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Leberkäse with Green Peppercorns… A German Meatloaf of Neither Liver Or Cheese

Yumm Leberkäse. The first time I ever had some was after a  German class at the Goethe Institute . A bunch of us walked over to the Christkindlmarket  after our final class. Thick slabs of Leberkäse shared space on the  hot grill with bratwurst.In the dead of winter, I bit into my hearty sandwich with sauerkraut  and fell in love.  Certain Someones mother would serve it at times when we visited Essen, a pre made  loaf from a deli, that she heated up. All these years I was under the mistaken impression there was a bit of liver in that meat, that gave it that savory taste. You see Leberkäse breaks down in translation to literally Liver Cheese. It’s a Bavarian specialty . However other regions of Germany add small percentages of liver. So the Leberkäse can vary by region. When I told Certain Someone I was making this, he too thought there was a bit of liver in the preparation as well. Maybe in Essen there is. The final verdict of my Bavarian style Leberkäse passed his tough German expectations. In an ode to Essen and his mother I added some green peppercorns, as that’s how I remembered it served there.

You may ask why am I making Leberkäse in the middle of summer? For various reasons. Certain Someone is home after some travel and I need more things on hand to feed him while I’m working.  A girl has to be organized. It tastes even better the day after preparation. I can slice it cold or hot. Think of it as homemade lunch meat. We like to slice it thick and pan fry it with some onions. Try adding a  fried egg on top , or serve it up like a cold pate with cornichons or salads. The recipe isn’t as hard as you would think. You need either a meat grinder , a food processor or an immersion blender.  I added  pink salt or cure to mine to help it retain its pink color, as opposed to turning grayish in color. One more hint. If you are a bit lazy, use  a good quality ground pork and beef.The bacon still has to be ground in. But using pre ground meat is a time-saving option for those who are not as adventurous or lack all the equipment.

Some tips to remember. As you’re working with ground meats , the colder the better. In my research I picked up a common tip of adding crushed ice to the meat before that final blending emulsification. It also helps with the bubbly smooth airy texture of the final product. Some people add heavy cream. I added just plain  dry powdered ( goats )milk, as I always add that to my meatloaf’s (I  don’t know why, but it works. I believe its something about adding extra nutrients and extending the protein ).  All of this helps the fats stay suspended and the meat emulsify. The mixture needs to chill and rest for a few hours. As I added a cure, it was still baked on the same day only for color retention.

I used my trusty XYBOARD in the kitchen to research Leberkäse ,techniques,and take quick clear photos  while in the kitchen.It saved me  a lot a time going to different rooms for the camera, etc.


Leberkäse with Green Peppercorns
Author: 
Recipe type: entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
A Bavarian meatloaf
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs stewing beef cubes
  • 1.5 lbs stewing pork cubes
  • ½ bacon( the fattier the better)
  • 1 small onion minced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tsp cure , pink salt, etc (  scant ¼ tsp per lb of meat)
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp dry powdered milk
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • ½ tsp mace or nutmeg
  • ¾ tsp paprika
  • grated lemon zest ( approx ½ tsp) optional
  • 3 cups crushed ice
  • 2 tbsp green peppercorns ( if you prefer use less)
Instructions
  1. In a meat grinder grind your beef and pork, and bacon.
  2. Place ground meats in a large bowl.
  3. Add your minced onion and garlic.
  4. Add your spices, curing salt and dry milk.
  5. Mix well.
  6. At this point you can place the ground meats in a food processor or use an immersion blender ( the immersion blender needs to be used carefully as to not burn out. Give it a rest if needed.) Mix the meats with the crushed ice until it forms a smooth paste. You don't want the paste to thick but it airy enough. The ice keeps the fats suspended and aides in the emulsification.
  7. Once you get the desired texture (there can still be some clumps of ice and that is fine as it helps form air bubbles in texture).
  8. Add the green peppercorns and mix in with hands( after removed from the food processor)
  9. Chill the meat mixture for 1 to 2 hrs.
  10. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  11. Grease loaf pan or pans.
  12. Pack meat  mixture into pans.
  13. With a knife make a criss -cross pattern on top.
  14. Place pans in a larger pan with water to catch any fat drippings.
  15. Bake for 1.5 hrs.
  16. Remove loaves from pans and drain of fats.
  17. Serve warm or cold.
  18. It tastes even better the day after.

 “Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Wireless Midwest Savvy Gourmets program and have been provided with a wireless device and six months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product.”

 

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Homemade Curry Ketchup

Ketchup gets a bad rap. People abuse it to mask sub par food, or load it onto junk food. I mean can you imagine a burger without it? And lets not even mention the sugar content or high fructose corn syrup in most commercial brands. I have always liked ketchup, but wasn’t the type to quickly reach for it to drown everything on plate.However , when Certain Someone first took me to his house in Germany, I fell in love with Curry Ketchup. It’s a German thing and when you go, you must have a Currywurst. Your taste buds will thank you. Needless to say every time we go, or Certain Someone goes, I bring back huge bottles of the stuff.

The other day I catered an event and still had a few leftover very ripe  tomatoes that needed to be used quick. In addition, my organic delivery service gave me a large bag of tomatillos, those small green tomatillos that are covered in a protective leaf covering, and used in Mexican food. I wanted to use them all together and immediately ketchup came to mind. Now if you cant get tomatoes, don’t worry, just use the tomatoes you have on hand, or add some regular green tomatoes for a kick.  Enjoy the freshest, natural taste you can imagine making your own ketchup. Your body will be grateful and your loved ones will appreciate the taste and effort.


Homemade Curry Ketchup
Author: 
Recipe type: condiment
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
A ketchup with a spicy curry kick.
Ingredients
  • 2-2½ pounds ripe tomatoes ( can mix red, green, tomatillos) cut into quarters. Do not peel.
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 inch fresh ginger peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 2 Black Cardamon pods
  • 3 Star Anise
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 2 dried Thai Chilies
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, add quartered tomatoes, and all the spices, vinegar.
  2. Turn heat to medium high to get a simmer.
  3. Reduce heat to lowest setting and slowly cook for approx 1 hour . The ingredients should break down and start to liquefy. Be sure to stir often to prevent sticking and burning.
  4. Take a fine wire mesh strainer or a food mill and strain the mixture into a bowl. Be sure to press and extract all the liquid and pulp, while leaving the skins, and spices the strainer.
  5. You should have a thick like sauce. If not thick enough add the strained sauce to a sauce pan and continue to reduce until thickened to the right consistency. Be sure to stir often.
  6. Pour into a clean glass jar and allow to cool.
  7. Refrigerate and use within 2 weeks.
  8. Make approx 2 cups.
Notes
Keeps 2 weeks refrigerated. You can adjust the spices to make more or less heat and spice according to your tastes.

 

Carrot Kohlrabi and Arugula Salad

The first time I tasted Kohlrabi (aka German Turnip) was in Germany. A raw piece of this green round multi stemmed vegetable was proffered like a slice of apple. I was pleasantly surprised as this was a new and somewhat foreign vegetable for me. After a heavy meat laden week with them ( it’s Germany) , this fresh offering was welcome. Certain Someones parents  have  a garden, a Scherbergartan (allotment garden) in their family for about the past 50 years.His grandfather was the original gardener, and when he died , his parents took it over. It’s hard work and the garden yields a lot of fruits and vegetables. Approximately 4 million  Germans have Scherbergartens . Originally the concept can  be attributed to Dr. Daniel Moritz Scherber and Karl Gessel.  Family gardens allowed working class city dwellers to have a plot of land  to grow fruit and vegetables . The small houses in the garden provide a weekend getaway and respite from the city. For Dr. Scherber it was all about fresh air and educating children.

After that first taste I never had Kohlrabi again unfortunately. Not  until it showed up my organic delivery box. I really didn’t want to cook it . My friends on Twitter suggested a myriad of ideas from making a gratin , pickling it, or just eating it raw. I decided to shred it like a slaw with some vinaigrette ( another brilliant suggestion) and other vegetables from the box. Paired with peppery Arugula, this salad is just perfect for summer.

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Carrot Kohlrabi and Arugula Salad

Serves 2

  • 1 Kohlrabi ( skinned and grated)
  • 2 carrots ( skinned and grated)
  • 1 red bell pepper , Julienned
  • Arugula

Vinaigrette

  • 1 part red wine vinegar
  • 1 part olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • dried herbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a bowl mix your grated  carrots and kohlrabi .
  2. Mix up your Vinaigrette ingredients and toss.
  3. Toss in with the Arugula.
  4. Serve.

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Kochen Sie Deutsch? Ham hocks and Spaetzle.

I have been seeing a lot of ham hocks around the blogosphere lately.Its funny because ham hocks are widely used in the black culture in soul food. I have seen first hand a love hate relationship with this cut of swine. Its been widely substituted by smoked turkey to season greens and such.And most of us wouldn’t be caught dead eating it in polite company . But its cheap and tasty and I’m happy to see a foodie resurgence. In Germany I loved the Eisbein which is the lower more meatier part of the ham hock. A typical ham hock has to much bone, fat, gristle , and skin, to eat alone. But the chunks of meat you get are out of this world. The Eisbein I had in Germany was meat fall of the bone succulent with crispy skin. I tried to recreate this with the lowlier ham hocks. I didn’t get a lot of meat, but I got. The rest went in the trash bin. But it was enough to enhance my homemade spaetzle. I didn’t have a fancy Spaetzle maker, but used a colander with large holes. This dish is for my Certain Someone. You know how some people talk dirty when their loved one is away? Me I cook this German style meal I know he would love to entice him to finish his business abroad and come home quick.

The ham hocks were cooked in a pressure cooker with about 3 cups of water, peppercorns, and 3 cloves of garlic for 45 minutes at a pressure of 15 lbs. I have had a pressure cooker for years and am just starting to discover the joys of it. I cooled it down quickly to release the pressure with the cold water method( running water over the pot and waiting till it cools down enough to release safely). I then roasted them on high to get the skin crispy. The skin is gelatinous but with patience you will get some crispy parts.

Certain Someone would be so proud of me. I made Spaetzle from a cookbook written in German! Maggi Kochstudio. Easy and straightforward. I converted the weights and measures.

Spatzletig for 2

1 3/4 cups flour ( 250 grams)

3 eggs beaten

2/3 cup water ( 1/8 liter)

salt

nutmeg

Water for boiling( approx 2 liters)

Boil your water in a pot.In a bowl place your flour. Add beaten egg,water, salt, and nutmeg. Mix thoroughly ( I used a whisk). Take a large holed colander and place a little mixture in at at time. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon run the mixture back and forth across the hole until it drops in the boiling water. The spaetzle dumplings will rise to the top of the water when done. Remove with a slotted spoon. Season to taste.

I seasoned and tossed mine with a leek sauteed in butter and the garlic from the pressure cooker.Salt , fresh ground pepper and a grating of Parmesan cheese.

Next time when Certain Someone comes home I will got to the butcher and get the Eisbein cut to ensure we have more meat. But this was a tasty trial run.

A Glimpse of Germany at Christmas

I have always imagined what a German Christmas would be like. Earliest origins of the use of Christmas trees can be traced back to Germany. The most famous ambassador of the tree was the German Prince Albert who was married to Queen Victoria. My fascination of German Christmas has been fueled even more through the years with the local Christkindle Market in Chicago. This year Certain Someone took me home for Christmas. To spend ten days in Germany. Home is in the North Rhine –Westphalia region of Germany in a city called Essen. When most think of Germany we associate it with stereotypical images of Bavaria, and Heidelberg with lots of beer drinking, sausage, lederhosen, and blondes with Heidi-esque braids. Or, maybe even pre war Berlin a la Cabaret. Most is exaggerated except for the sausages and beer.
Essen is an industrial town that was known primarily for coal, steel, and the Krupp family. The Krupp family for centuries forged iron and later went into arms manufacturing that supplied Germany and countless other countries with arms and ammunition for destruction. The family home is one of the town landmarks called Villa Hugel and the stories of its inhabitants and visitors make for interesting historical reading. After the war the heir Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach was tried and imprisoned for war crimes(forced slave labor and other crimes against humanity) in Nuremburg(later to be grounded amnesty).Alfrieds sole heir Arndt was later forced to renounce his claims on the fortune and family name, and die at 48 severely in debt ending a 400 year old dynasty. Today the company is now known as Thyssen Krupp the fifth largest company in Germany and largest steel manufacturer.The monies Arndt forfeited were used to set up a foundation. Today Essen is a modern industrial and cultural center.A lot of the city was bombed out during the war, and an interesting fact is one of the older landmarks is the Alt Synagogue which survived intact. An interesting fact is that the owners of the Aldi Supermarket chains are from Essen .
The people of Essen struck me as hard working no nonsense types. Family and tradition are big. Certain Someone’s family has been there for generations and he is really to first to branch out of the city. One of the first things we did upon arrival was tend to the families graves. His parents dutifully go a few times of week to landscape and place candles.

I was touched, as you really do not see a lot of that type of devotion here. One wonders if the younger generations will keep these traditions. We mostly stayed put while Certain Someone’s mother provided us three meals. She takes great pride in her cooking and it was fun to see her baby truly enjoy her sturdy food. Breakfasts began with various wursts, bread, Mett (similar to steak tartar but made with pork), some cheese, soft-boiled eggs, etc. I admit it was hard for me to adjust to eating like that each morning and I just cannot wrap my head around Mett. Lunches were the big meals and she presented my favorites like Leberkasse (a type of meatloaf which ironically does not have liver in it), stuffed cabbage roulades in kraut, goose, and tons of potato dishes. Who knew all those versions of potato salads could exist and some even with more wursts! Certain Someone’s mothers likes to bake cakes and make puddings too. Normally he does not eat my sweets but again it was fun to see him lap up the puddings. All of this, washed down with tons of coffee drinking and beer .The kitchen was off limits to me and her sole domain . Unfortunately, I did not get to see or learn how to make her wonderful cookies.Rich marzipan and buttery confections. She also is a gifted needle pointer and the house was filed with all her decorated table linens, and ornaments with her signature needlework. In another time and place I can see her giving Martha Stewart a run for her money in the crafts and cooking departments. Certain Someone and I visited some of his childhood friends as well while in Essen. I am not used to a place virtually shutting down for days. Christmas is celebrated over days. First, the opening of the presents on the Eve, Christmas Day, and then Zweiter Weihnachts Tag (the second day). Strangely, church going is not big in Germany except for perhaps Christmas. We did manage to leave the house and walk along the beautiful Ruhr River. Certain Someone entertained me with visits to both Cologne and Dusseldorf as well, both about an hour by train from Essen. We made it the famous Christmas market in Cologne, one of Germany’s oldest cities. The market is right under the Cathedral, which houses the bones of the Magi as well as many knights, kings, and princes. The cathedral dates back fro centuries and is always in a state of repair and renovation. We breaked for lunch at a traditional Brau Haus (brewery) for good German food and Kolsh (the beer Cologne is famous for). I loved these sort of places where one takes a table and may share it with others eating good simple food. I always claim German food is the Soul Food of Europe. I devoured with Certain Someone’s help a delicious Ham shank. Overall, I liked Cologne except for the maddening Christmas crowds. It was a bit overwhelming at that time of year, but hopefully one day I will be back when it is calmer. I searched high and low for Springerele molds for next years cookies but could not find any. It is a lost art it seems. After Christmas, Certain Someone whisked me off to Düsseldorf. While Cologne is known for media, carnivals, arts and culture, and being called ‘the gayest city ‘ in Germany, is its rival in fashion, more media, banking, and its Alt Beer. I think I am more a Dusseldorf kind of girl myself. I loved walking by the Rhine and strolling down the Kö( Königsalle/ Kings Alley) taking in the fashionable designer shops and jewelers. I tried to show Certain Someone some baubles priced at around 20,000 euros but he was not having it. You know how men wait outside while you look. Although he stopped in a few stores to check out his passion, watches. We visited another Brau House to sample Düsseldorf’s Alt Beer (old beer) . I liked this one more because it was darker. We both had dishes with Spatzle and another memorable lunch before heading back to Essen. If I ever had to live in Germany Dusseldorf would be more to my liking. And alas, the trip was over. Ten days of eating, drinking, and a lot of contemplation. I have a new understanding of Germany and hopefully will get to explore more of it one day.