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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Friend Who Bakes In Prison (World War 1 Cake Recipe)

 Last night I was bored,

How bored Klecko?

So bored I almost chose to read.

On my night stand are several piles of books, but most of them are poems.

I didn't want to read poems....I was "already" bored.

So I went into my "Russian" room, and dug through some boxes.

At the bottom was the complete works of Sherlock Holmes.

This book is big enough to choke a donkey.

Over 1300 pages.

Back in the day....how long ago was it?????

I read this book every night.

I remembered I was young back then.

I was poor back then.

I was happy back then.

As I rifled through the pages, old pieces of paper slid out.

One was a post card announcing the new Mormon Temple that was built in my city.

I remember how badly I wanted to see it, but Sue McGleno kinda freaked out.

She doesn't know any Mormons, so the whole deal tripped her out.

I've blogged about several times, the Church of the Latter Day Saints has saved, literally and figuratively saved my family on countless occasions.

I always will have a special place in heart for them.

Sticking up about 1/2 way in the book was a piece of paper, all dog eared.

When I unfolded it, I started to laugh.....

What it was, was a permission slip for me to send into a prison that had incarcerated a friend of mine I use to bake with, we called him Fat Richie.

Fat Richie got convicted as a 3 time loser for drug charges and was given 26 years.

I looked for a dated of issue, and it turns out that paper was given to me in 1996.

17 years ago.

Dude is still in prison.

Then I got bored thinking about reading so I got all A.D.D. and hopped on my computer....

Lo and behold, like a Genie in a Bottle......what were the odds?

On my facebook private message board was a buddy of mine who currently cooks/bakes in a prison.

Brah's name is Gary, and he sent me this interesting World War One cake recipe.

I was really honored to get to peek at this, it wasn't "just" a recipe.

It was a family recipe.

Anyways, I asked Gary if I could show it to you.

He said yes.

I also asked him to tell you a little something about himself.

He said yes.

3-2-1 and ACTION 

 Here is the recipe! It is called War Cake, or as my mother calls it, Poverty Bread. It was popular around World War I, and into the Depression as supplies were limited and does not use eggs, butter, or milk. My mother always baked it in a tube pan, but I have done it in a cake pan and it has turned out great!

War Cake

1 lb. raisins
2 cups boiling water
1 T baking soda
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup cold water
4 cups flour
2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cups walnuts, chopped (optional)

Simmer raisins, shortening, sugar and spices in the 2 cups boiling water for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool to room temperature. Add all other ingredients and mix well. Pour batter into greased, 10 inch tube pan. Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Cool for 5 minutes and then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

-   END   -

 You sure can put it in your blog! My title is actually Corrections Cook, but I help out in the bakery as needed to cover for our baker and to help create new items for the menu. I loved the bakery classes that I had in college. By the time I had enrolled at SCTC in North Mankato, the baking program was long gone. Then, when I was interested in taking the Dunwoody program, it too, had closed.

I just made one of these cakes at work today to see if we could work it into the menu and it worked out very well! I would be happy to demo the cake for you at the booth! My mother always made this in a tube pan so we just usually ate it like a holiday bread, with butter. Either in a tube pan, or a cake pan, it works well when paired with sweetened whipped cream, like a you would serve a gingerbread. A really sweet icing or frosting would mess up the flavor profile too much.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Cake that Rocked the Texas State Fair

I've mentioned on several occasions that the 2 biggest American State Fairs take place in Texas and Minnesota.

Being that I reside in the land of 10,000 Lakes......

Being that I have Worked the Minnesota State Fair for a decade......

You might think that I view the my Texan counterpart as some sort of advisory.

Nothing could be further than the truth.

I may have mentioned that as a kid, I summered with relatives in Dallas, and Texas has a very special place in my heart.

To be honest, I don't have a lot on my Life's Wish List.

I've been given a lot, but boy-oh-boy would I love to attend the Texas State Fair, or bet yet....work it.

Just once.

Anyways, I often creep their Fair, events, and of course recipes.

Listed below is a Texas Fair highlight, that I'm sure you will enjoy.

Recipes that turned State Fair judges' heads

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 EVANS CAGLAGE/DMN
The meringue garnish is broken into small pieces and used to decorate the top and sides of cake in a mosaic pattern. 
First-time entrant Kate Rovner of Plano won the American Pie Council National Championship in Orlando, Fla., in April with this luscious, creamy dessert.

Lemon Swirl Cream Cheese Pie

1 ½ cups vanilla wafer crumbs ¾ cup almonds, finely ground and toasted 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest Pinch of salt 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese 2/3 cup sugar 2 eggs ½ cup sour cream 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (divided use) ½ teaspoon lemon extract Lemon Curd (recipe follows) ½ cup heavy whipping cream 2 tablespoons powdered sugar 12 to 15 fresh raspberries, for garnish 1 lemon, cut into thin slices and quartered, for garnish
Heat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick spray.
In a medium mixing bowl, use a fork to toss together the vanilla wafer crumbs, almonds, lemon zest and salt. Stir in the melted butter. Press the mixture onto the bottom and sides of the pie plate.
Bake for 12 minutes on the bottom oven rack. Remove from the oven and set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and 2/3 cup sugar at medium speed for 2 minutes or until smooth. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and beat at low speed until incorporated. Beat in the sour cream, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract and lemon extract. Beat in the Lemon Curd (except for reserved ½ cup). Pour into the baked crust. Dollop the reserved ½ cup Lemon Curd onto the filling and swirl into the filling with a small knife.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the center is nearly set. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack. Cool for 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
To garnish, in a chilled, medium mixing bowl, beat the whipping cream, powdered sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla with a handheld electric mixer, starting at the lowest speed and increasing gradually each minute, until stiff peaks are formed. Using a pastry bag, pipe the whipped cream decoratively around the border of the pie. Decorate with fresh raspberries and lemon slices. Refrigerate until serving time.
Makes 8 servings.
Lemon Curd: In a 1 ½ -quart saucepan, whisk together 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, ½ cup fresh lemon juice and ½ cup sugar. Whisk in 3 slightly beaten eggs and 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking frequently for 7 minutes or until the curd is thick. Remove from heat and use a food mill or sieve to strain the curd into a small bowl. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface. Cool 30 minutes. Reserve ½ cup of the lemon curd for swirling into the filling.
PER SERVING: Calories 758 (68% fat) Fat 59 g (34 g sat) Cholesterol 279 mg Sodium 307 mg Fiber 2 g Carbohydrates 50 g Protein 11 g
SOURCE: Kate Stewart Rovner, Best of Show, American Pie Council Crisco National Pie Championships, April 2010

Lee Smith of Waxahachie won a blue ribbon last year at the State Fair with this cake recipe, which she has been making for her family for 35 years.

Red Velvet Pound Cake
1 cup unsalted butter ½ cup shortening 3 cups sugar 7 eggs 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 (1-ounce) bottle (2 tablespoons) liquid red food coloring 3 cups cake flour ¼ teaspoon salt 1 cup milk Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan (see note).
In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter, shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla and food coloring. Combine the flour and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk and beat well.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake 1 hour and 20 minutes, until an inserted toothpick tests clean. Cool completely. Frost with the Cream Cheese Frosting.
Makes 16 servings.
Cream Cheese Frosting: Mix together ½ cup (1 stick) softened unsalted butter, 8 ounces softened cream cheese, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 16 ounces sifted powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons milk until smooth and creamy.
Note: A tube pan is a circular cake pan with tall sides and a chimney in the middle. A Bundt pan also may be used. Baking time may vary; check doneness early if substituting.
PER SERVING: Calories 647 (44% fat) Fat 32 g (18 g sat) Cholesterol 154 mg Sodium 120 mg Fiber 1 g Carbohydrates 86 g Protein 6 g
SOURCE: Lee Smith, first place, Pound Cake Class, State Fair of Texas 2009
With or without limoncello liqueur, this elegant cake from Susan Apple Graass wins raves.
Blue Ribbon Lemon Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 1 cup vegetable oil 2 cups whole-milk yogurt 2 cups sugar 6 eggs, separated 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Lemon Glaze (recipe follows) Lemon Curd Filling (recipe follows), or 1 cup prepared lemon curd Limoncello Icing or Lemon Icing (recipes follow) Meringue garnish (optional; recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour three 8-inch cake pans.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the oil, yogurt, sugar, egg yolks, lemon zest and vanilla.
Slowly blend the dry-ingredient mixture into the wet-ingredient mixture. Whisk the egg whites until stiff but not dry, and fold into the yogurt mixture. Pour into the prepared pans and bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and invert onto cake racks. Cool completely.
To assemble the cake, place 1 cake layer on a cardboard cake circle or a plate. Brush with 1/3 of the Lemon Glaze. Pipe a circle of frosting around the top edge of the cake layer. Spread ½ cup Lemon Curd Filling within the circle atop the cake. Repeat with the second layer. Place the third layer atop the cake, then coat with remaining glaze. Spread the Limoncello Icing on the sides and top of the cake. Garnish with the meringue pieces.
Makes 16 servings.
Lemon Glaze: Halve 3 lemons and squeeze out the juice, reserving the juice for another use. Place the squeezed lemon halves in a small saucepan with 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Heat and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 20 minutes. Strain and cool. Can be prepared the day before and refrigerated.
Lemon Curd Filling: Sprinkle 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin over 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a small bowl. Combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, 3/4 cup sugar and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot but not boiling. Whisk 5 egg yolks in a bowl. Whisking vigorously, slowly add the hot lemon-sugar mixture to the egg yolks. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 170 F on a candy thermometer. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the gelatin mixture until it is dissolved. Stir in 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into ½ -inch cubes. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours. Can be prepared the day before and refrigerated.
Limoncello (or Lemon) Icing: In a mixing bowl, cream together 16 ounces (4 sticks) room-temperature unsalted butter and 16 ounces Crisco shortening. Blend in 32 ounces powdered sugar, ¼ cup limoncello liqueur, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Whisk at high speed for 10 minutes, scraping down the sides until light and fluffy. Alternatively, omit the limoncello and substitute 1/3 cup (or more to taste) fresh lemon juice for a nonalcoholic version. This recipe makes a lot of frosting; you might not use it all.
Meringue garnish: Placed a Silpat (silicone liner) on a heavy baking sheet. Preheat oven to 200 F. Beat together 4 room-temperature egg whites until frothy; add ½ teaspoon cream of tartar and continue beating. Gradually add ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar (made by processing granulated sugar in a food processor for 2 minutes) while beating, until the whites are very stiff and glossy. Sift 1 cup powdered sugar and fold into the meringue. Spread onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 2 hours, until dry but not brown. Cool and break the meringue into small pieces; use to decorate the top and sides of cake in a mosaic pattern. Can be prepared a day ahead and stored in an airtight container.
Editor's note: The Texas-size calorie count per serving reflects the generous quantity of icing Graass recommends to allow for cleaning your spatula as you frost, and extra to carry to repair any damage in transport. The cake was analyzed by Cooper Clinic for 16 servings. The analysis includes the cake plus glaze, filling and icing, but it does not include the optional meringue garnish.

- the end -

RememberY'all

Dont mess with Texas

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pineapple Upsidedown Cake (State Fair Prototype Recipe #1)

Every mammoth journey starts with the first step....right?

Well even though the Great Minnesota Get Together (STATE FAIR) doesn't start until late August, if the show is to be stellar, the research has to start much earlier.

This year I am somewhat nervous since my theme is one for which I lack a strong skill set.

This year it will be all about cake.

I certainly know enough about some off shoot camps like Grooms Cakes and Bundnt's.

But I simply haven't baked as many cakes as most of you reading this column.

Klecko is a bread guy.

A pastry guy if need be.........

But a cake guy?

So the roster will contain 48 separate shows, I am guessing I will do 3 or 4 of them,

I did consider (and still am toying with possibly baking a Savarin Cake.

If you are not familiar with these, they are a yeast dough, much like a brioche. and they are shaped like a big doughnut.

The rings interior is then filled with a pastry creme and then that is topped with fresh fruit(often some type of berry collection.

But then I started to think why not make it more American, more Fair friendly..................

And that's when the Saints of Warsaw whispered "Pineapple Upside Down" cake.

As of this moment, I've never made one, but I looked through a 1/2 century worth of production notes and tips from industry periodicals.

Then I went to the internet.

Last night while you slept, I was stealing from the Pineapple Upside Down Cake muse.

Here is what I am starting off with, but if you L.A.B. Rats have ideas, chime in by all means.

Some might think 7 months of prep is a little much, and perhaps they are right, but when your entire State shows up to witness innovation.

It's not enough to simply execute your demo.......

You really want to own it.

Listed below is my prototype Pineapple Upside Down Prototype #1.

I sure many tweaks will follow.

(P.U.C. PROTOTYPE #1_

Ingredients

Topping
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 can (20 oz) of pineapple rings
Cake:
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 6 Tbsp cake flour
  • 6 Tbsp coconut flakes
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups of sugar
  • 1 cup salad oil
  • 1 shot (1 /12 ounces) dark rum
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sour cream

Method

1 Start by making the caramel topping. Take brown sugar and butter and combine and melt in a saucepan on medium heat until sugar dissolves and the mixture bubbles.  It should take several minutes. (After sugar melts, don't stir.) Pour mixture into a 10 inch diameter stick-free cake pan with 2 inch high sides. Arrange pineapple slices in a single layer on top of the caramel mixture.

2 Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Whisk the flours, coconut, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the sugar and butter together until light. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and rum. Add dry ingredients alternately with sour cream in 2 additions each, beating well after each addition. Pour cake batter over caramel and pineapple in pan.

3 Bake cake until tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Turn cake out onto a platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes 12 to 14 servings.

*Klecko Sidebar of Thought -

I am also thinking I might insert Maraschino Cherries inside of the pineapple rings -

Also we need to think about the pan.

I was thinking about using the Nordic Ware P.U.C.  pan, but some of the reviews from home enthusiasts said it was tricky to get the cake to "drop" if you used flour(s) with a protein level that was too high.

I'm not sure I'm buying this.

Also many P.U.C. peeps claim that you really are better served using the rectangular pan.

They said this gives the cake a much better chance of release.

If I thought simply as an engineer, I can see their logic, but as an artist......

Those circular Nordic Ware P.U.C. pans are pretty bad a**!

Anyways that all I got, do a brother a solid and give me input.

Thank you in advance.

K


Thursday, January 24, 2013

State Fair Cake Recipes

OMG.....it is already that time of the year.

Friends of mine from near and far are inquiring as to what the theme will be for this years culinary presentations at the Minnesota State Fair.

Switching topics each year is important because i want my audience....my state of Minnesota to see new and intresting things.

I would like to tell you I locked myself in a closet, or threw myself into the woods w/o food or shelter, in hopes of gaining a divine inspiration............

But to be honest, the topic came natural.

All I had to do was ask myself........

Q - Who do I like the most?

A - Girls

Q - What do girls like?

A - Cake

It was that simple.

The only downside to this however is cake is a very-very weak card in Klecko's personal baking deck.

But that's OK, I have time to make a recipe my own.....

I think I will be the "Pineapple Upside Cake" guy, so I got dibs there, but if any of you cats from the (651)-(612)-(763) want to participate.........

I will be filling the rosters pretty soon.

With that said, I just stumbled into this State Fair article that was written 5 years ago.

Enjoy it and have a great weekend, and don't forget.................

The word is CAKE!

Serving as Two Masters at the Minnesota State Fair

By Lavender August 14, 2008 by Categories: Uncategorized
Tags:

I stared at Master Chef Dan “Klecko” McGleno walking across the Minnesota State Fairgrounds about four years ago, and it was a terrifying sight to behold. My eyes were locked on the tall, spiky, dirty-blond hair atop his 6’ 3” strong male frame. His long baker’s coat was unbuttoned, whipping in the wind. He was wearing black jean shorts. He sported tattoos on heavily muscled calves accented by Size 13 black combat boots. This was a chef with “a pair.”
(From left) Chef Klecko, John Michael Lerma, Lorenzo Allen.
We met a year later. I was scheduled to appear at the Saint Agnes Baking Co. Booth to show fair-goers what was new in pie-baking gadgets. Klecko greeted me like we were best of buds. Warm and kind, he was reassuring about my presentation. I was a bit surprised, because the year before, when I watched him walking across the fairgrounds, he scared me. He appeared to be the type of guy I avoided in high school, because he would beat the crap out of me just for looking at him. Now, I was shaking hands with this gracious Goliath.
Presently, Klecko is getting ready for his 12-day stint at this year’s State Fair, where he is Master of Ceremonies for the Saint Agnes Baking Co. Booth in the Creative Activities Building. He has scheduled 48 shows taking place over 12 days in the room next to the booth. He hosts four shows a day. Each lasts approximately 30 minutes. Once the shows are completed, he doesn’t go home, but sells artisan breads at the booth until 9 PM each night.
Certainly, Klecko doesn’t do all this for money, but because he loves bread, food, and the people from the Twin Cites and surrounding areas who are shining stars in this culinary world.
This is Klecko’s fifth year as host. He begins scheduling right after Christmas, but searches year-round for culinary talent. He’s not looking for the people you always see in local magazines or on television. He seeks the quiet food talents who inspire the crowds at the fair. He wants those fair-goers to take something home with them besides discounted yardsticks.
When we sat down at Kopplin’s Coffee Shop in St. Paul to talk, Klecko wore his signature white T-shirt and black jean shorts. His enthusiasm for gab was contagious, and he was entertaining.
Klecko had just returned from three weeks at the University of Moscow on his third trip to Russia. He was energized.
As Klecko recounted, “I spent half my time at the Russian University of Cooperation Moscow Division, and half my time at Krasnodar, a city in Southern Russia on the Kuban River. My job was instructing top baking students in the methods and technologies for baking.”
On another note, Klecko related, “I also just completed a book on dog biscuits that is being published by the Minnesota Historical Society. It features high-end ingredients to create biscuits for man’s best friend. Some of the recipes include the greatest ingredients in the world—better ingredients than in half the restaurants in the Twin Cities.”
What are those ingredients?
In Kecko’s words, “Saffron is just one of the ingredients in the ‘Status Biscuit.’ I also am using squid ink and many other items to enhance the biscuits.”
The Master of Ceremonies, who will host himself in a couple of shows at the Saint Agnes Baking Co. Booth, shares, “I will demonstrate Caviar Dog Biscuits in one show, Key Lime Sweet Breads another day, and Zombie Cookies [molasses and cayenne pepper are just some of the ingredients] on another day.”
I asked Klecko to describe the worst guest he’d had so far, and he replied, “It was a woman doing a Sweet Potato Pie with then-St. Paul Mayor [Randy] Kelly. Thousands of people showed up for the event—except the pie baker.”
And the best show to date?
According to Klecko, “The number-one best show was a pie-making show with John Michael Lerma. [I grinned.] Another was Scandinavian Cuisine, and then one for coffee—roasting, and information about coffee from around the world.”
As for this year’s highlights, Klecko stated, “It’s back to basics—back to the bakery. I’m taking out the chef superstars. Fair-goers come to learn. I am going to provide them with the best, and show how they do their work: Best Pie Baker, Best Rye Bread Maker, and Best Canning Person. I’m bringing in people like Todd Churchill from Thousand Hills Cattle Company.”
Go to www.MNStateFair.org for dates and topics. Shows are at 11 AM, 1 PM, 3 PM, and 5 PM.
Be sure to introduce yourself to the Master himself. In between his show-hosting and bread-baking, ask to see the Ronald Reagan tattoo on his upper arm. You’ll make an original—and very tall—friend in Dan Klecko.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Iowa City - Baking Mecca

From time to time I like to broadcast who is reading The Last American Baker.

As this site increases it's international presence, so does my excitement.

How cool is it that out family of L.A.B. Rats has spread across the planet.

As of this moment we are 106 countries, holding hands and preaching the gospel while expressing our love by offering up tributes, piping hot.....fresh out of the oven.

Welcome aboard.....................

British Virgin Islands -

Welcome aboard.....................

Czech Republic -

Welcome aboard.....................

Kyrgyzstan -

Welcome aboard......................

Panama -

Welcome aboard......................

Sri Lanka -

Earlier in the week I tallied up the sites hits and saw it had just rolled over 62 000.

I then looked on a chart of current American cities with a population of 62 000 and my finger landed on Iowa City.

I liked thinking that we have as many hits.....

As many minds focused on the hearth as an entire Midwestern city.

It really is quite staggering.

Ever since Klecko has been a kid, he has loved maps, and he has loved numbers, so thanks for taking a second to indulge his whimsy.

P.S. Take note, our hits are lacking in Africa and the polar regions, if you got peeps in either, do a brother a solid and send them a link.

Thanks

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Frog & Fish

As of late, Klecko has been out on sales calls.

I think we've talked about this recently, no?

To do a sales call, 2 things need to take place......

#1 - you need to have a special kinda moxy, after all, it is quite nervy to walk into somebody else's personal space, knowing that they already know...you are about to preach your own brand of salvation on them.

#2 - you need to bring gifts. Warhol always said that if you left trinkets with people, they would always remember you. I bring bread.

Within the last 10 days I've made some wide sweeping rounds, and in that time, I've made one observation.

Not an observation that will make me any money, nor an observation that is spectacular enough to get you to share it with your friends or loved ones.

Just an observation.

Early last week I stopped at a place along the Mississippi River that specializes in Prime Rib. The purchasing guy wanted to see some 4 inch ciabatta squares.

When I showed up and tossed him the samples, dudes eyes lit up......

"I have to show these to my chef, he'll really like these, and who knows, they might work out well with his catering gigs. Frog....where are you? Has anybody seen Frog?"

Was I hearing this right?

Was I really waiting to meet "Frog"?

Remember, this question is being asked by a guy (Klecko) who wears a fake moniker that resembles a clowns Sir name.

Then earlier this week, I stopped by one of Capitol Cities classic steak houses and spoke with a chef who went by the name "Fish."

Apart from each other, these stories are mildy amusing, however....tied together, well let's just say Klecko might be wondering what divine intervention lies in store.

Lets face the facts.....you just don't get a Frog and a Fish placed in front of you, and then thats-that.

Sometimes the Cosmo's has its own way of saying.......

"Wake up Plop A**, something important is about to take place.

Anyways..................

So then I stumble back into the plant after pimpimg an entire shift while the wind chill was 30 below zero (F).

On my desk is an envelope with an impressive crest in the return address spot.

The crest represented a private school that brought a number of it's high school students on a tour several weeks back.

The teachers were glorious, and their 15 or 16 students cracked me up. It is always a pleasure to spend a 1/2 to an hour talking with young adults.

The one thing I got out of this interaction, the one thing I really wanted to tell you guys, i forgot about it....sorry, but who knows, maybe I simply blocked it out.

At one point in the tour, I asked the young adults a question.

"Tonight is the last night you are going to spend on planet Earth, so what restaurant would you want to eat at?"

First off, none of them fought me on the question.

Nobody said that they wanted to stay home and cook.

Instead the students rifled off the choices one after another........

Arbys -

Domino's Pizza -

McDonald's for a McRib -

Subway -

So Klecko interrupts thinking maybe they didn't get the full message..................

"Guys, it can be ANY restaurant, French-Italian-Japanese....whatever!"

Jimmy John's -

Pizza Hut -

Taco Bell -

Every single kid made it a point to not repeat somebody elses selection, but every single one of them made certain to stay within the fast food vibe.

Shoot....I almost felt relieved when the girl who asked all the smart questions said she likes nicer restaurants. Restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings.

The jaws of the teachers hit the ground.

Was this verbal questioner indicative of the majority of Americans youth?

I'm not sure, but it did trip me out a bit.

Keep on rocking the free world - your friend

THE LAST AMERICAN BAKER

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Goosewurst Soup Recipe & the Bolshoi Ballet

PART ONE

Friday Night / 9:22 P.M.

Klecko stood in the midst of the kitchen......alone with a bag of groceries, in silence.

He didn't have that customary humming of the television to lull him while he considered settling into the evening.

It had been a tough week for your favorite baker. Tougher than most.

Thank God it wasn't "Having a Dog Die" kinda bad...

But it was bad enough.

If there's one thing I've learned over the years.....

WHEN LIFE STARTS TO SPIN OUT OF CONTROL.......MAKE SOUP AND DRINK SCOTCH.

All day Friday, I covered the 4 corners of the Metro pimping a new breadline to potential accounts.

Chef's don't like it when you interrupt them only to show them retread baked goods, standards that they have waltzed with before, they want something fresh, something new, something a little sexier.

That's why smart bakers / salespeople will put together a bag filled with new and interesting items......

"What's up chef, do you have 30 seconds for me? I just want to describe the gift I've brought for you."

The word "gift" always seems to go over better than "samples".

The Bread Pimp continues.............

"I have seen the future of rock & roll, and its name is Bruce Springsteen, but the future of the Twin Cities 2013 bread is even going to be more spectacular."

In my bag I had 5 different items, and much like a fashion show, your presentation can add or lose appeal, buy what you show, and when you show it.

Harry Houdini once said "Open and Close with your 2 best tricks."

So Klecko opened with his 1 pound Old World Pretzel Baguette.

"Just smell that chef, you don't even have to open the bag, just press your nose to the plastic and sniff right through it."

While the smile almost automatically surfaced on my clients face, I did my best to keep the momentum going......

"None of that baking soda / savage strategy in this little gem. Each and everyone of these marvels is hand dipped in the devils brew by yours truly."

My closing piece I presented.... it was so such a show stopper.

Most chefs know how difficult it is to make a true pretzel bread, and although they admire it's complexity and the precision that it takes to produce this greatness......

The trick has been done before.

Sure, some chefs haven't had the authentic version, or maybe they haven't even witnessed it first hand.......but odds are, they've got around, they've heard stories.

Hells Bells, one of the first things they teach chefs at chef school is that hand dipped pretzel bread is pretty much like the Manna caste down from heaven to those cats that crossed the desert for 40 years.

So was is a Bread Pimp to do?

How does a Bread Pimp impress?

Well, it's interesting you should ask.

One the thing that really brings a the food community to it's knees is when somebody pops up with a product that not only have they never seen....but when it's a product that nobody has even heard of......that's when the culinary gears begin turning and the buzz will start.

Now if you've never been in "THE SHOW" you might say..............

"Klecko....why not bring a chocolate / peanut butter bread? Nobody is doing that in your city?"

Well kiddo, whenever you launch something new....it has to be more than presenting a something new.

It needs to be something relevant, something pertinent.  

You have to show your peeps an item that is obvious. When the client looks at the piece, they should be able to start counting the applications.

 They should have a look in their eyes that says.....

"Gosh Darn it......I just switched over my menu 2 weeks ago, this sucks, I have to use this piece right now."

Creating epic bread loaves is pretty hard.

In 30 years I haven't launched more than a 1/2 dozen level 10 concepts.

That guy in Italy who painted on ceilings didn't carve out a "David" every day.

The body and mind must be perfectly-perfectly-perfectly aligned if divinity even has a chance of escaping from the muse, and finding it's way into the oven.

This process cannot be rushed.

The outcome is almost always bigger than the components combined, that's why when you hit it, you simply want to scream out................

JACKPOT!

the bread I closed my presentation with yesterday.....it was simply Christ like, and I give thanks to Saint Faustina and all the Saint of Warsaw.

I'm not kidding you, I wrestled with the idea for over a year. I wrestled with the R&D like Jacob wrestled the Angel of Heaven.

But at much thought.....work......prayer......and much help and inspiration from Hennessy.......

The masterpiece arrived....

MUSTARD / DILL PICKLE LOAVES.

Actually this bread will be made in both loaf and bun forms.

First off, the color is awesome......it is canary yellow flexed with sharp green dill pickle chunks.

The flavor is indescribable.

When you take a bite off a slice, it's like angel feathers fluttering in your mouth.

But boy oh boy, there was challenges with this sucker.

To get maximum flavor I needed to be able to infuse as much mustard and pickle into the liquid base content as possible.

But this was so very tricky.

Just thissssssss much extra pickle juice, and the loaf would collapse from the acid shocking the yeast.

And if I put in too much mustard, the loaves/buns wouldn't get the proper oven spring.

Once I got, or thought I got the proper flavor ratios figured out, the next step was to surround these flavors with a body, equipped with an immune system that would let them flourish.

I checked baking books, cooking books, canning books and internet, but in many ways....little Danny was treading in uncharted waters.

My biggest highlight of yesterday was when I was pimping this loaf to one of the top restaurants in North East Mpls.

In the restaurant I ate dinner with my father after not seeing him for over 20 years (and then he died unexpectedly 6 nights later).

As I walked out of the kitchen into the dining area....a beautiful Polish woman who worked there pulled me aside....

She knew me.

She knew I was a Pollack.

And then she asked about the bread, and begged me for each and every detail.

Up until this point, my week had been tumultuous, but now, for this short moment....

Klecko smiled. 

-   the end   -

PART TWO

So here's how this works, Part 2 basically takes us back to the beginning of part one, where Klecko stands in silence preparing to make soup.

This recipe is going to be a test in faith since there were a couple ingredients that I had never worked with before.

The primary curve ball tossed at me was that my sausages were "GooseWurst".

Earlier in my day, while making sales calls I passed by the Pollack bakery that I worked at in December during my vacation.

After spending a few moments talking with ownership and my young baking disciple Frank, I stepped next door into the butcher shop where they have case after case of fresh sausages lined up.

"GooseWurst....what is that? Dude...that's gotta be a little rank huh?"

But the counter guy comped my a taste and to my surprise.....it wasn't heavy-greasy or gamey like geese can be. I was intrigued so along with my Polish Sausage....I got a pound of this GooseWurst.

GOOSEWURST SOUP

1 pound GooseWurst sausage
8 Baby Reds
1 big Onion
2 large Carrot
2 even larger Parsnips
4 ounces Baby Dill
8 ounces sliced Mushrooms
1/2 pint ButterMilk
Pepper
Salt
Garlic
Chicken Stock
Butter

Klecko Directions

The very first thing I do is cut the Baby Reds into small coins and place into boiling water

Nest I place the sausages into the broiler

Place butter into soup pot and place your fine diced Onions, Carrots, Parsnips, Mushrooms, Garlic, Salt and Pepper on top and saute.

While this is going on, your Baby Reds will be done boiling. Dump the "Coins" into a strainer, but reserve that Potato Water and dump the Baby Reds in.

Next add some Chicken Bullion.

Then take your diced GooseWurst and place it into the pot.

Bring to a boil.

Then add your Dill and the 1/2 pint of Buttermilk. This will give your soup some bite. Hennessy says she doesn't like to add Milk with water, she feels as if it cops an "Oil and Water" vibe, but you can stir some Flour into the Buttermilk if you want.

Then you just let the pot simmer. Your ratio of Broth to Buttermilk will be grand enough where you won't have to worry about burning your milk content.

While the soup simmered, I picked up the StarTribune and began reading an article about how the Ballet Chief at the Bolshoi had acid thrown in his face buy a guy wearing a mask.

The piece was accompanied by 2 photos.

The first one showed the guy in his prime. He looked all handsome, kinda like a brunette version of that blond guy with shoulder length hair that tried to kill Bruce Willis in the first Die Hard movie.

The second photo was a skull wrapped up in thick bandages, with eye holes and a mouth hole cut up.

Dude looked like the Mummy or maybe even a little like Creature from the Black Lagoon.

After stirring my soups contents and taking a large gulp off my Rusty Nail, I just shook my head and wondered.....

"What's wrong with people?"

I shave stood at the steps of the Bolshoi Theater on numerous occasions, over the span of several years, however my time in the Motherland coincided with the 6 year restoration of the iconic building.

Klecko has never been what I would classify a "Ballet Guy", but I have seen the NYC Ballet, and I've watched it on TV.......

But just standing in front of that building, was something special, It was taken up by the hype, pageantry, and maybe a Russian ghost or 2..

When I finished reading this ridiculous account the described how flawed human behavior can be, I folded the paper and tossed it into the plastic crate were I store the litter box dressing for my Chihuahua.

Now I shut the burner off -

Dipped a slice of Mustard Dill Pickle bread into the soup -

And now I knew I was nothing more than a pig for lamenting my week.

Danny Klecko has it pretty good and needs to remain thankful.


Friday, January 18, 2013

WORLD FAIR DOUGHNUT RECIPE

Welcome to the weekend L.A.B. Rats,

Before I start this post I would like to throw a big shout out to Sri Lanka for joing our chummy little forum.

It's nice to have you aboard.

We have a Sri Lanka restaurant here in Capitol City. In many of their dishes they use Rose Water. Just to be nice, I brought the female owner (who I kinda think was into me just a bit) a bottle or Orange Flower Water.

She didn't seem impressed.

She just rolled her eyes and then pretty much never talked to me again.

If you live outside of America, you might think that all of over here eat doughnuts non stop.

American television certainly contributes to this myth, but matter of fact.......

Doughnuts are pretty regional in the USA.

If you go out to the east coast Boston - New York - Phiily.......theres a Duncan's on every corner.

Other pockets in this country imitate this lifestyle as well.

Ohio and Indiana like to get jacked up on the glazed ring.

In my state.....Minnesota, the doughnut culture almost doesn't exisist.....even our cops don't seem to like them (LOL).

In the Twin Cities the doughnut shop has been replaced by the coffee shop, and most of these java huts offer up other pastry options like scones or Danish.

At 6' 3" and 271#'s.......this serves me well.

Doughnuts make me fat.

Recently I pulled up an older recipe, it's about 60 years old. It was developed for the World Fair.

Shall we take a look?

WORLD FAIR RAISED DOUGHNUTS

Cream until light.....

5#  10 oz shortening
1#  14 oz sugar
1# 14 oz milk solids
7 1/2 oz salt

Add gradually.......

3# 12 oz whole eggs

Add and mix untill well developed.....

1# 4 oz yeast
15# water (vairable)
18# 12 oz bread flour
11# 4 oz pastry flour
7 1/2 oz baking powder

Dough Temp 80 (F)

-   end   -

Just look at those ingredients. There isn't a lot of green veggies inthere, is there.

No wonder why my grandparents generation wrestled heart disease and life expectancy was so low....

It all revolved around the doughnut.

And to think this was the recipe sanctioned by the World Fair....hah.

Do they evwen have World Fairs anymore?

I was kinda thinking that the next one should be in Saint Paul.

Be safe peeps.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Jewish Rye Recipe

L.A.B. Rat's......

You guys know I'm married to a Jew right?

Each year, at this time of year, my mother in law tells me how glad she is that Christmas is over because all the "Christian Marketing" can be so overwhelming.

My mother in law is a lot like most of yours......she is pleasant, witty.....and boy can that woman cook.

Recently she asked me what made a Jewish rye different from all the other ryes, and I had to be honest.....I wasn't sure.

So I cracked open the Magic Bakers Vault and pulled out some of my bread formulas that were put together in the 50's.

The following is a Jewish Rye according to the Dunwoody Bakers Manual.

JEWISH RYE BREAD

                                                  SPONGE

10#                                  Medium Rye Flour               40%
2#      8oz                         Bread Flour                          10%
          8oz                         Caraway Seed                      2%
13#                                  Water (Vairable)                  104%
          5oz                         Yeast                                  1.25%
          8oz                         Shortening                           2%
          10oz                       Starter Culture (Optional)

Mix in low speed

Temp 68 (F)

Sponge Fermentation 3 Hours

                                                    DOUGH  (Remix)

Place sponge back into bowl and add.............

1#       4oz                         Medium Rye Flour               5%
11#     4oz                             Bread Flour                          45%
2#       8oz                        Water (Vairable)                   62%
           12oz                      Salt                                       3%
           8oz                        Sugar                                    2%

43#    2oz Total Weight
Don't Overmix!
Temp 76 (F)
Floor Time: 10 minutes

OK Kiddo, you are looking at history here.

This dough is straight tripping old school.

So once again, I ask...what makes this rye a Jewish Rye?

Sure, I could have hopped onto Google, or pulled out some of my million dollar Euro bread books that I bought at some baking convention.....

But just because its in a cook book or the internet doesn't make it factual (Klecko wonders if his L.A.B. Rats understand this).

I'm curious about your interpretations.

At first glance, Klecko picked up several thoughts.

#1 - There is no sweetening agents (Honey - Molasses - etc) in this dough.

#2 - The rye is medium, so you won't get rye pieces that resemble chunks of tree bark. Chunky rye is pretty Euro ya know.

#3 - Their is no Dark Rye here either. So for several reasons, this dough should get all of it's sweetness through the limited sugar that is in the formula, as well as the natural sugars developed through fermentaion.

#4 - I think we will observe that unlike many Ryes, the Jewish version will be lighter, have better oven spring, and in some respects serve as a segue from a modern enriched bread to a dense old world rye.
It should contain some of the attributes of both, but will in all actuality resemble either.

OK friends, I am far from being an expert on this particular topic, but I figured it might be of interest if somebody got this ball rolling.

SHALOM



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Twin Cities Food Workers Tattoo's

Back in the early 90's, I used to have to do night club shows with a friend of mine named Brutus.

We did this grunge magic show called "Brutus & Nero's Entertainment Empire."

While larger scale "Freak Shows" like Jim Rose toured with La La Palooza, the thing that made my "Grunge Magic Show" unique was....me and Brutus actually had zero talent.

The premise of our show was to sit on top of inverted 5 gallon honey buckets, smoke cigarettes on stage while drinking gin straight from the bottle.

Many nights the show ended with one of us passing out before we reached our grand finale.

Funny......this actually worked to our advantage, crowds and event promoters found our perpetual stage of pathetic but cool.

In 94 we reached our peak, in fact we headlined in the Main Room of First Avenue (The Twin Cities most popular night club for decades - and scene to where Prince shot his film Purple Rain) doing our show. Showing horrible films that we would make in a day. Presenting puppet shows about who was "doing it" with who in the Twin Cities club scene.

Anyways, its a chapter of my life that I am kinda proud of, but at the same time, things occured that may have ruined my chances for a well established political career if you know what I mean.

Anyways, I don't see Brutus all that often anymore. Life changes, pages are turned, but with that said, I value his him above most people I've met.

So this last weekend we decided to go to big Tattoo Convention in Minneapolis, neither of us had been before so we decided it might be fun.

Brutus told me he was going to find somebody to ink a "New School" octopus on his arm, I wasn't sure what that meant, but figured I'd eventually find out.

Brutus family line reigns from Scotland, and my buddy is one of those guys that slides into a kilt and goes to parades and Fairs to march and get loaded with his countrymen.

His mother is actually a professional baker like me, and at the risk of sounding humble....her skillset is stronger than mine.

When I first had the mayor over to my plant, it was her that I hired to baked the featured items.

Recently I have been doing R&D with accelerated alchohol levels in my rye breads, so I figured I pull some aside for Brutus and give it to him on event day.

The longer I find myself baking, the more I enjoy developing items for specific people.

To be honest, I was excited to see his impression.

"This tastes like Shite" my friend announced while rolling down his car window and spitting a mouthful of contents onto the street.

Nothing brutal honesty huh?

Listed below are some of the main attractions that showed up to this big Expo that took place this weekend.

Take a quick look and we'll talk about these guys in a second.


Entertainment

Friday

7pm Penguin Boy
8pm The Enigma & Serana Rose
9pm Suspension
10pm Vespertine Tribal
10:30pm Burlesque
11pm Tattoo of the Day

Saturday
2pm Penguin Boy
3pm The Enigma & Serana Rose
4pm Olde City Sideshow
5pm Tattoo Contests
7pm Penguin Boy
7:45pm Olde City Sideshow
8:30pm The Enigma & Serana Rose
9:30pm Suspension
10:15pm Vespertine Tribal 
10:30pm Burlesque
11pm Tattoo of the Day

Sunday
1:30pm Olde City Sideshow
2:30pm Penguin Boy
3:30pm The Enigma & Serana Rose
4:30pm Tattoo Contests
7pm Tattoo of the Day

Megan Massacre from NY Ink

The Enigma & Serana Rose


Olde City Sideshow


Crazy Philadelphia Eddie book signing

Penguin Boy from AMC's Freakshow

Vespertine Tribal

MCing by DR. Blasphemy

First off, Megan Massacre is without a doubt this events headliner, she's got a huge reality TV fan base, even my son Tydus has a real thing for her.

But what made her presence interesting was that so many people attending seemed to go out of their way to avoid her, as if walking next to her and grabbing a quick peek-a-boo would damage their street cred.

Now I can say this being that over 2/3's of my body is inked.......

People with ink can really be posers.

Think about it, I was in a room with peeps that had dragons and snakes tattoooed on their faces.

Spiders on top of their skulls.

Portraits of Christ - Mary and not to mention their friend Satan plastered across their back.

The convention floor was littered with people who obviously are geared to change their body, their appearance for who knows what reason.

Why?

In my opinion we-they-I do it to be different than you.

To show you we are us, indaviduals unlike the norm.

As Alanis Morissette says.................

"Isn't it Ironic, don't you think? Just a little too ironic, yeah I really do think."

That over a thousand people, many of which pride themselves as being one of a kind end up in a room like this where their "claim to fame" gets deluded.

Now for the record, I am not dogging these people.

People of Ink are my family and I love them, if nothing else....I'm laughing at myself the hardest.

My boy jason Walstrom and his good friend "J" worked the convention together.

It was in many ways the media debut for my friends from Sea Wolf.

While Brutus sat in the chair, I filled requests to show my King Kong back piece, and even dropped my trousers several times to show my newest work of art....The 2 foot tall Organ Grinders monkey on my thigh.

I'll bet there was over 100 tattoo booths, but I'm not kidding......the talk of the town was those crazy kids at Sea Wolf.

My boy Jason has finally found his element, people were tossing him all kinds of arrow up love.

With that said L.A.B. Rats.....thanks for playing along today, and listed below is a special piece that was done featuring some of the Twin Cities best Restaurant tattoo's.....ENJOY.

Suspenion TBA

Kitchen Ink: Tattooed chefs in the Twin Cities

Skin art for local foodies


"EVERYONE HAS TO have a vice."
Emily Moore Harris, Cake Eater Bakery
Kate N. G. Sommers


Emily Moore Harris, Cake Eater Bakery
Scott Pampuch, The Corner Table
Kate N. G. Sommers
Scott Pampuch, The Corner Table

 For Geoff Hausmann, the lauded chef now at Travail in Robbinsdale, the vice he refers to is getting tattoos. Hausmann has turned his love of Star Wars into a full arm sleeve of illustrations of Jedi knights, Sith lords, and strange beings from alien worlds.

You'll find plenty more tattoos in the kitchen and the front of the house at restaurants these days than you did even 20 years ago. And not surprisingly, food, cooking, and baking images are often the subject.
"After I got my first one, I found it to be so addictive," says Sheela Namakkal, one of the owners of Minneapolis's Cake Eater Bakery. Many of her tattoos are food related. "I've got a full sleeve of pastries and a whisk on my right leg," Namakkal says. "I like to decorate myself."

Hell's Kitchen's Mitch Omer has taken his cues from a favorite artist, Ralph Steadman, famed for his illustrations of Hunter S. Thompson stories and books.
"The first tattoo I got was the Steadman on my right upper arm, 'Wild in the Bathtub' from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. This is my first tattoo and my favorite ink. If you look at that crazed bastard, hair akimbo, wild-assed eyes, and flaying the knife...that's what it feels like to be a bipolar chef."
Omer went one step further with this tattoo—he had Steadman autograph his arm, which he then had permanently tattooed.

Tattoos and baking have long gone together, notes Dan "Klecko" McGleno, the master baker at the Saint Agnes Baking Company in St. Paul. One forearm has a tattoo of Ronald Reagan to commemorate the wild rice loaf he made for a summit between the former president and Mikhail Gorbachev in June 1990. His other forearm has the ISDN number for a book he wrote, K-9 Nation Biscuit Book. McGleno's other tattoos honor his family, friends, and special occasions. If someone asks, he's likely to add it, McGleno says.

Scott Pampuch, owner of the Corner Table and founder of Tour de Farm, has honored both businesses with a tattoo on each arm—one of a "farm to table" series of images, the other a set of knives and kitchen tools. The images are reminders of Pampuch's approach to cooking and food. They also are placed very deliberately.
"All of my tattoos are in places I can see," he says.
At Kings in south Minneapolis, chef Chad Rielander sports plenty of tattoos, including a full sleeve on his left arm that runs all the way to his neck, featuring a spiraling cast of spooky characters leading up to a "big explosion of chaos on the shoulder," he says. "It really celebrates all that is dark and evil."
Top chefs know all about dedication, and many bring the same commitment to their body art. Rielander's tat has taken nearly 30 hours of work—and it's only half done. But he says it's all worth the effort.
"Tattoos are definitely part of the Generation X thing," Rielander says. "I just love to think about having tattoos done."

The Corner Table
Scott Pampuch is serious about food, which is clear by the meals at the much-lauded Corner Table, his restaurant in the Kingfield neighborhood, and with Tour de Farm, which brings diners to local farms—the source of their food—for a four- or five-course, family-style meal. He has honored both of these businesses with his tattoos: a set of knives and other kitchen tools after Corner Table became a Twin Cities fixture, and, once Tour de Farm was up and running, a farmer's table covered with several highly decorated pieces of essential equipment.

St. Agnes Bakery
Dan "Klecko" McGleno has the story of his life tattooed on his body, from highlighting special events in his culinary and personal life to work added at the request of friends. For example, his forearms are tattooed with two pieces of Soviet-era bakery propaganda, commemorating a trip to the former Soviet Union. The master baker at Saint Agnes Baking Company—which offers high-quality breads to wholesale and retail customers—notes that the tradition of tattoos in the kitchen started with ex-military and convicts who, when they got done with their service or sentence, would bring their illustrated bodies with them to the kitchen.

Hell's Kitchen
Mitch Omer, owner of Hell's Kitchen in downtown Minneapolis, isn't someone to do something halfway. That dedication has made the restaurant, famed for its well-made but unfussy dishes and an epic weekend brunch, a top eatery in the city. It also means he—and many on the staff—have taken to decorating their bodies with tattoos. Omer's work includes a pair of Ralph Steadman pieces (including an ink blotch he added to cover a less-successful, earlier tattoo) and others. The dedication to tattoos runs deeper than Omer at Hell's Kitchen. "Tattoos are actually a prerequisite for working here," he says, noting that employees' tattoos include a hot dish, a Land O'Lakes butter container, and one that reads "mis en place," a French phrase for having a kitchen ready for any of the orders on the menu.

Travail
Having a giant tattoo of C-3PO from Star Wars on your arm is certainly going to get attention, especially when it's joined by a bevy of other images from the original trilogy of films (Jar Jar Binks need not apply). So Geoff Hausmann is used to being stopped by curious patrons whenever he walks through the dining room at Travail, the recently opened restaurant that has quickly become one of the best in the north metro. While Hausmann's images from a "galaxy far, far away" draw the most attention, chef Kale Thome also sports several designs, from a tiny piece of cash by his thumb to a flying eyeball around the crook of his elbow.
Scott Pampuch, The Corner Table
Kate N. G. Sommers
Scott Pampuch, The Corner Table
Dan McGleno, St. Agnes Bakery
Kate N. G. Sommers
Dan McGleno, St. Agnes Bakery
Dan McGleno, St. Agnes Bakery
Kate N. G. Sommers
Dan McGleno, St. Agnes Bakery
Mitch Omer, Hell's Kitchen
Kate N. G. Sommers
Mitch Omer, Hell's Kitchen
Ruth Menard, Hell's Kitchen
Kate N. G. Sommers
Ruth Menard, Hell's Kitchen
Maurice Evans, Hell's Kitchen
Kate N. G. Sommers
Maurice Evans, Hell's Kitchen
Pizza Luce
When you say "restaurant" and "tattoo," the various Pizza Luce locations jump immediately to mind. It's another venue where tattoos—and piercings—seem to be a prerequisite for the job. Still, you won't find all that many food-related tattoos among the staff. And much of the work is extensive, featuring full sleeves, intricate designs, and images that range from dark to playful.

Kings
Chef Chad Rielander of Kings spends his days preparing potato gnocchi, pot roast, and other delights at his south Minneapolis wine bar and restaurant, but his tattoos are another passion. He has started work on an impressive but still-unfinished full-sleeve tattoo, sporting coils of barbed wire from his wrist through his arm and around his neck.

Cake Eater Bakery
Sheela Namakkal loves to bake, which is a great thing for the patrons at Cake Eater Bakery, where you can choose from dozens of kinds of cupcakes, cookies, muffins, and other goodies. It's also a love she shows on her body, from the "Live by the Whisk, Die by the Whisk" tattoo to a full sleeve of baked goods and equipment (highlighted by a giant mixing bowl). She's not alone in her decorations, however. Emily Moore Harris also showcases plenty of ink, highlighting a love of sewing and a fez-wearing bird.

Grand Café
At this south Minneapolis restaurant, where the brunch landed on Bon Appetit's Top 10 list in 2009, head chef Ben Pichler doesn't necessarily have food-related tattoos, though he does have several saffron lily flowers—a classic addition to many dishes—tattooed on the inside of one arm. Others are dedicated to his wife and kids. Sous chef Jim McIntosh goes for a more whimsical look for one of his tattoos: a coffee pot fully percolating.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Official Baking Test.................

Dateline - Snap Fitness / Saturday Afternoon

I don't know....maybe it was around 3 in the afternoon.

And there goes Klecko strolling across the floor of the gym.

Saturdays are a great time to get your workout in since most of the worlds young people are out either attacking their desires, or simply laying on the couch recovering from the previous evening.

On this particular day, it was "Vanity Day" for me.

This is comprised of an entire workout souly dedicated to Bi's-Tri's and Forearms.

Throughout my workout, I lifted in silence, and paid attention to what my muscles were saying, but for whatever reason....I was having trouble gaining my focus.

The derailment started when I noticed the only other people in the gym were woman.

There was 3 of them.

Their ages ranged (I'm guessing) from between 25 - 40.

Each of them were pretty fit.

Each of them shared simular body types.

But the thing that kinda staggered me is each one of them wore black work out pants, and turquoise shirts.

2 of the pants were pants, and 1 of the pants were shorts, so it wasn't like these ladies came together after bowling practice, but their shirts....they were T-Shirts, but not in the sense of T-shirt that guys were.....

They were "Girl T-shirts", you know...the kind of shirts guys don't know how to describe because they have nothing like this in their closets.

You know, those T-shirts that almost appear blouse like.....

Only 3 women in the gym, and they are wearing almost the exact same thing.......

What are the odds.

After awhile I made my way to the dumbell rack and started doing a ladder system of hammers.

I started at 35#'s and worked my way down in 5# increments.

While doing this, my mind now drifted to ealier in the morning.

Eventhough it was my day off, I ended up waking up around 5:30 because I had to do some chores and then head over to work to set up for the first instalation of 2013's Saint Paul Bread Club meetings.

I think we've been getting together quarterly now for over 10 years, so sometimes it can be a challenge to come up with concpts that are both informitive and fun.

But sometimes the obvious has a way of eluding us, doesn't it?

I had this thought not to long ago, that as a guy who is months away from turning 50....I may be one of the last people that lived in a world where people (such as my generations granddparents) baked w/o recipes.

Back in the 70's it was not all that uncommon to be playing with your Lite-Brite or Vibrating Football game while your grandmother milled around in your peripheral - baking world class masterpieces w/o the assistance of meassuring cups, Kitchen Aid mixers, meassuring spoons, digital scales or recipes.

Just a handfull of this, and a pinch of that.

If you ever witnessed this as a kid, I'm sure like me, you probably never stopped to appreciate the genius of this process.

It seemed so natural,

But I think its safe to say....this method was taken for granted by most of us.

But then time passed......

The world changed........

People changed.............

And now, for whatever reason, almost nobody bakes like that anymore.

These days I watch young mothers with expensive baking gadgets scrolling through their I-Pad's or smart phones with their kids to find recipes from the Food Network.

Listen to me peeps, I'm not knocking a world of progress.

I'm not trying to say the old ways were better................

But they were LOL.

And if you are my age, I am willing to bet you will agree.

But now that I have nicked up my younger readers.....I will move on.

The bread club meeting takes place in my production facility, so on our work benches, I set up th following

1 50# bag of High Gluten Flour

1 50# bag of Patent Flour

1 50# bag of Medium Rye

1 50# bag of Whole Wheat Flour

Then I also had recepticals filled with Salt, Sugar, Yeast and I even made Soy Oil available for those that wanted to embark on lean dough concepts.

Everybody who came had been told to bring a small mixing bowl, but that was the extent of their instructions.

After a few club annoucements I informed my clubmates.....

Today you are going to make some bread.

You can use my proofbox, and you can use my oven.....but you'll need to meassure out your ingredients w/o a scale or a recipe.

1/2 the room balked in dismay......

while the other 1/2 smiled and seemed intrigued by the assignment.

Anyways....there is so much more I could say about this retro bake session, but I'll just report that it went really well.

Out of more than 50 loaves, there honestly wasn't a clunker in the bunch.

I really thought we'd run into some trouble, but the club members really attacked this project, often times asking each other for help in certain areas of expertise that they lacked.

When the meeting came to a close, most of my friends had a little glow hovering over them as they left.

Not just because their bread turned out, but also because they had an oppurtunity to return to a special place in their life.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Chefs-Tattoo's and the Hyatt

Wow, its been a few years since I've been to the Hyatt.

The last time I was there for an event, I went with Kansas City Bob, a Twin Cities Food Service Worker to participate in a state wide chess tournament.

I posted about this in a previous Blog, and as you might recall.....

I got my back side handed to me by a 6 year old,......

But at least he was the Minnesota Kindergarten state champ......

SIGH!

This weekend is a whole different life chapter however, this weekend the Hyatt will be hosting the cities best tattoo convention of the year.

You won't want to miss this.

At 3 a.m., I woke up, scoured my Facebook account and I noticed an artist from NorthEast Tattoo had sent this link to my guy, Jason Walstrom @ The Sea Wolf Tattoo Company.

Brah made it in a CBS feature piece, and so did a tattoo of mine that he designed, do you know which one?

Anyway, it's just another event I will attend that is certain to push me together with chefs and bakers alike.

If you happen to attend talk to Jason or J and ask for the Klecko-Discount LOL.

Have a great weekend L.A.B. Rats.



Curiocity: Minneapolis Tattoo Convention Has Local Artists Abuzz

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Eric Henderson
Reporting Eric Henderson
(credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
(credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The sound and scent of skin getting freshly inked will be in the air at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Minneapolis this weekend.
The Minneapolis Tattoo Arts Convention will be holding court there, as throngs of tattoo artists, vendors, enthusiasts and willing human canvasses alike all descend on the city.
This year will mark the event’s fourth year in the city, though as the video clip below shows, it’s hardly like the Twin Cities metro area is brand new to the idea of body art. Thirty five years ago, Minnesota’s then-governor Rudy Perpich declared Jan. 28 to be “Tattoo Art Appreciation Day.” (Hat tip to MN 70s.)
This year, the convention is headlined by coast-to-coast superstars of the tattoo scene: Megan Massacre, one of the artists featured in TLC’s reality TV series “NY Ink,” and Amy Nicoletto, who represents the west coast in “LA Ink.” They will be just two among the estimated 300 artists on hand during the weekend.
Also on hand to provide a freakier form of entertainment will be The Enigma and Serana Rose, both of whom know how to hang a picture from the inside of their noses. (Hint: They use nails.) There are also seminars, cutting-edge vendors and contests for participating artists. There’s also always the opportunity to get a little ink done while you’re in attendance.
Ticket prices are $20 per day or $40 for the weekend.
WCCO.COM contacted some of the artists scheduled to attend the convention this year to get their thoughts on what are some of the hottest ink trends of the new year, why it seems everyone and their grandmother are getting tatted these days, and, most importantly, does it hurt?
Scroll down to also see a collection of images from the artists we talked with.
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What are some of the hottest trends for tats in 2013, be they styles or designs?

Jason Walstrom, Sea Wolf Tattoo Company (Minneapolis): Styles come and go in tattooing as with many things in popular culture. Currently I cannot pin point a specific trend in tattooing, but what I personally am most excited about is the resurgence of a more classic, refined traditional look that tattooing had in the beginning of its history in western culture. Folky, Americana, and Patriotic designs taken from early wartime tattoo flash and given a fresh, cleaned up look.
Megan Hoogland, Mecca Tattoo (Mankato): Lettering! I’m also starting to see a lot more large scale first-time tattoos.
Adam Underwood, Mutiny Tattoo & Piercing (Minneapolis): I really think that western traditional tattooing is starting to make a big comeback. A lot of people refer to them as “Old School” or “Sailor Tattoos” but it’s not necessarily that. It has more to do with bold imagery, and designs that are meant to be tattoos. The iconography with traditional tattooing has changed quite a bit over the years, but the methods of bold lines, bright colors, and heavy black shading is still the same. It makes for a tattoo that will stand the test of time. It’s the root of tattooing, and it’s nice that more and more people are asking for them these days.
CM Rutledge, Beloved Studios (St. Paul): I believe the trend of vibrant, bright, rich and exciting work is what people are looking for today. Not to mention, people are looking for fairly sizeable tattoos to add to their collection.
Brandon Heffron, Beloved Studios (St. Paul): We try to not go trendy at Beloved Studios. But if I had to say animals and flowers are pretty popular. I guess you can’t go wrong with nature.
Jerome James, The Canvas Tattoo Studio (Eagan/Eden Prairie/Prior Lake): I believe the reasons behind the huge interest in tattoos today is due to all of the TV programs now out, and a whole new younger generation of people growing up in this age! It definitely has opened everyone’s eyes to the true art and reasons behind each tattoo. The old stereo types of tattoos are starting to disappear.

What do you think accounts for the huge surge in tattoos’ popularity in recent years?

Heffron: The advancement in quality art. The possibilities of what can be done on skin. Popularity in the mainstream (TV), social media, etc.
Hoogland: I think the TV shows have helped dismiss a lot of public uncertainty, though most of my clients come from referrals or the customer researching artists on the Internet.
Rutledge: I’m sure that the vast amounts of tattoo based television shows available have quite a bit to do with the surge in popularity, however, I believe too that tattoos are being seen as more of actual pieces of art rather than something used to rebel against mainstream society. People of all walks of life and ages are being tattooed. For instance, I once tattooed a 92-year-old lady and it was her FIRST TATTOO!! I’ve also tattooed lawyers, engineers and other very successful people that you may not expect to fit the “standard mold” of tattoo collectors.

Have there been any major innovations in tattoo technology you’re excited about?

Heffron: The machines are always improving. The pigments we are using these days are better. Everything seems to be improving.
Rutledge: Both tattoo machines and tattoo pigments have come such a long way even over the last 20 years. The thing I’m most excited about are the advances in tattoo machine technology, allowing them to be lighter in weight, smoother operating, as well as safer to use.
Hoogland: I think reputable artists sharing information has been huge in making everyone better as a whole.

If you could work on any celebrity, who would you choose and what would you tattoo on them?

Hoogland: Any of them. It seems like celebrities have the worst looking tattoos, so some cover ups may be in order.

Does it hurt?

Hoogland: Of course.
Rutledge: When I’m applying a tattoo on someone, I don’t ever feel a thing!! (Insert sarcasm.) A tattoo basically feels similar to scratching a sunburn. Much of the intensity of that however depends on a person’s own pain tolerance.
Heffron: It only hurts if you let it hurt. A lot of it depends on where it is on the body you’re getting tattooed. The ribs, stomach, behind the knees, the upper underarm are some of the more painful areas. I have some clients that can fall asleep while getting work done.
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Tattoo Artists’ Gallery

Brandon Heffron

(credit: Brandon Heffron/Beloved Studios)
(credit: Brandon Heffron/Beloved Studios)
(credit: Brandon Heffron/Beloved Studios)
(credit: Brandon Heffron/Beloved Studios)
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Megan Hoogland

(credit: Megan Hoogland)
(credit: Megan Hoogland)
(credit: Megan Hoogland)
(credit: Megan Hoogland)
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Jerome James

(credit: Jerome James/The Canvas Tattoo)
(credit: Jerome James/The Canvas Tattoo)
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CM Rutledge

(credit: CM Rutledge/Beloved Studios)
(credit: CM Rutledge/Beloved Studios)
(credit: CM Rutledge/Beloved Studios)
(credit: CM Rutledge/Beloved Studios)
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Adam Underwood

(credit: Adam Underwood/Mutiny Tattoo & Piercing
(credit: Adam Underwood/Mutiny Tattoo & Piercing
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Jason Walstrom

(credit: Jason Walstrom/SeaWolf Tattoo)
(credit: Jason Walstrom/SeaWolf Tattoo)
(credit: Jason Walstrom/SeaWolf Tattoo)
(credit: Jason Walstrom/SeaWolf Tattoo)