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Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Cuisine of Austria

When you think of Austria so many wonderful things come to mind – the Alps, Vienna and the waltzes of Strauss. Lovely Salzburg where the film the "Sound of Music" was made and then there’s the food... The cuisine of Austria is derived from the cuisine of the Austro-Hungarian empire. It has been influenced by Hungarian, Czech, Italian and Bavarian cuisines. Therefore the Austrian cuisine is one of, if not the most, multi- and trans cultural in Europe. It is primarily known in the rest of the world for its pastries and sweets. In recent times a new regional cuisine has also developed which is centered on regional produce and employs modern and easy methods of preparation.

Austrians eat many desserts. A typical one, which is served around Christmas is vannilekipferl which, are Austrian, German and Hungarian small, crescent shaped biscuits. They are usually made with ground almonds or hazelnuts. They are flavored with vanilla or artificial flavoring and have a heavy dusting of powdered and superfine sugar. Vanillekipferl originate from Vienna in Austria. Traditionally, they are made at Christmas, but they can be enjoyed all year round and are often for sale in Viennese coffee shops. They are said to have been created in the shape of the Turkish crescent to celebrate the victory of the Hungarian army over the Turkish in one of the many wars between the nations. Austrians also make many tortes and chocolates. A very well-known and popular torte is the Sachertorte (named after its inventor, Eduard Sacher). The cake consists of two layers of dense, not overly sweet chocolate cake (traditionally a sponge cake) with a thin layer of apricot jam in the middle and dark chocolate icing with shreds of chocolate on the top and sides. It is traditionally served with whipped cream without any sugar in it (Standard German: Schlagsahne, Austrian Standard German: Schlagobers), as most Viennese consider the Sachertorte too "dry" to be eaten on its own. The Zwetschkenfleck, an upside-down cake topped with plums and often sprinkled with cinnamon. Other sweet things include marzipan a confection consisting primarily of sugar and almond meal. Heisse Schokolade (hot chocolate), which is served with homemade schlag (whipped cream) and various chocolate confections obtained from the cities where professional chocolatiers make creations.

By region:

Vienna – Some typical Viennese dishes include: apfelstrudel a traditional pastry of Austria and a popular dish in many countries that once belonged to the Austro-Hungarian empire. It is the most widely known kind of strudel. Apfelstrudel consists of an oblong strudel pastry jacket with a filling of chopped apples, sugar, cinnamon, raisins and bread crumbs. Rum is sometimes used to add flavour. Other ingredients include pine nuts, walnuts, or slivered almonds. The art of preparation is in making the pastry very thin and elastic; it is said that a single layer should be so thin that one could read a newspaper through it. Beuschel a ragout containing calf lungs and heart, gulasch a dish, originally from Hungary, usually made of beef, red onions, vegetables spices and ground paprika powder.

The name comes from the Hungarian gulyás (pronounced goo-yash), the word for a cattle stockman or herdsman, tafelspitz boiled beef, often served with apple and horseradish sauce, and liptauer cheese a dish or cheese spread made with sheep's-milk cheese, goat's milk cheese, quark cheese or cottage cheese, part of Hungarian cuisine. And of course, the ever popular Wiener Schnitzle. Wiener Schnitzel (from German Wiener Schnitzel, meaning Viennese cutlet) is a traditional Austrian dish and popular part of Viennese and Austrian cuisine, consisting of a thin slice of veal coated in breadcrumbs and fried. In Austria the dish is traditionally served with a lemon slice, lingonberry jam and either potato salad or potatoes with parsley and butter. While traditional Wiener Schnitzel is made out of veal, it is now sometimes made out of pork, though in that case it is often called Schnitzel Wiener Art (Germany) or Wiener Schnitzel vom Schwein (Austria) to differentiate it from the original.

In Lower Austria there are such local delicacies as Waldviertel poppies (poppy is widely consumed in many parts of Central and Eastern Europe. The sugared, milled mature seeds are eaten with pasta, or they are boiled with milk and used as filling or topping on various kinds of sweet pastry), Marchfeld asparagus and Wachau apricots which are cultivated. Their influence can be felt in the local cuisine, as for example in poppy noodles. Game dishes are common.

Burgenland’s cuisine has been influenced by Hungarian cuisine owing to its former position within the Hungarian part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Typical dishes consist of fish, chicken or goose. Polenta (a dish made from boiled cornmeal) is a popular side-dish. On St. Martin’s Day (November 11) a Martinigans (St. Martin’s goose) is often prepared, while carp is a typical Christmas dish.

In Styrian Buschenschanken (inns), Verhackertes (a spread made of finely chopped bacon) is served. The style of wine is Schilcher, a very dry rose in West Styria. A typical Styrian delicacy is pumpkin seed oil, particularly on salads because of its nutty taste. A local dish enjoyed in cold weather is Heidensterz, a pancake made from buckwheat flour.

Carinthia’s many lakes make fish a popular main course. Grain, dairy products and meat are also important ingredients. Well-known local delicacies are Carinthian Kasnudeln (noodle dough pockets filled with quark (a type of fresh cheese of Central European origin) and mint) and smaller Schlickkrapfen (mainly with a meat filling). Also produced locally are Klachlsuppe (pig’s trotter soup) and Reindling (a type of cinnamon raisin bread fruit loaf).

In Upper Austria various types of dumpling are an important part of the cuisine as is the Linzer Torte made with a very short, crumbly pastry of flour, butter and ground nuts (usually almonds), with a filling of plum butter or jam (even raspberry or red currant). It is covered by a lattice of dough strips and decorated with sliced almonds.

From Salzburg come Kasnocken (cheese dumplings). Freshwater fish, particularly trout, is served in various ways. Salzburger Nockerln (a meringue-like dish) is a well-known local dessert.

Tyrolean bacon and all sorts of dumplings including Speckknodel (dumplings with pieces of bacon) and Spinatknodel (made of spinach) are an important part of the local cuisine.

Vorarlberg cuisine has been influenced by the alemannic cuisine of neighboring Switzerland and Swabia. Important are cheese and cheese products, with Kasknopfle and Kasspatzle (egg noodles prepared with cheese) being popular dishes. Other delicacies include Krutspatzle (sauerkraut noodles), Kasdonnala (similar to quiche), Schupfnudla (made from dough mixing potato and flour), Fladlesuppe (pancake soup), Opfelkuachle (apple cake) and Funkakuachle (cake traditionally eaten on the first Sunday of Lent). Many also eat Germknodel, which is a hill of dough with poppy seeds and mostly eaten with vanilla ice cream.

Wiener Schnitzel

¼ hours | 1¼ hours prep
SERVES 4 4 cutlets
1 1/2 lbs veal cutlets
1/2 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
1 cup breadcrumbs, finely ground
6 tablespoons butter
1 lemon

Pound cutlets thin between 2 sheets of waxed paper.
Place flour in one dish, beaten egg in another, and bread crumbs in another. Salt and pepper each dish.
Dip cutlets in to each dish in order: Flour, egg, then bread crumbs.
Be sure the bread crumb coating is thin, but thoroughly covers the cutlet.
Refrigerate cutlets for approximately 1 hour on a waxed paper covered platter.
Melt 4 tsp. butter in a large skillet. Brown cutlets quickly on each side until golden brown and set aside.
Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and squeeze the lemon juice in to the butter.
Stir mixture and pour over cutlets before serving.

Viennese Apple Strudel ( Wiener Apfelstrudel )

Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Yield: about 16 servings

For the dough:
3 cups bread flour, 1 egg, 1/4 cup soft, unsalted butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold water, Vegetable oil, Bread flour;
For the Filling:
3/4 cups coarse white bread crumbs, 1/2 cup, melted unsalted butter
1 1/2 pounds, 14 ounces peeled, cored and thinly sliced Granny Smith, Pippin or other cooking apples , 1/3 cup granulated sugar , 3/4 cup dark raisins
3/4 cup coarsely crushed nuts,2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 5 ounces firm, unsalted butter

To make the dough: Place the flour, egg, soft butter and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mixing with the dough hook on low speed, add enough of the cold water to make a soft dough. Knead the dough in the electric mixer at medium speed until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and coat it with oil. Cover and let rest at room temperature for about 1 hour.

For the filling: To make the coarse bread crumbs, toast slices of white bread in the oven until crisp, about 10 minutes. Break into pieces and place in a food processor. Pulse the processor until the bread resembles large bread crumbs. In a saute pan, over medium heat, saute the bread crumbs in 1/4 cup of the melted butter until they are golden brown. Reserve the sauteed bread crumbs and the remaining melted butter separately. Combine the sliced apples, granulated sugar, raisins, nuts, ground cinnamon and about half of the bread crumbs. Cut the firm butter into chunks and gently toss together with the apple mixture.

To Assemble: Cover a work surface approximately 4 feet by 4 feet with a clean piece of cloth. The cloth is used to facilitate stretching and rolling the dough. Make sure that the cloth is securely fastened to the table. Dust the cloth lightly with the flour. Place the rested dough in the center of the cloth. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a large, thin rectangle. When the dough is as thin as it will go with the rolling pin, it is time to begin stretching and pulling the dough. To stretch and pull the dough, place your hands under the dough, and, using your thumbs and the back of your hand, gently begin pulling and stretching the dough. Pull and stretch the dough until it is a rectangle approximately 3 1/2 feet by 2 1/2 feet. Be very careful when you are pulling and stretching not to tear the dough. After it is pulled to the proper size, let the dough relax on the table for a few minutes.

There will be a thick edge around the edges, trim this away. You also want to trim off any parts of the dough that hang over the edges of the table. Place the apple filling next to the long edge of the dough closest to you. Form the filling into a thick log. Brush some of the reserved melted butter generously over the remainder of the dough. Sprinkle the remaining bread crumbs over the dough. Using the cloth to help lift the dough, roll the strudel as you would a jelly roll, starting from the filling side. Place the strudel, seam side down, in a horseshoe shape on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

Brush the strudel with the last of the melted butter. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven F for about 35 minutes, Remove the pan from the oven and cool. Slice the strudel into individual servings and serve either warm or at room temperature. By Rasma Raisters

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