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Everything posted by Alcuin

  1. Hahaha we posted the same thing simultaneously: great minds think alike.
  2. That recipe looks really good. I've heard that cardoons were eaten with bagna cauda, but I've never seen them around here. I was surprised at how big they are-the stalks are huge. So what I just did was I cut them into 6in lengths, trimmed and peeled them, and I put them in a big pot to boil with a lemon. They seemed very fibrous, so I thinking it might take the full 50 minutes to cook. When they're done, I'm going to gratinee them with a light bechamel and cheese. I was looking around and saw some references to that and that sounds like it will fit into today's schedule neatly.
  3. I think I'm going to gratinee the cardoons. As for those potatoes, there was one variety there that stayed purple when cooked and one that apparently is pink. I would have gone for those, but butterball potatoes just sounded too good. Butter, salt, and potatoes is one of the best things in the world.
  4. Here's what I came home with from the market. The back fat As you can see, they are nice big slabs. I was planning on devoting all of it to sausage making, but I'm thinking I'm going to have to make some lardo out of this beautiful bounty of fat. I would be a crime not to. I also picked up some fresh and smoked pork jowls, some cottage bacon, and a shoulder roast. I've gotten really into cottage bacon lately. When I first had it, I didn't like it's chewier texture but now I eat it much more than belly bacon. I like smoked jowl better too: the fat is nice and spongy in texture and it makes great lardons. And of course, here's the bunch of cardoon stalks. I've never cooked this before, but a woman at the Harmony Valley stand said they're good peeled, blanched, then sauteed with shallots or onions. Does anybody have any suggestions on how to handle these cardoons though? I'm open to suggestions and have no experience with them. I'm thinking I'll cook up some of that pork, maybe braise some pork cheeks and serve over butternut squash puree? I do have that shoulder roast though. Anybody have any thoughts?
  5. I just got back from the Dane County Farmer's Market, the biggest one around here and according to the website, "the largest producer-only farmer's market in the country." It takes place on the square that surrounds the capital building. Here's the view from one angle There are many farmer's markets that take place over the course of the week, but this one's of course the most popular because it brings in a wide range of vendors and food carts. The square is packed with people by noon, so much so that it can be difficult to walk. And traffic goes one way around the square, clockwise, so if you need to go back to something you will literally have to get out of the stream of people to backtrack and get back in to where you want to go. The only time I've ever seen it more packed than that was for political reasons. That's why I go early to beat the rush. The market will move indoors in November. As for now, it's all fall produce. Brussel sprout stalks, apples, squashes, etc., but there are some tomatoes and peppers. For the latter, everybody was saying that this week they pretty much pulled everything up because it's starting to get colder at night and there's going to be some frosting. So this was definitely the last week for that: summer is no more. That's ok though, Fall's got plenty to offer and besides, I was getting tired of Summer anyway. It's prime apple season I got some of these Stayman Winesaps, which are supposed to be tart but plenty fruity too with a very crisp texture. That sounds right up my ally. I also got some potatoes This guy's got some really interesting potato varieties. I picked up some German butterballs, because the name sounds good and they looked freshly dug. Then I stopped by to pick up my pre-order of pork I was hoping to get some backfat, but unsure of whether I would since I missed or didn't get the email about the order. Sue and Tony hooked me up with three big slabs of it. I was happy about that, but less happy about the fact that I came here alone with only a small backpack. Getting back with all my stuff was going to be a problem. Anyway I stopped by this jelly stand I was tempted but didn't pick anything up. I already have two bottle of their jelly in the fridge anyway. What I like about them is that many of these jellies have jalapeno in them, which adds a nice fruitiness and a little heat to the jelly. I like the plain jalapeno, but jalapeno-serrano-raspberry is my favorite. I just learned about jelly omelettes in another thread around here, and I'm thinking I need to make a jalapeno jelly omelette with queso fresco before I run out of this bottle. I'll have to do that before I forget. Squash and pumpkin season is in full effect I got a butternut squash. I stopped by the Hook's stand Where I saw this Apparently its an experimental cheese, a cross between Limburger and a blue. I didn't get any since I didn't have any room, but I'm intrigued. Might be good on a sandwich of some sort. Lastly, I stopped by Harmony Valley They tend to grow some more interesting vegetables. So while I had absolutely no room to carry anything, I saw these and had to buy one You can't see it too well but its a bunch of cardoons. They are huge and I've never cooked them before but it's going to be fun to try something new.
  6. The slaw is quite good. As for the curds, when they are very hot they have a melted interior. But cheese curds in general have a very tough consistency for a cheese, kind of rubbery. That's what makes them squeaky when they're really fresh, which is the only way to eat them. So when the curds start to cool down, they start to get rubbery. That's why they must first be hot out of the fryer, and second eaten as quickly as possible. If you can satisfy that first condition, the second takes care of itself.
  7. We went to the Old Fashioned tonight. This must be, without a doubt, the most popular restaurant around. It is a "Wisconsin" restaurant, but I wouldn't call it a theme restaurant. They do WI standards and they do them well, with great ingredients. The emphasis is squarely on WI, which means that everything is local. They have 150 WI beers, 30 of which are on tap, and they only serve WI beers (which is too bad if you're a lover of 3 Floyds and Bells, like me). Here's the beer I had a Hopasauras Rex from Titletown brewery in Green Bay. It was mediocre. I also had a Tyranena Bitter Woman, which was also just ok. I've had the Bitter Woman before; I just wanted to see if it had improved since last I drank it. I could have gotten an O'so or Lakefront or Ale Asylum beer that's more of a known quantity and more quality breweries, but I like to see how some other beers are tasting sometimes. While waiting I saw they were getting some Cherry Bounce ready for Winter, which I thought was interesting. We got fried cheese curds, with horseradish sauce. As with many things, the Old Fashioned makes some of the best cheese curds I've had. And it's Friday so that means fish fry. You can get Walleye, Perch, or Cod. We both got walleye. It's a good rendition of traditional WI fare. That's true of the Old Fashioned right down to the landjagers and pickled pork hocks. What might come off as a gimmicky place isn't one at all because of the real care, quality, and most importantly consistency they put into the food. But if you go on a Friday, expect to wait over an hour to be seated. Even though they've expanded to the swallow up the next space over beside them (with no loss of quality for the food whatsoever), they are always packed.
  8. That sounds good. I eat rabbit frequently enough since I have easy access to it, so I'll definitely give that a try. And as for the tripe, I have to say that I've convinced a lot of people to eat it and everyone loves it even not very adventurous eaters. It really has no funkiness to the flavor at all. Now if the texture's your problem, that's another story altogether!
  9. Thanks for the compliments on the bread. I've been working on this one bread for about five years and I make it every week, so I know it pretty well by now. I got the starter from my mom. We always had bread around the house; my mom's a prolific baker and very versatile too. When I moved to WI, I realized I couldn't live in a house that didn't have a loaf of bread sitting cut down on the counter, the omphalos of the kitchen. So I tried to make my own, but when I failed the first time, I told her about it on the phone. A couple of days later, I got a package and I opened it up to find a pint container of starter that exploded in the box! I called her and she told me just to scrape as much of it as I could into something, and begin feeding it. It worked and I've been using it ever since.
  10. I had lunch today at my favorite Chinese restaurant in town, Fugu. I would say they are handsdown the best, but I've heard good things about another place, Ichiban, and haven't had a chance to get there yet. Why these Chinese places have Japanese names is beyond me, as is Fugu's insistence that it is a "fusion" restaurant. Because while there are a few clear sops thrown to the person who walks into an "Asian restaurant" and wants their pad thai and their crab rangoon, Fugu's core is really good Sichuan food. That's what's on offer on their lunch menu. Here's what we had. Sichuan spicy cucumber The cucumber is dressed with what seems to my palate to be Chinkiang vinegar, chili oil, and Sichuan peppercorn. I'm sure there's more involved, but that's what I can make out. It's something cool and crunchy to complement the rest. Shredded pork with dried bean curd This is a nice subtle dish. The contrast between the tofu and the pork is great, and the sauce is perfectly done with just enough to coat the dish. Homestyle tofu Perfectly fried tofu with bell pepper, bamboo shoot tips, and wood ear mushroom braised so that it is gelatinous but preserves the woodear crunch. Pork tripe in spicy sauce This is the best tripe dish I've ever had. The texture of the tripe is spongy and rich, which contrasts to the fresh and dried peppers it's mixed with. My favorite dish at Fugu, with their deep fried intestine and double cooked pork closely tied for second. The dishes come out sequentially, when they are done, so you get them right out of the wok. This confuses some people, especially when you get your rice toward the end, but I like that they give it to you when it's at its best. They also deliver, but it goes without saying that it's best had right then and there.
  11. Here's a shot of the crumb of the loaf I cooked last night. It's very open, but not too much so. I'm happy with it. And this method makes for a reliably cool and creamy crumb with a nice toasty crust.
  12. I realize I haven't taken any shots of my kitchen. You'll have to figure these bad pictures; it was dark when I took them before leaving for the office this morning. It's pretty small as you can see, but it's amazing how much stuff you can pack into it. There is no counter space in the entire kitchen, so the rolling dishwasher is what I use for counterspace. This means I have to be a model of efficiency at all times. With such little space, things can get out of control pretty quickly. Here's the liquor cabinet, with a big upright steamer I use to make sticky rice, the container I use to brine big things, and some cocktail books. Here's a shot from the opposite corner of the kitchen. Here you can see the pantry in the corner. You can walk in there. I keep Asian sauces, pastas, grains, spices, oils, flours, my standmixer, my sausage stuffer, a pet food container with lockable top filled with rice (everything must be hermetically sealed to keep out moths). I will also hang a pancetta, or a duck prosciutto, or guanciale back there too. Here's a shot of the cabinet, showing the extent of my glass addiction It's hard to take pictures of this room, because the lighting is not great (I like it that way) and its either very sunny and shadowy because of the two windows facing westward or its pretty dark inside. It's certainly not the best kitchen, but it does the job. And, amazingly, it fits all my stuff.
  13. At what point did you add the heart, liver, and kidneys, and how did you prep them before adding them to the braise? This looks delicious, and has inspired me to bite the bullet and shell out for a bunny (wish the ones they sold here were as robust as yours). Sorry I forgot that part. Before I added the mushrooms I sauteed them in butter in a pan. I then used that same pan to sear the liver, kidneys, and heart. This was at the last moment, and they were simply added to the rest. I do it that way because the liver is so good, I only want it done medium at the most. It seared up well and had a nice rosy interior.
  14. I preheated the oven to 500F with a dutch oven inside it (specially dedicated to breadmaking). I slashed it an turned it out into the preheated dutch oven. Twenty minutes covered, then reduced to 450F and twenty minutes uncovered. Here's the bread out of the oven You can see some tearing on at the seams of the slashes. Those could be improved upon. The oven spring I got this time was more than I expected; typically when it gets colder the bread seems a bit more sluggish. Not this time though! I'll try to get a crumb shot tomorrow.
  15. Here's a shot of dinner It's a very straightforward braise. I cut up an onion, a carrot, a stalk of celery. After the rabbit was browned I removed it and softened those vegetables. I added about a teaspoon of fresh time. Then I added a cup of wine and reduced it by half, added the rabbit back in, and added stock to come halfway up. I braised it in the oven at 300F. While that was happening, I cooked some kohlrabi, carrot, and leeks. Those I tossed in butter. I sauteed some mushrooms in butter. When the rabbit was coming off the bone cleanly (but not falling off) I took it out and finished the sauce. I reduced it by about half, added some butter, and thickened with cornstarch slurry. I also added some more fresh time at this point. Et voila. Simple rabbit braised in wine with vegetables. We had parsleyed potatoes on the side. For the wine, I splurged a bit and bought a macon-fuisse instead of a simpler macon-villages. I was thinking I'd give the rabbit the full burgundy treatment (lardons, shrooms, pearl onions) but in the end I ended up not doing that. I do think that a white burgundy is my favorite wine to have with rabbit though.
  16. I think they work well with whiskey in classic drinks like old fashioneds or manhattans. I figured I'd give an Old Fashioned a shot. I was going to use Old Grandad bonded, but I wanted something more. So I used 2oz William Larue Weller, 1/2 t rich simple, 2 dashes Xocolatl Mole bitters, garnished with 11 drops of Bittercube cherry bark bitters and a swatch of orange peel. The verdict: it's good. But that was a bit of a foregone conclusion. I do like these bitters. Thanks for the recommendation. There's hardly a better way to test out bitters than in an OF.
  17. Here's the rabbit, cut up. I cut the saddle in two. The ribcage section and the belly will go into the freezer to be made into stock. If I have enough rabbit bones, I'll make rabbit stock. If not, I'll cook it with chicken bones too. I probably will have enough though, since I'm thinking of making a rabbit terrine. The heart, kidneys, and liver I will add to the braise at the end. Rabbit liver is one of the most delicious of livers. They really taste like rabbit. Here it is seared and about to be covered.
  18. I haven't but I bet it would be good. Maybe with olives and artichokes. I think I'd do something like pappardelle with something that chunky. I'm going to have to try that soon. Maybe I'll post it on the dinner thread-that would be a first I think.
  19. Crispy rabbit ears? Pressed terrine of rabbit ears? Actually they probably aren't for sale to eat. His methods for butchering for human and for animal consumption are quite different. So I'm guessing that he doesn't have a very big market for ears for human consumption. Too bad though. They should be all collagen, and might be good after a braise like with pigs' ears. I seem to recall reading something about Ferran Adria cooking them. I've never eaten them though. Has anybody had rabbit ear?
  20. Here it is, all balled up and ready to proof. I'll cover it with a towel and at this point I can wait about an hour and a half to two hours and bake it, or I can put it in the refrigerator and let it proof more slowly. I'm going the refrigerator route today, so I can bake the bread after dinner. I don't want to let it go too long in there, or it might over proof.
  21. Another hour went by, and the dough looked like this Notice that compared to what it was an before kneading an hour ago, it's smoother looking and you can see a pocket of air forming right where the bowl makes a shadow crescent over it. I roughed it up a bit and it looked like this You can see how it's maintaining a rounder shape. The dough is forming some good structure. I put a thin film of oil in the bowl this time, because in an hour I'll be shaping it and I want to be able to turn it out onto the board as gently as possible to maintain the network of bubbles built up in the dough.
  22. I was recently given a bottle of Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters to try out, and while I've used them in some things I'm looking for some more suggestions on what to do with them. I've found that they pair well with rum and Carpano Antica Formula, but I'm not sure where to go next. Any ideas?
  23. When I got back from lunch, the dough looked like this I took it out and kneaded it by grabbing one end of it flipping the other end up into the air and slapping it down on the board. Then I double it over and repeat. What I'm looking for in these short bursts of kneading is for the initially slack dough to come together into a fairly tight ball as I'm kneading it. Then I look for it to begin to loosen up again. When it starts to loosen up again, I stop. This takes about 10-15 seconds. Then it looks like this You can see that its not a tight little ball, but its slackening. It would have been tighter had I stopped a few seconds earlier and took a picture of it then. The idea here is to give the gluten a quick and intense workout so that it can build more structure over the time I have it fermenting. Now we wait another hour.
  24. Had lunch at the co-op while picking up a few things. I had a salad of greens, canned artichokes, tomatoes, broccoli, cucumber, chick peas, bean sprouts, with Annie's Goddess dressing. I also had a hard boiled egg (properly cooked too), and two salads. One was a shredded butternut squash and fennel salad with walnuts, the other was a garlicky and lightly creamy pasta salad with spinach and tomatoes. To drink, I had a boysenberry spritzer.
  25. I continued the bread process just now. This is what the first build that I started last night looked like after about 12 hours It's a little less active than I've become used to over the summer, because it's colder out. Here's what the underside looked like You can see a little honeycomb pattern, indicating there was some activity going on. It's much less than my last dough had though, because it was about twenty degrees warmer out. Things just might take a little longer, though probably not. So from this point, I mix my final dough. On top of the first build I add 375g AP flour, 50g whole wheat, 14g salt, and 350ml water. That makes for a total hydration of 72% with the first build factored in (200g flour, 100ml water). I had to buy some more flour today, and when I got to the store I saw they only had 10lb bags of King Arthur. I usually use Gold Medal AP flour, but I bought the KA instead. It was $6.99 so I figured why not give it a shot. I wasn't sure how much more or less water it would absorb, and I'm unsure how much stronger/softer it might be. So on top of the weather, that's another thing to factor in to the process. When I mix this dough, I'm just mixing it together. I don't need the dough except for two short bursts as the total dough ferments. So after mixing it just to combine, it looks like this It seemed to absorb more water than I thought it would, and was actually a bit drier than normal (but not too much, so I'm not sweating it). I thought because of the humidity I'd have to add some more flour, but I didn't. I'm going to be interested to see if there's a noticeable difference in the loaf once it's baked. From this point, I let it sit for an hour. I'll come back and knead it for 10-15 seconds then, and put it away for another hour. I'm going to hit the co-op for some stuff for dinner and some lunch. Hopefully I can be back in less than an hour!
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