Crochet

Basel basilisk: an amigurumi

Sincel last July we are living really close to the city of Basel. The city is proud of its heraldic animal, the imaginary basilisk, and according to the legend, there was one living in a cave that used to exist in the Old town. If you want to find more about Basel and its basilisk check my blogpost about Basel.

It is not a really big animal. The fountain basilisk (shown in the photo below) in the actual size of the legendary basilisk.

A basilisk fountain in the centre of Basel

Do you remember my nice red dragon Temeraire? He is positioned on top of my library, guarding my books. But it has been quite some time now that he has been asking for a friend and what else than a basilisk. I did a bit of searching, but there was no pattern interesting enough for what I wanted. So I decided to make it myself, so as to fit Temeraire. I used as a base the dragon body of Temeraire from the Amigurumi to go pattern. But the head is not the same as a dragon’s; it rather resembles the one of a rooster. That part I created myself. and I am going to offer it to you for free.

The abbreviations I use in the pattern are:

ch: chain
sc: single crochet
hdc: half double crochet
dc: double crochet
inc: increase – make two in the same stitch
dec: decrease – combine two stitches to one
[…]: repeat this sequence

What you need is a hook 4.00mm. As I have explained in previous posts, I like the Clover Amour ergonomic hooks, so I used the CLOVER Amour 4.00 mm hook. I made Temeraire with Stylecraft Special DK 1010 – Matador and I decided to make my basilisk black, as the colour of the coat of arm of Basel, so I used Stylecraft Special DK 1002 – Black. for the body.

The coat of arms of the city of Basel

For the head of the basilisk use Stylecraft Special DK 1002 – Black:

  1. Start with a magic ring of 6 sc (6)
  2. [inc] x 6 (12)
  3. [sc, inc] x 6 (18)
  4. [2 sc, inc] x6 (24)
  5. [5 sc, inc] x 4 (28)
  6. [6 sc, inc] x 4 (32)
  7. 12 hdc, 20 sc (32)
  8. repeat row 7 (32)
  9. 1 hdc, 10 dc, 1 hdc, [4 sc, inc] x 4 (36)
  10. 1 hdc, 10 dc, 1 hdc, 24 sc (36)
  11. 12 hdc, 24 sc (36)
  12. repeat row 11 (36)
  13. [hdc, dec} x 4, [sc, dec] x 8 (24)
  14. [2 sc. dec] x 6 (18)
  15. 18 sc (18)
    Start filling the head and keep filling it till the end
  16. [sc, dec] x 6 (12)
  17. [dec] x 6 (6)
    bind off. It is not important to close the hole as the beak will be covering it.

In order to have a proper rooster, we need a beak, wattles and a comb. For these ones I used Stylecraft Special DK 1114 – Sunshine. It is a shade between yellow and orange and it felt more fitting than than either of the two other colours. And here is how I made them:

The beak consists of two parts, the upper and lower one.

The upper and lower parts of the beak, sewed on the head

Upper beak part

  1. start with a magic ring of 6 sc (6)
  2. sc, hdc, 2 dc, hdc, sc (6)
  3. [inc] x 6 using only sc (12)
  4. 2 sc, 2 hdc, 4 dc, 2 hdc, 2 sc (12)
  5. [sc, inc[ x 6 (18)
  6. 4 sc, 3 hdc, 4 dc. 3 hdc, 4 sc (18)
  7. 18 sc (18)
  8. 18 sc (18)
    fill it with a bit of cotton batting, bind off and leave string for sewing

Lower beak part

  1. start with a magic ring of 6 sc (6)
  2. [inc] x 6 (12)
  3. [sc, inc] x 6 (18)
  4. [2 sc, inc] x 6 (24)
    fold the circle in two and close it with 10 sc

Wattles

  1. ch 5, turn, 4 sc (4)
  2. inc, sc, sc, inc (6)
  3. sc, hdc, sc, sc, hdc, sc (6)
  4. 6 sc (6)
    Make two of these and sew them together leaving the bottom open
The comb, sewed on top of the head

Comb

  1. ch 9, 2 sc in the first one, 6 sc, 3sc in the last one, 7 sc from the other side (18)
  2. [2 sc, inc] x 6 (24)
  3. [sc, hdc, inc with 2 dc, hdc) x 6 (30)
  4. 30 sc (30)
    bind off and leave string for seweing

In order to assembly the head you need to see the individual parts on it. The head is rather egg shaped. The magic ring is the back of the head, while the part where the hdc and dc are is the top of it and the sc the bottom. The comb goes on the top of the head and the wattles, once the two parts are sewed together, are sewed on the botton part, opposite to the comb. The two parts of the beak are sewed approximately at the height of the 14th row. Sew first the upper part in such a way that it looks nicely at the front of the egg-shaped head and the bottom part just under the upper part. The bottom part is sewed with the folded side of the circle to the head.

The head of the basilisk

The wings, spikes and eyes are done according to the Amigurumi to go pattern, but there are a few changes compared to the dragon:

  • The spikes stop at the bottom of the head and they don’t continue on the head. I made them with Stylecraft Special DK 1114 – Sunshine too.
  • The head of the dragon is a bit too heavy, so it is better to use some wire for support. This is not a problem for the basilisk. Its head is less prolongated and its barycentre is more centred than in the case of the dragon.

Since I made a basilisk, I embroider a Basel coat of arm on his belly!

How do you like my basilisk? Doesn’t he fit nicely with Temeraire?

Temeraire and Basilisk together!

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Cooking

Swiss cuisine: Älplermagronen

I have been thinking of writing this recipe for quite some time, but couldn’t get myself to sit down and do it. This is another interesting speciment of the Swiss cuisine. Contrary to the Wurstsalat I published a few months ago, Älplermagronen is served as main dish and quite often in the small restaurants that you can find up in the Alps or around. Its name means anyway Alp Pasta.


Älplermagronen served!

It is a pasta based gratin and although it looks heavy, it is less than its equivalent ones, as it does not contain heavy cream, but semi-skimmed milk! On the drawbacks, it does take a little bit of time to cook it, but the taste totally rewards the effort!

For 4 big portions, the ingredients needed are:

  • 2 spoons butter for frying
  • 500 g onions in slices
  • 1/2 dl white wine
  • 1/2 dl meat broth
  • 200g fast cooking potatoes
  • 500g pasta (Älplermagronen)
  • 1 lt Milk (any type you like)
  • 3/4 ts Salt
  • grated Gruyère cheese
  • 150 g bacon in slices
All the ingredients

It is better to start with the onions. Add the butter in a frying pan and once it is hot, add the sliced onions. Reduce the heat to medium and let them fry until light brown for about 30 min. Then add white wine and meat broth, let reach boiling point and mix until all humidity is gone. Put it aside for later.

In the meanwhile prepare the pasta. In Switzerland they use the appropriate type of pasta, called (surprise, surprise)
Älpler Μagronen. They are egg pasta, thicker and shorter than spaghetti, but thinner than penne. Unfortunately, I am not sure you can find exactly these ones anywhere else but here. Nevertheless, you can use another type of pasta, as long as it is not too small. Penne or fusilli could be a replacement, but not good enough for Swiss people, so don’t tell them.

The correct type of pasta used for this dish

Traditionally, pasta was being mixed with potatoes, as the latter were cheaper and in abudance. If you check other recipes of
Älplermagronen you will find higher portions of potatoes than pasta. But potatoes and pasta do not have the same cooking time. This is important, because if potatoes are in too big pieces, they will not cook in the time that pasta needs. It is a common mistake to have hard pieces of potatoes among the pasta. As a result, in my own version, I have reduced the quantity of fast-cooking potatoes vs pasta, and I pay attention to cut them in really small cubes. It takes a bit more time, I know, but who wants to eat half cooked potatoes?

So back to the preparation, cut the potatoes in small cubes, add them to a big pot together with the pasta, the milk and a bit of salt and let everything cook while mixing, until the pasta is al dente. This is the secret of Älplermagronen: the pasta is cooked in milk. You can use any normal milk you have at home. I use half-skimmed milk and it works perfectly. It is important that the liquid is mostly covering the potato-pasta mixture and mix them, as milk thickens fast thanks to their starch.

Cook the pasta and the potatoes in cubes with milk and not water!

Once the pasta is al dente, add to the mixture the onions you prepared before, grated Gryère and the slices of bacon that you have cut in about 2cm thick stripes. Mix everything together well and pour it in a pyrex or oven-safe tray. Sprinkle with a bit more cheese and put a few thin slices of butter on top. This you cook for about a quarter in the middle of a pre-heated oven at 180 C, until there is a nicely golden crust on the top.

Ready to go in the oven

As with any kind of gratin, it is easier to serve Älplermagronen, when it has colled down a bit. The pieces are not breaking so much. In Switzerland it is served with a bit of apple compote that you add at the side of your plate and mix it with your pasta. Personally, I do not like it with the apple compote. Älplermagronen tastes perfectly even without it!

Enjoy and feel free to comment if you try it!