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

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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.)

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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