Sunday, September 2, 2012


Spitzbuben (German jam cookies)


  • 1 1/8 cups butter
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 3 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup fruit preserves, any flavor
  • 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar for decoration

1.                    [Vanilla sugar can be purchased commercially in packets.  To make your own vanilla sugar, combine 1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar with a rinsed and dried vanilla bean in a pint jar. Cover and shake well. Shake occasionally for 2 -3 days. Use flavored sugar, replenishing with fresh sugar, as needed. ]
2.                    Beat butter until soft and fluffy. Mix in the confectioners' sugar, vanilla sugar, and salt until mass has a lighter color.
3.                    Beat the egg white into the creamed mixture, making sure to incorporate fully. Add in the flour and mix. Cover the dough, and chill in the refrigerator for one hour.
4.                    Take the dough out of the refrigerator, and roll it out until it is about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out 2 or 3 inch circles with fluted cookie cutters. Cut smaller circles into the middle of half of the circles.  Avoid rerolling the trimmings more than once, the cookie gets tough if the dough is overworked.
5.                    Bake in a preheated 400 degrees F oven for 6 to 8 minutes.
6.                    Warm up strawberry, apricot, or raspberry jam. Put some jam on the cookies without the holes in the middle. Then put the cookies with the holes on top of the ones with jam. Sprinkle a bit of confectioners' sugar on top to make them look nice.

Notes:  An approximate translation of “Spitzbuben” is “Little Rascals.”  The cookies are also called Swiss sandwich cookies.  Some recipes also call for ground almond in the dough.  Instead of confectioners sugar, you can use fine granulated sugar in the dough.  Another substitution would be vanilla extract instead of the vanilla sugar.  Mom made these cookies at Christmastime.  She usually used strawberry jam.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Potato Dumplings

Kartoffelklöβe (Potato Dumplings)
    • 1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes (about 2 large)
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour ( or more)
    • 1/8 cup cornstarch (or potato starch, much preferred, if you can get it)
    • 1 large eggs
    • 2 slices sourdough bread or 2 slices white bread (good quality, dense bread not supermarket foamy stuff)
    • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    • 1 tablespoon corn oil or 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  1. Trim crusts off bread and save them for another use.
  2. Cut bread into 1/2-inch cubes and fry in butter and oil mixture until golden brown, transfer to paper towel to dry.
  3. Cook scrubbed, unpeeled potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 45 minutes.
  4. Drain.
  5. Cool slightly.
  6. Peel.
  7. Cut potatoes into large pieces.
  8. Refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes.
  9. Mash potatoes with fork or run through ricer into large bowl.
  10. Mix in salt and nutmeg.
  11. Add 1/2 cup flour and cornstarch.
  12. Using hands, knead mixture in bowl until smooth dough forms, adding more flour by tablespoonfuls if dough is sticky.
  13. Mix in egg.
  14. Form dough into balls, using 1/4 cupful for each.
  15. Insert bread cube into center of each dumpling; roll dumpling between palms to enclose bread cube completely and form smooth balls.
  16. Working in batches, cook dumplings in large pot of nearly boiling salted water 10-15 minutes (or until dumplings rise to top).
  17. Using slotted spoon, transfer dumplings to large bowl.
  18. Keep covered with a damp kitchen towel as remaining dumplings are cooked.
  19. You should place no more than 4-5 dumplings in your pot at any one time in order to prevent them from sticking together or touching during cooking, which will cause them to fall apart.
  20. Serves: 6, Yield: 12 dumplings
About This Recipe
These are German-style potato dumplings, very popular in the South of Germany. They are traditionally served with any roast with gravy and red cabbage.  Second-day leftovers can be sliced into slabs and fried in butter.   Mom only made them on special occasions.

Milk Rice

Rice Porridge  (Milch Reis)

1/2 cup converted rice
1 quart milk
1 pinch salt
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup raisins, optional

Cook rice in milk with salt and butter, very slowly until kernels are tender but have not lost their shape. If you have patience, do this in the top of a double broiler. It will take 1 1/2 to 2 hours but will be worth it.

The mixture should be very thick and can be stirred several times during cooking. When done, flavor with sugar, cinnamon and add raisins--if you are using them. This may be served hot or cold.

Note:  This is a recipe that is similar to the “milk rice” that Mom used to make.  I believe the texture was a little thinner.  She did not use the raisins and served it hot, as a meal.  Dad loved this stuff, but Mom and we kids thought it was bland and boring.

Potato Salad (hot)

Hot German Potato Salad (Warmer Kartoffelsalat)


9 potatoes, peeled
      6 slices bacon
      3/4 cup chopped onions
      2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
      2 tablespoons white sugar
      2 teaspoons salt
      1/2 teaspoon celery seed
      1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
      3/4 cup water
      1/3 cup distilled white vinegar


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 30 minutes. Drain, cool and slice thin.

  Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown.   Drain, crumble and set aside, reserving drippings.

Sauté onions in bacon drippings until they are golden-brown.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, celery seed, and pepper. Add to the sautéed onions and cook and stir until bubbly, then remove from heat. Stir in water and vinegar, then return to the stove and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for one minute. Carefully stir bacon and sliced potatoes into the vinegar/water mixture, stirring gently until potatoes are heated through.

 Note:  Again, this is not Mom’s exact recipe, but I checked a number of sources and most hot potato salads are made with these ingredients.

Potato Salad (cold)

Cold Potato Salad (Kalter Kartoffelsalat)


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1 qt. water
8 med. russet potatoes
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. mayonnaise
2 tbsp. sweet pickle juice
1/8 tsp. pepper

4 hard cooked eggs, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp. minced onion
1 c. finely chopped sweet pickles


Cook unpeeled potatoes in boiling salted water.  Do not over cook, or they will fall apart in salad.  Peel while still hot and cut into ¾ inch cubes.

In large bowl, combine mayonnaise, pickle juice, pepper and dash of salt. Add potatoes, eggs and chopped pickles. Toss lightly to mix. Season to taste. Serve cold.

Garnish: Line bowl with lettuce leaves and top the salad with hard cooked egg slices.

Note:  I don’t have an exact recipe from Mom for potato salad.  This one has the same basic ingredients.  I would go less on the pickle, but just personal preference.  For seasoning, it would be typical of Mom to add fresh chopped chives and parsley from the garden.