About once a year I take a trip to Germany to visit my grandmother – or Oma as we call her – and my family near Stuttgart. These visits are always filled with lots of eating – my grandmother always makes my favourite dishes – walks, visiting my aunt and her family, a trip to a nearby town and watching German TV – usually a folk music festival and a few of my grandmothers favourite shows.
I went for my annual – snowy this time – visit last weekend and per usual I was royally spoilt, I literally ate the entire weekend. Every morning my grandmother went to the local bakery to get fresh broetchen; I have to say the German’s along with the French and Italians really know how to bake bread. Fresh from the baker, still warm, the butter literally melted on the bread, it was delicious. It was hard to come back to cereal and porridge for breakfast after indulging for a few days.
A traditional Schwäbisch dish which my Grandmother always makes for me when I visit is Spätzle, a German noodle dish, which is made with flour, milk, eggs, water and a pinch of salt. The mixture is then pressed through a Spätzle
machine into a pot of salted boiling water. Once the noodles float to the top you take them out with a slotted spoon and put them into a bowl of cold water for a few minutes. There are numerous things you can serve them with; Käsespätzle is always a favourite, to make this you add grated cheese to the freshly made Spätzle and put the dish in the oven to bake until the cheese is golden and crisp. My sister always makes Spätzle with fried bacon or chicken and a creamy mushroom sauce. During my visit my grandmother made Spätzle with Koeningsberger Klopse, which is another traditional dish similar to meatballs and my aunt with turkey schnitzel, carrot salad and lamb’s lettuce. I adore this dish and I finally got myself – or rather my grandmother did – a Spätzle machine, which means there will be a lot of traditional German cooking going on in my flat over the next while.
Aside from lots of Spätzle, my aunt invited us over for Raclette on Saturday
evening. Raclette is a Swiss cheese dish where you have an electric grill and individual pans which you put raw vegetables, cooked meat and whatever else you fancy into and top with a slice of Raclette cheese. The pan is then placed under the grill and you wait until the cheese has melted and browned. Traditionally is’t a popular meal to have after skiing,
but my family tend to have it all year round. It’s sociable, fun and really delicious. We had it with boiled potatoes, a cream cheese sauce and pickled beetroot. My grandmother also made lamb Maultaschen during my visit which we ate with my all time favourite German potato salad and lamb’s lettuce. A lettuce I’d forgotten how much I liked and one we always used to have it in the winter in Ireland.
So as you can see we ate a lot over the weekend and it was really lovely, although I was dying to go for a swim once I was back to London. One recipe that has been baffling me for ages and despite a few attempts I could never get right, was finally resolved – well at least the German version. And that is cheesecake or Käsekuchen. My grandmother makes an absolutely divine baked cheesecake. I’ve always struggled with the recipe, actually the cheese part to be more exact. Online recipes always say cream cheese, but I can never find any cream cheese that works and they never specify a brand. Now, thanks to my grandmother I have a recipe that is delicious, easy to make and more importantly I know what cheese to use. The base is a simple; flour, eggs, sugar, butter and a dash of milk or water to bind the pastry together. The topping is made with quark or soft cheese, crème fraîche, sugar, a bit of butter, egg yolks and beaten egg whites. The mixture is then poured into the pastry shell and put into the oven to bake. And the result; a gorgeously creamy and tasty cheesecake. To mix it up a bit you can add raisins, apple slices or any fruit you want on top of the pastry base before pouring in the cream cheese mixture.
So all in all, I had a lovely weekend in Germany being spoilt and eating a lot. I also gained a few new recipes from my grandmother which I’ll be trialling, so watch this space for more German food posts and recipes.