By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Oct 21, 2014 at 4:26 PM

For the eighth straight year, October is Dining Month on, presented by Locavore, the newest restaurant at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delectable features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2014."

Almost all of us have gone to a restaurant at some point and said a version of, "Holy cow! I wish I could make this at home!"

Well, wish no more. Milwaukee's top chefs ride to the rescue.

There are tons of great restaurants and great dishes in Milwaukee. We talked to some of the best chefs in this town, asking for recipes that are unique to them and that can be made by a home cook without having to spend six years in a famous culinary school. We have tried almost all of these and they get our hearty endorsement.

These aren't the only dishes, for sure. But save them in your online recipe folder and haul one out when you are in the mood for something special or want to impress dinner guests. They may occasionally seem to be complicated, but all the chefs assured us that the creations are well within the scope of talent for a home cook.

Bon appetit!

Jan Kelly, executive chef, Meritage: Mushroom bread pudding with truffle oil

  • 8 cups of bread, such as sourdough or egg bread cut into large diced pieces
  • 6 cups heavy cream
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 shallots sliced
  • 5-6 cups of sliced mushrooms (shiitake, oyster and portabellas)
  • ¼ cup of sherry
  • 1 tablespoon each chopped thyme and Italian parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • Truffle oil (optional)

Spray a 9x9 pan. Put diced bread in pan and spread evenly. Mix five cups of heavy cream with the eggs in a bowl with salt and pepper, and pour over bread mixture. Be sure all bread is coated well. You can add a little more cream if bread mixture seems dry. Place a sauté pan on stove on medium heat, and add two tablespoons of butter. When butter is melted, add shallots and sauté till soft and slightly brown. Then add mushroom sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook till soft and a little brown. Remove mushrooms and place in a strainer over a bowl. Put pan back on the stove and add sherry. Let reduce for one minute then add one cup of cream and reduce till thick. Pour cream over mushrooms in bowl and add chopped herbs and stir till combined. Mix mushrooms into the bread mixture. Be sure to leave some of the mushrooms on top. Cover with parchment paper and foil. Bake in oven at 400 degrees until bread pudding is set, approximately 45 minutes to an hour. To serve, cut into squares and drizzle with truffle oil.

Justin Aprahamian, executive chef, Sanford: Poached apple salad with kale and spiced hazelnuts

  • 2-4 Cortland apples
  • 4 cups white wine
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3/4 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 20 pieces of allspice
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ounces of shaved asiago or parmesan cheese
  • 1 small bunch of kale (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 head Belgian endive, cut in ¼ and the sliced thinly on a bias

Combine white wine, sugar, lemon juice and salt in a non-reactive sauce pot. Tie aromatics in cheese cloth to form a sachet. Bring up to a gentle boil to dissolve. Adjust seasoning as necessary. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Peel apples with a vegetable peeler and cut in half. Using a parisienne scoop, core out the apple. Put apple halves in poaching liquid and cover with a clean towel. Put back over medium heat and warm gently. Bring up to around 160-170 degrees and lower heat to keep it at that temperature. Poach very gently until the apples are just tender. Remove from heat and cool apples in the poaching liquid. If apples are getting soft remove from broth and cool separately. Apples can be made several days ahead and stored in poaching liquid in airtight container in refrigerator. To serve, cut apples into wedges about 1/2" wide and fan out on plates. Toss endive, kale and some hazelnut in mixing bowl. Season to taste with apple dressing, salt and black pepper. Plate dispersed over apples. Garnish with cheese, hazelnuts and a little more apple dressing.

Apple vinaigrette

  • 1 ½ cups of the apple poaching liquid
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup pomace olive oil
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Reduce apple poaching liquid to 1/2 cup. Add seasoning and cider vinegar. Whisk in oil and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Spiced hazelnuts

  • 2 ounces crushed hazelnuts
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground mace
  • Pinch of ground cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground fennel seed
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon sugar

Toss hazelnut with oil and spices. Toast on a cookie sheet in a 350-degree oven for about 6-8 minutes. Mix them up along the way.

Adam Siegel, executive chef, Lake Park Bistro: Sole poele a la meuniere

  • Dover Sole (about one pound each), whole, cleaned
  • 1 pound yellow potato, small, boiled, quartered
  • 1 pound French string beans, trimmed, blanched
  • 1 ounce butter, unsalted
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • 2  lemons, sliced thin
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • salt, to taste
  • cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1⁄2 cup all purpose flour

Take sole and season both sides with salt and pepper. Place flour on a plate and dredge the fillets in the flour, patting off the excess flour. Heat a large non-stick fry pan over medium high heat. When hot, add the corn oil, allow the oil to get hot. When hot, add in the fish, allow to cook for about 2-3 minutes before turning over. Take potatoes and put them in a saute pan with a couple tablespoons of butter, parsley, salt, cracked black pepper and about ¼ cups of water. The water will enable the potatoes to heat properly and release some starch to combine with the butter, making the potatoes a bit creamy in texture. Now place another saute pan over medium heat and put in a tablespoon of butter and the shallots. Sweat for about a minute. Add the french beans and saute until hot and season with salt and pepper. When the sole is ready for turning over (about three minutes when it’s golden brown), turn and add a couple of tablespoons of butter. Now place in an oven at 450 degrees for about three minutes. The butter will brown, enhancing the flavor of the fish. Let the sole cook for an additional three minutes. When the fish is cooked, remove from the pan, drain the pan and arrange in the middle of a plate with a serving of potatoes on one side and the french green beans on the other. Place the pan back on the stove, adding the remaining butter. Place a few lemon slices and some chopped parsley on top of the sole. Let the butter brown and then remove the pan from the heat and spoon the butter over the fish, lemon and parsley.

(serves 4)

Mike Kusch, chef, River Lane Inn: Rainbow trout with oven roasted butternut squash, brown butter and pecans

  • Butternut Squash
  • ¼ stick salted butter
  • Pecans, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Brown sugar
  • 1 fresh trout

Peel squash, cut in half and scrape seeds. Cut into 1/4-inch cubes. Toss in bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper, and place on greased sheet pan. Place in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Stir, turn the pan and put in oven for 15 more minutes. Cook until tender but not soft. Remove from oven, sprinkle with brown sugar and set aside. Saute butter in saucepan on medium heat. Whisk until foamy and brown with a nutty aroma. Remove and sprinkle in chopped raw pecans. Set aside. Lightly flour (optional) the trout and add salt and pepper to taste. Place into non-stick sauté pan at medium heat with two tablespoons of olive oil. Gently lay down trout meat side down and cook until lightly browned. Flip, then cook skin side until done (two minutes). Place trout on plate, place squash on trout, drizzle brown butter pecan mix on top and garnish with fresh lemon.

Daniel Jacobs, executive chef, Odd Duck: Romesco sauce

  • 1 cups hazelnuts
  • 10 cloves roasted garlic
  • 2 large roasted red peppers, well drained
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine or sherry vinegar (approximately)
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or small hot pepper (optional)

This romesco sauce recipe makes about two cups of sauce.

Roast garlic by first rubbing off excess dry skin from garlic head. Then place on baking sheet and drizzle a bit of olive oil on top. Roast in oven (or toaster oven) for 20 minutes at 300 degrees or until garlic on inside is roasted and soft. Place hazelnuts into food processor and process until finely ground. Place roasted garlic into the processor. Place roasted red peppers into the processor with the other ingredients and process until ingredients are a thick puree.

While processor is running, slowly drizzle in the oil and vinegar. Add salt to taste.

Serve with meat, fish, poultry or vegetables. Store in refrigerator for up to seven days.

Marc Bianchini, restaurateur, Indulge and Indulge Skylight: Tiramisu (trifle)

  • 1 pound mascarpone
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ quart cream
  • 3 ounces amaretto
  • 3 ounces Kahlua
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 150 grams sugar
  • 2 boxes of ladyfingers (48 pcs)
  • Brewed coffee

Separate eggs. Whip egg whites with 50 grams sugar to a meringue. Reserve to the side. Whip egg yolks with 50 grams of sugar. Add mascarpone, ½ ounce amaretto and ½ ounce Kahlua. Whip cream with 50 grams sugar. Fold all three mixtures together. Soak ladyfingers in the remainder of the amaretto, Kahlua and coffee. Do not over soak. Layer ladyfingers between the mascarpone mix. How: take a half size pan, about two inches deep. Layer bottom with lady fingers. Add layer of mascarpone mix. Repeat. Refrigerate for about two hours before serving. Once ready to serve, cut pieces easier with a square spatula and slide off spatula with a knife onto plate. Dust pieces with cocoa powder then powdered sugar.

(Makes 12 large pieces)