Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sweet Memories, Sweet Sausage

One of the few things I miss about living in a large metro area is the fact that so many cultures live together and you have access to so many wonderful gifts that the experience brings with it.  One of those gifts is the ability to buy food of many different cultures.  Living in a small rural community makes it very difficult to find specialty items that conjure up some of the most wonderful culinary experiences unless you want to order on line, and I want to see what I'm buying when you are talking food.

I went into Chicago yesterday with a bunch of foodies on  a bus trip where we went to many wonderful markets and had an opportunity to buy things I never get to see even if I'm shopping in the Quad Cities.  Needless to say, I loved the day and bought up items that I am so looking forward to using in my cooking and eating.

When I lived in Milwaukee, I lived on the near south side and 2 blocks from my apartment was a Polish meat market.  You could walk in and get Polish Kielbasa that was made fresh each day.  In my memory, I don't think I have had any as good since.   So I thought today I would share a recipe of sweet Polish Kielbasa with you along with all of my shopping finds of yesterday.

Sweet Polish Kielbasa Sausage

2 pounds kielbasa sausage, cut into 1 inch pieces (not smoked, use uncooked)
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 dashes hot pepper sauce
2/3 cup water

Place the sausage in a large saucepan. Add water to cover and simmer over low heat for 1 hour. Drain, remove sausage and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In the same saucepan combine the Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, onion, sugar, hot pepper sauce and water. Bring all to a boil, stirring. Place reserved sausage in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and cover it with the sauce mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Moving on from Milwaukee to Chicago, our trip started at the Farmer's Market at Federal Plaza right in down town Chicago.  Because I can buy or grow most of the produce I saw, I only got some homemade Mozzarella cheese and some oyster mushrooms.

I can't get either of them here in Maquoketa.  Since I have so many tomatoes and am always looking for a way to use them, I'm going to be making a Caprese Salad with my home grown basil and tomatoes.  I also bought 3 bottles of beautiful balsamic vinegar that I will drizzle over it.  Trouble will be picking which one to use.

I got both the small balls to save me work and a large one.  I ate a few on the way home for my evening meal.  Yum!

Black Cherry, Pomegrana, and Fig.  They are so lovely they can stands alone.  I could not make up my mind so had to get 3 new ones.  Last time I got a white peach that was to die for but I wanted to try something new.

The oyster mushrooms will be paired with mushrooms I can find here in Maquoketa like Shiitake and Cremini.  I'm going to make a simple mushroom medley soup with a chicken stock base.  I got some wine at Trader Joes so I will add a little white wine, garlic, onion and thyme.  I'll be flying by the seat of my pants on this and when I make it I'll share it with you.  I've got it in my head what I want to do, but may make some changes as I go along and taste test.  We used to be able to buy dried oyster mushrooms in Maquoketa from a farmer, but it must not have been profitable because you can't get them any more so I have not made it for a couple of years.  He gave me a recipe for simple oyster mushroom soup that I'll have to try and dig up.

Our next stop was the newly opened Mariano's Fresh Market.  I loved it.  I could have spent the rest of the day in the store, but had to pace myself knowing we had 6 more stops.  We had to pick up something for lunch and for dinner on the ride home, so I got some beautiful olives, a French baguette, some cream cheese, and some pepper jelly.  I was on a quest to find smoked chorizo, but they didn't have it.  

Mariano's was giving out samples and it was so good, I had to have it for my dinner.  It will be what's for breakfast this morning too.  It is wonderful.  I blogged a pepper jelly recipe if you are looking for one.

Our next stop was the French Market next to the train station.  It's interesting that they call it the French Market when it is full of many nationalities. That is where I got the vinegar.  I was so disappointed when I heard we were not going to the Olive Well and then walked into the French Market and saw they had an outlet there so bought up.  I also tried a Serbian hot sausage.  I've never eaten any Serbian food so again, wanted to try something new.  It's terrific with a real bite.  But no Chorizo there either, still giving me something to look for and go forward.

We stopped at a little specialty store called Provence and the Marion Street Cheese Market but they were very high end and my fugal nature would not let me spend that kind of money.

Next stop was Angelo Caputo's which was voted Chicago's best fresh market.  I found my smoked Chorizo so now all I needed was saffron so I can make paella.  I can get pretty excited over little things like that.  I knew I could get the saffron at one of our last stops. Caputo's was a food shopper paradise.  I thought that the prices would be higher than Maquoketa, but they were less.  They sold 3 English cucumbers for a dollar.  The pastry counter was just beautiful.  I got my mom her favorite baklava and I bought one cannoli. I was told they were the best in town so had to try one.  They were heaven.  I may never be happy with Fareways again after walking their isles.  

Next stop Penzy's Spices and then Trader Joes.  I got the Spanish Saffron I needed at Trader Joes and lots of wine.  Mom can have her baklava and wine tonight for dinner.  I can now get my chicken thighs, shrimp and mussels for my paella here locally.  I am going to make a big pan for my family.  I blogged a simple paella already if you wish to refer back to it.

We all fell into the bus exhausted and ready for our trip home.  You would think that after us talking about food for 10 hours we would be tired of it, but the group still talked about their finds and plans all the way home.  There were a few exceptions that napped from their exhaustion.  

If you get a chance to go on one of the culinary trips (through EICCD), I highly recommend it.  This is my second and it won't be my last.  They have one coming up Sept. 1st and then in November they will have 2 that are focused on Christmas food shopping.  The September one will be ethnic again and those are the ones I love. 

Hope you have a great day.  They say a possibility of rain today and tomorrow.  I sure hope so.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

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