Schnitzel und Spätzle und Deutschland… oh mein!

I adore languages.  Adore them.  I do not have the monetary funds to take classes or purchase language products in order to learn them, but I get by with teaching myself from various free sources.  While learning the language, I also like to learn about the country; historically and presently; their customs, everyday life, and of course food.

So, when I first started teaching myself German a few years back, I researched recipes to make and share with my family.  I was also able to eat traditional Bavarian cuisine at a restaurant in New Orleans around that time, which was a lot of fun and also helped me to gauge how two of these recipes are supposed to taste.

 

 

 

>>charlottesvillecookingschool.com

Wiener Schnitzel

Wiener is the German word for Viennese; as in someone or something being from or originating from Vienna, Austria.  Their word for East is also part of their word for the Country Austria.  Österreich (oo-stehr-raih-sh) means eastern realm, and is what Germans call Austria, even today.  Osten (oh-stin) is the directional term for east.  I found all of that fascinating and interesting, so now you have to read about it.  Also of reference Wiener Schnitzel is pronounced vee-nuh  schnit-sz-ell.

Also this is basically just think pork cutlets battered in bread crumbs and skillet fried.  Very tasty and also similar to something you might have already had at home.  I know we’ve been making the same basic thing for years, only using Italian seasoning breadcrumbs and skillet frying in olive oil.

  • 1 lb thin pork cutlets
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 C flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 C fine, dry bread crumbs
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 3 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 lemon, sliced into thin wedges

Season each cutlet with salt and pepper on both sides.  Let stand at room temperature for 10 – 15 minutes.  Designated three plates for the dipping and dredging task; one for the flour, one for the eggs, and one for the bread crumbs.

Heat butter and oil in a skillet on moderately high heat for two minutes.  Dredge each cutlet, one at a time, in first the flour, then dip in the egg, and then dredge through the bread crumbs, and place in skillet.  Cook each side for three minutes or until a deep, golden brown.

Place on a plate with paper towels to drain.  Serve with one lemon slice per each schnitzel.

Notes:

  • I made this recipe after having eaten it at that German restaurant first.  This one tastes spot on.
  • I deviated a little from the recipe, in technique, just because I’m used to skillet frying, so found my ways to be easier.  I used a wide bowl for the eggs, as that’s easier to me than on a plate.  Also, we have a thin wire mesh colander that we use specifically when frying things.  I stood the cutlets up around the interior of it to do a first drain, then I put them on paper towels to drain some more (we generally use a paper grocery sack, but I figured I’d try paper towels).  They still remained juicy and crisp, but I find that the 2-way method of draining oil works really well and better than the one method alone.  Also I still prefer the paper grocery sack in its absorbency abilities and also paper towel pieces don’t come away with the crispy batter after they have drained.
  • At the restaurant they served it with a lemon slice for you to squirt over the finished cutlet.  I liked that idea and it gave it a great flavour.  However, most recipes I saw (while searching for the above photo) do this, so apparently everyone knew this was a thing with schnitzel except for me.

What To Serve Alongside Schnitzel:

  • At the restaurant, the schnitzel was served with Bavarian style sauerkraut and herbed spätzle (recipe to follow.)  I tried my hand at the Bavarian sauerkraut once, but it wasn’t nearly as good as what the restaurant had made.  Also I have made a potato salad (not that one should have that many carbs at once, but I was simply trying recipes), and another type of salad dish; both of which I failed at, which is why I won’t supply those recipes.

 

 

>>allrecipes.com

Herb Spätzle

Spätzle is either spelled with umlauts, or without, as in Spaetzel, as I have read that in Germany they are slowly moving away from umlauts, which I find sad.  However, both are pronounced exactly the same way; schpate szul.  It’s hard to give a phonetic pronunciation for English speakers, but Z’s make a TS sound, almost like the ending for the word cats.  However, you’ll want to read that as schpate sahzule, but if you run that together quickly it does sound like the proper ts for spätzle.  Anywho!  This is really great comfort food, sometimes I just make it to eat alone.  It’s just a soft egg noodle, however I have not yet attempted to make it from scratch yet, as I’ve been lucky enough to find a pre-prepared version that only needs boiling and then spicing.  It tastes the same as what I had at the restaurant.  So, this is only how to herb up your already prepared spätzle.

  • Prepared spätzle
  • 4 Tbs butter,
  • fresh button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbs oil
  • 3/4 C chicken broth
  • Fresh herbs, chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste

Melt 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet.  Add mushrooms and sauté until beginning to soften; about 4 minutes.  Add onion and sauté until softened; about 5 minutes.  Add 2 tablespoons more of butter and another 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet and add the spätzle.  Sauté until light golden brown; about 10 minutes.  A the chicken broth and simmer until absorbed.  Add fresh herbs, salt and pepper, to taste.

Notes:

  • There are several ways to spice up spätzle.  I just happen to like the herb version the best and I liked that this recipe added in fresh mushrooms and onion.  You could make this without those and it would be a closer version to an original recipe.
  • Any fresh herbs will do, just whatever you like.  Parsley, rosemary, chives, thyme, etc.

 

 

>>foodandstyle.com

Crème Fraîche

Mais bien sûr cela est un mot français! (may bee-in syur say-la estoon moh frahnsay)  >>But of course this is a French word!<<

Ahem…  Yes, this is a French word, pronounced krem Fresh, but it is not technically fresh cream.  It was once fresh cream (meaning cream with a high fat content and not merely milk; think heavy whipping cream) that has been soured.  So, basically it is a very rich and luscious sour cream.  Oh, but it’s so much better than any American sour cream.  I hear tell that one may procure this ready-made in grocery stores.  We don’t have it around here, so I can not tell how you it stands up to the homemade version.  But, it is exceptionally easy to make, and I suggest making it from scratch.

This is crucial for the next recipe, and you will have plenty left over to either make the dish again, if you wish, or try the crème fraîche in other ways.

  • 1 – 2 Tbs cultured buttermilk
  • 2 C heavy cream

Combine both ingredients in a saucepan and heat only to tepid.  Use a candy or milk frothing thermometer to measure that the temperature is no more than 80 degrees.

Pour milk into a clean glass jar, partially cover and let stand at room temperature (65 – 75 degrees) for 8 – 24 hours, or until thickened.  Stir and refrigerate, covered, at least 24 hours before serving.  This will last about 2 weeks in the fridge.

Notes:

  • I’ve talked about easily making buttermilk for addition into recipes before.  Don’t use that technique for this.  You will have to go out and buy cultured buttermilk for this recipe as the cultured part is essential.  It does not matter if you buy regular or Bulgarian style, but it must be full fat and it must be cultured.  If you’re not one to use a lot of buttermilk, never fear.  I can help you use the entire container in no time (a little further down).
  •  I have found that, for me, it takes the full 24 hours on the counter to thicken up.  It may take you less.  I use a clean kitchen towel to partially cover the top of the jar.  It’s OK to check on it after 8 hours and see.  You’ll want it to be really thick, akin to the consistency of traditional American sour cream.  It will be fluffier than that, but it should be very thick.  Also, I always let mine sit the full 24 hours in the fridge prior to using.  Though it only takes mere minutes to “cook”, this will take you about two full days to make before you can even begin on the actual recipe that this goes into.  But, honestly it is so, so worth it!
  • This following recipe will only use a quarter of the crème fraîche that is prepared.  For the other that remains you may herb-up or season however you like and spread on toasted bread or bagels, or mix into a pasta, bean or vegetable salad.  You can also use it plain and serve with fresh fruit.  These are only a few suggestions, but a quick search online or on Pinterest will show you tons of options.  It won’t go to waste.

 

Using Up Your Buttermilk:

If you aren’t adept at making cultured buttermilk at home (I haven’t even attempted it yet, though I have made mock buttermilk for recipes and real buttermilk from butter making), then you’ll be in possession of buttermilk that you needed to purchase and don’t know what to do with.  And if you weren’t lucky enough to find a small container, then you have a whole lot of buttermilk to get through.  So, I’ll supply some basic ideas.

  • Buttermilk has already gone bad.  Anything that has soured is considered sour and therefore has “gone bad”.  However, like sour cream, our sour dough mix, it is perfectly alright.  It is also good well beyond its due by date, unlike sour cream sometimes.  If you’ve purchased Bulgarian style that means it’s super lumpy (curdled).  Lumpy is A-OK.  Regular buttermilk will be a little lumpy.  However, past the due date, you’ll know when it’s really bad because the smell will be wangy (un-buttermilk-like), and will be nothing but lumpy.  I suggest only 2 – 3 weeks past the due date, but if you are wary, then absolutely err on the side of caution.
  • Buttermilk can be used for loads of things; buttermilk pancakes, buttermilk biscuits, buttermilk gravy, and cornbread.  You can also use buttermilk to dip food into before battering and either deep or skillet frying; okra, green tomatoes, and pork.  You can even search for more options and actual recipes, as these are just for a basic guideline.
  • You could also just whip up more batches of crème fraîche (and either leave plain or fix up) and immediately give as gifts.  Just remember to let them know all the ways they can utilize it and that they should finish it off before two weeks is up.
  • Apparently it’s tasty to drink or to soak cornbread in and either drink or eat like cereal.  You do not have to be this brave if you do not wish.  My dad swears by it; as did his dad.
  • It is also good for mouth sores.  Just take a little in your mouth, swish around like you would mouth wash and spit out… or drink, it’s up to you.
  • You can bathe in it.  Draw a bath any which way you want and add some buttermilk to it.  Apparently it’s really good for the skin.

 

 

ohmydish

Flammkuchen

Finally!  We’re at the recipe!  Flammkuchen (flahm koohen) basically means flame cake in German.  It’s pizza.  It is served in towns along the German and French border.  In France it’s referred to as Tarte Flambée (tart flahm bay).  It’s the same thing.  I think you can get away with saying both the French and German versions are the same thing, but I would suggest not calling it pizza to anyone straight off the boat from Europe.  There are varying ways to make it, but the traditional way is very simple with just bacon, onion and garlic crème fraîche.  It’s traditional to use white onions, but I prefer red, so always make it with those.  I also always make this during the Christmas holidays.  I don’t know why, but I just do and it makes me happy.

  • 250 g* (2 C) flour
  • 2-5 Tbs oil
  • 150 ml (2/3 C) water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 250 g (1 C) crème fraîche
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 125 g (1/4 lb) bacon, cooked
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste

In a bowl, combine the flour, oil, water, and pinch of salt to form the dough.  It should not be sticky.  If it is, just add a small amount of flour.  Slice onions into rings and saute in butter until clear (not carmelized).  Cook bacon until crisp*.  Finely chop or mince garlic and add it along with the salt and pepper, to taste, to the 1 cup of crème fraîche.

Roll dough out as thinly as possible and place on parchment lined baking sheet*.  Spread crème fraîche mixture over the dough and then add the onion and bacon on top.  Bake at 400 – 450 degrees for 10 – 15 minutes or until dough has begun to create bubbles and you see a nice browning.  Watch carefully when in the oven.

Notes:

  • The original recipe was all in metric, as you can see, and I had to do the conversions myself.  I left it though, because it’s fun.
  • *Crisp bacon.  I do not like super crisp bacon.  Also, I find that if it’s already crisp, then it’s practically burnt after the entire dish is finished.  I suggest cooked thoroughly, but still limp.  Makes the perfect bacon, since it’ll be cooked again.  Even my mom and The Sister, who rather like really crisp, burnt bacon, have not complained.
  • *Rolling dough.  I’m not that great with dough.  I’ve not yet mucked this up, but the first time I did have trouble transferring it to the tray after having rolled it out, so I have since just dumped the dough onto the parchment lined baking tray and rolled it out on there.  Perfect.
  • I am aware that German people do not eat like Americans.  I own a really old Audi that was made in Germany and some guy had it shipped over to Montana.  Couldn’t buy one that was made in a factory in America, I suppose.  Anyways.  The cup holders won’t even fit a kid sized drink from McDonald’s.  They are super tee-niny, because Germans feel like you either A: shouldn’t be consuming beverages in an auto, or B: that you shouldn’t be allowed to consume more than a tasting cups worth.  What I’m getting at here, is that for a family of four, this is not enough Flammkuchen, though it probably feeds 20 people in Germany (I’m kidding).  So, unless your family of four contains small children, or you are entertaining and this is going to be an hors d’oeuvre of sorts, then you might want to think about doubling the recipe and making two at a time.
  • You do not have to serve anything with Flammkuchen, except I suppose beer or a Riesling if you wish.  Though once I did serve a leafy salad with red radishes and a white wine vinegar.  I didn’t write the recipe down as no one was really all that fond of it (and now I can’t find it online).  I think it was supposed to be Swiss Chard or Butter lettuce or something else that I can’t find here, so it probably could have been better.  It was interesting to try though, as I’d never had a radish before.  So, I encourage you to seek out a German recipe for a leafy salad or a radish salad (nothing like potato salad) and give it a whirl.

 

 

Measurement Guide:

I always see recipes with varied measurement abbreviations.  I always use the standard form, but if you are not familiar with that, it is as follows.

  • C = cup(s)
  • Tbs = tablespoon
  • tsp = teaspoon
  • lb = pound

Metric:

  • g = gram
  • ml = millileter
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