Sunday, February 24, 2013

A German Cooking Lesson - Rouladen & Windbeutel - Beef Rolls & Creme Puffs

Christine is one of our family's dearest friends.  Not only was she one of the first people we met when we moved to town 27 years ago, she also babysat two of my daughters while I taught school. She is a warm bundle of infinite patience and love, as well as being a fantastic cook!  I still remember coming into her house to pick up the girls and being treated to the most mouth watering smells coming out of her kitchen.  She generously offered delicious samples and tastes, so I was thrilled when she agreed to teach me a thing or two about German cooking.  Christine was 17 and living in Germany when she met Randy, who was in the U.S. army, at a church social event.  They fell in love, got married, and moved to the United States.  They now have two married sons, four grandsons, and are still sweethearts!  When Christine first moved here, she did not have any of her own family around to teach her how to cook, but successfully taught herself how to make the German dishes she remembered from home.  Her U.S. family and friends benefited from her persistence since she has always been so kind in sharing her cooking with others - like me!  A few days ago we spent a laughter filled afternoon together in the kitchen and the results were just delicious.

The first dish we tackled was Rouladen which is meat rolled around a filling, browned, braised, and served with gravy made from the cooking skillet.  For dessert we made both regular and chocolate creme puffs or German Windbeutels - literally "wind bags"!


Ingredients for 6 to 8 Servings:

Page from Christine's mom's cookbook

2 pounds of  thin sliced  top  round steak
1/2 cup  horseradish mustard
3 to 4 onions, diced
1 cup sliced dill pickles or 8 dill spears
Optional: 8 slices cooked bacon
salt and pepper
2 to 4 tablespoons cooking oil
1/2 cup flour
4 cups of beef broth
2 to 3 tablespoons cornstarch
To serve with the rouladen and gravy:
6 to 8 potatoes
1 jar prepared red cabbage
Something to hold the rolls together:
small skewers, metal rings or cooking twine


Cut the 2 pounds of thin sliced top sirloin into 8 equal pieces.  Spread each piece with 1 tablespoon mustard, 1 tablespoon chopped onion, 3 or 4 pickle slices (or 1 spear), and shake some salt and pepper over it.

Roll the meat up, starting with the narrower end first.  Hold the roll together with cooking twine or skewers.

On medium high, heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a large skillet. Place the rolls in the skillet and begin to brown them.  You may have to do this in batches or use two pans.

Sprinkle each roll with a tablespoon of the flour.

When the rolls are browned on the bottom, turn them over so the other side can brown as well.

Pour 2 cups of beef broth over the rolls, cover and let simmer for at least 2 hours or until the meat is very tender.  Check them occasionally and give the sauce a stir to ensure that it doesn't burn on the bottom of the pan. Add more beef broth if it is needed.  About a half hour before serving, peel and cube the potatoes.  Place them in boiling water and cook them until a fork pierces them easily.  Right before serving, carefully remove the skewers, metal rings, or twine and put the beef rolls on a serving platter. Stir the sauce in the pan making sure that all the yummy bits on the bottom get mixed in.  To thicken the sauce so it becomes gravy, mix 1 cup of the beef broth with the cornstarch and pour it into the pan. Stir it in and continue to cook until the gravy thickens.  Warm up the prepared red cabbage in a pan or microwave and place in serving dish.

Grab a ladle and serve the rouladen with the red cabbage, potatoes, and the gravy.  Enjoy!


Ingredients for 18 small puffs;

1 cup water
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 cup flour
4 eggs
To add for chocolate creme puffs:
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
For filling:
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup prepared vanilla pudding
For ganache:
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream, divided
A few tablespoons of confectioners sugar


 Put the water and butter into a pan and heat until it boils. Stir to mix the water and butter together.

If you are making schoko windbeutel or chocolate creme puffs, mix the flour, cocoa, and sugar together.

Turn the heat off. Dump all of flour (or flour/cocoa mixture if you are making the chocolate puffs) in at once and quickly stir with a wooden spoon. The mixture will form into a play-dough like ball.

The dough has to cool until it is just barely warm before you can add the eggs.  So use the time to make the chocolate and white chocolate ganache which will top the puffs.  Put each type of chip in its own bowl.  Add 1/4 cup heavy cream to each one, and microwave each separately for thirty seconds.  Stir to combine.  If needed, microwave each a few more seconds. (Christine actually uses a food processor to combine them by heating up the cream by itself, pouring it over the bits, and then processing the mixture.)

When the dough is cool enough, beat the eggs in - one at a time - until well mixed in and dough is glossy.  It is so much easier to do this with a food processor rather than by hand.

Using spoons, drop the dough onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Try to make a little "cap" on the top of each one. Bake in a 400 degree preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until crisped outside and browned.

Immediately, so they don't get soggy, use a sharp knife to cut the tops almost all the way off. 

While the puffs are cooling whip up the cream with the vanilla and sugar until peaks form. Set half of it aside and fold the other half into the prepared vanilla pudding.  Assemble the windbeute by spooning plain whipped cream into some puffs and the pudding mixture into others. Top each puff with a sprinkle of confectioners sugar or a drizzle of either or both the ganaches.

Two very happy cooks!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Scallops for Your Sweetie

         This easy but elegant dish has a connection to romance.  The scallop shell is known to be a symbol of the Roman goddess for love - Venus.  Apparently, it's usually part of any painting which portrays her. So what could be better to serve on Valentine's Day than this twist on the classic French dish "Scallops Provencal"? I love mixing it up by adding tomatoes and serving it over pasta. However, this is also very good just on its own - served in a bowl with some warm French bread to dip in the juices.  

For another Valentine's variation on scallops, Click HERE.

Ingredients for four to six people:

3 shallots
2 tablespoons butter
4 garlic cloves
2 to 3 tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1 cup dry white wine (or substitute chicken broth)
1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using chicken broth)
2 pounds scallops
1 small bunch fresh parsley
1 lemon
1/2 box (8 oz.) angel hair pasta, cooked according to directions


Remove the skin and dice the shallots.  Peel the garlic cloves and put them through a press.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan and add the shallots.  Saute the shallots over medium low heat until they are soft.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds.

While the shallots are cooking, chop enough parsley to fill 1/4 cup and squeeze half of the lemon.  Set these aside and then dice the tomatoes.

When the shallots and garlic have finished cooking, add the tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns, and wine (or chicken broth).  Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

While tomato mixture is simmering, rinse and drain the scallops.  If they are large sea scallops, cut them in half or quarters.  Then add them to the simmering pan and cook for about 10 minutes or until they are opaque throughout.  Try not to over cook them or they will get rubbery.

When scallops are done, add the juice from half of the lemon and the 1/4 cup chopped parsley.  Serve over hot pasta or in a bowl with some crusty French bread. Slice the remaining half of the lemon and use it along with any leftover parsley as garnishes.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Fun Football Food - Barbecue Nachos

           Looking for a quick appetizer to serve while watching the big game?  Last Saturday night I stumbled on a combination that is surprising satisfying, but not too heavy.  Card club was meeting at our house and typically the hostess provides a dessert.  This group has the strange practice of eating the sweet first, and then nibbling on hors d'oeuvres for the rest of the night.  Around 6:30, I got a call from two different members (who are also very good friends), saying that due to crazy circumstances, they would be coming over empty handed and could I whip something up for them? Loving this last minute challenge, I looked around the kitchen to see what I had on hand.  I found about half a pound of frozen pork tenderloin that I had already cooked low and slow at 300 degrees in a bath of chicken broth for about an hour and a half. I also had a package of whole wheat tortillas and half a head of green cabbage.  I remembered an Asian flavored appetizer we had at a restaurant the week before that consisted of fried won tons, slaw, and pork.  Since I also had a bottle of barbecue sauce, I thought I might try the same concept but switch out the main flavor.  The result was very yummy - the cabbage slaw contributed a zing that played off nicely with the barbecued pork and the whole wheat tortilla chips added a nutty crunch.  We liked it so much, I made it again this week.  Chicken could be substituted for the pork, and homemade South Beach Diet barbecue sauce (recipe at bottom of this post) could be used to cut back on the sugar.  

Ingredients to serve six to eight people: 

4 whole wheat tortillas
cooking spray or 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 pound cooked and shredded pork tenderloin
a generous 1/2 cup of barbecue sauce
2 cups chopped cabbage
1 large tomato, cubed
2 tablespoons diced red onion
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon rice wine (or white) vinegar 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 or 2 green onions, sliced, for garnish


        Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut the tortillas into wedge shaped pieces and place them on a foil lined cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray or lightly oiled.  Then spray the pieces with the cooking oil or lightly brushed with olive oil.  Sprinkle the chili powder over the wedges, place in the oven, and bake for 5 minutes.  Turn the wedges over and bake for 5 more minutes or until they have been crisp and slightly browned.  Place on the serving platter.

        Place the cabbage, tomato, and red onion in a bowl.  Sprinkle the mixture with the 2 teaspoons of olive oil, teaspoon of vinegar, salt, and pepper.  Toss well and pile the slaw up on the tortilla chips.  Combine the shredded meat with the barbecue sauce and place the mixture on top of the cabbage.  Garnish with the sliced green onion and serve.

And if you want to cut down on the amount of sugar in the barbecue sauce:

South Beach BBQ Sauce – From South Beach Diet Book
1 (8-ounce) can Tomato sauce
2 tablespoons White vinegar
2 teaspoons Chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon Garlic powder

Combine all ingredients together. Refrigerate in a plastic container