We’re All German When Visiting Cincinnati’s Over the Rhine Neighborhood

I watch as my friend’s inner German, never far from the surface, kicks into high gear as we step into Ǖber’m Rhein (Over the Rhine), a historic neighborhood once separated from downtown Cincinnati by the Miami and Erie canal. The Germans who settled here starting in the 1830s, nicknamed the waterway the Rhine and when the crossed the bridges to get to what was called Little Germany, it the neighborhood became known as Over the Rhine.

Looking at the broad tree lined streets fronting over ornate brick buildings many more than a century old, he sees it as it was – a bustling area with several daily German language newspapers and where German was the language at home and on the streets. I see it as it is now — trendy shops, art galleries and studios, businesses and restaurants housed in the largest collection of Italianate architecture in the U.S.

While he marvels at the exteriors with their brightly painted and elaborately worked scrolls and cornices, I poke inside the shops located below. At The Little Mahatma Shop, I take in the sweetly pungent smell of burning incense and gleaming silver and gold, shimmers of colorful beads and stretches of beautifully embroidered materials fashioned into folk art from around the globe.

  Window shopping, I longingly look at the urban style furnishings and accent pieces at Joseph Williams Home and wonder if I can possibly fit into the black dress in the window at Mannequin, a high end vintage and designer boutique whose proceeds benefit empowering charities in the Cincinnati area. Remembering what I ate the night before I decide not. And instead peruse the works of local and regional artists at MiCA 12/v, a family owned independent design store/fine craft gallery/gift boutique  before wandering into Atomic Number Ten, where I admire their vintage home goods and fashion finds from 50s to 90s.

We stroll through the 8-acre Washington Park, its interactive water park, children’s playground, performance stage and dog park, is fronted by the 1878 High Victorian Gothic Revival style Music Hall, a grand pile (almost 4 million of them) of red pressed bricks molded into2 ½-acres of turrets, garrets and gables.

For rejuvenation I order tea and a vegan-friendly treat at Iris Book Café.

At Taste of Belgium, we order sweet and dense Liege waffles thick enough to be eaten like donuts and paper thin Nati crepes filled with roasted peppers, onions, Provolone cheese and goetta.  The latter is totally Cincinnati – a German concoction of pork, oats and spices so popular that there’s even an annual Goettafest.

Not far beyond is the bustling Findlay Market, a swarm of indoor and outdoor food vendors.  When the market first opened in 1855, Eckerlin Meats was one of many catering to German tastes. Now there’s Vietnamese baguette sandwiches at Pho Lang Thang and handcrafted seasonal gelatos at Dojo Gelato. But to my friend’s delight, Eckerlin remains as well, still selling sausages, meats, cheese and, of course, goetta that is made from a hundred year plus old family recipe. It must be good as they sell 300 to 500 pounds of it a week. We’ll find out soon enough when I cook it up at home.

German Sweets for the Holidays and Beyond

          Though right now I can’t even travel to Chicago to do some holiday shopping because of the pandemic, I did manage a trip to Southwest German to visit several of their beautiful Christkindlesmarkt (Christmas Markets) and take a holiday cookie making class.

          Well, kind of. The trip was a virtual cooking class and I’ve been doing a lot of those lately. It is, of course, nowhere close to being there but still when you get to the point where going to the grocery store becomes a big adventure, it’s really a great way to explore—and plan for the time when we might be able to journey again.

          And even though the holiday is long past, making the cookies and thinking of the beauty of the Christkindlesmarkts is a fine thing to do in gloomy February when all the excitement leading up to Christmas is long past and winter seems forever.

          Southwest Germany is comprised for the most part of the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg and is bordered on the west by France, Switzerland to the south, Bavaria to the east and Hesse to the north. It encompasses the Black Forest, large cities like Heidelberg, Baden-Baden and Stuttgart and a plethora of towns and villages that are so neatly kept and so very beautiful like Schwetzingen where there’s the Schwetzingen Palace & Gardens and Wiblingen, the home to an 11th century abbey. One thing you quickly realize about Germany is that almost every village no matter how small has a castle. And abbeys and monasteries dating back a millennium are common. New to them is anything built less than 400 years ago.

          Before COVID-19, late November and December is the time for the fantastic Christmas markets that have been part of the German holiday season since the 1300s. But of course, this is the age of COVID-19, so not only is my cooking class virtual but so are my visits to the Christmas markets. One plus, I save a lot of money by not being able to actually shop.

          Wendy Jo Peterson who, between military moves and following her husband’s career around the world, racked up a lot of miles working with children and adults across the spectrum from populations with special needs to elite athletes. Culinary nutrition and reaching optimal wellness through the foods we eat is one of her main drivers and she’s clocked in a lot of hours teaching, at hospital, working a computer and presenting the latest in nutritional science. When she lived in Stuttgart, Peterson immersed herself in cooking traditions and techniques and is bringing all that to our virtual classroom.

          We can either cook along with Peterson or just watch and I’ve decided I want to cook along with.

          To save time, Peterson has prepared her dough ahead of the class and so did those of us who are going to be cooking with her. Our first cookie is a yeast dough shaped into the form of the little tan man, known  In North Baden and the Electoral Palatinate, as Dambedei, in South Baden as Grätti or Baselmann and in other regions as Weck or Klausenmann. I hope I’m not going to be quizzed on the names of the cookies because I just won’t be able to do it.

But no matter the name, Dambedei’s instantly recognizable to children—and adults—because of his characteristic appearances. All little tan men have a pointed head, raisin eyes, almond mouth and a button jacket made of nuts.

Dambedei’s origins go back to when people were excluded for whatever reason from worshipping in the church on Bishop Nikolaus von Myra’s remembrance day. Instead the blessed bread is served to them in the shape of a man.

“The other cookies we’ll be making are Spitzbuben, also known as Hildabrötchen which are named after the Grand Duchess Hilda von Nassau, the last Grand Duchess of Baden,” says Peterson. “Supposedly, the popular Grand Duchess enjoyed eating Hilda rolls and often baked them herself. She was buried at the side of her husband, Grand Duke Friedrich II in the grand ducal grave chapel in Karlsruhe. Her ornate coffin can be viewed there.”

We’re also will make Hutzelbrot. If we were in Germany, we’d use dried Hutzel pears but alas I’ll be using  the dried pears sold in the grocery store. The term hutzelig in Swabia translates into wrinkled and that also describes the fruit. As for Swabia, it’s a historic region in southwest Germany. Someone a long time ago told me a Swabian joke. It isn’t very funny but it’s the only one I’ve ever heard. I tell it to the class, but they don’t think it’s funny at all.


We also have recipes for Springerle and Lebkuchen so if I do all the cooking, I’ll have a great assortment of German cookies.

Spitzbuben or Hildabrötchen

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup of cold butter, cut into small pieces

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 1/3 cups of flour

½ cup of raspberry jam for the center

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Cream together sugar and butter. Add vanilla extract and egg until combined. Add flour to form a dough. Shape the dough into a ball and wrap or cover well and put in the fridge for about an hour. Preheat the oven to 325° F.

Roll out the dough very thinly and cut into circles. Then cut out the shape you like in every other cookie. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden. Cool. Heat the jam, spread over the cookies without  cutouts, then place the cutout half on top of the cookie with the jam. Dust with powdered sugar.


4 eggs

2 ¼ cups powdered sugar

2 ¼ cup white wheat flour

1 tablespoon of whole anise seed or, if you want, substitute with gingerbread, cardamom, or ginger

Lightly toast the anise beforehand in a pan and then mix it into the batter. This treatment dissolves the essential oils and unfolds its full taste.

All ingredients are placed in a warm room for several hours before starting.

Beat the eggs until frothy, then add the sifted powdered sugar and the tablespoon of anise seed.

Stir this mixture in the food processor for at least 10 minutes.

Then stir in the sifted flour, one tablespoon at a time.

The dough is now a bit soft and needs to rest to have time to shape.

Put the dough in a bowl with a tightly fitting lid and covered with cling wrap, leave to rest in the refrigerator for at least 12-24 hours.

When you are ready to make the cookies, you cut off a small portion of the dough and immediately cover the rest of the dough again, otherwise it will dry out.

Roll out the dough on the floured baking board 8-10 mm thick. Press the Springerle mold into the lightly powdered dough and cut out the springerle with a dough scraper, pastry wheel or a cookie cutter.

Place the springerle on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil and leave to dry for 24 hours in a warm place.

Preheat the oven to 285 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the Springerle for approx. 15-18 minutes.

After baking, let the springerle cool, remove from the aluminum foil and store in a cardboard box in a damp place.


2/3 cup each of dried pears plums and figs

¼ cup dried apricots

½ cup raisins

1 1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts or chopped almonds

1 tablespoons anise seeds

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 cups rye flour

1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

5 teaspoons baking powder

6 eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

2 to 4 teaspoons of vanilla

Soak the dried plums, pears, and figs in water overnight or 8 to12 hours. Drain the fruit and roughly chop it. Finely dice the dried apricots. Put all the fruit with raisins, hazelnuts and almonds in a bowl, season with aniseed, cinnamon and cloves, drizzle with lemon juice and mix well.

Mix the flours with baking powder. Beat the eggs with the sugar until frothy. Add the vanilla extract and the fruit and nut mixture. Finally, gradually knead in the flour mixture and knead the mixture well.

Shape the dough into two loaves of bread. Place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 70-80 minutes. After baking, let cool on a wire rack.


1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

Ground lemon peel

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons honey

1 packet (2 ¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tbsp canola oil

1 egg yolk


Mix wheat flour with lemon zest in a bowl. Warm the milk slightly, add honey and fresh yeast and stir. Add vanilla to the milk and add, along with the canola oil to the flour and mix to form a soft dough, about 5 minutes. Let the dough rise to double its volume in a warm place, knead again by hand and roll out to1/3 of an inch thick.

Cut out 4 Dambedeis each eight inches long, place on two baking sheets lined with baking paper and brush with the egg yolk. Press the golden raisins into the dough as eyes and jacket buttons. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 12 minutes at 395° Fahrenheit.


If I get the chance I want to follow the Lebkuchen trail that runs through the Black Forest. Until then, I’ll have to settle for making them at home.  

¾ cup honey

2 cups cane sugar

1 cup orange candied peel

¾ cup lemon candied peel

2/3 cup raisins

1 cup + 2 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts

5 cups whole meal rye flour

2 ½ cups whole meal spelt flour (can substitute whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons of baking soda

4 to 5 teaspoons gingerbread spice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cloves (ground)

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

4 large eggs

6 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon butter

Juice and zest of an organic lemon

For painting: 2 egg yolks,  3 tbsp milk

For decorating and cutting: whole peeled almonds and cookie cutters

The day before, heat the honey and cane sugar in a saucepan while stirring. Finely chop the orange peel, lemon peel, raisins, and hazelnuts.

Mix rye and whole meal spelt flour, baking soda, gingerbread spice, cinnamon, ground cloves, cocoa powder and the finely chopped orange peel, lemon peel, raisins, and finely chopped hazelnuts in a bowl. Knead the heated honey with cane sugar, softened butter, lemon zest, juice, and eggs with the flour mixture until it is a very firm, brown dough.

Shape the dough into an elongated roll and let rest in a cold room overnight, in an airtight container.

Preheat the oven to 320° F and line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Knead the dough well, roll it out on a floured work surface to approximately ¼-inch thick, cut out the gingerbread and place on the prepared baking sheet.

Mix the egg yolk and milk, brush the gingerbread cookies with the egg yolk and milk mixture, decorate with an almond and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes.

 Place the baked gingerbread cookies on a wire rack to cool, then store in a tin or container. The longer they are stored, for approximately one to two weeks, the better they are.

Midwest Made: Honeyed Raspberry and White Chocolate Cream Pie

After more than a decade of living in California, Shauna Sever resettled with her family in her home state of Illinois and rediscovered the storied, simple pleasures of home baking in her Midwestern kitchen, developing what she calls the 5 tenets of Midwest baking: Bake Big, Bake Easy, Bake with Purpose, Bake from the Past, and Bake in the Present. You may have seen Shauna discussing these tenets and sharing some of her favorite Midwest foods recently on CBS This Morning: Saturday.

As she’ll tell you: “From the Dakotas to Ohio, from Minnesota to Missouri, the Midwest is a veritable quilt of twelve states full of history, values, recipes, people, and places that make up the baking culture of the Heartland.” And with MIDWEST MADE, Sever offers bold recipes for treats we’ve come to know as all-American—from Bundt cakes to brownies—most traced to German, Scandinavian, Irish, Polish, French, Arab, and Italian immigrant families that came to call the American Midwest their home. Recipes include             Swedish Flop, Polish Paczki, Danish Kringle, German Lebkuchen, Candy Bar Baklava, Ozark Skillet Cake, Cleveland-Style Cassata Cake, Nebraskan Runzas, Apricot and Orange Blossom Kolacky, Dark-Chocolate Pecan Mandelbrot, Marshmallow Haystacks and so much more…

Here’s one that you’ll be sure to love.

Honeyed Raspberry and White Chocolate Cream Pie
Serves 8 to 10
From the outset, this pie appears to be one of those floaty, feminine food things, because it’s just so dang pretty. However! The fluff factor here—a cloud of white chocolate cream, bolstered by cream cheese—is quickly tempered by the thick raspberry layer beneath it, sharp and nubbly with all those nutty little berry seeds, which I happen to love. The mix of cooked and raw berries help to intensify the raspberry flavor, making you wonder: why there aren’t more raspberry pies out there, anyway?

Midwest Made by Shauna Sever.

2 ounces/57 g high-quality white chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
1 single batch My Favorite Pie Crust (see recipe at bottom), blind baked and cooled
2/3 cup/132 g granulated sugar
1/4 cup/32 g cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup/225 g lukewarm water
3 tablespoons/63 g honey
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 cups/500 g fresh raspberries, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup/240 g heavy whipping cream, very cold
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
4 ounces/113 g full-fat cream cheese
4 ounces/113 g high-quality white chocolate, melted and cooled

Prepare the crust: Combine the white chocolate and cream in a small, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave with 20-second bursts on medium, stirring until smooth. Spread evenly over the bottom of the cooled crust. Allow to set at room temperature.

In a 3- to 4-quart/2.8 to 3.75 L saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt until lumpfree.
Whisk in the lukewarm water, honey, and lemon juice. Add 2 cups/250 g of the raspberries. Cover and set the pan over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once the berries begin to break down and the mixture is slowly bubbling all over the surface like lava, cook for 2 timed minutes, stirring often. Stir in the butter. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool completely, about 1 hour.

Prepare the topping: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream with the vanilla and almond extract until stiff peaks form. Transfer the whipped cream to a clean bowl. Swap out the whisk attachment for the paddle. Add the cream cheese and melted white chocolate to the mixer bowl (no need to clean it). Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Gently stir about a third of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture to lighten it, then carefully fold in the remaining whipped cream.

Assemble the pie: Scatter 1 cup of the remaining berries over the bottom of the crust. Spoon the raspberry filling over them, then add the remaining berries on top. Pipe or dollop the white chocolate cream topping over the pie, leaving a 1-inch/2.5 cm border of the ruby red filling all around the edges. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours to set. Let soften at room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving.

My Favorite Pie Crust
Pie crust purists will likely object, but I’m a big believer in using a food processor for pie crust making. If you don’t overdo it, it just doesn’t get any easier or faster.

We’ve all heard a thousand times that keeping the fat as cold as possible is the key to great pie crusts, and that’s certainly a great tip. But I add a few pinches and splashes that I consider insurance, for when the kitchen is hot or I’m distracted by any number of children or things.
Vinegar is great for tenderness: I like red wine vinegar, but cider vinegar is good, too. A little pinch of baking powder makes a flakier crust a little more foolproof in case you happen to overwork the dough (happens to the best of us). For a crust with a savory filling, I include the smaller amounts of sugar as listed here for flavor and browning. For sweet pies, use 1 or 2 tablespoons, as you like.

MAKES: 1 (9- or 10-inch/23 or 25 cm) round bottom pie or tart crust
11/3 cups/170 g unbleached all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (see headnote)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup/113 g very cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 cup/57 g ice water
11/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
SPECIAL NOTES > Pat the finished dough into a round disk before wrapping and chilling to make rolling it into a circle later much easier.


MAKES: 1 (9- or 10-inch/23 or 25 cm) round double-crusted or lattice-topped pie
22/3 cups/340 g unbleached all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
2 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (see headnote)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup/225 g very cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup/113 g ice water
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
SPECIAL NOTES > Divide the dough in half before shaping and wrapping. For a lattice top, make one disk slightly larger for the bottom crust.

MAKES: 1 (10 x 15-inch/30 x 43 cm) slab pie
51/3 cups/680 g unbleached all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
4 teaspoons to 4 tablespoons granulated sugar (see headnote)
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups/453 g very cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup/225 g ice water
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

SPECIAL NOTES: Make the dough in 2 batches (2 recipes of the doubled recipe, left), for the top and bottom crusts. Shape and wrap each batch separately.

METHOD: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Pulse a few times to blend. Sprinkle half of the butter pieces over the dry ingredients. Process until the mixture resembles cornmeal, about 15 seconds. Add the remaining cold butter and pulse about 10 times, until this batch of butter cubes is broken down by about half.

In a measuring cup, combine the water and vinegar. Add about three quarters of the liquid to the bowl. Pulse about 10 times, or until the dough begins to form a few small clumps. Test the dough by squeezing a small amount in the palm of your hand. If it easily holds together and your palm isn’t dusty with floury bits, it’s done. If not, add an additional 1/2 tablespoon of vinegared water and pulse 2 or 3 more times. Repeat this process as needed just until the dough holds together. Turn out the mixture onto a work surface. With a few quick kneads, gather the dough into a mass.

For a single crust, pat the dough into a disk, wrapping tightly in plastic wrap. For double crust, divide the dough in half and shape into disks. For 2 slab crusts, shape each half of the dough into a 5 x 8-inch/12.5 x 20 cm rectangle. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before rolling.
TIP > The dough will keep tightly wrapped in the fridge for up to a week, and in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Reprinted with permission from MIDWEST MADE © 2019 by Shauna Sever, Running Press.

German Dishes My Grandma Would Have Taught Me

            Growing up, a number of my friends had omas and opas (German grandmothers and grandfathers) and though my paternal grandmother was eligible to be an oma, after all she had married my very German grandfather, once he died, she dropped all oma-pretentions.

            The mother of six, she grew a garden and raised das kaninchen or rabbits in the backyard of their big city house. The rabbits always mysteriously ran away the very day the family had rabbit for dinner, something my aunts and uncles figured out as they grew older. Dinner, my mother said, was always at 5 p.m., the time my grandfather returned home from his job as a civil engineer where he designed big equipment for making tankers. My grandfather sat down to eat, not at 4:59 p.m. or 5:01 p.m. Dinner was at 5 and that’s when he sat down and she put the food in front of him He fulfilled the typical German stereotype for rigidity.

            All this is probably the reason why my grandmother never fulfilled the typical role of oma after her children were grown and my grandfather had died. Instead of cooking Sunday dinners for all the grandkids (and there were a ton of us) my grandmother went on cruises and she took up smoking and beer something I learned when I walked into her living room one day and discovered her with a can of beer and a lit cigarette. And she was 85!

When I ran next door (she had moved from the big house with two floors and large backyard–you know the one where all the rabbits were able to escape from after grandfather died next door to where our family lived) to tell my mom the audacious news.

My mother just shrugged. “Your grandfather was very strict,” she said. “She’s just enjoying things she never got to do.”

            I had a Romanian grandmother who could have been an oma, but she was instead a bunicuta (think booncutah when trying to pronounce it) who taught me how to cook. But it was all Romanian food, not German.

            So when I came across “Just Like Oma’s,” Gerhil Fulson’s website about German cookery and her cookbook German Meals at Oma’s: Traditional Dishes for the Home, it seemed like the perfect way to learn to cook the dishes that my oma would have if my grandmother was a real oma not one waiting to board a cruise ship to take another trip.

            Fulson’s cookbook is divided into regions of Germany and I’ve included recipes from Baden-Wurttemberg where krustenbraten or roast pig is a popular dish, Schleswig-Holstein for Gestovte Kartoffeln (creamed potatoes) and Bayern for Krautflecken mit Speck–cabbage, noodles and bacon. The book also has Fulson’s takes on each of recipes, photos of all the recipes and Oma’s Ecke or Grandma’s Corner where she shares tips on cooking each dish.

            These are the dishes my Grandmother Briska would have taught me to make if she hadn’t traded in cooking for a different golden years’ life.

Krautflecken mit Speck

(Cabbage, Noodles and Bacon)

For some people, including me, combining cabbage and noodles may seem strange. However, mix in some onion, butter, seasonings and perhaps some bacon, and that strange combination becomes a wonderful meal. Smoked sausage is a natural accompaniment for this.

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups diced onions

3 ounces lean bacon, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

2 pounds green cabbage, coarsely shredded

1 cup beef or vegetable broth, plus more as needed

8-ounce package wide egg noodles

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed

1 to 2 tablespoons pure white vinegar, optional

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon fat is rendered and the onions
are translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cabbage. Sauté for about
5 minutes, letting some of the cabbage brown. Stir in the broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the saucepan and simmer for 25 minutes. Check occasionally to make sure that the liquid has not evaporated, adding extra broth or water if needed.

While the cabbage is cooking, prepare the egg noodles in a medium saucepan according to the package instructions, until just tender. Drain the noodles, cover the saucepan and set it aside.

When the cabbage is tender, add the caraway seeds and season the cabbage with salt and pepper. Stir in the vinegar (if using). Add the noodles and gently stir the mixture together.

Serve garnished with the parsley.

Oma’s Ecke

Originally, this was considered arme-leute-essen (poor people’s food) —a simple dish that was inexpensive and super simple to make. You can elevate this dish to an elegant status by mixing in 1 cup of full-fat sour cream just before the noodles are stirred into the cabbage mixture.

The recipe as written is all that is needed for a nice light lunch. However, there are many variations you can make. Use savoy cabbage for a milder flavor. Add diced ham and grated cheese to make this a more substantial meal. Include marjoram as a seasoning. Garnish with caramelized onion rings. Add some diced tomatoes. Toss in some smoked sausage. So many variations are possible.

Gestovte Kartoffeln

(Creamed Potatoes)

Serves 4

For the Schleswig-Holsteiners, gestovte implies a sauce made with butter and flour. This recipe, however, uses cream—and not just plain cream, but heavy cream! There’s no need for flour to thicken the potatoes, since they provide their own starch, making this a really easy dish to prepare. It’s a perfect accompaniment for a simple meal of sausage, hamburgers or schnitzel. Actually, it’s perfect for any meat that doesn’t have gravy, since the cream in this one is rich enough.

13⁄4 pounds red or Yukon gold potatoes

11⁄4 cups heavy cream

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or chives

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed

Freshly grated nutmeg, optional

Put the potatoes in a large saucepan, cover them with water and bring them to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the saucepan and simmer until the potatoes are just tender, 25 to 30 minutes, depending on their size. Do not overcook the potatoes. Drain and cool the potatoes slightly under cold running water.

Once they are just cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes and cut them into 1⁄2-inch thick slices. Put the slices into the saucepan and add the cream. Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring the cream to a simmer, stirring gently to keep it from settling on the bottom and burning. While you’re stirring, the starch from the potatoes is released and mixes with the cream, making a wonderfully creamy sauce. This will take about 10 to 15 minutes. Once the sauce is thick enough, remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the chopped parsley.

Season the potatoes with salt and pepper and nutmeg (if using). Pour the potatoes into a serving dish and serve.

Oma’s Ecke

It’s important that you do not use starchy potatoes, such as russets. They’ll fall apart during the cooking process and you will end up with mashed potatoes. That’s not the texture you want here.


(Roast Pork)

There are several ways to achieve crackling on a pork roast, but I find this one the easiest. It yields perfectly crisp crackling gracing the top of each slice of this wonderfully moist roast accompanied by a savory gravy. Best of all, this is actually quite a simple method for an extraordinary meal. Another name for this is schweinsbraten, simply meaning “pork roast,” but the krustenbraten is more descriptive with the crispy kruste, or crust, that really is one of the reasons this dish is so loved.

Precooking the rind in the liquid for the first hour makes the rind soft and easy to cut through. When it’s cut parallel to the grain and then in the opposite direction, it provides an easy guide for cutting the slices once it’s roasted. Each piece ends up with a row of crispy crackling

2 large carrots, thickly sliced

1 large leek, thickly sliced

2 large onions, thickly sliced

1 clove garlic, crushed

3 cups hot beef broth, plus more as needed

3 pounds boneless pork shoulder with rind/fat cap (see Oma’s Ecke)

1 tablespoon oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed

2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with

2 tablespoons cold water

2 tablespoons sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Put the carrots, leek, onions and garlic in a 9 x 13–inch roasting pan. Pour the broth into the roasting pan and stir to mix in the garlic. Rub the pork shoulder with the oil and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Place it in the roasting pan rind-side down so that the rind is submerged in the broth. Roast in the oven for 1 hour.

Remove the roast from the oven and reduce the heat to 325°F. Using
a sharp knife, score through the rind (being careful not to cut into the meat) in 1-inch wide strips, in both directions. Place the meat, rind-side up, in the roasting pan so that the rind is not submerged in the liquid. Sprinkle the rind with additional salt and roast for 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the meat is at least 160°F, adding water as needed to keep the veggies from burning. If the rind is not crispy after this time, raise the temperature to 450°F and roast for about 10 minutes. If needed, put it under the broiler to speed up the crisping, watching carefully that it does not burn.

Remove the pork shoulder from the roasting pan and set it aside to rest. Strain the cooking liquid into a small saucepan, pressing out as much liquid as possible from the veggies. Use a gravy separator if you wish to remove the fat. Add extra beef broth or water to make 2 cups of liquid. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and thicken with just enough cornstarch slurry to make a gravy. Cook for about 2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the sour cream. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the roast pork, sliced, with the gravy on the side.

Oma’s Ecke

The roasting time at 325°F is really dependent on the shape
of the roast. A short and fat roast will take a bit longer than a long and skinny one. Also, every oven is different and may not be showing the proper temperature. That’s why it’s always important to check the internal temperature to make sure the roast is properly cooked.

Jane Ammeson can be contacted via email at janeammeson@gmail.com or by writing to Focus, The Herald Palladium, P.O. Box 128, St. Joseph, MI 49085.