Monday, October 19, 2009

road trip! madison, wi

columbus day weekend brian and i hit the road to visit jenn and mark, who left cincinnati back in june for the wilds of wisconsin. when we were about two hours away, jenn sent a text which read, "head's up - it's not snowing exactly. just some flurries". snow before halloween? i didn't know we were visiting the arctic.

jenn and mark live off fish hatchery road. i saw no fish hatchery, but i assume the road's namesake had to be somewhere nearby. what a strange choice to name a thoroughfare. to my knowledge, in cincinnati there is no "slaughterhouse avenue" or "soap suds court".

jenn and mark have already been working on establishing themselves as regulars at the great dane pub. they have a fantastic beer list, which great names like "crop circle wheat". we all tried their seasonal brew "ride the dragon". it's a heavy-hitter with 10% alcohol, so the pub actually has a limit of 2 per customer. i'm not very good at describing beer, but to me, it was light with an herby flavor, kind of like twisted thistle.

apps consisted of pretzels with mustard and fried cheese curds (it's wisconsin, after all). the cranberry horseradish mustard was absolutely to die for. pungent - stings the nostrils. the curds were what you would expect. kind of tough to screw up fried cheese.

jenn and i each ordered a sandwich and split them. one was a buffalo burger topped with cheese from a local farm and the other was the "gourmet" grilled cheese (sensing the theme?) with smoked gouda and sharp cheddar, pesto, tomato, and bacon. everything was as good as it sounds. the accompanying sides were plantains and hot applesauce. the applesauce was more apple and less sauce. it belonged on top of a potato pancake.

Great Dane Pub & Brewing on Urbanspoon

the rest of the time we just hung out. sunday night we cooked a delicious dinner of marinated pork kebabs (see marinade recipe here), eggplant salad, and lemon-lime tart.

the eggplant was grilled, then topped with goat cheese, basil, mint, and pine nuts. the finishing touch was a light drizzle of balsamic vinegar. in retrospect, i probably could have lived without the inclusion of the mint.

the lemon-lime tart recipe came from luscious lemon desserts. at the last minute we decided to add the whipped cream. it was a good decision. the tart was very tart. our drink of choice for the day was sparkling wine, simply limeade, and a splash of rose's pomegranate infusion.

i'm so jealous of their kitchen! you can't see it in this photo, but they have a double oven, too.

it was really a fantastic trip. we plan on returning after the spring thaw and seeing more of the city.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

guest post: sourdough pancakes

i have at least five posts simmering on the back burner. i am way behind. i've been wanting to write about my friend elisa's sourdough pancakes for about a month cause they are amazing. so i asked her to write about them for me.

background: i was introduced to these pancakes through our running/breakfast club. in general, i do not really care for sweet breakfast food, so these pancakes are really right up my alley. they have a more complex and distinct flavor than regular pancakes. by trade, elisa is a chemist and has this delightful hobby of baking, which i frequently benefit from.

Adapted From Breads from the La Brea Bakery

510 g (18 oz) sourdough starter
2 T. vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder

Preheat griddle to 375F. Whisk starter to homogenize. Whisk in oil and eggs. Sprinkle dry ingredients on top and whisk thoroughly. Or, just whisk all 6 ingredients together… I’m always paranoid the leavening will get clumpy. Cook on one side until slightly dry around the edges and bubbles form, flip. Also, I find I don’t need to grease a non-stick surface.

My starter was created using the method described in Breads from the La Brea Bakery by Nancy Silverton. Hers is a complex process, but her attention to detail and weight measurements appealed to chemist brain. I’ve also made her basic bread recipe with great results. However, I decided not to use her method for maintenance. I would have gone poor from purchasing flour and crazy from the three times a day feedings.

So then, both Joe Pastry and Sourdough Home are good resources for making and maintaining. For me*, I leave my starter in the fridge (feeding it once a week) when I’m not using it regularly, and if I am keeping it at room temp, I feed it twice a day. Feedings consist of equal weights of water (softened, filtered “city” water, because that’s what comes out of the tap) and Gold Medal bread flour, with amounts ranging on just enough for maintenance to whatever I need to add to build it up for making bread or pancakes. And contrary to what you might think, a starter is actually pretty easy to take care of and use. Just don’t completely forget about them, kinda like a house plant.

*Some sourdough purists out there might look at what I do and want to ban me from the club, but I say, to each their own. This is what works for me.

serve with real maple syrup...mmm!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

eww, gross.

so, i wasn't even going to post about my meal at claddagh in newport on the levee last night. a couple of girlfriends and i had been hoofing it around newport all day begging donations for the newport gangster's monster's ball, and decided to pop in for a bite to eat. it wasn't a big deal, nothing special. the food there is generally reliable, the seating packs you close to strangers and friends alike, and the notre dame game is on the telly.

but then something absolutely appalling happened.

we were signing our credit card slips when suddenly randy slams down one of the lingering plates on the center of the table and says, "don't look". well, we all know the easiest way to get people to look is to say "don't look". randy then reveals we have been joined by a six-legged friend, lifts the plate, and discovers he is gone. no matter. the little guy quickly resurfaced and was battered with a barrage of slaps by pleather check-holders, accompanied by cries of, "eww, get it" and maybe a girlish shriek or two. (i would like to point out through this whole exchange, no one even looked at our table. maybe they thought we were just really into the notre dame game)

that little bastard would not die. i think he still was twitching (it may have been a post-mortem twitch, who's to say) when i snapped his photo: