Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Around the World - Austria

We began our world tour by a visit to Austria. If I remember correctly, Austria was the set for Sound of Music. Austrian food is solid and substantial. Much of the food tends to be hearty and filling, and high in calories. They may eat as much as six times a day! Meats are generally served with a sauce, and usually even broth-type soups are served with noodles or dumplings. They prefer veal to beef, and while there are some good freshwater fish dishes, ocean fish aren't too common. There are an enormous variety of desserts and pastries as well.

Tonight we started with a brown soup, called Brennsouppe. Followed by Paprika Hunner (Chicken Paprika) and Nockerl (dumplings). For desert we were tempted by Sacher Torte (Sacher's Chocolate Cake).

2 tbsp butter
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tbsp flour
3 cups beef broth
>1/2 dry red wine
1 egg
1 1/2 tbsp heavy cream
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tsp chopped chives

Melt the butter in a deep saucepan. Add the onions and saute until very brown, about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Sprinkle with the flour and stir well. Gradually add the broth, stirring constantly until the boiling point is reached. Add the wine and cook over low heat for 1 hour. Season to taste.

Beat together in a bowl the egg, cream, parsley, and chives. Gradually add 1 cup of the hot soup, stirring constantly to prevent curdling. Retun to the saucepan, mixing well. Heat thoroughly but do not allow to boil. Serves 4.

This tasted good, but we found it was a little on the heavy side. Due to the cream possibly. Or maybe it was because I let it simmer way too long and didn't thin it back out with enough beef broth, so it was thicker than it should have been. But I was preparing 3 dishes at the same time, all very hands on. I know, crazy me! A good starter soup though for an autumn day. It reminded me of french onion soup, but with cream and stuff in it. Almost the exact same flavor, just creamy!

Nockerl ( Austrian style dumplings)

1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, softened
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups sifted flour
1/2 tsp salt

Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift the flour and salt together, and add to the egg mixture. Mix well. Will by a very sticky dough. Liberally flour counter. Very liberally. Plop the dough into the flour, sprinkle some flour on top, and knead it a little bit. You still want a very soft dough, but knead enough flour in so it is workable. Let sit for 15 minutes. Pull off small pieces and drop into either boiling water, or soup. Remove when they float up to the top, should only take a couple minutes. Drain in a colander. Serve hot in soup or ladle sauce over them and serve with meat. Or you can fry them in butter and season with salt and pepper.

These were okay. Kind of like homemade noodles but really thick. Be sure to cook them all the way or they will be mushy inside. Again, a little heavy.

Chicken Paprika

There are 2 kinds of paprika. Sweet paprika, which is the normal one most people buy, and smoked paprika, which you can find in the fancier spices. I used sweet paprika for this, but next time I will try the smoked variety. It needed a little bit of a kick.

Chicken pieces (I used a whole cut up chicken, with the wings for fun)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
4 tbsp butter
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tbsp paprika
1 cup sour cream

Wash and dry the chicken. Season with salt and pepper, rubbing in well. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Add the sliced onions and the paprika and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. The paprika turns the onions red. Very cool.

Add the chicken and brown over high heat. Lower the heat and cover the pan. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a little water if the pan becomes too dry. Add the sour cream, stir well, and let simmer for 15 minutes. serve with the dumplings, pouring a little sauce over them.

Okay, this had good flavor. Again, I know, a bit on the heavier side. But like I mentioned, they like their food to be substantial. I like the paprika sauce though. Next time I think I will cook the chicken seperately from the sauce, so the skin is nice and crispy. And use the smoked paprika.

The kids ate it, but it wasn't raved about. Mark thought it tasted good but we both agreed that it was too rich for everyday eating. We are glad to live in a country that serves salads!

It was a little hard to get a good picture of the cake. The chocolate glaze/ frosting was very shiny and the camera couldn't focus well on the smooth surface.

5 ounces sweet chocolate (Bakers chocolate, the german kind - green box)
1 tbsp water
1/2 pound (2 sticks) sweet butter
6 egg yolks beaten
1 cup superfine sugar*
6 egg whites
1 1/4 cup sifted cake flour

* superfine sugar is a bakers sugar, find it in the baking aisle. Or take some regular sugar and run in the blender for a couple of pulses. It is between regular sugar and powdered sugar in consistency.

Preheat oven to 325.

Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in the top of a double boiler with the tbsp of water. I used a ceramic (glass would also work) bowl on top of a small pan of simmering water. Make sure the bowl doesn't touch the water. Cook over the hot water until the chocolate melts. Add the butter and stir until melted. Add the beaten egg yolks, beating constantly. Add the sugar and beat steadily until well mixed. Cool for 10 minuites. Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold in the chocolate mixture and the flour alternately, thoroughly but gently. Butter an 8-inch square pan and dust with flour. Pour the mixture into it. Bake for 10 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Mine took 45. Remove from the pan and allow to cool.

1/3 cup apricot jam (I used preserves, couldn't find jam)

Melt in microwave for about 1 minute. Spread on top of the cake and allow to set. Takes about 20 minutes.

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp hot water
1 egg
5 tbsp sweet butter

Melt the chocolate in the double boiler. Add the sugar and water, beat until blended. Add the egg, beating briskly. Heat and beat for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the butter, one tbsp at a time, beating steadily until butter melts. Spread on top of the cake. I kind of poured it on and spread it around a little. Let cool. Cut into oblong pieces to serve. Serves 8-10

This was way rich. The chocolate frosting/glaze/ganache ends up being a dark chocolate. The cake is kind of a dense german chocolate cake. Tastes good, but one piece is plenty. Maybe have some ice cream with my next piece to tone it down.

Actually, after this meal I think I won't need to eat for a few days!

Stay tuned to see where we end up next week!

1 Tasty Tidbits:

Stephanie said...

That was fun to read! I didn't know that about Austrian cuisine. I'm going to enjoy reading about your weekly meal-trips to various countries.

This meal seems perfect for someone on a diet (or maybe not...) ;-)