Archive for June, 2013

Rock County Comfort Food

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Tonight I was lucky enough to be my Dad’s date to the Larson Acres summer picnic (http://www.larsonacres.com/). The Larsons are a Rock County farm family that I grew up with – I got to catch up with Barb for a minute and it occurred to me that she was my first 4-H foods project leader. I remember a particular meeting at her home where we cooked a full breakfast – the first time I was allowed to make pancakes (I was probably 8 or 9) and learned to watch for the bubbles to know when it’s time to flip. Another example of how my upbringing made me passionate about food.

There’s just something about the food at a gathering like this that is so comforting to me. The first thing I noticed when we pulled up was the Rock County Pork Producers trailer (http://www.rockcountyporkproducers.com/) cooking center cut pork chops. Getting in line, we got our plastic plates and loaded up with chops, baked beans, cheesy potatoes, cheese curds and applesauce. Wash it all down with a cold can of Miller Lite: that’s what I call heaven. The only thing that could possibly top it off is a sundae or cone from the Rock County Dairy Parlor.

To me, food is all about pleasure and memories, comfort and tradition. There is nothing like a freshly grilled pork chop. The sweet and salty taste of baked beans compliments the savory richness of cheesy potatoes. There is nothing wrong or unsophisticated about a simple meal with quality, local ingredients. This is what I love about my roots at Maple Hill.

P.S. my sincerest thanks, as a cheese fanatic, to Larson Acres for producing all that milk – and of course for your hospitality tonight!

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Asian chicken salad with honey sesame dressing

Salad jars are an awesome way to prep for a busy week. I make four at a time (usually on Sunday) and they last up to six days in the fridge. The general idea is that you grab a glass jar, start with your dressing in the bottom, top that with the more hearty parts of the salad (meat, beans) then layer on vegetables, fruits, greens and nuts/seeds. I take mine to work and can just grab it, shake it up and eat it right out of the jar.

Yum - honey sesame dressing on the bottom

Yum – honey sesame dressing on the bottom

Honey Sesame Dressing:

1/2 c. toasted sesame oil

1/2 c. rice vinegar

2 tbsp. honey

1 tsp. sesame seeds

3 garlic cloves

1 tsp. ginger

Salad:

12 oz. chicken tenders, sauteed in 1 tbsp. olive oil

1 bag frozen edamame, shelled

1 bag shredded carrots

1 bunch green onions, sliced thin

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 yellow pepper, chopped

baby arugula

Start by mixing all of your dressing ingredients well, then put about 3 tbsp. in the bottom of each glass jar. Layer the rest of the ingredients on top, in the order they are listed. Close the jar lids tightly and store your salads in the fridge for up to a week.

Mix all dressing ingredients well and put about 3 tbsp. in the bottom of each glass jar.

Not the last time you’ll hear about how awesome Rocket Baby is

"Mac Daddy" Macaroons

Rocket Baby Bakery http://rocketbabybakery.com/ moved into my neighborhood this year and I’ll be frank, I just can’t get enough. I’m in there at least once a week, mostly because I love their lattes (they don’t have skim milk. You get whole. And it’s worth it.) and am addicted to the cranberry walnut bread for breakfast toast. It doesn’t hurt that they’re part of my favorite local organization, Local First Milwaukee.

This was a long week at work, and I didn’t have time to get anything made for my family reunion. My mom asked me to bring something sweet, so I decided to grab a box of macaroons on my way out of town. This is my first sample of this treat, and I was just as impressed as always. These little buggers are not only gorgeous to look at, but they melt in your mouth. I have no idea how you make them, and I probably won’t attempt to learn. Not when I can grab these any time I want. I was lucky enough to snag one of the green ones, which I think was pistachio, and it was amazing. My family loved them. And I just can’t get over how cute they are.

If you’re in the Wauwatosa area, you need to make a stop at 69th and North to take in some Rocket Baby goodness. I promise, it will be worth it. Next time I get a breakfast muffin with an egg baked in, I promise to tell you about it, but for now, I got my fix with macaroons.

Marlene’s Hash Quiche

Today was the annual Lloyd family summer reunion at my folks’ house. The Lloyd’s are on my Mom’s side; Grandma Maxine Broege was a Lloyd before she married. Breakfast was a special treat this morning, as my mom pulled out some of Grandma’s recipes and made “Hash Quiche” for us. Grandma’s sister Marlene gave the recipe to her, and it was even more special to see the recipe in my grandma’s hand writing. I hold the cookbooks that I received after she died dear because of her little notes: “made for Faithful Followers” or “needs more milk.”

Hash Quiche

Hash Quiche

The hash quiche was excellent – cooked in a stoneware pie plate with crust made of corned beef hash and filled with veggies and eggs, this made for a satisfying, salty, delicious breakfast.

1 regular sized can corned beef hash

1 c. shredded swiss cheese

1 c. chopped celery

1 large white onion, chopped

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 c. milk

1/4 c. Bisquick

Combine the hash and 1 beaten egg. Press into a lightly greased baking dish or pie plate. Sprinkle onions, cheese and celery over hash. Mix remaining egg and Bisquick until quite smooth. Mix into milk and pour over top of the quiche. Bake at 325 degrees for about 1 hour.

I think this could be made into a nice gluten-free breakfast as well – maybe I’ll try it sometime soon. I’d substitute a bit of rice or tapioca flour for the Bisquick to bind everything, and if I was really going to town, I’d add tomatoes (or sun dried tomatoes) and mushrooms.

Here’s Grandma’s version:

20130622GrandmaBroege hash quiche recipe1

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Odd Duck surprises and delights

I visited Odd Duck for the first time tonight with my friends Annie and Mike. After a long week, I’m usually not a Friday night gal, but this experience was worth the drive from my home on the west side of Milwaukee to Bayview, our ever evolving foodie paradise. We had a 6:30 reservation, which I was thankful for; this tiny venue was packed when I arrived.

Let’s say, I’d heard some rave reviews about this place, but didn’t really have a clue what to expect. I was surprised at how small the place is – a limited number of tables and bar seats, although I noticed a back patio from my indoor table. The kitchen is literally closed in by unfinished 2×4’s and curtains – I wondered out loud at one point in the evening where they wash all the dishes! Despite the tight quarters, the ambiance is lovely – it feels comfortable, retro and a little bit chic.

After Annie and I ordered our wine (and Mike chose bourbon) we decided on an appetizer. I was impressed with the meat and cheese selection which offered a variety of a la carte options, all served with warm (warm!) crusty bread and excellent compliments.

Charcuterie & Cheese Board

Charcuterie & Cheese Board

Our selections included Old Skool Salami from Bolzano Meats (a local Milwaukee favorite), pepperoni, coppa and soppressata from Underground Meat Company, and we took our waiter’s recommendation on the cheese selection. Accompaniments included peach preserves, grainy mustard and some of the best pickles I’ve tasted in a long time.

Once we made our way through conversation and course number one, I left it up to Annie and Mike to make the decision on the small plates to follow. They did not disappoint!

Vietnamese Grilled Pork Egg Rolls

Vietnamese Grilled Pork Egg Rolls

The pork egg rolls were my favorite of the evening. Served with Sriracha aioli, these little puppies were an incredible combination of salty, well-prepared pork wrapped in the crispiest fried wrapper I’ve ever encountered. Perfection.

Pork Belly & Clam Korean Pancake

Pork Belly & Clam Korean Pancake

I’m fairly certain this was Annie’s favorite dish of the night – a pancake filled with pork and clam, topped with scallions, little curly fried wonton strips, cucumber and a sweet ginger-chili sauce. In my opinion, the highlight of this dish was the sauce – I wasn’t in love with the rest of it, by my companions were enamored.

Seared Scallops

Seared Scallops

The seared scallops were nested on a spicy udon noodle salad dressed in wasabi yuzu vinaigrette and mixed with seaweed. This dish is completely in my wheelhouse, so I can’t put my finger on why it didn’t put me over the top. The scallops were prepared perfectly, but something was missing in the total package. The scallops were worth it though.

Bread pudding & creme brulee

Bread pudding & creme brulee

Our little adventure wouldn’t have been complete without a sample of two of the three desserts featured tonight. Clearly, we couldn’t even hold ourselves back to take a picture without digging in! Mike is the creme brulee guy, so that wasn’t event a question. This one was infused with lavender –  spectacular reviews from us and was compared to the magnificence of Lake Park Bistro’s version. The bread pudding was at my insistence. It had bacon in it. I kid you not. For me, this is the perfect combo: soft, saturated almost savory bread pudding with the essence of bacon, sitting in a pool of caramel, topped with sea salted ice cream. Pure Heaven.

All in all, I thought Odd Duck was an excellent experience. When we left, around 8:00, the crowd had thinned out and there were tables and bar seats available, which was nice. Our server, despite being busy all night was great about taking the time to give us quality recommendations and never seemed impatient. The atmosphere was beyond easy – laid back and comfortable, but stylish and unique. Small plates ranged from $6-$15, with most being in the $8-$10 range. Both glasses and bottles of wine were offered and the spirit collection was extensive.

I’d recommend Odd Duck for a night with friends or family dinner. There’s nothing romantic about it; it just feels easy and fun.

http://www.oddduckrestaurant.com/

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