Monday, February 23, 2015

Baby Shower Cake

I offered to make the cake for a baby shower this past weekend. I had already decided to personalize a picture frame as a gift for baby Aurora, so I did that first. I was going to go online to find ideas for decorating the cake, but then I thought of using the same theme as the picture frame; toy blocks and a teddy bear. I’m no expert using fondant yet, but I was quite pleased with the outcome!

Monday, February 16, 2015


Justin and Martina's reception
Jordan and Annie's reception
Two friends and I met for lunch at Béthanie today. Béthanie is not the name of a restaurant, but rather the nursing home up the street. Believe it or not, their food could easily be served in a nice restaurant. Since our whole family volunteers there, Béthanie hosted a reception for each of our sons – who both got married in the States – to give our Swiss friends an opportunity to share in celebrating their weddings. The food was so beautiful it gave me the idea to ask if I could learn more tricks of the trade in their kitchen.

I spent two weeks there doing the same work as their apprentices, like chopping mountains of vegetables. My biggest challenge was learning to serve properly. At Béthanie many residents eat in their rooms, hospital style, but quite a few are served in the formal dining room. It would take much more than a couple of weeks to get the knack of preparing those fancy plates!

One of the things I enjoyed most during those two weeks was being in charge of the salad buffet in the employee cafeteria. I learned a lot about presentation. For example, a potato salad was to be served in a dark bowl and garnished with something like pickles or olives; whereas a beet salad should be served in a light colored bowl with maybe onion slices as a garnish. It was fun to try to contrast the eight different salads each day and to make them all pretty. The day I learned to make tomato skin roses I was so excited that I went home and made roses for our own dinner plates that evening!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Peanut Brittle

If you are looking for something sweet for your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day, try this recipe!

Peanut Brittle
1 cup (200 g) sugar
¼ cup (60 ml) water
½ cup (120 ml) corn syrup
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (130 g) shelled peanuts
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons (25 g) butter

In a heavy medium-sized pot, combine first 4 ingredients and bring to a boil over medium heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, stir in peanuts. Cook, stirring constantly, to 300º F (150º C ; a small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water will separate into hard, brittle threads). Watch carefully so mixture does not burn. Immediately remove from heat. Quickly stir in baking soda and butter. Pour at once onto a greased cookie sheet. Quickly spread about ¼ inch thick. Cool completely. Break into pieces. Store in airtight container.

Croquant aux cacahuètes
200 g de sucre
60 ml d’eau
120 ml de sirop de maïs
¼ de cuillère à café de sel
130 g de cacahuètes
1 cuillère à café de bicarbonate
25 g de beurre
Dans une casserole moyenne, mélanger les 4 premiers ingrédients et porter à ébullition à feu moyen. Une fois le sucre dissout, rajouter les cacahuètes. Cuire en remuant constamment jusqu’à 150º C (une goutte du mélange versé dans l'eau très froide formera des fils durs et cassants). Veiller à ce que le mélange ne brûle pas. Retirer immédiatement du feu. Rajouter rapidement le bicarbonate et le beurre et bien mélanger. Verser immédiatement sur une plaque graissée. Etaler rapidement afin d’obtenir une couche d’environ 5-6 mm d'épaisseur. Laisser refroidir complètement. Briser en morceaux. Conserver dans un récipient fermé.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Smoked Salmon Lasagna

Here’s an alternative to traditional lasagna that’s perfect for fish lovers!

Smoked Salmon Lasagna
1 2/3 cups (4 dl) milk
7 oz (200 g) mascarpone
5 oz (150 g) parmesan
4 oz (120 g) chopped spinach
1 egg beaten
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
7 oz (200 g) smoked salmon
8-10 dry lasagna noodles

Combine first 7 ingredients, mix well. Place a layer of dry noodles in a greased 2-quart casserole dish (leave enough room between the noodles for them to expand). Pour enough of the wet mixture over the noodles to cover completely. Cover with thin slices of smoked salmon. Repeat until all ingredients are used up, finishing with wet mixture (3 or 4 layers). Cook in oven at 350° F (175° C) for 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes to set before serving.

Lasagnes au saumon fumé
4 dl de lait
200 g de mascarpone
150 g de parmesan râpé
120 g d’épinards hachés
1 œuf battu
¼ cuillère à café de sel
¼ cuillère à café de poivre
200 g de saumon fumé
150 g de pâtes pour lasagne
Bien mélanger les 7 premiers ingrédients. Placez une couche de pâtes sèches dans un plat allant au four beurré (laisser suffisamment d'espace entre les pâtes pour qu’elles puissent gonfler). Verser assez du mélange liquide sur les pâtes pour les recouvrir. Couvrir de fines tranches de saumon fumé. Répéter jusqu'à ce que tous les ingrédients soient utilisés, en finissant avec le mélange liquide (3 ou 4 couches). Cuire 30 minutes à 175° C. Laisser reposer 10 minutes avant de servir.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Spaghetti Sauce

Mom in her lab circa 1965
Mom always said the longer you simmer spaghetti sauce the better. She would take a big pot of sauce to the chemistry lab and let it simmer while she taught. Then she would have her students over for spaghetti that evening.

You can use the same ground beef mixture as for lasagna, or add 3 celery stalks and increase the ground beef up to 2 pounds (1 kg) for a meatier sauce.

Monday, February 2, 2015


Home-made lasagna takes a bit of time, but it beats anything you can buy at the store. Mom used to double or triple this recipe for a crowd. Some say it’s even better reheated!

1 pound (500 g) ground beef
1 large onion
1 bell pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1 tablespoon basil
2 teaspoons salt
1 large can (800 g) diced tomatoes
6 ounces (200 g) tomato paste

Chop onion and bell pepper and press garlic. Brown with meat in a large skillet. Add next 5 ingredients and 1 cup water. Simmer 30 minutes.

2 cups ricotta
1 cup milk
2 eggs beaten
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
3 ounces (100 g) grated parmesan

In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta with the next 6 ingredients. 

10 ounces (300 g) lasagna noodles
1 pound (450 g) mozzarella or mild cheese, grated

Place a layer of uncooked noodles in a 13x9x2-inch (32x22x5 cm) baking dish (leave enough room between the noodles for them to expand). Cover with hamburger mixture, then ricotta mixture, then sprinkle with cheese. Repeat until all ingredients are used up. Bake 40 minutes at 350° F (175° C).

500 g de viande hachée
1 gros oignon
1 poivron
2 gousses d’ail
1 cuillère à soupe de persil lyophilisé
1 cuillère à soupe de basilic lyophilisé
2 cuillères à café de sel
1 boite (800 g) de tomates concassées
200 g de concentré de tomate
Hacher l'oignon et le poivron et presser l'ail. Faire revenir avec la viande dans une grande poêle. Ajouter les 5 prochains ingrédients et 3 dl d'eau. Laisser mijoter 30 minutes.
500 g de séré
2,5 dl de lait
2 œufs battus
2 cuillère à soupe de persil lyophilisé
2 cuillères à café de sel
2 cuillères à café de poivre
100 g de parmesan râpé
Dans un bol, mélanger le séré avec les 6 prochains ingrédients.
300 g de pâtes pour lasagne
450 g de mozzarelle (ou fontal ou gouda) râpé
Placer une couche de pâtes non cuites dans un plat allant au four de 32x22x5 cm (laisser suffisamment d'espace entre les pâtes pour qu’elles puissent gonfler). Couvrir avec le mélange de viande hachée, puis le mélange au séré, puis parsemer de fromage. Répétez jusqu'à ce que tous les ingrédients soient utilisés. Cuire 40 minutes à 175 °C.