Summer in Switzerland

Switzerland is largely viewed as a winter destination, with the crisp cold climate perfect for skiing and an après-ski hot chocolate made with silky melt-in-the-mouth chocolate. Or even a cheeky Glühwein. Now this isn’t a bad thing for skiing fanatics or those with a sweet tooth but it’s worth holidaying in (what I like to call) Swissieland in the summer as well.

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I recently visited a traditional little town in Switzerland not too far from Zurich, on a family trip. I went with rather low expectations, as the weather was terrible last year. I mean I’m talking thunderstorms every day. But this year the scorching sun paid us a daily visit leading to a bit of sunburn (oops) and plenty of thirst for ice cold drinks.

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Panorama view of the unbelievable landscape

I began the holiday with a fairly narrow outlook that there was nothing to do in Switzerland during those long summer holidays. Those who know me know that I hate being wrong but I have to admit that there are countless activities available to adventurers and culture-seekers alike. Here are a few of my favourites:

  • Tobogganing, essentially the summer equivalent of sledging, takes you back to your childhood and is brilliant for families
  • Cycling and scootering alongside the scenic rivers and forests is a must-do
  • For the water-babies amongst you, renting canoes or pedaloes is perfect for taking in the spectacular views
  • I also noticed loads of paragliders while I was on holiday though that’s more suited to the adrenaline-junkies 

Granted I’m not that sporty but even I enjoy a summer hike. What’s not to love about the smell of fresh grass (sorry hay fever sufferers) and the views, which are as picture-perfect as a studio backdrop. It gets even better when it’s your dog that takes you for a walk, fascinated by the other four-legged creatures and their farm noises; the goats in particular caught my dog’s attention.

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You get to experience the picturesque surroundings even more while dining at the family-run traditional chalet, otherwise known as a Gasthaus, at the end of the tough hike. Boy do you appreciate the hearty menu after what feels like the climb of the century. Swiss cuisine might be simple and carby but what’s better to satisfy cravings after a spurt of exercise.

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Hike up a waterfall

While the food is on the salty side, it’s pretty crucial given that you sweat quite a bit while out and about in the 30 degree Celsius heat.

Eugh sorry to mention the word sweat in a food blog. Won’t happen again.

I always opt for the national dish Rösti, a potato cake made from grated spuds, which are then fried or roasted in the oven. You could compare them to latkes or even the conventionally British hash browns. They even feature in Marks and Spencer, though you need to visit Switzerland for the real deal. The dish is great plain and simple but it can be topped with anything the customer desires; I’ve seen cheese, bacon and even a fried egg as potential garnishes. Others have told me that they have had the odd combination of Rösti with apple sauce.

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Unfortunately, Switzerland isn’t the cheapest of countries when it comes to eating out but the produce in the supermarkets is so fresh that cooking at home is just as good.

So next time you’re planning a summer holiday, don’t rule out Swissieland. And if I haven’t convinced you enough, remember that they created Lindt chocolate. I mean what more could you want.

Cod Chowder my way

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Now that you’re all acquainted with my Oven Roasted Cod in Parma Ham recipe, here’s a slight variation on it.

I decided to be adventurous one evening and added it to a heartwarming veggie soup. Now you can get away with cooking this fish dish two nights in a row without being perceived as boring or lazy!


Ingredients (for the Veggie soup)IMG_2305

1 Leek

1 Small Romanesco Broccoli

400g tin of black-eyed beans

Handful of frozen peas

1 1/2 Knorr Vegetable Stock cubes

Paprika, Basil, Oregano


Sauté the leek and broccoli in just enough oil to coat them and season with pepper, paprika, basil and oregano. There’s no need to add salt at this point because the stock cube is salty enough and you can always add extra at the end if you want.

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Dissolve the stock cubes in 675 ml of water and add to the leek and broccoli in the pan.  Throw the peas and black eyed beans in as well.

Simmer for around 15 minutes until the veggies are cooked. Meanwhile cook the Cod according to the Oven Roasted Cod in Parma Ham recipe.

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Once cooked, break up the Cod fillets and add them to the soup. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with some crusty bread.

The Infinity Dreams Award

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Thank you Red Velvet Snow for this nomination! I’m really happy to take part in this and enjoyed reading your responses.

Here are the rules:

Thank and follow the blog that nominated you

Tell us 11 facts about yourself

Answer the questions that were set for you

Nominate 11 bloggers and set questions for them

So 11 facts about me, myself and I

  1. I’m currently a student at University but love cooking on the side of my studies
  2. I have a Golden Retriever puppy who I adore and talk about endlessly
  3. I speak French and a bit of Spanish
  4. I’m not a fan of coconut (apart from in curries)
  5. I used to live in France and so a lot of my recipes are influenced by Mediterranean and Provençal cuisine
  6. One of my favourite movies is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. If you haven’t seen it then go buy it asap
  7. I’m a city girl through and through
  8. My favourite cocktail is a Peach Bellini
  9. I’m not into sciences, more of a humanities gal
  10. I’m interested in journalism
  11. I procrastinate on BuzzFeed far too much…

And now to answer the questions I was asked:

When did you start blogging, and what got you started?

I started blogging this summer because I wanted to expand my Spill The Beans Instagram page and be able to write more about the recipes I had created and restaurants I’ve visited.

What is your favourite vacation spot?

It’s got to be the South of France, near Nice, because I spent a chunk of my childhood there and have great memories from the Côte d’Azur. The art galleries are beautiful, especially the Fondation Maeght in St Paul de Vence and the weather is gorgeous to say the least.

What is your favourite meal?

Oooh this is difficult. My favourite meal changes quite often but nothing beats the burger at Burger & Lobster.

If you had to trade places with one person for a day, who would it be?

I would love to trade places with one of the people who’s in charge of Google Doodle, the illustrations that change the ‘Google’ logo for a specific event.

What do you do with your free time?

I enjoy going out with friends and touring London in sunny weather.

What inspired your blog name?

I wanted to share the secrets of my recipes and favourite foodie places so I thought that ‘Spill The Beans’ was a catchy and tongue n cheek way of describing my blog.

What period in time would you like to live in?

I think it would have to be the 1920s, mainly because I love the book The Great Gatsby and always thought it would be cool to attend one of his extravagant parties and dance the Charleston.

What are three words that describe you?

Smiley, unintentionally-funny and organised.

If you could live in any book, TV, or movie – which one would it be?

Probably an obvious one but I’d choose Harry Potter. It just seems like it would be loads of fun (minus Voldemort). It’s incredible how J K Rowling has created a whole world out of her writing.

Do you have a bucket list? If so, what are the first 5 things on it?

I didn’t really have one but this made me think about a few things that I’d love to do:

  1. Travel to every country
  2. Write for a magazine or newspaper
  3. Speak 5 languages

What’s your favourite item of clothing in your closet at the moment?

Black culotte shorts with a white flower pattern

And here are the bloggers I nominate:

Alexcrumb

For The Love Of The South

Eat Like A Girl

Rachel Eats

The London Whistler

Cooking without limits

Caity’s Kitchen

This was dinner

Cookin’ and shootin’

Table twenty eight

The Unemployment Diaries

Don’t worry if you don’t want to participate in the nomination, as Red Velvet Snow said, it’s just an appreciation of your blog! Here are the questions I have for you guys to answer if you fancy doing so:

  1. Why did you decide to start a blog?
  2. What’s your favourite movie and why?
  3. Who’s your favourite chef?
  4. What’s your dream job?
  5. Favourite animal?
  6. If you could time-travel only once, would you go into the future or the past?
  7. What’s your favourite season and why?
  8. What TV show can you binge-watch?
  9. Popcorn – salty or sweet?
  10. What’s your favourite city?
  11. What is the book you could read again and again?

Oven Roasted Cod in Parma Ham

I’ve decided to share with you one of my most cherished recipes. There’s no going wrong with this one and it’s perfect for Fish Friday.  Even us meat lovers would be happy to be presented with this easy and super healthy meal.

I’ve only put the ingredients for 2 people because it’s me and my mum’s go-to dish when the rest of the family are out but it can be easily doubled or even halved if you only need to serve yourself.

If you’re more in the mood for a heartwarming soup, check out my Cod Chowder which uses this recipe!

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Before being oven-cooked

Ingredients

2 Fillets of Cod (or similar white fish)

2 Slices of Parma Ham

2 Vines of Cherry Tomatoes

Lemon Juice

Paprika


  • Heat the oven to 170 degrees celsius (fan oven) and heat a lightly greased tin
  • Place the cod fillets in a bowl and squeeze a bit of lemon juice on each one. Sprinkle some paprika over the fillets and season with black pepper. I don’t usually add salt to the fish because the parma ham is salty enough.
  • Wrap each fillet in a slice of parma ham widthways and place in the heated tin
  • Lastly, place two vines of cherry tomatoes on either side of the fillets and put in the oven for 14-16 mins
  • Serve with roasted baby potatoes or rice

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    This is a photo from when I had a dinner party for six people. Parsley makes a really nice garnish!

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After being in the oven

Hola Habanera (5 Stars)

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Habanera is a lively tequila and taco bar in SheBu, the locals’ nickname for the up and coming Shepherds Bush. From its artistic murals to the exposed brick walls, Habanera seems like it’s in the middle of the East End but thankfully, this gem is in the heart of West London. On the bustling Uxbridge Road sits a rustic restaurant whose colourful façade draws you right in.

I decided to give Habanera a go on a sunny summer evening, still baking after the 29 degree weather during the day. Everyone was out in London; the carnival atmosphere had come early.

I was taking a friend out for a birthday treat after months of having been apart. Usually, I’d choose to eat at one of my trusted favourites. This time, however, I thought I’d try something new and so took the risk of dining at Habanera despite never having been before.

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And the risk paid off! Not only was it a great evening filled with delicately crafted cocktails, several plates of truly authentic Mexican cuisine and great service from the staff but it has also joined my coveted list of favourite restaurants.

The place was buzzing. Good thing I booked too – Obviously I’m not the only one who rants and raves about this eatery. It is amazingly well established given that it has only been open for just over a year. It comes as no surprise that Habanera was awarded Mexican Restaurant of the year by the 2015 LUKAS Latin UK awards.

We had a table towards the back of the restaurant but the skylight allowed us to enjoy the rare English sunshine while dining on Central American food. I was even beginning to forget that I was in Shepherds Bush. Or maybe this was the tequila talking…


On to the Food & Drink

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Raspberry and White Peach Bellini

Blackened Salmon Salad

Blackened Salmon Salad

Habanera’s cocktails are awesome. It’s nice to see a restaurant play around with classics and create a fusion of flavours. For birthday drinks, we each ordered a Raspberry and White Peach Bellini and a Classic Margarita. The Bellini was a delicious aperitif while the fiery Margarita, lined with chilli salt, was a perfect pairing to the spicy dishes.

Habanera’s menu is inventive, varied and ridiculously yummy so instead of ordering a main meal each, get a few different plates and share them tapas-style. We went for two kinds of soft corn tacos, which are presented beautifully on a wavy plate, making them a delight for the eye as well as the tummy. Chicken Tinga was my favourite, with a dash of avocado and sour cream complimenting the shredded chicken, while the caramelised onion in the Butternut Squash tacos made them worth remembering.

We loved the sound of the Blackened Salmon Salad and were not disappointed. The charred salmon was perfectly cooked and flaked on a bed of juicy avocado, leaves and crunchy corn. And don’t miss out on the Sweet Potato Fries, which were sweet, satisfying, and a decent portion at that.

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Butternut Squash Tacos on the left and Chicken Tinga on the right

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Sweet Potato Fries

Whether you fancy a quick bite or a pre-concert dinner (Bush Hall is only a few doors down and Shepherds Bush Empire is down the road), Habanera is a must-visit. The team at Habanera also own The Hummingbird Café which I hope to visit soon! I’ll keep you all posted 🙂

£50 for 2 people including service and drinks

280 Uxbridge Road, W12 7JA.

Oven Baked Salmon with Roasted Vegetables

Salmon is one of the tastiest fish on the market. There are so many different ways to approach this oily fish, from serving it as sashimi to wrapping it in puff pastry for an ‘en croûte’, but today I’ll be showing you how to oven bake some salmon fillets for a healthy night in. It’s a pretty simple recipe but works wonders for a rumbling tummy.


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Here’s what you’ll be needing for two people, with veggie leftovers:

2 skinless and boneless salmon fillets

2 large cloves of garlic, crushed

A generous handful of chopped fresh parsley

3 medium onions

2 courgettes cut into batons

A handful of cherry tomatoes

Half a punnet of chestnut mushrooms

Olive oil

2 Uncle Ben’s boil in the bag long grain rice

Dried rosemary, paprika and oregano

Lemon juice


  • Heat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius (200 for a fan oven) and heat an oiled roasting dish.
  • It’s worth marinating the salmon for about 30 mins before cooking it so that it gets a chance to soak up the delicious flavours of lemon and paprika. Make sure you season it to taste as well.
  • Meanwhile wash and prepare the vegetables and set them aside so they are ready to be tossed into the oven. I usually leave the mushrooms whole but cut the onions into chunky quarters or eighths.
  • Once the dish is good and hot, throw the veg in and sprinkle with dried rosemary, paprika and some oregano. Mix all the vegetables together so they are all coated in the herbs and oil and put them in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until they look like they are getting crispy.IMG_2138
  • After 25 minutes, take the vegetables out and make space in the centre for the salmon fillets. Turn the heat down to 180 degrees and add the salmon for an extra 10 minutes. Remember the salmon still cooks when it’s out of the oven. I like my salmon soft and flaky but if you prefer it a little more well-done, then leave it in the oven for a few extra minutes. At the same time, put the rice on.

Alternatively, you can cook the salmon in a separate dish and serve it with the veggies, but I prefer only having one dish to wash up. Also the salmon takes on some of the flavours of the herby vegetables.

Top tip: If you don’t fancy rice, you can throw some baby potatoes in with the vegetables so it really is a one-pot dinner. Keep in mind that the potatoes will need a little longer cooking time!

Masterchef leads me to Lakeland

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Did any of you watch the latest season of Celebrity MasterChef? If you didn’t get the chance, it’s worth catching the last two episodes on BBCiPlayer.

I don’t usually watch the celebrity version but this season has been pretty inspiring, not to mention mouth-watering. They make it look so easy. You almost forget that such intricate and delicious-looking dishes have been created under time constraints. Luckily for me, I’m not timed when making dinner chez moi. Otherwise there would be a lot of stress and flapping about. Before you ask me who my favourite chef was, I actually loved the final four pretty equally though Rylan had to be the most entertaining. He seemed so genuine and always pushed himself to the limit (remember his trio of lavender?)

Sadly, even with 3D TV’s, we can’t actually indulge in the lip-smacking soufflés and melt-in-the-mouth risottos so the presentation of the dishes is key for us audience members. Yeah I know the saying is “Don’t judge a book by its cover” but when it comes to food, it’s all the more impressive when it resembles art.

To be fair, they do have access to countless utensils like those handy cooking rings, which always make the presentation perfect. You know the ones that kind of look like cookie cutters but are used instead to create savoury food towers. I was, of course, compelled to buy myself some of the kitchen gadgets featured in the program.

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So today I paid a visit to Lakeland, the dream shop for chefs and bakers alike. The shop has everything you could possibly need (or simply want) in the realm of kitchenware. I wish I could have bought the whole store but I had to limit myself to just a few essential purchases.I walked away with four large cooking rings, a toastamesh (perfect for students who want to make toasties quickly and cheaply without a sandwich maker) and eight traditional floral ice cream cups (did I mention I have an ice cream maker?) Oh and a long wish list.

Okay maybe not so essential… 

 

Keep following Spill The Beans to see these purchases in action!

Hello fellow students

So let’s be honest. Students aren’t exactly the wealthiest kids on the block and food can be preeeetty pricey…Not to mention time-consuming!

But this doesn’t mean that you have to live off crisps and pot noodle. I’ll be posting advice and easy recipes for all the students out there. Take it from me, food is a great friend when you have deadlines and exams.

Cod à la tapenade

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For those of you who have been loyally following me on Instagram, you might remember this picture I posted a while ago of Cod à la tapenade. Sorry for the delay in posting the recipe but it is well worth the wait and quite appropriate for meat free monday!

Having grown up in the south of France, I love a bit of Provençal cooking and try my best to recreate flavours that I have experienced from a young age. So here goes with my take on Tapenade!

Tapenade has got to be one of the tastiest toppings to a fresh fillet of fish and it is always more special when it’s homemade. The great thing is that you can make quite a large batch and then refrigerate the extra and save it for another day. It’s particularly nice when paired with sliced french baguette or sourdough. I also love using it as a filling for chicken breasts so try that out when you get the chance.

Alongside my tapenade-crusted cod, I usually cook spicy paprika roasted potatoes. You might be wondering where the paprika spice comes into French cooking when it’s more of a Spanish flavour? Well it’s got to be one of my favourite spices and zut alors does it taste good when sprinkled on potatoes!

Top tip: If you aren’t a fan of paprika (why on earth not?), don’t worry! Just replace the paprika with parsley butter which is equally delicious.

Voilà. To recreate this dish délicieux, follow the recipe below!


Tapenade:

50g pitted black olives

3 sundried tomatoes

2 cloves of garlic

A handful of basil leaves

Olive oil

Cod and Potatoes:

½ kilo fillet of Cod

A handful of dried breadcrumbs

½ kilo potatoes

A generous helping of paprika


Heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius (fan oven) and prepare the cod. After washing and patting the cod with paper towel, make fairly deep incisions in the fillet. These will later be stuffed with the homemade tapenade to infuse the cod with the delicious flavour of the olives.

Put all the ingredients for the tapenade in a blender and blend for a short while, making sure that it doesn’t reach the consistency of a paste. The tapenade is more striking when you get chunks of the ingredients. Spoon the tapenade into the incisions in the cod fillet and drizzle some olive oil over before pouring the breadcrumbs onto the fillet.

Meanwhile, parboil the potatoes for ten minutes and drain them. Chop each of the potatoes in half so they can get crispy in the oven. Mix olive oil and paprika in a preheated dish and coat the potatoes in the mixture. Season the potatoes and put in the oven for 25-30 minutes on the top shelf. After 5 minutes of cooking time, put the cod in the oven and set a timer for 20 minutes.

In the last 5 minutes of cooking time, boil some broccoli for some greenery and display as shown in the photo above. Et voilà, c’est parfait!

Welcome to Spill The Beans

Well hello everyone!

Hopefully some of you are already familiar with my Instagram page @spillthebeansfood where I’ve posted my own recipes, praised those by renowned chefs and travelled around the world trying the best foodie and travel destinations.

Keep up to date with this site where I’ll SPILL THE BEANS on my new finds!

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