Tired of cooking the same handful of meals each week, I enrolled on an international cookery course.
The course may have ended, but it's just whetted my appetite....

Join me on a weekly visit to the cuisines of the world, countries from A to Z, and back again!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

A is for AUSTRIA

Where we're going this evening - AUSTRIA

First up, we're travelling to Austria in the heart of Europe, home of the Von Trapp family, Arnold Schwarzernegger, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and birthplace of ...er... Adolf Hitler.

Austria has a rich cultural heritage, has played a central part in European politics in the 20th Century (not just the Hitler thing) and produced some very fine food indeed - which is where we come in!

Tonight's Menu...

Weiner Schnitzel is a breaded escallope of veal or pork, and it is often served with boiled buttered potatoes and cucumber salad.  Sachatore is a rich chocolate cake originating from (barring disputes) the Hotel Sacher in Vienna.

Weiner Schnitzelrecipe is from the About Vienna website (with other research from other websites)

Place your veal or pork escalopes between cling film and flatten slightly with a rolling pin (note: slightly - we're not making pancakes here), then dust with flour (note: I used half and half polenta - I think I read that this would give a crunchier finish, although I might have made this up), dip in egg, and coat in breadcrumbs with some chopped parsley (note: give the flour or breadcrumbs some decent seasoning)

Heat plenty of oil in a large pan, wait till the oil shimmers slightly, the slide in the escallope and fry until golden brown.

Boiled Buttered Potatoes

Peel or scrub some small new potatoes, steam or boil until tender, toss in a little melted butter, garnish with chopped parsley.

Cucumber Salad - recipe is from the Fairway website (with research from other websites)

Take thinly sliced cucumber, sprinkle with a little salt and set aside in a seive for half an hour, then rinse and mix with thinly sliced & separated rings of a red onion.  Dissolve a little sugar in some white wine vinegar (note: I used white balsamic), pour over the cucumber/onion, toss and set aside to marinade in the fridge.  Garnish with chopped dill.

Sachatorte - recipe is from Celtnet recipes

Make the cake by creaming butter and sugar, beating in egg yolks and stirring in cooled melted chocolate.  Fold in sieved flour & baking powder.  Whisk egg whites with sugar & fold into the chocolate mixture.  Turn into a springform cake tin & bake.

Make glaze by simmering apricot conserve, lemon juice & a little water, then sieve and brush over the top and sides of the cooled cake.

For the icing, add cream & syrup to a pan and scald.  Pour over melted chocolate & mix until smooth & glossy.  Pour the icing over the cake & smooth over evenly.

The Result

And what have we learnt?

  • that this round the world thing is a GREAT IDEA!
  • that breadcrumbing and frying stuff does not have to be (a) so scary as you might burn the house down or (b) so full of calories that you will blow up to the size of a barn with immediate effect; 
  • not to sneer at weird pickled bits of stuff - the cucumber and onion salad is a perfectly acceptable vegetable accompaniment - with the added plus that served in this way, the red onion does not yield (for me) the customary heartburn
  • that continental cakes are rich and dense, but are rescued the creamy rich chocolate covering

And out of 10?

  • for the Weiner Schnitzel - a successful 9/10 - will definitely be breadcrumbing and frying again
  • for the  Potato - a brilliant 9/10 - can't fail with homegrown potatoes, just need to be careful not to overcook
  • for the Cucumber Salad - a surprise hit of 8/10 - crunchy, sweet and sharp all at the same time, could serve with a green salad next time
  • for the Sachertorte - a slightly disappointing 6/10 - it's far more of a faff than a traditional chocolate sponge, and rather more dense, so a bit hard going.  The icing's lovely though.