It was a dal kinda day
After eating the truly spicy and delicious curry at White Horse, a downtown St. Cloud restaurant, I felt the overwhelming urge to make Indian food on my own. Plus, as Minnesota descends into the winter months, there's a biting chill in the air that can really only be remedied by hot, savory, spicy food.
Indian seemed like a swell idea.
When I think of Indian food, I think of chutney, sambar, curry and spices like cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, and cumin. I think of rice, lentils, coconut, mustard seed, biryani, lamb, samosas, roti and other flatbreads.
Oh, yes, & perhaps my very favorite, dal.
Many foods come to mind when I think of Indian cuisine; it's an enormous country with a broad range of diverse soils, climates, and cultures. It makes sense that sooo many flavors, dishes, and cooking methods have come to represent this ever-changing, always-dynamic subcontinent.
Dal (also spelled daal, dail, dhal)
It's one of those foods with two meanings:
1. dried, split pulses (i.e. lentils, peas, and beans)
2. soups prepared from these pulses
But no matter what, pulses are the star. You can assume that when you read/hear the work dal that pulses are the key ingredient, though may not necessarily be in soup form.
Traditionally, dals are eaten with rice or flatbread like chapati, roti, or naan. They're high in fiber (from the lentils, beans, peas), and are a fantastic and affordable source of healthy plant-based protein, as well as being high in B vitamins, thiamine and folic acid, and minerals, iron and zinc.
In this particular recipe, I chose to substitute acorn squash for rice (starch for starch) and use cauliflower as the star vegetable. The cauliflower florets make a lovely addition to this dish with a slightly crisp texture from the oven that balances the sweetness from the squash. Since I didn't use rice, but rather squash, I was able to avoid adding coconut milk to ensure a natural sweet flavor without the added fat.
1 cup split yellow lentils
2 tablespoons mustard oil (or vegetable oil)
3 chilis, kept whole
¼ tsp cardamom
1 tsp cumin
¼ tsp mustard seed
1 yellow onion, small dice
3 cups squash, raw, cut into 1” cubes (I chose acorn)
1 tsp. Kosher salt
3 cups water or broth
½ cup raw, unsweetened coconut
4 cups cauliflower
1 tsp turmeric
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup yogurt
8 sprigs cilantro
Whether breakfast, lunch, or dinner, all meals should be nutritionally balanced. But, understandably so, it can be difficult to consume veggies at the first meal of the day... if you eat a typical American breakfast. Many cultures do not consume the American standard of bacon, eggs, or cereal grains for breaky. Instead, others eat foods like:
You probably could have guessed it, produce, and lots of it! Making sure you get at least 3-4 servings of fruit (1 serving=1 small apple, size of a tennis ball) and another 4-5 servings of vegetables (1 serving=1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw) every day is incredibly important. And it's a lot easier than you think, even for breakfast. Here are some suggestions on how to improve your fruit and veggie consumption:
recipe: balanced cornmeal pancakes
Pancakes are meant to be simple, quick and easy. With this recipe, one can enjoy it for breakfast or dinner, especially since cornmeal has great versatility.
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons thyme, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cup milk
¼ cup honey or sweetener of your choice (agave, molasses, maple syrup)
2 tablespoons butter for greasing the pan
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 cups blueberries
4 cups arugula (or kale, as seen in the pic)
1. Combine all dry ingredients, which include the cornmeal, flours, baking powder, thyme, and salt into one medium sized bowl and mix well with a fork.
2. In a second bowl, whisk the egg and milk together and slowly drizzle in 2 tablespoons honey or sweetener.
3. Gradually incorporate the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients while mixing with a fork. Be sure to mix until the batter begins to come together; you do not want to work out all the clumps. If you sifted the flour before adding, you may need to add more liquid until thick, but loose batter results.
4. Heat the griddle to 350° F or a frying pan. Add the butter once it is hot, a little bit at a time, and in batches, ladle the batter onto the pan. Bubbles will appear around the edges to indicate a golden brown crust. Flip and cook for another 2 minutes or until the pancake has set. Remove from pan and keep warm or eat immediately.
5. Top pancakes with a dollop of Greek yogurt, blueberries, honey drizzle, and spicy arugula greens.
More than a meatless burger smeared in mayonnaise, soy products are versatile, and come in many forms: tofu, tempeh, mock dock, seitan, and soy curls. The last, soy curls, is a variation I recently discovered -thanks to my dietician colleague Bettina- and I couldn't believe how much I fell in love with the product.
No, this is not an advertisement. No one is paying me to endorse this still somewhat obscure way to eat soy. This is simply something new you can, and probably should, try to expand your meat-free plate. Unlike most meat/soy alternatives, soy curls are not made from the derived protein. Instead, they are made from the entire soy bean by cooking & texturing the beans before drying.
To prepare: You'll want to rehydrate the soy curls by soaking in hot liquid (water, broth, etc) for 10 minutes before using, then drain, season, and serve. Once rehydrated, they take on a 'shredded chicken'-type form. There isn't a whole lot of flavor jammed packed into these curls, so be sure to season with your favorite marinades and spices (they take on flavor incredibly well). Add them to pasta, soups, casseroles, tacos, rice, pizzas, stir-fries, etc. Really, once rehydrated and drained, they can easily be substituted for almost any recipes containing meat. Well, maybe not in a Beef Wellington. But then again, why would you ever do such a thing?
(Actually, some people have used seitan...
if you have a vegetarian Beef Wellington recipe you love,
let me know in the comments below!)
When you buy them: They may be found in bulk at your local co-op and in some Asian markets (though maybe not labeled in English). Otherwise, they may be difficult to find. I suggest ordering them on-line to make it easy, and if you really enjoy eating them, order in bulk. It's a low-cost protein that will fill you up without breaking the bank. I particularly like the Butler brand [shown above], since it's GMO-free, and does not contain preservatives or additives.
If you're concerned about your heart health, this may be an excellent protein source for you. One serving of soy curls is only 100 calories with 10g of protein, 3g of fiber, no cholesterol, and only 5mg sodium. That's crazy deliciousness in a package with amazing nutrition to boot. Who wouldn't be excited about that?
Hopefully, I have brought you to a point of interest, and a desire to try something new and exciting. Try the recipe below to start your soy curl journey. Perhaps it will inspire you to experiment and create your own recipes, and share your thoughts/ideas/recipes in the comment section.
miso curly soup
4 oz soy curls
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup sliced leeks
3 garlic cloves minced
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 can, 8 oz., straw mushrooms, drained
1/4 cup yellow miso
8 cups broth or water
1 Tablespoon sambal oelek
3 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
6 cups kale, chopped
2 oz. rice noodles
1. Rehydrate soy curls in hot water for 10 minutes, then drain
2. In a stock (soup) pot, heat and add oil. When at temperature, add the leeks and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and ginger.
3. Mix in the miso and gradually whisk in the broth, sambal, and rice wine vinegar.
4. Next, add the mushrooms and soy curls. When it comes up to temperature, add the kale and rice noodles. Cook for 2 minutes and serve.
in bananas united
Bananas are a staple of many cuisines, and each culture has a different way of incorporating them into their diets. The most common for Americans is eating them plain as a snack. Somalis, on the other hand, commonly serve sliced bananas at lunch and dinner to be mixed into rice and/or pasta (You can thank Italian colonization for that one). In Mexico, they often serve bananas as a dessert; deep-fried with a side of chocolate sauce, or stuffed inside empanadas. Germans often enjoy them as a drink, bananenmilch, consisting of over-ripened bananas blended with milk and sugar.
What ties each culture to the beloved banana is also unique. One notable example is Germany's relationship with the now-ubiquitous yellow fruit: Seen as a sign of progression, East Germany increased imports in the 1950's and 60's. It quickly became a symbol of a new, working, and prosperous Germany, with mothers feeding their kids banana-rich meals. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Western Germany was finally able to take part in the German banana craze, and it was seen as a sign of victory.
food and cooking
In the United States, we eat the fruit raw, baked into breads, blended in a smoothie, or sliced into our breakfast cereals. We don't bother with the flowers, leaves, or the trunk, but many other countries who live where banana trees grow utilize the entire plant. For example, in South and Southeast Asia, the banana leaves are used as plates due to them being large, sturdy and waterproof. Leaves are also commonly used across many cuisines as a cooking vessel or wrap for grilling.
Nutritionally speaking, raw banana fruit consists mostly of water (75%), and carbohydrates (23%). They are a rich source of vitamin B6, and contain moderate amounts of vitamin C, manganese and dietary fiber. Interestingly, potassium content is commonly thought to be exceptionally high, but in reality, it's actually relatively low at only 8% of the US recommended daily value. If it's potassium you're after, choose raw spinach, baked potatoes, cooked soybeans, mushrooms, or tomatoes instead.
going bananas in Minnesota
Growing up in Minnesota, I loved to watch my mother bake banana bread. She didn't enjoy cooking as much as she did baking. I'd cook dinner [known as "supper" in MN] meals as soon as I could see over the counter, and she would do the baking. It took me a while to understand the methodologies of baking, and it didn't come as natural to me as cooking did: There were many failed attempts at cookies, but my mother's desserts always turned out, each and every time. After watching and learning, I eventually got better. >>>Thanks mum<<<
On weekends, as a small child, I'd sit on the countertop while she prepared her sweets. Her cookies, cakes and bars often decorated the kitchen, but banana bread was her specialty. She recently gave me the tried-and-true recipe, so I thought I'd try my hand at baking this afternoon. It's been a long time since I've tasted her famous morning treat, and thought I'd share it with you.
See bottom left side of the photo below, marked with a faint, penciled-in asterisk. It continues onto the next page at the top as well.
Feel free to share your own banana bread story below, and any thoughts/tips/tricks you have as you try this recipe for yourself.
If you recall, I wrote a previous post on kimchi, and my epic failure preparing it. However, I have since (successfully) made scratch kimchi, and it's pretty amazing if I do say so myself. Give me a ring me if you'd like a jar for yourself. Really, no joke: I'd love to share. All I ask is that you return the jar.
This is also why I've been finding every and any excuse to use it up at home. The most creative use has been, perhaps, the mac 'n' chi version for which you'll find the recipe below.
Among my other kimchi creations?
4 cups Brussels sprouts
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
8 oz dried shelled pasta
1/4 cup leek, sliced thinly
8 oz shredded aged cheddar cheese
2 oz. milk [or milk substitute]
2 cups prepared kimchi
salt and pepper to taste
1. Warm oven to 400F. Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Toss them in a bowl with 1 tbsp olive oil and pinch of salt. Put on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly.
2. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil to cook pasta. Follow instructions on packaging to cook pasta and set aside.
3. In a large pot, sauté leeks in remaining olive oil until translucent. Add the kimchi, noodles, milk and cheese. Combine until creamy consistency.
4. By this time, the Brussels will be ready. Toss those into the mix and voila.
quick fix mac 'n' chi
When you're in a pinch and need something quick for dinner (because you've been at the bookstore reading until 9 p.m...), you might want to try these modifications:
A dining adventure in Venice, CA
I spent the past four days in Venice beach, California visiting a Chicago-founded gal pal group, and other friends. Nearly everyone, 7 in total, was there with a few exceptions (you were greatly missed!). Ramen Nights began originally as a ramen shop gathering, where we would order our food, walk to one of our apartments (whoever was closest), and socialize over games and/or drawing.
We did this at least once a month, typically on a Thursday, and I savored each and every moment; it was the one time I knew I could visit with an amazing group of friends to catch up on life, share stories, laugh. We would alternate the location, and rotate depending on who could/would join.
Food is meant to be shared with those you love, and ultimately brings people together - Ramen Nights were the answer for my Chicago crew of friends, and we carried on the tradition for as long as we could.
But, as we discover, things change. Time passes. People move: Some to Cali, one to NY, another to CO, and me up to the cold of MN.
It was sad to say goodbye, and break up our routine ramen meet-ups, but we all knew it wouldn’t stop us from continuing our friendship. After much discussion, through text messages and phone calls, our hope to meet finally came to fruition.
We were able to have our reunion this past weekend, and join once again over food and fun.
And for those in the Ramen Night clan who couldn’t visit LA, you were there in spirit. Start planning for next year: We are already in planning mode for another Ramen Nights meet-up in another city. Perhaps I could convince everyone to meet here in St. Paul, MN, the soup capital of the world...
In honor of Ramen Nights, here’s one of my favorite ramen recipes:
One hour to make, and not difficult - gotta love it!
5 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 1/3 oz miso
2 bok choi, quartered
6 oz bean sprouts
4 tsp sesame oil
4 portions of ramen noodles
soy sauce is optional
2 oz dried seaweed, cut into strips
Togarashi to taste, optional
Spicy Chicken Mince:
1 leek (finely shred the whiter half and rough chop the green)
1 1/2 oz miso
1/2 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves
1 red chili
2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1/2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
pinch black pepper
pinch Szechuan pepper
9 oz minced chicken (chopped or shredded will do as well)
1 Japanese eggplant, cut into ovals
3 tbsp oil
If you prefer pork or want a vegetarian version, simply adjust as you need by swapping out the protein and broth.
Other variations worth exploring:
**If you don’t have time to make your own and want to have your own pork-free ramen night meet-up, Tori Ramen in St. Paul is a fantastic option, and the only completely pig-less ramen shop in Minnesota. They also do vegan and vegetarian ramen that manages, somehow, to be just as rich and flavorful as the original.
What to do with all those apples?
This past Saturday I went to Aamodts apple orchard to get my fill of MN apples. I showed up with my thick sweater, sunglasses and galoshes, ready to pick my very own apples fro the tree. Nothing was going to rain on my parade
-well, nothing except for the owners of the orchard-
Upon entering the orchard, a large chalkboard sign told us, "No apples for picking this weekend."
Wa wa whattt?! I was pumped and eager to walk through the orchard, spot the perfect sweeTango, snap a photo, and sink my teeth into it while it's juices dripped down my face and onto my sleeves. It was all planned. Guess next time I'll be sure to call ahead of time
Good thing there was a wine tasting to cheer me up. Saint Croix Vineyards offered a tasting of five varieties, all for a whomping $6 value. You heard me right, SIX DOLLARS. What a steal. The first two were whites (Pinot Gris & La Crescent), followed by two reds (Frontenac & Marquette) and a sweet (Raspberry Infusion). My favorite was the Marquette, slightly smoky with cherry and a dry finish. The most surprising of the varieties was the Raspberry Infusion. Immediately I thought how good it would be reduced as a sauce poured over a custard like ice cream.
But don't think I walked away appleless. I found the 'seconds' pile and purchased two 4lb bags of SweeTango and Pizzaz along with purple corn kernels to make popcorn.
All and all, it was a lovely day and I drove off dreaming up new apple recipes.
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 cups apples, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 Thai chili's, minced*
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp honey
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp paprika
pinch of salt
*any variety of hot pepper will do*
In a large sauce pan over medium-high heat, combine the vinegar and apples. Add in the onion, hot pepper, red pepper, honey, garlic, cumin, and paprika. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat. Boil gently until slightly thickened. Remove from heat.
a) Allow to cool and serve
b) When ready to can, prepare your supplies. Bring the temperature of the glass jars up by processing them in hot water for several minutes. Heat a few cups of water in a small saucepan for the lids.
When the jars are ready, ladle hot chutney into the jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace at the top of the jar, and place the lids and bands on top, screwing on the bands just to fingertip-tight. Place the full jars back into the boiling water and boil 15 minutes. Remove from the water and place the jars on a towel, and let the jars cool.
Makes 2 eight-ounce jars.
Now, what to do with so much chutney you ask?
-serve with soft goat's milk cheese and black pepper crackers
-use it as a topping for latke's
-makes for a great sauce with pork or just about any type of poultry
-spread on a sandwich
-use as a dip with a vehicle of your choice -i.e. celery, chips, pita, vegetables, crackers...
peeling beets to Twin Peaks
To all of you David Lynch and beet eating enthusiasts, this week's post is for you.
It was a long day of cycling. I was exhausted. Beets had to be prepped for pickling, but Twin Peaks was on the back of my mind. Many have been raving about Lynch's new season, 'Twin Peaks: The Return', so I recently started watching the first two seasons from 1990-91. I refused to jump on the bandwagon without catching up on the first two years of the show, nor was I about to skip out on a blast from the past.
Given my current obsession with TP and need for pickling, I thought, why not combine the two? I set-up a workstation in my living room with three bowls (1 for red beets, 1 for yellow beets, 1 for unpeeled/mixed beets), a trash bag, rubber gloves [beets bleed, gloves save your hands from being stained and looking as though it were you who murdered Laura Palmer] pairing knife & vegetable peeler. Everything was just so.
I was getting my Lynch on and being productive: My endeavor of reaching 120 jarred pickles/preserves for the year is over half-way complete, but I still need another 50 or so. These beets will surely knock off another 10 jars at minimum.
If you're not a beet person, you probably just haven't found the right preparation [like most vegetables]. Beets can be pickled, roasted, boiled, shaved raw in salads, pureed in a soup or sauce, baked into breads... the list goes on and on. I have no doubt I could get you eating beets; just give them a chance. There are many varieties to choose from: candy-cane-stripped Chioggia, golden, red, and white [aka sugar beets], to name a few.
Pickled beets are typically enjoyed by beet aficionado's, and seldom liked by those who are indifferent about them. Therefore, I thought I'd include a recipe that would surely get one hooked on these sweet, earthy, bulbous root vegetables and save my pickled recipe for another post.
A Grain Bowl
This recipe can be modified to include vegetables/fruits you have on hand at home. Don't feel like you have to follow it ingredient by ingredient. You can even swap out the grain for another or add beans/lentils to add protein. It's an easy way to get nourished without having to think too hard. Let the ingredients do their thing and sing their flavors.
4 small beets (about 1⁄2 lb.), trimmed and scrubbed clean
6 tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1⁄2 cups farro
3 tbsp. honey
3 tbsp. champagne vinegar
1 pear, cubed
3 cup mache (substitute arugula, spinach or a green of your choice)
1⁄3 cup roasted pepitas/pumpkin seeds
1⁄4 cup ricotta cheese
1⁄2 head radicchio, thinly sliced
Instructions:1. Heat the oven to 400°. In an 8-by-8-inch square baking dish, toss beets with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper and cover with aluminum foil. Roast until tender, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven, cool slightly, and peel. Cut into wedges and set beets aside.
2. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add farro and cook until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain and rinse until cool under cold running water. Set farro aside.
3. In a small bowl, whisk remaining 2 tablespoons oil with honey and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and set dressing aside.
4. To assemble grain bowl, divide farro between 2 bowls. Top each with beets, pear, greens, ricotta cheese, and radicchio. Drizzle with dressing before serving.
A few weeks ago, I was searching my fridge to make breakfast, something Korean, I desired. I removed the eggs, mushrooms, leftover rice and kimchi. But when I grabbed my homemade 2-year kimchi, I realized I was down to 3/4th's of a half-gallon jar. I knew I had to act fast. Having kimchi on hand is like having mustard on hand. You can never have too much and you should always have backup.
After I finished eating my Korean fare, I took inventory of my cupboard and made a grocery list to prepare a whomping 30 pounds of fermented kimchi -eek (insert smiley face here).
Being the downtown St. Paul Farmer's Market wasn't open, I went to Hmongtown Marketplace to buy produce and Shuang Hur for the remaining grocery items. Time was of the essence, I needed to get back to start soaking the cabbage in heavily salted water. However, I couldn't find a key ingredient in my recipe. Knowing I could substitute with another ingredient, I changed my course of action and thought I'd do something different, you know, mix it up...try something new.
But before I go further, let me remind the audience that I have made kimchi for nearly 8 years -once per year- and have never failed.
Prep started out the same:
-cut the cabbage & soak in salted water
-separately, make the paste
-sanitize the jars
Meanwhile, David Bowie was playing in the background. The day was mine.
I soaked the cabbage for 12 hours, which went into the next morning. This is where things began turning. The kitchen sink needed to be repaired, and it just so happened the repairman showed up early morning to fix it -unexpectedly-
My David Bowie high from the previous day wasn't working now that I had a time crunch to drain the cabbage and finish the kimchi, all while working between a repairman. Ugh.
This is where fault #1 came into play:
Do not rush kimchi or you may forget to do something very, very important, like rinse the cabbage in cold water. Long story short, I didn't rinse the salt off the cabbage...and I didn't realize this until I had already mixed the cabbage with the paste.
What a rookie mistake. The only solution to salty cabbage was to rinse it in cold water and bulk up the kimchi and add more paste to replace what I removed. As a result, I rinsed the cabbage twice -including the paste- & went back to the market to purchase Chinese greens and ingredients to make a second round of paste.
When you know what you're doing, don't doubt yourself.
After all the fuss of 'fixing' my first mistake, I made another error. Don't let your kimchi stay out too long in a humid environment without the air conditioning running (or in a cool, dry place). When you ferment, it's possible for mold or yeast to develop if conditions are right -including, a warm environment, too much sugar, not enough salt-
I knew to package the kimchi after the second day, but decided against it. Even after skimming off the mold/yeast, I tried the kimchi. It tasted a bit funky, but I liked it, so I proceeded to jar it up.
After many days, it remained to be on my mind and I talked it through with my friends. Was it ok to serve? Should I throw in the towel and throw it away?
The answer, my action, toss and try again. Like many things in life, things don't always work out the way you'd like, and that's perfectly OK. So here I go, I'm now planning my next kimchi adventure for next week, and this time I'll be sure to learn from my mistakes, rinse and listen.
Excuses for Cake
It started out like this:
Friend: "I had the best carrot cake the last time I was here [Parlour]"
Me: "Mmmm, I love carrot cake. Let's try!"
[...opened the menu to find no carrot cake was available...bummer]
Friend: "Well, it was really good, too bad."
What a buzz kill. I was eager to eat cake and compare Parlour's version to my own. Since carrot cake was not an option for the evening, I came up with a brilliant idea. Bake one myself.
Coincidentally, the following Friday was my half birthday, so I got clever. Make half a cake. My friends agreed; it was was a fabulous idea.
So it was set, the following Friday, I was to woo my friends with cake...
Ultimately, the cake was a hit. The homemade Chinese 5-spice was perfectly balanced, not
overpowering, the hiding sultanas within the moist cake burst with flavour, and the candied orange
peel offered a soft citrus note on the front of the palate.
Then came the cornichons. I was eager to tell my friends about all the pickles and kimchi I was
making. I further explained, I bump up my pickle/preserving production by 10% [jars] year-over-year. Jokingly, my friend asked, "What are you going to do in 45 years?" I replied, "I'll have my own store
front or production building and sell them."
All this was discussed over cake, so when we finished, I asked if there was room for pickles and
fermented treats. No one declined. First came the cornichons, then the beets, cauliflower,
watermelon, and finally, kimchi [both the 3-day and 2-year varieties]. You read correctly, 2-year
kimchi. Only a select few are lucky enough to try this one. After a couple years, the kimchi has
completely transformed itself into the most amazingly, well-balanced, spicy blend of flavor that leaves your mouth wanting and asking for more.
I'll write more on the pickling/preserving later, for now, let's get to the cake:
Makes two circular 9" cake pans
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
3/4 cup sultanas [aka, golden raisins]
1 1/2 cup carrots, grated (205g)
1 cup parsnips, grated (135g)
2 cups all-p flour (260g)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. Chinese 5-spice (see recipe below)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (300g)
1 cup safflower oil (240ml)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. chopped candied orange peel
1/4 cup room-temperature butter
8 oz. cream cheese, room-temperature
2 cups confectioner sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds removed
Cake: Preheat oven to 350F and place a rack in the center of oven. Butter/oil two 9x2 inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
1) In a bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and ground 5-spice.
2) In bowl of electric mixer, beat eggs for 1 minute, then gradually add the sugar and beat until batter
is thick, about 3 minutes. Add the oil in a steady stream and beat in vanilla extract. Add the flour
mixture and beat until incorporated. With a spatula, fold in the toasted nuts, sultanas, grated carrots, and grated parsnips. Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake for 30
minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
3) Remove from oven and let cool on a rack. After 10 minutes, remove cake from pans and allow to
cool completely before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting: In bowl of electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese on low speed until
lumps are removed. Gradually add sifted powdered sugar and beat until fully incorporated and
smooth. Finally, beat in vanilla extract.
Assembly: You can do this one of two ways. Simply use both 9" cakes as is and layer each other with frosting (end result=2 cake layers), or show off your skills and slice each cake in half so you end up
with four 9" cakes. Regardless, put a smear of cream cheese on plate to keep cake stable and place
one cake layer onto serving plate. Spread with frosting, but be sure to divide out accordingly so each layer receives the same amount of frosting. Top with candied orange peel and additional toasted nuts (optional). Cover and refrigerate leftovers, if you have any.
2 whole star anise
2 tsp. Szechuan peppercorns (substitute black if not available)
2 tsp. clove
1 tsp. fennel
1 tsp. coriander
1 cinnamon stick
In a grinder, blend all spices together. Some of the spices my get stuck, so work in batches. You're
welcome to use a mortar and pestle as well.
Feeling ambitious? I was a couple weeks ago...
Challenged to make maultaschen, a German spinach ravioli, I decided to accept with great pleasure and put my ambition to use. Years had gone by since I last made ravioli, so I decided to give it a go and practice my rolling skills.
The dish hails from the Schwaben (Swabian) region of Southern Germany. It's traditionally made with pork sausage and bacon; however, I'm allergic to pork (womp womp), so I made it with veal instead. Ground chicken or lamb would be another swell idea, if you're looking to do something off the beaten path.
Working with pasta has always been joyous for me, and I loved every minute as I made each individual morsel of maultaschen. My fingers were careful at work, beginning to end, from each delicate sheet of pasta to the last individual ravioli.
This recipe is certainly a timely process (2-3 hours), so you must be in it for the long haul with this recipe -unless done in stages. But rest assured, your stomach will be 100% satisfied. You'll be happy you embarked on this luscious food journey. Make the most of your day by having a friend/loved one help me. Preparing food is a lovely way to spend time with one another; do it with this recipe.
maultaschen, German ravioli
FOR the PASTA DOUGH [makes ~1 pound]
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
FOR the FILLING
1 oz. stale piece of bread
14 oz frozen spinach leaves, thawed
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
2 Tbsp marjoram, fresh [use half if dried]
2 tsp. mustard powder
14 oz. ground veal 3 Tbsp Greek yogurt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg, ground [freshly grated if possible]
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbsp butter
2 medium onions
8 cups chicken or vegetables broth
parsley to garnish
1) Dough Prep: In a stand mixer, place all-purpose flour in a bowl and make a well to put remaining ingredients in the center and combine with a fork. When it begins to clump together and forms a dough, fit a dough hook to the stand mixer. Allow to mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Cover with plastic and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes.
[If making pasta by hand, without a stand mixer, use a bowl and knead with hands for 10 minutes.]
2) Filling Prep: combine all filling ingredients while the dough is resting and set aside.
3) When pasta dough is ready to be rolled, roll to 1/8" [number 5 or 6 if using a pasta roller]. You should have a sheet about 12" by 18" if using 1/3 the dough at a time to roll. You can use a ravioli maker/mold to help with the next step, but I prefer a more rustic look and eye-balled measurements.
4) Score the dough lengthwise and five perpendicular cuts to make a dozen rectangles.
5) Place 1 1/2 Tbsp filling on each rectangle and fold the rectangle over and pinch the sides to close.
6) Repeat with remaining dough.
7) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Depending on the size of the pot, you'll want to work in batches of 6-8 maultaschen at a time. Put into boiling water and cook for 12 minutes or when the ravioli rises to the top. Use a slotted spoon to remove from water.
8) As the ravioli are cooking, heat the butter and sauté the onions until translucent, then add the chicken broth and keep warm.
9) When the maultaschen are cooked, simply put them into the broth.
10) To serve: place maultaschen in a bowl, ladle broth and onions, and top with chopped parsley.
I was recently in Sauk Rapids, my hometown, to visit my family. Most importantly, I was there to see my Grandma Martha. She's been an important food figure in my life; growing up I watched her do everything from gardening to baking to preserving. Having 11 children and a husband kept her busy in the kitchen, and everything she prepared was rich and bold in flavor. Working on a farm required many calories to sustain one's energy, and Grandma made sure everyone was nourished and got their fill. Some of my favorite homemade goodies were [and still are]:
sauerkraut, raspberry and strawberry jam, creamy cucumbers, date filled cookies, apple pie
Just like every other time I've visited, I was greeted with a table full of treats with Grandma and my two aunts offering up sweets and coffee, "What can I get you? You must eat something... Here, try this..."
My father and I had just finished our popcorn - our family's typical Sunday afternoon's snack/meal- prior to dropping by, so I wasn't hungry. But how could I ever resist her pickles? My aunts pulled out three different jars of pickles as they spoke about their gardens birthing an endless supply of cucumbers, and it didn't take long for them to see how enamored I was. They offered me a jar to take home, and convinced me to take a large bag of raw cucumbers as well.
So here, as a result, I bring you a recipe requiring these many cukes. With only ten days left of summer, and a few more hot days ahead: chilled cucumber & pear soup
cucumber pear soup
Makes 8 cups
3/8 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 scapes, thinly sliced (substitute 2 Tbsp onion)
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 pears, 1 small diced, 2 roughly chopped (ripe bosc preferably or anjou)
4 small to medium [8"] cukes, peeled; 1 small diced, 3 roughly chopped
2 cups yogurt
8 oz club soda
1 Tbsp. rice wine
1/4 cup red onion, minced
s & p, to taste
1. In a heated sauté pan, add 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil. When oil becomes hot, add breadcrumbs, scapes & garlic for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside for garnish.
2. In a blender, add 2 pears [with skin], 3 cucumbers, yogurt, & club soda. Blend until pureed completely while gradually adding remaining olive oil.
3. In a separate bowl, add 1 Tbsp. rice wine to red onion, diced cucumber & pear, and salt and pepper to taste.
4. For each bowl, serve a ladle of the cuke/pear puree and carefully spoon over the diced cuke/pear mix. Lastly, garnish with bread crumb sauté.
What to do with all your frozen rhubarb?
Answer: bread pudding!
One may wonder... bread pudding?? In summer?
MN has been unseasonably cool this time of year, especially at night. The slight chill in the air reminds me Autumn is coming, and that I should start dreaming up recipes to accompany the season. These past few nights of cool weather have me warmed up to the idea of spiced pudding.
And since my freezer is piled high with rhubarb, why not throw it into the mix?
Plus, I wanted to try something new and atypical for rhubarb; stray away from the classics like strawberry rhubarb pie. Trying a new preparation with rhubarb was my mission, and I never had it in bread pudding before.
--> then enters tonka
Mysterious, illegal and "avant-garde": Tonka beans have an aroma of vanilla, cherry, and almond with a brown/black wrinkly appearance and bitter taste. These seeds come from a tree native to Central America and South America and are high in coumarin. It is this compound, coumarin, that has the FDA up in a frenzy, calling it "adulterated" and sometime deadly. All foods that contain the chemical coumarin have been illegal in the Unites States since 1954. Reason? When coumarin is consumed in excess, it causes liver and kidney toxicity in animal models.
However, the amount one would need to consume is equivalent to 30 entire tonka beans before it comes life-threatening (about the same volume as which nutmeg and other everyday spices). Yet, the FDA continues to deem these beans illegal and still enforce this old law. Chefs like Grant Achatz have even been tracked down for using them. Enforcement is clearly imperfect, because one can go on-line and order for themselves.
outlaw bread pudding
1 batch mint creme anglaise* see recipe
28 oz hamburger buns, day old
1 lb loaf, seedy bread (poppy, sesame, whole grain)
2 Tbsp ginger, zested or minced
8 egg whites
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. cardamom, ground
4 cup rhubarb, diced, thawed
1. A day ahead, dry out the bread (buns and seedy bread) by breaking it into chunks and leaving it out at room temperature overnight. -make your creme anglaise this day to get ahead-
2. Whisk mint creme anglaise with ginger, whites, sugar and cardamom.
3. Pour mix over bread crumbs and allow to soak for 1-2 hours in the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350F
4. Fold rhubarb into soaked bread and put in a prepared (buttered) 9"x13" baking pan.
5. Bake for 70 minutes (or until browned and cooked thoroughly) at 350F
mint creme anglaise
prepares 1 quart
4 cups milk
4 tonka beans*
2/3 cup sugar
8 egg yolks
1 bunch mint
1. In a double boiler or sauce pan, scald milk with tonga beans.
2. Combine the sugar and yolks in a bowl and whip until thick and light.
3. Gradually pour the hot milk into the mixed yolk/sugar while stirring consistently.
4. Return to the stove in a double boiler or with direct heat in a pot. Heat and stir consistently until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, careful not to let it burn.
5. Immediately remove from heat and add mint. Cover and allow to steep for 2-3 hours. You can cool the custard down at the same time by putting it in an ice bath. Once cool enough, put in fridge and remove mint and tonka beans when desired.
*tonka beans: can be substituted for 1 vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
A previous market trip left me with lemon cukes, white beets, Hungarian hot wax peppers and an 8 ball zucchini to incorporate into my salade. Therefore, I made sure to include these ingredients along with a few of my new foods.
revivify me salade
1 cup firm tofu, diced
1 tsp sesame oil
3 tsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup white beet julienned*
1/8 cup red onion, small dice
1/2 Hungarian hot wax, thinly sliced (option to omit or substitute)
1 lime, juiced
1 cup cooked rice
4 cups lettuce
1/2 cup zucchini*, cubed
1/2 cup green beans, sliced
10 slices cucumber*
maldon or sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper
*Many substitutions can be made in this recipe, so free to use whatever you have on-hand.
-The white beets are exceptionally sweet and cuts through the Hungarian hot wax pepper quite nicely, but the red would really make this dish pop!
-I used 8 ball zucchini, but any variety will work.
-Lemon cucumbers can be difficult to find, unless it's summer in MN and you're at a outdoor market. Choose any variety if they aren't available; otherwise, do opt for the lemon for something fun and different.
1) In a saute pan, add the oil, and when hot, add the tofu. Brown each side for 1-2 min, add two teaspoons rice wine vinegar, cover with lid and set aside away from heat.
2) Mix the beets, onion, peppers, remaining rice wine vinegar, and lime juice (add the zest if you want more pizazz) in a bowl and set aside.
3) On two plates, arrange the salad beginning with the rice, then lettuce, zucchini, green beans, fanned cucumber, beet/pepper mix, and finally tofu. Add salt and pepper to taste.
As I walked into Kowalski's this morning, I approached the most beautiful heirloom tomato*. It was perched amongst all others on the entrance display and called my name. There wasn't a need to search for another. The firmness was perfect, begging to be eaten.
Deciding what to do with this luscious fruit came quite easily as I strolled through the store. I didn't want to mask the tomato or overcomplicate the dish, but I needed something to carry and compliment the flavor. Endive and fennel seemed like the perfect combo.
Rather than do something more traditional and unoriginal like adding a soft cheese, I went with a yogurt/berry side to fulfill my protein and probiotic needs. You can choose just about any flavour of yogurt. And if you're worried about not getting enough protein, make sure to go with Greek yogurt. It has nearly twice the amount of protein compared to plain, non-Greek style yogurt.
*If you want to look-up varieties of heirloom tomatoes, look here to see pictures and order seeds.
It was a well-balanced, satisfying fare, something I strive for with every meal. The duo of the tomato endive salade and yogurt parfait was delightful and refreshing. I particularly enjoyed alternating between bites of sweet and savory, and the toasted sesame seeds in the yogurt added a nice subtle crunch.
1/2 cup tomato, medium dice
1/4 cup fennel, small dice
1 tbsp fennel fronds (greens of fennel)
drizzle olive oil
s & p**
1/2 endive, leaves removed and washed
6 oz yogurt -lingonberry or orange/ginger preferably
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup blueberries
1 slice bread
1" cube honey-comb
Preparation: 1. In a small bowl, combine and mix tomato, fennel, fennel fronds, olive oil, salt and pepper, then arrange on a plate the endive. Spoon on the tomato, fennel mix over the endive.
2. In a serving cup/bowl, add yogurt and blueberry topped with sesame seeds. Set beside the endive, tomato salad.
3. Toast the bread and arrange with honeycomb on the plate.
Last week I was asked to prepare and instruct a cooking class/demo for a group of people just outside of Chicago. They wanted similar flavour profiles to their traditional Mexican fare, but also something new and exciting that wasn't intimidating. Other important aspects of this class were to include low sodium foods, lower fat foods (not to be confused with low fat -simply less animal and more plant based fats), and heavier on fresh produce to demonstrate healthy eating.
The objective was to engage the family in the kitchen and learn a new technique, food item, and/or nutrition information. Considering these requests, my mind immediately went to watermelon, ceviche and grilling. The rest of the menu unfolded itself once I couldn't shake the idea of these foods and cooking methods.
This week I'll focus on the anticucho sauce, but I will post the remaining recipes. Stay tuned!
20 oz chicken, bone-in
3 cups anticuchera sauce*
1. marinate chicken in anticuchera sauce for a minimum of 3 hours
2. remove chicken from sauce and grill for 40-50 minutes, basting as necessary
3. heat sauce and serve
Prepares 3 cups
1 cup pasilla pepper paste (~6 each)
1/3 cup garlic paste
2 tsp. black peppercorn, ground
1/2 tbsp. cumin, toasted and ground
1/2 tbsp. oregano
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
salt to taste
1. If making chili paste from scratch, begin here by throughly washing peppers. Cut in half and remove seeds and veins. Put chiles in a bowl, cover with water and let soak for 12 hours or overnight, changing water if time/schedule permits during soaking. Once soaked, drain chiles and put in a blender with 1/4 cup boiling water. Blend for 5 min -chili paste
2. If you are not making your own chili paste, start here. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Set aside for 3 hours or overnight to marinade.
Pasilla peppers are not the original pepper to this sauce, but to make it Mexican, I swapped out the Peruvian pepper for a mild, low heat pepper, pasilla. The word anticuchos means meat stew, originating in the Andes and is now a popular menu in Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chlie, which consists of meats cooked in a highly acidic, vinegar marinade often including dried peppers. Additionally, it is usually served on a skewer with a boiled potato or bread. Feel free to try the skewers vs my method; it's quicker if you're short on time and don't have 40-50 minutes to grill.
Still hungry? Check out other great eats like grilled radish or lotus root, carrot & daikon slaw.
Like many people, I don't always want to spend an evening cooking, but would rather be outside enjoying the weather -especially when it's summer in MN- And who wouldn't? Minnesotans battle the long, arduous winters, only to benefit from the amazing, short summer months. Many argue fall is better, and I'd have to agree, but cooking in autumn is much more pleasant.
I try to keep food prep to a minimum during these hot, sizzling days, and I often get inspired from fruits and veg on sale at the market. This salad is a product of such and was not planned. I threw together ingredients my mind felt melded well; no cooking/heating is required, simply chop and toss.
The complexity of taste may seem far reaching because the ingredients are clean and straightforward, but when paired together, they play a harmonious symphony in your mouth. It ranges from sweet corn and peach at first bite to a more hearty black bean, massaged kale and bright parsley finish.
One of the key ingredients in this dish is the freshly shucked corn. It's imperative that the corn is harvested < 48 hours before consuming. Otherwise you'll lose out on the juicy, corn milk, which is unknown to most. It wasn't until I was well into my 20's when I learned about the depths of corn. I was a farmhand at Riverbend in Delano, MN when another worker told me to bite into an ear of corn. The flavour was/is incredible, and every time I think of corn, I reminisce of the silky, milk sensation that bursts with every bite of kernel. It's what I look forward to every summer.
4 lacinato/dinosaur kale leaves, shredded
rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup black beans, drained and rinsed*
1 ear of corn, fresh (<48 hours from harvest preferred), kernels removed
1 scallion, thinly sliced on a bias
parsley, roughly chopped
1 oz. Asiago cheese, grated
1/2 nectarine, sliced
s & p**
1. in a bowl, massage kale with a small drizzle of olive oil and rice wine vinegar; allow to sit while you prep the rest.
2. mix together corn, beans, scallion, parsley and cheese in a bowl
3. toss kale and mix of corn/beans
4. fan the nectarine slices and sprinkle salt and pepper taste
*it's summer, use canned; but by all means, if you're a purist, then cook those bad boys from uncooked, dried.
** salt and pepper, to taste
What I enjoy most about food is that it is a profoundly social urge. Food is an occasion for sharing, communicating with each other to brush up on each others lives, and giving. It's the reason why I am always asking friends to visit over dinner. Sharing my creations and socializing is extremely important, so when I had a free evening in St.Paul last Friday, I rang up my bestie, Justa. Only this time, she invited me to prepare a meal together with her family and eat it at UFF, the Urban Flower Field, in St.Paul.
But before I go into detail about our collaborative dinner, I'd like to first explain a bit about BrightSide produce and UFF. If you don't know anything about BrightSide, I'd encourage you to look at their website and visit their farm stands in Minneapolis.
However, to be brief, BrightSide has been delivering produce for nearly 3 years, and started as a collaborative effort. The faculty at the University of St. Thomas, community of Minneapolis, and the Health Department came together to address food insecurity in underserved neighborhoods and create a solution. According to Map the Meal Gap* 2012 data, food insecurity in MN ranges from 7-14% with an overall of 11% in MN. Organizing and implementing BrightSide, as well as UFF, is a result of such efforts to combat indications of food-access problems or limitations.
But who better to explain, than the students themselves?
They have a whomping 16 locations throughout Minneapolis who serve & sell their produce. It doesn't stop there either; recently, they started popping up in San Diego as well with 6 locations.
Adam Kay, Justa's husband, is a biology associate professor at St. Thomas and has been working tirelessly with BrightSide to address the Staples Food Ordinance. The ordinance requires grocery stores to maintain certain levels of quality produce available for purchase at all times. In 2016, Minneapolis increased it's requirements making it harder for people to get access to produce. Kay solution: rent out space in corner stores to sell BrightSide produce using the Biology Departments vehicle. Read the complete story here.
"The fuel for BrightSide’s success is our relationships. Young people from north Minneapolis work closely with St. Thomas students and faculty to make the whole operation work. They aim to use the central importance of healthy eating to bring rich and poor communities together in common purpose."
Adam's efforts doesn't stop there. He is also a key player in helping develop UFF, the Urban Flower Field, an 'intersection of art, science, a community and a civic process.' It's such a welcoming, peaceful space in downtown St. Paul, and I just love the fact that is was a vacant lot previously. Now, it's a place for community, relaxation, laughter and beauty.
Whew, now that I've done some explaining on the food -BrightSide produce- and location -UFF- I'd like to speak about the picnic. Together, Justa and I split the cooking duties to prepare gyros while Matilda, Justa's daughter, pretended to make soup -adorbs-
Justa was responsible for making the sauce and couscous while I, the elk steak and veggie accoutrements. Therefore, I've only included the recipe with which I contributed, and if you really want the couscous side, you'll need to ask Justa.
Once we finished all the components of the gyros, we packed up the car and drove to UFF. It was ultimately a lovely night, and I was finally able to relax and enjoy a meal with Adam, Justa, Matilda, and Cupcake -Matilda's name for her unborn baby brother- ...for cute.
8 oz elk steak
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tbsp dried rosemary
1/2 tbsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp coriander, ground
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
pinch paprika, smoked
s & p**
1 cup tzatziki sauce (click here to see another version of yogurt sauce)
1. Mix together in a small bowl rosemary, thyme, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper to taste -this is your rub-
2. Apply rub to elk steak, coating completely
3. Heat oil in a skillet (you can also do this on the grill) and quickly sear the elk on all sides. Reduce the heat to low and allow the meat to cook slowly until desired doneness. (medium rare = 133-135F, medium = 140-145F). You can cut into the meat to check, but know that all those flavourful juices will escape -try to resist-
4. Allow to rest 5-10 minutes before slicing into strips
Gyros are typically wrapped with flatbread and contain sliced tomatoes, onions, and tzatziki sauce to accompany the meat. There's no right or wrong way to assemble, as one may have seen from the slideshow of pictures, but I like to mix/match flavours and keep things separate/unwrapped.
*Feeding America first published the Map the Meal Gap project in early 2011, with the generous support of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and The Nielsen Company, to learn more about the face of hunger at the local level. In August, 2011, with the support of the ConAgra Foods Foundation, child food insecurity data was added to the project. Gundersen, C., E. Engelhard, A. Satoh, & E. Waxman. Map the Meal Gap 2014: Food Insecurity Estimates at the County Level. Feeding America, 2014.
**salt and pepper
Who says you can't have something fancy in the morning before work? This recipe is quick (<10 min prep), flavorful and healthy, which is exactly what you need to jumpstart your day. The blueberries provide antioxidants that protect the body from oxidative stress and reduce inflammation. As an added bonus, they also improve memory and motor function, making it the perfect way to wake-up your brain after a goodnights sleep.
People often ask me how to incorporate more vegetables into their day, especially breakfast. This is the other amazing thing about this breakfast, because it does just that. Cucumbers and kohlrabi are bright satiating flavors when combined in the dish; they pair beautifully with the blueberries and cut through the rich omega-3 fat from the silky, luscious avocado. Who wouldn't want this on a hot summer day?
1/4 cup kohlrabi, julienne sliced
1/4 lime, juice plus zest
1/3 avocado, mashed
1 piece bread, toasted
12 cucumber, thinly sliced
s & p
1. in a bowl, combine kohlrabi, lime juice, and blueberries with black pepper -mix
2. cut toast on a bias and apply mashed avocado -top with kohlrabi & blueberry
3. fan cucumbers on a plate, stack avocado toast, sprinkle lime zest and sprinkle s & p to taste
There you have it. Quick and easy Tuesday morning toast.
s & p = salt and pepper
The new moon is upon us, and so is H20 melon, our juiciest favorite fruit of them all. I've been thinking a lot about watermelon these days: in salads, frozen fruit pops, as a snack on it's own, and as the humbled pickle.
Initially I thought I'd write about a fun salad I developed for a food event I'm teaching in August, but then recently I was at a friend's house where I tasted the neighbor's pickled watermelon rind. It reminded me I didn't have any on-hand; I was due to pickle! What I love about this recipe is that it utilizes the waste of melon. Typically one would discard the rind, unaware of it's use or potential. And I did the same years previous, but that was until I read about it in a preservation cookbook 7 years ago. When my pantry becomes bare, I wait until summer to make more.
Once pickled, it's best enjoyed as a salad topping, in a cocktail -kimchi martini, I may add- or as an accoutrement for a charcuterie/cheese platter. All these ideas make pickling rind so much more enticing, don't you think?
This recipe can be processed in a hot-water bath, and is included in step 3. However, you could stop at step 2 and share with friends.
You can also adjust the spices/flavours by adding/deleting ingredients. I went a more non-traditional route this time and used preserved lime. It's also really good with lemon, ginger and cinnamon. The sky is the limit with this one. You don't want to add ingredients that cause unfavorable fermentations and affect the pH like that of fresh herbs, use dried instead. Some recipes do call for fresh herbs, but those have been adjusted to accommodate the change of pH. Use reputable sources for pickling when preserving, but if you're planning on refrigerating and eating within two weeks, you don't have to worry.
PICKLED WATERMELON RIND -the humbled pickle-
makes 3 quarts
2 lbs peeled watermelon rind, cubed (about 1 small melon)
48 oz. water
3.25 oz. kosher salt
1 lb sugar
12 oz. apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 preserved limes, julienne slices
2 tsp black peppercorn
6 dried chili's
(I like to weigh ingredients when it comes to pickling; it's more precise than measuring)
1. In large bowl, combine diced rind, water and salt. Allow to stand for 4 hours, then drain and rinse. Transfer the rind to a pot and cover with 1" water. Bring to a boil, decrease to a simmer, and cook until tender/translucent, about 20 minutes. Drain.
2. In a pot over medium-high heat, simmer sugar, vinegar, lime, black peppercorn, and chili's. Once the sugar has dissolved, pour over watermelon rind, cover, and refrigerate for 24 hours or up to 2 weeks.
3. If you're keen on preserving/canning, here's what you do next: skip refrigeration and strain the brine, reserving the rind and spices. In a hot water bath, boil the jars in a fitted rack for 10 minutes -you'll use this same pot to process the jars. Just before filling, put the jars on the counter and divide the rind, chili's and spice among the jars (roughly six, 6-8 oz jars for this recipe). Soak the lids in hot water to soften the seal.
4. Transfer the brine to the jars by carefully pouring over the rind, leaving a 1/2" space from jar's rim. Check the jars for air pocket. I use a chopstick and stir around the contents to rid the jar of air. Add more brine if needed. Wipe the rims with a clean towel to ensure a clean seal, then screw on bands until snug but not tight.
5. Process jars by placing them in the pot with a rack, making sure enough water covers the top of the jars by 1". Bring water to a boil and process 15 minutes. You'll want to start the timer when the water reaches a boil. Turn off the heat and remove the jars. Allow to cool completely, label and store in a cool, dry place.
Sadly, I had one casualty ... one jar didn't make it
you win some, you lose some
Final note: This week I'll be sending another newsletter, so be sure you're signed up
Preparing food for my extended family has always been a challenge. I'm faced with many picky, meat/potato eaters who don't like many vegetables or foods with 'interesting' flavours. If I want to sneak in veggies or introduce them to a new ingredient, I know I need to be clever or make it similar to foods they typically eat.
This past fourth of July holiday was no different. I knew that if I made something for the family, it couldn't be too bold, had to be approachable, and that I'd need to find out if there were any foods of absolute dislike.
My brother was planning to make brisket in the Green Egg (see below pic) and he was craving a black bean salad to accompany the beef. In the interest of my brothers hankering, I thought why not; it'd be easy to assemble at the lake for a large group of people.
Being over zealous about my salad, I purchased too many vegetables and unknowingly included ingredients the family detested, tomatoes and radish. Remembering my audience, I omitted the unfavorable ingredients and starting prepping. The radish and tomatoes would be better eaten while boating on the lake anyway -healthy treat for me-
Family Conclusion: they absolutely loved it! The salad was versatile and was best enjoyed over a bed of greens -per the ladies of the north- and as a topping to the beef -per the gents-
Many said they were keen to try making it at home, BONUS.
This brought me such joy, knowing I was able to nourish my family with something they truly enjoyed eating.
spicy black bean salad
1 tbsp olive oil
1 poblano, small diced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 red bell pepper, small diced
1 yellow bell pepper, small diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp sriracha or hot sauce (optional)
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 medium red onion, small dice
2- 15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 corn cobs, cleaned corn (see pic for a visual of a simple technique)
2 limes, freshly squeezed juice
1 small bunch cilantro, cleaned and chopped
1/2 cup Cotija cheese (optional garnish)
s & p*
1. In a sauté pan, heat olive oil and add poblano, jalapeño, bell peppers, garlic, hot sauce, cumin and coriander. Cook for 5-7 minutes and allow to cool while prepping the rest.
2. In a large bowl, combine red onion, black beans, corn, lime juice, and cilantro.
3. Mix all ingredients together and allow to marinate for at least 30-60 minutes.
4. Add garnish and serve.
Recipe: to make this recipe even quicker with less clean-up, don't bother to sauté the garlic and peppers. I knew my family wouldn't like the raw garlicky flavor, so I opted to cook out some of the bitterness.
Cotija cheese is a semi-hard, cow's milk cheese originating from Mexico.
s & p = salt and pepper
If you're interested in learning about bean/legume nutrition with cook times for each variety, click here. Simply scroll down to Beans and Pulses.
These past couple days, I've been spending time with my dear granny Urbanski -Dots they call her- Listening to stories about bootlegging, farm days, work at the deli, memories of her family... Grandma's eyes would sparkle every time she mentioned her husband Donald. It's obvious she loved -still loves- him. Sadly, I did not have the pleasure of knowing, nor meeting, my grandpa. He sounded like an amazing person.
Together, Dots and I looked through old recipes. When I asked her about grandpa's favorite's she said bread and sour cream pie. Her children would say fanny farmer fudge, molasses cookies or Regenia's Schepu chocolate cake. Looking through her recipes, it was apparent that desserts dominated above all else. Savory foods were less often documented, with the exception of hot dish and Polish classics like dumplings.
Rather than recreate or modify recipes from my grandmother; I've decided to post the originals, stains and all! Sorry if they are illegible, but I didn't want to take away from the history and love that clearly went into creating these desserts.
You will also notice names associated with some of the recipes. They are people within the community of Glendorado Church in Minnesota who developed the recipes. Those that are not labeled are Grandma Dots.
It was difficult to select recipes with such a large selection to choose from. You'll need to stay tuned to future blog posts on other classics from my family's past, except next time I'll be sure to attempt the recipe!
Wife: "More accidents happen in the kitchen than anywhere else"
Husband: "Yes, dear, and the worst of it is, we men have to eat them"
Take 1 large filed, half dozen children, 2 or 3 small dogs, a pinch of book and some pebbles. Mix the children and dogs well together; ....put them on a field, stirring constantly. Pour the brook over the pebbles... sprinkle the filed with flowers.....spread over all a deep blue sky and bake in the sun. When brown, set away to cool in the bath tub.
Subjectively, I love radishes, and why not? They come in so many varieties, are quite versatile and can be enjoyed at all meals...if given the chance. When I was a child, I usually picked around them on veggie platters because I thought carrots were sweeter and above all else tastier. But as I've grown, I realized I didn't give them much of a chance. No one in traditional Midwest cookery (MN country living) prepared recipes with radish. Instead, they were, and still are, typically eaten raw with ranch dip.
-Yes, you know what I'm talking about-
It wasn't until I moved out of my hometown & into a more diverse city, Minneapolis, when my appreciation and taste for radish developed. They began appearing in salads, thinly sliced, used as a garnish for fish, and were beautifully orchestrated in slaws.
Quickly, I discovered the versatility from working in restaurants throughout MN, IL and France and while traveling/eating in Asia, Australia, Europe, New Zealand, and South America. Many varieties include, but are not limited to, watermelon, white icicle, French Breakfast, easter egg, daikon, & black Spanish. What you typically find in bodegas or on veggie platters in the states are called cherry belle's. They all have different notes of flavor, but typically exhibit a horseradish-like-bite and crunch. Each differ in pungency, spice and sweetness. Nowadays, you may even find some of the more obscure varieties mentioned in your local co-op or farmer's market. Most are available year-round and are high in fiber, vitamin C, potassium, Fe, and folic acid.
Here are pictures I pulled from the world wide web to give a visual look at the plethora of radish varieties, something I bet you are missing out on...
Image on left is from Specialty Produce and the remaining are Dorling Kindersley Limited photos
Images are from Specialty Produce
This is a super quickie; by the time you finish grilling the radishes, you'll have the dip complete. The best part is you could make this recipe with just about any root vegetable (or variety of radish) and/or alternate herbs in the dip for vastly different flavor profiles. Even the lemon could be swapped out for lime, orange, grapefruit, tangelo...so many options!
grilled radish & yogurt
-my version of a veggie platter with radish-
1 bunch radish, cleaned and sliced in half (I used French breakfast here)
1 tsp olive oil
s & p to taste
1 1/2 cups greek yogurt
2 tbsp. garlic chives (flowers included, if possible), chopped
zest & jus from 1 lemon
1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1. heat grill to medium low
2. toss radish with olive oil, s & p and grill for a few minutes on each side until tender -or- to your desire (I like some to be crispy)
3. meanwhile, mix your dip ingredients in a bowl until well combined
4. serve & eat when radish are cooked
s & p* salt and pepper
This is a great appetizer or side and can be eaten warm or at room temperature.
-Another idea! Grill the radish and mix with grains, greens or have as a side with lamb, chicken or fish.
......so what do you say? will you give radish a chance
This past weekend was absolutely beautiful in Duluth; the sun has never felt so good! With that said, I didn't want to spend all my time in the kitchen slaving away over the stove. I wanted something without having to use a heating element for too long -rice noodles only need a few minutes to cook- that's also refreshing and light. After digging through my pantry and fridge, it came to me, shrimp noodle salad!
There are many ways to prepare this recipe with ease and little effort, such as using cooked, cleaned shrimp, pre-mixed salad greens, or using a salad dressing from your fridge. Except in this recipe, the vinaigrette is a sinch and doesn't require much effort.
Make sure to devein the shrimpy's if it has not been done. You might think, "Devein...what does that mean?" Well, the vein in question is actually the digestive tract of the shrimp, so you can image why you'd want to remove it. Simply take a pairing knife and run it along the backside of the shrimp in the center. You'll see the black vein (you may be able to see it in the image on the left) just beneath the surface. Pull the vein out and toss. The finished product looks like the one on the left. Much cleaner and tastier.
Recipe serves 2, easily can be doubled or multiplied
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
12 large-jumbo sized shrimp*
1/2 cup cucumbers, aka cukes, medium-diced
1/2 orange bell pepper, julienne cut (thin strips)
2 oz. rice noodles, cooked according to package
4 cups mixed greens, cut to bite-size
S & P to taste
2 tbsp. sesame oil
3 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. sesame seeds, toasted for more flavor
3 drops hot chili oil, or more
*Note: Shrimp come in a many non-standardized sizes, meaning what one store labels "large" might be labeled "jumbo" at another store. Therefore, it's best to go by count. If you read further, I've put together a chart on count/pound which may be more useful. A typical serving/meal is anywhere from 2-4 oz. Do the math to plan your meal if you want to get real precise.
1. Juice 1/2 lime and combine with half the cilantro and cooked, deveined shrimp. Allow to marinate for 15 minutes - 1 hour (if you're patient); however, you're welcome to skip the marinade for sake of time.
2. Combine all salad dressing ingredients in a jar with a closed lid & shake vigorously.
3. Slice remaining half of lime into wedges for garnish - extra squeeze of lime is always nice -
4. Toss cucumbers, bell pepper, noodles, greens and shrimp with vinaigrette; adjust seasoning with salt and pepper
General chart showing counts per pound, where the "U" means "under" or "less than"
chart is from cookingfishmonger.com
Looking through my posts, I realized I am missing a very important category, SWEETS! And even though I preach about whole foods and nutrition, I believe one should treat themselves. What I love to do is read through cookbooks, find interesting & delicious sounding recipes, and tweak them to be healthier. This doesn't always work, but more often than not, it does! With this recipe, I explored honey cake, traditionally eaten for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. Typically, it's made using only all-purpose flour and at least double the sugar. Below, you'll find my version made with rye flour and half the amount of sugar. There's no need to have so much sugar in this recipe since there's enough natural sweetness coming from the honey.
I enjoy eating this for breakfast with a soft-ripened cheese and fresh fruit to balance out the meal, but it makes for a great dessert. If an after dinner sweet is more your style, try serving it with a rose & cherry preserve or have it with orange marmalade and yoghurt dollop. And if you need something creamier and rich, have with vanilla ice cream.
makes 2 loaves
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rye flour
2 tsp. rounded baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs lightly beaten
2/3 cup honey
6 tbsp safflower oil
1 1/4 cup coffee, brewed [i prefer french press] & cooled
1/2 tsp vanilla
Preparation: preheat oven to 350F
1. mix all-purpose and rye flour with baking soda & cardamom in a small bowl
2. in another mixing bowl of a stand mixer [or one suitable for a hand mixer] whisk together sugar, salt, eggs, honey, oil, coffee, and vanilla.
3. gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until thoroughly combined
4. divide evenly and pour into two prepared, buttered 9" x 5" loaf pans
5. bake for 50-60 minutes until the tops are golden and a toothpick poked into the center of the layer comes out clean