It's understandable, perhaps, that many think German cuisine to revolve around sauerkraut and sausages. With German Food Recipes, Nicole Spohn wants to change that perception.
Nicole's book introduces its readers to recipes which have been passed on through generations of her family; including Beef Rolls, Pork Chops with Hot Paprika Sauce, Potato Pancakes, Dumplings, Stuffed Bell Peppers, and Onion Pie with Bacon.
"Cozy gatherings with food and drinks are the essence of German Gemütlichkeit (comfort and coziness)," writes Nicole.
"Nowhere is that more obvious than in Germany's small state, the Saarland. This is where I was born and raised."
"The Saarland borders France and Luxembourg. Speisen wie Gott in Frankreich (Dining like God in France) isn't just a saying in this border region; it's a lifestyle. The region has more star studded restaurants and award-winning cooks per capita than any other German state."
From Nicole's book, here's a recipe for Wiener Schnitzel (Viennese Cutlet). The famous Schnitzel actually originated in Austria, but has become an essential part of German cuisine.
The thinly pounded cutlets that are first breaded and then fried are so beloved that, Nicole notes, "they even made it on the menus of such elite restaurants as Wolfgang Puck's Spago in Beverly Hills."
The traditional Wiener Schnitzel is prepared with veal, but Nicole suggests that it may be substituted with chicken or pork. "Unlike many German dishes that get better the more often you warm them up, a Schnitzel is best consumed fresh," she writes. "Should you end up with leftovers, eat the Schnitzel cold; i.e.: by putting it on a roll. You can add a bit of mustard or mayo if you like and decorate your Schnitzel-on-a-roll with lettuce and pickles. In Germany we call it Schnitzelbrötchen. It's quite a popular German dish."
To pound the meat thin, slide a plastic bag open on all but one side. Spread some oil on the inside. Use a meat mallet or, if you don't have one, a heavy flat-surface pan to pound the cutlet until the requested thinness is reached. Your other option is to place the cutlet between sheets of oiled plastic wrap. The plastic keeps the meat from being crushed too much and the oil keeps it from sticking to the plastic.
Set up 3 shallow dishes. Place the flour and 1/4 tsp. of salt in one, breadcrumbs in the other. Beat eggs well and place it in the third dish.
Working one at a time, dredge cutlets first in flour until the surface is completely dry, then dip in egg to coat. Allow the excess egg to drip off for a few seconds. Roll cutlets quickly in the breadcrumbs until coated.
Heat at least 1/4 inch of oil in the pan. Try to keep the heat at about 280F then add 1 tsp. of butter. If the temperature is too high, the butter will burn. Put the schnitzel in the pan and fry them until both sides are golden brown. This shouldn't take longer than 5 minutes on each side.
While the Schnitzels are frying, use a spoon to moisten the upper side with some hot oil/ butter from within the pan.
When done, remove the Schnitzel from the pan and place them on some kitchen paper to soak up any unwanted oil.
Place them on a plate with lemon slices.
Any salad or vegetables go well with a Schnitzel. So do French Fries. "I personally prefer to eat my Schnitzel with fries and peas and carrots," writes Nicole. "This is also how the Wiener Schnitzel is often served at traditional German restaurants, the so-called Gaststätten."