Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Towards the end of May, in the Midwest it is the official start of BBQ season. Once the twigs, leaves and  branches are cleaned up, and the lawn is mowed, it's time to bring out the BBQ grills, the lawn furniture and give them a good cleaning. Once all of that is done the fun part begins. What to put on that grill?  I am fortunate to have a gas grill and a Weber charcoal kettle, and if needed a propane turkey fryer. I prefer using the Weber charcoal grill because I learned to cook on one. The gas grill is simply an extension of the kitchen oven. The backyard barbecue is where I can hold my own with the best of them. 
Always on the lookout for something new, or in this case retro, the Low Country Boil was something that I heard about for many years but never tried before. The Low Country Boil is a one pot meal that can feed a few, or a crowd if needed. Having a large propane turkey fryer on hand makes this a quick, and easy, no-brainer for feeding a large group of people. My brother Bob, who lives in the Memphis area suggested that I try his version of this recipe. this recipe.
The true origin of the Low Country Boil, like many recipes is often contested. The low country includes the coastal regions of South Carolina and Georgia. The ingredients are simple and generally include a 3 oz. box of Crab Boil seasoning (Old Bay or Zararains), 1 pound smoked sausages cut into 1-2” pieces, corn on the cobb 4 ears broken in half and finally ¾ pound jumbo shrimp that has been deveined and left in the shell. Then there are many recipes where baby red potatoes (8) are added to the mix.
I decided to make it for Memorial Day. When I mentioned what this was to my siblings, it was not well received. We were going to my sister and brother-in-law's house for BBQ chicken and country ribs. If it's BBQ I'm down with it, anywhere, anytime. I decided to make the Low Country Boil the day before the holiday for my wife and I. Of course it rained all day so we were forced to take it indoors and cook on the stove. I went to the store and purchased corn on the cobb, jumbo shrimp deveined and in the shell and baby new potatoes. Since I love the taste of fresh Andouille sausage, I substituted these for the smoked sausage. That meant that I had to cook the sausages first. 
Bother Bob said to go to the grocery store and ask for the cardboard trays that 24 can beer or soda come in. Line them with aluminum foil and finally newspapers. These prepared boxes are actually your individual serving trays.
The next step in to get your water going. The best way to determine how much water you will need is to put all of your prepared ingredients into the pot that you will be cooking in. We used our 8 quart steamer with a basket. Fill the pot with water so that your ingredients are covered. Remove the ingredients and drain them back into the pot and set to the side until needed. To the water add the salt. Bring the salted water to a boil.
Add the crab boil spice packet to the boiling water (leave the spices in the packet), followed by the washed and scrubbed new potatoes. If the potatoes are large cut them into quarters. Cover the pot and when the water returns to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes
Next add the sausages cut into pieces. Cook for an additional 10 minutes and then add the corn on the cob that have been cut in half and allowed to return to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 more minutes.Turn off the heat and add the shrimp. Cover the pot and wait 10 more minutes. Have a serving box, or multiple boxes lined with foil and newspaper, or parchment paper ready. Drain and dump the potatoes, corn, sausages and shrimp into the prepared boxes and enjoy. Season to taste.For condiments have salt, pepper, butter for the corn, and cocktail sauce for the shrimp on hand.
One final note: The next time I make this, finances permitting, I just might throw in a couple of king crab legs and a 5-6oz lobster tail or two. This one pot meal could even be done in a crock pot if you want. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Eggs In The Nest

If you're looking for a break from German food, then today is you're lucky day. In our family one of our favorite breakfast meals had to Eggs-In-The Nest. This was one of Moms specialties when we were growing up. This awesome breakfast is what I would call comfort food. In my wife's family they call it Eggs-In-A-Frame. This breakfast dish is called by so many other names as well. Whatever you call it, it is good.
So how do you make Eggs-In-The Nest? I'm glad you asked. I grew up using white bread, however this recipe works great with whole wheat, rye, or any other bread for that matter. You're going to need a 2-1/4 inch cutter of some type. I use a jar that is the perfect size. Cut a hole in the center of each slice of bread, reserving the bread circles to serve with the nest eggs. Spread softened butter, margarine, or any other butter substitute on each side of the bread and circles and put them into a hot pan. Add a small dab of butter to the hole of each bread slice and drop an egg into each one. 

Cook the egg on the first side until the egg begins to set. Lift the corner of the bread and when it's golden brown on the first side flip it over and then flip the bread circles. They should be golden as well.
Cook the second side until it is also golden on the bottom as well. If you like your eggs less cooked take it off earlier. If you like to cheese on your eggs dd it to the nest eggs as soon as you flip from side one to side two. To make the cheese melt quickly place a cover on the pan. Any kind of  melting cheese will work here.  
Finally when the cheese melts place the toasted bread circles on top of the nest eggs and serve.
The real beauty of Eggs-In-The Nest is that it is a one pan meal. No need to take out the toaster for this treat. In our house Eggs-In-The Nest is one of the most requested birthday breakfasts that we make.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Potato Pancakes - Kartoffelpuffer

Potato Pancakes
I was fortunate to grow up with a neighbor with Polish roots, who made the best potato pancakes that I ever tasted. When my mother had a craving for potato pancakes she would tell him and he would make them for us. My Mom tried several times to get his recipe but he would not give it up. When he made them and brought us a platter, Mom would get some Polish Sausage, applesauce, sour cream and butter out and we would enjoy them as long as they lasted. Unfortunately they didn't last very long in our house, so you had to grab yours allotment while you could. 
Fortunately my wife made some pretty good potato pancakes as well. Like Kartoffelklösse, you have to work quickly or they will turn dark very soon after being peeled, or grated. To make them as close to white as possible, once they are peeled place them into cold water until needed. Once you are done peeling the potatoes, grate them on a hand grater, or a food processor. Place the grated potatoes into a pot and rinse them with very cold water. Keep rinsing until all of the starch is washed out of them. You will know because the water with the grated potatoes will be clear. All of the water must be squeezed out of the grated potatoes. 

You have to measure out some flour, add some dry ingredients, chopped onions, eggs, parsley, and finally the dry grated potatoes. Mixing them well, you just have to wait for the fat to heat up on the skillet before adding your potato pancake batter using a ladle. Fry one side until golden brown, flip over and fry the second side until done. Don't press down on the pancake to compress it. In out family potato pancakes are served with lots of butter and a choice of applesauce, or sour cream.


When you can't have Kartoffelklösse then what? Spätzle!

Making Spätzle!
There are many ways to spell Spaetzle (spätzle, käesspätzle, kässpätzle,) however you spell it, these dumplings are very German in origin. In our family Spätzle was something that we made in our house, when we weren’t going to Grandma’s to have Kartoffelklösse. Since we had no idea how to make it, we resorted to buying the boxed (Maggi) brand. I can honestly say that the Spätzle in a box is actually good in a pinch. It just isn’t as good as homemade. Is anything?
Spätzle is Germany's answer to Italian Gnocchi, and Polish Kluski. What do you serve it with? Sauerbraten, Rouladen, mixed with string green beans, or Käesspätzle (more on this to follow).

Pure White Kartoffelklösse

Pure White Kartoffelklösse
Can you make pure white Kartoffelklösse every time? Maybe if you were in an oxygen free environment like outer space it might be possible. I would love to be proven wrong, but I really don't think that it is possible to write a recipe for making pure white Kartoffelklösse every time without the addition of some chemical additives or anti-oxidants. Every now and then you get lucky and you end up with off-white or antique white Kartoffelklösse. My sister swears that she can do it every  time by adding ice, lemon juice and using only stainless steel cooking pans. I have tried her recipe and can't make it happen. I have been told that adding vinegar will do it and boiling milk will do it. If anyone knows how do guarantee a perfect white klösse every time please let me know.   
Because of the time involved making Kartoffelklösse, often people use the less time consuming.recipe make them. That method has a recipe using flour mixed with the potatoes, eggs and often nutmeg, chives or onions.The use of buttered croutons is also not universal.This type is more Bavarian influenced and similar in some ways to the boxed Kartoffelklösse mix versions. This type is often served  in  local German or Bavarian restaurants that I've been to. If anyone has a great recipe for this type of Kartoffelklösse please send it to me.
Like most German foods I have found that there are so many recipes that change from region to region and often even in the same family.
Please submit any of your family recipes by email, or post.