51 meatless things to try in Madison before Lake Mendota thaws

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Several weeks ago I stumbled upon Andre Darlington’s blog where he listed 50 things that are quintessential Madison. And then last week I discovered this blog and a woman named Holly who took Darlington’s list on as a challenge. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. And that somebody is not me (too meat-centric). However, I have decided to riff on their idea and simultaneously one up them with my list: 51 Meatless Things to Try in Madison Before Lake Mendota Thaws. And because it is one of my favorites, I will borrow Darlington’s #15 and make it my #1.

51 Meatless Things to Try in Madison Before Lake Mendota Thaws

1) Walnut Burger at Harmony Bar (add blue cheese and fried onions)

2) Veggie Ramen at Umami Ramen and Dumpling Bar

3) Blueberry Scone at Lazy Jane’s (or Raspberry or Blackberry)

4) Whiskey Old Fashioned Press at Weary Traveler

5) Three Cup Tofu at Natt Spil (the best tofu dish in Madison, in my humble opine)

6) Peanut Butter and Jelly Bar at Batch Bakehouse

7) Sweet Potato Fries with Tarragon Mayo and Jalapeno Blackberry Jam at Alchemy

8) Margherita Pizza at Pizza Brutta

9) Popcorn at Graze

10) Cesar’s String Cheese at Willy Street Co-op

11) Black Bean Tacos at Burrito Drive (don’t forget to add pickled onions!)

12) Any Tapper (preferably post-Packer victory) at Laurel Tavern

13) Butter (really more like savory frosting) at Tornado Club (bread optional)

14) Spinach Nan at Taste of India

15) Bottle of Miller High Life and Bag of De-lish-us Chips at Old Duffer’s (a hop, skip and jump from Madison out Highway 18/151)

16) Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Avocado at Lazy Jane’s

17) Plantains at Cafe Costa Rica

18) Big Country Bread from Cress Springs Bakery at Dane Co. Farmer’s Market (tastes even better if you take it home and eat it while listening to ‘In a Big Country’ by Big Country)

19) Warm Beet Salad at Graze

20) Frites at Jacs

21) Margarita at Pasqual’s

22) Asian Slaw at Restaurant Muramoto

23) Pineapple Curry with Tofu at Lao-Laan Xang (Atwood location)

24) Rejected Truffles (any flavor) at Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier (free samples!)

25) Macaroni and Cheese at The Old Fashioned

26) Sardine Caesar* at Sardine (*has anchovies, which technically could be considered meat… I guess I like to live on the edge)

27) Bottomless Cup of Tanzanian Peaberry Coffee (and a game of cribbage or Scrabble) at EVP

28) Wedge Salad at Tornado Club

29) The Ramblin’ Vegan’s Chili at Weary Traveler

30) Sake Bomb at Karaoke Kid (where I once witnessed a rousing rendition of aforementioned ‘In a Big Country’ in the VIP lounge)

31) Bella Burger at Alchemy

32) Steamed Tofu Dumplings at Ha Long Bay

33) Dark & Stormy at Cafe Costa Rica

34) Aloo Chana at Taste of India

35) Onion Bagel  at Bagels Forever

36) Sexy Fries at Mickey’s Tavern

37) The Smell at Fraboni’s (just walk in and inhale.. you’re welcome)

38) Frozen Cheese Pizza at Crystal Corner

39) Kale, Lemon, Green Apple and Ginger Juice at Willy Street Co-op Juice Bar

40) 2% Latte at Bradbury’s* (*only attempt if you have the moxie to attempt the maze of hipsterdom)

41) Maize Salad at Alchemy

42) Egg Sandwich (hold the bacon) at Crema Cafe (so good I had to eat it twice this weekend)

43) McLovin Irish Red Ale at Vintage Brewing Co. (go on a Wednesday and check out the Madison Blues Co-op blues jam!)

44) Vegetarian Antipasta Platter at Greenbush Bar

45) Whole Wheat and Cheddar Scone from Cress Springs Bakery at Dane Co. Farmer’s Market

46) Mediterranean Plate at Jacs

47) Red Beans and Rice at New Orleans Take-Out

48) Veggie Empanada at Victory

49) Cucumber Salad at Sa-Bai Thong

50) Gruyere-Filled Roll at Batch Bakehouse

51) Rathskeller Ale and Bag of Popcorn at Memorial Union (watch the ice thaw)

Did I forget anything? Please add any favorites in the comments!

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May Day

I love May. The magnolia trees are blossoming, summer is on its way and my birthday is in a couple of weeks.

When I woke up Sunday morning I looked outside, saw the sunshine and decided that I wanted to make dinner for some friends whom I hadn’t seen awhile. They said yes. I love improptu, Sunday night dinner parties. A couple of weeks ago when I was in Seattle (it feels like a lifetime ago already) I got to meet one of my writing idols, Ms Molly Wizenberg. I will save the details for a future post, but it was a magical moment that left me buzzing for awhile. In honor of this encounter, I decided to make a meal from her book, A Homeade Life.

There is this French yogurt cake that I had been wanting to make (and when I re-read the description on Sunday afternoon Molly wrote that it is the sort of cake that French grandmothers make on Sunday afternoons. Well, perfect…) and I flipped through the index for a main entree. A spring salad caught my eye. Radishes, check. Cilantro, check. Feta cheese, check. Molly mentioned that she likes to serve this as a light dinner along with a hunk of bread or roasted potatoes. Done.

May Day Dinner Party

First course: White wine, beer, green olives, crackers

Main course: Sliced spring salad with avocado and feta (pages 246-247), Bellingham roasted potatoes (look for this recipe tomorrow), wholewheat sourdough bread, beer

Dessert: French-style yogurt cake with lemon (pages 204-205)

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French-style Yogurt Cake with Lemon

From A Homeade Life, by Molly Wizenberg

For the cake:

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

pinch of salt

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1/2 cup well-stirred plain whole-milk yogurt

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil, such as canola

For the syrup:

1/4 cup powered sugar, sifted

1/4 lemon juice

For the icing:

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

3 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, sugar, and eggs, stirring until well blended. Add the flour, baking powder, and zest, mixing to just combine. Add the oil and stir to incorporate. At first, it will look like a horrible, oily mess, but keep stirring, and it will come together into a smooth batter. Pour and scrape the batter into a buttered 9-inch round cake pan (after buttering, I sometimes line the bottom with a round of wax or parchment paper, and then I butter that too).

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cake feels springy to the touch and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Do not overbake.

Cool cake on a rack for about 20 minutes; then turn it out of the pan. Combine the syrup ingedients in a small bowl and spoon it gently over the warm cake. The glaze will be thin and will soak in like a syrup. Cool completely.

Combine the icing ingredients. Whisk well to dissolve the sugar completely. Spoon the icing over the cooled cake.

Serve immediately- the icing will be soft and a bit juicy- or wait until the icing has firmed up, about 1 hour. Whichever way you like.

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Happy May.

The luck of the Kashubs

I’m not Irish, but I am a Kashub. And I am also about a week behind with this post. Time to get caught up and stay up. But back to St. Patrick’s Day…

The weekend before St. Patrick’s Day I listened to a voicemail from Jimmy, a dear (Irish) family friend. Jimmy said that my (Scandinavian) mother had called him up to tell him that I would be all alone on the holiday and would they invite me if they were going to do anything to celebrate? To tell you the truth, I had not yet pondered my alone-ness on St. Patrick’s Day (Dan was on the road with Clovis Mann), but when faced with this apparently sad reality, at least according to my mother, I realized that, indeed, I would be alone on this day of all days. And so this is how I found myself trotting down the bike path on a warm, muggy almost-Spring evening last Thursday wearing my cowboy boots and favorite green top and swinging a brown paper bag containing a block of Kerrygold Irish cheddar cheese from the Willy Street Co-op.

Upon arriving at the party, I was delighted to find a warm group of family friends and a selection of delicious appetizers, including olives, grapes, crackers and cheese, and, of course, beer. The soda bread was out of the oven and the cabbage sat waiting on the counter for its’ turn.

The dinner menu included corned beef for the meat-eaters and vegetarian-cooked potatoes, carrots and cabbage (with a side of horseradish) for those of us who avoid the meat. The soda bread, with butter, was hearty and delicious. Dessert included lime popsicles, various flavors of green-shaded gelato and sherbet and cookies. We talked about politics (how could we not?) and St. Patrick Days past (I couldn’t make some of these stories up if I tried…). It was a lovely evening. Thanks to my hosts- and my mother- for inviting me.

Saucepans and the single girl

With Dan on the road with Clovis Mann this weekend, I found myself cooking for one. When this happens I always think about my mom’s cookbook from the 1960s entitled, ‘Saucepans and the Single Girl.’ I have always thought that this is one of the all-time greatest cookbook titles. While the inspiration for the book was to bait bachelors with downhome cooking (think beef stroganoff), I just wanted to make myself a healthy and delicious meal that would go well with the bottle of red wine (“Wisconsites love Malbec,” I was told) that I had just picked up at Star Liquor. Not able to get enough of roasted cauliflower lately, I whipped a pasta dish that featured this delicious vegetable, along with my old favorite, kale. Addicted to olives, I added those, too. Here is my recipe for Roasted Cauliflower and Kale Pasta:

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Roasted Cauliflower and Kale Pasta

serves 1-2

The triumverate of ingredients

Ingredients:

A couple handfuls of cauliflower

olive oil

5 stalks kale

black olives

red pepper flakes

coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

whole wheat pasta

freshly shredded parmesan cheese

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Toss cauliflower with olive oil and place on baking sheet. Roast the cauliflower until it starts to brown (about 15-20 minutes).

Roasted cauliflower

While the cauliflower is roasting, boil a pot of water. Wash the kale and rip it into bite-sized pieces and when the water is boiling, steam the kale until tender (about 2-3 minutes).

Steamed kale

Place kale aside, salt the boiling water and add the whole wheat pasta (I like to use penne but only had linguine the other night, so I used that in a pinch.) When using straight pasta I have heard that a general rule is to use about a quarter-sized handful per person. While the pasta is cooking, place the roasted cauliflower (along with the olive oil from the baking sheet) in a skillet, turn the heat on medium-low and season with red pepper flakes, freshly ground pepper and coarse salt.

Cauliflower eagerly awaiting some salt and pepper

Add the kale to the pan and give it a stir. After eating about 17 olives and taking a sip of wine, slice up a few olives (I like to use the ‘whiskey’ olives from the Willy Street co-op olive bar- I don’t know the official name) and throw those into the skillet. After the pasta has cooked a few minutes, drain it and add it to the skillet. Give the pasta another stir and adjust any seasonings. Serve the pasta with some freshly shredded parmesan cheese on top.

Yum

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I recommend serving this meal with a glass (or two) of wine, a crusty piece of bread and a few squares of this candy bar for dessert:

Super yum

A meal fit for a single girl.

P.S. If you need a movie suggestion, I think this winter meal goes great with ‘Beautiful Girls.’ If you haven’t seen this movie in awhile (or never) it is one of my all-time favorites. With Matt Dillon and Michael Rapaport as snowplow drivers, this movie features ice shanties, whiskey drinking, a great soundtrack (including ‘Will it Go Round in Circles,’ by Billy Preston) and a bar scene where Uma Thurman mentions one of my favorite holidays which happens to be coming up this week (hint: it’s not Valentine’s Day). Speaking of Valentine’s Day, I’m off to Monroe Street to buy a heart-shaped cookie cutter and a sifter. I’m making cookies and this time I’m going to do it right… Happy Sunday.

Snow Day Eve Pizza Par-tay

I was prepared to do a snow dance.

It worked in 1991 when my best friend, Meagan, and I took a break from listening to our Vanilla Ice cassette tape to run outside and chant to the snow gods. Back then we had to wait it out until the morning to find out if school was cancelled… Watching the banner across the bottom of the television we scoffed at the A’s (when does Adams-Friendship ever have school), waited painfully through the B’s, C’s and D’s and felt a rush of adrenaline as they approached the M’s. Usually we were disappointed as Madison was skipped over and we quickly found out that kids in Mineral Point, Monona and Monroe (yay Berghoff) got to stay home for the day. But in ’91 our snow dance did the trick and we had two whole days off of school to play Scattergories at Meagan’s house.

This time around a snow dance wasn’t necessary. These days they take all the fun out of it and announce snow days the evening before- in fact, as I was leaving school at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday I was informed over the loudspeaker that schools would be closed on Wednesday. It was a little snowy and windy as I drove home from school, but when I drove home from the gym around 7 p.m. we were in the midst of a full-blown blizzard. Luckily Dan had obtained provisions at Star Liquor and Willy Street Co-op and we were prepared for a snowed-in pizza party.

Onions, olives, Muir Glen sauce, chili paste and cheese

 

Rustic crust
Olive-y pie
Roasted broccoli on the side

While we waited for the pizza to bake we played a game of cribbage, enjoyed an Ale Asylum Ambergeddon and listened to the wind howl. When the pizza was ready we served it up with some roasted broccoli (toss broccoli and olive oil on a baking sheet and roast in a 375 degree-oven for about 10-12 minutes, sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper and squeeze on some fresh lemon juice)… Yum. Dessert was a cup of tea and a three chocolate cookie cookies (recipe coming soon).

It's hard to leave when you can't find the door

After a breakfast the next morning of transcendent eggs and french press coffee, I was ready to face what the blizzard had to show for itself. The first challenge was getting out the front door. While it may not have had the same mystique as snow days past,  it was a snow day nonetheless. An occasion to be celebrated; a day to remember. Happy Snow Day.

Taco Friday: Roasted cauliflower and black beans

I have fallen in love with cauliflower.

Cauliflower is the new kale

Lately I have been putting it on a baking sheet, drizzling it with olive oil and roasting it in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes or so. Right before serving I shake on sea salt and a couple of turns of freshly ground pepper. Yum.

Last Sunday night after the Packers won the NFC Championship, Dan and I took our now traditional ‘Packer March’ to the Laurel Tavern for a quick victory celebration. Upon returning home famished, we ordered my favorite take-out in town, Burrito Drive. I always get the same order (they even have it in the computer): Build your own tacos- flour tortillas, black beans, asadero cheese, red pickled onions, romaine lettuce, green salsa, and seasonal vegetable. When the delivery man arrived with our food, I squealed with delight to discover that the ‘seasonal vegetable’ was cauliflower.

After a Thursday night out at Alchemy for dinner and a couple of acoustic sets by Dan and Pat (Clovis Mann duo), Dan and I decided to have a mellow Friday evening at home. Inspired by my tacos from Burrito Drive, we made roasted cauliflower and black bean tacos. I can’t quite call this a recipe, more of an assembling of ingredients- just in case you want some suggestions, these are my favorite tortillas, fillings and toppings:

Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Tortillas, Eden Black Beans and cheese
Red cabbage, avocado, onions, and yellow bell peppers
Roasted cauliflower
Sour cream, fresh Willy Street Co-op salsa and sriracha

I like to mash up the avocado with chopped onions and fill the tortilla with the veggies, shredded cheese, black beans (that have been heated up), and avocado mixture. On Friday we decided to assemble the tacos and then grill them in a non-stick pan:

Right before eating, pile on the sour cream and salsa (and hot sauce- if you are into the heat- which I am). Enjoy.

Happy Sunday.

Transcendent eggs

Okay my friends, this is going to be a quickie because I have a Packer playoff game to get ready to watch, but I made something so delicious for breakfast this morning (afternoon technically) that I feel that I need to share it right away. I don’t think that I have ever seen Dan so excited about something that I have made to eat before- he even declared that it transcended eggs and cheese and became a “miracle.” Whoa.

My mom got this recipe from her college roomate and it is called “Baked Roquefort Eggs.” My mom would make them for me when I was growing up when I begged her to… they are not the healthiest, but so delicious!

Ready to go into the oven

Here is how my mom wrote the recipe in the cookbook that she made for me about 10 years ago: “You need an oven proof dish- custard cup size. I put about a tablespoon of butter in the dish. Add 1/4 teaspoon spaghetti sauce seasoning. Then I put this in the oven briefly until it melts. Then crumble bleu cheese or roquefort cheese (amount is your choice) into the melted butter. Crack the egg and add it to the dish. Put a little more butter on the top (optional), salt and pepper and let it bake 10-12 minutes in a hot 450 degree oven. The 12 minute time will give you a hard yolk. This is good with toast.”

When I woke up this morning I knew that I wanted to make these for breakfast- Dan gave me four custard-size dishes for Christmas for the purpose of making these eggs- but I had neither bleu cheese nor spaghetti sauce seasoning. Instead of running to the store, I decided to adapt the recipe. My first instinct was to use a hard parmesan cheese that I had purchased at the Willy Street C0-op. Then I grabbed a softer white cheese and pondered that for a moment before finding a container of shredded parmesan that my mom had left behind in our refrigerator. Upon discovering that the shredded cheese was from Illinois I disgustingly put it back in the fridge- you do not use cheese from Illinois on Packer game day. Searching further I opened some moldy-looking feta (when my mom comes for Christmas from Oklahoma she brings the contents of her refrigerator to merge with our fridge here and always leaves me some goodies behind), threw it away and returned to my original plan of the Wisconsin parmesan cheese. It was a good call. Instead of the spaghetti sauce seasoning, I found some Country French Vinagrette seasoning from Penzey’s Spices. Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly as written (except I used about half the amount of butter).

Ready to eat

We enjoyed these eggs with a piece of whole wheat toast, as my mom suggested, and coffee. Cue Dan declaring the bit about these eggs transcending food. Yum. I am off for a quick run to burn off some of that butter and then it is Packer time. Go Pack Go. Happy Sunday!