Archive for February, 2008

Husband’s Mashed Potatoes


We love mashed potatoes. And Husband is a real natural at mashing them. They come out smooth and creamy and soft as silk. And did you know that 2008 is the Year of the Potato? In honor of such an event, Culinary Bizaar is hosting a Potato Feast. And you can count me in!

Our favorite way to serve the lovely potato, is to make Wasabi Mashed Potatoes with Chives. And I am proud to admit, we don’t use a recipe. But here are some guidelines if you want to make them. Start with good potatoes. I buy the yellow ones and use about 3 lbs. Peel them (I thought this was a sin at first, but if you want smooth potatoes, its a must), and cut them in 1-2 inch cubes. Put in large pan, cover with cold water (no idea why, just what I’ve heard) and bring to a oil. After about 10-15 minutes pull one out and taste it. If they’re tender, they’re done. (This is also the best time to taste a pure potato. The flavor is subtle, but really fulfilling). After you strain the potatoes, the fun starts. Add the wasabi in pea-sized doses to taste. Throw in a dollop of sour cream, maybe some heavy cream or milk, whatever you have. Don’t forget the salt and pepper and a handful of chopped chives. Taste, and add what you think is missing. Email me if you have questions, but really, it’s all about taste and personal preference. Enjoy!

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Wisconsin = Cheese

A lovely cheese

I found a cheese at Lunds a few months ago and brought it up to the In-Laws. One of the little wedges I bought was called Pleasant Ridge Reserve Cheese. My father-in-law loved it, which is appropriate, because they live in Wisconsin and the cheese was made in Wisconsin. What a coincidence, eh? The texture is like that of parmesan, but the flavor is deep and rich, yet easy to handle. And, the best part? The cows that provide the milk for the cheese? They’re pasture-fed. Huh. Oh, I just love cheese…..

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Yep, Frozen Soup

We swapped our soup the other night. And from left to right, there is Jen’s Winter Golden Soup, Jaime’s Red Lentil with Lemon Soup, Jackie’s Butternut Squash Soup with Cinnamon and Kathryn’s Pumpkin Coconut Soup. I brought epicurious.com’s Pasta e Fagioli. I can’t wait to try all of them, and the hardest choice I had all day was which one I should pull out of the freezer first.

I’ll post reviews as I try them, can’t wait!! (Recipes after the jump)


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Oh, Dear Pannekoeken


I worked at a delightful family restaurant through most of my college years. This was where I learned to crack eggs two at a time and pull chicken, as well as the finer arts of multi-tasking and interpersonal relations. Yep, I was a cook and a server. And I still believe that everyone should have to wait tables for at least a short moment in their lives. It not only teaches you how to get stuff done, all while wearing a silly uniform, but it teaches you to be nice to people. Or at least appear to be nice to people.

So, this whole memory of the restaurant keeps haunting me. I had a dream/nightmare the other night that I was still a server and I got triple sat. An 8-top, a 10-top and a 12-top all at the same time. And there weren’t enough chairs.

Then this morning, I noticed this post on Chow.com: Dutch Baby Pancake Recipe. It’s similar to the namesake Pannekoekens I so loved. (on wikipdia there’s even a reference to my silly little employer) But we called the little ones (the baby ones) Pannekette. Isn’t that cute?

So, next weekend if you get a few minutes, whip up a pannekoeken for breakfast. The pancakey-like dishes kept me fed and clothed through college. And I’m a better person for it now.

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We headed up north (just an hour) to the in-laws for a snowshoeing day, but, um, the snow was icy and gross, so it turned into a hike. Regardless, the day was more about the food than anything else. And it started with a bang! Actually, more like a flatbread.

We started with a lovely gorgonzola flatbread with prosciutto. The cool thing, is that the prosciutto is added right after you pull it from the oven and it literally melts onto the flatbread.

After the snowshoeing/hiking outing we came back to the house for a lunch of homemade baked bread, salad and soup. Oh, and deviled eggs. Just because. They rock. And they were so beautiful.

The soup was a fabulous, chunky butternut squash. If I remember correctly, that’s white cheddar cheese sprinkled on top. Oh, and as if there was still room, there was cake. A cranberry orange bundt cake with, of course, fresh whipped cream.

NOTE: I have recipes of the soup, flatbread and the cake, but they’re in pdf format. If you’d like any of the above, please let me know

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Mexican Chocolate Bundt Cake

I brought a cake to pARTy the other night, and while I really, really wanted to make the Cinnamon Cake with Chili-Chocolate Buttercream, it seemed like too much work for a Friday night event. Instead, I bought a bundt pan. It was one of those things I’ve been meaning to buy and always forgot to grab when I made a Target run. So I made a special trip and picked up a beautiful blue silicon bundt pan.

Online, of course, I found a recipe for a Mexican Chocolate Cake and thought it looked good, and looked easy. The beauty of the recipe is that it called for a Devil’s Food Cake mix and then I just added some goodies to it. I think it took me about 7 minutes to mix it up before throwing it in the over, all the while the show Lost was paused.

The following night I attempted the glazes. The brown sugar – milk glaze was easy and really pretty against the dark cake. But the chocolate chip glaze came up clumpy and look like, well, it just wasn’t attractive. I tossed it. Yes, I tossed chocolate. I know it’s a sin, but it was runny and getting burnt, so I gave up. The cake was still beautiful and with a sprinkling of almonds it was complete. And the best part? It was really good. Really good. Not too sweet, but really moist and delicate. I didn’t even miss the chocolate glaze that was now in the garbage. Oh well. That recipe is a keeper and now that I have my blue bundt pan I’ll be making it more often!


Oh, and this is Gus. He’s one of the hosts. See his cow?

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Tea Time


The current issue of Food & Wine Magazine has a lovely article about the experience of Tea. They also recommend an all natural, organic, fair trade tea, that I have to get my hands on. The brand is called Ineeka and the website alone is worth taking a look at. The teas are available at Amazon and HelloDelicious. I think I’ll start with the traditional black tea and move on from there. If any has tried these teas or seen them sold locally, please let me know!!

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Timatar murghi

Cookbook by Madhur Jaffrey

Also known as Chicken with Tomatoes and Garam Masala

Dinner last night was taken from a cookbook I borrowed from the Library. Much cheaper than buying one cookbook after another, I’ve decided to scour the shelves of my branch library for a variety and then just photocopy the recipes I might actually make. I started with Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking. While there were a number of recipes that looked great, I only copied about six that I actually thought I would make. Even then, I had to take a field trip out to Bloomington to an Indian market to find a couple ingredients.

The main ingredient that I needed were http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardamom. (Click here for more on the Pods.), as well as some Naan. I bought three bags of Naan (2 frozen, 1 fresh) so I can try them all and pick a favorite. As usual, I was the only blonde in the store. Which is just fine. If too many Scandinavians were shopping, I’d be looking elsewhere for my spices. I found what I needed, as well as a huge bag of Cumin Seeds, and was on my way.

I wish you could smell this

The recipe was really easy, and I truly wish you would have been able to smell the spices as they crackled in the pan. A combination of the cumin seeds, bay leaf, a cinnamon stick and those pods created quite a fragant scent. Then, to make it even better, I threw in garlic, onions and ginger. Now you’re talking. The smell nearly sent me over the edge. And then, to tone it down, I added the chicken and a whole beast of fresh tomatoes. You know, the recipe called for peeled tomatoes, and I skipped that step, knowing that the whole thing would simmer for 25 minutes and the skins would become a non-issue. I was right.

Chicken with Tomatoes and Garam Masala

After simmering, the chicken was tender, the onions were sweet and the tomatoes were a thick paste. I removed the spices (bay leaf and pods easy, black peppercorn not easy) and served it over basmati rice with the onion naan. It was good. I added a dash of crushed red pepper because I add it to everything and we nearly slopped up the whole pan. (See Recipe Below).

We’ll make it again, which is funny, because I didn’t think Husband liked Indian. Huh. Oh, and I’ll have the recipe up soon. Email me if you’re dying to try it.

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Not that it’s new, but it’s new to me. Here’s a bit of what they say about themselves:

The Ethicurean was founded in May 2006…. What we have in common is that we spend a lot of time thinking about food. Not just about how to prepare it, or how it tastes — although those things are very important to us — but to exploring where and how it was grown and by whom, how it got to our plate, and the less obvious effects of our consuming it. Being an Ethicurean means simply trying to “chew the right thing.”

A site/blog dedicated to food. And sustainable food at that. I gotta get a gig like that. Oh, yeah, I kind of have one. Or something trying to be like them. At least I’ve got a role model, and another site to fill my days.

A few weeks ago, Husband and I went to the Weisman Art Museum on the University of Minnesota’s East Bank. The museum was finished while I was a student and it created quite a buzz. A piece out of their collection has always caught my eye, and now I know why. It reflects everything that is wrong with this big, huge, industrial food world.

It’s one of the largest pieces the museum has, along with a phenomenal Motherwell.
It is called Untitled, by Doug Argue and it shows rows and rows of chickens in cages. I included a photo of the details because they shouldn’t be missed.

close-up of chickens

So, this painting led me to Ethicurean. We all have a responsibility to the environment. And that includes in what we eat. Most of the chicken that’s lining the shelves of Rainbow and Cub was raised like the chickens in this painting. Hormones, chemicals and the risk of salmonella and all reasons to hunt down hormone free, organic, local chicken. It’s not hard to find, and it’s not expensive, and the flavor is out of this world.

If you don’t believe me, read the Omnivore’s Dilemma. That’ll convince ya.

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Going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day is overrated. Restaurants are crowded, expensive and the staff would rather be home with their sweeties instead of bringing me plates of overpriced goods. So, this year, we stayed at home and cooked. And man, it was good. (Oh, and the photo? That’s Dog, with his V-day gift. Stuffed chocolate-covered strawberries. Woof!)

We started with Crab-stuffed mushrooms. Yes, I found them in the produce department at Lund’s, but still, they were darn good. The cashier at the store jumped out of her skin when he rang them up, demanding to know exactly where in the store I was able to find them. They were good, especially with some of the Ginger-Habanero hot sauce from St. John Spice.

Then we moved on to the main dish. The Truffled Shrimp and Crab Risotto from Cooking Light. The only change I made was to add just a bit of Parmesan cheese at the end. But I have to admit the reviewers were right and that the crab was barely noticeable in the dish. Next time we’ll scrap the crab and add more shrimp. And for those that think Risotto is intimidating, it’s not. It’s tedious. but really easy, and really hard to mess up. Just keep stirring. With it, we sliced up a tasty baguette from the Birchwood Cafe. I started my day with one of the special Strawberry, Banana, Chocolate Chip muffins and grabbed the bread while I was there. Can you imagine a better muffin to start Valentines Day with?

And then there was dessert. Almost as good as chocolate-covered strawberries, I made these great little (light) cakes from Cooking Light. The batter is made on the stove-top and was really easy. It calls for some chocolate chips, but I couldn’t help imaging how it would have been with cinnamon chips and a dash of cayenne. They’re so different, and so light, I think we’ll be trying that next time. Regardless, there are two more in the kitchen, waiting for tomorrow night. Hello Friday!!

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