April 23, 2011

Crispin Union

Congratulations to my friends at 
Crispin Cider & Fox Barrel Cider 
on the union of two great flavors: 
apple and pear. 

Crispin Union was released to celebrate the wedding of 
Prince William & Kate Middleton. 

It is a limited edition.

April 22, 2011

Minnesota Food Bloggers at The Local

Tuesday night I attended my first event with the Minnesota Food Bloggers.   Our host, The Local, an Irish Pub on Nicollet Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. I wasn't too sure what to expect, but enjoyed it from the moment I walked in the door.

Greeted with a sample of 2 Gingers Whiskey. It was mixed with ginger ale and a refreshing way to start my evening.  I look forward to finding it on the shelf of my liquor store. Later in the evening Kieran Folliard,  owner of  The Local, Kieran’s, The Liffey, and Cooper Pub, spoke to the group.  Kieran told us that his pubs were the #1 account for Jameson whiskey in the world and he created 2 Gingers as very own whiskey.  I am a fan of Jameson, now 2 Gingers is on my whiskey drinking list.  

As the food arrived around the room I noticed no one touched it until it was photographed by members.  The food was a sampling of The Local's menu, but far from typical bar fare.  Mike Phillips of Green Ox Meat and the chef of the Local provided a wonderful combination of charcuterie (the art of making sausages and other cured, smoked and preserved meats) that included fennel salami, Genoa salami, collard head, pork terrine, saucisson l'ail, pork rillette, coppa, lomo, and lonza on the charcuterier board as well as cottechino style stuffed pig trotters with hen of the woods mushroom in the stuffing and grilled ramps. One other platter with Jambon de Persille. (Thank you for the list Mike). In addition to the charcuterie were samples from their bar menu including fish and chips; chicken shots, sausage and mash made with their black pepper and leek sausage; house made pretzel rolls, and a mini veggie burger on cucumber. Everything I tasted had incredible flavor, nothing over powered another item.  I cannot say I had a favorite of the evening because I enjoyed it all,  but I will say I am a fan of the meats, oh and the pretzel roll.    

It was a wonderful evening.  I met a lot of great people who blog, tweet and use Facebook; I look forward to following their blogs and meeting up with them again. 

April 20, 2011

New Menus at The Inn

The Inn in Minneapolis launch the new drink menu this week with seven new cocktails.

The Norwegian Sunset  
A Virgin No More 
Carthusian Swede 
Irish Lassie 
What's Under Your Kilt 
Compass Rose #1 
Diego Vega

    I have tried four of the seven and none of them disappoint.  I cannot pick a favorite because they are all uniquely different in flavors. 
    • Carthusian Swede - This bubbly cocktail includes the aromatic flavor of Thyme.
    • Irish Lassie - It's made with Jameson Irish Whiskey (that should tell you it is great), but Jesse adds in Aperol, Cocchi Americano, Orange Mist and Bolivar Bitters to make this Irish cocktail that isn't just for St. Patty's.
    • Compass Rose #1 - Gin, Elderflower and a house made Blood Orange cordial are just a few of the flavors in the Compass Rose #1. You will also enjoy a spritz of Rosewater and grapefruit bitters.  This drink screams Summer.
    • Diego Vega - Every flavor presents itself in this drink and compliments the other ingredients. Mezcal tequila, blackberries, balsamic vinegar and ginger are all flavors you will pick up when you pick up this cocktail. It is one of the few drinks served with ice at The Inn.
    In addition to the cocktails, Chef Tyge Nelson also has changed the dinner menu.  My parents tried the Brandade (a shrimp with saffron type croquet) and loved it.  We all enjoyed the Flatbread (Potato, caramelized onion, Fontina cheese, and mushrooms); I loved the combination of flavors. Tyge also whipped up a few batches tradition bar fare by creating pork rinds.  They were a bit salty, but that is nothing a good cocktail or beer couldn't wash down.

    Best Contemporary Cocktail - 2011

    This award goes to a cocktail at a place I love to go  The Inn in Minneapolis.  Behind the bar I find my Favorite Bartender in the World - Jesse Held.  Also, Tim Leary mixes up wonderful libations in a special glass he reserves just for me.

    Read about the 2011 Best Contemporary Cocktail - Slim Shim

    Pip Hanson - 2011 Best Bartender

    Photo by Chad Larson
    A few years ago I started meeting an incredible group of bartenders.  The guys and gals I met make the best cocktails I have ever drank. You won't find them flipping bottles like Tom Cruise in Cocktail; they are true mixologist. The drinks they make are careful crafted and unique.

    Recently one of guys I met was named Best Bartender by readers of City Pages.

    Way to go Pip!

    April 15, 2011

    Tortillas From Scratch

    I wanted to try making my own tortillas and have found various recipes online.  This recipe made the best ones so far.  These are so easy and I even made them into a baked chip.  Don't worry about making them into a perfect circle, I only can make the circle with my round cookie cutter.  
    What you'll need:

    • 3 cups flour (white or fine ground whole wheat)
    • 6 Tbsp Butter
    • 1 1/4 cups warm water
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1 1/2 tsp salt
    • mixing bowl
    • smooth cutting board
    • 2 Silpats or parchment paper
    • Rolling Pin
    • Large skillet
    • Stove
      • 1
        Melt butter either in the microwave in the mixing bowl, or stove top then add to the mixing bowl.
      • 2
        Add all ingredients to the mixing bowl.
      • 3
        Mix by hand until smooth and no longer sticky. Add more flour if necessary.
      • 4
        Separate into eight equal balls and let set 10 minutes.
      • 5
        One at a time flatten each dough ball between two Silpats on the cutting board, make them as thin as possible without making holes. Try to keep them something resembling round.
      • 6
        Heat the skillet on medium low heat. When skillet is hot, put the flattened dough in the skillet.
      • 7
        Cook approximately 15-25 seconds on each side, until white with a few brown spots. Remove from skillet, and cook the next one.

    Poached Egg with Asparagus


    • Fresh eggs
    • 1 to 2 teaspoons vinegar (rice vinegar works well) (optional)

    • Shallow saucepan with cover
    • Slotted spoon


      1 First bring water in a saucepan to almost boiling. If the water is already boiling, lower the heat until it is no longer boiling. At this point, you can add one or two teaspoons of vinegar to the water, if you want. The vinegar will help the egg whites to congeal more easily. I use rice vinegar.
      poached-eggs-1.jpg poached-eggs-2.jpg
      2 Working with the eggs one by one, crack an egg into a small cup, then place the cup near the surface of the hot water and gently drop the egg into the water. With a spoon, nudge the eggwhites closer to their yolks. This will help the egg whites hold together.
      poached-eggs-3.jpg poached-eggs-4.jpg
      3 Turn off the heat. Cover. Let sit for 4 minutes, until the egg whites are cooked.
      4 Lift eggs out of pan with a slotted spoon.
      One trick to make the eggs stay somewhat contained is to take a ring from a mason jar and place it in the pan. Drop the egg over the mason jar ring and let it settle in the ring, then turn off the heat and cover.  

      I like to serve eggs over asparagus or on toast. I love the asparagus from Schwans because it is easy and the spears are always a nice size.

      April 12, 2011

      Monster Breakfast Bar by Ross Sveback

      Ross is a dear friend.  He is a life-style expert who creates incredible recipes.  Recently, he gave me a sample of his new breakfast bars.  They were a great way to start my day; I enjoyed them as a quick afternoon snack too.  I found when I needed just a little sweet treat a small piece of the breakfast bar satisfied the craving. I am not supposed to eat peanut butter so I am going to make them with almond butter.

      Check out his recipe on his website:  monster-breakfast-bar

      **WARNING** Ross' website is filled with food that you will want to eat right off the screen.  All of the recipes I tried I love and make repeatedly.

      April 7, 2011

      Court Bouillon

      For the Stock:
      2 cups of mesquite or apple wood chips
      1 cup chopped carrot
      1 cup chopped celery
      1 cup chopped onion
      3 cloves garlic, smashed
      1 Tbsp coriander seeds
      1 dried bay leaf
      1 dried chipotle chile, torn
      2 quarts water
      1 Tbsp Kosher or Sea Salt
      1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
      Juice of 1 orange (1/3 cup)
      Juice of 1 lime (1/3 cup)

      Building the Base
      Line the inside of a large pot with foil. Place wood chips in an even layer on the bottom of the pot over high heat.  Cover and wait for chips to smoke about 5 minutes.  Stir chips and let smoke for 1 more minute.

      Add carrot, celery, onion, garlic, corriander, bay leaf and chipotle. Cover and let smoke for 5 minutes.

      Deglaze the pot by adding water, be careful because as the water may sputter. Remove and discard the foil.  Stir mixture to combine. Cover.  Bring stock to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

      Strain stock through a fine mesh sieve (small hole strainer) into a bowl. Discard solids and return stock to the pot over low heat.

      For the court bouillon add salt, vinegar, orange and lime juices to the stock. Stir.

      This smoky stock is great for poaching.  I also used it in my Hominy Hummus.

       (Issue 86) (2011, April). Poaching with Smoke. Cuisine at Home, 86, 19-20.

      April 6, 2011

      Salade de Chevre Chaud (Warm Goat Cheese Salad)

      Makes 1 Serving

      I found this recipe in The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz.  It was the perfect light meal to a long day.  I did modify it slightly.  

      Goat Cheese Toasts
      2 slices of hearty bread.  I used an artisan multi-grain.
      Extra Virgin Olive Oil
      3 ounce round goat cheese

      1/2 tsp red wine or sherry vinegar
      2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
      1/8 tsp Dijon mustard
      Sea Salt
      2 cups Arugula or your preferred greens (stay away from Iceberg lettuce)
      Fresh ground black pepper
      1/4 cup grape tomatoes sliced in half
      Walnut halves, toasted (optional)

      1. Preheat the broiler and set oven rack 4" below heating element.
      2. Brush bread with just enough olive oil to moisten it.  Place goat cheese on bread slice.  Broil on baking sheet in the oven until cheese is soft and a little brown on top.  Approximately 3 to 5 minutes.
      3. While toasts are baking make a vinaigrette in a bowl.  With a fork, stir the vinegar, olive oil, mustard and a pinch of salt.  
      4. Toss greens,  tomato and walnuts in vinaigrette and pile on a plate.  Grind fresh pepper over the top.

      Enjoy with a glass of wine.  I chose a Sauvignon Blanc. 

      April 1, 2011

      Tomato Crisp

      This recipe I first tried with my friend and the recipe creator, Ross Sveback. Ross is a life-style expert that has wonderful recipes on his website www.kon-tent.com. The tomato crisp recipe compliments homemade macaroni and cheese, pasta, chicken or even a simple Caesar salad.   I tested the recipe as a half recipe and it worked just as well as a full recipe.  One other tip:  Because you need red wine, it is a must that you enjoy a glass while you make it, the bottle is already open, right.  Enjoy!!

      Thank you Ross!!!

      As written on www.kon-tent.com

      36 oz cherry tomatoes, halved
      5 garlic cloves, minced
      1 tbsp. capers, rinsed, drained and chopped
      2 tbsp. pepperoncini, minced
      2 tbsp. honey
      2 tsp. dried basil
      3/4 cup red wine

      Combine all ingredients in a medium pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer - allow to simmer for 40 minutes.  While mixture is simmering, make crisp topping.

      Crisp Topping:
      1/2 cup bread crumbs or panko
      1/2 cup rolled oats
      1 1/2 tbsp. flour
      1/2 cup grated Parmesan
      1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
      1 tsp. dried sage
      1/2 tsp. salt
      4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cold and cubed

      Combine all ingredients in bowl and using your hands, work butter into the dry ingredients to create a crumbly mixture.  Set back into refrigerator.

      Preheat oven to 350 degrees and pour filling into a pie dish, then sprinkle with topping.  Bake until the topping is golden brown and bubbling - 15-20 minutes depending on your oven.