Sunday, March 6, 2011


Originally posted 10/8/11

Sprechen sie Deutsch?  Well, I don’t.  I was just wondering if you did or not.  One thing I do know, is that every early October, the good people of Germany, specifically Bavaria, celebrate Oktoberfest!  What is Oktoberfest, besides one helluva excuse to drink beer and wear lederhosen, you might ask?  It started in Munich, Germany as a commemoration of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in 1810.  By 1818, it had morphed into an agricultural festival that celebrated Bavaria.  At some point, beer became a major component of the festival, and it now pulls in about 5 million people each year.  Are you asleep yet?  Ok then, history lesson over.

Now I look at Oktoberfest as a great way to celebrate the beginning of fall with friends, to eat good German food, and to perhaps consume a beer or two;)  I will freely admit that I don’t know that much about German food and my knowledge of all things German are pretty slim, but I do know a good kielbasa when I meet one.  Or a good Black Forest Cake.  And I have great, simple recipes for a Potato Pancake Appetizer, Kielbasa and Cabbage entrée and Black Forest Cake parfait for dessert.  All the makins’ for a super fun party.  I promise that they are easy recipes that anyone can make.  I used shortcuts from the grocery store (Whattup Sandra Lee, much love!) to ensure that the recipes wouldn’t take all day.  I don’t have all day to cook, and I am pretty sure that most of you don’t either. So grab your fave German beer (and I will grab my fave box o’ wine because I would rather drink that, truth be told) and let’s get “kochen”.  See, more German!  Ya learn something new every post, right?

Let’s start with my Potato Pancake appetizer.  In German, potato pancakes are known as “Reibkuchen” or “Kartoffelpuffer”.  (Bless you or shall I say gesundheit!)  Little fun fact-in Sweden they are known as “Raggmunk” which translated to “hairy doughnuts”.  I can’t even comment on that….you are on your own.  Whatever they are called, they are oh so good.  And my Jewish peeps can feel free to use this recipe for Hanukkah.  Back to the pancakes, I make mine almost bite size so they are easy to eat.  You can make them ahead of time and keep them warm in the oven.

Here is what you need:

Shredded potatoes, shredded onion, flour, eggs, garlic, dill, sour cream and salt and pepper.
I used defrosted hashbrown potatoes from the store instead of shredding my own potatoes.  This is an awesome shortcut.  You can totally use real potatoes if you have all sorts of free time and no life.  But they will be wet so you will spend a good chunk of time squeezing the water out of them.  I threw my onion in my food processor to shred it.  If you don’t have a processor, just dice your onion, or better yet, buy it diced from the store.  But don’t let my mom see you because she will tell you that you are throwing your money away and “how hard is it to cut your own onion?”  I also used pre-minced garlic, sue me.

Mix together the defrosted potatoes, onion (squeezed dry in a clean towel), beaten eggs, flour, garlic, and some salt and pepper.  The mixture will seem loose, but it will work.
Heat a pan with about  ½ inch of oil.  Drop the pancakes in by the tablespoon.  I use a mini ice-cream scoop, but I soup spoon will work just fine.  These will fry about 2-3 minutes per side, until they are golden brown on both sides.  Don’t crowd the pancakes in the pan.  The cakes will steam, not fry and that’s just gross.  Drain the cakes on paper towels.  And oh yea, salt them as soon as possible so they can soak it up and get all salty and delicious.

While your cakes are frying/draining/cooling off so they aren’t hell fire hot, chop some fresh dill….and admire my nail polish color………
Add the dill to about 1 cup of sour cream.  Mix well. 

Top each cake with the sour cream mixture. 
Best. Things. Ever.  Let your guests ohhhh and ahhhh;)

For the entrée…..
I call this Hansel and Gretel’s Last Supper.  Basically, if I give something a cute name, my kids will eat it.  Plus, my kids are still at the age will they will fall for anything, so they really think I know what Hansel and Gretel ate before the witch got ‘em.  I will probably pay for all these lies someday;) 

So we’ve got pierogies (readily available at the grocery store and I baked mine), kielbasa that I also baked, one head of cabbage that I shredded (use a bag of coleslaw for a quick shortcut, one onion (sliced), cooked  chopped bacon, mushrooms, paprika, German mustard, butter, German beer, and finally…that glop of goo is bacon fat.  Mmmmmm, bacon fat. 

Heat the bacon fat in a big pan.  Add the mushrooms and onion, sauté until translucent (slightly soft).  Add your cabbage.  You don’t want to cook the cabbage until soft.  You just want to wilt it a bit, so about 2 minutes. 

Add the butter, beer, mustard and paprika to make a sauce.  Sprinkle the bacon on top.

Plate it all up together, family style.  Serve with extra German mustard on the side.

And now for the best part…..Dessert!  This dessert is so easy, but it looks super fancy.  I have just one request…please make your own whipped cream.  I know I say to take your help from the store when you can.  But only if the store’s product is good!  Yes, you can use whipped topping, but it really isn’t as good.  It only takes about 3 minutes to whip your own cream.  I think that people have been fooled into thinking it takes a long time, but it doesn’t.  In fact, if you whip it too long, you get butter.  (good to know for the next time you have to be travel back in time to 1864;)  Enough of my rant against whipped topping….

Ok….we need 16 ounces of heavy cream, whipped up with 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 3 tablespoons powdered sugar.  Whip the cream till almost the right consistency, then add the vanilla and sugar, finish whipping.  Also needed, 14 ounces of brownie bites (purchased at the store), and one 10 ounce jar of maraschino cherries (chop and save the juice).  Lastly, you need clear cups (this recipe serves 4).  I use plastic because I am classy like that.  “I’m into class.  It’s my new thing.”  Quick-what movie is that from??

Now, you could bake your own brownies, but I didn’t;)  Chop the brownie bites into quarters.  Put about 4 pieces of brownie into the bottom of each cup.

Put about a tablespoon of cherry juice on top of the brownie layer.  Layer with cherries, whip cream, more brownies, cherry juice, etc.  When you get to the top, top with a whole cherry…just for looks;)
So pretty! 

So that’s it!  One Oktoberfest meal;)  Like I said before, use this for an Oktoberfest party, or just for a great dinner.  So easy, and so good.  Let me know how it goes!!


Potato Pancakes
4 Cups shredded potatoes
1 Onion, shredded and squeezed dry
1 T minced garlic
6 eggs, slightly beaten
½ Cup flour
1 t salt, plus additional for sprinkling
½ to 1 t pepper
1 Cup sour cream
1 T chopped dill

Mix together potatoes, onion, garlic, egg, flour and salt and pepper.  Mixture will be loose.  Drop by the tablespoon into pan.  Fry in 1 inch of hot oil, 2-3 minutes both sides.  Drain well on paper towels.  Sprinkle immediately with salt. 
Mix together sour cream and dill.  Top pancakes with sour cream mixture.
Makes about 30 small cakes

Hansel and Gretel’s Last Supper
¾ pound of bacon, cooked and chopped
1 T bacon drippings
1 pound kielbasa, cooked
1 pound pierogies, baked
1 small onion, sliced
2 Cups mushrooms
1 small head cabbage, shredded
2 T butter
2 T German mustard
1 T paprika
½ Cup German beer

Sauté onion and mushrooms in bacon drippings until translucent.  Add cabbage and cook until wilted.  Add butter, mustard, paprika and beer.  Mix well.  Top with bacon.  Serve with kielbasa and pierogies.

Black Forrest Parfait
16 ounce heavy whipping cream
1 t vanilla extract
3 T powdered sugar
14 ounce container of brownie bites, quartered
10 ounce jar maraschino cherries, drained, chopped and juice reserved

Whip together, with hand mixer, cream, vanilla and powdered sugar.  Layer, in 4 clear cups, brownie bites, cherry juice, chopped cherries and whipped cream.  Top with a whole cherry.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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