Bruadarach

Scottish Gaelic: Dreamer, Visionary

Tag: Whisky

Cookbook Challenge 12 – My Viennese Kitchen

The cookbook challenge is coming to an end, this is the last one – for now at least. This is going back to the basics and my Austrian roots with the Plachutta “My Viennese Kitchen” cookbook. Plachutta is one of my favourite restaurants in Vienna and they are famous for their beef dishes. “The Good Kitchen”, one of my top 3 favourite cookbooks of all time, was co-written by Mr. Plachutta as well. So a few years ago, my dad got me a signed copy of his newest book. Finding something in there I hadn’t made before was surely going to be a big challenge. Adding to that Mick’s special request of “traditional, but different”, I knew it wasn’t going to be all that easy.

Eventually, I went for Quark Dumplings. I had made the dough before but made the dumplings with plums in the middle, not just plain ones. For them you need something fruity to go with it, so I decided to be experimental there. Traditionally you eat them with a plum sauce or apple sauce, but I decided to use cowberries, which I got in a jar as a whole with sauce around them. Not as saucy as a jam. For the twist, I just decided to add Whisky.

 

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Quark Dumplings with Cranberry Whisky Sauce

For the dough:
350g quark (sometimes referred to as curd cheese but that is produced differently)
50g butter100g breadcrumbs
1 egg yolk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons icing sugar
Salt
Zest of half a lemon

For the icing:
50g butter
Breadcrumbs
Castor Sugar

For the sauce:
Cranberries or cowberries in a jar, whole with sauce
Whisky

 

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For the dough you simply mix all the ingredients together. Make sure the butter is soft so you won’t have clumps in the dough later which will then make holes in the dumpling. Once the dough is thoroughly mixed through, put it in the fridge to rest for about an hour.

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Once the dough has rested, put on a big pot of water and bring it to the boil. Whilst that is heating up, start forming the dumplings out of the dough. They should have a diameter of about 4 cm, and I admit I also prefer them rather small. Make sure your hands are thoroughly covered in flour because it’s a very sticky dough. Then cover the dumplings in a thin layer of flour before you put them in the boiling water. The dumplings need about 10 minutes in the boiling water. Many dumplings are ready when they rise to the surface of the water. Those will rise to the surface quite soon though, so don’t take them out just yet.

In the meantime, prepare the breadcrumbs to coat the dumplings. Since it’s the last challenge, I will admit that Austrian cuisine wouldn’t work without breadcrumbs. In case you were wondering. In the original recipe, the breadcrumbs just get roasted in a ton of butter. Since that’s not how my granny made it – here’s how it really goes.

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Put a big knob of butter in a hot pan and melt it. Then pour in breadcrumbs, I reckon about 100g. I always rather have too much breadcrumbs. Stir it and add castor sugar- I’d say about a third the amount of the breadcrumbs. The goal here is to get the sugar melted, caramelised and have the breadcrumbs nice and golden brown. You have to stir it often so it won’t burn or stick to the pan. Also when you’re finished and it’s cooling down you need to make sure you still occasionally stir it because otherwise it will get quite solid when the caramel hardens.

 

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In a small pot, put in two big tablespoon full of the cranberries. Add a shot of whisky and bring it to the boil whilst steering it. Then put the pot aside to let it cool down.

When the dumplings are ready, take them out of the water and drain them of any excess water. Then roll them in the breadcrumbs until they are fully covered. Add some more breadcrumbs to the plate, sprinkle some icing sugar over the top and add the cranberry sauce. Finished!

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Like I said, I had made that dough before for plum dumplings, which are some of my favourite. You can also stick a strawberry, an apricot or a piece of chocolate in the middle. Then you usually don’t need the fruity sauce anymore. Some also recommend making those dumplings with a potato dough, but I find it too heavy for a desert which is already so sweet. The quark dumplings turned out extremely light though, so that worked very well. I always like a spot of fruit with my dessert, so I wouldn’t have made them without the sauce. Adding the Whisky to the sauce gave it an extra zing which was much appreciated. My only problem is that I keep forgetting how filling they are and after the third dumpling I was completely stuffed. But the good kind of stuffed. If anyone’s wondering – yes, I’ll totally make them again!

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Cookbook Challenge 2 – Haggis, Whisky & Co

As promised, there will be a second recipe inspired by (because I barely ever follow a recipe precisely) from my Scottish cookbook. For this challenge, Mick added the comment “leave out one single ingredient”. Since this recipe included 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, this was an easy one. I haven’t had nice experiences with it and wasn’t willing to get one for one teaspoon. So I left it out. Might have replaced some other things too, but that’s just how I cook. The fact that you don’t mince actual steak for a steak pie helped as well (that would’ve been just cruel I’m sure)!

I’ve never had Steak Pie when I was in the UK, always a bit suspicious of them. Especially because they often have intestines as well which I don’t eat. So I thought for my first one, I might as well do it myself. On top of that, I’ve never made any meat pie and seldom a pie like that at all! I hoped at least the filling would be tasty in case the whole thing fell apart. The recipe talks about smaller pies but without a muffin form – just moulded and then filled. Now that sounded as if it was going to fall apart, so I went with the variation that suggests just one big form. Obviously I was left with more dough than I needed for one big pan – so the recipe is made for smaller pies.

The Steak Pie is part of the “Bill o’Fare, The Burns Supper”, which is usually eaten on Burns Night. Needless to say I left out the part of the menu that had Haggis in it, though the Cock-a-Leekie soup tempted me (but not in this heat).

 

Steak Pie

500g Minced Meat
150g Mushrooms (I used porcini)
150ml Beef Stock
2 Shallots [Disclaimer: I ran out of shallots or onions, so in this version, I made do without and used more mushrooms instead]
25g Butter
150ml Gravy [I didn’t have any gravy, so I used a bit of water. It got very soupy, so handle gravy with caution!]
Salt, Pepper, Nutmeg

For the dough:
175g Butter
500g Flour
Water
Salt
1 Egg
1 Tablespoon Milk

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Here it goes 🙂

Preheat oven at 150C. Mix flour and salt for the dough, making a dent in the middle. Melt butter with a bit of water in a small pot, then pour it in. Mix until you have a smooth dough. The original recipe didn’t have an egg but there was no way I was going to get a smooth dough, so I thew one in. It was still a bit on the crumbly side – hence the patching in the form – but much better than what it was without the egg. People with experience in doughs get a feeling what it might need. Like I said above, the amount is for smaller pies, if you put it in one or two big forms you’ll have some dough left over or it’s not a thick layer of meat in the middle.

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Roll out the dough and fit into the oven form of your choice. The recipe talks about how you can make it by hand without a form, but I was sceptical about it.

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For the filling, cut the shallots into small pieces and throw them into a steep pan. Then add the meat and fry it for a few minutes. In the end, add the mushrooms. Here, the recipe suggests to add gravy, but I just put in a bit of water and found it quite soupy in the end. That’s where I hope it wouldn’t make the whole thing fall apart later. Now add the spices. There was still feta cheese in the fridge, so I mixed that in. Once I had filled the form with the meat mix, I grated some mountain cheese over the top before I put the layer of dough over it. After I put a layer of dough on the top, I spread milk over it.

Now bake in oven at 15C for 45min.

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I wasn’t really sure if upon getting it out and cutting it, it was going to be a solid piece like a cake of if the filling will fall out. Either way I wasn’t sure which was the thing it was supposed to be… 🙂

Consequentially, I was very excited when I got it out of the oven. It stayed where it probably should’ve – inside the pastry. There was some liquid coming out but nothing fell apart. One larger bit in the middle was a bit tough to get out of the form for the lack of right instruments, but that was the only trouble there. All around, the dough was firm and quite sturdy.

Eating it, the filling was rather flavourful and I think the cheese fit very well. If you put it in a muffin form, I think it would make a great meal to take along or out for a picnic. Once you have the dough you can get creative with the filling. I am sure the dough itself will get smoother and prettier when I make it more often. All in all, I enjoyed making and eating it, would definitely make it again.

Cookbook Challenge 1 – Haggis, Whisky & Co

DSC_9645The first challenge was only for half a weekend, so it only included one cookbook, “Haggis, Whisky &  Co.” A Scottish cookbook (written in German and published in Austria) where each recipe goes along with a poem by Robert Burns.

I got the book for my birthday from Mick, so I figured that’s why he made me try it first. Maybe it was because he missed Haggis. Poor him, I wasn’t going to make that… 🙂 Since I had only one cookbook for this weekend, I decided to make a main course and a dessert, starting with the latter. To actually pick one was not that easy. First of all, there aren’t many recipes in this book to begin with – all of them being assembled in menus following a theme.

Venison and other autumn specialities are a bit hard to come by in the middle of the summer, and so are some of the fish specialities you can get in Scotland. Not as fresh at least. One of the first recipes had a caramelized apple cake in it – so that obviously caught my eye. On reading the recipe I realized it was much like the French Tarte Tartin, and I fell in love with that in Paris a few weeks ago. The only ingredient I was missing were eggs, so the choice was easy!

The cake was from the “Bill o’Fate, O my Luve’s like a red, red Rose” menu. A menu for lovers. 🙂

I didn’t follow the recipe by the letter, here’s what I actually ended up doing:

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Caramelised Apple Cake

4 Apples
Juice from half a lemon
3 Eggs
250g Sugar
175ml Oil (something which no to little taste)
175g Flour
1 Packet Baking Powder (approx. 8g)
A bit of Baking Soda
1 Packet Vanilla Sugar (approx. 8g)
50g Butter

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Preheat oven to 175C. Slice and de-seed apples and pour lemon juice over it, so they won’t turn brown. Whisk the eggs and 150g of the sugar until it’s foamy, then slowly add the oil. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and vanilla sugar and then add it to the egg-sugar mix. Stir thoroughly until it’s smooth.

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Heat butter and add the 100g of sugar. Mix thoroughly and caramelise it on low heat until it becomes a thick mass. If sugar doesn’t dissolve, add some of the lemon juice from the apple slices.

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Put baking paper in a spring form. Pour caramel in it and evenly cover the bottom. Put the apple slices on top of the caramel and then the dough over the top.

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Bake for 45 min at 175C. Let cool for 15 min, then overturn the cake. Goes well with vanilla ice cream and coffee 🙂

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I think I used a bit too much baking soda, so I changed the recipe accordingly. The dough was superbly light, fluffy and moist, whilst the apples started to get a bit of a crunch to it. Once the cake has cooled down properly, the caramel will get even crunchier. I think it tasted really super and I also like the slightly rustic taste to it.

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The Cookbook Challenge

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I love cookbooks. I would go so far as to say I collect them to a certain extent. The problem is, there are some I haven’t opened since I got them. Much like my husband Mick who collects musical instruments and sometimes doesn’t try them out. I called him out on it and last December, I gave him a challenge that would make him use all the instruments he hadn’t played before. 10 Weeks – 10 Sounds was very successful and led to really interesting music and a brand new instrumental album.

Now here I was, challenging him to play unused instruments when I still had cookbooks that sat unused on the shelf. There are three that I always use, you can find the reviews below. I can only warmly recommend to get them all. But this time, it’s about other books.

This time, the tables are turned. Now he is giving me a challenge to use the cookbooks that have – so far – only sat on my shelf. Here is the challenge:

You should create one dish from each of the following cookbooks, photograph the process and blog about each one. Let us know a bit about the book, why you chose the recipe, what (if anything) and why you had to change any ingredients or processes. What was difficult? What did you learn? How did the final result taste?

1. Haggis, Whisky & Co.    (leave out a single ingredient)
2. Paul Bocuse Standardkochbuch [The Paul Bocuse Standard Cookbook]    (use an ingredient you have never used) 
3. Austro Tapas    (use breadcrumbs)
4. Crèmes Brûlées    (change an ingredient)
5. Gordon Ramway’s Great British Pub Food    (pick a recipe that contains alcohol (it’s pub food, after all!))
6. Natürlich Jamie [Jamie at Home]    (add something red) 
7. Macarons    (something that goes well with coffee)
8. Vive la France    (add vanilla)
9. La Cuisine Grecque [The Greek Kitchen]    (served with a feta side dish) 
10. Plachutta – Meine Wiener Küche [My Viennese Kitchen]    (traditional, but different) 

 

Now my Favourite Cookbooks:

La Bonne Grand-Mère (The Good Grandmother) – for  French recipes.

No matter if it’s Coq au Vin, Crème caramel or Bouillabaisse, for everything French this is the go-to book. As much as I love full-colour cookbooks with photos, in my experience, the ones without are the ones I end up using most. Like this – there aren’t any photos, merely small sketches that really don’t do anything to help with the cooking. That might make you surprised at how some things actually look in the end, but that’s ok. The cookbook is just that good!

Die Gute Küche (The Good Kitchen) – for  Austrian and other basics.

One of the authors, Ewald Plachutta, is the beef king and Christoph Wagner knows his food too…! Whenever I need a recipe for a dough, a dumpling, any of the basic things that I grew up with and love – this is my go-to book. It’s not just Austrian recipes, also all-time favourites.

Süßes aus dem Sacher (Sweets from the Sacher) – for dessert and cake recipes.

Get it for the Sacher cake – and  then try out all the other recipes as well. If it’s poppyseed noodles or the fantastic lemon meringue pie, Austrian or international desserts… The dishes are really fantastic and one can spend many weeks cooking and eating their way through it all!

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