My Blog on WCCO-TV: Bite of Minnesota

Friday, June 25, 2010

Market Talkin' Tomorrow

Hey Blog Friends! 

The Minneapolis Farmers Market puts on what's called "Market Talk" every Saturday at 10:30am.  It's a great chance to step away from the market frenzy, take a seat, and learn more about local foods.

This Saturday (as in TOMORROW), I'll be doing the Market Talk.  Yep, that's right, yours truly will be trying to cook and talk at the same time. 

I want YOU to be there. 

The event takes place rain or shine.  Don't worry, if it does rain, there is covering in the Market Talk area.

I'll be talking about green beans, chives and strawberries and preparing a couple recipes with those ingredients.  Plus, there will be samples!

So, head on over to the Minneapolis Farmers Market (the one off Lyndale) and join me from 10:30am - 11:30am.

See you there!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New Restaurant: Sauce

Looking back on my recent posts, I realize I haven’t been doing too much home cooking. My evenings have been filled with dinners out with friends, food related events and quick bites here and there. True to recent form, I went to preview Sauce over the weekend, a new pizza and wine restaurant in the West End (aka St. Louis Park).

Upon entering the West End for the first time, I may have muttered a few cuss words. It reminded me of the overcrowded loop-de-loop otherwise known as Scottsdale Waterfront. You know, those places where you follow a line of cars hoping everyone keeps moving? Then you drive around the parking ramp forever looking for that coveted parking spot? Yeah. Fun stuff.

Once we entered Sauce, all was forgotten. The décor is simple but welcoming with metal chairs and brightly colored signs throughout. Ordering is easy – place your order at the counter, pick up your beverages and a number, then wait for a server to bring out your food.

During our visit, we tried quite a few menu items. First, the Wild Mushroom pizza which was coated in fresh arugula and drizzled with truffle oil. It was a great combination and since the pizzas have a super thin crust, I assume this is a pretty healthy choice. I would definitely order this one again.

We also tried the Vegetable and Avocado salad which was packed full of great veggies like asparagus, cucumber, corn and carrots. It was quite large and perfect for a main meal or to share as a starter.

We found the Mac ‘N Cheese sufficiently cheesy, but lacked the punch of flavor you’d expect from a homemade mac and cheese. I’m sure kids would LOVE it, but I thought it was a bit plain.  Confession:  I still ate the whole thing!

Still hankering for a little more pizza, we tried the Mozzarella, Fontina Cheese & Basil. Perhaps the most basic on the menu, it was packed full of flavor from the red sauce, basil and fontina cheese. Delicious!

If I found myself in the West End again, I’d definitely hit up Sauce again. I’d stop especially for their Summer Special in which for $20 you get a salad, a pizza and 2 glasses of wine. Perfect dinner option before going to a movie across the street.

Sauce opened its first Minnesota location on Monday the 21st and there are several locations in Arizona.

The Shops at West End
1610 West End Blvd.
St. Louis Park, MN

Disclosure: As part of an opening preview at Sauce, I received all of the above at no cost and was not obligated to write a blog post.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Did YOU Rock the Garden?

Ah, Rock the Garden, the annual big concert event put on by The Walker Art Center and 89.3 The Current. Ten thousand music lovers all in one spot:

Tickets sold out quickly this year but thanks to Flashlight Minneapolis, I won a pair of tickets and could go – yay!  It was a beautiful day to see Retribution Gospel Choir (out of Duluth), OK Go, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and MGMT. I was most excited to see the last two acts, but was pleasantly surprised with OK Go. Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings brought their A-game while MGMT fizzled a bit on the live stage.  I think I'll stick to listening to them on CD.

See, this isn't a total non-food post as I HAD to get some tacos from the Barrio Truck:

They had a killer veggie taco filled with pinto beans, roasted poblanos, and fresh cheese. Barrio didn’t skimp on the chips and guac either. Four bucks was a steal for their generous portions and the service was great – quick and with a smile. Just what I like!

So, did you Rock the Garden yesterday? What did you think of the music? Did you eat any good food?

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Aebleskiver Queen

Just call me the Aebleskiver Queen okay? That’s right, I’m savoring my title and can’t help but be excited about it. FYI – I might be flowing with confidence in the following post. Bear with me :)

Last week I met with The Blog Pantry for yet another fun foodie event. We converged on Local D’Lish in downtown Minneapolis (the store for all things local food) for some networking, learning (thanks to Kim Moldofsky of Mom Impact) and eating. We even did a good deed by collecting diapers and baby wipes to donate to the Minneapolis Crisis Nursery.

(thanks to Michele at StuffSoup for the pic)

Chad Gillard of Aunt Else’s Aebleskiver was our sponsor for the night and he was so incredibly friendly and full of information on aebleskivers, a Danish round pastry traditionally filled with apple slices, but commonly filled with savory ingredients as well. I’ve been a big fan of Aunt Else’s since discovering them at the Mill City Farmers Market last year and was so excited to learn more.

After a little socializing, Chad informed the group that we’d be competing in a cooking contest and the winner gets an amazing prize: an Aunt Else’s Minnesota-made 9-hole aebleskiver pan and batter mix.

You see, I’ve had my eyes on that pan for quite some time now and I wasn’t going to let the opportunity to win one slip away. The only thing standing between me and that pan was ME. I gave myself a pep talk and concentrated on Chad’s instructions. (Dork alert - If you were standing close enough to me, you probably could have heard me talking to myself and repeating the instructions out loud.)

When it came my turn to cook, I chose my ingredients (cheddar, pear and rosemary) and could tell pretty quickly that my dreams were about to be dashed.

I put too much batter in the pan and it wasn’t looking good. I was able to save them, but HAD to try another batch. This time I tried green onion, cheddar and thyme and used less batter.

Success! I garnished my perfectly cooked aebleskiver (bottom left corner), put it on the table for judging and crossed my fingers (Savory Suz’s looked pretty darn good too).

When judging time came and Chad announced that “Onion on Thyme” had won, I was pretty thrilled. Not only was the pan mine, but I earned some cooking street cred too. Boo ya!

It was an awesome ending to an awesome night. I can’t wait to come up with some aebleskiver recipes!

Have you had aebleskivers before?

What would you put in yours?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Grilled Chili-Lime Vegetable Tacos

After the Cat Cora cooking demonstration at Macy’s, I was inspired to grill more. Not only did I make grilled guacamole, but I took Cat’s Grilled Chili-Lime Flank Steak Taco recipe and made my own vegetarian version.



And you know what? It was so easy! While the veggies were marinating, I grilled a pineapple for some pineapple salsa.

Just trim off the skin and cut it down the middle (no need to core it – grilling tenderizes the core). Grill each side for 2-4 minutes or until it gets a little charred.  Then set aside on a plate to cool while you grill the vegetables.

I chose to grill a few Portobello mushroom caps, zucchini, summer squash and red onion and kept the pieces larger so they’d grill evenly.

This gave us enough filling for six small tacos. Next time, I’d grill a double batch just to have the grilled veggies on hand.

The tacos were so flavorful from the marinade and were even more amazing topped with charred pineapple salsa (also a Cat Cora recipe). The pineapple was so fresh and juicy that it made for a great summer dish. Once I ran out of homemade tortilla chips, I just ate it with a spoon. Yep, it was *that* good.

Grilled Chili-Lime Vegetable Tacos with Charred Pineapple Salsa

3 portobello mushroom caps
1 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise
1 small summer squash, sliced lengthwise
1 red onion, sliced into rings
1 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Charred Pineapple Salsa

1 small pineapple, trimmed and halved
1 small red onion, diced
3 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 Serrano pepper, seeds and membrane removed and minced

For the tacos, combine chile powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt, pepper, lime juice and olive oil in a large plastic resealable bag or container. Shake to mix and add vegetables. Marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour, turning bag often to coat all vegetables.

Preheat a charcoal grill to medium. Once heated, grill pineapple for 2-4 minutes or until charred, turning once. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, dice pineapple and add red onion, cilantro, lime juice, rice vinegar, olive oil, salt and Serrano pepper and toss in a bowl. Set aside.

Arrange vegetables on grill grate and cook 1-2 minutes per side, being careful to not burn. Remove from grill and serve on a platter with heated flour or corn tortillas. Top with pineapple salsa.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cooking with Cat Cora

On Saturday, I got to meet Iron Chef Cat Cora at Macy’s and it was totally awesome! Now, I’m not one to go gaga over celebrities, but when they turn out to be as darling as Cat Cora, I can get a little excited.

I’m in The Blog Pantry, a group of female bloggers here in the Twin Cities that get together, share ideas, and celebrate successes in blogging. When I was invited to a cooking demonstration at Macy’s with Cat Cora, I thought it would be pretty neat. Then I heard that we’d be able to meet Cat Cora and sit front row at her demonstration so I ditched my other plans (congrats on graduating, Justin!) and headed to Macy’s.

At the event, we got group and individual shots with Cat and had a little small talk. She hasn’t been able to explore the Twin Cities much, but did dine at Lucia’s the night before and enjoyed it. Here’s our group shot:

I got an individual pic too, but as you can tell from the group shot, my camera settings were a bit off. Everything just happened so quickly that I didn’t have time to change from the macro settings. Boo.

Once we were seated, we sipped on Watermelon Margaritas (sans alcohol) and watched the cooking demonstration.

I was in awe over Cat Cora’s amazing success in her career. She has three cookbooks, several restaurants (with more on the way), she’s the only female Iron Chef and still manages to be involved at the White House with the Chefs Move to Schools program with Michelle Obama. Did I mention she has four young boys at home too?

During the cooking demonstration of Chili-Lime Flank Steak Tacos and Grilled Pineapple and Cherry Ambrosia (a couple recipes from her newest cookbook), Cat talked candidly about her approach to cooking (go with the flow and use what you have), answered questions with ease and encouraged us to experiment when grilling. She mentioned grilling avocados, which was something I never considered until now.

You can probably guess what I did soon after returning home, right?

Yep, I threw some avocados on the grill! I cooked them for just a couple minutes, enough to get some grill marks and then put them in the fridge to cool down before turning them into guacamole.

Try it yourself! The recipe below is loosely based on the tableside guacamole served at Tejas and I used my best guess at measurements as I usually just “add to taste” when I’m making it for myself. The grilled avocados lend a slightly smoky flavor, but if you’re short on time, skip the grilling.

Grilled Guacamole

2 avocadoes, halved
1 jalapeno, seeded and halved
2 tbsp tomato, chopped (I used 3 cherry tomatoes)
1 small shallot, chopped
1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
2 wedges of lime, squeezed
Pinch of salt
5 dashes green Tabasco
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce

Preheat a charcoal grill. Place avocado and jalapeno cut side down on grill over medium-high heat. Grill 2-3 minutes or until grill marks appear. Remove and place in the fridge to cool slightly.

Once cooled, mash avocados in a bowl and add jalapeno (chopped), tomato, shallot, cilantro, lime juice, salt, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce. Taste and adjust ingredients.
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