Saturday, December 1, 2012

German Cookery by Elizabeth Schuler [Cookbook]

Welcome to yet another cookbook challenge post! The Cookbook Challenge was created by Cynni at She Likes Bento to encourage participants to cook from cookbooks we've had on our shelves for ages but from which we've not yet cooked. I chose five such cookbooks from my shelves and have reviewed them over the last couple of weekends. All of the cookbooks I chose for the challenge are unfortunately no longer in print. Until this one! German Cookery by Elizabeth Schuler is amazingly still available in print! This was a big surprise to me since it was originally published in 1955, revised in 1968 and then more recently published in 1983. Not that recent!

Why I bought this cookbook:
German Cookery is one among a handful of my very first cookbooks that I bought in the first few years of living on my own, fresh out of college. I was 22 years old when I moved into my own apartment. I had very limited cooking experience but a whole lot of ambition. The greatest influences on my passion for cooking have always been my mother and my maternal grandmother. When it comes to German cooking, however, all of my influence comes from my grandmother, or Oma as I called her. She and my Opa had a large kitchen garden that provided fresh herbs and vegetables for many spring and summer meals and I have to admit the most memorable meals from my childhood were definitely eaten at their table--in their cozy kitchen or sprawled out on a large wooden picnic table beneath the shade of the maple tree in their yard. My maternal grandparents immigrated to the United States from Germany in the 1920s when they were just teenagers, separated by a year or two. Upon arriving in New York Harbor, my Oma found work as the live-in cook for a physician and his family. Clearly, cooking has always been her greatest passion and skill. Well, sewing as well, but unfortunately I didn't inherit that one. Needless to say, I purchased German Cookery in hopes of learning how to cook some of my favorite German dishes growing up. My Oma was actually still alive at that time, but already her enthusiasm for cooking had greatly dwindled, as did her memory, so even though I asked for instructions on how to cook my favorites, she had already forgotten most of it. So if you have family members from older generations still alive, ask them for their recipes NOW. Don't wait, because once they're gone.. they're gone forever. I learned this the hard way.

About this cookbook:
According to the introduction in German Cookery, this little cookbook was originally published in Germany as Mein Kochbuch, or My Cookbook, where it has been 'enormously popular.' Based on the style of the recipe instructions, it's pretty obvious this cookbook has been around for a long time. It's still is quite archaic and unfortunately, I don't think it hasn't been revised much as it lacks details that I think today's cooks depend on. You'll see what I mean in the recipes I share below.

Although I'm not an expert on German cooking, the recipes in this cookbook appear to be authentic German recipes. The ingredients and methods of preparation are familiar to me from the many years I spent on extended visits with my German grandparents, watching my Oma prepare family meals and desserts. Recipes in the cookbook are categorized by courses--Egg Dishes, Sandwiches, Appetizers, Soups, Fish, Poultry, Meat, Dumplings, Potatoes, Vegetables, Salads, Sauces, Luncheon Dishes and Other Specialties, Desserts and Sweets, Yeast Baking, Deep Fat Baking, Cakes, Tarts and Christmas Cakes and Candies. I love how certain foods get entire chapters dedicated to them such as dumplings, potatoes--even yeast baking and deep fat baking have separate chapters. Serious baking takes place in a German kitchens--especially during the Christmas season. There's a special chapter just for those treats as well.

I made two recipes from German Cookery for dinner one night this week, both of which turned out okay. Of course, I'm comparing these recipes and my own cooking skills to my Oma's and honestly... I don't think anything can compare. She set the bar pretty high. While my all time favorite meal of my Oma's was her Sauerbrauten with softball sized Potato dumplings or Gekochte Kartoffelklousse, I didn't attempt them this time. Instead, I chose to make my second favorite German beef dish, Beef Rouladen or Rindrrouladen with Spätzle, which are homemade egg dumplings or noodles. I served these two dishes with a simple side dish of sauteed Savoy cabbage with sweet onions.

Beef Rouladen with Spätzle
and sauteed cabbage
Beef Rouladen {Rinderrouladen} 
4 thin slices of beef
salt and pepper
4 slices bacon
1 onion
1 tablespoon parsley
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup water extra flour
2 tablespoons cream
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons beef stock

Pound beef slices and rub with salt and pepper. Cut up bacon, chop onion and parsley and mix all with mustard. Spread this on beef slices and roll up tightly. Tie with string. Dip rolls in flour and fry in butter to brown all sides. Add water and stew for 30 minutes. When water has evaporated, turn rolls once again. Remove, untie and place on hot platter. To "Bratensatz"* in pan, add flour, cream, seasonings and beef stock to make gravy. Pour over meat.
       Serves 4.

*I believe "Bratensatz" means to deglaze the browned bits in the pan to make a gravy.

Making homemade spätzle for the first time! 
4 cups flour
3 eggs
1 cup water
1 tablespoon salt

Prepare firm dough from the flour, eggs, water and salt. Beat until it comes easily away from the sides of the bowl. Form dumplings and cook in boiling salted water. Skim them out, dip in cold water and serve on a hot platter. Spätzle may also be browned lightly in butter before serving. A favorite accompaniment to meat and vegetables.
      Serves 4.

It would have been nice if the instructions for the spätzle had a bit more detail on the consistency of the dough. I had no idea if my dough was too wet or dense enough, so I didn't adjust. My family ate everything and there were no leftovers, so I guess it was successful. I made a few notes on what I might do differently next time, particularly with the Rouladen, but it was pretty good for a first attempt. No where near as good as Oma's, but good enough.

I plan to try a few more of the recipes, although I'll likely look online for similar recipes and then tweak the ones from this cookbook as I go along. I'd love to make the big potato dumplings with roast beef and gravy over the winter. I'm curious to see my family will love the Gekochte Kartoffelklosse as much as I did when I was a kid.

I'd give German Cookery 3 out of 5 stars on goodreads for "I liked it."


To take a peak inside German Cookery by Elizabeth Schuler, visit the cookbook's amazon page on the following link and then click on the image to Look Inside:

Have you ever had German food before? What's your favorite dish or dessert? 
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Cookbook Challenge runs through the end of November, so if you'd like to join in, visit Cynni's sign up post HERE. Hope to see you cooking from a much neglected cookbook on your shelves soon!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Weekend Cooking, a weekly blog event hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food related post to share--a food related book review (fiction or nonfiction), cookbook review, movie review, a recipe, random thoughts, gadgets, food quotations, photographs, etc. Please visit Beth's blog for more information and join the fun! 

Note: your post does not have to be posted on the weekend, but do visit Beth's blog over the weekend to link up your post. 


  1. I have never tried making spätzle. Yours looks really good.

  2. Your spätzle looks so good! I've had German food in restaurants but haven't tried to make my own.

    Joy's Book Blog

  3. Loved hearing about your grandmother's cooking. Your meal looks yummy. It's been years since I had any spatzle!

  4. Wow. My husband's German grandparents also emigrated to Brooklyn, after WWI. They opened a restaurant in Brooklyn where my late mother-in-law was born. Later they moved to Old Tappan and operated a very successful restaurant into the 1950s. My husband's Oma did all of the cooking and of course my MIL learned from her. Whenever my MIL came to visit she would make a huge batch of rouladen; we'd eat some of it and freeze the rest--to be enjoyed after her visit. OMG that stuff was good! We cheated and used the boxed spaetzle, though.

    And no, I'm not remotely tempted to make my own rouladen :)

  5. I've ever tried making my own German food, but this cookbook sure would help!

  6. I had spätzle a few times at a restaurant that has long since closed. I loved it. I would love to try to make it sometime.

  7. I've never had German food. Though the recipes you tried do sound intriguing. (My Grandparents were Scottish, so I can make shortbread and oatcakes. *g*) I think it's great you tried some recipes that your Oma made. Part of remembering tastes from childhood include the family members and your love for them, so don't feel bad if you didn't enjoy it as much.

  8. What a great post. My grandmothers were both excellent cooks and bakers. I doubt I come close to their skills. Your spatzle looks awesome.

  9. My mother-in-law's family is German, but other than German potato salad, they just don't seem to have that much of a food tradition. I would love to try making spatzle.

  10. I can't say that I have had German food . Some baking from a neighbour when I was little, very tasty cookies, but that was so long ago. my brother in law is german, but his cooking is more of whatever is on hand. Thanks for the enjoyable post.

  11. You made the Spätzle on your own, from scratch? Awesome! We had some this summer while we were in Germany. Gotta say I prefer regular pasta, LOL... but it was good to try!


Leave a comment! I love to hear what YOU think.
[I apologize, but I've had to disallow anonymous users to comment on my blog due to an influx of spam. I'll change it back as soon as I can. Thanks for understanding.]