EGGstatic

I’m so excited,
I just can’t hide it,
Got ourselves a BIG GREEN EGG
And I think I like it…

Big Green Egg

It all started seriously when we visited Carol’s brother Mark in September 2012. They’ve had a Big Green Egg (EGG) for years and always cooked on it when we made our annual visit. The first time we ate from their EGG was the summer of 2010 where Jannie cooked salmon, zucchini, tomatoes and corn all at once. That planted the EGG seed in my brain. By September ’12 we had already moved from San Francisco to Reno, so we were about ready to rock n roll.

And why had we wanted to move from the beautiful San Francisco after 20 years?
Reason No. 1, the hills and steps.

Count the steps.

Reason No. 2, we liked the idea of walking out the back door and throwing something on the grill without the hassle of walking through the entire house and out onto the tiny back deck.

Our back “deck” off the second bedroom

Oh yes, before we left Ohio, Mark and I happened to make a small wager…

Mark’s Cincinnati Reds and my Giants are both in NL playoffs. Mark wants to bet.
I said, “I’ll bet the Reds don’t win the NL championship.”
He said he’d take that for $10.
I said, “If you lose, you have to give me my ten dollar bill in Reno.”
He said, “Only if you cook in Reno on a Green Egg.”
We shook on it. Jannie and Carol hooted.

We were outta there for the airport at noon. Continue reading

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OhiO Eats twentyleven

We’re just back from our what-has-become-annual Ohio trip. This one marking the happy occasion of Carol’s Mom’s 90th birthday, a memorable event, indeed.

Happy 90th Liz.

Happy 90th Liz.

As usual, the Ohio food scene — at least that which we experience — is a mixed bag, from soup to nuts (Carol’s sister DeeDee’s Barley Soup to the Delta Airlines Nuts) and various grades of good in between, as you shall see.

Our first real food experience after airport and airplane and road food was Carol’s brother Alan taking us to Rhapsody, the restaurant of the Culinary Arts School at Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio, a town about 30 miles southeast of Lancaster. Situated on the Town Square, Alan thinks its wonderful and has taken many people there over the years.

of_room

We entered a very nice room with exposed brick walls and high ceilings. Jazz wafted softly from a piano in the back of the room. The food and service were good — hell, very good — but definitely student work, ambitious and just about perfect, but not quite. For example, we ordered an Ohio Cabernet from the wine list. When the wine steward brought the bottle, it was Cabernet Franc — not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I expected Cabernet Sauvignon, the more familiar varietal. She said, “Well sometimes we have Cabernet Sauvignon and sometimes Cabernet Franc, so we just say Cabernet.”

of_cheese_balls

I started with the Deep Fried Farmstead Cheese Balls appetizer with a creamy blue cheese dip. Can’t go wrong there. A bite through the crispy crust revealed a warm and tender, but not melty, cheese center. Yum. Carol had the Lime Cucumber Rolls with Peanut Butter Dip. Yummy again. We’re off to a fine start.

of_cucumber

Continue reading

Reinvented Chop Suey

Not your Mom’s Chop Suey

To say that chop suey gets a bad rap is a gross understatement. Its origins aren’t entirely clear, but some believe that while the wealthy miners were eating Hangtown Fry during the Gold Rush, Chinese immigrants with limited funds were scrounging together meals with whatever they could find.

Chop suey can translate as “chop into bits” or “odds and ends.” Everything from celery and carrots to chicken parts and onions (thickened with some kind of starch) went into this ultimate scraps dish.

It was among the first of the “Americanized” Chinese dishes, thought to be mild enough for Western palates.

From Amanda Gold’s 5 Classic Dishes published in the SF Chronicle, May 2009.

c_chop_suey_detail

Ah yes, odds and ends in a wok, my favorite kind of thing. Back in the day, my Mom had a chop suey recipe — which no doubt circulated among the women at Westgate Methodist Church — that was made entirely of canned ingredients. This one — reinvented by the chef at Betelnut, an Asian restaurant on Union Street that’s been there as long as I can remember — is the antithesis of that; nearly everything is fresh. A trip to Chinatown was in order to deal with an ingredient list like this one that includes:

Shaoxing rice wine
fresh water chestnuts
ginger
garlic chives
Shanxi black vinegar
bean sprouts
Hodo Soy brand yuba (tofu skin) omelet

Parked my scooter on Jackson Street at Stockton and went into the store on the corner. Right away, I saw fresh water chestnuts and picked out five. That set me back 35¢. That store had none of my other needs, so I crossed Jackson to the store on the other corner. Not much there, I went to the next store and scored the rice wine $1.59, and the bean sprouts 34¢. They had the black vinegar, but it doesn’t say Shanxi on the label. I have the same black vinegar at home. Most stores have ginger, but its in net bags of a pound or more.

I crossed Stockton to the biggest store on the block and bought one piece of ginger. Nowhere have I seen garlic chives or even chives. No matter, I don’t think this dish is going to break the bank.

I have everything else in my fridge or pantry.

Ready, set, chop… Continue reading

Mom’s German Potato Salad

…and a visit to German Village

gps_potato_platter_det

Dad–
I raved so much about Gary’s rendition of the German Potato Salad to Alison that now she wants us to make it with our latest crop of potatoes. Therefore you *HAVE* to do an EatsForOne feature on the recipe, especially if you can track down Martha’s version (Gary might be able to help you there, a good excuse to give them a call).
–ER

And so the quest began. I called Amy and Gary.

When Amy answered, I said, “Eric’s on me to write something about “Mom’s” German Potato Salad you guy’s brought to the Pigroast. Can you give me the recipe?”

Amy said, “Gary made it, I just helped and coached.”
“Is Gary there?” I said.

“He’s outside, under his truck,” said Amy. “I’ll call him.”

Gary said, “Gosh, I just started cooking… Amy peeled the potatoes and I sliced them… we were just cooking together…

“I don’t remember the proportions… I know we started with a lot of bacon… 1 1/2 pounds, and a lot of onions… saute the onions until they’re good and caramelized… deglaze the pan with a bit of water, then start adding vinegar and sugar until it tastes like the German Potato Salad in German Village. I’ve never seen the recipe written down. Maybe next time, I can make some notes.”
gv_Schmidt_lunch

After thinking about it, I fired off an email with a couple more questions, to which Gary quickly replied:

Mustard? No mustard, but that could be a worthy secret ingredient.
What kind of potatoes? The potato was a russet  brown skin and Amy states that we once used some red skin potatoes. Peeled, sliced on a mandolin. and parboiled.

I tried to conjure up what I remember about Mom’s German Potato Salad — I’m sure my recollections were heavily influenced by what I had just eaten at the Pigroast.

Potatoes were sliced, not cubed
Potatoes were firm, not mushy
No other vegetables or eggs.
Sweet and sour taste.

I looked for German Potato Salad recipes on the internet. Surprisingly, none were very close to the picture in my mind. One, from House & Garden, February 1957, on Epicurious, by Eloise Davison was just potatoes, bacon and sauce, but she used cubed potatoes, and only four teaspoons chopped onion, coupled with flour to make a roux with the bacon fat.

The best clues came from Recipes from a German Grandma

What makes a good German Potato Salad?
The Potato
Any potato works well but it is good to understand the qualities of each potato to their advantage in your salad. ?Many Germans like the firm red skin potato but the russet works well as also.
The Dressing
The typical dressing is a very simple vinaigrette that is equal parts water, vinegar and sugar.
Trouble is, the pictures showed a mooshy mass of potatoes, so I didn’t read that recipe carefully before I started writing my own and cooking. (Looking back, its pretty close to what I did.) Continue reading

Jannie’s Keystone Pasta

Jackson, Ohio to San Francisco

Sent from my iPad
hello Marc. My typing skills are not very good.  I have room for Lots of improvement.  What are you having for supper.  We are having Keystone Pasta.  You put lots of basil in the bottom of a 9×13 pan.  Peal about 8 large tomatoes. Sprinkle o.o. Over salt, pepper bit of sugar.  Bake 350for@30minutes and serve Over pasta.  This is a Hale original.  I make this when I have lots of basil.  Just wanted to
Let you know we are enjoying the iPad.  I think it was a good choice.  Say hi to Carol.
Jan

Jackson, OH

On our way to the Hale Hollow Pigroast, we stopped for an overnight at Carol’s brother Mark’s farm in Jackson, Ohio. Jackson is about as far southeast as Ohio goes — you want to get away? — this is away.

Keystone tomatoes

Keystone tomatoes

When we walked into the house, I remarked on a gorgeous plate of sliced Keystone tomatoes we would be having for dinner. Mark and Jannie are proud of their tomatoes and this is peak season, so tomatoes are a big part of mealtime. I don’t remember ever having Keystones, but Mark pointed out they’re a close cousin to brandywine tomatoes.

Mark took me on a ride around his place on his Mule, a four wheel get-around-easy-to-keep-up-the-place toy. Fun.

t_mule

t_ripping_thru_woodsWe went rippin’ through the woods and crusin’ th’ dale.

t_cruisin_th_dale

Passing the garden he showed me the Keystone tomato plants, standing taller than me. Continue reading

Spring Cassoulet

… peach and tomato salad
Gone again… back again

the farm lane

the farm lane

This time we were off to Ohio, a land of heat and humidity, but one of family celebrations, as well. This one was Carol’s brother Alan’s annual pig roast on his farm just south of Lancaster – where Carol grew up – which is just north of Logan – my birthplace – and about 30 miles southeast of Columbus – where I grew up. Having lived in San Francisco for nearly 20 years, a trip “back east” is July is like a hot, wet slap in the face, and Carol tends to obsess over the heat. To my way of thinking, it’s good to go someplace really hot from time to time – not too often. I don the Ohio July uniform of a loose tee shirt, shorts and sandals and live with it. It’s the clammy, usually way too cold air conditioning that gets to me.

dude... check out these Ohio tomatoes!

dude... check out these Ohio tomatoes!

All of that, to say that I haven’t contributed to eats for a while.

sc_beans_sausages

I found this recipe for Spring Cassoulet in the CUESA newsletter and though it’s a bit past spring, I had all the ingredients and SF is cool enough just now to enjoy a bean dish.

So, you make a pot of beans and throw some sausages and pancetta on top, and sprinkle that with baby lettuces and edible flowers. How easy and yummy is that? Quite.

But Dominique Crenn of Luce at the InterContinental hotel showed me a few tricks to make this simple thing sophisticated and sublime.

For the beans, she cooked bacon, shallot, garlic, celery and carrot in a generous amount of olive oil and deglazed the pan (I used my bean pot) with white wine. OK so far… that’s the way I start beans. For the twist, she tied up that vegetable bacon mixture in cheesecloth and put it back in the pot for the beans. Viola… no pesky vegetable and bacon pieces in the beans, just their flavor. She used Rancho Gordo White Runner Beans, I used Golden Eye.

Chunks of lamb sausage, pork sausage and chopped pancetta, sautéed with onion and garlic, then cooked with red wine and chicken stock, made it a cassoulet. I used Fatted Calf Merguez and Mild Italian sausages. Continue reading

Cincinnati Chili: A New Experience

Feel like you don’t get enough email? You want more? Subscribe to cooksillustrated.com. I get four or five emails a week from them, mainly shilling their books or magazine subscriptions, but maybe one a week will have kitchen tips and recipes.

Recently, an email touting Cook’s Country, CI’s “down home” magazine, featured Cincinnati Chili. That got my attention! Cincinnati Chili is one of my Top Five chili recipes. I got my version from a neighbor in Newton back in the 70’s, we’ll call it “Sally’s” Cincinnati Chili. Years — hell, decades — later, I experienced the “real deal” at a Skyline Chili franchise outside of Cincinnati on a trip to find the Ohio Heartland. I’ve got to check out this Cook’s Country version.

cin_chili.jpg

I downloaded the recipe and made it the next day for dinner. Of course CC had to put their “best way” spin on it, but it’s pretty good. It has the distinctive sweet-sour taste and the five ways and the ground beef. I polished off my dish and was pleased and satisfied, but sorry CC, I like the Sally version better. Continue reading