Friday, November 18, 2011


Fleischkuekle, pronounced flesh-key-claw is (traditionally) a deep fried pastry or hot pocket filled with ground bland meat.  Usually served with ketchup only!  Some people are sticklers when it comes to this.  It's actually a fairly nasty North Dakotan original dish which can be found in most gas stations in northern part of the state.  Traditionalists (super old German folk) would likely chastise me for updating such an unfortunate yet nostalgically intriguing dish.

Essentially I left the pie itself alone.  I made a traditional dough and stuffed it with ground bison.  The only exception is the seasonings and fresh herbs I added.  Now I'm proud of my German heritage and cuisine, but come on church ladies!  It's okay to season your food!

Anyways, I also changed the shape into bite size purses.  I served it atop a chanterelle and Surchoix gruyere risotto.  I got the mushrooms from a local forager.  And don't worry folks I didn't forget the ketchup.  I whipped up some lingonberry catsup, and garnished with some pea shoots.  I do not have picture of the final dish, but I assure you it was as pleasing to the eye as it was to my belly.

Friday, October 7, 2011

farm to table...... ink? part deux

It's all coming together. Just a few more sessions and my entire arm will be a full fledged farmland.  My artist has been doing incredible work.  The scene is based on a painting by artist Walt Curlee who paints many different wonderful farm scenes.

People ask quite a bit about it, mostly "Why a farm?"  Why not?  I like to have fun with my tattoo obsession and it ties perfectly into my other main obsession.... food! There really isn't anything more than that.  I can't wait for it to be fully finished.  For now heres some other stuff I've been working on.

First off, my roommates had twin babies a couple of months ago, Jack and Izabella.  They are so amazing and have greatly impacted my life for the better.  There's nothing like coming home everyday to a couple of new best friends.  Can't wait to have kids of my own someday.  Good practice for now though.

A few months back I visited BLG (Bar La Grassa) in Minneapolis and had an amazing dinner.  Truly a fantastic establishment.  One of the several dishes I had was n'duja egg raviolo.  It was a ravioli with a poached egg and n'duja salami inside.  It was delicious and intriguing.  I had never heard of n'duja let alone tried it before.  I tried to hunt it done on the web, but there isn't too much about it to find.

I did learn that it is a spreadable salami made with spicy Calabrian cherry peppers from the Calabria region of Italy.  I decided that since I couldn't find it anywhere that I would make some myself.  So

So here it is a month and a half later getting some nice white mold growth.  I feel it will be ready for the tasting in maybe about 3 or 4 more weeks.  Ohh I cannot wait.  This also signified my first ever dry curing endeavor, which I am now on my way to expand.  I stared some duck prosciutto and sopressata and coppa will soon be following.  It's quite intimidating and it will require much patience.

Few weeks ago I got some beef tongues and decided to make pastrami.  Here they are on brine for about 9 days.

I then braised them with some mirepoix and cleaned them up.  I crusted them with a melange of black and szechuan peppercorns, smoked sea salt, coriander, and mustard seeds.  After a day I smoked them.  Perhaps you could guess, I made some reubans out of them.  Tongue is so delicious and this was a complete success.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

midwest mushroom huntin'

As the summer days go by and the fall take their place, mushroom hunting season is coming closer to it's end(at least up here in the tundra ha).  It is time to reflect on the late summer forage along with some local cultivations.  Mushrooms are some of my favorite ingredients ever as well as one of my favorite foods on their own.  The first find is always the tastiest as I can hardly wait to get them back to the kitchen to pay them homage with a simple saute in butter and a few pinches of salt and pepper.  Without further adieu, this year's find:



 red wine caps and chicken of the woods

blue dolphins or oysters

Thursday, August 11, 2011

dinner in trotter's kitchen! chi-town baby! pt 2

Wow! It's been a hectic summer.  Sorry it's taken too long to get these pics loaded up on here(not that anyone's reading).  Well with my trip to cheese country was great.  Even better was the evening I escaped to Chicago for a once and a lifetime dinner at Trotter's.  This was amazing!  Especially sitting at the kitchen the kitchen!  White coats rushing all around me, in the most efficient petit kitchen I have ever seen.  They were an army of 13 that just worked ala minute in complete harmony with one another along with the many sommeliers and maitre ds.  Every course blew my mind as someone different each course presented me with my plate and an explanation.  I really can say enough.  Just a beautiful place.  I even read a framed hand written letter from Feran Adria to Charlie in the bathroom, pretty neat.

There were 15 official courses along with 7 sub courses along with a few surprise courses, the tastiest freshest bread with every course, 18 wines, espresso, champagne, minardes, apartifs(including one they called Trotter's hooch.  Sorry I didn't get pics of everything.

 Charlie's bento box amuse bouche:
kumamoto oyster with yuzu mignonette
poached quail's egg with pickled cucumber & salmon roe
bluefin tuna with watercress hijiki
ramp frittata with charred broccolini & sourdough
razor clams with purple potatoes & horseradish
compressed watermelon with preserved rind & herbs

 surprise dish 1: ?

 surprise dish 2: pho with crispy chicken foot

 poularde with braised rhubarb 7 cilantro

 cured sockeye salmon with plum & bonito

 John Dory with ash-baked eggplant & caper vinagrette

 heirloom beet lasagna with saffron & caramelized cauliflower

 suckling pig with black eyed  peas & kale

lola duck breast with hoisin, spring leek & Thai basil

 Elysian Farms lamb with fig & smoked red pepper& kalamata olives
 72-hour braised short rib with chorizo & spiced date puree

 u bel fiuritu with apricot, farro & mizuna

 sweet pea sorbet with mint explosion 
prickly pear sorbet with nopales & compari jelly

 allspice streusel with candied kumquats& yogurt gelato
coconut mousse with dark rum & key lime

 cocoa sorbet with cinnamon & pequin chiles

 green tea ice cream with cherries & white chocolate mousse


Charlie just flew into town from a Food & Wine show in Mexico, and showed up at our table as we were finishing the last of his hooch.  We spoke together and he gave me a tour of the whole establishment.  He greeted us at the exit with some of his books and an invitation for lunch the next day at Trotter's ToGo.  We accepted, and enjoyed five more courses and three wines served by his lovely sister before we hit the road back to Mad town.  

Thanks Charlie!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

who babysits the babysitter?

I just stumbled on this article and thought it was worth a read.  Although I disagree with many of the points made it isn't all a load of bull.  After all it was put together by acclaimed pulitzer-prize winning restaurant critic Jonathan Gold.

I'm not going to get into the list because it's purely an opinion piece(as is this).  I mainly wanted to ask who critique's the critic?  Obviously in this case, Gold has quite the prize under his belt, but even still how did that come to be?  Who do we trust?  Between Yelp and Tripadvisor, Mr. Gold and his colleagues, and a local magazine among many more critics, amateur or professional, where do we go to be judged?  Who do I trust to taste my food?  To rate my hospitality?  If we're pulling names out of a hat here than I just assume get my feedback from my mother.  I'm four stars in her eyes every time, lol!

In the case of the babysitter we have the nanny cam, we are the babysitters to the babysitters.  So collectively we as chefs collectively are our own critics and the only one's we can trust.  I guess James Beard got it half right.  I want everyone to be completely satisfied and overjoyed with there experience at my establishment, but to cook for another chef, now thats when I have a little more fun and give it that little bit extra.  Sorry mom.  I love you, but my peers will always be better critics of my food than you.  But I always appreciate the encouragement.

Monday, July 4, 2011

winning! a week in mad town.....? pt 1

 Wow!  What a busy summer so far!  Most recently I returned from my trip to Madison last week.  I won a recipe contest with Emmi Roth cheese company, and they flew me out and gave me the whole treatment:  hotel, car, dinners, tours, lunches, cheese making 101, and of course lots and lots of cheese tasting.  It was really quite amazing!

I apologize for not going into details of the cheese making and tours.  I tried many cheeses and a few experimental types of cheeses.  Cheesemakers are just like us chefs.  They get all excited about new combinations and ingredients. Mike, thee ultimate cheese nerd(genius), loaded my brain with an  insurmountable amount of amazing cheese knowledge.  Thanks Mike! There were many more pics of the entire experience, stay tuned for further posts.

We dined at various spots in Mad-town.  Most notably, L'Etoile.  I have been dying to dine here for too long.  Although, yes, the meal was amazing it didn't quite live up to my expectations.  I won't go into specifics, and I'm not saying my evening wasn't enjoyable.  It was just not the hype I built it up to be.  Chef Tory Miller is a magnificent chef and reluctantly against his preference he came out to greet us.  Thank you very much Chef Tory.  The service was beyond what I have experienced in the past.  The food was delicious and the wine was.... well wine hehe!  I did not get any pictures though sorry.

Wednesday was a free day.  On a whim we decided to take our paid rental car to...........Chi-town!  I cannot go into this dreamlike evening quite yet as I am still gathering all of my pics, but oh yes it will come soon.  A little hint of my evening is pasted below.  Just me and a man I greeted simply as Chef Trotter...........

To be continued.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

we be flossin'

Yea it's more likely to get stuck in your teeth than clean them.  Chicken floss is an Asian inspired product made by heavily seasoning and drying your already cooked chicken.  I decided to Americanize it a tad and fried the chicken meat in bacon fat.  After it reached it's fluffy crispy(crispier than normal floss)  consistency I seasoned it up with a little fennel pollen and a few other spices.  Seriously delicious, fried chicken floss!  I threw it on a pizza with a fried egg, black garlic and charred scallion pesto, spinach and aged white cheddar.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

a terrine of duck

Earlier last week I had some free time and pondered my excess of duck legs in my coolers.  Although I haven't made a ton of terrines(not even close to a pro) in my day,  I decided to wing it and whip one up.  I started with more than a dozen duck legs and thighs.  I confit'd half and deboned the other to make a mousse.  

After some time I was left with a duck mousse and confit mix in which I added some blanched yukons, dried blueberries, tarragon, and various other seasonings.  I then tossed it my loaf pan with bacon lay into it as if to rap it in delicious bacon love.

I threw it into a water bath, baked it off, weighed it off for a day, and slid it out.  Much to my surprise(not really) my sophomoric efforts paid off.  Delicious!  I served it above a bed of mache and arugala with some fresh blueberries; and dressed it all with a warm sherry-walnut emulsion which I made   from a minuscule donation from my amazing hoard of duck fat.

Another notable mention off this weeks menu would be my version of General Tso's amazing dish.  The General's lobster!  Tempura lobster is stacked on a bed of "fried rice" risotto with little gems of carrot snap peas and garlic scapes.  With the edition of a farm fresh scrambled egg, spicy "dirty" sauce and crispy rice noodles, this dish not only lived up to but surpassed the original by a mile.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

the one with no name

Yes!  The weekend is here!  It's been a long yet exciting week.  I've been working on a lot of things.  Thats the beauty and the curse of working in the kitchen, your work is never done.  Everything is changing and growing and shaping and evolving.

I was informed yesterday of a contest I have won.  Pretty exciting!  It's the first time I've personally won anything in my profession.  It was a bleu cheese recipe competition(yes lame, but it's exciting for me) including anyone in the nation.  To see my award winning dishes check out my post  "so sad i've got the bleus."

A lot more to show you next week.  For now just a couple pics from this week's prix fixe.

 Yukon gold gnocchi with guanciale, duck neck confit, charred ramps, and a fig glace.

Manchego cheesecake with quince jam, marcona almond granola, and smoked dark chocolate.

Same as the last.  People were weary of the smoked chocolate at first, but they warmed up to it.  Sold like a million of these prix fixes.   Not shown was the asparagus tart with ricotta, vella jack, red onion, and candied garlic.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

thrilla in manilla, ham hock delight and morel dilemma

Yet another idea from the geniuses from Ideas in Food I had to try.  Charred jalapeno pasta!  Real good stuff.

I used smoked flour to aid in the delicious spicy jalapeno flavor.  It turned out beautifully.

I used the pasta with some fresh manila clams, some ham hocks that I brined and then smoked for 10 hours, roasted tomatoes, garlic and shallots, white wine, and topped it with shaved vella jack.  The smokey hamhocks were just falling apart and complimented the pasta perfectly.

Just some more goodies we picked up this week.  We got these one day and then today a local forager stopped by with a trunk full of the most beautiful morel mushrooms.  We couldn't say no.

So many possibilities, so delicious!

fish heads, fish heads, roley poley fish heads, eat them up yum!

So I was checking out Ideas in Food website like I usually do.  These guys are amazing innovators.  They test things so you don't have to, lol!  Seriously though, great website, great book.  Anyways I read the article for making fish head cheese out of salmon heads.  I love ideas like this!  It's utilizing more of the product.  Parts that would normally be thrown away.  We get all kinds of salmon in our kitchen so I decided it couldn't hurt to give it a go.

We will see what turns up tomorrow.  For recipe and instructions, consult the link.  Thanks Ideas in Food!

Friday, May 20, 2011

it's the end of the world and still i can't get no satisfaction

Zombie apocalypse!  Are you kidding me!?  I guess we are to be prepared for anything, lol.  Zombies though, really?

Check this article out.  Some nut says he has calculated the rapture to tomorrow evening at 6:00 PM.  And even though he was wrong several times before he is sure this time.  So what is supposed to happen?  The CDC wants everyone to prepare for anything including zombies.  Wow!? Right!?

Oh gee, I wish I had more time to waste on this, but if this is my last night I'm eating a nice dinner with the family.  Check you out tomorrow night if the zombies haven't got me.   Wait.  The irony is that the zombie pub crawl was last Saturday night.  Ha!

By the way, rest in peace Macho Man.  You will be missed.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

elvis sandwich? fluffernut this!

Many good things going on this week.  My kitchen is almost complete.  It's looking so pimp(sorry too excited).  Lunch has just been killing it with this beautiful weather.  Not to mention the food.  Ramps and rhubarb and asparagus etc. (just a few of my favorite things) are growing and finding their way into our coolers and eventually our dishes.  I love fresh fruits and veggies.  Speaking of rhubarb we start to get a little crazy because for a short while this stuff just comes in an abundance.  So rhubarb pizzas and trifles and sorbet for dessert, tuna and rhubarb crudo, chilled fennel and rhubarb soup(also using yogurt, apples, star anise, and vanilla), and rhubarb ice cubes for delicious springtime cocktails.  This is what we've done so far this week.

Also going on this week, the famous Elvis sandwich or fluffernutter.  Yes I am aware these might not be the same thing, but Elvis could have put marshmallow fluff on his sammy.   Anyways I used those sandwiches for the inspiration for this week's prix fixe dessert.

It really turned out delicious.  Banana bread french toast with marshmallow fluff, peanut butter ice cream, and of course candied bacon.  Warm and cold and sweet and salty and texture and simplicity.  A little amateurish, but look who your talking too, ha!