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.
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.
Still hungry? Check out other unique recipes like the Brazilian fish stew or the miso curly soup.
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.
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
(side, serves 6-8)
4 cups black beans, cooked
2 burdock roots, cleaned, peeled, diced 1/4" coins
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, small dice
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a 4 qt pot, bring water to boil with the burdock root and a pinch of salt. Once to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook 15 minutes, until tender. Drain off liquid and set aside.
2. Return the quart pot to the burner, add oil and saute onion until translucent. Add burdock root, beans and adjust seasonings.
1 cup lotus cut into thin wedges
1/2 carrot, shredded
1 small daikon, shaved ~1 cup loosely packed
1/2 cup cilantro, cleaned
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari (optional)
1/2 each lime, freshly squeezed
2 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a mixing bowl, combine lotus root, carrot, daikon, & cilantro.
2. Drizzle sesame, soy sauce, lime, and olive oil over the mix and toss until well-combined. Adjust seasoning with salt & pepper to taste.
-I like to put this on fish tacos and burgers for an extra crunch.
Last night I had a brilliant idea to write about mushrooms, which included a story on one of my go-to meals while living in St. Paul as a student at Le Cordon Bleu. At the time, I was eating a lovely salad with a side of cooked lentils when my mind switched gears and pondered the idea of writing a piece on pulses, lentils specifically. But the next morning, when I woke up to write, I opened my e-mail to find a message from a friend asking about fiddlehead nutrition. The week before I had done research on fiddleheads, so they were on my mind, but I was also frustrated over how little, reliable information was available. Rather than waver between mushrooms or lentils, I decided ...why not fiddleheads!?!
Fiddleheads in the northern region of the U.S. are of the Ostrich Fern variety, but there are many others available throughout the world, including parts of Asia, Africa and Europe. This year, the first of the ferns I ate were purchased at my local farmers market, but I soon realized how copious they were nearby and throughout northern MN. Originally, my intentions while foraging, were to hunt for morel mushrooms, but I still haven't found a single shroom. Instead, I have been finding these lovely ferns grow wild from Duluth to Jenkins to Waukenabo, MN. They are super easy to find this time of year, and foraging is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, so get outside today and look!
Nutritionally speaking, the research on fiddleheads is sparse. Some websites postulate, "high in Omega-3 and 6," while others say, "high in iron and fibre," or that they have lots of antioxidants. After a bit of digging, I did find a couple reputable sources to confirm the nutritional profile. Importantly, one must pay attention to the preparation when assessing the nutritional makeup, since cooking denatures proteins, which alters nutrient composition. For example, when fiddleheads are frozen, the amount of protein, vitamin A, calcium, magnesium and potassium decreases when compared to it's raw form. See below for nutritional profile from the USDA, SelfNutritionData website on raw fiddleheads.
When frozen, boiled, then drained..... (this information from the Canadian Nutrient File)
the nutritional profile slightly changes.
One resource reported that many ferns contain an enzyme, which breaks downs thiamine (another important vitamin). It can eventually lead to beriberi if consumed in extreme excess. As is the case with most foods, LESS is more. Eat in moderation.
When cooking Ostrich Ferns, be sure to boil for at least 10 minutes so you do not get sick. Naturally, they are toxic, so be sure to boil before you saute.
2. bring a pot of water to a boil, add the cleaned ferns and boil for 10 minutes
3. drain off the water
4. heat a pan with olive oil; add garlic, fiddleheads and a pinch of salt and cook for 2-3 minutes
Serving Suggestions: I like to add these to lentils, sausage, eggs or on toasted bread with cheese. They are packed with flavor and are ohhhh so delicious. I simply cannot get enough - at least until the end of the month when the season ends - Look below to see how I've enjoyed them.
How it works: Due to peanut oils high amount of monounsaturated (good) fat, and low amount of saturated (bad) fat, it is believed to prevent heart disease. However, studies show it also clogs arteries, and, would instead, increase the risk.
Allergies: Peanut oil can cause serious allergic reactions to those who are allergic to peanuts, soybeans and other members of the Fabaceae plant family. Be sure consult with your allergist/physician before consuming if you suspect an allergy or are allergic to other plants within the same family. In the US, refined peanut oil is exempt from allergen labeling laws. See new guidelines on peanut allergy prevention following the recipe to learn more.
-Information from Natural Medicine Database
Peanut versatility as Food:
The possibilities are endless, truly. Peanut oil is often used in cooking because of it's high smoke point and high resistance to rancidity. Many different cultures incorporate peanuts into their cuisine from soups and sauces to desserts and snacks: Latin America, Middle East, Southeast Asia, South Asia, West Africa, East Africa and North America. I encourage you to explore dishes like boiled peanuts from China or maafe (meat stew) from Malian in West Africa.
Peanut Sauce Recipe
Makes 1 quart sauce
2" by 2" knob ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups peanut butter
2 1/2 cups water
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 whole serrano, minced with seeds
3 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp smoked hot paprika
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
Preparation: Put all ingredients into a 2-quart sauce pan and heat. Mix until thoroughly combined and allow to simmer for at least 15 minutes on the stove-top.
Uses: as a sauce for Spring rolls, stir-fry's, raw veggies, and more! This recipe is extremely versatile, so get creative with it!
New Guidelines for the Prevention of Peanut Allergy: The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases-Sponsored Expert Panel published it's new results in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (amongst other journals). Three new guidelines are outlined below and is based on clinical features reflecting the risk of having or developing peanut allergy and provide recommendations accordingly.
"Guideline #1 recommends that the highest risk infants — those with severe eczema and/or egg allergy (see definitions below) — be introduced to peanut as early as 4-6 months of age, following successful feeding of other solid food(s) to ensure the infant is developmentally ready.Allergy testing is strongly advised prior to peanut introduction for this group. The preferred test is the SPT, but the guideline also allows for blood testing for peanut-specific IgE (sIgE), which is more widely available (see figure, right-click to enlarge). Allergy tests for multiple foods are not recommended because of their poor positive predictive value.
The guideline also recommends home or physician-supervised feeding or exclusion of peanut based on the test results. If a blood test is used to screen and is positive to peanut (sIgE ≥ 0.35 kUA/L), referral to a specialist with training and experience to perform and interpret the peanut SPT and to safely perform medically supervised feeding tests is advised. The guideline discusses the manner of peanut introduction according to the test results, whether at home or under physician supervision.
Additionally, the amount to feed weekly is discussed. Based on what was done in the LEAP study, 6-7 grams of peanut protein is given over three or more feedings per week. The LEAP study had infants eat this amount to age 5 years. In studies following up on the LEAP trial, this approach resulted in durable protection, was safe, did not affect duration or frequency of breastfeeding, and did not influence growth or nutrition.
Guideline #2 suggests that infants with mild to moderate eczema, a group also at increased risk of peanut allergy, should be introduced to peanut “around 6 months of age, in accordance with family preferences and cultural practices, to reduce the risk of peanut allergy.” These infants may have peanut introduced at home following successful ingestion of other solid food(s) without an in-office evaluation, although an evaluation can be considered.
Guideline #3 addresses infants without eczema or food allergy who are not at increased risk, suggesting that peanut be introduced “freely” into the diet together with other solid foods and in accordance with family preferences and cultural practices.
Purposeful early feeding of peanut is a reversal from the 2000 AAP recommendations that suggested high-risk infants avoid peanut to age 3 years. The avoidance advice was rescinded in the 2008 AAP clinical report Effects of Early Nutritional Interventions on the Development of Atopic Disease in Infants and Children: The Role of Maternal Dietary Restriction, Breastfeeding, Timing of Introduction of Complementary Foods, and Hydrolyzed Formulas (Pediatrics. 2008;121:183-191; http://bit.ly/2hDuw1f), which concluded: “Although solid foods should not be introduced before 4 to 6 months of age, there is no current convincing evidence that delaying their introduction beyond this period has a significant protective effect ...”
The new guidelines go further by promoting early ingestion for the highest risk infants. Evaluation and peanut introduction for this highest risk group at 4-6 months is conveniently timed with routine pediatric health care office visits, allowing for identification of infants at risk and discussion of the approach. Additionally, it is less likely for younger infants to have positive allergy tests to peanut. However, the guideline emphasizes that if the 4- to 6-month time period is missed for any reason, peanut should be introduced to infants older than 6 months as they also are anticipated to benefit (the LEAP study included infants 4 up to 11 months of age).
The addendum guidelines represent an update to the 2010 comprehensive food allergy guidelines published by a National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)-sponsored expert panel (http://bit.ly/2gTLoSF). They reflect the work of a coordinating committee and expert panel representing 26 professional organizations, including the Academy, advocacy groups and federal agencies, which evaluated a literature review prepared by the NIAID.
Definitions in the addendum guidelines
Severe eczema is defined as persistent or frequently recurring eczema with typical morphology and distribution, assessed as severe by a health care provider and requiring frequent need for prescription-strength topical corticosteroids, calcineurin inhibitors or other anti-inflammatory agents despite appropriate use of emollients.
Egg allergy is defined as a history of an allergic reaction to egg and a skin prick test wheal diameter of ≥3 millimeters with egg white extract or a positive oral egg food challenge.
Dr. Sicherer represented the Academy on the guideline coordinating committee and was a member of the expert panel. He is past chair of the AAP Section on Allergy and Immunology Executive Committee."
Copyright © 2017 American Academy of Pediatrics
While living in Chicago, I was part of a cookbook club at Read it and Eat on the first Tuesday of each month. Together, our group voted on a cookbook for the month, then we signed up for a recipe to prepare for the group from the book. Truly, it was something I looked forward to every month. I met amazing people, shared stories, tried new recipes, & talked about we tasted/enjoyed/would have done differently with the recipe.
The recipe which follows is a spin off from Sprouted Kitchen's Quinoa Collard Wraps. Since collard greens were not available, I chose Napa cabbage instead. After talking with people, I've realized many people are uneasy about substituting ingredients. Either because they don't know what ingredients would be make good replacers or simply because they do not feel comfortable. Often people will prepare something else and not consider what they could use instead. As you cook more often and branch out in your diet, you'll find similarities amongst many foods. What's the worst that could happen? You can learn from your mistakes and try something else next time. Remember to have fun with your food and think outside the box.
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