Wednesday, December 23, 2009

fresco fives

fresco is a great Food Fight restaurant that I've posted about before. It's on the top floor of the Madison MoCA and has a great view, especially when the surrounding rooftops are snowy like they were last weekend. We have been meaning for some time to catch fresco's $5 late-night menu and now we've been there two weekends in a row.

fresh pear martini

pomegranate-ginger champagne cocktail

midnight breakfast sandwich: shaved ham, poached egg, gruyere, parmesan mornay sauce, and microgreens on a croissant

fresco "sexy fries" with ketchup and chipotle mayo

pumpkin bread pudding with maple-nut ice cream

The "5ives" run Monday-Thursday 9-11 and Friday-Saturday 10-12. The atmosphere can be dressy or casual and it's not been overly busy either time we've been there. Everything that we have ordered has been great. Nothing is particularly sexy about the "sexy fries", but they are tasty. I really enjoyed the bread pudding though I usually am not crazy about bread puddings. Not shown are the creme brulee or the buttermilk beignets, but both are excellent. The breakfast sandwich is hands down a favorite--I would order it every time. fresco is a great value for late-night food (that I would eat any time of day if I could).

Thursday, December 10, 2009

did you just say bacon?

It seems that Matt and I have practically lived off of bacon lately. In October, we bought 5 pounds of bacon from one of our favorite farmer's market meat vendors. After having their surprisingly smoky, thick, and fatty bacon, any other bacon is somewhat unsatisfying.

Here are a couple of recipes we've made lately. I didn't feel like typing them tonight, so you have the links.

pan roasted fingerling potatoes with bacon and crispy sage

This potato dish was very tasty, made with sage leftover from Thanksgiving dinner and the last local fingerling potatoes of the season. On the sandwich, a sweet and tangy caramelized onion thyme jam.

chocolate chip pecan bacon cookies

The cookies were a really nice sweet/salty combination. You might not know that bacon was the salty element--it had a texture somewhat like toffee. Matt used the thin cookie recipe, though I'm sure the thick ones would be great as well. I'd like to try some of the other recipes at the NPR site too.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I'm enjoying my first snow day at home for this school year. We have several inches of snow and more on the way. It's a sunny and pleasant day to be inside and cozy.

our backyard

It's lucky that I picked up a warm new skirt this weekend from Good Style Shop. It's a handmade 1950's wool circle skirt in red, blue-green, and brown, perfect for wintry weather. I also love this double-breasted cardigan as it winterizes many of my more summery dresses. I'm not sure what it is about this outfit that made want to stand with my hips pushed forward.

cardigan - H&M
top - Urban Outfitters

skirt & shoes - Good Style
necklace - thrifted

tights - Target

monroe street

In the past couple of months, we've tried a couple of great restaurants on Monroe Street in Madison: Brasserie V and Pizza Brutta.

The meal at Brasserie V was for the anniversary of six years together. The restaurant is Belgian-style, with an extensive beer list and a warm, casual atmosphere. The menu offers more pricey seasonal entrees and more affordable sandwiches and salads.

Belgian salad: frisee and grilled endive, egg, bacon, almonds, and apple cider vinaigrette

my entree: maple & beer brased pork belly on polenta with crispy fried fennel

Matt's entree: steak frites in cabernet pan sauce with sauteed greens & fries

The pork belly was unique and incredibly rich. The sweet maple sauce nicely complemented the creamy polenta and tender, fatty pork. Matt's steak was tender and juicy and we enjoyed the peppery fries with two kinds of aioli.

At Pizza Brutta, you order your pizza at the front counter, take your seat, and receive the traditional wood-fired pizza Napoletana in less than 5 minutes. The crust is softer than other pizzas we've had of the same style, but that doesn't detract from its appeal. Pizza Brutta is dedicated to including local and organic ingredients on the menu and there are many other flavor combinations on the menu that I am eager to try.

the diavola: basil, pepper flakes, spiced salami, pepperocini

Saturday, December 5, 2009

leftovers (still)

pea & potato cakes

I love to make these pancakes when I have leftover mashed potatoes. They're not pretty, but they're always delicious. I have made this several times, and not yet gotten them quite right. Take the advice in the note at the bottom: adjust the recipe as needed to make the consistency sticky and somewhat thick. If the mixture is too wet and runny, the cakes will fall apart. But don't be afraid! They're quick and worth the effort.

Pea & Potato Cakes

3/4 c fresh or frozen peas
4 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced (or 2-4 green onions, sliced)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups cooked mashed potatoes
1 cup cheddar cheese (about 4 oz)
2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp sald
1/4 tsp black pepper

In a small saucepan, bring 1 inch of water to a boil over high hear. Add peas and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain, put in a medium bowl, and cool slightly. (If using frozen peas, just set out to thaw.)

Wipe the saucepan clean and heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook 4 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Place in a large bowl and cool slightly.

Add the peas, potatoes, cheese, flour, salt, and pepper to the bowl. Stir until well-blended. Shape into 8 round cakes.

Heat 1 1/2 tbsp of the remaining olive oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add 4 cakes and cook for 8 minutes (I let them cook as long as it takes to get a good sear on the one side. They stay together better that way.) Transfer the cakes to a plate to keep warm and repeat with the remaining 4 cakes. Serve with mesclun salad.

Note: If your leftovers are made with butter or milk, omit the cheese and add a little more flour to bind them. Always test a small cake first for consistency.

from Simply Organic by Jesse Ziff Cool

Friday, December 4, 2009

more leftovers

turkey blt soup

I used up some of our bountiful turkey supply and some leftover potatoes to make this tasty soup. Enjoy!

olive oil for drizzling
6 slices bacon, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
3 small celery ribs finely chopped
2 small to medium carrots, chopped
1 bay leaf
salt & pepper
3 medium starchy potatoes
2 quarts chicken stock
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes or 1 pt. grape tomatoes, halved
handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1-2 cups shredded turkey (optional)

Heat a medium soup pot or deep-sided skillet over medium heat. To the hot pan add a drizzle of olive oil and the bacon. Cook the bacon until brown and reserve. Drain off all but 2 tbsp. of the remaining fat and add the chopped celery and carrots. Cut the leeks lengthwise and then into 1/2-inch half moons. Place the sliced in a colander and run them under cold water, separating the layers to wash away all the trapped grit. When the leeks are clean, shake off the water and add to the celery and carrots. Stir the veggies together, add the bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper. While the leeks cook until wilted, 3-4 minutes, slice the potatoes.

Cut each potato into thirds crosswise. Stand each third upright and slice it thinly. The pieces will look like raw potato chips.

Add stock to the vegetables and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the potatoes, tomatoes, and turkey (if using). Cook for 8-10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and starting to break up a bit. Add the reserved bacon and parsley and stir adjust the seasonings.

adapted from Rachel Ray's Express Lane Meals