Its Good Friday and I am living up to my family's tradition of eating fish today. There are so many great fish recipes out there and I have quite a collection of my own, but in keeping with my plan to stay light this week leading up to the Easter Sunday Feast, I decided to make a cold plate supper which in Germany we call simply: Brotzeit, which translates into time for bread.
When I grew up in Germany we had our fair share of Brotzeit - often for breakfast and supper. Germans like to have their main meal, usually a hot entree at lunch time, unlike our culture here. It does make sense to me to not eat a big heavy meal in the evening when we tend to be less active. But cultures vary and that's what makes life interesting. One of the main things I like about Brotzeit is the ritual of taking time (Zeit means time) to sit and enjoy a meal with family or friends.
Many a conversation evolved around our table over Brotzeit, ranging from what happened at work or school that day to interesting new friends recently made, to who's dating who, the next holiday plans forged and even some confessions made...taking time to enjoy a good meal in the company of my loved ones, is a memory I cherish.
Prep time is minimal for Brotzeit, as most ingredients come from the market, grocer or delicatessen - did you know that delicat essen means to eat delicately or in a fine manner? These shops, or delis as we know them evolved as the Taj Mahal of fine foods for the aristocracy in earlier days. Delis provided those with money with the finer things in life, like imported goods and the freshest meats and cheeses, as well as sauces and condiments not available at the regular supermarket.
Clean-up is equally as easy, as there are no pots and pans to wash, which was huge for me growing up - we did not have an electric dishwasher and I certainly believed that I had far more important things to do than stick around and scrub pots after supper...
This version of Brotzeit is based on popular ingredients I savoured in my German culture, but I often prepared this type of cold platter style dinner with other ethnic ingredients as well. I will post on this again later using Mediterranean ingredients and a combination of Asian and South-East Asian goodies. Stay tuned...!
Recipes for a traditional Brotzeit
Beets are one of my favourite vegetables. With their bright red colour and sweet, earthy flavour, how can they not be good for us? Beets are a good source of vitamin C, iron, magnesium, fiber, folate, potassium and manganese. My recipe is one of the easiest you'll find for a quick pickled beet
Pickled Beets (Eingelegte Rote Beeten)
3 large beets, boiled, cooled, peeled and cut into small dice
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 Tbsp pure cane sugar (unrefined)
1 Tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp red onion, chopped
Bunch fresh dill
Whisk together vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved. Combine beets, onions and dill in a serving bowl; add dressing and toss to coat.; let rest for at least 1 hour. Sprinkle with additional dill before serving. Serves 4-6.
This recipe was adapted from the more commonly known 'devilled egg', except instead of making a filling out of the yolks, the eggs are simply bathed in a reduced fat garlicy green dressing. Yum!
Eggs With Green Sauce (Eier Mit Gruener Sosse)
6 hard boiled eggs, cooled and halved
Ingredients for Sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup dill
1/4 cup chives
1/4 cup parsley
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Arrange egg halves, yolk side up on small platter. Spoon sauce over eggs. Garnish with chopped parsley. Makes 12.
This is one of my Oma's original recipes for a quick and easy sandwich filling or topping. In keeping things light in the dressing, the flavour of the shrimp remains the star.
Fresh Shrimp With Mayo Dressing (Krabben Salat)
1 pound fresh, hand peeled shrimp (rinsed and well drained)
Half of a fresh squeezed lemon
2-3 Tbsp mayonnaise
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Place shrimp in a bowl. Add mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Toss to blend. Garnish with fresh dill sprig. Serve on rye bread or crackers.
To complete your cold platter supper (Brotzeit), serve an assortment of your favourite fine cheeses, smoked salmon, trout or mackerel, pickled herring, assorted pickles, a variety of mustards, such as stone ground, sweet and Dijon, fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, radishes and cucumbers, as well as an assortment of breads and buns. And don't forget the cold beer!