Monday, June 18, 2012

Great Local Food News: Fitgers Pub to open in North Loop

I'm moving from one part of Minneapolis to another part of Minneapolis in less than a month. This is a big deal for me, as I don't move often (or at least I haven't moved often since I was about 22, when I used to move a lot (I'm now 33)). And it's bittersweet. Sweet because my family is embarking on a big exciting new era of our life together - the kind with real bedrooms and a fenced yard and maybe a grill. Bitter because we're leaving a neighborhood we're beyond fond of - obsessed with, really, so much so that our obsession is often misconstrued as laziness, since our socializing mostly involves us convincing all our friends to come hang out within five blocks of our condo. (What? It's not my fault our neighborhood's where it's at.)

Anyway. All this is to preface something exciting MC mentioned last week, confirmed more recently by Heavy Table, an awesome local online food publication (which just happens to be responsible for about 50% of my site's traffic - thanks, dudes!). The sad monstrosity on 1st St and 3rd Ave N, formerly known as Trocaderos, the weirdest dining establishment ever to grace the North Loop, has been purchased by the Duluthian brewmastermeisters who own Fitgers Pub. According to this Star Tribune article, come "late fall or winter", they are going to open a Fitgers branch in the space, with music and a "Beer Hall" and, in a year or so, they will start actually brewing there. I can't even tell you how exciting this is for the neighborhood. That building has been such an eyesore for the past few years. And there is nothing worse than an eyesore with untapped potential. MC is sad this is happening at the end of our ten-year stint here, but I say it's yet another draw to keep us hanging out here even when it's not our official home. (Plus, we plan on moving back here as soon as the children are out of high school, and I have a feeling Fitgers will be an addition to the community that is likely to stay until our return.)

In our new part of town... we have these to look forward to:

Birdhouse, likely to have lots of gluten- and egg-free items, so good for the whole fam

Rye Deli, which we love love love and can't wait to be closer to!

Tilia - the only restaurant we leave our neighborhood for at present... will soon be just a lake away! We can totally swim to it.

Lucia's, I guess will be our new Moose & Sadie's?

And, weather-permitting, if I can handle the mosquitoes... The Tin Fish (awful website) and Bread & Pickle.

I think it will be a fun summer. And then in the fall we'll bundle up and trek downtown to Fitgers.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

That fine line between breakfast and dessert: Baked Oatmeal with Raspberries and Rhubarb

Okay. Truly, this is 100% breakfast food. I mean, I'm not saying it's not reminiscent of a crisp. And I'm not saying it wouldn't be awesome with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, especially following a light dinner al fresco (gazpacho, anyone?)... But it's got oats and oat flour forming its body (no wheat), maple syrup and orange juice/zest as sweeteners (no refined sugar), and nearly-caramelized summer fruits holding it all together in all their jammy glory. (I. LOVE. RHUBARB. AND. BERRIES.) And in this household we enjoyed it not with ice cream after dinner, but with plain yogurt bright and early in the morning.

Breakfast Heaven

We had it hot the first day, lukewarm the second, and straight-out-of-the-fridge cold on the third.  All three ways were great (but different from one another, so go ahead and experiment and let me know if you have a preference). All three were decidedly breakfasty. And decidedly delicious. And that's all I really have to say. Happy Father's Day!

Sort of seasonalRhubarb and BerriesBaked

Baked Oatmeal with Rhubarb and Raspberries
From me (to you!)
Yield: 6 servings

Fruit compote
1 pound rhubarb, chopped into 1/2" pieces
1 pint raspberries or other berries (if strawberries, halve or quarter them)
1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1 teaspoon cinnamon or ground ginger (optional)

Baked oatmeal
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup oat flour*
1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
1/2 stick unsalted butter or Earth Balance margarine, 1/4" dice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

You can make the topping in two ways: Either, toss together all fruit compote ingredients in a greased shallow baking dish (e.g. 2-quart or 8X8" or 9X9" pan) and bake 10 minutes; OR, stir together in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, until thickened and a little mushy. (The benefit of the former is EASY, the benefit of the latter is CONTROL, as on the stovetop you could cook it with more precision, until it reduces and thickens to consistency of your liking. I personally go for easy. It thickens over time anyway.)

Meanwhile, mix the oatmeal ingredients in a bowl with your fingertips or a fork, until  there are no more large chunks of butter/margarine, and the mixture is crumbly.

Stir fruit filling, pour it into a greased baking dish if you used the stovetop to cook it, then sprinkle oat mixture over it and bake until topping is crisp and golden and fruit is bubbling, about 30 minutes.

Serve with yogurt, ricotta cheese and a little honey... or ice cream.

Stores for at least 24 hours covered at room temp, and ~4 days in the refrigerator.

* Grind up 1/3 cup oats in food processor or blender, or use another not-too-fussy, mild-flavored flour, e.g. whole wheat, spelt, kamut, barley, sorghum, teff flour. I wanted my gluten-free baby to have this, so I opted for oat flour, but all-purpose would do the job for you non-allergy-folks too.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Summer's arrived! Let's have GAZPACHO!

I'm spending some time with my family in California right now. As much as I get excited about asparagus and rhubarb when the weather turns in Minnesota, my reaction is much stronger when I encounter the beautiful - cheap - produce available at the local farmer's market in my hometown. There is JUST SO MUCH. And it's all so gorgeous and fresh and delicious. And what they lack in sausage-egg sandwiches from the Mill City Farmer's Market they make up for in fancy sauerkraut. (Seriously - the garlic dill pickle kind is crazy good. And, you know, probiotic and raw and Vitamin-C-and-lactic-acid-packed and everything else (finger-licking) good for you, so how could one resist?)

Little Bowl of Gazpacho

I've tooted my own horn here a thousand times before for being resourceful in the kitchen. When I'm at my parents' house though, sourcing from their enormous, always-full refrigerator and snipping fresh herbs from their deck and going to their farmer's market on Saturday morning, "being resourceful" is so refreshingly effortless. Everything is good here. So everything you make ends up good. It's so fun and rewarding!

Big Bowl of Gazpacho

Tonight I made gazpacho. I'd been craving soup but it was sunny and warm out, so warm food didn't seem appropriate. We had tons of fresh vegetables on hand and, conveniently, three chilled cans of original V-8 juice - and I remembered the delicious V-8-based gazpacho that they used to serve at one of the first restaurants I ever worked at like fifteen years ago and, well, that's called inspiration, folks. After a little Food Network searching, I settled on an Ina Garten recipe with hundreds of 5-star reviews as my starting point. What resulted was perfect. Probably the best gazpacho I've ever had, for whatever that's worth. In making the recipe my own, I did the things I usually do: upped the acid and threw in a bunch of fresh herbs. Excellent, healthy, cheap. Enjoy! (And, once again, I've got a ton of pictures because I couldn't decide. I hope you like them. I sure like your pictures.)

What a 1" piece looks likeFinely chopped herbs and garlicChopped veggies ready to goMixed!A little enhancement - Meyer Lemon Olive OilAdd the liquids...Perfect bite

Oh yeah - elsewhere on this blog and comparably delicious: Watermelon Gazpacho.

Adapted from Ina Garten
Yield: 4-6 servings

1 firm cucumber, seeds removed
1 zucchini
1 yellow or red bell pepper, cored and seeded
3-4 beautiful tomatoes (Ina says plum, I used Roma, multicolored heirlooms would be stunning)
1 bunch of scallions, white and green parts
3 garlic cloves
Small handful each basil (5 large leaves), cilantro and parsley (5-6 sprigs, leaves and stems)*
3 12-oz cans tomato juice or V-8**
1/4 cup lime or lemon juice*** 
1/4 cup champagne (or white wine) vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil (I used 2 tablespoons Meyer lemon olive oil)
1-3 teaspoons kosher salt*
1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Roughly chop the cucumber, zucchini, bell pepper, tomatoes, and scallions into 1-inch chunks. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped (about five one-second pulses worked for me). Be careful to not overprocess; you don't want mushy or mealy gazpacho, do you?

Pulse the garlic and herbs in the food processor until finely chopped. (Pesto consistency before drizzling in oil.)

Combine vegetables and garlic-herb mixture in a large bowl. Add tomato juice or V-8, vinegar, olive oil, lemon or lime juice, salt, and pepper. Add 1/2 cup to 1 cup water if you want it thinned out a bit. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop. It keeps for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. (After that the cucumber and zucchini get a little funky and the herbs/garlic kind of overpower all the other vegetables).

* Other good herb options would be tarragon, chives, or lemon balm. Oregano and marjoram too, but in smaller amounts.

** Check the sodium content of your tomato juice or V-8 and adjust salt accordingly. One can of V-8, for instance, has the equivalent of 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Ina's recipe called for 1/2 tablespoons of salt (about 1 1/2 teaspoons). I subtracted 3/4 teaspoon salt from that = 3/4 teaspoon... rounded up to 1 teaspoon since I'd added a little more liquid. You want a total salt content of about 3 teaspoons (2000ish grams), including that in juice. Err on the side of too little salt and then taste before serving, after flavors have had a chance to marry.

*** I used lime - it was about 4 limes' worth, but they weren't v. juicy limes.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Crockpot Chicken Curry

Hi. Remember me? The woman behind the cake behind the allergies behind the children behind the blog behind the recipes. I didn't even try to make that make sense. It's me. Edith. Edith-Nicole to some of you. "Chef Edith" to others (heavens, that's never going to not be funny!). I've been busy. And it's not the kind of busy that is appropriate to ramble on about on one's food blog. It is, however, the kind of busy that calls for crockpot dinners.

Chicken Curry 019

This one here is a G-E-M. I've made it twice in the last month and shared it with company both times. Served it with sweet brown rice the first time and quinoa the second. It has been a hit with husbands, girlfriends, babysitters, and even the children. The recipe is based on one from a crockpot cookbook to which I've referred a handful of times here before - it's not failed me yet, you should get it if you are looking for a whole slew of crockpot basics. My modifications were as follows: less oil, more acid (added tomato paste and increased quantity of citrus), less work (I eliminated pureeing the sauce the second time I made this and preferred the texture when it wasn't super smooth), and more spice but less spic-Y (worked to make it palatable for the children without sacrificing flavor for the adults, upping certain typical curry spices and swapping out cayenne and hot paprika for increased amounts of aleppo pepper and sweet paprika - win. win. win.).

Here are lots of pictures. Since the photo-editing website I used closed, I've been messing around with Hipstamatic, with little success but a lot of fun. I can't decide which to share with you so I'm just sharing them all, in chronological order. Go make this! It's really good!

IMG_2160Chicken Curry 001Chicken Curry 002Chicken Curry 003Chicken Curry 004Chicken Curry 006Chicken Curry 012Chicken Curry 016Chicken Curry 021Chicken Curry 023

Crockpot Chicken Curry
Yield: 4-5 servings

2-3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts and/or thighs*
1 tablespoon oil (I used bacon fat)
3 onions, coarsely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground or whole cumin seeds
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon aleppo pepper
1 teaspoon mustard seeds (brown or yellow)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon fresh (jarred) ginger
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28-oz can whole or diced tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh lime or lemon juice (from about 2 limes or 1 lemon)
1 head cauliflower, broken up into large florets
A handful frozen peas (1/2 - 1 cup) (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

To serve
2 cups cooked quinoa**
Plain yogurt
Lemon or lime wedges
Fresh cilantro

Heat oil (or bacon fat) in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Saute for 5 minutes, or until softened. While the onions are cooking, cut up the chicken breasts, if using, into palm-sized pieces. Add garlic, spices, ginger, and 1/8 teaspoon salt more, and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomato paste and tomatoes and stir over medium heat until there are no clumps of tomato paste left. If using whole tomatoes, break them up a bit with a wooden spoon or spatula. Remove from heat and stir in lime or lemon juice. (If you want a smooth sauce, puree it now in a blender or food processor. Totally unnecessary though.)

Grease the ceramic dish of a large round or oval crockpot. Layer a third of the chicken at the bottom of the dish (put dark meat at bottom, white meat at top, if using a mix). Top with quarter of the sauce and then a third of the cauliflower. Repeat two more times and then finish with the remaining quarter of the sauce. Cook on high for 1 hour, then reduce heat to low and cook for 3.5 hours. Add peas (I also put some cooked sweet potatoes in at this point because I had them) and cook for another half hour.

Serve hot over rice or quinoa, with plain yogurt, lemon or lime wedges and some fresh cilantro sprigs.

* I think the thighs end up better. Use all thighs if you like dark meat. If you use chicken breasts only, check them after 3 hours on low, instead of 3.5-4.

** To make quinoa, bring 1 cup rinsed quinoa + 2 cups water or broth to boil in a saucepan, reduce heat and simmer for about fifteen minutes, until water is absorbed and quinoa has little tails. Fluff with a wooden spoon and serve.