01 November 2008

cooking from memory

When I close my eyes I can still see my Oma's kitchen. The wall of cookbooks, her words neatly scrawled in German in the margins, or on index cards tucked into the pages. The canisters on the counter for zucker and mehl (sugar and flour). The closet full of every kitchen gadget available, including the special edition Kitchen Aid stand mixer with her name engraved in the silver bowl that I lusted after as a child, the one she gifted to me before she passed away. 

Rouladen, rotkraut, pfannkuchen, linzertorte; my childhood is filled with memories of foods in a foreign language. A language I couldn't and still don't understand, but is still one of the most comforting sounds in the world to me. 

This kartoffel suppe and dampfnudelen was a staple of our visits to Oma and Opa's, all of us gathering around the table, sopping up the hot soup with the rolls. I learned to make it with her standing by my side, guiding me through the process, it's one of the last things we did together. Mine tastes almost like hers, but nothing ever tastes quite as good as when your Oma makes it.

Kartoffell Suppe 

6-8 yukon gold potatoes
3 medium carrots
3 ribs of celery
1 medium onion
2 beef bouillon cubes (you can also use chicken or veggie)
1 slice of rye bread, ripped into pieces
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 cup sour cream

Dice the vegetables into roughly the same size. Saute the in a deep stockpot with the olive oil for 4-5 minutes. Add enough water to cover the vegetables plus an inch or so. Add the bouillon cubes and rye bread and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat for 40 minutes to an hour, until the vegetables are soft. Remove from heat and puree, either with an immersion blender or in a blender (be careful, it's hot!). Add sour cream and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with Dampfnudelen.


The soup can definitely stand on it's own, but I think you need these rolls, with their pillowy tops and crusted salty bottoms.

2 1/2 cups
1/2 cup, plus 1/2 Tbsp milk, warmed
1/2 package active dry yeast
1 egg
pinch of salt

1 cup warm water with 2 Tbsp salt mixed in

Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water with a little bit of sugar sprinkled on top. Make a well in the flour, pour yeast into the well and let it stand for 1/2 hour. Add milk, pinch of salt and eggs and mix until dough starts to come together. If it is really sticky, add more flour a little bit at a time. Knead well until dough is smooth. Set in a oiled bowl, cover with saran wrap and let sit in a warm spot for an hour. Cut off 1/2 fist size pieces, roll into balls and let rise on floured surface for 15 minutes. In a dutch oven over medium low heat, arrange dumplings in one layer touching each other. Pour warm salt water into pot, until it comes about halfway up the dumpling. Put the lid on and walk away! Wait for 15 minutes, and remove the lid (this is where Oma would slap my hands when I tried to get an early peek, the steam is what makes these work, so don't lift the lid!!). They should have a golden grown crust on the bottom when you remove them.


alitron wadsbot said...

oh girl you made me so hungry! can you send me some?

ab said...

I'm so proud of you. Such a nice post. i miss you. xoxo