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I am in Toronto this weekend visiting my daughter who is working The Sound of Music at the Princess of Wales Theatre - she is an actor (term actress does not exist anymore, just like stewardess does not). However, I did not want to leave my post empty and I won’t be around to cook a recipe out of the Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.
Instead I am leaving you with food for thought and a mission: not a mission impossible but a mission for most of you, improbable. My late mother gave me a cookbook when I got married called A Treasure For My Daughter. It originally printed in 1950 as a fundraiser by the Ethel Epstein Ein Chapter of Hadassah, Montreal. A group my mother was a member of and probably contributed a few of her own recipes, none of which I actually know are hers. But this book and all its recipes are indeed the recipes I grew up on. The Beet Borscht is the exact soup I ate every Saturday I returned home after a day at the ski hill – not sweet, not sour: just perfect and it always evokes the same memories, like good food should.
A Treasure For My Daughter has had thirteen printings since its very first and was revised in 2000 and re-printed again in 2001.
When chefs like Chris Cosentino promote foods like sweetbreads, brains, beef cheeks to the newer and younger gourmands, he is promoting history. The history I know is that of the European Jews, but most cultures that ate Offal all have a history and their children have, in one form or another, either experienced the food itself or certainly heard about it. As have my children; one of which I finally succeeded in getting to eat pickled tongue.
Oh Pickled Tongue, thou doth maketh my stomach full with each and every bit I savour your very essence.
Oh Pickled Tongue if only you were bigger then I could feel safe to share you. Instead I harbor you all for mine-self
Oh Pickled Tongue I could not imagine a month without the aroma of your very pickled essence boiling in my Le Creuset.
Oh Pickled Tongue you cost a bloody fortune.
Which brings me to the punch line of this post. It has been a long time that I have seen a sweetbread or a calf’s brain, however the other day a new butcher opened near my house and inside his freezer was a full shelf of frozen sweetbreads, frozen individually packaged calf’s brains and beef cheeks. Now I have never had beef cheeks and always thought it was an Italian delicacy because I had never heard of beef cheeks until Molto Mario.
So I was surprised that it was in this butcher’s case: a Kosher butcher. I don’t keep Kosher, for a few reasons: one of which is basic; I don’t keep a Kosher kitchen and never grew up in one so I didn’t have a tradition to carry on nor a strictly Kosher relative to cater to. The other reason, being thankful for the first one, is that Kosher meat is double and sometimes triple the price of non-Kosher meat. Note: I always buy Kosher chickens because I find they are cleaner with fewer feathers, and their diet makes them juicy with very little fat. The French Canadians also buy Kosher chickens for that very reason.
24.99/kg for sweetbreads…21.99/kg for beef cheeks …and 11.99 for each calf brain.
Wow!! Those are mighty steep prices even for Kosher. Then, I remind myself that one cow may provide a lot of rib steaks, and other cuts of meat; but they have only one brain, two cheeks and one set of sweetbreads. So with the onset of the revival of all things Offal, I suppose the supply and demand allows them to price accordingly.
If I had been home this weekend to cook and post for today, I would be posting from the Steamy Kitchen Cookbook. This is not the case and so in advance, I am setting forth this recipe from the A Treasure For My Daughter cookbook, which happens to be an easy recipe to follow and is deliciously like a breaded veal chop and for the uninitiated a very easy recipe to follow.
I would use oil instead of chicken schmaltz and I would add a beaten egg to a bowl in order to coat the sweetbread prior to breading so that the breading will stick.
Sweetbreads and Mushrooms
1 lb sweetbreads
1/2 to 3/4 c. fine dry breadcrumbs or Panko
1 c diced onions
1/2 lb (1 1/2 c) fresh mushrooms of choice, sliced
2 tb fat: schmaltz or oil… (use oil) and if you should buy the canned schmaltz may your fingers fall off!
1/2 tsp paprika
Salt, Pepper to taste
Defrost the Sweetbreads, if frozen. Blanch by cooking in acidulated salted water (2 tablespoons vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt in 1 quart water) for 15 minutes. Drain, cool and cut in cubes. Roll in the crumbs. Sauté the mushrooms and onion in the fat until lightly browned, sprinkling with paprika, salt and pepper. Add the sweetbreads; cook 30 minutes longer over low heat turning occasionally, until browned.
Makes 6-8 servings
If that doesn’t hit the mark there is one more recipe I want to add.
This is one that would be impossible not to love because it is a Latke and who doesn’t love a Latke. Okay, so this Latke is not potato, big deal. It’s better:
Just picture the shock when you tell the kids what it really is, after they’ve eaten it all up. Great with applesauce or sour cream.
1 pair of calf’s brains
1tsp grated onion
Salt, Pepper to taste
Matzo meal about 1/4 c
2 tb chicken fat (oy-again!) but use oil
If brains are frozen defrost first. (Like the kids brains aren’t frozen – and impossible to defrost)
Blanch by dropping in acidulated water (1 tablespoon vinegar for each 2 cups of water)…I know its different from above…hey I’m just following the recipe…Cook 3 minutes, remove and pull off outer skin with a sharp knife. Mash brains with a wooden spoon (don’t ask why wooden ’cause I don’t know). Add the egg, the onion, the seasonings and matzo meal; blend well forming a paste; Heat fat in skillet, add mixture by spoonfuls to hot fat, fry until crisp and golden on both sides.
Makes about 12 latkes.
And a room full of crying kids.
*pics courtesy of Cook’s Thesaurus