Recipe: Baked Buttery Pretzels

Buttery PretzelsGrowing up in Milwaukee, one of my fondest memories was the constant smell of yeast from the breweries that just permeated the air.

But one of the best yeast smells from the Brew City was whenever we drove on I-94 going toward downtown Milwaukee. Just east of County Stadium, what now is Miller Park, there was a little brown brick factory nestled next to one of the off-ramps. I remember driving by with my mom, who would always have her window cracked just a bit whenever we drove (a little thing I need to do now whenever I’m in the car), but as we got to this brown building – with its towering chimney and the white plumes of smoke hovering over the Menomonee Valley, she would open all of the car windows to let in the vibrant scent of yeast. It just filled the entire car and I inhaled the effervescence with pure joy.

That brown factory building was home to Red Star Yeast company. In 2001, the company was sold to a French firm and in 2004 a joint-venture took it over. Today, while Red Star Yeast no longer is manufactured in Milwaukee, there are still factories in Alabama and Iowa. But the Red Star corporate headquarters remains on Milwaukee’s west side near Wisconsin State Fair Park.

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Christmas Caramel

Homemade caramels by Stacey MuellerI’m so excited to introduce another new guest blogger to the All’s Fare family! Stacey Mueller is a dear friend and mentor of mine from back in the Milwaukee area. She recently tried her hand at making homemade caramels for gifts.

With 10 days left of shopping before Christmas, here’s one way you can impress your friends and family this holiday season…and avoid the crowded malls and shopping centers!

Take it away, Stacey!

My family is all about food gifts: cheeses and smoked meats, game harvested by the hunters in our group, homemade treats and home-assembled gift baskets. Last year, I visited Penzey’s spice shop (locate one near you) in Greendale, Wis., bought 4-packs of spices and turned to the staff at my local liquor store for some great wine pairings to go with the spices.

This year, I’m trying to reconnect with cooking skills set aside in the last few years when I was busy with other things. My mother-in-law makes awesome cookies, so I don’t ever want to compete in that venue. My mom also makes some lovely cookies and also fudge, toffee and nut brittles. Taking a cue from my mom but also wanting to offer something different, I decided to try homemade caramels. And, since I made just about every possible mistake with the first batch, I thought I’d share the experience to help you fast-track toward rich, creamy, sweet success.

This recipe makes about 6 pounds of caramels. A pound is a nice amount for a gift.

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Yeah, I Ate That Series: The Cyclops

It has been QUITE awhile since I have written a piece for the “Yeah, I Ate That Series.” I was thinking today about one of my favorite over-the-top dishes back in the Milwaukee area.

There is a little diner on North Ave. in Wauwatosa called Daymaker Cafe. Brett and my brother took me for my birthday in 2010 (that was also the same day I tried Pat’s Rib Place the first time – fabulous day overall.)

I’m a huge lover of pancakes – buttermilk, whole wheat, Dutch Babies, crepes – if it’s any type of pancakes, I love it. Plain. And. Simple. (That could also be why I packed on about 30 extra pounds in the past five years, but I digress.)

Daymakers makes The Cyclops. The best way to describe it is like the “Peekhole Sandwich” I wrote about recently on my Mom’s birthday but with a pancake. Make a large pancake, cut a hole in it, stuff it with sausage and egg. Voila! A Cyclops!

Cyclops from Daymakers CafeWhile not everything on the menu is a magical, mythical creature like the Cyclops, they do offer other fabulous offerings. I do remember grabbing plenty of bites of Brett’s “Pretzel-Bread French Toast” that is served with peanut butter syrup.

To learn more about Daymaker Cafe or to view their menu, visit www.daymakercafe.com.

A Conversation with Yuval Zaliouk of Almondina

Yuval and his grandmother Dina - AlmondinaI had the great pleasure of talking last week with Yuval Zaliouk, the owner of Almondina Cookies. His company bakes up some great, wafer-thin cookies that are a versatile snack and healthy, too. Almondina started as a secret recipe from his grandmother, Dina. So, what a perfect tribute right before Mother’s Day than hearing from Yuval about his grandmother’s influence and the story behind how her secret cookie recipe became a cookie sensation.

CR: Tell me how the Almondina company and cookie began.
YZ: The whole idea really started in grandma Dina’s kitchen about 80 years ago in Israel.  She was a fantastic cook and invented this cookie about 80 years ahead of its time. It has no cholesterol, no fat, and is all natural, and she created it 80 years ago. As a tribute to my grandmother, Dina, and because the cookies are made mostly of almonds, we decided to combine the words for our company name. Today, our company has a slogan: “The delicious cookie without the guilt.” And, our mission is: “To put a delicious healthful cookie on every American table.”

CR: Where does the inspiration for the flavors come from? What is your favorite?
YZ: There are 10 flavors. The most popular is “The Original” cookie. This is the one that I recommend that everyone starts with. When you start with that one, you will taste the beautiful cookie that my grandmother Dina invented so many years ago. All of the other flavors are just a derivation of “The Original.” I would say its my grandmother’s inspiration, but my doing.

My favorite is “The Original.” But, I’m a symphony conductor, too. People always ask, “What is your favorite piece?” And I say, “The one that I’m currently conducting.” It’s the same with these cookies. My favorite is the one I’m crunching on at the moment.

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[Challenge] Tie the Cherry Stem

For my Wisconsin peeps! Jose’s Blue Sombrero has a new challenge for y’all. Order a tequila and tie the cherry stem into a knot with your tongue and then you’ll get the next three libations on the casa.

You have until Monday, April 25, to complete your mission. Think you can handle the pressure?

Jose's Blue Sombrero Cherry ChallengeRemember the last challenge at JBS that we tried here at All’s Fare? I’m thinking Chris still remembers the Fireball Burrito Challenge like yesterday…

Jose’s Blue Sombrero has two Wisconsin locales – Brookfield and Racine. If you do try the challenge, send me pix and I’ll feature it on the bloggie!

New Sausage Kabob at Miller Park for 2011

The Sausage Race at Miller ParkI don’t think many of my faithful readers know that way back in 2006 I had the pleasure (or curse) of being a famed Klement’s Sausage at Miller Park when I worked for the Milwaukee Brewers. As the story goes, I was wearing horrid, glittery gold shorts, pink tennis shoes and was dressed as Brett Wurst, the bratwurst during a day game. I was pinch-running for a girl who tore her casing just before the 7th inning race.

I thought, “Hey, I’m a little slow, but it’s all in good fun.”

Well, there’s more to being a little slow in baseball. When you only have 90 seconds due to Major League Baseball contracts and radio broadcasts, that really only leaves the famed sausages about 30 to 40 seconds to make it from the far third base side to the far first base side. After wobbling my way around home plate, and teetering near the Brewers’ dugout (Ned Yost came to my aid to hold me up), I finally crossed the finish line – only to be berated by my boss saying that I was the most pitiful sausage ever. This news coming only a few short weeks after I fell out of a golf cart (while dressed as Stosh the Polish Sausage) while making rounds to happy-go-lucky tailgaters in the stadium’s parking lot.

Needless to say, that was my last day working as a sausage and for my beloved home team. My dreams to make it on Sportscenter as a heroic victor were crushed by the highlights of me nearly falling into the dugout being played repeatedly on local television.

Still, I love this endearing mascot that Milwaukee calls their own. And, I’m proud to say that another nod to it will come in 2011 when the Klement’s Famous Racing Sausage Kabob makes its debut at Miller Park.

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Italian Beef and Fries at Dr. Dawg

Dr Dawg exterior in Glendale.Late in 2010, Dr. Dawg opened up on Milwaukee’s north side. I really enjoyed their Chicago-style hot dogs with all the fixins and Sprecher root beer on-tap. A little while later, I went back to test out the Doctor’s Italian beef.

Can I get an “Mmm, good”?

Dr. Dawg’s Italian beef comes in three sizes: 5-inch, 7-inch and “Da Big 12.” Slow-roasted, paper-thin slices of tender beef are piled high on a cushy, fresh Italian roll. Also slathered on top of the sandwich is your pick of sweet peppers or spicy giardiniera.

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