Saturday, April 30, 2011

· Flammkuchen, Sequel to Flumkuchen

This is FLAMMKUCHEN (our variant)—distinctly a main course for lunch or the evening meal. I wish you could smell the wonderful tantalizing aroma that wafts throughout the house while the Flammkuchen is baking.

This savory treat's sprawling journey includes its honored place as tarte flambée or flammekueche, the specialty from the Alsace region of France, with the base topping being a creamy soft fresh cheese, fromage frais or blanc...or both terms will do. Fromage frais means 'fresh cheese' and fromage blanc means 'white cheese'. A readily available low fat cream cheese like Neufchâtel is a fine substitute. Traditionally, the tarte flambée would include onions and lardons—small strips of pork fat.

(There is also a sweet variant, topped with crème fraîche, apples or possibly bilberries, sugar and cinnamon. Crème fraîche is a soured fresh cream, typically less sour than the American sour cream.)

The pizza frenzy of the 1960's is what brought this comparable flat food to the forefront. But, the creation of it is a story! Time was, as the legend goes, that Alemannic (a Germanic tribe of the first millennium) farmers who baked only once a week, or so, would test the heat of their wood-fired ovens by tossing in one of these thin pies at the estimated peak time. It was a quick fix. If the temperature was right, the intense heat would bake the pie in 1 to 2 minutes, the edges would nearly be burned by the flames, and exiting the oven would be a flamed pie or cake, signaling that it was time to bake.

It is acceptable to change the basic recipe somewhat, based on the cook's immediate mood. As there are many moods, there are many variations.

For instance, take lardons (think bacon) along with the cheese, and the calories begin to fast forward. We prefer to avoid some of those galloping calories. And we really like red sauce. So, we nudge our tarte flambée, or Flammkuchen as it is known in Germany, over the Italian border! We keep the crust thin, as it should be. Bacon, or sausage, is optional if not banished at our evening table (hint: baby bella mushrooms serve well for the vegetable oriented palate), but we do like a reasonable fling of good cheese. Purple onions, mmmmmm. And, no apologies, heavy on the garlic, please. However, keeping the weight of the toppings on the light side is a good idea, to avoid a soggy crust. We like our crust crispy! The photo at top accurately depicts how we like our Flammkuchen.

When Sam first sampled it, he slyly announced, "We could sell this!" Though his enthusiasm was appreciated, it did not motivate me to carry out his ambition. Other than again and again exclaiming,
"This is so good," Sam and I were unusually quiet while eating, completely focused on the delicious flavors and harmonious scents! We both agreed that Flammkuchen could easily become as popular with us as our gourmet nachos.

A short side note—In my own 100 percent German farm family, during garden season we were regularly treated to a sweet Onion Kuchen which highlighted green onion tops. Blended with soured cream and sugar, this custardy pie was part of the main fare at lunch (or dinner, as we called it), while at supper it was dessert. Either way, even the children looked forward to it with delight. Perhaps I should speak for myself only, eh? I personally don't recall tasting onions, though they were present in abundance in all their green glory. This Onion Kuchen may be a distant cousin to the sweet Flammkuchen. And Flumkuchen (previous post), well, it is basically the crust of Flammkuchen, though it stands alone as a quick-to-prepare comfort food. Beyond that, my first taste of anything pizza-like was when my oldest army-aged brother Ray once took two or three of us, who were tweens, out for pizza, early in those pizza-frenzied 1960's. Flammkuchen was not on the menu though. Seems to me unnatural. You would think in North Dakota someone would have thought of it.

If you would like to try what appears to be a traditional recipe for Flammkuchen, go to Delicious Days. For more details on the regional history of Flammkuchen and, for the sake of comparison, a truly traditional recipe, go here: Tarte Flambée d'Alsace or Elsässer Flammkuchen...where porcini mushrooms are recommended, but may be hard to come by. And here, ah, a Flammkuchen recipe which includes my beloved garlic. If you are really up for some adventure, try this Quarky recipe!


Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast
bed and breakfast hospitality inn
hill city - central black hills national forest - south dakota
convenient lodging location near
mount rushmore - 1880 train - custer state park
- wind cave national park - jewel cave national monument
- crazy horse memorial - black elk wilderness
- mountain lakes - harney peak - norbeck scenic byway
- george s. mickelson trail - the centennial trail
- historic downtown hill city - antiques

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

· Flumkuchen

Monday, I made a recipe that Sam and I both love, and that qualifies it as a favorite recipe. It is quick and easy to make, and is definitely a comfort food. Flumkuchen. After we devoured the bread, I searched the internet for cracker recipes...and I found a delightful Canadian blog, Crackers. with the period. But, when I couldn't find their recipe for crackers, I did find their Crackers. group on Facebook, and joined it. Since they haven't gotten around to making crackers yet (busy with so many other wonderful projects), they asked me for my Flumkuchen recipe, which I posted...and here it is now for you...

Flumkuchen is a cracker bread. I say that loosely, as some or most other Germans may produce a distinctly different form of bread or dessert and call it Flumkuchen. As far as I know, this particular form is traditional on my mother's side, and possibly my father's side of the family, too—Parents and nine siblings are all 100 percent German.

Mom customarily made Flumkuchen, along with oatmeal (and maybe fried or scrambled eggs, oranges, and so forth), on Wash Day. Eating a hearty breakfast sustained her through many trips up and down the basement stairs! This is a very flexible and easy recipe that puts up with a lot of experimenting:

Tender - Delicious - Nutritious - Easy - Quick Fix - Flexible - Fun
Flumkuchen - the way I usually make it - Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. - INGREDS: 1/2 c organic all purpose flour, 1/2 c Wheat Montana whole white wheat Prairie Gold flour, OR all Prairie Gold (Mom used all purpose flour); 1/4 to 1/2 tsp sea salt; 1/2 tsp baking powder; 1 tsp bread machine yeast; may add 1/8 to 1/4 c oat bran or wheat germ, but adjust liquid accordingly; 1/2 c milk; 1 T butter (probably oleo was traditional) or a healthy oil of choice; 1 to 2 tsp agave nectar (or sugar, maple syrup, honey, etc.).

Stir all of the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. If you use a microwave, in a small measuring cup heat the milk, butter and agave nectar about 50 seconds, until hot but it won't burn you. (Alternatively, heat the liquids in a saucepan on the stove.) Pour the liquids over the dry ingredients and quickly, briefly stir with a fork until a soft but pliable lump of dough is formed. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead lightly a few times into a smooth soft ball. Press the ball flat on a lightly floured surface and roll out very thin, between 1/16" and 1/8", thinner than cookie dough or typical pizza crust (or a little thicker, for even softer and chewier bread).

Do the dishes while the dough is resting, about 5 minutes. Dust any excess flour off the dough circle. Pull the middle oven rack out as far as you can without removing it. Deftly transfer the dough circle to the oven rack and don't worry if a little of it around the edges slips into the rack's cracks and you can't straighten it all without burning yourself. Bake 10 minutes then flip the bread over carefully and bake 5 minutes more. Experiment with oven time to get it the way you like it. We like a bit of brown flecking on both sides, and prefer the bread to be on the softer side, as it crisps up while cooling down. If various sized bubbles form on the surface, you have been a successful baker and may invite someone to pat you on the back. If not, the bread is still good, and everyone will be happy anyway. Yummy enjoyed hot with slathers of freshly churned butter......just kidding...organic butter or what have you. It isn't likely that any will be left over, but be assured that it is equally a treat when cold...topped with sardines and garlic (hahaha).

Thanks for letting me share this favorite German family recipe! :) I'm going to bake some right now, photographing the process for you. Please follow the captions...

This illustrates the flexibility of the recipe.
Ingredients shown are:
1) bottom left, organic all purpose flour 1/2 c
2) bottom right, Prairie Gold flour 1/2 c
3) top left, organic raw wheat germ 1/8 c, topped with
4) 1/2 tsp flor de sel (special sea salt)
5) top middle, 1/2 rounded tsp baking powder
6) top below bkg pwdr, 1 rounded tsp bread machine yeast
7) top right, 1 T organic oat bran
The prepped work surface.
After stirring my liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients,
the dough appeared too sticky to me...
so I added 1 tsp additional flour to what you see below,
and that amount was just right.
As you can see, when rolling out the dough,
it is perfectly fine to go with your random mood.
The look is about rustic, not perfection.
...Unless you are expecting royal guests,
in which case you may want to start with all pure white flour.
Placing the dough in the preheated oven is a delicate matter.
To spare fingers of blisters, the rustic look is further advised.
Ten minutes later...
wah-lah...nice bubbles!!
(My back-patter was outside at the time.)
Okay, let's flip this over.
April 27 Version (difference possibly due to mischievous weather change)
Five minutes later...the Flumkuchen is ready.
April 27 Version
If you are wondering what to do next,
slide the Flumkuchen from the oven
onto a preheated plate, and then
simply fold it while it is hot and bendable.
Or, do as my husband Sam says...
toss it in the middle of the table, up for grabs!

Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast
bed and breakfast hospitality inn
hill city - central black hills national forest - south dakota
convenient lodging location near
mount rushmore - 1880 train - custer state park
- wind cave national park - jewel cave national monument
- crazy horse memorial - black elk wilderness
- mountain lakes - harney peak - norbeck scenic byway
- george s. mickelson trail - the centennial trail
- historic downtown hill city - antiques

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

· Clinging Snow, Letting Go

- Short and factual - Going...going...still...going...

Sam took the highway photos earlier today, when he drove to Custer for a load of wood which he needed for his current project.

Click on the snowman
and he will take you on probably the last
snowy fling of spring!
There are 12 photos in the album,
posted on the facebook page of
Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast.
Enjoy the scenery!


Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast
bed and breakfast hospitality inn
hill city - central black hills national forest - south dakota
convenient lodging location near
mount rushmore - 1880 train - custer state park
- wind cave national park - jewel cave national monument
- crazy horse memorial - black elk wilderness
- mountain lakes - harney peak - norbeck scenic byway
- george s. mickelson trail - the centennial trail
- historic downtown hill city - antiques

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

· Mountain Bluebirds Stained Glass Window

We special ordered the octagon window
(shown below) for the new wall Sam built,
and are experimenting with names for it...
Suggestions are welcome!
"Mountain Bluebirds in a Pine Tree"
"Bluebirds in the Heart of the Hills"

Male and female bluebirds come in a variety of colors!

When the window arrives, the plan is to frame it
on the exterior with ponderosa pine, bark intact.

See the previous post to read about the wall and
Sam's display case project,
Brach's Pure Candies Exclusively.


Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast
bed and breakfast hospitality inn
hill city - central black hills national forest - south dakota
convenient lodging location near
mount rushmore - 1880 train - custer state park
- wind cave national park - jewel cave national monument
- crazy horse memorial - black elk wilderness
- mountain lakes - harney peak - norbeck scenic byway
- george s. mickelson trail - the centennial trail
- historic downtown hill city - antiques

· Brach's Pure Candies Exclusively

Sam gets to hibernate very little in the off-season,
with always a project for the handyman!

This spring he busied himself with
closing in a corner nook of the porch,
opening space to the inside foyer.
For the exterior beautification of this project
we have collected a fancy array of mossy rocks,
which can only mean...
Sam will soon be learning another handy trade
when it comes to applying the rocks to his new wall.
While awaiting the arrival of a stained glass window
for installation into the wall,
Sam is not one to idle on pause.
His in-between project is shown below...

— Brach's Pure Candies Exclusively —

The pictured antique slant-front display
will have a new life in the gift shop foyer,
tempting visitors of the shop with treats and snacks.
Sam wanted to preserve the feel of original pastel colors,
since he saw it as a confectionery display;
and since I love the shabby chic look, we negotiated...

The former life of the display
included time in a Standard Station.
Hidden in the shambles was the color scheme...

On Friday (April 8) I made an experimental cookie.
Surprisingly, Sweet-Tooth Sam asked for slightly less sugar next time.
So I asked him to give most of that first batch of Sam's Perfect Cookies
to the men working on the church addition,
so I could produce the second edition of the recipe.

As shown in the Monday (April 11) photo, below,
Sam was persuaded to take a break from his refurbishing work
to test the slightly less-sweet cookie.
Shortly after this photo was taken, Sam said,
while trying to install the doors on the display case,
"I ran into a problem getting the doors to fit.
I need another cookie, to think." :)


Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast
bed and breakfast hospitality inn
hill city - central black hills national forest - south dakota
convenient lodging location near
mount rushmore - 1880 train - custer state park
- wind cave national park - jewel cave national monument
- crazy horse memorial - black elk wilderness
- mountain lakes - harney peak - norbeck scenic byway
- george s. mickelson trail - the centennial trail
- historic downtown hill city - antiques