Category Archives: Swiss

Hearty Cabbage ‘n Lentil Soup With or Without Smoked Sausage

It’s about time a post a great soup recipe and I’m sure this one would please both, vegetarians and carnivores. This October is definitely taking a Swiss food direction for us: the recently discovered Vaudois sausages are actually the culprits of turning this wonderful vegetarian soup into a real carnivorian treat. First thing first though, this soup is incredibly nourishing and soul-soothing already in its vegetarian version. The ingredients and spices in it already make a perfect flavor combination and are bursting with healthy nutriments. The smoked sausage however does bring its taste and depth to the level the non-vegetarian would never forget.  Naturally, with the modern scientific approach to cooking, a teaspoon of liquid smoke can deliver relatively similar aroma in vegetarian version (although you probably won’t even need it). But the succulent smoked sausage itself, especially the one we discovered recently at Saucisson Vaudois deli, well, that’s a different story…

Last week-end we headed to Mont Saint-Grégoire (about 40-minutes driving from Montreal) to have our last year’s walk through the golden leaves of the fall and collect some apples. This area is known to have a number of Swiss farmers settled there over the years (true, the mountain scenery looks remotely Switzerlandish). Not surprisingly, on our way to the mountain forest we stopped by at Saucisson Vaudois in a tiny town Sainte-Brigide. Just by the number of cars with Montreal’s licenses and European-looking people stepping out of them (some were wearing Tyrolean hats indeed) we knew something was going on in there. The selection of all things Swiss was impressive including of course the smoked sausages and their names, like Waadtlaenderwurst or Nuremberg Bratwurst.

Lower right image credit Saucisson Vaudois

The October special sausages like saucisse aux chou grabbed our attention and we got some to try along with bunch of other things that make you drool. For the record, many Montreal celeb restaurants, like Au Pied De Cochon, for example, are buying Vaudois specialties directly from them (which explains why you don’t necessarily see those products in major groceries).

One of their best selling items is a blood pudding and most of the time if you come by in the afternoon, chances are you won’t find any. We were lucky to get some and believe me, after it’s been slow-cooked with onions, apples and cider for about 30 minutes, it WILL make our taste buds singing Yodel-Ay-Ee-Oooo! (provided you like boudin in general and tried some of the world’s best).
If you’re currently visiting Montreal to enjoy the fall scenery, look no further and go to MontSaintGrégoire. It’s not only quintessentially quaint place for cabane a sucre (maple syrup attraction). Each fall the majestic matured sugar maple grove of Charbonneau turns into a breathtaking Pan’s Labyrinth of adventures hidden among the enchanted trees.

Just meandering along the red & yellow leaf-covered trails in a splendor of the dazzling colors is already serene and relaxing. But you have so much more options: from apple-picking (yes, it’s still on) and food & beer sampling; to biking or horse-riding, to hair-raising tree-top trekking…

And as you look out into the majestic fall scenery (and/or perform some thrilling Tarzan flips in Arbraska on a zip line), your appetite is growing and soon you find yourself making pit stops at farms and local deli to hurry back home after and sample what you bought…

And then 30-minutes later this uber comforting soup is born. The Vaudois smoked sausage with cabbage (a cuire) with cooking instructions: ‘boil for 20 minutes’ suggested that it dived directly into a hearty mix of boiling veggies. Cabbage in, cabbage out and so it was a cabbage soup; with the touch of the traditional Swiss Papet Vaudois (leek, potatoes, wine) ingredients; bunch of spice and dark greens to lift up the taste and benefits; and lentils for an extra fiber and protein (specifically in vegetarian case).

Boy oh boy it was good, Oktoberfest-like too, with a cold glass of beer on a side. Cheers!

Great Tip: cooking a whole smoked sausage, be it Swiss Vaudois or Spanish Chorizo and slicing it right before serving delivers much tastier results than cutting the sausage in pieces before cooking (then the sausage loses half of its taste and color).

Useful swaps: use these (almost interchangeable) ingredients to match your taste or fridge selection:

-1 leek to 1 onion, thinly sliced (add all at the time to add onion);
-2 potatoes to 2 sweet potatoes or 2 big carrots (add all at the time to add potatoes);
-3 mentioned spices (paprika, cumin, coriander) to a heaping tablespoon of ground or paste curry;  
-¼ cabbage to 4 cups of kale (add all at the time to add kale);
-1 big tomato to 1 cup of diced canned tomatoes or 1 cup of tomato juice;
-1 pound smoked uncooked sausage to 1 pound smoked cooked sausage (add 5 minutes into the end of cooking);
-½ dry red lentils to 1 cup any canned/rinsed lentils or navy beans
Enjoy your fall cooking!
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SMOKED SAUSAGE CABBAGE & LENTIL SOUP
Yields: 6 generous portions.
Ingredients:
1 tbsp vegetable oil
½ tsp chili flakes
1 onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp ground coriander
 ½ tsp ground cumin
1 leek (white part only), thinly sliced
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 big tomato, diced
½ cup white wine or apple cider vinegar (optional)
6-7 cups vegetable broth, or chicken stock, or water
¼ small green cabbage, shredded
1-2 bay leaves
1 lbs smoked uncooked sausage
½ cup dry red lentils
2 cups kale (or Swiss chard, or spinach), coarsely chopped
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Fresh parsley or basil for garnish, minced
Instructions:
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or a large pot to medium high and add chili flakes. Add onion, garlic and sauté for one minute. Add paprika, coriander, cumin and mix. Add leek and potatoes and sauté for 5 minutes more. Add tomatoes and sauté for two more minutes. Optionally, add a big splash of white wine or apple cider vinegar.
Add broth, cabbage and bay leaves, stir and bring to boil. Add the sausage. Reduce heat to simmering. Half-cover the pot with the lid and cook simmering for 10 minutes, until potatoes are almost done.
Add red lentils, mix well, bring back to boil and simmer for another 10 minutes.
Remove the lid, add kale, mix and simmer for 2 more minutes uncovered.
Check the seasoning, discard the bay leaves, remove the sausage and set aside to cool down a bit (3 minutes). Slice the sausage to the bite-size pieces. Ladle the soup in the bowls and add the desired amount of sausage to each. Garnish with chopped parsley or fresh basil and serve immediately.

Match Point Carrot Cake for Thanksgiving


Don’t leave this cake unattended at your party because it will disappear in seconds and you won’t even notice that. Yep, that’s how good it is! Rather, keep it in the fridge until last minute to actually hear those OHHH and AHHH from your guests (it will still disappear, but at least you get to collect some kudos). Though the title for this recipe makes it sound as if we were going to re-watch Hitchcock’s ‘Strangers on a Train’, or Allen’s ‘Match Point’, or have some sort of tennis tournament in between, it’s really just to show how we came to the idea of this dessert and how it became such a winning recipe for our Thanksgiving table. With the Riesling wine jelly glaze and decadent salted maple caramel sauce, the take on a traditional Swiss cake has never been tastier.
This year we didn’t have to really cast for a Thanksgiving dessert. The idea landed on our kitchen counter along with the mountain of fresh carrot juice pulp leftovers during our Saturday breakfast. What to do with all this goodness? We didn’t want to send it to the compost and were determined to make some use of the fresh majestically orange fiber. 
Carrot cake came as a natural answer (you can use mince grated carrot in place of the pulp if you want). We recycled carrot juice pulp before just by mixing it with nuts, maple syrup, raisins and spice and pressing the mix into the bundt pan to have a no-bake healthy (gluten, dairy and eggs-free) dessert or snack upon refrigerating it overnight. But this time we wanted something special, after all, it’s Thanksgiving. Classic Swiss carrot cake romantically named Rublitortesounded like something approaching that healthy vegan cake (as much as any traditional dessert can be healthy): almonds, carrots, almost no flour or butter… and it gets better with time, so making it few days before Thanksgiving was a smart idea.

Applying the white wine jelly glaze over instead of the classic apricot jelly was a grown up step up in the finishing touch (microwave jelly in increments for 30 seconds and stir each time until almost pourable consistency). When it came to the traditional lemon-sugar glaze however, I wasn’t satisfied: it tasted too 70ies and lacked ‘personality’ in terms of a great cake’s buttery touch.  We expertly played with cream cheese (first), Mascarpone (second) and whipped cream (third) on a side – they were all good, yet they still didn’t taste like perfect match. And then, BOOM-BAM, the idea of the salty caramel sauce dressing has arrived and made a real hinge point of the recipe. 

I used the fellow-blogger recipe of Ree Drummond, which I made before and loved, except I added some maple syrup to it (feel free to use brown sugar only (1 full cup) as her recipe stipulates) for an extra flavor. And that was where the magic happened: the finger-licking salted caramel sauce has turned the traditional carrot cake into a gourmand-endorsed upscale modern confection we were exactly looking for. 
Our Thanksgiving Monday was workaholic-industrious, having approximately this kind of beat.
The long week-end is always extremely vital for the seasonal backyard works. Seven of us were crazy-busy cleaning-up the garden before frost.  Removing dead leaves, needles and rotten apples; cutting perennials, branches and bushes; mulching; planting spring bulbs and new perennials; transplanting; patching the grass; working out compost, making barn repairs… (I’m already tired just listing this). 
Finally, we also had to fell another tree with almost bare hands and it was tough and dangerous (the tree was close to power lines). Guess what, this morning they gave a killer app on the radio, that cutting or pruning trees that grow close to the voltage lines can be done for free by Hydro Quebec http://www.hydroquebec.com/trees/entretien.html– WHOA! You live, you learn (and you are welcome) – that gives a hope next time we will be less exhausted. Everyone was dog-tired, even the doggie…
Kicking back at Thanksgiving dinner was more than well-deserved. Naturally, the dinner would not be complete without the roast turkey, succulent braised beef with gnocchi and mixed greens salad. But the carrot cake was a show stopper.  

It was euphoria inducing delicious and everyone raved about salted caramel applied to it (match point it was). Later that night we crashed on the sofas determined to re-watch one of the above-mentioned movies, but fell asleep as soon as our heads touched the pillows…

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One year ago: No Fuss Coq au Vin 
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SWISS CARROT CAKE RUBLITORTE with SALTED MAPLE CARAMEL SAUCE
Yields: 10 portions
Carrot Cake:
2 cups (275 g) raw carrot pulp, or freshly grated and firmly packed
3 cups (300 g) almond (and/or hazelnut) meal
½ lemon zest
½ cup (60 g) flour (opt for gluten free flour if wish be)
1 heaping tsp dry yeast
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1 ½ tsp sea salt
5 eggs, yolks and whites separated
1 ½ cup powdered sugar (187 g)
1 tbsp butter to grease the pan
2 tbsp apricot or Riesling jelly, liquefied for the glaze
1/2 cup slivered almonds for garnish, toasted
Lemon Sugar Icing: (optional)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp water
Preheat the oven to 425F.
Combine carrots, nuts and zest in a bowl. Add cinnamon, flour, yeast and salt and mix.
Beat egg yolks with sugar until thick. Stir into the carrot mixture. Beat egg whites until the stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whites into carrot mixture. Do not over-mix.
Grease the 9 inch diameter spring form pan and sprinkle with flour. Shake to coat evenly. Pour batter into the pan. Bake for 50 minutes or until the knife tester comes out clean. Let cool.
Remove sides from the pan and place the cake over the wire rack that has been set over wax paper to catch the drips. Spoon the glaze over the top of the cake letting it to drip to the sides. Even out the glaze with spatula. Garnish with toasted almonds.
Refrigerate from overnight for up to 3 days in a tightly covered cake box from overnight to 3-5 days. Serve with salted maple caramel sauce.
Salted Maple Caramel Sauce:
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup half & half cream
4 tbsp butter
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Instructions:
Mix the maple syrup, brown sugar, cream, butter and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook while whisking gently for 5-7 minutes, until it thickens. Add vanilla and cook for another minute to thicken further. Set aside. Use at the room temperature.
Adapted from: Easy Caramel Sauce by Ree Drummond, Food Network, Ranching in the Mist, 2011.