A Typical German Meal – Authentic Recipes

Rouladen, Spätzle, Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage, Cucumber Dill Salad = the fixin’s for a typical German meal that is special enough for any celebration.

a typical German meal, Rouladen, Spaetzle, Rotkoh, Gurkensalad

photo courtesy of Valerie Lugonja

As you can guess, I spend a lot of time in my kitchen. I am happy there – buzzing around, testing and re-testing recipes for this blog and to feed my family. But when I get to play in the kitchen with a friend or two, I enjoy it even more.

Last week I spent an afternoon in the kitchen with Valerie Lugonja from the blog A Canadian Foodie. What a fun day – a grown-up play date!

Valerie, a creative force on the Alberta food scene, has started up a new project, called Cooking in the Kitchen with YOU, in which she invites local cooks, chefs, and food bloggers to come into her kitchen and cook one of their favourite dishes with her. We had a fun-filled and very busy day cooking one of my family’s favourite meals. It’s become our tradition to eat Rouladen on Christmas Eve, and of course, these rich and savoury meat rolls need to be served with all the trimmings – Spätzle, Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage, and a crunchy Cucumber Dill Salad.

Fleisch Rouladen for a typical German meal

photo courtesy of Valerie Lugonja

Head on over to Valerie’s site for the story and my family’s recipes, with step-by-step photos of each of these lip-smacking German dishes.

Fleisch Rouladen – just a few simple ingredients to make these savoury rolls of beef stuffed with bacon, pickles, and onions.

Spätzle (pronounced shpets′-leh) – soft, slightly chewy little noodle dumplings – good with just butter, doused in gravy, or fried up with onions or cheese. (This recipe is not gluten free.)

Rotkohl – sweet and sour, tender braised red cabbage – a tasty and colourful side dish to Rouladen, sausages, or any robust meat.

Gurkensalat – a special technique removes most of the liquid from cucumbers, leaving them extra crispy. Dressed with a little dill, oil, and vinegar, they make a refreshing salad to lighten up any meal. Great for picnics and potlucks, too.

* * * * *

These dishes are all so tasty, and don’t need to be reserved for Christmas Eve (that’s just our own family’s tradition). Serve them at any time of the year. To make them extra special, serve them with a robust German red wine or one of the famous German beers.

RouladenSpätzle, and Rotkohl can all be made ahead and frozen (fully cooked). The Gurkensalat can be made hours ahead, so this meal is wonderful for entertaining. The recipe for Rouladen on my site has amounts for larger crowds – when making Rouladen I like to make a whole bunch at a time, cook them, and freeze them. There’s nothing like being able to pull a fantastic meal out of your freezer on a moment’s notice.

German food is full of rich and savoury flavours, (lots of stick-to-your-ribs cooking) and of course, some pretty amazing baking and delicacies, too.

Have fun in the Küche!

Guten Appetit!

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Rouladen, A Christmas Eve Tradition

Posted in German Cooking | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Big Batch Gluten Free Pie Crust Mix (Freeze it so Any Day’s a Pie Day)

Making gluten free pie crust can be a hassle, so while you’re at it, make a large batch for the freezer. You’ll love pulling out a bag of this tender, flaky crust mix and being able to whip up a pie, tart, or quiche quickly with no mess.

bags of gluten free pie crust mix and baked crust

What to do?

I love eating pie and quiche, but I hate making gluten free pie crust. It’s a pain to get out all the flours and fiddle with the lard and shortening. I can usually find ways to talk myself out of making pastry and we sadly go without the delicious pie I’ve been craving.

When you grow up in a big farm family, everything is prepared in huge batches. Raising our own four kids was no different – monster batches of food to feed the hungry hordes of teenagers and friends. So why didn’t I think of making my gluten free pie crust in large batches before? Duh . . .

Now that I’ve started making big-batch gluten-free pie crust mixes for the freezer, we can have pie any time the urge strikes. This crust turns out wonderfully tender and flaky every time. The dough is easy to work with, and because it contains a high ratio of whole grain flours (oat and sorghum), it adds a good dose of healthy fiber to a dessert or quiche. (I’m good at justifying.)

To make the big batch, I just pull out four mixing bowls and since I’ve got the bags of flours and ingredients out anyway, it doesn’t take much more time to multiply everything by four.

4 bowls gluten free pie crust mix

I add the cubed lard and butter, then mix it to coarse lumps with a pastry blender.

cubed butter and lard for gluten free pie crust mix gluten free pie crust mix, cutting in the butter and lard

Then I freeze each batch in a ziptop freezer bag, labeled with the ingredients to add when mixing.

bowl and bags of gluten free pie crust mix

Each bag makes two crusts, either for a double crust pie, or if I only need a single crust I make the two discs of dough – use one and wrap the other one to keep in the fridge for up to two weeks for another pie.

one disc of gluten free pie crust dough

one disc of gluten free pie crust – see the little flecks of butter? those equal a flaky crust

Roll out the pie dough between two sheets of parchment paper. See this post for special tips and photos of how to mix and roll out a gluten free pie crust.

Carefully peel off the top sheet of paper, then invert the crust and bottom paper over the plate, carefully peel off the other layer of parchment and ease the crust down into the pie dish. Gluten free pie crust dough is very forgiving and you can patch any holes or thin spots with scraps of overhanging dough.

gluten free pie crust draped in pan

Trim off the edges.

trim off the overhanging edges of gluten free pie crust with a paring knife

Then fill the pie and roll out the other disc of dough to add the top crust. Or for a single crust pie, crimp the edges. I like to build up the height of the pie a bit by using the scraps to roll into thin ropes, then pressing the ropes onto the crust edge to form a ridge. I then crimp this raised ridge.

roll dough into thin ropes for edge crimping on gluten free pie crust rolled edge for crimping gluten free pie crust edge crimped gluten free pie crust

To prebake the pie crust before filling, prick it all over with a fork.

prick gluten free pie crust with fork before baking

Chill it for 30 minutes, then bake at 425°F for 10 to 12 minutes. This gluten free pie crust sticks to the pan so well it doesn’t need to be weighted down with pie weights or dried beans to bake like regular pie crust does.

So . . . . let’s get started.

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: To make up this gluten free pie crust mix, I like to use one tablespoon of vodka, as I think it makes a more tender crust, but you can easily leave it out and just use an extra tablespoon of water – change the directions to use 3-4 tablespoons water.

making a batch of gluten free pie crust mix

Quadruple Batch of Gluten Free Pie Crust Mix

In total you will need these ingredients to make four batches (which make 8 single crust pies or 4 double crust pies):

  • 4 cups (400gms) oat flour (you can whiz rolled oats in a blender to make flour)
  • 3 cups (400gms) sorghum flour
  • 2 cups (280gms) sweet rice flour
  • 2 cups (2400gms) tapioca flour/starch
  • 1 cup (160gms) potato starch (not flour)
  • 4 tablespoons sugar (helps the dough to brown)
  • 4 tablespoons (40gms) psyllium husk powder or 8 tablespoons (40gms) whole psyllium husks
  • 4 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 pound (454gms) cold lard
  • ½ pound (1 cup/228gms) cold butter

* * *

To make the four (or more) separate batches of gluten free pie crust mix, set out four (or more) mixing bowls (use pots if you don’t have enough bowls).

Into each separate bowl, measure:

  • 1 cup (100gms) oat flour (you can whiz rolled oats in a blender to make flour)
  • ¾ cup (100gms) sorghum flour
  • ½ cup (70gms) sweet rice flour
  • ½ cup (60gms) tapioca flour/starch
  • ¼ cup (40gms) potato starch (not flour)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (10gms) psyllium husk powder or 2 tablespoons whole psyllium husks
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Whisk these dry ingredients together in each bowl.

Then, into each bowl add:

  • ½ cup + 1 tablespoon (¼pound/114gms) cold lard (¼ of a 1-lb package of lard), diced
  • ¼ cup (57gms) cold butter, diced

Use a pastry blender or two butter knives to cut the lard and butter cubes into the flour until they become coarse, pea-sized lumps.

Transfer the contents of each mixing bowl into a separate freezer bag  on which you have labeled:

“Gluten Free Pie Crust Mix”


  • 1 egg 
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vodka or water
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons cold water

Mix just enough to combine. Divide into two flat discs. Roll out between 2 sheets of parchment paper.

Makes 2 crusts.

Freeze the bags of premixed Gluten Free Pie Crust for six to nine months. They mix up best when very cold but not solidly frozen, so allow to defrost at room temperature for 15 minute or defrost the mix in the refrigerator overnight. You can keep the bags of mix in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, if you don’t want to freeze them.

The dough can be mixed by hand or in the food processor.

Some batches of flour absorb more water than others, so if you’ve added the 3 tablespoons of water and your pastry dough still doesn’t come together, keep adding water about ½ a tablespoon at a time until the dough just comes together when you squeeze a handful. Knead a few more times until it forms a rough ball.

*To make the pie crust mix dairy-free use all lard, or use dairy-free margarine instead of butter.

*To make the pie crust mix egg-free, use a chia egg (1 tablespoon ground chia seeds soaked 5 minutes in 3 tablespoons water) instead of a regular egg, when preparing the crust.

Yield: Makes four batches of Gluten Free Pie Crust Mix, enough to make 8 single pie crusts or 4 double crust pies.

Guten Appetit!

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Posted in Pies & Tarts | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Green Soup (It’ll Lure the Leprechauns)

Bring spring into your home and clean out the crisper drawer at the same time with a bowl of light and tasty Green Soup – and maybe you’ll attract some leprechauns, too.

bowls of green soup with peas and yogurt for garnish

Every year when our kids were growing up, they’d set out their leprechaun bait on the evening before St. Patrick’s Day, hoping to receive a visit from those elusive little creatures. Each child would put a shoe on the front door mat and tuck a potato into it before they went to sleep, in hopes the leprechauns would come and turn those lumpy potatoes into gold. It usually worked, because in the morning there it was –  a loonie in their shoe. The potatoes, if not solid gold, had been turned into a gold-coloured coin, and the kids were a dollar richer.

But of course, leprechauns being leprechauns, they couldn’t just leave it at one magic trick. Those mischievous little fellows must have been giggling and cavorting around downstairs while we slept peacefully in our beds. They’d always leave another little reminder that they’d been there, for in the morning our milk was green! Yup, they’d get into the fridge and turn that milk green – right in the carton, if you can believe it!

Our kids would have a glass of green milk with their breakfast, speculating on how the leprechauns had done it again and discussing how to spend their loot at the dollar store.

Now that there are no little kids in this household anymore, the leprechauns have moved on and spend their time getting up to tricks and trouble in other homes where kids still live. I guess we’re lucky they leave us alone, though a nugget of gold wouldn’t go amiss now and then, if they felt so inclined. (Just putting that out there in case they’re listening.)

silky smooth green soup with fresh peas

So we’ll just have a bowl of this delectable green soup instead, and celebrate the coming of Spring. The bright herbs and silky greens, interspersed with the pop of sweet green peas do a little spring dance in your mouth. A nice crusty slice of tasty Irish Soda Bread slathered with creamy butter would certainly go well with it, don’t you think?

(Recipe for gluten free Irish Soda Bread, plus photos of my trip to Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day here.)

My leeks and greens look a little past their prime (it was time to clean out the crisper drawer, for sure), but a good trimming and they come to life again in this light and fresh green soup. Thickened with a tart apple, and subtly flavoured with background hints of lemon and star anise, plus up-front pops of dill or parsley, this Green Soup sings with complex spring flavours. It’s wonderful as a first course for a fancy dinner, or with a big hunk of bread for a weeknight dinner, and it’s on the table in less than half an hour.

leeks for green soup swiss chard for green soup

chard and spinach for green soup zested lemon, bay leaf, and star anise for green soup

Okay, so Spring isn’t really here yet in the North. My big leprechaun was still shoveling snow yesterday, but maybe tomorrow?

shoveling snow on the day I'm making green soup

watching Raymond out the window shoveling the snow as I cook up a pot of green soup

Pippa wants some green soup, too

Pippa wants some green soup, too

We’ll think of Spring, and meanwhile have a bowl of this sprightly green soup while we wait.

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: I always have a container of frozen dill and one of parsley in my freezer. They’re wonderful to use in recipes like this, because who always has fresh herbs on hand? When buying fresh dill or parsley, buy an extra bunch. Rinse them and shake off the excess water, then lay the bunch onto a clean kitchen towel. Spread them out evenly over the towel, then roll them up jelly roll style. Pop the roll into a plastic bag, seal, and refrigerate for 24 hours. This will absorb most of the moisture. Then chop the herbs finely and put them into a plastic bag or empty yogurt container and freeze. When you need some fresh herbs in cooking, break off a chunk or scrape some herbs loose with a fork. This doesn’t work well with all herbs, as some get black when frozen (like mint or basil), but works very well for parsley and dill.

Save the Swiss chard stems in a zip top bag in the freezer – along with other vegetable scraps, to use when making your own soup stock.

one bowl of green soup with bread and peas

Green Soup with Leeks, Leafy Greens, and Peas

  • 2 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
  • 3 medium leeks (or 2 cups diced onion)
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 tart firm apple (like Granny Smith or Pink Lady)
  • 10 oz (300gms) chopped greens (4 cups tightly packed), like spinach, chard, or romaine lettuce – or one 10 oz/300gm package frozen spinach
  • zest of 1 lemon (preferably organic)
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 4 cups chicken broth (or veggie broth for vegan)
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup (130gms) frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh (or frozen) dill or parsley
  • to garnish for serving (optional): a few defrosted peas, a dollop of Greek yogurt, a thin slice of lemon, a few parsley or dill leaves

In a Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed pot, heat the ghee or olive oil over medium heat.

Slice the leeks and celery stalks thinly and add them to the pot. Core and chop the apple and add it, too.  Cook until translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the thick stems from the Swiss chard, if using, and coarsely chop the leaves. If using spinach or Romaine lettuce, coarsely chop the whole leaves.

Add the chopped greens, lemon zest, salt, and white pepper to the leeks. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the greens are wilted. Add the chicken or vegetable broth and the star anise and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Fish out the bay leaf and star anise pods. Purée the soup using an immersion blender or pour it into a standing blender. Purée it to your desired consistency, either completely smooth, or still with some small flecks of green showing. Return the puréed soup to the pot.

Add the frozen peas and fresh herbs. Heat just until a few bubbles break the surface. Taste and add more salt if needed (it depends on how salty your broth was to start with.)

Serve with garnishes, if desired.

Makes 6 cups (1.5l), serving 4 to 6.

Guten Appetit!

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Posted in Soups & Stews, Vegan | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Flourless Blender Brownies

Ooey gooey blender brownies – 5 minutes to mix up and loaded with a secret healthy ingredient! How easy is that? (You won’t feel too guilty feeding these to your crowd.)

stack of sunflower blender brownies Okay, so if chocolate is actually a vegetable then these brownies must totally be a health food.   😉  Right?

‘Cause they’re also loaded with those nutrient-packed little super seeds from the sunflower plant.

sunflower seeds for blender brownies

They use boiled tree sap (maple syrup) instead of refined sugar – they’re not too sweet. And they’ve got eggs for protein.

blender brownies ready to bake baked blender brownies

Heck, I think I’ve just talked myself into classifying these Blender Brownies as a breakfast food (and they may or may not have been consumed instead of lunch on occasion in this household).

pan full of sunflower blender brownies

And if that isn’t enough to impress your brownie-lovin’ soul, Blender Brownies are so easy to make – just whiz them all up in a high-speed blender ( I love my Vitamix for this). Sunflower seeds are the healthy, flourless base for these moist brownies. You get all the benefits of the seeds’ essential fatty acids (especially linoleic acid) and high levels of many nutrients, including selenium, magnesium, copper, vitamins B and E, fiber, and a hefty dose of antioxidants.

The deep, dense, rich chocolate brownies stay ooey-gooey for days and don’t get hard and dry like regular brownies can (considering they actually stay around for days in your house – that sure hasn’t happened in ours.)

blender brownie stack on plate

so ooey gooey

Treat yourself to a sweet chocolate snack that won’t make you feel too guilty.

But if you do want to gild the brownie – try adding this fudgy, decadent chocolate cinnamon ganache to frost the top. It’s a match made in brownie heaven.

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: Use metal bulldog clips to pin the parchment paper to the sides of the pan and keep it from slipping around as you smooth out the brownie batter.

a blender brownie with a fork

Flourless Sunflower Blender Brownies

  • 1½ cups (200gms) raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
  • ¾ cup (180ml) maple syrup (preferably dark B-grade syrup)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 6 tablespoons (35gms) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca starch or cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup (80gms) dark chocolate chips
  • ½ cup (50gms) coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Grease a 9×9″ (23x23cm) square baking pan and line it with a parchment paper sling that sticks up on two sides.

Add the sunflower seeds and maple syrup to a high speed blender canister. Start the blender at the lowest speed and gradually increase the speed to high. Blend until the nuts are coarsely ground. Add the eggs and vanilla. Blend again, starting on low and increasing speed, until the mixture is smooth.

Stop the blender and add the cocoa, tapioca starch, salt, and baking soda. Blend to combine, starting on low speed. Remove the blender canister from the base, and stir in the chocolate chips and nuts (if using) with a spatula.

Scrape the brownie batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the brownies are still slightly soft in the center when touched.

Cool, and cut into 2½ inch (5.5cm) squares. The brownies are so moist and gooey that they cut best if you wipe the knife blade often as you cut them into squares.

Brownies keep, covered, at room temperature for 3 to 4 days, or a few days longer if covered and refrigerated.

Makes 16 brownies.

Guten Appetit!


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Posted in Cakes, Bars, & Squares, Chocolate | 6 Comments

Cooking with Kids: Pasta and Sausage Skillet Supper

There’s nothing easier than a one-dish sausage skillet supper loaded with pasta, ground beef, and tomato sauce for a quick and delicious weeknight meal.

bowl of pasta and sausage skillet supper

Cooking with Meredith

  • Dinner on the table in 30 minutes? Check
  • Protein, carb, and veg? Check
  • Kid-approved? Check
  • Got noodles? Check
  • Only one pan to wash? Check
  • Nutritious? Check
  • Delicious? Check

Looks like we’ve got all the bases covered.

stirring up the pasta and sausage skillet supper

You can whip up a tasty and satisfying meal for the whole family in less than half an hour and be out of the kitchen shortly after dinner to help kids with homework or run them to dance class or hockey. And you don’t need to open up a box of instant ‘helper’ to do it.

Kids can help, or if they’re old enough – whip this up themselves. Use some spices you’ve already got in your cupboard and grab a few ingredients from fridge and pantry for a hearty one dish skillet supper. The pasta cooks right in the juices from the tomatoes, each little corkscrew becoming plump and silky and fully infused with zesty flavour.

Grab a bit of Parmesan cheese and a fork, and let’s eat!

 * * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: Divide a one pound package of ground beef in two. Use one half for this recipe and pop the other half into a sandwich baggie. Squeeze out all the air and label, then freeze it so you can quickly make a batch of this easy Sausage Skillet Supper another day. Do the same thing with a one pound package of Italian sausages.

If mushrooms or zucchini aren’t a favourite in your house, use diced bell pepper, diced eggplant, frozen green beans, frozen peas, broccoli, or cauliflower florets.

This skillet supper works just as well with gluten free pasta as it does with regular pasta.

Meredith and a big pot of pasta and sausage skillet supper

Pasta and Sausage Skillet Supper

  • ½ pound (225gms) mild Italian Sausage links (2 to 2½ links), gluten free if necessary
  • ½ lb (225gms) lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • a few sprinkles of black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (or ½ teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 3 cups rotini or fusilli pasta (4 oz./115gms), gluten-free or regular
  • 1½ cups (360ml) sliced fresh mushrooms or diced zucchini (or other vegetable)
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 cup (240ml) water
  • 1 can (14 oz/400gms) diced tomatoes or 2 cups packed, diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1 can (14oz/400gms) tomato sauce or 1¾ cups/420ml homemade tomato sauce

Heat a heavy bottomed large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Slice the sausage and saute until browned on both sides in the dry skillet. Push the browned sausage to the side of the skillet and add the ground beef to the center. Cook the beef until browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine everything. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Lower the heat and cover the skillet. Cook for 12 to 14 minutes, until the pasta is al dente (still slightly firm).

Serve with Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley or chives, if desired.

Serves 4 to 6.

Guten Appetit!

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For more fun cooking projects to make with kids, see the ‘Cooking With Kids’ series here.

If you like my recipes, follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook. You’d make my day!

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Posted in Cooking with Kids, One-Dish Meals, Pasta | Leave a comment