Monday, June 28, 2010

Lemon caraway smoked trout on toast, with egg

While Jess is visiting her family in Austin, I'm tasked with a single-serving objective for tonight's dish. Smoked trout was destined to play a part, and with a full smoked fillet for a single-portion dish, it had to be the main part. It was simple to just mix with some dijon mustard, caraway seed, lemon juice and roasted red peppers. I threw a fried egg on top, and I felt like I had made away with the prize from some sort of Republican fundraiser dinner party buffet. Recipe here.
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Cabbage Tostadas - June 30, 2010

Cabbage and Black Bean Tostadas with Feta

Tostadas are a lot of fun. We have some corn tortillas in the freezer and I pulled a couple out to fry up for this meal. The topping is a salad of cabbage, black beans, cilantro and radishes mixed with cumin, white vinegar, and salt and pepper. To top the topping, we added pickled onions and crumbled feta. It was quite fresh and flavorful and made for a delightful dinner.
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Corn and Black Bean Salad - June 29, 2010

Corn and Black Bean Salad

Nick and I tag-teamed this salad the other night. He found the recipe and got started before realizing he had a narrow window in which to get the lawn mowed. I put the finishing touches on while he completed yard work. Additions and substitutions include cliantro, roasted piquillo peppers instead of fresh, white onion instead of red, and a splash of white vinegar to pull everything together. Nothing says summer like a corn and black bean salad.
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Weekend Morsels - June 26 -27, 2010

Weekend Highlights

Kate's visiting from Portland, and so the weekend involved visiting (and eating) at some favorite local haunts. Highlights include the shredded pork tacos from the Chef Shack; Iconic Minneapolis buildings; Veggie sandwich from YUM; Bacon beer brat from the Chef Shack; Arugula pizza from YUM; and iconic Minneapolis bridges.
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Friday, June 25, 2010

Strawberry Almond Tart - June 25, 2010

Strawberry Almond Tart with Tarragon Glaze

Are you sick of strawberries yet? We're still enjoying them very much, as evidenced by this week's dessert. I made a whole wheat pastry crust and baked it in the tart pan. Next, when cooled, I spread some rustic, home-made marzipan (almonds and honey pureed to a paste) in the bottom. This was an effort to prevent crust of my all time pet peeves. The sliced strawberries went on next. And to finish off I mixed some of my preserved strawberry sauce (a.k.a. jam that failed to set) with some fresh tarragon and drizzled over top. Yum is an understatement. Some of you may be aware that I am not a pie person due to the aforementioned aversion to soggy crusts and a general dislike of baked fruit. Both problems were solved with this delightful treat. Happy weekend to all.
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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Napa Cabbage Salad - June 24, 2010

Napa Cabbage Salad...

...a perfect dish for one of those hot nights where turning on the oven makes you want to wilt. I found the recipe on the Food & Wine site. Of course, I switched it up a little bit and made my own take on the dressing. My version contained 2 Tbsp peanut oil; 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil; 1 1/2 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar; 1/2 Tbsp mirin; and 1 Tbsp sugar. Otherwise I stuck to the ingredient list. To avoid the stove completely, I toasted the almonds in my toaster oven, which is a handy little trick for hot nights, or when the oven/stove is being used for other things.
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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bulgar, Garbanzo, and Spinach Salad - June 23, 2010

Bulgar, Garbanzo, and Spinach Salad with Smoked Paprika Dressing

Flipping through our latest Bon Appetit issue (July, 2010), I found this recipe. The smoked Spanish paprika dressing sounded so interesting. I had to make a few changes, including substituting bulgar for the quinoa called for (we were out of quinoa); substituting kohlrabi for cucumber; using cilantro instead of mint; and omitting the tomatoes and feta. And, since we didn't have any sherry vinegar, I substituted white wine vinegar with a splash of sherry in the dressing. Seriously, sometimes what I end up with is almost unrecognizable from the original recipe. For fun, we topped with some of the pickled onions leftover from our beet dinner the night before. It was really good, although I was wishing we hadn't been out of quinoa, as the bulgar was just a little heavy. The dressing is a lot of fun and could be used in many different salads, like this one, for example.
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Beets and Their Greens with Tapanade - June 22, 2010

Golden Beets and Their Greens with Pine Nut, Olive and Oregano Pesto

This was delicious! It absolutely burst with flavor. The recipe is from Deborah Madison, found in the beet section of Asparagus to Zucchini. It caught my eye because it utilized both the roots and greens in complete efficiency. I had to modify the sauce, which is essentially a glorified pesto. Based on availability, I substituted fresh oregano for the marjoram called for. The capers I also omitted and added extra kalamata olives in their place. You could easily use any favorite pesto recipe, or for that matter olive tapanade, for the sauce to this dish. The onions, briefly 'pickled' in some white wine vinegar added tons of bright flavor. In fact, I think that's what made this meal stand out so much...the bright tartness of the vinegar (there's also some in the pesto) in contrast to the earthy sweetness of the beets. Yum. I can't wait until we get more beets in our CSA box.
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Monday, June 21, 2010

Smoked Trout Salad on Blanched Kohlrabi - June 21, 2010

Smoked Trout Salad on Blanched Kohlrabi Slices

This is a version of our beloved trout salad. Instead of sunchokes, this time I used chopped kohlrabi mixed in with the trout and yogurt. I sliced one of our kohlrabi bulbs and blanched the slices quickly on recommendation from Asparagus to Zucchini. Next time, I think I will just leave them raw, as I'm a big fan of their crunch. Plus, that makes a simple meal even simpler. We ate a little lettuce on the side as well, which made me think this would make a great sandwich combination.
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Friday, June 18, 2010

Strawberry Cream Puffs - June 18, 2010

Strawberry Cream Puffs (Open-Faced to Show Off the Berries)

We received three pints of the most delicious strawberries I think I have ever had from Harmony Valley yesterday. I'm not sure if these are Earliglow or Darselect varieties, or a mixture of both, but they are tiny and so so sweet. These are very different from the berries I picked last week, which were quite a bit larger with a much subtler flavor. This recipe is from the latest issue of Food & Wine magazine and I thought it would be perfect. It's the first time I've ever made cream puffs from scratch and they came together surprisingly well (lord knows I'm no pastry chef). I can't say if this is true of all cream puff recipes, but this one was quite easy and not particularly time consuming. The vanilla cream was a little more labor intensive and didn't turn out quite as well as I'd hoped, but it was still very edible. Next time I might use a creme fraiche or even ricotta in it's stead. The stars of the show, however, were the strawberries. Mixed with some fresh, chopped tarragon (substitute as you'd like, basil, lavender...if you don't like tarragon) and turbinado sugar, I could have eaten these simply on their own for dessert. The recipe also called for a strawberry glaze, which I omitted, but would definitely help the dish if your strawberries are a little flat in the flavor department.
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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Veggie Update - June 17, 2010

Newest Veggie (and Fruit!) Delivery

I just went to pick up our CSA delivery this afternoon and have been busy researching what I want to do with it all. It's a good rule of thumb to have a plan, I have found. Harmony Valley's newsletter is always my first source for inspiration, followed immediately by Asparagus to Zucchini, and then I turn to the internet.

This week brings us golden beets (yay!); Napa cabbage; kohlrabi; sugar snap peas; scallions; spinach; assorted lettuces; broccoli; 3 pints of strawberries (!!); and something called Red Komatsuna, aka 'spinach mustard,' which Amy at Green Your Plate has already researched for me (complete with recipe links, bless her heart). Tonight I want to tackle the beets and their greens, and found a good-looking recipe in A to Z via Deborah Madison. Also in A to Z were some fun ideas for kohlrabi involving smoked fish, which is a shoe-in at our house. I still need to find something tasty to do with the Napa cabbage. You will see the strawberries tomorrow. Everything else I have deemed to be the food equivalent of 'accessories,' and will be used to dress up meals throughout the next two weeks.

As always, a heartfelt 'thank you' to Harmony Valley Farm for supplying us with such beautiful bounty each fortnight (a word I like quite a bit and find very useful when describing two week intervals).
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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Broccoli and Barley - June 16, 2010

Caramelized Broccoli and Barley Salad with Yogurt, Mint and Carrots

Nick made this meal over the weekend. We had some broccoli to use up from our CSA delivery and some leftover barley in the fridge. He found a recipe somewhere and mixed some plain yogurt, freshly chopped mint and diced carrots with the remaining barley for a creamy salad. The broccoli he prepared in our favorite way, tossed with olive oil and cooked in a hot pan until the little caramelized bits appear.
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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Farro and Arugula Nests - June 15, 2010

Nest of Farro and Arugula with Garlic Scapes, Bacon and Poached Egg

Farro has been on my list of grains to try. Unfortunately, I had been having trouble finding it in my usual bulk sections. This past Friday, however, afforded me a chance to peruse what I think is the best bulk section in the area, the one inside Valley Natural Foods Co-op. And what do you suppose I found? Farro. For dinner last night I cooked some, mixed it with some cooked bacon and sauteed garlic scapes and piled it on a bed of arugula. I poached some darling little pullet eggs that we snagged from Braucher's at the Kingfield Farmers' Market a week ago, and placed one atop each bowl. The result looked just like a savory little nest, and tasted delectable. I really enjoyed the farro, which is similar in consistency to barley, but has a nutty, wheat-y flavor that is slightly different from the latter. I am going to have to do a mixed grain breakfast cereal one of these weekends using some of my fun new (to me) finds.
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Monday, June 14, 2010

Seafood Hobo Packs - June 14, 2010

Jerk Seafood Hobo Packs

Every so often, Nick needs a seafood fix. The influences of growing up on the Chesapeake, with healthy doses of vacation spent on the Carolina coast have had a long reaching effect on his palate. Being a life-long Midwesterner, I haven't cultivated the same appetite, although I'm always happy to eat the results of his seafood cravings. Saturday brought us to Coastal Seafoods, where we stocked up on clams, shrimp, and monkfish. Sunday evening, Nick made this recipe, with some modifications based on ingredient limitations, and fired up the grill. Since this makes a large quantity, we invited some friends over to share, making it a Cafe Rushmore event. Delicious!
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Friday, June 11, 2010

Freshly Picked Strawberries - June 11, 2010


How's this for a Friday treat? The rain threatened to foil our plans, but despite a late start, my friend Melissa and I headed south of town to Lorence's Berry Farm for some U-pick 'em goodness. Melissa is the pro and remembered the important things like bug spray and buckets to sit on while we picked. We were welcomed warmly with baskets and encouragement to eat our fill while picking, which was good because I skipped breakfast and we picked straight through lunch. I returned home with 15 1/4 pounds of shiny red berries, of which many will be frozen for upcoming smoothies. As for the rest, I have a fun task ahead of me this weekend, researching recipes for fresh strawberries. In fact, Dinner Clubbers, you just might see these again, in slightly different form, in subsequent Friday posts.

If any of you are interested in a "pick your own" adventure this summer, check here for farms near you.
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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pea Salad and Paninis - June 10, 2010

Pea Salad with Radishes and Grilled Cheese, Caramelized Onion and Arugula Paninis

Sorry for the late post, Dinner Clubbers. We didn't photograph our quickly constructed 'nosh plate' that was last night's dinner, so I had to wait to post until we finished tonight's meal. I found the salad recipe on epicurious via the kitchn. I was excited because it uses pea vine (tendrils) as well as radishes, both of which came in our CSA box last week. I omitted the feta and dill because we didn't have either in the larder. The dressing is a super fun lime/honey/cumin concoction which I never would have thought of if left to my own devices. The panini is made of a combination of cheese remnants, including some Love Tree, pecorino, and mascarpone. Stuck in the middle of the gooey goodness were some caramelized onions and arugula.
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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Yukina Savoy Frittata - June 9, 2010

Frittata of Yukina Savoy and Wild Rice on Yukina Savoy Greens with Mustard Vinaigrette

This qualifies as a 'kitchen sink' dinner. I dug around in the fridge and found a motley assortment of ingredients to use and decided to make a frittata, which lends itself well to that sort of thing. Half an onion, which I caramelized, leftover wild rice, a handful of dried cranberries, chopped toasted hazelnuts, and green garlic, which I chopped, all went into a bowl to be mixed together. The star of the show, however, was the big bunch of yukina savoy from the CSA share. I separated the leaves from the stalks and set the leaves aside. I chopped the stalks into half inch pieces and sauteed them until soft and tossed them into the bowl as well. I roughly chopped a handful of the leaves and stirred them into the mix. The rest I reserved for a salad dressed with a simple mustard vinaigrette. To the bowl I added some beaten eggs, salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne. This I mixed well and cooked in a cast iron skillet on the stove top and finished under the broiler to make a yummy frittata. We served it with the fresh yukina savoy greens on the side. It was a delightful meal and helped clear out some fridge space.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Cashew Bok Choy with Sesame Noodles - June 8, 2010

Stir-Fried Bok Choy and Cashews over Sesame Noodles

Last night's task was to tackle the giant head of bok choy from our CSA delivery. I flipped through my favorite resource, Asparagus to Zucchini, and found a couple of recipes that inspired me. This meal was a bit of a mash-up of those two. First, I cooked regular old spaghetti noodles until al dente, tossed them with a little toasted sesame oil, and set aside. Next I chopped my bok choy. All of it. Separating the leaves from the stalks, I roughly chopped the leaves and sliced the stalks into one inch pieces. After heating up some peanut oil and toasted sesame oil in the wok, I tossed in a pinch of red pepper flakes and two cloves of minced garlic. Thirty seconds or so later I tossed in the bok choy stalks, and 3 or 4 minutes later the leaves. I added a little of the pasta cooking water and some soy sauce at this point as well. A minute or two later I cut the heat, threw in some chopped toasted cashews and some sesame seeds. For dinner we topped bowls of noodles with the stir-fried bok choy and ate like kings.
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Monday, June 07, 2010

Grilled Garlic Scape and Asparagus Pizza - June 7, 2010

Grilled Garlic Scape and Asparagus Pizza with Grilled Cedar Sheep's Milk Cheese

It's been awhile since we've done pizza, but the stars aligned last Friday and we feasted on this delightful rendition. This crust happens to be from my first batch of 100% whole wheat pizza dough. I purchased some locally milled flour from Sunrise Flour Mill at the Mill City Farmers' Market (very appropriate, no?) two weeks ago. Because of the whole wheat (lack of vital wheat gluten?) the dough is not elastic at all and requires a more delicate touch when rolling out than my normal recipe. I worked out the kinks on a quick pizza for Natalie and Jamie a couple weeks back. It's too bad they had to be my guinea pigs, but when you've spent the day loading all your earthly possessions into a Pod in 95 degree heat, you aren't too picky about what you get fed for dinner. Anyway, this time around I was prepared and got the dough rolled out and onto the pizza stone on the first try. We topped it with caramelized onions, grilled asparagus and garlic scapes from our CSA box, fresh herbs from the back yard, and some of my favorite Love Tree grilled cedar sheep's milk cheese. Yum!
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Friday, June 04, 2010

Parsnip Cake - June 4, 2010

Parsnip Cake with Orange Mascarpone Frosting

Isn't this a fun idea? I found the recipe in the parsnip section of Asparagus to Zucchini, but I'm sure you could use any carrot cake recipe and simply replace the carrots with parsnips. This recipe also contains a shredded apple. Since parsnips aren't quite as juicy as carrots, I think the apple adds back a little moisture. I thought this would be especially tasty with the over-wintered parsnips we've been getting in our CSA deliveries as their sugar content is higher than parsnips grown over the summer.

Crumb Close-up

As you can see, this gives a rustic crumb that tastes very similar to carrot cake, but if you know they're in there, you can taste the parsnips. I changed up the frosting a bit as I thought cream cheese frosting seemed a bit heavy for spring. I simply substituted mascarpone, which to me has a lighter, cleaner flavor. I added orange extract and just a drop of orange flower essence instead of the lemon extract called for. If you are a fan of carrot cake, I recommend giving this twist a try for a fun treat. Have a great weekend.

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Thursday, June 03, 2010

Veggie Delivery - June 3, 2010

Fresh Batch of Veggies

Our latest CSA box has arrived, and it's loaded full of fun stuff. First strawberries of the season, folks! And, sadly, last asparagus of the season, but we'll enjoy it all the more. Pea vine, garlic scapes, and lots of things that sound good put in a stir fry or curry (bok choi, yukina savoy). Also, those hot pink carrots are not carrots at all, but Ostergruss radishes, which is a new variety for me. They're sure to be tasty with some Love Tree Farm cheese for a snack. Besides some Asian inspired dishes, I think it's high time for some pizza with these fresh veggies. I'm not sure what we'll do with the rhubarb yet, but perhaps some more infused vodka or simple syrup?

Thanks again to everyone at Harmony Valley Farm for another amazing delivery!
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Warm Barley Salad - June 2, 2010

Barley Salad with Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Thyme and Love Tree Farm Cheese

Love Tree Farms Grilled Cedar Sheep's Milk Cheese

I had purchased some hulled barley awhile back and it had just been sitting on the shelf as most of the recipes I'd come across called for pearled barley. I had been kind of glum thinking I had made a foolish purchase. Well last night I did some research and found out that hulled barley is actually more nutrient dense than pearled because it has been processed less. Yay, my choice is redeemed. It takes a little longer to cook, but only by 30 minutes. Also, I read recommendations to soak it overnight, but I skipped that part (I don't soak my beans either) and it turned out just fine. For dinner, I sauteed some diced onion, sliced mushrooms, chopped canned tomatoes, and fresh thyme; toasted some pine nuts; mixed everything into my cooked barley and topped it with some Love Tree Farm cheese (love it!). During my research last night it also dawned on me that barley is one of the main ingredients in beer. Why am I not eating it all the time? This will not be the last you see of barley around here.
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A Match Made in Dinner Club - June 3, 2010

Le Menu


As most of you know, Nick and I met each other in Dinner Club...and the rest, as they say, is history. Today is our fifth wedding anniversary. Traditionally the fifth is represented by a gift of wood (let the off-color jokes ensue), but I'm replacing that 'W' with an 'F' and focusing on food, as usual. Thus, in celebration of five delicious years, I dug up the menu from our wedding night family dinner at L'Etoile, along with what pictures I could find of the actual entrees (thanks Kate and Anna!). Is it strange that I remember important life events in terms of food? Oh well, this is food worth remembering.
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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Brats with Baked Beans and Spinach Salad - May 31, 2010

The Official Memorial Day Cookout Meal

I thought I'd give you a few more details about our Memorial Day cookout. Nick grilled brats purchased from Braucher's Sun Shine Harvest Farm. The brats are a mixture of beef and pork, so they taste different from the traditional all pork version. These were delicious, although when all is said and done, I do prefer the pork standard. Pictured is mine with mustard and ketchup, the presence of which might offend some of you purists (i.e. Nick). We had homemade whole wheat buns to accompany our sausage. The beans were from a recipe from Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa at Home). I hated baked beans growing up, but I thought it was time to give them another try. Beans, bacon, brown sugar, maple could they be bad? Well, it turns out that I still don't much care for baked beans. Crazy, I know, but I think I have an aversion to their sweetness (which is weird because usually I'm a sugar-hound). Nick loved them, as I am certain anybody who likes baked beans would. In the future, I will choose to keep my legumes on the savory side. And, last but not least, we added a little green to our plate with a simple spinach salad.
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