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Burt Wolf, Master Chef

American Oktoberfest 2023

My participation in Oktoberfest is sketchy, at best. I’m aware of its history, and, as an adolescent, was exposed, once, to its ribald existence in northern New Jersey. I thus must block out of my mind the cultural excesses that only the Germans can celebrate while dancing with a fraulein.

I nonetheless enjoy good food, and good German food is among the best on the planet.

My recipes for this autumnal feast used to include homemade red cabbage, which rarely turned out well; and pork-and-sauerkraut, which is so delicious that the combo, along with buttered egg noodles and peas, became an almost weekly cold-weather dinner.

For a true stab at meeting the Teutonic demands of the Oktoberfest palate, I decided to spend some time with Burt Wolf, the master chef. Two of his cookbooks adorn my kitchen counter, but his philosophy toward eating well, living well, and calmly, but pragmatically, undertaking the journey called life, that way of thinking informs my nobler sentiments.

Mr. Wolf provides not merely superlative recipes: he offers food history; regional history, factual information and tidbits; the cultural background and provenance for all kinds of vittles, as well as the reasons for certain ingredients being used, or not used.

During the late 1990s, I learned from Mr. Wolf that the reason for eating a small piece of chocolate at the end of the meal is to signal to the palate that the eating is over!

Most unfortunately, there are certain Americans who typically miss that message by pigging out with chocolate AS a meal, but such an abhorrent lack of taste only enhances the sense of civilization that a genuine Oktoberfest can inspire.

There’s always a subtle blend of aromas and delightfully nuanced flavors whenever a Burt Wolf menu is properly achieved. That result is, in itself, a culinary attainment of the highest order.

And order is where the Germans excel!

These recipes hail from Canada, where order, at least of a non-fascist mode, is non-existent. The personal life does incite its own form of structure and justice among the Canadians, particularly of the provinces beyond the coastal urban blobs.

It is therefore with the spirit of the wild and free country that I present the makings of this Oktoberfest dinner and dessert, as duly executed in the order originated by Burt Wolf, and revised by me:


Tricolor Slaw with Dressing

Apple Cobbler for dessert.

The sandwiches are composed of sliced roast beef, turkey, ham, Havarti cheese, with sliced tomatoes on a crunchy roll. Condiments include good mayonnaise, mustard, and dill gherkin pickles.

Tricolor Slaw with Dressing

Makes 6 servings

3 cups shredded green cabbage

3 cups shredded red cabbage

3 carrots, peeled and shredded


1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tbsp granulated sugar

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1-1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground/cracked black pepper

1 tsp caraway seeds

In a large bowl, combine the green and red cabbage and the carrots.

To make the dressing: In a small bowl, stir together all the ingredients.

Pour the dressing over the cabbage and carrot mixture, mix gently. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Apple Cobbler

Makes 6 servings

For the apples:

5 cups Rome, Cortland or other baking apples (Granny Smith is the variety used here); pared, cored, and sliced

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsp all-purpose flour

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

For the batter:

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

3 tbsp vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9-inch round baking pan.

To prepare the apples:

In a bowl, mix the sliced apples, sugar, and cinnamon. In another bowl, mix together the egg, milk, and oil. Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. The batter will be sticky.

Place the apples into the prepared pan. Spread the batter evenly over the apples. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top of the cobbler is brown and crusty. Serve warm, with freshly ground and brewed coffee.

Guten Appetit


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