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Edible Antics

Touring Wisconsin Food

Tag: comfort food

Cook With Kids On Ground Hog Day: Make Edible Ground Hogs Rise From Shepherds Pie

Welcome back to Ground Hog Day! Bill Murry’s movie, Ground Hog Day, prompts this family to celebrate the holiday as “Do-over Day”! On Ground Hog Day I take a favorite recipe and do it again. Shepherds pie is this year’s repeat dinner. It’s a kid favorite, – last night my children ate 2nd and 3rd helpings of this mashed potatoes over ground beef and vegetable comfort food. So that counts as do-overs for them and comfort for me.  

Holidays provide marvelous opportunity to play with food. And the whole silliness of Ground Hog Day cannot be missed! Time to cook with kids! I envisioned our edible ground hogs on top of the shepherds pie looking like they had just risen from their snow-covered burrows to assess the state of winter. My 10-year-old is always game to play with food, but together we met our match in carving potato ground hogs. We had lots of do-overs. Now potatoes might look like they can be easily carved into ground hogs, – russet potatoes are the right color, they’re firm and generally oval-shaped. But such is not the case. Click on “continue reading…” for more of the story.

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Grandma’s Swedish Meatballs: Wisconsin Winter Comfort Food And Party Food

I always like those little meatballs in gravy on buffet tables. I think they’re called Swedish meatballs, but I’ve seen them in Chinese restaurants so perhaps they’re a global, mystery meat. There must be lots of different recipes for them because they don’t all taste the same. Some buffet meatballs are definitely superior to others. Maybe it’s the gravy I like so much, -it’s warm, slightly thick, and tasty. Of course it’s fattening, – it’s comfort food. But that’s okay, it’s January in Wisconsin. We need comfort food, and little round meatballs in brown gravy fit the bill.

And since February is just around the corner, I decided I’d try to make my own buffet-table meatballs for the super-bowl party I might have. So I turned to my cookbook, Grandma’s Home Kitchen: Where lessons and life were mixed with love, because the great-grandma of that cookbook came from Sweden. And her grand-daughter, Wanda Peterson Mango who wrote the cookbook, is mostly Swedish too. And their whole family is mostly Swedish, except for Wanda’s maternal grandmother who was German. But together all these daughters, mothers and grandmothers ran Grandma’s Swedish Bakery in Door County, WI while nearly 20 of Wanda’s nieces and nephews ran underfoot. So if anybody would know how to make Swedish meatballs, I was sure it would be the Peterson family. Keep reading for Grandma’s recipe and more of the story.

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Wisconsin Recipes

Looking to cook some Wisconsin Recipes? Here are links to delicious recipes using ingredients made in Wisconsin. From the traditional to the goofy- it’s all Wisconsin food all the time!

Recipes by Wisconsin Ingredient

Beer

It’s no secret we love beer in Wisconsin. Not only do we drink beer, but we cook with beer too.

 

 

Brats

 Everyone knows Wisconsin has the best wursts! Try some of these easy and delicious bratwrust recipes for dinner tonight. 

 

 

Cheese

If you’ve ever been to America’s Dairyland, you know Wisconsin has the best cheese selection around.  From fried cheese curds to grilled cheese, I love to use Wisconsin cheese in fun and creative ways.

 Maple Syrup 

Wisconsin is one of the biggest maple syrup producers in the United States.

Cranberries

From salad to cookies, I am always on the look out for new ways to use healthy and delicious cranberries. 

 

Traditional Wisconsin Recipes

Some yummy recipes with a Wisconsin twist.

 

 

 

Other Wisconsin Made Ingredients 

You may not think of bacon or popcorn when you think of Wisconsin, but both are produced here.  This is the section for recipes with the less recognized Wisconsin ingredients.

 Recipes from Wisconsin Cookbooks

I am lucky enough to have access to all of the cookbooks from Wisconsinmade.com – here are some recipes from Wisconsin cookbooks.

 

 

Sauerbraten: This German Pot Roast is a Recipe for Wisconsin Comfort Food Fit for Company Dinners

 Sauerbraten – German Pot Roast

Three days before serving, have the butcher cut 3 1/4 pounds of round steak 1 1/2 inches thick. Place the round steak in a shallow enamel or glass dish. Combine:

  • sauerbraten-11 Tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 4 cups cold water

Pour these over the meat. Cover and refrigerate for three days. (After 1 1/2 days turn the meat over to expose all of it to the marinade.)

About 3 1/2 hours before serving:

  1. Remove steak from marinade, and dry with paper towel. Reserve marinade.
  2. In a large Dutch oven (big pot with lid), heat 3 Tablespoons olive oil. Add the meat and brown it well on both sides then remove.
  3. To the drippings in the Dutch oven, add
    • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  4. Brown the flour and sugar in the drippings, scraping the bottom of the pot well.
  5. Stir in the reserved marinade, and bring to a boil while stirring.
  6. Add the steak and simmer, covered, over a low heat for 3 hours or until fork-tender.

Ten minutes before serving, remove the steak to a platter. Carefully remove the surface fat from the cooked marinade. Stir in 10 crushed ginger snap cookies. Simmer the gravy until the cookies are dissolved – about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile cut the meat into 1/2″ thick slices and arrange on a serving dish.

Pour part of the gravy over the meat, and serve the rest in a gravy boat.

Serves 4 – 5.

Sauerbraten is especially good with potato pancakes, mashed potates, parsley potates, noodles, or dumplings. I always accompany it with cooked red cabbage.

“Kiss the cook – she’s German!” says a magnet on my mom’s refrigerator. Thirty-five years ago her German father gave her a recipe for sauerbraten (German pot roast)used by the once-famous German restaurant, Luchow’s, in New York City. Now, I know Wisconsin is over-run with sauerbraten recipes, -but this one is REALLY GOOD! Unlike typical American pot roast that dries up into strings of beef in the oven, this sauerbraten simmers in a marinade for three hours on the stove. It is tender and juicy and served with a comforting, light brown gravy that balances sweet with sour, and carrot, onion and ginger flavors. Plus, – It’s EASY to cook! I’m posting the recipe on the side page, Comfort Foods – Wisconsin Style.

I don’t make this sauerbraten as often as I should for two reasons. One, despite its soothing goodness, it is only craved when temperatures are below 50 degrees, – not really a problem in Wisconsin. But second, the beef must be specially cut by the butcher and then marinate in the refrigerator for three days. Thus, this sauerbraten cannot be served on a whim. True to its heritage, it exacts planning from the organized cook. (And now I’ve lost most of my readers.) But still – it IS easy to fix!

I especially like to serve sauerbraten when company’s coming for dinner. Most people have never tasted sauerbraten this delicious, so it is a new treat for them. But, more importantly for a company dinner, the sauerbraten doesn’t require attention when the guests arrive, and it can hang out on the stove until everybody feels like eating. In other words, this sauerbraten is laid-back and flexible, like the cook would like to be.

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Comfort Foods – Wisconsin Style

We all look for comfort sometimes, and often we find it in special foods.  Here are recipes for some of Wisconsin’s favorite comfort foods:

 

Henry Sinkus, author of The Northwoods Table, has a recipe for Applesauce Carrot Cake.  He writes, “The combined vegetable and fruit flavors team-up in this rich and moist cake.  The best comfort food treat west of The Pemigewasset Wilderness.”comfort-foods-image-1

 

Applesauce Carrot Cake

  • 1 cup butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups shredded carrots (1/2 pound)

Frosting:

  • 3 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 pound confectioner’s sugar

Beat together eggs, brown sugar, butter, and vanilla. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Add to egg mixture.  Fold in applesauce, walnuts, and carrots.  Pour into ungreased bundt pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

 

Combine the ingredients for the frosting.  Add heavy cream as needed to bring to the consistency of a glaze.

 

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Noodles, beer, and beef spell comfort.  Another former Madison restaurant, The Ovens of Brittany, combined all three. Here’s the recipe from Terese Allen’s, The Ovens of Brittany Cookbook.  She introduces her recipe for Belgian Beef Carbonnade by writing:

 

‘Get ready for the heady aroma which will fill the room as you prepare this hearty peasant stew that partners beef, beer and onions.  An initial searing of the meat in hot oil or bacon fat and a long, slow simmering process ensures achingly-tender meat.  Dark beer and carmelized onions provide robust color and richness, while just a little brown sugar and vinegar produce a sweet-and-sour accent.  Buttered noodles tossed with poppy seeds will help soak up every drop of this deeply delicious Belgian Beef Carbonnade.  With brussels sprouts and plenty of cold, dark beer, it’s the perfect antidote to winter’s bluster.’

 

comfort-foods-image-2 Belgian Beef Carbonnade

  • 3 pounds beef stew meat, cubed
  • 4-6 Tablespoons vegetable oil or bacon fat
  • 6 cups thickly sliced onions
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup beef or chicken stock
  • 1 bottle (12 ounces) dark beer
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt and additional pepper

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Heat a little oil or bacon fat until very hot in heavy frying pan.  Brown beef in batches over high heat, taking care not to crowd the pan and removing browned pieces to a Dutch oven or other heavy, lidded casserole dish.  Add more oil as you cook if required.

 

When all the meat is browned, reduce heat to moderate, and add a little more oil if necessary.  Add onions; cook about 15 minutes, stirring often, until onions are golden brown and tender.  Stir in garlic; cook 2-3 minutes longer, then add onion/garlic mixture to pot with beef.

 

Pour stock into frying pan, bring to boil and scrape up any bits stuck to bottom of pan. Pour this, along with the beer, pepper, sugar, parsley, thyme and bay leaves over the beef/onion mixture. Stir and bring to a boil on top of the stove. Turn off heat, cover pot tightly and bake in oven until meat is very tender, 1-2 hours.

 

Remove casserole from oven and skim fat from the surface. Return to simmer on top of stove. Combine cornstarch and vinegar; stir into simmering stew to thicken. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Can be served immediately, but tastes best the second day.

 

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comfort-foods-image-3Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

 

This recipe comes from The Cancer Survival Cookbook

  • 10 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 3 Tablespoons butter or margarine, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 8 ounces fat-free processed American cheese
  • 1 teaspoon grated onion (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard or paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 Tablespoon finely minced fresh parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large casserole dish. Cook macaroni in a large pot of water until barely tender. Drain. Set aside. In a heavy saucepan melt 2 Tablespoons butter. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for at least 5 minutes. Add milk; bring to a boil and cook until mixture thickens. Stir in the shredded cheese gradually. Add onion and seasonings to taste. Mix with the cooked macaroni. Spoon into the casserole dish. For topping, combine bread crumbs with 1 Tablespoon melted butter. Sprinkle bread crumbs, parsley, and Parmesan cheese on top of macaroni. Bake for 20 minutes.

 

Try this recipe with half cheddar and half Swiss cheese too!

 

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Quivey’s Grove is a popular restaurant located in a 19th century, converted barn outside of Madison, WI.  In her book, The Quivey’s Grove Heritage Cookbook, Margaret Guthrie writes:

 

‘Mashed potatoes are a major comfort food for pretty nearly everyone.  Memories of them accompanying grandmother’s southern fried chicken, or a superlative meat loaf, or a roast of some kind are ones many of us carry with us.  Quivey’s has taken that memory and added a little kick.  It makes us feel more grown-up when eating them.  But these mashed potatoes still have the power to comfort and soothe.’

 

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • 3 pounds potatoes, peeled
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour half-and-half
  • 4 ounces butter, softened
  • 3 green onions, trimmed and chopped
  • Salt and white pepper to taste

Boil potatoes until very tender.  Combine garlic, cheese, sour cream, butter, and green onions in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until combined.  Drain the potatoes and put in a large bowl.  Add the processed mixture and cream the potatoes, using an electric mixer or by hand, until the potatoes are smooth.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.  Serves 4-6.

 

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Sauerbraten – German Pot Roast

 

Three days before serving, have the butcher cut 3 1/4 pounds of round steak 1 1/2 inches thick. Place the round steak in a shallow enamel or glass dish. Combine:

  • comfort-foods-image-41 Tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 4 cups cold water

Pour these over the meat. Cover and refrigerate for three days. (After 1 1/2 days turn the meat over to expose all of it to the marinade.)

 

About 3 1/2 hours before serving:

  1. Remove steak from marinade, and dry with paper towel. Reserve marinade.
  2. In a large Dutch oven (big pot with lid), heat 3 Tablespoons olive oil. Add the meat and brown it well on both sides then remove.
  3. To the drippings in the Dutch oven, add
    • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  4. Brown the flour and sugar in the drippings, scraping the bottom of the pot well.
  5. Stir in the reserved marinade, and bring to a boil while stirring.
  6. Add the steak and simmer, covered, over a low heat for 3 hours or until fork-tender.

Ten minutes before serving, remove the steak to a platter. Carefully remove the surface fat from the cooked marinade. Stir in 10 crushed ginger snap cookies. Simmer the gravy until the cookies are dissolved – about 10 minutes.

 

Meanwhile cut the meat into 1/2″ thick slices and arrange on a serving dish.

 

Pour part of the gravy over the meat, and serve the rest in a gravy boat.

 

Serves 4 – 5.

 

Sauerbraten is especially good with potato pancakes, mashed potates, parsley potates, noodles, or dumplings. I always accompany it with cooked red cabbage.

Comfort foods for Green Bay Packers fans in a post-season, cold, Wisconsin winter

So the Packers lost the NFC championship last night.  The temperature is still below 0.  And it’s snowing.  This morning’s mood at the bus stop was mopey -disagreements voiced on exactly how much snow will fall, but consensus on ‘the poor Packers’. What’s a Wisconsinite to do on the morning after?  Comfort foods required.

So I turn to the old standby: peanut butter on whole-grain bread and a cup of strong, gourmet coffee with cream.  I must be needing comfort on a regular basis because this has become my standard breakfast.  But the menu makes sense; the peanut part is high in protein, the butter part keeps me feeling full until noon.  And the whole grains do all sorts of wonderful things you can read about elsewhere.   But the secret to the comfort breakfast is coffee with cream, at least with half-and-half.  Don’t even think about offering me skim milk, and someone clever should find a real use for non-dairy creamer. (Read about the multiple health benefits of peanut butter and coffee.)

This morning I need an extra boost, so I go to a coffee shop.  It’s a local place, which over the past few years has cloned itself and now exists in other neighborhoods around Madison.  I go for the good coffee.  But looking around the shop I see it brokers in all kinds of comfort items.  Its variety of flavored dark chocolate bars is extensive.  Cocoa is known to stimulate feelings of pleasure and well-being, and the cocoa content on some of these bars is up to 82%.  Some bars even label themselves ‘vigor’ and ‘harmonizing’.  Some bars are ‘lavender’ – as if suggesting I should bathe in them.  Who knows, maybe I haven’t fully caught on to the concept of total comfort. (Read more about the health benefits of chocolate.) 

So the chocolate bars are on one side of the counter, and the truffles and pastries the size of Brett Farve’s hand are in the middle of the counter display.  Space on the counter’s right is devoted to single malt scotch’s, sold by the glass or bottle. A full range of other liquors are sold in the back half of the shop.  Now this place sells comfort! 

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