German cooking is in the news with Troy hosting its annual Festival of Nations on Aug. 17 and The Troy-Hayner Cultural Center sponsoring a Festival of Nations International Dinner —“A Taste of Germany— this Sunday.
The sold-out community dinner, a kick-off to the larger event, will feature a hearty Bavarian meal— tomato salad, sauerbraten, red cabbage, and boiled potatoes — as well as lively German music from polkas to waltzes.
The dinner is being prepared by the Caroline Restaurant in Troy with input from folks like Monika Wanamaker who serves on the German delegation of the Troy Festival Of Nations Committee.
We talked with Monika about her love, her native land and the German food which holds a special place in her heart.
Q. How did you become interested in cooking?
A. I was influenced by various German regions — I was born in Bavaria, my father was from Bohemia, now part of the Czech Republic, and my mother was from Silesia, now part of Poland.
Another strong influence was my mother’s best friend who was from Bremen in Northern Germany. It’s an area known for seafood. I learned to cook from my mother, from 4-H clubs and from my Home Economics classes at school. We came to Eaton when I was five.
Q. Where do you find your recipes?
A. I like to try new recipes and I collect cookbooks, including German ones. I also get recipes from German cooking magazines and cooking shows.
Q. Do you cook authentic German food often?
A. I cooked German food more often when my children lived at home. Now it’s mostly on holidays or special occasions or when visiting my mother who lives in Dayton. My children each have a favorite German dish that I prepare for their birthdays. My older daughter always requests roladen —a filled beef roll-up- with dumplings and red cabbage. My younger daughter loves the recipes I’m sharing with you for a typical Bavarian meal.
Cuisine evolves, it is influenced by other cultures and the times. So today, when I look at German cooking magazines, for example, there will be recipes that use lots of cheese and other ingredients that weren’t used when I was a child living in Germany.
Q. What are some of the techniques used in German cooking?
A.We dip meat in seasoned flour, then in an egg wash, then in Panko crumbs, and then fry it. This is how wienerschnitzel is prepared. Right now using Panko crumbs is a “hot” food preparation. But the Germans have been using it for a long time, and they borrowed it from the French.
Q. What are some typical German ingredients or foods?
A. In the South Bavaria-style for a heavy winter meal you’d have potato dumplings with beef or pork roast, and sauerkraut —there are different ways of preparing it. Other dishes might be salads —especially cucumber, and cabbage – made with vinegars and bacon. Also cakes and tortes, good hearty rye breads.
When I came to the States, I was disappointed that all we could find was Wonder Bread! We lived in Eaton, Ohio, not in New York or Chicago where there were larger ethnic communities and you could find that kind of food.
So we used to come to Dayton a couple of times a month and go to Arcade where we discovered wonderful ethnic offerings. We used to get Bollenbacher rye bread there and we also found out about Charlies’ Imports on Troy Street — they still support a variety of ethnic cultures and get shipment of various rye breads every Tuesday. Yum!
Q. Do you have a cooking tip to offer a new cook who would like to try dishes from other nations?
A. Immerse yourself in the culture – have music playing, sip a glass of wine from that culture and just enjoy.
Q. Why is it important to you to cook dishes from your native land?
A. All cultures — it doesn’t matter whether it’s Asian, Hispanic, European — all celebrate life through food. When we’re sad, we eat, when we’re happy we eat, when we celebrate life milestones, it all revolves around food. If you want to preserve your heritage, food is the way to go!
To visit with Monika Wanamaker in her kitchen while she prepares this Bavarian meal, log on to MyDaytonDailyNews.com
SPOTLIGHTING GOOD COOKS THROUGHOUT REGION
In this new weekly food feature, Life reporter Meredith Moss chats with folks throughout Southwest Ohio who have a passion for cooking. These heartwarming stories focus on food, family and advice and/or recipes to share with cooks everywhere.
If you know a terrific cook who we could feature —either amateur or professional- please send your suggestion to Meredith Moss: MMoss@coxohio.com and include a daytime phone number.
Monika Wanamaker Shares A Typical Bavarian Meal
Rotkohl (Red Cabbage)
1 small head of red cabbage, sliced thin (approx 4 to 6 cups)
4 - 6 slices diced bacon
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 Tbspn apple cider vinegar (you can use white or balsamic if you prefer)
3 Tbspn white sugar
Red wine, optional
1 c diced apple, optional
Fry diced bacon in a large pan, stirring to prevent sticking, approximately 4 minutes. Add diced onion, and cook until just soft. Add sliced cabbage, stirring occasionally as it cooks down. Add salt & pepper. When it is just cooked down, but yet a bit crunchy add the vinegar and sugar. Cook for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust to taste. To me this dish tastes best when it has cooked at least approximately 30 to 40 minutes. Serve as a side dish with meat of your choice.
Gebrantene Panierte Schweinscottleten (Fried Breaded Pork Chops)
4 boneless pork chops, approx. 4 oz each
1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 whole eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 cups bread crumbs, plain or seasoned or Panko
3 tablespoons EVOO or vegetable oil for frying in a large, heavy skillet (If you like you can add 2 tablespoons butter for additional flavor)
Season the flour with the salt and pepper and put on a shallow plate or pie pan. Beat the eggs slightly and put on another shallow plate or pie pan. Put the bread crumbs on another shallow plate or pie pan.
Heat the oil in the skillet on medium heat.
Dredge each pork chop in first the flour (both sides), then the egg wash, then the bread crumbs. When all 4 are finished, place them carefully in the hot oil. Fry approximately 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Put in an oven proof serving dish, and put in the a warm oven (approx 275 degrees) until you’re ready to serve.
Gebrattene Kartoffln (Fried Potatoes)
3 to 4 medium size white potatoes
1/2 cups chopped onions
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablesoons EVOO or other vegetable oil for frying, add more oil as needed.
Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Then again in half so you’ll have 4 quarters. Slice thinly. Heat oil in heavy skillet, add onions and cook until they are translucent. Add the potatoe slices. Turn frequently to get a nice crispy finish. You may want to do this in several batches if all the potatoes don’t fit in the skillet at one time. Transfer to oven proof serving dish.
For softer potatoes add 1/4 cup water after the potatoes are browned and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes.