An ode to dumplings and apricots, a special treat
These dumplings are delicious leftovers from the old Austrian-Hungarian Empire, Bohemia and Moravia (today’s Czech Republic). In Austria, apricots are called Marillen, hence the name. The savory curd dough is stuffed with an apricot, cooked and then rolled in breadcrumbs that are roasted in butter. They can be a stand-alone meal or a dessert.
I make apricot dumplings once or twice every year when apricots are in season. They are a culinary dumpling delight. Think of a Chinese (or any other dumpling) filled with shrimp or meat and now take away the savory stuffing and add apricots instead. What you will get is a taste like no other dish, a sensation of flavors that makes you want more and more. I’ve been wanting to post this recipe for a couple of years. This year, I made them for dessert after a light meal. I kept some dough for the following day so that I could take some photos. I was in heaven, eating them all day long. Marillen Knödel (apricot dumplings) are said to be the favorite dessert of the Austrian composer, Gustav Mahler. I enjoy his music and I enjoy the dumplings.
There are different kinds of dough. I watched some Austrian “youtube” videos about all the various kinds. Boy, do I have a difficult time understanding the Austrian-German dialect. I decided to use a recipe from Delicious Days and the Wednesday Chef. To make these dumplings, you have to have quark, a German soft cheese made from soured milk. Wikipedia explains it quite well. For Santa Cruz locals, you can find quark at Shopper’s Corner. Sometimes I buy mine in Oakdale, a Central Valley town in California. This is a town you will drive through if you go to Yosemite, a great spot to stop for a break for kids and dogs and picnics. They have the best aged cumin gouda cheese ever—and they have quark. They sell their cheeses at quite a few northern California farmer’s markets.Check their website here.
Quark freezes well. Almost every morning, I have toast with quark and jam. Years ago, I bought a yogurt maker that also makes quark . My machine is a Salton Quark Maker . It turns buttermilk into quark. For this recipe, you have to drain the quark in a fine sieve to turn it into Austrian Tropfen, a firmer version of quark.
Enough of quark and back to the dumplings. I recommend you make these if you like to experiment with cooking. They are so different from the food I usually eat. Dumplings can be tricky, but with a little bit of practice, you will be richly rewarded.
We finished reading The Goldfinch for our book club. All of us agreed that the writing was superb and the story was interesting. Art was woven throughout the story. Everybody in the bookclub liked some part of the book. My friend, Virginia, says that the book is a great escape from awkward and boring situations, spiced heavily with decadence, but quite philosophical in the end. My girlfriend, Marie, had recommended it, which is no surprise since she is an accomplished watercolor artist herself. Here is her website. We chose two books for our next read, one of them being Elizabeth Huxley’s The Flame Trees of Thika and Zero K by Don DeLillo. This will give me something to read on my upcoming flight to Germany. I am also reading the last of the four books of the Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante.
While making the second batch of dumplings, I found a trick on youtube on how to remove the apricot pit. Gently press a wooden spoon lengthwise through the apricot, beginning where the stem of the apricot was (the little black dot) and push the pit out the other side. If this scares you, cut them in half leaving them intact. The best apricots for the dumplings are small to medium sized. Make sure the fruit is covered tightly with the dough and has no creases. Form them with your hands. If you want them sweeter, sprinkle them with powdered sugar. I kept some of the dough covered overnight in the fridge. I think it didn't make that much difference. However, the dumplings should be eaten as soon as they are made. Some recipes call for a sugar cube, which I used for two of them. I personally prefer Turbinado raw cane sugar, but I think brown sugar will also be fine
Cecilia from The Kitchen Garden, a blog I have been following for years, asked us to post photos of where we work.
Most of my work is done in my kitchen where I do the cooking.
My little desk in my kitchen with some of my recipes and cookbooks
My dining- kitchen table, where I sometimes take photos.
My computer is right around the corner from my kitchen.
I saw the first strawberries at the farmer's market yesterday and some rhubarb in the store. This German Strawberry Rhubarb Meringue cake will make you happy. It is a light cake that brings out the flavors of the strawberries and rhubarb. Enjoy!
The schnitzel is a boneless piece of meat, thinned with a meat tenderizer, coated with flour, beaten eggs and bread crumbs, and then fried.
By adding a mushroom sauce, a schnitzel becomes a Jägerschnitzel. There are many versions of the Jägerschnitzel or hunter's cutlet in Germany and Austria.
I'm back home in my beautiful costal town in California, but my thoughts are often in Germany, my native home. As I reflect on my mother’s recent passing, memories are resurfacing from my childhood. On our farm, Sunday was always a day of rest. No one was supposed to work on Sunday, except for chores like feeding the animals. And then there was the Sunday lunch, the most special meal of the week. Lunch was the big hot meal of the day, like an American dinner. During the week, the lunches were stews and simple meals, but on Sundays things were different. There were puddings for desert, maybe a clear broth for soup to begin with, followed a main course of a meat roast, a chicken or duck, or pork chops made into schnitzels, which is my favorite.
I think the schnitzel was invented by a very clever cook to double the size of the pork chops—by pounding them and coating them in eggs and breadcrumbs. The French and Italians use the same method in their recipes. The schnitzel is similar to the French dish escalope and scallopini in Italian. To enrich the dish, sauces were invented. If the schnitzel has a mushroom sauce, it is called Jägerschnitzel (Jäger means hunter). When the sauce is made with peppers, it becomes a Zigeunerschnitzel (a gypsy schnitzel). In my recipe, I combined the mushrooms and peppers to make a flavorful sauce. I had the leftover sauce with baked spaghetti squash and it was delicious. I can imagine serving it over different grains. I just like to add vegetables whenever I can. If you don't have time to make the sauce, the breaded schnitzel is good by itself, served with a good beer, a salad and some bread.
This is a Jägerschnitzel I had in Germany prepared by a Michelin starred chef in her restaurant. She served it with fried potatoes.
If you want to stay with the German Theme try this Apple Strudel Cake . I have been baking this cake as long as I can remember.
Potato Pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer)
My blogging buddy, Cecilia, from the Kitchengarden blog has asked me to share a story from my family farm in Germany, as well as a recipe for German potato pancakes. I have to make a confession though: I have never made potato pancakes before. Oh, I have eaten them a hundred times—at my mother’s, at friends’ houses, and at those little outdoor stands in Germany that you find in every town or carnival. The problem is, I can't stop eating them once I start. These crunchy, crispy pancakes are downright addictive. My favorites are the ones that my mom used to make with her homemade applesauce. She would feed crowds with them. I would ask her for the recipe, and she would say, “Well you grate the potatoes, put onions in them if you have them, and add some flour, eggs, and salt and pepper.” "How much mom?” I would ask. “Well, until it looks right,” she would say.
My mom seldom used measurements to cook. Some of my German friends use potato starch as a thickener and some use flour. Some drain the potatoes and use the leftover potato starch at the bottom of the bowl. Like I said before, I like to eat them with applesauce but have also eaten them with sauce made from quark (a German fresh cheese made from buttermilk), lox and creme fraîche or as a side with different dishes. I use Yukon potatoes, because they remind me of potatoes that are grown in Germany.
What else is happening in my kitchen? Blood oranges are in season at our farmer's market right now and I love my homemade orange marmalade. The other day, I made a double batch and used half the sugar that my recipe calls for. The consistency of it was much softer, especially the orange peel, and it has a tart, almost bitter flavor. I like both versions and plan on making a third batch experimenting with the amount of sugar.
These potato pancakes make a tasty treat for any meal.
Apple strudel cake or Apfelkuchen as we call it in Germany is a delicious mouth-watering treat to celebrate the change of season or any other occasion.
The French have their apple tart, in the United States we have our apple pie, and in Germany there is Apfelstrudel (apple strudel) or Apfelkuchen (apple cake).
I combine the two and make apple strudel cake. This is the closest thing to an apple strudel without a tremendous amount of work, expertise, and the time it takes to make an apple strudel. The filling has cinnamon, apples, almonds, and raisins, just like an apple strudel. The crust is flaky and buttery and complements the filling nicely. This cake is an old friend of mine, as I have baked it for many years. It is a treat that my family and friends always enjoy. My hubby loves eating it with vanilla ice cream. I prefer Schlag (whipped cream). The cake improves with age and is a great party or dinner pleaser.
My friend, Robert, has beautiful apples in his garden that I used for this cake. Any firm, tart, not-too-juicy apple will do. I used Gravensteins.
I enjoy making this cake by hand. It is like playing in the sand box, but if you don't want to get your hands dirty, you can make the dough in a food processor. Just make sure you don't over mix the dough. Mix the dry ingredients first, add the butter and egg, and use the on/off control on the food processor to mix. Flatten the dough by hand into two disks, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.
A refreshing crowd-pleaser
Our little California coastal town had a hot spell for several days. Usually when the central valley heats up, we get fog and the sun often doesn't come out until noon. So, I enjoyed the heat and the sun and decided to make a refreshing German beverage called Erdbeer Bowle for my book club meeting. I had made this once before during one of my summer parties and it was an absolute hit. Everybody loved it.
When I was recently in Germany, we celebrated May Day in our village with May wine (Mai Bowle). Read more about my trip on Wanderlust. May wine is an old, traditional beverage brewed with Sweet Woodruff (Waldmeister). Another one of my favorites when in Germany is Berliner Weiße, beer mixed with Waldmeister syrup. It's absolutely delightful when sitting in an outdoor cafe on a hot day. Having never come across Sweet Woodruff here in the US, I made strawberry punch (Erdbeer Bowle) instead. It is also very refreshing and sets a festive mood for an enjoyable gathering. There were six in our book club and we drank it all! I had started with only one bottle of wine, but added another later. To keep it cold, I freeze a large block of ice. Be creative when choosing a container. I used a large flower vase. Enjoy!
This punch is refreshing, easy to drink , and everybody loves it
You can easily increase the yield by adding an additional bottle of wine for 16 servings, or double the amounts (use two bottles each of wine and sparkling wine) for 24 servings. Adding Grand Marnier or orange flavored liqueur is a matter of taste.
For an alcohol-free version substitute white grape juice or apple juice for the wine, and sparkling water for the sparkling wine. Adding lemon verbena or mint will also add some different flavors. Try making this punch with peaches or raspberries.
These buttery vanilla nut cookies are irresistibly delicious
The city of Vienna has a wonderful coffeehouse culture. Here you will find plates with scrumptious little sweet morsels made with the fruit of the season on a delicate crust topped with Schlag (whipped cream), rich pieces of cake, layers upon layers of nuts and chocolate, cream and caramel. The Kipferl is a crescent-shaped pastry, an ancestor of the croissant going back to the 13th century. The Vanillakipferl in this recipe is a nutty, crunchy, buttery cookie that will melt in your mouth. Shaped into small crescent moons and rolled in powdered sugar (flavored with vanilla), they make an irresistible treat. My friend Inga has baked these cookies for years and shared them with my family. They are so good that I decided to put the recipe on my blog to share with all of you. Let me know if you like them as much as I do.
These cookies have a rich buttery, nutty flavor
I used regular powdered sugar mixed with a store bought package of vanilla sugar for the dusting of the cookies . You can just use powdered sugar or you can make your own vanilla sugar by placing 1and1/2 to 2 cups of sugar in a pint jar. Split a vanilla bean in half lengthwise and with a tip of a sharp knife, scrape the seeds into the jar with the sugar. Add the vanilla pod to the jar and shake well. Let stand for a few days, shaking the jar occasionally. You now have vanilla flavored sugar. Grind the sugar mixture in a food processor to make powdered sugar.
These are not your usual meringue cookies. They are delicate, dense, frothy and chewy, more like a macaroon. My French girlfriend calls them macaroons. Over the years, I have reduced the amount of sugar in them, so do not put less sugar than is in this recipe.
I played with the topping and this time I added chocolate chips. A whole hazelnut is another option. The ground hazelnuts provide a distinctive nutty flavor. You could also substitute ground almond meal, available at Trader Joe's. Since I have never made them with ground almonds, let me know how they taste.
These cookies are easy to make and will last for a week—and they are gluten free!
A healthy satisfying vegan dish
This is by far my favorite way to prepare winter greens. The raisins and sugar add a touch of sweetness to the vegetables. The vinegar gives it a bite, and the nuts add a bit of crunch. I have used kale with this recipe and it works well. I'm always happy when I bring home a big bunch from the farmer's market. I prepare the greens for dinner and then have a leftover for lunch the next day. By the way, it tastes great with a fried egg on top—the perfect lunch.
This a straightforward recipe that is easy to prepare and makes a great leftover. Substitute any winter green you like for Swiss chard. Adjust the sugar and vinegar to your taste.
This is a healthy and nourishing dish
Once in while, you prepare food you usually don't eat. It's fall in northern California and the farmers’ markets sell every kind of pumpkin or squash you’ve ever dreamed of. There is a splendid variety of kale, spinach, mustard greens and Swiss chard. We still have some dry-farmed tomatoes in the market too. Although the skin is a little thicker, they are still delicious and I will miss them when they are gone. The peppers have a couple of weeks left. I discovered Padron (aka Shishito) peppers this year, small green peppers that are a bit on the hot side. I love to sauté them in olive oil, sprinkle with garlic salt and nibble on them all day long and they taste fabulous cold.
Then there are the red and green cabbages. Ron, my strawberry farmer, is selling Spitzkohl, a cone-shaped white cabbage. So, it is at that time that my German DNA takes hold of me and my childhood memories come streaming back of all the ways to eat cabbage: as soup, as a cooked vegetable, stuffed cabbage, homemade sauerkraut, not to mention my aunt’s Weißkraut mit Kümmel (white cabbage with cumin seeds). That is what I'm cooking tonight with boiled potatoes (mashed potatoes would be good too) and a pig’s knuckle I got from the rotisserie wagon at the farmer's market. Personally I love the cabbage and potatoes, but not the knuckle. Let's not get too German...sometimes I wonder whatever happened to my French cooking? I will make up for it tomorrow night, when we will dine at Absinthe in San Francisco and I will eat the best onion soup on this side of the Pacific. My husband loves pork knuckles and will eat them whenever we are in Germany. This is the first time I have served it at home. After all, he is taking me to the opera in San Francisco tomorrow to see the “Barber of Seville,” so he deserves his favorite food. I ate a little of the knuckle meat and it was good smothered in mustard. The cabbage was a little overcooked and I’m not sure about adding the sour cream. Actually, I think it is better without it. Mashed potatoes would also complement this dish. This can also be turned into a great vegan meal using tofu for the protein. You see, my Californian environment has influenced me.
Prepare this dish to your liking. I think cooking it for 15 to 20 minutes will leave some crunch in the cabbage. Adding the sour cream is a matter of taste, as I prefer it without. My aunt used to smother it in Schmand, a German version of sour cream, and she used lard instead of oil.
An easy to make elegant and light soup, perfect for a first course.
When wandering through the Whole Foods produce department, I spotted white asparagus—my all time favorite vegetable—and it was fresh! In the past, the asparagus sold in this country was old and not worth the effort. Leave it to Whole Foods to make me happy. So, I decided to make Spargelsuppe (asparagus soup). This is a very delicate soup that brings out the wonderful flavor of the asparagus. Germans love their asparagus and when it is in season you will find asparagus on the menu of every restaurant. It is traditionally eaten with melted butter and boiled potatoes, and sometimes hollandaise sauce is substituted for the melted butter. It is also served with different kinds of hams or schnitzel (a breaded pork chop).
To peel the asparagus, hold the tip and carefully peel of the woody part of the asparagus. Be careful, as the asparagus breaks easily. Unlike green asparagus, white asparagus has to be peeled. The peels and end pieces will produce a flavorful broth for the soup.
A Chocolate Delight
This is definitely a pie for chocolate lovers and the crust tastes like a shortbread cookie. I found the recipe in a German magazine years ago, although the original recipe had twice the amount of butter. This recipe is a keeper and I am going to use this crust in other dessert recipes. Add the chocolate filling and the nutty egg white topping and you will have a dessert you can’t resist. The pie can be kept for several days, so you can bake it ahead of time (great for the upcoming holidays). I'm thinking of baking this recipe in individual pie tins for gifts. Being the hazelnut lover that I am, I'll try using hazelnuts instead of walnuts. And maybe I'll add caramel or Nutella too, although that might be going over the top.
This is a straightforward recipe. Be careful not overwork the dough, and melt the chocolate in a double boiler or bowl over a pot of boiling water. Use the best chocolate you can afford. I used Lindt chocolate.
Kohlrabi is a vegetable that you find in German-speaking regions. It is a crunchy bulb that comes in white and purple, and can be eaten raw or cooked. I love eating it raw, peeled and sliced, and it is great with dips. It has a juicy, crunchy flavor that tastes like cabbage and radishes combined. It looses it's sharp bite once you cook it. I buy it in the USA whenever I see it, because it is so hard to find. Kohlrabi is also used in Indian cuisine. Kohlrabi with meatballs is a German comfort food (and there are many variations of this recipe).
My mom loves this dish. She likes the meatballs cooked in salted water, but I think you get more flavor if you fry them. Some of my friends here in Germany add some tomato paste and/or paprika for additional flavor to the meatballs.
WELCOME TO SUNNY COVE CHEF
Thank you for visiting my blog. My two passions are cooking and traveling. Traveling exposes me to a wide variety of food and experiences. I walk around cities looking for markets, restaurants, bakeries, shops, you name it, and if it is related to food you will find me there, tasting, smelling, talking to vendors, and having a great time.