Recipe: Asian Quinoa Salad

Healthy and exciting lunchboxes. It’s one of the things I really struggle with; finding things to eat at work that are filling, nourishing, cheap, last a couple of days in the fridge and are genuinely yummy. I don’t particularly enjoy sandwiches (all too often they are soggy and squashed after a few hours in my bag) and I *refuse* to spend £6+ on eating out every day, no matter how good my Instagram feed would look.

 photo Asian Quinoa Salad_zpsq1lyns43.jpgThere’s nothing worse than a disappointing lunch, and I guarantee than a poor midday meal with leave me in a grump alllllll afternoon. A box full of this, however, is pretty sure to put a smile on my face. It’s basically a more colourful and substantial version of my Asian Satay Salad, which makes it perfect for the cooler weather. The quinoa bulks it out without making me feel heavy, bloated and ready for a nap, whilst the red cabbage just looks so pretty. Raw sugarsnap peas are a revelation for me too – soooo much tastier than cooked.

This is super-easy to adapt too. Toss through leftover roast chicken, serve as part of a picnic. I quite like cooked and cooled soy beans stirred through too, and I imagine a fresh pepper would make an awesome addition (I’d be wary about adding it if you’re picking at this throughout the week, I find the pepper-y taste can transfer a bit). No spring onions? Use a normal onion (pop it into a sieve and pour over boiling water to take away the harsh raw-onion taste). No red cabbage? Just slice up whatever cabbage you have – it just won’t look as colourful. And of course you could switch out quinoa for whichever grain you fancy. I’m also planning on trying a version made with noodles sometime soon!

 photo Asian Quinoa Salad5_zpskz4hqj3p.jpg photo Asian Quinoa Salad3_zpsnczfccrz.jpgRecipe (makes 5-6 servings, baked on a Cookie & Kate recipe)

  • Quinoa, I followed the measurement on the packet to make 4 portions
  • ½ purple cabbage
  • 3 carrots
  • ½ packet sugar snap peas
  • 1 small packet of coriander
  • 4-5 spring onions
  • 1 thumb size piece of ginger
  • 1 red chilli (deseeded if you don’t fancy it too hot)
  • 3 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • 5 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 limes (zest and juice)
  • 1 small handful of nuts, to serve

Cook the quinoa, following the packet instructions, and leave it to cool. I like to fluff it up with a fork a few times whilst cooling. Meanwhile prep the salad – finely slice the red cabbage, spiralise (or slice) the carrots, slice the sugarsnap peas lengthways, slice the spring onions and roughly chop the coriander. Pop into a large Tupperware box and mix through the cooled quinoa.

Then make the dressing: finely chop the ginger and chilli. Mix together with the soy, honey and sesame oil, then slowly add the soy and fish sauce until smooth. Add in the lime zest and juice, mix well and pop into a jar. I’d advise not refrigerating (just keep in a cool place) as otherwise the peanut butter makes it a bit solid!

In the morning, pop a portion of the quinoa/veg mix into your lunchbox and stir through a few spoonfuls of the dressing. I’d keep it out of the fridge until lunchtime, no-one wants fridge-cold quinoa… When just about to eat top with a handful of nuts, if you like.

 photo Asian Quinoa Salad4_zpsgijjuqz7.jpg photo Asian Quinoa Salad7_zpsiyerfhuz.jpgWhilst I don’t typically count calories (an obsessive personality means I tend to become focussed on continually reducing my intake), eating a big portion of this makes me feel healthy. I feel satisfied without being full, nourished without feeling deprived. And an added bonus? It can be eaten one-handed at my desk on really busy days. I can see myself eating a lot of this salad!

What’s your favourite take-to-work lunch?

Review: French & Spice Fusion at Bistro Vadouvan, Putney

I could start and end this review right here: this was the best meal, without doubt, that I have ever eaten in London.

A bold claim for sure, particularly as I’ve been lucky enough to eat in some damn good restaurants. But nearly three months on and this meal is still sticking out in my memory, and for all the good reasons. Friendly and attentive, but far from annoying, staff. Gorgeous plates, cutlery and decor. Cosy blankets for the outside tables (it’s just a shame Caluccio’s nabbed the best spot by the river!). All topped off with some of the most inventive and well-cooked dishes I’ve tried.

We started with cocktails – all strong, all delicous, all very well made – before moving onto wine. No complaints about the drinks, although really the stars here are the food. Bistro Vadouvan combines classical French cuisine with Middle Eastern and Asian flavours, creating original dishes that are both pretty on a plate and rather tasty. With views of the Thames, and stunning sunsets over Putney Bridge, it’s a lovely location and I’m rather pleased it’s within walking distance!

 photo Bistro Vadouvan Putney 4_zpsmpcrejwv.jpgI kicked off with the Prawn, Crab and Cucumber Salad. At £12 this was perhaps the one dish I felt was a little over-priced, but equally they were more than generous with the crab. It was fresh, light and summery, with the most delightful Mint, Yuzu and Orange dressing. The sharp flavours of the mint and orange tempered the sweetness of the seafood perfectly. It was also clearly made to order, as the cucumber had yet to impart it’s wateriness that comes from sitting around. The red chilli dotted throughout was fiery and I could have perhaps done without it, though due to the large slices I could delicately remove it.

 photo Bistro Vadouvan Putney 2_zpscsuvc8lb.jpg photo Bistro Vadouvan Putney 3_zpsd2ttjh7x.jpgW ordered the Asparagus, Sprouting Beans, Avocado and Kohlrabi Salad, something which I was tempted by (but knew I’d get to try if he ordered!). Not being the biggest lover of avo as it is, I was slightly put off by the description of the “Fermented Sour Plum Dressing” but it really worked. All of the ingredients were at their peak-freshness, with the avocado lending a creaminess to the dish. Nuts added crunch, and the whole thing tasted light, healthy and absolutely delicious. I loved my seafood-based salad, but this came a close second.

The Spiced Bouillabaisse was also enjoyed, the classic French dish livened up with Middle-Eastern flavours.

Onto the mains, and this is where the stars of the show really were. Though I could only fault the starters if I was being really picky (see chill point about), I could sit here for hours and genuinely not be able to complain about my dish. I mean, it says a lot about the menu when we broke our biggest ‘couple rule’ and couldn’t resist ordered the same thing – Sea bass with Celeriac, Cauliflower & Raz el Hanout. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe at the time of our visit this was served with cod rather than bass – I imagine both work equally well!

 photo Bistro Vadouvan Putney 11_zpsvvqdjbzh.jpg photo Bistro Vadouvan Putney 12_zpsxoryaoep.jpg photo Bistro Vadouvan Putney 14_zpstph7j6hg.jpgHaving eaten some really excellent fish dishes this year (the unusual Cod & Pineapple at Skosh, and an elegant Crab Lasagne at Galvin La Chapelle), this remains the one I’d happily eat again, and again, and again. The chunky piece of fish was cooked to absolute perfection – flaking into moist chunks with the merest press of a fork. It sat on a bed of Celeriac Hummus, which was creamy, moreish and had a depth of flavour all of it’s own, without detracting from the main dish. Give me a bowl of this and some of the flatbread I saw floating around the restaurant and I’d be a happy girl!  The dish was then topped with a generous serving of Spiced Cauliflower. Flawlessly cooked (soft and tender without a hint of the mushiness cauliflower is prone to) and just so fully of flavour. Again, give me a bowl of cauliflower and I’d probably be quite happy! Drizzled with a lemony-parsley dressing which pulled the whole dish together, I was genuinely sad when I’d finished my plate.

Also on our table was the Glazed Salmon, Carrot & Harissa Yoghurt, and a special involving Lamb Belly. Both seemed to go down extremely well – and next on my list to try is the delicious-looking Poussin Marinated In Sage, Maple Syrup, Garlic & Yoghurt.

In fact, the only negative I have is that the side dishes don’t seem to be particularly well-matched to the mains. Chips and cous-cous are all very good, but perhaps not the most imaginative. That said, on our visit they had a ‘slaw’ on offer which we tentatively ordered to share. Finely sliced cabbage tossed in a spiced-yoghurt and lemon dressing, it was actually far more delicious than the dubious description on the menu and went perfectly with both fish dishes.

A slight running theme is possible here, as like the sides the desserts just didn’t seem overly appealing. However we’d heard good things so ordered a few to share.

 photo Bistro Vadouvan Putney 18_zps0138jjek.jpg photo Bistro Vadouvan Putney 15_zpsnjp2ch4d.jpgThe Exotic Cheesecake with Passion Fruit Creameux was my top pick, and this is coming from someone who isn’t a huge fan of cheesecake. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever ordered it in a restaurant before! This was light and almost mousse-like – certainly not the heavy and artery-clogging dish I was expected. Flavours of mango and passion-fruit were strong without being sickly, the plate was garnished with coulis, curd and crispy meringues and the cheesecake topped with an almost gelato-textured sorbet.

 photo Bistro Vadouvan Putney 19_zpsk3kpb1ri.jpgW loved the Luxurious Chocolate and Bitter Orange, although I found it a tad heavy and cloying (and certainly wouldn’t have been able to finish it!).  Flavours were reminiscent of a jaffa cake, with the textures smooth. One for chocolate lovers, and only if you’ve got a big appetite.

Even before we’d paid our bill, we were talking about other dishes on the menu we’d like to try on a return visit. Unfortunately with moving, holidays, exams and other annoying things we haven’t yet made it, but watch this space!
And now I’ll end with another picture of the fish dish. Because it was THAT good!

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Where was your ‘best meal’ eaten?

Recipe: Freezer Chocolate-Chunk Cookies

This post comes with a safety warning – do not read if you lack self-control.

 photo Cookies_zpsu63tirlo.jpgBecause having freshly-based cookies available with around 10 minutes notice is a bad, bad thing if you’re trying to get into the ‘slimming’ outfit you bought for a wedding. It turns out I have zero self-control when it comes to these cookies, though it’s not surprising. These are thinner cookies (for UK readers, they’re more Millie’s than Ben’s), chewy on the outside but softer within, and packed absolutely full with chocolate.

I blame exams on the fact that these disappeared unreasonably quickly – two study days a week plus the stress of an impending exam means any kind of sweet treat isn’t going to last long! And (I say defensively) with a stand-mixer it’s all too easy to just whip up another batch whilst on a break from pricing models and credibility theory…

 photo Ultimate Choc Chunk Cookies 11_zpsxafi791w.jpg photo Ultimate Choc Chunk Cookies 12_zpsmhiia8ls.jpgRecipe (makes lots of cookies, on the last bake we got 39 plus plenty of raw cookie dough)

  • 250g butter
  • 220gcaster sugar
  • 250g soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 415g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tbsp hot water (plus a little more if needed)
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
  • 400g chocolate – here we used a mix of milk and white chocolate (just cheap bars, roughly chopped into chunks)

The dough takes mere minutes to  whip up in a kMix*! Beat the butter slightly until soft, them cream together with the two types of sugar. Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and gradually beat into the butter/sugar mix. Mix the bicarbonate of soda with the warm water, before adding to the mix along with the salt. Stir in the flour and chocolate. Drop large spoonfuls (we used tablespoons) of the mix onto lined baking trays and roughly roll into a ball.

If you’re baking them straight away, pop into the fridge for around 10-15 minutes to firm up before baking for 10 minutes at 180C. If you’re freezing them, freeze on the tray for an hour or so, before removing and freezing in a resealable bag. Bake from frozen for around 12 minutes at 180C.

 photo Ultimate Choc Chunk Cookies 9_zpsvpu4ua8t.jpg photo Ultimate Choc Chunk Cookies 10_zpsqngvkgbm.jpgObviously, you don’t have to make chocolate cookies (though why wouldn’t you?!). What I do recommend is switching out some of the chocolate for other ingredients – we’ve tried nuts (peanuts are especially good if you add a blob of peanut butter to the dough), crystallized ginger and even adding a spot of chopped chilli in. Next on my list is an adaption of these Beer & Bacon Cookies

Are you a cookie fan? Do you think you’d have the self-control to keep a batch in the freezer?!

Lifestyle: Happy (Fortnightly) Things #25

Unfortunately just a really quickly penned post from me today – exam day is Wednesday and I really shouldn’t be blogging right now. But so many LOVELY things have happened over the past few weeks that I can’t help but share…

 photo Happy Things 2_zpstx894dal.png

  1. Watching one of my lovely friends marry her soulmate. It was such a lovely day and so perfect for them.
  2. Realising it’s only just over a year until I get married myself! Eeekkkkk!
  3. Getting my groove on with blogging again. After a break from it all, and months feeling a bit disconnected I’ve pretty much finalised where I’m taking this space in the long-term. Stay tuned…
  4. Finding a decent deep conditioner. This one has been great for my locks, just a shame L’Oreal aren’t a company I’m desperate to support!
  5. Discovering my local Sainsbury’s sell products from The Polish Bakery. The bakery gifted me some goodies a while back and their bread is all kinds of awesome. Just gutted I’ve not found the Rye bread yet…
  6. Eating chocolate.* Cadbury sent me over some goodies to celebrate the launch of their partnership with the Premier League. I have to say that chocolate plus potential prizes is a winner in my book – simply enter the code from a promotional bar and you can win one of hundreds of football themed prizes.
  7. Gorgeous sunsets from the top floor of my office. Admittedly I’ve spent lots of late evenings (and even weekends!) there but it’s such a lovely view I can almost forgive exams for robbing me of a work-life balance!
  8. Fruit crumble and fresh cream. Perfect Sunday night treat!
  9. Almossstttttt having a dining table. The legs are here, the top was delivered on Saturday. Just a shame the top arrived completely snapped in half…
  10. Receiving a yogurt pot with my name on. It’s the little things that put a smile on this face!

What’s been putting a smile on your face?

Travel: Six-Day Itinerary in Berner-Oberland, Switzerland

Now we’ve got the important things out of the way (the Best Things to Eat in Switzerland) it’s time to discuss our trip in a little more detail. Here I’m giving a run down of our rough itinerary, the things we did and the things we wish we could have done. I’m not going into too much detail about each of the days, but if anyone has any questions on specific walks/excursions in this area of Switzerland then feel free to get in touch!

 photo Swiss Itinerary_zpszry3eal0.jpg photo IMG_20170709_085728_zpsof4mmc7k.pngApologies if the quality of some of these photos is a little off – I managed to fail to take a sensible lens for my camera, so relied on my phone when we were out and about. Whoops!

Basic Itinerary

Flights: LGW-Basel (and vice-versa on the return leg)

Train Passes: Berner Oberland Regional Pass, and Transfer Tickets (from Bern to Basel)

Accommodation: Air B’n’B (this one, highly recommend and not nearly as noisy as the host warned us) in Interlaken

Days: Split between walking, city and sight-seeing

Flights

Basically, we booked the cheapest flights we could find, that left us with the travelling days to play with in Switzerland. We got the early flight out of Gatwick (though splurged on a taxi to get there which was SO easy, would hands-down never get the train again!) and headed to Basel – on the borders of France, Germany and Switzerland. The airport is teeny-tiny really, to the point you choose your destination country by which doors you exit. I also wouldn’t bank on using any leftover Francs at duty-free when you leave, I’ve never seen such a small offering.

Train Tickets

This is where Switzerland can get confusing. Train travel is essential, the roads are windy (certainly not something I’d like to drive nor be driven along!) and quite often trains will cut through a mountain. Trust me, trains are the way forward and they are so much better ran than in the UK. In Switzerland, 30 seconds is a delay and anything over a couple of minutes rarely happens.

This trip we got a Berner Oberland Pass for 6 days, and Transfer Tickets to get us to/from the airport. We booked the Transfer Tickets in advance to secure a lower price, then the Pass gave us unlimited journeys in the region. Some trips are extra (e.g. the Jungfrau, Schilthorn and some boat/cable cars) but generally this pass will give you a good discount on their standard prices.

Top tip: when booking flights, factor in a estimate of train tickets the other end. Flights to Zurich were marginally cheaper, but train tickets to Interlaken veryyyy pricey for our dates.
 photo IMG_20170809_195733_zpsydd1bjod.png photo IMG_20170809_195542_zpscejluwme.png photo IMG_20170818_192440_615_zpslxl1hyge.jpg

City Days

We spent half a day in Bern, being guided round by a local (it pays to have Swiss friends – both in terms of tours and supplies of cheese!). I’d definitely recommend the city, though we spent a good few hours just floating on the river which was divine on a hot (35C) day.

We also spent our last day wandering a tad aimlessly around Basel. This is somewhere I’d love to go back and properly explore – it was a gorgeous city with strong German/French influences but we definitely felt some kind of tour would have been useless. By this point we were both pretty tired and I’d managed to blister the base of my foot so we stuck to no real plan. A reason to go back I guess!
 photo IMG_20170802_174629_zps152mhxhh.png photo IMG_20170815_125841_849_zps2frkegtx.jpg photo IMG_20170813_130930_369_zpsohj4zrsf.jpg photo IMG_20170810_215658_925_zpsnvisgeyh.jpg photo IMG_20170819_184628_666_zpsq4tzb5o5.jpg

Walking Days

Walks in Switzerland tend to be colour coded – yellow for ‘easy’ and red for ‘mountain.’ I’d definitely advise sticking to yellow, even then some of the hikes are pretty strenuous in terms on incline. That said, it’s our goal to one day made a red walk…

My favourite walk is along a riverbank. It involves getting a train to Grindelwald (a town I’d definitely consider staying in next trip), then a bus to Schwarzwaldalp. This bus wasn’t included in our regional pass, and even with a discount the price made me wince! After some pretty hairy bends, you can reward yourself with a scenic walk through cow fields, woodlands and meadows. We originally planned to only go as far as Rosenlaui (45 minutes) – before a wander around the gorge and continuing with the bus to Meiringen – however we missed the bus and faced a 2 hours wait. What do you do in that situation? Carry on the walk. We eventually stopped at Kaltenbrunnen before catching the bus to Meiringen for a meringue overload.

 photo IMG_7203_zpsyb6i9fze.jpg photo IMG_7198_zpsvr6teipt.jpgThis walk is a favourite for many reasons. It was much loved by W’s late grandmother, who used to watch her rings (engagement, wedding, etenity) in the river. His mother later did so for her and now, with my engagement ring made from her eternity ring, I continued the tradition.

Another walk, perhaps our most difficult, was from First to Lake Bachalpsee. There’s some pretty steep inclines here, though it wasn’t helped by being a very hot day. The views at the Lake are well worth it though – plus there’s all kinds of fun things to do on your way down from First to Grindelwald. We hired ‘mountain karts’ – go-karts with no pedals and let gravity take us down. With no barriers to stop you driving over the sheer mountain edge it took me a while to get the better of my nerves but I would 100% do again. There’s also zip lines which I’m desperate to try, though they were closed due to high-winds on our trip.

Our final walk was in the shadows of the Schilthorn. We took the cable car from Lauterbrunnen to Grüschalp, before walking to Mürren. This has some stunning views and waterfalls, and is blessedly shady for most of the route. It also passes through a small farm where they hand-make cheese and fudge pretty much fresh from the cow. Alpine Fudge is something everyone needs to try! From Mürren we took the cable car down to Stechelberg (rather than up towards the Schilthorn) and then got a bus, stopping off at Trümmelbach Falls to enjoy the coolness of the gorge and glacial falls (water passes through at 20,000 litres per second, it’s a stunning place to visit).

 photo IMG_20170804_190309_905_zpsuwejsas0.jpg photo IMG_7171_zpsmpohy6au.jpg photo IMG_7160_zpszbaos53q.jpg

Other Sight-Seeing

The main ‘touristy’ thing we did was head up the Jungfrau on our first day. Now, this wasn’t included in our pass and it’s usually very pricey. Having done it in 2012 (and W many other times) we weren’t fussed about it but his parents offered us some free tickets they had. We ended up really enjoying it, the visibility was *amazing* and there had been fresh snowfall the night before. It’s definitely something I’d advise doing at least once, and with the winter spots, snowy walks and ice-palace to explore as well as the many viewing platforms you’ll be there for a good few hours!

Our other half-days were spent mainly around Interlaken. On our first evening we ventured up the Harder Kulm, though took the funicular  rather than take on the 2+ hours upward hike. We spent the evening watching the sun start to set, eating cheesy rösti and enjoying the spectacular views.

We also took in a boat trip from Interlaken to Spiez, a town I desperately want to return to as it was just so pretty. And being whisky fanatics we took a trip to the brewery/distillery in Interlaken – whilst unfortunately there were’t enough numbers for an English tour we did come away with a bottle to enjoy!
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For Another Time

Realistically, we both agreed we could have spent 3 weeks there and not fitted in everything we wanted to do. There’s countless walks to do, a trip up to the Schilthorn (where James Bond’s XYZ was filmed) and the stops along the way (now featuring thrill walks). There’s white water rafting and canyoning, both of which are firmly on my bucket list. There’s more ‘city trips’ to Zermatt (home of the Toberlone mountain) and Lucerne. I’d also love to visit Geneva and properly explore Zurich at some point too!

My main aim is to one day do a glacier trek – though I certainly need to work on my fitness levels before that!

Have you ever been to Switzerland? Would you like to see more travel posts here?

Recipe: Simple Fennel Pasta

Like many households, I’m sure, pasta is our go-to meal. When we don’t know what to cook, you can bet it will end up involving pasta. Whether it’s my tomato-free bolognese, a decadent carbonara or gut-lining mac’n’cheese, we love the carby-comfort food hit.

 photo Fennel Pasta_zps5mdlg1mw.jpgRecently, though, we’ve been trying to experiment a bit more. When we say “oh, we’ll have pasta” we try to pick out a new recipe, try a new combination. Even, as in this recipe, to try something new with an ingredient we rarely use.

Fennel is something I’m a bit scared of, to tell the truth. I have never liked aniseed, going as far as retching when the Liquorice Alsorts were bought out on family car journeys. It was a Dynamo Pizza (now sadly removed from the menu) that first got me eating fennel – the combination of just al-dente fennel with ham, mozzarella and pomegranate seeds was a delight. And so I agreed to try out this pasta dish. And a few additions later, we have a firm favourite…

 photo Fennel Pasta 2_zpsep5blspt.jpg photo Fennel Pasta 4_zpsbcftekk8.jpgRecipe (to serve 2)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra virgin olive oil to drizzle before serving
  • 1&1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves,crushed
  • 1 lemon, both the zest and the juice – if we have half a lemon hanging around in the fridge we’ll sometimes add extra too
  • 1 fennel bulb, finely sliced, fronds (the green flowery bits) reserved
  • 175g linguine
  • 1/3 pack parsley, chopped (I’m not a fan of parsley but it does work here)
  • Parmesan, or other similar hard cheese

Heat the oil in a frying pan cook the fennel seeds until they pop (about 90 seconds over a not-too-high heat). Add in the garlic and allow to cook for a minute or so, but don’t let it colour. Throw in the lemon zest and half the fennel, lower the heat and cook for 10-12 mins or until the fennel has softened – cook the pasta whilst you’re waiting.

Add the cooked pasta to the frying pan, along with a few tablespoons of pasta water (reserve a bit more, just in case). Toss together, along with the remaining raw fennel, parsley and lemon juice. Season well, then pile into bowls, topping with the fennel fronds, a drizzle of oil and a generous serving of parmesan. Perfect with a glass of chilled white wine!

 photo Fennel Pasta 1_zpskq3zsmbc.jpg photo Fennel Pasta 3_zpsdqxh2yaw.jpgWe found this was a gorgeously light pasta dish, yet still full of flavour. The contrasting textures of the pasta alongside the cooked and raw fennel added extra interest. All in all a rather yummy dish!

What’s your favourite pasta dish?

Food: 10 Things to Eat in Switzerland

Typically this is going live before any of my other Switzerland posts, which clearly shows how important food is to me. Weirdly, I didn’t do a huge amount of research before heading out to Switzerland – other than “all the cheese” there wasn’t anything on my must-eat list. In the end, I didn’t really eat a bad meal.

 photo Swiss Food_zpsan9qrron.jpgSticking to traditional foods, we definitely ticked off the “all the cheese” aim, though by the end of the week we were craving vegetables (seriously, we tried and couldn’t even order them as a side!) and the local Indian takeaways smelt more and more appealing. The first meal we ate when we arrived home (well, after Five Guys to sustain us during move-day!) was my Satay Veggie Slaw which says a lot about how rich and heavy the food was!

Sidenote: we were walking in excess of 20,000 steps most days so we definitely earned it!

So, what’s the 10 dishes you really need to try when you’re in Switzerland…?

 photo What to Eat in Switzerland 3_zps3qej7dn0.jpgZüri-Gschätzlets (Veal in Mushroom Sauce) served with Rösti

This meal was perhaps our most expensive when we were away, at 35CHF each (although admittedly in quite a flashy hotel – where we witnessed a proposal). Very tender sliced veal in a rich mushroom sauce, served on top of a crisp but tender rösti, it was also one of the only meals I ate that didn’t contain cheese. You can find my recipe here.

Hot Chocolate

The mountain-cafe staple! Swiss Hot Chocolate is usually more milky than it’s Italian or French versions, good for me as I’m not a fan of the thick rich stuff. The best powdered brand is Caotina (we instruct a Swiss friend to bring us some every now and then) and comes served separate to a mug of frothed warm milk for you to stir yourself.

 photo What to Eat in Switzerland 7_zpsheez6s9b.jpg photo What to Eat in Switzerland 8_zpswp0jeuee.jpg photo What to Eat in Switzerland 10_zpsa4b0gfau.jpgCordon Bleu

I’d go as far as saying this meal was my absolute favourite of all our meals in Switzerland, it’s certainly the dish I’m still thinking about! The more traditional Cordon-bleu is made with veal, cheese and ham, before being breadcrumbed and fried. My version (at Barry’s in Grindelwald, full review coming soon) was a pork escalope filled with bacon, garlic, leek and Raclette cheese. I ordered the ‘mini’ (25CHF) which I bitterly regret. Sure, I had room for dessert, but it wasn’t as good as this…

Oh, and if you visit Barry’s their Whisky list is crazy. We tried a couple of the Swiss distilled tipples, including a verrryyyy pricey (and strong!) one which is aged in the Jungfrau.

 photo What to Eat in Switzerland 11_zpscrjjp8t5.jpgCheese Fondue

Now, we didn’t actually eat this in Switzerland – it’s actually more of a tourist thing than anything. That said, if it hadn’t been over 30 degrees every single day I’d have been right in there. If you can, I’d recommend getting one that served the molten cheese with both bread and potatoes (just bread is too heavy) and drink a warm drink alongside it and continue sipping for a while after your meal. Trust me, you don’t want all that cheese to set in your tummy. In London, pop to St Moritz in Soho for your cheese fix!

 photo What to Eat in Switzerland 6_zpst3x55ghs.jpgVeal Sausage

A good veal sausage, served with more of that delicious rösti and plenty of onion sauce is comfort food at it’s best. I avoided this due to the disturbing redness of some sauces and the difficultly in getting my allergy understood (surprisingly I only had to send one meal back, though a couple of others came close!).

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Rösti

Now, rösti can come one of two ways. It is often a side, rather like our ‘mash’ or ‘roasts’, or it can be served in it’s own right. The later is usually covered in cheese, then with a choice of additions. This was our first Swiss meal, sat with the gorgeous view above, and it was glorious. I went for the version with ham and a fried egg, W went for the bacon offering. Both came with obscene amounts of cheese. I had two thick slices of ham, more cheese and a perfectly gooey fried egg (melty cheese plus yolk is perfection). W’s came with 10 rashers of bacon. Yep, TEN. We counted. Not surprsingly we slept well that night!

Älplermagrone

Just like our well-loved Mac’n’Cheese, but with added carbs. Pasta AND potatoes are boiled in milk (a little like my one-pan-mac), mixed with a LOT of cheese, topped with fried onions, bacon, more cheese. Yep, it’s good. Yes, it’s ridiculously bad for you.

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Elsässer Flammkuchen

Dough is rolled out very thinly and covered with crème fraîche. Traditionally it’s topped with thinly sliced onions and lardons, which was my favourite. Though I did try a summery version of parma ham and rocket which was nearly as delicious.

 photo What to Eat in Switzerland 20_zpscizw0zwz.jpgCoupe Denmark

Ah, this dessert is the thing of dreams. Plain milk ice-cream, topped with cream and a wafer. Served with a jug of rich chocolate sauce (made with very dark chocolate and plenty of milk, so it doesn’t set on contact with the ice-cream). It’s delicious. Oh so simple. Oh so good.

 photo What to Eat in Switzerland 14_zpssxgwkija.jpg

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Meringue

Meiringen is the birthplace of the meringue, so when we made an unscheduled hangry stop there (we missed a bus that only ran every 2 hours, so ended up doubling our walk) we quickly googled the best stop. Frutal Versandbäckerei (Tearoom Frutal) came out top so we sat in their delightful courtyard (dodging the rather agressive wasps) sipping some of the most delicious homemade iced-tea I’ve eaten drank.

“Oh look” said W. “There’s one for two, shall we share?”

I was only too willing to get along. He nipped out to get cash, I ordered and relaxed. Then saw a standard portion come out (the single portions come in a choice of mini or standard). I began to regret our choice. And then it came out.

It was the size of one of our heads. Two massive meringues, sandwiched with SIX scoops of ice-cream, a lot of whipped cream and fresh fruit. The meringue was amazing. Slightly chewy but not at all sticky, and surprisingly not over-sweet. We admitted defeat about 3/4 of the way in…

Have you been to Switzerland? Is food the best bit about travel for you?

Food: Design Your Own “YouGurt” with Onken (AD)

Yogurt is a pretty staple breakfast in our house – W likes it with fresh fruit, and if I’ve not made overnight oats (recipe here) then I’ll take a jar of yogurt and granola to eat at my desk. I tend to favour a plainer variety sweetened with a spot of honey, W is a bit more adventurous and will pick up all sort of fruity concoctions. But recently I’ve tried something very adventurous, and here’s why…

 photo Onken Yougurt16_zpshcn1crwq.jpg photo Onken Yougurt8_zpsl5dlfvol.jpgThis month Onken is inviting the public to customise their very own flavour of yogurt – or YouGurt if you like a good pun! By combining three flavours, ranging from the downright delicious to the downright bizarre. You could go tropical with a combo of coconut, mango and pineapple, add in some veggies with carrot (told you some of them were bizarre!), or even do something with one of my favourite English fruits, rhubarb. Altogether there are 220 flavour combinations – and yes, the maths geek in me did check that on a calculator.

 photo Onken Yougurt12_zps4vftbney.jpgI went for two slightly safer flavours, adding in a twist with my third. Mango, Coconut and Chilli YouGurt was certainly different! The sweetness of the mango and subtle creamy coconut-tiness paired really well, with the sweet heat of chilli peppers coming through the end. Admittedly not quite the breakfast yogurt I was hoping for, but we’re churning it in our ice-cream maker tonight for a bit of fro-yo.

Now, here’s the exciting bit…

 photo Onken Yougurt10_zpsrrgckmux.jpg photo Onken Yougurt18_zpsacuqvq1b.jpgYou can get involved too! Every day this September the Onken YouGurt Factory will be open for business and accessible via their Facebook page, where 50 pots can be won each and every day. All you do is pick your three flavours and watch the unique pot be created via a personalised video, complete with your name and illustration of your flavour combo. And you might just get to taste it too. At the end of the video you’ll see whether you’re a winner. And if so, your YouGurt will turn up on your doorstep the very next day. And if not, the videos are pretty cool anyway…

You’ve got these flavours to choose from: rhubarb, pumpkin, mint, chilli, cherry, strawberry, agave, pineapple, coconut, mango, peach and carrot. I was seriously tempted by a combo of rhubarb, cherry and mint – doesn’t that sound dreamy…?!

 photo Onken Yougurt17_zpskc3it9zv.jpg*This post has been sponsored by Onken, all opinions are (as always) my own!

Are you a yogurt fan? What flavour combination would you choose?

 

Lifestyle: Happy (Fortnightly) Things #24

I’m now entering what is perhaps one of my busiest times of the year. September is pretty manic at work (not that I’ve experienced it yet, as my graduate programme scheduled a 3-week training conference last year), plus it’s also exam season. It’s meant working late, either on my job or at my notes, revising on weekends and generally just keeping myself busy.

Weirdly, I’m FAR less stressed about this exam than I was in April; possibly because the content is actually enjoyable so it wouldn’t be a total hardship to have to resit. Plus, yano, it’s not two exam papers over two days, it involves maths and all of the notes fit into one lever arch file (plus another two for questions and exam papers). Far nicer! Enough of exams, here’s what’s made me smile recently…

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  1. Coming home to fresh flowers. W bought me a treat after I was *really* grumpy one morning, and he even arranged them nicely in a vase. I know, I don’t deserve him!
  2. Using our dishwasher. I’ve always been against them, but our new flat has one so we’re using it as a treat on weekends. It makes a roast dinner on a Sunday evening so much better.
  3. Date night at Mother London. The pizza was fab, weirdly different to anything I’ve eaten before. Review to follow…
  4. Bedside tables. W followed a couple of online tutorials and produced some pretty cool looking furniture. I’m a lucky girl!
  5. Finally buying a step-ladder. Because I can’t reach the windows in this flat without one…
  6. A weekend to myself. I spent all of it revising and watching back-to-back Harry Potter and it was GOOD.
  7. Winning Emma’s giveaway. So exciting!
  8. Sunday night pampers. The novelty of having a bath is yet to wear off. Please send suggestions for bath products, I try to avoid Lush (my skin isn’t a fan!) but am stuck for what new to try.
  9. Quite possibly the best Cauliflower Cheese I’ve ever eaten. And it was a ‘healthier’ version too. So, so, sooooo tasty…
  10. Finding the dress I’d been lusting after on Oliver Bonas at around 70% off. I’m hoping it fits!

What’s made you happy recently?

Review: Duck & Waffle

I’d wanted to visit Duck & Waffle for aggessss. I poured over the Instagram photos, quizzed friends who had been – hell it even made it on my London Bucket List (which I really must make more of an effort to tick off!). Luckily someone listened to my whining and Santa surprised me with a voucher in my stocking last Christmas, though despite this it was still July before we headed up to the 40-something floor in the heart of the City.

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It was pretty difficult to book in for a weekend breakfast. I checked most days for a good month before I found a date that didn’t clash with pre-made plans, exams or deadlines, and still booked a couple of months in advance. Turns out my planning was excellent – it ended up being the day after W handed in his dissertation, and two days after I found out I’d passed April’s exam (the relief is still there!). So we celebrated with a two course brunch, though passing on the alcohol as numerous bubbles had been consumed in the days previous!

Tea ordered (though still the permanent confusion when presented with two pots and no indication of which was the Earl Grey and which was ‘normal’), it didn’t take us long to decide on our ‘mains’ – we both went for the Duck & Waffle. Neither of us could resist trying the signature dish, although we were tempted by the Full English (him) and the Duck Egg en Cocotte (me).

 photo Duck and Waffle 7_zps9rzbxr0o.jpg photo Duck and Waffle 6_zpswy6s4smt.jpgA toasted waffle, topped with a succulent confit duck leg, capped with an oozing duck egg and a side pot of mustard maple syrup, the Duck & Waffle is a combination of flavours and textures that really just have to be tried. Whilst my waffle was pretty perfect (slightly sweet, soft but with a slightly toasted crunch) I’ve hear reviews of stales ones, particularly those who go later in the day. The duck leg was super-crispy on the outer, with soft fall-apart flesh within. I spent ten or so minutes wishing it was acceptable to pick up and knaw on a bone in public, I didn’t want to waste a single bit of meat. The duck egg was again perfectly cooked with a *just* set white and gooey yolk. The mustard maple syrup was verging on too sweet for me with everything else, I’d possibly want more mustard coming through, but I did enjoy it drizzled on lightly. Plus I got the converted drizzle shot…

 photo Duck and Waffle 12_zpsaxwakdde.jpg photo Duck and Waffle 15_zpsrmox7p17.jpgOur ‘pudding’ was to share a sweet waffle, and it did take flipping a coin to decide which! We went for the Caramelised Banana, which came with homemade hazelnut & chocolate spread, vanilla ice cream and peanut crunch. We loved it – the bananas were warm and gooey, encrusted in a thick brulee sugar topping. The ice-cream was super-cream, the chocolate spread rich. Our only criticism was there was not nearly enough of the peanut crunch.

Oh, and we had to spend the rest of the day lying down in a food coma…

All in all, it was pretty damn good. Pricey, but worth it for a special occasion. The views were gorgeous, the interiors rather Instagrammable and the iconic Duck & Waffle dish was delicious. That said, the menu at Duck & Waffle Local looks a little bit more adventurous (that duck burger!) so I know where I’ll be heading next…

 photo Duck and Waffle 3_zpsc8iyqx9i.jpg photo Duck and Waffle 18_zpsai0yghsw.jpg*Note that this is not a sponsored review – my parents kindly got us a gift voucher for last Christmas, and we paid the difference ourselves.

Have you ever been to Duck & Waffle? What did you think?