Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Minnesota State Fair

Blame it on Saveur’s article on the food culture of celebrated State Fair’s in the USA

I haven’t been to the Minnesota State Fair since I was 16 years old but from “On-A- Stick” to Pommes Frites, I am determined to make up for lost time.

Here are some of the things I intend to consume:

AZ Canteen: The king of Bizarre Foods Andrew Zimmern rolled out a food truck on August 25th at the Minnesota State Fair.

They say they won’t be offering pig’s blood but goat burgers and cabrito sausage (from Pat LaFrieda), plus veal tongue sliders, and pork belly round out their menu.

Ragin' Ankles: Slow-smoked tender pork shanks, crispy fried and tossed in a spicy pineapple rage sauce – a combination of grilled fresh pineapple, habaneros, BBQ sauce, pineapple juice and cayenne.

Lamb Fries: Traditional Middle Eastern dish of lamb testicles (really – am I?) marinated with Holy Land spices. Served grilled with sautéed onions or deep fried in a crumb coating and served with traditional dill sauce.

Duke's Poutine: Freshly cut french fries topped with piping hot gravy and squeaky white cheddar cheese curds. Can't wait to see if these are as good as my homemade.

Classic Walleye Roll: Fresh walleye (A Minnesota tradition) , served chilled “New England-style” with Minnesota wild rice and minced celery. Dusted with Giggles' Campfire Grill special spice blend and served on a butter-toasted brioche bun.

Bacon Ice Cream: Real cooked and candied bacon in ice cream with a hint of maple flavor.
Catch my post next week…10 pound plus and can’t-eat-another-thing-for–a-month from one of the best State Fair in the country.

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

San Francisco Street Food Fest

Cabo San Lucas: A Day At The Beach

A Trip Through San Francisco's Ferry Building

Sunday's At Maxwell Street Market

August Adventures

Maxwell Street and Randolph Street Markets

A week before I went to Cabo San Lucas and San Francisco, I took a quick trip to Maxwell Street and Randolph Street Markets in Chicago. I love these markets so much I’ve become a regular.

Maxwell Street…Sunday Morning Breakfast

Isn’t it fantastic that we no longer have to jump on an airplane just to get great eats?

Maxwell Street is my go to place for a Mexican food fix. In fact, when I eat here for breakfast, I don’t eat the rest of the day.
Did you know that Chicago has the greatest concentration of artisanal tortilla factories in the world and I am trying to recreate one inside my own kitchen? Stay tuned.
Disputing a recent Red Eye article on the best tacos in Chicago, the lines at Rubi’s says it all. Based on the smells alone, I am transported to just about anywhere in Mexico. Their Tacos Al Pastor reminds me of the little stand I use to eat at every Sunday morning outside of Toluca. It’ a place that I still have food dreams about.
Treasure Hunting at Randolph Street
Randolph Street is held once a month. For those who crave a find, I’m sure it’ just doesn’t come around often enough.
I liked the sweeping selection of finds and the fact that it takes an entire day just to explore the outdoor market. In fact, I never go inside anymore.
I’m wasn’t looking for anything in particular but ended up finding three things I just couldn’t live without and since that rarely ever happens these days, Randolph Street is my new favorite place to hunt for one-of-a-kind treasures.
Cabo San Lucas
Cabo is another “leave me here” place. In fact, if I forgot to book a ticket home… no problema! Don’t bother to ship my things. I already have my swimsuit and really, that’s about all you need.
I discovered great food places this time around including the celebrated Edith’s where the fresh grilled lobster melts in your mouth. In fact, everything about this place was five-star and truly the highlight of our Mexican food adventure.
Listen to the locals because everyone who told us about this place absolutely nailed it. It was just a five minute walk from our hotel, Me Cabo where the beach beds came in handy after a 5 course meal at Edith’s.
Speaking of Me Cabo, in my estimation, Medina Beach is still the only place to stay in Cabo. There are so many distractions here you can literally be side tracked with the blink of an eye.
No worries though…it will always take you somewhere that delivers yet another perfect adventure.
Ahhhhh….San Francisco
The Ferry Building is a mecca for foodies. The quality of the vendors located inside the building and the Farmer’s Market produce outside are just amazing. I really don’t think that any other location as a whole measures up. In fact, if I lived here, this is where you would find me every Saturday morning.
Now I know what they mean when they talk about California grapes. The grapes I tasted were so full bodied you’re tempted to just pack everything up, buy a vineyard and make wine. Not for anyone else mind you...just for yourself.
Funny, but I wasn’t willing to share my grapes with anyone…and I ALWAYS share.
I’ve come to the conclusions that this is a place where temptations are meant to be surrendered to. Like a $60 bottle of wine. One sip of the Merry Edward 2010 Russian RiverValley Chardonnay Olivet Lane and my name was all over it.
La Cocina’s  San Francisco Street Food Fest
La Cocina
Ask me about a cause that I am passionate about and I will tell you that it is La Cocina.
La Cocina is home to over 30 businesses with a target to nurture low-income food entrepreneurs as they develop and grow their business.
La Cocina supplies inexpensive, commercial kitchen space with full access to both markets and capital. Over 90% of the entrepreneurs are women with 70% of them immigrants.
One particular delight was talking with Adrianna Lahl, owner of Sal de Vida who not only has a thriving food business but also just signed a book deal and is so excited to bring her food to the world. La Cocina has so many success stories like Adrianna’s.
Women like this inspire me to do things in the kitchen that I’ve never done before. For instance, a scoop at the nearby Humphry Slocombe’s Ice Cream and I’m now brave enough to cook ice cream rather than just take the easy way out and make it with cold ingredients. Look for my notes on whipping up a batch of their Malted Milk Ice Cream this weekend.
You’ll hear amazing stories when women who love to cook get together in the kitchen.
SF Street Food Fest
Imagine 85+ vendors and 80,000 people in the six blocks on Folsom between 20th and 26th streets. It was wall-to-wall people but never for a moment felt crowded. More like a large group of friends who gathered for one big progressive dinner.
Celebrated SF restaurants such as the Slanted Door, Flour + Water and State Bird participated in full support of La Cocina.
Because this festival (Named by CNN as one of the top 5 in the world) is held in the Mission District in San Francisco, a quick side trip to see the murals in Balmy alley was a celebrated journey.
I came across this artist while I was taking it all in. It is exhilarating to me that street murals are still a work in progress. Diego Rivera lives on.
Bon Appetit !

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Gone To The Beach. Next Post: August 25th. Happy Summer!

Shorts: Random Summer Ramblings

Bon Appetit!
How I Made It Through My Detox?

Chopsticks…and a whole lot of water…but I am Cabo ready!

My Favorite Summer Meal:

I’ve had my fair share of BBQ this summer so it was time to change it up.

Sliced fresh tomatoes, avocado and mozzarella. Topped with vinegar and oil, toasted croutons and threads of green onions.

And what better pairing than fresh, King crab legs. And a cold glass of wine.

Lemon Yogurt
I had never been a huge fan of Greek yogurt until I added a tablespoon of lemon curd. It totally changed the taste. Now, I eat it regularly and even use it plain to top a baked potato instead of sour cream.

Cold Coffee

Summer is a great time for iced coffee.
La Colombe steeps coffee for 16 hours in stainless steel wine tanks, presses and then filters it twice. Pure Black is an observance of the culinary flavors of coffee - cocoa.

You’ve got to be a coffee junkie though because it is really strong.

I’ve made so many buttercream recipes I get them mixed up. I liked this one but I’m still searching for “the one” that tastes just like Angel Food Bakery’s.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1 cup butter softened
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon milk 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1/8 teaspoon salt

In a bowl combine butter, sugar and salt. Beat till blended.

Add the milk and vanilla and beat for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until smooth and creamy.

Speaking of perfect cupcakes, I use fruit to make them a lot more interesting to look at...and photograph.

Skinny Cookies

When it comes to chocolate chip cookies I have one rule. Thin in the summer and thick in the winter.
Lemon Posset

In honor of the Olympics, I whipped up this easy English Posset. This was really delightful spread between super thin Ginger cookies.
1 cup thick cream
4 tablespoons sugar
juice and zest of 1 large lemon
Bring cream, sugar and lemon zest to boil in a pan, making sure all the sugar is dissolved. Whisk in the lemon juice and strain into two cups or ramekins. Chill overnight or for at least 4 hours.
A lot of people love bread and wine. Me – I’m stuck on popovers and wine.
Winter Warm Me Up…
Enjoy a martini in the summer by shaking it with a lot of ice before you pour. Conclusion: When you’re in the mood, a martini tastes good no matter what the season.
I’ve been using agave nectar to sweeten a lot of things these days. It has none of the bitter aftertaste associated with artificial sweeteners and is also much healthier for you.
I used a combination of pineapple and orange juice to give this drink some additional flavor.
The mix of salt and chili on the rim really made the look of the drink and gave me a lot of ideas for rimming a glass for a favorite summer drink.

Coarse salt
Chili powder
1 c. tequila
1 c. pineapple juice
1/2 c. fresh lime juice
1 1/2 Tbsp. agave nectar

Rub the rims of 4 glasses with lime then dip in coarse salt mixed with chili powder.
In a martini shaker, add ice. Pour tequila, pineapple juice, lime juice and agave over the top. Shake and strain into glasses.
Summer Rolls
Vietnamese-influenced summer rolls are stuffed with cooked shrimp and abundance of fresh herbs and vegetables. I serve them with a spicy, peanut sauce and make the recipe up as I go along.
Fruity Tea Soda – Instead of Pop

I used this drink as a stand-in for a cocktail when I was on my detox. I got so use to drinking this that it’s now my first choice if I am in the mood for a special mocktail.
Other tea flavor infusions to consider: mint, cranberry, strawberry, blackcurrant, chamomile, or lemon.
Steep 2 tea bags of your favorite herbal tea in 3 cups of boiling water. Chill.
Add 1 cup of sparkling mineral or soda water.

Salted Caramel Milkshake

I never thought to mix tequila with ice cream before. Don’t know why because I love them both. The dash of caramel was just enough sweetness to make this drink divine.  
My new favorite Ice Cream drink!
1 cup vanilla ice cream
1/3 cup prepared dulce de leche or caramel sauce
1 shot tequila (preferably anejo or reposado)
Whipped cream, sea salt and/or candied orange peel, for garnish
Blend the ice cream, dulce de leche, tequila and 3 ice cubes in a blender on medium speed until thick and smooth. Divide among small glasses. Top with whipped cream, sea salt and/or candied orange peel.

Spicy Bloody Mary With Dilly Beans

I’m not really into Bloody Mary’s because I’ve always found them to be so heavy. I liked this one though with the combination of the tomato juice and V8.

After my detox, I also enjoyed the heavy garnish of vegetables.

2 ½ cups tomato juice, chilled
2 ½ cups vegetable juice cocktail, chilled
3 Tbsp celery salt
pinch ground black pepper
1 Tbsp prepared horseradish
½ tsp Tabasco
2 tsp Worcestershire
¼ cup lime juice
1 Tbsp fresh grated Horseradish
1 ½ cups vodka

Garnish: String on a pick:
Lemon wedge
Bread and butter Pickle
Pickled Onion
Put dilly beans in glass

In a cocktail pitcher, mix ingredients. Add vodka and ice. Pour over ice (don’t strain it) into a celery salt-rimmed rocks glass and garnish with pickled green beans.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Detox – The Second Time Around

I’ve always said that I don’t believe in fad diets. I guess I’ll have to eat my words although I’m not sure they are on my OK TO EAT LIST.

It’s been two years since I last detoxed and frankly, I was ready so don’t look for any recipes this next week. I’m already at Day 11 – the final day.
Day 8 remained the toughest day of all with nothing but liquids. Many people say it’s spiritual. I was glad to survive it because last time it was sheer torture. This time around?... unexpectedly easy. In fact, I feel fantastic.
They say the belly rules the mind but I’m not so sure. I’m convinced that 90% of this was mental.
I didn’t miss the wine, the bread or the sweets this time. What I missed the most was cooking and sharing my table with friends.This past week has been a solitary existence and food becomes just another meal unless you have someone to share it with.

I must admit that after 10 days of eating nothing but raw vegetables and fruits and a day on juice and water, everything tastes magnificently like bacon.
There. I just said the B word and I’m hungry already.
Bon Appetit!

Food Scene -Minneapolis

A short weekend in Minneapolis and I had to check out the food scene because Food and Wine named Minneapolis as it’s favorite new food city.

I knew I wanted to eat at World Kitchen. This truck is a total assault on the senses. The Yum-Yum Rice Bowl is a mix of chicken or vegetables cooked in a Korean style served over steamed rice, Chinese broccoli, shitake mushrooms, soft cooked egg, aromatic herbs, peanuts, crispy onion, sesame and secret sauce. It was one of the best street food dishes that I have ever eaten anywhere, ever! I am now fixed on finding a recipe.
World Street Kitchen (WSK) is the offspring of the team( brothers Saed and Sameh Wadi) behind the critically-acclaimed Saffron Restaurant & Lounge.
Also worth a mention is Dandelion Kitchen, where owner ‘s Natalie Coleman. and Alexander Brand offer fresh, made -from -scratch offerings and use only local farmers and vendors. Dandelion started the whole food truck revolution in downtown Minneapolis.
Angel Food Bakery

Part of Hell’s Kitchen, this bakery serves up gorgeous cupcakes and you can even watch as they prepare them. They have an assortment of goodies including cookies,croissants, and craft breads.
The most difficult part of the visit? Deciding which cupcake to get because all of them looked off the chart.
Minneapolis and St. Paul’s Farmers Markets

I love both these markets. Ask me to pick one? Impossible!
St Paul: The market is LOCAL - 100% of everything sold is grown within 50 to 70 miles of St Paul. The market appears to have a better selection of produce (and prices) than Minneapolis. Score one for the goods at this market.
Minneapolis: Has a wide variety of vendors and products and tremendous spots for eating which is totally absent at the St Paul market. I liked the feel and the vibe of this market.
Any way you look at it, Minneapolis has an impressive food scene just keeps getting better.
Bon Appetit!