Alsatian Christmas menu

20 December 2017

Are you still hesitating what to make for your Christmas meal? We have an idea : Christmas in Alsace! Last year we tried an all vegeterian christmas meal, which was quiet succesful. But this year we wanted to honor our region, Alsace. And, it is clear that the vegetarian diet is quite difficult to reconcile with the Alsatian cuisine, so for once we have very carnivorous recipes for you. To develop this menu we searched in old cookbooks of my grandmother and our choices  stopped on some little less known specialties than sauerkraut or pretzels. Drum roll…

Here is our menu for a Christmas in Alsace:

Appetizer

Savoury Dampfnudel and trout rillettes

Main dish

Süri Rüewe (fermented turnip with smoked porc shoulder and lard)

Dessert

Pavlova stuffed with gewurztraminer cream and white wine poched apples

The stage is set, you feel that big fat meal coming meal. The food we made had a lot of flavors because we used a lot of spices and fragrant herbs. For the table decor we used some traditional elements of the region associated with a minimalist staging to break the somewhat heavy side of the checkered tablecloth and patterned plates. Pinterest had suggested as a great decorating idea to hang a fir branch at the top of the table. It was very charming but not very clever because one of our guests who happened to be very tall came into competition with the branch and ate a few pine needles ..

Savoury Dampfnudel

Dampfnudels are steamed buns that are eaten either sweet with applesauce or savoury. It is a more typical recipe from northern Alsace and I discovered it with such pleasure! It is a real delight. For the record, I tried this recipe several times with dehydrated baker’s yeast and it was a terrible failure so to avoid disappointment I advise you to use fresh yeast cubes.

Ingredients (for 8):
  • 400 g Flour
  • 15 g Sugar
  • 3 Pinch of salt
  • 20 g Fresh yeast
  • 60 g Salted butter
  • 15 cl Milk
  • 1 Egg

 

Warm up the milk.

 

Crumb the yeast into the warm milk.

 

Dig a holer in the flour. Add the egg, salt and warm milk.

 

Stir in the softened butter and knead until the dough does not stick to the edge of the bowl.

 

Let the dough rise in a relatively warm place by covering it with a cloth (leave to rest for at least 1 hour).

 

Roll the dough on a clean surface covered with baking sheet (you can also cover your dough with a baking sheet to prevent it from sticking to the roll).

 

When your dough is about 2.5cm thick, form circles with a cookie cutter or a cup.

 

Let the dough rise again for at least 30 minutes (and yes you have to be patient!) Then you can cut out star shapes in the dough with a cookie cutter or you can choose to cook the buns as they are.

 

In a frying pan, heat the butter and sugar. When the mixture is hot, place the buns without having them touch one another.

 

Quickly add the salted water halfway up. Avoid pouring it over the buns. Cover the pan immediately after.

 

Let the buns simmer for 5 minutes without removing the lid. Turn around the Dampfnudels and fry for another 5 minutes so that both sides are browned.

 

Trout and horseradish rillette

To accompany these christmassy buns, you can prepare fish rillettes. More precisely trout rillettes, because it is a fish that we find alot in our region. And to spice it up a little I chose to add horseradish paste, a sptrong tasting and creamy condiment typical of Alsace.

Ingredients  (for 8):
  • 150g Trout filet
  • 100g Smoked trout
  • 5 Tbsp 40% cottage cheese
  • 2 Tsp Horseraddish paste
  • Some pink peppercorns
  • 2 Tbsp Chopped parsley

 

Cook the trout fillet over low heat in plenty of the olive oil (10min 150 ° c).

 

Crumble the cooked trout and mix with the smoked trout cut into small cubes.

 

In a bowl, mix 5 teaspoons of cottage cheese with 2 teaspoons of horseradish paste.

 

Salt, then add the chopped parsley and mix everything.

 

Sprinkle the rillette with pink peppercorns.

Süri Rüewe
(Fermented turnip with smoked meats)

If you like sauerkraut, you will love fermented turnip. Indeed these two dishes are very similar. And between us, we both had a small preference for fermented turnips.
At first we
thought of making a more traditional Alsatian Christmas dish, such as Baeckeoffe. But when we came across the fermented turnip recipe and tried it for the first time, we thought we had to share this succulent recipe with others. It’s comforting, delicious, and at the same time leaves a little room for a dessert;)

In Alsace, starting fro november till January you’ll find fermented turnips (the ingredient and not thr dish) in most butcher shops. But if you can not find it or just if you like making things from scratch, know that making fermented turnips is super easy. You just have to plan at least two weeks for the fermentation. Simply grate turnips and enclose them in a jar with salt water (normally we use 30g of salt for 1 liter of water).

Ingredients (for 8):
  • 2Kg Fermented turnips
  • 200g Goose fat (or other fats) + 1 Tpsp
  • 2 Onions
  • 1Kg Smoked porc shoulder
  • 400g Smoked lard
  • 4 Garlic cloves
  • 5 Cloves
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • 2 Branches of thym
  • 1/4 Tsp Grated nutmeg
  • 1 Tsp Peppercorns
  • Salt
  • 60ml White wine
  • 20ml Water
  • 1Kg Potato

 

Melt the 200g of goose fat in a pot over medium heat and add the chopped onion. Fry the onions until lightly browned.

 

Place half of the fermented turnip (drained) on the onions. Then put the smoked porc shoulder and lard slices on top. Add the garlic cloves, spices, herbs, salt and pepper. Cover everything with the rest of the fermented turnips.

 

Pour the white wine with the water. Cover the pot and keep it simmering over low heat for 2 hours.

 

In the meantime, prepare the potatoes: Cut them into slices of about 1,5cm and cook them in boiling water for 5 minutes.

 

Melt 1Tbsp of the remaining goose fat in a frying pan and sauté the potato slices for 3-4 minutes (turn around halfway through cooking). They must become slightly crispy on the outside but still soft on the inside.

 

Place some slices of potato in each plate, then a small handful of fermented turnip, a slice of smoked porc shoulder and a piece of lard.

Meringue crown filled with gewurztraminer curd and poched apples

Our initial idea for our Christmas dessert was to make a simple white wine cream (a typical Alsatian recipe), and specifacly a gewurztraminer type of wine. But after having tested it a few times, we thought its look wasn’t majestic enough for a Christmas table. We then had the idea of ​​making a sort yule wreath by combining this delicious cream with other ingredients and why not fruits of the region. The Christkindel apple seemed like an obvious choice. It is a rare variety of apple that is found in Alsace in winter and is directly associated with Christmas (it means little jesus in german and alsatian). To give shape to all that, we were inspired by the Polish Pavlovas. We stuffed this meringue crown with our white wine cream. We poached the apples in the rest of the white wine used for the cream, and hibiscus petals to give them color and perfume.

If you can not find Christkindel apples, you can simply trim other types of apples to make them smaller, or cut them into quarters to fit on the Pavlova.

Another thing you should know before making this dessert is that it is quit diffucult to achieve. If you have no experience with meringue making it might be a bit challanging.

Ingredients (for 8):

For the meringue

  • 4 Egg whites
  • Sugar (2 times the weight of the egg whites)
  • A few drops of vanilla extract

For the white wine cream

  • 2 Eggs
  • 4 Egg yolks
  • A pinch of lemon zeste
  • 200g Sugar
  • 250 ml White wine (gewurztramier or another type of sweet wine)

For the poched apples

  • 4-5 Tiny apples
  • 500ml White wine (the rest of the bottle you used for the cream)
  • 200g Sugar
  • A handful of hibiscus petals

 

 

 

Let’s start with the meringue: Preheat your oven to 200 ° C.

 

Clean your bowl and whisk. It is very important that there is no trace of greas on your equipment. To get it right, press a piece of lemon against the sides of the bowl and whisk, then wipe with a cloth.

 

Warm up your sugar in the oven for 7 minutes on 150°c. Keep the oven on afterwards.

 

Separate the egg whites from the yolks and add a pinch of fine sea salt. Keep the egg yolks for the white wine cream.

 

Start whipping the egg whites, first on minimum speed, and once small bubbles have appeared, turn up the speed. Put on top speed 30 seconds before the sugar comes out of the oven.

 

When the whites have turned to soft peaks, add the sugar, one spoon at a time, while whisking. Lower the oven temperature to 100 ° C.

 

Take a little meringue between your fingers. If you do not feel the sugar granules anymore, it’s ready. If you do continue whisking.

 

Add the vanilla and whip again.

 

Pour 1/3 of the meringue into a piping bag.

On a baking tray, covered with baking sheet, spread a thin layer of meringue in the shape of a crown (about 20 cm diameter). Then add some extra layers to the edges of this shape to create a hollow space between. If you have a small round mold to hold the edges it’ll be much better.

 

Bake this first layer of meringue for 1 hour.

 

In the meantime prepare the white wine cream: Beat the eggs and egg yolks until they start to foam.

 

Add lemon zest, sugar and wine bench and whisk for 4-5 minutes. At this point you will get a nice thick foam.

 

Heat the mixture over low heat without while you continue whipping. Continue heating until the mixture has become thick. The thicker the cream, the better it will hold itself in the meringue. Let the cream cool afterwards.

 

When the first layer of the meringue is baked, take it out of the oven and start filling the hollow space of the crown with the white wine cream.

 

Fill your pastry bag with the rest of the meringue and cover, very delicately, the white wine cream.

 

You can create shapes on this crown if you want but rember mostly to dig small spaces to in the meringue for placing the apples later on, other -wise the apples will slip off the edges.

 

Bake the meringue crown for an hour. It is very possible that your white wine cream leaks and forms a small puddle in the center of the meringue. you can clean the center of the crown once the baking is finished and the pavlova has cooled down. We decided to keep this cream in the middle because it looked quit nice at the end.

 

Meanwhile prepare the poached apples: peel the apples.

 

Heat the white wine with the sugar and hibiscus.

 

Once the sugar is fully diluted and the hibiscus infused, add the apples and cook them with the syrup for 20 minutes.

 

Let the apples cool and dry and once the meringue crown is out of the oven let it cool as well.

 

Gently place the apples on the meringue crown. To decorate, you can add orange zest or candied kumquat and rosemary (for the fir aspect). That’s it, you have your Christmas dessert!

 

Merry christmas, or as we say in Alsace, a Gleckliches Wihnachte!

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