Menu 7: From Cologne to Copenhagen - Christmas Markets menu Photo: Erfurt Christmas Market, Germany
Grilled Feta Baguettes (Cologne, Germany) - salty spicy marinated feta cheese, on halved toasted baguette, drizzled with herbed chilli-flavoured oil Schupfnudeln (Munich, Germany) – German gnocchdumpling shapes, fried with bacon, cabbage and lightly seasoned with caraway Coupe Danemark (Copenhagen, Denmark) – vanilla ice cream, smothered in warm dark chocolate sauce, topped with whipped cream Drink suggestion:Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder) is the ideal match, or in cold weather, a mulled wine would go down a treat.
Starters - Grilled Feta Baguette - Cologne Christmas Market (vegetarian) Wander through the evening market, savoury smells tempting you in, everyone’s cheerful, in a great mood. Feta cheese, marinated in garlic, chilli and herbs, grilled on crisp baguettes, drizzled and dripping with more of the spicy oil; your mouth is watering, your stomach is warm and happy
Preparation: marinate the feta for at least 2 days; can be much longer. Final preparation, 20 minutes.
2 x 200g packs feta cheese
Mix of olive oil, sunflower oil, rape oil and you can use the oil from those jars of tomatoes or artichokes in oil as they already have herbs in – about 200ml.
1 fresh red chilli, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, roughly sliced
2 bay leaves, and other fresh herbs if you can get them
Peppercorns, dried oregano, dried thyme, chilli flakes – whatever dried herb mixture you like
1 long baguette, as fresh and crisp as you can
Several days before eating, marinate your cheese. Mix the oils with the chilli, garlic, bay, and dried herbs and spices in a leak proof fridge container. Take the cheese out of its packet and cut in half across and then cut each piece across its equator, to make thinner pieces. Put all the cheese into the container, fix the lid, turn it back and forth a couple of times to distribute the oil and then leave in the fridge for a few days. Turn it again a few times a day, whenever you’ve got the fridge open.
On the day: Pre-heat your grill to a high setting. Cut the baguette into 3 slices and then halve each piece, so you have 6 long half-pieces. Grill these lightly – 2-3 minutes max - just to toast the top surface.
Drizzle some of the oil from the container over the toasts, especially at the edges, and then cover the slices with the cheese pieces. Drizzle a bit more oil over, adding any pieces of marinated chilli you find. Grill for a few minutes until the cheese just starts to brown - it won’t melt like cheddar.
Serve: eat hot, with maybe a few rocket leaves scattered artistically on the cheese, or some chopped chillies and coriander.
Main Course - Schupfnudeln, Munich Christmas Market (vegetarian option)
Aromatic smells tempt you towards the Schupfnudeln – shaped gnocchi fried in butter with cubes of smoked bacon, melting fried cabbage and savoury onion, accented with European caraway.
They sound odd, but they’re plump and fluffy and delicious, and surprisingly easy to make. They’re the German equivalent of the Italian gnocchi, which gives you an idea of the texture. The name just means “pinched dumplings” which indicates that you don’t need a machine to make them.
In the Munich Christmas Market you will find schupfnudeln billowing their savoury smell along the alleys of wooden huts, heaving with woolly-wrapped merry makers. The dumplings are fried up with smoked bacon, sweet onions, tangy sauerkraut and a sprinkling of caraway seeds for a very characteristic taste. Spear them with a fork; and enjoy a genuine continental Christmas treat.
Preparation: Peeling and boiling potatoes – 30 minutes. Then making the dumplings – 1 hour. Final preparation – 20 minutes.
300g mashed potato (to get 300g mash I boiled 580g red potatoes)
200g plain flour
2 medium eggs
120g piece of smoked bacon (you could use rashers but I like to cut chunks) - cut into fat chunks - leave out for the vegetarian version
140g white cabbage, shredded
1 medium onion, about 80g, peeled and chopped finely
200g sauerkraut, drained of its liquid - if you don’t like this, you can leave it out but the sour taste and crunch is part of the genuine recipe
2 teaspoons whole caraway seeds, optional
Mix the mashed potato, flour and eggs together, season with salt and pepper. Use your hands to form a soft dough and mix well, but don’t knead. Cover the dough and chill in the fridge while you bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.
Remove 1/6th of the dough from the lump. Roll it on a floured worktop, like rolling playdough into a long snake about 2cm thick. Pinch off pieces about 2cm long and roll on your palm - the shape of your hand will naturally make a worm-shaped piece of dough, thinner at the ends than at the middle. This is what you want. Roll about 25 pieces like this and drop them into the boiling water. Don’t overload the pan, you want the water to retain the heat and boil the batch up quickly. They will rise to the top and expand as they cook, taking about 1-2 minutes. Scoop out the cooked dumplings and place them on a fine wire rack or on a tea towel, so they don’t sit in liquid. Keep going until you’ve done all the dough. You get quicker as you go along!
At this stage you can cool your schupfnudeln and keep them for a day covered in the fridge until you want to cook them. You can also freeze them on a metal tray and put them in a bag once frozen. Cook straight from frozen, without thawing if you do this.
About 30 minutes before eating, start to fry your bacon in your largest frying pan in a generous amount of vegetable oil. Fry until browned and starting to crisp, then add your onions to the pan. Fry for a few minutes until transparent and starting to brown and then add the shredded cabbage. Fry for another few minutes and then add the butter to the pan. When sizzling, add the caraway seeds and tip in your schupfnudeln. Turn with a spatula to brown all sides and warm through, then add the sauerkraut to the pan. Fry a little longer to cook through, adding a little more butter if you need.
Serve: A lovely portion, in a bowl, eaten with a fork.
Dessert - Coupe Danemark, Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark
Dive into the world of Danish desserts as you stroll the Tivoli Gardens - ice cream melting under a scoop of chocolatety caramelly buttery sauce, whipped cream floating on top.
I have cheated and used shop bought vanilla ice-cream but I will have some recipes for home made ice-cream on my blog when the weather is more suitable for thinking about making your own frozen desserts.
1 carton good vanilla ice-cream
500ml double or whipping cream, whipped until stiff and put into a piping bag with a wide star nozzle
30g hazelnuts, options. Chocolate curls to decorate.
For the sauce: 2 Mars bars, 50g butter, 50g golden syrup, 100g dark chocolate
Roast the hazelnuts in a small frying pan for a few minutes and bash them with a potato masher or solid block to get crumbled pieces. Leave on kitchen paper to cool.
Put all the sauce ingredients into a microwave bowl and blast for 30 seconds. Stir, blast again for 30 seconds. Check the consistency, if you need more butter, add a little more to keep the sauce glossy and pourable.
Spoon a generous helping of ice-cream into each sundae glass. Pipe cream round the outside and spoon hot sauce down the middle, so it hits the ice cream. Pipe a little cream on top and sprinkle over some roast chopped hazelnuts.
Serve: with a few chocolate sprinkles or curls on top, straightaway.