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Viennese Ball (May 6, 2002)

Ah, Vienna...We hadn't thought of Austria in a long time, and then, just a few days ago, three delightful new cookbooks came across our desk. Next in the mail was an invitation from the Austrian Wine Marketing Board to come and taste their wonderful wines. Clearly this was a story waiting in the wings!

We think food first, and have had a Viennese Ball looking into ideas and recipes. Our first stop was with our good friend and colleague, Thelma Barer Stein, and her seminal book, You Eat What You Are. If it is eaten by someone anywhere in the world, Dr. Stein knows the where, how and why of the dish. She told us what the Austrians are eating today, so we put together a menu that we hope you'll enjoy as much as we did!

The Austrians love pork, and we found a fabulous recipe that surely they will be wolfing down today! The source isn't Austrian, it's American, The Foster's Market Cookbook, by Sara Foster, and it's possibly the best and most exciting new cookbook we've seen in a long time. Foster trained and worked with Martha Stewart, cooked at New York's famed SoHo Charcuterie and went on to work with Jonathan Waxman when he moved east from California. Sara Foster is a great cook, and you'll wonder how you ever made do without The Foster's Market Cookbook in your kitchen!

Then along came another delightful collection, Cooking From the Hip, by the young and very talented German-Canadian Chef Olaf Mertens. He was apprenticing under great chefs before he could vote, led Team Canada to a medal in the Epicurean World Master Chefs' Society International banqueting competition, and according to his colleagues, "His touch with food is like butter-smooth and rich and truly a necessity to any great dish." HIP, by the way, is Mertens' acronym for Hospitality-Inspired People, a collection of like-minded food geniuses dedicated to mastering new ideas, updating old concepts and share it all with their customers in their restaurants.

One of our favourites, The Chez Piggy Cookbook, always has a recipe we want, whatever the culinary heritage, and indeed it proved its worth again. No wonder the eponymous restaurant in Kingston, begun in 1979, is still going strong!

Nobody does grand finales better than the Austrians, and indeed Rick Rodgers' new Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague bears this out. This is a beautiful book, with great photographs and recipes plus the long and fascinating history of those glorious pastry cafés from the capital cities of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Years ago, our first Austrian phrase was "Mit Schlagobers, bitte," or "Of course I want that rich dessert piled with whipped cream," and it so aptly sums up all those decadent, rich, sinful confections, the ultimate treats so perfect with dark roasted coffee.

Ah, Vienna indeed! Sigh.

On today's menu:

Download these recipes in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (278 KB)

Roast Pork Tenderloin with Dried Cherries and Rosemary

Thelma Barer Stein states that pork is a favoured meat, accompanied by a rich gravy or sauce. This version comes from The Foster's Market Cookbook, and we know in our hearts that even the most traditional Austrian would love the tender pork loin bathed in a fragrant cherry-rosemary marinade.

2 1-pound pork tenderloins (1 kg)
1/2 cup dried cherries (125 mL)
1/3 cup dry red wine (75 mL)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (50 mL)
3/4 cup good quality, all natural cranberry juice or unfiltered apple juice (175 mL)
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 shallots, cut in half lengthwise
3 Tbsp fresh rosemary (50 mL) or 3 tsp dried (15 mL)
2 Tbsp olive oil (30 mL)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

2. Rinse the pork loin, pat dry and place in a shallow glass or ceramic-baking dish. Set aside.

3. Whisk together the cherries, wine, vinegar, cranberry juice, garlic, shallots, and rosemary in a bowl. Pour this mixture over the pork, cover, and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours or overnight, turning the pork several times.

4. Heat the olive oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Remove the pork from the marinade (reserve the marinade) and place the pork in the heated skillet. Cook the pork on all sides, 5 to 6 minutes total time, until light brown.

Accompanying wine?
Tony Recommends...

You can go either white or red with this dish. Medium-bodied dry white or medium-bodied dry red. If you want to stick to the Austrian idiom, try a Grüner Veltliner (Smaragd quality) or a Riesling from Undhof-Salomon, Bründlmayer or the Freie Weingärtner. For reds, an Austrian Blauburgunder. In general terms, an Alsace or Oregon Pinot Gris or – red – Moulin-ŕ-Vent (Beaujolais) or red Burgundy.

5. Pour the reserved marinade over the pork and place the skillet in the oven. Roast, basting several times, 20 to 25 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 150–155°F (65°C) for medium, or 160°F, about 5 minutes longer, for medium well. The meat will be a very light pink colour. (Note: the pork will continue to cook after it is removed from the oven.)

6. Remove the pork from the baking dish and place on a grooved carving board. Cover the pork loosely and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before carving.

7. Season with salt and pepper. Slice into 1/4-inch (5 mm) pieces and spoon the pan juice over the pork. Serve immediately.

Variations: Dried cranberries or raisins can be substituted for the dried cherries.

Olaf's Schnitzel Stack

What else? From Cooking From the Hip, and we promise this isn't just any old schnitzel, this one is Olaf Mertens' grandmother's special dish, the one waiting for him after a long flight across the Atlantic. Don't cut back on the cream here, as it elevates this dish to simply divine.

Serves 4

8 3-oz veal scalloppini (85 g)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup flour (120 mL)
1/2 cup 35% cream (120 mL)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup 35% cream, whipped (120 mL)
3 to 4 cups dry breadcrumbs (720–960 mL)
1/2 cup unsalted butter (120 mL)
Vegetable oil for frying

Season the veal cutlets with salt and pepper. Take three flat bowls. In the first bowl, put the flour. In the second bowl, whisk the liquid cream with the eggs and fold in the whipped cream. In the third bowl put the breadcrumbs. Dredge each piece of veal in the flour, pat off any excess, and dip into the cream mixture. Press into the bread crumbs on both sides.

Chill the breaded meat for 30 minutes. Heat a deep frying pan with the butter and oil to medium-high and pan-fry the cutlets until golden brown.

Remove onto a paper towel and pat off any excess cooking oil.

Accompanying wine?
Tony Recommends...

Again, you can go either white or red with this dish, depending on your preference, especially with the lemon caper relish that calls for some acidity. New World Sauvignon Blanc or Valpolicella.

Presentation: To present this dish, stack two pieces of veal, one on top of the other, to one side of each plate and top with a large spoonful of Lemon Caper Relish. Serve with roasted potatoes on the side.

Olaf's Tip: By using whipped cream along with the regular cream, you will get a much crispier coating. You could substitute the veal with pork or chicken.

Lemon Caper Relish

A perfect piquant accompaniment to the schnitzel. You'll want to make up a double batch and keep in the fridge for other meats and fish! Yum!

Makes 1˝ cups (360 mL)

3 lemons, juice of
1 tsp Dijon mustard (5 mL)
1/4 tsp white pepper (1.2 mL)
1/2 cup olive oil (120 mL)
3 lemons, peeled, seedless segments
1/4 cup drained capers (60 mL)
1 shallot, finely diced
1 Tbsp chopped fresh chervil (15 mL)
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley (120 mL)
Salt to taste

In a small bowl, place the lemon juice, mustard, and pepper and slowly whisk in the olive oil until it is lightly emulsified and will coat the back of the spoon. Fold in the rest of the ingredients and season with salt.

Asparagus and Hard Cooked Egg Salad

Asparagus and eggs: two beloved foods on an Austrian table. Eggs are most often eaten boiled or hard-cooked or as a garnish or ingredient, states Thelma Barer-Stein, and look what we found from Chez Piggy, the celebrated restaurant and bakery in Kingston, Ontario, owned by Rose Richardson and her husband Zal Yanovsky, a former member of the band The Lovin' Spoonful. It opened in 1979 and has been packed ever since, serving delighted patrons food from a wide and wonderful variety of cultures, from Newfie to Vietnamese, Jewish to Mexican. It's no wonder they have the ultimate salad for asparagus lovers. The Chez Piggy Cookbook reflects the amazing history of this remarkable eatery. It's as much fun to read as it is to use!

Serves 4 to 6

Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (15 mL)
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard (2 mL)
2/3 cup olive oil (150 mL)
2 shallots, chopped, or 2 Tbsp (25 mL) very finely chopped red onion
1 egg, hard-cooked, white separated from yolk
1 Tbsp capers, coarsely chopped (15 mL)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chervil or chives (25 mL)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 lbs. asparagus, trimmed and rinsed (1 kg)

In a bowl, mix together lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, oil and shallots or onion. Finely chop egg white and add to vinaigrette. Set aside.

Accompanying wine?
Tony Recommends...

Go Sauvignon Blanc – Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre from the Loire Valley or New Zealand or Ontario Sauvignon.

Finely chop egg yolk, and mix with capers and chervil or chives. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Tie asparagus in bundles, and cook upright in boiling salted water until stem ends are tender. Refresh under cold water, and drain.

Arrange asparagus on individual plates. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Garnish with egg-yolk mixture.

Berry Meringue Slices

Lighter than the usual Schlagobers (cream) slathered pastry, this sliced, or schnitten, dessert from Vienna's Café Diglas is still a winner. Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague tells us that the Austrians usually make it with red currants, which have a very short season, but fresh blueberries are just as wonderful. We loved the variation with raspberries, too!

Makes 12 servings (well, it also serves four handsomely!)

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (325 mL)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (7 mL)
Pinch of salt
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature (215 mL)
1 cup granulated sugar (250 mL)
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract (5 mL)
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (30 mL)
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon

6 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp granulated sugar (260 mL)
4 cups fresh blueberries (1 L)
3 Tbsp confectioners' sugar (50 mL)

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350°F (180°C). Lightly butter and flour a 13 × 9 inch baking pan, tapping out the excess flour.

2. To make the cake: Stir the flour, baking powder and salt to combine. Beat the butter in a medium bowl with a handheld electric mixer on high speed until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until light in color and texture, about 3 minutes. One at a time, beat in the eggs, then the vanilla. On low speed, in two additions, beat in the flour mixture. Beat in the lemon juice and zest.

3. Spread evenly in the pan. Bake until golden and the top springs back when pressed in the center, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack while making the meringue. Increase the oven temperature to 450°F (230°C).

4. To make the topping: beat the egg whites in a large bowl until they form soft peaks. Gradually beat into the granulated sugar until the whites are stiff and shiny. Toss the blueberries and confectioners' sugar in a medium bowl. Spread the berries in a single layer over the cake, then spread with the meringue.

Accompanying wine?
Tony Recommends...

A very sweet dessert requires a wine even sweeter than the dessert. Either forget the wine or go with Asti Spumante or an Austrian sweet wine from Willi Opitz, Lang or Kracher.

5. Bake until the meringue is lightly tipped with brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. To serve, cut into 12 rectangles with a sharp knife dipped in hot water and serve from the pan.

Raspberry Slices: Substitute 4 cups fresh raspberries for the blueberries. Increase the confectioners' sugar to 4 tablespoons.

Red Currant Slices: Substitute 4 cups stemmed fresh red currants for the blueberries. Increase the confectioners' sugar to 1/2 cup.

We wish to thank the following for permission to publish material, recipes and photographs:

You Eat What You Are: People, Culture and Food Traditions by Thelma Barer-Stein, Ph.D., is published by Firefly Books, Ltd.

The Foster's Market Cookbook by Sara Foster is published by Random House, New York. Photographs by James Baigrie.

Cooking from the Hip by Olaf Mertens is published by Whitecap Books. Food photography by Christopher Freeland.

The Chez Piggy Cookbook, compiled by Victoria Newbury, is published by Firefly Books, Ltd. Food photography by Garfield Peters.

Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers is published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, New York. Photographs by Kelly Bugden.

If you are close to Toronto, The Austrian Wine Marketing Board and The Austrian Consulate General in Toronto are holding a special wine tasting on May 7, 2002, at the National Club, 303 Bay Street (King Subway), between 5 and 7 p.m., cost: $ 30 p.p., light buffet included, RSVP to Birgitta Samavarchian, 416-967-3348, ext. 18. For more information, please phone (1) 416-967-3348, ext. 18, or email

Happily tested by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

Download these recipes in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (278 KB)




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