Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wishing you a Very Beasty Christmas

Beast and I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

The cards are sent, the shopping done, the cookies baked and now we're trying to figure out what to make for Christmas Dinner.  Beast would like it to be something that requires a lot of attention and stirring on the stove.  I, on the other hand, would prefer something simple and fairly hands-free. 

Maybe oyster stew, or lobster bisque.  Tim is opting for something involving meat, and lots of it.  Whatever we decide, we know we'll enjoy it, even if just something out of the freezer (we've been eating out of the freezer all week...making room for the lamb that is coming soon).  Regardless of our holiday dinner what we enjoy most is being home, not working, relaxing and appreciating the company of one another.  The kitties, of course would like a little extra something fishy or with chicken, but otherwise they're happy just sitting in our laps. 
So, after I finish work tomorrow night and decide on the menu, we'll post some pics and recipes.
In the meanwhile, Merry, Merry to you and yours!  May your holiday be stress-free, safe and enjoyable.
--Beast and Lisa, Tim, Birch and Coffee

Friday, November 26, 2010

It's National Pie for Breakfast Day

If you missed out on it today, mark your calendars for next year...It's National Pie for Breakfast Day!
I don't know who thinks up these crazy food celebrations, but I'm sure glad they do...
We had some of our pumpkin pie with ancho chile and coffee for breakfast today.
What a great way to start off the weekend, much better than standing in line shopping at some Big Box Store :)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Cranberry Orange Cheesecake with Cardamom

Cranberry Orange Cheesecake with Cardamom
Happy Thanksgiving to All!
Here's a sneak peek at a photo from my soon to be published cookbook, 52 Weeks of Cheesecake. 
I've been working on the cookbook ever since closing Wisconsin Cheesecakery, and this year one of my goals was to complete the book in time for Christmas.  It's going to be close, I've still got some editing to do and final photos to add, but I think I might be done in time for holiday sales around mid-December.

This is a photo that will be in the cookbook along with the recipe for my Cranberry Orange Cheesecake with Cardamom.  If you'd like to try it, stop in at Delaney's this week or next while we have it available for a limited time. 
Hope your Thanksgiving is safe, relaxing and filling!
Lisa, Tim and the Kitties3

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Curried Lentils and Mustard Greens

I've got it!  What to do with all those mustard greens we got in the CSA late this year.  I'll never wonder again...this is the recipe.
Curried Lentils and Mustard Greens (with optional shrimp and scallops)
Due to Crohn's I've developed a deficiency in B-12 and Vitamin D.  So, I've been researching which foods I can increase in my diet to help with the deficiencies.  B-12 deficiency is unusual, and can be difficult for me to overcome.  Because of Crohn's my body doesn't absorb nutrients like everyone else.  Unfortunately the foods highest in B-12 are those I cannot digest...proteins and meats.  But, they are also found in fish and shellfish, which I can digest (and eggs, which I hate).  So, foraging in my cupboard and refrigerator today I found some lentils and a huge bunch of mustard greens.  I stopped at the co-op and picked up some Laughing  Bird shrimp and bay scallops (1/2 lb of each ).  Here's the recipe I made today, and it was so good we'll make it again soon.
2-3 tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 small onions, diced
2 tsp kosher or sea salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 tbsp grated ginger
2 tsp coriander seeds, freshly ground
2 tbsp cumin seeds, freshly ground
2 tbsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp hot curry powder
2 tsp curry powder
1 cup lentils
3 cups chicken broth, warmed
1 bunch mustard greens, chopped and washed
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup dry sherry
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 lb Laughing Bird shrimp (or other small peeled, deveined shrimp)
1/2 lb bay scallops
In a large saucepan heat olive oil, then add carrots,celery, onion and salt.  Cook 10-12 minutes over medium heat, or until onions are transluscent.  Add garlic and ginger, pepper flakes, curry powder and coriander and cumin.  Stir well, cook about 2 minutes.  Add lentils and cook another 2 minutes.  Add chicken broth, increase heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add mustard greens, stirring to incorporate, cover and simmer for 25 minutes.  Add butter, sherry and lemon juice, cover and cook an additional 10 minutes.  Add shrimp and scallops and cook just until shrimp is light pink and scallops no longer transluscent.  Add salt and pepper to taste, if required.  We didn't need more.
Serve immediately and turn the pot off so the shellfish doesn't continue to cook. 
Makes about 4 servings, depending on how many helpings you have. 
To serve leftovers, reheat gently so as not to make the shellfish tough.
Great on its own or served with naan or crusty bread.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies...need I say more?!! What a fantastic treat for October, or anytime really.  What the heck are whoopie pies, you're asking?  Well, you simply haven't lived if you haven't had one of these scrumpdelicious treats.  I found this recipe in the King Arthur Flour magazine and decided to make them for Sawyer's birthday.  (Sawyer is our neighbor who just turned 11).  I think the adults liked them as much or more than the children did.  If you like pumpkin anything you'll love these.  They have a great mixture of spices that reminds you of home.  I would suggest using fresh pumpkin.  One pie pumpkin was just enough to get the 1 1/2 cups pumpkin required for the recipe.  All you do is cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds (and save them for roasted pepitas) then bake the pumpkin cut side down at 350° for about 45 minutes, or until a fork pierces the outer skin easily.  Remove from the oven and flip over so it will cool more quickly.  Once cool enough to handle, scoop out the pumpkin and measure for your recipe.  Any leftovers can be used for smoothies, empanada filling, or whatever you like.  One note on the recipe, I used a regular sized scoop and they turned out way too big.  They spread quite a bit while baking, so use a small scoop (or just a half portion of your regular scoop), or a pastry bag and portion out so they are about 2-3 inches in diameter.  Since I was making these for children I didn't add the crystallized ginger, but I would add it if making for adults.  This recipe is a keeper!

For toasted pepitas, take pumpkin seeds you scooped out and remove the larger chunks of stringy guts.  Don't wash the seeds, though because the natural flavors from the pumpkin guts make the pepitas tasty.  Spread them out on a sheet pan and bake with the pumpkin.  They should be completely dried when done.  Then, melt some butter in a pan and add your favorite seasonings.  I used some dried cayenne pepper, a little sea salt, some freshly ground cumin and a pinch of black pepper.  Stir in the pumpkin seeds until well coated, then spread them back out onto a sheet pan and bake at 250° for about 45 minutes, stirring a couple of times during baking.  mmm...pepitas!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Beast's Been Busy

Beast is sorry for neglecting his blog...he has been busy in the kitchen this week, helping with preparations for food for Tim for the week while Lisa works doubles all week for World Dairy Expo.  We cooked up a storm on Sunday and Monday and now won't be cooking until probably Sunday or Monday.  We made Leek and Potato Soup; Veggie Chili with Quinoa; Red Elk Tenderloin with beets sauteed in butter and cauliflower from JenEhr farm; Sausage Biscuits and Gravy with sage sausage from Jordandal Farm; Enchilada casserole with Ground Beef and Chorizo from Jordandal Farm; and last but definitely not least, Pork and Greens.  Needless to say the freezer gained a few pounds in addition to stocking the refrigerator to the gills for the week.  There was also some left over quinoa for a Mediterranean Quinoa salad with kalamata olives, feta and tomatoes from the garden.  We also saved some of the beans that went into the chili to make a beans and rice dish for late night snacking after work.
We'll be back to baking and cooking soon, with a new recipe for Gluten Free Chocolate Steamed Pudding Cheesecake, specially for my Sissy!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It's Hot and Humid-Must be Time For Canning!

Today it was about as hot and humid as it has been this summer and the rest of the week is supposed to be a dripping treat too.  So, that got me to must be time to do some canning.  One rule of canning is that it must be in the 90's with humidity levels above 80% or don't bother, you won't be able to complain enough about why you have to can in the heat and humidity of the summer :)  Oh, and most important, you cannot cheat and do this in an air conditioned home--you've got to sweat it out in an 80 year old home with no air conditioning of any kind.  Thank goodness the neighbors have a pool...maybe I can jump in during processing times to cool off.

So tomorrow morning I'm off to the farmer's market to see if I can find about 30 lbs of shelled peas to blanch and freeze.  It's always nice to get the kitchen good and steamy before beginning any canning projects.  Next I'll can about 10 lbs of pickles and maybe some hot peppers if there's enough available at the market to can.

Nuts you say?  Why yes, I am!  Nuts for fresh, local and all-year-round, so this time of year I suffer a little in order to enjoy during the lean local months of winter.  And I smile every time I open the freezer or go to the pantry in February during a massive snowstorm to fetch some of the great local food I stored during the heat of summer.

Give it a try...pick your favorite thing and even if you just preserve a little for the fall or winter, see how easy it is and how proud you are to be eating local out of your own freezer or pantry.  Need tips or advice?  There's tons on the web, particularly at University Extension websites.  Or, shoot me a comment or e-mail and I'll be happy to give you pointers.

Just don't miss out on all the fun now that it's "hotter than blazes", as my parents say.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Stuffed squash blossoms

Photo by Lisa Lathrop © DoubLeL Photography
Stuffed squash blossoms…ever tried them? You’re in for a treat!

Served regularly in Europe and Mexico, squash blossoms have a flavor reminiscent to the squash itself. The most common variety for cooking are the pumpkin blossoms, although any squash blossom will do. You can use either the female or the male blossom, and you want to be sure to remove the stamen before stuffing or you’ll have a very bitter flavor to the blossom that will turn you off forever to the entire idea.

Select extremely fresh blossoms that are tight and stand tall. They don’t have a long shelf life, so plan to prepare them within a couple of hours of purchasing them at market. Take a trip or two around the market to be sure you are getting the freshest blossoms…if not, you’re sure to throw some out because they’re wilting and unusable.

Photo by Lisa Lathrop © DoubLeL Photography
To prepare the blossoms, trim the stem just at the base of the flower and remove the stamen from inside. It may be helpful to have a tweezers or needle nose plyers to remove the stamen, as some blossoms may be difficult to get into with just your fingers.

Next prepare a batter for the blossoms using the following:
1 cup flour
½ cup cornstarch
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk or beer
Mix until blended smoothly and chill in refrigerator until ready to use

Stuff blossoms with soft cheese of your choice, using only ½ tsp per blossom then twisting top to seal and place on sheet pan.  Pick up one of the small batch soft artisnal cheeses at market and try that for your stuffing.
Photo by Lisa Lathrop © DoubLeL Photography
Heat ½ inch canola oil, safflower oil or sunflower oil in large sauté pan or wok until heated to 375° or just until a small piece of bread dropped in oil browns quickly.
Dip blossoms in batter and then gently place in oil, being careful to only place as many blossoms as will fit comfortably in bottom of pan at one time. Fry for approx 3 min, turning halfway through. If you have a candy/deep fry thermometer, try to adjust the heat so that the temperature stays about 375° during frying. Remove with slotted spoon and rest on paper towels to drain excess oil. Fry remaining blossoms, drain and sprinkle lightly with salt before serving.

Photo by Lisa Lathrop © DoubLeL Photography
Serve immediately and enjoy!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Beet Salad

Beets are readily available at all the markets and it's time for Beet Salad!

While dining recently at Bunky's Cafe we had a fresh beet salad that was so fantastic even my beet hating husband has turned a new leaf. It's not really that he hates beets, he just wouldn't normally choose to eat them. I, on the other hand, will eat beets in any way, shape or form I can get them.

When visiting the local markets this week, pick up some of the delicious salad greens and some fresh, local beets, cucumbers, onions and tomatoes, and if you get the chance, some great local feta to make a quick and easy summer salad for a hot day.

For quick salad preparation, steam the beets in advance until fork tender, then peel and chill in refrigerator until ready to use. Dice or slice as you like. Peel, de-seed and slice cucumber and toss lightly with salt and place in a strainer while you prepare the rest of the salad. Slice or dice the tomatoes and crumble the feta. Rinse, spin and tear the greens into bite-sized pieces, then toss with a light vinaigrette with rice wine vinegar and local sunflower oil with some fresh herbs, salt and pepper. Portion out the greens onto salad plates, then top with beets, cucumber, tomato and feta. Serve with some fresh baked bread and a little summer sangria and you've got quite a treat for brunch, lunch or dinner.

Oh, and don't throw out the beet tops...the greens work great in soups, salads, stir fry or anywhere else you normally use greens. They have that sweet, wonderful beet-like flavor and are quite a treat.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tequila Mojito

Check out my recipe for a Tequila Mojito on

Thursday, July 15, 2010

YIKES! Greens, greens, and yet more greens

I love this time of year, but some weeks it feels a little overwhelming as our Community Supported Agriculture share from JenEhr Family Farm is bursting with fresh summer goodies. Our refrigerator was packed full of veggies today before I picked up a very full cooler more. So, after working all day at Sub-Zero and then all night at Delaney's I came home and used the new electric pressure cooker--a godsend--to make up some spicy pork and greens with Cottage Bacon from Willow Creek Farm and beet greens and swiss chard. I sauteed some onions with the smoky bacon in a little canola oil, then added some white wine, Frank's hot sauce, water, salt and the greens until it filled the pressure cooker. I cooked them down on warm until they were safely below the Fill line then steamed them for 5 minutes, tasted them, added more hot sauce, stirred and steamed for 5 more minutes. Voila, fini.

Next I sliced up several huge scallions and froze them because they're coming out our ears. Over the winter I'll add them to stir fry, soups, stews etc.

Then I steamed sugar snap peas, the last asparagus of the season and the first broccoli.

I've still got a huge bunch of carrots, a gigantic napa cabbage, the first yellow beans of the season and some kohlrabi and radishes to deal with, but I think I can now fit the rest into the fridge.

Tomorrow I'll make pesto with sorrel, mizuna and basil along with about a dozen scapes still waiting to be used. I'll freeze the pesto for use on pizzas in salads or on pasta over the winter.

I wish there was a way to save all the awesome salad greens for the sparse time during January and February, but since there isn't we'll just have to eat a few more salads this week or make some wraps with shrimp, rice and chilis. Yum!

What I love best about the CSA is I never know what's coming until we get it each week and then I get to be creative about what to use now, what to save for later and how to use the things I've never seen before.

A rarity for Wisconsin, the tomatoes are starting to ripen, so we'll be having lots of tomato salads with balsamic vinegar, mozzarella and basil, or with quinoa, cucumbers, parsley, cilantro and feta, or Margherita pizzas for dinner with fresh green salad. I can't wait to make salsa. We ran out way too early last winter because of the poor year for tomatoes so this year I'll be making loads and enjoying every sweaty minute while they process knowing we'll enjoy the heat of local salsa in the cold months of winter.

Besides, when I'm done processing I can go jump in the neighbors pool to cool off :)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Fresh Peach Galette

It's time for Michigan Peaches, chin drippin' and just begging to be turned into something scrumptious.  Michigan peaches are one of the few things we eat that go beyond our 100 mile locavore diet.  I'm not sure why they grow so many there and almost none here, but I'm sure glad they're in season.  The first one I enjoyed just ripe and juicy all by itself.  I could have sat down and eaten all the rest, one right after the other, but my father always warned me about Gluttony.  So I thought about something that Tim could enjoy for breakfast and decided on a peach galette with a new "Blitz Puff Pastry" recipe I came across on a podcast on Culinary Media Network from Chef Mark Tafoya (6/25/10 podcast).  It's a super fast and easy way to make puff pastry and turned out some beautious galette in addition to some other savory treats I'll save for a later post.  The galette sounds fancy and difficult, but it's really more of a county style pastry that doesn't have to be perfect looking to be pleasing to the eye and the taste buds as well.

Blitz Puff Pastry Ingredients:
1 lb all purpose flour
1/2 lb pastry flour and 1/2 lb bread flour
1 lb unsalted butter
1/4 oz kosher salt or sea salt
1 cup ice water

In a mixing bowl for your electric mixer place flour and salt.  Cut butter into tablespoon sized chunks and place in bowl with flour mixture.  Place bowl and paddle in refrigerator for 15-30 minutes
Mix on low speed until butter is incorporated into flour and about the size of a walnut.
Add the icewater and mix no more than 1 minute more, just until dough comes together.
Place dough onto floured work surface and shape into a rectange.  Roll out until about the size of a 1/2 sheet pan. 
Fold into thirds like a letter (single fold).
Turn 90°
Roll out again until the size of a 1/2 sheet pan.
Make a double fold this time, folding both ends to the center and then folding together. 
Turn 90°
Roll out twice more, once in a single fold and the second time in a double fold, turning 90° between.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes before use.
Can be refrigerated for 2-3 days or frozen.
When ready to use, it is best to cut into quarters and roll out 1/4 at a time, keeping the remainder refrigerated so the butter doesn't soften too much.
Roll out on a floured surface to about 1/8" thickness and cut into desired shapes to fill.
For the galette I cut them into squares, put a tablespoon or so of filling in the center, wet the edges and then folded together from the points to the center. 

Bake at 400° for 15-30 minutes, depending upon the size of the pastry and the amount of filling.

For Peach Galette Filling:
8 fresh peaches
1/2  cup sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp corn starch
3 tbsp port wine (optional, but not necessary)

Place in saucepan and cook until thickened and peaches are soft and pliable.  Filling may be made ahead and stored in refrigerator until ready to use.

This recipe could be done with any fresh fruit that is in season.  In fact...I just picked some raspberries today and I'm thinking maybe some balsamic vinegar and rosemary might be a fun combination for those.

If you try either the pastry or the fruit filling, let me know how they go and how you used them.

Happy eating!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Squash Blossoms and berries, berries and cherries!

At market this week expect to find squash blossoms, more than just pretty flowers...edible and delicious too!  You'll also find the end of most of the strawberries, loads of raspberries, maybe some blueberries and the beginning of Door County Cherries. 
I became enamoured with squash blossoms a few years ago when a friend described how deliciously they are prepared in Italy and now I eagerly await squash blossom season. 

Here's a simple recipe to try:
While you're at the market be sure to pick up some of the last of the main season strawberries and fresh raspberries and maybe even blueberries for a great summer crumble.  I've heard the sweet Door County Cherries will be showing up shortly as well.  The pie cherries are still a couple of weeks away.  It's supposed to be gorgeous on Saturday so get out to your favorite market and pick up some treats for the holiday weekend!
OOH, I almost forgot...I tried something new this year....strawberry infused vodka.  It's only been marinating for a couple of weeks, but I snuck a taste the other night and it is scrumptious....slightly sweet, definitely pink and seems like it will go well with sparkling water and lime or maybe mint when the time comes.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Berries Berries Everywhere

Berries, berries everywhere!

The rain has saturated the strawberries so expect to see a lot of them at markets this week. The raspberries are also coming in strong, and the blueberries shouldn't be too far off either. There's still plenty of rhubarb to be had, so try a fresh fruit crumble or cobbler with whatever you've got on hand.

Here's my recipe for Gingered Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble:
For filling:
•1 lb rhubarb, rinsed and sliced
•1 lb strawberries, rinsed and quartered
•1/2 cup turbinado (or raw) sugar
•3 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
•3 Tbsp corn starch
•Juice of 1 lemon
For topping:
• 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
•1/4 lb unsalted butter, melted
•1/4 cup turbinado (or raw) sugar
•1/4 cup granulated or brown sugar
•1 tsp baking powder
•zest of 1 lemon
To Prepare:
Preheat oven to 375°; butter 8x8 or 9x9 glass baking dish or deep dish pie plate; mix together filling ingredients and pour into baking pan; mix together topping and spread evenly over the top of fruit filling. Bake for 1 hour on a baking sheet to catch any boil over from the fruit (makes oven clean up easier). Serve at room temperature or slightly warmed with fresh whipped cream and Earl Green and Lavendar tea (optional). Makes a great breakfast food! As we move through the summer fruits, keep this recipe and try it with others like blueberries, raspberries, peaches, pears, apples, etc.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Strawberry Rhubarb Creme Brulee

Beast and I have been hard at work, ok, well Beast has been sleeping a lot while I've been working a lot...
In any case we're sorry for not posting more frequently...we'll try to be better.
Our latest venture in the kitchen is Strawberry Rhubarb Creme Brulee and let me say...get out to the market this week and purchase some fresh, local, delicious strawberries and rhubarb, and don't forget the'll need those as well.  The fruit can be prepared ahead of time so that the brulee doesn't take so long for prep time, but in this weather you may just figure that if you've got the oven on you may as well finish the project all at once.  Either way....
1 lb Rhubarb rinsed and chopped into 1/4 inch slices
2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 lb Strawberries, quartered
butter for greasing pan to bake fruit in
6 tbsp sugar
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup turbinado or superfine sugar for carmelizing
Extra strawberries for decorating
Preheat oven to 375° then butter 8" square glass baking dish.  Toss rhubarb with grated ginger and place in baking dish.  Bake uncovered for 45 minutes then add strawberries and bake for an additional 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with 6 tbsp sugar and mix together.  Cool before either using immediately or refrigerating for later use.  If you make extra, this is an awesome topping for shortcake or ice cream, or just about anything else you can think of to put it on.
If continuing immediately, reduce heat to 325° and fill ramekins or custard cups 1/3 full with cooled fruit mixture.  Place custard cups onto sheet pan or large baking pan with sides (you'll be adding water in a bit)
Prepare custard:
Pour heavy cream into a medium sized saucepan and then split vanilla bean in half lengthwise.  Scrape vanilla into cream and then place bean pod into cream as well.  Heat over medium heat until careful not to boil and do not stir the pan. 
In mixer: mix together egg yolks and sugar until well blended.  Once cream is scalded, add to egg and sugar mixture in a slow stream, with mixer on medium speed.  Do not mix too long, or you will form a foam that is not desirable for the brulee. 
Strain brulee into a large measuring cup or heat proof pitcher.  Divide custard evenly among ramekins filling just below the top if there is enough batter.
Fill pan with hot or boiling water to fill just halfway up the sides of the ramekins or custard cups
Bake at 325° for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes or until set.  The custard will still have some jiggle when done, and will firm up in the refrigerator. 
Carefully remove ramekins or custard cups from water bath, taking care not to drip water onto custards remaining in the bath.  Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before refrigerating.
May be stored covered in refrigerator for up to 5 days.
To serve:  sprinkle each custard with approximately 1 tbsp turbinado or superfine sugar and use a torch to carmelize.  If you do not have a torch, place under the broiler for a couple of to be sure it doesn't burn.  You want it to be brown and carmelized, not blackened.
Top with a fresh strawberry fan and indulge!
While this sounds hard, it is a great way to impress friends, family and company by using what's fresh and local for a tasty treat.
Tip:  Don't know what to do with the leftover egg whites?  Here's a couple of suggestions:  Make an egg white omelet for breakfast...make some meringue cookies or use them for a meringue topping for a pie.  Surf the web for ideas on uses for egg whites...regardless, don't waste the fantastic local organic eggs you purchased at market!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


My breadmaking ventures have now branched out to bagels.  I wish I had known earlier how simple they are to make!  Each week before heading off to the Farmer's Market I put together a batch and pop them in the oven to proof.  By the time I return from the market the bagels are ready to shape, boil and bake.  Alltogether they only take about 2 hours until good eats.
Our favorite flavor is Everything Bagels and I mix up my own everything mix using 2 tbsp each of the following: Dried garlic flakes, dried onion flakes, toasted sesame seeds, poppy seeds, kosher salt, and then I add a couple grinds of black pepper to the mix.  Stir it up and top bagels before baking...delicious!
Here's a simple bagel recipe to try for your first venture:
Bring on the cream cheese and have a great start to your weekend!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Asparagus-Sweet Asparagus!!!

Beast's Kitchen has been on a hiatus while I've been in training at my new job at Sub-Zero and Wolf Appliance.  Soon I'll be moving home and working part-time from home and will have more time with Beast, who misses me dearly, and for writing.
This morning is a bit dreary in Madtown, but it was well worth getting out for the early spring Asparagus at the Dane County Farmer's Market.  I wait for this time of year all winter and don't really even care that the average price for the first couple of weeks is $5/lb.
I am in I'll be grilling fresh local asparagus coated with olive oil and lemon zest--it doesn't get much better!
And I heard from one of the farmers that the morels should be early too...maybe even as soon as next week.  I expect those will run around $30/lb for the early ones, but what could be better than morels sauteed in garlic butter with a side of grilled asparagus-Delish!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Corned Beef Time

It's time again for Corned Beef for St Paddy's Day
Last year I tried corning my brisket myself and we thought it was pretty fun, so I'm doing it again this year.  If you get started today you still have time to corn your own brisket in time for St. Patrick's Day.
Here's the recipe again--the best part is you can use an organic, pasture raised local brisket...
Here's the recipe I used--I mix my own pickling spices, but you can purchase pickling spices already mixed at the store as well. I used a 3-lb brisket but this brine is sufficient for up to 8 lbs of brisket.

For the brine:
Place the following ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved in the mixture. Take off heat and cool before using.
6 cups water
2 cups amber beer
1 1/2 cups kosher salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup pickling spices

Recipe for pickling spices:
1 t allspice berries
1 t coriander seed
1 t dill seeds
1 t ground mace
1/2 t cardamom seed
1/2 t yellow mustard seed
1/2 t brown mustard seed
6 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick, crushed
2-1" pieces dried ginger
1 bay leaf, crushed
1 t black peppercorns

Trim any excess fat off the brisket and pierce all over so that the brine will soak in better. Place brisket in a glass or plastic container and cover with brine. Weight down the brisket with a couple of plates so that it stays submerged and refrigerate. Ideally you want to brine the brisket for 10 days, but can do as few as 4. On the 4th, and 8th day remove the brisket from the brine and rinse it with water and then place it back into the brine. On the last day rinse the brisket before slow cooking. Brisket is a meat that is best served by slowly braising over a low temperature. A slow cooker is perfect. Just place the brisket and any desired vegetables in the pot and add a couple of cups of liquid (I'm using stout beer), cover and leave it for several hours. It should be fork tender when you get back to it. If you don't have a slow cooker or crockpot, you can achieve he same thing in a covered dutch oven or roasting pot in the oven at about 225° for about 6 hours.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Breakfast Pizza with Farmer's Market Ingredients

Recently I've made a couple of breakfast pizzas with ingredients fresh from the Dane County Farmer's Market.  They might just be Tim's new favorite....after breakfast cheesecake, of course.
The first one was inspired by some leftover dough from pizza night the previous evening and I topped it with queso, sauteed baby bella mushrooms, spinach, artichoke hearts, scrambled eggs and cheese.  It was divine.
The second one I made with an herbed crust rolled super thin, and topped it with queso, sauteed onions and spinach, bacon, scrambled eggs and cheese.  It too was quite good, but we preferred the first version more for some reason. 
A tip if you try this:  scramble the eggs soft because they'll cook more in the oven as the pizza cooks and you don't want them to end up rubbery.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ambergeddon Beer Cheese Soup

March 1: Beer Day
(Tim says every day is beer day...)
Check out my recipe for Ambergeddon Beer Cheese Soup on here:
Ambergeddon Beer Cheese Soup
Cheers to Beer Day!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sala Thai

Yesterday we finally tried Sala Thai on Fair Oaks near Milwaukee Street.  I'm not sure why we waited so long, but I know we'll be back again soon!  We went for lunch and arrived about 1:15 and were the only people there for a while until another couple came in to eat.  We ordered the Vietnamese Spring Roll, which comes with two and is  filled with cilantro, cucumber, carrots, lettuce, vermicelli noodles and eggs or shrimp.  We got the veggie version.  The Vietnamese style are served cold in a rice wrapper with a garlic peanut dipping sauce.  They were so huge and fantastic that I forgot all about taking a picture until they were gone.  I can't wait to go back for more.  We also ordered the Chicken Satay, which has 4 skewwers of grilled, marinated chicken and is served with a thick peanut sauce and a fresh cucumber salad.  The chicken was incredibly tender and moist and they were clearly made to order, not sitting in a steam table in the back.  The peanut sauce was good enough to drink and the cucumber salad was crisp and refreshing.  Another would order again for sure.  The only strange thing was the chicken was served on a piece of bread, which wasn't necessary to the dish.  We also ordered the Pad Kraprow, a spicy stir fry of peppers, onlions, garlic, mushrooms and basil with shrimp.  You can also order this with Chicken, Pork or Beef.  It was described on the menu as very hot, but my taste buds enjoyed a slow burn that I wouldn't classify as very hot.  It is not for those with mild tastes, though.  The dish was served over rice and was a plentiful lunch portion, allowing for leftovers...the best part!  We also ordered the Panang Curry with Shrimp, which is a peanut sauce curry with potatoes, carrots and basil.  It was really saucy and very good.  This also came served over rice and could be ordered with Chicken, Tofu or Beef instead of shrimp.  The menu is varied and has many options, with lunch portions during the day and dinner portions at night.  They also serve beer and wine and offer To Go food as well.  From the outside the building looks small, but there are a surprising number of tables and they aren't all jammed together.
According to the Carry Out menu, the hours are: Sunday-Monday Dinner 5-9; Tuesday-Thursday Lunch 11-3; Dinner 5-9; Friday Lunch 11-3; Dinner 5-9:30; Saturday Lunch 11:30-3; Dinner 5-9:30.
The phone is 608-246-1889 and the address is 36 S Fair Oaks Ave.
Give them a try won't be disappointed with the food, service or atmosphere.
Sala Thai on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Currant and Pecan Muffins

During the summer I try to freeze some of the more interesting fruits and berries for use during the winter when I'm getting itchy for springtime. This week we had used all of the breakfast items in the freezer so I made a batch of muffins with whole wheat flour, freshly ground flax seed, currants I had frozen from our CSA with JenEhr Farm, and some toasted pecans. They turned out yummy!
Currant and Pecan Muffins:
Preheat oven to 500° (yes, it's really 500°) on...
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup white wheat flour
2 Tbsp ground flax seed
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup currants (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup toasted pecans
Mix together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl mix the wet ingredients.
If using frozen currants, add them to the dry ingredients and stir before adding wet ingredients. If using fresh currants, wait until after adding the wet ingredients.
Mix the wet ingredients into the dry and stir just until moist. Batter will be thick and somewhat lumpy. Add the nuts last.
Grease a muffin tin and then use an ice-cream scoop to scoop the mix into the pan.
Place the pan in the oven and turn the oven down to 400°. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack before removing muffins from pan.
Tip: Heating the oven to 500° and then lowering the temp when putting in the muffins helps the muffins to develop a nice peak and a beauty brown top. If you are using a convection oven, turn down the temp to 375° and bake for 13-17 minutes, turning pan half way through baking to avoid having the blow over effect on the muffins.
Serve warm with butter.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Comfort foods...for each of us they include different things.
Growing up we often had popovers and for me they are comfort food. But then again, what custard isn't???
Here's the recipe I use most often from the Moosewood Cookbook:
Custardy Popovers
-crisp and puffy, full of hot air, with a layer of custard on the inside
15 minutes to prepare
35 minutes to bake
makes 12 popovers
375° oven
4 eggs
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp melted butter
Beat together the eggs and the milk. Add flour and salt. Beat with a fork until mixture is uniform.
Preheat a muffin tin in the oven for 5 minutes. Brush the cups and the top surface generously with melted butter. Fill each muffin hole 2/3 full with batter. Work quickly so the tin stays hot. Place on a cookie sheet in the oven. Bake for 35 minutes without opening the oven. Prick each popover with a fork to let steam escape. (this will help them hold their shape.
Serve immediately with butter and jam (optional).

Friday, January 29, 2010

Black Bean and Chorizo Soup

I cooked off a pound of black beans in the slow cooker yesterday and I'm going to pick up a pound of Jordandal Farms Chorizo Sausage and make a big pot of Black Bean and Chorizo Soup. You can certainly put your own twist on this, but here's the basics:
1 # black beans, rinsed, soaked, rinsed again and cooked until tender
1 to 2 # Jordandal Farms bulk or link Chorizo Sausage
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced onions
1 cup diced green pepper
1 cup diced celeriac
2 tsp sea salt
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp fresh ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
3 tbsp chili powder
8 cups broth of your choice (vegetable, chicken, veal, ham, whatever is on hand)
optional: 1 to 2 cups corn; 1 to 2 cups chopped greens (mustard, kale, whatever is on hand); 1 cup cooked rice (brown, white or wild will all work)
zest and juice of 1 lime
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup dry sherry (or 1 cup beer if you prefer)
salt & pepper to taste
In a large soup pot heat olive oil over medium heat then add onions, peppers, celeriac and 2 tsp sea salt. Saute until onions are transluscent. Add garlic, cumin, paprika and chili powder and cook about 2 minutes, stirring to ensure garlic does not burn. Add chorizo and cook until the chorizo is cooked through, approximately 8 minutes. Add broth and beans, and bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. Add corn, greens and/or rice (if using). Add lime zest and juice and sherry.
Just before serving, taste and add salt & pepper as needed.
Our favorite way to enjoy: With quesadillas!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Homemade Refritos and Tortillas-comfort food!

Recently while listening to a food podcast I learned that canned foods can leach bisphenol A (BPA) into the food, and can result in health concerns for people---EWW!
I hardly purchase any food from the grocery store, but canned refried beans, pinto beans and black beans are regular staples, mostly because they are quick and easy to use.
It is actually less expensive and healthier to just prepare your own dried beans, so that's what I've started doing.
A few tips on preparing dried beans:
-Always soak the beans 8-24 hours and then drain and rinse them before cooking. Dried beans release toxins and sugars into the water as they soak and to avoid gas and stomach cramps it is best to drain and rinse the beans and then cook them in fresh water.
-You'll want to cook 1 lb (2 cups) of beans in at least 6 cups of water, or more. The beans should remain covered in water at all times during cooking. The more water, the faster they'll cook.
-Bring the beans to a boil for 3 minutes, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, or until soft.
-Beans can be cooked in a slow cooker after soaking. Many recipes call for cooking on low for 8-10 hours. I tried this and they seemed pretty tough after 12 hours on low, so I turned up the heat to medium for about 8 hours and then back to low for another 4 hours, so they cooked in the slow cooker a total of 24 hours after soaking for 24 hours. You can speed this up by soaking the beans overnight then turning the slow cooker on medium in the morning and checking it after about 6 hours. As long as you have enough water, you can safely leave the beans on medium all day while you are at work.
Here's my recipe for homemade refried beans, which are great made into Quesadillas with cheese and homemade tortillas (recipe follows):
Homemade Refried Beans
1 lb (2 cups) dried pinto or black beans soaked overnight and drained
6-12 cups water for cooking beans
2 Tbsp butter, oil, bacon fat, etc for cooking with the beans
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups diced onion
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
3-6 serrano peppers (optional)
3 habanero peppers (optional)
2-3 Tbsp freshly ground cumin
1 diced green pepper
cooked beans
zest and juice of 2 limes
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
In a large sauce or saute pan heat olive oil and then saute onion, garlic and hot peppers with cumin and 1/2 tsp salt until the onions are translucent. Add green pepper and cook covered for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the vegetables are sauteeing, mash the beans with a potato masher, and/or run though the food processor to produce the desired consistency. I like my refried beans smooth so I mashed them first, then ran them through the processor with the lime zest and juice.
Add beans, lime zest and juice, remaining salt and pepper and stir thoroughly. Keep beans covered in warm oven until ready to use, or refrigerate for later use.
Homemade Flour Tortillas: Super just with butter, but great as quesadillas too!
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp lard, vegetable oil or bacon fat
3/4 cup hot water
Sift dry ingredients together, then mix in fat and gradually add water, 2-3 Tbsp at a time, mixing dough between. On a lightly floured surface knead dough for about 8 minutes, until dough is a smooth consistency. Place dough in a covered dough and let rest in a warm place for 20 minutes. Cut dough into 8 pieces and shape into balls, then cover with a damp cloth and let rest 10 minutes before rolling out into 6-8 inch rounds about 1/4 inch thick. Cook over medium heat in a cast iron skillet if possible for 30 minutes on each side. Store cooked tortillas in a covered pan in a warm oven (170-190°) until ready to use.
For Quesadillas: Spread one tortilla with refried beans and top with your favoite cheese and cover with another tortilla. Cook over medium heat in a cast iron pan for 2-3 minutes per side. Serve with sour cream, salsa and jalapeno peppers.
Left over tortillas can be refrigerated or frozen for later use.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Fresh greens at the winter farmer's market

Fresh, Local Greens at Winter MarketJust when you thought you couldn't get any more fresh local greens until spring....along comes the Winter Dane County Farmer's Market.The first market at the Madison Senior Center on Saturday featured Fresh Mesclun Mix from Don's Produce $4 per bagand Frost Sweetened Spinach from Snug Haven $9 per pound.I really missed the farmer's market for the two weeks it was on hiaitus over the holidays and was one of the first ones there on Saturday to pick up some much needed greens.The market breakfast is the big draw when the market moves to the Madison Senior Center, but don't let the line fool you...most of them are there to eat, and you shouldn't have much of a wait if you are there to shop.There is a parking ramp conveniently right next door, so no worries about where to park on cold winter Saturday mornings.There is a great selection of items offered at the winter market at the Senior Center, even though the space is not as big as at Monona Terrace.Here's a partial list of what was offered this weekend:Apples and cider, cheeses, garlic, mushrooms, potatoes, carrots and other root vegetables, pork, beef, chicken, pasties, eggs, pastries, breads, cookies and cheesecakes, pesto and sauces and more.Make time to stop in on Saturday from 8 am - Noon and enjoy the great offerings and support the local farmers and artisan producers during their "slow" time of the year. Happy eating!

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Haze

Have you been to The Haze? No, it's not the fog you were in after over-indulging on New Year's's Shinji Muramoto's latest venture on King Street, in the location where the original Restaurant Muramoto was located. It's strikingly simple, from decor to menu. This is not a place for vegetarians, but locavores delight... The Haze is an Asian/American Barbeque joint featuring meats from local Wisconsin farms. It's a carnivore's delight.

The quaint space has undergone a few changes, and features a tin ceiling, a beautiful wood wall featuring photos from local farms and a large chalkboard menu near the entrance. You place your order at the counter and pay, then your food is delivered to your seats.

Beverage offerings include tap beers and fountain soda. Sorry, no wine or liquor. Portions are plentiful, even on the lunch offerings, so bring your appetite and be prepared for high quality food, well prepared with interesting twists on the originals. Oh, and save room for Dan Almquist's fresh baked desserts!

We tried the Pork Asian Style with Coleslaw, below left, and the Brisket Asian Style with the Seasonal Cheesy Cauliflower side. Both were tender, and delicious. We tried several of the BBQ sauces with each and our favorite was the vinegar based, spicier than the "spicy" BBQ sauce. Our second favorite was the Asian BBQ sauce, which was delicious on the rice. While everything was awesome, the coleslaw was really unique. It almost seemed to have no sauce, but it was fresh and crisp with a very clean taste. Tim thinks it may be some of the best coleslaw he's ever had.

This unique, locally owned restaurant deserves more than just one visit---so stop in soon and enjoy some REAL bbq, asian or american style.

Haze on Urbanspoon