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.
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
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.
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
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.
The art of the recommendation. It’s a skill born of the preternatural ability to read people and an intimate knowledge of available options. It’s why you go to your local bookstore or record store: the clerks who enthusiastically love what they stock and sell are guaranteed to connect you to what you want – even if you didn’t know what it was you wanted when you walked in the door.
The woman who walked over to the pastry case at the Cafe at the Pfister didn’t know what she wanted. Tailed, on the other side of the counter, by a smiling barista in a striped shirt and carrying a plate, she stared hungrily at all the options. He waited patiently, while the other baristas busied around him, plucking treats and making cappucinos. Finally, she spoke, to nobody in particular but in the general direction of her personal gentleman barista – “should I have the lemon tart or a chocolate cupcake?” Without missing a beat, another barista chimed in with cheery gusto, “Oh, the lemon tart! These are amazing – and they’re made by our own in-house pastry chefs.” The customer didn’t bat a lash or take a breath before replying, “Lemon tart, it is!”
It’s easy to see why the barista so eagerly suggested one of these exquisite desserts. They are prepared by finely trained chefs with not only an eye for how beautiful these pastries should be, but have the mathematical eating of them down to precise perfection. The Market Fresh Fruit tart has just the exact number of fruit slices necessary in order for each graham cracker-packed, creamy custard-filled bite to include one piece – no more, no less. The magic of its lustrous sheen is in the apricot glaze brushed over the top. Hostess Sandy confirmed that while the colorful treat was, indeed, heavenly, the lemon one was also her personal favorite – “Not too sweet, just the right amount of tartness.” (no pun intended)
At the next table over sits a gentleman with his laptop, plugged in, cell phone in hand. Whatever he’s trying to do isn’t working and he decides to call the workday quits. He asks for directions to the fitness club (downstairs, not by the pool on the 23rd floor as I initially thought, though I encouraged a visit to the pool if only for the view of the city and the lake) and then for a recommendation on where to eat dinner. This is a tough one. There’s a lot of good eating in Milwaukee – some incredible eateries have arisen or gained a stellar reputation in recent years. “What kind of food do you like?” I ask. He waves a hand dismissively, “whatever, doesn’t matter,” but in a way that gives me the impression he just wants to have a good time. I go with my first instinct and suggest the Safe House, explaining that it’s really about the experience, not the food. For those of you who are unfamiliar, it’s a spy-themed restaurant that can be tricky to find and get into, but well worth the effort.
Meanwhile, at the Lobby Lounge bar, the very outgoing Randy is making friends with all the guests, including one man (Peter) who sits with his pink tie tucked neatly into the lower portion of his shirt, one button undone in order to hide away the silky fabric so as not to spill anything on it (brilliant!). They are discussing beer. Particularly, the joys of being a selective beer drinker. They are lobbing around terms like “black IPA” and gushing over Belgian trippels. Randy offers up the recommendation of visiting Sugar Maple in Bay View as they have 60+ American craft beers on tap – on tap! – as well as Cafe Centraal where Dutch “biers” are carefully selected to include “rarities, oddities” and exclusive options.
Peter is visibly excited and intrigued, writes this down, then proceeds to share the details of a recent trip to Europe that included a visit to the last operational family brewery in Bruges, De Halve Maan, a stop in Strasbourg for Cantillon Lambic, and was capped with the Zythos Bier Festival in Belgium. It was practically a pilgrimage. Of course, he’s now looking forward to returning to Milwaukee, staying at the Pfister again, and checking out Randy’s recommendations.
Personally, I’m looking forward to a lemon tart, based on all the barista encouragement; tracking down a pint of Brugse Zot from De Halve Maan, based on Peter’s glowing reviews from his travels; and finding out what else the Pfister employees (and guests!) have to suggest, as they continue to prove this is an art they practice well.
YOUR TURN: Do you have any suggestions or recommendations to share?
I saw a lot of bouquets on desks yesterday. That’s the nature of the beast, right? What I really wanted to see, however, was adoring couples and cute gestures and candle lit dinners. So, I went to the Pfister.
I found out that Hallmark needn’t intervene; the Pfister is like your Valentine. I was met with badges, not bouquets. Haggard business folk still wearing their I.D.s from the conference happening upstairs stumbled around the hallway. It dawned on me that this is a fairly common visage and that each of these beleaguered it’s-been-a-long-day-‘ers was working on Valentine’s Day. Sure, most of us worked, it’s not quite that kind of holiday, but knowing the company they were with was a sweetheart of sorts to Milwaukee’s economy it really felt like perhaps celebrating Valentine’s Day at the hotel for work is a bit like courting commerce and to some degree, that’s a good thing.
Also to my surprise and delight, there were a few singles in the lobby bar. Sure, their fingers caressed merrily the keys of their smart phones (for one is never alone with a smart phone) but it was nice to see the independence and irreverence for hearts and flowers taking place.
One single bellied up to the bar and it was clear she had been her own Valentine. A large bag from WellSpa and a terribly refreshed look about her matched her fancy cocktail and made it really feel like love, or at least relaxation and me-time, were in the air.
Just as I was about to give up hope that I’d see any red and pink-clad couples, one walked in…and headed straight for David, the bartender. They were regulars and friends and complete with sparkly red heart-shaped necklace, announced that they were making a special point to stop by and wish him a Happy Valentine’s Day.
Maybe it’s not the holiday so much as what you do and how you assess where your relationships are. I liked being at the Pfister for this holiday for part of the evening because I realized that lots of things woo you and court you in a hectic life. Business or regular people you encounter daily or even you can be your own valentine.
But before I sound too jaded (because I’m certainly not), I have to tell you about the couple, Chris and Heather, who came into the hotel and nestled in at the sofas by the fire (which was, of course, roaring). A glass of wine and a clear glow about them (I learned later they were fairly recently engaged), the pair was the delightful storybook romance I was hoping I’d see.
They made my Valentine’s Day fantasy even more complete when they broke out a deck of cards and started playing a game with each other. As if that gesture of simple, casual closeness and clear interest in one another isn’t enough, when talking to them, I’d learned they had originally planned to be at a local pizza establishment that serves heart-shaped pizzas–now that’s my kind of fancy. The wait for this delicacy was two hours, so they retired to the comfortable atmosphere of the Pfister and the fire to simply…be.
Neither of them was wearing red or pink. There were no frothy fancy drinks between them. Their work-casual apparel didn’t sparkle. But, their easy togetherness in front of the fire set the perfect scene and I have to say, Hallmark couldn’t have captured it if they tried.
Chef Robert Ash did an excellent job this past weekend on WISN-TV. Chef Ash shared two great recipes using chicken. In case you missed it, sickness find his recipes and links to his video demonstration on WISN below.
Cube the chicken into 1-inch pieces and toss with enough marinade to coat them evenly. Place 3 pieces of chicken on each skewer season and grill. While the chicken is grilling prepare the corn, cheap in a warm sauté pan heat some vegetable oil and place the corn into the pan, cook until slightly browned. Add the granulated sugar and limejuice cook until slightly caramelized at the end add the butter and the fresh chopped cilantro. Place the corn into a serving dish and when the chicken is finished place the skewers on top of the corn and sprinkle with sliced scallions. These can be made ahead of time and kept frozen for a couple of months. They make great meal starters or just a quick snack.
2 whole yellow bell peppers, 2 tbsp aji amarillo paste, ¼ c rice wine vinegar, 2 tbsp limejuice, ½ cup grape seed oil, TT kosher salt, TT fresh ground black pepper
Slightly rub yellow peppers with oil and roast until charred over a grill or an open stove burner. Place into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam for 30 minutes. When done remove the outer charred part and the seeds. Place all ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth.
1 lb chicken breast (smoked and shredded), 1 lb cooked pasta of choice al dente, ½ cup red cherry tomatoes (halved), 1 cup baby spinach (cleaned), ¼ cup fresh basil pesto, ¼ cup chicken stock, TT salt and pepper, 3 tbsp fresh grated or shaved parmesan cheese.
In a deep sauce pan or sauté pan over medium high heat, place a touch of olive oil, and then add the spinach, chicken, tomatoes and the pasta. Cook for one to 2 minutes then add the basil pesto and enough chicken stock the thin slightly more or less is needed based on personal likes and al dente of the pasta. Cook until the pasta is warmed through and sauce had thickened slightly, pour into serving vessel and top with grated parmesan cheese.
Fresh Basil Pesto Ingredients:
2 cups fresh basil leaves packed, ½ cup fresh grated parmesan-reggiano or romano cheese, ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts, 3 garlic cloves, minced TT salt and black pepper
Combine the basil, pine nuts and pulse in food processor, add garlic and pulse a few more times. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant steady stream while the processor is on. Scrap down the sides with a rubber spatula, add the grated cheese and pulse again, add the salt and pepper to taste.
* Note: At the Pfister, we typically do not disclose the identity of entertainers who stay at the hotel. In this case, we’ve received express permission to do so.
There are many memories I have of my dad that keep me close to him. Lonesome Dove, the character-driven cowboy novel I read at my dad’s direction, is one of my favorites. We were in love with Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall’s perfect portrayals of the lead wranglers we’d befriended.
I thought of dad Thursday night in the Lobby Bar at the Pfister where I watched the crowd wind up for the weekend. The infamous Gus McCrae (Robert Duvall) walked through. He embodied the same calm, calculating pace of his characters. I wanted to shake his hand and tell him how much he meant to me—he breathed life into a character that linked a teenage girl to her father at a time in life when daughters and fathers lose touch.
He ended up on a couch next to me and this man, who to me symbolizes so much, proceeded to discuss where to find a great steak (and to the Pfister’s credit, noted that Mason Street Grill was a top pick). I was mesmerized with this larger than life character living as a regular man—a patron waiting for his table.
More impressive was how we, the Milwaukee community, sitting in the lobby having our drinks, respected this legend. No one caused a stir. Many recognized Mr. Duvall, but most seemed to recognize him as a fellow client of the hotel, they were in good company and that was enough.
When I later told friends about the encounter, everyone had a connection to the actor. A best friend even explained the funeral of a grandfather buried with the Lonesome DoveVHS.
I am thankful for the night’s education. I learned that there is a character to the Pfister and when you join the crowd, you become a part of making that character real. It’s a classy character, one who observes but doesn’t disturb. It’s a character who knows its value and merely nods politely to its parts.
My adventures with Mr. Duvall and his group also confirmed for me that everyone has an impact. The retelling of the tale affected so many close to me that it reminded me how important we are to one another—and we often underestimate that. You can never fully realize how much meaning you have as you pass through and I am fortunate to have been there to capture it.
Soothe those Jazz blues at Mason Street Grill, where the music is playing Tuesday through Saturday.
Jamie Briewick Group performs Tuesday & Wednesday from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Fridays from 8:00 p.m. to Midnight.
Jamie is regarded as one of Wisconsin‘s most in-demand and versatile jazz trumpet players. Jamie has shared the stage with many nationally recognized musicians including: Dan Nimmer, Joe Sanders, Willie Pickens, Jim Pugh, Steve Houghton, Brian Lynch, Pete Zimmer, Rob Wilkerson, Rick Germanson, Dan Kinzelman, and Carl Allen.
Mark Thierfelder is a native of Milwaukee, WI and began his musical studies on trumpet at age 12. Some of his strongest musical influences include, but are not limited to, Miles Davis, Benny Green, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Louis Armstrong. Mark Thierfelder performs unique arrangements encompassing many different styles and genres.
Luke Edgewood performs piano music with song arrangements that have just the right blend of pop & jazz. Solo, duo, trio or quartet; Luke Edgewood is versatile & will provide you with just the right level of entertainment.
Today’s the big day. It’s opening night of the Milwaukee Film festival and the Pfister is ready to walk the red carpet.
If we had to pick a recommendation of what to see this year at the festival, it would have to be Kings of Pastry, featuring our very own Pastry Chef, Kurt Fogle.
Want to learn more?
Here’s the film’s description and trailer.
Once every four years come the Olympics, the World Cup… and the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France. The what? The striped collar worn by The Best Craftsmen in France is more than the ultimate recognition for every pastry chef—it is a dream and an obsession. Influential documentarians D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus profile three chefs during the intense days leading up to the judgment of their art. These sultans of sugar concoct edible edifices that must satiate both the eye and the palate in order for the creators to become one of the Kings of Pastry.