The boxed brownie debate

October is the fourth-annual Dining Month on All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delicious features, chef profiles, unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2010."

I'm normally a die-hard from scratch kind of cook, but as much as I love homemade brownies, my husband prefers the boxed version. This got me thinking about pre-fab foods and why we may love them.

Is it convenience? Is it the MSG and other addictive additives, or something else?

I personally like Stove Top stuffing. I actually make a pretty darn good homemade bread stuffing, my grandmother used to make oyster stuffing and my father in law has historically brought great stuffing on Thanksgiving from the now-closed Alpine Village in Mequon but for whatever reason, my preference is chicken-flavored Stove Top (I don't care for the turkey version).

In my case, it probably has something to do with the tasty artificial ingredients that are undoubtedly terrible for me.

With the boxed brownies, I think Scott actually prefers that kind of crunchy dryness you get with boxed brownies versus the moistness of a homemade pan of from-scratch brownies.

You can purchase just about everything one would normally make from scratch in pre-made form these days. I suppose this is in part why Sandra Lee of the Food Network (a Wisconsin native, by the way) has claimed fame through a show called "Semi-Homemade" -- a show where she cheats her way into high quality dinners by using some homemade, some pre-made ingredients.

Is it really cheating anymore these days when so many people don't even bother to cook? Shortly after watching Sandra put out a giant spread with multiple store-bought ingredients, I watched as Guy Fieri made his own pita bread on "Guy's Big Bite" and thought that I would never do that since he could only bake them two at a time. It would take me several hours to make enough to entertain company.

So, maybe it's a combination of tast…

Triskele's, 1801 S. 3rd Pl., is ready for fall.
Triskele's, 1801 S. 3rd Pl., is ready for fall.

Triskele's offers fall specials

October is the fourth-annual Dining Month on All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delicious features, chef profiles, unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2010."

Even as fall is upon us with less than the customary blustery weather, Triskele's, 1801 S. 3rd Pl., is getting us ready for those cold, cold evenings with a new batch of fall specials.

And don't be deterred by the construction on South 2nd Street; remember, your favorite restaurants need loving, too.

Triskele's nightly fall specials include:

  • Tuesday -- All you can eat mussels for only $8 per person.
  • Wednesday -- 1/2 Off bottles of wine & beer on draft.
  • Thursday -- 1/2 Off appetizers, $4 glasses of house wine & $4 fall sangria.
  • Friday -- Fish Fry, of course, but oh ... so much more.

Triskele's is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Quick and simple cooking: Tarragon shrimp

Ever have one of those dishes that just brings back floods of memories? For a quick dinner the other night, I pulled some fresh tarragon from our garden and recreated a basic shrimp dish that my friend and former boss, Bob, used to make for his catering business.

I think his version was probably more elaborate than what I whipped up tonight in under 20 minutes, but it brought back memories of when was still in college and my friend Heidi would come in and help out with catering gigs where we needed an extra hand.

We would always grab a heaping plate of the tarragon shrimp when they were on the menu and stuff ourselves silly on them; and when there were leftovers, we'd carefully pack those away, too, (with Bob's permission, of course) to fill our college student refrigerators with were otherwise pretty barren.

It's still a great, quick meal, and one that leaves you licking your lips afterward. I paired this with a little jasmine rice and a nice mixed baby green and fresh mozzarella salad with a tomato from the garden (the cucumbers aren't ready yet), but it would be equally delicious with mashed potatoes and some roasted vegetables or a nice plate of angel hair pasta with garlic butter sauce.



  • 1 pound large shrimp (16-20 count or higher)
  • ¬Ĺ stick of butter
  • ¬ľ cup roughly chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed and then thinly sliced
  • Black pepper
  • Sea salt

Peel, devein, and butterfly shrimp (carefully cut a small slit alongside the back of the shrimp so that it can be laid flat in the pan with the tail upright, and remove the black line-the "mudline"). Pat dry lightly with a paper towel and season generously with fresh ground pepper and sea salt.

Pour the olive oil into a saut√© pan over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add your garlic and saut√© for about 30-45 seconds. Add the shrimp, one at a time, pressing the butterflie…


Milwaukee Chop House wine list honored

For the eighth consecutive year, Milwaukee ChopHouse, located inside the Hilton Milwaukee City Center, has received Wine Spectator magazine's Award of Excellence for an outstanding wine list. The award recognizes restaurants with wine lists that offer a well-chosen selection of quality producers, along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style.

According to ChopHouse Executive Chef Brian Frakes, many restaurant patrons come to the restaurant specifically to peruse the impressive wine selections.

The ChopHouse is one of 2,880 restaurants nationwide, and one of only 10 Milwaukee restaurants to earn Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence in 2010, and is in good company with one other hotel restaurant, Smyth, of the Iron Horse Hotel.

Other Milwaukee recipients include Joe Bartolotta's Lake Park Bistro, Michele and Jeff Green's Bosley on Brady, Marc and Marta Bianchini's Indulge and Osteria del Mundo, Sandy and Angie D'Amato's Sanford, Sabor Brazilian Churrascaria, The Capital Grille, and the now closed Fratello's Waterfront Restaurant.

Bartolotta's Bacchus was the only Milwaukee restaurant to receive Wine Spectator's Best of Award of Excellence in 2010, the publication's second-tier award which gives special recognition to restaurants that exceed Award of Excellence requirements by displaying vintage depth or excellent breadth across several regions.