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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Swiss Cuisine

When you think of Switzerland you might think of the Swiss Alps, of lovely mountain cottages and snow covered mountains. But what about Swiss food?Swiss cuisine is influenced in many ways by its neighbors’’ cuisine, including Italian, French, and German cuisine. However the Swiss also have some unique dishes. Being a country of farmers for a long time their specialties include potatoes and cheese and more exquisite foods such as chocolate. There are four linguistic regions in Switzerland – German, French, Italian, and Romansch (spoken almost uniquely in Graubunden Canton). Each of them also provide some special dishes. Most of which can be found throughout Switzerland.

Food that is often associated with Switzerland includes cheese and chocolate. Some famous Swiss cheeses are Emmental (a yellow, medium-hard cheese, with characteristic large holes. It has a piquant, but not really sharp taste.), Gruyere (a hard yellow cheese made from cow's milk, named after the town of Gruyères in Switzerland, and made in the cantons of Fribourg, Vaud), Vacherin (a soft, rich, seasonal cheese contained in a grayish-yellow blanched rind and called Vacherin Mont d'Or. Made from cow's-milk in Switzerland or France, usually in villages of the Jura region (an origin that has been officially controlled since 1981), it typically contains 45 to 50 percent milk fat. It is marketed in a round wooden cheese-box and can be served warmed in its original packaging and eaten like a fondue) and Appenzeller (a hard cow's-milk cheese produced in the Appenzell region of northeast Switzerland. An herbal brine, sometimes incorporating wine or cider, is applied to the wheels of cheese while they cure, which flavors and preserves the cheese while promoting the formation of a rind). The most popular cheese dishes are fondue (a Swiss communal dish shared at the table in an earthenware pot (caquelon) over a small burner (rechaud). The term is derived from the French fondre (to melt), in the past tense fondu (melted). Diners use forks to dip bits of food (most often bread) into the warm semi-liquid sauce (commonly a cheese mix). Heat is supplied by a wicked or gel alcohol burner, or a tealight) and raclette (a semi-firm, salted cheese made from cow's milk. However, varieties exist made with white wine, pepper, herbs, or smoked. The cheese originated in the Swiss canton of Valais, but is today also produced in the French regions of Savoie and Franche-Comté.). Both of these dishes were originally regional dishes, but were popularized by the Swiss Cheese Union to boost sales of cheese. Rosti a popular potato dish is eaten all over Switzerland. Rösti is made with potatoes which are grated and depending on the frying technique, possibly mixed with some butter or fat, or fried in oil later. The grated potatoes are then shaped into rounds or patties, which come in different sizes usually measuring between 3-12 cm (1 to 5 inches) in diameter and 1-2 cm (0.5 inch) thick. Often the Rösti is simply shaped inside of the frying pan. They are most often shallow fried but can also be baked in the oven. Although the basic Rösti consists of nothing but potato, a number of additional ingredients are sometimes added, such as bacon, onions, cheese, apples or fresh herbs. This is often considered to be a regional touch. It was originally eaten for breakfast but now has been replaced at breakfast tables by muesli which in Switzerland goes by the name of Birchermuesli. For breakfast and dinner many Swiss enjoy sliced bread with butter and jam. A wide variety of bread rolls are available in Switzerland. Tarts and quiches are also traditional Swiss dishes. A quiche is a baked dish that is made primarily of eggs and milk or cream in a pastry crust. Other ingredients such as cooked chopped meat, vegetables, or cheese are often added to the egg mixture before the quiche is baked. Tarts in particular are made with all sorts of toppings, from sweet apple to onion. In Switzerland there are a great number of regional dishes. For example zurigschnatzlets which are thin strips of veal with mushrooms in a cream sauce served with rösti (the above mentioned potato dish). Italian cuisine is popular in contemporary Switzerland, particularly pasta and pizza. In the Ticino area (the Italian speaking part of Switzerland) one can find a restaurant which is unique to the region. The Grotto is a rustic eatery that offers traditional food ranging from pasta to home made meat specialties. Popular dishes are luganighe and luganighetta, a type of artisan sausages. Authentic grottoes are old wine caves refunctioned into restaurants. They are mostly found in or around forests and built against a rocky background. Cervelat or cervelas (a type of cooked sausage produced mainly in Switzerland and in parts of Germany. In its modern Swiss variety, it consists of a mixture of beef, bacon and pork rind that is packed into zebu intestines ('humped cattle'), slightly smoked and then boiled) considered the national sausage and is popular all over Switzerland.

Dishes from the French speaking part of Switzerland – Papet vaudois (leeks with sausage). The dishes of Canton Vaud are particularly filling: pork sausage, leek and potato hotpot. This dish is usually served with saucisson and/or with saucisse au foie and saucisse au chou (smoked liver or cabbage sausages). Fondue is the most famous Swiss menu. It’s made of melted cheese and is eaten by dipping small pieces of bread or potatoes in the melted cheese. Racelette is hot cheese dribbled over potatoes and served with small gherkins, pickled onions etc.

Dishes from the German speaking part of Switzerland – Rosti is dish similar to hash browns and is traditionally regarded as a Swiss German favorite. A dish that comes from the Emmental in Canton Bern the home of the famous cheese is Emmental Apple Rosti. There are dozens of types of bread in Switzerland. However Zopf a type of Swiss bread made from white flour, milk, egg, butter and yeast. The dough is brushed with egg yolk before baking, lending it its golden crust. It is baked in the form of a plait and traditionally eaten on Sunday mornings. Cut meat Zurich style is often served with rosti. Alplermagronen (Alpine herdsman’s macaroni) is an all-in-one dish made of what herdsmen had on hand – macaroni, potatoes, onions, small pieces of bacon and melted cheese. Traditionally this dish is served with applesauce instead of vegetables or salad.

Dishes from the Graubunden Canton in Switzerland – A popular dish is Chur Meat Pie and the most famous soup is Graubunden Barley Soup. Pizokel with cabbage - in some places when eaten by themselves they are known in Romansh as "bizochels bluts", or "bald pizokel". If someone leaves a small amount of any kind of food on the serving dish for politeness sake, in the Engadine this is called "far sco quel dal bizoccal", meaning more or less "leaving the last pizokel". The most famous nut cake is the Engadine Nut Cake.

Rivella a carbonated Swiss drink is one of the most popular drinks in Switzerland. Apple juice is also popular in many areas and is also produced in the form of cider. Wine is produced in the Valais, the Vaud, the Ticino and the canton of Zurich.Riesling X Sylvaner is a common white wine produced in the German speaking parts of the country while Chasselas is the most common white wine in the French speaking part. Pinot Noir the most popular red grape is found in both the French and German speaking parts while this position is held by Merlot in the Italian speaking part. Absinthe (is traditionally a distilled, highly alcoholic (45%-75% ABV) beverage. It is an anise-flavored spirit derived from herbs, including the flowers and leaves of the herb Artemisia absinthium, also called wormwood. Absinthe has a characteristic natural green colour but is also produced in a clear style. It is often called "the Green Fairy". Although it is sometimes mistakenly called a liqueur, absinthe is not bottled with added sugar and is therefore classified as a liquor.[1] Absinthe is unusual among spirits in that it is bottled at a high proof but is normally diluted with water when it is drunk.) is brewed again in the Jura region of Switzerland, where it originated; long banned by a specific anti-Absinthe article in the Swiss constitution, it has been re-legalized since 2005. Now once again distilled in its Val-de-Travers birthplace, Swiss absinthe is now also exported to many countries, with Kübler and La Clandestine Absinthe among the first new brands to emerge. The chocolate drink Ovomaltine (known in the USA as "Ovaltine") originates in Switzerland and enjoys ongoing popularity, particularly with young people. Aside from being a beverage it is also used on top of a slice of buttered bread.

Älplermagronen is a very typical Swiss „Pasta-Dish"with lots of cheese and potatoes and onions. Instead of eating Raclette or Fondue on a cold winter night, Älplermagronen are a great alternative.
Recipe for 4 (ingredients can be plused as needed)
500 grs Macaroni or Hörnli (or Italian Macaroni, break them into pieces of 3 – 4 cm)
5 – 6 medium size potatoes
2 large onions
2 tablespoons butter
4 dl cream or milk (I make it half/half)
400 grs grated cheese (i.e. Sbrinz, Gruyere, Bergkäse = a older, stronger hard cheese)
a touch of nutmeg and salt and pepper
Peel the potatoes and cut them into 2 – 3 cm big pieces.
Cook the potatoes "al-dente".
Cook the Makkaronis al-dente.
In the meantime, melt the butter and sauté the onions, until gold-brown.
Boil up the crème-and-milk mix, add the nutmeg and some pepper. Towards the end, add about 100 gr. of the cheese.
In a casserole, mix the potatoes with the Macaroni, 200 grs cheese and half of the browned onions.
Pour over the creme-and-milk-and cheese mix.
Stir up well.
Top it with the remaining cheese and the onions.
Put it in the oven for about 10 - 15 minutes (at 200°) until the cheese is melted.
Serve with "Apfelmus" (applesauce) and enjoy.

Churer Meat Pie (Churer Fleischtorte)
A popular dish from Graubünden in south eastern Switzerland
Ingredients for four people:
• 3 1/4 cups flour
• 1/2 cup margarine
• 1 tsp salt
• just under one cup water
• yolk of two eggs
• 18 oz mixed ground meat
• 2 oz bacon, finely chopped
• 1/2 cup cream
• 6 oz white bread, diced
• hot milk
• salt
• nutmeg
• pepper
Oven temperature: 450 degrees
1. Rub together the four, margarine and salt
2. Mix the water and one egg yolk, and add to the flour mixture, combining them to form a dough
3. Allow to rest
1. Mix together the ground meat, bacon and cream
2. Soften the bread in the hot milk, squeeze dry, then add to the meat along with the onion
3. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and stir well
1. Use two thirds of the dough to line a baking tin. Prick with a fork, and spread the filling over it
2. Roll out a lid with the rest of the dough, and lay it on top
3. Paint the lid with the remaining egg yolk, and prick with a fork
4. Bake for 50 minutes
Serve with a green salad By Rasma Raisters

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