Dukatenschnitzerl

On Christmas Eve Robert and I feasted on fresh raw oysters, a fresh whole baked trout with lemon and herbs, and parsley potatoes before opening gifts in the evening. Unlike in the States, Germans (along with many other European countries) celebrate Christmas on the 24th, Christmas Eve, with a big family dinner and  gift exchange in the evening.

On Christmas Day we made dukatenschnitzerl, or little fried balls of pork and fried potatoes with a lemon-thyme salt and fried parsley. This dish reminds me of the classic British fish and chips dish, but pork instead of fish. (Is there honestly anything better than fried pork??!) It´s a classic Austrian dish. We used a recipe from the Wiener Küche cookbook by Susanne Zimmel. FYI:  “Dukaten” is an old word for “coin” and the pieces of pork and potato are roughly the size of coins, which is where this dish gets its name — “little coin schnitzel.”

First, here is a list of ingredients you will need:

  • Potatoes
  • Fresh thyme
  • Fresh parsley
  • Lemon
  • Pork tenderloin
  • Butter
  • Lard
  • Eggs
  • Flour
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Salt & Pepper

To get started, boil the potatoes until they are soft, about 30 minutes. While the potatoes are boiling, remove a few sprigs of thyme from the stem.

Then, get out your mortar and pestle to make the lemon-thyme salt. First, place the thyme inside and add the zest of one lemon. Crush well. Then, add salt and pepper and crush well once more. (As you can see, we also added a few dried tomatoes because we had them, but these are not required.)

While the potatoes continue to boil, cut up the pork tenderloin into bite-sized pieces. Also, set up your flour-egg-breadcrumb station (from left to right) as you can see below. At this point, the potatoes are likely soft and can be removed from the boiling water. Once the potatoes have cooled a bit and are easy to handle, peel them and cut into bite-sized pieces as well.

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Pork tenderloin cut into small pieces
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Flour + Eggs + Breadcrumbs
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Boiled potatoes cut into bite-sized pieces

Next, put the butter and the lard (schmalz) into a big pot, which is what you will use to fry the pork, potatoes, and parsley. Allow the butter and lard to melt and then raise the temperature to 150ºC for frying. Add the potatoes to the pot with butter and lard and fry until they´re crunchy like french fries or chips.

Next, fry a few sprigs of fresh parsley in the same pot of hot butter and lard. Make sure to have a plate or bowl lined with paper towel nearby where you can deposit the potatoes, parsley, and ultimately the pork after frying so that any excess frying grease can be absorbed.

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Fried Potatoes
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Fried Parsley

Now, take the pork pieces and dip into the flour, then the eggs, and finally the breadcrumbs before placing into the frying pot. Be sure the butter-lard is still at 150ºC for frying. Fry the pork until golden brown in color.

Now that the potatoes, parsley, and pork has been fried you’re ready to assemble! We served our dinner in newspaper cones as if it were street food. Just load up the cone with pieces of the fried pork and fried potatoes and top with slices of lemon, the fried parsley, and the lemon-thyme salt …and bon appetit!

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Feinkost Panzer – Stuttgart West

One of my most favorite places in Stuttgart is located just around the corner from our apartment in Stuttgart West, a little shop called Feinkost Panzer. I mentioned this special place in a previous blog post, but finally got around to taking a few more pictures inside the store to share here.

The store is run by a tiny blonde woman, Theresia Panzer, and is modeled after a small  delicatessen she stumbled upon while in Paris, pictured here:

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Frau Panzer handpicks all of the items she sells, and it’s clear that she has great taste!  She sells a little bit of everything — fruit, vegetables, meats and cheeses, bread, pasta, chocolates and other sweets, wine, juice and soda, flowers, coffees and teas, oils and vinegars, jams, honey, and the list goes on and on. She’s even getting us a whole fish from the market tomorrow morning at 5am (!) for our Christmas dinner.

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Feinkost Panzer is also a stop on the Stuttgart West walking culinary tour. If you visit Stuttgart, be sure to visit this gem…and tell her that Dr. Ebner and Nicole sent you! 🙂

Finnish Christmas Market Stuttgart

Yesterday I had an appointment at the Deutsch-Amerikanisches Zentrum (or German-American Center) here in Stuttgart. (More on that meeting later — exciting things to come, I think!) Anyway, the DAZ is located at the Charlottenplatz and I had some time to kill before my meeting so I stopped at the Christmas Market (Weihnachtsmarkt) for the obligatory rote wurst (or red sausage, a favorite in Swabia) and then, completely by accident, stumbled upon the Finnish Christmas Market.

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Rote Wurst

We walked through the Finnish market while in Hannover, but I had no idea that something similar was here in Stuttgart. It’s a really special area of the market, located just across the way from the ice skating rink. There’s a really nice gift shop with Finnish specialty foods and handmade winter clothes — very nice things, but also very expensive. There are also several outdoor fire pits where fresh salmon (flammlachs) is being grilled to perfection to be served alone or on a sandwich and their famous mulled wine, Glögi, is served. If you find yourself in Stuttgart during the holiday season, I highly recommend adding the Finnish section of the Christmas market to your bucket list.

After enjoying flammlachs and Glögi, head over to the Grand Cafe Planie on the Karlsplatz for coffee and dessert. Or flammkuchen. They have really good flammkuchen too. 🙂 They have a huge dessert counter in front with all kinds of house-made cakes, pies, and baked goods. It’s such a warm, cozy spot perfect for this time of year — and it’s really nicely decorated for the holidays. I opted for the blueberry cheesecake, which did not disappoint!

 

 

A Few Days in Hannover

Last week Robert had a conference in Hannover, Germany and I tagged along for the chance to spend a few days in another German city. Hannover is in the north so the weather wasn’t so great — very windy and rainy this time of year. We stayed right near the conference center at the Congress Hotel am Stadtpark, which is also very close to the Erlebnis Zoo and the Stadtpark (city park). Here’s a photo of the view from our room:

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We were three train stops (10 minutes) from downtown and the old part of the city, which is home to the annual Hannover Weihnachtsmarkt or Christmas market. I thought the Christmas market here in Stuttgart was big, but it’s nothing compared to Hannover! In fact, they have three different holiday markets throughout the city — one in the old historic district, one in the pedestrianized area downtown, and one near the main train station. We walked through the first two of three. There are over 150 stalls selling just about everything under the sun. And the lights and decorations are just spectacular!

The market in the historic old section of the city is like nothing I’ve seen before. It felt like we were in the Game of Thrones, no joke. It was very dark and medieval. There were no bright holiday lights or music. Instead there were fire throwers, ax throwers, fortune tellers, and all kinds of vendors selling mysterious potions and artifacts. Although a little spooky, this section of the market is not to be missed as it’s definitely a one-of-a-kind experience. Also, right next to the medieval market is the Finnish Christmas market where you can enjoy flammlachs or slow-grilled salmon cooked over an open fire.

Finally, I can’t talk about our short trip without mentioning an unforgettable dinner. Thanks to Trip Advisor we found an amazing little family-run restaurant within walking distance of our hotel called Hindenburg Klassik. Highly recommend! We started with an amuse-bouche, compliments of the chef, a crab and herb roll filled with cucumber, tomato, and prosciutto. Next came a poached egg topped with fresh black truffle, three types of duck liver with poached pear, and for the main entree we shared a European sea bass (branzino) that was deboned and prepared tableside. I’m still thinking about that egg… 🙂

An American Thanksgiving in Germany

Robert and I hosted our second annual Thanksgiving dinner here in Stuttgart. We celebrated one day late, on Friday, November 25th and hosted 7 friends at our home.

(Long story short, our dinner last year was a total flop! I flew from Chicago to Stuttgart the night before and didn’t get really any sleep on the flight. Also, Robert worked a 24-hour shift the day before so we were both just beat. The only benefit of flying in just before the holiday last year was that I packed my suitcase to the brim with typical Thanksgiving ingredients that are very hard to find here — Stove Top stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy in a jar, etc. So, needless to say, this year everything we prepared was homemade and I’m happy to report that we really pulled it off!)

Here are photos of some of the decorations I was able to find on Amazon.de that we used to decorate our living room and dinner table:

As expected, I wasn’t able to find a whole lot of Thanksgiving decorations, but what I did find made our home feel festive and cozy — and a vast improvement over the simple white tablecloth and unsatisfying food we provided last year! Speaking of food, I didn’t take nearly enough photos as we were so busy preparing food and entertaining guests. However, a copy of the menu is above and here are a few photos along with links to recipes. I’ll say here that everything was really good and I’d highly recommend these recipes for any Thanksgiving gathering, or any occasion at all.

In the picture on the left, you can see the homemade slow cooker creamed corn and roasted butternut squash and Brussels sprouts with a honey-orange dressing and pomegranate seeds. I made both of these dishes the day before, refrigerated overnight, and reheated just before our guests arrived. On the right is our custom Herbstgold cake from the bakery down the street, torte & törtchen. Our friend Caro made a Manhattan cheesecake, which was delicious and reminded me of home.

We did a really typical and easy turkey — stuffed with lemons, celery, carrots, and herbs and then smothered with butter, salt, and pepper. Our bird was 7.5 kilograms bought at the Vogelsang Bio Markthalle for 150€. Super expensive, I know. I also know that it was fresh (killed the day before) and organic, but the price still shocked the both of us. My guess is that the butcher at this market probably doesn’t sell a whole lot of whole turkeys so perhaps they’re not sure how to price properly. We also did really easy mashed potatoes with milk, butter, and a little fresh nutmeg.

I used a handy chart that I found on Buzzfeed to prepare the stuffing. The only additional ingredient I added was bacon (10 slices) and I used dried rosemary and thyme because I couldn’t find fresh sage.

Robert made our appetizers. We had Liptauer, which is a spicy red pepper and cheese dip typical in Austria that he remembers eating often as a child. He also made bruschetta — one with cherry tomatoes and one with avocado.

Needless to say, we were all stuffed and I think we were successfully able to redeem ourselves from last year’s disaster! I think (and hope!) that they’ll all come back again to celebrate with us again next year. 🙂

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving! I’m still wearing my fat pants… 🙂

Super Easy Stuffed Peppers

Last night Robert and I made really easy stuffed peppers. You’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Large bell peppers (we used red, green, and yellow)
  • Bulgar, cooked
  • Chickpeas
  • Fresh Chives
  • Feta Cheese

The easy recipe is as follows: cut the peppers in half and clean out the inside, in a bowl combine chives + bulgar + chickpeas and then use this mix to fully stuff each pepper, top with feta cheese and roast in the oven (we had our oven set at 200°C) for 15 minutes. Here is a picture of the peppers before they went in the oven and one after. ENJOY!

 

Pumpkin Soup / Kürbissuppe

Tonight we made pumpkin soup (in German: kürbissuppe) for dinner. We used a recipe from a cookbook I bought for Robert for Christmas last year, Wiener Küche by Susanne Zimmel. (“Wiener kuche” translates to “Viennese cuisine.”) We used a Hokkaido pumpkin, which we picked up at the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival last month.

The recipe I’m sharing here is for 8 servings (we doubled the recipe from the book). It’s super easy and healthy. Here are the ingredients you will need:

  • 1 Hokkaido pumpkin, de-seeded and chopped into large pieces
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 600ml / 2.5c of vegetable (or beef) broth
  • 1/2 diced onion
  • 1 pinch of chili flakes (if you’d like, for a little heat)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive (or other vegetable) oil
  • 100g / 1c of heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon peanut butter (surprise!)
  • a drizzle of pumpkin oil

The first step is to dice the onion and chop the pumpkin. At the same time, heat the vegetable stock in a small pot.

Then, heat the olive oil in a medium-sized pot and add the onion and cook until translucent. Then, add the tomato paste and stir until the onion and tomato are incorporated. Finally, add the pumpkin, the vegetable broth, and the chili flakes to the onion-tomato mix and stir well. Cover with a lid and low boil for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, remove the lid and add the heavy cream and peanut butter and stir well. Blend all ingredients well with an immersion blender. Finally, spoon the soup into bowls and add a drizzle of pumpkin oil.

ENJOY!

 

Early Expat Life

Almost five months ago I said goodbye to my life in Chicago and moved to Stuttgart, Germany. I’ve been thinking a lot about how my life has changed and what I’ve accomplished in the last several months. So, I thought I might share a bit of my “everyday” life here. Of course there’s been a bit of travel and lots of dining out and exploring and learning, but my life isn’t nearly as glamorous as it may look!

I’m really happy to report that I’ve completed my first 4 weeks of German language school at the Anglo-German Institute (AGI). (My classes take place at the Ulrich-Walter Schule on Calwerstraße downtown, as pictured below.) It’s hard. Really HARD. Before I moved here I talked to people in the U.S. and told them that I’d be learning German and I’d hear one of two things in response: “Oh, German’s easy!” or “Good luck. German’s a tough language.” Well, I can confirm that the latter is true for me. Perhaps it’s that I’ve never been good at learning foreign languages, or that I haven’t been in school for so many years and my brain is out of practice, or maybe German is just a tough language. My next 4-week course begins at the end of November and in the meantime I’m spending time studying and making flash cards. The upside to school is that I met some nice people in my class — Mirela from Romania, Simona from Italy, Sama from Iran, Tessa from New Zealand, and Louie from England.

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Outside of school, my friend Sabine gifted me 10 weeks of beginner’s yoga just down the street (one U-Bahn stop) from my apartment at Yoga Vidya. This is my first-ever attempt at yoga and I’m loving it so far. The class is in German (not English), but I don’t mind at all. My teacher speaks English and she’s really helpful with me, and I do a lot of looking around to see what I should be doing. 🙂 It’s the highlight of my week and does a body and soul good. When we were in München a couple of weeks ago I bought a yoga mat and belt and now I’m on the lookout for good beginner yoga YouTube channels to help me at home — recommendations welcome!

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I can’t talk about my life here without mentioning my favorite little store around the corner, Feinkost Panzer in Stuttgart West at Arndtstraße 38.

(In case you’re wondering, that strange looking “B” symbol loosely translates to “ss.” For example, “street” is “strasse” or “straße.” -See! I’m learning!)

Frau Panzer, the woman who owns and operates the store, is an absolute gem. I first met her over a year ago when visiting Robert last summer. She speaks English, she carries the best products, gifts, veggies, and fruit, and she makes great sandwiches and soups. I’ve always dreamed of having a “shop around the corner” and now I have this special place! She sells all types of fresh fruits and veggies, juice, milk, cheese, sliced meat, dried pasta, chocolate, cookies and sweets, gifts and specialties from this region of Germany, wine, gin, and the list goes on and on and on. It really is a special place run by a special woman. I’m so happy to have this place (and woman!) in my life.

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Finally, here is a picture of the U-Bahn train, which I take to get most everywhere in Stuttgart. It’s like a breath of fresh air — clean, quiet, fast, and reliable, unlike the transit system in Chicago! Also, a photo of Robert’s Vespa (I’m still nervous and excited every time I get on!) and a picture of our street, Seyfferstraße.

Outside of all of this (school, yoga, travel, time with Robert) my life is pretty uneventful. I do a lot of laundry, a lot of cleaning, and A LOT of recycling. But, the reality is that — despite some stress and a few panic attacks — I am really happy here. It hasn’t been an easy adjustment, for sure, but my husband (so grateful for him) and the Germans (despite any negative stereotypes) have made my life joyful and meaningful. I look forward to the months and years ahead.

Marcella Hazan’s Lasagna

You may have read in my Roma & München blog post that I missed out on the famous lasagna at Tavernaccia da Bruno while in Rome so Robert and I decided that, once back in Stuttgart, we would make Marcella Hazan’s classic lasagna with bechamel and bolognese sauce. Hazan is by-far my favorite Italian cookbook author. I make her easy tomato sauce at least once a week. My favorite book by her is The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, which is where we found this lasagna recipe. I bought this book in Florence, Italy in 2001 while studying abroad so it also carries a lot of special memories. Here I will include the recipe with photos.

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First, we made the Bolognese sauce. Here are the ingredients you will need:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 45g / 1.5oz butter
  • 85g / 3oz onion, chopped
  • 3 sticks  celery, chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped
  • 350g / 12oz ground beef
  • 250ml / 8oz whole milk
  • nutmeg
  • 250ml / 8oz white wine
  • 500g / 1lb + 2oz canned Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with juices

The first step is to chop the carrots, celery, and onion. Then, add the butter, oil, and onions to a medium-heat pan (I used Le Creuset) and cook the onions until translucent. Then, add the carrots and celery and cook altogether for a few minutes. Add the ground beef to the mixture and salt immediately, separate with a fork, and cook until no longer raw. Add a sprinkle of fresh nutmeg. Then, add the milk and cook until the milk completely boils away.

Then, add the white wine and tomatoes and let simmer for at least three hours. The waiting is tough as it already smells so good! And, that’s it for the Bolognese sauce! Just wait, wait, wait… 🙂

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Then, when the Bolognese sauce is ~10 minutes from being finished, get started on the Bechamel sauce.

Ingredients for Bechamel sauce:

  • 450ml / 3/4pint milk
  • 50g / 2oz butter
  • 47g / 1+3/4oz flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Add the milk to a pot and bring just to the verge of boiling. While heating the milk, melt the butter in a separate saucepan and then turn the heat down to low. Add the flour and stir constantly for 2 minutes. Add the hot milk (a couple of spoonfuls at a time) to the flour/butter mixture and continue stirring. Once all ingredients are incorporated, turn the heat down to low, add salt, and stir until the sauce has the consistency of sour cream. Done! Finally, add the bechamel sauce to the bolognese sauce and stir well.

Now it’s time to assemble the lasagna and stick it in the oven!

Ingredients for Lasagna:

  • Lasagna noodles (fresh or store-bought)
  • Butter (for greasing the baking dish)
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese , shredded (for the top of the lasagna before baking and serving)

Cook the lasagna noodles in salted boiling water according the directions on the package if store-bought, or for just a few seconds if using fresh pasta. Once boiled, rinse the pasta in cold water and lay flat. Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400ºF. Grease the lasagna pan with butter. Line the bottom of the pan with lasagna noodles. Spread a thin layer of the bechamel-bolognese sauce on the noodles and top with shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano. Repeat the last few steps until you have at least 6 layers of pasta — make sure to reserve enough bechamel-bolognese sauce for the top layer. Once complete, sprinkle the top with Parmigiano-Reggiano and a few dollops of butter. Bake for 10-15 minutes…and ENJOY!!

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Meet Robert

Here are a few pictures of my husband, the mysterious “Robert” that I make mention of in several of my blog posts. He’s Austrian and from Vienna, but has been living and working in Germany for the last several years. We met in Vienna in June 2015 while I was on a solo travel trip (from Chicago) that took me to Prague, Vienna, and Paris. He was my personal tour guide in Vienna (nothing better than a local!), he followed me to Paris, and the rest is history. He’s the best. ♥