Sunday, June 24, 2012

AUSTRIA: THE FOOD

I was so excited to get to make Austrian food. I’m of German heritage on my mother’s side, so some of the fare seemed somewhat reminiscent of food that my mother made for me when I was growing up.

The bread I chose was an Austrian pumpernickel. Now, I’ve been a fan of rye and pumpernickel since I was a kid. My husband, not so much. But I do give him credit in the fact that he even tried it. I should count my blessings as they come. The bread is dark, it’s hardy, it’s a meal in and of itself. It was a lot drier dough to work with. I had to add more water and another tablespoon of oil to it just to make it wet enough to form. It never did rise very much, which probably adds to its density. The recipe didn’t call for it to be scored, but I did anyway to add decoration. It turned out to be a very good bread. When I took the first bite while it was still warm, I could discern the molasses, the cocoa, and the caraway seeds. The crust was hard while the inside was soft and almost cake-like in places. I truly enjoyed it. 
Pumpernickel: a funny name for an awesome bread. 
I decided there may be nothing more Austrian than wiener schnitzel. I mean, it’s even in the name, sort of. (The word for Vienna in German in Wien.) True wiener schnitzel is made of veal, and there is a German meats and sausage place that I pass every day, so what better place to find it, right? Well, I did find it there: they have it in a pre-wrapped frozen package, ranging from one to 1 ½ pounds. So, I had him go get me two packages since my recipe called for two pounds. He came back and said that it was $63 and change!! I quickly decided that I should go for wiener schnitzel vom schwein, which is German for “veal is way too expensive, pork is cheaper.” Using the thin-cut pork cutlets, breading them and frying them turned out really good regardless of whether it's true wiener schnitzel or not.

In looking for a side dish, I came across kasnocken. You make spaetzel by making the dough and dripping it through a colander or sieve into simmering water.

Making spaetzel though a colander. It was so fun! 
Then you top it with carmelized onions and sprinkle with cheese. The recipe called for gruyère cheese, but I just couldn’t find it. How come I see it all the time until I actually want to buy it? So, I had to research some substitutions that basically said that gruyère is a type of Swiss cheese, so that’s what I used instead. I thought it was really good and was blown away when my kids shied away from it. I mean, it’s basically mac and cheese, for crying out loud! Malfunctioning taste buds are obviously a slow genetic drip from their father’s side.

The onions were the best part. Next time, I'll go with a cheese blend perhaps. 
And simply because there were no green vegetables on the menu, I quickly grabbed some fresh green beans and added some bacon and sea salt for flavor. You really can't go wrong, and you have to work really hard at messing it up. 

The final meal: wiener schnitzel, kasnocken, green bean, and pumpernickel bread.
After we ate the meal, I got started on the apple strudel.  I made my own dough and had to let it rest. Then I spread toasted bread crumbs on it and topped with a mixture of apples (I chose my favorites, Galas), lemon juice, lemon zest, cinnamon,  and raisins soaked in rum cream (mmm, it was hard to save some for the recipe. Seriously, it was the last four tablespoons). Then you fold the dough to make a pocket and bake it for an hour or more. I served it with artisan vanilla ice cream, and it was the perfect ending to this long day.

The grand finale: appel strudel with artisan vanilla ice cream.

The meal on a whole was really good. I’m definitely learning more patience. It may not have been the healthiest of meals by any means, but certainly one of the tastier ones. I’ve highly enjoyed this meal, and perhaps when I get a win fall, or one of my book projects gets off the ground and sells, I’ll go back and make this with veal. Until then, let them eat pork.

Up next: Azerbaijan

Resources:
Kasnocken:

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