As the sun goes down I grow floppy ears and fur and turn into a cute little bunny rabbit in search of raw veggies. Okay, so perhaps I don’t actually transform, but lately I have begun eating a traditional German Abendbrot at dinnertime.
Abendbrot is a supper that centers itself around Germany’s excellent bread. Usually multi-grain, though ranging across the gamut of possibilities, it’s a very good, cold meal. Often times it will involve slices of deli meats, tasty cheeses from Germany and its neighboring countries (for example Switzerland, where each town has its own specialty cheese), as well as lots of fresh, chopped, raw vegetables.
I remember eating this at Oma and Opa’s house when I was little. Oma was always an incredibly good chef, and lunchtime was a feast every day. But in the evenings it was “simplified.” She would pull out various items from the fridge that she had purchased at the bakery, butcher’s, and grocery store. My sister and I would set the table, each person getting not a plate but a small cutting board for a place setting. We would chop fresh red bell peppers, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, and anything else that looked good, and Opa would thinly slice the “Opawurst,” a very tasty hard salami that only Opa could cut “just so.” We would place the Kräutersalz (salt flavored with Italian dried herbs such as oregano and marjoram) on the table and say Guten Apetit!
But lately my favorite was derived from a visitor I had for a week who stayed in the guest room attached to my Amelie kitchen. She had bought Kräuterquark (herbed quark – are you beginning to see a pattern?) and spread it on her bread in the evenings and topped it with sliced cucumbers. Quark is something uniquely German. It is somewhere between cream cheese, sour cream, and yogurt. It’s a cheese that, to explain simply, has aged only a couple days but has had the whey taken out of it. It can be used by Germans in just about every meal and is widely available in Germany, but more difficult to find in the States. There are, however, a few companies that are making it. While I was always under the impression it was only made by one cheese factory in Wisconsin, I couldn’t find which one that is. In my searches, however, I did find that the Vermont Butter & Cheese Company makes and sells Quark. I also found a recipe that explained how to make your own Quark, though I haven’t tried it yet.
Quark is what my mother uses to make cheesecake, and it can also be very tasty in dessert form with banana puree and a bit of sugar. But, Kräuterquark is what I have discovered recently. While it can be bought already made in just about any grocery store here, I like to make things from scratch better. So, while my first attempt had so much garlic in it that I was still tasting it after three tooth brushing sessions and almost twenty-four hours later, I think I have been able to alter the recipe enough to finally post it. Keep in mind that Kräuterquark is something that you can put just about any fresh herbs into, and can be spiced with paprika or cumin if you like. This is just a basic recipe that I have been using.
1 small clove Garlic, pressed
2 Tbsp chopped Green Onion
some Basil leaves, chopped
some Chives, chopped
Salt and Pepper
Mix everything together into a bowl and season to taste. Use as a spread on artisan bread and top with fresh raw vegetables. My favorite combination is with fresh tomatoes topped with buffalo mozzarella cheese and a sprinkle of Kräutersalz or plain salt. It can also be used as a healthy dip for carrot sticks, broccoli, and anything else you may dip into a ranch dressing. It should be consumed within a couple days to a week tops.