My grandmother loved sweet and sour dishes. I’ve never been able to pull off a duplicate of her really delicious sweet and sour dandelion greens. Despite her almost all British Isles background, in northern Ohio where she lived, Germans immigrants have influenced the foods we ate for centuries, like this German cabbage.
My German cookbook does have a slew (or slaw?) of German cabbage recipes,among them this recipe for sweet and sour cabbage. Not very photogenic, but you don’t want to waste time taking pictures when you could be eating, now do you?
German cabbage, sweet and sour cabbage with raisins
I found this recipe because I bought a pretty little Savoy cabbage at the Farmer’s Market. Savoy is the one with the ruffled leaves that curl out away from the main ball of the cabbage like an Elizabethan collar. It has a milder flavor, so is an easier sale with non-cabbage people.
The recipe is from the German cookbook that I keep on my Kindle. You can see a bit about The German Cookbook by Mimi Sheraton on my Cookbooks Page. I just prop the Kindle up on the counter as I would a recipe card. Very handy.
So I spotted a recipe for Savoy cabbage in brown sauce that looked pretty good, but a few pages farther on, I saw an adaptation of that recipe that made a sweet and sour German cabbage dish. I followed the recipe except for swapping vinegar for the called-for lemon juice. Lemon would be delicious, but somehow I can’t picture German–or northern Ohio cooks having a lot of lemons around in the winter time when they were using up their cabbage. Likewise with the called-for white raisins. I used currants.
My husband turned up his nose when he heard I was making German cabbage for dinner, but lo and behold, he took one bite and pronounced it good! Hope yours will be as successful.
A favorite flavor for German recipes--sweet and sour--with a favorite German vegetable--cabbage.
1 head of savoy cabbage
1 onion (minced)
3 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups vegetable stock (Cooking liquid from the cabbage--see directions)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 pinch cloves
1/2 cup currants (Or use raisins. Original recipe calls for white(golden) raisins.)
salt and pepper (to taste)
Cut cabbage in quarters, and remove tough outer leaves, hard core and any tough stems.
Bring to boil 4 cups water with a little salt, add cabbage and any loose leaves, reduce to fast simmer and cook for ten minutes.
Remove cabbage from pot and drain, reserving liquid.
Chop by hand or in food processor and drain again. Set aside
Melt butter in two-quart pan. Add onion and saute, stirring until onion turns brown.
Sprinkle in flour and continue stiring and sauteing until flour becomes a rich brown. Keep the heat low so it will not burn.
Stir in the two cups of cooking liquid from the cabbage and stir with whisk to keep it smooth as it thickens slightly.
Add vinegar, brown sugar, and cloves and simmer five minutes, stirring frequently.
Add cabbage back to pan, stir in raisins or currants and stir to combine with sauce and continue cooking slowly for ten more minutes. Taste and add more sugar or vinegar or salt or pepper if you wish.
Serve with sausage or a salty ham. Roasted potatoes would make a good side dish and applesauce or cooked apples are also good as a side with cabbage.
As usual, I eliminated the onion in this recipe and thought that it was plenty tasty.
The sauce will not be thick, but smooth and satiny
Although I used the milder Savoy cabbage, the sauce will match up with any variety of cabbage.
I used the time when the cabbage was cooking to measure each ingredient for the sauce into small dishes, so everything was ready. Once you start cooking the sauce, you need to pay attention to it, so it does not clump or stick to the bottom of the pan.
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JANUARY 2019: This post was originally written early in my experiments with bread, and I have since baked pumpernickel several times, and have added some techniques that I believe improves on the recipe I adapted from Smitten Kitchen, so I have deleted some of the description of my previous problems and gone straight to the new recipe.
Mmmmm, what represents our grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s culinary skills more than baking bread? The house fills with a yeasty smell. The family gobbles down the warm, soft pieces of heaven. For our ancestors in aprons it was not an “artisan” event–baking bread was just one of those chores that came around every week.
And for my German ancestors, if they had a bit of rye in their fields–or their neighbors did–they would certainly be making rye bread. And probably the queen of rye breads–dark, dense, sweet and fruity Pumpernickel.
There are two kinds of German Pumpernickel–the kind with yeast and the kind without. The kind without we’ll try another day, but this week I’ve been making pumpernickel. And my foray into replicating my ancestors in aprons made me wonder about something I had never thought about before. What did Great-Grandmother do with her mistakes? Surely not everything that came out of a wood-fired stove or a fireplace was a guaranteed success.
The 2018 version of the bread turned out beautifully, following bread-making tips from KIng Arthur’s Flour. (See photo at top of column.)
The First Attempt
Well, the bread I made the first time I tried was absolutely delicious, particularly with a little of that Ohio Smucker’s apple butter smeared on top.
Dark Pumpernickel bread slices with Smucker’s apple butter.
Delicious? Yes. But pull the camera back a bit…
Pumpernickel bread–the whole story.
What is that blob in the background? Sorry to burst your bubble–but that is what the loaf of pumpernickel bread looked like. I had not conquered the slash on the top technique.
What’s in a Name?
Now, it is absolutely no excuse if I explain to you the root of the name Pumpernickel. Believe it or not pumpernickel was named for the effect that some foods have on the digestive system making you—-well, in polite company we would say, “break wind.” This comes about because of people who looked down on the rough rye bread made by the Westphalians in what is now Germany, saying it , uh, caused flatulence. And the Nickel has been explained as a reference to Old Nick–the Devil. So (cover your ears if you’re sensitive)–doesn’t my bread look like it has been blown apart by the Devil’s fart?
The Newest Attempt at Pumpernickel
By the way, you may notice that the bread from the newest recipe (FIrst picture) is darker and shinier than the pictures below (which was the first attempt). That’s because I painted the top with a egg mixed with water before baking. The darkness in pumpernickel comes from adding cocoa powder. It works great. Some people kick it up a notch by also adding coffee or instant coffee granules.
I’m sharing the recipe, enhanced in 2018 with additional specific directions that should help you succeed with pumpernickel–experienced baker or not.
Pumpernickel Bread is moist and dense. To get the dark color you love, add some cocoa powder.
2 cups water (warm--not hot (105-110 degrees))
2 2/3 teaspoons active dry yeast ((2 packets) (If you use Instant yeast--see instructions below))
3 1/4 cups white bread flour
1 1/3 cup rye flour
1/2 cup corn meal
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 or 2 tablespoon caraway seeds
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons molasses
Warm the water in a pan or microwave until warm but not hot (105-110 degrees). Whisk in yeast and pinch of sugar. Set aside for five minutes.
While the yeast is getting high on its sugar treat, combine the flours (using 2 1/2 C of the white flour), corn meal, salt, cocoa powder, caraway seeds and brown sugar in large bowl. Whisk them together, then stir in the yeast mixture, vegetable oil and molasses, by hand, or using the dough hook on a mixer. Add more of the rye flour as needed to get the dough to the point where it pulls away from the bowl.
Turn out on lightly floured board and knead for 5-10 minutes until elastic and no longer sticking to the board.
Lightly oil another large bowl. Put the dough in the bowl, turn it to get oil on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and set aside in a draft-free spot to rise for one hour--or until about double in size.
Punch down gently and let rise another 30 minutes.
Lightly grease a cookie sheet or two 9" square baking pans. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper. Divide dough in half and form two balls. Pinch together the underside seam. place on pans. Cover and let rise another 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Make slashes in top of bread and brush with one egg mixed with 1 tsp water. Sprinkle Caraway seeds on top.
Put shallow pan (like broiler pan) on bottom rack of oven. When bread goes in oven, immediately pour 2-3 cups of hot water into pan and quickly shut door of oven.
Bake bread for 30-40 minutes until hollow sounding when tapped (190 degrees on thermometer).
Transfer hot loaves to a wire rack and let cool before slicing.
To serve slice as thin as possible. This is a heavy bread, so thin slices are best.
The oil is listed before the molasses for a reason. If you measure the oil first, then use the same spoon to use the molasses, the molasses will not stick to the spoon. (The downside is you don't get to scoop it out with your finger and lick your finger--not that I would do that.)
Some recipes double up on the darkness factor by adding a couple of teaspoons of powdered instant coffee.
Pros use some moisture in the oven for the first 5-10 minutes of baking. Put a shallow pan of water on a shelf below the bread or spritz the oven with water a couple of times after it is warmed.