Thursday, May 28, 2009

Beer and Beef: A Real Wisconsin Tradition

Grilling season is upon us, and you might think there are only so many things you can do to make a burger interesting: add some herbs or seasoning salt, or top it with some mushrooms and Swiss cheese. Honestly, that’s pretty generous adornment for the plastic-wrapped, factory-farmed beef that most of us stock up on at the grocery store. At Burgers and Brew: The Taste is Local, dressing up a burger is what it’s all about—and the locally grown meats and veggies deserve no less. This second annual fundraiser for REAP (Research, Action, Education and Policy on Food Group) showcases the talents of some of Madison’s finest chefs, brewers and farmers. The pasture-raised meats and fresh vegetables are mixed and flame grilled by chefs from some of Madison’s favorite restaurants, including L’Etoile, Lombardino’s and The Old Fashioned. Wisconsin’s beer-making heritage shines at Burgers and Brew as local brewers, such as Furthermore, New Glarus and Tyranena, offer an assortment of craft beer to wash it all down.

If you went last year, you might have devoured Lombardino’s lamb burger with Gruyere and a fried quail egg, savored Bluephies’ sweet and sour pork burger topped with a crisp slaw, or wolfed down the ever popular Bad Breath Burger from the Weary Traveler. It is hard to imagine how the chefs might embellish this year’s burgers, but it sure will be fun finding out. Your $25 ticket will get you three mini-burgers paired with three beer pours (don’t worry, additional beer is available for purchase), plus an afternoon of live music and fun activities. Ticket sales benefit REAP’s Buy Fresh Buy Local program, which works to connect local restaurants and other food buyers with local farmers. This event takes a classic summer pastime to a whole new level, and may inspire you to bypass the grocery store and head to one of Madison’s many farmers’ markets this summer to gather ingredients for your own culinary masterpiece.

Event details:
Saturday May 30th, 2009 from 4-7pm
Capital Brewery Bier Garten 7734 Terrace Ave Middleton, WI

For tickets or more information:

Friday, May 22, 2009

Dexter's Pub

Our Neighborhood Eats (Published in the East Emerson Neighborhood Association Newsletter, May 2009.)

by Otehlia Cassidy

My one-year-old daughter has become completely attached to her light blue winter coat. I expected that she might cling to something for comfort—her lemon-yellow baby blanket, or her doll with shimmering fairy wings, perhaps. But I never thought she’d bond so heavily with her Land’s End coat. I can’t blame her. The soft fleece collar and quilted down squares cocoon her body and contain her roller coaster toddler emotions, all while allowing her to brave the Wisconsin elements. She even wears it to bed.

As adults, we have usually moved away from the security of blankets and dolls, or coats, and lean toward other things to sooth ourselves. I would hazard a guess that for many of us certain foods and drinks can provide us with the same sense of warmth and comfort as a winter coat. Dexter’s Pub, poised at the corner of North Street and E. Johnson, provides both, and does it well.

The food menu offers many pub standards, but proffers a few welcome surprises as well.
The appetizer selection includes heaping portions of waffle fries and onion rings, which you might find at any bar, but also offers chili-garlic fries, which you won’t. The combination of chili and garlic make most foods taste better, and fried potatoes are no exception. Dexter’s offers six “classic” burgers, which use wonderfully innovative ingredients to enliven a familiar food. The Santa Fe burger, topped with spicy Jack cheese and sauteed onions and peppers, delivers some heat. Or you can order the Defibrillator, which stuffs ham and bacon, as well as two cheeses and an egg, under the bun.

There are numerous sandwiches to choose from as well, including Italian Beef and grilled cheese; add bacon and mushrooms for not-like-your-mom-made flavor. Dexter’s owner Nick claims to make Madison’s best corned beef, which is slow cooked in beer. Soups and salads round out the menu: try the Chicken BLT salad, with grilled chicken breast, bacon, and tomato served on crisp mixed greens for a light meal.

The beer selection is superb and features many locally made craft beers, from breweries such as Ale Asylum and New Glarus, as well as imports, and other domestic brews. At least 10 tap beers are offered at time, and the selection is frequently rotated. It is a true consolation knowing that you are simultaneously supporting local breweries and a locally owned restaurant.

The lining that seamlessly binds Dexter’s well-chosen offerings is the atmosphere. The bar area, which is separated from the laminate booths and tables by a half-height wall, fills with people at night. Dexter’s offers something for everyone. A popcorn cart fits snuggly in one corner, and lively chatter cuts through the noise of flat-screen TVs, which broadcast sports and news. A shuffleboard table stretches along a side wall, out of the way of people playing the weekly poker or trivia games. Dexter’s is a great place to meet friends and surround oneself in the comfort of our neighborhood pub.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mango Ginger Upside-down Coffee Cake

Mango-Ginger Upside-down Coffee Cake

Yum!! I always forget how easy upside down cake is to make, and how pretty it is to serve. This one was fun because the streusel topping functioned as a crust when the cake was inverted. The tart flavor of the mango really balanced the pecan streusel topping (or bottom in this case.) I developed this recipe for a Mexican brunch menu that is forthcoming.


1 Tbsp butter melted
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
½ tsp grated dried ginger
1 cup sliced peeled mango (about 1 medium)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
5 Tbsp of butter softened
3 large egg whites
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
a pinch of nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup of milk

Streusel Topping:
from the Joy of Cooking

2/3 cup flour
2/3 cup finely chopped pecans
2/3 cup brown sugar
5 T. melted butter
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. salt

Mix these ingredients in food processor until well blended, but still coarse.

To Make Cake:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Coat bottom of a 9 inch round cake pan with 1 Tbsp melted butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar and dried ginger. Arrange mango slices spoke-like over brown sugar mixture; set aside.

3. Beat granulated sugar and 5 Tbs of butter at medium speed of a mixer until well blended. Add egg whites, fresh ginger root and vanilla, beating until will blended. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix after each addition. Pour batter into prepared pan. Top with pecan streusel topping.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes on wire rack. Loosen cake from sides of pan. Place a plate upside down on the top of the cake. Invert onto plate, let cool and serve.