One of my favourite things about Geneva is the storms. I’m not sure whether these summer storms come whipping in from the Juras or the Alps, but they are fierce and mighty, and sometimes turn nights into adventures. There is rain, yes, there is rain, but there is also some spectacular light shows that strobe into our living room and thunder so rumbly it makes my normally brave little boy run directly into my arms (so of course I love it).
The other night I had a rather interesting time when I was woken up at 2:45 in the morning with one of our X’s shutters slamming against the side of the house. I had forgotten to batten it down or whatever, and a windstorm had blown up over night. I couldn’t risk the shutter waking X up, so I threw on a housecoat and trudged outside to fasten it.
The wind was howling and the lack of visibility was disconcerting. I wasn’t wearing my glasses when I woke up, obviously, and didn’t grab them on my way out, so I was already pretty blind. But it was so dark out there, occasionally punctuated with violent electric outbursts accompanied by thunder so loud it made me jump – and hope I wouldn’t see any tree limbs come crashing down on me. I was soaked by the time I got to the window, and I had to fasten it open, rather than shut, from the outside. Still, the flickering lighting couldn’t be more disruptive to his sleep than a loud bang outside his window every few minutes, right?
I crawled back into bed, shivering but kind of exhilirated. I love weather like that. But it made so much sense to serve a Sound of Music dinner, inspired by thunderstorms and songs. I love the song “My Favourite Things” from Sound of Music, and X and I sing it together all the time. Or rather, I sing it and X accompanies me by banging on the piano with his elbows and loudly yelling “Ahhhh” (that’s his singing for now. I’m working on it). It got me in the mood for some crisp apple strudel and schnitzel with noodles. So I made that happen.
I actually think there might be nothing better on earth than garlicky butter noodles. Yum … served with pork schnitzel. I’m not actually sure if what I make counts as schnitzel, because to be honest I’m not really sure what schnitzel is, but I’m sure it’s close enough to count. This is one of Z’s favourite dishes, and one he taught me. It’s super easy: Take a pork tenderloin and cut crosswise into pieces. Pound them flat with a mallet. Then dredge them in flour, eggs and bread crumbs, in that order. I like to add a little seasoning with my bread crumbs: chili flakes, dried oregano and parmesan works for me. Then fry the pork in butter for a few minutes each side until cooked through, working in batches until it’s all done. Then serve with garlicky butter noodles like this and you have a happy family.
I’ll admit I was leery to try the apple strudel recipe. My dough is never any good, but I suppose it isn’t going to get any better just whining about it. So I made up the dough – surprisingly easy, and I like that it used ground almonds, because I think that adds great depth of taste. However … I’m still not there when it comes to my doughs. They are always just a little floury and … not as tasty as I would have liked. Ah, well, we can’t win them all. The filling to this was to-die-for good and I will certainly be making this again. Maybe without the dough, though, and I’ll just shovel spoonfuls of apple and fig into my mouth. That sounds really good, actually. The original recipe is found at bananamondaes.
100g butter, melted
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
50g ground almonds
Icing sugar, to serve
1 kilo apples
125g figs (I used dried figs, and soaked them along with the figs overnight)
75g currants, soaked for at least a couple of hours in 4 tbsp liqueur (I used amaretto) and drained
Grated zest of ½ lemon
50g brown sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
Before you start, soak your raisins in 4 tablespoons of liqueur, preferably overnight. The original recipe calls for brandy. I myself don’t do very well with brandy and didn’t have any anyway, so I went with amaretto – a perfectly acceptable alternative.
Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
To make the pastry, put the ground almonds, flour and sugar into a bowl and mix.
Make a well in the centre. Whisk your eggs with the cooled melted butter and add into the well. Using a fork bring the mixture together adding the water a little at a time.
Take the dough and throw it repeatedly onto the work surface. This action will make the dough elastic and pliable.
Leave the dough to rest in the fridge for an hour.
Mix the chopped apples, nutmeg, ground cloves, cinnamon and lemon zest. Then add the amaretto soaked raisins and sugar.
Take out your dough and lay it on top of some cling film. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough until it is wafer thin.
Spread the filling down one side of the dough, fold the edges and roll it up into a sausage. You want to get your thin dough to cover the sausage a few times, so when you cut it you have a few thin layers before getting to the juicy filling.
Brush with egg wash and pop into a hot oven for 30 to 40 minutes.