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Modern Maple

Posted byAlison Aten on 14 Mar 2013 | Tagged as: Cooking, Food

Red cabbage and Berry Salad by Teresa Marrone from Modern MapleModern Maple by Teresa MarroneToday’s post is an excerpt from our new cookbook, Modern Maple by Teresa Marrone, the second title in our Northern Plate series.


A maple tree is a lovely thing. Its hard, fine-grained wood is used to craft beautiful furniture and specialty items as diverse as bowling pins, butcher blocks, and stringed instruments. In summer, its lush canopy of leaves provides welcome shade, and in fall, those same leaves—minus their chlorophyll, which provides the green hue—adorn cityscapes, fencerows, and lakeshores with their stunning displays of autumn color. Some would argue, however, that late winter to early spring is the maple’s finest time, for that is when groundwater pumping through the wood of the tree, rising from the roots to the branch tips, can be tapped to make maple syrup.

Red Cabbage and Berry Salad

Ever get a craving for fresh, raw, colorful vegetables and fruits that are simply prepared? Here’s the perfect fix. I came up with this combination one day when I was staring down a half of a red cabbage lurking in the crisper drawer. Suddenly I knew I wanted to combine it with blueberries and raspberries. The method just came together as I was fixing supper, and I have to say, it’s really delicious. I’m sure it’s chock-full of vitamins and antioxidants; deep purple, red, or blue foods simply radiate good health. Serves 4–5.

½  medium red cabbage (you might not need it all)

½ cup thinly sliced white onion

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 ½  teaspoons kosher salt

½-¾ orange, peeled

1 tablespoon maple syrup

2 teaspoons olive oil or vegetable oil (Smude Farm’s sunflower oil is very good here)

1 cup fresh blueberries

½  cup fresh raspberries, large berries halved before measuring

Cut cabbage into two quarters. Remove core from one quarter and discard, then cut the wedge crosswise into ¼-inch-wide slices. You’ll need about 3 cups of sliced cabbage, so you may also need to core and slice some of the second quarter. In a large nonreactive mixing bowl, combine sliced cabbage, onion, vinegar, and salt; stir well. Set aside at room temperature to marinate for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring several times. At the end of the marinating time, fill the bowl with cold tap water and swirl the cabbage to rinse off the salt and vinegar. Pour into a wire-mesh strainer and drain, then rinse again; let drain for 5 to 10 minutes.

While cabbage is draining, separate the orange into segments. Use your fingers to break each segment into ½-inch pieces, holding the segment over the empty mixing bowl so the juices drip into the bowl; add the orange pieces to the bowl as you go. Add syrup and oil to the bowl; stir to mix. Return drained cabbage mixture to the bowl; add blueberries and raspberries and stir gently to mix.


For a listing of upcoming events, demos, and classes with Teresa, please click on the title’s hyperlink, at the beginning of this post.

Celebrate Food Day with Zingy Squash Chili

Posted byAlison Aten on 24 Oct 2012 | Tagged as: Cooking

Eat More VegetablesIn recognition of national Food Day, a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food, today’s guest post is from Tricia Cornell, author of Eat More Vegetables: Making the Most of Your Seasonal Produce.

I recently had the pleasure of hearing Chris Blanchard speak about the challenges of organic farming. Chris is a farmer at Rock Spring Farm and a farming consultant.  He helps organic farmers get started or scale up.

He opened with an anecdote that seemed to sum up farming for me: “One of the biggest compliments you can give someone in my community is, ‘Boy, you work hard!’ They see the lights of your tractor out there at 9 p.m. and say, ‘You are such a hard worker!’” he said. “How come nobody ever says, ‘Wow. You work so efficiently!’?”

Then, for the audience, he mimed a new organic farmer trying to figure out how to make a living: Okay, if I want to make X thousand dollars a year — and here Chris named a figure that was just barely middle class — and I can get about X pounds of vegetables off an acre and sell them for X dollars a pound . . . then I need about 10 to 15 acres of vegetables under cultivation. Plus acreage for crop rotation.

(I left the numbers out because I wasn’t taking notes and don’t want to let my faulty memory make Chris’s math look bad. I’m sure his math is very good.)

And here is where these hypothetical farmers probably need to sit down for a minute to catch their breath, let their hearts stop racing, and think about how on earth a single farmer or a farming couple could possibly work 10 to 15 acres by themselves. Are there enough hours in the day? Is it physically possible? Never mind that cropland in parts of the Midwest is selling for the truly gobsmacking price of $10,000 an acre.

And yet, because it takes a special kind of person to be an organic farmer, and that kind of person isn’t going to be daunted by impossibilities, Chris has farming clients who want to make it work, and, more importantly, we have organic produce in our co-ops, farmers markets, CSA shares, and, increasingly, big-box food stores.

Organic food sales reached $26 billion in 2010.  That’s about 4 percent of total food sales. According to two separate studies, 26 percent of people say they regularly buy organic food, but nearly 60 percent say they would like to.

One organization trying to bridge that gap between the desire and the ability to buy organic is the Center for Science in the Public Interest. CSPI has declared October 24 Food Day and is organizing events around the country to celebrate and promote good, sustainable food.

In honor of Food Day, I’m looking forward to attending tonight’s screening of Food Fight at Open Arms.  I’ll be part of a panel discussion about our food system with Mike Venker, board member and Cargill division vice president; Lindsay Rebhan, urban farm consultant; Open Arms baker/farm liaison Rita Panton; and Farm Director Ben Penner.

My family has been getting fantastic organic produce from Hog’s Back Farm for nine years. Every Halloween I use the beautiful butternut squashes we get to make a big pot of squash chili and serve it at our block’s pre-trick-or-treating potluck.

Squash Chili

Squash skeptics often find that the mild-mannered cucurbit needs a little bit of kick. Or a lot. And this chili has a lot of kick. It’s bone warming and comforting and packed with nutritive goodness. The trick is to cut the squash nice and small so the texture is like chili and not like squash in sauce. Definitely use butternut squash for this recipe: it is easy to peel and cut and will hold its shape nicely.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3 large cloves garlic

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground allspice

2 dried red peppers, seeds and ribs removed, chopped

4 cups  chopped plum tomatoes in their own juices (2 15-ounce cans)

¼ cup dry red wine

4 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into half-inch cubes

salt and pepper to taste

small bunch cilantro, chopped

Place oil, onion, garlic, and spices (chili powder through red pepper) in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat. Stirring occasionally, cook until onion is soft and translucent, about 8–10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, wine, and squash. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a low simmer. Cook until squash is soft, about 20 minutes. Season to taste. Stir in cilantro.

Living Here, Loving Minnesota with Kim Ode

Posted byAlison Aten on 20 Sep 2012 | Tagged as: Authors, Cooking, Interview

phpyDC97BAn occasional series highlighting local authors and their favorite ways to spend a Minnesota weekend.

Kim Ode has spent most of 2012 talking about her latest cookbook, Rhubarb Renaissance, and is trying to decide what food to tackle next. She remains a member of the St. Paul Bread Club and also plays trombone with the Calhoun-Isles Community Band. Kim  Ode

What is a typical weekend for you?

“Typical” changes with the season, given that in summer, we’re on our sailboat on Lake Superior whenever possible. Otherwise, I’m happiest tucked in at home, putzing in the garden or organizing shelves–unexpectedly satisfying! Wherever I am, cooking for friends often is involved, usually with a recipe I’ve never tried. I like to pull people out onto the culinary tightrope with me!

What are some of your favorite local Friday night activities?

After a week at the Star Tribune, I rarely want to leave the house. I’m a locabore, I guess, but a happy one. If I’ve planned to bake in my brick oven on Saturday, then Friday nights are for mixing bread dough so it gets that long overnight rise to develop the best flavor.

What/where do you eat on weekends? What’s a typical Sunday breakfast for you?

I’m happiest when I’m cooking for myself and others, but Tosca in Linden Hills is a small gem with great squash ravioli. Mill Valley Kitchen in St. Louis Park manages to be sumptuous and healthy. I love Travail Kitchen and Amusements in Robbinsdale but know enough not to fight the weekend crowds.

Sunday breakfasts is plural. My husband gets two eggs over easy, toast, and bacon every week because that’s what he lives for, emphasis on Once A Week. While I will reserve some bacon for myself, I love to eat leftovers for breakfast–last night’s potstickers or pizza or mashed potatoes. And sourdough toast–with mayonnaise and garden tomatoes in the summer or with mustard and baked beans in the winter.

What is your weekend reading like?

After the newspaper (duh), I’ll riffle through cookbooks or magazines during the day. For whatever reason, I read best at night, mostly nonfiction, although the Strib’s books editor, Laurie Hertzel, always has good fiction writers in mind. I just finished reading chef Marcus Samuelsson’s memoir, Yes, Chef, and it’s terrific. My biggest challenge is holding off on rereading Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series. I have read the twenty books three times and have vowed to let at least five years pass before diving in again.

What is your top Minnesota getaway?

Has to be Lake Superior, anywhere on that spectacular body of water. Grand Marais’ great hug of a harbor is a top destination.

Kim Ode at Chum Rhubarb Festival

Posted bylucia.randle on 19 Jun 2012 | Tagged as: Cooking, Event, Fairs, MHS press

phpedrcAdThis Saturday, June 23, will mark the 8th Annual Chum Rhubarb Festival in Duluth, Minnesota. From 9 am to 4 pm enjoy games, crafts, musical performances, silent auctions, and of course delicious rhubarb delicacies.

Food booths around the festival will showcase all the different–and tasty!–ways to utilize rhubarb, including rhubarb lemonade, rhubarb brats and burritos, and various pastries and pies. Gardeners will be available to answer questions about growing rhubarb and to judge contests. Families will enjoy food and activities as well as learn new ways of preparing rhubarb.

Kim Ode, author of Rhubarb Renaissance, will be featured in an onstage cooking demonstration starting at noon, teaching guests how to make Confetti Salad. Before and after the demonstration, Ode will be selling and signing her book.

Admission is free for the festival, so make the trip to Duluth this weekend for the 8th Annual Chum Rhubarb Festival!

Stewart Woodman’s Birdhouse Opening

Posted bylucia.randle on 12 Jun 2012 | Tagged as: Authors, Cooking, Food, Uncategorized

phpU30b82Stewart Woodman, author of Shefzilla, will soon debut his second restaurant in the Twin Cities. The chef-owner of Heidi’s Minneapolis is ready to launch Birdhouse in Uptown. Starting with a soft opening this week, Birdhouse will serve breakfast, lunch, and brunch inside the restaurant as well as on the patio. The official opening of the restaurant is scheduled for late June.

The new restaurant, in the former Duplex space, will have a healthy menu focusing on “a lot of vegetables” and “a lot of vegetarian and vegan offerings,” Woodman told Minnesota Monthly. The restaurant will feature Ben Mauk as executive chef as well as other Heidi’s employees who have joined the Birdhouse team.

Stewart and his wife, Heidi, are extremely excited for their new venture. Be sure to keep an eye out for the new healthy food spot next time you’re in Uptown.

Also visit Woodman’s blog for more news about his activities in the city.

Fulton Brewery Hosts Tap Room and Food Trucks

Posted bylucia.randle on 05 Jun 2012 | Tagged as: Cooking, Event, Food, Uncategorized

Fulton BreweryFulton Brewery, located in downtown Minneapolis, opened last fall in a 1950s warehouse converted into a brewery and tap room for everyone to enjoy.

This local beer was created in 2006 by four Minnesota men working out of a home-made brewery in their garage. They have turned their fun hobby into a thriving business, offering four custom Minnesota brews. The Fulton boys believe in bringing the community together. Their beers are now making their way into bars and restaurants around the city, including the stands at Target Field.

This summer, the brewery is taking advantage of its location and working with local food trucks to become a fun stop for fans on their way to and from Twins games. Every game day a different food truck will be parked outside the brewery. For a complete schedule, visit the Fulton website.

Additionally, the brewery tap room is open on Fulton BreweryFridays from 3 pm to 10 pm and on Saturdays from noon until 10 pm. Enjoy the Minneapolis-made Fulton beer on their new deck. Visit on a food truck day and enjoy great local food with your beer.

Make your way to the brewery this weekend to enjoy good beer and food, a great atmosphere, and perhaps even a Twins game.

La Belle Vie: One of the 25 Best Bars in America

Posted byAlison Aten on 15 May 2012 | Tagged as: Cooking

North Star Cocktails Parlez-Vous cocktail by Johnny Michaels, photo by Kate N.G. Sommers

Men’s Fitness recently deemed La Belle Vie as one of the 25 Best Bars in America. The  Parlez-Vous cocktail is noted as a standout. Bar manager Johnny Michaels, author of North Star Cocktails, calls it “a real favorite with the ladies.” For more information about Johnny and the North Star Bartenders’ Guild, visit their website.

Other midwestern bars that made the list are The Old Fashioned in Madison, Wisconsin, and The Aviary and The Violet Hour in Chicago.


Ode on Rhubarb

Posted byAlison Aten on 10 Apr 2012 | Tagged as: Cooking

Eating, Reading and Living Well

Today’s blog post is a poem by Kim Ode, author of Rhubarb Renaissance.

Meet her Wednesday, April 11,  at 7:00 p.m. at the Merriam Park Library as part of the Eating, Reading & Living Well program hosted by the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library and sponsored by Mississippi Market.


Come midmorning, my sister and I

Would be shooed from the sandbox

To pick a dozen stalks of rhubarb

For that day’s pie.

There is a knack to picking rhubarb.

Grab too high and you snap the stalk.

Grab too low and you lose the leverage

For that crucial tug from the root,

Like pulling a boot from spring’s muddy gumbo.

Then we would take our lives in our hands

Lopping off leaves coursing with enough poison

To kill a congregation –

Or so we’d come to believe

Given the stern order never to taste them.

The work was both gratifying and disconcerting,

Entrusted to wield foliage so deadly

We could not feed it even to the hogs,

Bur heaved the leaves into the ditch

Onto a wilting mound that grew with every pie.

So, if I hesitate over that first bite,

It’s only a flicker of remembering how it felt

To bring those stalks into the house,

Hoping we had not been trusted too much.

–Kim Ode

Rhubarb Renaissance

For recipes and rhubarb inspiration, see:

Star Tribune feature

Spiced Couscous with Rhubarb and Figs recipe featured on

Kim on Wisconsin Public Radio (Archive 4/9/12 @ 11:45)

Eat More Vegetables!

Posted byAlison Aten on 03 Apr 2012 | Tagged as: Cooking, Event

Eat More VegetablesFarmers’ market and CSA season is upon us! Find out what to do with the readily available bounty of veggies from veteran CSA subscriber and food writer Tricia Cornell at The Eating, Reading and Living Well series at the Merriam Park Library on Wednesday, April 4, at 7:00 p.m. The program is presented by the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library and sponsored by Mississippi Market. Tricia will share her new cookbook, Eat More Vegetables: Making the Most of Your Seasonal Produce.

What can you do with all those mustard greens? How about making Midwestern Bibimbap? Tricia’s recipe, below.

Midwestern Bibimbap

My favorite use for pickled mustard greens is in my own simplified version of bibimbap. Classic Korean comfort food, bibimbap is “all mixed up.” It comes to the table as a lovely composition of pickled vegetables and rice, and then the diner gets to do the mixing up. If you’re lucky, a Korean restaurant will serve it in a hot stone bowl—dolsot bibimbap—that cooks the rice and egg to form a tasty crunchy crust on the bottom. Many versions include sautéed beef or chicken, but for a quick supper for one, I stick with just the egg.

1 cup cooked brown rice

¼ cup pickled mustard greens

¼ cup finely grated carrot

¼ cup bean sprouts

¼ cup steamed spinach, squeezed dry

1 egg

hoisin sauce, optional

Place rice in a deep, single-serving bowl. Arrange vegetables in wedge shapes on top. Fry egg sunny-side up. Slide it onto your pile of vegetables and stir with chopsticks or fork, breaking up the yolk. Add hoisin sauce to taste, if desired. Serves 1.

Pickled Mustard Greens

At my local markets, these beloved Hmong greens (zaub ntsuab) are labeled “mustard greens,” “mustard cabbage,” “bamboo cabbage,” and about a half a dozen other things. Look for long, thin, dark green leaves with relatively thick stems and tiny yellowish flower buds. They are among the first green things to show up in the market and are available well into the fall. They’re great in a stir-fry, and their slightly bitter flavor works well with all kinds of pork.

This is a fermented pickle that will keep in the refrigerator for several months (this recipe has not been tested for home canning).

4 cups water

2 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 dried red pepper

1 large bunch mustard greens, rinsed, dried, and cut into 1-inch pieces (to yield 4 cups)

Mix together first 4 ingredients (water through pepper), being sure to dissolve sugar and salt. Stir in mustard greens. Place mixture in a scrupulously clean opaque bowl and cover with a plate, weighted down if necessary. You don’t want an airtight seal, but you do want to be sure that all of the mustard greens stay submerged. (A pickling crock is, of course, ideal, but you can approximate one with a bowl and plate.) Keep in a cool, dark place for 3 days. Transfer to jars with tight-fitting lids and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. Makes about 4 cups.

Do You Watch Mad Men?

Posted byAlison Aten on 22 Mar 2012 | Tagged as: Cooking

Screen shot of “Mad Men: The Game” (The Fine Brothers - Via YouTube)Today’s blog post is by Ann L. Burckhardt, a former reporter, columnist, and editor for the Taste section of the Star Tribune.  She has written or edited over twenty-five books on food, including the original edition of the popular Betty Crocker Cooky Book as well as A Cook’s Tour of Minnesota and Hot Dish Heaven.

Many thanks to the creators of the marvelous Mad Men series for focusing attention on the 1960s, sometimes called the Soaring Sixties.  In the early part of the decade, especially, our country’s optimism was soaring and Americans were merrily buying houses and cars and having babies.

My own memories of the era are clear. Married three years, we bought a house in 1960. It was a bungalow with a well-equipped kitchen just steps from the dining end of the living room.  At last I could entertain friends for dinner, something impossible in our previous home, an apartment with a kitchen I could barely turn around in.

Also in 1960, I was promoted to Cookbook Editor at Betty Crocker Kitchens, General Mills, Inc. I traveled to national meetings , which featured one groaning board after another as new products by the likes of Kraft  and General Foods  were presented. Best of all was my annual trip to New York City to approve the pages of the latest cookbook before it went to press. The editors took it upon themselves to introduce this daughter of small-town Iowa to the best of New York’s eateries—on the expense account, of course. Most spectacular was the fabled Forum of the Twelve Caesars.

My then-husband and I formed a  gourmet dinner club with three other couples. Not gourmets in the caviar-on-toast sense, we savored an excellent meal and squeezed our budgets to sample the foreign (German and French) food at well-known downtown restaurants. The club met every third month, with one pair hosting a sit-down dinner: crystal, china, the works. Unlike Don Draper and friends, we served neither pre-dinner cocktails nor wine with dinner. The hosts prepared the main course; others filled out the meal: appetizer, vegetable and/or salad, and dessert. The main course was often a nice big roast. Vegetables were gussied up with sauces. Whipped cream–laden desserts were the climax.

Dinners for four or six at home alternated with potluck suppers at our church and with coworkers at our local theater group. We sought potluck recipes that were economical while being portable, hot dishes we could keep warm in a low oven (this being pre-microwave days) til serving time.

Occasionally, on weekends, there were luncheons planned to fete a bride-to-be or an expectant mother. At these, we served what the men (not included!) called “ladies food.” This meant ribbon sandwiches, creamy mixtures in ramekins, fancy salads, fruit in melon boats, tiny tarts or petit fours, and cups and cups of tea.

For a taste of the sixties, please try these two recipes from my Hot Dish Heaven, one of the 2006 New York Times notable holiday cookbooks.

Hot Dish Heaven by Ann L. Burckhardt

Squash Gourmet

A delicious vegetable for a dinner of roast beef, pork, or chicken.

Hubbard squash large enough to provide 2 cups cubed squash

¼ cup sliced green onions, including some green tops

2 to 3 tablespoons cream or milk

1 cup sour cream

salt and pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut squash in half; remove seeds and pith. Bake squash cut side down in shallow pan 45 to 60 minutes or until fork tender but not soft. Remove squash skin and cut into 1-inch cubes; store rest of squash for later use. Place squash cubes in 1-quart casserole.  Sprinkle with onions. Stir cream into sour cream to thin it. Pour cream mixture over squash; toss to distribute evenly. Season with salt and pepper. Bake uncovered 20 to 25 minutes, until steaming hot. Makes 4 servings.

Ladies-Who-Lunch Hot Salad

Perfect for a shower or bridge party or your own “Return of the Mad Men Series” viewing party.

1 cup real mayonnaise

1 tablespoon lemon juice

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups chopped cooked turkey or chicken

2 cups chopped celery

1 cup toasted bread cubes

½ cup sliced water chestnuts, optional

½ cup slivered almonds

¼ cup diced onion

crushed corn flakes or Wheaties for topping

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, and salt; mix well. Combine the turkey, celery, bread cubes, water chestnuts (if using), almonds, and onion in a large mixing bowl; add mayonnaise mixture and toss well. Transfer mixture to a buttered 1 ½-quart casserole dish. Sprinkle crushed cereal around periphery of the dish. Bake uncovered 40 minutes, until hot through. Makes 6 lady-like servings.

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