our good friends, cameron & alicia, and their sweet baby girl, ramona, came to ithaca for an overnight a couple of weekends ago. alicia thought of doing a themed dinner, which was such a fantastic idea! since it was matt's birthday weekend - we gave him first dibs for the theme..
i need to preface this: a couple of months ago, matt and i were at cam and alicia's watching the 'homer the great' episode of the simpson's when homer becomes a member of the stonecutters and is heralded as the chosen one -- at some point in the episode homer mentions a stein hoist, and then this amazing song comes on - which, sidenote; is stuck in your head for days and days, "we do, we do," and morphed versions, like "beets do, beets do." it was hilarious, and obvious to me that we had a mutual unspoken acknowledgement to create our own stein hoist and to celebrate it annually forever thereafter.
and with that being said, matt chose a german theme so we could roll it into a stein hoist and listen to music like this all night. saturday afternoon, we met on the commons for a stop at the cellar d'or [a beautiful wine and cider shop owned by husband and wife, mark and olivia-- a must see if you're in the area]. the first time i visited cellar d'or - i described the type of wine i liked, rather poorly, to mark - yet he still managed a perfect match! he offered the lucchetti lacrima di morro d'alba (a mouthful, but a name worth remembering!) it's now my most favorite wine of all time! great job, mark!] for this stop though, we needed german wine; burklin-wolf was our pick!
finger lakes beverage center is a place so magical - the perfect place for pairing any meal with the perfect beverage. we pit-stopped there for the german beer -- some of our picks; kolsch reissdorf, pinkus munster alt, imperial freigeist geisterzug rhubarb, schneider weisse, ayinger alt bairisch dunkel, and ayingerz celebrator. lastly, we stopped off at the market for bratwurst, spaetzel, and pickles...
cameron and alicia prepped a slow-cooked sauerkraut, so amazing-- and for dessert, i made a german pastry with apples and quark (a german cheese similar to ricotta). [extra thanks to the piggery for having natural and locally produced quark! they are so amazing]. for pre-dinner munching, i made soft pretzels (compliments to alton brown, my fav) with various mustards for dipping. cameron taught us how to make latkes (i know, this is jewish -- but we already had bacon for the main course so we nixed the german potato salad). um, the latkes were amazing, and i think those little potato cakes and i will be hanging out quite a lot in the future (thank you alicia for requesting these!) for the main course, cameron made rouladen with a gravy made from the pan drippings, which included bacon and pickles.. it was heaven on earth. we boiled up some spaetzel and then matt plated the dinner <3.
this was a perfect meal to pair with this upstate ny tundra we've been experiencing. it was a super hearty and really filling (or maybe it was all that german beer we used to keep our boot-mug's full?) either way, it was such a great time and i can't wait to do it again.
in the morning, for breakfast-- i made freshly juiced cucumber bloody mary's with crop organic cucumber vodka. whipped up a quick breakfast pizza using a pre-made shell from the coOp, and of course-- house-made piggery breakfast sausage. alicia's dad makes an incredible homemade hot sauce, we used to liven up the pizza and our leftover latkes -- it perfect way to kick start a sunday.
p.s isn't ramona such a peach?! i love her sweet smile!
ingredients and equipment: 1/2 cups of warm water (110-1105 degrees F), 1T sugar, 2 tsp kosher salt, 1 envelope of dry active yeast, 22 oz all purpose flour (i used 1/2 whole wheat, 1/2 unbleached white), 2 oz. unsalted butter, oil, 10 cups water, 2/3 cup baking soda, 1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1T water, and pretzel salt (i used margarita salt) :) you'll need a food thermometer, two small bowls, a whisk or fork, one large bowl, a clean flat surface, baker's bench knife or regular knife, a large pan or pot (something wide and shallow is best), and a baking sheet. it's helpful to have parchment paper, but it's not necessary. a myriad of mustards: honey, grain, spicy brown sugar, whatever you prefer, and/or a cheese sauce.
directions: combine the 1 1/2 cups warm water, the sugar, salt, in the bowl of a stand mixer (or regular bowl) sprinkle the yeast on top. set aside for five minutes, or until the mixture foams. add the flour and butter and using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl (about 4-5 minutes). remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl, then oil it well. return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a tight fitting towel (or these amazing bee wax wraps!!!) set aside in a warm place of 50 minutes to an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size. heat your over to 450 degrees F. line one or two sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with oil. set aside. bring the 10 cups of water and baking soda to a rolling bowl in your saute or roasting pan. meanwhile, turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces (or smaller if you'd like smaller pretzels), roll out each piece of dough into a 12-24in rope. make a u-shape with the rope, and holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the u in order to form the shape of a pretzel. place on the sheet pan and repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. one by one, place the pretzels in the boiling water for 30 seconds. remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. return them to the sheet pans, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture, and sprinkle with pretzel salt. bake until dark golden brown in color, 12-14 minutes. serve with varying mustards or a cheese (or beer and cheese) sauce!
*recipe adapted from alton brown (the best!)-- original version found here.
POTATO LATKES RECIPE BY CAMERON MILLS
ingredients and equipment: 3-4 potatoes, 1/4 of a small onion, egg, flour (you could use bread crumbs or gluten- flour as an alternative), salt and pepper, a food processor or grater, a giant bowl, greek yogurt or sour cream, and your hands.
directions: heat a few tablespoons of oil in a pan over low heat. process or grate your peeled potatoes and onion into a large bowl, an egg and about a half a cup of flower, salt and pepper. now take your two paws, roll up your sleeves and agitate! get it all mixed up good. you're looking for a a thicker pancake-batter like consistency (not a lot of 'batter') but enough to sort of adhere the potato and onion shreds together. add a hefty bit of salt and pepper, and any other seasonings you'd prefer. by this time your pan should be hot enough to get a good sizzle when you place your latkes. grab a scoop, palm it like a burger patty, and slap it in the pan (be careful for spattering oil!) go ahead and place a couple in at a time. don't be afraid to let them sit for a bit -- a watch pot never boils! let them get a chance to cook and stick together, then flip (approximately 10-15 minutes on each side). voila. delish! (we used plain greek yogurt in place of sour cream for dipping) - i do this often, because it's a healthier option you can't even notice!
recipe makes six servings--
ingredients and equipment: 1 1/2 lbs. flank steak, stone ground mustard, 1/2 lb sliced cooked bacon chopped, 2 onions sliced, 1/2 a (16 oz) jar o fill pickles chopped, 2T butter or oil, 2 1/2 cups water, and natural beef bouillon, a thickening agent such as cornstarch or roux, a searing pan (preferably one that can go right into the oven), string or toothpicks, a mallet (optional).
directions: fry up your bacon in a lightly greased pan, place on paper towels to remove excess oil. chop your pickles. cut (or flatten with a mallet) the flank steak into thin filets; about a 1/4 inch thick and 3 inches wide. add 1-2T of butter or oil in your pan and place on low heat. generously spread one side of each filet with mustard, sliced onions, cooked bacon bits, and chopped pickles, and form a roll. use a string or toothpicks to hold the roll together. place the rolls in the butter and saute until browned. pour in 2 1/2 cups of water and bouillon, stir, simmer rolls for about an hour. remove the rolls, but keep the broth in the pan -- to make the gravy; add your roux or cornstarch to the broth to thicken, start with a little and then add until you've reached your desired consistency. plate the rolls and top with gravy!
braided Apple + Quark pastry
ingredients and equipment: 4-5 medium-sized apples, peeled, cored, and sliced, lemon juice, a scant up to 2T of cinnamon, (a scant up to 2T of raw sugar, puff pastry, one egg, 1-4T of honey (depending on your taste), and about a cup of quark! recommended: table top apple peeler and corer and parchment paper, kitchen shears and a pastry brush.
preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. cover a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper or grease lightly. roll out your puff pastry (i bought an organic pre-made puff pastry from the frozen section at the coOp). you should shape it (if it isn't already) into a rectangle, place it onto your cookie sheet/parchment paper, then take a pair of kitchen shears and cut roughly 2 1/2 inches on both side of the long sides. each 2 1/2 inch slit should be about an inch apart, and match the slits on the opposing side. meanwhile, take your quark and mix in some honey - little by little. quark isn't really sour, but it's not really sweet either, I would recommend 2-3T of honey but taste it and gauge to what you like. spread the quark onto the middle of your puff pastry, avoiding the slits by about a half an inch. next, lay your sliced apples on top of the quark. sprinkle them liberally with cinnamon and sugar and then add a squeeze of half a lemon over all the apples (optional). now bear with me because this next part takes a tiny bit of patience. the dough braid: starting with one end of your pastry, fold the first cut of dough on the left onto the apples and angle it just slightly toward the far end, then take the right side's first cut of dough and place it over the piece of dough you just folded over the apples, you'll continue to do this from side to side until you've reached the last cut of dough - then, fold the tail underneath the end of your pastry to seal. it's harder to explain than to actually do - i know you can do it! now, take one egg and whisk it up and paint the top of your pastry with your brush (this will give it a shiny golden crisp). start checking the oven after about 20 minutes - when the top of the pastry starts to become a light gold in color, toothpick test your apples. They should be cooking along just fine - pull the pastry once the top becomes a golden-brown color. I used a tea filter and confectioner's sugar to top, but i think a glaze would be great, too - whisk 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar and 2-3T of milk, then drizzle over the warm top! yum.
fresh juice cucumber bloody mary's
this recipe serves 2-3
ingredients and equipment: 5-6 medium sized tomatoes, 2 cucumbers, 2 cloves of garlic, salt, pepper, and hot sauce, a juicer (preferably cold press), and vodka (i used crop organic cucumber vodka). other fun things to consider; horseradish, worcestershire sauce, dilly beans, celery, bacon?!).
directions: cut your tomatoes and cucumbers small enough to feed through your juicer. i like to peel my cucumbers to avoid the bitterness of the skin. peel two cloves of garlic. juice the tomatoes and cucumbers and half a clove - i realize not everyone is a garlic fanatic like i am, so add your cloves half at a time until you reach your desired taste. salt and pepper liberally and add a your favorite hot sauce. pour 1-2oz of vodka in the bottom of your glass, and top with fresh juice. we garnished with celery, but dilly beans or bacon on a skewer are great options, too!
ingredients and equipment: the possibilities are endless here, but for the pizza pictured above-- one pre-made pizza crust (i used an organic sourdough flatbread from the coOp, but boboli or homemade crust would work just as well), your favorite cheese shredded (i used mozzarella and keeley's across the pond semi-soft cheese), sausage (i used the piggery's breakfast sausage because it is out of this world amazing), scallions thinly sliced, fresh basil, and 2-4 eggs.
directions: preheat your over to 400 degrees F. caveat: you won't need any sauce for your breakfast pizza, which feels weird but i promise, you won't miss it. fry up your breakfast sausage, while it's cooking shred the cheese and slice the scallions. once the sausage has cooled to the touch, chop it into bite-sized pieces. place the pizza crust onto the sheet pan, liberally sprinkle the crust with cheese, sausage, and chopped scallions. now, carefully -- crack 2-4 eggs one-by-one and place them around the pizza. be very careful not to let the whites run off the side. place it in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the edges are golden-brown and the eggs are cooked to your liking (i've found over-medium works best -- it's not so messy). while your pizza is cooking pluck 5-6 basil leaves, place them on top of each other and roll them tightly. holding tightly, chop once lengthwise down the center, then slice julienne - this technique works the best for me when i'm trying to get the perfect size and look for fresh herbs! sprinkle the basil on the pizza as soon as it's pulled from the oven. serve with a side of your favorite hot sauce!