Zymbiotics revives the art of fermented food

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Friday, 10 April 2015 13:32

Zymbiotics uses age-old fermentation processes to maximize nutritional content.
— Photo: Jeff Ziebelman

Everything old is new again, and one of the latest waves in healthy eating dates back to a time when people depended on fermentation to preserve their food.

Chances are few of them knew at the time that cabbage, carrots and other fermented vegetables actually increase in nutritional value during storage. Fox Point entrepreneur Jeff Ziebelman and his girlfriend Betty Holloway are reviving interest in food fermentation with their company Zymbiotics, which uses age-old fermentation processes to increase the nutritional value of foods like sauerkraut, Korean-style kimchee and pickled carrots. 

Local beer weeks bring out the best of the brews

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Friday, 10 April 2015 16:29

Whether you like to tipple a tallboy, quaff a cold one or just generally soak up the suds, upcoming weeklong beer celebrations in both Milwaukee and Madison will give drinkers the opportunity to get up close and personal with brands they haven’t before tried, all in the name of beer “education.”

Milwaukee Beer Week, first out of the tank, runs April 18-25 in venues throughout the greater metro area. Expect brewers and beers from around the state, the nation and points beyond to drop in for beer brunches and dinners, tap takeovers and other events designed to showcase their brews under the best conditions possible.

Smitten with ‘Salad Love’

Written by J.M. Hirsch,
AP food editor
Saturday, 28 March 2015 14:32

For most of us, salads are mainly unplanned affairs. Which is why the idea of salad cookbooks can seem kind of silly.

Salad assembly generally is a pathetic — and pathetically easy — process that involves grabbing whatever greens haven’t wilted at the back of the refrigerator, piling on whatever other vegetables are handy — and if we’re feeling indulgent maybe some leftover protein and cheese — and calling it good. Follow a recipe? Not likely.

Madison’s reluctant chef Jonny Hunter captures the culinary spotlight with Underground Food Collective

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 26 March 2015 14:27

Chef Jonny Hunter got his start running Catacombs, a communal restaurant kitchen, and has since built Underground Food Collective into an unexpectedly successful venture.
— PHOTO: Courtesy

Jonny Hunter moved to Madison 18 years ago in search of intellectual freedom and an environment that embraced a love of learning. After he found all that, he found something else: an opportunity to establish an alternative model for fine dining that has propelled him into the culinary spotlight.

Hunter is the co-owner of Madison’s Underground Food Collective, a multifaceted enterprise with catering, meat processing and fine-dining components. He serves as the chef at the restaurant, Forequarter, a recent venture that has been named one of the country’s top 50 new restaurants by Bon Appétit magazine. And on Feb. 18, the 35-year-old was revealed to be one of four Wisconsinites on the shortlist for a prestigious honor: the James Beard Award for best chef in the Midwest.

Lamb, Guinness and soda bread offer a fresh take on Irish stew

Written by Alison Ladman,
Associated Press Writer
Sunday, 15 March 2015 12:41

Chicken and dumplings is a wonderfully simple, deliciously comforting dish — a thick, meaty stew bubbling away beneath a patchwork of moist, pillowy dumplings.

So we decided to channel that comfort for a dish suited for St. Patrick’s Day. Taking inspiration from classic Irish ingredients and dishes, we came up with this over-the-top savory lamb stew with a rich broth made from beef stock, Guinness beer and fresh rosemary.

Irish whiskey:
Perfect for a ‘spirited’ St. Paddy’s Day

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Sunday, 15 March 2015 12:37

At the end of the 19th century, Irish whiskey was one of the most popular whiskeys in America, but its fortunes tumbled, along with those of other alcohol products, with the advent of Prohibition in 1920. Today Irish whiskeys are on the rebound, but they still may be one of the spirit world’s best-kept secrets.

In the United States, bourbon producers abound, with more micro-distilleries opening every day. Scotland boasts more than 100 distilleries and a reputation for fiery, heavily peated single malts with flavors that sometimes stagger the imagination.

Ireland, on the other hand, has just 10 distilleries either in production or under construction. But what the country may lack in quantity it more than makes up for in quality, and St. Patrick’s Day marks the perfect occasion to begin an Irish whiskey journey.

Sip some zesty zinfandel

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 26 February 2015 13:40

California winemakers often like to crow about their cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay and moon over their merlot and malbec as if they were California grapes of their very own. But they’re not. 

All four of the Golden State’s most popular wine grapes are French classics that had their origins in Bordeaux or Burgundy. California winemakers have done wonderful things with them, but the grapes are immigrant varietals.

Have it your way with a mix and match take on mac and cheese

Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, 18 February 2015 09:10

Do you love macaroni and cheese? Stupid question, right? OK, so let’s try this one: How could you love macaroni and cheese even more?

Now we’re talking. Because there are all sorts of simple ways to doctor an already awesome pan of basic mac and cheese to take our love of this dish to a whole new level. But let’s start with the basics — our classic take on macaroni and cheese. Since everyone is pressed for time, we kept it simple with a stovetop version that will have you ready to eat in about 20 minutes.

Death of the bake sale: New rules mean healthier fundraisers

Associated Press
Tuesday, 17 February 2015 13:04

When it comes to school fundraisers, bake sale tables loaded with sugary goodies are out. Fun runs, auctions and sales of healthier treats are in.

Government rules requiring schools to hold more nutritious fundraisers, along with a trend toward healthier eating in schools, could mean trouble for the long-beloved bake sale. In response, schools are selling everything from fruit to kid-friendly shoe laces.

Many schools say they have been successful in ditching the unhealthier models.

The art of tasting artisan chocolates

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 12 February 2015 12:32

Madison Chocolate Co.'s chocolates.
— Photo: Megan Hile

Sweets for the sweet is a time-honored Valentine’s Day tradition, and no sweet is more beloved than chocolate. And when you’re buying for Feb. 14, there’s all the more incentive to buy the best.

So remember to take time and savor the chocolates you receive. The very best of the breed are more than mere commodity.

With quality chocolates, there’s as much an art to tasting as there is to wine. The more you know before popping that first truffle into your mouth, the more fully you will enjoy the experience, according to Madison chocolatier Gail Ambrosius.

Bos makes mead modern, not medieval

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 12 February 2015 12:24

Bos Meadery produces four varieties of mead at its Washington Avenue location.
—Photo: Jason Hendricks

Is the next big trend in craft beer not a beer at all?

That’s what Colleen Bos is counting on. The veteran homebrewer is putting her money on mead, and she’s not content to wait for Madison to stumble across the drink at someone else’s establishment.

Since 2012, Bos has been brewing mead, a beverage made by fermenting honey, at her tiny Bos Meadery in a former industrial building in downtown Madison. But the suite of back rooms on Washington Avenue, full of fermenting tanks, isn’t exactly the sort of venue where one can try out her wares.

Salvatore’s brings tomato pies to Madison

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 29 January 2015 10:30

One of Salvatore's Pies. — PHOTO: Danielle Chaviano

A young Bob Dylan, passing through Madison in the late 1960s, is rumored to have said that the best things about Wisconsin’s capital city were its pizza and its Quaaludes.

We have no insights into the pharmaceutical side of Dylan’s statement, but were he to stop in today at Salvatore’s Tomato Pies, he might wonder just how such a good pizza scene has gotten so much better.

The original Salvatore’s was launched in Sun Prairie by former Dane County Supervisor Patrick DePula in October 2011 to rave reviews. His new restaurant at 912 E. Johnson St. barely opened its doors in December 2014 before area residents were waiting up to 90 minutes for DePula’s “tomato pies” — as they call pizzas in Chambersburg, the Italian neighborhood of Trenton, New Jersey, where DePula grew up.

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.