I'm starting with Austria because Austria was the place I first learned about a cuisine and its cultural influences, and I think my love affair with excellent food really started there. As a bonus, I took a cooking class, so it was easy to choose recipes.
Austria is located in central Europe near Germany, Hungary, Italy, and Slovakia. It was, of course, the center of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, alternately known as the Habsburg or Holy Roman Empire. Consequently, culinary influences come from all over the former empire. Dumplings from Bohemia, sausages from Germany, breaded and fried cutlets from Italy, clear soups from France, and more.
Last night's menu consisted of Wienerschnitzel, Kartoffelkrapfen, green beans mit Speck, and Salzburger Nockerl. In English, that's breaded and fried veal cutlets, fried mashed potato pancakes, green beans with bacon, and a boysenberry-flavored souffle for dessert. Wine was a German Riesling, because I couldn't find an Austrian wine at Shoppers or Trader Joe's yesterday afternoon. I also couldn't find the traditional red currant jam for the schnitzel or nockerl, hence the boysenberry. This would have been a good meal for four people, although there could have been more veal.
Before you start, separate five eggs. The whites should go in a large bowl and warm to room temperature. The yolks should be split up into small bowls with two and three.
4 veal cutlets, either sliced or pounded (better) thin
salt and pepper
3/4 cup flour
1 egg, mixed with a few tbsp water
1 cup breadcrumbs
oil for frying
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet (I used cast-iron). Season the cutlets liberally with salt and pepper. Dredge them in flour, dip them on both sides in the egg mixture, then coat them with breadcrumbs. When the oil is hot, fry until both sides are golden brown and delicious (flip in the middle - no need to deep-fry). Pat both sides with paper towels to absorb excess oil, and place on a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet in a warm oven while you make the potatoes. Serve with red currant jam and lemon slices.
|The prep station|
2 lbs russet potatoes
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp flour
salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste
frying oil from the Wienerschnitzel
Peel and chop the potatoes into large chunks. Boil for about 20 minutes or until easily mashed. Let cool to room temperature. Mix with egg yolks, flour, and liberal salt, pepper, and nutmeg (these can be bland if you're not careful). Pat into thick pancakes and fry until golden brown and delicious, turning carefully with tongs halfway through. Pat each pancake on both sides with a paper towel, then put in the oven with the schnitzel to stay warm.
|This is not a low-fat meal.|
Green beans mit Speck
1 lb fresh green beans, trimmed
2-4 oz Speck, bacon, or pancetta (I used a 4-oz pack of Pancetta)
Boil green beans in salted water until crisp-tender. Fry pork product in a small pan until crispy, then toss with the beans.
|Ben was skeptical about the addition of boysenberry jam to fried, breaded meat, but here he is going back for more!|
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup red currant or other berry jam
5 egg whites
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1 tbsp flour
3 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 400f. Pour the cream into a shallow gratin, casserole, 8x8 square, or other baking dish. Spoon the jam into the cream, in dollops all over the pan.Whip the egg whites and salt until they form soft peaks, then gradually add the sugar and whip until glossy and forming stiff peaks. Gently fold in the flour. Mix the egg yolks and vanilla, then gently fold in. Spoon into the pan and bake for 13-15 minutes. Sprinkle powdered sugar over the top, if desired.
|The Nockerl came out perfectly!|