For the seventh straight year, October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com, presented by the restaurants of Potawatomi. 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 2013."
Whether you cook or like to be cooked for, there’s no better comfort food than one passed down in your family from generation to generation.
This Dining Month, we asked our own writers to contribute our family recipes. Here’s what we came up with. Please add your own using the Talkback feature below.
My grandfather was born in Beirut, Lebanon. My grandmother in Cork, Ireland. She learned how to make this Lebanese dish to please him and made it every Christmas season. The year before she died she taught me how to make it, and the tradition continues.
5 lb. bag flour
1 lb. coarsely ground lamb (leave fat on)
1 8 oz. pack plain yogurt
1 medium white onion (chopped)
3 packs yeast
Salt and pepper
The night before make the dough and the meat. Mix half the flour with 3-4 cups warm water and the yeast. Hand knead until firm. Put in large bowl and cover with dishcloth that is wet with warm water. Leave overnight.
Mix meat with yogurt and onions with meat and salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate overnight.
The next day is the tough day. On table spread wax paper and cover with flour. Tear off dough and roll into ball about 2 inches in diameter. roll out to log and rip off a piece. Flatten it until you have thin circle of dough about 1.5 inches in diameter. put ball of meat in the center and fold edges up into triangle with some space in the middle for the meat to show through. place on greased cookie sheet. when sheet is full, put several pine nuts on top of meat. push down. put a dollop of Crisco on top of each one. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 15 minutes, or until dough is brown on top.
serve with either tahini sauce or yogurt as dip.
The Famous Sandy D’Amato Chili
2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil
4 ounces of bacon, julienne cut
2 ¼ pounds chuck roast. Trim the fat and cut into one quarter to half-inch cubes.
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
2 medium onions (16 ozs.) peeled and cut into small dice
1 poblano pepper (4 ozs.) halved, stem and seeds removed, cut into small dice
4 cloves of garlic (about 1 oz) peeled and finely chopped
3 tablespoons medium chili powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon achiote paste (see note)
1 bottle or can (12 oz.) beer
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes in sauce
1 ½ cups chicken stock
1 can (15 oz.) black beans (remove liquid and reserve)
Place a large stew pot over high heat. Place grapeseed oil and bacon in pot. Sauté bacon until lightly golden. Remove bacon from pot. Set aside in large bowl.
Season meat with salt and pepper, and sauté in batches to avoid crowding. Remove meat when brown and put in bowl with bacon.
Add onion and pepper to pot, and sauté 3 minutes. Add garlic, and sauté 30 seconds. Return meat to pan. Add chili powder, paprika, cumin, cocoa, achiote paste and sauté 30 seconds. Add beer to deglaze, and simmer two minutes.
Add tomatoes, stock and liquid from beans, and simmer, covered, stirring regularly 45 minutes or until meat is tender. Do not let mixture scorch.
Add beans and return to a simmer. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Makes four to six servings.
Note: Achiote paste is available at Mexican food stores and some supermarkets.
Grandma Owczarski's home made Pierogis
8 cups flour
3 large eggs
Approximately 2-1/2 cups cool water
¼ C milk
Beat eggs in a separate container. Add milk and 1 C water to eggs. Beat. Pour into flour. Add more water until not sticky. Knead for 5 minutes.
3 lbs. cottage cheese
6-8 tbl sugar
3 eggs (separated), use beaten yolks only
Mix all ingredients together. Use sugar (more or less to taste) Could also add 8 oz Philly if you want.
5 lbs. red potatoes
¾ lb. Velveeta
1 large onion
Salt & Pepper
Saute chopped onion in 1 to 1-1/2 sticks butter. Boil potatoes. Add onion and chopped cheese, salt and pepper. Mash by hand.
Ramen Noodle Slaw
This is a recipe my stepmother uses a lot and it was one of my father's favorites. I don't think she invented it, but for me, it's a comfort food and will always be a "family recipe" in my mind.
Chop one head of cabbage into shreds
Combine with a bag of sliced almonds, sesame seeds and crunched-up ramen noodles
Drizzle with this dressing immediately before serving:
1/4 cup oil
3 tsp. sugar
Ramen noodle seasoning packet
Farinata is a traditional dish from Liguria, the region of Italy where my grandfather – who made his living, in part, as a cook in the U.S. Navy and in landlubbing restaurants – grew up. But variations of this chick pea-based dish can be found all along the Mediterranean and especially along the French and Italian Riviera.
It's easy to make and it's a healthy (in moderation) mix of olive oil and protein-rich chick peas. Eat it piping hot with some sea salt.
4 cups warm water
3 cups chick pea flour (available at Outpost, Whole Foods, etc.)
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Pour the water into a bowl and whisk in the chick pea flour and salt until it's smooth and all the lumps are out. Let is sit, covered, at room temperature for two to four hours. Pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees (the hotter the better. If you have access to a wood-fired oven, that's better). Skim the foam off the top of the mixture, pour the olive oil into the pan and then pour the batter in and mix gently to incorporate the oil.
Bake for 25-35 minutes, turning it once or twice to make sure it cooks evenly. Keep an eye on it toward the end to make sure it doesn't burn. Use a heavy duty pan (I bought my copper farinata pan in Chiavari, Italy, but surely that's overkill for most) that won't buckle under the heat or your batter won't be evenly distributed and one side will be too thin and burnt when the other side is too thick and uncooked ... and the bottom of your oven will be a mess.
Cut your farinata into squares and serve with salt and pepper.
We certainly have many family recipes in my family (brisket, matzo ball soup come to mind) but I sure did love my grandma's cheese cake recipe. Here it is:
1 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup graham cracker or zweiback crumbs
1 lb. cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 pint sour cream
1/8 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. Vanilla
Butter 8-9" pie pan. Toss crumbs into buttered pan until covered with crumbs. Mix all filling ingredients until well blended. Pour into prepared pie pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Mix together all topping ingredients. Pour on top of hot baked batter. Put back into 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Turn off oven and leave cake in oven for 1 hour (optional). Sprinkle cake with cinnamon (optional).