So, this post is about a week belated… oops. I had it drafted and never posted it in time.
I’ve been on a German food kick over the last few weeks, which I think towards the beginning of December when Steve and I went to New York to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. We ventured over to Reichenbach Hall for dinner, a place we found during one of our last trips. If you’ve never been there, you feel like you’re stepping into an Oktoberfest celebration when you enter the restaurant. Blue and white checkered flags hang from the ceiling, long communal wooden tables are all over, and nothing but German food and beer is served.
I’ve never been to Germany so I can’t speak for the restaurant’s authenticity. I can assume that it is probably Americanized in some ways, but it is nonetheless a fun place to visit to eat some delicious currywurst, bratwurst slices covered in a thick curry ketchup, and obatzda, a cheese spread made with a soft cheese (like brie) that is served with razor-thinly sliced raw onions and pretzels.
(Aside: although I still don’t eat meat on a regular basis and don’t plan on chomping into a steak anytime soon, I gave both currywurst and buffalo chicken pizza free passes in recent months. They quickly became two of my new guilty pleasures. )
In continuing with the trend, I made currywurst and a German vegetable-barley soup with bratwurst the weekend before Christmas. My soup recipe was loosely-based on recipes from Jamie Oliver and Saveur and I thought it came out pretty good. And although it is definitely not my favorite holiday, my Christmas menu was decidedly a German-inspired feast, too.
Appetizers were of course currywurst and obatzda. I’m also put out pretzels with cranberry mustard (canned in October), slices of a spicy German salami, and Gouda cheese with crackers (ok, that last one is from Holland, but it is still delicious).
Pulled pork on pretzel buns with sauerkraut and beer mustard was at the center of the main course. Don’t ask me why, but pulled pork was on my mind as something to make for a while, and I knew it was meant to be when they had a pork shoulder roast on sale at the grocery for cheap (something like $4.70 for 7 lbs.) I didn’t make the sauerkraut — Steve and I failed at doing that over the summer, which is a story that I’ll share some other time — but I did cook the pork in a slow cooker overnight with beer and assorted aromatics. I’m told the pork turned out really great.
I made a few of my favorite vegetables as side dishes: potato pancakes with a combination of sweet potatoes and russet potatoes, served with sour cream and homemade applesauce (my favorite thing of the night); Brussels sprouts with tri-colored carrots, which I bought frozen and just steamed with some butter and herbs thrown in; and braised red cabbage with apples and onions, since there wasn’t enough cabbage already included on the menu… ;)
For dessert, which as we’ve discussed is my favorite thing to make, I tried my hand at making a black forest cake. I baked the cake in a 9×13 pan and cut it in half across the middle to make a rectangle layer cake. The cake turned out to be a behemoth — four layers, each layer cut in half again so I could layer the homemade cherry filling in between, with a ton of vanilla whipped cream on the outside. I have to give Steve credit for making the cherry filling, which turned out awesome. For good measure, Steve also picked up some German chocolates and candies, and I got a cannoli dip tray from Wegmans, but I think everyone was too full after the cake and everything else.
Finally, I made a cherry Sangria punch, inspired by this recipe for Holiday punch. My recipe consisted of: one 1.5 liter bottle of Yellowtail sangria wine, a bag of frozen mixed berries, a handful of mint leaves, 1 cup of cherry liquor, 1 cup of tart cherry juice, 1/2 cup of orange juice, 1 cup of raspberry sorbet, 2- 12 oz cans of lime-mint seltzer water, and a few ice balls (the large, round ice spheres that you would also use to keep a glass of scotch cold). For serving, I also topped off each glass with some of the seltzer, too. I definitely think that this turned out to be one of my more successful punch recipes, certainly one I would make again. If you are having a New Year’s Eve party and don’t know what kind of drink to make, consider trying this one out. ;)
I hope everyone had a great Christmas and has a happy, safe New Year’s Eve ahead of them tonight!