About Sue Style

Originally from Yorkshire I've lived and worked in Spain, France, Mexico and Switzerland, now based in southern Alsace. Author of 9 books, the latest about Switzerland's finest farmhouse cheeses. I freelance for anyone who'll buy my stuff (FT Weekend, Decanter, France Mag, Culture Cheese Mag et al) plus I give cooking workshops and lead bespoke vineyard tours in Alsace and Baden (just across the Rhine).

Playing around with Asparagus

Asparagus, white and green, is popping up all around us here in Alsace – including a spear or three in our asparagus bed, which we planted this time last year and which I’m steeling myself not to pick - still another two years to wait till we can harvest them :-(

Here’s a recipe I devised for a recent workshop on modern Alsatian food. It’s a bit of a fiddle, but if you like playing around with your food and you love asparagus, it’s a winner. Serve with a crusty sarment loaf and a Muscat d’Alsace (what else) – a 2011  Cuvée Marie from Zusslin in Orschwihr, for example, or for a real/rare treat, a 2010 Clos des Capucins from Domaine Weinbach.

GREEN AND WHITE ASPARAGUS STACKS WITH HERBY VINAIGRETTE 

1-stack2Serves 6
500g each of white and green asparagus
coarse salt + a little olive oil for roasting
1 shallot, finely chopped
a good handful of mixed tender herbs (e.g. flat-leaf parsley, lovage, chives, tarragon)
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon vinegar (sherry, white wine or cider)
salt and pepper
300g soft fresh goat’s cheese
6 thin slices prosciutto or smoked salmon
flat-leaf parsley to garnish

  • Peel the white asparagus making sure not to leave any tough strips of peel; trim the green
  • Put all peelings and trimmings in a saucepan with the stalks from the herbs, cover with 2 cups water and a pinch of salt and simmer for 20 minutes
  • Strain this herby stock, put it back in the pan, bring to a boil and reduce to about a cup by fast boiling
  • Lay both sorts of asparagus in one layer in a roasting pan, sprinkle with a little olive oil and coarse salt and roast for 10-15 minutes in a 220oC oven or until a knife inserted in the thickest part feels tender (or boil them 10-12 minutes if you prefer)
  • For the herby vinaigrette, put chopped shallot, herbs, reduced stock, oil and vinegar in the blender and blend till smooth – season with salt and pepper to taste
  • To assemble the dish, cut the soft fresh goat’s cheese in very thin slices and arrange on each plate to make a base on which to set the asparagus stacks – this stops them wobbling about
  • Cut each asparagus spear in 3 pieces – if very fat, slice also in half lengthwise
    Arrange a layer of white asparagus on top of the goat’s cheese, then green (laid at right angles to them), then white (at right angles) and finally green (at right angles again)
  • Cut prosciutto/smoked salmon in thin strips and arrange over the asparagus stacks
  • Drizzle herby vinaigrette around and garnish with flat-leaf parsley

Falling In Love with Vegetables (all over again)

carrotsIt’s no good, I can’t help myself. Just one look at those cheeky little bunches of mauve-tipped spring turnips, erect white asparagus, baby carrots with all their greenery intact, tumbling leaves of fresh spinach and shouty pink radishes and I fall in love all over again. Did I hear someone muttering that vegetables are boring?? Forget it. Vegetable cookery – as I discovered when I wrote my curiously titled Eat and Two Veg (you have to ask a Brit to explain it) – can provide some of the most creative kitchen moments going. EVER. Continue reading

Empordà Calling

1-IMG_2385It hardly matters which way you approach the Empordà region of Catalonia: from France, via Languedoc-Roussillon and across the border through which countless Republican refugees streamed at the end of the Civil War, or from Barcelona, which lies a little over one hour south. The landscape, flanked by the shimmering Mediterranean and dominated by the Pyrenees which rise to the north, is equally distinctive whichever route you choose. Continue reading

Basel’s Ethnic Food Scene

guacamole by Sue StyleWho’d have thunk it? A few years ago — okay, a bit more than a few — when I first came to Basel, foods common in other European countries, none of them particularly challenging (lamb, seafood), were hard to find. The only fish routinely available was farmed trout or Eglifilets/filets de perches. As for anything vaguely ethnic, forget it. Continue reading

Carnival is in the Air

1-1-IMG_8902You can tell Carnival’s in the air when those gorgeous sugar-dusted, deep-fried wonders called Fasnachtskiechle or merveilles de Carnaval start appearing in Swiss shops. At yesterday’s workshop we staged a raid on the pantry/freezer and came up with this super-speedy, super-simple torte for dessert: lay one of these fragile, sugar-dusted wonders in the bottom of a springform tin, arrange scoops of coffee ice cream on top,  slather with whipped cream into which you’ve crumbled some biscuits (Amaretti, Brunsli or more Kiechle crumbs) and top with a second Fasnachtskiechle…da da. A drizzle of dark choccy sauce doesn’t go amiss either. Brilliant for when you get guests at short notice, and it keeps beautifully in the freezer. Continue reading

Take a Winter Dip…into a Swiss Cheese Fondue

SCM photoFood writer and columnist Hattie Ellis (who btw also wrote a delicious book on honey) recently came to a presentation I did on Swiss cheese, together with Rachael Sills of KaseSwiss and Joelle Nebbe-Mornod of Alpine Wines. Now she’s written a lovely piece (The Field, Hattie Ellis) in this month’s issue of The Field all about the wonders of Swiss cheese and how these beauties are increasingly available outside Switzerland.

In London KaseSwiss on Druid Street or La Fromagerie on Moxon Street are great for Swiss cheese, while Whole Foods on Kensington High Street also has a terrific selection. In NYC Murrays and Artisanal have all you need and in Boston (and other cities) Formaggio Kitchen has a good range, while way down in sunny Florida, Caroline Hostettler at Quality Cheese is unbeatable. Loads more stockists are listed in the back of my cheese book.

It reminded me that now’s the time for fondue, if ever there was one (rain sluicing down over the UK, snow over the eastern US…) Continue reading

Thighs versus Breasts

1-IMG_0009

Guinea fowl thigh with sweet & purple potatoes and courgettes

I don’t know about you, but for myself, I’m a thighs girl. Thighs are meaty and moist. Breasts are lean and dry. At least as far as my fave poultry birds (viz chicken, duck and guinea fowl) are concerned.  And it’s not just the succulent-ness of thighs, it’s their alluring price. Continue reading

Spring and Summer Workshops

After a break for the holidays, my workshops will soon be starting up again. Here’s the proposed schedule for the next months:

1-IMG_8860Raid the Pantry – Thursday 20th  February, 09:30 – 13:30

Ever wondered if you could live for a month (or three) on the contents of your store cupboard/fridge/freezer? We’ll stage a raid on the pantry and transform a selection of staples into simple suppers as well as dinner party specials

mktpadua2Spring Farmer’s Market – Thursday 20th March , 09:30 – 13:30

Spring brings an appetite for fresh, bright, vegetable-rich food. This workshop will sparkle with colours and flavours fresh from the farmer’s market: starters, side dishes, main courses and flatbreads. [Includes an optional visit to my favourite Lörrach Saturday morning market to see, select and buy seasonal produce]  

Easter Lamb Workshop – Thursday 10th April, 09:30-13:30

lamb rack2For our Easter workshop – a special request/suggestion from one of my regulars (thanks Florence!), not advertised in the ECP program – we’ll be focusing on lamb prepared 3-4 different ways, with spring vegetables to complement and a dessert in which chocolate will certainly play a significant part.

IMG_5315-1

Modern French Bistro, Thursday 8th May, 09:30 – 13:30

Are you hankering after the kind of bistro food that’s always used to be a cornerstone of French cuisine but which seems to have gone AWOL? We’ll revisit and update some fast French bistro favourites: warm salads, fish, steak/duck breast, gratins and classic French desserts.

 

chiles rellenosA Spicy Summer Feast, Thursday 5th June, 09:30 – 13:30

When summer comes, the living – not to mention cooking and eating – should be easy. This workshop will feature a selection of simple, lightly spicy summer specialities with distinct Mexican and Asian accents.

 

All workshops cost CHF110 or €90, which covers your printed recipe booklet and a full lunch menu with wines to match our chosen food.

Looking forward to seeing lots of you again for some fun mornings together!

There’s Life Beyond Skiing in the Valais

Chamoson-001If your thrills when holidaying in Switzerland’s southernmost region have so far been limited to black runs down to Verbier or Zermatt, and the only Valaisan wine to have passed your lips is a jug of après-ski Fendant (shame on you), it’s time to get ready for a different kind of white-knuckle ride. Continue reading

Smoked Salmon & Fennel Quiche

IMG_8798-001Quiche is my go-to supper dish, after I’ve staged a lightning raid on the fridge/freezer/store cupboard. Here’s one that provided a refuge for the last bits of our Christmas smoked salmon and a couple of lonely fennel bulbs lurking in the veggie drawer. Most people think cheese is obligatory in quiche; it isn’t (even in quiche Lorraine). Here it would definitely be de trop. Continue reading