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Archive for December, 2009

I love savory food for breakfast, especially when someone else cooks it.  This morning my husband hit it out of the park with skillet-fried mashed potato pancakes.  They were awesome—fluffy, crispy, and golden all over.  Two bites in, I was already insisting he transcribe the recipe to share with you.

Hungry yet? (more…)

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Should you ever find yourself with an abundance of venison on your hands (via a generous hunter or a murderous rampage against the buck raiding your flower beds), consider whipping up a batch of Hirschgulasch.  This recipe originates from an Austrian restaurant where I used to serve and bartend.  I met many a character there, including a cokehead bartender who claimed to have immortality and a kindhearted Turkish law student.  We slaved long hours together, hoping for big tips and generosity from chef Thomas, who would save us a portion of the venison Gulasch special when he was in a good mood. After a hard night’s work, there was nothing more comforting than a plate of tender wine-braised game over dumplings.  Years after leaving, the dish was still on my mind, so I contacted Thomas for the recipe.

I hope you find Hirschgulasch as memorable as I did.

-1 lb. venison shoulder, trimmed and cubed
-4 small onions, halved and cut into thin wedges
-4 shallots, cut into wedges
-1 Tbsp. flour
-3/4 bottle (450 ml) red wine (I used a light tempranillo)
-1 c. dark beef broth
-1 tsp. beef bullion (staying true to Thomas’ recipe)
-dash each paprika and cayenne
-a few sprigs fresh thyme, stemmed
-1 tsp. fresh minced rosemary
-1-2 cloves garlic, minced
-8 juniper berries
-8 peppercorns
-2 bay leaves
-1 Tbsp. lingonberry jam (or whole cranberry sauce), plus more for serving
-salt and pepper, to taste
-vegetable oil

1. In a large, heavy pot, heat a few Tbsp. vegetable oil until very hot.

2. Dry venison cubes on all sides with a towel. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Sear in batches in the hot oil to brown and develop a nice crust all over. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside.

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Do you ever get really sick of eating rich food?

OK, me neither.

But sometimes you need something acidic to cut the grease, if you will.  The Germans are masters of balancing heavy, hearty food with pickled dishes that perk things up (sauerkraut, anyone?).  German potato salad is another mouth-puckering example.  No mayo, no fuss; just a simple vinaigrette with onion and parsley.  It is unapologetically plain and delicious—just like your Schwäbisch Oma (“Grandma”) might make.

The next time you fry up a chicken schnitzel or grill a bacon cheeseburger, make sure you have some of this on hand.

Caraway seed is a favorite in German cuisine, quite possibly because it comes in such gorgeous packaging.

-2.2 lbs. waxy potatoes (such as red potatoes or Yukon Golds)
-1 Tbsp. whole caraway seed
-1 Tbsp. salt

-1 c. HOT chicken/vegetable broth (from bullion cube is OK; Oma’s not that fussy)

Dressing:
-1/4 c.  sweet onion, minced
-2 Tbsp.  shallot, minced
-2 Tbsp. chives, snipped
-2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
-2 Tbsp. white vinegar
-5 Tbsp. oil (avoid olive oil if you plan to serve cold)
-3/4 tsp. sugar
-1/2 tsp. spicy German or Dijon mustard
-2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
-salt and pepper, to taste

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I won’t say too much about these bars, other than that they are delicious.  You already know that soft, fluffy baked goods drizzled with cream cheese icing are my Kryptonite.  The next time you have a couple of overripe bananas, you know what to do.

Just don’t come knocking.

You can double this recipe and bake it in a 13×9-in. pan.

-2 eggs, room temperature
-1/2 c. granulated sugar
-1/3 c. raw sugar
-1/4 c. vegetable oil
-1/4 c. plain yogurt
-8-oz. bananas (weighed after peeling—about 1 1/2 medium bananas), mashed
-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
-1 c. all-purpose flour
-1 tsp. baking powder
-1 tsp. ground cinnamon
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. baking soda (more…)

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Photo: Kristian Blaich

One of my less likely friendships is one I’m especially glad to have.  It’s funny how things work out.  My friend, Kristian Blaich, was originally my college history professor.  It’s quite possible that had I not taken his engaging classes, I might never have gone abroad, studied German, met my husband. . .well, you get the idea.  He was a great teacher and mentor and later advised my master’s thesis. Considering how much I probably tortured him with late drafts, I’m surprised he even still talks to me.

We stayed in touch over the years, and it gradually came out that Kristian is a total foodie.  He’s big into whole, fresh foods and healthy living.  Fortunately for us, he was kind enough to contribute a wonderful vegetarian recipe:

Recently, in honor of St. Nicholas Day, my five-year-old son announced that he wanted to have a party. Just a family party. But still: pressure to cook something yummy. So I started thinking about recipes that were not too time-consuming, yet still festive. I came up with a vegetable pie. It’s healthy, looks and tastes delicious, and it would impress the kids. We followed this up with some salad greens and some of my mother’s Christmas Stollen for dessert. The kids loved it. So did the adults. This recipe is adapted from NYTimes health food writer Martha Rose Schulman, Mediterranean Harvest: Vegetarian Recipes from the World’s Healthiest Cuisine (Rodale).

Pastry:

-1 recipe whole-wheat yeasted olive oil pastry

Filling:

-2 T olive oil
-1 shallot, minced
-3/4 lb. mushrooms, sliced
-1 1/2 lbs. greens, whatever you have on hand (I used ½ collard, ½ chard)
-salt & black pepper
-1 t fresh thyme, minced
-4 garlic cloves, minced
-3 large eggs
-1/3 c. skim milk
-1/3 c. grated, densely packed baby swiss cheese
-1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese (more…)

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“Did a bad, bad thing…”

Every single time I think about these pumpkin bars, the chorus from that Chris Isaak song runs through my head.  I’m not kidding.

Don’t make these.

You won’t be able to stop yourself.  One minute you’re pulling them out of the oven, and the next thing you know, you’re left covered in orange crumbs, your fingers sticky with cream cheese icing, wondering what the hell just happened.

Try to eat just one.

Paula Deen gets credit for this recipe, which makes perfect sense when you consider her other devious creations.  I decided to lighten these pumpkin bars up with some yogurt in place of half the oil.  The substitution worked perfectly, and I’m certain you’ll love their moist quick-bread texture.  I tweaked Paula’s recipe, using fresh pumpkin, fresh ginger, and some raw sugar, but feel free to check out the original recipe, too.

Be strong!  (Next up will be a healthy, savory vegetarian main dish to atone for these sins.)

You hedonists can double this recipe and bake it in a 13×9-in. pan.

-2 eggs, room temperature
-1/2 c. granulated sugar
-1/3 c. raw sugar
-1/4 c. vegetable oil
-1/4 c. plain yogurt
-8-oz. homemade pumpkin puree or canned Libby’s pumpkin puree (NOT
pumpkin pie filling)
-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
-1 c. all-purpose flour
-1 tsp. baking powder
-1 tsp. ground cinnamon
-1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
-1/2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated (or 1/4 tsp. dried ginger)
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. baking soda

Making pumpkin purée is almost as easy as opening a can… (more…)

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Years ago (more than I care to admit), I was an exchange student in Vienna, Austria. It was there I had my first kiss, my first martini, and my first taste of Liptauer. It’s hard to say which of these made the biggest impression on me. Needless to say, I spent many a balmy night in the Heuriger (wine gardens), drinking the season’s new wine and noshing on German rye thickly slathered with a creamy, salty spread laced with mustard, paprika, and garlic.

Try Liptauer with a soft pretzel or three, and soon you’ll be singing the praises of the Austro-Hungarian empire (at least culinarily).

Swept up in Austria

This spread balances the tangy bite of pickles and capers with lots of creamy goodness. It is excellent on everything from crudités to crackers. Serve it at your next holiday party and brace yourself to explain—repeatedly—what the heck makes it so addictive. It’s that good. You might as well make a triple batch, as I did.  Just think of it as exotic pimento cheese ;).

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