Germany: Kartofellpuffing like true Berliners
What comes to mind when you think of German cuisine? If you answered anything along the lines of currywurst (or any sort of sausage), sauerkraut, or pretzels…. Then yes, you’d be partially right – but it’s also so much more than that, as evidenced by the vibrant, bustling city from which our next guest hails: Berlin. Take a trip to Europe’s third most visited capital, home to a pulsating nightlife and art scene, and prepare to be blown away by the diversity of cuisines this city of 3.47 million inhabitants has to offer. So if and when you’ve had your fill of currywurst, you can set your feasts on everything from Vietnamese to Persian (and who can forget Berlin’s famous döner kebabs?).
But we digress… Point being, Berlin’s got something for every taste bud, but even manages to impress with its more traditional, old school dishes. We found this out when meeting our Rebecca, a Berlin native who has spent the past few years getting hygge with Scandinavia. After studying in Copenhagen, Rebecca set her sights on Stockholm and hasn’t looked back since (except perhaps, to reminisce on how the nightlife is much more bumpin’ in Berlin… can’t argue there). But even after all her years abroad, she still hasn’t forgotten how to whip up her favorite dishes from home, kartoffelpuffar. This traditional dish is simple to make and can be enjoyed with pretty much any sweet of savory topping and – best of all, is the perfect kind of stick to ribs meal for those chilly Fall evenings that lay ahead. Read on to find out more about how to make this German feast at home, as well as Rebecca’s unexpected love for Swedish salads.
Recipe for a truly authentic Berlin feast
Enjoy with: for a true Berliner experience wash this lovely meal down with some Berliner Weisse, a wheat beer that comes in many flavour varieties. Raspberry was a personal favourite of our chef for the evening.
Listen to: We were groovin’ out to the reggae-infused tunes of Seeed. Find some of their repertoire here
Kartoffelpuffer or Reibekuchen with salmon and apple sauce
Serves: 5-6 people
Time to cook: about 45 min - 1 hour
12 potatoes (about 1 kg)
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
About 1 dl of flour
4-6 tbsp of oats
2-3 dl of olive oil (for frying the kartoffelpuffer)
Peel and grate all the potatoes (preferably while jammin’ out to Seeed, or 99 Luftballons)
Put the shredded potatoes in a large bowl and add salt and start “massaging” with your hands quickly
Add the onion, oats and mix again
Crack the two eggs and mix together with the other ingredients
Cover the bowl in the flour and massage everything together
In a large skillet (with high edges), pour the olive oil and set the heat to high
Prep a plate with paper towel (for putting the fried kartoffelpuffer)
Once the oil is hot start taking handfuls of the mixture and add into the skillet. Use a spatula to flatten the puffen. Fry a few at a time until they get a brown, crusty surface.
Set aside on the paper towels and let cool slightly
Serve with smoked salmon and creme fraiche or with apple sauce (we tried both and they were equally amazing)
Mixed Berry Kuchen
Pudding powder (see picture) 8 tbsp (with water as instructed on packaging)
8 dl milk
4 tbsp sugar
250 g flour
75 g sugar
125 g butter
3 x 125 g of fresh berries (raspberries and blueberries were our choice for the evening)
Pour 7 dl of the milk in a pot and put on high heat. You don’t want the milk to boil, just heat it up
In two separate bowls mix half of the pudding and sugar in each
Add the remaining 1 dl of milk in one of the bowls slowly while mixing. Then add the remaining pudding powder and sugar from the other bowl and mix together
After about 5 minutes remove the milk from the stove and mix with the pudding powder. Set aside and let cool
In a large bowl mix flour, 75 g of sugar, butter, egg and salt. Knead together with your hands. The dough will be a little “crumbly” but should stick together
Cover the bowl with plastic foil and put in the fridge for an hour
Once the dough has been cooled sprinkle some flour on a flat surface and roll out the dough. We made it into 3 smaller cakes, so we suggest you do the same
Cover 3 foil pans (round) with the dough, squeezing the edges of the dough to the edges of the pans. Use a fork to make some holes in the dough.
Turn the oven to 175 degrees and bake for about 30 min.
Take the pie crusts out of the oven once they have a golden brown shade
Pour in the pudding mixture, sprinkle with berries, and voila!
Kryddhyllan: What is your favorite food from home and why?
Rebecca: Uhhh my favorite food from home…. Ok I need to think a little bit.
Kryddhyllan: Take your time, it’s a hard question.
Rebecca: I think one of my favorite foods is my mom’s mashed potatoes. That together with…. I mean maybe the most traditional food that I miss would be mashed potatoes with green beans and some steak?
Kryddhyllan: Mmm, that sounds good.
Rebecca: Yeah, like a good beefsteak that’s grilled on the barbeque. I also really love that at Christmas we eat duck or boar, that’s really good. Christmas duck or goose is really great.
Kryddhyllan: We should have more duck in Sweden, duck is delicious.
Rebecca: The best is the breast with the sauce and it gets all crispy.
Kryddhyllan: Mmmm duck. Good dishes! What brought you to Sweden in the first place?
Rebecca: I started studying here. I did my bachelor’s in Denmark and then decided to apply here. It was just because it’s such a hassle to apply in Germany when you have a diploma that isn’t German, they didn’t know how to process my application, so I got tired and thought “I’ll just apply in Sweden then”, and it was almost no hassle at all.
Kryddhyllan: Was there something about Sweden that made you want to come here?
Rebecca: I liked the language, I don’t like Danish, so I wanted to move away from there. And I liked, I dunno I’ve been to Sweden when I was a kid with my parents, I guess like a lot of Germans *laughs.
Kryddhyllan: Did you go sailing?
Rebecca: We went in the winter actually, a lot, also in the summer but mostly winter and had Swedish Christmas in Småland and Skåne.
Kryddhyllan: Did you guys have practical shoes?
Rebecca: I bet we did *laughs. We went to see those blown glass things. And that’s why I was like “why not?” and here I am still.
Kryddhyllan: Do you have any favorite new dishes since moving here?
Rebecca: Uhhh, I mean I like all the fresh and healthy things here. Salads are really good here. They’re done really well and they’re not boring and tired as they are in Germany still. I mean, I really like the brown sauce for köttbullar, and I eat a lot of stuff with lingonberries. I love all fish and seafood, salmon and, what else are the dishes I like? What else? I love all fish and fresh seafood and… what are Swedish dishes that I like?
Kryddhyllan: You mentioned a lot of them, nice. Maybe the Swedish food culture resonates with you.
Rebecca: I think the Swedish food culture has evolved a lot since how I remember it from when I was young, back then it was horrible. Awful. You couldn’t find anything in the supermarkets and everything was sweet. Now I like that there is non-sweet bread. And I think that Stockholm has a really high-quality of food in general, not sure about the rest of Sweden.
Kryddhyllan: Did you know anything about Swedish food before coming here?
Rebecca: Ikea does a really good job of promoting Swedish food, so we all know about köttbullar, we all know knäckebröd, lingonsylt and Swedish hot dogs and such.
Kryddhyllan: Such good ambassadors!
Rebecca: Seriously! And they also have the Sweden shop in all countries, where you can buy Swedish things.
Kryddhyllan: What do you think is the best and worst thing about Swedish food?
Rebecca: Hmm the best thing… I think because you don’t have a strong food culture (no offense), people are less afraid of trying new things and experimenting with fresh ingredients, like I love this whole Nordic food trend of using weird herbs that are in the forest and stuff and I think that people are less afraid of “offending” the regular traditional culture because the food culture isn’t that strong. And I think that tastes are getting better and stuff. I still that in Sweden and also Denmark, that certain concepts or ingredients, poppy seeds for example, is something that is very much used in German baking, and here the concept doesn’t work… it’s more just a garnish on bread or something. But that some ingredients are hard to convince people that “oh there is more you can do with this” in terms of how ingredients are supposed to be used and stuff. But I think it’s evolving for sure. But when it comes to baking and bakeries, it doesn’t seem to be a big thing – you have good, but a few pastries or bakeries. But it’s getting there.
Kryddhyllan: And if you had to pick one food to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Rebecca: Uhhh, it would be seafood. 100%. That’s actually my favorite Swedish food I’d say. Kräftor or crayfish.
Kryddhyllan: Really?! Do you like the crayfish parties?
Rebecca: Yeah, and lobster. I could eat lobster until I die.
Kryddhyllan: Agreed. And what would you say is your spice of life?
Rebecca: It would have to be something spicy…
Kryddhyllan: Remember that you can only use this one spice to flavor your food for the rest of your life.
Rebecca: Oof that’s difficult. Maybe it would have to be mint…
Kryddhyllan: I think that’s a first on the blog. I remember that we used a lot of mint when we made Persian food, and it was a really nice introduction into how to use mint in savory dishes.
Rebecca: It’s so good in so many different things, and it always adds a super nice, distinct flavor.
Kryddhyllan: It’s awesome, more mint to the people! And what would you say is the best meal you’ve ever had?
Rebecca: Hmm… I was talking recently about how I distinctly remembering going to Bali, and the food there was just so good. There was this satay that they did on the street on coconut shells, this little BBQ where they were heating it up over dried coconut shells (this is what they used as charcoal), and I had these chicken skewers with peanut sauce, and I think it was the first time that I ate peanut sauce, so yeah definitely that was a memorable meal.
Kryddhyllan: Yeah, usually it is meals associated with a strong memory. What’s your favorite restaurant at the moment?
Rebecca: Uhmmm…. In Stockholm? Or anywhere?
Kryddhyllan: Could be anywhere, here, Berlin, somewhere else…
Rebecca: I think in Berlin it would be this Korean restaurant that I can’t remember the name of… Waga! Waga Waga or something. There’s also a great place called Monsieur Wong, which I haven’t been to in a really long time but it’s Vietnamese and really good. And then in Stockholm. I really like Indio, it’s like Peruvian with a Japanese influence. I also really like the Eritrean restaurant on Söder. I also really like good pita places. There’s also a really nice French place near Indio. Also, the miso soup is amazing at Indio, they put lime in it and it makes so much sense. You have to try it.