Archive for July, 2007

Grazefest 2007

I am so far behind, and have enjoyed so much good food recently. It seems to make sense to start at the farm. Last weekend, sister, her husband and KJ drove down to New Prague to visit Grazefest 2007.

Essentially, its a festival celebrating local and organic farming, and it was hosted by Cedar Summit Farm. There were fresh brats, lectures from farmers and a fabulous cooking demonstration.

Chef Philip Dorwart cooked up a cumin-pork tenderloin with a sauce he called “liquid corn on the cob.” And it was simple. He dusted the pork tenderloin (pasture-raised, organic) with cumin, salt and pepper and grilled it over natural briquettes and apple wood. He then simmered the corn (cut from the cob), some garlic, salt and chicken stock right on the grill. He added a touch (a whole lot) of butter and a bit of cream (from Cedar Summit Farm) and pureed it with an immersion blender (I gotta get me one of these).

And then we got to taste it. He served the sauce beneath the pork, and added just a tiny dallop of goast cheese and a chive. We were ecstatic, and hoped to find time to make it before Sister went back to CO. But no…

But we did have some really great, fresh ice cream. We took our cones and walked across the street to visit the cows. They were really happy cows, and looked great. They are much smaller than industrial cows, and they’re long flappy ears were just adorable. We thanked them for the creamy ice cream and went inside to buy some meat.

All in all, a great day on the farm. We learned a little something, and tried some great food. And best of all, KJ and I decided we’ll try the 100-mile diet. More on that later

Read Full Post »

This is why I watch Iron Chef

This is a piece of sushi by Iron Chef Morimoto. He created it during “Battle Asparagus.” It is surrounded by a Dashi Foam. And Alton called it a church window. All I know, is I’ve never had any sushi this beautiful, and honestly, I’m not sure if I could eat it.

(And yes, I paused Tivo and took a photo of my TV.)

Read Full Post »

A Tiny Harvest.

I pulled my first tomatoes out of the garden today. Two perfect little grape tomatoes. They’re actually much larger than a grape, and I haven’t the heart to eat them quite yet. Maybe tomorrow. Along with them, I pulled off the first banana pepper and the remaining sugar snap peas. Dog got a little one on the walk to the house. And I think our neighborhood deer has been helping herself. It’s a start, at least. There are plenty of growing green tomatoes and with this heat, they should be red soon!

Read Full Post »

Taste #32: Cookbook Queen – Paulette Mitchell

Prolific ought to be Paulette Mitchell’s middle name (actually, it’s Gwendolyn, and she’s not fond of it). It suits a dynamo who has produced a dozen cookbooks since 1984, each one brainstormed and tested in the culinary think-tank otherwise known as her inviting Edina kitchen. Mitchell’s work has often embraced one of two themes: envelope-pushing vegetarian or quick preparation. “There’s always the question of whether cookbook authors follow the trends or set them,” Mitchell said. She probably does both. Mitchell’s influence extends beyond cookbooks, with a busy schedule as a television and Webcast host and producer and as a cruise-ship cooking instructor. Not that Mitchell will be traveling much this summer. She’ll be in her kitchen, formulating “15 Minute Gourmet: Timeless Recipes,” scheduled to appear in bookstores in fall 2008.

And the Strib is right. This 15-minute vegetarian cookbook is jammed full of tasty recipes, including the beautiful cover dish, asparagus and cashew stir-fry. (I just wish I had picked up the book a month ago, when asparagus was the only green vegetable at the market). I paged through and found the pesto pasta, which is hard to beat. I followed the squash recomendation, but added tomatoes as well. Because, well, I had to.

Read Full Post »

A light, impromptu lunch.

K took me out yesterday so I could learn how to ride my new scooter, and along the way we stopped at the lovely Birchwood Cafe for a glass of lemonade. Once inside, the idea grew into maybe something sweet. There were slices of cake, scones, berry cobblers and one totally to die for bread pudding. Then K saw the soup list and tried a sample of the chilled Thai Tomato Ginger soup. We quickly ordered two cups of the soup and a piece of the Whiskey Chocolate Cherry Bread Pupping with Caramel Sauce and Whipped Cream.

Hello, lunch?? I think so.

We ended up drinking water. So much for the lemonade.

Read Full Post »

A Weekend of Eating – Right (Part 2)

On to part two (2). After that fabulous lunch we stopped by Coastal Seafoods to pick out our dinner. Coastal Seafoods is a local seafood market with just three locations (Minneapolis, St. Paul and Wayzata). Their quality is by far the best in the city and some of the best restaurants around stop in there daily for their fish and seafood. That day, the fishmonger recommended the blue marlin, and not one to argue, we picked up four good sized pieces to grill with some herb butter.

But before we could even think about dinner, we invited some more friends over for some drinks and appetizers. We served a ginger lemonade, which is easy and, honestly, to die for, wine and beer, as well as horseradish deviled eggs and a tomato bruschetta with rosemary. The eggs had just enough horseradish to taste, and to make people wonder what was different about these eggs. The picture below shows how quickly they were being consumed. The platter was a gift from my great Aunt Ann, who received it from her sister-in-law, my grandmother. It’s that white milk glass with gold trim, and I don’t think I could ever serve deviled eggs on anything else but this.

The bruschetta was fresh, and tasty with big slices of mozzerella and perfectly grilled bread (thanks, honey). Mother-in-law made this and found the recipe in Star Tribune. (I’m not able to find it online, email me if you want it).

And finally, with our stomach’s already bursting we moved onto dinner. While Husband grilled the fish to perfection, the rest of us compiled the other dishes. I made a roasted pepper bread salad (from Food & Wine), and MIL whipped up a beautiful salad of mixed greens, strawberries and avocado. (Avocado in anything is an great.)

Dessert was also simple, although we really had to squeeze it in. Just some bananas stuffed with chocolate and grilled, served with homemade vanilla ice cream. (The recipe is from T, of T&B and a previous post.)

Read Full Post »

A Weekend of Eating – Right (Part 1)

I have no problem planning my days around food. And Saturday was no exception. The In-laws came down for the day, and we decided to head downtown for lunch, walk through the new Guthrie Theater, and just putz around town. The temperatures were going to be in the upper 90s, so a day of indoor activities seemed like a good idea.

We had lunch at a favorite restaurant, Spoonriver, just across the courtyard from the Guthrie. Owned by Brenda from Cafe Brenda, they focus on local, organic ingredients. Need I say more?
I started with a Passionfruit Belinni and a cup of their mango bisque. the soup was sweet and smooth, and very refreshing in the crazy heat. Husband tried their spicy bloody mary along with a cup of their watermelon-tomato gazpacho. Now that soup was damn good. There were layers, and layers of flavors, and an unidentified spice that we’re guessing was due to some form of a mild pepper.

I always have such a hard time choosing an entree. Order’s remorse, I guess I coudl call it. The choice I made at Spoonriver was definitely not regretful. I went with the Quesadilla, which was full of local smoked chicken, greek keseri cheese, mango and cranberry coulis. (I see a mango theme emerging). The quesadilla’s were homey, yet really summery and full of flavor.

Mom-in-law ordered the buckwheat crepes filled with smoken salmon, dill creme fraiche and spinach. The sounded marvelous.

Husband and father-in-law went with the Lamb burger, and both described it as having a gyro-like flavor, and both said it was extremely tender. I didn’t try it, not being able to stomach lamb.

And on to dessert. There were five to choose from, but we only were able to work our way through three. The included the flourless chocolate cake with fennel seeds (on one side) and fennel bark (on the other), served over a yogurt.

Then, onto the chocolate mouse with a sake infused apricot.

And a lemon curd with fresh fruit and lemon sorbet. Did I mention that I believe most of that fruit probably came from the farmers market just outside the door?

As we walked out, we commented to each other that the experience we just had was the way it should be in a restaurant. A laid-back atmosphere, attentive and knowledgeble service, and incredible food. I will be back. I just wish it could be today.

Read Full Post »

Cumin Pork Tenderloin, Tomatillo-Poblano Sauce

I try so many recipes, and hope that all of them end up in the “make-it-again-pile,” but so many don’t make the cut. Most of them are good, many of them are great, but few of them are really heartfelt-this-must-be-made-again-right-now good. The recipe below made this cut. And just an hour after eating, I’m already craving it again.

I pulled this recipe from the Star Tribune taste section from June 28. It’s called Cumin-Crusted pork tenderloin with charred tomatillo sauce. It’s really a simple recipe. Rub the pork with a mixture of cumin, salt and pepper. Let it sit for a couple hours. For the sauce, roast a jalapeno pepper, a couple poblano peppers, a few tomatillos and an onion. Peel the peppers, stuff it all in a blender with some cilantro, sugar, and garlic until mix until smooth. I made the sauce a day before, and knew I was on to something as soon as I tasted it. I would have been happy with just the sauce, but really, a sauce can’t be a meal, or can it?

So today we grilled up the pork, threw some rice in the rice cooker, and reheated the sauce.

The pork, from Fresh and Natural Foods, was really, remarkably tender. The sauce was sweet, but tart and served with rice that let the sauce run over it like they were meant to be together.
Since there were only two of us eating, I made just half the sauce and used just one 1-pound pork tenderloin. This means there is plenty of sauce left over. Now, do I serve it with a chicken or many grilled fish? So many decisions!!

The following recipe is from the Star Tribune, and I offer many thanks to them for adding a staple meal to my recipe collection. (I’d offer a link, but their auto sign-in form isnt working. AUGH!)

Cumin-Crusted pork tenderloin with charred tomatillo sauce

Serves 6.

Note: To toast cumin seeds, heat in dry pan over medium heat until fragrant. Beth Jones makes the sauce ahead of time, then reheats it before serving.

• 4 tbsp. toasted cumin seeds, divided (see Note)

• 3 pork tenderloins, cleaned of fat (silver skin)

• 1 tbsp. canola oil

• 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, or coarse sea salt

• Freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce:

• 1 jalapeño

• 4 poblano peppers

• 8 tomatillos, paper husks removed

• 1 small yellow onion, peeled and left whole

• 2 garlic cloves

• 1 tbsp. sugar

• 1 bunch cilantro including stems, washed

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

• Lime wedges for garnish


Using a spice grinder, or mortar and pestle, combine 1 tablespoon of the cumin seed with the salt and grind until fine. Rub the tenderloins with canola oil and season with the cumin salt and pepper.

Spread the remaining cumin seeds on a piece of plastic wrap, and roll the tenderloins in the seeds to coat them. Allow the tenderloins to marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

On a hot grill, char the jalapeño, poblanos, tomatillos and onion until evenly blistered on all sides. Remove the tomatillos and peppers and place peppers in a Ziploc-style bag to steam until cooled.

Lower the grill temperature, or if using a charcoal grill, move the onion to a cooler spot on the grill. Allow the onion to continue cooking until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Peel the peppers and place them with the onion and tomatillos in a blender and purée. Add the garlic, sugar, cilantro, and salt and pepper and purée until smooth.

Cook the tenderloins over medium-high heat, 3 to 5 minutes per side for medium. Remove from the grill and allow the tenderloins to rest for 5 minutes. Slice on the bias, and serve with the sauce and a few lime wedges for garnish.

Read Full Post »

A Crop Share Dinner – sort of

So, the extent of my crop share this summer has included some greens, some catnip and some peas. To be fair, they’ve had an insanely warm and dry spring, and most of their spring crops just weren’t able to pull through. Its a risk of going through a CSA. However, friend K is getting weekly share from a different farm and has been kind enough to share what she’s not able to finish. Namely, zucchini and dill.

The Dill she so generously gave me, sent me to the internet to search for a suitable, grillable recipe. After wading through the dozens of quesadilla recipes that came up (I hadn’t realized that “dill” was in “quesaDILLa”), I found this little gem through Cooking Light. It’s called Lemon-Dill Pollock. And here’s a note about Pollock from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

“Pollock from the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea is a best choice because of generally abundant fish population and responsible fishery management. It’s eco-certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.
A quick marinade of lemon, the dill, and a bit of dijon mustard and the fish was good to pop on the grill. We used my brand-new fish griller tool thingy, and it worked great. Held the fish in place, and cooked evenly. We skewered up the zuchinni on the side, opened a bottle of Pinot Grigio and dinner was served!

Read Full Post »