Monday, March 28, 2011

Beefin' it up German styyyyyle

Let us take a little trip down memory lane where I was first introduced to really awesome German food. Back in the day, I traveled to Germany with a friend of mine and we stayed with our friends in a tiny town called Holzgerlingen and then one time in Berlin, where we had rouladen for the first time. What was awesome is our German Mutti cooked for us every day so we got to try so many different foods that we don't have here like leberkäse, sauerbraten, rotkohl, maultaschen, schnitzel, sausages of every kind, cheese!! Oh my I want it all! One dish that I found fairly easy to replicate (and even won the hearts of my Germans when I cooked for them last summer in Tübingen!) is a lovely meat roll called "rouladen," sounds much nicer in German I think!

Actually, lets talk about how much fun one can have in a German market. First, if you don't speak German, it can be daunting at first, but what a fun adventure! I found that much of the products in the grocery stores are far cheaper than here in America. A jar of mustard was only 29 cents (euro cents that is), cold cuts galore (Aufschnitte). Always remember to bring your reusable bag and extra luggage!

So, lets get into the filling. It is fairly easy to make, all you need are a few slices are thinly sliced beef, some good dijon mustard or Senf, pickle spears (I really like Hengstenberg brand), bacon strips and salt and pepper. 

First step is cook the bacon slightly in a pan, but don't throw out the fat! Cook it just enough so that its cooked but not crispy. Next you will want to spread the beef slices with the mustard, place the bacon on top of that and then add a pickle spear. Tightly roll the beef roulade and secure with toothpicks at the seam. At this point you can choose to dredge the rouladen in flour or not, I like to do it as it adds a nice sear on the meat. Add each roulade to the pan with the bacon fat and cook on all sides until brown, then take out of the pan and set aside. In the pan you will want to add more fat and some flour to create a roux, stirring frequently and making sure as to not to burn the paste. Ok, so I cheat in the next step, whatever. Whisk in some store bought chicken or beef broth until the paste is thoroughly dissolved. Add salt and pepper to the sauce and then add your roulade. You will want to allow these to simmer for quite a while so that they become very tender and easy to cut through. One little thing I do that might be different is adding a bit of red wine to the it ever delish!

When the rouladen are ready, you can serve with knödel (potato dumplings) or boiled red potatoes and a side of rotkohl (red cabbage with apples) as shown below. The last thing you need to do is ENJOY this simply delicious German meal!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

BRRRREEEEAAAADDDDDDD!!! Zombies are carbo loading!

Boy am I freezing tonight! I am snuggled in my electric blue snuggie, thinking about what else other than food. I made a loaf of bread, which is divviiiiinnneeeee on a cold day like today, and not only does it taste delicious but it makes the whole house smell amazing. I found a recipe for whole grain wheat bread, but it uses a lot vital wheat gluten which is now readily available in almost all grocery stores. I honestly don't know what is so "vital" about it but boy does it sure make a difference when not using white flour. The gluten helps the dough to rise, gives it a nice chewy texture and makes the dough more elastic. Basically if you try to bake whole wheat bread without added gluten, you'll end up with a meh bread, meaning it will be thick, dense and just not as enjoyable. See all the holes in that loaf? That was due to the high amount of gluten I used, if I had left it out or used much less, then there would be much smaller and almost no holes.

1 cup warm water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large egg
1 cup vital wheat gluten
2/3 cup white whole wheat flour (love this stuff!)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 flax seeds (ground)
1 packet yeast
1 tbsp granulated sugar  or honey
3 tsp salt


1. Proof the yeast in the warm water and sugar about 10-15 minutes.
2. Add oil, egg, salt and wheat gluten, whisk til smooth and let sit for a couple minutes. The yeast should make the gluten a bit bubbly.
3. Add the flours and flax seeds, mix thoroughly, you may need to use your hands! Knead the dough about 5 minutes until everything is thoroughly mixed and the dough is no longer sticking to everything. If you feel that you need more flour, add a little in a tablespoon at a time. 

4. Form into a ball and allow to rise a few hours in a warm place. When the dough has doubled in size you can punch it down and knead some more, it really is quite relaxing! To knead, fold the dough over and use the heel of your hand and puush forward, repeat! Again, form into another ball and let rise for an hour or so until it is quite large again.
5. Get the oven started! About 350F. Oil a pan, ugh I only have glass, but it works. I would prefer to cook bread in a stainless steel pan as it will give a much crispier crust.
6. Place the dough in the pan, stretch it out enough so that the dough fills the pan. You can even let the dough rise again  (which I always do) so that it fills the pan nicely and when baked, produces a high and airy loaf.
7. Lastly, bake for about 40 minutes or until nicely browned. Allow to cool in the pan and then turn it out on a rack. You could slice it right now and slather some delicious european butter on it if you are impatient like me or you could wait til cooled (no fun).

Tip time! Buy a bread knife if you don't already have one. A bread knife is long with large teeth and allows you to easily cut through the crust of a loaf without crushing the airy bread that you spent so much time baking. I got mine at an asian grocery store for like $5 and it has allowed me to cut perfect thickness slices!