Thursday, June 23, 2011

Maultaschen: Feed Bags...wait whaaaa?

Thats right, the German to English translation for Maultaschen is "mouth (or feed) bags." Sounds kind of gross, but never judge a dish by its name! I was in Germany last summer, Tuebingen to be exact in the southwest kind of near Stuttgart for a friend's wedding. Well, we had a ton of free time and since I wasn't staying with a family this time I figured it would be a little more difficult to find where to go for authentic German cuisine, in Germany ha. It was only difficult because it had been years and years since I was in Tuebingen, and even still I don't remember being there 10 years ago!

Anyways, we had a free day to explore the city and all it has to offer. During our very very long walk, I was starting to scope out all of the restaurants and everything souned so good. It was difficult to pick just one place, but finally I did. We actually ended up at the same place that we had been previous days before having a beer. Across the street was one of my FAVORITE things to eat, Doener Kebap, but I really just wanted German food...even better, Swabian!

After looking at the menu and translating what I knew, I decided to go with something that I wasn't too sure about, and that happened to be Maultaschen! I know I had heard of it, but I couldn't remember what exactly it was. When the plate arrive I wanted to cry, it looked and smelled amazing. It was two large 'ravioli' and a pile of german potato salad. Inside the ravioli is a spiced meat mixture with a very light gravy over the top. This was one of the best meals I had in Germany.

I've come up with a recipe which I have made twice since last summer using won ton wrappers as the noodle. I mean, if you want to make the noodle yourself, by all means go for it, but I am lazy.

1 tb butter
6 strips medium-lean bacon, cut into cubes
3 md onions, diced
1/4 lb fresh sausage meat (sweet Italian sausage)
1 hard roll, without crust, and best when stale
1/2 lb frozen spinach
1/2 lb ground meat or smoked sausage
1 c Bauernbratwurst or leftover roast, stew meat, etc., diced (really, anything!)
3 eggs
3 tb to 4 tb chopped fresh parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 egg
3 tb milk

Melt the butter in a skillet and fry the bacon with the onions until translucent. Combine the bacon mixture with the sausage meat. Moisten the roll in water, press dry. Put every thing in a food processor, I mean, everything and lightly combine it. Then fold in the eggs, parsley, and seasonings; mix together.
Take a whiff, this recipe smells as delicious as it tastes!

So take your wonton wrapper, and put quite a bit of mixture in the middle, fold in half, into a rectangle. Next, fold all of the sides over slightly and press with a fork to ensure the filling doesn't fall out during cooking.

and this is the home made version
To cook, I usually boil some broth because I like to eat it like a dumpling. You will need to cook these for some time, maybe 10 minutes in boiling water or more. Test for doneness by pressing on it, should be firm when ready. Serve in a bowl with broth spooned over, or if you want to make it very pretty like the pic I took above, serve with my german potato salad!

If you don't dare or care to try, then come over and I will feed it to you, and you will love it!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Israeli and Not So Israeli Chopped Salad

I love salads of all kinds, especially when produce is in season. Even if not, this salad I am about to share with you is great all the time, its healthy and super easy! Actually, I am going to give you two versions. The first one is just a simple chopped cucumber and tomato salad. If you have to bring something to a pot luck or BBQ this summer, try this salad. Also, its much easier to eat than traditional lettuce salads too!

Here is what you need:

1 long cucumber (I use european seedless ALL the time)
2 vine ripened tomatoes or heirlooms
1/2 red small onion
Your favorite italian dressing

Chop the cucumber and tomato in bite sized pieces. You may want to very gently squeeze some of the juice from the tomato. Throw it all in a bowl and pour just a little bit of the italian dressing over the salad and stir gently. The salad is best when it can marinate for a couple hours, but is still delicious when eaten right away.

Now, the variation I am about to share come from an awesome friend of mine, Dahlia. I actually just met her for the first time in like 11 years or so this past weekend and I am now super excited to introduce this recipe to you, with love of course!

It is a basic Israeli salad, same as above but omit the dressing. Chop an avocado the same way and this time you will want to saute the onion in some olive oil AND add some freshly chopped onion to the salad.

USA Grown Pardina Lentils, Spanish Brown by Palouse Brand -5 LBSSo anyways, you have everything in a bowl, but what makes this a hearty and healthy side dish (or even a meal) are lentils. I use the regular brown lentils that you can buy in any store. They are pretty cheap and can be found amongst the other dried legumes, because technically a lentil is a legume. Boil the lentil according to the package but do not over or under cook, you will know they are ready when they hold shape, but you can easily chew them. Add the lentils to the salad, add the sauteed onion, salt and pepper and squeeze a couple fresh limes over the salad and gently mix. DELICIOUS.

1 cucumber chopped
2 tomatoes chopped
1 onion chopped and sauteed
1 small red onion chopped
1-2 avocados chopped (sprinkle with lime juice right away)
1/2 cup brown lentils

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Kitchen Tools: Peelers

I wasn't kidding when I tell you that I have almost every kitchen tool or gadget you can think of. I've pooled together all of the peelers I could find, because, yes I really do use all of them. In the photo, you'll see a variety of peelers, but I think in the real world you could find many other kinds in addition to these.

So when do you use which peeler!? Well, I use the traditional peelers for carrots and potatoes. You don't need anything fancy (2nd from left AND the last one on the right). In fact, using a fancy peeler on something so small really makes the job harder. For example, if I were to use the peeler 2nd in from the right on a potato, I might end up cutting my wrists. It's just not worth it. However, I do use that particular peeler for peeling eggplant. It allows you to hold the eggplant with one hand and since it is long enough, you start from the top and peel toward you. Much easier than using a knife and the traditional peeler, in the end, use it to peel long vegetables.

What's that, did someone say knife? Yeah, I added a paring knife to the picture, the reason is that when peeling apples, this really is one of the easiest things to use. Forget all the others, they just don't pierce the tough skin as easily.  I do however, have a lovely apple peeler contraption that I will save for another day. It is pretty awesome and allows you to peel an apple in seconds...again that is for another day. For now, just use the paring knife.

Also, the wooden handle is an apple corer/some kind of peeler. Pretty neat eh? I am sure at one point it was, but the peeler is too dull for apples, maybe its ok for carrots, and MAAAYBBBEEE if you are creative you can use this one to make neat garnishes (which I haven't mastered yet, but one day!)

What is that strange looking one all the way to the left? Ohh...that is a citrus zester! It allows you to peel the skin of a citrus, so if a recipe calls for lemon zest, this baby is your tool. It peels in strips and just deep enough to get all of the mouth watering flavors while avoiding the horridly bitter white pith (the white membrane between citrus peels and the actual fruit). I seriously use this ALL the time, its much easier than using a grater.

I think that about sums it up. I hope you were able to follow the puzzle which is my rambling on, but I do also hope you've learned something helpful. And, no recipe today mehhhh!