23 February, 2008

Chicken and Cheese Please

Got the winter blues? Get some fresh parsley; the color and the smell will remind you that Spring is not far away. Now that you have some parsley you might as well make some sausage.

Italian Style Chicken Sausage with Parsley and Parmesan

633 g (1lb 6oz) Chicken
130 g Parmesan Cheese
12 g salt
7 g white pepper
7g coriander
10 g dry milk
25 g parsley
A little water and vinegar
medium hog casings

Cut the chicken and the cheese into cubes. put the cheese in the freezer for a few minutes. Meanwhile grind the pepper and coriander together then mix with the salt and dry milk. Stir the spice mixture into the chicken and refrigerate for a few minutes. Rinse and chop the parsley. Combine the chicken and cheese and grind them through a medium plate. Stir the chopped parsley into the ground mixture along with a little vinegar and water to smooth out the texture continue stirring for about a minute. Chill. Stuff into casings.

Yield: 760 g (1 lb 11 oz)

If you are feeling daffy, get a whole chicken, use the carcass and wings for stock, use the meat and skin for sausage. I have used this recipe as a stuffing for ravioli, and I have also made it with pork. Have fun with it.


14 February, 2008

The Accidental Foodie in Milwaukee

Cold enough for ya? If not then try Milwaukee in the Winter. We headed up there last weekend for a change of scenery. It was actually pretty warm there when we arrived Saturday morning, around 25F, little E kept calling it Hawaii.

Our first stop was The Milwaukee Art Museum. I highly recommend parking in the museum garage, it's the coolest carpark I have ever seen. Next we tried Wicked Hop for lunch, it had a nice pub atmosphere, and a lot of wraps on the menu. I had a wrap. After a couple of Lakefront IPA's, we sashayed across the street to the Milwaukee Public Market.

Sausage in the shape of a football, what will they think of next? At the market we loaded up on snacks for the slumber party: Beer, cupcakes and cold pack. Time to check in.

We booked into the Milwaukee Hilton. The front desk was kind enough to put us up in a "Murphy Bed" room ("You mean an executive suite?"): Double sized room, wet bar, fridge, and one full sized bed. We pushed the furniture around, set up a tent for the kids, and then went to the water park.

You see, the kids don't care too much about fine art, pub food or cheese counters, they came for the waterslides. Paradise Landing is a part of the hotel, so we were set for the evening.

For dinner we had smoky bacon cold pack and a chunk of Pleasant Ridge Reserve (my favorite cheese), along with the last of the magret sec and the smoked trout. We also had a focaccia from home and six pack of pilsner from Lakefront Brewery. We fell asleep watching cable.

Sunday morning H took pictures of the Ninjas he had won playing skee ball, and then we headed for our next stop the Sprecher Brewery Tour.

It was a brief tour that ended in a beer garden like setting where we could sample the brews and the kids could drink their fill of root beer.

After draining that joint, we headed down the street for a late lunch at Solly's Grille.

For those of you that are up on your hamburger stand history (I'm not), This place is a Mecca, making claim as the originator of the butter burger (Yes, a regional specialty where they put butter on their hamburgers). Food writers from around the nation travel to the counter service spot to bow down before the butter burger. The boys each had a Solly cheeseburger (ez butter), I had a Super Glendale.

That would be a burger with Monterey Jack, mushrooms and grilled onions. Boo-ya. I liked the size of the sandwiches (small) you could enjoy it without feeling like you ate a whole cow. Everyone was very friendly and the service was great.

That's about it, We made the late afternoon drive back to the Southside and got to bed early. Milwaukee is a great place to get away for the night, two hours or less away from Chicago and it's very reasonable: The Hilton, with admission to the water park, and parking, and some voodoo drink Bonne Femme ordered, was less than $175. Fun and food without a fuss.


06 February, 2008

Smoked Trout

Like I was saying in a previous post, I brought some fish home from Rushing Waters Fisheries in Wisconsin. I was ready to try my hand at smoking some fish. Since I had never smoked fish before I consulted The Easy Art of Smoking Food, by Chris Dubbs and Dave Heberle. The book suggests curing fish such as trout for five to eight hours before smoking.

For the salt mixture I used the proportions from my Gravlax recipe, about 3 grams of salt and 5 grams of sugar for each 100 grams of weight. So I applied the cure, put it in the fridge and took the boys to the Museum of Science and Industry.

When we got back, we fired up the cold smoker. The cold smoker consists of my Weber Bullet, an electric burner from K-mart, and a stainless steel bowl in which heated hickory sawdust smolders.

However on this day instead of saw dust, I used the branches from a basil plant I had saved from the garden. I got the idea from The Herbfarm Cookbook, by Jerry Traunfeld, it's at the library go check it out.

I chopped the shrub into bits. By the handful, the basil burned for about an hour. Due to the cold outside temp, the smoker stayed around 100F. The basil had a light sweet smoke, an hour was all the smoke I wanted, so I took the fish inside.

I brushed them with a little canola oil then finished them to firm and flaky in a 250F oven, about 30 minutes.

Holy smokes is it good. Bonne Femme ate a whole filet during the taste test. The skin is very good too. Mix it up with some crème fraîche and some herbs or make rillettes and you got yourself a smoky canapé. But like I said most of this fish didn't even make it to the toast. To Conclude: You don't need to live near a fancy pants deli to live the high life, just fresh ingredients and something in your yard that can burn.


03 February, 2008

Poet Laureate to America: Learn to Cook

Today's New York Times reports Charles Simic's advice for those looking to be happy.

In-Verse Thinking

Elsewhere in the paper, a book review excerpts bits by another poet laureate, Robert Pinsky:

At Robben Island the political prisoners studied.
They coined the motto Each one Teach one.

The Civic Poet

My mash-up of these two ideas renders thus: Happiness can be achieved by a consideration and a control of what we put into our pie-hole. Once that has been achieved, tell somebody about it.

Poet happy paper.
Lean happiness, teach happiness.