Flaedlesuppe – vegetable broth with pancake rolls
Blue Cooked Trout
Zwiebelkuchen – onion cake
Apple and Leek Salad
Wild Garlic Spaetzle
This week a German theme, Sometimes I feel that German cuisine is slightly underrated. Instead of making fun of their love of wurst, we should take note of the creativity behind the enormous variety of sausages. Because it is a challenge to turn a cheap ingredient like pork off cuts into something different all the time.
It is a challenge I recognize at the moment, with wild garlic, growing in abundance in the countryside around here now. I like the fresh pungent spring taste of it, but I have to use it sparingly, and in different ways, because you don’t want everything have the same garlic taste all the time.
Wild garlic grows in shaded places like woodlands and riverbanks but poisonous lily of the valley might be mistaken for it. Just tear a bit of a leaf and smell, and you will immediately know which one you’ve got in your hand.
It is a cross between chives and garlic, and as such is a perfect combination with creamy flavours and eggs. My neighbours who recently went on a trip around Europe said that the best thing they had was a Pretzel with cream cheese and wild garlic. It is a fantastic addition to an omelette. You can make a classic pesto with it, and I would use sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts then.
In this week’s menu I use it to flavour Spaetzle, the German version of egg pasta. Basically make a batter of 4 medium eggs, 125 g of flour and 2 tbsp of milk. The batter should be thick, but drop off the back of your wooden poon. Then press it through your spaetzle maker (see above) or through a colander with wide holes which is placed on top of a pan with plenty boiling water.
My favourite way with Spaetzle is to cool them down and then fry them till golden and crunchy in plenty of butter.
As with pasta, there are plenty of discussions about the right way to make spaetzle. But if you’ve put your heart in it you’ll love this doughy worms, even if they haven’t been made technically perfect. I found this blog helpful: http://www.smittenkitchen.com/blog/2011/03/spaetzle
Kraut is another association with German food. I love sauerkraut, it has that gentle flavour of fermentation, which can also be found in Korean Kimchi and Japanese Miso. Strange how refreshing these things can taste and feel, while they basically have started rotting. It makes me realise how much food and cooking (a pre digestion aid) are part of the cycle of life.
No better example then the medlar tree I will plant this week, of which the fruits first have to rot -‘blet’- before you can eat them. Life is a continuous process, from planting a tree, harvesting the fruit to consuming it.
It is the ripening of the fruit, the pre digestion nature does itself, which makes it all te more sweeter and refreshing.
And so it is with memories and experiences. A bit of ripening and digesting, and they turn out sweeter. Therefore I think of my dad with fondness this week, when I am producing Schnitzels the seize of a plate, which were the summit of German cuisine for him.