Monday, March 8, 2010

Amazing Race - Germany

My husband and I enjoy a Sunday evening ritual that is - what else - food-centric and TV-centric! We are devoted fans of the Amazing Race, and each week I cook a meal inspired by the country in which the contestants are traveling. Don't worry - you will never see us racing together as a team on AR. We are pretty sure we would tear each others' faces off (best case scenario). Let's not test our harmonious relationship!

This particular season - Amazing Race 16 (!!) - has some incredible casting. Remember Miss Teen South Carolina, the beauty queen who answered a question about American children's lack of geography knowledge by uttering the infamous phrase "such as ... and the Iraq"? She and her boyfriend (Caite and Brent) are Dumb Blond Team #1. Dumb Blond Team #2 is comprised of a Big Brother winner and a former Big Brother contestant (dating - Jordan and Jeff). My only knowledge of these two comes from watching them in all their glory in clips on The Soup. The girl Jordan was expressing her confusion about what "quarter after" means in reference to time keeping ... oh boy.

This Sunday, the teams traveled to ..... GERMANY! Whenever I can cook relatively comfortably from the cuisine of the country, I am particularly excited. (Um, Kazakhstan? They pretty much only eat offal there. I took that week off.) I was also thrilled to enjoy a virtual visit to Germany because it's where I was born when my dad was stationed in Augsburg in the Army. (Yes, I can still be president; no, I'm not a dual citizen.)

In honor of Germany, we had:
  • German potato salad
  • Faux bratwurst (confession, it was kielbasa - which is actually Polish - because they were out of the bratwurst). We served the faux-wurst with bell peppers and onions that were scorched in the oven at 500 for 10 minutes. (I abstained from the fake meat because it freaks me out a little. I did cheese, veggies, mustard, and Miracle Whip on a sourdough bun.)
  • Cookie experiment - German chocolate cookies baked in bar, rather than drop cookie, form. These were crumbly but delicious. The experiment was 80% successful, 100% tasty.
Here's a full plate:

Close-up of the potato salad - it was good. A bit laborious and needed a tad more salt, but still pretty tasty. A warm beer-based vinaigrette is poured over cooked sliced potatoes, onion, and parsley. Recipe here, from Cooking Light. I stayed true to the recipe, with the exception of subbing my CSA fresh onions for the yellow onions in the vinaigrette. I also bypassed whizzing the dressing concoction in my food processor - why food process when I can just whisk? (Confession: I used my mini stick blender-style dressing wand, a gift from my husband.)

Tonight (Monday night), we enjoyed another CSA-veggie-inspired meal. Leftover potato salad and ...

Chard Tacos!

This is a tried-and-true recipe from one of my favorite books, A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop. This book is a must for any vegetarian. The recipes are simple yet delicious. Many can be tackled on a weeknight, and the ingredient lists are reasonable, often surprisingly terse. The book is divided into four chapters, one for each season. This is a wonderful book by which to learn to cook or expand your repertoire of unique yet accessible dishes. Bishop is the editor of method-obsessed Cook's Illustrated, and it shows in these tight, reliable recipes.

Corn tortillas cradling swiss chard and onion saute, with leftover bell peppers and onions, plus some cheese, a dab or two of sour cream, and some taco sauce. Plus a small side of leftover German potato salad.

And for dessert - the very non-German chocolate cookie bar. I learned that German chocolate cake is actually an American invention, with the original recipe calling for "German" brand sweet chocolate. I consider the Amazing Race to be a great learning tool!

Next week: FRANCE!

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