Gareiss Landhaus

I routinely joke about Formichella’s being the Italian restaurant I’ll open someday. This weekend I added Gareiss Landaus, my someday maybe German restaurant, to the joking at dinner time.

During my several trips to Germany, a few foods have become favorites. The cucumber salad is something I can’t seem to pass up regardless of what else is on the menu. For the entrees, anything with the mushroom sauce was inevitably my selection whether it was beef, pork, venison or wild boar. The sauce was always delicious on both the meat and the spätzle, a cross between a noodle (size & shape) and dumpling (dough and preparation). A favorite after dinner is a shot of schnaps, typically obstbrand (made with fruit rather than grain).

So on to dinner… Believe it or not, there were still tomatoes to be found at the farmers market, so I added a beefsteak slice to the gurkensalat (cucumber salad with onion and dill).


It was a beautiful day, so the main course all went on the grill. On the main rack, I made schweinekotelette (pork chops) with dunkel champignonsosse mit pfifferlinge (mushroom brown sauce with chanterelles). There is just something peaceful and relaxing about stirring a sauce and getting lost in your thoughts with a drink in your hand… but I digress. For the vegetable, I borrowed from one of the tapas at Cerulean and put a German twist on it – spargle mit schwarzwalder schinken und Manchego käse (asparagus wrapped in Black Forest ham and Manchego cheese). Instead of spätzle, I made bratkartoffeln (potatoes and onions in butter) grilled in a foil pack on the top rack of the grill.


I finished the meal with a shot of obstbrand from apple, pear and cherry that was a gift from my good friends, Andi & Denise.



I think I’ll be enjoying a few more German meals in the near future – prost!

Learning to Cook German Food

I’ve enjoyed some great German food during my several trips there over the past few years. I decided to learn to cook some of my favorites at home. To start the process, I checked out for some German cookbooks and found several good used books.

Three of them came this week:

This one is from 1967 and looks to be a good one.

This one is from 1965 and is the best 1 of the 3 so far.

Really nice photos but not many recipes and nothing on to-do list.

I’m expecting these two next week:

Next up… my first dinner trying out a few new things…

It’s Pickling Time!!!

I got so excited about the prospect of this year’s first pickles that I took pictures to share.  I suppose if you aren’t a pickle fanatic like me, this post won’t be too exciting.  At least the pictures are nice… and I used a picture of the dill as my iPhone wallpaper which is cool (if you are a food ‘n tech geek).

IMG_2266First cucumbers of the year 🙂IMG_2270Grape leaves in the bottom of the crockIMG_2273Dill flowersIMG_2274Garlic, onion, pepper and seasoningsIMG_2276Cucumbers on top of all the goodiesIMG_22772 quarts of 5% brineIMG_2279A bowl weight to keep the cucumbers submerged while they ferment.

And now the hard part… wait a couple weeks for them to ferment… I can’t wait!

A Farewell Dinner

Bitter sweet occasion for a meal… Natalia went home to her family in Mexico after graduating from WCHS.  Spencer asked me to cook dinner for them and to share a farewell dinner with them say goodbye to Natalia.  It’s not often your teenager and his girlfriend actually want you around!

IMG_2258Caprese saladIMG_2261Salad with baguette and dipping oilIMG_2262Pan seared chicken breast and fettucine alfredo with snap peas and pancettaIMG_2263Black and red raspberry vanilla whipped cream parfait

Wine Party 2014

While the majority of the drunken debauchery can’t be shared online, the gluttony certainly can… so I thought I’d share the six course meal that accompanied all the wine.

In keeping with tradition, the first course was the charcuterie board.  The main courses were gyros, scallops, pork tenderloin and ribeye.  Again in keeping with tradition, the dessert course was chocolate fondue.

The day prior I made the gyro loaf, apricot habenero glaze and tzatziki sauce.

IMG_1812Gyro loaf seasonings

IMG_1815Gyro loaf formed in the loaf panIMG_1826Gyro loaf baked in a water bath, drained and pressedIMG_1829Apricots for jamIMG_1832Shallots and habeneros for the glazeIMG_1860Tzatziki sauce ready for stirring

The day of I made sourdough baguettes for the charcuterie board just before the guests arrived.  All else was done live with no commercial breaks or food magically appearing from backstage.

IMG_1868Ribeyes salted and peppered about and hour and a half ahead of grill timeIMG_1875The Charcuterie Board with Orange Fennel Loin, Spicy Coppa, Salami Picante and Mushroom Salami accompanied by a few cheeses included homemade goat cheeses.
IMG_1879Gyro loaf and onions being sautéed and held on the hot skillet for servingIMG_1880Gyro buffet serviceIMG_1882Enormous scallops from Noa NoaIMG_1883Scallops searing in butterIMG_1886Scallop skewers with apricot habenero glaze and bacon bits
IMG_1890I finally got to use my pig plate 🙂IMG_1891Grilled pork tenderloin and pineappleIMG_1892Plated with a little extra homemade teriyaki sauce
IMG_1896Mushrooms ready to be sautéedIMG_1902Bone-in ribeyes resting before being slicedIMG_1903Sliced ribeyes with bones on the side and the sautéed mushrooms.  Also in the background is my first ever purchased magnum bottle of wine: 1.5L of Trefethen Cabernet.
IMG_1905Chocolate fondue in the makingIMG_1906While the assorted fruit is a tradition I could carry on, the flaming of the fruit is reserved for Craig only.  Partly out of respect and partly out of fear of burning my own house down.

General consensus is that the scallops were the highlight of the evening.  The gyros were noteworthy for the homemade loaf which is about as sexy as homemade meatloaf gets.  The mushrooms were talked about more than the ribeyes, which made me laugh… maybe the wine was talking by then.  The pork and pineapple turned out very well but suffered from an “I can make that at home” lack of mystique that the other dishes possessed.

And that’s it for this year.  We’ll see what the next wine party inspires…

North Carolina Style Whole Hog Roast

Time to get caught up on the blog…

Memorial Day Weekend aka the Annual Race Day Picnic was the occasion for my first whole hog roast.  If I rewind nearly 20 years to the fall of 1994 (man, I’m old…), there’s a picture of me somewhere in overalls with a red sleeveless flannel shirt and cowboy boots in front of my hog roaster made from an a repurposed fuel oil tank.  Parke, my fraternity brother, and I brought a live pig to the fraternity house and killed, skinned, and quartered it right there on the spot.  Allegedly, the head was placed in the landscaping at Lincoln Quad (where the ISU sororities were) next to the bushes and flowers amongst the mulch….allegedly.  We wrapped the quarters in foil with sauce and onions and roasted for a few hours for the homecoming party.  Good times and good food!

Back to present day… I read a lot.  OK, so I let narrators read audiobooks to me a lot.  I read Cooked by Michael Pollan and was intrigued by the section on North Carolina whole hog barbecue.  It is my responsibility to feed those attending the Annual Race Day Party, and I chose to shamelessly use them as an excuse to try my hand at a whole hog.

I decided that a good old fashioned hole in the ground would be fitting for the event.  It also happened to be a great excuse to rent a backhoe… because who doesn’t want to play with a backhoe?!


I dug a fire pit to the left to burn wood down to coals for use in the hog pit on the right.  At this point Craig joined the fun to play with fire.  We burned wood in the hog pit to get a base of coals there, too.  And to dry it out… turns out the water table is kinda high here… it’s the little details that always get you when you try crazy things like this…


We decided that putting the pig on around midnight would work out about right for the intended meal time the next day.  The star of the show was an 80-90lb pig from Gunthorp Farms in LaGrange, IN.  The pig was cleaned and the hair removed.  The only butcher prep work to be done was splitting the spine with the cleaver so the front legs would splay.  After that, the sum total of our chef duties was to liberally salt with kosher salt.  I think this little piggy will flavor itself just fine!

IMG_1554IMG_1556Snug as a pig in a pit… not quite the same ring as snug as a bug in a rug… but pigs taste WAY better than bugs.


Jack volunteered to guard the pig pit in hopes that it would try to escape and he could eat it.


The next morning (after perhaps a beer or two and adding coals every few hours), we woke up to check on the progress, flip the pig and baste with the sauce (vinegar, salt, sugar, pepper and hot sauce).


And after about 12 hours in the sauna, it was time to pull and chop…


The wash cloths were to keep the sweat out of the food… this is not a fashion statement!

IMG_1574IMG_1576Chef’s privilege… tasting and feeding the sous chef aka chopper.  Craig made cracklins on the grill with the skin for tasty crunchy bits in the chopped pork sandwiches.


Jack and Razz volunteered for bone removal duties…


I filled an entire 28-quart cooler with chopped pork.  More than enough to feed the 20 or so people and send everyone home with too much left over pork.

Oh… and… it was absolutely DELICIOUS!!!! Tons of fun, good eating and huge success by all standards.  Maybe I should buy my own backhoe and put more pigs in the woods… you know… just in case 😉



Father & Son Bonding — Spencer’s Dinner Date

Spencer asked to have his girlfriend Natalya over for dinner for her birthday.  And asked if I’d help him cook her dinner.  Like father, like son!  She likes shrimp so we decided on the house favorite, tomato cream sauce with pancetta and shrimp.  Bread and salad would round out dinner.  For dessert, we’d pick up a red velvet cake for two from the store.

I made an Italian herb sourdough ahead of time…


Oil in the bottom of the dutch oven

After the rise, sprinkled with Himalayan rock salt and rosemary, scored with an “N”IMG_0741

After the first 30 minutes at 450°F with the lid onIMG_0744

After another 10 minutes at 325°F with the lid off

I prepped for the pasta to make it a little easier on my chef-in-training under pressure with an audience.  He made the salad on his own, also ahead of time.

IMG_0756IMG_0758With Natalya seated at the bar in front of the stove, Spencer assumed the helm.  He started with house made pancetta dice in the skillet to render off some of the fat and to brown the pancetta.

IMG_0757IMG_0762Next up, he sautéed the garlic cloves in the rendered pancetta fat.  From there, he added the tomatoes, beef broth and herbs & spices.

IMG_0761IMG_0763He let the sauce reduce and boiled water for the pasta and the shrimp.  While we waited on the water, we whipped the heavy cream to give the sauce that airy silky texture.  We went for the 16-20 count raw deveined tail on shrimp for the special occasion.  Here he is dropping the shrimp in the water.

IMG_0765After the shrimp just cooked through, we drained them and ran cold water over them to chill them and drained again.  He put a ladle of the tomato sauce over the shrimp to hold them over until time to serve.


About 3 minutes before the pasta was done, he stirred in the butter, then the whipped heavy cream, and finally the grated parmesan.  Pasta was drained and combined with finished sauce.  For the plating, a piece of butter bread, pasta topped with pancetta, shrimp and fresh grated parmesan and dash of crushed red pepper.

Dinner plated and ready to enjoy!

Natalya ready to eat and probably ready to be done with my picture takingIMG_0778Spencer serving saladIMG_0784The cute couple ready to dive in to the red velvet cake for two

Proud moment for dad watching his son grow into a fondness for cooking, chivalry and romance.  I’m clearly not the perfect father or role model, but at least some of the good parts are rubbing off on the kid!  Perhaps there is hope for him yet!

Sugar Cured Hams

I discovered sugar cured ham last year in an experiment with one of my 4 hams.  It made an impression… I made 4 sugar cured hams this year!  I hope you enjoy the journey…

December 14, 2013: butchered the pigs with Craig and Marc


The pigs hung in the cooler overnight, were butchered the next day, and the hams were rubbed and hung the next day.



The hams were rubbed with salt, sugar, black and red pepper and Instacure #2.  I got the recipe from my mother-in-law, and a nearly identical version along with some instructions can be found on the Missouri Extension website.

I let the hams cure for 10 weeks… until February 23, 2014.  On that Sunday, I unwrapped the hams and gave them a light brush off.



I put them on the smoker for about 2 hours over hickory.  Just enough to get some good aroma and color.

IMG_0679IMG_0682IMG_0686Last year, I cut them after curing.  I smoked the hock and the rump roast.  I sliced the center section into 1-pound packages for pan frying.  This year, as you can see, I smoked all four hams whole.  I am also taking another leap into the unknown.  After having dry aged the prime rib and cured and aged the various salumi and schinken, I figured I could age my hams.  I’ve read about Virginia hams that get smoked in an outdoor smoke house and aged outside (but still inside the smoke house) year round for 3 years!  I’ll age one for 5 weeks until March 29 when the in-laws will get a nice surprise.  I’ll age another for 8 weeks until April 20 when I’ll roast part of one for Easter (the hock and center slices will get put in the freezer that weekend).  The other two will age for 6 months until August 24.  Not exactly a 3-year old funky Virginia country ham, but I feel pretty adventurous with my plans.

Hams hanging in the garage in front of the wine cabinet



Schwarzwälder Schinken

Also known as Black Forest Ham… but this is NOT the stuff at the deli.  This is the cured, brined, smoked and dried version made in the Black Forest area of Germany.  I dried one in the open air and dried one in an UMAi dry bag for comparison’s sake.

IMG_3401The dry bags worked very well with the salami and rib roast as both were raw.  I don’t think they are really necessary for the ham due to the heavy smoking.

IMG_3405About the only difference is the fact that the open air piece is still smooth where the dry bag piece has a wrinkled appearance from the bag bonding to the meat before drying and shrinking.

IMG_3409The first of four sections sliced – beautiful color

IMG_3410The taste test slice

I forgot how much I love the smokiness of this cured meat.  Reminds me of islay scotch… it’s the smokiest scotch I’ve had, and, although many don’t like it, I seem to have a fondness for the smoky aroma and flavor.  I need to get another bottle and see how the scotch and ham pair together.

IMG_34144 end pieces and 4 center pieces

Anyone for a charcuterie board? Come on over!


Dry Aged Prime Rib – Part II

Well the Superbowl didn’t quite turn out how I expected, but dinner was an unqualified success!  I pulled the roast out of the refrigerator at 2pm to rest at room temperature for an hour and preheated the oven to 450° F.  The roast went in at that temp at 3:00 PM for 15 minutes to get things going.

IMG_3359Starting to brown after 15 minutes at 450° F

I turned the oven down to 250° F and let it roast until 4:45 PM.  With the roast in the oven, I selected my wine.  I decided on a bottle of Australian shiraz that had aged a bit and would hopefully be nice & smooth.

IMG_3363 I decanted the wine at 3:30 PM to let it open up for a good 2 hours.  I was pleasantly surprised with a great match for the roast and an incredibly smooth wine for a $20 bottle that I’d tucked away about 8 years ago.

Guests arrived and the big reveal was upon us.  I pulled the roast out of the oven to rest to lots of oohs and aahs.

IMG_3364Resting before carving

I let it rest for 20 minutes while the potatoes, peas and salad were finished.  After resting, I cut the roast off the rack whole and then separated the ribs for extra treats for men at the table.  The center was a nice medium rare with the end slices at medium for those a little less excited about their food mooing at them.



The first slice with separated ribs

I carved and plated with sautéed mushrooms, horseradish, au jus and a choice of truffle butter or porcini butter.  Table service isn’t quite up to white tablecloth fancy restaurant status with all the separate dishes – we piled everything but the salad on our dinner plates and feasted!

IMG_3369Dinner is served!

I should’ve taken a picture before the mushrooms, truffle butter and bonus rib treat, but alas I forgot.  At that point, I wasn’t thinking clearly… I had that little cartoon bubble above my head with the cartoon picture of a slab of meat.

So… was it all worth it? ABSOLUTELY!!!  The meaty flavor was so concentrated and intense that the rib roast i fixed for Christmas tasted bland by comparison.  I don’t think I will fix anything but a dry aged prime rib again.  I will most certainly pre-plan for a few for dinner events each year.  The 10lb roast is perfect for 6-8 people… who’s up for the next feast?