Friday, September 30, 2011

Germany 2011: Oma Resel's Kartoffelsoße

Kartoffelsoße is Oma Resel's speciality, and Sandra's favourite dish of all time.  Literally "potato sauce", this dish of bread dumplings topped with potato sauce is something that frugal housewives would make their families in leaner times, when food was scarce and meat was expensive.  In these carefree, crazy-wheeling consumerist days, little pieces of Fleischwurst sausage are added, but back in the olden days, the double carb hit of bread and potatoes would be the meal in its entirety.  

And speaking of frugal, I find it very cute that, as a child growing up in the 60's, Sandra's dad would look longingly in butchers' windows and say: "When I'm grown up, I'll be able to buy a whole loop of Fleischwurst!"  (If you've seen my previous meals in Germany, you'll see he's fulfilled that goal many times over).

Kartoffelsoße was the first dish that Sandra requested when we got to Germany, and a few short days after we landed, we went over to her Grandma Resel's place to learn the secrets of her famous dish.  Initially, I wasn't sure if I was going to blog it, thinking it might be just too plain to interest you guys.  But when I live-tweeted the dish - "Onions! Lard! Paprika! Potatoes!" - I got a flurry of excited responses, and I knew y'all would love it as much as I do.

As with the Gulaschsuppe, no standard recipe included here: like all grandmas, Oma Resel doesn't use recipes, cooking by heart.

She starts by making the bread dumplings.  They're the same dumplings I make for Christmas, just made with a lot more skill!  She takes some day-old bread rolls and slice them into little cubes, then add eggs, butter, salt, pepper and flour.

Then she pours hot milk over the mixture, stirs it all up into a dough, and forms it into balls.

The balls (hehe) need to be cooked in boiling water until they float, fifteen to twenty minutes.  But before cooking them, the Kartoffelsoße needs to get started!

And this is how she does it: she heats up a generous (or alarming) amount of lard in a pan, and fries chopped onions in it until softened and fragrant.  Many different types of lard were readily available in German supermarkets (including the fabulously titled "party lard" - that's my kinda party!)   I'm sure that you could substitute goosefat or ordinary vegetable oil.

The next step is to add loads of sliced potatoes, douse them in heaps of paprika, and pour over beef stock.

She cooks it until the potatoes have softened in the tasty broth.

Then, to turn the potatoes and broth into Kartoffelsoße,  she uses a food mill, or a "Flotte-Lotte", as they're also known.

Potatoes go through first, then the broth.

The result is a smooth, thick, ochre-coloured sauce. 

This is when you'd tip in the little pieces of Fleischwurst to heat through.  (Hot tip for Melbournians: the best Fleischwurst in Melbourne is sold at the Wursthütte on Glenferrie Road in Malvern!)

As soon as the Fleischwurst is heated through and the dumplings are cooked, you are ready to eat!

Mmm... fluffy dumplings...

And that is it! It's a super labour-intensive dish, so appropriate for a meal made with love to feed your family.  I loved how comforting it was, and given the crazy rain and wind we've been having for the past few days, I could totally go for a bowl of this right now.

Danke schoen, Oma Resel!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Germany 2011: Rüdesheim am Rhein

Towards the end of our holiday in Germany, we took a little daytrip to Rüdesheim am Rhein.  Rüdesheim am Rhein is a winemaking town and part of the Rhein Gorge UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It's super pretty and romantic, in a ye-olde-fairytale kinda way.  And it's also home to the famous Rüdesheimer Kaffee!  (More on that later).

Before visiting the town itself, we drove up to the Niederwald Landscape park to see the Niederwalddenkmal, the beautiful monument that was built in 1883 to commemorate the foundation of the German Empire after the end of the Franco-Prussian war.

But... it was undergoing maintenance work and was covered in scaffolding. D'oh!

Oh well, now I've got (another) reason to come back to Germany!  At least we got to see some beautiful views of Rüdesheim and all the lovely vineyards!

We then drove down to the town, and went for a walk down the Drosselgasse, which is the commercial centre of Rüdesheim and its most famous street.

It's full of cute, kitschy little shops, restaurants and cafes.  This is the place you can buy old-fashioned Christmas decorations, Nutcracker dolls, beer steins, neuer Wein or Asbach brandy - you know, all the kind of things that tourists like me want to bring back home as souvenirs.  I got a cute Christmas ornament for my mum, and a bottle of Asbach too.  (Unfortunately I had to leave the Asbach in Germany due to my crazily overweight luggage, so Sandra's dad is holding it for me until our next visit).  And speaking of tourists, Rüdesheim seems to be super-popular with older American tourists - it must be the gorgeous, old-fashioned buildings and atmosphere!

After walking around, we stopped off in a cafe for a (not-so-little) bite to eat.
Blackforest Cake

Frankfurter Kranz

Apfel Strudel

Normaler Kaffee
I ordered a Rüdesheimer Kaffee!  But what is a Rüdesheimer Kaffee?  I didn't actually know what it was when I ordered it, but I'd seen it on menus all over the town, and just had to try one!  The waitress brought over all the elements and made it in front of us.  She started with 3 sugar cubes in the below cup, poured in two shots (!) of heated Asbach brandy, and set it alight. (FIRE!)

Once it had burnt off a little, she poured in some strong coffee...

...then scraped in a little rosette of whipped cream, and it was done!

It was delicious, and super-strong!  I'm glad I wasn't driving home that day! Hee-hehe!  I also thought the cups were gorgeous, so I bought myself a set to bring home, and will be trying out my own Rüdesheimer Kaffee just as soon as I can get my hands on a bottle of Asbach or something similar!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Germany 2011: Spanferkel, or "Pig on a Spit"

In Germany, the culinary event about which I was most excited was definitely Spanferkel, or suckling pig.  Sandra's uncle Reiner (the mushroom man) built the rotisserie himself!  How cool is that?!

We rocked up to Reiner's house in the afternoon, finding delicious smoky smells and the following marquee set up in the backyard.  Squee!!

The marquee
The meat had been injected with a saline solution to keep it moist, and hung for a few days before cooking.  It took about six hours in total to cook.  The pig was rotating slowly the whole while, gently cooking in the heat of the wood fire.

It got sprayed with beer throughout the cooking process, to stop the skin from burning before it was cooked all the way through.

Hehe... how many Germans does it take to roast a pig?

"I built that"

And finally, it was time to eat!

One of Reiner's friends is a professional butcher, who broke down the pig in no time!

The meat was super tender, and really tasty - I loved it!

Now, meat is great, but so are salads!  (You can see my beer and my plate of food on the bottom of the table.)

Top row: Carrot Salad; Potato Salad
Middle row: Pasta Salad; Pea & Leek Salad
Bottom row: Spaghetti Salad; Pear, Avocado and Sunflower Salad
It was all so delicious!  And there was sooo much food - there were about 20 guests and there were still heaps of leftovers!

We'd brought some desserts as well: Käsekuchen (made by Sandra's mum)...
... and a sunken apple cake (made by me!)
Apple Cake

It was a wonderful smoky, meaty, beer-filled afternoon. A perfect relaxing day!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Germany 2011: Ice-Cream

Krokant Becher - 4,20€
A picture-heavy post for your blog-reading enjoyment today - all about the lovely ice-creams we enjoyed whilst in Germany.  I've found that there are two things that German people miss when they're away from home: bread, and ice-cream.  The Germans really have a way with ice-creams, and enjoy them in a way we don't seem to here.  Not only do they have more family ice-cream parlours, but they have so many different fun types of sundaes and flavours - for an ice-cream lover like me, it was heaven! Most of our visits were to Eis Oberfeld, Lampertheim's oldest and most popular Eiscafe.  With the lovely warm weather, it seemed that every other day we'd find ourselves in line for a 2€ cup of mixed flavours, or perhaps a Schwarzwald Becher or Spaghetti-Eis when we were in the mood for something a bit different.

Eis Oberfeld
Neue Schulstrasse. 5,
68623 Lampertheim
Ph: 06206 2413

Cute! I love the Eis-mobile!
The menu of sundaes... I spent a lot of time on my vacation staring at this very wall trying to decide what I'd order...
Outdoor seating...
If you're getting a Becher (cup), you simply choose your size, and then you're allowed to choose as many flavours as you like!  My favourites included sour cherry, walnut, chocolate and Snickers!  They've also got funky flavours like Käsekuchen (cheesecake) and Griesspudding (semolina pudding).
1€ Becher
Spaghetti-Eis - 4€
I've told you about Spaghetti-Eis before, that surprisingly delicious dessert of spaghetti-like strands of vanilla ice-cream, piped over globules of whipped cream, and topped with raspberry sauce and white chocolate flakes.  So good! They also do takeaways: you order your ice-creams, they place them on a little cardboard tray with plastic spoons and waffles, then loosely wrap it up in paper for you to take home.  I was so paranoid they'd melt or spill, but they were usually fine for the short drive home, and only occasionally a little squished on the top.
Banana split!
Bananen-Split 4.50€
What a treat! I hadn't eaten bananas in months due to the incredible prices. Even more of a treat when accompanied by vanilla, chocolate and banana ice-creams, then doused in whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Iced coffee!  This is seriously my type of iced coffee.  Three generous scoops of vanilla ice-cream, topped with strong black coffee and a huge squirt of whipped cream.
Eiskaffee - 3.80
The next two ice-creams aren't from Oberfeld, but rather an Eiscafe in nearby Bürstadt... first up is another Spaghetti-Eis, this time made with chocolate ice-cream and chocolate sauce.
And a pretty double-scoop with a lovely swirl of whipped cream.  From memory there was hazelnut and mango in this one!
And finally I just wanted to show y'all the ice-creams we bought from Oberfeld and brought home on our last night in Germany - four different cups and a little extra Becher of insanely delicious chocolate whipped cream. Lecker lecker!