I’ve been preparing for this meal all week. Literally. Thankfully, my brother-in-law caught a deer this year and had a bunch of it ground and some cut up into steaks. So, I was able to get a couple steaks off of them, and my sister threw in a couple tubes of ground deer as well. I started marinating the deer on Tuesday, so hopefully after almost a week, it should be good and tender.
|This is probably one of the best parts of the meal. Who doesn't love cookies? To be honest, we ate them all up.|
Today we’re cooking food from Liechtenstein. It was kind of difficult to find an actual bread recipe from this country posted online. So, I expanded out a little bit and found a traditional Christmas cookie recipe instead that was posted on the embassy website. (Because the last day of January is not too late for Christmas cookies.) I went with a type of butter cookie called mailänderli. I made the dough by creaming one stick of butter until it was smooth and then adding in about 2/3 c sugar and 2 eggs, beating it until it was light and fluffy, more or less. In a separate bowl, I mixed in 2 c of flour and a pinch of salt. I gradually poured in my flour to the butter and mixed until it was the consistency of a dough. Then I put it into the refrigerator to chill for a couple of hours (it’s best to let it sit overnight, but I forgot). When it was time to bake, I rolled my dough out so that it was about an 1/8” to a ¼” thick. I let my son use a star cookie cutter to cut out shapes (do you know how hard it is to find cookie cutters after Christmas?) and put them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Then I let him lightly brush each cookie with an egg wash (1 egg yolk plus 2 Tbsp water). These went into a 375ºF oven for about 8-10 minutes. I left them in there an additional 2 minutes and they were perfect. It had been so long since I have made cookies from scratch, but these turned out just fine. I think it’s also a good basic butter cookie recipe. There are so many possibilities of adding in other ingredients (I think it would be good with a little almond extract.). The egg wash gave it a nice smooth, slightly firm top, but the cookie itself was soft and flavorful.
|Actually, these were pretty good. I thought the asparagus ones were good.|
This side dish is probably best as an appetizer. I read that they use asparagus a lot, but I couldn’t find any definitive recipe using it. I did find a mention in one article of asparagus canapé. I did manage to find one recipe of an asparagus canapé; I don’t think it’s from Liechtenstein, but we can pretend it is for all intents and purposes. For this, I mixed together some blue cheese crumbles, some chive and onion cream cheese, and a little bit of heavy whipping cream. (I left the walnuts out.) Then in a small skillet, I heated some butter and sautéed a little bit of shallots before adding in my asparagus, salt, and pepper. On bruschetta toast, I spread a little of the cheese mixture and topped it with the asparagus mixture, garnishing it with a little lemon zest. Because my husband hates asparagus, I also made one with mixed mushrooms (crimini, shiitakes, and oyster mushrooms) and garlic sautéed in a little olive oil and Worcestershire sauce. The kids liked the mushroom ones better, and my husband—who made a big deal about hating asparagus—actually thought the asparagus ones were better.
|Um, not so good. The flavor was there, the texture was not.|
Next, I decided to go with Käsknöpfle. I made a very similar dish for Austria, but because this was always the first recipe mentioned on anything related to Liechtensteiner cuisine, I felt inclined to include it. In a bowl, I poured in my flour and salt. In a separate bowl, I beat 5 eggs with some water, adding this to the flour mixture and mixing it to form a dough. I added a little water to thin it out since it looked too thick. In a small skillet, I fried my onions in oil for about 10 minutes until they were caramelized, and set aside when they were finished. At the same time, I boiled my water with a pinch of salt. When it was ready to go, I poured my batter through a colander into my boiling water. It globbed all up and didn’t drain through the holes of the colander like I thought it would. It wasn’t very appealing looking, and I wasn’t even sure how to tell if it were done. I tried to drain it and placed it in a bowl and then added my grates Swiss cheese to it. (The recipe called for Gruyère cheese, and I actually found some, but it was far more expensive than I could work into my budget.) I stirred in the grated cheese into the hot pasta to melt it and then topped it with the caramelized onions. While it didn’t look appetizing, I didn’t think it tasted bad. It was almost the consistency of creamed corn or something. My son thought it was good. It was just so-so in my book.
|Seriously, I know it's bad for you, but fried potatoes and bacon are my favorites.|
The next side dish I made was called alpine rosti. I started this by cutting up a couple slices of bacon into small pieces and frying it, setting it off to the side when it was done. Then I peeled and grated two potatoes and mixed in the bacon into the shredded potatoes. (I supposed I could’ve just bought some frozen hash browns perhaps and saved myself a little time. Probably wouldn’t have tasted the same, though.) Then I added in some salt and pepper. In a skillet, I melted some butter and formed patties with the potatoes and fried them until they were brown, flipping them and frying the other side as well. When they were done, I removed them and sprinkled a little of the grated Swiss cheese on top to let it melt while it was still hot. Some people make this as a stand-alone dish and serve it with a fried egg on top, but since I’m serving this as a side dish, I left the egg off. Although I think it would make for a great breakfast idea. I liked this side dish. It was probably my favorite part. It needed a lot more bacon in it, though.
|My husband has been letting me know off and on for the past hour how sour this was and not to ever make this gravy again.|
Finally for the main dish: jugged venison. I took out my venison from the refrigerator that had been in there for the past five days and drained the marinade into a separate bowl, letting the meat drain for a couple of hours. (I did this first before making the cookie dough.) When I was ready, I heated some oil in a pot to sear the meat with a little salt. Then I strained the marinade through a cheesecloth-lined colander. Meantime, I fried the rest of the mirepoix vegetables in a little oil and added it to my seared meat to fry together before pouring in the marinade and letting it simmer for about an hour. While that was cooking down, it was time to make the red wine gravy. The recipe actually calls to make this with pig’s blood, but I’m pretty sure that’s difficult to find. In fact, I didn’t even try to find it. So, I’m modifying my recipe and using a cup of cabernet sauvignon, a little bit of apple cider vinegar, seasoning it with salt and pepper and thickening it with flour. It turned a lovely plum color but was sour. When the meat is done, I scooped out the meat and set it on a plate, serving the meat topped with some of the gravy. The meat was fine, really tender and had a nice flavor. It had certainly been a while since I’ve made any venison. But the red wine gravy was too much. First, it was too sour (perhaps the pig’s blood would’ve cut it?). Second, the meat still had a wine flavor to it anyway. I think it would’ve been better with a different kind of gravy instead. I may have to figure out a way to modify this tomorrow.
|Overall, this meal was about 50/50. But I could make it better. So, maybe next time.|
I learned a lot about this tiny country. Well, seeing how I didn’t know hardly anything about it at all when I started, everything was fairly new. I now have a couple new bands I’m going to listen to this week. I say new, but I mean new-to-me. And although my feet are tired, I spent my Sunday afternoon doing exactly what I love: cooking, watching Classic Dr. Who episodes (since Netflix is dropping it from streaming in the US, and I’m not a British citizen, although I would like to be for other reasons not related to Dr. Who.), and just being with my family. No one had to go anywhere, no one had anything pressing to do, and the weather was warmer. It was the perfect Sunday, even if dinner was partially meh. But at least there are cookies.