Archive for the ‘Indiana’Category

Huber’s shows a farm can do it all

Huber's farm stand

At roughly 650 acres, Huber’s Orchard, Winery, & Vineyards (19816 Huber Road, Borden, Indiana, 812-923-9463, huberwinery.com) is the largest farm in Southern Indiana. And with 90 acres under cultivation with grape vines, it’s also the largest wine-grape producer in the state.

But what matters most to the Hubers is that the farm has been family-owned and operated since 1843. That’s when Simon Huber emigrated from Germany and settled on 80 acres in Southern Indiana. Now into the seventh generation of Huber oversight, the operation has grown and diversified. But, says Dana Huber, the family has not lost track of its roots. “We are farmers first. Our main goal is to keep the farm in the family.”

The farm was mainly a PYO operation through the 1970s, she explains. In 1978, the winery opened in a renovated dairy barn. Today, the farm is a popular destination with a Farm Park (complete with miniature tractor rides) for families, a farmstand, a bakery, casual restaurant, ice cream shop, and tasting room. The Hubers opened the state’s first distillery in 2000 and tours of the winery and distillery are usually offered twice a day.

Field to food


caramel apples at Huber's farm standBut what’s best about Huber’s is the bounty of the land—and the many ways to enjoy it.

The farmstand (at top of the post) offers the succession of vegetables and fruits from spring through fall. Fruits alone include strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and peaches. Nothing beats a just-picked, perfectly ripe piece of fruit. But that’s no reason not to also enjoy some strawberry or peach ice cream. Or blackberry or blueberry bread. Or strawberry rhubarb pie. Or sweet peach or strawberry wine. Or blueberry port or peach brandy. You get the idea.

The Hubers grow 10 varieties of apples that ripen from mid-August through mid-October. Some apples are cast in red crackle, others in caramel (above). The fruit finds its way to the farmstand, but also into caramel apple nut bread, apple pie, apple cider donuts, and homemade apple cider. That’s not to mention Razzy Apple sparkling wine and Huber’s own apple brandy.

Fruit in the bottle


The winery and distillery are a big part of the operation, creating more than 70 wines, dessert infusions, fortified wines, and distilled spirits. That makes the tasting room in the upper loft the best place to end a visit. Dana’s husband, Ted, has been growing wine grapes for nearly 30 years. In 2013, Huber’s Winery became part of the Indiana Uplands designation. Unlike European wine region designations, the AVA (American Viticultural Area) specs describe the geography but do not limit yields or specify permitted varietals.

Dana Huber pouring cabernet francWe tried some fruit wines and found the blackberry wine would make a good dinner companion. The Hubers make it nearly dry with nicely rounded tannins and intense fruit. Many of the grape wines are made from French-American hybrids, particularly some varieties popular in cold-climate Michigan and Wisconsin. The Hubers make what we think of as farmstead wines. The vines are heavily cropped and picked very ripe. Fermentation is by the book to wine-school standards. The pleasant winesy reflect the generous soils and climate where they are grown.

Of those we tasted, our favorites were the Seyval Blanc and the Cabernet Franc. The Seyval was smooth and fruity, expressing characteristic green apple and melon. If it had been aged on the lees, it might have gained even more complexity. The Cabernet Franc was also soft and ripe. The tannins that remained were principally green, and they gave the wine an impression of being robust. Aged in oak barrels, it seems to have benefited from the micro-oxidation without picking up excessive oaky flavors.

20

11 2017

Schimpff’s Confectionery proves enduring sweet story

Warren and Jill Schimpff

Jill and Warren Schimpff (above) could have been a comedy duo. Instead the husband and wife—married for 50 years—are the George Burns and Gracie Allen of candymaking.

They are also the current proprietors of Schimpff’s Confectionery (347 Spring Street, Jeffersonville, IN, 812-283-8367, schimpffs.com). Warren’s great-grandfather opened the shop in 1891. Several additions later, it remains a fixture on Jeffersonville’s main drag. It is also the self-proclaimed “oldest, continuously operated, family-owned candy business in the United States.”

Building a business around the American sweet tooth is always a good bet. In the Schimpff’s case, the confection that has sustained them through thick and thin is the simple cinnamon red hot. “We’ve been making them for 126 years,” Jill tells us when we arrive for a candymaking demonstration. “They’re the ones that have carried through the longest.”

It’s best to call ahead to check on tour availability, but the Schimpffs clearly love what they do—and love an audience. In fact, the couple annexed the building next door so that they could add a demonstration Candy Kitchen. They still make red hots the old-fashioned way. In a practiced routine, Jill dons a headset microphone to keep up a running banter with observers. Warren slips on heavy gloves and, completely deadpan, does the work.

Warren Schimpff mixes the blob

Time-honored techniques


He begins by heating sugar, corn syrup, water, and red coloring in turn-of-the-century copper kettles over an 85-year-old cast iron stove. When the mixture reaches 320°F, Warren lifts the kettle and spreads the hot liquid on a water-cooled table that is as old as the shop itself. He stirs in cinnamon oil and lifts and folds the mixture as it cools and thickens into a big, red blob.

With big scissors, Warren cuts off manageable portions and feeds them into a traditional drop roll machine that flattens the blob into a sheet of red hots. Candymakers once had to crank the machine by hand. But the Schimpffs made a concession to the 20th century by adding a small motor. (It’s still running in the 21st.) The final step in the process is the most dramatic. Warren lifts a cooled sheet and then drops it back onto the work surface. As the sheet breaks apart into 100 glistening hard candies, he can’t help but break into a grin.

Jill and Warren Schimpff turn blob into cinnamon candies

Schimpff’s offers other flavors of hard candies, including sour lemon drops, anise drops, and local favorite fish-shaped drops in assorted flavors. They also make an assortment of chocolates, peanut and cashew brittles, and Modjeskas, another local specialty. The caramel-covered marshmallows are named for a famous touring actress who performed in Louisville in the late 19th century.

But cinnamon red hots remain the shop’s mainstay. The Schimpffs even blow some of the cinnamon exhaust from the candymaking process out onto the sidewalk to entice passersby inside for a true taste of tradition.

17

11 2017

NABC proves brewpub grub can be healthy, too

With its working-class-hero graphics and its no-nonsense approach to craft brewing, the New Albanian Brewing Company (NABC) has been providing the suds of choice for thirsty folks in New Albany, Indiana, since 2002. In 2009, the original pizzeria brewery, now called NABC Pizzeria & Public House (3312 Plaza Drive, 812-944-2577) was augmented by the downtown NABC Café & Brewhouse (415 Bank St., 812-944-2577, newalbanian.com).

Stacey serves meal at NABCIn 2015, Stacie Bale took over as café operations manager. Serving both lunch and dinner, the café bustles, even outside the normal evening hours when brewpubs do their biggest business. Bale’s approach to the grub has something to do with that. She aims to make brewpub fare as healthy as possible both for the customers and for the local agricultural community. With those goals in mind, Bale sources most of her raw ingredients locally, makes a point of using non-GMO corn, cornstarch, and local oil (no mean feat in corn country), and offers a range of plant-based meals. Bacon, chicken, and beef are all free range and pasture-fed from nearby Hensley Homegrown.

One of the most impressive innovations Bale introduced to the menu was greaseless air frying. She keeps an array of small air fryers lined up in the kitchen so several fried dishes can be produced at once. Most are used for crispy waffle fries, onion rings, or the occasional catfish special.

NABC beerThe beers show a great range from agreeable session ales (like the one shown here) to the extremely hopped and high-alcohol Hoptimus. That’s an IPA with 10.7 percent alcohol and 100 IBU (international bitterness units). Bale uses the Community Dark (3.7 percent alcohol, 13.2 IBU) to great effect to make Beer Mac & Cheese, one of the favorite side dishes. She was kind enough to share the recipe. If you don’t have NABC handy, use your local brewery’s brown ale.

NEW ALBANIAN BEER MAC & CHEESE


NABC mac and cheeseServes 4 as main course, 8 as a side dish

Ingredients


2 cups uncooked macaroni
12 ounces NABC beer (Community Dark or 15-B)
8 ounces cream cheese
2 cups shredded cheddar
2 teaspoons chili powder
cayenne to taste (start with 1/8 teaspoon)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper

Directions


Boil a large pot of salted water. Once boiling, cook the macaroni until tender (8-10 minutes). Stir occasionally. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, pour beer in a second large pot. Place the pot over high heat, and add the cream cheese. As the beer starts to simmer, break the cream cheese into pieces with a whisk and whisk into the beer. Add the 2 cups shredded cheddar. Warm and whisk until completely smooth.

Once the pasta is cooked and drained, pour it into the cheese sauce. Reduce the heat to low, then stir and cook another 3 minutes to thicken. Add spices and mix in thoroughly.

15

11 2017

Biscuits unite Louisville and Southern Indiana

biscuits define Southern taste

Humble plates spring from big ideas. Between meals in Louisville, we toured the Old Louisville historic district, visited the grave of Muhammed Ali, and checked out the Speed Art Museum (2035 South 3rd St., Louisville, 502-634-2700 speedmuseum.org). It’s probably the top art collection in the state and had mounted a great temporary exhibit called Southern Accent: Seeking the American South in Contemporary Art. It made us think about identity and cultural cohesion. Part of the opening wall text struck a particular chord.

“The South is not so much a geographical place as an emotional idea,” it proposed. The South is “more a shared sensibility than a consistent culture.” Powerful stuff. What makes a place Southern? It has to be more than a love of gardens, firearms, and hunting dogs. Then it hit us. Biscuits—or at least biscuits of a certain style—define what it is to be Southern. And by that standard, both Louisville and the cross-river towns of SoIN are part of the South.

We started our morning on both sides of the Ohio with hot biscuits, butter, and dollops of jam. But a few places exalted the humble biscuit into gastronomic extravagance. Here are three:

Finn's Ultimate Breakfast

Finn’s Southern Kitchen


Located in a nice old Deco building, Finn’s Southern Kitchen (1318 McHenry St., Louisville, 502-708-2984, finnssouthernkitchen.com) has been a hit since it opened in the spring of 2016. The style is fast-casual but the layout of tables both indoors and out encourages communal eating. The old-fashioned Southern family meal was the inspiration for owner Steve Clements. The lightened (sometimes) Southern fare capitalizes on local products, which is to say that bacon or sausage is often involved.

The folks at Finn’s are also very proud of their biscuits. The dish above is called Finn’s Ultimate Biscuit Sandwich. It combines three of Finn’s specialties on one plate. In addition to the airy biscuit, the dish includes a fried egg, a crispy piece of boneless fried chicken, three strips of bacon, a slice of impossibly orange American cheese, and a puddle of peppery sausage cream gravy. (Pass the Lipitor, please.) Damn, it’s good.

The Gralehaus


We wondered if we might be going to Aunt Martha’s for breakfast as we climbed the cement steps up to a charming Victorian house in Louisville’s residential Highlands neighborhood. The Gralehaus (1001 Baxter Ave., Louisville, 502-454-7075, gralehaus.com) is a coffee house and cafe on the ground level, and its has three cute B&B rooms upstairs. Open from 8 a.m-4 p.m., its morning coffee and breakfast segues into craft beer and lunch. (OK, this isn’t Boston. You can get beer with breakfast if you want.) When the weather cooperates, the back patio seems like a marvelous, leafy hideaway.

Chef Jen Rock knows Boston (she used to cook at City Girl in Cambridge), but she seems right at home in Louisville. She was cooking the morning we visited, though Andy Myers is the executive chef and general manager. Guy Fieri discovered Myers’s clever takes on Southern cuisine last December, and the requests keep coming for the homemade bologna sandwiches. We went instead with the truly epic breakfast shown above: The Duck Sausage Biscuit. Mind you, Gralehaus makes its own duck sausage as well. The fluffy black pepper biscuit (recipe nelow) is covered with duck sausage gravy, lightly drizzled with duck jus and maple syrup, and topped by a sunnyside-up egg to die for.

The Silver Dollar


This establishment in a former firehouse from the late 19th century definitely has a unique twist on Southern identity.

bar at Silver Dollar in LouisvilleThe proprietors describe it as a homage to a 1950s Bakersfield, California, honkytonk—the kind of place that served chicken and waffles and played country music for homesick transplanted Southerners. Of course, the Silver Dollar (1761 Frankfort Ave, Louisville, 502-259-9540, whiskeybythedrink.com) has been transplanted back to Louisville. But the Bakersfield exile might explain why the menu offers molletes next to beer can chicken.

It’s all in fun. The bar is ridiculously long and the barroom is cavernous. For those of us ready to make tans while the sun shines, there’s a comparatively small outdoor patio. That is where we had a second brunch masquerading as “dessert.” The strawberry shortcake consisted of a humongous buttermilk biscuit made on the premises. It was layered with sugared strawberries and slathered with whipped cream. Over the top? Maybe, but it sure was good with the Silver Dollar mint julep served with a straw over a tumbler of crushed ice. That’s our kind of snow cone.

GRALEHAUS BLACK PEPPER BUTTERMILK BISCUITS


Gralehaus chef Andy Myers shared this recipe for monster black-pepper biscuits. We’ve trimmed it down to make eight huge biscuits (instead of 30). These biscuits are best for savory dishes like biscuits and gravy because the black pepper flavor doesn’t play well with most jams. If you’re salt sensitive, cut the suggested salt in half. The neat trick of grating and freezing the butter lets you make biscuits that stay very cold until baked and come out huge and flaky.

Ingredients


4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 sticks (1/2 lb.) grated butter

Directions


Set oven to 425°F.

Chill the butter and grate with a cheese grater onto wax paper. Place in freezer.

Combine flour, salt, black pepper, baking soda, and baking powder. Sift.

Once butter is frozen, gently mix it into the sifted flour mixture with your hands. Do not mix for too long; otherwise your hands will begin to melt the butter. The objective is to keep the mixture as cold as possible until it goes into the oven.

Make a well in the center of the bowl as if you were making pasta dough. Pour in the cold buttermilk. Stir with a wooden spoon and start pulling the flour mixture into the buttermilk. Continue working in the flour until the mixture becomes too thick to stir. At this point you can begin using your hands to mix. Try not to overwork the dough. Mix it by hand just long enough to bring the biscuit mix together.

Once mixed, turn out the dough onto a floured surface. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it is aproximately 2 inches thick. Fold the dough over in half and roll it out one more time to approximately 1 1/2 inches thick.

Cut the biscuits with a 3-inch round cookie cutter or ring mold.

Arrange cut biscuits on a baking tray lined with parchment paper or Silpat. Once you have cut all the biscuits from the first roll-out, you can re-roll the dough one more time. These biscuits will rise a little more than the first roll but they are still great.

Once you have cut all our biscuits, immediately put them into 425°F oven for 22 minutes turning the tray once halfway through the cooking process (11 minutes).

05

11 2017

As frost looms, fried green tomatoes beckon

Red Yeti Restaurant and Red Foot Brewing in Jeffersonville, IN

Jeffersonville, Indiana, is a fascinating little town with a deep history and a lot of good eats. We will soon be featuring several spots there in upcoming posts about our visit to Louisville, Kentucky, and the towns across the Ohio River in Indiana. But right now we’re looking at frost forecasts this week. So we’re busy harvesting everything left in our garden. That includes a lot of tomatoes that haven’t yet shown the first blush of ripening.

Charcuterie board at Red YetiJeffersonville happens to be the home of Red Yeti Restaurant and Red Foot Brewing Company (256 Spring St., Jeffersonville; 812-288-5788, redyetijeff.com). We enjoyed a beer flight with a bountiful board of cheeses from five Indiana and Kentucky creameries and along with sausages and other charcuterie from Henpecked Farm in neighboring New Albany, Indiana. Chef Michael Bowe makes the country breads and the tangy porter whole grain mustard in house.

Beer flight at Red YetiThe beer choices change frequently, of course, but we found the entire flight to be eminently drinkable. The mellow porter had a nice roundness, while the stout was a mild, not terribly bitter version. Of the lighter beers we tried, we were especially impressed with the ginger beer. It managed to showcase the brightness of the ginger without the muddiness that often dampens our enthusiasm for such brews. With a bright carbonation on the tongue, it was like drinking a spicy pilsner.

We could have stopped there. But we wanted to try the macaroni and cheese topped with fried green tomatoes.

Chef Michael Bowe at Red YetiChef Bowe (right) cleverly tops a bowl of sinfully luscious macaroni and cheese with a trio of crunchy, slightly tart fried tomato slices. While fried green tomatoes are a Southern staple (and Jeffersonville is almost in the South), the seasonings in Bowe’s breading elevated these crispy, tasty slabs far above the usual fare. So for all our readers faced with a drawer of green tomatoes, Bowe and the crew at Red Yeti agreed to share the recipe below. Ours is adapted, since the original made around three dozen servings.

fried green tom mac and cheese at Red Yeti

FRIED GREEN TOMATO MAC & CHEESE


Serves 6

For cheese sauce


1 1/4 cups milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded white cheddar
1 cup shredded Gruyère
1/2 cup shredded Provolone
2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons cold water to make slurry
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
8 cups lightly salted water

Heat milk and cream on medium-high heat. When near boiling, add the cheeses. While stirring slowly, add the slurry. Continue stirring until sauce thickens. Add white pepper and salt.

Cook macaroni in lightly salted boiling water until just past al dente. Drain and add to cheese sauce.

For fried green tomatoes

Breading


3/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Montreal seasoning (see below or substitute steak rub spices)

Preparation


Mix together to make breading.

1 egg
2 cups buttermilk
18 thickly cut slices of green tomatoes
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
vegetable oil to 1/2 inch deep in large frying pan

Beat egg. Then whisk into buttermilk.

Coat tomatoes with breading, then dip tomatoes in buttermilk mixture. Remove and coat with panko breadcrumbs.

Fry breaded tomatoes in vegetable oil until golden brown.

Divide macaroni and cheese into six heatproof bowls. For each serving, place three tomato slices on top. For added flair, sprinkle each with some additional panko crumbs and a little grated Parmesan cheese and brown in 400° oven for 3-5 minutes.

MONTREAL SEASONING


So-called “Montreal” seasoning employs some of the spices used to cure the famous Montreal smoked meat. They are similar to pastrami spices. This recipe makes far more than you’ll need for the mac & cheese, but the remainder makes a good rub for beef or seasoning for hamburgers.

2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
2 teaspoons dill or fennel seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
4 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
4 teaspoons dried minced garlic
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Toast spices in a dry frying pan until aromatic. Crush in mortar and pestle. Makes about 1/2 cup.

16

10 2017