Monday, December 27, 2010

Crustless Quiche Lorraine

We had such a lovely Christmas holiday this year.  We were fortunate to have my Mom and Tom come visit us from North Dakota for the weekend.  Christmas day was entirely full of celebrating, cooking, and eating.  A simply wonderful holiday.  We started our morning off with Jack making sure that Santa had arrived. 

And then he went to town opening up presents.

My Mom and I made our Christmas Brunch.  We kept things fairly simple: Crustless Quiche Lorraine, Croissants, Fresh Fruit, and Mimosas.  I ordered the croissants from Williams & Sonoma.  They were incredible and easy to prepare.  We put them out on baking sheets to rise the night before.  In the morning, we topped the croissants with an egg wash;  then baked them in the oven for 15 minutes after the quiche was done.  The quiche turned out perfectly and paired very well with the croissants and fruit.

Crustless Quiche Lorraine
8 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese, divided
6 large eggs, beaten
1 cup half and half
1/2 tsp.Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease quiche/pie pan with cooking spray or butter.
Fry the bacon and green onions together in a non-stick pan until done.  Sprinkle the bacon/onion mixture in the bottom of the quiche dish.  Top with 1 cup of the Swiss cheese. 
In another bowl, stir the beaten eggs, half and half, salt, pepper, paprika, and nutmeg.  Pour into quiche dish.  Top mixture with the remaining 1 cup of Swiss cheese.  Bake the quiche for 35 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let stand 10-15 minutes before serving. 

A great way to start off Christmas day.  Next up:  Christmas Dinner.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Black Russian Cake

This really should be called Booze Cake.  I love it.  My mom introduced this recipe to me years ago. It's a regular menu item at our house during the holidays.  It just seems to compliment so many different kinds of meals.  I especially like it because it doesn't have a thick frosting to it. . .just a simple glaze.  It's cheating a bit, with the addition of the cake mix and pudding mix.  I don't care.  It's foolproof.  And tastes even better the following day.   I'm bringing this one to my in-laws for Christmas Eve dinner.

Black Russian Cake
1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1 small pkg. instant chocolate pudding (can use sugar free)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup Canola Oil
4 large eggs
1/4 cup vodka
3 Tbsp. coffee liqueur (Kahlua)
3/4 cup water

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup coffee liqueur

Grease and flour bundt pan.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, sugar, oil, and eggs.  Blend well with a mixer.  Add liquid ingredients and beat on medium for 4 minutes.  Pour into bundt pan and bake for 55-60 minutes.

 Cake is done when toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes.

Combine the glaze ingredients together with a whisk.  Invert cake onto a plate.  Poke holes in the cake with a fork.  Pour the glaze over the cake, continuing to poke holes as you glaze.

Cool the cake and sprinkle again with powdered sugar.   Instant prettiness!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Corn Chowder with Bacon, Shrimp, and Fennel

Corn chowder.  We love it at our house.  I've tried various recipes. . .Ina Garten has a winner.  This one may have Ina beat.  This one is an adaptation of  "Shrimp and Corn Chowder with Fennel" from Real Simple.  I did change it up quite a bit, adding turkey bacon,  a sweet potato instead of yellow or red potato, and used 2% milk instead of whole milk.  I also blended a cup of the corn mixture, to make it thicker.   The final result was a comforting, hearty chowder.  It was perfect for the cold winter weather we've had in Minnesota.

Corn Chowder with Bacon, Shrimp and Fennel
Adapted from Real Simple Magazine, February 2010
4-6 slices turkey bacon (or pork), cut into small pieces
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 leeks, (white and light green parts), chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
Kosher salt
Black pepper
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 8 oz. bottle of clam juice
3 cups 2%  milk
1 lb. sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 lb. cooked, peeled, and deveined medium or large shrimp
1 10 oz. package frozen corn
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Crusty bread

Saute bacon in a Dutch oven on medium-high heat until crisp.  Set aside on paper towel-lined plate.  Save pan drippings and add 1 Tbsp. butter to the Dutch oven on medium-high heat.  Add leeks and fennel to the pan; season with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes.  Stir in the flour. 
Add the clam juice, milk, and potatoes.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 12 minutes.  Stir in the corn.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, then remove at least 1 cup of the corn/milk mixture (with leeks/fennel) and blend in a blender until smooth.  Add mixture back to the Dutch oven, along with the shrimp.  Cook until the potatoes are tender and shrimp and corn are heated through, 3-5 minutes.  Stir in parsley and lemon juice.
Place chowder in bowls and season again with salt and pepper if needed.  Serve with crusty bread (sourdough works well).  Yum!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Peanut Blossoms

I'm probably going to cheat this year and buy an assortment of cookies from one of the local bakeries, Lucias or Wuollet.  However, I did want to bake Peanut Blossoms with Jack, thinking he would enjoy taking off the wrappers of Hershey's Kisses and placing them on the cookie.  When I turned to the Internet to get the recipe, I discovered an assortment of recipes. . .Pillsbury, Hershey's, Betty Crocker, and Land O Lakes.  Who would have guessed?  Here's a good taste test review of all 4 variations.  I decided to use the Land O Lakes recipe, since it has butter instead of Crisco.  I  followed most of the recipe, but used an extra large egg instead of large and dark chocolate kisses instead of milk chocolate kisses.   I also used Parker's Farm all-natural peanut butter.   They turned out pretty well. . .Jack and Courtland especially liked them. 

Peanut Blossoms
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter (all natural)
1 extra large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
48 dark chocolate candy kisses, unwrapped

Heat oven to 375.  Combine sugar, brown sugar, butter and peanut butter in a large bowl.  Beat on medium speed until fluffy.  Add the egg, vanilla, and salt, beating until well combined.  Add the flour and baking soda.  Continue beating, scraping bowl, until well mixed.
Shape the dough into 1-inch balls (if dough is too soft, refrigerate for 30-60 minutes).  Roll the balls in bowl of 1/4 sugar.  Place the balls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets (or with silpad on top).

Bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly golden brown. 

In the meantime, remove wrappers from candy kisses.

When cookies are done, immediately press a chocolate kiss in the center of each cookie. 

Remove from cookie sheet and cool completely on wire rack.

He couldn't wait for them to cool:)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chorizo-Filled Dates Wrapped in Bacon and Holiday Guacamole

We had a wine party last night.  There was a blizzard outside.  A big one.  We were amazed that our friends made the trek to celebrate with us.  For those that braved the elements and came over, we had a fantastic time.   Everyone brought an appetizer or small dish to share.  I made Chorizo-Filled Dates Wrapped with Bacon and Holiday Guacamole. 
 We originally had the dates at a wine party a few years ago, and I've been waiting for the opportunity to make them.  The original recipe is from Food and Wine, and calls for sauteing the dates on the stove.  In an effort to spend time with our guests, I figured baking them would make more sense.  I prepped them earlier in the day, then put them in the oven right before the party.  The dates were sweet and savory at the same time.  And rich.  If you wanted to have a lighter variety, you could use turkey bacon.

Chorizo-Filled Dates Wrapped in Bacon
Adapted from Food and Wine, 2008 

1 link chorizo sausage, casing removed
24 Medjool dates, pitted
12 slices of bacon, halved crosswise

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice the chorizo crosswise in thirds.  Halve each third lengthwise, then cut each half into 4 lengthwise strips to have 24 small sticks.  Stuff each date with chorizo stick and wrap bacon around date, securing with a toothpick.  Place on baking sheet and bake for 12-18 minutes, until bacon is browned.  Drain on paper towels before serving.

I made Holiday Guacamole from All About Food  last year for Christmas and remembered it was a hit with our family.  It's my favorite guacamole recipe.   I cut back on the Serrano chilies, and eliminated all the seeds. . . it's still spicy enough for most Minnesotans.   If you haven't ever removed pomegranate seeds before, cut the pomegranate into fourths and soak in a bowl of water for a few minutes.   The seeds are much easier to remove from the flesh. . .and there's less of a chance of making a mess.

Holiday Guacamole
1/3 cup chopped white onion
1/3 cup chopped red onion
3 Serrano chilies, seeds removed, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. Kosher salt
4 ripe avocados, mashed
2 Tbsp. freshly-squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds, divided
freshly ground black pepper

Mix onions, chilies, garlic, and salt in a bowl.  Add the mashed avocados and lime juice; stir gently.  Fold in 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds.  Season with ground pepper.  Store bowl in refrigerator, pressed with plastic wrap until ready to serve.  Sprinkle with remaining pomegranate seeds and serve with chips. 

Holiday parties.  Love them.  Friends, food, drink, fun:)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Peanut Clusters

Chocolate and peanut butter. Two of my favorite treats.  A perfect marriage of flavors.  When I was a kid, my mom and I would make Peanut Clusters during the holiday season.  Thank goodness no one in our family has a peanut allergy, because we all ate a handful of them.  They're super easy to make.  In fact, make two batches.  These will be gone in no time.

Peanut Clusters
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter (I use all-natural Parker's Farm)
1 cup salted peanuts, walnuts, or almonds

Melt butterscotch chips and chocolate chips with peanut butter over medium to medium-low heat in a saucepan.

Add the nuts. 

Drop by teaspoons onto waxed paper. 

 Set to chill in refrigerator.   Store in Tupperware.  My mom always puts hers in the garage:)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Halibut with Lentils and Mustard Sauce

In an effort to use what was in my pantry and freezer this last week, I decided to cook up Halibut with Lentils and Mustard Sauce for the second time.  I wasn't as fond of the mustard sauce this time around.  Courtland really liked it though. . .so if you're a fan of Dijon mustard, you probably would too.  The original recipe calls for 1 1/4 cup lentils, but I only had 1 cup and think it actually wasn't as dry as the first time.  I also soaked the lentils in a pot of water for 30 minutes, then drained them.  My favorite part of the dish is the lentil/sweet potato combo.  Sprinkled with salt and pepper, it made great leftovers for lunch.

Halibut with Lentils and Mustard Sauce
Adapted from Real Simple Magazine, October 2008
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup green lentils, soaked at least 30 minutes in water, then drained
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
4 6 oz. pieces of halibut
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 Tbsp. fresh tarragon

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes.  Add the garlic and sweet potato.  Cook for 1 minute.  Add the chicken broth and lentils.  Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp. oil in another large skillet over medium-high heat.  Season the fish with salt and pepper.  Cook until opaque, about 5 minutes each side.
In a bowl, whisk together mustard, wine, and tarragon.  Drizzle over the fish and lentils.

Served with baked asparagus.  A light and healthy meal.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tex-Mex Chili

I'm pretty sure this is my favorite chili.  After Thanksgiving dinner and eating leftovers, this meal was a pleasant alternative.   I've made it several times, and always get rave reviews.  I have mixed feelings about Rachel Ray, but I have to give her credit for coming up with a few staple recipes.  This recipe calls for ground beef, but ground turkey could be a good replacement as well.  The original recipe calls for Corn Chips (Fritos), which tastes good (and salty).  I usually have tortilla chips on hand, so often use them instead.   Makes 6 servings.

Tex-Mex Chili
Adapted from Rachel Ray Magazine,
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
15 oz. can black beans
15 oz. can pinto beans
10 oz. can tomatoes with green chiles
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
Tortilla chips

Optional toppings:
avocado, diced, salted, and sprinkled with lime juice
sour cream

In a Dutch oven or large stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the ground beef and cook for about 7 minutes.  Add the onion, garlic, chili powder and cumin.  Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the beans, with their liquid, and the tomatoes with green chiles.  Simmer about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chili is thick.  Season with salt and pepper. 

Stir in the cilantro, top with cheese, and let stand until the cheese melts, about 5 minutes. 

Serve chili topped with chips, avocado, and sour cream (if desired).  YUM!

My little guy had his first skiing weekend of the season.  He is stoked:)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Beef Short Ribs with Roasted Parsnips and Carrots

It's cold outside.   There's no denying it.  This meal will warm your body and soul.  It's hearty.  Turn your kitchen into a bistro without leaving your house.  It makes at least 6 servings, so invite a few people over. . .or don't and have leftovers the next day.  Use a good wine and enjoy a glass with your meal.  Serve with crusty bread to soak up the juices from the ribs.

Beef Short Ribs
Adapted from Bon Appetite, October 2008
4 1/2 lbs. beef short ribs
salt, pepper
4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/2 cup onion, chopped
8 oz. package of sliced mushrooms
14 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 cups dry red wine
6 fresh Italian parsley sprigs
2 bay leaves

Wash and dry short ribs.  Salt and pepper them before adding to crock pot.  Place the rest of the ingredients ingredients in crock pot.

 It should look like this.

Cook on low for about 8 hours.   Transfer ribs to serving bowl or plate.  Discard parsley sprigs and bay leaves.  Spoon fat off top of sauce and pour sauce over ribs. 

Roasted Parsnips and Carrots
Adapted from Bon Appetite, October 2008
2 lbs. parsnips, peeled
1 lb. carrots, peeled
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
freshly ground pepper (to your liking)
1 Tbsp. butter, diced into pieces
3 tsp. finely chopped fresh Italian parsley

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Peel parsnips and carrots; cut at a diagonal into 1 inch pieces.  Place veggies in Ziploc with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Shake bag and place veggies on baking sheet (coated with cooking spray).  Top veggies with small pieces of butter.   Bake for 20 minutes, then turn over veggies and bake for another 10-15 minutes.  Veggies are done when browned and easily pierced with a fork.  Top veggies with parsley.  Season again with salt and pepper if needed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Killer Salad

We had my in-laws over for dinner the other night.   Janet brought  "Killer Salad," a recipe given to her by her dear friend, Ellen Knutsen (who lives in Bismarck, ND).  This salad truly speaks for itself.  It really is a Killer Salad.  Serve it at a holiday meal, and your guests will love you.  It's on my Christmas menu for sure:)

Killer Salad
Salad greens
Feta cheese
Toasted Almonds or pine nuts
Green onions, diced

1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. Tabasco sauce
2 T. sugar
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil

Combine salad ingredients together and drizzle with dressing right before serving.   You will go back for seconds of this one:)

Jack had fun that night as well.

He's still stealing Halloween candy. . .it just doesn't lose it's appeal:)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Zumbro Cafe

Zumbro Cafe is my absolute favorite breakfast joint in Minneapolis, MN.   It's located in the Linden Hills neighborhood, close to Lake Harriet.  This little cafe consistently serves up delicious breakfasts.  It's not a greasy-spoon kind of place.  Breakfast here is made from all-natural ingredients that will make you feel energized the rest of the day.  The coffee rocks.  It's strong, and the waiters are liberal with refills.  Courtland is especially fond of their mocha.

  I usually always get the same thing, the Frittata with Portabella Mushrooms, Spinach, and Goat Cheese (I substitute feta or fontina), or the Huevos Zumbrosos.  This time I had the frittata.  It's always good.

Courtland had the Chicken Wild Rice Hash.  He usually always gets the Eggs Benedict, French Toast, or Huevos Zumbrosos.  He claims he'd likely order his standard fare next time.

Jack always gets the Teddybear Pancake.  What kid wouldn't?  We're lucky if he decides to share:)

Go early. . .it gets very busy on weekend mornings.  The tables near the door are chilly to sit at in the winter. I suggest waiting for an alternative table if offered a seat there.   The staff are attentive and efficient: even better when Jack is offered one of their little toy boxes.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Andalusian Chicken Stew

A few years ago, I was in a recipe rut.  I quickly got out of that rut after receiving the  Dinner with Jennette monthly recipes as a Christmas gift from my parents. The plan includes 12 natural food meal plans, nutritional tips,  and a grocery list for the ingredients.  Jennette also teaches classes at Wedge co-op in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis, MN.  I learned a great deal about nutrition throughout the year of trying her recipes.   Andalusian Chicken Stew is definitely one of my favorite recipes from the meal plans.  It's an ideal autumn or winter meal and is easy enough to make on a weeknight.   An added plus: it smells awesome while cooking.  My husband is thrilled when he walks through the door after work.  The kid likes it too:)

Andalusian Chicken Stew
Adapted from Jennette Turner, "Dinner with Jennette"

2 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 lb. chicken breast or thighs, cut into small bite-size pieces
2 Tbsp. flour (all-purpose or brown rice flour)
3 C. chicken stock (I use Pacific brand)
3 large carrots, sliced
6-8 garlic cloves, chopped (if large size, use less)
1-2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3 Tbsp. lemon juice, fresh or bottled
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1/4-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)

Heat butter or oil over med-high heat in a Dutch Oven or soup pot.  Add the onion and cook for 5-7 minutes. 
While onion is cooking, place the flour in a bowl, add chicken, and toss to coat flour.
Add the chicken to the onions, and cook another 5-7 minutes, stirring often.  Add the chicken stock, carrots, garlic, salt, cinnamon, black pepper, lemon juice, parsley and red pepper flakes.  Make sure to scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pot.   Bring the soup to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Adjust for salt, pepper, and lemon if needed before serving.  I normally serve this stew with a big chunk of crusty, hearty bread.   Thanks to the baker at Whole Foods for recommending Seeduction Bread-delicious!
 There you have it. . .a healthy and satisfying meal.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

German Potato Salad

When I was growing up, German Potato Salad was often served at family get togethers.  As a kid,  I didn't like it as much as the average mayonnaise-mustard laden variety.   My palate has changed, and I thought I'd try and make it as a side dish with brats and sauerkraut.  I discovered a few recipes from distant relatives, however, this one from Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland, by Beth Dooley and Lucia Watson (copyright 1994) one me over.

German Potato Salad
Adapted from Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland, by Beth Dooley and Lucia Watson

2 1/2 lbs. boiling potatoes
4 strips of bacon (use the real stuff)
1 cup peeled, sliced red onions
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
salt and freshly ground pepper

Cut potatoes and place into saucepan with salted water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and boil, partially covered, until tender (about 10-15 minutes).  Drain.
Meanwhile, fry the bacon in a skillet until crisp.  Remove bacon, reserving fat in skillet, and drain on paper towel.   Crumble bacon when cooled.  Saute onions in fat until they are golden.  Add the cider vinegar and the potatoes to the skillet and toss.  Turn off heat, add bacon and parsley.  Salt and pepper to taste.

 This salad can be served warm or at room temperature and is a perfect side dish for brats,  grilled meat, chicken, or pork. 

Monday, November 1, 2010


I celebrated my birthday this last weekend. . .a great year behind me and an exciting new one ahead of me. Courtland took me to Lucia's Restaurant in Uptown Minneapolis for dinner before we met up with friends to celebrate Halloween.   I love Lucias.  It's always fabulous.  The restaurant is cozy, service is spot-on, and the food. . . oh, the food. . simply devine.  The menu changes weekly, depending what's in season.   I didn't take any pictures of our food this time. . .I really wanted to enjoy my dinner with Courtland.

While Courtland was parking our car, I was looking over the wine list and was undecided on what bottle of wine to order.  The waiter was nice enough to let me have a taste of each bottle of wine before ordering.  It's those extra touches that go a long way.

 We started off with a basket of bread (the millet flax is a must to try) and olives (from the wine bar menu).  Courtland said they were the best olives he's ever had. . .and I agreed.  They had a hint of orange. . .and anise, along with fresh herbs.

 Courtland had a small cup of the soup of the day, which was potato soup.  It was rich and creamy with bits of bacon and chive.  I ordered simple mixed greens.  They tasted like they were fresh from the garden. 

For our entrees, Courtland surprised me and got Squash Pancakes with Cranberry Salsa, Sage Butter, Quinoa, Brussel Sprouts, and Pepitas.   He loved it.  I did too:)  It was the perfect combination of autumn vegetables.  Per the recommendation of our waiter,  I had the Day Boat Scallops with Chardonnay Lemon Beurre Blanc, Spinach-Leek Risotto, and Sugar Snap Peas.   The dish was fantastic.  I shared with Courtland, and he agreed. 

The waiter brought out a plate of dessert choices, and we decided on the Chocolate Roulade Cake.  It was a decadent dark chocolate cake, with a creme and whole raspberry filling.  It was a rich and incredibly satisfying dessert to end our meal.

Go to Lucias. . .you will not be disappointed with whatever you choose to order off the menu.  Lucia's To Go next door has a variety of breads, pastries, sandwiches, soups, and cookies.  Check out the dog bar on the website:)

Next blog update. . .a recipe from Lucia Watson and Beth Dooley's cookbook, Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Grilled Tuna Steaks with Mango Salsa and Roasted Turnips

We found ourselves at home on Saturday night with no babysitter, yet still wanting a nice dinner.  I had an abundance of vegetables, including turnips, from our last CSA box.  Other than using turnips in a soup, I rarely cook with them.  Court wanted to grill tuna steaks, and I decided to roast our turnips as a side dish.  They actually paired very well together.  The tuna steak with mango salsa is an old recipe I copied  from Bobby Flay's cookbook, Bold American Food.   The original recipe calls for a red pepper crust, but I just use salt, pepper and olive oil.  I normally double the salsa recipe.

Gilled Tuna Steaks with Mango Salsa
3-4 Sushi-grade Tuna Steaks
olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Mango Salsa
1/2 cup chopped mango
 3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
 2 T. cilantro
1 tsp. diced jalapeno pepper
2 Tbsp. chopped red onion
salt, pepper to taste

Mix ingredients together and set aside.

Preheat Grill.  Rub tuna steaks with olive oil and season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Grill tuna on high heat for 3 minutes on each side or until browned.  You can grill the tuna longer if you want itcooked through, however, pink on the inside tastes best.  Let the tuna sit for few minutes.  Serve it topped with mango salsa.

Roasted Turnips
3-4 small size turnips
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut turnips into quarters, then divide quartered pieces.  Spread on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Roast in oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until golden brown.  Serve immediately.

We added a mixed greens salad and there you have it. . .an amazingly healthy and delicious meal.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saffron Mpls

A couple of years have passed  since we last dined at Saffron in downtown Minneapolis.   The restaurant, run by brothers Saed & Sameh Wadi, specializes in contemporary Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine.  Chef Sameh Wadi is the only Minneapolis Chef that has competed against Iron Chef Morimoto on the Iron Chef America Show on Food TV Network. We had the opportunity to meet up with our friends, Keith and Trycia, last Saturday night.  We didn't have reservations, but we lucked out and got seats at the bar.  Dinner was a treat. 

We started out with drinks and a plate hummus (drizzled with olive oil and served with bread).  Goodness. . .very similar recipe from Holy Land Deli's hummus, but fresher.  Yum.

Then we ordered a few Mezze Plates to share.  First, the Giant Beans. 

We also got the  Haloumi Cheese with Saffron Tomato Jam and Mint and the Koftka Meatballs.  Sorry, no pictures.  We ate them too quickly:)  They rocked.

Trycia and I got the scallops (of course) with crab croquettes, tarragon saffron autumn-vegetable chowder. Delicious.


Courtland had the Duck Breast with goat cheese-medjool date tart, thyme, and caramelized onions.  Incredible.

Keith had the Chicken with eggplant lovash, spices, and tahini.   Keith liked the chicken, and left most the lovash on his plate.

Dessert: Chocolate Ganache Cake with black olive ice cream, caramel sauce, and olive oil.  The ganache with the caramel sauce was a rich and sweet treat.  The olive oil taste in the ice cream was a little too much for me.

Overall, we had wonderful dinner.  Next time, I'd like to go back and try more small plates or the Happy Hours specials.  Lovely night out with friends.  

Monday, October 18, 2010

Apple Cider Braised Kobacha Squash and Shefzilla Marinated Steamed Fish

 I made this dinner last week after work.  It's doable on a weeknight, if you allow yourself time to prep and can multitask.  It's even more doable if there are two cooking; one to grill and the other to cook the squash.  I would make it again in a heartbeat-especially the fish. 

I am in over my head with squash from our CSA box.  We got a red kobacha squash and I didn't have a clue what to do with it.  I searched on the Internet, and found this recipe Not Eating Out in NY .  I made a few modifications; and have to be honest that this was way more time consuming than I thought it would be.  Apparently my knives are dull and cutting through the kobacha was one challenging task.  But, the end result was worth it.  It was sweet and savory dish all in one.  On the plus side, it makes lots of leftovers.  I wouldn't recommend peeling the squash beforehand, or it will turn out mushy.

Apple Cider Braised Kabocha Squash
1 kabocha squash, seeds removed and sliced into thing wedges
1 onion, sliced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped apricots
2 cups apple cider
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
pinch of red chili flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Slice and trim squash pieces.  Add squash to hot pan (med-high) with 2 Tbsp. olive oil.  Cook squash 2 minutes each side, seasoned with salt and pepper,  until browned.  Transfer to plate. 
In same pan, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil and cook onions until caramelized, about 5-10 minutes.  Add garlic, chili flakes, apricots, and squash.  Add the apple cider, cover, and simmer at least 10-15 minutes until most of liquid is cooked off.  Add more salt, pepper as needed.  Add butter, stir, and serve.

Shefzilla Marinated and Steamed Fish
 I was devastated when Chef Stewart Woodman's restaurant, Heidi's Minneapolis, burned down this last spring and have been anxiously awaiting the re-opening of the new Heidi's in Uptown.  In the meantime, I've been following his blog,,  and pre-ordered his cookbook, Shefzilla: Conquering Haute Cuisine at Home that came out earlier this month.   The cookbook has already gotten quite a few honorable mentions here Heavy Table, here Star Tribune, and here  Dear Dara Blog, Minnesota Monthly .   Go buy this cookbook.  Give it as a Christmas gift.  The pictures are awesome and it  is written from the heart. 

I decided to pair the kobacha squash with Shefzilla's recipe for marinated and steamed fish (entire recipe is Marinated and Steamed Tilapia with Rosemary Pilaf), however, I used Cod instead of Tilapia.  It's what I had on hand.  I skipped on making the rice pilaf, so it's on my list to try next time.  The fish turned out just lovely- light and flavorful.  A perfect pairing for the squash. 

Marinated Cod (or other white fish)
adapted from Shefzilla, Stewart Woodman
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Zest and 1 1/2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
Zest and 2 Tbsp. juice from 1 orange
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 to 2 lbs. fish

1. Whisk together olive oil, zests and juices, thyme, and salt in a medium bowl.  Add fish and marinate, refrigerated, for 15 minutes.  Preheat grill.
2.  Remove fish from marinade and place on aluminum foil.  Fold up sides of foil to create a bowl and pour in marinade.  Seal package by rolling together opposite sides of foil. 
3.  Place fish on hot grill: cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Remove from grill and serve immediately.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tunisian Vegetable Stew

My in-laws, Steve and Janet, just moved to Minneapolis, MN from Bismarck, ND and had us over for the first family dinner this weekend.  We have been blessed with summer-like weather and got to sit outside to enjoy our feast.  Steve grilled up some steaks and Janet made a delicious stew from  "Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home," by The Moosewood Collective (copyright 1994).  It was fantastic.  I had to share the recipe.  The original recipe calls for 1/8 tsp. of cayenne pepper, however, Janet sometimes leaves it out of the dish.   Jack especially like the chickpeas.

Tunisian Vegetable Stew

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onions
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cups thinly sliced cabbage
dash of salt
1 large green pepper, cut into thin strips
2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3 cups undrained canned tomatoes, chopped (28 oz. can)
16 oz. can drained chickpeas
1/3 cup currants
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

salt to taste
grated feta cheese (Mediterranean kind)
toasted sliced almonds

In a large skillet, saute the onions in the olive oil for 5 minutes until softened.  Add the cabbage and sprinkle with salt.  Saute for at least another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the green pepper, coriander, turmeric,  and cinnamon to the skillet and saute for 1 minute.  Stir in tomatoes, chickpeas, and currants.  Simmer, covered, for at least 15 minutes.  Add the lemon juice and salt to taste.

Serve the stew topped with feta and sliced almonds.  Can be served on top of rice and could easily be eaten as a vegetarian meal. 

The clan hanging out in the backyard.