Roll Out the Barrel: Oktoberfest Party

Oktoberfest Party: Photo Booth

It was one of my best friends birthday recently so we decided to throw her a birthday party with an Oktoberfest theme. Whats not to like, beer, costumes, and German food.

To start I decorated with some beer and fall things I had around the house, empty bottles, beer steins, burlap runner, dried wheat and fall leaves. I also bought a blue and white harlequin tablecloth ( the official Oktoberfest pattern) from a party store and hung it over a curtain rod in my family room to make a back drop for a ” photo booth”. I had props like steins, lederhosen, German signs and Oktoberfest bibs from the party store. I set my camera on a tripod in front of it and tried to get shots of all the party goers.

I am also very lucky that I have some home brewing friends who made a keg of beer especially for our party, delicious!  But this is a great time to taste some of the fall varieties of craft beers like Oktoberfests and Pumpkins.

For appetizers I set up a “Pretzel Stand” I had assorted flavors, shapes and sizes of pretzels and dips to go with them. I even made some homemade Pretzel Bites by following this recipe. http://www.snixykitchen.com/2012/10/24/pretzel-bites-with-four-distinct-dipping-sauces/. I made the dough a day ahead of time and covered it tightly with plastic wrap. then boiled and baked the pretzels the next day. I also found that I needed to add about 3/4 c more flour than the recipe called for to get the dough to be the right consistency but I live in Florida and baking here can be weird.

Oktoberfest Party: Homemade Pretzel Bites

Oktoberfest Party: Pretzel Stand

For dips I made a Sweet and Spicy Mustard Sauce

1 c mayonnaise

3/4 c coarse mustard

2 T  jarred grated horseradish

2 T honey

Oktoberfest Party: Sweet and Spicy Mustard

a Chocolate and Toffee Dip

1 brick cream cheese softened

1/2 c brown sugar

1/4 c white sugar

1/4 c cocoa powder

1/2 c toffee chips (Heath)

1 t vanilla

Mix all ingredients together in a mixer on low until combined.

Oktoberfest Party: Chocolate and Toffee Dip

I also made Beer Cheese Dip using an Oktoberfest Beer instead of an IPA.

To make all of the food seem more festive I labeled them with German names on the tables.

For the main course we had Brats braised in Beer, Rouladen, Oma’s Potato Salad, Saurkraut with beer and apples, and Homemade Cucumber Salad

Oktoberfest Party: Rouladen

Cucumber Salad

4 cucumbers peeled and sliced thin

1 cup sour cream

2 T sugar

2 T white vinegar

1 t dried dill

1 t salt

1/4 t black pepper

Slice cucumbers and place in a colander to drain for 20 minutes, then mix all ingredients together in a large bowl

Oktoberfest Party: Cucumber Salad

Last but not least, everyone’s favorite, cupcakes. My friend made 3 different kinds for our Oktoberfest themed party. Apple Strudel, German Chocolate and Bavarian Cream. ( I will try to get the recipes to post on here)

Oktoberfest Party: Cupcakes

Fun was had by all, the food, beer and company was all delightful. Go on try some of these ideas at your next Fall party and share your tips below.

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Oma’s Potato Salad

Oma's Potato Salad

I was not sure I would ever post this recipe here. It is kind of a family treasure. My Oma (grandmother in German) would make this for every family gathering, it was our favorite, and now my mom makes it for all the special occasions. Everyone I know who has tried it loves it, it is so simple but so good. It is not the traditional warm German potato salad, we never had that, this was the only potato salad I ever knew until I was a teen. I have tried adding some other ingredients or doing it a little different but it is just not the same. It has to be made just the way Oma taught me.  So I have been sitting on this recipe not sure if it was a sacred family secret, and then my mom asked me to share it (said it would be perfect for Summer barbecues) so I guess it is ok to let the family treasure out of the bag. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Oma’s Potato Salad

5 lbs red skinned potatoes

1 c mayo

1 c  dill pickles chopped, **only use Claussen or other high quality refrigerated pickles

1 cup red onion chopped

1/2 c of the juice from the pickle jar

salt and pepper

Boil unpeeled red potatoes whole in salted water until they are cooked through. Use a fork to test doneness. Drain and wait until the potatoes are cool enough to handle but still warm (very important).  Peel and cut into bite sized pieces and place into a large bowl. while the potatoes are still warm pour 1/2 or the pickle juice over the top ( 1/4 c) When the potatoes are warm they absorb the pickle juice like a sponge, much like salting fries when they are still warm. Stir in the mayo, chopped pickles and onions and rest of the pickle juice. stir until combined and add salt and pepper to taste. Chill and serve. ( Although my son likes it best when it is still a little warm)

Oma's Potato Salad

Oma's Potato Salad

Sharing a Labor of Love: Oma’s Rouladen

Some of my favorite memories of my Oma (that’s grandmother in German) are in the kitchen. She patiently (or sometimes not so patiently) taught me how to make several traditional German family favorites. I was her oldest grandchild born to her oldest son so I was chosen to carry on these traditions. I wasn’t so sure as a young girl but now I know I was the lucky one that got to spend many a weekend learning to prepare  potato salads, crumb cake, kohlrouladen, potato pancakes, and rouladen. There were no written recipes, she just knew how to do it by feel, and taught me the same way. I admit this was difficult, but it was when I was cooking with her that I really learned that cooking was more than following a recipe, it was about making something for someone, a gift to be enjoyed by family and friends, a way to show someone you love them.

I now have a love for cooking, it is a way for me to relax, a hobby that takes my mind off the ordinary and mundane. It is a way for me to give back to the people I care about. I don’t always include my children in the actual process of cooking, it is my time, but when ever I make one of my Oma’s recipes I get nostalgic and without even thinking invite my son into the kitchen with me. It is like there is something more than food with these recipes, it is a bond that must be passed on. This week when Rouladen was on the menu he joined me at my side and I realized that even though we don’t have this dish that often he already knew exactly how to make it. We didn’t even get out measuring cups, but he just looked at the ingredients we had prepared and said we are going to need more pickles and  he went straight to work chopping up some more. I smiled and knew my job was done, he is now the chosen one, I hope someday he thinks he’s lucky.

Oma’s Beef Rouladen

1 1/2 lbs of thinly sliced bottom round steak

1/4 c dijon mustard

approx 6 strips of raw bacon cut in half

1 c chopped dill pickles (use the refrigerated kind)

1 c chopped red onion

2 T butter

2 T flour

2 1/2 c  stock or water

1/4 t pepper

Place the steaks between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet until thin but not falling apart. Spread a thin layer of mustard on the steak, place 1/2 a strip of bacon on each piece of meat. Add about 1 1/2 t of chopped pickles, and 1 1/2 t chopped onion to the top of each steak. Roll meat into a bundle and secure with a small wooden skewer or a couple of toothpicks,making sure the onions and pickles will not come out.

Preheat an electric frying pan and melt the butter over med high heat. Add the rouladen and brown on both sides.

Add 1 cup chicken or beef stock or water, reduce heat to low and simmer for one hour. Remove the rouladen from pan.

Add 1 1/2 c water or stock mixed with 2 T flour to the pan, bring to a boil and then reduce heat, cook until gravy is slightly thickened, about 4 minutes.

Serve with boiled potatoes and cabbage or collard greens if you are a southerner like me.

Bratwurst with Warm Bacon, Onion, and Pickle Relish

 

There is a lot of German in this girl. My Dad was born there, I called my Grandparents Oma and Opa. Sometimes I crave the flavors that they introduced me to. I especially love Rouladen (meat rolls) and Kohlrouladen (cabbage rolls)  but they can be labor intensive. For this recipe I tried to capture the flavors of the rouladen in an easy weeknight meal. In my opinion it was pretty good and easy too. This relish would be equally as good on pork chops, hot dogs or any sausage.

Warm Bacon, Onion and Pickle Relish

1/2 c chopped raw bacon

1 c chopped red onion

1 c chopped dill pickles ( use the refrigerated variety,  better quality, flavor, and texture)

2T apple cider vinegar

1 t sugar

 

Add bacon to a large hot frying pan, cook over med high heat for about 3 minutes, add onions and cook until bacon is crisp and browned about 3 more minutes. Drain excess fat and add pickles cook for 2 minutes

Add vinegar and sugar. Heat through and serve over prepared bratwurst, add mustard if desired.