December 26, 2013



I was the kid who wept Christmas night. How could it be over so soon? The twinkling lights, the endless, wishful lists, the scent of ginger and cinnamon, of damp fur coats and Channel No. 5. My mother and aunts dressed in their finest for Christmas Eve brunch at 2:00 am at my grandfather's home following Midnight Mass. He was a Christmas maestro. Short man, and plump, a New Jersey state senator, he wore a gray suit with striped vest, gold pocket watch, a pince nez perched on his beak of a nose. This self-taught pianist played carols as we entered his sweeping home. In the entrance hall, an artificial white Christmas tree glowed with red bulbs on the balcony right off the dining room. His table set for twenty of us -- aunts and uncles and cousins, the Arch Bishop, friends -- gleamed with silver against the starched white linen, readied for the smoked salmon, rye toast, poached eggs, orange marmalade, ham and sweet rolls. We trundled home before sunrise, lifted from the couches where we'd  curled up and placed in the back seat of the warming station wagon.

Christmas Day at my mother's mother's, a staunch Episcopalian, was a much stiffer affair -- roast beef, potatoes au gratin. The adults sipped Sherry from tiny glasses, milk for the children in fat tumblers. (Did I mention that Christmas Eve, the kids were poured a little red wine with water in the wine goblets). Christmas dessert was always, always plum pudding with hard sauce. While the adults drifted off to the living room to smoke, we kids snuck into the attic's collection of ladies' button down shoes, a doll house with real electric lights and teeny braided rugs, musty volumes of Winnie the Pooh. We'd horse around with the crutches my uncle needed after the war, and rifle through issues of National Geographic's looking for naked African women.

Thank God for Boxing Day. It celebrates left-overs and keeps festivities alive. Like every mother and wife at Christmas, I admit I'm exhausted. But, I'm never quite ready to quit.

Gingerbread is the cake to celebrate the end of Christmas celebrations. It's
simple and innocent, dark, and mysterious. Rich, spicy comfort this time of year.

Makes 1-9 inch square cake
Serve with spiked whipped cream

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
1 egg
1 molasses
2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup chopped crystalized ginger

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch square pan. IN a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the egg, then the molasses. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, spices and salt. Stir this into the creamed mixture then stir in the hot water. Pour into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the crystalized ginger over the top. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in the pan before cutting into squares.

October 25, 2013

BEATUY IN A BOWL - The beets goes on!

Beauty in a Bowl!

The Beet Goes On!

Friends don't let friends put up beets by themselves. There are a lot of reasons for this: it takes a long time to steam and peel these roots; they are very messy; but the real reason, is that pickling beets is a great excuse to spend an evening drinking wine and nibbling on good cheese and bread while talking, laughing, and catching up, and still getting things done. 

The other night I met up with friends at the home of a fabulous grower who had harvest about 40 pounds of beets and invited me and another woman over to "put them up"  She graciously pre-steamed them so all we had to do was make the brine and slip those gorgeous magenta beauties from their skin.

My friend checked in with her Aunt Judy to confirm the recipe -- one Judy has made for a good fifty years. It was easy, aromatic, and felt right to have Judy, a stalwart canner, with us in spirit that night.

By the end of the evening, we'd caught up with each other -- our work, our husbands, our kids. And I left with a 12-pack of quarts, ready to savor and share.

Get the beets on!

Pickled beets
    3 pounds small (2 inch diameter) whole beets
    2 cups vinegar
    1 cup water
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 teaspoon whole allspice
    6 whole cloves
    3 inches stick cinnamon
    Canning equipment
.    Wash beets. Cut off beet tops, leaving 1 inch of the stem: trim root ends. Do not peel. In a large saucepan, cook beets covered in boiling, lightly salted water for about 25 minutes or until tender; drain. Cool beets slightly' trim off roots and stems. Slip off and discard the skins. Quarter beets.
.    For pickling liquid, in a medium stainless-steel, enamel or nonstick heavy saucepan, combine vinegar, the water, and sugar. Place allspice, cloves, and cinnamon in the center of a double -thick, 6 inch square of 100 percent cotton cheesecloth. Bring up corners, tie closed with clean kitchen string. Add spice bag to saucepan. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes. Remove and discard spice bag.
.    Pack beets into hot, sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids.
.    Process filed jars in a boiling-water canner for 30 minutes. (Start timer when water returns to a full boil) Remove jars from canner; cool on wire racks.

June 23, 2013


Photo by Lee Svitak Dean


Suddenly its summer. (Well sort of, I mean it's almost July and despite the storms we're in for some heat.) Check out this kayak trip in the Apostles Islands. Lee Svitak Dean, food editor and travel writer, shares a wonderful narrative of what this adventure is all about.

Hope you'll come along!  Taste of the Apostles

June 12, 2013


Photo by John Ratzloff

Morels are as elusive as spring or love. Who really knows when either will appear? You must be ready! This year, the odds seemed stacked against us. What's almost as good as finding morels yourself is knowing someone who can hunt. These gorgeous morels come from an intrepid morel hound who stalks all the dead elm, and has one of the sharpest eyes around.  The morels in the photo are stuffed with garlic-scented chevre and grilled. 

Simply cooked, morels are the essence of the damp spring forest, reminiscent of wet leaves and moss and woodsmoke. Just be sure to cook them thoroughly before you serve them, they should be very soft and slightly browned.

Morel season is very short and they don't keep long after harvest. If you find them in the woods, or from a friend, at the farmers market or co-op, here's what to do:

- Rinse lightly in salted water
- Gently pat dry
- Then you're ready -- saute in butter or toss with olive oil and then grill, or toss with oil and roast in the oven.

You'll know they're cooked when they're very tender and dark brown. Serve just as is, or heap on bruschetta, or swirl into scrambled eggs, or toss with pasta, or serve over rice. They're fabulous on pizza or in a sandwich.

But be quick, they'll soon be gone.

May 29, 2013

Rhubarb Redux!


There's a lot to love about rhubarb. It grows like a weed, needs little attention, and it's bright tasting and tangy, terrific served both savory and sweet. It's nick name is "the pie plant" because my grandmother was a pie genius. All June we'd feast on rhubarb pies, crumbles and pandowdy that came piping hot and topped with plenty of freshly whipped cream. 

But rhubarb is terrific as a stand in for lemon in a quick vinaigrette. Also, try it stewed with a few chiles or rosemary for a simple sauce to top chicken or pork.

Serve it sweet, tart and tangy and give rhubarb some love.

Roasted Rhubarb Sauce
Makes about 3 cups

Roasting rhubarb instead of stewing it helps it maintain it's lovely pink color and keeps it from turning soft and stringy.

1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces, about 3 cups
1/2 pound sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the rhubarb with the sugar and arrange it into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Put the dish into the oven and roast until the rhubarb is just tender, but not falling apart, bout 20 to 25 minutes. Let the rhubarb cool, and then scrape it, along with its juices, into a bowl and cover. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Rhubarb Snack Cake
Serves 8 to 10

Serve the roasted rhubarb sauce over this and top with whipped cream!

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-1/4 cps sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 large eggs
1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
1 cup finely chopped rhubarb

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly butter an flour a 9-inch square baking pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy; then beat in the vanilla. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beginning and ending with the flour, mixture, alternate folding portions of the flour mix and the yogurt into the butter mixutre. Fold in the rhubarb. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spread it evenly, and then tap the pan to release the air bubbles. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes up clean, about 50 to 55 minutes. Cool the cake on a wire rack. Dust it with confectioners sugar if desired.

Rhubarb Vinaigrette
Serves 4 to 6

This vinaigrette is terrific served over cold roast chicken on a bed of greens and topped with toasted pecans; or toss it with strawberries and spinach; or drizzle it over pork chops as they come off the grill!

1/2 cup rhubarb, peeled and finely diced
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar, or to taste
1 shallot, diced
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Put the rhubarb and water into a small saucepan, bring the water to a simmer and cook the rhubarb until it is tender but not soggy, about 5 minutes. Add just enough sugar to sweeten the rhubarb. Turn the rhubarb into a small bowl and allow it to cool to luke warm. Whisk in the shallots, vinegar, and oil. Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper.

May 15, 2013

Star Tribune Taste! Minnesota's Bounty!


photo by Rick Nelson

Please Join me and Photographer Mette Nielsen
in Celebrating

Minneapolis Farmers Market, Sat. 5/18 10:30
Cooks of Crocus Hill (Edina), Sat 5/18  2 - 4
Cooks of Crocus Hill (Stillwater), Sun. 5/19 11:00 - 12:30
Cooks of Crocus Hill (St. Paul), Sun. 5/19 2 - 4:00

Please read the terrific article by Rick Nelson in Thursday's Star Tribune Taste!  

May 13, 2013

HUNGRY FOR SUMMER? Taste the Apostles!

Come Explore the Flavors of Summer!

Fresh Bayfield Raspberries 
in a salad, on top of artisan chevre from
Sassy Nanny Goat farm!

Aug. 1 - 4 and Aug. 8 - 11
Spots are going Fast!  Sign on Now!

If you're as hungry for summer as I am, why not plan to pay in the sun and on the Big Lake, NOW?
Join me in to paddle Lake Superior's Apostles Islands and enjoy local food and drink from morning through evening. We'll start off in the Wilderness Inquiry's Little Sand Bay Campsite, paddle to the pristine beaches and through hidden sloughs. We'll feast on fresh white fish, smoked trout, artisan goat, sheep and cow's cheeses, farm eggs and free range pork and sausages ... pick your own blueberries, raspberries and cherries! Sip local craft beer, mead, and wine.  It's a fun physical challenge and a feast for the senses!

May 9, 2013

MINNESOTA'S BOUNTY ... many mushrooms!

Hit the Farmers Markets on Saturday!



It's a good month for oysters, mushrooms that is. They grow up the sides of dead trees, like small shelves. 
Well named, they are bivalve shaped, pearly white and nicely ruffled.  You may find them when wondering through the woods up north or in town, at our farmers markets. They are far more delicate than the distinct morel, but still taste like mushrooms. Delicious pan roasted with asparagus and or ramps and fiddlehead ferns and spring onions and anything else you can toss into the pan. Use enough oil and some salt, and sear them until they're slightly browned and tender.

If you happen to have a friend with a pizza oven, and the moon is full, be sure to open several bottles of champagne,  pull out a seasoned iron skillet and roast these mushrooms to top off that pizza. It is spring. Let the croakers strike up a chorus, kick back and sing along.

Pan Roasted Mushrooms
Serves 2 to 4

1 pound mushrooms - use a mix of oyster, chantrelle, shiitake, and crimini
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt

Toss the mushrooms with the oil and sprinkle with the salt. Heat a cast iron skillet over hot flame, on a grill or in a pizza oven, then toss in the mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes, until the mushrooms are nicely browned and tender. Serve right away

May 2, 2013



Time to Shop! Eat and Cook ... listen in to this terrific piece on the wonderful show with Tom Crann -- Appetites on  MPR

The books are in the stores -- come find Mette and me at the Mill City Market next Sat. May 11!

April 11, 2013

Sweet -- Peas and Radishes!

Photo by Mette Nielsen

Sweet Pea and Radish Salad

Sweet Pea, that's what my dad called me, a term of endearment or sometimes a chide. No wonder, sweet peas are the darlings of spring vegetables, and how frustrating it is to wait for the local varieties to come in. Plant them now (if you haven't already), they begin to take root even through the snow and cold and they grow quickly and delicately, climbing up towards the sun. This simple salad of crisp, crunchy radishes and crisp peas comes together in a snap. 

Sweet Pea and Radish Salad
Serves 2 to 4

Save the extra dressing for basting grilled chicken or fish. It will keep in a jar for a week.

1 tablespoon soy sauce, or to taste
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 cup light sesame oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed
1 cup sliced radishes

In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger and honey, then slowly whisk in the light and dark sesame oil.

Bring a medium pot of water to a rapid boil. Blanch the peas until they turn brilliant green, about 30 seconds, then drain and run under very cold water. Lightly pat dry with a clean towel.

Arrange the peas and the radishes on a large serving plate and drizzle the dressing overall. Serve cold or at room temperature.

April 2, 2013

Oh Asparagus! A Revelation!

photo by Mette Nielsen


All my life, I've loved asparagus, first vegetable of the year! As a kid, we'd take the big clippers to cut the bright stems in my grandmother's garden, leaving some to burst into ferns that helped insure crops for future years. In a roiling kettle, they'd turn bright green, we'd drain and serve on a white linen napkin with a cruet of melted butter to dip on the side. My grandmother, devoted to Emily Post, allowed us to eat the stalks with our fingers. When grilling asparagus came into fashion, I gave it a go, but found it charred the spears to be tasteless; oven roasting turned them limp and dry. Then I discovered pan roasting. It's easy, it's fool-proof, it's quick.

Seared off in butter or oil to keep them from sticking then covered to steam in their own juices, their flavors concentrate and caramelize. Pan roasted asparagus are meatier, more distinct versions of themselves. Gussied up with pancetta, Parmesan cheese and a squeeze of lemon, they are a pan-perfect spring meal. Good crusty bread is always nice.

Pan Roasted Asparagus with Pancetta and Parmesan
Serves 2 to 4

1 tablespoon olive oil or unsalted butter
2 slices pancetta or bacon, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 pound asparagus, tough ends broken off
1/2 lemon
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese, or more to taste

Set a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil or butter, pancetta and shallot. Cook until the pancetta has rendered most of its fat and is slightly crisp, about 3 minutes. Remove and set aside. Add the asparagus and toss to coat with the pan drippings. Cover, lower the heat slightly, and cook until the spears are tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking until the asparagus are slightly browned. Squeeze the lemon over the asparagus, season with salt and pepper, then top with the Parmesan and sprinkle the pancetta or bacon over all. Serve hot.

March 18, 2013

Minnesota's Bounty: The Farmers Market Cookbook!

Minnesota's Bounty:
The Farmers Market Cookbook
So happy to share this wonderful review in this week's PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY for Minnesota's Bounty: The Farmers Market Cookbook. It will be available in stores next month. Mette Nielsen did such an amazing job with the photos ... you can pre-order a copy on line by going to the "Find My Books" link to the right. Please come to the Mill City Farmers Market book launch, May 11!

Minnesota’s Bounty: The Farmers Market Cookbook
Beth Dooley, photos by Mette Nielson. Univ. of Minn., $29.95 (280p) ISBN 978-0-8166-7315-5
Dooley’s enthusiasm for the agricultural bounty of Minnesota is once again championed in her latest cookbook. The Twin Cities television and newspaper food journalist and author assembles a practical guide to the region’s farmers markets for both shopper and chef. Minneapolis and St. Paul’s open market (the oldest continuous farmers market in the nation) is, for Dooley, a classroom for teaching the value of sustainable agriculture. Inspired by the wealth of produce available due to the explosion of local agricultural practices in the area, Dooley promotes an “ingredients-first philosophy” in both the marketplace and kitchen. Photos of colorful melons, peppers, and greens recreate the immediacy of shopping for fresh produce at the open market. To get the most from seasonal produce as well as creative culinary options, Dooley advocates grazing the tables of food artisans and growers. Nearly 200 recipes (organized by fruits, vegetables, cheese, grains, meat, fish, and eggs) focus on vegetable dishes. “Farmers Market Menus” include Midsummer at the Grill with chèvre, lamb chops, and farro salad; a harvest feast menu prepares gingered pear and winter squash soup, spare ribs, and oaty apple bundt cake with cider and brandy glaze. There is a guide to pepper varieties, a “Market Essentials” list, “Quick Ideas,” and “Cook’s Notes” sections. From Minnesota’s bounty to your table, seasonal hand-selected local produce is at the heart of these simple dishes from the heartland. (May)
Reviewed on 03/15/2013 | Details & Permalin

March 14, 2013

St. Pat's - A Crock!

St. Patrick's Day Feast
It's a Crock

Dooley is not my name, it's my husband's.  I took it for the melodious sound of Elizabeth Dooley, conjuring Eliza Doolittle, the heroine of My Fair Lady, who holds her own with such grace. I'm no Julie Andrews, but this winter, "All I want is a Room Somewhere / Far Away from the Cold Night Air," has been my refrain. Thus, like any convert, I've become more Irish than Kevin. The year we traipsed through his ancestor's homeland everyone assumed I was Irish, for my blue eyes, fair skin and loud laugh. 

So on St. Patrick's Day I pull out all the stops. But in Ireland, such celebrations are a total crock. It's a high, holy day in middle of Lent and recognizes the Irish saint, who drummed the snakes out of Ireland while helping the farmers plant their crops. On Crough Patrick, right outside Westport, pilgrims climb the steep slope saying the rosary on the way to worship in the little cathedral at the top. Dinner is a simple roast salmon or lamb stew served with nary a dram.

In the States, the first St. Patrick's Day parade, held in New York City, 1848, organized by the Irish Aid Societies, connected the Irish with their countrymen and soon Chicago, St. Louis, Boston, all followed suit. Other immigrant groups jumped in -- the Italians, Poles, Jews -- as a means of protesting the discrimination they suffered. Of course, afterwards, everyone headed to the pub.

The traditional feast -- corned beef, vegetables and soda bread -- is great stuff, today.

Look for naturally pickled beef (uncured), not that nasty pink stuff, but grass fed brisket. Simmered in beer with aromatic vegetables, it cooks up to be tender and tangy. Leftovers are great on thick slices of soda bread sandwiches the next day.  


Corned Beef & Cabbage & Root Veggies
Serves 4 to 6
Serve this thinly sliced with plenty of the vegetables and potatoes and thick slices of soda bread to mop up all the juices.

2-1/2 to 3 pounds uncured corned beef
1 bottle good beer
1 bay leaf
Several peppercorns
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 onion, quartered
4 carrots, scrubbed
2 turnips, scrubbed
3 to 4 potatoes, scrubbed
1 small head cabbage cut into quarters
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup rough mustard
1/2 cup parsley, chopped

Remove the beef and the seasoning from the package and place in a crock pot or stew pot. Add the beer, bay leaf, pepper corns, mustard seed, onion and 2 carrots. Cover. Turn the crock pot to high, or set the stew pot over a low flame. Simmer the beef 4 hours, until a can be easily inserted into the center.
Remove the beer, tent and set aside.

Cut the 2 carrots into large chunks and add them along with the turnips, potatoes and cabbage into the crock pot or stew pot and cook until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. 

Preheat the broiler. In a small dish, whisk together the honey and mustard. Place the meat on a broiling pan and brush the honey-mustard over the top. Run the meat under the broiler until the glaze is nicely browned and bubbly, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Remove the meat to a cutting board and slice thinly. Serve the meat with the vegetables garnished with the chopped parsley

 Irish Soda Bread
Makes 2 small loaves

Slice this thickly and spread with lots of butter. It’s great for sopping up all the juices from the corned beef and Colannon.

3 tablespoons butter
1-1/4 cups all purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/3 cup dried craisins
1 teaspoon caraway seeds, optional

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, work in the butter until it form s coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg. Stir the wet mixture into the dry one until they form a moist dough. Stir in the craisins and caraway.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Shape into 2 3-inch rounds and set on the greased baking sheet. With a sharp knife, cut a small x into the top of each loaf.

Bake the loaves until golden brown and firm about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove and allow to cool about 10 minutes before serving.

February 13, 2013



For the love of chocolate!  Who put Valentines Day after Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. If you pledged to give up sweets,  I say let's cheat. Not on your sweetheart, but on eating chocolate. And while you're at it, just cheat on the recipe for chocolate mousse, too.

As nice as it is to make a classic chocolate mouse with whipped egg whites, you can achieve close to the same thing by merely folding the melted chocolate into the whipped cream. Granted it won't be as light and airy, but doing this eliminates the worry over serving raw eggs. 

Serve this mousse straight up, or as a filling for sugar cookies or to top a thin slice of pound cake garnished with strawberries. Mound it into meringue shells, spoon it into coffee. It will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator. (Fat chance.) Just be sure to serve it with champagne.

Cheater's Chocolate Mousse 
Serves 2 (easily doubled or tripled)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
In a small saucepan set over low heat, melt together the chocolate and butter until glossy. Remove from the heat and set aside. In a medium bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Gently fold the melted chocolate into the cream. Do not stir it in completely, it should be streaky.
Refrigerate until very stiff.

Note:  Remove the pan from the heat BEFORE the chocolate is completely melted. It will continue to melt once the pan is removed. Allow it to cool just a little while you're whipping the cream.