Archive for October, 2012

Perhaps my favorite German dish

Personally I think that Sauerbraten is a fail-safe dish. You can do with it whatever you want, and there are a million ways to make and eat it. I used yet another recipe and especially picked this one for its amazingly high content of vinegar. The meat came out really sour (more so even than last time I made it) and the sauce was too. I added a bunch of raisins, upped the amount of jam and put a big chunk of brown sugar into the sauce, resulting in an almost perfect sweet and sour sauce. With that said, I used ginger snaps instead of Soßenkuchen (or any other Lebkuchen) as some American recipes describe, so the addition of sugar and other spices was probably necessary to begin with. Even though added flour turned into clumpy failures, luckily the sauce also turned out well.

Since this is a Rhineland style Sauerbraten, we are having it with apple sauce and apples.

The making of the rest of the Sauerbraten was surprisingly simple. For the marinade all you need to do is the dump the meat into the ingredients. Afterwards, browning the meat can be a challenge, but it’s ultimately a rather common technique. Afterwards, the whole thing stays in the oven for a million years, open-ended. Hence, in terms of cooking technique, the only ‘interesting’ aspect is the sauce, really.

Rodion is not actually too interested in this food though.

You have to let the marinade stay for a few days at least (I only had 2 1/2 days in this case!), and the roasting takes many hours. However, apart from that the production of this meat is not even all that time-consuming. It really is the perfect dish for a leisure Sunday. Instead, I used the rest of the time to make Spätzle – for the first time in my life! I have previously only known canteen-food-style Spätzle which were pre-made and always have this very strange consistency, I don’t even know how to describe it. Only a few years ago I have finally been invited to some people’s house who made those Spätzle from scratch – the traditional way of course, with flour, eggs and water. They were so awesome! I totally wanted to do this too.

They taste exactly the way I remember them.

I liked how the Spätzle came out taste-wise, but more eggs (perhaps 4 eggs for 300g of flour) could probably have been beneficial to the recipe. After all, I ended up adding way more water than what the recipe called for in order to achieve the same dough as the Youtube videos show. I googled some videos to see how you cut these Spätzle into the water… and it’s quite an experience! It’s hard without the proper material, and the result was impressively uneven – but who cares? Small pieces of Spätzle taste just as good as large ones, and they go absolutely perfect with the Sauerbraten sauce.

I am so looking forward to the leftovers for lunch. Also, photos of the production process are uploaded to Flickr.

How I stopped worrying about apples

There is this MasterChef USA Season 3 episode in which my possibly favorite contestant got eliminated for putting cheese into an apple pie. Actually there are various things that are strange about that episode. All of the people actually cook the apples, and they make a big deal about the taste of the apples. But good apples pretty much stand for themselves – no apple pie should need more than a tad bit of cinnamon or nutmeg and copious amounts of sugar to be delicious.

Perfect crust, though the middle did drop down some.

For the longest part of my life, my baked apple goods turned into a fluid mess. Pies would always get soaked without fail, tarte tatins always drip to the floor instead of caramelizing etc. etc. The only thing that ever worked for me was Pochi’s infamous apple pie with a pre-cooked apple sauce filling. (That recipe also has the benefit of being able to use huge amounts of apples to generate a relatively dense apple filling, it’s quite lovely.) It turns out that the solution to that is to use baking apples. The apples we have at home are very sour, but also on the watery side. Hence, taste-wise they are perfect but they are not super practical. It turns out that all my woes were indeed due to the apples themselves, of which I have always bought the cheapest ones.

Pie and coffee – is that how you are supposed to eat them? Perhaps tea would be better.

For this pie, I decided to pick a very classical recipe (to be honest, almost everything preceded by “old-fashioned” is delicious) and stick to it religiously. I did the “pulsing in the food processor thing” to get a super flaky crust, and most importantly I got Granny Smith apples. After having a disastrous experience with cookies (how in the world did that happen? I mean, cookies?) which made me doubt my baking skills, this pie makes me regain the confidence that I can deal with both pie crusts and apples – important cooking staples. After all, besides the strawberry/rhubarb combination, baked apple goods are probably my absolute favorites.

After roughly 50 minutes of baking, the apples absolutely had the right consistency.

The pie was finished within 2 days, and I am almost tempted to make it again… But I have other plans kekekeke.