In the Heuser home, cooking is a family affair. When it comes time to sit down for a meal, everyone in my six-member family brings something to the table—literally.
With my wife and me running a busy restaurant, it can be difficult to set aside time to be with our four kids, ages ranging from 11 to 21. That’s why it’s especially important for us to find any moment we can to spend with family. One such moment we’ve come to savor is mealtime.
Breakfast is a big deal in our family. On most days, it’s the only meal that we all have time to sit down for. The daily go-to breakfast is my wife’s vegan pancakes. It sounds like a simple way to start the day, until the kids inevitably add Nutella, syrup or other sweet additions to the cakes.
Since moving to North America from Europe, I’ve become an avid hunter and typically bring home enough game meat to ensure we never have to purchase packaged meats from the grocery store. My kids love game meat so I am always thinking of ways to use it to demonstrate their German culinary heritage. A venison schnitzel or venison loin are easy dishes I prepare at home that can get the kids involved, while I pass along German cooking tips and techniques to the next generation.
I love cooking with bison, both in my restaurant and at home. When friends visit my home, we often pick up bison from KC Buffalo in the River Market and grill burgers in the backyard. Bison is the unofficial summer meat at our home (and at Affäre) because it’s not heavy and just lean enough to be considered healthy. It’s popular with guests at home and at the restaurant because of its novelty and rich taste.
For a sweet ending to a meal, my daughter Sofie prepares beautiful pastries for the family. Her mixed-berry pie is a family favorite and an easy way to get her and her siblings to join us in meal preparation. Haribo gummi bears are produced and were created in my hometown of Bonn, Germany, so they tend to make an appearance for dessert, as well.
There’s something to be said for leaving your work at the restaurant every night, but when it comes to my family, my work is what brings us together and I couldn’t ask for anything else.
2½ cups non-GMO unbleached flour
4 tablespoons organic unrefined sugar (coconut, maple or other)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2½ cups water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Mix dry ingredients, add wet ingredients and whisk until creamy. Let it stand for a minute or so. The dough will puff up a bit. Scoop into a non-stick pan, flip, eat.
You can also add flax seeds to the dry ingredients for variety, or put blueberries on top of the pancake before flipping.
Serve with lots of maple syrup.
You can make this with venison, pork, beef or chicken, whichever meat you like.
44-ounce venison steaks cut from the loin or upper hind leg
1½ cups white flour
2 whole eggs, slightly whisked
2 cups plain bread crumbs
Place each of the breading ingredients in three separate bowls.
Dust meat with white flour, then dip it in the whisked eggs.
Run both sides of the meat along the egg bowl rim to remove excess egg—it will help you to keep your bread crumbs drier, which results in a finer bread coat around the meat—then drop it into the bread crumbs, turn the meat and push it down so it gets a good bread coat.
Preheat a larger pan with vegetable frying oil ½-inch deep. Add a tablespoon of butter, and place the schnitzels into the hot oil.
Fry until golden brown on both sides.
Place schnitzel on a paper towel to let the oil drip off.
You can purchase bison meat from several places around town. We usually get it from Ed Dillinger at Lazy Heart D Ranch in Westmoreland Kan., or from KC Buffalo in the City Market.
24 ounces ground bison meat
Make four 6-ounce patties, grill on your barbecue grill to preferred temperature. We season ours with Montreal Steak Spice.
Add your favorite buns and toppings.
Herb-Crusted Venison Loin with Blueberry Gastrique
250 grams butter (room temperature)
100 grams mie de pain (bread crumbs from white bread without crust)
1 tablespoon each of finely chopped rosemary, thyme, parsley and chives
Whip butter in mixer until white and fluffy. Add eggs, herbs and mie de pain, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
1 6-ounce venison loin
Sear venison loin for about 3 minutes on both sides. Pat the loin with the herb crust mixture, about 3/8 inch thick. Bake at 400 degrees until the crust is golden brown. (About 5-8 minutes.) Let the meat rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing it.
3.5 ounces sugar
2 ounces red wine vinegar
½ cup frozen or fresh blueberries
In a saucepan, caramelize sugar, then deglaze with vinegar. Add blueberries and let the mixture cook until blueberries are broken down and the mixture has a slightly syrupy consistency. Drizzle the gastrique over the meat.
1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1 cup unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
6-8tablespoons ice water
Egg white wash
6-8 cups of fresh or frozen berries (blueberry, blackberry, raspberry or a mixture)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons sugar
Cook berries in a large saucepan until hot, dissolve cornstarch in a tablespoon of water and add to the berries. Add sugar (2 tablespoons or more if you like sweeter), and continue simmering until the mixture thickens.
Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor, mix together. Add butter, mix on high until the mixture is coarse crumbs, about the size of peas. Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time until mixture just begins to clump together.
Knead dough into two disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, no longer than two days.
Remove dough from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for five to 10 minutes. Roll out into 12-inch circle, place on 9-inch pie plate. Trim edges leaving about 1/2-inch of dough from the edge of pie plate.
Add filling, and roll out second disk. Cut strips and weave them across the pie, then brush with egg white.
Bake at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes, then adjust temperature to 375 degrees and continue baking until crust is golden brown.
James Beard-nominated chef Martin Heuser is the owner and executive chef of Affäre, a modern German restaurant in Kansas City’s Crossroads Art District. He discovered his love of cooking while growing up in his family’s nearly 200-year-old restaurant in Bonn, Germany. His culinary career has spanned two continents, working under world-renowned chefs and two prestigious Michelin Star establishments. He and his wife, Katrin, and four children have lived in Kansas City since 2007 where he exercises his passion for supporting local farmers and their farm fresh, seasonal food.