December 22, 2011

What to Eat Christmas Morning?

Let them Eat Cake!

I know you're in a hurry. I am too. So, let's cut to the cake. This sour cream beauty is dense and moist and will fill your kitchen with the toasty scent of cinnamon. The recipe is inspired by one from ZINGERMAN'S BAKERY, that Ann Arbor icon and is based on old old-timey recipe from Betty Crocker according to Z's pastry chef. You can make today while you're doing other stuff, it keeps beautifully once cooled and wrapped. (Leftover slices are terrific toasted.)

You probably have what you need on hand (flour, butter, sour cream or yogurt, brown & white sugar, eggs, cinnamon and nuts). Don't sweat it if you don't have exactly these ingredients. You can substitute just about any yogurt for the sour cream (if you use berry yogurt, it will have a hint of berries); if you're out of nuts, use granola. Or, throw in chocolate chips instead. Whatever. Come Christmas morning. Let's all eat cake.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Makes one 10-inch Bund Cake

1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
1cup chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan.

In a small bowl, cut together the streusel ingredients with two knives or your fingers to make a soft, crumbly mixture. (Or, do this in a food processor.)

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar and then beat in the eggs, sour cram and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients, mixing until smooth. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with half of the streusel mix. Pour the rest of the batter over this and sprinkle with the remaining mixture. Bake about 55 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes up clean. Check the cake halfway through baking, and if it is browning too quickly, cover it with a piece of lightly buttered aluminum foil. Allow the cake to cool slightly beore removing from the pan. It's great served warm.

December 15, 2011


The Most Delicious Read of the Year!

White Truffles in Winter, by N.M. Kelby is perhaps the next best thing to living and dining in France. Don't stroll, run to the nearest bookstore. It's all over and get at least two. One for you and one to give. I couldn't put it down and didn't want it to end. Here's a link to a review. 

While you're at it, pick up some wonderful dark chocolate and make truffles to give with the book. These are easy and quick. Save some for yourself to enjoy while you sink into the story, layered with lust and intrigue and lush dinners and wonderful cooking. It, like good chocolate and wine, is meant to be savored and enjoyed.

Meet Kelby at Lucia's Wine Bar - 1432 W. 31st St. Mpls., 612-825-1572 and sip and nibble (and pretend you're in Paris).


Makes about 20 to 24

8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup heavy cream, at room temperature
¼ cup Grand Marnier
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate with the butter, stirring constantly to blend. Gradually stir in the cream until the mixture is smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Grand Marnier. Turn the chocolate mixture into a low bowl and refrigerate until it is cool and stiff, about 1 hour.

Sift some cocoa powder onto a plate. Line another plate with waxed paper. Use two spoons or your hand to make small balls, about 2 inches in diameter, out of the chocolate mixture and roll them in the cocoa powder. Place the truffles on the waxed paper and serve immediately or place them in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a day. 

December 12, 2011

Cheese Glorious Cheese!

Gorgeous Gifts
from Shepherd's Way Farms

Shepherd's Way just made my Christmas a whole lot easier. I'm ordering boxes of cheese to send to family and friends in New Jersey, plus a few to bring as gifts to the holiday open houses coming up soon. The boxes are packed with a selection of the award-winning artisan farmstead sheep cheese ready to ship out. (You can also order boxes that include amazing lamb sausage.) 

Better yet, give the gift that gives all year long -- a cheese CSA -- or classes in cheese-making (February 12 and March 11).  Custom classes are also available; as are private tours and tasting parties.

For more information, e-mail the folks at Shepherd's Way --

To learn more
Come taste and talk
 Lucia's Bakery, Wed., Dec. 14, 5 - 7 

Cranberry Ginger Salsa
Makes 1 cup

This is delicious served on the cheese board and comes together in a flash.

1 cup fresh cranberries
1/4 cup crystalized ginger

Put the cranberries and ginger into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until the cranberries are finely chopped. This will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator about 1 week.

December 5, 2011


Count Down!

You don't have to make EVERYTHING yourself (but I have a few pretty good and simple ideas for one or two).  That said, there is still time to order up just the right present for your favorite foodies. 

Fischer Family Farms Gift Boxes
(best chops, bacon, tenderloin, ham and maple coil sausage EVER!) 
Call Tim at 507-351-351-9910

Shepherd's Way Farms Cheese
Go to Shepherd's Way Farms
order Gift Boxes TODAY!



Makes about 20 to 24

8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup heavy cream, at room temperature
¼ cup Grand Marnier
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate with the butter, stirring constantly to blend. Gradually stir in the cream until the mixture is smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Grand Marnier. Turn the chocolate mixture into a low bowl and refrigerate until it is cool and stiff, about 1 hour.

Sift some cocoa powder onto a plate. Line another plate with waxed paper. Use two spoons or your hand to make small balls, about 2 inches in diameter, out of the chocolate mixture and roll them in the cocoa powder. Place the truffles on the waxed paper and serve immediately or place them in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a day.


Makes 1 quart

1 cup fresh cranberries
1 quart vodka
2 tablespoons sugar

Crush the cranberries and put them in a large jar with the vodka and sugar. Cover the jar and let the vodka infuse for 24 hours. Strain out the cranberries and transfer to cordial bottles.


Makes about 24 biscotti

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs beaten
1 cup toasted and chopped hazelnuts
¼ cup dried cherries plumped in ½ cup apple cider

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease it.

Stir together the flour, salt, baking powder and brown sugar. Mix in the eggs, and then fold in the nuts and the cherries along with the remaining cider. The dough will be sticky so flour your hands before shaping the dough into logs about 6 inches long and 1 to 2 inches wide. Space them out on the baking sheet and bake until firm, about 25 minutes. Remove the baking sheet frm the oven and reduce the temperature to 275 degrees F.

Allow the biscotti to cool for about 15 minutes, then slice them diagonally into ¾ inch slices and lay the slices on the baking sheet. Return the biscotti to the oven and bake for about 10 minutes. Flip the biscotti and continue baking for an additional until they are golden.

November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Make-Overs

Beyond the Casserole!

Make the feast last all weekend with a range of dishes that lift "left-overs" beyond the casserole (though who doesn't love a good old turkey hot dish? 

Turkey Tetrazzini:  Toss together about a cup of shredded cooked turkey with any cooked vegetables you have on hand, green beans, carrots, squash, Brussels sprouts, cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Toss in enough leftover gravy, wine and a little stock to lightly coat. Turn into a casserole dish and top with bread crumbs or stuffing and bake in a 350 degree oven until bubbly hot.

Create a Curry Turkey dinner by warming a simple mix of stock, coconut milk and your favorite curry seasoning in a saucepan. Add the cooked, chopped turkey and leftover vegetables. Serve this over steamed rice. If you may have fancy nuts left from the cocktail hour, chop them up and use to garnish this.

-Turn the a side dish of wild rice into an entrée — Wild Rice, Turkey, Apple and Pecan Salad — by tossing into it freshly chopped apples, cubed turkey, and toasted pecans and little sweet-rough dressing (like a Honey Mustard Vinaigrette) or your favorite oil and vinegar mix.

-Soups are a main-stay after the holidays. For an Asian Turkey Noodle Soup, cook Asian noodles (soba or rice) in stock, add freshly grated ginger, a chopped chile, and soy to taste. Stir in the chopped, cooked turkey and leftover vegetables and garnish with cilantro.

-If you're long on roasted squash, create a Ginger Squash and Apple Soup by stewing together several peeled chopped apples and freshly grated ginger in stock to generously cover. Mash and stir in the leftover squash. Sweeten with a splash of cider if you wish.

-I’m a big fan of cranberry jelly. Use it in this simple, but wonderfulCranberry Mustard Glaze to brush on roast chicken, game, and pork. Simply melt cranberry jelly in a saucepan with a tablespoon of Dijon mustard to taste. Store this in a jar in the refrigerator. I’ve also used freshly cooked cranberry relish to stir into mayonnaise for turkey salad and to spread on sandwiches.

-No doubt, you may have leftover muffins, Parker House rolls or bread to deal with. Toss them into an old fashioned Bread Pudding. Use about 2 cups milk, 4 eggs and ¼ cup sugar spiked with vanilla for a 4 cup mixture of different breads. This is great for a lazy breakfast the Sunday following Turkey Day.

Much as I’d love the chance to “make over” desserts, leftovers have never provided the opportunity, though that would be a good problem to have.

Perhaps I’ll triple the pies this year.



Filling ingredients:
-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
-1 small onion, chopped
-2 cups sliced mushrooms
-Salt and freshly ground pepper
-1 1/2 cups chicken stock
-1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
-2 carrots, sliced
-1 large potato, peeled and cut into chunks
-1 celery rib, sliced
-2 boneless chicken thighs or equivalent sized leftover cooked turkey or ham

Cobbler crust ingredients:
-2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
-2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
-3/4 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon sugar
-1 teaspoon salt
-6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
-1 cup buttermilk
-1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
-1/4 cup chopped chives

To make the Cheddar chive dough: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a medium-size bowl. Blend in the butter with your fingertips or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles small peas. Add Cheddar cheese and chopped chives, then gently stir in the buttermilk until the ingredients are just combined.

To make the filling: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a Dutch oven or a flame-proof casserole set over medium-high heat, melt the butter and sauté the onion and mushrooms until they release their juices and are soft, about 8 to 10 minutes, then season them with salt and pepper to taste. Add the stock and thyme, and boil until the liquid is reduced by about a third. Add the carrots, potato, celery, and turkey, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through. If you are using leftover cooked chicken, turkey, or ham, add it after the vegetables are cooked.

Drop the dough by spoonfuls on top of the vegetables and chicken in the Dutch oven or casserole, covering most of the surface area as you would a cobbler. Bake for about 35 to 45 minutes or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly.


November 22, 2011

Cranberry Fields - FOREVER!


MPR - Cathy Worzer 
Pretty Good & Easy - Local thanksgiving!
Listen up!

How Sweet!

Thanksgiving - It's the Berries 
Cranberries Rock the Feast

Cranberries are the last fruit of the season; the earth's bonny farewell until spring. Our local growers in Wisconsin have hauled in a heap of these tart-sweet gems. They were once called bounce berries, for their springy character and snappy taste. When you get them this fresh -- at farmers markets and natural food co-ops -- they practically sing as they pop in the saucepan, cooking in to the traditional relish we favor with our national bird.

Cranberries this fresh don't HAVE to be cooked. Try this fresh salsa that comes together in seconds. It's great alongside cheese, swirled into mayonnaise for sandwiches of leftovers, and terrific on the harvest table itself.

Fresh Cranberry Ginger Salsa
Makes 1 cup

2 cups fresh cranberries, picked over and rinsed
2 tablespoons grated fresh gingerroot
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar

Put the cranberries, gingerroot, orange zest and juice into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until the cranberries are chopped fine. Pulse in 1/4 cup sugar. Taste and then add more sugar as desired. This will keep about 1 week, covered, in the refrigerator.

November 15, 2011

Holidays on Spice

this holiday season

Raghavan Iyer, the curator of curries, whose books and classes brighten our plates, is packaging his magic in a line of amazing spices called Turmeric Trail. Each blend represents the different regions of India. Each blend warms and enlivens a variety of dishes from traditional curries to a simple squash soup. There are plenty of recipes on Turmeric Trail's website, but the real fun comes when they're use to zip up a familiar dish. Here, the Garam Masala sparks a simple squash and apple soup. 

Squash & Apple Soup
with Garam Masala

Serves 6

1 medium red kuri or butternut squash, about 2 pounds, cut in half and seeded
Sunflower or olive oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tart apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 to 2 teaspoons Garam Masala, or more to taste
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup fresh apple cider
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, or more to taste
1/2 cup strained Greek yogurt or sour cream for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Drizzle the cut side of the squash with oil and turn it cut-side down on a baking sheet, and bake until it's soft, about 30 to 45 minutes.

While the squash in baking, film a heavy soup pot with a little oil and set over medium low heat. Add the onions, garlic, apples and spice mix, and toss to coat. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the stock and cider and simmer until the ingredients are very tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven, scoop the meat from the skin, add it to the pot.

For a smooth soup, puree the mixture using an immersion blender or process it in a blender in batches. For a chunky soup, mash all the ingredients together with a potato masher. Season the soup with salt and if you'd like, a little more spice mix. Whisk in the cilantro and serve garnished with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream.

November 7, 2011


Sweeten Monday's dinner with caramelized Brussels Sprouts. Those shown here, still on the stalk, are from Saturday's farmers market. You'll also find these pretty little local cabbages, stripped off and ready for prime time in co-ops all around town. Forget steaming or blanching or simmering Brussels sprouts. Doing so leaves the kitchen with a dank, swampy smell. The best way to cook these little darlings is to coat them lightly with oil and a dusting of salt, then blast them in a hot oven until they turn nutty, finger picking, sweet caramel brown. Here's how:

Oven Roasted Caramelized Brussels Sprouts
Serves 2 to 4

1 pound Brussels sprouts, dead leaves removed
1 to 2 tablespoons sun flower or olive oil
Coarse salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the Brussels sprouts with just enough olive oil to coat and sprinkle with just a little salt. Turn the Brussels sprouts out onto a baking sheet, spreading them apart so that they do not touch, and roast in the oven until they are tender and a toasty deep golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove and serve:

As a side dish
Tossed with a mild vinaigrette and serve on dark lettuce
Quartered and tossed with pasta and a sprinkle of shredded Parmesan cheese
Sliced and spread on pizza

November 1, 2011


Halloween may be over but the season for pumpkins and squash has just begun. These pretty, hearty vegetables double as table decorations and dinner. Unlike summer's fleeting harvest of tender peas, golden corn, blowsy tomatoes, these vegetables are patient, waiting until we're ready to cook. The world of squash is wide and varied with flavors sweet, earthy and nuanced. Try the different varieties in any of these recipes, all work beautifully.*

Coconut Squash-Apple Soup
Serves 4 to 6

My curry worry ended when Raghavan Iyer introduced his line of Turmeric Trail Spices. Turmeric Trail Spice Blend is a new line of spice blends that bring heat, smoke and intrigue to everyday fare. Here, the Mumbai Masala lifts my ordinary squash soup to another level. It's vegan (dairy and meat free) AND completely delicious.

3 to 4 pounds any winter squash (butternut, delicata, Hubbard, pie pumpkin), halved and seeded
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 tart apples, peeled, seeded and cored 
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup apple cider
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 to 2 teaspoons Turmeric Trail Spice Blend Mumbai Masala, or more to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut, plus more for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly oil the edges of the squash, turn cut side down on a baking sheet and roast until very tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove, allow to cool a little. In a large soup pot, saute the onions and apples until the onions become soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the stock, cider and coconut milk. Scoop the roasted squash flesh into the pot and stir in the spice blend. Smash the squash with the back of a spoon or a potato masher and bring the soup to a simmer and cook for about 15 to twenty minutes, adding more stock or cider to reach the desired consistency. Puree the soup using an immersion blender or in batches in a blender, and return to the pot. Stir in the coconut. Taste and adjust the seasonings. This tastes best after it's had a chance to sit a while so that the seasonings marry. Serve the soup hot, garnished with more coconut.

Maple Roasted Squash
Serves 4 to 6

Butternut is the easiest squash to peel, cube and roast for this recipe, but Red Kuri, delicata, or Hubbard work nicely here, too. A little salty bacon balances the sweetness and gives it some heft. Make this a main dish by tossing it with pasta and grated Parmesan cheese. Or, for a vegetarian version, omit the bacon, and toss in toasted walnuts.

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 head garlic, separated into cloves but not peeled
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
2 to 3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 strips good quality bacon (i.e. Neuske's or Lorentz), chopped
20 whole fresh sage leaves
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, toss together the squash, garlic cloves and sunflower oil to lightly coat. Then drizzle in the maple syrup, tossing to coat, then toss in the bacon and sage leaves and season with salt and pepper. Spread this over a baking sheet so that none of the squash pieces touch. Roast, shaking the pan and turning the squash occasionally with a spatula, until the pieces become a deep caramel brown, about 25 to 35 minutes. For a side dish, serve right away. For a main dish, toss with pasta or serve over rice, sprinkled with the Parmesan cheese.

* I have to admit a keen prejudice against spaghetti squash. It doesn't taste like a squash or spaghetti and though I've made valiant efforts to fashion low-carb and low-cal recipes where it plays the part of pasta, I loath the stuff. It won't work in any of these recipes.

October 27, 2011

Pretty, Good & Tasty

Rainbow chard is so abundant and beautiful, it's hard to ignore. It's a wealth of nutrients and cooks in a wink. I like it best braised in a little oil with lots of hot peppers then perked with vinegar. It's good frizzled in a hot oven (like kale chips) and is wonderful sliced into soups and stews. Most folks remove the stems and ribs to cook separately from the leaves. But, I find that if you chop them fine, they'll cook along with the leaves nicely in a soup or stew. Here are two very simple recipes. Eat chard. Tonight!

Silky Braised Chard 
Serves 4

1 large bundle chard, leaves rinsed but not thoroughly dried
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Apple cider vinegar

Separate the leaves and ribs of the chard. Slice the leaves into 1-inch strips and chop the stems. Heat the oil over low in a heavy pot and stew the onion until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, chard leaves and stems, season with salt and pepper, toss then cover and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The leaves should turn silky. Serve with a splash of vinegar.

Sauteed Chard with Hot Peppers
Serves 4

1 large bundle chard, leaves rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded, deveined and diced
1/2 fresh lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Separate the leaves and ribs of the chard. Slice the leaves into 1/2-inch strips and chop the stems. Heat the oil in a skillet and saute the chard an stems with the pepper just to coat with the oil, cover the pan, and cook until the leaves are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking until the pan is dry. Drizzle with a little lemon juice to taste and serve.

October 19, 2011


Thursday October 20
7:00 p.m.
Northern Heartland Kitchen
Book Signing

Autumn is the season for cooks and this year couldn't be better. The new crop of sweet potatoes, squash and apples, celeriac, potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, and those hearty cabbages, kale, Brussels sprouts, the vibrant carrots, parsnips, turnips (phew) are promising, earthy and sweet. Stock up, these things keep a while, ready when you are to cook. 

Kale is at its best right now, getting sweetest as the frost moves in. No doubt kale is the most nutritious green around -- loaded with anti-oxidents, vitamins, minerals -- it's low cal, hi fiber and dang, it tastes good. It grows any place, every place, a vibrant crop in this hostile climate. Here's a simple recipe for speedy raw kale salad. Make a big batch of it, it tastes better through the week.

Raw Kale Salad (Serves  4)
This will keep several days in the refrigerator, its flavor softening along with the kale leaves, over time.
2 bunches dinosaur or curly kale, stems and veins removed and leaves chopped (about 4 heaping cups)
1 small red onion, chopped
1 large carrot, grated
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey, or more to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil*
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
1/4 cup toasted, unsalted sunflower seeds or toasted chopped pecans

October 17, 2011

Get Squash!

The butternut, pumpkin, acorn, delicata, red kuri are all in and it's a good time for soup. Quick and easy. Check out this recipe from KARE 11 TV from Northern Heartland Kitchen!

October 13, 2011

Discovering our Roots! Mill City Last Call!

Discovering our Roots!

Last Call

It's the last Saturday for the Mill City Market and a great time to discover our roots. Sweet potatoes, parsnips, rutabagas, carrots in all colors, turnips, potatoes, things that grow underground. Stock up, these are keepers that, unlike tomatoes or tender peas, don't have to be eaten right now. While you're grabbing the best of this season, think about enjoying great local produce all through the winter and sign up for a CSA. Many of Mill City Market farmers have late fall and winter shares.

Tune In 

 KARE 11 - TV 
this Saturday @ 10:00 am
See what's at the Mill City Market
and then come on Down!

CITIES 107. 1
this Saturday @ 1:15 pm
WEEKLY DISH with Steph & Steph
Northern Heartland Kitchen
talking great food!

KARE 11 - TV
Monday 10/17 @ 4:00 pm 
Cooking with Pat Evans
Know your Squash!

Ginger Sweet Potato Soup
Apple-Mint Salsa
Serves 4 to 5

Our northern sweet potatoes are prettier, sweeter, denser and smaller than those that grow down south. Delicious simply roasted off in the oven until tender, they're also terrific in this luscious gingery soup. It's topped with a spicy, tart salsa made of our snappy local apples. Quick and fresh!

2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 inch chunk fresh ginger, peeled and grated, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of grated nutmeg
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
5 to 6 cups homemade or low sodium vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 cup coconut milk or heavy cream
1/4 cup fresh apple cider
1 tablespoon honey, or more to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a soup pot over low heat and saute in the onions until they're very soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg and cook another minute. Increase the heat and add the sweet potatoes and enough stock to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until the potatoes are very soft, about 15 minutes.  Puree the soup in batches and return to the pot or use an immersion blender. Stir in the coconut milk, cider, honey and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm with the Apple-Mint Salsa (recipe below).

Apple Mint Salsa
Makes about 1 cup

This lively fresh salsa sparks the sweet potato soup. It's also delicious on grilled chicken or served as a compliment to local cheeses (especially Shepherd's Way Big Woods Blue).

1 small tart, crisp apple, such as Keepsake or Regent
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and deveined, finely minced
Sprinkling of sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Toss all of the ingredients together in a bowl and serve right away.

October 7, 2011

Saturday, October 8
Demo, tasting and book signing!

Then head north to
Apple Fest!
Sunday, October 9!

October 3, 2011

Glorious Beans!

Use your bean!

Beans beans beans. They're in big time at all the markets, snappy and fresh. Best way to cook them is the simplest: in boiling water until tender (beyond tender-crisp). Then drain quickly and toss with a nice, peppery olive oil and coarse salt. You'll want to eat them with your fingers, and you should. Or, you can get a little fussier and try this classic Chinese dish (green beans originated in China). It makes a lively side dish to grilled chicken. Or, toss in cooked chicken at the end and serve over cooked noodles or rice.

Chinese Fried Green Beans
Serves 4

Sunflower or any neutral corn oil for frying
2 pound green beans, well trimmed
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large shallot, chopped
Large pinch hot pepper flakes, to taste
1 tablespoon honey, or to taste
2 tablespoons soy sauce, or more to taste
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

Put about 2 inches of oil in a deep skillet set over medium-high heat and bring to 350 degrees F. Wash and thoroughly dry the beans (they should be very very dry before you begin). Fry the beans, stirring occasionally, until they brown, about 7 to 12 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Darin off all but about 1 tablespoon of the oil in the skillet, return to the heat and stir fry the garlic and shallot until the garlic begins to soften (being careful it doesn't burn), about 30 seconds. Toss in the beans, with the paper flakes, honey and soy sauce to taste. Serve topped with the toasted walnuts.

September 30, 2011

The Northern Heartland Kitchen

The Northern Heartland is governed by the seasons. The long and cold winter, bright and warm summer, and crisp and refreshing spring and fall shape our physical and emotional landscape. Shouldn't the seasons and their harvests also shape the way we eat?

My new book, The Northern Heartland Kitchen (University of Minnesota Press), presents delicious and practical solutions to the challenge of eating locally in the upper Midwest. Celebrating the region's chefs, farmers, ranchers, gardeners, and home cooks, this is the essential guide to eating with the year's local rhythms. Recipes are organized by season: fall and winter inspire Chestnut Soup and Venison Medallions with Juniper and Gin, while summer harvests contribute the ingredients for Watermelon Gazpacho and Grilled Trout with Warm Tomato Vinaigrette. Other chapters provide instructions on pickling and preserving food, as well as tips on growing your own food and getting the most out of your CSA or farmers' market. There are also profiles of local farmers, butchers, and chefs who are using new technologies--as well as rediscovering heritage practices--to enrich regional selections.

Far from being a sacrifice, eating in season and locally is a tribute to the year's changing riches--encouraging an appreciation for the unmatched flavor of a juicy July tomato or a crisp October apple with garden salads, soups and stews, free-range meats and poultry, fish and game, farmstead cheeses, wholesome breads, pastries and fruit pies. The Northern Heartland Kitchen presents delicious recipes alongside the stories and compelling research that illustrate how eating well and eating locally are truly one and the same.

For more information on The Northern Heartland Kitchen, visit the book's webpage, and join me at and upcoming book signing!

September 29, 2011

Bring on the Fall Harvest: Tips for Preparing and Preserving Your Veggies Through Winter

Image from Creative Commons.
Late summer is nature’s gift to Northern Heartland cooks. Unlike those who live in temperate climates, we are governed by the seasons. Our weather is dramatic; nature shapes our physical environment as well as our emotional landscape. To live well here is to celebrate the year’s changing riches: summer’s shimmering corn, blowsy tomatoes, autumn’s crisp air, brilliant color and snappy apples. This time on the calendar, we are rewarded for our January patience, feasting on fresh, local foods denied us the colder months of the year. Except . . . except . . . it all comes at once!

Did the beans talk to the tomatoes and corn? Are the cabbages in cahoots with the carrots? How come all it’s all here now, demanding our attention, threatening to race from ripeness to rot? Our midwinter dreams become September’s dilemma. This season, the bountiful challenge seems especially welcome given a slow start to the agricultural year, a late spring, cold temperatures and too much rain. So here, now are those mounds of eggplant, early apples, late raspberries, zucchini, carrots, cabbages, Brussels sprouts. The markets are exploding and our CSA boxes seem ready to burst.

Every cook needs a strategy to decide what to enjoy now, what can keep, and what to put up for a snowy day. In a mad rush to catch the last of the good weather, our hungers seem to surge as the shadows lengthen and we realize that the temperatures will soon start to dip. To eat locally means paying attention to light, temperature and the land’s bounty. It means understanding how to be thrifty, of course, but also how to celebrate the year’s bounty. When our appetites follow the arc of the sun, we bring balance to our plates.

So here are several ideas for FAST fall dishes ready in five minutes followed by a simple recipe for classic corn relish to make now and then enjoy on a snow-covered day.


Autumn Garden Slaw: Shred Brussels sprouts, red cabbage, onion together and toss with just enough hazelnut or extra-virgin olive oil to coat. Sprinkle in cider vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for a few minutes so the flavors marry before serving. 

Fresh Apple and Sage Sauce: Peel an apple or two and chop fine along with equal amounts of onions, several sage leaves, parsley, a little lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with grilled or roast pork or chicken. 

Roast Pears: Cut pears into quarters and brush all sides liberally with butter. Sprinkle with a little sugar and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and roast in a preheated 400-degree oven for about 5 minutes. Serve with a cheese plate, or with dark greens for a salad, or alongside roasted meats.  

Spiced Roast Carrots: Cut carrots into ½-inch sized sticks. Roll in melted butter, then dust with curry powder or cumin, and roast in a hot (400-degree) oven until just tender, about 10 minutes. Serve as an appetizer or side dish. 

Grilled Radicchio: Slice radicchio heads in half, brush with oil and place, cut side down on a hot grill until just charred, about 5 minutes. Serve drizzled with oil and vinegar.  

RECIPE: Fresh Corn Relish 

Makes 3 pints. 

About this time of year, we’re all getting a little weary of corn but come January, we’ll be counting the months until it’s back in town. Here’s a quick way to capture corn’s sunny flavor.

4 cups cut corn (about 9 ears)
2 cups chopped green cabbage (about 1/2-head)
1/2-cup chopped onion (about 1/2-medium onion)
1/2-cup chopped sweet green peppers (about 1 small)
1/2-cup chopped sweet red peppers (about 1 small)
1/2-cup sugar
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1-1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1-1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 cups vinegar
1/2-cup water

1. Prepare a stockpot/canner and jars. (Confused? The Northern Heartland Kitchen offers some helpful hints for this.)
2. Combine all the ingredients in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer 20 minutes.
3. Ladle the hot relish into the jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove the air bubbles; re-measure the headspace. If needed, add more relish to meet the recommended headspace. Wipe the rims, center the lid on the jars. Screw on the bands until fingertip-tight.
4. Process the filled jars in boiling water for 15 minutes. Remove the stockpot lid. Wait 5 minutes. Remove the jars. Cool and store in a cool, dark place.

This post first appeared on The University of Minnesota Press blog.