Autumn Butternut Squash Casserole

by Téalin Robinson

Whenever Thanksgiving rolls around, you begin to think about the wonderful food your family will cook, which results in copious amounts of leftovers to be turned into whatever crazy concoction you can think of. Unlike the traditional Thanksgiving feast most people enjoy, my family goes straight to the unusual dishes you would only think of creating in a food science class. Occasionally the experiments lead to delicious versions of turkey soup or sweet potato burritos.

Several years ago, amidst our untraditional Thanksgiving, my grandmother attempted a new dessert recipe, in addition to the usual pumpkin, apple and blueberry pies. Somehow the idea that apples, squash and corn flakes mixed together would create an unforgettable taste, came to my grandmother. Since that Thanksgiving, this delectable Butternut Squash Casserole became a fall season staple in my household.

Casserole Ingredients:

resized_20161110_1543523 c mashed, cooked butternut squash

¼ c + 2 Tbsp butter, room temperature

¼ c brown sugar

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

6 c sliced Jonathan and Granny Smith apples

¼ c sugar

Topping:

2 Tbsp butter

½ c chopped pecans

½ c brown sugar

1 ½ c corn flakes (crushed)

Begin by peeling and cooking your butternut squash until soft and mashable. Then combine the cooked squash, butter, brown sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl, and then set it aside. Next, heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet, and then add the sliced apples. Sprinkle them with sugar for extra sweetness. Then, cover and simmer the apples over low heat until they are browned and barely tender. Finally, spread the apple mixture in the bottom of an oval 3 qt casserole dish, and spoon the squash mixture over the apples.

Next, to begin the topping, melt the butter over the cornflakes in a medium sized bowl, and mix in the nuts. Place the topping over the squash and bake it at 350 F for 20-25 minutes. Eat this unusual dessert warm and sliced like a pie.

Pumpkin Bars

by Téalin Robinson

Rather than attempting the classic pumpkin roll, which should really remain as the original winter season chocolate Buche de Noel, my grandmother decided to spice things up by creating pumpkin bars instead. As one of her favorite autumn recipes, and one of mine also, I simply had to share her secret for constructing these delicious bars. They have a more light, cakey texture, rather than your usual dense layer bars. Due to its versatility for occasions, these pumpkin bars are perfect for sweet snacks, fall desserts or as a small breakfast treat. When warmed with a drizzle of icing or topped with whipped cream, these bars go well with a tall glass of milk, or a fresh cup of coffee.

Pumpkin Bars Ingredients:

1 cup shortening

2 eggs, beaten

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1 c chopped walnuts

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp allspice

2 cups brown sugar

2 cups flour

½ tsp ginger

1 cup dried coconut

Icing:

2 cups powdered sugar

Milk of your preference

2 tsp vanilla

To begin, beat the eggs and set aside. Cream the shortening and the vanilla together until combined. Then add the sugar and beat the mixture until fluffy. Add the beaten eggs and the pumpkin. Next, stir the flour and the spices slowly into the creamed mixture until it’s smooth, for about 3 minutes. Once the mixture is without lumps, fold in the coconut and the nuts. Spread the mixture into a greased 10×6-inch pan, and bake it at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

While the bars are cooling, make the glaze to go on top. The bars taste just as wonderful with a scoop of whipped cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Making the glaze is fairly simple; begin by sifting the powdered sugar to remove any lumps. Then add the milk of your preference (I use skim milk since it is thinner) to the powdered sugar creating a runny consistency. Then add a touch of vanilla. I prefer to use 2 tsp for the full vanilla effect, but the amount added is up to you. Finally, drizzle the glaze over cooled bars, and enjoy.

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Pizza, Please.

by Madison Fortman

Pizza continues to be a classic favorite that comes in a plethora of styles. It is a dish that continues to evolve as people experiment with new toppings and cooking techniques. As a native Chicagoan, I am biased toward Chicago-style pizza. The thick and crunchy crust serves as the base for not only a mound of chunky tomato sauce, but also a healthy portion of cheese. Walking into Pizza Brutta, though, I was convinced that maybe I may be converted into a lover of more than just the Chicago deep dish.

Tucked into Monroe Street, Pizza Brutta is bustling with young families, Madison natives and a sea of Badger fans. The restaurant is small, but gives off a comfortable and family oriented, community vibe. The restaurant on Monroe is one of Pizza Brutta’s two locations, another location recently opened in Middleton. My mouth began to salivate as soon as I walked into the storefront, with the overpowering aroma of fresh pizza washing over me. The restaurant was packed, but diligent workers frantically moved about, seeming to have service down to a science. Making my way up to the front counter I contemplated the variety of Neapolitan pizzas that Pizza Brutta has to offer.

Neapolitan pizza is known for having a tender, doughy crust, topped simply with sweet tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh mozzarella. Classic Neapolitan pizzas include the Margherita, but plenty of other options with Neapolitan style also exist. The pizza is generally cooked in a wood-fired oven that allows the ingredients to melt and blend together. Compared to Chicago or New York style pizza you can expect the Neapolitan pizza to focus more on the basics of simplicity and freshness. The end result is a light, flavorful pizza that surpasses expectations.

I found myself choosing the Olivetto pizza. This dish is under the pizza category of “Pizza Rosso” simply meaning the pizzas have San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, olive oil, sea salt and any additional toppings specific to the individual pizza. Layered perfectly on the Olivetto were basil, artichoke, sun-dried tomatoes, and goat cheese.

Behind a transparent counter and working space, I watched Pizza Brutta chefs work to make each pizza fresh and to the customers specific liking. While you can order off the restaurant’s signature pizza menu, customers also have the autonomy to design their own personal pizza. From rolling out the dough, to topping the pizza, and finally seeing it come in and out of the oven, Pizza Brutta is unique in allowing customers to witness the entirety of the pizza making process.

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My Olivetto pizza was delivered sizzling out of the wood-burning oven in a prompt manner. The pizza was a gracious size and priced at $11.50. While the pizzas are a size that you could share, if you are feeling ambitious, my suggestion is to order your own. You may even find it hard to possess enough self-control to not eat the whole pizza in one sitting, but if you do, it serves well as left overs for another meal.

As I bit into my first slice, for a second I could almost envision myself removed from the busy restaurant in Madison and in a quaint cafe in Italy. All the ingredients tasted so fresh and were put together with such thought and passion. It was hard to control myself from not downing one slice after another. The warm crust was lightly golden with a subtle crunch, but you’ll find that in the center, the crust was soft and a doughy delight.

The tomato sauce was also light and sweet. The tomatoes used to make the sauce were grown outside Naples, Italy, giving the dish an authentic Italian touch. In addition, their mozzarella is made fresh in-house. The restaurant’s focus on quality, fresh ingredients has to do with their pledge to agricultural sustainability. If interested, you can find more about their goal for providing the best local ingredients on their website.

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To top off the meal, I could not resist ordering a Nutella pizza for desert. It hit every sweet tooth craving imaginable. Its hot and freshly baked pizza dough was covered in dollops of Nutella and garnished with powdered sugar. Simply by writing this article I have flash backs to the sugary treat, which was heavenly and worth every bite.

If pizza is not for you, or if you are looking for a side with your pizza, there are salad options that Pizza Brutta offers as well. There are kids meals too and also accommodations for people who are gluten-free. Pizza Brutta offers college students the ability to have more than just a typical fast-food pizza slice; they offer an authentic experience. The specific Neapolitan style of pizza is also something not regularly offered on campus. With the Madison location not being far from campus, the prices being reasonable and the pizza being extremely unique, Pizza Brutta is definitely a place that college students can enjoy.

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An Effortless Combination: Brussels Sprouts & Eggs

by Elizabeth Geboy

Possibly the simplest way to prepare brussels sprouts is also the greatest. Sliced, browned, served. And absolutely delicious. This protein packed, high vitamin dish is a beneficial breakfast or lunch, even if you’re in a hurry. The sprouts can also be sliced in advance to make your morning even easier. Brussels Sprouts’ peak season is mid-fall, and you can buy them on the stalk at the farmer’s market (or pre cut off, if you fancy an easier route). This is my go-to whenever I’m hungry, or when I need to make brunch for friends. It’s about two eggs per person, but it can be adjusted depending on how hungry you and your friends are.

1-1 1/2 cups brussels sprouts

2 eggs

1 sprig fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried thyme

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Lemon

Optional: chopped fresh Serrano, or other dried chile, to taste

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Remove the bottom of the brussels sprouts with a paring knife. Cut all the sprouts into thin slices, breaking apart the large leaf pieces. Alternatively, fit the single chopping blade to a food processor, and shave all the brussels sprouts.

Heat a large pan over medium with enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Add the brussels sprouts (turn down the heat to medium low if they pop and spray too much). Add thyme, salt and cracked pepper. Add the spicy chile here, if including it. Move the sprouts around in the pan every few minutes, until they are cooked down and browned. Push them over to one half side of the pan, turn down the heat to medium low. Crack the eggs into the open spaces, and cook as much as you like – ‘over easy’, half-cooked yolk, or flip to make the egg ‘over hard’.

Serve hot with a squeeze of lemon.

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French Chocolate Macarons

by Annie McGrail

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There is nothing quite like a wonderfully sweet dessert, and while I spent a month in France over the summer studying abroad, I was never without them. However, as I went from one incredible pâtisserie to another I always found myself ordering the same thing: one chocolate macaron (un macaron chocolat). Each one was uniquely delicious as it slowly melted in my mouth with every bite. Macarons come in every flavor imaginable: pistachio, rose, Nutella, vanilla, raspberry and many more. As a chocolate lover myself, I had to stick to the classic chocolate.

Unfortunately, after I returned home, I was never able to find ones that were the right balance of rich flavor and light feel. This drove me to search for the perfect recipe to make great macarons on my own, and I believe I have found it. This recipe for Chocolate Hazelnut Macarons may seem time consuming, but it is completely worth it to make such a remarkable French pastry.

(From butterbaking.com, but all ingredients transferred to American measurement standards).

For the macaron shells:

3 cups almond meal

2 2/5 powdered sugar

½ cup cocoa

4 egg whites

2 tbsp strong coffee

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/3 cup sugar (superfine, food processed)

4 egg whites

For the chocolate hazelnut ganache:

2 ¼ cup finely chopped milk chocolate

¾ cup & 2 tablespoons heavy cream

½ stick unsalted butter, softened

5 ½ tbsp Nutella

For macaron shells:

Line 4 – 6 trays with baking paper. Sift the almond meal, icing sugar and cocoa into a large bowl and mix well. Pour 4 egg whites, the coffee and vanilla over the dry ingredients. Do not mix, and set aside.

To make an Italian meringue, put the remaining 4 egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, but do not turn on. Put the superfine sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir. Place over a medium heat and fit with a candy thermometer. Watch the sugar as for it to boil. When the mixture reaches about 230 F, turn on the stand mixer and whip egg whites on high speed, until they form very soft peaks. The sugar should be 239 F at this stage. When the sugar reaches 239 F, turn off the heat. While the egg whites are still beating on high, pour the sugar syrup, very slowly, into the eggs. Aim for a point in between the side of the bowl and the moving whisk. Continue to beat until the mixture cools (feel it through the base of the bowl).

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Fold the Italian meringue into the almond meal mixture in three batches, until well incorporated and smooth. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with medium round nozzle and pipe small 1 inch rounds of mixture onto the lined trays, allowing a little room for spreading. Tap each tray onto the bench a few times, HARD, to remove air bubbles. Repeat until all the mixture is used. Set the trays of macarons aside for about 30 minutes so they can develop a skin.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake the macarons for 11 – 12 minutes, opening the door at the 8 minute mark and the 10 minute mark, in order to let out any steam. If they grow and develop little “feet”, they have worked. They are ready when you can gently lift one off the tray without leaving its foot behind.

Set the macarons aside to cool completely while you make the ganache. Place the finely chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to the boil and pour it over the chocolate. Set aside for 2 – 3 minutes, then stir, starting from the middle, until the chocolate is melted and incorporated with the cream. Set aside in the refrigerator until firm. Add the melted butter and Nutella to the ganache and use a stick blender to blitz the mixture until it is light and fluffy (you can also do this in a food processor), scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally.

Match the macaron shells up so they have partners of similar size. Upturn one shell of each pair of macarons. Spoon the ganache into a piping bag fitted with a medium round piping tip. Pipe a little ganache onto the center of each upturned macaron. Sandwich it together with its partner.

Keep refrigerated, if not consumed immediately. Makes 50 – 60 macarons.

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Watch What You Eat: Buzzfeed’s Tasty Videos

By Daniella Byck

As my third semester of college came to a close, I found myself immersed in a new form of stress relief. Pushing aside flashcards and textbooks, I could be found huddled over my phone watching seemingly anonymous hands easily combine pre measured ingredients, throwing together an elaborate dish with ease. With winter rolling in and finals piling up, Buzzfeed’s Tasty videos became my oasis.

Tasty’s Facebook page describes the concept as “food that’ll make you close your eyes, lean back, and whisper ‘yessss.’ Snack-sized videos and recipes you’ll want to try.” The videos are all shot in the same aerial style and set to an upbeat, lyricless soundtrack with an emphatic declaration of deliciousness to end each clip. The entire experience is confined to about one minute.

“Its satisfying to watch a really good meal be prepared in such a short period of time,” said sophomore student Jess Schwartz.

The videos have given birth to a social media empire. The Facebook page was established in July 2015 and has since garnered 74,602,410 followers. Additionally, Tasty can be found on Pinterest, Instagram, Vine, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr and its own mobile application. Beyond the main Tasty page, there are spin-offs such as Proper Tasty’s twist on British recipes or the course specific Tasty Desserts.  

“I find tasty videos extremely therapeutic,” said senior student Jacob Weissburg. “They’re always a terse distraction in the middle of a busy day when I’m scrolling through Facebook.”

The aesthetic qualities streamlined across all Tasty videos create a perception of simplicity. Tasty’s world of seemingly concise and convenient cooking provides a welcome respite from hectic exams, conflicting activities and bustle of student life.

”Tasty videos are the meditations of millennials. Immediately gratifying and extremely stimulating,” said junior student Molly Galinson.

The relationship between food media and relaxation is not unexplored territory. The idyllic sets of Food Network shows summon an illusion of organization and order. Instagrams touting slow motion shots of cheese pulling off of pizza invite a satisfying mental reward. Harper Magazine published a piece drawing parallels between food porn and sexual porn – both share a sense of effortlessness while addressing primal human needs. In fact, food videos trigger the same pleasure centers.

“It soothes me to watch videos of people doing easy cooking,” said sophomore student Lindsey Feder.  “It takes my mind off of life.”

With exams coming to a close and winter break approaching, I found myself inspired to take on a deceptively simple Tasty recipe. The video titled Cheese Spinach and Artichoke Bread Ring Dip seemed easy enough. Alas, after a mishap with slow to rise bread rolls and a mess of kitchen tools, I produced a dish far more time consuming and complex than advertised. However, my real life experiment did not tarnish the video watching experience. Each new videos still brings with it a welcome opportunity to escape into the fantasy world of the Tasty kitchen.

Photo retrieved from Tasty’s Facebook page.

Video retrieved from Tasty & Yummy’s YouTube Channel.

Street Eats with Jeremy: Taste of Jamaica

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Taste of Jamaica

What I ordered: Jerk Chicken Lunch

Price: $8

Right away, I added a bit of the spicy, red sauce to this mix of rice, jerk chicken, beans, carrots, string beans, cabbage, broccoli, red bell pepper and spices. This is no organized meal like a Bento box, but rather it’s a bowl full of textures and flavors, all blending in with one another. Even more, it is plentiful, so even if you have a large appetite, you will be perfectly stuffed upon completion.

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What I liked: First of all, this dish exudes a savory, mouth-watering aroma. The shredded chicken is perfectly moist and is paired in good ratio with the amount of rice. In addition, the many shapes and sizes of the chicken pieces along with the variety of vegetables makes each bite unique. The veggies are tasty, in abundance and easily identifiable. The jerk spices give the meal some heat, although not overpowering, and the spice lingers on your tongue, as you would expect from jerk chicken. With plenty of rice, meat, veggies and beans, this meal certainly satisfies and is well worth the price.

taste-of-jamaicaWhat I did not like: Although this meal has many ingredients, I found it to be overall somewhat soft; it could use some kind of crunch factor. In addition, I almost wish the jerk spices and flavors were more powerful. Lastly, because this meal is fully mixed and not compartmentalized, there is not too much involvement on the part of the eater (no scooping, dipping, pouring), which could provide a more active eating experience.

Overall Score: 7/10

-Jeremy Kogan

Street Eats with Jeremy: Kakilima

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Kakilima: Authentic Indonesian Food

What I ordered: Nasi Goreng, authentically seasoned fried rice with chicken, vegetables, egg, acar and krupuk

Price: $7.50

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Along with this rice and shredded chicken dish comes krupuk, deep-fried, bowl-shaped crackers and a light, cucumber, carrot salad. I quickly discovered I could use the krupuk to scoop up rice and chicken, creating a sort of Indonesian nachos. The rice was packed with flavor from a variety of spices and was mixed with acar, sprouts, mushrooms and other unidentified veggies, in addition to the shredded chicken. I added a dash of the sweet and sour sauce and the spicy, red sauce for a full flavor experience.

What I liked: The rice, chicken and veggies had the perfect texture combination including crispness from the sprouts and a crunch factor from the veggies. After scooping it with the krupuk, I found true textural harmony. The cucumber carrot salad was simple and marinated perfectly as to make it not overly acidic. This dish was a hefty portion packed with a variety of flavors and textures, making it a must-try.

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What I did not like: Although the krupuk was a great paring with the rice, be sure to eat it first, because it quickly gets soggy. In addition, the cucumber, carrot salad is tasty, but I found there were too many carrots compared to cucumbers, throwing off the textural ratio. Lastly, the spices in the rice are full of flavor, but there’s something about the flavor that bothered my stomach a bit, so although this may not apply to everyone, I figured I’d mention it.

Overall Score: 6/10

-Jeremy Kogan 

Ribs & Biscuits

Photos by Meghan Horvath

Photos by Meghan Horvath

By Amelia Chen

Sometimes the satisfying thing about eating is not just the food itself but the primal nature of eating with your hands, gnawing on bones and just making a huge mess. Wings and drumsticks are perfect meat lollipops for casual Friday nights around the television. Chops are meant to be licked clean at the end of a comforting dinner. But what really satisfies that primal urge for me is a sticky, juicy and tender rack of ribs.

Barbeque can mean different things for different people and, hailing from North Carolina, that usually means pork for me, whether it’s just the shoulder or the entire hog. Or a sticky, juicy and tender rack of ribs.

Like any low and slow meat dish, ribs are incredibly low maintenance. They require a watchful eye once they go in the oven, but the next time you have big plans to study while doing laundry, maybe make some ribs instead. Somehow, I think taking down a rack of ribs is the perfect reward after a couple hours of productive work.

And if you’re a scavenger like myself, save and freeze the bones for a good homemade stock down the road.

Spicy Date Dr Pepper Ribs adapted from Pioneer Woman

6 ounces dates
½ cup sugar
1 can Dr Pepper
5 ounces chipotle peppers in adobo
⅓ cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon distilled vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 packages baby back ribs

Bring all ingredients except ribs to a gentle boil for about 20 minutes or until dates break down and sauce is reduced and thick. Allow to cool completely before blending sauce until smooth. Divide into two portions.

Brush half the sauce on ribs, wrap with foil and refrigerate for eight hours or overnight to marinate.

Preheat oven to 275°F. Place covered ribs on pan and roast for two hours. Remove foil and brush more sauce onto ribs. Increase temperature to 300°F to finish cooking another 30 to 40 minutes. Remove when fork tender and ready to fall off the bone. Serve as with pear walnut biscuits.

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Pear Walnut Biscuits

1 ½ cup milk
1 ½ tablespoon distilled vinegar
1 large pear, peeled and cubed
4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup shortening
1 cup roasted walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 475 °F.

Simmer milk with pear chunks until softened. Remove from heat and blend until smooth. Add vinegar and let sit a couple minutes to curdle.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in shortening until coarse crumbs form. Add in walnuts. Slowly pour in milk until it comes together.

Turn out dough on floured surface and lightly knead before rolling out into a rectangle. Cut out rounds with biscuit cutter, being careful not the twist cutter. Bake 10 to 12 minutes.

Honey Trout Gravalax

Photo by Libby Geboy

Photo by Libby Geboy

By Libby Geboy

Gravlax is a salty, sweet way to prepare fish, specifically salmon or trout. Originally from Sweden, the traditional way to prepare a whole side of fish involves wrapping the fillet in dill or pine needles (neither of which I used in this recipe out of personal preference). Feel free to wrap the fish with them and let it marinate in the greenery.

This recipe can be modified in many ways, using whatever spices you have on hand, like bay leaves, coriander, dill, caraway, fennel seeds (add about one tablespoon per filet of each spice) and brown or white sugar.

Only use the freshest of fish, as the fillet isn’t fully “cooked” but rather it is cured. I find my fish at the local farmer’s market, where I can count on the fish being clean and healthy up to its harvest. The vendor had told me that the fish I was purchasing had been swimming in fresh water until the day before it was caught, so I bought it!

The fish can marinate for up to 48 hours, but needs to be marinating for at least eight. It can be stored for a few days, but if it starts to smell funny before then, just get rid of it. It’s easy to eat on toast with sour cream, dill sprigs and a squeeze of lemon, so I bet it’ll be gone in no time!

1 medium-large filet of trout (or salmon)
1/3 cup natural honey
1/3 cup coarse grain salt
2 tablespoons cracked black or white pepper
1 tablespoon white sugar

Remove any pin bones that are along the thick side of the fish, careful not to disrupt the flesh as much as possible. Trim any fins or excess skin that might be on the sides of the filet. Place into a sheet of plastic wrap that will be big enough to wrap the fish in.

In a bowl, mix together the honey, salt, pepper, sugar and any other spices you are using. Rub onto the fish, massaging it gently. Place the fish onto the plastic wrap, skin side down. If using dill/pine, place a mass of it on top of the fish flesh. Tightly wrap the fish in plastic wrap, using another layer to fully wrap the fish. Put the wrapped fish into a shallow baking pan (I used a bread pan, as it fit the length of my fish), or a plate. This is so any liquid that escapes is caught in your drip pan.

Let the fish marinate for at least eight hours (but up to 48) in your refrigerator. When ready, open the wrapping, and remove the fillet. If desired, wash off the fillet to remove excess honey/salt. Using a sharp knife, thinly slice the fish, avoiding the skin.

Serve chilled, on top of toast with sour cream, more dill, a squeeze of lemon, with chives, or with oranges in a salad.

That BBQ Joint

Photos by Meghan Horvath

Photos by Meghan Horvath

By Joshua Bartels

It was a blisteringly cold day in February. The kind of day where you just want to sit down next to a fireplace with a warm cup of hot chocolate and a book. However, I was craving some good ole’ fashioned barbecue. So, after class I headed straight towards That BBQ Joint.

That BBQ Joint is located at 901 Williamson Street, about two-and-a-half miles away from campus. Is the walk worth it? In a word: Frick yes! Okay, that was two words, but you get the idea. I was immediately welcomed to the restaurant with very friendly service. The eatery itself is on the smaller side, as it holds only about five tables, but it is very cozy with BBQ-themed art along the walls. After taking an embarrassingly long time to decide what to eat, I asked the clerk what he recommended, and he responded with the Rib Sammie, their rib sandwich.

Photos by Meghan Horvath

Photos by Meghan Horvath

After about a five minute wait, I got my warm Sammie along with sides of potato salad and brisket chili. The sandwich itself was very delicious; filled with extremely tender BBQ, lightly covered with their signature Mo’ Sauce, next to crisp onions and sliced pickles.  At first, it seemed a little lacking of sauce, but thankfully they give more for those who want it. With the added sauce, the sandwich was like a BBQ lovers dream come true, especially on such a cold evening. Their three options for BBQ sauce were all good, but I’d have to say that the Mo’ Spicy sauce was by far the best, as it left the perfect amount of that spicy tingling sensation of the tongue that the best sauces always do.

As for the sides themselves, they don’t quite compare to the greatness of the actual BBQ. The chili and the potato salad tasted like your generic chili and potato salad that a distant relative brings to a reunion. They were both good, just not great. Another negative to the restaurant is that it keeps odd hours. It is closed on both Monday and Tuesday, along with breaks between 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. on Wednesdays through Saturdays.

So would I recommend That BBQ Joint? Why yes, yes I would. Even though the hours might not always be the most convenient, it’s located a bit farther away and the sides may not be outstanding, the BBQ itself is amazing, and if you’re going to That BBQ Joint for the BBQ, then it’s perfect. Not only that, it’s amazing. I know I’ll be returning there shortly to get another fix of some of the best BBQ Madison has to offer.

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Photo by Meghan Horvath

Robinia Courtyard Trio

Photos by Molly Wallace

Photos by Molly Wallace

By Annaleigh Wetzel

East Washington Avenue is the site of a food revival in Madison. New restaurants, a grocery store and several bars are popping up all along the street, begging to be visited. Among the many additions to the area is Robinia Courtyard. The Courtyard is made up of Julep restaurant, A-OK coffeehouse and Barolo wine bar: a seemingly odd concoction of establishments that somehow make complete sense together on the taste buds.

Hip Julep

Photos by Molly Wallace

Photos by Molly Wallace

Julep is the grouping’s full-fledged restaurant featuring Southern-inspired snacks, little plates and dinners on its concise, one-page menu. The interior is fresh and hip, with exposed white brick and a sleek wooden bar. The menu builds steam and impressiveness as diners peruse it from start to finish. That said, ordering from it in stages is the way to go; be sure to give its three parts each a little bit of love. And don’t forget about selecting a cocktail or two (the Mendoza is a fun treat) to sip on while enjoying this down-home feast.

The Buttermilk Biscuit, Cast Iron Cornbread and Smoked Ham Hock Terrine are some of the snack stand-outs. Arriving at the table still warm, the biscuit is fluffy and moist on the inside, but deliciously crumbly on the outside. It’s a great starter to share with a pal:  half is a nice portion to stifle the rumbling of your stomach. Skip the lackluster jam and butter that comes with; it doesn’t need any accouterments anyway. The cornbread offers what the biscuit does not: a touch of added sugar. Both carbs are equally tasty, but eating them side-by-side clearly marks the biscuit as savory and the cornbread as sweet, making them the perfect pair. The terrine is perhaps the biggest nod to the restaurant’s novel take on traditional Southern cooking. The cold, pâté-esque ham spread is plated with a few pieces of Texas toast, chilled, pickled green beans and a grainy mustard that gives the dish a subtle kick.

Next, don’t be dissuaded by the presence of pig ears in the Nashville Salad. Think ‘bacon bits,’ and munch on. Or spring for the Mississippi Delta Tamales with roasted pork and a dark chocolate mole sauce. Then comes the fireworks finale: the dinner section. Farro Risotto and the Brisket Pot Roast act as happy complements to one another, both with warm winter veggies and rich flavor profiles. The Perlou is another killer choice with smoked white fish, oysters and Andouille sausage atop crispy grits.

Next time you find yourself in this budding food-friendly neighborhood, take a spin through the Courtyard. Grab a few small plates and imbibe in a Mint Julep, as the name of the restaurant begs.

It’ll be A-OK

Photos by Molly Wallace

Photos by Molly Wallace


A-OK Sunshine & Spirits screams just that, plus some more. It’s fashioned after an old-school diner with a new-age flare. A rounded bar counter is accompanied by spinning stools, high top tables and wooden booths, all set atop blue and yellow geometric-checkered linoleum floor. Tough to picture? Now to complicate things even further: A-OK is a coffee shop, bar, lunch break spot and burger joint. Still confused? Well, that’s just part of its charm.

At its most basic level, A-OK is defined by the time of day you’re visiting. Kick-start your day there with a cup of Kin-Kin coffee or nibble on a midday meal. Orders depend on whatever gem options (such as a bacon cheddar quiche or red beet and shallot soup) are listed on the ever changing daily special board or on a favorite from their traditional food menu. Maybe you’re in need of more than just lunch, though. Then you’ll grab a burger and fries and a shake, all available until close at 9 p.m. And, of course, you’d be remiss to not explore the full bar, with beer and booze galore.

If you are indeed in search of a beverage, look no further than the black and bold-lettered, 11-item drink menu painted on the white brick wall immediately upon walking inside. From brewed coffee to kombucha to espresso, soda and tea, the options needn’t have descriptions. Say you’re in the mood for a milkshake. That requires a conversation with the bartender-server-cashier (there is typically only one staffer per shift), as there aren’t any flavors to choose from in plain view. They might recommend the espresso shake with a whopping four shots in it, or the bourbon shake that tastes as good as any cocktail.

The same “what you see is what you get” philosophy is applied to the burgers and fries at A-OK. It’s actually exactly what it sounds like—a burger (topped with “dijonaise,” onions and pickles, as you’d find out once biting into it) with a side of crispy, addicting fries.

With ties to Johnson Public House (JPH), you could say A-OK is JPH’s wacky younger cousin. There’s no doubt this place is all over, but only in the best way possible.

Wine Time
After a meal at Julep or a cup of coffee at A-OK, you may be tempted to stroll on over to Barolo to wine—ahem, we mean—wind down for the night. Since it’s conveniently located right next-door, that’s definitely an idea worth exploring.

Photos by Molly Wallace

Photos by Molly Wallace

The bar is dimly lit by overhead light fixtures reminiscent of the bulbous Capitol just up the street. With too many tables packed like sardines, presumably in an attempt to create ample guest seating, the space is rendered a little cramped. There is a long wooden bar and several smaller tables lined up along the opposite wall, as well as an awkward side room, separate from the rest and with larger lounge booths. But looking at this from the bright side, it may strike you as “intimate.”

And so is the wine list itself. The short menu is marked at the top with the date, indicating what’s on the shelf, or in your glass, for the night. Wine is available by the glass and by the bottle, with the larger selection being the latter. Cabernet-sauvignons, merlots, rosés, zinfandels and so on are presented for pouring.

Photos by Molly Wallace

Photos by Molly Wallace

In keeping with its small but mighty theme, Barolo has a few food options to accompany their drinks, and even offer a palate cleanser between sips. Try one of the savory flatbreads, and don’t be shy about asking your bartender for recs on what to nosh on that will go best with your wine.

If red and white beverages aren’t your thing, but you want to check out Barolo regardless, you’re in luck. The bar has a brief list of beers on tap and cocktails to choose from for those who are less wine-inclined.

Barolo is a natural end to an evening spent meandering the Courtyard. And what’s even better—you can look forward to relishing its food and drink offerings on the outdoor patio during the summer months as well.