For those of us who were hoping to spend a white Christmas in Europe, the travel ban is a most unwelcome gift this year.
But that should not stop us from experiencing the aromas and tastes of Europe this holiday season. Roodeberg, the cherished South African wine with a story in every bottle, has a novel plan to take you on a Culinary Journey to some of Europe’s most exciting cities one delicious recipe at a time.
The first stop is Germany, where traditional dumplings with mushrooms sautéed in Roodeberg’s Classic Red Blend is on the menu in Berlin, the vibrant city that never sleeps.
German dumplings with mushrooms in a red wine sauce
Best enjoyed with Roodeberg Classic Red Blend
You’ll need: For the potato dumplings (makes 14 dumplings) – 600g peeled potatoes; 1 egg; 1 teaspoon of salt; 100g corn starch; a pinch of ground nutmeg; 2 teaspoons of butter for frying; 100g pecorino, grated
For the mushrooms – 1 tablespoon of olive oil; 700g mixed mushrooms; 2 cloves of garlic, crushed; ½ cup of Roodeberg Classic Red Blend; 2 tablespoons of salted butter; 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley (or your favourite herb, use 1 tablespoon only if using dried herbs); salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a pan on medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes or until the mushrooms start to brown. Add a splash of wine to deglaze the pan. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 5 to 6 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender and the liquid is reduced. Add butter and cook until melted and the sauce thickens slightly. Season to taste and set aside while you make the dumplings.
Boil the potatoes in salted water. When the potatoes are cooked all the way through, immediately remove the water, then put the pot back onto the hot stove for a moment to allow the rest of the water to evaporate. You want your potatoes to be as dry as possible.
Mash the potatoes until they are very fine. Set aside and let it cool until just warm.
Add the egg, salt and nutmeg to the warm potatoes and mix it in.
Now gradually add the cornflour and mix until the potato has the right consistency.
You might need a lot less or maybe more than the recipe suggests since it depends very much on your potatoes. When you can shape a sphere from the potatoes and it keeps its shape, then you have the right consistency. Shape into a nice round dumpling (golf ball size) and set aside until all the dumplings are shaped.
In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Then reduce the heat so it stops boiling but is still at a high simmer. Add the dumplings to the salted water and close the lid. Let the dumplings float in the hot water for about 20 minutes.
Remove the dumplings from the pot and serve with grated pecorino on top of the red wine mushrooms.
Next up is Munich, the capital of traditional German food and oompah music, with a succulent steak and Sauerkraut salad. It is the perfect dish to enjoy with Roodeberg 1949, the commemorative wine in honour of the Roodeberg tradition spanning more than 70 years.
Pan-fried steak with garlic butter and Kraut salad
You’ll need: For the steak – 2 x 300g sirloin steaks from your favourite butcher; 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil; 1 teaspoon of Himalayan salt; 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper; 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter; 2 sprigs of fresh thyme; 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
For the Kraut salad (make the day before) – 335g Sauerkraut; 1 cup of red bell peppers, chopped; ½ cup of carrots, finely chopped; ½ cup of white vinegar; 1 cup of sugar; ¼ cup of vegetable oil; ¼ teaspoon of salt; ¼ teaspoon of black pepper
Let the steaks rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat the vegetable oil in a cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. The oil should be shimmering, near smoking.
Dab both sides of the steak dry with paper towels then season both sides with salt and pepper. Place the steaks in the pan and using tongs press down over the top surface of the steaks to ensure the entire bottom surface makes direct contact with the skillet. Let the steak sear and cook until browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes.
Flip and repeat on the other side. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add butter, garlic and thyme. Spoon the butter over the steaks and continue to cook about 1 minute longer. Transfer to plates. Allow resting for 5 minutes before slicing.
These times are for a medium cooked steak.
For the Kraut salad:
In a bowl, toss together carrots, bell pepper and Sauerkraut.
For the dressing whisk together the remaining ingredients. Pour over and mix to coat the Kraut salad. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
You will find some interesting twists to time-honoured dishes in the cosmopolitan city of Frankfurt, Germany’s financial hub and cultural melting pot. Venison meatballs in a rich Italian tomato Sugo served with Spaetzle is a tasty culinary mashup deserving of a glass or two of Roodeberg Reserve.
Tender venison meatballs in red sauce on Spaetzle
Makes 16 meatballs
You’ll need: For the sauce – 1 tablespoon of olive oil; 1 medium chopped onion; 4 cloves of garlic, chopped; 1 tablespoon of dried oregano; 2 tablespoons of tomato paste; 2 x 400g cans of peeled, chopped tomatoes; 1 teaspoon of salt; 1 cup of beef stock
For the meatballs – 800g ground venison; 2 teaspoons of kosher salt; 1 tablespoon of dried oregano; 2 teaspoons of garlic powder; 2 teaspoons of onion powder; 1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese
For the Spaetzle – 500g Spaetzle, ready to use from any German grocer; 100g butter; a handful fresh basil
To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based pot over medium heat.
Add the onion and garlic and cook until they start to brown, about 5-7 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and oregano, and cook down for another 3-5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, salt and stock. Use an immersion blender to blend the sauce until smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Cover and simmer for 1 hour until the sauce has reduced and deepened in colour. Add additional salt to taste.
For the meatballs, combine the venison, salt, oregano, garlic, onion and parmesan in a large bowl. Work quickly to combine the mixture well, but do not overwork the meat. Form the meat into 10cm balls and drop them into the warm red sauce.
Cover the pot and lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for 60-90 minutes until the meatballs are tender. If the sauce gets too thick during cooking, add some extra stock or water, ¼ cup at a time.
Lightly fry the Spaetzle in the butter and serve with the meatballs. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.
A tour of Europe would not be complete without a visit to Brussels, the official seat of the European Union, for a hearty Flemish beef stew before setting off to Denmark for a taste of Scandinavia.
Flemish beef stew in red wine
Best enjoyed with Roodeberg Classic Red Blend
You’ll need: 1 large onion, chopped; 500g beef brisket, cut into large chunks; 4 tablespoons of butter; pinch of salt; pinch of black pepper; 500ml Roodeberg Classic Red Blend; 1 bay leaf; 1 sprig of thyme; 1 tablespoon of maple syrup; 1 tablespoon of mustard
Heat a large casserole dish and melt 2 tablespoons of the butter.
Sauté the onions over medium heat until soft. Do not brown the onions. Add the meat and fry until golden brown.
Season the meat while searing with some ground black pepper and a pinch of salt. It is best to brown a large amount of meat in smaller batches at a time. When the frying pan is completely full of pieces of meat, it may lose too much moisture and “cook” instead of searing.
Add the wine. While the wine is brought to a boil, scrape the brown bits from the bottom to incorporate them into the sauce.
Add a bay leaf, a sprig of fresh thyme, mustard and maple syrup.
Let the stew simmer for 1½ – 3 hours on low heat with the lid on the pot. The cooking time depends on the quality of the meat. Stir from time to time and check at regular intervals until the meat is cooked soft.
Remove the lid for the last 30 minutes to reduce and thicken the sauce.
Adjust the seasoning to taste with some more ground pepper and a pinch of salt.
In Copenhagen we sink our teeth into Flaeskesteg, a traditional Danish rolled pork roast, served with sweet potato fritters. This flavourful meaty dish is a fine match for Dr Charles Niehaus, the signature wine named after the father of Roodeberg.
Danish Pork Roast – Flaeskesteg served with sweet potato fritters
You’ll need: For the roast – 2-3kg pork roast with the skin on; 30-40g butter; a handful coarse salt; 6-8 bay leaves; 1 cup of water
For the pear and basil sauce – 2 tablespoons of butter; ½ onion, diced; 2 x 410g tinned pears; a handful of fresh basil, chopped; 1 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes; 1 teaspoon of lemon juice; salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the sweet potato fritters (makes 20) – 500g peeled sweet potatoes; 1/3 cup of flour; 3/4 tablespoon of soy sauce; pinch of salt; pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Score the skin every 5 – 7mm with a sharp knife. Be careful not to cut into the meat as this causes the skin to become soft. You want the skin to be crackling when the roast is done. Rub the skin evenly with butter and salt. Make sure to get the butter and salt into all the cuts. This helps to get the skin crispy. Slide the bay leaves into the cuts, spreading them evenly on the roast. Put the meat on a rack over a roasting pan and pour the water into the pan. Roast the pork at 200°C for 1½ – 2 hours.
If the crackling is soft, let the roast stay in the oven. Set the oven to 220°C or put it on the grill. Keep an eye on the roast, the skin should bubble and become crispy. Be careful not to burn it.
For the sauce:
Fry the onion in the butter over medium heat until soft. Add the tinned pears and some of the pear juice and simmer for 5 minutes.
Blend the mixture until smooth and silky. Add the basil, chilli and lemon juice.
Season to taste. Serve with the pork roast.
For the sweet potato fritters:
Cut the sweet potatoes into even pieces and place them in a large pan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook until just soft, about 20 minutes and drain well.
Transfer the cooked sweet potatoes to a large bowl and mash using a potato masher. Add the flour and the rest of the ingredients and mix to combine.
Season with more salt if needed. If the mixture is very sticky, add more flour a little at a time.
In a frying pan, add some butter on medium-low heat, just enough to cover the surface. Scoop out the fritter batter and using wet hands, form it into 5 cm discs.
Cook until golden brown, flip, and cook the other side. Serve warm.
For the crème de la crème of pastries, we travel to Odense, the birthplace of the great storyteller, Hans Christian Andersen, and home of the best Danishes in the world. A beautifully braided strawberry cream cheese Danish beckons, so come prepared with the rose petal pink Roodeberg Rosé for a sumptuous pairing.
Strawberry cream cheese Danish
You’ll need: For the Danish pastry – 500g fresh strawberries, green tops removed, sliced into chunks; ¼ cup sugar; 230g cream cheese, plain; ½ cup icing sugar, sifted; 1 teaspoon vanilla extract; 1 extra-large egg, separated (yolk for filling, white for brushing); 1 x 500g sheet/roll frozen puff pastry, thawed
For the royal icing – ½ cup icing sugar; 2 tablespoons hot water from a recently boiled kettle
Place the strawberries and the sugar in a saucepan. Stir, then allow to stand for 5 minutes. Place the saucepan over medium heat and slowly bring to a simmer, cooking the strawberries until soft and syrupy, stirring often. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely.
To make the filling, in a medium-size mixing bowl, mix the cream cheese, sifted icing sugar, vanilla and egg yolk with a wire whisk until just combined. Do not overmix to avoid the mixture from becoming runny.
For the pastry, preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Unroll the thawed pastry on a lightly floured surface to an even rectangle, facing you as a portrait shape (not landscape) then transfer to the lined baking tray.
Spread the cream cheese filling down the centre third of the pastry from top to bottom, followed by the cooked strawberries. Slice the unfilled sides on either side of the pastry into 2-5cm wide strips, flaring out to the left and right.
Starting from the top right, ‘braid’ the pastry by folding over a strip of pastry from the right over the filling (slightly diagonally), then a strip from the left, diagonally (to overlap the first), continuing until the filling is fully covered. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg white, then brush the prepared braided pastry with the egg wash.
Bake in the centre rack of the pre-heated oven at 180°C for 25 – 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool while you make the royal icing.
For the royal icing, mix the icing sugar and hot water in a medium mixing bowl, then drizzle over the baked Danish.
The last stop on the Roodeberg itinerary takes you to the Netherlands, where iconic windmills and winding canals set the tone for sipping Roodeberg Rosé and tucking into prawn croquettes. It’s the ultimate Dutch experience.
Makes 17 croquettes
You’ll need: For the croquette mixture – 125g butter; ½ cup of flour; 2½ cups of lukewarm milk; salt and pepper; ½ teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg; 400g of prawns, cooked, peeled and diced
For the crumb coat – ½ cup of flour to lightly coat the croquettes; 1 cup of Panko breadcrumbs; 2 large eggs, beaten; canola oil for frying
For the croquette mixture, heat a medium saucepan on medium-low heat.
Melt the butter in the pan, then sprinkle in the flour, stirring constantly with a whisk.
Allow the flour to cook in the butter for a couple of minutes. Slowly drizzle in the lukewarm milk, little by little, stirring the whole time, until you get a thick, smooth sauce. The sauce will thicken as it begins to heat.
Add the chopped prawns, nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Combine the mixture, and cool it completely. When the mixture has cooled, form croquettes by taking a heaped tablespoon of the mixture and rolling it in your hands like you would if you were making a meatball. Roll each croquette in the flour, then coat it in the beaten egg, and finally, roll it through the Panko crumbs.
Heat the oil in a large pan. Fry the croquettes in batches, for about 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on a paper towel, and serve hot.