Country #13: Switzerland

Saturday, April 30, 2011

I apologize for the ridiculous delay in postings - I have been cooking, and have 3 new posts coming up, but due to Passover and then getting sick two weeks in a row, I haven't had the time or energy to write. Things should be calming down in the next few weeks, as we all figure out what we're going to be doing with our lives for the next several years, so keep an eye out for a LOT of new recipes (including a special non-traditional Passover section!).
Switzerland is a fascinating country in almost every way, due to its three main regions - German, French, and Italian. In 2008 we stopped in Grindelwald, Switzerland on our epic drive from Paris to Vienna, and it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.
Interlaken (literally "between the lakes") is an area, obviously, between Lake Brienz and Lake Thun, and it is in the German region of Switzerland. We went hiking in the Alps and saw the Swiss cheese huts and watched the preposterously happy people bike up and down the preposterously steep hills, as if unaware they were actually steep.

We ate at a tiny restaurant called Onkel Tom's Hütte (yes, the translation is what you think it is), assuming that the owners did not realize how racist that is and instead thought it was the name of some charming American cabin. They had incredibly delicious pizza, and because we came in the late afternoon, we got to meet the family who runs the place, an incredibly sweet and friendly group who kept trying to make jokes about the veal they were eating in adorably accented English.
This inspired me to look up an Italian Swiss recipe, and my craving for pasta was the kicker. This dish, which I made with ground turkey instead of ground pork for both practical and health reasons, is incredibly delicious, and the saffron cream sauce kicks it up a notch from "good" to "great." I used lemon pepper fettuccine from Trader Joe's and their saffron as well (my "unlimited supply" I brought back from Spain is long gone).

Fettuccine with Saffron

8 oz fettuccine
½ lb ground turkey or pork
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth (I used bouillon)
2 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
½ cup half and half
½ teaspoon saffron (loosely packed)
½ teaspoon dried basil
salt and pepper
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and set aside. (Because I try to be as efficient as possible, I cooked the pasta while making the sauce - boiling water takes a lot of time, unless you're lucky enough to have one of those super face conduction stoves.)
Brown the meat in a skillet until nearly cooked. Don't cook it the whole way or it will become overcooked when you simmer it in the sauce. Drain the excess fat, then add the broth to the pan. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for about ten minutes, or until the meat is cooked through. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with the half and half. Slowly add it to the simmering broth and meat, stirring continuously. Continue to stir until the sauce become thick and creamy, just a couple of minutes. Turn the heat down to the lowest possible setting and stir in the basil and saffron. Taste it, then add salt and pepper to your liking. You can keep sauce on the stove until you're ready to serve it. Put the pasta on individual plates and then spoon sauce on top. The original recipe calls for grated parmesan on top, which I would recommend if you like parmesan.


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