Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Food Find: Unpeeled Kombucha

Okay. So part of the appeal (pun intended) of this kombucha is that it is locally made right here in the Twin Cities. The other part? Unlike the other commercially bottled kombucha out there, this one is as smooth as a baby's bottom and does not have the vinegary bite that some folks dislike. Now, I happen to like the bubbles + bite in the GT Dave's version, but this 'unpeeled kombucha' has won me over with it's drinkability and lovely ginger flavor.

Give it a try yourself at Linden Hills CoOp, Midtown Produce Exchange, Seward CoOp and other
fine stores near you. You'll be glad you did!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Method: Pickling

I usually start the week with an ingredient, but after a recent pickling pursuit I felt compelled to share! Our CSA boxes are getting bigger and bigger! It's great, but it also means either some really strange meals to use up all of the veggies or finding a way to preserve them. So on a tip from several fellow Cooking Away My CSA-ers, I decided to try my hand at refrigerator pickles. I didn't want to monkey around with the whole canning process. This method was fast, easy, little clean-up and I'll be able to try my pickles in just a week (if I can last that long).

I used a brine recipe from David Lebovitz. It's a very versatile little brine, too. Once you've got the basics down you can improvise 'til your heart is content. Basically it is equal parts water to vinegar with some sugar, salt and seasonings thrown in. That's where you can go wild!

Originally used to pickle jalepenos, I used it to pickle green beans (with a hot pepper thrown in), zucchini, red cabbage and cucumbers.

Here is David's basic recipe, and I'll let you know how they turned out soon!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Food Find: La Belle Crepe

Nestled in the lower floor of the Medical Arts Building in Downtown Minneapolis, right next to Zelo, is the epitome of the adage 'good things come in small packages'. La Belle Crepe is a gem of restaurant offering 'healthy fast food'. The owner, Alain Lenne, has an extensive background in fine dining and hails from France...which explains the ease with which he works the crowd.

The crepes are divine! I enjoyed a Smoked Salmon Crepe on a recent visit. With smoked salmon and capers, I was a little concerned it may be too salty, but Alain pairs it with goat cheese, fennel and a little apple that brightens up the whole taste. By the time he came around the crowded patio to check on me, my plate was clean. I didn't lick it, but I thought about it.

During the warm months, La Belle Crepe has sidewalk seating which makes for a great bistro setting and fantastic people watching along Nicollet Mall. The restaurant itself is a tiny, slip of a walk-up more suited for take-out in the winter months. They do have a bar for eating inside, but it quickly becomes crowded. My favorite thing about visiting in winter, though, is the sidewalk window where you can watch them make crepes through the steam. It warms me right up, and then I go in for a dessert crepe and coffee. Truly heavenly.

If you haven't visited, do. You won't be disaapointed. Just make sure to visit in both summer AND winter to get the full effect.

La Belle Crepe
825 Nicollet Mall #100
Minneapolis, MN

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ingredient: Yogurt

n. [yoh-gert] cultured milk with a custard like consistency

Okay, this might not seem like the sexiest of ingredients, but I have come to appreciate all that yogurt can do in the kitchen. First off, let's cut to the chase. You need to use full fat, plain yogurt when cooking. You just do. It holds up better to heat and provides the fat that most dishes need to taste yummy. So, get over the fat-free stuff. It doesn't fill you up when you eat it by itself, and it's not going to do the job in the kitchen.

Now that we have that out of the way, here are some fantastic uses for yogurt in cookery....

baked goods (can replace some liquid and the fat)

dressings (better than mayo as a base)

sauces (creams up a sauce nicely)
marinades (acts as a tenderizer for meats and keeps them moist, even while grilling)

smoothies (duh)

So, start experimenting with yogurt in your kitchen and let me know what you think. I'll be posting a recipe on Friday for one of my favorite ways to use yogurt. BTW, last Friday's recipe was for an
Indian Yogurt Dressing that is sooo good!

Recipe: Indian Yogurt Dressing

This quick little dressing is refreshing and easy. Perfect to use on top of roasted veggies or a green salad. I used it most recently on some roasted CSA beets + cauliflower. I also like it as a dip for the pedestrian carrot. :-)

Indian Yogurt Dressing

makes about 1 cup

3/4C whole milk plain yogurt (European or Greek style)

1/4C cucumber, finely diced

2T red onion, finely diced

1t Garam Masala

2T olive oil

salt + pepper

stir all ingredients together until incorporated

season to taste with salt + pepper

refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before serving to allow flavors to mingle!

Copyright 2009, Molly L. Herrmann

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Food Find: La Vida Local Salsa Contest

If you're in the Twin Cities tomorrow evening, head over to Linden Hills Co-Op for music and fun at Linden Hills Livefrom 6:30-9PM! Most importantly, they will be having a local salsa contest (for eating...not dancing). And guess who gets to be a judge and taste all that yummy salsa-ness? Me! Well, I'm pretty excited. :-)

Click here for info on
Linden Hills Live and the La Vida Local Salsa Contest. Judging starts at 7PM. Hope to see you there!

Ingredient: Beets!

n. [beet] the edible root and leaves of the biennial crop plant

Beets are here! We just enjoyed some nice red beets from our CSA box. Beets can be a bit divisive on the veggie front, although I think that folks that don't like them have never had them cooked properly. They are delicious and nutritious, being high in folate, manganese and potassium. They do have a high sugar content (the most of any vegetable), but remain low calorie. Several studies have also proven them to be effective in fighting heart disease, cancer and inflammation.

Beet greens are often overlooked, but as with their cousing Swiss Chard, they can be eaten in a variety of ways including raw. I recently added to some to a stir-fry with excellent results!

As for the beets themselves, I prefer them roasted. And for our dragon-slayer 3 year old, they have become 'Roasted Dragon Hearts'. A little disconcerting, but effective.

Simple Roasted Beets

-Pre-heat oven to 450˚
-Remove greens and save for later use. Scrub beets clean, leaving skin intact
-Quarter large beets, halve smaller ones, and place on a baking sheet
-Toss with olive oil, salt + pepper
-Roast for approximately 30 minutes or more, until beets are just tender when pierced with a knife (turn 1-2 times during cooking to ensure even roasting)
-Remove from oven and let beets cool
-Once cool enough to handle, use a paring knife to remove softened skin
-Use the beets as a side dish, in salads or even in ice cream!

I like to use them in a salad, topped with an Indian Yogurt Dressing. I'll post the recipe on Friday!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Recipe: CSA Veggie Sauté in PIta

All of our yummy CSA vegetables from Driftless Organics have inspired some new, quick lunch options for me. This is a tasty one for anytime of the day, just add eggs for breakfast or your favorite protein for a heartier meal.

Veggie Sauté in Pita

serves 1-2

1 purple potato, small dice

1 spring onion, sliced

1 small stalk broccoli, chopped including stem

1 handful chrysanthemum greens


olive oil

salt + pepper
feta cheese

-in a cast iron skillet or large frying pan, heat a small amount of olive oil
-add onion + potato, stirring to coat in oil and cook for about 2 minutes
-add brocooli, stir to coat and cook for about 2 more minutes or until veggies are just tender, adding a little water if necessary to keep from burning/sticking
-add chrysanthemum greens and toss to wilt
-remove from heat
-season with salt + pepper and a squeeze of lemon

-add feta cheese and stuff into halved pita pockets

Copyright 2009, Molly L. Herrmann

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Food Find: Serrated Peeler

'Tis the season for this little gem of a gadget! I didn't even know it existed until a couple of months ago, when I found out that the serrated peeler is THE perfect tool to peel butternut squash. Know what else it's really good at peeling? Peaches. Nectarines. Plums. Even tomatoes. Takes the skin off likes it's butter. Try it for your next stone fruit cobbler or tomato coulis. Or just for kicks... if you go for that sort of thing.

I found my Zyliss Serrated Peeler at The Produce Exchange in the Midtown Global Market, but there are many brands widely available.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Ingredient: Chrysanthemum Greens

n. [kri-san-thuh-muhm] edible leaves + stems of the garland chrysanthemum plant; popular in Asian cooking; also known as edible chrysanthemum or chop suey greens.

Who knew? A friend gave me a bag of chrysanthemum greens that had been passed to her by a neighboring gardener. Chrysanthemum greens? Hmmm. I didn't know they were edible. Turns out they are pretty tasty and easy to use.
The leaves are small and tender, and must be used before the plant has flowered. Once it has bloomed, the leaves become bitter. Chrysanthemum greens have a nice herbaceous zing when eaten raw, and turn slightly nutty once cooked.
I popped a handful on top of a pita with pesto + goat cheese for a tasty grilled supper.

NOTE: do not use ornamental chrysanthemum greens from the plant your mother gave you. These are not edible. the 'garland' variety is what you need. this has been a public service annoucement. :-)