Crust Dubuque


By: support | December 09, 2017

With the festive season fast approaching, many people are likely to engage in lots of celebratory feasting and drinking. When it comes to the drinks, few things matter as much as the quality of ice used. After all, keeping the drinks cold for as long as possible with clean clear ice cubes is of absolute importance.

With houses in America having open-concept floorplans, a hidden designated space for a large commercial ice maker is turning into a rare and expensive option. Luckily, ice making at home can still yield great results even without using big commercial grade machines. Check out Ice Makers Hub for many options.

Anyone who has ever watched a liquor or whiskey commercial will notice the perfect ice cubes used in those commercials. In fact, it is not uncommon for people to assume that the advertising company has heavily edited or photo-shopped the cubes. This is until one goes to a premium cocktail bar and notices that the ice cubes are just as clear. In fact, they look like they are right out of a commercial.

Most cocktail bars use relatively expensive commercial grade machines to make huge ice blocks which then break up into more sizable chunks. While homeowners looking to make perfect ice can opt to buy these ice-making machines, it is a costly option and one that requires lots of space. However, as an alternative counter top or under-the-counter ice machines are affordable options for the American homeowner.


(Source: Today I Found Out)

Most people who attempt ice making at home soon realize that the resulting ice appears cloudy and sometimes even turns into a pale white shade. For many, this cloudy appearance is aesthetically unappealing while others may falsely point it out as proof that the ice has gone "bad." The truth is that it is not dangerous and most importantly, there is a science behind the cloudiness.

One of the most commonly cited reasons for the cloudiness is the impurities in the water. According to some experts, when water that has impurities such as dissolved minerals and gases is frozen, the impurities are pushed to the center of the cube. All this is based on the fact that water normally freezes from the outside going in.

Nonetheless, many critics are quick to point out that those impurities are bottom of the list when it comes to causes of cloudy ice. According to these critics, there are three other major explanations behind the cloudy appearance;

1. Ice Crystal Formation

Ice cubes are water molecules that have undergone crystallization. In most cases, ice making at home involves fast freezing to cater to immediate demands. When fast freezing takes place, different crystals form in multiple locations at the same time. This results in a misalignment of ice crystals. For example, some crystals may form inside other crystals.

Subsequently, this misalignment leads to cracks and imperfections at the points where the different crystals meet. The cracks and imperfections leave the ice cubes with a cloudy appearance.

2. The Effects of Super-Cooling

As noted earlier, ice making at home often involves people cooling ice fast to meet immediate demands. In fact, many freezers pride themselves on the ability to super-cool. Super-cooling is best defined as the exposure of liquid water to temperatures below zero degrees Celsius. Water exposed to super-cooling forms smaller crystal structures that are also less clear than those of water frozen slowly. In fact, scientists are in consensus that large and clear ice crystals only form when ice freezes at the normal freezing point of water, i.e., zero degrees Celsius. 

3. The Expansion of Water

Research has long established that liquid water is denser than ice. This means that ice occupies more space for the same mass of water. Simply put, as water is undergoing the freezing process, it also expands. Fast freezing or super-cooling results in a rushed expansion of the water which in turn leaves stress lines and cracks in the cube.


It is important to note that these three factors have one thing in common; they all depend on a great deal on the speed at which water is frozen. Super-cooling or fast freezing undoubtedly results in cloudy ice. 

Why Bother With Perfect Ice Anyway?

Clear Ice at Home  

There are those who argue that ice making at home is a process of convenience and that there are no notable differences between the clear and cloudy ice. The truth is that these sentiments do not hold any water. There are some notable differences between clear and cloudy ice;


Foremost, the beauty of clear ice is that people can see right through. This clearness is associated with purity and exquisiteness. The lack of cracks and impurities also makes clear ice more aesthetically pleasing than cloudy ice.


Secondly, and more significantly, the lack of impurities and gas bubbles in clear ice cubes means that they take longer to melt. This is significant for one main reason; people can keep their drinks colder for longer.


Thirdly, clear ice has fewer or no cracks and air bubbles. Subsequently, perfect ice does not break into smaller pieces easily. This is unlike cloudy ice which quickly disintegrates into smaller chunks of ice. These smaller chunks of ice dissolve and dilute the drink faster. Clear ice, therefore, helps to maintain the flavor of the drink for longer. 

Ice Making At Home: A Comparison Of Techniques

Perfect ice is not only accessible at classy cocktail bars. On the contrary, it is possible for homeowners to make clear (or in some cases, near clear) ice right in the comfort of their homes. Over the years, people have proposed some techniques meant to help homeowners make perfect ice at home. Some of the most common of these techniques include; 

1. Using Boiling/Boiled Water


According to proponents of this technique, boiling water helps to rid the water of impurities such as dissolved gases. They believe that the removal of dissolved gases leads to clear ice cubes. Other proponents of this technique recommend using a boiling filter or bottled water to get the best results. Some even suggest boiling water twice. Boiling water and letting it cool before freezing it is also known as degassing.

Unfortunately, available evidence suggests that homeowners may not get good results in their pursuit of perfect ice using this technique. For example, some experts have established that boiling tap water once does not have any effect on the clearness of the ice. On the other hand, boiling tap water twice yields slightly clearer ice with the cloud noticeably at the center.

Experts have made the same observations with distilled water. When boiled once, the cubes were still as cloudy as regular cubes. When boiled twice, however, distilled water yielded far much clearer ice than double-boiled tap water. However, many people who have attempted this technique still observe a small cloud towards the bottom side of the cube.


This technique is based on the argument that impurities significantly contribute to cloudiness in ice cubes. While it is true that impurities in water contribute to the formation of cloudy ice cubes, experts agree that it is not a significant factor.

To provide proof of this, experts point to the crystal clear nature of icicles found hanging from trees or drainpipes during winter.

Not only is the water that forms these icicles not boiled, but it is also exposed to numerous impurities in the environment.

Despite all this, these icicles still end up with a crystal clear appearance. Homeowners can therefore not depend wholly on this technique to make perfect and crystal clear ice. However, for relatively clearer ice cubes, boiling distilled water twice offers the best results.

2. Slow Cooling using a Cooler

Science dictates that when water is cooled too quickly, it is unable to push away impurities from the freezing interface hence affecting the cloudiness of the ice. This technique is also based on the same argument. It ensures that water freezes at a slower pace allowing air bubbles to escape.


The technique is also based on the premise of water cooling from the outside to the inside. The technique, therefore, tries to ensure that impurities are pushed towards one direction rather than in multiple directions. This is known as directional cooling.


The process starts with one purchasing an insulated cooler that can fit in the freezer. Many experts also recommend buying a cooler that has hard-sides. The next step is to remove the lid from the cooler and next, to fill it with water at least three-quarter full.


To eliminate the possibility of impurities increasing the cloudiness of the ice, many experts recommend using boiled distilled or filtered water. The third step is to place the cooler into the freezer without the lid on and leaving it there for between 12 and 14 hours.


Although one could wait until all the water freezes, some experts suggest getting the ice out before the cloud starts forming at the bottom of the cooler. If one chooses to let the cloud form, it is still possible to scrape it off with a serrated knife.


After removing the cooler from the freezer, homeowners should let it rest for between 5 and 30 minutes. This allows the ice to melt a bit and subsequently allow the person to slide the ice out of the cooler. Lastly, one should place the ice block onto a cookie sheet (or any other sufficient surface) and break it up into smaller chunks or cubes.


Some advocates of this technique recommend using an ice tray or mold to make lesser quantities of ice. One should then fill the tray/mold with water. It is also important to ensure that the area around the tray is filled with water. This ensures that cold air does not freeze the tray from the sides or the bottom.


For the best results, experts recommend setting the temperature of the freezer between -3 degrees Celsius and -8 degrees Celsius. This method also yields clear and perfect ice cubes with the cloudiness pushed to the bottom where one can scrape it off.




Putting water into the cooler ensures that the freezing process only takes place from top to bottom. Additionally, the cloud of impurities often forms during the end stages of the freezing process. This means that not letting the ice-block freeze completely may result in significantly less cloudiness.


Most importantly, however, the combination of slow and directional cooling ensures that the cloud of impurities is collected at one end of the cube. One can then cut off these cloudy parts away and remain with a crystal clear ice block.


Another huge advantage of this technique is that it allows homeowners to make a huge amount of ice in one go. Based on results that experts have experienced with this method, it is, by far, the most reliable technique of ice making at home. 

3. Using Salt as an Insulator

Most people are unaware of this technique. However, just like the cooler method, it is founded mainly on the concept of directional cooling. This technique is also based on the premise that adding salt into water lowers its freezing point to below zero degrees Celsius. Advocates of this method suggest two main methods.


In both methods, two containers are needed; a larger one for the salt water and a smaller one that acts as the ice tray. Alternatively, one could use a container large enough for the ice tray to completely float in. In the first method, one fills the smaller container with water, floats it in the container containing salt water and places it in the freezer.


In this method, the salt water acts as an insulator and ensures that the ice freezes from the top going down. Experts recommend using big amounts of salt to achieve better results. Just like the cooler method, this technique pushes the cloud of impurities to the bottom where one can then scrape it out easily.


In the second method, individuals are meant to place the salt water container into a freezer for at least 3 hours to lower its temperature. The second step then involves one boiling water and letting it cool before pouring it into an ice tray/smaller container.


Thirdly, one should float the ice tray or container over the ice solution in the freezer. Adherents of this technique claim that the cold salt water allows for the ice tray to cool from bottom to the top. According to these experts, this form of directional cooling eliminates air pockets. Subsequently, they assert that this technique yields perfect ice cubes that are crack free and strong.




This technique and particularly the first method of the technique is quite similar to the cooler technique. It is therefore very likely to yield good results for those interested in the ice making at home. Although the second method seems to make sense theoretically, not many experts can confirm its reliability. The second method of using salt water as an insulator is therefore subject to more experiments and trials.


As established, ice making at home is often a tricky task. However, with the right technique and attention to detail, it is possible for homeowners to make perfect ice cubes in their homes comfortably. Perhaps it is also advisable to note that many experts consider sphere shaped ice better than ice cubes. This is because sphere shaped ice takes longer to melt thanks to its smaller surface area to volume ratio.

By: support | August 02, 2017

Italian Restaurant Crust

The Italian restaurant Crust was something of an infamous spot on the downtown Dubuque map. The food and staff could often divide opinion, but there were certainly plenty of us that were regular patrons on the weekend. The restaurant, which was run by Sarah Thiltgen and her large team, was the place to go on Main Street for a great Italian dishes. Sadly, the restaurant closed in February 2016. It may have been eight months now since we lost Crust, but many of we still feel the loss. That is why I choose to celebrate the good times and lament the closure here today.

Crust’s Owner Was Adamant That The Closure Had Nothing To Do With Poor Business.

Locals may joke about the quality of the food and service at Crust, but we cannot pretend that it wasn’t a favorite haunt with regular business. It knew its audience well and was able to cater to them throughout their five-year run. Thiltgen also managed to maintain a great relationship with her staff. She once stated that the staffs were like family to her, which is crucial when creating such a family friendly atmosphere in an Italian establishment. She also kindly helped them find new jobs on announcing her decision to leave.


Thiltgen simply decided to leave Dubuque for Chicago, stating that it was time for her to “move on.” It was reported at the time that she had accepted a position in the food and beverage industry in Chicago, so it is not clear exactly what she was going to be doing in the city. Critics that slated Crust’s attempts at pizza may joke that she is going to the home of the Chicago deep-dish to see how it should be made. This is unfair to women that spent five strong years maintaining a traditional Italian restaurant in the heart of Dubuque. This was particularly the case when myself and others celebrated the range of flavors and options that this establishment provided. They weren’t perfect, but they were tasty, affordable and family friendly.


This is about all we know about the decision to pack up and close Crust’s doors for the final time. It all sounds a little vague to those of us that hoped there was a juicer story to it all. The truth is that as much as we hate to believe it, things never stay the same for very long. Restaurants leave and new ones rise out of the ashes.

When The Restaurant Closed It Hit The Area Hard, And The Absence Is Still Noticeable.

At the time, the executive director of Dubuque Main Street (apparently that is a real role) spoke about the “void” that the departure would create in the area. The prominent position of the Crust restaurant was part of its charm. The Main Street location was ideal for those of us that wanted an accessible lunch in town. Also, many Aquarium visitors were sent their way with the kids after their day out. It didn’t take long before the building was taken over to capitalize on this market.


A new branch of the Barrel House now sits on that prime piece of real estate. This well-known business promised to bring a taste of Mexico to space, with quesadillas and tacos on the menu. It was also interesting that they decided to expand with a pizza menu. The developers say that this is because of the kitchen space in this great building. The rest of us can’t help but wonder whether it was a nod to the great pizza that came before them.

Crust May Be Gone, But It Is Not Forgotten.

There will be many obituaries to this downtown Dubuque institution from patrons with differing memories of the place. Many of us will miss the awareness and dependency of Crust. It was, after all, the ideal location to take the kids when we couldn’t decide on a venue. Others from out of town will add their remarks about pasta meals and family treats from their visit. It has been a few periods since the Crust restaurant closed for good. For better or worse, many of us can still taste the dough balls that made the place so famous. Most of us are undoubtedly sad that we won’t get to do so again.

By: support | July 04, 2017

Innovative Kitchen Tools

Kitchen  Appliances

I have recently realized a new level of respect for the work that goes into creating delicious, attractive restaurant dishes. I have been on a purpose to recreate dishes from an old Italian restaurant and found it is easier said than done. My journey of discovery opened up a world of exciting kitchen appliances for easy cooking. Some are too fancy and expensive for my basic kitchen, but there are ideal for professional environments.

Ten Great New Kitchen Tools That Can Be Applied To A Professional Kitchen.

Timing is everything in a professional kitchen. You don’t want to be wasting time carefully peeling and chopping fruit and vegetables in prep when there are other important tasks. You also don’t want to be messing around with leaves and juice when presenting a dish at the last minute. There are lots of interesting gadgets that restaurant kitchens can use to make the most of their fruit and veg and save some time.

 1) Pineapple Corer

Kitchen  Appliances

The pineapple corer is one of those odd kitchen appliances that we all want to own once we see. Pineapple is often too annoying to bother with, but it is still an essential ingredient in many kitchens. This corer strips the skin and core without wasting the flesh.

2) Hand Juicer

The new hand juicer is one of those items where you can’t believe someone hadn’t already made it. Adding lemon juice to the top of a dish is tricky when it comes directly from the fruit. This device essentially turns the fruit into an atomizer

3) Strawberry Stem Remover

A strawberry stem remover shouldn’t be a necessity, but it is. This device takes away the green top without damaging the fruit. It is quick, hassle-free and brilliant.


Then there are those must-have kitchen tools for cooking meat to perfection and serving it beautifully. These devices have a range of applications in different types of kitchen. Many of these kitchen aids are sold to BBQ lovers cooking outdoors. 

However, the precision and quality involved mean that they are also perfect for professional kitchens.

4)  Digital BBQ Tongs

Kitchen  Appliances

A digital BBQ tongs and thermometer set is an attractive alternative to the usual meat thermometers that chefs use. Taking the temperature of the meat means that chefs can test if it is cooked without cutting into it. A thermometer on a pair of tongs adds functional element.

5) Roast Cutting Tongs

Roast cutting tongs are a gimmick that has more potential the more you look at them. These pliers grip a large piece of meat while providing the perfect cutting point. This is great in restaurant kitchens because it allows for cleaner cuts and uniformity.

Measurements also need to be precise in a professional kitchen. Some of the following gadgets may seem as though they belong in the home kitchen for easy cooking. However, they could have their place in small, fast-paced professional environments.

6) Digital Volumetric Spoon Scale

Kitchen  Appliances

The digital volumetric spoon scale is one of those products that lives up to its name. It is both a soon and a scale, and it has a digital display. It is a little gimmicky, but it could be great for precise measurements for signature sauces.

7) Perfect Portions Digital Scale

The perfect portions digital scale is sold with an eye to at-home cooking, but it could also work in a restaurant kitchen. The idea is that the scale uses pre-programed data to determine the nutritional value of a portion of food. This could be useful in cafes with a healthy eating ethos.

It is amazing what you can get for the kitchen these days. There are so many kitchen appliances that I wouldn’t mind having but cannot justify. These final options are extravagant but impressive.

8) The Gripet

The Gripet is impractical at home but a must in a professional kitchen. These note-holders are the ideal way to display orders and messages at the line.

9) The Deglon Meeting Knife Set

The Deglon Meeting Knife Set is an intelligent storage option for professional kitchens that are short on space. The knives slot together, eliminating the need for a cumbersome block. It is also far too expensive for general use at $999.

10) UCE-9000 Turbo Water Ionizer 

Kitchen  Appliances

One item that I might get away with if it were cheaper is the UCE-9000 Turbo Water Ionizer. This device ionizes your water supply for safer, sterilized water and drinking water. At $2795 it is one for restaurants that want their tap water to be perfect.

By: support | June 02, 2017

Recipe Of Crust's Infamous Dough Balls

Recipes Of Crust

There is always one item of food that is mentioned whenever I talk to other people in Dubuque about Crust. For some reason, it was always the dough balls that were the star of the show. That isn’t to say that actual dishes weren’t great, we just always seemed to be drawn to those little bits of bread. The closure of the restaurant in February this year meant the death of our favorite complimentary treat. I want to post this brief celebration to remind diners of what we lost and to offer a solution to fill the void.

There Were Many Reasons To Love These Dough Balls, Which Is Why We Miss Them So Much.

Recipes Of Crust

Let’s start with the basic facts. These cheesy little balls of dough were tasty, fun, practical and free. Food often tastes better when it is free or unexpected. It is why we tend only to eat prawn crackers at a Chinese restaurant or breadsticks from an Italian kitchen. These complimentary balls could have been a cheap, nasty afterthought thrown in next to a more complicated entree. There are some critics with high standards that would argue that this was true. However, the rest of us looked forward to that moment when the waitress brought out that little basket and took our order. I admit that there may have been a bad batch on occasions, but most of us couldn’t get enough of them.


The locals that I talk to, as well as my family members, look back on those balls with great affection. We can’t always put our finger on precisely what it was about them that was so special. Many of us have our ideas. I believe that it was the blend of flavors. The use of parmesan, herbs, and oil in that dough was perfect. Others talk about the texture and sense of quality that they hadn’t seen in other establishments. My kids simply loved the way that the dough mopped up the mess that they left with their soup or pasta. It added to the laid back. Family-Friendly feel that Crust mastered.

Creating Our Own Dough Balls At Home.

Recipes Of Crust

We occasionally get a takeaway pizza from a chain I will not name that has similar balls on the edge. I say similar because I am always told that they are nice but not as good as normal. That is why I am looking into recipes for my Parmesan dough balls. There are lots of different recipes for dough bites with added garlic and Parmesan puffs. The basic mixture of milk, butter, flour, and cheese is simple to make, and they only take 15 to cook. From there is it easy to play with flavors and quantities.


So far my success rate is at about 50%. The texture is good, but I’m often reminded that they are not quite right. We may not have our Italian kitchen to perfect Crust’s recipe, but our love of these balls means that we cannot help but try. I am not prepared to say goodbye entirely.

By: support | May 08, 2017

About  Crust Dubuque 

Restaurant Reviews

Most people in Dubuque are sure to remember the name, Crust. If they didn’t pay a regular visit to this Italian restaurant, then they will have walked past it on Main Street. The crust was a big part of the dining scene in the area for five years. It made the most of its prominent position in town and drew in couples, local families and people on day trips to the city. It was regularly busy as keen patrons tried new dishes or returned for old favourites. It also got its fair share of positive and negative reviews.

My kids loved making a mess at the pasta bar and enjoyed the deserts. My wife appreciated the chance to try new flavours and pizza combinations at a fair price. I was merely a creature of habit that went back for appetizers and signature dishes that I had grown to love. We cannot enjoy those meals anymore, but we still remember them fondly and have taken to trying to recreate them at home.

The Range Of Reviews That The Crust Kitchen And Bar Received Over Those Five Years Show That We Are Not Alone.

Restaurant Reviews

The reviews about Crust are pretty mixed. For every local like me that appreciated everything that the establishment was trying to do, there was someone that didn’t. There are some that criticized the shabby feel of the décor while others felt that it was welcoming. The food was not five star, but there was the choice. Many came for the pizza and pasta but found themselves won over by the interesting starters. There were also mixed comments on the price, even though we always felt that it was affordable and fair.


The location of Crust was a significant factor in its success over the years, but the biggest draw was the food. Many happy reviewers talk about the pizza and specialty dishes. The pasta was not the best in the world, but the pizza was the best in Dubuque. Just before Crust closed, one reviewer said that “Their pizza menu is extensive and has some fresh options. Three Little Pigs is my favorite. Great wine list too”. The drinks menu is something that I don’t see mentioned so often. Perhaps we are all too busy celebrating the food. There was always a good selection of drinks on offer for the whole family. I never had to settle for a basic red or a bland beer.


Some buyers were less than impressed with the atmosphere of this restaurant, although I am not sure what they expected. The basic information about Crust clearly states that this was a child-friendly restaurant with a casual feel. There was a full bar for local couples that wanted a drink. Children were tolerated, and it was never too noisy. One analyst stated that “the staff was very friendly, and it seems like a good place to go with a group.” This raises an interesting point. I often heard that Crust was best for group lunches and a casual family affair. Few people chose the place for an intimate, romantic date.


This atmosphere was enhanced by the service of the food. Some people had trouble with slow service and problem orders. However, Crust were always happy to train up the new staff that had the right demeanor. I could forgive a misplaced drink if there were an apology and a smile. One visitor from out of town mentioned that the “service was attentive but not overly. The place was clean and quiet”. This shows that while mistakes were made, the team was generally in good form.


This comment from a Dixon resident sums the place up nicely “Great location, friendly service, social atmosphere and delicious food. Definitely will be visiting again and cannot recommend highly enough.” Many of us became regulars for a good reason. We could always be sure that everyone had been well-fed and could settle the bill without groaning. Some felt that the takeaway charges were a little steep but we always felt that the in-house prices were fair.

Crust Kitchen And Bar Closed In February This Year And Many Of  Us Are Still Noticing Its Absence.

Restaurant Reviews

The crust was a massive part of the downtown scene in Dubuque, and its absence is still noticeable. The real void in Main Street has since been filled with a new restaurant, but it is not the same. It didn’t take long for a new owner to take over the property. The Barrel House now serves a range of exotic dishes there, as they expand their territory. The bones of the building and that prime location mean that it wasn’t a surprise that it was snapped up so quickly. We just didn’t get long to deal with the passing of Crust.


The closure of the restaurant was announced in February. Space was bought out in April, and the transformation was completed over the summer. We have been back and had an excellent meal at The Barrel House. The only problem was that we found ourselves making comparisons to the old site. It was like going back to a childhood home after the new owners gutted your old bedroom. The departure of Crust was sad and sudden. The reports claimed that the owner was offered a new position in Chicago and only felt it was time to move on. Five years is a long time in the restaurant game, so she was probably right. Sadly, within those five years, Crust kitchen and bar had become something of an institution in the area.

Now, All That We Can Do Is To Celebrate Crust And Share Our Fond Memories Of The Place.

Out-of-towners took pleasure in writing their negative reviews about the food and vibe of this restaurant. We appreciate that Crust never offered the standard of fine dining that some were after, but that was never the point. They still provided a great meal with great choices and catered for families in a way that “better” establishments cannot match. Many of us miss Crust for their amazing pizzas, those signature dough balls and the general atmosphere of the place. Ordering a takeaway pizza on the weekend just doesn’t provide the same experience.

By: support | April 14, 2017

Two Classic Crust Restaurant Dips

I had often spoken fondly about the range of dishes that were available at Crust restaurant when it was open. The pizzas and dough balls were usually the main attraction, but some understated starters could steal the show. There were days when a simple dip and bread were all we needed before a large entree. Crust hit the spot with two brilliant Italian recipes – the Giardiniera spread and the Baked Artichoke Asiago Cheese Dip. Crust’s closure means that I am now left to recreate a version of both in my kitchen. This is how I did so.

How I Made My Own Giardiniera Spread At Home.

Crust’s spicy Giardiniera dip was a favorite with our family for many reasons. My wife and I always loved the taste and believed it was the great healthy treat to counterbalance the wine and pizza. The kids utilized their nose up at the smell (either due to the pickled elements or the olive) but had fun with the pronunciation. It seemed like such a simple, versatile dip that I decided to try and recreate it at home. The problem is that the vague description on the menu didn’t offer many clues.


Crust restaurant described the dip as a “traditional spicy olive salad” with Italian cheese that was served cold. The serving suggestion was easy enough. I knew I simply had to blend the ingredients together to get a nice paste and put it on some toast. The rest of it was a little vague. I later found this recipe on Giardiniera spread that gave me a starting point.

1 cup of mixed giardiniera

1-2 cloves of garlic

One tablespoon of olive oil

1 teaspoon of white balsamic vinegar

Ciabatta for toasting.


This all sounded easy enough, and I was able to adapt the recipe to make my version of the Crust classic. Naturally, I added some olives and cheese to try and make it more like the dip that I remembered. The Giardiniera turned out to be a mixture of pickled carrots, celery, cauliflower, red pepper and pepperoncini. Remove any stems and blend this mixture in a food processor with the other ingredients of your choice. Continue until you get to the right consistency, season and spread it on your toasted Ciabatta. The end product results in the same upturned nose from my kids, so I must be getting close.

Recreating The Baked Artichoke Asiago Cheese Dip At Home.

The other dip that Crust Restaurant had that we wanted to try and bring back their Baked Artichoke Asiago Cheese Dip. The flavors and texture in this dip always came as a surprise, even though we had eaten it many times before. This time, the old Crust menu was less than helpful in providing a starting point. We knew we needed Artichoke and Asiago cheese, but that was it. A quick online search leads us to many recipes. It seems that Crust were not kidding when they said that they followed authentic Italian recipes. You can choose the option you think sounds the tastiest, or easiest. I went for the following.


One package of fat-free cream cheese

1/2 a cup of fat-free sour cream

2 of tablespoons of fat-free half-and-half

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup of shredded Asiago cheese

1 can of artichoke hearts

Four medium green onions

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


You will note that I have chosen fat-free options here. You can go for a less healthy option and may even find that it tastes better. There are a lot of elements here, but the method is pretty simple if you follow it carefully. Start by warming the oven to 350 degrees F. Smooth the cream cheese with an electric mixer before adding the sour cream, half-and-half, and salt. Once blended, add the grated cheese, chopped artichoke hearts and onions. Spoon the batter into an ovenproof dish and bake uncovered. The recipe says to wait between 10 and 15 minutes. I find the best indicator is when the cheese is melted. To serve, simply take it out, place it in a bowl and sprinkle with that chopped parsley.


These Italian recipes are an attempt to recreate the magic of a starter course at Crust restaurant. I may not have completely revived the dishes, but I have come close enough for now.


By: support | March 10, 2017

Robotic Cleaners For Restaurant Cleaning

As diners, we usually come to a restaurant for the food over anything else. However, it takes more than that for us to consider a return visit. There are lots of factors to count when creating the ideal establishment. A great location, pleasant décor, fun ambiance and clean dining area all play their part. We always expect to be seated at a clean table and offered a meal on clean plates with clean cutlery. The whole area needs to be kept as fresh and tidy as possible with continual cleaning and maintenance. I feel it is important that front of house staff remember that regular table was wiping, and replacement knives and forks are just the starts when it comes to cleaning. That is why I am here to advocate the robotic vacuum. 

There Are Forever Going To Be Spills And Accidents In A Restaurant Setting, So Deal With Them Effectively

If we aren’t accidentally knocking over a glass of wine, there will be a mistake by the waiting staff. Even the most immaculate floor can be a mess with drinks, pasta sauce, and soup stains by the end of service. It can be tricky to deal with liquid spills during a lunch service, but I believe it is essential to do so ASAP. This is especially the case in establishments with buffets where we are serving ourselves and transferring food from station to station. Staff should have hygienic, absorbent wipes on hand for accidents during service.

A Quick Mop And Sweep Will Only Go So Far. This Is Why I Recommend Robotic Vacuum Cleaners And Related Tools

The robotic floor cleaner, in my eyes at least, has to be the best cleaning invention in modern times. A robotic machine can cover the ground with a scrubbing action, water, and detergent. This lets them deal with those spills while staff focuses on table tops and other issues. These cordless machines are great tools in large spaces where spills need to be treated effectively. The ones that have a drying function are even more beneficial as they cut the drying time. This means no risk of a slippery floor when us diners arrive for the dinner service.


Robotic vacuum cleaners are also a great tool for dealing with dirt and crumbs in the carpet. This is true under tables or in hard to reach nooks and crannies. The last thing that any of us want is food getting into a seemingly out-of-reach place and causing a smell or insect infestation. The more intelligent the model is, the better the chance of creating a route that it can remember. This feature, as well as obstacle recognition, means that these robots can be left to their own devices.

Robotic Vacuum Cleaners Are A Vital Tool For Effective Restaurant Cleaning

It is usually all about the human touch with fine dining, but I am certain that robots can help to keep the place clean. It is vital that a restaurant dining area is spotless and ready for customers at the start of every service. This effective process really can make a difference between an efficient, inviting establishment and those that struggle to meet expectations.


By: support | February 14, 2017

Crust's Best Starters

Crust became something of an institution in Dubuque over the last six years. It may not have offered the fanciest Italian food, but it did provide some great dishes for the whole family. Many people still talk about the specialty pizza recipes and make-your-own-pasta for their quirks. However, the joy of eating there was often found in their signature starters. Fancy pizzas were a treat, but a Bruschetta or garlic chicken salad was a reliable hit during any visit.


It is never easy to recreate famous, revered dishes from a popular restaurant. The closure of Crust means that we have no choice but to try. I have made it my mission over recent month to seek to recreate a little of the tastes and smells of Crust in my kitchen. Occasionally, I have been pretty successful. Here I want to showcase recipe options for these two classics to help others that are struggling with the loss.

A Bruschetta Is A Staple Part Of Most Italian Restaurants And It Was No Different In Crust.

Many of us in Dubuque can say we enjoyed the great textures and flavors of this classic before our entree. You might argue that a Bruschetta is simple and easy. However, there is more to this than putting some cheese and tomato on a bit of toast and pretending you are in Italy.

The recipe I want to share here is essentially a blend of two creations. It is an adaptation of a Guy Fierri recipe that I have twisted to make it look and taste much more like the Crust classic. Fierro won’t offer ideal Italian food, but this is a good starting point for beginners like me. His recipe calls for the following ingredients:

1 baguette

2 teaspoons of minced garlic

Three tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

14 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

2 12 cups of chopped tomatoes

13 cup of basil

Two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

12 teaspoon of salt

One teaspoon of freshly ground pepper.


The method for making this dish is pretty simple. Cut the baguette in half (length-wise) and toast it. Mash up the tomatoes with the garlic, oil, and balsamic vinegar, so that it makes a paste, and add to the toast. The grated Parmesan and chopped basil go on top with some salt and pepper for seasoning. This isn’t one for presentation. No matter how hard I try, this mashed up version isn’t the prettiest dish I make. This could be down to the consistency of the ingredients and the lack of one key ingredient. My quest to turn this Ferri option into something more recognizable led to a much better dish.


The reason that that call this a starting the point is that this doesn’t quite hit the spot in the same way as the Crust version. The main difference is the choice of cheese. I like a bit of Parmesan, but it does need to be mozzarella to recreate the Crust dish. This is easily substituted. From there you can play with the consistency of the tomatoes and the other flavors as you see fit.

Recreating The Crust Garlic Chicken Salad In Your Home.

The second of the two starter recipes that I want to talk about here is the restaurant’s garlic chicken and bacon salad. You may say that a salad is as simple as a Bruschetta. However, you still need the right touch and ingredients to recreate that Crust taste. The Crust version of this salad contained the following, according to the menu.

Fresh greens






cheddar cheese

roasted garlic

herb dressing


That is quite a lot to get right in one bowl of salad, and it doesn’t account for seasoning. To be honest, there are many recipes online that sound far more complicated.


The first place to start is with the chicken. Melt some butter in a pan, add two large chicken breasts, season and brown them on both sides. Then you need to make your marinade coat that chicken in all those wonderful flavors of Italian food. Mix four cloves of minced garlic, and about half a teaspoon of both dried basil and oregano. Add the marinade to the chicken and continue cooking until the pieces are cooked through.


Once the chicken is cooked you need to prepare the salad and start to cook your bacon. This is where the term “fresh greens” might confuse some first timers. It certainly stumped me when I was writing my first shopping list. The fact is that you can use any greens and salad options you feel work. Sometimes it is best to choose based on the season. The official recipes state tomatoes, cucumber, and onion in a herb dressing. Chop them up, toss them together and add your chicken to the top. Finish with crumbled cooked bacon for that extra touch.


Some recipes take things further and suggest additional ingredients for the marinade. Capers certainly didn’t make it into the Crust recipe for this garlic chicken salad, but you can try them. Many recipes also ask for the ¼ cup of white wine. To be fair, Crust could easily have used this. It certainly makes my salad taste good when I do. As for the salad, the world is your oyster. Some people use zucchini, mushrooms, bell peppers and avocado. Some like to toss it all in a caesar salad dressing. It all depends on how actual you want this to be.

Recreating Crust’s Best Appetizers Take Time And Patience.

Those of us that loved Crust know that we cannot get the recipes right the first time. There are bound to be elements that we miss in the Bruschetta and Garlic chicken salad or incorrect methods. However, we can certainly have a lot of fun trying. Each experiment with these classic starters takes us closer to the tastes we remember. It is the best, and utmost fun way to recreate our time at Crust. Think about the dishes you remember, find the essential ingredients list and have fun trying to revive them in your kitchen.

By: support | January 11, 2017

Kitchen Equipment To Open A Restaurant

Kitchen  Appliances

Setting up a new restaurant is an exciting task, especially if you are thinking ahead to your paying customers and interesting menu. However, the only way to create that mouth-watering menu is by adding the right equipment and appliances to your kitchen. Here I want to look at some of the most valuable items that restauranteurs need to create the perfect cooking space. I know that some seem obvious, but others may have slipped your mind.

Industrial Grade Cooking And Chilling Equipment:

Kitchen  Appliances

This first item is probably the most prominent on my list, which is why I put it first. If you plan on having a busy restaurant with lots of covers, you can’t have a bad machine. Ovens, grills, hobs, grates and all other cooking apparatus need to be built to last. They need to be able to handle the high heats and fuel consumption of a busy dinner service while remaining reliable. The same applies to any chillers, freezers and other, more specialist equipment that you might decide to use.

Pots, Pans, And Other Related Items:

Kitchen  Appliances

Once you have all of the different pieces of cooking equipment set up, you need to be able to cook. The first place to start is with the sauce pans, stock pots, frying pans and other pieces of cooking apparatus. The more versatile, the better when starting out with your new kitchen. Again, specialist items can be useful for specific menus and dishes, but you need to be sure that they are worthwhile. A wok is a must for a Chinese restaurant but not so much in more traditional hotel restaurants. Consider the quality of the items as well as the capacity. A stock pot needs to be large enough to meet the needs of customers but small enough to fit the space. Pans also need to be tough and heat resistant for long-term use.


Then all the different appliances are necessary to create the dishes within these pieces of equipment. Once we start to think of all the different items that are used, the list seems endless. First, there are all the spoons, spatulas and ladles for stirring and serving the dishes. Then there are all the different types of knives for chopping and cutting the produce. As with the pans and other devices, it is best to start with the multifunctional, essential elements first. It may be worth holding back on specialist items until you are sure they are worthwhile. We all get drawn in by clever contraptions and have buyers remorse when they sit unused in the drawer.

Plates And Bowls:

Kitchen  Appliances

This is one of those categories of appliances that seems obvious but comes quite far down most check-lists. All restaurants need plates and bowls to serve up the finished dish to the paying customers. Strange wooden blocks and plates are fashionable, but we can all agree that a simple white plate is essential. It is important to ensure that there are more than enough on hand to deal with the covers, breakages, and mistakes. This also means having a large set of appetizer, entrée, side and salad plates as well as soup bowls and pasta bowls. With the bowls, it is also important to remember mixing bowls for creating dishes

Safety Equipment:

Kitchen  Appliances

Kitchens are fast-paced, dangerous places. It is not just us amateurs that cut ourselves with knives and set dishes on fire. Why do you think those blue band-aids were invented. This means that it is important for all restaurant kitchens to have a good first aid kit in a prominent, accessible place. Hand sanitizer and cleaning aids are also essential for creating a safe, clean work environment. Finally, every kitchen should have the right fire safety apparatus and extinguishers in place in case of an emergency.

Portable Air Conditioners:

This final item on my essential kitchen checklist may seem odd after talking about some of the most obvious pieces. So far I have mentioned the cooking equipment, other heat-generating machinery and the pans creating hot sauces and steam. This all results in a boiling, uncomfortable work environment. Portable air conditioners could make all the difference by circulating the air and creating a more pleasant temperature. That is as long as they are in a safe, efficient place. I get flustered when my glasses steam up after opening the oven door. I can’t imagine being a professional kitchen without air conditioning

By: support | December 09, 2016

Italian Beet And Goat Cheese Salad

 Recipes Of Crust

Salads always seem that bit more special when you are dining out. That was the case with the Italian Beet and Goat Cheese Salad that I used to order from Crust. I know that many of us loved the fresh taste and pleasing flavor combinations. The problem is that since Crust closed its doors, we are left trying to figure out how to recreate the dish at home. Thankfully, I think I have discovered a pretty good alternative.

How To Make Your Homage To This Much-Loved Salad.

 Recipes Of Crust

I found the following recipe on the Food Network website. Apparently, it was created during an episode of their Everyday Italian’ show. This sounded like a pretty good starting point to me, so I tried it out. The recipe starts by mentioning that this is an arugula salad with walnuts, cranberries, goats cheese, and beets. Those of us that fondly remember this Italian Beet and Goat Cheese Salad from Crust will recall that this is not correct. Arugula and cranberries were not part of the mix. There are two options when making this salad at home. You can either select the authentic ingredients to try and recreate the restaurant’s classic meal or experiment with a twist. The original Crust salad was advertised as containing the following list of simple ingredients.

Fresh greens


Local goat cheese

Candied walnuts

A honey balsamic vinaigrette


You could also add chicken for an extra $2 back then, so there is no harm in adding a little protein.

When We Combine This List Of Ingredients With The Method And Seasonings From The Giada De Laurentiis Recipe We Get The Following:

Recipes Of Crust

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

One tablespoon honey

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Six medium beets, cooked and quartered

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped

3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, coarsely broken

These Food Network recipes also included three tablespoons of thinly sliced shallots, a cubed avocado, 6 cups of that arugula and a ¼ cup of dried cranberries. I have not added these elements to my dish, but they could add an interesting twist.The cranberries and avocado are simply added on top for a broader range of flavors and a bit of color. 

So How Does It All Come Collectively To Create That Dish We Love So Much?

This salad is pretty easy to make with minimal preparation time. The only cooked element is the sliced beets. Blend the vinegar, honey, and oil to create your vinaigrette and season with the pepper. Then add the beets so that they get a good coating and bake them at 450 degrees F until caramelized. This should take around 12 minutes, but I find its best to check at 10. You can prepare the additional elements while the beets are cooling and then sprinkle them on top while serving. The presentation is entirely up to you.


That is about all there is to this take on Crust’s infamous Italian goat cheese and beet salad. Once you should have the basics down, you can continue to tweak it to recreate that restaurant taste or experiment further. 

Category: Recipes Of Crust 

Tags: Crust Recipes