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Dec 10, 2009 11:09 AM

Eastern/Central European Comfort Food Favorites

Baby, it's cold outside!

Sometimes you really need a good dose of sour cream or salted pork to get the proper layer of fat built up for winter.

What are your favorite hearty Eastern/Central European foods and dishes when the weather cools down? Memories...better

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  1. Shchi is the classic cabbage soup from Russia, and it will warm your cockles (among other things) on a cold winter's night.

    Beer-and-onion braised sausages with a tart German potato salad and a loaf of pumpernickel will put you to rights. Particularly when accompanied by a nice, dark beer.

    And, of course, fondue is unbeatable. Is there a more convivial dish known to man? Perfect for fellowiship on a blustery eve, even if you don't own your own Alpine chalet.

    1. Smoked sausages on a bed of braised cabbage and noodles comes to mind, as does chicken paprikash w/ speatzle.
      A soup with of wild mushrooms and game is also welcome of cold evenings.

      1. Yay! Loving this thread.

        My Babcia's chicken noodle soup with kluski (drop dumplings) -- fantastic...
        Barley soup, too, and of course the ubiquitous cabbage soup; all things cabbage, in fact.

        Hearty cabbage rolls and patyckzi -- pork shoulder and veal cubes, skewered, breaded, fried, then baked... Oh lord. Diet food, it ain't, but when it tastes that good, who cares? ;)

        Sauerkraut stew with onions and pork, or whatever meat is around... yummy baked kugel (my grandmother's version was always just grated potatoes, an egg, butter, bacon... I've never had any kugel with noodles or other ingredients -- I can't even imagine it!)

        Ooh, what else? Pierogi, of course... tossed with butter, a sprinkling of salt, and honestly if there is one food I could eat for the rest of my life and not get sick of, I'm sure that would be it. ;)

        Lately I've had a hankering for potato pancakes! Gotta add that to my list of "must-makes"...

        My grandmother's fantastic pork roast... mustard-glazed, SO simple but meltingly tender and soooo good.

        Making myself hungry here!

        7 Replies
        1. re: Whats_For_Dinner

          Could you elaborate on the cabbage soup? I have some braised cabbage (with carrots and onions) that needs to be recycled into a more appealing (to me) dish.

          1. re: ChristinaMason

            Oh, it's suuuper-simple -- the kind of tihng that's not so much a "recipe" as "put stuff in a pot" -- but I guess that's true of so many of these "old-country" recipes.
            My grandmother used to start with (preferably pork, but beef works) bones, ribs maybe -- whatever's accessible -- make the stock, in goes the cabbage (onion at this point, too, and a clove of garlic) -- a bit of caraway seed, salt, pepper, and let it do its thing for an hour or so.
            Usually thickened a bit with a beurre manie, if I remember correctly, and you can add the meat back at the end (or a bit of diced kielbasa or some such.)
            Childhood comfort food -- no gourmet fare maybe, but warms the soul.

            Love the Hungarian site you posted below -- that pecan-butter pretzel sounds too good to be true!

            1. re: Whats_For_Dinner

              I found another great site, this one a cooking blog on Central European cuisine. It's a good read, so I had to share:

              I especially liked this article on goulash:

              1. re: ChristinaMason

                oh.. thanx for the nice words... soon we are moving into US so we will have a new challenge. we will have to cook Central European food with US ingredients.

                1. re: emperorscrumbs

                  That's the fun and trouble of being a globetrotter. :)

          2. re: Whats_For_Dinner

            May we please learn details of the mustard-glazed pork roast too? It sounds very original and interesting.

            1. re: Joebob

              I'll ask my grandmother tomorrow -- if she'll tell me!

              Cool blog, too, Christina! I've got an interesting evening of reading ahead of me.

          3. Sztrapacska which are dumplings similar to Nokedli (spatzle) but made of grated potatoes and flour. They are tossed with bacon bits and cottage cheese and then fried a bit more in the bacon fat.

            1. I'm a fan of Semmelknoedel, or Austrian bread dumplings, which started out as a creative way stretch stale bread. Here's a recipe I've had success with (dumplings only; haven't tried the sauce):


              The ingredients are really simple:

              200 g (7 oz) dry white bread or 6 1-day-old rolls (Brötchen
              )about 200mL (6.8 fl oz) lukewarm milk
              freshly ground black pepper
              freshly ground nutmeg
              1 onion
              1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley
              1 T butter
              2-3 eggs
              flour or breadcrumbs