German Food – Post 2 (Regional Favorites)

Germany consists of 16 states, and each state has its own flavor, with different dialects, different cultural subtleties, and different food specialties. Giessen lies in the state of Hessen, which has a difficult, slurred dialect, and one famous, or infamous, food – Handkäse. Handkäse (Käse meaning cheese) is a cheese very low in fat, less than 5%, compared to many normal natural cheeses that can have around 40% fat. This makes Handkäse unique to say the least. It’s a very healthy cheese, with a high protein content, but this difference is definitely apparent in the flavor. At a town festival, Butzbach’s Germany Italian Friend Festival, Handkäse was for sale, and in order to take part in the full Germany experience, I decided to try it. It’s a hard, slightly yellowish, slightly transparent cheese with a distinct aroma. It’s formed by hand, (giving it its name), giving it a circular shape. Handkäse is usually served with onions (“mit Musik”, or “with music”) and Caraway seeds on the side, and is often accompanied by Apfelwein, or wine made from apples. This unique cheese has a distinct flavor, with a sour after taste. Let’s just say I think eating it once is enough. However, those who like it, love it.IMG_3053This Handkäse was served with the usual onions, but was also served with hot peppers, oil, apples, and a few leafy greens. One day, my host family and I drove down to Heidelberg for the day. Heidelberg is about two hours south of Giessen, and is in the state of Baden-Württemberg. This area has a specialty food called Maultaschen, “taschen” meaning “bag”. These resemble large ravioli, with large “bags” of pasta, filled with meat or vegetables. I ate mine with spinach inside, and I really enjoyed it. Surprisingly, they reminded me of Korean food. Coming from a half-Korean background, maybe this is expected, but something about it, I don’t know what, tasted Korean. I would recommend Maultaschen to anyone visiting Germany.IMG_3094                                              Maultaschen, served with salad.

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German Food – Part 1 (Bread)

Although this is primarily a recipe blog, I’m taking a short detour to blog about food I’ve eaten. I’m spending seven weeks in Germany (outside Giessen) as part of a school exchange program, and want to record some of my time there. I’ve been here for about four weeks, and have loved every minute of it. From the breathtaking fields to the 10 o’clock sunsets, from the cute little villages to the Cathedral in Strasbourg, from typical German breakfasts to Hazelnut ice cream, this trip has been full of wonderful experiences.
I unfortunately didn’t decide to record what I’ve been eating until now, so I didn’t take pictures of everything and many of my pictures are not quality. However, a little is better than nothing, so I’m trying this out anyway. I won’t be blogging chronologically, but hopefully I’ll be categorizing foods to give this some structure. I’m taking it one step (or post) at a time, so we’ll see how it goes.

Bread. Brot. Brötchen. So good. It puts anything from America to shame. German bread is much heartier than American bread, usually with whole grains, seeds, and nuts. Although Americans can also make or buy these heartier breads, they are not as common in America, and aren’t baked quite to perfection. I think one reason the bread is so much better is that it’s made without preservatives. Instead of buying a large loaf or two in a plastic bag to last a week, Germans go to the bakery every day or two to buy fresh bread.

IMG_3085 This is a typical weekend breakfast. From left to right, rolls (whole wheat with nuts and seeds), cheese, butter, peanut butter in the smooth and chunky varieties(this is here only because my host family knows Americans eat a lot of peanut butter), meat platter, more cheese, cream cheese (again, more unusual, mostly there because it’s American, although they do have their own type of cream cheese that’s really good), butter (unsalted this time), strawberry jam (homemade and delicious!), chocolate milk powder, apricot jam, nutella (a whopping 880 grams, a bigger size because I’m here🙂 ), and milk (3.8% – such a logical number I know🙂 ).

Bread is a big staple in Germany. It’s eaten at every breakfast – usually rolls (Brötchen) with butter, cheese, meat, jam, or nutella. Yes, the stereotype of Europeans eating lots of nutella is wonderfully correct. For lunch, this hearty bread is often eaten with sandwiches, and dinner consists of a typical hot meal or more bread with meats and cheeses (if a hot meal was consumed at lunch). Back in the day, men worked close to the home and women stayed at home looking after the house and children, so the men would come home for a large, hotcooked lunch every day. Then, a light bread and cheese dinner would be served. However, Germany has changed into the modern fastpaced society with working women, so it’d becoming more common to have a sandwich for lunch and a large hotcooked meal for dinner.

Bread comes in many shapes and sizes, but the most common shapes are rolls, baguettes, and large round loaves. Most bread comes containing seeds or nuts, although some also contains onions or other less common additives. White bread or sandwich bread can be bought at grocery stores (no – I’m not talking about BJ’s or Costo, I’m talking about a small local store), but it is much less common.

The most unusual bread I’ve eaten here definitely stands out from the rest. At at welcome back party for a German classmate who had spent the year in America, we had a open fire where we roasted not only wurst, but also bread! Someone had brought a bowl of dough, and we took pieces, wrapped it tightly around a stick, and roasted it. It was so good, especially smothered in nutella. It took maybe five minutes to roast, and the biggest concern was simply that when the dough was too thick, the inside wouldn’t be done while the outside would be burnt. However, with thin enough dough, this bread was so good. I’m definitely looking forward to trying this when I get back to America!

IMG_2787 Roasting bread – who knew?

 

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Buckeye Cookies

IMG_2337This year my high school is performing Seussical the Musical, a compilation of Dr. Seuss stories. I’m excited to see it, especially because I know a number of my friends have worked really hard learning it. It’s full of big, all cast numbers, and the music ranges over all genres, so it’s sure to be good. During intermission, the Junior class board will be selling cookies to raise money for prom, and they asked people to bring in baked goods to sell. I made cookies, and I went with my all time favorite flavor combination – chocolate and peanut butter.

I couldn’t tell you why it’s so good, whether it’s the chocolate or the peanut butter, but something about the combination get’s me every time. I love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, chocolate peanut butter ice cream, and any cookie with chocolate and peanut butter. One classic cookie is the buckeye, an easy no bake cookie that’s dipped in chocolate to look like an eyeball. This is a baked version of that cookie, and it is delicious. It requires more work than the average cookie, but the work is definitely worth it. Recipe courtesy of browneyedbaker.com

IngredientsIMG_2338
For the Cookies:
1½ cups flour
½ cup cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Filling:
¾ cup peanut butter
¾ cup powdered sugar

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt and set aside. With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter, sugars and peanut butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat to combine. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture and mix until combined.

In a separate medium bowl, mix together the peanut butter and powdered sugar for the filling until smooth.

Use a medium cookie scoop (or heaping tablespoon) of cookie dough and flatten it with your hands. Take about 1 teaspoon of the peanut butter filling (or a small cookie scoop) and place it in the center of the chocolate dough. Wrap the chocolate dough around the peanut butter center, pressing to seal. Roll the cookie into a ball and roll in the sugar. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Flatten each cookie slightly with the palm of your hand. Bake for about 8 minutes. Enjoy!

Seussical_11_x_17Everyone go out and see Seussical the Musical!

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Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Oatmeal Cookies

IMG_2328“Oh shoot! I told <insert name here> I would bring cookies tonight! But I’m leaving in an hour!” Ever thought this before? Most people have, and most people resort to going to the grocery store and buying the most homemade looking cookies to fudge as their own. Have no fear, this recipe is here! This quick (five minutes!) and easy cookie recipe will not only help you out  in a pinch, but will also be a hit – they’re amazing!

No one believes how easy these cookies are because they are so good! These cookies take five minutes to make and fifteen to cool. The recipe is also simply to double, but watch out, they are addictive! Recipe courtesy of foodnetwork.com.

Ingredients
2 cups granulated sugar
4 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 stick butter
½ cup milk
2 cups peanut butter
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups instant oatmeal (raw or lightly toasted)

Directions
Bring the sugar, cocoa powder, butter, and milk to a boil in a large saucepan. Let the mixture boil for one minute then add in the other three ingredients. When the mixture is combined, spoon it onto waxed paper and let the cookies cool. Enjoy!

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Girl Scout Cookies: Lemonades

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It’s that time of year again! Snow days, shoveling, and Girl Scout Cookies! Thin Mints are, in my opinion, the most famous and most delicious Girl Scout Cookie. They even have a signature smell. But, throughout the years, I’ve always had the same runner up, the Lemonade. This simply cookie always delivers above what I expect. Samoas are great, but there’s something about the fresh, buttery Lemonade that hits the spot every time.

Today, I’m trapped in the house with my dog, Haggis (yes, my dad named him after the Scottish dish when I was in third grade. I was too young to understand what haggis is). After attempting a walk Haggis through a couple of inches of snow, I soon had to turn around because the snow was up to my dog’s shoulders (he’s a Cairn Terrier, so his shoulders are only five inches off the ground🙂 ). Needing to procrastinate on homework a little longer, I decided to bake. I made my very own Lemonades, recipe courtesy of http://chefmom.sheknows.com/articles/951373/3-more-knock-off-girl-scout-cookie-recipes. They’re delicious, so I hope you relish them as much as I did!

And by the way, this recipe is great because it’s so simple, you don’t have to worry about having all the ingredients!IMG_2325

Ingredients
For the dough:
1 ½ cups softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt

For the icing glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2-3 drops of yellow food coloring (optional)

Directions
In a stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, and extracts. Then, slowly add the flour and salt until just combined. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let the dough cool in the refrigerator for about half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pull out the dough, and on a well floured surface, roll the dough to about ⅓” thick. Cut uniform circles (using a cookie cutter or a cup, mine were 2 1/2 inches in diameter) and bake on a greased surface for about 13 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are golden. Let the cookies cool completely. While the cookies cool, prepare the icing. Whisk together all the icing ingredients, and drizzle over all the cookies. Enjoy!

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A bonus picture of my dog, Haggis, after playing in the snow!

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Flop: The Ultimate Coffeecake

DSCN8794Snow day number two! Today, I decided to make an old family favorite –  by old I mean going back to my great grandma. She made a recipe we call “flop”, which is the simplest coffeecake out there, but the best. Whenever I bring some to friends or tell them about it, they skeptically look at me and wonder about the validity of a recipe called “flop”. But they always agree that it’s amazing once they try it. This is a special recipe for me, because I grew up always coming in from shoveling or coming in from playing in the snow to warm flop and hot chocolate. This basic batter is topped with lots and lots of butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. That’s what makes it amazing. Flop goes perfectly with hot chocolate, so check out this hot chocolate recipe!DSCN8798

Ingredients
2 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp. melted butter
2 tsp. baking powderDSCN8790

Direction
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add all five ingredients together and mix until combined. Pour the batter into a greased 8×8 pan. Then, top the batter with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. This is not measured, simply eyeballed, but the more the better. I usually use half a stick of butter, ⅓ cup brown sugar, and 2 ½ tsp. cinnamon, approximately. Enjoy!

DSCN8796

Hello there!

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Mocha Cupcakes

DSCN8792Snow day!! With a snowy forecast last night, I was waiting for the call that school was cancelled. Well it didn’t come until five forty-five this morning! At least it came. It snowed all day, so I was stuck at home.

My mom went gung ho with the baking/cooking thing, making two types of bread, a new French Onion Soup recipe, a new shrimp and grits recipe, and a new spinach cheese puff recipe (the spinach one was exceptionally tasty).

I was not quite as ambitious as she, but I did find this amazing mocha cupcake recipe. A while back, I made mocha brownies, simply put a little instant coffee into a box of brownie mix. I’m sure the same would have worked with a cupcake mix, but, with plenty of time to kill, I found a recipe from scratch.

These cupcakes were delectable. They were moist, rich, and very very mocha. These would be great for any occasion (although they only make a dozen cupcakes. I prefer making lots of cupcakes, so the recipe can always be doubled). Recipe courtesy of browneyedbaker.com.

Ingredients
For the Cupcakes:
1⅓ cups flour
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
½ cup strong brewed coffee, at room temperature
1½ teaspoons espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg

For the Frosting:
1 cup butter, softened

2½ cups powdered sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons espresso powder

Directions
For the cupcakes: Mix the espresso powder into the brewed coffee until dissolved; set aside to cool to room temperature. (I set mine in the refrigerator the speed up the cooling process.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a dozen muffin tins with paper. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Then, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, about three minutes. Add the egg and continue to beat until the mixture is combined. In a small bowl, combine the milk, brewed coffee mixture, and vanilla. Alternate adding the dry mixture and the wet mixture to the butter, sugar, and egg mixture. Beat until combined.Add the batter to the muffin tin and bake for about 17 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting: Use a whisk attachment of a stand mixer to whip the butter on medium-high speed for about 4 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar. Whip the mixture until it is light a fluffy. Add in the espresso and the vanilla, and beat until it is completely incorporated. Frost the cupcakes and enjoy!

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