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Global Inspiration: A German Menu

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A year or two ago I got on a big kick with German food. I’m not quite sure what started it, but it could’ve been as simple as drinking a lot of Weihenstephaner at the time and wondering, Hmm, I haven’t made a lot of German food. I wonder what kind of delicacies I’m missing out on…

At any rate, the proverbial Pandora’s box opened and I ended up creating a German-inspired feast for Christmas that year. Many of the recipes have since become staples for me—especially right before or after big holiday gatherings when people are tired of turkey, ham, and other traditional holiday meats.

Try a combination of the these recipes to create a delicious, globally-inspired menu for your next gathering.

Appetizers

  • Currywurst: A notable street food, you can make curry ketchup yourself or find a good pre-made variety. Pan-fry bratwurst until golden and a little crispy. Remove from heat and cool until you can handle them to slice into rounds about 1/4″ thick. Add back to the pan along with a generous amount of the curry ketchup. Reheat and serve family-style in a big bowl or platter, and guests can use toothpicks to eat the currywurst. I like these toothpicks, which look like little forks.
  • Obatzda: A delicious, spreadable cheese that is made with brie and served with paper-thin slices of onions and paprika.

Main Courses

  • Vegetable-barley soup with bratwurst: Filling and comforting, you can serve this in small portions as a starter or in larger portions with a side salad and good bread or rolls for a complete meal. Try these soup recipes from Jamie Oliver and Saveur.
  • Pulled pork on pretzel buns with sauerkraut and beer mustard: Pork shoulder roast is easy and cheap to find at most grocery stores. Cook it in advance with a slow cooker; add the roast, beer, and assorted aromatics and let cook overnight for dinner the next day. (As a bonus, it makes the whole house smell good.)

Side Dishes

  • Potato pancakes: I like using a combination of sweet potatoes and russet potatoes for my potato pancakes. Put on a baking sheet in the oven as you cook them to keep them warm, then serve with sour cream and homemade applesauce. Martha Stewart has a recipe for potato pancakes that I use as a guideline and alter accordingly.
  • Brussels sprouts with carrots: Get tri-color carrots (they taste the same as regular carrots but add a nice variety of color) and fresh Brussels sprouts if you can. Fine Cooking has a nice guide on how to trim fresh Brussels sprouts that’s worth looking at if you need help with preparation. Steam the sprouts in carrots with butter, parsley, and thyme. I have a microwaveable steamer which helps save some space on the range as I’m cooking other things.
  • Braised red cabbage with apples and onions: Nutritious, colorful, and a little sweet from the apple. Another recipe that is easy to make ahead of time in a slow cooker or in a Dutch oven, too.

Desserts

  • Black forest cake: Rich chocolate cake, homemade cherry filling, and a ton of vanilla whipped cream make this nothing short of decadent. Make the chocolate cake using your favorite recipe in two 9″ round cake pans or do what I did the last time I made it and use one, 9″ x 13″ pan. After the cake baked and cooled, I cut the cake in half across the middle, trimmed it, added the filling, stacked the other cake on top, and frosted the whole thing. It made a rectangle, bar-shaped cake. You could also get fancy and use a little circle cookie cutter to cut out pieces of the cake, fill them, and stack them like you’re making small, individual cakes.
  • Gingerbread (Lebkuchen): Some people like gingerbread and others don’t, but I’m in the category of those who do. The Spruce offers recipes for regional varieties of Lebkuchen, including heart-shaped Markt Lebkuchenherzen cookies similar to those pictured above.

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