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!


  1. First time I have eaten everything you have prepared before (with gusto) your versions look great and I think I will even try the saurkraut soup!

  2. Everything about that evening seems like a triumphant success, other than Tom's sweater.

    I have to mention that the "making sausages" hate speech saying (you know the one, first attributed to Wilhelm I think) is bandied about in law school pretty often. You guys should do a definitive posting about how pretty sausage-making really is. I would be titillated by your opinion on this.