Tender trend
As prices drop, home cooks get immersed in sous vide cooking

Associated Press writer
Wednesday, 21 January 2015 12:32

Call it the tender trend. Sous vide cooking, once strictly the province of professionals, is spreading to home kitchens as cheaper equipment puts the once avant-garde technique within reach.

Sous vide, which means “under vacuum” in French, is a so-called modernist method of cooking in which food is sealed in plastic bags (often vacuum sealed, though that’s not mandatory) and submerged in hot (but not boiling) water for long, slow cooking. The result is juicer food because no moisture is lost and cooking temperatures can be maintained within tenths of a degree.

Breweries big and small go gluten-free

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 15 January 2015 16:38

Greenview’s Alt Brew label makes gluten-free beer. — Photo: Greenview Brewing

In Madison, as elsewhere, the craft beer movement is booming, and Trevor Easton is one more veteran homebrewer who’s decided to go commercial.

But Easton’s tiny Greenview Brewing, one of several located in the House of Brews facility on Madison’s east side, has one distinct difference from its competition. Bottling under the “Alt Brew” label, Greenview is the only area brewery — and one of only a few in the country — to exclusively brew gluten-free beer.

Kohler Co. launches new, locally focused foodie event

Written by Anne Siegel,
Contributing writer
Friday, 16 January 2015 03:35

Kohler presents Wisconsin Food Favorites. — Photo: Kohler Co.

When Wisconsin’s needle-sharp winds start to pierce the parka, it’s time for a midwinter getaway. But if you’re a foodie, don’t head south this January — try looking in a more northerly direction, toward a new culinary event in Kohler, Wisconsin.

In response to the growing farm-to-table movement, The American Club, a luxury spa and resort run by the Kohler Company, is hosting a new event, Wisconsin Food Favorites. The event, to be held Jan. 23-24, will focus on Wisconsin cuisine of all sorts, kicking off with the most elaborate Friday fish fry you’ll probably find anywhere and ending Saturday with a cook-off featuring area brews and Johnsonville brats. Several chefs from the Kohler kitchens, including the famed Immigrant Room, will demonstrate their skills.

Seek the savory side of chocolate in the new year

Written by By MELISSA D’ARABIAN for The AP Sunday, 28 December 2014 11:23

While I still pay attention to what I eat during the holidays, I nonetheless allow plenty of small splurges. And those splurges mostly can be summed up in one word: chocolate!

Trouble is, the holidays eventually pass, but my cravings for the deep flavor of a perfectly-roasted cocoa bean linger. Even more than the sweetness that accompanies most chocolate desserts, I miss the unctuous coating cocoa leaves on the palate. But who says healthy eating must mean the end of that deliciousness? Enter unsweetened chocolate! All the richness of the flavor without the sugar.

Say ‘cheese’ when holiday entertaining

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 11 December 2014 12:57

In Wisconsin, cheese isn’t merely a food — it’s part of the lifestyle. As such, a well-considered cheese platter should be a staple of your holiday entertaining.

California may produce more milk than America’s Dairyland, but Wisconsin still outpaces it in cheese production. In 2013, Wisconsin produced 2.8 billion pounds of cheese, or about 25 percent of total U.S. production, according to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. Wisconsin also is home to the largest number of artisan cheese makers in the United States.

Here a few guidelines to help you design the perfect cheese board for holiday entertaining. 

French vs. American wines? Vive la différence!

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 11 December 2014 21:52

In 1976, a handful of California winemakers entered a wine competition in Paris hoping to gain attention from the elites who governed the European wine trade. No one was more shocked than the French judges themselves when the series of blind tastings resulted in overwhelming wins for American viticulture.

The so-called “Judgment of Paris” had immediate and enormous ramifications for the global wine industry. American producers continue to win awards worldwide and have never looked back.

As you schedule your parties this holiday season, consider hosting your own “judgment,” pairing U.S. wines with their French counterparts. Your goal should not be to find one wine better than the other, but to look for complementary pairings that expand your tasting horizons as well as those of your guests.

Pot-dining in Colorado pits chefs against law

Written by Kristen Wyatt,
Associated Press writer
Friday, 12 December 2014 17:49

Acclaimed chef Chris Lanter is talking a crowd of eager foodies through a demo on cooking with marijuana. As he prepares steak au poivre, he describes how to deglaze the pan with pot-infused brandy. How to pair marijuana with fine foods. How to make marijuana’s skunky tang work for a dish, not ruin it.

One catch — there’s no actual weed at his demonstration.

Marijuana aficionados paid $250 for a weekend-long celebration of marijuana and food, yet state and city regulations prohibit any “open and public” use of the drug, even at licensed businesses holding private events.

Woodman’s spirits department rising

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 27 November 2014 11:58

The selection at Woodman's. — PHOTO: Courtesy

The assignment seemed simple: Sample and report on organic beers. In Madison, that should be as easy as falling off a barstool, right?

But despite the city’s locavore overload and love for all things organic, the anticipated organic-grain tipple proved elusive. Organic ingredients are expensive and those used in making beer — especially hops — are not easily available.

At Willy Street Co-op, I was only able to find a six-pack of Organic E.S.B. from Milwaukee’s Lakefront Brewery. (Lakefront has since discontinued the brand.) At Madison’s Whole Foods outlet, the organic selection was limited to a single brand of organic from U.K. brewer Samuel Smith, sold in individual bottles.

Pairing holiday foods and wine

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Wednesday, 26 November 2014 11:57

Pairing, a holiday gift.

When pairing wine with food, most hosts and hostesses know that red goes with red meat and white pairs with fish.

But what if you’re serving an appetizer of oysters, a plate of porcini risotto or a cache of special chocolates? How do you choose the best pairings when there’s no deceased animal flesh to guide you?

Pairing wine and food is a lot like pairing different dishes, or ingredients in a recipe. Look for contrasts and complements, so the wine and food work together to enhance each other and hide shortfalls.

Following are some suggestions to guide you:

Narragansett launching beer for H.P. Lovecraft

Written by The AP Monday, 24 November 2014 11:03

Providence native son and horror writer H.P. Lovecraft is getting his own beer.

Narragansett Beer President Mark Hellendrung told WPRO-AM this weekend that the company is launching a Lovecraft Honey Ale to celebrate the late writer's literary work. It's being launched on Jan. 19, the birthday of Edgar Allan Poe, whom Lovecraft admired.

Go For the Food: Hole in the Wall in Des Moines

Associated Press writer
Thursday, 20 November 2014 07:10

There’s a hole in the wall in Des Moines that’s just that: a food joint called Hole in the Wall.

A small room inside a bar a few blocks from downtown, Hole in the Wall is the kind of place you could easily miss if you walked by. It’s less than a mile from my apartment, yet for months I didn’t know it existed. But it’s there, with food for both indoor patrons at the Gas Lamp bar and customers ordering outside a window. A few plastic chairs lined up against an exterior wall are about all you’ll get if you ask for a reservation.

Wisconsin ranks No. 2 … in love for the green-bean casserole

Written by The Wisconsin Gazette Monday, 24 November 2014 15:57

Wisconsin ranks No. 2 on a survey of love for the green-bean casserole, that apparent favorite of Thanksgiving Day side dishes.

Del Monte conducted the survey, which it called the Del Monte Green Bean Index, and released it just days before the holiday, when an estimated 30 million green-bean casseroles will be set upon U.S. tables. To conduct this study, bean counters at Del Monte asked 1,500 Americans to rate their fondness for the classic green-bean casserole side dish.

Taste tradition in red wines of the Old World

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 13 November 2014 16:45

Next time you pour a glass of wine, consider how long the nectar of the grape has been filling drinking vessels around the world.

The first evidence of wine dates back to 6000 B.C. in the Middle East, and its progeny has been pouring forth ever since. Only during the past several hundred years, however, has a geographically-based wine industry created a spirited competition among winemakers worldwide.