Swiss Retro Recipe: Riz Casimir

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An easy meal for kids, I’ve created a dairy-free version of a popular Swiss dish from the 1950s: Riz Casimir.

I first discovered Riz Casimir at Zurich’s Hiltl Restaurant in December 2013. When I saw it on the menu, I didn’t realize this curry dish was actually over a half-century old and known throughout Switzerland. Only after trying Hiltl’s vegetarian version did I start noticing this dish in other restaurants and among the prepared meals from Coop and Migros. Finally, after I came across a simple recipe for Riz Casimir in my Swiss cookbook for public schools, Croqu’menus, I decided to try making it myself.

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According to Betty Bossi, Riz Casimir is often mentioned as a favorite dish by people of all ages in Switzerland. The founder of the Mövenpick restaurants, Ueli Prager, developed this recipe in 1952 with ingredients considered exotic for the time: curry, pineapple and banana. Ultimately, it seems Riz Casimir is the Swiss interpretation of Kashmiri Rice, a northern Indian dish.

Instead of using cream, I’ve been making Riz Casimir with coconut milk. I also added a few other ingredients, like fresh garlic and ginger, and some optional toppings, like chopped cashews and cilantro, to give it a little more flavor and texture. My 3-year old isn’t a huge fan of curry, but this is a very mild recipe.

In terms of presentation, I modeled my version after the photo in my Swiss cookbook of a wreath of rice decorated with banana, pineapple and cherries, and the curry nestled in the center. Honestly, it feels a little ridiculous arranging the fruit like this on the platter, but if it helps my finicky kids find it more appealing, I’ll continue to do it!


Riz Casimir

Recipe adapted from Croqu’menus (9th edition, 2005, p. 91).
(dairy-free, egg-free)
Serves 4-5 people

Ingredients:

1-2 teaspoons sunflower or canola oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 thumb-sized knob of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated or chopped
4 chicken breasts, sliced into thin and bite-size pieces
100 ml white wine or allergy-friendly chicken/vegetable broth
250 ml coconut milk
1 tablespoon curry powder
1-2 teaspoons cornstarch
salt, to taste

Optional toppings: chopped cilantro and cashews, pineapple rings and apple slices

Serve with hot basmati rice

Instructions:

1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Saute the shallots, ginger and garlic for a few minutes until tender and fragrant.

2. Cook the chicken for about 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until its nearly done. Remove from the pan and set-aside. Add the wine (or chicken/vegetable broth) and simmer for a few minutes.

3. Add the coconut milk and curry powder to the wine in the pan, and whisk it together until well-incorporated.

4. Whisk in the cornstarch and return the chicken to the pan. Simmer for about 5 minutes more until the sauces thickens slightly.

5. Serve immediately with basmati rice and optional toppings.


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Serving Vegetables: Fresh Salads for Lunch

My 2-year old with food allergies can be quite a picky eater, particularly when it comes to vegetables. He rarely eats anything green—unlike his older brother who absolutely loves broccoli. I just started reading the NY Times Motherlode’sPicky Eater Project” series, so I’m hoping to get some good advice! In the meantime, I’ve been serving salads for lunch with some basic Swiss recipes for Sauce à salade from my Croqu’menus cookbook: Italian, French and yogurt dressings (see the recipes below sans dairy, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts).

In the following photos, you’ll notice the Swiss versions of French and Italian salad dressings differ from those in the United States. For example, French dressing in the United States typically has a reddish-orange color, while it’s white or cream-colored in Switzerland.

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French and Italian salad dressings in the United States

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French and Italian salad dressings in Switzerland

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Salad #1 – Salade Niçoise with Italian Dressing

On Saturday, I made a salad reminiscent of Salade niçoise. Of course, I didn’t have any olives on hand for which this recipe gets its name, but black olives aren’t a favorite in my household anyway. My little guy loves fish, so I used fresh tuna. The Italian dressing recipe, or Sauce à salade à l’italienne, was easy and didn’t make a huge amount, so I will definitely make this again. Thumbs up from both the boys!

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Italian Salad Dressing

Adapted from Croqu’menus (9th edition, 2005, p. 163).

(dairy/egg/nut-free)

2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon fresh herbs, such as basil or cilantro
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
Zest of half a lemon
Salt, pepper to taste

Place all the ingredients into a blender jar. Use an immersion blender (or stand blender) to blend all the ingredients together until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate in a sealed jar and use within 3-4 days.

 

Salad #2 – Beet, Pepper and Toasted Pumpkin Seed Salad with French Dressing

My homemade version of Sauce à salade à la française took on a slightly yellow hue from the Dijon mustard and tarragon I threw in. We liked this dressing a lot. Even though my oldest thought it was a bit tangy, we’ll make this one again too.

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French Salad Dressing

Adapted from Croqu’menus (9th edition, 2005, p. 162).

(dairy/egg/nut-free)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (I used white balsamic vinegar)
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons roughly chopped onion
1 clove of garlic
Salt, pepper to taste

Place all the ingredients into a blender jar. Use an immersion blender (or stand blender) to blend all the ingredients together until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate in a sealed jar and use within 3-4 days.

 

Salad #3 – Crispy Chicken Salad with Soy Yogurt Dressing

Finally this week, I made a soy yogurt dressing. Unfortunately, this was our least favorite dressing, so I won’t be sharing the recipe. However, the boys LOVED the “crispy chicken” I made—even the picky eater who doesn’t usually eat chicken, unless it’s hidden in something like a quesadilla! This salad will be appearing on our table more often, but likely with one of the other dressings mentioned above.

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After many salads this week, I don’t want to give you the impression that my kids ate all their vegetables. My oldest complained about the beets. My youngest wouldn’t touch the green beans. I still think we made some progress though, and hopefully it will continue this year as I push vegetables to the forefront of our meals a little more often and reduce the need for that commonly heard phrase from parents everywhere—“Eat your vegetables!”

If you have any good allergy-friendly, veggie-focused recipes or if you have advice for how you’ve dealt with picky eaters, please leave a comment below. Thanks, and bon week-end, everyone!

Suisse-Romande Roast Chicken

Despite the cold weather in the United States, we’ve had a relatively mild winter thus far in our small corner of Switzerland. My 6-year old’s ski lesson was cancelled one day over Christmas vacation due to heavy rain and not enough good snow. Having grown up in Minnesota, I always enjoy a cold and snowy winter. This year’s Swiss winter hasn’t met my expectations yet.

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We can find snow up in the mountains, but it hasn’t arrived down by the lake where we live.

Even without the wintry weather, we’ve had many cloudy and foggy days without much sunlight. This weather calls for roast chicken, and I’ve found a recipe that’s become almost a weekly meal in our household: Poulet au citron de Suisse romande (loosely translated, Swiss-Romandy Lemon Chicken). We’ve made this at least a half dozen times now—when I manage to have all the ingredients, and I don’t forget about the 2-hour marinating time! Roast chicken is such a warm and comforting meal for our Sunday night dinner, and it’s great for Monday leftovers.

 

Poulet au Citron de Suisse-Romande

chasselasAdapted from Les recettes de Grand-Mère, Tome 5. Published in 2011 by the Association Alzheimer Suisse, Yverdon-les-Bains.

(dairy/egg/nut-free)

1 whole chicken
juice of 2 lemons
6-7 shallots
3 tablespoons dairy-free margarine, softened
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon herbes de provence
2 lemons
100 ml white wine
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Place the raw chicken in a large, oven-safe pot or roasting pan. Rub the chicken with lemon juice and place in the refrigerator to marinate for about 2 hours.

2. Set-aside 2 shallots in a small bowl. Cut the rest in half and arrange in the pot around the chicken.

3. Mix together the dairy-free margarine, mustard and herbs. Take out 1 tablespoon of the mixture and mix together with the remaining shallots. Stuff the shallots and half a lemon into the chicken. You can truss the chicken with some kitchen string, if you want to.

4. Spread the remaining margarine mixture evenly on the outside of the chicken. I threw half a lemon into the pot before baking too, but it’s not necessary.

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5. Place chicken in a preheated oven at 200°C/400°F for 1 1/4 hours. Then, drizzle with wine, add lemon slices and let simmer briefly in the oven for another 10-15 minutes.

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6. Using a meat thermometer, check to make sure the chicken has reached the recommended temperature of 75°C/165°F. Take the chicken out of the oven and allow to sit for another 10-15 minutes. Remove the lemon and shallots and place them around the chicken on a serving platter. Then, reduce the sauce over medium-high heat until slightly thickened.

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On Monday night, I made Sher-Ping Pancakes with some of the leftover chicken, this time using basil instead of cilantro. What do you make with your leftover roast chicken?

Updated: I (finally) removed the directions about rinsing the raw chicken in cold water. Recent guidance indicates this step isn’t necessary and can actually increase the risk of foodbourne illness. November 2, 2014.

La Jacquerie Neuchâteloise: Sauerkraut and Snails (or Chicken?)

After seeing the huge pot of steaming choucroute (sauerkraut) at Fête des Vendanges, it reminded me that I wanted to make a chicken and sauerkraut recipe from The Swiss Cookbook. However, I didn’t realize until I read the description more closely that the recipe was inspired by another local dish, Jacquerie Neuchâteloise.

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According to my cookbook, Jacquerie Neuchâteloise is a “tasty chicken and sauerkraut stew” that’s “a must at Neuchâtel’s Fête des Vendanges.” After talking with a few lifelong residents of Neuchâtel, it seems this dish may not be as common as my book suggests. Also, I found several sources indicating this dish more typically pairs sauerkraut with escargot instead of chicken. The little snails are nestled in a bed of sauerkraut and dairy products, like butter and cream.

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While I have yet to try escargot—something I can easily purchase at our local grocery stores—I decided to take on a dairy-free version of Betty Bossi’s reinvented Jacquerie Neuchâteloise: Stuffed chicken breasts wrapped in bacon. I used store-bought sauerkraut flavored with a few juniper berries. Even though I generally associate sauerkraut with German-speaking Switzerland, it apparently has a long history in French-speaking Switzerland as well.

This modernized recipe may not be an entirely accurate interpretation of Jacquerie Neuchâteloise, and my 2-year old wasn’t thrilled by it, but I’ll definitely try making it again. I think it would be a good make-ahead dish for when we have dinner guests.


Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Stuffed with Sauerkraut

Adapted from Betty Bossi’s “The Swiss Cookbook” (Zurich, 2010).

(dairy/egg/nut-free)

Please note: This recipe calls for cooked sauerkraut. I planned to make it one night for dinner, but realized too late that my “choucroute crue” needed to be cooked in advance for about 60 minutes. Therefore, please remember to budget extra time for this dish if you have the raw stuff.

150 grams cooked sauerkraut, drained and pressed
1 boiled potato, peeled and diced
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
A pinch of pepper
4 chicken breasts
12 slices of bacon (3 for each chicken breast), uncooked
about 1 tablespoon dairy-free margarine

1. Mix together the first five ingredients in a large bowl.

2. Make a deep slice along the long side of the chicken breast, without cutting all the way through. Open up the breast and pound to flatten with a kitchen mallet or rolling pin. Spread the filling on one half and close it up. Wrap 3 pieces of bacon around each stuffed chicken breast.

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3. Melt the dairy-free margarine in a large pan and fry the chicken breasts over medium-high heat for about 2-3 minutes on each side until browned. Next, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

4. Bake for about 20 minutes at 200°C/400°F.

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Have you ever heard of or tried “La Jacquerie Neuchâteloise?” I’m curious to learn more about it. Bon week-end, everyone!

Updated: September 28, 2014