Quarkspitzen (German Doughnut Holes)

An irresistible German treat, Quarkspitzen are like German doughnut holes. Golden brown and crispy on the outside but delicate and tender on the inside. 

A visit to the German Christmas markets or to the annual Kat (a large local carnival with rides, games and food) would not be complete without buying a few Quarkspitzen. Before I even knew what they were, I was interested just from the very smell of them cooking. Made from quark, a type of dairy that is the consistency of a thick yogurt or sour cream.

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Although Christmastime is more than six months away, there’s nothing like recalling this and the myriad of marvelous Christmas treats from the German Christmas markets.

Here’s the recipe:

Quarkspitzen (German Doughnut Holes)

  • 3 T melted butter
  • 300g quark
  • 3 T corn starch
  • 1.5 – 2 c all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c white sugar
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 1 tsp almond extract (optional)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • oil (for frying)
  • powdered sugar (for dusting the quarkspitzen after frying)

Preparation:

In a large bowl, whisk together the butter and the sugar.

Then add the eggs and continue to whisk.

Mix together the corn starch, baking powder and flour.

Gradually add in the flour mixture and the quark, half at a time, rotating between the two of them.

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Then add the lemon juice and stire just until it is combined.

Set the batter aside for 10-15 minutes and fill a large stock pot with oil.

To fry the quarkspitzen, dip a spoon in the oil and then into the quarkspitzen batter and place into the fryer to create a roughly oval shape. Fry until golden brown on each side and then place on a paper towel lined plate.

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Continue until all of the dough has been used.

Dust the quarkspitzen with powdered sugar, or if you prefer, granulated sugar.

Serve & Enjoy warm.

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YUM!

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Guten Appetit!

Fröhe Weihnachten!

Homemade Apple Sauce (Simple & Delicious)

Just apples, a hint of sugar and a few of my favorite spices and you’re on your way to making homemade apple sauce.

I love applesauce. It was one of those things as I kid that I used to love to have as a snack. It just tasted so good; and honestly, I still love it. For years I never knew that it was so simple to make. I just relied on the store-bought kind until I moved to countries that don’t sell apple sauce. Lol! That’s when I go to my kitchen laboratory and get to work creating.

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The recipe is so simple. I mean, really simple. If you can cook apples and then pop them in a food processor — well, you have apple sauce.

Here’s the recipe:

Homemade Apple Sauce

  • 3 apples (I used Golden Delicious because they are sweet and delicious!)
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 2 T white sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 cardomom pods
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 c water

Preparation:

Peel, core and slice the apples.

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Place the apples in a large stock pot. Add the lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cloves and water.

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Simmer for about 20 minutes (stirring occasionally) or until the apples are tender.

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Remove the cinnamon sticks, cloves and cardamom pods.

Transfer the apples to a food processor and blend until smooth.

Serve and Enjoy warm or pop it in the fridge for later. (It is really good cold, especially on a hot summer day! Simply refreshing!) 

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Guten Appetit!

Homemade German Pretzels (“Bretzels”)

Soft and tender, freshly baked pretzels. It is like taking a trip to Germany without stepping foot outside of your kitchen.

Pretzels are one of  the first snack foods that I remember eating as a kid outside of my favorites (cucumber & bell peppers — don’t judge me, I’ve always loved my veggies, lol!). My parents would buy these massive five pound bags of pretzels and I used to love to grab a handful of them.

Well, not much has changed from my childhood days. I still love pretzels. Every time my husband and I go to Germany, I always have to get at least one during our trip. Hey, we even had pretzels served during our “Kaffee und Kuchen” (German for “Coffee and Cake”) on our wedding day. After our wedding we were still eating all of the leftover pretzels and you know what, they were still so good (thanks to our lovely local German bakery).

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Plus, if you have not seen the episode of Mister Roger’s neighborhood when he goes to the pretzel factory, do yourself a favor and watch it. It inspires me and makes me smile today just as it did when I was a kid. Mister Rogers was a brilliant person, that I am still learning from to this very day. He had such a sincere compassion and love for people and also for pretzels too!

 

Well, as you can see, I am a pretzel fan to say the least. But without further adieu, aahhhemm, the recipe…

Here’s the recipe:

Homemade German Pretzels “Bretzels”

  • 1.5 c flour
  • 2 tsp dry active yeast
  • 2/3 c warm water
  • 1 T honey
  • 1.5 T oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 T baking soda
  • corse sea salt (to taste, sprinkled onto of the pretzels just before baking.

Preparation:

In a large bowl, combine the yeast, honey, 1 T of oil and warm water. Stir well and set aside.

In the meantime, combine the flour and salt in a bowl.

Then add the flour mixture into the yeast mixture and stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together and stops sticking to the bowl.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead it for about 8-10 minutes.

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Then lightly oil a bowl with the remaining half a tablespoon of oil. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel and place the dough in a warm place to rise for one hour.

After one hour, it is time to shape the pretzels.

 

Take a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball and roll into a ball.

Then roll it out into a long thin rope.

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Make a U-shape with the rope and then fold one end over the other to create an “x.”

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Then flip this “x” shape over to the other side of the dough and set aside.

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Continue until all of the pretzels are shaped.

Then boil a large pot of water and add the baking soda.

Place each pretzel in the water for 20-30 seconds, turing them halfway in between.

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Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, sprinkle the course sea salt on top of each pretzel and bake them on 200C/392F for about 15 minutes (or until they are golden brown).

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Serve & Enjoy Warm.

Guten Appetit!

 

 

Italian Homemade Lasagna with Ground Beef

Layers of delicate noodles, tender ground beef, rich ricotta cheese and savory marinara sauce make this lasagna a flavorful dish for any night of the week.

I grew up eating a lot of Italian food and I’ve found that it has shaped and impacted my cooking in such a positive way. Lasagna was definitely a meal that we prepared at our home and I remember always wanting to eat it right out of the oven, but we always let it set for 15-20 minutes in order to ensure that the lasagna doesn’t fall apart as you cut it.

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This recipe is my variation of Mom’s classic recipe. I make it with homemade ricotta cheese and it really adds such a nice flavor to the dish.

Here’s the recipe:

Lasagna

  • 1 box lasagna noodles
  • 48 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 12 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 c shredded mozzerella cheese
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 T dried oregano
  • 2 T dried basil
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

To make the marinara sauce: sauté the onions with olive oil until tender. Then add the crushed tomatoes and stir well. Season with half of the dried oregano, dried basil, salt and pepper. Simmer for 15-20 minutes on low heat.

To make the ground beef: place the ground beef  in a large pan and sauté until it is browned. Then add the garlic and the rest of the dried oregano, dried basil, salt and pepper. Stir well and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

To make the lasagna: Place about 1 cup of tomato sauce in the bottom of the pan. Then layer the noodles.

Then add more marinara sauce, ground beef and top with another layer of noodles.

Add some more marinara sauce on top of the noodles and then add the ricotta cheese.

Layer with another layer of noodles and add some marinara sauce the remaining ground beef.

Add another layer of noodles and cover with the marinara sauce and mozzerella cheese.

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Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven to bake for about 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the cheese on top is melted.

Remove from the oven and allow it to cool for 15-20 minutes.

Serve and Enjoy!

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Note: This can be prepared ahead of time and placed in the refrigerator to bake later.

 

 

 

German Meatballs in a White Caper Dijon Sauce (Königsberger Klopse or Kochklopse)

     Tender & flavorful German meatballs, boiled in a seasoned broth and doused in a delicious dijon mustard and caper white sauce. Paired with boiled potatoes, this is one of my favorite German comfort food dishes. 

I love that there are so many practical and yet delicious recipes in German cooking. The more I learn about this beautiful cuisine, the more I am delighted to cook it.

This recipe just so happens to be a favorite of my hubby. He doesn’t always make requests for certain meals, but this one, I noticed he liked it a lot. That makes me even happier to make it for him. And you know what, I like it too. I hope you do as well.

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Here’s the recipe:

German Meatballs in a White Caper Dijon Sauce or Kochklopse or “Königsberger Klopse

For the stock:

  • 3 bay leaves
  • 10-12 capers
  • 1 onion (quartered)
  • salt (to taste)

For the meatballs:

  • 1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1 large onion (finely diced)
  • 3-4 T dijon mustard
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3-1/2 c breadcrumbs
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

For the gravy:

  • 3 T butter
  • 3 T flour
  • cooking stock (that the meatballs cooked in)
  • 2 T dijon mustard
  • 15-20 capers 
  • salt & pepper  (to taste, if needed)

Preparation:

Start by preparing the stock: Fill a large stock pot with water. Then add the bay leaves, capers, onion and salt. Place on the stove and bring to a boil.

In the meantime, prepare your meatballs. 

To prepare the meatballs: Place the ground beef in a large bowl. Add the onion, dijon mustard, eggs, breadcrumbs, oregano, salt and pepper. 

Then mix together the mixture using your hands until it is well combined.

Then shape the meat into large balls and gently drop into the boiling stock.

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Allow the meatballs to cook for about 40-45 minutes, monitoring the water levels occasionally to ensure that there is sufficient liquid (if not, then add some more water).

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Pre-cooked…
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The meatballs are done boiling & it smells so good!

Once the meatballs are done cooking, remove them from the pot and place them on a plate.

Then place a colander in a bowl and drain the stock. Set the stock aside for the gravy.

To make the gravy: Start by making a roux. Melt the butter in your stock pot and then add the flour and whisk constantly until it comes together. Then add the stock liquid while whisking constantly until smooth.

Bring to a boil and add the dijon mustard, capers, salt and pepper and whisk for anotherr minute or two.

Then add the meatballs back into the gravy.

Serve with boiled potatoes and enjoy!

Guten Appetit!

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Fresh & Simple Guacamole

Oh guacamole, you taste so good. With fresh ripe avocados and a pico de gallo it’s the perfect balance to make this dish taste delicious like it should.

Although I am definitely a big fan of eating guacamole with some pita chips or tortilla chips, there are truly a plethora more ways to enjoy it. I love it with grilled fish or chicken. It also tastes great with baked potatoes or even french fries. Of course, with beans and rice, guacamole balances out the meal perfectly. This list can go on and on because guacamole tastes good with so many different things.

Here’s my recipe:

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Fresh & Simple Guacamole

  • 2 ripe avocados (peeled and diced)
  • 1/2 c pico de gallo (see the recipe here)
  • 2 T lime juice
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Place the avocado in a bowl and mash to your desired consistency (I like my guacamole a bit chunky).

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Add the lime juice and pico de gallo and continue to mash.

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Season with salt & pepper and stir well.

Serve & Enjoy!

 

So Crispy & Tasty Potato Latkes

Who needs french fries when you have potato latkes? No, this is not an exaggeration. Trust me, with one bite you too will be a latke fan.

I realize more and more as an adult, how blessed I was to grow up in such an international and intercultural community. It expanded my world so much to think different thoughts, see new perspectives and of course taste and variety of delicious foods. Plus, my parents have a fine appreciation for different cultures and this definitely positively impacted my life to this very day.

Thanks to one of my friends in first grade, I learned how to make (and of course taste) potato latkes for the first time ever. I was seven years old and it is truly a memory I will never forget.

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Flash forward 15 years later and I am re-learning, or perhaps learning a different way, to make potato latkes by one of my student colleagues from Belarus.

Now, I am still learning and open to learning and I love cooking and eating potato latkes. It is such a good recipe, and I have quite frankly met someone who doesn’t like latkes. It would be like trying to find a person that doesn’t like french fries; do they exist? Maybe, but maybe on Mars or something. Lol!

Here’s the recipe:

So Crispy & Tasty Potato Latkes

  • 2 potatoes (small to medium size)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 T flour
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
  • oil (for frying)

Preparation:

Shred the potatoes and the onions.

Then place them in a tea towel or a piece of cheese cloth and drain out the excess liquid. (Note: the potatoes and onions should be fairly dry after this process. You don’t want to omit this step because this step is what makes the latkes able to get so crispy during the frying process).

Crack the egg and scramble it lightly in a medium size bowl. Add the potatoes and onions. Stir until well combined. 

Sprinkle over the flour, salt and pepper. Stir thoroughly with a fork. 

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Heat the oil in a large frying pan. 

Take a spoonful of the potato mixture and flatten it in the palms of your hand to form a little flat pancake. (Alternative method to fry on the fly, take a “fork-ful” of the potato mixture and gently place in the oil. Once it is completely submerged, flatten it with another fork until it’s a flat shape resembling a circle.)

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Gently place the potato pancake into the hot oil and fry until it is browned on both sides.

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Remove from the oil and place it on a paper towel lined plate. 

Season with a little salt. 

Serve and Enjoy Warm (if possible*)

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*I prefer eating my potato pancakes warm, like french fries, lol! But you know, they still taste good when they are at room temperature.

Topping Suggestions:

The potato pancakes are good on their own but try these toppings for a bit of extra flavor:

  • Fresh chives
  • Sour cream
  • Thick yogurt
  • Apple sauce
  • Cheese