Sunday, September 29, 2013

Grilled Headcheesus.


So I have a new favorite sandwich. I think it has even passed the salami n' butter as the favored member of my personal sandwich pantheon. It is pretty simple to boot.

You start with a lovely slice or two of Rolf's Pork Store's (Lexington Ave, Albany) spicy headcheese. If you aren't familiar, headcheese is made of all sorts of porky bits spiced and held together in a gelatinous suspension.


For the bread-y hand to mouth delivery vehicle you want to use something flavorful. I am a fan of Heidelberg's (Herkimer, NY) Jewish Rye.



 You need a little serious mustard too. I used some Lowensenf Extra which is also available at Rolf's.


You can stop there and have a delicious sandwich experience. But I thought it might be fun to do a bit of a play on the grilled cheese sandwich with headcheese. I am a man of limited imagination and a simple sense of humor so this thought amused me.

I fried the sandwich lightly in a bit of butter. As always, I was hoping to have a divine light shine onto my sandwich making activities resulting in a heavenly "Grilled Cheesus." A "Grilled Headcheesus" if you will. But I guess I would have to buy an actual Grilled Cheesus maker (yes, this is a thing) to have it happen with any sort of predictable probability.


Anyhow, the gelatin in the spicy headcheese melts into the bread leaving delicious and warm porky bits. The rye, spicy headcheese, and mustard are delightful together. This is a sandwich built to be eaten alongside a nice cold beer. The flavors may be a bit strong for your sandwich amateur... but any seasoned sandwich connoisseur will be tickled pink.

I thoroughly endorse both this sandwich and Rolf's spicy headcheese. It is only like 6 or 7 bucks a pound too.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Utica Greens With My Homegrown Escarole. So Technically -- Delmar Greens in the Style of the Uticans.


I planted quite a lot of escarole this year. Escarole is a good late season thing to grow because it tolerates the cold fairly well. More importantly, escarole is delicious and is used in one of my favorite Central NY dishes -- Utica Greens. I posted a sort of bastardized version of the recipe some time ago (you can read it here). But I thought this would be a good opportunity to go over a (sort of) more traditional version of the dish. I am fond of doing "reloaded" versions of Utica dishes for some reason and you can see my v2.0 of Chicken Riggies here.

We start with our escarole, I used 4 small/young heads this time. I like to remove the largest stalks as I enjoy a fully tender version of Utica Greens. Pursuant to this I boil the chopped greens in plenty of water to ensure their tenderness. About 5 minutes is sufficient.


Utica Greens tend to be a bit spicy. I believe Italian long hot peppers are the traditional source of heat but in this case I went with a couple of the lacto-fermented pickled cherry peppers that I also grew in my garden. I used 1 green and 1 red chopped fine.


Also chop up 4 or 5 slices of cheap prosciutto and huck it into a pan with the peppers and a generous amount of olive oil. Sweat that out for a bit then throw in a hearty amount of chopped garlic.


Toss the wilted escarole to make sure you get it all oily and incorporated with the prosciutto, peppers, and garlic. After sautéing for a minute or two add approximately 1 cup of good flavorful chicken stock.


When the liquid comes to a simmer add a handful or so of whatever hard Italian grating cheese you have on hand and enough breadcrumbs to absorb the lion's share of the liquid. You will be left with a fairly unattractive and gloopy looking substance.


Get out your best piece of CorningWare and spread your greens paste into a nice flat layer. Top with additional bread crumbs/cheese and run under a broiler until browned.


Not the prettiest of dishes but I find it to be absolutely delicious in a comforting/down-homey sort of way. My favorite way to take my Utica Greens is on top of a chicken cutlet sandwich with an additional layer of provolone or mozzarella. You just can't beat that with a stick. Utica Greens are equally good on their own as a side dish if that suits your pleasure. Another pro-tip -- mix in some roasted potatoes. I learned that one from Mazzaferro's in Rome.

There you have it. Utica Greens -- a classic. Next on my list of ways to use up the large amount of escarole I have on hand -- Greens and Beans. Another classic. Escarole is great, I encourage you to grow it by the ton.

Escarole!


Just picked a bunch of escarole from my garden. That is all.

Who Wants to Buy a Pair of "Cleveland Steamers" From the Great State of NY?


This is too good to be true. I was perusing the New York State Office of General Services Ebay store when I came upon a bit of comedic gold. They are selling two "Cleveland Stainless Steel Steam Ovens..." Did you get that folks? They are selling "Cleveland Steamers." Go ahead and google that for yourself (not at work or in front of children). It is a delightful bit of obscenity.

Anyhow, steam ovens are vaguely food related so I thought I might share that you may spend your day laughing at the thought of NYS OGS peddling Cleveland Steamers.

By the way, I am tempted to bid. They are going for like 10 bucks and a steam oven might come in handy some day (don't know about two though).

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

French Fry Burger, For Science!


Could I simply drive by a Burger King with a big ol' sign hawking a "French Fry Burger" without stopping in to try one? No, no I could not. When it comes to fast food I am not merely Mr. Dave... I am Dr. Dave, professor of fast food studies. I really can't help myself and feel compelled to sample all of the strange and horrible novelty items hawked by our age's multitude of fast food vendors.

Oh yes, by the way -- check out my hip square pictures... I am very trendy and up to the minute with my iOS7 camera options.

Seriously Burger King? "French Fry Burger?" Are we even trying anymore? Now don't get me wrong, I am sort of a fan of crispy potatoes in sammitches. Egg n' cheese w/home fries? Yes please. Turkey on whole wheat with a few wrinkly Lays? Where do I sign up... But "French Fy Burger?" I don't know about all of that. But I am willing to try it. For science!


It is on the dollar menu so at least is only a dollar. Unwrapping my prize I noticed that the beef patty was not immediately apparent. For a minute I thought that I really may have been given a "french fry burger." But I opened up that bad boy and...


That is flippin' disgusting right there. I don't understand the BK thought process -- "Hrmmm, let's see... How about we take some marginally crisp French fries, squirt ketchup on them, slather them with mayonnaise, slap on some limp, wet, nasty iceberg lettuce, put it all on an anemic burger patty, and then sandwich it between two warm buns and wrap it in wax paper to steam? It will be a textural sensation!"...

Seriously. I can see the appeal of crispy fries on top of a burger -- but the "French Fry Burger" is so heinously executed as to defy imagination. 4 limp, wet, soggy fries on a ketchup/mayo/lettuce burger is vile. Why don't they just give you 4 fries in a wee bag and tell you to put them on a burger? That would make more sense I guess. And why can't it just be the normal ketchup/mustard/pickle/onion sort of burger?

Furthermore, what the hell is BK's obsession with mayo? Seemingly every sandwich-y type thing on their menu includes mayo. As an avowed mayonnaise hater this frankly puts me off my lunch. I can think of nothing nastier in this world than a hearty schmear of cheap mayo with warm iceberg lettuce swimming in it. Barf. Blech. Barf.

In any event, I had to push as much of the lettuce and mayo off as I could to even attempt a bite without retching.



I took one bite and that is all she wrote. I pretty much only eat fast food during these blog-post experiment sort of things. So if I am going to punish my GI tract with the junk I want it to be, at the very least, an interesting experience. None of that here. Bland, soggy, flavorless garbage. The BK "French Fry Burger" is absolute garbage. Rarely do I take such a strong stance on an item, but this is just a sub par fast food novelty concept. Boo on you King of Burgers! Shame on your burger kingdom!

Once again, I suffered that you might not have to. Do not get a "French Fry Burger." It is nasty.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Piss Beers of Upstate New York: Part 5 1/2, Stewart's Mountain Brew Ice Version 2.0


Piss Beers, Part 1 - Genny Lager
Piss Beers, Part 2 - Uncle Charlie (Utica Club)
Piss Beers, Part 3 - Genny Bock
Piss Beers, Part 4 - 12 Horse Ale
Piss Beers, Part 5 - Stewart's Mountain Brew Ice

So Stewart's went done and switched up their Mountain Brew Ice line... Right when I was getting comfortable with the stuff. Luckily I saved a can of Mountain Brew Beer Ice Version 1.0! My wife laughed at me but I know that most good things in this life are fleeting.

Firstly, they changed the can. Big mistake in my opinion as I loved the stark beauty of the original. With the cheesy snow capped calligraphy on the plain silver can it was a veritable work of art. Now we are left with something that looks like a cut-rate imitation of a Labatt Blue can. Boo, boo I say!

Secondly, they moved production outside the borders of fair New York. Mountain Brew is now produced by Associated Brewing Company out of La Crosse, WI. There are probably sound financial decisions behind this and I get that.

Thirdly, you get an extra .4% ABV! I can't complain about that. Nothing better than getting some drunk off a 3 dollar sixer of Stewart's beer... That is, except for getting some drunker off the reissued 5.9% ABV version.


In any event, there are some differences in flavor. I found Version 1.0 to be a bit nasty, but in a palatable sort of way. Version 2.0 is a bit worse. It starts out insipidly sweet and finishes with an odd bitter taste. I found it to have no detectable hops. Also, don't pour it out of the can as it seems to go flat within seconds. But you know what?, as I said before -- this is a beer that is purpose built to be swilled ice cold out of the can after being fished out of some watery ice in a big ol' lunch box cooler.

Will I still buy the stuff? Yes. Am I particularly happy about the change? Nope, I actually sort of liked Version 1.0. But who are we kidding here? It is a 2.99$ six pack!

I like to buy a sixer of the stuff and a deli dog and pretend it's mother flippin' 1967 or some such. Hot dog with fixins' and a sixer for less than a 5 spot? Sign me up...

As I finished writing this I sipped the ass of the pint glass of the Version 2.0. -- Gym socks folks, gym socks...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"Wednsday" Soup


Mmmm... I want me a big ol' bowl of "Wednsday" soup. Luckily Stewart's has that sorted out for me. I wonder if they use fresh "Wednsday" in their soup...

Appleknocker Knocking Apples (Homemade Cider)

There is no prettier sight.

I said the following on the tweeters the other day-




I stand by this statement. The past few days have been absolutely perfect examples of early fall weather in New York. As it was Mr. Dave v4.0's second b-day we decided to do a bit of family apple picking over at Indian Ladder Farms. Indian Ladder is not my ancestral apple orchard (that would be Altamont Orchards) but I have adopted it wholeheartedly.

I was pleasantly surprised by young Giblet's
apple picking acumen. Only the best. 

We parked the truck in the empty car corrals (it was Monday morning so the place was a ghost town) and paid our 16 dollars for a half-bushel. The whole "apple picking experience" is a bit more commercialized then I remember as a child. It is a sort of amusement park version of the affair if you will. But I have been trying to stop railing against these sorts of changes as I often appear as a lunatic at the beach shouting at the tide coming in. We had a grand time a-pickin'. What a good time to go! We were basically alone and got to run through the rows like maniacs.

Afterwards, (of course) we went inside for some cider donuts and whatnot. I was pleased when the kind lady serving the donuts whispered with no small amount of pride, "they're still so warm!" when I ordered my half-dozen. 

They had a plate of small sample donuts out to entice those who are somehow uninitiated into the glories of the genre. Mr. Dave Jr. issued fourth a torrent of, "Me, Me, Mes" upon sighting the pile of mini-donuts. Remembering that this was (I think) the first occasion on which my young man might sample a cider donut I snapped a picture. This is now one of my favorite pictures (even if it is a bit blurry).

I do believe this is lil' David's 1st cider donut.
We had a couple donuts immediately outside as we all know cider donuts have a small window of sublime until they degrade into merely very good. These were pretty perfect. Warm with the crumb coalescing between your teeth before ending between your chompers with a bit of chew as the crusts meet and then the pleasant grit of sugar... Oh yes. Yes, yes.

As an aside, remember last year when I created the "Cider Slider" (burger on a cider donut)? I think Indian Ladder even seized on the idea and served a breakfast sandwich version afterwards... I still stand by the cider donut as a sandwich vehicle. I know this is a bit food-fabulist and cliche in light of the "Luther Burger" and all of that, but I have simplified the concept a bit. Take a warm cider donunt, slice it, and insert a few slices of good bacon. That is the rub right there. It is not a foreign concept when you think about it. Pork/Apples, Sweet/Savory, and Soft/Crunchy are all tasty standards. Give it a whirl, Mr. Dave wouldn't lead you astray.
Now isn't that a sight?
In any event, it was a very good time. But what to do with all the apples? As an avowed Appleknocker and an Upstate NY fellar born and bred I feel that I have been remiss in experimenting with our apples. So I decided to try to celebrate the apple with a tentative poke at home cider production with an eye at making it some sort of family tradition. I.e., actually purchase some equipment, find a way to get lots of apples cheaply, invite friends over for a fall "cidering." But first, I wanted to see what I could do with the tools I had on hand.

They are like nature's scented candle!

A couple tart 'uns for a bit of acid.
To grind the apples I used my meat grinder. This actually turned out to be a perfectly acceptable manner of dealing with the small amount of apples I dedicated to this experiment (5 pounds).


I had to quarter the apples to get them to fit down the shoot. Everything goes in- pips, stems, and skins.
Looks like a flock of fluttering butterbugs, doesn't it?
And there you have the juicy pulp. Oxidation occurs almost immediately.


I thought using my cheese press might work to squish all the juice out. This turned out to not be an ideal method.


Most of the juice didn't come out of the spout, it seeped through the air lock thingy on the follower of the press. No matter, I just poured it out. If I make a small batch like this again and haven't purchased/constructed an apple press yet, I would just put the stuff in cheese cloth/bag and press it with weights in a colander.


In any event, I was left with nigh a half-gallon of a decidedly cider-y substance at the end of it all! I am chalking this up as a success.

I brought the stuff up to 160 for 10 seconds as a precaution. I know pasteurizing cider from very fresh apples that have been washed and aren't field apples is not absolutely necessary, but this is my first go. I will have to read up on the issue.


There you have it. Cider. Delicious cider handmade from apples my family picked from the orchard down the way... I don't think it gets much better than that.


I didn't stop there though. I had some spare brewing yeast around so I cooled the stuff off, pitched the yeast, and popped on an airlock.


It will be a while, but I will be sure to update you on the resulting hard cider. Hopefully it is good.

Anyway, it is a glorious time of year. Make sure you get out and enjoy some crisp fall air. It is good for your lungs and you might catch a whiff of someones wood burning stove which should make you smile a little.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Sherbet, Sure-Bet, Sherbert.


Ahh, Stewart's. Only in your freezer case could I find 3 spellings of sherbet adjacent one another...

The Breakfast of Royalty


So I was driving home from a wedding in Saratoga the other day and was more than a little hungover. The wife, my merry (not so merry really..) band of compatriots, and I decided that greasy breakfast might be just the thing. We originally tried to break our fast in Saratoga proper but there was some sort of race going on and the whole downtown was closed off. Shaking my fist at the runners and their healthy activities we headed for the Northway southbound as someone had suggested the Halfmoon Diner in CP.


It didn't take me much time to make my breakfast decision. I am no especial fan of Eggs Benedict but they advertised it as, "The Breakfast of Royalty." Of course I wanted to breakfast like the royals, who wouldn't? I ordered it with a side of bacon.


When "THE BREAKFAST OF ROYALTY" arrived I took note that the poached eggs with their schmear of hollandaise looked like conjunctivitis ridden eyes. The only thing better than a royal breakfast is a smiley face breakfast so I added a bacon smile to complete the effect. I picked up my plate and made Mr. Conjunctivitis (that's what I named him) talk to one of my tablemates. This seemed to illicit some laughter from an adjacent booth. I was a bit red faced at my display of hungover antics, but no matter. The best of us are laid low by excessive drink.


The breakfast was quite the standard diner breakfast version of Eggs Benedict. That is to say, completely unremarkable apart from the visual appeal of smiley breakfast.

A couple more things. The wife and I did not have any cash at the ready. The darling wife tells me to go to the ATM she thought she walked by upon entering the diner. The below object is that which my wife believed to be an ATM. I stood in front of "Tractor Time" for more than a few seconds giggling at the lovely lady's wine addled brain's delusion.


I always perform a close inspection of local diner placemats. There is more often than not some sort of local flavor to brighten your day (a fairly obscene pun used by a dog groomer for instance). My friend happened to pick up on this one.


"Scatbooks" for an email address, eh?... Maybe they should have googled that first. But not on image search because that might be scarring...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

MeatButterfly


I had a bit of a get together this past Saturday. It went over swimmingly (started as a BBQ, morphed into a spontaneous Ice Cream Social, and then inexplicably ended up as a pizza party...), but that is another story.

I took a break from chowing my own homemade teawurst (beefwurst actually) and picked up a couple chubs of Rolf's Pork Store teawurst to serve to my compatriots to whet their appetites. As we all know teawurst is best described as a delicious spreadable "meat butter." I was a bit rushed so I just threw the chub on a plate with a couple piles of rye bread and a jar of Lowensenf extra.

It occurred to me afterwards that the plate ended up looking like a butterfly (teawurst chub body with bread wings) bumping its head into jar of mustard. I had inadvertently created a beautiful "MeatButterfly!" In any event, I think I will exploit this plating style in a more refined manner at my next gathering as I think it is sort of neat.

So your word for the day is - MeatButterfly.
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