Category Archives: Recipe

Beyond Brats: Krakauer Wurst, Versatile German Sausage

Krakauer Sausage

Krakauer / Krakow Sausage wrapping

The name gives away that fact that although Krakauer is classified as a German sausage, its roots are in Krakow, Poland. Krakauer can also be called Kawassy. As with the other sausages we have looked at (Weisswurst, Gelbwurst) the ingredients and look of the sausage may vary according to its origin. I have found pictures of long skinny sausages, and fatter rolls meant to slice for lunch meat or thickly sliced, fry quickly.  I had that second kind.

Krakauer sausage ingredients

Krakauer sausage ingredients–pork, beef, salt and garlic. “Spices” probably include pepper and nutmeg.

The sausage is traditionally 80% pork and 20% beef, and is smoked, boiled and smoked again before going to the market. One site described it as “bolder than bologna.”  I definitely liked this one–either as a cold cut or fried and found various uses for it.

Krakauer cold cuts

Krakauer sliced for cold cuts

[A site in German says that if sausage contains nitrite it is actually dangerous to grill it, as the high heat turns the nitrite salts into a carcinogenic. I had never seen that before, and interesting thing to learn.]

First, we had it for dinner.  After I browned the sausage in some vegetable oil, I stirred cubed beets into the grease and sprinkled it with nutmeg.  I also fried some potatoes.

Krakauer Wurst dinner

Krakauer Wurst dinner with sauteed beets and fried potatoes.

The next morning, I diced some of the sausage and stirred it into pieces of the left over fried potatoes–sautéed it and mixed in an egg. Yummy.

A couple days later, I boiled some greens (I had kale and beet greens on hand). I browned cubes of the sausage in a little vegetable oil. when the greens were tender (less than 10 minutes), I stirred them in with the sausage cubes and we had another twist on Krakauer sausage.

Krakauer/Krakow/Kawassy–whatever you want to call it–this sausage has climbed to the top of my favorites.

Zingy Krautsuppe: German Cabbage Soup

I love making soup, and this adaptable variation on a traditional German cabbage soup manages to pay tribute to the German ancestors while cleaning out my refrigerator at the same time.

Cabbage soup

Cabbage soup cooking

I will give you a recipe, but please don’t feel bound by anything you see.  Well, except the cabbage and the vinegar and caraway, because that puts the ZING in this Zingy soup.

I used pieces of bacon and some leftover cooked ham.  Browning the vegetables in the bacon grease adds depth to their flavor.

cabbage soup in bowl closeup

A bit of vinegar makes your vegetables zippier.

And caraway gives this soup a unique flavor.

Zingy German Cabbage Soup

Serves 6-8
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 1 hour, 15 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 35 minutes
Meal type Soup
Misc Serve Hot
Region German

Ingredients

  • 6 cups cabbage (chopped)
  • 2 large carrots (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 stalks celery (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 Bell pepper (red or green, chopped)
  • 1 large potato (cubed)
  • 3 rashers of bacon (cut in 1)
  • 2 cups cooked ham (cubed)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 6-8 cups broth (chicken, beef or vegetable)
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds

Directions

1. Brown the bacon pieces in soup pot . Add ham cubes and stir to brown slightly. Take meat out of pan, but leave bacon grease.
2. Add chopped carrots and celery and pepper and potato and stir to brown and slightly soft. Add cabbage and continue to stir until cabbage gets a bit soft.
3. Add broth and meat, vinegar and caraway, and stir to combine.
4. Simmer for an hour or more.
5. Serve with dark or rye bread. Store leftovers in glass jars in refrigerator for up to a week. (One quart makes two large servings.)

Note

I did not add salt because the ham and bacon added enough salt.  You might make it with ground beef, in which case you probably would want to add salt.

The soup can be made vegetarian by using vegetable broth and no meat.

I used a sweet potato instead of a regular white potato.

If your potatoes are thin-skinned and organic, don't bother to peel.

I did not add onions, but leeks or onions can also be added. In fact feel free to use whatever vegetables you want.  The recipe is very adaptable.

 

Easiest Bread Recipe EVER

One of the reasons I got back to making bread after many years hiatus, is that donning that floury apron and baking bread makes me feel like I’m bonding with my grandmothers.  For all those 18th and 19th century grandmas, making bread wasn’t just some Martha Stewart exercise in being trendy and “artisan.”  If you wanted bread, you baked it! They were not making the easiest bread recipe, but I like to think that somebody discovered an easier way than their usual difficult job.

Easiest bread recipe

Easiest bread , sliced

Great-Great-Great Grandma Bakes Bread

If it was early in the 18th century, you went to the miller and bought a sack of flour, lugging it home in a wagon or on the back of a horse or mule.  And you stopped off at the brewers to pick up some of the yeast that was a by-product of his operation–because packaged yeast was somewhere in the dim future that you couldn’t even imagine. And the easiest bread recipe may not have been part of your repertoire.

You went home and mixed up the magic three ingredients–flour, water, and yeast –or you pulled your sourdough starter from the cool underground icehouse–and stirred up your batter in a big wooden bowl with a carved wooden spoon. (Perhaps you used a different grain, or added salt or even a bit of sugar.

Then you set the dough aside to rise, perhaps covered with a towel made of flour sack.  And you went about your other daily chores–collecting the eggs, milking the cow, sewing the clothes, cultivating your kitchen garden, perhaps “putting up” some fruits and vegetables (canning we call it now) for the winter. All in a day’s work.

Of course, the first thing that morning you had stoked the fireplace fire and from long practice, you knew which part of the hearth made the best place to bake your bread. You took time off from your other chores to give the dough a good workout–kneading, kneading, kneading, and set it aside to rise again (if you were not using the easiest bread recipe). When the dough had risen to perfection, you pulled off a hunk and shaped it into a loaf, and set it on the sweet spot on the hearth to bake.

And the next day–or perhaps two days later–you did it all over again.

The Easiest Bread Recipe

Easiest Bread Recipe

King Arthur’s easiest bread recipe–Peasant Bread out of casserole dish.

While I make plenty of bread that takes a lot of kneading and rising time, I recently found this recipe for peasant bread from King Arthur Flour, and it is the simplest and easiest bread recipe I have come across.  Those ancient grandmas would not have made this exact bread, because it calls for quick-rise yeast, which they definitely didn’t have. However, making a simple bread that bakes without extensive kneading and multiple risings would have been appealing, and might well reach back even to Europe before our ancestors came to North America.

Just mix the flour, water, salt, sugar and yeast.  Let it rise for 1 1/2 hours.  Deflate it a bit, put it in a oven-safe bowl and let it rest for about 15 minutes. Bake for 15 minutes–and you’ve got bread.  No kneading, no fuss no bother. Now isn’t that the easiest bread recipe ever?

(Follow the link to the King Arthur site for the recipe.)

A Bit of Bread History

The History Channel website gives us a fascinating look at the beginnings of bread. I learned that early Egyptians made the first commercial yeast–about 300 B.C. People got around to finely milling grains–thus enabling bakers to make softer breads instead of coarse “peasant breads” in 900 B.C. Another online history of bread tells us that bread was formed free-form on the bricks of the open oven until the 1800s. Finally pans were used. After the Civil War, we finally got commercially produced yeast and baking powder, which led to an easier way to make bread, if not the easiest bread recipe.

I love this Getty Museum article that tells you how to make bread the Medieval way–from growing your own wheat to building your own oven. Follow the link to see the entire process.

Medieval bread

Baking bread in Medieval times. Not much had changed by the time our first Puritan ancestors had harvested their first crop of wheat in the 1620s–or throughout the next two centuries.