Monthly Archives: August 2010

A Temporary (?!) Tragedy

“I would give all my fame for a pot of ale.” – Shakespeare’s Henry V

People say that things are always in the last place you look.  Which makes sense because if something is lost, and you find it, why would you keep looking?

Currently, I am looking for a wayward memory card.  And clearly, I have not reached the proverbial “last place”.

As you’ve probably figured out, that leaves me sans photos for several of my upcoming posts.  Ok, more than several….more like 6.  Or my state fair pics.  Or the lobster pics.  Worst. Blogger. Ever.

I’m borderline distraught.  I’m searching for another 24 hours and then I’m coming up with a creative solution.  Microsoft paint anyone?

This is worse than ketchup on a brat.

Sad Face,

Flyover Foodie

Friday Hot Dish-8/27

Welcome to the Friday Hot Dish!!

Some delicious tidbits for Friday, August 27th.  Enjoy, but don’t fill up before the weekend!

1. Yes, the State Fair just keeps on going.  This week, hit up the Minnesota State Fair for all of your perennial fair favorites.  On Tuesday, the annual Minnesota Cooks event takes place, pairing local farms and ingredients with local chefs to create some amazing dishes.  Check out the details on that event here: MN Cooks and more state fair info here: MN State Fair.

Bonus: A favorite Flyover band is playing tonight!!

2. Stumbled across this article combining two of my favorite things: eating and movies.  This awesome list from Saveur talks about some of the most memorable food scenes from movies: 21 Great Film Recipes.  Suddenly ratatouille sounds better than buttered popcorn.  Hmmm….maybe an idea for my next list?!?

3. Have you ever dreamed of opening your own restaurant/bakery/bar?  Do you already have a name picked out for it?  This Chicago Tribune article discusses the importance of naming your restaurant. Even better is this 2nd article pointing out the worst restaurant names in the country.  I’ll admit it: I thought it was called “Ruth’s Crisp Steakhouse” for a long time.   I mean, that makes more sense, right!?  Worst Restaurant Names

4. Speaking of weird restaurant names, this weekend is the grand opening of European Restaurant Accordion in Des Moines.  No, that whole thing is its name: “European Restaurant Accordion”.  Nothing like slapping a couple words together and serving up dinner.  Although it comes with an UNFORESEEN BONUS: if you are of European descent, you get a free beer!  European Restaurant Accordion

My super German name now = free drinks!  Wunderbar!

Also, I just learned how to spell “accordion”.

I think you can in Europe

5. A quick observation: 1/2 a  billion eggs are being recalled nationwide.  And there have been articles  about the rising cost of bacon.  YET– this week’s ad for our local grocery store featured a dozen eggs for .99 and bacon at 2/$5.00.

That’s what happens when you live in Flyover Country…good food all around you!!

Christmas in July

“In my experience, clever food is not appreciated at Christmas.  It makes the little ones cry and the old ones nervous” – English food writer, Jane Grigson

I wasn’t trying to be clever by doing a “Christmas in July” dinner.  In fact, the idea didn’t even cross my mind when I added “Crown Roast” to the list of 30.  Had the item been “roast goose” I’d obviously have been mentally queuing up the carols.  I knew that crown roast was a festival meal fit for a celebration, but I started to get worried as I looked at recipes.  Every review seemed to say “a new Christmas tradition!” or “I can’t wait to make this again next Christmas!”.

So, unexpectedly, I prepared a Christmas dinner in the middle of a July** heat wave.

Like this: but with flip flops

And it was delicious.

To begin: a Crown Roast is a rack of pork ribs that have been trimmed, frenched, and tied into a round so the ribs can stand on end while roasting.  The shape of the roast mimics a crown, hence the name.  Also, I like to think its a meal fit for royalty, but that’s just because I like fancy stuff.

Start by, once again, befriending your butcher.  I explained what I wanted and our butcher found and trimmed the ribs for us.  We did the trimming and frenching ourselves at home, but a butcher can do this for you.

The Rack, untrimmed. (heheh..."rack". Whatever...you were thinking it too!)

NOTE: I made my first mistake here.  We were having 6 for dinner, so I had him cut down the rack. DO NOT DO THIS. Spend the extra money and buy the whole rack.  We discovered an hour later that our roast was too short to bend into a full crown (less ribs = less length = tighter circle).  In fact, we couldn’t even stuff it.  I just made this stuffing separately, baked it, and served it as a side dish.

So, once you get this thing home, you cut the extra meat from between the ribs (save it for the stuffing!) and then french the ends of the bones.  Frenching is when you take a sharp knife and clean all the meat etc. off the bones.  You’ve probably had lamb chops like this.  The roast gets seasoned, bent in on itself, and secured with cooking twine.  I seasoned it with salt, pepper, thyme, and marjoram.  It goes into a roasting pan and then pour 1 1/2 cup of water in the pan to keep it moist.

I didn’t take a picture of this…I was still berating myself for lacking basic knowledge of roast engineering.

The roast goes in the lower 1/3 of the oven at 350°.  After about 30 minutes, cover the tops of the bones with foil.  You’ll want to periodically check the roast to see if you need to add additional water.  I added additional water.  Then some white wine and some chicken stock as well.  Cook until its out of poisonous range, 155°.  It took our 12 rib roast about 2 1/2 hours.

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Pretzels and a little peer pressure

“Now you’ll be glad to know the president will practice safe snacks.” —First Lady Laura Bush, talking about Bush’s pretzel mishap, on the Tonight Show

A few of my lovely coworkers have been reading this blog.  (Thanks guys!)  And, not surprisingly, one of them inquired when I was going to bring something off the list to share at work. (Our office has a healthy rotation of regular carb sharing)  In fact, he even made a couple suggestions, since obviously, no one wants to share lobster at the office.  Well…maybe at this office, but not at our office.

So I took the hint and started looking at the list.

I was browsing some back issues of Everyday Food by Martha Stewart and stumbled upon this recipe for Sweet Soft Pretzels.  Perfect!  I can make something off the list AND have a carb-licious treat to go with everyone’s morning coffee.

The pretzels start with a basic dough recipe, which Martha supplies here.  And of course, Martha’s recipe is totally simple and versatile. (Pretzels in the morning, pizza for dinner!)  The dough is really easy: mix the water and yeast and let sit for a few minutes.  Then whisk in the sugar, oil and salt.  Finally add the flour and mix until it forms a sticky ball.  Like this:

Freshly mixed dough

Cover and let the dough rise for about an hour, until it has doubled in size.   For some reason, this is always thrilling to me.  Coming back an hour later and seeing it grow like some crazy science experiment…it’s just weirdly exciting!

IT'S ALIVE!! (Technically, it is "alive". Damn, science is wild sometimes)

A quick note: I made the dough the night before making my pretzels so it would have time to rise.  I also timed my walk the next with the flyover pup around the dough.  The dough was resting while we were busy barking at joggers in our neighborhood.  This way I could make fresh pretzels for work without having to get up at 4am.

Ok, so we have the dough…now on to pretzels!  I separated the dough in half and mixed 1 half with chocolate chips and one half with some golden raisins.  Then let it rest again while walking my fluffy friend.

After the dough has risen, I used 1/8 of each half to make the individual pretzels.  The hardest part was pulling and rolling the stretchy dough into a thin enough length to then form a pretzel.  I found that I was stretching, forming into a pretzel, then holding it up to stretch it again so it would be thin enough.

Formed Pretzels...in a (unintentional) variety of sizes!

NOTE: the Everyday Food recipe has a super simple diagram of how to make a pretzel shape.  (Make a U shape, cross the long ends, the bring down to the bottom of the U).  So used that if you need help.  Despite having watched the pretzel makers at the mall, I’m 95% sure I would have had trouble figuring out the process.  I can’t even draw a pretzel!

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Pasta Bolognese

“Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.” – Sophia Loren

If you like carbs like I like carbs, you’re going to be hungry by the end of this post.  And it’s a little lengthy…so you might need a snack. Or a glass of wine. Or both.  I’ll wait a minute….

……

….All set?  Here we go:

FIRST: the dough.  Since I was making homemade pasta, I started the pasta before the sauce.  Homemade pasta needs time to rest and dry slightly after being formed and before being cooked.

I made my dough in a the food processor.  TO BE FAIR: I have seen many chefs do this.  AND- the processor even has a “Dough” button, so you kind of have to use it.  Your basic pasta dough is flour, eggs, a pinch of salt and a little drizzle of olive oil.

Dough formed into a ball post-processor

Next the dough gets kneaded by hand for about 5 minutes until its stretchy and shiny.   Cover with a bowl and let it rest for 20 minutes.  Now roll out the dough to about 1/4-1/8 inch thickness.  Because I did not (yet!!) have a pasta roller,  I used a rolling pin and tried to get it as thin as possible.  Which took some work.  I told myself that having thicker pasta would just add to its charm.

Cutting the dough into tagliatelle

I cut the dough into wide strips which makes it, I think, tagliatelle.  Tagliatelle of random, inconsistent lengths, but tagliatelle nonetheless.  I separated the pieces and left them to dry on the counter while I made the sauce.  Other than the difficulty of rolling, this was pretty simple.

Drying tagliatelle. Charmingly rustic. Right?

NOW: hitting the sauce.

I used the basics of two different Italian recipes to make my Bolognese sauce.  First, this recipe from Mario Batali and this recipe as well.   By this point you’ve probably noticed that I almost always look at more than one recipe.  I like to find the commonalities that make a true Bolognese sauce versus the individual spin a chef may put on a recipe of their own.

In this case you find the common ingredients: bacon, red wine, onion, celery, carrots, ground meat.  And the basic steps: saute, sweat, deglaze, simmer.   Get it?

Start by sauteing and sweating the veggies:

Cooking the veggies til soft

Next add the meats and brown, then the milk:

Browned meat plus milk

Now you add tomatoes, wine, and cook for as long as you can stand it. I think I lasted a little over an hour, then it just smelled TOO GOOD.  You can also consult your sous chef, lingering veeeeerrrrry closely:

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