Friday, April 30, 2010

Remember to Follow Me on Twitter!

If you're on Twitter, and you're not yet following me, you should. :) Find me at @OnMyTableBlog.

Fish Sandwiches with Slaw

We found a recipe in the most recent issue of Cooking Light in which we could use some fish we still had in the freezer from a trip to northern Wisconsin last fall.

The recipe calls for arctic char, but we used the small pieces of pan fish we had. It worked out well and everything was really tasty. Nate wasn't a huge fan of the tarragon in the recipe, but I didn't think it stood out all that much.

Here is the full recipe for Arctic Char Sandwiches with Lemon-Tarragon Slaw. I couldn't find regular cabbage slaw at Outpost, so we used a broccoli slaw, which I really liked. We had a heck of a time figuring out what to have on the side, so we had some chips and salsa and some cottage cheese. Kind of random, but it worked!

Indian Cooking Class

On Tuesday, Nate and I took an Indian cooking class. It was taught by the owners, a husband and wife team, of the Indian grocery store on North Ave. and held at a Knights of Columbus facility around 92nd and Greenfield.

It seems as though they teach three sets of classes during the months they teach. You can get a deal if you sign up for all three classes, but we elected to just take the last class, which featured South Indian recipes. The teachers said South Indian recipes feature lots of coconut and rice and tend to be spicier than food from the north.

The class was very informal and casual. It wasn't hands-on, as I had hoped, but I'm not sure how that would have worked in this format in the space, anyway.

The teachers first showed us how to make homemade yogurt, which I think we're going to try this weekend. It's really a pretty easy process, involving just milk and regular yogurt (needed for its culture). We didn't get to taste it, though, since it needs to rest in a warm place for 8 hours and then cool.

They made an easy, sweet drink for us called thandai. It's made with milk, sugar, almonds and spices like cardamon and fennel.

Next they made sambhar, or lentil soup with vegetables. It was made with split pigeon peas, veggies like bell pepper and onion, and tons of spices, including coconut powder, turmeric and a coriander/cumin mix. Almost everything they made was made with ghee, or clarified butter. They said you can make the recipes with oil, but they don't taste quite as good (of course!). This recipe, as well as another one, also included a tadka, a cooking technique in which whole spices are cooked in ghee.

Next, they made a coconut chutney to put on the soup and another food they made. The chutney also featured a tadka, and was made with shredded coconut, cilantro, green chili and ginger.

I think one of the most interesting things they made were idlis, or steamed rice dumplings. I think I've seen them on Indian buffets, but not sure I've ever tried one. They were really tasty, especially with the coconut chutney on top. Idlis are made from the fermented batter of ground rice and urid dal. It's quite the process to make them--the dal has to soak for about six hours and when it's combined with the cream of rice, it all has to sit in a warm oven for at least eight hours. Then you have to steam the rice dumplings in a special dumpling maker.

Lastly, they made a dessert, vermicelli payasam, or sweet noodles with milk. It was similar to kheer, which I've had before, but a little more soupy. It was made with lots of milk, cashews, golden raisins, saffron and, of course, vermicelli.

(Dessert is on the left, in the bowl, the soup is on the right with some coconut chutney on top, and, unfortunately, the idli is hiding underneath the soup and is also covered with chutney.)

Like the last cooking class I took, the portions were a little small, but at least we got to go back for seconds! Everything was really, really good. I have the recipes for everything, but all of them feature a lot of ingredients, so it would take me a long time to type them out. But, if anyone really wants a recipe, I'd be happy to share!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Making It Up As I Go

I rescued some cooked rice noodles my friend JoAnn was going to throw away after a get-together last week. I knew I'd use them somehow, especially because I had some spicy Thai peanut sauce to use up.

So Monday, I made a spicy, peanut-y, tofu Thai noodle dish for dinner. It turned out really well--the only bad thing was that using as much sauce as I did made it a little too salty for me. But all in all, it was really good.

I used:
-A block of fresh tofu from Outpost
-Sugar snap peas
-Yellow pepper
-Just a bit of shredded carrot
-Chopped roasted peanuts
-Spices and seasonings, including pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper
-Spicy Thai peanut sauce
-Cooked rice noodles.

For the tofu, I wrapped it in some paper towel and put some dishes on top so some water would come out. I heated a skillet with canola oil and some jalapeno grape seed oil. I cut it up the tofu in small pieces and pan fried the pieces until they were brown and a bit crispy. I put the tofu in a bowl.

In that same skillet, I heated some more oil and stir-fried the veggies and some spices.
After they were cooked enough, but still crispy, I added the tofu, noodles and sauce. The noodles were sticking together pretty well, so I used the kitchen shears to cut them up. I heated everything up, and that was all!

Cheese + Cupcakes = A Dream Come True

On Sunday, Nate and I and our friends Amanda and Jon went to our first-ever Iron Cupcake Milwaukee event at the Harley-Davidson Museum. I had heard about it from friends and read about it, but never had the chance to experience it until now.

Iron Cupcake Milwaukee (ICM) works like this: a bunch of bakers bake mini cupcakes using the "secret" (maybe "special" is a better word) ingredient and then come to the ICM event and showcase their creations. Average people off the street buy a ticket, which gets them 12 samples, and they go around the room and try whichever cupcakes look appealing. The judges, the people who buy tickets, then pick their favorites for taste and presentation. Those bakers win a gift certificate, possibly other prizes, and, of course, bragging rights.

The event was a lot of fun and really tasty, for the most part (there were a few odd ones that didn't taste all that great). My egg carton full of minicupcakes:
The "special" ingredient for this event was cheese. Nate and I were very strategic about our picks--we each chose 12 different ones and split them all (we tried 24 of the 27 available). Everyone's egg cartons:

My favorite for taste, which won for that category, was the first one I picked up: a honey cake with lavender topped with goat cheese frosting. YUM! The one I picked for presentation, the one that looked like a mini cheeseburger, didn't win. Still, I thought it was cute.

I honestly can't really remember what else I tried. There were so many and it was hard to always read the descriptions of what was in them. It was definitely a mad rush to get cupcakes. The event started at 3--by the time we got through the doors at about 3:10, some of the bakers were running out of cupcakes!

It was a fun event, and I recommend checking it out if you haven't been already. Check out the ICM blog for more information about ICM and about Sunday's event. In the first picture, you can kind of see Nate, Jon and me!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Greek Pizza

Nate and I had a hankerin' for pizza Saturday night, and we wanted to try something different than a typical pizza. We decided on one of our favorite ethnic foods, Greek.

We picked up some pre-made dough from Outpost, and here is what we put on top:

-A feta-kalamata olive cheese spread (also from Outpost)
-Sun-dried tomatoes
-Green pepper
-Red onion
-Cooked chicken, seasoned with garlic, pepper, rosemary and oregano

While we love cooking pizza on the grill (and this would have been very tasty on the grill), the weather was crappy so we baked it in the oven for about 15 minutes. It was really quite good and I would definitely make it again.

Mussels and Frites

For a long time now, Nate and I have been saying we want to order mussels with frites at the Cafe Hollander in Tosa. My first--and only, really--experience with mussels was at a restaurant in France when I was in high school. They were cooked in a very rich, delicious creamy sauce. So I was excited to have them again.

So Nate and I finally ordered them Friday night, after touring around the Village of Wauwatosa at the annual Art Walk (which was a lot of fun, by the way). We ordered two pounds of mussels with the classic cream sauce, which for $2 more came with frites. And we got a basil-aioli dipping sauce on the side. The mussels came with a bit of French bread.

Unfortunately, the meal wasn't quite as good as we both had hoped. For one, the frites were just slightly warm, not hot like you want a French fry to be, and a bit too soft. I realize it was late (we ate at probably about 9 p.m.), but still. At first, it didn't seem like there was any sauce on the mussels, but we later realized it was all just at the bottom of the pot, underneath everything. The sauce was OK, but it was pretty thin and didn't coat the mussels very well. I'd definitely order mussels again, but just not at Hollander.

And, of course, the darn picture won't flip, so you'll have to turn your head to see it. :)

Dinner at Juniper 61

Wauwatosa has some great local restaurants, and Juniper 61 is one of them. It's owned by the same people who own Lulu's in Bay View, which is exciting, because you can get the same, delicious Asian slaw and homemade potato chips with bleu cheese sauce at Juniper.

I had dinner there Wednesday night with two ladies I worked with. On Wednesdays, bottles of wine are $10 and dinner was delicious. And best yet, Jeanne and Janice graciously let me take photos of their meals.

For an appetizer, we ordered the tempura green beans, which I've gotten every time I've been to Juniper. They're quite good and the dipping sauce, although a bit salty, really works well.

I ordered the Cyprus chicken pita: marinated chicken on a pita with red onion, green olive tapenade and oven-dried tomatoes, with a side of feta-yogurt sauce. And of course I had to get both the Asian slaw and chips.

Jeanne got a burger on rye bread, which she said was really good.

Janice got a sandwich I thought about ordering: the Tuscan melt, with provolone, basil, tomatoes and red onions.

Outpost Sausages

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we recently became Outpost owners again. We're having fun trying a lot of Outpost-made products, including what we had for dinner Tuesday night--Hawaiian sausages. I'm not quite sure what makes them Hawaiian--no flavors really stood out from what I could tell, but they were delicious and perfect for the grill.
We paired the sausages with some oven-roasted fingerling potatoes (sooo good!) and a side salad.
There are a lot of other Outpost sausages that sound tasty that I'd like to try. There's a super hot (I think it's called "XXX" or something?) that I might work up the courage to try.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Crock Pot Brisket

A while ago, at the winter farmer's market held on the State Fair grounds, I purchased some grass-fed beef brisket I knew we would make someday. We finally busted it out on Sunday to prepare for Monday night's dinner.

I found this Slow-Cooker Beef Brisket with Beer recipe at, which we followed pretty closely, except:
-The meat we had was closer to 2 lbs. rather than the 3, here.
-Nate's not a fan of parsnips, so we used carrots.
-We used a can of Leine's Original as the light beer.

It was quite tasty. The onion and carrot sauce was really nice on top. We served it with some cornbread muffins we had in the freezer and side salads.
For the salads, we had some somewhat homemade salad dressing. We have some Penzeys Spices salad dressing dry mixes that we've been making. This time, we made the Italian Vinegar and Oil one. Yum!

Shrimp & Asparagus Stir-fry

We had some asparagus to use up, and I just happened to get a MyRecipes newsletter that included a bunch of recipes having to do with asparagus. One of them jumped out at me, so we made it for dinner Sunday night.

Here is the recipe for Shrimp and Asparagus Stir-fry on Noodle Pillows. What is a noodle pillow? It's just cooked noodles (we used angel hair pasta), mixed with sesame oil.
Then the noodles are formed into a shape that looks like a bird's nest and then baked in the oven for about 15 minutes so the edges get a little crispy. Yum!
We followed the recipe exactly, except that we added some yellow bell pepper we also had to use up.

I wouldn't change anything except to add a little spice next time--maybe even just some red pepper flakes. Oh, I would change one thing--use less noodles. Instead of making four pillows like the recipe calls for we made six and they were still pretty big.

As a side we had steamed broccoli mixed with sesame seed oil, toasted sesame seeds and melted butter.

Sunday Baking

My husband took it upon himself to bake some treats for himself (and for me, too) Sunday afternoon. Works for me!

We got a bread machine for a wedding present (almost four years ago ...) and, sadly, we don't use it as much as we should.

So we (really, Nate did all of the bread making) made cinnamon raisin bread to have for breakfast over the next week or so. (If you have a bread machine and want the recipe, let me know).

Nate eats a granola bar every day at work, and although the ones he eats are relatively healthy, he thought he'd try making them from scratch. We found this Alton Brown Granola Bar recipe that he used for the bars. We mostly followed the recipe exactly, except we also added some mini chocolate chips and flax seed and for the dried fruit, we used apples (how good are dried apples?!).

They turned out pretty good, but as we were talking today, we said next time we made them we'd add the wheat germ and flax seed later and not roast them with the oats (it ended up tasting a little burnt).

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Being Green

This post isn't exactly all about food, but it's sort of all related ...

I've been wanting to make a compost bin for a long time, and we finally bought the materials over the weekend to do so. I'm becoming more and more aware of being as green as I can be with small changes, and I figured this was one good way to do so.

We built (OK, really, Nate did most of the building, but I was there to help as much as possible) a cedar lattice compost bin following these instructions. It was pretty easy and relatively cheap (all together, about $30). It's in the back of our yard, and even though it's in plain site from the kitchen windows and the backyard patio, it at least looks nice!
We're keeping a small, sealed plastic bin underneath our sink so we can put debris in there as we're cooking and take it outside later. We haven't actually put anything in the compost yet, but I hope it becomes an easy habit to get into.

Also, we became Outpost owners again today. Nate bought me an ownership a few years ago as a Christmas present, which was great, but we didn't use it as much as I would have liked. Now that we're getting more and more into organic produce and other foods, grass-fed meats, I believe we'll go to Outpost more and more--I hope it becomes a weekly thing.
Much of this new desire to eat this way comes after seeing "Food, Inc." Here's my mini PSA: please watch it. It's amazing what produce growers, farmers and big corporations do with our food in this country, much of it very disturbing. It really makes you think twice. It's not easy to make big changes, but little changes go a long way.)

Weekend Eats

The weekends are always prime time for going out to dinner with family and friends. We try to do one night eating out and one night eating in on the weekends, but it doesn't always work out that way, and we go out to dinner more! This weekend was one of them. It was a lot of fun, so no complaints.

On Friday, we went to dinner at Reggie's, a bar/restaurant on Phantom Lake in Mukwonago, about 25 minutes from home. We went with the intention of having burgers and sandwiches, but everyone but my dad ended up getting some type of seafood dish. Nate had the special, which was a Cajun salmon and shrimp combo, my mom had the fried shrimp, my dad had a burger and I had the Cajun catfish (below).

The three seafood dishes came with great potato pancakes and a lazy Susan-type thing of coleslaw, rye bread and some kind of baked bean dish. It was really quite good. I thought my mom's was the best. The batter on the shrimp was really crunchy and fresh tasting.

Saturday night, we went with our friends Ann and Craig to the Chancery in Wauwatosa. My parents had given us a gift certificate for Christmas (thanks Mom and Dad!), so we finally cashed in on it--$50 for four people really went a long way, even with an appetizer and 22-ounce beers!

We, of course, started with the artichoke dip with warm bread. Other than the one I make, this is my favorite artichoke dip. I'll even admit that after we ran out of bread, I used a fork to eat the rest and licked the serving spoon. :)

For my meal, I ordered Teriyaki Chicken Pita minus the chicken. Instead of chicken, I got extra veggies, which included squash, broccoli, red pepper, carrots, pea pods, and it came with Monterey jack cheese. And a side of waffle fries and a bite of kringle, of course.

Finally, for breakfast this morning, I whipped out my cooking skills and made myself and Nate some veggie breakfast burritos, with eggs, cheese, peppers, salsa and tomatoes. (Yes, those are elephant butts you see on my coffee mug--it's a mug I got when I was working at Gloria Jean's in college. The front of the mug says "Our love," and the on the inside, says "is huge." Cute!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Cooking with Julia

Last Thursday, I took a cooking class with two girlfriends at the Milwaukee Public Market, one of my favorite spots in town.
It was a French cooking class that showcased three of Julia Child's French recipes. The chef instructor, Chef Pierre, used to own Elliot's Bistro, a French restaurant in Milwaukee that is no longer in existence. Helping him was "Julia Child," or a male comedian dressed up to look like her.
Even though it wasn't a hands-on class, it was a lot of fun and very tasty. We had front-row seats, so I could take a lot of pictures.
Chef Pierre worked backwards, meaning he started with making dessert so it could chill, then the entree so it could bake and finally made the appetizer. But for the purpose of keeping my pictures--and my head straight--I'll just write about it as we ate it.

For the appetizer, Chef Pierre made escargots, snails, two ways. One way was made the typical Normandy (where Pierre is from) way, with a rich cream sauce.
The other way was escargot de bourgogne, or snails of Burgundy, with lots of butter, shallot and parsley and the escargot was put in shell to eat. Yes, it doesn't sound like the most appetizing thing to eat, but both ways was very, very tasty. I could have eaten about 10 of them, but we only had two each.

For the main meal, the chef made beef bourguginon, a classic French dish. Here is more or less the recipe from which he worked. The dish was really wonderful. All the flavors really came together and the sauce was rich and thick. It's usually served with potatoes (or sometimes with pasta) which we didn't have, but the side of French bread worked nicely for sopping up the broth.
Lastly, Chef Pierre made chocolate mousse. It was very rich and creamy and quite tasty. I've never made mousse before, but he made it look so easy that I might have to try it soon.

All in all, the 2-hour class was a lot of fun. My only complaint was that we really didn't get a lot to eat. I'm not sure if most classes were like that or if it was because there were a lot of people in this class (about 45). But all in all, it was a lot of fun, and I can't wait to take another class there.

Cuban Food

As I've mentioned in previous posts, a group of girlfriends and I do ethnic dining once a month. We've covered a lot of Milwaukee-area restaurants in the two years or so we've been doing this, and sometimes we happen to go back to some of our favorites.

Last Wednesday, we went back to Cubanitas for great Cuban food. It was Leah's birthday, so we let the birthday girl decide. Cubanitas, as usual, didn't disappoint!
As we always do, we ordered the plantain chips and guacamole. This appetizer is reason enough to try Cubanitas.

For my dinner, I finally branched out and tried something new: the Pan con Lechon sandwich, a pork sandwich with raw onions on Cuban bread and a mojo sauce. I usually get the Cuban sandwich (without a pickle, though--can't stand pickles) because it's so great, but I'm happy I finally tried something new.

After dinner, we went a few doors down to Indulge, a wine bar with delicious chocolates. It was ladies night, so we each had a glass of ... something (I don't know my wines too well) and tried the Top Chef chocolate sampler.
Everything was pretty tasty, but some were better than others. One of our favorites was the cinnamon cayenne, which had a nice spice and a great cinnamon flavor. I also really liked the chipotle cherry and balsamic fig. I wasn't too keen on the shiitake mushroom or sweet basil.