By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Oct 07, 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!

Justin Aprahamian, executive chef, Sanford: Roasted pumpkin soup with toasted pumpkin seeds and caramelized pumpkin

Step 1

  • 1 pumpkin ­about 4 pounds
  • 3 generous tablespoons whole butter

Wash and cut in quarters. Scrape seeds out with large spoon. Put one tablespoon of butter on three of the quarters, reserving one quarter for garnish. Place on cookie sheet and roast in 375-degree oven for 30-40 minutes, golden brown and tender. When cool enough to handle, remove skin and discard. Reserve roasted pumpkin meat.

Step 2

  • 1/4 cup whole butter
  • 1 pound onion ­medium dice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 3 1/4 cups veg or chicken stock

In a saucepot over medium heat, brown butter to a deep golden brown. Add onion and cook until translucent, or just tender, for 3-­5 minutes. Add ground cinnamon, nutmeg and chili flakes and cook to toast and get aroma for 2-­3 minutes. Add white wine and cinnamon stick, reduce by 2/3, or until about 1/2 cup liquid is left. Add stock and roasted pumpkin. Bring gently to a boil and simmer a few minutes to soften and incorporate pumpkin all the way through. Puree in blender and pass through a medium strainer. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Step 3

  • Reserved quarter of pumpkin cut in medium dice
  • 2 tablespoons  whole butter
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons honey
  • 4 teaspoons vinegar (more to taste)
  • Salt and pepper

If saute pan is large enough, cook all the pumpkin at once; otherwise do in two batches, dividing rest of ingredients for both batches. In large saute pan over high heat, lightly brown butter and add diced pumpkin. Season with salt and pepper. Cook to lightly caramelize about 2-3 minutes. Add honey and toss to distribute and cook in 30 seconds (careful not to get it too dark). Add vinegar and toss to deglaze. Check seasoning. Adjust if necessary.

Step 4

  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • Olive oil to lightly coat
  • salt and pepper to taste

Roast in 375-degree oven 3-6 minutes, until lightly toasted and fragrant.

Young Cho, executive chef, Simple Cafe: Corned beef hash

  • 6 ounces corned beef cooked and diced ¼ inch
  • 2 ounces Bell peppers (red, yellow and green) diced ¼ inch   
  • 2 ounces Caramelized onions
  • 4 ounces Crispy Potatoes (see below)
  • 2 ounces Gruyere cheese Shredded
  • 2 eggs  
  • Salt/Pepper to taste

Saute the corned beef, peppers and caramelized onions until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes and sauté over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in corned beef and salt and pepper to taste; it doesn’t need too much salt and pepper because the corned beef is very rich. In a separate non stick saute pan, cook the eggs in your favorite temperature. Once they are done cover the hash with the cheese. Serve on a plate and top it with the two eggs.

To make the crispy potatoes, boil whole red potatoes 90 percent. Let them cool down. Once potatoes are cold, dice them (1/4 inch). Saute potatoes with canola oil until lightly browned, season with salt and pepper to taste and then add butter to finish and get them nicely browned and crispy. Make sure there is only one layer of potatoes in the saute pan; otherwise, the steam will not let potatoes get crispy.

Gino Fazzari, chef/owner, Calderone Club: Capellini alla Caprese

  • 4 ounces capellini or angel hair pasta
  • 2 ounces prosciutto, small dice
  • 2 ounces extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 table onion, small dice
  • ½ teaspoon garlic, small dice
  • ½ tablespoon Italian parsley, rough chop
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Pinch of red pepper
  • 2 ounces Roma tomato, small dice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil, chiffonade
  • 2 ounces chardonnay
  • 4 ounces heavy cream
  • 1 ounce Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Put on stove a large pot with plenty of water to boil. When water comes to a rolling boil, add 2 tablespoons of salt. In the meantime, in a medium sauté pan, heat extra virgin olive oil about 2 minutes over medium high flame. Add prosciutto, onion, bay leaf, red pepper flakes and parsley. Sauté until onion is translucent and prosciutto renders, but not crispy, about 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for additional minute. Deglaze with chardonnay and cook out alcohol for about 1 minute. Add tomato, heavy cream and basil and cook for 2-3 minutes. When pasta is al dente, drain pasta and add to sauce. Lower heat to low, add half of Parmigiano and salt and pepper to taste. Toss well.

Serve immediately and garnish with remaining Parmigiano.

Recommended wine: Mastroberardino Greco di Tuffo

Patrick Murphy, executive chef, Le Reve: Canard a la Bourguignonne

  • 8 duck legs
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 ½ quarts chicken stock
  • 1 veg box (see below)
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large carrot
  • 4 stalks celery


  • 4 shallots
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 5 crushed peppercorns
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 bottles burgundy wine (750 ml each)

In large stock pot, combine duck legs, shallots, garlic, peppercorn, thyme and cold burgundy wine. Let marinate for 24 hours. Remove the duck from the marinade and place on resting rack to wipe the duck legs dry. In large roasting pan over high heat, add olive oil. Sear duck legs until both sides are golden brown and remove from pan, reserving for later use. Add onions, celery and carrot, and saute 10 minutes until slightly caramelized. Add flour and tomato paste. Cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent sticking. Turn heat off roasting pan and add the marinade to deglaze the roasting pan. Add chicken stock. Add the reserved seared duck legs back to the pan. Cover with foil or oven proof lid and move to 300 degree oven and braise for 2.5 hours until fork tender. Rest and cool in braising liquid until room temperature. Separate duck legs (reserve) and braising liquid, then strain liquid through strainer, return to stock pot and reduce to 2 cups, stirring constantly. Then season to taste with salt, pepper and red wine vinegar. Pour sauce over duck legs and roast in oven for 15 minutes at 300 degrees. Serve warm.

Adam Siegel, executive chef, Lake Park Bistro: Oeuf Mollet avec Champignons (fried soft boiled egg with mushrooms, frisee and black truffles)

  • 5 extra large eggs
  • 1 pound mushrooms, a variety such as oyster, shiitake, crimini
  • 1 teaspoon minced chives
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs, preferably Japanese, small or fine ground
  • 2 ounces extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 ounce truffle oil, black or white
  • Iodized salt to taste
  • Cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2 quarts canola oil, or other frying oil
  • 2 cups frisee lettuce, cleaned

Put the canola oil into a pot and heat to about 350 degrees. Bring a pot of salted water, covered, over high heat to a boil. Fill a medium bowl with ice water. When the water is at a boil, place four eggs in, cover and cook for exactly five minutes and forty-five seconds. This will give you eggs that have cooked whites and raw yolks. When cooked, remove the eggs and place in the ice water to stop the cooking. Begin peeling the eggs very gently, and place on a towel to dry. Take the remaining raw egg and crack into a small bowl. Add a teaspoon of water and salt to taste. Whisk together. Have the breadcrumbs in a separate bowl. To begin take one egg and gently place it into the breadcrumbs. Then gently place the egg into the egg wash and cover completely. Lastly place the egg back into the bowl of bread crumbs and cover completely. Repeat this with the remaining eggs. Saute the mushrooms in a pan over medium high heat in butter. Cook until nicely caramelized and season with salt and pepper. In a bowl combine the sherry vinegar, olive oil and half of the truffle oil and mix together. Add the sauteed mushrooms, frisee and chives. Place a small amount on a plate. Then fry the eggs in oil for about 45 seconds to one minute. Remove and drain on paper towels. Place on top of the mushrooms. Drizzle the eggs with the remaining truffle oil and sprinkle all with the sea salt.