Saturday, March 3, 2018

Hot Roast Beef. (Bella Napoli, Latham)

Hot roast beef sandwiches are a thing around here. Well, not right now because it's Lent and fish fry is going strong. To tell you the truth hot roast beef is nowhere near as big of a deal as it once was, I basically grew up at Mike's NEBA. But you still come across the beef often. Especially at establishments that have been around for a minute.

I was at Bella Napoli in Latham this morning after a donut for my son (and a Radio Bar for myself...) when I noticed Hot Roast Beef on the menu board. I've grabbed an egg-n-cheese there before, but never took a hard look at the sandwich selections. It was a bit early in the day... but I'm not the guy to pass up a "generous & juicy" portion of beef.

The first time I get something I like to just order it and see how it comes. When you order the roast beef at Bella Napoli you get meat on a sesame roll. Nothing else. Horsey sauce is sort of obligatory on most hot roast beef/NEBAs but in this case you would have to ask for it.

I went at the bread and beef without further adulteration. You know what? It's damn good like that. Soft, butter toasted sesame roll with moist, warm beef. A juicy, soft, and sloppy handful of sandwich. It doesn't really need anything else. It's sort of an American trope that every last thing needs to have something else on it. Like a sandwich isn't a sandwich without cheese, veg, and sauce.

Anyhow, it was good.

Radio Bars are also good.

If you don't know, a radio bar is chocolate sponge with a blob of cream on top enrobed in chocolate.

They are probably not the best thing at Bella Napoli, but they are my favorite. Just noticed today that they make a big ring cake version of the radio bar! They've probably always had it, but like the beef I only noticed it today.

Bella Napoli has a lot of detail to take in. My favorite detail? The string hanging from the ceiling they use to tie off the boxes.

A Watervliet Story in Two Pictures (Schuyler Bakery)

Posted without comment...

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Sloppy David.

Dave's guilty pleasure of the minute? I take a Stewart's Deli Dog bun and I slop it full of meat sauce sans hot dog. I have been calling this a "Sloppy David" and it is very, very good.

I will only do this at locations with the steamers (you know how I feel about rollers...). A warm steamy bun is essential in a well put together Sloppy David.

Here are the steps; 1) Take a bun out of the steamer. 2) Slop it full of meat sauce. 3) Put it back in the foil and drive it home.

The third step is essential. The meat sauce sort of melds with the bun and it becomes a delicious, floppy mess.

There you have it folks. The Sloppy David.

I don't really want to create some corny "secret menu" for Stewart's, but I am very proud of myself for having hatched this treat.

It is not the first time I have adulterated Stewart's hot dogs. This "Capital Region Style Mac and Cheese Ditch Deli Dog" was really good and I should make that mac cheese with Charlie's meat sauce in it again soon...

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Rillettes de Dave.

I've been on a pork rillettes kick ever since I got hold of some of the Henaff canned stuff . There really aren't many options locally for fresh rillettes (a shame)... As is so often the case I was left to my own devices.

I didn't like any of the English language recipes I came across online. None of them seemed very right to me. A lot of extraneous spices and ingredients that didn't seem very traditional. So I was left to muddle through a bunch of French language recipes and youtube videos. After a fair amount of google translate I gleaned enough good tips to put together my own recipe.

Here is what I went with-

400 grams pork shoulder, cleaned very well of nasty bits.
300 grams salt pork belly
100 grams fatback
100 grams lard
1 carrot
1 onion
1 onion brulee
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoonish thyme
salt and pepper

The salt pork is a bit of an improvisation on my part. Many French recipes use various cuts of "demi-sel" pork, but generally fresh belly is used. I'm actually making some demi-sel pork shoulder as we speak. I'm something of a pork-nerd.

Anyhow, I like the way onions brulee smell... I zapped a split onion on high heat in cast iron with foil for about 10 minutes.

The fatback and salt pork I sliced fairly thin and threw in with everything else in a big enamelware pot. This cooked down over low heat for about 4 hours.

Look at all that melted fat, lard, and pork juice...

I carefully fished out all of the meat chunks (you don't want any of the veg matter) and threw it in my stand mixer. I beat it with the cake paddle for a couple minutes drizzling in about 1/3 cup of the cooking liquid as it went. I corrected the seasoning, and voila!

These came out perfect. Soft, spreadable, and unctuous. I like the stuff spread on crispbread.

Pork rillettes are great. If you aren't a big fan of liver pates, then these are approachable and a good entry-level intro to the world of spreadable meat.

Myself, I celebrate spreadable meat in all of its forms. I happened to be up in Latham yesterday and I swung by Dnipro and snagged all of these little canned beauties.

Once I'm done cramming the rillettes in my mouths I will start on these.

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Cold Cuts Less Traveled: P&P Loaf.

The "Loaf" family of cold cuts has always fascinated me. Not enough to have ever purchased or eaten any, more of a fascination from afar... The other day (at Hannafords) the Russer P&P loaf caught my eye and I was in the right mood to give it a whirl. I got about a half pound for 2.72 American.

I will confess that I did not know what either of the 'P's in the loaf stood for until I got the package.

I looked up the ingredients and they were pretty hot dog or bologna-esque with the addition of pickle relish and pimientos. This is a no frills loaf.

Look at the stuff! It is colorful and reminds me of fruit cake a little. It had a sweet and vinegary reek, but not in a particularly offensive way.

I think a cold cut loaf needs a sturdy vehicle to shine. I went with some of my seedy German/Scandinavian style bread.

I showed my son the stuff and tried to entice him to have a bite. I told him it was "pickle meat" (he loves pickles). He looked at me and made barfing noises.

I was undeterred. For my first foray into deli case loaf-cuts I found myself feeling pretty good about the situation. I like colorful food.

Well, I'm going to chalk this one up as a miss. I thought this would be one of those gross old timey' foods that I would be a fan of. Nope. It was vaguely chemical in flavor with a huge hit of sweet pickle relish. I hate sweet pickle relish. Why would you go and screw up perfectly good bologna with sweet pickle relish?

Anyhow, I think the Hannafords cold cut people think I'm weird. I got a half pound of Lebanon bologna and some Cooper Sharp with the P&P loaf. I'm pretty sure no one else orders any of these as the cold cut person had to unwrap all three. There was some stinkeye.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Guptill's. Latham, NY.

Crappy iPhone pictures are all you get here. I have a sinking feeling that Guptill's might soon be added to the list of classic Capital Region institutions fading into the past... Maybe I'm wrong.

Youth in Action! "There's no such thing as a bad boy or girl."

Guinness Book. Big time.

A sentiment so nice I post it twice.
Guptill's, like its urinals, is an American standard.

There is a theme of positivity at Guptill's...

I like these paintings a lot.

A friendly arena. 

Damn straight no profanity, kids everywhere...

Skate for health.

The code of the skater.

If you are a connoisseur or old timey' joints around here, you will know that these creepy, dark nature paintings are a stock item. 

No tops at the skate-up concession? Makes sense.

Fake news.

No fast skating. With an appearance from darling Giblet (on the left).
The snack bar.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Sour Seedy Bread.

Maybe my tastebuds are dying as I age... Because in recent years I have no patience for bland food, even bread.

I've been refining my recipe for a seedy sourdough loaf. Something to akin to Mestemacher (for a commercial example). I've tried several internet recipes, most have been lacking in one way or the other so I have been tinkering.

This is what I've been going with.

200g cracked red wheat berries, I have a hand-op grain mill. But I suppose a coffee grinder might work. The grains should be cracked, but not pulverized. Some whole ones in there are good.
200g cracked white wheat berries
100g sunflower seeds
300g KA bread flour
150g rye flour
200g syrup, I mix blackstrap molasses with light corn syrup to simulate "sirap"
Tablespoon of salt (more or less to your taste)
500g water/sour dough starter. I mix about half cup of starter with enough water to make 500g. Many recipes use buttermilk and yeast. I don't like the cheesy quality this gives the bread, I like it better with sour dough starter.

I stir all ingredients in my mixer bowl (should be very wet, but not too wet. Might need a bit more flour, might need a little more water) then mix with the paddle, not hook, for 8 minutes. The dough sits covered at room temp for 48 hours. The long ferment is essential for both the sour flavor of the bread and for hydrating the cracked wheat berries. You could probably get away with 24 hours but you might end up with some crunchy berries. Laugh at your wife as she walks around saying, "what's that sour smell?" for a couple of days.

After the rise dump the dough into a greased pan and smooth the top. I have found that one of these pans really does make a difference. I like something about the square shape you end up with (don't need the top for the bake). Let it rise in the pan until the dough is just peaking above the top.

The bread bakes at 340 for about 90 minutes. As soon as the bread can be removed from the pan, put it into a plastic bag and tie. Let it cool over night in the bag. This softens the crust and makes it much easier to slice. This is counterintuitive to most bread bakers but you really don't want a crusty crust in this style of bread.

Now, I'm sure you could manage slicing the loaf with a bread knife. But I use a meat slicer (yeah, I know. I have too much crap). A thin slice is what you want.

The best thing about this seedy sort of bread is that it keeps well and can be frozen with decent results. I vac pack it in little portions. You get a week or two in the fridge before it gets a bit dry.

There you have it. An aggressively sour bread perfect for supporting all manner of savory toppings. I'm a big fan of a toasted slice sopping with marmalade. Also great for things like teewurst or the Braunschweiger mettwurst I made the other week.

This is a flexible recipe, you can use punkin seeds or rye berries or whatever as long as you stay near the proportions I've listed above. It's a good bread, you should try it.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Liquid Smoke is Fine. Braunschweiger Mettwurst.

Rohwurst is life. Hands down one of my favorite foods. The teewurst from Rolf's Pork Store is a woefully underrated local treasure and I eat it more often then I should. I've made teewurst in the home several times with pretty decent results. A couple weeks ago a craving for tangy fermented meat paste struck and I decided to proceed with one of my (recently infrequent) sausage making projects.

Braunschweiger Mettwurst is a fairly approachable recipe so I decided to tinker with this recipe a bit. BM is a coarse ground beef/pork/bacon rohwurst that you eat much in the same manner as teewurst. I used 350grams lean beef, 350grams pork butt, and 300grams of Oscar's Smokehouse back bacon for the meat.

As per usual during life in Upstate New York, the disgustingly cold weekend weather forcast deterred my cold smoking plans. So on the fly I threw some hickory liquid smoke into the meat paste.

Here is my point. I've been making sausage/charcuterie for more than a decade now. I'm here to tell you that a quality liquid smoke is a perfectly adequate alternative to smoking in about 90% of sausage formulations. I'm a masochist in regards to processes for many things, but I've come around to not feeling guilty about using liquid smoke when practical.

Anyhow, I hung the chub to ferment for a couple days. Even though I took measures to keep the humidity up, the casing got a little dry (thanks again New York weather).

Perfectly fine way to mitigate this in homemade sausage (to include dry-cured stuff) is to vac-bag it and throw it in the fridge for a while. I've even frozen then thawed stuff like sopressata with good results.

The mettwurst came out delicious. Good pink hue and super tangy from the Bactoferm culture. Happened to have some good homemade sourdough rye on hand.

And a pot of Dusseldorf mustard...

Although the mettwurst is great on its own, it is a food I use as an excuse to consume excessive amounts of mustard. I like mustard.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

What I'm Up To...

I have done away with the past 10 years or so worth of ramblings on the food and culture of Upstate New York. What do we get instead? A vanity weblog. I really only miss the diary function of my posts. I like to look back and see what I was up to.

So, here are some things I am up to on this frigid New Years Eve-day...

I'm very excited that many of the cuttings I took some months ago have taken root and are otherwise showing life. Here is a Chicago fig. This variety supposedly can survive our frigid winters, but I'm not so sure... I have one in a large container that I've wheeled into the shed. We shall see.

Here is a gooseberry. I've a couple gooseberries in the garden that I've been wrestling with for a couple years now. What a nasty, unruly, thorny sort of bush. I've not yet had much fruit from them, but have hopes for the coming season.

Here is a currant. I can't remember if it's red or black... I've got 6 nice big red currants (and 1 little black currant) along my fence. One of the few bushes the deer leave alone by the way. Last year was the first time I've had enough fruit to bother with. Hoping to do a jelly or a currant wine this coming year.

Besides the above, I've elderberry, hops, logan berry, and numerous other twigs and roots going that I have not labeled and have completely forgotten what they are... I have a disorganized mind.

I've got a nice half-ham curing in a bucket.

I hoped to smoke it this weekend but it is miserable cold out... Not sure what I'm going to do. Might just have to do a boiled sort of ham. The best laid ham-plans aft gang agley.

I've got a couple cheese wheels aging. This one is a Monterey Jack that I dried a little than vac-sealed. It's aging in my chilly basement for a month or two.

I'm honing my cheese skills as I've obtained a full sized fridge that I'm going to mod out into a cheese cave. Only problem is I've no idea how I'm going to get it from the garage to the basement... I will probably have to hire a moving company to get the damn thing through the Bilco doors and down the stairs.

I've got this "fruit cake" aging in a tin. It is a pecan/hazlenut/walnut/almond cake with a ton of chopped dates. None of the fluorescent candied fruits, I'm going for rustic. I've soaked in some apple brandy and wrapped in a brandy soaked cheese cloth. Going to try to age it until next year.

Think that is about it.

It is helpful to me to have somewhere to jot down the details of the various projects/experiments I am always up to. I often forget what I've done after I've done things. I made this one cheese a while back using my own recipe and it came out very good. But now I've forgotten the recipe... So I'm going to put that sort of thing here.
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