one of the Hickory trees. They are unusual and I will be happy if I see him again all summer.

Bluebirds are one of our favorites and we have tried for years to encourage them to nest in boxes around the property. It would appear that we have finally succeeded as the box out next to the cornfield is the proud host of 4 small eggs. Mama bluebird flits in and out and I hope to get a picture of her to post here. We will let you know how the eggs come along and hope for baby birds soon.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Breakfast this morning....

was a potato quiche. We have always had wonderful potatoes from the garden and tons of them so we came up with a long list of breakfast recipes to use them. This has become a favorite. Dont skim on the cheese! Use a good, flavorful aged cheddar and fresh flavorful herbs. Everything works in this from mushrooms to tomatoes, leeks and spinach. Be creative. Go wild!

Butter a 9X13 baking dish
Grated potatoes, enough to cover the bottom of a baking dish
Do not pat the potatoes into place. Allowe them to stay loose as it will allow the filling to .. fill in around them.
Slice julianne a small green zuchinni, yellow squash, 1/2 cup leek rings, and 1/4 cup finely diced red peppers
Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Cover with 1 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
Pour 3 tbsp melted butter over the top
1 bunch parsley, chives, chopped and sprinkled over top of the cheese

Quiche filling:

1 cup whipping cream
1 cup light cream
5 eggs
1/2 tea ground mustard powder
freshly grated pepper to taste
1/2 tea sea salt

Whisk together and gently pour over the entire casserole.

Bake 325 for 1 hr until a knife comes out clean.
Serve immediatly

Morning in the garden

Before breakfast I often walk through the wet grass to gather herbs, see what birds are about and check out the pond for new water lilies. The red currants in the garden are done and the blackberries are just now starting. We move from one fruit to the next enjoying the diversity and flavor. Day lilys of every color are blooming profusely and I am once again reminded how fortunate I am to actually live here!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Potato Pancakes

We serve these as a side dish to a sweet breakfast. This morning it was a wonderful crisp waffle with fresh berries, baked Lancaster County sausage and our own pancake syrup.

3 cups shredded potatoes
2 Tbsp flour
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced red or green peppers
1 bunch parsley ( 1/8 cup chopped)
1/8 tsp freshly grated pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

oil or butter for the griddle

Cook and cool potatoes.
Preheat a griddle or frying pan. Add some oil or butter or a combination of both
Peel and grate with a coarse grater
Add flour, eggs, cheese, onion, peppers, parsley, butter and seasonings
Mix gently with a spoon till combined
Drop onto hot griddle using a large spoon. Do not pack or form as these are better if they are somewhat loosely connected. Press only enough to shape and hold together.
Fry till golden brown flipping once
Serve hot