Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Chirstmas @ the U-Club

Laurie Hertzel is senior editor for books at the Star Tribune, where she has worked since 1996. She is the author of "News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist," winner of a Minnesota Book Award.

Props, jokes and poetry

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel under Author events, Local authors, Poetry, Readings Updated: December 18, 2013 - 10:21 AM
Danny Klecko reads at the University Club.
Danny Klecko reads at the University Club.
The women weren't exactly sedate, but they read from printed scripts--poetry, book excerpts, essays--and they mostly kept to the time limit. Within those constraints, though, there was much room for laughter and poignancy, as Heid Erdrich read poems that she had "sneaked into" her new cookbook, "Original Local," and Mary Lou Judd Carpenter read from a memoir she has written about her parents, "Miriam's Words: The Personal Price of a Public Life." (Her father was congressman Walter Judd, and the memoir draws heavily on the letters of his wife, Miriam.) Eleanor Leonard read an essay about lighting the candles on a tree and singing "Silent Night."
But the men! Whoa! Less reading than performance art, spoken word, with props.
Last night's Readings for Writers (holiday edition), coordinated and emceed, as usual, by St. Paul Poet Laureate Carol Connolly, was unexpectedly raucous and, at times, side-splittingly funny. Not what you might expect for a literary evening at the sedate and dignified University Club.
Mike Finley pulls poems out of a sock
Mike Finley pulls poems out of a sock
Poet Mike Finley, blue-eyed and cherubic, pulled a tinsel-bedecked hat out of a bag, placed it solemnly on his head, then pulled out a big gold Christmas stocking and began fishing around inside of it, drawing out slips of paper at random and reading them. Not poems, exactly, but more than jokes, they first startled, then amused the audience. (The first one: "Why / is that frisbee / getting bigger? / and then it hits me....")
Poet and memoirist Ted King pulled on a Santa hat, claimed that Ted King couldn't make it and had sent Santa in his place, and then began spinning fantastic stories, seemingly off the top of his head, about the original Santa giveaway (which involved theft).
Baker-poet Danny Klecko never opened his prop bag, just pounded it on the podium dramatically as he read a poem about urging one of his pastry chefs to steal Garrison Keillor's salt and pepper shakers. Was that what was in the bag? The last line of the poem tells us that the contents "I'm not at liberty to discuss."
At 9 p.m., just as Tim Nolan, the last poet of the evening, approached the podium, a dozen or so people screamed, "Snow emergency!" and fled to move their cars. Nolan looked wryly at Connolly and said, "You mention my name and people head for the door."
He carried only a sheaf of paper with him, but it turned out that he, too, had props: As he read his final poem, "Shoes," he removed his shoes and placed them on the podium in front of him. He made it almost all the way through the poem before stopping, sniffing the air, and saying, "Oooh, my shoes stink." And then, "That's not part of the poem."
The annual event is free but passes the hat for Public Art St. Paul.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thanksgiving and Pumpkin Brioche

What's for Thanksgiving, chef? What Twin Cities pros eat for the holiday

By Jess Fleming

Posted:   11/21/2013 12:01:00 AM CST | Updated:   about 2 hours ago

Thanksgiving is a time for tradition. Most of our tables look similar from year to year, even if we change the recipes a bit.
It got us thinking. What do chefs eat on the big day -- provided they don't have to work it?
We asked some of our favorite local chefs and a baker what they eat on Thanksgiving Day and even got them to share a recipe or two.
Maybe one of the dishes can make it to your table this year.

The chef at St. Paul's hyper-local fine-dining destination Heartland heads to his in-laws' place for Thanksgiving, which means he gets a break from cooking.
But when Lenny Russo has made a turkey, he stuffs half of it with sausage dressing and the other half with chestnut dressing. He also has made chestnut soup.
Growing up in a large Italian family, though, his childhood memories are maybe a little different from some of ours.
"When I was a kid, we always celebrated with the extended family and started with a large antipasto table followed by a pasta course before we had the turkey," Russo said. "I don't really care much for sugar, so I never really ate much pie, but I did enjoy finishing my meal with some fresh fennel.
"Also, whenever the extended family gathered for a holiday, it was a daylong affair. In the early morning hours past midnight, we always had what we called the 'Venetian Hour,' which consisted of assembling your own sandwiches on hard rolls. We always had various Italian deli meats and cheeses with all the garnishes and condiments, including lots of pickled vegetables and olives. It was a lot of food."

For the first few years after Russell and Desta Klein opened Meritage in downtown St. Paul, they hosted an "orphans Thanksgiving" at the restaurant, cooking for people without family in the area.
"After a couple of years, I was, like, 'I can't do that anymore,' " Russell Klein said. "It was great, but it was a lot of work."
Now, he and Desta are usually on the road during holiday time.
"Our family is spread out all over the country," Klein said.
As for what's on the table?
"It's very traditional," he said. "There's nothing cheffy about our Thanksgiving dinner, and I wouldn't want there to be. I gotta have green bean casserole, that's my thing. I don't want any cheffy green bean casserole, either. I want the one with the cream of mushroom soup and the canned fried onions.
"A couple of years ago, for a publication, I was assigned to rethink the green bean casserole. I did it with brussels sprouts with a bechamel and fried onion, and it was delicious. But it wasn't as good as the original."
Klein shared the recipe for his mother's pumpkin soup, which is on the restaurant's fall menu now.

Since Strip Club chef J.D. Fratzke and his wife moved into their home in South Minneapolis in 2001, they've been hosting a Thanksgiving feast.
"That first year, I was so excited," Fratzke said. "I invited everyone under the sun and made way too much food."
Now, he said, it's a more subdued, intimate affair with just a few close family members or friends. The menu includes the usual traditional turkey, brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes and his signature dish: spaetzle and sauerkraut.
"We just make sure the wine flows freely and there is plenty of whiskey after the meal," Fratzke said.
Fratzke contributed an alternative entree recipe for those who want to try something other than turkey this year.
"The recipe is inspired by the Alto-Adige region of northern Italy, bordering Austria's Tryolian Alps," Fratzke said. "The area has strong ties to Germany and a German-speaking population. Thus, it speaks to my heart and soul."

The CEO of Saint Agnes Bakery said Black Friday is as important as the big meal to his family.
"I do my best to present them one final meal before they get crushed by the mob," Klecko said.
Sometimes, they eat turkey. Other times, Klecko makes a turkey potpie. One thing, however nontraditional, that's always on the menu is his famous borscht.
"Even though I don't wait in lines for Black Friday discount items, I've been known to swing by the stores my family and friends are in line for with a Thermos filled with borscht," Klecko said. "There's nothing like beet soup to install confidence and keep you awake."
Klecko shared his recipe for pumpkin brioche.

Thanksgiving recipes from local pros

Pioneer Press

(Pioneer Press: Kirk Lyttle)
We asked some of our favorite local chefs and a baker what they eat on Thanksgiving Day and even got them to share a recipe or two.

1 tablespoon salted butter
1/2 cup sweet onions, 1/4-inch dice
1 cup preserved cranberries
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon Tellicherry black pepper, freshly ground
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons sweet white wine, such as riesling, muscat or Sauternes
In nonreactive sauce pot, melt butter over medium low heat. Add onions. Sweat for 5 minutes or until onions are soft. Add preserves, salt, pepper, honey, thyme and wine. Simmer for 10 minutes or until relish begins to thicken. Remove from heat. Chill. Serve.

1/2 pound unsalted butter
1 pound leeks, white parts only, diced
5 pounds chestnuts, peeled
4 cups heavy cream
2 cups courtbouillon (recipe follows)
1 cup sherry
1 bouquet garni (1 whole nutmeg, 1 bay leaf, 2 parsley sprigs, 2 thyme sprigs and 10 black peppercorns tied in cheesecloth sack)
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons white pepper, freshly ground
In large, nonreactive pot, melt butter over low heat. Add leeks and chestnuts. Cook until soft. Add heavy cream. Bring to a slow simmer. Cook until chestnuts begin to fall apart. Using immersion blender, puree soup base until smooth. Add courtbouillon, sherry and bouquet garni. Cook at slow simmer for 20 minutes. Remove soup from heat. Remove boquet garni. Season with salt and pepper.

Recipe adapted from
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup white wine
1 lemon, juiced
1 onion, chopped
1/2 celery rib, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped finely
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 to 5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
In saucepan, combine water, wine, lemon juice, onion, celery, garlic, peppercorns, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat. Simmer for 8 minutes. Strain through fine-mesh sieve. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months. (Note: Always bring to a boil before using.)

4 sugar pumpkins
1/2 pound butter, melted, divided use
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, divided use
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg, divided use
1/4 teaspoon mace, divided use
1 cup brown sugar, packed, divided use
5 shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 onion, sliced thin
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup sherry wine
2 quarts vegetable stock
2 cups heavy cream
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Garnishes (optional):
Whipped cream
Creme fraiche
To roast pumpkin: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut pumpkin in half. Remove seeds. Brush with half of butter, half of spices and half of sugar. Place on cookie sheet. Roast until tender. Cool slightly. Remove flesh from skin.
To make soup: In large stock pot, heat remaining butter over medium heat. Add shallots, onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Cook until tender but not brown. Add sherry. Heat until reduced by half. Add roasted pumpkin. Add chicken stock, cream, salt, pepper, remaining cinnamon, remaining nutmeg, remaining mace and remaining sugar. Simmer for 20 minutes.
To puree and serve: Place soup in blender or food processor. (Note: Blender will yield smoother consistency.) Carefully puree soup. Garnish with nuts, whipped cream or creme fraiche. Serve immediately.

2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
4 pounds rabbit legs, separated at joint
2 ounces extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound butter
1 large yellow onion, diced finely
5 stalks celery, diced finely
3 large carrots, diced finely
1/2 cup garlic cloves, smashed
4 fresh bay leaves
6 cinnamon sticks
2 Granny Smith apples, diced finely
1 quart sparkling white wine
1 cup whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons brown sugar
4 cups chicken or wild game stock
Cooked risotto, polenta or spaetzle
Fresh watercress
Very good extra-virgin olive oil or truffle oil
To roast rabbit: Preheat oven to 475 degrees. In small mixing bowl, combine paprika, allspice, salt, pepper and thyme. Mix well. Rub rabbit legs with spice mix. Lay in single layer on sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes or until spice mix begins to brown slightly.
To cook vegetables: Meanwhile, drizzle olive oil in large braising pan or Dutch oven. Add butter. Place over medium-high heat on range burner. Heat until butter melts and begins to foam. Add onion, celery, carrots, garlic, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and apples. Saute, stirring occasionally, until onions become translucent and vegetables begin to sweat out their natural juices.
To make braising liquid: Add sparkling wine. Increase heat to high. Simmer for 10 minutes or until alcohol has cooked out of wine. Stir in mustard and brown sugar.
To braise rabbit: Remove rabbit legs from oven. Add to pot. Cover with chicken stock. Seal tightly with aluminum foil and form-fitting lid. Place in oven. Reduce heat to 375 degrees. Braise for 2 hours or until meat falls easily from bone.
To reduce braising liquid: Remove pan from oven. Using slotted spoon, gently place rabbit legs on baking sheet. Place braising liquid on range burner over medium heat with bottom of pot just off center of burner. Bring to a simmer. Skim off grease and impurities. Cook until braising liquid is reduced by one-third. Add salt, pepper and sugar to taste.
To serve: Serve leg and thigh of rabbit over risotto, polenta or spaetzle. Smother with 4 ounces braising liquid. Cover with few sprigs of fresh watercress and splash of very good extra-virgin olive oil or white truffle oil.

1/4 cup milk (room temperature)
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup sugar
6 cups bread flour, divided use
1 handful craisins
2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch cinnamon
6 eggs
8 ounces of soft butter
To make sponge: In mixing bowl, combine milk and yeast. Whisk to combine. Let rest for several minutes. Stir in pumpkin puree, sugar and 1 cup flour. Cover. Let develop for 30 to 45 minutes.
To make brioche: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place sponge into mixing bowl. Add remaining 5 cups flour, craisins, salt and cinnamon. Mix to combine. Add eggs. Mix until absorbed. Add butter. Mix until dough comes together. (Note: It should have a soft elastic consistency, much like rich bun dough.)
To bake brioche: Scale finished dough into pieces that will match size of bread pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Allies in the Baking Empire

Several weeks ago I was contacted by my friends at the National Honey Board with a request to send them some artisan breads with a honey focused inspiration.

I was told to send four loaves......

I was told to send them to Denver.........

So I did.

When you send a sample pack to an event, it is always good practice to deliver a collection that offers a uniformed size, but the pieces should always balance the light and dark side of the bread color spectrum.

It is also paramount to give different POV's on sweet-savory and a variety of textures.


The loaves that were flown first class to Denver, somehow made their way to Chicago.

I wonder if their journey was exciting, possibly fraught with peril.

Who knows?

Perhaps their voyage will inspire a Disney movie.

In closing I just want to say that it was a big honor for our bakery to have the chance to partner with the National Honey Board.

They are such a classy group of people, and whose kidding who?

These folks are blessed to have the sweetest, cleanest, purest product on the planet to market....


Let's Talk Honey ...

Sweet Returns from Honey Baking Summit

Posted by National Honey Board on October 24, 2013 - 3:12 PM

Sweet Returns from Honey Baking Summit
We just wrapped up our third Baking Honey Summit in Chicago, and one of our favorite things about these events is seeing what the most talented bakers in the world can do with honey after spending the day learning about this natural sweetener and working with it.
We recently had the opportunity to taste the sweet returns of the Honey Baking Summit when two of our attendees sent us products they developed with honey for our fall board meeting. Since we never start with dessert (ok, maybe some times we do!), we first tasted some amazing artisan breads from Saint Agnes Baking Company, including a WWII loaf that was a delicious combination of a Russian and German Rye that uses honey to provide a sweet taste.
We also sampled a Wild Rice Round and a Hungarian Raisin Rye which uses a combination of honey, molasses, cocoa and raisins.
Next up, we hit the sweets and tasted three of Muddy Paws Cheesecakes, all made with honey. First up was a honey vanilla cheesecake, which has been a standard on the bakery’s menu for some time. Next, we devoured a couple slices of new products, including a lemon honey cheesecake on a pistachio graham crust and a honey blueberry lavender on a shortbread crust. All three were delicious, and took advantage of honey’s ability to complement a variety of flavors.
Thank you once again to Danny Klecko of  Saint Agnes Baking Company and Tami Cabrera of Muddy Paws Cheesecake for the outstanding made with honey products.


Monday, October 21, 2013

List of Irish Cheese

Saturday night I took Sue McGleno to the Moose Country Pub to visit with a former colleague who had recently got married.

The guy was a dough mixer, and I worked side by side with the kid for 7 years.

I have never been one to get excited to go to weddings or funerals, but this event was more of a post wedding party (the couple tied the knot several weeks ago during an elopement in Seattle) where people didn't really get all that dolled up.

At the party, some random guy just steps up to a special corner table I had reserved for my wife and I to secure some privacy...and the random guy asks.....

"What did one fly say to the other fly?"

To which Sue McGleno and I exchanged looks of befuddlement......

"Is that stool taken?" the guy says answering his own question while proceeding to sit down and become the 5th wheel.

Usually I have no problem being "that guy", and the thought did occur to me that I might shoo this guy away....

But there just wasn't much available seating, and the guys generosity in sharing his personal views on blood thinners and WW2 campaigns was really quite endearing.

After awhile the random guy took off to smoke, and truth be told I thought we had lost him to the festivities, but fortunate was I to have him return with the following message that God seemed to have lain upon his heart.......

"Did you know they make more different kinds of cheese in Ireland than they do in Wisconsin?"

Random man never backed this claim up with any rational statistics, but the thought in of itself was enough to make me glad that I had attended this extravaganza.

I don't know how the following stacks up against Wisconsin (or any other part of the world for that matter), but I did find this cheese grid, and I must say....I found it quite impressive.

Cheese NameTypeMilkRennetNotesProducer
Abbey Blue BrieCowPasteurizedVegetarianBlueAbbey Cheese Company
Abbey Smoked BrieCowPasteurizedVegetarianSmoked BrieAbbey Cheese Company
Ardagh Castle GjetostGoatRawVegetarianArdagh Castle cheese
Ardagh Castle Goats CheeseGoat (from whey)RawVegetarianWensleyday styleArdagh Castle cheese
Ardagh Castle RicottaGoat (from whey)RawVegetarianRicottaArdagh Castle cheese
ArdrahanCowPasteurizedVegetarianArdrahan Cheese
Ardsallagh Hard Goat’s CheeseGoatPasteurizedVegetarianArdsallagh Goats Products
Ardsallagh Smoked CheeseGoatPasteurizedVegetarianArdsallagh Goats Products
Ardsallagh Soft Goat’s CheeseGoatPasteurizedVegetarianArdsallagh Goats Products
Ballintubber Cheddar with ChivesCowPasteurizedVegetarianCahills Farm cheese
BallybrieCowPasteurizedVegetarianSoft Creamy BrieFivemiletown Creamery
BallyblueCowPasteurizedVegetarianSoft Blue BrieFivemiletown Creamery
BallyoakCowPasteurizedVegetarianSoft Smoked BrieFivemiletown Creamery
Ballyhooly BlueCowRawTraditionalFermoy Natural Cheese
Ballyporeen with Mixed Irish HerbsCowPasteurizedVegetarianCahills Farm cheese
Bay Lough CheddarCowRawVegetarianBay Lough cheese
Bay Lough Cheddar SmokedCowRawVegetarianBay Lough cheese
Bay Lough Cheddar Smoked with Garlic & HerbsCowRawVegetarianBay Lough cheese
Bay Lough Cheddar With Garlic & HerbsCowRawVegetarianBay Lough cheese
Beal Handmade CheddarCowRawTraditionalBéal Organic Cheese
Beal Raw Milk CheddarCowRawTraditionalBéal Organic Cheese
Beara BlueCowRawTraditionalBlue Stilton styleKnockatee Cheese
Bellingham BlueCowRawVegetarianGlyde Farm Produce
Bluebell Falls CygnusGoatHeat TreatedVegetarianBluebell Falls Cheese
Bluebell Falls Cygnus with HoneyGoatHeat TreatedVegetarianBluebell Falls Cheese
Bluebell Falls Cygnus with PepperGoatHeat TreatedVegetarianBluebell Falls Cheese
Bluebell Falls OrionGoatHeat TreatedVegetarianBluebell Falls Cheese
Bluebell Falls PegasusGoatHeat TreatedVegetarianBluebell Falls Cheese
Boilie Cheese PearlsCowPasteurizedVegetarianSoft Creamy cheese pearls marinated in peppercorns infused in a garlic oilFivemiletown Creamery
Boilie Goats Cheese PearlsGoatPasteurizedVegetarianSoft Creamy cheese pearls marinated in peppercorns infused in a garlic oilFivemiletown Creamery
Boyne Valley BlueCowRawVegetarianGlyde Farm Produce
Burren GoldCowRawBurren Gold
Cahill’s Ardagh Wine CheeseCowPasteurizedVegetarianCahills Farm cheese
Cahill’s Original Irish Porter CheeseCowPasteurizedVegetarianCahills Farm cheese
Cahill’s Whiskey CheeseCowPasteurizedVegetarianCahills Farm cheese
Cais DubhCowRawTraditionalFermoy Natural Cheese
Cais RuaCowRawTraditionalFermoy Natural Cheese
Carlow CheeseCowRawTraditionalEdam styleCarlow Cheese
Carlow Cheese FlavouredCowRawTraditionalFlavored Edam styleCarlow Cheese
CarrigalineCowPasteurizedVegetarianCarrigaline Farmhouse Cheese
Carrigaline Beech SmokedCowPasteurizedVegetarianCarrigaline Farmhouse Cheese
Carrigaline Garlic & HerbCowPasteurizedVegetarianCarrigaline Farmhouse Cheese
CarrowhollyCowRawVegetarianGouda styleCarrowholly cheese
Carrowholly Cheese FlavouredCowRawVegetarianGouda styleCarrowholly cheese
Cashel BlueCowPasteurizedVegetarianBlueJ&L Grubb
ChulchoillGoatPasteurizedVegetarianCooleeney Farmhouse Cheese
Cleire Goats CheeseGoatRawN/ACheese curdCleire Goats Cheese
Clonmore CheeseGoatHeat TreatedVegetarianGouda styleClonmore Cheese
Coleraine cheddarCow???TraditionalCheddar styleColeraine cheddar
Coolattin CheddarCowRawTraditionalCheddar styleCoolattin Cheddar
Coolea CheeseCowPasteurizedTraditionalGouda styleCoolea Cheese
Cooleeney Farmhouse CheeseCowRawVegetarianCamembert styleCooleeney Farmhouse Cheese
Natural Goats LogGoatPasteurizedVegetarianCreamy, lemony fresh tangFivemiletown Creamery
CorkottaCowRawTraditionalMade from WheyFermoy Natural Cheese
Corleggy Goat’s CheeseGoatRawVegetarianCorleggy Cheese
Cratloe HillsSheepPasteurizedVegetarianPecorino styleCratloe Hills
CreenySheepRawVegetarianPecorino styleCorleggy Cheese
CroghanGoatRawVegetarianCroghan Cheese
Crozier BlueSheepPasteurizedVegetarianBlueJ&L Grubb
DaruCowPasteurizedVegetarianCooleeney Farmhouse Cheese
DesmondCowRawVegetarianThermophilic (Swiss style)West Cork Natural Cheese
DilliskusCowRawVegetarianDingle Peninsula Cheese
DoolinCowDoolin Cheese
Dromana FlavouredCowPasteurizedVegetarianKnockalara Farmhouse Cheese
DrumlinCowRawVegetarianCorleggy Cheese
DublinerCowHeat TreatedVegetarianCheddar styleDubliner Cheese
DuhallowCowPasteurizedVegetarianArdrahan Cheese
DunbarraCowPasteurizedVegetarianCamembert styleCooleeney Farmhouse Cheese
Durrus CheeseCowRawTraditionalDurrus Cheese
EmeraldCowRawTraditionalFermoy Natural Cheese
Emerald Irish BrieCowPasteurizedVegetarianBrieCarrigbyrne cheese
Fivemiletown Cheddar RangeCowPasteurizedVegetarianMild, Medium, Mature, Extra Mature, Ligher Mature, Mild and Medium SlicedFivemiletown Creamery
GabrielCowRawVegetarianThermophilic (Swiss style)West Cork Natural Cheese
Gleann OirGoatPasteurizedVegetarianBrieCooleeney Farmhouse Cheese
Glebe BrethanCowRawTraditionalComté styleGlebe Brethan
GortnamonaGoatPasteurizedVegetarianCamembert styleCooleeney Farmhouse Cheese
GubbeenCowPasteurizedTraditionalGubbeen Farmhouse Cheese
Hegarty’s CheddarCowPasteurizedVegetarianCheddar styleHegarty’s Cheddar
HiberniaCowRawTraditionalFermoy Natural Cheese
Imokilly RegatoCowPasteurizedTraditionalProtected Designation of Origin (PDO)Dairygold
Kerry BlueCowRawTraditionalBlue Stilton styleKnockatee Cheese
KilcumminCowRawVegetarianDingle Peninsula Cheese
Killeen Cow’s CheeseCowPasteurizedTraditionalGouda styleKilleen Farmhouse Cheese
Killeen Goat’s CheeseGoatPasteurizedTraditionalGouda styleKilleen Farmhouse Cheese
Knockalara Semi-Hard Sheeps CheeseSheepPasteurizedVegetarianKnockalara Farmhouse Cheese
Knockalara Sheep’s CheeseSheepPasteurizedVegetarianKnockalara Farmhouse Cheese
Knockanore FlavouredCowRawVegetarianKnockanore Farmhouse Cheese
Knockanore PlainCowRawVegetarianCheddar styleKnockanore Farmhouse Cheese
Knockanore SmokedCowRawVegetarianSmoked ApplewoodKnockanore Farmhouse Cheese
Knockatee CheddarCowRawTraditionalCheddar styleKnockatee Cheese
Knockatee GoudaCowRawTraditionalGouda styleKnockatee Cheese
Knockdrinna Fresh Goats LogGoatPasteurizedTraditionalKnockdrinna Farmhouse Cheese
Knockdrinna Goat’s Brined CheeseGoatPasteurizedTraditionalFeta styleKnockdrinna Farmhouse Cheese
Knockdrinna GoldGoatPasteurizedTraditionalTomme styleKnockdrinna Farmhouse Cheese
Knockdrinna Meadow Sheep’s CheeseSheepPasteurizedTraditionalTomme styleKnockdrinna Farmhouse Cheese
Knockdrinna SnowGoatPasteurizedTraditionalCamembert styleKnockdrinna Farmhouse Cheese
LavistownCowPasteurizedTraditionalKnockdrinna Farmhouse Cheese
MaigheanCowRawVegetarianCamembert styleCooleeney Farmhouse Cheese
MilleensCowPasteurizedTraditionalMunster styleMilleens
Millhouse Sheep’s CheeseSheepRawVegetarianMillhouse Sheep’s Cheese
Mine-gabharGoatRawVegetarianCroghan Cheese
Moonshine Organic CheeseCowPasteurizedVegetarianOrganicMoonshine Farm Cheese
MossfieldCowPasteurizedVegetarianOrganic, Gouda styleMossfield Organic Farm
Mossfield FlavouredCowPasteurizedVegetarianOrganic, Gouda styleMossfield Organic Farm
Mossfield MatureCowPasteurizedVegetarianOrganic, Gouda styleMossfield Organic Farm
Mount Callan CheddarCowRawTraditionalCheddar styleMount Callan Cheddar
OakwoodCowPasteurizedVegetarianNaturally Smoked Mature Cheddar, Also comes in grated bagsFivemiletown Creamery
Old Irish Creamery Cheddar with BlueberriesCowPasteurizedVegetarianJOD Foods
Old Irish Creamery Cheddar with ChilliCowPasteurizedVegetarianJOD Foods
Old Irish Creamery Cheddar with ChivesCowPasteurizedVegetarianJOD Foods
Old Irish Creamery Cheddar with CranberriesCowPasteurizedVegetarianJOD Foods
Old Irish Creamery Cheddar with Herb & GarlicCowPasteurizedVegetarianJOD Foods
Old Irish Creamery Cheddar with Irish PorterCowPasteurizedVegetarianJOD Foods
Old Irish Creamery Cheddar with Red WineCowPasteurizedVegetarianJOD Foods
Old Irish Creamery Cheddar with WalnutsCowPasteurizedVegetarianJOD Foods
Old Irish Creamery Cheddar with WhiskeyCowPasteurizedVegetarianJOD Foods
Old Irish Creamery Extra Mature White CheddarCowPasteurizedVegetarianJOD Foods
Old Irish Creamery Smoked CheddarCowPasteurizedVegetarianJOD Foods
Old MacDonnells Fresh Cow’s CheeseCowPasteurizedVegetarianOld MacDonnells Farm Cheese
Old MacDonnells Fresh Goat’s CheeseGoatPasteurizedVegetarianOld MacDonnells Farm Cheese
Orchard Cottage Fresh Goat’s CheeseGoatRawVegetarianOrchard Cottage Dairy
Orchard Cottage Goat’s Cheese in OilGoatRawVegetarianOrchard Cottage Dairy
Orla CheeseSheepRawVegetarianOrla Cheese
Paddy Jack CheeseCowPasteurizedVegetarianGouda styleAbbey Cheese Company
ShandrumCowHeat TreatedVegetarianGouda styleClonmore Cheese
Smoked ArdrahanCowPasteurizedVegetarianArdrahan Cheese
Smoked GubbeenCowPasteurizedTraditionalGubbeen Farmhouse Cheese
St BrendanCowPasteurizedVegetarianBrieCarrigbyrne cheese
St Brendan Brie MiniCowPasteurizedVegetarianBrieCarrigbyrne cheese
St BrigidCowRawTraditionalFermoy Natural Cheese
St Brigid BeagCowRawTraditionalFermoy Natural Cheese
St GallCowRawTraditionalFermoy Natural Cheese
St Kevin BrieCowPasteurizedVegetarianWicklow Farmhouse Cheese
St KillianCowPasteurizedVegetarianCarrigbyrne cheese
St Tola DivineGoatPasteurizedTraditionalOrganicSt Tola
St Tola Hard Goat’sGoatRawTraditionalOrganicSt Tola
St Tola LogGoatRawTraditionalOrganicSt Tola
Tara BanGoatPasteurizedVegetarianGoat's Cheddar styleGleann Gabhra
Tipperary BrieCowPasteurizedVegetarianBrieCooleeney Farmhouse Cheese
Triskel Dew DropGoatRawTraditionalTriskel Cheese
Triskel GwennedCowRawTraditionalTriskel Cheese
Triskel PyramidGoatRawTraditionalTriskel Cheese
Waterford Greek CheeseCowPasteurizedVegetarianKnockalara Farmhouse Cheese
Wicklow BaunCowPasteurizedVegetarianWicklow Farmhouse Cheese
Wicklow BlueCowPasteurizedVegetarianWicklow Farmhouse Cheese
Wicklow GoldCowPasteurizedVegetarianWicklow Farmhouse Cheese
Wilma’s Killorglin CheeseCowPasteurizedTraditionalGouda styleKillorglin Cheese
Wilma’s Killorglin Flavored CheeseCowPasteurizedTraditionalGouda styleKillorglin Cheese

Monday, October 7, 2013

Dining with Ghosts


Here is a piece that I recently did for a trade publication called Food Service News. It was one of the more interesting experiences I have had the opportunity encounter.

When you are finished reading this, and feel so inclined......Klecko would be interested in knowing what you think.

Is there such a thing as ghost?

Have you experienced paranormal activity?

Alright, lets get to it in 3-2-1..................................


Today’s story starts off with yours truly eating Mac & Cheese at the Highland Grill while eavesdropping on other peoples conversations.

In the booth next to me were two women sharing lunch off the same plate, swapping opinions about haunted spaces in the Twin Cities.

I didn’t want to be one of those guys that jumps into other peoples conversation without an invitation, but I couldn’t resist.

“Excuse me ladies, do you believe that Forepaughs restaurant is haunted?”

The woman vulturing the remaining French fries didn’t have a clue what I was talking about, but her companion perked up and filled us in with the back story.

“I think it was the 1800’s when Joseph Forepaugh was in power. This was the time when he and the Ramsey’s and Faribault’s were dividing state boundaries. Forepaugh had a mansion where the restaurant is now, and the story is that he had amorous feelings towards a servant named Molly.

Forepaugh’s wife Mary found out and tried to separate the two, but the young servant was already pregnant. Eventually when Joseph called the whole thing off, Molly was so despondent that she tied a rope around her neck and jumped out a third story window.

When Joseph was sent word, he went to his favorite meditation spot and placed a pistol to his head, forfeiting his life.”

I asked the woman if she believed the legend, and she said she did, and in fact she had witnessed some strange occurrences there herself.

When it comes to ghost stuff, I think I’d be classified as skeptical, but as I drove across town I remembered a woman named Annie Wilder.

Several years ago our paths crossed frequently while both of us were schlepping books. I was pimping dog biscuit recipes, while she was telling the world how to communicate with ghosts.

It’s well documented that there’s a lot of quacks out there trying to promote themselves through the paranormal, but Annie Wilder’s simply not one of them.

This woman’s reputation is pristine.

For thirteen years Annie was the copy writer for Llewellyn Press which is the oldest and largest publisher of metaphysical books in the world.

So basically, if you were trying to launch a project focused on Spirits, Bigfoot or UFO’s, Annie would be the first person in the pipeline to determine if your concept had merit.

Truth be told, it wasn’t even her credentials that made her credible in my eyes. It had more to do with her personality. Every time I was in her presence, I felt unusually calm, and that never happens.

I’ll just come out and say it….

I trust Annie Wilder.

So now I’m weaving through traffic while calling this publications editor on the phone.

“Hey Weingartner, if I can get one of America’s top ghost whisper’s to go ghost hunting at Forepaughs, would you come with me as a witness. I’ll do a piece on it for your October edition.”

First there was silence, then there was a giggle, Nancy was in, and before you knew it, my editor and I were sitting at our destinations entryway bar, waiting for our paranormal ambassador to arrive.

When Annie walked in, the three of us reported to our host who marched us upstairs to the second floor. We were placed at a table set to accommodate four. After doing some quick math, our host started to remove one of the plates, and that’s when Annie went to work.

“Excuse me; we’ll need this setting tonight.”

The host looked confused, and I informed her that’s where ghosts would be sitting.

The host smiled, I think she’d been to this rodeo before.

To contact ghosts, we learned it was a good idea to be a bit of a historian. Annie told us while Joseph Forepaugh was still in his mortal coil; there was a General Le Duc that lived in Hastings which is the same area that Wilder resides in a haunted house. On more than one occasion she has had contact with him.

So now Annie pulls out a picture of the General and places it on and empty chair and invited him to join us.

The first form of communication we experimented with was flashing. This is an exercise were the communicator places a pen flashlight on the table and the guests are allowed to ask questions. Amazingly enough, each ghost flashed their own signature beam.

Whenever General Le Duc responded the beam was strong and rapid, but when we asked Molly questions, the beam ran slow and faint.

At one point when Annie went to powder her nose, Nancy and I acted like school kids and hastily examined the flashlight.

But when I turned it on, no light projected. I shook it like a Yahtzee cup and still, nothing, I handed it to Nancy who had the same results before replacing it on the table.

When Annie returned, I asked her to contact the General, and when she did, a light shot out that blinded me. Nancy and I looked at each other engulfed in heebie-jeebies.

Next Annie offered to show us how technology has advanced in ghost communication.

“I’m not sure what I think of this.” She said as she produced her I-Phone “A lot of people are using spirit apps, let’s give it a try.”

The screen had one of those radar grids that were sectioned in quadrants. A blue dot popped up in the section Wilder and Weingartner were sitting in. Blue dots denote good spirits.

Time passed, and as I was eating some lemon candied shrimp, a red dot went off in my quadrant.

“Spirit manifest and make yourself known.” I demanded, but I could tell from the look on Annie’s face, I had overstepped my boundaries.

“Nothing to joke about Danny, the red dots are the bad guys. Trust me; you never want to invite them into your life.”

The evening concluded with the three of us standing next to the window Molly jumped from. I wish I could describe what came over us, but words would fall short. In fact, Nancy grew weak and had to go home. It took 24 hours before she regained her strength.

As I mentioned before, when it comes to ghosts, I might classify myself as a skeptic, but when you get a chance to talk to them with Annie Wilder, its hard not to be a believer.



Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Magic Johnson and Irish Madeleines?


Sorry to be so cryptic on my marquee, but I'm in the middle of a million things, but ZI wanted you to know the what-what about what???

First off, Marjorie Johnson just called to tell me that she will be appearing on the Tonight Show Monday Sept 30th.

The producer informed her she will be making coffee cake with Jay and Magic Johnson. According to Marjorie, NBC is in agreement that any time Marjorie has a chance to tie an apron onto a 7 foot NBA legend......hi-jinx are sure to follow.

This will be like her 20th appearance on The Tonight Show, and possibly her last (Jay is retiring soon), but rumor has it that she might get one last Christmas baking slot before America's favorite funny man pulls the plug.

The coffee cake recipe is straight from her Blue Ribbon Baking book, so if you own a copy.....make sure to have it out so you can follow along.

Also, as many of you know, I have lessened my commitment this this blog and have been spending my time baking Irish (and UK) recipes.

I do have a page on Facebook called .....

Irish Baking Club -

Feel free to "LIKE" it...or not.

Anyway, let me leave you with a recipe that all the pretty kids in Dublin City are talking about.

Irish Madeleine's

2 Eggs

3/4 teaspoon of 2 Ginger's Whiskey

1 pinch of Salt

1/3 cup of Granulated Sugar

1/2 cup of A.P. Flour

1 tablespoon Grated Ginger

1/4 cup of Salad Oil

Typically most bakers butter their Madeleine forms, but I don't like the extra flavor, or fat. I just use generous applications of spray-release (this puts you into a position where you don't have to cut these little critters out of the pan).

Oven is @ 375.....bake them until they are golden brown, and pulling away from the wall.

Some like to sprinkle powder sugar, I don't...but that me....oh my opinion, this is one baked good that is best served with some warmth still in it.

If the Madeleine gets to room's soul will fly away.

Just say....................................


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Turning 50 / Ezra Pound and the Graves 601

   the following is a copy of my FOOD SERVICE NEWS column.                                                       
                                                           TURNING FIFTY

The summer of 2013 will be remembered by many Minnesotans in the hospitality industry as the year half their patio business was lost to inclement weather.

Golf courses will dole out woeful statistics showing how many rounds were lost because their greens were under water.

But for Klecko, trauma manifested in a different form.

He experienced a fiftieth birthday.

Alright, living half a century doesn’t automatically qualify a guy as old, but who’s kidding who?

When the thresholds crossed, and you squint just so, a guy can start to make out the finish line.

One of my acquaintances suggested that I use this unique perspective to mark milestones.

So after pondering girls I’ve dated and nuns I’ve loved, my focus shifted to our industry.

I suppose it would be appropriate to start off by thanking district #281. During the autumn of the Bicentennial, all the schools in my county made it mandatory that each student be exposed to industrial arts and home economics.

On my first day of seventh grade, I spent period six with Ms Williams in Cooking 101 where she had me baking apple crisp with three beautiful girls.

I never touched a wrench after that.

Like many of you, my journey started bagging groceries and washing dishes. By the time I was sixteen, many of my friends were setting their sights on what colleges they would attend. But I already had three years of work experience.

Why would I want to go off to broaden my horizon when I already got to lean against dumpsters, drinking cans of Blatz and smoking Merit’s with grocery store bakers?

At seventeen, I vultured a dish washing gig at Nicklow’s. On Friday evenings belly dancers would walk through my work area virtually naked. As you can imagine, these ladies understood how boys hormones worked, and nothing gave them greater pleasure than “accidently” brushing up against me, just so they could watch me blush fire hydrant red.

With that said, I hope you will indulge an old man a brief moment to get sentimental and share some of his current observations as well.

Lately I’ve been reading a bit about this dead poet named Ezra Pound. The guy was pretty much responsible for launching such literary greats as T.S. Elliot, Joyce, Frost and even Hemingway.

Pounds formula to success was to take ideas and strip them of anything that wasn’t imperative.

Each aspect of language (in his eyes) needed to be anchored in clarity, precision and economy.

There simply weren’t any bells and whistles in this guys scope because he felt ancillary words only slowed down the truth.

He believed nothing could cross this planet faster than an idea laced in purity.

Well I’m not sure how pure my thoughts are, but if there was just one thing I’ve learned from the people that have flourished in my industry, it would be to embrace hospitality.

Not too long ago, I was downtown Minneapolis schlepping bread samples to potential accounts.

It’s mid afternoon and I’m standing in front of the Graves / 601 Hotel.

You might be surprised to hear this, but since we’re family now, I’ll tell you the truth. I can get intimidated entering luxury concepts.

Even though I do this fairly often, and even though many of the people I will deal with come from similar backgrounds, the whole experience can be daunting.

So I walk up to the gentleman working the door and the first thing I asked him was what entrance would be appropriate. To my surprise I was encouraged to enter the front door (I guess I should have mentioned I was dressed in baker’s whites) and the desk help greeted me with a sincere smile.

If you’ve work hospitality for even a minute, you gain an uncanny extra sense that enables you to know who is rolling their eyes internally. No, this woman was upbeat and pointed me over to the elevator that would take me up to the fourth floor so I could talk to my contact at Cosmo’s.

Within seconds I crossed the restaurants threshold only to be greeted by a manager who could have doubled as a GQ model. The price of this guy’s suit had to rival my mortgage payment.

When I told him who I had come to see, a look of disappointment formed on his face. I was told that this particular chef was off, but the manager said he would see if he could track down somebody else.

The concern more than won me over, then the unthinkable happened, the manager actually got me a sit down with the Executive Chef - John Occhiato.

You sales reps reading this know exactly how rare it is for a concept to have its staff in sync to the point where they actually become accessible to you.

And accessible was exactly a great way to describe Chef Occhiato. After discussing product lines, John extended me the courtesy of touring his kitchen and making me feel welcomed.

Who knows, maybe I’m getting soft, but the older I get, the more I tend to agree with Ezra Pound’s theory. Bells and whistles are for sheep. The only component that is indispensable in our industry is our attitude and willingness to be of service     

Without this, everything is smoke and mirrors.

Without this, there can be no hope of leaving behind a legacy.

Thanks Graves / 601 Hotel for the shot of inspiration.

And by the way, it’s still not too late to send birthday gifts.

Until next month -