Friday, January 21, 2011

Leeks are my new favorite vegetable.

Not much new to post about right now. Jack is finally over his never ending cold and now we are getting ready for our 2 week vacation in California! I can't wait to get away from the cold weather for a while.

In the meantime, I thought I'd post about one of the best discoveries I've made in Switzerland. The leek. I know these must have existed back in the states, but I had never seen one or cooked one. Right now, leeks are the major vegetable available and I have discovered so many ways to eat leeks: in soup, in quiche, in casseroles, etc. My all time favorite leek recipe is chopped leeks in cream, then wrapped in ham, topped with cheese sauce and baked. Then you eat them with knopfli which is a sort of potato pasta. I don't think it is possible to recreate this dish in the states, so I am going to post the recipe for my 2nd favorite leek dish:

Pie Au Jambon Et Au Poireau (Ham and leek pie)

1 Tablespoon butter
1 onion, finely chopped
800 g of potatoes chopped approx. 5 mm thick
600 g leeks, cut 1 cm thick
1 tsp salt
3.3 oz vegetable stock
150 g ham, cut into strips
180 g Creme Fraiche ... (not sure if you can find this, but I think you can substitute sour cream with herbs)
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1 Pie crust

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and cook the onion. Add the potatoes, leeks, salt and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered for approx. 15 minutes. Put in a bowl and let cool. Mix in the ham, cream fraiche, parsley, salt and pepper. Pour everything into the pie crust. Cut leftover edges off crust and crisscross on top of the pie (like you do with apple pie). Bake for 10 minutes in the lower half of 240 C (464 degree F) oven, reduce temperature to 200 C (428 degree F)  and cook for 25 minutes. Serve with salad.

*You can replace ham and parsely with fillet salmon and dill


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Christmas in Barcelona with the Caganer, the Caga Tio and croup

We were scheduled to leave for Barcelona on Wednesday the 22nd, but Monday night (the 20th) Jack woke us all up with the terrible sounding cough that is croup. It is the first time he has ever had it, and boy is it awful. There were moments during the night that I thought he would pass out because he was coughing so much without taking a breath. I went to the ER Tuesday morning and was assured by the doctor to just let it run its course and that it was okay to still fly to Barcelona the next day. She gave me prescriptions just in case he got worse and we packed our bags and headed out. 

The first 2 days in Spain we rested in our hotel. Jack kept us up all night coughing so we were pretty tired and we wanted to take time to let everyone rest. We spent a few hours each day walking around the city and seeing the Christmas markets, the nativity scenes and the Caganer:

Aka: the pooping guy
The Caganer is a typical Catalonian tradition at Christmas time and you can always find one hiding in their nativity scenes.

Our hotel had a view of the harbor and we spent plenty of time enjoying the "warm" weather

Christmas Eve we headed out to buy our Caga Tio aka "pooping log."  Another Catalonian tradition, the Caga Tio is part of the Christmas Eve activities. Most families will choose their Caga Tio well in advance of Christmas and they will feed it fruits and nuts daily. Then, on Christmas Eve the kids hit the Caga Tio with a stick and it poops out presents. 
Our Caga Tio just sat and watched Jack open his presents
On Sunday, we took one of the "hop on, hop off" tours of the city
It was absolutely freezing and we only lasted a few hours in the bus which had no heat
But we did get to see some cool sights
And we were able to appreciate how huge the city is
Sunday afternoon we took a side trip to Park Guell which I had read would be a great place for kids. I would have to disagree. To get to the park was a nightmare in itself with hundreds of steps and no elevator so we had to carry the stroller the whole way up. On the positive side, we had a nice view of Barcelona from the top
The park itself was pretty neat, with several odd buildings
But it was unimaginably crowded and I can't imagine letting a toddler loose here
Jack ended up sleeping the entire time anyways. So we took some pictures and left. Here are my mom and dad
A very tired Luke and Jenny
In Barcelona we discovered a delicious mexican food restaurant. Seeing as I haven't had anything close to mexican food since moving to Switzerland I was very excited for the food and my first margarita in almost a year
Jack got his very own "San Fransico" drink

And the food was delicious. We ended up going back the next night as well
Monday morning we headed to see the steps where Columbus was greeted by Queen Isabella and Ferdinand upon his return from America
Then we visited the church were the native americans he brought back were baptized
I had to bribe Jack for this picture
Here is the actual font that the native americans were baptized in
Monday afternoon we headed out of the city and up to the Tibidabo mountain. It is a very difficult place to get to if you are not familiar with the city, but eventually we made it. At the top of the mountain sits a huge church
And some wonderful views
There is also a pretty big amusement park with several rides that Jack could go on
He learned his first lesson with going on rides with Poppy: Poppy goes fast! At one point I was sure Jack was going to throw up from being spun so fast, but he loved it!
Tibidabo mountain amusement park and church
Another view of the church 

Awesome view of Barcelona
We came home Tuesday night and had plans to go sledding in Gimmelwald for New Years but we had to cancel them since Jack was still sick (and still is). We ended up celebrating New Years here at home playing our new video game "Neverwinter Nights" the french version. Our one resolution for this year is to conquer French!