30 April, 2007

Waffle Party

Quick Maple Syrup Breakfast Sausage.

Fermented Yeast Waffles

It started a few months ago. La Bonne Femme, became obsessed with waffles. Waffle this waffle that, I need a waffle iron. Instead of rushing out to Bed Bath Beyond, I convinced her to wait until Easter in Columbus where I was sure we would find an old iron. The Easter bunny came through, and hidden under the chaise lounge in the piano room laid a box containing an old Hamilton Beach from grandma's house.

To be honest, I have always thought of waffles as the more complicated cousin to pancakes: A chemically leavened sweet batter that requires whipped egg whites. Then I found a recipe that uses a fermented yeast batter. Fermented? Sign me up.

photo credit: Josh

The recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated, March 2004, made the most wonderful waffles. Starting the night before here's what we did:

1- 3/4 cups milk

4 oz butter cut up

10 oz (2c) AP Flour

1T sugar

1 tsp salt

1-1/2 tsp (5g) instant yeast

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

I melted the butter in the milk over low heat, then allowed to cool to at least 110F (don't wanna scorch the yeast). Meanwhile I combined all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and in another bowl. I lightly beat the eggs with the vanilla. I first added the milk mixture to the dry ingredients using a rubber spatula to keep it smooth then I incorporated the eggs. Covered and refrigerated overnight.

The next morning the batter is nearly over flowing the bowl. I give it a little stir and then put the iron to work. These waffles are unbelievably good. I made one batch with 50 percent whole wheat, also highly recommended. And they freeze really well; make a big batch and save on your Eggo bill. They crisp up in the toaster real nice. One thing these waffles don't do nice is hold in the oven. Eat them right off the griddle. I think quantities listed made about 7 waffles on our little 7 inch iron, I'm not sure, I made a triple batch for the waffle party.

Hey, what's a party without sausage?

First of all, I would like to dispel the impression that making sausage takes a long time. I made 2 pounds of sausage, which was plenty for the 5 adults and 5 children at the party, in 90 minutes, including clean up. If I had not of stuffed it, the time would have even been shorter. I did make a couple of shortcuts with the ingredients, such as using dried sage and powdered ginger; yet still I had a stand up link. Let's go to the boards:

895 g pork shoulder cut into 1 inch cubes

16 g salt

4 g dried sage

2 g ground black pepper

dash garlic powder

26 g (2T) maple syrup

cold water

Combine the dry ingredients with the cubed pork and run it though the grinder with the fine plate. In a measuring cup pour in the maple syrup then add cold water to the 100 ml mark. Using the paddle attachment or a big wooden spoon, stir the sausage mixture adding the water. Continue until the mixture starts to come together about 1 minute. If your are feeling fancy stuff into sheep casings twist into 4 inch lengths.

Notes: S asked for a milder sausage, but next time I might add a pinch (up to 1 gram) of cayenne to balance the sweetness. If you don't like maple syrup, just use 100 ml of water. Make these sausages at least the day before so that the ingredients get a chance to mingle. If you stuff them into casings, let them mingle in the fridge unwrapped (maybe even on a wire rack) so that the skins dry a little.

So anyway it was a nice get together, Sabra brought pomegranate juice and champagne for pimosas, we sat out on the new patty o'furniture (sorry it's a tic), and our morning brunch floated into an afternoon garden party.

photo credit: Josh

By 3:00 we had broken into the vin de hoo-hoo, and were feeling ready for a nosh. In no time, La Bonne Femme, put together and presented her signature dish, the bacon and onion tart.

The brunch wound down around 4. All was left to do on the sleepy Sunday was stretch out and wait for the sun to set. It's not just sausage, it's a lifestyle.


24 April, 2007

You Are What You Grow

While I try not get into politics on the blog, there was a very good article in last weekend's New York Times Magazine by Michael Pollan about farm subsidies and the Industrial Food Complex. The article, You Are What You Grow, treads over familiar ground for those who follow food politics. What I found worth mentioning are the photographs that accompany the piece. For the past few years Brian Ulrich has been making beautiful photographs of where we shop. The ones the magazine picked (they use one for the print edition and another for the Internet) are from project called, Copia.

Check out Brian's at his website: http://www.notifbutwhen.com/


21 April, 2007

Southland Potager

We had a really nice experience:

Ted's Greenhouse
16930 S. 84th Ave
Tinley Park, IL 60487

Rows upon rows of Basil. Do you have your potager du saucisson (sausage garden) planned yet? Since it is still too early to plant, we just walked around and saw some interesting things:

A Ficus from the fifties.

He shows us a Buddha's Hand.

He shows the boys a carnivorous plant.

I bought a sweet bay tree and he convinced me that I needed a Meyer lemon and a Kaffir lime. I'll be back soon. This month will mark three years since we have moved to the Southland. We are slowly discovering the great places it has to offer.


17 April, 2007

Croisssants avec Jambon et Fromage

Bonjour mes saucisses, aujourd'hui we will talk about one of my favorite breakfast foods and my favorite pastry, and they just happen to be the same thing: Croissants.

Amazingly enough, growing up in Columbus we were able to get very good croissants. Of course at the time I didn't think of it as amazing, I just thought of it as something we did sometimes on Saturdays. My dad would go the the French Loaf and pick up some plain ones, some with chocolate and some with almond paste. The croissants were perfect, flakes would crumble into my lap as I pulled them apart. As a nine year old I was evenly split on my preferences: I had to have a chocolate one (Chocolate for breakfast!) but at the same time I could not deny the eye-rolling joy of a plain one crammed with butter and Strawberry jam. These pre-adolescent times gave way to high school and other desires like girls and egg mcmuffins, and the croissant faded into the background.

Fast forward to a few years ago, One day while visiting in CMH, La Bonne Femme, my sister Jeanlouise and I decided we needed to find some ham and cheese croissants for breakfast. We started at Mozart's Bakery (no), the French Loaf (nope), then to La Chatelaine (nada) We gave up and ate crouque-monsiuers. While munching on our sandwiches we discussed making croissants at home. I dismissed the idea as too complicated, while I didn't have first hand knowledge of a recipe, didn't it take several days, and a careful hand to create flaky goodness? I declared that we should leave the pastries to the professionals and we should dedicate ourselves to being the epicures that would find the finest made croissants wherever we went.

My attitude changed on a subsequent CMH gathering. Jeanlouise flew in from DC with a ball of dough in her carry-on. The next day she presented perfect croissants from the oven.
"Did it take a long time?" I asked
"I did it over a couple of days," she responded.
"Was it hard to do?"
She said: "Nah, dude, you just have to fold it a few times. So I did it once before I went to work, then once when a got home, then the same again the next day."
"Huh, cool."

Inspired by this new information, I went to the library and checked out The Bread Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Using her recipe I have produced croissants several times. While I can't say making them is simple, it's really not that hard, and they are always good.

So, now fast forward to two weekends ago at another family gathering in Columbus. Jeanlouise was not there, but we have found what we were looking for before: The ham and cheese croissant.

We got to North Market at 8:45 AM, just as the croissants were coming out of the oven at Omega Artisan Baking.

As I savored one of these over sized lovelies, the idea hit me, I could make these at home with the leftover Easter Ham.

Fast forward to two days ago. They boys got me up at their usual time of 6:21 AM. I got out my ingredients.

The dough which I had made up and turned four times the night before,

The ham from Easter weekend,

and some Comté from Trader Joe's.

I rolled out the dough and cut it into triangles.

I rolled out each triangle, a little bit of ham, a little bit of cheese... A little bit of chocolate

Roll em and let em rise.

After about an hour, an egg glaze and into the oven.

If my sister could see this I imagine she would say, F'in-Ay. Last time I talked to her she told me her internet couldn't tune in the blog. She will have a lot of reading to do when she gets back. In the mean time if you want to see what she is up to, check out Jeanlouise in Ethiopia.

A word about the Jambon:

As I mentioned last week and as you can see in the picture today, the ham cured unevenly. A new reader (we will call him Chef G, not to be confused with Uncle J from the AK, who is also a chef, or Un-named Village Official J, who was my co-conspirator in Sausage Mania) commented that is would be very hard to get a complete cure on a ham without injecting it. Well it didn't say anything like that in the cookbook, but I am aware that they use big needles with solution to cure hams commercially. Alas, I wont turn down advice from a professional; I bought a marinate injector and started another ham yesterday. Well see how it turns out.


09 April, 2007

Spring Columbus

The widow warned me.

Last week on the blog Restaurant Widow, I saw a post with pictures of Spring in Columbus. With the eagerness of a Nantucket cabin boy waiting to set to sea for adventure, I chirpily typed my excitement in a comment saying I could not wait to see Spring in my hometown Easter weekend. In return, I received a glum note with the weekend forecast: Cold and snow. I hadn't looked at the forecast, and I knew it was supposed to cool down here in Chicago, but it is usually 10 degrees (F) warmer in CMH than in CHI. I was undaunted, the sun would come out and burn the chill off the ravine and leave the heavy 40F air to wrap around my head and fill my lungs while I took exquisite photos of the redbuds.


I'm sure in the 30+ Easters that I have spent in Columbus, there have been a few with cold and snow. I guess with the anticipation and the distance, it seemed just a bit colder.

Well at least we weren't in Cleveland.

Bad weather or not, it's always a frenetic food free-for-all when the family gets together.

I started a couple of Fridays ago with a 12 pound ham and a big bucket.

The recipe is from Charcuterie, for American Style Holiday Ham. The cure is a brine of salt, brown sugar and pink salt. I let it soak for six days in the fridge.

I took it out of the brine and let it set in the cooler for two days unwrapped. Then I smoked it on a kettle grill.

For instructions to smoke on a kettle grill, take a look at the post, Slow Pork Taco Recipe. While the ham is cooking let's take a look around to see what else is going on.

hmm.... somebody is making an animal cracker crust....

The Bonne Femme, presents her 2007 edition of the bunny carrot cake.

Mom is ready to bottle her first batch of vin de Hoo-hoo.

After putting up seven bottles it's time for a break. Mom gets out some Easter eggs from the "old" days:

Hey, how is that ham coming along?

After 4 -1/2 hours cooking at a temperature of 275-300F, the ham registered an internal temp of 155F. Let's see how it turned out....

So outside looks great, I couldn't keep dad away from the crackling, but the inside there's a couple of spots that aren't pink. The cure didn't penetrate all the way. It could have probably brined another day, and maybe flipping it once or twice while it cured might have helped too. That said, It tasted like smoked HAM, and that is a good thing. We actually had the ham dinner Saturday night, then Sunday morning Eggs Benedict.

Okay, people are starting to get mad because I am taking too many pictures and the food is getting cold.

Keep on reading, we've got more food fun coming up from Columbus, including the first Saucisson MAC contest.


Count the before they: Contest

How many eggs did Tony suck?

I have known Tony since I was nine. In addition to working for my dad he has run bars and help manage restaurants in Columbus. And he doesn't look a day over thirty five. When my mom showed me this bowl of empty eggshells (and these were only the ones he saved) and told me Tony did it, I can't say I was surprised. Amazed, yes.

I asked my mom why? She said he had been helping re-model the bathroom and noticed she had a lot of eggs on hand. He asked if he could have them. Sure take as many as you like. He said liked to suck them from the shell, it reminded him of his grandmother's farm in Macedonia, he used to walk into the coop and take the fresh eggs and eat them where he stood. So when he came over to work on the bathroom, he made a stop at my mom's coop first.

'nuff said.

Let me stop at this point to say, If you can stick with reading Saucisson MAC, not only will we learn about Sausage, Smoking, Curing, and blah blah blah, but you will meet some interesting people. I promise.

back to the program.

So if you have a bunch of empty eggshells and you have already made an egg wreath, what are you going to do? How about grab this months issue of Gourmet (pronounced GOR-met).

Time to get crackin.

Mom makes a Trompe L'Oeil with lemon pudding and lemon curd.

While we wait for that to set, 'bout some crackers and cheese, eh Gromit?

SO why a cheese picture? Clockwise from the top is Smoked Gouda, a spot of Maytag Blue, Rubusto (Spanish?) and some Shrimp Butter. Grandma (pronouced gramma-gramma), made the Shrimp Butter a month or so ago (at least before the current issue of Gourmet, which features a shrimp butter recipe) for a party she gave that featured dishes from the seventies. It freezes well and on a cracker it is highly addictive, unless of course you are grandma and you don't eat anything with fish in it.

Time for desert.

Grandpa Bob with the bone spoon.

Remember the animal cracker crust? Somebody in the family ( I wont mention any names, but her initials are Bonne Femme) has a soft spot coconut cream pie. Enter Mom and the May/June 2004 issue of Cook's Illustrated.

Now for the contest. Guess how many eggs Tony sucked. Leave your guess in the comment box along with your name and if you are the first one to get it right, I'll send you a prize. The prize will either be sausage or a T-shirt, I don't know yet. Guess as many times as you want. Persons affiliated with Saucisson MAC, or if you know Tony, or if your name is Buzz, you are not eligible to win. If this all goes horribly wrong, I will cancel the contest. Be nice.