Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bananenkürbis Krautstrudel

     Sweet Sour Banana Squash and Cabbage Strudel! 
     Nearly every country near the Alps Mountain Range has a strudel tradition.  Many say that Austria is where the first strudel was made, but some say that the recipe originated in Eastern Europe during the same period of time.  Turkey and Persia both have been making butter leavened pastries like strudel since ancient times, so more than likely, the origin of strudel dates back further than what one would initially think.  
     There are many strudel variations.  The filling, the pastry and the shape of strudel can vary greatly from one region to the next.  The flavor of strudel fillings can be sweet, savory or a sweet-sour combination.  The pastry for strudel can be phyllo, puff pastry or Irish Pastry Dough.  The type of flour used to make the pastry can also vary.  Semolina, spelt and potato flour are used to make certain kinds of strudel. 
     Strudels that have a dry ingredient filling are usually made by rolling the pastry dough and dry ingredients together.  When this kind of strudel is sliced, the cross section looks like a spiral.  The spiral shape literally is what the word strudel means.
     Not all strudel are rolled like a spiral.  Strudels made with wet fillings are usually a cylinder shape.  The pastry dough surrounds and seals in the wet filling, just like in today's Bananenkürbis Krautstrudel recipe.   
     Krautstrudel is a strudel made with cabbage.  The cabbage can be fresh.  The cabbage can also be sweet or savory sauerkraut.  When fresh cabbage is used, it is braised and the flavor can be savory or sweet-sour.  Sausage is sometimes added to Krautstrudel.  For today's recipe, Banana Squash is added.
     Bananenkürbis is the German word for Banana Squash.  All hollow hard shell squash, like Buttercup, Acorn and Banana Squash originated in South America.  How the seeds spread around the world is not clear.  Some traveled by natural means while other seed varieties were part of the Columbian Exchange.  
     Banana Squash is the most popular hard shell squash worldwide.  This vegetable has a nice flavor and they grow to a huge size.  Banana Squash can weigh over 30 pounds!  Produce workers at a food market will usually cut a large banana squash into small sections for cooks that do not intend to feed an army.
     There are several varieties of Banana Squash and most are identified by color.  I used an orange skin banana squash for today's strudel recipe.  The flavor of this squash is slightly sweet, fruity and rich tasting.  
    Banana Squash is popular in Northern European countries.  This squash is a fall harvest vegetable that has a fairly long shelf life if it is chilled.  Banana Squash really tastes nice in a sweet-sour cabbage filling for Krautstrudel and it also adds natural sweetness.   

     Pâte Feuilléte (French Puff Pastry Dough):
     Freshly made puff pastry dough is a classic choice for making strudel.  Hand crafted puff pastry dough always looks better than frozen puff pastry products.   
     A home cook that makes fresh puff pastry can really impress guests in a big way.  Making good puff pastry dough is an accomplishment to be proud of, yet it actually is not difficult to make.  The process is time consuming, but because the puff pastry has to be chilled between each step, it can be made when time is convenient throughout the day. 
     Follow this link to the recipe in this website.  Both types of puff pastry making are described in the recipes.  

     Sweet-Sour Banana Squash and Cabbage:
     This recipe yields about 3 1/2 to 4 cups!  This is enough to make a medium size strudel like the one in the photos above. 
     The sweet-sour flavor must be adjusted twice, because after the banana squash cooks, the squash becomes sweeter.  Apple cider vinegar creates the sour flavor.  Some apple cider brands taste better than others.
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of butter.
     Add 2 tablespoons of small chopped smoked bacon.
     Sauté till the bacon is a light golden brown color.
     Step 2:  Add 1 minced shallot.
     Add 1/3 cup of julienne sliced Bermuda Onion. 
     Sauté till the onions turn clear in color.
     Step 3:  Add 4 cups of very thin sliced cabbage.
     Add 2 1/2 cups of banana squash that is cut into small bite size pieces.
     Sauté till the cabbage wilts and the squash starts to gain a few golden highlights.
     Step 4:  Add 1 cup of chicken broth.
     Add 2 cups of water.
     Add 1/4 cup of granulated sugar.
     Add 3 tablespoons of cider vinegar.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of allspice.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger powder.
     Add 2 pinches of ground clove.
     Add 2 pinches of cinnamon.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground fenugreek.
     Add 1 laurel leaf.
     Add Kosher Salt and white pepper to taste.  (2 or 3 pinches) 
     Step 5:  Raise the temperature to medium/medium high heat.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Cover the pan with a lid.
     Braise the ingredients, till the cabbage becomes tender.  (About 10 minutes)
     Step 7:  Remove the lid.
     *Taste the liquid to check the sweet and sour balance.  The balance should be slightly on the sweet side.  Adjust the flavor with a small amount of sugar if it is too sour or a splash of cider vinegar if the flavor is too sweet. 
     Step 8:  Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Rapidly simmer and reduce the braising liquid, till nearly of the liquid evaporates and the sweet-sour sauce easily clings to the ingredients.  (Be sure to occasionally stir the ingredients to prevent browning!)  
     Step 9:  Remove the pan from the heat.  
     Let the Sweet-Sour Banana Squash and Cabbage cool to room temperature.
     Place the ingredients in a container and chill to 41ºF.  

     Bananenkürbis Krautstrudel:
     This recipe yields 1 medium size strudel that can be cut into 6 portions!
     Step 1:  Cut chilled sheet of puff pastry into a rectangle shape that measures 19" x 11".  
     Place the sheet of puff pastry dough on a parchment paper lined baking pan.
     Step 2:  Evenly mound the chilled Sweet-Sour Banana Squash & Cabbage lengthwise, across the center of the pastry sheet.  
     *The mound should be about 3" high, 4" wide and about 12" in length.  Leave about 3" of bare pastry on the sides and ends.  
     Step 3:  Whisk 1 egg + 1 tablespoon of water in a small container to make an egg wash.
     Lightly brush the exposed bare pastry edges with egg wash. 
     Step 4:  Pull the bare pastry sheet ends over each end of the stuffing mound.  (Try not to handle the dough too much.  Pastry dough can be stretched a little bit, but it should not be stretched thin.)
     Step 5:  Drape one side of the pastry sheet over the top of the stuffing.
     Drape the remaining pastry sheet edge over the stuffing, so it overlaps the other side.
     Step 6:  Carefully roll the strudel over on the parchment paper, so the seam side faces down.
     Brush the the strudel pastry with egg wash.
     Cut about 3 or 4 steam vent slashes on top of strudel.
     Step 7:  Place the pan in a 425ºF oven.
     Bake till the pastry puffs up and it is golden brown.  
     *The baking time will vary.  A large strudel can take more than 20 minutes to finish.
     *A large puff pastry like a strudel will shed quite a bit of butter onto the pan when the dough starts to brown.  Be sure to check the strudel after about 15 minutes.  Drain the excess butter off of the pan if necessary.  
     Step 8:  After the strudel finishes baking, place the pan on a cooling rack.  Let the strudel cool to a safe serving temperature. 

     A strudel should be served on a fancy dessert serving platter or a fancy wooden cutting board style platter.   
     A nice looking strudel needs very little garnishing.  The strudel platter in the photos was garnished with streaks of Dijon Mustard that was thinned with water and cilantro sprigs.
     Be sure to serve a small bowl of sour cream on the side!  

     Viola!  A nice tasting Bananenkürbis Krautstrudel for the Oktoberfest season!     

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