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  • Stepping Up Your Game: Hot Wings

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    This is day 3 in my ramp up to Super Bowl 47 with helping you step up your game to host the best football party of the year.

    Today I'm tackling hot wings.

    Ever since the Buffalo wing got its fame, chefs and culinarians have been trying to make over the chicken part in many, many ways.

    This recipe is for Maple-Chipotle Hot Wings from the Food & Wine website.

    What I love about this combination is not just the sweet and spicy combination, but the smoky layer thrown in.

    I loved smoked foods, and anytime you can add that profile to a food, it can be a crowd pleaser.

    You could also leave open the option of having your guests take the wings either sweeter or spicier. Have extra maple or Adobo sauce (sauce that chipotle peppers usually come in) on the side.

  • Stepping Up Your Game: French Onion Dip

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    This is day 2 in my ramp up to Super Bowl 47 with helping you step up your game to host the best football party of the year.

    Today I'm tackling dips. 

    Everyone has their favorite dip. It may be a recipe that's handed down from family members, or something you just whipped up in a pinch for unexpected guests.

    This recipe from the Food Network is for French Onion Dip with Gruyere Toasts.

    If you like French Onion Soup, you'll love this dip. It has all the elements of French Onion Soup, without the need to properly melt the Gruyere in a salamander and not burn off your fingers transferring to a plate.

    Vegetables are great to have with this as well. 

  • Stepping Up Your Game: Nachos

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    This week is Super Bowl week in New Orleans. As we get ready for Super Bowl 47 between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, I believe its right to help home chefs step their game up with a look at ideas for Super Bowl food.

    Today's edition deals with nachos.

    Nachos nowadays can come in all shapes and sizes. With many of us having bigger appetites, and the longer than ever pre-game shows which none of us really pay attention to, the size of the nachos is important.

    But I want to focus on the quality of nachos. Nachos should use quality tortilla chips, cheese and a meat of some sort.

    This story from the New York Times talks about a star of the show...short ribs.

    This recipe features braised short ribs done in a wonderful way. It includes lots of spice and beer. 

    It sounds so amazing, I want to make it part of my Sunday buffet.

  • Hoof it to Toronto

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    I just finished watching an episode of "The Layover" with Anthony Bourdain. This stop was in Toronto, and one place where he visited is a place I need to get to.

    It's called the Black Hoof. Here is a recent review.

    It specializes in charcuterie, off cuts and other "outside the box" meat dishes. One of the most exciting dishes, in my opinion, is something called the "bone luge".

    The photo at the top is actually a Facebook photo of Bourdain performing the luge.

    It's a bone full of marrow, accompanied with bread and other sides. Once all the marrow is gone, you then get to have shots of bourbon poured down the bone into your mouth "luge style".

    If you're headed to Toronto (and I'm planning my trip now), make The Black Hoof one of the stops on your itinerary.

  • Aged Like a Fine Brew

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    The world of beer seems to be evolving. Much like other aspects of food and spirits, there are always new and interesting ways to eat and drink our favorites. Then comes something completely different you may never have thought of.

    This story, by Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel food writer/critic/twitter friend/ Carol Deptolla, talks about the movement of aging beer at some haunts in the Brew City.

    Not everyone is a fan of stouts and porters (I am, however), much like not all wine drinkers happen to like Bordeaux. But it is interesting to note that the year of a beer could become one of the key components in choice of suds at some restaurants.

    It's also interesting to note that while some brewed beverages are moving in this direction, wine is going the other way.

     

  • FIRST LOOK: Fox Valley Tech's Cultural Cuisine

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    On February 24th, Fox Valley Technical College will hold their 15th Cultural Cuisine event at their Appleton campus.

    It's a showcase event featuring the skills of students in the school's culinary program.

    But before the event that Department Chair Chef Jeff Igel described as the "Super Bowl" for Fox Valley Tech's future culinarians, the media and members of the public were invited to a pre-critique of the menu.

    This year's theme is "Famous Chefs", so you'll notice that all of the tasting menus were designed and produced in the vein of chefs you may have heard of.

    Team Paul Prudhomme

    • Sweet Potato Shooter
    • Alligator Fritter with Red Pepper Remoulade
    • Chicken and Waffles
    Team Bobby Flay
    • Sweet Potato and Roasted Plantain Soup w/Smoked Chili Crema
    • Fry Bread Taquitos w/Jerk Chicken, Red Cabbage Jicama Slaw and Mango Habanero Sauce
    • Adobo Braised Pork w/Creamy Polenta and Apple Chutney
    Team Auguste Escoffier
    • Skewered Veal Meatballs with Curry Sauce
    • Pommes Marquis and Wild Mushroom Ragout
    • Roasted Roma Tomato stuffed with Spinach, Feta, Fennel and Anisette
    Team Wolfgang Puck
    • Three Cheese Crab Macaroni and Cheese
    • Wolfgang's Spring Roll
    • Chicken Caesar Pizza
    Team Marie-Antoine Careme
    • Orange Water Flower Pavlova w/Vanilla Bean Chantilly, Strawberry Coulis and Pink Champagne Caviar
    • Almond Pithivier Leaf w/Honey Cardamom Sauce
    • Chocolate Hazelnut Petit Four w/Mocha-Hazelnut Buttercream, Bittersweet Ganache and Pepper-Berry Sauce
    We each had a chance to review the dishes and score them on a 1-4 scale. 
    Chef Igel said afterward, "We don't expect all the dishes to be ready for prime time, but we'll take the feedback and look it over to see what adjustments need to be made."
    From my personal notes:
    • The expected star of the program was the dessert course and it did NOT disappoint. The presentation was the most outstanding and the flavors of each were of equal regard.
    • The Prudhomme and Flay courses together were ahead of where the Escoffier and Puck courses fared from a taste standpoint. 
    • Both sweet potato dishes were pulled off fairly well and I enjoyed the different vibe from the chicken and waffles (SPOILER ALERT: The chicken is not fried).
    • Really liked the Adobo braised pork dish and the wild mushroom ragout was well done.
    The event again is Sunday, February 24th from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Fox Valley Technical College-Appleton campus. Tickets are $40 per person (and I'm told it's all you can eat). There will be refreshments (non-alcoholic, beer and wine) and a silent auction inside the Jones Dairy Farm Culinary Theatre.
  • Risotto Recipe for Healthy Appetites

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    If you've never tried risotto, let me tell you, you're seriously missing out. At least the good ones (I understand some can easily be made badly).

    But given that we all should try to find healthier eating options whenever possible, risotto has always presented a challenge.

    This recipe from the Seattle Times seems to have found a way to make it using brown rice.

    Normally, you want to use Arborio rice to make risotto. The starchy quality of the grains helps give the dish its creamy texture.

    Brown rice doesn't release as much starch during the cooking process, which can become problematic.

    It's an easy recipe, but risotto is more about patience. Take your time, love the dish you're making and the results will bear that out. 

  • Some Supper Club Love

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    I was not born or raised in Wisconsin. In fact, I generally find myself asking people I meet whether or not they are a "lifer" or "outsider". 

    I know and freely admit to being an "outsider", but there are some things about the Badger State which I find charming.

    One of those is the Supper Club.

    Tradition is important, to a person, family, and culture. Nowhere is there more tradition on display than in a Supper Club that's been open for many years.

    This review of a traditional Supper Club in Madison is exactly what you would describe to someone, not of this planet, and their first question is, "So what's the deal with these Supper Clubs?"

    Okay, their first question most likely would be, "Is it always THIS cold?", but let's say their next question would be about Supper Clubs.

    Now last year, I did a three-part series talking about Supper Clubs in northeast Wisconsin. You can listen to it below.

    State of the Supper Club State Series

  • Fattening Your Diet to Stay Healthy

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    With the amount of sautéing and salad making that goes on in my kitchen, I take my oils seriously.

    I prefer extra virgin olive oil, because I enjoy the flavor and the health benefits that come with it.

    If you're unfamiliar with those benefits, this story from the Seattle Times, written by an environmental nutritionist will help.

    The interesting part of the story is how else you can help make your everyday diet a bit healthier.

    I really enjoy avocadoes and peanut butter. I've had tahini a few times, and enjoy that as well, however I don't think about it at home.

     

  • Meat Recall in Wisconsin

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    A story today discusses the recall of 2,500 pounds of ground beef by a Watertown meat company.

    Glenn's Market and Catering says it's a voluntary recall of Fresh Ground Round, Fresh Ground Chuck and Fresh Ground Beef from the morning grind of December 22, 2012 - January 4, 2013, of the Retail Meat Case for possible E-coli 0157:H7 contamination.

    What I find interesting is on Glenn's website, it mentions a reminder about something called "Tiger Meat". 

    I was right in assuming that Tiger Meat wasn't meat from a tiger. But I had to lookup what consisted of Tiger Meat. If you don't know, it's a mixture of raw beef, raw egg, onion, salt, pepper and other seasonings. Preparation is mixing all those ingredients together and serving them on crackers.

    It is closely related to steak tartare, and is common in Midwestern states with significant German populations, such as North DakotaSouth DakotaWisconsin and Minnesota.

    Fellow WTAQ'er Matt Z tells me that a tradition in his family is something called a "Cannibal Sandwich". It's similar, in that it involves raw ground meat, served with slices of red onion, salt and pepper on dark rye bread and cut into quarters.

    I don't know that I would imbibe in these ventures, although I have had steak tartare and it wasn't bad. I'm just not ready to make that a tradition.

  • Judgment of London

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    When you are in the aisles of your local liquor haunt or grocery store, and you're on the hunt for some scotch, does it matter to you where it comes from?

    If the assumption is that great Champagne comes from the Champagne region of France, than you must believe that great Scotch Whiskey comes from Scotland, right??

    What if I were to tell you that there is a scotch, single malt, which beat all Scottish-made whiskeys in a blind tasting by a panel of British experts?

    In this piece from the New York Times, we learn about American Malted Whiskeys, namely Balcones Texas Single Malt.

    Balcones Distillery is based in Waco, Texas, and is the first American-made whiskey to win the competition in its five-year history.

    This reminds me of the tale of the "Judgment of Paris" from back in 1976. Then, a panel of French wine judges conducted a blind tasting organized by British wine merchant Steven Spurrier, awarded its highest mark to a '73 Stags Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon.

    Many in the wine industry regard this as the "tipping point" of how the California wine industry took the world by storm, opening the door to people understanding that great wine can be made in places outside of France.

    The Times story discusses the state of the growing American malt whiskey industry. In Wisconsin, there are at least three distilleries which produce whiskey: Death's Door Spirits, Great Lakes Distillery and Yahara Bay Distillers.

    If you're a fan of single malt scotch whiskey, give a local distiller a chance. It's the same way you'd want to buy local for this.

     

     

  • Change: The 2013 Wine Version

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    The past few years have been a tremendous time for people looking to get involved with and learn about wine to do so.

    These are definitely high times, both in Wisconsin and across the U.S., for the wine industry. But as always, the industry, wine makers, lovers, writers, etc., must evolve.

    So what can drinkers expect for 2013? Here are some ideas from the San Francisco Chronicle.

    The idea of "Big Wine" is interesting to me. We talk all the time about all sorts of "Big" industries, but I generally don't think of wine, beer or food in that vein.

    If you do your wine shopping at a local grocery store, you most likely will notice a lot of influence from Gallo, Constellation Brands and the Wine Group, on the shelves. But that doesn't necessarily mean they end up in your glass.

    That's what has been amazing about the industry, is the continued growth of smaller wineries and labels, both globally and in Wisconsin. You can find alternatives to the major brands, by either trying somebody new and/or keeping it local (sorry for the Channel 5 reference).

    Craft beer is a growing industry, and craft wine should be also. I've always been a fan of the ability to taste and ask questions of the people who make the stuff you're drinking. You can ask about motivation and flavor profiles, learn about the viticulture or ingredients around you and find out about future developments they're working on.

    It's a lot easier to do so if you go tour a winery or brewery, but every now and then a festival will appear, providing access to numerous wine makers and brew masters all in one spot. That's where you'll come away with the richest experience.

    Now putting that geeky side of me down for a second, should you choose to go the route of buying at your local liquor or grocery store, give a different label a shot. 

    For both wine and beer, the first thing you should have in mind is the style you enjoy. Then, you can freely navigate the selections of those styles to try different labels. 

    You could also ask the folks working there if they've tried any of the brands you're considering and get some of their feedback.

    But wine (or beer) doesn't have to be dominated in your home by the biggest names, you drink what you enjoy and let all the other booze fall where it may.