Time for Poutine

          About a month ago, I sent my friend Patricia Winn Wood, Press and Public Relations Manager for the Tourist Office of Spain in Chicago, a copy of  one of my favorite books, one I like to take with me when I’m traveling through Wisconsin. Called the Wisconsin Cheese Cookbook: Creamy, Cheesy, Sweet, and Savory Recipes from the State’s Best Creameries, it was written by Kristine Hansen, a Milwaukee-based  journalist who covers food/drink, art/design and travel and whose work has appeared ArchitecturalDigest.com, Fodors.com, Vogue.com, Midwest Living Magazine and Milwaukee Magazine.

The book works on a variety of levels. With over a million cows, the state turns out more than 2.8 billion pounds of cheese per year. Hansen focused on the growing number of artisanal cheese producers in the state and though her cookbook has 60 recipes (as well as beautiful, lush photos), it’s as much of a travel guide — call it a cheesy road trip if you can excuse our pun — to 28 of the state’s creameries.

Notable creameries include Cedar Grove Cheese and Emmi Roth in Southwest Wisconsin; BelGioioso Cheese and Sartori in Northeast Wisconsin; Door County Creamery in Sister Bay in scenic Door County; Holland’s Family Cheese in Northwest Wisconsin; and Clock Shadow Creamery in Southeast Wisconsin.

Pat’s Poutine.

Hansen also includes background information, a kind of cheese data base about cheese events, cheese pairings, different cheese characteristics, how cheeses from the milk of goats, cows, and sheep compare, and cheese award winners.

BelGioioso Cheese.

As for poutine, it took a trip to Montreal and Quebec for me to become familiar with the dish. It’s said that more Canadians have eaten poutine than have seen a moose (and moose crossing signs dot the highways) or have been in a canoe – two things I associate with Canada way before fries with cheese and gravy. It’s a hearty dish—don’t even ask about the calorie count—but delicious. There are a ton of varieties, but the recipe Pat used is simple to make.

Door County Creamery.

 “The curds were direct from Wisconsin, and the dark malt beer that my husband bought at my request was from a store near here,” says Pat.

One suggestion she offered is that she thought the dark malt beer was a little too bitter for her taste and suggested using a sweeter, milder beer. Though if you like your beer hoppy, then stick with the dark malt.

Holland’s Family Cheese.

We also discussed whether to use homemade French Fries or the frozen kind and Pat and I quickly concluded that frozen work for us. The recipe says you can also use frozen tots (I’m thinking Tater Tots) but neither of us have tried that.

For those who don’t want to use beer at all, I included another recipe from the book that uses beef stock instead.

Standard Wisconsin Poutine

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon flour

6 ounces dark malt beer

½ cup beef stock

3 cups crispy potato tots or French Fries

1 cup Cedar Grove cheddar cheese curds

Cook onion and brown sugar in butter until onion  is translucent and begins to caramelize. Slowly stir in flour and dark malt beer. Simmer for vie minutes. Add beef stock and simmer for five minutes. Add beef stock and reduce for seven minutes.

Cook crispy potato tots or French Fries according to package directions.

Add curds to potatoes until hot. Pour gravy over curds and tots and serve immediately.

Poutine with Red Barn Family Farms Cheese Curds

4–5 medium potatoes

Olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 cup beef stock

Red Barn Family Farms cheese curds

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Cut potatoes into fry shape you desire and mix in a bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake for 40 minutes, flipping halfway through.

To make gravy, heat olive oil in saucepan on medium heat, whisking with flour until it becomes a paste. Cook for 30 seconds. Add beef stock and bring to a simmer. Let sit to thicken and add pepper if desired.

To serve, layer fries and Red Barn cheese curds in a bowl and ladle on gravy.

Recipe by Sophia Herczeg

Serves 4–6

Both recipes courtesy of the Wisconsin Cheese Book by Kristine Hansen.


Wisconsin Cherry Pie. Photo by Jon Jarosh.

Summer in Door County means cool breezes, mild temperatures, quaint harbor towns, farm-to-table
restaurants, cheeseries, wineries, mead makers and distillers and sun-soaked waterfront vistas as well as
300 miles of shoreline paralleling Lake Michigan and Green Bay.

This delightful coastal Wisconsin getaway is now open for travel and committed to providing visitors with a safe vacation experience. To achieve this, Door County communities and lodgers have developed health and safety procedures and are committed to following operating guidelines from state and local authorities. Many have signed on to the Commitment to Cleanliness and Safety Initiative, a joint endeavor from Door County Medical Center and Door County Public Health to ensure the safety of both visitors and residents.

Hillside Waterfront Hotel. Photo by Trail Genius.

Visitors to Door County can choose family owned, vintage hotels and inns, historic B&Bs, luxury
waterfront suites and cottages for their stay. Starting in June through July many accommodations in
Door County are offering Re-Open and Re-Discover promotion packages for those who want to explore
the peninsula’s 11 lighthouses, five state parks, cherry orchards, maritime history, wildlife preserves and
myriad of outdoor recreation activities knowing that safety precautions are of utmost importance to
the community.
Take advantage of packages that include accommodations for one to three nights; a meal for two
(offerings may include a gift certificate to a local restaurant, complimentary on-property breakfast, a
picnic basket filled with Door County specialties); an activity or attraction offering (state park pass,
maps, tours, tastings); and a $25 Door County gift certificate available to use at a variety of shops,
restaurants and attractions.

Kayaking by Cana Lighthouse. Photo by Jon Jarosh.

Explore the Lake Michigan side, a little more quiet, in Baileys Harbor with Maxwelton Braes Lodge’s
Stay, Play & Dine Package featuring a two night stay, two rounds of golf, $50 gift certificate to Thyme
Cuisine, two complimentary old fashioned cocktails, and breakfast or express lunch for two at Thyme
Cuisine. Ephraim’s ideal spot for a romantic getaway is Eagle Harbor Inn, offering “Suite Escape: Contact
Free Stay.” Enjoy a one-bedroom Whirlpool Suite welcomed with chilled prosecco and chocolate truffles
and grab a picnic lunch from Door County Creamery using a Door County gift certificate.
To view complete package details and a list of participating accommodations, visit
doorcounty.com/content/vacation-packages and link directly to accommodations for booking

Sunset Over Eagle Harbor. Photo by Jon Jarosh.

The Wisconsin Cheese Cookbook: Creamy, Cheesy, Sweet, and Savory Recipes from the State’s Best Creameries

“Some people say that the French have the best cheese but I think Wisconsin cheese is the best and I can say that because I wrote the book on cheese” says Kristine Hansen, who actually did write The Wisconsin Cheese Cookbook: Creamy, Cheesy, Sweet, and Savory Recipes from the State’s Best Creameries (Globe Pequot Press 2019; $24.95). “Wisconsin is not just about cheddar; we have a large variety of cheeses which consistently win awards.”

With over a million cows, the state turns out more than 2.8 billion pounds of cheese per year. Hansen focused on the growing artisanal cheese producers in the state and though her cookbook has 60 recipes (as well as beautiful, lush photos), it’s as much of a travel guide—call it a cheesy road trip if you can excuse our pun–to 28 of the state’s creameries.

“A lot of my friends, when they come to visit, want to know the best cheese places I’ve discovered and ask for directions,” says Hansen, a Milwaukee-based journalist covering food/drink, art/design and travel whose articles have appeared in many magazines and websites including Midwest Living, Vogue and on Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler.

Writing the book meant lots of time on the road, visiting corners of the state where she’d never been and learning the intricacies of cheese making.

So, what makes Wisconsin cheese so great? After all, there are cows throughout the Midwest, but Indiana, Illinois and Michigan don’t have nearly the same amount of small batch hand crafted cheesemakers as the Badger State.

               “A lot of Swiss immigrants settled here, particularly in Green county,” says Hansen about the home of Green County Cheese Days, the oldest and largest food fest in the Midwest. The festival honors the area’s Swiss heritage (their Swiss credentials are such that there’s also Wilhelm Tell and Heidi festivals) cheesemaking tradition. The later includes a dozen creameries producing over 50 varieties of award-winning cheeses as well as the only domestic maker of Limburger and the only U.S. factory making 180-pound wheels of Old World Emmenthale.  

               Other creameries mentioned in Hansen’s book include the Door County Creamery in Sister Bay in scenic Door County, where visitors where visitors can not only sample cheese and take a farm tour but also participate in a 40-minute goat yoga session.

 “ClockShadow is one of only two urban creameries in the country,” says Hansen about this Milwaukee cheeserie which offers tours. “One of the reasons they opened is they wanted people in Milwaukee to be able to get fresh cheese curds without having to drive very far.”

As an added plus, adults can also combine the experience by taking a tour of the Milwaukee Brewing Company which is just across the street.

“People think the best Gouda comes out of Holland, but Marieke Gouda is wonderful,” says Hansen.

Located in Thorp, Marieke Gouda has a product store, newly opened Café DUTCHess and features tours. Across the street, Penterman Farm where the milk for Marieke Gouda is provided by Brown Swiss and Holstein cows, there’s a viewing room and tours as well.

Bleu Mont in Blue Mounds is one of several cheeseries in the state with a cheese cave.  

Asked what’s the most unique Wisconsin cheese she’s sampled—and she’s tried a lot, Hansen mentions Carr Valley’s Cocoa Cardona, a mild, sweet, caramel flavored cheese balanced by a slight nuttiness that’s dusted with chocolate.

“There are about 500 varieties of cheese of so in Wisconsin, so there’s a lot to choose from” says Hansen. “And the cheeses here are not just for those who live in Wisconsin. Uplands Pleasant Ridge cheese costs $26 a pound and sells in New York City. That says a lot about the state’s cheeses.”

Emmi Roth’s Sweet & Spicy Siracha Pizza

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup sweet onion slices, sliced thin

Pinch of salt and pepper

1 12-ounce ball prepared pizza dough

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/4 cup pizza sauce

1/4 cup BBQ sauce

1 cup chopped broccoli

1 cup chopped chicken

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Roth® Sriracha Gouda Cheese

Green onion slices for garnish, optional

Sriracha hot sauce for garnish, optional

Crushed red pepper flakes for garnish, optional

Place pizza stone in the oven and preheat oven to 425°F.

Place butter and onion in a medium frying pan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden and lightly caramelized, about 20 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll pizza dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter or rounded rectangle about 13 inches in length. Transfer dough to hot pizza stone; brush with olive oil and sprinkle garlic over. Spread pizza and BBQ sauces over, and top pizza evenly with broccoli, chicken, reserved onion slices, and Sriracha Gouda Cheese.

Bake 18 to 20 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbling. Remove from oven, let sit 5 minutes before cutting. Garnish with green onions, Sriracha hot sauce or crushed red pepper for more heat, if desired.

Note: If you do not have a pizza stone, you can preheat the oven, then assemble the pizza on an upside-down baking sheet. It will need about 20 to 22 minutes of baking time. Using a baking sheet will result in a less crispy crust.

Hansen shared some recipes from her book. You can mail order these cheeses from the individual cheeseries if you can’t find them in the supermarket. You can also substitute similar cheeses if unable to locate them.

Burnett Dairy Cooperative’s Corn-Meal Crusted Fish Tacos

1 pound white-fleshed fish (such as cod, haddock, tilapia or halibut), cut into 2- x 1-inch pieces

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup cornmeal

1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 tsp finely grated lime zest

1 tbsp lime juice

1/4 tsp ground cumin

8 corn tortillas (7 inch), warmed

2 cups shredded Bibb lettuce

1/2 cup prepared tomatillo salsa

1 cup shredded Alpha’s Morning Sun with Mango Habanero

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

Season fish with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper; dredge in cornmeal. In large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat; cook fish, in batches if needed, for 2 to 4 minutes per side or until lightly golden and fish is cooked through. Transfer to plate lined with paper towel.

Stir together sour cream, lime zest, lime juice, cumin and remaining salt and pepper. Assemble fish in tortillas with lettuce, salsa, cheese and red onion; drizzle with sour cream mixture.

Tip: For fully loaded tacos, add avocado, cucumber and fresh cilantro when assembling them.

Tip: Use corn or flour tortillas.

Tip: Substitute shredded red cabbage for lettuce if desired.

Yellow Door Creamery’s Tuscan Mac and Cheese

1 store-bought prepared macaroni & cheese of your choice

1/2 cup shredded Tuscan-rubbed Fontina

4 –6 roasted garlic cloves

Handful of baby spinach

Prepare the macaroni and cheese according to package directions.

For the roasted garlic: Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut top 1/4 inch off heads of garlic. Place garlic cut side up in small baking dish. Drizzle a few teaspoons of olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake 30–35 minutes, or until cloves feel soft.

When the macaroni and cheese is done and bubbly, top with roasted garlic, baby spinach, shredded cheese and baked until cheese melts.

Emmi Roth’s Pan-Fried Brussels Sprouts with Horseradish Havarti

3 tablespoons butter

6 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

1/2 cup sliced shallots

3 tablespoons heavy cream

Generous pinch of salt and pepper

1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Roth® Horseradish Havarti Cheese  

Parsley, for garnish (optional)

Place top oven rack underneath broiler and preheat oven to low broil. If you do not have this setting, move the rack further away (down) from broil heat source.

Place a medium or large oven-safe skillet over medium-high and heat on the stove top. Add butter, Brussels sprouts and shallots; stir vegetables until coated. Cook 10 to 12 minutes, flipping vegetables every few minutes until sides are browned.

Remove the skillet from heat; let sit 2 minutes. Add heavy cream, tossing vegetables to coat, and season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Sprinkle Roth Horseradish Havarti Cheese over the top; place skillet under hot broiler. Broil about 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted and begins to bubble. Garnish with parsley, if desired, and additional salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately.