Crispy Cottage Fries

A pretty simple, always delicious recipe for a cold Saturday night. The trick is in the beauty of the creamy sweet Wisconsin Russet Potato. This russet produces lovely, crispy fries that are soft inside and taste even better when watching high school hockey state tournaments!

Crispy Cottage Fries
6-7 Wisconsin White Russet Potatoes
1/2 – 1 stick salted butter, or vegetable oil
Salt
Pepper
Garlic Powder
Paprika
Onion Powder

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Scrub the potatoes clean with steel wool. Cut in wedges about 1/4 inch thick and place into mixing bowl. Melt butter and pour to taste over cut potatoes, add salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika and onion powder to taste and toss well.

Spread sparingly on large ungreased sheet pans (may use parchment paper) and place in hot oven. Let potatoes roast for 30-45 min., or until the bottom of the potatoes brown. Turn potatoes and contue roasting until crisp on the outside, and soft inside. Serve.

Italian Pork Loin with Polenta

This great Italian recipe comes to us from a famous New York restauranteer, “Mother Leone.” imageThe introduction to Luisa Leone came through a well-worn copy of her son Gene’s  1967 cookbook, perched high on a bookshelf in a dusty antique store in northern Wisconsin.  The teal cover, missing its dust jacket, protected old, authentic recipes, the kind that pass from one generation to the next.

Leone’s was a New York institution, now gone, but still very much missed.

Luisa Leone entered the restaurant business in 1905, her son Gene writes in the introduction. Just a year earlier, she was only dreaming about running a restaurant. That changed the night Leone’s husband Geralomo invited fifty members of the Metropolitan Opera to their home for Luisa’s birthday, including the great opera tenor Enrico Caruso. Caruso, himself, encouraged her to make the restaurant a reality and convinced Geralomo to agree.

Luisa’s resaurant began in her converted living room, then grew to twenty seats, and then to a larger space, then an even larger space in the heart of New York’s theatrical district on West 48th Street, and to eventually to fill two buildings and seat 1,500 guests, serve more than 6,000 dinners on busy evenings. Leone’s had become a multi-million dollar affair that catered to the famous, including W.C.. Fields, George M. Cohan, Presidents Truman and Eisenhower (who wrote a forward for the book). After Luisa died in 1944, her sons continued the business. Later, one son, Gene took over with his wife.  The place became a New York staple, serving Luisa’s cooking far into the early 1990s. Sadly the restaurant closed, but the recipes, of course, live on.

Here’s Leone’s Pork Chops with Spaghetti, except substituted inch-thick sliced pork loin for Luisa’s pork chops and served her sauce and pork over her wonderful polenta instead of pasra.

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Italian Pork Loin with Polenta
3 tbsp.. olive oil
1 1/2 c. butter, melted
2 lg. garlic cloves, mashed
1/3 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
pinch crushed red pepper (optional)
4 lean slices of pork loin 1″ thick (Leone called for pork chops)
1 tsp. crumbled, dried rosmary
1/2 tsp. salt
4 med. ripe tomatoes or 2 c. canned peeled plum tomatoes, chopped
10 fresh parsley sprigs, leaves only, chopped
1/4 c. fresh, shredded Parmesan cheese
Polenta, recipe follows (Leone called fo 3/4 lb. spaghetti cooked in salted water 10 min.)

Combine oil and half the butter in a large heavy-bottomed skillet and heat garlic black and red pepper 2 min. Sprinkle pork with rosemary and brown in the pan, 5 min. per side. Lower heat to medium, add tomatoes, salt and parsley. Cover and simmer 20 min. Uncover and simmer 20 min. more, until pork is done and tender. Taste for salt.

While cooking prepare spaghetti as in the original recipe, or try the polenta below.

Loeone’s Polenta
1 1/2 c. corn meal
1 1/2 c. water
4 c. boiling water
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. butter
Grated parmesan cheese

Soak the cornmeal in the cold water. Stir it into the boiling water, add salt and butter. Stir constantly and simmer 20 min. to a creamy consistancy. Taste, add salt if needed. Once polenta is cooked, spread it on a warm plate, sprinkle with a little cheese and arrange the cooked pork and sauce on the polenta, sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Inspired Linguine with Italian Ham

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I have the 1963 The New Good Housekeeping Cookbook, which is great for proper ways to slice meats and entertain. But on page 3, it warns the reader, “No recipe, even Good Housekeeping’s, can rate raves if you fail to follow it with meticulous care.” Problem is, hmm… I first read that sentence this morning, 12 hours after heavily reworking, changing and failing to “meticulously” follow the recipe for Baked Italian Ham and Spaghetti. I am grateful for the inspiration, though, because it turned out amazing! Here’s the revision.

Inspired Linguine with Italian Ham
Ingredients
¼ tbsp. plus 1 tbsp. olive oil
1 lg. onion, cut in thin rings
4 small stalks celery, cut in long slivers to mimic linguine
4 cloves garlic, divided
2-3 tsp. thyme
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Hard Rolls, Milwaukee Style #1

photo 5The first Milwaukee Hard Rolls recipe is exactly as we remember! It has that great dry crusty top and the cornmeal bottoms we love, and comes from Gordon King a Milwaukee baker who ran Wilbert’s baker, which closed back in 1993. Note: It requires high protein bread flour and a little more yeast.  And, while the directions make the tops of these rolls plain, feel free to top rolls with sesame seeds or poppy seeds.

An article, with his recipe for hard rolls appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and is preserved here: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1298&dat=20050511&id=VS4zAAAAIBAJ&sjid=dggGAAAAIBAJ&pg=6793,3364570

Wilbert’s Bakery/Gordon and Barbara King’s Authentic German Hard Rolls
Makes about 2 dozen rolls
Sponge: 3 tbsp. active dry yeast (4 packets)
2 3/4 c. lukewarm water
3 tbsp. sugar

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Bernice Zurawski’s Bread

Screen Shot 2015-01-10 at 1.27.54 PM Here is my Polish grandmother’s signature bread, and no one in the family, no one, had the recipe. She was an elegant lady who also was a fabulous cook, including dishes such as tender venison steak and walnut-stuffed turkey.  But she made this always round, hard crust bread almost daily, sometimes adding raisins and topping with sugar. This bread was treasured, especially at my mother’s swanky Christmas parties. And, one summer, a grandson entered her bread at the Wisconsin State Fair, where it promptly won a blue ribbon.

My grandmother never used a recipe for her bread, of course, and would gently laugh while raising her shoulders when we asked how to make it. But we could watch.

This “close-as-we-can-get” recipe comes through my uncle and aunt. He was the second youngest of her nine children, and saw her make bread countless times. I’m so grateful, for as I follow it, grandma comes to life, there in her small kitchen, brewing strong black coffee as she scalds the milk with butter and sugar, then softens yeast for her bread.  Then she stops, turns, and in her wonderful Polish accent, asks me to “wait a minute,” as she pulls ginger cookies down from the pantry for me before turning back to her bread.

Bernice Zurawski’s Bread
Ingredients
½ lb. butter, and more to generously grease the bread rising bowl and bread pan
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Oxtail Stew, an heirloom recipe

This is a classy, rich, amazing dish. It’s an heirloom, for it was handed down to me from my Polish mom from her mom. But it is one of those, “they never used a recipe,” recipe. That means it was assumed you had seen how it was made before, tasted it, knew what you were doing and, certainly, made it slightly differently each time. (And you serve it on top of mashed   potatoes or wide egg noodles.)

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This “unwritten” recipe for Oxtail Stew is really just the “bones” of the dish, the basic instruction. The cook uses it as a start, then simply tastes and adjusts as he goes along. So feel free to take this instruction, and note of some of my italic adjustments I made today when preparing this stew; then make your own. ~But know, the next time you, or I, make it, it will be different!

Anyway, I introduced this Stew to my hubby when we were dating, and swear, that introduction led to the 20 years of marital bliss we celebrate today!

Oxtail Stew
2 lbs. oxtails, cut in 1½” lengths
flour for dredging1 med. onion, sliced
1 can condensed beef broth
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Carol Zurawski’s Escalloped Potatoes and Ham

escallop

Mom’s recipe, as I remember it.  My mother is a tremendous cook, but is ever improving and challenging her cooking. The dishes and appetizers she serves when entertaining rival any four-star restaurant; her guests are always floored.  But, somehow, the things she prepared just for us, when we were kids, are the dishes loved the best.

Carol Zurawski’s Escalloped Potatoes and Ham
1½ lb. potatoes, peel and thinly slice as needed to keep from browning
1-1½ white onion, thinly sliced
1-1½ lb. ham, thinly sliced
Pepper
½-1 c. flour
Brick, Swiss, or Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded (note: may use just about any variety of hard cheese, or use three cheeses and include parmesan cheese)
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Beer Chili

This was a simple recipe we hijacked in college and turned into “Beer Chili,” using long-neck bottles of Red, White and Blue Beer.  Hey! Don’t laugh, we went to school in Milwaukee and there was a sale on long-necks! No doubt, there was a lot more beer poured into this chili then, than what the recipe prescribed.

Beer ChilI
1 lb. lean hamburger
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 can dark red kidney beans
1½ tbsp. chili powder, add more to taste
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Hearty Chili with an Italian Twist

From Jerry’s Foods, in Edina, Minnesota and Sanibel, Florida

Hearty Chili with an Italian Twist
Ingredients
1 lb. bulk Italian Sausage
1 lb. lean ground beef
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Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Sauce

Mom clipped this recent recipe published by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and hand-noted on the margin that the Horseradish Sauce is “v. good.”

Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Sauce
1 (3-4 lb.) whole beef tenderloin
1 tbsp finely ground black pepper
1/4 c. olive oil
2 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
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Pastry for Two Pie or Tart Crusts

Pie crust used to scare me. That finally changed when I found a heavy marble rolling pin and used butter instead of shortening. Older cooks swear by lard, so feel free to use that too.

Take time getting the butter, flour and salt to the right consistency, but once ice water is added, “the show is on,” do not over handle. This is my current favorite recipe, flaky, crisp and great for anything calling for a crust.

Pastry crust

Ingredients
3 c. all-purpose flour
2 lg. pinches of Kosher salt
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Vintage Lasagna, Layered with Mushrooms, Italian Sausage and More … from Mom

This is a challenge. A retro 1970s lasagna, that includes delicious layers upon layers of mushrooms, Italian sausage, ground beef, cheese and pasta, but, oh my gosh, no instruction!

Trumpeter Hill has re-created some instruction here, but recommends chefs feel free to adjust the quantities, and add their own spice (oregano, basil, garlic) to taste and as desired.

Also, the recipe calls for cottage cheese, and that could be substituted with ricotta cheese. Trumpeter Hill posts the original recipe, but acknowledges there is a continuing debate over which is preferable: 1. Cottage cheese adds additional flavor, but leaves liquid in the lasagna.  2.  Ricotta cheese provides a firm lasagna, and more appetizing appearance. Feel free to post your preference!

Lasagna, Layered with Mushrooms, Italian Sausage and more!
16 Italian sausages
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Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken

I love Vietnamese food and found this recipe to be a keeper…restaurant quality!

It was adapted from a recipe that appeared in Food & Wine Magazine in an October 2007 article titled “Simply, Tasty Vietnamese Cooking,” and there are other great recipes there too.  The article an be found at http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/simple-tasty-vietnamese-cooking.

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken
2 tbsp. Asian fish sauce
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp. curry powder
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