Saturday, October 27, 2012

Our Trip to Widmer's Cheese Cellars

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If you've been reading our posts for any length of time, you probably know one thing, above all. We. Love. Cheese. As a result, we've taken it upon ourselves to learn as much as possible about all the great cheeses made right here in Wisconsin.

Being the dairy state, we can lay claim to quite a number of original cheeses. One of these is Brick cheese -- a cheese that is made in a brick-shaped form, and pressed under the weight of a brick to form a medium-soft, creamy cheese that is well suited to slicing for sandwiches, making grilled cheese, and using anywhere a great melting cheese is needed.  The color of the cheese ranges from pale yellow to white, and the age of the cheese makes a huge difference in its flavor -- with young cheese tasting sweet and mild, and older cheese taking on a strong, ripened flavor with a bit of sharpness on the end.

Widmer's Cheese Cellars in Theresa, WI is the only factory left making real Brick cheese, and we had the opportunity to take a tour of the plant a couple of weeks ago. We got some great shots of the cheese-making process that we thought we'd share with you.

Some facts about Widmer's Cheese Cellars and Brick Cheese:
  • Brick is an American original -- developed by John Jossi, a Swiss-born American cheese maker.
  • Brick cheese may sound ordinary, but its flavor is enhanced by the same pleasantly pungent bacterial action that contributes to the flavor of the classic French cheeses like Pont I’EvequeSt. NectaireReblochon and Livarot.
  • Joseph Widmer represents the third generation in his family to run the cheese plant.
  • Joe still uses the same bricks his grandfather bought back in 1922 to weigh down the curds in the cheese molds.
  • For more history, visit the Widmer's Cellars web site.
Full Disclosure: The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board covered all of our expenses related to the tour of Widmer's Cheese Cellars.  However, all opinions expressed in this post are our own.

©BURP! Where Food Happens

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sweet Potato Hash with Black Beans

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It's been a busy few weeks over here at Burp! And, for the most part, it hasn't been the usual sort of busy.

Peef underwent surgery on October 9th to remove a  benign tumor in his parotid/salivary gland. Although it was a delicate procedure (lots of facial nerves impacted) and long (5 hours!) surgery, I'm more than happy to report that things went well, and he's on his way to a full recovery.

He felt well enough last week after his stitches were removed that we were able to tag along on a series of tours with the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.  We chatted with  cheese makers from Widmer's Cheese Cellars and Crave Brothers Cheese.  And we took lots of photos!  We'll share some on the blog in the next few days.

Needless to say, we haven't been particularly inclined to go all out with our cooking lately.

Fortunately, when life gets a little crazy, we have a nice selection of one dish meals that never fail to save the day. They're generally quick and easy -- and if we're slick, we can squeeze our protein and vegetables in all at the same time.

Traditionally made from a coarse mixture of meat, potatoes and onions, hash is staple comfort food at its best. This vegetarian version makes the most of autumn flavors – butter-roasted sweet potatoes, black beans, onions and red peppers pulled together with a cacophony of Southwestern spices.

It's chock full of protein, fiber, and plenty of vitamins from the sweet potatoes and red peppers. And it's pretty versatile.

Top this hash with sour cream and salsa for a delicious vegetarian dinner. Serve it for breakfast with poached or fried eggs, or enjoy it as a light lunch with a side salad. Leftovers make a great filling for burritos or enchiladas.

Sweet potato hash with black beans

©BURP! Where Food Happens

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

For the Procrastinators: Taste of Home Halloween 2012

Pin It   So, who's ready for Halloween??   I'll be honest, I'm asking the question with a bit of trepidation, since I'm not sure that we are anywhere close to being prepared.

Much as I enjoy it, Halloween is one holiday that never fails to catch me off guard.

Every year, determined to prepare the best Halloween bash ever,I vow to start planning ahead. After all, I only need to... decorate the house, carve the jack-o-lanterns, send out invitations for a great big Halloween bash, and prepare all sorts of innovative tricks and treats.

And then, mid-October rolls around, and I realize that time has slipped away.The truth is, we never seem to get around to planning that over-the-top Halloween bash -- though we love taking inspiration from all the great ideas out there on the web and in print.

And I'm guessing there are a few more of you out there who feel a lot like we do.

Fortunately, we are confident that there's still time (even at this late date) to whip out a pretty awesome Halloween gathering, complete with ghoulish grub and boo-rific beverages.  And we can even offer up a bit of help.

It just so happens that Taste of Home magazine (which is based right here in Greendale, WI) sent me TWO copies of their 2012 Ultimate Halloween edition, a publication filled with brand new Halloween themed recipes, parties, decor, and crafts.  And I mean it when I say “full”.  There are over 140 pages of fun inspiration to get you into the spirit of the season and make this the best Halloween ever!

Best of all -- none of these ideas go bad, so you can even use them NEXT YEAR! 

The issue includes:
  • Fantastic party ideas - fun ideas to please adults and kids alike
  • Ghoulish Grub - Creepy food, spirited drinks and sweet treats fit for the season
  • Boo-rrific Beverages Festive drinks
  • Ghostly Getups - including easy costumes for youngsters, teens, adults, and even the family dog!
  • House Haunters - simple decor ideas, craft projects and more. 
This special edition of Taste of Home magazine sells for $9.99 on the news stands but you can win one here for free!  

You've got until midnight on Saturday, October 20th to head over to
our Facebook page, and leave a comment on our giveaway post, telling us what your favorite Halloween tradition is.

We'll send a copy of the magazine out post-haste to one, randomly selected reader!

©BURP! Where Food Happens

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Simple Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Pin It  It's been a while since we posted about all the canning we did over Labor Day weekend. In the meantime, we've had a couple of requests for the recipe for the roasted red pepper spread we made.

While I had no hesitation about sharing the recipe, I also wanted to offer up some really great ideas for how it might be used.  But, since this was our first go-round with the spread, I didn't really have any tried and true suggestions.

I felt pretty certain we'd use it as a spread for panini -- and that it would probably be tasty that way, especially when paired with a bit of soft goat cheese. And I had little doubt it would be equally as delicious mixed with cream cheese and used as a spread for crackers around the holidays.  But, I felt like we should be a bit more creative with it before we pushed the recipe out into the world.

And that's how this pasta sauce was born. We had some cream on hand, along with a bag of this amazing DiCuonzo Orecchiette Farina Arsa. Go to the web site and read about it. It's absolutely delicious, and it's the sort of pasta that requires very little help to really shine. The idea of a rich, slightly creamy red pepper sauce sounded as if it would make a pretty amazing match. I added a sauteed onion just for some additional texture, and a bit of garden fresh Italian parsley for a dash of flavor and a bit of color.

And voilĂ . There it was. Another pasta would have showcased the color of the sauce more effectively. But, I'm sure you can imagine what it must have looked like -- and maybe, even, how it tasted.  Rich, creamy, roasty, sweet... and completely simple.
This is one of those recipes that functions as the ultimate form of validation.  After spending hours canning, it's great to see the fruits of one's labor in the form of a dish like this, which literally takes minutes to pull together.

Utterly homemade pasta bliss.  In less than 30 minutes.
Take that, Rachel Ray.

Roasted Red Pepper Spread
Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

 ©BURP! Where Food Happens