My right forearm hurts.
I have two possible explanations:
1) I used my right forearm a bit too excitedly at the gym.. ?from jumping jacks?
2) From kneading strudel dough
I vote for the latter possibility since it is one-sided. But I didn’t think my kneading was THAT vigorous!
I mean, I was a bit more vigorous in my kneading this year. Last year, it took me 20 minutes. Apparently, I needed more oomph.
This year, my grandmother told me that the best strudel kneaders literally throw their dough onto the counter.
And I happily followed suit.
I don’t think I had to knead more than 5 minutes. It was perfect. The dough also pulled like butter.
I must be improving. Keeping the strudel tradition alive within my family.
It seems to have become an annual tradition, this strudel-making, or strudeling as we’ve dubbed it this year. Last year, we got in trouble for pulling the strudel dough Christmas morning, as my mom was trying to prepare for lunch and dinner. So, we did the next best thing: knead the dough on Christmas morning, but pull it and bake it on Boxing Day. But the commotion certainly follows wherever strudel-making takes place. It is always center stage.
We made a traditional apple strudel and for the second strudel, we pulled together this delicious cherry and almond strudel. A mix of both sweet and sour cherries, accentuated with both toasted almonds and almond extract, with a hint of cinnamon, this was strudel experiment success. It is kind of hard to make anything unappealing when it is wrapped with freshly baked homemade strudel dough, but even my grandfather (the strudel supervisor) gave it the strudel stamp of approval.
For step-by-step instructions on preparing the strudel and the recipe for apple strudel, see my previous post here.
This past weekend was the Canadian Thanksgiving and I was happy to be able to go home and spend some time with my family. While I wasn’t involved in much of the food preparation this year, I helped to provide recipes for the weekend – namely pomegranate-glazed salmon, Ina Garten’s Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with a Warm Cider Vinaigrette and baklava (ok, I was allowed into the kitchen to make this!). Everything we ate was delicious. I was lucky to grow up with a family that can cook and bake so well.
My quest to search out those treasured family recipes was one reason I became more interested in cooking. My paternal grandmother passed away before I became interested in learning how to make perogies, paska and borscht. Sometimes recipes just aren’t as good as learning from your Baba.
One of the first recipes I didn’t want to die into oblivion was strudel. Authentic, German strudel. How my Oma makes it. Nothing else compares. Just as I had comments that my baklava isn’t truly authentic without hamur (homemade dough), I know that strudel without pulled strudel dough pales in comparison to the real thing. For the longest time, I couldn’t even fathom making it in my apartment because I didn’t have a kitchen table. Because that is how big the strudel dough must be pulled.
I hope to share with you how to make the best apfelstrudel. It looks daunting and kneading the dough takes some knack. I find that the most challenging. The first time, I kneaded it for over 30 minutes until I was able to get the desired consistency. I had to knead until it felt “like this”, my grandmother and uncle explained. The stretching takes time and patience. No worries about small holes, since it all gets rolled up and no one will be the wiser. I need to keep my strudel making skills up to snuff, with constant refreshers, and my dad promised me we’d make it together over Christmas.
Here are a few photos from my first time learning how to make strudel:
“Perception is a powerful thing. Your best meal could be an elaborate 16-course affair, or a hot dog shared with someone special on a mountaintop. The best meals are more about the moment than they are about the food.”
- “I Viaggio Di Vetri: A Culinary Journey” by Marc Vetri
I love that quote. While I often eat alone, food is definitely a way to share with others. To share time, to share conversation and food comes second. The love that was put into a meal says a lot to me. I love cooking, but sometimes find it stressful when cooking for others on a timeline. I have to remind myself it is the company that matters most, not necessarily the meal. Even if I get picked on for lousy cooking (Good Friday 2009 will never be forgotten! arg!).
I wanted to highlight this dish as the finale of my spotlight on eating for 1 (even if the photo doesn’t do it nearly the justice it deserves). I cooked it for 4, though, when I had friends over for dinner. Perhaps it was the company that made it special, but this dish was truly phenomenal. Coupled with great friends, games, laughs and good food, you can’t go wrong.
I don’t cook much meat, and was really eager to try mushroom bourguignon when I saw it on Smitten Kitchen. She had high praise for the dish – not as much prep as a typical beef bourguignon but all the flavour courtesy of 2 pounds of portobello mushrooms. No need for a bottle of red wine either. I could serve the rest of the red wine to my guests. This dish did not disappoint in the slightest. It was easy and incredibly delicious and rich. Dare I suggest it will convert mushroom haters? I think so although I have yet to try.
I served it with spaetzle, which is a German egg dumpling. My mom makes the most fabulous spaetzle and I automatically figured she had a family recipe in her armamentarium. Nope, it turns out it is from The Joy of Cooking. It can be a bit challenging to make spaetzle to get the proper shape without the proper tools. There are presses specifically to make spaetzle, which is what I use, but you could also use a colander with large holes. You basically force the dough through the holes to make short strands of dough. You could also cut off small pieces of dough from a cutting board, which I have also done in my pre-spaetzle maker era. The mushroom bourguignon would be delicious with a side of egg noodles, too.
This is my submission to Tobias’ 13th Mediterranean Cooking Event, featuring dishes from France.
I was thankful to be able to visit my family over the Thanksgiving weekend. Any weekend we can come together as a family is a time to celebrate, but an extra day to stay certainly helps. My mom asks what we want to eat, and there is usually no hesitation because I always ask for the same dish: Rouladen. Rouladen is a traditional southern German dish that is usually served at special occasions at our household (by request!). Succulent pieces of beef filled with only the tastiest of ingredients: pickles, onions, bacon and mustard. The roll is then smothered in a red wine sauce. It is no wonder this is such a popular dish.
I wasn’t expecting to do much cooking this weekend, as some people don’t really like to share their kitchen (ah, the horrors of strudel making on Christmas Day), but we were invited to learn the art of making rouladen. There is nothing better at bringing the family together than passing culinary secrets from one generation to another.
My mom took us under her wings, and we had to watch intently, as she was also not going to supply an accompanying recipe. This is my adaptation of the traditional dish. It is best served with spaetzle, as it sops up the gravy nicely