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eG Foodblog: Chris Hennes - Pork and chocolate, together at last!

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#1 Chris Hennes

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 04:24 AM

Good morning from State College, PA (and congratulations to Kerry Beal for guessing my identity!) :smile: . I only wish that the first teaser photo was current---alas, it was taken last summer, things aren't quite that green yet at this latitude. Thanks, Susan, for inviting me to do a foodblog this week.

First a little background: "Hennes" rhymes with "tennis," I'm 27, and I'm working on my Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering at Penn State. My wife is currently finishing her Ph.D. in Accounting here, and you're catching us an an exciting/scary/stressful time in our lives: tomorrow we have to decide where my wife is going to accept a job that she will begin at the end of the summer. More on that later...

In the grand tradition of foodblogs past, here is how I begin my mornings (at least, when I have time!):
Posted Image

The eGullet mug is an unusual embellishment: I usually drink my morning coffee out of a stainless-steel thermos mug so I can nurse it for a couple hours. But the mug seemed appropriate for this blog, so here it is! Coffee is typically my only breakfast: I don't get hungry until around 10:30 or 11:00 a.m. I know, this is horrible and unhealthy, but there it is... you won't be seeing much breakfast food this week!

What you will be seeing is a lot of pork, and a lot of chocolate:
Posted Image
Sorry to disappoint those of you who are hoping to see chocolate-covered bacon, but this is as close as the two will get to each other this week :biggrin: . I've had bacon in a chocolate bar: it was good, but I can think of better uses for both ingredients :cool: .

Other items on the menu this week include such thrilling entries as tacos, stir-fried green beans, and BLTs. Ah, the culinary adventures of a graduate student! :rolleyes: I hope you'll drop by and say hello from time to time despite the mundane dinners! And I hope no one is too disappointed that I don't hail from anyplace exotic!

Chris Hennes
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#2 JanMcBaker

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 04:32 AM

Ooohhhhh---- this should be a good one! Coffee, chocolate and pork-- three of my favorite food groups! And where do you get those Guittard chocolates? More details about what's in those boxes, please, Chris!

Edited by JanMcBaker, 07 April 2008 - 05:41 AM.

"Fat is money." (Per a cracklings maker shown on Dirty Jobs.)

#3 Wein1965

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 04:35 AM

Good morning Chris! Nice to see a blog of a "neighbor" - what local places are you planning to visit/shoot this week?

#4 Kerry Beal

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 04:38 AM

Can't wait to follow this blog Chris. I'm in Hershey, Pennsylvania right now, it's just starting to get green. Thought that picture looked like somewhere in the middle of the USA.

So we get to find out al la minute where you are going to be moving. Very exciting - I've been wondering where you will settle, and how hard it will become to get ingredients. Are you at the point in your PhD where you can just pack up and go, and return to Penn State when it's time to defend?

Can't wait to see what other charcuterie you are working on.

#5 mkayahara

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 05:04 AM

Definitely looking forward to following along, Chris!

One question: is that a really big eGullet mug, or a really small Bodum? :biggrin:
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#6 Chris Hennes

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 05:16 AM

Ooohhhhh---- this should be a good one!  Coffee, chocolate and pork-- three of my favorite food groups!  And where do you get those Guittard chocolates?  More details about what's in those boxes, please, Chris!

The chocolates in those boxes (they are the 5kg boxes I picked up from Chocosphere) are, from left to right, "Creme Francais" 31% Cocoa Butter based White, "Soleil d'Or" 38% Milk Chocolate, and "Lever du Soleil" 61% Semisweet Dark Chocolate, all wafers.

Good morning Chris! Nice to see a blog of a "neighbor" - what local places are you planning to visit/shoot this week?

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I really don't have anything exciting planned for the week, so I can take requests. Anything you want to see? I'll be hitting my favorite lunch spots in town throughout the week, but dinners will be at home for the most part.

Can't wait to follow this blog Chris.  I'm in Hershey, Pennsylvania right now, it's just starting to get green.  Thought that picture looked like somewhere in the middle of the USA. 

So we get to find out al la minute where you are going to be moving.  Very exciting - I've been wondering where you will settle, and how hard it will become to get ingredients.  Are you at the point in your PhD where you can just pack up and go, and return to Penn State when it's time to defend?

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Yup---I'm leaving town this summer with my wife, and will hopefully finish up by December (at least, that's when I am funded until!). I will have to call her "Dr. Hennes" for an entire semester!! :biggrin:

Definitely looking forward to following along, Chris!

One question: is that a really big eGullet mug, or a really small Bodum? :biggrin:

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Glad you are all here: it's a gigantic mug! It must be around 14 oz, I can fit the entire batch of coffee in it at once. Get yours here!

Chris Hennes
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#7 Chris Hennes

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 05:55 AM

When I get to my office and get my laptop hooked up, this is what greets me every morning:
Posted Image
You might think based on this that I like bacon... you'd be right! The image on the left monitor is here, and on the right is from here.

Obviously, then, one of the charcuterie items this week is a fresh batch of bacon: here is the mise en place (I did this on Saturday so I could smoke next Sunday and you would get to see the finished product)
Posted Image

I'm actually only curing half the belly this week: the other half will be used in another, yet-to-be-determined, cooking project.

Depending on when my l'Epicerie order comes in, I may also make some Hungarian Paprika Sausages, as well as some Hot-Smoked Andouille. These are all recipes from Ruhlman and Polcyn's Charcuterie (eG thread here).

Chris Hennes
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#8 Oceangroveguy

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 06:02 AM

A photo and assessment of the cheeseburger club from the Corner Room (if it's still in business) would be a welcome and nostalgic sight.

Thanks.
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#9 Chris Hennes

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 06:09 AM

A photo and assessment of the cheeseburger club from the Corner Room (if it's still in business) would be a welcome and nostalgic sight.

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The Corner Room is still alive and kicking: on the rare occasions that I eat breakfast, that is my restaurant of choice (mostly because it is across the street from my office!). I can't say I've ever had the cheeseburger club, but I'm game. That is definitely one of the spots I was going to hit for lunch, along with Herwigs Austrian Bistro and the Golden Wok. Any other Penn State alums out there? (We are!!)

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#10 Chufi

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 06:35 AM

This is going to be interesting!
I just had a look at your website and I must say, it's not often that you see the rotor noise of helicopters, home made bacon and coconut lemongrass truffles all together on one website :biggrin:

Charcuterie and making chocolates, for me, are 2 of those 'maybe one day' things, and knowing myself, there´s a pretty good chance that day is never going to come! What made you decide to start doing it?

#11 Chris Hennes

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 06:42 AM

This is going to be interesting!
I just had a look at your website and I must say, it's not often that you see the rotor noise of helicopters, home made bacon and coconut lemongrass truffles all together on one website  :biggrin:

Charcuterie and making chocolates, for me, are 2 of those 'maybe one day' things, and knowing myself, there´s a pretty good chance that day is never going to come! What made you decide to start doing it?

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Actually, charcuterie is what brought me to eGullet in the first place---I needed some help with the proper duck confit method for a cassoulet! I am always on the lookout for complicated cooking projects (I'm an engineer, I always look for the most complicated solution!! :raz: ), and charcuterie ranks right up there near the top in terms of complication. There is not much more challenging that making dry-cured sausage, IMO. Well, charcuterie is fun and all, but a little hard to bring into the office, and my wife doesn't much care for anything but the bacon. So I hunted around here and the folks over in the various confections threads seemed friendly and helpful, and confections seemed pretty dang complicated, so I dove in. :biggrin: Everyone at my office is going to get fat off all the truffles this week!!

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#12 Dejah

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 07:04 AM

I'm actually only curing half the belly this week: the other half will be used in another, yet-to-be-determined, cooking project.

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Oh boy! Should have paid more attention to the little details in avatars :wink:

As to the other half of the pork belly - at least three of us thought it was to end up as siu yook, so perhaps you can do something Asian with it? Being an engineer, you'd be right up there with Prawcracker and Origamicrane in figuring out the most complicated method of getting that specific crispiness to the skin. :laugh: :rolleyes:

Looking forward to your blog. :smile:
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#13 Chris Hennes

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 07:14 AM

As to the other half of the pork belly - at least three of us thought it was to end up as siu yook, so perhaps you can do something Asian with it? Being an engineer, you'd be right up there with Prawcracker and Origamicrane in figuring out the most complicated method of getting that specific crispiness to the skin. :laugh:  :rolleyes:

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Siu yook is a great idea! origamicrane's post on the Siu Yook thread is one of the best I have seen on the forums! Incredibly thorough! I've actually never had siu yook, but maybe this week would be a fun time to try it. I haven't planned dinner for next Saturday yet...

Chris Hennes
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#14 Peter Green

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 07:21 AM

Ah, another good blog off to a great start.

Chocolate, pork, and Apple computers!
:biggrin:

#15 racheld

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 07:43 AM

Chocolate, charcuterie, and our own Rocket Scientist!!! This should be a roller-coaster week.
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#16 Lindacakes

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 08:20 AM

Does this mean, Chris, that at school, you are taking up space?

:biggrin:

I've waited years to use that joke . . .

It's sort of like college is a fountain of knowledge where students go to drink.

Can you tell me something about the chocolate wafers -- are these preferred because they melt faster? I always use great honking bars that have to be chopped.
I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

#17 Chris Hennes

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 09:13 AM

Can you tell me something about the chocolate wafers -- are these preferred because they melt faster?  I always use great honking bars that have to be chopped.

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The wafers are fantastic: the are 3 grams each, so it is easy to measure small quantities just by counting them out if need be, and they are all uniform, so they melt quickly and evenly. I don't know if I could go back to bars after getting the wafers.

OK, lunchtime... per Oceangroveguy's request, I went to The Corner Room---here is the exterior:
Posted Image
The Corner Room is the restaraunt on the street level of this building. The Allen Street Grill, on the second floor, has a nice atmosphere and good seats by all those windows, but is a bit more expensive and I don't think is worth it.

And, as requested, I got the Cheeseburger Club, burger medium, on white bread, with a side of fries:
Posted Image
Overall, I was favorably impressed with the sandwich, which I had never had before. The first priority of a club sandwich must be: is the bacon crisp? Check. Next, the meat, in this case the burger: tastes good? Check. Juicy? Check. Done medium? More like medium well, but close enough considering that it remained tasty and juicy. I found the lettuce a bit overwhelming, and the tomatoes are typical winter hothouse garbage (mealy, watery and tasteless), but the cheese was good, and there was plenty of it. So overall, I'd order it again, for the $7.50 it cost. The bonus was that the fries were better than I remembered as well, so good call on the Corner Room! If you're ever in State College and looking for breakfast or lunch at a reasonable price point, with friendly service and a typical PA diner menu, look no further. (I should add that their cheesesteak is pretty good for the region, and their early-bird breakfast special is a good value).

Edited by Chris Hennes, 07 April 2008 - 09:15 AM.

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#18 Megan Blocker

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 09:20 AM

Oh, man, that sandwich is making me HUNGRY! Time for lunch...
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#19 plattetude

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 09:27 AM

I hope that a homemade Mount Nittany makes the cut for this blog -- I'm sure it would be of interest to this crowd to see a sticky going from a big slab to a lovely, buttery, caramelized baton of carbohydrate goodness, and see it stand up to a scoop of Creamery ice cream. (For those who don't know about Penn State's agriculture school, they have a correspondence course in ice cream making which is essentially how Ben and Jerry learned to make ice cream. The Creamery is the retail outlet for Penn State ice cream.)

Or at least, have a quick sitdown at Ye Olde College Diner to order one.

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#20 Chris Hennes

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 09:40 AM

Or at least, have a quick sitdown at Ye Olde College Diner to order one.

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As a general rule I avoid Ye Olde College Diner like the plague, but perhaps for this blog I can make an exception to show everyone else the home of the "grilled sticky." Or maybe I'll just pick up a box of them at the Wegmans and top it with Haagen Daz instead! :biggrin: It is probably sacrilegious in these parts, but I'm not a huge fan of the local creamery ice cream...

Edited by Chris Hennes, 07 April 2008 - 09:41 AM.

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#21 handmc

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 09:47 AM

Would you get some suicide wings from the G-man for us?

Oh, man you have to take a hit for us do a grilled sticky as well.

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#22 Chris Hennes

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 10:04 AM

Would you get some suicide wings from the G-man for us?

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OK, now, there are some sacrifices I just can't make! Sounds like a grilled sticky is in order, though: maybe I will have one for breakfast tomorrow (<homer voice>mmmm, ice cream for breakfast</homer voice> :smile: ).

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#23 handmc

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 10:18 AM

Would you get some suicide wings from the G-man for us?

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OK, now, there are some sacrifices I just can't make! Sounds like a grilled sticky is in order, though: maybe I will have one for breakfast tomorrow (<homer voice>mmmm, ice cream for breakfast</homer voice> :smile: ).

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Do you really think they are that wings are that hot? Maybe I just burned out the old taste buds. I think as hot wings go, while hot, they have the best flavor I have bought at a restaurant.

How about a cheesesteak from CJ peppers, is that still there?

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One summers evening drunk to hell, I sat there nearly lifeless…Warren

#24 Peter Green

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 10:20 AM

Oh, I just thought about it! Pennsylvania.....

Are we going to see some scrapple?

#25 Chris Hennes

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 10:38 AM

Would you get some suicide wings from the G-man for us?

View Post

OK, now, there are some sacrifices I just can't make!

View Post

Do you really think they are that wings are that hot?

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Actually, I've never had them, so I have no idea. People around here talk about them like they are crazy-hot, but I don't know how much truth there is to that. In my opinion the best wings in town are at Mad Mex (<-- might want to turn your audio off before clicking that one!): we'll be heading there on Friday for happy hour :smile: . Still, until I have compared them to The Gingerbread Man's I can't make a definitive comment...

How about a cheesesteak from CJ peppers, is that still there?

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They are still there, though I hesitate to go near a cheesesteak in this neck of the woods. When I need my fix, I head to Philly! Is the CJ Peppers steak worth seeking out, or just above average for Central PA?

Oh, I just thought about it!  Pennsylvania.....

Are we going to see some scrapple?

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Man, I hope not! :biggrin:

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#26 Katie Meadow

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 10:44 AM

Chris, this blog screams out for recipes that combine pork and chocolate. I have a recipe for something you might like. It's a Red Pork Chili that calls for not only chocolate but coffee as well. These flavors are subtle (well, not the pork or the chili of course) but they definitely add a twist. If you want it I will send it along sometime soon. It's what I would want after a cold day in outer space.

#27 Oceangroveguy

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 10:51 AM

Thanks for the photo of the Corner Room and its Cheeseburger Club, very glad you enjoyed lunch!

#28 Chris Hennes

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 10:59 AM

Chris, this blog screams out for recipes that combine pork and chocolate. I have a recipe for something you might like. It's a Red Pork Chili that calls for not only chocolate but coffee as well. These flavors are subtle (well, not the pork or the chili of course) but they definitely add a twist. If you want it I will send it along sometime soon. It's what I would want after a cold day in outer space.

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All the pork shoulder is called for in other projects right now (wait until you all see the list of stuff I am cooking this week!!), but I've still got that half-belly to use up: maybe as an eGullet team we can come up with something that involves pork belly and chocolate (and maybe coffee too?).

My general plan for the blog this week is to basically show you what I normally eat and cook, but I've condensed several larger projects that I don't usually do all in one week to keep things interesting (for you and me!). Of course, for lunches I am flexible because you don't want to see me eat Qdoba burritos every single day (though I do love them...), and I figure I had better show Capaneus and Katie Loeb the fine Austrian fare at Herwigs since I raved about it last time I was in Philly.

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#29 handmc

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 11:18 AM

Would you get some suicide wings from the G-man for us?

View Post

OK, now, there are some sacrifices I just can't make!

View Post

Do you really think they are that wings are that hot?

View Post

Actually, I've never had them, so I have no idea. People around here talk about them like they are crazy-hot, but I don't know how much truth there is to that. In my opinion the best wings in town are at Mad Mex (<-- might want to turn your audio off before clicking that one!): we'll be heading there on Friday for happy hour :smile: . Still, until I have compared them to The Gingerbread Man's I can't make a definitive comment...

How about a cheesesteak from CJ peppers, is that still there?

View Post

They are still there, though I hesitate to go near a cheesesteak in this neck of the woods. When I need my fix, I head to Philly! Is the CJ Peppers steak worth seeking out, or just above average for Central PA?

Oh, I just thought about it!  Pennsylvania.....

Are we going to see some scrapple?

View Post

Man, I hope not! :biggrin:

View Post


My wife and brother in law, both Penn State grads used to go to CJ peppers for a cheesesteak fix. They are South East PA born and bred. I am ashamed to say while I have lived in PA and going into Philly often I have not been to Pat, Geno's or Tony Lukes. I have gotten very lost trying to find them however. Since I have a garmin now I will have to see what all the fuss is about.

**************************************************
Ah, it's been way too long since I did a butt. - Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"



--------------------
One summers evening drunk to hell, I sat there nearly lifeless…Warren

#30 Kouign Aman

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 11:19 AM

Engineers - god love you all - you are indeed a group apart.
Thanks for taking time to blog!

If you can combine pork and chocolate in one meal, its a good day!
You did get me wondering if a mole-inspired cure would make good bacon.
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