Archive for November, 2008


There were two recipes we made for Thanksgiving that were really, truly, out-of-this-world. One was the Deep Dish Pumpkin Pie (today), the other and Sweet Potato Gratin (tomorrow). When I first saw the recipe for the Pumpkin Pie I knew it would be a lot of work. A crust from scratch put into a spring form pan, with pumpkin pie filling from scratch (meaning from a pumpkin, not a can), a layer of almond crunch, fresh cranberry sauce and then a cream cheese whipped topping. All from scratch. But I was up for the challenge and I had a back up plan. (See the chocolate pecan tart recipe from last year – Cooking Light).


And true, it was a lot of steps. But it was also worse every last one of them, even though I was nursing a nasty cold. The crust came out light and flaky. The pumpkin filling tasted like an actual pumpkin and I’ve declared I’ll never go back to the can again (except maybe in May). The almond crunch provided a great texture, although next time I’d only make half of it as it did slightly overpower the filling. The cranberries provided a touch of tartness to the whole dish and the cream cheese whipped topping, well, it added just the right touch at the end. Not only did it taste good, it was beautiful. Something you’d expect from a well-known restaurant in New York, which is where it came from.

Unfortunately, I can’t find the recipe online and obviously, it’s very long. If you want me to email you a copy I can. I plan to scan my copy in so I don’t lose it. Thanksgiving 2009 is only 362 days away, right?

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A few of you know I’ve been under the weather. Its really hard to think about food when you can’t smell a thing. But we’re still moving forward with the full Thanksgiving Menu, because, really, is there a choice?

There will be four of us for the main meal and a few friends stopping by through the day. Here’s what we’re whipping up.

Appetizers include:

The now traditional Tuna Tataki
Mushroom Crostini
Assortment of Cheeses, Olives and Pate

The main meal:

Cooking LIght’s Cider Brined Turkey with Herb Gravy
Barefoot Contessa’s Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes
Whole Food’s Sweet Potato Gratin
Bon Appetit’s Green Onion and Black Pepper Biscuts
Bon Appetit’s Citrus-Glazed Carrots
Bon Appetit’s Grapefruit and Avocado Salad with Coriander
(Some sort of) Stuffing

and finally, Deep Dish Pumpkin Pie with Walnut Crunch, Cranberries and Cream Cheese Whipped Topping (printed in New York Magazine this fall)

There, I think that’s enough….

I hope you all have a fabulous Thanksgiving surrounded by loved ones and lots of good grub.

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It’s Time for Clementines


Every fall the clementines pop up the grocery stores around here. And it feels like eternity since we had the fresh raspberries and blueberries of summer, followed by a short season of local apples. These little round oranges are a sight for sore eyes. And they’re fun. Just big enough for a snack on and not messy like their relatives, the orange, they’re the perfect thing to grab on your way out the door or pack in a lunch. (I ate one while driving the other day.) I always make it a challenge to take the peel of in one piece. Ha!

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… and The Cooking has Started!

But just the cranberries so far. I found this recipe in Real Food, a publication by Lunds and Byerlys. I stole a taste and it’s good. I can’t wait to add it to my plate on Thursday!

(Recipe from Real Food)

Cranberry, Dried Cherry and Ginger Conserves

1 2/3 cups dark brown suga
24 oz fresh cranberries
3/4 cup dried cherries, chopped coarsely
3 T minced candied ginger
1 large lime

In a large saucepan, bring 2 1/2 cups water and sugar to a boil. Add cranberries, cherries, ginger and a pinch of salt. Bring to a rapid boil. Reduce heat to medium-high. Grate zest of lime and add to the pot. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until cranberries pop and mixture it thick. Let cool with cover askew. Transfer to a bowl or jar, cover and refrigerate until cold. Can be stores in refrigerator for one week.

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A co-worker of mine is quite the gardener. This past summer she planted sweet potato vines around her other perennials because she thought they were pretty and provided a nice contrast to the petunias and other flowers.


This fall, while she was digging up the remnants of her garden and prepping it for a long Minnesota Winter, she pulled at the potato vine and found at the end, what else, but a sweet potato. And another. And another. Until she had a couple dozen.


She says the skin is thin and the flesh is yellow and slightly sweet. I’m not willing to try one, but I will certainly plant sweet potato vines somewhere come spring.

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I met an old friend for lunch last week and since we were meeting near her office in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, we decided to go to Hell’s Kitchen. This place has been around for a few years and I’ve never made it there. Everyone I know that’s gone there has raved about their food, especially their breakfasts. One co-worker told me I had to try the lemon-ricotta pancakes. And as much as I love pancakes, I just didn’t think I could order them for lunch. On a workday.


Fortunately for me, my friend had tried them before and insisted we order a plate for the table. So in addition to this beautiful BLT (with pepperjack cheese) and a plateful of sweet potato fries I ate one-third of an order of the pancakes. And they were soooo worth it… Lighter than air (how did they stay on the plate) and full of sharp, but not tart lemon flavor. I can’t wait to go back on a snowy Saturday morning and order them with a plate full of crisp bacon and a mug of hot tea.


But until then, you’ve got to check this place for the scenery, if not the pancakes. Decorated in red and black, this place is in the lower level of an office tower rightin the middle of downtown (9th and Nicollet). There’s a pretty big bar and a decent sized stage. My friend works in the financial industry and said her coworkers are often coming down for Happy Hour. Can you blame them?

Pancakes or no pancakes, a trip down the stairs to Hell is well worth it. Enjoy!

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Denver Eats


As reported, we recently spent a few days in the fine city of Denver. Short of the fact that it is so dry there my eyes nearly shrivel up and fall out, I like Denver. The scenery is beautiful and the city isn’t too big to figure out. Even though we were there to hang out with my newest nephew, we still had to eat and were able to find a couple local places that we’re sure to go back to.

Sunday night we went to dinner at Le Central, “The Affordable French Restaurant”, is just south of the capital and downtown. And affordable it was. It was also really dark and the photos just didn’t turn out. It appears that their specialty is mussels, which I adore, but didn’t go for that night. Husband started with the Escargot (his favorite) and then had a beautiful salmon dish. I started with a truffled puff pastry dish which is pretty mediocre, and a truly amazing and rich Beef Bourginon over pasta. It was way too much food, but so good. (I was still craving beef for some reason). I ordered a chocolate mouse cake for dessert and brought it back to the hotel because we were so tired.

I would go back, but I’d probably order the mussels (which are served with endless french fries). But the prices and the cute atmosphere really caught my attention.

The last night we were in town, I kept my camera in my purse and we enjoyed an amazing meal at Sushi Sasa just west of Lodo. I knew this place would be good when we drove by at 8pm on a MOnday and it was packed. We got the last open table. I was very impressed with the simple interior and the wide variety of dishes on the menu. We started with Miso Soup, Cucumber-crab salad and Edamame. Then we tried a dish called Atomic Shrimp Dynamite, which was shrimp and asparagus tempura mixed with spicy mayo. It was really amazing. Just hot enough without tossing you out of your chair. Next up was a beautiful platter of sushi rolls, including a roll that contained baked fish. It was really different, but amazing, and I am still craving it.

If you’re ever in Denver hit the Sushi place first and the French place if you’ve got time. Oh, and bring plenty of eye drops and lip balm. Ouch.

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We went to Wicked with the In-Laws last week and had to find a restaurant near the Orpheum for dinner. I had been to Masa once before, but for lunch with clients. It had been pretty good, so I thought it would be a great, somewhat casual, but still not a chain place for dinner. I was right. Honestly, it was the highlight of the evening.


We started with their homemade chips, served with two salsas. The green one is a tomatillo-cilantro blend, the red was a smoky chipotle salsa. Neither was very hot, but both were loaded with flavor. And the chips were light and crips. Unlike anything in the snack aisle at the store.


We also tried to Jalapeno Rellenos and the freshly made guacamole. The guacamole was amazing and surprisingly, served with cauliflower and radishes. A nice break from the chips. The jalapenos had just enough heat to wake you up, but nothing powerful.


I had been craving beef, so I went with the short ribs that were braised with onions and served with a black bean tamale. The beef was incredible tender and was so full of flavor, it was really unbelievable.


FIL went with a chicken enchilada, which was huge and looked quite impressive.


Husband and MIL both ordered the sea bass served over black beans with a pineapple salsa. They both reported that it was really, truly delicious.

We were running short on time so we ordered two quick desserts and ate them while we were putting on our coats. They were the bittersweet chocolate cake with butterscotch (?) ice cream and a tres leche cake with mango and passionfruit puree. I loved the tres leche cake, but the chocolate cake had an unusual texture. Needless to say we finished both of them. And we’ll be returning to Masa. Hopefully soon.

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Four Days in Denver


Sorry I disapeared for a few days. Sister had a baby and we had to visit. After we changed diapers, helped give a bath and spent hours holding the new little guy, we found a few great places to eat. I’ll fill you in as soon as I get to it. Meanwhile, shhhh.. he’s sleeping!

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A few months ago my friend T made this at a party. It was fabulous. And everyone loves Brie, right? How about warm, gooey, baked brie? Smothered in a raspberry sauce and cooked on a grill? Okay, so grilling season is ended yesterday around 2pm in these parts, but you could skip the grill and the cedar plank and do this the old-fashioned way… in the oven. I know I’ll be whipping it up this winter on a number of occasions, even if it’s just the two of us watching hockey. Enjoy! (thanks, T!)

Cedar Planked Brie

Soak a cedar plank in cold water for a minimum of 1 hour – this recipe suggests a plank that is 1/3 ” thick.

1 pint raspberries
2 Tbsp. slivered almonds
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
coursely ground black pepper
4 Tbsp. honey
2 small wheels (5-6 oz) Brie, Camembert or Cambozola
1-2 fresh baguettes, sliced

Grill should be medium heat – 400 degrees

Combine raspberries, almonds, thyme and black pepper. Drizzle with honey and gently mix to combine.

Remove plank from water and place Brie (or whatever cheese you decide to use) on the plank. Top each wheel with half of the mixture. Grill cover should be closed. Plank the cheese for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is golden brown and slightly puffy, tiopping is hot and almonds are light golden brown. Remove plank and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Serve with spoons to top the baguettes.

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