Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Cream City Cheeseburger

When you hear the term “Cream City,” you think it’s a reference to dairy, right?
Well, would you believe me if I told you it was really a reference to bricks?

It just so happens that the red clay so prevalent along the western shore of Lake Michigan turns a creamy white color after it’s been fired. And since many of the buildings in Milwaukee are constructed of locally produced brick, it got to a point (beginning in the 1870’s) that visitors couldn’t help but notice that the buildings in the city were virtually all cream-colored. Hence the city became known as the "Cream City," and the bricks, in turn, became universally known as "Cream City bricks."

Now, this story might be neither here nor there were it not for a recently developed recipe that we named after our beloved “Cream City.”

Although the city of Milwaukee’s rich heritage has been influenced by many cultures and traditions it seems best known for its German ties. During the middle and late 19th century German immigrants fleeing the Revolution of 1848 discovered both inexpensive land and freedom on the banks of Lake Michigan. And their settlement created a culture that washed over the city and gained widespread influence, particularly with regard to its food.

Nowhere is this more evident than along Old World Third Street, a three-block historic landmark zone just north of downtown. The city’s past is brought to life in the detailed facades of the 19th-century European–style buildings lining this cobblestone street, home to Usinger’s Sausage, Mader’s Restaurant, Wisconsin Cheese Mart, The Spice House, and the Old German Beer Hall

This burger is a tribute to all that makes Milwaukee, the Cream City, famous.

It begins with a simple burger made from fresh Wisconsin-made bratwurst, removed from its casing, shaped into a patty, and grilled. The burger is topped with beer-braised onions and a liberal serving of delicious beer cheese sauce made with Springside beer cheddar and Lakefront Brewery’s Riverwest Stein lager.
 Even the pretzel roll on which it is served has a German ancestry, with the word “pretzel” being derived from the German word “bretzel.” Because the dough contains no shortening, eggs, or milk, pretzels traditionally kept well, and their saltiness made them a favorite accompaniment to alcoholic beverages like German beer. These days, the Pretzilla pretzel roll is made by Miller Baking Company, an 88-year-old Milwaukee-based business known for its traditional German rye bread.

For the full Cream City experience, enjoy this burger on a warm summer night washed down with a cold beer and followed by a scoop of delicious frozen custard.

The Cream City Cheeseburger

We're pleased to say that this recipe is being featured on Wisconsin Cheese Talk, along with a series of other delicious recipes.  Check it out!

References Related to "The Cream City"
Milwaukee Architecture, Dr. Steven Ryer
Seeing the Light: Lighthouses of the western Great Lakes
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

You're Not Too Old for Crispy Rice Bars with Browned Butter & Rosemary

Think you’re too old for “Rice Krispie” treats?

Allow me to chuckle for a moment at the sheer thought of that.  Being “too old”… it’s a concept I reject flat out.  I simply don’t buy it.  After all, there’s a real charm in forgetting how old you REALLY are and allowing yourself to remember what it was like before you knew how you were “supposed” to act.

You’ve got to admit there’s something magical about the act of eating an ooey gooey crispy chewy Rice Krispie Treat? Isn’t there?


I first saw the recipe for salted browned butter crispy treats on Smitten Kitchen.  But, it took me a very long time before I decided to make them.  Even when I did, I decided they needed a little bit of a kick in the pants.

Those of you who know me will remember that I am absolutely ENAMOURED of rosemary.  And during the summer months when I can get my grubby little hands on those fragrantly fresh stalks of the real thing, I’m a happy happy girl.  And, since I know the herb is good in SimpleSyrup, why not try it out in a dessert?

And so the browned butter rosemary crisped rice treats were born.

They’re really quite grown up.  But, as informal taste-tests in my neighborhood have revealed, they also go over really well with the kids.

So, make yourself a batch of deliciously buttery crisped rice treats. Relish the way they pull apart leaving ooey gooey strands marshmallowy goodness in their wake.  And enjoy them utterly.  After all, you’re never too old for a little bit of snap, crackle, pop…
And while we’re at it, here’s a nice list of some other things I hope you’re never “too old” to do:
  • Lick the batter bowl after making cookies/cake/frosting
  • Share butterfly kisses
  • Skip down the sidewalk
  • Call your mom
  • Close your eyes and make a wish
  • Say “When I Grow Up…” (and mean it)
As C.S. Lewis once said: “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cookbook Review: Pink Princess Party Cookbook

What do you remember about your childhood birthday parties?

I remember those funny paper party hats that never really stayed on your head properly.  And I recall (somewhat gratefully) that my mom would NEVER break down and get me the latest and greatest cartoon character plates and napkins that I always seemed to want.    

I also remember that one year I got a really cool tea set from Eric, the crazy little boy next door who always threw rotten apples at me over the fence.   Turns out he had a bit of a crush on me… but had a pretty backwards way of showing it.

But, I don’t recall my mom throwing me a party QUITE as cool as anything in the Pink Princess Party Cookbook by Barbara Beery.

Barbara threw her first pink princess party for her four-year-old daughter (now age 28).   There was pink lemonade, pink macaroni & cheese, and a gorgeous Pink Princess birthday cake, complete with a tiara on top.  Beery had always loved to cook.  She also happened to be trained as an elementary school teacher.  So, when the opportunity presented itself to combine her love for both teaching and cooking, she jumped right on board.

In 1990, Barbara started Kids Cook, a retail store and cafĂ© offering hands-on cooking experiences and  kid-friendly, innovative cooking supplies.   She also began writing a series of successfully cookbooks containing tips, tricks, and tools to successfully teach kids to cook.

Now, you might be wondering why I decided to focus on a children’s cookbook over here at Burp!  But, the truth is, we LOVE cooking with our nieces and nephews.   And when we saw Barbara’s latest book, The Pink Princess Party Cookbook, we couldn’t help being intrigued.

First of all, I can’t think of a little girl between the ages of three and seven right now who isn’t completely OBSESSED with princesses. Can you?   All you have to do is roll through the aisles of your local Target store to see the evidence of this latest trend.  

Beery’s book takes the princess theme on – full throttle.  It includes six party concepts, including menu items and activities for imaginative soirees like a Snowflake Princess Party, Garden Fairy Party, and Mermaid Princess Party.  Full color photographs and menu ideas for pairing the best snacks with imaginative crafts make the book appealing to both parent and child. Even better, the well-executed photos provide a treasure trove of variations on creative themes suggested in the book, and allow moms and children to envision the possible look and feel of their unique creations.

Although this cookbook is more about party food than healthy eating (in fact, my biggest criticism might be that the book relies fairly heavily on processed convenience food), it does create a nice segue for parents who want to find a way to engage in the cooking process with their children in a fun and non-threatening way.   Recipes like these Enchanted Sushi Roll-ups (recipe below) come together in a flash, and give little fingers the opportunity to really help out with the kitchen prep – which is the whole point, according to Beery.

“I’ve never met a child who didn’t want to try to create something.  All you have to do is provide opportunities with simple recipes, a few ingredients,” Beery remarks, “The most important thing is, MAKE THE TIME to do it.  Set aside an hour and a half … once a week, once a month .. to spend time with your child in the kitchen.”

My opinion in short?  This book makes creating the picture perfect princess party almost as easy as waving a magic wand.  *poof*

Enchanted Sushi Roll-ups
reprinted with permission
makes 24 sushi sandwiches

6 slices whole wheat bread, crusts removed
1/4 cup soft-spread cream cheese
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
salt and pepper
Twelve 6-inch-long carrot matchsticks
Twelve 6-inch-long peeled apple matchsticks
3 strawberries, minced

Place a sheet of parchment paper on the countertop. With a rolling pin, lightly roll each bread slice on the paper to flatten it.

Mix together the cream cheese, sour cream, mustard, honey, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread over each bread slice.

Lay 2 carrot matchsticks and 2 apple matchsticks across the bottom of each slice of bread, letting the fruit and veggies hang over the sides. Roll up the bread, pressing gently to seal.  With a serrated-edge knife, cut each roll into 4 equal pieces.

Garnish with the strawberries and serve. May be made ahead up to three hours in advance.

NOTE: All activities in the Pink Princess Party Cookbook are appropriate for children five years and above with some level of parental supervision.  Since quite a number of recipes use a stovetop, oven, and/or knives, supervision would be recommended even for children aged 8+.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wisconsin State Fair: Door County Cherry Chutney

I'm actually a little bit giddy as I write this.
This afternoon, we'll be doing a cooking demonstration at the Wisconsin State Fair on behalf of the Wisconsin Cherry Growers Association.  I've actually been wracking my brains for days over what to make, and I've finally decided upon the perfect recipe.


If you're not familiar with chutney, well, I'd encourage you to rush right out and make its acquaintance. Similar in consistency to a jelly, salsa, or relish, chutneys usually embody both sweet and sour flavors.  Originating in India, these condiments can range in flavor from very sweet to quite sour.  They can be mild or spicy, thin or chunky.  And they can be made with fruits, vegetables or both.

Chutneys can be served with meat, poultry, seafood, desserts, and cheeses. Or they can be eaten as a snack, simply served with flatbread or crackers -- which is how we love to eat ours.  One of our favorite snacks has always been a bit of spicy mango chutney spread atop a wedge of whole wheat pita bread.

But, despite my love for the mango, there is nary a more perfect condiment than a chutney made from Montmorency cherries, a light red "sour" cherry most often used for cherry pies, jams and preserves.  After all, the cherries are  fragrantly sweet, tart, plump, and intense in both flavor and color.  They also stay impressively moist and plump, even when dried.  Best of all, tart cherries are seriously good for you.  They contain numerous antioxidants, as well as anthocyanins and bioflavonoids which may help in the relief of pain due to arthritis and gout.

If you're interested in a bit of history, I can tell you that the first Montmorency cherry orchard was planted on the Door County peninsula in Wisconsin in 1858. At the peak of Wisconsin cherry production, right around 1959, Door County actually produced 95% of the tart cherry crop in the U.S..  which contributed to the area becoming known as Cherryland USA.  These days, Door County is still famous for its cherries.

We're in the midst of Door County Cherry season right now, which means this chutney is just perfect seasonal food.  And I'm getting excited to share this amazing recipe.

If you're in the area, please feel free to join us.  We'll be on stage at the Wisconsin Products Pavilion at 12-noon.  And we'd love to see a few smiling familiar faces.

Of course, for those of you who can't make it, we'd be happy to share our recipe!

Door County Cherry Chutney

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Want more? Read Lo's latest ruminations at DEVOUR Milwaukee, her Milwaukee Magazine blog.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Orecchiette with Mizuna Pesto

Do you ever notice that your cooking habits seem to run in streaks?  I know that ours do.  For the past couple of weeks, we seem to have gotten hooked on pasta dishes.  It probably has something to do with all the fresh greens we were finding at the market, since we've been on a bit of a pesto kick.

Purists we are not, since we seem prone to making pesto out of just about any available greens we have on hand.  We're constantly tossing in variables -- jalapeno peppers, roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes -- just to keep things interesting.  

This week, the object of our pesto-love was a Japanese green called mizuna.  Sometimes called Japanese mustard, mizuna has a mild, yet tangy flavor, and an almost other-worldly bright green color when chopped.  I normally like to put it in salads or use it as a sandwich topping. But, when Bryan from the Jen Ehr Family Farm booth at the market mentioned that he'd been making his mizuna into pesto, we decided to try our hand at it too.

Into the food processor went our bunch of mizuna (ends trimmed), 5 stalks of green garlic, and a liberal dose of olive oil.  We set the pasta on to boil while we were making the pesto, then tossed the pasta with the pesto and a bit of reserved pasta cooking water.
The best part of all?  Dinner was on the table in less than 20 minutes.

I chose a bag of those lovely, cup-shaped, whole wheat orecchiette pasta for this dish, envisioning that the shape of the pasta would help to scoop up all of that lovely pesto sauce -- and I was right about that. We also used whole toasted pine nuts (instead of grinding them into the pesto) to give the pasta some additional texture.
The pesto was absolutely delicious, if a bit more mild than I expected. And, as you can see, it was a beautifully intense green color (pretty is always a bonus with food). We had a bit of extra sauce leftover, and we used that as the base for a chicken pizza a few days later.

So, next time you get tired of eating mizuna in your salad, think about  making it into a quick summer pesto.

Classic Pesto (with variations)

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Want more? Read Lo's latest ruminations at DEVOUR Milwaukee, her Milwaukee Magazine blog.