Monday, September 29

Daily Grindin'

As I’m practicing for my huge presentation one night at the train station, I’m interrupted by the lyrics, “I don’t care what nobody say, I’m a be me,” blaring from the tiny earpiece of an MP3 player. Do people like listening to music at an obnoxiously loud volume or are they just trying to drain out obnoxiously loud voices?

Song Lyrics from DJ Khaled's Out Here Grindin'.

Longwinded

About 5 minutes after publishing the Oktoberfest Party post, I realized it was excruciatingly long. I was thrilled to have noticed before my sister could call or my brother comment. Just as I began asking myself, “How am I to fit in attire, décor, beverage, food and sometimes more all into one…” my inner light bulb went off.

Now, for H.I.T. Party Ideas I’ll break them out into separate posts. That way, you can easily navigate to the portion of the party that interests you most (like where to find the best bratwursts). I’ll also begin posting in intervals during the month with the posts leading up to the party to help with planning.

And not to worry, I’ll update H.I.T. Party Idea #1 to my new format this weekend.

Brezn and Brats and Bier, Oh My!

A crucial element to the party, as it helps ward off hangovers, is the food. This simple Oktoberfest menu includes:

Beer Bratwurst
Soft Pretzels with Honey Mustard
Quick Sauerkraut


Beer Bratwurst
Unless you live in the mid-west, chances are a good brat is hard to find. Luckily, the folks over at Usinger's ship east. I usually order the Fresh Bratwurst.

4-6 fresh Bratwurst links
1 TBS butter
1 large, Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
3 12-ounce bottles Oktoberfest bier

Directions:

1. Pierce skin of bratwurst with a fork and grill for about 10 minutes; bratwurst will not be fully cooked.

2. On stove top, melt butter in a saucepan, over medium heat, and add onions, sauteing for about two minutes, or until onions are clear. Add bier and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

3. Once boiling, add bratwursts. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes to an hour*.

4. Serve on a bun with mustard. Enjoy!

*The longer the brats are left in the pan, the stronger the bier flavor.

Soft Pretzels with Honey Mustard
This recipe is from German Foods. A few minor variations have been made.

1 package of active dry yeast
1/8 cup warm water (105 degrees F)
1-1/3 cups brown sugar
4-1/2 cups flour
Water
Baking Soda (2 TBS per cup of water)
Sea Salt

Directions:

1. Dissolve yeast in 1/8 cup warm water. Stir in additional warm water, sugar and flour, and stir until smooth.

2. Knead dough until smooth and elastic. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.

3. In a saucepan, measure 2 TBS baking soda to each cup of water. Pour enough to fill the saucepan. Over medium-high heat, bring soda and water mixture to a boil.

4. Tear off some dough and roll into a long rope. Pick up both ends and cross to form rabbit ears, twisting the ends and pulling them back to the rest of the loop. Squeeze dough together at ends and where loops meet.

5. Place twisted pretzels in boiling soda and water mixture for about 15 seconds, or until the dough is golden or yellow in color (this will be quick). Remove the pretzels from water and place onto a salted cookie sheet.

6. Salt the top of the pretzels and bake 8-10 minutes, or until pretzel is golden brown.

Variations:
For meat lovers: Add cubed bacon or ham while kneading the dough and bake together until pretzel is golden brown.

For cheese lovers: Instead of salt, top the pretzels with a layer of German butter cheese or Bavarian Emmental and bake until pretzel is golden brown. Cheese will turn golden brown.

Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

5 ounces Creme Fraiche
3 TBS honey
2 TBS mustard
Salt and sugar to taste

Directions:

1. Stir Creme Fraiche, honey and mustard until creamy. Add sugar and salt to taste.

Quick Sauerkraut
This recipe is originally from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine. Unfortunately unlike most magazines, Everyday Food does not list the publication date at the bottom of each page, and the recipe is not listed on MarthaStewart.com. I do know this recipe was from 2008 and was featured in the "In Season" section, from the issue highlighting Green Cabbage.

1 head green cabbage (about 2-1/2 lbs), outer leaves removed, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1 TBS coarse salt
1-1/4 cups water

Directions:

1. In medium saucepan, combine cabbage, vinegar, salt, and water.

2. Cover and cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is tender, about 30-35 minutes. Note: If bottom of pan starts to brown, add 1/4 cup more water.

To store, refrigerate up to two weeks.

Prost!

Arguably the most important part of the party, the bier served during Oktoberfest is a special brew. Some recommended brands to quench your thirst:

Ayinger Oktoberfest-Marzen
Paulaner Oktoberfest-Marzen
Lowenbrau Oktoberfestbier
Berkshire Oktoberfest Lager
Thomas Hooker Oktoberfest Lager

A lighter way to imbibe during the festivities is with a Radler:

1 part light beer
1 part lemon-lime soda

Pour ingredients into a chilled pilsner glass and enjoy.

Hosting children or tired of alcoholic beverages? Serve Apple Schorle:

1 part apple juice
1 part club soda or seltzer

Pour ingredients into a chilled tumbler and enjoy.

Sunday, September 21

But It's Only September...

Happy Oktoberfest! This year's "die Wiesn" began yesterday at noon when the mayor of Munich tapped the first keg of Oktoberfest bier (beer), and will last until October 5th.

In honor of my #1 fan, my sister, I'm providing tips on how to host an Oktoberfest Party.

H.I.T. Parties #1: Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest, or die Wiesn as locals call it, began in 1810 as the wedding celebration of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig's marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghaussen. The festivities began on October 12th and ended five days later with a horse race, and have been a yearly tradition since 1850. To accommodate better weather conditions, die Wiesn was eventually moved to September with the last festival weekend in October.

Attire
While donning lederhosen and dirndls are not required, they will certainly liven up at any Oktoberfest bash. No access to traditional Bavarian garb? Try these ideas:

Ladies: A white corset top, pleated skirt and apron. Shoes are traditionally black, but any color will work these days. Knee socks are optional.

Men: A gingham shirt, brown shorts and suspenders worn with boots. Wool knee socks are optional.


Decor
Your home must be as properly dressed as you. Bavarian colors are blue & white checked. As long as you use that color scheme, you should be fine. For example, I'm using white plates with blue napkins. Beverages should be served in traditional bier steins or pilsners.

Or, check out the inexpensive (and tacky) decorations from Oriental Trading Company.

Photo Citation: Photo of dirndl and lederhosen from ToytownGermany.com.

Monday, September 15

Mischief Makers

What do butter, red wine and lobster have in common, besides the obvious? The three stains often accumulated on outdoor furniture.

These mischievous ingredients have a habit of making their way onto my table. After a few too many successes, it was time I closed up shop and learned how to clean teak.

Wood stains can be repelled with sealants, but if you like an unfinished look, it's best to keep these tips handy for post-dinner clean up.

For regular maintenance and removing dirt, clean teak with a soft-bristle brush and soapy water. Make sure table is thoroughly rinsed.

For fatty stains, like the ingredients listed above, clean teak with a solution of detergent or powdered oxygen bleach and water (follow instructions on cleaner for diluted solutions). Brush table top with soapy mixture and rinse.

Stubborn ingredients got the best of you? When all else fails, wait for the table to dry and using extremely fine grit sandpaper, lightly sand the table along the grain.

Thursday, September 11

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

You can't please everyone, but you sure can try.

It appears I have another fan-my brother. Now, two family members have called me out regarding my posts. I feel a record forming.

In his 'I am smarter than you' younger brother taunt: "...I feel disappointed that you have begun to forget the importance of chicken cutlets in any man's life. If I learned anything, it is that chicken cutlets are the best dinner ever imagined..."

I am speechless. His powers of manipulation and guilt are strong, and the force has weakened me.

Defeated, I award chicken cutlets a higher position in my recipe arsenal. Far be it from me to deny anyone the delicious taste of my childhood staple. Here you go:

H.I.T. Arsenal Recipe #999: Chicken Cutlets

1 lb thin-sliced, skinless chicken breast*1 cup flour
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 TBS Italian dressing
1 cup 4C plain breadcrumbs
1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
Directions:
1. Clean and trim chicken breasts. Pour flour on a plate. Pour breadcrumbs on a seperate plate. In a small, wide bowl, combine eggs, milk and Italian dressing and slightly beat.

2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. One at a time, dredge chicken breasts in flour, egg mixture and then in breadcrumbs.

3. Add chicken to skillet and slowly fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.

4. Serve with mashed potatoes and vegetable of choice. Enjoy!
*Chicken breasts that have been pounded to 1/4-inch thick can also be used.

Monday, September 8

Hello My Name Is NYC H.I.T.

Some people are born with an innate sense of being "domestic" - cooking, cleaning, organizing, the ability to be home, a lot, without going crazy, etc. These people were born domestic divas/divos. They feel right at home in the kitchen and always know the ingredient substitute (ie. 1 tsp of Allspice equals 1/2 tsp Cinnamon and 1/2 tsp Ground Cloves).

Some people have a vague idea of what they are doing. These people know what needs to be done, but often turn to Google when a problem arises (like how to clean teak - I'll tell you later). I fall into this category. As a child, I played house with Barbies, but my doll was more interested in becoming a hot shot lawyer than a stay-at-home mom.

And some people are clueless. Maybe they don't care, and that's alright.

For those people who do care - whether you fall into the first, second or third category - that's why NYC Housewife-in-Training (H.I.T.) is here.

Each week, I'll post recipes, tips, party ideas, household product reviews, etc. and together we'll learn how to be our own domestic diva/divo. Just call me NYC H.I.T.

Friday, September 5

You Forgot What?!?!

Shortly after my last posting, I received a phone call from my sister at about 4 p.m. ET. The time and zone of call is important as she lives in Germany. It was 2 hours past her “close” time, but she needed to speak with me immediately.

In older sister voice: “NYC H.I.T!?!?! How could you forget the recipe?”

I pleaded the fifth.

Clearly exasperated and annoyed with me: “Your Big Guns recipe!?!? The creamy sun-dried tomato sauce that you made in your last post?!?!”

Enlightened, I explained to her that I don’t really have a recipe for the sauce.

I know. I’m a horrible H.I.T. To make up for the snafu, I made the sauce again (breaking my own rules) and measured all the ingredients. Here you go:


H.I.T. Big Guns Recipe #1: Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Sauce

2 TBSP unsalted butter
½ cup thinly sliced sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil or water)
¾ cup milk
¾ cup half & half
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 tsp flour

Directions:

1. In a small saucepan, melt butter on medium-low heat. Add tomatoes and sauté for 1-2 minutes.

2. Pour milk and half & half into pan, simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Liquid will turn a slight pink.

3. Stir in parmesan cheese.

4. Gradually stir in flour, 1 tsp at a time, continually stirring. Sauce will begin to thicken. Use more or less flour for desired thickness.

5. Spoon over cooked pasta and enjoy!


Side note: My ingredient list tends to vary based on what’s in my refrigerator. I’ve made this sauce before using heavy cream, skim milk, salted butter, etc. The point is that the ingredient list is simple and the dish is easy to make, although slicing those sun-dried tomatoes can be a bitch.

Disclaimer: I am no gourmet chef nor do I pretend to be one. Just because my husband likes my cooking doesn’t mean yours will. Always proceed with caution before using someone else’s big guns. Big guns are not toys and should not be used by children.

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