Inspiration from Packerland: Recipes from Wisconsin

  • Photo courtesy Teri Robl.
  • Photo courtesy Teri Robl.

I am delighted once again to share stories, family traditions and my favorite recipes with you. This time of the year I want to be in my kitchen more than ever making delicious recipes from the harvested bounty of our garden, seafood from the bay, moose from the hunt and our chickens’ eggs.

I am inspired to bake bread and sweet treats and braise or roast savory dishes more than ever once the weather turns chilly. Special ingredients brought from Wisconsin inspire me even more.

Those of you who have read the column in the past know my husband and I visit our families in Wisconsin this time of the year when the beautiful autumn leaves color the countryside. Harvests of pumpkins, squash and apples, attending a Green Bay Packer football game complete with a tailgate party with plenty of local goodies, eating lots of lake perch, walleye, cheese and sausage and visits with our families make the long journey south worth the time and memorable.

While the Other Fisherman and I were there last month, we took a day to tour Lambeau Stadium, home of the Green Bay Packers football team. We learned a lot about the history of the team, toured the Packer Hall of Fame and shopped in the Packer Pro Shop. The OF was in football utopia, but I was looking forward to lunch after all this football business.

We dined in a restaurant located in Lambeau stadium called 1919, named for the year the Packers were organized and became a team. We enjoyed the beer cheese soup so much I had make it once we returned to Alaska with some of the finely crafted Wisconsin cheese we came home with. It is rich and delicious and perfect this time of year on a chilly evening.

Wisconsin 1919 Beer Cheese Soup

Yield - 6 -8 medium sized bowls

Ingredients:

Mild Onion - 1 cup, fine dice

Carrots - 1 cup, fine dice

Celery - 1 cup, fine dice

Fresh Garlic – 1-2 cloves, minced

Black Pepper - 1/4 teaspoon

Salt - 1/2 teaspoon

Cayenne Pepper - 1/4 teaspoon

Beer – ale or pilsner - 2 cups

Chicken Broth - store bought or homemade – 3 cups

(I don’t recommend using broth made with bullion as it will be too salty)

Butter - 1/3 cup

Flour - 1/3 cup

Milk - 4 cups

Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese, good quality – 4-6 cups shredded (about 1 pound)

Worcestershire Sauce - 2 teaspoons

Dijon Mustard - 1 Tablespoon

Dry Mustard - 1 teaspoon

Frank’s Hot Sauce – 1-2 teaspoons

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit to make croutons if you aren’t garnishing soup with popcorn.

Melt one tablespoon of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat (reserving the rest of the butter for later in the recipe).

Add carrots, onion, celery, and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes.

Stir in the cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.

Pour in chicken broth and beer and simmer for about 5-7 minutes. Then, remove from heat.

Heat the remaining butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour and whisk until the flour and butter have combine and is a light brown color. Gradually stir in milk and whisk until thickened.

Remove from heat. Gradually whisk in the cheese.

Add the beer into the cheese mixture. Stir in the Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard and hot sauce. Bring it to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.

I prefer a smooth soup so I chose to use my immersion blender, which works well.

While the soup simmers prepare croutons or popcorn. We love croutons at our house, but popcorn is fun to serve with the soup as well.

To make croutons- dice a dense, preferably day- old sourdough bread into 1- inch cubes. Toss with a bit of olive oil and melted butter. Transfer to a baking pan or cookie sheet and sprinkle generously with kosher salt and a little bit of herbs de Provence or Italian seasoning and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, until crunchy and golden brown.

To serve, remove bay leaf and ladle soup into bowls or big mugs and sprinkle with popcorn, home-made croutons, crumbled bacon or crushed up pretzels.

We took a drive up to northern Wisconsin and made a stop at a cranberry farm.

Cranberries have long been Wisconsin’s number one fruit crop. Some marshes in the state have been successfully producing a crop for more than 100 years. I love cooking and eating these ruby red jewels from my home state.

I returned home with fresh cranberries which I froze for our Thanksgiving dinner. I make them into fresh cranberry orange relish and cranberry orange bread from my Grandma’s recipes.

I found a few recipes while at the farm and thought you would enjoy baking a batch of cinnamon cranberry cookies now that we can purchase cranberries locally.The sharpness of cinnamon is a perfect accompaniment with sweetened, dried cranberries, and there is a bit of chocolate in them making these cookies extra yummy.

Cinnamon Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

Recipe doubles well if you have cookie monsters around!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cream together:

1 cup butter

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup white sugar

Add:

1 egg

½ teaspoon vanilla

Mix together:

1 cup flour

1 ¼ cup oatmeal (process in food processor about 30 seconds)

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

6 ounces, (1/2 bag) of cinnamon chips

2 ounces grated milk chocolate

¾ cup dried sweetened cranberries

Add dry ingredient to creamed mixture. Drop by rounded teaspoons on cookie sheet. Press down slightly with fingers or bottom of a glass.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Next week Thanksgiving will be just around the corner, so I’ll share some of the dishes that find their way to our holiday table.

Thanks for joining me again.

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