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  • Ruting for In-Season Vegetable

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    As the weather turns colder, many people will begin to correlate a nip in the air with stew in their bowl. It's true that winter lends itself to all the heartiness and warmth that a good stew can provide.

    Everyone has their own recipe for either a beef stew, turkey stew, and even a vegetable stew.

    But one root vegetable that you should consider for your next stew is a local and very affordable one called rutabaga.

    This article from the Wisconsin State Journal has a breakdown of what is and what's inside a rutabaga, or "Swede" as they call it in Europe.

    I personally enjoy cooking rutabagas in beef stews (or you can substitute venison this time of year), because it's hearty, can withstand long cooking times and has a fairly neutral flavor.

    Another great way to enjoy this root vegetable is roasting a couple different root vegetables together.

    I recommend finding rutabagas at your local grocery store or look for them at your winter farm market (which are now open for business on Saturdays in both downtown Green Bay and Appleton. Check local listings for exact time and location.

     

  • Goodbye to an Old Friend

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    I learned on Twitter this morning that the famous Stage Deli in midtown Manhattan is shutting its doors. 

    Details on why are provided by the New York Times here.

    I'm saddened by this because as a kid, my parents took me to the Stage Deli. I fondly remember eating with them, sharing a few laughs, and seeing legendary comedian Henny Youngman.

    I knew it was Henny Youngman because, in fact, my parents remarked ever so quietly, "Hey, that's Henny Youngman over there."

    For those who've never lived in, or visited, New York City, it may be hard to understand such an attachment to a place which served overly-large sandwiches, often featuring the wonderful salty-cured meats.

    It's about the experience of dining in a place which you'll remember for the rest of your lives. For me, it was part of my youth. I fondly remember THAT I ate there, not necessarily WHAT I ate. But it's a cherished memory and I'm sad to see it close down due to the rough economy.

    But the Stage was known for so much more than that. Its menu boasted a whole range of New York favorites, from smoked fish to hot open-faced sandwiches and eggs.

    Opened in 1937, the Stage Deli competed with other deli restaurants, such as the nearby Carnegie Deli, for the deli dollar. One of the great aspects is ordering sandwiches named after celebrities, like Clint Eastwood, Adam Sandler, Mel Brooks and sports heroes like Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.

    We all have those memories of great meals, visits to unusual places, and dining experiences which are etched into our minds forever. That's what makes food and dining a wonderful thing, because we can recall the sights, smells, tastes and fun of those places, no matter how old or forgetful we become.

    So as a tribute, I'm co-opting the Sid Caesar's Salad name. From now on...I don't make Caesar Salads...I make "Sid Caesar's Salads".

     

  • Tasting for a Good Cause

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    It may be on short notice, but the fine folks at Ridgeview Liquor in Ashwaubenon are hosting a special tasting event on Saturday from 3 until 6 p.m.

    The price of admission??  1 can of non-perishable food which will go to Paul's Pantry in Green Bay.

    I can't think of two better things to do on Saturday than helping out a great local charity, but also taste some great wine, beer and food.

    Ralph Witte of the Wine Witte's is organizing the event and said last year, they had in the neighborhood of 175-200 people. 

    "I'm certainly hoping we get that this year," Witte said Thursday. "People are asking about it, we've been talking about it, so I'm hoping we get there."

    Among the offerings on the wine side: "Parallel 44 will bring pretty much their entire line, Gruet Demi-sec (from Truth or Consequences, NM), Leese Fitch Cabernet."

    Hinterland Brewery, Stillmank Brewing, Triangle Brewing Company will be among the beers.

    Of course there will be food, featuring Greek Boys, Cheesecake Heaven, Joe's Texas BBQ and Breadsmith.

    Witte says he also has cheese...lots of it.

    "BelGioiso gave me 100 pounds of cheese, two wheels," Witte said.

    They are an aged Asiago and Romano.

    Witte agrees it's a great time to help out a charity, meet with friends and ask all the experts about their provisions, so go prepared to ask the tough questions...and possibly some dumb ones.

  • An Untamed Yet Proper Look at Wine

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    To learn about wine can be a somewhat difficult path. As with any spirit or endeavor, there is a cost to it. Whether it is in the monetary, time, or other format.

    I've found that when it comes to wine, it definitely helps to taste as much as possible. However, in a realistic sense where economic factors weigh heavily on one's self, it may not be the only way to learn.

    Reading can play a significant part, as can conversation and asking any and all questions inside that chat. I've found that enough people are writing about the wondrous grape, it's regions, the producers and the like that you can learn an awful lot about vino just by spending a few minutes seeing words spun by those who do a lot of tasting.

    This is an article from New York Times' Eric Asimov, who I consider to be one of, if not, the top wine writer in the U.S. He's certaintly one of my personal favorites and someone who I'll go seek out what he's written to read it.

    In his latest entry, Asimov talks wines of the Languedoc region of France. I always want to learn about all the different wine regions in the world, because chances are they're not something I can learn about by going to a local store and buying several bottles.

    It's a bit frustrating for me that after I read about some of the wines he's tried that I can't run out to taste it for myself. Of course if I lived in New York, it may not be a problem.

    But in northeast Wisconsin, it's definitely a challenge. I would suggest to those looking to try wines that you read about online to seek out some wine sellers here (or even down in Milwaukee or Madison) and see if they can't order something online for you.

    Or we can all wait, corkscrews loaded, for Amazon to get its wine marketplace in order so we may order them ourselves and have them deliver it to our doorsteps.

  • SPAM-A-LOT for This 75th Birthday

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    Raise your hand if you like SPAM....

    That's likely not the majority of folks, especially foodies who's impeccably high standards don't allow for meals involving meat in a blue tin.

    But if you can believe it...SPAM turns 75 years old this year. 

    This article from the Wisconsin State Journal will open your eyes to more facts and recipes involving spiced ham (that's apparently what SPAM stands for) than you could possibly imagine.

    Did you know it was made in Austin, Minnesota?

    Did you know it's made using 2 different cuts of pork?

    Did you know there are 2 NEW flavors?

    Did you know that a recipe containing spam won a blue ribbon at the Wisconsin State Fair?

    I answered NO to those 4 questions. So call me a SPAM novice, but I do remember the version in the Kevin Costner movie-that-bombed "Waterworld" was called "SMEAT".  I guess that means it stands for spiced meat?

    Anyhow, those who like SPAM will enjoy these little blocks of meat-inspired knowledge.  Others won't and will likely never be converted into thinking this is a good idea to build a meal around.

     

     

  • Casting the Perfect Pan for Holiday Shopping

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    I'm often asked from people who want to take cooking more seriously what the essential tools a chef should have.

    The first draft picks a kitchen team should look for is one good chef's knife (8 to 10 inch), a sturdy cutting board, a wooden spoon, tongs, a pot and a good all-purpose skillet or pan.

    One of the more versatile, and inexpensive, is cast iron skillets.

    This article from the Los Angeles Times talks about the recent trend among cast iron fans to purchase both old and new pans.

    Pre-seasoned ones are really good, and the key is to following the seasoning instructions and never wash the pans with soap and water. Wipe out the pans once it cools.

    Much like the story says, cast iron skillets can last for years, even centuries, if taken care of well.

  • Need Caviar in a Pinch? There's an ATM for that

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    Remember when vending machines were revolutionary if they offered some type of food that wasn't a salty or sugary snack? I guess I'm showing my age a bit...

    We have one of those relics in the Midwest Communications break room. Along with a soda machine that, get ready, has like a half-dozen drink options.  Oooh...aaah...

    In other parts of the U.S. and the world, they have vending machines (or ATM's) which have way better options. There's ones with cupcakes. There's fancy drink ones with about several dozen flavors and sodas.

    Then there's this. Yes, a caviar ATM. Apparently L.A. is behind the times since Moscow had one several years ago.

    Nevertheless....only in Southern California would anyone bring hundreds, or a platinum card, to a vending machine. It also feature several other high-end foodstuffs like truffles, escargot and...accessories.

    Running low on pink mother of pearl spoons? They've got you covered. In a pinch. 24/7. No fuss, no muss.

    What a deal! What a country!

  • Who Wants Leftovers???

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving Day, the super bowl of all holidays (in my opinion). 

    I, much like a lot of you, ate too much food, drank a lot of wine and generally felt uncomfortably full, making me think to myself if I've turned from snob into slob. Then I watched the Jets last night, and realized that I'm nowhere near being the slobs they are. But that, my friends, is for another blog and another time.

    Lots of folks may wonder what to do with all those turkey day leftovers which are crammed into little plastic containers in your refrigerator. And this is where it gets fun...you can do anything your mind can imagine.

    Sure everyone enjoys a good hot turkey sandwich, but I want to go beyond that. To help, there is this article from the Seattle Times with some tremendous ideas.

    How about Turkey a la King? Turkey Shepherd's Pie? Turkey and stuffing hash for breakfast?  Yes, yes AND yes.

    Another favorite of mine is taking turkey and making simple enchiladas. All you need are corn tortillas, your favorite chile sauce (store bought or make it yourself) and some shredded cheese. Bake to beautiful deliciousness.

    I'm always looking for more creative ways to utilize Thanksgiving leftovers...let me hear some recipe ideas from you.

  • Value Vittles for Thanksgiving

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    I'll give you a scenario...you've just realized that you haven't prepared a single solitary thing for tomorrow's big day.

    Don't panic and begin to either pull your hair out or break something in your home. There's still time.

    This article gives you some idea of where to stretch your Thanksgiving dollar the furthest.

    Of the stores which were surveyed: Sam's Club, Aldi, Target, Save-A-Lot and Wal-Mart are options in Northeast Wisconsin.

    The only downside to Sam's is that, as the story points out, you need a membership, or know someone who has one. 

    Prepared snack trays (meat and cheese, vegetable and fruit, etc.) are a great way to keep hunger down while the main event is being handled. Pies can be bought ahead of time as well (unless you REALLY love to bake). 

    Make it happen and enjoy Thanksgiving with friends and/or family. 

  • Pour Me Some Thanksgiving

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    Two days to go (as of this writing)....and you've may have thought of everything...the turkey (sauna method or otherwise), the stuffing, potatoes (sweet and mashed), other vegetables (not counting a green bean casserole of which may be too many), appetizers, snacks, desserts, pies (pumpkin - hey I'm a traditionalist), seating charts, television background (football - see pie) and even whether or not to open the windows for fresh air (and to let out the hot air - heyyyooo).

    But how about the stuff in your glass which will be stationed next to the way too overflowing plate of foodstuffs? 

    There are many who choose not to drink adult beverages, and that's when the combinations get too numerous to deal with. Let 'em bring their own damn favorite soda, water, tea, coffee, energy drink, etc.

    For the rest of us...you may keep reading. This article from the Los Angeles Times will help locate the best possible wine pairings for your Turkey Day Buffet.

    I'm making this purchase Wednesday, and while I'm taking a risk of being in a crowded store which you all know by now I despise, it's a necessity given my current schedule. I plan to make this year #2 of an Oregon Pinot Noir. I had such a joy with it last year, (I'm not going to mention the label because they're not paying me to...and also I can't remember) and a lot of them can't miss.

    In years past, I've done the Chardonnay (w/lots of oak) and Riesling for white and the Beaujolais, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec for red. But my philosophy has always been drinking what you like, even though experts may not believe it's a good pairing. So if you happen to love Chardonnay, don't mess with success.

    The story also goes into spirits and dessert drink pairings. If you go that route, good luck. But do me and everyone else a favor, don't drink and drive.

    That way you and your family will be able to fix next year all the menu planning and family problems which went awry this year.

  • Giving Turkey the Sauna Treatment

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    There are a lot of different ways to cook a turkey, and a lot of theories as to how to produce the perfect bird on Thanksgiving.

    Brining is becoming popular; I see that more and more with different chef's recipes.

    I personally like the method of getting your turkey fabricated into parts and cooking it on one sheet tray over mirepoix, at a high temperature. It all cooks at the same time, remains moist and flavorful.

    I've fried a turkey once, but that takes a lot of equipment, space and peanut oil. The results though are worth it.

    Another favorite of mine is rubbing the inside of the skins with herbed butter. I totally write off any health benefits of turkey on Thanksgiving Day.

    Here's one from the New York Times and super chef Jacques Pepin you may not have thought of:  steaming your turkey.

    I know it sounds weird, but if you read the entire process and the rationale behind it, steaming and then roasting the bird isn't a bad idea. It's definitely different, but if done correctly, may be a method you'll think to yourself, "where has this been all my life?"

    Three days until the big day and I'm already hungry.

     

  • De-siding on Thanksgiving Day

    Posted by Jeff Flynt

    Side dishes are extremely important for Thanksgiving Day. Vegetables and the infinite ways to prepare them are all the rage these days, so why stop on Turkey Day.

    Let's be inventive, not just with preparation of vegetables and fruits (cranberry sauce counts), but with the types of fruits and veggies used.

    In this story out of the New York Times, we're shown several different approaches to the traditional Thanksgiving side.

    I'd personally be thankful for roasted squash, brussels sprouts and even something hidden deep in the story...kimchi.

    Kimchi is a fermented cabbage dish traditional in Korea. But kimchi can also be made with Napa cabbage, radishes, scallions or cucumbers.

    It's the kind of spicy and healthy dish that could liven up the normal hum-drum of your Thanksgiving spread.