Monday, November 29, 2010

Butternut, Sausage and Brie Wontons - "Turkey Day Wontons"

I made these tasty little things for Drinksgiving, an annual party held the night before Thanksgiving. I took 50 of them with me and they all disappeared, so consider making extras if there will be a large group.

2 Butternut Squash
2 T Maple Syrup
1 handful Pecans
2 Potatoes - boiled and peeled
Pinch of Ground Cinnamon
6 Links Spicy Turkey Sausage (or pork)
1 Egg - whisked in a small bowl with a splash of water
Wonton Wraps
Oil for frying

Step One - Preparing the ingredients

Preheat oven to 400°F.

I like to cut the squash into manageable pieces before I peel it. To do this, I lay the squash on it's side and cut the ends off. Then cut it in half, across the equator.

Stand the squash up, half at a time, and using a peeler or a knife, remove the outside skin of the butternut.

Cut each half in half again, this time cutting down lengthwise. This will expose the seeds. Remove them with a spoon, and discard.

Next, dice the meat of the squash into about one inch pieces. Repeat this process with the other squash.

Once all of the squash is diced, toss it in a bowl with the syrup, EVOO, and s/p. Then, evenly spread the butternut out onto two half sheet pans.

Place the pans in the oven and roast, turning once or twice, till the squash is very tender, but not brown. Your fork should easily mash a piece.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Review - Brasa

Brasa - Minneapolis
600 E. Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55414

Brasa - Saint Paul
777 Grand Avenue
St. Paul, MN. 55105

Tony and I have been known to eat at Brasa more than once a week. It's our "fast food". We don't just eat there a lot because it's fast, that's just a perk. We eat at Brasa because the food has never let us down. It's always made with fresh ingredients and it warms me from the inside.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tip - How to Cut an Onion

This is the quickest way that I have found to dice an onion. It also causes the least amount of tears.

I call the top of the onion the half that the stem grew up from. The bottom is where the roots grow out.

1. Peel the onion.

2. Cut the onion straight through the top and bottom. You should have half of the root on each side.

3. Place the onion in the freezer. If you're only using half of the onion for your recipe, store half in the fridge for a later use.

4. After a few minutes, take half of the onion out of the freezer.

5. Place it flat side down on a cutting board.

6. With a sharp knife, cut the top tip off of the onion.

7. Hold your knife parallel to the cutting board.

8. Slice horizontally through the onion from the top towards the roots, but not through them.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Orzo and Beans in Chunky Veg Sauce with Chipotle Gouda

I used left over veg sauce that I made a day or two earlier to make this quick lunch.

1 can Red Beans - drained (use any bean you want)
3 palm fulls of Orzo (I have small hands)
1 T butter or EVOO (optional)
Chunky Vegetable Sauce (or any sauce you have on hand)
Chipotle Gouda - shredded (or any cheese that melts well)

Cook pasta in a large pot of heavily salted water till it's almost cooked.
Drain pasta.
Return it to the pot.
Add butter/oil if using.
Stir in beans.
Add sauce to taste - I don't like it too runny, so I add a little at a time just till all of the pasta and beans are nice and wet.
Heat through.
Taste (don't burn your tongue).
Season with s/p if needed.
Stir in a hand full cheese.
Spoon onto dishes and sprinkle with more cheese.

Serve with a salad or slaw and bread.

If you don't want a vegetarian meal, top the orzo with grilled steak, chicken, or shrimp. I don't think it's needed because the beans add enough protein for one meal. But, you should do what ever makes you happy.

You can also substitute cooked rice, polenta or another grain for a gluten free dish.

Bon appetit!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Vegetable Stock

People keep asking me how to make stock, but they just stare blankly at me when I tell them. So, here it is. Just as easy as I said it would be.

Vegetable stocks do not need to cook as long as meat ones. It only takes about half an hour to make a nice flavorful veggie stock.

1. Put all the veggies, bay leaf and sturdy (or dried) herbs in a pot.
2. Cover with water.
3. Season with s/p. Try different peppers; black, white, or red.
4. Bring to a boil.
5. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Add tender herbs and cook for another 10-15 minutes.
7. Taste. Add more s/p if needed.
8. Strain into a large bowl, pushing all of the liquid out of the veggies.
9. Throw the vegetables away.
10. Store or use your stock.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Food Pics - B

New Years Day Dinner

Tea Sandwiches

Apple and Peanut Butter Wraps

Kale and White Beans tossed in Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper (Ready to Roast)

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells served with Beans and Kale over Tomato Sauce

My Friends

Friday, November 12, 2010

Chunky Vegetable Sauce

The uses of this sauce are as versatile as the veggies that can be put in it. Use whatever you have on hand, or use what you like best.

Celery Heart
3 Carrots
1 Yellow Bell Pepper
1 Leek - white part only - sliced and cleaned
4-5 garlic cloves
1 Yellow Squash
1 Zucchini
7 small Tomatoes
Vegetable Stock
1 T Tomato Paste
1 T Red Wine Vinegar
1 T Worcestershire Sauce
Fresh Basil - or any fresh herbs

Dice all of the vegetables except the sliced leeks and the tomatoes.

Peel the tomatoes.

Separate the tomatoes into two parts, blend one of them with a little veg stock and cut the other into large pieces. Set aside.

Heat oil and butter in a sauce pan over medium heat.

Test the oil by throwing one small piece of onion in it. If it sizzles, the oil is hot.

Add the celery, carrot, and pepper. Cook for a minute or two.

Stir in the leeks and garlic, season with salt.

Cook for another two minutes or till the veggies are soft and sweating.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Polenta is a simple dish made by cooking cornmeal in water. After it's cooked, you can add any flavors that you like to it. Fresh herbs and Parmesan cheese are traditional, but jalapeño and cheddar, or asparagus and lemon zest would also be great flavors to add. Let your imagination run free.

Instead of serving the polenta freshly cooked, you can chill it, slice it and then fry it up. Yumm! It will have a nice crispy fried outside that holds the creamy filling in. Fried polenta is great with any sauce and can be made without the flour coating for a gluten free dish. The polenta slices can also be grilled, if you're outside, or not into fried food.

Basic Recipe
6 C Water
2 t Salt
1 3/4 C Cornmeal
2 T Butter

White Pepper
Oil for frying

Bring water to a boil. Add salt.

Slowly pour in the cornmeal while continually whisking.

Once all of the meal is mixed in and there are no lumps, lower the heat.

Switch to a wooden spoon and stir often, cooking for 10-20 minutes.

The cornmeal will be cooked and thick when it's done. (Your spoon should leave a trail behind it in the pan.)

Finish with butter and your choice of seasonings. You can also add cheese or cream to the polenta, if serving it soft (not fried).

The polenta is now ready to eat, or you can continue on and make fritas.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Food Pics - A

I just want to post some pictures of food that I've made, but didn't write down any instructions for. Most were taken with our old camera, so the quality may not be the best. Perhaps one of theses dishes will inspire you're next home cooking experiment.

Grilled Artichoke and Bread with Hollandaise

Mexican Style Chicken Soup with Soda Bread and Herb Butter

Yellowfin, Braised Brussel Sprouts, and Potatoes with Au Jus

Mini Butternut Squash and Asparagus Tamales

Corn Cakes

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tip - How to Peel and Seed a Tomato

If you cook tomatoes in a sauce with their skins on, the skin will just slip off as it cooks. You end up with tough ribbons of skin. If you peel and seed the tomato first, you'll have a smoother, more elegant sauce.

This is what you'll need:

Pot of boiling water
Slotted Spoon
Ice bath (a bowl of ice water)
Pairing knife (optional)

Review II - Sea Salt Eatery

Sea Salt Eatery
4801 Minnehaha Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55417
(612) 721-8990 ‎

*Update - Sea Salt Eatery is now open for spring and summer! 04/07/11 - 10/30/11*

We ate dinner a Sea Salt yesterday, our first visit of the year. I was happy to see a short line but then disappointed when I saw that the whole fried fish special that I read about on line was sold out. The line was moving fast and my decision making skills had to keep up. Tony and I quickly decided to share the Fried Fish Tacos (two for $5) and the Crab Cake Basket (1 for $11).

The fish had a crispy batter filled with steaming flaky white fish. Each piece of fish was served on two grilled corn tortillas with sauce, onion and cilantro. I gave Tony my cilantro, it's not my thing. I did really enjoyed the grilled tortillas, the char was excellent and so is the price of these tasty tacos!

The crab cake had lots of large chunks of crab meat with a nice proportion of breading, vegetable and crab. The basket included slaw, corn salad/relish and melon. Only the cake was spectacular, I think I would prefer two à la carte crab cakes over the basket if that was an option. Ummm a crab cake taco would be good, maybe I should drop Sea Salt a line.

It was great to sit outside again and enjoy a cold beverage without shivering. The winter was long and all the snow that collected has melted and is now flying over the falls and down the river. It's a great sight to see! I'm looking forward to many more tasty visits to the Sea Salt Eatery and Minnehaha Falls this summer!