WBEZ | Catherine Lambrecht http://www.wbez.org/tags/catherine-lambrecht Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Preparing lutefisk, then and now http://www.wbez.org/story/preparing-lutefisk-then-and-now-96113 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-February/2012-02-03/lutefisk 1_Flickr_Ryan Opaz.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-03/lutefisk 1_Flickr_Ryan Opaz.jpg" style="width: 630px; height: 420px;" title="Salting lutefisk during preparation. (Flickr/Ryan Opaz)"></p><p>Unless you are a Norwegian bachelor farmer or a thrill-seeking foodie, you probably have not eaten lutefisk.</p><p>That’s because this traditional Scandinavian delicacy made from dried cod regularly makes it onto the “most disgusting eats” lists of gourmands and food bloggers alike. In some cases I’ve seen it listed up there with <a href="http://www.deependdining.com/2005/09/balut-egg-of-darkness-pinoy-pinay.html"><em>balut</em></a> – duck fetus still in the egg shell - or live, wriggling octopus tentacles.</p><p>Having never eaten any of those things, I don’t think lutefisk sounds as bad as say, <em>balut</em>. But what makes this dish so unforgiving is the way it’s prepared. Blogger Dave Fox, a humorist of Norwegian descent, <a href="http://www.davethefox.com/words/0112lutefisk.htm">describes it this way</a>:</p><p>“To make lutefisk, catch yourself a cod. Take out the bones, skin it, salt it, and hang it out to dry for several weeks until it hardens and smells like a dumpster.”</p><p>It gets better. The next step involves soaking the dried fish in lye, or another extremely caustic toxic solution. &nbsp;</p><p>Multiple water baths get rid of the lye, but the chemical treatment pulls apart the protein bonds in the fish. Thus the final product, after cooking, is a kind of fish Jell-O — if you do it right. If you cook it too much, you get a kind of fishy puddle. Too little and you’re left with fish that’s cold and jiggly.</p><p>Can’t you just see why Swedes and Norwegians would eat this dish for Christmas Eve supper? &nbsp;“A century ago, lutefisk really was a staple in the Norwegian diet,” Dave Fox writes. “Also a century ago, a lot of Norwegians fled the country.”</p><p>Wisely or not, some younger Scandinavian-Americans are now taking an interest in lutefisk. This includes <a href="http://vimeo.com/34975007">Carrie Roy</a>, an aspiring PhD who has participated in, and volunteered at, a number of traditional lutefisk dinners in the upper Midwest. These community meals are usually held in churches, or in Sons of Norway lodges, which are a kind of Scandinavian Knights of Columbus.</p><p>In December, Roy gave a talk on her lutefisk research to the Culinary Historians of Chicago. And in honor of the occasion, moderator Catherine Lambrecht, herself an ambitious foodie, tried to prepare traditional lutefisk to serve at the lecture.</p><p>It turned out to be surprisingly hard—tracking down two quarts of maple and oak ash hard. Lambrecht describes her cooking ordeal in the audio above. As you’re listening, try to picture the crowd of brave souls gathered there about to eat what she's describing, albeit with a lovely assortment of traditional side dishes Lambrecht also prepared: <em>lefse</em> flatbread, boiled potatoes, pureed peas and a Béchamel sauce with Dijon mustard and brown sugar. Bon appetit!</p><p><a href="../../series/dynamic-range"><em>Dynamic Range</em></a><em> showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified’s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Catherine Lambrecht spoke at an event presented by </em><a href="http://www.culinaryhistorians.org/" target="_blank"><em>Culinary Historians of Chicago </em></a><em>in December of 2011. Click </em><a href="../../story/come-where-sacred-meets-quivering-profane-exploring-public-and-private-spheres-lutefisk-carrie"><em>here </em></a><em>to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p></p> Sat, 04 Feb 2012 12:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/preparing-lutefisk-then-and-now-96113 Canning jar etiquette http://www.wbez.org/blog/louisa-chu/2011-12-01/canning-jar-etiquette-94513 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-December/2011-12-02/canningjars.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" height="399" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-01/canningjars.jpg" title="" width="600"></p><p>Did you know you're supposed to give canning jars back?</p><p>Me neither.</p><p>With the renaissance of home canning, and imminent holiday gifting, the rules of canning jar etiquette will surely be tested—perhaps re-written—and definitely broken.</p><p>"I try not to pay attention, but it does irk me when I don't get the jar back," said my dear friend and master canner, <a href="http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?f=16&amp;t=17020&amp;start=300&amp;st=0&amp;sk=t&amp;sd=a">Catherine Lambrecht</a>, "But I'm not like my one friend who won't give something to someone again if the jar's not returned."</p><p>Cathy pointed out the obvious to me: canning jars are meant to be re-used—for canning—and not simply recycled.</p><p>There are exceptions to the rules, of course.</p><p>My French chef friend <a href="http://www.gourmet.com/diaryofafoodie/video/2009/01/305_farm_to_fork">Armand Arnal</a> gave me a 1 liter <a href="http://leparfait.com/">Le Parfait</a> Super Jar filled with preserved rare, red-fleshed <a href="http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2005/08/pche-de-vigne/">Pêche de vigne</a>. The peaches, vintage September 2007, are long-gone, and the jar kept. Armand knew he was sending it out into the world with me. It now holds my rough cut Demerara cane cubes, and a dried vanilla bean pod left over from baking.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-01/sugarjar.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 200px;" title=""><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-01/sugartop.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 200px;" title=""></p><p>Also added to my kinetic collection are the four Kerr pint jars from my friends in Alaska, sent filled with their new BBQ sauce, which is especially good with wild game meat, I'm told.</p><p>Among the many jars Cathy's given me, is a wide mouth Ball quart jar of small-batch rendered lard. That I will give back, eventually. She knows it may take a while, unless I get into a crust-making kick. Please note that the lard is not preserved, per se. I do keep it refrigerated, but many generations before us simply kept lard next to the stove.</p><p>The Ball regular mouth quart jar of Bourbon preserved peaches from my chef friend <a href="https://twitter.com/#%21/cheftroygraves">Troy Graves</a>? I'm trying to save those for the coldest, darkest day of winter. But after I drink the last drop of last summer's sun, I will return that jar to Troy, overflowing with gratitude.</p><p>This Sunday, my chef friend Marianne Sundquist debuts her new line of preserves, called <a href="http://messhallandco.com/">Mess Hall &amp; Co.</a>, at the <a href="http://dosemarket.com/the-holidose-december-4th/">holiday edition of Dose Market</a>. Marianne and her husband Hans are using the coveted glass-topped German <a href="http://www.weckcanning.com/">Weck</a> jars. I'm sure her apple rum butter within is wonderful, because everything I've ever had from her hands has been, but the best part about her beautiful preserves? Since I'm buying them, I can keep the jars too.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-01/AppleRumButter.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 407px;" title=""></p></p> Thu, 01 Dec 2011 18:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/louisa-chu/2011-12-01/canning-jar-etiquette-94513 Culinary adventures along the Illinois River http://www.wbez.org/content/culinary-adventures-along-illinois-river <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-19/soft shell crab_CHC_CAtherine Lambrecht.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="306" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-19/fried-catfish-smaller-2_flickr_ed-fisher.jpg" title="Fried catfish from Ron's Cajun Connection in Utica, Ill. (Flickr/Ed Fisher)" width="630"></p><p>At a gathering of fellow foodies, Catherine Lambrecht was asked the following hypothetical question: If you had 10 days paid vacation and an unlimited budget, where would you go?</p><p>Her cohorts listed distant locales with enticing food cultures: Thailand, Switzerland. But the co-founder of LTHForum, an online site dedicated to parsing the fine details of the region’s local eats, replied this way: “Give me the budget and a car full of gas.”</p><p>The moderator of the conversation snorted.</p><p>“What, are you going to Gary?”</p><p>“I can make a day out of Gary,” Lambrecht told an audience assembled by Culinary Historians of Chicago in June. “There’s serendipity involved.”</p><p>Serendipity, and in Lambrecht’s case, persistence. To prove her point that one can discover delicious food in the most surprising, out-of-the-way places, Lambrecht has made a habit of exploring not just Chicago, but the city’s far outer suburbs.</p><p>When she heard that there was a region along the Illinois River where one could obtain fried turtle – a local delicacy – she spent the next three or four years hunting down leads until she found a cluster of restaurants that still served the dish.</p><p>Along the way she found a number of other unusual, and often delicious, local practices, including tortellini in broth curiously called “ravs,” and an entire county where local restaurants are fiercely competitive about their fried chicken.</p><p>In June, she shared some of her discoveries, starting with her fried turtle odyssey. &nbsp;You can hear her story, and her review of the food, in the audio above.</p><p><em><a href="../../series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a> showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified’s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Catherine Lambrecht spoke at an event presented by <a href="http://www.culinaryhistorians.org/">Culinary Historians of Chicago</a> in June. Click <a href="../../story/dining-under-radar-western-suburbs-and-bit-beyond-88995">here</a> to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p></p> Fri, 19 Aug 2011 20:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/culinary-adventures-along-illinois-river