Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bavarian Semmel Knödel (Bread Dumplings)

It's Halloween morning and I'm feeling the start of a sore throat. Great. It's sunny outside, but Fall is beginning to turn the morning temps to be a little crisp. Still, we are predicted to be in the low 70's.  I'm going to hunker down, at home, and do some serious baking. I haven't blogged a dessert in ages, and I want you to know that I love to bake!

I'm trying to find time to organize a multitude of food photos that I have uploaded from my camera-- but work wears me out and then I'm too tired to blog about. I so admire those of you who blog on a daily basis. How do you do it?? This weekend, that is about to change-- I hope.  Please forgive me, as I rewind time two weeks ago to my Oktoberfest party. I wanted to share with you my Mutti's (mother's) very traditional Semmel Knoedel (trying saying that one... KA-NEW-DEL)... well, it's a tough one, but that's as close I can get.  To make life easier, I'll refer to them as bread dumplings. They are a childhood favorite, and they go perfectly with  Austrian Goulash that is also one of the most requested meals from my two brothers.

This is recipe is similar to making stuffing. The real difference is that you use milk, instead of chicken stock.You want to use a hard roll (French bread will do, in a pinch). Stale works best.   The ingredients are very simple:  sliced bread, eggs, milk, fresh parsley and salt. I don't measure, but I'll do my best for those of you who rely on that.

I figure a little over one roll per person, which is sliced about 1/4" inch thick-- I sliced 8 hard rolls. Beat two eggs and add this to the bread. Add 1 tsp. of kosher salt and add some fresh chopped parsley. Scald one cup of whole milk (I use the microwave for this), pour over the sliced bread and cover the bowl so that the hot milk absorbs into the bread mixture for a few minutes.

It's time to play with your food. When the milk has cooled a bit, begin to mix together with wet hands. You want all of the bread to be wet, and squishy. You want the mixture to be well blended together.

For the "dumplings" and pat them together, well.

This yielded six dumplings. These will hold together, better, if you chill these for about 30 minutes...

Cook these in a pot of salted boiling water for about 15-20 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain well.
NOTE: I've had a few readers write that their dumplings "fell apart" while cooking them.  Be sure that you are using a stale bread-- at least one day old. You do need to work the bread enough, so that the dumplings aren't "loose".  In other words, I squeeze the stale bread to mix the egg and hot milk together.  Don't use too much milk, either. You want the dumplings to come together where they have a slightly sticky feel to them.  I've never had my dumplings fall apart!

This is childhood comfort food... Austrian Goulash and Semmel Knoedel.

The "art" of eating these--  cut in half...

Cut a bite-sized piece, dunk in gravy, close your eyes and imagine that you are in Bavaria or Austria.
Sometimes, with leftover knoedel, I slice them like cooked potatoes and fry them in bacon and onion, and pour over whisked egg.  It's fantastic as a breakfast. But, there are rarely leftovers.

These are very different, and I hope that you would try this very traditional German dish. I recently heard someone say that they don't like German food. I was disappointed to hear that. I wonder... what comes to mind when someone things of German food? Sausages? Potatoes? There are so many different regions of German food, so I hope to share more of my family heirloom recipes with you.  I hope to change someone's mindset. At least, I'll give it a try!
(To see how I made Austrian Goulash, click here.)

Off to make chicken soup and to rest so that I defeat this cold that's trying to ruin my weekend.

Have a safe Halloween!

Bavarian Semmel Knoedel (Bread Dumplings) on Foodista

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wasabi & Honey Glazed Salmon with Coconut Rice

I just love it when I spot a recipe, read the ingredients and realize I have everything to make it! I especially appreciate when an ingredient is something that has been sitting, neglected, in my cupboard (wasabi paste)-- and I finally have an incentive to use. That was the case when Mary posted this recipe on her blog "One Perfect Bite".   The only thing I had to do was to stop at Whole Foods, which is conveniently on my route home, to buy fresh salmon.
Fresh Coho Salmon-- two six-ounces pieces cost about $11.00... not bad, for Whole Foods!

On a whim, I also decided to make coconut rice as a side dish-- and if I had snow peas, I would served them as a perfect accompaniment. Alas, I didn't, but I served wilted spinach and the last of Brussel sprouts (which my husband loves, and I like).

The rice is pretty easy to make, and I started it, first. It takes about 30 minutes to make. I used 1 3/4 cups water, 1/2 cup Lite Coconut Milk (I always keep this on hand), and 3 Tbsp. of Sweet Chili Sauce. Sweet Chili Sauce is pretty easy to find-- usually it's in the international section at your local grocery store. I've spotted it at Trader Joe's, too.

I pour the coconut milk into simmering water, add the chili sauce (you can add less if you don't want much of a "kick"- though chili sauce isn't super hot, anyway.  Bring the liquids to a boil, add the rice, cover the pot and cook on low for about 20 minutes.  After that, let it sit for about 10 minutes...

Now, for the glaze sauce:
Honey, wasabi paste, rice vinegar, low-sodium soy sauce (I always buy Tamari), fresh ginger root and Mirin. If you don't have Mirin, then vermouth can work, or a dry white wine...or none of those.   Mix all of this in a sauce pan, but add the wasabi paste a little at a time. I found that a scant teaspoon was enough for us. I doubled the honey, after tasting it. That's why I renamed this recipe as Wasabi & Honey Glaze, to adapt to my fondness for honey.  Bring all of this to a boil, reduce to medium and let it thicken. Mine took about 10 minutes to thicken.

Here's where I adapted Mary's recipe to be my fool-proof way of cooking salmon.  In an oven-proof skillet, I use a light coating of olive oil and heat it on medium-high, until the oil is shimmering...

I seared the salmon for about 4 minutes, undisturbed...then turned it over skin-side down and I decided to brush some of the glaze over each piece.  The the whole skillet goes into a pre-heated oven at 425F...

...and it's roasted for about 4 more minutes.  Perfect!

I spooned the glaze over the salmon, but I think you could also brush it on. Mine got pretty thick, because I added extra honey.

The next time I make this easy glaze, I will double the amount. It's that good!

I have a delicious Roasted Brussel Sprout recipe that I will post, soon. Tonight, I steam these since Craig likes them roasted or steamed. Me?

I'm so glad you asked! I wilted fresh spinach in a garlic-infused olive oil-- I love spinach!

Printable recipes for both of these dishes can be found at the bottom of this post. If you are receiving my blog via Feedburner, you will need to JUMP to my blog to view them.

Mary, thanks for posting this recipe.  It was excellent, and definitely plan to use this glaze sauce recipe again. In fact, I think it would delicious without wasabi, if someone doesn't have it on hand. I have no idea why I had an unopened tube of wasabi, but I'm glad that I did.  This is for you!  If you haven't discovered "One Perfect Bite", please pop in and you will see that there are a lot of scrumptious recipes and beautiful photos.

I always post a printable recipe card at the end of each recipe post. If you cannot view it, you might be using an older version of Internet Explorer. You should be able to view my recipe cards with Safari, Mozilla, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer. If you still can't view the recipe card, all of my recipes are stored on Key Ingredient, by clicking here. If you still can't figure out how to view the printable recipe card, please email me at and I am happy to help.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Golden Cream of Mushroom Soup with Creme Fraiche & Crispy Shallots

Last week,  I impulsively bought large Portobello mushrooms,(which became a delicious Mushroom Bourguignon), and a package of pre-sliced cremini mushrooms.

Did you know that pre-sliced mushrooms cost the same as whole mushrooms? For the longest time, I  never noticed that. Now, I'll gladly skip doing the work, if I can! The only challenge with pre-sliced mushrooms is that you need to use them pretty quickly-- or they'll start to go south.

I created this soup by foraging through the vegetable pantry, and realizing I'd better make use of these creminis (which are baby portobellos) before they expired.  Dinner was ready in less than 45 minutes, and I had to write down how I created this soup right away. If I do say so, myself-- this was an excellent soup!  Let's begin, shall we?

Ah, shallots! I love them. Shallots aren't as overpowering as onion. I just think they're a pretty color.
So I sliced three smallish shallots. 1/3 of the shallots I cooked in a little olive oil until crispy, and then set them on a paper towel. Easy enough?

In a pot, I added a little olive oil and a small pat of unsalted butter and cooked the cremini mushrooms for a few minutes-- until slightly golden brown. I removed the cooked mushrooms into a bowl, and set it aside.

In the same pot, I added a little more olive oil (just enough to coat the pan) and cooked the shallots until just tender. I added the garlic and cooked it for about a minute-- just until fragrant. Next,  I added some dried thyme (my thyme plant is looking very pitiful right now), a little kosher salt & pepper and then about 2 tablespoons of flour-- that I cooked for about a minute.

I added some tomato paste (about 1 Tbsp.), some Golden Sherry (you could use white wine...or no booze at all), and a splash of the chicken stock and stirred it. Yes, it was looking nice a thick and it smelled so promising. I added the last of the chicken stock (32 oz total). You could use a mushroom or vegetable stock, if you want to go completely vegetarian.

I tasted the soup for seasoning, and it was pretty spot on! I let the soup simmer for about 10 minutes.
I am so thankful for my immersion blender that I bought many years ago for practically nothing. I think it's so much easier to puree soups in the pot-- but, you can puree this in batches in a blender. Knock yourself out! If you don't own an immersion blender, and you like making soups as much as I do... it's a great investment.
I pureed the mushrooms to leave small chunks. If you want it super creamy, that's okay too.
Now, add some heavy cream. I didn't measure, but I'd guess I added 1/4 cup of heavy cream and 1/4 cup of half and half.   Dinner' ready!  Soup, salad & bread...

For a nice touch, garnish this with some creme fraiche and the crispy shallots.
My personal touch is that I add a squeeze of fresh lemon to all my creamy soups. It's so good!

My husband is not a huge fan of mushrooms. Me? I love them.

Guess what? Craig and two helpings of this soup and said it was excellent.  I was pleased to hear that, because Cream of Mushroom soup is one of my very favorites-- if it's homemade. That stuff that falls out of can in a glop... no, that I don't like at all.

I promise that I'm out of mushrooms for now. I have more recipes to come, as soon as I slow down my busy life at the office!

I always post a printable recipe card at the end of each recipe post. If you cannot view it, you might be using an older version of InternetExplorer. You should be able to view my recipe cards with Safari, Mozilla, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer.
If you still can't view the recipe card, all of my recipes are stored on Key Ingredient, by clicking here.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

(Portobello) Mushroom Bourguignon to break in my new All-Clad pan!

TAP, TAP, TAP... Hello? Is this thing on? I've been without Comcast internet and telephone for 24 hours! I survived it, but it's good to be back! Now, I'm even farther behind in posting about 1 week and a half's worth of cooking and baking! Did you miss me? I missed all of you! I'd better get started...

 This tasty recipe was inspired by my blogger friend, Muneeba who found it from "Two Spoons", who found it from "Smitten Kitten", so I figured this must be a winner.  For some reason, I bought large Portobello mushrooms at Trader Joe's.  I had thought I might stuff them, but when I saw this recipe I knew it would be perfect as a meatless dish.  I was thankful that I had all the ingredients to make this, including red wine (which Muneeba didn't use) and a bag of Parpardelle Pasta.  I also decided to include bacon with this recipe, since I've used this when making a classic Bourguignon.
I had just received my new All-Clad 12 " skillet with a lid that I had ordered online.  This little beauty retails for $180.00 but I found it on this website for $89.00, including tax and shipping!  I made this on a work night, and I can assure you that this was ready to eat in 45 minutes. Let me show you:
You need portobello's (they are a very "meaty" kind of mushroom), beef stock, bacon, garlic, chopped onion, chopped carrots and dried thyme.  Red wine is a plus, which I always have on hand! Sour cream and chives are optional, as a garnish.

Ever since I posted how I store my bacon in the freezer, and how easy it is to slice frozen bacon (lardons) for recipes, my husband has been a very happy camper. He loves bacon in anything! So, I began by browning some bacon to render the fat-- I figured this would give the veggies a little extra flavor and removed the bacon with a slotted spoon and set that aside. (Yes, this cancels out the vegetarian aspect of the recipe. Just leave it out if you don't eat meat, and use vegetable stock instead of beef stock.)

I can finally appreciate what makes All-Clad pans so special. The pan does distribute heat quickly and evenly!  Slice the mushrooms at a little on the thick side, like about 1/4". I cooked this in a little olive oil and a pat of unsalted butter-- until browned and set mushroom onto a plate (or bowl).

Meanwhile, saute the carrots and onions with thyme, salt and pepper, until the onions are golden (finely minced in a food processor)  in the bacon fat in a Dutch Oven. . Add in the garlic and cook for another minute.

Add about 1/2 cup of red wine, and then  3/4 cup of beef stock to the pan, scraping any stuck bits off the bottom. Turn the heat up and let the mixture reduce for 2 minutes. Mix in the tomato paste, the rest of the broth and the browned mushrooms. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and let the whole thing simmer for 10 minutes.

 NOTE: The next time I make this, I will only use one pan. This time, I ended up pouring the mushrooms and sauce into the Dutch Oven, where I had the sauteed vegetables.

Add remaining butter to the pan and sprinkle flour over the top of the vegetables, quickly stirring in. Add the mushrooms, bacon and sauce to the vegetables and simmer for another 3–4 minutes. Taste, and season further with salt & pepper if needed.

Serve this with a bowl of warm, buttery egg noodles, spoon the mushroom bourguignon over the top, and garnish with a dollop of sour cream (I used lite, so it melts very quickly) and a sprinkling of chives or parsley.

Craig and I really loved this dish!  The sauce was rich from the tomato paste and the red wine was not overpowering at all. I think that the sour cream and chives was the perfect garnish.  This almost reminds me of Beef Stroganoff, which I enjoy serving on occasion.

As always, a printable recipe (with my adaptions) is at the bottom of this post. You can visit Muneeba at "An Edible Symphony" and compare how she made her version.  Thanks, Muneeba, for the inspiration!

I have, yet, to organize Tyler Florence's recipes that he demoed at the Harvest Festival. I still want to post the rest of my menu from our Oktoberfest menu, too! Hopefully, Craig won't pull the wires to the internet while he's organizing boxes in our attic (whoops!)

It's 75 degrees today-- so much for making soup, as I originally planned. I'd better come up with a Plan B!

I always post a printable recipe card at the end of each recipe post. If you cannot view it, you might be using an older version of InternetExplorer. You should be able to view my recipe cards with Safari, Mozilla, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer.
If you still can't view the recipe card, all of my recipes are stored on Key Ingredient, by clicking here.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Say "Cheese" Please! Ina Garten's Blue Cheese Souffle' & a Rockin' Salad

I've never made a souffle' before. Come to think of it, I've never eaten a savory souffle'. Oh sure, I've indulged in a rich chocolate souffle'. I used to indulge in a  Grand Marnier Souffle at a local restaurant that, sadly, closed after many years.  But, Blue Cheese?  I had to think about that, since I like blue cheese, but I'm not crazy about it.

I spotted this cheese at Trader Joe's and I thought this would make a nice combination, and would tone down the blue cheese a bit.

Yes, this would do nicely!  So I grated a little over 3 ounces of this-- it's delicious!

I made sure that I had my mise en place (which I usually call "mess in place"). It's crucial, I think, when I'm trying out a new recipe that might pose a challenge. The last thing I need is to find out that something is missing!

I read the directions a few times, and realized that this wasn't that hard to make. I would make a roux, add cheese, whip eggs whites and fold it in. How hard could that be? Ready? Here we go!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Butter the inside of an 8-cup souffle dish (7 ½ inches in diameter and 3 ¼ inches deep) and sprinkle evenly with Parmesan.
NOTE: I used 4 small ramekins and make "collars" with parchment paper so the souffle could rise higher. I had also read, somewhere, that coating the souffle dish with cornmeal helps the souffle to rise better. So I followed Ina's instructions to use Parmesan on two ramekins and I used cornmeal on the other two-- as an experiment.

  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
  • Off the heat, whisk in the hot milk (I heated it in the microwave for about 90 seconds), ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, the cayenne, and nutmeg.
  • Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, until smooth and thick.
NOTE: It took more like 3-4 minutes to become thick, for me.

Off the heat, while still hot, whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time. Stir in the Roquefort and the ¼ cup of Parmesan and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

  • Put the egg whites, cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
  • Beat on low speed for 1 minute, on medium speed for 1 minute, then finally on high speed until they form firm, glossy peaks.

Whisk ¼ of the egg whites into the cheese sauce to lighten and then fold in the rest.

Pour into the souffle dish, then smooth the top.
NOTE: I think I should have added the collar at the end (I could have used kitchen twine, but I taped it) I had no way of smoothing out the top!

Draw a large circle on top with the spatula to help the souffle rise evenly (used a long knife to do this), and place in the middle of the oven.
NOTE: I set the ramekins on a baking tray.
Turn the temperature down to 375 degrees F. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (don't peek!) until puffed and brown.
NOTE: My baked for about 22 minutes, since they were in smaller ramekins.

 My first souffle's. NOTE TO SELF: Make the collars smaller next time!

Yes!  It worked!  Yeah, they're not quite so smooth on top-- okay, they're not smooth at all!  But, they sure puffed up and smelled fantastic.

 That's a puffy souffle'!

I think that the corn meal vs. the parmesan cheese didn't make any dramatic difference in how the souffle' rose. I will say, though, that the dishes were super easy to clean.

I thought that a salad would be perfect with this meal. I drop into Stacey Snacks blog on a regular basis. I love her recipes-- they're simple, made with fresh ingredients and she's also a really friendly blogger.  I always learn something new about French & Italian cooking from her (she's knows a lot about catering and gourmet recipes).  She posted a beautiful Alsatian Tarte Flambe (which I plan to make) and her favorite French salad. I had every single ingredient to maker her salad-- spring salad mix with frisee', walnuts (which toasted in a dry skillet... I had white balsamic vinegar and walnut oil, too!

 The only thing I didn't have was Gruyere' Cheese.  I did, however, have Manchego Cheese from Spain:

It has a nice bite to it! I grated a handful of the cheese.

1 teaspoon of grainy mustard
2 tbsp of white balsamic vinegar
5 tbsp of walnut oil  ( used about 3 Tbsp.)

Toss all ingredients together with dressing, and you have a wonderful French salad.

It's light and refreshing. Stace, it's a winner!

Souffle's deflate quickly, so photographing meant I had to work fast! You need to serve these immediately. Fortunately, the salad was ready to go so that I could get this meal on the dinner table, quickly.

 The souffle' was, indeed, airy and very light. Craig and I both liked the cheese flavor, but it wasn't overpowering.

Craig and two and I hate one and a half.  It was satisfying, but not a heavy meal at all.

I'm so glad that I can cross "learn to make a souffle" off my list of things to learn.  Would I make this again? Maybe.  It's good, but I much prefer a dessert souffle'.

It certainly kicked up my culinary self-taught lessons up a notch. I don't know what I was so afraid of!

It's a wrap!

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