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In the Kitchen -- Second Sunday

In the Advent Kitchen -- Second Sunday

Fennel-Apple Salad

Bavarian Pot Roast

Mashed Potatoes or Spaetzle


German Chocolate Pound Cake

This dinner is a Sunday classic made easy. The fennel-apple salad combines the anise flavor of fennel with crisp red apples, raisins, and toasted pecans for something far beyond ordinary iceberg lettuce—and much more nutritious. The pot roast cooks all day in the slow cooker, sending out amazing smells as it bubbles away with no work on your part. To round out the meal, some simple mashed potatoes to soak up the gravy from the pot roast are in order. Or try spaetzle, little egg dumplings, if you have more time. Broccoli steamed in the microwave is easy, adds color and nutrients to the meal, and goes well with the tender roast. Keeping with the German theme, why not add a quick-to-make German chocolate pound cake. The cake doesn’t involve a fancy frosting—it makes do with a drizzle of warm caramel topping—and it has a surprise ingredient that boosts its vitamin content considerably. A fluff of whipped cream or low-fat vanilla ice cream would make the cake even more special.

Fennel-Apple Salad – Serves 8+

Fennel adds an anise-like taste and additional crunch to an apple salad. The salad is lightened up from the traditional version, but it has plenty of flavor as well as sweet raisins, dried cranberries, and toasted nuts. Try pecans for a sweeter taste or walnuts for more bitterness. Serve the fennel-apple mixture atop some arugula or leafy salad greens for extra color.

1 large bulb of fresh fennel

1 large red apple, cored and chopped

1-2 tablespoons of sugar

3-4 green onions, chopped

¼ cup of cider vinegar

¼ cup of light mayonnaise

¼ cup of fat-free Greek yogurt

¼ teaspoon of salt

¼ cup of golden raisins

¼ cup of dried cranberries

¼ cup of chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts

4 cups of arugula or leafy salad greens

Trim the fennel of any bruised or yucky outer stalks and cut away the hard base (kind of like celery). Trim the top stems but save a tablespoon or two of the feathery fronds to chop and garnish the salad. Slice the fennel bulb through the middle lengthwise (top to bottom) and then cut out the core. Cut the fennel into strips and then chop it into smallish pieces. Put the apple and fennel into a large bowl and toss it with the vinegar. Add the green onions, mayonnaise, yogurt, salt, raisins, and cranberries and mix the salad well. Refrigerate the salad for at least an hour. Divide the arugula among the plates and then top each arugula mound with some of the fennel-apple salad mixture. Before you serve the salads, sprinkle each with some of the nuts and the reserved fennel fronds.

Bavarian Pot Roast – Serves 6+

This easy to assemble meal won’t be forgotten. The heady scent of beef, vegetables, ginger, cloves, and wine will remind you as the meal bubbles away in the slow cooker. Plus, once you taste the pot roast with its savory sauce, you’ll want to have it again and again. It’s that good. Try the roast with mashed potatoes, or, if you want to go really German, with spaetzle.

1 2½ - 3 pound boneless chuck roast

1 16-ounce bag of baby carrots or 4-5 medium carrots, cut up into chunks

2 medium onions, chopped

2 stalks of celery, sliced

½ cup of chopped dill pickles

8 ounces of sliced mushrooms

1 cup of red wine (cheap Burgundy is fine)

½ cup of reduced sodium beef broth

3 tablespoons of grainy Dijon mustard

½ cup of crushed gingersnaps (or ½ cup of flour plus ½ teaspoon of ginger)

½ teaspoon of pepper

½ teaspoon of cloves

2-3 bay leaves

1 teaspoon of salt

Coat a large slow cooker with nonstick spray and add the carrots, onion, celery, dill pickles, and mushrooms. Put the roast on top of the vegetables. In a large bowl, mix together the wine, broth, mustard, and gingersnaps (or flour and ginger). Pour the mixture on top of the roast. Sprinkle the roast with the pepper, cloves, bay leaves, and salt. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Remove the bay leaves and serve the meat with the vegetables and sauce.

Spaetzle (Dumplings) – Serves 6+

These are a European specialty, and they are great served with gravy, a bit of browned butter, or even plain and sprinkled with some chives and bacon crumbles. They also are quite easy to cook and are well worth the small amount of extra effort you expend to make them. The spaetzle reheat well if you’d like to make them ahead or have leftovers. I generally reheat the leftover spaetzle in the microwave with a bit of water until they are just warm.

1 cup of milk

3 eggs

3 cups of flour

½ teaspoon of salt

¼ teaspoon of nutmeg

Mix the milk and eggs. Add the salt, flour, and nutmeg to form a damp dough. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Once you have a rolling boil, press the dough through a course grater (one with really big holes), a big slotted spoon, or a spaetzle maker into the pot of water. You should have smallish nuggets of wet dough dropping into the water. Don’t crowd the spaetzle. You’ll need to cook them in batches. Stir the spaetzle in the water gently and let them cook a few minutes until they rise to the surface of the water. Lift them out and let them drain while you cook the remainder of the dough.

German Chocolate Pound Cake – Serves 12+

This is a recipe that you’ll probably return to repeatedly. The cake is dense, moist, and full of deep chocolate taste. The pumpkin puree adds a little complexity to the taste of the cake—most people won’t know what the flavor is other than that it’s good. The pumpkin also contributes the moistness and eliminates the need to use eggs, butter, or oil, making the cake considerably lighter calorie and fat wise than traditional pound cakes. To save time and the hassle of preparing a frosting, you instead sprinkle pecans, coconut, and chocolate chips over the batter before baking it. After the cake bakes, a drizzle of caramel topping finishes the cake. Try the cake slightly warm from the oven with a little low fat ice cream on the side. The cake is even better, though, the next day after the flavors have had a chance to meld.

1 box of German chocolate cake mix (or other chocolate)

1 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree

1 cup of mini chocolate chips

1 cup of chopped pecans

½ cup of shredded coconut

¼ cup of caramel topping

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and coat a 10-inch tube pan with nonstick cooking spray with flour in it (or use regular nonstick spray and dust the pan with a teaspoon of flour, tapping out the excess). In a large bowl, mix the cake mix and the pumpkin puree until thoroughly combined and smooth. Stir in ½ cup of mini chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the tube pan. Sprinkle the top of the batter with the pecans, coconut, and remaining mini chocolate chips, shimmying the pan a little to settle the batter and topping. Bake the cake for 45-60 minutes or until the top springs back when pressed gently or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with only a few crumbs attached. Let the cake cool for 10-20 minutes and then remove it from the pan. Place the cake on a plate with the topping side up. Warm the caramel topping a little in the microwave to soften it and drizzle the caramel over the top of the cake.

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