Saturday, May 7, 2011

Wilder's Mother's Day Menu

The official menus for Mother's day Brunch and Dinner have been released. Check out them out at Chef Tod's blog.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Try this for Mother's Day: Wilder's Bakery and Bistro

Mother’s Day is this Sunday and families everywhere will be descending on restaurants en masse. Smart folks will stay home, but if you are bound and determined to take Mom out for a nice meal, Wilder’s on Bakery and Bistro is offering a special Mother’s Day brunch menu and dinner menu.

I called Jillian’s to see if they were doing anything special for Mother’s Day, but as of 1:15 p.m. on Thursday, May 5, they were completely booked. So, don’t show up at Jillian’s on Sunday expecting to be seated.

Wilder’s has been open about 2 ½ months. The restaurant offers a variety of contemporary American dishes with a focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients. For Mother’s Day, Wilder’s is offering some special items that are not typically on the menu: Tequila-lime gravlax, baked French toast, shrimp linguine and tiramisu. In addition, there will be some favorites from the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus available. Brunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner will be served from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

I started working at Wilder’s shortly after they opened. I can attest to the fact that almost everything is made on site. This includes all the breads, pasta, desserts, ice cream, mozzarella cheese, sauces…everything! Chef Tod is always coming up with new dishes. The menu has expanded significantly since opening, and just this past week we debuted the new summer lunch menu. I really am very proud of the quality of food that we prepare in the kitchen.

If you haven’t tried Wilder’s yet, or if you haven’t been in for a while, you should stop by and give it a try. Lunch items run from about $8-10 and dinner entrees are priced $13-20. Wilder’s caters to people who follow a gluten-free diet. Gluten free bread is available for sandwiches, the bakery makes gluten-free desserts, and most menu items can be altered to be gluten free.

Wilder’s Bakery and Bistro is located at 2609 N. Main. You can call 620-259-6559 for reservations. Wilder’s is open 7 days a week. On Sundays, a mixed menu including some lunch and some dinner items is served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The dinner menu is served from 4 p.m. until close. Monday through Saturday breakfast is served from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., lunch is served 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and dinner is served 4 p.m. until close. The full service coffee bar is available from 6:30 a.m. until close along with bagels, breads and pastries from the bakery.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Cold weather means Casseroles

This week the weather has been cooler and I've be craving comfort food. Last night I made a casserole. Actually, I assembled it on my lunch break then baked it when I got home. The concept had been floating around my head for a few days, so I finally put it into action. My version was a little bland, so I increased the amount of salt, pepper and minced onion in the recipe written below.

Chicken Veggie Noodle Casserole
‎8 oz egg noodles
1/2 stick butter
1/4 c. flour
2 c skim milk
1 c. chicken broth
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese (add more for cheesier casserole)
2 c. broccoli pieces
1 8-oz package of mushrooms, sliced
2 c. chopped cooked chicken
1-2 teaspoons of salt, depending on taste
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried minced onion (or 3 tablespoons finely minced fresh onion)

1 c breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook egg noodles. Drain.

While noodles are cooking, melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. When butter is melted and starting to brown, add flour, incorporating completely. Cook until golden brown.

Slowly add milk to butter-flour mixture, whisking to thoroughly incorporate. Add chicken broth. Bring to a simmer. Add cheese, stir in to melt.

Add vegetables, chicken, salt, pepper, and minced onion. Taste, add more seasoning if necessary. Bring to a simmer. Add noodles and stir to incorporate.

Pour into a 9"x13" baking dish. Mix breadcrumbs and olive oil together and spread over the top of the dish. Add more breadcrumbs if you want a thicker "crust". Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes until crust is browned and casserole is warmed through.

If you do not make breadcrumbs, pulse 3-4 slices of stale or toasted bread in a food processor until crumbly. Crushed Cheez-it, Ritz or Saltine crackers would also make a decent topping. This casserole can be assembled up to 24 hours ahead and kept in the refrigerator until ready to bake - just extend cooking time by 10-20 minutes.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Eat This: Brunch at Jillian's Italian Grill

Since moving to Hutchinson, I have lamented the lack of brunch. There are many places that serve breakfast, and several that serve breakfast all day long, but no one serves brunch - that delightful combination of both breakfast and lunch at a place that typically does not offer one or both of these things.

Before I get too far in, let me go ahead and mention my bias. I prefer to order my brunch from a menu rather than cobble it together from a buffet. Buffets tend to be pricer than ordering off a menu and I, like many others, tend to overeat at a buffet so I prefer to order off a menu.

For a buffet, Jillian's does well. The price is $12.95 - a bit steep, but cheaper than Flatrock Grill in Wichita ($14.95). They offer a wide variety and most items are well executed. Some items were a litle bland, but since they've only been at the Sunday Brunch game for 4 weeks, I expect some improvement as they work out the kinks.

To start, there was a variety of salads - quinoa with cranberries, onion and bell pepper, house salad, fruit salad and hummus with chips. On the hot side, there were scrabled eggs, bacon, home fries, biscuits, gravy, baked ziti with meatballs, chicken marasala, and potatos au gratain. They also offered eggs benedict and a carving station with ham. The owners, Jill and Gary, said that they plan to open an omlette station and alternate meats on the carving station - sometimes ham, sometimes prime rib. For dessert they offered individual pumpkin tarts, cake and cookies. If the tarts are on the buffet in the future, they should not be missed!

Of course, no brunch is complete without a speical beverage. Jillian's offers Mimosas ($6) and Bloody Marys. Brunch at Jillian's is served Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. - perfect for the post church and post hangover crowd.

Jillians is located at 216 N. Main in Hutchinson Kansas. They are open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. They are open for Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reservations can be made by calling 620-663-8466. Lunch items range from $5 to $9. Dinner items range from $11 to $22. They have a full bar with beers ranging from $2.50 to $5, wines by the glass for $5 to $8 and cocktails for $6 to $8. Their wine list includes over 50 bottles including several unique reds that pair nicely with their Italian cuisine.

Sorry for my absence

So, its been a while since I posted anything here on Eating Across Kansas. This summer was adventurous, engaging, interesting, and depressing all at once. I got the opportunity to do some great things like visit Chicago, work on a political campaign, and travel to Panama.

I also came to the realization that when I quit my job in April, I had no clue what I was doing, and spending 6 months watching videos on Netflix, traveling randomly and generally doing nothing got me no closer to figuring out what I want to do with my life. It did, however, get me a lot closer to broke. This summer I also realized that depression doesn't magically disappear when you get rid of a stressful part of your life. Other things begin to fill that void, and depression can suck you into it very easily. Although I've struggled this summer, I do feel like I am generally happier than I was before.

I am currently in the job search phase, trying to find something just to help pay the bills. I am quickly realizing that working for minimum wage or a little more is going to be a significant life change. These past few months I have continued to lead my life more or less as I was before I quit my job. I made a few cutbacks here and there, but I kept to generally the same standard of living. I am now facing the harsh reality that my money is running out and whatever job I get in the near term will not allow me the luxuries I am accustomed to having. I cannot eat out in restaurants like I used to. I can't drive off to Wichita whenever I want. I can't just go kill an afternoon at Target and buy shit I don't need because I don't feel like dealing with the shit that has piled up around the house.

A couple of weeks ago I started a new blog: Amy Eating Healthy. During my travels this summer, I was overwhelmed by how heavy I have gotten. It is to the point that I do not fit comfortably in airline or bus seats. I am so out of shape that walking the neighborhoods of Chicago or the uphill inclines in the mountains of Panama made me miserable. My weight is something I have always struggled with, but this was the first time it really interfered with my ability to enjoy life. I have made a committment to eat healthier and lose weight so that I can do the things I want to do and be the person I want to be.

I will continue to post here at Eating Across Kansas, however the posts will probably be fairly infrequent...a few a month, perhaps? I am dedicated to updating Amy Eating Healthy on a near-daily basis.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Culinary confessions

The latest trend in American cuisine is to eat everything - all sorts of vegetables, previously unpopular fishes and cuts of meat, and "offal" - organ meats, pig trotters, ears, snouts - everything. I commend this outlook, and I've drastically expanded the foods that are in regular rotation in my diet since high school. Just since moving to Kansas I've added turnips, brussels sprouts, and raw milk.

However, every foodie/food nerd/chowhound/whatever-you-want-to-call-someone-obsessed-with-food has some dislikes, and a couple of closet "likes" that you know are culinarily taboo. Things you are supposed to like, but just can't stomach, or foods (usually overprocessed memories of childhood) that "real foodies" would scoff at. These are my confessions:

Beets - taste like dirt, can't eat them in anything despite trying many varieties and prearations

Radishes - see above, but can handle them if chopped fine and mixed in something

Organ meats - I haven't tried them much, but I'm not about to prepare them at home and there's nowhere here to try them, so I'm not eating them. I've had tongue tacos before and they were okay. There are other things that I'd rather eat, so I'll eat them instead.

McDonald's chicken nuggets - this is not actually a food, but sometimes, I get that craving.
A hotdog with just ketchup - plain, boring, but oh-so-satisfying.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sources of Inspiration

Passions don't magically appear. They are learned over time. My love of food and cooking started early. I've actively nurtured these loves for many years, at some times more actively than others.

My earliest memory of cooking is from age 3 or 4. On weekends my dad would cook breakfast for Mom and me. I remember him letting me beat eggs with a fork to make scrambled eggs. He would pull a kitchen chair up next to the stove so I could "help" him flip pancakes.

My earliest memory of the holidays is making peanut butter fudge and decorating sugar cookies with my mother, sometime around age 4 or 5. Around the same time I remember a Thanksgiving dinner with my aunt and uncle in Georgia. I don't remember anything except a big turkey leg and my uncle showing my how to blow up surgical gloves like balloons.

At age 10, I would watch Martha Stewart on Saturday mornings. She came on at 10:00 and my horseback riding lessons were at 11. I would watch Martha while Mom & Dad were ready to take me to the stable - I'm not sure why, but I found her show more interesting than whatever cartoons were on at the same time.

Through middle and high school I would read my mom's issues of Southern Living and Better Homes and Gardens, looking for recipe ideas. In high school, I was responsible for dinner 2-3 nights a week. I learned basic cooking skills, came up with some good dishes and some horrible disasters. For the longest time, I thought boneless, skinless chicken breasts needed to be cooked for an hour...Mom, Dad - I apologize.

My first year of college, I lived in a dorm with no kitchen, so I was limited to my meal plan and a few meals out each month from an allowance from my parents. The fall of my Freshman year, a gelateria/cafe opened very close to the college cafe. The owners of Modica instilled in me an appreciation of coffee, fresh, non-processed ingredients, making things "from scratch" and all things Italian. Over time, I transitioned from a hazelnut latte, to a latte with sugar, to a latte no sugar, to a macchiato or cafe con leche (Spanish for half espresso, half milk), no sugar. They were also my employers my last year in Charleston. At the gelateria, I learned how to hang with the boys, take a ball-busting and dish one out. Although the coffee was superb, I went there in the mornings as much for the conversation with the owners, staff and other patrons as I did for the caffeine. Alas, after 5 years, Modica closed last summer.

Sophomore-Senior years of college I lived in a house with a full kitchen and a TV that got the Food Network. My favorite shows were Everyday Italian Cooking with Giada de Laurentis and Good Eats with Alton Brown. By watching about 2 hours of the Food Network each day, I absorbed technique and flavor knowledge. There are still things I do in the kitchen that are results of seeing someone on the Food Network do the same thing - place chicken seasoning under the skin when roasting, the way I cut my onions, the way I mince my garlic.

Charleston was and is an incredible city for food. I spent probably 2/3 of my allowance and earnings from odd jobs on food and beverages. I started drinking wine before I was of legal age at art gallery openings and nicer restaurants where they would never expect an underage college kid to be ordering the Cabernet-Sauvinon. Even restaurants that didn't fall into the "fine dining" category were excellent - focused on fresh ingredients and innovative recipes. Fast and French, Five Loaves Cafe, the vendors at the Saturday farmer's market (crepe people, omelet guy, EVO pizza, if you live in Charleston, you know who they are) D'Allesandro's Pizza, Modica Cafe, Santi's Mexican, the taco trucks of North Charleston - these places taught me to appreciate simple food done fresh, done well. There were many Saturday and Sunday brunches at Hominy Grill - the place where a biscuit could be elevated to James Beard award-winning fare.

I'm still learning as a cook. I'm still looking for inspiration. I use the Internet everyday to read something about food. My favorite site is, a website devoted to all things food. Staff and site members post recipies and tips for different dishes or ingredients. If I need a recipe for somthing, I often check Chow before I look anywhere else. The forum boards are a great source of knowledge and entertainment, with discussions on restaurant ettiquete, what to do with an overabundance of a certain ingredient, how to deal with rude guests, what wine goes with vegetable korma, and where to go for lunch when visiting City X.

My newest sources of inspiration are Hungry Nation webTV and Anthony Bourdain. I've recently watched all 7 seasons of No Reservations available on Netflix. No Reservations is more about finding good food and appreciating the food of other cultures than it is about cooking. Watching the show inspired me to read Kitchen Confidential, the book that made Tony famous. In the book, Tony offers some cooking tips, but its really more about provding insight into the restaurant world than it is about teaching people how to cook.

Hungry Nation TV is a webTV station that has 10-15 minute shows about food. My two favorite "shows" are VendrTV, a show that focuses on finding the best street food around the country, and Working Class Foodies, a show about a brother and sister who try to eat locally, sustainably and well on a limited budget.

I've also taken an interest in improving my knowledge of cooking fundamentals and baking basics. For my birthday, my aunt got me a copy of Ratio: The simple codes behind the craft of everyday cooking by Michael Ruhlman. This is a great book that breaks down fundamental recipies into a ratio. After giving basic instructions based on the ratio, the author also gives tips on how to tweak the recipie. I've been focusing on the pastry ratios, but the book also provides ratios for stocks, sausages, sauces and brines. Last week I picked up Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Everyday. It starts off with describing basic bread baking techniques - stirring the dough, kneading, shaping loaves, making sourdough starters. Then it provides recipes for hearth breads (frech and sourdough flour-water-yeast breads), enriched breads (breads with egg and/or other fats), and rich breads (mostly sweet breads).

I like to stay current on what's going on in the food scene in Charleston. The Charleston City Paper is a free weekly alternative paper that's published every Wednesday. They employ some excellent food writers, and dedicate almost as much time and effort to the local food scene as they do to the music/entertainment and political realms. They cover everything from restaurant openings/closings to festivals, what's going on at the farmer's market and who has a new chef. This is the third year in a row that a Charleston chef has won the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southeast (eat your heart out, Atlanta).

So that's the roundup. I still read Southern Living and Better Homes and Gardens, more because I miss my mom than for the recipies.