Cookbook recipes come from John Williams, executive chef at Sundara.
Chilly outdoor temps motivate me to turn on the oven or experiment in the kitchen through other means. A spa's new recipe book, an event's contest results and a hotel's bold challenge provide just what I need to proceed.
? Sundara Inn and Spa, Wisconsin Dells, celebrates its 10th anniversary with publication of the cookbook "Energize Your Soul: Wellness Cuisine for All Seasons" (Trails Books, $28). Executive chef John Williams provides at least 300 recipes (arranged by season) and cooking tips.
Examples of the latter: how to properly brown butter, roast beets, toast coconut. Don't use margarine, the chef advises. "It literally is one molecule away from being plastic. It's extremely high in trans fat and increases cholesterol."
His autumn recipes include these.
Wisconsin beer cheese soup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup carrots, small dice
1 cup celery, small dice
1 cup yellow onion, small dice
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
4 tablespoons white unbleached flour
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups organic chicken stock
1 bottle Miller Lite or other light beer
2 cups organic whole milk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 pound shredded Wisconsin sharp cheddar cheese
Cheddar popcorn, for garnish (optional)
In a large pan, melt butter and add carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Cook until transparent, about 5 minutes. Add flour and cook 5 minutes, until flour is absorbed by vegetables. Add Tabasco, salt, pepper, chicken stock and beer; cook 15 minutes, until slightly thickened. Add milk, mustards and Worcestershire sauce. Stir again. Add cheese and cook until completely melted. Optional: Garnish with cheddar popcorn. Serves 8.
Lodging rates begin at $189 and include spa lounge/bathhouse access at the adults-only Sundara, 920 Canyon Rd., Wisconsin Dells. sundaraspa.com, 888-735-8181
? The world's largest cranberry festival, in Monroe County, includes a recipe contest with two ingredient categories: fresh cranberries and processed cranberries.
Marianne Stozewski of Warrens, population 360 and the festival site, won the first category with this spin on the traditional shepherd's pie. Serves 10-12.
Hungry minds cran'potle pie
4-5 medium sweet potatoes, divided
1 tablespoon brown sugar, firmly packed
Salt, white pepper and butter to taste
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup cold water
1 medium onion
2 stalks celery
2-3 medium carrots
2 tablespoons salad oil
1 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon Tone's Southwest Chipotle Seasoning*
3 tablespoons chicken or turkey stock (more, if needed)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup water
16 ounces fresh collard greens
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use fork tines to pierce the skin of each sweet potato several times and place on a foil-lined baking sheet on middle rack of oven. Bake until tender (about 45-55 minutes). Cool slightly and peel.
Slice 2 potatoes into 1⁄3-inch slices. Set aside. Mash or process remaining potatoes until smooth with brown sugar, salt, pepper and butter. Set aside.
Combine cranberries, granulated sugar and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan. Cook at a low, rolling boil for 8 minutes, not stirring. Check for thickness or gel. Stir and set aside.
Coarsely chop onion, celery and carrots in food processor or by hand. Add oil to skillet and sauté these vegetables. Add ground turkey and chipotle seasoning to the sauté. Add enough stock to keep mixture moist. Thicken mixture with a paste prepared with flour and 1 cup cold water. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add collard greens and blanch for 4-to-6 minutes, until bright green and slightly tender. Drain.
Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a lasagna pan or Dutch oven. Cover bottom of pan with sliced sweet potatoes. Spread turkey mixture over the potatoes, and top with the collard greens. Add layer of cranberry sauce. Top with mashed sweet potatoes.
Bake for 45 minutes, covered. Uncover and bake another 10-to-15 minutes, until golden brown.
* Your own blend of salt, cayenne, chipotle, garlic/onion spices and paprika can be substituted.
? David Harper of Richland Center won the processed cranberry category. His sandwich recipe uses the berries in the sauce, meat rub and coleslaw (which is part of the sandwich filling).
Cranberry barbecue pulled pork sandwich with cranberry coleslaw
1 pound package coleslaw mix
½ cup mayonnaise
1 cup chopped dried cranberries
¼ cup white vinegar
½ cup creamy salad dressing (such as Miracle Whip)
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Place coleslaw mix in large bowl. Place remaining ingredients in second bowl and whisk until combined. Pour over coleslaw mix and toss until coated. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Cranberry barbecue sauce
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 cup root beer
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 cup chopped dried cranberries
½ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
2 cups ketchup
2 cups chicken stock
½ cup tomato paste
½ cup jellied cranberries
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan, whisking to make smooth. Bring to a gentle boil; reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes. Thin out to your liking with a bit more chicken stock. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Cranberry dry rub
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons fresh cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 ½cups finely chopped dried cranberries
½ cup paprika
¼ cup onion powder
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons dry mustard
¼ cup garlic powder
2 pork shoulder butt roasts, each 4-5 pounds
12 burger buns
Make dry rub by combining all ingredients except pork roasts and buns. Break up lumps with a fork. Rub the pork roasts all over with the dry rub. Wrap meat tightly in plastic and refrigerate 3-to-24 hours.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Unwrap meat and place in large roasting pan. Cover pan tightly with foil and bake 4-to-6 hours, or until a fork inserted into the roast meets no resistance.
Remove pan from oven and let sit 10 minutes, covered. Place roasts in large bowl, then shred with two forks. Add enough Cranberry BBQ Sauce to shredded pork, to reach desired consistency and taste.
The next Warrens Cranberry Festival is Sept. 26 to 28, 2014. Other winning recipes are online. cranfest.com, 608-378-4200
? In Madison, the manager of HotelRED challenges competitors to come up with a mini bar better than what is customary at his all-suite property. The boutique hotel with blazing Badger red décor is within view of the University of Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium.
Mini bars are stocked with 50-some snacks and beverages, most made in Wisconsin. That includes Madison's Yahara Bay rum and New Glarus Brewing Company's beer.
An accompanying mixology manual includes this recipe, a contemporary spin on a Prohibition-era cocktail. Add fresh fruit garnishes from a stash at the hotel's front desk.
1.5 ounces Death's Door Gin
2 ounces orange juice
½ ounce fresh lime juice
A few drops of quince and apple tart cherry grenadine
Vigorously shake all ingredients in an ice-filled shaker for a slow count of 10. Strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass. Add an orange garnish, if desired. Serves one.
Rates begin at $125 at the all-suite HotelRED, 1501 Monroe St., Madison. hotelred.com, 608-819-8228.