Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Miracle of a New Year.

So, here we sit, in the last few days of a year that's been fraught with plenty of good -- but enough bad that I can't imagine wanting to hit "replay". And yet, I'm feeling very peaceful.

It's remarkable to think about the hope, the potential, and the joyful mystery of the new year.  I'm certainly not delusional, but I've always somehow believed in the hope that springs new upon the eve of the new year.  And, as I sit here contemplating what's to come -- I feel that hope.

Tomorrow we will wake up early. If we get up early enough, there will be coffee. And a bit of kranzkuchen. Steph will arrive and we'll drive off to gather our wares for another New Year's feast.  This year, we're exploring Asian cuisine.  We'll make up a bit of sushi, maybe some Chinese dumplings, a few eggrolls, some tempura, and whatever else we feel inspired to create. We'll cook all day, and nibble as we go. We'll laugh. Play games. Drink wine. And enjoy one another's company.  At midnight, we'll crack open a bottle of champagne and toast the new year.

And when it's all over, we'll drift off to sleep with smiling faces and full bellies. And we'll wake up to a blank slate. A new calendar. And the hope that, somehow, an exciting stretch of days just waiting to be shaped into something new, lay before us.

Although it's virtually impossible to simply place all of our burdens down at 11:59 p.m. on the eve of the new year, and wake up to an utterly clean slate on the first of the year, it's certainly a contemplation worth having. 

Our hopes and goals for 2010
Stress less, and pray more.
Love freely and deeply. 
Judge less, and be generous with our grace cards. 
Open up, and reach out. 
Stretch our boundaries.
Do more creating, and less tearing down. 
Eat well, and share meals often. 
Explore the boundaries of new cooking worlds. 
Focus on the immense possibility of possibility.

As you reflect on 2009 and step over the threshold of the new year, may only good await.
And may your 2010 hold nothing less than miracles.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Roast Beast and other random shots

So, how were the holidays at your place?
Our hope is that you were delighted by the company of your most cherished friends and family, satiated by platters of scrumptious food, and made all bright and cheery by a few glasses of great wine.

We certainly were!  Nope, I cannot tell a lie. Christmas dinner at our house this year was a positively delicious affair:

We started off by ordering a standing rib roast of beast from our local butcher...  Bunzel's Meat Market bequeathed us with ten delicious pounds of USDA prime first-cut beef.  We couldn't really argue with that, now, could we?

 Preparation of the roast beast began a couple of days ahead. We slashed the roast and slathered it liberally with a mixture of garlic (lots!), fresh thyme (3 T chopped), olive oil (2-3 T), and salt (2 T).

 We also threw together ten adorable hot buttered rum cheesecakes (and their accompanying rum caramel sauce -- which we should mention is positively To. Die. For.  I think that I could live on it!). 

Awesome, huh?

Yeah, well. It turns out we're not the best when it comes to taking pictures of our actual holiday feasts.  We get all excited about the preparations, snapping pictures every other minute... but once the festivities begin, we lose all sense of direction when it comes to recording the final product.  

We did manage to get a shot of the salad, which we served while the roast was resting in the kitchen... but everything else seems to have gotten lost in the "ooohs" and "aahhhs" and the mumblings of satisfaction as we consumed the roast beast and its swoon-worthy accompaniments.

I'm particularly sad that we didn't get a shot of that bacon porcini gravy and the uber cheesy spinach gratin... soooo good.

*sigh*  Maybe next year.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Burp!'s Holiday Sweet Kitchen (and no, it's not more ice cream!)

I couldn't tell you what it was, but this morning I suddenly got this eerie feeling that I needed to check my calendar.  Boy, was I shocked to see that Christmas is just over a week away!!  Where did the time go?

Fortunately, we have been doing more than simply resting on our laurels for the last few weeks.  Our Christmas shopping is done (yes, done!!), we've ordered our standing rib roast for Christmas day dinner, and we just finished wrapping our gifts.  Oh -- and we did manage to whip up a nice big batch of chocolate covered cordial cherries.

These delicious tidbits have become a holiday tradition at our house.  And we couldn't envision Christmas without them.  As of this year, we've been making them for twelve years running.

The cherries soaked in brandy for over a week this year, so these little gems are packing a bit of a punch.

And they're tasting particularly fantastic.  We've packed up most of them to give as holiday gifts. But, we'll set aside a few for eating as well... I might even manage to hoard a few long enough to enjoy them on New Year's Eve, if Peef doesn't find them first.

Of course, if you're not a fan of cherries, you could make another one of our favorites: Layered Peppermint Crunch Bark.  This stuff is hauntingly similar to the stuff you can buy at Williams Sonoma, without the hefty price tag.  A full recipe of this stuff would cost you about $50 at WS.  The ingredients to make your own will cost about $12.  Yeah, trust me. It's worth the effort.
I also have a pretty fantastic recipe for fudge bourbon balls.  You take barely-cooked brownies as its base. They're completely fudgey and wonderful.  Come to think of it, we haven't made them yet this year. But, just the thought of them is making me a little bit drooly.

So, it's back into the kitchen with me...

In the meantime, I just want to take the opportunity to wish each and every one of you a Very Merry Christmas!  I hope that your celebrations are filled with incredible joy, the company of your favorite people, and plenty of delicious food.  And if we don't talk before the new year, may your 2010 be blessed with all that was good in 2009, and then some!

Recipe:  Chocolate covered cordial cherries

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Autumn Ice Cream: Browned Butterscotch Pumpkin

Yeah, yeah, alright. So everyone else is blogging about Christmas cookies... so what? I'm here to prove that ice cream can be just as festive!

We've doing quite a bit of experimenting with ice cream flavors lately (hey, if David Lebovitz can spend his time doing it, so can we). And I'm here to reveal a recipe that makes it well worth your while to drag that ice cream machine out of storage again.

We've created the perfect seasonal pumpkin ice cream... many thanks to the wonder that is browned butter. You'll need just a few ordinary ingredients (pictured)...

... plus a few spices, about 5 eggs, and a little bit of patience.

First, you'll brown five tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan. You'll add brown sugar, a bit of salt, and about a cup of heavy cream to the mix.  You'll swoon.

Once you've regained some semblance of your composure, you'll whip together five egg yolks.  You'll stir the browned butter mixture into the egg yolks (slowly, and whipping them continuously with a whisk so as not to cook them), and then return the whole mixture to the stove to make a delicious browned butter custard.  Your entire kitchen will smell absolutely fantastic, and the next 5-10 minutes will fly past at breakneck speed.

At that point, the custard should be coating the back of a spatula or wooden spoon.  You can pour it through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl containing yet another cup of cold heavy cream.

It will look so pretty, you'll want to take a picture. So, you do. And then, you'll whisk it all together -- adding a cup of pumpkin puree and a bit of vanilla.
At this point, you'll place the ice cream base over an ice bath  and stir it until it's completely cool. Then, you'll pop it into the fridge until it's fully chilled (about 3-4 hours, or overnight).

If you're like me, you'll take the opportunity to whip together a delicious pecan pie with pecan shortbread crust...
When the ice cream base is cold, you can whip it up in your ice cream maker.  Be sure to add a tablespoon or so of Scotch to the icecream during the last few moments of churning. The flavor is divine.

Once the ice cream has churned, you can pop it back into the freezer for a while while your pie cools.

And then, when the pie is still ever-so-slightly warm, and the ice cream is perfectly frozen, you can serve them all up together on a nice little dessert plate.

You spoon up a nice little scoop of the melting ice cream. Mmm. Buttery and rich. Cool and creamy. Spicy and dreamy.  It's like the best pumpkin pie you've ever had in a cup. Or a bowl. Or next to that perfect slice of warm pie.

Your fork gravitates toward the pecan pie. The shortbread flakes under the weight of your fork, and then falls into a fantastic abyss of brown sugar custard.  You raise the fork to your lips and take a bite. It's toasty and buttery and nutty and perfect.

You take a forkful of the icecream and the pie together. The convergence of flavors is like the best of Thanksgiving and Christmas all at once.  OOOh...  Yum!

You don't even care about the extra layer of body fat that you've acquired in the last five minutes or so. After all, you'll need it for the long winter ahead.  And you can blame it on the holidays. *smirk*

Recipe:  Peef & Lo's Perfect Browned Butterscotch Pumpkin Ice Cream

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Make Ahead Bliss: Corn Bread Pudding with Cranberries, Sausage, and Leeks

Mention bread pudding, and most people think of dessert.  But, savory bread pudding is actually some seriously good stuff -- and it not only makes for a great side dish, but it can also serve as a main entree when served with a nice pile of veggies or a side salad.

A frugal way to use up that loaf of stale bread sitting on the counter, savory bread pudding is a great way to create a comforting main dish from things you just have "lying around."  Flavor combinations are just about endless, and if you play your cards right you can create a time-saving main course for just about any cool autumn evening. You can even assemble the bread pudding the day before you intend to bake it... a great idea for those busy nights before Christmas when every moment counts.

We've done savory puddings before, but this Thanksgiving we came up with a flavor combination that really seemed to bring out the best in local ingredients.  Fresh cranberries, bulk Italian sausage, and leeks come together with melted fontina cheese and fresh herbs to create a dish that's as great as a side dish or main-dish entree as it is as a breakfast food (and yes, I was even gobbling the leftovers from this dish cold right from the fridge). This variation uses corn bread as its base; but, the recipe would work with just about any type of bread (just adjust the moisture content accordingly).

First, you need to gather up your bread.  We added fresh chopped cranberries to our favorite corn bread recipe and used it as the base for our pudding. But, you can feel free to substitute your favorite cranberry walnut bread.  Or simply use your favorite regular corn bread recipe and throw in a handful of dried cranberries (or even currants) when you mix together the pudding.

Cube the bread, and toast it in a low oven for about a 1/2 hour to dry it out and prime it for absorbing all the delicious flavored custard.

Depending on how dry your corn bread is, you might be able to skip the step of toasting it in the oven.
While the bread is toasting, you can saute up about 1/2 lb of Italian sausage and 2 cups of leeks.  And don't be tempted to scrimp on the leeks. Two cups might seem like a bunch, but good fresh leeks will cook down considerably once they let off their liquid in the saute pan. Plus, you'll want plenty of that mild, sweet, leek-flavor; it really complements the corn bread and offsets the tartness of the cranberries in this recipe.

Stir together your cubed corn bread, sausage, leeks, and a nice handful of chopped fresh parsley and thyme.  If you're using regular corned bread for your recipe, this would be a good time to throw in that handful of dried cranberries if you didn't add them to your corn bread recipe.

Shred up a bit of fontina cheese, and beat together 5-6 eggs with about 3 cups of milk and/or cream.  Add the cheese and egg mixture to the bread and allow it to soak for 20-30 minutes, or until the bread seems to have taken up most of the liquid.  Then, pour it into a buttered 2 quart baking dish.
Bake the bread pudding for 50-60 minutes -- or until set and browned. 

Now just look at that and tell me that you don't just want to snarf it right up.
Be careful, though, and allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes before digging in... it's hot, and you might just burn your too-eager tongue.

Recipe:  Corn Bread Pudding with Cranberries, Sausage, and Leeks

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Surprising Side Dish: Brussels Sprouts with Apples & Juniper

For years, I took in the flavor of juniper berries primarily through my consumption of gin and tonics.  But, lately, the balance is shifting. And I've begun to look for new ways to use the flavor of juniper in my cooking.

At first I was afraid that anything I made with juniper would end up tasting of pine needles.  But, I've learned that that simply isn't so. While the juniper berry is a bit resinous in its flavor, it actually bears a pleasant tart-sweet flavor which pairs brilliantly with a number of other ingredients, including apples, bacon, duck, venison, and pork.

It's affinity for apples explains why this side dish, which we ate with our Thanksgiving dinner, was so fabulous.

First, you'll need a pound of fresh brussels sprouts -- cleaned and trimmed -- and one tart apple.

You'll also need a couple of teaspoons of juniper berries.  They're available through Penzey's Spices online, if you don't have a local source.
Core the apple and chop it into bite-sized pieces. Prepare the brussels sprouts by cutting a small "X" in the bottom end of each (this helps the brussels sprouts to cook evenly). And crush the juniper berries with a mortar and pestle, or by smashing with the side of a knife.

Place about 2/3 cup of apple juice in the bottom of a large skillet and bring the juice to a boil.  Add the brussels sprouts, apples, and juniper.  Season with salt & pepper.

Simmer gently, uncovered, for about 5 minutes or until the brussels sprouts are tender.

This is decidedly one of the most unusual side dishes we've ever tried; but, it's positively delicious. The apple flavor tames the cabbagey tendency of the brussels sprouts and the juniper berries lend a sweet, almost floral quality to the dish.

Definitely one to try the next time you're looking for a new way with brussels sprouts!

Recipe: Brussels Sprouts with Apple and Juniper

Random Factoid:

Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs gives some insight into the herb's long-standing reputation as a protective element:  "The plant's pungent aroma has long recommended it for driving away evil spirits and disease. Legend has it that juniper planted beside the front door will keep out witches; the only way for a witch to get past the plant was by correctly counting its needles."

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Giving Thanks: Our Tiny Feast

It's always nice to have a bit of time away during a holiday weekend... time off from work, from life, from the computer.  But, now we're back -- and it seems fitting that we reflect a bit on our feasting, however humble it might have been.

We were married the day after (American) Thanksgiving in 1998. As a result,  the holiday has become a relatively intimate affair. No huge family gatherings. No record-breaking turkeys. No controversy over whole cranberry sauce versus cranberry jelly. No battle between the white and dark meat folks. And no copious leftovers.

Instead, Thanksgiving day ends up being just the two of us chatting and sipping a bit of wine as we cook up a little feast.  Often, we do slightly more adventurous dishes -- rabbit ragu, turkey mole, roast duck.

This year, we decided to create a variation on the usual Thanksgiving theme.  First, it was our goal to be as local as possible -- so we started off by visiting the Milwaukee Winter Market for our ingredients. We procured a delicious little pheasant from the GBM Elk Farm, a pound of fresh brussels sprouts from Jen Ehr Family Farm, and some delicious Wisconsin cranberries, fresh Italian sausage, and  from Outpost Natural Foods.  I grabbed a few leeks out of our backyard garden, took the stone ground corn meal from Great River Organic Milling out of the fridge.

We put together a delicious savory bread pudding with homemade corn bread, cranberries, Italian sausage,  fontina, and leeks.  By far one of the best recipes I've come up with in a long time -- this bread pudding/dressing was even better as a leftover and simply perfect reheated and eaten for breakfast over the holiday weekend!

We brined our pheasant, and then roasted it with a few strips of Beeler's bacon on top, resulting in a very tender, flavorful bird.  My one complaint about the dish is that the brine effectively masked a good percentage of the pheasant's natural flavor, so I'm not sure I'd use it again on a pheasant.  But, I'm definitely interested in using the recipe on my next turkey.

Recipe: Wisconsin Brine

And we braised our brussels sprouts with apples in a bit of apple juice seasoned with crushed juniper berries. This turned out to be one of the most interesting dishes of the day. We were definitely surprised by the flavor the juniper berries brought to the dish (more sweet and peppery than piney) -- and we'll be sharing the recipe with you soon, since it's definitely a dish to experience.

Definitely an awesome local feast!

Sometimes I miss all the excitement associated with a big family holiday. But, I'm also grateful for the simple opportunity to reconnect with Peef and reflect on the wonderful life we've built together.

I hope each and every one of you had a fantastic Thanksgiving (for those of you in the states who were celebrating) and/or weekend!  Rest assured, one of the things we've been thankful for over the past year is your friendship, readership, and great advice.  Blogging has changed the way we live, cook, and eat. And it's all because of you!
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Friday, November 20, 2009

Worth the Journey: Italian Sausage Risotto with Brown Rice

It's all true, those rumors that you've heard. I really am one of those people who will try anything once -- I figure that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. So, why not?

I'm particularly adventurous when it comes to food.  
Differently colored vegetables? I'm in.
Strange seafood I've never heard of? ALL over it.
Funny smelling cheese?  Oh, yeah. Gotta get me some of that.

Needless to say, when the opportunity arises to make something healthier, I generally find myself unable to resist. This time around, it started with a bit of ordinary brown short-grain rice.   

Outpost Natural Foods had it on sale in one of their bulk bins, and I found myself thinking (always a very dangerous proposition).  If you can make risotto with white arborio rice, which is short-grain, why couldn't you make risotto with brown short-grain rice? So, I decided to give a try.

I pulled out a bag filled with the Principe Borghese tomatoes that we'd dehydrated last summer, and pondered the possibilities.  It seemed as if I could make the most of their intense tomato flavor by rehydrating them in the stock I was using for the risotto.  So, that's exactly what I did. 

While the stock was warming, I got all of the other ingredients together -- market fresh locally grown rainbow Swiss chard (along with their gorgeous stems), locally made Italian sausages, and some diced sweet onion.

I sauteed the onion with the chard stems in a bit of olive oil until they began to show signs of tenderness. I added the sausage, which I'd removed from its casing, and gave it a bit of time to brown just a bit around the edges. My sausage was relatively lean, so it didn't leave off too much fat.  What it did render, I left in the pan for flavor. I added the rice and gave it a whirl in the pan to coat the grains with the oil; and, after they toasted a bit I added a splash of dry white wine to give everything a bit of additional flavor.  When the wine was fully absorbed into the grains of rice, I started adding the stock cup-by-cup.

Those of you who have made risotto before know that this process doesn't take long at all, and it's by no means arduous.  You simply stir the rice faithfully until the grains absorb the liquid, and then add additional liquid.  The entire process might take 20 minutes -- and, to be honest, I've really grown to love it.  For me, risotto is real cooking. It takes practice to tell when the rice has absorbed enough liquid that you can add the next dose.  It takes rhythm to stir the grains, turning them onto themselves so that they absorb the liquid evenly and efficiently.  It's repetitive. Relaxing. A meditation of sorts.

Well, I'm here to tell you that it takes quite a bit longer when you use brown rice.

Before you write me off as a completely ignorant dork, I need to tell you that I definitely expected to have to add a bit of time to the process. After all, brown rice simply takes longer to cook than white rice.  But, I didn't expect it to take... an hour and fifteen minutes.

uh-huh. So much for all that talk about meditation. I stirred. I added stock. I waited. I watched. And I felt a little bit like I was watching the pot that was never GOING to boil, simply because it was being watched. I even walked away for a while and just let the risotto simmer away for a while. Just as I was about to give up hope and declare my project a failure, the rice actually submitted to my charms and began to achieve the nice creamy consistency that you expect in a good risotto. I will admit to feeling a bit victorious.

I stirred in the rehydrated tomatoes, along with a liberal handful of freshly chopped basil.  I also added about a cup of grated pecorino romano cheese.

Even after the long wait, it was difficult to be disappointed with the risotto. Even the mere smell of it as I scooped it into serving bowls was simply intoxicating.  The fresh peppery smell of the basil slipped out of the pan first -- followed by the distinct briney odor of the romano cheese.  Even the deliciously sweet smell of the fennel from the Italian sausage was evident in the steam that wafted up from the bowl.

In taking my first bite, I noticed that the rice still put forth a bit of resistance against my teeth -- just the sort of resistance you want with an al dente risotto.  Even better yet, the brown rice imparted that slightly nutty flavor that only a whole grain can give.  I was really loving what I tasted.  It was more than just healthy -- it was exactly right.

And I smiled.  Sometimes dinner isn't about the journey. It's about the destination.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ward's House of Prime: How would you like YOUR steakhouse?

Sometimes food blogging has its perks.  One of the benefits is being given the opportunity to check out some of the new restaurants on the block.  And that makes for some pretty delicious field trips.

This weekend, we had the pleasure of attending the soft opening for a new Milwaukee steakhouse. And, despite the fact that we're not your typical meat and potatoes folks, we were pretty curious about Ward's House of Prime.

The question at the tip of our tongues all evening was: "Does Milwaukee really need another steakhouse?" After all, Ward's is located on the corner of Mason and Jackson Streets in Downtown Milwaukee (in the spot formerly inhabited by Yanni's) -- just blocks away from the Zagat-rated Carnevore Steakhouse Moderne, Mason Street Grill, and not far from the Milwaukee location of Mo's... A Place for Steaks.

But, Ward's is making some pretty hefty claims -- high-end entrees at reasonable prices,  an "upscale yet relaxed atmosphere," and an extensive 500-bottle wine list that promises to be one of the best deals in the city.  So, we were eager to give them a chance.

We arrived early, figuring we'd beat the crowds; but, we found quite a number of curious onlookers had already arrived to check out the scene. Attentive wait staff were just beginning to offer bite-sized portions of menu staples. The bar was open and the house wine was flowing.

The Menu
Ward's menu includes standard steakhouse favorites, including prime rib, filet mignon, New York strip, and rib-eye, as well as a nice selection of seafood and chicken dishes. We were most disappointed with the menu's lack of regard for the vegetarians among us. Certainly, the emphasis here is steak. However, there is an increasing demand for vegetarian entrees in Milwaukee -- particularly at upscale restaurants which seek to "wine and dine" Milwaukee tourists and corporate travelers. The one vegetarian entree on the current menu is fair, but none-too-inventive -- butternut squash ravioli in boursin cream. Other veggie options could include stone-fired flatbread pizza or salad, and a fair selection of vegetable add-ons (including seasonal brussels sprouts, asparagus, the prerequisite creamed spinach, and green beans almondine); but, it's always a shame when the vegetarians in the crowd have to settle for the side dishes. Deal breaker? Probably not.  But, we'll be interested to see if Ward's can expand their menu to be a bit more inclusive.

In today's economic times, starting a business can be risky; but, Ward's appears to be saddling up for the challenge. One of the distinguishing aspects of Ward's menu is its "all inclusive" nature; entrees are served with a choice of soup or salad, and potato. While many downtown steakhouses feature pricey entrees with a la carte side dishes, Ward's provides the whole shebang at a price that won't break your pocket book.

Ward's also plans to offer a bar-only menu that will feature more casual food.
"I don't want this to be known as just a 'special occasion' restaurant," says owner, Brian Ward, "I want this to be an everyday sortofa  place.  Casual, but upscale."

How the menu looks is all well and good, you say, but how does it TASTE?
Well, we did have the opportunity to give a number of the major offerings a try -- and we found that Ward's food lived up to the hype. 

We sampled:
  1. Smoked beef carpaccio -- tender, smoked beef on crisp crostini with just a hint of briney goodness from the black olive tapenade.
  2. Chicken brochettes -- grilled chicken, pineapple, green pepper, and onion with a sweet hoisin glaze.
  3. Succulent shrimp cocktail -- nothing too exciting about this basic appetizer; but the shrimp was fresh and tender, and the cocktail sauce more along the lines of a petitely diced salsa than a sweet puree.
  4. Vegetable flatbread -- al dente zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes and a caramelized glaze topped this crisp pizza appetizer.
  5. Caprese salad smartly featured bright cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and sweet basil with a pleasant olive-oil vinaigrette.
  6. Mushroom risotto -- delicious al dente rice with earthy mushroom flavor.
  7. Prime rib -- succulent, well-seasoned beef. Tender and perfectly cooked.  Definitely worthy of the Ward's name.
  8. Bacon-wrapped water chestnuts -- the classic appetizer. Flavorful smoky bacon wrapped around crisp water chestnuts. Peef was in heaven.
  9. The Prime rib chili was probably the most disappointing dish we sampled -- a bit too sweet for our taste, with few seasonings to note.  Unique concept -- but definitely not the best use for an otherwise delicious prime rib.
The Guys Behind the Steak

Brian Ward, Owner,  began his restaurant career as a busboy at Open Hearth Restaurant in Milwaukee.  After training in MATC’s culinary program, he served as Head Chef at Smith Brothers Fish Shanty in Port Washington, General Manager of Highland House in Mequon, and most recently, General Manager of Mo’s – A Place for Steaks. 

Bill Baumann, Executive Chef, is a self-taught chef who began his career at Milwaukee’s landmark German-American restaurant, Karl Ratzsch’s. After leaving Ratzsch’s, Bill honed his craft as Sous Chef for Ristorante Bartolotta. In 2000, he became the Executive Chef of Mo’s – A Place for Steaks, where his culinary skills helped the steakhouse become a Milwaukee favorite. It was a few years into his tenure at Mo’s that Baumann began working with then-General Manager Brian Ward.

The Verdict

Ward's House of Prime officially opened its doors to the public yesterday (Monday, November 16th). 

While it isn't the most original restaurant to come out of downtown Milwaukee, it appears that Brian has a good gauge of his prospective audience. Milwaukee is a fairly traditional town, which means that uber-trendy establishments usually get the boot after a year or two (at best).  Ward's brings a modern twist to the traditional steakhouse with affordable "full plate" entrees, an impressive (but not daunting) wine list, and a downtown neighborhood feel.

Our kinda place? Probably not. But, it's exactly the sort of spot we'd probably take our parents the next time they're in town.

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