Custom-Made Swiss Wooden Cookie Molds

Don’t get me started on the topic of traditional cookie molds.  I could wax on for hours about the beauty, history, tradition, importance (in times gone by), the craft of the carvers, the skill of the bakers and of the varieties of the cookies themselves.  During my 6 years living in Switzerland, I was a […]

Grittibänz – Bake A Swiss St. Nicholas Day Treat

My family is Swiss and German so I grew up celebrating St. Nicholas Day on December 6th.  Before going to bed on December 5th, my brothers and I would put one shoe outside our bedroom door for St. Nicholas to fill.  The next morning our shoes overflowed with marzipan, chocolate and Lebkuchen. I still put […]

Tirggel – Traditional Honey Cookies of Zürich (Story and Recipe)

Tirggel are very thin, very hard, lightly spiced honey biscuits with a slightly raised image on top typically associated with Canton Zürich in Switzerland.  Production and sales ramp up when the cold weather arrives with sales peaking around Christmas and spiking again during the annual guild parade Sechseläuten (or Sächsilüüte).  They have variously been called Tirggel, Türggeli and Dirggeli. […]

Mom’s Kugelhopf/Gugelhupf

In a previous post, I told the tale of the journey taken by my Grandmother’s Gugelhupf pan. Then, in a follow-up post, I shared Grandma Landolt’s beloved recipe.  A number of people have asked that I also share my mom’s richer and denser recipe.  A printable version of hers can be found below. For those of you […]

Grandma Landolt’s Kugelhopf (Gugelhupf)

In an earlier post, I told the story of my beloved Kugelhopf/Gugelhupf pan.  It belonged to my Bavarian grandmother who brought the pan with her when she immigrated from Switzerland to Pennsylvania, U.S.A.  Her precious recipe (a printable version is at the bottom of this post), was an important reminder of her youth and family […]

The Tale Of My Gugelhupf (Kugelhopf) Pan

Every childhood visit to my Swiss German grandparents in Pennsylvania was greeted by the smell of freshly-baked Gugelhupf. The taste and smell of this round, high-domed, dense, buttery, raisin-speckled cake baked in a decorative pan with a hole in the center penetrates every memory I have of them. My grandmother was born and raised in […]

Savory Valais Cholera Tart

Cholera Tart or Cholera Cake (a hearty, savory dish consisting of a pastry shell packed with a dense filling) was, supposedly, developed in the Valais region of Switzerland in 1832 when the Cholera pandemic that was sweeping the world began taking its toll in that region. Seemingly healthy people were suddenly taken ill by this […]

Basler Fasnacht Mehlsuppe – Swiss Carnival Soup

  When I lived in the U.S., I would head down to Cajun country in Louisiana to attend the eye-popping parades normally associated with New Orleans as well participate in the very traditional (and little known) rural celebrations out in the countryside such as the Courir de Mardi Gras in Eunice where we would don […]

Triätschnitte – Traditional Zürich Dessert

Triätschnitte is a traditional dish typically associated with Zürich, Switzerland.  Preparation involves a very strange method consistent between a recipe I found from 1892 and modern ones.  Stale bread slices are first dipped in a thick syrup made from water and sugar, coated with spiced sugar then baked before resting in a warm, sweet mulled red […]

Älpermagronen – Swiss Alp Farmer Macaroni, Potato and Cheese

One of the heartier dishes served in Switzerland, especially common at restaurants on hiking trails and at ski resorts, is Älpermagronen.  This rich pasta, potato and cheese dish is best topped with caramelized onions and accompanied by applesauce. Älper translates as Alps and Magronen was the Swiss German term for macaroni or pasta. Älpermagronen is said […]

Sandelholzläckerli – 200 Year Old Swiss Cookie Recipe

Every holiday season I make massive amounts of numerous varieties of classic European cookies along with marzipan creations and many different flavors of chocolate truffles. After sharing a platter of Christmas goodies with my husband’s Swiss colleague, she thanked me by sending a Christmas cookie recipe passed down through her family from her great, great, […]

Mom’s Sauerbraten

The great passion in both my professional and personal life is exploring and preserving family and regional food traditions.  One of the many family food legacies I treasure is Sauerbraten (sometimes called Suure Mocke in Switzerland),  meat marinated in vinegar and spices and then roasted.  This dish has always held a soft spot in my heart because it was […]

Gâteau de Nillon – A Delicious By-Product of Nut Oil Pressing

One of my favorite weekend activities in Switzerland is attending small, regional food and tradition festivals.  The latest one was the Autumn Fair and Cowbell Market, an incredible event held above the charming, tiny village of Romainmôtier in French-speaking Canton Vaud. We made the long trek (four trains and a shuttle bus) on a beautiful, sunny autumn […]

How To Cook Polenta

On a recent trip to the renovated 12th century Bruzella Mill in the Muggio Valley of Ticino, Switzerland, I was fortunate enough to learn how to cook polenta by one of the millers.  Below is her (time-consuming) method.  Small batches (2 to 6 people) can take 30 minutes.  Large batches, an hour. Huge vats, I […]

Apple Pressing in Graubunden

It’s apple season – one of my favorite times of the year.  I grew up not far from a huge apple orchard. Every season we would pile into the car and head to the now-closed Bell’s Apple Orchard near our home in Barrington, Illinois.  Mom would buy baskets full of apples to make gallons of […]

Cooking A Wild Boar

Wild boar are native throughout Northern and Central Europe.  These impressive creatures can be quite destructive. While hiking with a friend who lives in Alsace, France, I was shown small huts set on stilts so hunters could see and shoot boar foraging in the middle of the tall crop fields.  Several months ago, I was […]

Cheese Table

Just one of the many reasons I love living in Switzerland.  Cheese table at a party at the U.S. Embassy in Bern.

Zwetschgendatschi (Plum Cake)

I love this time of year.  The heat is gone and there is a refreshing chill in the air.  Everything is still lush green and, best of all, orchards are yielding their fruits.  This season is so special to me because it is when Mom would always bake one of my Dad’s favorite cakes from […]

Wine Aging Barrels and Vessels at Jean-René Germanier

I have had the good fortune, on several occasions, to visit the cellars Jean-René Germanier  in Vértoz, Canton Valais, Switzerland.  The founder, Urbain Germanier, harvested his first vintage in 1896.  The company was passed to his three sons, Francis, Paul and Charles, whose wines claimed their place among the premiers crus.  Today, third generation enologists Jean-René Germanier and Gilles Besse […]

Homemade Yogurt

Recently, I was driving through farm country up and over the mountain behind my house in Switzerland when I passed a sign advertising farm fresh fruits and vegetables.  After driving through orchards, I reached a beautiful farm at the end of the road.  I was expecting a typical outdoor farm stand, like the many found […]