From perfect pierogi to German glühwein, bring the festive flavours
inside with these three dishes
Walking around a European Christmas market is nothing short of enchanting – and something we’ll really miss this year. You just don’t quite get the magic of winding through cobblestoned streets filled with clusters of snow-topped stalls twinkling with fairy lights at your local supermarket.
And our favourite part? The food, of course.
Just the thought of fighting our way through throngs of tourists in search of a piping hot bratwurst (ok, and yet another mug of glühwein) is making us desperate to book a flight to Berlin (if only!). In fact, if we close our eyes we can practically smell the sweet spice of freshly-baked gingerbread; hear the fizz and sizzle of juicy sausages hitting wood-fired grills; and taste the cinnamon-y goodness of a paper box packed with pile of just-cooked miniature pancakes…
While we might not be over to breathe in the seasonal aromas in person, we can bring the markets to us with these recipes inspired by European Yuletide fare. So, without further ado, here are three dishes to bring a little market magic into your kitchen.
Legend has it that that this classic Dutch Christmas snack made its way to the Netherlands in the 18th century after some travelling Dutch merchants saw French monks making them as a type of communion bread. Today, they’re served coated in icing sugar (or Nutella!) at Christmas markets all over the country. To achieve the classic round shape, you will need a poffertjes pan – otherwise dot batter all over a regular frying pan to create a similar (but flatter) effect.
Makes approximately 50 to 60 poffertjes
1 tsp instant dried yeast
1 tbsp warm milk
125g buckwheat flour, sifted
125g plain wheat flour, sifted
1 large egg, beaten
1 tbsp sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
Butter or oil to cook
Toppings to serve (try hazelnut spread, icing sugar, caramel sauce or maple syrup)
- Dissolve the yeast in 1tbsp of the warm milk.
- In a separate bowl combine the flours, egg, sugar, vanilla extract, salt, half of the milk and yeast mixture. Whisk until smooth.
- Add the remaining milk and whisk again.
- Cover the bowl with a tea towel and allow it to rest for about an hour.
- Whisk the batter lightly again before filling a squeezy bottle for ease of pouring.
- Heat your poffertjes pan on medium. Once heated, coat lightly with oil.
- Using the dosing bottle, squeeze gently to fill each dimple of your pan to two thirds full (working from the outside in).
- Cook the poffertjes on one side for about 60-90 seconds until they are golden brown (usually about 60 to 90 seconds) before turning them over using a fork or skewer and allow to cook for a further 60 seconds or so.
- Serve hot and coated with a light dusting of icing sugar and your choice of toppings.
Polish sauerkraut and wild mushroom pierogi
If you head to a Polish Christmas market, chances are you’ll see platters upon platters of these traditional boiled dumplings. Classic recipes usually make the dumpling dough with sour cream and stuff them with meat and cheese, but this vegan recipe from the Pierogi Company uses a tangy mixture of sauerkraut and wild mushrooms.
Makes 30 pierogi
250g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
500g ready-made sauerkraut (available in jars from speciality food shops)
1 medium onion, finely diced
150ml warm water
100g dried mushrooms
40g butter (or dairy-free alternative)
Handful fresh dill, to garnish
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil
(Optional) 300ml soured cream
- Soak the dried mushrooms in 300ml room temperature water and set aside to infuse for 1 hour.
- Drain and rinse sauerkraut under a tap to remove some of the acidity. Transfer it to a pan of boiling water. Reduce the heat until the water is just simmering and cook the sauerkraut for 30 minutes. Drain well.
- Remove the mushrooms from the water using a slotted spoon, reserving the water. Finely chop the mushrooms.
- Heat the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the sauerkraut, mushrooms and the reserved mushroom water. Bring the mixture to the boil and continue to boil it until all of the liquid has evaporated, then remove from the heat and set aside until cool.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the onions for 4-5 minutes, or until crisp and browned. Reserve the onions for the garnish.
- For the dumpling dough, sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Fill the well with the salt, oil and warm water. Using your fingers, gradually stir the flour into the wet ingredients, until the mixture comes together as a soft dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5-8 minutes, or until it is smooth and glossy. Wrap the dough in a clean tea towel and set aside to rest in a cool room for at least 20 minutes.
- To shape the pierogi, roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface until it’s about 3mm thick. Cut 10cm/4in rounds from it using a pastry cutter.
- Place one teaspoonful of the mushroom and sauerkraut filling into each of the pastry rounds. Brush a little water around the edge of each pastry round, then fold the edges together to create a bulging semi-circular dumpling, pressing the edges together to seal.
- Poach the pierogi, in batches if necessary, in a deep-sided pan of boiling water for 3-4 minutes, or until they float to the surface. Remove each pierogi from the water with a slotted spoon.
- To serve, pile the pierogi onto plates. Sprinkle with the fried onions and the dill and a drizzle of soured cream.
By Robbie Mills of Freight Island, Manchester
It wouldn’t be a Christmas market without a warming cup of German mulled wine. Glühwein gets its name from the German glüh for glow and wein for, well, wine – the idea being that it keeps you warm (and thus makes your cheeks glow) while you’re outside in the cold. And for the true German experience, don’t forget to add a shot of the strong stuff – this recipe from Freight Island Street Market uses ruby port.
For the syrup:
2 cinnamon sticks
19g fresh ginger
2 green cardamom pods
2 star anise
114g soft dark brown sugar
114g golden syrup
For the mulled wine:
1 bottle red wine (Merlot works the best)
286ml mulling syrup (above)
107ml ruby port
To make the syrup:
- Zest and juice the orange and the lemon.
- Grind cardamom, star anise, cinnamon sticks and cloves to a powder. Finely chop the ginger.
- Add all syrup ingredients to a pan and bring to the boil while stirring continuously.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool down.
- Pass through a very fine sieve and then a tea towel to clarify and remove any lumps.
To make the mulled wine:
- Add one bottle of wine, 286ml of the mulling syrup and 107ml of ruby port to a pan.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer while stirring. If needed, add in more soft dark brown sugar to taste.