Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cook Club: Cooking the Austrian Way

Bacon Bread

Highest Scoring Dishes: Cooked Potato Salad, Trout Vienna Style, and Tomato Baskets
Lowest Scoring Dishes:
Paprika Chicken and Broccoli Salad with Bacon

For March/April Cook Club, we decided to bring in spring with a taste of Austria!  Elaine headed up Cook Club this time and selected a cookbook that she received from her Austrian future mother-in-law.  The cookbook -- Cooking the Austrian Way by Helga Hughes -- is filled with "traditional" Austrian recipes for all sorts of occasions.  We had some hits and some misses, with presentation of the dishes often outweighing the taste of the food.  For the most part, these recipes were straight forward and easy to follow.  Check out below for all the reviews!


Breaded Veal (Wiener Schnitzel) Michelle's Breaded Veal (Wiener Schnitzel)
Scores: Mich: 2.5 and Joe: 3.5 = 3.0

The texture was good. I'd use this general process to bread stuff in the future (dipping it in flour, then egg, then the bread crumbs), but it just didn't have enough flavor for me. I used panko bread crumbs, because I'm partial to them and I find they're a little bit lighter. I'm not sure if the veal is different over here or what, but it just wasn't a very flavorful dish. I thought the lemon wedges would add a lot of flavor, but they really didn't add anything. I don't think I'd make this dish again.  Joe thought the breading was bland, and apparently I didn't cook it long enough (it could have been crispier). So his score was higher than mine, but I'm not sure why. Haha.

Lisa W's Paprika Chicken
Score: 1.0

My husband and I were deeply disappointed with the outcome of this dish. However, I do believe that this recipe has the potential to be delicious.  The sauce recipe was great, but the chicken recipe was not specific enough.  For example, it did not specify what part of the chicken to use.  I incorrectly chose boneless/skinless breasts, which rendered the dish dry.  Also, after breading the chicken in flour, the recipe requires drizzling of lemon juice over the chicken.  However, this caused the flour to clump together, therefore not cooking properly.  Because of this, the dish was not edible.  If you choose to make this, use bone-in chicken and do not drizzle with lemon juice. 

Anjali's Trout Vienna Style
Score: 4.0

So I've never cooked trout and thought this would be a good challenge. The recipe itself was very straightforward. And involved lots of butter! I rarely cook with butter so I had a hang up with this (I try to eat healthy!), but let's be honest...everything is better with butter. I found this dish very easy to make and it tasted great! The buttery, toasted almonds; the buttery fish; and the lemon to cut the fat. Our dinner party guests all enjoyed the dish! Overall, I would give the fish a 4.0 and I will definitely make it again!

Side Dishes

Austrian Potato SaladJackie's Cooked Potato Salad
Score: 5.0

Every year for Easter dinner, Mr. J's family always has potato salad as part of our meal.  So, when I saw this cooked potato salad as one of the possible cook club recipes, I went for it!  Although I was a little bit nervous to deviate from the usual potato salad that we would have, I am so glad I did -- this was delicious.  The recipe is really straight forward and took about an hour to put together (including cook time).  The dressing was made of (turkey) bacon, onions, spicy brown mustard, apple vinegar, chicken bouillon (the cubes dissolved in hot water), black pepper, and sour pickles ...  (I added a touch of olive oil when I sauteed the bacon and onions (to prevent sticking)) -- hurray for finding a potato salad that didn't use mayonnaise!  The result was a slightly creamy and flavorful potato salad.  I was really happy with the results and it received raved reviews at Easter dinner.   Definitely will make again!

Lisa W's Broccoli Salad with Bacon
Score: 1.0

This dish was extremely easy to prepare.  However, my husband and I did not like the flavor of apple cider vinegar, which is why it was scored so low.   If you like apple cider vinegar, then you will probably like this dish.  

Red Cabbage with ApplesAnjali's Red Cabbage with Apples
Score: 3.75

Again, I wanted to choose something unfamiliar so as to expand my culinary horizons, and after the success of Amanda's Tyler Florence braised cabbage, this seemed like a great pick! The dish was very straightforward. I will admit, I added a little more sugar and vinegar than was called for, but I really think I happened to have a large head of cabbage that required more seasoning. I think everyone enjoyed it and I will probably make this again. :) I give this dish a 3.75.

Tomato BasketsLisa H's Tomato Baskets
Score: 4

I think this was a good dish, but I would recommend using fresh summer tomatoes.  I used partially ripe winter tomatoes.  It was really easy to make.  These would be a great summertime side dish.  I would give this four stars.  (Also scored by Anjali: Presentation = 4.5, Actual taste = 3.25)

Elaine's Sweet Souffle
Score: 3.0

This soufflé was easy enough to make as there were so few ingredients but I found it lacked much flavor. Perhaps it is meant to be a dessert for those without much of a sweet tooth. I really liked the sweet crunchy top from the last sprinkling of sugar before baking, but would definitely add way more vanilla extract next time into the batter. Might consider adding some other more interesting flavors next time such as blood orange or lime.

Breakfast / Breads

Jelly RollJackie's Jelly Rolls
Score: 2.5

So, I think I made a few missteps along the way with making the jelly rolls.  You would think with only really four ingredients this would have gone off flawlessly...  The jelly rolls call for frozen uncooked rolls -- I was worried about finding these, but I actually found them in my local grocery store in the freezer aisle.  They basically looked like little frozen rounded cubes of dough -- excellent!  The recipe also calls for certain set periods of time for letting the dough defrost/thaw (3 hours) and rise (2.5 hours at 180 degrees).  I think this is where I went astray!  I let my dough thaw for way too long, so that it started to rise in the packaging (oops, next time, take the dough chunks out of the packaging first!) ... the dough then was all stuck together so I couldn't actually tell where each roll began and ended.  Then I stuck it in a 180 degree oven covered with a towel (as the recipe says, non-terry cloth) for about 2 hours.  This was apparently too long (seeing as that my dough had already spent time rising outside of the oven) or perhaps too high heat because the dough actually started to bake.  I continued to truck on forward though, added some jam to the middle of the dough, baked again, and voila, the finished product.  Due to all the rising and over baking, these turned out a bit... hard on the outside, but still soft-ish on the inside.  Mr. J thought they were pretty good.  I think I would try these again, but instead, I would follow the instructions that accompany the frozen rolls for thawing purposes and keep better time on everything!

Lisa H's Cinnamon and Almond Snails
Score: 3 

I should first start with the fact that I have a really hard time following directions. I got in trouble a lot when I was in elementary school. Anywho, I tried really hard to follow the recipe, but it started to go south when I left the dough in the oven at 200 degrees. It cooked the dough and didn’t let it rise correctly the last time. I cooked them anyway and put the sugar mixture in. They had a great flavor. We served them with ice cream. I would make them again. I would give this a 3 star, because the recipe was so hard to follow.  (Anjali also scored this dish with 3.75)

Bacon BreadAmanda's Bacon Bread
Scores: Appearance: 5/ Flavor: 2.5 = 3.75

I gave this dish 2 scores because I thought the bread was very pretty once it was baked, but somewhat lacking in flavor. I chose this recipe because I have not ever baked bread from scratch and wanted to give it a try (the recipe was also chosen due to a weakness for bacon). While the entire process was a learning experience, I was disappointed with the flavor...maybe I should have put more bacon down inside the dough. The first time I kneaded the dough, it seemed very sticky, so I added flour to it, as the recipe instructed, which could have hurt the flavor as well. All in all, I'm so glad I tried this recipe! Bread baking is no longer intimidating, and I would like to try this recipe again soon!  (Anjali also tasted the bacon bread and scored it: presentation = 4.5, actual taste = 3.25, average score = 3.875)

Thanks to everyone who participated in the March/April Cook Club!  Look out for the next Cook Club review in early July!

No comments: