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

Rediscovering Rye

img_0366a-copyBread is on the decline among those concerned with nutrition. After decades of eating super white, yeast-leavened loaves this isn’t too surprising. Failing to provide us with necessary nutrients and fiber, and instead sparking blood sugar levels, this kind of bread may indeed have been making us sick. But the industrial product from the grocery store is pretty far from the bread that has followed human civilization through millennia and that is made of nothing but three ingredients: flour, salt and water. I recently overcame my bread scare and discovered how easy it is to make a healthy whole grain sourdough bread. It can be quite empowering to rediscover this age-old craft in your own home. Continue reading

Liptauer, Theresa May, and Why I Renamed This Blog

liptauer_bread
Liptauer. Served with fresh baked bread and a glass of Austrian wine, it will transport you right to Central Europe.

Traditionally served at the Heurigen, the famous vineyard taverns outside Vienna, Liptauer is one of those foods that are so unpretentious but yet so memorable. Imagine gathering outside on a warm summer evening with a group of friends, sharing a good, but simple wine and a few snacks: fresh baked bread, cheeses, prosciutto, salami and – Liptauer, a spread made of quark, butter, paprika, capers and pickles. This is truly one of my most favorite kinds of meals. However, it isn’t quite “a taste of Deutschland,” as I used to call my blog, since the Heurigen meal is a quintessentially Austrian thing. So let’s reconsider national boundaries in food for a moment, and, to prevent a misunderstanding right away, this is not going to be a culinary Anschluss.
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