Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cooking up some calf's head soup, pawnhaas, tzitterli and streivlin

It's not hard to come across a Pennsylvania Dutch cookbook in southcentral Pennsylvania. You can get them at bookstores, gift shops, farmers' markets and smorgasbords.1

And yard sales. This battered copy of the July 1969 10th printing of "Edna Eby Heller's Dutch Cookbook" cost me a dime at one earlier this summer. (Some might say I overpaid.)

But while it's easy to track down a Pennsylvania Dutch cookbook, how many people actually read them from front to back?

If you read this one, you'll come across words and phrases like schteepers, schnitz un gnepp, pawnhaas, tzitterli, streivlin, lebkuchen, and milich flitche.

These words are not common. Not even on the overflowing highways of the all-knowing Internet. (Though, I will grant, many of them have numerous spelling variants that make them harder to track down.)

As an example of how uncommon some of these terms are, here's how many Google hits some of them had prior to the publication of this blog post:
  • schteepers = 2 hits2
  • tzitterli = 10 hits
  • streivlin = 6 hits
  • milich flitche = 9 hits

Edna states in her preface: "Whenever you hear the call Koom essa, start running, for that is the call to a Pennsylvania Dutch meal where food is good and plentiful."

Now, you might not agree that the sampling of recipes from Edna's book that I'm listing here are exactly what your palate is seeking, but I hope you find the reading of the recipes interesting, because that's half the fun!

Calf's head soup
1 calf's head or veal shin
3 potatoes
1 medium sized onion
½ lb. fresh sausage meat
½ tsp. marjoram
¼ tsp. cloves
¼ tsp. allspice
2 hard cooked eggs
½ cup flour
2 tbsp. butter

Cook the calf's head or shin in 2 qts. of salted water for several hours until quite tender. ... Meanwhile ... Dice the peeled potatoes and onion. ... Cook for 20 minutes. ... Shape sausage into ½ inch balls and fry until brown. ... Make the dough balls as in recipe listed below.3 ... When the meat is tender, remove from broth. ... Cool slightly. ... Take meat off the bones and cut fine. ... To the broth, add the meat, potatoes, sausage balls, spices, chopped eggs and dough balls. ... Lastly, stir in the flour which has been browned in a dry pan over medium heat (stirring constantly) and then mixed to a smooth paste with 1 cup of broth. ... Simmer for five minutes. ... Serves 8.

(The more common spelling is pon haus, but this delicious meat treat is even better known as scrapple.)
3 qts. of broth
2 cups of cooked pork meat (cut fine)
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. sage (if desired)

To make the broth: Boil together one cleaned hog's head, with heart and liver and pieces of pork for several hours. ... Remove the meat from the bones and grind. ... (Some of this can be used to make puddin'.) ... Bring the broth to a boil. ... Into it dribble cornmeal, stirring constantly, until the consistency of mush has been achieved. ... Add meat and seasonings. ... Cook slowly in a heavy kettle or double-boiler, stirring constantly for the first 15 minutes and then frequently for a half hour. ... Pour into loaf pans and three inches deep and keep in a cool place. ... To serve, slice ¼ inch thick and fry in hot fat until brown on both sides.

(Tzitterli, sultz, gallerich and souse are all alternative names for jellied pig's feet. And if I haven't lost you after the first two meat dishes, I fear I might lose you now.)
salt brine
2 pig's feet
1 pork tongue
½ cup vinegar

Make a salt brine strong enough to float an egg. ... In it soak the pig's feet and tongue for ten days or two weeks. ... This gives the meat a nice pink color. ... Drain and boil in clear water several hours until the meat falls off the bones. ... Discard bones, gristle, and skin. ... Cut meat very fine and divide into custard cups. ... Bring broth to a full boil. ... Add vinegar and then pour over the meat. ... Stir and let cool. ... To serve, unmold and slice.

(These are also called Snavely Sticks or Plowlines. Since you have come this far, this final recipe is a change of pace and doesn't contain any questionable pieces of meat.)
1 cup sweet cream
2 eggs
2 tsp. salt
4 cups sifted flour

Beat eggs and add to cream. ... Work in the salt and flour as for noodle dough. ... Roll out ¼ of the dough at a time to a very thin sheet. ... Cut this round of dough into sections 4 or 5 inches wide. ... Cut sections (using a pastry wheel if you have one) into half inch strips, cutting only to one inch of outer edge to leave section intact. ... Fry one or two at a time, depending upon the size of pan, in deep fat. ... Fat should be hot enough to brown a cube of bread in one minute. ... Turning once, fry until the sticks have turned a light brown. Serve warm.

1. Smörgåsbord is a Swedish word with a fascinating etymology. The words for the term in other languages are:
  • koldtbord (Norway)
  • det kolde bord (Denmark)
  • seisova pöytä (Finland)
  • hlaðborð (Iceland)
  • Aukstais galds (Latvia)
  • rootsi laud (Estonia)
Here in southcentral Pennsylvania, the two biggest and most famous smorgasbords are Miller's Smorgasbord Restaurant and Shady Maple Smorgasbord, both in Lancaster County. I can personally recommend both. Highly.
2. The two hits for schteepers, prior to this post, were:
3. Here's the dough ball recipe, so that you can properly finish off the calf's head soup recipe, which I know you are dying to make, if you could only find yourself a calf's head. (Edna, by the way, calls the calf's head soup "extra special" and "a spicy soup, full of meat.")

Dough balls
1 cup flour
½ tsp. salt
3 tbsp. lard
3 tbsp. water

Sift together the flour and salt. ... Cut up the lard in the flour until it is the size of peas. ... Toss lightly in the bowl while adding the water gradually. ... With floured hands, shape into tiny balls, ½ inch in diameter. ... Brown in 2 tbsp. melted butter over heat, turning frequently. ... When nicely browned, add to calf's head soup.

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