Fresh From the Farm – Katie Malich

It’s celebration time! Culver City welcomed its second Farmers Market this past Saturday. It is held on Saturday mornings from 7:30 – 11:30 a.m. in the northeast corner of the Westfield Culver City mall parking lot at Hannum and Slauson.

Last week marked the 200th anniversary of another gala celebration: Oktoberfest. In 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese held a great public horse race as part of their marriage celebrations in Bavaria. The race was so popular that it was held again in 1811, along with an agricultural show to promote Bavarian agriculture. Two hundred years later, Munich’s Oktoberfest has grown to a 17-day long fair which draws six million visitors annually. The world’s largest fair opens with a ceremonial 12 gun salute and the tapping of the first barrel of Oktoberfest brew followed by the proclaimation “O’zapfit is!” (“It is tapped!”)

Oktoberfest celebrations now span the globe, from Brazil to Vietnam, Canada to the Palestinian Territories, Milwaulkee to Big Bear. Closer to home, resturants, like Torrance’s Alpine Village, Westchester’s Chalet Edelweiss, and Silver Lake’s Red Lion Tavern, feature special Oktoberfest menus and music.

Even better are get-togethers with family and friends for Oktober-themed bar-be-ques, parties and dinners. Culver City’s farmers markets are a great place to get authentic German soft pretzels, sausages, chicken, cabbage, potatoes and apples for these celebrations. None of our farmers market vendors sell beer, but Culver City’s supermarkets, Home Brewing supply store, Trader Joe’s, Sorrento’s and restaurants featuring boutique hand-crafted brews are great local sources for the traditional Oktoberfest beverage of choice. Designated drivers and non-drinkers don’t have to miss out on lifting those traditional glass mugs of larger; Claustheimer makes an excellent Germanic non-alcoholic beer.

As far as I know, the beer pavilions in Bavaria don’t serve deep-fried Twinkies and Snickers on a stick, but simple, hearty, fair food is common. Candy’s Gourmet Sausages at the Tuesday Culver City Farmer’s Market is the place to stock up on brautwurst and sausages. Rockenwager Bakery’s stand serves to-die-for fresh traditional German pretzels. But Oktoberfest is not just finger food. Celebrants can also enjoy full, sit down Bavarian and German fare. Hot potato salad and braised cabbage accompany roast chicken; pork and sauerkraut sit nestled next to plump, steaming dumplings. Hearty rye bread topped with cheese spread, pickles and sweet desserts round out the menu. Try one or two of the following easy, traditional recipes to get into the Oktoberfest celebratory mood.

Hot Bavarian Potato Salad
(serves 10-12)

3 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, well-scrubbed
1/2 c. bacon, diced (if you find it, German-style double-smoked bacon works well)
1 large white onion
1 c. beef broth
8 T. apple cider cider vinegar
7 T. vegetable oil
1 heaping T. sugar
2 large sour German-style pickles (OK to substitute large Polish pickles)
2 medium tart apples such as Granny Smith or Pink Lady (optional)
1 t. salt
1 t. medium-hot German-style whole grain mustard
1 t. ground black pepper
1 T. minced fresh parsley

Cook the potatoes (with their skins on) in gently boiling salted water. Saute the diced bacon until the pieces are browned. Remove the bacon pieces from the pan and set aside. Saute the diced onion in the rendered bacon grease until translucent. Add beef broth and bring to a simmer, then add the vinegar and vegetable oil. Remove pan from heat. Add sugar, pickles, and spices, and stir. If you are adding apples, do so now, and stir to coat. (Fall is apple season, but personally, I prefer the potato salad without them.) When potatoes are tender but still firm, remove from the water and allow to cool enough so they can be handled. Skin (if desired; I keep the thin yukon gold skins on the potatoes.) Slice potatoes into 1/2 inch thick slices. Place the sliced potatoes in a bowl and add the marinade. Toss gently. Let sit for an hour or so, unrefrigerated, for the marinade to soak into the potatoes. Just before serving, warm slightly and add the bacon bits. Garnish with minced parsley.

Cooked Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage
(serves 12)

3/4 cup water
1 medium head red cabbage, finely shredded
3 large or 4 medium tart apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. apple cider white vinegar
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. ground allspice
1/4 t. ground cloves
2 T. salted butter, divided (add generous pinch of salt to other spices if using unsalted butter)
Place water in a large saucepan, and stir in cabbage, apples, brown sugar, vinegar, and spices, and 1 tablespoon butter. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and cover. Simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is tender. Before serving, stir in remaining tablespoon of butter.
Bierocks (meat pastries)
(12-20 servings)
You can use 2 (1 pound) loaves of frozen bread dough, thawed, or make your own dough (see below). If you use frozen bread dough and follow the directions below, you will have 12 bierocks. The homemade dough can be divided into 20 pieces, which provides 20 slightly smaller bierocks.
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 t. salt
1 t. lemon pepper
1 small head green cabbage (approximately 6 cups), chopped
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
2 t. caraway seeds
1/2 c. melted butter

Saute beef, onion, garlic, salt and lemon pepper in a large skillet over medium high heat, until beef is browned. Add cabbage, Worcestershire sauce and caraway seeds. Lower heat to medium and cook until cabbage is limp. Drain liquid from mixture.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Follow these directions if you are using thawed purchased frozen bread dough:
On a lightly floured board, roll each loaf of dough into a 12 inch circle. Cut each circle into 6 wedges. Spoon cabbage/beef filling onto center of each dough piece, dividing equally. Pull three points of each wedge up to the center and pinch to seal. Place bierocks on a lightly greased cookie sheet. If desired, brush dough with melted butter or egg wash (1 egg white with 2 tablespoons water). Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Follow these directions if you are using home-made fresh dough:

Dough Ingredients:
2 cups warm water
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1/2 c. white sugar
1/4 c. butter, softened
1 egg
2 t. salt
7 c. all-purpose flour

To prepare the dough, pour warm water into a large bowl. Dissolve the yeast. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Mix in sugar, butter, egg, salt and 3 1/2 c. flour. Beat until smooth; gradually add remaining flour until dough pulls together. Place in oiled bowl. Let rise for 1 hour. Alternatively, you can cover it with foil and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
Coat a cookie sheet with non-stick spray or line with parchment paper.
Punch down dough and divide into 20 pieces. Spread each piece of dough out on an un-floured surface and fill with approximately 2 tablespoons filling. Fold dough over and seal edges. Place on prepared cookie sheet and let rise for 1 hour. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush with butter and serve

Katie Malich has lived a very happy life without wearing drindl skirts or lederhosen, but enjoys seeing others celebrating Oktoberfest in style.

The Tuesday Culver City Farmers Market is held from 2 to 7 pm on Main Street between Venice and Culver Blvds. The Saturday Fox Hills Farmers Market is held from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the northeast corner of the Westfield Culver City parking lot at Hannum and Slauson.

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