Food: Vegane Currywurst

The problem with a lot of mucky, über tasty street food is that it’s invariably meat based. Here’s an equally tasty vegan alternative to one of Germany’s signature dishes: Currywurst mit pommes. 

I highly recommend prepping the carrots in advance, they’re dead simple to prepare but it makes all the difference when they’ve had time to marinate.

You’ll need:

  • Two medium sized carrots (per person)
  • 1tbs Smoked paprika,
  • 1 tsp brown German mustard (or Dijon),
  • 1-2 drops of liquid smoke,
  • 1tbs of cider vinegar,
  • 1tbs of light soy sauce,
  • 1tsp Garlic infused oil
  • 10ml water

To serve:

  • 1tbs curry powder
  • 1 packet of frozen French Fries
  • Vegan mayo (Lots of it!)

Begin by topping and tailing the carrots and “carving” to make rounded ends, a bit like a wurst or hotdog style sausage. Peel the carrots and simmer in salted water on a medium heat until soft. Don’t over boil because they’ll fall apart and be of no use to anyone! You want the knife to slide through but not disintegrate when you lift them. When they’re done leave them to dry out and cool.

When they’re dry put them in a freezer bag or container to marinate with the paprika, cider vinegar, oil,  liquid smoke, mustard and soy sauce. Leave them to soak up the flavours for 3-4 hours or best, overnight. They’ll keep for a few days in the fridge if you’re making them well in advance.

When you’re ready to cook, fill a frying pan or wok with enough oil to shallow fry the carrots. Heat the oil to medium and then reduce if the fat is too hot for them. The carrots will start to blister and brown as they cook, turn regularly for 3-4 minutes.

Once browned, take out and put in a kitchen towel lined baking dish and pop in an oven preheated to 160°C, to finish them off.

You can now use this oil to cook the fries.

Once the carrots are done, take out and leave to cool slightly. Whilst it’s cooling you can make the currywurst sauce.

To make this I used:

  • 1 Heaped tbs of vegan curry (I used one I’d made previously but a spoonful of pre-made/bought sauce will do),
  • 1 heaped tbs of ketchup
  • 1tsp of curry powder
  • 1tbs of the carrot cooking water
  • 1tsp of sweet paprika (dulce)
  • 1tsp lemon juice

To make, simply whizz up the ingredients with a hand blender, transfer to a small saucepan and heat through until all of it has cooked out into a lovely punchy sauce.

To assemble, simply slice the carrots, smother in the sauce and finish with a generous sprinkle of curry powder. Serve with the crispy pommes & a German portion of Vegan mayo. You have to pair a great beer with it, I used a great peach infused Ich Bin Ein Berliner Weiße by Mikkeller, which went great!

Guten Apetit!

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Food: Vegan Jagerschnitzel

Or the full title in German would be: Jagerschnitzel Veganisch (Blumenkohl schnitzel) mit champignons soße und pommes.

After my recent trip to Berlin with Uni, and the fact that Berlin is a vegan oasis- I’ve used this as inspiration make some some vegan schnitzel. This schnitzel uses cauliflower (or in German, Blumenkohl) in place of pork, which gives it some great bite.

 

To make, you’ll need:

  • 1 or 2 heads of cauliflower, cut lengthways into 4 thick steaks
  • 150g plain flour
  • 150g breadcrumbs
  • 200ml soya milk
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp white pepper
  • 1/2tsp mixed spice
  • One bottle of vegetable oil

 

For the sauce:

  • 75g small chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 a large onion, chopped finely
  • 100-200ml soya cream
  • Handful fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1tsp dried thyme
  • 1tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1tbsp garlic oil

 

First start by cutting the heads of cauliflower into steaks. Small heads will only yield two decent sized steaks so I’d recommend getting two. The steaks should be at least 1 and 1/2 cm thick. Prepare your coating area by mixing the breadcrumbs in one tray and then the flour, salt, pepper and mixed spice in the other. Make sure you mix them through and evenly coat the bottom. Pour the milk into a wide bowl and dip the steaks, one at a time, into the milk then the flour mixture. Make sure you get into every nook and cranny – there’s a lot more fiddly surface area to cover on a cauliflower! When each steak is sufficiently covered in the flour mixture, leave on a rack for five minutes while you prepare the first part of the sauce.

Chop the onion and fry over a medium heat in the garlic oil. As they begin to brown add the mushrooms and fry until they begin to soften. Take them off the heat and return to the steaks.

Empty a third of bottle of vegetable oil into a pan wide enough to take the steaks – turn the heat to max and let it heat up while you prepare the next stage. Dip each steak in the milk for a second time and then in the breadcrumbs – remember to thoroughly cover each one, but don’t be tempted to double dip, therein chaos lies!

Test the heat of the oil with a small nugget of leftover cauliflower – when it’s bubbling like crazy and browns quickly, the oil is ready. Turn it down a shade and then lower the first steak into the oil – the browning should only take a minute or two so be ready to take it out. Have a cooling rack ready to take the steaks when they’re done – I used the one from the grill. I put kitchen roll underneath to take the excess oil (there’ll be a fair amount). Repeat the process for the other steaks then put the grill rack, steaks and all, onto a baking tray and bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 140 degrees celsius (fan).

While they’re baking fill your pan with the rest of the oil and return to max heat. When it’s ready deep fry your pommes until golden brown, let them shed their excess oil over kitchen roll then sprinkle liberally with salt  – I used Norður Salt.

Return your mushrooms and onions to the heat and add the soya cream and the mustard. Stir through until everything’s hot and combined. When then steaks are ready they should be golden brown. Poke the thickest part with a knife or skewer – if it goes through easily your steaks are done. Plate up and enjoy with stein of pilsner!

Design & Food: Nordic Berlin: The Nordic influence on the German Capital

Recently I went on a cultural exchange trip to Berlin with University, funded by DAAD. Whilst there I noticed the Nordic influence on the city. Whether it’s my Scandi-obsessed mind I don’t know, but I found many influences from the Northern lands on the German Capital.

Architecture

 

 

It is possible to see the Nordic influence within Berlin,with some of its architectural destinations.

 

The Hansaviertel complex, near the Tiergarten has some of the best examples of mid 20th century architecture in the country, Interbau, a competition devised in 1957, for the world’s best architects to come up with a building each, within the complex. Here, you’ll find buildings from the Scandinavian masters of functionalism; Alvar Aalto, Arne Jacobsen and Kay Fisker, along with other international tour-de-forces such as Oscar Niemeyer, Le Corbusier and the famous Bauhaus school founder, Walter Gropius. In recent years, they have uncovered- and restored, a mural on the pavilion of the Aalto building. This mural, is a wave of sinuous, organic lines, that references his famous piece of design, the Savoy vase- now produced by Iittala.

 

Built in 1999, the Nordic Embassies in Berlin house all the diplomatic buildings of the Nordic countries, shoulder to shoulder. Devised by architects Alfred Berger and Tina Parkkinen, the embassies,- all designed by teams of different architects have been arranged geographically, each one reflecting the qualities of each nation. For instance the use of Milk glass in the Norwegian Embassy, references the glaciers of the Norwegian landscape. The Swedish and Danish Embassies proudly display the materials of their homelands, with the Swedish Embassy using white Gotland limestone, and the Danish Embassy highlighting its use of warm wood, and contrasting cold steel- its trademark materials, made famous internationally. The Icelandic Embassy, features a floor, paved with large lava tiles, which are illuminated below with a red light- giving the impression of the stark, volcanic landscape of the country. The Finnish Embassy, even includes two saunas- a nod to the compulsory national past-time of Finnish life. At the heart of the building complex is the Felleshus, or the Pan Nordic Building- which combines a space for exhibition, conference rooms, canteen, auditoriums- for all of the Embassies- and the general public, too. Using a mixture of Nordic materials, this building, expresses the unity of the Nordic countries.

 

The Nordic influence on Berlin can even be seen in the most German of all buildings; The Reichstag Building, housing the Bundestag. Along with the amazing architecture of Norman Foster, the Danish architect Per Arnoldi designed the concept of all the doors and the protocol room.

 

 

 

Shopping

 

Being a capital, Berlin is a shopping haven. The Scandinavian influence shines no less here, with so many Nordic brands to choose from. If you’re looking for clothes shops, stores such as H&M, COS, ECCO, Monki and Marimekko are for you. Design lover? You’re spoilt for choice with stores such as Scandinavian Objects, Iittala, Bolia and Bo Concept. Not forgetting that the big department store,

KaDeWe, stocking the Scandi favourites such as Normann Copenhagen, HAY, Ferm Living, Design House Stockholm and Georg Jensen.

 

 

 

Food & Drink

If you’re fed up with currywurst and pommes and looking for something a bit more Northern in flavour, then the restaurant Munch’s Haus on Bülowstraße is worth a shout. Serving up Norwegian traditional fair, with a twist, I’d recommend a visit!

 

A place that is equally popular in Berlin, as they are in the Nordic countries, is the humble liquorice shop. Loved by Northern Euopeans alike, these small confectionary shops are where you go for your fix of the black gold, or rather salty, black gold- flavoured with Salmiak ( an ammonium salt). In Berlin, Kadó, is where you go. An institution for 18 years, they stock a variety of liquorice products, from subtle Italian stuff, to the punchy (and tongue numbing) Icelandic and Finnish liquorice.

 

Just fancy something light with a coffee? Then look no further than the Oslo Kaffe Bar, at the Nordic Embassies. Wether you’d like to have a ‘kaffee pause’,‘kaffe og kaker’,‘fika’ or ‘kaffee og kage’, the act of having something small, with a coffee (or tea) and an opportunity to catchup with friends is an institution all over Northern Europe. The Oslo Kaffe Bar is a great place to do it too! Sip a well made latte, and eat buttery, cinnamon filled pastries amongst great pieces of design, such as Jacobsen’s iconic Swan chairs. There’s nothing better, I dare you!
 

 

Miscellaneous

 

A few more Nordic influenced perusings on this trip:

 

When the group and I had an opportunity to bake for students at a school, I noticed their cupboards stocked with Rosti Mepal cookware. They seem to be very popular here. Once two brands, Danish Rosti and Dutch Mepal, the companies were combined in 1976. In 1950 the Swedish Sigvard Bernadotte and the Danish Acton Bjørn designed the Margrethe bowl. This stackable mixing bowl, named Margethe after the queen of Denmark, is now in many homes across Northern Europe and Berlin and is a Design classic.

At the U-bahn station in the Gesundbrunnen district, you’ll find a beguiling sight. Osloer Straße isn’t just named after the Norwegian capital, as architect Rainer G. Rümmler designed the station emblazoned with the Norwegian flag, since its conception in 1973.