For the eighth straight year, October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com, 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.
Adam Siegel, executive chef, Lake Park Bistro: Moules Mariniere
- 5 pounds fresh mussels
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 ounce unsalted butter
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 ounces white wine
- 2 ounces cream
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- salt to taste
- fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 2 slices of a baguette, toasted
Scrub and debeard mussels in cold running water. In a pot, melt half of the butter. Sauté the bay leaves, garlic and shallots 30 seconds and then add the mussels. Gently shake the pot over flame and sauté mussels until a few begin to open. Add white wine and cover pot. When all of the mussels are open, add the cream, parsley and black pepper. Simmer for a few minutes. Check if mussels need salt. Serve in a bowl with some crusty baguette, and enjoy.
Brandon Julien, executive chef, Milwaukee Beer Bistro: Beer-infused Brussels sprouts
- 3 cups Brussel Sprouts
- 2 ounces butter
- ¼ cup beer
- salt and pepper (to taste)
Start off by getting a pan hot with butter. Brown the butter until it smells sweet and nutty. Add the brussel sprouts and sauté for a little bit – just enough for the brussel sprouts to brown. Add the beer and simmer for a few minutes. Now add the salt and pepper, and place the pan in the oven at 350 degrees. They should cook for about 10 minutes until they are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Valeri Lucks, executive pie baker, Honeypie: Cheddar bacon apple pie
- 1 ¼ cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup cold shortening
- ¼ cup cold butter
- ½ cup ice cold water
- 10 apples peeled/sliced (use a tart and firm varietal)
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup flour
- ½ cups brown sugar
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- ½ cup cooked, chopped bacon
- ½ cup butter softened, cut into ½" pieces
NOTE from Lucks: We use local ingredients in all our pies: Wisconsin butter, cheese, bacon, apples and flour. It makes a huge difference!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Step 1, crust: Whisk flour and salt together. Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut the shortening and butter into the flour until the mixture resembles pea-sized pieces. Fold cold water into mixture 2 T at a time. Lightly press the mixture into a ball with your hands. Chill dough in the fridge while you make the filling.
Step 2, make filling: Mix peeled and sliced apples, sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt all in one bowl. Toss until the apples are coated. Set aside.
Step 3, make topping: In a bowl, mix together flour, sugar and cheese. Add chopped bacon. Add butter pieces. With your hands, press and mix the ingredients together until mixture is in pea sized pieces. Set aside.
Step 4, assemble: On a floured surface, roll the dough out to fit a 10 or 11" pie pan. Put the crust into the pan. Crimp edge of pie dough around the pie pan. Pour apple mixture into the pan. Place pie pan on top of a foil covered cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove pie from oven and sprinkle crumble over the top of the pie. Return pie to oven and lower heat to 375 degrees. Bake for another 30-40 minutes or until filling is bubbling. Allow pie to cool for four hours before serving. (P.S. This is really good with Purple Door’s bacon ice cream or whiskey vanilla ice cream!)
Daniel Jacobs, executive chef, Odd Duck: Bacon-wrapped dates
- 20 Medjool dates
- 2 cups smoked gouda (shredded)
- 10 slices of applewood bacon
- 20 toothpicks
Remove the pit of all the dates with needle nose pliers. Stuff loosely with the shredded gouda. Cut the bacon in half. Wrap each stuffed date with a piece bacon and secure by skewer with a toothpick. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until bacon is crispy and the cheese is melted.
Adam Lucks, executive chef, Comet Cafe: Mac and cheese
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 2 slices American cheese
- 2 cups cooked macaroni noodles
- 1 tablespoon butter
- salt and pepper to taste
In a large hot saute pan, add cream and bring to a boil for one minute. Add cheese and stir until melted. Add noodles and butter. Mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste. For fancy mac, pour the mixture into an oven proof dish and put more shredded cheese on top and some bread crumbs on top. Broil until golden about five minutes. You can also add other cheeses to change it up! Just replace 1/2 the shredded cheddar with you favorite creamy-type cheese. Just do not skimp on the American cheese though. It's the secret to creamy mac and cheese.
Lori Hassett, Points East Pub: Chicken wings
Editor's note: Not exactly a recipe but a guide from the expert about how to prepare wings. Hassett didn’t want to reveal the special sauce, and we don’t blame her.
Our wings are deep fried in soybean oil, dipped in sauce and then grilled until crispy. Grill time depends on how hot you have the grill. Regardless, constant turning is a good idea for even cooking. We use jumbo cut first and second joint wings. If there is a presence of either green or blue in the meat or skin, if there is an odor of ammonia or the strong scent of chicken, they should be thrown out. When purchasing chicken wings, if there is a presence of chicken blood in the package, it is nearing its expiration, while cloudy blood tells you they are beyond their expiration date. Further, the wings should not be tacky or slimy to the touch when opening the package. Always check the expiration date, but keep in mind that the ways the wings have been stored effects that date. Keep your purchased wings as close to frozen as possible and definitely below forty degrees. The best flavor is attained when you cook your wings the same day they are purchased.
Clifford Hill, chef, Stackner Cabaret at the Milwaukee Rep: Apple spice cake
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 cup melted butter (try to avoid the water that settles to the bottom of the container; you want the butter fat)
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon good quality vanilla
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 cups flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- 6-8 granny smith and golden delicious apples, peeled and diced in rough ½" cubes (they don’t need to be pretty, but they do need to be pretty consistent)
Combine all the ingredients but the apples in a large bowl and combine until a thick batter is formed. A stand mixer with a paddle needs only about a minute of mixing, which should be kept to a minimum. Fold in the apples and allow the batter to rest for about 10 minutes. Juice from the apples will thin the batter noticeably. Bake these off in a large capacity muffin tin prepared with pan spray, and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees (about 18 individual cakes). At home, I bake this in a buttered and floured angel food / Bundt cake pan at 325 degrees for about 45 minutes (serves 12-18). In either instance, a pick inserted to the center should come out clean. The cake is allowed to cool in the pan before inversion and removal. Serve the cake lightly warmed with caramel sauce.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon good quality sea salt
- 2 tablespoon whole butter
Making caramel can be dangerous if you are not attentive. Have all of your ingredients together and pay close attention to the process.
In a medium saucepot, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Do not stir the sugar mixture at all but swirl occasionally within the pot over the flame. When the sugar mixture reaches a deep amber color, slowly add the heavy cream and reduce heat to medium low. The sugar will boil up, steam will come off the mixture and that is when you stand the greatest chance of burning yourself. Continue to cook over medium low heat until the hardened sugar has dissolved into the mixture. Stir in sea salt and cold butter, and store cold until ready to serve.
Hector Orozsco, retired chef, La Perla: Shrimp soup - Caldo de cameron
- 12 cups of water
- 1 medium-large onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 – 1 ½ lemon, cut into quarters
- 4 large bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt (approximately - we salt to taste)
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 2 ½ - 3 lbs best shrimp you can find - cleaned/deveined
Ingredients for assembly and garnish:
- 3 cups cocktail sauce (you can use store bought though we make ours from scratch with a little kick)
- 1 large bunch chopped cilantro, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 medium tomato, chopped
- 2 beautiful ripe/soft avocados, cut one into large chunks and slice the other into wedges
- Lemon wedge for garnish
- Add salty crackers to plate as served
In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add everything from first ingredient list except shrimp. Boil for 15–20 minutes. As aroma fills the room, add shrimp and cook for no more than 10 minutes. Shrimp will turn slightly pinkish but should still be tender when they are ready. Be careful not to over-boil shrimp. Remove shrimp from broth and put aside to cool. Strain broth to drain remnants of bay leaves and other solid ingredients. Set shrimp aside. Continue to let broth simmer gently.
Using soup bowls (preferably clear, deep glass bowl that can handle heat), put ½ cup cocktail sauce into base of each bowl. Next, equally divide chopped onion, cilantro, tomato and just avocado chunks (not slices) among the bowls. Gently place shrimp back into simmering broth, then remove. Divide shrimp and place equally among the bowls. Add about one cup of the broth into each bowl over the chopped ingredients. Allow ingredients to merge on their own – do not stir. You will see a nice layering effect of all ingredients.
Top each serving with a dollop of cocktail sauce, several slices of avocado and garnish with cilantro and lemon wedges (some guests prefer a dollop of sour cream too). Serve with salty crackers.