oktoberfest
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october and halloween have come and gone. pumpkins are disappearing from front stoops. starbucks holiday cups have once again penetrated our daily lives. and we are now in the home stretch to christmas. i hate to say it, but thanksgiving has no chance. i love it, but christmas has a nasty way of trumping everything in its path!

halloween. am i the only person in the world that hates this holiday? i mean, what is the point of it besides shoving your face with candy and going out to parties. well, i guess that is the point. this year however, my sentiments were completely different experience! i have never in my life been so excited for a holiday that i absolutely detest.

every once in a while i will be told that i look like macklemore. so, i found a fur coat, threw on a pair of nikes, did my hair and called myself macklemore! i even won second place at my office's costume contest. honestly though, i think that i should have won...the winner was a guy in a child's finding nemo costume...really!?

macklemore

as you continue reading this entry, you'll realize that it is kind of long. there is not one, not two, but five recipes in this post! there are quite a few pictures. so we will just consider this our formal send off for october 2013!

soft pretzel

as with all dinner clubs with angie, this one as themed - OKTOBERFEST! my responsibility? appetizer and dessert. i wasn't really sure what kind of appetizers were normal in germany. i mean, it's not like in spain where you can each some cheese and olives. so, i decided that i would pull out the difficult and attempt something with yeast. that nasty little ingredient that can be a pain in the butt to master. seriously, even in the recipe it says, "if the yeast doesn't foam, throw it out and try again." really? even the recipe has its doubts in my ability to master the art of yeast and baking!

oktoberfest dinner

life is funny sometimes. this past summer i hardly wrote. i didn't work on my novel as much as i wanted to. i didn't write a single article for SMAK for four months! i am not sure what exactly had happened. perhaps i needed or subconsciously wanted a break from it all. and now here i am, writing again (blog and novel) and i absolutely love it. this is what i love doing. it's my escape. my passion. and on the upside? i get to eat all the food that i want! (this may be why i run marathons).

chocolate walnut rum balls

as intimidating as all these german names sound.....rote grütze, schnizel, späetzle...sound, they are not as difficult to make as you'd seem. something that studying abroad taught me: the world is a big place. there is so much to experience. so while my bank account may not be in a position to fund my desire to travel the world, i can however experience different cultures through their food.

this week, german. next week? perhaps ethiopian or iranian!

rote grütze

try out some of these recipes and until next time...happy eating!

soft pretzels

ingredients: 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature, plus melted butter for brushing 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar 1 packet (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast 6 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling cooking spray 2/3 cup baking soda mustard, for dipping (optional)

instructions:

  1. combine 2 cups warm water (110° to 115°), the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. sprinkle the yeast on top and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. if the yeast does not foam, discard and try again with fresh yeast.
  2. add 3 cups flour and 2 teaspoons salt to the yeast mixture. using the dough hook, mix on low-speed, then increase the speed to medium as the flour starts to incorporate. mix in the remaining 3 cups flour on low-speed, then increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough gathers around the hook and pulls away from the bowl.
  3.  turn the dough out onto a clean surface; knead until smooth, 5 minutes. brush a large bowl with melted butter, add the dough and turn to coat. cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  4. punch down the dough, the divide it in half. divide each half into 6 even pieces with a knife; cover with plastic wrap. line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and coat with cooking spray.
  5. tape a 24-inch-long piece of string to the countertop to use as a guide. roll out a piece of dough on the countertop with your hands, starting in the middle and working your way out to the ends until you have a 24-inch-long rope. as you roll, occasionally lift the dough by the ends and slap the middle against the counter to stretch it.
  6. lift the ends of the rope to make a u shape, then cross one end over the other twice to make a double twist in the middle. fold down the ends and attach them to the bottom of the u, forming a pretzel shape. transfer to one of the prepared baking sheets; repeat with the remaining dough, arranging 4 pretzels on each baking sheet. cover loosely with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until slightly puffed, about 30 minutes.
  7. position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 425°. fill a wide pot with 10 cups of water; add the baking soda and bring to a low simmer, whisking to dissolve. use scissor to cut the parchment around each pretzel, leaving a 1-inch border. slide the pretzels (on the parchment) off the baking sheets, then coat the baking sheets with cooking spray. working in batches, carefully invert each pretzel into the water and use tongs to peel off the parchment. simmer until the pretzels plump, about 45 seconds per slide. remove with a slotted spoon, letting the excess water drip off; arrange on the prepared baking sheets. sprinkle with salt.
  8. bake the pretzels until golden brown, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, 12 to 15 minutes. brush with melted butter and serve with mustard.

rahm jäger schnitzel serves 8

pork ingredients: 16 (3-ounce) pork medallions, cut from center of pork loin 1 cup all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon ground black pepper 3 large eggs 3 tablespoons milk 1 teaspoon tabasco sauce 3 1/2 cups cracker meal or dry bread crumbs oil for pan-frying, as needed

sauce ingredients: 1 cup chopped applewood-smoked bacon (5 ounces) 3 tablespoons chopped shallots 1 cup sliced white button mushrooms (3 ounces) 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour 3 tablespoons jägermeister 2 cups pork or beef broth salt and ground black pepper 1/2 cup minced chives and parsley

pork instructions:

  1. place plastic wrap over each pork medallion and, with a meat mallet or back of a small skillet, pound until 1/8 inch thick.
  2. in a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, and pepper.
  3. in a shallow container, whisk the eggs, tabasco sauce and milk together.
  4. in a medium bowl, place the cracker meal.
  5. entirely coat each medallion with the flour, then the egg mixture, and finally the cracker meal.
  6. lay flat, in one layer, on a baking sheet. cover and refrigerate until ready to cook. (this procedure may be done 4-6 hours before ready to cook).
  7. pan-fry medallions in oil. keep warm in oven.

sauce instructions:

  1. place the bacon into the skillet and sauté until almost browned. drain off most of the fat from skillet.
  2. stir the shallots into the bacon and cook for several minutes, stirring often, until they become translucent.
  3. add the mushrooms and continue sautéing for 2 minutes.
  4. sprinkle the flour over the bacon mixture and cook for 1 minute, stirring often.
  5. stir in the jägermeister to deglaze the pan.
  6. add the broth, bringing to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes. adjust the seasoning.

späetzle serves 4-6

ingredients: 2 cups flour 3 eggs 2/3 cup milk 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg salt

instructions:

  1. beat eggs into flour.
  2. add milk and beat by hand or with hand beater.
  3. add salt to taste and nutmeg.
  4. boil large pan of salted water.
  5. press dough through colander or späetzle maker into water. skim out as they float.
  6. drain on paper towels and set aside.
  7. sauté in butter in large skillet.

chocolate-walnut rum balls

ingredients: 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips 1 cup sugar 3 tablespoons light corn syrup 1/2 cup dark rum 2 1/2 cups finely crushed vanilla wafer cookies 1 cup finely chopped walnuts

ingredients:

  1. stir chocolate in top of double boiler set over simmering water until melted and smooth. remove from over water.
  2. whisk in 1/2 cup sugar and corn syrup, then the rum. mix vanilla wafers and walnuts in medium bowl to blend; add chocolate mixture and stir to blend well.
  3. place remaining 1/2 cup sugar in shallow bowl.
  4. for each rum ball, roll 1 scant tablespoon chocolate mixture into generous 1-inch ball. roll balls into sugar to coat evenly.
  5. cover and refrigerate at least overnight and up to 5 days.

rote grütze serves 6

ingredients: 2 pounds fresh red currants, stemmed (6 cups), plus more for topping (can also use other red berries) 1 1/4 cups sugar 1/4 cup rose wine 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch heavy cream

instructions:

  1. bring 3 cups currants, the sugar, wine, and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. reduce heat, and simmer until berries are soft, about 1 minute. puree in a blender. pour through a fine sieve into a bowl (you should have about 1 3/4 cups).
  2. return strained puree to pan; bring to a boil. add remaining currants, return to a boil, and skim if necessary. mix cornstarch with 1/4 cup water until cornstarch dissolves, then whisk into currants. cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until boiling in center and mixture looks clear, about 5 minutes. let cool 5 minutes.
  3. divide mixture between 6 small glasses. chill until set, at least 1 1/2 hours and up to 8 hours. pour small amount of heavy cream on top, and serve with fresh currants.