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An Alsatian Sausage-Tasting Party
The fascinating variety of sausages and mustards available in the marketplace offers a fine excuse for a party theme. A sampling of sausages can be incorporated with the famous Alsatian dish, choucroute garnie, meaning sauerkraut with all its trimmings. Besides traditional rich sausages, many are available in low-fat style. This menu is appropriate for an informal party with friends. It also suits a ski country dinner.
The classic Alsatian dish itself is the meal rounded out with complementary accompaniments. If you have a fire going, you may choose to grill some raclette cheese, to savor with little boiled new potatoes. This can also be handled easily in an oven. A wine-scented hot bread puff also makes a novel appetizer. For dessert, wine-baked apples or a fruit tart are sublime.
For sipping, this is the time to enjoy a micro-beer tasting. Or consider an Alsatian or Washington Riesling or the 1996 Fogarty Gewürztraminer.
This golden brown cheese puff can serve double duty as an appetizer or light entree accompaniment to a soup or salad supper.
Quick Wine Cheese Puff
Makes about 1 dozen appetizers or 6 entree servings
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 shallot or green onion, finely chopped
1 cup grated Jarlsberg or Swiss cheese or low-fat Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Beat the eggs until light and mix in flour, wine, milk, salt, and mustard mixing until blended. Add shallot, Jarlsberg cheese, and butter. Pour into a buttered 9-inch pie pan and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Cut in wedges.
Raclette with Spuds and Fennel
Makes 8 appetizers
16 tiny new potatoes (red, purple or gold or an assortment)
8 ounces Raclette, Gruyère, samsoe or Jarlsberg cheese
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and sliced
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until just tender, about 15 minutes; drain. Thinly slice the cheese and place in 2 baking dishes. Heat in the oven until the cheese is melted and starts to brown, about 10 minutes. Serve cheese ramekins in the center of the table surrounded with potatoes and fennel.
The flours may vary in this wholesome bread. If barley is unavailable substitute whole-wheat flour.
Four Grain Bread
Makes 3 loaves
2-1/2 cups water
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
2 packages active dry yeast
Zest of 1 orange, cut in julienne pieces
2-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup canola oil or butter
1/4 cup dark molasses
1 cup milk
1-1/2 cups barley flour
1 cup rye flour
3 cups bread or unbleached flour
Place in a saucepan 2 cups of the water and the oatmeal; bring to a boil, boil 1 minute, and turn into a mixing bowl; let cool to lukewarm. Sprinkle yeast into the remaining 1/2 cup water and let stand until dissolved. Add to the oatmeal mixture the orange zest, yeast, salt, oil and molasses. Heat the milk until warm and stir in. Gradually add the barley, rye, and bread flours, mixing to make a soft dough.
Turn out on a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic. Place in a bowl, grease top lightly, cover and let rise until doubled in size. Turn out of pan, punch down, and knead to remove air bubbles. Divide into three parts and shape into loaves. Place in greased 9-by 5-inch loaf pans or shape into round loaves and place on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the loaves sound hollow when thumped.
Makes 8 servings
3 pounds sausages
2 slices salt pork or thickly sliced bacon
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 pound pork links, sliced or smoked pork chops
2 tart cooking apples, such as pippin, Jonathan, or Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 small smoked ham hock (about 3/4 pound)
1 bay leaf
2 whole cloves
4 black peppercorns
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
2 pounds assorted sausages: bratwurst, knackwurst, kielbasa, veal frankfurters, cocktail frankfurters, or Italian garlic sausages
Turn sauerkraut into a strainer, rinse thorouthly under cold runnning water, and drain well. Dice salt pork or bacon and sauté in a large flameproof casserole or pot. Add the onion and sauté in drippings until golden brown. Add the pork loin or chops and brown. Add the sauerkraut, apples, ham hock, bay leaf, cloves, peppercorns, and wine. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Cover and bake in the oven for 2 1/2 hours. Add the sausages, spooning some of the juices over them. Continue baking 30 minutes longer, or until the sausages are thoroughly heated. To serve, mound the sauerkraut on a hot platter. Top with pork loin or chops and skinned ham hock. Surround with sausages.
Pine nuts and golden raisins lend a chewy sweetness to delicious baked apples. Choose a firm apple that will hold its shape such as Rome Beauty, pippin, or Granny Smith.
Riesling Baked Apples
Makes 8 servings
8 firm apples
4 tablespoons golden raisins
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup semi-dry white fruity wine, such as riesling
Cream, if desired
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Peel the top third of the apples and core. Place in a baking pan. Stuff the center of each with raisins and pine nuts. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over. Dot with butter. Pour in wine. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the apples are tender when pierced with a knife. Serve warm with cream, if desired.
Apple Hazelnut Tart
Makes 8 servings
Butter Crust: follows
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
7 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/3 cup coarsely chopped roasted, skinned hazelnuts
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Prepare the Butter Crust. Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a large skillet, melt the butter with 1/4 cup sugar and when it starts to melt add the apples. Let sauté, turning until the apples soften and start to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Spoon into the crust, top with nuts and sprinkle with the remaining sugar and the cinnamon. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the nuts and topping are golden and the apples very tender. If the top should brown before the apples are tender, cover with a sheet of foil. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.
Butter Crust: Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a food processor combine 1 cup all-purpose flour, 6 tablespoons butter, diced, and 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, processing until fine loose crumbs form. Pat into an 11-inch flan pan with removable bottom. Freeze 10 minutes. Bake in the oven for 8 minutes or until browned; let cool.
Lou Seibert Pappas is a former food editor of the Palo Alto Times Tribune and a home economist with Sunset Magazine. She currently writes food, home, and travel-related articles for national magazines and newspapers and is the author of more than 30 books.