Sunday, April 3, 2011

Oktoberfest in April

Oktoberfest in April


Sauerbraten – German Pot Roast with Gingersnap Gravy  
Kartoffelklosse – German Potato Dumplings
Rothkohl – Braised Red Cabbage
Sellerisalat – Celery Root Salad
Homemade Pumpernickel Rolls
A selection of German beers and wines

Oh, was this some fun !!

A bit of background - as some of you know, when I'm not wreaking havoc in the kitchen I can also be found doing the music thing...I sing alto and venue manage (for lack of a better term) for the Newton Community Chorus  - a fantastic group which I have had the pleasure of being a member of for the past 15 years or so. This past weekend was our first Mystery Dinner fundraiser - something I'd never heard of until now, but a super cool idea...and right up my alley :) For a minimum donation (in our case $20) , diners list their top three dinner choices from a list of options (we had ten) The evening of the event, you show up at a cocktail party where you find out your destination, chefs, and dining partners for the evening. You then proceed to your dinner, enjoy, and then meet up with all the other participants for dessert (and in our case a silent auction).  The dinners all had great themes...Under the Sea, The Big Night, Hungarian Rhapsody etc. We chose to put on a German dinner...and so, "Oktoberfest in April".  German is a style of cooking we do pretty well (see my previous Oktoberfest entry ) and it's easy to make a large quantity...but most important for this particular meal, it's fairly easy to do most of it in advance (except, as it turns out, the dumplings) and then transport. We had the pleasure of cooking at one of our other member's beautiful homes...a gorgeous house with a huge dining room and a dream kitchen - something which I sadly lack. She also has an amazing art collection...and is super nice and incredibly gracious besides (thank you again Betsy !!) The dinner was a huge success, even if the dumplings weren't my best batch ever...we had a great group of people, everyone ate everything up and oohed and aahed, and we enjoyed a nice shot of Kirschwasser afterwards. Oma would have been proud :). I'll find out tomorrow how much we raised...and what dessert I'm making for the person that won my silent auction item - a dessert of their choice. Definitely a great time !

The Sauerbraten, Rotkohl (red cabbage), and Kartoffelklosse (potato dumplings) are all in the link above...check after the pictures if you're interested in the recipes for Sellerisalat and the pumpernickel rolls.

Guten Essen !

(ETA  - the dinner and auction together raised over $7500 !! Go us !!)

ricing the potatoes for dumplings

croutons for dumplings

red cabbage simmering away

finished dumplings


pumpernickel rolls

meat and cabbage...what else do you need ? :)

oh - before the recipe - a few notes on celery root....

Celeriac, or celery root, is a root vegetable very closely related to regular celery (it does sprout celery-ish looking stalks, which are great to garnish a Bloody Mary but not particularly tasty on their own. ) They look like alien potatoes :

I swear, it's food...the tentacles don't move !!
Once you peel away all the ugly, you get a gorgeous white vegetable with a pleasant light celery smell and flavor. Germans absolutely love celery root, though when Oma was alive it was most often found in cans in this country. Now, though, you can get it in most better supermarkets - lucky for us ! You can use it in soups, roast it, mash it...or make Sellerisalat. There are two basic versions of this salad - one uses grated raw celery root in a mayonnaise-y type dressing. The other, which is what we grew up with, uses cooked celery root, marinated in vinegar. It's one of the best palate-cleansers I know...perfect after gorgeous, rich German food.

Try and buy the smallest celery roots you can, as they will have the best flavor and texture...fist-sized is really ideal.

Selleriesalat (Celery Root Salad)

2 small or 1 large celery root, peeled and cubed
Beef, chicken, or vegetable stock to just cover (2 cups or so)
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp salt
fresh dill, to garnish

Cook the celery root in the stock until tender, about 15 minutes or so. Drain, and mix with the vinegar, water salt and pepper. Marinate overnight. Drain before serving, and garnish with fresh chopped dill.

Pumpernickel Rolls

1 3/4 cups warm water
1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon espresso powder
1 tablespoon dark cocoa powder
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups bread flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
11/2 cups rye flour
2 teaspoons salt

Stir together first 3 ingredients in the mixing bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer. Let stand 5 minutes.
Add coffee and next 4 ingredients to yeast mixture. Beat at low speed with dough hook attachment for 1 minute or until soft dough comes together. Beat at medium speed 4 minutes. (Dough will be slightly sticky.)
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and separate, and roll into balls. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and let rise for 30 minutes. Spray tops of rolls with water (or carefully brush - only a little though ! ) . Bake in a preheated 375° oven for 12 - 14 minutes or until lightly browned.

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