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
These are your quintessential German meatballs, carefully simmered and served with a tangy white sauce with capers and lemon juice. The sauce is full of flavor, the texture is velvety smooth and the meatballs will melt in your mouth. It is a well-loved dish you will find all over Germany.
My recipe comes from my niece’s husband’s mother, Kerstin, who lives near Berlin and is an excellent cook. I admire her cooking style, simple yet expertly refined through her constant tasting and slowly adding spices. No recipe is needed. I once asked her son to describe her cooking and the answer was Hausmannskost (home cooking).
Kerstin cooked the meatballs when she and her husband visited me in Santa Cruz. I loved watching her slowly perfect the flavor. I tried to take notes, but more than once had to cross out and rewrite. The second and third time I cooked them for my German girlfriends, I got rave reviews—and not one morsel was left.
This dish is named for the Prussian city of Königsberg which is now Kalinigrad in Northern Poland. If you go on the web, you will find many variations for the recipe. Originally, the meatballs were made with veal and either herring or anchovies were added. This dish is traditionally served with boiled potatoes and cooked beets tossed in vinegar. To develop the flavors, cook the meatballs the day before. It is a humble dish and easy to make.
Has it really been two months since I went to Germany in April? I went to visit my family and celebrate Easter with them. After celebrating a wonderful Easter holiday, I left my village and took the train to Lüneburg where my niece and her husband live. After Lüneburg, my niece and I spent a long weekend in Berlin. Read more about it on my Wanderlust blog.
Back in Santa Cruz, I have been cooking up a storm and entertaining four visitors from Germany. We all had a wonderful time. I love playing tour guide because I live in such a beautiful area with so many things to see and do. My niece, her husband, and her in-laws are like family to me. Their favorite meal was steak, which my husband barbecued with baked potatoes and salad. For their welcome meal, I made a turkey dinner. Yes, I served turkey in May and it was delicious. I didn't do the whole bird, just the breast and legs which I had bought at Whole Foods. I made the stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce from cranberries in my freezer. I will post my new turkey recipe at the appropriate time in November. It was a delicious meal and greatly appreciated by all. I made the turkey enchiladas from my blog with the leftovers.
After my visitors left, I bought a crate (about 28 pounds) of apricots and immersed myself in making jam, cobblers, apricot dumplings and an apricot cake. You can find all these recipes on my blog. I had planned to post a new apricot salad recipe, but it needs some work before I can do it. In the meantime, I cooked my fish in parchment paper and it was delicious. Instead of green beans, I used shaved zucchini and added some spring onions. It makes a perfect light summer dinner. For the fish, I used northern wild rockfish which was fresh and reasonably priced.
This is a German strawberry cake that is easy to make and brings out the fruity flavor of strawberries.
On my last trip to Germany I was invited to a birthday celebration of my mother's friend and neighbor, Helga. Our families have been friends as long as I can remember. As a child I used to visit them all the time, sitting in their kitchen and watching the women prepare food. I felt like part of their family. It was a peaceful household where I would go when when I wanted to be somewhere else. Helga was a good friend to my mother and visited her regularly and brought her food. My mom would always tell me on the phone that Helga had brought her some herring salad (one of my mom’s favorites), soup or whatever she’d cooked that day. I am so grateful for the kindness and caring she gave my mother. Helga’s husband, Willie, was my father’s friend and both of them farmed together. My father, a gentle and kind soul, mentored young Willie, who always liked to tease young girls like me. On warm summer nights, with the windows open, he and his friend would lull me to sleep by playing their violins, which made up for the teasing during the day.
Let’s get back to the birthday party and the afternoon coffee and cake. In rural Germany a birthday party usually starts around four in the afternoon with Kaffee and Kuchen (coffee and cake). Later in the evening, a hot meal is served. Sometimes, a savory hot meal is served for lunch and then followed by coffee and cake. For Helga’s birthday, all her friends had baked a fancy cake for her occasion. Of course I had to sample each of them and they were all delicious. I managed to get some of the recipes and hope to post them in the future when I have more time—and strawberries are not in season.
For this post, I chose a common German cake that can be bought in almost any German supermarket, already baked (like a piecrust in this country). I don't care much for the commercial variety, preferring to bake my own. These cakes are called Tortenboden or Obstkuchenboden (try to pronounce that!) which translated means “the bottom for a cake” like you would use for a strawberry shortcake. This cake has fluted edges and the bottom is indented to create an edge. I used a Chef Tell dessert pan by Nordic Ware. I often use it to make flan. Any cake pan will do, and it will taste just as good. Once you bake this shortcake, you can be creative and use any fresh fruit you want. I remember way back when my aunt made it with kiwis and it was delicious. In my recipe I decided to use vanilla pudding for the bottom. Creme anglaise would be fantastic but I wanted to keep it simple and easy to make. Personally, I think it is just as good with a layer of strawberry jam. My husband preferred the one with the custard. In Germany, the cake is covered with a glaze that you can buy. Here in the US, you can buy Dr. Oetker’s glaze for fresh fruit tarts at Cost Plus or Walmart. It comes in small individual packages. I made my own glaze by using some sweetened strawberry/rhubarb juice that I cooked and thickened with pectin. Even though the glaze is traditionally used, I think you can do without it. What makes this cake even tastier is a dollop of Schlag (whipped cream). I sprinkled a handful of slivered almonds over my cake and added some blueberries for color.
My German visitors enjoyed my baked shrimp with quinoa and peas. Its a great dish for warmer days.
Strawberries are in season right now. Here are some recipes from my blog. Click on the photo to see the recipe.
This salad reminds me of a Waldorf salad because of the apples and walnuts. And the Parmesan dressing reminds me of a Caesar salad. But the ginger-flavored shrimp is what turns this salad into an entire meal. All you need is some rustic country bread and a glass of chardonnay.
I may make this for my next book club meeting. Speaking of my book club, we have read some interesting books lately which I would have never chosen on my own. We even saw a fun play called “The Book Club” by Karen Zacarias. One the books that got rejected in our bookclub was The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. I just started to read it and I love it. This book is a bestseller in Germany.
Celeriac, also known as celery root, turnip root, or knob celery is a variety of celery cultivated for its edible root. It has a strong flavor like a cross between celery and parsley. The BBC describes the celery root as an unsung hero with a subtle, celery-like flavor, with nutty overtones. I like that description. Don't throw the green leaves away because they give any stock a wonderful flavor and freeze nicely. Celeriac, a common vegetable in Germany, is often sold as part of a soup stock bundle. You usually get a couple of carrots, a leek, some parsley and part of a celery root with the green leaves tied together. All you have to do is throw it in with some chicken (and the bones) and you end up with some great chicken stock. My mom always cooked the whole celeriac with the peel in boiling water until it was soft.
How many of you my dear readers have walked by this gnarly root in the supermarket hardly looking at it? And if you did, did your ask yourself, what can I do with this funny looking thing? There are many recipes to choose from: a gratin, a purée, a soup or just adding it as a vegetable to different dishes like mashed potatoes. In France, it is often used as a remoulade. I love my celeriac in salads, not raw but blanched for no more than a minute in boiling water. I remember eating a celeriac root salad for Sunday dinner in Germany. It was made with a sour cream dressing. My recipe comes from a German magazine, although I changed it a bit.
I made this salad for the first time over a year ago and invited my friend Deb from
East of Eden Cooking. She made most the photos for this post. Thank you, Deb!
Celeriac is supposed to have some healing properties. It might help you with arthritis, rheumatism and with stomach or digestive problems. A cup of celeriac has only 60 calories and provides a perfect non-starch substitute for potatoes. And it can be prepared similarly.
Here is a recipe for a delicious and easy to make shrimp soup with celeriac from the town of Hamburg in Germany. Click here for the soup recipe.
Rouladen or Rinderrouladen is a quintessential German meat dish made with bacon, onions and pickles wrapped in thinly sliced beef. The gravy is an absolute requirement to round out this dish. It is usually served with boiled potatoes, potato dumplings, or Spätzle (depending on the region). I like red cabbage with my Rouladen, but you can serve it with any vegetable you like. The dish was once considered a recipe for common folk, but today it is enjoyed by many people as a festive dish or a special Sunday meal. Imagine braised meat flavored with mustard, pickles, prosciutto, enhanced by a rich gravy. If you like that, than Rouladen is the dish for you.
My love affair with Rouladen began here in the United States when Susanne, my friend and neighbor and an excellent cook, started making it for me. This dish is the best cure when I get homesick for Germany. It’s like soul food imbedded into my DNA. It’s not fancy or delicate, but homey and nourishing. I can’t wait to sit at Susanne’s inviting table and start eating.
There are many recipes for Rinderroulden (beef roll-ups), but I enjoy Susanne’s the best. She uses thinly sliced prosciutto that she buys at Trader Joe’s (instead of bacon) as well as cornichons (gherkin pickles). The butcher slices a piece of London broil into 1/8 inch thin slices. I find that this dish develops more flavor when made a day ahead.
My recipe for red cabbage ( here is the link for the recipe) goes well with Rouladen. Susanne serves boiled potatoes that she flavors with melted butter and parsley. Thank you Susanne, for being my friend and taking care of me for so many years.
For dessert I recommend something light and lemony like my lemon mouse, lemon pudding cake, or my lemon and buttermilk sorbet. Click on the photo for the recipe.
This creamy, cloud-like mousse is a traditional German dessert called Zitronenspeise (lemon dish). It is the perfect ending to a heavy meal and a melt-in-your-mouth heavenly dessert.
Traditionally, it is made with cream, eggs and lemon juice. After several trials, I made a lighter version using yogurt and less cream and sugar. There are several ways to serve this lemon dessert, either in individual serving bowls or in one large bowl. I like to serve it spooned onto a plate with a raspberry sauce and some added seasonal fruits. Since it is now October, I baked some plums with honey added. But any seasonal fruit is fine. Of course, this dessert is great just be itself without anything extra.
At the end of July my friend Debra who writes a blog called “East of Eden” and I attended the 2016 International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC) in Sacramento, CA. We enjoyed a wonderful weekend filled with excursions to local farms, some great break-out sessions, and a spectacular outdoor dinner. One evening, vendors from local restaurants, food suppliers and businesses introduced us to their products, one of them being pasteurized eggs from “Davidson’s Safest Choice Eggs.” Read how the eggs are being pasteurized here, which includes a cute video. Now that I found these eggs, I don't have to worry using raw eggs when I serve this dessert to my friends and family.
I am entering my recipe in a contest that Davidson’s Safest Choice Eggs has offered to bloggers who participated in either the IFBC conference, Eat Write Blog or Blog Brulee to develop a recipe using their eggs. Because I received a discount to attend the IFBC , I agreed to write three posts about the conference. For the record, all my opinions expressed are my own
It's fall and I should be posting my pear tart recipe. Instead, I bought three beautiful baskets of delicious strawberries from my friend Ronald at the local farmer's market. They are so good that we ate half of them while listening to music during our weekly get-together at the market. Each Sunday when I am in town, I meet with some friends over lunch with at the market. It has become a lovely and relaxing Sunday ritual that I really enjoy.
The strawberries from Ronald are sweet with an earthy flavor. They are good just by themselves, but I thought I fancy them up a little with vanilla sauce. It is a simple and straightforward recipe, yet so delicious – and a healthy ending to any meal. My husband decided to grill a steak since the temperature reached over 90 degrees here on the Pacific coast. After a foggy and cold summer, this was a welcome respite.
Vanilla sauce brings back memories from my childhood days. Almost every Sunday, we would have pudding for our Sunday lunch (which was dinner served at noon). We ate bread and spreads in the evening and called it Abenbrot, which literally means “the bread for the evening.” Our favorite pudding was Götterspeise (translates as “the meal of the gods”) known as Jello here in the US. Jello is also called Wackelpudding, meaning that the pudding will wobble when touched or moved. Another favorite dessert of mine is rote Grütze (red fruit Jello). My mom always would serve these puddings with vanilla sauce. I apologize for boring you with all of of this, but trust me, I have not thought of them for years. Maybe that’s why I like blogging, because it brings back so many memories. My sweet dad loved these puddings. He has been gone for so long, but I believe that chocolate pudding with vanilla sauce was his favorite. He was such a sweet and kind man.
Back to the sauce! It is light, healthy, easy to make with a velvety texture and creamy flavor. It will elevate any fresh fruit– strawberries, raspberries or simple puddings–to another level. You can make it in no time and be creative by serving a cookie on the side, some ice cream or whatever tickles your fancy. This time, I just sliced the strawberries and added some of the sauce. Enjoy!
Just in case you are longing for some apple or pear cakes, here is my well loved apple strudel cake, as well as a delicious chunky pear nut cake flavored with spices and juicy pears. Click on the picture to get the recipe.
Perfect for Picnics & Parties
This potato salad is one of my favorite recipes—I created every bite of it myself. So, if you don't like it, you have only me to blame. I have used this recipe for decades, and it’s perfect for picnics, large parties or any small gathering. There is no mayonnaise, so it won't go bad if left out on the table for awhile. When I have a large summer party, I usually make this salad (or my Chinese noodle salad), both go well with salmon, chicken or any other protein. It makes a stunning presentation.
This salad has several components. I use small white potatoes that I steam, and then add some steamed green beens and radishes. Pickled onions or pickled carrots are delicious as well. You can let your imagination and taste buds run wild. Shortly before serving, I arrange everything on a large bed of mixed lettuce. Many moons ago, when I was snooping around kitchens in Germany, a farm woman told me to slowly heat up the vinaigrette—and that's what I've been doing ever since.
If you make this, I hope you enjoy it as much as my friends and family have.
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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