Flavours Of The World: Germany
If you cannot go to the world, let the world come to you. This week we decided to ‘fly home to Germany’.
Well, I was feeling a little homesick and there is nothing better than some home-cooked food à la Mum and Grandma to make you feel better. So, I cooked my favorite childhood dishes over the week and I am sharing our family recipes here with you.
Before I dive into our favorite German dishes, we wanted to share some quick things about Germany with you.
Official Language: German
Population: 82 million
Located in Western Europe, Germany is best known for its legendary nightlife in Berlin and of course its Octoberfest in Munich. Growing in popularity among tourists, here are some of the things about Germany that you should know before you actually go there:
Cash is King: Unlike many other countries, Germans are holding on to paying cash as their favorite paying method.
Always Recycle: We are big in recycling. Many of the bottles that you buy can be recycled. Just bring them to one of the supermarkets. Most of them actually have recycling depots. For each bottle, you get about 25 cents back.
Be Punctual: It is considered rude to let someone wait.
Sunday is Rest Day: Most shops are closed on Sundays, with the exception of a few restaurants and bars.
Try to Speak a Little German: Like most people, Germans appreciate if you at least try to speak to them in German. It makes everything a little easier.
About German Cuisine
Rich, hearty, and delicious comfort food - that is German cuisine to me. Going with the seasons, we often cook with potato - of course, but also white asparagus, pumpkin, cabbages, corn, and other vegetables.
Meat plays a key role in our cuisine. Beef, pork, chicken dishes tend to be part of almost every meal. In the northern part of Germany, people also like to eat fish. Other than that fruits including apples, cherries as well as nuts find their way in many of our dishes as well.
Another item, that plays a significant part in our cuisine is bread. Looking at the option in the bakeries, we probably have the greatest bread and pastry diversity in the world. Made up of different types of grains, oat, nuts, seeds, and spices, no two loaves of bread look or taste similar.
In terms of drinks, I guess it is no secret that we love beer but we also have some pretty good wines.
In terms of dishes, we draw a lot of inspiration from many of our neighbors including France, Poland, and the Czech Republic. It does not stop there. Much of that diversity comes from the many people who made Germany their home. Many of these people came from countries like Turkey and Italy.
Döner Kebab for example was first created in Berlin by a Turkish guest worker back in the 1970s. His objective was to create a dish that workers could eat on the go. So he took the popular meat Turkish skewers that are often served with rice and veggies and wrapped it into bread, also known as durum and that’s it. Today, it has become the favorite fast-food of Germans across the country.
Another one of my personal favorites is the Spagettieis. Invented by Dario Fontanella, the son of an ice cream-making Italian immigrant in Mannheim, Germany in 1969. It consists of a plate of spaghetti made up of vanilla ice cream pressed through a modified noodle press. The ice is topped with strawberry sauce and coconut shaving, representing the tomato sauce and the parmesan cheese.
Did You Know? The origins of the famous Currywurst, Germany’s popular street food remain a mystery. Rumors have it that the recipe was invented in Berlin after the war when the housewife Herta Heuwer, traded some spirits with British soldiers for ketchup and some curry powder. She mixed both with peppers, paprika, and other spices, poured it over a sliced sausage and voila! The dish became an instant success.
The Dishes We Cooked
It wasn’t an easy choice but in the end, we chose 5 dishes for the week. Come travel with us. All dishes suitable for vegetarians are marked with a (v).
Preparation Time: 40 min
Baking Time: 20 min
Paprika 1 Tbs
Grated Gouda Cheese
* Loosely translated it Bauernauflauf means Farmer's Casserole.
** I like to use fresh long beans for this dish but canned green beans can do the job just as good.
Step 1: Peel and cook the potatoes in salted water for about 15 min. Cut the beans into smaller pieces and cook them in water until they are soft.
Step 2: While both cook, cut the onion and braise it in a pan with butter until they are translucent. Then add the minced meat together with some salt and pepper. When the meat is fried, add the tomatoes to the meat. Let it simmer for a while before adding the beans together with the paprika, salt, pepper, and ketchup. Add the latter four according to your liking.
Step 3: Mash the potatoes and add half of it into a baking tin. Distribute it evenly in the pan. Then create a second layer by adding the ingredients you prepared in step 2. Make a third layer with the rest of the mashed potatoes. The last layer will be cheese.
Step 4: Let it bake in the oven for 15-20 min at 200 °C until the cheese is melted.
Preparation Time: 40 min
Cooking Time: 40 min
Flour 200 g
Dry Yeast 1 Tbsp
Warm Water 125 ml
Onion 1 Big
Smoked Pork 100 g
Sour Cream 100 g
Cooking Cream 100 g
Rucola Salad for Garnish
Step 1: Mix the yeast with warm water and wait a few minutes before adding it to the flour in a mixing bowl. Once both are mixed well form the dough into a ball and let it rest for 10 min. Then add the oil, salt. Knead it well before you let the dough rest again for 30 min. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel.
Step 2: Cut the onion and the pork and braise both in a pan.
Step 3: Mix the sour cream with the cooking cream and add salt and pepper for seasoning. Once the onion and pork cooled down, add them to the mix as well.
Step 4: Divide the dough into two balls and roll them out on a tray with baking paper. Pour the ingredients that you mixed in step 3 carefully onto the dough and distribute it evenly. Heat up the oven and let Flammkuchen bake for 15 min at 200 °C. Before serving, add some Rucola onto the Flammkuchen.
‘Grandma’s Potato Salad’* (v)
Preparation Time: few hours
Cooking Time: 30 min
Pickles Half a Jar
Eggs 4 - 5
White Wine Vinegar
Mayonnaise 2 Tbsp
Sugar 2 Tbsp
Condensed Milk Half a Can
*This dish tastes best when it is prepared a day in advance. The goal is to let the potatoes soak in the sauce to absorb all the flavors of the sauce. For the meat-eaters among us, we like to serve the salad with grilled sausages and voila! For some families in Germany, this is actually their traditional Christmas Dinner main course. We hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do.
Step 1: Cook the potatoes in saltwater and let them cool down for a few hours. Once cold, cut the potatoes into small pieces and put them into a large mixing bowl. Cook the eggs until they are hard and cut them into small pieces. Then cut the pickles. Add all into the mixing bowl.
Step 2: Mix all ingredients to your liking and pour it into the bowl. Let the sauce be absorbed by the potatoes for a few hours before serving.
‘Apple Strudel’ (v)
Preparation Time: 30 min
Baking Time: 45 min
For the Dough
Flour 250 g
Oil 3 tbs
Water 100 ml warm
For the Filling
Apples 1 kg
Sugar 75 g
Almond Flakes 100 g
Butter 100 g
For the Sauce
Step 1: Mix the flour, with the water, oil, salt, and egg to make a dough. Then let it rest for 30 min.
Step 2: Peel the apples and cut them into small pieces. Add cinnamon and sugar.
Step 3: Roll out the dough on a floured surface until it is evenly thin. Brush melted butter all over the dough. Then cover it with almond flakes. After that, distribute the apples evenly before rolling the dough.
Step 4: Let the apple strudel bake in the oven for 45 min at 180 °C. It is best served while it is still slightly warm with vanilla ice cream and some cinnamon dust.
‘Grated Potato Pancakes’ (v)
Preparation Time: 30 min
Cooking Time: 30 min
Big Potatoes 3
Egg 1, beaten
Chia Seeds (Optional)
Vegetable oil for frying
Sauce Option 1: Applesauce
Sauce Option 2: Sour Cream with Sliced Salmon
Smoked Salmon 200 g
Cream Cheese 200 g
Sour Cream 50 g
Mayonnaise 1 Tbsp
Lemon 1 Zest
Garlic Clove 1
Step 1: Grate the potatoes and cut the onion into small pieces.
Step 2: Add the beaten egg, salt, pepper, and some flour to the mix. I like to add some chia seeds as well.
Step 3: Heat the oil in a pan and add two to three mounds of the mix to the pan and flatten them. Wait until they are golden brown before turning them on the other side. Then transfer them onto a plate. Keep them warm before serving.
Step 4: You can serve the pancakes with apple sauce or a delicious sour cream dip with smoked salmon. I usually buy my apple sauce. The dip, I make it myself. Here is how. Simply mix 200 g of smoked salmon, 200 g cream cheese, 50 g of sour cream, some mayonnaise, dill, 1 lemon zest, salt, pepper, and one garlic clove into a blender and mix it well.