Its been a while since I posted and I do apologize. After breaking my ankle in Budapest, my spunk and motivation left me. During my recovery, I was entertained by your blogs and reading them helped me a great deal. Speaking of recovery, I am walking again and I am thankful for every tiny step I take. The last part of my recovery seems to be the hardest, as I am impatient by nature and eager to move on. But I can’t. I have to take it easy, because if I don’t, I am back in bed with my foot elevated, watching Netflix or YouTube. I also had some emotional issues to deal with, like a post-dramatic depression, upon realizing the danger I had been in and its possible consequences.
But it is a new year, a new decade, and with it comes new beginnings. I am ready to move on. I am starting to cook again and I am enjoying it. I had planned to make a goose for the holidays, but instead my dear friend and neighbor, Susanne, invited me for Christmas dinner. She made her famous Rouladen (stuffed rolled beef), a German tradition for the holidays. I was in culinary heaven.
I have wanted to make homemade potato dumplings for years, but have always opted for the pre-made packaged ones. The one time I tried, when I prepared a goose years ago, it turned into an inedible potato soup. So this year, it was a project I wanted to tackle, so I started to watch German YouTube videos and tried one recipe. I didn’t like them—honestly the pre-packed ones made by Pfanni were better. But I didn’t give up. My girlfriend, Monika, from Germany makes them every year with her goose for Christmas. She uses a recipe from an old German cookbook from Schlesien (or Silesia) that is now in southwestern Poland. Both she and her husband came from this region. I love the quote in the cookbook saying that a Sunday dinner without dumplings is like a sky without stars. They were served with every roast, cooked cabbage or any other vegetable. In the cookbook, they are described as an easy-to-make recipe, but there are tricks to follow to avoid the dumplings falling apart or being hard as a rock.
I made them twice now and both times they got the approval from my friend, Susanne. Each region in Europe has their own version of potato dumplings. The Bavarian ones are made with half-raw and half-cooked potatoes. Leftover dumplings are perfect sliced and then fried in butter, the ultimate German comfort food. When making the dumplings, you can stuff them with small croutons. I think they need some kind of sauce to be truly enjoyed—like a mushroom sauce or gravy from a roast. I don’t have any photos of our Christmas dinner, but a week later, I served my second batch of potato dumplings with some of my friend’s leftover beef brisket from Hanukkah.
When I see plums I always think of the Italian prune plum tree we had at our farm in Germany where these plums are called Zwetschgen. When the fruit ripened in mid September we would make Zwetschgenmus (plum jam) and everybody baked Zwetschgenkuchen on large trays. They dough was usually a yeast dough with different toppings for the plums. My favorite was a custard topping which is called Schmandkuchen. One day I would like to bake it in my village and get advice from all those old cooks and bakery friends. In the meantime I found this wonderful recipe on YouTube that is easy to make and all my American friends liked it. The shortbread dough is used for the crust and the streusel.
The Zwetsche , a European plum ( Prunus domestica) has many different names, in France it is called quetsche, here in the US they are called Italian Prune Plums and sometime Empress Plums. These plums are small and dense with purple skin, easy to pit (freestone pits) and have yellow flesh. There is something magical that happens to this egg shaped, somewhat bland tasting Italian plum when you bake it, it becomes a sweet gooey delight, in cakes, in jams, and dumplings. As was the case with my cake.
I am writing this while eating small slivers of this tasty treat. My doctor tells me to stay away from sweets and I do most of the time but there are times when these rules don’t apply. This cake brings back memories from my childhood in Germany, where Zwetschgenkuchen was a seasonal treat . My mother liked the simple version, adding plums with a little bit of sugar to a sheet yeast cake. Sometimes she splurged and put a custard on top of the cake. I remember stuffing myself and being told to share. My friend, aunt Frieda, that lived on the next farm made the best sheet cakes ever in a wooden pizza oven where she also baked her bread. I would sit on her wood box watching her cook. Oh, those childhood memories.
Some more of my recipes using plums. The plum jam is tart but full of flavor. It's baked in the oven so you don't have to sweat over a hot stove and there is no stirring. Click on the photos below for the recipe.
Here is the link to the YouTube video where I found this recipe. It's in German but Thomas speaks very slowly and it is fun to watch him make the tart. I think this would be a great project for young cooks.
Yum, yum, it’s soaked in rum! If you are looking for an easy way to preserve the taste of summer for a cold winter night, look no further. Make an old-fashioned rum pot with the tastiest strawberries, cherries, raspberries (or any other fruit), add sugar and rum, then let it sit for at least two months. You will end up with a boozy delicacy, which is perfect on pudding, ice cream, flan, cheesecake, almond cake and in drinks. You only need three ingredients and a non-corrosive container with a lid for this classic German condiment.
This German tradition of making a rum pot goes back to 18th century, when rum was imported from the Caribbean to the northern Hanseatic towns. Legend has it that some tropical fruit accidentally ended up in a rum barrel. Whether it’s true or not, it’s a good story. My story goes back to my gentle, caring and loving father who wasn’t a cook. How could he be when he worked from dawn to dusk on the farm seven days a week? But he managed somehow to make a rum pot, which he loved to pour over ice cream.
A traditional Rumtopf is done in a special crock pot ( see the photo below) . My father just used a regular crock pot, but a mason jar will do. The fruit is added when it is ripe—strawberries in June, followed by raspberries, apricots, blueberries, cherries, plums (or any other fruit) in July and August. Sugar and rum is added for each addition. The beauty of the Rumtopf is that you can use almost any fruit you have available as long as you top it with rum that is 54% or higher (108 proof). It will put hair on your chest, so be careful and eat responsibly.
I live in California and only harvest a handful of berries from my garden, but fresh delicious fruit is everywhere else, especially at the farmers markets. I am found of cherries and love to eat them. I ended up with a refrigerator full of fresh fruit and had to do something with it, so the idea of a Rumtopf was born. All I had to do was find was a bottle of rum that was more than 54% alcohol. I am thinking of starting another Rumtopf the traditional way, by adding fruit and sugar and topping it with rum. Layering my Rumptopf with different fruits as time goes by, which keeps the pot going indefinitely.
Before you click on the recipe, please understand that this is an experiment , I usually taste my recipes before I post them, so please keep in mind that this is not one of them. If it turns out (and I don’t see why not), I will fill some small mason jars with my Rumtopf and give them to my friends for Christmas. We’ll see!
Do you want a fruity drink tonight, try out my recipe for a light Strawberry Punch. Click on the photo for the recipe.
A personal note to followers of my blog:
For those of you who been wondering about me, life has had its challenges this year for my family. But we survived and I had to become stronger because of it. It’s been difficult, but the outcome is good for better days ahead. Thank you to all my friends and family for your support and love. I am respecting my husband’s request for privacy to not share more on the worldwide web.
How can it already be Thanksgiving again? Time flies by so fast, it's scary. During previous years, we often traveled. I remember the duck dinner in Prague and the beautiful week in Rome where we had pasta for Thanksgiving. This year we are going to our little cabin in the Sierra Mountains to celebrate with my sister-in-law and her family. It's going to be low-key and relaxing, especially since my brother-in-law will barbecue the turkey and my nephew is a great cook. For Christmas, I will have a full house since I will celebrate with my niece and nephew from Germany and my American family. I am always very happy when I get visitors from Germany because it's during the holidays when I miss them the most.
When it comes to Thanksgiving, each family has their treasured recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. There is Aunt Mary's jello salad and the bean casserole from your grandmother. And let's not forget sweet potato pie. Tell me, what are some of the recipes you make each year? My family tradition is my red cabbage which is liked by everybody, so I will be making it again this year. Click here for the recipe.
Years ago, when I was a vegetarian, I would cook everything but the turkey. The centerpiece would be my stuffing served with mushroom gravy. I apologize for the poor quality of the photos, but they are all from previous Thanksgiving posts. I have been making this shiitake and chestnut stuffing as long as I can remember. Click here for the recipe.
If you are looking for a juicy small bird for Thanksgiving, check out my recipe for dry-brined turkey with silky gravy. I will be making this one for Christmas. Click here for the recipe.
For me, sauces and condiments are just as important as the bird. My cranberry ketchup is a wonderful addition for the holidays and I make it every year. Here is a link to the recipe.
For those of you who don't want to tackle a whole bird, I have a recipe for turkey parts. Here, I brine the parts overnight, which makes for juicy and tasty turkey. If you are interested, click here for the recipe.
Toasted, roasted, baked and done! I hope your Thanksgiving is lots of fun.
Oh, one thing, don't forget to give your compliments to the chef, and help with the dishes afterwards.
Wishing you all a relaxing Thanksgiving feast with good food, family and loved ones. May your home be filled with laughter and happiness.
I really shouldn't do this, instead I should go for a walk to give my old body some exercise before a very long flight. But I just have to share this because fig season is almost over and I love this mustard. Have you noticed that I am running a little behind when it comes to seasonal cooking? Later on, I will try making this recipe using dried figs and add it here.
It all began with a basket of Italian figs that my girlfriend Diane gave me.
This mustard would be great on a cheese plate or on a turkey sandwich. In France, figs and fig mustard is often served with foie gras, and in Germany it is served with a Weißwurst (veal sausage). This is not a sweet mustard, but it is full of flavor with the taste of the figs and a hint of vinegar.
When I was a child, we had several plum trees in our garden. One variety was called Zwetschgen, similar to the prune. Our Zwetschgen tree would overflow with fruit and our family would make Zwetschgenmus (aka spiced plum butter) in a huge copper kettle that was heated by a piece of burning wood from underneath. We would have big glass canning jars with rubber rings in our pantry filled with delicious plum butter.
As children we could not get enough of this sweet, rich and gooey plum butter spread on country bread and topped with schmand. The best way to describe schmand is a fresh cream that is similar to Créme Fraîche or whipping cream. I used greek yogurt on my sandwich .
In this country we call Zwetschgen Italian plums and they are seldom available where I live . You can imagine how happy I was when I found them in a local food stand. I bought all they had and made two different batches of Zwetschgenmus and baked two different cakes.
My Zwetschegenmus is a tartly rich and earthy-tasting fruit butter with a slight taste of cinnamon and allspice. These sour little plums (without much juice or flavor) once baked turn into an amazingly flavorful treat. It’s like the frog that turns into a prince. For the Zwetschgenmus, I chose a recipe from Louisa Weiss’s Classic German Baking book. I have to say it turned out just as good as Helga Papas,’ my village neighbor who has made it for decades in Germany and always shared some with my family. My brother is especially fond of it and I will keep a jar for him to eat when he comes to visit me this year. If you see this little unpretentious plum in a store next to their juicy voluptuous cousins, don’t pass them by. You will not regret it when you have a spoonful of Zwetschgenmus.
I have an everlasting love for Paris. I discover something new every time I go there and fall in love with it all over again. Click over to my wanderlust blog and read about my last trip to Paris. (Sorry for any inconvenience, but my Wanderlust blog doesn’t send emails to notify you of new blog entries.)
As a treat, I will give you an iced coffee drink that was my absolute favorite when I was a young student. This was long before the era of Starbucks & today’s coffee culture. In those days, Europe had café-bakeries. A good cup of coffee was considered a luxury, so many people drank fake coffee (chicory) because the real stuff wasn’t available, especially in East Germany. Giving someone a pound of good coffee was a great gift. At that time, I wasn’t much of a coffee drinker, but I always loved to have an Eiskaffee (cold coffee with ice cream). As a young student, I was living mostly on french fries with mayonnaise (I switched to ketchup when I came to this country) which was sold from stands on every corner. You could also get currywurst, a sausage topped with ketchup and sprinkled with curry and paprika. However, when I had some extra money, I would treat myself to an Eiskaffee in a fancy coffee house. Whenever I am in Germany in the summertime, I revive memories by having this delicious drink. On my last trip to Europe, my friends from Switzerland took us to Lake Konstanze, which borders Switzerland and Germany. We had a lovely outdoor lunch with a view of the lake, and for dessert we ordered Eiskaffee. What a fun afternoon with good food and good friends. I know the hot weather is mostly over, but enjoy this treat anyway with a friend or loved one. It’s a great way to use up leftover cold coffee. Think of it as a coffee milkshake, only better.
All you need is :
a tall glass
1 scoop vanilla ice cream
1 cup or cold coffee
½ cup or less whipped cream
1 tube-shaped wafer cookie (Trader Joe’s has some good ones).
Scoop the vanilla ice cream into a tall glass.
Poor the cold coffee over the ice cream.
Top with whipped cream and a cookie.
You can sweeten your whipped cream or coffee and add some shaved chocolate to garnish.
Guten Appetit, my friends
recipe by ©sunnycovechef.com
When I was in Germany I came across these interesting recipes that I would like to share with you. It’s a yogurt cream that you can also turn into a mousse by adding gelatin. As soon as I was back in my kitchen at home I started to experiment with these recipes and I am happy to say that I am now ready to post them. You can adjust this recipe to your taste by adding more sugar or lemon zest. It is made in minutes, just remember it is not supposed to be sweet. Surprisingly, my husband likes both recipes and he really has a sweet tooth. One night, my other testers preferred the cream. Of course, you can just make the compote and eat it with ice cream. Whatever you choose, I hope you enjoy this treat as much as I do.
The rhubarb compote is sweetened with apple juice and some sugar. Once the rhubarb is cooked the liquid is reduced to a syrup. This is a light and delicious spring dessert.
Rhubarb is a seasonal favorite both in Europe and North America. It is technically a vegetable, but is considered a fruit. Rhubarb stalks will show up in stores and the farmer’s markets from April to June. It comes in in different colors; the ones you find in a store are usually red, but it can also be pale green. It will taste the same despite the different colors. Rhubarb is extremely tart, and is normally cooked and often paired with strawberries or other fruit. Children in Scandinavia will dip the stalk in sugar and eat it raw. The leaves of rhubarb are poisonous, so don't eat them.
Here are some more rhubarb recipes from my previous posts click on the images for the recipes
This Rhubarb Strawberry Hazelnut Crisp is easy to make and I love it, especially with ice cream.
And last but not least let's not forget Robert's delicious Rhubarb-Strawberry Pie
I hope all of you are well my friends and get to sit around the dinner table for a meal to share wherever you are.
Kohlrabi has been a staple of German cuisine for hundreds of years. It was bred as a hardier version of cruciferous vegetables to grow in harsh conditions. In Germany it is a basic staple that everyone knows and can afford. You can find kohlrabi in almost every German garden. Even though I am not usually into trends and food fads, who knows, kohlrabi could be the next kale!
Kohlrabi tastes similar to a broccoli stem, but with the flavor of cabbage—almost like radish crossed with jicama. It has a crisp and crunchy texture when eaten raw. According to the internet, kohlrabi has amazing health claims and is low in calories. It is full of nutrients and minerals like copper, potassium, manganese, iron and calcium, and other vitamins. Kohlrabi promotes digestive health and helps with weight management. Do not mistake kohlrabi for a rutabaga or a turnip. It’s almost impossible to find in California grocery stores.
Kohlrabi is one of the most versatile vegetables around. My husband likes kohlrabi raw, thinly sliced. You can easily add it to any salad or soup. The leaves can be steamed like most greens, although I have not tried that. I was super excited when I found out that “Route 1,” a local organic farm, was selling kohlrabi at the Westside farmer’s market (on Saturday morning) here in Santa Cruz. I bought several bunches last week and two more this week.
My favorite recipe for kohlrabi is the one I made with my mother when would visit her in Germany. Basically, it’s meatballs cooked with kohlrabi in a white sauce. Here’s the link to one of my earliest posts:
I found a vegetarian recipe using kohlrabi on a German website that I liked. The kohlrabi is hollowed out and stuffed with a mixture of spinach and feta cheese. The kohlrabi stays firm and crunchy and compliments the soft stuffing. The sauce is made from the hollowed out kohlrabi meat mixed with the cooking water and some cream. This dish makes an impressive lunch or dinner. I ate it for lunch for a week since I had to work on the recipe and enjoyed it while losing a couple of pounds.
I am on my way to Germany to visit friends and family for two weeks. I hope you all have a wonderful Easter holiday. Here are some previous posts where I celebrated Easter in Germany and some ideas for you to make something special for your loved ones.
These elegant crepes filled with salmon and fennel make a great brunch or dinner. Add a salad and you have a great meal.
Here is a recipe for a nutty lemony cake using whole lemons.
There is nothing fancy about this peasant version of an apple or cherry cake, but you will enjoy every bite of it and not feel guilty. The apples are not thoroughly baked and the cake tastes like pound cake, although I am trying to make it more moist by playing with the recipe. You can enjoy it for breakfast or any time of the day. It is perfect for beginning bakers. If you don’t want to use apples, use cherries. Pitted Morello cherries in a jar can be substituted for apples. I tried frozen cherries but I didn't like them as much as the Morello cherries from Trader Joe's.
This apple or cherry cake is not overly sweet with only ½ cup of sugar but is full of fruit and flavor. I have baked this cake many times and have never gotten tired of it. The recipe is from an old Dr. Oetker cookbook that I brought with me when I came to this country in the seventies. The Dr.Oetker brand is a 100-year-old family-owned business where you can find products like vanilla sugar, puddings or baking powder here in the United States.
My very first cookbooks were three Dr. Oetker cookbooks. For my 16th birthday, my girlfriend Gabrielle, my mom and I made a cold buffet from the title picture of one of the books. I had promised my dad some leftovers, but there was nothing left at the end of the party. To this day, I wish I had put some food away for my sweet, hard-working dad, who will always be the love of my life. He was a gentle and loving man who was born into a horrible time in German history. He loved visiting me here in California and would have stayed longer if my mother hadn’t been homesick for her village.
If you want a richer and pie like German apple cake try my Apple Strudel Cake
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. It means a lot to me and I would love to hear from you .
Comments in English and German are welcome!
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