Month: April 2011

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I’ll take my meat with cookies, thank you.

Pull up your chair to the German dinner table and you’ll likely eat a heaping plate of meat and potatoes. You might even encounter a crunchy gingersnap or a soft, spicy gingerbread cookie [Recipe]. What you might not expect, however, is that your cookies could be in your meat dish. That’s right. The German dish called Sauerbraten is a slow-cooked pot roast, loaded up with vinegar and a rich, brown gravy thickened with nothing more than cookies. But let’s start at the beginning, shall we? First, the meat hangs out in a vinegar bath for a week and a half, along with a healthy sprinkle of pickling spices. Second, the meat is slow-cooked with the vinegar mixture in a hot oven. Third, the vinegar mixture is strained and simmered with finely crushed gingersnaps to make a spicy, tangy brown gravy. Amazing. I must eat this dish as soon as possible. What about you? Would you try it? Happy Fun Fact Friday! Have a great weekend… hope you have something fun planned. Photo of Sauerbraten: Johann …

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German Tree Cake | Baumtorte / Baumkuchen

Serves 12 This is my favorite cake. All 20 layers of it. It has been since my mitten-wearing years. My mom used this intricately layered almond and chocolate cake as an activity for us kids – something to keep us busy on rainy mornings, when crayons had lost their interest. It is single-handedly responsible for my obsession with almond paste (and it’s sweeter counterpart, marzipan). The original recipe might as well be called “the dance of dirty bowls.” I took a hacksaw to the method, removing five extra bowls. Your baby soft hands will thank you. The best part? No cake goodness was harmed in the streamlining of this recipe. NOTE: You need two days to make this cake because the cake needs to chill in the fridge overnight. Ingredients: All ingredients should be room temperature 1 1/2 cups almond paste, tightly packed (12 oz) 6 Tbsp half & half 1 1/2 sticks butter (12 tbsp), softened 1 cup sugar 10 eggs, separated (put the whites in a bowl big enough to whip them up to …

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Menu: Germany

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed at the thought of spring cleaning, try making these recipes, especially the beer and cake. Good luck. If you’re as clumsy as a frog, as I am, you’ll be cleaning up half-fermented beer splatters and chocolate drips for days. Squeak, shluck, squeak, shluck. That’s the sound of my sneakers on sticky tiles. Shudder. Of course, the final result allows you to eat and drink your sorrows away, so there’s that. Or you could just not be clumsy in the first place. Your choice. Mini Beef Rouladen [Recipe] Thin strips of beef spread with spicy mustard and rolled up around diced onions, bacon, and a piece of pickle. Served in a red wine gravy. Eastern European Red Cabbage [Recipe] The easy, ever popular cabbage dish – simply slice and cook with a bit of vinegar, sugar, and water. The bay leaf is for good luck. How to homebrew: German Altbier (Beer) [Recipe] This isn’t so much a recipe as a photo journal of my first attempt at brewing beer with ingredients …

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About the food of Germany

I first went to Germany for a basketball tournament. I’d just made Captain of the J.V. team, thanks in great part to the small size of our school rather than any particular skill. That weekend we played with “heart” as our coach liked to say, losing by a mere 12 points – a definite improvement since the beginning of the season when we had lost several games by well over 30 points. That kind of loss is a creaming and, unfortunately, not the kind that ends up in cake. After Friday’s game my host family took me on a walking tour of downtown Düsseldorf. The air was crisp and dark – twinkling with the occasional string of lights. Our feet echoed along the cobblestones. Just when my eyes began to droop, the street opened up into a big plaza with a lively outdoor holiday market. A chorus huddled together in a gazebo, their songs crystallizing on the frosty air as they overlooked dozens of booths filled with food, beer [Recipe], wine, and handmade crafts. This was a …

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Monday Meal Review: Georgia

THE SCENE “This is gonna be good,” I told myself, sliding the porcelain casserole into the refrigerator. Two pounds of chicken legs swimming in a bath of lemon juice, peanut oil, and Georgian five spice – they’d have the entire night to chill out and absorb Georgian goodness before hitting the grill. I tucked Ava into bed as quickly as I could, telling Keith to cue a movie, preferably a chick flick. I put on my favorite fuzzy pajamas and crawled under the covers. The opening credits hadn’t even rolled by before the phone rang. “Don’t pick up!” I said, as he brought the phone to his ear. It was work. I rolled my eyes and whispered “tell them you’re busy.” He didn’t say anything, but listened carefully for a few long minutes. I stared at computer screen, at the frozen faces and words, waiting to be unpaused. Moments later, he left to work on the city’s 911 phone system. You can’t say you’re busy when 911 calls. Lives are at stake. I understood but, as I …

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Garlic and Walnut Sauce | Garo

Makes 4 cups This bold tasting spread/sauce from Georgia will have your mouth asking “What is in this!”  I couldn’t decide what it reminded me of, which I find exciting (trying new flavors is the purpose of eating the world, A-Z!). The bold flavor of cilantro and walnut are the main body of flavor, with an earthy, almost bitter note from the spices. You can knock the bitter profile back a bit if you use less fenugreek seeds. Adapted from The Silk Road Gourmet: Volume One: Western and Southern Asia. Ingredients: 1 bunch cilantro, including stems 4 cloves garlic 2 cups walnuts, chopped 2 cups stock (chicken is traditional, but vegetable is fine for a vegan recipe) 1/4 cup lemon juice 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander 1 1/2- 1 Tbsp fenugreek seeds (add to taste) 1 tsp ground turmeric salt pepper Method: Welcome to Georgia – this picture shows so many of the characteristic flavors of this beautiful country. First, blend together the washed cilantro (stems and all) with walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, and stock. …

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Georgian Five Spice | Khmeli-Suneli

Makes about 3 Tbsp Ever take a bite of food and know exactly what country the food is from? Ever wonder why? Usually it’s because the food is loaded with typical, regional herbs and spices. The food of Georgia (the country) is no different. This Georgian five spice can be used in almost any dish thanks to it’s agreeable combination of grassy herbs like coriander, savory, bay leaf and dill – along with a hit from subtly bitter fenugreek seeds (whose flavor you’ll recognize from curry powder). Side note – Before Khmeli-suneli I had never tried savory. I rather like it – the flavor is a little like thyme with a hit of mint. This happy herb would be lovely in a salad dressing. Adapted from The Silk Road Gourmet: Volume One: Western and Southern Asia Ingredients: 2 tsp fenugreek seeds 2 dried bay leaves 1 Tbsp ground coriander 1 Tbsp dried savory 1 1/2 tsp dried dill 1/2 tsp pepper Method: Add fenugreek seeds and bay leaves to spice grinder. Blend until powdered. This …

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Georgian Chicken

Serves 2-4 I’ll be honest. I don’t have great luck with grilled chicken. Usually it’s bland, overdone and, as much as I hate to admit it, I’m usually to blame. Naturally, I was delighted when I found this foolproof Georgian recipe in Laura Kelley’s The Silk Road Gourmet: Volume One: Western and Southern Asia – it’s a giant bright bite of lemony goodness. The crazy strong flavor comes from an extra long marination – 24 hours. If you’d rather a milder flavor, try just a few hours instead. Adapted from The Silk Road Gourmet: Volume One: Western and Southern Asia Ingredients: 2 lbs chicken leg 1 cup lemon juice 3 Tbsp Georgian Five Spice 1/3 cup peanut oil salt Method: Hello sunshine! Time to juice some lemons.  Beware paper cuts… this won’t be pleasant for you. Add in the Georgian Five Spice. And peanut oil… Pour the mixture over the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. To quote Emeril, these chicken are “getting happy.” Grill on each side over medium-low heat, turning once. …

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The ancient notion of globalization: through the eyes of Laura Kelley, the Silk Road Gourmet

Today I’d like to introduce you to author Laura Kelley. For the last year I’ve happily enjoyed her blog The Silk Road Gourmet, where she pens the most fascinating articles. Curious about the history and traditions associated with Valentine’s Day? She’ll tell you. Want to check out a cauldron of 2,400 year-old soup? Sure thing.  Finally, what if a scientist went out to eat and realizes the food on their plate is a new species? She shares the story. This Harvard alumnus knows her stuff. When it came to this week’s culinary adventure into Georgia (not the place where Paula Deen lives), Laura was instrumental – her book, The Silk Road Gourmet: Volume One: Western and Southern Asia, was the jumping off point for 3 of our recipes. The instructions are clear, the writing is vivid, and the final dishes came out impeccably. Long story short, Laura is a powerhouse of knowledge when it comes to all things “Silk Road.” What does that mean? You’ll just have to read her answer to my first question. What does the …

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Natural Grape & Walnut Candy | Churchkhela from the Caucasus

Makes 1 string, as pictured Meet our adaptation of Churchkhela, the dangly natural candy from the Caucasus. Audrey, from Uncornered Market, informs me that this typically sausage shaped treat is nicknamed the “Georgian Snickers.” Nice! Unlike a Snickers bar, however, we use only three ingredients, none of which are sugar. Long strands of Churchkhela can be found all over the caucasus, generally with extra thick outer layers of dried grape syrup (they call this tatara). Our version is simplified for the home cook. First, it has significantly fewer layers. Second, we loop our strand so it is easier to dip in a small amount of liquid. Finally, we didn’t age our Churchkhela as long as they do in Georgia. Our ingredients and technique vary somewhat, so this recipe is designed to be eaten within a few days. You’ll need to plan for 1 day’s drying time for every time you dip the strand into the grape syrup (although drying times could be longer depending on humidity and temperature). Plus you’ll need one night to drain …

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Menu: Georgia

Hello Georgia. I’m sick, but I feel better when I see your food. Three cheers to that! NOTE: The first three recipes are adapted from Laura Kelley‘s book The Silk Road Gourmet: Volume One: Western and Southern Asia. Her book is full of great history and an entire chapter of Georgian recipes for any who are interested. Georgian Grilled Chicken [Recipe] Bone-in chicken marinated in a combination of khemeli-suneli, peanut oil, and lemon juice. The secret? Extra long marination to make the flavors scream. I’m a fan of screaming food (so says the girl who likes a little salad with her vinegar). Georgian 5 spice (Khmeli-Suneli) [Recipe] There are as many variations of this spice blend as there are grandma’s in Georgia. Our version is made with coriander, savory, dill, fenugreek, and bay leaves. Our bonus spice is pepper. Walnut Cilantro Sauce (Garo) [Recipe] This slightly bitter, grassy sauce is a popular condiment, like ketchup in America. Not only is it served over meats and vegetables, it can also be spread on a slice of toast …

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About the food of Georgia

Georgia is literally my life raft at the moment. If I didn’t have this post to write I’d surely be passed out on my bed, waiting for the fever to subside. I hope you’ll understand if this post is extra short. And, quite possibly, delirious. Let’s start off with a quote. That’s always nice. According to Laura Kelley, Georgian cuisine is most closely related to Armenian cuisine – not only because of their shared border, but because Armenia (or its own rulers) ruled at least part of Georgia for 1000 years. The Silk Road Gourmet: Volume One: Western and Southern Asia Laura was kind enough to recommend several recipes from her book. From what I read (and tasted), Georgian food is full of strong flavors like cilantro, pomegranate, walnuts (tons of recipes included walnuts!), lemons, and unusual spice blends like Garo [Recipe] and Georgian Five Spice [Recipe]. She even has a recipe for beets with sour cherries. I’d love to try that one of these days, when my brain doesn’t feel like it’s about to implode. Meat …