Looking Beyond East Meets West

On April 25, 2020 then President Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin marked the Anniversary of an often forgotten moment in World War II. Billed as East Meets West, it was the coordinated efforts of American Troops from the East and Soviet Armies from the west joining forces against German soldiers inside Germany.

The East Meets West joint Soviet and American forces at the Elbe River in Germany was seen as a milestone in World War II, foreshadowing the defeat of the Nazis. In 2020, on the 75th Anniversary, two opposing world leaders issued a joint statement to mark the joint efforts as an example of how their countries could “build trust and cooperation”. Both men hailed the event as an illustration of how their two countries could work together.

Their joint statement proclaimed the anniversary as “an example of how our countries can set aside differences, build trust and cooperate in the name of a common goal. As we work today to confront the most important challenges of the 21st century, we pay tribute to the valor and courage of all those who fought together to defeat fascism. Their heroic feat will never be forgotten.” Sadly, we have forgotten. And the world is very much divided.

It’s interesting to note that most of the historical photographs of the encounter along the Elbe River were actually stages for the press and the watching world several days later.

World leaders often see events from a military victory or loss prospective rather than to see the human undertones of the day. Before the fighting, the men came together, broke bread, shared jokes and were brothers. When left to our own devices, without the political or racial or religious rhetoric, I believe can see one another as the same, with more in common than as different. It doesn’t matter the color of your skin, your political affiliation or beliefs, we all love. We love our partners, our parents, our children, our comminutes, our country and our planet. Mutual love and respect, not mutual hatred and oppression should be the focus of our interactions.

The actual photographs taken that day show soldiers who had no thoughts of fighting. Theirs was a moment of peace and friendship. It was a partnership that would not last.

To mark this day, I give you a variation on my East Meets West Barbecue. I know, it’s very similar to last year’s barbecue. This time around the German Sausage has been replaced with a Butterkuchen (Butter Cake), we’ve skipped the baked beans and simplified the potato salad. I promise, it’s all delicious – enjoy!

East Meets West Backyard Party
Russian Potato Salad
All-American Cheeseburgers
German Butterkuchen

Russian Potato Salad
5 Eggs
4 medium Yukon Gold Potatoes
2 medium Carrots
1 cup frozen Peas
6 small Kosher Dill Pickles
1 cup Mayonnaise
3/4 cup Diced Smoked Ham
Fresh Dill garnish, optional

Place eggs in a pan, cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Cover, remove from heat and let steep for about 15 minutes. Remove eggs from the pan with a slotted spoon. Plunge into an ice bath to stop cooking process. Set aside until ready to use.

Scrub potatoes, prick skins with a fork. Fill a steamer pot with about a cup or so of water. Bring to a boil. Place potatoes in steamer basket, place over steaming water. Steam potatoes for about 30 minutes.

While the potatoes steam, trim and peel carrots. After the potatoes have steamed for 30 minutes, add carrots to the steamer basket with the potatoes. Steam vegetables for about 12 minutes longer or until everything is tender-firm when poked with a fork.

Cook peas according to package directions. Drain and let cool.

Steam the potatoes for 30 minutes to start with, and then add the peeled carrots. Continue steaming for 10-15 more minutes, or until the potatoes and carrots are firm but tender when poked.

When the potatoes and carrots are done, allow them to cool to the point that you can handle them easily.

Remove the skins from the potatoes. Using your fingers or the back of a knife, gently scrape the thin layer of skin off of the potatoes. Dice potatoes into bite-size 1/2-inch pieces. Place diced potatoes in a medium serving bowl.

Next, dice your carrots into small pieces. Traditionally the carrots are dices to the size of the peas, but larger is ok. Toss the carrots along with the peas into the bowl with the potatoes.

Peel and dice the hardboiled eggs. Scatter eggs over the salad. Finely dice pickles, add to salad. Dice ham, scatter over the salad. Toss to blend.

Add mayonnaise, stir to blend and coat well. Cover the salad, let chill for at least an hour.

Just before serving, garnish salad with fresh dill.

All-American Cheeseburgers
1 large Beefsteak Tomato
1/2 Red Onion
4 Green Leaf Lettuce Leaves

Slice tomato into 4 thick rounds. Cut onion into rounds, break apart and set aside. Rinse and pat dry the lettuce leaves.

Refrigerate until ready to assemble.

1-1/2 lbs Ground Beef
Kosher Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
Vegetable Oil as needed
4 slices American Cheese

Divide the beef into 4 (6 oz) patties, each about 3/4-inch and 3-1/2 inches in diameter. Transfer the patties to a plate or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Remove the patties from the refrigerator and season on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil to the pan to coat the bottom, swirl to evenly coat. Place the patties in the skillet. Cook burgers undisturbed for 5 minutes or until nicely seared with a brown crust. If the burgers stick to the pan, reduce heat to medium and cook until they loosen, maybe 2 minutes more.

Flip the burgers, top each with a slice of cheese. Cook undisturbed for another 4 minutes or until cheese is melted and burgers are still a little pink but cooked through.

Cover skillet, remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes.

Finishing Touches
4 Hamburger Buns
4 tablespoons Thousand Island Dressing
Ketchup, optional
Mustard, optional
Mayonnaise, optional

Split buns open. Smear the bottom of each bun with a tablespoon of Thousand Island Dressing. Smear more dressing or desired condiments on the top buns.

Place lettuce on the bottom bun, followed by cheeseburgers. Top cheeseburgers onion rounds and sliced tomato. Place top bun over the stack, serve and enjoy.

German Butterkuchen
Butter Cake
1/3 cup Butter, soft
1 Egg, warm
2/3 cup Milk
3 cups Flour
2-1.2 teaspoons Instant Dry Yeast
1/3 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Almond Extract
Pinch of Salt

Remove butter and egg from the refrigerator, allow to come to room temperature.

Warm up the milk in the microwave or on the stove. It should be warm to the touch, not hot.

Measure flour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the instant dry yeast. Sprinkle sugar on top of the flour mixture. Add the lukewarm milk; knead using the dough hook.

Add the Almond extract, soft butter, egg, and a pinch of salt. Keep kneading the dough about 5 minutes; until it forms a ball and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.

Note: If it is too sticky, add a little bit more flour. If it is too crumbly, add some more milk.

Place a towel over the bowl and let the ball of dough rise for at least one hour in a warm place without a draft.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13-inch by 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper.

Once the ball of dough has risen for an hour and has significantly increased in size, give it another knead before lightly flouring countertop and rolling out the dough to fit your baking sheet/pan. Place the dough into the baking pan. Set aside.

Almond Butter Topping
1/4 cup cold Butter
2/3 cup Sugar
1 cup sliced Almonds

Remove butter from the refrigerator and cut into small cubes. With fingers or the handle of a wooden spoon, make small evenly spaced dents in the top of the rolled out dough without pressing all the way through. Place a piece of cold butter into each dent. Sprinkle the top of the dough with sugar. Scatter sliced almonds over the sugar.

Place the cake in the oven to bake for about 25 minutes until the almonds on top are slightly browned and the cake is cooked through.

Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool to room temperature.

Cut cake into slices, serve and enjoy.

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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