Dining

Most influential burger of all time: White Castle Slider

Written by WiG Friday, 17 January 2014 07:48

What's for lunch, cravers? Time magazine says White Castle's small, square sliders are "the most influential burger of all time."

The "now-iconic square patty" that debuted in 1921 in Wichita, Kan., was the first burger to spawn a fast-food empire, says Time.

Go For the Food: Fried crab in San Fran Chinatown

Written by The Associated Press Thursday, 16 January 2014 12:02

Crab and San Francisco go together like sour and dough, and you can find it here in just about every incarnation from basic cracked and steamed to meticulously plated in the mode of haute cuisine.

But if you like your crustaceans on the crispy side, you may want to check out the city’s Chinatown, the district that almost wasn’t. The original community was razed by the great earthquake and fire of 1906, and city leaders planned to relocate residents away from the valuable land next to the Financial District.

Brewing up some winter warmers

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Saturday, 11 January 2014 18:27

On cold winter nights, wine aficionados have luscious ports and sherries to sip by the fire. Spirits drinkers have elegant cognacs and smoky single-malt scotches.

But what is there for the beer drinker?

Soups for cold days

Written by Mike
and Jean Muckian,
Contributing writers
Saturday, 11 January 2014 17:09

Few foods have the restorative power of soup. We’re not talking about the canned heat-and-eat variety, many of which lean too heavily on sodium as a key ingredient. We prefer to make our own soups and, thanks to our participation in a community-supported agriculture program, we always enter the new year with a cornucopia of root vegetables just waiting for some broth.

This time of year we prefer hot, thick soups chock-full of ingredients (mostly vegetables) to fill our stomachs and warm our souls.

In creating a soup, professional cooks start with one or two specific ingredients and add contents they regard as complementary. Our choice is often determined by what’s been sitting for the longest time in the vegetable bin. For instance, three or four leftover turnips cry out for a batch of booyah, an extra chunky chicken-noodle-vegetable soup that’s a local favorite.

Ready to stash the Campbell’s and try making your own soup from scratch? Here are a couple of recipes to get you started.

CHICKEN BOOYAH

In producing the traditional northeastern Wisconsin soup-stew, our Kewaunee County grandmothers started with a big stewing hen cut into pieces and set to boil. Everything — including the skin, bones, neck and vital organs — were included along with the meat.

The resulting soups were rich with layers of chicken fat, vegetables and homemade noodles. As much as we loved the chicken booyah, we’ve modified the recipe to be more heart-healthy and appealing.

Ingredients

2 lbs. chicken breasts, bone-in

5 quarts water

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 medium onion, chopped

4 carrots, sliced

3 stalks celery, diced

(We also add turnips, parsnips, rutabagas or celeriac from our CSA)

2 cups frozen corn 

5 oz. Harrington’s Amish Style Handmade Noodles

Directions

Remove skin from chicken breasts and place them in a large stockpot. Add 5 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of kosher salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours. 

Remove the chicken breasts from the stockpot and place on a plate to cool. Allow the stock to cool and remove any congealed fat. Strain the stock and return it to the pot. Heat to boiling, add the vegetables and noodles and simmer for 30–45 minutes. While the vegetables are cooking, remove the meat from the bones and cut it into small pieces. When the vegetables are soft, add the breast meat to the stock and simmer for an additional 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!

SPICY BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND BLACK BEAN SOUP

We’re fans of vegetarian soups and of anything using squash. Blogger Kaylen Denny’s low-fat adaptation of the following Bon Apetit recipe for Azteca Squash Soup is a delicious, meat-free alternative. 

Ingredients

1 large butternut squash (about 1.5 lbs.)

Salt and fresh ground black pepper 

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cups finely chopped onion

2 cups finely chopped celery

6 cloves garlic, finely minced 

6 cups vegetable stock or canned vegetable broth 

2 teaspoons ground cumin 

1 15-oz. can of black beans

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped small

1/2 cup chopped cilantro (plus more to garnish soup if desired)

1–2 tablespoons of jalapeño hot sauce 

Low-fat sour cream or plain Greek yogurt to garnish soup (if desired)

Crushed tortilla chips to sprinkle in the soup (if desired)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the butternut squash in half and use a sharp spoon to scoop out seeds. Place the squash on a baking sheet, season with salt and pepper and roast until slightly brown and soft enough to pierce with a fork (about 50-60 minutes).  Let the squash cool enough to handle.

While the squash is roasting, chop the onion and celery and mince the garlic. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick soup pot and sauté the onions and celery until soft (about 7 minutes).  Add minced garlic and cook 2–3 minutes more.  Add 2 cups of vegetable broth and simmer the mixture for 10 minutes.

Once the squash has cooled, scrape the flesh from the skin and mix it with the other 4 cups of broth and the ground cumin.  Add this mixture to the soup pot and simmer about 20 minutes; then use an immersion blender or food processor to purée the soup.  

While the soup simmers, rinse the black beans with cold water. Chop the cilantro and red bell pepper.  Add the beans, red bell pepper and cilantro to the soup mixture and simmer for 15–20 minutes more, adding a little more vegetable stock if desired.  Stir in the jalapeño sauce to taste and serve the soup hot, garnished with low-fat sour cream or plain Greek yogurt and tortilla chips.

4 hours, 4 Super Bowl meals with Guy Fieri

Written by J.M. HIRSCH,
AP Food Editor
Thursday, 09 January 2014 10:09

The idea: With Food Network star Guy Fieri and comedian Judy Gold as my guides, find the best spots for Super Bowl-style grub in Manhattan.

The reality: Fire up “When Harry Met Sally” and loop it on the diner scene (yes, the moaning). Now blast a laugh track, then add a profanity-spewing rabbi, enough X-rated commentary to render much of the evening’s dialogue unquotable, and such gluttonous portions of high-fat food that by the end at least one of us would be vomiting.

You have a sense of the evening. Which is to say, pairing up with Fieri and Gold was more amusing, but less helpful, than hoped.

The path to prosperity in the new year is through your stomach

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Friday, 13 December 2013 07:09
herring

Eat well on New Year's for prosperity in 2014? - PHOTO: Courtesy

In keeping with what’s considered a good-luck tradition in northern Europe, Kim Wall will toast the new year with pickled herring, marinated either in wine sauce or with sour cream and chives. Wall owns Baensch Food Products Co. in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood, which has produced Ma Baensch’s Marinated Herring since 1932. 

The tradition has its roots in the Baltic Sea region. Herring is an abundant food source in the region, and it’s thought to bring abundance in the upcoming year for people who consume it on New Year’s Eve. The silvery color of the fish resembles coins, which adds to its aura as a harbinger of riches.

Stylish cocktails for your New Year’s Eve celebration

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Friday, 13 December 2013 06:14
cocktails

Cheers to 2014. - PHOTO: Courtesy

When the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31, you will probably be toasting friends and loved ones with a flute of Champagne in honor of another year survived and the prospects that lay ahead.

To make the experience especially memorable, augment your bubbly with some stylish cocktails.

2013’s best books to get you thinking about food

Written by J.M. Hirsch,
AP writer
Friday, 13 December 2013 05:52
images---wigout---cookbooks---la-son-roy-choi

L.A. Son My Life My City My Food by Roy Choi. - PHOTO: Courtesy

Let’s all stop being coy and fess up, shall we? The truth is, even those of us who work with cookbooks, write about cookbooks, collect cookbooks — heck, even write cookbooks ourselves — don’t actually cook from cookbooks. At least not nearly as frequently as we tell others we do.

As food has morphed ever more into a pop culture fixture, cookbooks — with their lush photos, their provocative prose, their tempting, come-hither recipes — have become the porn of the food set.

Wine service 101: planning your party

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Wednesday, 27 November 2013 12:56

You’re throwing a holiday gathering for a few friends. You want the vibe to be upbeat and upscale, but you don’t want to break the bank with beverage costs. What do you serve?

Why, wine, of course. You are well past the kegger days, and stocking the liquor cabinet for everyone’s cocktail preferences is too varied and expensive. The right wines can lend elegance and sophistication to your affair. Wine pairs well with food and can help you keep costs in line. Your friends may even make some exciting wine discoveries among the glasses you pour.

But there’s the rub. How do you choose from among the literally thousands of wines available today? How do you serve them properly? And is that $100 Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon you covet really 50 times better than the Two Buck Chuck that has become your everyday plonk?

Here are some ideas to help you better navigate the thickets and vineyards of Wine Service 101.

Decide on a theme. Yes, it’s the holiday season, but everyone will be taking the same old winter-wonderland approach. You can, too, of course, but by adding a creative or thematic spin to the event, the décor or the menu you can make your gathering memorable. 

60 percent polled say restaurant certificates are desirable gifts

Written by WiG Wednesday, 27 November 2013 08:50

If you’re looking for a gift that’s almost certain to please everyone on your gift list, look no further than your favorite local restaurant.

 According to the National Restaurant Association survey, 60 percent of those polled said they’d like to receive a restaurant gift card as a gift. Of those, 29 percent said they’d like to get one from a restaurant they haven’t been to before.

There are plenty of restaurants to choose from. The association counts more than 980,000 restaurants in the United States, and Wisconsin has more than its fair share of interesting eateries of all kinds and price ranges. 

Here are four reasons the association recommends giving restaurant gift cards for the holidays this year:

Go For the Food: Walker’s Point in Milwaukee

Written by M.L. JOHNSON,
AP writer
Thursday, 21 November 2013 16:16

Drive south from downtown Milwaukee into the Walker’s Point neighborhood, where you can enjoy some of the best farm-to-table food in a city that prides itself on being the heart of America’s Dairyland.

Your first stop should be La Merenda, a tapas bar where farmers and artisanal food producers vie to get on the menu. With so many restaurants naming their suppliers these days, serving local food seems unremarkable and increasingly faddish. But Peter Sandroni and a growing group of like-minded chefs have demonstrated the power of buying locally.

When Sandroni opened La Merenda in an old woodworking shop seven years ago, Walker’s Point had only one truly notable restaurant, Peggy Magister’s Crazy Water, a pricey-by-Milwaukee-standards bistro with a quietly loyal clientele.

Liquid locavores soaking up Wisconsin-distilled products

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 14 November 2013 14:35

Move over, microbreweries! Back off, boutique wineries! Wisconsin’s craft distillers are emerging with locally sourced products for drinkers who want to imbibe some Badger State spirits.

Like their beer- and wine-producing counterparts, craft distillers produce small-batch spirits tailored to their own tastes and designed to appeal to the liquid locavore. Some of these businesses are small one-distiller operations, others are offshoots of successful wineries — and all offer a unique signature spin.

Many produce vodka, the starter spirit for most craft distillers because it’s the quickest route to profitability. Others specialize in unusual concoctions, including the once-banned absinthe, “white” whiskey and “crancello,” a local version of the popular limoncello that features cranberries, one of the state’s top crops.

The only limits on new products, it seems, are distillers’ imaginations.