Sunday, December 26, 2010

Anischräbeli (Aniseed Cookies)

Since my previous post was about how much I enjoy Swiss cookies, I thought I'd share my all-time favourite. Anischräbeli. Phonetically it's pronounced "arnis-cra-bell-ee", well close enough, this is the best I could come up with. Anywho, the name is not so important, what is important is this cookie is like no other cookie I have tasted, and certainly nothing like any cookie I can buy where I live. Which is kinda weird, since it's such a simple thing to make (despite how complicated the recipe may appear).

I guess if you don't like aniseed then you might be scared to attempt this recipe, but let me just say I was never a big fan of it either. But the aniseed flavour in these is not overpowering, it just leaves a lovely glow in your mouth. It's not so scary. I should also mention that the cookies are of the hard variety, however, they are supposed to be that way but will also soften in time. You get the best of both worlds. They also store well for ages, so this recipe makes a large batch.


4 eggs
500g icing sugar
1 pinch salt
1 Tbsp kirsch (optional)
1 & 1/2 Tbsp whole aniseeds, or 1/2 tsp aniseed oil
550 - 600g flour


Use a food processor, or mixer, and combine the eggs and sugar until they are pale, fluffy and smooth, this will take about 5-10 minutes. This can also be done by hand with a whisk, but you get better results with a food processor (and it won't give you tennis elbow!).

Add the salt, kirsch and aniseed. Mix well. Knead the dough.

Take some of the dough and use your fingers to roll it out. You want to create a long cylindrical roll that is approx 1.5cm thick. Cut the roll into segments that are 5cm in length.

Make 3 slices halfway through each of them.
Bend them to create this shape:

Place them on a greased or lined oven tray, and continue the process until you have used all of the dough. Leave the trays of cookies to dry overnight (uncovered and at room temperature), or for up to 24 hours.

Bake at 140 Celsius, using the lowest oven rack, for about 20 minutes. You want the bottom to get slightly browned, but the top to stay pale.

Makes approx 95 cookies.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Honigherzli (Honey Heart Cookies)

I'm not such a fan of fruitcakes or Christmas puddings or fruit mince pies. In fact, I kinda loathe them. What I do love are Christmas cookies. So when it comes to my Christmas baking I love to whip out my mother's best cookie recipes.

Cinnamon, hazelnuts, almonds, clove powder, aniseed. These are the flavours that conjure up the smells of a yummy Christmas. I know I'm biased, but I reckon Swiss baking is amazing. So here is the recipe for the first batch of cookies we made this year. These would also look great in other shapes, but since the recipe name is "honig" (honey) "herzli" (little hearts), it seems weird to make any other shape. But feel free to rebel.

These cookies are yum even if you choose not to glaze them. They have a nice soft texture and are great for dunking. But the best thing about them is the lovely harmonious combination of honey, spices and lemon. Subtle, yet delicious. Leave some out for Santa, he's bound to love 'em.

Cookie Ingredients:

100g sugar
1 egg
25g margarine (or butter)
100g honey ( use thick/solid honey, not the runny stuff, for best results)
grated rind of half a lemon
1 pinch cinnamon
1 pinch clove powder
240g plain flour
50g ground almond
1 tsp baking powder

60g dark chocolate
2 Tbsp water
60g icing sugar


In a large bowl, beat the sugar and egg until it becomes fluffy and aerated.
Add the margarine and honey to a small pan, heat until they melt completely, then add to the large bowl and stir.

Mix in the lemon zest. cinnamon and clove powder.

Add the rest of the dry ingredients, add a little more flour if needed then lightly knead it, leave aside to rest for half an hour.

Roll out the dough, on a floured bench, until it is 5mm thick. Cut out the hearts.

Bake at 180 Celsius, for 10 minutes.

Let the cookies cool.

When they are cool, melt the chocolate and water together.

Sieve in the icing sugar. Stir well, then glaze the cookies.

Makes approx 29 cookies

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rösti (Potato Pancake) With Cheese And Bacon

I've just arrived home to my parents and will be staying with them over the summer. I thought while I'm here I should make the most of my mum's company and get some more cooking tips. Cooking together is a great way to bond with someone and I think it's a wonderful thing to pass on recipes, especially family recipes. As a first generation Kiwi  I  like the idea of keeping my Swiss heritage alive, even if it's merely through my cooking, so I aim to delve into it more.

One of the quintessential Swiss dishes that I remember my mum making throughout my life is rösti (pronounced "Rurshtie"). Most often we'll just eat it plain as a side dish, but when you amp it up with cheese and bacon and a side salad, it can pass off as a quick meal on its own. So I asked my mum if she would cook this with me, even though I already knew how to make it (having spent lots of time with her in the kitchen as a child) I still picked up heaps of useful tips, and since I'm so generous I shall now share them with you! It tastes just as great without the cheese and bacon, so feel free to leave that step out.


  • 1.2 kg potatoes (about 12 small-medium potatoes). Use a waxy potato, something like red potato is ideal.
  • Butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 250g middle bacon, chopped and fried.
  • 8 slices cheese, any mild table cheese of your choice, one that will melt nicely. In Switzerland my mum would use  Tilset/Tislter.


Boil the potatoes (whole with skin on) and allow to cool. For best results use boiled potatoes that are a few days old. Peel the potatoes and grate them.

Heat a couple tablespoons of butter in a moderately hot frying pan.
Add potatoes and sprinkle on the salt. Sauté for about 10 minutes until about half the mixture has gone golden brown. Stir it gently so as not to mash the potatoes. Turn the heat down to medium.

Press in the sides and top of the rösti to create a round flat pancake and add a couple more tablespoons of butter to the edges of the pan. Do not stir any more. Cook until the underside is all golden brown.

Place an inverted oven-proof plate on top of the rösti and flip the frypan over so the rösti is now on the plate (golden side up).

Sprinkle on the cooked bacon evenly. Lay the slices of cheese on top.

Place the plate under the grill in the oven until all the cheese has melted.

Cut into wedges and serve.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Strawberry & Rhubarb Cardamom Shortcake

If you are looking for a delicious summer treat then look no further. This recipe has become a total favourite of mine. The shortcake crust crumbles perfectly when you bite into it, but then it melts away so effortlessly into your mouth and the addition of the cardamom is definitely its secret weapon, did I also mention that the filling has the perfect balance between sweetness and tart?

Long story short: it's awesome. Whenever I've made it there have always been requests for more, so either the people I know are huge gluttons, or it really is a winner. Could be a combo of both. So from now on I think I may have to start doubling the recipe, though I may be tempted to keep a whole one for myself. It's yummy eaten hot or cold but I think I prefer it cold and even better eaten the day after. So this could be an ideal recipe for those times you want to create something a day ahead.

You might also want to note that the pastry is not soft like the American version of shortcake (which is more like a scone).

Btw if you don't like cardamom then just leave it out, it will still taste great. I did this when making it for my dad as his palate is not so adventurous, but since cardamom really makes this dish special , I think I will sneak some into the next batch that he has already requested; and if he doesn't like it then I might just have to eat it all myself. What a shame.
 edit: he loves the cardamom version. Thankfully he still shared some with me. Win!


125g butter
125g caster sugar
12 cardamom pods, seeds removed and ground (approx 1 tsp)
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
300g flour

2-3 medium sized stalks of rhubarb, chopped (no more than 300g)
3 Tbsp vanilla infused caster sugar,  just use standard caster sugar if you don't have it
1 punnet strawberries (250g)


Cream the butter, caster sugar and cardamom. Beat in the egg.

Add baking powder and flour, mix until just combined then knead until it forms a smooth ball of dough.

Place in fridge to rest for 30 minutes then remove from fridge so it will be at room temperature before rolling it.

Prepare the filling by heating the rhubarb in a fry-pan with the vanilla sugar, cook over a low heat until the rhubarb is almost cooked then add the strawberries, toss briefly, taste to see if it needs more sugar then set the pan aside to cool until lukewarm.

Line and/or grease a 23cm round or square tin.

Cut the pastry dough in half. Roll out one half and place in the bottom of the prepared tin.

Spread the filling evenly on top.

Roll out the other half and place on top. Press the edges of the 'lid' down.

Bake for 30 minutes at 180 Celsius.

Cool it in the tin. Dust with icing sugar.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Rava Idli (Steamed Semolina Patties) With Coconut Chutney

Breakfast foods for me used to consist of things like toast or porridge or the occasional Birchermüesli if I wasn't feeling lazy, either way, nothing very exciting. That was until I discovered the kinds of foods some Indians have for breakfast. It was a whole new world filled with tasty meals, more substantial than what I usually consumed.

My discovery really began when I stayed at my boyfriend's grandparents house in Mumbai. Every morning we'd have an array of foods, none of which I was familiar with, yet all of it being utterly delicious and hearty. I made several notes on the dishes and one day I will get around to attempting to recreate them, especially since I just recently found the notebook that I wrote them in. I should spring clean more often. Anyway, although I have yet to attempt her recipes I thought I'd start getting myself back into the habit of eating Indian-style breakfasts, so here is a quick and easy recipe for Rava Idli (which are a steamed semolina patty which you dunk into chutneys of different varieties). My boyfriend and I created a coconut chutney to go with it, similar to what his mum makes.

Idlis may look complicated but they are worth the small effort, we ended up making these for several days in row. Beats toast any day.

Btw you can find the idli moulds at Indian food supply stores, or online.

Rava Idli:

2 T oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 cup semolina
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup yoghurt

Heat the oil, add the mustard seeds and very briefly fry so that they all pop and crackle.

Add the seeds to a bowl along with the rest of the ingredients, stir until combined.

Let the mixture rest for 30 minutes.

Grease the idli moulds with oil and, if desired, place a cashew nut in each mould.

Place 1-2 Tbsp of batter into each mould.

Steam in a pressure cooker for 10 minutes. (Without the whistle).

Makes 20 regular sized idli.

Coconut Chutney:

3 heaped Tbsp grated coconut
1/4 onion, chopped
a marble-sized chunk of tamarind paste
1  tsp grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
small handful of curry leaves
salt, to taste

Grind (or process) the coconut, onion, tamarind and ginger along with a few tablespoons of water to create a paste.

Heat the oil in a small pan, when hot add the mustard seeds and curry leaves, fry briefly.

Add the coconut paste to the pan and fry for a few minutes.

Add 1/3 cup of water and bring  mixture to a simmer, cook for a couple minutes more.

Salt to taste.

Serves enough to eat with the 20 idli.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Gold Kiwifruit Muffins

If you watched a tv show called Shortland Street during the 90s, then you might remember the name "Lionel Skeggins"- though you may not want to admit it. Lionel worked at a cafe near the hospital, had a relationship with crazy-lady Mackenzie, and most memorably, disappeared mysteriously...dun dun dunnn. Shortland Street is one of those naff tv shows that are so predictable that you can tune in and out yet still not struggle to follow the storyline. But despite how naff it is, I will admit it, I watch it. So as soon as I spotted this Shortland Street themed cookbook I laughed out loud, which was rather embarrassing since I was at the public library. The tag line on the back of the book proclaims: "Straight from Lionel's trolley...Rocky Road Muffin, Pecan Muffins, [etc], these taste sensations have completely won over the staff and patients of Shortland Street. You will find them irresistible too." How cheesy is that? Anyhow I am easily amused so I gave the book a whirl. So here is my version of "Lionel's kiwifruit muffins"; I adapted the recipe and chose to use gold kiwifruit as I prefer their delicate custard-like flavour, added a lemon curd centre and I also switched the sugar from brown sugar to vanilla sugar so as to enhance the gold kiwifruit flavour. These are a huge hit at my place and I have made a few other recipes from the book, all delicious. So despite the kitsch outlook, the book actually has some substance...unlike the programme.

  • 50g butter
  • 200ml milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup chopped gold kiwifruit
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup vanilla sugar (caster sugar infused with vanilla) or regular caster sugar
  • lemon curd for optional filling


Melt the butter, then mix it into the milk and eggs.
Add the remaining ingredients. Fold briefly, until just combined.
Spoon half the mixture into 12 greased or lined muffin pans. Place a teaspoon dollop of lemon curd onto each, then spoon remaining muffin mixture on top.
Bake at 200 Celsius for 20-25 minutes.

- recipe adapted from "Lionel's Muffins" (recipes developed by Vicki Hoffmann)