Archive for December, 2008


I know the holiday shopping season is coming to an end, but there’s one store that I just have to mention. It’s called the Golden Fig. It’s on Grand Avenue in St. Paul (just a couple blocks east of Victoria). It’s also next door to a great pet store called Don’t Make Me Beg, but really it’s about the Food, not just the neighborhood. I first heard about the Golden Fig by shopping at her booth at the St. Paul Farmers Market. Then I went to the store. It is full of local food goodies, everything from unique margarita mix, the beautiful cookies above, locally-raised meat, cheese and milk, and I could go on forever. I made it there two days in a row earlier this month and I didn’t get out of there either time without buying a couple of treats. The best part is that they really focus on local products. Most vendors are from Minnesota, some are from Wisconsin, but all value quality over quantity. Regardless, they have an endless supply of gifts or just treats for yourself. And they have those treats year-round. Yum!

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I am so happy!

A friend, and fellow blogger, from Colorado made the amazing Chocolate Pomegranate Torte I posted last week. And if it tasted even half as good as these amazing photos, I think I might just need to try it.

Here’s her recap and a quick word of advice:

“You HAVE to make the cake! It was delicious! I didn’t smooth out the glaze very well, but I don’t think it would be hard to do if you had the right tools. I just kind of let mine run over the sides and it looked good. My husband said he’d pay $8 a slice! Ha ha. Pomegranate sees are a must to garnish. The extra little tart crunch with the rich chocolate cake really seals the deal.

I don’t recommend making it with your 4 year old daughter though, because you may get distracted the first time around and add 2 1/4 CUPS flour instead of 2 1/4 OZ flour. Then you have to start all over!”


I think she’s even talked me into making it. She also mentioned that the jelly was the only difficult part, so maybe I’ll cheat and find something good at the Golden Fig or Midtown Global Market. Or, since it’s below zero here, I’ll spend some quality time with my stove and make the whole thing from scratch.

Until then, I’m looking for cheap flights to Denver to try a piece!


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We were fortunate enough to visit the newest hot spot in town, Moto-i. If you live in the Twin Cities and don’t live under a rock, you’ve probably heard about this new place. It’s a sake brew-pub. Yes, sake. And it’s very cool. We were invited to a private party last weekend and had just a sampling of the magnificent food and a sip of the sake,but at some point we’re going back for a full dinner and a whole big glass of the luscious stuff.

And they’ve been getting a lot of good press. Here’s an article from www.twincities.com and one from MN Monthly, and another from the Strib. So, stop by and warm up with a glass of sake.

Sorry about the quality of the photo, it was crowded and I was hungry!

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Photo from Finecooking.com

While I was standing in line at the grocery store the other day I picked up a copy of Fine Cooking magazine because this Chocolate Pomegranate Torte was on the cover. After my last two cake-baking fiascos, I’m not sure if I’m up to trying it. But I sure would like to taste it. Directions are after the jump (they’re long). Email me when I can come over for a taste!


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I offered to bring dessert to a pARTy last weekend and of course I planned to bring a chocolate cake. But for the second time in a row, my cake-baking ability needs a reboot (Jaime – Help!). I chose to make the Chocolate-Coffee Gingerbread Cake from Epicurious. Everything was going beautifully, the batter tasted great (oops), it looked great, it didn’t overflow the bundt pan, etc, until I flipped the cake out. It was wet and gooey on the top. I sent it back into the oven and after 25 minutes it was still not done. I flipped it over and put it back in, now upside down, on a cookie sheet. Still not done. So finally I gave up and decided to pick up some Cupcakes at Cupcake because they’re really quite splendid anyway.


But I brought the cake with me to show off my failed attempt, and you know what? They ate it! Almost all of it. And they loved it. And even requested the recipe. Maybe it was the wine. Or maybe they are good enough friends that they got over the aesthetic characteristics of my baking.

Either way, I want to try it again. This time in a different bundt pan. I used a silicon pan and I’m convinced that was the problem. Anyone else heard of that?

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I’ve been meaning to get to the Citizen Cafe for a few months now. I’ve heard mixed reviews; everything from “best meal ever” to “never going back”. But it’s so close to the house and I love the everyday-people-vibe they’re trying to achieve. But my review? Bland. Nothing was really wrong with anything.The space is quiet and a little bland. The server failed to mention the specials. And the food was just, sort of, there.


Husbands burger was good, but the homemade ketchup had no flavor (bland) and there were no other accessories.


My shrimp po-boy was, you guessed it, bland. The shrimp were perfectly cooked, succulent and warm, but overall the sandwich was boring, and well, bland.

But I think I’ll go back. The shrimp were prepared too professionally to not give it another chance. I would like to try breakfast, or maybe an entree, but I’m tempted to bring a bottle of hot sauce.

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We stopped at Chocolate Celeste last week to pick up some goodies for some clients and man, oh, man was I impressed. I hinted last week at the conversation I had with Celeste’s owner and chocolatier, Mary Leonard, but you really need to see the chocolates as well. This first photo is of their new Asian Chocolate line. Flavors include pear, sake and ginger. I bought a box for Christmas Eve. If I can wait that long.

Chocolate Celeste is located on University Ave just east of Hwy 280. That’s right, smack dab, in the center of the city. So, really, unless you live out of state, there’s no excuse fo not stopping by to get some Holiday chocolate.

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Ever since Crate & Barrel came out with their famous Sea Salt Caramels, I’ve been addicted. This year, I decided to make my own. And while they were a lot of work, they were so, so, so, worth it!


We started with a recipe from About.com. It’s just what popped up from a Google search. Making the caramel was the most intimidating part. I had to watch the temperature and it took much longer than I expected. It was fascinating, however, to watch the caramel go from a butter yellow to a rich brown. I wasn’t sure how they would set up… if they’d be too hard or too soft. (One thing I’ll note, when it says to use a large saucepan, use a large saucepan. I nearly had caramel all over the cook top.) Finally they reached the right temperature, 157° I think, and I poured them into an 8×8 pan lined with foil. I let them setup for a day at room temperature and then moved on to the, um, hard part.


Tempering the chocolate. I had never tempered chocolate before, so I recruited Husband to help me out. And good thing I did, because not only had my candy thermometer lost all of its numbers, but we did have to improvise here and there. We set 2/3 of the chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water and brought it to what we thought was 110°. I can’t be sure, because, um, there were no numbers below 200° on my thermometer. But anyway, when the chocolate was melted we removed it from the heat and added the rest of the chocolate. At this point we started using the meat/probe thermometer, which at least we could read. The temp came down and went up and came down and went up. The directions said when it read 88° to put it back on the simmering water to reach 91° and remove it and it would be ready. By the time our chocolate came down to 90° we were ready to dip the caramels. So we did. First with toothpicks and eventually with chopsticks. When the chocolate was still wet, I sprinkled them with more Sea Salt. I have to say that we aren’t going to win any awards for most beautiful candy, but man, do they ever taste good.


I just have to add that after visiting a local chocolate shop today I learned a bit about chocolate, what we may have done wrong, and how to improve our chocolate experience next time. Stay tuned for a post about Chocolate Celeste and Lessons from a Chocolatier.

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I came home from the grocery store last weekend with a loaf of Challah. I love this kind of bread. Husband REALLY likes this kind of bread. So after having a few slices with dinner on Saturday, we made Challah French Toast Sunday morning. I used Ina Garten’s (The Barefoot Contessa) recipe and it was great. It turned out to be toasty on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. Delicious, and quick!

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Every year for as long as I can remember, I’ve gone to the Dayton’s 8th Floor Holiday Exhibit. The Exhibit changes each year and I can remember seeing everything from the Nutcracker to Harry Potter. This year the theme is “A Day in the Life of an Elf.” The Exhibit is always sweet and colorful and full of surprises. But the best part is at the end and no, it’s not Santa. But the Big Gingerbread Man cookies. Even though the Dayton’s I grew up with has morphed into a Macy’s, the cookies are pretty close to what I remember. I’m sure they’re no longer baked on site, but it’s the cookie that’s important, not the bakery.

The Exhibit is open until the end of the year, so stop by, or at least just pick up a cookie and Enjoy!

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