Swiss Cholera – Oberwalliser Lauchkuchen (Valais Leek Pie)

CholeraThis traditional Swiss recipe got its dubious name most likely during the cholera epidemics of the early 19th century; unwilling to leave the house, they used what they had on hand, packing it into a pie and baking it.  An educated guess is that, especially up in the Alps where technology was slow to come and even slower to be accepted, people were baking these either in their stone or clay bread ovens.  The apples add a nice contrast to the leeks and ham, and a good cheese makes all the difference in the world!  Raclette cheese is recommended for the reason that it’s quite a creamy melting cheese, but any good-quality cheese will work as well – Appenzeller, Gruyere, Emmentaler, etc.

Swiss Cholera

1 large onion, finely diced

300 gr. Leeks (3-4 stalks), halved lengthwise and ringed

60 gr. Ham, finely chopped

Nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste

250 gr. (6-8 med.) potatoes, boiled, chopped

2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped

150 Raclette cheese, or any good cheese, grated or diced

butter and flour for the baking form

500 gr. Pie crust dough (enough for a bottom and top crust)

1 egg yolk for brushing the top dough

Traditional Method:

Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F) Prepare the vegetables.  Saute the ham, adding spices to taste, then add the onion and leek, then add the chopped potatoes and apples; stir well, remove from heat.  Just before pouring the mixture into the prepared bottom crust, mix the grated cheese into the pan well.

Butter and flour your chosen baking form (round, or casserole), and then lay the bottom crust in.  Pour in the mixture, spreading out and topping with the top crust.  Pinch the edges together, slice away any extra dough, and puncture the top dough with a knife or fork to allow steam to escape.  Brush with the egg yolk, and bake for ~35-45 minutes.

My Method:

Preheat the oven.  Instead of sauteeing the vegetables before baking, I prepare the vegetables as described in the ingredients list, then toss them together with the grated cheese and spices before pouring it all into the prepared bottom crust.  I add a wee bit of milk, but it’s not really necessary.  Top with the top crust, pinch it together and trim away the extra dough, then bake as above.  In the boiling of the potatoes, I also added a few carrots to add a bit of colour; I boiled them with the potatoes, and chopped them both to large bite-sized bits once they were cool enough to handle.

En Guete!

Prep:  30 minutes  /  Bake:  45 minutes  /  Total:  75 minutes


Swiss Salted Lemons

Landliebe Lemon RecipeThe following recipe is translated (by me) from the recent edition of “Landliebe”, a Swiss country-living magazine.  It’s my favourite magazine, and as soon as I saw this recipe I had to try it!  My lemons are now in the end of the curing phase, and almost ready to use!  Looking forward to it, and when I find and try a good recipe to use them in, I’ll post it here.  The sky’s the limit, really – you can use these in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Polynesian, Caribbean, or South American cuisine, to name a few.  The trick to doing this according to the proportions of the recipe is finding the right-sized jar; too roomy, and you’ll need a lot more lemon juice to cover the lemons (I topped mine up with lemon and lime juice).

The peeling of these is soft and edible.  Finely chopped, it adds flavour to any meat or vegetable.  Usually additional salt is unnecessary.

Salted Lemons

4 lemons – untreated

Wash in hot water, and then lay in a vat of cold water for ONE WEEK, changing the water daily.

After 1 week, slice into the lemon peeling in diagonals around each lemon, so that it goes deep but remains whole. Press together lightly, and in each opening sprinkle: 1/4 tsp. Coarse-grained salt

Layer the lemons into a canning jar, then add:

1 lemon’s juice

1 Tbs. Coarse-grained salt

1 whole clove

1 bay leaf

1 black peppercorn

With the ball of your hand, press the lemons together and seal the jar.  Place in a cool, dark place for 3 weeks.

They are good for 1 year kept in a cool place, even when the jar is opened occasionally.

Brandy-Baked Brie

Brandy-baked brie

Photo Credit: Betty Crocker

I’ve already posted another recipe for baked brie, but this is Switzerland… cheese recipes abound here!  This is a great recipe for a date night, or when you’ve got guests and want an elegant appetizer to keep them busy while you finish off preparing the meal.  It can be prepared a day or two in advance if needed, and just kept chilled until you pop it into the oven (add the walnuts just before baking to ensure they stay crunchy).  The walnuts lend an earthy taste, while the cranberries’ tartness add a zing.  For a great bread to spread the melted cheese onto, check out my recipe for English Scones.

Brandy-Baked Brie

1½ C. packed brown sugar

½ C. brandy

2 C. finely chopped walnuts (or pecans)

A handful of dried cranberries or raisins

1/2 an apple, peeled and diced to the size of the cranberries

1 – 2 lb wheel brie

In a small mixing bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients. Place brie on top of oven proof serving platter & spoon the mixture over the top, covering completely. Wrap in plastic & refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Discard plastic wrap & bake for 10–12 minutes or until cheese begins to melt. Cool slightly & serve with crackers, apple slices, Zwieback, or any kind of bread you prefer.

Copycat Vanilla Extract & Copycat Almond Extract

There couldn’t be two different levels of ease for these two recipes; the first is a no-brainer, and the second is only made complicated for those living in America, whose government seems to think you can’t think for yourselves anymore… because they’ve made the key ingredient for almond extract illegal, when it can be purchased in any grocery store in Europe…  I’ll sympathize with Americans on this, if you’ll sympathize with me about having very limited access to very expensive crafts supplies here in Switzerland…

On with the show!


1 bottle of vodka – it can be the most inexpensive one on the shelf – it won’t effect the quality of the end-product.

1-3 vanilla beans


Slit the beans lengthwise, making sure just to slice one side and not all the way through.  Slip the beans into the bottle of vodka (or whichever decorative bottle you choose that you’ve filled with vodka) and set aside for at least 2 weeks.  Whala.  Top up the vodka occasionally, toss in a new bean occasionally, and you’ve got an endless supply of top-quality (no additives, preservatives or chemicals) vanilla extract!


ALMOND EXTRACTAmaretto di Saronno Lazzaroni - Bitter Almond Essence

For Europeans:

1 bottle of vodka – ditto as above

a few drops of bitter almond essence

(Photo credit and order possibility:  If possible, use an alcohol-based, rather than oil-based concentrate.  Both work, however with oil-based you’ll need to shake it before each use, and store it in a dark, cool place to prevent the oil from going off.

Mix the essence together with the vodka, and set aside for a few days to two weeks (depending on how strong you’ve made the mixture – experiment to your own tastes).  A good gauge is if you have some brand of imitation almond extract on hand, to taste and smell the comparison until you get the balance right to your liking.

En Guete!






Copycat Amaretto Liqueur

I’m not sure where this recipe originated; I’ve had it in my collection for years, and have tweaked it to the following recipe.  I use Amaretto in anything I can get away with it – from cookies to chicken, cakes to marinades.  Here’s a bit of trivia for you:  Did you know that most commerical Amaretto is not made from actual almonds, but the almond’s relative – apricot pits?

AmarettoCopycat Amaretto

3/4 cup boiling water

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

Stir the sugars into the boiling water in a heat-proof glass bowl, and keep stirring until the sugars are dissolved.

1/2 cup corn syrup (if you use clear corn syrup or dark, it doesn’t matter – just adjust the food colouring*)

1 1/2 cups Vodka (I use 80-proof, and the least expensive I can find as it’s a purely alcoholic base)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 Tbs. almond extract

Stir in the corn syrup and then the vodka and flavorings and stir.

Store in a sealed bottle – I use a a swing bottle, or a formerly “real” Amaretto bottle.  I would avoid cork bottles, as the fumes from the alcohol tend to eat into the cork after awhile.

* If you want an authentic colour, add food colouring to get that golden-brown colour:  2-3 drops of yellow plus 1-2 drops of blue = green, and then 5-6 drops of red will get you to brown.

I once stopped at the green phase, and served it as “Froschlikoer” – “Frog Liqueur,” and made labels with frogs on them!  Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of that phase of cheekiness…

UP NEXT TIME:  Copycat Vanilla Extract, and Almond Extract