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Bonnie Stern: Make a fest of this wurst

It is hard to go very far in Berlin without seeing a street stall selling currywurst, the German capital’s favourite fast food. (The city even got the world’s only Currywurst Museum back in 2009.)  Though there are many variations, it’s basically fried sausage covered with a sweet curried tomato sauce served with french fries and mayonnaise. As unlikely as it sounds, it is actually delicious. On a recent trip to Berlin, we had really good currywurst at the well-regarded Curry36. It’s easy to make yourself and the perfect way to celebrate Oktoberfest, that time of year when sausages are king.

CURRYWURST
Currywurst originated just after the Second World War and caught on as it was a reasonably priced comfort food with an exotic twist. Sixty years later, it is the most popular fast food in Germany. In my version, I roast the sausages and potatoes to make them a little less decadent.
– 2 lbs bratwurst or other sausages you like
– 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
– 1  onion, chopped
– 2 tbsp curry paste or powder (I use Patak’s Madras curry paste available at supermarkets)
– 1 28 oz./796 mL tin plum tomatoes
– ¼ cup ketchup
– 2 tbsp sugar or honey
– 1 tbsp cider vinegar
– 1 tsp kosher salt or more to taste
1. Place sausages on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Pierce in one or two places with a tip of a knife. Roast in a preheated 375F oven for 30 to 45 minutes, turning every 10 or 15 minutes until browned and cooked through.
2. For curry sauce cook onions in olive oil until tender and beginning to brown a bit. Add curry paste and cook 20 to 30 seconds on medium heat. Add tomatoes and juices and break them up with a wooden spoon. Add ketchup, sugar, vinegar and salt. Cook gently about 20 minutes or until thick. Leave chunky or purée.
3. To serve, slice sausages in 1-inch pieces. Drizzle sauce on top. Serve with oven-roasted fries with mayonnaise on the side. Makes 6 servings

OVEN-ROASTED FRIES
Although I love to eat really good fries when I’m out, I rarely deep-fry  at home and love oven-fried potatoes, too.
Potatoes:
– 2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes
– 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
– 1 tsp kosher salt, divided
– ¼ tsp curry powder
– ¼ cup mayonnaise (or more)
1. Cut potatoes into french fry sticks, toss with olive oil and a little salt. Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes until browned and crisp.
2. Combine curry powder and remaining salt and toss with fries when they come out of the oven.

POPPYSEED CAKE
Poppy seeds are very popular in German and Austrian desserts. Grinding them cracks the seed and releases the flavour. They can be ground in a blender but I like to use a small coffee/spice grinder. Serve with whipped cream. This recipe was adapted from Kaffeehaus by Rick Rodgers.
– ½ cup poppy seeds
– 2 cups cake flour, sifted (or 1 7⁄8 cups all-purpose flour)
– 2 tsp baking powder
– ¼ tsp kosher salt
– 1 cup butter
– 1 ½ cups icing sugar, sifted
– 4 eggs
– 1 tbsp grated lemon peel
– 1 tsp pure vanilla
– ½ tsp pure almond extract
– ½ cup milk
– 2 tbsp rum (preferably dark)
1. Grind poppy seeds, about 1⁄4 cup at a time, in a small electric coffee/spice grinder for about 30 seconds a batch.
2. Sift and then whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk in ground poppy seeds to distribute them thoroughly. Reserve.
3. In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer cream butter about 1 minute until light. Beat in sifted icing sugar and beat 2 to 3 minutes until very pale. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Do not worry if batter looks curdled! Beat in lemon peel, vanilla and almond extract.
4. Combine milk and rum. Add flour to batter alternately with milk starting and ending with flour in three additions. Beat just until each addition is blended.
5. Spoon batter into a greased 9-inch bundt or tube pan and bake in a preheated 350F oven for 45 to 55 minutes or until done (a meat thermometer should read 185F). Cool 10 minutes, turn cake out and dust with icing sugar. Makes one 9-inch tube cake

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