Friday, August 31, 2007

Life at Burp

So, inspiring dinners have been pretty rare at our house lately. We've been tangled up in automobile dealings (see our latest scrape and subsequent fix on the News from Peef and Lo blog) and haven't really spent much time cooking.

However, we have been doing a bit of thinking about what BURP! might look like... if it actually existed.

In a conversation over sandwiches and salad the other evening, we decided that a "salad and sandwich night" would probably be a summer fixture at BURP! Even in the winter months, we could pilot a more warming "soup and sammie" night.

To give credit where credit is due, we've been fond of the "soup and sandwich" concept for quite a while. It all started with a sandwich book we ran across, written by Nancy Silverton. She talks about a successful sandwich night in that book... and it always seemed to really fit into the BURP! branding concept.

The BURP! concept has evolved pretty steadily over the years. It has gone from dirty, hippie coffee joint... to semi-upscale trendy spot... to down-home oasis... to its current incarnation -- something that embraces aspects of ALL of the above. Whenever we're cooking, we're considering whether or not the food we're making fits into the BURP! concept. Some days it does; some days it doesn't. What we share here are versions of our favorites that we think might do justice to the BURP! menu.

So, what IS BURP! these days?
Well -- BURP! is that spot where everyone loves to go to dinner. It's the place you go to feel comfortable when dining alone; but, it's also a spot where you can hang with a group of good friends. BURP! will never be the spot to "see and be seen"... because we're not really about appearances here. We just want everyone to feel at home.

So, come hungry. We're waiting on you. ;)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Fish Tacos

Peef and Lo's Favorite Fish Tacos

So, having been inspired by stories of San Diego fish tacos, and lured in by the lovely treats sampled at area Mexican restaurants, Peef and Lo decided that they'd experiment with their own (local) creation. The contrast between the cold, crunchy slaw and the perfectly cooked fish is a real winner. This particular version is now one of their favorite ways to eat fish.

2 filets of firm white fleshed fish (we like catfish, although these tacos were made with locally raised trout)
cajun seasoning (or a mix of salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, and thyme)
2 T virgin coconut oil

2 cups shredded red or green cabbage
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped finely
a splash of lime juice
1 tsp honey

tortillas (we usually use hand-made whole wheat tortillas)

guacamole (one of our favorites)
salsa (salsa verde is fantastic)
sour cream

Rinse fish and pat dry. Season well with cajun seasonings and allow to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes.

Mix mayonnaise with chipotles, lime juice, and honey. Toss with cabbage. Set aside.

Heat oil in cast iron (or other heavy weight) skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish filets, and turn heat down to medium. Cook 3-6 minutes per side, depending upon the thickness of the fish.

Heat tortillas to soften. Layer fish, slaw, guacamole, salsa and/or sour cream in each tortilla.
Take a deep breath -- and enjoy.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Our Summer Favorite: Bleu Cheese BLT's

Bleu Cheese BLT
makes one very local sammich

2 slices locally produced whole grain bread
2 T mayonnaise (we forgive you if this is not local, as it is a condiment)
1 tsp minced garlic (or less, or more)
3 T crumbled local artisanal bleu cheese
1 T finely chopped basil leaves (from the back yard)
2-3 tsp balsamic vinaigrette (made from balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and a spot of basil)
1/2 cup baby arugula leaves -- strewn carelessly about
3-4 slices heirloom tomato (also from the back yard)
3 pieces of thick-cut bacon (taken gently from a nearby pig and cooked until crisp)

Mix crumbled bleu cheese with mayonnaise, garlic, and basil. Set aside. Toss arugula with balsamic vinaigrette. Set aside next to the mayo mixture. Allow them to have a short conversation before rudely separating them.

Take your two slices of bread and slather them liberally with the delicious (if slighly upset) mayonnaise mixture. Lay your scrumptious slices of tomato atop the mayo... and your crisped bacon atop the tomato. Strew the arugula (a bit more carefully this time) over the bacon, trapping it underneath the second slice of bread.

If you are polite, you'll want to cut your sammich in half.
If you are Peef, you will bit into it and let it drip down your arms.


Restaurant Review: Maxie's

OK -- the Bad Bloggers are back.
And it's time for the "it's about time cuz you ate there almost a week ago" restaurant review.
If you have been wondering how Maxie's holds up to the palates at Burp! you can now rest easy.

We give it 2 out of 4 burps.

What does that mean?
Well, let's start with the appetizer: the heirloom tomato salad with goat cheese.
This dish held up relatively well, considering its relatively steep price tag. The tomatoes, perfectly ripe and juicy, and sliced to perfection, wreaked of summer. The fact that they were local heirlooms was an added bonus. They were splashed with a slightly tangy balsamic vinaigrette, which helped to bring out their sweetness, and accompanied with a pleasantly tangy (and "goaty") chevre. *slurp* The app earned at least 1/2 a burp all by itself.

Our entrees didn't quite live up to all of the hype.
The first thing we noted is that it took an unusually long period of time for them to compose our dinner plates. Peef ordered one of the specials -- the St. Louis style ribs, which (while tasty) were crisped to an almost charred blackness on one side. The ribs were almost redeemed by their accompanying sides -- crisped french fries, a lovely arugula salad with fresh sweet corn and a small bowl of delectable cajun baked beans (which packed quite a punch of flavor).

Lo's fried oyster po'boy fared a bit better. In fact, of all the dinners, the sandwich platter won our vote for best choice. The oysters, crisped to perfection, seemed a bit bland on their own. But, when paired with the zest of the cajun mayonnaise and a bit of crunch from a leaf or two of fresh lettuce, they made a fine sandwich. The "cajun fries" turned out to be nothing more than waffle fries embellished with a bit of cajun seasoning; but they were crisp and perfect when dunked in a bit of ketchup and chipotle tabasco sauce. What made the sandwich platter unique were the homemade refrigerator pickles -- which were a pleasant cross between a sweet pickle and something more tangy. These would have been great placed right ON the sandwich; but, they were equally lovely eaten right out of hand.

Our dinner companion (Lo's dad) ordered crab cakes, which were served with a generous portion of sweet potato fries ("different" -- but "like dessert for dinner" he declared) and a lovely mound of bleu cheese coleslaw (which didn't thrill his palate -- he doesn't like blue cheese--but which Lo thought was nicely balanced and a pleasant departure from the "usual" slaw). Again, the sides overshadowed the main dish (two over-crisped crab cakes) and left us all feeling as if seafood really were something better ordered on the East Coast, rather than in Milwaukee.

The factor that made us decide that the trip was ALL worthwhile turned out to be dessert. The three of us sampled TWO of the offerings -- the key lime pie and the bourbon peach tart -- both of which left us smacking our lips with delight. The key lime was "too tart" at the start, but the flavor mellowed out into limey bliss as it mixed with the pleasant crunch of the graham cracker crust. The peach tart tasted home-baked, with a slightly too-thick crust and a filling of fresh bourbon-soaked peaches, caramelized in a hot oven. The desserts were capped off with cups of genuinely fabulous coffee, which left us lingering at the table long after we declared ourselves "too full to move".

We'll give Maxie's another chance to earn another burp... maybe for dinner, but more likely for lunch when we can sample more of the sandwich menu. And we'll definitely be back for more dessert (and coffee).

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Coming Soon... A restaurant review!

We've been out on the town (at least once in the past week)!
And we have sampled the delectables at a new local restaurant.
Check out MAXIE'S (which, unbeknownst to us, turns out to be a "second generation restaurant concept", a chain?)

In their own words: "Maxie's Southern Comfort opened its doors on May 5th, 2007, serving Southern Inspired “from-scratch” cooking."

Between three of us, we managed to sample a number of items -- an heirloom tomato salad with goat cheese, St. Louis style ribs, a crabcake platter, and the fried oyster po'boy sandwich. We also tried their key lime pie and a slice of bourbon peach tart.

We'll be back with our review of the place when we get a spare moment!