Archive for February 2012

Slow Food UW Cafe Lunch – 2/29

February 29th, 2012 — 9:28am

february-2012-211-Wild rice, black eyed peas and walnut veggie burger with a beet pesto
-Root veggie fried chips (carrots, turnips, rutabaga, sweet potatoes and beets) with an aioli dipping sauce
-Lentil soup
-Zucchini and summer squash cupcakes

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Iron Chef Aphrodisiac

February 29th, 2012 — 5:53am

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Taste of the Market Breakfast – 2/25

February 28th, 2012 — 10:09am

february-2012-167Last weekend’s Winter Farmers’ Market Taste of the Market Breakfast was hosted by Merchant, a “casual farm-to-table restaurant, craft cocktail bar and spirit emporium” located on Pickney Street, just off the capitol square. The menu included:

-Huevos Rancheros with pulled pork (mushrooms for vegetarian), eggs and salsa
-Side salad with picked carrots, onions and leeks
-Pumpkin tea bread
-Ingredients provided by GittOrganics, JenEhr Farms, Jordanal Farm, Pecatonica Valley Farm, Herb ‘n Oyster, Black Earth Valley Farm, Tomato Mountain, Garden to Be, Greens Pleasant Springs Orchard, Sutter’s Ridge Farm, and Just Coffeefebruary-2012-170

We arrived to the market at the Madison Senior Center just after 8 a.m. and joined the short line that had already begun forming for the 8:30 breakfast. When it was finally time to move through the cafetaria-like line, we ordered both a vegetarian and non-vegetarian (pulled pork) plate.

I preferred the vegetarian option—the oyster mushrooms from Herb ‘n Oyster were fantastic (great flavor and texture) and I appreciated the overall lightness of the dish. I also enjoyed the tortilla from Gitless Organics and the pumpkin tea bread from Sutter’s Ridge Farm.

Larry thought Merchant took some liberties in their interpretation of Huevos Rancheros, but I don’t know enough about the essentials of the dish to have an opinion. We also observed that the breakfast “side salad” seems to be a common element of the Taste of the Market breakfasts. It sure is nice to get in so many greens during the very first meal of the day. As always, the market and breakfast were a great way to start the weekend.

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Parsnip Spice Cake with Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting

February 27th, 2012 — 10:23am

february-2012-128I tried Parsnip Spice Cake for the first time at a recent Slow Food UW Cafe Lunch. In case you’re less familiar, a parsnip is a root vegetable that resembles a carrot, but is paler in color and sweeter in taste. The cake was great—moist, and not surprisingly, very comparable to carrot cake. I was eager to recreate parsnip spice cake at home. february-2012-129

Luckily, copies of the recipe were made available at the Cafe the following week. The only problem was that whoever transcribed the recipe mistakenly omitted a few key ingredients. And of course, I didn’t realize this until I was 3/4 of the way through making the cake. Thank goodness a quick online search pulled up the original recipe featured in Bon Appetit at Crisis averted. There are quite a few ingredients in this recipe, but don’t be intimidated—nothing too difficult to find. The ginger cream cheese frosting is especially fantastic. Parsnip spice cake = definitely a nice alternative to carrot cake.

Parsnip Spice Cake with Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting (from Bon Appetit, March 2006; serves 12-16)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil or vegetable oil
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
2 cups (packed) shredded peeled parsnips (about 3 large)
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
3 cups (about 12 ounces) powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Combine flour, sugar, ground ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon salt, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves in large bowl; whisk to combine. Whisk eggs, oil, milk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in medium bowl to combine. Pour egg mixture over dry ingredients; stir until just combined. Stir in parsnips and walnuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan on rack.

Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in fresh ginger and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until frosting is smooth. Spread over cake. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

1 comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Everything with Bacon!

February 23rd, 2012 — 12:34pm

Last weekend my friend Krista and I took a road trip to visit Wyttenbach Meats, a family-owned meat market in Prairie du Sac. Our mission was to attend Wyttenbach’s  “Everything with Bacon” event, which I had heard about from an events listing on Wollersheim Winery’s Web site. According to the event blurb, there would be wine pairings (“Wollersheim wines that enhance our bacon”), various bacon delights, and tours of the bacon making process. Wine and bacon? I was hooked. And it didn’t take much convincing to get Krista on board.

After a long morning run around Lake Monona, we showered, ate breakfast, and drove about 25 miles northwest to the village of Prairie du Sac, located on the beautiful Wisconsin River. I expected big crowds and long lines (we’re talking bacon and wine here, right?), but the meat market was relatively calm. Krista and I slowly made our way down the table of pairings, savoring each bite of bacon and drop of wine. We tried pairings like River Gold with Bacon Caramel Corn and Blushing Rose with Bacon and Peanut Butter Canapes. Friendly staff from both Wyttenbach Meats and Wollersheim Winery answered our questions. They seemed surprised and impressed we had traveled all the way from Madison for the event. Nothing would keep us from wine and bacon.

Krista and I hopped on the 11:30 a.m. tour of the bacon process with master meat makers Keith and Jim. They led us through the whole process—from butchering to packaging. It was all very educational and entertaining. I feel like I know so much more about the “behind the scenes” process and just how much time and skill goes into making a great slab of bacon.

After the tour, Krista and I headed back to the tasting area, and finished where we had left off. My favorite sample was the Bacon-Banana Treats. When I asked about the recipe, the staff generously sent me home with several recipes (I’ve included the recipe for Bacon-Banana Treats below). After adequately stuffing our bellies with wine and bacon, and purchasing bacon to take home, Krista and I were back on the road to the big city.

Bacon-Banana Treats (makes 16 canapes)

2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoons grainy dark mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 ripe but firm bananas
8 slices hickory- or applewood-smoked bacon, cut in half

In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, mustard, and salt and pepper till thickened. Cut each banana crosswise into 8 rounds, add the rounds to the marinade, stir gently to coat, and let stand about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, fry the bacon in a large skillet over moderate heat till half-cooked and drain on paper towels. Preheat the oven boiler. Wrap each banana round with a piece of bacon, secure each with a toothpick soaked in water, place on rack of a boiler pan, and broil about 4 inches from the heat till the bacon is crisp, 5 to 6 minutes, turning once. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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Slow Food UW Cafe – 2/22

February 22nd, 2012 — 12:44pm

february-2012Another Wednesday, another fantastic lunch at Slow Food UW Cafe. Today’s menu included the following:

-Challah bread grilled cheese
UFC Brats on pretzel buns
-Parsnip pancakes with house-made apple sauce
-Root veggie salad with carrots and sweet potato
-Broccoli cheese soup with prosciutto
-Pai Shu type cream puffs

It was a difficult decision, but I chose the grilled cheese, and the broccoli cheese soup with the optional prosciutto. Oh, and the cream puff of course. I ran into two friends/former colleagues who graciously allowed me to join them.

The highlight of lunch was when I glanced across the room and spotted Larry. With a break in between morning at school and an afternoon workshop at the Arboretum, he drove to campus to try to join me for my Wednesday ritual. I was so excited to see him and glad he could check out the Cafe Lunch for himself—he certainly hears enough about it from me!

In terms of the food, the grilled cheese  and the parsnip pancake (Larry let me try his) were fantastic. The soup left much to be desired—the consistency more broth-like than a typical creamy broccoli cheese soup, and the broccoli contributed a bitter flavor to the mix. I loved the Japanese cream puff (recipe here), but my only complaint was that it was too miniature. I could have easily put away five of those things. One wasn’t enough.

Definitely a great lunch, and an especially nice surprise from a special visitor.

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Mardi Gras King Cake

February 21st, 2012 — 4:55am






Happy Fat Tuesday!

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Steak and Mushroom Stew with Creme Fraiche Mashed Potatoes

February 20th, 2012 — 4:07pm

january-2012-264If you’re looking for a hearty and classy meal to serve company—be it your colleagues, in-laws, or book club—search no further.

I first saw this recipe for Steak and Mushroom Stew with Creme Fraiche Mashed Potatoes in a Williams Sonoma catalog several years ago. I ripped out the recipe and immediately went out in search of veal demi-glace, an ingredient with which I was unfamiliar, but relieved to find stocked at Williams Sonoma. When I located the 10.5 oz. jar, I was dismayed by the $29 price tag. Surely, I can find this cheaper somewhere else, I reasoned.

What I didn’t appreciate then is the time and ingredients that go into preparing a traditional French-style demi-glace. The intensely flavorful and complex glaze is created by reducing veal stock and sauce espagnole anywhere from 20 hours to several days. Not an easy task. Now I’d gladly shell out $30 for the stuff. You can freeze it in smaller quantities and make it last for years. january-2012-270

But at the time, the price seemed preposterous. I wasn’t able to locate a cheaper version or amass the motivation to create my own, but I did eventually find a Williams Sonoma employee sympathetic to my cause. My friend generously gifted me a jar using her employee discount and I will forever be grateful.

And so I finally had everything I needed to start on the stew. But just knowing the value of that small jar of demi-glace seemed to keep me frozen in inaction. It’s like I had to find the perfect opportunity to make the meal. But no occasion seemed quite worthy. And so the jar sat in my cabinet. One year. Then two.

But with the “best before” date soon approaching, I was finally forced to pull the trigger. I found a wonderful occasion and group of people for whom to cook, and Larry and I teamed up for grocery shopping, vegetable chopping and meat-browning. We purchased the bacon and chuck roast from our friends the Priske’s at the winter farmers’ market. The preparations took longer than I expected for a slow-cooker meal, but proved well worth our efforts. january-2012-273

I’ve never been much of a fan of beef stew, but this one left me speechless. I wish I had taken a picture of the finished meal—parsley sprinkled over hot stew on a bed of fluffy creme fraiche mashed potatoes. It was beautiful. But Larry I were so busy plating stew for twelve, we had little time for frivolities like pictures. And so you’ll just have to trust me—you don’t want to miss this stew. And the potatoes? I could write an entire post on those, too.

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Puerto Rican Pork Rib Stew

February 16th, 2012 — 7:52am

february-2012-087Terese Allen is one of my favorite local food authors. When I found her recipe for Puerto Rican Pork Rib Stew in the Winter edition of Edible Madison, I was intrigued. I especially loved how Terese described making the dish twice last winter—“once in an ocean-side cottage on a tiny island off Puerto Rico, and once in a snow-bound cabin in northern Wisconsin.” I imagined a table of cabin dwellers eagerly huddled over piping hot bowls of hearty stew next to a crackling fire. I wanted to be there.

I decided to make the stew for Valentine’s Day, along with Dark Chocolate-Cherry-Ganache Bars. My only confusion came with the Anaheim peppers and “stuffed” green olives—to seed or not to seed? And stuffed—with what exactly? I decided to seed the peppers, and (overwhelmed by the stuffing options) chose to keep it safe with plain, pitted green olives. Luckily, the stew came together wonderfully. I made it on Monday, refrigerated overnight (which helped the flavors intensify) and warmed it up for Tuesday’s dinner. As Terese recommended, I served the stew with warmed corn tortillas.

Both my Valentine and I loved the stew, agreeing it was a far better meal than the several we’ve enjoyed out lately. The flavors were so interesting. And when I closed my eyes and breathed in the stew’s aroma, it was almost as if I was transported two hundred miles due north to a tiny cabin in the woods.

Puerto Rican Pork Rib Stew (from Terese Allen via Edible Madison; serves eight)

3 pounds meaty country style pork ribs
Freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp. dried oregano
3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 cup finely chopped white onion
1 cup finely chopped Anaheim pepper (or similar sweet-spicy pepper)
¼ cup tomato sauce
8 large cloves roasted garlic
1 tbsp. capers
10-12 stuffed green olives, chopped
3 cups rich chicken stock
1 very large baking potato, peeled and cut into chunks
¼ to ½ cup Italian bread crumbs
Corn tortillas, warmed

Cut the meat into extra large chunks off the bones. Toss meat and bones with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, all oregano and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Let stand 30 minutes.

Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high flame. Add a little oil and swirl it around to coat the bottom of the pan. Brown the meat and bones in batches, without crowding the pan, transferring the batches to a stew pot.

Wipe out the pan with paper towels. Add a bit more olive oil and let it heat briefly. Add onions and peppers; cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomato sauce, roasted garlic, capers, and olives; cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer mixture to stew pot. Add stock to barely cover meat. Partially cover and slowly simmer the stew 1 hour.

Add potatoes; simmer until everything is really tender, another 1/2 hour or so.

Remove bones (or as many of them as you can find). Sprinkle in the bread crumbs and stir to thicken the stew. Adjust seasonings.

If time permits, let the stew stand off the heat for an hour or two (or refrigerate overnight). Reheat gently and serve with tortillas.

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Candy Raisins Reincarnated

February 15th, 2012 — 5:09pm

candy_raisins2It was the weirdest thing. Just the other week, during a morning run, I found myself craving Candy Raisins, the beloved Milwaukee regional treat that disappeared from my life when Necco closed its Milwaukee plant in 2008. Back then, I joined the fight to “save” the Candy Raisins and signed an online petition led by a particularly passionate fan from West Allis.

Although more than 7,000 signatures were ultimately collected, sadly, the efforts proved fruitless. And so in the final days, I stock piled those caramel-colored gumdrops (which, by the way, taste nothing like raisins) as if preparing for the Apocalypse. But eventually, even my stores ran dry. And thus Candy Raisins lovers worldwide mourned the loss. My favorite childhood treat lost forever (RIP picture below from

And nearly four years later, as I ran on a dark, winter morning, I could still feel their notable absence in my life.

But then later that same day, I came across a friend’s Facebook post linked to a CNN article titled “15 of America’s Favorite Regional Sweets.” And Wisconsin’s favorite sweet? You got it—Candy Raisins. My friend asked innocently, what are Candy Raisins?

With a deep sigh, I opened the article. It was just one more painful reminder that my beloved Candy Raisins were gone forever. Their taste on my lips slowly fading from my memory over time.

I wasn’t prepared for what I read next. It was as if receiving the news that my long-lost pet had been cloned into a genetically identical being. I blinked in disbelief. But there it was. According to the CNN article, food scientists at Milwaukee-based Osmanium Candy Company had used what was believed to be the last remaining bags of Candy Raisins to reverse-engineer a new version called Candy Sunshine. Despite many challenges, the candy makers were motivated by a sense of civic duty to bring Candy Raisins back to Milwaukee. After a two year process, Candy Sunshine will finally debut next month. And according to the new Candy Sunshine Web site, “10 out of 10 Candy Raisins lovers agree, Candy Sunshine is spot on.” And you can’t argue with results like those.candy-sunshine2

According to the CNN article, Candy Sunshine will be available at several Milwaukee-area stores such as Candyman Snack Shop, Fleet Farm and Beans & Barley. They’ll also be available for purchase online at ($5 for a pack of three bags). You can pre-order yours today!

Candy Raisins have been reincarnated. There is a God.

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