Looking for the rays of light in this cloud-covered town

Swiss Basler Leckerli Cookies — January 7, 2018

Swiss Basler Leckerli Cookies



  • 225 g honey (16 ounces)
  • 150 g sugar (10.5 ounces)
  • 3⁄4 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 pinch clove powder
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 50 g ground candied orange peel
  • 50 g ground candied lemon peel
  • 100 g ground almonds
  • zest of lemon grind
  • 50 ml kirsch (0.2 cup)
  • 300 g flour
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 75 g confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1⁄2 to 2 1⁄2 tablespoons kirsch or water


  1. Put honey, sugar, cinnamon, clove powder and nut meg in a pan, heat up slowly, then remove from stove.
  2. Add candied orange peel, candied lemon peel, almonds and grind skin of lemon, stir until mixed evenly.
  3. Add kirsch, flour and baking powder, knead on a table to form a soft dough.
  4. While the dough is still warm, roll it out on the back of a greased baking sheet approximately 5 mm (0.2 inches) thick.
  5. Let it rest for about 5 to 6 hours or over night in a dry place.
  6. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes in the center of the pre-heated oven at 430°F(220°C).
  7. Mix confectioner’s sugar and kirsch or water, frost dough immediately.
  8. Cut off stale edges.
  9. Cut dough in small pieces (5 x 3 cm, 2 x 1.5 inches), take them off the baking sheets and let them cool.
Buffalo Wings — September 18, 2017

Buffalo Wings

There are certain foods of home you simply learn to do without when living as an expat. Bagels, New York-style pizza, Cheetos, many ethnic-inspired cuisines. I cannot remember the last time I ate buffalo wings. It’s not about the kind of gross fried chicken wings that have more skin than meat; no, buffalo wings have always been about the awesome hot sauce marinade. Like a light bulb turning on above my head, it recently occurred to me that I most likely have all the necessary ingredients to make the sauce and should give it a try.

Here is the recipe I found in All Recipes:

Restaurant-Style Buffalo Chicken Wings


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 chicken wings
oil for deep frying
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup hot sauce
1 dash ground black pepper


  1. In a small bowl mix together flour, paprika, cayenne pepper and salt. Place chicken wings in a large nonporous glass bowl and evenly coat with sprinkle flour mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 60 to 90 minutes.
  2. Heat enough oil to cover wings entirely, an inch or so deep, in a deep fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Combine butter, hot sauce, pepper and garlic powder in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir together until butter is melted and mixture is well blended. Remove from heat.
  3. Fry coated wings in hot oil for 10 to 15 minutes, or until parts of wings begin to turn brown. Remove from heat, place wings in serving bowl, add hot sauce mixture and stir together. Serve.

From All Recipes, Restaurant-Style Buffalo Chicken Wings,

Now for my caveats.

Perhaps it goes without saying but in case it does, my tiny European kitchen does not have a deep frier. Nor do I have aspirations to buy one. I will say that the absolute best chicken wings I ever had were made with a stove top frying pan. I ordered them at a random pizzeria in West Orange, New Jersey, and watched closely as they were prepared. Simple and impressive. They were the best I ever tasted by a distance.

My other caveat is that I really have no intention of buying and preparing chicken wings. I realize the recipe likely depends on the chicken skin for both the marinade and the crispiness, but I do not care. I do not like the texture of chicken wings, so my experiement will be performed on skinless chicken breast. I haven’t made them yet, but I’m optimistic.


Handmade “Jigsaw” Puzzle — September 1, 2017
Civics Lesson — February 28, 2017

Civics Lesson

What the Democratic Party Could Learn From Its Overseas Footsoldiers

by Adam Eichen and Bob Vallier. August 3, 2016

Votes from Democrats Abroad often make the critical difference in close contests — and demonstrate that every vote counts.

"What the Democratic Party Could Learn From Its Overseas Footsoldiers" shared by @moyersandcompany on Facebook, Aug. 4 2016
“What the Democratic Party Could Learn From Its Overseas Footsoldiers” shared by @moyersandcompany on Facebook, Aug. 4 2016


Salmon Florentine — July 5, 2016

Salmon Florentine

Unfortunately, I’m not sure where this recipe came from, Cooking Light? maybe. Undoubtably when I wanted to find new ways to enjoy the health benefits of salmon. This recipe is surprisingly easy to make.


2 packages (10 oz each) frozen spinach, thawed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup minced shallots
2 teaspoons minced garlic
5 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta
4 skinless salmon fillets (6 oz each), rinsed and patted dry


Heat oven to 350°.

Squeeze spinach of all excess liquid. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots; cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute more. Add spinach, tomatoes, salt, pepper flakes and pepper; cook, stirring, 2 minutes more. Remove from heat; let cool about 15 minutes. Add ricotta; stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Pack about 1/2 cup spinach mixture on top of each fillet, matching the shape of the fillet.

Place fillets on a rimmed baking sheet or in a glass baking dish; bake until cooked through, 15 minutes.

  • 334 calories per serving
  • 14 g fat (3 g saturated)
  • 11 g carbs
  • 4 g fiber
  • 43 g protein
Tahini and Hummus — May 7, 2016

Tahini and Hummus

I have always enjoyed making hummus from the very first time I tried it. Hummus is one of those wonderful sides that can be good, great, or amazing based on the balance of ingredients. So why not take control of the effort and make it at home. Tahini, on the other hand, is a mess of sesame seeds that seems more cost effective and efficient to serve from a jar. Well, try making it and judge for yourself.



  • 2 cups sesame seeds
  • 1/3 C olive oil


Heat a heavy, wide-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add sesame seeds and toast lightly for about 2 minutes, shaking the pan so they toast evenly: they are done as soon as they start to brown. Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely.

Put the toasted sesame seeds in a food processor and drizzle in the olive oil. Pulse for 3 to 5 minutes, or until it’s as smooth as you can get it. Add a little more olive oil if necessary.

Remove from food processor and store in the refrigerator.



  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas drained
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 Tablespoons virgin olive oil


Place all ingredients in your food processor and puree to desired consistency. Add a little purified water for a creamy consistency. Adjust flavor to your taste. Try adding a half teaspoon cumin for a more Middle Eastern variety.

Serves 6 to 8 as a dip or sandwich spread.

Hot Artichoke-Spinach Dip — March 25, 2016

Hot Artichoke-Spinach Dip

Recipe from the Food Network


Kosher salt
1 10-ounce bag baby spinach
1 cup packed fresh basil
3/4 cup canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
6 ounces Neufchatel cream cheese
1 clove garlic, smashed
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained, squeezed dry and finely chopped
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 or 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
Baked chips, for serving


Preheat the oven to 450. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and prepare a bowl of ice water. Stir the spinach and basil into the boiling water and cook until bright green, about 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge in the ice water. Drain and squeeze dry, then roughly chop.

Puree the beans, cream cheese, garlic and chicken broth in a food processor until smooth, scraping the sides as needed. Transfer to a medium bowl and fold in the spinach and basil, artichokes, parmesan and 1/2 cup mozzarella. Add the cayenne, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste.

Mist a deep 1-quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Spread the dip mixture in the dish and top with the remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella. Bake until golden and bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm with baked chips.

Per serving (1/4 cup): Calories 100; Fat 5 g (Saturated 3 g); Cholesterol 19 mg; Sodium 338 mg; Carbohydrate 7 g; Fiber 2 g; Protein 6 g

Kefta — February 13, 2016


Thinking back, I cannot recall what I was looking for when I happened upon this recipe as I had never heard of kefta, nor do I cook with beef or lamb often, if at all. How fortunate, as this dish is both easy to make and tasty. If you, like me, never heard of kefta, the recipe as published gave this description:

Kefta, seasoned ground meat, is one of Morocco’s most popular street foods. Traditionally, kefta is washed down with a glass of sweet mint tea.


  • 8 ounces ground beef, 90%-lean or leaner
  • 8 ounces ground lamb
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 8 pitted green olives
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Harissa, for serving


Place beef, lamb and lemon juice in a large bowl. Gently combine until incorporated. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Transfer the meat to a colander and press to squeeze out excess moisture. Place onion, garlic and olives in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add to the marinated meat along with oil, cilantro, parsley, 1 tablespoon cumin, salt and pepper. Gently combine until evenly incorporated.

Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a wire rack on it. Using about 3 tablespoons of the meat mixture for each, form 12 thin patties, about 2 1/2 inches wide and 1/4 inch thick. Place on the wire rack. Broil the patties until brown and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve with additional cumin and harissa, if desired.


Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes (includes marinating time).

Makes 4 servings, about 3 kefta each. Nutritional information per serving: 354 calories; 25 g fat (7 g sat, 14 g mono); 90 mg cholesterol; 6 g carbohydrates; 26 g protein; 1 g fiber; 607 mg sodium; 385 mg potassium.

from “Kefta,” Eating Well.

Radish Greens Soup — December 19, 2015

Radish Greens Soup

My mother-in-law once made this soup for us. Well, not this soup per se. She knows how much we like soups so sometimes she gets creative. She asked us if we could guess the vegetable. We couldn’t. But the dish was such a winner that when we got home that night I hit the web searching for radish soup. There were quite a few, and as is typical for me, I believe I took this recipe because of its relative simplicity. I do not, however, remember where it was published.

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 potatoes, medium sized
1 onion
1 quart water or chicken broth
2 quarts radish greens – the tops from 2 bunches (needn’t be exact)
1 lemon
salt and pepper

metric conversion: 1 quart is a bit more than 1 liter  more...

Rinse greens, removing any brown or damaged areas. Coarsely chop potatoes and onion. Remove the zest (yellow part only) from the lemon, then juice the lemon.

In a large pot, heat oil and butter. Add onion and potatoes, cook for about 5 minutes. Add water or broth, the radish tops and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook until potatoes are soft and greens are wilted, about 10 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and zest. Purée. Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot or cold.

Garnish, if desired, with a few thin slices of radish.

Serving Size: 1 cup
Servings: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Imperial to Metric, An Expats Guide to Cooking Measurements — December 10, 2015

Imperial to Metric, An Expats Guide to Cooking Measurements

It’s the oldest story. You move to Europe imagining a new life of cobblestone streets, cars with size limits, quiet Sunday strolls, impassioned café discussions, timeless architecture, and fine foods. With it will come a change in lifestyle that includes running to the morning market for fresh bread and local produce, buying only what you need, and yes that includes that truffle oil, and of course, cooking at home.

You planned ahead too. You brought all the favorite recipes you’ve been carrying around with you for years, just waiting for a real kitchen to cook real food. And only after you’ve landed and set up home do you realize that all your recipes follow the imperial system of weight & measures, and Europe does not. Continue reading

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