Archive for May, 2007

Foodie BlogRoll

How exciting is this? For when you just can’t get enough of food, cooking or chatter, visit the other food blogs on the Foodie BlogRoll (scroll down to the right).

Yeah for food!

Read Full Post »

T&Bs Burgers and Bananas.

Memorial day weekend just wouldn’t be right without a group of friends, a grill and a firepit. Sunday night we headed over to T&B’s for B’s Famous Burgers and T’s grilled bananas. I can just say I was glad we had kayaked for an hour and a half earlier in the day so I could enjoy everything.

B calls them Italian burgers, but all I could get out of him was that they are a mixture of ground beef and pork, and they are loaded with garlic and onions. I really don’t need to know more than that. Oh, and they’re served with a marinara sauce that is also loaded with garlic.

Their shape is not the usual burger patty shape, but instead more of a rectangle.

They took a fair amount of time to grill.

But they were well worth the wait.

B toasted up some italian rolls, again rubbed with olive oil and some garlic.

And then layered on the marinara. They were sliced and served with more of the sauce. There were a couple of salads (yum), the summer-must-have caprese salad, a thick cheesy-horsradishy dip and of course, cheese and wine.

And then we moved onto dessert.

T sliced open a bunch of bananas and filled them with Ghirardelli chocolate. Ten minutes on the grill, then unwrapped and served with a scoop of Dulce de Leche ice cream. The bananas, chocolate and ice cream were a great combination, even if it made for a very rich dessert.
I wish I had a photo of the finished product, but it was pretty dark by that time of night. You’ll just have to trust me on this one.

Thanks T&B for hosting, as always, too much food and loads of fun.

Read Full Post »

Minneapolis Star Tribune: The Taste 50

Yesterday my local paper published their annual taste listing. In it they list “Fifty people, products, places and ideas that make Minnesota the place for food fans.” Over the course of the next year (52 weeks) I plan (and hope) to cover each of the 50 products/places/ideas listed in the article.

Eventually the link may break, so here is the list.

1. Liquid gold – Josephine Mangano’s Valli Dell’Etna olive oil

2. In the back, on the left – Dong Yang Oriental Foods

3. Rising star – Don Saunders, chef/owner of Fugaise

4. A better breakfast – Cultural Revolution fruit-in-the-bottom yogurt. (ENJOYED! See Friday, June 15, 2007)

5. A chef’s best friend – Scott Pikovsky and his 10-year old north Minneapolis wholesaler, Great Cia

6. Frosty mug, or scoop? – Pumphouse Creamery

7. Learning moment – produce department at the Seward Co-op Grocery & Deli. (ENJOYED! See Friday, June 8, 2007)

8. Hoot of a hot dish – Passow’s hilarious, spot-on Minnesota Principal Hot Dishes by Region oven helper

9. A splendid partnership – Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift.

10. – 11. Street scene – a pair of eye-catching restaurant marquees (Lurcat and Loring Pasta Bar)

12-17. Six superlative summertime sweets

12. Seven-minute icing and scads of coconut are the essential building blocks for an extravagant layer cake at Yum! Kitchen and Bakery.

13. The title dessert at Blondies Cafe — thick, buttery, packed with chocolate — explains why they didn’t call the place Brownies.

14. Lucia’s Restaurant pastry chef Annamarie Rigelman is at peak performance when she’s turning out fruit crisps. Unless she’s turned her attention to fruit pies. Then it’s a tie.

15. The amusing assortment of bite-size cookies at 20.21 is a clever tailor-made reflection of the restaurant’s made-to-share emphasis.

16. Talk about a signature dessert: The Town Talk Diner’s chocolate-hazelnut waffle is crowned with a fetchingly pink scoop of cherry ice cream.

17. Laura’s Candy’s S’more Kits, made in St. Peter, Minn., bring a big dose of class to any campfire, what with honey-molasses graham crackers, fluffy marshmallows in 13 flavors and a Vahlrona chocolate bar.

18. Cheese whiz – LoveTree Farmstead stand at the St. Paul Farmers Market,

19-20. Bring on the smoking ban

21. All aboard – Metro Transit’s route 21 along Lake Street

22-23. A gold medal park – Gold Medal Park and Spoonriver (ENJOYED! See Saturday, June 23, 2007)

24-27. New faces in town – Saffron, Bank, Little Szechuan and the Good Day Cafe

28. Where no co-op has gone before – Enter Fresh & Natural Foods. (ENJOYED! See Saturday, June 30, 2007)

29. Better half – 112 Eatery.

30. Enough said – magnetic version of painter Robert Indiana’s says-it-all paintings.

31. Ain’t love grand? – Coppola Art Imports.

32. Cookbook queen – Paulette Mitchell

33. Hell’s hotcakes – Hell’s Kitchen

34. A frozen find – La Loma tamales

35. Green acres – Burning River Farm near Osceola, Wis.

36. Setting sail – Oceanaire Seafood Room, where a seat at the raw bar provides a fine vantage

37. Windy City export – Frontera Fresco in its Nicollet Mall store in downtown Minneapolis

38. Grass-fed goodness – Pastureland butter.

39. The mighty morel

40. Locally focused shopping – Golden Fig Fine Foods

41. Taking the cake – A Baker’s Wife’s Pastry Shop cakes

42. Cultured dining – 20:21 and Cue

43. On a roll – St. Paul’s Pearson’s Candy Co’s Salted Nut Roll. (ENJOYED! See Friday, June 1, 2007)

44-45. Spanish two-fer – Solera’s Spanish wine and sherry lists

46. Landmark status – Bank, the Westin Hotel’s style-conscious restaurant and lounge. Glory hallelujah.

47. Boffo barista – Kopplin’s Coffee

48. Bagging paper and plastic – reusable shopping bag

49. Does Doritos know about this? – chips from Whole Grain Milling, Co.

50. Road trip – Native Bay, Chippewa Falls, WI

I have tried, been to, and seen many of the things and places on this list. But there are more that I have not tried, been to or seen. So, regardless, it should be a fun adventure! Stay tuned!

Read Full Post »

I’m not rolling out the red carpet quite yet….

Driving back to my office after lunch at the Edina institution, Pearsons, I noticed a banner on the new building on 50th and France. It read “Coming Soon: Sur La Table.” I immediately picked up my cell phone and called K to let her know. She was just as excited as I was. We planned to take a field trip back there when it opened.

And then I started thinking.

A block west of their new location is Cooks of Crocus Hill’s Edina location. Almost as old as I am, Cooks first opened in 1974 on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. Cooks is one of my favorite stores, and always a treat to explore. When I started perusing the Sur La Table website, I couldn’t help but notice they would be competing with a well-loved, local store. What will happen when the national chain opens just down the street? I hope the local residents of Minneapolis and Edina will continue to take culinary courses and buy their colanders from Cooks, but what about tourists and other visitors to the region? Will a visit to the chain wrap up a perfect afternoon after lunch at the Cheesecake Factory just a few miles away?

When it opens I’ll go there. I’ll nose around. But I’ll spend my money at Cooks. And take classes at Cooks.

Now I want to know what you’re thinking. Will you go there? Will you take classes there? Would you eat at the Cheesecake Factory?

Read Full Post »

Heartland…. Oooooo…..

My wonderful husband brought me to the Heartland Restaurant the other night to celebrate my graduation. The heartland is a small, neighborhood place just across the river from where we live. I had been to the wine bar, but never made it to the restaurant, and I could kick myself for not going sooner.

There has been a lot of press around town, including this review from Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine, and this mention in The Rake.

So, we finally made it over there. We arrived a few minutes early and considered, for a moment, a stop in the adjoining wine bar. It’s narrow, but attractive, surrounded in light wood. Instead, we just went straight to the restaurant where they sat us promptly and efficiently. Our table is in an adorable little nook. We were able to see out into the rest of the dining room, but weren’t sitting on top of the other tables. The kitchen was open and I commented on how calm the chefs looked. Their movements were under control and far from panicked.

We were immediately offered bread and greeted by our server, who was friendly and outgoing without being overbearing. We ordered a bottle of Chardonnay (Babcock, Ruth’s Earth Cuvee), which was fruity and light. Just exactly what I wanted on an 80 degree day.

The Heartland offers two pre-fixe menus each night, one with meat, and one vegetarian. I think they’re a really good deal, and even after perusing the rest of the menu, we both decided to order the “Fauna” menu of the night. But we cheated. We noticed the Bison Tartare, and knew we had to have it. Okay, I admit, I’m not a big red meat fan, but after the Bison burgers a couple of weeks ago, and knowing we were in the capable hands of a splendid chef, I figured this was the place to try something as unique as raw Bison here. There’s a photo of it below. It was served with insanely thin crostini and yellow tomatoes in a horseradish sauce. I can’t really believe how much we both liked it, and there was no hint of raw beef anywhere. The bison was surrounded with horseradish and garlic, and couldn’t have been better.

The first course of our Fauna meal was a “Pan-friend catfish in a duck egg-cornmeal crust house-smoked bacon, braised spring greens, red pepper-chive sour cream and freshwater crayfish consomme.” I love catfish, which is strange, but the tang of sour cream and the earthiness of the greens matched the strong flavor of the catfish. I could have ordered this for an entree, but I had to remember there was more to come.

The entree was listed on the menu as, “Fischer Farm Yorkshire pork roast with green beans, roasted fennel and wild leek sauce.” I am new to both fennel and leeks and rarely get enough of them. The pork is from a farm in Waseca, MN (sorry, I couldn’t fine a direct link) and was tender and juicy. The whole dish was a little bland, but I blame that more on the bison and the catfish than the actual dish. How can you follow those two dishes without feeling a little disappointment. Regardless, I knew I still had dessert to look forward to.

Which was more than enough. The menu read, “Chocolate trio of a passion fruit chocolate tartlette, a chocolate-black pepper truffle and chocolate-port wine-cherry biscotti.” I could have read the first two words and know the dessert was for me, but when it arrived there were two of each. Hello. Congratulations to me, and to the pastry chef who I was so fortunate to discover. The little tartlettes were crunchy and smooth at the same time. The truffles were rich, and yes, I could taste the black pepper. The biscotti provided a crunch (and something to sop up that beautiful juice).

Needless to say, we’ll be going back. Sorry the photographs are overexposed, but we were sitting in our little hole, which was very romantic, and I am using just an everyday digital camera. I have to wonder if people notice I take photographs of the food I am served. Here, at Heartland, there was no wondering. I asked our wonderful server if I could see a menu again (so I knew what I was eating) and she told me to keep it, so I knew what I was taking pictures of. Gulp. So, I was discovered. I don’t have a spy cam, so I shouldn’t be surprised. Heartland, if you’re able to find this post, please leave a comment. I’ll be right in for a glass of wine, and I’m really craving the cheese plate!

Read Full Post »

Finally, Rhubarb…

As hard as it is to say, I’ve never worked with Rhubarb before. Okay, there, I said (wrote) it.
I picked up a bunch of organic rhubard at the Seward Coop when I stopped by to pick up lunch and knew I had to do something with it. It’s rhubarb season, for gods sake, and I needed to playaround with it. I hear a lot about Rhubarb Crisp or Rhubarb pie, but I wanted to make something more practical. I googled (is that now a verb) and found a whole website on Rhubarb Muffins, chose one and made it!

First of all, Rhubarb is easy to work with. I stared at the stalks of Rhubarb on my cutting board and really had no idea where to start. One phone call to Kim (capital K because she knows way more about food than I could ever hope) and she told me to just cut off the dry ends and chop it up. Hello, super easy. I tossed the chopped up fruit into the muffin mix and threw them in the oven. Twenty-five minutes later, I had a dozen beautiful Rhubarb muffins. Yum. Serve ’em warm with some good butter. Double Yum!

Read Full Post »

Just a quick quote for the day…

The belly rules the mind. ~Spanish Proverb

Read Full Post »

Another restaurant to drool over.

I met a friend today at Saffron, the new restaurant that’s taken over the first floor at 123 North Third Street. The space was most recently home to Jazzmines, with a series of semi-successful restaurants before that. When I first graduated from college and started hanging out in Minneapolis’ warehouse district, I remember stopping in for a cup of coffee and caramel roll and watching the Simpson’s for a few minutes. My, how times have changed. This time I hope the restaurant sticks around. (Read a recent review.)

The restaurant is named after the mystical spice, Saffron, and it was a shame to see we were one of only five or six tables over the lunch hour. I hope they’re busier for dinner, or I’ll have to start going there more

I started with the recommend mint ice tea, which probably could have used more mint, but apparently I didn’t mind because the server brought me more than one refill.

Shortly after we sat down, we were brought a basket of pita bread, a good crusty bread and homemade hummus. I’m not usually a hummus fan, but there was really no way I was going to miss this delicacy. It was smooth, with just a hint of garlic and did not, in any way, remind of that night, over 10 years ago, where I ate more than my share of Hummus from a Greek deli in Georgetown at 3:30 in the morning. No, this was much better, and stayed down.

My friend and I were both very interested in the soup of the day, a Piquillo pepper puree served with a crostini slathered in goat cheese, but we both had reservations. She’s a vegetarian, I avoid heavy cream. I was the fortunate one that day, because yes, it had a touch of meat broth, but was free of any dairy. And boy was I glad. When the bowl arrived, the soup was a bright red, with the promised crostini floating beneath a pile of luscious goat cheese. Friend took a bite (despite the meat broth) and described it as “piquillo peppers stuffed with feta but in liquid form.” I couldn’t have agreed more.

Not that she was too jealous, because in front of her was a beautiful Fatoush Salad, full of romaine, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, pita crisps and covered in a sumac-lemon vinaigrette. It was both light and rich at the same time.

The entrée, though, was what will bring me back there. We both ordered the Salmon “Tagine.” Beyond being beautiful, it was full of flavor and layers of hidden goodies. The menu says it contains ” saffron, peppers, olives, fennel and Yukon gold potatoes.” The potatoes were thinly sliced and layered, there was a touch of preserved lemon on the top and the olives (even with pits) were unlike any I have tasted in my life. They had the distinct olive flavor with none of the unpleasant bitterness that can come with it. Nope, nothing briny here, folks, just pure olive flavor.

The service was very good, even though there was only the one server working. He was extremely knowledgeable and identified the elements of each dish as he delivered it. He offered us dessert, which neither of us would have been able to handle. Saffron is not an inexpensive restaurant, but that’s the beauty of hitting these grand, new places for lunch. There’s rarely wine on the table, and the lunch portions are smaller and cost less.

That doesn’t mean I’m not dieing to go back there, however, and the next time I hope to see both the dessert menu and the wine list.

Read Full Post »

I never thought I’d say (write) this…

But who needs Dean & Deluca in town when we’ve got the Golden Fig!

The Golden Fig, a small shop on Grand Avenue in St. Paul is full of wonderful treasures. I first heard about this store last fall, and made a mental note to stop by. The mental note apparently got lost, and not until this past weekend did I finally get there. We were just down the block at Cooks of Crocus Hill (another gem of a store) and I dragged the Husband over to the Fig.

It’s tiny, but was I ever impressed. There were loads of chocolates, and spices and a whole cooler full of fun cheeses in the back. The day we were there they were offering samples of Mama’s Salsa and Golden Figs own Margarita Mix. Needless to say, both ended up in our basket. We picked up two kinds of cheese, an Applewood Smoked Cheddar and a Cocoa Cardona rubbed with cocoa and black pepper (both from La Valle, WI). The first one we thought would be nice with our much-ignored bottle of truffle oil. The second because cheese and chocolate? Um, yeah, no-brainer. A bag of Garlic and Basil Fettuccini from the Sunrise Deli in Hibbing, MN also found its way into our bag, and the lovely proprieter recommended serving it with homemade pesto (there’s one bag left in the basement) and fresh tomatoes (from last Saturday’s excursion to the Minneapolis Farmers Market.) And because we couldn’t completely ignore him, we brought a bag of Sister Joan’s All Natural dog treats home for Dog. No sugar, no salt, no preservatives. Sounds boring to me, but he loves him. (Take note that a couple of our guests on Saturday night tried them as well. Fewer margaritas next time, eh?)

Now that we found this heavenly storefront I’ll be stopping by there more often. There is a rumor going around that they might be expanding which would be fabulous. Sorry there are no photos, maybe on the next visit. I didn’t want to overwhelm everyone on my first visit.

Up next, a visit to the Minneapolis Farmers Market, lunch at the new restaurant Saffron, and a trip through the world of Dulce de Leche.

Read Full Post »

Easy Weeknight Dinner Idea: Kitchen Sink Quesadillas

About once a month my mind goes blank when it comes to an idea for dinner and we have Quesadillas. I borrowed this idea from my friend Lisa years ago, and its become a staple in our house. Each time the ingredients change just a little bit depending on what we have in the fridge. Last night, we put together a basic version, with pulled rotisserie chicken, black beans, green peppers and cheese. We layer each of the ingredients. First the black beans (and a few random tomatoes) :

Then the chicken and peppers:

And then the cheese:

Then the other tortilla, and smoosh it down real good.

Stick it in a hot oven for about 15 minutes, or until the tortillas have a little brown on them and the cheese is melted:
I served them with some fresh tomatoes, avocados from The Midtown Global Market, and a scoop of local Salsa Lisa.

In the past we’ve added mushrooms, other peppers, corn, etc. We’ve made these without chicken, although I think Husband may not consider it a meal without it. Regardless, they’re hard to mess up and are really very delicious. And the bonus? There’s plenty left over for lunch the next day.


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »