Monday, March 29, 2010


At last we have arrived at our first South Asian country. I was very excited about this because not much curry gets served in this apartment due to Amy's tender palate. So this was quite the occasion for me. Much like its neighbors, Bangladesh is well known for a cuisine of rich and hearty curries that are heavy on spices. The curries of Bangladesh are unique with their blend of native Bengali cooking styles and savory meaty Mughal fare. I could go on and on with a modern history lesson of the country, but I'll do my best to keep this simple and stick to the food. A few paragraphs wouldn't give this country's diverse history any justice.

The first thing that I noticed when serving our Bangladeshi meal was that everything on the plate was a perfect shade of yellow. I'm not sure if this is because of the cookbooks I used, but every recipe had a very large amount of turmeric. Maybe I just planned my menu poorly. Fortunately nobody seemed to mind that all of their food was big bird yellow. I'm sure, however, that there must be plenty of non-yellow Bangladeshi food. Despite the monochromatic color scheme, the food turned out pretty great!

Mashed Dal

Not much to making a good pot of lentil goo. The real trick to this dish is finding the Nigella seeds which I've only had luck finding at large Indian markets in Chicago. They're sometimes labeled as black cumin and are well worth seeking out. They provide a smoky herbal flavor to the beans that I cannot find any substitution for.

1 cup red lentils
2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp sugar
2 bay leaves
1 tsp nigella seeds (black cumin)
2 tbsp butter
5 cups water

1. Wash the lentils in water and drain thoroughly.
2. Put the lentils in a 3 quart pot, add the five cups of water and bring the mixture to the boil. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat to low and add the turmeric and cayenne. Cover and cook for 1 hour. After all that cooking the lentils should be a goopy puree.
3. In a small frying pan melt the butter and add the sugar, bay leaves, and nigella. Fry these for a minute or until the spices are browned and fragrant.
4. Add the mixture to the lentils, stir and set aside for ten minutes to thicken. Serve at once.

Cauliflower Curry

I love this recipe because aside from the ginger and the cauliflower, most of the ingredients are basic pantry items that never go bad and are always on hand. Also it's a great way to feed vegetarian friends when the meal has a lot of meat.

1 head cauliflower
2 russet potatoes peeled and quartered
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground red pepper
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chopped ginger
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp butter
1.5 cups water
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp corn oil
1/2 tsp corn starch
2 tbsp water
Salt to taste

1. Heat the corn oil in a large heavy pot and add the potatoes and cauliflower along with the spices. Fry this for about five minutes or until the vegetables begin to brown. Stir this frequently to ensure that nothing burns.
2. Add the water, sugar, and bay leaves. Raise to a simmer and cook covered for 15 minutes or until the vegetable are fully cooked.
3. Before serving, stir the starch with the 2 tbsp water and add to the cauliflower raise to a high heat and reduce the sauce to a thick gravy. Salt to taste and serve.

Chicken Korma

Their are thousands of ways to make this dish and most of them are delicious. The dish has it's roots in Central Asian Mughal cooking and can be found anywhere from Afghanistan to Malaysia. I recommend giving it a try and seeing why it's so popular.

1 tsp saffron threads
1 tbsp rosewater
2 tbsp tap water
2 small white onions halved
1 inch ginger peeled and chopped roughly
4 cloves garlic
2 large onions thinly sliced
2 russet potatoes peeled and quartered
1 liter corn oil for frying.
1 tbsp butter
4 tbsp corn oil
1 stick cinnamon
5 whole green cardamom pods crushed
1 chicken cut into serving pieces
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp mace
1/2 cup yogurt
3/4 cup milk
Salt to taste

1. Soak the saffron in the tap water and rosewater and set aside.
2. Heat pot of oil and add the sliced large onion and fry until browned and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside to dry on a paper towel or wire rack.
3. Add the potatoes to the frying oil and fry until lightly browned about 5-7 minutes. Remove and set aside with the onions. Strain the oil after it cools and set it aside for your next deep frying adventure.
4. In a blender combine the small onions with the ginger, garlic, and 4 tbsp water. Blend to a smooth paste.
5. Heat the 4 tbsp of oil and 1 tbsp of butter in a deep pot over medium heat and add the crushed cardamom and cinnamon. Heat until the spices are fragrant.
6. Add the blended paste and fry this for five minutes until it is browned.
7. Add the chicken to the pot and fry for another minute. Now begin adding the yogurt a tablespoon at a time stirring often to prevent it from curdling. Reduce the heat if the yogurt begins to burn. After all the yogurt has been added add the milk, nutmeg, mace, fried onions, and potatoes. Raise to a simmer, and cover and cook for 25 minutes over low heat.
8. Before serving add the rosewater and saffron mixture. Gently heat the mixture for a further five minutes and serve with rice or flatbread.

Beef Tehari

I sent out a message to a Bangladeshi friend of mine from college and asked what he thought I should make for this meal. His answer was this dish. It's very similar to many Indian biryani rice and meat dishes, but it's even heavier on the spices and sauciness much like a Jambalaya or Paella. I loved it. Thanks, Kazi!

2 lbs stew beef cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 cup onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 inch piece of ginger chopped roughly
1 tsp cumin seed powdered
1 tsp coriander seed powdered
2 yellow onions thinly sliced
2 sticks cinnamon
8 cloves
4 cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
2 jalapenos seeded
1/2 cup butter
2.5 cups basmati rice
Salt to taste

1. Combine the onion, garlic, turmeric, ginger, cumin, and coriander in a food processor with a cup of water and grind until all ingredients are more or less liquefied.
2. Simmer the beef gently in this liquid for the next hour or so stirring the mix every so often to prevent burning. A cast iron enamel pot is ideal for this dish.
3. In a large frying pan melt the butter and fry the onions over medium low heat until they are nearly browned. Add the remaining spices and cook for about 3 minutes or until they give off a strong smell.
4. Add the basmati to the mix and cook for another five minutes stirring constantly until the rice begins to turn translucent.
and cinnamon. Fry until fragrant.
5. Add five cups of water, salt to taste, raise to a simmer, cover and cook for 25 minutes.
6. Serve.


For me, this meal was a plate of yellow tastiness. It felt great being able to throw on the spices more liberally than I generally get a chance to attempt in my home. Unfortunately It had been a while since I had last dumped this many spice in my food, and I ended up with an upset tummy. Still, it was well worth it for me. Up next is the Comoros! Good luck finding out where that is!

Monday, March 15, 2010


Most of what I know about Rwanda I have learned from either NPR or Don Cheadle. Genocide aside, Rwanda these days is becoming quite the success story. The average income has just about tripled in the last ten years and it is now considered a much safer country with a model government. Among African nations, Rwanda's government is seen as one of the most honest and efficient. They are also making a pretty penny from tourism, mainly due to their rare primate populations. Mountain gorillas are actually the number one attraction. Not too shabby, Rwanda.

For this meal, we decided to do some dishes that didn't make it into Uganda. These countries are very similar in their eating habits due to proximity and shared cultures.


This was our time consuming item of the meal. It seems as though we always have one thing we make per country that we debate on making or not because of time constraints. They always are worth it in the end though, and this was no exception. Samosas make a perfect appetizer and a crowd pleaser.

For the dough:

2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1.5 cups flour
2 tsp salt
2 tablespoons corn oil
1 cup water
1/2 cup lemon juice

1. Put all the ingredients into a mixer, processor, or bowl and and knead the ingredients together until a smooth ball is formed.
2. Set aside for 30 minutes in a large covered bowl.
3. Cut the dough into 12 equal sized balls.
4. Roll each ball into a 1/4 inch thick circle about 6 inches across.
5. Place a generous amount of filling inside each circle. Place a bit of water around the edges and fold over to seal.
6. Deep fry the samosas and serve immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree oven.

For the filling:

1 russet potato boiled and chopped
1 onion minced
1 carrot peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
1 cup peas
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tbsp lime juice
Salt to taste

1. Saute the vegetables in a small saucepan in a bit of corn oil for ten minutes over medium.
2. Add the coconut milk and simmer for five minutes.
3. Top with the lime juice and taste for salt.

Fruit and Rice Salad

This dish is the food pyramid's dream. Fruit, grain, vegetables, and lentils combined sounds like an odd concoction but it proves to be filling and delightful. Plus, as you will see below, it's really simple to throw together.

3 cups long grain rice cooked, rinsed, and dried
1/2 pineapple cut into small pieces
1 red onion roughly chopped
2 tomatoes roughly chopped
1 cup cooked red lentils
3 cups tangerine slices
1 cup chopped cilantro
2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lime juice
2 serrano chiles chopped seeds removed according to taste
Salt to taste

Make sure the rice has drained thoroughly and then simply combine everything in a large bowl. Taste for seasoning and serve.

Isombe: Greens and vegetables cooked in a peanut sauce

A great many posts ago, I mentioned that we could not seem to find cassava leaves in the city. Well, we found them due north of us and it was a wonderful thing. This city never ceases to amaze us when our food needs seem somewhat unreasonable. Thank you, Chicago.

1 lb cassava leaves cooked and pureed
1 lb collared greens ribs removed and chopped into manageable pieces
2 serrano chiles chopped (I removed the seeds from one)
1 cup ground peanuts
1/2 cup palm oil
Salt to taste

1. In a pot combine the greens with all the ingredients and just enough water to cover.
2. Bring to a boil and add the remaining ingredients.
3. Boil the mixture down to a thick sauce that covers the wilted greens and serve.

Meat and Eggplant Skewers with a yogurt turmeric sauce

We found some cheap ground turkey at the African market and although it's not the most authentic way, it was a little healthier and our guests were none the wiser.

For the Meatballs:
2 lbs ground beef
2 lbs ground turkey
2 eggs
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground pepper
2 tbsp salt

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Roll a test meatball and fry in a skillet. Taste for seasoning and then proceed to pack the rest of the meat into meatballs.

For the eggplant:

1 large round globe eggplant

Cut the eggplant into 1 inch chunks. Salt the eggplant and set aside in a colander for 20 minutes to tenderize. Rinse the salt from the eggplant pieces of salt and dry thoroughly.

Now combine everything on bamboo or metal skewers. If you use bamboo soak them a day ahead so they don't burn. Then grill or bake on a greased pan at about 350 for twenty minutes to a half hour making sure to turn the skewers halfway through the cooking process. Serve with yogurt sauce.

For the Yogurt Sauce

2 cups yogurt
2 cloves garlic chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp pepper
1 serrano chile
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt

Combine the following ingredients in a bowl and serve alongside the skewers.

Baked Plantains

One of the easier desserts to make, baked plantains are all about making sure your plantains are aged and sweet. The blacker the peel, the sweeter the plantain. In the future, I may use rum instead of brandy, but that was all we had on hand.

6 plantains
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1. Cut ends off plantains, peel and cut lengthwise.
2. Melt butter and stir in brandy, brown sugar and cinnamon.
3. Put in a casserole dish and roll plantains in mixture until all sides are covered. Place cut side of plantain down in the dish.
4. Bake covered with foil for 45 minutes at 375 degrees. You should probably take them out and turn them a few times while baking.
5. Add salt if desired and serve.


Turmeric, turmeric and more turmeric. We definitely used all the turmeric from our spice rack vile, plus some more. Besides the danger of staining all the clothes you are wearing permanently, the turmeric added nothing but positive flavors to our Rwandan meal.

Rwanda is much more than meets the eye. It seems as though modern day Rwanda is breaking away from their unfortunate past and making a new name for itself. If their food culture is any indication of this rebranding, I think they will do just fine.

Next up, Bangladesh. Until then, dusangire karyohe!

Monday, March 8, 2010


The history of Uruguay began with the 500 day Argentina-Brazil War in the 1820's for control of their border region. The war ended in a stalemate and a compromise. The border region that had been fought over was transformed, thanks to the coercion of the British, into the independent state of Uruguay. Despite being the second smallest nation on the continent, Uruguay is one of the most affluent countries in South America. Much like Argentina, Uruguay remains very old world in it's culture. The overwhelming majority of Uruguayans are descendants of past waves of European immigrants. Much like it's population, the food of Uruguay is also an offspring of European culture.

To be honest, we did not find many differences between the foods of Uruguay and Argentina. Both countries claim many of the same foods as their national dishes. Fortunately, there were a lot of foods I wished I had the chance to make when we did Argentina. Uruguay provided the perfect opportunity to cook what we didn't get the chance to make last time around.

Burnt Carrot Salad

Uruguay isn't well known for any vegetable dishes, so we just made this one up to compliment all the roasted food we were eating. I find roasted carrots to have a sweet and savory flavor that goes great with any meaty meal.

1 head red leaf lettuce washed and chopped
2 pounds carrots peeled and cut into fairly thick 2 inc spears
4 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion thinly sliced
1/2 cup shelled pumpkin seeds (I have no idea how to shell these things effectively with my hands, but many latino markets sell them preshelled)
1 bell pepper seeded and sliced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Fire up the broiler or the grill and rub the chopped carrots with five tablespoons of olive oil and cook until they are nicely browned and soft. Set aside to cool.
2. Shortly before serving combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and taste for seasoning. Feel free to add more olive oil or vinegar.

Polenta Gratin
This recipe was probably made popular by the many Italians who immigrated to Uruguay. It's absurdly simple to make, and involves very few ingredients; making it a great cheap way to feed a large crowd guests.

2 cups coarsely cut corn meal
6 cups water
1 tbsp salt
1.5 cups cotija or other crumbly cheese

1. Combine corn meal, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
2. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.
3. Grease a fairly shallow casserole dish with the butter and add the corn mush to the pan. Allow 15 minutes to set in the dish.
4. Top the mush with the cheese and bake under a broiler until the cheese browns about ten minutes.
5. Serve.

Bacon Empanadas

No picture for these this time, but they looked exactly like the empanadas we made for Argentina. The filling in these empanadas make them quite different from what we served for that meal. Although bacon and raisins might sound like a horrible mistake to some, let me assure you that bacon is a sweet meat that tastes great when paired with other sweet things.

For the dough

4 cups all purpose flour
1 egg
1 cup lard chilled
1 tsp salt
1 beaten egg for coating

For the filling combine the following:

1/2 pound bacon thinly sliced and roughly chopped and cooked in a skillet until crisp
3 medium onions thinly sliced and and sautéed until golden brown
4 cloves garlic finely chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins soaked 30 minutes
Flesh of two avocados roughly chopped
1 cup crumbly cheese such as cotija or feta
3 tbsp capers

1. Combine all the dough ingredients but the beaten egg in a food processor and process until a smooth ball forms. If it remains a goopy mess add more flour until a ball is rendered.
2. On a lightly floured surface kneed the ball of dough until it is no longer sticky.
3. Set aside for a half hour in a lightly oiled bowl covered.
4. Cut the dough into golf ball sized spheres and roll each sphere into flat circle.
5. Fill each circle with about 2 tablespoons of the filling.
6. Brush the edges of the circle with the beaten egg mixture and seal them into half moon shapes pressing the edges to make sure they are closed.
7. Brush the tops of the pastry with the egg mixture and bake in a 400 degree oven for twenty minutes. Serve.

Matambre: Roast of Stuffed Skirt Steak Braised in Red Wine

For me, this was the real star of the meal. It's difficult finding good quality beef around my neighborhood for a reasonable price, but fortunately skirt steak sells fairly cheaply here because of the large Latino population. Unfortunately, the meat is cheap for a reason and tends to be very tough. The slow braising in this recipe breaks that toughness down and makes the cheap beef a pleasure to eat, and a great way to feed a group of friends a roast while staying on a tight budget. Also, the final product looks lovely on a plate.

4 lbs skirt steak trimmed of excess fat
2 red onions thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic finely chopped
1/2 cup green olives stoned and chopped
4 carrots cut into small spears
1.5 cups cotija or other crumbly cheese
4 hard boiled eggs cut into rings
5 oz fresh spinach washed
Bottle of red (dry)

1. Divide the skirt steak into two equal sized 2lb portions. With a meat mallet pound the skirt steak until it is about 1/2 inch thick taking care not to shred the meat. I recommend wearing an apron as you do this because it can get messy. I for some reason did it shirtless like a caveman.
2. Salt and pepper both sides of the steak and layer all the filling ingredients over the surface.
3. Roll both flattened steaks as tightly as you can taking care to keep the ingredients from spilling outside of the meat.
4. Tie the rolls up well with butcher's twine and place them side by side in a large cast iron pot. Fill the pot with the red wine and bake in the oven at 325 for 2 hours covered. Flipping the roasts once after one hour of cooking.
5. Remove the roasts from the pot, cut and remove the twine, carve into individual rounds and serve topped with juices from the pot.

In Conclusion

I was very pleased with this meal. Not only was it easy to make, but the food looked and tasted wonderful. The meal was made even better by the surprise visit of two of our good friends from Cleveland who came into town that night. Much like our other meals, everybody had a great time and drank way too much over the course of the evening! Up next is Rwanda! Salud!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


A feast among feasts, Germany was our most labor intensive meal so far. I will not bore you with the history of Germany (I'm sure we all have our thoughts), but I will provide insight on why it was very important for Tom and I to make such a stellar show for Deutschland. It is one of only two countries that we share ancestors from and our last names are very indicative of this. Also, German food is so commonly consumed in the United States that it was difficult to narrow down exactly what we wanted to make. In the end, we ended up with a few favorites and some things that we would love to make again....if we have a week to prepare.

Sauerkraut Soup

A simple soup with big flavor. We are lucky enough to have a store in the neighborhood that has buckets of freshly prepared kraut we can just scoop to our heart's desire. If you are not so fortunate, any sauerkraut will do.

2 pounds sauerkraut
1/2 pound bacon diced
2 onions diced
1/3 cup flour
2 liters beef stock
2 apples grated
2 tbsp caraway seeds
Salt to taste
Sour cream for garnish

1. In a large pot gently fry the bacon to until fat is rendered and bacon is browned.
2. Add the onion and sauerkraut Continue cooking until they begin to brown.
3. Sprinkle with flour and stir well.
4. Gradually add the stock while stirring the mixture with a whisk. Add apple and caraway and simmer 30 minutes. Check for seasoning and serve with a bit of sour cream in each bowl.

Beet Salad

Watch where you put this because it will stain everything! It makes a nice mess in the food processor and a pretty pink hand when you wash the dishes. Aren't raw beets fun? Despite all this, I promise it is enjoyable.

2 pounds beets grated
3 tbsp vinegar
1/2 cup chopped parsley and dill
2 tbsp mustard
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp sugar
Salt to taste

Combine everything in a bowl and allow two hours to marinate. Serve cold or at room temperature.

German Potato Salad

There was no way to avoid this dish for this meal, just as you cannot avoid it at any Midwestern family picnic. Like my mom says though, always serve this at room temperature. It is the German way!

3-4 pounds red waxy potatoes
1 red onion minced
1.25 cups beef stock
6 tbsp white vinegar
6 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp mustard
1/2 cup chopped dill pickle
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 scallions chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Boil potatoes in their jackets until they are tender. I test this by piercing them with a fork.
2. Allow the potatoes to cool and then cut them into 1 inch cubes. Set in a large bowl.
3. Heat the vinegar and stock and pour the mixture over the potatoes. Pour this mixture over the potatoes and allow one hour to soak in as much of the juices as possible.
4. Drain off excess fluid and dress with remaining ingredients.
5. Serve the salad at room temp.


This is my absolute favorite way to eat coleslaw. I often request this from Tom when he asks what we should bring to parties. It sure beats a bunch of Hellman's on your cabbage.

1 head green cabbage
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp caraway seeds.

1. Cut the head of cabbage into quarters. Remove the tough white core from each piece and thinly slice the cabbage and place into a large serving bowl.
2. Sprinkle the cabbage with salt and pound the cabbage with your hands for about a minute until the cabbage becomes a bit more tender. Then let it rest for 15 minutes to continue softening.
3. Add the remaining ingredients, taste for vinegar, sugar, and salt and serve.


Our second showing of homemade sausage on this blog! We had to go with the traditional bratwurst for Germany. It's something everyone is familiar with and goes well with mustard and a baseball game.

3 pounds pork shoulder (or mix of 1/2 pork shoulder and 1/2 veal chuck)
2 pounds pork belly meat
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp mace
1 tsp pepper
2 tbsp salt
1 cup milk
Sausage casings

1. Grind meat twice into a chilled bowl. This keeps the fat from getting goopy.
2. Add seasonings and milk mixing well with your hands. This can get messy so don't wear a shirt you're attached to, or better yet wear an apron.
3. Roll a piece into a ball and fry in a skillet. Taste the meat for seasoning and adjust as you see fit.
4. Using a sausage stuffing attachment runt the meat through the grinder again into the sausage casings. For more info on the actual sausage stuffing process see our Austrian dinner:
5. Grill the sausages as you see fit preferably at 350 degrees or poach and fry them in butter and onions.
6. Serve.


It's like corned beef on overdrive...seriously. If you have about a week and some brisket you've been wondering what to do with, here lies your answer. A bit labor heavy, but soooo worth the wait.

5-6 pounds brisket or round

For the five day marinade

3 cups white vinegar
3 cups water
1/4 cup salt
2 tsp curing salt
1 large onion sliced
3 bay leaves
8 cloves
1 tsp peppercorns
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp mace
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1 large carrot chopped

For the final braising

5 tbsp lard
2 large red onions
2 bay leaves
6 cloves
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup sour cream

1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a sauce pan and simmer for five minutes. Allow 30 minutes to cool and pour the mixture over the beef in a large container making sure that the beef is completely submerged. If more marinade is needed simply add equal amounts of water and vinegar. Allow to marinate for five days in the refrigerator. Flip the meat each day to equally distribute the marinade.
2. On the day you plan to serve the meat, start in the early afternoon and remove the brisket from the marinade, dry thoroughly with a paper towel, and set aside. Strain the marinade into a large bowl and set that aside as well.
3. Heat the lard in a large cast iron pot over medium heat. Carefully brown the beef on all sides and remove (about 3-5 minutes per side).
4. Brown the onions in the lard and set the beef on top them. Pour on enough of the reserved marinade to come halfway up the sides of the beef. Add the bay leaves, cloves. Raise to a simmer. Lower the heat and cover and cook for 3-4 hours or until the beef is tender.
5. Remove the beef to a large heated plate keeping the juices in the pot. Add the flour and sugar whisking constantly and reduce the juices to a smooth gravy. Add the sour cream and heat through.
6. Carve the meat into 1 centimeter thick serving portions and cover liberally with the rendered gravy.
7. Serve.

Black Forest Cake

When I told Tom I wanted to make this for the dinner, he told me I was insane. I wanted a personal challenge. After many years of being a vocal cake hater, I thought I would make one from scratch and avoid things I don't like about it. For example, I hate the super heavy frosting that comes in the can and often in the bakery, as well. I also hate the fake chocolate taste of the mixes. So, for the cake itself, I went with the traditional Mark Bittman recipe, mainly because he uses blocks of chocolate. The buttercream filling and the whipped cream topping were both a creation from Mimi Sheraton.

Chocolate Cake Layers:

8 Tbsps. unsalted butter
2 cups of flour
3 ounces of unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsps. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cup milk

1. Melt chocolate on low heat in a saucepan. Remove from heat.
2. Use mixer to cream butter until smooth, then add the sugar gradually. Beat about 4 minutes until mixture is fluffy.
3. Beat in the yolks, one at a time and then add the vanilla and chocolate.
4. Mix dry ingredients together and add them to the chocolate mixture a little at a time, while alternating dry mix and milk. Mix until smooth.
5. Beat the egg whites until they hold peaks and gently fold them into the batter.
6. Pour half the batter into a cake pan that has been buttered and had a circle of parchment paper at the bottom. You may want to also sprinkle the paper with a little bit of flour.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and repeat for the other layer.

Chocolate Buttercream filling:

1 package of chocolate pudding
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 milk
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup butter at room temperature
cherries, stoned

1. Combine pudding and sugar and blend in 1/2 cup milk.
2. Boil the other 1 1/2 cups milk, then turn down the heat and add the pudding mixture. Bring that to a boil again and remember to stir constantly.
3. Cool the mixture and keep stirring it while it cools so it does not form skin.
4. Beat the butter and cooled pudding.
5. Use the buttercream to put between your two chocolate cake layers and then place some stoned cherries on top of the buttercream.

Whipped Cream thickened with Gelatin:

1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 scan tsp unflavored gelatin
1 tbsp. cold water
a bit of sugar

1. Mix water and gelatin together and dissolve gelatin over hot water.
2. Mix gelatin with whipping cream and sugar until it thickens.
3. Smooth over the top of the cake when it is chilled.

In Conclusion:

As you can see, we had a wee bit of a crowd for this one and had to relocate to Carl and Marco's apartment in order to serve everyone comfortably. Amazingly enough, only 3 of us attending came from a German background. Everyone seemed to be shocked by the shear amount of dishes that we had prepared, but hey, you have to do your ancestors right.

Although we took on some time consuming items, it was all well worth it in the end and everyone dined until they could dine no more and not a leftover was in sight. Sadly, we do not own a Scorpions vinyl, which would have made this dinner a little more rich and well-rounded, no doubt. Even in spite of that, I must say we did a pretty damn good job trying to capture Germany into a solitary meal.

Uraguay is next. Until then, prost!