Monday, November 8, 2010

bitte. (that means you're welcome, by the way.)

I should know better than to ask mr his opinion on what we should have for Monday Food Fest dinner.  I’ll either get a crazy response like “filet mignon!” or a crazy response like “some German word I can’t pronounce.”  When I asked him last night, it was the latter.
I told him I’d do my best, and even though his description of the dinner in question sounded not only strange but also somewhat difficult to make, I searched for “rouladen” regardless.  And I found what appeared to be a doable recipe on  After finding the rouladen, I knew I’d have to find some other German dishes to make the meal complete.  I’ve always bought the red cabbage in a jar at the grocery store and decided to make my own when I saw a recipe for Quick-Braised Red Cabbage and Apple on  I then found the Sauerkraut and Potato Balls, Cucumber Salad, and Kaffeekuchen on  
First, I’d like to point out that I know nothing about meat.  The Rouladen recipe I found called for a flank steak and I had no clue what that was.  I had to ask the meat guy to help me find it.  Second, when I got it home, I then had to “cut it into thin filets, about 1/4 inch thick and 3 inches wide.”  What the what??  So I started “slicing” and despite the the fact that the meat looked, well, not good when I was finished, I made it through.  This was - thankfully - the hardest part of making the dish.  Then I turned the heat up way too high while it was simmering... so I burned it a little.  Fortunately, it was NOT inedible, just a little charred on part of the outside.  I made it exactly according to the recipe, which you can find HERE.
And even though it seemed odd to eat a pickle wrapped up in two kinds of meat, I have to admit that it was pretty yummy.  mr loved it, which is really saying something (not only because he knows what real German food tastes like and therefore is the only on of us with expectations, but also because he’s just plain and simply the hardest of us to please).  mom loved it too, and took some home for my dad who was sick.  He just called me to let me know he loved it.  I’ll have to keep the Meat Wrapped Pickle in my German menu repertoire.  
The Red Cabbage recipe was super easy.  I don’t think I’ll ever buy from a jar again.  The hardest part was cutting up the cabbage (mad those things are tough!  Or maybe my knives are just dull...).  Basically you just cut it all up, throw it all in the pot and cook it covered.  Easy Shmeezy.  I didn’t make any changes to the recipe, which is HERE.
It was pretty tasty, but I actually agreed with mr’s assessment - it was too sweet and not enough vinegar.  For mr, vinegar is an essential part of all good food, but especially German.  I don’t know if his preferences are rubbing off on me or what, but I found myself wishing for a little more zip.  The next time I make it, I will substitute vinegar for the apple cider vinegar.  Less sweet, more zip.  You can decide what you’ll do according to taste.
Here’re some tips for the Sauerkraut and Potato Balls.  1)  Use less potato and less kraut.   2) Test the temperature of the oil.  3) Lock your two yr old out of the kitchen.  Better yet, chain him to his bedroom.  WHY?  a) There are only so many little balls of potato that you can make before you just want to pull your hair out.  Plus, there was enough to feed an army.  So if you’re cooking for an army, don’t make any changes.  b)  You may think you can stick a ball in, roll some more balls, then dig the first ball out.  WRONG.  By this point, your ball is a blackened lump of charcoal.  And your kitchen is full of smoke.  UNLESS you checked the temp on the oil.  Then you don’t have to cook each ball separately because it takes only .2 seconds for them to cook.   and c) Well, this should be obvious.  Messy, clumpy hands, hot oil, come on.  You can find the recipe HERE.  They were very reminiscent of the potato croquettes I made months ago, which you can find here if you’re interested.
They were a definite hit.  mom particularly loved them.  So did mini.  She ate most of them, and smeared the rest all over her face.  Yum.  So I guess the clumpy mess, the gross covered fingers, the charred debris, the smoke and hard work were all worth it in the end.
The cucumber salad is pretty straightforward - your typical oil and vinegar cucumbers.  Easy recipe and easy to throw together - HERE’s the recipe.  
mr and I both agreed that they could use more vinegar.  I’m pretty sure most people error on the side of caution with vinegar, and I’m coming to learn that I should probably just automatically add more (like I do with garlic.  Or lemon).  bug just dipped his in ranch, so I guess you could go that route too.
Do you know what Kaffeekuchen is?  Directly translates to coffee cake.  I’ve made a custardy kuchen with berries before that’s delicious.  But this looked different from anything I’ve made - a lot lighter.  PLUS I had all the ingredients in my cupboard already.  Go check it out, I bet you do, too.  The recipe I used can be found HERE.
This was a great option for a lighter dessert - or even a breakfast.  mom and I both thought it would be perfect with some yummy hot cocoa on Christmas morning, so a new breakfast tradition has perhaps just begun.  (When I was a kid, the Christmas breakfast tradition was donuts from Mr. Donut.  I loved going with my mom to pick them out.  But then Mr. Donut closed.  Now it’s a one of my favorite Chinese restaurants, so I have mixed feelings about the switch.)  Anyway, it was a fun departure from my usual very rich desserts.
All in all, this German dinner was a big success.  I’m happy with the process and how it all turned out, so I guess it’s good to really branch out with my tastes now and then!
If you like this meal, you should check out my previous German Feast.
And don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten my promise to share my crab rangoons with you.  They just didn’t seem to go with the rouladen.

**mr would like me to clarify.  Bitte, directly translated actually means "please."  But apparently there IS no direct translation for "you're welcome," and in Germany when someone says "thank you" you would say "bitte" in response.  So I guess it means please and you're welcome.  Huh.

***mr also wanted me to show you this:

what is this?  Good question.  This is an experiment he did with bug as he was waiting for the rest of dinner to be finished.  First, I took some juice from the red cabbage, then added some vinegar.  It turned pink.  Then he added some baking soda to some red cabbage juice.  What happened?  It turned blue, of course.  

Apparently this is because red cabbage is an acid indicator.  Yeah.  Um.  Well, I can quote Shakespeare, so there!!  (our kids are going to be such nerds.)

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Lisa said...

I don't know very much about German food and I had no idea that cucumber salad was German. I've had it before and it looks SO good right now!

Unknown said...

Those pictures are making my mouth water. I'll have to show my hubby this dinner!!!

Kristen said...

It all looks really tasty. My dad is mostly German, so I grew up eating a lot of those dishes.

Katie said...

Thank you for linking up this recipe set at Katie's Cucina!!!

malia said...

How cool... a pickle wrapped in steak? It just sounds right for some reason!

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