Author Archives: dishblog

Leftovers: The True Gift of Thanksgiving

When thinking of delicious holiday food, one day stands out among the rest: Thanksgiving. Arguably the most food-oriented holiday, Thanksgiving has gained a reputation for being the day where we can stuff as much food into our faces as we want and not feel a shred of guilt about it. As we all now return from break, vowing to go the gym every day this week as our stomachs ache from eating too much pumpkin pie, it is time for one of the greatest parts about the Thanksgiving holiday: leftovers! While Thanksgiving dinner itself is a scrumptious delight for our taste buds, nothing is more satisfying than enjoying a turkey sandwich for lunch the day after the holiday. Nonetheless, in my humble opinion, there is no greater treat than having a leftover piece of pumpkin pie for breakfast – how many times a year can we eat pie for breakfast and have it considered totally normal behavior? Not many, my friends, not many.

Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving leftover recipe? Share it in the comments below – who knows, maybe your recipe will even be featured in the upcoming The Dish cookbook! I hope all of our dear readers are feeling rested and appropriately full after the Thanksgiving break, best of luck with papers and exams in the final few weeks of the semester!
Jared LeBlanc
Elite Three columnist



By: Colin Martindale

I’m not sure there is anything better than thanksgiving. As a good foodie thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday and each year I count down the days until it arrives. This year’s thanksgiving was no different, and when it finally came I gorged myself as usual. This year a question arose at our table of what was our favorite thanksgiving dish. There are so many great thanksgiving foods it’s hard to go wrong, great arguments can be made for turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, really anything. I went with the glue that holds the entire feast together: gravy. In my mind it’s not even a question. I’m a guy who puts gravy on everything, just load up the plate with food and pour it over the whole thing.
Do you have one guest or relative brings a dish that isn’t up to par with the rest of the meal? Mediocre dish I’d like to introduce you to gravy, and you’re most welcome. Gravy fixes everything: Dry turkey, tasteless stuffing, poor mashed potatoes, bland rolls, heck even green beans go well with gravy. One deterrent many people have to making gravy is they assume you need chicken or turkey drippings for successful gravy. Here’s a foolproof simple recipe that still works wonders.

Gravy recipe:
4 Tbsp butter
¾ cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups vegetable broth
5 black peppercorns
1 Tsp minced thyme
1 bay leaf

Melt the butter, and then add the flour stirring until browned but not burnt (about 5 minutes). Whisk in the chicken and vegetable broth and boil. Then add thyme, peppercorn and bay leaf. Reduce to a simmer and stir occasionally for 25 minutes. Strain the gravy to remove the solids. Add some salt and/or pepper to your liking.

Above and Beyond Pumpkin Pie

By: Allie Johnson

Fall is the season for apple-picking, wearing cozy sweaters, and consuming all things pumpkin. Each season I eagerly await the fall specials at all of my favorite restaurants and without fail, one of the new menu items will include pumpkin. It’s fair to say that my passion for all things pumpkin has led me to trying my fair share of pumpkin flavored food, and from that I have compiled a list of the best of the best.

Here are the Top 5 Pumpkin Concoctions
1. Pumpkin White Chocolate Mocha from Caribou Coffee
As a coffee addict, I have tried nearly every pumpkin flavored coffee drink on campus that I can get my hands on. Nothing comes close beating Caribou’s signature fall drink. This mocha differs from the traditional pumpkin latte because the white chocolate cancels out the bitter taste of espresso. All that’s left is a rich, creamy pumpkin flavor topped with loads of fluffy whipped cream. Yum!

2. Pumpkin Donut from Dunkin’ Donuts
I love Dunkin’ Donuts and I love pumpkin. Put them together and you have a masterpiece of deliciousness. The pumpkin flavor is subtle. It tastes like a regular donut, but with hints of cinnamon and spice.

3. Pumpkin Cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory
In a nutshell this dessert is a thicker and creamier version of pumpkin pie, with a graham cracker crust of course. One slice will keeps me full for the whole day.

4. Pumpkin Pie PopTarts
Replace the traditional PopTart filling with pumpkin crème and stick it in the toaster. It’s everything I love about PopTarts with the added benefit of fall flavor.

5. Pumpkin Pie Babcock Ice Cream
It’s the ice cream every Badger knows and loves. The Pumpkin Pie flavor of Babcock Ice Cream tastes exactly like it sounds, like frozen pumpkin pie.

Greetings and welcome to the first The Dish blog post of the 2012 academic year!! While my articles for The Dish focus on a taco source around Madison, my taco-reviewing project is global in scope, and the blog is a nice place to highlight some non-Wisconsonian tacos I’ve tried over the years.

Taqueria La Fondita (Lynnwood WA) - taco review

Dang good tacos!

As students return from various places around the Upper Midwest, US, and world, the first question on the tip of everyone’s tongue is often, “Had any good tacos recently?” Fortunately, my answer is always: “Yes, and let me tell you where!” Even though I stayed in Madison (well, Deforest) working on my research this summer, I often thought back to home, and more specifically the best deal I’ve ever got on tacos. While not the greatest tacos on Earth (that honor belongs to Benton Harbor’s La Perla), or even the best tacos in the Seattle Suburbs (Taqueria la Raza), Taqueria la Fondita provides an excellent bargain on taco plates – including chips, soup, and free coffee! And the tacos taste darn good too. Anybody else eat some good tacos this summer?

Taqueria La Fondita (Lynnwood WA) - taco review

Yup, look at all that free soup!


Chocolate Comfort

Sarah Dreifke

It’s nearing that time. Finals are approaching. The time of year where it is socially acceptable to wear the same sweatpants all week, move into the library and to make a substantial investment in Starbucks coffee. I don’t know about you, but a majority of the time I just want to curl up in a ball and escape from the real world for a while. How do I do that? Food.

There is something about that nostalgic feeling you get when you sink your fork into an ooey-gooey bowl of homemade mac and cheese, or when you catch a whiff of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven. I mean, is there really any better remedy to a stressful workload than a giant helping of comfort food? Now, normally I’m not one to advocate indulging, but I think as far as finals week is concerned – anything goes. Some things can only be cured with calories.

So what form did my calories take? Oreos. Chocolate chips. Cookie dough. Win. These tasty treats combine all of my favorite indulgences into one giant, magnificent cookie. One of these and a big glass of milk is the perfect excuse for a much needed study break!


Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter or margarine
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 package Double Stuff Oreo cookies


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together with a mixer until well combined.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.
  3. In medium bowl mix the flour, salt, and baking soda.  Slowly add to wet ingredients along with chocolate chips until just combined.
  4. With a cookie scoop, form balls with the dough.
  5. Place one ball on top of an Oreo cookie, and another ball on the bottom. Seal edges together by pressing and cupping in hand until Oreo cookie is fully enclosed with dough. (I found it easier to do this with slightly damp hands!)
  6. Place onto parchment lined or greased baking sheets and bake cookies for approximately 13 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.
  7. Enjoy!


Original recipe from:


Eric Lynne

Before I begin, I want to make it clear to anyone reading this: I don’t have any qualifications for passing out restaurant awards.  I don’t have an amazing palate, I’m not an expert chef, and I don’t even go out very often.  However, that doesn’t mean I don’t take notice of great customer service.  So, as a thank-you for all of the great service I have received at the restaurants below, here are my picks for down town’s best customer service (and then, as a bonus, my favorite dish at each restaurant).

Apart from being one of the best deals in town, the extremely friendly and efficient staff of Med Cafe make it also one of the most enjoyable restaurant experiences on State Street.  Even if you see the lunch line stretching out into State Street itself, don’t worry!  The line moves quickly, thanks to the staff, which bustles around the cozy establishment with unbelievable coordination, often setting down your plate of food before you even have a chance to seat yourself.  And if that wasn’t enough, the staff is always happy to return a smile and a thank-you.

Favorite Dish: The Akin’s Plate
Choice of lamb or chicken over a bed of rice with other Mediterranean vegetables and seasonings.  Also comes with a built-in side of pita bread.  Easily one of the best bargains in Madison.  Big, delicious,
and cheap — what more could you want?

LUANG PRABANG (and the rest of the food carts on top of State Street) As far as being loyal to their customers, this cute food cart on State Street is the best.  After getting hooked on their delicious Thai food, I quickly became a frequent visitor and have been treated more like a friend than a customer ever since.  One time I was fifty cents short, and they didn’t care.  Another time they gave me extra food because they wanted me to try something new.  If they are out of something, they are quick to let you try something different (and equally delicious).  Now that I’m a “regular” at Luang Prabang, I hardly have time to venture to the other food carts on State Street. However, when I do, I find that great customer service is to be found at each one, and so for that reason I let them share this spot on my list of favorites.

Favorite Dish: Butternut Squash and Chicken Curry
I’ve been mildly successful at creating my own curry dishes, but I can never get close to the stuff they serve here.  This is not a dish for those afraid of spice, but if you like a good spicy curry, you’ll love Luang Prabang.  They also serve green and yellow curries throughout the week.

In my experience, the service at Chipotle, no matter what the location, has always been top notch.  That being said, Madison’s Chipotle on State Street is the best of the best.  They are so quick, it sometimes seems like they are showing off–I have to sprint down the counter just to keep up!  And even when they do occasionally run out of a meat during their rush-hours, within seconds another batch comes flying in from the kitchen.  Chipotle has somehow found a way to do the impossible: speedier than most fast-food restaurants and more delicious than most sit-down places.

Favorite Dish: Burrito (of course!)
However, beware if you haven’t tried their guacamole yet — with just one bite, you’ll find yourself committing $1.80 extra for every burrito you buy at Chipotle.  I can’t have a burrito without that guac.  It’s almost too good.

As far as speed is concerned, Potbelly’s cannot contend with the aforementioned restaurants.  Even so, Potbelly’s deserves a spot on the list for several reasons.  For one, to make a good toasted sandwich, it’s going to take some time.  But no worries!  Even when you are waiting, the Potbelly’s workers make you feel welcome by striking up a conversation about your day, asking about school, and going about their work with positive attitudes.  Secondly, the live music they sponsor adds a nice local feel to this national chain, and helps separate itself from the other sub shops around.  Finally, if you are lucky enough, one of the usually reliable Potbelly’s employees will make a mistake, and you get one of their delicious oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies for free!  Positive attitudes, local music, and great-tasting mistakes?  Count me in!

Favorite Dish: A Wreck on Wheat with Everything
Throw in one of their chocolate malts to cool down those hot peppers, and you’ll have just had your best meal of the week.

Chicago-Style Hot Dogs

By Samantha Stepp

Chicago has two iconic foods: hot dogs and deep dish pizza. I was in Chicago for St. Patty’s Day this past weekend and having already tried the latter of these two foods, decided to get my very first Chicago-style hot dog.

Anyone from Illinois (or who watches the Travel Channel on a semi-regular basis) knows Chicago-style hot dogs consist of an all-beef dog, diced white onions, mustard, bright green sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices, pickled peppers, and a dash of celery salt on a poppy seed bun. Ketchup? Don’t even think about it.


Now you might be thinking, “Get a Chicago-style hot dog in Chicago? What an utterly clichéd and touristy thing to do” but hold off your judgement just for a moment, because I have a vested interest in trying this dog.

About a year ago, I put up a post on my other food blog, So Good, about all the different regional hot dog styles (American, Coney Island, New York, Chicago) and polled readers about which one they thought was the best. As for my own vote, I put down Coney Island because I assumed nothing would ever beat the winning combination of warm, aromatic chili and gooey cheese. BUT I had never tried any of the other hot dog styles and didn’t truly have anything to compare it to.

Well readers, Chicago WON. I resolved to try it, my love of gooey cheese-chili and hatred of mustard be damned.

Due to many Sunday closings, it took me and my friends several tries and many blocks of walking through shady neighborhoods to find an open hot dog place crouched in the corner of a northern Chicago suburb. Once there, we ordered at the dirty yellow counter (cash only) and had to move around a bunch of chairs and tables in the narrow dining room to find a configuration that could seat us all.

But you know what? It was SO WORTH IT. This hot dog was amazing. The beefy warmth of the hot dog was set off by the tang of the peppers and dill pickle, while the onions provided savory depth. Even the mustard struck the perfect tone in this harmony of garden flavors. The relish was dark green instead of bright green, but other than that it was perfect. Maybe even better than a Coney dog.

Now here is where I should give you the name and address of this great little hole-in-the-wall hot dog place so you can go experience it for yourself…but I failed. I didn’t get the name or address of this place. All I know is it was across from a Walgreens. And hours of searching “Walgreens Chicago” on Google maps yields lots of frustration and no hole-in-the-wall hot dog places.

In a way, I’m kind of happy I don’t remember. There’s something poetic about letting a nameless place remain nameless, so I’m going to let this treasure lay where I found it. If you’re meant to discover this hot dog place, reader, you will. But this time, try and remember the name for the rest of us.

***UPDATE: I found it! It’s Mic Duck’s Drive In, address 3401 West Belmont Avenue. So much for poetry…

Photo courtesy of The Paupered Chef.

Happy Pi Day!

By Katie Van Dam

First off, let me start by wishing everyone a very happy Pi Day! I am obviously not a math person given the fact that I had no idea Van Vleck Hall existed until earlier this week, but I do know I love pie. And although I crave French Silk and Apple pie as much as the next person, I would encourage you all to step outside the box this March 14th and try some delicious savory pies from Myles Teddywedgers Cornish Pasty, located at 101 State Street.

Although it’s at the very end of State Street across from the Capitol (I know, I know, it’s a bit of a walk) Myles Teddywedgers is still definitely worth trying out and is undeniably unique. The menu is small and to the point, offering ground beef, steak, cheesy, veggie and chicken pies, or as Myles Teddywedgers likes to call them, “pasties.” Personally, I think the simple menu just adds to its quirky charm.

I went to Myles Teddywedgers for the first time this past fall, and I was actually really impressed with the simplicity of it. I just handed over my money and before I knew it I was holding a steaming hot dough ball bursting with chicken, veggies and cheese. There’s really nowhere to sit in the place itself, but luckily the Capitol steps and freakish 80 degree March weather are waiting for you right outside. Even though it was raining the first time I went, my roommate and I can fully admit we were in pure bliss sitting with our pies in the heart of Madison, with the Farmer’s Market bustling around us and street performers galore. Since then, I have made the trek up State Street several other times just to get my hands on one of those delicious pies. I’ve tried the “Big Cheesy” which is more of a pizza, filled with ground beef, mozzarella and pizza sauce, but I keep coming back to the classic chicken, which is basically a chicken pot pie. I mean, who doesn’t like comfort food in college?

Myles Teddywedgers

Here it is in all its glory!

So, once again, HAPPY PI DAY! If you’re feeling adventurous or just in the mood for a lazy stroll where you can enjoy the weather and listen to “Here Comes the Sun” over and over again on your iPod, take my advice and try out Myles Teddywedgers. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the holiday. Until next time, happy eating! ☺

Pointy objects for fun and profit: A layman’s guide to kitchen cutlery

By Joseph Shaul

While the average knife block may contains everything from scalpels to English broadswords, the number of knives truly necessary for most cooking tasks is in reality very small. Many professional chefs carry only two or three, and a few quality blades can replace a slew of inferior products. Purchasing the right knives and using them correctly makes cooking much more enjoyable, and greatly reduces the incidence of missing digits.

A brief comment on materials and origin:

There are a few venerable and respected knife manufacturers known for producing consistently flawless product. Sold under such banners as Wüsthof and Messermeister, these knives are forged of the finest materials by the learned dwarfs of Khazad-Dur in their great volcano forges.  Needless to say, you can’t afford them.

The good news is that rather less exotic production methods produce some perfectly serviceable knives. Even very pedestrian cutlery of decent quality can hold a remarkable edge, and a relatively small investment can produce highly worthwhile results.

While most knives are made of very similar alloys, there are some important distinctions in production methods. The best knives are forged, hammered into shame from a blob of molten steel in some Brunelian foundry; while hideously expensive, they do hold a fabulous edge. I don’t own any.

More common are knives stamped from a sheet of steel and honed down by machine. Despite the cut-rate manufacturing process, clever metallurgy can produce quality close to that of forged knives at a fraction of the cost. Most knives you’ll find in stores are accordingly produced.Quality is all over the map, but many brands provide functional and economical products.

A few vendors I’m willing to shill include Forschner and  Victorinox (yes, the  Swiss Army Knife people). Foodservice brands like Mercer, Genesis, and Dexter-Russell may be ugly and coarse, but they’re every bit as effective as their more luxurious counterparts at quadruple the price. A razor-sharp Victorinox $25 chef’s knife is worth more than an entire block of dull Wüsthofs, and offers very good value for money.

A special mention is reserved for the Cutco knives sold by Vector Marketing. So useless and dull as to be a hazard to their owners; anyone selling or having sold these should be ashamed of themselves. They really are that awful.

The Classic Chef’s Knife:

A slightly curved blade between 8″ and 11″ in length, the standard chef’s knife is the single most important tool you can have. A good one, kept sharp, can perform roughly 90% of the tasks in a kitchen, and the remainder can usually be fudged if you’re careful For chopping vegetables, it’s a must; for meat and fish there’s nothing better. It’s the most important tool you can have.

If you’re going to spend any significant sum on a knife, it should be this one. An entire block of cut-rate knives can’t beat the broad utility of one good chef’s knife.

The Paring Knife:

The smaller cousin to the chef’s knife, a paring knife is reduced in size for cutting objects held in the hand as opposed to on a cutting board. Useful for peeling, coring, and trimming, it’s a valuable tool for situationswhere a chef’s knife is simply too large and ungainly to be handy.  However, it’s small stature makes it unsuitable for cutting larger objects.

A good sharp paring knife is a valuable tool, and significantly reduces the chance of a too-large blade removing bits of your fingers. It’s not as broadly useful or impressive as its’ larger cousins, but its’ utility should not be underestimated.

The deboning knife:

A long, thin knife of relatively elastic construction, the deboning knife is designed to slide between bones and sever tendons on large joints of meat. Unless you regularly prepare large cuts of meat or frequently tear down large quantities of whole chickens, I can’t particularly commend spending much on one of these – if buying one at all.

The Cleaver:

Sometimes, you need to skin an onion. Sometimes, you need to decapitate an angry leopoard. For this eventuality, a cleaver is the  of choice.

Effectively a larger, heavier cousin of the chef’s knife, the cleaver is about as close as most home users will get to having an industrial laser in the kitchen. While other knives can separate bones, a cleaver will slice through them like mascarpone. It’s not particularly sophisticated, but if you want to coarsely dismember a turkey in three minutes, a cleaver is up to the task.

That’s not to say it’s a one-purpose beast, however. While somewhat more ungainly than the classic chef’s knife, a skilled operator can also create

 as flawless a dice or julienne as anything else. However, klutzes like the author would be better suited by the more easily manipulated chef’s knife.

It should be noted that poorly constructed cleavers dull very quickly due to the enormous pressure placed on the blade. However, if you have to prepare a lot of poultry or are frequently attacked by jungle cats, it’s a handy knife to have.

The serrated knife:

 There’s a certain degree of controversy as to the utility of the serrated knife in skilled hands: A sharp chef’s knife can dice vegetables with equal ease and greater speed, and the merit of buying a blade for the sole purpose of  separating crusty bread seems somewhat inefficient. In addition to the poor reputation of low-quality serrated “ginsu” (not actually a Japanese word) used in lieu of the real deal, the inability to repeatedly resharpen these knives makes them realtively unpopular.However, a good serrated knife definitely has the place in even a modest kitchen. As a bread knife, it can’t be beat; furthermore, they’re quite inexpensive, and very handy for thinly slicing meats. They’re no substitute for a good chef’s knife, however.

Going Greek

By Stefanie Dulak

While everyone’s focus is probably on eating as many Irish foods as possible this week (Irish Stew or Corned Beef and Cabbage anyone?), I decided to take a different route and concentrate on a dish from a different area of the world: Greece. Lentil soup is said to have originated in Greece where the legumes were first harvested between 10700-9400 BC. There are three reasons why I love lentil soup:

  1. It’s basically a one-pot dish, which means super easy cleanup.
  2. It’s almost impossible to mess up. You can add, remove or combine any ingredients you want, and the soup will still probably turn out delicious.
  3. It is very healthy and very filling. This recipe serves six and is only about 170 calories per serving.

I found a simple recipe for lentil soup from Alton Brown but modified it a bit to suit my personal tastes. Here’s what I did:


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, chopped (I love garlic, so I added it to the soup, but Alton didn’t use any.)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 pound lentils, picked and rinsed
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes (Alton suggests using peeled tomatoes from a can, but I didn’t have any so I just used cherry tomatoes and left the skins on.)
  • 2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth (I had just under 2 quarts of broth, so I just added water to make up the difference.)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground toasted cumin (Alton only used ½ teaspoon each of coriander and cumin, but I like a little more flavor, so I used a full teaspoon of each.)


  1. Place the olive oil into a large soup pot and set over medium heat.
  2. Once hot, add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery and salt, and sweat until the onions are translucent, approximately 6 to 7 minutes. (NOTE: don’t be afraid to use the leaves on the celery! They have a lot of flavor and add another texture to the soup.)
  3. Add the lentils, tomatoes, broth, coriander and cumin, and stir to combine.
  4. Increase the heat to high and bring just to a boil.
  5. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook at a low simmer until the lentils are tender, approximately 35 to 40 minutes.
  6. If you want, use a blender to puree the soup to your preferred consistency, but I just left it as is.


Use this recipe as a guideline. Modify the ingredients to reflect what you have on hand or what you prefer taste-wise. And if you really need to add Irish flair in honor of St. Patty’s Day, throw in some lamb.