International Dinner #38 Germany! Nom nom nom brezel!

Germany Dinner

Saturday, 19 January 2013

There were so many things we could have cooked for Germany International Dinner Night, that narrowing down the list was the hard part. Since this isn’t just a journey for the boys I tried to choose some dishes that I hadn’t tried before as well – that way it would be just as much an experience for us as it was for the boys!

On with the meal…

Apfel Zwiebel Suppe Brezel - German PretzelBrezel (Pretzel)Brezel (Pretzel)

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Entree:
Apfel Zwiebel Suppe (Apple Onion Soup)
Brezel – Large Soft Pretzel
——–——————————

So, first up tonight is an onion and apple soup, I’ve recently had the pleaseure of trying the German Apple Cider Vinegar beverage, and thought this may be a similar variation on that them looking at the ingredients – in flavour at least.

And I wasn’t wrong the soup is cooked long enough to take the kick out of the onion, and it has a nice acidic bite that made it quite refreshing, the recipe is here, as you’ll see a lot of apple juice in this one… it’s gotta be good for you right? But is did need some bread to offset that acidity…

Now, I know the kids aren’t big on soups, which is why I had a more child friendly back-up plan for the entree, Brezel (large soft pretzels)!

You can’t go wrong with pretzels! Everyone loves pretzels! I have made bagels before (not so far for this dinner project, but in the past) and I was under the impressions that pretzels are made in a similar way… I was wrong and right at the same time… Quite simple to make, then need to rise twice so you have to make them early, and then they get a lye bath (but in the interests of not chemically burning myself or the boys – we did a more child-friendly baking soda bath) and then baked them until golden – and it worked a treat – so much so, that we made them again the next week. They were a big hit… in fact I’m kind of craving them again… maybe a project for this weekend…

I will add that true-to-form – Ryan had to have his without salt on top… he just doesn’t like grains or seeds, or little things on top of his food, won’t eat strawberries because of the seeds.

APFEL ZWIEBEL SUPPE: 
Sam’s rating: 10/10
 
Ryan’s rating:
 10/10
BREZEL: 
Sam’s rating: Infinity/Infinity
 
Ryan’s rating:
 8/8

Semmelknoedel - Bread Dumplings Jägerschnitzel and Bratkartoffeln

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Mains:
Sauerkraut (had to have sauerkraut!)
Bratkartofflen (Cottage Potatoes)
Jägerschnitzel with mushroom sauce
Semmelknoedel (Bread dumplings)
——–——————————

Do you see what I mean about being spoilt for choice with German dishes, I couldn’t choose just one or two, there’s four there… but they all go well together. I thought the bread dumplings would be something very different, they were a hit with the adults, and perfect for sopping up the extra mushroom sauce. The boys had the schnitzel, but refused the sauce, mainly because of their aversion to mushrooms, but the rule is that they have to have one taste of everything, which they diligently did. So they had potatoes and bare schnitzel, and a taste of sauerkraut… and took some convincing to believe that it was cabbage – because it tasted so different.

The potatoes, cooked with bacon, onion, marjoram and caraway seeds very good, and the dumplings used similar ingredients so paired well, they were different from what we are used to – but just as moreish. And sauerkraut is – well it’s sauerkraut – you can’t have a German meal without it – it’s iconic!

So at least the potatoes and the schnitzel was a hit with the boys from this course 2 out of 4 ain’t too bad!

SAUERKRAUT: 
Sam’s rating: 3/10
 
Ryan’s rating:
 0/0
BRATKARTOFFLEN: 
Sam’s rating: 8/10
 
Ryan’s rating:
 6/6
Jägerschnitzel with mushroom sauce: 
Sam’s rating: 8/10
 
Ryan’s rating:
 7/7
Semmelknoedel: 
Sam’s rating: 5/10
 
Ryan’s rating:
 4/44

Zucker ZwiebakZucker Zwiebak

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Mains:
Zucker Zwiebak (Sugar Twice Baked – Rusk)
——–——————————

This is a dessert with a difference. This one was either going to be hit or miss with the kids… mildly sweet similar to biscotti I guess, but a bit more bread like. Now I said it would be hit or miss, I just underestimated how much of a hit it would be – and not just with the kids, the adults too – we couldn’t stop nibbling on them, which is just as well, because I accidentally made far too much – well not in the end, because we ate them all, but they were four tins full of these things, I forgot to halve the recipe!

It’s a mildly sweet, then sprinkled lightly with sugar and like their name, they are twice baked to really dry them out and give them a solid crunch, good with coffee, good with tea, good by themselves, or even dunked!  Solid infinity ratings all round – I think the boys ate 8 or 9 of them each that night… I stopped counting after 5….

ZUCKER ZWIEBAK: 
Sam’s rating: Infinity-X/Infinity
 
Ryan’s rating:
 Infinity-XX/Infinity

All in all a good night – and I’d like to thank my ‘sous’ chefs Jocelyn and Rachael for helping with the prep – it was a little bit too much for me to do all myself time wise…

International Dinner Project #37: Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands dinner

Saturday, 12 January 2013

With the  heat, sunshine and humidity we’ve been having lately, Sam’s choice of the Solomon Islands was rather appropriate. We’ve been sweltering for the last few weeks, as I type this it’s 11 o’clock at night, doors and windows are all open and it’s still 28˚C (83˚F) inside the house and humid as all get out! So it will feel like we’re there while we’re eating this!

On with the meal…

Tropical Fruit StarterCoconutMilk Slippery Cabbage Soup SlipperyCabbageSoup_WP

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Entree:
Tropical Fruit
Slippery Cabbage Soup
Coconut Milk / Mango Juice
——–——————————

Fresh tropical fruit are one of the best things about visiting the tropics, right on your doorstep (literally!) Are bananas, papaya, Mangos, and coconut. As a child I remember the amazement at cracking open a coconut and drinking the milk, and although we’ve done it before (straight from the tree in Samoa, armed only with beach rocks) and at home with all the mod-cons, the boys are always excited to help and watch. Normally that’s where it ends, they only “kind of” like Coconut Milk, but this time they were all in with their straws, and they only left the smallest bit behind for me…

The tropical fruit is also popular with them, but mainly the bananas, I think they polished off four tonight, so most of the Papaya, Coconut and Mango went to Jocelyn and I.

And now for the dish that actually involved some cooking (but then again, that’s what I love about island food, it’s all so fresh and simple to prepare). Slippery Cabbage (Hibiscus Manihot / Bele), so called because when cooked the leaves go a little slimy. Cooked up with chillies, onions, shallots and tomatoes in coconut milk, with salt to taste, it was simple to make and the standout dish tonight. Both Jocelyn and I really enjoyed this one I think we may be cooking this again. However as Sam says “We’re not really soup kids” it wasn’t as popular with the boys, I’m aware of their aversion to soups but it was on the only entree I could find for Solomon Islands – so they could at least had a taste and a chance to like it and then could defer to the fruit… which they did… the soup rocked by the way –recipe here!
I
 just found out Samoa actually has an almost identical recipe called Bele Soup!

FRUIT: 
Sam’s rating: 10/10
 
Ryan’s rating:
 10/10
COCONUT MILK: 
Sam’s rating: 7/10
 
Ryan’s rating:
 5/10
SLIPPERY CABBAGE SOUP: 
Sam’s rating: 6/10
 
Ryan’s rating:
 3/10
 
Dad’s rating:
 10/10

ChilliTaiyo_WP Sam-ChilliTaiyo_WP

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Mains:
Chilli Taiyo (with Noodles)
——–——————————

Apparently Tuna (Taiyo) is a staple food in the Solomons, people eat it practically everyday and many dress it up with chilli to make it more interesting. When we were in Samoa, Yellow Fin Tuna was always on the menu and it seems it’s the same in the Solomons. Again preparation was quick and easy, and the end result was spicy, and refreshingly tasty. The tuna was quite hot, a little too hot for the boys, which we found out after their first couple of mouthfuls, but to their credit – once we had pulled out any visible chilli, they did finish it – their favourite part… the noodles! Typical haha!

CHILLI TAIYO:
Sam’s rating: 7/10
 
Ryan’s rating:
 6/6

Cassava Pudding

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Dessert:
Cassava Pudding (sort of)
——–——————————

Cassava Pudding, right I thought this would be interesting. Interestingly enough, cassava is the world’s 3rd most popular crop – but could I find it in New Zealand? If anyone knows where I can get Cassava in Auckland let me know. Tapioca is derived from the cassava root, so tapioca was my fallback ingredient. And it was almost successful… I thought having the tapioca pearls baking in coconut milk for 45 minutes would  have been enough to soften them up, bu in hindsight (and hindtaste) I should have probably boiled them in water first to soften them up, but I thought if they absorbs the coconut milk flavour up it would be better. SO, while they did soften up a bit, not all of them did, especially the ones at the edge – and while the flavour of the dessert was quite nice, the occasional hard tapioca pearl was off-putting when you crunched on it. Everyone enjoyed it – but not the hard tapioca understandably.
This was one of my first real failures in terms of cooking international dinners, so when I find a source of cassava I’ll try it again.

CASSAVA PUDDING: 
Sam’s rating: 8/10
 
Ryan’s rating:
 6/6

International Dinner #37 (Sam’s choice)

Well we’ve had a bit of a hiatus from our International Dinners. We hosted Christmas Day at our house this year and getting the house ready for the whole gang took up most of our time, so our weekends were full of gardening and tidying rather than cooking and eating. And summer really kicked off in November so it was hot work, the kitchen is so much easier (most of the time) Christmas went well and we are back into the swing of work and International Dinners again, so first up Sam chooses an appropriately summery warm country…

P.S. I spelt Solomon wrong at the end of the video – please blink and don’t notice it – because I really don’t feel like re-editing and uploading the video again! 😉