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A soup in shades of green

17 January 2017


Sometimes color is the guiding principle when I cook. Or let me correct that. Color is always a guiding principle when I cook, but sometimes it is the main thread that weaves the inspiration of a dish. As in this soup. It comes together through the shades of each one of its elements. From a palette of wintry and tender greens to the pale yellow potatoes and onions.

The result is an effortless, delicate, everyday soup.


A soup in shades of green recipe

2 medium onions
3 celery sticks
3 leeks
2 small celeriacs (celery root)
1 fennel
Bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Peel and dice the onion. Wash and slice the celery sticks finely. Remove the leeks’ outer leaves, wash the stalks well to remove all grit, then slice the stems finely. Remove the outer leaf of the fennel, cut in half lengthwise, then slice very finely (or with a mandoline). Peel the celeriac, cut in half, then each half into 2 cm wedges, and slice each wedges as finely as possible to get —approximately— thin two-cm pieces. Peel the potatoes and cut them into pieces of the same size as the celeriac.

Heat some olive oil at the bottom of a heavy saucepan. Let the diced onion and sliced celery sweat on medium heat for about 5 to 10 minutes (they shouldn’t get brown). Add the rest of the vegetables, give it all a good swirl with a wooden spoon, add the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper, cover completely with cold water, bring to a simmer and cook for approximately 30 to 40 minutes (the vegetables should be soft but not mushy).


Christmas baking

8 December 2016


There is nothing terribly new or ground-breaking about our Christmas baking. These are tradition, which is as it should be.

I say ‘our’ and ‘we,’ because my mom is the standard-bearer, she is present in each one of those painfully pressed out and carefully cut out stars. I find cookies a bit tedious, and many Christmas cookies are especially fiddly with an unnervingly sticky dough and precise shaping requirements. But they are custom, and the most exacting ones are also the very best (the cinnamon stars — but, hush, don’t tell the others).

Luckily my mom gets on with it, and before I’ve had the chance to write out the list of ingredients for the Stollen, the almonds are already ground, and the scent of cinnamon awaft.

Marcelle’s cinnamon stars

But lest anyone catches on to the fact that I am a lazy cook, here is my valiant  contribution to the Christmas spread: Stollen. I’ve rarely broken the promise, I’ve baked Stollen in Berlin, I’ve baked it in New York, I’ve flown it home across the Atlantic, I’ve made it through the night watching films while waiting for the dough to rise, and I’ve made it in London with yeast a few days too old, watching anxiously as the dough barely became plump. It’s a whole day’s (or night) work and worth every minute.

My grandmother’s Stollen

But for the indolent cook, here are little shortbread cookies that are a cinch to make and endlessly adaptable. I’ve known them all my life simply as ‘almond and currant cookies,’ but I’ve also used pistachios and saffron, and, here, pecans, cranberries, and orange blossom water.

Classic Christmas almond and currant shortbread cookies


Finally, I have in the archives the recipe for another Swiss confection, small footed aniseed Chräbeli.

Swiss aniseed Chäbeli

Happy baking!


Simple things | Radishes with butter and salt

24 April 2015


Pleasures of spring. The weather entices away from kitchen and stoves. Eating becomes simpler. Food speaks for itself, cooking takes a sidestep.

This could be breakfast; an afternoon snack; apéro bites; the start of dinner. With a slice of good bread.

It’s just a reminder.


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