Hello friends! I've moved my blog to www.freshtart.COM, see you over there! xoxo Stephanie
Asparagus is of course one of spring's best treats. Whether steamed, roasted, or sauteed, everyone adores asparagus snuggled up to eggs or salty ham or even better, both! But my personal favorite is butttery asparagus, especially showered with toasted nuts. This soup puts a good amount of asparagus to creamy use, with brown butter and pecans to gild the lily. A squeeze of lemon and fresh chives keep the gilding in check.
A soup this silky smooth and pretty seems fussy or even fancy, but it's really quite simple to pull together, 30 minutes from start to finish. Given that temps are reaching 90 degrees today, you could eat it chilled with a dollop of Greek yogurt or creme fraiche, with a crisp salad (that includes salty ham and/or a soft-cooked egg!) and welcome spring in style.
If you, like I, set strange challenges for yourself like to eat vegetables for three meals a day as often as possible, you will adore this recipe. It's a flavor- and color-packed way to start a day, but of course would make a terrific lunch or dinner. In my mind it exists in the realm of fried rice, but without the rice, so the focus stays on all of those lovely vegetables. (That said, feel free to add rice!)
Do you cook with coconut oil? It's so delicious, and so good for you, you'll find yourself reaching for it again and again when sauteeing vegetables or making breakfast treats like pancakes. I love that it adds a Thai-inspired fragrance for zero effort - build on that with Thai curry paste, fish sauce, fresh lime, and basil and you'll have a pan full of magic in just a few minutes. Assuming that CSA boxes and farmers markets will not be bereft of produce all season long, this is a terrific dish for plowing through a load of vegetables - mix and match with whatever is showing up.
If you don't eat eggs, you could easily make this dish vegan by substituting soft tofu for the eggs. Scramble away! If you aren't vegan and have leftover chicken or pork or steak from dinner the night before, add it! And certainly substitute whatever nuts you like best. Very adaptable.
If you love eating well while doing good, get thee to Share Our Strength's Annual Blogger Bake Sale, this coming Saturday at Midtown Global Market. You might not know it, but Minnesota has an incredibly talented, vibrant food blogger scene. We call ourselves Fortify: A Food Community, where we connect virtually and in person with the food industry and food lovers in any industry. We love to cook, and bake, and share recipes, and gather to help out where we can.
This year's event is coordinated once again by Delightfully Midwestern blogger Lisa Nguyen Gaulke. When we chatted about the upcoming event, I mentioned it would be fun to share a recipe from last year's sale with all of you. She said, "You have to ask Angharad for her lemon cake recipe, it was my favorite item and last year's best seller...partially because I bought six slices myself!" And so I did ask, therefore the gorgeous recipe below for Lemon-Drenched Lemon Cake, perhaps the best cake name ever. Angharad's blog is Eating for England and is chock full of perfect recipes, gorgeous photos, and bits and bobs of her travels home to England.
Lisa notes that the Kitchen in the Market space at Midtown Global Market is key to the success of the sale. "Bring the kids, walk around, grab lunch, then swing by the sale for dessert. Last year, there were 15 participants and we plan the same this year, with each blogger baking and donating anywhere from 2-4 different kinds of treats. There will be a variety of baked goods - cookies, granola bars, breads, gluten-free cupcakes, even honey and homemade jam!"
And when your treats are devoured: Make. This. Cake.
I saw a recipe for this bread on the terrific blog Against All Grain. As I've noted before, I find eating even gluten-free grains inflammatory (and with a bigger carbohydrate punch than I can get away with, unless I want to gain weight and feel exhausted...). You could call this way of eating Paleo, but I do fear that people have come to believe that a Paleo style of eating means gnawing on huge amounts of bacon, which isn't true at all. Paleo really just refers to eating the whole, unprocessed foods that humans evolved healthfully to eat for most of our existence - greens, roots, nuts, fruits, eggs, and free-range animals. Grains, sugar, and dairy are avoided (some people tolerate dairy better than others, although it's worth noting that when one gives it up for a month and then reintroduces it, it's common to notice low energy and congestion and perhaps even stomach cramps). I do eat legumes in small quantities (per my quinoa cake recipe below). Healthy, naturally occurring fats - olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, grassfed animal fat, nuts/nut oils (not vegetable oils/margarines or transfats) - are not limited but in fact make up the primary source of calories. (Even though I try not to eat loads of cheese, I do still eat butter and ghee/clarified butter).
I find it an incredibly delicious and satisfying way to eat and it has certainly done wonders for my health. Eating carbohydrates in the form of vegetables, nuts, and small amounts of fruit (particularly fresh berries) instead of processed grains and sugars is the path to appetite control, glowing skin, and steady energy.
I'll take all of those, straight up, thank you.
That's a long introduction for how I came to make this bread! So here it is: I follow Against All Grain on Facebook so when Danielle (the blog's lovely author, with a compelling story of how she manages ulceritive colitis with a grain-free diet) posted photos of a grain-free bread that looked like BREAD I had to give it a go. The bread is primarily raw cashew butter, eggs, and a bit of coconut flour. I'm tempted to call this a cake - a pound cake in particular - more than a bread, but I must say that it makes AMAZING French toast, the way that challah or brioche does. I could easily imagine adding citrus zest to the mix or icing a warm loaf with the cinnamon butter glaze from Roost blog's (another terrific grain-free site) pumpkin donut recipe. Needless to say, I think this is a clever recipe that can be adapted any number of sweet or savory ways. That makes it a winner in my book! (Find Danielle's recipe here.)
I made the French toast pictured with eggs and hemp seed milk and topped it with crushed blackberries (quite terrific right now) sweetened with a bit of maple syrup, courtesy of my friend Kathy Yerich's maple trees. My belly is pleasantly full of grain-free French toast, it's going to be more than 70 degrees today, and I'm off to judge a butchering competition at Whole Foods Lake Calhoun.
Happy spring-y weekend! xoxo
Here's a thing: my husband and I are divorcing. It's exactly as sad and stressful as one might imagine, so I've been taking extra steps to take really good care of myself. I already know that eating corn and rice makes be feel pretty lousy - not as lousy as eating gluten - but lethargic and puffy nonetheless, so I've pretty much eliminated them from my diet. I've also made a point of including vegetables in all of my meals, either by juicing, or making smoothies, or eating big salads. Eating light, colorful, crunchy food makes me feel good, fits the season, and makes cooking more fun and interesting.
Although I generally steer away from grains and high carbohydrate food, I do occasionally indulge in quinoa. I just love the nutty taste, and that it makes a terrific breakfast "cereal" as well as a base for a flavor-packed salad. I've been eating a lot of hemp seeds lately because they taste a lot like quinoa, but are even higher in protein and fiber with very few carbohydrates. Now when I make quinoa, I make a 50-50 combination of quinoa and hemp seeds (1/2 cup red quinoa, 1/2 cup hemp seeds, 1 cup water, 1/2 tsp. salt; bring to a boil, cover, simmer for 15 minutes or until quinoa is tender and water is absorbed; eat warm or cover and chill to use in salads or the recipe below).
I also absolutely adore beans and legumes. ADORE. I enjoy them in small servings - they're so lovely in soups or stir-fries or as a binder for savory cakes. The beauty of making crispy cakes (croquettes, really) with quinoa and beans is that you can season them so many different ways. If I'm in the mood for Indian food, I'll use lentils and garam masala and chiles and top them with raita. If I'm craving Mexican food I'll season them with cumin and chiles and top them with chicken, salsa, and cilantro. I'm sure you get the idea...
...so I'll just give you the basic ratios and let you riff on your favorite flavors. You can cook the beans yourself, or open a can of organic refried or whole beans (easily mashed), and in minutes be frying up a crispy cake. Top with a lemon-y salad, or a huge dollop of guacamole (huge!), or a gorgeous pile o' buttery sauteed mushrooms, or a grass-fed burger (like I did just a few minutes ago). Or:
Quinoa Cakes with Arugula & Poached Eggs (Gluten-free)
You can easily multiply this recipe and keep quinoa-bean mixture in the fridge, ready to fry into cakes for any meal of the day.
1 c. cooked quinoa (or quinoa + hemp seeds, see above)
1/2 c. cooked, mashed beans (pinto, navy, black, lentils, etc.)
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. chile powder
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. tempeh, chopped (optional, adds protein and firmness)
2 Tbsp. crumbled feta cheese (optional)
2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped pepitas or other nuts (optional)
garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour as needed
handful arugula leaves, chopped
squeeze of fresh lemon
2 large, organic eggs
freshly ground black pepper
optional: 4 ramps, halved lengthwise
Fill a medium saucepan 2 inches deep with water. Add enough salt to the water for it to be pleasantly salty. Set over medium-high heat.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the quinoa, beans, 1/2 tsp. salt, cumin, chile powder, garlic, tempeh (if using), feta (if using), and nuts (if using). Add garbanzo bean flour, a few teaspoons at a time, until mixture is firm. Form into two patties and set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, add the quinoa cakes. Fry until nicely browned and crispy (take a peek before flipping) and then carefully flip. Fry until crispy on the second side and transfer to plates. (If using ramps, add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and fry the ramps over medium heat until crispy on both sides. Divide between the two plates.)
When the water boils, turn heat down so that the water is barely simmering—small bubbles should barely break the surface. Crack one egg into a small dish or mug and slide it into the water. Quickly do the same with the second egg. Set the timer for 3 and 1/2 minutes. The eggs whites will look shredded, but that's OK. Make sure the water maintains no more or no less than barely breaking bubbles.
While the eggs cook, toss the arugula with a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Arrange the arugula atop the quinoa cakes.
When the timer goes off, use a slotted spoon to scoop one egg out of the water. Tilt the spoon so the liquid drains completely off, then place the egg on top of the arugula. Repeat with the second egg. Top eggs with a sprinkle of salt and a few grinds of black pepper each. Serve immediately.
I had the pleasure just a few short weeks ago of doing a cooking demo at the Minneapolis Home & Garden Show with Sea Change executive chef Jamie Malone. Since the show, Malone was named to Food & Wine Magazine's list of Best New Chefs 2013! Very exciting for her, and for Minneapolis. If you're waiting for a show at the Guthrie to enjoy a meal at Sea Change, you're so missing out. Very soon, when spring arrives, make your way over to their stunning patio, overlooking the Stone Arch Bridge, and feast upon oysters and perfectly cooked, sustainable fish, washed down with beautiful wine. A night to remember, for sure.
And for a night at home in front of a roaring fire, because that's just where we're still at, make this simple, elegant fish. I hadn't baked fish in a salt crust before doing the demo with Malone, but I sure will now. First of all, it's really fun. The crust is just egg whites and kosher salt, mixed until it feels like wet sand.
It takes just a couple of minutes to pat it around the fish - and draw on a smiley face, per Malone's suggestion - which can be done ahead by a few hours if you like. After a brief bake, crack open the crust (very impressive) to reveal moist, silky fish, not salty at all but perfectly seasoned, ready to eat alongside spring vegetables with a drizzle of best olive oil. You can't beat if for elegance and simplicity.
I made the version in the picture with whole snapper because I hadn't called ahead for striped bass. After having both (the striped bass at the Home & Garden Show with Malone vs. the snapper I made) call Coastal Seafoods ahead for the striped bass (they can order it but don't stock it); it's meatier flesh is a perfect fit for baking inside the crust.
Chef Jamie Malone's recipe for Whole Fish Baked in a Salt Crust with Fennel & Olives at TC Taste/Minnesota Monthly Magazine.
In honor of Earth Day (April 22), I used Prairie Vodka, carefully made in right here in Minnesota from organic corn (gluten-free!). It's a beautiful collaboration, among farmers and distiller, absolutely check out their bucolic website to prove it. The vodka has a decidedly fruity bouquet, so I thought it would be fun to play with CSA box stalwarts mint, honey, and cucumbers - topped with bubbles of course - for a summer cooler.
Why am I writing about summer? Because I predict we will go from horizontal April snow straight to 90-degree May days, with nary a balmy 72 degrees in between, and I want you to be ready to press a cold bubbly tipple against your sweaty forehead. Also, I'm tired of complaining and am ready to just will this winter to be gone. So make this drink to hurry things up! And to celebrate locally-made, organic vodka, and the promise of summer so tantalizingly near.
And then tuck the recipe away for when you're swimming in cukes, and mint has overrun your garden, and you're blissfully complaining about damn Minnesota humidity. Because that's how we do in the land where everyone is above average.
Cheers to Earth Day!
Certainly green juices are all the rage right now and I wouldn't blame you one bit if you were rolling your eyes at the trend. We all know how food crushes go, where you suddenly don't know anything about health if you're not snacking on goji berries, sipping kombucha, and whirring spirulina into kale smoothies.
But this juice trend I actually love and as my fellow spring-starved Minnesotans, I suspect you might too. I've had a juicer for a couple of years but hadn't really used it. As buds pop on the trees, thoughts turn to not just romance but also lighter, more colorful food. And honestly, after being completely fed up with blaming the weather for how sluggish I've been feeling, I was inspired by a gloriously juicy post on Roost (you must take a peek at it, what a gorgeous blog!) to dust off the juicer and make myself a glass...of spring! Kablam! Fresh green juice is at once tart and intensely herbal, with a hint of sweet and salt. It smells like not-winter, and makes me smile, and does other nice things too like wake me up better than a cup of coffee and add a bit of glow to my skin. What's not to love?
When you prep the herbs, vegetables, and fruit for your juicer, you realize pretty quickly that juicing consumes a fair amount of produce each week. Which is terrific, I can't think of an easier way to add a serious blast of plants to your diet. I'm obviously working with co-op and grocery store offerings right now, but I can't help but dream of summer, and farmers markets, and this slick new (to me) way for using up all of the loveliness that arrives each week in a CSA box. I'm the queen of pickles, and I'm happy to make sauces and soups and can and freeze them, but adding fresh juice to the mix is the perfect way to guarantee that nothing in that box goes to waste.
If you too are dreaming of garden-ripe treats, get thee to Seward Co-op this coming Saturday, April 13, for their 12th Annual Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) Fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bring the kids and meet with more than 30 participating farms as you decide which CSA share to purchase. Make sure to enter drawings to win a meat bundle from the experts in the co-op’s meat department (valued at $200); copies of Seward’s 40th Anniversary book for sale; and $1,500 worth of full grocery cart giveaways to several lucky winners (eligible with a $20 purchase). See the full list of farms and start planning for a bounty of fresh produce, flowers, cheeses, and meats!
Slam a juice before you head over to get inspired...
And for lunch or dinner, make this lovely Spring CSA Box Pizza via Seward Co-op! The colors and flavors are just stunning. Bring on spring and short of that (snow-cough-snow), see you at the fair!
Spring CSA Box Pizza
Recipe via Seward Co-op
Holy Land Lavash bread (or flatbread naan), one package
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 bunch asparagus, woody end snapped off, sliced lengthwise into 1-inch pieces
4 petit pan or sunburst summer squashes, sliced thin
3/4 lb. sliced wild or farmed fresh mushrooms
1 – 4 oz log of Stickney Hill fresh chevre (goat cheese), broken into small pieces, set aside
1 lb. fresh mozzarella, sliced as thin as possible, set aside
1 large spring onion, bulb and green part sliced thin, set aside
2 Tbsp. shredded Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, picked from stems
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. If using a pizza stone, preheat that in the oven too. Otherwise place individual pizzas directly on the center rack.
Lightly sauté asparagus summer squash and mushrooms separately, but in the same pan, using the 2 Tbsp. of oil divided. Use more oil if needed. Set each vegetable aside separately in small bowls.
Lay out the 4 Lavash breads on a board or on the counter. Divide and distribute the mozzarella cheese among them all. Distribute all the other sautéed vegetables evenly among the pizzas on top of the mozzarella cheese.
Divide and distribute the chevre pieces with your fingers evenly among each pizza in 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces. This is kind of messy as the cheese is a bit wet and sticky.
Sprinkle the spring onion pieces around the pizzas as well as the Parmesan cheese. Distribute the fresh thyme among them. Season with salt and pepper.
Place in the preheated oven for 15 to 18 minutes, turning mid way as needed. Bake until crust is golden brown.
Serve with a side salad… some of the ingredients of which you may have found from the very same CSA Box!
I know, I know, I should have posted this before Easter, but lamb with gremolata is lovely all spring (year) long, so make it this week instead! I had let gremolata - a relish of minced lemon zest, garlic, and parsley - slip out of my rotation but it's back with a vengeance, thanks to helping out at a Cooking the Market class at Kitchen in the Market last week.
Have you ever taken a Cooking the Market class? Led by co-owner chef Molly Herrmann, the classes are pure improvisation, cooking with imagination and instinct, the perfect cooking class in my mind because it captures exactly the joy (and reality!) of cooking at home. Molly leads the class through a tour of Midtown Global Market, pointing out potential ingredients from The Salty Tart, Holy Land Market, Grassroots Gourmet, Produce Exchange, and El Burrito Mercado. The goal is to step out of your comfort zone and experiment with new ingredients while a chef provides guidance and assistance. Add music and wine and you've got a winning evening out with friends, coworkers, or family.
Last week's gremolata topped a dish our group named Mediterranean Tacos: socca (chickpea flour pancakes) topped with harissa, crispy Brussels sprouts, fried haloumi cheese, and preserved lemon gremolata. So lovely! And a pretty terrific Meatless Monday dinner if you need ideas...
You may have had gremolata atop osso bucco, where its bright, fresh zing is a traditional contrast to silky braised meat. But you don't have to think hard to imagine that it is just fabulous tossed with warm (or cold) new potatoes with olive oil, or spooned over a pan of sauteed peas, or swirled into soup, or sprinkled over seared fish...on and on. Add mint if you like - terrific with lamb, of course - or shallots instead of garlic. Some recipes call for adding anchovies which would probably make the best egg salad sandwich ever (still have Easter eggs to use up?) For me, when spring is frustratingly near but not yet quite here, punches of color and zest are not just welcome, but essential.