Oktoberfest at home

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October 2017

Willkommen, Oktober! Fall is in the air, with its cooler weather, football and upcoming holidays. I like to take this time to catch my breath and reconnect with family and friends. This month is perfect for celebrating my heritage through food and a fun German-themed meal. I turn to several recipes to transport guests to Munich or Berlin without ever leaving the comfort of home.

If there is one thing about German food, it’s that every meal seems to begin with pork. I suggest the pork tenderloin in creamy mustard sauce from the Junior League’s Stop and Smell the Rosemary cookbook. The pork is lightly sautéed rather than deep-fried like traditional German schnitzel. It offers the same comfort-food feeling without all the fat. The creamy mustard sauce is decadent without being too heavy.

I would accompany the pork with two traditional sides. First, from Stop and Smell the Rosemary, the sweet & sour braised cabbage is a one-pot wonder that can even be made a day in advance and reheated when guests arrive. Gloria’s hot potato salad from the Houston Junior League Cookbook is the traditional German potato salad I grew up on, with bacon, vinegar and green onions. As an alternative to the potato salad, you could also serve the pork with simple buttered egg noodles.

To make ahead and heat up on a busy weeknight, consider the stuffed cabbage leaves from the Houston Junior League Cookbook. If you have never had these before, you’re in for a treat. Green cabbage leaves are stuffed with ground beef, seasonings and rice, and then topped with a sweet and tart tomato-based sauce with just a touch of honey and sour cream. Although they are somewhat labor intensive to make, you can mix them up and assemble the casserole on a weekend, and then pop in the oven on a weeknight.

At every family gathering when I was a child, one thing was for sure. We would end our meal with sweet rice and sometimes have it for breakfast the next day.  My grandmother and her four sisters would each make their own variation of the rice pudding. Don’t tell my grandmother, but Aunt Stella’s was always the best. For a modern twist on this classic dessert, try the coconut lime rice pudding in Peace Meals. One tip: Use medium grain rice in place of the basmati rice. My Aunt Stella’s secret to the creamiest sweet rice was medium grain rice because it contains more gluten than long grain. You could also opt for the not-too-sweet soft ginger cookies from Peace Meals, or better yet, serve both.

Finally, add your favorite German beer or wine and enjoy. Prost!

To buy a Junior League of  Houston cookbook, see jlh.org or call 713-871-6608.

Source: October 1, 2017 The Buzz Magazines, by Jennifer Dennis Weinstock