Friday, September 30, 2011


This year, unlike years in the past, I didn't do my version of a traditional Rosh Hashanah meal. This is mostly because I don't actually know anything about how to cook Rosh Hashanah foods and after getting angry letters about how insulting my attempts were to Jews around the world I opted to lay off this year.

Potato Latkes with Apple Sauce

But that doesn't mean I didn't still make some latkes! Latkes are, of course, a traditional German food and I decided that these were traditional German latkes and not traditional Rosh Hashanah latkes regardless of the fact that I just made them the same way I always make them.

I grated some potato into a bowl and tossed with salt, pepper, a dash of cider vinegar, an egg, and some flour then I fried them in a pan. Normally I'd grate onion as well but I was surprised to find that we had no onion. The learning experience from this event was that the onion doesn't actually make that much difference. Go figure!

I also made a giant pot of applesauce since we got a metric ton of apples from the farm this week. This was convenient because applesauce was also a traditional pairing for our main course.


I haven't made Sauerbraten since I was in culinary school so I figured I was about due to make it again. This was the perfect item to make for this strange Rosh Hashanah/Oktoberfest hybrid holiday. Brisket, in the German style, with potato latkes, and German beer. It's like fusion cuisine, weak fusion cuisine.

One thing I like to do when cooking European cuisine is to consult Culinaria European Specialties, the two volume set of cookbooks I got in 1995. The set contains fantastic traditional recipes from all the countries of Europe. The effect of this is lost slightly when I come in and bastardize it with my missing ingredients and laziness.

I took a piece of brisket on Monday and marinated it in red wine, water, cider vinegar, salt, peppercorns, juniper berries, cloves, mustard seed, onion, carrot, bay leaves, and dried rosemary.

Today I removed it from the marinade, seared it in butter, olive oil, and canola oil, then added some more onion, the marinade, and simmered it for 2-3 hours.

When it was fork tender I drained all the liquid through a strainer and added some soaked raisins. You're supposed to add gingerbread to this sauce. Since we don't have any I used some of Jen's pumpkin bread as an alternative. You're also supposed to add red wine and red currant jelly. I figured there was enough red wine involved already. When the sauce had simmered for about ten minutes before finishing with some jam, salt, and pepper. Since we have a cupboard full of jellies and jams I decided to use this cerise noir au thym from Corsican company Corsica Gastronomia.

I cooked the sauce down, pureed it, and sliced the brisket on top of the sauce.

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier

To accompany this meal/amalgamation I had this Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier from Schlenkerla in Bamberg. I'd been wanting to try this ever since I saw the episode of The Beer Hunter with Michael Jackson entitled "The Fifth Element." In it he shows how they make this beer by burning beechwood with the malt.

Michael Jackson says that the locals claim you need to have six or seven liters of the beer before you acquire a taste for it. I can see why, it's very strange. It kind of reminds me of yerba mate only a little less disgusting. Michael Jackson claims he loved it the first time he had it. I think he did this just to show off how much of a beer expert he is.

Michael Jackson recommends having this beer with smoked Bavarian ham. Since we didn't have any smoked Bavarian ham I decided to substitute the next best thing: 1986 Eddie Murphy vehicle The Golden Child. This was an adequate substitution. When you can't have a nice smoked ham sometimes you have to watch Eddie Murphy yell at a bunch of Tibetans instead.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

After Midnight, It's Gonna Be All Tomatoes and Soup

Tonight started with yet another dinner after 10:00 PM. Basically, we're like honorary Spaniards.

Smoked Salmon Mac & Cheese

Since it was so late I had to cook something up quickly so that we didn't die. So it was that I repurposed Jen's macaroni and cheese from last night by adding a splash of milk and the leftover smoked salmon. It turns out that smoked salmon is pretty delicious with macaroni and cheese.

Roasted Roma Tomato Soup with Wheat Crostini and Aged Cheddar

Jen had recently seen a tasty-looking tomato soup with cheddar on Smitten Kitchen. This looked pretty tasty so I ordered some soup crocks and got to work.

I roasted some Roma tomatoes in the oven while I caramelized onion and garlic in a pan. When the tomatoes were fully roasted I took them out of the oven, removed the skin, and added them to the onions with a splash of red wine. I also added some dried thyme then put the ingredients into the food processor.

Roasted Roma Tomato Soup with Wheat Crostini and Aged Cheddar

When they were pureed I topped with some wheat bread and shredded Grafton cheddar before broiling in the oven.

Weihenstephaner Vitus Weizenbock

Since I'd done such a poor job of keeping with our Oktoberfest theme so far with this meal I turned, once again, to the world's oldest brewery: Weihenstephaner. This time I went with their Vitus Weizenbock, a beer I expected to be something Jen would hate ended up being right up her street.

Tomorrow I may have moreo than 15 minutes to make dinner so you'd better look out! If I have this much to ramble on about with a 15 minute dinner imagine what I could waste your time with if I had 30 minutes!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Snacking Sweet Spot

Tonight was another time for a post 10:00 PM dinner. We're getting pretty good at this. Because of this I've become a very skilled snacker. It takes a great deal of careful planning and discipline to snack to a degree where I don't overeat and ruin my appetite yet still prevent myself from passing out.

I think I've found the snacking sweet spot.

Often times, like tonight, I'm not entirely sure when Jen is going to be home so it takes a little more planning. Last night I took some risks by cooking a pasta and medium rare lamb tenderloins ahead of time so we could eat right when she got home. Tonight I played it a little safer.

Beet and Apple Salad with Tomato and Cambozola

For salad I used up some of the (one of the) MacIntosh apples along with some beets, heirloom tomato, and Cambazola cheese to make a nice little salad with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Leftover Chicken Couscous with Celeriac, Kale, Shallots, and Carrot

For the main course you may recognize some (or all) of the ingredients from two nights ago. I made this couscous with a little white wine and leftover celeriac, shallot, carrot, garlic, chicken, and kale.

Hofbräu München Oktoberfest

For beer I decided to continue my highlight Oktoberfest some more despite my complete lack of culinary compliance. This time I cracked open the Oktoberfest from Hofbräu München. I just hoped it was a little better than the sad, skunky experience I'd had with their lager the other night.

Was it better? Yes. Though it probably has more to do with freshness than anything else.

Hofbräu München is a made in accordance with the German Purity Law of 1516 and is made from water, hops, and malted barley. It is brewed to a strength of 5.0% alcohol by weight (6.3% by volume) and a specific gravity of 11.5 to 13.2-3 Plato (1053). It has a nutty character with a distinct chalky finish.

I have enjoyed Hofbräu München Oktoberfest in the fall on Munich's Am Platzl at the Hofbräuhaus. There I made note of its malted barley notes and clean, crisp edge.

Sorry about that. Apparently I've been reading a little too much Michael Jackson lately.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Off-Centered Dinner

Jen is very good. She had the opportunity to have a delicious meal tonight for free. Even though she had to go to the dinner she opted to only have a tiny salad so that we could have dinner together. Isn't it enough to just make you sick?

2011 Stone Ledge Farm Share, Fruit Share #2

I had to rush home from work (no free dinner for me) because today was our bi-weekly farm pickup. This delivery saw MacIntosh Apples, Clapp Pears, Gala Apples, Cortland Apples, and Concord Grapes.

Flour City Red Onion Linguine with Beet Greens, Garlic, and Parmigiano-Reggiano

For a first course tonight, instead of salad, I went with the red onion pasta I'd purchased at yesterday's farmer's market from Flour City Pasta. I wanted to enjoy it as is so I just boiled it, tossed it in a little butter, garlic, and olive oil, then added the beet greens from last night with a little salt, pepper, and Parmigano-Reggiano.

Pan Seared New Zealand Lamb Tenderloins with Sambar Yogurt Sauce

For the main course I picked up some grass fed New Zealand lamb tenderloins, mostly because I'd never seen them sold individually like this before, and seared them in a pan. I wanted to grill them but the outside was too dark and mosquito-filled so I let laziness and fear make that decision for me. That's the best way to live one's life.

I served them with a Sambar yogurt sauce using Sambar powder, a touch of cider vinegar, salt, and yogurt.

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale Logo

Last year I wanted to try the Punkin Ale from Dogfish Head. Unforutnately it happened to sell out almost immediately everywhere that carried it, partly in due to the popularity of the show Brew Masters.

Jen and I recently got very interested in this show, only to be saddened after we learned there were only a total of 5 episodes. This is one of the greatest shows about beer ever made, mostly due to the strange bro-charm of Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head's founder and CEO. Try as you might, you can't dislike this man. He is like a more intelligent version of Ted "Theodore" Logan with a strong passion for flying across the world to buy exotic ingredients to throw in his beer.

This year I was delicighted to find it so I picked up two bottles for us. Jen usually sticks to the beers she knows but she's often willing to partake in something adventurous. This is also due to the charm of Sam "Theodore" Calagione.

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale from Growler

I was fully prepared to enjoy the bottle until I stumbled upona beer store selling it on tap this afternoon. The keg had just been tapped and I was allowed to purchase the first bottle. How could I turn this down?

This was actually one of the only pumpkin beers I've tasted that actually tasted like pumpkin and not just of some mild pumpkin pie spice. Like most Dogfish Head beers it was of extremely high quality and very interesting. I guess you could say that it was an off-centered ale for an off-centered person.

Party on, Dudes!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

How Wet American Fall

The ideal first cooking event of the fall would feature a visit to a pumpkin patch picking our some fresh produce while wearing a cable knit sweaters, the rustling brown and orange leaves tumbling past our feet and the nearby hay bales.

Instead, today featured a sweaty walk to the farmer's market and selecting some items while wearing shorts and sandals to combat the 80 degree temperature and estimated 4,000% humidity.

Life is usually a lot less like a Norman Rockwell painting than expected.

Farmer's Market Purchases

Still, I did go to the farmer's market in town and it was a pretty nice spread they had. I got celery root, French fingerlings, assorted heirloom tomatoes, and nice beets from Fishkill Farms; a piece of "Tewksbury" cheese (resembles a Beaufort) from Valley Shepherd Creamery; cider and donuts from Migliorelli Farm; red onion linguine from Flour City Pasta; a loaf of cheesy garlic bread from Our Daily Bread, and a small chicken from Feather Ridge Farm.

Montreal Bagel with Smoked Salmon

When I got back I made myself a lovely lunch of bagels from Jen's recent trip to Montreal, cream cheese, smoked salmon, sliced shallots, and cornichons. This is my ideal lunch. Given the choice I think I would have this every day until there were no more salmon left in the sea.

Our Daily Bread Cheese Loaf

We started off with the cheesy garlic bread. Since Jen was cheated out of a delicious cheesy bread the other night, I felt this was only right to make it up to her.

Brooklyn Oktoberfest (2011)

Before continuing with the Belgian beers bought for me by kind friends, or the other assorted beers in the much conflicted lower cupboards region of the kitchen, or brewing my own beer, it's time to continue with the Oktoberfest beers for this season. Tonight I started with the Oktoberfest from Brooklyn Brewery.

Brooklyn Brewery Oktoberfest
Brooklyn Oktoberfest (2011)

I'm not good enough to be able to tell the difference between the 2011 batch and the 2010 bath but I can spot the difference in the labels. My eagle eye caught a few minor differences in the label. It was like one of those puzzles in Highlights magazine. If you look closely you can even see a rhinocerous hiding in the circular "B" logo.

Beets, Heirloom Tomatoes, and Fourme d'Ambert

I started off by making this salad with sliced beets, heirloom tomtoes, and some of the leftover Fourme d'Ambert along with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Fingerling Potatoes with Cambozola

As a second course I boiled the fingerlings and topped them with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. I then crumbled a little leftover Cambozola on them while they were hot. It was a good night for blue cheeses.

Feather Ridge Chicken Stuffed with Celeriac, Carrots, and Shallots

For the next course I chopped up some shallot, carrot, and celeriac, seasoned it, and stuffed the chicken cavity with it before roasting it whole in the oven. I'm normally leery of purchasing meat out of a cooler from a relative stranger but that's only because I was raised in America.

Feather Ridge Chicken Stuffed with Celeriac, Carrots, and Shallots

I also stuffed the fronds from the celery root into the chicken for two reasons. Firstly, I thought it would lend an added celeriac flavor and, second, I like to say, "Fronds."


Cider Donut with Vanilla Ice Cream, Seckel Pears, and Cider Caramel Sauce

For the fifth course I served up the cider donuts with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, sliced Seckel pears, and a caramel sauce I made with the cider from Migliorelli Farm. The sauce was made from cider, brown sugar, a dash of vanilla, and a touch of butter.

Valley Shepherd Tewksbury Cheese

Sixth, and finally, I put out the Tewksbury cheese. Sadly the cheese is from New Jersey and not the gritty northern Massachusetts town with which I am familiar. This is a delicious cheese which is similar in style to Beaufort. If that means anything to you then you know more about cheese than I do. All I know is that it was very good.

Brooklyn Brewery Post Road Pumpkin Ale

To accompany the cheese and dessert I opened the first pumpkin-themed beer of the season, this Post Road Pumpkin Ale, also by Brooklyn Brewery. This, as expected, had a bit more of a caramel flavor and paired nicely, particularly with the cheese. It's hard to find an appropriate beer that pairs both with donuts and cheese but if you are looking for one, I'd recommend the Post Road Pumpkin Ale.

We don't usually have another course after dessert but since Jen loves this more than anything else I figured it was a suitable welcome home treat. Generally she ends up raiding the pickle jars in the fridge after dinner so this also serves a dual purpose of saving her the trouble. It also helps that I don't have to put away pickles that have been left on the counter.

Coming this fall: everyone wins.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bavarian Salmon Recipe*

Ah, German cooking. It's kind of a specialty of mine. If you're going to cook German you need to go with the most classic of German ingredients: salmon. I recall my days in Munich as a youngster. You can't even walk down the street without passing a dozen salmon restaurants and having street vendors passing you salmon on a stick. Plain and simple: salmon is synonymous with German cooking, even amongst those who use the word synonymous properly.

So it was that I set off to recreate the classic Bavarian specialty: pretzel-crusted salmon.

Bavarian Pretzel Crusted King Salmon

I took the leftover pretzel from last week (that I'd stashed in the freezer), broke it into chunks, and lightly toasted it in the oven. After it came out I crumbled it, tossed it with some SchoolHouse Kitchen SweetSmoothHot mustard and placed it on top of a King Salmon fillet and threw it in the oven.

After it came out I served it with some sliced raw onion and cornichons.

Orval Trappist Ale

And what Bavarian dinner would be complete without an appropriate beer? For tonight's dinner I decided to pair it with a bottle of Orval that Jen had kindly purchased for me the other night as a present.

My only regret is that Jen wasn't here tonight to experience this authentic Bavarian meal. It's as if our apartment had been transformed into a real Bavarian Biergarten!

Fruit and Mascarpone Strudel with Toasted Hazelnuts and Vanilla Ice Cream

For dessert I opted to heat up some of the leftover strudel from the other night. This dessert had two more popular things from Bavaria: Mascarpone and vanilla ice cream!

And that, my friends, is how you make an authentic Bavarian Oktoberfest dinner.

* Warning: 90% of the information in this blog entry is false. Happy Oktoberfest!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Oktoberfest, nay, Picklefest!

Last night I tried to keep with the Oktoberfest theme of the previous five days. Admittedly this theme has been very loose and has even included a linguine dish, however, I've been very loosely trying to hold it all together. Mostly with beer.

Sausage and Potato Stew with Rainbow Chard

I had a few leftover sausages so I cooked up some garlic, onion, and potato with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. After they'd cooked for 15-20 minutes I removed the sausage meat from the casing and cooked it down, finishing this stew off with some rainbow chard. This was kind of like German version of beef and potato stew I made from my favorite episode of Iron Chef.

Paulaner Oktoberfest Marzen

To accompany the stew I had this Oktoberfest Marzen from Paulaner, one of my favorite German breweries. I really liked this beer but -- and this might sound weird -- it sort of had a scent of wet dog toward the end. I know this is not a good characteristic in a beer, and I know it's odd that I'm saying this even though I liked it but there you have it. I've encountered this characteristic in beer before but I'm not sure if I'm just an oddball or if this is somehow normal with certain brews.

Plum and Pear Strudel with Mascarpone and Hazelnuts

Jen was really excited when she got home and saw this. She imagined it to be some sort of "cheesy bread" and couldn't wait to eat it. I asked her if she thought I'd make a giant cheesy bread as well as sausage stew. She confirmed that this was her belief. Unfortunately, for her, she was in for the world's greatest disappointment.

Plum and Pear Strudel with Mascarpone and Hazelnuts

What this actually was was a strudel I'd made with some of the Bartlett and Seckel pears as well as plums. I tossed them all together with the leftover Mascarpone and hazelnut stuffing from last week's poached pears, wrapped it in puff pastry, gave it a quick egg was, and baked it in the oven until you get what looks like (to Jen, anyway) a "cheesy bread."

The resulting dessert, served warm, was pretty tasty. More importantly it used up a healthy amount of the fruit which has been hiding out in our fridge for the last week to escape the wrath of the post-flood fruit flies.

Sanitizing Jars

Jen had intended to use last night to make pickles in anticipation of our upcoming annual Canadian Thanksgiving celebration. She had also intended to get home earlier than 9:30 PM. The result: a late night pickling extravaganza!

Nate Saves The Mustard Pickles

Highlight: When I saved a nearly ruined mustard mixture from lumpization, a word I'm trying to get into the Oxford English Dictionary.

Lowlight: I fell asleep around 1:00 AM and Jen stayed up until 2:00 AM to finish everything up.

Jen's Pickles

The end result was waking up this morning to an apartment full of pickles. Unfortunately this also comes with the stench of vinegar.

Come Canadian Thanksgiving we'll be glad we did this. Well, we'll be glad Jen did this. I wasn't much help sleeping in the other room.

Happy Oktoberfest, Everyone!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How to Make Traditional Oktoberfest Linguine

Some people have mentioned recently how I never give any recipes or, really, any technique behind what I make. Well, readers, you will sleep easy tonight when you see a shoddily crafted explanation of exactly how I made tonight's dinner!

Brie, Tomato, and Basil Mixture (Part 1)

This dinner was inspired by a friend of mine who said she saw it in a recipe book. I didnt't actually get a recipe but from how she explained it this is how I assumed it should be put together.

It started with cutting up some brie and leaving it at room temperature. Then I peeled, seeded, and rough chopped some tomatoes. (Click here to learn how to concasse a tomato). I threw those in with the brie, added some chopped basil, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Brie, Tomato, and Basil Mixture (Part 2)

I mixed this together and let it sit for an hour.

Linguine with Brie, Tomato, Garlic, and Basil

Well, actually it was only about 20 minutes because we were a bit hungry. After twenty minutes I cooked some fresh linguine and then added it to the marinated tomatoes and cheese while it was hot. The heat melted the brie and I served it straight away.

This was extremely easy to make and very tasty.

Kale with Salmon, Grilled Corn, Red Pepper, Sweet Potato, and Black Beans

Before I made the pasta I threw together a salad with all of the leftovers we had in the fridge including kale, the corn and sweet potato salad, and some of the king salmon.

See how I went out of order like that? This blog entry is exactly like Momento.

Saranac Oktoberfest

Since it's the second day of Oktoberfest I cracked open one of many Oktoberfest beers that I am trying for the first time this year. Tonight it was the offering from Saranac. For a lager it was pretty tasty. I'm not sure linguine with brie and tomatoes is the most traditional Oktoberfest food but readers of the blog should be familiar with my sloppily followed themes by now.

Pumpkin Bread with Vanilla Ice Cream

For dessert Jen made some pumpkin bread which we enjoyed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Ah, Oktoberfest. There's nothing better than observing the the traditions of a particular ethnic custom with the utmost authenticity.

Tomorrow: Traditional Oktoberfest Falafel!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fall Into Oktoberfest

Today was a lousy day. One of the worst ever. There were some highlights. For example, we participated in a cupcake tasting contest. However, we also had to drive to Rhode Island to pick up a borrowed car from a friend. This took up much of the day. We also had to go to Target which was terrible. Worst of all, our laundromat had been evicted which meant we had to find a new laundromat to drop off our clothes to since our laundry room was still recovering from flood damage.

This took us until about 8:00 PM where, beaten and defeated, we came to terms with the fact that we'd have to do something about dinner.

Oktoberfest Pretzel and Cheese Plate

After a brief debate about whether or not to eat some sketchy Japanese or Mexican food across the street form the laundromat we returned home. After all, I'd had plans to do something semi-German today as it was the first day of Oktoberfest.

Jen put together a plate of pretzel baguette, mustard, cornichons, and Cambozola, a German blue cheese.

Pork Bratwurst with Caramelized Onions

While Jen put this together I caramelized some onion and threw some pork bratwurst into the pan to sear it. And that's pretty much all I did for that course. It was very taxing.

Ayinger Oktober Fest-Marzen

I wanted to kick off Oktoberfest with a German beer so I picked this Oktober Fest-Marzen form Ayinger. I figured there wouldn't be a better beer to kick off the holiday -- or whatever the hell Oktoberfest is.

Vanilla Ice Cream with Bartlett Pears and Allagash Tripel Caramel Sauce

For dessert I made vanilla ice cream with chopped up Bartlett pears and I drizzled some of the leftover pear poaching liquid I'd made. I didn't really have time to make anything real so I figured this would be the most appropriate Oktoberfest dessert seeing as how it contained beer.

Perhaps I'll have time to actually draw some real inspiration and make something vaguely authentic later on in this event. Event? Celebration?

Well, I guess I have until October 3rd to figure this all out.

Friday, September 16, 2011

King of Pears

It's only been a few days but the fruit flies have already taken a great deal of interest in the immense amount of fruit we have. Having to act fast I jammed most of them into the fridge and decided to begin utilizing them as quickly as possible.

Red Clapp and Bartlett Pear Salad with Fourme d'Ambert, Toasted Hazelnuts, and Kale

I sliced up a Red Clapp pear and a Bartlett pear and threw them on top of some kale with Fourme d'Ambert cheese and toasted hazelnuts. Fourme d'Ambert has quickly gone from an unknown cheese to my favorite cheese ever.

Rogue XS Imperial Red Ale

To pair with the salad I poured this tiny bottle of Red Imperial Ale from Rogue Ales. I wasn't quite sure what to make of this beer. The bottle had loads of information on it:

12 Ingredients:
Malts: Great Western Harrington, Klages, Hugh Baird Crystal, Black, Munich, Chocolate and rolled oats.
Hops: Willamette, Cascade and Chinook.
Yeast & Water: Rogue's Pacman Yeast & Free Range Coastal Water.

19.4º PLATO
58 IBU
76 AA
47º Lovibond

Most of that makes little or no sense to me. I actually know what PLATO and IBU are. I've heard of some of the hops varietals and yeast strains, but most of that is a bunch of nonsensical gibberish that they could be making up completely and I'd be none the wiser. This bottle was loaded with information that I didn't really need to know but it was missing one vital piece of information that I did need to know: alcohol content!

How does a beer like this not let you know that? It doesn't even say on their website what the ABV is for this beer. I am guessing it's around 9% only by reading through user reviews on Beer Advocate. I am also guessing this based on how I feel after drinking a mere seven ounces of this beverage.

Pan Roasted Alaskan King Salmon with Grilled Corn and Sweet Potato Salad

For tonight's dinner I got a killer deal on King Alaskan Salmon. I seasoned up a piece of salmon with salt and pepper then seared it a pan and threw it in the oven for a few minutes. I also made a salad out of grilled corn, boiled sweet potato, black beans, roasted red peppers, cider vinegar, cayenne pepper, salt, and olive oil.

King Salmon, it turns out, is pretty good. I'm not sure if it's called 'King' because it's really large or because it's really good and, apparently, I'm too lazy to Google it. Maybe it's because it's really expensive.

Whatever the case, I'm looking forward to the next time I find it on sale.

Because I'm really cheap.