Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

What I’m Eating: Roasted Cauliflower, Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Monday, November 18th, 2013

 

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Bacon Brussels Sprouts

Roasted vegetables, especially cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, on a restaurant menu get me every time. They’re never mushy, often seasoned with care and creative flair, and they taste like an indulgence. True, edges may be charred and I’ve had cauliflower so drenched in olive oil that I’ve been tempted to blot the floweret with my cloth napkin. But most of the time the dish becomes one of the meal’s highlights.

I roast veggies at home, too. Kale and cabbage would work, I suppose, but the leaves and shreds don’t appeal to me as much as the bite-sized chunks of cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

Simply Roasted Vegetables:  Wash, dry and cut veggies and place them in a bowl. Sprinkle to taste with olive oil and season with your choice of herbs, seasonings, and salt and pepper. Stir to evenly distribute the oil. Place the veggies on a baking sheet and roast at 350o for 30 to 40 minutes. I opt for moderate heat and longer cooking time as there’s less chance of burned edges.Serve with a splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Veggies take to seasonings like meat does to rubs and sauces. In Bacon Brussels Sprouts above, I broiled a few strips of bacon, then added the chopped bacon and bacon fat as needed to the halved, washed Brussels sprouts. I tossed this mixture with half slices of white onion, turmeric, Worcestershire sauce and finished it just before serving with fresh lemon juice and cracked rock salt.

I’m experimenting often with turmeric these days. It teams very well with my stand-by favorite, smoked Spanish paprika, as in the Cauliflower-Asparagus Roast pictured below. I sprinkled the vegetables with the spices and then drizzled olive oil and tossed before placing in a single layer on a baking sheet.

An idea for your Thanksgiving table?

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Cauliflower-Asparagus Roast

 

 

 

Salsa or Gazpacho? It Depends

Monday, August 26th, 2013

One day it dawned upon me that I have the same intention when making salsa or making the chunky summer soup, gazpacho. Either way, I’m going for a tomato base with veggies and a complex mix of sweet, salty and sour flavors, plus heat from chiles. That same day, I realized that most of the ingredients are identical, save a little more cilantro in the salsa and chopped cucumber added to the gazpacho. But, really, the combinations change every time. Jalapeno or habanero? Lemon or lime juice? Red or yellow or white or green onions or all four? Garlic cloves, garlic chives, or shallots? Red, green, yellow or orange sweet peppers? Salt or Vulcan Salt? Ground Black Pepper–always a resounding “Yes!” to that.

Today’s version started with the beautiful, meaty tomatoes from the Nicollet Mall Farmer’s Market, Thursdays, in Downtown Minneapolis. My own garden finally offered the first and then a second ripened San Marzano tomato to add to the mix. Lemon-colored peppers, green onions, chopped garlic cloves. I can’t help but stop and admire the burst of colors at this point.

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The vegetables always outdo themselves. The seasonings take a bit more thought. I use fresh lemon or lime juice and a splash of olive oil. Vinaigrette calls for about 1/3 lemon juice to 2/3 oil. I flip those proportions and lean into the lemon or lime juice for an assertive, bracing quality to the dish. Sometimes, I augment the chiles’ heat with Crystal Hot Pepper Sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. If gazpacho has the upper hand, I splash in some Worcestershire sauce. Instead of giving you exact amount, I advise calibrating these ingredients by your taste preferences as I do for mine.

Before the mix

Before the mix

The chunkier the tomato, the more the dish tends toward gazpacho. Yet, it’s easier to scoop a salsa’s single, large tomato chunk onto a tortilla chip (in Minneapolis/St. Paul, I recommend those from El Burrito Mercado, sold across the metro area and in their St. Paul HQ). OK, it may be even easier to scoop the more uniformly, chopped vegetables. It just depends.

For certain, I know that from now until frost, salsa/gazpacho will be on the menu almost daily.

Sweet, indeed!

Friday, March 1st, 2013
Tah Dah! Roasted Sweet Potato Burrito

Tah Dah! Roasted Sweet Potato Burrito


I’m craving spring, but the crocus and tulips are tucked under the snow.

Spring with its crocus, tulips, and daffodils has to wait out the snow. And, so must I.

Spring with its crocus, tulips, and daffodils has to wait out the snow. And, so must I.

To cheer myself, I made this a fruit- and veggie-focused day. My sweet supper idea satisfied my appetite and my spring-starved spirit. Step One: Peel one sweet potato, saving the peelings for a Trigger Kong Snack tomorrow. Cut into fries, about 1/2″ wide. Roast with a little olive oil in 400 degree F oven for 20 minutes. Turn them and roast another 10 minutes.

Sweet potatoes, nicely browned

Sweet potatoes, nicely browned

See result above:  I lined a whole-wheat tortilla with fresh green salad tossed with cherry tomatoes, green onions, and vinaigrette. I laid the fries over the salad and added a heaping spoonful of corn and black bean salsa. A dab of guacamole would have been nice, too.

Everyday eating is too important to leave to celebrity chefs and media personalities

Friday, April 20th, 2012

I once was a food writer for a metro newspaper food section. My beat was writing about food at home. Food for family meals and snacks. Food for parties. Food for holidays. I tested quinoa recipes in 1981. I interviewed a grandmother who baked gluten-free treats for her grandkids. I wrote about the “latest” research linking a high-fiber diet to lower cholesterol levels. One story featured a Minneapolis woman whose particular Greek cookies were considered the best in the local Greek community. Every recipe in every story was tested in my kitchen: brioche, pickles, roll-your-own-rice paper bundles, chicken salad with edible flowers. My editor and my fellow writer did the same with their stories.

The editor-in-chief of said metro daily, decreed that restaurants were entertainment. Our food section supplied ideas for people who went to the grocery store and came home to cook. Any chef recipes we printed were adapted to the home audience.

I say all this to make a distinction between food as entertainment and food as nourishment in every sense, which may include entertainment, but only as an additional factor to health, well being, satisfaction, sharing and making time for and with others.

Every day eating is too important to leave to the celebrity chefs and media food personalities, whose success, creativity, and business savvy, I laud. It just seems wrong to me that culinary education has become a high and holy calling that at best leads to inspiration for the viewer and media and financial success for the star, and at worst glorifies absolutely horrid eating habits.

Celebrity Chef Paula Deen

Everyday eating is really, quite ordinary. It doesn’t have to be ready for prime time.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are the core of your state of health, the basis of your children’s life-long well being, the building blocks of every day of your life.

What if your daily food intake isn’t entertainment, something to keep you distracted from life’s challenges and problems? What if what you eat every day is survival, itself? What if the most commonplace thing you do every day is the most important? Cooking healthy, delicious food has extraordinary implications for the rest of your life.

Physics Coming to a Kitchen Near You?

Monday, February 13th, 2012

It’s no secret: cooking is science. I studied physics, organic chemistry, and biochem to learn food science at Iowa State University in the bright ages before the internet, cell phone apps, and a latte in every hand. The degree was Home Economics Journalism.

Flash forward to 2012: The august Harvard University and its College of Engineering and Applied Science showcases  the wonders of this same science in the  wildly popular course, simply named, “Science and Cooking.”  Little more than half of the 700 students wanting to take the first course were given a place in the class and lab.

On February 9, Harvard physicist David Weitz brought his wonders of applied physics to the University of Minnesota (UM). The audience crowded into first a very large lecture hall and then, into another, slightly smaller. Weitz (who repeatedly reminded us, “I am not a cook. I know nothing about cooking.”) proceeded to write equations on the board and talk about phase transition while he cooked an egg; described gels while he encased a dollop of yogurt in a alginate (gel) casing, and explain emulsification while churning oil and milk into a solid and later, blending the more familiar emulsion of eggs, oil, and a bit of Dijon mustard into mayonnaise.

Granted, unlike the Harvard students, we didn’t get to hear from the El Bulli’s Ferran Adria or Blue Hill’s Dan Barber, or even Harold McGee who wrote On Food and Cooking in 1984 and rewrote and expanded it for a 2004 printing. No matter. This crowd, skewed to the marketing-desirable demographic of 20 to 40, watched with admiring attention for an hour and 45 minutes.

Could the science of cooking be the next home-cooking trend?

Pine Ridge: Seeds of Hope and a Buffalo Snack

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Tonight, the ABC program, 20/20, devoted its entire program to Pine Ridge, the town and the reservation, Land of the Lakota,  in southwestern South Dakota. On Hidden America: Children of the Plains, Diane Sawyer rode a horse, wore a dancing shawl, and met Lakota in schools, business, law, and recovery. Those she interviewed painted a story with seeds of hope in a community awash in alcoholism, diabetes, and teen pregnancy. If there can be a Lakota Spring and a better future for Lakota children, these are the people who will help make it happen.

There’s a food angle in Sawyer’s portrayal of Pine Ridge. She covered it in two ways.  First, a Subway restaurant opened on Pine Ridge and a customer exclaimed that she hadn’t eaten a cucumber since she couldn’t remember. The report portrayed the restaurant as offering veggies in a food desert.

Second, the report featured the Tanka company, a home-grown Lakota business that makes and sells buffalo and cranberry-based snack sticks, sausages, and hot dogs, no doubt inspired by the traditional tribal mainstay, pemmican made of pounded buffalo meat and dried wild berries. The products with such names as Tanka Wild, Tanka Bars, Tanka Bites, and Tanka Dogs are gluten-, nitrates-, msg-, and hormone-free. Sawyer reported the Tanka Bars are available at 4000 outlets around the U.S., including Whole Foods. I’m making a trip there tomorrow to find a Tanka bar and have a taste.

To be continued….

 

Food Friend: Lisa Golden Schroeder

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

 

In cat years, Lisa and I have been friends forever, since the dawn of our food careers.  We’ve collaborated on dozens of food photographs and made each other laugh, many times. She makes it look easy to make food beautiful and she shares her talents as a food stylist, teacher, writer, recipe developer, and lover of the food in general. Learn more about Lisa and food styling at Foodesigns.com and check our her e-zine, Tweezer Times.

 

Food Legends

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Family food legends have a way of nourishing body and soul. 2011 marked the Minnesota State Fair’s inaugural Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance’s Heirloom Recipe Contest. I  joined in the judging to honor slices of cherished Minnesota family history. Eighteen women and men, aged 24 to 70, each displayed a story and a prepared recipe. The judges tasted potato soup, chocolate cake, ginger cookies, butterflake rolls , and perfectly cooked spare ribs with homemade sauerkraut.

Four stories and recipes broke out of the pack as the winners.

1st Place: Roberta Casey, St. Paul, MN. We laughed out loud at Roberta Casey’s story of her grandmother’s Pretzel Cookies and the lengths to which Roberta and her cousins went to get more than their fair share. Casey’s display was accurate right down to the layers of plastic wrap she described as being essential to her grandmother’s storage method. Hilma Cherney Rivan passed away at age 97. The family served Pretzel Cookies at her funeral reception.

2nd Place: Gwendolyn Swenson, North Branch, MN. Swenson used peaches for this version of Fruit Upside-Down Cake, presented on a Depression glass plate on a vintage doily. The crumb and flavor of the cake were excellent. Swenson noted: “I have been making the recipe for nearly 50 years. Mom is nearly 84 years old. So between the two of us, we been making this recipe for over 70 years.”

3rd Place:  Natalie Tangen, West St. Paul, MN.  Tangen told her grandparent’s touching love story and described the hard-working life Louise and Fred Paez shared. Members of the family still make Louise’s Spanish Rice and eat it rolled up in homemade tortillas. “Her rice with tortillas was simple fare, but lovingly made by her beautiful hands.”

4th Place: Josette Repke, Plymouth, MN, Wash-Day Supper. Josette remembers this  surprising delicious Wiener Hot Dish with Boiled Potatoes (or, if you prefer, Hot Dog Casserole) from Mondays of her childhood, the day the wash was always done.

Read the winner’s essays and try their recipes and read about previous contests.

The Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance, based in Chicago, debuted the competition in 2009 in Illinois and has since expanded to Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, and this year to Minnesota and Missouri, with plans to take the contest to more state fairs next year. FeedstuffsFoodLink.com–From Farm to Fork co-sponsors the event. Watch GMFA for information about 2012 participating fairs and information about how to enter.

(New) Friends and Recipes: What Time Doesn’t Change

Monday, June 6th, 2011

For a long time, I’ve been in the habit of imagining what some people I meet may have looked like in their younger days. It started, I think, with a work colleague who was about 15 years older than I. She was elegant and lovely, a very kind and fun person. Her face had aged early and she occasionally commented that she missed being beautiful. In my mind’s eye, I could ‘see’ her as an incomparable beauty in years past. For all she had become and accomplished, she was no longer beautiful in that dewy 20-year old way.

While I had liked the way I looked, I’d reserved the word beautiful for other people and in turn, I’d rarely been called beautiful in features. I found it fascinating that my friend believed she had lost status as a beauty as she aged. At that time, she was under 40, far from old in any way.

Last week I joined a group of eight women. Each of us knew at least two of the guests. One knew every one of us. We’d all gone to Iowa State University in the 70’s. Each has weathered storms in her life. All were smart, lively, interesting women.

I looked around that table, imagining how each of us had looked as a college freshman or junior and how we’d each embraced our lives. The guest of honor commented to one woman: “You get the award for having changed the least,” while said woman laughed and said, “Really?”

For my part, based on the three women I’ve known since journalism school at ISU, each of us grew into the essence that was wholly apparent then: Raeanne’s

exuberant creativity; Sue’s practical competence and centered joy; Heather’s

creative pragmatism and peerless organizational skills.

I sat there marveling at what each of us had become as fully formed women. Those I knew and those I’d just met, beautiful, every one.

And of course, there was food. Heather, planner extraordinaire, hosted us, made assignments, and offered the appetizers and wine. Liz,

who I’d just met, brought the main dish salad, Liz’s Dijon Chicken Salad. The distinctive Dijon-mayonnaise dressing had layers of flavor. It’s one of the best I’ve tasted. Raeanne and Sue ‘art directed’ the photo. In the next few days, I’ll post two more recipes from a memorable evening

Liz credits the recipe to her friend Doris Fortino, who lives in Lucca, Italy and owns an inn.

Liz’s Dijon-Mayonnaise Chicken Salad

 

 

 

2 to 3 lbs. of boneless chicken breasts

Fresh thyme or other fresh herbs

Lemon pepper

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup blanched pea pods, sliced as desired. Or use sugar snap peas, blanched

In medium saucepan, place chicken, herbs, lemon pepper and water to cover. Cut a sheet of cooking parchment to exact size of pan, using the lid as a template. Cut an X in the middle with scissors to allow steam to escape. Bring chicken and herbs to a simmer. Cover with parchment and simmer for 20 minutes. Cool and slice into 3/4-inch cubes.

Drop pea pods into boiling water for about 1 minute. Remove and plunge into ice water to cool. Drain, dry and slice, as desired.

Meanwhile, toast almonds on baking sheet in 300° oven, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In medium bowl, combine cooled chicken and peas. Stir in Dijon-Mayonnaise Dressing (see below). Sprinkle with toasted almonds. Serve on lettuce leaves, croissants, or bread of your choice. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Dijon-Mayonnaise Dressing

Try this dressing as a dipping sauce for crab or salmon cakes. Change it up by stirring in chopped green onions, chopped red bell peppers, and/or fresh herbs.

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup oil
Soy sauce to taste

In small bowl, combine all ingredients. mix well. Makes 1 3/4 cups dressing.

Rhubarb. Spring. Baking.

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

On Sunday, I enjoyed the pleasures available only on a late May morning in a friend’s kitchen, a friend with a huge rhubarb patch and a baker’s white (flour) thumb. Christine and her husband, Scott welcomed me overnight at their home on a cattle ranch in northeastern Nebraska. For supper Scott grilled pork chops from animals raised nearby and asparagus Christine had harvested that morning from their garden. (They would have served their own beef, but their guest, sadly, is allergic.) All delicious, served with generous helpings of warm conversation.

In the morning, I said, “Something smells wonderful!”

“Rhubarb muffins,” Christine told me. She bakes often and does it without fuss. Another pile of slim stalks lay in the kitchen sink. Later in the day, after I left, she’d make and serve a rhubarb dessert to friends. Her main focus, though, these days is completing her PhD thesis in nursing with an emphasis on qualitative care for elders.

We sat down to  warm muffins, hot tea, and cold orange juice. I ate two muffins.  Well, ok, two-and-a-half. Christine had stirred black walnut extract into the batter, adding another layer of flavor.

Prairie breakfast. Prairie air. Plenty fun!

Christine-style Rhubarb Muffins

Christine: friend, baker, experimental cook, gardener, PhD candidate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 tsp vanilla

1 cup buttermilk, fresh or dried  equivalent

1 1/2 cups diced rhubarb

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 tsp black walnut flavoring

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Topping:

2 tsp melted butter

2/3 cup sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

In medium bowl, combine brown sugar, oil, egg, milk and vanilla. Add rhubarb, nuts, and flavoring. Stir in dry ingredients, just until mixed. Spoon into prepared muffin tins, either greased or with paper liners. Combine topping and press gently onto muffin batter. Bake in 350° F for 20 to 25 minutes until wooden pick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean. Makes 18 muffins.