Thursday, February 20, 2014

Schnitzel and 'Slaw

I've been back in England for over 6 months now (where has the time gone?) and I really am missing Germany.  The good news is I've booked to go back to Bamberg for a few days next month, the bad news is that I'm not there now.  So to try and help me miss Germany a little bit less I decided to cook some German food.  As I don't have an oven I was unable to make my favourite German food Haxe (pork knuckle in English but the German makes it sound so much more appealing).  So instead I decided to cook Schnitzel and instead of Sauerkraut (much tastier than you think) I decided to try a couple of different recipes for coleslaw, one with red and one with white cabbage.

Schnitzel with two types of coleslaw and a pretzel
Schnitzel with two types of coleslaw and a soft pretzel
First thing's first, prepare the 'slaw.  I made rather too much but it didn't matter as it kept for a couple of days in the fridge and I ate it with a couple of other meals.

The pattern on the inside of a red cabbage

I started with the beetroot and red cabbage slaw, the recipe for which I found in my Fabulous Baker Brothers cookbook.  For those of you who haven't heard of them Tom Herbert is a baker and Henry Herbert is a butcher (you can read more about them on their website, they had a series on Channel 4 a couple of years ago and this is the recipe book from that series.  I haven't made much of it before (mainly owing to the lack of an oven) but this recipe looked delicious and required no actual cooking whatsoever.

I used half a red cabbage (finely chopped), one and a half beetroots (don't use ones preserved in vinegar - either raw or in their natural juice - grated), 1/2 red onion (diced), juice of 1/2 lemon, salt and pepper to season.  All you need to do is chop up those ingredients, mix them together in a large bowl and leave them to stand for about 30 minutes (the lemon will help to soften the cabbage).  Before serving stir in 25ml olive oil and some herbs - I used tarragon but the recipe also recommends parsley - fresh herbs are good but dried work just as well.

Beetroot and red cabbage 'slaw

My second slaw recipe comes from a new recipe book which I bought just a couple of days ago.  It's called Food DIY and is written by Tim Hayward, the owner of Fitzbillies - one of my favourite bakeries/cafes in Cambridge.  I popped by the shop on Valentine's day to pick up some shortbread hearts and saw that they were selling signed copies of the book.  I've had my eye on it for a while now so I decided to go for it and I'm really glad I did.  It's an interesting book all about how to 'do it yourself' from curing and pickling to drying and smoking.  A lot of the recipes require a lot more time and effort than I can afford right now but this coleslaw recipe looked simple and different.

I used a quarter of a medium white cabbage (which even so was a little too much - thinly sliced), 1/2 red onion (thinly sliced), some fennel (don't put too much in otherwise - as I found out - the flavour can be a little overpowering, add a little to begin with then add more later if it's not enough) and 1 carrot (grated).  He also suggests using kohlrabi, a vegetable that is really easy to get hold of in Germany but not so common in England, it would make a good addition if you can get your hands on some.  Mix everything together in a large bowl, add some salt to season (he also suggests celery seed but as I couldn't find any I left this out) and the juice of half a lemon.  Just before serving add equal measures of plain yoghurt and mayonnaise (I used about a quarter of a cup of each but a little less would have been better).  Stir in the yoghurt and mayo and serve.


Now for the best bit, the Schnitzel!  Although I had never made Schnitzel before I have certainly eaten my share so I knew how it was meant to turn out.  You will need 1 pork escalope per person.  Before you start you will need to bash these a bit to thin them.  I keep an empty wine bottle in the kitchen which I use as a rolling pin so I simply used the base of that to bash out the pork.  The reason you need to thin the pork is to make sure it cooks all the way through before the outside burns, if the pork is too thick it will take too long to cook.  I then got out 2 plates and a bowl.  On one plate I sprinkled a couple of tablespoons of flour, on another some breadcrumbs (I made my own out of some left over sourdough bread from Valentine's day but shop bought will work just as well).  In the bowl I beat an egg.

First coat your pork in flour, then cover it with egg then place it into the breadcrumbs - make sure they coat the pork but don't press them into the meat as it won't fry as nicely if you do.  Now get a frying pan that's big enough to hold your pork.  Pour in some vegetable oil (nothing fancy) - it will need to be about half a centimetre deep.  Heat the oil until it sizzles when you drop a couple of breadcrumbs in.  Carefully place your preprepared pork into the oil and fry it for 3-4 minutes on each side (until the breadcrumbs turn a lovely golden brown).  Serve with the coleslaw.

Fry the Schnitzel until it is golden brown
Fry the Schnitzel until it is golden brown

A bottle of Augustiner Helles beerWhile out shopping I also picked up a couple of soft pretzels from M&S to really add to the German theme.  They're not as good as real German Brezen but they are the closest thing I've found since being back in England - if anyone knows of anywhere that sells better ones please let me know!  I finished off the meal with a German lager (Helles) from my favourite Munich brewery - Augustiner.  I got this beer from Bacchanalia the wine and beer shop on Mill Road (Cambridge) which I've mentioned previously.  I went back last week to stock up and although still lacking in beers from Bamberg they did have a fresh supply of Augustiner.

This meal was the perfect way of dealing with my cravings for German food and culture, but even so, I can't wait to be back there in just over a month!


  1. It sounds lovely. I lived in Germany for a year back in the 90s and I loved eating schnitzel then but I didn't used to cook much at the time. I'll have to try and recreate some of the meals I remember.

  2. Authentic German Brezen are to be found at the German stall in Borough Market by London Bridge Station or at their stall on a Thursday at the Artisan Food market at Covent Garden! Not close to Cambridge, I know, but you can buy online from them!