Archive for January, 2013

A Salmon Chowder Kinda Day

Salmon and Bacon Chowder


Yes it is. Time for a warm bowl of amazement to wrap your chilly little hands around. It’s salmon chowder time. Or you can call it a creamy, chunky seafood soup. But first:

Lesson #1: Fish should never taste or smell fishy. I always ask for a sniff when I’m buying fish. The request typically causes raised eyebrows. Don’t care. Just want good fish.

Lesson #2: Frozen fish is often best. Unless you live on the coasts, fish often is flash-frozen and shipped to markets across the country…which is thawed before being displayed on ice. So buy your own fresh-off-the-boat flash-frozen fish and thaw it when ready.

Lesson #3: There is a Seafood Watch list of fish to avoid. For alternatives, get the scoop from Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Lesson #4: Make this Salmon and Bacon Chowder.

Salmon and Bacon Chowder
Makes about 6 servings.

¼ lb. bacon, chopped (about ¾ cup)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped (1 cup)
½ cup chopped carrot
½ cup chopped celery
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup chopped coarsely chopped new red skin potatoes or Yukon gold
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or stock
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Grey Sea Salt with Five Pepper Blend or The Chef’s Miracle Blend (or salt, pepper and 1/2 teaspoon thyme)
2 cups coarsely chunked fresh salmon (altho I suppose you could use canned salmon, but you’ll get a different result. Canned salmon is stronger flavored than fresh.)
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
1 cup  half and half
Chopped cooked bacon (optional)

1. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven or big pot until crisp; remove and set aside. (I like to scoop it onto paper towel to soak up some of the grease.) To the same pot, add olive oil, onion, carrot and celery. Cook and stir until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, stir for about 30 seconds, then add flour. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Stir in potatoes and broth. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until potatoes are just tender.

2. Stir in the bacon you’ve set aside, salmon, corn, half and half. Cook gently (do not boil) for 5 minutes or until salmon is cooked through. If desired, sprinkle individual servings with additional cooked bacon.


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Happy Pie Day

Just before baking: lots of apples and lots of crumble on top.

Just before baking: lots of apples and lots of crumble on top.


Hello, pie. No I won’t be making any cliched comments about the Life of Pie. Just a recipe. A classic that holds precious memories. This is the pie that always takes me home.

And, oh, by the way. January 23 is National Pie Day. Warm up your oven.

If you’re in Milwaukee and not up to baking, go have a slice at Honey Pie Cafe. Get there early.

Mom’s Apple Pie with Crumble Topping

My mother always doubled this recipe. One pie is for immediate eating and the other goes into the freezer.

1 recipe Crumb Topping (below)
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
4 to 5 tablespoons water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 cups thinly sliced, peeled tart cooking apples (about 2-1/4 pounds)

1. Make Crumb Topping. Set aside.

2. In a medium mixing bowl stir together 1-1/4 cups flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pieces are pea-size. Sprinkle on 1 tablespoon of the water; gently toss with a fork. Repeat moistening dough, using 1 tablespoon of water at a time, until all dough is moistened. Form into a ball.

3. Roll dough into a 12-inch circle. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Trim pastry to 1/2 inch beyond edge of pie plate. Fold under extra pastry. Set aside. (I usually cover and put it in the fridge til I’m finished peeling apples and mixing the topping.)

4. Preheat oven to 375 degree F. In a large mixing bowl stir together sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Add apple slices. Gently toss to combine.

5. Pile apples mixture into crust. Sprinkle Crumb Topping over apple mixture. Gently pat mixture down over apples.

6. Place pie on a baking sheet. Cover entire pie loosely with foil. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes more or until top is dark golden brown and apples are tender. Cool on a wire rack.

CRUMB TOPPING: Stir together 3/4 brown sugar, 1/2 cups flour, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Using a pastry blender, cut in 1/3 cup butter unitl the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in 1 cup chopped nuts.

Make-Ahead Tip: Prepare as above, except after sprinkling with crumb topping, wrap entire pie tightly in a double thickness of foil. Freeze up to 3 months. To bake frozen pie, remove foil wrapping and place frozen pie on a baking sheet. Cover entire pie loosely with foil. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 40 minutes. Remove foil. Bake 35 to 40 minutes more or until top is brown and apples are tender. Cool on wire rack.

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Music Beats
the Blues

What kind of music makes you happy? Any kind, say Penn State researchers. Study subjects felt better after listening to whatever music they liked best—from Jason Mraz to Bruno Mars to Yo Yo Ma to Mozart.

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Bloody Good

The Bloody Masterpiece at Sobelman's Pub is "garnished" with 13 nibbles including a bacon cheeseburger slider!

The Bloody Masterpiece at Sobelman’s Pub in Milwaukee is “garnished” with 13 nibbles including a bacon cheeseburger slider! And it’s served with a beer chaser.     —Photo courtesy of Sobelman’s Pub & Grill

The Bloody Mary, whose history seems as cloudy as the cocktail itself, is often tied to Ernest Hemingway, who rather enjoyed imbibing with his fellow writers. At his behest, legend has it, the bartender at Hem’s favorite Paris bar—Harry’s—created the drink to either soothe a Hemingway hangover (hair of the dog, you know), or to concoct a beverage that could not be detected on his breath and distress his wife (might have been Wife #4 whose name was Mary).

Nonetheless, the beverage has evolved dramatically from the 1920s concoction Hemingway swilled—tomato juice, vodka, Worcestershire sauce plus seasonings. Today’s Bloody Mary is a moveable feast, taking on various iterations and descriptive names. It’s an appetizer and a drink in one and can be loaded up with arugula sprouts, sugared bacon, crab claws, chunks of cheese and pickled vegetables including okra, Brussels sprouts and green beans.

At Sobelman’s Pub & Grill in Milwaukee, the Bloody Masterpiece was created on a whim to make fun of some of those over-the-top toppers. There are 13 of them on the Masterpiece: a bacon cheeseburger slider, celery, sausage, cheese, olive, pickled Brussels sprout, asparagus, shrimp, green onion, mushroom, cherry tomato, a bit of fresh lemon and a pearl onion.

“I made it as a joke, took a picture and posted it on Facebook asking if it was too much,” says owner Dave Sobelman. Apparently it wasn’t. Last week about 175 Bloody Masterpieces were served every day. “I had to hire new staff just to help prep and skewer everything—and order more and more buns. The sliders are made and added at the last minute.”

In comparison, the Chubby Mary is an exercise in restraint. Sort of. It’s the signature drink at The Cove in the small, but swanky fishtown of Leland, Michigan. Fresh lemon and lime juice, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, celery salt and cracked black pepper make for a lovely, but standard Mary, but the garnish puts it on the map: a smoked chub (a fish found in the Great Lakes) goes tail-first into the drink, so you are face to face with its shriveled fish eyes as the server ceremoniously places it on the table before you. Off-putting though it is, the smoky little fish soaks up the sweet-citrus-spice flavor of the drink, making for an oddly addictive nibble. Here’s a Chubby Mary recipe and photo that appeared in Midwest Living magazine.

Hemingway, being the fisherman that he was and having spent time in Michigan, would have approved.

For a simple Bloody Mary Dave Sobelman suggests using Jimmy Luv’s Bloody Mary Mix and Rehorst Vodka, both produced by Milwaukee companies.

Or try my bacon-flavored Bloody Mary. It makes one serving.

Bloody Mary with Bacon

2 lime wedges
Bacon Salt  or coarse sea salt
1 cup tomato juice
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dill pickle juice or olive brine
1/4 teaspoon horseradish or hot sauce to taste (some like it hot)
Freshly ground pepper
2 ounces of Bakon Vodka (worth the splurge here) or vodka
2 crispy-cooked bacon strips

Rub lime wedge around rim of  2 glasses. Dip rims in Bacon Salt. Combine remaining ingredients, except bacon strips, in a large cocktail mixer and shake. (Or put ingredients in a small pitcher and stir.) Pour Bloody Mary into 2 ice-filled glasses. Lay a bacon strip across the top of each glass, or crumble on top.




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