30 January 2010

Semmelknödel. Bavarian bread dumplings.

When I was 12 years old, my family moved to Bavaria. Before that I only knew Semmelknödel as a side for special occasions, eg the roast turkey on Christmas. But it was the pre-packaged stuff that came in individual plastic bubbles and that only tasted good when you spooned a LOT of gravy on top. But in Bavaria, those bread dumplings are served with almost any kind of roast that comes with a dark sauce. Most commonly: roast pork with dark stout sauce. And the vegetarian version: with mushroom sauce - more on that next week. Other great combinations are pot roast and goulash (that's my favorite combination). After a while, my mom got to know some people better and one lady showed her how simple those bread dumplings are.

This is the best part: When you have leftover dumplings, cut them into thin slices and fry them in butter until they are brown and crusty on both sides. Serve either with herb butter, sour cream or - according to my husband - ketchup. That's why I never half the recipe although we're only 2 eaters.

23 January 2010

Sauerbraten. With the brine, you're halfway there.

Sauerbraten is a very traditional German roast, the sweet and sour brother of the pot roast. And to make it, just put the meat into the brine for a couple of days (check and turn over every day) and then follow the directions for pot roast, but instead of the wine and onions, use the brine. And when making the sauce, add a handful of raisins and almond slivers. And then you'll have a very nice dish that goes very nicely with potato dumplings or spaetzle.

Of course you can also use this brine for any other kind of meat, especially venison and other game would work pretty fine.

16 January 2010

Beef and Guinness Stew Pie. Sort of.

My dad went for a business trip to Zwickau - that's in the Eastern part of Germany. And he brought back several bottles of "Mauritius" beer. And it was very tasty stuff. Dark, slightly sweet, not too bitter. As I stayed with my parents over new year's, we drank quite a bit and suddenly I was remembering the taste of Guinness in the Irish Pub in Auckland, New Zealand. And my husband's tales of the pub in Hamilton, where he had a dish called "Beef in Guinness", a very dark, rich stew with fork-tender meat, served with garlic bread and - of course - a pint of Guinness. And so we made "Beef and Guinness" the next day, but with Mauritius. While we were cooking, my mom remebered having eaten pot pies on a trip to UK - and so we covered the stew with flaky pastry. The perfect winter food - and with the perfect timing, as it just stared to snow...

10 January 2010

Chorizo and Potatoes. Minimalistic in every way.

When I visited Spain some time ago, we went into a tapas bar. At first, I thought: "Do I really want to eat here?" It was really dark, from the ceiling were hanging dozens of whole hams, the interior was shabby and the floor was covered with used toothpicks. But at a closer look, all the people inside were having a good time, the whole 10 meters of the bar top were laden with snacks of all kinds and it all smelled incredibly good. So we ordered some sherry and took from the bar what we liked. We had planned to eat dinner afterward, but we came out of the bar feeling slightly tipsy and incredibly full.

One of the classic tapas is chorizo and potatoes cooked together and you won't believe how easy this is. It tastes complex, the sauce looks like it has been cooked for hours and it warms your soul. But all you need is found in all kitchens, even that of a student that has just moved in. As for cooking skills: if you can hold a knife and know how to turn up the heat on your stovetop, you're good to go.

02 January 2010

Lasagna. Brings back childhood memories.

My mom learned to cook with an Italian family. So in my childhood, many of the everyday dishes were Italian - like pasta, gnocchi or risotto. Lasagna being - as it is rather labor intensive - a treat for special occasions. Plus, 25 years ago in Germany, there simply weren't any lasagna sheets to buy in the supermarkets. So my mom also made the pasta sheets from scratch.

And this is what the perfect lasagna looks like - at least in my opinion: 5 to 6 layers of pasta, thick beef sugo, a savoury Béchamel sauce and a thick, cheesy crust. No 1000 layers of dough, no ham slices and no pools of aurora sauce. But maybe that's just me...