Oktoberfest in Germany begins Saturday, September 22, 2012, and ends Sunday, October 7, 2012...

Saturday, September 29, 2012

German Plum Pancake



Hi!   I have some beautiful blue and golden plums that must be used and since it's the middle of Oktoberfest, what better way to grace those lovely orbs but to bake them in a German pancake?   If you have never enjoyed one before, the best way to describe it might be the marriage of a beignet and  flan.


The inspiration for this dish comes from a cookbook titled "Cooking from Quilt  Country"  by Marcia Adams.   The recipes are all family treasures from Mennonite and Amish kitchens.   I recently bought this cookbook and have already marked a dozen or so recipes to try.   Run like the wind to your Library and give this lovely book a look.   The pictures, by the way, are awesome!   Anyway, here is my adaptation....




You will need:

4 plums, such as golden or blue or a mixture
¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
6 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Confectioner’s Sugar
Buttered Maple Syrup


First, preheat oven to 475 degrees F. 

Rinse and cut the plums in small slices.   You should have approximately 1 ½ cups.  

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium low heat in a small fry pan, and sauté the plums until they are just tender, about 2 minutes.   Set aside, keeping warm while preparing the batter.


Now,  place a 9 or 10 inch cast-iron skillet or very heavy ovenproof pan in the oven to heat for at least 5 minutes (the pan has to be very hot for this recipe to really work properly). 

Meanwhile, place the milk, eggs, vanilla, salt and nutmeg in the bowl of a food processor.   Top with the flour and then turn on low speed to blend.


While the batter is blending, remove the hot skillet from the oven.  Add the remaining butter to it - sliding the butter over the sides and across the center.   Do this quickly so the pan does not cool down.  

Quickly add the warm plums to the pan, arranging them over the melted butter.


 Now, turn the processor to high for just a second and then immediately pour the smooth batter over the plums in the hot buttered pan.


Place the pan back in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.   Then reduce heat to 375 degrees F, and bake for 10 minutes longer.   The pancake will puff and climb up the sides of the pan.


Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar, then cut in wedges and serve with warm buttered maple syrup.


 Enjoy!! 



Try this recipe with apples, peaches, or other fruits.  

Here is a link for the cookbook:  Cooking From Quilt Country 
Original recipe is for "German Apple Pancake". 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

German Skillet Dinner


    By Kerrie

Hi!   Would you like a one pot meal with a distinctive taste of Autumn?   Well just in time for Oktoberfest, let me tell you about this skillet dish made with smoked Bratwurst, sauerkraut, apples and bacon – oh, and just to add to the yummm, serve it with mashed potatoes.

You will need…

1 package bacon – trimmed and sliced into small pieces
4 to 6 smoked fully cooked bratwurst sausages
1 jar of sauerkraut  (16 ounces)
2 cooking apples - sliced into 8'ths
Scant 1/4 red onion (sectioned)
1 cup dark German beer  (Stout)
1/8  teaspoon celery seed
1/8  teaspoon caraway seeds
1/8  teaspoon thyme
Sprinkling of fresh cracked pepper to taste 
Mashed Potatoes as side dish


First, trim the bacon of excess fat and cut into small pieces – about 1 ½ “ X 1 ½”.   Place the pieces in a heavy skillet.


Cook the bacon over Medium-High heat until just browned.   Drain on a paper towel, and set aside.


Now, drain the skillet of the bacon grease, but do not wipe it clean.   Then, pour the stout beer in pan to deglaze.


To the beer, add the sauerkraut and stir.   Cook on med-high until reduced by half.   


Then, add the smoked brats.


Then, add the apples which have been sliced in 8’ths, along with the pieces of onion.  Sprinkle the thyme, celery and caraway seeds over the top.


Now, sprinkle the top with bacon.



Okay, now cover the skillet and place into a 350 degrees F. oven.


Bake for 30 minutes or until the juices are bubbling and the apples are tender.

Serve hot with mashed potatoes.  Sprinkle with fresh cracked pepper.


 Enjoy !!!


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lebkuchen



Hi!   Well, here’s a German sweetie for you.   Lebkuchen is a honey cake or cookie originating from the Black Forest region of Germany.   Surprisingly, inspiration for this recipe comes from Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book (yes, that is the actual spelling).  I looked at recipes from a few German cookbooks and they all called for cups of ground almonds plus flour.  I don’t care for the consistency of that combination, so when I read the ingredient list for this recipe, I knew this is something my family would enjoy.   The following is my adaptation.  There is a link at the bottom for the cookbook.   You should also know that the dough should be chilled overnight.   Don’t skip this step.   Doing this allows the flavors to mingle, and it also prevents the cookies from spreading, so you will get a nice rise.

Ingredients for Lebkuchen:
½ cup honey
½ cup molasses
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
3 Tablespoons orange juice
1 large egg
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1  teaspoon cinnamon
1  teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup dried currants
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
Glazing Icing

Ingredients for Glazing Icing:
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons butter
½ cup water
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A slice of apple or orange


Directions:

First, to a small sauce pan add the molasses and honey.   Bring to a boil, and then immediately remove from burner.  


Add the brown sugar and blend well with an electric mixer. 

  
Then pour the sweet mixture into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool.  You will probably need at least a half hour or more.

Meanwhile, to a medium mixing bowl add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg.   Then vigorously dry whisk to combine.   Do mix well.   You want a good distribution of all those aromatic spice.


When the sweet mixture is completely cool, add the orange juice and egg.   Using an electric mixer, run on medium high until well incorporated.


Then, top the liquid mixture with the dry mixture.   Mix on low to medium until well combined.   Then using a spoon scrape the sides and lift the bottom.


Next, top the dough with the chopped nuts and dried currants.   Mix well with a spoon, or remove one of the beaters from the mixer, and blend on low to medium until well combined.


Okay, now either dump the dough onto a good size piece of wax paper and wrap it up, or you can just press some plastic wrap over the top of the dough in the bowl, and then place another piece of plastic wrap over the top of the bowl.   Either way, just cover the dough up well and place in the refrigerator overnight. 

 

Okay, next day …..  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Take dough out of fridge.   It should be firm but not too hard to use a cookie scoop.   If need be, allow to rest until it warms up a bit to work with.

Grease or line cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Then, using a medium scoop, drop cookie dough on sheet – leaving two inch spacing.


Then, gently press a fork into the top of the cookie ball, first one way and then the other ....


Place in oven and bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until no imprint remains if touched lightly.

Meanwhile, make the glazing icing.  Do this by blending one cup of sugar and ½ cup water in a small saucepan.   Boil until you get a thin thread if a spoon is dipped in the mixture and held over it (230 degrees on a candy thermometer).   Remove from heat.   Stir in ¼ cup confectioner’s sugar and the butter.   If icing becomes sugary while brushing cookies, reheat slightly, adding a little water until clear again.

Okay, as soon as the cookies are ready to come out of the oven, remove, then immediately lightly brush with the cookie glaze. 


Now, place the cookies back in the oven for a scant minute to set the glaze.

Then, remove from the cookie sheet and cool on a wire rack.



When cookies are cool, store in an airtight container with a slice of apple or orange.  This will keep the cookies moist.  Your yield should be about two dozen.



 Enjoy!!



Link for cookbook:  Betty Crocker's COOKY BOOK

Sunday, September 23, 2012

German Soft Pretzels (Laugenbrezeln)



Hi!    Well, we’re one day into Oktoberfest now and I have hit most of my goals this month of learning new German recipes to share with you.   Check the Oktoberfest tab above to open the list and have some fun cooking German :)   Anyway, I’ve been working on German Soft Pretzels for a couple of days now, and I think the kinks are finally worked out.   My inspiration comes from a cookbook titled “Spoonfuls of Germany” written by Nadia Hassani.  I have tweaked the recipe a bit.   Here is my adaptation….

First of all, if you have never made German Soft Pretzels before, you may not know that the lovely brown patina you see in pictures, or may have actually experienced in Baveria, is actually achieved by the use of food-grade lye.   I just can not bring myself to use or serve anything using lye.   Yes, I know the cooking process changes the makeup and results in a perfectly edible product, but the need to use rubber gloves and goggles in the preparation process is just too scary for me.   Not to mention I usually have a two year old partner in the kitchen with me.    Thus, the baking soda.   From all I have read, and experienced using it, the end result is not the same as the use of lye.  So I'm  still boiling the pretzels before baking, but in addition, just to hedge my bet – and get a nicely browned and slightly blistered finish, I am brushing the boiled and drained pretzels with an egg wash, then just lightly salting with a course ground sea salt.   Okay, let’s go….

 Ingredients:

½ cup lukewarm water
1 ½  Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon Fast Acting Dry Yeast ( you can use Bread Machine yeast )
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ Tablespoon softened butter
An additional ½ cup lukewarm water
             ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
4 quarts water
¼ cup baking soda
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
1 egg
1 teaspoon water

First of all,  if you have a sheet cake pan with a lid like this, say hooray!   This pan works out very well for allowing the pretzels to rest and grow while keeping covered.


If you do not, no worries, just place the pretzels on a nonstick baking pan and cover with a damp towel for their rest.   If your pan is not stick free,  place them on parchment paper.   Don’t place them on a greased sheet.  That would compromise the baking soda and water boil.

Okay, let’s get started!

First, to ½ cup of lukewarm water add the honey and yeast.  Stir well and set aside for about 10 minutes to proof.   The mixture should become very foamy – an indication that the yeast is working.


Then, to the bowl of a food processor add the flour and salt.  Run on medium high for a few seconds to distribute the salt and aerate the flour.


Now, top the flour with the softened butter, yeast mixture and additional ½ cup lukewarm water.  

  
Run the processor on medium high.   If the mixture does not come together in a dough ball, add a little more lukewarm water in very small increments through the chute until the dough ball forms.


Turn the dough out onto a work surface.   Briefly knead the dough and shape it into a ball.   


Divide the ball in half.   Divide that half in half, and so on until you have 8 small sections.   Roll each section into a ball and allow the dough to rest for about 5 minutes.


Then, roll each ball into a rope about 16-18  inches long.


Twist the ends once….


Then again ….


Then fold over and press the ends into either side of the center bottom of the pretzel shape ….


Now, place as many as there is room for into a nonstick-pan and cover with lid.   If you do not have a non-stick pan, place them on a parchment lined pan.   You don’t want to grease the pan.  Then cover with a damp towel to prevent the dough from drying out if you do not have a lid for your pan.   I have shaped 6 regular pretzels, and used the other two rolls of dough to make sticks ….


Okay, now allow the pretzel shapes to rest and grow for about 30 – 40 minutes.   

When they have reached the degree of plumpness you like then bring 4 quarts of water to a boil and add ¼ cup of baking soda to the water and stir.   At this point, you should also set the oven to 425 degrees F. to pre-heat.

Now, one by one, lower a pretzel into the water.  When the pretzel raises to the top – in about 15 seconds, remove with a slotted spatula or spoon and allow the pretzel to drain.


When the pretzel has drained – it only takes a few minutes, place it back on the non-stick or parchment lined pan.  


Okay, now vigorously mix the egg and teaspoon of water to make the wash.   Then brush each pretzel with the egg wash.



Then lightly sprinkle with coarsely grated sea salt.


Place the pretzels in the pre-heated oven for about 12 – 15 minutes or until a nice golden brown.


Serve at once.   They are at their best fresh and warm from the oven.


Serve with butter – which is how they are primarily eaten in Germany, or with a mustard sauce which is more common in America.   I will share a recipe below for a mustard sauce we enjoyed these pretzels with, along with some fun pictures of our recipe adventure with my girls.



Apricot & Mustard Sauce
2 Tablespoons Apricot fruit spread – I use Hero brand
1 Tablespoon Coarse Ground Mustard
½ teaspoon smoky paprika
1 teaspoon fresh minced chives
Stir all ingredients in a small bowl until well blended.

Enjoy !!!     And have fun making German Soft Pretzels .....



Each of us girls made a mustard sauce - then Papa and Daddy judged.   Our Miss Maci was the winner.  

This is a really fun family activity - perfect for Oktoberfest !!!!