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Showing posts from December, 2017

Glazed Hazelnut Torte

I have started to work my way through Classic German Baking. It is a well-written book and the recipes are uniformly tempting. Given that I still have some hazelnuts from my Seattle trip, I decided to give this cake a try. I toasted, then ground the hazelnuts. I was a bit short so I added a few almonds. Seven room-temperature eggs, separated. I creamed together the butter and egg yolks. I then folded in the hazelnuts + flour. The amount of flour is small compared to the nuts. This is an old fashioned cake that gets its body from egg whites. I whipped the whites into firm peaks. I then folded them into the remainder of the batter, striking a balance between mixing and inflation. Into the springform pan for a 45 minute bake. Once the cake was cool, I split it open and filled it with preserves. I used strawberries rather than raspberries since I am still working off a huge surplus of strawberry preserves from last summer’s canning extravaganza. I then reassembled the cake


Ratatouille is a great dish: tasty, filling, not very caloric, nutritious. Given that I had some extra eggplant from a Buford Highway Farmers Market run, I decided to make a batch. I used Anne Burrell’s recipe from It calls for squash as one of the ingredients. Squash is not common in ratatouille but it does make for a heartier dish. I roasted the squash to give it a head start. I sweated an onion and several garlic cloves. I had some peppers in the freezer so in they went. Next came the zucchini. I added the peeled and diced eggplant. I then added the peeled and diced squash. Finally, a can of tomato sauce. After about 45 minutes of simmering, it was ready to eat. It made a very enjoyable part of my lunch.

Tucker: Freakin Incan

Tucker is blossoming. Tuckerites have a lot of town spirit. One result is the steady stream of new restaurants. Freakin Incan opened on main street and features a fun, casual atmosphere. The menu has both small items and main dishes, as you can see. I don't get shrimp very often so I ordered the shrimp saltado. I guess that braised is the best way to describe the technique. The vegetables were tasty. The shrimp was very flavorful and cooked just the right amount. The sauce was savory and interesting but not obviously spicy. Overall, a very satisfying meal.

Squash Soup

I like soup during winter---a bit of a winter treat. I find thick soups like this one to be particularly satisfying. The Culinary Institute of America recipe calls for cooking the squash in chicken stock. I opted to roast the squash in the oven. This approach speeds up the process and gives the chance for just a bit of browning. I browned an onion and some ginger. Just for fun, I added a splash of sesame oil. I combined the squash, onion, ginger, sesame oil, and chicken stock in the blender. I was making a pot of chicken stock which I fed directly into the soup. I returned the blended mixture to the pot and added cream. I let it cook for just a few minutes to combine the flavors. The result was very enjoyable on a cold winter’s evening.

Norcross: Martin's

Grant has said good things about Martin's, which has several locations around town. A fly-by during lunch time gave me the opportunity to orbit and land the Martin's on Jimmy Carter Boulevard. This is my deluxe burger, which did not disappoint. The quarter-pound patty was hand formed and cooked with just a bit of char around the edge. The deluxe toppings were fresh. The bun was pretty good and gave a platform for a mayonnaise-style sauce. The result was just sloppy enough to be fun without embarrassing myself. The result was a very satisfying burger experience.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

I have always enjoyed sweet potato biscuits. Seet potato not only gives a nice taste but helps to keep the biscuits moist. I decided to make use of some extra sweet potato using this recipe from Serious Eats. Here is the sweet potato mixed with cream and buttermilk. Butter is cut into the flour. The flour mixture and the sweet potato mixture are lightly combined to make the final biscuit batter. Here are the biscuits ready to go into the oven. And here are the biscuits fresh out of the oven. They taste great and freeze very well.

Homemade Bread Crumbs

My do-it-yourself instincts naturally lead me to making my own bread crumbs. I started this practice while I still bought bread at the grocery store which I didn’t want to waste. Now that I make my own bread, most of which is whole wheat, I generally use the full-automatic mode of the bread maker to make a loaf of white. Whole wheat doesn’t toast very well and is hard to control during drying. I slowly figured out that drying is the key to texture of the bread crumbs. If the bread is even a little moist, it won’t break down fully. You can dry the bread to the edge of toasting, or you can toast it a little to add a carmelized flavor. Here are some crumbs that were made from bread that hadn’t yet started to toast. I sliced the loaf into thin slices, then popped it into the oven and checked it every few minutes. Now I am set for a couple of months in the bread crumb department.

Seasons Greetings

Seasons Greetings to everyone! Thank you to my readers for your attention to my food musings. This is a good time of year to express my gratefulness for all the food service people who have fed me over the past year. These folks work hard at all hours of the day and I really appreciate your good food and graciousness. Christmas brings out the best in restaurant folks, particularly for travelers. Two special thanks: to the staff of Jetro's in Clive who provided excellent Christmas Eve dinners with cheer; and to the staff of Perkins in Des Moines who served carloads of hungry people with good food and caring service.

Des Moines: Eatery A

We enjoyed a wonderful meal at Eatery A. Although wood-fired pizzas occupy the center of the menu, the dishes have a strong Mediterranean bent. Don't worry, there is plenty of pork on the menu, too. The space is large and filled with activity. Our service was extremely gracious and welcoming. We started with Manchego cheese with honey and almonds. The cheese was superb and the honey in particular made a great accen. These are bacon-wrapped figs. This is always a great contrast and the spectacular bacon used here really made the dish. The bacon was full of pork flavor and not overwhelmed by its curing. Debbie's pizza was Mediterranean=themed, with goat cheese and pickled vegetables. She thought it was delicious. I ordered a chicken shawrma skewer. THe meat was juicy and the spices were rich without being overpowering. It was bedded with pickled zucchini and a delicious hummus. Given the quality of the other dishes, we had to try a dessert. This is our cardamom

Breakfast at Zion Lodge

Zion Lodge maintains the tradition of breathtaking hospitality in our national parks. I woke up to these spectacular views of the canyon that cuts through the park. My mainstay breakfast during my stay was the veggie omelet, which was very soft and fluffy. The hash browns were quite good; their heartiness helped to fortify me for a day of hiking. The bread made a nice complement. My server was very nice; at lunch, she gave me tips on how to make Navajo fry bread.

Lincoln NE: Hop Cat

Hop Cat is located in one of the new buildings at the Brickyard. It has a large selection of craft beers as well as a menu of food that complements beer. Service was very friendly. Diners are required by Lincoln city ordinance to order loaded fries with every meal. Ours were exemplary and featured the cheese dip that is a calling card for Hop Cat. Given how much pride they display in their cheese sauce, I decided to order the mac and cheese. You don't see this dish often presented for adults. The Hop Cat folks did a good job, cheesy and with the vegetables coming through nicely. The topping was very crispy.

Lincoln NE: The Rabbit Hole

The Rabbit Hole is tucked into a corner of the lower level of the Brickyard. I really enjoyed my visit for a breakfast pick-me-up. The case shows the variety of baked goods they offer. Here is my sweet roll with cream cheese filling. The bread was soft and tender with just enough pull to give a nice texture. A good cream cheese filling is hard to beat and isn't always easy to find. The coffee was great, too.

Lincoln NE: Single Barrel

Brittany, Justin, and I convened at the Single Barrel for a dinner discussion. The menu features classic BBQ as well as more novel preparations of beef and pork. Brittany correctly described the decor as Sizzler-esque. But I think that the Wall of Whiskey that greets patrons manages to focus the attention of most patrons. This is Justin's old fashioned, which he ordered with a boutique rye. He declared it to be excellent. I think that loaded fries are a signature dish of Lincoln. This excellent rendition included both beef and pork. This superb cornbread was very moist. The dips included a prepared butter, bacon jam, and my favorite of jalapeno honey. Dunking your cornbread in the honey is well worth the effort. I went with the classic brisket. It was very moist and tender, a real treat. And this is my portion of the excellent creme brulee.