Archive for August 15, 2008
Bratwurst may not be one of my favorite foods, but once a year, maybe twice, I will eat a bratwurst. Others simply adore it, and of course, I do not blame them in the least. Really good bratwurst is a treasure to behold. And it has become quite popular in certain sport’s stadiums and arenas.
Back in the days, during the mid-1970′s, I fondly recall a restaurant by the name of Luchos located in downtown NYC when is was at its glory best. Around Christmas time, the workers of Luchos would somehow place what looked like a thirty foot tall Christmas Tree into the center of their restaurant completely decorated with an unlimited amount of gorgeous ornaments and lights.
This over-decorated tree would be somehow stuffed into a small vaulted glass area in the center of this very large restaurant. As a child, I always wondered how the heck did they even get this tree stuffed into the restaurant to begin with, let alone decorate it to the hilt and all the way to the top mind you, when there was barely any room in the restaurant to begin with.
The line to get into this ever so popular restaurant literally went around the corner and down the city street. It would easily take families and people in line at least three hours to get inside the restaurant. You can equate this experience with having the chance to be sitting next to the Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree and eating your favorite bratwurst dinner in all its glory.
The restaurant was partly owned by the Reese Organization, also known during this time as the Reece Brothers, who would ‘give out’ special credit cards once a year to only a select few business people associated with their businesses, i.e. Realtors, Contractors, etc. My father had one of these special credit cards for a short time.
The cards would allow the meals to be comped at any restaurant owned by the Reece Organization, not bad huh?!? The Reece Brothers also owned the restaurants in Madison Square Garden among other famous restaurants. They would later buy up the fast food Roy Rodger chains in NYC among many others. But this story is not about them.
These special gold credit cards though would only be good for one year. Another day I will share with you a story when my father’s partner try to pass on an ‘expired’ card which turned out to be an embarrassing situation. And I am not sure if the Reece Organization still does this sort of thing still, I highly doubt it very much.
As people sat around the tree and in other rooms of the restaurant, a musical group dressed in fashionable German costumes would proudly prance about with their musical instruments and play traditional Germanic songs while people stuffed themselves with over-sized plates of bratwurst at its best.
I only was at this restaurant one time, but the one time experience left a huge impact on me. As we walked passed all the people in line, then into the restaurant, passing another long line for at least another 40 feet we arrived at the Maitre’d's podium. My father showed the card, and off we sat at a table right next to the tree. I was of course slightly ashamed when I realized how we snuck by all the people who were waiting for their turn to sit down at this wonderful restaurant, and maybe this is why I am not a big bratwurst fan.
By putting my Chef Maven’s bratwurst’s history experience aside, here is one of the more popular ways to cook bratwurst the next time you are thinking of something different, Yah?, Yah!
- good quality bratwurst – 1 or 2 per person depending upon size
- good quality beer of your choice, mixing beers is good too.
- 1 large onion sliced
- large pot on top of stove filled with at least four beers and added water to cover bratwurst
- pre-heated grill
- Place bratwurst into pot, add beer, sliced onion and additional water to cover bratwurst.
- Turn on heat, and allow liquid to begin to boil, then lower heat and allow to simmer for 30 minutes, longer than that is even better.
- Once time is up, remove bratwurst and if you should so desire, slice them in half lengthwise and place on pre-heated grill, turning them over to brown up on all sides.
- Serve on rolls, by themselves with kicked up mustard, along with sauteed onions.
Let me know how some of you make your bratwurst, I am sure you have great ideas too! Let’s hear ‘em!
As a side note, I believe it was in the early 80′s when the Luchos restaurant moved uptown in NYC. It has never once been able to reclaim their status of the 60s and 70′s, like many restaurants which move from their original spots – sometimes change is not a good thing.
August 15th is National Lemon Meringue Pie – Whoo Hoo! I am in love!
Now this is a National Food Day Theme I have some experience with – ok my experience refers to eating and making these pies time and time again throughout my life. This amazing American pie is right behind the American apple pie, in my mind. These pies are available at any local diner with mile-high meringue, but they never really taste like the real thing. It is one of those pies that I never get tired of.
I have seen a lot of versions out there, but a recipe that doesn’t use lemon zest to me is really not a real lemon meringue pie – the added zest and fresh lemon juice with a little pulp really makes this pie truly tart and sweet simultaneously and after making few of these great pies you will see there really is no effort at all to making fantastic great authentic lemon meringue pie just like your grandmother used to bake for special occasions. I used to sell these at a restaurant I used to work in – I would go through 2 pies a night – we would never sell the pre-made stuff we bought from commercial bakeries no matter how hard we tried…this pie is THAT good
Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe
- 1 baked pie shell cooled
- ***For Pie Filling
- 3 large eggs separated (easier when done while eggs are still cold)
- 6 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 4 teaspoons grated lemon rind
- 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice with some pulp
- 1 cup white sugar for lemon filling
- 1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
- ***for meringue:
- 6 tablespoons of Super Fine white sugar for meringue
- dash of salt for meringue
- 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tarter – to stabilize egg whites
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract for meringue
- Equipment Needed:
- Double boiler, mix master such as kitchen aid or hand mixer, whisk
- To double boiler add all of the following: cornstarch, salt, 1/2 cup of the white sugar, mix till combined then add water and stir.
- Cook over boiling water until thick stirring constantly.
- Then cover with lid and let cook for ten minutes.
- Combine egg yolks and rest of sugar into a bowl – stir till combined and add a little of the hot mixture to the egg yolks to temper them. Then add egg yolks to hot mixture and stir.
- Turn off heat yet stir mixture for 2 minutes.
- Remove double boiler from hot water, and place on trivet or counter where it is safe. While still hot, stir in butter, lemon rind, lemon juice and pure lemon extract.
- Let cool to room temperature – without stirring and NEVER cool in fridge! Keep lid off so that steam can escape.
- Once cooled, pour into baked pie shell and cover with meringue. Make sure all mixture is covered with the meringue – and place on the middle rack of your oven about 15 minutes at 325 degrees or until the meringue is lightly browned. Serve it up that night.
To Make Meringue:
- Make sure your bowl, beaters are super clean void of any grease from previous uses. Add egg whites to bowl and start to beat.
- Once eggs have started to be white and frothy, add sugar gradually. You might want to keep beating speed on medium or medium low so that your egg whites can dissolve the sugar. This is an imperative step that will help prevent your meringue from ‘weeping’ later on in the day as it sits for getting ready to be eaten.
- For those of us that have kitchen aids – note, this process can be quicker than we realize being that these sort of mixers are super quick. So it is ok to beat slowly at first, so that the sugar has had the time to dissolve in the egg whites.
- Continue beating until smooth and add vanilla extract.
- To ensure all sugar has been dissolved, put a little on your fingers and rub them (as if you were making a snap) if you feel any bits of sugar, you will need to keep beating until smooth – so be careful not to over beat your meringue – which is why I suggested to beat at a medium speed.
- Once meringue is shiny and peaks form, your ready to top your pie.