Sunday, November 21, 2010

Memories of the Berghoff

It was a very busy weekend, and I was in need of comfort food and the distinct pleasures of cooking. The lovely veal cutlets at Costco immediately made me think of wiener schnitzel. Wiener schnitzel always makes me think of the Berghoff, one of my favorite restaurants growing up in Chicago. This is my homage to their weiner schnitzel plate, complete with creamed spinach and a baked potato.

Weiner Schnitzel

1 1/2 pounds veal cutlets
1 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
3 eggs, beaten with 3 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 lemons

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly pound the veal cutlets until they are a uniform thickness. Dredge in the seasoned flour; pat off excess. Dredge in the egg mixture; let excess drip off. Dredge in the panko and coat well. Place prepared cutlets on parchment-lined baking sheets in one layer; cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one-half hour. Heat vegetable oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan with over medium high heat. The oil should be about 1/2-inch up from the bottom of the pan. When the oil begins to smoke, cook the cutlets in batches for 2-3 minutes per side until browned and crisp. Place cooked cutlets on a paper-towel-lined baking sheet, and keep warm in a low oven until ready to serve. Serve with lemon wedges.

Creamed Spinach

8 cups spinach
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Pack the spinach in a glass bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for 3-4 minutes until spinach has wilted. Leave in covered bowl until cooled. Remove spinach from bowl and squeeze in a clean dishtowel to remove as much water as possible. Lightly chop the spinach and set aside. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and saute the chopped garlic until fragrant. Add the flour and cook and stir for one minute. Add the milk, and whisk until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens. Add the chopped spinach and stir thoroughly to coat with the sauce. Add the nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Weeknight Fondue

I called my little hipster kids from work late this afternoon to ask them what they wanted for dinner, and the answer was "fondue." I deflect this most of the time, but, after yesterday's disaster at the polls, tonight felt like a night to do some ironic "celebration."

Fondue always makes me think of my favorite scene from Heidi, when her grandfather skewers a hunk of raclette cheese on a stick, toasts it in the fire like a marshmallow, and scrapes the melted cheese off of the hunk and onto a slice of fresh bread. Swiss comfort food. In lieu of a fireplace in the kitchen, this is my best, quick fondue, suitable for a weeknight dinner.

Weeknight "Celebration" Fondue

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 shallots, minced
1/2 bottle Goose Island India Pale Ale
8 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces Gruyere cheese
8 ounces raclette cheese
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Saute the shallots in the olive oil. Add the beer and bring to a simmer. Add the cheeses, one at a time, and melt. Add the Worcestershire sauce and taste for seasoning. Serve with cubed bread, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and sliced sausage.