Monday, July 21, 2008

Around the World - Germany

So sorry about the lateness of this post. Things have been crazy, and hubby has taken over the computer for hours at a time playing games. But I finally have some time so I can finally post our latest installment of our food tour.

When you think of Germany, what comes to mind? Bratworst and beer. They border France, but their food is far from the frivolous dishes that can make up a French menu. Germany is a land of outdoor people: mountain climbers, skiers, hikers. Their buildings are solid, their art is weighty, and their food substantial. Desserts are often heavy enough to function as a small meal here in America.

They have made a small impression on our food culture, however. The "hot dog" can be traced back to German sausages. The hamburger is reputed to have come from Hamburg, Germany. Sourkraut is so important to some Germans that they may eat it 2 or even 3 times a day! Hot or cold, with wine, with caraway seeds, with apples... Dumplings are eaten with almost every meal. Potatoes are of equal importance.

I chose our menu partly on how funny the name sounded, and partly on what ingredients I had on hand to limit the amount I had to purchase.

Klopse (Meatballs in Lemon Caper Sauce)

4 tbsp butter
2 onions finely chopped or 3-4 tbsp dried minced onion and a little chicken broth
4 slices white bread
1 cup half and half
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 pound ground pork
4 anchovy fillets or 2 tsp anchovy paste
2 eggs
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a skillet and add the onions or onions and broth. Saute for 10 minutes, or until the dried onions have absorbed the broth and browned a little. Soak the bread in the half and half for 10 minutes. Press the excess liquid from it. Grind the bread in a food processor or blender until it is a paste. Mix with the meat, anchovies, eggs, salt and pepper.

To cook:

Place about 5-6 cups of water in a large pot. Add 1 tbsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 1 tsp marjoram, 3-5 sprigs parsley or 2 tbsp dried, 3 stalks celery. Bring to boil.

Shape meat into meatballs. I did large ones, about a palmfull of meat. You can pick whatever size you want. Drop carefully into the boiling water. It will sink to the bottom at first and as it cooks, will rise to the top. For the size I did I cooked about 20 minutes to ensure they were done. Scoop them out of the water and allow to drain for a bit.

for Sauce:

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp lemon juice
2-3 cups of strained cooking liquid
1/4 cup capers (they come in a jar with brine)

Melt butter. Add flour and stir into a paste. Add lemon juice. Slowly mix in cooking liquid to avoid lumps. Bring to boiling and cook over low heat about 5 minutes. Add capers. Serve over meatballs.

I like how moist these were. They were alright with the caper sauce, but would be really good with italian seasoning mixed in and served with marinara on a hoagie, or spaghetti and meatballs. That's how I will serve them next time. Easier than baking, because you can't burn them into charcoal!

Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes)

3 medium potatoes, grated
1 cup cooked mashed potatoes ( I did boxed )
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
oil for frying

Press liquid from grated potatoes. I didn't know you could do this. Just squeeze a small amount at a time in your hand. Brown starchy liquid really does come out! Combine all ingredients. Shape into desired size pancakes and fry until brown and crisp on both sides.

Think hashbrown with mashed potatoes in them. They were really good with a little ketchup! I may make these for breakfast some morning.

Murbeteig (sweet pastry)

2 cups sifted flour
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 pounds (2 sticks) sweet butter
1 egg
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp cold water
3 tbsp heavy cream
1 cup blanched almonds or walnuts, chopped fine (I used regular slivered almonds)
additional sugar

Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Cut in the butter. Make a well in the center and add the egg, vinegar, and cold water. Mix together to make a dough. You may need a little more water. It will be a lot more sticky than a pie dough. Plop onto some saran wrap and stick in the fridge for a couple hours to let it firm up.

Flour the rolling surface. Lightly floured was too little, but heavy flour would have been too much. Unwrap the dough and place on flour. Sprinkle additional flour on top. You need to work very quickly as dough will become very soft and sticky. Turn over frequently and flour as needed. Roll out into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Place on a jelly roll pan (cookie sheet).

You can brush with the cream and lay out rows of fruit, peaches or apples or pears, and sprinkle with the nuts and about 1/3 cup additional sugar. Or just the cream and sugar and nuts. I chose to do apples, granny smith. With the fruit, bake at 375 for 40 mintutes. Without the fruit, 375 for 15 minutes.

You can also cut the dough into shapes and put the topping on.

Funny story about this pastry. The original recipe called for 2 tbsp of sugar in the pastry and the rest as topping. But it didn't say sugar, divided in the ingredients list. I didn't notice the division in the recipe. So I added all 3/4 cup sugar in the dough, because it made sense. Sweet dough, right? Then I got to the bottom and said "Whoops!" I couldn't go back and take the sugar out, so I just added more sugar on top! It tasted just fine, sweet but not too sweet, so that's the version I wrote down. :-)

4 Tasty Tidbits:

Stephanie said...

Did you seriously add anchovies to your meatballs? I've only ever heard of putting anchovies on pizza (yuck) or in Worcestershire sauce (yum). I'd have never thought to put them in meatballs.

I do like the idea of boiling the meatballs, because I bet it gets rid of a lot of the fat content when you scoop the meatballs out of the water.

Elle said...

That all looks really good! My father's side of the family is from Germany, and his grandmother did tons of wonderful cooking. He still talks about it to this day. His mother, though, had no interest in cooking and all of the family recipes were lost when his grandmother passed away. Still bums me out.

Great blog you have--I've subscribed to your posts!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Looks like a great meal! I love lemon caper sauce - but have never used it for meatballs!

Stephanie said...

I gave you an(other) award, it's waiting for you at my food blog. :-)