Baking Up Hope This Holiday Season

Marcus Restaurants donates 500 cookies to Hope House

MILWAUKEE – December 22, 2011 – For the third year in a row, chefs from Marcus
Restaurants are helping to make this holiday season a little sweeter for those in need. This
morning, they donated 500 cookies to Hope House in Milwaukee. Hope House is an
emergency and transitional living facility serving those in need of food and shelter.
Hope House is sharing the treats with its residents and patrons of its food pantry. The
recipe for the White Chocolate Chip Chewy Gingerbread Cookies was provided by Anna
Baird-Luedke, winner of Milwaukee’s Favorite Cookie Contest, which was held by Marcus
Restaurants. For winning the contest, she will receive dinner and an overnight stay at one
of Milwaukee’s Marcus Hotels.
Marcus Restaurants Chef Brian Frakes and Pastry Chef Jennifer Carlson say their staff
sampled all of the recipes and the chewy gingerbread cookies came out on top. Frakes
says his favorite part of the contest is the chance to help others. “We took time to bake
and deliver these cookies not only because it was a really great recipe, but also because
they were going to an amazing organization,” says Frakes. “Hope House is a true
community supporter and we were honored to play a small part in helping to make the
season a little brighter for its guests.”
Marcus Restaurants would like to thank Roundy’s Supermarkets and ThirdCoast Digest
for co-sponsoring the cookie donation. For more information, please contact April Dart at
262.523.3900 ex. 29.

The Sparkling Season

Heather Kanter-Kowal

I am a geek for sparkling wines.  This is one of my very favorite seasons as there are so MANY occasions to elegantly sip Champagne and share toasts with my friends and family.  I cannot imagine a Christmas Eve dinner at my house without a few bottles of something bubbly chilling in my outdoor cellar (AKA-the snow drift on my patio), patient a Christmas morning without Mimosas and waffles, or a tiring but rewarding night at the restaurant on New Year’s Eve without toasting at midnight with my battle weary co-workers.  Here are a few of my favorite brut Champagnes and few other international sparklers that make me feel festive!

  • Krug Grand Cuvee Brut of Reims, ampoule Champagne.  As my pals at the American Club used to say, “No Krug? No thanks!” ( usually when being offered anything else bubbly).  If a budget is of no concern to you, this is the real deal.  This is the bottle for when you really have something fabulous to celebrate!  The Grand Cuvee is made from all three permitted grapes of the Champagne region, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, but is predominately based on crazy good Chardonnay.  This is a more full bodied and bold style of Champagne that screams for osetra caviar.
  • Heidsieck & Co. Monopole “Blue Top” Brut of Epernay, Champagne.  I recently tasted this again for the first time in years at the sparkling wine event that we hosted at Mason Street Grill on Monday night.  Really impressed with the depth and quality of this wine!  Buttery, toasty, with baked bread, pear and apricot notes with hint of smokiness.  Pinot Noir is the dominant grape in this cuvee.  A dash easier to locate than Krug, and a great deal more affordable.
  • Argyle Brut of Willamette Valley, Oregon.  Made from classic Champagne region grapes using classic Champagne production methods, this is a fun number from here in the States.  Their entry level brut is bright and racy with flavors of apple, lemon, and more of that baked bread nose.  Delightful and crisp, yet again, more budget friendly.  If you want to try something really special, track down their “Extended Tirage”, and taste it side by side with your favorite vintage Champagne.  Prepare to be shocked.
  • “Naked on Roller Skates” by Some Young Punks of South Australia.  I wonder sometimes if that name were in French if it would still seem as naughty… This bubbly is made from Shiraz and Mataro grapes.  Yes, this can happen.  No, this is not a sweet wine.  It has a darker reddish/pinkish color than you may imagine, and is dry yet balanced with flavors of red berries, spices and dark fruits.   Bring this to a party as a hostess gift, I dare you.  Your bottle will be an unwitting topic of conversation ALL NIGHT.

Cheers!

Heather Kanter-Kowal

How I Stopped Loathing, and Started Loving the Screwcap

Heather Kanter-Kowal

I am a sommelier, decease and my most important job is to recommend the right wine for the right meal for the right guest at the right price.  After a thoughtful question and answer session with my diners, I will go to my cellar and produce a bottle that has been agreed to meet their specific parameters and desires.  Some nights, recipe the bottle is sealed with a screwcap….oh, the horror!  The husband looks nervously at his wife…she looks with scorn at the bottle.  “We don’t drink cheap wine”…”I like the romance of a cork being pulled”…”Is this really going to be any good?”…

I’m ready and braced for this level of distaste and realize that they are now questioning my sanity as a lady in fine dining restaurant that have the audacity to recommend this plonk to enjoy with their delightful dinner.   I like to take that  time to share this story, and it was a tragic one.

A few years ago, I went on a lengthy tour of Europe with my family, thanks to my Riesling loving Mom.  I was already a student of all things vino and was excited that I would have the chance to collect some bottles that I could not buy in Milwaukee.  Mind you, this was in the olden days when you could still fly with luggage stuffed with liquids.  Shampoo, contact solution, Absinthe, Bordeaux, who cares?  I loaded up my backpack (and that of my siblings) with every bottle that I could afford to bring back.  I treated these wines like treasures when I was back home.  They were stored in the coolest darkest places, gently resting on their sides, and absolutely not disturbed until the evenings that I had declared that this was the right year to open this bottle.

A few delightful bottles and then….the duds.  The  soul-crushing experience of pulling that cork and having the smell of musty cardboard waft up at my face.  These bottles were  affected by Trichloroanisole (TCA for short or “cork taint”) and I would never be able to enjoy them.  TCA is a nasty fungal metabolite that won’t harm a wine drinker, but destroys the taste of anything that resembles wine.  Funny thing is, is has a keen attraction to natural cork, and is quite rarely found in bottles that are sealed with a screwcap.  I had brought from overseas, and cherished three bottles ofBordeauxthat were rendered useless simply because of the way the bottle had been sealed.

My mind was open to trying something new.  I had also turned my nose up at bottles with screwcap tops for years, for the same reasons that people give me funny looks when I bring it to the table now…”Gee, this must be garbage”.   I discovered that quite a few top Aussie wineries were sending their wine over sans cork. New Zealand was on-board, sending fresh, clean and crisp Sauvignon  Blancs. California“Cult” Cabernet Sauvignon producers like Plumpjack  got in the game. Washington & Oregon are sending out gorgeous high-end juice without natural corks.  Lately, even Europe, the root of my sorrows on this topic, has started to send over selections capped with screwcaps.  I am not going to hold my breath and expect Chateau Petrus to change their ways, but I applaud the move to send out less funky, musty wine to the consumers.    Vive le screwcap, you aren’t just for plonk anymore!

Cheers!

Wine Swirls again, with the Pfister Sommelier

My name is Heather Kanter-Kowal and I am the Certified Sommelier and Assistant Manager of the Mason Street Grill in the Historic Pfister Hotel.  This is the first post in a series about wine that I will be sharing with the Pfister community.  We will discuss different wine regions of the world, patient how to taste & evaluate wine, wine & food pairings, how to open a bottle of Champagne (safely!), and many other fun wine related topics.

A little bit of background about me… I started my career in hospitality twelve years ago here at the Pfister Hotel.  While working in Blu as a bartender when it first opened, nurse I realized that I would really need to learn a thing or two about wine if I was going to succeed in dazzling my guests on a nightly basis.  I ran out to pick up a few basic books about wine (and quite a few bottles!), doctor and spent my free hours teaching myself how to understand the wide world of wine.  My career took me to restaurants such as Osteria del Mondo, where Italian vino ruled the list, and Trocadero, which had an entirely French collection.  Along the way, I realized how much I truly enjoyed sharing the information that I had learned with my friends, colleagues, and most of all- my guests.

I studied for the Court of Master Sommeliers tests, which were an intense set of written, practical wine service and the most daunting of them all, the blind tasting tests.  I passed the introductory exam in Traverse City, MI and passed the Certified Exam four months later in Orlando, FL.  Becoming a Certified Sommelier opened the doors for me to work at the Immigrant Restaurant in the American Club of Kohler, WI, where I spent several years managing a vast international collection of lovely wines.

This past February, I was quite delighted to return “home” to the Pfister Hotel, and join the team at the Mason Street Grill.  I am excited to talk to our guests about wineries that they have been to, what wines would taste great with their meals, and to recommend where they can find their new favorite wines.  We are also hosting seasonal wine events, such as the Blackbird Vineyards Launch Party this September 26th and the Joseph Phelps Vineyards dinner on October 20th.

I look forward to sharing some unpretentious and useful wine advice with you!

Cheers!

Heather Kanter-Kowal

Heather Kanter-Kowal

 

Cooking with Chef Ash: Bacon Wrapped Medjool Dates

This dish is a stunning appetizer that can be served at every occasion. The plump, buy delicious dates are wrapped in thick, smokey bacon then gently sauteed in a savory sauce. Creamy goat cheese is delicately placed in the center of the sweet, chewy date helping to enhance its rich flavor. This is an elegant and satisfying dish that your guests will request at every gathering.

Ingredients

  • 20 pieces pitted medjool dates
  • 20 pieces of smoked bacon strips
  • Toothpicks

Directions

  • Stuff each date with the almond cheese and wrap with one slice of bacon and secure with a plain toothpick.
  • Bake in a 375F oven for 10- 15 minutes until bacon is crispy.
  • Place on top of a plate lined with roasted piquillo rouille.

Almond Cheese Ingredients

  • 1 log of fresh goats cheese (room temp)
  • ½ cup toasted slivered almonds
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Directions

  • In a mixer with a paddle attachment combine the cheese, almonds, extract and parsley mix until just combined and season with fresh ground black pepper.

Roasted Piquillo Rouille Ingredients

  • 4-5 pcs roasted piquillo pepper
  • ½ cup sherry wine vinegar
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 ½ cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

Directions

  • Place all ingredients except the olive oil into a bar blender and puree then slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream.
  • Mix until thoroughly incorporated.

Cooking with Chef Ash: Vanilla Creme Brulee

This recipe will surprise you! It’s incredibly delicious, but it’s also very easy to make. With a few simple ingredients you’ll be able to create this creamy, rich custard base coated with a decadent caramelized layer in minimal time. This is a one recipe you’ll turn to again and again.

Ingredients

  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 10 each egg yolks
  • 2 each vanilla beans

Directions

  • Split the vanilla beans in half and scrap the seeds place the whole bean and the seeds in a medium pot with the heavy cream.
  • Combine the granulated sugar and the egg yolks in a stainless steel bowl, slowly incorporate the warm cream by tempering it into the egg/sugar mixture.
  • Strain the mixture.
  • In a shallow baking pan place bake proof ceramic dishes around 8 oz capacity.
  • Fill the dishes 3/4 of the way with the strained cream mixture.
  • Place into a 300°F oven, then fill the pan with warm water until it reaches half way up the side of the dish, cover pan with aluminum foil.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes until set may take longer or shorter depending on the size of the baking dish.
  • Dust the top with sugar in the raw and caramelize with a butane torch or under a oven broiler.
  • Serve with fresh berries.

 

 

Marcus Chefs at East Town Market

The East Town Market is celebrating its 15th summer at Cathedral Square Park and the Cafe Pfister and the Chefs of the Pfister, seek Intercontinental, Hilton, and Mason Street Grill are a part of this year’s live entertainment and food.  On Saturday mornings, from 9am – 1pm, The Cafe Pfister is proudly serving its Starbucks Coffee, Pfister Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas, cold drinks, pastries, and ice cream.  On Tuesday evenings from 3pm – 7pm the Café Pfister will sell sangria, assorted beers, wine, pastries and snacks.

The Chefs of Mason Street Grill, Pfister Hotel, Intercontinental, and Hilton will also be featured on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings at the Chef’s Series.  Each chef will demonstrate a recipe and offer free tastings of the recipe that they have prepared. Chef Mark Weber was on center stage on Tuesday evening and wowed the crowd with a delicious summer vegetable gazpacho with shrimp.

Over 100 Wisconsin farmers, craftsmen, bakers, entertainers, and chefs will be a part of the market with fresh produce, crafts, food, and activities.

EAST TOWN MARKET HOURS

Saturdays         June 4 – October 29                 9 AM – 1 PM

Tuesdays          June 7 – September 27             3 – 7 PM

MARCUS HOTELS CHEFS DEMONSTRATIONS AT EAST TOWN MARKET

Tuesday, June 7                     Chef Mark Weber – 6:00 PM

Tuesday, June 14                   Chef David Zakroczymski – 6:00 PM

Tuesday, June 28                   Chef Thomas Hauk – 6:00 PM

Saturday, July 9                     Chef David Zakroczymski – 10:00 AM

Tuesday, July 19                    Chef Robert Ash – 6:00PM

Tuesday, July 26                    Chef Mark Weber – 6:00PM

Tuesday, August 2                 Chef Thomas Hauk – 6:00PM

Tuesday, August 9                 Chef Robert Ash – 6:00PM

Tuesday, August 16               Chef David Zakroczymski – 6:00PM

Saturday, August 27              Chef Robert Ash – 10:00AM

Tuesday, August 30               Chef Brian Frakes – 6:00PM

Tuesday, September 6           Chef Robert Ash – 6:00PM

Tuesday, September 13         Chef David Zakroczymski – 6:00PM

Tuesday, September 20         Chef Mark Weber – 6:00PM

Tuesday, September 27         Chef Thomas Hauk – 6:00PM

Saturday, October 8              Chef Robert Ash – 10:00AM

Saturday, October 29            Chef Robert Ash – 10:00AM

Chef Weber of Mason Street Grill

Tuna Salad Relleno with Chef Robert Ash

This isn’t your typical tuna salad. It’s a unique blend of tuna, onion, olive oil, watercress pesto and red pepper.
The creative and healthy combination is perfect as a light snack, but could also be served as a satisfying meal. The colorful watercress pesto adds the finishing flavors that will be pleasing to any palate.

Ingredients

  • 4 cans albacore tuna
  • 1 sm white onion, diced small
  • 2 stalk celery, diced small
  • 1 each lemons freshly squeezed
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • TT Kosher salt
  • TT Fresh ground black pepper
  • 4-6 pc whole roasted piquillo peppers
  • 2 tbsp non-pariels (capers)
  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 6 cloves fresh garlic
  • lemon flavored olive oil

Directions

  • Drain tuna and in a non-reactive stainless steel mixing bowl combine the tuna, celery, onion, lemon juice, capers, parsley, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Stuff tuna mixture into the roasted piquillo pepper and reserve.
  • Thinly slice the fresh garlic cloves and in about ¼ cup of vegetable oil fry the garlic until crispy, place onto a paper towel lined plate to dry.
  • Clean the watercress and toss with lemon oil and toasted garlic season with salt and pepper, to be used as a side garnish.

Watercress Pesto

  • 4 oz Watercress lettuce
  • 1 clove fresh garlic
  • 1 tsp grated parmesan
  • 1 ½ tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • TT kosher salt
  • TT Freshly grated black pepper

Directions

  • Clean and roughly chop watercress.
  • Place all ingredients into a food processor minus the olive oil and pulse to incorporate.
  • Slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream until well incorporated.

Ask Ash: Fresh or frozen vegetables?

Whether you want to learn how to perfect a particular cooking technique, learn how to use a certain ingredient or have a dish related question, Chef Robert Ash has the answers for you.

Fresh or frozen vegetables, is one better than the other?

The fresh versus frozen debate is a common one, however experts say one isn’t necessarily better than the other. Now that it’s spring, you will have an easier time finding fresh produce in season, but if you prefer to buy frozen that’s fine, and here’s the reason why. When companies freeze their fruits and vegetables, they use a special “flash-freeze” process that immediately locks in the nutrients. You’ll want to eat your frozen produce within a few months because over time some of the nutrients will be lost. The most important thing is eating the recommended five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, so how you go about it is a matter of taste.

E-mail your culinary questions to chef@thepfisterhotel.com.
Please put “Ask Chef Ash” in the subject line.

Learn more about Cooking with Chef Ash.