Riesling 101: A Short Trip to the Mosel River


I had been wanting to write about wines for a while. A few weeks ago, I went on a short trip to the Mosel valley in Germany. On the steep slopes leading down to the winding river, some of the best German Riesling wines grow. I figured this would be a great occasion for a post covering some basics about this grape and the wines made from it, especially since there are some misconceptions out there – and to review a few highlights of our trip…

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Rhubarb Jam Oddity (Musing among Preserves)



There something odd going on with rhubarb – more than just the weirdness in shape and name I wrote in my last post. It seems to invite creative aberration. An experimental (by German 1980s standards) recipe that my mother makes to this day involves rhubarb. She was mildly bewildered by my detailed inquiries about the topic that I kept on sending her this week. But here it goes…

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Rhubarb –  A Strange Food Love

sorbet_closeup_editThis is one of my fondest childhood food memories: as early as May, we’d go and cut the reddest and largest rhubarb stalks in the backyard. The gigantic leaves would go straight to the compost, where they could be flattened out to cover the pile of decaying organic matter. Not that that made a big difference in terms of composting, but it was part of the ritual that ended with one of the greatest summer treats I know. To this day, I still love virtually anything that has rhubarb in it. Like this sorbet (made without an ice cream maker)… Continue reading

Strawberry and Riesling Buchteln: The Adult Version of a Sweet Lunch


Growing up in Germany, I loved the days when had sweet dishes for lunch instead of savory ones. This is by no means considered an uncommon practice (unlike breakfast food for dinner in America), but it still felt special. I think my favorites were rice pudding with apple sauce and pancakes with cinnamon and sugar. Another traditional sweet meal like this are Buchteln, also referred to as Rohrnudeln. I don’t think we ever made those ourselves at home. I was surprised to discover they’re pretty easy to make. And if you fill them with strawberry jam and serve them with a wine sauce, that kids’ favorite can turn into a pretty grown up meal…

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In Search of the Perfect Poppy Seed Cake


No country harvests more poppy seeds than the relatively small Czech Republic, satisfying the high demand for poppy seed pastries across the region. In Germany, Mohnkuchen, poppy seed cake, can be found in every bakery. It is also a traditional favorite of the Silesian cuisine, a topic I dove into a couple of posts ago. Whereas the usual German Mohnkuchen isn’t among my favorites – often too try and too bitter – I wanted to find that perfect recipe for the Silesian poppy seed Wedding Cake I had heard about. I went down the rabbit hole of research and several trials, until I was finally able to serve the proper cake last Sunday. It’s quite an impressive one. If you’re still debating what to bake for Easter, look no further! Continue reading

The Kraut Diary

IMG_2840Last summer I tried to make sauerkraut – and failed. Which is why I hadn’t written about it so far. When I present something on here, I want to be certain the recipe works and the writing and the photos are as good as they can be given the time and technology I have at my disposal. This post is going to be different. No one needs yet another recipe for fermenting cabbage. There are plenty of fantastic resources on the internet already. Instead, I’ll report from my new fermenting project, as I’m trying out a new crock, a new recipe and, incidentally, also my new DSLR camera. The project might succeed or it might fail… Continue reading

Red Cabbage – Surpassing the Jar

rotkohl1Red cabbage, Rotkohl, is a mandatory part of a winter dinner in Germany. To me, duck, goose, venison or even beef roasts are incomplete without the purple vegetable, fragrantly seasoned with cloves, bay leaves and juniper berries. This side dish is referred to as Blaukraut, blue cabbage, in some regions, where it is prepared with less vinegar that alters the color in this recipe. Continue reading

Hidden inside a Dumpling…

maultaschen_4Jiaozi, manti, ravioli, pierogi, vareniki – dumplings filled with meat, potatoes, cabbage, even sweet cottage cheese and cherry compote, can be found anywhere between Shanghai and Stuttgart. But why do we have this urge to boil a tasty filling between two layers of pasta? The Swabians in southwest Germany have an answer. During lent, they would hide the meat in dumplings, so God or, at least, the pastor wouldn’t know they were cheating. That’s how the Swabian Maultasche was supposedly invented.  With lent just around the corner, I decided to come up with a truly vegetarian Maultasche that wouldn’t need to hide its filling, but of course will continue to do so – for tradition’s sake. Continue reading

Pretzel Rolls

img_0422Whether it’s for your own Oktoberfest, a festive dinner party, a picnic or – yes, that would be very German – breakfast, your guests will remember these rolls for a while. For me, the crispy brown crust sprinkled with sea salt crystals and the nearly sweet white interior will forever make them superior any standard dinner roll. And these pretzels rolls are surprisingly easy to make from scratch. Pretzels are given their characteristic color and flavor by boiling them briefly in a lye solution, but since bakers’ lye is hard to get by, baking soda dissolved in water will do the trick.  Continue reading