Today I am sharing a cookbook featuring one of my favorite cuisines, Culinaria Germany: A Celebration of Food and Tradition, along with a recipe for Rieslingsabayon (German Riesling Zabaglione). Since I actually already own the German version of this book, I will be giving the English 2015 edition I used for the review to one reader! Culinaria Germany, edited by Christine Metzger, highlights some of the best, authentic dishes from Germany’s sixteen states. You will find classics (Dresdner Stollen, Rheinischer Sauerbraten, a variety of Christmas cookies, Spätzle, Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, Bayerisch Creme, Gulasch, Schnitzel Holstein) along with the lesser known and interesting Hallorenkuchen (Saltworkers’ Cake), Aalsuppe (Eel Soup), Fliederbeersuppe (Elderberry Soup), Bremer Hühnersuppe (Bremen Chicken Soup), Versoffene Jungfern (Tipsy Maidens), and Mangoldsturzensalat (Beet Greens Salad).
Chapters are divided based on state: Thüringen (Thuringia), Sachsen (Saxony), Sachsen-Anhalt (Saxony-Anhalt), Berlin, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania), Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, Bremen, Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony), Nordrhein-Westfalen (North Rhine-Westphalia), Hessen (Hesse), Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate), Saarland, Baden-Württemberg, and Bayern (Bavaria).
Each chapter begins with an overview of the area and local influences to the food. Thüringen is the known as the green heart of Germany with half of the land used for agriculture. Sachsen is home to the smallest ethnic group in Europe, the Slavic Sorbs. Sachsen-Anhalt’s city of Würchwitz has a cheese delicacy made by coating balls of quark in cheese mites. Berlin was divided from the Second World War to 1989. Brandenburg was once the core of Prussia. Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is home to Rügen, Germany’s largest island. Schleswig-Holstein is known for their cuisine of rich stews, hams, dumplings, and fish. Hamburg has more canals than Venice. Bremen’s love of food is highlighted in the saying “in beten veel un een beten good” (“good food and plenty of it”). You will find hearty foods with simple, quality ingredients in Niedersachsen. Carnival celebrations are famous in Cologne, Nordrhein-Westfalen. The famous Frankfurter sausages in Hessen are a smoked delicacy made with pure spiced pork meat and 30 percent strong-flavored back bacon. Rheinland-Pfalz (my home) retain Roman influences in their vineyards, ruins, churches, and cities (most notably Trier). The Saarland’s cuisine is influenced by its close neighbor, France. Baden-Württemberg is home to the Black forest and the well-known Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cherry Cake). Bayern is the largest state in the Federal Republic of Germany and is a prime tourist destination with the Munich Oktobersfest and fairytale castles.
As with the other books in the Culinaria series (I have also reviewed Hungary, Greece, Spain, Italy, and China), there is so much more to the pages than the recipes. This book serves as an extensive guide to the culture, geography, and people. Religious customs and the food surrounding them (notably Easter, Christmas, Carnival) are explained in detail along with other celebrations such as Oktoberfest. You will also learn about the introduction of various ingredients like potatoes and the development of local delicacies.
The name of each dish is written in German and English. Measurements are provided in US Customary and Metric. There is a recipe index in the back of the book for easy look-up of dishes.
Photography is provided by Ruprecht Stempell, Christoph Büschel, and Saša Fuis. Many of the recipes include photos in a variety of sizes, generally of the finished dish. Step by step photos are also used for more tricky instructions such as forming potato dumplings, preparing baked ham, shucking an oyster, assembling Frankfurter Kranz (Frankfurt Ring Cake), and decorating a Lebkuchenhaus (Gingerbread House). Visual guides are featured throughout the book including types of Thüringer Klöße (Potato Dumplings), vegetables, fish, medicinal herbs, mushrooms, breads, and more. The highlight for me are the photos of gorgeous scenery, people, and foods that bring back memories of my time spent in the country.
This book is a great pick for those wanting to learn more about Germany and the history behind its cuisine. Recipes range from simple to the more advanced. Most of the ingredients are readily available in the average American grocery store. A few of the foods that may be more difficult to find include Hamburg smoked meat, redcurrants, sour cherries, and some types of fish. While German cuisine tends to be meat-heavy and this is definitely not a book made for vegetarians, the vegetables are not forgotten. Potatoes in particular are highlighted in plenty of preparations, from dumpling to pancake. Fruits, cabbage, peas, asparagus, cucumbers, beets, beans, and mushrooms can also be found. A variety of fish dishes are featured, both fresh and salt water. Bakers and those with a sweet tooth will have plenty of choices in desserts from cakes to cookies. There isn’t much to be found in the way of beverages other than using beer and wine as ingredients.
The recipe I chose to share is for Rieslingsabayon from Hessen. It is the German version of Zabaglione, but made with Riesling instead of the Italian Marsala. A sweetened egg yolk mixture is constantly whisked until frothy while being heated over a pot of boiling water. It is flavored with lemon zest, cinnamon, and Rheingau (Rhine District) Riesling wine. The resulting thickened cream is served as a dessert. It is delicious with fresh summer berries, poured over a slice of cake, or even with cookies for dipping.
Be sure to not stop whisking while the bowl is over the heat or the sabayon may develop pieces of scrambled eggs. It helps to change the direction of the whisk and make patterns instead of just stirring in circles. There isn’t anything overly difficult about the recipe, but you will get a bit of an arm workout. I don’t currently own a double boiler, so I prepared the sabayon in an oversized metal bowl placed over a medium saucepan.
Disclaimer: This recipe uses alcoholic ingredients that are not completely cooked out and intended only for those over the age of 21 (in the United States). Please drink responsibly.
I also made Zwiebelsuppe (Onion Soup), Reibekuchen (Potato Pancakes), Waffeln, and Maultaschen.
Zwiebelsuppe, Onion Soup from Thüringen, is similar to the French version, but it has its differences. Sliced onions are caramelized, then combined with sliced apples, meat stock, lager, and herbs. The soup is finished off with a sprinkling of grated cheese, chives, and/or croutons. We were all feeling sick recently with colds and the soup was quite warming.
I have always had difficulty with dishes that involve grated potatoes. Through practice, I figured out that my biggest mistakes were using the wrong type of potato or not removing enough of the moisture prior to cooking. I am finally starting to get better at it and so glad these Reibekuchen (Potato Pancakes) from Nordrhein-Westfalen came out perfectly. Reibekuchen (also known as Rievkooche) are similar to the hash brown patties in the United States. Waxy potatoes are grated and combined with diced onions and eggs. They are panfried in oil until crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. They are particularly popular in bars in Cologne.
Waffeln (Waffles) are also in the Nordrhein-Westfalen chapter. These waffles have a light texture made by folding beaten egg whites into the batter. They are also flavored with a little lemon zest. I served them with whipped cream and strawberry jam, but hot cherries and a dusting of powdered sugar are also common. Breakfast lovers will also find a variety of other breakfast foods in the book such as pancakes.
The Swabian Maultaschen seem to be lesser known outside of Central Europe, but they are one of my all-time favorite foods. I don’t remember the first time I tried it, but do remember my disappointment the first time I searched for them in an American grocery store as a child and being so disappointed that they were no where to be found. Maultaschen are similar to oversized ravioli with a spinach pork filling. They can be eaten a few ways: with beef soup, with potato salad and fried onion rings, or baked with a whisked egg and alongside a green salad. There are also recipes using an herb filling or dripping filling.
This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Camilla for response #8: “Following @hfullmann_int on twitter now as @Culinary_Cam”
For the giveaway: I received a copy of Culinaria Germany from H.F.Ullmann and I am giving it to one reader! Retail value is $19.99/ 14,95 €. Giveaway Entry Rules: Enter the giveaway below to win a free copy of Culinaria. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years or older and reside in the continental United States. The giveaway will open on Friday, May 13, 2016 and close on Thursday, May 19, 2016 at 11:59 pm EST. One winner will be randomly chosen from the comments via Random.org and contacted via the email (so please give your email in the email section of the comment form- only I will see it) given and on this post. The number of eligible entries received determine the odds of winning. You will have 24 hours to respond via email or another comment will be randomly chosen. Void where prohibited by law. Mandatory Entry: Leave one comment on this post answering the following question- What is your favorite German food?
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Disclaimer and Disclosure: I was given a copy of Culinaria Germany by H.F. Ullmann in exchange for my review. I am using this copy for the giveaway. All opinions stated here are my own.
Rieslingsabayon (German Riesling Zabaglione)
Adapted from Culinaria Germany
4 egg yolks
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup (250 ml) Rheingau Riesling wine
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In the top of a double boiler or a heat safe metal bowl, beat together the egg yolks and sugar. While whisking, add a splash of hot water to form a smooth cream.
Bring a saucepan 1/4-1/2 filled with water to a boil. Place the bowl over the saucepan, making sure the boiling water isn’t touching the bottom of the bowl. Whisk constantly while slowly adding the Riesling. Continue to beat until foamy and thickened, then beat in the lemon zest and cinnamon. Remove the bowl from over the saucepan and continue whisking until the mixture cools to lukewarm.
Serve immediately in dessert dishes with fresh berries or cookies for dunking.