Culinary Travel Part IV: Austria


Last night was Christian’s choice for what country we would “visit” for dinner, and he chose Austria. His choice meant that he would make the entree and I would make the appetizer and dessert. Now, I don’t know that much about Austria other than the Von Trapp Family and that the country is known for it’s amazing tortes and coffee. And the fact that Christian’s home town is only about an hour away from the border of Austria made me feel he really had an unfair advantage 😉
As an appetizer, I made what I seem to be best at lately: a soup. Paprika soup to be exact:

Austrian Paprika soup
3 Slices Bacon — diced
1 Large Onion — chopped
2 Large Green Pepper — chopped
1 Tablespoon Flour
1 Tablespoon Paprika
6 Cups Beef Broth
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
4 Large Potato — diced
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
Directions Saute bacon, onion and peppers for 10 minutes. drain grease. add flour and paprika and cook for 2 minutes. add broth, salt and potatoes. simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are done. pour into soup bowls and top with sour cream.
Serves 4

I pretty much followed the above directions except for the fact that I added WAY more paprika than recommended AND I added some of the liquids and fat left over from cooking a pork shoulder in my Crock Pot to the veggies before adding the beef broth. Christian’s verdict? “A KEEPER.” He loved it, but I felt like I cheated because it was so easy. Wow. I have a calling, and it’s stews and soups.

Christian’s entree? He made Krautfleckerln, a pasta dish of sorts, with white cabbage and bacon. Deliciousness! And really so simple. I could have possibly even been successful at it:

Zutaten für 3 Portion:
Kopf Weißkraut
1 TL Zucker
1 Schuss Fett oder Öl
1 Zwiebel gewürfelt
500 g Fleckerl
1 Prise Salz
1 Prise Pfeffer

Die Nudeln im Salzwasser bissfest kochen, abseiehen und mit kaltem Wasser abschrecken. Die Zwiebel im Fett anrösten, Zucker dazugeben, Kraut in feine Streifen schneiden und dazugeben.

Alles zugedeckt dünsten lassen und mit Salz und Pfeffer abschmecken. Bei Bedarf etwas Wasser nachleeren. Zum Schluss die Fleckerlnudeln zugeben und mit Blattsalat servieren.

Wenn man mag, kann man auch Schinken oder Speck dazugeben (am Anfang im Öl anbraten).

Desserts always, always trip me up. And, after my last dessert attempt of dumplings, you’d think I would have had the common sense to stay away from dumplings. But noooooo, I had to fall in love with the very thought of potato-plum dumplings (god knows I wouldn’t ever consider making a torte!). Now, while the dumplings were a hit, we both agreed that dispensing of the potatoes and just using regular dough would have certainly made it a runaway winner. But it certainly was eaten, and that is what counts!

INGREDIENTS:
4 large russet potatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup farina
1 cup all-purpose flour, or as needed

12 Italian prune plums
12 cubes white sugar

1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup white sugar
1 cup dry bread crumbs

additional melted butter and sugar for
garnish (optional)
DIRECTIONS:
1. Scrub potatoes, and place them into a large pot with enough water to cover. bring to a boil, and cook until tender, about 40 minutes. Drain, and cool. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel, and press through a ricer into a large bowl. Set aside to cool. This part of the process can be done as much as one day in advance.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the prepared potatoes, salt, egg, and 1 tablespoon of butter until well blended. Gradually stir in the farina, and then the flour. If dough is still wet, more flour can be mixed in. Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and knead until smooth, about 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Split open each plum where it cracks, and remove the pit. Replace each pit with a sugar cube, and close.
4. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into twelve 3 inch squares. Place one plum into each square, and bring the corners around to the top. Pinch together all of the seams to seal.
5. Bring a large pot of water to a slow boil. Place about 4 dumplings into the water at a time. Once they float to the surface, continue to cook them for about 5 more minutes. Transfer cooked dumplings to a covered bowl, and keep warm.
6. Melt the remaining 1/2 cup of butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Stir in bread crumbs, and 1/4 cup of sugar. Continue to cook and stir until browned. Remove the bread crumbs to a plate, and roll warm dumplings in the mixture until entirely coated. To serve, place a dumpling or two on a plate, sprinkle with a little sugar and a little extra melted butter, if desired.

We enjoyed our Austrian meal with a background of Mozart and afterwards watched (or Christian watched…I inevitably fell asleep not out of boredom but out of pregnancy) “The Counterfeiters,” a movie not based in Austria but staring an Austrian actor (Blockbuster isn’t the best place to look for an Austrian film). I HAD suggested “The Sound of Music,” lol.

•••

Christian leaves Thursday, but in terms of edible food (i.e. me not living on PBJ sandwiches or Lean Cuisine) I’m covered. In fact, TOO covered. We have frozen meals packed to the ceiling and I almost feel I’ll need to have a party to get rid of all the meals we’ve stockpiled. I’ll be a well-fed mamma while he’s gone. Christian made some incredible meals the last few days. I will not, will not, will not step on that scale until my next doctor’s appointment! Here’s some of his cooking efforts (successes):

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