A Reluctant Saturday Night Review, aka La Belle Crepe at Harriet

               I’ve been antsy lately, and last Saturday night didn’t help. It’s been… what, 3 months since I was last able to review a new Truck? And that was just temporary winter pop up version of something already existing. And now, with the snow melting and weather warming, teasing me with urges to go outside with visions of Truck rallies to come, only to be roped away with work and the realities that it’s still winter (well, not technically, but for MN…).

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                Thought I would have had this fixed a couple weeks ago with a great chance off to go to Harriet with a friend when the new Butcher Salt was out… and then work screwed me over. Again a clear ray of hope showed this past week; yet another new truck at Harriet, “La Belle Crepe,” and a friend available to join in a fun night of music, drinking and food.

                Well, there was a $5 cover, I didn’t find out until after I got there that the friend had a double shift, and the “truck” was just a catering table in the back corner. Can’t quite say which part I was most disappointed with, but how ‘bout we just focus on the food aspect?

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                That just really, really sucked… you don’t know how excited I was when I thought La Belle Crepe had started their own mobile operation. I’ve been to their café in downtown Minneapolis (you should too; it’s this tiny little closet-shop, like you’d find in France, just before 9th on Nicolette Ave), and they’re pretty good. We’ve been needing a GOOD, proper Crepe Truck for a long time, something with tasty components and a fun attitude.

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                Let me tell you why they would have fit the bill. Firstly, as one would expect, the crepes are awesome; good thickness, SOFT, really reminiscent of what the proper French pancake should feel and taste like. Add that to a copious variety of homemade fillings in the style of sweets, savories, and breakfast, and we have a delicious bundle of joy perfect for mobile eating. They aren’t all classic fillings either; one can get Caramel Apple, Orange dream, Spicy Chicken and Crab, Gyros, dill & Lox, Benedict, etc.

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                But wait, there’s more. Not only do they offer crepes, Belle also makes other French classic comforts like Gelato and Croque-Monsieur/Madame. Oh, and Vietnamese food, tasty tasty Vietnamese food like Pho and Bahn Mi. Reminded me of the Korean-Crepe truck my friend had found in Texas, only not quite so Fusion; Vietnamese cuisine HAS had a lot of French influence, so it makes sense with the concept.

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                Well, I had already paid the $5 entrance fee, so as much as I didn’t want to spend extra money it would have been a waste to just leave the place as-is. Thus I was able to actually sample one of their sandwiches, the Hoisin Pulled Pork. Oh boy was that good, each side completely slathered in the Hoisin Mayo, all those dressed and pickled veggies just shoved and stuffed in there (you should see them pile it on and push it in with the spatula), and the pork wasn’t too bad either.

                A little bit of sirachi on half with the tart veggies, it went really well with Harriet’s version of Sahti, a Sour Ale brewed with juniper berries and cedar chips instead of hops (tasted a bit like lambic, so I was already in a bit of a happy place).

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                The bread wasn’t the best sadly, being served without feeling the loving embrace of a searing hot grill or oven, but to be fair that was due to the setup. They DO toast it at the café, and I would assume if able to go mobile they would ensure a proper heat source to do it for orders as well. Also, the Cilantro (which there was a ton of, thank you! So good), served in whole bunches, was a bit… sagging. But again, I had ordered a sandwich about 5 hours (at least) after they got there with no proper refrigeration unit besides a cooler.

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                At the end of the day, they offer a fun concept with delicious, portable offerings, and I sorely hope they might get on the streets soon to properly replace a certain Other Truck. As for me, I still sit here, antsy and stuck, ever waiting for my first proper shot at a new truck this year.

               -sigh- At least it’s getting warmer.

Announcing: One Craving at a Time

The preparations are done, setup organized, and the first of many works complete, allowing me to finally unveil my new project! Let me hear and now officially Announce my Second Blogging Venture: One Craving at a Time.

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                With the winter season slow and various other things keeping me from going out to explore like I used to, I’ve had some more “free” time on my hands. As such, I thought it’d be fun to fill the time between posts with some other projects that, sadly, I’m unable to relate towards Street Food on a regular basis.

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                Starting off with a drive to recreate a long list of classic French recipes, One Craving at a Time will play host to all the various little “lists” and “projects” that I naturally create for myself, scratching off each item with detailed recounting for others to read (or ignore). From Distillery Visits to tackling Classic Desserts, trying out recipes from a certain Michelin Star Chef to Drink Pairing Ideas, this will be the start of my journey of discovery and experimentation.

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                I of course shall NOT be ending my work with Reviews on Wheels; it’s my baby, and I still have many more Trucks that need visiting and reviewing. Plus, if anything, it’s likely I may be able to create some new post ideas off of unique jumping points in Craving, or at least link to the articles. But at the end of the day, RoW will ALWAYS take first priority, like any spoiled first child should, haha.

I do hope that those readers who are into recipe-related blogs and such do surely choose to hop over and take a look. As for the others, hopefully you’ll be able to find some other aspect of it, either now or in future projects, which you can enjoy. For myself, I’ll just stick to where I am, plugging along with various long, rambling posts, the focus of which has now widened to whatever the heck I want it to be.

Good Luck and Good Eating to all, I myself will need all I can get from here on.

SFC: France’s Gift

(ugh, one day after I start this post I see America’s Test Kitchen do an episode on the subject w/ ingredient ratios and all that!! Durnit!!)

               Almost every country has that one street food that’s just iconic, either to them or those who know of them, whether we’re aware of it or not. Japan has Takoyaki, India practices Dosa and Chaat, Mexico their own “Corn on the cob,” Italy idolizes the Gelato and Pizza, and the list goes on. But I think foremost of this lineup of stereotypical deliciousness will always be France and their Crepes.

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                With their easy batter preparation, long history, holding ability, and amazing versatility in meals and flavor matching, it’s not surprising their popularity has moved from the street to the home kitchen. They can have a habit of holding a slight difficulty and trickyness in the cooking process, though if anything that’s probably made them more endearing in our eyes.

                It of course then fell upon me to attempt their creation sooner or later (especially since I have this totally awesome crepe machine/pan/thingy!!), and with a recent departure of a family member to Paris and their desire for a birthday dessert soon beforehand, the occasion presented itself.

Basic Crepe Recipe (a la Jacques Pepin)

2 Eggs

¾ cup Flour

½ cup Milk

1/8 tsp Salt

½ tsp Sugar

1/3 cup Cold Water

1 Tb Canola Oil

1 Tb Melted Butter

                Crepe recipes abound throughout books, websites, etc, all with the same ingredients but slightly different proportions. My past searches and experiments have led to countless, countless results of something that tastes sorta the same but yet never even close to my memory of that proper French result. As of now I don’t know if it’s simply HOW they cook it, a mixing preparation, or maybe they just use buckwheat flour (I’ve seen it in some recipes, but not a regular thing to get a hold on). Either way, I like to think a fun way to approach crepes is trying different base recipes each time to see what you enjoy; can also give one a good idea on which “sweet” versions are better for dessert and which “savory” for other meals.

                Such an easy recipe to put together, whisk the first 5 ingredients together to a thick batter, then finish with the last 3. The result should be sorta thin but with consistency enough to stick (sorta like a sauce). You can do this in a blender too; the idea is there’s too much liquid for overworking the gluten, but I still like the whisk.

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                So we get to the tricky party, actually cooking the guy; now, in this situation I’ve been quite lucky to be gifted with this cool, amazing little electric non-stick flat “grill” highly reminiscent of those wide stones used in France. Most people don’t have that luxury however. Besides this, people also sell these special “crepe pans,” which sort of look like a thinner-metalled cast-iron skillet but much wider with very tiny, angled edges, giving easy access to grab the curling edges and flip.

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                Good chance one won’t have these either, but it gives an idea of what kind of pan you should pick. If anything, the main importance in the cooking of crepes is ORGANIZATION of your station; get everything set up close and neat together in whatever way is easiest for you to produce. Find the widest NONSTICK sauté pan you have, preferably with lower edges. Good chance they’ll be rounded and you won’t be able to make as large of crepes as other pans, but they’re still yummeh!

                Move the pan to a medium-high temp; it should be VERY hot, but not to that extreme level ya know? One should still have some time to move the batter around the pan before it completely seizes.

                Brush a thin, even smear of oil or softened butter over the hot surface (I like using a paper towel, like when oiling a grill) before working; some recipes may have you doing these before every crepe, but depending on pan it may only be needed a few times while working, or even once (but you WILL need to ensure the pan is “clean” and free of any leftover bits of batter after each crepe; just a few wipe with a  dry paper towel should do). Scoop up a medium to large ladle (depending on size of pan, I hear ¼ cup for a 12” pan is proper) into the pan, OFF-CENTER (not in the middle, to the side) so that it spreads over more of the pan; there’s a mechanic to it, but I don’t feel like going into it.

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                Spreading can be accomplished traditionally with an awesome horizontal wooden spreader thingy, sorta looks like a car window squeegee but flat. For the rest of us, you’ll want to quickly lift and rotate the sauté pan at a high angle to have the batter slide over and cover the whole bottom. Really, do this FAST, and hope you have enough batter to fill a full circle; if it seizes up beforehand though, no worries, just add a little bit of extra batter into the empty areas and wiggle about. It won’t look so perfect, but who actually cares?

                This should cook quickly, so NO MOVING! After 15-30 seconds, the bottom should brown nicely, and the edge will (if done properly) start to curl slightly (lending crepe its name). Run the edge of your flipping instrument (most likely a spatula or, in my case, an awesome tradional long, thin wood paddle) under and around, pinch an edge to hold firm and lift, using the spatula to stabilize and help flip (gotta do it with both hands to get it right, not just one).

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                Before I continue, I should mention that, good chance, you will not accomplish a good, or decent, or even something even closely reminiscent of a crepe in your first one or two (or 5…) attempts. Don’t worry, that’s natural; if anything, it’s often just something one has to do to get the pan to a good temp.

                That said, the second side will take a lot faster to cook than the first, though it can stay on longer safely. And sadly won’t have that same, completely even and smooth browning to it; Most likely it’ll be sorta spotty. As it’s cooking, this is your chance to add any spices and ingredients to complete whatever crepe you’re making! This can be done quite easily with a pat of butter, spread over to melt, and topping with some jam, fresh fruit, some sugar and citrus juice, chopped (cooked) meat and/or veggies, etc. Fold, I like the doing it in halves to turn into the triangular wedges when it’s flat and able, or folding each side into a square package when there’s a savory mound in the middle.

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                Or, one could forego instant gratification and stack your crepes onto wax paper and, once cooled, into the fridge for later. One of crepe’s renowns is how AMAZING they store; people love them for parties, because you can cook them all up the night before, store in the fridge, and then just reheat them in a warm pan with whatever desired fillings on the next day for quicker service.

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                Then again, if you have all those crepes saved up, you could make something a little special… which is of course what I just had to do for that birthday dessert.

                Gateau Crepe Millefeuille (thousand-layer crepe cake… though it’s only 20 layers, ish), a very unique and very traditional preparation of stacked crepes with a pastry cream-like filling. A very, very simple but somewhat time consuming dessert which leads to a delicious and beautiful result.

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                Since I didn’t have 20 crepes, the pan made them too damn big for the amount of batter (and I did a double batch too), I decided to cop out and just cut each one in half, make a fully layered semi-circle cake. This also yields the possibility of cutting out shapes from your French pancakes, maybe making a small, tall square cake, or smaller individual circles. Many fun potentials!

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                While that’s kept away in the fridge, we can prepare the filling. Find any good looking pastry cream recipe (I was gonna list down mine, which was a simple Pepin recipe that used flour instead of cornstarch, but I wasn’t too thrilled about its final outcome) and prepare the ingredients. Could keep it simple, or like me you could add some flavor through infusion; in this case, adding some fresh basil and orange zest (along with half an actual vanilla bean, scraped) to the milk and/or cream while warming to get their flavor. Doesn’t need to sit in there too long, otherwise the flavors can overpower easily, so one just needs them for the scalding phase before straining.

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                Mix all the eggs, sugar, starch, and other ingredients together, temper once the dairy mixture has scalded (gotten hot, do NOT let it get even close to boiling and curdling!). Transfer back to the pot, turning the heat somewhere between medium and low (which you may have to increase as time goes on, depending on the recipe).

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                Based on your heat, the pastry cream will thicken either really fast or pretty slow. Whichever the situation, we must stick to the one golden rule: KEEP STIRRING! Never, never stop unless it’s in the very beginning, and use a whisk! One can start off slow easily, but as the mixture starts to thicken and give that little glossy shine the speed should increase. We are naturally taking this milk and dairy mixture to a temperature that it normally curdles at, but the starch addition is allowing it to survive and aiding in its thickening properties. That doesn’t mean it’ll do all the work, however; keeping it still will only serve to burn the bottom and let it set like a scrambled egg. Keep it moving, don’t let it stay on the bottom and sides any longer than it needs, and sooner or later you’ll be rewarded with a rich, creamy pot of congealed custard.

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                Quickly move this into a container (ideally a metal one which has been in the freezer for a while to chill it down), scraping off as much as possible, and cover it with parchment or wax paper covered in cooking spray. Move to the fridge, and let cool at least a few hours or ideally overnight (it should also thicken even further during this, so don’t feel you have to get it to the perfect consistency when cooking; go a few notches under unless serving immediately).

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                After cooling, we can move to the next step, or go right to setting up. Now, you COULD fill the cake with just the pastry cream as-is; many recipes do, and it’s a great suggestion if it came out exactly how you want it. There are other recipes though, and I sorta like the idea, that fold it with whipped cream, sorta making a mousse.

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                So I thought I’d do that with what cream I had, and I also whipped up some leftover egg whites from the yolks I used in the pastry cream. Fold in with the basic technique, “slicing” down the middle, gathering it with your spatula and “folding” it over the cut with a turn of the wrist and bowl.

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                Hell, if I was serving this mousse as is, I’d stop here, have those beautiful streaks of white and orangish-yellow. Put it over a beautiful, crispy tuile, some fresh black currants… so good… BUT we’re sliding it between crepes today, so a full mixing it is.

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                And putting it together is simple. Spread a thin, even layer over your bottom piece, top with another, spread a thin layer and repeat until either all your crepes are used up or all the pastry cream (sadly, the latter in my case… knew I should have made more whipped cream).

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                Also, by now I’m sure your crepes aren’t all perfect. That’s fine; take your largest (or one of them) and smoothest, best pieces and reserve it on the side (what I did was choose the best of my first two pieces, and if better ones came along during stacking I’d switch ‘em out) to place on top. This will act as a great presentation, and its larger size (amongst other large, good pieces placed near the top) will help hide the questionable ones below.

                Can serve immediately or keep it, covered, in the fridge for later. If doing the latter, make sure to remove 15-30 minutes before eating (… sorta like cheese… I don’t know if that excites me or makes me cautious). During this time we can finish it off the traditional way, with a Brulee of the top, best done maybe 5-8 minutes before ready at the MAX.

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                Spread a THIN (very important, otherwise one gets clumps of it), completely even layer of sugar over the top; should look like when one spreads sugar around a buttered ramekin and then taps out all the access (ideally… which I still have yet to master). Take your torch (hopefully you have some kind, handheld or those big clunky tanks or something; if you don’t, and want to attempt this, you could try doing it directly under a hot broiler) and simply run it over that granular top, holding it over the melting sugar until it turns a nice goldenish-brown, caramelized color. Do your best not to burn the crepe below.

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                We could stop here as well, just dust it with a bit of powdered sugar for the traditional crepe… but as we know I’m not one to “stop here” (and I’m sort of on a roll with adding things on with these guys!).  I have to get a good sauce to make this cake complete, and the Pepin recipe came with additional things to make a Suzette, so I couldn’t help but make a similar orange sauce.

Suzette Sauce

6 TB Butter

¼ cup + 2Tb Sugar

1 Tb Orange Zest

1/3 cup OJ

2 Tb Cognac

¼ cup Orange Liqueur

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                You’ll need to zest about 3 oranges to get all you need (and an additional 2 or more for infusing the cream earlier, hominah hominah lotsa citrus fruit…). Combine with the butter and ¼ cup sugar, either by hand, processor, or mixer.

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                The recipe states to add the orange juice to the butter; which, if using a food processor or maybe a mixer probably shouldn’t be to difficult. I found it hard to do by hand (at least in a smooth bowl… maybe a rougher plastic to get holding friction), if doing so yourself add in VERY slowly, a bit at a time. I ended up doing too much at one point and had to just add it to the sauce directly. I mean pretty easy, but having it in the butter just pumps up the flavor, in case you have leftovers that you might want to use in something else. Move butter to fridge before making.

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                Mix alcohol, sugar, and leftover oj in sauté pan, bring to a boil and move off heat. Whisk in COLD butter (of which you might only need ½-3/4 of what’s made) until fully emulsified and incorporated.

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                Assemble plates as desired; CAREFULLY slice cake with a sharp knife, revealing all those beautifully simple layers. Spoon sauce onto plate, maybe onto the side of the cake (not the top, don’t want to accidentally soften that crispy sugary crust). Garnish with thinly sliced basil and serve.

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                Quite a long journey from a typical French pancake to a dressed up layered cake, but that’s just how the modern world of street food has gotten to where it is. Well, that and as we know I like to ramble and add things. Either way I do hold hopes that you were able to enjoy and find inspiration in one or two sections of this long narration and recipe on Crepes.

SFC: Pork Ends and Certain Techniques

              There are so many things I’ve come to love about the world of Street Foods, Truck-based or not. But easily one of my, if not THE, favorite point comes within the use, exploration, discovery, display, and whatever other words can describe the noted exhibition of those ingredients rarely seen in our everyday American culture. I am of course talking about such thing as Offal (organs, tongue, feet, etc), Insects, and other random products which, so thankfully, have found an increase trend in the National Restaurant scene. Though of course it’s true surgance came through the streets, both international and at home, especially in the all-familiar Beef Tongue Taco (which you can find at Chef Shack and other taco trucks).

                I love being able to play around with these whenever I can get my hands on them, and lucky for me I’ve found the local Cub and other chain stores have started stocking things like Beef Tongue, Liver, Marrow Bones, Tripe, and other random items in the frozen section. Just this week, I decided to stop by once again, and happened to pick up something I hadn’t had the chance to work with yet, despite a burning interest at seeing its use in a certain episode of Triple D.

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                Oh yeah, Pig’s Feet baby. It may be split as opposed to the nice whole pieces of them, but they still feety. Memories of those weird appendages hanging suspended in a pickling jar aside, I still remember the scene of these guys coming out, fall-apart tender from a hot broth, with a spiky white-haired host describing them as “80% Fat.” And boy, was he right about that, but I’ll get to that later…

                So, what to do with this mound of bone, fat and skin? My first time working with it, having no outside knowledge concerning other ways to manipulate the pork paws (besides “pickling”… ugh), best to stick with the general Go-To for all Offal meats: Braising.

                For those who need a quick refresher course on the concept, braising is simply the employment of Two different cooking styles, most commonly a Quick, Hot Sear to the product followed by a Long, Slow Poaching (flavorful liquid preferred); in China they actually employ a reversal of this, boiling some meats for a while before finishing in a wok!

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                If following along, make sure to get a nice, wide-bottomed pan up to high heat; I just use a Dutch oven so I can do both cookings (though you can sear in one pan and poach in another if preferred). The oil really should be SMOKING when poured in; dump in the meat, leave for about a minute or more to get that hard color (w/out burning) and turn to get all sides.

                Going from here all depends on what one wants to cook it in, and what one has; the only thing I suggest is not doing just water. Since I sadly didn’t have any stock or broth around, I looked to add flavor in other ways. Luckily I had some tomato paste leftover in the fridge, so I employed a classic technique learned through school. Tossed it into the hot oil, along with some whole garlic cloves, actually letting it sorta caramelize/sear/whatever for about a minute (stirring).

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                By now, the bottom of the pan has a little bit of crusty bits from the pork, tomato paste, and who knows what else stuck to it. This we call “Fond,” and it’s the delight of all broths, stews, etc; we WANT this (so long as it’s not all black and burnt), so before adding whatever base liquid, we need to deglaze that pan. As such, I added the rest of a bottle of red wine (can also just use water) to boil and dissolve the concentrated flavors, scraping the bottom with a non-metal utensil to get it all off.

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                Once done, I filled it to the top with water (wish I had stock… sigh) and added in some stalks of celery and carrots to help provide that aromatic background the broth would have had, along with herb stalks (had some cilantro handy) and a little something else.

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                Yeah, pre-packaged spice mix. Don’t normally use things like it, but the folks used this dressing in a tasty dish a while back, we had some left, and again I needed something to fill in for depth and complexity. Remember this, following a set recipe is all well and good, but we don’t always have the needed materials on hand; that doesn’t mean we have to drive all the way to the store to buy something JUST for a one-time use. Learning to use random things we have in place of what we don’t not only allows us flexibility in cooking, but a great way to use up leftovers!

                All that’s left to cook it fully is to cover and simmer for at least 2-3 hours. Once done you’ll have pieces of pork feet that’ll pull right from their bones with just a tug of the fork.

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                While this is cooking, there IS something that needs contemplation; a sauce. Even with its flavor absorption and moist texture, I’ve found many braised meat meals just aren’t complete without some sort of sauce to raise them up, preferably one made with the same cooking liquid. My personal favorite thing to do is simply turn it into a gravy, or just reduce the liquid down until saucy, though not all cooking broths will do this properly (depends on what’s in their).

                Goin’ with the gravy, then, we start, of course, with a Roux: a 50-50 (ish) mix of butter, melted in a pan, and flour, added to it. A very classic ingredient to many French sauces, this allows a sauce to actually thicken while also providing a little flavor if handled right, depending on how long it’s cooked after combining the two ingredients. It’s said that classic French “Roux Masters” can identify 15 (or more) different stages of roux as well as know each of their proper uses. The rest of us mortals, on the other hand, happen to stick with 3: Blanc (white), Blonde(… blonde), and Brun (Brown).

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                Cooked very briefly, the little paste (pictured) will actually lighten a bit in color, which is blanc; left to start darkening a bit, without actually browning, and it has reached the blonde stage. These are well known for their use in cream-based (blanc) and light-stock or other liquid based gravies. I, on the other hand, am going for a darker gravy, so I cooked it even further, to a nutty-smelling, coppery brown color. After which I added some of the liquid from the braise (after it had enough flavor from reducing and the meat) until it was thin, whisking constantly until it boiled to a good, sauce-like consistency. (on a personal note, I also decided to add a bit of brown sugar and bbq sauce to adjust my flavors)

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                I know I didn’t really say TOO much to explain the idea of roux and its use, but all you need to know is this; the more/darker you cook a roux, the more flavor it provides, but inversely the less it’ll actually thicken. And Traditionally, one tries to match the color of the roux with the color of the sauce used.

                My sauce ready and on the side, I can return to the pork, gingerly separating it from the rest of the hot liquid.

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                With all the little knuckles and joints and whatever, takes a bit of time to remove the hot flesh from the bones.

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                And now, one can make the choice to eat them in these big, rich chunks, or chop them up fine to use in your own little street food mementos. I of course chose the latter (though I did munch on some bigger pieces beforehand…).

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                Once prepared, its uses are various, whether it be serving over a warm polenta with roasted tomatoes and sauce…

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                Or mixing with the gravy itself, as such:

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                And placing in a little taco like so. Maybe a little pico de gallo and slaw, or in my case some leftover cooked kale, shaved baby fennel, and cilantro.

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                Oh, and how does it taste? If you’ve ever had chicken’s feet, it’ll provide you with an idea, only even more of that tender Fatty, Cartilage-y type substance, a little bit of meat here and there, mmmmm. It may not sound good to some people, but this is tasty stuff, especially paired with the right things (was great with that polenta). Lot of that good meaty “gelatin” inside; it’s actually sorta funny, the leftover in the fridge have actually turned back into a sort of jelly themselves.

                Well, a little long for a post about just braising pig’s feet, but any good talk of Offal needs to be. And whether it be at home, restaurant, or Truck, cooking Offal or just a tough piece of shoulder, everything here works. Hopefully you were able to find at least some enjoyment in this discussion of the off-used products, I know I did.

                Until my next long-winded dialog, Good Luck and Good Eating to all!

Paulette Bakery

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http://www.paulettebakery.com/#

https://twitter.com/PauletteBakery

Main Location: Minneapolis (Mornings)

            There are so many fun little facets and parts to a successful Food Truck scene, and though our Cities’ growth in this has been tremendous we still have much a ways to go to catch up to the rest of the Nation. One of these aspects, as I’ve talked about with Racer at short-length, is a notable absence in the Breakfast scene. Sure we have a few trucks that have Breakfast OPTIONS, but none truly Specialize, and the number of them which actually show up early enough for the Morning Crowd is a notable minority.

            Hoping to lead the way in this mysterious territory, Paulette Bakery jumps onto the scene. Parking its small little self at various spots in our Downtown Minneapolis area, Paulette’s makes a note of ONLY serving in the early Morning times between 7 and 10am (not counting special situations and possible events). Whether the owner (whose name ISN’T actually Paulette –gasp!!– how dare she!) has considered extending these into lunch, considering how fast and often her goods sell out before 10, I’d say she’s probably fit to stay in that same-old timeslot.

            There are currently Two things one can get when they stop here: good quality, Fair-Trade Coffee (okay, they also have Tea), and Hand-made Croissants. The latter comes in 4 simple options: Plain, Chocolate, Almond, or a seasonal Savory Croissant (when I visited, it was Goat Cheese-Asparagus, yum!). Waiting in a simply stacked rack, these little joys make a quick bite for the Breakfast-seeker walking along the street.  

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Food: 9.5

             (Let me start by saying I am SOOOOOOO sorry… I forgot to actually take pictures of the Croissants themselves! I was so focused on eating them and getting back home it completely skipped my mind… guess that’s what they get for being so good. So here’s some better-looking ones I found online)

             3 words: Scratch, Made, Croissants. Unless she’s defining it differently, that means the owner is making the dough herself, from the base, and then rolling it into these amazing little pastries. Many people might not actually be aware of this, but this is HUGE. There are NOT a lot of places that actually make their own Croissant dough (or even Croissants for that matter); it is highly finicky, labor intensive, and ultimately a real bitch for any business unless one can actually do it right. That’s why most places rely on Factories for their dough; it’s all done exactly the same way, and one doesn’t have to worry about (your) Labor Cost. It’s basically the same as Puff Pastry, only not AS completely insane in difficulty.

             As for the results… BUTTERY. Rich, flaky, tender-soft Croissant deliciousness, which is then filled with even more deliciousness depending on what you get. Going for a complete review, I of course had to get 2 of these, so I settled for the Chocolate and (as mentioned) the Goat-Cheese Asparagus seasonal. Chocolate was of course that nice, traditional rich line of darkness, while the Asparagus… oohhhhhhh the asparagus. Now THAT’S how you use this ingredient; nice and soft in here (we don’t want the texture this time, too delicate of a wrapping), with that notable green, slightly pungent flavor, mixing with that tart, rich, creamy chevre. And the Croissant is an almost PERFECT pastry for it; much like the typical hollandaise used to garnish, its buttery nature complements the veggie nicely. I’m still doing a bit of a happy dance.

             These Croissants clearly blow all the well-known, average pastries out of the water, and even remind my Mom of a few of the ones she’s had in France. Now, going for any critical notes here, apparently they aren’t quite AS crispy as the “perfect” France ones (where they apparently learn how to make it when they’re kids, ugh). I also find myself somewhat wishing there was more to differentiate the simple chocolates from its competitors (besides the quality of the pastry); same simple design, but then again there’s a reason for that… it’s GOOD.

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Holdability: 10

            In the same line as Potter’s, grabbing a pastry in one of those small bags is about as simple as can be, there’s not much more to say about it. I was debating lowering it since the antiquital experience here is with BOTH Pastry and Coffee, but as one only needs one hand each with no issue.  

Price: 9

              Definitely a cheaper breakfast than getting an omelette or egg sandwich somewhere, with the croissants ranging between $2.25 and $3.50, with coffee for a bit under $2. As a Bakery, though, it is a touch disappointing they don’t offer one or two REALLY cheap options, like tiny Danishes or those little Frangipane-Puff Pastry “cookie swirls;” I’ve always found looking at and grabbing an extra little something to be a fun, naughty part of any bakery experience.

SAMSUNG

Speed: 10

              Instantaneous like any bakery.

The TOE: 9

              Maybe not the first Truck to serve Breakfast, but definitely the first in our lineup to specialize in it, Paulette looks to lead the charge towards a whole new movement in our Morning Rush. With talks of Café Racer and others in tow, a new dawn of Breakfast Trucks may certainly be closer than originally thought. It seems only fitting that such a small, simple Truck like this be the one to create such large ripples in the lake. For if we’ve learned anything in our explorations of Truck Culture, the biggest impacts often come from the most unexpected places.

                      Tally: 47.5/50

                       

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Final Thoughts

            A great start to our Breakfast-based Lineup, fantastic for those who need a quick munchy and/or coffee on-the-go. Quick, Cheap, Easy to Hold, and Delicious, it fills all of the street-eater’s basic requirements.

            With the limited options, I’d just say get whatever particular style of Croissant suits your desire. However, if you haven’t had one before, DEFINITELY get the Almond one; filled with that sweet, rich Marzi/Frangipane, it’s always just so good. Not to mention the nut-based flavors go awesome with Coffee. For something a bit different, don’t be afraid to go for whichever Savory Croissant they have that day either.

            Oh, and don’t forget to stop by Starbucks on your walk and laugh at them as you point to your Cheaper yet Better Quality Coffee.