Search This Blog

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Cheese Curds. Yes, again

where cheese curds come from

I realized after re-reading my post, Curds are King in July I didn't actually tell you where to get the best cheese curds. They can be found at the Ellsworth, Wisconsin Co-op Creamery. If you click the link, they have the creamery's history as well as a link to order (they ship anywhere is the US) and a phone number in case you want to call and talk about those chocolate cheese curds they mention on their website. When you call, be sure to listen for the lovely Wisconsin accent, yaa!

As long as we're on the subject of cheese I'll tell you also about Wisconsin Cheese Mart. Go to them for all your other cheese needs. Chocolate cheese (it's becoming a trend!), cheese in the shape of a mug of beer, cheese in the shape of a cow, or if you just can't decide which cheese is best, one of these


The WCM website is packed with cheese info. like, how long your cheeses can be stored, the proper temperature, and what can be done with cheese that has become moldy. WCM also has a wonderful German Foods (Deutches Essen) section: mustards, muesli, cookies, spaetzle. The only thing I might pass up would be the Celery Salad. Product Description: This fine sour salad of Hengstenberg is and easy Snack alternative for in between meals.

That's ok, everyone knows cheese is the only snack alternative that's worth mentioning.

Technorati tags +++++

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Bacon Chocolate Bar and Bacon Extras

I first heard about bacon infused chocolate at Food Chronicles ~ Back of the House. I was instantly intrigued, as I'm sure you are!

I read more about it here.
Their sentiments are mine exactly: the mad, dangerous, lovely chocolatiers of Vosges Haute Chocolat have seen fit to bestow upon the world a bacon candy bar.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Said bar consists of applewood smoked bacon, alder smoked salt, deep milk chocolate, and the contents of every fever dream I've had since young girlhood.

The Bacon Exotic Candy Bar is currently sold out on the Vosges website, but I, for one fully intend to press my nose up against my monitor until they're back in stock.

That blog also features a few more stories on lovely bacon flavored foods (i.e. bacon cotton candy!) so check them out.

A blog named Holy Shitake has a bacon post that requires mentioning because I have been thinking about this recipe since I first read it two years ago.

Okay well, as long as I'm on a bacon roll, I give you this website. Weird Meat "documents experiences eating strange food, as I travel around the world. What is weird to one, is normal to another. I want to find out why. Includes articles, travel stories, photos." Some highlights from weird meat (and I assure you I found no low lights) include Deep Fried Sand Worms in China and Hermaphrodite Frog Guts (he explains it's like a sweet soup) also in China. There are many more foods and many more countries and just so you know, this blog spurred me to purchase Crocodile Jerky on my recent trip to Florida though I haven't yet been brave enough to try it. True, WeirdMeat Blog doesn't include bacon so what is it doing as part of this post? I have no idea, so there.

I'm a little tired, so sue me.

Technorati tags +++++

Thursday, November 29, 2007

November's Cupcake Hero: Cranberry

Cupcake Hero is the fun, current obsession of slush at quirky cupcake. Apparently I have been missing out on a Blog Challenge that is right up my alley*. I needed to get back to baking on a grander scale (meaning, I'm getting bored with baking the same cakes day after week at the W-place) and this is a cupcake fanatic's dream come true! slush does all the work coming up with a theme and all I have to do is hop on that bandwagon and ride it all the way to Tasty Town.

slush: Now if your new to Cupcake Hero, each month a theme ingredient is named. The theme ingredient must be used in either the cupcake, the frosting, the filling or all of the above if you choose. Come on, it doesnt get easier than that, you know your going to be baking anyway!

The theme ingredient for November is: CRANBERRY

If you want to participate, send your cupcakery to superslush AT by November 30.

Your blog name and URL*
Link to your Cupcake Hero entry
Picture of your cupcakery (200 to 250 width is preferred)
Remember: The theme ingredient, cranberry, must be used in the cake, frosting or filling.

I heard about this event just in the nick of time on IMBB.

PumpCran Cupcake
Cranberry Hero: Grommie Style

Pumpkin Cupcakes Studded with Cranberries

3 oz. sweetened, dried cranberries
1 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
9 oz. unsalted butter (2 sticks plus 1 tablespoon)
15 oz. light brown sugar
0.25 oz. salt (2 large pinches)
15 oz. cake flour
2 teaspons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3 whole eggs
2 egg whites
2/3 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 1/4 cup applesauce (pref. Granny Smith or homemade)
1/3 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 385 degrees. Place the dried cranberries, orange juice and 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a small sauce pan. Simmer gently until orange juice is reduced by half (12 - 15 minutes) and cranberries are very plump. Let cool slightly.
Cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Combine dry ingredients: salt, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, remaining cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside. To the creamed mixture, add eggs and egg whites and beat well. Scrape the bowl and beat again. Gently mix in 1/3 of the dry ingredients and add the pumpkin and applesauce. Mix in another 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then the milk and the remaining dry ingredients. Then gently mix in the reconstituted cranberries and reduced orange juice.
Fill baking cups to 2/3 full and bake 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool and brush tops with No Sugar Added cranberry juice. Top with Cranberry Spice Buttercream (recipe below) and garnish with dried cranberries.

PumpCran Cup2

Cranberry Spice Buttercream

1/2 cup No Sugar Added cranberry juice
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup pasteurized egg whites (Whippin’ Whites or Eggology),
warmed to room temp.
1 pound unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
A quick splash of vanilla extract
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
3 drops neon pink food color

In a small cooking pot, stir together juice and sugar. Bring to a boil and using a pastry brush and water, wash down the sides of pan to remove any crystals. Do NOT stir again.

Boil 4 minutes then beat egg whites to stiff peaks.
With the mixer running, slowly pour the cooked syrup into the whites.
Beat at high speed until the bowl is cool to the touch (about 10 minutes).
Slowly add the butter and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. Then add the pumpkin pie spice and food color.

This is a very mild-flavored cupcake and kind of a nice change after all of the bold flavors of Thanksgiving. If my stomach wouldn't protest, I could easily eat 3 or 4 of these at a time.

Originally, I was thinking of using a Brown Sugar Icing that I found here. However, I never did get the hang of this icing and fell back on my old stand-by, Buttercream. If you're not up to the challenge of making your own Buttercream, just mix up a batch of American Buttercream and in place of the milk, use the cranberry juice I mentioned.

*I'm great at thinking up recipes but suffer to think up a reason to bake them (dopey, huh?!?) now I just need to find someone to eat them all.

Technorati tags +++++

Monday, November 12, 2007

Q and A -- Gritwurst

Normally, I save my Q and A for the Ask A Pastry Chef blog however, since this question has more to do with meat than pastry, I'll post it here.

A question from Ankeny, Iowa via Google search: How do you make Gritwurst?

Unless you are of German heritage and have a background of farm living, you're probably not familiar with Gritwurst. I am lucky to be of German heritage and to have family that grew up in the country where they used every part of an animal and learned to enjoy such delicacies. Despite some descriptions, Gritwurst (sometimes known as Gritzwurst or Grutzwurst) is not head cheese, though both are made with meat from the hog's head.

I will admit I have never tried Gritwurst though in my defense, it has been quite a number of years since I have been around when my family has made it. After re-reading the recipe I think it actually sounds kind of tasty. I would have to make alterations of course unless I can create a list of reasons to invest in a meat grinder.

Here is my Great Grandmother's recipe with some clarifications,


9 to 10 pounds hog's head meat (pork shoulder or roast may be used instead of head)
4 to 5 pounds steel cut oats
1 heaping tablespoon pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons allspice
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
3 to 4 tablespoons salt

In a large cooking pot, cover meat with water and cook about 2 hours. Add some salt while cooking. Remove meat from the pot and strain stock. Cool slightly and remove meat from the bones and grind meat. Return the strained stock to a boil and add oats. Steam until soft and thick. Mix in spices and ground meat. Form the mixture into patties or place in a large cake pan or roaster and allow to cool overnight then cut into squares. Fry patties or squares in a bit of oil.

Gritwurst is often eaten for breakfast and according to my mother and aunties it's best when crispy.

I have a cookbook with recipes from the Depression Era which contains a recipe for Venison Gritwurst. It is basically the same with half of the pork replaced with venison. Additionally, marjoram, thyme, and allspice are added in place of the cinnamon, etc. This recipe says the they can be served with jelly, honey or pancake syrup, as a sandwich filling or side dish at any meal.

Patties or squares can be wrapped tightly and frozen before frying.

I called my mother before posting this and she excitedly asked if I was going to make Gritwurst! I may... and I may let her help.

Update: In an email from one of my aunties, "Thanks for sending me to your blog. Yup. I had not looked for a while so it was fun to catch up. I just have a couple of comments on the gritwurst. The last times I made it I had the butcher grind up the pork for me and justcooked it like ground beef for sloppy joes. It made the whole thing very simple and also made it easy to drain off much of the fat. When I cook itfor eating, I just throw it in a pan loose and brown it good. I, too, like it crispy but it is greasy. It is really important to use steelcut oats.They can be found in health food stores if nowhere else. Makes me think I need to whip up a batch."

Technorati tags +++++

Monday, November 05, 2007

Caught on the Green Carpet

Even though creating 400 desserts for the Girl Scouts Green Carpet event seemed like a daunting task when I thought about it as a whole, once I broke it down into its parts: testing several recipes to see which was the easiest to perform and the best tasting, computing the total amount of ingredients I would need to reach completion, buying the ingredients and table decorations (this was the killer! as the whole event was a donation), making and canning the Fabulous Lady Applesauce, mixing and baking the Apple Dancers Cupcakes, mixing and icing with the Peanut Butter Buttercream, arriving at the Green Carpet event on time and setting up my table to serve the 400 curious guests... it was quite uh, I won't say fun because it was too much work to really be fun but it was certainly something I could do again. If asked by the Girl Scouts to do it again, I would likely say, 'no' simply because of the cost.

I do have to give a giant Thank You to Girl Scout Mom, Sally for stepping up to help me bake the cupcakes. With her help, I was able to mix the batter, fill and bake the cupcakes and get them boxed, waiting to be iced in 6 hours. My workplace was mighty generous in allowing us to bake and store the cupcakes until the event also.

Before I launch into the recipes, let me describe the cupcakes a little. They are made with homemade applesause, cinnamon, and crushed Do-si-dos Girl Scout Cookies as well as a whole Do-si-do hidden in the middle of the cupcake. Upon baking, the whole Do-si-do (which is the oatmeal and peanut butter sandwich cookie) becomes softened just a little bit... enough so it isn't a crunch when biting through the cupcake but it doesn't dissolve either. I topped the cupcake with a light Peanut Butter Buttercream. I didn't want the delicate flavor of the applesauce and cinnamon of the cupcake to be completely masked by overpowering PB.

When I wrote the recipes to be submitted to Girl Scouts, I knew they would be printed for everyone attending the event so I wanted the recipes to be simple enough for folks who loved the cupcakes but don't necessarily have the time, energy, patience to make everything from scratch so shortcuts are listed in the recipe.

Apple Dancers Cupcakes

2 sticks (1/2 lb.) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 whole eggs
1 egg white
3 1/2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups Lady Apple sauce (recipe follows)
1 1/2 cups milk
2 boxes plus 6 additional Do-Si-Do (Peanut Butter Sandwich) Girl Scout Cookies, divided

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and prepare muffin pans with 48 paper baking cups.

Crush 6 Do-Si-Do Girl Scout Cookies to very fine crumbs then add flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg; stir to combine and set aside. Cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl and add eggs. Stir in half of the dry mixture then add the Lady Apple sauce (or pre-packaged, unsweetened Granny Smith apple sauce). Add remaining dry ingredients and milk. Mix gently until just combined.

Place one tablespoon of cake batter into the bottom of each baking cup. Top with 1 whole Do-Si-Do Girl Scout Cookie. Fill baking cup to 2/3 full with remaining batter.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Allow cupcakes to cool in the pan.

When cupcakes are cool, top with 2 tubs of vanilla frosting mixed with 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter or use your stand mixer to make real Peanut Butter Buttercream (recipe follows).

Makes 48 cupcakes.

Peanut Butter Buttercream

Scant 1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup pasteurized egg whites (Whippin’ Whites or Eggology),
warmed to room temp.
1 pound unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
1 cup creamy peanut butter

In a small cooking pot, stir together water and sugar. Bring to a boil and using a pastry brush and water, wash down the sides of pan to remove any crystals. Do NOT stir again.

Boil 4 minutes then beat egg whites to stiff peaks.
With the mixer running, slowly pour the syrup into the whites.
Beat at high speed until the bowl is cool to the touch (about 10 minutes).
Slowly add the butter and then the peanut butter. Beat until light and fluffy.

Fabulous Lady Apple Sauce

6 Pink Lady Apples
2 or 3 Granny Smith Apples
1/4 cup Unsweetened Apple Juice

Slice each apple into 6 or 8 pieces (no need to peel or core apples) and place into a 4 quart cooking pot with a lid. Add apple juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally until apples are very soft. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. (For the next part you need a food mill. You can still find them in most kitchenware stores and they are not too expensive.) Place the food mill over a large bowl that will hold it steady. Spoon the apple mush into the mill and turn it, pushing the pulp through the mill as you turn, once in a while giving the crank a backward spin. Keep turning the mill until you get all the pulp out of the apple skins and they look dry in the bottom of the mill; this is what makes your sauce thick. You may need to scrape the sides of the food mill once or twice with a rubber spatula, and scrape underneath at the very end.

This is a very healthy treat and it tastes better than any packaged applesauce you’ve ever tried
and it’s easier than it sounds!

Store covered in the refrigerator. (
I processed mine the old fashioned way.)
Makes 2 pints.

Here are more photos of the event. Some are mine and some are from the Girl Scouts website.

Here is CheesePuff and my table set up at the event. This girl deserves a medal for how patient she was with me stressing-out during setup. (note how frightened she looks)

Green Carpet sponsors

The most important sponsor (if you can't quite read it, it lists me as Fabulous CheeseBabe!)

All the chefs from the event.
That's me in front of Duff Goldman from Ace of Cakes. His Food Network TV crew was with him throughout the event and portions of the event may appear on a show in January. I doubt they filmed me at any point.

A few more if you're really into looking at me....
Puff and CheeseBabe
At work
Throng of people looking for cupcakes.

Technorati tags +++++

Monday, October 29, 2007

Girl Scouts Cupcakes

Apple Dancers Cupcake
Originally uploaded by Grommie CheeseBabe

The Girl Scouts of Central Maryland called me a few months back and asked if I would be interested in creating a dessert using Girl Scout Cookies for a Green Carpet (similar to a Red Carpet in Hollywood, but with Girl Scouts it's all green green green) Event. Of course I was excited to help out the Girl Scouts and as for creating something new?... of course that would be fun for me! They told me that they would send me boxes of Girl Scout cookies to test with and more information later. Cool! I thought.

Then I began to receive information about the Green Carpet Event (it wasn't something I was familiar with previously) and I find out that the event is for 400 people. Uh... ok... I'm thinking maybe they have Pastry Chefs from all over the area participating and I'll only have to send in a few dozen of whatever dessert I decide upon.

Oh no.

No, they need me to supply an entire 400 individual servings so that each person will be able to taste every dessert if they want. Not only that but I also need to have decorations to go along with their theme of 'Hollywood Glamor'.

After much planning, testing and cookie tasting, I came up with the loveliest apple and peanut butter cupcakes you could possibly imagine. Costly? For a large event as this, yes, but I am one who subscribes to the thought that when you use the highest quality ingredients, you're going to acheive the highest quality product. The cupcakes that I served to those Green Carpet guests will not soon be forgotten.

I was told during the event that my cupcakes were definitely the highlight. I hope that's true for many of the folks in attendance and I hope this cupcake is the start of my next career move (if any!).

Recipes to follow

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Curds are king in July

Finally, a month for cheese curd fans to call their own.

The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB) has unofficially declared July as curd month. It’s gratifying to realize what has sometimes been described as the lowly curd is getting high-level recognition, at long last. A recent WMMB news release about the announcement appropriately uses words like “delicious” and acknowledges “the insatiable appetite locals have for these delectable treats…”

But the praise falls a bit short. The promotional agency apparently regards cheese curds as a “regional delicacy” or a “Wisconsin craze.” Those in-the-know would argue their popularity extends beyond Dairyland’s borders. Just ask officials from the Ellsworth Co-op Creamery or Kaufhold’s Kurds here to learn the two businesses’ curd products are gaining a more widespread reputation, even nationally.

And that brings to mind another slight in the release. Nowhere does it credit Ellsworth as the “Cheese Curd Capital,” a place right on home turf deserving of a salute for shining the spotlight on curds. Although the WMMB boasts a curd guide on the website , which details where to find fresh curds on a map, that leaves the local community little more than another blip on curd seekers’ radar.

Agency leaders are evidently coming from a different perspective than the curd capital faithful. They find it necessary in the release to explain cheese curds are “about the size of shell peanuts. They’re available in plain or flavored varieties and feature a mild, milky, salty flavor with the same firmness as mild Cheddar cheese, but with a more springy texture.

“Ideally, curds are eaten when fresh—within hours of manufacture. Fresh cheese curds can be identified by their ‘squeak’ against the teeth when chewed and are often referred to as ‘squeaky cheese.’ Curds that are a couple of days old are considered ‘aged’ and might have lost their squeak. For a temporary ‘squeak renewal,’ simply heat your curds in a microwave for a couple of seconds…”

“Their slightly salty flavor make Wisconsin cheese curds an excellent accompaniment to pale ales and lagers, or to popular snacking favorites such as pretzels and nuts. Cheese curds can also be used in place of cubed cheese atop salads or alternated on skewers with fresh fruit for fun summertime kabobs.”

So others are discovering what this area’s natives have long known about the tiny, but mighty curds, and that’s a positive development. Hopefully, their newfound enthusiasm will bring a bigger following into the fold. If all of dairying can be proud of a traditional month-long tribute in June, backers of the little cheese curd-that-could can certainly do likewise in July.

*From the Pierce County Herald

Technorati tags ++++

Monday, April 16, 2007

Tasty Local Fare

It seems like everybody is on the Eat Local bandwagon these days. I live in the suburbs so eating locally mostly means eating what I'm able grow in my own little garden.

Future Harvest is helping out folks like myself who would like to learn more about the food produced in the Chesapeake Bay Area.

A Taste of Spring

Join us for an evening of fresh, locally grown food, brought to you by Maryland and Virginia farmers who have embraced environmentally sound methods.

• Fine foods prepared by Baltimore chefs John Shields of Gertrude's and Ned Atwater of Atwater's Bakery

• Local wine from Maryland’s oldest winery, Boordy Vineyard

• Local farmers discussing the benefits of eating locally and their keys to success

• The musical stylings of Todd Clewell and Barb Schmid, members of the trio, Late for Supper. Clewell, from Felton, Pa., sings and plays guitar, mandolin and fiddle; Schmid, of Hampstead, Md., plays fiddle and sings. Together, they perform bluegrass, folk, 50's, originals, gospel and more.

• An auction of unusual food and farm-related items

Help support local farmers as well as Future Harvest! Don’t miss our Taste of Spring fund-raising event at Boordy Vineyard in Baltimore County, Md. We'll showcase the efforts of area farmers in a festive celebration of spring!

Tickets cost $45 and will go on sale in mid-April.

Taste of Spring

6 to 9 p.m., Thursday, May 31

Boordy Vineyard, 12820 Long Green Pike, Hydes, Md.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Bakery News

The holidays are over and New Years' resolutions are kicking in and out all over. Business at the bakery has been slow due to Diet resolutions and after a busy holiday season, a little slowdown is welcome. If history repeats itself, the next couple of weeks will see local folks slowly coming off their diets and indulging in chocolate cakes through Valentine's Day, after which we will gear up for Easter.

Historically, before we are fully enmeshed in chocolate ganache cakes (doesn't that sound like fun??) we have at least one full week where customers are clamoring for carrot cake. Nevermind that our carrot cakes are slathered with cream cheese icing, those carrots are healthy, right? Isn't it amazing what we can convince ourselves of as being healthy?

I learned a long time ago not to make New Year's resolutions since I never keep them anyway. However, despite not making formal resolutions, I often think there are things about myself that I could and should improve, particularly after the holiday season indulgences I can usually stand to eat healthier and hopefully lose a little girth in the process. That in mind, don't expect to see any new gross candy reviews, at least for a little while (they're still lurking around, believe me). I also realize that with all of my personal health concerns, eating a balanced diet and exercising semi-regularly makes me feel better and I have more energy so I'm not doing things like falling alseep in the car while waiting for CheesePuff to emerge from school.

I know there are a lot of folks out there who love reading diet blogs but I'm not one of them and I don't wish to write a diet blog (how many different ways could I write about a green salad with fat free dressing, anyway?). I will however, share future food adventures that I feel are tasty and interesting enough to write about.

Two foods I tried recently that fit in with this new, healthier eating plan include Cedar's Taboule (some folks call it, tabbouleh) and Kashi Cinnamon Harvest cereal.

My biggest food weakness is for dips and snack foods. I tried Cedar's Taboule with Stacy's Pita chips (though I have to be careful and only allow myself a small portion of the chips because I can eat the whole bag). This satisfies my snack craving and keeps me away from the more oil-laden snack chips. As an alternative, I also mix in 1/4 of cubed avocado to the Taboule for added healthy fats.

Kashi is dedicated to improving the way we eat and I have been very impressed with the Kashi foods I've tried. You can visit Kashi's website to learn more about them and join their community to win Kashi food products. A year's supply of free food? I'm in!