ALPINE COOKING by Meredith Erickson
A lushly photographed cookbook and travelogue showcasing the regional cuisines of the Alps, including 80 recipes for the elegant, rustic dishes served in the chalets and mountain huts situated among the alpine peaks of Italy, Austria, Switzerland, and France.
From the wintry peaks of Chamonix and the picturesque trails of Gstaad to the remote villages of the Gastein Valley, the alpine regions of Europe are all-season wonderlands that offer outdoor adventure alongside hearty cuisine and intriguing characters. In Alpine Cooking, food writer Meredith Erickson travels through the region–by car, on foot, and via funicular–collecting the recipes and stories of the legendary stubes, chalets, and refugios. On the menu is an eclectic mix of mountain dishes: radicchio and speck dumplings, fondue brioche, the best schnitzel recipe, Bombardinos, warming soups, wine cave fonduta, a Chartreuse soufflé, and a host of decadent strudels and confections (Salzburger Nockerl, anyone?) served with a bottle of Riesling plucked from the snow bank beside your dining table. Organized by country and including logistical tips, detailed maps, the alpine address book, and narrative interludes discussing alpine art and wine, the Tour de France, high-altitude railways, grand European hotels, and other essential topics, this gorgeous and spectacularly photographed cookbook is a romantic ode to life in the mountains for food lovers, travelers, skiers, hikers, and anyone who feels the pull of the peaks.
Advance praise for Alpine Cooking
“This generous cookbook and travelogue will have readers booking trips to the Alps of Italy, France, Austria, and Switzerland. . . . Erickson beautifully captures Alpine food and culture in this standout volume.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A wide variety of readers, and their friends, will enjoy the kaleidoscope of recipes, photos, history, and anecdotes.”—Library Journal
“Erickson beautifully captures Alpine food and culture in this standout volume.”—Publishers Weekly
“This is big, bold, gloriously old-fashioned and the perfect title to snuggle up with to dream about the skiing holiday you can’t afford.”—Diana Henry, The Telegraph
“Meredith Erickson delivers both the coziest as well as the most elegant cookbook of the fall. . . . Just looking through this beauty will transport you from your messy apartment to après ski somewhere in the Alps.”—Inside Hook
To purchase this magnificent Book go here!
RECIPES from the book “Alpine Cooking”
by Meredith Dickson
This dramatic soufflé, the Austrian cousin to French îles flottantes (“floating islands”), is a fluffy concoction shaped into three peaked mounds—said to represent three of the mountains that surround Salzburg: the Mönchsberg, the Kapuzinerberg, and, depending on to whom you talk, the Rainberg or the Gaisberg—all resting atop cranberry jam. Like a floating island, or the “Ziggy Pig” that Napoleon eats in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the Salzburger is a spectacle—half of the fun happens when it appears at the table and onlookers’ mouths drop.
I was able to wrangle this recipe from the Bärenwirt Tavern, which is tucked away on a cobblestone street in Salzburg. Similar to Savoie Cake or a Kugelhopf, the feature that made this dessert a specialty in the Alps is the use of eggs, which was extravagant for a dish that predates advanced mountain transportation techniques.
Note: Vanilla sugar, a very common ingredient in European baking, can sometimes be found alongside superfine white sugar at specialty grocery stores. Or you can make your own by scraping and stirring the seeds from a vanilla bean into a jar of granulated sugar and letting it infuse for a few days. If you don’t have a few days, simply stir the seeds from one vanilla bean into the amount of superfine sugar you need for the recipe.
YOU WILL NEED
Straight-sided oval baking dish (I used a Le Creuset 13⁄4-quart [1.7L] dish)
Flexible bench scraper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 eggs, separated, plus 4 egg whites
1⁄2 cup (100g) superfine sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1⁄3 cup (40g) all-purpose flour
2⁄3 cup (200g) cranberry jam
1⁄2 cup (120ml) whole milk
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Preheat the oven to 370°F (190°C). Generously grease the inside of an oval baking dish with the butter and then sprinkle evenly with the granulated sugar.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, on medium speed, beat all the egg whites until foamy and starting to gain in volume, about 3 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high, gradually sprinkle in the superfine sugar, and continue to work air into the egg whites, until thick and glossy and doubled in volume, about another 3 minutes. Shortly before the end, sprinkle in the vanilla sugar and salt and incorporate.
Place all the egg yolks in a bowl and stir with a fork to blend. Gently whisk the yolks into the egg whites. Switching to a spatula, fold the flour into the egg mixture until just combined.
Spoon the cranberry jam into the prepared baking dish and spread to cover the bottom of the dish. Pour the milk evenly over the jam.
Using a flexible bench scraper, scoop out one-third of the egg mixture, shaping it into a dome, using the inside of the mixing bowl as your guide, then lay it inside one end of the baking dish. Repeat twice with the remaining two-thirds whipped egg, laying them in the center and the other end of the dish respectively. Use the scraper to adjust the shapes and make them look like three distinct peaks, making sure the egg mixture is towering but contained within the edges of the baking dish. Transfer onto a baking sheet.
Bake until the soufflé has puffed up and the surface is golden brown, about 9 minutes. Keep an eye on the oven; you don’t want the top to brown dramatically.
Sprinkle with the confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately.
Spinach and Cheese Mezzaluna
SERVES 4 TO 6
These slippery (schlutz) parcels (krapfen) originate in the Val Pusteria valley, which runs along the north of Alto Adige, bordering Italy and Austria. It’s the last Italian stop before Austria and the valley’s ski towns: Sesto (Sexten), San Candido, Dobbiaco, Villabassa, and Braies are all part of the Tre Cime ski area within the Dolomiti Superski (see page 30). These stuffed half-moons (mezzaluna) have been made in this area for centuries, and locals spoke to me of a 300-year-old recipe unearthed in Sesto.
The mix of soft and hard cheeses makes the filling unique; in the original, ricotta and quark with Tyrolean grey cheese. Montasio, aged Gruyère, or Berner Alpkäse would work as stand-ins for the grey cheese (which is hard to find outside of the region). Rye flour in the dough adds to the depth of flavor. There are only two rules for this dish: the mezzaluna are ready when they float on top of the water, and they should be served only with melted butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and fresh herbs.
YOU WILL NEED
Pasta machine or stand mixer fitted with the pasta attachment
Fluted pastry wheel
7 ounces (200g) spinach leaves
1⁄4 cup (55g) unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1⁄2 cup (100g) quark cheese
1⁄2 cup (100g) ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons grated strong hard cheese (your choice of Bergkäse [mountain cheese]), such as Montasio, aged Gruyère, or Berner Alpkäse
2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs (a mix of parsley, chives, and oregano)
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Knead for 5 to 10 minutes on the counter. Wrap the ball in plastic and place in the refrigerator for 45 to 60 minutes to rest.
Heavily dust a baking sheet with semolina flour. Divide the rested dough into fourths. Keep the dough covered while working with one piece at a time.
TRUITE POCHÉE À LA ROUSSETTE DE SAVOIE
Picture, if you will, Zian, the mountain guide and main character of Roger Frison-Roche’s adventure book La Grande Crevasse, striding across a melting glacier full of jumping Alpine trout (they don’t actually jump, but it doesn’t matter, it’s fiction). He would net and fillet a few trout with his trusty, rusty pocket knife, or worse, his piolet (climbing axe). Just 100 meters (330 feet) or so downhill, the terrain turns from rock to green pasture, so rich in soil that the terraced vines of Roussette grapes grow in abundance, creating natural pergolas to shade the glacier’s waterfall from the heat. Being the resourceful man that he is, Zian carries a small Dutch oven in his rucksack, big enough to simmer a few fillets of fish, along with the wine and whatever dried sausage he looped through his belt along with his trusty climbing cordes (ropes). A turnip here, an Alpine herb there, perhaps a few sorrel leaves, all collected with a light broth in mind, the reward and the fuel for another day in the mountains. . . .
Though I’ve traveled thousands of miles and experienced so many real Alpine moments, it is sometimes a childhood memory, or a pleasant fantasy, or even an idyllic misconception that inspires a recipe as satisfying as reality. My good friend Fred Morin has never been to the French Alps, but his unrealized urge to visit was ignited long ago by nights in a sleeping bag reading by flashlight of adventurer and novelist Roger Frison-Roche. And so, this dish is inspired by Frison-Roche’s great writing.
Notes: I love the wines of Florian and Marie Curtet, and their flagship Roussette is excuse enough to make this recipe. In line with classic French and Italian cooking, use half the bottle in your cooking and drink the other half. Even if you don’t go the Roussette route, choose a wine rewarding of your effort.
The Savoyard longeole sausage is what you’re after, but any cotechino you can get your hands on works here.
Four 1-inch (2.5cm) slices cotechino
11⁄2 cups (360ml) Roussette de Savoie or a good-quality Sauvignon Blanc wine
1 cup (250ml) chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
Sprigs of flat-leaf parsley, thyme, and 1 bay leaf, tied together into a small bouquet garni
Fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
4 cippolini or pearl onions
2 small Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 small white turnips, scrubbed
Four 7-ounce (200g) trout fillets
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small bunch fresh red or green sorrel, finely chopped
In a heavy saucepan over low heat, combine the cotechino slices and 2 cups water, cover, and simmer until very tender and moist, 21⁄2 hours.
In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, bring the wine to a simmer and reduce by half, until approximately 2⁄3 cup (160ml), about 8 minutes, then add the chicken stock and bouquet garni and return to a simmer. Reduce by a third, until you are left with 11⁄4 cups (300ml) stock, about 5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and white pepper.
Add the onions (in their skins), potatoes, and turnips to the stock and cook, covered, for 5 to 15 minutes to keep each vegetable on the still-firm side. Transfer to a large bowl as each comes to doneness (onions first, followed by potatoes, then turnips). Peel the onions with a sharp paring knife. Cover with plastic wrap.
Add the fish and sausages to the stock and cover. Turn the heat to low and simmer gently for about 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to the bowl with the vegetables.
Bring the stock to a boil, reduce for 2 minutes, add the butter, and swirl until well emulsified. Check and adjust the seasoning as needed, then gently pour over the fish and vegetables. Sprinkle the sorrel atop each portion of fish.
SERVES 1 ADVANCED EATER OR 2 BEGINNERS
Of all the Austrian dessert classics, this imperial one reigns supreme over Alpine menus.
Though Kaiserschmarrn originated in Vienna, it’s not exactly something you’d bring to a kaffeeklatsch or that you’d crave on a warm summer day. It is big, it’s easy to make, and it’s a whole lotta rustic. Served right from the frying pan it was cooked in, it’s a jumble of buttery shredded pancake generously dusted with confectioners’ sugar. In other words, it’s best made and enjoyed in a 300-year-old hut in Tyrol.
So that’s how I came to try it at the Gampe Thaya hut, located at 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) in the southern Ötztal Valley. In the summer, Gampe Thaya is also a dairy farm set in a meadow chock-full of cows and Alpine pastures, flora, and fauna. In the winter, it’s a ski-in/ski-out lodge right on the Gampe Alm piste. Regardless of the season, owner Jakob Prantl will welcome you, pour you a beer, and just maybe make you Kaiserschmarrn with his own two (very large) hands.
1 cup (120g) all-purpose flour, sifted
1 cup (240ml) whole milk
3 eggs1⁄4 cup (55g) unsalted butter, melted
Fine sea salt1⁄4 cup (60ml) grapeseed oil1⁄2 cup (60g) confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons rum (optional)
Apple jam or compote and/or cranberry jam for serving
In a large bowl, combine the flour, milk, eggs, melted butter, and a pinch of salt and whisk well to combine into a loose batter. Let rest at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.
In a large, well-seasoned frying pan over medium heat, warm the grapeseed oil until it shimmers. Pour in the batter and let it sit in the pan, untouched, so it can start to slightly brown on the bottom. Using a flat spatula, or a deft flick of the wrist, flip the pancake and continue to cook until brown on the other side, about 2 minutes.
Using two forks (or a saber, like Jakob), and working directly in the pan, coarsely cut the pancake into pieces, 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5cm) in size. Sprinkle liberally with the confectioners’ sugar.
Harness your Alpine bravado by splashing the rum onto the pancake, then setting the pan aflame. Let the fire subside and serve up the Kaiserschmarrn warm in its pan, accompanied by apple and/or cranberry jam.
Note: The possibilities for Schmarrn (translated as “shredded or chopped pancake”) variations are endless! To make Apfelschmarrn (apple) or Kirschschmarrn (cherry), simply add a few thin slices of apple or a handful of pitted and halved cherries to the batter before you pour it into the pan. You can also add 2 tablespoons raisins to the batter, or stir in the finely grated zest of one lemon if you prefer.
Reprinted with permission from Alpine Cooking, by Meredith Erickson, copyright © Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.
Photographs copyright © 2019 by Christina Holmes.