Sunday, 13 March 2016

Meal 58. Austrian Mohnnudeln, Marillenknödeln and Fritatensuppe

Tanja frying up the dumplings!
Tanja is one of the super qualified interns at the Institute of Zoology where I work now, with an MSc in Nature Conservation. We chatted at some after work drinks about the 'sweet meals' she remembers fondly from boarding school and she offered to make an approximation before she moves on to a new job in Cambridge. Like quite a few of the blog hosts, she has eaten these dishes often, but not prepared them more than a few her mum has specially scanned copies of the relevant pages of her recipe book for the occasion!
She is vegetarian, so the famous Wiener schnitzel will not make an appearance tonight. I heard from the girlfriend of another Austrian friend that the preparation of this breaded pork dish can 'aromatise' the house for hours, if not days.
Instead, Tanja has been shopping, and slaving away in the kitchen for a few hours prior to my arrival to prep for three different veggie dishes.
Fritatensuppe (Pancake soup)
She confesses the Fritatensuppe starter is 'super easy', it's just sliced pancakes in broth and a great use for leftover pancakes. You roll then up and slice them finely, place them in a shallow bowl in a decorative way, then pour over the hot broth. The little curls in the dish look very attractive. She actually does make this regularly, as opposed to the dumpling recipes we will be having for the main course.
Mohnnudeln before they are fried
There are two types of potato based dumplings on the menu tonight: the Mohnnudeln which I can only describe as slug shaped gnocchi: potato dough steamed, fried in butter and covered in poppy seed with a bit of powdered sugar, then served with a fruity sauce. Tanja was planning to have it with plum sauce, but ended up buying a tin of prunes. I have an irrational dislike of prunes after ordering ice cream with chopped up prunes in Vienna more than ten years ago...something about the texture just freaked me out. In a sauce I would probably love them, but in this case, Tanja runs out of time to make a the prune sauce and opts to serve it with strawberry jam made by her grandmother, which is an honour. The jar looks pretty professional, with a store-bought 'Made by Granny' label on the home-made jam.
Prepping the Marillenknödeln

There is something of a guilty pleasure about eating this sweet dish as the main course, and I can imagine the excitement of being at boarding school as a teenager and looking forward to the Wednesday evening delicacies. Tanja says most people will know this dish either from their grandmother or from typical restaurants or ski huts. When she was young she did not actually like the poppyseeds. However, she has started to appreciate them as she grew older and is very happy she could buy a decent sized bag of the seeds at the supermarket down the street in her London neighbourhood of Walthamstow.
The Marillenknödeln use the same potato dough as a base, but involve wrapping it around plums or apricots, adding bit of sugar, then rolling it in breadcrumbs and frying it in butter, a crucial step! Tanja has prepared some bread by drying slices out in the oven. We struggle for a bit trying to come up with an easy solution to make the slices into crumbs, till we hit upon the great idea of making them quickly with a stick blender.
Marillenknödeln in back, Mohnnudeln with jam in foreground
As the dishes near completion, I help set the table and Tanja's British flatmate Ed, a jazz saxophonist, is summoned to join us. Once he sits down, he warily eyes the dishes on offer and slyly asks;"Is there anything green on the menu?!" But no, this is a child's dream, a SWEET DINNER without any vegetables. Though I guess the fruit does count as some of your '5 a day' servings the nutritionists recommend. It is worth noting they would not have this kind of meal every evening in Austria either! As Ed has a sensitive stomach, he eats carefully rationed portions to prevent abdominal agony later on. The food is delicious, and I eat till nothing more fits in. I do feel lucky that I can eat food that is stodgy, fatty, fibrous, spicy etc. without having to take into account how it will make my body feel later! 
Marillenknödeln with apricots and plums in the middle 

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