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.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Apple Crostada

I'm scared of pie.  It's intimidating to bake.  It takes time. . .and crisco.  My mother-in-law bakes a rockstar Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.  And who doesn't love Pumpkin Pie at Thanksgiving?  Those are the only 2 kinds of pie I ever eat.  Ever.  Last week, Jack was insistent on baking Apple Pie.  How could I get out of this one?  Apple Crostada.   I used Ina Garten's recipe from the Barefoot Contessa Parties! cookbook.  It can also be found here on  Food Network.   I followed the recipe almost exactly; except I used Haralson  (4 small/medium size) apples, per the advice from a farmer at the Kingfield Farmers Market.  He knew what he was talking about.  The apples were perfect. 

I'm also slightly afraid of using my food processor, however, with the help of my Mom, Step-dad,  and Jack. . .we pulled off making the crust.

The recipe is a bit time-consuming, but worth the work. . .the crostada was so pretty and tasted great.  I like to think it was easier than baking a pie.  And, the recipe makes 2 crusts (1 to freeze), so I have an excuse to bake it again.  Courtland is thrilled:)

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Love French food.  It's by far my favorite cuisine.  Wine, bread, cheese, mussels, steak frites,creme brulee, and chocolate pot-de-creme.   The French have got it down.  When I want to get my French food fix, I prefer bistros over a formal setting.   Barbette, in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis usually does it for me.  My Mom and Step-Dad were in town over the weekend and treated us to dinner.  Barbette did not disappoint.  The atmosphere is cozy, eclectic, bohemian hipster-like.  Of course the moment we sat down, my very vocal 4 -year-old had to shout about and point to the painting of a naked woman's backside on the wall:) 

We started dinner with a bottle of Cotes-du-Rhone red wine, mussels, and the olive plate.  Wine was perfect.  The mussells were ok. . .I've had better at Barbette before.  They needed more flavor. Olives were warm and delicious; served with grilled crostini. 

Entrees were incredible.  The server was nice enough to offer to have the chef make a grilled cheese with frites for Jack.  I had a nibble of his sandwich and frites. . .yum.

 The guys had the steak frites.  I didn't taste the steak, but was told it was prepared perfectly. . . so much so that Jack kept asking for more bites.   

My Mom and I had the fish special, cod with hen of the woods mushrooms, leeks, and topped with beet greens and black truffle emulsion.  Pure heaven. 

Dessert--always creme brulee for Courtland. . .he likes to crack the top (just like Amelie's dad).   We also shared the molten chocolate cake with salted caramel and ice cream. 

Perfect way to end dinner.