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. 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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Taking Stock

stocksThis weekend, we had the first real snow in New York City, which is the perfect occasion to stay in, drink tea and enjoy a good book. (As befits the season of reflexion and self-improvement, my pick was Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations.) But this snow day was also a good time to cook stock, especially since after the holidays some stock-worthy ingredients had accumulated in the freezer – among them the leftovers from a Christmas duck. As the new year begins, there will be more room in the freezer again and I will have delicious fonds at hand for gravy or the next Rouladen. Bear with me – the process itself is pretty simple and fun! Continue reading

The Oktoberfest Challenge, Part 1

Meatballs, potato salad and some other goodies around pretzel rolls – the center piece of our buffet.

I love cooking challenges and projects. Last weekend I think I met my biggest one so far. My fiancé and I were hosting a little yard party to celebrate our engagement. Well, it turned into an Oktoberfest-themed afternoon for 80 guests – and we decided to cater the whole event ourselves. But the challenge goes on. I’m dedicating this month to teaching you how to host your own Oktoberfest party – one post at a time. This is post number one, giving you a general introduction into feasting German style. Continue reading

Transitions of the Plum

pflaumenmus_brotPflaumenmus, Latwerg, Powideln, Schmootsch – the many names for this almost black plum preserve point to its long history in the various regional cuisines across the German-speaking space and Central Europe. Despite of these strong roots in local culinary traditions, many households have dropped plum butter from their canning and jam-making routines. It doesn’t have to be this way… Continue reading

Pears, Beans and Bacon

BBS_served_editedA regional specialty from the north, Birnen, Bohnen und Speck (literally: Pears, Beans and Bacon) couldn’t be easier to make. It is one of those dishes, where I wonder how it first occurred to people. The answer may lie in the fact that green string beans and the small sour cooking pears are harvested around the same time in late August. So why not cook them together? The smokiness of the bacon ties the savory and sweet flavors together in this traditional weekday meal. Continue reading