This St. Patrick’s day, we were on a plane to Kansas. Today, a half month later, I finally got around to cooking our belated Irish dinner. I tried two new recipes that were definitely worth repeating.
Halloween is a favorite holiday in this house, so we hosted a dinner party last night – 8 spooky courses! One of the advantages of this menu was that much of it could be prepared ahead, so we didn’t have to stay hidden in the kitchen for long.
The table setting, my favorite chef with 3 Liter Duvel, and Escargot
Aperitif: Unicum (drank out of test tubes)
Snack: BBQ Spiced Meal Worms
1: Chouriço Assado -Chouriço set aflame in a terracotta dish (ours is shaped like a pig)
Duvel – we got a GIANT 3 liter bottle!
3: Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
4: Blood Red Romaine Caesar Salad
– Intermezzo Spoon of Rhubarb Sorbet –
5: Black (squid ink) fettuccine with lemon and caviar
6: Roasted spindly carrots and squash
7: Steak Tartare
8: Chocolate Ganache Mini-Tartlets with white chocolate tombstones
– Coffee –
I’m an IT professional, and people constantly ask if I studied Computer Science in college. Nope, I majored in…German. I loved the coursework and my semester abroad in Berlin, and though I can’t say I’ve used my major after college, I still harbor a love for the country’s language and food. My family is German, so I suppose you could say it’s hereditary.
An Oktoberfest party seemed like the perfect idea this year. You might be wondering, why an Oktoberfest party in September? The real Oktoberfest in Munich actually starts during the end of September and continues through the first week of October. But if you still want to throw your own party, I think any time in October is fair game.
We took the planning seriously, testing recipes and tasting beer. We chose Paulaner Oktoberfest for the keg and picked out a number of recipes. For our sausage needs, we took a drive to Karl’s Sausage Kitchen in Saugus, Massachusetts. I especially enjoyed their Weisswurst, which along with Seven Stars multigrain bread, was a tasty breakfast for our friends who came early to help in the kitchen.
Sausage from Karl’s, the beer, prepping for Hasenpfeffer, “Bavarian camouflage”
My favorite recipe source was Luchow’s German Cookbook, a 1950s gem with recipes from the legendary, and now sadly missed, New York restaurant. I also browsed one of my favorite food books, Culinaria Germany, for inspiration. Each book in the Culinaria series is a vivid, comprehensive encyclopedia of a region’s food. The German volume has a chapter for each state, with descriptions of regional specialites and food customs, photos and recipes.
Here’s our final menu:
- Assorted Sausages – Knockwurst, Bauernwurst, 2 types of Bratwurst
- Himmel und Erde – mashed potatoes and apples topped with sliced blood sausage and crispy onions
- Käsespätzle – Spätzle (noodle dumplings) baked with layers of Emmentaler, topped with crispy onions and browned butter
- Goulash – finished up in a crock pot while we made merry
- Hasenpfeffer – a red wine rabbit stew, also finished in a crock pot
- Pretzels – brought freshly baked by Sean and uglyagnes
- Potato Salad – generally, German potato salad is made without mayonnaise
- Cucumber Salad – just like Mom used to make, herbed with dill
- Baked Sauerkraut with Apples
- Red Cabbage
- Assorted Mustards
- Assorted Breads
- German Apple Cake
- Linzer Torte
Weisswurst for breakfast, my red dirndl, the first guests at the table, washing the steins
The day of the party, we filled the iPod with drinking songs, covered the living room in blue and white tablecoths (fortuitously left over from a party my parents had two decades ago!) and cooked all day. Even though more than 30 people came to help us eat and drink, we ended up with plenty of leftovers. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised – my shopping list included 20 pounds of apples and 10 pounds of potatoes!
Last night’s dinner was delicious! It was inspired by yesterday’s post-work trip to the Wickenden farmers’ market.
First, we started with a caprese salad made with a striped German tomato from White Barn Farm, mozzarella from Narragansett Creamery (also from the market, sold by Wishing Stone Farm) and basil from our garden plot. The tomato was giant and so sweet. I thought we’d have leftovers, but it was impossible to leave any.
Then, Jeremy grilled a chicken breast stuffed with arugula from the garden, spicy dried sausage and hot pepper cheese, both from Tony’s Colonial on Atwells. Meanwhile, I sauteed beet greens, also from White Barn Farm, with some garlic and hot pepper flakes.
What a feast! And what a great city we live in.
This year my boyfriend and I cooked Christmas dinner for my family. It’s been a busy December and we didn’t have much time to brainstorm a menu, but I think we came up with a good, and somewhat traditional, dinner.
This menu was fairly easy to time. We started the tenderloin first so it had time to rest before going into the oven. The soup could be prepared ahead of time, and the blue cheese and bacon added just before serving. The vegetables were simply roasted with the beef, and the puddings went into the oven as we were eating the main course.
Here’s what we made: