Buttered, Fried, and On a Stick: Regional Fair Food


8/22/13

In the summertime, Milwaukee can  be expected to smell like popcorn, funnel cakes, and sweet corn. It is the land of festivals: from Festa Italia! to Bastille Days, every culture is celebrated through dance, music and most importantly food.

I went to a number of these festivals, but the most popular by far is the Wisconsin State Fair.

If you’re expecting to have fresh and organic food at a fair, don’t bother. It doesn’t exist. Even at Greek Fest, the most popular food item was a deep fried pastry–Not exactly the most authentic Greek food. But we all need our fix of fried food once in a while; this is where to get it.

State fairs may not be the place to go for healthy food, but it’s certainly the place to go to eat interesting concoctions of fried things on a stick.  The newcomers every year always make people talk. This year at the Wisconsin State Fair, some of the interesting creations included a Thanksgiving Waffle, fried gelato on a stick, and a Krispy Kreme Burger with Spicy Pig Candy. Now that’s kicking it up a notch!

But, every state fair has a famous staple food that everyone has to get.  For 89 years in Wisconsin, it’s the Cream Puff: a delectable fluffy puff pastry with soft cream in the middle. This sought after item even has its own drive-thru window.

The one thing that all of these festivals and fairs had in common was the fact that beer was everywhere: cheap beer sold for a small fortune.

Festivals and fairs are all about binging on food that isn’t good for you, but it’s delicious all the same. And in college, you have those days where you need to eat food that’s exactly that. State fairs may only last a week or two, but here’s a way to bring a little bit of the fair into your college apartment.

Wisconsin Cream Puff

Puff Pastry:

1 Cup Water

1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter

1/4 Tsp. Salt

1 Cup All Purpose Flour

4 Large Eggs

2 Tbsp. Milk

1 Large Egg Yolk

Cream Filling:

2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream

1/3 Cup Powdered Sugar

1/2 Tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract

1/8 Tsp. Cream of Tartar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven at 400°. In a large saucepan, bring the water, butter and salt to a boil over medium heat. Add flour all at once and stir until a ball forms. Remove from the heat. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.
  2. Drop ¼ cupfuls of the puffs onto baking sheets. Combine milk and egg yolk; brush over puffs. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks. Immediately cut a slit in each for steam to escape.
  3. As they cool, beat the Heavy Whipping Cream with until it begins to thicken. Add sugar, vanilla and cream of tartar Split cream puffs; discard soft dough from inside. Fill the cream puffs just before serving. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top.

Published in College & Cook Magazine.

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BIO-San Francisco


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It was a sunny day in San Francisco. I had about a half an hour for lunch before I had to get back to a journalism conference and I was desperately searching for anything that wasn’t fried. Fate must have been on my side that day because I spotted the tiny storefront of BIO, a small, organic deli. When I say small, I mean small: no more than four people could fit inside. Inside greeted me with smells of fresh herbs and vegetables and the kitchen behind the deli was overflowing with perfectly cut strawberries and avocados. I enjoyed a prosciutto/arugula sandwich there which is still one of the best sandwiches I have ever eaten.

Taking Off


5/28/13

Many students attend college out-of-state so they have to fly home every break. That’s a lot of time to be spending at airports!  Those days spent at the airport can be long and not to mention tricky when it comes to food.

When you go to the airport, you run into one of two problems:

One, you don’t have any food to eat for hours.

Two,  because you know that this is a possibility, you eat at every given opportunity.

Neither option is healthy by any means, so I sent myself on a mission: eat “healthy” and good airport food. Can it even be done or are vacuum sealed sandwiches and McDonalds our only options?

The good news is that it is possible and it can even be an enjoyable culinary experience. Who knew?

On the particular day that I went on my mission to find good airport grub, I flew from Milwaukee to Dallas to San Francisco. In Milwaukee, I had lunch at one of the very few options; however, this option was delightful Alterra Coffee which is based out of Milwaukee. There’s a definite Wisconsin flavor in the menu. For example, I had a grilled cheese sandwich with cheddar, pepper jack cheese and chipotle sauce on homemade sourdough bread. It was a delightful combination. The coffee there is also strong and black, perfect for any day, but especially travel days.

In fact, everywhere I went there was a definite regional flavor to the airport which I found really surprising. Dallas was filled with barbeque and meat. San Francisco was filled with organic options and sushi. It’s fun to think that you might be able to have a regional culinary experience if you’re just stuck in the airport. It’s time to stop dreading the long and starving days at the airport and start enjoying the possibilities of uncovering culinary gold.

Here are some of my tips to good travel eating:

1. Stay hydrated. But there’s no need to buy water at the airport. It’s impossible to get cheap water there, so bring your own water bottle! There’s plenty of free water in the airport compliments of the water fountains. Take full advantage of the situation.

2. Bring energy bars. There’s no guarantee that you’ll have time to eat at the airport, especially when you have connecting flights. Sometimes only a minute separates you from one plane to the next. If you don’t have time to eat at the airport, it might be hours before you’re near food again (food that isn’t sketchy and overpriced). Energy bars are vital in these situations. They don’t taste bad, they won’t break in your luggage, and they’re filling.

3. Order the right drink. You may not get free food on the plane, but you do still get a complimentary beverage, so choose wisely. My pick? Ginger ale. If you’re weary about flying, alcohol is not the way to go.  Sure, it might make you a little more excited about flying, but it’s not going to help your motion sickness/weariness at all. Ginger naturally soothes an upset stomach. Choose that over alcohol.

4. Put that prepackaged sandwich down! Are you really going to pay $7 for a squished sandwich with questionable ingredients? It may seem like a “healthy” option, but I will guarantee you that it’s just drenched in mayonnaise to hide any strange flavors that might exist in it. It’s healthier and about the same price to get a fresh sandwich at an airport deli.

5. TSA guidelines aren’t scary. Some people are probably weary of packing food due to TSA guidelines. There are just a few rules, including: All food must be wrapped or in a container (excluding fruits); if you’re traveling with foodie gifts, it’s advised to keep them in your checked luggage; Don’t bring anything too weird like a cake or pizza, that’s just hard to travel with.

Article Here in College & Cook Magazine.

Bringing Greece Home: My Culinary Quest


2/12/13

I spent last summer riding ferries over turquoise waters and buses over rolling hills. I hiked to ancient theatres and temples on seaside cliffs, and rode donkeys down to hot springs. Most importantly, I tasted beautiful mixtures of spinach and feta pies paired perfectly with aged wine–I tasted the Mediterranean and fell in love.

Through the study abroad program at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, I had the irreplaceable experience to study culinary journalism in Greece.

And through all these experiences I realized that the cuisine truly reflects the simple tradition and rich history of the land and its people.

This was increasingly apparent when I arrived on the peace Greek island of Kea.  There I had the opportunity to visit Agalia Kremezi ‘s culinary school. Kremezi is a former journalist turned cookbook author that holds her school at her vine and flower covered home.  There I learned how to make stuffed  grape leaves,  herb flat bread, and paper-thin phyllo dough, and I learned that no meal is complete with a wine glass that is anything less than half full. The food we made was very traditional. Most of the ingredients used were straight from Kremezi’s garden or from other local farmers.  It allowed you to taste the true flavors of the land and experience the culture of the people around you, making it a genuine food experience.

Genuine food is hard to find in America. Fast food is uncommon in Greece, only making its presence known in large cities such as Athens.  In the States, go out to eat because we’re lazy and want to save time. In Greece, they go out to eat to have rich conversations and savor every bite.

But then as soon as it started, the trip was over and I was back in America. And the first thing that greeted me? A McDonald’s in the airport. After spending time in a country that prided itself on local flavors and culture, I was back in a society that cares too much about the cheapest and the fastest.

I also started to suffer from something I think is common for most who go abroad. I started having withdrawals from the flavors I once experienced on a daily basis. I was soon craving feta and baklava like no other, but I had nowhere to go to find them. It was up to me to bring what I learned from Greece back to America, which is easier said than done. However, I managed to recreate, to the best of my abilities the food that I learned to love in Greece back in my college kitchen (and budget).

For the article and recipes go to: http://www.collegeandcook.com/