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.

Latkes are for Hanukkah and Thanksgiving

Written by Alison Ladman,
AP recipe developer
Friday, 01 November 2013 09:52

Potato latkes may be the best-known variety of this crispy staple of Hanukkah meals, but don’t feel you need to limit yourself to them.

Though potatoes have their own symbolism for this Jewish holiday, it’s the oil used in the frying that is particularly significant. It symbolizes the long-lasting oil burned in the temple lamps in the Hanukkah story. There are many latke variations, including sweet potato, onion and carrot.

Since the first day of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving this year, we drew on a staple of that all-American holiday to make a delicious variation — pumpkin latkes. We top ours with a cranberry-spiked sour cream, but applesauce would be just as delicious.

Trick or seed: Jack-o-lantern’s toasty snack

Written by Sarah Moulton,
AP writer
Thursday, 17 October 2013 13:55

New York City has a zillion charms, but it may not be the ideal place to celebrate Halloween. Here’s the problem — where do you display your jack-o’-lantern if you live in an apartment building with no porch?

Then again, my family and I are New Yorkers, and a little defect like this was not going to keep us from carving scary faces into pumpkins. As a kid, I loved this  kind of project, even though — or because? — it was so messy. It also was kind of dangerous, given the sharp knives required.

Spooky Halloween cocktails

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 17 October 2013 13:49

Planning a haunting Halloween party? Nothing captures the proper spirit quite like the proper spirits. Here are some ghostly libations to raise your party from the grave.

Kohler Food and Wine Experience is tasty getaway

Written by Anne Siegel,
Contributing writer
Friday, 04 October 2013 10:44

Scene from the 2008 event. -Photo: Courtesy Kohler

For four days beginning Oct. 17, more than 9,000 visitors, a multitude of celebrity chefs and food vendors will descend upon the normally sleepy town of Kohler.

In fact, the Kohler Food & Wine Experience, entering its 13th year at The American Club, has such strong advance sales that organizers expect record-breaking crowds. Big draws this year include: Food Network star Cat Cora (the first female contestant on “Iron Chef” and co-host of “Around the World in 80 Plates” on the Bravo Channel); Fabio Viviani, owner and executive chef of two noted California restaurants and Siena Tavern in Chicago; and the Beekman Boys, stars of a reality TV show on the Cooking Channel in which they are transplanted from New York City to Beekman Farm in upstate New York.

Chocolate banana ginger quick bread

Written by Alison Ladman,
AP recipe developer
Friday, 04 October 2013 10:36

The greatest thing about quick breads also is the most obvious. They’re quick.

Stir together some ingredients, pop it in a pan, throw it in the oven. Your house will be filled with the fantastic smells of baking and you probably didn’t do more than 15 minutes work.

Recipes for apple season

Written by The Associated Press Friday, 20 September 2013 10:48

As satisfying as it is to eat freshly picked apples straight up and unadorned, the chill of fall makes it equally tempting to head back to the kitchen and bake them into a pie.

But that’s where most people get tripped up. They fear a fussy pie crust. They loathe a long baking time or a persnickety filling. So we decided to come up with an easy apple tart that uses a fuss-free crust and comes together in under an hour. Even better – because the filling is only gently cooked on the stovetop, the apples retain more of their crisp, fresh, just-picked flavor.

Easy apple tart

As satisfying as it is to eat freshly picked apples straight up and unadorned, the chill of fall makes it equally tempting to head back to the kitchen and bake them into a pie.

But that’s where most people get tripped up. They fear a fussy pie crust. They loathe a long baking time or a persnickety filling. So we decided to come up with an easy apple tart that uses a fuss-free crust and comes together in under an hour. Even better – because the filling is only gently cooked on the stovetop, the apples retain more of their crisp, fresh, just-picked flavor.

Start to finish: 1 hour

Servings: 12


14 tablespoons (1-3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup apple cider

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon water


Heat the oven to 400 F. Coat an 11-inch removable bottom tart pan with baking spray.

In a food processor, combine the butter, sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Pulse several times. Add the flour and pulse to combine, scraping down the sides of the work bowl as needed.

Transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Press the dough evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Poke the bottom all over with a fork. Bake 15–20 minutes or until golden brown.

While the crust bakes, make the filling. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, combine the apples, vinegar, brown sugar, cider, cinnamon and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, gently stirring to promote even cooking but without breaking the apples, until just tender, about 10–12 minutes.

In a small glass, mix together the cornstarch and water. Add to the apples and cook, stirring gently, for 2 minutes, or until thickened.

When the crust and apples are cooked, spoon the apples into the crust, arranging them in concentric circles if desired. Pour any extra juices over the surface of the apples. Serve warm or room temperature.

Nutrition information per serving: 270 calories; 120 calories from fat (44 percent of total calories); 14g fat (9 g saturated; 0g trans fats); 35mg cholesterol; 36g carbohydrate (2g fiber, 19g sugar); 2g protein; 85mg sodium.

– Alison Ladman, AP writer

Sausage & apple dutch baby

As families try to get back into their school year routines, there will be many cool autumn nights when the comfort and speed of warm breakfast foods would be just the thing to finish the day. But having breakfast for dinner doesn’t mean the meal can’t have a savory side.

When we think of one-pot dinners, we generally gravitate to stir-fries and casseroles. But a baked pancake is a fine choice, too, particularly when you add sausage and apples.

For this weeknight recipe, I started with a basic Dutch baby, a common baked pancake. But I spiked the pancake with crumbled breakfast sausage and chopped apples, a delicious and filling combination that blends savory and sweet flavors. For a leaner take, you could substitute chicken sausage. Just be sure to go for a flavor that will work with the apples and cinnamon.

Because salty sausage loves the sweet accent of sugar, this pancake gets drizzled with maple syrup just before serving. But if you’d rather ditch the sweet, you could sprinkle the top with grated Parmesan or even cheddar cheese and return it to the oven for another minute.

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Servings: 6


3 eggs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch salt

1 pound loose breakfast-style pork sausage

3 medium apples, divided

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 tablespoon sugar

Maple syrup, to serve


Heat the oven to 400 F.

In a blender, combine the eggs, flour, milk, yogurt, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Blend until very smooth, then set aside. Alternatively, the batter can be made in a bowl using a whisk.

Coat a large cast-iron or oven-safe, nonstick skillet with cooking spray, then heat it over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up the meat until it’s just starting to brown, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and core two of the apples, then cut them into 1/2-inch chunks. Add the cut apples and onion to the skillet, then sauté until they are just tender, about 6–8 minutes. Spread the sausage-apple mixture evenly over the bottom of the skillet and remove the pan from the heat.

Core the remaining apple then cut it crosswise into very thin slices. A mandoline is best for this, but a food processor or knife work is fine, too.

Pour the batter evenly over the sausage-apple mixture. Tilt the pan as needed to ensure it spreads evenly in the pan. Arrange the apple slices over the top of the batter; it’s fine if they overlap. Sprinkle the apples with the sugar, then bake for 20 minutes.

To serve, slice into wedges and drizzle with maple syrup.

Nutrition information per serving: 380 calories; 150 calories from fat (39 percent of total calories); 17g fat (5g saturated; 0g trans fats); 145mg cholesterol; 39g carbohydrate; (3g fiber, 25g sugar); 17g protein; 460mg sodium.

– J.M. Hirsch, AP writer

Top chef restaurant concept? A NY village is offering free rent on Main Street

Written by MICHAEL HILL,
AP writer
Wednesday, 18 September 2013 18:31

Locals looking to land a buzz-worthy, foodie-friendly restaurant in a village in New York’s Hudson River area are offering the right chef a novel deal: Come to Catskill with a killer concept – maybe farm-to-table, gastro-pub or vegetarian – and get space on Main Street rent free for a year.

The hope is the right restaurant will give the growing number of arrivals from New York City an attractive place to eat. And maybe it will accelerate the kind of gentrification that has revived other river towns.

Pizza Man serves up a new beginning

Written by Mike Muckian,
Contributing writer
Friday, 06 September 2013 11:50

Pizza Man Mike Amidzich. -Photo: Courtesy

Mike Amidzich figures that he made more than 10,700 people happy when he reopened Pizza Man, the iconic Milwaukee restaurant that burned to the ground in early 2010.

That number reflects the current followers of Pizza Man’s Facebook page. When Amidzich announced earlier this year that he planned on reopening, the number of “likes” nearly doubled from 6,000.

Dishing trash
Chefs are reeling in a sustainable trend in seafood

Written by From AP
and WiG Reports
Friday, 09 August 2013 15:40

Whole carp baked with flaked almonds and served with sauerkraut (bigos) and bread is a popular Polish Christmas dish. -Photo: Teresa Kasprzycka

Most people have never seen a scorpion fish outside an aquarium – unless they dine at Carolina Crossroads Restaurant in Chapel Hill, N.C., where they can find the spiny, venomous creature on the plate.

It’s called trash fish dining, and it’s catching on with chefs around the country searching for fresh ways to fill their menus with sustainable seafood.