November 24, 2010 · Weekly Menus and Recipes · Comments Off on Sushi and Crosnes

It seems inevitable that whatever we can’t have, we want. Since becoming pregnant, I have been craving sushi. Not only am I not allowed to eat the raw fish, but even the cooked or vegetable pieces are so expensive in Switzerland that they are just not worth it. I had been trying to satisfy my craving with a Sushi Bowl from 101 Cookbooks, but, while delicious, it just wasn’t doing the trick. This week I decide to get out my bamboo rolling mat and take matters into my own hands. On Friday, I made about 7 rolls of vegetable and Philadelphia rolls. They were delicious and hit the spot, but I still wanted more on Saturday!

In addition to the sushi, I made a bit of tempura (balancing out the health of the sushi with a bit of deep-fried!) The tempura was inspired by a


new ingredient I saw at a gourmet store. The ingredient, Crosnes, were one I had never seen before. After doing some research, I found out that they are a root related to mint that originates in Northern China. Frequently compared to Jerusalem Artichokes, they can be eaten raw or cooked and are common in Japanese and French cuisines. One of their uses is in tempura- hence, the tempura contribution to Friday’s dinner. Unfortunately, I didn’t actually buy the crosnes when I saw them (and kicked myself for a couple days as the store is a bit far away), so I can personally give my opinion. I have learned my lesson and will grab up a new ingredient (especially produce) as soon as I see it from now one.

Weekly Meals:

  • Chipotle White Chicken Chili with Rainbow Salad
  • Pumpkin Risotto with Salad
  • Dan Dan Mian
  • Sushi Bowl
  • Sushi and Tempura
  • Falafel
November 24, 2010 · Recipe · Comments Off on Jamie Oliver’s Chicken Pie
  • Chicken breast or thighs
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Spring (green) onions
  • Nutmeg
  • Bay leaf
  • Thyme
  • Button mushrooms
  • Creme fraiche
  • Flour
  • Mustard
  • Chicken stock
  • Puff pastry (store bought)


  1. Cut the chicken into 1 cm slices.
  2. Chop green onions.
  3. Slice mushrooms (JO suggests using a food processor).


  1. Preheat oven.
  2. Pour olive oil into pan. Add chicken, a bit of salt and pepper, and a “knob” of butter.
  3. Add green onions.
  4. Grate about 1/4 of a nutmeg over chicken. Add a bay leaf and pinch of time.
  5. As chicken begins to whiten, add mushrooms.
  6. Add a heaping tablespoon of creme fraiche, a heaping tablespoon of flour, a heaping teaspoon of mustard and about 300 ml of chicken stock to pan. Mix.
  7. Simmer on low until ingredients are cooked.
  8. While chicken is simmering, flour and lightly roll the puff pastry. Trim a bit for decorating.
  9. Pour chicken into a baking dish and place puff pastry over the top. Roll excess pastry over the top to leave a small edge of chicken around the dish (this does not need to be neat)!
  10. Very lightly score the pastry and glaze with egg or milk.
  11. Use trimmed pastry dough to decorate top.
  12. Bake at about 450 F until golden.
November 24, 2010 · Weekly Menus and Recipes · Comments Off on Chestnuts and More Jamie Oliver

I have fallen in love with roasted chestnuts. In China, I thought they were mealy and avoided them. In Switzerland, I hunt them down with my now finely tuned nose. I only hope their roasting booths continue to stand on every corner throughout the winter. As a result of my new obsession, I found a recipe titled “A Lot Like Christmas“. While I found very little to remind me of Christmas in the dish, it was a delicious combination of pappardelle, chestnuts, wood ear mushrooms and arugula. I will certainly make it again, but will replace or supplement the wood ears with chunkier, meatier mushrooms. It is worth a try for chestnuts lovers and shunners alike.

This week Jamie Oliver once again impressed. This time it was my wonderful visiting parents who watched 30-minute meals with me, and we were all interested in his Chicken Pie. With Mom’s help (and artistic contribution of dough roses on the top of the pie), we made a wonderful and very easy meal. Ian loved it so much he was licking the pan!  The recipe was not available online (we had to watch the episode again- thanks to DVR). I have posted the general idea here. It is so delicious and simple that I imagine it will quickly become a standard in our home.


November 24, 2010 · Weekly Menus and Recipes · Comments Off on Disasters

This week included a couple nearly complete meal failures. The first was due to poor ingredients; the second to trying to reduce the fat in a dish. Both I was very excited about and ultimately quite disappointed.

On Monday I searched for Thai recipes to use some kafir lime leaves and lemongrass I had found. I love Thai flavors and was really hoping to make a delicious meal. Recipes were not hard to find and I chose a coconut soup, lemongrass flavored rice, rice paper wrapped salmon and mango sticky rice. The lemongrass rice was no problem, and the sticky rice was fine with the exception of bland mangoes. However, the coconut soup was too watery and bland, and while I didn’t realize it when preparing, the salmon had gone bad. I chose organic salmon filets (and paid for them!) only to find that, though the looked and felt fine, they tasted like mold. An expensive dish tossed right into the trash. Arg!

The following night I realized we had a huge bag of potatoes that were beginning to sprout. I blanched and froze most of them, and then looked for a dinner recipe for the remaining. In Chengdu, a Basque friend of ours would often make a fantastic Spanish tortilla. I decided to give it a try even though he had told me it was a labor intensive process. Most recipes I found said to deep fry the potato slices before adding them too the egg. I thought that sounded too heavy, and finally found a recipe calling for boiled potatoes instead of fried. My mistake. The dished turned out o.k., but was dense and lacked flavor. Next time I’ll know better.

Dishes for the week:

  • Thai Coconut Soup, Rice-paper Wrapped Salmon, Lemongrass Rice and Mango Sticky Rice
  • Spanish Tortilla
  • Brown Rice Sushi Bowl
  • Mushroom Risotto (again!)
  • Lentil and Sausage Soup
November 24, 2010 · Sichuan Cuisine · Comments Off on Discovering Jamie Oliver

My favorite channel while in the States is undoubtedly the Food Network. I can watch just about any show that they put on and always find some inspiration. Since moving overseas, I have missed food shows and haven’t found a good substitute. However, the other week I. found 30-minute Meals with Jamie Oliver on BBC.  We both instantly gave it our attention. Jamie Oliver does a fantastic job of making every dish look both delicious and easy. The idea of the show is to demonstrate that cooks can create healthy, tasty multi-dish meals in under 30 minutes. It quickly motivated me and I tried his Oozy Mushroom Risotto (one of 3 dishes he made during a show). I had always heard that risotto was difficult and time-consuming. However, I found it to be simple, absolutely delicious and a crowd-pleaser. I’m thankful to have a new go-to resource for weeknight meals and inspiration!


  • Greek Lemon Meatball Soup, Salad and Bread
  • Oozy Mushroom Risotto, Baked Purple Carrots and Salad
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Chicken and Dumpling Soup
  • Pad Thai with Green Papaya Salad
  • Tuna and Tomato Bruschetta and Steamed Artichoke