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Easter recipe: Swiss Mini Osterfladen

Easter begins on Friday and for many of us it’s set to be a most unusual Easter.

Easter recipe: Swiss Mini Osterfladen
Photo: Helvetic Kitchen

For anyone who wants to use the lockdown time for something tasty and constructive, here’s a great recipe for a traditional Swiss Easter treat.  

Mini Osterfladen have been made in Switzerland since the 19th century. 

There are several different varieties, but the recipe for the one we’ve gone with comes from our friend Andie at Helvetic Kitchen, a great source for Swiss recipes of all varieties. 

The recipes are all in English and cover everything from traditional cakes to the world-famous Rösti – meaning anyone can emerge from this coronavirus lockdown as a master of Swiss cuisine. 

The link to the recipe can be found here along with several pictures of how the process should look. 

Photo: Helvetic Kitchen

Ingredients 

Dough

200g flour

2 tbsp sugar

pinch salt 

zest of half a lemon 

80g butter

125ml water

Filling

400 ml milk 

1 tbsp vanilla paste or extract 

pinch salt 

80g short grain (risotto) rice 

zest of half a lemon 

3 tbsp sugar 

1 tbsp butter 

100g raisins, plumped in tea or spirits 

2 eggs apricot jam

icing sugar

Pastry

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest. 

Add the cold butter in pieces and rub into the flour mixture with your fingers until you have small flakes. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the water. Mix this gently until a dough forms. Try not to overwork the dough or it will become tough.

Press the dough into a disc, wrap with plastic, and let cool in the fridge for about an hour. Roll out your dough and line a muffin tin. Keep the tin in the freezer until you have the filling ready.

Photo: Helvetic Kitchen

Filling

In a medium sized pot, bring the milk, vanilla, and salt to a boil. Add the rice and stir well. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring from time to time until the mixture thickens and the rice is soft. 

It’s best to taste the rice to make sure it’s cooked through. If the mixture is starting to look a little dry but the rice isn’t fully cooked yet, just add a splash of milk. 

Once the rice is cooked, take it off the heat and stir in the lemon zest, butter, sugar, and raisins. Let cool for at least 10 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F / gas mark 4. Using a separate bowl and an electric mixer, whip the egg whites until they are stiff. 

Once the rice mixture has cooled, mix in the yolks, then gently fold in the whites. 

Fill each tart with about a tbsp of apricot jam, then add the filling. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are lightly browned and the bottoms are baked through. Dust with icing sugar.

Bunnies (as told by Andie)

Photo: Helvetic Kitchen

I rolled out some extra dough and cut out the ears freehand. 

I baked them for about 8 minutes (until they were slightly golden), then once the tarts were out of the oven I stuck them in. 

I used melted chocolate to make their bunny faces.

 

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FOOD & DRINK

You are not Swiss until you try these seven weird foods

Switzerland is not exactly known for innovative cuisine but for hearty and, some say, uninspiring food. But can some of the country’s dishes be qualified as ‘weird’?

You are not Swiss until you try these seven weird foods

Unlike its neighbours France and Italy, Switzerland’s culinary tradition is relatively plain.

After all, how many foreigners would actually say “I am going to Switzerland for the food”?

Still, don’t rule out some surprises on the culinary front. Whether you consider these dishes as ‘weird’ or just very unappetising depends mostly on how adventurous you are and how solid your stomach is.

So let’s begin.

The Berner Zungenwurst (Bernese tongue sausage)

Some of the wackiest foods have a regional flavour — literally and figuratively.

One of them is a traditional “tongue sausage” from Bern.

A cookbook from 1835 states that two or three pig tongues should be used as ingredients, along with meat and blood from pork and beef. What’s not to like?

These days, however, the tongue has been phased out, but the name remains. Contemporary cookbooks call for Zungenwurst to be made from pork and beef meat, along with crackling and spices. 

In 2019, Zugenwurst achieves EU protected status, which prevents imitators from reproducing the sausage, unless they do so under a different name.

If you can get over its appearance, you might actually enjoy it.

Photo: Photo: Tamorlan, CC BY-SA 2.5/.

READ MORE: Three things to know about Switzerland’s protected ‘blood tongue sausage’

Saucisse de choux

West of Bern, in Vaud, another sausage reigns: the so-called “cabbage sausage”.

No tongue or blood here; this traditional smoked sausage is made from white cabbage, pork and bacon, and eaten boiled with potatoes and leeks — another typical Vaud dish called “papet”.

According to legend, the origin of this sausage dates back to the year 879, when the family of the Emperor of Germany stayed in the Vaud town of Orbe for several weeks.

As the meat ran out, locals mixed cabbage with the sausage meat to fill the stuffing. The smoking stage appeared in the Middle Ages, when it was realised that by smoking the meat, it could be kept longer.

Cenovis

Unless you grew up eating Marmite in the UK or Vegemite in Australia, it may take you a whIle to develop your taste buds to accept, and actually like, Cenovis —  the dark brown paste made from yeast extract.

This very salty paste is spread on a slice of buttered bread.

READ MORE: Six common myths about Swiss food you need to stop believing

How did this idea originate in the first place?

According to the company website, “it was in the mind of a visionary brewer from the Rheinfelden region in the canton of Basel-Country that the idea of using the precious yeasts from the production of beer germinated”.

Spiny thistle

If you think this plant is unfit for human consumption, Genevans will disagree with you.

That’s because cardon épineux genevois is not only a local specialty, but it is also  the first vegetable to be included in the official Swiss registry of origin.

It can be eaten, for example, as a gratin — grilled with (Swiss) cheese on top — to accompany meat or fish.

First consumed around Europe in the 16th century where it was widely cultivated, these days canton of Geneva is the only place that still produces thorned thistle.

Genevans make a dish out of this plant. Photo by Pixabay

READ MORE: Ten varieties of cheese you should be able to identify if you live in Switzerland

Rivella

That Switzerland has its own beverage is not in itself unusual (and certainly not weird) — after all, it does have plenty of cheese and chocolate of its own.

What is slightly odd, however, is that this carbonated drink is made from milk whey.

Perhaps it is because Swiss cows produce too much milk and this surplus had to be used somehow — we don’t know. What we do know is that in 1950 two men, Roberth Barth and the biologist Hans Süsli, got together in Zurich and used a recipe initially conceived to produce a whey beer to create a soft drink that tastes a bit like a mixture of ginger ale and bubble tea.

As is the case with Cenovis, you probably have to train your taste buds (or trick them) to like it.

Chestnut paste tarts

To the untrained eye, these little tarts, called vemicelles, look like worms piled on top.

In fact, in Latin “vermiculi” actually means “worms”. But if you can get past the appearance and the name, these pastries are actually quite delicious.

And making them from scratch (rather than buying them ready made) is almost an art form: traditional recipe calls for about half a kilo of chestnuts.

An incision has to be made in each chestnut before boiling. Then, chestnuts should be shelled, simmered with milk and sugar before being pressed through a special machine to create the long “worms” of chestnut paste.

Photo by Robert Patti on Unsplash

Last but not least…cholera!

OK, what is actually weird about this dish is not its content  but the truly off-putting name.

There is a reason for that: this dish was invented during the cholera outbreak in the 1830s when people were scared to leave their homes and made a pie with whatever leftovers they had on hand: potatoes, onion, apples, bacon, leek and cheese.

As far as we know, this is the only food still in existence that was created out of necessity during a health crisis. To this day, there is no dish called Covid (although all of you budding chefs out there may see that as a challenge). 

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