Monday, September 30, 2013

Cooking Club #5: German - Kartoffelpuffer (Potato Pancakes) with Homemade Applesauce

Our cooking club continues its culinary tour around the world; after tastes of India, France, England, and Italy, our next stop was Germany.

I typically make latkes for Hanukkah every year, so I was happy to make the German version, called kartoffelpuffer. Since it is prime apple-picking season around here, I also made some fresh homemade applesauce to serve with them.

The potato pancake recipe makes about 2 dozen large pancakes and the applesauce makes about 4 cups. Both recipes can easily be cut in half.

For the potato pancakes:

  • 12 medium russet potatoes
  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 C. flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • vegetable oil, for frying
Scrub and peel the potatoes. Place a large colander in the sink and line with a clean dish towel.

Grate the potatoes and onion directly into the dish towel. Try to work quickly as the potatoes will begin to oxidize and turn brown. If you have a food processor, you can save yourself a lot of time.

Twist the dish towel into a ball and squeeze as much moisture as possible out of it.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the potatoes, flour, and salt and stir to combine.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in one or more large cast-iron or other heavy duty frying pans. You want a good coating of oil on the bottom, maybe about 1/4" or so.

To see if the oil is hot enough, I take a small amount of batter and put it in the pan. If it sizzles, then you are ready to cook. Your pancakes will be greasy if the oil isn't hot enough.

Scoop the batter into the pan (use a 1/3 cup for large pancakes or 1/4 cup for smaller ones). Use the back of the measuring cup to flatten the pancakes.

Fry for 2 minutes on each side. 

Then drain on a paper towel and serve immediately, or place in a warm over (200-250 degrees) until ready to serve. Serve with applesauce and/or sour cream.

For the applesauce:
  • 8-12 sweet apples - I used Gala, but you can use a mix of your favorites, cored and quartered - leave the skin on
  • 1.5 to 2 C. water
Notice there is no sweetener needed for this applesauce, as long as you use sweet apples.

Put the apples and water in large stockpot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the apples are soft. Most of the water should have evaporated during the cooking. 

Pour the apples and remaining water into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. If you have a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, don't use the highest setting unless you want a baby-food like consistency. You can also use a food-mill, if you don't have a blender or food processor.

You can taste and add vanilla, cinnamon, and/or nutmeg, but I prefer mine plain.

Here are some other photos from our German feast...

Appetizers, including herring salad (prepared by Maliha), carrot salad and cucumber salad (prepared by Sherry), and Abendbrot ("evening bread"), homemade German farmer's bread topped with various cold cuts, cheeses, and pickled vegetables (prepared by Kristen).

Sauerbraten with Kartoffelkloesse (potato dumplings) and Rotkohl (red cabbage), prepared by our hostess Susanne.

Cauliflower in cream sauce and Spaetzle (prepared by Nehal).

Sauerkraut (prepared by Terri)

Rouladen (prepared by Jennifer)

And wienerschnitzel (prepared by Laura)

That's a lot of food!

And finally, dessert!!

There was bienenstich (bee sting cake), prepared by Emmy.

Hazelnut cake, prepared by Terri.

German apple cake, prepared by Prassu.

And Rote Gruetze (red berry pudding), served with vanilla sauce (prepared by Laura).

I'm still full the next day!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Easy Cinnamon Rolls Made With Pizza Dough

The other day I had planned to make homemade pizza, so I defrosted some pizza dough. Then, life intervened (my older son got a black eye running into a classmate on the playground), and the pizza never got made. The dough went into the fridge, and I forgot about it until this morning.

It occurred to me that I could potentially make cinnamon rolls with the dough. I did a quick Google search, and sure enough, people have done it. They were very tasty and took less than 30 minutes to make.

Makes about 12 small cinnamon rolls.


  • 1 recipe pizza dough, at room temperature
  • 4 Tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 2 Tbsp. cinnamon-sugar (ratio of about 1:3, cinnamon:sugar)
  • 1/4 C. confectioner's sugar, for the glaze
  • 1 Tbsp. milk, for the glaze
Once the dough is at room temperature, stretch it into a rectangle about 1/4 in. thick. I would guess it was about 12 inches long.

Dot the surface with about 3/4 of the butter, then sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.

Tightly roll the dough, long-ways, into a log shape. 

Use a knife to cut about 12 slices from the log. Put the rolls in a buttered 8" square baking dish. Dot with the remaining butter.

Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes, until light golden brown.

Meanwhile, whisk together the confectioner's sugar and milk to form a glaze.

Once the cinnamon rolls have come out of the oven, drizzle the glaze over the top.

Serve warm.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Curried Chickpea Salad

I typically eat leftovers for lunch, but today there were none, so I whipped up this simple vegetarian lunch. It's not exactly a mock chicken salad - my friend Emmy has an excellent one that holds together better for a sandwich - but it has a lot of the same flavors.

Makes 2 servings.


  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas - if using canned, be sure to drain and rinse well
  • 1/4 C. diced celery
  • 1/4 C. dried cranberries (or currants, raisins, or dates)
  • 1 tsp. spicy brown mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. pickle relish
  • 1/4 C. Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. curry powder (or more to taste)
  • salt, ground black pepper and/or cayenne, to taste
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Taste for seasoning. If you are using canned chickpeas, you probably won't need any salt. 

Chopped nuts would also make a nice addition. If you omit the relish, you'll want to add some lemon or lime juice for acid. 

To make this a vegan dish, omit the yogurt and add additional mustard and lemon or lime juice to taste.

Serve it with some crackers and cut up veggies, or on a bed of greens.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pumpkin Banana Muffins

It's finally feeling like fall around here, which means I can pull out all my pumpkin recipes! Normally, my go-to recipe is my simple pumpkin muffins, but I had some very overripe bananas that I wanted to incorporate, so I tweaked the recipe a bit, increasing the flour and decreasing the sugar and oil.

Makes about 12 large muffins.


  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 C. pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 C. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. each of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and/or all-spice
  • 1/4 C. vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
In a mixing bowl, add the bananas, pumpkin, brown sugar, and spices. 

Stir until blended. Add the oil, eggs, and vanilla and stir again.

Finally, add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda, and stir to combine. 

Do not over-mix. There will be lumps of banana in the batter.

Divide the batter evenly into 12 greased muffin tins.

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, until the muffins are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.