Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Meine Deutsche Küche
So, I've stumbled into a bout of German cookery. I always intend to cook German, but rarely get around to it, but some lingering barley and a perusal of a German cookbook from mein Freunds Mutter (Die echte deutsche Küche) led to a batch of Pomeranian Barley Soup. It's actually a very nice cookbook chock full of regional specialties with nice photos, but I haven't made all that many of the recipes. Last year during Asparagus Season, I made Spargel mit Kratzete, which is cooked white asparagus and sliced ham with what are basically shredded crepes/pancakes (I told you they eat pancakes for dinner here). Anyway, it was cold last week and I wanted to use up the barley and the soup appealed. In addition to barley, it has your basic German soup veggies (carrots, celery, onions, leek, celery root, and parsley root) plus prunes stewed with a pinch of sugar, lemon peel, and cinnamon. Not something I use in all my soups, but it also had pork, which goes with prunes and other sweet things like apple sauce, fruit chutney, and bbq sauce. Said pork was specifically 500 grams of gepokelte Rippchen, which are pork ribs that have been cured/salted ... I think the literal translation is corned (as in beef). So after three or four butchers didn't have gepokelte Rippchen (and mein Freund told me that the word was frightening close to boogered ribs) (and another friend told me that nobody has used gepokelte Rippchen since before World War I, I settled on a different, but hopefully similarly salty, porky product and proceeded to make the soup. In my own defense, mein Freund, who is proudly German really liked the soup (perhaps a weak defense because Germans seem to eat most things). It wasn't quite bad, it just reminded me of eating rice pudding (the barley combined with the cinnamony stewed prunes) with veggies and pork.
Perhaps Pomerania isn't my favorite region (though I'm not quite ready to write it off) so I proceeded to make another German(-inspired) dish (courtesy of Deborah Madison): braised turnips. I meant to make this some time during the week, but other leftovers took precedence and somehow this became dinner for visiting Diana. As luck would have it, Diana is the sort of visiting friend who doesn't mind (and is possibly even amused) if you serve her braised turnips with pearl barley (didn't use it all up in the soup) for dinner and then stewed prunes (again, I didn't use them all in the soup....) for breakfast. I must say though, the turnips, which were braised in a mustard-spiked cream sauce (with a healthy sprinkle of fresh thyme) were pretty tasty. The prunes, stewed in some exceedingly mediocre Chianti with aniseed and cloves weren't bad either (not to mention the homemade custard sauce on the side). Anyway, when in Rome (or Berlin as the case may be)...